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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Why I am not Eastern Orthodox

When it comes to examining Christianity, and especially which path to follow upon careful study and prayer, the three "top choices" are: Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, and Protestantism. Protestantism is the least likely candidate, and is to be rejected on various grounds (e.g. no historical continuity before Luther). This leaves Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy. The following ten reasons (not necessarily exhaustive) are why I'm not Eastern Orthodox, while not forgetting there is much good in the Orthodox Churches and that they are very close to Catholicism in many ways:

(1) Their leading Bishoprics, Constantinople and (now) Moscow, have no Apostolic Roots. (Where as the Roman Church was founded by the "two most glorious Apostles," Saints Peter and Paul.)

(2) They cannot agree upon a Canon of Scripture - nor does there appear to be a means of infallibly defining one. (e.g. The EO at the Council of Jerusalem in 1672 affirmed the same Canon as Catholics, though I've seen other EO sources denying some of those books.)

(3) They have manifestly defected from basic Christian principles, caving into worldly pressure, for example they allow Divorce and Contraception.

(4) They cannot agree as to whether Catholics have valid holy orders or other valid sacraments - some EO say 'yes', others say 'no'. Some re-baptize Catholics, others do not. And, again, there appears no way of 'officially' settling the issue.

(5) They cannot agree as to whether decrees such as the Council of Jerusalem of 1672 was universally binding - moreover, those EO who deny the authority of the Council of Jerusalem (often because it sounds too "Latin") wont go as far as to condemn it as manifest heresy and an abomination (which it logically should be *if* it teaches heresy and other abominable things).

(6) They cannot agree as to whether "Latin" figures such as Augustine are "saints," or "venerable," or merely confused Christians, or even arch-heretics (nor have I seen any 'official' EO pronouncements for the last option). Further, they generally don't give the Western Fathers as much respect or recognition as they do the Eastern Fathers.

(7) They have not had an Ecumenical Council in over 1,000 years, and this is apparently because they have no objective means of calling and establishing one.

(8) They downplay into virtual irrelevance the strong testimony (be it in Scripture, Tradition, or Patristics) for the Papacy.

(9) They have backed out of agreements, such as the Council of Florence, often with individual bishops overturning the 'votes' of other bishops and Patriarchs.

(10) They have had little influence in terms of evangelization outside of Eastern Europe, where as the Catholic Church originally evangelized (and still dominates) North and South America, Africa, and Asia all centuries ago.

In my experience, when Protestants leave their own denominations for Catholicism or Eastern Orthodoxy, those choosing the latter are often primarily driven by anti-Catholic bias more than a fair and balanced look at the facts and which side offers the better arguments. Though I am Catholic, in fairness I cannot brush aside worthy candidates for the title of "One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church," and that is why I felt it necessary to give some reasons for my choice. I believe the above reasons are sound and decisive in making the right choice. I realize there are major issues such as the Filioque not (directly) addressed above, but that is because the acceptance of such issues is largely dependent on which side has the true Authority to decide such matters.

24 comments:

EricBrooks said...

I agree, this is quite a difficult choice. It was made especially difficult for me because, as I was in the process of conversion, I was being taught during the week by Catholic priests who went against even the teachings of the relatively liberal Catechism of the Catholic Church, whereas the Greek Orthodox Deacon I occasionally visited was always serious about doctrine and well-read in the Fathers. Needless to say, as I became Catholic, the real arguments ultimately outwayed all such incidentals.

I think what really did it for me is #7. I've heard EO argue that they haven't had a council either because they haven't had a need, or because the first 1000 years set everything in stone so well that there are no longer serious questions recommending a universal judgment. Frankly I find that hard to believe. Certainly if the west did fall into heresy it seems to me that a crisis overtaking at least half of the Christian world would have been reason enough for a council to be called. The same point goes for the oriental churches which accept only the first 3 or 5 Councils, as well as for some of the older Protestant Churches that accept the earliest creeds.

Let me add one more point to your list. EO often implicitly accept Roman authority. A good example of this is the list of seven sacraments. I heard an orthodox Bishop on the radio once say that, while he personally accepts the list of seven sacraments, we should remember that many things such as tonsuring and the coronation of a king were considered sacraments early on and that technically there is no official ruling. It seems to me this places EO in a problematic position. If they accept the list of seven sacraments they implicitly accept the authority of Rome. If they reject it, then they admit that 2000 years in they still aren't sure what is and is not a true sacrament.

