Jump to content


Photo
- - - - -

The Anglican Communion


  • Please log in to reply
176 replies to this topic

#1 Mark Harrison

Mark Harrison

    Regular Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 116 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member

Posted 24 July 2006 - 11:45 PM

Over the course of the last 23 years since I came to the Orthodox Church from the Anglican Communion (ECUSA), I have had reasons to seriously consider the state of that communion and Orthodox relations with it. Some might see my views as 'sour grapes' but I think not. I have observed specific theological trends that form the basis of my views. I believe that the Anglican Communion poses a unique problem for Orthodox in terms of 'ecumenical' relations for a couple of reasons (and these are not in order of priroity): 1) It is a simple fact that Anglicans from the late 19th century through the 1950s were the closest friends Orthodox had in the West. Anglicans gave shelter to Orthodox in many situations, and still do provide a place for worship in some instances. Superficially, the poliity of the Anglican Communion is similar to that of the Orthodox Church, with administratively distinct, autocephalous churches joined together by common principles. 2) On the opposite side of the coin, Anglican theology has been called rightly 'the theology of imprecision,' as opposed to 'imprecise theology,' a reality that is absolutely alien to orthodoxia, diametrically opposed even. Anglicans pride themselves on their "Anglican Comprehensiveness, by which they strive to hold all manners of theology together. Following from this: 3) The so-called branch theory of Anglicanism, that suggests that the Anglican Communion, the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church are all equally branchdes of the One, Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church is likewise contrary to Orthodox ecclesiology and a source of confusion in Orthodox-Anglican relations.

It is important that Orthodox recognise and appreciate the hospitality shown by Anglicans. That is just common decency. This does not mean, however, that Orthodox should for a moment concede to Anglican Comprehensiveness or the Branch Theory. In 1976 the issue of the ordination of women further complicated matters, and most recently, in 2003 the Episcopal Church chose to 'consecrate' an openly gay man to the episcopal office, against the express advice, pleas, even of other constituent provinces of the Anglican Communion, giving rise to schism within the Communion. These moves were justified by Anglican Comprehensiveness, and are seen among Anlgicans, who uphold the branch theory, as enriching the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.

It goes without saying that fundamental Orthodox doctrine excludes the very notion of Anglican Comprehensiveness. The Holy Fathers, at all times, and our all of our hierarchs today, have sworn to uphold the one Orthodox Faith, which is not divided by personal experiences or feelings, or cultural experiences of the Gospel, or whatever. Likewise, by the same principle, the Church itself cannot be divided into varying doctrinal branches. 'There is one body and one Spirit…one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism…' (Eph. 4:4-6). The branch theory was rightly condemned as heresy by ROCOR in 1983, and I have yet to meet any Orthodox outside of ROCOR who would disagree with this particular point. For Orthodox, the criterion of the faith is Tradition. Tradition is not just custom, it is the very content of the Gospel, expressed and enshrined in Scriptures, Liturgy, Ikons, the Ecumenical Councils, and the Church Fathers, etc. It is the life of the Holy Spirit in the Church.

The practical problem that I see is that it has been the policy in most Orthodox jurisdictions to receive Anglicans and others by Chrismation, rather than Baptism. Various justifications are given for this, but they generally point back to the practise espoused in the canons of receiving different heretical groups by different means. It has been deemed that since Anglicans do believe in the Trinity, their Baptism is 'valid.' What is meant by this term is rather ambiguous, it seems to me, but what it comes down to is that, at the very least, there is something there to work with, and through Chrismation, the Holy Spirit can heal that which is infirm and complete that which is lacking.

It is time to challenge the presuppositions about Anglican baptism. One defence of the current policy among most Orthodox (I say current but it is already changing in some places) is the canonical epistle of St Basil the Great, in which he distinguishes between heretics and schismatics. Those who appeal to this epistle will say that Anglicans fall into the category of schismatics, not heretics. However true that may have been at one time, it is very questionable now. The revisionnism that has allowed the ordination both of women and of avowed homosexuals has distorted the very understanding of God as Trinity. Many feminist Anglicans refuse to address the Trinity as 'Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.' They opt instead for supposedly gender-neutral terms like 'creator, redeemer, sanctifier.' These terms are supposedly more inclusive, but they are, in fact, exclusive. They exclude the very language of Scripture itself, and they exclude the reality that gender, according to Scripture, is important. Hence, these revisionists, have done exactly what St Basil said heretics do: they pervert the doctrine of God. Therefore, the very basis on which those who have until now supported the reception of Anglicans by Chrismation, must now be applied to end that practise. If by that principle, previously Trinitarian Anglicans could be received by Chrismation only, that principle demands, not just allows, that modernist, revisionist Anglicans be received as un-baptised. At the recent General Convention of the Episcopal Church in the United States, there was a motion to reaffirm Christ as the unique Saviour, the Way, the Truth, and the Life. That motion failed in committee. It never even made it to the floor. Hence, there is not even a lowest-common-denominator by which the Episcopal Church can be seen as Christian, and no basis for accepting Episcopalian rites as having any substance whatsoever, based on the very rule of St Basil that has been used to support a 'recognition' of Anglican baptism.

However, in considering this, we are faced with another problem. The revisionism of ECUSA (the American Episcopal Church) has given rise to schism within the Anglican Communion. The Anglican provinces of the 'Gloal South,' that is Africa and parts of South America, are opposed to the Episcopalian views and have gone so far as to break communion (astonishing for Anglicans), and even further, to accept clergy into their jurisdictions without canonical release. They have been bold in the face of Episcopalian heresy. How then, do we relate to these Anglicans? Do we continue to accept them by Chrismation? Would it be an undue insult to lump them together with the Episcopalians by baptising the whole lot? Is there a basis for doing anything else? Sadly, while I don't wish to lump the whole lot together, sacramentally, I don't see that we have a choice. The simple fact is that the root cause of the revisionism in North America is Anglican Comprehensiveness. If anyone doubts that, let them read sermons, addresses, and articles by the revisionists and they will see repeated appeals to comprehensiveness. The principle of Anglican Comprehensiveness has not be repudiated by the Global South or any other Anglicans. While they may not have embraced the blatant anti-Trinitarian heresies, they still embrace the heretical principle of latitude in theology according to local, even personal reasoning and experience. While they may speak of the three legs of 'Scripture, tradition, and reason', they do not understand the same thing by the word Tradition. To them it is custom, and custom can be changed, and must change according to 'reason.' Likewise, the understanding of Scripture must be subject to 'reason.'

At the same time, the conservative Anglicans are without doubt people who are struggling as best as they can within their own context. They are sincere, if not orthodox, in their faith. It is my firm conviction that we should lend them every ounce of moral support that we honestly can. We shouldn't fudge on anything, of course, but whereever we can be supportive, we should. That is the least we can do to show respect to the fact that they have helped us in the past on numerous occasions. My immeidate suggestion is to do what the Moscow Patriarchate has already done: break off all diplomatic (ecumenical) relations with revisionist Anglicans. They are fruitless anyways. There is no basis for common discussion. If we are to continue to engage in ecumenical discussion and cooperation in humanitarian areas, as I believe we may, it should be with those with whom there is a basis for discussion. The Antiochian Archdiocese has already adopted this principle, as I understand, and has withdrawn from the NCC, but not from all ecumenical contacts. If this is combined with equally strong efforts to foster positive, honest, constructive relations with the conservative Anglicans, our message will be loud and clear. If we do not do this, will not our emphasis on the importance of orthodoxy seem rather hollow?

Finally, and this will be more difficult in the light of what I just said, I believe it is necessary to communicate to our own faithful (and to Anglicans) that we totally reject the branch theory and Anglican Comprehensiveness on principle. I have long thought that ROCOR's anathema of the branch theory was not only right, but necessary and should be more widely adopted. Sadly, because they proclaim their communion to be a branch of the One, HOly, Catholic and Apostolic Church, I see little choice but to specifically include Anglicanism in the anathemata on the Sunday of Orthodoxy (which means that I think we need to abandon the absurd practise of not actually pronouncing the anathemata, but reducing the service down to one tiny excerpt from the Synodikon of Orthodoxy). Other liberal Protestants don't identify themselves so strongly with the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, so there is less need to specifically address their situation, although a general anathema against liberal revisionism would be a good idea too. Another reason to single out Anglicanism is that there has been a lot of confusion on both sides about Orthodox 'recognition of Anglican Orders' and that kind of thing. At one time, Orthodox who had no access to Orthodox parishes, were advised to attend Anglican parishes. In some ill-advised cases, communion was understood to be permitted, whether or not it really was. St Raphael (Hawaweeny) came to regret his advice to his flock to turn to Anglicans under even limited conditions. The end result was a perception of a state of 'inter-communion' existing, and that perception has not entirely gone away. Under the present circumstances, it is important that it be thoroughly irradicated. I say this, not out of spite for anybody, but in the spirit in which the anathemata have always been understood; as means of protecting the faithful from confusion. In a world in which the evil one's greatest accomplishments are to convince everyone that he doesn't exist, and to reduce faith down to personal opinion that is culturally relative, it is important for Orthodox to state clearly and emphatically what the Church's faith is, and what it is not. The fathers never backed down from this, nor should we today. I have Episcopalian friends for whom I feel deeply because they are in great turmoil. It is not easy to just pack up and leave 'home,' no matter how right it is. We should be sympathetic, and above all, we must distinguish between the heretical institution and the conflicted individuals who do not adhere to the heresies being taught, and who want to do right but just don't know where to turn. Many disaffected Episcopalians will still believe that Anglicanism is right in general, even if ECUSA has gone off the deep end. Our only response can be an honest disagreement, which includes a clear statement of why we disagree, mixed with acceptance of the decison they make and support where we can honestly give it.

