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Re: [LutheransLookingEast] Christians?

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  • randall hay
    Great scott, I looked at my mailbox and saw 107 messages, and realized there must have been quite a LLE correpondence today. I was right. I ll try to give a
    Message 1 of 72 , Jul 9, 2009
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      Great scott, I looked at my mailbox and saw 107 messages, and realized there must have been quite a LLE correpondence today.

      I was right.

      I'll try to give a stab at a question or two here, though I hardly know where to start.

      Regarding excommunication in general, Orthodoxy sees it as a healing thing, not punishment....it is a period for you to examine your spirit life, and really focus on repentance and examining yourself. In this way your actions are not trivialized, but you are not being cast off, either. If you are excommunicated, there are always criteria by which you get re-communicated.

      If you're already Orthodox and your spouse leaves you and you decide to get re-married, for example, you are asked to refrain from communion for a year. It isn't a punishment, but time to reflect on marriage and your relationship with God and your relationship with a spouse, and if you need to change yourself. In this way what Jesus says about remaining faithful to your spouse isn't blown off, but you aren't rejected from the church, either.

      It is a substantially longer perdion for abortion; but again, the door is always open. There is no sin that can't be forgiven and which closes the door to the Kingdom of Heaven.

      We do not regard Tertullian as a Father, because, among his Montanist errors, he said there are certain sins that can't be forgiven. If you commit one of them you're out of the church permanently, with no route back in. You can consider yourself pretty well damned; all that's left is a fairly hopeless appeal to God on your own, with no chance of ever receiving support or Eucharist from the church.

      To Orthodox ears, this is astonishing as well as appalling; what a grievous rending of the Church's holiness, and her always reaching out to sinners (and we're all sinners).

      We don't regard Christians who left us, or who left someone who left us, as excommunicated. We regard them as people who left, and we'd really really like to get back together.

      In fact an Orthodox saint who spent time in America, St Tikhon, played a key role in initiating dialogue among Christians of various stripes in the early 20th century.

      He initiated dialogue in good-will; the splintering of Christianity is grievous, utterly grievous, and we need to do what we can. He did not, however, intend or initiate intercommunion.

      Receiving the body and blood of Christ to become "one loaf" requires that you really are "one loaf." If a Christian group denies the reality of His presence in Eucharist, or the efficacy of baptism/infant baptism, or the energies of God or deification or confession/absolution or the sacrament of marriage or the government of the church passed down from the apostles, etc etc etc, you really aren't one loaf at all, no matter how badly you wish you were. Your beliefs, your worship, your daily personal spiritual lives, your sacraments and discipline and who you answer to are fundamentally different.

      Hence intercommunion isn't really having COMMUNION with others in a deeper sense at all. That kind of communion happens when your spiritual lives are in harmony, when you have "one mind," as St Paul puts it, one life and "one soul."

      *

      ----If it seems hard to get a handle on Orthodoxy and finding what to read, you can understand the old joke that we are anything BUT 'organized religion.'

      We are quite different from Rome, where one may look to the Vatican for information and clarification.

      *

      One area where Lutheranism is radically different from Orthodoxy is in putting the Seventh Ecumenical Council into practice. The holy fathers of that council state that icons must be venerated....that is, we must do things like bow down to them (do "prostations") and kiss them.

      Of course this doesn't mean we're bowing down either to wood and paint, or worshipping the saints. Except for America and Europe, most people in the world bow to other people as a sign of honor and respect...which it what this boils down to.

      There are Bibical precedents; in I Sam 12:41 David does three prostrations before Jonathan (we do three before an icon). In Rev 4:10 and 11:16 the elders do prostrations before Christ. St Paul tells us to "outdo one another in showing honor." He also, along with Peter, tells us to greet one another with a holy kiss.

      While Lutherans, in my experience, claim to uphold the seven ecumenical councils, they don't venerate icons. In fact they see that as pretty near idolatry.

      While there are many common points between Lutheranism and Orthodoxy, but one can't say there is unified belief in the theology of the ecumenical councils.

      Communing infants is another issue, which of course gets back to anthropology and the nous. This is not a theoretical issure for me....it is at the heart of my Christian faith. As one who is raising a 2-year old at an advanced age, I can say with authority that no one should ever deprive a toddler or infant of Eucharist.

      "Except ye be like little children..."

      *

      I've heard excellent suggestions by Christopher and others about things to read.

      I suggest St John Chrysostom for commentaries on Scripture; they're online in the ANF/PNF set, and cheap to buy in hard copy.

      St Cyril of Jerusalem's Catechism is another I recommend....it's from the same set, and available online also.

      Likewise St John of Damascus's Exposition of the Orthodox Faith.

      His On the Divine Images isn't in that set, but it's a nice intro....however there are many other good intros to iconography. (I found WINDOWS TO HEAVEN for $2.99 at Christianbooks.com.)

      Thanks again for your thoughful questions!

      In Christ,

      R.

















      ________________________________
      From: Bradley Varvil <bvarvil@...>
      To: LutheransLookingEast@yahoogroups.com
      Sent: Thursday, July 9, 2009 11:33:18 AM
      Subject: Re: [LutheransLookingEast] Christians?