#8 is a half-truth. Many EO now admit the primacy of Rome in the early Church, but do not believe this primacy was the same as the authority we now believe is held by the Pope. This is where we get the idea of Constantinople as the second Rome or Moscow as the third Rome. The problem is that there doesn't seem to be any intelligible way to decide where this primacy moves to after Rome falls into heresy (or Constantinople is overtaken by Muslims). The standard seems to be simply "who's the biggest and most politically influential," but that hardly seems to be a theologically grounded principle.

Jae said...

Primarily EO have no central figure as Head that characterized UNITY and thus being as ONE that Jesus Christ had ordained His Church.

After they split from the Catholic Church in 1100's EO can't convened an Ecumencal Council to address any of her endeavors and problems with daunting secular challenges. They have no jurisdiction to one another nor any form of unity....sad if they only humbled themselves to the Will of Christ to be ONE.

Nick said...

I wouldn't say it was "quite a difficult" choice, because these issues are all pretty significant.

Also, another common danger that I've been told about by others is that while the EO might give off the impression of being 'conservative' and that the grass is greener on the other side, that's not a sure thing. I've been told there are significant strains of liberals and homosexuals and such among their group as well. I've been told in places like Greece it's not uncommon for people to sit and chat and smoke outside until communion time. So there's similar problems we face everywhere.

costrowski said...

I’d love to hear an Eastern Orthodox perspective on these points. It seems that one common denominator they use to respond to all questions of authority, or “how do you know...” is the term sobornost, which is the common acceptance of a belief by the Church. However this doesn’t seem to be acceptable since nearly the whole East fell into heresy a number of times. In our times, and ever since the breaking point of the East/West schism who can answer the question if Roman Catholic sacraments are valid for EO’s? Moscow accepts RC sacraments, but many other EO’s call them heretics. Can we attribute sobornost to the Russian Church alone since by itself it comprises over two thirds of all of Eastern Orthodoxy? That just doesn’t seem to work. Does any EO ecclesiology work regarding these matters?

costrowski said...

Nick,
I can personally confirm what you've been told about EO's staying outside of the church until communion time. That doesn't just happen in Greece, but also at the Serbian Orthodox parish located just a few blocks from my home. However, I always assumed those people did that because of the very lengthy and repetitive liturgy. When it gets over 2 hours I would need a break too.

Marlee said...

I entered the Catholic Church in 1999 after studying Eastern Orthodoxy first--I was so anti-Catholic in my background that I would NEVER have considered Catholicism right off the bat...I'm convinced that many evangelical Protestants have turned first to Eastern Orthodoxy for this same reason--EO, for most Americans anyway, is a great "unknown"--and so they are more confortable heading in that direction rather than heading toward Catholicism..

Brent said...

While considering conversion, I considered a number of factors for not becoming EO:

1. I'm a westerner. A lot of EO converts do it out of western self-loathing. It's very en vogue to be "eastern"--Christian or otherwise.

2. No Petrine Office--couldn't get me out of my "no authority" dilemma in protestantism

3. If there is a movement to unite East and West, why join something (EO) just to becoming something else (C) later?

4. Last but not least, I'm not a fan of apophatic theology. Most "defense" books of EO fell short of the positive rigor of a St. Thomas, St. Bonaventure, etc. Don't get me wrong, the Eastern Church provides an important 'breath' of mysticism in the Church. However, sometimes the neo-platonism can be stomach-turning. Call the Angelic Doctor please!

Nick said...

I came across an official statement on the Russian Orthodox page about Contraception and Divorce, here is what it says:

"XII. 3. ... In defining their attitude to the non-abortive contraceptives, Christian spouses should remember that human reproduction is one of the principal purposes of the divinely established marital union (see, X. 4). The deliberate refusal of childbirth on egoistic grounds devalues marriage and is a definite sin.