There is an old Latin saying (from Blessed Augustine?): in necesarias, unitas; in dubias, diversitas, in omnia, caritas - 'in what is necessary, unity; in what is open to doubt, diversity; in all things, charity.' Certainly proclaiming an anathema is a fearful thing and should not be undertaken lightly. It must not be motivated by anger, or fear, or malice, but only be love for the Truth. It must be directed to the avoidance of wrong teaching, and not toward the persecution of anybody. The last thing we need in this world is more 'holy war.' I do believe that in examining the Anglican situation we are talking about necesarias, not dubias, but still the rule must be caritas.

If I've held your attention, and you've read this far, I look forward to your comments.

#2 Alec Lowly

Alec Lowly

    Frequent Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 219 posts

Posted 25 July 2006 - 01:15 AM

Over the course of the last 23 years since I came to the Orthodox Church from the Anglican Communion (ECUSA), I have had reasons to seriously consider the state of that communion and Orthodox relations with it. Some might see my views as 'sour grapes' but I think not. I have observed specific theological trends that form the basis of my views. I believe that the Anglican Communion poses a unique problem for Orthodox in terms of 'ecumenical' relations for a couple of reasons (and these are not in order of priroity): 1) It is a simple fact that Anglicans from the late 19th century through the 1950s were the closest friends Orthodox had in the West. Anglicans gave shelter to Orthodox in many situations, and still do provide a place for worship in some instances. Superficially, the poliity of the Anglican Communion is similar to that of the Orthodox Church, with administratively distinct, autocephalous churches joined together by common principles. 2) On the opposite side of the coin, Anglican theology has been called rightly 'the theology of imprecision,' as opposed to 'imprecise theology,' a reality that is absolutely alien to orthodoxia, diametrically opposed even. Anglicans pride themselves on their "Anglican Comprehensiveness, by which they strive to hold all manners of theology together. Following from this: 3) The so-called branch theory of Anglicanism, that suggests that the Anglican Communion, the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church are all equally branchdes of the One, Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church is likewise contrary to Orthodox ecclesiology and a source of confusion in Orthodox-Anglican relations.

It is important that Orthodox recognise and appreciate the hospitality shown by Anglicans. That is just common decency. This does not mean, however, that Orthodox should for a moment concede to Anglican Comprehensiveness or the Branch Theory. In 1976 the issue of the ordination of women further complicated matters, and most recently, in 2003 the Episcopal Church chose to 'consecrate' an openly gay man to the episcopal office, against the express advice, pleas, even of other constituent provinces of the Anglican Communion, giving rise to schism within the Communion. These moves were justified by Anglican Comprehensiveness, and are seen among Anlgicans, who uphold the branch theory, as enriching the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.

It goes without saying that fundamental Orthodox doctrine excludes the very notion of Anglican Comprehensiveness. The Holy Fathers, at all times, and our all of our hierarchs today, have sworn to uphold the one Orthodox Faith, which is not divided by personal experiences or feelings, or cultural experiences of the Gospel, or whatever. Likewise, by the same principle, the Church itself cannot be divided into varying doctrinal branches. 'There is one body and one Spirit…one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism…' (Eph. 4:4-6). The branch theory was rightly condemned as heresy by ROCOR in 1983, and I have yet to meet any Orthodox outside of ROCOR who would disagree with this particular point. For Orthodox, the criterion of the faith is Tradition. Tradition is not just custom, it is the very content of the Gospel, expressed and enshrined in Scriptures, Liturgy, Ikons, the Ecumenical Councils, and the Church Fathers, etc. It is the life of the Holy Spirit in the Church.

The practical problem that I see is that it has been the policy in most Orthodox jurisdictions to receive Anglicans and others by Chrismation, rather than Baptism. Various justifications are given for this, but they generally point back to the practise espoused in the canons of receiving different heretical groups by different means. It has been deemed that since Anglicans do believe in the Trinity, their Baptism is 'valid.' What is meant by this term is rather ambiguous, it seems to me, but what it comes down to is that, at the very least, there is something there to work with, and through Chrismation, the Holy Spirit can heal that which is infirm and complete that which is lacking.

It is time to challenge the presuppositions about Anglican baptism. One defence of the current policy among most Orthodox (I say current but it is already changing in some places) is the canonical epistle of St Basil the Great, in which he distinguishes between heretics and schismatics. Those who appeal to this epistle will say that Anglicans fall into the category of schismatics, not heretics. However true that may have been at one time, it is very questionable now. The revisionnism that has allowed the ordination both of women and of avowed homosexuals has distorted the very understanding of God as Trinity. Many feminist Anglicans refuse to address the Trinity as 'Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.' They opt instead for supposedly gender-neutral terms like 'creator, redeemer, sanctifier.' These terms are supposedly more inclusive, but they are, in fact, exclusive. They exclude the very language of Scripture itself, and they exclude the reality that gender, according to Scripture, is important. Hence, these revisionists, have done exactly what St Basil said heretics do: they pervert the doctrine of God. Therefore, the very basis on which those who have until now supported the reception of Anglicans by Chrismation, must now be applied to end that practise. If by that principle, previously Trinitarian Anglicans could be received by Chrismation only, that principle demands, not just allows, that modernist, revisionist Anglicans be received as un-baptised. At the recent General Convention of the Episcopal Church in the United States, there was a motion to reaffirm Christ as the unique Saviour, the Way, the Truth, and the Life. That motion failed in committee. It never even made it to the floor. Hence, there is not even a lowest-common-denominator by which the Episcopal Church can be seen as Christian, and no basis for accepting Episcopalian rites as having any substance whatsoever, based on the very rule of St Basil that has been used to support a 'recognition' of Anglican baptism.

However, in considering this, we are faced with another problem. The revisionism of ECUSA (the American Episcopal Church) has given rise to schism within the Anglican Communion. The Anglican provinces of the 'Gloal South,' that is Africa and parts of South America, are opposed to the Episcopalian views and have gone so far as to break communion (astonishing for Anglicans), and even further, to accept clergy into their jurisdictions without canonical release. They have been bold in the face of Episcopalian heresy. How then, do we relate to these Anglicans? Do we continue to accept them by Chrismation? Would it be an undue insult to lump them together with the Episcopalians by baptising the whole lot? Is there a basis for doing anything else? Sadly, while I don't wish to lump the whole lot together, sacramentally, I don't see that we have a choice. The simple fact is that the root cause of the revisionism in North America is Anglican Comprehensiveness. If anyone doubts that, let them read sermons, addresses, and articles by the revisionists and they will see repeated appeals to comprehensiveness. The principle of Anglican Comprehensiveness has not be repudiated by the Global South or any other Anglicans. While they may not have embraced the blatant anti-Trinitarian heresies, they still embrace the heretical principle of latitude in theology according to local, even personal reasoning and experience. While they may speak of the three legs of 'Scripture, tradition, and reason', they do not understand the same thing by the word Tradition. To them it is custom, and custom can be changed, and must change according to 'reason.' Likewise, the understanding of Scripture must be subject to 'reason.'

At the same time, the conservative Anglicans are without doubt people who are struggling as best as they can within their own context. They are sincere, if not orthodox, in their faith. It is my firm conviction that we should lend them every ounce of moral support that we honestly can. We shouldn't fudge on anything, of course, but whereever we can be supportive, we should. That is the least we can do to show respect to the fact that they have helped us in the past on numerous occasions. My immeidate suggestion is to do what the Moscow Patriarchate has already done: break off all diplomatic (ecumenical) relations with revisionist Anglicans. They are fruitless anyways. There is no basis for common discussion. If we are to continue to engage in ecumenical discussion and cooperation in humanitarian areas, as I believe we may, it should be with those with whom there is a basis for discussion. The Antiochian Archdiocese has already adopted this principle, as I understand, and has withdrawn from the NCC, but not from all ecumenical contacts. If this is combined with equally strong efforts to foster positive, honest, constructive relations with the conservative Anglicans, our message will be loud and clear. If we do not do this, will not our emphasis on the importance of orthodoxy seem rather hollow?

Finally, and this will be more difficult in the light of what I just said, I believe it is necessary to communicate to our own faithful (and to Anglicans) that we totally reject the branch theory and Anglican Comprehensiveness on principle. I have long thought that ROCOR's anathema of the branch theory was not only right, but necessary and should be more widely adopted. Sadly, because they proclaim their communion to be a branch of the One, HOly, Catholic and Apostolic Church, I see little choice but to specifically include Anglicanism in the anathemata on the Sunday of Orthodoxy (which means that I think we need to abandon the absurd practise of not actually pronouncing the anathemata, but reducing the service down to one tiny excerpt from the Synodikon of Orthodoxy). Other liberal Protestants don't identify themselves so strongly with the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, so there is less need to specifically address their situation, although a general anathema against liberal revisionism would be a good idea too. Another reason to single out Anglicanism is that there has been a lot of confusion on both sides about Orthodox 'recognition of Anglican Orders' and that kind of thing. At one time, Orthodox who had no access to Orthodox parishes, were advised to attend Anglican parishes. In some ill-advised cases, communion was understood to be permitted, whether or not it really was. St Raphael (Hawaweeny) came to regret his advice to his flock to turn to Anglicans under even limited conditions. The end result was a perception of a state of 'inter-communion' existing, and that perception has not entirely gone away. Under the present circumstances, it is important that it be thoroughly irradicated. I say this, not out of spite for anybody, but in the spirit in which the anathemata have always been understood; as means of protecting the faithful from confusion. In a world in which the evil one's greatest accomplishments are to convince everyone that he doesn't exist, and to reduce faith down to personal opinion that is culturally relative, it is important for Orthodox to state clearly and emphatically what the Church's faith is, and what it is not. The fathers never backed down from this, nor should we today. I have Episcopalian friends for whom I feel deeply because they are in great turmoil. It is not easy to just pack up and leave 'home,' no matter how right it is. We should be sympathetic, and above all, we must distinguish between the heretical institution and the conflicted individuals who do not adhere to the heresies being taught, and who want to do right but just don't know where to turn. Many disaffected Episcopalians will still believe that Anglicanism is right in general, even if ECUSA has gone off the deep end. Our only response can be an honest disagreement, which includes a clear statement of why we disagree, mixed with acceptance of the decison they make and support where we can honestly give it.

