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Orthodox approaches to ecumenism


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#1 Guest_Hussam X

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Posted 26 November 2005 - 07:57 AM

Thanks Mina Mounir for your analysis. It is quite interesting, but the more interesting and in the same time very surprising news are the upcoming restoration of communion between the EO and OO. More astonishing is choosing Greece as the EO site to host the anticipated mass. The reverend monks of Mount Athos are not particularly sympathetic to the unity talks, and they exert some spiritual and political weight in the Church of Greece.

Till the last year, OO bishops were talking about overcoming the obstacles to unity and proposing ways to lift anathemas on saints and deal with the various jurisdiction problems. EO bishops for the most part were dicussing the necessity of confessing the eucumenical nature of council 4,5,6 and 7. On the other hand, in many EO circles such unity is not welcomed, for very logical and ecclesiogical reasons. While union will heal the schism with the OO, it will most probably introduce another one between the EO churches themselves.

Are all these problems solved already? Mentioning H.H. Pope Shenouda in Romania is a good gesture of respect and mutual love, but is it done on a frequent basis ? I understand that it was done one time in a visit of H.H. Pope Shenouda to Romania, and I do not believe H.H. took part in the mass. H.H. Patriarch of Romania ( or H.E. the Metropolitan, sorry,not really familiar with EO jurisdictions) is not mentioned in Coptic liturgies, for ecclesiological reasons that take priority over compliments.


#2 Guest_Mina Soliman

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Posted 26 November 2005 - 04:13 PM

Oh never mind Hussam. I've just realized where you got them from.

Dear Mina Monir,

When are these liturgies going to be held? Are the a "step" towards unity, or the final step towards unity?

Just to share some thoughts,

First, HI! My name is Mina. I'm from NJ, USA. I just like to share that I personally was worried about a schism within our churches if this union is consummated. Although, I know of no heirarch in the OO churches that resist unity (I realize some Church laity however may resist union), I see that the EO are already in schism due to "ecumenism." So if a unity is consummated, there is no difference than what's happening today, imho.

Furthermore, I haven't read everything here, since there's so much, but I am quite convinced that ecclesiological differences will be solved, and that there is no reason to be divided. I look forward to the day we begin to show our One Church to the world as we slowly rediscover our oneness already.

God bless.

Mina


#3 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 26 November 2005 - 03:42 PM

The reverend monks of Mount Athos are not particularly sympathetic to the unity talks, and they exert some spiritual and political weight in the Church of Greece.


I think that a major stumbling block between us in recent times has been caused by the way in which talks, discussions, committees, etc were seen as being part of the world-wide ecumenical movement. This ecumenical movement has often been based on theological relativism and is under increasing criticism from within (Eastern) Orthodoxy. This I think is a major reason for the basic mistrust from the Athonite monks who are defenders of the Faith; ie there is not only the question of whether we are in fact seeing with the same Orthodox eyes. There is also the question of whether fundamental theological differences are being overlooked as part of the ecumenical movement.

My Athonite credentials are perhaps not as great as some others who post to monachos (maybe they could respond on this theme). But from my time there I would say that the Athonite Frs are not at all blind fanatics or incapable of compassionate economia on these issues. Rather they just want to be assured that nothing theologically fundamental is being minimised. And in connection with this it would probably help tremendously if the Oriental Orthodox would detach any official meetings from the ecumencial movement.

In Christ- Fr Raphael

#4 Guest_Mina Soliman

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Posted 26 November 2005 - 04:05 PM

More astonishing is choosing Greece as the EO site to host the anticipated mass.


Dear Hussam X,

I'm quite interested in how or where you heard that. Is there an anticipated time of when this mass may occur?

God bless.

Mina

#5 Guest_Mina Soliman

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Posted 26 November 2005 - 04:49 PM

And in connection with this it would probably help tremendously if the Oriental Orthodox would detach any official meetings from the ecumencial movement.


Dear Fr. Raphael,

I totally agree with you. The monks find it hard to talk with people who are involved in today's fruitless ecumenism, and I pray the OO churches leave such councils.

God bless.

#6 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 26 November 2005 - 05:55 PM

Mina Soliman said,

Although, I know of no heirarch in the OO churches that resist unity (I realize some Church laity however may resist union), I see that the EO are already in schism due to "ecumenism." So if a unity is consummated, there is no difference than what's happening today, imho.


First of all welcome to the discussion! May God's purposes be accomplished through all of this.

If I could offer the following. Although it is true that one of the main issues canonically separating a number of Orthodox is ecumenism many and in fact more and more of the Orthodox are concerned with involvement in the ecumenical movement. For example you may already have heard of how the Antiochian Archdiocese of North America recently separated itself from the NCC in America. This was not due to some sort of categorical rejection of all other Christians but rather the tendency of the ecumenical movement to be based on theological and moral relativism.