At the same time, spouses are responsible before God for the comprehensive upbringing of their children. One of the ways to be responsible for their birth is to restrain themselves from sexual relations for a time. However, Christian spouses should remember the words of St. Paul addressed to them: «Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time...» (1 Cor. 7:5). Clearly, spouses should make such decisions mutually on the counsel of their spiritual father. The latter should take into account, with pastoral prudence, the concrete living conditions of the couple, their age, health, degree of spiritual maturity and many other circumstances. In doing so, he should distinguish those who can hold the high demands of continence from those to whom it is not given (Mt. 19:11), taking care above all of the preservation and consolidation of the family."
http://www.mospat.ru/en/documents/social-concepts/xii/

This seems to be a very flowery way of allowing Contraception, while maintaining a publicly "conservative" approach to it.

(cont)

Nick said...

(cont)

In regards to divorce, the RO Church teaches:

"The Lord pointed to adultery as the only permissible ground for divorce ...

... In 1918, in its Decision on the Grounds for the Dissolution of the Marriage Sanctified by the Church, the Local Council of the Russian Orthodox Church, recognised as valid, besides adultery and a new marriage of one of the party, such grounds as a spouse’s falling away from Orthodoxy, perversion, impotence which had set in before marriage or was self-inflicted, contraction of leper or syphilis, prolonged disappearance, conviction with disfranchisement, encroachment on the life or health of the spouse, love affair with a daughter in law, profiting from marriage, profiting by the spouse’s indecencies, incurable mental disease and malevolent abandonment of the spouse. At present, added to this list of the grounds for divorce are chronic alcoholism or drug-addiction and abortion without the husband’s consent.

... if a divorce is an accomplished fact, especially when spouses live separately, the restoration of the family is considered impossible and a church divorce may be given if the pastor deigns to concede the request. The Church does not at all approve of a second marriage. Nevertheless, according to the canon law, after a legitimate church divorce, a second marriage is allowed to the innocent spouse. Those whose first marriage was dissolved through their own fault a second marriage is allowed only after repentance and penance imposed in accordance with the canons. According to the rules of St. Basil the Great, in exceptional cases where a third marriage is allowed, the duration of the penance shall be prolonged.

In its Decision of December 28, 1998, the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church denounced the actions of those spiritual fathers who «prohibit their spiritual children from contracting a second marriage on the grounds that second marriage is allegedly denounced by the Church and who prohibit married couples from divorce if their family life becomes impossible for this or that reason»."
http://www.mospat.ru/en/documents/social-concepts/kh/

This passage is a lot more power-packed, considering:

1) It (improperly) states Jesus only allowed ONE ground as an "exception".
2) It proceeded to list NUMEROUS grounds acceptable for divorce.
3) It uses similar flowery language to say the Church doesn't approve of a second marriage and yet goes onto say such is in fact permissible and fine.
4) It claims up to a third marriage is acceptable, under certain conditions.
5) Worst of all, it condemns those who teach divorce is not permitted at all.

This is a mish-mash of confusion, contradiction, arbitrary decisions, and plain falsehood.

Bezant said...

Hi,


I know this is an old post, and I'm not Orthodox, but #10 is a very unfair criticism.

Firstly, is evangelism a contest between Communions to spread the Gospel in an area first? No; that is a shallow exercise, but that's what you imply.

Secondly, Catholic evangelism was not possible without historical luck. Most of the major colonising powers in the Age of Exploration were Catholic: France, Spain, Portugal. At the same time, most of the Orthodox world was under Ottoman and Islamic rule. It could not evangelise half-way around the globe and it was illegal to do so in the empire; could it really do much more than maintain itself against the social and economic motivations to convert to Islam?

Thirdly, what does Catholicism's 16th-century evangelisation of the Americas, Africa and Asia have to do with today? Catholcism is on the decline, with the possible exception of Africa, and it certainly never dominated Asia. In the Americas the Church is losing members drastically, from relativist thinking in the U.S. to the growing popularity of charistmatic evangelicalism in Brazil.

Nick said...

Hello Bezant,

I see your point. My #10 really stands together with the rest of the points, rather than a decisive point on it's own.

The purpose isn't about who spread the Gospel first, but rather about the fact Eastern Orthodoxy has made very slow strides and is frankly eclipsed by the evangelistic efforts and success of Catholicism. You can bet that if Eastern Orthodox had first settled those territories, they'd be trumpeting that day and night.

