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Tuesday
Nov272012

Another Orthodox Fellow Comments

Here.  I quote the text of his comment here in its entirety, followed by my response to selected components of it that caught my attention:

Please forgive me for the late response to your post. I found your website (in a round about way) by Googling "Orthodoxy and Calvinism."

I just wanted to respond to some of the comments you've made to the good deacon. I think you were rather harsh and arrogant. I was going to point out the logical fallacies that you employed (numerous as they are), but have since thought better of it.

I would only ask that you forgive us of our shortcomings, fat priests and all, because our shortcomings do not mean that the Orthodox Church is not the "pillar of truth." But you would know that because you studied logic.

It seems to me that many of your responses, as intelligent as you may be, a founded on ignorance. I will give two examples and then stop there. One, we allow our laity to divorce three times as a concession. It is for the sake of chasity that we do so, not because we think divorce is good or anything like that. We just realize that people are sinners and sometimes, as unnatural as it may be, divorce and remarriage are necessary for the sanctity of the laity. To present our position in any other terms would be straw manning us.

Also, to compare the good deacon's question of priests divorcing to Orthodoxy's position on divorce really is comparing apples and oranges. The priest stands as Christ for the laity and, according to canon law, he is held to a much higher standard and rightfully so. We even go so far as to say that if the priest accidentally kills someone (let's say in a car accident for instance), he is to be defrocked. I think this all clearly shows a lack of understanding our position, no matter how long you were in the Orthodox Church or what your education was (an appeal to authority).

Second, on the issue of the celibacy of Bishops. You obviously don't mean that Orthodoxy holds that Bishops must always have been celibate as Orthodox Christians because that would be just plain stupid. But again, I feel as if you don't understand our position on this one. What was true for the apostles, was not true for the church of later centuries; in order to protect itself from corruption, the Church imposed some rules upon itself. This is totally okay, and to quote scripture at the issue doesn't really answer the problem; how do we prevent bishopesque monarchies from forming?

Again, please forgive me for my hubris and if you have discussed these issues in pasts posts. I have only read a few and I do not have enough time to read the others.

Well, I believe I've previously addressed the issue of my "harsh and arrogant" tone, so I won't do so again here, except to say that I did give credit to the Orthodox Church where it was due, and that any criticisms I did lodge, however "harsh and arrogant", were likewise due. 

"I was going to point out the logical fallacies that you employed (numerous as they are), but have since thought better of it."  Talk about being long on assertion and short on specifics. ;>)   I really would like to have known what all those numerous fallacies were.  Next. . .

I would only ask that you forgive us of our shortcomings, fat priests and all, because our shortcomings do not mean that the Orthodox Church is not the "pillar of truth." But you would know that because you studied logic.

Right.  Whether or not the Orthodox Church is the "pillar of truth" (a reference to I Tim. 3:15) is not so much a logical issue as it is a biblical, historical and empirical one.  I maintain on biblical, historical and empirical grounds that the "church of the living God" referenced in that verse does not subsist in the Eastern Orthodox Church.  I say rather that the Eastern Orthodox Church, empirically and historically, is a "branch" or "province" of that church.  On biblical grounds, I say that the Eastern Orthodox Church will never be any kind of "pillar of truth" until it conforms itself, in terms of both its orthodoxy and orthopraxis, with the soteriology of Holy Scripture.  Which is to say until it experiences its own Reformation.

The writer misses the point entirely on the issue of divorce.  My point there was that the Orthodox Church is in no place to criticize the admittedly errant practice of some Continuing Anglicans (as to clergy) when its own practice (as to laity) is just as errant.

Lastly, the rather unintelligible penultimate paragraph of the response shows that the writer fails to grasp the point that what is true for the church of the first century MUST be true for the church of subsequent centuries, and that the Orthodox Church's requirement that bishops be unmarried is unapostolic and hence illegitimate, yet another sign that Orthodoxy is not the "pillar of truth" the writer thinks it is.

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Reader Comments (8)

Ahchoo4u can't see the fruit stand for his cliched apples and oranges. While he is correct that "the priest stands as Christ for the laity and, according to canon law, he is held to a much higher standard and rightfully so. We even go so far as to say that if the priest accidentally kills someone (let's say in a car accident for instance), he is to be defrocked," his example sets up a straw man. Let's ask instead, what if the priest becomes divorced? Let's say he is divorced by his wife though no fault of his own (comparable to the fatal car accident). Should this icon of Christ continue to be held to a high standard? Should he be defrocked? Before he answers, Ahchoo4u should do his homework and discover what really happens and has happened.

Orthodoxy has all that uninhabited moral high ground. It's a shame, really.

November 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCSL

Regarding his last point: how does the celibacy of bishops prevent "bishopesque monarchies" from forming? This is a genuine question, I'm not just baiting.

As far as regarding the higher standard for bishops: I'm sorry, I don't see it. It may be true in Russia or Greece, but here in America the standards are very uneven and enforced unevenly.

November 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSteveL

Brother, I am going through the process of trying to discern becoming Anglican or Orthodox. The Calvinism of many Anglicans and ecclesiology questions lead me too look at Orthodoxy while soteriology leads me to Anglicanism.