      Christopher,

      Perhaps you are right... though it is always hard to determine the thoughts
      and intentions of folks, no less so now than 500 years ago. The
      correspondence between the Lutheran theologians and Jeremiah II are pretty
      well documented, and to my reading, reflect numerous issues, including:

      -- The German's penchant for debating scholasticism in heavily rationalistic
      terms (despite Luther's lambaste of philosophy and reason as a "whore.")
      -- An approach to the Fathers which showed different foci on different
      Fathers
      -- The Lutheran's already embattled position against Rome, fighting for
      simplicity against granduer and innovation
      -- Political reality that Germany was the heart of the Holy Roman Empire,
      and that for Orthodoxy to exist formally there, would cause great angst with
      Roman imperial political structures
      -- Constantinople was desperate for support from the West against the Turk,
      and could not afford to alienate Rome politically

      But also, as you note, I think the Lutherans really did understand
      themselves to have unburdened the Church from caustic acretions in the West,
      and established a position that they perceived to be within the pale of the
      Scriptures and the Fathers. When the Orthodox presented what might be best
      termed as a fullness of the teachings of the Fathers (held with particular
      emphases and foci, to be sure) I think they began speaking past each other.
      The Lutherans I think were arguing from a minimalist perspective, and asking
      to be recognized as tolerable simplicity within the broader catholic
      community, and not as a mandate for simplicity in the broader catholic
      church. The Orthodox, I think, wanted to demonstrate a fulness the
      Lutherans were not prepared to embrace, due to their bloody scars earned in
      battle with Rome. I think this is why Jeremiah II ended the dialogue with
      well-meaning blessings to the Lutheran theologians, and asked not to keep
      re-hashing the same arguments, because the two camps were not reflecting on
      the same source material with the same basic assumptions.

      One of the questions that I think arises from the Reformation, and that our
      Eastern and Roman brethren must confront as well as the Protestants
      themselves, is whether there is a viable argument for both a minimalist and
      fulness of the Church. Has the Spirit of God moved and worked in Lutheran
      communions, where the fulness of Eastern Orthodoxy has not be present? Yes,
      He has. Has the Spirit of God worked powerfully in the fulness of the
      Orthodox churches? Yes, He has. Has He worked in the Roman communion?
      Yes, He has.

      Sometimes I'm left with contemplating St. Peter's quandry extrapolated into
      a post-Reformation context: shall we call unclean that which God has called
      clean? If St. Peter can see the power of the Holy Spirit among Gentile
      believers and deduce that since God has blessed them, they must be brought
      into fellowship, are we left with a similar deliberation regarding
      fellowship with Christians that have different emphases or foci, if indeed
      we can see that the authentic power of the Holy Spirit of God rests upon
      them?

      Peace be with you,
      Brad

      On Thu, Jul 9, 2009 at 7:30 AM, Christopher Orr <xcjorr@gmail. com> wrote:

