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'What evangelicals should know about Orthodoxy'?


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#1 Kosmas Damianides

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Posted 01 August 2005 - 03:24 PM

Dear Brethren,

I could not believe that somone would so callously and unashamedly present a research item that totally distorts the truth and discredits Orthodoxy in such an unfair way. Look at this link below by the Christian Research institute. May God bless them.

How Am I Going To Stop People Finding Out The Truth and Leaving Our Heretical Churches?-- Paul Negrut (This is my interpretation of the title - "What Evangelicals Should Know about Eastern Orthodoxy").

"Bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.



#2 Patrick Walsh

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Posted 01 August 2005 - 05:09 PM

Well, I had to laugh when I saw your proposed title. As one who has travelled in Protestant circles for many years, I can tell you that the CRI does not command a great deal of respect among the more conservative and some of the moderate Protestant groups, such as the Lutherans, the Anglicans and so on.

I will admit though that I used many of the CRI articles to try and convince my ex-fiancee that Benny Hinn is not for real. I did not succeed, and the relationship foundered. She developed pancreatic cancer about two years ago, and that was that. But the good news is that when I met her, I was Buddhist! And my research into Benny Hinn--well...one thing led to another, and here I am--ORTHODOX!

When we read articles like this, we need to remind ourselves to be vigilant, and to expect such things at our most difficult times, and especially so at our best times. The Orthodox Church has been extremely successful in gaining new converts, and this is a perceived threat that needs to be combatted by the Evangelicals. But the more they say about us, the more people will learn about both us and the evangelists who attack us. Those who do their homework will easily penetrate the deceptions of this article and may perhaps take a sincere look at the Orthodox church as a result. This is how I came home!

So take heart when the Orthodox Church is attacked. It means someone is talking specifically about the Orthodox Church.

feofil


#3 Ana Botez

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Posted 16 December 2006 - 07:14 PM

Dear Kosmas,

I was already aware of this false writing because of an Orthodox reply:

http://www.kalvesmaki.com/CRJ.htm

that I found on this Orthodox site:

http://www.orthodoxi...angelicals.aspx

I find it very sad especially because Mr. Negrut, as a Romanian, should be much more sympathetic to Orthodoxy and not to groups foreign to Romanian history which, moreover, feel a need of rejecting true Tradition and innovating on Christianity.

It is also sad that, among these people who think they have to "evangelize" an Orthodox nation, there are also Romanians, many of whom (perhaps not all) are apostates of Orthodoxy.

And the saddest thing of all is that poor people join these false churches in order to get some material benefits.

Sincerely,

Ana

#4 Jeff Johnson

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Posted 03 January 2007 - 12:37 PM

I failed to see what demonination or Protestant camp the "CRI" comes from, does anybody know? The fact remains plain and simple: "To study [church] history is to cease to be Protestant." I believe those are the words of Cardinal J. H. Neumann (or is the spelling "Newman?"). I would love to see the credentials for apostolic succession the author has for whichever of the 30,000 denominations he belongs to.

#5 John Charmley

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Posted 03 January 2007 - 06:24 PM

Dear Jeff,

Cardinal Newman, as he became in the end, did indeed find that the study of the History of the early Church meant that he could no longer remain an Anglican, although, as one of the leading proponents of the Oxford Movement he would have been among the first to deny that Anglicanism was Protestant.

Interestingly, from our point of view, Newman's work on the Arians convinced him that his position as an Anglican was analogous to that of the Arians, and he converted to Rome.

Many, many years ago now, Newman was a constant resource of mine, but I always found his Tractarian self more convincing than his Catholic self; indeed, reading about the way the Catholic hierarchy treated him during most of his very long life made me realise that one of his claims to sanctity was that he remained an obedient Catholic! He was much saddened by the declaration of Papal Infallibility and the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception.

Newman started life as an Evangelical, and would not, I suspect, have been overly impressed by the piece that started this thread. Of course, in his time, Orthodoxy was so little known in England that it would never have been an option for him, but your thoughts drive me back to Newman to see what, if anything, he did write about Orthodoxy.

