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Sincere questions about ecumenism from a convert


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#1 Beckett

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Posted 22 January 2012 - 07:12 AM

Thank you for considering my questions and concerns. Please bear with me.


I was raised a reformed calvinist in the same "tradition" as Frank Schaeffer.


Over the last 10 years I've been moving towards Orthodoxy without really knowing it. It started when I discovered that the early Church practiced paedo-communion (often called infant communion in Orthodoxy) about 10 years ago. For me, the practice of paedo-communion is far more important that it is (even) to most Orthodox. I consider the eucharistic meal to be the heart of the Church in every sense. That issue was the first that brought Orthodoxy onto my radar. The communion of Churches I have been in practices paedo-communion. One of the few protestant denominations that has as high a view of communion as the Orthodox.


Anyway, long story short, I was about to convert to Orthodoxy until a few days ago when I stumbled upon information regarding the involvement of large segments of the Orthodox Church in ecumenism. Including the Ecumenical Patriarch.


It wouldn't be an understatement to say that this has been a scandal for me. I immediately became skeptical. The Church seems to be disobeying its own canons, and its state belief that it is the Church.


I always thought it was interesting that Orthodox people never seemed to really care if I became Orthodox, or not. It sort of make sense in light of the fact that the Ecumenical Patriarch has made statements to the effect that the Orthodox Church doesn't proselytize, and refuses to proselytize "religions who worship God in a different manner." (e.g., Islam and Judaism) (http://patriarchate....tinuity-Renewel)


I'm far from being an expert in Orthodox teaching on this subject. So, I've come to this forum seeking help in understanding whether, or not, the Orthodox Church's involvement in the ecumenical movement, and the "inter-faith" movement, should worry me. Their involvement appears to contradict their own canons, and (of course) the New Testament emphasis on evangelism.


I've tried to listen to some podcasts at Ancient Faith radio on the subject, but the hosts failed to reference the relevant canons, the Holy Fathers, and the Bible. Instead they merely leveled platitudes about 'peace', and 'dialogue'. Don't get me wrong, I'm all about peace, and dialogue, but I'm not going to sit in a Church while pagans perform witchcraft ceremonies in front of me in an inter-faith worship service. (Something the Ecumenical Patriarch, or maybe it was His representatives, did.) I'm certainly not going to pray with muslims at a muslim feast and the rejoice in it afterwards as Patriarch Bartholomew did recently.


Am I wrong to be worried about these issues?

THanks for your time.
Mr. B.

#2 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 22 January 2012 - 02:08 PM

The best way to deal with such issues is for each of us to adopt a truly Orthodox way of life ourselves. Otherwise without noticing it we attack the wrong issues- which should be the disposition of our own hearts in relation to Christ and His Church.

This is an issue that has always been of great importance to me. But over the years I have changed my approach greatly so that nowadays I rarely preach (or even talk on the personal level with others) about it. Again- this issue is very important to the life of the Church. But at this point I believe that the best approach is to keep addressing the need to more seriously ground ourselves in the Faith. And then everything else- including ecumenism- falls into its correct place.

Apart from this- on the practical level. Since I have been around in the Church for about 30 years or more now. Ecumenism in its more crass, unthought out forms is nowadays very rare compared to let's say the 1970s. Now it is much more frequent to find those within the Church who understand the uniqueness of Christ's Body. However we also must be very careful since none of this prohibits us with meeting with or being friendly towards other Christians if this is done in proper measure. Just attending an ecumenical meeting does not necessarily mean that person is an ecumenist (ie denies the uniqueness of the Church). Although I grant that it is the meetings where one must be most careful since the attraction to please others seems to be the strongest temptation; and this only increases as the participation is of those who are higher in the hierarchy- here the temptations of power and being accepted by noteworthy people of influence also comes into effect.

Anyway- the fact that there's plenty of active discussion about this topic shows that surely there's a lot of hope for us!

