Re: [LutheransLookingEast] Re: Question 1 - for those who have read Patrick Barnes' "the non-Orthodox"
- It seems that to access the English version of these texts (thanks James!)
you have to first switch to the English version of the site as a whole and
then go to this page. You can also reach these documents by going to the
Documents page listed under the title banner and choosing "Basic Principles
of Attitude to the Non-Orthodox".
> ...what I personally found far more helpful than Barnes' work (although I[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
> do not disagree with him), was the documents formulated by the Russian
> Orthodox Church regarding the non-Orthodox. In them I sense the sweet aroma
> of the Faith. These articles may be found here:
All of these questions are about very fine points of Orthodox practice about which there are varying opinions and practices, (at least so it seems after only three years in the Orthodox Church).
Please receive this response as from a former Lutheran (for 25 years) who is still new in the Orthodox Church, and only beginning to learn. So take this only as the humble opinion of a beginner. I leave the real meat of discussion to Christopher, Randy, and et al.
In these three years, I have found it very difficult (if not impossible) to discuss such finer points of practice before establishing a solid mutual understanding about THE foundational dogmas of Orthodoxy: Christology, the Incarnation, and the Trinity. While there is a lot of overlap in Orthodox & Lutheran dogma on these things, the differences are profound. I think if we began there, the conversation would be more fruitful. I've only seen people get frustrated when trying to talk about validity of Sacraments, details about the "how" or "what" of Sacramental rites, the Church's view of the non-Orthodox, etc, before first beginning to grasp the foundational differences. In light of the foundational differences, these other questions often don't seem as important, and tend to vanish.
I can't speak for others, but in order for me to even begin to know how to respond to the posed comparisons in your previous posts, I would have to back pedal and review some of the basics first.
Discussing the dogma and practices of Orthodoxy always reminds me of when I used to teach social Swing Dancing. People would always first want to learn the acrobatics they saw people doing on film. But when it came to learning social dance, we wouldn't even begin teaching the basics of simple acrobatics until the students had reached the middle/upper levels of the Intermediate class. And then, only if we felt they were ready.
We did this because at this point they *should have* already spent a lot of time *actually dancing* on the social dance floor and enough time learning the basics from instructors that they *should* understand the importance of basic social-dance-floor etiquette and 'floorcraft', of basic lead-follow communication, basic body movement, etc, etc -- all of which was necessary to understand in order to know when it is appropriate to do acrobatics on the social floor in a way that will neither injure yourself or those around you. We waited that long for their own protection and for the protection of others. Many beginners would get frustrated with us for this and leave. They only wanted to learn the acrobatics.
As in social dancing, there is much in Orthodoxy that will either not make sense (or at least much that will be very difficult to understand) without thorough instruction in the basics, and a lot of time participating in the Church, wherein we put that instruction into practice. Someone with a good imagination, and a willingness to listen and have long discussions might begin to grasp some things. But it is totally different from actual Life in the Church. Just as casual observance and talk about dance is drastically different from actual dancing.
All of this is a long winded way of saying: to the casual observer, or especially to someone who merely reads about Orthodoxy, the Orthodox Church may appear to have a lot of strange rules and teachings and practices. But Orthodoxy is not about those things. Just as dancing is not about the etiquette or basic footwork. However, learning these things well can set you free to participate in the dynamic musicality and joy of the dance with your partner.
One can spend time comparing and contrasting details of teachings and practices with that of another Faith or another Religion. But that won't go very far in discussions or debate with any practicing Orthodox Christian.
This is because Life in the Orthodox Church is not merely a set of dogmas. Neither is it about keeping all of the rules. It is about Christ and the most Holy Trinity Himself. Participation in the Orthodox Church is about participation in the Body and Life of Christ Himself. The dogmas and rules help us in that living connection to Life Himself. The dogmas and rules are aides to teach us and help us. Christ Himself is our Salvation. He is our Lead. We are the Follow. The Church teaches us how to dance with Him. How to move as one with Him; to be at one with Him.
After being mostly a casual observer on this forum since the beginning of my journey into Orthodox Christianity, and in the humble opinion of someone who is just beginning to learn the basics of the Orthodox Dance, it's better to just learn the basics first, and the other questions will take care of themselves. Beginning with the details usually leads only to frustration and confusion.
Please forgive me if I mis-spoke, caused confusion, or sounded oddly cryptic, or offended anyone.
Christ is Risen!
Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile
From: "nrinne" <Nrinne@...>
Date: Thu, 07 May 2009 12:24:38
Subject: [LutheransLookingEast] Question 1 - for those who have read Patrick Barnes' "the non-Orthodox"
I am working my way through Patrick Barnes' book "the non-Orthodox"
I am trying to get a handle on those things that seem to make the EO and Lutheran views distinct.
I'm not done yet (I've carefully read though and digested the first 59 pages and only skimmed the rest), but I'd like to lay before folks here some things that I would be interested in getting your feedback to - as to whether I am correctly understanding, stating, these things.
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:
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.
Again, I am looking for feedback to determine if I have understood the EO position closely. If there are some Lutherans here who take issue with what I have written regarding the Lutheran view, I would like to hear about that as well.
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>The phrase "Christ is present in the Scriptures and creates Christians
> 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:
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.
>It isn't that 'we' have the true sacraments, etc. but that it is only the
> > 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
> > 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.
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
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.
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