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Lutheran to Orthodox

casisthename

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Good evening,

I'm new to Orthodoxy and have a few questions on the faith. First, and this may sound silly could someone summarize the rules to fasting especially during Great Lent? I've read various things on the net and I've come to the conclusion that I've simply become more confused.

Second, what is the Orthodox interpretation of Old Testament law in the New Testament church?

Third, and maybe this is silly...Catholic Saint does not equal Orthodox Saint after 1054 correct?

Finally, anyone know any books which give an overall general synopsis to Orthodox Christianity?
 

ialmisry

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casisthename said:
Good evening,

I'm new to Orthodoxy and have a few questions on the faith. First, and this may sound silly could someone summarize the rules to fasting especially during Great Lent? I've read various things on the net and I've come to the conclusion that I've simply become more confused.
http://orthodoxwiki.org/Fasting

Basically, if it comes from something that bleeds, you don't eat it during the fast.

Second, what is the Orthodox interpretation of Old Testament law in the New Testament church?
The whole OT is the archtype of the NT, so the OT is not understandale without the NT.

Or do you mean, for instance, the Kosher laws?  What is fulfilled passes away.

Third, and maybe this is silly...Catholic Saint does not equal Orthodox Saint after 1054 correct?
Basically.

Finally, anyone know any books which give an overall general synopsis to Orthodox Christianity?
What kind of synopsis are you looking for?  Something like this?
http://books.google.com/books?id=WpE8MwHLffEC&printsec=frontcover&dq=the+orthodox+way&hl=en&src=bmrr&ei=IQNWTbiAOMHLgQf86Jn9DA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CCcQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q&f=false
 

casisthename

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Thank-you for the help.

About the above question, does this mean all fish are also out?

Also, I grew up a "heritage" Lutheran. Any advice on how to discuss leaving the Lutheran church with my parents? They are my parents and therefore I ought to respect and obey them but my folks are not comfortable with this. Part of it , is most likely things stemming from Romeaphobia which they assume the Orthodox Church also holds. Especially, those beliefs/practices which the Lutheran church has misrepresented/misunderstood of the Orthodox Church.  Which , granted my parents were worried about me becoming Baptist/ non-denom as I attend a very protestant university. I don't think they would of even considered the possibility of me becoming Orthodox. So this is a bit of a shock to them. Obviously, it's not fair for me to say I'm Orthodox yet since I'm not. But they are very worried about me so much as attending an Orthodox church.
 

David Garner

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We converted from the Lutheran tradition as well.  Two books I can recommend are Father Anthony Coniaris' "Introducing the Orthodox Church: Its Faith and Life" and Bishop Kallistos' "How Are We Saved?: The Understanding of Salvation in the Orthodox Tradition."  They can be found, respectively:

http://www.amazon.com/Introducing-Orthodox-Church-Faith-Life/dp/0937032255
http://www.amazon.com/How-Are-Saved-Understanding-Salvation/dp/1880971224

We didn't have the issues with conversion you did -- our parents had watched us convert Lutheran from Baptist, so this was a pretty natural transition.  We had a LOT of theological issues to sort out, though.  These two books helped me along quite a bit.
 

ialmisry

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casisthename said:
Thank-you for the help.

About the above question, does this mean all fish are also out?
Only ones with a backbone, technically.  Eating lobster nowadays everyday of the fast is hardly fasting, though: the money you save is supposed to go to alms.

Also, I grew up a "heritage" Lutheran. Any advice on how to discuss leaving the Lutheran church with my parents? They are my parents and therefore I ought to respect and obey them but my folks are not comfortable with this. Part of it , is most likely things stemming from Romeaphobia which they assume the Orthodox Church also holds. Especially, those beliefs/practices which the Lutheran church has misrepresented/misunderstood of the Orthodox Church.  Which , granted my parents were worried about me becoming Baptist/ non-denom as I attend a very protestant university. I don't think they would of even considered the possibility of me becoming Orthodox. So this is a bit of a shock to them. Obviously, it's not fair for me to say I'm Orthodox yet since I'm not. But they are very worried about me so much as attending an Orthodox church.
It was tense for a while. If they know you are attending, they must suspect where it's going.
 

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casisthename said:
Finally, anyone know any books which give an overall general synopsis to Orthodox Christianity?
Welcome to the forum! I would recommend James Payton's book Light from the Christian East. Payton was not Orthodox when he wrote this book (have no idea if he ever converted), but he is very positive about the Orthodox faith and in this book he lines RC/Protestant up on one side (the West) and eastern Orthodoxy on the other (the East). So if your parents think you are becoming "Catholic" (in the Roman sense of the word), it might help them to read it from this perspective. Just a thought!
 

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I was a Lutheran briefly before becoming Orthodox and my brother-in-law is a Lutheran pastor of some notoriety. 

As far as fasting goes, you really need to speak with a priest.  Often times they will counsel you on how to slowly incorporate a fasting rule into your life.  Remember, fasting is a tool of the church - not a law.

As to talking with your parents.  I would recommend going in slowly and with much prayer.  It depends also on how much exposure they've had to Orthodox beliefs.  I would avoid any comparisons with the Catholic church.  "A Light from the Christian East" is a very good book for non-Orthodox if you feel they'd be interested in reading something.  Conairis' book is quite well done too.    But, for an inquirer, I would recommend you attend as many services as you can.  Reading is good, but one needs to "come and see" to fully understand the Orthodox faith.  Besides, I heard it said that the only Catechesis a person needs for the Orthodox faith the Liturgy.

Good luck with your journey.
 

scamandrius

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Welcome, casisthename. 

I was Lutheran too before I became illumined in the Orthodox faith. I understand where you are coming from in wanting to be respectful to your parents and the beliefs they hold.  My parents, also, believed that Orthodoxy was basically Roman Catholicism in a more ethnic guise. 

