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Be baptised and chrismated, or just chrismated?


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#21 Alec Lowly

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Posted 20 January 2006 - 12:08 AM

Father Seraphim, bless ...

"The views of the Royal Priesthood (of Orthodox laity) range all the way from the absolute invalidity of the Latin Church and their Bishops, Priests and Sacraments to some forms of moderation."

There is a way out of this confusion if we would but take it.

First, let us admit that it is impossible to maintain that the Latins -- Catholics and Protestants -- are not Christians, because they all believe and confess the kerygma (Acts 2: 14-39). And they all stand in a nearer or a farther relationship to the Church, based upon their faith and praxis. It is impossible to speak of the Latins as we would speak of, say, Hindus or Buddhists. If the Latins are not in the church, they are at least on the grounds of the church. Some of them may even be in the vestibule.

To the extent that the faith and praxis of the Latins conform to Orthodoxy, to that extent do they have grace. Some more, some less, depending on their faith and praxis.

The church is full of light. Some of that light shines outside the building.

I am eager to hear what my brothers and sisters have to say about this way of thinking, even those who would condemn it. If my thinking is in error, show me, and I will accept correction.

In XC,
Alec Lowly, sinner


#22 Alec Lowly

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Posted 20 January 2006 - 12:16 AM

Klod writes:

"An average roman catholic and greek orthodox believer, what you call royal priests, are characterised both by the believe in Trinity, Christ as Son of God, Crucified Saviour, devotional prayers to the Mother of God (something none of protestants share) to the saints (most or many of whom are the same); fear before Holy Communion; pilgrimage to Holy places, obedience to the church hierarchy; confession and sacraments.

"these things are particularly in common among orthodox and catholics, and are not shared by none of the protestants, not even lutherans and anglicans!"

That's not necessarily so, my brother. I've known very conservative, very traditional Anglicans and Lutherans who are close in these respects to Rome and to us.

In XC,
Alec, sinner


#23 Guest_Susan F Peterson

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Posted 20 January 2006 - 01:41 AM

As a Roman Catholic for 35 years now, I humbly beg you my fellow Christians, to remember Our Lord's prayer for the church "that they may all be one, as the Father and I are one" and to pray for this unity. When I pray for this unity I ask that it come about in the way that God wills and knows to be the right way, not according to my ideas, thoughts, feelings, and imaginings about it. I think all of us could make this prayer in good conscience.

I beg you also to consider what Klod says above about how much we Roman Catholics have in common with Orthodoxy.

The division between our churches is surely not according to the will of God. No one can abandon what he believes is the Truth to achieve union. But we ought to do everything towards it that truth and conscience permit. And most especially we should pray for each other..and again, for God's will to be done in this.

#24 Byron Jack Gaist

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Posted 20 January 2006 - 07:16 AM

Dear Klod,

You write

Other aspects of what you call royal priesthood, are many times characterised by simple ignorance, misunderstandings and even political hate, or nevertheless a humanly hate of fallen nature, something which has nothing to do with the Love of the Gospels, inspired along sides of national or empirial feelings. This is a common feeling in the Balkans, especially among greeks and serbs.


Alas, as a Greek-Cypriot I cannot deny that one great source of frustration for me has been the tendency I've perceived in some of my countrymen to collapse their religion and ethnicity into one, seeing Greek Orthodoxy as Greek Orthodoxy rather than Greek Orthodoxy. In fact that whole business of calling the Orthodox by their respective country (Greek Orthodox, Russian, Romanian etc) is a potential source of division amongst us which can lead, by a misunderstanding, to the sin of phyletism and which zealots for the Western denominations love to play on, seeing us as ethnic clubs. I will not defend those among the laity (or sometimes even the clergy) who have fallen into this serious error. There is a big difference between patriotism as a love of one's country and culture, and nationalism as a source of chauvinistic contempt towards others. In fact, it seems to me that someone who truly understands what a privilege it is to have a fatherland and a mothertongue, cannot help but admire and respect those who are from different backgrounds.

