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Re: A question, on Orthodox ecclesiology

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  • Andrew
    Christopher, There seems to be equivocation going on here. Perhaps I m just beating a dead horse, but how in the world does baptism (not just the form, but the
    Message 1 of 17 , May 17, 2007
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      Christopher,

      There seems to be equivocation going on here. Perhaps I'm just beating
      a dead horse, but how in the world does baptism (not just the form,
      but the spiritual effects: remission of sin, etc.) exist outside of
      the Church? To affirm that it does is ridiculous. If you affirm that
      baptism exists outside of the Church, then you are affirming that the
      Church exists beyond its canonical boundaries; therefore you do in
      fact believe in an 'invisible' Church, as much as you'd vociferously
      deny it.

      For those received by Chrismation, would not the Orthodox say that the
      rite brings power to the _empty_ form of baptism that they received
      outside of the Church? To use an analogy, let's say there is a lamp
      that is plugged into an electrical outlet that doesn't work. The lamp
      won't turn on because the outlet doesn't provide the necessary
      electricity. But if plugged into an outlet that does work, the lamp
      will turn on. So too with baptism. Baptisms outside of the Church are
      like a lamp that's plugged into a powerless outlet. Chrismation is the
      outlet that does in fact work, and therefore energizes the baptism
      that didn't 'work' before.

      Anastasia,

      As to the ambiguity to the state of the children of the Reformation,
      if they are outside of the Church (which they are), then they are not
      to be called Christians. They may not be heretics or apostates proper,
      but that doesn't nullify the fact that they are outside of the Church.
      If you are saying that they may be in the Church, then you are saying
      that the Church may be invisible.


      Andrew.

      --- In LutheransLookingEast@yahoogroups.com, "Christopher Orr"
      <xcjorr@...> wrote:
      >
      > The canons mentioned and the practice of the conciliar Church teach
      that the
      > form does in fact constitute true Baptism, so non-canonical Orthodox
      groups
      > with no episcopal connection would not be received into the Church by
      > baptism - as long as they had retained the fullness of the form of
      Baptism,
      > which is the property of the Church regardless of whether it is
      performed by
      > those outside of Her. For converts from those churches that have not
      > retained the proper, full, apostolic form of Baptism it is left to the
      > economia (pastoral wisdom and dispensation) of the bishop to decide
      how to
      > proceed. St. Basil's admonition not to set the bar too high relative to
      > Baptism for fear of keeping people outside of the Church is the
      generally
      > accepted rule here in the US out of an abundance of caution in not
      repeating
      > the unrepeatable 'one baptism' of the Church.
      >
      > By way of disclosure, I was received by Baptism; my sister was
      received by
      > chrismation. My convert godson was received by chrismation, but he
      had been
      > baptized in an Anabaptist community that retained the ancient
      practice of
      > triple immersion in the name of the Trinity, so the form was deemed
      > 'minimally' performed. The late Fr Seraphim Rose - a traditionalist
      likely
      > to be canonized - and St. Elizabeth the New Martyr were both received by
      > chrismation.
      >
      > The argument as to how the Church could say that there are no sacraments
      > outside of the Church and yet 'accept' baptisms performed outside of the
      > Church is a good one. I will give you an example from inside the
      Church.
      > The canons allow for someone that is unable to be immersed to be
      baptized by
      > pouring and in exceptional cases by sprinkling. This is assumed to
      be due
      > to a person being on their death bed. However, the same canons
      state that
      > should this person recover they are to undergo the full rite of
      Baptism out
      > of an abundance of caution in denying a soul the full grace of the
      > Sacrament. Now, if the person had not survived, there would have
      been no
      > question as to the 'validity' of his/her baptism since they received all
      > that they could - similar to the martyrs and the Wise Thief that all
      > received as much of baptism as they could (by blood in their cases).
      The
      > governing rule is that none of us is sinless and no priest/bishop etc
      > sinlessly performs the 'fullness of the rite', and yet the Sacrament is
      > nonetheless fulfilled. A prayer at ordination asks God to 'complete
      that
      > which is lacking' in the candidate for ordination, and this is
      exactly how
      > chrismation, confession and/or the Eucharist are viewed in those
      situations
      > were a convert's Baptism was less than the 'fullness of the rite'.
      >
      > As to whether or how those Christians outside of the Church may or
      may not
      > be saved, see Patrick Barnes' book *The Non-Orthodox: The Orthodox
      Teaching
      > on Christians Outside of the Church* for a traditionalist's strict
      > discussion of the issue. It is available to read free - it is now
      out of
      > print - here:
      >
      > http://www.orthodoxinfo.com/inquirers/status.aspx
      >
      > Christopher
      >
      >
      > 5/16/07, Andrew <drew1095950@...> wrote:
      > >
      > > Christopher and WRV,
      > >
      > > So in other words, the 'form' of baptism may or may not (depending on
      > > who you talk to) exist outside of the Church, whereas the spiritual
      > > effects of baptism (remission of sin, union with Christ, regeneration,
      > > etc.) does not.
      > >
      > > So back to the main point of my post, which you both did not address:
      > > if baptism doesn't exist outside of the Church (the form means nothing
      > > without the effects), then how can you rightly call the non-Orthodox
      > > Christians? It is clear in the New Testament that to be a Christian is
      > > to be baptized, and therefore to be in the Church. The non-Orthodox
      > > are neither baptized, nor are they in the Church. Therefore they are
      > > not Christians.
      > >
      > > As I said before, shoot straight with me here, fellas. I like my
      > > Orthodoxy straight up, thank you very much.
      > >
      > > Andrew.
      > >
      > >
      > >
      >
      >
      > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      >
    • Christopher Orr
      ... Remember, Orthodoxy, as was early Christianity, the experience of the Risen Christ and His Church first, and then argument to attempt an explanation. This
      Message 2 of 17 , May 17, 2007
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        On 5/17/07, Andrew <drew1095950@...> wrote:
        >
        > Christopher,
        >
        > There seems to be equivocation going on here. Perhaps I'm just beating
        > a dead horse, but how in the world does baptism (not just the form,
        > but the spiritual effects: remission of sin, etc.) exist outside of
        > the Church? To affirm that it does is ridiculous. If you affirm that
        > baptism exists outside of the Church, then you are affirming that the
        > Church exists beyond its canonical boundaries; therefore you do in
        > fact believe in an 'invisible' Church, as much as you'd vociferously
        > deny it.
        >
        > For those received by Chrismation, would not the Orthodox say that the
        > rite brings power to the _empty_ form of baptism that they received
        > outside of the Church? To use an analogy, let's say there is a lamp
        > that is plugged into an electrical outlet that doesn't work. The lamp
        > won't turn on because the outlet doesn't provide the necessary
        > electricity. But if plugged into an outlet that does work, the lamp
        > will turn on. So too with baptism. Baptisms outside of the Church are
        > like a lamp that's plugged into a powerless outlet. Chrismation is the
        > outlet that does in fact work, and therefore energizes the baptism
        > that didn't 'work' before.
        >
