In Christ
-Fr Raphael

#3 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 22 January 2012 - 02:26 PM

The Church is more than, and cannot be limited or attenuated in its truth in any way by, any one jurisdiction or the leader for the time being of any jurisdiction, or by this or that hierarch. For the opinion of the current incumbent of the Ecumenical Throne and any bishop who supports his view, you will find others (especially in Russia but also in Cyprus and elsewhere) who hold strongly anti-ecumenist views. Patriarch's come and go - some were saints and some were heretics, but the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church goes on, and the gates of hell cannot prevail against it, much less a passing fad for ecumenism in the worse sense of that term.

#4 Kyrill Bolton

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Posted 22 January 2012 - 03:11 PM

I have to agree with both Andreas and Fr Raphael but I do know that the true Church will always prevail. This was said by Christ and confirmed so many times over the past 2000 years. You have to remember that from one man starting the Church, then through only 12 (plus or minus those who were around Him) to millions over the past centuries. The Church in the world may look as if it is in a tenuous position but look back in history to say the time of St. Maximos and it will appear that we are presently standing on the top of Mt. Everest (or at least Mt. Athos). As Alfred would say, "What me worry?"

If I do get too morose about the state of the body of Christ I come back to an analogy that I carry with me. I am but one small cell in the body of Christ along with enumerable others. I may get sick but the anti-bodies in the true body will either cure me or destroy me so that the entire body can strive. Likewise, if a cell becomes cancerous and metastasizes the true body can heal or destroy the cancer.

As Father said I must live my life to please only God not man.

Come and join the rest of us sinners and watch the healing in you and in the body of Christ! (Got a better invitation?)

#5 Aidan Kimel

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Posted 22 January 2012 - 05:59 PM

I was raised a reformed calvinist in the same "tradition" as Frank Schaeffer. ... Anyway, long story short, I was about to convert to Orthodoxy until a few days ago when I stumbled upon information regarding the involvement of large segments of the Orthodox Church in ecumenism. Including the Ecumenical Patriarch. ... It wouldn't be an understatement to say that this has been a scandal for me. I immediately became skeptical. The Church seems to be disobeying its own canons, and its state belief that it is the Church.


Dear Mr. Beckett,

Fr Raphael has given you wise and sound counsel. I hope you will ruminate on what he has written and heed his advice.

I would like you to think of becoming Orthodox as learning a foreign language. How does one learn a language? One way to do so is to take classes, as many of us did in in junior high and high school. I took Spanish for five years. I never really learned the language. I can still recite from memory the first ALM dialogue that I was taught in the 7th grade ("Hola, Isabel, como estas?"), but that's about it. Some of my fellow students were more successful at learning Spanish than I, but few gained fluency just by taking the classes. Those who did typically did so by spending time in a foreign country and immersing themselves in the culture. I remember my next door neighbor who began studying French in junior high. In high school she was given an opportunity to spend the summer in France. When she came back, she could speak French fluently. She found it all very difficult, she said, until one night she dreamed in French. The next morning the language flowed from her, to her great delight and the delight of her French hosts.

A language needs to be internalized in order for fluency to be attained. And the growth in fluency, of course, never stops. There is always more vocabulary and grammatical and syntactical nuances to learn. Learning a foreign language is a life-time endeavor.

You are just at the beginning of learning the Orthodox language. I do not know how well acquainted you are with Orthodoxy (what books and writings you have read, how many liturgies and offices you have attended and prayed, etc.); but the fact is, you are still very much at the periphery of Orthodox life. You are not yet immersed in Orthodox culture and therefore have not yet acquired an Orthodox mind (neither have I, by the way). You are not yet fluent.

Hence, when you speak of being scandalized by Orthodox with ecumenical commitments, I would like to respectfully suggest that you are not in a position to accurately judge. I come back again to the analogy of learning a language. It's one thing to read a book containing the rules of grammar; it's quite a different matter to have internalized this rules in such a way that one immediately knows when someone else is speaking ungrammatically. Knowing the rules from a book is not the same as knowing them from the inside, as it were, i.e., as one who speaks the language fluently and therefore is in a position to recognize when the language is spoken improperly.

