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The knife of the Great Schism: did it cut both ways?


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#1 Matthew Thrift

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Posted 29 September 2010 - 10:36 PM

It seems there is an attitude within Orthodoxy that the Great Schism only affected the West; that it began to spiral out of control, to multiply its heresies and fragment into tens of thousands of denominations. Meanwhile, the East continued on, unscathed, as if nothing happened.

I'd like to pose some questions for discussion:

Is it possible that the Schism had an affect on the East that now defines it as much as it has defined the West? Prior to the Schism, the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church had a truly catholic and universal self-understanding, but in the centuries that followed, the Eastern Church began to equate itself with Byzantinism. Is it possible that, as a result of the Schism, the Eastern Orthodox Church was forced to view its part of the Universal Church, its unique contribution to Holy Tradition, as the whole of things? Is it possible that the Eastern Church, in Her limited scope and view of things, began to ascribe theological and symbolic importance to aspects of her liturgical and devotional life that then had the consequence of fostering a false self-understanding of what it truly meant to be "Orthodox" (i.e. being "Eastern" or "Byzantine")? If so, might this have an effect on the way Orthodoxy is presented to the Western world? In what ways might the Eastern Orthodox Church need to think carefully about how it self-identifies and the way it speaks about the varying aspects that make up her "life"?

Please discuss!

Edited by Matthew Thrift, 29 September 2010 - 11:28 PM.


#2 Guillermo M.L.

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Posted 29 September 2010 - 11:48 PM

Matthew, I agree with your impressions.

While I find a great treasure in Eastern Christian spirituality and the way the East sees and feels about many things, I find odd that self-sufficient feeling that comes attached with that spirituality. And while I cherish the Byzantine culture as bringing diversity and freshness to a mostly Latin RCC (through the Byzantine CC), I also find it odd that Orthodoxy has only a Byzantine cultural approach to offer. There isn't a Latin, Coptic or Maronite Church in communion with the Byzantine Orthodox, for example.

I don't think that the East continued as if nothing had happened. We can see that in many of the definitions espoused by Orthodoxy to define itself: many of those definitions are presented in contraposition to the West. IMHO, an impulse to difference itself from the West has shaped the East in many ways...

#3 Kosta

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Posted 30 September 2010 - 01:55 AM

There isnt a coptic precense but there is an Alexandrian heritage and an Alexandrian Orthodox Patriarchate, Copts are simply those alexandrians that rejected the 4th council. Within the greek patriarchate of Alexandria there are a few ethnic egyptian/arab parishes. Maronites are nothing but monothlete heretics, there entire history of being some seperate branch of antioch found by a 5th century monk named Maroun is pure fabrication. Chaldeans follow a soft version of nestorianism. There exists no apostolic church which is not 'byzantine' except for Rome.

#4 Matthew Thrift

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Posted 30 September 2010 - 02:26 AM

That's interesting Guillermo, the concept that much of the East has been defined by juxtaposing itself with the West. I wonder what implications that might have?

Your point was also interesting Kosta, that no Apostolic Church was anything other than Byzantine, besides Rome.

Also, there is now within the Orthodox Communion a fully authorized Latin rite that celebrates the Liturgy of St. Gregory.

These two points really add to the discussion!

#5 Guillermo M.L.

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Posted 30 September 2010 - 03:07 AM

Maronites are nothing but monothlete heretics, there entire history of being some seperate branch of antioch found by a 5th century monk named Maroun is pure fabrication.


Wow, that is a bold assertion, not to say harsh words! Could you please expand? I am not aware of what Orthodox think of Maronites.

That's interesting Guillermo, the concept that much of the East has been defined by juxtaposing itself with the West. I wonder what implications that might have?


IMHO, the implications include that the East defined itself in a poorer way than it could have. Also, many theological ideas that could not be incompatible with Eastern thought, or shed a different and complementary light on already visited subject themes, were dismissed right away on the account of being Western or being just "very much emphasized" by Westerners. It is somehow a way to limit the treasure the faithful may scavenge.

Also, there is now within the Orthodox Communion a fully authorized Latin rite that celebrates the Liturgy of St. Gregory.


Is this rite similar to the Tridentine or current RC mass, or is a Byzantine Divine Liturgy in Latin?

#6 Matthew Thrift

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Posted 30 September 2010 - 03:41 AM

I'd have to admit, I think you're partially correct on that. There does seem to be an anti-Western spirit in a lot of Orthodoxy.

As far as I know, the Rite of St. Gregory is simply the pre-Vatican II Mass of the 1960s, with a few adjustments to bring it in line with Orthodoxy.

