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Differing perceptions of history


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#1 Steve Roche

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Posted 26 September 2012 - 10:12 PM

Then, people around you will notice that you have changed. That you are a different person, a different type of person than you were before. And in some, they will want what you have. This AND ONLY THIS is the proof.


Owen, your comments are a little demeaning.

You said above (post 141), “Why don't you take your anti-Orthodox rants elsewhere and patronizing attitudes elsewhere”; and yet you claim alone to have found “the only valid argument”!

The evidence for your arguments are that, “people around you will notice that you have changed. That you are a different person, a different type of person than you were before. …This AND ONLY THIS is the proof.”

This 'Tu Quoque' shows to me that your faith rests on very little evidence. The lack of this evidence has been the major factor for me to deny the authority of the Orthodox Church. There is no ‘evidence’ based on the personal attacks I and others have received. Do you (and others) really need to tread down the heads of your guests in order to elevate yourselves? For instance, you say: “I cannot believe someone here claims that we should not celebrate Christmas because of "the taint of pagans;" and “it is a fool's errand to try to get God "back into history." So patronizing and demeaning…, and yet you said this just before you climbed up to your sermon tower!

Once upon your soap-box you seem to have lost yourself. You not only take on another personality; you then seek ways to agree with the premises already made (while still condemning them). You then start talking to an imaginary person who might object to your argument. You have shown for yourself that Orthodoxy is somewhat of a private therapy; “Orthodoxy, demonstrably, is the only treatment center for the rehab of the soul.”

I don’t think you have understood the subject matter above. IMO I can see that you have read very little of the fathers mentioned. Please do not be so quick to answer things you know little about, and please refrain from being demeaning to your guests.

Thanks

Edited by Steve Roche, 26 September 2012 - 10:36 PM.


#2 Steve Roche

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Posted 26 September 2012 - 10:23 PM

From what I can see neither Steve nor Sacha are taking in what Fr Irenee is really saying.


I appreciate what you and Fr Irenee are saying, but I think you confuse me for agreeing with Sacha in all his points. Sacha appears to me to see a golden age of the church pre-140AD; I do not. The Church was a more pure age pre-140 (compared to the 4th century), but not without its own contamination. I think this particular demarcation is somewhat superficial. The gospels and epistles show that contamination was existing in the 1st century as well, and it carried on into the 2nd and 3rd centuries. Facts can be gathered from this time, but it must be done so with the caution of contamination.

The real change (IMO) came in the 4th century when the Roman papacy was elevated above all other bishoprics. The specific errors introduced at this time were partially addressed by Orthodoxy and Luther, but not totally. I agree with Sacha that looking back into the earliest church provides the best opportunity to unravel the introduced heresies and errors. I do not think this is such an easy task, however. It is not simply a matter of looking to Clement, Ignatius or Justin Martyr for examples of the pure faith. Many factors must be taken into account; particularly how many texts of these fathers were doctored to make them appear to agree with a post-Nicaea teaching. I think Sacha is on the right track, but he underestimates the level of foul play that existed in order to assume ecclesiastical power. The corruption of the 4th and 5th centuries was staggering.

BTW. I am not an Arian, as Sacha suggests. Sacha does not (IMO) understand these labels properly. Sacha believes that any recognition of subordination within the trinity amounts to Arianism. If this is the case, then most of the fathers from the “Golden Age” (pre-140AD) were also Arians. This is simply a lack of understanding of the earliest fathers and the trinity. I was asked by Sacha to fall under his ministry and be taught by him, to which I questioned the motives for such an agenda. I still question what agenda might be behind this.

Steve

#3 Sacha

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Posted 26 September 2012 - 11:44 PM

For the record, what I told Steve was that if he was willing to see the error of his thinking regarding the Deity of Christ, we could highlight the Apostolic Fathers and the teaching of the ancient church. But Steve has made it clear that he will not regard Arians as heretics, and that he cannot define Arius' teaching clearly enough to say that he was mistaken. That alone speaks for itself.

