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Belief or sacraments: What makes a person Orthodox?


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#1 Ryan

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Posted 21 March 2009 - 02:08 PM

I don't have any particularly amazing comments on this topic, but I don't feel that it ought to be a big deal. Some Orthodox (like the Copts and Ethiopians/Eritreans) are big into it and some aren't.


Not to derail the thread, but please don't assume that everyone here agrees that the Copts and Ethiopians are Orthodox... they are, at best, schismatics.

#2 Robin Elizabeth

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Posted 17 April 2009 - 04:36 PM

Not to derail the thread, but please don't assume that everyone here agrees that the Copts and Ethiopians are Orthodox... they are, at best, schismatics.


In two different parishes that I've attended in two different jurisdictions (one OCA and the other Greek), Copts are allowed to participate in the liturgies because there was no Coptic church nearby. This includes taking communion. They're also allowed to use the Churches for a Coptic liturgy on the rare occasions when a Coptic priest was available. I'm sure that neither of those things would be allowed by either jurisdiction if the Coptics weren't Orthodox.

#3 Paul Cowan

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Posted 18 April 2009 - 01:20 AM

Have you heard the expression "kissing Cousin"? Relatively applies here.

Someone who is related but not closely and often times greeted with a kiss.

#4 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 20 April 2009 - 08:32 AM

Not to derail the thread, but please don't assume that everyone here agrees that the Copts and Ethiopians are Orthodox... they are, at best, schismatics.


At best, and perhaps at their worst, most are probably better followers of Christ than I am. As to their Orthodoxy, I look to my bishop for guidance there and not half-baked internet opinions.

Is is schismatics or semantics? Indeed, here are different views.

Regardless, due care and discretion is called for when thinking about "embellishing" Christ's icon. Modesty is the proper adornment for a Christian.

Or so it seems to this bear of little brain.

Herman the Pooh

#5 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 20 April 2009 - 01:36 PM

I used to know a number of Copts and I have met Pope Shenouda. Theological differences between them and us there are to be sure but I have never met in any other Christian community such warmth, gentleness, humility, spiritual depth and love as I have among Copts and I cannot call them heretics. They may not be in communion with us, but I feel sure they are in communion with God. I am confident they will not lose their reward. Much the same goes for the Ethiopians. Where else but in Egypt and Ethiopia do men still sit in caves with nothing but a Bible and chotki, and pray?

#6 Nina

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Posted 22 April 2009 - 02:49 PM

Christ is Risen!

It is hilarious because (although I know this thread) while skimming through the titles of newly updated threads, I read "Tomatoes and earrings" lol I guess I have consumed too much meat and my brain is telling me to eat more veggies. :) Anyway. I see more and more ink (or tattoos) and honestly I do not get used to it. I mean I am so imperfect myself and I am not trying to judge, however with all the messages I see inked permanently in bodies I feel sometime that a body is made into an advertisment billboard.

#7 Ryan

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Posted 23 April 2009 - 02:44 AM

In two different parishes that I've attended in two different jurisdictions (one OCA and the other Greek), Copts are allowed to participate in the liturgies because there was no Coptic church nearby. This includes taking communion. They're also allowed to use the Churches for a Coptic liturgy on the rare occasions when a Coptic priest was available. I'm sure that neither of those things would be allowed by either jurisdiction if the Coptics weren't Orthodox.


I'm sure there have been occasions where certain priests have given communion to Protestants or Roman Catholics... this does not make these groups Orthodox.

On occasion, Episcopal churches or other denominations allow Orthodox without their own church to hold services in their buildings... this does not mean the Episcopal Church is Orthodox.

Unless these Copts expressed an acceptance of Chalcedon and subsequent councils, it's at best premature to commune them. If, as many allege, their theology is indeed orthodox, separated from ours only by semantics, then their refusal to recognize the Council of Chalcedon, and their continued suggestion that we are crypto-Nestorians, renders them schismatic.

Edited by Ryan, 23 April 2009 - 03:29 AM.


#8 Robin Elizabeth

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Posted 26 April 2009 - 09:06 PM

"I'm sure there have been occasions where certain priests have given communion to Protestants or Roman Catholics... this does not make these groups Orthodox"

While that may be true for Catholics I fail to see why a Protestant would be allowed, or even want, Orthodox Communion. The whole concept of the True Presence of Christ in the Eucharist is both foreign and repugnant to most Protestants. But even if it does happen, it is one thing for a priest to do this on a rare and individual basis and a very different thing for it to be officially allowed by two different jurisdictions for two substantially sized groups of "schismatics" over a long period of time.

"On occasion, Episcopal churches or other denominations allow Orthodox without their own church to hold services in their buildings... this does not mean the Episcopal Church is Orthodox."

True, but since Episcopals don't believe that there is "one true Church" they obviously wouldn't have a big problem with renting/loaning out their sanctuary to other groups.

