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If protestantism is a modern form of gnosticism, will it come to an end ?


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#41 Anna Stickles

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Posted 06 January 2012 - 07:21 PM

I agree that we invariably label and categorize, but in this case the label simply doesn't fit and gets in the way of a serious discussion of what's being labeled.


The label only gets in the way if we allow it.

How hard is it to ignore people's imperfections in order to get to the good things they really offer? Is this so hard?

If we cannot do this, then the problem is not with the author of the book we are reading it is with us.

What good is it to simply dismiss anything with imperfections? Might as well go stick our head in the sand or try to find cloud nine if we want to avoid anything that might be slightly prejudice or reflects a few passions in its tone. Or maybe just stick with only reading the saints, but then again we better watch out or we will start complaining of them being prejudice and legalistic too. - After all they have some pretty strong and straight forward things to say about the fact that some things are right and some things are wrong and not all things can be reconciled and that Truth is particular as well as universal, (Jesus was a particular person, who gave us particular instructions for worship and life) and the Way is narrow.

#42 Ryan

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Posted 06 January 2012 - 07:26 PM

I don't know what you mean Anna. I am talking about the specific instance, here, where a very large and varied body of Christian currents is being labeled, collectively, a "modern form of gnosticism." Do you think this labeling is valid and useful? If so, why?

#43 Rick H.

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Posted 06 January 2012 - 07:34 PM

Ryan, you do realize that we have been agreeing here on some things lately? Hmm . . . it's not so bad, I could get used to it.

People don't seem to hear it when I say it, maybe they will when you say it:


I agree that we invariably label and categorize, but in this case the label simply doesn't fit and gets in the way of a serious discussion of what's being labeled.


To speak of "The Protestants" or to speak of something that is called a "Protestant Church" is nutty. It:


-- causes confusion / gets in the way

-- is a careless way of discussing

-- is uniformed

-- is to operate from a place of ignorance and it breeds ignorance


It would be the same if one was to take the Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, and every other kind of small Christian Orthodox sect one can find on Wiki and the internet and make broad sweeping statements about "The Orthodox."

It would be chaos to talk about what the Orthodox believe and think and do (especially with those small Orthodox groups that are not in communion with anyone.

It would be lazy and irresponsible and/or ignorant to lump all Orthodox Christians together, lest there would be a contrived reason for doing this.

#44 Anna Stickles

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Posted 06 January 2012 - 07:41 PM

All Orthodox believe that the Gifts are truly the Body and Blood of Christ.

All Orthodox have a liturgical worship.

All Orthodox believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible. And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds; God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God; begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made. .... etc,

There are some broad sweeping statement that we can make.

Now as far as labeling modern PC beliefs gnostic - probably not very useful or true.

#45 Rick H.

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Posted 06 January 2012 - 08:53 PM

All Orthodox believe that the Gifts are truly the Body and Blood of Christ.

All Orthodox have a liturgical worship.

All Orthodox believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible. And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds; God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God; begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made. .... etc,


Okay, stop-stop . . . uncle!!! . . . you got me, I concede.

I guess I will need to send an email to Abouna Peter Farrington and the good doctor John Charmley and tell them to come back because, just as we make no distinction about "The Protestants" in our discussions here, we have dropped all modifiers and we make no distinction in our conversations about "The Orthodox" and "The Orthodox Church." Oh, shoot, and let's not forget about our friends in the North American Orthodox group and the American Catholic Orthodox, they will want to know.

#46 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 06 January 2012 - 08:55 PM

However I do not think it unfair or inappropriate to point out certain gnostic similarities to certain teachings endemic to many Protestant groups.

Let's not get too "politically correct" here please. It is fine to express an opinion but it is starting to sound like certain parties are trying to shut down dialog. Let's be careful about calling people "nutty" and ignorant please.

#47 Rick H.

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Posted 06 January 2012 - 09:03 PM

However I do not think it unfair or inappropriate to point out certain gnostic similarities to certain teachings endemic to many Protestant groups.


I have no problem with anyone doing this. So far I think it has been an embarrassing experience for anyone who has tried . . .

Would it be inappropriate to point out certain gnostic similarities to certain teachings of the various Orthodox groups that make up Orthodoxy?

Actually, there is a real conversation starter here for any who read closely.


Okay, no more "nutty." How about "prepostorous as a fruit-cake?"

(cleaning eye glasses) Did you just say please?