The only agenda I have is this: to uphold the faith once and for all delivered. A faith defined broadly in the following manner:

- God is One in Three Consubstantial Persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit where the Son is begotten of the Father, not made.
- Christ was crucified, died and was buried and rose again on the third day.
- That there is no salvation other than through Christ who brings mankind forgiveness of sins and healing.
- That this salvation is by grace through faith but also includes the struggle of repentance and good works.
- That there will be a judgment at which all will be rewarded according to what they have done.
- Baptism is not merely symbolic, but the washing of regeneration and salvific.
- Communion is not merely symbolic, but the body and blood of the Lord.
- That Christ will return to judge the world at His second coming.

I believe the OC comes the closest to the faith of the Apostolic Fathers which was once and for all delivered. But of course, there are areas of belief that I do not find present in the teaching of the AF, hence this discussion.

#4 Steve Roche

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Posted 27 September 2012 - 01:02 AM

And the patristic evidence is clear that there is no such thing as the pope as vicar of Christ on earth in the ancient faith once and for all delivered.


This is an example of how you are searching for patristic evidence to apply to your pre-conceived ideas at the expense of facts. You made this same error in relation to the trinity… you observe the evidence that supports your premise while ignoring all the evidence contrary to your premise.

The Roman Catholics do believe that there is patristic evidence for their papacy claims; and if you do not take into account that the text of the earliest fathers were doctored to support such claims, as they most certainly were, then you are caught in the net of your own Tu Quoque. Their patristic evidence goes back as far as Clement of Rome, who ordered the Corinthians to be obedient to his authority. They also point to the evidence of Ignatius in his letter to the Romans. Other “evidences” are the epitaph of Abercius; Irenaeus; Victor; Zephyrinus; Cornelius; Tertullian; Cyprian; Denis of Alexandria; Dionysius of Alexandria… etc. (for more information, see The Early Papacy, by Adrian Fortescue)

These references are debated between Roman Catholics, Orthodox and Protestant; which proves my contention that the “earliest (and later) fathers can be used to support practically any theory or preconceived idea.” This knowledge base also extends to the earliest manifestation of the doctrine of the trinity, which is expressed in terms of subordination and sub-numeration. This is a fact. I am not stating that they are right or wrong; I am stating that such statements exist in the earliest fathers. To claim otherwise is to demonstrate ignorance of the earliest fathers, which Sacha (IMO) seems to demonstrate. Sacha wields the doctrinal sword of the earliest fathers that support his own beliefs only. This practice is no different to his allegations against the Orthodox or the papacy. Seeking evidence of Tu Quoque (the appeal to hypocrisy) is found in his own statements.

I have no problem of appealing to the fathers as evidence; but to pick and choose sections that only support your own beliefs in subjective, at best, and dishonest, at worst. You need to read all of the fathers collectively and evaluate the common faith; not just cherry-pick passages that give fuel to your own personal crusade. This principal should be applied by all. You also need to be aware of the textual doctoring that took place, and be skilled enough to know when and how the doctoring and pseudographical work took place. There is an immense library of pseudographical books written that were intended to appeal for orthodoxy dishonestly. Some of these include pseudo-Clement; pseudo-Irenaeus; pseudo-Tertullian; pseudo-Thaumaturgus; pseudo-Hippolytus; pseudo-Origen; pseudo-Dionysius, etc. I am convinced that Sacha is ignorant of these textual dilemmas, and his continued error lays in not having any powers of discernment of these realities.

#5 Sacha

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Posted 27 September 2012 - 01:11 AM

Steve, you have said what you wanted to say and I will not respond to your posts. Can you please allow me to finish the discussion I am having with Fr Irenei and others without inserting yourself into the dialogue? I am fully aware that you are entitled to post as allowed by the moderators but I am nevertheless asking you to please start your own thread elsewhere to discuss whatever you want to discuss.