I began my inquiry a long time ago since I was always a student of history and what I found was not corresponding with what I had been taught in Sunday School.  I would ask questions about why the mass wasn't retained, why the honor to the saints was scrapped, why fasting and confession were considered bad just because the Catholics did it, etc.  So, I went on a journey to find the Church which combined faith, doctrine and praxis and that was only the Orthodox Church.  On a personal note, I find it interesting that those Lutherans, like myself, who really wanted to reclaim Lutheranism's heritage when it came to the church disciplines such as fasting and confession and desired the Liturgy be celebrated were actually more Lutheran than the quasi-Baptists and quasi-Methodists that still make up the population in the various Lutheran denominations. 

As far as your questions go with regards to fasting, do not just enter into it.  If you do not combine fasting with prayer and almsgiving under the direction of a spiritual advisor (i.e. your priest), then your fast will focus on the wrong things.

With regards to Catholic saints after the schism, that may be the terminus but not always applicable.  I would regard Edward the Confessor, the last king of England, an Orthodox saint though he reposed in 1066.  But for some saints such as Francis of Assisi or Catherine of Siena, that's more clear cut.

As far as books go, there are many.  Some people have already suggested Bishop KALLISTOS' The Orthodox Church and Fr. Anthony Coniaris' INtroducing the Orthodox Church.  Both are excellent.  I would also encourage you to read some of +Fr. Alexander Schmemann's books, especially his Great Lent.  His books are very readable and filled with great insights.

Good luck with everything.
 

David Garner

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PrincessMommy said:
But, for an inquirer, I would recommend you attend as many services as you can.  Reading is good, but one needs to "come and see" to fully understand the Orthodox faith.  Besides, I heard it said that the only Catechesis a person needs for the Orthodox faith the Liturgy.
I absolutely agree with this.  As I said in another thread, we read - a lot - at first.  But in the end, we had to put the books down and be instructed by the Church.  I actually told my wife last night after leaving Vespers that with every service we attend, whether it's a prayer service or a Liturgy, I am more convinced our conversion was right. 

Orthodoxy can be understood.  But primarily, it is lived.

scamandrius said:
I was Lutheran too before I became illumined in the Orthodox faith. I understand where you are coming from in wanting to be respectful to your parents and the beliefs they hold.  My parents, also, believed that Orthodoxy was basically Roman Catholicism in a more ethnic guise. 

I began my inquiry a long time ago since I was always a student of history and what I found was not corresponding with what I had been taught in Sunday School.  I would ask questions about why the mass wasn't retained, why the honor to the saints was scrapped, why fasting and confession were considered bad just because the Catholics did it, etc. 
This was largely our reason for converting as well.  I found it odd that the mass WAS retained in the Confessions, but not so much in Lutheran parishes.  I found it odd that private confession and absolution WAS upheld by the Confessions, but not so much in Lutheran parishes.  I found it odd that weekly celebration of the Eucharist (and on appointed feast days) WAS upheld by the Confessions, but not so much in Lutheran parishes.  I became convinced - rather quickly - that requests for saintly intercession were not only right and proper, but in fact historical, and I found it odd that Lutherans seem to have a firm belief that the Saints in heaven DO intercede for us, but had this medieval reactionism that said "you cannot ask them to do so."

Regarding Orthodoxy being Roman Catholicism in a more ethnic guise, something that helped my wife and I was a discussion we had about "should we stay (Lutheran) or should we go (Orthodox)."  We came to the issue of Lutherans splitting from the Roman See, and I asked my wife why they did it and what about Roman Catholicism bothered her.  We made a list.  Every single item on the list, from universal Papal jurisdiction to purgatory to the immaculate conception to mandated celibacy of the priesthood, was something not found in Orthodoxy, or at least not to the extent it was in Western Catholicism (i.e., Orthodoxy still has a celibate episcopate, but not a celibate presbyterate, etc.).  We also noted that in some cases, the Eastern Catholics mirrored the practice of the Eastern Church, which told us there was an historical basis for the Orthodox practice, and of course the Papal issue would keep us from becoming Eastern Catholics.
 

casisthename

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Thanks for all the great suggestions and advice. I have been attending a parish with a girl on my floor at school. An Orthodox Christian Fellowship is also starting in a week and a half on my campus and I hope to gain more insight there.

Though, I do have one more question. Has anyone heard of Orthodox having conflicts with certain organ transplant procedures? A friend showed me something on the internet off the Orthodox wiki that has me concerned. I talked with the priest at the parish I have been attending this semester and he told me he would have to do some research since the issue had never come up before.
 

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casisthename said:
An Orthodox Christian Fellowship is also starting in a week and a half on my campus and I hope to gain more insight there.
Nice!  We live in a town with a state university, and I hope we can get an OCF going here someday. 
 

myrrhbear

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Perhaps someone more eloquent can explain this better, but I've been told that Orthodox do not do heart transplants, as the heart is our spiritual center. Not only that, but there is something I've read that some of those who have had heart transplants
have changed, with taking on some personality traits of the donor. Who knows?
 

Achronos

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myrrhbear said:
Not only that, but there is something I've read that some of those who have had heart transplants
have changed, with taking on some personality traits of the donor. Who knows?
Wow fascinating, I want to know more.
 

LBK

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Aposphet said:
myrrhbear said:
Not only that, but there is something I've read that some of those who have had heart transplants
have changed, with taking on some personality traits of the donor. Who knows?
Wow fascinating, I want to know more.
Wishful thinking. No properly-conducted medical research has shown this to be the case. The heart is a very specialised muscular pump, wonderful in its simplicity and complexity, but "seat of personality" it ain't, I'm afraid. Where personality changes are observed can be attributed to the lowering of body temperature and reduced oxygen perfusion which is a consequence of the necessity to be hooked up to a heart-lung machine during open-heart surgery (this includes any cardiac surgery, not just transplants). On the whole, these "personality changes" disappear within a few months after the surgery.
 

lutheraninquirer

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scamandrius said:
  On a personal note, I find it interesting that those Lutherans, like myself, who really wanted to reclaim Lutheranism's heritage when it came to the church disciplines such as fasting and confession and desired the Liturgy be celebrated were actually more Lutheran than the quasi-Baptists and quasi-Methodists that still make up the population in the various Lutheran denominations. 
I think Lutherans have become like Anglicans in that there are evangelical congregations (I'm using the American sense of the word here, where they are trying to imitate baptist megachurches), catholic congregations (where the mass is celebrated weekly and traditional vestments are used), and broad church congregations (where the basic liturgy is perhaps retained but less formal, and dominated by liberal theology).