#48 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 06 January 2012 - 09:53 PM

I happen to like fruitcake. How exactly can a fruitcake be "preposterous" anyway? But let us try to refrain from applying possibly inappropriate "labels" to other people's opinions, OK? Pretty please with fruitcake on top?

Herman

#49 Rick H.

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Posted 06 January 2012 - 10:15 PM

If you analyze it then a fruitcake can not really be preposterous and all hope for humor is lost. You just kind of have to go with it . . . like "pretty please with fruitcake on top." See, I read that and laughed and thought to myself, stop your killin' me. I didn't wonder what the fruitcake was on top of. Maybe it would have helped you if you would have first ate a half of a pan of no-bake cookies (like I did right before I composed this last one). If you would have done that, and the sugar buzz would have kicked in at the right time, the preposterous fruitcake would have been hilarious and you might have sat in you office too and laughed hysterically, as I did, as you considered the whole train of thought here and the substituting of the word preposterous in the above expression for that one n-word we are not supposed to use about other peoples opinions (and which I for one will never use again about anyone else's opinion for as long as I live--so help me Bob).

#50 Anna Stickles

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Posted 07 January 2012 - 02:24 AM

Okay, stop-stop . . . uncle!!! . . . you got me, I concede.

I guess I will need to send an email to Abouna Peter Farrington and the good doctor John Charmley and tell them to come back because, just as we make no distinction about "The Protestants" in our discussions here, we have dropped all modifiers and we make no distinction in our conversations about "The Orthodox" and "The Orthodox Church." Oh, shoot, and let's not forget about our friends in the North American Orthodox group and the American Catholic Orthodox, they will want to know.


Rick,

You have touched here on precisely how to have some balance in these conversations rather then getting all fruity. In a conversation about the differences between PC and OC we can talk about things like liturgy and sacraments, Scripture and Tradition, etc. In conversations about OC and OO we can talk about natures and persons and such not. I wouldn't have a clue what the distinctions are between schismatic OC in America and canononical, but the point is we add the modifiers according to the context of the conversation. We don't have to have all of them at once or drop them entirely.

In conversations about gnosticism and PC, which is really outside the scope of this forum anyway, one would add modifiers and discuss differences that are relevant to this context.

I protest against your sweeping generalization that

all discussion of "the Protestant Church" or "the Orthodox church"
-- causes confusion / gets in the way

-- is a careless way of discussing

-- is uniformed

-- is to operate from a place of ignorance and it breeds ignorance


If people are informed and careful, listen to each other, and are willing to work a little at allowing for the unspoken context of what is being said, it can be done. If people are not informed and careful, if they allow no slack for or are unwilling to work at listening to the unspoken context then confusion results.

Really, I do sympathize with being bothered by
--sloppy labeling and generalizations in which people have not really bothered to intelligently seek out the real distinctions and similarities.

-- with the fact that we often don't listen to each other,

--that some of us are so wrapped up in our own opinions we can't step out of our own mindset enough to have the respect and consideration to adapt to another person's assumptions and unspoken context,

But it is nutty, (whoops I mean fruity???) to make the sweeping generalization that "It would be chaos to talk about what the Orthodox believe and think and do (especially with those small Orthodox groups that are not in communion with anyone. "

What you are saying is that all of us are incapable of being careful, intelligent, and informed, and respectful listeners ..... Oh... maybe you have a point after all. ...

Anna - who is often lazy, uniformed and carelessly throwing labels around, and having trouble listening....

#51 Rick H.

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Posted 07 January 2012 - 03:15 AM

I'm starting to get tired for the day Anna, but in your post above it looks to me like you have taken more than one of my posts and cut and pasted them to make one block quote to say what I didn't say . . . and then you protest this.

Here is what I wrote (and it is different than what you are showing in the block quote of your post):


To speak of "The Protestants" or to speak of something that is called a "Protestant Church" is nutty. It:


-- causes confusion / gets in the way

-- is a careless way of discussing

-- is uniformed

-- is to operate from a place of ignorance and it breeds ignorance



As Ryan has said, to use the term protestant just gets in the way of serious discussion.

The great majority of the time, the way I see the term protestant used here is in order to dismiss, or reject, or vilify and this most of the time by folks who do not even have a survey level knowledge of what they speak about.

I guess this makes sense. People who don't know what they are talking about need a broad term to hide behind and hide the fact that when pressed only a mish-mash or an incomplete answer can be offered instead of accurate and substantive content.

