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Author Topic: The infamous MANUAL TO CONVERT ORTHODOX to Protestantism  (Read 61153 times) Average Rating: 0
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Liz
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« Reply #450 on: December 14, 2009, 01:32:13 PM »

Wow, this is an old thread! I understand why you want to share your experience, it sounds wonderful. But, while personally I'm with you and happy not to know the meaning of everything, this doesn't really help us with a basic problem. You say you'd have been ok following the liturgy without help, but since you did have help, you can't be sure, can you? Besides which, you were formerly a Protestant, and you are (obviously) a reasonably educated, intelligent person. All of this may well have given you the tools for understanding. But not everyone is in that situation, and I am sure there are people who react badly to incomprehension. Maybe those people aren't naturally inclined to Orthodoxy anyway. But, I know lots of people (partly because my mum teaches people who've had bad experiences of the education system) who are very apprehensive or defensive about things they can't immediately understand. Because they've come to associate not understanding quickly with being a failure, they don't want any more to do with it.

So, what might be a wonderful mystery for me or for you, could strike them as oppressive before they really got the chance to appreciate that this kind of incomprehension isn't a test. I don't know what the solution is, but I can understand and appreciate David's concern about people.

To be brutally honest, Orthodoxy is not here to "be easy" to potential converts. For those who have the eyes to see, let them see. If their heart is open to the Truth, then they will ask to be received. That doesn't mean they will understand everything or be entirely comfortable. But that is not what the Church asks. The Church does not ask everyone who enters into Her to be a Master of Dogmatic Theology, or an expert in Liturgics or Chant. She asks that they take up their Cross and follow Christ. I would think that for those who have found the Truth that they sought, having to deal with a foreign language/sore feet/mysterious services/"oppressiveness" would be a small price to pay.

We should have our doors open yes, but we should never change for those outside our walls.

.

Hmm. But you speak as if someone who knows nothing about Orthodoxy, and who feels moved to investigate, should instantly recognize the rightness of the faith. It would be lovely if everyone did, but don't you worry that you lose some people who, perhaps for the want of a few words addressed to them, feel too shy to go on? And what about those people who don't immediately ask to be received or feel certain they have found the One True Church? Those people whose journey into Orthodoxy is made up of doubting, trying something else, coming back, doubting again, finally finding faith - is their faith worth less that someone who immediately understands that they must 'take up the Cross and follow Christ'. If not, then is it wrong to wish the journey could be made a little easier for them? You see to be making a virtue of difficulty.


That actually happens fairly often. People recognize Real Worship when they see it. Mystical experiences are not based so much on understanding or calculation but rather humbleness before God Almighty.

 Keep in mind the different paradigms we operate under. To us the Church is like a Hospital where you are healed, not so much a courtroom where you strike a deal or make a contract. If you are about to form a contract, you better understand all the fine print. If you are going someplace for therapy or to be treated, you trust the Doctor and then allow him to work on you.

Well, good to know that people do recognize it Smiley

With this topic, I just find myself exploring ideas about how and why people come to faith, not necessarily feeling that I know the answers.

Btw, we don't think of the Church as a courtroom, either. It is part hospital, part family, part all sorts of other things, but never, I think, a place to make deals. I don't think we operate under different paradigms here.
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« Reply #451 on: December 14, 2009, 04:16:55 PM »

or speaking Gheg.

An impenetrable tongue. I have sometimes listened to tapes of Chaucer read with Middle English pronunciation, whilst driving round in the car, and hearing Geg is like that: you know what language it is from the number of isolated words you pick up, but they are not enough for it to make continuous sense.

(A bit like an Orthodox liturgy in a way, judging by some of the posts: after an hour or two of listening to Chaucer, you feel you have followed the gist of the story, but you can't really say how.)
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« Reply #452 on: December 14, 2009, 04:51:27 PM »

or speaking Gheg.

An impenetrable tongue. I have sometimes listened to tapes of Chaucer read with Middle English pronunciation, whilst driving round in the car, and hearing Geg is like that: you know what language it is from the number of isolated words you pick up, but they are not enough for it to make continuous sense.

(A bit like an Orthodox liturgy in a way, judging by some of the posts: after an hour or two of listening to Chaucer, you feel you have followed the gist of the story, but you can't really say how.)

Ah well ... the truly saved do all speak Middle English, David, it's clear that's where you're falling down ...
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« Reply #453 on: December 14, 2009, 05:32:58 PM »

or speaking Gheg.

An impenetrable tongue. I have sometimes listened to tapes of Chaucer read with Middle English pronunciation, whilst driving round in the car, and hearing Geg is like that: you know what language it is from the number of isolated words you pick up, but they are not enough for it to make continuous sense.

(A bit like an Orthodox liturgy in a way, judging by some of the posts: after an hour or two of listening to Chaucer, you feel you have followed the gist of the story, but you can't really say how.)

Ah well ... the truly saved do all speak Middle English, David, it's clear that's where you're falling down ...

LOL!!!
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« Reply #454 on: December 14, 2009, 06:16:47 PM »

Ah well ... the truly saved do all speak Middle English, David, it's clear that's where you're falling down

Verrayly es he my salvacioun, for he es my God thurhe grace, and my hele, þat es my bier, and my yptaker fro þe travailes of þis werld til ioy; þarfore I sal namare bestird fra hym.
- Richard Rolle, Hermit of Hampole (14th century).

Amen to that!  Smiley
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« Reply #455 on: December 14, 2009, 06:46:19 PM »

Ah well ... the truly saved do all speak Middle English, David, it's clear that's where you're falling down

Verrayly es he my salvacioun, for he es my God thurhe grace, and my hele, þat es my bier, and my yptaker fro þe travailes of þis werld til ioy; þarfore I sal namare bestird fra hym.
- Richard Rolle, Hermit of Hampole (14th century).

