I would have say that I still find myself mystified that any of the discussions here could be thought to be outside the remit of Patristic studies in recent times and apart from the EO/OO thread?
As has been stated clearly, St Isaac of Syria is a member of a communion considered heretical by my own Orthodox Church so that the idea of raising this matter is polemical is simply unbelievable. I could not even imagine such a view would be taken. I have also only quoted, as far as I can see, from +Hilarion and a Russian archpriest who has been published in SVOS' journal. So the idea that any of this discussion is polemical is also completely misplaced.
I would want to say that in all the time I have been Orthodox, sice 1994, I have always eschewed polemics, as the papers I have written and the websites I have supported and maintained clearly show.
As for the question about undermining faith? I must ask again, is this a forum for Patristic Studies, which may well undermine not faith but mere received opinion?
Is it really the case that the thread on St Isaac should have proceeded thus?
Q. Was St Isaac a Nestorian?
Q. Thank you.
How is that studying patristics?
It is suggested that EO would not ask such questions on an OO forum. Why not? There are many questions that an intelligent, thoughtful EO should ask. Questions like:
Q. In what way does the reception of Eutyches at Ephesus II not make the anti-Chalcedonians Eutychian?
Q. How is the distinction between the humanity and Divinity in Christ preserved if you reject the phrase 'in two natures'?
Q. How can the OO both condemn the Assyrian Church for Nestorianism while venerating one of her bishops as a saint?
These are all reasonable questions that intelligent and thoughtful OO should be able to answer without finding their faith shaken. Indeed they should be asking themselves these questions in any case.
I am disappointed, truly disappointed, that in a forum which has a reputation for scholarly content in fact all of these sorts of questions are obviously precluded in case the laity are shaken in their faith. I am not convinced that 'received opinions' are at all the same as the Tradition, and in many cases we all need to be shaken into thought at some time.
If the EO are not able or willing to answer these questions here then I am more convinced that they need asking elsewhere, and others must provide the answers. I could easily have become EO 12 years ago but in all honesty I do not think I could have remained Byzantine if it is not permitted to ask the sort of questions I am always asking of my own OO tradition, and find large numbers of other (more) intelligent OO people asking and answering.
Perhaps I had better just keep silence now and only contribute on threads that have no possible controversial content. Truly I am disappointed. The idea that questions are the same as polemics is really disheartening and makes me feel that if this view is widespread then there is no hope for real dialogue with the Byzantines.
This is the thread I think we need to be most careful of. As I said when I mentioned the problems we were getting into in this discussion there are times when a family or even parish needs to sit down & talk things out. The risk is of hurling personal accusations at each other. But if through discussion we can express the thinking behind the concerns we have then perhaps something of good can be achieved.
Anyway Peter- it seems we are both moving in the same circle because last night I actually thought of the same example as you bring up, to try to illustrate what I am getting at.
To be honest I would never go to the forum of another Faith except perhaps to gain some information about them. Why else be there? I'm not part of their church and have no first hand experience of their Faith. So it's not right of me to assume a teaching role about their Faith.
Am I there to challenge them about their Faith? Well, that's up to the conscience of each of us. But at least we need to be aware of what we're doing in this case.
But what of discussion? Especially in our case where talks have occurred, there is some sort of closeness of our churches, etc. there could be this sort of discussion. But the above still applies. Beyond reading, if I was on an OO forum, I am not a member of your church, I'm not sure of my interpretation of what I may have read or heard or even encountered in you.
But along with this if I go on an OO forum somehow I am in OO church space, a bit like a guest entering a parish. The space I am entering is not a neutral, 'intellectual' space. It is a church space.
So let's say I enter this OO forum and someone from among your laity asks about Dioscorus for example. Well you know what we EO may well think about him. The 'facts' are all out there easy for anyone to find even from among your own OO faithful.
So let's say one of your OO faithful reading some of this negative info on Disocorus comes away now with real doubt on his/her mind. On the OO forum they ask, "How can Dioscorus be considered a saint? Scholars who are not even Orthodox are saying such & such about him."
So here I am an EO priest on your OO forum reading question from your laity. What to do?
What I do is let one of you people answer the question. Why? Because I want you to strengthen the faith of your people, not weaken it. In an OO space I actually have no place answering this question in a negative way (actually I would probably answer it in a positive way even if an OO asked the question in my parish- or if I felt I couldn't in conscience give a positive answer I'd tell the person to speak with their priest). Actually I have no place answering this question in this context even though I possess the intellectual knowledge to engage in a discussion about it. Why?
Because I'm in a church space first. This doesn't preclude an intellectual discussion at all. But in a church space (I'm not sure why it wouldn't be this way even in the secular sphere for an Orthodox Christian but anyway...) intellectual discussions need to take place within the larger context of the Church. The purpose of these discussion needs keeping in mind.
So no I wouldn't offer an answer about Dioscorus to an inquiring OO faithful on an OO forum. Perhaps if after this question someone appeared that clearly wanted to discuss Disocorus in the OO-EO context. Maybe.
In Christ- Fr Raphael