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What does "fundamentalism" mean?


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#241 Olga

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Posted 23 December 2014 - 10:04 AM

Perhaps we can say that not everything has equal significance inasmuch as we see that the Church itself distinguishes Pascha and the Twelve Great Feasts from other feasts, and some saints and Holy Fathers are more prominent than others.

 

A better word than significance would be prominence, as expressed in the second part of the post. However a lower prominence does not diminish the significance or authority of such aspects of Holy Tradition.



#242 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 23 December 2014 - 10:11 AM

Quite so.



#243 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 23 December 2014 - 02:01 PM

Getting back to the misfortunate quote by the current Pope, I agree that it is myopic and ill-chosen. Reprehensible is NOT too strong a word to use in describing it.

 

As useless as the word "fundamentalist" is, I know of NO Christians, fundamentalist or not, who are beheading children for not forsaking their faith, raping and enslaving people and selling their organs on the black market. He gives aid and comfort to the enemies of peace and freedom. In short, with this comment, the Pope becomes a religious Neville Chamberlain, selling out the church, the Christian faith and any freedom-loving person who would stand against the barbarism inherent in the religion of Submission. Once again we have a perfect example of how harmful the word "fundamentalist" is to free and open debate.

 

Not that I have any strong feelings on the topic.



#244 Brian Patrick Mitchell

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Posted 23 December 2014 - 02:58 PM

HOWEVER, if one goes out of one's way to proclaim that people don't "have" to believe this story, or other parts of the treasury of Orthodox Liturgics for that matter, I fear they do more harm than good. Better to keep such thoughts to yourself and let others make up their own minds in that regard.

Who does "go out of one's way" to proclaim that people don't have to believe this or that story? No one here. But people come here with questions. They want to know what they truly must believe and how they should understand various parts of tradition.

 

Should we tell them the truth as stated above (1, 2, and 3 of post #237), helping them to a more mature understanding that will protect them from disillusionment and deceit? Or should we tell them the Orthodox are never wrong, so their only choice is to believe or be damned?

 

Some here do give inquirers only that choice, telling them that "Holy Tradition" -- very broadly defined -- is perfect, literally true, and equal in all parts and that one must believe it all without reservation. But how can truth be in any way equal to untruth? It is true that Christ rose from the dead; it is not true that the man Paul met in Athens wrote the works for which he is now praised. Tradition was wrong about that, and it is shameful to pretend otherwise -- shameful because it's not true and shameful because insisting that it is will cause others to stumble, either in the way of truth-seekers who will walk away from the Church, or in the way of the Old Believers, who clung to little things but neglected the "weightier matters of the law" to the point of schism and death.

 

Stumbling in the latter way is very much on display on this thread, and it very well fits the definition and character of fundamentalism.


Edited by Brian Patrick Mitchell, 23 December 2014 - 03:19 PM.


#245 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 23 December 2014 - 03:56 PM

the truth as stated above (1, 2, and 3 of post #237)

 

What authority has declared those statements to be the truth?

 

It is clear, as said in post #240, that not all parts of Holy Tradition are equal but that does not mean any part may be disregarded.

 

the Orthodox are never wrong

 

If by 'the Orthodox' is meant 'Orthodox Christians', then of course they may be wrong.

 

Holy Tradition is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the Church. Holy Tradition has determined the truth and the faith we must hold; it is not open to any Orthodox Christian to deny any part of Holy Tradition for then he denies the activity of the Holy Spirit in the Church. This is not fundamentalism - it is what the Church is. The Church and Holy Tradition are one.

 

I was much struck by a remark made by Metropolitan Athanasios of Limassol in an interview he gave recently in Moscow: in answer to a question not unlike that put here, he said that after being with Elder Paisios on Mount Athos for sixteen years, he had come to believe everything one hundred per cent.



#246 Matthew Panchisin

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Posted 23 December 2014 - 05:33 PM

Dear Reader Andreas,

 

It's good to read your posts.

 

I think Elder Paisios also mentioned these things:

 

Our Orthodox Church is not in any way defective. Whatever defects there might be, are caused by us when we misrepresent the Church; and this can happen at all levels, from the highest levels of the hierarchy to that of the simple layman. The chosen may be few, but this is not a reason for concern. The Church is the Church of Christ, and He is the One Who governs Her. The Church is not a Temple built with stones, sand and mortar by the faithful, and destroyed by the fire of barbarians. The Church is Christ Himself. And he who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; but when it falls on any one, it will crush him.

