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Orthodox church and authority

Orthodox church and authority

Postby Bluegoat » 14 Mar 2009, 18:51

I'm not sure if this title is really reflective of what I am asking, but I hope it will get people who can give some insight reading.

In recent years many members of the Anglican traditions have converted to either Roman Catholicism or Orthodoxy, because they weren't happy with the way their own church was going.

While there were a variety of factors in their decision for one group or the other, some Orthodoxy because they were more comfortable with the political structure and attitude to tradition and scripture, as they are closer to the understanding of traditional Anglicanism.

The question this brings up for me is, was it not these factors in Anglicanism that have allowed it to get into the place it is now? What is to stop the Orthodox church from one day finding itself in the same situation?

I'm not trying to be controversial, I'd really like to know.
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Re: Orthadox church and authority

Postby Lioba » 18 Mar 2009, 22:09

Bluegoat, Ithink especially the Orthodox Church will always have a totally different selfconcept than the Anglican church.More deeply rooted in the history of Christianity.Orthodoxy survived the States and systems it was historically connected with, same as the Roman catholic church did. It might have been strongly entwined with the East Roman Empire, later with Russia and Greece, but it did not depend on them to be valid . The Anglican church simply began as Church of England. It was not a foremost spiritual movement but partly a politically motivated struggle for independance from Rome. A developement that started with the struggle between Henry II and Beckett and came to an climax through the times of the reformation, partly because the reformation gave the idea of real alternatives to catholicisme but also because of the rather diffucult character of Henry VIII. And the inducement for its start was not very glorious: another divorce of Henry VIII.Such things don´t give validity for all times.Theologically their have long been tendencies to reconnect with the
Roman or Orthodox Church.So I can understand why people especially from the High Church movement ask themselves if their is any actual necessity for the existence of a seperate Church of England, if it where not be more logical and consequent simply to return to the old church.
a church can only survive wehen it can answer some questions: what does it really stand for? Why needs it to exist on it´s own and not make a fusion with another church?
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Re: Orthadox church and authority

Postby moogdroog » 18 Mar 2009, 22:42

I can't see the Orthodox church ever finding itself in the same position as the Anglican church. The same for the Roman Catholic church as well. Neither churches work on even vaguely democratic principles regarding doctrine. If you don't like the doctrine, well, it isn't up for debate - it's not going to change. For example, if we take a current issue - women clergy - the Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches won't change their stance. It isn't up for debate, no matter how many people might want it. However, in the Anglican church, it is something that has, and continues, to be debated, the position modified, and so on. So as Lioba nicely puts it - there are very different mindsets behind the Orthodox, and the Anglican church, due to the circumstances from which these churches were born out of.
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Re: Orthodox church and authority

Postby Adam Linton » 19 Mar 2009, 04:34

Lioba wrote:The Anglican church simply began as Church of England. It was not a foremost spiritual movement but partly a politically motivated struggle for independance from Rome. A developement that started with the struggle between Henry II and Beckett and came to an climax through the times of the reformation, partly because the reformation gave the idea of real alternatives to catholicisme but also because of the rather diffucult character of Henry VIII. And the inducement for its start was not very glorious: another divorce of Henry VIII. Such things don´t give validity for all times.


You are fully entitled to your perspective Lioba--and also to have your perspective courteously and respectfully engaged in these forums.

I'm not going to "get into" this here, but--for the record, and speaking as an Anglican (and a well educated one, at that), I have to at least say--from my perspective--that your descriptions of our history and character betray fairly substantial unawareness of who/what we are--not only of opinion, but also of fact. I'm not blaming you in the slightest or even trying to change your mind--just flagging for you that if you were to study the matters at hand from some serious Anglican/Episcopal sources, you would at least be aware of how different our understandings of ourselves are from yours of us.

Regards.

Adam Linton
Last edited by Adam Linton on 19 Mar 2009, 05:38, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Orthodox church and authority

Postby Adam Linton » 19 Mar 2009, 05:26

Bluegoat wrote:In recent years many members of the Anglican traditions have converted to either Roman Catholicism or Orthodoxy, because they weren't happy with the way their own church was going.

While there were a variety of factors in their decision for one group or the other, some Orthodoxy because they were more comfortable with the political structure and attitude to tradition and scripture, as they are closer to the understanding of traditional Anglicanism.

The question this brings up for me is, was it not these factors in Anglicanism that have allowed it to get into the place it is now? What is to stop the Orthodox church from one day finding itself in the same situation?


I'm not sure that I fully understand your question, Bluegoat, but as a former member of the Russian Orthodox Church (converting at age 19 and remaining very active there for 22 years)--who since returned to the Episcopal Church, I thought that I'd offer some response here. (By the way I am far from being the only one who has travelled in that direction--i.e, Orthodox to Anglican/Episcopalian. We just don't seem to attract the same level of publicity, I guess.)

I think it quite evident, that the Roman Catholic and Orthodox understandings of scripture and tradition (and their relationship to both) are far closer to each other than either would be to Anglicanism. That said, for a number of reasons Anglicans have perhaps had more of an active, congenial interest in the Eastern Church than many other Western Christian traditions.

