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Orthodox approaches to ecumenism


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#41 Antonios

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Posted 11 October 2006 - 05:49 PM

(This is a duplicate of a post I wrote earlier which was added in out of order. Sorry about the repetition. I just want to ensure my OO friends they recieve the post)

Dear Peter and John,

I think I must first give my own personal opinion, for whatever it's worth (most likely, not much!). I would have all Christians united. If it were up to me, which of course it isn't, I would that all people would come to the Truth, as our Lord said. I would love all of us to be united under the same roof, singing praises to our God, and sharing from the same Cup of Life. In fact, I, in my insignificant understanding compared to the Wisdom of God, hope all are saved in the end, the devil included with all his demons! Yes, this has been deemed to be heresy, and I submit to those much more enlightened than me to correct me in such false hope. I must accept my limitations and bow to the mysteries of God.

I pray the EO and the OO fulfill the charge to be 'one Church'. I agree with you that we believe in the same Trinity, the same Jesus Christ, and I am in awe of the Providence of God which has seen to it that it is this way.

I think you understand, as a fellow Orthodox Christian, how much we value councils as part of the life of the Church. They define our beliefs. They defend our faith. They steer the children of God into the Truth. The EO has seven of the councils which are regarded as the basis of our faith. These act as pillars to the entire structure of the Church. It has been this way for centuries.

In the instance where the OO state they have the same beliefs (which I think you and your Church have demonstrated), and you state that you accept the faith of the councils, than we are very much in agreement on the most important and fundamental issues. The last issue that remains is the acceptance of the council, itself, which has recognized that same faith. I think we all sometimes underestimate what a turbulent time it must have been for Christendom during many of those councils, including Chaldean. They were councils of saintly men who were all sinners like us, but by the grace of the Holy Spirit and Divine Providence, the Truth always overcame such imperfections and inadequacies. Thus, even Chaldean, with its various controversies and weaknesses held true to who Christ is. This is the proof of the authority of these councils in the eyes of the EO. This is also what we hope our fellow brothers in Christ, the OO, also understand. That the authority of the council is the faith that it teaches. The council without the faith is meaningless. But the faith without the council is uncertain.

I guess, in conclusion, I plea and pray that the OO do accept the Seven Ecumenical councils fully, as authoratative and orthodox in the truest sense of the word, as we EO do and hold so dear to our hearts. I think this would make the greatest stride forward towards true unification and communion.

#42 John Charmley

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Posted 11 October 2006 - 06:05 PM

Dear Antonios,

There is much wisdom in what you say, and also much enlightenment. I'm glad you reposted this. The opinion of someone who thinks and writes as you do is always worth much.

Your statement

I pray the EO and the OO fulfill the charge to be 'one Church'. I agree with you that we believe in the same Trinity, the same Jesus Christ, and I am in awe of the Providence of God which has seen to it that it is this way.


expresses what I am sure many of us believe and hope for. How this will happen we can leave to the workings of the Holy Ghost - we must just try not to be obstacles! I think this thread, as with the others on this theme, show how far we have come.

I hope that much mutual enlightenment has come, and will come, this way.

God bless you.

In Christ,

John

#43 Scott Pierson

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Posted 11 October 2006 - 10:40 PM

I pray the EO and the OO fulfill the charge to be 'one Church'. I agree with you that we believe in the same Trinity, the same Jesus Christ, and I am in awe of the Providence of God which has seen to it that it is this way.


I may be misunderstanding the meaning of this but it seems to imply that the Church can be one Church (if it fulfills the charge of Christ) or the Church can be split into two, three , or more "parts" or "branchs". If so wouldnt that imply a belief in the "Branch Theory " ? A theory the Orthodox involved in the WCC are constantly denying they adheare to but a theory their statements often support none the less.