However, none of this negates Fr Seraphim's point that the Faith has been defended by the Royal Priesthood of the laity in Orthodox countries. The fact that some members of the laity have failed to live up to their true vocation as Orthodox Christians, by persecuting rather than loving others, surely doesnt mean that the whole of Orthodoxy is mistaken in its teachings! I wouldn't want to go into the sort of misunderstandings of what being "Christian" means that have taken place in the West. Let me just suggest that we are perhaps living the very consequences of those misunderstandings today, in our modern technologised (non-)existence!

I write tendentiously of course, and ask your forgiveness if I have caused any offence. My only valid point is I believe, that true Christianity has nothing to do with hatred, racism or imperialism, be it "Western" or "Eastern"...

In Christ
Byron

#25 Alec Lowly

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Posted 20 January 2006 - 11:17 PM

Susan writes:

"The division between our churches is surely not according to the will of God. No one can abandon what he believes is the Truth to achieve union. But we ought to do everything towards it that truth and conscience permit. And most especially we should pray for each other..and again, for God's will to be done in this."

Amen to that, sister. Very eloquently expressed.

In XC,
Alec Lowly, sinner
Orthodox


#26 Guest_Klod

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Posted 21 January 2006 - 08:53 AM

Dear Byron, the following quotation from our dear Fr. Seraphim

In my experience, the opinion of the Orthodox laity is this: the Roman Catholic Church fell into schism, finally declared in 1054. Since that time, and to speak of the present day, since I was not travelling in the 8th century or the Middle Ages, it is the absolute opinion of the vast majority of the Royal Priesthood that the Roman Catholic Church is an entirely different world.

It's theology affected it's cultural expressions, and for the Orthodox laity they see very clearly a very different world in the Latin West.

The views of the Royal Priesthood range all the way from the absolute invalidity of the Latin Church and their Bishops, Priests and Sacraments to some forms of moderation.


I do believe that laity, sharing in royal priesthood, have potentially all the means to access, expose, protect and prove the truth.

Our beloved scholar, Philip Sherrard makes this point as well in his excellent book "Greek East and Latin West".

Nevertheless, this responsibility of the royal priesthood goes hand by hand with the abuse in the course of history, which has been accepted by the same scholar, which reflects the negative side of popular opinions due to political, cultural and ethnic conditions of the time, which means that the reaction of laity toward certain ecclesiastic phenomena, can be explained very well simply by looking at the historical conditions and not by attributing to laity some sort of necessarily divine inspiration due to their participation in the royal priesthood.

For example, greeks or byzantian greeks, could afford themselves an opposition to the pressure of latins during 13-15 century, because of their geographical position not linked territorially with West, because of their ethnic pride and anti-latin feelings and because of their hope that turks would tolerate the anti-latin greek party in case they and not latins were to take over Constantinople, as the city was obviously going toward capitulation.

Otherwise, greeks, royal priesthood, from southern Italy could not afford this opposition and went as far as to keep the eastern rite being under the authority of the pope of Rome, i.e as uniates.

therefore, when we take into account such cases we know that Latin contempt of byzantian greeks in east was affordable because of merely historical conditions and not because there was some special sort of divine inaction.

I do believe in the real potentiality of the laity, that as royal priests, they can represent faith as good as probably none, but in my own practical life, to be honest, I have never witnessed it in a real practical and wide sense.

I havent seen that in Albania, I mean a real sense of responsibility of laity, who by sharing in royal priesthood, they have a separate and non influential conscience of purity of faith.

I dont think I have seen that in England where I have lived for some time.

On the contrary I have seen people hugely influenced and deeply depended on the way monks and priests preach and talk to them, be that for positive or negative.

To be honest I have seen even monks with anti-latin medieval prejudice or portraying them in an absolute generalized negative aspect.

#27 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 21 January 2006 - 03:42 PM

Normally, unless one is a child, reception into the Church is through catechesis (even infants during the baptism service are first made catechumens if only for a few minutes). While one's background is important the really crucial thing is the degree of one's desire for the Faith. This desire is always expressed through one's understanding that the essence of what is being asked is some degree of a death to oneself, of some degree of leaving behind one's past attachments, in other words of taking up of one's cross and following Christ.

In discussions about baptism & chrismation this aspect of our coming into the Church is often left out and instead of placing our life into the context of what is asked of us we slip into a mindset of demanding things of the Church. When this occurs it means that there is something essential of our own personal 'treasure' that we have resisted giving up.