I also think that those who go to the great trouble to convert to Orthodoxy don't do so at all because it seems "closer" to where they were before as Christians! Culturally and theologically, one has to cross a sea of difference before taking this step.

One of the great challenges to any discussion of church authority (across the differing traditions) is that the very bases for evaluating authority are themselves debated. Just what constitutes "continuity"? What is the meaning of "unity"? This is why simplistic claims of exclusive ecclesiastical "franchise" are as weak as they are. The criteria for corporate self-affirmation are corporately self-selected! It's really just another circular argument.

Anyway, these are a few musings of mine to add to the mix.

All the best.
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Re: Orthadox church and authority

Postby Lioba » 19 Mar 2009, 11:08

Adam- I really didn´t want to hurt anybodys feelings and I have no intention to reduce the Anglican Church to the political aspects. But I have personally great problems with the idea of National Churches.It became a kind of fashion in the nineteenth century and a lot of problematical decisions in the catholic church ( from a protestant point of view!) where direct reactions on this idea. The most horrible version of it was practised under Hitler where it was a slogan used to separate the German Christians from worldwide Christianuty and from it´s own inner independance from worldly leadership.It was already forshadowed under the Prussian Kings by forcing the Union of Calvinists and Lutherans and making the Prussain King Head of this united Church.Although the cultural background might give a certain colour in the daliy practise I deeply believe that the Church of Christ - visible and unvisible-is meant to be by it´s very nature to be international and universal. Maybe I make this a very strong point by looking back especially on German History.
But help meto understand your church better:
-without regarding the political mess in its beginnings- many other protestant movements where also in an unfavorable way entangled in politics.
What is the Anglican Churchs core- self concept above the Idea of being a National Church and why is it necessary and desirable to be it an independent Church of it´s own? I must confess that I do not really grasp it´s theology - from Highchurch to Lowchurch. from aspects that look to me almost catholic to such that are calvinistic. From the point of view of an Old Lutheran it seems a bit like Church that looks a bit Catholic but is Reformed.
All this is not meant as an insult but really as a serious question.
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Re: Orthadox church and authority

Postby Adam Linton » 19 Mar 2009, 14:51

Thanks for your response, Lioba.

But we (Anglicans) are not a national church!. The most "typical" Anglican living today is a black woman, under 30, with children, living in Africa. Yes, the churches of the Anglican Communion trace their histories (in different ways) through the Church of England, but we are profoundly multi-cultural, multi-national. We are much stronger and larger than we ever were during the time of the British Empire.

Reflecting on my own 22 year experience in the Orthodox Church, I would have to say that I found it much, much more nationally and culturally specific (in fact, profoundly so) than anything I've observed (or heard of) in the Anglican/Episcopal world.

No serious Anglican/Episcopal theologian would disguise the fact that we are and have been at least as "Reformed" as "Catholic." Far from hiding this, most of us view it as both a key distinctive and a notable strength!

All the best to you.
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Re: Orthadox church and authority

Postby friendofbill » 19 Mar 2009, 17:50

This interests me because I am a former Roman Catholic, having before that been a Lutheran pastor, and now -- after many years of rejecting Christianity entirely and choosing the way of almost-terminal alcoholism, am delighted beynd words to be a practicing Episcopalian.

Just to add another perspective to this discussion, the reason I came to the Anglican way rather than returning to Rome is that I perceive a huge distinction between the two. Rome tells the believer what to think; Canterbury tries to tell the believer how to think.

Before anyone gets too excited about that statement, let me acknowledge the obvious fact that both communions accept the creeds, which do in fact tell us what to think. But Rome takes the creeds and then produces a vast Mishnah called the Catechism, that tells me what to think about every detail of everything. In the Anglican Church, the creeds are a point of reference, stating truths that we consider to be established beyond question, but what we do with other issues (Mariology, sacramental theology, etc.) is in a realm where there is great latitude for the believer. I have found that whatever is good and enduring about Catholicism is manifested both in Rome and in Canterbury. What is the product of human minds, post-Scripture and post-Nicea, is not mandated by Anglican thought as it is by RC thought. We are far, far closer to the Orthodox Churches in that respect than to Rome.

I am not aware that the Anglican church is a "national" church. perhaps a member from the UIK could clarify whether the church receives any government support in the UK in the present day. The only "national" church I know of is the Lutheran Church in Scandinavia.

Al the above is to be understood as merely "how I see it."

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Re: Orthadox church and authority

Postby archenland_knight » 19 Mar 2009, 18:02

FriendofBill wrote:I am not aware that the Anglican church is a "national" church. perhaps a member from the UIK could clarify whether the church receives any government support in the UK in the present day. The only "national" church I know of is the Lutheran Church in Scandinavia.


My understanding is that it does still receive finacial support from the British government in England. The chapters of the Anglican Communion in other countries, however, are on their own. I could be wrong about that.

FriendofBill wrote:This interests me because I am a former Roman Catholic, having before that been a Lutheran pastor, and now -- after many years of rejecting Christianity entirely and choosing the way of almost-terminal alcoholism, am delighted beynd words to be a practicing Episcopalian.