      >
      >
      > "...could not find favor with the Ecumenical Patriarch of the East."
      >
      > I think it was more a matter of the Tubingen theologians deciding that they
      > had rediscovered true Christianity and their surprise that the East did not
      > agree. Many of the errors assumed to have been due to the papacy were then
      > found in the papal-less East with rather ancient pedigree. The Lutherans
      > were not willing to become Orthodox, they preferred to follow Luther and
      > his
      > theologians. Should they have been interested in becoming Orthodox and
      > aligning themselves with what they assumed was a pure Church, they would
      > have found immense favor. Perhaps if such overtures would have been able to
      > have been made earlier in Luther's searching after the truth things would
      > have been different - or, he may just have lumped the East in with Rome and
      > written them all off quite clearly.
      >
      > Christopher
      >
      >
      > On Thu, Jul 9, 2009 at 10:16 AM, Bradley Varvil <
      > bvarvil@lutheranort hodox.com <bvarvil%40lutheran orthodox. com>> wrote:
      >
      > >
      > >
      > > Brother,
      > >
      > > I appreciate the power you have found in Christ to transform a terrible
      > > situation, into one which is both healthy and glorfies God... and I am
      > > thankful you are willing to offer such an experience in a public way for
      > my
      > > benefit. I will ponder upon it.
      > >
      > > In terms of the Reformation, its divisions and its persecutions, I think
      > > they come from a variety of sources... few of which are novel in the
      > > historic life of the Church. Political rulers have often prompted strife
      > > between Christian factions for their own ends, and highly skilled or
      > > educated theologians often find themselves picking at each other's
      > > eccentricities. There have been elements of the Church that rallied more
      > > with Augustinian thought, others with the Cappadocians, still others with
      > > still others, until we have peculiar communities of Christians all over
      > the
      > > globe, all with peculiar foci within the one Christian faith confessed at
      > > Nicea. Some of these were able to remain under the larger umbrellas of
      > > post-division Christianity (in the west, we have Augustinians,
      > Franciscans,
      > > Dominicans, etc., and in the East I understand there are also comparable
      > > contingents that rally around particular patristic influences more than
      > > others.)
      > >
      > > The Reformation, at least in some of its elemental intentions, was to
      > first
      > > reform the impiety of the western Church. Speaking from a Lutheran
      > > perspective, there was no initial intent to either split the western
      > > Church,
      > > nor function outside its historic norms. However, a trajectory was set
      > when
      > > we were excommunicated from the Patriarch of the West, and could not find
      > > favor with the Ecumenical Patriarch of the East... leaving us to stumble
      > > alone with the tools at our disposal, which were either greater or
      > lesser,
      > > depending on different times and places. Had initial Lutheran reforms of
      > > basic piety been tolerated in Germany by the Romans, I expect what we
      > would
      > > have today is a Lutheran Rite or Lutheran community akin to the
      > > Augustinians. By the time we came to the East, our confessions had become
      > > much more tainted with our distrust of things Roman and the bloodshed
      > which
      > > claimed the lives of many Reformers... and Constantinople was more
      > > interested in securing political help from Rome to beat back the Muslims,
      > > than they were in welcoming any dissidents within the Roman communion and
      > > earning Rome's ire.
      > >
      > > So Lutherans are left with the consequences of our age-- attempting to be
      > a
      > > reforming movement within the western Church Catholic, with a fundamental
      > > focus on Christ and the Cross. That focus can lead us to gloss over or
      > > forget the many wonders Christ left to His Church, and I think this is
      > the
      > > primary imbalance of Lutheran theology... it is shaped too much by
      > conflict
      > > with Rome, and can become blind to the broader swath of authentic
      > catholic
      > > truth as it is expressed in both Rome and the East. Of course, I might
      > also
      > > note, that our brothers and sisters in the East may not be too quick to
      > see
      > > the wonders God has worked through Reformation churches, with changed
      > lives
      > > full of faith and virtue, and many heroic battles against the evil one.
      > > Where Lutherans may focus too much on the invisible unity of Christians
      > in
      > > the spiritual reality of Christ's Church, perhaps others, with their
      > focus
      > > on the visible unity of Christians in the visible Church, tend to
      > minimize
      > > the spiritual unity all Christians share in Christ through living faith
      > in
      > > the Crucified.
      > >
      > > However, I would note, that Lutherans specifically and other Reformation
      > > traditions generally, when they practice a closed communion for only
      > those
      > > within their particular expression of Christianity, don't tend to think
      > > through the consequences of their faith and practice. To exclude from
      > > communion is, frankly, excommunication. A Lutheran who excommunicates a
      > > Roman or an Eastern Christian is saying that the excommunicated is
      > outside
      > > the fellowship, or perhaps even outside the transcendent reality, of
      > > Christ's One Holy Church. Sadly, while Augustinians and Franciscans can
      > > commune at the same altar, Lutherans and Anglicans rarely do (though
      > there
      > > is a great deal of movement in this regard, and generaly, a more open
      > > perspective on communion is more common in Reformation churches than
      > either
      > > Rome or the East, largely due to our understanding of the invisible unity
      > > of
      > > Christians driving a mandate for visible unity around Christ's Holy
      > Altar.)
      > >
      > > Rome uses excommunication as an enforcement of Roman authority (i.e.,
      > > particulars of doctrine are not nearly so important as fidelity to the
      > rule
      > > of the Roman Pontiff.) Some Lutherans seem to divide the idea of
      > > excommunication in a formal sense (reserved for those who refuse to
      > repent
      > > of scandalous heresy or public sin) and excommunication in a practical
      > > sense
      > > (only those who agree with our faith and doctrine may commune with us.)
      > How
      > > does the east view this matter? Does the East see all other Christians as
