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Orthodox church and authority

Re: Orthodox church and authority

Postby Xara » 16 Apr 2009, 23:27

postodave wrote:I actually wonder if Orthodoxy is now picking up people who would have joined groups like the Plymouth Brethren at one time. I've no evidence for that though just a suspicion.


There's some truth in that. There's people who convert, not because they want Orthodoxy, but because they don't like the direction that their own church is going. Perhaps they object to women priests, gay vicars, extreme coffee mornings. Would they go back if their old church regressed?

On a related note I recently expressed the opinion that an Anglican service done well is very nice indeed. I recall churches in the 1970's doing Easter services with massed choirs, 2 organists, people packed in so tight that they had to sit down together. The response came that you'd have to go a long way to find an Anglican service like that these days. Now it's all guitars, powerpoint presentations and half a congregation. Is that true?
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Re: Orthodox church and authority

Postby Bluegoat » 17 Apr 2009, 11:29

Xara wrote:
postodave wrote:I actually wonder if Orthodoxy is now picking up people who would have joined groups like the Plymouth Brethren at one time. I've no evidence for that though just a suspicion.


There's some truth in that. There's people who convert, not because they want Orthodoxy, but because they don't like the direction that their own church is going. Perhaps they object to women priests, gay vicars, extreme coffee mornings. Would they go back if their old church regressed?

On a related note I recently expressed the opinion that an Anglican service done well is very nice indeed. I recall churches in the 1970's doing Easter services with massed choirs, 2 organists, people packed in so tight that they had to sit down together. The response came that you'd have to go a long way to find an Anglican service like that these days. Now it's all guitars, powerpoint presentations and half a congregation. Is that true?



It can be, but they do exist. Here in Canada the 'new' liturgy is very similar to the modern RC one, but that is less true, I think, in the US or England. But lots of places have very happy-clappy services, hands in the air, bad music, the whole nine yards. Even some of the more traditional services are poorly done because they are just a bit too self-conscious. But you can still find the nice services in a few places. You have to look for them though.

I'm curious about extreme coffee though, it sounds like some kind of drinking contest! We have a United Church here (an amalgamation of Methodists, Presbyterians and Congregationalists) who keep the coffee pot in the sanctuary. I am sure their ancestors would be horrified. THe minister says that they don't want people thinking it is a special space. :??:
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Re: Orthodox church and authority

Postby Xara » 17 Apr 2009, 12:25

Bluegoat wrote:
Xara wrote:
postodave wrote:I actually wonder if Orthodoxy is now picking up people who would have joined groups like the Plymouth Brethren at one time. I've no evidence for that though just a suspicion.


There's some truth in that. There's people who convert, not because they want Orthodoxy, but because they don't like the direction that their own church is going. Perhaps they object to women priests, gay vicars, extreme coffee mornings. Would they go back if their old church regressed?

On a related note I recently expressed the opinion that an Anglican service done well is very nice indeed. I recall churches in the 1970's doing Easter services with massed choirs, 2 organists, people packed in so tight that they had to sit down together. The response came that you'd have to go a long way to find an Anglican service like that these days. Now it's all guitars, powerpoint presentations and half a congregation. Is that true?



It can be, but they do exist. Here in Canada the 'new' liturgy is very similar to the modern RC one, but that is less true, I think, in the US or England. But lots of places have very happy-clappy services, hands in the air, bad music, the whole nine yards. Even some of the more traditional services are poorly done because they are just a bit too self-conscious. But you can still find the nice services in a few places. You have to look for them though.


Sounds to me, and I stress that this is only my own half-baked opinion, so correct me where I err, that Anglicanism may be bifurcating into a liberal wing (not happy-clappy, but not much else either) and a watered down evangelicalism that only proves that white people shouldn't dance.
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Re: Orthodox church and authority

Postby postodave » 17 Apr 2009, 20:47

Xara said:
Sounds to me, and I stress that this is only my own half-baked opinion, so correct me where I err, that Anglicanism may be bifurcating into a liberal wing (not happy-clappy, but not much else either) and a watered down evangelicalism that only proves that white people shouldn't dance