#6 Owen Jones

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Posted 27 September 2012 - 01:32 AM

Well, Steve, for what it's worth, I was not directing that comment to you, but to another participant who suggests that we Orthodox must repent for our history. If it came across as being demeaning to him, then I achieved my purpose. But I have to ask, what do you mean by "the God of history?" As for the definition of proof, I am satisfied with Hebrews 11:1

#7 Owen Jones

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Posted 27 September 2012 - 01:49 AM

No. 168 is a kind of Lockean recital of the faith, absent a number of key elements, not least of which is the Church and its liturgy. No matter how well intentioned it may be, it is not a formulation that the Orthodox Church can recognize because of essential elements that are left out. A good starting point would be "An Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith," by St. John of Damascus. If you are looking to come up with a better formulation than the Nicene Creed, I think you are way off on a personal tangent. Frankly, I just don't understand what you are all about, Sacha. I just don't get it. Why are you here?

#8 Steve Roche

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Posted 27 September 2012 - 05:45 AM

I have to ask, what do you mean by "the God of history?"


Hi Owen, thank you for maintaining civility with me. My understanding of "the God of history", off the cuff, is that history is ordained by God. As Romans 13:1 states: “there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.” Using that scripture as a benchmark, there is no power or government that is not ordained of God – throughout history and today. I include the Orthodox Church in that power, as well as the papacy. I don’t think that the existence of a "power" either vindicates that power, or absolves that power, but that the power was commissioned by God in His wisdom and providence within history. The question is not whether or not the Orthodox are right (for me), but why has God ordained the Orthodox? or the Catholic? or the Anglican? or the Gnostic? or the Egyptian? or the Assyrian? or the Caesar? History is an act of divine providence, and I try to understand my God as he unfolds history to each citizen in each generation. This is what makes history exciting for me. This is why I do not need to see the Orthodox or the Catholic or the Protestant as aliens or conflicting in any way with God’s purpose. We are all within God’s ordained and manifold wisdom. Some teachings are right, some are wrong – but we all maintain the power which was ordained of God. God is the Lord of time - the Lord of history. I desire to see God in all His great works; not just those that appeal to my dogmatic bias.

Steve

#9 Owen Jones

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Posted 27 September 2012 - 11:48 AM

Don't worry, Steve, I can throw civility out the window very quickly! OK, not to be too picky about it, but I see some serious problems with your formulation of history here. You have to be very careful that you do not confuse Divine Providence with fatalism and determinism, which your are pushing dangerously close to, if not there already. We have to be very careful not to say that everything that is is thereby ordained by God. God does not ordain the Hitlers and Stalins of this world. Just because a political order exists does not make it legitimate, either from a human or divine standpoint. I realize that you add this point, however, I think the two are contradictory. God ordains what is good, not what is evil. There are many times when our faith is sorely tested under the pressure of evil men, wondering why God would allow this to happen, but in no way does that force us to conclude that God has ordained it to happen. The fact is, we are not in a position to know one way or the other.

This is a very tempting belief because when things go very bad we can actually end up excusing our own evil by saying it was God's will, when in fact what we are told is that God can take the evil men do and turn it into good. Of course, there is that very puzzling line in which Jesus says, do not resist evil, one of the most problematic lines in the entire Bible. What does that mean? For an answer I think it has to be interpreted spiritually. It is not, however, a call to total pacifism.

As for history, as such, I think a good starting point is to ask ourselves, what is history? As I have tried to make the case on another thread, obviously very poorly, history is a very fuzzy concept at best. If you are referring to history in the most mundane sense as things that happen, OK, however, so much happens that you have to pick and choose as to what is significant and what has meaning, and you have already at that point turned history into something much more than just things that happen.
At that point, you (we) have turned things that happen into a symbolism that represents something meaningful to us. And actually from an Orthodox Christian perspective, there is no meaning in history. History, as such, has no meaning. I realize what you are saying, or trying to say, is that God gives historical events meaning. That without Him, it's meaningless. OK so far. But people are the ones who have to determine what that meaning is, and so far the only valid assumption is that history is a time of waiting and preparation for the end.

To give a specific example of the historical/political problem, the Archbishop of Vienna sent out a pastoral letter that he ordered be read from the pulpit after the Anschluss, commanding people to obey Hitler because it was a clear case of rendering unto Caesar that which is Caesar's. In fact, many of the Church bells rang in Vienna when Hitler rode into town! Is this really what the Church is reduced to?