#7 Kusanagi

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Posted 30 September 2010 - 08:13 AM

I'd have to admit, I think you're partially correct on that. There does seem to be an anti-Western spirit in a lot of Orthodoxy.


This is probably why St John Maximovitch worked so hard to get the Saints of the Pre Schism West to be acknowledged and added into the Orthodox calendar. For example tried to get the priests in Italy to commemorate local saints and to make local pilgrimages an annual event and wrote hymns specially for the local saints.

#8 John Konstantin

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Posted 30 September 2010 - 10:12 AM

many theological ideas that could not be incompatible with Eastern thought, or shed a different and complementary light on already visited subject themes, were dismissed right away on the account of being Western




They were not dismissed by Church for being Western, they were dismissed by Church for being in error. Error they continue to walk in and continue to sub-divide into. It is ultimately not a matter of East versus West but what one perceives to be Truth versus Untruth.

In XP,

JK

#9 Owen Jones

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Posted 30 September 2010 - 12:16 PM

I see a distinct effort among many over the past generation in America particularly but also in the last hundred years, beginning perhaps with St. Nicodemus of the Holy Mountain, to help people understand what the essence of Orthodoxy is apart from some "Byzantine" or "Eastern" identity. That effort has been very constructive, it's there for everyone to note, and it's ongoing in a very healthy way. In summary, it involves acquiring the "mind of the Fathers," in order to have the "mind of Christ." Most Greek priests coming out of seminary these days are very conscious of the fact that Orthodoxy is not an ethnic identity. There's nothing special about being "Eastern."

#10 Antonios

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Posted 30 September 2010 - 12:18 PM

If there seems to be an anti-west sentiment in Holy Orthodoxy, perhaps this is due to positions taken and actions done in the past. One can remember the Fourth Crusade and the armies of the pope sacking Constantinople. Such actions leave lasting impressions of course. For many, myself included, this atrocity is a DIRECT consequence of papal supremacy. By the fruits they shall be known. So the suspicions have lingered (as they should) as long as one wishes to lord it over the other and put themselves above all. For the humble will be exalted, and the proud shall be cast down.

#11 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 30 September 2010 - 12:43 PM

Once the bishop of Rome set out on his own, once Rome assumed supremecy, it left collegiality behind. After that came things that the Orthodox cannot abide, such as "development of doctrine" which in turn permitted all the other errors that Orthodoxy does not accept (or need).

It should be noted that the problems and issues predated (and followed) 1054 by a considerable margin, that year is merely a convenient marker. The relationship between Rome and her sisters ebbed and flowed up to the sack of Constantinople in 1204 when relations REALLY went south.

While I can certainly see that the Roman Church needs Orthodoxy, I just don't see what Orthodoxy is "missing" that Rome provides. Centralized authority? Nope, collegiality, for all its limitations, seems to be working, we manage to keep each other more or less in line at LEAST as well as Rome does her children. Spirituality? Rome looks to US to set the example!

After all the bluster about "sister churches" and "ancient wounds", and all, what, exactly, does "union" with Rome provide to the Orthodox Church? I mean, really?

Herman the wond'rin' Pooh

#12 Rick H.

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Posted 30 September 2010 - 01:02 PM

Good post Owen. No pretense there.

Herman, "really" . . . how about an "authentic catholicity" of the Church?

#13 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 30 September 2010 - 01:54 PM

Define "authentic catholicity" first.

Let's see, according to one general source:

cath·o·lic·i·ty (kth-ls-t)
n.
1. The condition or quality of being catholic; breadth or inclusiveness.
2. General application or acceptance; universality.
3. Catholicity Roman Catholicism.

1. seems a bit vague. How "inclusive" do we need to be? Does inclusiveness require acceptance or ignoring of theological error?
2. Again, a bit vague, but something we can work with if we can define "universality".

u·ni·ver·sal·i·ty (yn-vr-sl-t)
n. pl. u·ni·ver·sal·i·ties
1. The quality, fact, or condition of being universal.
2. Universal inclusiveness in scope or range, especially great or unbounded versatility of the mind.

Wow, that sounds like Orthodoxy to me right now, again, what, exactly are we missing?
3. (original definition of "catholicity" above) Well, that one could be a problem. If this is a requirement of "authentic" then we obviously have a circular argument, which I find is an issue with most of these discussions.

All we have is spinning wheels here, how about some traction? Really.

Herman the hard-drivin' Pooh

#14 Rick H.