It's very hard to generalise. I don't think there are just two groups and I don't think the different groups are mutually exclusive; so a person could be liberal in one thing and conservative in another. Evangelicalism has become a lot more open to other ways of being Christian than it once was - many evangelicals in the UK will have read Catholic writers on prayer and drawn nourishment from that. The Charismatic movement crossed over into Anglo-Catholicism shortly after it influenced the RC Church. But style of worship does not trouble me much - I don't favour one kind over another. People say replacing organs with guitars and clarinets is an innovation but there were church bands with strings and wind instruments before there were choirs up front and organs. (Thomas Hardy has a lot about the change to what we now call traditional apparently) It's all rock and roll to me so to speak. I don't have a problem with PowerPoints either. After all the printed book was an innovation once. We are not Amish.
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Re: Orthodox church and authority

Postby Xara » 17 Apr 2009, 21:25

postodave wrote:Xara said:
Sounds to me, and I stress that this is only my own half-baked opinion, so correct me where I err, that Anglicanism may be bifurcating into a liberal wing (not happy-clappy, but not much else either) and a watered down evangelicalism that only proves that white people shouldn't dance

It's very hard to generalise. I don't think there are just two groups and I don't think the different groups are mutually exclusive; so a person could be liberal in one thing and conservative in another. Evangelicalism has become a lot more open to other ways of being Christian than it once was - many evangelicals in the UK will have read Catholic writers on prayer and drawn nourishment from that. The Charismatic movement crossed over into Anglo-Catholicism shortly after it influenced the RC Church. But style of worship does not trouble me much - I don't favour one kind over another. People say replacing organs with guitars and clarinets is an innovation but there were church bands with strings and wind instruments before there were choirs up front and organs. (Thomas Hardy has a lot about the change to what we now call traditional apparently) It's all rock and roll to me so to speak. I don't have a problem with PowerPoints either. After all the printed book was an innovation once. We are not Amish.


"Praise the Lord with stringed instruments. Praise Him with the harp and the lyre."
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Re: Orthodox church and authority

Postby Bluegoat » 18 Apr 2009, 10:46

postodave wrote:Xara said:
Sounds to me, and I stress that this is only my own half-baked opinion, so correct me where I err, that Anglicanism may be bifurcating into a liberal wing (not happy-clappy, but not much else either) and a watered down evangelicalism that only proves that white people shouldn't dance

It's very hard to generalise. I don't think there are just two groups and I don't think the different groups are mutually exclusive; so a person could be liberal in one thing and conservative in another. Evangelicalism has become a lot more open to other ways of being Christian than it once was - many evangelicals in the UK will have read Catholic writers on prayer and drawn nourishment from that. The Charismatic movement crossed over into Anglo-Catholicism shortly after it influenced the RC Church. But style of worship does not trouble me much - I don't favour one kind over another. People say replacing organs with guitars and clarinets is an innovation but there were church bands with strings and wind instruments before there were choirs up front and organs. (Thomas Hardy has a lot about the change to what we now call traditional apparently) It's all rock and roll to me so to speak. I don't have a problem with PowerPoints either. After all the printed book was an innovation once. We are not Amish.


I'm not sure that over-reliance on print media is a great thing during liturgy. That includes books and pamphlets, I think that ideally, a regular congregation member should ultimately be able to dispense with most of those things. This is one of the things I don't like about the new Canadian Book of Alternative Services - it is so complicated and variable it is impossible to dispense with it.

My reasoning is this - the written word involves an extra level of abstraction between the person participating in the liturgy, and the liturgy itself. In some things it can be a good thing to have this - religious art comes to mind as an example. But in prayer and liturgy, I think it makes it more difficult to do the work of the moment. Even more so when there is so much variation that texts are being read essentially for the first time, and require not only careful listening and reading, but having assent of the will. It is never possible to get beyond the surface of the prayers. Worship shouldn't be an abstraction, it should be among our most intimate acts. A PowerPoint presentation is another level of abstraction if used during the sermon, and during the liturgy creates more of an outward environmental focus instead of an upward and inward one.

I think it is overused in public speaking in general though.

For what it's worth, I don't have a problem with guitars etc, so long as it is supporting the liturgy. I just don't like bad songs. "Gather us in" is one that really makes me feel like this :undecided:
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Re: Orthodox church and authority

Postby Bluegoat » 18 Apr 2009, 10:54

Xara wrote:
Sounds to me, and I stress that this is only my own half-baked opinion, so correct me where I err, that Anglicanism may be bifurcating into a liberal wing (not happy-clappy, but not much else either) and a watered down evangelicalism that only proves that white people shouldn't dance.


I wouldn't disagree with this.

There is an evangelical group, fairly conservative. There is a liberal group, some are high church, and some low. The low church ones are mostly happy-clappy. And there are a few high and low church traditionalists (a strange word but the best one I've found so far.)