Amen to that!  Smiley


For that matter, and on the (loose) subject we've been discussing, the writer of a Catholic meditation on the gospels defends his choice to 'dumb down', writing his book:

'in Englyshe to lewde men & women & hem that ben of symple undirstondyng ... [is this] boke of cristes lyfe ... with more putte into certeyn partes & withdrawing diverse auctoritis and maters, as semeth to the wryter herof moste spedefull & edifying to hem that bene of symple understanding.'
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« Reply #456 on: December 15, 2009, 02:21:09 AM »


If I may (sorry if I'm interrupting):

Clearly, Handmaiden, you and others feel you have taken a lot of trouble to explain and make clear to David what happens in an Orthodox service.

However, in doing this, you haven't made the service fundamentally easier for an outsider to understand. If another person from David's church, who hadn't had the benefit of your care, were to come to Orthodox service, how much would he understand and how well would he cope? You can't be in all the Orthodox churches in the world, on hand to explain everything to every stranger who walks into church. I suppose the question is, is there a problem if each person who goes to Orthodox church needs as much care and explanation as you have given here, in order to make sense of what's going on? Shouldn't we be able to understand and benefit from being in an Orthodox service without needing someone else to sit and explain it to us?

As you know, personally I'm not convinced that we do need all the explanations to make sense of something, but it is a valid question, and not really a reflection on how well you have explained things to David.


We have guests at Church all the time who wander in and do fine.

About two weeks ago a fine looking young man showed up for liturgy wearing a 1920's style straw hat and a seer sucker suit. He is a college student and made quite the dashing figure ( Brad Pitt good looks).

He had never been to an Orthodox service before. His father is a Presbyterian Minister.

He had had a dream a couple of nights earlier of a figure who identified himself as St. Vladimir. When he got up in the morning he looked up the Saint and discovered he was Orthodox. He asked his Father where he could attend an Orthodox Service and he recommended our Church.

He had absolutely no idea of what to expect or do , hence the straw hat and seer sucker suit Smiley
He stood the entire Liturgy even though it was permissible to sit during certain parts and take a load off your feet. He told me he did that out of respect.

When he told Matushka ( Priests wife) about his dream he asked if we had an icon of St. Vlad. She said he was standing right next to it...Go figure. Matushka thinks he will be a Priest one day. God willing.

So I don't think we need to worry too much about understanding the Liturgy or making it real easy for folks. We only need to worry about pleasing the Lord and doing his will. If we do that, we shall be led to the right place by his power, not by ours.

Marc, this is exactly the sort of example I gave earlier in the thread. However, I'm not sure that anecdotal examples really answer the question. After all, it must be hard to know how many people are put off Orthodoxy (or any other religion) before we get to know them and talk to them.

I dont understand what you point is.. Do you want us to dumb down the Divine Liturgy?

No. I was trying to clarify a situation and, obviously, failing. Read back in the thread: I've suggested that I don't think that a service is necessarily less communicative just because it is not in the 'plain language' David's church favours. That said, all the good examples we can all hold up of people who did understand a symbolically complex, linguistically rich service are just that - examples. It's perfectly possible that people put their heads around your Orthodox church (or even my High Anglican church), wonder what on earth is going on, and give up in incomprehension. Now personally, I don't think 'dumbing down' is the answer, and I remain pretty convinced that if these people were to attend a service or two, they would find they got far more out of the experience than they might initially have expected. But that doesn't mean that David is wrong when he worries about people struggling with the service, because lots of people won't get so far as to attend a service or two. It's not on to be cross with him when he points out the difference between himself (a person who's had the benefit of a lot of careful explanation) and Joe Baptist off the street, who hasn't. The point is, how far should one go in encouraging new people in, and how is it to be done?

Liz,

When I first visited an Orthodox Church (back in 2000 or 2001 in Montgomery Alabama) by someone in whom I now call my first mentor......eventhough I was still protestant at the time, but a man by the name of Dr. Byrd invited me.....along with his mentor Dr. Allen, and their friend who drove down from Tennessee, Dr. weatherby.....they were Anglican converts to EO, and the liturgy was done half in greek and half in English, and I loved it. I didn't understand most of what went on, but I loved it. Dr. Byrd helped me through the liturgy by giving me a book and showing me where we were in the service, but I would of been ok anyway even if he didn't do that........oh he also gave me a bunch of books to read as well....but still.

And so, I have a different view than David. For at the time, I really didn't mind not knowing much. Now that I am Orthodox, some many many years later, I still don't mind not knowing everything there is to know about the Divine Liturgy.....yeah I know more now than when I first visited an Orthodox church back in 2000/2001, but I still don't know everything there is to know either.


ICXC NIKA

Wow, this is an old thread! I understand why you want to share your experience, it sounds wonderful. But, while personally I'm with you and happy not to know the meaning of everything, this doesn't really help us with a basic problem. You say you'd have been ok following the liturgy without help, but since you did have help, you can't be sure, can you? Besides which, you were formerly a Protestant, and you are (obviously) a reasonably educated, intelligent person. All of this may well have given you the tools for understanding. But not everyone is in that situation, and I am sure there are people who react badly to incomprehension. Maybe those people aren't naturally inclined to Orthodoxy anyway. But, I know lots of people (partly because my mum teaches people who've had bad experiences of the education system) who are very apprehensive or defensive about things they can't immediately understand. Because they've come to associate not understanding quickly with being a failure, they don't want any more to do with it.

So, what might be a wonderful mystery for me or for you, could strike them as oppressive before they really got the chance to appreciate that this kind of incomprehension isn't a test. I don't know what the solution is, but I can understand and appreciate David's concern about people.

I could be wrong about this, but I thought the Divine Liturgy was designed for those who weren't able to read and write. If this is the case, and I really don't know if it is, but if it is, then you will be able to understand something just by being there. Understanding is not always of the mind alone you know. Our whole bodies gotta learn too.

Do you believe in muscle memory by any chance?





ICXC NIKA
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« Reply #457 on: December 15, 2009, 03:44:30 AM »

When the priest says several prayers quietly in the background (usually under the voice of the choir) it is nearly impossible to understand what he is saying unless you have super-human hearing. For this, I find that the service book is required.
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« Reply #458 on: December 15, 2009, 01:07:40 PM »

or speaking Gheg.

