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How has conversion affected your relationship with Christ/God?

Papist

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In my mind, one of the very positive traits of Evangelical Christianity is the insistence on a personal and loving relationship with Christ. I felt that influence on my own experience of God when I was young and my Catholic parents were involved in the Catholic Charismatic movement.

Of course, as I grew older, I moved far, far away from the Charismatic movement, becoming a traditionalist and then Byzantine Catholic. However, I always maintained the senses of closeness and personalness in my experience of God.

My question is the following. For those of you who converted from Evangelical Christianity to Orthodoxy, how has your relationship with God changed? Do you still have a sense of God working closely and personally in your life?
 

Porter ODoran

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Now I know what God working closely and personally with one can be. The Evangelical idea, "I was born again July 16th, 1989," tends to have as much of a ring of abandonment as joy to it.
 

byhisgrace

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Papist said:
In my mind, one of the very positive traits of Evangelical Christianity is the insistence on a personal and loving relationship with Christ. I felt that influence on my own experience of God when I was young and my Catholic parents were involved in the Catholic Charismatic movement.

Of course, as I grew older, I moved far, far away from the Charismatic movement, becoming a traditionalist and then Byzantine Catholic. However, I always maintained the senses of closeness and personalness in my experience of God.

My question is the following. For those of you who converted from Evangelical Christianity to Orthodoxy, how has your relationship with God changed? Do you still have a sense of God working closely and personally in your life?
As one who is still inquiring, this would be an interesting thread to me. Thank you, Papist.
 

TheTrisagion

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I have a much greater sense that God works and moves in all things. On top of that, I would say that I better understand that God is not just a buddy, but rather someone much more magnificent, terrifying and glorious as well as incomprehensible.
 

Papist

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TheTrisagion said:
I have a much greater sense that God works and moves in all things. On top of that, I would say that I better understand that God is not just a buddy, but rather someone much more magnificent, terrifying and glorious as well as incomprehensible.
Do you still have a sense of the "personal relationship with Christ?"
 

Agabus

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Papist said:
TheTrisagion said:
I have a much greater sense that God works and moves in all things. On top of that, I would say that I better understand that God is not just a buddy, but rather someone much more magnificent, terrifying and glorious as well as incomprehensible.
Do you still have a sense of the "personal relationship with Christ?"
Yes but in a very different way.

To be fair, I think much of that has to do with the age I was during my stint in the Evangelical wilderness and what had happened in my life prior to chrismation.
 

TheTrisagion

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Papist said:
TheTrisagion said:
I have a much greater sense that God works and moves in all things. On top of that, I would say that I better understand that God is not just a buddy, but rather someone much more magnificent, terrifying and glorious as well as incomprehensible.
Do you still have a sense of the "personal relationship with Christ?"
I do, but in a vastly different way. My prior understanding was Christ was someone that you asked for stuff from and sometimes it happened and sometimes it didn't. My evangelical style prayers were limited to petitions for various things, everything from good health to help my car start. There wasn't a sense of the majesty because Jesus was more like a nice guy that you would want to hang out with and He did stuff for you if you prayed hard enough for it.

My relationship now is much more vertical in that my prayers are much more oriented (as you know doubt know) to worship and glorifying Christ and the Holy Trinity in general. Certainly petitions are part of that, but now they are only a part, not the focus of prayer. The concept of sacraments (even though I am unable to participate) lend towards a much more physical understanding of Christ. We can actually participate with Christ today as opposed to just thinking of Him as a guy who lived here 2,000 years ago and should be coming back at some point. The Holy Eucharist IS Christ. We have holy water because Christ Himself santified the waters through His baptism. I can be assured of the absolution of sin through Confession. There are icons that visually teach continuously about Christ. All of these things just make Him more real and therefore a better sense of a true "relationship".
 

byhisgrace

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TheTrisagion said:
The concept of sacraments (even though I am unable to participate) lend towards a much more physical understanding of Christ.
I thought that all Orthodox Christians can participate in the sacraments.
 

Porter ODoran

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byhisgrace said:
TheTrisagion said:
The concept of sacraments (even though I am unable to participate) lend towards a much more physical understanding of Christ.
I thought that all Orthodox Christians can participate in the sacraments.
Not so.
 

byhisgrace

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Porter ODoran said:
byhisgrace said:
TheTrisagion said:
The concept of sacraments (even though I am unable to participate) lend towards a much more physical understanding of Christ.
I thought that all Orthodox Christians can participate in the sacraments.
Not so.
What Orthodox Christians are not allowed to participate in the Eucharist of the Divine Liturgy?

 

Porter ODoran

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byhisgrace said:
Porter ODoran said:
byhisgrace said:
TheTrisagion said:
The concept of sacraments (even though I am unable to participate) lend towards a much more physical understanding of Christ.
I thought that all Orthodox Christians can participate in the sacraments.
Not so.
What Orthodox Christians are not allowed to participate in the Eucharist of the Divine Liturgy?
Excommunicated, catechumens, and some others.
 