So the term protestant can be a punching bag and a security blanket. But, it is not a meaningful term to be used anymore for "serious" discussion.

I guess this kind of thing goes on in all faith traditions and denominations. I have been in groups where the Catholics bash the Baptists and call them Bap'teests and don't have the faintest idea what they are talking about . . . I've been in groups where the independent Baptists (especially 'trail of blood' and 'sword of the lord' types who think they are the only one's who make up the Bride of Christ) will bash just about everyone else, even though they don't have a clue what they are talking about . . . now I am in an Orthodox group who likes to hold up "The Protestants" and teach everyone what "they" believe and . . . okay that's enough.

I think from now on I will start challenging the mish-mash and rhetoric on this forum as it relates to this imaginary PC or Protestant Church when it comes up in the threads. It has always surprised me how often non-Orthodox Christian groups are brought up here on the patristic and monastic Orthodox website. There are a lot of 'converts' here, actually I think it is the converts who want to keep brining it up more than the cradle Orthodox. Actually, come to think of it, many of the cradle Orthodox here openly admit that they don't know much about the non-Orthodox Christians and they do not try to pretend like they do. There are a few that do, but come to think of it most cradles are humble and do not do this here. Maybe the "converts" keep bringing it up to reassure themselves or distance or continually disassociate themselves from their former denominations.

I think you speak of the PC more than anyone here Anna. Do you really think there is such a thing as The Protestant Church? Like there is some sort of unified group that is in communion with each other and is in agreement on the important things?

If you do really think this (and you are not just using them as a punching bag or something else) . . . then possibly you can talk about the beliefs of The Protestant Church in terms of things like their doctrine of soteriology and other key aspects of their theology.

What is the soteriology of the PC Anna?

PS We can talk about the Ecclesiology of the Protestant Church next and go from there. Maybe I will be perusaded that there really is a Protetant Church out there just like there is an Orthodox Church or a Catholic Church.

Edited by Rick H., 07 January 2012 - 04:09 AM.


#52 Bryan J. Maloney

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Posted 07 January 2012 - 05:06 PM

Here is what I have seen among "protestants":
Gnosticism
Arianism
Nestorianism
Arminianism
Anti-arminianism
Semi-arminianism
Pelagianism
Sola Scriptura--self evident, no church needed.
Sola Scriptura--only as one protestant group interprets it, a church is needed.
Bibliotry--yes, some protestants actually have told me that Scripture is the Divine Logos in physical form.
Modalism
Monism
Monarchism
Double Predestination
Limited Atonement

The list could go on, including heresies that never have been given formal names.

I've seen parishes where opposing heresies were held by different members of the same parish. I've seen individuals who held opposing heresies depending upon the moment and would switch between them. What I have never seen is every protestant parish espousing any single one of these heresies. Protestantism is a very mixed bag, with little to no doctrinal filtering. Individual protestant groups might tend toward particular heresies, but they don't get imposed as formal sect doctrine.

There is no such thing as "the Protestant Church". There are multiple churches that can be classified as "protestant".

#53 Rick H.

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Posted 07 January 2012 - 05:24 PM

There is no such thing as "the Protestant Church".



Thank you Bryan for your post. Yes, of course there is no such thing as the PC or Protestant Church . . . that is preposterous.


There are multiple churches that can be classified as "protestant".



If we can come to agreement that there is no such thing as the PC or Protestant Church, then I would like to examine this second statement closer.

#54 Paul Cowan

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Posted 07 January 2012 - 05:37 PM

I'm going to regret jumping in this...

Would the "Protestant Church" not be defined as any church that has "protested" against the one true church and because of this stance of rejecting Orthodox beliefs they can be labeled as the "protest-ant" church? I'm not trying to be funny. But as Bryan's list above shows, every protest-ant church has readopted every heresy the Orthodox church has condemned. Labels abound and everything in this world is lableable. So what would we call this morphous mass of believers if their very practise and belief systems don't do it for them?

Paul

#55 Anna Stickles

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Posted 07 January 2012 - 05:49 PM

I don't know what you mean Anna. I am talking about the specific instance, here, where a very large and varied body of Christian currents is being labeled, collectively, a "modern form of gnosticism." Do you think this labeling is valid and useful? If so, why?

I think we can label most of the western theologies gnostic in a similar way that we might say "that man is a bear" We don't mean he has hair and four legs, we do mean he is strong, aggressive, etc....
So when I say that most Protestant theologies are gnostic what I mean is that they end up denying to any significant degree, the need for the sanctification of the material creation.