#44 Scott Pierson

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Posted 11 October 2006 - 10:59 PM

The issue of the number of councils is an interesting one. Some EO state that their are 7 and others 9. All EO hold to the teachings of the 8th and 9th but there is debate on the issue of those councils being Eccumenical or merely local. This is what Orthodoxwiki says on the subject:

As far as some Orthodox are concerned, since the Seventh Ecumenical Council there has been no synod or council of the same scope as any of the Ecumenical councils. Local meetings of hierarchs have been called "pan-Orthodox," but these have invariably been simply meetings of local hierarchs of whatever Eastern Orthodox jurisdictions are party to a specific local matter. From this point of view, there has been no fully "pan-Orthodox" (Ecumenical) council since 787. Unfortunately, the use of the term "pan-Orthodox" is confusing to those not within Eastern Orthodoxy, and it leads to mistaken impressions that these are ersatz ecumenical councils rather than purely local councils to which nearby Orthodox hierarchs, regardless of jurisdiction, are invited.

Others, including 20th century theologians Fr. John S. Romanides and Fr. George Metallinos (both of whom refer repeatedly to the "Eighth and Ninth Ecumenical Councils"), Fr. George Dragas, Metropolitan Hierotheos (Vlachos) of Nafpaktos, and the 1848 Encyclical of the Eastern Patriarchs (which refers explicitly to the "Eighth Ecumenical Council" and was signed by the patriarchs of Constantinople, Jerusalem, Antioch, and Alexandria as well as the Holy Synods of the first three), regard other synods beyond the Seventh Ecumenical Council as being ecumenical. Those who regard these councils as ecumenical often characterize the limitation of Ecumenical Councils to only seven to be the result of Jesuit influence in Russia, part of the so-called "Western Captivity of Orthodoxy."**


** It would make sense that the latins would be less then happy with St Palamas and his teachings and would want to keep EO from holding the council that proclaimed the truth of his teaching as eccumenical.

#45 Mina Soliman

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Posted 12 October 2006 - 11:10 PM

If I have to choose between trusting modern "scholars" or the Fathers on an issue regarding faith, dogma, heresy, and things of that nature I will choose the fathers 100% of the time. The dogmas and teachings of the faith are not created via rational inquirery and scholarly investigation. If they were, they could be right or they could be wrong.. they would be nothing more then opinion and of a merely human nature. You don’t find spiritual truth through debate, logic, interfaith dialogue or philosophical investigation. The dogma, the ecumenical councils, liturgy and patristic consensus is of a divine origin and can not be subjected to rational critique. The fathers have an illumined mind and posses supra-rational gnosis I don’t know if I can say the same of those who are involved in the WCC dialogue who disagree with the views of the fathers.


Dear Scott,

If I believe that my own fathers have some amazing Gnosis that I cannot attain and they believe that your fathers were Nestorians, would you start to say that our fathers were wrong? But how can I trust you, a Nestorian, over my own Orthodox fathers?

God bless.

Mina

#46 Mina Soliman

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Posted 12 October 2006 - 11:12 PM

I may be misunderstanding the meaning of this but it seems to imply that the Church can be one Church (if it fulfills the charge of Christ) or the Church can be split into two, three , or more "parts" or "branchs". If so wouldnt that imply a belief in the "Branch Theory " ? A theory the Orthodox involved in the WCC are constantly denying they adheare to but a theory their statements often support none the less.


If you think that a Church united based on faith, but not on men a "Branch Theory," then this is no different than a Roman Catholic uniting based on the faith of a Petrine Papalist.

I totally contend that the WCC has NOTHING to do with the EO/OO talks, and how both found out about one another as speaking no difference in the essence of faith. I urge you, if not believing the scholars themselves, to believe the writings of our own fathers themselves.

God bless.

Mina

#47 Scott Pierson

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Posted 13 October 2006 - 12:58 AM

If I believe that my own fathers have some amazing Gnosis that I cannot attain and they believe that your fathers were Nestorians, would you start to say that our fathers were wrong? But how can I trust you, a Nestorian, over my own Orthodox fathers?