Over the past few years I run hot and cold in terms of interest in Orthodoxy. Sometimes when I'm reading something by Ware, Schmemann, Guroian, etc., I'm ready to run down and start taking classes and become an Orthodox catechumen because I so deeply appreciate the theology and tradition.  Other times I remember that Lutherans broke away from Rome, my wife's family is RC, the culture is much more similar, so I back off and think that I ever convert, that will be the direction I will go.

So, in the meantime, I've tried to resolve myself to pray a lot, immerse myself in Scripture and the Fathers, and align myself with other evangelical catholic Lutherans so I will be spiritually fed and nurtured for now, and see if an ecumenical breakthrough is reached such as a Lutheran Ordinariate in the RC Church, or perhaps some substantial fruit from the dialogues started by Met. Jonah and American Anglicans.

Pray for me!       

 

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Yes, I'd like to hear more, too, if it's true. This, my dear hubby tells me, was a tv show where they interviewed donors and don-ees. Interesting, but not medically verified. However there is much written about the heart by the Orthodox and I feel it is more than just a pump. I could start looking for sources, but you could probably find them more quickly!
 

ialmisry

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lutheraninquirer said:
scamandrius said:
  On a personal note, I find it interesting that those Lutherans, like myself, who really wanted to reclaim Lutheranism's heritage when it came to the church disciplines such as fasting and confession and desired the Liturgy be celebrated were actually more Lutheran than the quasi-Baptists and quasi-Methodists that still make up the population in the various Lutheran denominations. 
I think Lutherans have become like Anglicans in that there are evangelical congregations (I'm using the American sense of the word here, where they are trying to imitate baptist megachurches), catholic congregations (where the mass is celebrated weekly and traditional vestments are used), and broad church congregations (where the basic liturgy is perhaps retained but less formal, and dominated by liberal theology).

Over the past few years I run hot and cold in terms of interest in Orthodoxy. Sometimes when I'm reading something by Ware, Schmemann, Guroian, etc., I'm ready to run down and start taking classes and become an Orthodox catechumen because I so deeply appreciate the theology and tradition.  Other times I remember that Lutherans broke away from Rome, my wife's family is RC, the culture is much more similar, so I back off and think that I ever convert, that will be the direction I will go.

So, in the meantime, I've tried to resolve myself to pray a lot, immerse myself in Scripture and the Fathers, and align myself with other evangelical catholic Lutherans so I will be spiritually fed and nurtured for now, and see if an ecumenical breakthrough is reached such as a Lutheran Ordinariate in the RC Church, or perhaps some substantial fruit from the dialogues started by Met. Jonah and American Anglicans.

Pray for me!       
Have you ever had any contact with the Western Rite Orthodox?
 

lutheraninquirer

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ialmisry said:
lutheraninquirer said:
scamandrius said:
  On a personal note, I find it interesting that those Lutherans, like myself, who really wanted to reclaim Lutheranism's heritage when it came to the church disciplines such as fasting and confession and desired the Liturgy be celebrated were actually more Lutheran than the quasi-Baptists and quasi-Methodists that still make up the population in the various Lutheran denominations. 
I think Lutherans have become like Anglicans in that there are evangelical congregations (I'm using the American sense of the word here, where they are trying to imitate baptist megachurches), catholic congregations (where the mass is celebrated weekly and traditional vestments are used), and broad church congregations (where the basic liturgy is perhaps retained but less formal, and dominated by liberal theology).

Over the past few years I run hot and cold in terms of interest in Orthodoxy. Sometimes when I'm reading something by Ware, Schmemann, Guroian, etc., I'm ready to run down and start taking classes and become an Orthodox catechumen because I so deeply appreciate the theology and tradition.  Other times I remember that Lutherans broke away from Rome, my wife's family is RC, the culture is much more similar, so I back off and think that I ever convert, that will be the direction I will go.

So, in the meantime, I've tried to resolve myself to pray a lot, immerse myself in Scripture and the Fathers, and align myself with other evangelical catholic Lutherans so I will be spiritually fed and nurtured for now, and see if an ecumenical breakthrough is reached such as a Lutheran Ordinariate in the RC Church, or perhaps some substantial fruit from the dialogues started by Met. Jonah and American Anglicans.

Pray for me!       
Have you ever had any contact with the Western Rite Orthodox?
There's a parish about 90 miles away from where I live.  I haven't worshiped with them yet, but intend to at some point.  You're very perceptive in picking up from my post that the eastern cultural thing is an issue for me. It won't do any good for my head to convert to Orthodoxy unless my heart is there also. 

I read Frederica Mathewes-Green's book about her conversion, where she and her husband converted from Anglicanism to Orthodoxy.  It was a great book and I really enjoyed her writing style, but it kind of struck me as to how they seemed to forget their western roots and adopted not only the eastern liturgy, but also eastern foods and other cultural pecularities.  I am proud of my Danish/English heritage, so perhaps a Western Rite might make my heart go along with my head, if that is where God leads me.     
 

ialmisry

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lutheraninquirer said:
ialmisry said:
lutheraninquirer said:
scamandrius said:
  On a personal note, I find it interesting that those Lutherans, like myself, who really wanted to reclaim Lutheranism's heritage when it came to the church disciplines such as fasting and confession and desired the Liturgy be celebrated were actually more Lutheran than the quasi-Baptists and quasi-Methodists that still make up the population in the various Lutheran denominations. 
I think Lutherans have become like Anglicans in that there are evangelical congregations (I'm using the American sense of the word here, where they are trying to imitate baptist megachurches), catholic congregations (where the mass is celebrated weekly and traditional vestments are used), and broad church congregations (where the basic liturgy is perhaps retained but less formal, and dominated by liberal theology).

