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Author Topic: What does the Church mean to Orthodoxy?  (Read 6074 times) Average Rating: 0
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chrisb
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« on: June 06, 2006, 04:51:13 PM »

Hi Everyone,

Okay this has been interesting but I'd like to move the topic on to discuss what does the Church mean to Orthodoxy?

I look at the Church as the mystical body of Christ in which all 'true' believers are members through the grace of our Lord and Savior. It presences is made manifest wherever two or three are gathered in His name.

For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them. - Romans 18:20
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« Reply #1 on: June 06, 2006, 06:07:20 PM »

Well,  the Orthodox Church teaches that it alone comprises the Body of Christ, and thus "the Church".  There is no other church, and there are no sacraments outside the Church.  However, just because you aren't  a member of the Orthodox Church doesn't mean you are damned or that you don't have a real, saving relationship with Jesus.  But we don't go so far as to speculate about what happens to such people or their "status", unlike the Roman Catholic Church which speaks of "anonymous Catholics".  Orthodoxy teaches that the Church or the Body of Christ is visible, and the Orthodox Church is it.  It most certainly does not hold to the idea of an invisible, mystical church whose members are scattered throughout various denominations and confessions, since the Church cannot be divided.  But I could be wrong...I am still new at this whole being Orthodox thing.....So please forgive me if I have said something incorrect.
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« Reply #2 on: June 06, 2006, 06:18:53 PM »

Here's what the Southern Baptist Convention says about 'The Church'...

A New Testament church of the Lord Jesus Christ is an autonomous local congregation of baptized believers, associated by covenant in the faith and fellowship of the gospel; observing the two ordinances of Christ, governed by His laws, exercising the gifts, rights, and privileges invested in them by His Word, and seeking to extend the gospel to the ends of the earth. Each congregation operates under the Lordship of Christ through democratic processes. In such a congregation each member is responsible and accountable to Christ as Lord. Its scriptural officers are pastors and deacons. While both men and women are gifted for service in the church, the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture.

The New Testament speaks also of the church as the Body of Christ which includes all of the redeemed of all the ages, believers from every tribe, and tongue, and people, and nation.

Matthew 16:15-19; 18:15-20; Acts 2:41-42,47; 5:11-14; 6:3-6; 13:1-3; 14:23,27; 15:1-30; 16:5; 20:28; Romans 1:7; 1 Corinthians 1:2; 3:16; 5:4-5; 7:17; 9:13-14; 12; Ephesians 1:22-23; 2:19-22; 3:8-11,21; 5:22-32; Philippians 1:1; Colossians 1:18; 1 Timothy 2:9-14; 3:1-15; 4:14; Hebrews 11:39-40; 1 Peter 5:1-4; Revelation 2-3; 21:2-3.

What's your reaction to this...
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« Reply #3 on: June 06, 2006, 06:20:07 PM »

From the Synodikon of the Sunday of Orthodoxy

To those who attack the Church of Christ by teaching that Christ’s Church is divided into so-called branches which differ in doctrine and way of life, or that the Church does not exist visibly, but will be formed in the future, when all branches or sects or denominations, and even religions, will be united into one body; and who do not distinguish the priesthood and mysteries of the Church from those of Heretics, but say that baptism and Eucharist of heretics is effectual for salvation; therefore, to those who knowingly have communion with these aforementioned Heretics or who advocate, disseminate or defend their new heresy, commonly called ecumenism or the pan-Heresy of Ecumenism, under pretext of brotherly love or the supposed unification of separated Christians.

ANATHEMA, ANATHEMA, ANATHEMA!!!
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« Reply #4 on: June 06, 2006, 06:25:32 PM »

From the Synodikon of the Sunday of Orthodoxy

To those who attack the Church of Christ by teaching that Christ’s Church is divided into so-called branches which differ in doctrine and way of life, or that the Church does not exist visibly, but will be formed in the future, when all branches or sects or denominations, and even religions, will be united into one body; and who do not distinguish the priesthood and mysteries of the Church from those of Heretics, but say that baptism and Eucharist of heretics is effectual for salvation; therefore, to those who knowingly have communion with these aforementioned Heretics or who advocate, disseminate or defend their new heresy, commonly called ecumenism or the pan-Heresy of Ecumenism, under pretext of brotherly love or the supposed unification of separated Christians.

ANATHEMA, ANATHEMA, ANATHEMA!!!


See my problem with Orthodoxy is that you think the Church is your posession where I think we are the posession of the Church. That is a really big difference to me.

Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. - Colossians 2:8
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« Reply #5 on: June 06, 2006, 06:31:03 PM »

Point of Information (from all those members who have been on this board for a long time): Is there not some old thread on this topic (possibly even several)? No sense in re-inventing the wheel every time someone asks a standard Protestant vs. Orthodox question.

To start, we should simply repeat the words of the Creed, i.e. (I believe) in One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. We've already talked a bit about what "apostolic" means. Fr. Georges Florovsky points out that the attributive adjective "Catholic" does not belong to the phenomenal and empirical, but to the noumenal and ontological plane of Reality -- a distinction of essential importance to early Christian thought and experience.

Anyway, for the beginnings of an answer to your questions, you should read Fr. Georges Florovsky standard essay on the topic, The Limits of the Church (http://www.wcc-coe.org/wcc/who/crete-01-e.html). Fr. Alexander Schmemann also has some pertinent things to say about the nature of the Church as the mystical and sacramental Body of Christ here: http://www.schmemann.org/byhim/ecclesiological-notes.html

If one HAD to say something other than the Creed, I imagine it would be:

The Church is the mystical, eschatological and eucharistic Body of Christ, visibly united in a common confession and common experience of one Lord, one faith, one baptism and, hence, one cup (cf. Ephesians 4:5).

Since She is mystical and eschatological, the Church is not only composed of two or three people who happen to gather together, but of all people from all ages and all places who have been "born from above of water and the spirit" (cf. John 3:3-5).  Because of this unity in Christ, in faith and in sacramental life, the Church is also a visible and historical body. As St. Paul says, She is "built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the cornerstone" (Ephesians, 2:20). As a real Body, She is an object, not a phantom; she is a Reality, not a name. She has been built on the foundation of people who espoused the Faith and lived according to it, and She is maintained in like manner, through the guidance of duly ordained people (cf. 1 Timothy 3) and through the inspiration the Holy Spirit, Whom Jesus Christ, the Cornerstone, sent to His Church as a Comforter in order to guide Her into all the truth (cf. John 16:13).

Since She is eucharistic, the Church is also constantly engaged in the anaphoric reality of Christ's priesthood: She offers everything to God and celebrates everything He has given Her -- and, in return, receives His Grace in over-abundance. She is doxological, constantly thanking and praising God, confessing His works of salvation, and sanctifying the entirety of creation through prayer and blessing.
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« Reply #6 on: June 06, 2006, 06:53:04 PM »

From the Synodikon of the Sunday of Orthodoxy

Of course, that part of the Synodikon was not written by any group of Holy Fathers, nor by any Synod of Bishops. (Although Holy Transfiguration produces nice editions of many important texts, including the Menaia, it is never above adding its own take into the text).
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« Reply #7 on: June 06, 2006, 07:07:30 PM »

Of course, that part of the Synodikon was not written by any group of Holy Fathers, nor by any Synod of Bishops. (Although Holy Transfiguration produces nice editions of many important texts, including the Menaia, it is never above adding its own take into the text).

This part of the Synodikon came from ROCOR, and if it's in the synodikon (albeit added..) I will honor it.
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« Reply #8 on: June 06, 2006, 07:13:55 PM »

..what does the Church mean to Orthodoxy?

Control and Power.
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« Reply #9 on: June 06, 2006, 07:21:40 PM »

Control and Power.

If you Hate Orthodoxy's Control and Power, why stay?
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« Reply #10 on: June 06, 2006, 07:43:59 PM »

If you Hate Orthodoxy's Control and Power, why stay?

"Meet the new boss; same as the old boss"
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« Reply #11 on: June 06, 2006, 07:51:03 PM »

"Meet the new boss; same as the old boss"

Oh go find a Nice House Church to be a part of....
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« Reply #12 on: June 06, 2006, 08:18:29 PM »

The Church can't be defined really, it can only be lived. It is a communion of deification and the body of Christ.  That's about all that can really be said.  I'd suggest you read "The Mind of the Orthodox Church" by Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos (www.pelagia.org)

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« Reply #13 on: June 06, 2006, 11:03:46 PM »

Oh go find a Nice House Church to be a part of....

Hmm...Some good advice for you to consider there, Tom...
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« Reply #14 on: June 06, 2006, 11:46:06 PM »

I look at the Church as the mystical body of Christ in which all 'true' believers are members through the grace of our Lord and Savior. It presences is made manifest wherever two or three are gathered in His name.

It is the Eucharist that binds all believers together in Christ.

John 6:56  He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him.
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« Reply #15 on: June 07, 2006, 09:11:09 AM »

ChrisB:

You've opened up a good topic. You are respectful of our beliefs. Thank you. Some of our better educated members have provided some thoughtful answers to you.
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« Reply #16 on: June 07, 2006, 11:10:13 AM »

You might find this introduction to the Church in Orthodox thinking helpful:

http://orthodoxinfo.com/general/pomaz_church.aspx
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« Reply #17 on: June 07, 2006, 02:30:13 PM »

Paul uses the greek word 'ekklesia'. What did that word mean in Paul's time?

