Discussion in 'Navigating Through Church Life' started by Anglican04, Jan 28, 2018.
I saw a left hook going in that made me think the guys got to be part Northern Irish
This is a timely thread for me! As part of my search to find my home in the Christian faith, I've visited a Eastern Orthodox church to learn more over the past several months- nearly heading down the path of a catechumen. I'm just an inquirer at this point and have made no commitments. I have been studying under the guidance of a very kind priest so that I can better understand the EO church. However, at this stage I'm still a total novice when it comes to learning about Christianity. If one is interested in EO, visit a church to see for yourself. It's absolutely an all consuming tradition- but what seems to take the most time is learning the culture of EO and not necessarily the faith behind it.
While the EO churches are very beautiful and traditional, I have come away with some severe doubts about joining them. I do respect their positions on holding fast to the traditions of the church ( no women priests, no Gay marriage etc..) and their resistance in the face of Islam and Communism, which must account for the steadfastness seen in their communities. I also tend to agree with their Theology stances including Theosis, the view of sin, and continual salvation in drawing closer to Christ through engagement of fasting, regular prayer, confession etc. I believe that the EO has preserved many elements of Christian life that the West has forgotten in its rush to embrace Modernism.
The main problem is the extreme ethnocentrism which I have encountered at several parishes ( I won't give the ethnicities). This also goes hand in hand with a strange obsessive hatred of the Western and all Western traditions. I mean, calling it triumphalism doesn't even come close- it seems they tell potential converts one thing, yet once people convert they seem to harbor a total disdain for "Protestantism". I was told by once person that one may not have a Western Rite parish in Orthodoxy as all things from the West are by nature heretical. You would think everything that is wrong in the world came from the West. I am happy to be Anglo-Celtic -I love my people, language, history and culture and I've no desire to become Slavic or Greek because of my religion. I met a convert who confessed he attends Divine Liturgy in Greek but doesn't understand anything being said. This is a massive logical disconnect between what is preached (Anyone can be Orthodox!!) and what really happens (sit in the back, praying or thinking for an hour while the priest carries out a ritual you have no understanding of in a language you don't speak).
While I love the music and the icons at the churches, the strange fixation on icon worship (the incessant kissing, the bowing, veneration of articles of clothing from saints, focusing on superstitious miracles like icons crying Myrrh) is too much for me. Additionally, the Bible and the gospels are hardly ever or are barely preached- there may be a sort of sermon at the end of the service. The majority of the focus is on church tradition which trumps just about everything- even logic and common sense and the Bible. And of course, no one "truly Orthodox" would ever leave the faith or have problems with the tradition to engage in legitimate criticism, if they were then they would have no problems following the perfect church! It's all a bit much for me.
In short, I don't think the EO church is "wrong", but they have some doctrines and practices which I find hard to follow. I think that there are disagreements between church bodies which will not be resolved until the Second Coming. In fact, the EO even have breakaway and schismatic sects of their own (Old Calendars, for example) so the line that it is "unbroken" church is simply not true. Look at the Oriental Orthodox, for example. Lastly, I would be interested to see how long, on average, a convert remains in an EO church. Their numbers are also declining and given the intensity of the cultural adaption needed to remain in a church, I can't see how it would be possible to sustain that over a long period of time.
Your experience is common to many who have probed Orthodoxy, myself included. They demand not merely a conversion of faith but also a conversion of culture. And those converts who have gone down that road are the most militant about the need for it. That they get any converts (in the US) is a sad commentary on Protestantism's lows and the lack of visibility of Continuing Anglicans.
Yes, the refrain I see many times from former Protestants is that they either wanted the "real church" and if you studied history you could not help but become Orthodox. I think the fanatical tendency they had in their Protestant days has simply carried over to Orthodoxy. Unfortunately, they tend to be very loud and aggressive. Not all, but some.
The parish that I have attended is very middle of the road- some are very devout and focused, others are simply cradle Orthodox. They also don't seem to want to engage in any legitimate criticism of the church even if people are objectively behaving poorly.
One thing that has attracted me to EO (in addition to the Theology) is the focus on a worship life and cultivation of the soul through fasting, prayer, and confession. These elements have largely been lost in the Western church and I think if continuing Anglicanism could start to recover those facets of personal growth and devotion , it would make a real impact. All too often Western Christianity is about intellectually agreeing with statements of faith and then does little to engage one how to grow in Christ emotionally or spiritually- it's more about reading the Bible and agreeing with theology or historical positions. The EO far more emphasize the experience of the everyday Christian life in growing closer to Christ. I think people today are searching for how to experience God and Christ. They have heard all the preaching they can take- but they may have never felt the presence of the Holy Spirit.
For example, the sacrament of confession is present in Anglicanism but is little discussed currently in relation to all the discord over theological disagreements in the communion. Emphasizing the importance of regular confession (to a priest, but also to God) would be one example in how we can restore some of the missing pieces. The EO also take seriously the mystical and contemplative writings of their church which also infuses them the importance of prayer- I think returning to some of the early church fathers and Western contemplatives would also help cultivate the sense of spiritual development.
Yes, I have had my experiences with the EO years ago, and this was a most jarring thing. It is about the furthest you could possibly get from the piety and devotion of the Early Church, where the Fathers forbade incense and really disliked images; there's that famous scene of Gregory the Great covering up and blotting the golden encrustations people set up in the sanctuary, because they distracted them from God. People came for the gold and the images, not for God. This was a common refrain amongst the Fathers.