        Remember, Orthodoxy, as was early Christianity, the experience of the Risen
        Christ and His Church first, and then argument to attempt an explanation.
        This is very different than the mindset of the West, and especially
        Protestantism, that begins with data and then builds the appropriately
        expected experience to have, look for, create, etc.

        You are making a distinction between form and content that Orthodoxy does
        not. Fr Gregory may be able to provide more of an explanation as to the
        underlying intellectual/philosophical paradigms they represent, though Dr.
        David Bradshaw of the University of Kentucky gets at similar differences in
        his article, "Christianity East & West: Some Philosophical
        Differences"<http://www.uky.edu/%7Edbradsh/papers/Christianity%20East%20&%20West.doc>,
        which can be found here:

        http://orrologion.blogspot.com/2007/05/papers-on-philosophical-theological.html

        I would point you to the theology of the icon as developed by saints such as
        John Damascene and Theodore Studite during the iconoclast controversy, and
        ratified by the Seventh EC. Christ, the Theotokos and the saints and angels
        are the 'content', the real thing, the nature, but the icon really
        represents and shares in the personhood, the hypostasis, of the saints
        without mixture with their natures. So, too, the form or 'hypostasis' of
        the Sacrament offers the grace in a distorted way, and it does so because it
        is the Church's, it is of the Body of Christ though it is being used by
        those that have set themselves outside of the Church. So, the Sacrament is
        real and true insofar as it is the Sacrament of the Church, and lacking
        insofar as it has been 'stolen' by those outside of the Church. There are
        early martyr stories of actors mocking Christians by performing a Baptism on
        stage - likely not exactly to form and definitely not done by the Church or
        in the appropriate setting. When the actor comes out of the font, however,
        he has become converted and truly believes - he is then promptly killed.
        Now, those that have been engrafted in a less than full way with less than
        the full, maximalist (so, Orthodox) rite performed outside of the Church
        normally and usually continue to separate themselves from the Church - they
        remain aloof from the Church whose Baptism they had coopted and thus
        excommunicate themselves and fall away.