I have read you previous posts on Calvinism and Orthodoxy, but could you help this struggling sinner in trying to answer the question of ecclesiology and Calvinism in Anglicanism?

Thank you!

In Christ,
Dazed and confused

November 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDazed and confused

"Could you help this struggling sinner in trying to answer the question of ecclesiology and Calvinism in Anglicanism?"

I would say that the answer might be found in the theology of St. Augustine, from which both Calvin's soteriology and Anglican ecclesiology derive. Word and sacrament cannot be separated, but sacrament does obtain its efficacy from the Word. One of the reasons we "can't all get along", I think, is because we tend to drive apart things that were meant to be kept together. We've done this because oftentimes they are paradoxical or exist in some kind of tension, and our tidy minds don't like either. Does that help?

November 29, 2012 | Registered CommenterEmbryo Parson

It does help, thank you. Am I correct in discerning that Anglicans appreciates many of Calvin's assertions but is not in complete and total agreement with everything Calvin says, as say a Prebyterian would be?

On ecclesiology, is there anything available to demonstrate that the branch theory does meet St. Vincent's canon? This is one argument I can't "shake off" when I read Orthodox arguments.

Greatly indebted,
Dazed and Confused

November 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDazed and confused

I think it's safe to say that, yes. Otherwise, an Anglican would be compelled to embrace the Genevan Reform in toto. That being said, many Anglicans do embrace MUCH of the Calvinistic theology. Many, however, do not.

I'm not quite sure how to answer your second question. Not all Anglicans accept the Vincentian Canon, or at least they do not construe it the same way the Cathodox do. But as Fr. Kirby shows, the ancient church implicitly accepted some idea of ecclesial "branches." See the article linked in the sidebar, "Branch Theory or Branch Fact? Catholic Ecumenism and the Elephant in the Room."

December 8, 2012 | Registered CommenterEmbryo Parson

Right. Whether or not the Orthodox Church is the "pillar of truth" (a reference to I Tim. 3:15) is not so much a logical issue as it is a biblical, historical and empirical one. I maintain on biblical, historical and empirical grounds that the "church of the living God" referenced in that verse does not subsist in the Eastern Orthodox Church. I say rather that the Eastern Orthodox Church, empirically and historically, is a "branch" or "province" of that church.

Why should anyone, including yourself, believe what "I maintain"? So what if "I maintain" that the Orthodox interpretation of the Scriptures is wrong. You are a Protestant, of course that's what you would maintain.

The Orthodox Church "maintains" the opposite...The OC "maintains" that it wrote/edited/compiled the Holy Scriptures and the only correct understanding of them can be found within that liturgical tradition.

So what if "I maintain" that the Orthodox Church is a branch? You are after all a Protestant, of course that's what would maintain.

The Orthodox Church maintains that Jesus Christ is incarnate. Having a Body that is incarnate, means He is visible, as well as knowable to any human with any of the 5 senses.

The Protestant "true church" on the other hand, is invisible and unknowable, which in reality is a denial of the incarnation of God.

Your branch theory leads to many and wildly divergent understandings of the Holy Scriptures and of all things concerning Jesus Christ. These many and wildly divergent understandings lead some to handle snakes and others to become Anglican, and yet others, like yourself, to become snake handling Anglicans. There are as many interpretations as interpreters, and hence 20,000 some odd Protestant denominations, some handling snakes, others not.

You would have the Orthodox Church, for some reason, treat the snake handling Protestants as illegitimate and some non snake handling Protestants as legitimate. But why?

From the Orthodox perspective, none are any more legitimate than the other, as none of them are the Church. It doesn't matter if some look and act more like the Church, if they aren't the Church then they do not possess the Holy Mysteries (sacraments)...they just aren't the Church....big deal...not hard to understand.

The Orthodox (and Roman Catholic) position at least makes it possible for a true interpretation of the Holy Scriptures to actually be known, within the Holy Tradition that formed said Holy Scriptures.

On biblical grounds, I say that the Eastern Orthodox Church will never be any kind of "pillar of truth" until it conforms itself, in terms of both its orthodoxy and orthopraxis, with the soteriology of Holy Scripture. Which is to say until it experiences its own Reformation.

"on biblical grounds" what does that mean "on biblical grounds"?

It sounds as if you are saying that you know what the bible means to say....like you know the true interpretation of the Holy Scriptures....like you know the real orthopraxis and soteriology....like you are a "pillar of truth".

It sounds as if you are judging the Orthodox Church, its orthopraxis and soteriology, according to your own tradition, according to your own "pillar of truth"

Well of course that is what you are doing, you are after all Protestant. As a Protestant, you are your own "pillar of truth" .

You have a tradition and it forms and colors your view and understanding of everything. Your tradition is different than the Orthodox Tradition. Big deal. No surprise. You are Protestant, of course your tradition is different. And this proves what exactly?

January 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterScott

My response to Scott can be read here:

http://www.oldjamestownchurch.com/blog/2013/1/27/another-orthodox-commenter-heard-from.html

January 28, 2013 | Registered CommenterEmbryo Parson

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