An impenetrable tongue. I have sometimes listened to tapes of Chaucer read with Middle English pronunciation, whilst driving round in the car, and hearing Geg is like that: you know what language it is from the number of isolated words you pick up, but they are not enough for it to make continuous sense.

(A bit like an Orthodox liturgy in a way, judging by some of the posts: after an hour or two of listening to Chaucer, you feel you have followed the gist of the story, but you can't really say how.)

Ah well ... the truly saved do all speak Middle English, David, it's clear that's where you're falling down ...

Not Old English?  I am shocked!   Wink Grin
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« Reply #459 on: December 15, 2009, 02:21:23 PM »

Not Old English?  I am shocked!   

Your nom de plume might even point to Old Norse.  Wink
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« Reply #460 on: December 20, 2009, 12:23:16 PM »

Not Old English?  I am shocked!   

Your nom de plume might even point to Old Norse.  Wink

 Smiley 

Ho there!  A round of Sagas. b  Wink
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« Reply #461 on: December 20, 2009, 12:54:21 PM »

Ho there!  A round of Sagas. b  Wink

Baldur perhaps - seeing the time of year it is?
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« Reply #462 on: December 20, 2009, 01:03:31 PM »

Or the Tale of Audun and the Bear maybe, since it involves a great white polar bear and the giving of gifts and mercy and honor.   Smiley

(We've had a huge fall of snow where I live and it reminds me of this tale)
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« Reply #463 on: March 31, 2010, 08:41:16 AM »

Quote
Studies indicate that the spiritual condition of peoples in so-called Orthodox countries is in actuality quite poor. ...
Moreover, though the Orthodox Church claims millions of members in some of these countries (the Russian Orthodox Church claims some 70-100 million members), the percentage of practicing members is very small. Even among practicing members, it is not always clear if one is dealing with persons who have genuinely placed their faith in Jesus as personal Lord and Savior. In this manual, we will address the Eastern Orthodox concept of salvation as well as what Eastern Orthodox people commonly believe about salvation (these two understandings may differ). It is likely that the number of lost people among practicing and nominal Orthodox people is very high.

This statement has perplexed me greatly. How could Protestants see the hearts of the Russian Orthodox faithful? How could they confidently say 'the percentage of practicing members is very small' and 'it is likely that the number of lost people among practicing and nominal Orthodox people is very high' ?

Who gave these Protestants (the ones who wrote this text) a right to judge us Orthodox?

They have no right to judge anyone's heart. A Christian is urged not to judge his brother but rather to just admonish him. To admonish his actions -- can anyone admonish anyone's internal dispositions, unless he says what his internal dispositions are? If you see a man sit down during the Great Doxology do you immediately label him a sloth? These are very hasty generalizations which, sadly, remove brotherhood among Christians.
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« Reply #464 on: March 31, 2010, 08:57:16 AM »

Who gave these Protestants (the ones who wrote this text) a right to judge us Orthodox?

Without currently feeling inclined to reply to the other questions in your post - mainly because I feel they are rhetorical rather than a sincere request for information - let me say that I think you are using the wrong word when you say "judge". "Judge" implies some sort of moral assessment and comparison, along the lines of "This person is bad in a way I am not." Judgement has to do with goodness and badness, whether it's the quality of the food and service in a restaurant or whether (as you imply) it is to do with people's calibre and quality. We Evangelicals have no more right - indeed, none at all - to make judgements of that sort, i.e. comparing ourselves with Orthodox in moral or qualitative terms, and concluding we are better. But a person's relationship with God is not initiated on the basis of prior goodness in himself, but on God's grace and on the faith a man has in his heart that God has forgiven his sins for Christ's sake. What the Manual is saying is what we have discussed umpteen times on these threads, that the impression is given that there are many people in Orthodox church services who engage in the outer ritual but who do not experience the renewing which comes by faith in Jesus Christ. Now we could debate in a sane, mutually respectful manner whether that impression is accurate or misleading: but it has nothing at all to do with judging other people's achievements, quality or goodness. (I am not suggesting we do debate it, for we have explored this theme at no small length over many months.)

By all means disagree with us: but disagree with what we are saying or doing, not with what we're not.
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« Reply #465 on: March 31, 2010, 09:08:11 AM »

Who gave these Protestants (the ones who wrote this text) a right to judge us Orthodox?

Without currently feeling inclined to reply to the other questions in your post - mainly because I feel they are rhetorical rather than a sincere request for information - let me say that I think you are using the wrong word when you say "judge". "Judge" implies some sort of moral assessment and comparison, along the lines of "This person is bad in a way I am not." Judgement has to do with goodness and badness, whether it's the quality of the food and service in a restaurant or whether (as you imply) it is to do with people's calibre and quality. We Evangelicals have no more right - indeed, none at all - to make judgements of that sort, i.e. comparing ourselves with Orthodox in moral or qualitative terms, and concluding we are better. But a person's relationship with God is not initiated on the basis of prior goodness in himself, but on God's grace and on the faith a man has in his heart that God has forgiven his sins for Christ's sake. What the Manual is saying is what we have discussed umpteen times on these threads, that the impression is given that there are many people in Orthodox church services who engage in the outer ritual but who do not experience the renewing which comes by faith in Jesus Christ. Now we could debate in a sane, mutually respectful manner whether that impression is accurate or misleading: but it has nothing at all to do with judging other people's achievements, quality or goodness. (I am not suggesting we do debate it, for we have explored this theme at no small length over many months.)

By all means disagree with us: but disagree with what we are saying or doing, not with what we're not.


I have no intention for a rhetoric here Smiley

We are friends, no?

I am against the text and whoever wrote it.

1. Firstly: 'it is likely that the number of lost people among practicing and nominal Orthodox people is very high'

Is this not judgment, sir?

2. You explained the former as:

"What the Manual is saying is what we have discussed umpteen times on these threads, that the impression is given that there are many people in Orthodox church services who engage in the outer ritual but who do not experience the renewing which comes by faith in Jesus Christ."

What made you say that 'many' donot experience renewing? Do you have statistics for this? How do you know if a person is renewed?