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Posted 30 September 2010 - 02:04 PM

Herman,

By any chance have you had a bunch of coffee with extra sugar in it this morning? ;)

Authentic: (adjective) not false; geniune, real

#15 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 30 September 2010 - 02:07 PM

OK, fine. Now define what constitutes not false, genuine, real "catholicity". Or are we going to do like so many do in these discussions, simply ignore it?

I take my coffee pure and unadulterated, like I take my faith...

Herman the unadulterated Pooh

#16 Rick H.

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Posted 30 September 2010 - 02:34 PM

I take my coffee pure and unadulterated, like I take my faith...



:0) . . . Does your sense of humour have no end? :)

I don't really want to do the merry-go-round thing anymore Herman. It's so tiring and unproductive.

I do think that as Fr. Florovsky has said repeatedly, "the authentic catholicity of the Church must include both the West and the East," this *really* says it all. (we have a pretty good volley of 'reallys' going here).

I do not have the background to provide in Orthodox theology "the dimension of the Greek fathers necessary to the catholicity of the faith and the Church" and I don't just want to parrot what others have said today, so I guess it's back to the coffee for both of us.

I think the expression authentic catholicity is something that you either get or you don't get. This expression, authentic catholicity either brings peace to the reader, or a gnashing of the teeth to the reader, depending on what the reader believes and/or what the reader was taught.

And, maybe we don't have to just go back to sippin' on our coffee . . . did you read what Owen wrote yesterday? He wrote in another thread:

Another major obstacle I can think of to an Orthodox phronema is the modern tendency to place conception before perception.


Especially in this subject here, playing off this somewhat, I think it is both a modern and pre-modern tendency (in organized religion) to accept what one is taught, and form a preconceived view so that one's perception is so colored that there is no need for anything else other than more programming . . . and anything that is not concrete (with the exception of what is taught as being mystical) is viewed as evil.

'Most people' only know what they are taught Herman, I wonder if you would agree with this as simply as it is stated. Probably, for 'most people' depending on what they were taught this will determine how the "feel" about the expression authentic catholicity.

Does any of this make any sense? Think about what Owen says about conception before perception as it applies to how this expression authentic catholicity will be received by the one who reads it.

I actually have a cup of coffee in the other room getting cold while I type this.

PS To the person who just sent me negative feedback for asking Herman if he is drinking coffee with sugar, Herman and I are buds, so just keep that kind of correction to yourself in the future, it's *really* getting old.

#17 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 30 September 2010 - 02:43 PM

It seems there is an attitude within Orthodoxy that the Great Schism only affected the West; that it began to spiral out of control, to multiply its heresies and fragment into tens of thousands of denominations. Meanwhile, the East continued on, unscathed, as if nothing happened.

I'd like to pose some questions for discussion:

Is it possible that the Schism had an affect on the East that now defines it as much as it has defined the West? Prior to the Schism, the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church had a truly catholic and universal self-understanding, but in the centuries that followed, the Eastern Church began to equate itself with Byzantinism. Is it possible that, as a result of the Schism, the Eastern Orthodox Church was forced to view its part of the Universal Church, its unique contribution to Holy Tradition, as the whole of things? Is it possible that the Eastern Church, in Her limited scope and view of things, began to ascribe theological and symbolic importance to aspects of her liturgical and devotional life that then had the consequence of fostering a false self-understanding of what it truly meant to be "Orthodox" (i.e. being "Eastern" or "Byzantine")? If so, might this have an effect on the way Orthodoxy is presented to the Western world? In what ways might the Eastern Orthodox Church need to think carefully about how it self-identifies and the way it speaks about the varying aspects that make up her "life"?

Please discuss!


I think these are excellent questions. And they are questions that fall very much within the scope of the Forum so that this is not just a matter of an Orthodox vs 'the others' debate. Rather these questions relate to the Patristic understanding of the nature of the Church.

Right now I am reading a most amazing book called The Stripping of the Altars by Eamon Duffy. As the cover says, it is a study of, 'traditional religion in England from 1400- 1580'. Basically, the territory covered is everyday religion as practiced by most laity in England at the time. And there is enough detailed description to give a very good sense of what this was like.

Now, besides the obvious doctrinal issues there are indications of what would become increasing problems over time- an affective and emotional relationship to Christian spirituality; an increasing focus on Christ's human suffering, and then seeing the Eucharist increasingly as a sacrifice in this sense. But along with this there are also some striking similarities to Orthodoxy in the liturgical life & prayers, and sacramental sense and piety which took in the whole community. Indeed what is described bears close match to what one could have seen in a typical Russian village at the same time. Although what is so attractive for us is how there is obviously a very English cultural tone to what was practiced. In other words here almost beyond recovery is some indication of what western Orthodoxy could have been like- its similarities with the east, but yet with its own distinct tone and focus also.