      > > excommunicated from the One Church of Christ, or like Rome do they see
      > > various Christian communities existing in various states of weakend
      > > or impaired communion?
      > >
      > > Peace be with you,
      > > Brad
      > >
      > >
      > > On Wed, Jul 8, 2009 at 9:31 PM, randall hay <stortford@sbcglobal .net<stortford%40sbcglo bal.net>
      > <stortford%40sbcglo bal.net>>
      >
      > > wrote:
      > >
      > > >
      > > >
      > > > Brad, I would suggest that dilemmas quickly arise when you try to tie
      > an
      > > > invisible Church to its concrete manifestations.
      > > >
      > > > For instance, the first 150 years of the Reformation consisted of one
      > > group
      > > > or another persecuting the others, sometimes to the point of death.
      > > >
      > > > While mutual persecution proved impractical in the long run,
      > > intercommunion
      > > > is an abiding problem. If Lutheran, Presbyterian, Roman, Wesleyan,
      > > Baptist,
      > > > nondenominational churches etc etc etc are all part of the one Church,
      > > > shouldn't they all intercommune?
      > > >
      > > > Most saints and fathers of the Orthodox Church have been persecuted,
      > like
      > > > Chrysostom, by an Orthodox politician or party within the church. But
      > > even
      > > > so none of them ever suggested the Body of Christ crossed
      > demoninational
      > > > lines. Using my previous example, America can persecute you and put you
      > > in
      > > > jail, but you still know it's America.
      > > >
      > > > The example I wrote in a post earlier this evening regarding my
      > daughter
      > > is
      > > > an important one for me....and the question how do you get from Point A
      > > to
      > > > Point B?
      > > >
      > > > How do you get from not loving your child to loving her? How do you get
      > > > from having anger in your soul to having peace? How do you get from
      > > avarice
      > > > to generosity? How do you fight the demons of indifference, pride and
      > > > vainglory? How do you love God more, and become a better husband? How
      > do
      > > you
      > > > fill your mind with joy and thanks to God all day?
      > > >
      > > > I never had a clue in my years as an Anglican or Lutheran. The piety
      > has
      > > > been lost over the centuries. The spiritual/mental/ physical principles
      > > and
      > > > strategies and tactics and exercises simply aren't there.
      > > >
      > > > You can revive bits and pieces of it through reading, but you need to
      > > have
      > > > all the weapons in your spiritual armory. Dogma, worship, asceticism,
      > > > hesychasm, monasticism, the Fathers etc. all have to be in place to get
      > > from
      > > > that Point A to Point B.
      > > >
      > > > ---Not that you ever get there (I don't even get close), but you see
      > what
      > > I
      > > > mean. God has given me children and grandchildren and wife and parents
      > > and
      > > > friends (of course accompanied by a boatload of griefs) and nothing is
      > > more
      > > > important than to take care of them, to see them into the Kingdom of
      > God.
      > > > It's a pitched battle, great scott, and I need every weapon I can lay
      > my
      > > > hands on.
      > > >
      > > > Once again, I pray the Lord bless you with every grace and peace,
      > > >
      > > > R.
      > > >
      > > > ____________ _________ _________ __
      > > > From: Bradley Varvil <bvarvil@lutheranort hodox.com<bvarvil%40lutheran orthodox. com>
      > <bvarvil%40lutheran orthodox. com>
      > > <bvarvil%40lutheran orthodox. com>
      > > > >
      > > > To: LutheransLookingEas t@yahoogroups. com<LutheransLookingEa st%40yahoogroups .com>
      > <LutheransLookingEa st%40yahoogroups .com>
      > > <LutheransLookingEa st%40yahoogroups .com>
      >
      > >
      > > > Sent: Wednesday, July 8, 2009 10:57:09 AM
      > > > Subject: Re: [LutheransLookingEa st] Christians?
      > > >
      > > > Randy,
      > > >
      > > > You're not boring me at all. Before my nascent attempts to explore the
      > > > Eastern Church a year or so ago, I was aware that there was much that
      > > made
      > > > conversation difficult... not least of which was a significant
      > difference
      > > > in
      > > > the way the West and East even begin to think about the faith. Your
      > > > descriptions are not tedious in the least, but I confess, they nearly
      > > drive
      > > > me to despair.
      > > >
      > > > In all my dealings with Christians of the West, we at least begin with
      > a
      > > > common lexicon, and probably a similar conceptual basis. I wonder,
      > > > sometimes, if I can even put my brain into the structure of thought
      > that
      > > I
      > > > hear expressed by those I chat with in the East.
      > > >
      > > > There are a few of the Greek Fathers I've not yet read, and I intend to
      > > do
      > > > that over the next year. I have and greatly enjoy my Orthodox Study
      > > Bible,
      > > > which I find very approachable (and exceptionally Christo-centric in
      > > > commentary.. . which is a goal of Lutheran hermenuetics, as well.) I
      > will
      > > > endeavor to study and dialogue with patience, knowing that what I am
      > > > attempting to study is more difficult to learn without immersion.
      > > >
      > > > As for defining the Church, thanks specifically for you observations on
      > > > this
      > > > point. I find it difficult to wrap my brain around a definition which
      > > > defies definition.. . but that is what we are often left with, when we
      > > > ponder
      > > > the mysteries of God. Despite the Lutheran (and to a greater extent
      > Roman
      > > > scholasticism' s) proclivities to rationally define things that are
      > > mostly
      > > > beyond the pale of human cognition, I think the Lutheran attempt to
      > > define
      > > > the Church is only to place some kind of rational markers around the
      > > > boundaries of what the mystery of the Church really is. Lutherans never
      > > > professed that the Church is only invisible-- but we did have to
      > > emphasize
      > > > the invisible mystery of the Church within our time and controversies.
      > ..
      > > > much as I imagine Chrysostom had to do as he was sent off into
      > > abandonment
      > > > and eventual martyrdom.
      > > >
      > > > I agree, though-- we can talk all day about what we think marks or
      > > composes
      > > > the Church, but in the end analysis, She just IS. There is a sense of
      > the
      > > > ongoing miraculous in both Eastern Orthodoxy and Western Romanism that
      > > > intrigues me, and is often minimized by the rationalistic reductionism
      > of
      > > > Protestantism. I have seen God do wonderous and miraculous things in