The intra-Orthodox debate about ecumenism is similar to a debate about grammar. Some Orthodox believe that it violates the grammatical structure of the Orthodox language; others believe that it flows naturally from that structure. But until you have internalized this structure, you really are not in a position to even have an opinion and you're certainly not in a position to be scandalized. Merely citing canons, for example, is unhelpful; because canons need to be interpreted and applied, and the Orthodox have their own way of doing so. The canons of the Church need to be read with an Orthodox mind in an Orthodox spirit.

Mr. Beckett, you mention that you were a former Calvinist influenced by the writings of Francis Schaeffer. I read some of his books a lifetime ago. Becoming Orthodox for you will involve many years of unlearning, not just unlearning the particulars of Schaeffer's theology but unlearning the way the way you were taught to do and think theology. Perhaps most importantly, it will mean unlearning the implicit sectarianism that is at the heart of Schaefferite Christianity. Orthodoxy is not a sect. She is the Church. It's probably impossible for me to articulate the difference, but so much hinges on this difference. The difference can only be learned by becoming fluent in Orthodoxy. Some converts, alas, never learn the difference, as more than one Orthodox priest has told me.

I read through the letter you cite from the Ecumenical Patriarch. I think you may have misinterpreted it. I do not believe that the Patriarch is guilty of the sins of which you accuse him; but even if he were, he is only one hierarch. It's hardly the case that we Orthodox have no experience with heretical bishops and patriarchs. Why should one more be decisive for you?

Have you given the Orthodox case for ecumenism a fair hearing? Here are a couple of good places to begin:

Fr Georges Florovsky, "The Limits of the Church"

Met John Zizioulas, "The Self-Understanding of the Orthodox"

Met Kallistos Ware, "Receptive Ecumenism"

Before condemning the Orthodox involvement in the ecumenical movement, it is important for you to understand why those who have been and are involved in this movement over the past century believe that their involvement flows naturally and grammatically from Orthodox ecclesiological understanding. Some Orthodox, including many on this forum, may strongly disagree with the positions advanced by Florovsky, Zizioulas, and Ware. After long reflection may too come to share in that dissent. But what is crucial to understand is that this is a intra-Orthodox debate. It is not a debate between Orthodox and heretics.

And so I return to Fr Raphael's wise counsel: "The best way to deal with such issues is for each of us to adopt a truly Orthodox way of life ourselves. Otherwise without noticing it we attack the wrong issues- which should be the disposition of our own hearts in relation to Christ and His Church."

In Christ,
Fr Aidan

#6 Beckett

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Posted 22 January 2012 - 08:14 PM

Thank you all for your responses, I found them all very helpful. Fr. Aiden, I greatly appreciate your forthrightness and I completely understand where you're coming from. I've heard the same from my local priest(s), and I'm very anxious to attenuate my thinking to Orthodoxy. I hope that my conversations hear will be helpful toward that end.

I will be back later to ask a couple more questions.

#7 Kosta

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Posted 23 January 2012 - 04:50 AM

I'm totally against ecumenism and share your concerns. The EP is in a tough situation trying to remain relevant while facing extinction, so naturally he's tryng to make allies. I disagree with his approach and have been outspoken about it. There are bishops who have spoken out against ecumenism and are not afraid to call out the heterodox for their heresies my favorite being Metropolitan Seraphim of Piraeus Greece.

#8 Stephen Hayes

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Posted 23 January 2012 - 05:28 AM

I always thought it was interesting that Orthodox people never seemed to really care if I became Orthodox, or not. It sort of make sense in light of the fact that the Ecumenical Patriarch has made statements to the effect that the Orthodox Church doesn't proselytize, and refuses to proselytize "religions who worship God in a different manner." (e.g., Islam and Judaism) (http://patriarchate....tinuity-Renewel)


There is an important distinction between evangelism and proselytism.

