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The Theotokos in the holy of holies?


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#41 Rick H.

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Posted 03 August 2010 - 04:50 PM

That's not what he's saying at all Herman. Read it again Pooh!

And, while a different topic, to be sure, this is a real conversation starter actually! I wish I had the patristic background to explore what is being said here. If I did, I'd start another thread on this very point. But, I guess that hasn't stopped me before . . . ;)

#42 Father David Moser

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Posted 03 August 2010 - 05:05 PM

Fundamentalism is an approach to faith that hangs everything on a presumed authority (as understood by the fundamentalists themselves) and restricts the use of reason to rationalizations supporting the authority’s inerrancy. With Protestant fundamentalists, the authority is the Bible; with Roman Catholic fundamentalists, it is the Pope; with Orthodox fundamentalists, it is the Tradition.


You left out a very important brand of "fundamentalist" - what I might call the humanistic fundamentalist, or perhaps even more precisely the academic fundamentalist whose authority is human reason. So you see the problem is not whether or not a person is or is not a "fundamentalist" because everyone is (by your definition) a "fundamentalist"; the question is, "What authority do you choose?" An Orthodox fundamentalist chooses the Holy Tradition of the Church as his authority and submits all else to that authority - but humanistic fundamentalist chooses human reason as his authority and submits all else to that authority. So in this discussion the question seems to boil down to which authority do you choose - the Tradition of the Church or human reason?

The deeper question though is whether or not it is possible to be an Orthodox Christian while choosing human reason as the ultimate authority?

Fr David Moser

Edited by Father David Moser, 03 August 2010 - 05:06 PM.
punctuation


#43 Andrew Prather

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Posted 03 August 2010 - 05:11 PM

These are not spindles but stars and the three stars that one sees on every icon of the Mother of God denote her ever-virginity (before, during and after the birth of Christ). I do not doubt that others can elaborate further.


Thank you for the correction. :/ Hmmm. I am pretty sure this is what my priest said in a Q&A section, or something I heard on Our Life in Christ on AFR, or something I read in the EOB's NT appendix's on the issue of Mary's ever-virginity. Perhaps - like usual - I misunderstood and I need to go back to the sources since I obviously misunderstood something somewhere.

#44 Evan

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Posted 03 August 2010 - 05:27 PM

I rather find the authority of the "institutional" Church appealing. If it's good enough for St. Constantine the Great to bend a knee to, it's good enough for me. I for one rejoice that the binding and loosing of my sinful self is done by an "institution" with real power and authority behind it.

In Christ,
Evan

Edited by Evan, 03 August 2010 - 06:06 PM.


#45 Ben Johnson

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Posted 03 August 2010 - 05:30 PM

General Pompey entered the Holy of Holies. Of course, he had an army behind him.

#46 Archimandrite Irenei

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Posted 03 August 2010 - 05:46 PM

Dear Father Patrick and others,

While I am grateful for your own thoughts being again made clear, I am going to have to reply to them directly. I apologise if what I am about to say seems either too direct or confrontational, but what you have written in your most recent post (#38 in this thread) finally goes to that place where the logic of this and your previous discussion (in the Protoevangelion thread) lead: into the realm of full non-Orthodoxy, and even anti-Orthodoxy; and it needs to be replied to as such.

In order to be clear, and lest anyone thinking I am being harsh without cause, the phrase that I identify as both unorthodox and anti-Orthodox is this:

We are all trying rationally to make sense of an unbelievable tradition.

The idea that the tradition of the Church – that is, the handing-down (Latin traditione) of truth and reality that she grants to the faithful – is unbelievable, i.e. cannot be believed, is simply not Orthodox, no matter how one may try to redefine Orthodoxy itself. It is hardly Christian at all, and seems nothing less than an affront to Christ’s own words, heard in the Gospel only a few weeks ago: when Peter begins to doubt, to fail to believe, even in the face of the great miracles wrought in his presence by Christ, the Lord Himself coaxes him: ‘you of little faith, why do you doubt?’ The tradition of our Church is not unbelievable; and to hear a member of the clergy openly say such a thing in a public discussion is a cause of scandal and shame.

The problem, Father Patrick, both here and in the previous thread, is that you do not believe the aspects being discussed; and because your struggle to believe them has found some reinforcement in the words or writings of a few others, you have wound up taking a position of hostility toward those who do. And this position, whether wittingly or otherwise, has caused you both to lash out with characterizations and claims vis-à-vis others that are either incorrect or simply defensive, as well as repeatedly fail—now over the course of many months—to engage with the responses made to your specific points on a reasoned, clear level.