      > the
      > > > lives of His people, but I confess, I would love to see a weeping an
      > icon
      > > > before I die...
      > > >
      > > > Grace and peace to you,
      > > > Brad
      > > >
      > > > On Tue, Jul 7, 2009 at 8:53 PM, randall hay <stortford@sbcgloba l .net>
      > > > wrote:
      > > >
      > > > >
      > > > >
      > > > >
      > > > > Reading some of these latest posts, I think we need to be careful not
      > > to
      > > > > set up our own theological straw-men. It's easy to exaggerate views
      > of
      > > > the
      > > > > Atonement, but look what Cyril of Jerusalem says:
      > > > >
      > > > > "If Phineas, when he waxed zealous and slew the evil-doer, staved the
      > > > wrath
      > > > > of God, shall not Jesus, who slew not another, but gave up Himself
      > for
      > > a
      > > > > ransom, put away the wrath which is against mankind?" (Catechetical
      > > > > Lectures13.2)
      > > > >
      > > > > This is in the first surviving catechism of the Church. It does not
      > > > > represent a dominant theme in Orthodox theology, of course, but it
      > does
      > > > make
      > > > > an effort to explain the mystery of Christ's work on the Cross and is
      > > > echoed
      > > > > by other Fathers.
      > > > >
      > > > > Brad, I'll take a stab at these questions.
      > > > >
      > > > > The situation in the West at the time of Reformation was quite
      > > different
      > > > > from the situation in the East.
      > > > >
      > > > > In East, Orthodoxy was engaged in its perennial struggle to maintain
      > > > > its life under Moslem domination.. ..its dogmas, teachings and life
      > had
      > > > > stood and would stand. In the West, RC had drifted farther and
      > farther
      > > > away
      > > > > from the original
      > > > > theology, and held its own supposedly-ecumenic al councils for
      > > centuries
      > > >
      > > > > without the East.
      > > > >
      > > > > It was an impossible situation for Luther.
      > > > >
      > > > > What was he to do? You're right that he was not trying to start his
      > own
      > > > > denomination with his own last name attached to it. RC was obviously
      > > > > entrenched in a faulty theology; then after Luther got things rolling
      > > > with
      > > > > "sola Scriptura" Zwingli and Calvin and the Anabaptists came along
      > and
      > > > began
      > > > > rejecting more and more foundational Biblical teachings such as the
      > > real
      > > > > presence in the Eucharist, baptismal regeneration, etc. What had
      > seemed
      > > > so
      > > > > certain (that Sola Scriptura would eliminate all the errors and unite
      > > > true
      > > > > believers) was shown to be an illusion.... within Luther's lifetime.
      > > How
      > > > > difficult that must have been for him.
      > > > >
      > > > > In this context, having friends in different parties; would you say
      > > they
      > > > > were all damned? No, you would come up with an idea like an invisible
      > > > church
      > > > > with its own "marks."
      > > > >
      > > > > *
      > > > >
      > > > > In Orthodoxy we don't really talk about marks of the church. It would
      > > be
      > > > > like asking someone what are the marks of America.
      > > > >
      > > > > What would you say? Speaking English? Three branches of government?
      > > > > Competing cable TV networks? Baseball and apple pie? You can state
      > > > examples,
      > > > > but it's an ontological thing that examples don't really do justice
      > to
      > > > the
      > > > > whole.
      > > > >
      > > > > The same as being in the original Church. You can cite the continued
      > > > > government from the apostles, the theology, the worship, etc, but
      > > really
      > > > the
      > > > > Church just IS, and everything fits. You know when you're there, just
      > > > that
      > > > > same as you know when you're in America.
      > > > >
      > > > > But Orthodoxy does stand unique in dogma, worship and piety and so
      > I'll
      > > > > give you some examples of differences that have never been bridged by
      > > > Rome
      > > > > or Protestantism. ..
      > > > >
      > > > > Anthropology comes to mind offhand, as we have been discussing. The
      > > > > existence of the nous, the biblical understanding of the "heart," the
      > > > > passions, theosis....and the piety that goes along with the
      > > anthropology.
      > > > > Healing and a lot of what has been defaulted to secular "psychology"
      > > has
      > > > > always been part of our spirituality.
      > > > >
      > > > > ---Wondrous changes take place when somebody comes into the Church.
      > You
      > > > see
      > > > > their face literally change over time, and the negative aspects of
      > the
      > > > > personality begin to fade as the virtues grow. You see your family
      > > > members
      > > > > and friends transformed around you. (Of course, sincerity is a
      > > > prerequisite.
      > > > > As you point out, being physically present for services doesn't
      > > > > automatically deify you.)
      > > > >
      > > > > I have one pal who grew up in what I think was a very painful home
      > > life.
      > > > At
      > > > > any rate, he was very gloomy and somber, prone to brooding and fears;
      > I
      > > > > never ever saw him really laugh a belly laugh, till about a year ago.
      > > Now
      > > > > every Sunday, three years after his baptism, I hear that ho-ho-ho.
      > You
      > > > see
      > > > > such transformations again and again.
      > > > >
      > > > > You see the gifts of the Spirit in more wondrous ways, too. You meet
      > > > those
      > > > > who read your heart and thoughts.... and are the humblest people.
      > Yous
      > > > see
      > > > > the bones of dead people, like those of Elishah the prophet (II Kings
      > > > 13),
      > > > > fragrant and working miracles. You see icons weep.
      > > > >
      > > > > Where else is the Jesus Prayer practiced and taught, and hesychasm
      > > > > generally? Where else are the services lenghty enough to fully engage
      > > the
      > > > > heart, and adorned with music that so beautifully helps bring the
      > > prayers
      > > > to
      > > > > the heart? What other communion has developed its own profound form
      > of
      > > > > visual art, or tonsures everyone (not just monastics) and directs
      > them
      > > > into
      > > > > the ascetic life? Where is there such reverent worship?
      > > > >
      > > > > Of course all these things are founded on dogma: the
      > patristic/biblical
      > > > > view of the free will, image and likeness of God are crucial, as well
      > > as
      > > > the
      > > > > Transfiguarion, the divine energies and so on....