There is an old Latin saying (from Blessed Augustine?): in necesarias, unitas; in dubias, diversitas, in omnia, caritas - 'in what is necessary, unity; in what is open to doubt, diversity; in all things, charity.' Certainly proclaiming an anathema is a fearful thing and should not be undertaken lightly. It must not be motivated by anger, or fear, or malice, but only be love for the Truth. It must be directed to the avoidance of wrong teaching, and not toward the persecution of anybody. The last thing we need in this world is more 'holy war.' I do believe that in examining the Anglican situation we are talking about necesarias, not dubias, but still the rule must be caritas.

If I've held your attention, and you've read this far, I look forward to your comments.


Dear Mr. Harrison,

In necessariis, unitas; in dubiis, libertas; in omnibus, caritas.

I agree with you, in the main, especially the resolute rejection of branch theory.

Concerning the reception of Anglicans into Orthodoxy, how would you address the circumstance that precisely those Anglicans most willing to make the change are those whose beliefs concerning the Trinity, and most all other core dogma, are basically orthodox? We receive these people by telling them that they're not really Christian and so need to be baptized?

Concerning the anathemata, well ... we have yet to arrive, it seems to me, at a place where all jurisdictions have endorsed, or are even willing to endorse, ROCOR's anathema, never mind proclaim anathemata of their own. What's to be done about this, I cannot say.

IC XC NIKA,
Alec Lowly

#3 Mark Harrison

Mark Harrison

    Regular Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 116 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member

Posted 25 July 2006 - 05:56 AM

Dear Mr. Harrison,

In necessariis, unitas; in dubiis, libertas; in omnibus, caritas.

I agree with you, in the main, especially the resolute rejection of branch theory.

Concerning the reception of Anglicans into Orthodoxy, how would you address the circumstance that precisely those Anglicans most willing to make the change are those whose beliefs concerning the Trinity, and most all other core dogma, are basically orthodox? We receive these people by telling them that they're not really Christian and so need to be baptized?

Concerning the anathemata, well ... we have yet to arrive, it seems to me, at a place where all jurisdictions have endorsed, or are even willing to endorse, ROCOR's anathema, never mind proclaim anathemata of their own. What's to be done about this, I cannot say.

IC XC NIKA,
Alec Lowly


Hi Alec,

First, thank you for the correction of my Latin. I was trying to remember the quote from twenty years ago. That'll learn me good!

Regarding your first question: I think the principle of oikonomia can be justified here. I remember reading, somewhere, (Metropolitan ANTONY (Khrapovitsky), or St BASIL?) that it would be wrong to lump some group they were dealing with in with pagans and the like. Certainly Arians were received without baptising them in spite of their heresy. Precisely because it would be the more orthodox Anglican who would be attracted to Orthodoxy, oikonomia might be justifiable - for a while.

As I have considered this question over the years, I have thought in terms of a relativley arbitrary year of demarcation: those born before that year might be received by Chrismation, while those born after that year would be baptised. The year I've always used in my own mind has been 1976 - the year of the infamous General Convention scorned even by the retired Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Michael Ramsey (the last truly great Abp of Canterbury, IMO). My logic has been that those born in or after 1976, have never known anything but a revisionist Episcopal Church and overall, revisionist Anglicanism. While some born before (like in 1970-1975) would be too young to really know the difference, they were at least born before revisionism totally took over. God can sort them out. My date is arbitrary, and one could argue for 1974, the year of the ordination of the Philadelphia Eleven, or even 1970, just because it's the beginning of a new decade and when the revisions of the BCP were really getting underway. The advantage there would be that people born before 1970 would at least have some faint possibility of knowing that severe changes had taken place.

I was born in 1961. I remember an Episcopal Church that was clearly different from the one I left. I have no doubt that my teachers then were sincere Christians. All of the truly faithful Anglicans (Episcopalians) I know now were already adults when I was a child. This is part of why I think this scheme could do justice to the situation. Those are the people, the ones born well before 1970 even, who would be inclined to come to Orthodoxy. Like I said, 1976 was an arbitrary and somewhat symbolic year to choose. It gives the benefit of the doubt to many who might be in a grey zone.

After 1976, however, everyone who was born into and grew up in the Episcopal Church has lived their entire lives under the influence of revisionism. There is no way around that. Even the children of one of my faithful Episcopalian friends (this friend is my mothers age, and her kids are half a generation younger than I), show the marked influence of revisionism. We cannot speak the same language as well as I do with their mother. In short, to them, the revisionist theology is normal, even normative.

This basic principle could be applied to other Anglicans as well, with different arbitrary dates. Anglicans from the province of Nigeria, for example, might have as their date, no date at all, or it might be a much more recent date, depending on how much feminist theology has crept into that province. I know the Anglican Church of Nigeria has been firm on the 39 Articles and the Lambeth Quadrilateral, which is a beginning, at least. In fact, I guess that in the back of my mind, the adherence to the Quadrilateral on the part of the province as a whole is a premise for considering (but not requiring) reception by oikonomia, since revisionism violates the Quadrilateral. Thus in Anglican provinces in which the Quadrilateral is still taken serious, there can be a basis for reception by Chrismation, while in provinces where it has been eroded, it would be necessary to go back to where it was still taken seriously and use that as the arbitrary date. I think that from a formal point of view, that happened in 1976 in ECUSA, even if it was already happening informally years before.

All of this assumes that we find the application of oikonomia to be warranted at all, in the case of any Anglicans, or any heterodox for that matter. This review of the Anglican situation I think is a special needs case, but not one that is isolated from the need to look at how we receive converts period. The OCA, following the Russian practise that was in place at least in the 19th century, if not all the way back to Peter I, receives Protestants by Chrismation as a general rule, though this is beginning to change. The MP follows this practise as well, but they are not even asking ROCOR to change their practise, which is the opposite - receiving by Baptism, with Chrismation being the exception to the rule. I have heard various things from the Greeks and Antiochians, which leads me to believe that change is happening there too. We need to re-think our policies here. The syncretistic nature of the WCC, run mostly by Protestants, demands that we do so. I'll go one step further and say that I think that once ROCOR and MP are reconciled, it will be high time to hold a pan-Orthodox council to seriously examine Western Christianity as a whole. For too long people have hidden behind the excuse that no ecumenical council has ever condemned Protestantism or Roman Catholicism. It shouldn't take an ecumenical council to name this or that group heretical if said group obviously adheres to heresies already condemned (as in the case of most Protestants who are ikonoclastic), but nevertheless, it would be helpful for us internally to seriously review Western sects and define what heresies we find in them, or don't find in them, if such is the case with any. Such a move, would be very 'anti-ecumenical,' of course, but that shouldn't be our priority. At the same time, such a review should not be undertaken with malice or an a priori intent to discredit. The sole motive must be the Truth of the Gospel: to rightly divide the Word of Truth for the sake of the welfare of the Orthodox faithful. This may also be a painstaking process, calling upon us to have varying practises with the various Protestant sects. Very likely, the Roman Catholics would have to be evaluated quite separately. No matter what the present situation, they do relate to a millennium of common history with us. In principle, they have hierarchy and a sacramental life, even if we adjudge it 'invalid' in the end as some do now. It seems most likely to me that they would fit in closer to the Monophysites. There is an objective common ground with them that does not exist with the Protestant world, and that must be recognised and taken into account.

Regarding the common adoption among all Orthodox of ROCOR's anathema, it might not actually be that difficult. For one thing, the MP has already accepted it in principle. As I said elsewhere, I know no Orthodox who would reject it. It might have to be amended slightly in the context of a pan-Orthodox council, just so that everybody feels they had a voice in it, before it could be adopted, but I don't think the basic principle is a problem. I SURE HOPE NOT! One way to make it go down well with some of the more staunch ecumenists might be to set it into a wider context, such as what I outlined above about a review of Western Christianity as a whole in the light of Tradition. As a whole, I think ecumenical fever is waning and ROCOR's anathema will find less and less resistance in the near future, even it its present form.

#4 Kosta

Kosta

    Very Frequent Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,517 posts

Posted 25 July 2006 - 08:18 AM

Due to modernism we have forgotten what the canons teach on reception of converts. This is because the priests have gotten "lazy". It is easier to chrismate and be done with it than to perform a baptism. So instead we paraphrase canon 7 of constantinople and canon 95 of the quinisext council leaving out much.

