Do my impressions in this area reflect the poverty of my own experience in Orthodoxy, and not necessarily a lack in Orthodoxy itself? Yes! I'm sure you're right about that. I converted primarily for historical reasons, not spiritual. If anything, my wife and I have tried to fight to retain the zeal for Christ, prayer, evangelism and reading our Bibles that we used to have, because Orthodox nominalism is so stifling. In any case, I certainly need and want a great deal of improvement. Jesus knows that! But at the same time, to be fair, couldn't an evangelical turn that around, and simply say that the poverty of your own experiences in evangelicalism had more to do with you, and less to do with it?
At the end of the day, maybe the Holy Spirit is much more loving and gracious to those outside the Church, and who call upon Jesus, than we expect.
you're right, an evangelical could say that anything I found lacking in evangelicalism had more to do with me than with it. And the nominalism in Orthodoxy could be stifling, but that's always the danger with losing sight of the purpose of our Traditions. My protestant past didn't provide me with enough Traditions to hang my faith on to. It was all in my mind. And the way my mind works, every once in awhile, I lose it, and that causes me to despair.
Anyway - there is a good reason for all of our Traditions. I've often wondered why God gave the Israelites such details of how to worship Him. Was it just to keep the Israelites busy? According to my Protestant faith, once Jesus came, all that 'busy work' was no longer necessary. I was free, to do whatever I wanted and worship in any which way I pleased! The poor Israelites, all that work for nothing!
But is that really true? Does God really give us stuff to do that has no purpose? Does He Himself do anything that has no purpose other than to just kill the time while waiting for when it's all over and He can be free? From a Jewish family who is converting, I learned that our way of worship is very much identical to the Old Jewish ways. That was the most beautiful thing I'd heard in a long long time! Talk about history!
So what is the purpose of all these loads of Traditions that either gets too burdensome or else becomes an end in itself? I've been thinking about this a lot, and I wish I had the time to read stuff, but I'm guessing, there's a proper way to approach God, and that's what He taught the Israelites. And since God doesn't change, neither does the way we're supposed to approach His presence. The only changes that needed to be made to the old way of worship, was to add on all the parts to show how God had fulfilled all His promises, in Christ. And of course, to stop killing all those animals.
So, I'm guessing, since a lot of our Traditions are the same as the Jews, then, we too, are in the same dangers as they are - of becoming all bogged down in Traditions and forgetting that they're the way to get us close to God, and not an end in themselves. So, when we become hypocrits, we're exactly the same as the Pharisees; but when protestants are hypocrites, it's not such a big deal. At the same time, when we are able to keep focused, the results are much deeper, and more powerful than what happens in protestantism. However, God is merciful, and He is able to do powerful things in protesants too.
But ordinary people like myself, had no chance of experiencing such miracles in protestantism. I just dont' have the brain power or the discipline, to understand it all and self-hypnotise myself to such an extent that I never have doubts again, that I am loved, that my sins are all forgiven, and that I will be saved because Jesus died for me. It's so much easier to be Orthodox. I don't have to remember everything, because I'll hear it again next year. I don't have to understand everything, I just need to obey what I do understand. I know what to do with all my doubts and my sins... I can confess them, over and over and over again, till the day I die. And this, to me, is freedom, because these were the things that were weighing me down as a protestant, and I had no idea how to get rid of these burdens.
I have friends and family, who say they have experienced the same freedom that I describe, without having to become orthodox. I do not argue with them. How can I say that my freedom is different than theirs? I do not know. Only God knows. All I can say is, that I didn't have it before, and i have it now, although I haven't become more intelligent, or more spiritual, or more disciplined - and that makes Orthodoxy more real to me, more deeper to me, more meaningful to me, than all the protestantism in the world.
I'm sorry to hear that you've had to struggle to 'retain the zeal for Christ, prayer, evangelism and reading our Bibles that we used to have, because Orthodox nominalism is so stifling'. Don't look to others. Your spiritual life is between you and God, and theirs is between them and God. God won't ask me to list how the nominalism of someone else hindered my progress. He's only going to ask me what I've done with what I've been given. If we've been given the ability to not be nominal, then we better not be nominal! But we do not know what strengths and weaknesses others have been given.
Edited by Mary, 17 September 2009 - 01:45 AM.