In your most recent post, you try very hard to organize participants into two false groups: “Some of us just want to be Orthodox Christians; others insist that we must all be Orthodox fundamentalists.” This is an unhelpful statement, as you well know, because the first part means nothing, and the second is inaccurate. To ‘just be Orthodox Christians’ is open ended and vague; and since part of this whole discussion has hinged on precisely what people mean when they say ‘Orthodox’—i.e. how much of the tradition of the Church they are willing to relegate to metaphor and spiritual allegory and still call themselves Orthodox believers, and whether it is good or right or accurate that they should do so—it is a statement that attempts, with a slight feat of emotional pith, to side-step the whole discussion. This is simply political rabble rousing given Christian flavour.

The second half of the statement is inaccurate. It is an attempt to use immense and unpleasant brush-strokes to paint all those who are arguing a position with which you disagree, into a shade that you know very well has negative and unpleasant connotations. But what is even more troubling, is your attempt to do so in a way that simply ignores the actual points of discussion people have had with you in the previous thread. For example, you write:

Fundamentalism is an approach to faith that hangs everything on a presumed authority (as understood by the fundamentalists themselves) and restricts the use of reason to rationalizations supporting the authority’s inerrancy. … with Orthodox fundamentalists, it is the Tradition.

This was a point you made in the last discussion; however, the point was specifically responded to—namely, by several people showing, in different ways, that this kind of criticism would only have merit, in a discussion on the Theotokos and the Protoevangelion tradition, if people were simply accepting it with the kind of foolish blind-submission by which you try to characterize them. However, grounds for accepting it come in many other ways, which are experiential and personal, as well as intellectual (those discussed included the participation in the experiential dimension of liturgical memory; the intellectual cohesiveness of the festal cycle; etc.), none of which are ‘hanging everything on a presumed authority’. The kind of ‘fundamentalism’ against which you inveigh, simply isn’t the reality here; and rather than simply repeat the (false) characterization again and again, it might prove to be beneficial to you to engage with some of the points raised.

Let us be very clear on the immediate matter at hand. While you have characterized any views which support the position of the Church as ‘fundamentalist’ and ‘restricting the use of reason to rationalizations supporting the authority’s inerrancy’, what have you actually offered to support the reading you insist is an equally valid way of interpreting the matter? Your allegorizing reading has rested on:

  • An argument from silence: namely, that you are unwilling to accept anything as greatly authoritative which isn’t in widespread quotation in the early period; though several examples have been shown of key Christian doctrines that were not discussed or quoted in the early centuries, and even basic reason makes fairly well clear that an argument from silence is not an argument.
  • Lack of inclusion of the Protoevangelion in the New Testament canon grounding a spurious reading of its status as errant or false: the lack of its inclusion in the NT you interpret as a negative judgement on its reliability and historicity, despite the fact that such a characterization has been refuted in several ways—by showing concrete examples of Fathers who canonized the NT, also giving historical authority to other documents; as well as by showing ecclesiastical writers of that period and later, who continued to take this and other ‘apocryphal’ books as sources of historical truth. What its status as 'apocrypha' means to you, it clearly did not mean to the people who decided upon the canonical definition of the Scriptures, or their role in the Church.
  • Lack of any cohesive patristic grounding: By pulling together silence and a flawed view of ‘apocrypha’, you have attempted to make an argument against the text and the traditions to which it gives voice that you claim is perfectly consonant with the patristic heritage; however, you have failed to give a single example of any coherent testimony in the patristic era that supports your reading; and you have maintained it despite being shown, again and again, concrete examples in the patristic heritage which do clearly support the reading you wish to refute.
  • Usage of false and vague quotations: The only single kernels of support garnered from anything in the patristic era have been two quotations: the first was your quotation of ‘St Gelasius’, which you rather chided others for not taking seriously after you’d quoted it; however, this quotation is taken from a forged document, as is well known—and more than this, the document itself is a propagandist tract dealing to a great degree with limiting what texts one should and should not read along very biased and ideological lines. Yet you did not respond to either dimensions of the challenge to this text. Your second has been a single quotation from St Vincent, which is ambiguous. While you (quite aggressively, and exclusively) give it a negative reading (i.e. that he is speaking against the specific historical question), it has been shown that an objective reading of the text leaves it just what it is: ambiguous. It neither speaks for nor against, it simply allows for some things to be unsaid.

Unless I have failed to take into account something that you wrote on the matter, the above forms the substance of concrete support for the view you wish to put forward. Yet it is a view (a) grounded in an argument from silence, (b) based on a flawed interpretation of the term ‘apocrypha’, which can be proven quite easily not to be the interpretation employed by the fathers who defined the NT canon, © not only absent from but counter to the testimony of the patristic heritage, and (d) shored up by only two quotations, one taken from a forged text and the other forcing an ambiguous statement to be conclusive. Even a student in a rudimentary undergraduate course would see this as intellectually unfeasible, apart from anything else. Insistence upon it, once such deficiencies and errors have been shown, is either evidence of a failure to understand the facts to hand, or intentional manipulation.