Not to go off topic, but I thought incense was adiaphora to the Fathers? If they didn't like them, I've got some personal reforming to do
I've started a thread about it here: https://forums.anglican.net/threads/incense-in-the-early-church.2361/
This is sadly another example of why Jerusalem and other places in the "Holy Land" are examples of conflict between not only Moslems and Jews but between Christians, between Jews, Orthodox and Liberal, and Moslems, Sunni and Shiate. God cannot be pleased by all this disharmony. I refuse to go to Israel. There are other holy places in the world to visit.
I concur with the Eastern Rite version of the Nicene Creed, ie. no filioque.
I do as well. I support the EO perspective and theology- I like what they have preserved what the West has forgotten. I think where I come down on the EO is more about it's adaptation in the West. It's difficult to speak to the larger culture if the EO remain so isolated due to ethnic or cultural preferences. The dichotomy in the West is Protestant or Catholic- the EO churches are really an anomaly for most people in America.
I guess I spoke out in my previous post, but not for its teachings, beliefs or doctrines, but rather for its position in the West which is, short sighted on my part. I think each church body has its own particular challenges to overcome. The EO church has had some enormous hurdles thrown its way (Islam, communism) in the past centuries which mark it differently from the Western experience.
Ide, what is your opinion of Orthodoxy's view of Fatima? Many in the church say that Fatima was a demonic deception meant to make the situation in Russia worse. The vision said, "Pray for the consecration of Russia." The EO claims the RCC's actions and influence was actually aiding the communists to gain more control and that Fatima's revelations did not make matters better for the situation with Christianity in Russia. That, and the EO has still outshined the RCC in its presence and resistance to communism in contrast to what was promised by the apparitions. Many EO take a strong stance against Fatima.
DouayJames- I honestly can't speak to what offical stance the EO church takes on these apparitions of Mary which is so fondly supported in the RC world. I agree with you that it seems many I've met in the EO are highly skeptical of the Fatima prophesies of RC over the EO church in Russia. To what degree the EO supports any of the Marian sightings would be something best to ask an EO priest, honestly.
Protestantism teaches that Scripture is the primary authority for faith and practice;
Catholicism teaches that Scripture and Tradition are equally authoritative;
Orthodoxy teaches that Tradition is more authoritative than Scripture (in their view, Scripture is a product of Tradition, and is therefore subordinate to it).
This, however, I do not think the Orthodox would say that scripture is totally subordinate. I think their view is more nuanced, but that yes, scripture is subordinate to tradition because tradition, in actuality, is how we received the canon of scripture. But tradition, for the Orthodox, and Catholics (of Roman and Anglican distinction, really) is a "capital-T" tradition. A living flame, carried on - never extinguishing, forever guided by the Divine Light of the Logos. The Councils were guided by the Holy Ghost, which produced the canon and decided upon which books were truly the living word of God and Gospels of the Truth. Even many Protestant traditions I know of, such as certain Wesleyan denominations and Presbyterian congregations have a similar view of tradition, however, make it subordinate to scripture, which is another interpretation which I'm only becoming familiar with lately.
To me that is a very level view of things. While I a member of the eastern Churches, the Orthodox Churches, and have never really experienced them first hand, I have read a number of writers based in the tradition and have found them extremely fascinating. I especially hold in high esteem a certain character of Christendom, a monk who lived out his life at the monastery on Mount Athos. If anyone is interested, researching the life of Elder St Paisios will never leave you dry. Allow me to just paste a story about an alcoholic monk.
Once on Mount Athos there was a monk who lived in Karyes. He drank and got drunk every day and was the cause of scandal to the pilgrims. Eventually he died and this relieved some of the faithful who went on to tell Elder Paisios that they were delighted that this huge problem was finally solved.
Father Paisios answered them that he knew about the death of the monk, after seeing the entire battalion of angels who came to collect his soul. The pilgrims were amazed and some protested and tried to explain to the Elder of whom they were talking about, thinking that the Elder did not understand.
Elder Paisios explained to them: "This particular monk was born in Asia Minor, shortly before the destruction by the Turks when they gathered all the boys. So as not to take him from their parents, they would take him with them to the reaping, and so he wouldn't cry, they just put raki into his milk in order for him to sleep. Therefore he grew up as an alcoholic. There he found an elder and said to him that he was an alcoholic. The elder told him to do prostrations and prayers every night and beg the Panagia to help him to reduce by one the glasses he drank.
After a year he managed with struggle and repentance to make the 20 glasses he drank into 19 glasses. The struggle continued over the years and he reached 2-3 glasses, with which he would still get drunk."
The world for years saw an alcoholic monk who scandalized the pilgrims, but God saw a fighter who fought a long struggle to reduce his passion.
Without knowing what each one is trying to do what he wants to do, what right do we have to judge his effort?
Here is the source: https://www.reddit.com/r/OrthodoxChristianity/comments/1xme5v/the_drunk_monk_and_elder_paisios/
The OCA church here has an OL of Guadalupe icon in the entrance. That apparition was post 1054, so I imagine the ODOX take it on a case by case basis, or their fishing for RC's. Lol.
I just read about that, as I wanted to know their take on Guadalupe, as well. Apparently, there are more of them who take it as legitimate than Fatima. One forum I was browsing had members suggesting it was because it served as a bridge to get Mexico out of paganism and into Christianity, even if it wasn't in the direction of Orthodoxy, as it has seldom had any presence in Mexico or Latin American culture.
Well, Guadalupe (as you mentioned) served a purpose. The whole fatima thing with mysteries and secrets seems more of a road block than anything.
Call me impious but it seems Our Lady has better things to do than to appear to crowds of people. This is difficult to say as a Mexican-American but I sincerely doubt that she appeared to Juan Diego in Mexico.