As for the true nature of the position of the Copts, I'll leave that to the more capable to decide.

#9 Kseniya M.

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Posted 27 April 2009 - 01:50 PM

While that may be true for Catholics I fail to see why a Protestant would be allowed, or even want, Orthodox Communion.


Because they don't believe what we believe about it. Many Protestants who have some form of communion do not understand why they are barred from our Eucharist, particularly if they subscribe to the vague "invisible church" ecclesiology that tells them we're all the same anyway.

-Kseniya

#10 D. W. Dickens

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Posted 27 April 2009 - 02:45 PM

I'm sure there have been occasions where certain priests have given communion to Protestants or Roman Catholics... this does not make these groups Orthodox.


If communion doesn't make someone Orthodox, I'm not sure what does. (I'm not speaking of groups, I'm speaking of people.)

Of course, this is why the chalice should be--if you'll excuse the term--jealously guarded.

#11 Eric Peterson

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Posted 27 April 2009 - 05:50 PM

Communion does not make people Orthodox. Baptism and Chrismation do. There are other, rare, instances when converts are received through other means, but these are exceptions and not rules, and are often opposed by many spiritual fathers and synods. Also, there's a lot more to Orthodoxy than just partaking of the sacraments. One must hold to Orthodox dogma, spirituality, phronema, and praxis.

#12 Robin Elizabeth

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Posted 27 April 2009 - 11:19 PM

Because they don't believe what we believe about it. Many Protestants who have some form of communion do not understand why they are barred from our Eucharist, particularly if they subscribe to the vague "invisible church" ecclesiology that tells them we're all the same anyway.

-Kseniya


True, but in the few cases where I've explained the Orthodox belief about our communion to Protestants I've been met with disgust (or totally disbelief).

#13 Ryan

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Posted 28 April 2009 - 01:22 AM

The bottom line, in my opinion, is that, if Pope Leo was a heretic, we are all heretics. If the Council of Chalcedon was Nestorian, we are Nestorians.

The non-Chalcedonians suggest that our current faith can be considered orthodox only because we have changed our interpretation of Chalcedon to match the orthodox understanding, after years of being in the grip of Nestorianism. That is why they say they accept the "faith" of Chalcedon (meaning our current interpretation of it) but not Chalcedon itself. If it were merely a question of semantics, there would be no problem in accepting the council. The fact is, they still consider the council to be Nestorianizing. I don't see how any Orthodox can accept such a premise, which insults countless saints.

Moreover, to accept that the non-Chalcedonians have been Orthodox all along, is to accept that there have been two Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Churches, in which case we have had the wrong Creed all along.

The hasty decisions of the Alexandrian and Antiochian Churches have ignored these issues and prove nothing with regards to the "orthodoxy" of the non-Chalcedonians.

#14 Kosta

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Posted 01 May 2009 - 01:19 AM

The bottom line, in my opinion, is that, if Pope Leo was a heretic, we are all heretics. If the Council of Chalcedon was Nestorian, we are Nestorians.

The non-Chalcedonians suggest that our current faith can be considered orthodox only because we have changed our interpretation of Chalcedon to match the orthodox understanding, after years of being in the grip of Nestorianism. That is why they say they accept the "faith" of Chalcedon (meaning our current interpretation of it) but not Chalcedon itself. If it were merely a question of semantics, there would be no problem in accepting the council. The fact is, they still consider the council to be Nestorianizing. I don't see how any Orthodox can accept such a premise, which insults countless saints.

Moreover, to accept that the non-Chalcedonians have been Orthodox all along, is to accept that there have been two Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Churches, in which case we have had the wrong Creed all along.

The hasty decisions of the Alexandrian and Antiochian Churches have ignored these issues and prove nothing with regards to the "orthodoxy" of the non-Chalcedonians.



I have to agree. Also while we believe in the 4 great councils, which if i remember correctly Pope Leo contrasted to the 4 gospels, The Copts believe the 4th council is orthodox only when paired with the 5th. We on the other hand believe it is the 3 and 4th councils which go hand in hand and explain the Tradition of the Church passed down.
The 5th council was to condemn some nestorians in order to reconcile those (copts) that had problems with Chacedon, but obviously it didnt work.

#15 Eric Peterson

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Posted 01 May 2009 - 04:49 AM

Indeed, there have been many councils all through the Imperial period aimed at reconciliation with the monophysites. They haven't worked--either because of the will of man or the will of God. Nowadays, some people want to throw out history, throw out the holy fathers, and reinterpret everything based on their own human reason and experience, paying no heed to divine revelation and the Holy Spirit Who enlightened the fathers. The truth of the matter is that the monophysites are just like us, except for their faith. Dogmatically, when it comes to Christology, filioque aside, we share more with the Roman Catholics than with the monophysites. And yet, there are fewer clamoring with such fervor to get together with them. If they accept the Orthodox confession of faith, wonderful! They will be welcomed home. But, tell me, when the Church, for 1500 years confessed the same, Chalcedonian faith to the exclusion of monophysites, was she wrong? And if she was wrong, what happened to Christ's Church? Where did she go?

