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Is Orthodoxy the only true Christianity?

123abc

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Nobody disputes that OT worship was liturgical and sacerdotal, with all the trappings that come with that. My question is, since Christ is our priest, Temple, and sacrifice....are these elements of OT worship supposed to be carried over into the NT? Christ fulfilled all of these types and shadows. This is the entire point of the book of Hebrews.
 

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Nobody disputes that OT worship was liturgical and sacerdotal, with all the trappings that come with that. My question is, since Christ is our priest, Temple, and sacrifice....are these elements of OT worship supposed to be carried over into the NT? Christ fulfilled all of these types and shadows. This is the entire point of the book of Hebrews.
There are probably a great number of Orthodox writings out there that reconcile this. Here is one from an Antiochian Orthodox church site:

 

xariskai

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I see nothing of... incense... Why does a Communion which didn't exist until the 16th century appear to have more in common with the worship of the Apostolic age
I see nothing of... incense... Why does a Communion which didn't exist until the 16th century appear to have more in common with the worship of the Apostolic age
From another perspective the question should rather be why indeed we see nothing of incense among the Reformed(!). This was recently addressed in another thread (some excerpts will be repeated below):

"Malachi 1:11: "'For from the rising of the sun even to its setting, My name will be great among the Gentiles/goyyim [בַּגֹּויִ֔ם "Gentiles"/"nations"; non-Jews/non-Israelites], and in every place incense is going to be offered to My name, and a pure offering of grain; for My name will be great among the Gentiles' says the LORD of hosts."

This is one of many of rather remarkable OT claim -even more explicit in other contexts- that non-Jews in every nation of the globe would one day worship the God of a nation about the size of New Jersey; that it came to pass is almost less remarkable than most of the world seems not to notice. What about incense?

Notice also a pure grain offering is predicted in this prophecy. We understand this as fulfilled in the Eucharist. Someone who doesn't use incense in their worship might object: can we prove incense in Malachi it is not a metaphor for prayer? The question cuts both ways: can we prove it doesn't refer to physical incense? How? If not exegetically, then either usage or non-usage of incense in worship is an extra-biblical tradition. One cannot avoid a tradition here; the question is which tradition? The Jews used physical incense when the Christians worshiped in the Temple and synagogues in the first century. Physical smoke filled the heavenly temple upon which earthly worship is patterned in Orthodoxy (Is 6:1-8). The earliest Christians continued this tradition unbroken.

More on incense in connection with heavenly worship of which OT forms are understood to be types and shadows below...
...are these elements of OT worship supposed to be carried over into the NT? Christ fulfilled all of these types and shadows. This is the entire point of the book of Hebrews.
Yes, the types and shadows and copies of the pattern of heavenly worship by the fuller reality of Christ is the entire point of the book of Hebrews -and Orthodox theology.

In Leviticus all the main offerings boil down body, blood, grain, wine, and incense; it was clearly liturgical.

According to the Book of Hebrews the pattern of worship revealed to Moses was a copy and shadow of heavenly worship:

Heb 8:5 They serve at a sanctuary that is a copy and shadow of what is in heaven. This is why Moses was warned when he was about to build the tabernacle: “See to it that you make everything according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.”

NT worship contains all the same essential offerings -body, blood, grain, wine, and incense (more on this below), but what was shadow becomes light of new reality:

Luke 22:19-20: “And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.’”

Back to incense. Incense is understood in the Bible not just a type or shadow of heavenly worship, but an actual part of heavently worship of which OT worship was revealed as a type and pattern. The house of worship in heaven described in Isaiah 6:1-8 was filled with smoke. This pattern is repeated in Revelation:
Revelation 8:3: "Another angel with a golden censer came and stood at the altar; he was given a great quantity of incense to offer with the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar that is before the throne."
In the Book of Revelation incense does not stand as a mere metaphor for prayer -in the above verse it is offered with prayers. The angels in the Book of Revelation do what our priests do because the Divine Liturgy is the heavenly court brought into time and space.

For further along these lines see: https://journeytoorthodoxy.com/2016/04/roots-jewish-christian-worship-fr-james-bernstein/
"It took me 16 years to discover Jesus and 19 years to discover His Church..." -Fr. James Bernstein
 
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xariskai

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[Edit ...nope, too late] Apologies; my hasty editing and sentence structure is atrocious
 

Bizzlebin

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Your statement threw me for a loop. Are you saying that the Eastern Orthodox church as we currently know it is not the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic church? Who are these others who are part of the church but aren't practising Eastern liturgics?
The Western Rite, for one. The are fully accepted by countless bishops who use EO liturgics, many use the same doctrinal texts that are used in places like Greece or Russia, and we even have a subforum here for them. So while EO liturgics may be used within the Church, they have no exclusive claim to orthodox Christianity.

As for the "EO Church", I'm saying that's a fiction. Sure, there are hundreds of bishops using EO liturgics (and that itself is a bit of a loaded term, but I'm being generous here—there are different typicon families, different interpretations, etc). Yet how many of them are in schism with each other? Any local Church using EO liturgics may or may not be in schism with another, totally apart from any para-local-Church organizations like national "churches", so there is no static group which we can point to if we wanted to. And if we try to wiggle around that and just say "local Churches with EO liturgics", then we're left with Eastern Catholics and others in the mix—it is just mental gymnastics on top of theological gymnastics until everything is so contorted that an infamous "Internet Orthodox" "source" like OrthodoxWiki not only starts to make sense, but starts to become "higher" than the councils and the Fathers, which is a *very* dangerous place to be.
 