I ask you to consider very carefully the aim of your own words, when you write, “Several posts on this thread give clear evidence of [fundamentalism] by their outright hostility to reason and insistence upon submission to authority.” The points raised in response to your claims have not been hostile to reason, but entirely reasoned and objective. The same has not been shown in response; and indeed, when most have been offered, they have simply been ignored in favour of making another claim. But insistence upon positions grounded in silence, forged counter to clear evidence and rational examination, speak to an ideological position more than a rational one; and this is really what we are seeing here—an ideological position (i.e. that you simply don’t believe this aspect of the Church’s teaching, as you have said) that forces reason and discussion to be held in second-place to the position you wish to uphold at any cost.

In responding to your reading, those who wish to cling to the Church’s teaching have not only the ability to show, by clear reason and evidence, the flaws in your points, above, but also a great deal of other testimony.

  • The heritage of a long patristic tradition, that in various ways has engaged with it, embraced it, and been shaped by it.
  • A liturgical cycle that is grounded in it, and which holds it as integral enough that it makes little sense without it.
  • The experiential nature of Orthodox worship which provides an encounter with and experience of it, allowing ‘first-hand’ exposure to the reality of the tradition.
  • An hymnography that is wholly in the embrace of it.
  • An iconographic tradition that is shaped by it.
  • The writings of deified saints who confirm and revel in it—something that Orthodoxy holds dear and true, though which is often challenged by some today, who find the idea of divinely inspired Fathers as unbelievable as other parts of the tradition.

The simple fact of the matter is that you can challenge, deny, or redefine any of these (e.g. by saying that hymnography is not meant to be literal, that the Fathers don’t know as much as we do, etc.), but nevertheless these dimensions of testimony do exist, and are extremely ancient. The only way to proffer your position is either to deny them or radically redefine them; because the position you seek to support must be argued against the longstanding heritage of the Church, and without any concrete support of its own. Its sole grounding is one of disbelief. One disbelieves what the Church says, and so everything – history, liturgics, hymnography, feasts, the writings of saints – must be held in submission to one’s disbelief.

This is ideological fundamentalism in its purest form. It is fundamentalist because, in your own words, it “hangs everything on a presumed authority and restricts the use of reason to rationalizations supporting the authority’s inerrancy”; but the ‘authority’ here is simply and solely the ideological position one has come to through one’s own personal belief—or, as is the case here, disbelief. And so the human tendency, when one sees that one has been found in an indefensible position, is to accuse others of their own indefensibility.

I am very sorry if all of this seems harsh. I would like it if unproductive words like ‘fundamentalist’ weren’t used at all; they tend to prevent constructive discussion, rather than support it. But once they are used, and especially when they are used intentionally to characterize another’s position—and that falsely—they need to be responded to. And the seriousness with which all this needs to be taken is shown up clearly in your recent post, Father. To characterize the traditions of the Church as ‘unbelievable’ is not Orthodox; but it is the predictable place to which this mindset leads, and so it is helpful to see how it actually does go there.

I will conclude my note here by quoting something I wrote in my post #152 in the Protoevangelion thread. It was true then when Orthodox belief was simply being challenged; it is all the more true now that it is being flat-out denied:

People today need to see that this is not the only way - that this is not the right way; and that the Church's true teaching has merit and substance, even in the face of accusations that it is 'simple' and naive. The genuine naïveté comes in the presumption that the musing of a keen intellect in this age, somehow sees spiritual truth more rightly than those of other ages, particularly when at every turn we are made more and more aware of the spiritual peril of our generation, of the scarcity of eldership. In point of fact, the insights and compelling views raised by this generation so often are easily shown up as incorrect - based on presuppositions, assumptions, arguments out of silence or suggested creative implications and the conviction that we simply know better today. Arguments are routinely made that need rather little careful response to be clearly disproven. And yet so deep can the belief become that one has found a more authentic reality than that expressed by the Church throughout the ages, that no amount of evidence to the contrary can sway this opinion. Again, there is tremendous peril here.

The Church's views on these matters are not naive. They are no less capable of detailed intellectual scrutiny and reasoning than those of so much contemporary scholarship - though often they require a different engagement of the intellect than that to which scholarship is today by and large content to limit itself. They insist that ascesis and liturgical experience are authentic means of discerning the truth, in addition to books and letters, texts and records. They insist that obedience - not a slavish, mindless acceptance without consideration, but the living and willing self-sacrifice of the will to the mind of Christ's Body - is a pre-requisite for knowledge that is other that selfish and self-defined. They insist on the primacy of liturgical and sacramental experience over the rational deliberation of documentary data, even as they also cherish documents and enshrine texts.

They are the way and the gateway to life, and they are precious precisely because they have for centuries and generations ensured man's authentic approach to God, despite his consistent attempts to re-create them in his own image. So we must stand up for them in love, with firmness, and ensure that they are not diminished in men's eyes today.