Christ is tolerating the present state of things. Divine Grace is merciful and remains active for the sake of our people. We are going through a storm, but the sun will• come out again; things will begin to clear up; this situation will not last forever. It’s written in the Gospel, A bruised reed He will not break, and a dimly burning wick He will not quench; He will faithfully bring forth justice. Christ said this so that we have no excuse on the Day of Judgment. You see when the oil lamp is running out of oil and there’s only a little oil left in the wick, it may flicker for a while, but it will not last long. In the end it will go off. It is like a dying person’s last glimmer. But Christ does not want to blow at it and put it out because then it might say, “Had you not blown at me, I would still be burning.” This way Christ will say, “I did not put you out! Your cup ran out of oil!” He will not touch a cracked reed either, because if it breaks, it will protest, “You touched me and I broke to pieces!” To which His answer would be, “But you were cracked and would break anyway, why do you blame me?”

When we, Monks and Clergy, do not live according to the Gospel, we end up spreading atheism. The world is in need of our virtues not of our vices. The example set by monks makes such a big difference in the lives of lay people! They will look for all kinds of excuses to justify their sins and that’s why we must be very careful. You see, we cannot say after Christ, Which of you convicts me of sin? But what we can say is, “Which of you convicts me of scandal?” What Christ said. He said because He is perfect God and perfect Man. We are all human. We have all kinds of flaws, and downfalls, you name it, but we should not cause scandal to others.

 

In Christ,

 

Matthew Panchisin

 


Edited by Matthew Panchisin, 23 December 2014 - 05:38 PM.


#247 Olga

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Posted 23 December 2014 - 09:19 PM

Who does "go out of one's way" to proclaim that people don't have to believe this or that story? No one here. 

 

There are at least two threads on this forum where Dcn Patrick did indeed go out of his way to proclaim that people did not need to believe "this or that story", specifically the entry and dwelling of the Mother of God in the Holy of Holies, a central and clearly-articulated element, expressed in hymns and icons, of the Orthodox feast of the Entry into the Temple of the Mother of God, one of the twelve major feasts.

 

http://www.monachos....holy-of-holies/

 

http://www.monachos....um-of-st-james/

 

Here is just one sample:

 

I myself am inclined against believing the Temple story because of the obvious difficulties, which any reasonable, honest man must acknowledge and give weight. I have argued against the story so as to leave room for reasonable doubt, in the face of an aggressive insistence that a literal interpretation of the Church’s hymnography is the only acceptable Orthodox opinion. I do not view Church tradition as a seamless garment that one must either wear or not wear, regardless of how it fits. The Church has many traditions, many legends, and we need not insist that they are all true. It is a logical fallacy to believe that if one is false they all must be false. That only makes sense if tradition itself is worshipped as God — the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Jews made that mistake; fundamentalists make that mistake; Orthodox Christians should not.

To all others:

Fr. Irenei will not be satisfied with this response. He will demand again that I name a sainted Father who denies the Temple story. I cannot do so. I suspect that none has done so for fear of being attacked by the Hermans, Olgas, and Fr. Ireneis of their day. I do so now to save others from worshipping the wrong God. If bearing witness to the truth as I see it causes anyone to stumble, I ask their forgiveness and pray that God will have mercy on my soul.


#248 Rick H.

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Posted 23 December 2014 - 10:04 PM

This is one of my favorite quotes from this thread:

 

 

I may not be able to define "fundamentalism," but to paraphrase Justice Stewart, I know it when I see it. 

 

 

I know it when I see it on display like it is here, at times, and elsewhere.



#249 Olga

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Posted 23 December 2014 - 10:26 PM

I know it when I see it on display like it is here, at times, and elsewhere.

 

 

Please give us examples, Rick.



#250 Brian Patrick Mitchell

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Posted 23 December 2014 - 11:37 PM

There are at least two threads on this forum where Dcn Patrick did indeed go out of his way to proclaim that people did not need to believe "this or that story", specifically the entry and dwelling of the Mother of God in the Holy of Holies, a central and clearly-articulated element, expressed in hymns and icons, of the Orthodox feast of the Entry into the Temple of the Mother of God, one of the twelve major feasts.

 

http://www.monachos....holy-of-holies/

 

http://www.monachos....um-of-st-james/

I didn't originate those threads. I didn't raise a question no one else had. Someone else asked the question, and I merely contributed to the on-going discussion reasonably, honestly, and, as much as I was able, dispassionately. And I like what I wrote and thank Olga for quoting me. 



#251 Olga

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Posted 23 December 2014 - 11:49 PM

It matters not who started those threads. The fact remains that Dcn Patrick indeed went out of his way to proclaim that certain beliefs, enshrined in the hymns and icons of the Church, did not need to be believed, contrary to this statement of his:

 

 

Who does "go out of one's way" to proclaim that people don't have to believe this or that story?

 

The rest of his post above further articulates his dissent.