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Here is an excerpt from Fr. Seraphim's The Orthodox Survival Course lectures regarding Francis of Assisi:

Yeah, he did say some unfortunate stuff against St Francis as well, which also aged quite poorly: more scholarship over the dates of those stories (showing they were later accretions), more translations of "Eastern" lives of the saints (which display many of the behaviors he was worried about), and hindsight about 20th-century movements show it to be a product of its time in almost as much of a degree as he was trying to transcend his own time—perhaps this is related to why God did not allow him to finish The Kingdom Of Man And The Kingdom Of God, which helped inspire the Orthodox Survival Course. Anyways, I was honing in on the word "delusion". That is, for one reason or another, a word that St Seraphim did not use in his Survival Course division against St Francis—but it is used in the comparison by Pr George.
 

Bizzlebin

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This is either bad ecclesiology and/or an objectively incorrect use of words. It doesn't sound consistent neither with the writings of the Church Fathers here and there, nor with the many different councils that adress this issue.

The only way I can see your statement being orthodox is if you're actually claiming "Eastern Orthodox Church" is a relative term distinct from the substantial expression "One Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church", in which case I can't even understand: 1) why this distinction could or should be made; 2) how your second sentence relates to your first one.
Perhaps you can give us a quote from one of the 8 Ecumenical Councils where it talks not just about the Church being orthodox but about the *Eastern* Orthodox Church?

Not sure how to answer your second paragraph: I don't understand your confusion, and what are you hoping to tease out by parsing the sentence "Yep."?
 

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There you go again.....It almost seems as if you actively try to befuddle people. Maybe, no...I think, definitely, an explanation of that post that is clear and simple for us befuddled and simple folks (well, me and anyone who'd like to join me in befuddlement) is in order. I know you can do it, Bizzlebin!
Well, without going into the canonical distinction between Christian vs Church and all that, ecclesiology is usually discussed at the level of local Church. Put very simply, the local Church *is* (potentially) the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. It does not matter it's relationship to another local Church, or group of local Churches, or historical pedigree. By virtue of God's grace, an orthodox local Church *is* the Church. Whether it is large or small, old or new, or in some kind of remediable "quarrel" with other groups—it remains *fully* the Church, but not *exclusively* the Church.
 

RaphaCam

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Perhaps you can give us a quote from one of the 8 Ecumenical Councils where it talks not just about the Church being orthodox but about the *Eastern* Orthodox Church?
I understand the "eastern" part is inappropriate, but then "Eastern Orthodox Church" should be classified as a misnomer for the "Holy Catholic Apostolic Church" rather than a fiction plus weird metaphysics.

You mentioned "instantiations", an English word that usually translates hypóstasis, but sometimes translates méthexis. If you mean each particular church is a hypóstasis, it implies there's no supernatural Holy Catholic Apostolic Church, only a set of local churches. If you mean each particular church is a méthexis, it sounds orthodox, but then it doesn't make sense to claim the EOC is a fiction and oppose it to the set of local churches.

Not sure how to answer your second paragraph: I don't understand your confusion, and what are you hoping to tease out by parsing the sentence "Yep."?
Sorry, I meant first and second parts. It's clearer now from that comment, however:

As for the "EO Church", I'm saying that's a fiction. Sure, there are hundreds of bishops using EO liturgics (and that itself is a bit of a loaded term, but I'm being generous here—there are different typicon families, different interpretations, etc). Yet how many of them are in schism with each other? Any local Church using EO liturgics may or may not be in schism with another, totally apart from any para-local-Church organizations like national "churches", so there is no static group which we can point to if we wanted to. And if we try to wiggle around that and just say "local Churches with EO liturgics", then we're left with Eastern Catholics and others in the mix—it is just mental gymnastics on top of theological gymnastics until everything is so contorted that an infamous "Internet Orthodox" "source" like OrthodoxWiki not only starts to make sense, but starts to become "higher" than the councils and the Fathers, which is a *very* dangerous place to be.
Soup isn't a fiction because of cornflakes with milk.

Well, without going into the canonical distinction between Christian vs Church and all that, ecclesiology is usually discussed at the level of local Church. Put very simply, the local Church *is* (potentially) the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. It does not matter it's relationship to another local Church, or group of local Churches, or historical pedigree. By virtue of God's grace, an orthodox local Church *is* the Church. Whether it is large or small, old or new, or in some kind of remediable "quarrel" with other groups—it remains *fully* the Church, but not *exclusively* the Church.
I think you're mixing up canon law and the mystery of the Church, and then arriving at formulae that imply perspectivism and a conservative version of branch theory. If it lacks a relationship to other local churches, it's probably not because of a poor internet connection.
 

xariskai

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Bizzlebin said:
ecclesiology is usually discussed at the level of local Church. Put very simply, the local Church *is* (potentially) the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. It does not matter it's relationship to another local Church, or group of local Churches, or historical pedigree
The NT does not restrict usage of ekklesia solely of local assemblies; neither should we.