INXC, Hieromonk Irenei

#47 Alexander Vernet

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Posted 03 August 2010 - 06:59 PM

Dear Father Patrick and others,

The Church's views on these matters are not naive. They are no less capable of detailed intellectual scrutiny and reasoning than those of so much contemporary scholarship - though often they require a different engagement of the intellect than that to which scholarship is today by and large content to limit itself. They insist that ascesis and liturgical experience are authentic means of discerning the truth, in addition to books and letters, texts and records. They insist that obedience - not a slavish, mindless acceptance without consideration, but the living and willing self-sacrifice of the will to the mind of Christ's Body - is a pre-requisite for knowledge that is other that selfish and self-defined. They insist on the primacy of liturgical and sacramental experience over the rational deliberation of documentary data, even as they also cherish documents and enshrine texts.

They are the way and the gateway to life, and they are precious precisely because they have for centuries and generations ensured man's authentic approach to God, despite his consistent attempts to re-create them in his own image. So we must stand up for them in love, with firmness, and ensure that they are not diminished in men's eyes today.INXC, Hieromonk Irenei


Dear Hieromonk Irenei,

This is not a judgement, but I think you may have misunderstood what Fr. Patrick said. You are rightly insisting that the liturgical and sacramental experience takes primacy. I don't think Fr. Patrick denies this (Fr. Patrick is free to correct me on that if I am wrong). The question is primacy in what kind of knowledge? Also, your choice of words comes off as saying that Fr. Deacon Patrick is challenging the Church's teaching, when all he is doing is challenging the way that some people insist that we understand and approach the Church's teaching.


What I would object to and what I think he is objecting to is people who take the attitude behind sola scriptura and apply it to the Orthodox traditions (little t). I also think that the essence of Tradition as I have been given it, however, consists of Christ and our participation in His Life. People in this thread have inisted that this teaching, understood in its literal sense, is a doctrine - that the Church has deemed it essential to our salvation, and that Orthodox Christians that do not approach the hymnography with this understanding are in error.

I am not an expert on the PJ or the Fathers by any means. I have, however, gone to my spiritual father, who is an archpriest, to a professor which has been given authority by a bishop to preach and to teach on matters concerning the Church fathers and the holy scriptures, and I have gone to an Orthodox author who wrote an entire book on the life of the theotokos and is very well respected. None of them take the attitude which has been insisted upon in this thread, and for me, that is enough! My spiritual father, who is a very highly respected archpastor of the Church, certainly had no problem with me approaching the hymnography and tradition of the church, with regards to this particular subject, in the manner which has been fought somewhat aggressively on this thread.

I think that there is one main question here, which I would appreciate you stating clearly: Is the teaching that Mary physically grew up in the holy of holies, and fed by the angel gabriel, dogma/doctrine, or not?

I think that Fr. Patrick's assessement of the situation is spot on. I don't think his point was to address everyone in the thread who does believe the tradition in a literal manner, but was directed to those who are insisting that such an approach is the only acceptable Orthodox approach, and that those who do not take that approach to this particular teaching are putting their own self will in contradiction with the Church. It is this statement which carries, to the rest of us, an air of fundamentalism and a lack of charity (assuming, for example, that we either haven't read the hymns of the Church, or are just choosing to ignore them b/c we don't want to believe them).

To me, with regards to the underlying attitude, there doesn't seem to be a whole lot of difference between this, and those Christians who insist that we believe that the earth is 6,000 years old.

Acutally, there IS one big difference - the creation narrative is actually in the canon of scripture, while the PJ, regardless of the fact that it is considered to be more reliable than other books in the Apocrypha, say, the Gospel of Thomas is not!

The people that make these sorts of judgements about Holy Orthodoxy are passing judgements not just on those of us who have reservations about accepting this teaching as historical (in the way we understand history today) are also passing judgements on the bishops who appointed the people referenced so far. We are not bishops. And so, if I come on and say, hey, this Orthodox professor, who has been given authority by a bishop to teach, said so and so, the last thing that we should be doing, is judging that person's knowledge of holy orthodoxy or dedication thereto. It is wrong, and it is not our place.

#48 Ruth Sammons

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Posted 03 August 2010 - 07:04 PM

Always an interesting thread. Always get impassioned responses, sometimes sarcastic ones. Okay, we're fasting just now, maybe that adds to it.

My priest is an interesting person. Intelligent, holy, I have utmost regard for him. He has a simple delight (he uses the word "simple") in all the tradition and hymnography of the Church. He would look at this discussion, if he had the time to, and just smile, I imagine. He would not get impassioned or write a reply.

As I see it, our problem is that we have a faith built on a mystery - God becoming incarnate in a historical time so as to deliver us from death. We are told so much, enough for our faith, but not every last detail. There are always those who wish for more detail and in every generation there are those who will obligingly write books "filling in the blanks" for the insatiably curious public. Those who read them have special secret knowledge and everyone is happy except the bishops. They see people reading such things and note that in some cases it leads to gnosticism, in other cases makes people argumentative and hot under the collar. Bishop Gelasius in the 5th century made a list of books which were to be accepted as canonical, another list of writings which were of benefit to read, yet not to be thought of as scripture, and he also listed some books which were harmful to be read and should be hidden. The exact words: "The remaining writings which have been compiled or been recognised by heretics or schismatics the Catholic and Apostolic Roman Church does not in any way receive; of these we have thought it right to cite below a few which have been handed down and which are to be avoided by catholics:" The protoevangelium of James is among that list.