I do not mean that they believe, like most gnostics, that the material creation is intrinsically evil and can not be saved. In fact for the most part western theology is exactly opposite. It accepts material creation in its present form as being made by God and therefore by nature good. Therefore, the whole idea of the sanctification of the material creation is kind of a black box.

Orthodoxy teaches that the material creation in its present form is fallen - radically fallen - to the degree that we can hardly imagine what life was like in paradise. The Fathers teach that the bodies of Adam and Eve, and in fact the whole material creation at that time was less material, more immaterial then what we see now. The physical laws were radically different because there was not corruption or death. The salvation and sanctification of the material creation is an integrated part of what we are talking about when we talk about God's divine econonmy of salvation.

#56 Rick H.

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Posted 07 January 2012 - 05:50 PM

Would the "Protestant Church" not be defined as any church that has "protested" against the one true church and because of this stance of rejecting Orthodox beliefs they can be labeled as the "protest-ant" church?


I'm glad you jumped in Paul, this shows the madness of the whole thing because under a definition like this the Roman Catholics are "protestants."


As far as the second part of your post goes, I will cut and paste this along with Bryan's part "b" above if we can get that far.

#57 Paul Cowan

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Posted 07 January 2012 - 06:05 PM

I'm glad you jumped in Paul, this shows the madness of the whole thing because under a definition like this the Roman Catholics are "protestants."


Well....?

Are you saying its madness becuase I jumped in or because RC's could never be called a protest-ant church?

#58 Rick H.

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Posted 07 January 2012 - 06:11 PM

Definitely the latter! :0)

#59 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 07 January 2012 - 06:20 PM

The Protestant Church, does indeed define itself in a manner that allows classification as a homogenous group. They define themselves, so why can't we?

My favorite definition was found in a Protestant Bible Concordance I used to have:
  • Roman Catholicism: Early Christianity mixed with Roman Paganism
  • Greek Catholicism [sic]: Early Christianity mixed with Greek Paganism
  • Protestantism: Early Christianity without the paganism
Protestantism can be classified. It is a question of authority. We know the source of Catholic authority. We know the source of Orthodox authority. Protestant sources of authority are something else entirely. They do not accept the same authority as either the Catholics or the Orthodox. It is whatever they want it to be. For some it is "the Bible", for others it is a group or synod, for many others it is a personality cult, the authority is nothing more than the personality "elected" to run the group. It is interesting, I think, that every Protestant group can point to one single individual who "started" them. It all goes back to that one person and generally that person is someone who came along much later than Christ. Authority ultimately means "me" since I can choose whichever Protestant flavor "tastes" best.

Is every Protestant a crypto-gnostic? Probably not, but many are without knowing it. Knowing what gnosticism is helps one to recognize it when it does rear its ugly head, and I know that it has done so in certain Orthodox circles as well. There are Orthodox who are crypto-gnostics without knowing it. But knowing it helps us avoid it.

Beyond that, it is indeed probably less than helpful to answer the original question that started this thread directly, other than to say that it is based on a false premise or at least an incorrect one. Protestantism and gnosticism are not synonymous. To think in these terms is too constraining and does indeed limit our ability to dialog although I use the term "dialog" in a limited fashion myself. I don't think we need to exchange "ideas" or concepts with Protestantism, we merely need to be ready to defend the hope in us. But that might just be me.

Herman the dialogous Pooh

Edited by Herman Blaydoe, 07 January 2012 - 06:22 PM.
added thoughts


#60 Rick H.

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Posted 07 January 2012 - 06:27 PM

They define themselves, so why can't we?



More excellent fodder for part "b" if we ever get to it.

I wonder if you know how many of the non-Orthodox Christian groups in America will deny vehemently that they ever came out of the Roman Catholic Church? IF we DO define these groups as they define themselves then there's no way we can call them protestants without giving them a label that they themselves reject.

Especially two of the groups I mentioned above, you better take your shield and your sword if you want to try to tell them they came out of the Roman Catholic Church as a result of Luther and the other Reformers of that day.

Even the one's that do (see above post where Luthern is saying we don't believe what you said we believe), cannot be lumped together as if they were one Protestant Church. Even with these it causes confusion to try to lump them together and talk about what "they" believe.

One can generalize and sterotype all one wants to but it is not too smart to do this especially when it comes to religion.




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