TheTrisagion

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byhisgrace said:
Porter ODoran said:
byhisgrace said:
TheTrisagion said:
The concept of sacraments (even though I am unable to participate) lend towards a much more physical understanding of Christ.
I thought that all Orthodox Christians can participate in the sacraments.
Not so.
What Orthodox Christians are not allowed to participate in the Eucharist of the Divine Liturgy?
I am a catechumen and have been so for quite some time as my wife is against me joining the Church. When I am chrismated, then I will be able to participate in the sacraments.
 

byhisgrace

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TheTrisagion said:
byhisgrace said:
Porter ODoran said:
byhisgrace said:
TheTrisagion said:
The concept of sacraments (even though I am unable to participate) lend towards a much more physical understanding of Christ.
I thought that all Orthodox Christians can participate in the sacraments.
Not so.
What Orthodox Christians are not allowed to participate in the Eucharist of the Divine Liturgy?
I am a catechumen and have been so for quite some time as my wife is against me joining the Church. When I am chrismated, then I will be able to participate in the sacraments.
Jesus said that unless I eat His flesh and drink His blood, I have no life in Him (John 6:53). If that verse refers to the Eucharist, then will I go to hell if I die an inquirer or a catechumen?
 

Porter ODoran

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byhisgrace said:
Jesus said that unless I eat His flesh and drink His blood, I have no life in Him. If that verse refers to the Eucharist, then will I go to hell if I die an inquirer or a catechumen?
If one were to refuse the Body and Blood properly offered, one would be refusing life, sure.
 

biro

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byhisgrace said:
TheTrisagion said:
byhisgrace said:
Porter ODoran said:
byhisgrace said:
TheTrisagion said:
The concept of sacraments (even though I am unable to participate) lend towards a much more physical understanding of Christ.
I thought that all Orthodox Christians can participate in the sacraments.
Not so.
What Orthodox Christians are not allowed to participate in the Eucharist of the Divine Liturgy?
I am a catechumen and have been so for quite some time as my wife is against me joining the Church. When I am chrismated, then I will be able to participate in the sacraments.
Jesus said that unless I eat His flesh and drink His blood, I have no life in Him (John 6:53). If that verse refers to the Eucharist, then will I go to hell if I die an inquirer or a catechumen?
No. Catechumens can receive an Orthodox funeral.
 

MalpanaGiwargis

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byhisgrace said:
TheTrisagion said:
byhisgrace said:
Porter ODoran said:
byhisgrace said:
TheTrisagion said:
The concept of sacraments (even though I am unable to participate) lend towards a much more physical understanding of Christ.
I thought that all Orthodox Christians can participate in the sacraments.
Not so.
What Orthodox Christians are not allowed to participate in the Eucharist of the Divine Liturgy?
I am a catechumen and have been so for quite some time as my wife is against me joining the Church. When I am chrismated, then I will be able to participate in the sacraments.
Jesus said that unless I eat His flesh and drink His blood, I have no life in Him (John 6:53). If that verse refers to the Eucharist, then will I go to hell if I die an inquirer or a catechumen?
In a word, no. You "go to hell" if you choose to do so. You are not punished for things you do not do. The divine Eucharist is certainly vivifying, and a Christian should receive it as often as he is properly disposed, but if you have not been admitted to Communion because you are still inquiring, that is no fault of yours.
 

Mor Ephrem

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biro said:
byhisgrace said:
TheTrisagion said:
byhisgrace said:
Porter ODoran said:
byhisgrace said:
TheTrisagion said:
The concept of sacraments (even though I am unable to participate) lend towards a much more physical understanding of Christ.
I thought that all Orthodox Christians can participate in the sacraments.
Not so.
What Orthodox Christians are not allowed to participate in the Eucharist of the Divine Liturgy?
I am a catechumen and have been so for quite some time as my wife is against me joining the Church. When I am chrismated, then I will be able to participate in the sacraments.
Jesus said that unless I eat His flesh and drink His blood, I have no life in Him (John 6:53). If that verse refers to the Eucharist, then will I go to hell if I die an inquirer or a catechumen?
No. Catechumens can receive an Orthodox funeral.
Receiving an Orthodox funeral really has little to do with whether or not one is going to hell, so I fail to see the relevance of this fact.

As for byhisgrace's question, I think it is enough to say that the "default" Christian life is one in which we are baptised and commune regularly and worthily, praying and fasting regularly, giving alms and serving our neighbours to the extent we are able, avoiding sin and those things which can lead to sin, confessing our faults and failures, etc.  Exceptions are just that: exceptions.  We don't make theology out of exceptions.  

So if a person dies as an inquirer, a catechumen, or even simply outside of the Church, their non-reception of the Eucharist in and of itself doesn't really factor into whether or not they are going to hell.  God will figure that out.  But each person must struggle as best they can.  
 