Add to this the fact that the largest overtly anti-ecumenical Orthodox church- the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad- may be on the verge of reconciliation with the Church in Russia; and you get a stronger anti-ecumenical stance within Orthodoxy and not a simple division between pro & anti- ecumenical Orthodox churches.

So this leads me back to the point I was making above. I believe that any genuine theological agreement between us is harmed by operating from within the overall umbrella of the ecumenical movement. This is because the tendency of the ecumenical movement towards theological & moral relativism contradicts the Orthodox obligation that any unity be based on genuine theological agreement.

In Christ- Fr Raphael

#7 Guest_Mina Soliman

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Posted 26 November 2005 - 08:48 PM

Dear Fr. Raphael,

Thank you for welcoming me. Posted Image

Indeed, these councils have always assumed relativism. Someone posted in another website the the Coptic Church is anticipating a leave from the MECC because of Protestant attacks. These councils are a waste of time, and I believe one of the largest hindrances to Orthodox unity.

I personally believe there is a theological unity between OO's and EO's. Forgive me for I haven't read everything in this thread, but after intense research, I find no reason for a division among our churches.

God bless.


#8 Guest_Mina Soliman

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Posted 26 November 2005 - 09:10 PM

In fact, lemme share with you a British Orthodox deacon's views on the ecumenical talks:

http://www.britishor...ox.org/107d.php

Father Subdeacon Peter Theodore advocates the maximalist ecumenical talks that have been going on, but not the minimalist/relativist talks.

God bless.


#9 M.C. Steenberg

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Posted 26 November 2005 - 10:00 PM

Dear all,

Following my earlier post in the 'Chalcedonian Christology, etc.' thread, I've opened a new thread to house the growing discussion on ecumenism, and have moved the relevant posts from the Christology thread to the new. You will find it by jumping to the location of the present post, or as Ecclesiology and the Church >> Evangelism and Mission >> Orthodox approaches to ecumenism.

INXC, Matthew


#10 Guest_Hussam X

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Posted 27 November 2005 - 06:04 AM

The article provided by Mina Soliman from the British Orthodox Church is benefical for our discussion about ecumenism, for it shows the difference in approach between EO-OO talks and the other ecumenical activities in the WCC or in local church councils. The difference is the presence of a common ground in dicussing the faith, as both families have overcome their previous points of conflict by coming to a confirmation of common faith -not a compromise- and have been able to discuss matters in charity , enjoying better circumstances than before.

It is therefore important to point out that our reference to the reverend monks of Athos and their zeal for Orthodoxy was not meant in sarcasm or in any negative manner, for these are qualities that have perserved the Orthodox Church. Yet we may ask those who put all ecumenical activities in the same basket about any resemblence or similarity between the EO-OO dialogues and the other ecumenical activities that are under criticism from both sides. Such is not an Orthodox behavior either, for both sides were engaged in ecumenical talks immediately after Chalcedon. To reject such steps is to reject the road that our fathers undertook in hope for reconcilation when schism was still "fresh". As long as their is a basis for discussion and a common Tradition before CHalcedon, why reject the whole thing ?

As for the criticised ecumenical activities in councils that include Orthodox in their membership, I believe Orthodox did not achieve any of their goals from such councils and talks because there was no clear criteria for our mission in such councils to begin with. Our presence was redundant, carrying little weight and exerting no influence as evident from the continuous development of new false teachings and practices within the Protestant churches and in part the Catholic church. On the other hand, Protestant teachings can creep from the backdoor into our churches.

The Protestants had a clear agenda that promoted the establishment of the WCC as a way to reunite all their sects and cults. Because of the nature of Protestantism and the lack of common reference, the Protestants changed their approach from discussing theological,soteriological and other differences to quite the opposite, totally neglecting such matters. With the growth of certain Protestant denominations and cults and its evolution into political groups rather than religious and truth seeking groups, the ecumenical talks seems to serve their goals quite well. Protestants have for the most part eliminated much of the differences between them. They downplayed it as: "..a different color of a carpet" or " different taste for worship". It is in line with their own history and thought development.

As for RC church, ecumenical talks for them -in my humble view- is not so much about doctrines as much as to bring every christian sect under the umbrella of Rome. The unity with the Church of the East is not easy to understand if loyality to Tradition is considered. Taking this road required some concessions. The statement by H.H. Pope John Paul II regarding the possibility of salvation without the Blood of Christ, without the cross, in which H.H. reaffirmed the doctrines of Vatican II, is most troubling for Orthodox, but not for Rome. They are making progress towards their goal of Roman universal jurisdiction, and for the first time since centuries Protestants are not so negative about Rome. That Rome moved towards the liberal side -accorsing to orthodox standards- is quite expected, but they are moving towards their goal.

What is the goal for the Orthodox ?

By the way, a question to think about : Will an ecumenical religion that hones every other religion in it be the religion of the Antichrist ? A shot in the dark as any speculation about the end of times seems to be.