Sooner or later we all need to face this critical issue of self-sacrifice as the basic point of entry into the Church. Humanly we can try to short-circuit the process but sooner or later Christ will confront us with this most basic point: have you desired to commit to dying to yourself- or have you come here (ie the Church) continuing with the pattern of the Old Adam of wanting and demanding things as the validation of all that you deem to be good?

The most basic point of catechesis has always been that it brings each person entering the Church to a recognition and acknowledgement of the need of a death to oneself. How one is received whether through baptism or chrismation is part and parcel of this death to oneself so that entry into the Church becomes a commitment and not just external 'magic'. Otherwise our entry into the Church becomes unwittingly an affirmation for retaining of old baggage which is harmful to us and ultimately an invitation to self-will.

Obviously though in recognising that one must commit to a death to oneself one also encounters the reverse side of the coin- that we cling to our self-created sinful false self as our dearest treasure. In a way as we go through this realisation we are entering new territory since it has been many long centuries since we have seen so many adult conversions to the Orthodox Church. It would be helpful for us to read the catechetical homilies of St Cyril of Jerusalem or of St John Chrysostom which so powerfully express the critical need for an inner conversion which the sacrament of reception so perfectly expresses & implies.

In Christ- Fr Raphael


#28 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 21 January 2006 - 04:28 PM

On the contrary I have seen people hugely influenced and deeply depended on the way monks and priests preach and talk to them, be that for positive or negative.
To be honest I have seen even monks with anti-latin medieval prejudice or portraying them in an absolute generalized negative aspect.


I'm not sure that monastics influence such things as much as they express what is already a general assessment. In any case what monastics express about the schism or 'the west' for example is usually not just prejudice (which my trustworthy Concise Oxford Dictionary defines as 'preconceived opinion or bias before proper inquiry') but rather is the result of what they at least consider to have been prayerful and sober assessment.

It should be pointed out that our whole Orthodox way of assessing or seeing things is different from that of the world where precisely the prejudice of opinions based on emotion and intellect outside of God are so strong. And one of the most important results of this distorted way of seeing is the 'historical perspective' which instead of seeing history as taking place completely from within the divine perspective is seen as the operation of autonomous natural forces which even man is almost powerless to resist. Thus the schism which is one of the most crucial episodes in human history is often described as the result of 'prejudice' rather than conscious thought-out choice whether it be right or wrong(on both sides).

A second aspect of the modern historical perspective is that it is based on the assumption that the present is more authoritative than the past because the present is always more enlightened than the past. This again rests on some un thought-out belief that human culture is rolling on inevitably towards some more progressive end. Based on an optimistic view of autonomous humanity without God the inner flaw of secular history is that it removes the sense of objective Truth outside of one's own subjective judgement. By doing this it cuts the ground out from a justification for an objective morality. And by doing this it falls into the fatal self-contradiction of denying to human history choice in any real sense.

Let's just say that the Orthodox perspective on our history is radically different from this and based precisely on how God and free response to God are the driving forces of history. There is no need to reject the study of history- it has been an important subject since at least the time of Eusebios or even since the time of the Gospels- or even to completely reject the modern historical method. But rather than falling into the secular pattern of ascribing human history to impersonal forces which are probably more the result of human fantasy than of illumined reality we can use history to study the way in which people of all times and cultures have responded in freedom to the Divine invitation.

In Christ- Fr Raphael

#29 Guest_Klod

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Posted 23 January 2006 - 08:22 AM

Dear Fr. Raphael

if a monk, or whoever, goes on to represent westerners today, i.e latin christians as thieves, robbers etc, based on examples from late medieval time (what venetians have stolen from Constantinople in 13 century), then that is surely prejudice. Or if one goes on to say that orthodox children pray more then catholic children, although that one is not born in a catholic country, has become a monk relatively in an early age and has lived always in an orthodox country, then that would be a prejudice as well.

Although, true, history cannot be seen as a driving force in its own right, outside from God, it can be studied in its natural forces without maybe mentioning God, but without denying God.

And there are certainly natural laws through which history develops. In my own personal life of 33 years I may say I have formed an experience through my ups and downs in life. However, I am not saying that it was those ups and downs in its self that gave me lessons, denying so God behind them. I am only observing some general criteria (natural laws created from God) that in time have given me some lessons.