Over the past few years I run hot and cold in terms of interest in Orthodoxy. Sometimes when I'm reading something by Ware, Schmemann, Guroian, etc., I'm ready to run down and start taking classes and become an Orthodox catechumen because I so deeply appreciate the theology and tradition.  Other times I remember that Lutherans broke away from Rome, my wife's family is RC, the culture is much more similar, so I back off and think that I ever convert, that will be the direction I will go.

So, in the meantime, I've tried to resolve myself to pray a lot, immerse myself in Scripture and the Fathers, and align myself with other evangelical catholic Lutherans so I will be spiritually fed and nurtured for now, and see if an ecumenical breakthrough is reached such as a Lutheran Ordinariate in the RC Church, or perhaps some substantial fruit from the dialogues started by Met. Jonah and American Anglicans.

Pray for me!       
Have you ever had any contact with the Western Rite Orthodox?
There's a parish about 90 miles away from where I live.  I haven't worshiped with them yet, but intend to at some point.  You're very perceptive in picking up from my post that the eastern cultural thing is an issue for me. It won't do any good for my head to convert to Orthodoxy unless my heart is there also. 

I read Frederica Mathewes-Green's book about her conversion, where she and her husband converted from Anglicanism to Orthodoxy.  It was a great book and I really enjoyed her writing style, but it kind of struck me as to how they seemed to forget their western roots and adopted not only the eastern liturgy, but also eastern foods and other cultural pecularities.  I am proud of my Danish/English heritage, so perhaps a Western Rite might make my heart go along with my head, if that is where God leads me.       
Where are you located?

The WRO parish in Detroit, Holy Incarnation, is full of former Lutherans, including the priest.
 

lutheraninquirer

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ialmisry said:
Where are you located?

The WRO parish in Detroit, Holy Incarnation, is full of former Lutherans, including the priest.
Near Omaha, NE. I believe the Western Rite priest there is a former Anglican.

Is the one in Detroit Fr. Fenton's parish?
 

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lutheraninquirer said:
ialmisry said:
Where are you located?

The WRO parish in Detroit, Holy Incarnation, is full of former Lutherans, including the priest.
Near Omaha, NE. I believe the Western Rite priest there is a former Anglican.

Is the one in Detroit Fr. Fenton's parish?
I am a Lutheran convert to Orthodoxy living in Omaha.  My father is a LCMS pastor and I was an elder in the WELS at the time of my conversion.  I attended the Western Rite for a while, but my heart was not into it at all.  It reminded me too much of what I left.  I now attend St. Nicholas Serbian Orthodox Church here in Omaha.  If you are new and inquiring, I would check out St. Mary's Antiochian in Omaha.  My wife attends there (also a convert from Lutheranism).  Fr. Don is himself a convert and is a good person to speak with about Orthodoxy from the perspective of a Protestant convert.
 

ialmisry

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lutheraninquirer said:
ialmisry said:
Where are you located?

The WRO parish in Detroit, Holy Incarnation, is full of former Lutherans, including the priest.
Near Omaha, NE. I believe the Western Rite priest there is a former Anglican.
Yes, I know a family at that parish. They had converted here in Chicago, and when the Eastern Rite Church they went to in NE had a Da Vinci Last Supper and Western Wannabe Icons, they figured they would be better off returning to their roots.

Is the one in Detroit Fr. Fenton's parish?
Yes.
 

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lutheraninquirer said:
ialmisry said:
lutheraninquirer said:
scamandrius said:
 On a personal note, I find it interesting that those Lutherans, like myself, who really wanted to reclaim Lutheranism's heritage when it came to the church disciplines such as fasting and confession and desired the Liturgy be celebrated were actually more Lutheran than the quasi-Baptists and quasi-Methodists that still make up the population in the various Lutheran denominations.  
I think Lutherans have become like Anglicans in that there are evangelical congregations (I'm using the American sense of the word here, where they are trying to imitate baptist megachurches), catholic congregations (where the mass is celebrated weekly and traditional vestments are used), and broad church congregations (where the basic liturgy is perhaps retained but less formal, and dominated by liberal theology).

Over the past few years I run hot and cold in terms of interest in Orthodoxy. Sometimes when I'm reading something by Ware, Schmemann, Guroian, etc., I'm ready to run down and start taking classes and become an Orthodox catechumen because I so deeply appreciate the theology and tradition.  Other times I remember that Lutherans broke away from Rome, my wife's family is RC, the culture is much more similar, so I back off and think that I ever convert, that will be the direction I will go.

So, in the meantime, I've tried to resolve myself to pray a lot, immerse myself in Scripture and the Fathers, and align myself with other evangelical catholic Lutherans so I will be spiritually fed and nurtured for now, and see if an ecumenical breakthrough is reached such as a Lutheran Ordinariate in the RC Church, or perhaps some substantial fruit from the dialogues started by Met. Jonah and American Anglicans.

Pray for me!        
Have you ever had any contact with the Western Rite Orthodox?
There's a parish about 90 miles away from where I live.  I haven't worshiped with them yet, but intend to at some point.  You're very perceptive in picking up from my post that the eastern cultural thing is an issue for me. It won't do any good for my head to convert to Orthodoxy unless my heart is there also.  

I read Frederica Mathewes-Green's book about her conversion, where she and her husband converted from Anglicanism to Orthodoxy.  It was a great book and I really enjoyed her writing style, but it kind of struck me as to how they seemed to forget their western roots and adopted not only the eastern liturgy, but also eastern foods and other cultural pecularities.  I am proud of my Danish/English heritage, so perhaps a Western Rite might make my heart go along with my head, if that is where God leads me.      
What about the 'eastern cultural thing' is an issue for you? Do you like the liturgy? Remember, Christianity came out of the east!  ;)
 

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Ortho_cat said:
What about the 'eastern cultural thing' is an issue for you? Do you like the liturgy? Remember, Christianity came out of the east!  ;)
This is not an exhaustive list, but here's what I am thinking:

- The eastern liturgy is beautiful, but I prefer the greater level of verbal interaction between the celebrant and the laity as found in the Anglican/Lutheran liturgies.
- It would be very hard for me to leave behind western hymnody.  I hope all you former Lutherans still have a soft spot in your heart for "A Mighty Fortress."  :)
- I have nothing against eastern culture, but its not who I am, and there are a lot of worthy Danish/English traditions that I would like to remember and observe, and would be lost to my descendants if I became culturally Syrian or Greek. 
- This isn't necessarily an east versus west issue, but a big concern I have pertains to what will happen in the event that the faithful Lutherans and Anglicans are absorbed into either the RC or EO churches and the remnant fades away into history. What happens to the worthy traditions and memories of those Lutherans and Anglicans who were faithful to God in their context?  IMHO, Bonhoeffer, Bach, Ramsey, Lewis, and numerous others in the Lutheran/Anglican churches have made great contributions to the church catholic.  I fear they would be forgotten unless there is something more along the lines of a corporate reunion.  On the RC side, we'll see how the Anglican Ordinariate pans out. On the EO side, the Western Rite's continued viability concerns me as long as it remains a smattering of scattered parishes - if there were to be a Western Rite diocese established, with its own bishop, then that would help.
 

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Punch said:
lutheraninquirer said:
ialmisry said:
Where are you located?

The WRO parish in Detroit, Holy Incarnation, is full of former Lutherans, including the priest.
Near Omaha, NE. I believe the Western Rite priest there is a former Anglican.

Is the one in Detroit Fr. Fenton's parish?
I am a Lutheran convert to Orthodoxy living in Omaha.  My father is a LCMS pastor and I was an elder in the WELS at the time of my conversion.  I attended the Western Rite for a while, but my heart was not into it at all.  It reminded me too much of what I left.  I now attend St. Nicholas Serbian Orthodox Church here in Omaha.  If you are new and inquiring, I would check out St. Mary's Antiochian in Omaha.  My wife attends there (also a convert from Lutheranism).  Fr. Don is himself a convert and is a good person to speak with about Orthodoxy from the perspective of a Protestant convert.
Wow, WELS to Orthodoxy!  That's a story I'd like to hear sometime.

Thanks to you and ialmisry for the help!

 

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lutheraninquirer said:
Ortho_cat said:
What about the 'eastern cultural thing' is an issue for you? Do you like the liturgy? Remember, Christianity came out of the east!  ;)
This is not an exhaustive list, but here's what I am thinking:

- The eastern liturgy is beautiful, but I prefer the greater level of verbal interaction between the celebrant and the laity as found in the Anglican/Lutheran liturgies.
- It would be very hard for me to leave behind western hymnody.  I hope all you former Lutherans still have a soft spot in your heart for "A Mighty Fortress."  :)
- I have nothing against eastern culture, but its not who I am, and there are a lot of worthy Danish/English traditions that I would like to remember and observe, and would be lost to my descendants if I became culturally Syrian or Greek.   
- This isn't necessarily an east versus west issue, but a big concern I have pertains to what will happen in the event that the faithful Lutherans and Anglicans are absorbed into either the RC or EO churches and the remnant fades away into history. What happens to the worthy traditions and memories of those Lutherans and Anglicans who were faithful to God in their context?  IMHO, Bonhoeffer, Bach, Ramsey, Lewis, and numerous others in the Lutheran/Anglican churches have made great contributions to the church catholic.  I fear they would be forgotten unless there is something more along the lines of a corporate reunion.  On the RC side, we'll see how the Anglican Ordinariate pans out. On the EO side, the Western Rite's continued viability concerns me as long as it remains a smattering of scattered parishes - if there were to be a Western Rite diocese established, with its own bishop, then that would help.
That has already happened, the first Archbishop of Washington, D.C.
http://orthodoxhistory.org/tag/western-rite/
how that worked out has made many leery of repeating it.  It did work out eventually: Abp. Nichols, in addition to all the vagrantis he consecrated, consecrated Alexander Turner as his successor, who led them back into Orthodoxy as the WRO Vicarate of the Antiochian Archdiocese on North America.
 

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lutheraninquirer said:
This is not an exhaustive list, but here's what I am thinking:

- The eastern liturgy is beautiful, but I prefer the greater level of verbal interaction between the celebrant and the laity as found in the Anglican/Lutheran liturgies.
- It would be very hard for me to leave behind western hymnody.  I hope all you former Lutherans still have a soft spot in your heart for "A Mighty Fortress."  :)
- I have nothing against eastern culture, but its not who I am, and there are a lot of worthy Danish/English traditions that I would like to remember and observe, and would be lost to my descendants if I became culturally Syrian or Greek.   
- This isn't necessarily an east versus west issue, but a big concern I have pertains to what will happen in the event that the faithful Lutherans and Anglicans are absorbed into either the RC or EO churches and the remnant fades away into history. What happens to the worthy traditions and memories of those Lutherans and Anglicans who were faithful to God in their context?  IMHO, Bonhoeffer, Bach, Ramsey, Lewis, and numerous others in the Lutheran/Anglican churches have made great contributions to the church catholic.  I fear they would be forgotten unless there is something more along the lines of a corporate reunion.  On the RC side, we'll see how the Anglican Ordinariate pans out. On the EO side, the Western Rite's continued viability concerns me as long as it remains a smattering of scattered parishes - if there were to be a Western Rite diocese established, with its own bishop, then that would help.
Keep in mind, ours is a convert parish (one of those that converted in the late '80s with the Evangelical Orthodox), but ours is also very, very traditional, so I don't think we're Protestantized by any means.  Having said that, my diet hasn't changed except on Wednesdays and Fridays, during Great Lent and Advent, and during the Apostles' Fast and the Dormition Fast.  We eat as we always ate other than the fasts.  Perhaps in some more ethnic parishes that might be an issue, but I wouldn't let it bother me all that much.  I think the fasting changes your diet more than ethnicity or culture.  We also have a high degree of interaction between the celebrant and laity.  I understand there are some Orthodox parishes where the laity don't participate as much, but I've visited 2 others besides my own (one other Antiochian parish and a Greek parish), and participation of the laity was high in both.