Orthodox Ecclesiology in Outline by Fr. George Dragas

"Western Christians often speak of the Orthodox Churches, rather than the Orthodox Church. From the Orthodox perspective, the Church is one, even though She is manifested in many places. Orthodox ecclesiology operates with a plurality in unity and a unity in plurality. For Orthodoxy there is no ‘either / or’ between the one and the many. No attempt is made, or should be made, to subordinate the many to the one (the Roman Catholic model), nor the one to the many (the Protestant model). It is both canonically and theologically correct to speak of the Church and the churches, and vice versa. This is impossible for Roman Catholic ecclesiology because of the double papal claim for universal jurisdiction and infallibility. The same must be said of the Protestant ecclesiologies, which connect the notion of the Church with denominationalism, and which make a distinction between the one and the many in terms of the invisible and the visible Church. From an Orthodox perspective, the Church is both catholic and local, invisible and visible, one and many. To explain what lies behind this Orthodox ecclesiological unity in multiplicity, one has to deal with the Orthodox understanding of the nature of the Church... " http://orthodoxinfo.com/general/dragas.aspx
 

TheTrisagion

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Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi.

My point being, should one expect the "True Church" to look at least somewhat like what we find in Acts or the Epistles? A Reformed service consists in psalm singing, prayer, scripture reading, confession of sin, and a sermon. I know that all of these elements are present in the Divine Liturgy, but the manner in which these are constructed is quite different between the two. I see nothing of icons, vestments, incense or a sacerdotal priesthood in the pages of the NT. Why does a Communion which didn't exist until the 16th century appear to have more in common with the worship of the Apostolic age if the Orthodox (or Catholic) church is the Apostolic Church?

Now it's true that soon after the Apostolic Age the Liturgy seems to quickly take form and is definitely centered on the Eucharist. Most knowledgeable Protestants admit as much. But is this a legitimate development? What standard do we have to say when Liturgical Development has reached its zenith and is no longer permitted to develop? Is the New Testament account of worship descriptive or prescriptive? Both?
I'm not sure we can read Acts and get a great sense of what the Church is supposed to look like ad infinitum. For one, the Apostles were there. We don't have that luxury now. Second, after 2,000 years, there are many more adherents, more money given, and more tradition that has been solidified.

Liturgy has been a part of Christianity since the beginning. The earliest Christian liturgies were essentially a copy of the ancient Jewish liturgy. Christians didn't necessarily see themselves distinct from Judaism in the first century. The difference was their belief that the Messiah had come. They worshipped at the Temple and at Jewish synagogues. The Eucharist was a central part of Apostolic worship. The structure of the Church was laid down by Apostles. It would be odd indeed to say that Christianity branched off of Judaism (which did have vestments, incense, sacerdotalism, and liturgy), rejected all of that, yet after centuries of hostility between Christians and Jews, the Christians suddenly picked all that back up again and utilized liturgy patterned off of Jewish worship despite that hostility. There is no historical evidence to support that perspective, but there is mounds of evidence that suggests that Christianity took its style of worship from Judaism with modest evolution of worship as time went on. Even if we were to look at it from an anthropological standpoint ignoring our personal belief systems, the second theory holds far more water. It would be a bold claim to say that the Apostles screwed things up and the Church has done it wrong all these years.
 

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Yep. The idea that there even is a big-"""O""" Eastern Orthodox Church is a fiction. Sometimes, that fiction is useful, but usually it is not. There are local Churches which are instantiations of the One, Holy, Catholic, And Apostolic Church. Whether a specific local Church (using "EO" liturgics or not) is partaking of the Church is another question entirely.
What Orthodox church jurisdictions are you allowed to commune in?
 

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Perhaps you can give us a quote from one of the 8 Ecumenical Councils where it talks not just about the Church being orthodox but about the *Eastern* Orthodox Church?

Not sure how to answer your second paragraph: I don't understand your confusion, and what are you hoping to tease out by parsing the sentence "Yep."?
I think you are confusing language with essence. There of course is no reference to the "Eastern" Orthodox Church. The Church today does not reference itself as the Eastern Orthodox Church. No jurisdiction says, "we are the Eastern Orthodox Patriarchate of Moscow or Greece, or Antioch, etc" Eastern Orthodox is a shorthand descriptor by both religious and secular sources so they don't have to say "One Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church comprising of a communion of four ancient patriarchates, five junior patriarchates, four autocephalous archbishoprics, two autocephalous metropolises, and two other metropolises that are in communion but have a status that is disputed by its sister churches".

You talk about schism, but there are different kinds of schism. The schism between autocephalous churches is different than the schism that the EO has with Rome or even the schism with the "True/Genuine Orthodox". Between autocephalous churches, it is viewed as a temporary situation until matters can be ironed out and resolved. With respect to Rome or the True/Genuine movements, they are viewed as actually having severed themselves from the Body of Christ. A schism isn't necessarily an all or nothing thing. Churches often take steps to limit interaction with another jurisdiction over disputes. That doesn't make the Church a fiction. It just means that things can get messy.
 

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@Bizzlebin You don't need to answer my previous question because TheTrisagion just posted the response that I was after.
 

noahzarc1

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If it were a matter of supreme doctrinal authority and infallibility, shouldn't there be expressions like "teach and define," not just "decree and command"?
Well, that is the point I suppose. It is exactly this kind of language that has allowed advocates on both sides of the issues within Rome, who love to debate the infallibility dogma, to draw up their battle lines over this minutia. "Well, he didn't say 'teach and define' he only said decree and command," etc, etc, then they'd debate what it means to decree and what it means to command and how this does not have any claims to infallibility because he did not say it was taught and defined, on and on. Thay can keep their debates over infallibility.
 