You all are waxing poetic a bit, and that is fine, but I'd like to get to a little bit more literal meaning.
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« Reply #18 on: June 07, 2006, 02:32:18 PM »

Paul uses the greek word 'ekklesia'. What did that word mean in Paul's time?

You all are waxing poetic a bit, and that is fine, but I'd like to get to a little bit more literal meaning.

Now, if those coming from or currenly in a Protestant/"non-denom" background asked questions like this all the time, then they would be a lot better off.
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« Reply #19 on: June 07, 2006, 03:05:29 PM »

Paul uses the greek word 'ekklesia'. What did that word mean in Paul's time?

You all are waxing poetic a bit, and that is fine, but I'd like to get to a little bit more literal meaning.

It was a common Greek word for people called together for a purpose - e.g., a political meeting. It does not mean "called-out" ones (even though it comes from ek = out of/from + kalein = to call/invite) - though often in "preacher Greek" you'll hear someone try to make the point that the "church" is the group of people "called out" of the world to know and serve God, etc. Not so.

From the "Middle Liddell" Greek Lexicon:

ekklêsia 1 [ekklêtos]

I. an assembly of the citizens regularly summoned, the legislative assembly, Thuc., etc.:--at Athens, the ordinary Assemblies were called kuriai, the extraordinary being sunklêtoi, ap. Dem.; ekkl. sunageirein, sunagein, sullegein, athroizein to call an assembly, Hdt., etc.; ekkl. poiein "to make a house, " Ar.; ekkl. gignetai, kathistatai an assembly is held, Thuc.; ekkl. dialuein, anastêsai to dissolve it, id=Thuc., etc.; anaballein to adjourn it, id=Thuc.

II. in NTest. the Church, either the body, or the place.

From the larger/full LSJ Lexicon:

ekklêsi-a , hê, ekklêtos

A. assembly duly summoned, less general than sullogos, Th.2.22, Pl.Grg.456b, etc. ; applied to the Homeric Assemblies, Arist.Pol.1285a11 ; to the Samian Assembly, Hdt.3.142 ; to the Spartan, Th.1.87 ; to the meeting of the Amphictyons at Delphi, Aeschin.3.124 ; at Athens, e. kuriai, opp. sunklêtoi, Arist.Ath.43.4 ; kuria e., at Amorgos, IG12(7).237.46 ; e. sunageirein, sunagein, sullegein, athroizein, call an assembly, Hdt.3.142, Th.2.60, 8.97, X.HG1.6.8 ; e. poiein Ar.Eq.746 , Th.1.139,al. ; e. poiein tini Ar.Ach.169 ; didonai tini Plb.4.34.6 ; e. gignetai an assembly is held, Th.6.8 ; katastasês e. Id.1.31 ; ên e. tois stratêgois And.1.2 ; e. dialuein, anastêsai, dissolve it, Th.8.69 (Pass.),X.HG2.4.42 ; aphienai Plu.TG16 ; e. aneblêthê was adjourned, Th.5.45 ; e. peri tinos Ar. Av.1030 , etc.
2. =Lat. Comitia, e. lochitis, phratrikê, = Comitia Centuriata, Curiata, D.H.4.20.
3. = psêphisma, anagignôskomenês e. Philostr.VS2.1.11.

II. in LXX, the Jewish congregation, De. 31.30,al.
2. in NT, the Church, as a body of Christians, Ev.Matt. 16.18, 1 Ep.Cor.11.22 ; hê kat' oikon tinos e. Ep.Rom.16.5 ; as a building, Cod.Just.1.1.5 Intr., etc.

Available at: http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/cgi-bin/resolveform
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« Reply #20 on: June 07, 2006, 03:16:17 PM »

Paul uses the greek word 'ekklesia'. What did that word mean in Paul's time?

You all are waxing poetic a bit, and that is fine, but I'd like to get to a little bit more literal meaning.

I am going to steal a bit from the article I recommended.ÂÂ  'ekklesia' means "to gather", but the New Testament description of the Church is much more than just a gathering.ÂÂ  The Church is the branch of the Great Vine that is Christ.ÂÂ  The Church is the flock of the Good Shepherd who is Christ.ÂÂ  The Church is the Body whose Head is Christ.ÂÂ  The Church is a building whose Cornerstone is Christ.

Interestingly enough, all these are pictures of visible entities with structure and perhaps even hierarchy.

