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Author Topic: Isn't Orthodoxy enough?  (Read 2564 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: May 04, 2006, 08:21:13 AM »

For me, Jesus Christ shows us the way to be restored to our right nature (pre-fall), which is to be one with God. We learn this through the experience of the Church, both by being in it, and from the experience of others in the Church, present and past (viz. The Holy Fathers). Studying the Holy Fathers is done in tandem with living an Orthodox life. Believing in what the Holy Fathers taught, what the whole church teaches is what we need to know.

For some here, it seems, the ideals of Orthodoxy are not enough for their lives. I'm not talking about how Orthodoxy doesn't cover electronics, and we all need to have cool modern devices. I'm talking about spiritual matters. People who are Orthodox read their star signs in the paper - which is spirituality outside the church.

So is naturalism when it replaces our idea of an actively participating God. When people look to naturalistic explanations in direct contrast to the experience of the church they are serving two masters.*





* I don't want to get this statement confused with Luke 16:13, which is about avarice.
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« Reply #1 on: May 04, 2006, 08:53:33 AM »

For me, it is not a matter of Orthodoxy being "enough," it is a matter of truth and consistency. I find Christianity to be unpersuasive. I respect many of it's teachings and insights, I admire many of it's people, but I do not believe the claims she makes. Perhaps that makes it look like I'm sitting on the fence, because I--goodness!--would rather defend a religion I don't agree with than attack it relentlessly, if defending it would mean a more accurate and intellectually honest discussion. I find it especially odd in that regard that the people most prone to poking at me for supposedly sitting on the fence, are people who I think have take debate/logic classes, and thus have probably had to do the same thing themselves (ie. learning to defend someone else's position, for the sake of an honest and complete debate). In any event, naturalism can never be a complete explanation for everything in life, but there are indeed many natural explanations to things that people used to think had spiritual reasons. Many of the cases of demon possession, for example, would today be seen as medical issues and not spiritual ones, which they probably (to a large extent) are.
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« Reply #2 on: May 04, 2006, 05:03:51 PM »

I think we need to be very careful when asking this question.  A temptation to which we zealots for the Truth of Orthodoxy often fall--I count myself among these zealots, so I'm talking to myself just as much as to anyone--is to equate our limited understanding of Orthodoxy with the fullness of Orthodoxy and to judge others as being only partially Orthodox for not agreeing with us.  This is dangerous not only in that we judge other people, but also in that we shut ourselves off to hearing a different yet equally Orthodox view of Tradition.  How often is it that even the Holy Fathers cannot agree on issues that we deem of such great importance?  (I might communicate more of my thoughts on this subject later when I have more time.)
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« Reply #3 on: May 04, 2006, 05:50:47 PM »

For me, Jesus Christ shows us the way to be restored to our right nature (pre-fall), which is to be one with God.

Many patristic commentators would not agree with your sentiment, if by it you are implying that the pre-fall condition is where we should be heading.  In fact, it is widely thought that our pre-fall state was rather like that of a child, (although an innocent one) and not the perfect state that we are called to, by any means.  In other words, humanity  was nowhere near full theosis while still in the garden, but only beginning the journey.
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« Reply #4 on: May 04, 2006, 09:33:37 PM »

Many patristic commentators would not agree with your sentiment, if by it you are implying that the pre-fall condition is where we should be heading.  In fact, it is widely thought that our pre-fall state was rather like that of a child, (although an innocent one) and not the perfect state that we are called to, by any means.  In other words, humanity  was nowhere near full theosis while still in the garden, but only beginning the journey.
Our pre-fall condition was that we were without sin, and the consequences of this; death. This is what I was referring to. I hope that this is 'consistant' with patristic commentators.
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« Reply #5 on: May 07, 2006, 06:58:07 PM »

For some here, it seems, the ideals of Orthodoxy are not enough for their lives. I'm not talking about how Orthodoxy doesn't cover electronics, and we all need to have cool modern devices. I'm talking about spiritual matters. People who are Orthodox read their star signs in the paper - which is spirituality outside the church.

