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Orthodox approaches to ecumenism


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#61 Scott Pierson

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Posted 14 October 2006 - 07:53 PM

The faith may be defective but I have met it in too many places to believe it is a matter of words only.


I apologize if what I said implied that "its only a matter of words" outside the Church. I know that isnt true. I myself have sincerly had faith in a varity of things prior to becoming Orthodox so I know its untrue from personal experience. Many non Orthodox are perfectly sincere in their views. I was just trying to point out that (often at least) I see the eccumenists as focusing only on words with the intent of pacifiying the more traditional orthodox by saying "see they say the same words as us so their church must also be the one (?!) holy catholic and apostolic Church." or "a branch / part of the one...." (all the while claiming they dont adheare to the branch theory.).

#62 Peter Farrington

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Posted 14 October 2006 - 08:46 PM

Hi Scott

It did come over a bit like that, though there is no need to apologise, your clarification is more important.

I would like to know who these 'ecumenists' are that you keep posting about however.

I do not believe that any of those involved in the dialogue between the EO and OO are 'ecumenists' in the sense you are implying. Nor did the RC and Anglicans I met with a while ago seem to be 'ecumenists'. Nor indeed all of the EO bishops, priests and lay folk I met with last year in Sweden at an EO-OO conference.

All have seemed to be folk who have a genuine faith in the Person of our Lord Jesus Christ and find the same faith in others and are working and praying to see how reconciliation of those who love the same Lord might be possible.

I do of course know that there are liberal modernist ecumenists who don't believe about the same things as I do and quite possible might not believe in the same Christ that I do. But I have never been in a position of substantial dialogue with any of those,a nd I believe it to be a complete straw man to suggest that any substantive dialogue is being undertaken by any Orthodox with such folk.

Indeed dialogue is impossible with such folk, just as they would say that dialogue was impossible with Orthodox.

So I am a little confused why you keep speaking about 'ecumenists'?

My own bishop is, I am sure, willing to talk about the faith with any serious body, as long as it is useful. But that does not make him an ecumenist. I am willing to talk with you, that does not make me an ecumenist.

So I don't really see what you are getting it. It seems, to be honest, to be a straw man argument and even a vague term of abuse that can be mentioned like a bogey-man.

I don't adhere to the 'branch theory'. I don't think that the EO is a branch of the Church. But let me follow your argument for a moment.

I would have to say...

It sounds like you believe the Orthodox Faith, but you obviously don't. You obviously believe in two Sons. You are obviously a heretic and your hierarchy has no grace. I will in fact need to warn everyone I meet that despite the fact that you say you reject Nestorius you really venerate him. Indeed you are all the more dangerous because you look like the Church but really you are not any part of the Church at all.

This is the logic of your argument.

And the part I find most difficult is that if I DO say that in fact it is a thing to be grateful to God for that in fact you have preserved the same faith then you would want to accuse me of the 'branch theory', another vague heresy that can be dropped into conversations like 'ecumenist'.

So I cannot even be glad to discover that you have preserved the faith. Not only must I ignore the evidence of my eyes and accuse you of heresy, I must also repudiate the grace of God which has preserved the faith among you.

I'm sorry. I don't want to be like that. I don't believe it is Orthodox or even Christian.

I may be an 'ecumenist', and even a 'branch theoretician' in your eyes, but I will not deny what is obvious of the EO and refuse to give thanks for the preservation of Orthodoxy among the EO. If your ecclesiology prevents you doing the same then I am bound to the personal opinion that it is your ecclesiology which is defective and leaves no room at all for the activity of God.

Peter

#63 Scott Pierson

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Posted 14 October 2006 - 09:52 PM

I would like to know who these 'ecumenists' are that you keep posting about however.


I guess at times I have used the word in differnt manners. generally it can mean those who are involved in and support interfaith dialogue with other communions with the intent of joining the two together into a single communion. That in and of itself I dont necesarily have any problems with if they go about it in a way that makes plain and obvious that the EO Church is the one true Church and that those bodies not in communion with it are not. For example if while talking to another communion they state "we are the true Church and we wish you to end your schism (and/ or heresy whatever the case may be) and come back home.. etc..." . I wouldnt have any problem with that. But when they act as if both sides have equal right to claim the title "The Church" or act as if other denominations are on the same level and that we need to question and reject certain of our own teachings then I say forget it.

#64 Mina Soliman

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Posted 15 October 2006 - 04:37 AM

I guess at times I have used the word in differnt manners. generally it can mean those who are involved in and support interfaith dialogue with other communions with the intent of joining the two together into a single communion. That in and of itself I dont necesarily have any problems with if they go about it in a way that makes plain and obvious that the EO Church is the one true Church and that those bodies not in communion with it are not. For example if while talking to another communion they state "we are the true Church and we wish you to end your schism (and/ or heresy whatever the case may be) and come back home.. etc..." . I wouldnt have any problem with that. But when they act as if both sides have equal right to claim the title "The Church" or act as if other denominations are on the same level and that we need to question and reject certain of our own teachings then I say forget it.