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I think you are confusing language with essence. There of course is no reference to the "Eastern" Orthodox Church. The Church today does not reference itself as the Eastern Orthodox Church. No jurisdiction says, "we are the Eastern Orthodox Patriarchate of Moscow or Greece, or Antioch, etc" Eastern Orthodox is a shorthand descriptor by both religious and secular sources so they don't have to say "One Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church comprising of a communion of four ancient patriarchates, five junior patriarchates, four autocephalous archbishoprics, two autocephalous metropolises, and two other metropolises that are in communion but have a status that is disputed by its sister churches".

You talk about schism, but there are different kinds of schism. The schism between autocephalous churches is different than the schism that the EO has with Rome or even the schism with the "True/Genuine Orthodox". Between autocephalous churches, it is viewed as a temporary situation until matters can be ironed out and resolved. With respect to Rome or the True/Genuine movements, they are viewed as actually having severed themselves from the Body of Christ. A schism isn't necessarily an all or nothing thing. Churches often take steps to limit interaction with another jurisdiction over disputes. That doesn't make the Church a fiction. It just means that things can get messy.
"Eastern Orthodox" isn't even universal, most languages just use "Orthodox Church", resorting to expressions like "Chalcedonian Orthodox Church" or "Canonical Orthodox Church" if there's any need to disambiguate.
 

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We know Him and commune with Him through The Holy Spirit which enlightens us in our spirit.



Romans 8:16
New King James Version

16 The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,
So we must feel we are children of God. I can support this because being Orthodox feels you are in the right church.
 

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So we must feel we are children of God. I can support this because being Orthodox feels you are in the right church.
We can’t trust our feelings. By faith and obedience we work out our our salvation in fear and trembling. God has provided the Church for us to worship Him and to grow in grace. We need each other and our prayers for each other.
 

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So we must feel we are children of God. I can support this because being Orthodox feels you are in the right church.
Maybe I'm misunderstanding you, but if it were about feeling we are in the "right church", most people who identify as "Christian", regardless of their church affiliation would be "in the right church".
 

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Stinky, why did you say that? The man has been a priest for several years. Hasn't posted for a while, but I don't know why.
I was being honest that I don’t have a good vibe from that man. All my red flag alarms are screaming off the charts. I have not heard or read anything about him. That’s why I said it’s “just me.”
I will stay away from him and his path. Y’all do your thing. I do not judge him or those who sit in his shadow.
 

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"I myself would say that the true sacraments, in the sense that Christ founded them, are to be found only in the Orthodox Church; and those [people outside the Church] who, taking the name of sacrament, try to make the best they can out of it--that's a matter between the soul and God, and whatever God may want to do with that soul--that's His affair. But the means He instituted in the Church have come down to this very day in the Orthodox Church." (Fr. Seraphim Rose, God's Revelation to the Human Heart, p. 45)
 

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"I myself would say that the true sacraments, in the sense that Christ founded them, are to be found only in the Orthodox Church; and those [people outside the Church] who, taking the name of sacrament, try to make the best they can out of it--that's a matter between the soul and God, and whatever God may want to do with that soul--that's His affair. But the means He instituted in the Church have come down to this very day in the Orthodox Church." (Fr. Seraphim Rose, God's Revelation to the Human Heart, p. 45)
Anyone should read this book, specially if they have gotten the wrong impression about either St. Seraphim of Platina or Orthodoxy as a whole after reading some of his darker literature.
 

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I understand the "eastern" part is inappropriate, but then "Eastern Orthodox Church" should be classified as a misnomer for the "Holy Catholic Apostolic Church" rather than a fiction plus weird metaphysics.
I think the weird metaphysics comes in when we try to apply everything from modern geopolitics to corporatism onto what is itself a mystery—and that leads to denominationalism.

You mentioned "instantiations", an English word that usually translates hypóstasis, but sometimes translates méthexis. If you mean each particular church is a hypóstasis, it implies there's no supernatural Holy Catholic Apostolic Church, only a set of local churches. If you mean each particular church is a méthexis, it sounds orthodox, but then it doesn't make sense to claim the EOC is a fiction and oppose it to the set of local churches.
No opposition here: as I noted, each local orthodox Church remains *fully* the Church, but not *exclusively* the Church. That is part of how catholicity works: the local and the universal coinhere in a way, and simultaneously exist. For example, if some global catastrophe were to happen such that all but 1 diocese was wiped out, that local Church would be just as much Church as before and the Church (as a whole) would be just as much the Church as before.

Sorry, I meant first and second parts. It's clearer now from that comment, however:

Soup isn't a fiction because of cornflakes with milk.
Soup as a category may very well be an ill-defined ideal. At very least, it is a fuzzy set. And that works here, too: boolean logic has its place (specifically when using canon law and applying definitions of heresy), but the Fathers seem to embrace a much fuller, fuzzier logic when it comes to kataphatic definitions of the Church, so yet again a static listing is untraditional—unless perhaps you can cite a pre-Reformation listing of "official" groups?

I think you're mixing up canon law and the mystery of the Church, and then arriving at formulae that imply perspectivism and a conservative version of branch theory. If it lacks a relationship to other local churches, it's probably not because of a poor internet connection.
Not sure what you mean. Branch theory supposes that each group has some validity due to objective claims. I'm writing that catholicity is relative to Jesus Christ. Also not sure how perspectivism fits into this, when the primary perspective is from Jesus Christ—are you implying there is some perspectiveless "truth" that even God has to acknowledge? And as for poor relationships, St Basil doesn't seem thrilled by them or anything, but makes it plain that such things do not, in and of themselves, constitute a group leaving the Church.
 