      > > > >
      > > > > ---I could multiply such examples endlessly, but I don't want to bore
      > > you
      > > > > to tears. And I don't mean to disparage communions outside Orthodoxy,
      > > > since
      > > > > obviously God has worked in them....but there is something of a
      > > different
      > > > > quality that you see here.
      > > > >
      > > > > In fact, it's so different it takes a very long time to begin
      > absorbing
      > > > > even some of the crucial differences. I became Orthodox because I
      > liked
      > > > the
      > > > > reverence in the services, and the cool stencilling on the walls. I
      > not
      > > > only
      > > > > didn't know what Orthodox piety was, I didn't even know it HAD ITS
      > OWN
      > > > till
      > > > > I'd been chrismated for over a year! (I wonder if any of our Orthodox
      > > > > participants can top that one.)
      > > > >
      > > > > It takes a while to internalize the dogma and these various aspects
      > of
      > > > > Orthodoxy... .it's no good trying to learn it all beforehand. Since
      > the
      > > > > Church is ontological, not a mental construct, you really have to be
      > > > there
      > > > > to experience and begin to absorb it.
      > > > >
      > > > > It's good to try to understand these things and paint icons or
      > whatever
      > > > > outside Orthodoxy, but importing bits and pieces isn't the same. You
      > > can
      > > > > bring Budweiser and HGTV and baseball and a Supreme Court into
      > Borneo,
      > > > > likewise, but it still won't be America.
      > > > >
      > > > > ---I feel like I'm rambling, and it's getting late. I appreciate your
      > > > > questions... hopefully we can continue.
      > > > >
      > > > > In Christ,
      > > > >
      > > > > R.
      > > > >
      > > > > ____________ _________ _________ __
      > > > > From: Bradley Varvil <bvarvil@lutheranor t hodox.com
      > <bvarvil%40lutheran
      > > > orthodox. com>
      > > > > >
      > > > > To: LutheransLookingEas t@yahoogroups. com<LutheransLookin gEa
      > > > st%40yahoogroups .com>
      > > > > Sent: Tuesday, July 7, 2009 11:26:12 AM
      > > > > Subject: Re: [LutheransLookingEa st] Christians?
      > > >
      > > > >
      > > > > Randy,
      > > > >
      > > > > Thanks for your insights. Perhaps as points of clarification, you
      > could
      > > > > offer a few more.
      > > > >
      > > > > You seem to be hinting about the definition of the Church as Body of
      > > > > Christ,
      > > > > which I think any confessional Lutheran would appreciate. Where you
      > > might
      > > > > be able to help educate me on the Orthodox perspective, is in the
      > > > > definition
      > > > > of that One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Ecclesia.
      > > > >
      > > > > The Augsburg Confession attempts to find a definition within the
      > > context
      > > > of
      > > > > rampant Western corruption in the Church. The German Christians who
      > > > rallied
      > > > > around that Confession were not seeking seperation from the Western
      > > > Church,
      > > > > nor from the broader Church, neither by Sacraments, nor church
      > polity,
      > > > nor
      > > > > even by canon per se. In the Apology of the Augsburg Confession, one
      > > > finds
      > > > > great willingness to remain within the Sacramental, Episcopal, and
      > > > > Canonical
      > > > > structure of the Church Catholic (at least from a concilliar
      > > perspective,
      > > > > rathern than an ultra-montanist or Romanist perspective. ) With the
      > > lack
      > > > of
      > > > > charity the Reformation elicited from both sides (perhaps from many
      > > sides
      > > > > considering the other Reformers,) positions and argumentation became
      > > > > calcified in the polemics and passions of the age.
      > > > >
      > > > > For example, when I allow myself to consider the Lutheran expression
      > of
      > > > > Christianity at it's best, most hoped for goal, to wit, a reform
      > > movement
      > > > > within the Church Catholic toward focus on Christ rather than man, I
      > > can
      > > > > see
      > > > > that happily coexisting within the theology of the Ecumenical
      > Councils
      > > > and
      > > > > the first 1000 years of the undivided Church. That common faith,
      > > > > ecclesiology, and piety is a potential within Lutheran communions,
      > > though
      > > > > one might argue quite validly that such potential has rarely been
      > > > realized.
      > > > >
      > > > > In that context of corruption and reform, however, I cannot help but
      > > see
      > > > > the
      > > > > Church as defined in the terms of the faithful gathered around
      > > Scripture
      > > > > and
      > > > > Sacrament; the physical and visible identifiers of the Church are
      > very
      > > > > real,
      > > > > but they reflect a deeper spiritual reality. Hence the Fathers and
      > the
      > > > > Lutheran Reformers might both say that the One Church will indeed
      > > remain
      > > > > forever, united to Christ by grace through faith and working out
      > > > salvation
      > > > > in love toward God and neighbor, but that anyone who would hope upon
      > > > purely
      > > > > their physical association with the visible Church as guarantee of
      > > > > salvation
      > > > > apart from a living faith in Christ which works itself out in love
      > (be
      > > > they
      > > > > lay, monk, deacon, priest, bishop, or pope) hopes in vain. The great
      > > > > dragnet of the Church calls all to Her bosom, but the Holy Angels of
      > > God
      > > > > will sift the evil from the righteous, so that the goats and the
      > sheep
      > > > may
      > > > > be placed at the left and right hands of Christ for Judgment. The
      > > reality
      > > > > is fundamentally spiritual, which is expressed physically.. . as our
      > > God
      > > > is
      > > > > desirous to redeem both body and soul, and all creation. The Holy
      > > Church
      > > > > really conveys grace and forgiveness and salvation through the Divine
      > > > means
      > > > > of Word and Sacrament, but we likewise note with the Fathers that the
      > > > road
      > > > > to hell is lined with the skulls of faithless priests and bishops.
      > > > >
      > > > > How might the Orthodox understand the Church differently in her
      > > > definition?
      > > > >
      > > > > Grace and peace to you,
      > > > > Brad
      > > > > On Mon, Jul 6, 2009 at 8:29 PM, randall hay <stortford@sbcgloba l
      > > .net>
      > > >
      > > > > wrote:
      > > > >
      > > > > >
      > > > > >
      > > > > > Rev. Brad, as you suggest there has never been a utopian church,
      > > > because