Wow! All you've got left is being Pentecostal, and you will have tried about everything. :lol:
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Re: Orthadox church and authority

Postby Lioba » 19 Mar 2009, 22:40

Hey, friendofbill left out the Puritans and the Quakers! And the Amish! And the Kopts! And the Brethren and the Baptists!
What about Arianisme didnt find a community´?- have a try with Jehovas Witness Their Christology is somehow Arianic! :wink:

Adam Linton- thank you for your answer. Glad you don´t mind my sceptic questions.
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Re: Orthadox church and authority

Postby Adam Linton » 20 Mar 2009, 01:21

Art (Friend of Bill),

I much appreciated your posting here. And I do agree, although it's hard to tack down fully, that in some important ways Anglicans and Orthodox share some very like sensibilities.

I suspect very much like you, one of the things I especially appreciate about the Episcopal Church is that it is able to reach many (who otherwise might feel very put off--often for some very understandable reasons--from the "church-project") with a particular combination of being truly centered in the classic, historic tradition--and also being genuinely open to process, diversity, new questions...

Some say it isn't possible. I say, "Come, and see!"

All the best.

Adam
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Re: Orthadox church and authority

Postby Adam Linton » 20 Mar 2009, 01:23

Lioba wrote:Adam Linton- thank you for your answer. Glad you don´t mind my sceptic questions.


Not at all. Keep them coming.

All the best.
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Re: Orthadox church and authority

Postby rusmeister » 21 Mar 2009, 14:26

Adam Linton wrote:Reflecting on my own 22 year experience in the Orthodox Church, I would have to say that I found it much, much more nationally and culturally specific (in fact, profoundly so) than anything I've observed (or heard of) in the Anglican/Episcopal world.

I'd say that while it is true that you can certainly find believers who make the Orthodox Church into a "national" thing, the actual position of the Church, its stated dogmas, teachings, and what it works to teach all of its members, is that the Church is not an exclusive club based on nationality.

On the other hand, the reason the Church generally seems "national" because it always "goes local". America is the one unique, weird situation where people could possibly think otherwise.

Also, those that are leaving the Anglican Church for Orthodoxy usually leave (in my experience) for reasons that push them even harder from the Episcopal Church. (Certainly, Adam, I would be very interested in your experience in the Orthodox Church - and what issues, exactly, drove you away.) Yes, the Orthodox Church is not perfect, but I think the things that lead people there stem from one of the most logical conclusions of people seeking rational faith - something that really doesn't change (cancel out) dogma taught continuously for 2,000 years. For me, the modern fashions of sexuality and feminism are excellent examples of that.

The answer to Bluegoat's question, while not simple, can be reduced in the end, I think, to the nature of the Church, which prevents any one man or local democratic movement (read:temporary fashion, such as approval of 'certain lifestyles', or perhaps abortion, or whatever) from changing Church dogma.There is no one ruler with absolute power, like the Anglican Church, but nothing of a dogmatic nature can essentially be changed without worldwide ecumenical approval, which is extraordinarily difficult. Thus, current fashions like women priests or "gay" or non-celibate bishops (or approval of homosexuality) are dead issues. Even the few people that try to raise such issues get ignored. Their opinions would have to be universally accepted 150 years from now to change anything. That's a simplification, of course, but it's pretty good shorthand.

Oh, and we have first dibs on "Come and see!" :)
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Re: Orthadox church and authority

Postby Bluegoat » 22 Mar 2009, 15:30

Wow, I didn't hear a thing on this thread forever, and then when I've been busy for a few days, it goes crazy. It's been very interesting to hear everyone's thoughts.

rusmeister wrote:The answer to Bluegoat's question, while not simple, can be reduced in the end, I think, to the nature of the Church, which prevents any one man or local democratic movement (read:temporary fashion, such as approval of 'certain lifestyles', or perhaps abortion, or whatever) from changing Church dogma.There is no one ruler with absolute power, like the Anglican Church, but nothing of a dogmatic nature can essentially be changed without worldwide ecumenical approval, which is extraordinarily difficult. Thus, current fashions like women priests or "gay" or non-celibate bishops (or approval of homosexuality) are dead issues. Even the few people that try to raise such issues get ignored. Their opinions would have to be universally accepted 150 years from now to change anything. That's a simplification, of course, but it's pretty good shorthand.


So, would it be a matter of each Bishop having to agree to a change? What would happen if, say, one group of Bishops disagreed and decided to carry on with their program? Would they simply be rejected by the others, no longer considered Orthodox?
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Re: Orthodox church and authority

Postby Bluegoat » 22 Mar 2009, 17:16

Adam Linton wrote:I also think that those who go to the great trouble to convert to Orthodoxy don't do so at all because it seems "closer" to where they were before as Christians! Culturally and theologically, one has to cross a sea of difference before taking this step.


I'd be interested to know what you think the sea of differences consists of, if it isn't too big a question.

As for the question of how Anglicans see themselves. Many, I think, see themselves as Reformed Catholics. A few see themselves as a continuation of Celtic Christianity.
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