Well, Scott, here's the crazy part. It did start out that way. No one wanted to believe that the other was Orthodox. It's like a Protestant who never thought that the Apostles prayed liturgically, until they read the verb "litourgia." So, ya, they did EACH say "We believe that we are the One True Church" and then ended up saying "Well, that's weird. So Dioscorus and Leo was Orthodox after all; and Ephesus 449 was indeed Orthodox after all; and that Ephesus 475, that's the first time I heard of that one; and gee wiz, that Severus...he's sounds Chalcedonian to me, but I thought we condemned him...hmmmmm"

God bless.

Mina

#65 M.C. Steenberg

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Posted 15 October 2006 - 07:36 AM

Dear all,

This thread, which is about 'Orthodox approaches to ecumenism' in a broad sense, seems to be alternating between that general topic, and the more specific question of ecumenical relations between the Eastern Orthodox / Oriental Orthodox communions. It hasn't 'settled' on either -- as I say, it is alternating back and forth between the two.

I would encourage all conversation on the latter topic to be carried on in the Eastern Orthodoxy / Oriental Orthodoxy area, reserving the present thread for conversation on Orthodox approaches to ecumenism as a broad issue. Not that the two matters don't overlap; but they are distinct. And part of the reason for having a dedicated EO/OO area is so that such discussion doesn't become the backdrop of threads all across the forum.

Many thanks to all.

INXC, Matthew

#66 John Charmley

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Posted 15 October 2006 - 08:01 AM

Dear Matthew,

A point well made, and I am sure, taken.

However, perhaps the direction taken by this thread has something of a message for us if we will read it.

On one level there is a more or less general dislike of something called 'ecumenism', which is represented by the WCC and is seen to represent syncretic trends which are thought to be inimical to Orthodoxy. The argument being made from this position appears to be that the Orthodox should have little or nothing to do with such an organization on the 'who touches pitch is defiled' line of thought.

At another level the argument came to focus on whether the wider phenomenon of ecumenism, or even its narrower institutionalized setting, was quite the bad thing it was made out to be. It was from this source that the discussion began to focus on EO/OO, with the argument being that ecumenism had helped create a climate in which EO and OO could discuss things rather than hurl anathemata.

One interesting thing to come out of this last theme is that many of us seem to think there is a qualitative difference here in so far as the EO and OO have more in common than other Christians; in particular a belief in Orthodoxy as a transforming way of life that must be experienced, as well as comprehended, as well as a very considerable desposit of what both see as Orthodox. Those who think this see, in that event, a good coming out of this wider definition of ecumenism.

It seems fairly plain that to some types of diaspora mentality ecumenism is seen as a major threat, but I wonder whether this serves as part of a wider fear about the ways in which modern secularism is antithetical to the very mind and spirit-set of Orthodoxy? The question I ponder, getting back to the wider focus, is whether there is a balance between opportunities and threats here? Why should Orthodoxy not be willing to talk in various fora with other Christians? No one is going to force anyone who is Orthodox to change their beliefs (not on the WCC anyway), so should we not see such bodies as the chance to do what seems to have been happening here between the EO and OO - that is to talk and understand each other better? Are any of us so unsure of Orthodoxy that we fear for its fate in such discussions?

I have a sense that, in this wider focus, there is something important that I am not grasping; enlightenment, as ever, is welcome.

In Christ,

John

#67 Scott Pierson

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Posted 15 October 2006 - 05:59 PM

Are any of us so unsure of Orthodoxy that we fear for its fate in such discussions?


Its not the concept of discussion or learning more about other communions that bothers me really. Its the "baggage" that is often involved when people participate in ecumenical dialogue. Like I said if the EO participants made it clear that the EO Church is the one and only true Church and that the other communion/s in question need to reject their schisms or heresies and join the EO if they wish to be in communion with it, then I would have no problem with it. Or if the discussion took place so that we could better understand other communions (and thereby learn to tailor our apologetics and evangelism skills to better evangelize those of the said communions) then that’s fine too. Or even if the talks take place to coordinate certain charitable endeavors that would be ok.

Its only when people start saying that error has entered into the mind of the Church, that the fathers were wrong and we know better then they that group x is and has been a part or branch of the Church all along , that it starts to bother me. Or when we throw out our traditional eccelsiology to make dialogue more simple or ignore the cannons.

#68 Mina Soliman

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Posted 15 October 2006 - 08:39 PM

Its only when people start saying that error has entered into the mind of the Church, that the fathers were wrong and we know better then they that group x is and has been a part or branch of the Church all along , that it starts to bother me. Or when we throw out our traditional eccelsiology to make dialogue more simple or ignore the cannons.