      > > > > > the Church is made up of sinners...which is a good thing for me!
      > > > > >
      > > > > > Many types of pernicious sins were present in the Church even
      > during
      > > > the
      > > > > NT
      > > > > > period, as anyone can see at glance at the epistles. Unfortunately,
      > > > some
      > > > > > people forget this when they open their Bibles, and expect outward
      > > and
      > > > > > inward perfection from other people. In my experience this has
      > > > absolutely
      > > > > > disastrous consequences for their spiritual lives.
      > > > > >
      > > > > > By the same token, however, Christ has one body, against which the
      > > > gates
      > > > > of
      > > > > > hell will not stand.
      > > > > > The government of the Church didn't change when the apostles died;
      > > they
      > > > > > consecrated bishops, who continued the succession. There was never
      > a
      > > > > change
      > > > > > in dogma; if you rejected it you were by definition outside the
      > > Church.
      > > > > > Everyone in the church was governed by the same canons regulating
      > > > church
      > > > > > life, discipline etc.
      > > > > >
      > > > > > ---I never really understood the significance of dogma till it hit
      > me
      > > > > that
      > > > > > all dogma in Orthodoxy is about our deification, our union with
      > > Christ.
      > > > > If
      > > > > > any piece of it is rejected, our being "filled with His fulness"
      > > cannot
      > > > > > happen. That includes all seven ecumenical councils. No Christian
      > > body
      > > > > that
      > > > > > rejects Orthodox dogma has ever held fast to the patristic/Biblical
      > > > > > understanding of deification. ..or the piety that fosters it.
      > > > > >
      > > > > > That's why people would be martyred over things like monothelitism.
      > > It
      > > > > > wasn't just about some theological teaching; it was about our life
      > in
      > > > > > Christ, our salvation and our hope.
      > > > > >
      > > > > > Anyhow, the thought never occurred to anyone that you could hold
      > > > > different
      > > > > > beliefs and be under different government and different canons and
      > > have
      > > > > > different sacraments and be considered part of the Church. There
      > were
      > > > > > debates and discussions and conflicts and back-and-forth and
      > politics
      > > > > over
      > > > > > who WAS the church....but the idea that there is an invisible
      > church
      > > > > didn't
      > > > > > arise till the 16th century.
      > > > > >
      > > > > > So we Orthodox don't damn other Christians, and we often admire
      > them
      > > > > quite
      > > > > > a lot; but by the same token there is a peculiar joy in finding
      > that
      > > > the
      > > > > > original church is still there, unchanged... and that you yourself
      > > are
      > > > in
      > > > > it!
      > > > > >
      > > > > > In Christ,
      > > > > >
      > > > > > R.
      > > > > >
      > > > > > ____________ _________ _________ __
      > > > > > From: Bradley Varvil <bvarvil@lutheranor t hodox.com<bvarvil%
      > > > 40lutheran
      > > >
      > > > > orthodox. com>
      > > > > > >
      > > > > > To: LutheransLookingEas t@yahoogroups. com<LutheransLookin gEa
      > > > > st%40yahoogroups .com>
      > > > > > Sent: Monday, July 6, 2009 10:01:39 AM
      > > > > > Subject: Re: [LutheransLookingEa st] Christians?
      > > > > >
      > > > > >
      > > > > > Subdeacon Randy,
      > > > > >
      > > > > > Many thanks-- that does help. As one who has worked
      > > inter-denominationa
      > > > > lly
      > > > > > for many years, one of the basic truths I've encountered, is that
      > one
      > > > can
      > > > > > never fully predict where the Spirit of God will manifest
      > Himself...
      > > or
      > > > > > perhaps, more precisely, where He won't manifest Himself. As a
      > > Lutheran
      > > > > > Christian, I recognize that God will certainly be where He promises
      > > to
      > > > be
      > > > > > most explicitly, in the preaching and the hearing of His Holy
      > > > Scriptures,
      > > > > > and in the faithful administration of His Holy Sacraments. But as
      > we
      > > > find
      > > > > > the physical expressions of the Church today in vast dissarray, it
      > > > seems
      > > > > > that the Spirit of God has kept for Himself faithful remnants in
      > many
      > > > > > communions.. . and continues to manifest Himself there to those who
      > > > call
      > > > > on
      > > > > > Him in faith, hoping upon His grace.
      > > > > >
      > > > > > On a personal level, I gave up searching for a perfect or utopian
      > > > > Christian
      > > > > > communion quite a number of years ago... I don't think such things
      > > > exist
      > > > > on
      > > > > > this side of eternity. But I have continued, though battered and
      > > > bruised
      > > > > by
      > > > > > the ongoing experience, to seek where Christ's Church is most fully
      > > > > > manifest-- and to work personally to make it more manifest where
      > the
      > > > Lord
      > > > > > has planted me. I've also found that such searches seem better
      > suited
      > > > to
      > > > > > avoiding the polemicists of respective traditions, my own being a
      > > case
      > > > in
      > > > > > point. Thus began and ensues my study of the Eastern Church.
      > > > > >
      > > > > > Grace and peace be with you, brother,
      > > > > > Rev. Brad
      > > > > >
      > > > > > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      > > > > >
      > > > > > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      > > > > >
      > > > > >
      > > > > >
      > > > >
      > > > > --
      > > > > Chaplain (CPT) Brad Varvil
      > > > > Federal Way Team Leader
      > > > > WA Brigade, 5th Division
      > > > > United States Core of Chaplains
      > > > >
      > > > > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      > > > >
      > > > > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      > > > >
      > > > >
      > > > >
      > > >
      > > > --
      > > > Chaplain (CPT) Brad Varvil
      > > > Federal Way Team Leader
      > > > WA Brigade, 5th Division
      > > > United States Core of Chaplains
      > > >
      > > > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      > > >
      > > > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      > > >
      > > >
      > > >
      > >
      > > --
      > > Chaplain (CPT) Brad Varvil
      > > Federal Way Team Leader
      > > WA Brigade, 5th Division
      > > United States Core of Chaplains
      > >
      > > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      > >
      > >
      > >
      >
      > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      >
      >
      >