______________

I have no intention of fighting with you sir, I just wish to defend this Faith in which I really love! The Faith which, I believe, is from the Lord Jesus Christ.

 Smiley
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« Reply #466 on: March 31, 2010, 09:14:46 AM »


 What the Manual is saying is what we have discussed umpteen times on these threads, that the impression is given that there are many people in Orthodox church services who engage in the outer ritual but who do not experience the renewing which comes by faith in Jesus Christ.

Absolute fiddlesticks!   

The Communist statistics claimed that they exterminated 20 million Orthodox Christians from the time of the 1917 Revolution

Now people do not go to their deaths for Christ because they have been indulging in some "outer rituals."  Such superficial believers would soon excuse themselves and renounce their faith and choose to go on living. 

People are willing to die for what they believe in most and love most - Jesus Christ.  These people were so renewed in their spirit that they willingly accepted awful tortures and blood martyrdom for the Lord.

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« Reply #467 on: March 31, 2010, 09:22:35 AM »

Firstly: 'it is likely that the number of lost people among practicing and nominal Orthodox people is very high'

Is this not judgment, sir?

No, it's not. Or if it is, then you use the word judgement in a way different from mine. If we were to say, "They're all fools," or, "...stubborn unrepentant sinners" or, "... deep hypocrites who love the form of religion but know nothing of its power," then it would be judgement as I use the word. If we say "it is likely that many are lost" we simply mean that it is likely that they are not born again of the Spirit of God. I am not debating whether such a statement is true or false: I am only explaining that it is not judgement, but rather a sincere attempt to discern the nature of their current spiritual need.

Quote
What made you say that 'many' do not experience renewing?

I didn't. I said that the Manual says that this is likely. (I assume it does: I am relying on your quote.) I have never been to Russia and I have no means of knowing.

Quote
How do you know if a person is renewed?

In the last analysis of course, only God knows. But if we are to help people towards salvation, we need to attempt to discern their current state of grace, experience, faith. It's not a matter of knowing infallibly which persons are saved, but of genuinely trying to make the best assessment we can of people's current state, so as best to think what counsel to give them.
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« Reply #468 on: March 31, 2010, 09:26:20 AM »


I have no intention for a rhetoric here Smiley

We are friends, no?

I am against the text and whoever wrote it.

1. Firstly: 'it is likely that the number of lost people among practicing and nominal Orthodox people is very high'

Is this not judgment, sir?

2. You explained the former as:

"What the Manual is saying is what we have discussed umpteen times on these threads, that the impression is given that there are many people in Orthodox church services who engage in the outer ritual but who do not experience the renewing which comes by faith in Jesus Christ."

What made you say that 'many' donot experience renewing? Do you have statistics for this? How do you know if a person is renewed?

______________

I have no intention of fighting with you sir, I just wish to defend this Faith in which I really love! The Faith which, I believe, is from the Lord Jesus Christ.

 Smiley
I do believe that David would agree that Manual is unfair to Orthodox Christians. The words and sentiments he used in his reply are not his own, but are a paraphrase of what is contained in the Manual.

As David said, there are several hundred comments on this thread alone on this topic.

What we Orthodox need to do is to live in such a way that the words contained in the Manual (and similar ones elsewhere) are proved to be false. Let us focus on our own salvation. Because my own wife is still an Evangelical Protestant, I often find myself facing some of these issues, usually indirectly. I struggle to avoid judging the Ev Prots and their motives, and sadly, I'm not always successful.
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« Reply #469 on: March 31, 2010, 10:56:48 AM »


I have no intention for a rhetoric here Smiley

We are friends, no?

I am against the text and whoever wrote it.

1. Firstly: 'it is likely that the number of lost people among practicing and nominal Orthodox people is very high'

Is this not judgment, sir?

2. You explained the former as:

"What the Manual is saying is what we have discussed umpteen times on these threads, that the impression is given that there are many people in Orthodox church services who engage in the outer ritual but who do not experience the renewing which comes by faith in Jesus Christ."

What made you say that 'many' donot experience renewing? Do you have statistics for this? How do you know if a person is renewed?

______________

I have no intention of fighting with you sir, I just wish to defend this Faith in which I really love! The Faith which, I believe, is from the Lord Jesus Christ.

 Smiley
I do believe that David would agree that Manual is unfair to Orthodox Christians. The words and sentiments he used in his reply are not his own, but are a paraphrase of what is contained in the Manual.

As David said, there are several hundred comments on this thread alone on this topic.

What we Orthodox need to do is to live in such a way that the words contained in the Manual (and similar ones elsewhere) are proved to be false. Let us focus on our own salvation. Because my own wife is still an Evangelical Protestant, I often find myself facing some of these issues, usually indirectly. I struggle to avoid judging the Ev Prots and their motives, and sadly, I'm not always successful.

I certainly agree Smiley
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« Reply #470 on: March 31, 2010, 11:30:08 AM »


I have no intention for a rhetoric here Smiley

We are friends, no?

I am against the text and whoever wrote it.

1. Firstly: 'it is likely that the number of lost people among practicing and nominal Orthodox people is very high'

Is this not judgment, sir?

2. You explained the former as:

"What the Manual is saying is what we have discussed umpteen times on these threads, that the impression is given that there are many people in Orthodox church services who engage in the outer ritual but who do not experience the renewing which comes by faith in Jesus Christ."

What made you say that 'many' donot experience renewing? Do you have statistics for this? How do you know if a person is renewed?

______________

I have no intention of fighting with you sir, I just wish to defend this Faith in which I really love! The Faith which, I believe, is from the Lord Jesus Christ.

 Smiley
I do believe that David would agree that Manual is unfair to Orthodox Christians. The words and sentiments he used in his reply are not his own, but are a paraphrase of what is contained in the Manual.

As David said, there are several hundred comments on this thread alone on this topic.

What we Orthodox need to do is to live in such a way that the words contained in the Manual (and similar ones elsewhere) are proved to be false. Let us focus on our own salvation. Because my own wife is still an Evangelical Protestant, I often find myself facing some of these issues, usually indirectly. I struggle to avoid judging the Ev Prots and their motives, and sadly, I'm not always successful.

