[Orthodoxy] Ecumenism

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  • #1038

    Andres Ortiz
    Keymaster

    [quote:376bceib]This next issue–one of Ecumenism–is also a difference between Orthodox and Catholics. In accordance with Vatican II’s Unitatis Redintegratio, it is decreed to Roman Catholics to support Ecumenism, and to reintegrate to Rome all those outside of Rome. The Catholic Church makes it no secret that she believes that those not with her are separated from her. The Orthodox Church, not having accepted canonical violations, not having accepted theology that contradicts Holy Scripture and Holy Tradition, is dubbed the schismatics. I’ll tell you, this is one makes me personally very sad. The Orthodox Church, with the exception of various Orthodox Ecumenists, do not support the idea of Ecumenism…most Orthodox see it as pan-heresy. And they see it in this light for the following reasons. To suggest that there is such a thing as more than one Church, is to deny the Creed. The Church is one because Christ is One. Altered, innovated beliefs of sectarian groups are not Churches. This may sound a little harsh, but if we believe the Nicene Creed, this is what we confess as Christians. Christ’s Church is One because Christ is One. To suggest that the Church somehow lessens because innovators go off on their own, is to call Christ a liar when He said that the gates of Hell shall not prevail against her. I personally think, that even for Roman Catholics, who believe that the Catholic Faith, is the ONE FAITH of Ephesians 4:4, Ecumenism is an insulting philosophy. As Orthodox Christians, we believe and confess that the Orthodox Church is the Church, the Ark of Salvation. Orthodoxy is the Ecumenical Church, she does not need Ecumenism. Ecumenism, a theology of RELATIVISM, asks Orthodoxy to set aside Her absolute Truths. It’s just something she cannot do. Are heterodox in the Church, according to Orthodox. No, no they are not. Yes, this includes Roman Catholics too. I don’t say this in a air of arrogance, permit me to be honest with you. If the Church at Rome has added innovation upon innovation, than Rome is not in the ONE FAITH—this is not to say that Catholics are lost. There are many Catholics who love Christ, God alone sees the heart, and judges perfectly, what we could only judge imperfectly. Many people believe that we Orthodox are against Ecumenism just out of spite, but its’ not true. We are against it because the very definition of the Church as catholic (whole, complete) precludes the possibility of a second Church, let alone many Churches. [/quote:376bceib]

    #4346

    Andres Ortiz
    Keymaster

    [quote:1yjigo71]To suggest that there is such a thing as more than one Church, is to deny the Creed.[/quote:1yjigo71]
    Ecumenism is not saying that there is more than one church. In fact the Catholic Church believes that there is only one church, but that our Protestant brothers and sisters are not wholly connected to it. It’s kind of odd, but there was some previous discussion here: http://www.aboutcatholics.com/community … =2337#2337

    [quote:1yjigo71]Ecumenism, a theology of RELATIVISM, asks Orthodoxy to set aside Her absolute Truths.[/quote:1yjigo71]
    In what way? My understanding of ecumenism is to promote dialogue and forge relationships with other religions to eventually lead them to the truth, not compromise the truth.

    #4979

    [quote:1hvm8bjd][quote:1hvm8bjd]To suggest that there is such a thing as more than one Church, is to deny the Creed.[/quote:1hvm8bjd]
    Ecumenism is not saying that there is more than one church. In fact the Catholic Church believes that there is only one church, but that our Protestant brothers and sisters are not wholly connected to it. It’s kind of odd, but there was some previous discussion here: http://www.aboutcatholics.com/community … =2337#2337

    [quote:1hvm8bjd]Ecumenism, a theology of RELATIVISM, asks Orthodoxy to set aside Her absolute Truths.[/quote:1hvm8bjd]
    In what way? My understanding of ecumenism is to promote dialogue and forge relationships with other religions to eventually lead them to the truth, not compromise the truth.[/quote:1hvm8bjd]

    Let me attempt to explain. What you seem to be missing here is a distinction between what Orthodox refer to as ecumenism and an ecumenical dialogue. The former is opposed by many Orthodox (myself included) as a pan-heresy which claims that there is no One True Church and that accepts the branch theory. This is basically Protestant ecclesiology as embraced by the WCC.