When we evangelise we tell others the good news of Jesus Christ. When we proselytise, we trumpet the virtues of a religious organisation that we belong to, and denounce all others. In doing that, we degrade the Church from its Divine calling, and turn it into a human organisation with power and prestige to maintain. More on the difference between evangelism and proselytism here http://www.orthodoxy...om/evanpros.htm

#9 Dan McGhee

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Posted 23 January 2012 - 05:54 AM

I have struggled and prayed for the better part of twelve hours on whether I should reply to this topic or not. I do not know the source of my hesitation, but I do know that the original post and the responses struck me levels so deep I am not yet able to articulate them. I think I, and maybe many others, react viscerally when something "leans up against" a personal touchstone, something by which an individual "measures" the world. I monitor and participate in this forum because I wonder if there really is a difference between Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism.

To continue Fr. Aidan's wonderful language analogy, I am quite fluent in Roman Catholicism, but I am still on Chapter 1 of my "Orthodox Primer." Mr. Beckett in his original post expresses powerful negative reactions to the Orthodox Church's participation in ecumenism. I have experienced similar reaction in Roman Catholicism. When I was in grade school and high school, I was taught that "real" Baptism does not exist outside the "One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church." Today that is not the "official" position of the Church of Rome. I can also say that it is a purely canonical position.

At this point I am tempted to produce an "scholarly paper" complete with bibliography and footnotes. But this is not the venue for something like that.

Fr. Aidan suggested three sources for a beginning of the study of ecumenism in orthodoxy. In reading those I found many poignant thoughts. What I did not find was a Christological focus in trying to determine the exact nature of the relationship between those whose faith base is different from others. I think this is the danger. Many profess to be Christians yet when they discuss Christianity they don't include Him. That is why I think Fr. Raphael's advice to adopt a truly "Orthodox way of life" is the key. I pray daily that My Lord, Jesus, enlightens me with the knowledge of his Will, instills in me His love and gives me the courage to act accordingly. I hope this is similar to what Fr. Raphael is recommending.

I am reading a wonderful book. "Jesus of Nazareth," was written by Joseph Ratzinger. He just happens to be the Bishop of Rome. I'm not being sarcastic. He wrote this as a biblical scholar and theologian and not as Pope Benedict XVI. I recommend this book to anyone, regardless of faith base, who wants to "know Jesus." He articulately exposes the concerns I have about ecumenism and modern theology. Please forgive my lengthy quote.

About the parable of the Pharisee and Tax Collector (Publican), found in Lk 18:9-14, he says:

The Pharisee can boast considerable virtues; he tells God only about himself, and he thinks he is praising God in praising himself. The tax collector knows he has sinned, he knows he cannot boast before God, and he prays in full awareness of his debt to grace. Does this mean, then, that the Pharisee represents ethics and the tax collector represents grace without ethics or even in opposition to ethics? The real point is not the question "ethics--yes or no?" but that there are two ways of relating to God and to oneself. The Pharisee does not really look at God at all, but only at himself; he does not really need God, because he does everything right by himself. He has no real relation to God, who is ultimately superfluous--what he does himself is enough. Man makes himself righteous. The tax collector, by contrast, sees himself in the light of God. He has looked toward God, and in the process his eyes have been opened to see himself. So he knows that he needs God and that he lives by God's goodness, which he cannot force God to give him and which he cannot procure for himself. He knows that he needs mercy and so he will learn from God's mercy to become merciful himself, and thereby to become like God. He draws life from being-in-relation, from receiving all as gift; he will always need the gift of goodness, of forgiveness, but in receiving it he will always learn to pass the gift on to others. The grace for which he prays does not dispense him from ethics. It is what makes him truly capable of doing good in the first place. He needs God, and because he recognizes that, he begins through God's goodness to become good himself. Ethics is not denied; it is freed from the constraints of moralism and set in the context of a relationship of love--of relationship to God....


I think that the "Jesus Prayer" is modeled after the words of the tax collector in this parable. Additionally, I look at myself as one of the cells of the Mystical Body as Mr. Bolton describes. I rely on the other cells and hope they can count on me. If I live according to the quote I just presented, I hope I am living by Fr. Raphael's recommendation. If this pervades the whole body, then we are united.

For me there is one last point. If this is exclusionary and divisive, I apologize. This is however at the root and core of my beliefs. "Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life and I will raise him up on the last day....He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me and I in him." (Jn 6:54-56)

Thank you to all you have allowed me to be passionate.