You are certainly right. I also agree with David that "judging" in the Biblical sense does not mean analyzing, assessing, observing or offering an opinion. "Judging" has the distinct connotation of distinguishing between right or wrong, sin and virtue, guilt and innocence.

Now, lets take the Manual's assertions that "'the percentage of practicing members is very small' and 'it is likely that the number of lost people among practicing and nominal Orthodox people is very high'"

The first statement is obviously true in Russia, and most other nominally Orthodox countries. It is an observation that is backed up by various polls, arithmetic (counting the number of folks who attend divided by those who are on the rolls), and/or the testimony of Orthodox Church officials.

The second statement is a combination of observation (percentage of lost people among nominal Orthodox people) and of an unwarranted conclusion (percentage of lost people  among practicing Orthodox people).

In the first instance, it is obviously true: by definition, nominal (not practicing) Orthodox are lost. This is according to our own doctrine, for they have excommunicated themselves from the Church. They can be reconciled (we do have a major Mystery just for that) but until they do, they are lost.

In the second instance, the author reasons (elsewhere in the Manual) that many of the practicing Orthodox are merely going through the rituals either without knowing what is happening or knowing very little. I can cite you Orthodox theologians who tell us that such a situation is dangerous in that our services may descend to the level of magic. Since our services are the work of the people and not merely that of the clergy, it is indeed imperative that all of us should know what we believe, preach and practice.  That is the argument of the author of the Manual but I think this argument is too simplistic.

I think that one does not have to be a theologian or to have memorized the Scriptures to know what to believe and do. It is possible (and indeed I think this is the case in most instances) that an uneducated person (like my grandfather) can know the gist of the Holy Scriptures, our beliefs and our services. My father was college and seminary educated and I daresay that his and my grandfather's beliefs and practices did not diverge all that much in their essence. Indeed, if one faithfully attends our services (and can understand the words), one will be educated in the Old and New Testaments and be very familiar with the story and teachings of our Lord, even if one attends only from Zaccheus Sunday to the Paschal Vespers.
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« Reply #471 on: March 31, 2010, 11:52:19 AM »


I have no intention for a rhetoric here Smiley

We are friends, no?

I am against the text and whoever wrote it.

1. Firstly: 'it is likely that the number of lost people among practicing and nominal Orthodox people is very high'

Is this not judgment, sir?

2. You explained the former as:

"What the Manual is saying is what we have discussed umpteen times on these threads, that the impression is given that there are many people in Orthodox church services who engage in the outer ritual but who do not experience the renewing which comes by faith in Jesus Christ."

What made you say that 'many' donot experience renewing? Do you have statistics for this? How do you know if a person is renewed?

______________

I have no intention of fighting with you sir, I just wish to defend this Faith in which I really love! The Faith which, I believe, is from the Lord Jesus Christ.

 Smiley
I do believe that David would agree that Manual is unfair to Orthodox Christians. The words and sentiments he used in his reply are not his own, but are a paraphrase of what is contained in the Manual.

As David said, there are several hundred comments on this thread alone on this topic.

What we Orthodox need to do is to live in such a way that the words contained in the Manual (and similar ones elsewhere) are proved to be false. Let us focus on our own salvation. Because my own wife is still an Evangelical Protestant, I often find myself facing some of these issues, usually indirectly. I struggle to avoid judging the Ev Prots and their motives, and sadly, I'm not always successful.

You are certainly right. I also agree with David that "judging" in the Biblical sense does not mean analyzing, assessing, observing or offering an opinion. "Judging" has the distinct connotation of distinguishing between right or wrong, sin and virtue, guilt and innocence.

Now, lets take the Manual's assertions that "'the percentage of practicing members is very small' and 'it is likely that the number of lost people among practicing and nominal Orthodox people is very high'"

The first statement is obviously true in Russia, and most other nominally Orthodox countries. It is an observation that is backed up by various polls, arithmetic (counting the number of folks who attend divided by those who are on the rolls), and/or the testimony of Orthodox Church officials.

The second statement is a combination of observation (percentage of lost people among nominal Orthodox people) and of an unwarranted conclusion (percentage of lost people  among practicing Orthodox people).

In the first instance, it is obviously true: by definition, nominal (not practicing) Orthodox are lost. This is according to our own doctrine, for they have excommunicated themselves from the Church. They can be reconciled (we do have a major Mystery just for that) but until they do, they are lost.

In the second instance, the author reasons (elsewhere in the Manual) that many of the practicing Orthodox are merely going through the rituals either without knowing what is happening or knowing very little. I can cite you Orthodox theologians who tell us that such a situation is dangerous in that our services may descend to the level of magic. Since our services are the work of the people and not merely that of the clergy, it is indeed imperative that all of us should know what we believe, preach and practice.  That is the argument of the author of the Manual but I think this argument is too simplistic.

I think that one does not have to be a theologian or to have memorized the Scriptures to know what to believe and do. It is possible (and indeed I think this is the case in most instances) that an uneducated person (like my grandfather) can know the gist of the Holy Scriptures, our beliefs and our services. My father was college and seminary educated and I daresay that his and my grandfather's beliefs and practices did not diverge all that much in their essence. Indeed, if one faithfully attends our services (and can understand the words), one will be educated in the Old and New Testaments and be very familiar with the story and teachings of our Lord, even if one attends only from Zaccheus Sunday to the Paschal Vespers.

If the 'many are lost' argument in backed up by polls then I would certainly believe it. All the more if the Church officials themselves have assessed this -- how honest that assessment would be! Judging from the fact that, naturally, leaders would never say negative things about their members.

Now, what should we say to the writers of the manual?

Firstly, that we consider the Orthodox Christian life to be an active life -- nominal Orthodox Christians are not really Orthodox Christians but, as you said, they have excommunicated themselves. Thus, evaluation of the Orthodox Christians would comprise only of those who are truly Orthodox both in name and in practice.

Secondly, that we thank them and even in some way praise them -- it is very good to be an active Christian! I am impressed by Protestants everywhere -- they actively participate in several activities in their community and they really know there church-mates personally. If only Orthodox Christians would wake up! If only they would mimic the vigilance of the Protestants! We should thank them for their concern for their Christian brothers.