Tragically however, the increasing spirit of modern criticism destroyed this in the west. And in this way we were all made poorer for it to be certain. It is true that at times we forget that at one time the Byzantine spiritual expression was only one of many modes in a very wide Orthodox world stretching from Iceland to Mesopotamia. If we kept this in mind it would have more of a positive effect on how we relate to the spectrum of Orthodoxy that we experience now.

However amidst this we also need to keep it firmly in mind that God still guided His Church. Having a glimpse of English Orthodoxy allows us to recognize those similarities with the east that speak of an older, pre-Schism world that was unified even amidst its diversity. But even in the east this village piety was more affective and emotional in nature. It carried its own temptations. And meanwhile God allowed that the Byzantine monastic typikon, marked by sobriety in pious and theological expression, become the predominant manner of doing the services and understanding them, indeed of understanding our own piety and spirituality and Church life.

Thus, what began as one mode among many in the east (the monastic I mean as formed in Constantinople and the Holy Land) ended up being for us a virtual life saver of Church life. For from experience we can now better see that the affective and emotional has little defensive power against the modern spirit. Yes, the eastern monastic mode has its own temptations- ie to mistake closed mindedness for faithfulness; and similarly, to streamline the Faith to such an extent of its affective and emotional aspect, that basically it has been rationalized and emptied of much its humanizing power. But still far beyond this I think that it is this aspect of Orthodoxy, its Byzantine monastic legacy, that has allowed it to survive the most severe attack the Church has ever been called upon to endure.

After all, it's not for nothing that our continual answer to others is: 'return to the Fathers'.

In Christ- Fr Raphael

#18 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 30 September 2010 - 02:46 PM

The original question asks if the knife "cut both ways". Well I have to point out that sometimes cutting is necessary--there is the knife that wounds, and there is the knife that heals, another sort of "both ways", perhaps? Christ our Lord talks about cutting off the dead branches. Doctors cut out disease and infection. Therefore, a knife can prevent contamination.

Herman the Pooh who happens to like sharp knives.
Time spent sharpening a knife is never wasted. Old French saying.

#19 Michael Albert

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Posted 30 September 2010 - 02:49 PM

Once the bishop of Rome set out on his own, once Rome assumed supremecy, it left collegiality behind. After that came things that the Orthodox cannot abide, such as "development of doctrine" which in turn permitted all the other errors that Orthodoxy does not accept (or need).

It should be noted that the problems and issues predated (and followed) 1054 by a considerable margin, that year is merely a convenient marker. The relationship between Rome and her sisters ebbed and flowed up to the sack of Constantinople in 1204 when relations REALLY went south.

While I can certainly see that the Roman Church needs Orthodoxy, I just don't see what Orthodoxy is "missing" that Rome provides. Centralized authority? Nope, collegiality, for all its limitations, seems to be working, we manage to keep each other more or less in line at LEAST as well as Rome does her children. Spirituality? Rome looks to US to set the example!

After all the bluster about "sister churches" and "ancient wounds", and all, what, exactly, does "union" with Rome provide to the Orthodox Church? I mean, really?

Herman the wond'rin' Pooh


Absolutely, Mr wond'rin' Pooh. There is one Church which holds--and has always held--the fullness of truth. I pray for the day when Rome returns to Holy Orthodoxy.

#20 Jeremy Troy

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Posted 30 September 2010 - 03:49 PM

"Authentic catholicity" consists simply in the people gathered around their bishop to celebrate the Eucharist. The Church is whole; it per se lost nothing in the schism and would gain nothing from reunion with Rome, since it can neither be added to nor subtracted from. However, we, as people within the Church, would gain many brothers and sisters (and fathers and mothers). This is a thing to be prayed and hoped for.

We can apply this same logic to the question at hand in this thread. The Church per se was not affected by the schism; it was whole before, and it was whole after. But the people in the Church were right to weep over the loss of so many. The Church today continues on as always, but the people within it are left with the dilemma of relating to the rest of the world. This is why we see the Church defined in polemical terms so often. The first thing that is evident to those who inquire after the Church is not that it is whole, self-sufficient and catholic. It is that it is holy. The second thing is that it is neither (Roman) Catholic nor Protestant. If these two things are all we can manage, they will provide a satisfactory starting point for catechesis.

Jeremy




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