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I think you are confusing language with essence. There of course is no reference to the "Eastern" Orthodox Church. The Church today does not reference itself as the Eastern Orthodox Church. No jurisdiction says, "we are the Eastern Orthodox Patriarchate of Moscow or Greece, or Antioch, etc" Eastern Orthodox is a shorthand descriptor by both religious and secular sources so they don't have to say "One Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church comprising of a communion of four ancient patriarchates, five junior patriarchates, four autocephalous archbishoprics, two autocephalous metropolises, and two other metropolises that are in communion but have a status that is disputed by its sister churches".
I'm glad we're being honest about sources and so we can agree to the name "orthodox"—while dropping "Eastern"; I think we're getting closer to the same page. But the name "orthodox" cannot be used as a denominational, sectarian, or similar marker, else it becomes a *denial* of the Church. To claim to be part of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church is to reject denominationalism. That doesn't mean to reject *other* denominations in favor of one's own—that is just another sneaky form of denominationalism that actually paves the way for ecumenism (inasmuch as ecumenism, as defined in 1983, is an actual thing and not an imaginary boogeyman or a sad dogwhistle). Rather than capitulating orthodoxy entirely, this entire modernistic edifice must be rejected, along with all the new trappings of a denomination—including those conveniently "simple" lists—which are foundational to ecumenism.

You talk about schism, but there are different kinds of schism. The schism between autocephalous churches is different than the schism that the EO has with Rome or even the schism with the "True/Genuine Orthodox". Between autocephalous churches, it is viewed as a temporary situation until matters can be ironed out and resolved. With respect to Rome or the True/Genuine movements, they are viewed as actually having severed themselves from the Body of Christ. A schism isn't necessarily an all or nothing thing. Churches often take steps to limit interaction with another jurisdiction over disputes. That doesn't make the Church a fiction. It just means that things can get messy.
As to this second part, I'm going to have to ask for sources again. Where is this difference in schisms taught anywhere before the Reformation? There were plenty of schisms of all sorts before then, so where is the conciliar, canonical, or other material to support a difference in treatment?
 

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"Eastern Orthodox" isn't even universal, most languages just use "Orthodox Church", resorting to expressions like "Chalcedonian Orthodox Church" or "Canonical Orthodox Church" if there's any need to disambiguate.
Those are a little more specific (though OO would call themselves canonical, and RC Chalcedonian), but still cannot be seen as static categories. Bishops/local Churches/etc can fall within or without of those descriptors at any time. Creating static lists reeks of ethnophyletism, sectarianism, and a host of other issues and sounds very much to me like a denial of the orthodox Church.
 

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As to this second part, I'm going to have to ask for sources again. Where is this difference in schisms taught anywhere before the Reformation? There were plenty of schisms of all sorts before then, so where is the conciliar, canonical, or other material to support a difference in treatment?
I'm not sure why the Reformation should be a dividing line since that has absolutely nothing to do with Orthodoxy. The matter is further complicated by most of the schisms that took place in the early Church were also the result in heresy. I will use two points to demonstrate my perspective though. In regards to how those involved in schism were treated differently, I would probably point to how the Donatists were treated:

The Carthagenian Council, 79th canon:
"To send letters to our brethren and fellow bishops, and especially to the apostolic throne in which our revered brother and fellow-minister Anastasius presides, to the effect that by reason of the great need in Africa, which is known to him, for the sake of peace and for the good of the Church, even Donatist clergy should be received in their sacerdotal orders if they correct their disposition and desire to come to universal unity, in accord with the judgment and will of each bishop ruling the Church in that place, if this will prove beneficial to the peace of Christians. It is well known that in former times also this schism was so treated witness to which fact may be found in instances from many Churches and from almost all the African Churches in which this error arose."
All the Donatists had to do was to correct their disposition and desire to come to universal unity. That's it. They kept their holy orders, they merely needed to desire universal unity. In contrast, other groups were required to give a profession of faith or even be baptized.

The second is an excerpt from the Life of St. Maximos the Confessor:
From The Life of Our Holy Father St. Maximus the Confessor (Boston: Holy Transfiguration, 1982), pp. 60-62:

[More from his discussion with the Monothelites]
"To which church do you belong? To that of Byzantium, of Rome, Antioch, Alexandria, or Jerusalem? For all these churches, together with the provinces in subjection to them, are in unity. Therefore, if you also belong to the Catholic Church, enter into communion with us at once, lest fashioning for yourself some new and strange pathway, you fall into that which you do not even expect!"

To this the righteous man wisely replied, "Christ the Lord called that Church the Catholic Church which maintains the true and saving confession of the Faith. It was for this confession that He called Peter blessed, and He declared that He would found His Church upon this confession.

However, I wish to know the contents of your confession, on the basis of which all churches, as you say, have entered into communion. If it is not opposed to the truth, then neither will I be separated from it."