Thirdly, we should talk about the unity of the Church -- no angel, scholar, theologian, pastor, priest, bishop, patriarch or pope could make up his own church. No one, by reason of "being correct" or by reason of "being better than others" or by "being more biblical", could make a church. Christ built a Church and that Church is united always and is One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic as the Early Christians have always believed. Being 'correct' or 'more biblical' is subject to human nature -- it is a subjective characteristic of a sect. Whereas, being One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic is subject to yes or a no -- it is an objective characteristic, the objective characteristic of the Orthodox Church.

I hope this helps us all.

 Smiley
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« Reply #472 on: March 31, 2010, 11:55:50 AM »

Indeed, if one faithfully attends our services (and can understand the words), one will be educated in the Old and New Testaments and be very familiar with the story and teachings of our Lord, even if one attends only from Zaccheus Sunday to the Paschal Vespers.

Amen!

If one would just participate there would be effects! The Divine Liturgy is not a magic ceremony -- it is a participation of both man and his God in order that man may be closer to God!
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« Reply #473 on: March 31, 2010, 11:59:08 AM »

Quote
Firstly, that we consider the Orthodox Christian life to be an active life -- nominal Orthodox Christians are not really Orthodox Christians but, as you said, they have excommunicated themselves. Thus, evaluation of the Orthodox Christians would comprise only of those who are truly Orthodox both in name and in practice.
This is as harsh a judgement as the one in the manual.
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« Reply #474 on: March 31, 2010, 12:03:23 PM »

Quote
Firstly, that we consider the Orthodox Christian life to be an active life -- nominal Orthodox Christians are not really Orthodox Christians but, as you said, they have excommunicated themselves. Thus, evaluation of the Orthodox Christians would comprise only of those who are truly Orthodox both in name and in practice.
This is as harsh a judgement as the one in the manual.


Quote from: Second Chance
This is according to our own doctrine, for they have excommunicated themselves from the Church.

Why is it?

Hmmm.. That's what Second Chance said. Is it true that they have excommunicated themselves from the Church?

Do we have a doctrine for that?
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« Reply #475 on: March 31, 2010, 12:05:10 PM »

Quote
they have excommunicated themselves from the Church?
Says who?
These are useless and distracting questions.
This conversation reminds me of the talks I had with some Baptists of Romania that would point out to Orthodox doing all sorts of stuff. I said: yes, we do all these sins, that is how it is. But then I said, pointing to a few of their own, you do the same sins as us. To which they replied by disowning those wayward Baptists as not being  REALLY Baptists (only "nominal" as you'd say).
This is a rather Protestant way of talking and thinking.
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« Reply #476 on: March 31, 2010, 12:09:19 PM »

Quote
they have excommunicated themselves from the Church?
Says who?


says Second Chance at the 470th post.
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« Reply #477 on: March 31, 2010, 12:38:27 PM »

by definition, nominal (not practicing) Orthodox are lost. This is according to our own doctrine, for they have excommunicated themselves from the Church. They can be reconciled (we do have a major Mystery just for that) but until they do, they are lost.
I don't know if we would say they are lost, but rather in danger of being lost. You do raise a good point about excommunication, however, as by definition anyone who refuses to come to communion has excommunicated themself. But I don't think that's what the Protestants are saying here. They, from my experience and what I have read, are much more concerned about those who do come to church and partake of the Eucharist yet do not live their lives in a way pleasing to God. Such people are certainly not excommunicated, but Protestants may still consider them "dead."
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« Reply #478 on: March 31, 2010, 12:45:20 PM »

Quote
They, from my experience and what I have read, are much more concerned about those who do come to church and partake of the Eucharist yet do not live their lives in a way pleasing to God
.
You meant, perhaps " a life pleasing to Protestants".
Then again frequent Communion is, by all accounts, rare to the point of being invisible in the old world Orthodox world. So, that's more of a possibility in America, in those jurisdictions where frequent reception of the Sacraments is the norm.
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« Reply #479 on: March 31, 2010, 12:51:20 PM »

Quote
They, from my experience and what I have read, are much more concerned about those who do come to church and partake of the Eucharist yet do not live their lives in a way pleasing to God
.
You meant, perhaps " a life pleasing to Protestants".
Isn't that the same thing? Wink*

* For those who love to take things way too literally: I'm joking.
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« Reply #480 on: March 31, 2010, 12:54:47 PM »

Quote
They, from my experience and what I have read, are much more concerned about those who do come to church and partake of the Eucharist yet do not live their lives in a way pleasing to God
.
You meant, perhaps " a life pleasing to Protestants".
Then again frequent Communion is, by all accounts, rare to the point of being invisible in the old world Orthodox world. So, that's more of a possibility in America, in those jurisdictions where frequent reception of the Sacraments is the norm.

I don't know about that. Most of my friends-many of whom are recent immigrants from Russia etc. commune very frequently-much more frequently than many of the church people who grew up completely in North America.

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« Reply #481 on: March 31, 2010, 12:58:21 PM »

Quote
they have excommunicated themselves from the Church?
Says who?
These are useless and distracting questions.
This conversation reminds me of the talks I had with some Baptists of Romania that would point out to Orthodox doing all sorts of stuff. I said: yes, we do all these sins, that is how it is. But then I said, pointing to a few of their own, you do the same sins as us. To which they replied by disowning those wayward Baptists as not being  REALLY Baptists (only "nominal" as you'd say).
This is a rather Protestant way of talking and thinking.

Not all Protestants believe this but Southern Baptists in the United States believe in the "once saved, always saved" doctrine. Many others believe as Orthodox do; that is, we have the assurance not of salvation but of faith.

At the center of the Orthodox approach is the concept of free will, that is, Christians (Orthodox included) are free to reject what the Lord asks to be--his disciples or followers. In the Orthodox Church, this means most importantly a separation from the Mysteries. Thus, one is not truly Orthodox if one is not a communicant. In such a situation, one has excommunicated himself. Excommunication is not restricted to being cast off by the Church; in fact, it is done most often by the folks who stop being a follower of the Lord, stop going to Church, and stop taking communion. Incidentally, I think that those who self-restrict themselves to once a quarter or once a year communion are in danger of being lukewarm Christians, the sort to whom the Lord said "I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot.  So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth." Revelation 3:15-16.