      --
      Chaplain (CPT) Brad Varvil
      Federal Way Team Leader
      WA Brigade, 5th Division
      United States Core of Chaplains

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]




      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • randall hay
      Actually I was thinking of laity here....I can still picture the kids lined up. Not a universal practice, of course....in fact I thought it was because they
      Message 72 of 72 , Jul 24, 2009
      • 0 Attachment
        Actually I was thinking of laity here....I can still picture the kids lined up. Not a universal practice, of course....in fact I thought it was because they needed to get to Sunday school first; but then someone explained it to me.





        ________________________________
        From: Christopher Orr <xcjorr@...>
        To: LutheransLookingEast@yahoogroups.com
        Sent: Friday, July 24, 2009 8:41:04 AM
        Subject: Re: [LutheransLookingEast] Re: Christians?


        I think the children first thing may have started more as a health concern -
        let the kids take communion from the spoon before all the dirty adults.

        In fact, when you visit a monastery communion is usually done in order of
        'rank' and 'seniority'. So, monastic priests would commune first (in order
        of their ordination date), then married priests, then monastic deacons, then
        married deacons, then the lower orders of clergy (subdeacons, readers,
        chanters) then laity from eldest to youngest (sometimes men first, then
        women, though I have never actually seen this). It would not be uncommon,
        however, even in an ordered situation such as this for clergy and people to
        defer to others as the first shall be last and the last first.

        Christopher

        On Thu, Jul 23, 2009 at 11:31 PM, randall hay <stortford@sbcglobal .net>wrote:

        >
        >
        > I think others have at least alluded to the fact that Orthodox catechesis
        > is more than just learning; it's participation in the body of Christ. Yes,
        > learning in some degree is necessary, insofar as we may be capable (and it
        > is for the rest of our lives, by the way); but participation in the life of
        > the Church is necessary too.
        >
        > Some people's interest is lukewarm, or perhaps I should say not quite ripe.
        > They don't come regularly to worship God in the company of their brothers
        > and sisters....and so their catechumenate is likely to be lengthy.
        >
        > Those who come regularly, showing that they are earnest in their love for
        > God and are genuinely concerned about their brethren, are likely to be
        > received sooner. Sincere worship of the Trinity and love of the brethren is
        > the heart of the faith, after all, and our eternal vocation in the world to
        > come; not something peripheral.
        >
        > I may be mistaken, but the tide seems to me to be turning more toward
        > reception of converts by baptism. Being Catholic or Methodist isn't what it
        > used to be, after all.
        >
        > A member of our parish, for example, got a degree from a local RC
        > university; in one class a professor suggested that the students pray to God
        > the Mother.
        >
        > I was in a coffee shop recently and I heard what seemed to be two
        > non-denominational Protestants discussing the Trinity. Neither had a clue on
        > the subject. One, who probably did believe in the Holy Trinity, was saying
        > he didn't; the other simply had no idea what the term signified.
        >
        > Fifty years ago we could be sure a RC baptism was in the name of of the
        > Father, Son and Holy Spirit....and your average Protestant likewise.
        > Nowadays it's so uncertain, bishops seem to be increasingly inclined toward
        > re-baptism.
        >
        > (Policy, by the way, is set by the bishop; the priest may make the
        > decision, but it's based on what his bishop decides.)
        >
        > I might mention that you may notice children lining up to commune before
        > adults...this is a practice in some parishes, expressing Christ's teaching
        > that we need to become like little children to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.
        >
        > ---For your first visits, remember that it is best to just watch and try to
        > soak in what's happening, without worrying about what to do or where to look
        > in the service book....as a priest commented to me as I began serving behind
        > the altar as a subdeacon, become "all eye."
        >
        > R.
        >
        > ____________ _________ _________ __
        > From: Kimberly Sparling <belleartmom@ gmail.com <belleartmom% 40gmail.com> >
        > To: LutheransLookingEas t@yahoogroups. com<LutheransLookingEa st%40yahoogroups .com>
        > Sent: Thursday, July 23, 2009 10:00:46 AM
        > Subject: Re: [LutheransLookingEa st] Re: Christians?
        >
        >
        > On Thu, Jul 23, 2009 at 8:10 AM, Rosemarie Lieffring <
        > rose.lieffring@ gmail.com> wrote:
        >
        > > When I had come to the point that I was examining Lutheranism and
        > > considering going elsewhere I told myself there was absolutely NO reason
        > to
        > > leave Lutheranism unless there was something theologically wrong with it.
        > > After all...my husband is Lutheran, my children were raised in Lutheran
        > > schools, all of my good friends were Lutheran, I had completed about 24
        > > hours of college coursework in Lutheran ministry...I wasn't going to
        > reject
        > > all of that for superficial reasons, no matter how nice the incense
        > > smelled.
        > >
        > > But infant communion was where the rubber met the road for me. It was the
        > > chink in the armor. I saw the LCMS position as theological error. Later
        > > there were other things but infant communion and in particular the CTCR's
        > > response to the South Wisconsin District's proposal on infant communion
        > was
        > > sufficient for me to see a foundational problem.
        > >
        > > (By that time both of my boys had been confirmed and I still don't have
        > > grand kids so it wasn't a personal issue in our home.)
        > >
        > > In the end though every convert's story and jumping off points are
        > > different
        > > so as they say...YMMV.- ----R
        > >
        > > On Thu, Jul 23, 2009 at 8:48 AM, nrinne <Nrinne@excite. com> wrote:
        > >
        > > >
        > >
        >
        > This is something I have been wondering about. I am reading all the books I
        > can on Orthodoxy Christianity, and this weekend our family is going to
        > visit
        > an Antiochan Orthodox church on Saturday.
        > One thing that occurred to me was, If my dh and I join (eventually) , do my
        > kids go through something similar to confirmation? We have an almost 21yo
        > who has developmental disabilities and will live with us indefinitely; a
        > 9yo
        > son and twin girls age 7 1/2. Currently at the LCMS my 21 takes communion,
        > and I have been trying to explain to the younger ones why they can't take
        > communion yet. Would that all change if we converted?
        > God Bless and thank you all for this list!
        > Kim S.
        >
        > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        >
        > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        >
        >
        >

        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]




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