#11 Guest_Hussam X

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Posted 27 November 2005 - 05:08 AM

Dear Mina Soliman,
apparently the posts order got mixed, so I am not sure if you figured out that the reference to the anticipated reunion liturgy was made in Mina Mounir's post in the original thread.
I quote:
"....and we see team work in the WCC preparing for : i) one dyptiches for mutual usage between the famillies. ii)"Surprise!!" Coptic and Greek church will held two masses .. one in the St.Mark Cathedral in cairo and the other in greece .. in a great festival will be held to partake Communion together. we need intensive prays for that step to be taken soon. these new I got them from inside the Ecumenism office of the church and the WCC Journals."
[link]

Regards.

(Message edited by admin on 27 November, 2005)


#12 Kosta

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Posted 19 July 2006 - 06:30 AM

The article provided by Mina Soliman from the British Orthodox Church is benefical for our discussion about ecumenism, for it shows the difference in approach between EO-OO talks and the other ecumenical activities in the WCC or in local church councils. The difference is the presence of a common ground in dicussing the faith, as both families have overcome their previous points of conflict by coming to a confirmation of common faith -not a compromise- and have been able to discuss matters in charity , enjoying better circumstances than before.

It is therefore important to point out that our reference to the reverend monks of Athos and their zeal for Orthodoxy was not meant in sarcasm or in any negative manner, for these are qualities that have perserved the Orthodox Church. Yet we may ask those who put all ecumenical activities in the same basket about any resemblence or similarity between the EO-OO dialogues and the other ecumenical activities that are under criticism from both sides. Such is not an Orthodox behavior either, for both sides were engaged in ecumenical talks immediately after Chalcedon. To reject such steps is to reject the road that our fathers undertook in hope for reconcilation when schism was still "fresh". As long as their is a basis for discussion and a common Tradition before CHalcedon, why reject the whole thing ?

As for the criticised ecumenical activities in councils that include Orthodox in their membership, I believe Orthodox did not achieve any of their goals from such councils and talks because there was no clear criteria for our mission in such councils to begin with. Our presence was redundant, carrying little weight and exerting no influence as evident from the continuous development of new false teachings and practices within the Protestant churches and in part the Catholic church. On the other hand, Protestant teachings can creep from the backdoor into our churches.

The Protestants had a clear agenda that promoted the establishment of the WCC as a way to reunite all their sects and cults. Because of the nature of Protestantism and the lack of common reference, the Protestants changed their approach from discussing theological,soteriological and other differences to quite the opposite, totally neglecting such matters. With the growth of certain Protestant denominations and cults and its evolution into political groups rather than religious and truth seeking groups, the ecumenical talks seems to serve their goals quite well. Protestants have for the most part eliminated much of the differences between them. They downplayed it as: "..a different color of a carpet" or " different taste for worship". It is in line with their own history and thought development.

As for RC church, ecumenical talks for them -in my humble view- is not so much about doctrines as much as to bring every christian sect under the umbrella of Rome. The unity with the Church of the East is not easy to understand if loyality to Tradition is considered. Taking this road required some concessions. The statement by H.H. Pope John Paul II regarding the possibility of salvation without the Blood of Christ, without the cross, in which H.H. reaffirmed the doctrines of Vatican II, is most troubling for Orthodox, but not for Rome. They are making progress towards their goal of Roman universal jurisdiction, and for the first time since centuries Protestants are not so negative about Rome. That Rome moved towards the liberal side -accorsing to orthodox standards- is quite expected, but they are moving towards their goal.

What is the goal for the Orthodox ?

By the way, a question to think about : Will an ecumenical religion that hones every other religion in it be the religion of the Antichrist ? A shot in the dark as any speculation about the end of times seems to be.



You make excellent points. And yes I think EO-OO dialogue is truly a place where a healthy ecumenism can produce good fruits.
I'm not sure though things are as cut and dry as you make it on the monophyiste controversy. Obviously there are also theologians on the Oriental side which disagree on the fruits of these discussions.

Thats where the Athonite monks make a clear stand. The Chalcedon controversy created martyrs on both sides many who are venerated Saints. Yet the current situation claims that these saints and church Fathers on BOTH sides were simply ignorant stupid men who couldnt tell the difference between semantics and heresy (even though the coptic and greek language and culture are alike!).

I also believe there are reservations on the OO side, since all thats holding re-union is for the non-chalcedon to accept the 4th-7th ecumenical councils.
If re-union occurs without the need to accept the councils, then we have become protestants. Any Ecumenist will find similar loopholes to push their agenda & protestant apologetics will use this to show that Orthodoxy accepts anyone as their own as well.

The other point i wanted to make is to criticise my Church on this.