As to your concern about the Lutheran and Anglican remnants fading away into history, I don't think there is a great danger of that happening.  Honestly, I don't see any mass Lutheran and Anglican conversion anytime soon.  People cling to traditions for a lot of reasons, and not always those which are theological.  Even if convinced the Eastern Church is the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church in theory, there are many Lutherans and Anglicans who still would not convert for other reasons.  That's not a criticism -- I'm sure the same is true of Orthodoxy.  It's just the facts.

Re: hymnody, I confess I never missed it (and going in I thought I would).  The hymnody and Liturgy of the Eastern Rite is so rich, I just haven't yearned for any of those hymns at all.  That's not to denigrate them -- I love We All Believe in One True God, Thy Strong Word, Jesus Christ our Blessed Savior, On My Heart Imprint Thy Image, All Glory Laud and Honor, At The Lamb's High Feast We Sing, O Dearest Jesus, etc.  I particularly love the catechetical hymns like Lord Help us Ever to Retain and the particular communion hymns like Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silent and even the dismissal hymns like Sent Forth by God's Blessing.  But I honestly never sat through an Eastern Liturgy and said "boy if we could just get some good Lutheran hymns in here...."  As much as I still love those hymns, once I was in the beauty of the Eastern Rite, they just weren't missed.

It sounds like you're a relatively content Lutheran.  There is much in that tradition to rejoice in -- I know I have taken much from it that is meet, right and salutary.  But you can't really become a "Lutheran Eastern Orthodox Christian."  The East is what it is, and what it is, we contend, is the Church.  If you prefer the Western Rite, that's available, but if you are having issues breaking from Lutheranism, it might just be that you are perfectly happy there and aren't really looking to convert fully.  If that's the case, I'd caution you to be very careful.  I fear you would be far worse off joining an Eastern parish and then lapsing back to Lutheranism than just remaining Lutheran.

That's just my $0.02.  Take it for what it's worth.

P.S., I also converted from WELS to Orthodoxy, but we were LCMS first and realistically that's where our heart was.  Which is to say, we converted from WELS for precisely the reason I suspect you find it odd that someone would.
 

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I have not found the Eastern cultural thing to be problematic.  I would say it's almost non-existent really.  Perhaps its more of an issue in an ethnic parish?  I still eat a pretty Americanized diet and like David said, the biggest difference is in fasting.

I think perhaps you have this idea that once you become Orthodox you will be expected to renounce your former cultural citizenship?  This just isn't the case.  Sure, there are fun traditions and new foods to discover but it isn't an either/or but a both/and.  I don't throw away my hot dogs and hamburgers, I get to have them with pierogies!   ;)

And I confess I do not miss hymns either.  Sure, many were very nice and occasionally I hum one or two ("Lift High the Cross").. but miss them as part of Liturgy?  No.  The hymns of the Eastern church is SO rich in beauty and full.

But, I will say it again - you can't really know these things unless you experience it.   I remember being very reluctant to becoming Orthodox because the fast seemed so overwhelming, rigid, and hard.  It wasn't until I became Orthodox and experienced the fast that I realized how silly those concerns were.  Well.. yes, it can be hard and a challenge (my first Lent was quite a spiritual battlefield), but not the way I thought it to be when I was looking in from the outside.
 

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I'm not offering arguments, but want to mention a few things. Being a former Lutheran, MS, I can say that my experience is that you don't give up the frequent interaction in the liturgy. We have congregational singing in our OCA parish, singing the entire liturgy, so we constantly interact with our priest.

Just because we are not Lutheran now it doesn't mean we no longer sing  or appreciate our former hymns! We just don't sing them in Liturgy. However, as said already, with experiencing beautiful Orthodox hymns, the words of them especially during Christmas and Pascha, speak to your heart.

We still have passed along our German-Lutheran roots/culture to our children, but in other ways. In addition, our parish celebrates with a yearly ethnic fest where each family shares through food, music, displays, etc. our culture and sharing it with each other.

We haven't thrown out our Lutheran Gourmet Coffee mug, but we are now rejoicing with deeper relationship than we ever expected with the Lord.
 

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lutheraninquirer said:
Wow, WELS to Orthodoxy!  That's a story I'd like to hear sometime.

Thanks to you and ialmisry for the help!
It is really not that hard to understand if you look at things from a historical perspective.  I was studying Lutheran Dogmatics in the hope of becoming a lay minister at the time of my conversion.  Martin Luther and Philip Melancthon were not trying to start a new Church, but were revolting against the excesses and heresies of the Latin Church.  In reading Luther’s writings, it could be seen that he had a very high regard for what he called the “Eastern Catholics”, and even went so far as to admit that they had kept the teachings of the Church far  more faithfully than the Roman Church.  I was told in my studies that Melancthon even had an Orthodox Priest from Serbia with him when he translated the Augsburg Confession into Greek for Patriarch Jeremiah.  My wife was told in the Antiochian Church that Lutherans make some of the best converts to Orthodoxy because they are so close in their beliefs already.

As to giving up your Lutheran traditions, it is really not necessary.  I was told by a Priest in the ROCOR (himself a convert from the LCMS and the son of a Lutheran Theologian) that there is no Typicon in the home.  After the Nativity Liturgy at that ROCOR Church, we went into the fellowship hall and sang the old Lutheran Christmas hymns, some of them even in German.  I still worship God at home using the hymns that I learned as a Lutheran, and I even use the old German chant melodies from the 1600’s when I read the Epistle in the Serbian Church.

One of my favorite of the Lutheran hymns was “Let the Earth Now Praise the Lord”.  The second verse is this:

What the fathers most desired,
What the prophet’s heart inspired,
What they longed for many a year,
Stands fulfilled in glory here.