Now, it is true that they are in the state of the Prodigal Son; they can go back to their father but until then they are separated or excommunicated from the family. It was not inevitable that the Prodigal returned to the family, he decided to do so in repentance and humility. So it is with all of us who have excommunicated ourselves: we have to go back to the Church through the Mystery of Reconciliation or "Confession/Penance" in Western terms.
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« Reply #482 on: March 31, 2010, 02:00:06 PM »

When the Kursk Root Icon returned to Russia just a few months ago hundreds of thousands of the faithful turned out. Nearly the entire population of the City of Kursk filled the streets. People lined the streets of Moscow for hours just waiting for a glimpse, falling to the ground in prostration, weeping when it finally passed by.

The lines to get into Church to venerate the icon were 8 to 10 hours long. Priest had to go down the line and pick out people who appeared sick or very elderly and allow them quicker entrance. Many people reported miraculous healings.

Here is a video about the visit. Towards the end you can see shots showing the massive crowds.

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4PBfUC0pUY8&translated=1 
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« Reply #483 on: March 31, 2010, 02:19:24 PM »

Quote
the Mystery of Reconciliation or "Confession/Penance" in Western terms.
Nothing Eastern about the former, nothing particularly Western or un-Eastern about the latter.
Excommunication is a much more formal affair, and, in the proper sense of the word it doesn't apply to the situations you describe. Our clergy&people would never use the word in the way you use it.
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« Reply #484 on: March 31, 2010, 03:37:31 PM »

Quote
the Mystery of Reconciliation or "Confession/Penance" in Western terms.
Nothing Eastern about the former, nothing particularly Western or un-Eastern about the latter.
Excommunication is a much more formal affair, and, in the proper sense of the word it doesn't apply to the situations you describe. Our clergy&people would never use the word in the way you use it.

You are right; I should not have been so snarky about the terminology. You are also right that the term Mystery of Reconciliation" is not universally used in the Orthodox Church.  As I remember, the formal name is the "Sacrament of Penance, which includes both confession/repentance and reconciliation to the Church through the prayer of absolution." (Father Schmemann, 1971) Finally, you are also right in that in many of our local churches, the term "excommunication" is used in its formal sense. I was just trying to dig a bit deeper than formal definitions that are used in some churches, as can be seen in the rest of my post.
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« Reply #485 on: April 04, 2010, 11:26:19 PM »

Quote
they have excommunicated themselves from the Church?
Says who?
These are useless and distracting questions.
This conversation reminds me of the talks I had with some Baptists of Romania that would point out to Orthodox doing all sorts of stuff. I said: yes, we do all these sins, that is how it is. But then I said, pointing to a few of their own, you do the same sins as us. To which they replied by disowning those wayward Baptists as not being  REALLY Baptists (only "nominal" as you'd say).
This is a rather Protestant way of talking and thinking.

Cristos a inviat!

The practice of considering those who absent themselves from DL for three consecutive Sundays witout good cause predates the Protestants by quite a bit.  Like a millenium or so.
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« Reply #486 on: April 04, 2010, 11:35:33 PM »

Quote
they have excommunicated themselves from the Church?
Says who?
These are useless and distracting questions.
This conversation reminds me of the talks I had with some Baptists of Romania that would point out to Orthodox doing all sorts of stuff. I said: yes, we do all these sins, that is how it is. But then I said, pointing to a few of their own, you do the same sins as us. To which they replied by disowning those wayward Baptists as not being  REALLY Baptists (only "nominal" as you'd say).
This is a rather Protestant way of talking and thinking.

Cristos a inviat!

The practice of considering those who absent themselves from DL for three consecutive Sundays witout good cause predates the Protestants by quite a bit.  Like a millenium or so.
That just proves my point: some obscure canon somwhere, nobody cares about.
Adevarat a inviat Domnul.
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« Reply #487 on: April 05, 2010, 09:50:59 AM »

The practice of considering those who absent themselves from DL for three consecutive Sundays witout good cause predates the Protestants by quite a bit.  Like a millennium or so.
That just proves my point: some obscure canon somewhere, nobody cares about.

I believe the point here is that it should not be relegated to being an obscure canon. Just because a Protestant observes it doesn't mean it's wrong.

Communion avoidance is a medieval superstition born out of scrupulosity and found across East and West. Preachers everywhere have denounced it; why is anyone defending it?
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« Reply #488 on: April 05, 2010, 10:20:08 AM »

The practice of considering those who absent themselves from DL for three consecutive Sundays witout good cause predates the Protestants by quite a bit.  Like a millennium or so.
That just proves my point: some obscure canon somewhere, nobody cares about.

I believe the point here is that it should not be relegated to being an obscure canon. Just because a Protestant observes it doesn't mean it's wrong.

Communion avoidance is a medieval superstition born out of scrupulosity and found across East and West. Preachers everywhere have denounced it; why is anyone defending it?

Christ is risen!

Because that is how Traditionalism "lives."

Btw, it is not an obscure canon no one cares about. I know plenty of priests who will not marry anyone they haven't seen before, will baptize no child of parents who do not attend Church, etc.
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« Reply #489 on: April 05, 2010, 10:38:38 AM »

The practice of considering those who absent themselves from DL for three consecutive Sundays witout good cause predates the Protestants by quite a bit.  Like a millennium or so.
That just proves my point: some obscure canon somewhere, nobody cares about.

I believe the point here is that it should not be relegated to being an obscure canon. Just because a Protestant observes it doesn't mean it's wrong.

Communion avoidance is a medieval superstition born out of scrupulosity and found across East and West. Preachers everywhere have denounced it; why is anyone defending it?

Christ is risen!

Because that is how Traditionalism "lives."

Btw, it is not an obscure canon no one cares about. I know plenty of priests who will not marry anyone they haven't seen before, will baptize no child of parents who do not attend Church, etc.

