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1073Re: [LutheransLookingEast] Question 1 - for those who have read Patrick Barnes' "the non-Orthodox"

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  • Christopher Orr
    May 11 1:29 PM
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      >
      > On Thu, May 7, 2009 at 8:24 AM, nrinne <Nrinne@...> wrote:
      > >
      > > First of all, although both EO and Lutherans believe that Christ is
      > present in the Scriptures and creates Christians through His Word wherever
      > it is heard, here are what to me seem the underlying presumptions:
      >


      The phrase "Christ is present in the Scriptures and creates Christians
      through His Word wherever it is heard" is very much of Lutheran provenance.
      It seems to presuppose that The Word (written) is one of the two ways that
      The Word Himself speaks to us - the other being in the Sacraments, which are
      dependent on The Word (written) for surety.

      The Holy Spirit creates Christians. Faith is a part of this, but faith is
      born through both the written Word, the Spirit-inspired services of the
      Church, Spirit-bearing Elders and saints, directly and in all the world. We
      are properly made Christians only in Baptism, Chrismation and Communion -
      which in the East are really a single, organic entrance rite, properly
      speaking. Of course, were one to come to faith and not be able to be
      baptized, such is the exception that proves the rule. The two martyresses
      that died with St. Christopher, for instance, were not able to be baptized
      given their last minute conversion, but were therefore baptized in their own
      blood; similar to this is the example of the Wise Thief who was not baptized
      in the name of the Trinity.



      >
      > > L: We are at least part of the true Church, and believe Word and
      > Sacraments administered in the right form (i.e. true words: Father, Son, and
      > Holy Spirit) will create faith and make the true Church. It is theoretically
      > possible that we may recognize others as being "truly Church" through
      > dialogue.
      > > EO: We are the true Church and others are not, and we have the only valid
      > sacraments, as we alone have the ecclesial grace to administer them rightly
      > (right intention). It is impossible to presume that others could potentially
      > be recognized as being "truly Church" through dialogue.
      > >
      >


      It isn't that 'we' have the true sacraments, etc. but that it is only the
      Church that has the sacraments. The traditional means of reception has
      always been Baptism-Chrismation-Communion. The history of how various
      heretics and schismatics were received into the ancient Church is very
      complex, the context of such decisions and canons are filled with blank
      spaces, and there was oftentimes a great deal of leniency (economia) showed
      depending on what was needed to bring about reconciliation. Each group and
      each individual is on a ladder leading to Orthodoxy - some closer, some
      further off, some off the ladder, some half way in. Attempts have been made
      to try and match these rungs with different ways of reception, with
      differing relations to Orthodoxy and salvation (which, remember is not
      'sure' even for Orthodox), but no one has ever really agreed to any of these
      schemes.

      If the Orthodox Church is the Church proper - the One, Holy Catholic and
      Apostolic Church of the Creed - and all other self-defining Christian groups
      have found themselves separate from Orthodoxy and the Orthodox faith, then,
      by definition, their sacraments are 'not of the Church'. Economia may be
      shown as long as a person received an absolute minimum form of the Sacrament
      of Holy Baptism, but 'minimum' is not really an Orthodox category, so
      some/many/most Orthodox disagree as to what is 'minimally' required - the
      whole rite, triple immersion, immersion, water, the Trinitarian formula,
      Orthodox faith and some minimal form, etc. An analogy would be how
      Lutherans view Mormon and JW baptism - they self-define themselves as
      Christians, but are not 'close enough' to the minimum requirement for
      Lutherans to (generally) accept their baptisms as baptisms. (Obviously,
      Orthodoxy and Lutheranism are closer to each other in trinitarian and
      christological faith than are Mormons or JWs to either of us - just an
      analogy regarding 'minimums').

      Dialogue could very recognize the Orthodoxy of a schismatic or heretical
      body. The Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia - a relic (in the best
      sense) of the Bolshevik Revolution - was considered schismatic by the Moscow
      Patriarchate, but through dialogue they were united recently. The OCA was
      in a similar category for many years, as was the St. Herman of Alaska
      Monastery (Platina, CA) and its parishes in the Christ the Saviour
      Brotherhood, the Evangelical Orthodox Church, etc. It is hoped that similar
      dialogues are leading to reconciliation between the Orthodox and the
      Coptic/Ethiopian/Eritrean Churches (Non-Chalcedonians). Dialogue with the
      liberal Protestant churches is obviously further from finding that they are
      Orthodox; Roman Catholics seem to be coming closer and closer to Orthodoxy,
      but they are not Orthodox, yet.

      The rub is whether the other group is Orthodox or not. If dialogue is meant
      to foster relativism (a branch theory of ecclesiology whereby we are all
      'limbs' of the same Church) or compromise, then Orthodoxy does not accept
      it. The Orthodox Church understands herself as Church and the task of any
      ecumenical dialogue to simply witness to the Truth and to invite other
      churches and individuals to (re)join the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic
      Church (i.e., the Orthodox Church). The general tendency seems to point
      towards a focus on academic contact to truly understand each other's faith
      as well as on individual (rather than corporate) conversion.

      There are and have been many attempts to try and 'define' the relationship
      between the Orthodox Church and all other Christian churches. Barnes is
      one, the MP statement James suggested is another. Orthodox ecclesiology
      simply boils down to this: the Orthodox Church is the Church, join with her.
      Don't worry about what 'relationship' to Orthodoxy you are in now, join
      Orthodoxy and it is very clear what you believe and where you are - in the
      Church. Outside of the Orthodox Church is not for us to say except that you
      are outside of the Orthodox Church within which is salvation. Outside is
      for the mercy of God and our prayers, nothing more.

      Christopher


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