Well, this goes back to what I said earlier. I sure did hope that I would not know better than my own fathers, but guess what, your fathers weren't Nestorian, or so you say. And you had no problem saying my fathers were wrong.

At the same time, I read my own fathers' writings. I know what they believed. When you sit there and tell me that your fathers believed my fathers were Monophysites, I can easily say your fathers were 100% wrong, not because I know better than them, but because it is clear from my own fathers' writings that your fathers were wrong. And I never wanted to presume to be better than my own fathers, cause chances are, if they're Orthodox in faith (believing both in the full humanity and divinity of Christ without confusion or separation, preserving all properties of the natures, including will and energy), then they might be right about the Nestorianism of Chalcedon, right?

You still however never answered my question, "How can I trust you a Nestorian that you're telling me the truth?" I know I'm not a Monophysite, neither was Dioscorus. All I could know is that, without reading Leo's writings, you're trying to trick me into thinking you're Orthodox, while I'm trusting my fathers who had "true gnosis." What if you're the one that has to repent? For condemning my fathers who believed in the humanity and divinity without separation, division, confusion, or alteration might mean that you're also condemning their Orthodoxy, right?

While that is after all what you thought they did not believe, I KNOW VERY WELL they believed it, and I have my proof and counterproof against what you present. I did not know your fathers believed in the same thing, but you presume to know very well they believed thus, and you have proof and counterproof against what I present. How can we solve this predicament?

That's where the dialogue took that interesting turn to listen to one another's fathers rather than blindly accepting what was popular thought among themselves because frankly, that would just lead to two monologues. This is where one tests the grounds of ecclesiology, and studies them, and studies both histories to try to get a better understanding of these churches.

Now I agree that dialogues with RC's and Protestants that end up in compromising positions presents problems, and Subdeacon Peter Farrington here wrote a lengthy paper concerning the wrong ecumenisms of many of the churches around looking for minimal agreements to find unity, totally different from the EO/OO approach. That is why sometimes I find many of the EO defences against OO dialogues as a result of "ecumenist heretical attempts" as an empty cop-out, and a poor excuse to run away and hide from the truth of these dialogues. Islam does this in a more physical way, threatening people to death if one questions the Koran or the prophet Mohammed. It shuts the door to everything that was accomplished, and regresses us back to an unfortunate ignorance and hardened heart.

If one trusts in his/her Orthodoxy, there's nothing to hide from when reading the about the other perspective and the other preserved (and neglected) ancient writings.

After this, you can then understand why some hold to an ecclesiology that did not necessarily change, but only included those who professed that same Orthodox faith that was neglected ages ago.

I also question why this should be separated from the original post. It may be distinct, but it surely overlaps and has a lot to do with the OP. People are questioning "ecumenism" and adding the OO dialogues into this. I think this is an insult to the seriousness of the EO/OO dialogues, and it shows how much no one here knows anything about them, which is why EO/OO issues are involved. Perhaps, if they haven't mentioned this, there wouldn't be this lengthy discussion on OO issues in the "wrong" thread. They could mention the RC dialogues in question, or the WCC, but when it comes to the EO/OO dialogues, I am making the case that these have NOTHING to do with how WCC ran things or decided on things. In fact, there is a ROCOR member in OC.net who mentioned how much he admires the Copts for standing firm not influenced by the ecumenist liberalities that other Orthodox churches may be suffering from. I still have not grasped the full meaning of his words, but for a ROCOR to say such, that speaks volumes about the reality of the EO/OO dialogues, and the present Coptic views of the EO as opposed to 50 or 60 years ago, and it surely SHOULD give consideration to separate EO/OO dialogues from all other ecumenist activities that many here seem to confuse.

And if anything, I am also here to make a suggestion that the EO/OO dialogues are the IDEAL and ORTHODOX approach to ecumenism.

God bless.

Mina

#69 John Charmley

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Posted 17 October 2006 - 07:41 PM

Now I agree that dialogues with RC's and Protestants that end up in compromising positions presents problems, and Subdeacon Peter Farrington here wrote a lengthy paper concerning the wrong ecumenisms of many of the churches around looking for minimal agreements to find unity, totally different from the EO/OO approach. That is why sometimes I find many of the EO defences against OO dialogues as a result of "ecumenist heretical attempts" as an empty cop-out, and a poor excuse to run away and hide from the truth of these dialogues. Islam does this in a more physical way, threatening people to death if one questions the Koran or the prophet Mohammed. It shuts the door to everything that was accomplished, and regresses us back to an unfortunate ignorance and hardened heart.

If one trusts in his/her Orthodoxy, there's nothing to hide from when reading the about the other perspective and the other preserved (and neglected) ancient writings.