As for your claim that Catholic evangelism was only possible by "luck," that simply assumes there is no Divine component whatsoever and that Catholicism is a purely secular philosophy. If one is Christian, then it's not 'luck' at all, but Divine Providence and guidance of the Holy Spirit. Such is akin to saying Abraham was chosen as a unique vessel for God by pure luck of a divine lottery.

As to your third point, that has a lot to do with today, for those nations have been graced with Catholic presence, often lifting those areas out of spiritual and civil darkness. The only sense in which Catholicism is on the 'decline' is in the massive secularism (the next phase of charismatic evangelicalism) overtaking the globe, but that's all going to come to a halt as people realize they must pick whether they're going to live for Christ or for the world. But in terms of numbers, there are still thousands Baptized each year.

Bezant said...

Orthodoxy is less visible on the global level than Catholicism, perhaps due its own shortcomings are partly at fault, but again with the historical review shows Orthodoxy clearly did not have the same opportunities to spread the Gospel as Catholicism. They had an excuse -- back then.

On your second point; maybe a Christian, if he is a Catholic, would believe the Holy Spirit had to do with the conversion of Catholics in these regions, but my SDA relatives, not so much. I don’t reject the possibility of a Divine Hand in the Age of Exploration, but people never agree when God’s Providence is working in the world, particularly since many of the conversions and conditions in this age weren't honorable.

On your third point, indeed, the Church is always taking in new members and welcoming reverts; it is not a ‘dying’ Church. However, quantity must be weighed against quality. How many newcomers and cradle Catholics remain in the Church? How many are engaged with their parish? How many lapse into ‘cafeteria Catholicism’?

Anonymous said...

simply said : Jesus founded His Church on St Peter, the Rock. The Catholic Church continues to live standing on this Rock. The orthodoxe reject Jesus' will. They know better than God. Who is like God ?

Tony

Anonymous said...

On Nick, this is a testimony of saintness, you are very blessed by God who gave you these correct insights. But you also have the merit you were humble enough to accept this grace. And now you're so courageous to spread the light of truth.

Tout est grĂ¢ce ce qui arrive.
All what happens to us, is grace.
St Theresa of Lisieux.

Tony

Anonymous said...

Just one remark more : If modernism would not reign in our western churches and convents, Russia would convert. Now they see all the mess of modernism and they say : oh no, this can't be from God. They're right in this, but they're wrong to close their eyes for history. Before 1962-1965 the R. Catholic Church was still in order.

Tony

Anonymous said...

The Catholic Church is run by Freemasons, Communist Marxists and crypto J EWs.
At least 20 Popes have been J EWs and over 40 Anti Popes.
Pope Leo The Khazar was the 1st Jew Pope. Rothschild took over the Vatican Bank in the 1820s and the rest is certainyl history, making way for a Satanic 1 world religion.

I write this as a Trad Catholic mind you.

Denny Sellen said...

Annulment. n, "Divorce" in Catholic language.

Nick said...

Denny,
I'm a guy who likes to joke around, but I also know that caricatures don't really help anyone. So unless you truly understand the real, substantial distinction between divorce and annulment, then you're not going to understand the seriousness of the Russian Orthodox saying that despite Christ allowing one grounds for divorce, that the RO none the less will allow for 15 grounds for divorce. That's no laughing matter.

G.E. Hoostal said...

Respondent 'costrowski' would like an EO perspective on the 10 pts I am EO but only a layman & EO for only 2 yrs (was a Lutheran before) & Christian for only 5 (was agn./pagan/nothing before), so I don't know very much yet. But I'll try to do what I can. I'm using the D-R & Vulg. here. Sorry this is basically a book!

1. The apostolic roots of the P of M are the same as those of the P of Const, since the former was mission territory of the latter; please see the end of the eccl affairs paragraph here: http://books.google.com/books?id=9lHeh36S8ooC&lpg=PT1386&pg=PT1386#v=onepage&q&f=false . The apostolic roots of the P of C are from St Andrew; please see the bottom of the 1st column & 2/3 down the 2nd here: http://books.google.com/books?id=0xIIAAAAQAAJ&pg=PA662#v=onepage&q&f=false .