#16 Owen Jones

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Posted 05 May 2009 - 01:23 PM

It is somewhat ironic to me that the Copts feel the same way about their excommunication in 451 as the Orthodox feel about their own excommunication in 1095. My personal view, for what it's worth, is that the Chalcedonian Definition was not just a theological statement, but it was born out of political and cultural conflicts. This does not negate its truth, but there is also a context to it that is political and cultural. So it seems to me that it is a worthy cause to seek reconciliation and communion, if it can be had, since the cultural and political considerations today are vastly different.

#17 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 05 May 2009 - 01:43 PM

Indeed, there have been many councils all through the Imperial period aimed at reconciliation with the monophysites. They haven't worked--either because of the will of man or the will of God. Nowadays, some people want to throw out history, throw out the holy fathers, and reinterpret everything based on their own human reason and experience, paying no heed to divine revelation and the Holy Spirit Who enlightened the fathers. The truth of the matter is that the monophysites are just like us, except for their faith.

Sorry, but I'm not so sure. Talk to many Copts and you will not hear a word of disagreement over matters of faith. I have.

Dogmatically, when it comes to Christology, filioque aside, we share more with the Roman Catholics than with the monophysites.

Well, duh, the Catholics and Orthodox never disagreed over the councils. However, things like infallibility, original sin, immaculate conceptions and supremacy are not exactly trivial, are they?

And yet, there are fewer clamoring with such fervor to get together with them.

Obviously we travel in different circles. But then "How good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity". Are we not allowed to desire and pray for reconciliation without compromise? I tend to believe such a thing IS possible without having to subject all Copts who have defended their faith in the face of unbelievable persecution for over a thousand years.

If they accept the Orthodox confession of faith, wonderful! They will be welcomed home.

Maybe they do and we simply refuse to realize it? Or perhaps there are too many elder brothers to resent the return home of the prodigal?

But, tell me, when the Church, for 1500 years confessed the same, Chalcedonian faith to the exclusion of monophysites, was she wrong? And if she was wrong, what happened to Christ's Church? Where did she go?

Perhaps nobody was wrong, perhaps there was merely some serious linguistic and cultural misunderstanding on both sides? Like that has never happened before.....

Just some little thoughts from a bear of little brain. Feel free to disregard if they offend.

Herman the Pooh

#18 Owen Jones

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Posted 05 May 2009 - 01:44 PM

I'm not advocating a particular position here, just trying to better understand the issues. Here is a statement from the "Patriarch of Alexandria." I have no idea who that actually is. It is interesting that St. John of Damascus rejects the soul/body analogy that is used here.

Here we'd like to raise an important question regarding the One Nature and the Two Natures:Do we not all admit that the nature which we call Human Natures contained before the unity two Natures: the soul and the body? yet, those who claim that there are two natures in Christ: a divine and a human, do not mention the two natures of manhood i.e. the soul and the body but consider them one.If we go into details we would find ourselves before three natures in Christ!!! the Divinity, the soul and the body, and each of them has its distinct entity and essence... Of course, this is unacceptable on both sides.When we accept the union of the soul and the body in one nature in Christ, and when we use the expression theologically, it becomes easier for us to use the expression “One Nature of Christ" or "One Nature of God, the Incarnate Logos".Just as we say that the human nature is one nature consisting of two elements or natures, we can also say about the Incarnate Logos, that He is one entity of two elements or natures.If the Divine nature is claimed to differ from the human nature,how then do they unite? The reply is that the nature of the soul is fundamentally different from the nature of the body, yet it is united with it in one nature, which is the human nature.Although man is formed of these two natures, we never say that He is two, but one person. All man's acts are attributed to this one nature and not to the soul alone or to the body alone. Thus when we want to say that a certain individual ate, or became hungry, or slept, or felt pain, we do not say that it is his body which ate, or became hungry,or got tired or slept or felt pain. All man's acts are attributed to him as a whole and not only to his body.Similarly, all the acts of Christ were attributed to Him as a whole and not to His Divine nature alone (independently)or to His human nature alone.This was explained by Leo in the Council of Chalcedon and we shall give further explanation to this point later on, God willing.The union of the soul and body is an intrinsic real union, a Hypostatic one. So is the union of the Divine nature of Christ with the human nature in the Virgin's womb. It is a Hypostatic union, self-essential and real and not a mere connection, then separation as Nestorus claimed.Though the example of the union of the soul and body in the human nature is inclusive, still it is incomplete as it does not explain how the soul departs the body by death nor how they reunite again in the resurrection.But as for the unity of the Divine and human natures of Christ, it is an inseparable union as the Divine nature never departed the human nature for one single moment nor for a twinkle of an eye.