        > Anastasia,
        >
        > As to the ambiguity to the state of the children of the Reformation,
        > if they are outside of the Church (which they are), then they are not
        > to be called Christians. They may not be heretics or apostates proper,
        > but that doesn't nullify the fact that they are outside of the Church.
        > If you are saying that they may be in the Church, then you are saying
        > that the Church may be invisible.
        >
        > Andrew.
        >












        Orthodox dogmatic books would make the distinction between Christians truly
        so called - Orthodox Christians - and those others that honor or follow
        Christ in someway less than fully Orthodox, and therefore less than fully
        Christian. It is the same reason why we refer to other 'churches', rather
        than sects, or other 'church buildings' rather than something less seemly.
        Same goes for the term 'temple' relating to other religions.

        Personally, I tend to side with those Orthodox that are more in keeping with
        the 'consistency' that you are looking for, but so far Anastasia is right
        and this is only opinion, theologoumena - which is not the same as saying
        that everyone is right and that no one is wrong in how they handle these
        issues. This, too, is similar to the iconoclast controversy, which took
        centuries for the Church to work out the theological underpinning of why
        icons were necessary in the Church - against the equally concerned position
        of the iconoclasts against them. The latter were wrong, but the Church had
        not been able to come down definitely as to why, and allowed a certain
        degree of nonconformity and difference until she was able to confirm it one
        way or the other theologically (rather, christologically).

        Christopher


        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • tantuslabor
        ... What about the story of St. Porphyrios? Here s an excerpt: Porphyrios . . . was not a Christian nor did he have any personal respect for the Christian
        Message 3 of 17 , May 17, 2007
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          --- In LutheransLookingEast@yahoogroups.com, "Andrew"
          <drew1095950@...> wrote:
          >
          > Christopher,
          >
          > There seems to be equivocation going on here. Perhaps I'm just beating
          > a dead horse, but how in the world does baptism (not just the form,
          > but the spiritual effects: remission of sin, etc.) exist outside of
          > the Church? To affirm that it does is ridiculous.

          What about the story of St. Porphyrios? Here's an excerpt:

          "Porphyrios . . . was not a Christian nor did he have any personal
          respect for the Christian faith. It was his intention to participate
          in a "mock" ceremony of the Christian Baptism. He engaged the services
          of several other pagan actors to assist him. The Emperor's court was
          filled with pagan officials who gathered to honor the Emperor's
          birthday. At the given time, Porphyrios entered with his
          collaborators. Each person was dressed in the robes of Christian
          clergy. One was attired as a Bishop, and the others as priests. These
          fellow actors were not actually ordained clergymen and they had only
          one purpose in mind, to mimic the Christian faith. Porphyrios made his
          entrance dressed in the attire of a prospective catechumen (one who is
          about to receive the Sacrament of Baptism). The false clergy began the
          Christian Sacrament of Baptism, interjecting humorous and degrading
          phrases, which brought resounding laughter from the Emperor and the
          officials present. As Porphyrios was "baptized" in the water he
          shouted sarcastically, "The Servant of the Lord Jesus Christ,
          Porphyrios is baptized in the name of the Father and the Son and the
          Holy Spirit."

          Everyone was happy over the performance; and as Porphyrios was being
          dressed in the white garments of "salvation" in accordance with the
          Christian Tradition, Porphyrios was suddenly overcome with a strange
          sensation. An Angel of the Lord appeared to him, and he stood
          transfixed and in shock! The Angel spoke to him and told him that he
          was now truly "A servant of the Lord Jesus Christ." The Angel scolded
          him for his mockery of the Christian Faith, but informed him that the
          Lord had forgiven him. Porphyrios fell to his knees and accepted
          Christ in his heart. He rose and addressed his audience concerning his
          conversation. The Emperor Julian was furious with Porphyrios over this
          strange turn of events. Julian ordered his soldiers to behead
          Porphyrios, thus Porphyrios the Mimic gave his life for Christ that
          famous evening on November 4th, in the year of our Lord 361 A.D."