2. We believe everything necessary to decide about it was decided in the Ec Councils—some explanation here: http://symeon-anthony.info/BibleCanon/CanonicalBibleBooks.htm . (Sorry though about the disapproval of the term 'Deuterocanonical'. Don't know the point of that. I always say it myself.) I don't know how the decisions of the EC might be not enough.

3. About divorce: Since Mt 5:32 says 'save on account of immorality' (fornication is causa/logou porneis), I think that's the only reason it's to be allowed, & that it should be allowed for that, since Christ said so, but not annulling because of the belief the husband & wife are joined by God, hence the Mystery/Sacrament, not by contractual vows, since 'swearing' is prohibited & thus aren't vows also? I just haven't seen how those are separate things. And if any marriage has the possibility of being annulled, can anyone be sure to be in a true marriage? That's just how it seems to me. About contraception: Of course the Scripture is opposed, being against pharmakeia, & all the Fathers who addressed it of course were absolutely opposed, e.g. ‘To have coitus other than to procreate children is to do injury to nature.’ —St Clement of Alexandria, ‘God gave us eyes not to see and desire pleasure, but to see acts to be performed for the needs of life; so too, the genital [’generating’ …from ‘genete’, Greek for ‘birth’] part of the body, as the name itself teaches, has been received by us for no other purpose than the generation of offspring.’ —Lactantius, & ‘But I wonder why he set Judah and Tamar before us for an example, unless perchance even harlots give him pleasure; or Onan, who was slain because he grudged his brother seed. Does he imagine that we approve of any sexual intercourse except for the procreation of children?’ —St Jerome, Against Jovinian. Before my husband & I joined the OC, we asked our priest (Fr Andrew Jarmus) if it was still the same, & he said it was. He's a very good priest, tells me to read the Scriptures & the Fathers always. So I have heard some priests have contradicted the Fathers; it just must be they have fallen into heresy.

4. Valid in the sense that the O may take part? No, sorry, we are not allowed to attend any church that is not O. Valid in the sense of converts needing new orders & sacraments? Bps decide based on the convert. I had been told I had had a Presb baptism, & the bp wanted to accept it. That didn't make any sense to me, since the Presb are not part of the Body of Christ, as far as the O (or C) believe, they have a (very) different faith, & since the rule my priest told me (Didache) says 1. immerse 3× in living water, otherwise, 2. immerse 3× in cold water, otherwise, 3. immerse 3× in warm water, & only if all those are impossible (e.g. someone is bedridden or is dying in the desert?) 4. pour water 3× over the head, but Presb do sprinkling. Also I had been brought up with no faith at all anyway. And when no record was found I was glad & was provided #2, I guess since the rivers are far from the church, but I would have been even more glad for #1. (cont.)

G.E. Hoostal said...

…Anyway, I remember reading something about accepting baptism of converts from heresy as economia, since the heretics would otherwise have not returned. I guess C don't get new baptism because they are not far from O.

5. Sorry, haven't gotten to this. I'm trying to read everything in order, with all patristic commentaries, since I understand things best that way, so it's very slow going.