It makes for some weird alliances, but I can't see them all remaining together. It is hard to see how people with a fairly orthodox understanding, say, of the nature of Christ, can really stay with people who believe that he "rose in the hearts of the apostles." That last came from a sermon by our then-bishop, who has gone on to more important things.
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Re: Orthodox church and authority

Postby Xara » 18 Apr 2009, 14:00

Bluegoat wrote:I'm not sure that over-reliance on print media is a great thing during liturgy. That includes books and pamphlets, I think that ideally, a regular congregation member should ultimately be able to dispense with most of those things. This is one of the things I don't like about the new Canadian Book of Alternative Services - it is so complicated and variable it is impossible to dispense with it.


One of the nice things about an Orthodox service is that we don't use books. The cantor and the chorus do, but they guide the rest. As nearly all of the service is sung as a three way song between the chorus, the priest and the people; after a few times you get to know the format. The changeable bits are done by the chorus and cantor who, of course, have the books.

Well, it's Easter for us Orthodox right now and I've been to church every day this week for 2-4 hour services. I've had a 4 hour service this morning and am going back for a 5 hour service at 22:30 tonight. Followed by a feast. I will have sung about 21 hours this week by tomorrow morning. You couldn't have nicer foretaste of heaven.
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Re: Orthodox church and authority

Postby matdonna » 18 Apr 2009, 22:09

I will say "Christ is Risen" to all right now as we wait and rest before going back to church tonight for baptism and Paschal liturgy.
(cut prayer request & put it in the correct forum)
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Re: Orthodox church and authority

Postby Xara » 19 Apr 2009, 02:25

matdonna wrote:I will say "Christ is Risen" to all right now as we wait and rest before going back to church tonight for baptism and Paschal liturgy.
(cut prayer request & put it in the correct forum)


He is risen indeed!

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Re: Orthodox church and authority

Postby rusmeister » 19 Apr 2009, 06:21

Indeed He is risen!!!
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Re: Orthodox church and authority

Postby rusmeister » 19 Apr 2009, 06:35

Bluegoat wrote:I have to say, having checked out some Orthodox boards lately, there were some nasty places, more so than the RC ones (slightly), which surprised me. Not to be rude about any one religious group, but what is with that?


I have exactly the opposite experience - the few that I know are either invitation-only (such as Orthodox Circle or Orthopraxis) or open (such as at Christian Forums), and all of them are extremely high on the politeness scale (although OC maybe just a tad less so). I hang out at CF, myself, and visitors frequently give us reps for being the most pleasant place for visitors at that site, so I don't see rudeness at all.
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Re: Orthodox church and authority

Postby rusmeister » 19 Apr 2009, 06:55

hammurabi2000 wrote:
rusmeister wrote:It (pre-Reformation history) was generally avoided as a topic by the Baptists and certainly nothing was taught in the schools except that the (Catholic and therefore "only") Church (the Eastern Church was a complete cipher and essentially considered to not be Christian at all).

Now how we are capable of gauging how people far removed in space and time are "not in-dwelt by the Spirit" is something that requires major back-up. I don't think I can with any accuracy at all say how many people are so "in-dwelt" today, let alone thousands of years ago. It can by no means be an objective criterion.

Anyway, as soon as I began learning Eastern history, all of Western history began to make sense. It wasn't that I simply blindly accepted Orthodox histories. It was that their inclusion filled in all the gaps and turned on the lights to explain Western history. If the Orthodox position is not true, everything remains unexplained. if it IS true, then everything makes sense.

Pre-reformation history is not a widely popular topic. It certainly is not going to be anything other than a specialist topic. However, it is taught and I do not think your description is an accurate refelection of the official line. What people in the pew think may be of interest but is not the formal view.

I agree that knowing today of spiritual qualities is not possible and therefore we cannot know of the past. I am not trying to pass judgement on anyone. I am suggesting how you move from a vibrant church in the first century to one riven by discord fifteen centuries later. You seem to suggest conformity of form in church substantiates it as a true church. I think we want spiritual substance.

I fear that you have something of a tautology. Once we see Christian history through the eyes of the Orthodox it all makes sense. I am sure the Pope feels the same with the RCC church.


Last things first, of course Catholics have their own explanations - so far I agree with you. The difference is that the Orthodox historical explanation DOES explain (what is wrong with) Protestantism and Catholicism, while the P+C explanations don't similarly explain the problems of Orthodoxy. Indeed, all of their defenses are built around a blind spot - an unawareness of Orthodoxy.