[After hearing their confession of Faith, and after further discussion, he was asked]

"But what will you do," inquired the envoys, "when the Romans are united to the Byzantines? Yesterday, indeed, two delegates arrived from Rome and tomorrow, the Lord's day, they will communicate the Holy Mysteries with the Patriarch. "

The Saint replied, "Even if the whole universe holds communion with the Patriarch, I will not communicate with him. For I know from the writings of the holy Apostle Paul: the Holy Spirit declares that even the angels would be anathema if they should begin to preach another Gospel, introducing some new teaching."
St. Maximos' requirement to commune with them was he wanted to know what they believed and if they upheld the True Faith. He was not interested in knowing who their bishop was in communion with or which church they belonged to. It was solely based on their confession.
 

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Those are a little more specific (though OO would call themselves canonical, and RC Chalcedonian), but still cannot be seen as static categories. Bishops/local Churches/etc can fall within or without of those descriptors at any time. Creating static lists reeks of ethnophyletism, sectarianism, and a host of other issues and sounds very much to me like a denial of the orthodox Church.
I think you're focusing way too much on the precision of names, which can be misleading when taken to ultimate consequences... I can speak some Bizzlebinese, though, since it has a degree of mutual intelligibility with RaphaCamese, so let's put it in more analytic terms.

Saussure defines languages as systems of signs, which in turn are arbitrary mental entities constituting a unity between a linear signifier sound-image (let's define them as a sequence of sounds for simplicity's sake) and a signified concept. Some signifiers are composed of more than one word, something that AFAIK Saussure didn't adress very deeply, but nowadays we call them "idioms" (or "non-compositional phrasemes") when they signify classes (including when they refer to instantiations of these classes, since there's a distinction between sense and reference) and simply classify them as "proper names" that are also "noun phrases" when they signify entities (let's call those "proper noun phrases"). Idioms are distinct from "compositional phrasemes", chains of words that do have new value, since convention charges them with a particular place in the structure of language, but there's no new sign, given they signify exactly what the very relations between its own signs do (which is just an analytical way to say they have a literal meaning).

"Eastern Orthodox Church" is obviously a proper noun phrase in the English language, so it's one signifier, even though "eastern", "orthodox" and "church" can also stand for themselves as signifiers in other signs. Some people don't like the "eastern" part, including for obvious reason the Western-rite Orthodox, but they'll still call themselves Eastern Orthodox if they're visited by census workers, or if they're identifying themselves to an Oriental Orthodox Christian and don't want to turn it into a conversation about the Western rite. "One Holy Catholic Apostolic Church", however, can be used both as a proper noun phrase and a compositional phraseme, depending entirely on context. Even if it's capitalised, since religious texts like to capitalise stuff almost at random.

That being said, "Eastern Orthodox Church" and "One Holy Catholic Apostolic Church" (capitalised) are signifiers of different signs, and so are "Igreja Ortodoxa Calcedoniana" in Portuguese and "Église Orthodoxe Chalcédonienne" in French. However, they all have the same signified. Attempts to circumvent these conventions merely because of precision may be seen with suspicion because everyone is unconsciously used to the idea of language being arbitrary, and thinking too hard about it will simply take you away from the realm of language and throw you into that of ontology and ultimately metaphysics, which can make one one step away from heresy. This doesn't mean names should never be corrected, it just means there must be a good reason. When Christ calls St. Peter a man of little faith, most Portuguese-language bibles are okay with translating oligópiste as homem de pouca fé, but this can sound exactly like homem de pôr café (a man who puts coffee), so some versions change stuff like that.

This is different from an expression having "bad parts", like "Eastern Orthodox Church", but them being so different helps demonstrate the idea that there must be a reason beyond the signifier being arbitrary. After all, even church is arbitrary. It arbitrarily came from Greek kyriakón (a word that usually means "Sunday") rather than ekklēsía, through arbitrary sound changes. These words are composed, coming down from a series of arbitrary sound changes, ultimately from the extremely distinct unwritten language of the "Proto-Indo-Europeans", in which their roots were actually sets of three consonants (respectively ḱ-w-h₁ and k-l-h₁) that were aggregated by vowels inbetween and prefixes and suffixes around, in a very arbitrary and unstable manner that computers are still trying to make sense of.

Sorry if I've said too much, I've been going back to linguistics to study for public exams and I guess I may have used this thread as a review. The bottom line is one can't say leaving the Orthodox Church isn't apostasy because sometimes the services are over and you just want to go home. That's not how natural language works, although formal languages do work like that, so maybe some of your IT background is speaking for you.

If you have never watched The Name of the Rose, I strongly suggest it, although the book's discussions about the nature of language and its implications for theology are heavily watered down in the film. On a more technical note, I strongly suggest Course in general linguistics. It's an unpretentious compilation of notes taken by Saussure's students, but it revolutionised not only language, but also philosophy and media, and ultimately culture and politics. We live in Saussure world.
 

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Now that we've clarified language...

I think the weird metaphysics comes in when we try to apply everything from modern geopolitics to corporatism onto what is itself a mystery—and that leads to denominationalism.
This is indeed a danger, but it still doesn't justify the distinctions you made, or the use of the expressions "fiction" and "instantiation".

No opposition here: as I noted, each local orthodox Church remains *fully* the Church, but not *exclusively* the Church. That is part of how catholicity works: the local and the universal coinhere in a way, and simultaneously exist. For example, if some global catastrophe were to happen such that all but 1 diocese was wiped out, that local Church would be just as much Church as before and the Church (as a whole) would be just as much the Church as before.
So it's méthexis. It would be better to say the local churches are particulars that participate in the One Holy Catholic Apostolic Church. The thing is, when you made a distinction between this and the Eastern Orthodox Church, it sounded like you had more to say.