6. Absolutely yes, we believe they are. Here is a list: http://www.orthodoxengland.org.uk/saintsint.htm (I guess the intro is not the most ecum, sorry!), incomplete, because, for example, probably every pre-Schism saint in the Dict of Saintly Women is both C & O, & not all in the latter are in the former. Also, my bp, Alexander (Golitzen), says some not yet officially O saints are still saints to him, like St Francis of A. And I don't know who could argue Mother Theresa isn't a st. The reason it looks like we can't make up our minds what level different saints are is the O titles of sts are about their lives. Besides the Virgin Mary being the greatest of anyone except God, we don't have levels of saints as you do. For example, we believe even a pagan can be a servant of God in some sense, e.g. Rom. 13:3,4a included the pagan emperor. Anyway, upon receiving the Eucharist, each O is called 'servant/handmaid(en) of God', but literally (in Greek), 'slave of God'. (Everyone's a slave either to sin or to God, right?) So 'servant of God' is not a high distinction to us, more like a default condition. And I think any saint can be called 'blessed', most notably 'our most holy, pure, BLESSED, and glorious Lady, the Theotokos and ever virgin Mary', & we both say, 'BLESSED art Thou (or "are You") among women'. Also we don't have the same kind of rules of canonization that you do. If it is clear someone died a martyr, we immediately recognize the person as a saint, & if the person didn't clearly die a martyr, we might still find evidence of miracles, incorrupt relics, or just an exceptionally holy life. We venerate such people, & devotion grows gradually. Eventually the O are generally convinced of the sainthood, & a bishop or bishops go through a procedure of certain rites, making official records, etc., to reflect the (by that time) already present faith in the sainthood. The process works from the bottom up, not top down. Anyway, some sts, E & W, have at times come to certain conclusions not acccepted by the O. Incidentally, I think in the W there has been a much better treatment of supersubstantiality than in the E, so these differences are about what specific teachings we believe are in the Apostolic Tradition or not. Regarding regional variations in veneration, you could look at, for example, the lives of sts on the site of the Greek Archdiocese & on that of the (Slavic-origin) OCA, & you would see many more Greeks on the former, many more Slavs on the latter. That doesn't mean Greeks hold Slavic sts in lower regard than Greek ones, just that the devotion in one culture or country hasn't yet been completely absorbed into the other. All venerated in any EO, or any Western Rite O, church are just as venerable in any other of either category. (Schism between EO & OO is a different story—I don't think anyone can give me evidence for a reason for it to exist—just a terrible difficulty.) Thus we O haven't yet absorbed all the devotion to Western O saints; it takes time to find out about them.

7. We have had lots of councils since then, & there is a big one coming up in 2016 in Constantinople, but a council is called by an emperor or patriarch to address heresy, eventually the bishops at it reach a consensus, then the people accept or reject the findings in another consensus, & if all these things happen the council is called ecum. (cont.)

G.E. Hoostal said...

…I think if the 2nd consensus is not reached the council might be considered a robber council—not sure though. So this next one could end up being ecum.

8. We accept that the Papacy is true & extant, but not that it means what I think you think it means. The Orthodox understanding is that the Pope is to lead & chair councils, to have the right to speak for the whole Church, & to be allowed to mediate disputes, but that he is not allowed to give a decree to any other bishop, develop doctrines or dogmas, change the faith, change the Creed, etc. I guess like how Christ is the King of kings, the bishops are ecclesiastical kings, & the Pope is the #1 eccl king, but each eccl king rules his own realm, & if any goes into error, an anathema is to be pronounced against him & he will be deposed & replaced. There's more here: http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/chrstuni/ch_orthodox_docs/rc_pc_chrstuni_doc_20071013_documento-ravenna_en.html

9. Sorry again, not able to get to this yet.

10. Countries that have been wholly evangelized by Orthodox: Ethiopia/Eritrea, Palestine, Greece, Macedonia, Asia Minor/Antioch, Cyprus, Syria, Mesopotamia/Iraq, Egypt, Nubia, Bulgaria, Armenia, Georgia, Albania, Romania, Serbia, Bohemia/Moravia/Slovakia, Principality of Kiev aka the Ukraine/Belarus/Russia (world's largest country!); countries significantly evangelized by Orthodox: Libya, Lebanon, Persia/Media/Iran, India, Qatar/Yemen/Arabia, China, Kazakhstan, Alaska, Kenya, & Guatemala. Further major mission fields are active in Mongolia & Tanzania. And of course the C were also O during most of the time Europe was evangelized. You have more #s now, but we had more #s once. I think you gained steadily in Central & S America, but we gained in leaps such as by getting Russia & other countries all at once, & recently many Indian tribes in Guatemala. You have many more in the US, but are holding steady while we slowly gain (don't know about worldwide rates). But if correctness were based on #s, wouldn't correctness have recently shifted from Catholicism to Islam ( http://www.foxnews.com/story/2008/03/30/vatican-islam-surpasses-roman-catholicism-as-world-largest-religion/ ), & wouldn't happy-clapping be closer to the truth than the most traditional kind of Lutheranism (the kind with statues, incense, vestments, prayers for 'the dead', & prohibition of contraception—what I had been searching for as a Lutheran, by the way, never finding everything in one place until reaching the OC)? (^◡^)