On your second point, you speak as if form is necessarily divided from substance. I'll say that the OC has both the form and the substance, and that any substance outside of that is due to the tremendous grace of God - but the form is still missing. I
Even official Protestant histories (and here Bluegoat is right that some like Lutherans, have rejected less and retained more of ancient beliefs, and so this is less true of them - but still true to a lesser degree) are largely forced to largely ignore much of Church history (again, I specifically mean pre-Ref, so post-Ref doesn't cut much ice in an inquiry about pre-Ref history), because so much of it contradicts what they teach today. Yes, of course, there is Protestant scholarship, but as soon as we touch upon matters of doctrine, it is clear that, official or not, there is a massive gulf between what was taught and believed and assumed to be true in those critical 1,500 years is not accepted now. Officially. For example what everybody believed about the ever-Virgin Mary - something even Luther accepted. And so on. The kind of thinking that says that the Church could be wrong then, but, 'ah, now WE'VE got it right!' (ie, we are more enlightened now) is the same kind of thinking that leads to women priests, approval of grave sins like homosexuality, etc, and always leads to something quite different than that ancient Christianity. Put simply (setting aside Orthodox-specific claims for a moment), the Churches that claim apostolic succession have got the history on their side. The other Churches don't. And it ought to raise questions about the exclusion of all that history and the blank spots that most are mostly left with.
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Re: Orthodox church and authority

Postby rusmeister » 19 Apr 2009, 07:34

Bluegoat wrote:In my experience your criticism of Protestant education about the first 1500 of Christianity is often true, though I wouldn't say it is universal by any means. I think it is often true of the more radical reformed churches, though probably not the Lutherans. And some Anglicans see themselves as going back to the pre-Roman Celtic churches, which could raise some interesting questions about their relation to Orthodoxy.

If it is logical to explain that the Protestant Reformation happened because the RC church wasn't the True Church though, it could be argued that the original split between East and West occurred because neither represented the True Church in it's entirety. One would then have to say that there was no perfect instantiation of the True Church on Earth, but I don't see why we would have to exclude that, although it would seem to be nicer if God wouldn't allow it. I suppose the question would have to do with how the Church is affected by the Fall, in particular the Church Militant. I'm not actually sure what any church says about that, now that I think of it.

It likely would have been totally impractical for the Reformers to think of becoming Orthodox though, rather like converting to Orthodoxy while living in, I don't know, some small inaccessible place with no Orthodox people.


Hey, BG!
Yes, (as I said in my response to Hammurabi) the degree of split and exclusion of that pre-Ref history varies, so by no means am I saying that all are ignorant on all points. Far from it. But some, like those that broke off from the Anglican Church (including Baptists, ex-Puritans, etc) are more so. Some, like Lutherans and probably especially old Anglicans, are less so. I think I already mentioned the discussed rapprochement of the Orthodox and Anglican Churches over the first half of the 20th century - the Anglicans were closer than anybody to us (and thus, CS Lewis is EXTREMELY Orthodox, if it were possible to quantify it, on an order of 98%). And yes, it can be fairly argued that initially, at least, having sprung from a unified Church, the early Celts were also very Orthodox, although I'm not (yet :wink: ) an expert in that question.

On the idea of there being no "no perfect instantiation of the True Church on Earth": The Institution must be at once divine and human. It must have members, who sin and make mistakes - thus, human - and actually be led by the Holy Spirit - thus, divine. I hope I can take as a given that the Holy Spirit does not lead against Himself, so that idea - of the Church being exclusively ethereal and having no actual impact on our communal lives and worship - does not make sense (although it is very attractive because it allows one to become one's own arbiter of what the faith is. Some form of Sola Scriptura, overt or covert, becomes inevitable, I think. Either you accept external authority, and thereby the idea that there IS an institutional Church with physical presence, or you do not, in which case you are your own authority for understanding what faith is. The former is fraught with the just fear of being mistaken in that which one trusts. The latter, however, is wholly inconsistent with common sense and reason.
Ergo, there IS one instance of the True Church on Earth, and the question becomes, "Where is it?" (You can't talk about a Church, Militant or otherwise until you resolve that one first.) If by "how the Church was affected by the fall, you mean, how IS it affected by the Fall, then again, the answer is in the meeting place of heaven and earth - how non-divine humans can sin within the Church - and it is because they are in one way or another breaking with the Church when they do so. When one falls into error, breaks off, and starts his own church, he is not doing so within the Church, and the church that he creates is not part of the Church. Thus, it is possible for there to be a great many churches that are not part of the Church. They may be full of people seeking to please God, and doing so more correctly than the best pagans, who also seek to please God or the gods, insofar as they understood them (and I think that God will, in one way or another extend mercy to all who do seek to please Him and learn His will and find His Church, whether they do so or not - although I don't know what that mercy will look like).