Well, the more the bishops try to suppress something, the more it will be copied and passed along. Popular piety is one thing and doctrine another. Hymnography is born out of popular piety.

This sort of hymnography accepted in simple joy does no harm. When it is argued about it does harm. When such things as hymnography are held jealously and given the same value as doctrine it does harm. The councils have spoken on all doctrine that is necessary. They have left room for mystery and humility and "I don't know".

Bishop Gelasius was an Orthodox bishop. His decree helped in the setting of the canon of scripture. As a careful Orthodox Christian I feel safe in accepting his view of the protoevangelium of St James and just leaving it alone. Doing this does not, I believe, make me less Orthodox than I would be otherwise. I am not saying I will stay there. maybe in old age I may develop the childlike simplicity of my priest. What I do not want to see developing in myself is harshness, sarcasm, or (yes) a spirit of fundamentalism on this issue. These things seem to be against Orthodoxy while giving the appearance of arguing for Orthodoxy. I have been delivered from that stuff; I don't want to go back and embrace it in the name of Orthodoxy.

#49 Kosta

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Posted 03 August 2010 - 09:08 PM

Always an interesting thread. Always get impassioned responses, sometimes sarcastic ones. Okay, we're fasting just now, maybe that adds to it.

As I see it, our problem is that we have a faith built on a mystery - God becoming incarnate in a historical time so as to deliver us from death. We are told so much, enough for our faith, but not every last detail. There are always those who wish for more detail and in every generation there are those who will obligingly write books "filling in the blanks" for the insatiably curious public. Those who read them have special secret knowledge and everyone is happy except the bishops. They see people reading such things and note that in some cases it leads to gnosticism, in other cases makes people argumentative and hot under the collar. Bishop Gelasius in the 5th century made a list of books which were to be accepted as canonical, another list of writings which were of benefit to read, yet not to be thought of as scripture, and he also listed some books which were harmful to be read and should be hidden. The exact words: "The remaining writings which have been compiled or been recognised by heretics or schismatics the Catholic and Apostolic Roman Church does not in any way receive; of these we have thought it right to cite below a few which have been handed down and which are to be avoided by catholics:" The protoevangelium of James is among that list.

Well, the more the bishops try to suppress something, the more it will be copied and passed along. Popular piety is one thing and doctrine another. Hymnography is born out of popular piety.


The canonical books are only the books that can be read publicly and openly in church. The books which are worthy to be read are also scripture but are not read in church, this second tier includes Revelation. Apocrypha are books that are rejected. I have wrote alittle about this on another thread on the canon.

Tradition is equal to scripture in Orthodoxy. The liturgical texts and canonical iconography is equal to scripture along with the dogmas of the ecumenical councils, which encompass the totality of the catholic faith. We pray what we believe, we believe what we pray. In order to know what Orthodox believe we must know what we worship.

Cyril of Jerusalem, Athanasios the Great, Gregory the Theologian are all adamant that apocrypha not be read. Mary entering the holy of holies is not taken from the PJ. It was a commonly accepted tradition. PJ simply included a tradition which was already commonly held by the 2nd century. In fact Origen also mentions a long lost gospel of Peter that also said the same things about Mary. There were many writings which tried to explain elements of the apostolic tradition.

In fact the church Father Hegesipus writing in 155 a.d. and considered a jewish convert with knowledge of hebrew wrote that James also had entered the holy of holies. While the holy of holies was offbase, many had entered into it regardless.

#50 Rebecca Gabl

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Posted 03 August 2010 - 09:22 PM

The way I've always heard it explained is that the high priest was moved by the Holy Spirit to take Mary into the Holy of Holies when she first entered the temple. It was sort of a symbolic/prophetic move. She then spent the majority of her time in the temple (not specifically the Holy of Holies).

I think it would be pertinent to ask: are there any references to this event apart from the PJ? Also, even if the PJ is historically questionable, that doesn't necessarily mean this story isn't true.

Edit: Never mind the question. Kosta just answered it.

#51 Rick H.

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Posted 03 August 2010 - 10:17 PM

What do you think Herman? A conversation starter after all? :0)

I think that Fr. Patrick's assessement of the situation is spot on.




Me too.

I don't think his point was to address everyone in the thread who does believe the tradition in a literal manner, but was directed to those who are insisting that such an approach is the only acceptable Orthodox approach, and that those who do not take that approach to this particular teaching are putting their own self will in contradiction with the Church. It is this statement which carries, to the rest of us, an air of fundamentalism and a lack of charity (assuming, for example, that we either haven't read the hymns of the Church, or are just choosing to ignore them b/c we don't want to believe them).