I believe the Church is lacking in alternatives to answer their questions, and calm their fears, so they resort to this kind of seeking.  It has been our experience that people are eager for security, to know the future, to understand themselves in greater depth.

If we were teaching them about the Mercy and goodness of God, His wisdom in ordering our lives; and about  abandoning their own wills, and trusting Him...there would no longer be a need to know the future.

If we could teach them to develop their relationship with the Lord, how to discern His voice, how to examine our conscience and be  willing to see what our attachments are, those things that cloud discernment, and perhaps even those things that are preventing us from intimacy with Him, that brings this security, I think they would be less focused on themselves, and have no more need to resort to the occult for their answers, which will be  erratic and misleading. And I am convinced the Lord has given us all the tools to attain to this life, within the church.
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« Reply #6 on: May 07, 2006, 08:35:50 PM »

What is Orthodoxy?

I think St. Seraphim of Sarov summed it up best with this simple statement, "The true aim of our Christian life consists of the acquisition of the Holy Spirit of God," the fruit of Whom is "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control." (Galatians 5:22)

Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never ends; as for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For our knowledge is imperfect and our prophecy is imperfect; but when the perfect comes, the imperfect will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall understand fully, even as I have been fully understood. So faith, hope, love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

(1 Corinthians 13:4-13)

This is the life of the Holy Spirit within the Church and within individual believers.  This is Orthodoxy.  Apart from this, all the Patristic wisdom in the world is nothing more than worldly philosophy.

"Acquire the Holy Spirit, and a thousand around you will be saved." - St. Seraphim of Sarov
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« Reply #7 on: May 07, 2006, 09:09:46 PM »

There's also a tradition of exorcism and faith healing in the Church, does that mean we are to reject psychology and medicine? On matters of science I will yield to science, on matters of metaphysics I will yield to the Church (and sometimes Plotinus Wink)...It makes about as much sense to reference a Church Father when speaking about Evolution as it does to reference a Church Father when discussing Circuit Theory...I fear you are comparing apples and oranges.
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« Reply #8 on: May 07, 2006, 10:18:28 PM »

There's also a tradition of exorcism and faith healing in the Church, does that mean we are to reject psychology and medicine? On matters of science I will yield to science, on matters of metaphysics I will yield to the Church (and sometimes Plotinus Wink)...It makes about as much sense to reference a Church Father when speaking about Evolution as it does to reference a Church Father when discussing Circuit Theory...I fear you are comparing apples and oranges.

  But does it make sense to reference a Darwinist in interpreting Genesis? It is technically accurate to say that that the Church Fathers had nothing to say specifically about Darwinian evolution. They did however have a bit to say about the interpretation of Genesis. Can origin science ever be anything as certifiable as empirical science? It seems to me that whether one is a young earther, old earther, Creationist, or Evolutionist all one can choose to believe are CONJECTURES based upon what each one believes to be the most reasonable INTERPRETATION of the evidence. Both ideas require a certain leap of faith. It's not as if an Evolutionist can have a "control group" of critters and watch them evolve over millions of years or a Creationist can have God agree to show up and make something "ex nihilo".............................
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« Reply #9 on: May 07, 2006, 11:09:30 PM »

What is Orthodoxy?

I think St. Seraphim of Sarov summed it up best with this simple statement, "The true aim of our Christian life consists of the acquisition of the Holy Spirit of God," the fruit of Whom is "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control." (Galatians 5:22)

I agree that we must have this, but Orthodoxy also is a 'how to', by following the teachings of Christ, living the Orthodox life.
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« Reply #10 on: May 07, 2006, 11:16:02 PM »

I agree that we must have this, but Orthodoxy also is a 'how to', by following the teachings of Christ, living the Orthodox life.
I agree with you that Orthodoxy also presents to us the ways, the 'how to', to acquire the Holy Spirit.  However, if the acquisition of the Holy Spirit is not our goal, then the 'how to' that Orthodoxy gives us becomes nothing more than a method and an end in and of itself.
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« Reply #11 on: May 08, 2006, 01:31:59 AM »

 But does it make sense to reference a Darwinist in interpreting Genesis? It is technically accurate to say that that the Church Fathers had nothing to say specifically about Darwinian evolution. They did however have a bit to say about the interpretation of Genesis. Can origin science ever be anything as certifiable as empirical science? It seems to me that whether one is a young earther, old earther, Creationist, or Evolutionist all one can choose to believe are CONJECTURES based upon what each one believes to be the most reasonable INTERPRETATION of the evidence. Both ideas require a certain leap of faith. It's not as if an Evolutionist can have a "control group" of critters and watch them evolve over millions of years or a Creationist can have God agree to show up and make something "ex nihilo".............................