Now to the puzzling, and for many the disturbing fact of he plurality of religions in the world. Your position puts them all into the same stew and makes it impossible for anyone to make rational comparisons and distinctions, and that all dogmatic formulations are just a matter of personal bias. This is solipsistic, of course. But I appreciate your comments because it explains where you are coming from, so to speak.

#10 Steve Roche

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Posted 27 September 2012 - 11:37 PM

I agree with you. The premise I suggested, or rather, which Paul taught, is a precarious concept which can be construed into fatalism and determinism. I do not hold to this view; and yet God had raised up Pharaoh, and Cyrus, and Alexander, etc. Judas also was essential for the prophetic pronouncement to be fulfilled. That does not mean that Judas had no choice, or that his fate was predetermined. Both free-will and predestination exists with God’s Providence. How they exist is still a mystery; yet both ideas are clearly taught within scripture. Note that everything in this material world exists on two opposing forces co-existing together – the proton and the electron. Scientists still do not know how this happens, and yet there it is. The trinity is another example which defies full understanding; so too the soul within the body, and the spirit within the soul. Symbiotic relationships exist throughout nature and the universe.

History, too, is conditioned by and complies with God’s foreknowledge, providence and predetermination. All things are woven together so that every prophetic word is fulfilled exactly as God says it would be. We do not deny that this happens; but the mechanism still defies understanding. We do not deny that Judas was prophesied to betray Jesus; and he did. We do not deny that Jesus was prophesied to be cursed upon a tree; and He was. We do not deny that the nations, such as Babylon, Egypt, Persia, Greece and Rome were all prophesied; and they were all fulfilled. We do not deny that Jesus will return and exact vengeance on the ungodly and fulfill the prophetic record, and that future history is a servant to the command of God. All history is a servant to the command of God. As Romans 13:1 states: “there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.” We can safely agree with this statement; for God has spoken these things through Paul. They do not come from any private interpretation. “There is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.” I believe Paul and God.

Good comment by the way!
Please let civility remain.

Steve

#11 Steve Roche

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Posted 28 September 2012 - 05:08 AM

Confusion then should be for us not an opportunity of choice but rather an indication of death. We need to learn to discern the spirits once more and to become aware that confusion is the breath of sin and death. This confusion isn't truth or the Church 'in one of its many guises' but rather its opposite. And so this should serve as an indication of what the reality of the Church consists of and of what inner and outer dispositions on our part lead to it.


I agree with this statement, however… This idea seems too easy to be wielded against non-orthodox inquiries. It can practically be used dismissively as, ‘you are not “Orthodox” so you couldn’t possible understand; and we do not need to answer you. We need to discern this spirit of confusion as being antithetical to truth…’

The problem with this thinking is that it breaks down when you have even greater confusion and antithetical teachings coming from within your own church, nay, from your very own clergy! I notice from your own mind comes these words typed toward one of your fellow fathers: “The issue here then is serious- I would say very serious- and much more than just a disagreement about words.”

And another priest, agreeing with your statement, says to another priest: “A person cannot be ignorant like a heretic, teach like a heretic, write like a heretic, debate like a heretic, and admit to being a heretic, and not be expected to be treated as a heretic.”

So how does the implicated confusion which is taught here among your own clergy stand up to your own statement that “We need to learn to discern the spirits once more and to become aware that confusion is the breath of sin and death”? It seems to me that you are using this statement as an excuse why you do not need to even answer any difficult comments from non-orthodox inquirers? This is obviously not entirely true, because you (or Fr Irenei) have attempted to patiently and comprehensively answer Sacha (above). I am just asking what you mean by this in reference to other confusing questions or statements that are made.

Thanks

#12 Owen Jones

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Posted 28 September 2012 - 08:44 AM

Mr. Roche,

All of your arguments that you employ can also be used against yourself. How do you know anything to be true? What is the ground of your belief? How do you know what to belief and stand for? It's time to come out of the closet.