The Church was birthed at Pentecost and has been adding members through Baptism since that day.ÂÂ  Bishops have been consecrated in the Church since the 1st Century and that Apostolic laying on of hands has continued unbroken for nearly 2000 years now.

The Church is called to worship God and to participate in His life and to teach the truths of the faith to all who will hear.ÂÂ  These truths have been passed on from generation to generation, have been codified in the Ecumenical Councils and remain the same yesterday, today and forever.

The Church is not an institution that has any power of its own, the Church receives grace and truth from God.ÂÂ  The Church receives the Scriptures from God, receives the Liturgy from God, receives the priesthood from God, etc.


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« Reply #21 on: June 07, 2006, 03:36:51 PM »

I am going to steal a bit from the article I recommended.ÂÂ  'ekklesia' means "to gather", but the New Testament description of the Church is much more than just a gathering.ÂÂ  The Church is the branch of the Great Vine that is Christ.ÂÂ  The Church is the flock of the Good Shepherd who is Christ.ÂÂ  The Church is the Body whose Head is Christ.ÂÂ  The Church is a building whose Cornerstone is Christ.

Interestingly enough, all these are pictures of visible entities with structure and perhaps even hierarchy.

The Church was birthed at Pentecost and has been adding members through Baptism since that day.ÂÂ  Bishops have been consecrated in the Church since the 1st Century and that Apostolic laying on of hands has continued unbroken for nearly 2000 years now.

The Church is called to worship God and to participate in His life and to teach the truths of the faith to all who will hear.ÂÂ  These truths have been passed on from generation to generation, have been codified in the Ecumenical Councils and remain the same yesterday, today and forever.

The Church is not an institution that has any power of its own, the Church receives grace and truth from God.ÂÂ  The Church receives the Scriptures from God, receives the Liturgy from God, receives the priesthood from God, etc.

Thanks for the reply DownfallRecords,

One of the things that chaffs me a bit with what I preceive to be the Orthodox meaning of 'The Church' is this apparent 'Separation' between 'The Church' and those who are its 'members' (i.e. Body of Believers). In Baptist Theology there simply 'is no' distinction to be made between the institution and its members. The Church 'is' the Body of Believers unseparable and undistinct from one or the other. How do you know 'The Church' you might ask? We'd answer the same why you'd know an individual believer 'by their fruit' (which is the fruit of the Holy Spirit). It is simply not wrapped up into this formal rules of profession and ritual but in their fruit. If one doesn't manifest the fruit of the Spirit one simply isn't fruitful. We believe that every 'local Church of Believers' shares in the Body of Christ through the grace that makes them as 'local assemblies' fruitful. This Grace does not manifest in the institution but through it's members as the 'Fruit of the Spirit'.

I might post another response later but I see a bit of a disconnect with Orthodoxy.
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« Reply #22 on: June 07, 2006, 03:38:02 PM »

Paul uses the greek word 'ekklesia'. What did that word mean in Paul's time?

This is addressed in most of the articles which have already been referenced in this thread, especially in the beginning of Fr. Michael Pomazansky's article: http://orthodoxinfo.com/general/pomaz_church.aspx

As you no doubt already know, "ekklesia" has many meanings, both spiritual, organizational and political. (In fact, Liddell and Scott tell us nothing useful, since they give the NT meaning simply as "church.") It is interesting, though, isn't it, that St. Paul's most famous and repeated use of "ekklesia" appears in I Corinthians 11, which precipitates an extended explanation of the foundationally eucharistic nature of that assembly?

At any rate, we could also ask: If St. Paul thought the Church, which he called the Pillar and Ground of Truth, was a local assembly (and that's how he used the word "ekklesia"), why then did St. Paul visit, oversee and write so many letters to different eparchial capitals? On this, see Francis Dvornik's Byzantium and the Roman Primacy, which shows that the Church, from its earliest days, "conformed itself, for the organization of its ecclesiastical administration, to the political divisions of the Roman Empire," (29). Even at the time of the New Testament, letters were addressed to the churches in the capitals of the provinces, and these capital churches were then charged with spreading the word to the rest of the province. Thus, we have a nascent structure designed to foster doctrinal unity and thereby serve as the basis of common faith and common cup.

Quote
You all are waxing poetic a bit, and that is fine, but I'd like to get to a little bit more literal meaning.