    Ecumenical dialogue, such as attempts at reunification with the RCC are quite different and legitimate. It is one thing for us to discuss with a group how they can rejoin the Church (from our point of view the RCC is at best schismatic) and another to accept that all believers are already part of the Church and work for some lowest common denominator political union.

    Does that make more sense? (And please, I hope you’re not offended by my use of the word schismatic – I’m trying to be honest and straightforward, not inflammatory).

    James

    #4991

    If Ecumenism claims that there is no One True Church, Catholicism does not hold to it. I have never seen that definition for it, and know it is NOT what is meant by ecumenism when the Pope says it. The Catholic Church DEFINITELY claims to be ONE, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic. We msot certainly do NOT admit other churches as true churches.

    Now other churches can have varying levels of the truth. For instance, Orthodoxy would be as close to the truth as you could really be without having the WHOLE truth. Episcopalian would have less truth than Orthodox, Lutherans less than Episcopalians, and Fundamentalist Baptists less than Lutherans.

    But that is NOT to say they are true Churches, merely that they have SOME of the truth in them.

    #5013

    [quote:28jtvgw0]If Ecumenism claims that there is no One True Church, Catholicism does not hold to it. I have never seen that definition for it, and know it is NOT what is meant by ecumenism when the Pope says it. The Catholic Church DEFINITELY claims to be ONE, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic. We msot certainly do NOT admit other churches as true churches.

    Now other churches can have varying levels of the truth. For instance, Orthodoxy would be as close to the truth as you could really be without having the WHOLE truth. Episcopalian would have less truth than Orthodox, Lutherans less than Episcopalians, and Fundamentalist Baptists less than Lutherans.

    But that is NOT to say they are true Churches, merely that they have SOME of the truth in them.[/quote:28jtvgw0]

    I realise that what Orthodox who are opposed to it call ecumenism and what the Pope calls ecumenism are two different things – that’s why I tried to explain the distinction. The dialog with Rome, in my opinion, is not heretical so long as it is seeking to heal the Schism by bringing Rome back into the Church. Our membership of the WCC and dialogs there are perilously close to heresy, though I try to be charitable and put it down to my own heirarchs’ unfamiliarity with Protestant ecclesiology (there are very few Protestants in Romania).

    As for the rest of your post, I could say exactly the same thing except for changing everywhere you wrote Catholic for Orthodox and vice versa, except that I would have to say that, now at least, I feel the the Oriental Orthodox are closer to the full Truth of the Holy Orthodox Catholic Church than are Roman Catholics. I do not believe any of their doctrine is heretical (though their Christology is very badly phrased). In contrast, unfortunately, I feel the RCC has developed several new heretical doctrines since the Schism, and doesn’t yet appear to have renounced the heresy of filioquism (though this has been watered down).

    Note that I am trying to describe the situation as we see it and I hope that this doesn’t cause offence (your post did not offend me) and that you can see that if I oppose ecumenism but accept legitimate dialog, from your perspective I am saying the very same thing as your Pope does.

    James

    #5020

    Well I think we pretty much agree–except about whose Church is the Real church, lol

    #5068

    Victor
    Member

    Purgatory, Baptism, and Ecumenism seem to be areas of agreement. Different terms are used that’s about it.
    On the other hand the Papacy and Filoque are real disagreements and not just a usage of different terms.

    Hopefully we can continue the dialogue in these areas in a charitable manner.

    ~Victor

    #5070

    [quote:1541g2p6]Purgatory, Baptism, and Ecumenism seem to be areas of agreement. Different terms are used that’s about it.
    On the other hand the Papacy and Filoque are real disagreements and not just a usage of different terms.

    Hopefully we can continue the dialogue in these areas in a charitable manner.

    ~Victor[/quote:1541g2p6]

    I agree with you up to a point on baptism (from my point of view RCs are too lax, but not wrong) and totally on ecumenism (where the misunderstandings are linguistic) but I cannot agree with you at all on purgatory. Not only has the innovation of purgatory been condemned several times in the east, but there simply is no room in my theology for a God who will forgive us, but only after he’s tortured us for a bit first. Nor is there room for the pseudo-god ‘Necessity’ that seems to bind the hands of the God of Scholasticism. I’m not surprised that you seem to have difficulty grasping the difference between Orthodox belief in the efficacy of prayer for the dead and Purgatory, because I’ve come across the same misunderstandings often enough before, but I honestly don’t know why.