You have truly summed up what most Orthodox believe. Unfortunately most heirarchs who are into the ecumenism scene do not care about the non-chalcedon churches. The Orthodox ecumenists only care about union with the large rich western churches. The E.P. needs their clout , he needs them as allies for his survival in Turkey. The other Ecumenists seem to have an inferiority complex, where the western churches "is where its at" and once again dont care about the other "dying" churches of the east. This is where the Laity needs to wake up and demand true healthy ecumenism and chastise their bishops for acting with submissiveness to the western heresies. Last time this happened it ended in an ecumenist tragedy of epic proportions: the council of florence!

#13 Ryan

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Posted 05 September 2006 - 05:13 PM

I have wondered, just what is "healthy ecumenism"? If a church is in the WCC but does not accept that "branch theory," then why is it there? There seems to be an idea that membership in the WCC is an aspect of missionary work. However, do ecumenists really expect to gain converts by meeting in committees with the official representatives of other churches, reaching decisions which most church members (in any church) will probably never hear about? It seems to me that membership in these bodies is at best a waste of time.

#14 Scott Pierson

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Posted 05 September 2006 - 10:14 PM

I have wondered, just what is "healthy ecumenism"? If a church is in the WCC but does not accept that "branch theory," then why is it there? There seems to be an idea that membership in the WCC is an aspect of missionary work. However, do ecumenists really expect to gain converts by meeting in committees with the official representatives of other churches, reaching decisions which most church members (in any church) will probably never hear about? It seems to me that membership in these bodies is at best a waste of time.


Good point. How many people do you know who became Orthodox because of evangelism that took place at a WCC meeting? Personally I dont know any. With all the time, effort, and money spent on it you would think our Church would be growing by leaps and bounds via the influx of new converts coming in from WCC meetings. Apparently our "ecumenical representatives" must have some reason other then the "evangelism" they talk so much about for going there. The only real fruit of the eccumenical movement = thousands of scandalized Orthodox and a few schisms! Instead of uniting Christians it actually works to divide Orthodox.

How ever did Saint Paul evangelize the world without a WCC?

#15 Mina Soliman

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Posted 14 September 2006 - 07:38 AM

Hi!

Just a few comments:

Thats where the Athonite monks make a clear stand. The Chalcedon controversy created martyrs on both sides many who are venerated Saints. Yet the current situation claims that these saints and church Fathers on BOTH sides were simply ignorant stupid men who couldnt tell the difference between semantics and heresy (even though the coptic and greek language and culture are alike!).


Such a conclusion is quite harsh. In the dialogues, I think they seem to have put it this way (paraphrasing in my own words): "Away from emperialistic threats and other factors, we were able to look past the condemnations and study deeply that no father spoke differently concerning doctrine."

Now, how was there any misunderstandings? That takes 100s of pages to explain, but I would recommend a book that seems to explain the situation very well and comprehensively (if you so wish, along with Fr. John Romanides' articles online). In conclusion, misunderstandings do happen, and we as humans are not infallible (although thank God, the Holy Spirit still kept the spirit of infallibility in us when it came to doctrine).

So, I contend that you need to make more research (and please don't make it one-sided, like orthodoxinfo.com, although I have a sympathy into why they are concerned) before you make such a conclusion like that.

I also believe there are reservations on the OO side, since all thats holding re-union is for the non-chalcedon to accept the 4th-7th ecumenical councils.
If re-union occurs without the need to accept the councils, then we have become protestants. Any Ecumenist will find similar loopholes to push their agenda & protestant apologetics will use this to show that Orthodoxy accepts anyone as their own as well.


Again, you seem to haven't studied the situation comprehensively in order to get the gist. The flip side to this argument would be that you reject Chalcedon completely to unite with us, and that is a very tempting thing to do (in fact, I'm sure many OO's want this). In addition, if you go with a one-sided unity plan, we might also require you to accept Ephesus 449 and 475 (even though we don't consider them "ecumenical," but have a significant importance to OO tradition).

Or, you can read the history and understand why certain things occured. Did you know or ever consider that what was known as the "Robber's Council" was actually not endorsing Eutychianism? Or that Ephesus 475 attended by 500+ bishops condemned Nestorianism (which included Chalcedon at the time) and Eutychianism as well? Did you ever consider reading those parts of history before you make judgments like yours? Did you ever consider the bloodshed Marcian had done in order to force both Chalcedon and the Tome of Leo down the OO's throats? Or that the four Christological adverbs adopted by the definition of Chalcedon were actually Dioscorian (in the council itself)? (forgive me for this one-sidedness, but I'm only making a point; I'm sure there is the other side to consider)

I personally believe that it's wonderful that despite our stubborn miscommunications through the centuries, we spoke the same Orthodox faith, and that to me is the work of the Holy Spirit. To me, we are not the Church of Leo or Dioscorus (even though we [should] respect aspects of both men), but we are the Church of Christ, that kept the true faith.