This is how I felt when I entered the Orthodox Church.  What I had most desired as a Lutheran was to more fully understand God.  My heart longed for Him and my soul cried out for Him.  And it was all fulfilled the first time that I heard the words “Blessed is the Kingdom of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, now and ever and unto the ages of ages” at the beginning of the Liturgy.  By the time the Epistle was being read, I had converted.  What I most desired, and what my heart most wanted, was fulfilled in glory during that first Liturgy.  The last 16 years has just been polishing the details.  While I am no longer a Lutheran, and while I with my heart reject all heresies rejected by the Orthodox Church, I am forever grateful for the education that I received in Lutheran Parochial Schools, and the lessons that I learned in Lutheran Sunday School.  I also thank God for the sermons that I heard on Sunday by the conservative Pastors of the LCMS and WELS.  These instilled into my heart love for God, and for the Savior Jesus Christ.  I pray to God that one day it will be His will that my Lutheran brothers and sisters (and my parents) start to see what I have been shown, and that they and all of the Lutherans join themselves to the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church that they confess belief in during their Liturgies.  May God one day grant this.
 

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Punch said:
lutheraninquirer said:
Wow, WELS to Orthodoxy!  That's a story I'd like to hear sometime.

Thanks to you and ialmisry for the help!
It is really not that hard to understand if you look at things from a historical perspective.  I was studying Lutheran Dogmatics in the hope of becoming a lay minister at the time of my conversion.  Martin Luther and Philip Melancthon were not trying to start a new Church, but were revolting against the excesses and heresies of the Latin Church.  In reading Luther’s writings, it could be seen that he had a very high regard for what he called the “Eastern Catholics”, and even went so far as to admit that they had kept the teachings of the Church far  more faithfully than the Roman Church.  I was told in my studies that Melancthon even had an Orthodox Priest from Serbia with him when he translated the Augsburg Confession into Greek for Patriarch Jeremiah.  My wife was told in the Antiochian Church that Lutherans make some of the best converts to Orthodoxy because they are so close in their beliefs already.

As to giving up your Lutheran traditions, it is really not necessary.  I was told by a Priest in the ROCOR (himself a convert from the LCMS and the son of a Lutheran Theologian) that there is no Typicon in the home.  After the Nativity Liturgy at that ROCOR Church, we went into the fellowship hall and sang the old Lutheran Christmas hymns, some of them even in German.  I still worship God at home using the hymns that I learned as a Lutheran, and I even use the old German chant melodies from the 1600’s when I read the Epistle in the Serbian Church.

One of my favorite of the Lutheran hymns was “Let the Earth Now Praise the Lord”.  The second verse is this:

What the fathers most desired,
What the prophet’s heart inspired,
What they longed for many a year,
Stands fulfilled in glory here.

This is how I felt when I entered the Orthodox Church.  What I had most desired as a Lutheran was to more fully understand God.  My heart longed for Him and my soul cried out for Him.  And it was all fulfilled the first time that I heard the words “Blessed is the Kingdom of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, now and ever and unto the ages of ages” at the beginning of the Liturgy.  By the time the Epistle was being read, I had converted.  What I most desired, and what my heart most wanted, was fulfilled in glory during that first Liturgy.  The last 16 years has just been polishing the details.  While I am no longer a Lutheran, and while I with my heart reject all heresies rejected by the Orthodox Church, I am forever grateful for the education that I received in Lutheran Parochial Schools, and the lessons that I learned in Lutheran Sunday School.  I also thank God for the sermons that I heard on Sunday by the conservative Pastors of the LCMS and WELS.  These instilled into my heart love for God, and for the Savior Jesus Christ.  I pray to God that one day it will be His will that my Lutheran brothers and sisters (and my parents) start to see what I have been shown, and that they and all of the Lutherans join themselves to the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church that they confess belief in during their Liturgies.  May God one day grant this.
Thanks for sharing that.  When I made the comment about WELS, I was thinking about how isolationist they are.  I am a traditionalist in the ELCA on various matters, but remain more ecumenically oriented than WELS or LCMS.  So, now that I think about it, perhaps it would be easier for someone in WELS to become Orthodox because you are more used to the idea of limited interaction with other Christians.   
 

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lutheraninquirer said:
........ So, now that I think about it, perhaps it would be easier for someone in WELS to become Orthodox because you are more used to the idea of limited interaction with other Christians.   
???  I interact with Protestants all the time.  My husband is still Lutheran...almost all our friends are still Protestant Christians of one ilk or another.  I still talk with my sister and parents who are Lutheran.  Orthodoxy isn't a cult where we renounce our family, friends and co-workers.  What do you mean by "limited interaction with other Christians".
 

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lutheraninquirer said:
Thanks for sharing that.  When I made the comment about WELS, I was thinking about how isolationist they are.  I am a traditionalist in the ELCA on various matters, but remain more ecumenically oriented than WELS or LCMS.  So, now that I think about it, perhaps it would be easier for someone in WELS to become Orthodox because you are more used to the idea of limited interaction with other Christians.   
I assumed you meant WELS' inclination to be more low church pietist. 

Whatever one might say about the WELS' interaction with other Christians, I agree with PrincessMommy that the Orthodox are hardly exclusivist in their dealings with other Christians.  What do you mean by "limited interaction?"
 

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I don't think that lutheraninquirer meant that statement the way that you took it.  There are different kinds of interactions.  WELS and LCMS people interact with other Christians all of the time on a personal level.  Official interaction is far more reserved.  They, like the conservative Orthodox, do not participate in ecumenical activities, nor do they belong to inter-faith organizations such as the World Council of Churches or the National Council of Churches.  WELS is very much like the ROCOR of the Lutheran Church, although ROCOR has become more like the LCMS with its joining with the MP.  Ecumenism is a major heresy in the WELS, and also with the large part of the LCMS.  There is no rush to have "dialogue" with anything that moves since there is a good understanding that such dialogue seldom results in the conversion of the heretics, but more often results in the liberalization of the more conservative faction.  WELS and LCMS Lutherans see nothing to be gained by opening dialogue with other denominations since these denominations have the same scriptures that we use, but have chosen to reject them.  However, there is still considerable interaction with people of other faiths at the personal level, particularly in the LCMS.  There is a strong emphasis on missions to foreign countries and to the un-churched in this country.  While Lutherans believe that the Holy Spirit is who brings us to Christ, they also believe that the Word of God must be preached for the Spirit to be able to work.  Those that have heard the Word of God, but have chosen to belong to other denominations have rejected that Word.