What our bishops do not want us to know, is that chrismation (only) for reception of converts into the Church was limited to those groups whose leaders were at one timed ordained bishops of the Church, but left to join/lead a heterodox/and or schismatic group. These groups had apostolic succession and also followed the same form (triple immersion & a trinitarian formula) The Aryans were recieved back into the church thru chrismation only. But the Eunomians were re-baptised, soley because they baptised using a single immersion.
St Basil taught that both triple immersion and a Trinitarian formula is the Tradition to be followed

Those groups claiming to be christian but never had ties with the Church, (those whose leaders had no apostolic succesion) were labeled as gnostics and had to be (re)baptised. Most heterodox groups except for the monophysites, assyrians and the RC fall under this category.
Canon 95 of Quinisext updated the canon from Constantinople and declared that nestorians and monophysites can be admitted to Holy Communion without baptism or chrismation, thru a renunciation of heresies and the heresiarchs who were behind them.
This is because both nestorians and monophysites had the same exact form, the same exact understanding of the Trinity (they accept the first 2 ecumenical councils) and their bishops had apostolic succession.

Bit dont take my word for it read the canons for yourself canon 7:
http://www.ccel.org/...tm#P4014_722138

And heres the link, scroll down to canon 95 (xcv):


http://www.fordham.e...sis/trullo.html

#5 Alec Lowly

Alec Lowly

    Frequent Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 219 posts

Posted 26 July 2006 - 12:31 AM

I'll go one step further and say that I think that once ROCOR and MP are reconciled, it will be high time to hold a pan-Orthodox council to seriously examine Western Christianity as a whole. For too long people have hidden behind the excuse that no ecumenical council has ever condemned Protestantism or Roman Catholicism. It shouldn't take an ecumenical council to name this or that group heretical if said group obviously adheres to heresies already condemned (as in the case of most Protestants who are ikonoclastic), but nevertheless, it would be helpful for us internally to seriously review Western sects and define what heresies we find in them, or don't find in them, if such is the case with any. Such a move, would be very 'anti-ecumenical,' of course, but that shouldn't be our priority. At the same time, such a review should not be undertaken with malice or an a priori intent to discredit. The sole motive must be the Truth of the Gospel: to rightly divide the Word of Truth for the sake of the welfare of the Orthodox faithful. This may also be a painstaking process, calling upon us to have varying practises with the various Protestant sects. Very likely, the Roman Catholics would have to be evaluated quite separately. No matter what the present situation, they do relate to a millennium of common history with us. In principle, they have hierarchy and a sacramental life, even if we adjudge it 'invalid' in the end as some do now. It seems most likely to me that they would fit in closer to the Monophysites. There is an objective common ground with them that does not exist with the Protestant world, and that must be recognised and taken into account.


Well, Mark, we see eye to eye on this. Such a pan-Orthodox council is long overdue. Its agenda ought to include, as well, the settling and good order of jurisdictional claims in all areas outside the traditional boundaries of the ancient patriarchates and the later-established patriarchal churches -- which just happens to be most of the planet.

Alec Lowly

#6 Mark Harrison

Mark Harrison

    Regular Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 116 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member

Posted 26 July 2006 - 12:41 AM

Well, Mark, we see eye to eye on this. Such a pan-Orthodox council is long overdue. Its agenda ought to include, as well, the settling and good order of jurisdictional claims in all areas outside the traditional boundaries of the ancient patriarchates and the later-established patriarchal churches -- which just happens to be most of the planet.

Alec Lowly


Oh, you mean deal with the EP's dubious interpretation of Canon 28 of Chalcedon? That should make for a very interesting synod. I can't wait to see that!

Yes, I am being rather sarcastic, but I do agree with you. The Sourozh situation is just another chapter in the long struggle between the Russian interpretation of Canon 28 and the EP's. Personally, I just can't comprehend where the EP is coming from. The Russian interpretation seems self-evidently correct to me.

This matter, however, would be best discussed in a thread of its own, and I do think it is worth discussion. I'd like to stick to the Anglicanism issue here, if any interest develops.

#7 Fr Raphael Vereshack

Fr Raphael Vereshack

    Moderator

  • Moderators
  • 4,420 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member
  • Verified Monastic Cleric

Posted 26 July 2006 - 12:54 AM

Oh, you mean deal with the EP's dubious interpretation of Canon 28 of Chalcedon? That should make for a very interesting synod. I can't wait to see that!

Yes, I am being rather sarcastic, but I do agree with you. The Sourozh situation is just another chapter in the long struggle between the Russian interpretation of Canon 28 and the EP's. Personally, I just can't comprehend where the EP is coming from. The Russian interpretation seems self-evidently correct to me.

This matter, however, would be best discussed in a thread of its own, and I do think it is worth discussion. I'd like to stick to the Anglicanism issue here, if any interest develops.


Yes- while discussing on this thread we should remain on the theme the title of this thread refers to.

In Christ- Fr Raphael (temporary moderator)

#8 Mark Harrison

Mark Harrison

    Regular Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 116 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member

Posted 26 July 2006 - 01:52 AM

Due to modernism we have forgotten what the canons teach on reception of converts. This is because the priests have gotten "lazy". It is easier to chrismate and be done with it than to perform a baptism. So instead we paraphrase canon 7 of constantinople and canon 95 of the quinisext council leaving out much.

What our bishops do not want us to know, is that chrismation (only) for reception of converts into the Church was limited to those groups whose leaders were at one timed ordained bishops of the Church, but left to join/lead a heterodox/and or schismatic group. These groups had apostolic succession and also followed the same form (triple immersion & a trinitarian formula) The Aryans were recieved back into the church thru chrismation only. But the Eunomians were re-baptised, soley because they baptised using a single immersion.
St Basil taught that both triple immersion and a Trinitarian formula is the Tradition to be followed
Those groups claiming to be christian but never had ties with the Church, (those whose leaders had no apostolic succesion) were labeled as gnostics and had to be (re)baptised. Most heterodox groups except for the monophysites, assyrians and the RC fall under this category.
Canon 95 of Quinisext updated the canon from Constantinople and declared that nestorians and monophysites can be admitted to Holy Communion without baptism or chrismation, thru a renunciation of heresies and the heresiarchs who were behind them.
This is because both nestorians and monophysites had the same exact form, the same exact understanding of the Trinity (they accept the first 2 ecumenical councils) and their bishops had apostolic succession.


I am sorry if I offend, but I think you are being too simplistic here. I am reasonably familiar with the canons to which you refer, but there is another historical precedent: the Russian Church, since long before the twentieth century and ecumenism, modernism, etc. crept in, has received converts from the Christian West by Chrismation for most Protestants and mere profession of faith (in some cases, at least) for Latin converts. This is not a product of modern laziness or ecumenism. Even ROCOR recognises that. It's a bit rich to be accusing our hierarchs of a cover-up in this matter when there is a lot more to the issue than you're admitting. It is equally rich to accuse all of our clergy of chrismating instead of baptising owing to laziness when they are bound to obey their bishops. What is more, I now know far more clergy who baptise as their normative practise, and they are not ROCOR priests either.

That being said, I believe that ROCOR is wise in not continuing that practise. Whatever its merits were in the past, our present day situation, I believe, demands a review at the very least, but most likely a reversion to having Baptism be the norm, even for those who were 'baptised' in Protestant sects. Roman Catholics, as you seem to agree yourself, are a bit different. There is there a definite connection to the Church, however defective we may see their rites due to their doctrinal innovations. By my own logic, I'd have to distinguish between Latins and Anglicans, for example. For all the bad things we can say about the Papacy, one good thing is that we know what Rome teaches, officially at least. If reconciliation were ever to become a real possibility, I think Orthodox should expect the Vatican to really clamp down on the numerous vocal, liberal heretics out there. Nevertheless, at present I do believe that it is within the spirit of the canons to receive Latins by Chrism at the most. The Vatican resolutely holds to the dogmas of all seven Ecumenical Councils. Ironically, it is the very issues addressed by those councils that are now fundamental problems in the Christian West.

Anglicans in particular have an insatiable appetite for things ancient and oriental. The problem is that it is a museum curiosity, not a humbly submissive desire to entire into the life expressed by things ancient and oriental. The Oxford Movement had potential to restore Anglicanism, or at least some sectors of Anglicanism, to Orthodoxy. The study of the fathers, and the re-familiarisation with the liturgical life of the East was sincere and it definitely had a profound effect on the consciousness of Oxford Anglicans. In spite of the people being tried in ecclesiastical court for being ritualists at one point, most of the ritualism of the Oxford Movement slowly became common place in Anglican parishes. So why didn't Oxford Anglicans become Orthodox, or at least Roman Catholic?

One did go to Rome: John Cardinal Newman. He was alone, however, in seeing that within Anglicanism, the Patristic and liturgical revival was just a museum exercise. Anglican Comprehensiveness, to which he bears witness, would never allow the Tracts to subplant the Thirty-Nine Articles, not to mention become the doctrinal norm of the Anglican Communion. At first the Oxford scholars were ridiculed and persecuted, but the principle of comprehensiveness won out and the Oxford Movement found its place along side the Evangelical or reformed wing of Anglicanism. Thus, in my own day, one cleric could refer to Our Lady as ever-virgin and another could call perpetual virginity medieval hogwash. There was no living continuity to inform the very ecclesial life and faith of the Anglican Communion. It was all like looking at the ancient Fathers through a telescope. If you happen to know the episode of the original Star Trek series called "The Squire of Gothos," it illustrates what my point very well. The 'squire' had created replicas of things on earth, which he had been observing from light years way, but none of them had substance: he had a fire that didn't put out heat, for example. Everything was a shadow of the reality because he didn't really have any personal knowledge of the reality - no living connection. Likewise, the Oxford Anglicans had no living connection to the Fathers or the ecclesial life in which the Fathers lived, so the best they could come up with were shadows, some more substantial than others because of their contact with Rome.