Yes I would claim that they are wrong. I have faith in the mind of the Church as expressed in the consensus of the fathers. I consider this faith to be well placed for a varity of reasons ( including the power of Orthodoxy to change lives, my own spiritual intutution, the sanctity of the EO fathers, etc...) Just as I have faith that God exists for example. No amount of "rational" debate or "proof" will change my mind on that. In other words I believe my religion and what it teaches from the mind of the Church as expressed by the fathers . Am i wrong for that? Your certainly free to think so but If I'm going to be Orthodox I might as well adhere to orthodoxy. Maybe having faith is just silly ?

I'm not saying its impossible for you (or anyone else for that matter )to attain to the same gnosis. I just have good reason to believe that the fathers have attained to it, and I have no reason to assume that others have if they dont produce the same fruits of sanctity, right doctrine, etc . With the saints we have assurance, with others it takes discernment to tell if they really "have it " . The vast majority of men do not attain to that level this side of the grave.

When we start to critique the teachings of the fathers (of which we have over a thousand years of consesus on the issue of the OO** ) we start to descend into protestantism. Nothing is firm and write in stone, everything is up for debate and each person considers themselves worthy to formulate their own unique teachings and reject what the Church has previously taught.

** I have yet to find an example of a saint who stated something to the effect of " people who call the OO outside the Church , schismatic or heretical are guilty of showing improper love and.... etc " . You would think, that given the prevelence of the view (that they are heretical )held by saints, bishops , lay man and monks for such a long period of time and the needless suffering the schism would have caused that at least a few of the saints would have questioned or challenged it if it was really wrong.

#48 Peter Farrington

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Posted 13 October 2006 - 09:20 AM

Dear Scott

I must admit to finding your view point rather problematic since you are saying that it does not matter at all what I believe you will always consider me to believe what your Fathers say I believe.

So when I say that I believe that Christ is fully God and fully man you will actually ignore that and say that I believe that the humanity in Christ is not real?

I am really surprised that you cannot see the difficulties in such a viewpoint, just from the basic level of Christian living. This isn't a matter of abstruse theory, you seem to be actually saying that you will not listen to what I/we believe you will go with what someone else says I/we believe.

If that is required of Eastern Orthodox then that is hugely problematic for me. Even when I discuss with Assyrians I absolutely want to know what they really believe. When I talk with Roman Catholics I want to know what they believe. Anything else is surely less than Christian? To impose a belief structure on someone against their absolute objection? That is just counter to any sort of logic.

Peter

#49 Scott Pierson

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Posted 13 October 2006 - 11:05 AM

Its certainly possible that some current OO do not believe the same way as their fathers and saints and therefore do have a view that is the same as the Church. If so they can join the EO Church via the normal means if they want to be in communion with it.. I dont think however that EO should claim that error has entered into the mind of the Church. I dont think we should change our ecclesiology to allow for "branchs" or the idea that the Church isnt one. Thats all. And the fact that a religious body merely posses proper belief doesnt make it the Church. There are all sorts of strange churches that use the title "Orthodox" and teach orthodox doctrine but were started by (for example) lay men who promoted themselves to bishop, or people who fled the discipline of EO hiearchs** , etc.. in other words its possible to be in schism while having correct beliefs and even if some of the current OO have changed and are now orthodox in belief that doesnt make the OO "part" of the Church.

Heck if the OO ever state as a body " We officaly accept and place ourselves under the authority of all the Eccumenical councils held by the EO" then I will have no problem with the idea that the OO are possible orthodox in belief as a body ( of course that wont make them the Church ).

** Yes I know those specific examples are not what happend with OO I'm just proving a point as to belief not being the only requirment for being the Church.

#50 Peter Farrington

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Posted 13 October 2006 - 11:15 AM

Hi Scott

Well its not 'some current OO' it is the Holy Synods of all the Oriental Orthodox Churches, and their bishops and priests and people.

In fact I have spent 12 years studying the OO tradition and can find no evidence whatsoever that what I am taught now by my bishops is any different to what has always been taught. Were that the case I would in fact be holding my bishops to account.

You refer again to the councils. Can you answer the question I posed elsewhere about the 5th Council. This council condemned the Three Chapters which had already been condemned in 449. There is no possibility at all of the Three Chapters ever being received by the Oriental Orthodox. Indeed for 100 years after Chalcedon, while Chalcedonians were accepting the Three Chapters as Orthodox the anti-Chalcedonians were still rejecting them as heretical.