          > If you affirm that
          > baptism exists outside of the Church, then you are affirming that the
          > Church exists beyond its canonical boundaries; therefore you do in
          > fact believe in an 'invisible' Church, as much as you'd vociferously
          > deny it.

          We do not affirm that baptism exists outside of the Church. If the
          form of baptism was observed in the act in question, then the act may
          be called "baptism" as it is completed by the holy chrism. It is and
          is called "baptism" because it is joined to the application of chrism,
          and reception at the eucharist. We are not affirming anything about
          similar acts in connection with those who never have them completed by
          holy chrism and eucharist.

          St. Elisabeth the New Martyr was received by chrismation from a
          Lutheran body, sealed her faith in her blood and is affirmed as saint
          by the Orthodox. 'Nuff said.


          > For those received by Chrismation, would not the Orthodox say that the
          > rite brings power to the _empty_ form of baptism that they received
          > outside of the Church? To use an analogy, let's say there is a lamp
          > that is plugged into an electrical outlet that doesn't work. The lamp
          > won't turn on because the outlet doesn't provide the necessary
          > electricity. But if plugged into an outlet that does work, the lamp
          > will turn on. So too with baptism. Baptisms outside of the Church are
          > like a lamp that's plugged into a powerless outlet. Chrismation is the
          > outlet that does in fact work, and therefore energizes the baptism
          > that didn't 'work' before.

          This sounds about right.

          >
          > Anastasia,
          >
          > As to the ambiguity to the state of the children of the Reformation,
          > if they are outside of the Church (which they are), then they are not
          > to be called Christians. They may not be heretics or apostates proper,
          > but that doesn't nullify the fact that they are outside of the Church.
          > If you are saying that they may be in the Church, then you are saying
          > that the Church may be invisible.

          The children of the Reformation are outside of the Church, true
          enough, by their own choice. But what they are, and what they are to
          be called, is up to God and not up to us. We Orthodox make judgments
          about *bodies*--e.g. when we say that Lutheranism is not the Church.
          But we don't make judgments about *individuals*.

          Tell me, Andrew, what is it you are seeking?

          The unworthy priest,

          Fr. Gregory




          >
          >
          > Andrew.
        • Fr. Robert K. McMeekin
          The words of the ordination rite sum up the resolution to your problem: The grace divine that heals that which is infirm and completes that which is
          Message 4 of 17 , May 17, 2007
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            The words of the ordination rite sum up the resolution to your problem:

            "The grace divine that heals that which is infirm and completes that
            which is lacking..."

            Does grace exist outside the Church? If there is existence of any kind
            at all then God is involved and there is grace. Who baptized Moses
            that we count him among the saints or the holy innocents slain by
            Herod? It is the Holy Spirit who is everywhere present and filling all
            things who completes that which is lacking in us through Christ in His
            Church.

            It should be noted in this light that the prophesy announced at
            Pentecost is that God "shall pour out His Spirit upon all flesh."
            There is no distinction, God is busy out there bringing all people to
            Himself, how he chooses to do it is up to Him. Our job is to be
            faithful and ready to receive whoever He brings.