You have truly summed up what most Orthodox believe. Unfortunately most heirarchs who are into the ecumenism scene do not care about the non-chalcedon churches. The Orthodox ecumenists only care about union with the large rich western churches. The E.P. needs their clout , he needs them as allies for his survival in Turkey. The other Ecumenists seem to have an inferiority complex, where the western churches "is where its at" and once again dont care about the other "dying" churches of the east. This is where the Laity needs to wake up and demand true healthy ecumenism and chastise their bishops for acting with submissiveness to the western heresies. Last time this happened it ended in an ecumenist tragedy of epic proportions: the council of florence!


That's a very interesting pov. This and many other factors (including disunity within OO's and EO's) may in fact hinder future developments to unity.

But I'd like to reiterate and invite you to read the article I posted a couple of posts ago. The OO-EO talks are a different "ecumenism." In fact, one traditionalist Chalcedonian have noticed how much Coptic Orthodox have composed themselves in such ecumenical meetings and in not compromising their faith, which is considered quite admirable, and "true ecumenism." Perhaps, by being so traditionalist ourselves (Copts), we seem to slowly attract more and show why the meetings reached to such an interesting conclusion.

I've watched a video concerning the issue of ecumenism, and I've seen why it's been an issue to EO's (despite the fact that it was anti-OO). As for us, we don't go for a minimalist view like the RC's or Protestants, but we have to look at all the aspects of faith before unity, and this we did, and I assure you, you will be pleased if you take the time to read the minutes and see what they had to go through in order to understand one another, rather than the political wastes of time you see in places like the WCC.

Please forgive me, a sinner.

Mina

#16 Olga

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Posted 14 September 2006 - 07:48 AM

Dear Scott

St Paul didn't need a WCC to evangelise the world for two reasons: Firstly, the numbers of the faithful were smaller then, and secondly, the Church had not been divided by schism into thousands of denominations and splinter groups as is the case today. BTW, I also cannot see the point of a WCC as being beneficial to the Orthodox Church.

#17 Mina Soliman

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Posted 16 September 2006 - 07:42 PM

I'd like to apoligize for leading the topic astray a bit. Perhaps, I can do myself some service and bring it back, and try to bring some relevance into the last post I've written. Perhaps also this may convince that, at least in the OO perspective, we are not "ecumenists" in the sense of compromising our faith for false unity. In fact, this article that I will show is written by a very well-known Coptic Orthodox Metropolitan, and a leading figure in today's ecumenical talks, and he shares in part of this article an experience that got him and many other Orthodox Christian theologians and clergy irritated with the WCC.

I hope perhaps this could be one of many proofs that (at least the OO's) do not beat around the bush just for the sake of unity with EO's, but rather these meetings were deeply thought-provoking dialogues.

God bless.

Mina

===================================================================

Principals of Ecumenical Theological Education


First : Listening to Other Opinions
We want to raise a generation which is prepared to listen to the opinions of others despite of its difference. There is such a distinction between having clarity in sight, in problems concerning dogma, and between not being ready to listen to an opinion contrary to ones view or understanding, to an extent that one could not tolerate listening to the end of the sentence.

A question occurs in this respect : “If someone was speaking and another interrupted, would this be considered a wrong method?” To give an answer to this, we say that it is permissible to interrupt on condition that an opportunity is given for the speaker to continue with the speech once more. In other words: the aim of interruptions should not be to forbid the speech but just to propose an intervening notice. If someone has an observation, it could be said in the middle of another’s speech, however not in the forbidden-spirit which we want to be apart from.

What is forbidden, is that there may be someone who could not tolerate listening to the end of the another’s speech. The phrase “not being able to tolerate” means that one forbids the continuance of the speech and refuses to listen. We call this a parting-spirit. The parting-spirit is not having the intention to listen to another’s opinion. This is what we need to resist in our children. We want to implant in our children the endowment to listen to the opinions of others.

A Generation of Unique Opinion Opposes any New Thought

If we rear a generation, unable to listen to anything other than what they know and are convinced of, the day would come when they would oppose us, if it occurred that our understanding or our view to a certain situation was broadened. For instance, you could read some sayings of Saint Athanasius or Saint Cyril the Great and your understanding widens on a certain matter. If it occurs thereby, that you expose this new understanding to the youth that were brought up with certain understandings, they would oppose you, yourself. They would not only oppose other churches or sects, but because they were not adapted to listening to an opinion other than what they were formerly taught, they would oppose you also.


Second : Differentiating between the Theological Terminology and the Difference in Essence of Dogmatic Faith

In the days of Saint Athanasius the Greek word hypostasis was translated essence by some and person by others. Some said, that when you consider that the Trinity is three hypostasis, you believe in three essences in God which is Polytheism and you are accused of heresy and of believing in diversity of Gods. Others consider that whoever says that God is a one hypostasis are Sabilians who believe in one persona. This was a result of the different usages of the word hypostasis. One takes it to mean essence, the other considers it to mean person. This became a problem between two schools.