In what way could any honest and objective person say that the position of the 5th council is rejected by the OO? We took this position 100 years before the Byzantine Church did after all! Do you consider that the OO reject the teaching of the 5th council?

I am proud to believe the same as all of my Fathers. Have you found anything in my regular explanations of my faith which you dispute? I would be pleased to clarify anything that is ambiguous.

Could you also clarify, am I now a schismatic but not a heretic? If I am a heretic then again could you point out where my faith is wrong? If I am a schismatic then are you agreeing that you can find nothing in my faith which is un-Orthodox.

Best wishes

Peter

#51 Scott Pierson

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Posted 13 October 2006 - 11:47 AM

[QUOTE]I am proud to believe the same as all of my Fathers. Have you found anything in my regular explanations of my faith which you dispute? I would be pleased to clarify anything that is ambiguous.[/QUOTE

For one your fathers taught that the OO Church was the one holy catholic and apostolic Church and that the EO was a heretical and schismatic sect. Something I dont see you as upholding I may be wrong though.

[QUOTE]Could you also clarify, am I now a schismatic but not a heretic? If I am a heretic then again could you point out where my faith is wrong? If I am a schismatic then are you agreeing that you can find nothing in my faith which is un-Orthodox.[/QUOTE]

I'm not sure if you personally are a heretic. I'm not making that claim. I do know what the God bearing fathers have said about the OO Church and the OO saints have stated about the EO Church though and I consider the EO fathers to be not only rational and loving people but also possesed of a God illumined mind. I also think the OO fathers were smart enough to know if someone else was disagreeing with them or not or if an issue was purely a matter of cultural differnces or such. If this current view is correct (that we have believed the same all along) then that doesnt really reflect well on the fathers or our respective churches.

#52 Peter Farrington

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Posted 13 October 2006 - 12:06 PM

Hi Scott

You haven's answered my question about the 5th council. Will you have a go.

Since the OO have always rejected the Three Chapters and there is no possible situation in which they would ever accept them, and since the Chalcedonians considered them as Orthodox for 100 years, in what sense do the OO reject the 5th council?

The Fathers of the OO did not think in terms of the EO being required to submit to the OO, they thought, as far as all the primary documentation I have shows, only in terms of wishing unity in the truth. This is why they made it easy for Chalcedonians to become Orthodox. They only had to reject heresy by a confession of faith. Even clergy were received in their orders and allowed to minister after a period of probation.

The Chalcedonians were considered to have allowed Nestorianism in by the back door, and the fact the half the Chalcedonian community supported the Three Chapters for over 100 years is telling in that regard, but they also understood that in general the Chalcedonians were Orthodox.

Some of the harsher comments were due to the fact that the Chalcedonians did try to wipe the anti-Chalcedonians off the face of the earth by force. Perhaps a hundred thousand bishops, priests, laity, men, women and children were killed by the Chalcedonian forces because they rejected Chalcedon as having let Nestorianism into the Church.

If you read the comments in that context they are understandable I guess. But the measured opinion of the Fathers is that which I express, that the EO was Orthodox but in error in some regards and needed to free itself of that error.

Some of our great Fathers, writing from difficult imprisonment by the Chalcedonian forces far away from home and likely to be killed at any time still speak eirenically and for 1500 years the Church has always received converts from the Chalcedonians by confession.

Personally I think that you are unwilling to be reflective about your own communion and confuse such reflection with being disloyal to your Fathers and your Church. For myself I do not believe that any of our Fathers, if they are saints, are wishing anything other than that this scandal be repaired. We did not live in the past, we cannot easily put ourselves into the past, to think critically is not to condemn. But we are responsible for the now. And if you say that you believe the same as I do about Christ and I curse you with an anathema then shame on me. Christ Himself can work out who is in His Church and who is not, but a plain confession of the truth about Christ cannot be ignored.