[edit] G

#19 Fabio Lins

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Posted 05 May 2009 - 01:51 PM

Communion for Catholics and some of the Protestant churches is pretty much the norm here in Brazil.

Most of the parishes in capitals I have been not only do that but consider not doing it fanaticism and anti-Christian. Two baptisms are very common too, specially in Catholic-Orthodox couples.

As one priest put it to me "it is this or they will not baptize in the Orthodox church at all." And it's true. Many Orthodox in Brazil, specially among the cradle Orthodox, get so scandalized by the very idea that baptizing or communing in the Catholic church is some sort of impediment, that they promptly attribute this idea to the fanaticism or grumpiness of the priest.

Truth is that this practice is so rooted in communities that they do think it is Tradition. More than once I have heard from cradle Orthodox here that the distinguishing feature of Orthodoxy is precisely not having "these intolerances of the other churches".

Also, there is an "urban legend" that the Orthodox Church is the one you go, in case you have divorced and wants to marry again. This falls in the theme of "we do not have these intolerances of the other churches". So, even non-orthodox people are married in many orthodox parishes.

I don't know if they are chrismated or not, but, in my experience, once it happened that two roman catholic had been invited to be godparents to a child in baptism and were to be chrismated. I talked to them, very naïvely, about their conversion. They were absolutely shocked about the idea it meant a conversion.

As I explained that there were differences between the Catholic and the Orthodox church, the girl, a very pious Catholic, burst into tears at the very idea of leaving her religion for another. So, what happened was that the priest had simply "ommitted" the significance of Chrismation so he could write their names in a book.

I also know of a true convert whose priest then asked him to bring all his family for chrismation under the argument it is "just a blessing". He brought over 40 people. None of them wanted to convert and they still go and believe deeply and honestly in the Catholic church. In fact, none of them even suspect of the significance of the Chrismation. The said convert himself did not know about it until, when he commented about it to me, I told him that Chrismation is a means to enter the Church.

Another strange phenomenum here is the amazing number of cradle Orthodox, meaning they were born in Orthodox families, who lack some sacraments because they got it in the Catholic church and their priests tell them it is alright. I know of a couple who was baptized in the Catholic church although their families are Orthodox and to this day, despite they going only to the Orthodox parish, and commune there (no confessions here, if you remember a previous post of mine), and having got married in the Catholic church, to this day, they were not baptized or Chrismated.

To be honest, in my opinion, the fear of being confrontational, something strongly supported by Brazilian culture that does cultivate the idea that being confrontational is the final proof that you are the wrong side, together with the fact that the Catholic church is externally similar to the Orthodox, and with the typical cultural phenomena of immigrant collonies that want at the same time contact with homeland and be accepted and integrated in the new culture, has led to this situation. Also, I have seen many priests who were sent here because they were involved in some sort of scandal or misdoing in their original place. Apparently, Brazil is seen by hierarchs as a proper land of exile to punish priests. Sometimes even bishops who refuse to obey are sent here (this is not the case of any of the bishops in canonical jurisdictions, but if you look at some of the sects....). Add to that the haste that some previous bishops accepted "convert" priests from the Catholic church or from the infamous Brazilian Catholic Church, a syncretist group of priests who thought that popular folkloric catholicism was the proper national expression of the Church and separated from Rome, and you get a lot of priests who joined Orthodoxy just to get the status of being in a official and respected group but who stick to their old ways.

So you take a naturally anti-rules culture as the Brazilian, with no contact with Orthodox monasteries or educational institutions, in a land with a very similar big church, and one that is far better organized and conscious that it is its obligation to prevent the "schismatics" from growing or gaining roots, an opposition far greater than simply having a plethora of denominations and accusing pastors, and, to this flock, you send mainly the weakest and sometimes the most disobeying of the clergy...

And of course, those who do that accuse those who don't agree of fanaticism and bigotry. And thousands and thousands of Orthodox believe them because, well, they are the priests, so they trust God would not send a holy man to deceive them. And since these men do show a lot of concern for their communities at least in the secular aspects, and because these acts of "tolerance" are very easily interpreted as a proof that they love the people more than "church rules", things continue on this poor state of affairs.

Edited by Fabio Lins, 05 May 2009 - 02:22 PM.
spelling corrections, added a paragraph


#20 Kosta

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Posted 06 May 2009 - 05:43 AM

Fabio's point is a perfect example of the evils of Ecumenism. Faith has been rendered irrelevant. People ordained to the priesthood who attempt to expand their parishes thru any means. It is better for such parishes to die than the many souls they have put in peril. Next time i am in church i will pray for this.




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