In this aspect history has certainly an progressive course, and that doesnt mean it works towards the positive end.

I am sure, had the church been born in a different world order, from that of the ancient and medieval time, as with regard to political, sociological, technological, economical aspects, then we would have talked differently about lots of issues. The way decisions were taken then, and the way how things run, reflect perfectly the standard of time.

The ancient ecclesiastic issues would have been discussed quite, if not completely, different from the church of our days. For example there would certainly not be monks going to Council meetings with sticks to beat up opponents; there would not be riots in the city's streets about which ecclesiastical party was to take over; there would not be people arrested, persecuted and exiled because of nonconformity in faith formulations; there would not be government decrees enforcing which church doctrine to follow. There would not even be a chance for misunderstanding because of lack of communicating time and space, of language knowledge, of information.

Although I am not denying the personal subjectivity of man and human heart in creating those problems, I say that they were created along these external patterns, and although we, in 21 century, havent maybe changed the heart, we have changed a lot - not completely - these external patterns...

#30 Robert Hegwood

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Posted 23 January 2006 - 10:23 PM

To the OP.

I'm not sure if my own experince will be useful. In 1998 I was baptized into the Orthodox Church. It was my third baptism.

Twice as a child in the Baptist Church I submitted to Baptism, the second for the mistaken reason that I thought when a family changed churches you needed to get rebaptized. The first time at 6 was for the right reasons.

When I came to Orthodoxy in the mid 90s it didn't take long to learn about conflict between the strict and economic views that defined much of the theological landscape of the era.

I knew some would not consider me truely Orthodox if I were not baptized since Baptists didn't practiced triple immersion. It seemed the issue could become a real stumbling block for some. My priest said normal practice for them was to christate those with Trinitarian baptism, but that they generally required a certicate from the chuch that baptized for verification. With me that was impossible...it had been long ago and was too far away, and time was too short as it stood. And so using lack of documentation as a sort of pretext for "economia" in my case, I was baptized.

Personally, I'm glad of it. There's no wrestling with "was it an abuse of economia" question. On the one hand I look at it as the fulfilment in substance a journey I had begun in form as a child. On the other hand I look upon it both as the removeal of a potental stumbling block and an affirmation that by the grace of God, everything in my past was laid aside so that I might receive my whole faith, top to bottom from Orthodoxy God willing.


#31 Edward Henderson

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Posted 23 January 2006 - 10:38 PM

I agree we must not make personal attacks on individual Catholics or anybody at all. This is not the issue here. What this discussion has become is one of the very nature of the Church. All of us can agree that the Great Schism in 1054 was a horrible tragedy. The question remains, how do we view the Church. Do we advocate the Anglican branch theory that the Church is merely the body of believers in Christ or who hold to minimal orthodoxy (Christ is God, Trinity, Bible is true, etc.)? Then there are those that discount Protestantism altogether and see the Church as two lungs, the Western Latin Church, and the Eastern Orthodox. This was Pope John Paul II's belief. Both traditional minded Orthodox and Roman Catholics would disagree with this idea.

The separation between the Orthodox and Latins is not merely political, cultural, and historical. Those elements cannot be denied, but the heart of this schism is theological. Even Patriarch Bartholomew once admitted that our Churches were ontologically different, meaning our experience of the divine, of who God is differs. The Latin dogma of the filoque strikes at the heart of Orthodox Trinitarian theology. It affects how we understand all three persons of the Holy Trinity. Our understanding of grace and thus sanctification and salvation differ. Ofcourse, this means our understanding of human nature then differs. The difference ofcourse then creates differences on how we understand the Eucharist, the Virgin Mary, Church authority (especially regarding bishops).

This does not make individual Roman Catholics horrible monsters and that we, as Orthodox Christians, should feel superior to them. But we cannot ignore the factors that separate us. We must embrace the Truth and the fullness of Truth lies exclusively in Orthodoxy. Roman Catholicism still caries many Orthodox truths, but they are mingled with falsehoods.

That is why I can without hesitation say that Latin communion is not the Body and Blood of Christ, it is a wafer and wine, thus it is not salvific. The same goes for Latin baptism. It invocs a different Trinity and even lacks the form of an Orthodox baptism. At one time, they at least had the form. This is confirmed in Father Aidan Keller's translations of the Sarum Rite liturgical books.