#252 Brian Patrick Mitchell

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Posted 24 December 2014 - 12:58 AM

Olga, thanks again for linking to those old threads. I hadn't look at them in years and only remembered the stress of the struggle. Reading them again, I'm quite pleased with my part and urge everyone who doubts me or tradition to read what we have written. 

 

Judge me if you dare -- I stand by what I wrote. 

 

Merry Christmas!



#253 Matthew Panchisin

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Posted 24 December 2014 - 01:13 AM

This is so very sad to me and others I'm sure.

 

In Christ,

 

Matthew Panchisin


Edited by Matthew Panchisin, 24 December 2014 - 01:22 AM.


#254 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 24 December 2014 - 02:38 AM

St. John Chrysostom has this to say on "Judging":

 
BRETHREN, the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth, finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret. But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light. Therefore He says: “Awake, you who sleep, arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.” See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. (Ephesians 5:9-18)
 
"What then!” say you: “if one commit fornication, may I not say that fornication is a bad thing, nor at all correct him that is playing the wanton [the sexually immoral]?” Nay, correct him, but not as a foe, nor as an adversary exacting a penalty, but as a physician providing medicines. For neither did Christ say, “stay not him that is sinning,” but “judge not;” that is, be not bitter in pronouncing sentence.”


#255 Matthew Panchisin

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Posted 24 December 2014 - 02:57 AM

Dear Herman,

 

The sentence has already been pronounced, the man stands by what he wrote.

 

Dear Father David,

 

Please don't side with Rick and delete this comment, surely you don't consider these things to be a matter of mockery as well.

 

In Christ,

 

Matthew Panchisin


Edited by Matthew Panchisin, 24 December 2014 - 02:59 AM.


#256 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 24 December 2014 - 02:48 PM

protect them from disillusionment and deceit – from post #244

 

The Orthodox faithful are to accept Holy Tradition in its entirety. I referred to Elder Cleopa. St John Maximovich says:

 

The Orthodox Church, highly exalting the Mother of God in its hymns of praise, does not dare to ascribe to Her that which has not been communicated about her by Sacred Scripture or Tradition . . .
The Orthodox Church teaches about the Mother of God that which Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture have informed concerning Her

 

As for hyperbole, St Ignatius Brianchaninov, quoted by St John Maximovich, says, ‘Truth is foreign to all overstatements as well as to all understatements’.

 

I refer again to the example of Metropolitan Athanasios. Dcn Patrick would have the faithful question parts of Holy Tradition including texts in the Church’s hymnology. He says some aspects of our services are not to be taken at face value, literally. That raises the obvious question, who would determine which parts are to be so regarded and which parts not: individual clergy such as Dcn Patrick deciding for themselves what to tell the faithful in this regard? And what of those faithful who firmly believe the service texts in their entirety?


Indeed, the real danger is that if elements of Holy Tradition are taught by some clergy not to be actually true but merely figurative, then some of the faithful may well indeed fall into ‘disillusionment’ and be troubled. Where may this lead? Are the faithful to be left wondering just what is really true?


Dcn Patrick has said we do not have to believe some parts of the service texts as actually true and are some parts are not essential because some accounts are ‘dubious’ in his view. We see repeatedly in the service texts that the events celebrated in the feasts are ‘strange wonders’ and ‘strange mysteries’ at which even ‘angelic hosts looked with trembling … and were struck with wonder’. What could more ‘dubious’ than the story, almost 2,000 years old, of a young woman being made with child by the Holy Spirit and giving birth to God? Let us lay aside our confidence in our intellect and with faith and humility tremble and, like the angels, be ‘struck with wonder’ at the ‘strange mysteries’ we hear of in texts of the Church’s inspired and saintly hymnogaphers.
 


Edited by Reader Andreas, 24 December 2014 - 02:51 PM.


#257 Lakis Papas

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Posted 01 January 2015 - 10:57 AM

There is a profound difference between myths and idols.
 
The challenge  for Christianity is not the de-mythologization, but the de-idolization, because only then the mythical language loses its rigidity.
 
After de-idolization, it is then possible for the coupling of personal and charismatic speech to the legendary. Idols with static, unchangeable in form, concepts and representations are those which always threaten the authenticity and genuineness of Christianity and not the myths.
 
Actually all New and Old Testament texts are mythical/legendary oral traditions that happened to be recorded (some other failed to be recorded, yet they are as mythical as the recorded ones). They are living myths as opposed to dead idolization. This difference is also connected to "fundamentalism" which is the title of this thread. 


#258 Rick H.

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Posted 01 January 2015 - 11:18 PM

There is a profound difference between myths and idols.
 
The challenge  for Christianity is not the de-mythologization, but the de-idolization, because only then the mythical language loses its rigidity.
 