As a result, Anglicans in particular believe that if they have the proper forms they're fine. They (at least ECUSA) have added a paraphrase of "Blessed is the Kingdom…" to the beginning of their liturgy. They've added a post-baptismal anointing with oil to the Baptismal rite, and the kontakion for the departed and the Paschal troparion to their funeral office. Many are communing infants now. Their Eucharistic Prayer D is a redaction and paraphrase of the anaphora of St. Basil. To them, this makes the 1979 BCP much more 'catholic' than the 1928. Codswallop, I say! It's all form, with no substance. The Byzantine formulae and practises are all optional, first of all, nor do they ever use the original text; instead they paraphrase it to not offend anybody. Secondly, in the case of the post-baptismal anointing, the formula itself betrays their lack of understanding of Chrismation. It says, 'you are sealed with the Holy Spirit in baptism and marked as Christ's own forever.' Only Baptism is the real sacrament, as per the 39 Articles of Religion; what the anointing is, well, my broad church pastor told me when I was a teenager that nobody really knew! That was one of the big questions that was in the back of my mind when I first read Bishop KALLISTOS' book The Orthodox Church.

I learned a joke as an Episcopalian: The setting is Midnight Mass at St Patrick's Cathedral (RC) in NYC, back in the days of the Tridentine Latin Mass. As the acolyte is walking up the steps to the altar with the cruets of wine and water, he trips and drops the cruets, which shatter, spilling the wine and water. An attending cleric says quietly to another, 'They'll be doing that at St Mary the Virgin (High-Church Episcopal) for the next fifty years.'

In one Episcopal Church in San Diego, they used to have an 'Orthodox' liturgy every year on 6 August - the Transfiguration. They sang the Creed sans Filioque, they crossed themselves from right to left, they performed the offertory procession in the style of the Great Entrance, commemorating the Patriarch of Constantinople right along with the Abp of Canterbury, the Pope, the head of the ELCA, etc. They rented out an ikon from an art gallery. The clergy duly venerated it, the laity just stared at it admiringly as they walked by. They had priests playing deacons, and so forth. For all of their Orthodox trapping, it was abundantly clear that they had no idea what Orthodoxy is all about. It was all playing church.

This problem extends further. As I said earlier, the very issues addressed by the Seven Oecumenical Councils are being raised again as revisionists 're-think' everything, hoping to come up with a 'better' understanding. If one reads the feminist theology behind the ordination of women (e.g. in Newsweek, Feb 13, 1989), one will find blatant attacks on the doctrines on Trinitarian theology and Christology. At the Episcopalian cathedral they at least used to have (and I have seen this with my own eyes) a 'christa,' an 'ikon' of a female christ, depicted as crucified, with a dagger in her bosom with the American flag on the hilt, and at her feet a plaque that read: Nicaragua: Años - Muertos (Nicaragua: years - number of dead). It pretty much summed up all seven Oecumenical Councils in the form of a travesty. In the bookstore of General Theological Seminary (Episcopal), some 12 years ago, I found texts about examing the Pauline writings from a Gnostic perspective. I didn't find any other texts, even after asking an employee. Apparently, and I could be mistaken, of course, the Gnostic approach is now the norm there.

Yes, Anglicans do a lot of mimmicking, owing to their museum fascination with the past combined with their lack of real understanding. But they are not the only ones. Their claims that because they have the right forms they are part of the Church is what make me believe that we need to single them out in the anathemata. There is a much higher risk of confusion among uneducated, or mis-educated Orthodox. This doesn't mean that all other Protestants are just fine. This fascination with things ancient and oriental has spread as Protestant syncretism has flourished. According to one professor at SVS who came back from an ecumenical meeting, the head of the United Methodist Church had said that 50% of their ministers baptised using a formula other than the traditional Trinitarian formula! The United Methodists also used to have, and may still have, a bumber sticker advertising the Holy Spirit: 'catch the wave.' If there is any evidence of the damage done by Filioque, that's it. Last I heard, they were defending Filioque more than the Vatican!

The end result, is that I would agree in advocating making Baptism the normative means for receiving converts, reserving Chrismation mostly for Latins or non-Chalcedonians. But I don't see the situation as simplistically as you seem to. If we return to that practise, after centuries of a different practise, we must consider our reasons. My argument is that it is because the social conditions have reverted back to what they were when those canons were composed. We are once again surrounded by rampant paganism, and 'Christian' sects, that teach all sorts of heresies, and Gnosticism isn't the least of them. For this reason, not simply because the canons say so, there is now the same need to be especially careful about guarding the Faith as there was in ancient times. Whether or not it was a good idea, the practise of receiving Western converts did exist in imperial Russia, and it was not motivated by ecumenist capitulations. The Greeks, who at least part of the time, received even Latins by Baptism, did not repudiate the Russian practise as far as I know. Likewise, the MP and ROCOR have agreed that each will keep its own practise in this matter. Neither is seen as uncanoncial, or a product of laziness or extremism, or anything other than different, based on different perceptions of the situation at hand. Each sees the other as applying the Church's doctrinal and liturgical norms to their situation. This seems to me to be a very common sense arrangement. If only common sense were more common.

#9 Kosta

Kosta

    Very Frequent Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,517 posts

Posted 26 July 2006 - 05:54 AM

Dear Mark, Thank-you for your reply.
Before i get into my comments i would like to thank monachos.net. This is the only Orthodox Forum site ive been to where controversial Orthodox topics are discussed with people who have an awareness of them and do not sink to polemics.

You are right to say that in Russia , converts of protestant background are accepted by chrismation and RC by renunciation of heresy. I believe many times ROCOR also chrismates protestants but does not baptise them. (Not sure how they recieve RC) I read somewhere that Fr Seraphim Rose was accepted into Orthodoxy by ROCOR thru chrismation only but he lamented that he was not (re)baptised.
What i would like to know is if the russian practise sets forth "a precedence" or was it an anomaly to begin with. George Florovosky speaks of the 300 years of Latin captivity of the Russian Church. For uniformity i would like the most ancient canons (the ones i mentioned) to be the "norm".
As a hypothetical example, in 200 years from now an infant Orthodox Church somwhere in the diaspora, may look back at our times, here in america and use the confusion on this subject as evidence that exceptions have always been the norm on this issue. That the american Orthodox experience justifys variant interpretations on what is the understanding of heterodox baptism and for whom (re)baptism is reserved for. Unfortunately all it shows is the mass confusion. The current baptism issue on reception of converts (for me) doesnt demonstrate the laying of a foundation of "precedense " which future churches can use as part of apostolic Tradition. This is how i view the russian practises. Atleast 1 ecumenical council can help us in having a legitimate uniformity based on the Fathers.

Also i do not want you to think that i believe the bishops are covering things up. Its a matter of practicality and they have to shy away of mentioning certain parts of the canon to avoid controversy among their flocks. But i strongly believe that the Laity has a role in reminding bishops to not cross reasonable boundaries as well. The Laity involvement in preserving what was handed down to us without corruption is also an integral part of that same tradition.

#10 Fr Raphael Vereshack

Fr Raphael Vereshack

    Moderator

  • Moderators
  • 4,420 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member
  • Verified Monastic Cleric

Posted 26 July 2006 - 12:35 PM

Dear Mark, Thank-you for your reply.
Before i get into my comments i would like to thank monachos.net. This is the only Orthodox Forum site ive been to where controversial Orthodox topics are discussed with people who have an awareness of them and do not sink to polemics.

You are right to say that in Russia , converts of protestant background are accepted by chrismation and RC by renunciation of heresy. I believe many times ROCOR also chrismates protestants but does not baptise them. (Not sure how they recieve RC) I read somewhere that Fr Seraphim Rose was accepted into Orthodoxy by ROCOR thru chrismation only but he lamented that he was not (re)baptised.
What i would like to know is if the russian practise sets forth "a precedence" or was it an anomaly to begin with. George Florovosky speaks of the 300 years of Latin captivity of the Russian Church. For uniformity i would like the most ancient canons (the ones i mentioned) to be the "norm".
As a hypothetical example, in 200 years from now an infant Orthodox Church somwhere in the diaspora, may look back at our times, here in america and use the confusion on this subject as evidence that exceptions have always been the norm on this issue. That the american Orthodox experience justifys variant interpretations on what is the understanding of heterodox baptism and for whom (re)baptism is reserved for. Unfortunately all it shows is the mass confusion. The current baptism issue on reception of converts (for me) doesnt demonstrate the laying of a foundation of "precedense " which future churches can use as part of apostolic Tradition. This is how i view the russian practises. Atleast 1 ecumenical council can help us in having a legitimate uniformity based on the Fathers.

Also i do not want you to think that i believe the bishops are covering things up. Its a matter of practicality and they have to shy away of mentioning certain parts of the canon to avoid controversy among their flocks. But i strongly believe that the Laity has a role in reminding bishops to not cross reasonable boundaries as well. The Laity involvement in preserving what was handed down to us without corruption is also an integral part of that same tradition.


Wow! A fascinating discussion to say the least!

How to interpret past practice whether it was actually economia or unwarranted leniency is really a discussion I think of what it is proper to do now. There is an argument that the standard Russian way of receiving Christians though chrismation only dates only from the time of Peter the Great. Since his name is so often brought up in association with this the implication is that this was a conscious westernisation on his part imposed on the Church. There are so many parts to this argument that it is difficult to know for sure what the actual motivation was especially since we're talking about something that began (apparently) in the early 18th century.