Saint Athanasius’ answer to this was as follows: “If someone wanted to take the word ‘hypostasis’ to mean ‘person’, then they are three hypostaseis. If another takes it to mean ‘essence’, then it is one hypostasis”. Saint Athanasius said that he might use the two expressions in one day. Saying this, Saint Athanasius gave us a great lesson in the way of searching for theological truth and not theological termonology. Many disputes and distinctions resulted from the differences and the interpretations of the theological terms.

Interpretation of Theological Terms

In our dialogue, as a non-Chalcedonian family, with the Chalcedonian Roman Orthodox Church we reached an agreement because each party offered a theological interpretation of the terms that they used, to avoid any mental ambiguity, and that no party would accuse the other of Eutachianism or Nestorianism. This is why, the theological interpretations of the terms are important.

During Christological dialogues that have taken place, we said that whoever proclaims two inseparable natures in Jesus Christ means the continual unity of the two natures. While those who proclaim one nature with no confusion, means that these two natures are diffused or separable. They would affirm that in the moment of incarnation, when this unity occurred, the two natures did not continue to be divided after they were united. The two natures entered into a state of unity in nature () or a unity of nature () or a real unity. This is why they proclaim of a one nature in which the two natures exist without mingling, but the two natures exist. Each nature keeps its attributes without mingling with the other nature, but both natures formed a real unity with one another. This unity is called the nature of the incarnation or the incarnate nature.

Those who speak of two inseparable natures after the unity means the continuity of having the two natures. Whereas, those who speak of a one unmingling nature speak of the state of being of the two natures but both parties deny the division and mingling of natures after unity. Moreover these two distinct expressions could increase the spirit of insight if they were put side by side. They explain the situation more clearly when put together.

In our Coptic Orthodox terminology we say “One Nature of Two” and if the other party accepts this expression and says that he believes in two inseparable natures, we know that his expression has nothing wrong in it at all, since he accepts my expression, and affirms at the same time, that by his expression he does not mean to cancel any of the two natures but that the two natures remain in existence after the unity. The different expressions supports and strengthens each other rather than wrestle and fight. This is one of many examples of how to differentiate between the difference in theological terminology and the essence of dogmatic faith.

The conclusion of this point is, that what we should implant in our youth is not to be fast in taking a decision against those who use different expressions. They should wait to know what the other party means, because he may conclude to the same truth in your heart but he expresses it in a different way. Try to listen and think in a calm, clear method and never pick up mistakes.


Third : Ecumenicalism is Openness and not Renunciation
Ecumenicalism is not renounciation of dogma to satisfy others or to be courteous to them, but it is an openness to listen to the opinions and have dialogues with others to reach meeting points.

During the Seventh General Assembly of the World Council of Churches which was held in Canberra, Australia we were surprised at the declarations issued, as we were attending as members in the Council (not as observers). We recognised that some spoke of Eucharistic Hospitality (this was the expression used) meaning that anyone who attends in any church should be able to partake of the Eucharist.

This is their own view and we admire it, but the point is that they attacked the church that does not do what they do. How are they sharing in an Ecumenical Council and they are attacking other churches? This attack means that they impose on others to do what they are doing or else we become retarded and self discriminate etc. in their point of view.

We would like to know others’ opinions and hear the interpretations of their case in papers that express their points of view. What the Eucharistic Hospitality believers did, is that they declared their opinion in general statements and not as a personal view. It was an accusation by the majority to the minority. (The Orthodox Churches form 25% of the Council and the total Protestant sects form 75%.) The Catholic Church did not join but only attended as observers in all areas except in Faith and Order in which they participated - in a limited membership that does not represent their true enumeration in the world).

Real ecumenicalism does not demand from anyone to renounce his dogmas to satisfy others. It is mutual understanding to the proposed affairs in order to reach solutions. The statements of declarations that the Eucharistic Hospitality group issued as a majority made the minority feel under pressure. This is not ecumenicalism. This is not openness.

The Role of the Other Party

What is the role of the other party? Here comes the importance of ecumenical rearing. It is not what is spread commonly amongst some mentalities in our days, that Ecumenicalism means renounciation of dogmas in order to satisfy others. If it was so, we would never reach real unity. They say that you are ecumenical if you do not stick to any thought and this is a new definition to ecumenicalism. Many sectors might accept this definition but many others won’t. Those who do not accept, want to reach unity by means of a dialogue, which leads to mutual understanding and unity of thought.



Fourth : Implanting the Idea of Unity Inside the Youth

Implanting the idea of unity in the hearts and minds of the youth, is a basic demand for the Christian life. Some churches, priests and pastors implant torn thoughts in people.