Dear Mina,
There is much in what you write here, and I especially liked this passage.

I feel that we are getting somewhere here. The OO position is now, I think, very clear, and I am better informed as to the EO one. Yes, I guess there may be a certain defensiveness at times in one or two of the EO posts, but since this is an EO website, that isn't altogether surprising. Most EO people will have been exposed to a certain view of the OO, and vice-versa, so getting this far is an achievement in itself.

Of course aspects of this discussion are bound to look as though someone somewhere thinks they know better than the Fathers, but the fact that the EO are happy to cite St. Isaac so freely and with such approval suggests that even the definition of Fathers might be taken in a wider sense than some seem to indicate.

I hope that we take on board your admonitions about 'wrong ecumenisms', and practice 'good ecumenisms' here. That, after a millennium and a half apart, the Chalcedonians and Non-Chalcedonians should still hold so much of the Orthodox Faith in common ought to tell us something - if we will only be still for long enough to hear it.

So thank you for this Mina, and for reminding us of things we ought to ponder.


In Christ,

John

#70 Vasily

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Posted 27 February 2011 - 03:57 PM

Glory to Jesus Christ,
Union with all the Orthodox Churches should come first, so that peace and love will exist amongst the Eastern Orthodox Churches. Let's clean up our own back yard. Seriously take on missionary work, and properly confront the jurisdictional chaos that exists in North America, Western Europe, and else where. Then let's contemplate union with the other confessions, and only if they sincerely desire to embrace Orthodox Dogmas and Traditions. Are we to accept the "common ground" philosophy with the heterodox, or stress the richness in Orthodox theology? On the other hand we compromise the traditions, water things down, attempt to "fit' in, and persist in dialogue with the heterodox. If we claim that we, the Orthodox, represent the true faith, then what message are we sending to our youth and to those who desire to become converts?

The Traditions of the Church and the examples of the Holy Fathers teach us that the Church hold no dialogue with those who have separated themselves from Orthodoxy. A true dialogue implies an exchange of views with a possibility of persuading the participant to attain an agreement. Any compromise is foreign to the Church. That being said, why does the Orthodox persist in this dialogue with the Catholics, which has been going on for years, with absolutely no results? Papism is a heresy and the source of many heresies that trouble the world today. Can one seriously think that the Vatican will change? When will the Vatican positively rectify the Eastern Rite dilemma?

#71 John Konstantin

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Posted 27 February 2011 - 09:29 PM

The Anglican Church in the UK was and is in ecumenical talks with the Roman Church. Where has it got it. Precisely nowhere. And we now have a situation where Anglicans are becoming Romans through the recently established Ordinariate. Rome has announced this as a great victory of ecumenism and part of the reunion of Christianity. It isn't. They have simply been received on Rome's terms. Most of ecumenism is nothing more than an excuse for a good lunch.

And who within Orthodoxy is going to broker reunion with Rome? The EP? And what if he does and the remaining jurisdictions to not want to go? Further fraction within Orthodoxy?

The best thing we can do is carry on being Orthodox, continue you to enjoy the good lunches and if Rome wants to join us....they know what they have to do. (Well I can dream, can't I? :) )

#72 Vasily

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Posted 01 May 2011 - 12:57 PM

Christ is Risen!

Union with all the Orthodox Churches should come first, so that peace and love will exist amongst the Eastern Orthodox Churches. Then let's contemplate union with the other confessions, and only if they sincerely desire to embrace Orthodox Dogmas and Traditions. Are we to accept the 'common ground" philosophy with the heterodox, or stress the richness in Orthodox Theology? On one hand, we compromise the traditions, water things down, persist in dialogue with the heterodox. What message are we sending to our youth and to those who desire to become converts to the Orthodox Faith?

The spirit of dialogue or even the understanding of some other confession of faith is important as long as the Orthodox participant fully realizes that he or she confesses the true faith, the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. The mission of the Church has always been to teach the True Word of God. We as, Orthodox Christians, must take this responsibility seriously. Anything else is foreign to this mission and nature of the Church.

The Traditions of the Church and examples of the Holy Father's teach us that the Church holds no dialogue with those that have separated themselves from Orthodoxy. The Church addresses to them a monologue inviting them to return to its fold through rejection of any dissenting doctrines. A true dialogue implies an exchange of views with a possibility of persuading the participant to attain an agreement. Any compromise is foreign to the Church.

#73 Bryan J. Maloney

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Posted 26 May 2011 - 09:44 PM

And who within Orthodoxy is going to broker reunion with Rome? The EP?


I have a feeling that it would be representatives acceptable to the autocephalous Orthodox jurisdictions by unanimous consent. After all, if something as relatively less weighty as the instillation of canonical governance in the Americas requires unanimous consent, bringing Rome back into the fold would need nothing less.




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