One thing for sure however is that this way of receiving became standard through the next 200 years of common Russian practice. It certainly is part of the normal Book of Needs (Trebnik) where we find the services and rubrics for how to receive people into the Church. One would think that if this way of receiving without Baptism was really anathema somewhere within the Church there would have been resistance to this for example from the great Elders like those at Optina. And yet at least as far as I know this didn't occur.

I'm not sure that accepted practice of the past proves anything one way or the other. The evidence is certain that many different ways were used from baptism all the way to simple confession. What's not so simple is to interpret these different ways. One way that seems more fruitful is to look at the actual context, the when and why this particular way was used. Even here however we see variety as for example between St Basil the Great's inclination to use more strictness while he himself accepts that others of his time didn't.

What all of this shows I think is that there has indeed over the centuries been a variety of ways of receiving people. This doesn't mean however that the manner of reception is to be arbitrary or that all ways are of equal value. Rather it means that in each case or at different times and circumstances discernment is needed. The point of this is that no absolute standard is given us by the Church.

Even the more strict measure used recently by rocor I think bears this out. When official instructions went out to receive by baptism in no way was this done as a criticism of past practice which the Russian church used. Rather the instruction to Baptise was given to meet the changed modern circumstance in which the church found itself in. Thus beyond questions of whether Christians had been baptised in the name of the Trinity is the point of how close or far is the life of the denomination one was part of to that the Orthodox Church. And indeed one could ask how far one's personal life was from that of the Orthodox Church since a person can be Protestant or Catholic in name while not at all in practice.

This gets down to a discussion of what the relationship of the sacrament within the Church and ones way of life previous to the Church is actually supposed to be. Are the sacraments of Baptism or Chrismation supposed to cover everything regardless of the way one lived? Or is it more that the way one is received is supposed to be determined by the way of life of the person coming to the Church? One way seems to see the sacraments as being like a doctor who gives out one medicine as appropriate for all who come to him. While the other sees it as being like a doctor who must choose which medicine is appropriate for which condition.

In Christ- Fr Raphael

#11 Mark Harrison

Mark Harrison

    Regular Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 116 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member

Posted 26 July 2006 - 07:58 PM

Thank you, Fr Raphael. I think your thoughts sum up my own quite well, and you also bring in another factor that I had not: the personal life of the convert. I know of a man who was received from Roman Catholicism by Baptism in the OCA, with the blessing of the local hierarch. It was the conclusion of all involved that this man had not really been living a Christian life to that point, and therefore Baptism was the most appropriate route to take.

In this case, the norms about how converts in general are received were balanced with this man's particular life, and I think this points to the true understanding that St Basil had of the term oikonomia. We generally think of oikonomia as a 'dispensation' from the general rule, but that is rather one-sided. The term means 'household management' and implies 'good household management' or 'good pastoral practise.'

My favourite example is one of two teenage boys who are caught together in the same crime. The one is a repeat offender and insolent to boot, the other is a lost kid who let himself get caught up with the wrong crowd. He's never been in trouble before, even in school and his repentence is sincere. They both come before the judge. The judge hands down the maximum sentence to the first, and the minimum to the second. The norm of the law is the same, but the application is different, and in both cases, proper oikonomia is shown. Obviously the first kid just isn't getting the message. What is best for his soul, and for society, is a long stay in juvenile detention and a good work program while he's there. That's what he needs, and society needs to be protected from him until he gets his act together; therefore that is what oikonomia demands in his case. In the other boy's case, he's probably already suffered a lot of guilt and shame. His conscience is already punishing him. A punishment that includes making direct amends to the person vicitimised by his crime is probably the most medicinal solution in his case. Once again this is an exercise in oikonomia. What is important is that both are equally applications of the same principle of economy.

Now, going back to this case of the man being baptised, even though the OCA normally doesn't do that with RC converts, oikonomia said that the more appropriate course of action in this man's life was the stricter practise. It happened to have been what he requested anyway, and the local bishop agreed that in his case, the 'stricter' path was the appropriate one. That was, in my opinion, an excellent exercise of the principle of economy.

In the wider circle, I believe that our times have changed such that the 'stricter' practise going to be the more appropriate practise more and more, as I said before. My perception is that it should now the the norm, not the exception. Whatever the historical background is to the Russian practise, and however that may fit in the experience of the Russian Orthodox Church today, here in America at least, and in Western Europe too, the condition of society just doesn't seem to warrant this. Metropolitan KIRILL of Smolensk recently attended a conference called "Giving a Soul to Europe" recognising the de-Christianisation of Western Europe. In such a context, does reception by Chrismation seem to be the appropriate norm? Not to me, at least. I'd say that both the condition of the heterodox Christian institutions and of the individual people, are such that oikonomia would demand Baptism.

By the very same token, I could see how a faithful Anglican, raised in Nigeria with solid moral grounding, Trinitarian theology and Christology, could be received by Chrismation. The fact that the Nigerian province has broken communion with ECUSA suggests that there is still a firm Christian institution there, and a person who has been living a faithful life in that context is going to be very different from the person who has grown up as a nominal Christian in America or Western Europe. The Nigerian's life would suggest to me that reception by Chrismation is at least not inappropriate, that his Anglican baptism has had some substance to it; there is something there that can be healed and filled by the grace of the Holy Spirit in Chrismation. Of course, if the person wishes to be baptised, I'd not deny him.

When I set the arbitrary birth year of 1976, after which I'd receive all Anglicans, or at least all Episcopalians, by Baptism, I reckoned that those born after that year would have no hope of their baptisms having the kind of place in their own lives that would suggest that there was a 'suitable vessel' to be filled by the Holy Spirit. For one thing, the ECUSA as an institution had become blatantly heretical, even by the loosest standards. The result, however, is that there is no longer any genuine Christian formation. The aqueous rite of initiation is neither corresponds in itself to Orthodox Baptism in anyway, nor do its fruits correspond to genuine Christian life in the person who undergoes it. The person is left truly, 'an alien and a worldling.' The fact that he has been led to believe that he is part of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church with a very false understanding of what that means, only complicates the matter further. I'd figure that a person who approaches Orthodoxy from that background is going to be rather messed up: confused, conflicted, and in search of moral and spiritual grounding. Such a person needs the solid start of Orthodox Baptism. Such a person is really very much at the point of starting a whole new life, as drastic as a former drug-user who is serious about starting a new life after rehabilitation. This is very different from my own experience. I came on a matter of principle, because I had discovered that what I had always believed, even from my earliest childhood, was in fact Orthodoxy, not Anglicanism. I was affirming what was true in my Anglican past, while casting off what was not, but there was much that was true. There was a solid core of faith in God as Trinity, and in the God-Manhood of Jesus Christ, the Way, the Truth, the Life. My path also included a rejection of an insitution in which these very core doctrines were being challenged in favour of the True Church, where they were the unquestionable standard of faith. That was the Church I had always believed in. Yes, I had a few things to learn yet, a few prejudices to overcome, but in those few cases, I said to God, 'I fully trust that you have shown me your Church and that I there I will come to understand these little things.' I cannot conceive of a child raised in the Episcopal Church today having the formation that allow an experience like mine. Of course, miracles do happen. In the Anglican Church of Nigeria, I think it is still quite possible.

Father Raphael is quite correct in pointing out the individual aspects of this issue. The relationship of heterodox insitutions to the Church, their closeness or alienation to or from the Church, is certain an important factor, and it always has been a factor in determining the general rules about how people from those institutions; but the particular life of the person coming to the Church is also a factor, and perhaps even the most important factor in determining not whether oikonomia will be applied, but how it will be applied, because in every case it will be oikonomia.

MAH

#12 Fr Raphael Vereshack

Fr Raphael Vereshack

    Moderator

  • Moderators
  • 4,420 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member
  • Verified Monastic Cleric

Posted 27 July 2006 - 01:05 AM

The relationship of heterodox insitutions to the Church, their closeness or alienation to or from the Church, is certain an important factor, and it always has been a factor in determining the general rules about how people from those institutions; but the particular life of the person coming to the Church is also a factor, and perhaps even the most important factor in determining not whether oikonomia will be applied, but how it will be applied, because in every case it will be oikonomia.



Some may want to read the attached article on the Orthodox principle of economia. It is from a report read by Nun Vassa (Larin) in 2002.

In Christ- Fr Raphael

This will be an opportunity to see how the attachments work!

#13 Fr Raphael Vereshack

Fr Raphael Vereshack

    Moderator

  • Moderators
  • 4,420 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member
  • Verified Monastic Cleric

Posted 27 July 2006 - 01:10 AM

It doesn't seem my attempt at uploading an attachment worked.

#14 Father David Moser

Father David Moser

    Moderator

  • Moderators
  • 3,581 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member
  • Verified Cleric

Posted 27 July 2006 - 04:30 AM

I believe many times ROCOR also chrismates protestants but does not baptise them. (Not sure how they recieve RC)


Up until fairly recently - by that I mean in the 90's - ROCOR followed the practice of the pre-revolutionary Russian Church. That practice was a three tiered reception by 1) baptism and chrismation 2) chrismation and confession of faith or 3) confession of faith. Even the Tsaritsa Matryr Alexandra and her older sister the Grand-duchess Martyr Elizabeth were raised Lutheran (they were German princesses) and were recieved into Orthodoxy by Chrismation and confession of faith. You can read a discussion of the parameters of this practice at: www.fatheralexander2.org/booklets/english/reception_church_a_pagodin.htm

The Russian Church in Russia follows this practice to this day. ROCOR, sometime in the 90's (I think), issued an ukaze (proclamation) directing that all converts be received by baptism and chrismation without regard to their prior faith tradition. Exceptions were granted on a case by case basis by the ruling bishop of the diocese. (I have, btw, received people by all the above methods from time to time - all with episcopal blessing) There is no real move at present for ROCOR to abandon this practice.