There is much dispute amongst the fathers on these issues, you are certainly correct that there are some who tended towards literalism, traditionally known as the School of Antioch. Though I reject this school in favour of the allegorists; this is not to say that there are not some cultural and historical (though one must be very careful here) truths to be found in Scripture, but simply that these are not its primary value, the primary value is the theology that is derived through allegory. What we learn from Genesis is such things as God is the Creator and Ontological Sustainer of all things, and that mankind is in his image and likeness, and that man is not perfect but should strive for perfection...this is conveyed through a nice story, parable perhaps, that has no basis in history...though it could be revealing about the culture of those who wrote it. Scripture's primary purpose is to convey theological and metaphysical, not historical or scientific, truth. To quote Livy's view on history, which is probably applicable to much of scripture, 'This above all makes history useful and desirable: it unfolds before our eyes a glorious record of exemplary actions.' Today science has confirmed that this particular view of scripture is the more realistic of the two debated amongst the fathers.

As far as different societies, times, cultures, and their creation stories, you are correct that one cannot prove any with the same standards we would apply to, say, mathematics (mind you, no other science can be 'proven' to those standards). But what we can say about evolution is that it has produced tangible results (in genetics and pharmaceuticals for example), which should tell us that from a scientific perspective it is probably closer to the mark than any past creation story.
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« Reply #12 on: May 08, 2006, 01:58:52 AM »

.
Quote
Scripture's primary purpose is to convey theological and metaphysical, not historical or scientific, truth
Now I'll expand the discussion a bit.
Would it still be irrelevant to our Christian faith if Christ's birth of the Most Pure Virgin Mary were just a fable meant to convey some sort of idea (moral truth) but without any basis in the historical reality?
The same goes for Christ's Resurrection, and all his miracles.
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« Reply #13 on: May 08, 2006, 02:06:14 AM »

augustin,

Didn't St. Paul say that if Christ didn't rise then our faith is in vain?  I think that partially addresses the question.  THere are too many witnesses of the historical reality to deny that Jesus lived.  THe question then about whether His divinity and subsequent actions were fables are addressed by Paul's statement, methinks.
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« Reply #14 on: May 08, 2006, 02:12:28 AM »

That's my point, too; i.e.  without a real historical basis what we call "the economy of salvation" were meaningless or, at best, on the sam level as any other mithology.
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« Reply #15 on: May 08, 2006, 05:50:25 AM »

I agree with you that Orthodoxy also presents to us the ways, the 'how to', to acquire the Holy Spirit.  However, if the acquisition of the Holy Spirit is not our goal, then the 'how to' that Orthodoxy gives us becomes nothing more than a method and an end in and of itself.
I agree with that too!  Smiley

It's a spiritual symmetry/harmony
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« Reply #16 on: May 08, 2006, 08:51:33 AM »

. Now I'll expand the discussion a bit.
Would it still be irrelevant to our Christian faith if Christ's birth of the Most Pure Virgin Mary were just a fable meant to convey some sort of idea (moral truth) but without any basis in the historical reality?
The same goes for Christ's Resurrection, and all his miracles.