    I am happy to discuss any areas of disagreement calmly and rationally with you and other reasonable posters here. This excludes only one person whose posts I shall continue to ignore.

    James

    #5071

    SOGFPP
    Member

    [quote:3jbtdt95]Not only has the innovation of purgatory been condemned several times in the east, but there simply is no room in my theology for a God who will forgive us, but only after he’s tortured us for a bit first. [/quote:3jbtdt95]
    What the heck are you talking about? “tortured us”?????? :shock: I don’t think you have any idea about what RC believe about purgatory.
    [quote:3jbtdt95]Nor is there room for the pseudo-god ‘Necessity’ that seems to bind the hands of the God of Scholasticism. [/quote:3jbtdt95]
    James…. it’s stuff like this that drives people crazy…. you make a judgement about the RCC that is about 200 years behind current teaching…. but if I call you on it, you just say “ooops, I was a Lutheran, sorry”……

    #5072

    [quote:39hvjlg3][quote:39hvjlg3]Not only has the innovation of purgatory been condemned several times in the east, but there simply is no room in my theology for a God who will forgive us, but only after he’s tortured us for a bit first. [/quote:39hvjlg3]
    What the heck are you talking about? “tortured us”?????? :shock: I don’t think you have any idea about what RC believe about purgatory.
    [quote:39hvjlg3]Nor is there room for the pseudo-god ‘Necessity’ that seems to bind the hands of the God of Scholasticism. [/quote:39hvjlg3]
    James…. it’s stuff like this that drives people crazy…. you make a judgement about the RCC that is about 200 years behind current teaching…. but if I call you on it, you just say “ooops, I was a Lutheran, sorry”……[/quote:39hvjlg3]

    Scott,

    I’m sorry if my post has maddened you. If my understanding of Purgatory is mistaken perhaps you could explain it to me? I don’t claim to know RC teachings inside and out (and my ‘I was a Lutheran’ comments are not meant to justify misunderstandings but merely to explain them – I thought you realised that?).

    The torture comment, and the deified Necessity idea are both based on my understanding of Purgatory as a place we must (necessity) go if we die with certain sins on our soul to be punished before God is able to forgive us. If my understanding is wrong then I’d appreciate it if you could explain why.

    I am not trying to be inflammatory about this at all, but I think that our differences on this are more than just terminology. If not, then I don’t understand why you have a teaching on purgatory at all. We don’t and have never seen the necessity to have one. I do not believe that God has to do anything in order to forgive us (which includes punishing or purifying us) and I don’t believe that an all-loving God would choose to punish us prior to forgiving us. Outside of these two ideas, I cannot understand the justification for purgatory, but if you can accept these two points and still believe in purgatory then, you’re right I probably do misunderstand current RC teachings. Any clarification of the RC position would be very gladly received. I am not seeking to argue with you for argument’s sake, I simply do not understand.

    James

    #5073

    I never look at Purgatory as a place to be punished–but to be CLEANSED. As Saint Paul says of Purgatory in 1 Corinthians 3: 10-15

    [quote:28mtg3m3]According to the grace of God given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building upon it. But each one must be careful how he builds upon it,
    for no one can lay a foundation other than the one that is there, namely, Jesus Christ.
    If anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, or straw,
    the work of each will come to light, for the Day 7 will disclose it. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire (itself) will test the quality of each one’s work.
    If the work stands that someone built upon the foundation, that person will receive a wage.
    But if someone’s work is burned up, that one will suffer loss; the person will be saved, 8 but only as through fire.[/quote:28mtg3m3]

    All of our straw and wood and hay will be burned up, and thus making us ready for Heaven. Will it be painful? Yes, but not in the same way of pain that we think of on Earth, most likely. It is God’s purifying fire which will ready us for Heaven.

    #5074

    SOGFPP
    Member

    James… you can read my overview of Purgatory here: http://www.religiousforums.com/forum/sh … post151743

    The CURRENT RCC teaching about Purgatory has nothing to do with the medival theology of suffering and punishment for sin.