How do we teach the child from his early days in the church, to endeavor efforts in order to reach unity of the Church? Shall we reach it by making the child have communion in other churches? Of course not … What we mean, is to bring up the child prepared to befriend children of different sects; to have mutual understanding thoughts; calm dialogue and in a spirit of friendship and amity as their little minds enable them. We do not object that the child has a naive friendship with another child of other sects. The child should not look to others as his enemies. We should implant this spirit even if it is a little seed. The child should believe in the unity of the church. (We shall explain in point seven the basis of performing the unity of the Church).


Fifth : The Catholicity and the Conciliarity of the Church
The idea of Catholicity of the Church should be clear in the minds of the youth, as well as the idea of conciliarity of the Church.

The Catholicity of the Church

The Catholicity of the church is that the church becomes in unity and Holy Communion everywhere, all over the world through the Eucharist. Since we share the same heart; thought and Eucharist this is the Catholicity.

Saint Ignatius“Theophorus” wrote in his epistle to the people of Smyrna “See that ye all follow the bishop, even as Jesus Christ does the Father, and the presbytery as ye would the apostles; and reverence the deacons, as being the institution of God. Let no man do anything connected with the Church without the bishop. Let that be deemed a proper Eucharist, which is [administered] either by the bishop, or by one to whom he has entrusted it. Wherever the bishop shall appear, there let the multitude [of the people] also be; even as, wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church.”

The Conciliarity of the Church

When the Apostolic Church first originated, there were some disagreements, therefore no one acted by himself in any aspect whatsoever. When Saint Peter baptised Cornelius the Church refused to accept so “Peter began and explained everything to them precisely as it happened” (Acts 11:3). As the Apostolic Church had the spirit of listening to others opinions, they accepted to listen to him and he explained the story from the beginning; how God accepted the Gentiles to faith and gave them the Holy Spirit. Saint Peter himself said “can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptised who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have” (Acts 10:47).

At the beginning, Saint Peter used to think in the same way as the other apostles, but God revealed to him and He made actual steps that could not be opposed. Saint Peter was liable to renounce and apologise if the apostles’ opinion was, that what he did was wrong, but the Holy Spirit interfered and said to the eleven apostles that they should accept what was done through Saint Peter. Actually, they agreed to what was done through the guidance of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit was one in all of them. Saint Paul expressed it in what he said to his disciple Timothy “the good thing which was committed to you, keep by the Holy Spirit who dwells in us” (2 Timothy 1:14). He did not tell him “who dwells in you” because this is the faith that the Holy Spirit lives in the community and not in the person.

In another situation Saint Paul recognised Saint Peter’s hypocrisy with the brothers who came from Judea. Refusing to eat with the Gentiles who were baptised and already became Christians. Saint Paul said to him “If you, being a Jew, live in the manner of Gentiles and not as the Jews, why do you compel Gentiles to live as Jews?” (Galatians 2:14). He also said “But when Peter had come to Antioch, I withstood him to his face, because he was to be blamed” (Galatians 2:11).

Here, we recognise, that at one time Saint Peter was in line with the truth and the eleven apostles had not yet accepted, the same revelation from the Holy Spirit as he did - but they accepted it through the conciliarity of the meeting later. In the other situations Saint Peter was not in line with the truth and he was told through Saint Paul the Apostle who told him this in apostolic humility had previously said “I went up again to Jerusalem … by revelation and communicated to them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles. But privately to those who were of reputation (Peter, James and John)” (Gal. 2:1-2). “lest by any means I might run or had run in vain” (Gal. 2:2) He went to set before the Church, the gospel that he is preaching, after fourteen years of the beginning of his service, to ensure that he is not working on his own. They gave him the right hand of fellowship and blessed him, as a result he was able to continue preaching the gospel.

We should teach our children the meaning of the unity of the Church. Unity is not to bring a group of people together inside the church building; it is not the proselytism and it is not forming collections and increasing numbers. Unity is giving the opportunity for the Holy Spirit to work in me and in others, reconciling to one heart and one thought. Instead of exerting all my efforts in proselytising groups of people of other churches, my goal should be how to gain everyone not to my church’s authority but rather to be in reconciliation to form together the One Catholic Apostolic Church.

The conciliarity of the Church, is that one should not have an independent opinion but that he should live through the community and intellect of the fathers.

The Conciliarity is that one should not think that he is conducting the church himself, but should know that the others are mirrors that reveal the truth. When Saint Peter went to look through the mirror of the apostles they told him “then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance into life” (Acts 11:18). It is also said “that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the Gospel” (Ephesians 3:6). In some translations it is said “the Idolaters are heirs and partakers of His promise”. The Idolater here means those who are not of the Jewish race. We do not mean that this is their religion or that they share the promise as they are of another religion.

Many gospels and epistles were written, but what was accepted by the catholic Church was considered a Divine Inspired Bible and Holy Scripture : the breath of God. Only what the catholic Church accepted was considered Bible. The gospel is not holy unless it is accepted by the catholic Church as all the bible researches and theologians know.