Christianity is (in the sense you describe) not practical at all. The practical thing to do in Diocletian Rome was to deny or renounce the faith. We want to do what is right, not what is practical. If you discover that there really IS a True Church that really has preserved the faith handed down from the beginning, and the nearest parish is a few hundred miles away, do you choose a church that is close and convenient, but not part of that Church, or do you do the hard thing? (I think of Soviet Russia, where the nearest church for some people really was 1,000 km away.)
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Re: Orthodox church and authority

Postby Xara » 19 Apr 2009, 11:32

rusmeister wrote:
hammurabi2000 wrote:
rusmeister wrote:It (pre-Reformation history) was generally avoided as a topic by the Baptists and certainly nothing was taught in the schools except that the (Catholic and therefore "only") Church (the Eastern Church was a complete cipher and essentially considered to not be Christian at all).

Now how we are capable of gauging how people far removed in space and time are "not in-dwelt by the Spirit" is something that requires major back-up. I don't think I can with any accuracy at all say how many people are so "in-dwelt" today, let alone thousands of years ago. It can by no means be an objective criterion.

Anyway, as soon as I began learning Eastern history, all of Western history began to make sense. It wasn't that I simply blindly accepted Orthodox histories. It was that their inclusion filled in all the gaps and turned on the lights to explain Western history. If the Orthodox position is not true, everything remains unexplained. if it IS true, then everything makes sense.

Pre-reformation history is not a widely popular topic. It certainly is not going to be anything other than a specialist topic. However, it is taught and I do not think your description is an accurate refelection of the official line. What people in the pew think may be of interest but is not the formal view.

I agree that knowing today of spiritual qualities is not possible and therefore we cannot know of the past. I am not trying to pass judgement on anyone. I am suggesting how you move from a vibrant church in the first century to one riven by discord fifteen centuries later. You seem to suggest conformity of form in church substantiates it as a true church. I think we want spiritual substance.

I fear that you have something of a tautology. Once we see Christian history through the eyes of the Orthodox it all makes sense. I am sure the Pope feels the same with the RCC church.


Last things first, of course Catholics have their own explanations - so far I agree with you. The difference is that the Orthodox historical explanation DOES explain (what is wrong with) Protestantism and Catholicism, while the P+C explanations don't similarly explain the problems of Orthodoxy. Indeed, all of their defenses are built around a blind spot - an unawareness of Orthodoxy.

On your second point, you speak as if form is necessarily divided from substance. I'll say that the OC has both the form and the substance, and that any substance outside of that is due to the tremendous grace of God - but the form is still missing. I
Even official Protestant histories (and here Bluegoat is right that some like Lutherans, have rejected less and retained more of ancient beliefs, and so this is less true of them - but still true to a lesser degree) are largely forced to largely ignore much of Church history (again, I specifically mean pre-Ref, so post-Ref doesn't cut much ice in an inquiry about pre-Ref history), because so much of it contradicts what they teach today. Yes, of course, there is Protestant scholarship, but as soon as we touch upon matters of doctrine, it is clear that, official or not, there is a massive gulf between what was taught and believed and assumed to be true in those critical 1,500 years is not accepted now. Officially. For example what everybody believed about the ever-Virgin Mary - something even Luther accepted. And so on. The kind of thinking that says that the Church could be wrong then, but, 'ah, now WE'VE got it right!' (ie, we are more enlightened now) is the same kind of thinking that leads to women priests, approval of grave sins like homosexuality, etc, and always leads to something quite different than that ancient Christianity. Put simply (setting aside Orthodox-specific claims for a moment), the Churches that claim apostolic succession have got the history on their side. The other Churches don't. And it ought to raise questions about the exclusion of all that history and the blank spots that most are mostly left with.


I wonder if after all that, though, that all the Orthodox can do is congratulate themselves. Other churches will never accede what they think to be salient points. They will not rescind their authority and come East.

To put it another way. Even if all that is spot on right: then what? Tackling the fractioning of the church is not a task that would fit snugly into my schedule. My time is best spent by putting my energies into my local church.
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