            In Christ,
            Fr. Robert


            --- In LutheransLookingEast@yahoogroups.com, "Andrew"
            <drew1095950@...> wrote:
            >
            > Christopher,
            >
            > There seems to be equivocation going on here. Perhaps I'm just beating
            > a dead horse, but how in the world does baptism (not just the form,
            > but the spiritual effects: remission of sin, etc.) exist outside of
            > the Church? To affirm that it does is ridiculous. If you affirm that
            > baptism exists outside of the Church, then you are affirming that the
            > Church exists beyond its canonical boundaries; therefore you do in
            > fact believe in an 'invisible' Church, as much as you'd vociferously
            > deny it.
            >
            > For those received by Chrismation, would not the Orthodox say that the
            > rite brings power to the _empty_ form of baptism that they received
            > outside of the Church? To use an analogy, let's say there is a lamp
            > that is plugged into an electrical outlet that doesn't work. The lamp
            > won't turn on because the outlet doesn't provide the necessary
            > electricity. But if plugged into an outlet that does work, the lamp
            > will turn on. So too with baptism. Baptisms outside of the Church are
            > like a lamp that's plugged into a powerless outlet. Chrismation is the
            > outlet that does in fact work, and therefore energizes the baptism
            > that didn't 'work' before.
            >
            > Anastasia,
            >
            > As to the ambiguity to the state of the children of the Reformation,
            > if they are outside of the Church (which they are), then they are not
            > to be called Christians. They may not be heretics or apostates proper,
            > but that doesn't nullify the fact that they are outside of the Church.
            > If you are saying that they may be in the Church, then you are saying
            > that the Church may be invisible.
            >
            >
            > Andrew.
            >
            > --- In LutheransLookingEast@yahoogroups.com, "Christopher Orr"
            > <xcjorr@> wrote:
            > >
            > > The canons mentioned and the practice of the conciliar Church teach
            > that the
            > > form does in fact constitute true Baptism, so non-canonical Orthodox
            > groups
            > > with no episcopal connection would not be received into the Church by
            > > baptism - as long as they had retained the fullness of the form of
            > Baptism,
            > > which is the property of the Church regardless of whether it is
            > performed by
            > > those outside of Her. For converts from those churches that have not
            > > retained the proper, full, apostolic form of Baptism it is left to the
            > > economia (pastoral wisdom and dispensation) of the bishop to decide
            > how to
            > > proceed. St. Basil's admonition not to set the bar too high
            relative to
            > > Baptism for fear of keeping people outside of the Church is the
            > generally
            > > accepted rule here in the US out of an abundance of caution in not
            > repeating
            > > the unrepeatable 'one baptism' of the Church.
            > >
            > > By way of disclosure, I was received by Baptism; my sister was
            > received by
            > > chrismation. My convert godson was received by chrismation, but he
            > had been
            > > baptized in an Anabaptist community that retained the ancient
            > practice of
            > > triple immersion in the name of the Trinity, so the form was deemed
            > > 'minimally' performed. The late Fr Seraphim Rose - a traditionalist
            > likely
            > > to be canonized - and St. Elizabeth the New Martyr were both
            received by
            > > chrismation.
            > >
            > > The argument as to how the Church could say that there are no
            sacraments
            > > outside of the Church and yet 'accept' baptisms performed outside
            of the
            > > Church is a good one. I will give you an example from inside the
            > Church.
            > > The canons allow for someone that is unable to be immersed to be
            > baptized by
            > > pouring and in exceptional cases by sprinkling. This is assumed to
            > be due
            > > to a person being on their death bed. However, the same canons
            > state that
            > > should this person recover they are to undergo the full rite of
            > Baptism out
            > > of an abundance of caution in denying a soul the full grace of the
            > > Sacrament. Now, if the person had not survived, there would have
            > been no
            > > question as to the 'validity' of his/her baptism since they
            received all
            > > that they could - similar to the martyrs and the Wise Thief that all
            > > received as much of baptism as they could (by blood in their cases).
            > The
            > > governing rule is that none of us is sinless and no priest/bishop etc
            > > sinlessly performs the 'fullness of the rite', and yet the
            Sacrament is
            > > nonetheless fulfilled. A prayer at ordination asks God to 'complete
            > that
            > > which is lacking' in the candidate for ordination, and this is
            > exactly how
            > > chrismation, confession and/or the Eucharist are viewed in those
            > situations
            > > were a convert's Baptism was less than the 'fullness of the rite'.
            > >
            > > As to whether or how those Christians outside of the Church may or
            > may not
            > > be saved, see Patrick Barnes' book *The Non-Orthodox: The Orthodox
            > Teaching
            > > on Christians Outside of the Church* for a traditionalist's strict
            > > discussion of the issue. It is available to read free - it is now
            > out of
            > > print - here:
            > >
            > > http://www.orthodoxinfo.com/inquirers/status.aspx
            > >
            > > Christopher
            > >
            > >
            > > 5/16/07, Andrew <drew1095950@> wrote:
            > > >
            > > > Christopher and WRV,
            > > >
            > > > So in other words, the 'form' of baptism may or may not
            (depending on
            > > > who you talk to) exist outside of the Church, whereas the spiritual
            > > > effects of baptism (remission of sin, union with Christ,
            regeneration,
            > > > etc.) does not.
            > > >
            > > > So back to the main point of my post, which you both did not
            address:
            > > > if baptism doesn't exist outside of the Church (the form means
            nothing
            > > > without the effects), then how can you rightly call the non-Orthodox
            > > > Christians? It is clear in the New Testament that to be a
            Christian is
            > > > to be baptized, and therefore to be in the Church. The non-Orthodox
            > > > are neither baptized, nor are they in the Church. Therefore they are
            > > > not Christians.
            > > >
            > > > As I said before, shoot straight with me here, fellas. I like my
            > > > Orthodoxy straight up, thank you very much.
            > > >
            > > > Andrew.
            > > >
            > > >
            > > >
            > >
            > >
            > > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            > >
            >
          • Christopher Orr
            The other thing I would note regarding how we understand the Church, sacraments, and those outside of the Church is that we are simply following and attempting
            Message 5 of 17 , May 18, 2007
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              The other thing I would note regarding how we understand the Church,
              sacraments, and those outside of the Church is that we are simply following
              and attempting to understand precedent. We are not attempting to build a
              sacramental or ecclesiastical system from scratch, from the data of the New
              Testament. It was the Council of Nicea that decided this:

              The problem, whether a baptism <http://www.1911encyclopedia.org/Baptism>,
              > performed by heretics in the name of Christ<http://www.1911encyclopedia.org/Christ>or the Trinity, should rank as a
              > baptism <http://www.1911encyclopedia.org/Baptism> or. not, had given rise
              > to an animated controversy between the Roman bishop Stephen<http://www.1911encyclopedia.org/Stephen>,
              > who answered in the affirmative, and Cyprian of Carthage<http://www.1911encyclopedia.org/Carthage>,
              > who gave an equally decided negative. The council followed the Roman
              > practice, merely declaring the nullity of baptisms imparted by the adherents
              > of Paul of Samosata <http://www.1911encyclopedia.org/Paul_Of_Samosata>(canon xix.). ["Council
              > of Nicaea" <http://www.1911encyclopedia.org/Council_of_Nicaea>,
              > Encyclopaedia Britannica (1911)]
              >

              The same fault line exists in Orthodoxy today, with a similarly, seemingly
              inconsistent resolution.

              Christopher


              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            • Andrew
              ... Fr. Gregory, My questions were not meant to be gotcha! questions. Forgive me if they came across as such. I am seeking that ecclesial communion which
              Message 6 of 17 , May 30, 2007
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                > Tell me, Andrew, what is it you are seeking?

                Fr. Gregory,

                My questions were not meant to be 'gotcha!' questions. Forgive me if
                they came across as such.

                I am seeking that ecclesial communion which best enables me to live
                the life in Christ, that's all. Plain and simple. I keep on thinking
                that there's got to be more to the Christian life than just 'you're a
                dreadful sinner, but nonetheless you are justified by faith for
                Christ's sake'. I realize that that's probably an unfair
                oversimplification of what it's like to be a Lutheran, but seriously,
                that's about 95% of the spiritual guidance that I get in life from
                Lutherans. I know I'm a dreadful sinner, and I'm thankful for what God
                has done for me in Christ, but I also want desperately to actually
                love God enough to be obedient to Him, as well as love those around me
                so much that they stop and think to themselves, 'Wow, there's
                something different about him, I wonder what it is'.


                Andrew.
              • tantuslabor
                You might want to consider picking up the book The Life in Christ by Nicholas Cabasilas. I think it might speak to what you re seeking, from an Orthodox
                Message 7 of 17 , May 30, 2007
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                  You might want to consider picking up the book "The Life in Christ" by
                  Nicholas Cabasilas. I think it might speak to what you're seeking,
                  from an Orthodox perspective.

                  Fr. Gregory

                  --- In LutheransLookingEast@yahoogroups.com, "Andrew"
                  <drew1095950@...> wrote:
                  >
                  > > Tell me, Andrew, what is it you are seeking?
                  >
                  > Fr. Gregory,
                  >
                  > My questions were not meant to be 'gotcha!' questions. Forgive me if
                  > they came across as such.
                  >
                  > I am seeking that ecclesial communion which best enables me to live
                  > the life in Christ, that's all. Plain and simple. I keep on thinking
                  > that there's got to be more to the Christian life than just 'you're a
                  > dreadful sinner, but nonetheless you are justified by faith for
                  > Christ's sake'. I realize that that's probably an unfair
                  > oversimplification of what it's like to be a Lutheran, but seriously,
                  > that's about 95% of the spiritual guidance that I get in life from
                  > Lutherans. I know I'm a dreadful sinner, and I'm thankful for what God
                  > has done for me in Christ, but I also want desperately to actually
                  > love God enough to be obedient to Him, as well as love those around me
                  > so much that they stop and think to themselves, 'Wow, there's
                  > something different about him, I wonder what it is'.
                  >
                  >
                  > Andrew.
                  >
                • Laura Frizelle
                  Dear Andrew, In my experience I have met Christians from many denominational backgrounds who fit your description of being different. That something different
                  Message 8 of 17 , May 30, 2007
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                    Dear Andrew,