Is all what Saint Peter said considered an inspiration of the Holy Spirit? No, the proof is what Saint Paul said “I withstood him to his face, because he was to be blamed” (Gal. 2:11). What he wrote and was accepted by the catholic Church, only this was considered a divine inspiration. Saint Peter could have written private notes or written what Saint Paul said about him, and this was not scripture. Only what the Church acknowledged was the Holy Bible. So, it is not a matter of private actions, as the Holy Spirit guides the communion of those in faith, and guides the Church to proclaim truth in it.

In the writings of Saint Peter, we find a clear witness to Saint Paul’s writings as Saint Peter said: “as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which those who are untaught and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures” (2 Peter 3:15-16). Saint Peter witnessed that all the letters of Saint Paul are similar to other books of the scripture and that if anyone distorted it, he is destructive. So Saint Paul’s letters are considered holy scripture by the catholic Church.

In Saint Peter’s witness we realize that he said “his epistles”, then he said “the wisdom given to him”, then he said “which those who are untaught and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures”. He did not differentiate between distorting the Exodus, Matthew, or any of Saint Paul’s letters because all the book is an inspiration of God. These books were accepted through the Holy Spirit in the church.

This is the catholic Church when it lives in conciliarity. This Catholicity of the church can be fulfilled by the conciliarity of the church.

These are the understandings that should reach our children in one way or another.


Sixth : The Example in Teaching Children
When a priest has a meeting with the Church Council, do we find a spirit of conciliarity amongst them. Or is the priest a dictator in the Church. This is the example that the children will learn from.

In Sunday School does the teacher give an opportunity for children to share in the lesson? Is the lesson a dialogue or a monologue and mere dictating? If God himself had entered through dialogues with his servants, what should human beings do to each others. Unfortunately, in this point some men consider themselves superior to God.

We should review things with ourselves : do we intend to teach children the spirit of dialogue and sharing with others or are we teaching them superiority and dictating not giving an opportunity for others to share.


Seventh : Unity in Faith is the Basis of Performing the Unity of the Church

Unity should be performed on the basis of the unity in faith as Saint Paul said “one Lord, one faith, one baptism” (Eph. 4:5) If God is One then the Faith should be one. This is the effective way that leads to the one baptism. Whoever has an enthusiastic spirit for the unity of the church should put his hand with ours to reach unity of faith and should not cling to sidewise things as: why don’t we share communion? Because it is more serious not to have one thought and one heart rather than not sharing communion. We should build unity on the correct basis.

One opinion says that mixed marriages are an effective way for performing unity in the Church; for the one house is going to unite two different churches. In this way unity between two churches is reached in the one house even if the church authorities did not unite. This is only a theory and we do not attack opinions but our view is different in this respect.

Do we perform the unity of the church on basis of human love or of spiritual love? Is the Kingdom of God reached by human love between a man and a woman and not reached through a real spiritual unity which the Holy Spirit itself leads inside the church?


Eight : Searching for the Truth
A true Christian is not fanatic to a certain idea, rather he always searches for truth in a spirit of prayer humility. In him comes true what Jesus Christ said; “Everyone who is of the truth hears my voice” (John 18:37).

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--by His Eminence Metropolitan Bishoy
http://www.metroplit...ng/ecumrear.doc

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#18 Scott Pierson

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Posted 08 October 2006 - 06:43 PM

Dear Scott

St Paul didn't need a WCC to evangelise the world for two reasons: Firstly, the numbers of the faithful were smaller then, and secondly, the Church had not been divided by schism into thousands of denominations and splinter groups as is the case today. BTW, I also cannot see the point of a WCC as being beneficial to the Orthodox Church.


I dont think its theologicaly correct to say that the CHURCH is divided. People have simple seperated themselves from the Church. The Church itself is still one and will continue to be one. There have always been schismatic sects and heresy even in the early Church (the carpocrations, Valentinians, Simon Magus, etc) it may not have been as bad as it is now at the time of St Paul but it rapidly became (nearly) as bad and they never needed a WCC then.

#19 Peter Farrington

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Posted 08 October 2006 - 08:04 PM

I wonder Scott how you understand the divisions which exist within the Byzantine Church?

It seems to me that there has been a real division between ROCOR and the canonical Byzantine churches.

Or in the UK. There is a real division between the followers of +Basil and those adhering to the MP.

Or in breaches in communion with the EP which regularly occur.

Or the divisions between groups in the Ukraine or Bulgaria or in other places.

What are these if not divisions between Christians in the Byzantine Church.

And this is not even beginning to look at the schisms within the Chalcedonian Churches in the historical periods which lasted many decades and even in some circumstances for centuries.

Peter

#20 Olga

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Posted 09 October 2006 - 09:12 AM

The point must be made that many of these "splits" in the various Orthodox groups Peter mentioned are largely administrative/political, not doctrinal, and cannot be compared to a true schism as occurred between Rome and the East, or Rome and the Protestants.




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