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"Two Stones"

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  • Christopher Orr
    I copy here some concerns raised on the Orthodox-Lutheran Dialogue list by a Lutheran pastor abroad: I like to see myself as sharing the Orthodox faith. But
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 26, 2007
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      I copy here some concerns raised on the Orthodox-Lutheran Dialogue list by a
      Lutheran pastor abroad:

      I like to see myself as sharing the Orthodox faith. But when all the major
      > issues have been worked through, tons of theological gravel has been
      > shovelled aside, sifted through, cleared away, I still hit a rock bottom
      > where I am unable to proceed. This rock bottom consists of two stones.
      > The first is my culture. I am a westerner, steeped in Western liturgy,
      > prayer, life. No matter how beautiful the Othodox liturgy is, it will never
      > be my liturgy. For me, it is the mass. I feel much
      > more at home in Orthodox theology than in Roman Catholic or Lutheran, but
      > I feel much more at home in a Roman Catholic or High Church Lutheran service
      > than in an Orthodox one. Beside the central Sunday service there are
      > countless other aspects of Christian life where I am just not at home in
      > Orthodoxy.
      > When people switch religion and become moslems or hindus, they usually
      > change their names to Mustafa or Ramaputra, start wearing Arab or Indian
      > clothes, re-furnish their homes in the style of their
      > religion. I have always felt that Christianity must transcend such things.
      > I do not wish to become Greek or Russian. And it's not just the outward
      > cultural esthetics, it spills over into theology, into what matters to me.
      > For a cradle Orthodox, the Theotokos is extremely important. For me, even if
      > I accept and profess every iota of Orthodox beliefs concerning the
      > Theotokos, I still find myself profoundly uninterested in these things. She
      > is a peripheral figure in my faith, sorry I cannot change that even if I
      > wanted to. And this is just one example out of several.
      > The second "stone" is those teachings and rules which - in my opinion -
      > lack all support in Bible, Fathers, Councils. When everything has been
      > clarified and worked through, there remains a number of Orthodox traditions
      > and ideas which you can only defend by referring to ecclesiology. As in "We
      > are the True Church. We have always done it this way. Therefore it is right.
      > The Church is infallible." Attempts are sometimes made to find biblical
      > references, quotes from Fathers &c, but they seem far-fetched. Maybe it is
      > just my culturally induced pattern of thinking which blocks me here. But I
      > am enough of a Lutheran to see that such inventions were exactly what
      > sparked Luther's revolt.
      > Orthodox pride themselves on not having added anything. Not having
      > changed. But you have. And it seems to me that you are clinging to certain
      > ideas much like the Romans cling to the dogmas concerning the Pope. As in
      > "It must be upheld because this is the string from which everything hangs."
      > Here I find things which are part of Orthodoxy - peripheral parts, but still
      > defended to the hilt - that I cannot believe.
      > I wrote this because I think there are plenty of Lutherans who have moved
      > in an Orthodox direction, but bounce back when they hit these ideas. The
      > idea of Mary having been a sort-of nun at the Temple is one of the more
      > obvious after-constructions. There are others. Ultimately, if you deal with
      > Lutherans, this is where the buck stops.


      What would an Orthodox response be to these "two stones"?


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