In case you're wondering, why I'm not (Roman) Catholic—terribly sorry to disappoint anyone, hope not to offend anyone!—besides some things already mentioned:

1. 'NFP' (or the same method & result) having been condemned by St Augustine, when he wrote against the Manicheans, ‘Is it not you who used to counsel us to observe as much as possible the time when a woman, after her purification, is most likely to conceive, and to abstain from cohabitation at that time, lest the soul should be entangled in flesh? This proves that you approve of having a wife, not for the procreation of children, but for the gratification of passion. In marriage, as the marriage law declares, the man and woman come together for the procreation of children. Therefore whoever makes the procreation of children a greater sin than copulation, forbids marriage, and makes the woman not a wife, but a mistress, who for some gifts presented to her is joined to the man to gratify his passion. Where there is a wife there must be marriage. But there is no marriage where motherhood is not in view; therefore neither is there a wife. In this way you forbid marriage. Nor can you defend yourselves successfully from this charge, long ago brought against you prophetically by the Holy Spirit,’ (cont.)

G.E. Hoostal said...

…but Pope Pius the XII allowing 'NFP' for 'medical, eugenic, economic and social' reasons (& 'social' could mean just about anything someone wants it to mean, right?), contrary to all the Fathers, who would have us crucify the flesh by following the marital fast, or by completely abstaining as did (from both E & W) St Conon & his wife, St Ammon of Egypt & his wife, Sts Paulinus & Therasia, St Melania the Younger & Pinianus, St Pulcheria & Emperor Marcian, St Eupraxia & Sen Antigonus, St Seraphim of Virits & his wife, & St John of Kronstadt & his wife. And the 'natural' in 'NFP' is from 'natura', meaning 'birth', but 'NFP' is '99% effective' against birth, & 'family planning' is a term of propaganda from Margaret Sanger or someone similar. So I can't accept such papal proclamations contrary to the Fathers as infallible.

2. O bishops/patriarchs function as icons against heresy, i.e. if any one of them falls into heresy, the other bishops, in both the present time & in history, who have not changed position, are models of O & the true faith in opposition to one in heresy. We O believe this happened with the adopting of the filioque, & don't understand, since Pope Leo III decreed changing the Creed was not allowed & defended 'the orthodox faith', with no filioque, on the shields (are those still around?), how a later pope could decree that the Creed was to be changed, saying essentially the faith required filioque, which it hadn't before, & that all these things are simultaneously infallible. Without the filioque, the O didn't become Arians. We resolved to give the Virgin Mary the title 'Theotokos', except since the Creed was not allowed to be changed, we still call Her 'the Virgin Mary' in the Creed. We don't understand how the sum could be not enough of a defense again Arianism.

3. I think C fasting would be not be a big challenge, esp since I can't even eat meat anyway (for digestion). Our rules are: nothing from midnight before Communion, not even water; & during Lent (48 days), & 3 other fasts in the yr & commem of St John the Baptist, & almost every Wed & Fri, no meat except shellfish, no eggs, dairy products, alcohol, or olive oil, except wine & olive oil on weekends & a few other days, & fish on a few fasting days, & you don't eat until you're full, & it's good to eat less often, plus there are 7 days no meat before Lent. Not that I'm bragging or that I'm great at fasting: I think you have it harder when you get to eat only 1 meal in a day—is that it?—& I'm terrible at praying, & keeping the fast is supposed to be done no more strictly than keeping the rule of prayer—but I don't see an overall challenge in the C rules. Since we are supposed to be in the Church Militant, I feel it should be like boot-camp for the soul, with a high bar set & discomfort often. O confession may be harder too: never anonymous, next to the priest & in front of the iconostasis, with hand on the Gospels.

4. I don't know enough Latin (yet! working on the Vulgate Latin Course!) for Latin Mass.

5. I can't comprehend not singing & chanting a capella; coming together only to pray silently; the priest facing W (the O face W before baptism to spit on the devil); not having incense or epiclesis; the possibility that there can be a Mass with no one attending (who would be DISMISSED? (^▿^) ); having a Protestantized Mass with felt banners &c, the circus-Mass with the roller-skating angels, the WYD pop-concert Mass, the costumed Halloween Mass, &c; accepting emotional & sentimental images, prayers, & misc writings; relying on imagination, as might be done in C meditation or in making C paintings—19 out of 20 times in the Bible, imagination deceives people—the O never trust it; (cont.)