In the love of the Incarnate Word,
Dan

#10 Beckett

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Posted 23 January 2012 - 08:02 AM

There is an important distinction between evangelism and proselytism.

When we evangelise we tell others the good news of Jesus Christ. When we proselytise, we trumpet the virtues of a religious organisation that we belong to, and denounce all others. In doing that, we degrade the Church from its Divine calling, and turn it into a human organisation with power and prestige to maintain. More on the difference between evangelism and proselytism here http://www.orthodoxy...om/evanpros.htm


Stephen,

So, you're saying that that's how the EP was using the word proselytize? By the way, your definition isn't to be found in any dictionaries. Most dictionaries will say: To attempt to convert someone from one religion to another.

Keep in mind that the EP made that statement just before he said that the Jews to which he was speaking "worship the same God in a different manner."

Am I wrong to be concerned by this sort of language.

PS. I'm going to read some of his other documents later. I'll let you know when I come up with similar statements.

#11 Ilaria

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Posted 23 January 2012 - 08:22 AM

Dear Mr Beckett,
I remember a story from Essex monastery about a new convert, who also embraced priesthood, under guidance of elder Sophrony. Well, it came such an opportunity that he went to Jerusalem for some time. While being there, a certain scandal rose in the Jerusalem patriarchate - I cannot remember the subject; anyway, not the first, nor the last :). Father Sophrony, as well as other hieromonks from the monastery, began to wonder: how would react the new convert? what if if he did not yet became 'fluent in orthodoxy', as father Aidan said? so the time came that he turned back to the monastery, in England; he did not mention a word about that scandal. After some time, one of his closed friends from the monastery, while speaking about Jerusalem, asked him: 'have you heard about that particular scandal, how did you perceive it?' 'well, he replied, this have convinced me that I am in the Church.'

I was about to convert to Orthodoxy until a few days ago when I stumbled upon information regarding the involvement of large segments of the Orthodox Church in ecumenism. Including the Ecumenical Patriarch


I am wondering if this information about ecumenism, came randomly to you, exactly few days before your decision to convert...what do you think?

#12 Kusanagi

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Posted 23 January 2012 - 10:58 AM

You actually worry too much about the going ons up in the Church Hierarchy.
If you convert you do so because you feel it is right for you. Any external factors should not influence your final decision if you are really sincere and firm in your decision to embrace the Orthodox faith. God will make the path smooth.

#13 Niko T.

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Posted 23 January 2012 - 12:48 PM

The Church Fathers always approached matters of Dogma, Canons and relations throughout the Church with great humility, prayer and care. An ideal example is the Fourth Ecumenical Council, in which they turned to Christ and His saints for guidance in their discussions.

I don't know if you have yet come across the positions of Elders Joseph the Hesychast, Ephraim of Katounakia, Paisius the Athonite, Philotheus Zervakos, St. Justin Popovitch, etc. online. These individuals were grace-filled Elders, and many perceive them as modern saints, so their witness is particularly pertinent. Though an individual's perspective on this issue (even if he is a saint) must always be seen cautiously, one begins to see a trend and unity among them and others: they were intensely critical of ecumenism, and yet, they did not perceive as the developments that have occurred yet as being worthy of separating one's self from the Church.

#14 James B.

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Posted 23 January 2012 - 02:03 PM

I am in a similar position as the OP~some of us from an evangelical background can be hesitant "signing aboard" because it can give the appearance of "endorsing" the actions of the leaders.

What draws me to Orthodoxy/Catholicism are the saints and not the organizational machines...I'm reading through St Silouan and learning about the battles within-pride vs humility; easier to look and judge everyone else's issues rather than my own and I think that is a bit at what the Fathers above are pointing towards.

#15 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 23 January 2012 - 03:00 PM

Leaders? Leaders implies some sort of organization. We don't belong to any organized religion, we're Orthodox! And yet we do manage to maintain a consistant understanding of the Apostolic Witness that has not changed appreciably despite language, culture, geography or time.

There have been, are now and will be bishops that are good, bad, or indifferent, but Orthodoxy has no single point of failure. The Holy Spirit truely guides the Church in a divinely miraculous manner, despite (sometimes) our best efforts to mess things up. To God be the glory!