Let's call a spade a spade, this does not carry an air of fundamentalism it is fundamentalism in full bloom ready to sink it's teeth into all (viz. those who would fall prey to them and those who would disagree with them). And, I think the word fundamentalism is helpful for those of us who are aware of what it means and for those of us who have experienced it first hand.

In short, I would say let us not confuse tradition with groupthink. To do this is the most anti-Orthodox practice that I can imagine.

Each generation must learn Orthodoxy for themselves in many respects. Each generation must learn to experience the life of the Church, the Living Tradition of the Church for themselves. I will confess that I have a fear that this will be replaced by those who preach fundamentalism, or groupthink, or as some use the word solipsism.

Fundamentalism is not the friend of the one on the path to Salvation.

I'm too tired to make a good post . . . possibly I can switch gears here from fundamentalism to groupthink and do a little cutting and pasting instead on the subject of groupthink. See if any of this looks familiar?

In a groupthink situation, each member of the group attempts to conform his or her opinions to what they believe to be the consensus of the group.

Here are a number of antecedent conditions that would be likely to encourage groupthink. These include:

-- Insulation of the group
-- High group cohesiveness
-- Directive leadership
-- Homogeneity of members' social background and ideology
-- High stress from external threats with low hope of a better solution than the one offered by the leader(s)
Here are eight symptoms that are indicative of groupthink:

1.) Illusion of invulnerability
2.) Unquestioned belief in the inherent morality of the group
3.) Collective rationalization of group's decisions
4.) Shared stereotypes of outgroup, particularly opponents
5.) Self-censorship; members withhold criticisms
6.) Illusion of unanimity (see false consensus effect)
7.) Direct pressure on dissenters to conform
8.) Self-appointed "mindguards" protect the group from negative information

#52 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 03 August 2010 - 10:38 PM

This discussion started on a FUNDAMENTAL note--a question why should we accept ...

The question was answered and people got labeled "fundamentalists" for saying "because that is what the Church teaches".

Oh and "apocrypha" being rejected is a Protestant thing. Yes there are books that were rejected by the Church like the pseudo Gospel of Thomas. There are other writings, not explicitly part of the canon, that can still be considered canonical, like the PJ that are not "apocryphal" in that they are NOT "rejected". Such classifications are simply not helpful.

Herman the apocryphal Pooh

#53 Rick H.

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Posted 03 August 2010 - 10:51 PM

The question was answered and people got labeled "fundamentalists" for saying "because that is what the Church teaches".



I think there is a little more to it than this oh apocryphal one. ;)

#54 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 03 August 2010 - 11:25 PM

More and less to it actually. People stated why they believe, and a few people stated why we shouldn't believe, like because modern scholars think such things are not possible, and we really don't have to anyway. Fine and dandy, if a bit specious, but whatev'.

Nobody here said that not accepting the testimony of the PJ casts a person outside the Church, but some of the reasoning used to justify this not accepting seems, well, rather unorthodox and not well thought out. Fathers have been quoted, Tradition referred to, hymnody posted and the reply is 'well, we don't have to believe that." Fine. Don't believe it, but do it for real reasons, and not simply because you find it inconvenient. At least try to be open minded on the subject and be willing to consider what the ageless witness of the Church seems to be, rather than rely on the faulty logic of "arguments from silence" since absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence. Or questionable forged documents, or nebulous statements. Or because the PJ must be rejected because it is "apocryphal". Such faulty reasonings deserve to be called what they are if we are indeed calling spades, spades.

Jews didn't allow women in the Holy Place, therefore there is no way the Theotokos could have gone there. Women are not allowed on Mt. Athos, therefore no women must have been there during the aftermath of the failed 1770 Orlov Revolt, during the Greek War of Independence in 1821, and certainly no Jewish families during World War II, right?

But to say such things, to dare to believe such things, appears to be "fundamentalism". O bother.

Herman the fundamental Pooh

#55 Olga

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Posted 04 August 2010 - 03:41 AM

Alexander Vernet wrote:

We can take our definitions from many different sources. I am taking mine from an expert on the fathers and the scriptures, who has made a career out of teaching these subjects, including at Orthodox seminaries, and who is very, very knowledgeable in classical Greek. One thing which I think we can all agree on though, is that a distinguishing characteristic between Apocryphal and Canonical sources, is that we do not base doctrine on something from the Apocrypha.


This is patently false. Time after time, various forum members, clergy and laity alike, on this and other threads, have correctly shown that certain documents such as the Protoevangelion of James, the Gospel of Nicodemus, and the Death of Mary, have indeed provided much of what the Orthodox Church proclaims and espouses as Truth in her hymnography and iconography. Certain feasts of the Church simply would not exist if it were not for the testimony of these documents, and the iconographic portrayal of certain feasts, including the Resurrection of the Lord (also known as the Harrowing of Hades) simply would not exist in the form we know them.