G.E. Hoostal said...

…cartoons of saints like on C Online; the 'Sacred Heart' devotion, as if Christ's heart were disembodied & really had thorns poking it, or any other image that isn't depicting literal fact (O icons always have serious, solemn poses, in historical depiction, & even depictions that aren't icons, e.g. pictures in children's books, are based on icons & are wholly reverent & nearly icons); classifying saints by race (as on C Online); believing not just countries but races have patron saints, as if our skin color matters; having images of Christ or the Virgin Mary with other, untrue skin-colors; while not requiring Eastern priests to be celibate, requiring the Western (I mention these last 4 items since I don't hear of them, even though the O have been accused of being divided along ethnic lines, but at least within EO, even under many patriarchates, all ethnicities & churches have the same faith, are in communion with one another, venerate all the same saints, allow all to join or intermarry, allow all clergy to marry prior to ordination, & celebrate the same liturgies, except for the Western Rite, which is allowed to continue its Western Tradition under Eastern bishops, until the Schism is over); re-enactment of crucifixion or any other spectacle-making of suffering (which brings to mind for the O, 'And when you fast, be not as the hypocrites, sad. For they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast.'); any other intentional damaging of the body, since it's a temple, including 'embalming' (in the modern sense, with the blood dumped in the sewer & replaced with poison) or cremation; or considering any of those things acceptable to be in communion with, or considering a pope who allows it all, even presiding over some of it, infallible, or even trustworthy enough to guide me through asceticism or possible martyrdom or to heaven at all. I'm not crazy about how statues seem to stare into space, & like better how the people in icons always look at the viewer (unless they are depicted doing miracles or something like that), but maybe that's just me.

6. We have the Holy Fire.

7. All the Laws & Canons of the Church in ancient times are still our Laws & Canons & may never be changed.

8. O Communion doesn't depend on 'reason', since no one can comprehend God anyway, & so in acknowledgement of such frailty of the human mind, all the baptized O commune, & because of the mention of blood in John 6 (among other reasons), must under both species.

9. We believe that Christ is the Rock (as in Ac 4:11, Rm 9:32,33, 1 Cor 10:4; St Peter called Christ & not himself the Rock in 1 Pt 2, & Christ had to call him 'Satan' shortly after Mt. 16:18, & he denied Christ 3×, all of which is very un-rock-like to us), that the Church is built on Him AND all the Apostles & Prophets (Eph 2:20), & since St Peter went to Antioch 1st, his going to Rome doesn't seem to us to be any argument for Roman supremacy. (cont.)

G.E. Hoostal said...

…10. I believe, like St Vladimir's envoys, 'beauty is truth & truth is beauty', & that 'more (& more, & more…) is more'. So I think where the most beauty is encountered, the complete truth is found, & although I still can find beauty elsewhere, even absolute beauty, if it's not pouring out in massive waves, covering & filling everything completely, knocking me over at least in spirit (Holy Chrysm did that physically though! I don't know how I didn't faint or totally collapse…), it doesn't seem to me to be complete truth. For example, I appreciate Gregorian Chant, but find it austere & cold, & I'm in love with such hymns as these: 1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OcPVy1Sn6TI & 2. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C9FZ67S0kwU , which seem to be overflowing with joy & love of God. I think the right aim is for 'the priests [to be unable to] stand and minister', 'for the glory of the Lord [would have] filled the house of God', & if we see 'the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord' we should 'fall on [our] face[s]'. So I wonder if we can ever say we have 'enough' icons (here: http://www.newgracanica.com/images/monasteryImages/m-istocna-strana.jpg is 'enough' for one church!), singing, chanting, praying, incense (at least not until the fire-trucks arrive!), bowing, prostrating, kissing, gold, diamonds, ornament, brocade, alleluias (including during Lent, since we want to praise God for everything, & want to be full of joy even in suffering), processions, Pascha (service lasts past midnight & the party ends about 3 AM!), solemnity, beauty, mystery… The OC is where I found all this in such abundance.

Thank you so much for allowing me to respond! Glory to Jesus Christ.