#16 James B.

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Posted 23 January 2012 - 03:46 PM

Leaders? Leaders implies some sort of organization. We don't belong to any organized religion, we're Orthodox! And yet we do manage to maintain a consistant understanding of the Apostolic Witness that has not changed appreciably despite language, culture, geography or time.

There have been, are now and will be bishops that are good, bad, or indifferent, but Orthodoxy has no single point of failure. The Holy Spirit truely guides the Church in a divinely miraculous manner, despite (sometimes) our best efforts to mess things up. To God be the glory!


I attend SBC~there's no one over the pastor 'cept the deacons. There is no bishop or metropolitan for us so yes from my humble angle you do have an organization lol though not heavy as the Catholic folks.

#17 Dan McGhee

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Posted 23 January 2012 - 04:25 PM

What draws me to Orthodoxy/Catholicism are the saints and not the organizational machines...I'm reading through St Silouan and learning about the battles within-pride vs humility; easier to look and judge everyone else's issues rather than my own and I think that is a bit at what the Fathers above are pointing towards.


You have eloquently, and much more succinctly, expressed what I was attempting to do in my previous ruminations. My point is that, in my experience, both ecumenism and proselytizing generally come from the "organizational machines" and not from hearts centered in Jesus Christ--in love. The majority of the responders in this thread have expressed this idea in many different ways. When Jesus opens our hearts, the Spirit flows in and God reveals Himself more fully. On the other hand, when this happens, the Evil One fights back and doubts, fears and stubbornness clouds our hearts. I think that this was the point Mr. Ilaria was making.

Here's an example of "organizational machine ecumenism" from my own experience. There is a beautiful hymn used at Mass entitled "Yahweh, I Know You are Near." Two years ago, "official" word came down that forbade the use of the word "Yahweh" in any liturgy in the Roman Catholic Church. This was done in the spirit of ecumenism and in an effort not to offend "our Jewish brothers who are forbidden to use that name." From a practical standpoint, and in my cynical and sarcastic way, I have never seen a Jewish person who is not Catholic at Mass to be offended. As a result, the "power" of that hymn is lost. This is why I say, as you and Mr.Beckett have, I am concerned about ecumenism, and its lack, in Roman Catholicism and other faith bases.

Protestants, Catholics and Orthodox all use the same Bible and have received the same Gospel. Jews acknowledge all but the New Testament. We worship the same God and have the same salvation history. We all have a lot to learn from one another, but cannot learn if we don't listen and our hearts are not open.

I applaud your interest in the lives of the saints and acknowledge your concerns. I recommend praying. In the end, I would love to see you moved to Orthodoxy or Catholicism simply because of each group's participation in the "Lamb's Supper." It is just as well, without accepting either of these, that you form a deeper love of and commitment to our Triune God.

Grace and peace to you,
Dan

#18 Father David Moser

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Posted 23 January 2012 - 04:41 PM

The EP is in a tough situation trying to remain relevant while facing extinction, so naturally he's tryng to make allies.


Kosta makes a very important point here. Everything from the EP has to be read with an awareness that Constantinople (now called Istanbul) is a diocese under siege (if not outright captivity) and thus her statements must be carefully worded and are often filled with contradictory and compromising statements.

This is not unlike the statements and actions that emanated from the Moscow Patriarchate during the Soviet years. The free part of the Russian Church (ROCOR) and the part of the Russian Church in captivity (MP) were often at odds and it took a very discerning ear to hear the untainted core of the Orthodox faith under the weight of the chains of captivity - but it was there. With the fall of the Soviet Union and the release of the Church from its chains of captivity, that Orthodoxy sprang back to life almost overnight and the Moscow Patriarchate became a powerful witness of Orthodoxy again, no longer encumbered by its chains of political captivity.

The EP is in a no less dire situation here and thus much of what is said and done must be understood through the lens of great discernment and a deep awareness of the Orthodox faith. The light of Orthodoxy is still there, but it is muffled and smothered and distorted by the chains of political captivity that are imposed by the Turkish government and the "secular moslem" society around it.