The past may not reflect well on our Fathers, but the present is in our hands. To perpetuate division between those who believe the same, even if it is, as you describe it, 'mere belief', seems to me to be a grave sin against the Holy Spirit. I think, as a nobody in the Church, that I would rather stand before the judgement having tried all I could to bring about the reconciliation of all those who believe the same about Christ, and yet have myself made mistakes, than not try at all and remain certain that any division between those who believe the same is entirely every one else's fault.

Peter

#53 John Charmley

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Posted 13 October 2006 - 10:07 PM

the fact that a religious body merely posses proper belief doesnt make it the Church.


What does it make it then?

Of course, if one starts and finishes from the position that the EO is the Church and unless you are in the EO, even if you possess 'proper belief' you are not in the EO, that would be logical; it would also preclude dialogue.

There are those who don't want to talk to anyone else, and don't much want to think about what anyone else says, because they are convinced that they are THE Church. I know Roman Catholics like this; I know Baptists like this; I know Plymouth Bretheren like this. Most of these good people were born into their faith, and most of them believe they are being true to the teachings of their Fathers and their traditions, just as Scott does. They are all, as I am sure Scott is, God-fearing, good men and women who do a great deal of good in the world. Unlike Scott, they have not been exposed to Orthodoxy, so they do not possess 'proper belief'; but clearly, by Scott's dictum, even if they did, they would not belong to the Church, would not be Orthodox, and if there is no salvation outside the Church, then they might not be saved.

I am glad that we are told that God is love, and that His compassion is infinite, and that He desires not the death of sinners, but that they should repent and be saved. It would, after all, be rather terrible for one in Scott's position if it turned out that his 'proper belief' was not enough because it transpired that Chalcedon was Nestorian, and therefore the EO were not 'the' Church. Then he too would be grateful that Our Lord shows more compassion and more understanding than some of His creation.

Of course Scott profoundly and deeply holds to his faith, so do my friends, so where does that leave us in this fractured world? If we follow Scott's logic, not talking to each other and, rather pridefully, I fear, waiting for everyone to realise and admit that the EO are the Church - even when the EO does nothing to reach out to them, and even when some of its people reject possible converts because of their ethnicity? Doesn't sound much like the work of the Holy Ghost to me.

None of this is to argue for syncretism, but it is to say that it is only by recognising the fragments of 'proper belief' in other Christian demoninations, and then working with them in dialogue, that the fragments will be gathered together. It will be the work of ages, but it won't even get to first base if any Christian refuses to accept the bona fides of those who also confess the name of Christ.

Obvioulsy that isn't enough by itself, but if we don't recognise it is a start, and that those who are Orthodox can work with it to bring those who are not to a realisation of the fulness of the Christian life in Orthodoxy, then are we not failing in the commission we were given by Our Founder?

I respect and admire the depth of Scott's faith - but his methodology is one that, literally, preaches to the converted. I am glad St. Paul did not take that view.

In Christ,

John

#54 Scott Pierson

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Posted 14 October 2006 - 02:17 PM

What does it make it then?


Having a certain belief does not make one a member of the Church by itself because Christianity is more then a belief. Satan believes in the Holy Trinity for example. There is also the matters of obediance to the Church (the EO Church of course), being baptised into the EO Church, being in communion with the Church etc....

I'm not saying that its impossible for those in other communions to have any relationship with God or to go to heaven when the die. I'm simply saying that their communions are not "The Church".

Yes I have (in this thread) taken as a presuposition that the EO Church is the true church but thats because this is an EO message board and I'm trying to comunicate with other EO my view that certain things that take place under the banner of eccumenism are not right.

If I'm preaching to those outside the Church with the idea in mind of bringing them into the EO Church I rarely ever even mention eccumenism or bring up the things i have here. I just tell them about the glories of the Church, her spirituality, artwork, worship, etc. I usually dont even mention other religions at all.

#55 Peter Farrington

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Posted 14 October 2006 - 03:33 PM

Dear Scott

I think that you have a mistaken view of the word 'believe' and therefore of faith if you think that Satan believes in the Holy Trinity.

In Orthodoxy the nature of belief is much more than an academic assent to the reality of some proposition but has to do with putting one's trust in the object of belief.