That poetry is merely a description of actual reality and experience, and is thus as literal (but not linguistically literal) as can be. I suppose at this point I have to just agree with several other posters: The Church is the mystical Body of Christ. Until one experiences that glorious reality (founded, as St. Paul says in I Corinthians 11, on the celebration of the eucharist), then all attempts to convey this glorious reality are just a matter of words.
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« Reply #23 on: June 07, 2006, 04:35:12 PM »

St. Paul writes to the Corinthians that they are the Body of Christ because they share in the Body of Christ.ÂÂ  Thus the Church is ontologically linked to the celebration of the Eucharist.ÂÂ  The Eucharist is a gift of Communion to be celebrated in a Community that is united in belief, practice and confession.ÂÂ  The Eucharist is the ultimate act of worship and the Church is called to be a place of worship and therefore we have this beautiful connection between the two.ÂÂ  

I think that this is the point where the Orthodox must begin drawing lines on "who" is "in" the Church.ÂÂ  If the Church is the celebration of the Eucharist by like-minded and confessing Christians, and that Body of believers can be historically, visibily traced through 2000 years, then it does call into question the "Churchness" of those who have broken away from the confession and the practice and the Eucharist of the ancient Church.ÂÂ  

But again, that is not to say that anyone is "outside" of the Church.  One can say where the Church is, one cannot say where it is not...in my opinion...i think....
 
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« Reply #24 on: June 07, 2006, 06:09:26 PM »


 (I believe) in One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.

So why do we have so many jurisdictions in the United States?  And why are efforts to unite all of them always postponed or resisted?
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« Reply #25 on: June 07, 2006, 06:55:23 PM »

So why do we have so many jurisdictions in the United States?  And why are efforts to unite all of them always postponed or resisted?

Are you actually curious, or are you asking a rhetorical question? If the latter, do you think that administrative multiplicity -- although obviously a breach of tradition and canon -- actually compromises the very nature of the Church? Does it make the Church, say, fragmented, unholy, parochial and heretical?

Jurisdictional division does not equal schism, since there is still unity in confession, practice and cup.
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« Reply #26 on: June 07, 2006, 07:28:22 PM »

So why do we have so many jurisdictions in the United States?ÂÂ  And why are efforts to unite all of them always postponed or resisted?

Well, the Ecumenical Patriarch governs several jurisdictions in the US.  And he doesn't want to see them govern themselves (They are his main income). The OCA is already autocephalous, but the Antiochians have already chosen to head down the road toward autocephaly themselves, rather than just joining the already autocephalous OCA. And the ROCOR is working on relations with Russia at the moment, so they need to sort that out first before they think about american Orthodox unity (Provided they want to).

But in the end, the answer to your question is one word. Ego.

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« Reply #27 on: June 07, 2006, 08:50:30 PM »

Are you actually curious, or are you asking a rhetorical question? If the latter, do you think that administrative multiplicity -- although obviously a breach of tradition and canon -- actually compromises the very nature of the Church? Does it make the Church, say, fragmented, unholy, parochial and heretical?

Jurisdictional division does not equal schism, since there is still unity in confession, practice and cup.

It's a serious question.  My brother, Greek Orthodox, married an Armenian Orthodox. They got married in her church and a Greek Orthodox priest was not even permitted to be part of the ceremony.  He was only permitted to say a little something after the ceremony.  That doesn't sound like unity to me.

Another question which I have pondered recently is, in the beginning, there was only one church.  Then we had the schisms.  Then we formed different denominations.  I'm not even sure how many Christian denominations there are today. 

My own simple answer is that human nature got in the way of the church.  Somebody has to be the boss.  Somebody has a big head and wants to be Top Dog.  Somebody wants to pull the purse strings.  I hope my remarks don't offend anyone, but that is what I feel in my heart.  There is one God.  Why do we need thousands of different denominations of Christianaity?  Did we not understand the teachings of Jesus and the Apostles?
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« Reply #28 on: June 07, 2006, 09:15:08 PM »

It's a serious question.ÂÂ  My brother, Greek Orthodox, married an Armenian Orthodox. They got married in her church and a Greek Orthodox priest was not even permitted to be part of the ceremony.ÂÂ  He was only permitted to say a little something after the ceremony.ÂÂ  That doesn't sound like unity to me.

Another question which I have pondered recently is, in the beginning, there was only one church.ÂÂ  Then we had the schisms.ÂÂ  Then we formed different denominations.ÂÂ  I'm not even sure how many Christian denominations there are today.ÂÂ  

My own simple answer is that human nature got in the way of the church.ÂÂ  Somebody has to be the boss.ÂÂ  Somebody has a big head and wants to be Top Dog.ÂÂ  Somebody wants to pull the purse strings.ÂÂ  I hope my remarks don't offend anyone, but that is what I feel in my heart.ÂÂ  There is one God.ÂÂ  Why do we need thousands of different denominations of Christianaity?ÂÂ  Did we not understand the teachings of Jesus and the Apostles?