Fr David Moser

#19 Beckett

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Posted 23 January 2012 - 09:05 PM

Thank you all for your responses. I greatly appreciate it.


Let me be very clear. I am primarily concerned with the spiritual wellbeing of myself, and my family. The "healing of our souls" if you will. Our faithfulness to God. That is why I have been studying scripture, and theology, for nearly 20 years - both as a layperson and a seminarian. My interest in these issues has nothing to do with a desire to argue, or ruffle feathers. Please believe me.


The New Testament and the early Church taught that there is no salvation outside of the Church, and that the Spirit is not outside the Church, and it is for that reason that would like to make sure that I am IN that Church.


"Be not deceived, my brethren: If anyone follows a maker of schism [i.e., is a schismatic], he does not inherit the kingdom of God; if anyone walks in strange doctrine [i.e., is a heretic], he has no part in the passion [of Christ]. Take care, then, to use one Eucharist, so that whatever you do, you do according to God: For there is one flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ, and one cup in the union of his blood; one altar, as there is one bishop, with the presbytery and my fellow servants, the deacons"
Ignatius of Antioch, Letter to the Philadelphians [A.D. 110]


"In the Church God has placed apostles, prophets, teachers, and every other working of the Spirit, of whom none of those are sharers who do not conform to the Church, but who defraud themselves of life by an evil mind and even worse way of acting. Where the Church is, there is the Spirit of God; where the Spirit of God is, there is the Church and all grace."
Irenaeus, Against Heresies [A.D. 189]


"If someone from this people wants to be saved, let him come into this house so that he may be able to attain his salvation. . . . Let no one, then, be persuaded otherwise, nor let anyone deceive himself: Outside of this house, that is, outside of the Church, no one is saved"; for, if anyone should go out of it, he is guilty of his own death."
Origen, Homilies on Joshua 3:5 [A.D. 250]


"Let them not think that the way of life or salvation exists for them, if they have refused to obey the bishops and priests, since the Lord says in the book of Deuteronomy: ‘And any man who has the insolence to refuse to listen to the priest or judge, whoever he may be in those days, that man shall die’ [Deut. 17:12]. And then, indeed, they were killed with the sword . . . but now the proud and insolent are killed with the sword of the Spirit, when they are cast out from the Church. For they cannot live outside, since there is only one house of God, and there can be no salvation for anyone except in the Church"
Cyprian of Carthage, Letters 61 [A.D. 253]


"When we say, ‘Do you believe in eternal life and the remission of sins through the holy Church?’ we mean that remission of sins is not granted except in the Church."
Cyprian of Carthage, Letters 61 [A.D. 253]


"Outside the Church there is no Holy Spirit, sound faith moreover cannot exist, not alone among heretics, but even among those who are established in schism".
Cyprian of Carthage, Treatise on Rebaptism [A.D. 256]
And so on...


All of that to say that I treat this as a very serious issue.

Apart form that I don't have much to say.

I just wanted to get a general idea of how others were thinking about this issue.

I've talked to a Priest, and a couple of deacons in my area about it. They've done a good job of quelling some of my fears.

I am still, however, searching the Fathers and the Scriptures for my answers.

#20 Beckett

Beckett

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Posted 23 January 2012 - 10:04 PM

I wonder how many of you have actually red the addresses of the Ecumenical Patriarch. In every one I've read so far, he seems to indicate that Muslims, Christians and Jews all worship the same God, and that particularly Jews are part of the same "family".

He also speaking of the Anglican Church as a Christian Church saying: It is our hope and prayer that this proposal by the Ecumeni*cal Patriarchate, which has already been accepted by the Primates of all the other Orthodox Churches during their recent assembly, which took place here on the Sunday of Orthodoxy, might be adopted, if possible, by all Christians in general (Speaking to Anglicans about Catholics, Anglicans, and Protestants). This would contribute greatly to the establishment, by all believers in Christ, of a common and unique position..."

As I read this he's admitting that the Christian faith is not limited to the Orthodox Church. This was taken from an address before Prince Phillip.




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