When we believe in the Holy Trinity we do not merely agree with a philosophical argument or proposition, but we put our trust in the Holy Spirit. And when we have faith in Christ we do not merely accept that He exists and may have become man, but we trust Him for our life and salvation.

Satan 'knows' that God exists but He does not 'know' God in the way that even the weakest of sinners knows God and is known by Him.

Therefore I think that your concept of 'merely believing' is false because you are making it a matter of merely agreeing with some propositions or facts. This is not Christian belief nor is it Christian faith. What your argument proposes is that those who have a living and vital faith in Christ and believe in God in the fullest sense, and describe their experience of God entirely in terms which we would call Orthodox, are in fact not formally Christian at all and certainly not members of the Church of Christ which is His body.

I am glad that you allow that it is not impossible that some of these people might find their way to heaven, but I think that I would always want to take a more joyful, positive and hopeful view of God's work in His world. I have to say that in fact your own description of your world view does have more in common with the Plymouth Brethren background I was glad to leave than it does with the Orthodoxy I have embraced.

If our faith is truly a matter of believing the right propositions then I can understand the sense of tension which seems to be present in these threads, but for me my faith is in the Persons of the Holy Trinity, not my understanding of the Holy Trinity, and I think this gives me a certain freedom to be more positive towards those of other communions who show by their lives a living faith in Christ.

Best wishes

Peter

#56 John Charmley

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Posted 14 October 2006 - 04:37 PM

Yes I have (in this thread) taken as a presuposition that the EO Church is the true church but thats because this is an EO message board and I'm trying to comunicate with other EO my view that certain things that take place under the banner of eccumenism are not right.

If I'm preaching to those outside the Church with the idea in mind of bringing them into the EO Church I rarely ever even mention eccumenism or bring up the things i have here. I just tell them about the glories of the Church, her spirituality, artwork, worship, etc. I usually dont even mention other religions at all.


Dear Scott,
Of course, and as I hope my last post indicated, no one could possibly argue that someone who was not an EO was; it is the presumption that the EO constitutes the sole repository of Christianity that is likely to be off-putting when talking to other Christians. The RC has the most wonderful artwork, spirituality, and once Pope Benedict has let the old Tridentine Mass back, it will again have a splendid liturgy; many RCs, indeed even some Anglicans, would probably agree that much of what passes for ecumenism is thinly-disguised syncretism, and as such disapprove of it as much as you do.

They can sit in their corner, you can sit in your corner, the Plymouth Bretheren can sit in yet another part of God's creation, and you can all rest assured that, according to the readings of your respective authorities and traditions, you are the sole pure repository of faith; no one would be able to argue any of you out of it, indeed, probably no one would much want to. In the meantime, the fractured and disordered world you have written so eloquently about elsewhere, remains as it is. Perhaps this is part of the reason for the powerful (and it is so powerful) pessimism you have expressed about this world?

When Peter writes:

If our faith is truly a matter of believing the right propositions then I can understand the sense of tension which seems to be present in these threads, but for me my faith is in the Persons of the Holy Trinity, not my understanding of the Holy Trinity, and I think this gives me a certain freedom to be more positive towards those of other communions who show by their lives a living faith in Christ


he has a powerful tool of evangelism. None of us can cast the first stone. We can know that Orthodoxy as we have received it and as we live it has provided us with a way of being in this world that gives us what we see as the fulness of the Faith. We cannot know exactly what being in another Christian denomination gives others, or how much (or how little) of the Orthodox teachings they have preserved; my own lot, for example, had preserved quite a lot - not enough as it stood, but enough for me to move towards a fuller experience of Orthodoxy. Simply to have said to a sinner such as myself, 'you must come to the Greek service, and you must accept that the Greek Orthodox have the fulness of the truth', before adding that, 'and by the way, since you aren't Greek, I suggest you go away', would have been neither helpful, nor charitable - and not particularly Christian, if I might say that.

If we accept that we are all made in the image of God, then it is up to us to find ways of working with other Christians in a way that convinces them, through the way we live and act, that the fulness of the Christian life is found in Orthodoxy.