What Orthodox Christians must do is witness their faith to pious, believing Roman Catholics. They see what is happening to their Church and the direction it is taking. Pope Benedict is more traditional than his predecessor but he is also in his 70's, which statistically does not guarantee a long pontificate. One must also remember that the power behind the Papal throne is the Curia and they are not of one mind.

#32 Guest_Klod

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Posted 24 January 2006 - 08:21 AM

If there is a Schism of the theological sort, of differences in how God and practical life of the church is understood in its minute details, then this Schism may be represented as a Schism of two special classes within the Church, the class of the learned people, which are a slight minority in number, which have formed two Institutions!

Round these two elite groups are gathered, as a second class, people who, although in their vast majority have not the slightest clue about the theological differences and their deep meanings, are divided by culture, politics, language and often by a geopolitical factor as that of an empire confronting another one.

They are called orthodox or catholic for various reasons, other than being fully conscientious of what they really believe. They simply are what they are merely through registers.

In practice, this second class is the same in most of their basic faith.
I dont see the difference in those catholics who baptize their infants conscientious of the need of salvation since the moment we are born, compared to those eastern christians, who although happen to have a rightly done ritual according to canons of church, in hundreds and thousands of cases they baptize their infants simply and merely because of traditional custome, something which has been done so by generations - and without caring at all whether baptism meant leaving up to Christ's own life, but looking at baptism as something that keeps healthy, gives good luck, protects you from evil eye...

The hypocrisy of those who adhere to the first class of those learned people is that they are happy to condemn why there is no observance of the right practice in the other opponent Institution, although many of them have had a right intention in baptism, while they are satisfied in calling the multitude of their own people of the second class, who baptize simply because of is customary.

Historicaly, the main issue at discussion between eastern greeks and western latins, have been 1)the nature of primacy of Rome 2) Filioque.

Apart of these two points, in majority there has been believed, the two sides can co-exist despite different usage and practice in their own local communities.

Well prior to 1054, the usage and practice of the two seas was already different, although the church was still one.

In Russian orthodoxy I see a lot of latin post-schism influence in church practice, starting from iconography, standardized theology, music and many other points.

#33 Guest_Klod

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Posted 24 January 2006 - 12:49 PM

A interesting article about roman catholics, you may find here


#34 Edward Henderson

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Posted 24 January 2006 - 02:59 PM

Differing cultural customs and ignorance among the laity, whether they are Latins or Orthodox, still does not make the case that the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Churches are two lungs of one greater church. I am well aware of the scholastic and western influences in the art, music, and theology in the Russian Church. However, one only has to look to the Optina Elders, Saint Seraphim of Sarov, Saint Theophan the Recluse, Saint Ignatius Brianchaninov, and other Fathers who sought to foster a more traditional Orthodox ethos, routed in the Church Fathers and the Hesychast teachers. Likewise, the ignorance of the Greeks, treating the Church Mysteries more as ethnic magic, does not make the Roman Catholic Church one with valid mysteries.

I must also bring to attention that the Pre-Tridentine rites found in the RC Church bear a much more Orthodox liturgical ethos. Father Aidan Keller, former of Saint Hilarion Monastery, has done fantastic work translating the Sarum Rite books into English. Ensemble Organum, led by Marcel Peres has put out a series of Pre-Schism Western Church Music (3 volumes of Old Roman, 1 Ambrosian, 1 Beneventian, and 1 Mozarabic Chant Cds), which bears closer resemblance to Byzantine and Znamenny Chant. Father Aidan's research shows that the Western Church also practiced triple immersion and used unleavened bread. In reading Father John Romanides' works, he shows that the early Roman Popes condemned the filioque. Even today, the Orthodox Church honors Saints Ambrose of Milan, Augustine of Hippo, Irenaius of Lyons, Jerome, Gregory the Great, John Cassian, and many other Western Church figures as Church fathers. One only needs to read the theological, hagiographical, historical, and spiritual writings of the Western Church upto the Great Schism to see its Orthodox ethos. After the schism, it departs further and further from Orthodoxy to what we have now, in this post-Vatican II era, where Roman Catholicism now is closer to Lutheranism than Orthodoxy.