Well, the Armenian Orthodox Church is non-calcedonian.  They are not even of the Same belief as the Greek Orthodox Church.

in regard to the rest of your post.  I believe you are incorrect.  It's not that people got in the way of the Church.  It's that men decided to leave the Church and start their own based on their own opinions.

In Christ,
Reader Nikolai
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« Reply #29 on: June 07, 2006, 09:18:24 PM »

in regard to the rest of your post.ÂÂ  I believe you are incorrect.ÂÂ  It's not that people got in the way of the Church.ÂÂ  It's that men decided to leave the Church and start their own based on their own opinions.

OK I stand corrected.  But I still believe ego played a small part in their decisions.

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« Reply #30 on: June 07, 2006, 09:20:41 PM »

Well, the Armenian Orthodox Church is non-calcedonian.ÂÂ  They are not even of the Same belief as the Greek Orthodox Church.

Oh Geez. "Not even". That's a bit extreme.
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« Reply #31 on: June 07, 2006, 11:53:03 PM »

In Christ,
Reader Nikolai



Feel free to rip my post apart, It is mearly my opinion anyway.ÂÂ  

Thanks, Reader Nikolai, I will glady oblige with a question of my own: What difference is there between multiple daughter churches versus multiple autocephalous ones as far as jurisdictional unity is concerned? None that I can see. Do you assume your charge of "ego"tism will disappear as each church gains full independence? I don't think so; perhaps for some, but not all. Merely my opinion as well  Wink
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« Reply #32 on: June 08, 2006, 08:29:04 AM »

It's a serious question.  My brother, Greek Orthodox, married an Armenian Orthodox. They got married in her church and a Greek Orthodox priest was not even permitted to be part of the ceremony.  He was only permitted to say a little something after the ceremony.  That doesn't sound like unity to me.

Ah, I see what you mean now Psalti Boy. The situation you describe is a bit different than what I thought you were commenting on. The reason the Greek Orthodox priest could not actually partake in the wedding ceremony is because, as of yet, the Armenian Orthodox Church is not in communion with any Eastern Orthodox communion (Ecumenical Patriarchate, Antioch, Jerusalem, Moscow, Romanian, Greece, Serbia,  etc.). That's because the Armenian Church never accepted the Council of Chalcedon in 451 (although they didn't decide to reject the council until a good number of years after the fact...actually, they didn't even send representatives to Chalcedon because Armenia was in the midst of a major war). They are thus not part of the Eastern Orthodox communion of Churches, but they are obviously members of the so-called Oriental Orthodox Church, which, in recent years, has had very good relations with the Eastern Orthodox Church. Many hope that, eventually, communion will be restored. In the meantime, however, we are not united and, thus, the Armenian Orthodox Church is currently actually a different Church (just like, say, the Roman Catholic Church is its own distinct Church).

This is a different situation, however, than overlapping jurisdictions. For example, if your brother had married someone in the Russian Orthodox Church (or any other Orthodox Church in the Eastern Orthodox communion), there would have been no problem, since we are all one Faith, one baptism and one cup -- even if we currently have some organizational difficulties outside of the old countries.
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« Reply #33 on: June 08, 2006, 11:08:01 AM »

You know Baptists talk about 'local' Churches as their main topic when they dialogue about The Church because they tend to believe that 'The Church' or 'Universal' Church only manifests itself as 'local' Churches.

Here are Millard Erickson's comments on this matter because I think he gives a good Baptist perspective on the issue. He concludes that the church is "the whole body of those who through Christ's death have been savingly reconciled to God and have received new life. It includes all such persons, whether in heaven or on earth. While it is universal in nature, it finds expression in local groupings of believers which display the same qualities as does the body of Christ as a whole" ("Christian Theology" first ed. 1034).

It appears to me that Orthodoxy, in their need to claim possession of The Church, define it with a host of definitions which then they argue is only themselves. I can appreciate that but because these definitions fall outside of Scripture and thus within the Traditions of men I have to weigh them as to their real value and merit.

I have never judged ones salvation on ones membership to an institution of men or by the participation in church ordinances which are defined by men and not Scripture so I have a hard time accepting Orthodoxy as something more than what it appears to be. I can appreciate your opinions and your desires to assert your opinions but I still feel that ones salvation is ultimately between ones heart and ones Creator and we simply can't know ones heart.

It appears to me debate over jurisdiction and lines of succession have over shadowed the evidence which is ultimately given to us through Scripture to determine ones relationship with ones Creator and it is the 'fruits of the Holy Spirit' active and revealed in the life of a congregation and it's members. I feel like many of you in attempting to establish your own sense of justification miss this and thus miss the whole point of the gospel.