In Christ,

John

#6 Justin

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Posted 03 January 2007 - 06:43 PM

"To study [church] history is to cease to be Protestant."


That's a bit overly triumphalistic, isn't it? I mean, with all due respect, regardless of it's origin (and Newman was certainly a smart guy), how would you like it if I said "To be deep in history is to cease to be Christian?" That was the way it worked out for me. But as tempted as I have been sometimes to throw out that statement (with my own nonbelieving twist), I haven't done that, even though it was accurate in my own case. Some Protestants do read the Church Fathers and never end up converting. C.S. Lewis seemed to understand the spirit of traditional orthodox belief pretty well, but never converted. John Wesley and other early Protestants were not unfamiliar with the writings of the early Church, but they didn't convert. I'm sure there are lots of other modern examples (JND Kelley, Bruce Metzger, F.F. Bruce, etc.)

#7 Peter Farrington

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Posted 03 January 2007 - 07:13 PM

Hi Justin

I do think there is something in what you say, although it was history that did it for my Dad and I and brought us to Orthodoxy.

In terms of this particular thread I would suggest that there is much about Evangelicalism that Orthodox should know, because I often cringe at the very unfair generalisations often made by Orthodox who know very little about Evangelicals and Protestants in the wider sense.

Indeed we should not speak easily without having made some effort to understand the position of those we speak with otherwise we come across as arrogant and stupid. In fact we might well be of course if we think we know everything about everyone.

As an ex-Plymouth Brethren I am always suprised that F.F. Bruce was so knowledgeable but, from my point of view, failed to join the dots. But then J.N.Darby also knew the Fathers but dealt with them by teaching that even in the days of the last Apostles the Church fell into apostasy and so all the Fathers are corrupted and not trustworthy witnesses.

Peter

#8 Justin

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Posted 03 January 2007 - 08:06 PM

I think we can definately agree on this, that more knowledge would be helpful going both ways. It's not that I can't see the kernel of truth in Newman's statement, I just think it's an overstatement. Maybe what bugs me about it is that I think Catholic and Orthodox apologetics are overstated to begin with, so to use flourishes like that is even more than a bit much. Let me play the part of a Protestant here for a moment. Let's take the Biblical canon, which many Catholics and Orthodox use as an argument for the authority of the Church. Thus you often hear the line in debates, at least in chat rooms, "Where did your Bible come from?" with the point of course being that the Catholic/Orthodox Church gave it to them. "And why then did the Protestants take books out?" But if I was a Protestant, I wouldn't see this being "deep in history," I'd see it being deep in apologetics.

The Church settled the Scripture? Athanasius? Carthage? Rome under Pope Damasus? Then why did Jerome, the most famed Bible scholar, reject the deuterocanonicals from his canon after these councils (he was even the personal secretary of the pope for a while)? Why did Pope Innocent exclude Hebrews from his canon in a letter written in 402? Why did Junilius talk of the deuterocanonical books being disputed in the 6th century? Why did John of Damascus accept none of the deuterocanonicals, but add the Canons of the Holy Apostles (attributed by him to Clement) in his NT canon? No, if I was a Protestant I certainly wouldn't buy into the claim that the Bible was settled in the 4th century. If anything, the canon issue is evidence against Church authority, because it shows how even when it comes to the most important source of information, there were disagreements for a very long time. Not on all of the books, admittedly just on less than a dozen, but if the Church really was all that the apologists claimed that it was, then it could have been settled.

Now, I didn't mean to go on a rant, I'm just saying that if I was a Protestant "deep in history," those would be some of my thoughts. So if I had someone come in then and say "To be deep in history..." to me, I would probably not react very well. And then the "30,000 denominations" thing gets thrown in. As I understand it, the people who put out numbers that large count basically everyone and their brother as a seperate Church. That means that Catholicism counts for hundreds, and so do the Orthodox. We don't need to get into the details, everyone knows that Orthodoxy and Catholicism each have lots of groups who are (to put it nicely) not currently in communion with the overwhelming majority of Orthodox/Catholics. And then there are some even further out, like vagantes, who nonetheless might technically, in some vague fashion, have apostolic succession or something resembling it. Besides, (again, if I was a Protestant...) who are the Catholics or Orthodox to talk about divisions, when they've been divided from millions of Christians (e.g., non-chalcedonian copts) for 1,500+ years?