It has been my experience that a person coming from the ELCA would be pretty comfortable in the Antiochian Church.  The Greeks are not that much different regarding ecumenism, but tend to be more ethnocentric (granted, not all of them).  A person converting from the LCMS or the WELS would likely be far more comfortable in the ROCOR.  Some of the Serbian Churches would also be comfortable for a WELS or LCMS Lutheran, too.  I know that in my case, that is what drove me out of the Antiochian Church so shortly after my conversion.  To me, it was simply ELCA with incense.  But, that was 16 years ago and my views have moderated somewhat.   



PrincessMommy said:
lutheraninquirer said:
........ So, now that I think about it, perhaps it would be easier for someone in WELS to become Orthodox because you are more used to the idea of limited interaction with other Christians.   
???  I interact with Protestants all the time.  My husband is still Lutheran...almost all our friends are still Protestant Christians of one ilk or another.  I still talk with my sister and parents who are Lutheran.  Orthodoxy isn't a cult where we renounce our family, friends and co-workers.  What do you mean by "limited interaction with other Christians".
 

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PrincessMommy said:
lutheraninquirer said:
........ So, now that I think about it, perhaps it would be easier for someone in WELS to become Orthodox because you are more used to the idea of limited interaction with other Christians.    
???  I interact with Protestants all the time.  My husband is still Lutheran...almost all our friends are still Protestant Christians of one ilk or another.  I still talk with my sister and parents who are Lutheran.  Orthodoxy isn't a cult where we renounce our family, friends and co-workers.  What do you mean by "limited interaction with other Christians".
That's not what I meant at all - I have lunch with Orthodox friends and talk about faith issues all the time.  Punch interpreted my comment correctly - I was thinking more along the line of issues like intercommunion, as a WELS/LCMS Lutheran would be used to the idea of closed communion, whereas that would be a big shift in miindset from someone going to the ELCA to Orthodoxy.  Plus, if I understand correctly, some Orthodox are hesitant to pray with other Christians, and this would be consistent with WELS practice as I understand it (and I freely admit I could be wrong).

 

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lutheraninquirer said:
That's not what I meant at all - I have lunch with Orthodox friends and talk about faith issues all the time.  Punch interpreted my comment correctly - I was thinking more along the line of issues like intercommunion, as a WELS/LCMS Lutheran would be used to the idea of closed communion, whereas that would be a big shift in miindset from someone going to the ELCA to Orthodoxy.   Plus, if I understand correctly, some Orthodox are hesitant to pray with other Christians, and this would be consistent with WELS practice as I understand it (and I freely admit I could be wrong).
Ah, that makes more sense.

I don't know about Orthodox being hesitant to pray with other Christians -- honestly, it just hasn't come up in my short time as Orthodox.  Closed communion is something that must be dealt with, yes.  I don't view that as "limited interaction with other Christians."  It's just sound, historical pastoral practice.
 

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Prayer is one of those things that can be complicated.  Among the conservative Orthodox, a distinction is made between private and corporate prayer.  There is no problem with an Orthodox Christian praying with another Christian privately.  However, Orthodox Christians should not attend heterodox services if they can be avoided.  Likewise, it is very appropriate for those who are enquiring into the Church to attend the first part of the Liturgy (through the reading of the Gospel).  In this case, you would be technically praying with us.  Closed Communion, on the other hand, is pretty much universal among the Orthodox, although not to the extent of the WELS.  Most Orthodox will commune other Orthodox, unlike the WELS that will not commune other Lutherans.  Keep in mind that Communion in the Orthodox Church IS the Body and Blood of Christ, and taking it unworthily brings condemnation on both the person who takes it and the one who gives it.  It is an act of love that communion is withheld from the heterodox, not a judgement against them.  No Orthodox Christian, much less a Priest, wants to see anyone take communion to their own condemnation.

lutheraninquirer said:
PrincessMommy said:
lutheraninquirer said:
........ So, now that I think about it, perhaps it would be easier for someone in WELS to become Orthodox because you are more used to the idea of limited interaction with other Christians.    
???  I interact with Protestants all the time.  My husband is still Lutheran...almost all our friends are still Protestant Christians of one ilk or another.  I still talk with my sister and parents who are Lutheran.  Orthodoxy isn't a cult where we renounce our family, friends and co-workers.  What do you mean by "limited interaction with other Christians".
That's not what I meant at all - I have lunch with Orthodox friends and talk about faith issues all the time.  Punch interpreted my comment correctly - I was thinking more along the line of issues like intercommunion, as a WELS/LCMS Lutheran would be used to the idea of closed communion, whereas that would be a big shift in miindset from someone going to the ELCA to Orthodoxy.   Plus, if I understand correctly, some Orthodox are hesitant to pray with other Christians, and this would be consistent with WELS practice as I understand it (and I freely admit I could be wrong).
 

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Punch said:
Keep in mind that Communion in the Orthodox Church IS the Body and Blood of Christ......
Lutherans actually believe the same thing.

...and taking it unworthily brings condemnation on both the person who takes it and the one who gives it.  It is an act of love that communion is withheld from the heterodox, not a judgement against them.  No Orthodox Christian, much less a Priest, wants to see anyone take communion to their own condemnation.
Exactly.  Those Lutherans who do practice closed communion agree with this.  I'm not sure how the real presence is reconciled with right pastoral care among those who practice open communion.
 

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lutheraninquirer said:
That's not what I meant at all - I have lunch with Orthodox friends and talk about faith issues all the time.  Punch interpreted my comment correctly - I was thinking more along the line of issues like intercommunion, as a WELS/LCMS Lutheran would be used to the idea of closed communion, whereas that would be a big shift in miindset from someone going to the ELCA to Orthodoxy.   Plus, if I understand correctly, some Orthodox are hesitant to pray with other Christians, and this would be consistent with WELS practice as I understand it (and I freely admit I could be wrong).

Yes, thank you for the clarification.  Open communion is a pretty new occurrence in this age of "all truth is relative".  But, I do understand that closed communion can be a painful issue for many people.  As to praying with non-Orthodox - that seems to be one of those "ask your priest" things.  Each circumstance is unique. 
 
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