Soup as a category may very well be an ill-defined ideal. At very least, it is a fuzzy set. And that works here, too: boolean logic has its place (specifically when using canon law and applying definitions of heresy), but the Fathers seem to embrace a much fuller, fuzzier logic when it comes to kataphatic definitions of the Church, so yet again a static listing is untraditional—unless perhaps you can cite a pre-Reformation listing of "official" groups?
Soup is a mental construct, the Church is not. Christ referred to a concrete entity that's mysterious. The difficulty of the question "is this the Church?" doesn't make the Church any less concrete than the measurement problem makes subatomic particles less real.

Not sure what you mean. Branch theory supposes that each group has some validity due to objective claims. I'm writing that catholicity is relative to Jesus Christ. Also not sure how perspectivism fits into this, when the primary perspective is from Jesus Christ—are you implying there is some perspectiveless "truth" that even God has to acknowledge? And as for poor relationships, St Basil doesn't seem thrilled by them or anything, but makes it plain that such things do not, in and of themselves, constitute a group leaving the Church.
I think the rest of what you wrote made the relevant part of my original point moot.
 

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Only on this forum would the answer to the original OP question continue for four pages and counting.
Hey, ozgeorge's "True Church" game thread got up to sixteen pages. There's still work to be done! 😇

 

J Michael

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Hey, ozgeorge's "True Church" game thread got up to sixteen pages. There's still work to be done! 😇

And there was no winner, and no $50 Amazon voucher awarded :(.
 

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I'm not sure why the Reformation should be a dividing line since that has absolutely nothing to do with Orthodoxy. The matter is further complicated by most of the schisms that took place in the early Church were also the result in heresy. I will use two points to demonstrate my perspective though. In regards to how those involved in schism were treated differently, I would probably point to how the Donatists were treated:
The Reformation is such a dividing line not only because the events that preceded it affected the East, but because the Reformation itself (and also the powerful Counter-Reformation) had a massive effect on Churches in the East, including in theology (St Cyril Lukaris, St Peter Mogila, etc).

The Carthagenian Council, 79th canon:


All the Donatists had to do was to correct their disposition and desire to come to universal unity. That's it. They kept their holy orders, they merely needed to desire universal unity. In contrast, other groups were required to give a profession of faith or even be baptized.
The Donatist situation involved heresy, but it does not constitute a special case outside of the schism/parasynagogue/heresy trichotomy, nor confer a distinction between clergy and laity. The canon is somewhat vague about the details, but the process for returning them to orthodox Christianity would still involve renunciation, likely the use of Chrism, etc (note phrases such as "willing to come over to the catholic Church on such terms"). They were not rebaptized because they retained the proper form of baptism, including triple immersion. And that their clergy were frequently brought over to orthodoxy as-is is not a difference in the manner of separation, but a further testament to how modernistic Anglodox ideas like "apostolic succession" are false (we had a thread on that recently). If anything, this canon is another conciliar critique (though not a wholesale rejection) of the Cyprianic ecclesiology and a matter of economia in the real, traditional, and orthodox sense: a recognition that orthodox Christianity exists outside various "official" boundaries and the creation of a *consistent* rule to handle it and *prevent* exceptions.

The second is an excerpt from the Life of St. Maximos the Confessor:
From The Life of Our Holy Father St. Maximus the Confessor (Boston: Holy Transfiguration, 1982), pp. 60-62:



St. Maximos' requirement to commune with them was he wanted to know what they believed and if they upheld the True Faith. He was not interested in knowing who their bishop was in communion with or which church they belonged to. It was solely based on their confession.
The situation described by St Maximos also does not seem to be a different case. It's actually quite telling that he does *not* view orthodox Christianity as a denomination, but as something partaken of by local Churches (represented by the classical Pentarchy). And he does not have a vague notion of being "in communion", but is very literally talking about partaking of the Eucharist. This gets back to my point (which you are now making?) that orthodoxy is based on confession, not historical pedigree. There are no "special" bishops, local Churches, or anything else which "must" be orthodox, only the ever-changing dynamism of those who confess Jesus Christ in accordance with the Creed and councils and a local Church community.
 

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Now that we've clarified language...
Not to respond too shortly to the post about language, but I'm not trying to be so technical as to deny us the ability to meaningfully use language (however arbitrary it may be historically) to talk about realities. I'm rather pointing out that the language is deceptive (which is indicative of it being nontraditional, because Jesus Christ Is Truth—and now we're on the same page that the "Eastern" distinction isn't very traditional) and, much more importantly, that the thing/idea/whatever signified by the language (as is it being used by certain people) *does not exist*. That is, the Church is not a denomination, it cannot be defined in a solely kataphatic way as a union of other kataphatically-IDable entities (eg, national "churches"), and that trying to link the name "EO" to Church is at best describing a liturgical family, not circumscribing (or even really meaningfully describing) the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. I watched The Name Of The Rose just over a month ago (great movie, BTW!) but have little knowledge of Saussure's approach to semiotics (at least not by name); I'll plan to read some really quick stuff about him soon.

This is indeed a danger, but it still doesn't justify the distinctions you made, or the use of the expressions "fiction" and "instantiation".
Now to the other stuff, I think there is still a great deal of latitude when it comes to describing what the Church is. Yet there are some clear lines we cannot cross, such as turning the Church into a mere denomination (even if the claimant then turns around and tries to make it the "most bestest" denomination, the denomination that retains "grace", etc, they've still blasphemed the Church). I can see how (and definitely agree with, obviously!) local Churches with EO liturgics can be orthodox and part of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, but don't see how a strict 1-to-1 ID between EO (defined as a collection of national "churches" or similar trickery) and "the Church" is anything short of heterodox ecclesiology.