One could argue that the main reasons that so many Protestant groups have survived and multiplied is because of better communication and religious freedom. There were hundreds of break off groups even in the 2nd and 3rd century, thus making it necessary for people like Ireneaus and Hippolytus to write long works refuting heresies. Even the Scriptural writers like Paul and John dealt with break offs and heretics in the first century. I do not say this to excuse Protestant fracturing, of course. It is sad even for me when Christians divide, and I am glad when there is some healing (e.g., ROCOR and the MP). But things are rarely as simple as people would like them to be. Or even as simple as they read about in history books. I suppose some of what I am trying to say here (and I feel that I'm doing poorly) was put like this by Descarte:

...and even the most faithful histories, if they do not wholly misrepresent matters, or exaggerate their importance to render the account of them more worthy of perusal, omit, at least, almost always the meanest and least striking of the attendant circumstances; hence it happens that the remainder does not represent the truth, and that such as regulate their conduct by examples drawn from this source, are apt to fall into the extravagances of the knight-errants of romance, and to entertain projects that exceed their powers.


I found that the deeper in history I went, the mirkier the waters were. I'm not suggesting that everyone should end up in a see of agnosticism... I am just very wary I guess.

#9 John Charmley

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Posted 03 January 2007 - 10:28 PM

Hi Justin,

On some of these things, look over at the 'History of the Bible' thread, where there is a discussion going on on some of the points you raise, especially this one

If anything, the canon issue is evidence against Church authority, because it shows how even when it comes to the most important source of information, there were disagreements for a very long time. Not on all of the books, admittedly just on less than a dozen, but if the Church really was all that the apologists claimed that it was, then it could have been settled.


To argue that the 'Church' imposed the canon is to get it the wrong way round - the Church recognised the canon that, for the most part, already existed, and had done since the 2nd century. That argument is developed more fully in the other thread.

That is not to say that your points about triumphalism are not well-made. How often, though, is what passes for triumphalism actually the product of some deep insecurity?

The waters are actually a good deal less murky for the origin of the canon than they are for many other things of that date. Of course they do not run pellucid, but the waters of Clio never do - and that is probably why God allows historians!

Much to think about in your post, though, and a good warning about how we treat other Christians.

In Christ,

John

#10 Peter Farrington

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Posted 04 January 2007 - 09:20 AM

I would perhaps want to add that I am also very wary of people, including Orthodox Christians of all backgrounds, who want to make history too black and white. It is much more shades of grey. That makes it more complicated, but it also makes it interesting and teaches humility.

We do often have a desire for certainty in all things, and I am not sure that this is good for us as humans. We need to live with a certain degree of provisionality - I do not know everything.

For myself, I am happy that the canon was as settled as it was, as early as it was, and I do see this as a witness for the activity of the Holy Spirit in the Church because fragmentation is the norm for human religious organisations. In my own Plymouth Brethren, which was created from a desire to draw believers together, there was a major split just 10 years after the movement began, and after 80 years there were perhaps 5 or 6 groups all working against each other.

It was one of the very early Fathers who looked at the great degree of unanimity and theological agreement in the Church around the world as he knew it and saw the hand of God in it. I have always seen this as a proof myself, not an absolute proof, but something reasonable to place faith in.

Peter

#11 Jeff Johnson

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Posted 24 January 2007 - 06:07 PM

I know this is quite tardy, but I do want to reply to Justin, John and Peter's comments regarding my paraphrase of Cardinal Newman.

Justin-You are actually right. Not everyone who reads the Fathers winds up at the entrance of the nearest Orthodox Church on bended knees. I was shocked to find out that Mormons study the Fathers. Reasons why anyone outside the Church reads the writings of the Early Fathers, and never loses an hour of sleep wondering whether he or she actually belongs to that Church that has the true Eucharist of which St. Ignatius writes, are complex and diverse. I think a huge amount of credit can be given to relativism or indifference.