#13 Steve Roche

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Posted 28 September 2012 - 11:17 AM

Mr. Roche,

All of your arguments that you employ can also be used against yourself. How do you know anything to be true? What is the ground of your belief? How do you know what to belief and stand for? It's time to come out of the closet.


Owen, you are responding to me as if I said something offensive to you or to Fr Raphael. I did not intend to if that occurred. Over than that, I do not know what you are asking?

#14 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 28 September 2012 - 10:27 PM

Please- let's leave moderating decisions to the moderators. Thanks!

#15 Owen Jones

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Posted 28 September 2012 - 10:57 PM

Because, Steve, you are constantly making demands on others to explain themselves to you, and, in effect, justify their Orthodox beliefs to you. Unseemly, IMHO. Look, if you are genuinely interested in Orthodoxy, you're in the right place. But Monachos is in the business of helping people come closer to God by becoming a more complete Orthodox person, by learning from the Church Fathers and our monastic tradition. It's not really set up for the purpose of defending Orthodoxy from outside critics, at least as I understand it. The Orthodox people here share a common vision, experience, and set of beliefs. The discussion can only be fruitful in that context. You cannot get anywhere by making it the starting point that everything is up for grabs. But that's exactly how your intent and method comes across.

#16 Steve Roche

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Posted 28 September 2012 - 11:45 PM

Because, Steve, you are constantly making demands on others to explain themselves to you, and, in effect, justify their Orthodox beliefs to you. Unseemly, IMHO. Look, if you are genuinely interested in Orthodoxy, you're in the right place. But Monachos is in the business of helping people come closer to God by becoming a more complete Orthodox person, by learning from the Church Fathers and our monastic tradition. It's not really set up for the purpose of defending Orthodoxy from outside critics, at least as I understand it. The Orthodox people here share a common vision, experience, and set of beliefs. The discussion can only be fruitful in that context. You cannot get anywhere by making it the starting point that everything is up for grabs. But that's exactly how your intent and method comes across.


Owen, I am interested in those who demonstrate the Character of God. The true doctrine can be understood by such ones. There are some here who demonstrate this quality to me, and there are many who do not. I am not seeking any clarity or teaching from the later.

God Bless

#17 Olga

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Posted 29 September 2012 - 12:32 AM

Owen, I am interested in those who demonstrate the Character of God. The true doctrine can be understood by such ones. There are some here who demonstrate this quality to me, and there are many who do not. I am not seeking any clarity or teaching from the later.


Steve,

Most, if not all, attempts by many here to provide and reflect proper Orthodox teachings on a variety of subjects have been rejected by you. Genuine inquiry, confusion and misunderstandings are one thing, but you seem to have an inability to accept any advice, clarification or correction. Instead of participating in discussions on Orthodoxy, you are constantly undermining them, promoting your own beliefs, and, at times, distorting what people say. As Owen said, the purpose of the forum is not primarily for the defence of Orthodoxy from outside critics.

#18 Steve Roche

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Posted 29 September 2012 - 12:37 AM

Steve,

Most, if not all, attempts by many here to provide and reflect proper Orthodox teachings on a variety of subjects have been rejected by you. Genuine inquiry, confusion and misunderstandings are one thing, but you seem to have an inability to accept any advice, clarification or correction. Instead of participating in discussions on Orthodoxy, you are constantly undermining them, promoting your own beliefs, and, at times, distorting what people say. As Owen said, the purpose of the forum is not primarily for the defence of Orthodoxy from outside critics.


This is simply not true. I enjoy my discussions from the many educated and enlightened people here, and I have been told by many of these ones that my presence here is welcome. There are a few people with lower character that continually attack me, however, but I trust that these do not represent the depth that is observed in other Orthodox believers.

Thanks

#19 Olga

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Posted 29 September 2012 - 02:05 AM

There are a few people with lower character that continually attack me,


Disagreement with what you post is not necessarily an attack, particularly if that disagreement is backed by evidence from the Holy Tradition of the Church. Denigrating people as being of "lower character" is presumptuous, inflammatory, and unbecoming. Such sentiment has no place on this forum. Please refrain from using such language in future.




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