Fr David Moser

#15 James M.

James M.

    Regular Poster

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 19 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member

Posted 08 August 2006 - 03:16 AM

As someone coming OUT of Anglicanism into Orthodoxy, I would have to agree with about 99% of your post. I guess I don't have a big deal with baptism and chrismation as opposed to simply chrismation. But then I'm flexible and not as off-put as many would be at being told they were formerly heterodox - even though God's call for them to leave seems a puzzle inside an enigma inside a riddle in this case.

Thus I wonder whether a blanket decision doesn't deny the circumstances and individuality of the person. But maybe there is a virtue in this as it may be easiest to simply treat all the same. And yes this is quibbling, yet would suggest that simply because contemporary period ECUSA has fallen where it has, doesn't mean EVERY baptism is false. Is it worth parsing everyone? I don't know. I do know that in 1965, things were simpler. And I wonder if even in Rome, emergency baptism can be performed in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost by even non-ordained persons and be recognized....I wonder if this desire to explicitly NOT recognize baptism is not giving in to albeit well-earned but nevertheless undue animus. There are those who I have known who made it this far into Orthodoxy and were turned off by failure to recognize their baptism as essentially telling them the error was in their Christianity rather than in their sacrament or the administering church.

Thus I guess I would find that if this last is the case, that exceptions for RC's seem to beg the question. I find much of the appeal in Orthodoxy is precisely the resistance to imbalance and animus seen among so many traditionalists....the emphasis on living in the Way and the Spirit rather than splitting hairs over the distinction between us and the folks we are thankful to be transformed from being (our former selves)....and it is this free-from Pharisee-likeness that I think I see more alive here in Orthodoxy than I can find in the other traditionalists - tradition with a heart.

That said, I do agree especially with the museum piece. And ditto for the Branch Theory: tried it...but it falls on the visible vs. invisible church notion.

FWIW, I was called out of ECUSA by the change of heart worked on me through the funeral of Pope John Paul II. It was clear at this point that one has to seek something closer to a relationship after his vision to be a real Christian. And I'm not sure "real" is the right word at all. But for me, this was seeking the relationship with God to parallel the sort I have with my wife: Full, Complete, Total, no holding back, no half measures, no "only this much and no more", full daily devotions, daily rituals - and this whole nine yards leads only to the Apostolic churches - Rome and Orthodoxy. This is real love, and I think what we hunger for when we find it. Pope John Paul was fortunate to have found it in a way that seemed transparently real, and alive. The Episcopal Church never taught me this in all my years....(Fact is, it no longer seems a teaching church)...but maybe my heart was simply hardened, too. Or maybe it wasn't questioned and led.

I spent a year in the Anglican Continuum, which is very anglocatholic and traditional. My priest called it a good detox for ECUSA. Fr. Evan (Greek Orthodox) called it still an island shipwreck rather than return. FWIW, the Continuing Anglicans rebaptise many protestants for precisely the same reason - as it is hardly ECUSA alone that uses the heretical rite. I never heard the 3-fold errors used in rituals...and I went to almost every service in my ECUSA parish - which otherwise was VERY liberal. But to the point, within the Continuing church, as time wore on, it became clear your museum comment was and still is spot-on. The saints, the Theotokos, the Seven Councils (Affirmation of St. Louis) - are all nominally "in"....but when I would question, it was clear the so called comprehensiveness comprehended it not. Parishoners were all over the landscape on their level of engagement, and the clergy take the Seven Councils only in terms of the doctrinal development and not the canons or other material ( out of my realm here, but in enough to see the difference). I think actually by accepting the saints - and BVM but without incorporating them, without giving them context but retaining the "museum" atmosphere, there is the sense that 1) there is room for future errors, and 2) people act adversely because they don't know what to make of it - and so leave with their pre-conceptions rightly or wrongly - still intact.
I began to want a statement of faith similar to the "I believe and I confess". The Nicene Creed is all well and good, same with the Apostles Creed (I have always felt strongly about the "Communion of Saints") but it is the St. Athanasius Creed that really spells out things - and seems sadly relinquished to the ashbin. In the year I spent with the Continuum, I never heard it. Did hear it recently on Trinity Sunday with the Antiochians. But the weekly recitation of "I Believe and I Confess" is great!

So I came not quite to Newman's conclusion in so many words, but to the conclusion that the more I talked to Anglocatholics the more I realized they were not home, and couldn't freely offer a home. There seemed not to be a future there. They were still decidedly Protestant in terms of a real unwillingness to submit to the Church, and yet their church wanted no part of them, or if they were in the Continuum, their church wanted in truth, to be seen as canonical and take the place of ECUSA - risking an unsecure future rather than seeking to join either Orthodoxy (as Peter Gilchrist did) or convert to Rome. And this backwards focus while standing still impairs their mission, and clarity of evangelical message.

All the same, I feel the Anglican church was a good beginner church: it doesn't ask too much, but then it doesn't give very much either. A sort of English austerity in a sense. The notion of maintaining two or three opposite perspectives in tension simply failed at the beginning and throughout Anglican history...typically leading to the stripping of altars, pilgrims, or blood. Nevertheless, I am happy to have been there...though the incessant change bothered me, .....increasingly because it forced me to the conclusion through this experience that I needed another Church where the same infectious fevers wouldn't follow, and the faith as I learned it wasn't a stranger. I am not afraid of doctrine, of teaching, but I saw no point in fighting in a place that had already conceded so much the Nicene Creed had been voted out. In fairness, most Epsicopalians don't know this because we don't read the papers coming out of the Conventions. It was our view that Conventions were for the truly committed crazy political-church types more interested in power than worship. Probably not too far off, either. Most folks simply never dreamed the shepherds would become the wolves, changing the institution into something far less....I hesitate in charity to say.

I guess in the end, the struggle is to get us past baptism and chrismation to real change of heart, real commitment. I will admit to the distinction between this being made OUTSIDE the church, and that made INSIDE the church is a wonder to me - as it is the SAME change of heart - once inside. And as someone still outside at the moment, I frankly see it as - whatever you guys want. Not much canonical guidance or argument from me.

But there is a larger point that I think is worthy. The jurisdictional dilemma has led to different practices and in a sense a lack of clarity where it should exist: what is the ground level for entry into the church. Your suggestion the church needs to decide this....and not just for America, but for the reconversion of Europ....is spot on, IMHO.

So then how do you convert a nation that thinks of itself as Christian, when in fact it may be christian (small c) or nominalist in so many ways....how do you do this gently? And for me it is important. I'm NOT important and to me, the whole shebang approach has some cool features I'm not keen to miss, but others may take a dimmer view. (Yep. He wants to bring his wife. Uh huh. You got it.) So there's the sales job I don't know how to win except through patience. Because telling someone I know is much deeper in Christian spirit than I'll ever be that she is somehow nominally unacceptable because an accident of birth made her a Methodist Christian rather than an Orthodox Christian is a problem I'll need help from a lot of folks to figure: Prayer for one, intercession, for another. For the moment, though, I'm not sure she's interested, and I remain thankful that the present state of confusion means there's a shot and not having to go to too many lengths to get her home, too.

#16 Mark Harrison

Mark Harrison

    Regular Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 116 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member

Posted 08 August 2006 - 07:32 AM

Mr Mersereau,

First, before I forget, might I ask the name of the Fr Evan to whom you referred? I know very few Greek clergy, but the name Evan rings a bell.

The path through Anglo-Catholicism has one definite plus: it makes you think. All of us who come to Orthodoxy via that path are forced to contend with the truth that the Anglo-Catholic movement seeks to proclaim, and the inherent contradiction between that movement and that truth on the one hand, and the rest of the Anglican Communion on the other.

What saddens me most as I look at ECUSA, and I believe it is happening in other parts of the Anglican Communion as well, is that the term "Anglo-Catholic" is being hijacked by the revisionists. 'Catholicity' is being revised to mean 'everything goes.' A parish can be quite high church and off in the Delta Quadrant (to use a Star Trek image - I hope you get it) theologically and morally. It has been reduced to matters of taste and form, not conviction. Perhaps this is a result of the fact that Oxford always was a museum science, not living Tradition. The Tradition had been lost. Now, the very parish in which I learned devotion to the Catholic Faith is a fraud - it is a den of homosexuality disguised as Anglo-Catholicism.

The problem with Anglican comprehensivness (is there only one?) is that it is ultimately a form of syncretism in which each individual draws his own line as to how far out he or she wants to go. One person may only pick and choose among Orthodox and Roman devotions and beliefs. Another person, however, may be willing to pick and choose among Jewish, Muslim and Buddhist practises and beliefs. Granted, the 'Anglo-Catholic' types are more likely to fall into the first category, but that is not at all certain. The principle of comprehensiveness - that is, syncretism - is still there. I rather suspect that well-trained Anlgo-Catholics will be highly offended by what I just said. 'Me, a syncretist?' one might ask. Unfortunately, by remaining in the Anglican Communion, a person is still opting for syncretism. An American who leaves ECUSA for the province of Nigeria is admittedly making some conscious effort to get away from syncretism, but the principle is not absent even in Nigeria. Nigeria was in communion with ECUSA all the way up until 2003, in spite of the blatant revisionism that supported the ordination of women. Nigeria is still in communion with Canterbury, when the Archbishop of Canterbury himself admits that the Church of England doesn't know what position to take on the sexuality issue.