I believe many of you, especially Padro, can present a find argument for the validity of your tradition and I really appreciate that but I fail to see the 'fruit of the Holy Spirit' any 'more present' in your lives and your congregations than other Christian Groups. If truly the graces of heaven flowed all the more in your tradition, you have all done ever so poorly with putting it into effectual use as evidence as such and I don't mean that as a put down because I don't believe Catholics and others, on a whole, do much better.

Perhaps my research into Orthodoxy is waining down perhaps not but I really don't see a lot of your arguments meritorious over what I have witnessed 'first-hand' in the piety of simple Christian folk who rely on the word of God and a simple local Church to manifest their fruit in the Spirit. Ultimately I feel such is what we are called to do as Christians.

Perhaps I am wrong but I don't believe so.
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« Reply #34 on: June 08, 2006, 11:28:53 AM »

You know Baptists talk about 'local' Churches as their main topic when they dialogue about The Church because they tend to believe that 'The Church' or 'Universal' Church only manifests itself as 'local' Churches.

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« Reply #35 on: June 08, 2006, 11:45:20 AM »

Perhaps my research into Orthodoxy is waining down perhaps not but I really don't see a lot of your arguments meritorious over what I have witnessed 'first-hand' in the piety of simple Christian folk who rely on the word of God and a simple local Church to manifest their fruit in the Spirit. Ultimately I feel such is what we are called to do as Christians.

Well ChrisB, I do wish you God's blessings.  I think that ultimately what we have hear is an inability on both of our sides to express ourselves, or to understand fully what the other is expressing.  Some of this, of course, is the ambiguity of the internet.  But I think a larger issue is the fact that we use the same Scriptural words and yet mean something completely different.  This comes from the Orthodox having read Scripture through a certain tradition for many hundreds of years and the children of the Reformation having read scripture through a different light for many hundreds of years.  Of course, to the Orthodox this again calls for an authority in interpretation, the collective "mind of the Church through the ages" if you will.  But for the Baptist it may seem that we just don't understand the "clear meaning of the Scriptures".  Again: same words, different interpretations. 

And of course we cannot judge another's salvation.  This is for God alone to know, and what is important is that we know that He desires all men to be saved.

I do recommend that at some point you attend a liturgy though, not to convince you of anything but just so you can get a clearer picture of a huge portion of Christendom.  The internet is no place to "learn" religion, and especially not Orthodoxy, as the Church puts much more of its heart into its worship than it does into its apologetics.

Anyhow. Thanks for the questions.

Also, as far as "simple piety" goes - I do believe that this is what the  the Orthodox Church is built on.  We here on the internet are zealous theology geeks and certainly not the majority.  One needs only look at the history of Russian Christian people to know a devout and steadfast heart. Then again, their simple piety looks very different than that of the Evangelical's simple piety - but half of that is probably culture and the other half religion.

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« Reply #36 on: June 08, 2006, 11:45:35 AM »

Perhaps my research into Orthodoxy is waining down perhaps not but I really don't see a lot of your arguments meritorious over what I have witnessed 'first-hand' in the piety of simple Christian folk who rely on the word of God and a simple local Church to manifest their fruit in the Spirit.

Does it seem consistent or fair to compare one's personal assessment of a foreign tradition's arguments to what one has witnessed in personal interaction with members of one's own tradition? Shouldn't one compare "argument" to "argument" (as if that mattered!), or long-standing personal experience to long-standing personal experience? I certainly would not personally judge the validity or fruit of an entire Protestant tradition based on my assessment of the meritoriousness of a few adherents' arguments on a Baptist Internet discussion board. (Had I the cheek, I might sign on to their site and assess the meritoriousness of their arguments, but certainly not their personal and communal spiritual fruit as well.)

The fruit of the Spirit is indeed what's most important, and that's why Orthodoxy professes what it does: The witness of its martyrs throughout the centuries and today, the charismatic fruit and salvific teachings of its thousands of saintly confessors and teachers, and the tremendous (and humbling) pious love for God of its many simple communicants. I have witnessed all these things personally for years, as have others on this board. When I began to describe such things, however, you dismissed talk of piety, prayer, grace and life-changing worship as "waxing poetic." The Church's doctrine is not an argument, but the expression of an experience -- and not only a personal experience, but the common and shared experience of millions upon millions of Christ-loving men and women for 2,000 years.
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« Reply #37 on: June 08, 2006, 12:27:30 PM »

I think that you make a great point Pensate, comparing one's personal experiences with Godly people to one's view of arguments on a message board is not quite fair.  I think that we enjoy theological arguments because we truly believe that in the Orthodox Church God is worshiped, the word of God is preached and love is shown both to members and non-members alike.
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« Reply #38 on: June 08, 2006, 01:49:43 PM »

It appears to me that Orthodoxy, in their need to claim possession of The Church, define it with a host of definitions which then they argue is only themselves. I can appreciate that but because these definitions fall outside of Scripture and thus within the Traditions of men I have to weigh them as to their real value and merit.
You say "need to claim possesion of the Church" - why do you say this?  Do you belong to the SBC (Southern Baptist Convention)?  If so, haven't there been some groups that have broken away over certain faith doctrines and formed their own churches?  What do you think of these groups?