I didn't say that there wasn't any historical value to scripture, you're reading words into my post, I said that it is not the primary purpose and is less than entirely accurate. The primary history conveyed is the history of salvation, that sometimes, but now always, intersects with history proper.
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« Reply #17 on: May 09, 2006, 05:14:18 AM »

I didn't say that there wasn't any historical value to scripture, you're reading words into my post, I said that it is not the primary purpose and is less than entirely accurate. The primary history conveyed is the history of salvation, that sometimes, but now always, intersects with history proper.
Are you saying that there's historical events in the bible that aren't part of history in general? (e.g. like many who believe that the 'Exodus' event of the Bible never really happened)
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« Reply #18 on: May 09, 2006, 10:41:37 AM »

Are you saying that there's historical events in the bible that aren't part of history in general? (e.g. like many who believe that the 'Exodus' event of the Bible never really happened)

The story is a prefigurement of the Death and Resurrection of Christ, the leading people out of hades, and His spiritual triumph over evil. From a historical perspective, most the events are probably either greatly exaggerated, misplaced in history, or simply made up.
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« Reply #19 on: May 09, 2006, 11:52:24 AM »

From a historical perspective, most the events are probably either greatly exaggerated, misplaced in history, or simply made up.
Would you be willing or able to back up this assertion with evidence, preferably from "secular" history?  I'm not going to just let this assertion go unchallenged.
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« Reply #20 on: May 09, 2006, 12:12:44 PM »

Would you be willing or able to back up this assertion with evidence, preferably from "secular" history?  I'm not going to just let this assertion go unchallenged.
Well, the three biggest things that "secular" history always brings up are: (1) The apparent contradictions in direction of escape, the crossing of the Sea and the sojourn in the Sinai; (2) the logistics of a large caravan of Hebrews quickly crossing the Red Sea, which, in general, is 150 miles wide (even the Suez area is 17 miles long, which is QUITE a day's trek for even a small caravan); and (3) the Hebrew text, which NEVER says the Israelites crossed the "Red Sea," but only that they crossed the "Sea of Reeds."

This last point is quite interesting, since archaeologists have found reason to believe that the Hebrews may have fled from Egyptian cities very near a salt-water marsh area, where there are many small "seas of reeds," so to speak.

In this sense, perhaps what is most at fault is the traditional reading of the text of Scripture (as opposed to the text itself). Often, through translation or eisigesis, popular theologoumena base themselves on something that is not actually in the text, e.g. Thomas touching Christ's side and thereby being spiritually rejuvenated.

Ummm...here's just one random site I found when I typed in "Sea of Reeds." It's actually not half bad as a summary: http://www.crivoice.org/yamsuph.html
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« Reply #21 on: May 10, 2006, 01:35:02 AM »

I saw an excellent film on the crossing of the Israelites, where undersea divers discovered coral formations in the shape of chariot wheels.  It was in a very deep part of the Red Sea and met all the criteria described in the Scriptural account.

I will try to find it for you.

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« Reply #22 on: May 10, 2006, 01:55:59 AM »

From a historical perspective, most the events are probably either greatly exaggerated, misplaced in history, or simply made up.

I think it is very dangerous to undermine the Holy Scriptures by saying that one part was an exaggeration or even a fabricated story.  Jesus quoted the Old Testament, so if you can explain away the miracles of God in the Old Testament,  you have just laid the foundation for other parts to be explained away, and its not much of a leap from there to "Jesus was married"  or "He never really died"  or "He never rose from the dead".

It is troubling to me that key passages in Scripture are handled casually,  but canons are handled with gravity.   It seems it should be the other way around.

The Jewish people are among the most astute in the world, I don't believe they would celebrate Passover with such solemnity for thousands of years,  if the events portrayed in the Scriptures were dramatized and exaggerated.  I fully believe the account in the Scriptures just as it is presented.

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« Reply #23 on: May 10, 2006, 02:13:29 AM »

The Sea of Reeds was found in Martin Luther's translation of the Hebrew text into German. Since I personally do not have a Septuagint, what does it exactly say in it regarding the Mosaic crossing?

I am a literalist in regards to the Torah as far as what the accounts tell. I could not call them a fabrication or a gross exxageration personally. There can be several meanings to one text, as we see throughout many biblical tales regarding Messianic prophesies. Why could there be a literal tale of the crossing of the Red Sea also expressing a Messianic prophesy? One instance being the tree cast into the lake to turn the bitter waters sweet for example?