After de-idolization, it is then possible for the coupling of personal and charismatic speech to the legendary. Idols with static, unchangeable in form, concepts and representations are those which always threaten the authenticity and genuineness of Christianity and not the myths.
 
Actually all New and Old Testament texts are mythical/legendary oral traditions that happened to be recorded (some other failed to be recorded, yet they are as mythical as the recorded ones). They are living myths as opposed to dead idolization. This difference is also connected to "fundamentalism" which is the title of this thread. 

 

This is so perfect.  Thank you.

 

The only thing that could be added would be possibly to add a slash to the rigidity of the dead idolization viz. rigidity / control freakery.

 

Some would rule out this entire post of Mr. Papas on the grounds of lacking concrete qualities, but that would serve as a demonstration of what is said in his contribution.  There are different ways / approaches to speak to the topic at hand, even though probably 9 out of 10 people won't understand this, this one is top shelf.


Edited by Rick H., 01 January 2015 - 11:27 PM.


#259 Rick H.

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Posted 10 February 2015 - 10:12 PM

This post belongs here as well as the "Orthodox Fundamentalism" thread:

 

 

Article by George E. Demacopoulos

One of the cornerstones of Orthodox Christianity is its reverence for the great Fathers of the Church who were not only exemplars of holiness but were also the greatest intellectuals of their age. The writings of men like St. Basil the Great, St. Gregory the Theologian, and St. Maximos the Confessor have been and will always remain essential guides to Orthodox Christian living and Orthodox Christian faith.


Thus it is alarming that so many Orthodox clerics and monks in recent years have made public statements that reflect a “fundamentalist” approach to the Church Fathers. And unless leaders of the Orthodox Church unite to repudiate this development, the entire Orthodox Church is at risk of being hijacked by extremists.


Like other fundamentalist movements, Orthodox fundamentalism reduces all theological teaching to a subset of theological axioms and then measures the worthiness of others according to them. Typically, this manifests itself in accusations that individuals, institutions, or entire branches of the Orthodox Church fail to meet the self-prescribed standard for Orthodox teaching. For example, when the Theological Academy of Volos recently convened an international conference to examine the role of the Fathers in the modern Church, radical opportunists in the Church of Greece accused it and its bishop of heresy.


The key intellectual error in Orthodox fundamentalism lies in the presupposition that the Church Fathers agreed on all theological and ethical matters. That miscalculation, no doubt, is related to another equally flawed assumption that Orthodox theology has never changed—clearly it has or else there would have been no need for the Fathers to build consensus at successive Ecumenical Councils.


The irony, as identified by recent scholarship on fundamentalism, is that while fundamentalists claim to protect the Orthodox Christian faith from the corruption of modernity, their vision of Orthodox Christianity is, itself, a very modern phenomenon. In other words, Orthodoxy never was what fundamentalists claim it to be.


Indeed, a careful reading of Christian history and theology makes clear that some of the most influential saints of the Church disagreed with one another—at times quite bitterly. St. Peter and St. Paul were at odds over circumcision. St. Basil and St. Gregory the Theologian clashed over the best way to recognize the divinity of Holy Spirit. And St. John Damascene, who lived in a monastery in the Islamic Caliphate, abandoned the hymnographical tradition that preceded him in order to develop a new one that spoke to the needs of his community.


It is important to understand that Orthodox fundamentalists reinforce their reductionist reading of the Church Fathers with additional falsehoods. One of the most frequently espoused is the claim that the monastic community has always been the guardian of Orthodox teaching. Another insists that the Fathers were anti-intellectual. And a third demands that adherence to the teachings of the Fathers necessitates that one resist all things Western. Each of these assertions is patently false for specific reasons, but they are all symptomatic of an ideological masquerade that purports to escape the modern world.


The insidious danger of Orthodox fundamentalists is that they obfuscate the difference between tradition and fundamentalism. By repurposing the tradition as a political weapon, the ideologue deceives those who are not inclined to question the credibility of their religious leaders.
In an age when so many young people are opting out of religious affiliation altogether, the expansion of fundamentalist ideology into ordinary parishes is leading to a situation where our children are choosing between religious extremism or no religion at all.


It is time for Orthodox hierarchs and lay leaders to proclaim broadly that the endearing relevance of the Church Fathers does not lie in the slavish adherence to a fossilized set of propositions used in self-promotion. The significance of the Fathers lies in their earnest and soul-wrenching quest to seek God and to share Him with the world. Fundamentalist readings of both the Fathers and the Bible never lead to God—they only lead to idolatry.


George E. Demacopoulos: Professor of Historical Theology; Director and Co-Founder, Orthodox Christian Studies Center at Fordham University


http://www.acadimia....-fundamentalism

 





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