Well, for the Orthodox Churches, we know that our faith has always been believed.  There are existing communities that can predate the Reformation by hundreds of years and since they are not part of the territory of Rome/"The Vatican", those things that the Orthodox Church don't believe (e.g. Papal Supremacy/Infallibility, Purgatory, Indulgences, Immaculate Conception, etc.).  We call ourselves "Orthodox" to distinguish ourselves from those who believe differently.  How can we honestly say that we share one cup with those who believe differently - like some who
don't even have a "cup" to share (don't have Communion)!

I have never judged ones salvation on ones membership to an institution of men or by the participation in church ordinances which are defined by men and not Scripture so I have a hard time accepting Orthodoxy as something more than what it appears to be. I can appreciate your opinions and your desires to assert your opinions but I still feel that ones salvation is ultimately between ones heart and ones Creator and we simply can't know ones heart.
The Orthodox Church does not judge an individual's ETERNAL SALVATION (or destiny).  That is to say, she can not say whether God will save some native in the jungle or anyone else for that matter.  She can only say that she is the Ark of Salvation, that is your best chance of being saved is in the Church, which is known on the planet earth as the Orthodox Church.

I'm sure some others can say this better than I can.
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« Reply #39 on: June 08, 2006, 02:08:41 PM »

Perhaps what we need at this point is a personal account of Orthodoxy, specifically a personal account of conversion and spiritual fruit. Here is Bishop Kallistos Ware's excellent video interview with GoTelecom on his early personal encounters with Orthodoxy and his journey along the Christian path. The whole thing is rather long, but the personal part comes in the first 15 minutes or so (after that are other interesting topics: the Ecumenical Patriarchate, Orthodoxy in the West, pluralism in the East, "Greekness", jurisdictional problems, celibate bishops, female clergy, and interdenominational marriages, etc. -- a lot of the things discussed on this board recently.).

http://realserver.goarch.org/ram/en/kallistos_ware_interview.ram
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« Reply #40 on: June 14, 2006, 01:03:09 AM »

Until one experiences that glorious reality (founded, as St. Paul says in I Corinthians 11, on the celebration of the eucharist), then all attempts to convey this glorious reality are just a matter of words.

Dear Pensateomnia,

I'm sorry, but I have missed the point you are making here after reading I Cor 11,  I am not at all left with the sense of a glorious reality in the celebration of the eucharist.  Perhaps you could help me understand what you were getting at.

Thanks.

Mother Anastasia
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« Reply #41 on: June 14, 2006, 01:14:48 AM »

St. Paul writes to the Corinthians that they are the Body of Christ because they share in the Body of Christ.  Thus the Church is ontologically linked to the celebration of the Eucharist.  The Eucharist is a gift of Communion to be celebrated in a Community that is united in belief, practice and confession.  The Eucharist is the ultimate act of worship and the Church is called to be a place of worship and therefore we have this beautiful connection between the two. 

I believe that the above is true as well as the following quote from  Acts: 2:

41 They therefore that received his word, were baptized; and there were added in that day about three thousand souls. 42 And they were persevering in the doctrine of the apostles, and in the communication of the breaking of bread, and in prayers. 43 And fear came upon every soul: many wonders also and signs were done by the apostles in Jerusalem, and there was great fear in all. 44 And all they that believed, were together, and had all things common. 45 Their possessions and goods they sold, and divided them to all, according as every one had need.

I believe that this passage also reflects the glorious reality of life in the "Body of Christ".
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« Reply #42 on: June 14, 2006, 01:31:40 AM »

Jurisdictional division does not equal schism, since there is still unity in confession, practice and cup.

When you say that jurisdictional division does not equal schism, would  this precept also apply to our situation,  or are you speaking of something different?  (If jurisdictional division were the only issue.)
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« Reply #43 on: June 14, 2006, 02:03:02 AM »

Another question which I have pondered recently is, in the beginning, there was only one church.  Then we had the schisms. 

My own simple answer is that human nature got in the way of the church. 

I agree with your insight, man divided what God gave whole. 
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