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« Reply #24 on: May 10, 2006, 02:17:01 AM »

Why could there be a literal tale of the crossing of the Red Sea also expressing a Messianic prophesy?
I believe the narrative of the crossing of the Red Sea is one of the 15 OT lessons for the Vesperal Liturgy of Holy Saturday because of its prefiguring of salvation through Baptism.
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« Reply #25 on: May 10, 2006, 02:18:53 AM »

I would rather agree with Mother Anastasia and Panagiotis.
It simply sounds wrong to my ears to say that the sacred history is made up and exaggerated.
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« Reply #26 on: May 10, 2006, 02:27:54 AM »

There is much dispute amongst the fathers on these issues, you are certainly correct that there are some who tended towards literalism, traditionally known as the School of Antioch. Though I reject this school in favour of the allegorists;

I totally agree that God uses events to paint a picture, one that speaks clearly.  An allegory.

But I also believe that because He is the Almighty, because He alone sustains the Earth on her axis,  He alone upholds all of creation by His love, marking the boundaries for water, wind and land, that it is absolutely nothing  for Him to work any miracle he chooses to paint a vivid picture, that will be retold throughout all ages until the end of the world, in order that we might get a little tiny glimpse into His unfathomable power, as well as His mercy.

And it is not consistent with His character to let men exaggerate a natural event into a miracle in order for Him to make His point. 

It makes a great deal more sense that He would create an outlandish set of circumstances, a stubborn Pharaoh,  plagues that mock the Egyptian gods,  the singling out of the firstborn,  and finally the grand departure in an impossible situation,  with a pillar of fire for protection, the separation of an ocean to create dry land, and as a final exclamation point, the utter destruction of Pharaohs army.

Considering the generations and  length of time the Israelites lived in this ungodly climate,  I believe it was also necessary to  demonstrate to them exactly Who their God was.

But the most convincing argument to me, is, this is just not His character.
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« Reply #27 on: May 10, 2006, 07:10:01 AM »

In my class (c.1982) at High School, Br. Brogan taught us the "Sea of Reeds" theory to the crossing. It went like this;
At the head of the Red Sea is a "Sea of Reeds" which is tidal. In Hebrew they don't have any vowels, so the word rd could either mean red or reed.

This immediately struck me as flawed, because the Hebrew word for red, isn't r-e-d. So unless someone knows that the Hebrew words for red and reed are also similar, I'm stuck at rejecting that particular theory.

I also don't understand why people don't believe God parted the Red Sea. He's all powerful  Cool
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metron ariston


« Reply #28 on: May 10, 2006, 09:03:20 AM »

Well, I don't do Semitic languages, so I can't personally confirm that this is correct, but a couple of people from the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations over at Harvard have told me something rather similar to this, so I'm just going to quote it:

Quote
However, apart from the matter of the number of people is an even more significant issue. The problem is that the biblical account never refers to the Red Sea by name. In fact, nowhere in the entire Old Testament Hebrew text is the body of water associated with the exodus ever called the "Red Sea." Instead in the Hebrew text the reference is to the yam suph. The word yam in Hebrew is the ordinary word for "sea," although in Hebrew it is used for any large body of water whether fresh or salt. The word suph is the word for "reeds" or "rushes," the word used in Ex. 2:3, 5 to describe where Moses' basket was placed in the Nile. So, the biblical reference throughout the Old Testament is to the "sea of reeds" (e.g., Num 14:25, Deut 1:40, Josh 4:23, Psa 106:7. etc.).

Now the simple fact is, we do not know exactly what body of water is referenced by yam suph in Scripture, which is the origin of much of the debate. The translation "Red Sea" is simply a traditional translation introduced into English by the King James Version through the second century BC Greek Septuagint and the later Latin Vulgate. It then became a traditional translation of the Hebrew terms. However, many modern translations either translate yam suph as "Sea of Reeds" or use the traditional translation and add a footnote for the Hebrew meaning.

( From the original little article I referenced: http://www.crivoice.org/yamsuph.html )
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But for I am a man not textueel I wol noght telle of textes neuer a deel. (Chaucer, The Manciple's Tale, 1.131)
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