    Purgatory is best understood as a process by which we are purged of our residual selfishness so that we can really become one with God…. the only “suffering” we experience is the suffering assosiated with the surrender of self to God’s will.

    The Council of Florence’s Decree for the Greeks (1439) struck a careful balance between the Western concept of satisfaction and expiation and the Eastern emphasis on purification.

    Hope this helps.

    Scott

    #5081

    [quote:9shb5qfh]James… you can read my overview of Purgatory here: http://www.religiousforums.com/forum/sh … post151743

    The CURRENT RCC teaching about Purgatory has nothing to do with the medival theology of suffering and punishment for sin.

    Purgatory is best understood as a process by which we are purged of our residual selfishness so that we can really become one with God…. the only “suffering” we experience is the suffering assosiated with the surrender of self to God’s will.

    The Council of Florence’s Decree for the Greeks (1439) struck a careful balance between the Western concept of satisfaction and expiation and the Eastern emphasis on purification.

    Hope this helps.

    Scott[/quote:9shb5qfh]

    Thanks. Then is this similar to our understanding that God’s love is a river of fire that is unavoidable and in which some are purified and become willingly one with God (the ‘state’ of Heaven) and some are ‘burnt’ because of their hatred for God and the inability to escape His love (Hell)? You see in this case I could see Purgatory as an over-rationalisation of the state of those who fit into neither extreme and who experience God after the particular judgement and before the Last Judgement, much as I see the ideas of Heaven and Hell as [i:9shb5qfh]places[/i:9shb5qfh] as an over-rationalisation.

    If this is the case, then I see no need for a purgatory teaching at all but would agree that the disagreement is mainly one of terminology. If not, then I’d appreciate further clarification. In either case, I do tend to find over-rationalisations dangerous. From my point of view there is a tendency in the west to over-philosophize theology (by no means confined to the RCC) which seems to stem from the belief that we can grasp God with our created intellect but, as St Gregory of Nyssa said, [i:9shb5qfh]”Anyone who tries to describe the ineffable Light in language is truly a liar – not because he hates the truth, but because of the inadequacy of his language.”[/i:9shb5qfh] Human reason and human language simply cannot grasp the nature of that which is outside creation and philosophy can never describe the Uncreated. I look forward to your reply (it seems as though we are getting somewhere at last) and leave you with another quote that somes up my feelings on the reachableness (is that a word?) of God:

    “He may well be loved, but not thought. By love can He be caught and held, but by thinking never.” – [i:9shb5qfh]The Cloud of Unknowing[/i:9shb5qfh]

    James

    #5087

    SOGFPP
    Member

    [quote:ntycndz1]Thanks. Then is this similar to our understanding[/quote:ntycndz1]
    Nice to hear that, for a change. <img src=” title=”Wink” />
    [quote:ntycndz1]If this is the case, then I see no need for a purgatory teaching at all but would agree that the disagreement is mainly one of terminology.[/quote:ntycndz1]
    The fact that you personally see no need for it….. well, to be frank… who cares?

    We use different terminology and base our teachings in part based on the culture… with different cultures and modes of thought, East and West are bound to express things differently, so I don’t see where you feel the need to point out that you see “no need” for it.
    [quote:ntycndz1]From my point of view there is a tendency in the west to over-philosophize theology [/quote:ntycndz1]
    From our point of view, there is a tendency in the East to over-mystify theology (by no means confined to your RO) which seems to stem from the belief than humans are so deficient that any attempt to use our God given reason and intellect somehow robs God of His honor and mystery.

    There should be a balance between the two…. the post-Vatican II Catholic Church has made quite an effort to do just that, and I think the more you learn about CURRENT RCC teachings, you’ll begin to realize it.

    I’ll leave you with a quote of my own:

    [color=blue:ntycndz1]Faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth; and God has placed in the human hearth a desire to know the truth – in a word, to know himself – so that, by knowing God, men and women may also come to the fullness of truth about themselves.[/color:ntycndz1]
    (cf Ex 33:18; Ps 27:8-9; 63:2-3; Jn 14:8; 1 Jn 3:2)
    From Fides et Ratio by Servant of God John Paul II

    Peace in Christ,
    Scott

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