                    In my experience I have met Christians from many denominational backgrounds
                    who fit your description of being different. That something different is
                    the light of Christ shining in and through people that He loves and who love
                    him. He is the Lover of mankind and is at work in all of our lives (even
                    pagans). The people who are different reflect his love most brightly. I
                    think that this bright reflection has alot to do with repentance.

                    I agree with what you wrote about Lutheranism, in that, to me at times I
                    have felt a discouraging almost Calvinist totally depravity undertone in
                    Lutheranism when it comes to humanity and our inability to love or choose
                    God at all, even as baptized children of God, let alone simply men and women
                    created in His image and likeness. Lutheranism, especially the confessional
                    kind, is so suspicious of the heart that it practically cripples us .

                    I have found Orthodox anthropology so refreshing and encouraging. Fr. Marc,
                    my local archpriest, acknowledged in an inquirers class that he led last
                    year that even pagans love and are capable of good works because of how God
                    made mankind. Good works do not merit salvation of course, but they do
                    reflect our Creator. We are sinful, we miss the mark, but the image and
                    likeness of God in us is not completely lost.

                    Fr. Thomas Hopko put it well on his Meaning of the Cross tapes. I am
                    probably going to butcher this, but I hope you get the gist. He said that
                    he once met a young woman in a church who felt like she needed to pray but
                    couldn't and didn't know if she really wanted to believe in God at all. Fr.
                    Hopko asked her to say to God, "I want to love you." Then that was still to
                    difficult. Then he said, "How about say to God, 'I want to want to love
                    you.'"

                    We are weak and we do not love and obey God perfectly on this side of
                    heaven, but we can seek him and change and grow through Him. God reveals
                    himself to us in so many ways that we might find him. Jesus took on flesh!
                    God became man that man might be fully restored in his image and
                    likeness...fully able to love and to be in perfect communion with Him and
                    all of creation.

                    People are sinful and every church and parish that you find is going to have
                    its faults to be sure. Try not to let that discourage and frustrate you to
                    despair.

                    For me now that I have found Orthodoxy, the True Light, because God has
                    provided it where it could be found, I know that is where I have to be. I
                    can no longer settle for a reductionist, less than complete expression of
                    Christianity. I am utterly convinced on the head level and the heart level
                    that Orthodox Christianity is it. There is no other option.

                    My local Antiochian parish is full of people who are struggling together to
                    live faithfully in Christ and it is a beautiful thing. I look forward to
                    struggling with them and learning and changing and growing. I pray that you
                    will find a parish and people that you can struggle with and be challenged,
                    inspired and encouraged so that you can learn, change and grow to become the
                    unique, holy man God created you to be. You need Christ, His Sacraments,
                    His Word, His Saints, His Church...you need the whole package.

                    I am sure that there are people who have noticed the Light of Christ in you
                    already and it will continue to get brighter and brighter if you remain in
                    Him.
                    Jesus promised in John 14 or 15 that he would remain in us if we remain in
                    Him and that the way to remain in Him is to follow his commandment to love
                    one another. He is in us and we are in Him. You do love God and your
                    neighbor. Love more, ask Him to help you to love more and more and more!

                    Our last Sunday in the Lutheran church will be the 17th of June. Please
                    pray for us and for all of the people in the congregation that we are
                    leaving. That God will protect them and guide them. That God will send
                    them a new pastor who will not mislead them.

                    Christ is in our midst!

                    Peace be with you Andrew!

                    Love,
                    Laura
                  • BPeter Brandt-Sorheim
                    Thanks for saying that about total depravity. The Biblical perspective that I feel in Orthodoxy is so refreshing: I am God s creation. The devil makes
                    Message 9 of 17 , May 30, 2007
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                      Thanks for saying that about total depravity. The Biblical perspective that I feel in Orthodoxy is so refreshing: I am God's creation. The devil makes nothing but only abuses God's creation. No matter how badly abused, at base I always remains God's and in His mercy may be restored. This perspective fosters hope, encourages faith and engenders love towards God.