Christ is risen!

I am speculating that Augustin's definition may be based on an equation, such as the more well known "Greek=Orthodox & Orthodox=Greek", except that in his case he may be substituting "Romanian practice" for "Greek." I do not mean to pick on either Greeks or Romanians, for I see that in all historically Orthodox nationalities. I agree with you that it is manifestation of traditionalism. I also think that traditionalism is based on the following circular argument:

"I believe that what I received from the previous generation is part of Holy Tradition; it is therefore true Orthodoxy because it is part of the Holy Tradition; and, it is part of the Holy Tradition and therefore true Orthodoxy because it would not have come about if the Holy Spirit did not approve it."
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« Reply #490 on: April 05, 2010, 03:49:12 PM »

Well, for once I'm going to at least somewhat take augustin717's side. I won't say that the canon is irrelevant as he did, but I will say it must be very annoying to come from a culture that is thoroughly Orthodox and to have a bunch of neophytes telling you that everyone where you come from is doing everything wrong. Sometimes I think this "renovationism" is residual from a deep seeded Protestant zeal to constantly reform.
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« Reply #491 on: April 05, 2010, 04:18:43 PM »

When the Kursk Root Icon returned to Russia just a few months ago hundreds of thousands of the faithful turned out. Nearly the entire population of the City of Kursk filled the streets. People lined the streets of Moscow for hours just waiting for a glimpse, falling to the ground in prostration, weeping when it finally passed by.

The lines to get into Church to venerate the icon were 8 to 10 hours long. Priest had to go down the line and pick out people who appeared sick or very elderly and allow them quicker entrance. Many people reported miraculous healings.

Here is a video about the visit. Towards the end you can see shots showing the massive crowds.

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4PBfUC0pUY8&translated=1 

It is a wonderful thing. And Irish Hermit's post about all the martyrs is apt. A Baptist would say they were following empty rules, yet those "empty" rules actually prepared millions to make their stand and become united with Christ

I can't help wondering if Protestants' opinion that few Orthodox are "saved" comes from the fact that Protestants do not understand Orthodox spirituality? We don't see it as a mere mental exercise that occasionally overflows into action, but vice-versa. It is at first largely a physical exercise by which we break through our hearts of stone.

I mean, certainly there are "nominal Orthodox", but to write off whole countries as "unsaved" because their spirituality doesn't conform to Baptist norms is ridiculous -- if for no other reason than: where to Baptists get off setting the standard for spirituality? Who is to say Baptists have it right? I happen to believe Baptists have it wrong, and where a Baptist sees someone following empty "traditions of men", I see someone who is working out his salvation. Where a Baptist sees a "saved" person, I might see someone in spiritual delusion and in much danger.

I think the key is to live in such a way where people say "see how they love each other?" Aside from that, we should not attempt to defend ourselves on Protestant terms or follow the premise that Protestantism sets the standards.
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« Reply #492 on: April 05, 2010, 05:09:34 PM »

all the martyrs... A Baptist would say they were following empty rules

Er... what Baptist?
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« Reply #493 on: April 05, 2010, 05:30:50 PM »

all the martyrs... A Baptist would say they were following empty rules

Er... what Baptist?

Not you specifically. A generic Baptist. I know two or three who raise such objections (although when speaking of martyrs specifically they might not say that).

Though I gather Baptists in the UK are not very similar to Baptists in the US.
« Last Edit: April 05, 2010, 05:31:30 PM by age234 » Logged
Carl Kraeff (Second Chance)
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« Reply #494 on: April 05, 2010, 06:05:07 PM »

Well, for once I'm going to at least somewhat take augustin717's side. I won't say that the canon is irrelevant as he did, but I will say it must be very annoying to come from a culture that is thoroughly Orthodox and to have a bunch of neophytes telling you that everyone where you come from is doing everything wrong. Sometimes I think this "renovationism" is residual from a deep seeded Protestant zeal to constantly reform.

Nobody is saying that the traditional Orthodox cultures are doing everything wrong. If you carefully read Father Schmemann of thrice-blessed memory and Metropolitan Kallistos (Ware), they ask us not to reject but to examine our traditions and NOT to confuse pious customs (which may be perfectly fine--or not) with Holy Tradition. People who question are not necessarily driven to constantly reform the Church; I would say that many are driven to their questioning because they are serious about their faith, have active brain cells, and most of all are quite serious about their faith.  It is much to easy to shut up such folks by broad-brushing them with meaningless epithets, such as "Protestant zeal," "neophytes," and "converts."

It is true that canons are rules and not dogma, and that they must be understood in their own contexts. The argument here is not based on canons per se but on the deeper truth behind them. The issue is what defines an Orthodox believer. The practice in some churches is to so define a person if he was Baptized, Chrismated and Communed in the Church. Thus, folks in these Churches are akin to Southern Baptists and are "once a member, always a member."

Other churches, backed by ancient canons, believe that one must be a regular communicant, that it is possible to lose one's membership in the Body of Christ for a time (or forever) if one does not reconcile himself to the body. Thus, non-communicants are de facto excommunicated, even if there has been no formal action taken by the Church authorities, and must be reconciled before they can regain their status as active, living and true members of the Church. This principle is echoed in the various canons and practices of the Church from its inception. There are some churches that insist at least on a yearly communion, others specify four as the "magic" number. The only practice that makes sense from a theological, ecclesiastic and personal perspective is frequent communion that is not automatic but relies on preparation by fasting and prayers, as well as the the partaking of the Mysteries of Penance and/or Reconciliation.

There has always existed the temptation to count adherents on the basis of the baptismal records: Look y'all, MY church has sooooo many members!!! One can certainly lie to oneself (and to God) out of personal and national pride.  There has also existed the urge to reject anything new or alien as un-Orthodox; after all Orthodox conservatism has helped us maintain our faith through many trials and tribulations. It is dangerous, however, when it is done reflexively, unthinkingly, and out of pride and attachment towards one's own national church.
« Last Edit: April 05, 2010, 06:08:25 PM by Second Chance » Logged

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