To denigrate these writings is to denigrate the saints and Fathers who deemed them to be safe and reliable sources for the Church's hymnography and iconography. Such an attitude gives individual interpretation greater authority over that of the collective mind of the Church, an attitude which is alien to Orthodox practice.

What, I ask, goes through the minds of those who have said here that "not all hymnography is of equal value", or "You don't have to believe just as ...many others do on Monachos to be an Orthodox Christian", when they venerate an icon of the Entry into the Temple of the Mother of God, or of the Annunciation, of the Dormition of the Mother of God, or of the Harrowing of Hades? What goes through their minds on hearing (or, singing/chanting) the words of the hymnography of the feasts to the Mother of God, Holy Week, and Pascha?

Here is some food for thought from St John of Damascus, Church Father, hymnographer, and iconodule par excellence. While the following are the opening paragraphs to his seminal treatise In Defence of the Holy Images, there is much there which addresses the matters discussed in this, and related threads:

With the ever-present conviction of my own unworthiness, I ought to have kept silence and confessed my shortcomings before God, but all things are good at the right time. I see the Church which God founded on the Apostles and Prophets, its corner-stone being Christ His Son, tossed on an angry sea, beaten by rushing waves, shaken and troubled by the assaults of evil spirits. I see rents in the seamless robe of Christ, which impious men have sought to part asunder, and His body cut into pieces, that is, the word of God and the ancient tradition of the Church. Therefore I have judged it unreasonable to keep silence and to hold my tongue, bearing in mind the Scripture warning:--"If thou withdrawest thyself, my soul shall not delight in thee," (Heb. 10.38) and "If thou seest the sword coming and dost not warn thy brother, I shall require his blood at thy hand." (cf. Ez. 33.8) Fear, then, compelled me to speak; the truth was stronger than the majesty of kings. "I bore testimony to Thee before kings," I heard the royal David saying, "and I was not ashamed." (Ps. 119.46) No, I was the more incited to speak. The King's command is all powerful over his subjects. For few men have hitherto been found who, whilst recognising the power of the earthly king to come from above, have resisted his unlawful demands.

In the first place, grasping as a kind of pillar, or foundation, the teaching of the Church, which is our salvation, I have opened out its meaning, giving, as it were, the reins to a well caparisoned charger. For I look upon it as a great calamity that the Church, adorned with her great privileges and the holiest examples of saints in the past, should go back to the first rudiments, and fear where there is no fear. It is disastrous to suppose that the Church does not know God as He is, that she degenerates into idolatry, for if she declines from perfection in a single iota, it is as an enduring mark on a comely face, destroying by its unsightliness the beauty of the whole. A small thing is not small when it leads to something great, nor indeed is it a thing of no matter to give up the ancient tradition of the Church held by our forefathers, whose conduct we should observe, and whose faith we should imitate.

In the first place, then, before speaking to you, I beseech Almighty God, to whom all things lie open, who knows my small capacity and my genuine intention, to bless the words of my mouth, and to enable me to bridle my mind and direct it to Him, to walk in His presence straightly, not declining to a plausible right hand, nor knowing the left. Then I ask all God's people, the chosen ones of His royal priesthood, with the holy shepherd of Christ's orthodox flock, who represents in his own person Christ's priesthood, to receive my treatise with kindness. They must not dwell on my unworthiness, nor seek for eloquence, for I am only too conscious of my shortcomings. They must consider the thoughts themselves. The kingdom of heaven is not in word but in deed. Conquest is not my object. I raise a hand which is fighting for the truth--a willing hand under the divine guidance. Relying, then, upon substantial truth as my auxiliary, I will enter on my subject matter.


And this pearl, from the ever-memorable, and sorely-missed, Fr Averky of Jordanville:

The Church affirms to the world what She teaches and stands for, and condemns those who, on their own, have come up with various distortions of the Truth.

If one were to panic every time he heard about some new distortion, he could die of stress. Confirm yourself in your Faith by learning as much as you can every day, by reading the Holy Scriptures, the sayings of the Fathers, and the Lives of the Saints. From these three sources you will learn exactly what Orthodoxy teaches, and you will be given examples of those who lived for Christ and who defended the Truths of Orthodoxy, and were even willing to die for them. For the rest of your life you will study, and read, and learn. Of course, it is important to know what the distortions of men are, so that you can arm yourself and defend the truth of the Church. However, do not let this effect you emotionally, for it could in time become quite a temptation in and of itself. Move at a slow but steady pace, being moderate in all things, and all will go well. If you have doubts, of course you can ask, but first, take your question to God in prayer, seeking His wisdom and comfort, and you know, you will be surprised how the question will either be answered in some unexpected way, or will be seen as not being worth the bother. This is where true faith steps in, and the reliance upon God for everything. The Holy Spirit speaks to those who truly love God, filling their hearts and souls with Divine Knowledge.