"Trimphalism" is a term that is thrown around so freely. If an Eastern Orthodox asserts that his is the ancient Church and those outside of her lack the full truth, that is triumphalist and arrogant to some ears. If a Baptist says to a Buddhist that Jesus is the only way to salvation, the Baptist is accused of being narrow minded. I agree that negative triumphalism can be a problem, say if someone were to tell non Orthodox that they are damned, or to say that everyone who doesn't leave "world Orthodoxy" to join the True Orthodox Church of Pluto and grow his beard to the floor is damned.

I in no way want to imply Evangelicals and Protestants are bad people. I know plenty about them, because I grew up with them--they are my ancestors, my relatives and I love them. They are good people.

But there is no question that the Eastern Orthodox Church goes back to the beginning, and it is the Church of Christ. Call me whatever label you want for believing that. I believe that God is real, but I am neither mature nor learned enough to debate with someone who doesn't believe.

I only wish that I always followed Christ as I should. I am a sad example of Orthodox Christianity many times. Forgive me.

#12 Rose

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Posted 26 January 2007 - 09:24 PM

I am not Orthodox, and while I have no interest in becoming Orthodox, my son is married to a Greek Orthodox girl so I try to learn about her faith.

I think that we must all be much kinder when we are addressing other religions on this forum. I can understand why some posters may feel hurt or become defensive. I do ask questions here, and I am very grateful to all who take the time to answer. I am learning so much.

May the Peace of the Lord be with you all.

#13 John Charmley

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Posted 26 January 2007 - 11:01 PM

I am not Orthodox, and while I have no interest in becoming Orthodox, my son is married to a Greek Orthodox girl so I try to learn about her faith.

I think that we must all be much kinder when we are addressing other religions on this forum. I can understand why some posters may feel hurt or become defensive. I do ask questions here, and I am very grateful to all who take the time to answer. I am learning so much.

May the Peace of the Lord be with you all.


Dear Rose,

You make a good point. There is strand here that, as a guest, I have to respect because I do not understand it, and which I believe comes from a particular conception of Christian love, but which, nonetheless can come across as harshness.

I am struck by something I read recently, which I know will not be to the taste of some here, but which your words, Rose, put me in mind of:

And so long as we are in Christ, we are united as believers. After all, Christ prayed 'That they may be one' in the Garden, and can we believe that His prayer was not answered? All that remains is for us to recognise this. In we are one in faith and in love, then the church of God is united, although we do not see it always.


Trying to understand each other is better than rushing to judgement. Two things often strike me when I come across the sort of comment I mentioned above: one is that it is sometimes based upon a more extensive view of that person's tradition than it is a knowledge of what is being criticised; the other is the good Christian heart of the critic.

The words of Our Lord in Luke 6:36-37 seem relevant here:

36 Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful.
37 Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.


I hope, Rose, that what you learn here will help you to understand your daughter-in-law and her background in the Faith.

May God bless you and keep you,

In Christ,

John

#14 Rose

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Posted 29 January 2007 - 06:20 PM

Dear John,

Thank you for your kindness. I do try to respect everyone who comes to this forum, even though I don't always agree with what is said because it is not my faith or my belief.

#15 Dimitris

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Posted 12 February 2007 - 11:04 PM

Hallo!

I just came again across this thread and read the link from the first post. There it is mentioned that there is a "two source approach" and a "one source approach" regarding the relationship between Scripture and Tradition. I just wonder how the Orthodox Church really regards this.

Dimitris

#16 Ana Botez

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Posted 13 February 2007 - 06:29 PM

Dear Dimitris,

As far as I know, the Orthodox standpoint is that Tradition is the source of the Scripture. This is especially true for the New Testament, but also for the Old Testament if we consider the Jewish Tradition of the old times (Abraham, the prophets, and so forth). The Church existed for some long decades without any New Testament books. Or, as someone once said, if the Scriptures were the source of revelation for the Church, at the Pentecost a complete Bible would have fallen of the sky, with complete instructions concerning worship, fasting, prayer, and all Christian practices, not to mention the dogmas.

Sincerely,

Ana




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