                      Laura Frizelle <lfrizelle@...> wrote: Dear Andrew,

                      In my experience I have met Christians from many denominational backgrounds
                      who fit your description of being different. That something different is
                      the light of Christ shining in and through people that He loves and who love
                      him. He is the Lover of mankind and is at work in all of our lives (even
                      pagans). The people who are different reflect his love most brightly. I
                      think that this bright reflection has alot to do with repentance.

                      I agree with what you wrote about Lutheranism, in that, to me at times I
                      have felt a discouraging almost Calvinist totally depravity undertone in
                      Lutheranism when it comes to humanity and our inability to love or choose
                      God at all, even as baptized children of God, let alone simply men and women
                      created in His image and likeness. Lutheranism, especially the confessional
                      kind, is so suspicious of the heart that it practically cripples us .

                      I have found Orthodox anthropology so refreshing and encouraging. Fr. Marc,
                      my local archpriest, acknowledged in an inquirers class that he led last
                      year that even pagans love and are capable of good works because of how God
                      made mankind. Good works do not merit salvation of course, but they do
                      reflect our Creator. We are sinful, we miss the mark, but the image and
                      likeness of God in us is not completely lost.

                      Fr. Thomas Hopko put it well on his Meaning of the Cross tapes. I am
                      probably going to butcher this, but I hope you get the gist. He said that
                      he once met a young woman in a church who felt like she needed to pray but
                      couldn't and didn't know if she really wanted to believe in God at all. Fr.
                      Hopko asked her to say to God, "I want to love you." Then that was still to
                      difficult. Then he said, "How about say to God, 'I want to want to love
                      you.'"

                      We are weak and we do not love and obey God perfectly on this side of
                      heaven, but we can seek him and change and grow through Him. God reveals
                      himself to us in so many ways that we might find him. Jesus took on flesh!
                      God became man that man might be fully restored in his image and
                      likeness...fully able to love and to be in perfect communion with Him and
                      all of creation.

                      People are sinful and every church and parish that you find is going to have
                      its faults to be sure. Try not to let that discourage and frustrate you to
                      despair.

                      For me now that I have found Orthodoxy, the True Light, because God has
                      provided it where it could be found, I know that is where I have to be. I
                      can no longer settle for a reductionist, less than complete expression of
                      Christianity. I am utterly convinced on the head level and the heart level
                      that Orthodox Christianity is it. There is no other option.

                      My local Antiochian parish is full of people who are struggling together to
                      live faithfully in Christ and it is a beautiful thing. I look forward to
                      struggling with them and learning and changing and growing. I pray that you
                      will find a parish and people that you can struggle with and be challenged,
                      inspired and encouraged so that you can learn, change and grow to become the
                      unique, holy man God created you to be. You need Christ, His Sacraments,
                      His Word, His Saints, His Church...you need the whole package.

                      I am sure that there are people who have noticed the Light of Christ in you
                      already and it will continue to get brighter and brighter if you remain in
                      Him.
                      Jesus promised in John 14 or 15 that he would remain in us if we remain in
                      Him and that the way to remain in Him is to follow his commandment to love
                      one another. He is in us and we are in Him. You do love God and your
                      neighbor. Love more, ask Him to help you to love more and more and more!

                      Our last Sunday in the Lutheran church will be the 17th of June. Please
                      pray for us and for all of the people in the congregation that we are
                      leaving. That God will protect them and guide them. That God will send
                      them a new pastor who will not mislead them.

                      Christ is in our midst!

                      Peace be with you Andrew!

                      Love,
                      Laura






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                    • herrdave2_prime
                      (( You need Christ, His Sacraments, His Word, His Saints, His Church...you need the whole package.)) Also His saints and Church throughout all time. This comes
                      Message 10 of 17 , May 31, 2007
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                        (( You need Christ, His Sacraments,
                        His Word, His Saints, His Church...you need the whole package.))

                        Also His saints and Church throughout all time. This comes to mind when the icons are incensed.
                      • herrdave2_prime
                        (( You need Christ, His Sacraments, His Word, His Saints, His Church...you need the whole package.)) Also His saints and Church throughout all time. This comes
                        Message 11 of 17 , May 31, 2007
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                          (( You need Christ, His Sacraments,
                          His Word, His Saints, His Church...you need the whole package.))

                          Also His saints and Church throughout all time. This comes to mind when the icons are incensed.
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