There is nothing random or accidental in Orthodoxy. Everything is linked. Everything has a purpose.

Why do certain people here fight so hard to deny this?

Edited by Olga, 04 August 2010 - 07:07 AM.
correcting typos


#56 Kosta

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Posted 04 August 2010 - 06:15 AM

I guess those who are not fundamentalists are anglicans. Afterall why should one believe in a virgin birth or a ressurection of the dead since its such an unbelieveable tradition ? Just like Spong, christianity should be considered a pious myth only and everything interpreted as allegory.

#57 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 04 August 2010 - 09:58 AM

I guess those who are not fundamentalists are anglicans. Afterall why should one believe in a virgin birth or a ressurection of the dead since its such an unbelieveable tradition ? Just like Spong, christianity should be considered a pious myth only and everything interpreted as allegory.


One may certainly not understand a particular teaching, one may even initially reject a particular teaching, but that does not have to mean that person is no longer Orthodox and it is not our place to "cast them out". Again, that is why we have bishops, to maintain good order and (dare I say it?) discipline. People who do not accept the same things I do are Orthodox if their bishop who is Orthodox says so. Calling each other names is not helpful.

I might agree that there are paths that can lead to Anglicanism, which I define as a confession that seems to redefine itself every time it is challenged. But let's not go to extremes here. Some people do not want to believe that the Theotokos lived in the Holy of Holies. That is their choice and if their priest and bishop are OK with that then I don't have a problem. But I will still defend why I believe it is entirely possible, regardless if any individual Orthodox scholar says differently, no matter how educated, well-published or well-regarded. So was Origen in his day.

If a person does not accept the PJ, that does not make them an "anglican", or not Orthodox. An inability to accept the teachings of the Church is certainly going to make it hard for a person to be or continue to be Orthodox, however, that is simply not my call to make and I am very happy to leave it to the men with funny hats.

Herman the Pooh

#58 Rick H.

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Posted 04 August 2010 - 10:55 AM

Some people do not want to believe that the Theotokos lived in the Holy of Holies. That is their choice and if their priest and bishop are OK with that then I don't have a problem. But I will still defend why I believe it is entirely possible . . .

If a person does not accept the PJ, that does not make them . . . not Orthodox.


Good points all the way around Brother Bear! If someone tries to call you a name like "fundamentalist" or if someone wants to charge you as being a promoter of groupthink, they will have to come through me first!

Party On,
Rick :)

#59 Alexander Vernet

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Posted 04 August 2010 - 01:40 PM

Hey folks,

One thing I would like to challenge is the notion which seems to be held by some that the Holy of Holies in the 2nd temple was, basically, not the Holy of Holies, but simply an empty room, owing to the fact that the mishkan (the ark) was no longer there.

This is not consistent with Jewish tradition. In fact, it is recorded that certain high priests were dying in the 2nd temple period b/c they were not entering the Holy of Holies in a worthy manner.

Also, however, I don't think it is consistent with our own experience as Orthodox Christians ('it' being the idea that w/out the proper 'equipment', so to speak, that God does not reveal Himself in a unique way). If an object normally used, for example, on the altar during the Divine Liturgy, has gone missing, this doesn't mean that the liturgy is not the real liturgy.

#60 Father David Moser

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Posted 04 August 2010 - 02:20 PM

Hey folks,

One thing I would like to challenge is the notion which seems to be held by some that the Holy of Holies in the 2nd temple was, basically, not the Holy of Holies, but simply an empty room, owing to the fact that the mishkan (the ark) was no longer there.

This is not consistent with Jewish tradition. In fact, it is recorded that certain high priests were dying in the 2nd temple period b/c they were not entering the Holy of Holies in a worthy manner.


I'm not sure what your trying to say here. Are you challenging the idea that the Holy of Holies was simply and empty room, or that the ark of the covenant was not there. I don't know that anyone here has maintained hat the Holy of Holies was "simply and empty room. The ark of the covenant was indeed not there, that is historically accurate. The Holy of Holies remain a sacred space, even without the ark present, but it is a sacred space that is incomplete - like a clock without the mechanism to make it work. When the Theotokos was brought to the temple by her parents, the High Priest Zacharaiah, inspired by the Holy Spirit, saw that she was the true Ark and therefore her proper place was in the Holy of Holies. She belonged there, that was her place. She was brought to the Holy of Holies precisely because it was empty and because it was a holy place.

A side point here is to note that Fr Patrick mentioned a story that the Virgin escaped from adult supervision and toddled into the Holy of Holies by herself. No one, other than Fr Patrick, has even mentioned this story on this forum and no one is defending it as a point of doctrine. In fact, to adopt this story is to demote this homecoming of the Ark to the Temple as nothing more than a stupid kid trick. So it really is a red herring.

In the end, I think Fr Irenei's point that the issue is not the doctrine of the Church, but rather it is our own disbelief. "Lord I believe, help Thou my unbelief".

Fr David Moser




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