So it's méthexis. It would be better to say the local churches are particulars that participate in the One Holy Catholic Apostolic Church. The thing is, when you made a distinction between this and the Eastern Orthodox Church, it sounded like you had more to say.
I'm not familiar enough with the nuances of hypostasis and methexis in the context of ecclesiology to say too much more. I should note that local Churches being hypostatic in some manner does not negate "the Church" any more than 3 Divine Hypostases negate 1 Divine Nature. I'm *not* making the certain claim that local Churches can be defined hypostatically (I don't want to convoke an Ecumenical Council here!), only noting that such a claim would not create the problem I think you may have implied above.

Soup is a mental construct, the Church is not. Christ referred to a concrete entity that's mysterious. The difficulty of the question "is this the Church?" doesn't make the Church any less concrete than the measurement problem makes subatomic particles less real.
I believe it is a concrete entity in the sense that God knows it and it has a clear visible, physical, and created component, but that does not mean it has a non-fuzzy (to us) definition, nor one that can be fully entered into outside the context of theosis.

I think the rest of what you wrote made the relevant part of my original point moot.
Good. I'm back from my 3 week vacation, so perhaps being next to my theological library will help me utilize more quotes (as needed) vs write extemporaneously. Yet hopefully that extemporaneous writing did show both that I understand orthodox ecclesiology (eg, I'm not just playing the "bullet-point Orthodoxy" game) and that I'm speaking from well within Holy Tradition.
 

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Now I agree with you, but just to clarify some points...

but don't see how a strict 1-to-1 ID between EO (defined as a collection of national "churches" or similar trickery) and "the Church" is anything short of heterodox ecclesiology
It would be precise to say that "Eastern Orthodox Church" signifies an institution which professes to be the Church of Christ. However, although signs make sense on their own, they don't exist on their own, but rather relating to each other to structure how language is used. This net of relationships is called value. As a matter of value, "the Church of Christ" is distinct from "the Eastern Orthodox Church", since the difficulty in defining whether some atypicals are part of the Church or not conveys different context to both names.

For analogy's sake, I think you're pretty much saying defining blaze as fire is bad physics.

Anyway, now we're just talking about language.

I'm not familiar enough with the nuances of hypostasis and methexis in the context of ecclesiology to say too much more. I should note that local Churches being hypostatic in some manner does not negate "the Church" any more than 3 Divine Hypostases negate 1 Divine Nature. I'm *not* making the certain claim that local Churches can be defined hypostatically (I don't want to convoke an Ecumenical Council here!), only noting that such a claim would not create the problem I think you may have implied above.
Well... Translating philosophy involves some absurd ambiguities that allow for seemingly arbitrary convention, and one of them is that, in the theological sense, hypóstasis cannot be translated as "instantiation". However, we should not worry about it, so point taken.

I believe it is a concrete entity in the sense that God knows it and it has a clear visible, physical, and created component, but that does not mean it has a non-fuzzy (to us) definition, nor one that can be fully entered into outside the context of theosis.
Yeah, theosis must be all brought into perspective.
 

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modernistic Anglodox ideas like "apostolic succession" are false (we had a thread on that recently).
Your own frequently revisited agendas, e.g. self-described transexual advocacy, defense LGBTQ+, socio-political rants etc. strike me as more "Anglodox" and/or modern than Apostolic Succession.

https://orthodoxwiki.org/Apostolic_succession

Your endless litany of alleged (but not really) "modern inventions" and/or things "Anglodox" etc. tend to pan out to phony and/or shallow researched info with alarming frequency:

http://forums.orthodoxchristianity....ists-be-regularized.80078/page-3#post-1641102

Spoofadox?

One tip on reliable academic footnoting or documentation: "we had a thread" is about as confirming in a verificationalist sense as a glass of spit.
 
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Bizzlebin

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As a matter of value, "the Church of Christ" is distinct from "the Eastern Orthodox Church", since the difficulty in defining whether some atypicals are part of the Church or not conveys different context to both names.
I think I mostly agreed with your post, but wanted to comment on this statement. I'd still challenge the idea of an "ideal" EO church institution, if we mean by it a specific grouping based on being "in communion" (which still hasn't been defined). Patriarchs disagree over who is recognized, so even from within, there is not a neutral "objective" EO church (in the most modern sense where EO means a denomination, as heterodox as that is) but rather there might be an "EO church according to Constantinople", "EO church according to Moscow", etc.
 

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I think I mostly agreed with your post, but wanted to comment on this statement. I'd still challenge the idea of an "ideal" EO church institution, if we mean by it a specific grouping based on being "in communion" (which still hasn't been defined). Patriarchs disagree over who is recognized, so even from within, there is not a neutral "objective" EO church (in the most modern sense where EO means a denomination, as heterodox as that is) but rather there might be an "EO church according to Constantinople", "EO church according to Moscow", etc.
They're all in consensus that the institution "EOC" has the same meaning as the Church of Christ, though, so people may only disagree on what they're categorising as "instance of the EOC" because they have different ideas of what both mean. So they still have the same meaning, the same signification. They're the same as much as "the USA", "America" and "these United States".
 
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