Glory to God you found your way. Sadly, many will not. God not only does not compel us to choose the right, he seldom even sticks it under our noses to see if we'll bite. There is a lot of choice on our own part; rather, there are many choices - subtle ones, little ones that add up, and lead us to the point where our consciences compel us. Each step along the way we can turn aside. Anglo-Catholicism is far easier. It is a 'broad' path, one of very little resistance. As you said, it doesn't demand much. It is appealing to the senses and even to reason in many ways. I saw a web-site the other day that used that horrible term 'spikey' to refer to people who go in for incense, sanctus bells, processions, etc. I can't even find the words to describe how offensive that term is to me, or what exactly it suggests. In loose terms, it suggests that incense and rituals and so forth are (just) for those of a particular personality type; comewhat compulsive, dramatic, drawn to the stylish or the elegant. In many cases, this happens to coincide with the 'gay' image, True catholic (Orthodox) values and theology are completely shoved aside in favour of a new agenda that rationalises wordly values and thus accepts them.

Rationalisation is just part of the world around us. We all rationalise from time to time, but most of us are caught by our consciences, at least up until relatively recently. Now, rationalisation is not even seen for what it is: the mind trying to justify what cannot be justified. The end result is that people do accept the rationalisation as true and reasonable and, taking the bate, they bite the hook of a lie; then it's too late. Truth itself is reduced to being a matter of preference or taste and if someone else challenges that 'truth,' he or she is a bigot. Nevermind the fact that such a line of reasoning is a fundamental logical fallacy - ad hominem attack. As in all cases of rationalisation (think of an addict, for example), the person blocks out evidence that will refute the cherished belief.

I hardly think it is our responsibility to convert the world, and from what I read in Scripture (e.g. Apocalypse of St John), it's not even possible or how God knows things will work out anyway. Western Christendom somehow got the idea that preaching the Gospel to all nations means that we are responsible for saving all nations, a notion that led to all sorts of perversions from the Inquisition to Tele-evangelism. Our responsibility is to make the Kingdom of God available to all nations, and we do that best by living our own lives in a manner that is conformed to the Kingdom. St Seraphim of Sarov is famous for saying if we aquire peace, a thousand people around us will be saved. This is our duty, and it applies even with our spouses and parents and children. We cannot force them, we cannot 'save' them. I tried to ground my 16-year-old son when he refused to go to church. After three weeks he made it clear that he was ready to stay grounded. I couldn't beat him - and I certainly wouldn't have wanted to! He is a bright young man, who is now almost 20. We've had positive exchanges since then. God willing, he will return, but probably not until the path he is choosing proves to be a dead end; nor have his choices been the worst possible choices by any means. He has done much of which I can be, and am, very proud. I affirm and praise what I can, and when the opportunity arises, I suggest where his choices might not be to his own advantage and try to present an Orthodox perspective.

If I were you, I'd not worry about my wife, and even less about the world. If my take on the apocalyptic passages in Scripture is even close, the world IS going to go to hell in a handbasket. There's no way around it. I don't mean to say that you should be apathetic. Obviously I am not. I'm the one who raised the issue of what to do with Anglicans. Even in this raising this question, perhaps I have erred. I like to think that I was motivated by the examples of the Holy Fathers who sought diligently to rightly divide the word of truth for the sake of Orthodox and heretics alike. As of this moment, I still think it was the right thing to do, but perhaps I too need to remember that St Seraphim was right. Acquire peace, and by God's grace, a thousand around you will be saved, and great will your reward be in heaven; you will have been a faithful steward.

In Christ,

Mark Harrison

#17 Mark Harrison

Mark Harrison

    Regular Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 116 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member

Posted 08 August 2006 - 07:51 AM

There are those who I have known who made it this far into Orthodoxy and were turned off by failure to recognize their baptism as essentially telling them the error was in their Christianity rather than in their sacrament or the administering church.


I hope that a peripheral benefit of my scheme of using an arbitrary year like 1976 would be that those born before that time, who are old enough to have been formed in honest Christianity, would have the option of being received by Chrismation only. Those born after that year, who have only known revisionism, if they are coming to the Orthodox Church, I'd figure it would be because they know there is something really wrong and would readily accept Baptism. Perhaps I am wrong. Thanks be to God, all of this falls under the saving grace of oikonomia. May He grant our hierarchs and priests the wisdom of discernment.

MAH

#18 Father David Moser

Father David Moser

    Moderator

  • Moderators
  • 3,581 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member
  • Verified Cleric

Posted 08 August 2006 - 02:36 PM

I hardly think it is our responsibility to convert the world, a...Western Christendom somehow got the idea that preaching the Gospel to all nations means that we are responsible for saving all nations, a notion that led to all sorts of perversions from the Inquisition to Tele-evangelism. Our responsibility is to make the Kingdom of God available to all nations,


This is true - not one of us could convert even a stone - let alone a person - to Christ. It is not our task to convert anyone - let alone the whole world. That is the task of the Holy Spirit. It is our task to simply witness to the faith in and to the whole world. Leave the converting up to God. If you live your life before Christ so that those around you can see His light, then he will use your life in the hearts of those with whom you come into contact - many times in ways that you can't or never will see. That's what God does - the only person or whom you can work out salvation is yourself - so do that and trust the rest to the Holy Spirit.

Fr David Moser

#19 Father David Moser

Father David Moser

    Moderator

  • Moderators
  • 3,581 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member
  • Verified Cleric

Posted 08 August 2006 - 02:42 PM

...my scheme of using an arbitrary year like 1976 would be that those born before that time, who are old enough to have been formed in honest Christianity, would have the option of being received by Chrismation only. ...


This is an interesting thought, however, Orthodoxy is not a set of rules but a means of healing. Each and every exercise of economia is on a person by person basis - what is necessary for the healng of *this particular* soul. So while such a guideline might have some application, it still is not and cannot be a hard and fast "rule". Orthodoxy is a pastoral religion, dealing with each person as a person, not as a cog in the machine. There aren't "rules" about how to apply the exceptions to the rule because there can't be - it has to be left up to the discernment of the pastor and ultimately archpastor to see what is required in each case for the benefit of the person and for his salvation.

Fr David Moser

#20 Patrick Lee

Patrick Lee

    Regular Poster

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 64 posts

Posted 08 August 2006 - 04:56 PM

I am sorry if I offend,


I'm hard to offend with regard to the Episcopal Church, so don't worry about me :)


In one Episcopal Church in San Diego, they used to have an 'Orthodox' liturgy every year on 6 August - the Transfiguration. They sang the Creed sans Filioque, they crossed themselves from right to left, they performed the offertory procession in the style of the Great Entrance, commemorating the Patriarch of Constantinople right along with the Abp of Canterbury, the Pope, the head of the ELCA, etc. They rented out an ikon from an art gallery. The clergy duly venerated it, the laity just stared at it admiringly as they walked by. They had priests playing deacons, and so forth. For all of their Orthodox trapping, it was abundantly clear that they had no idea what Orthodoxy is all about. It was all playing church.


Do you recall which parish? I'm a recent convert from the diocese of San Diego, and within the last 15 years or so, I was unaware of this (not that I was necessarily familiar with what was going on throughout the diocese, which extends into Arizona). However, I'm just curious.

At any rate, there are at least a couple of points I would like to respond to in this thread:

The issue of how to apply oikonomia is definitely quite difficult given the current range of theologies which are acceptable within Anglicanism. I think Fr. Moser is correct in that it is ultimately a pastoral decision, but it might be useful to tighten up the "guidelines" if you will. In my case, our 4 children were all baptized in the '90's and the early part of this century. However, they were raised in one of the last AngloCatholic (or at least AngloCatholic-like) parishes in San Diego, and by Dad who was the parish Catechist. So, the transition to Orthodoxy was only painful in the sense of having to leave friends. We used to observe some (but not all, I grant you) of the Orthodox fasts, and the theology that the children learned at home was fairly Orthodox. I say fairly, because it is of course impossible to really learn Orthodox theology absent the liturgical/Church context. At any rate, the hardest theological point I needed to make, which involved an admission of my own intellectual dishonesty, was that the branch theory wasn't really valid. I think I knew that for years, as I always dreaded getting into ecclesiological discussions during our Catechumenate. However, to admit that would have required an immediate departure from the ECUSA, and I was just too afraid to do that. The upshot of all this, is that our Priest, per the guidance of our Bishop, chrismated all of us. I don't doubt the theological foundation of our children.

OTOH, their could be a lot of dubious baptisms out there that may ultimately come into Orthodoxy. I think at that point, however, those individuals would have come to a place where they might have their own doubts about their baptism and it would hardly be a stumbling block to them.

On another note, I think the statement about the Anglican fascination with Orthodoxy having a museum quality is correct, even if that quality was added without intention. I think the mere fact that Orthodox theology is hard to really comprehend absent the life of the Church, any study of Orthodox theology or liturgics is necessarily going to be somewhat empty unless undertaken within the life of the Church. I fancy myself having been very well educated about both topics, and yet now that we are Orthodox and have experienced, albeit for only a brief time now, Orthodox life and worship (especially Holy Week), I feel I have only recently come to the well. Many things make sense that I don't think I ever "got" before. The nature of the Church, the nature of our Salvation, all of that, while I'm still learning, seems so much more clear.

At any rate, just wanted to post some thoughts.




0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users