#35 Guest_Klod

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Posted 25 January 2006 - 08:30 AM

In many aspects, the two churches, are two lungs of christianity.

We shouldnt look such a expression to find how this can be dogmatically justified, since it is not a dogmatic formulation, neither an effort to define the eclessiastic structure ti fit into it doctrinally east and west.


It is simply a positive expression for the role the two churches have played in the course of history for the truth that of the Triune God, Christ as God-human and Saviour, crucified and resurrected, for the deity of the Holy Gost, for the Church being built upon Apostles; for the communion of saints and their intercession, veneration of images, for the holy liturgy and its redeeming sacrifice, for the veneration of images, for sacraments, real presence of Christ in Holy Communion.



This aspects of christianity are preserved in both churches and among simple folk they are experienced in the same essential way.



In regard with Filioque, even in this forum, there would be only few people (Mathew, Owen and two or three others) who might have a real idea what it is all about. The rest has only learned by heart, in their minds and hearts, the difference in formulation.



As I say, I see a problem that while eastern zealots will be eager to condemn western latin treachery in faith, at the same time they will proudly proclaim how entire countries and nations in east have preserved orthodoxy!!!!


I say this is hypocrisy, because orthodoxy is lived and experienced and known only by a tiny minority even in eastern church, so that while condemning latins, why not condemn even those who might seem to be inside the church physically not spiritually? Simply because they have written their names down in orthodox church baptism register?





Furthermore, if it would happen today that Rome and western latin christianity would be threatened for its existence, that would not give any benefit to eastern christianity. The existence of western church is essentially beneficial for east too, as it is true the opposite.


While I dont see such a relation with other denominations, be that lutheran, anglican etc.


#36 Owen Jones

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Posted 25 January 2006 - 12:48 PM

I am flattered, but after many good discussions on this site regarding filiogue, I am as perplexed as ever.


#37 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 25 January 2006 - 02:15 PM

This aspects of christianity are preserved in both churches and among simple folk they are experienced in the same essential way.


There is one Church since it is the One Body of Christ in its fullness. An Orthodox way of seeing the Church would not be that "there are aspects of christianity preserved in it" because then in fact it would not be the Church but only a religious organisation.

I think the above presentation in trying to appeal to charity since no-one is without sin falls into the other extreme of seeing the effort of the Church from a purely humanistic point of view.

When we look for what the Church is we look first to Christ and then to the whole way of life He has left us through the living Tradition. Then we see how this same life being continuous from apostolic times up to this has been that which makes the Church what it is.

In focussing on the common sin we all share in as an indication that the Church is not able to claim that it is the One Body of Christ we are actually focussing on death instead of life.

If there is not a True Church then there is no Church. And if there is no Church then we only have religious moral groups trying to do their best. But if this is so- at least from an Orthodox way of seeing things- then truly death has triumphed and all that is left to us is to comfort each other emotionally while the things collapse around us.

In Christ- Fr Raphael

#38 Bogdan

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Posted 28 January 2006 - 05:12 AM

Hello all,
I am a new member to this forum, so forgive me for jumping into a discussion that seems to be well developed. Due to this fact, I'm going to take some time to read and consider prior posts before jumping into the dialogue. I would however like to address one particular thing that was said above. I know this is being picky, but it is a subject that I feel strongly about, and face on a regular basis.

Mr. Edward Henderson writes:

"That is why I can without hesitation say that Latin communion is not the Body and Blood of Christ, it is a wafer and wine, thus it is not salvific. The same goes for Latin baptism. It invocs a different Trinity and even lacks the form of an Orthodox baptism."

In as much as I agree that Latin communion and baptism are not the same as the Orthodox counterparts, I would very much disagree that their spirit is not the same. I have the hardest time reminding people at my parish of the dangers involved with saying when and where the holy spirit is. The simple fact that they invoke the Trinity, means that they invoked THE trinity. There is no other trinity TO invoke. This is the power of the holy spirit, for it allows even the 'technical' mistakes of the Latin church, to be blessed by our Lord. We see the power of this in our own church with the laying of the hands for priest anointment, and other examples.

The point is, our church accepts Latin, protestant and in general christian baptism, and RIGHTLY SO.