Why must those of us who are uncomfortable with the WCC always be so defensive? Do we lack the faith to believe that through dialogue others may follow the path we are on? Why do we imagine that dialogue will result in Orthodoxy being sullied and diluted? The Ottomans didn't manage it; the Arab conquest of Egypt and the Middle East did not eliminate Orthodoxy; even the savage persecution of the Godless Communists did not achieve it. I don't see the WCC succeeding where that lot failed, although I am open to the argument that the 'softly softly' approach is quite as pernicious as active persecution - how could an exiting Anglican not be?

In Christ,


John

#57 Scott Pierson

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Posted 14 October 2006 - 05:37 PM

I think that you have a mistaken view of the word 'believe' and therefore of faith if you think that Satan believes in the Holy Trinity.


I know what your saying , that the word "believe" can go beyond its typical use in the english language now. I dont consider faith and believe to be exactly the same thing in general ussage though. In eccumenical dialogue people try to find out if people hold the same things as being true (ie believe). I dont think the eccumenist try to go beyond that and discover the hidden things of the heart ( ie the possesion of an illumined mind , gnosis , etc) they just want people to state things in a way that could logicaly be construed as the same to allow for uniting churches. So l was using the more limited definition of the word.

#58 Scott Pierson

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Posted 14 October 2006 - 05:42 PM

oops. My last post on "believe" wasnt really 100% correct. I think your criticism of that specific point has merit its just hard to admit when I'm wrong at times. I love to debate and be right its a problem i have.

#59 Scott Pierson

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Posted 14 October 2006 - 05:42 PM

They can sit in their corner, you can sit in your corner

,

I dont advocate EO sitting in their corner and keeping their faith to themselves. I think EO should spread the faith to the whole world. Lack of support for eccumenism doesnt imply lack of support for evangelism.

#60 Peter Farrington

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Posted 14 October 2006 - 06:11 PM

I know what your saying , that the word "believe" can go beyond its typical use in the english language now. I dont consider faith and believe to be exactly the same thing in general usage though.


Hi Scott

I understand what you mean, and I sometimes drive past a Baptist Church that has a poster which says something like,

"Believe that Jesus died for your sins and you will be saved".

That seems to me to be the wrong sort of believing. But it is not universal by any means. When I was a Plymouth Brother I did not 'believe things about Jesus', I 'believed in Jesus' which meant I had a relationship of faith and trust with Him.

My devout and orthodox catholic (small letters) Anglican priest contacts and friends do not 'believe things about Jesus' they also 'believe in Jesus'.

I think that your point is valid but unfairly directed at anyone who is not Eastern Orthodox.

In fact I have found over the last 12 years that by far the greatest number of people I have corresponded with who take the view of 'believing about things' are Eastern Orthodox. I have met countless EO who insist I 'accept the 7 councils' while not having a clue what they teach. The scholastic and merely linguistic approach seems to me to be alive and well in the EO I have known.

Indeed the phrase 'accept the 7 councils' seems to me in practice and in my experience, so you may have a different view, to be exactly the same as 'accept the Lord Jesus' and often just as empty of real spiritual meaning.

If the EO really wanted to go beyond what you condemn as the failings of ecumenists, I mean the focus only on words, then there would be a real desire to find the inner meaning and value of various terminologies. I don't find this widely present in EOxy. Rather I find that the idea that if only the words 'I accept the 7 councils' is used then all would be well. This is the same as 'praying a little prayer' at the end of a Gospel service. It doesn't necessarily guarantee anything at all.

I am glad to have found real faith nearly everywhere I have looked. (And this is while agreeing that there are those who are not Christian at all who use that name). Once again I am afraid I don't recognise the more negative picture you paint. The faith may be defective but I have met it in too many places to believe it is a matter of words only.

I was sitting with Anglicans and Roman Catholics a few weeks ago at an RC-OO conference. The fellowship we had was a real one in Christ, and the faith that was being lived out and expressed was a real one, not in words and concepts, but in Christ

Best wishes

Peter




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