TheTrisagion

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byhisgrace said:
TheTrisagion said:
byhisgrace said:
Porter ODoran said:
byhisgrace said:
TheTrisagion said:
The concept of sacraments (even though I am unable to participate) lend towards a much more physical understanding of Christ.
I thought that all Orthodox Christians can participate in the sacraments.
Not so.
What Orthodox Christians are not allowed to participate in the Eucharist of the Divine Liturgy?
I am a catechumen and have been so for quite some time as my wife is against me joining the Church. When I am chrismated, then I will be able to participate in the sacraments.
Jesus said that unless I eat His flesh and drink His blood, I have no life in Him (John 6:53). If that verse refers to the Eucharist, then will I go to hell if I die an inquirer or a catechumen?
Scripture is quite clear that we are judged in proportion to what God has given us. If God has led you to the Church, but you die before you are chrismated, that is not something He would hold against you. God loves mankind and desires that we unite ourselves to Him. We go to hell because we choose our passions over Him, not because we didn't get a chance to be anointed with oil.  The Church is a tool.  An invaluable tool to be sure, but joining the Church does not assure you of salvation and not joining the Church does not damn you to hell. It does, however, give you the resources needed to unite yourself to God. You can theoretically build a house without tools, but it is much easier and less perilous to do so when you have saws, hammers, nails, etc.
 

JamesR

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I finally have direction, and not in the claustrophobic, cultic way of Evangelical Protestantism. Prior to conversion, I felt that I had literally no guidance, direction, or aid whatsoever in knowing God, knowing how to worship Him, and how to practice my faith. This is why Evangelicals are so prone to spiritual fads--tele-evangelists, Joyce Meyer, "Daniel fasts" etc--because we lack direction and aim, but we don't know where or how to get it. This is also where the hyper-emotionalism comes from, and why doubt is considered sinful whereas it's really a natural part of spiritual life. About the only ironclad direction and guidance Evangelicals get is in an aggressive, claustrophobic way from their Churches where you HAVE to affirm total biblical literalism (meaning no Evolution or Big Bang) and faith-alone, otherwise you're not a real Christian.
 

Maximum Bob

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Interesting question, Papist. One I hadn't really considered thus far in my journey. So, as I pause to think about it now, I can say that I don't think it's suffered in any way. I mean I have a Patron Saint now and a Guardian Angel and other Saints but Jesus hasn't gone anywhere. IF anything as some have already suggested my understanding of Him is bigger now than it was.

I guess in part I've been lucky to have two very good Priests so far. I say this because one of the questions we asked early on was about the idea that the grandeur of God was evident but where was the daddy aspect of God to be found? Our Priest responded that this part of God is modeled by the Priest and I would say that it definitely was.

Last I think, I've responded well to the structure and guidance provided by the Church. So I feel like my prayer life has improved and of course it not like I can't say an improvised off the cuff prayer but I think even those have come to more closely resemble those of the Church.

So , in conclusion now that I've put some thought into it, no I don't think I've lost anything but it was definitely good to ponder.
 

TheTrisagion

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JamesR said:
I finally have direction, and not in the claustrophobic, cultic way of Evangelical Protestantism. Prior to conversion, I felt that I had literally no guidance, direction, or aid whatsoever in knowing God, knowing how to worship Him, and how to practice my faith. This is why Evangelicals are so prone to spiritual fads--tele-evangelists, Joyce Meyer, "Daniel fasts" etc--because we lack direction and aim, but we don't know where or how to get it. This is also where the hyper-emotionalism comes from, and why doubt is considered sinful whereas it's really a natural part of spiritual life. About the only ironclad direction and guidance Evangelicals get is in an aggressive, claustrophobic way from their Churches where you HAVE to affirm total biblical literalism (meaning no Evolution or Big Bang) and faith-alone, otherwise you're not a real Christian.
Coming from that background, I agree wholeheartedly with this!
 

mabsoota

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Papist said:
For those of you who converted from Evangelical Christianity to Orthodoxy, how has your relationship with God changed? Do you still have a sense of God working closely and personally in your life?
i feel like my personal relationship with God is now so much deeper. before (as a protestant Christian),
i was just at the surface, understanding little of what it is to know God.

everyone i have spoken to who comes from a similar background says the same thing; more than 40 people.

when people have asked me: 'are you still a true Christian?', 'does your church have the Holy Spirit?'
and other similar questions, it is hard to know where to start explaining to them my experience.

so, especially for those people:
no, i have not joined a cult!
yes, the orthodox church has been Christian for 2000 years!
yes, we INVENTED the nicea/constantinople creed that many mainstream protestants believe in too!
there is a special large part of it explaining who the Holy Spirit is!
yes, we relate to God directly and personally - this is what it is all about!
and lastly; no, just because i have joined a different church, it does not mean i am next going to join a different religion.
;)
 
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