#39 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 28 January 2006 - 02:49 PM

Bodgan Pantic above writes,

The point is, our church accepts Latin, protestant and in general christian baptism, and RIGHTLY SO.


However many Orthodox of past & present do not accept that a non-Orthodox baptism is a true baptism. One can see the effort of the Church to discern about this from the times of the first post-Apostolic heresies.

From this point until now one can see clear evidence of how and why some would urge for strictness while others would allow for economia. As I have previously posted I believe this shows from past Church practice that both ways are possible and that the way one is received is done so mainly through discernment- not a universally applicable rule for all times and places.

The problem with the viewpoint that non-Orthodox baptisms are always recognised as true baptisms- that this is the universal rule of the Church- is that this goes against the above evidence of Church history & practice. It is difficult to fit the ever present evidence of discussion about these baptisms into the idea that the Church universally recognised these as as valid. I believe that the evidence of Church practice instead shows that different practices were accepted and that there was not one universal rule. To use modern language there are a number of tools available for bringing someone into the Church. It is notable however that these tools are always sacramental and this must have an important message for us of some sort.

The question still remains however when someone is received by chrismation only. Is this a recognition that the non-Orthodox baptism was a true baptism? Is it economia pure & simple as if nothing sacramental had occurred before Orthodoxy? Or is it that the Church is filling what was not complete?

Certainly one nowadays hears all three explanations two of which clearly contradict each other. But I think we need to give more thought to this. How does the Church in fact see grace as acting outside of Herself?

In Christ- Fr Raphael

#40 Edward Henderson

Edward Henderson

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Posted 28 January 2006 - 03:19 PM

Nobody can argue the intentions of Roman Catholics in the celebration of their sacraments. However, to say that the spirit behind theirs and ours is the same, constitutes a grave misunderstanding of the Church. Is the Church One? Second, what is schism? Finally, what is anathema? The Church Fathers, although often addressing the Latin Pope by his ecclesiastical title, still considered the Latin Church to be in schism, heresy, and under anathema. The early fathers were also clear that grace outside the church works to bring people to the Church. If the mysteries of the Roman Catholic Church are fully valid, then we make our Orthodoxy just another ethnic or religious custom.

Although we, as Orthodox Christians fall very short of this calling, we are called to a unique experience of the divine, to the fullness of salvation, which is impossible outside the Orthodox Church. I am not saying that all those who are not Orthodox are damned. The Church Fathers speak of three stages of spiritual life, purification, illumination, and deification (theosis). Baptism brings about illumination. Our experience of the afterlife corresponds to our level of spiritual perfection. So, I would say that illumination and deification are not possible outside the Orthodox Church, only purification. We see this in the lives of righteous people outside the Church. They are often pure and good people, with great love for God and mankind. But they start talking theology and the flaws make themselves amply evident. That is still not to say that they could not receive the experience of salvation one who has achieved purification receives. I leave that to God.

The point is that Orthodoxy is not just an ethnic tradition. And it is unfortunate that it has become that among too many Orthodox communities. It calls all people to a life of union with God, theosis. This idea has been lost among the Latins and totally absent in Protestantism, because their experience of the spritual life, while often pure and moral, lacks illumination, which is only brought about by baptism and chrismation.

Now, we see that the issue of receiving Latins and Protestants into the Church has been one of debate and changing practices for centuries now. There is ample evidence of Latins and Protestants being received into the Orthodox Church by baptism. Father George Mellatinos puts forth the case in his book, "I Confess One Baptism."

To this day, the great centers of Orthodoxy, Athos, many of the Russian Monasteries, Father Ephraim's Monasteries, Saint Catherine's, the Patriarchates of Jerusalem and Alexandria. When our Old Calendarist Metropolis entered the Ecumenical Patriarchate, Metropolitan Paisios told Patriarch Bartholomew that he receives Latins and Protestants by Baptism, and was blessed to continue to do so.

I am not going to say that those merely chrismated into the Church are not fully Orthodox. Then again, they may run into problems if they wish to commune in the previously mentioned places. They may also find themselves being offered baptism there.
The questions comes back, when we understand what Orthodox baptism is about and its affect on the soul and spritual life we must ask ourselves, do we really want to refuse such a thing? And, do we really want to deny this experience to those coming into the Church?




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