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The truth about Orthodox/Catholic relations

Serge

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There was a sincere hope in the 1960s that all the high churches would reunite. Maybe it WAS all just misunderstandings, like what Catholics and Eastern Orthodox now think of the Non-Chalcedonians. (In the '70s and '80s I was a wishful Anglican, then women's ordination ended all that.) In Catholic terms, the other high churches would become Catholic but NOT lose their cultures to adopt Roman Catholic culture, the way the Catholic Church is SUPPOSED to treat the Christian East but usually hasn't. Anyway, it didn't happen and barring a miracle probably won't. That doesn't mean Greek Catholics should throw in the towel and latinize. We're still aiming for that all-around reconciliation even if it never happens. Settling for less - latinizing, trying to convert the Orthodox, etc. - would only deepen the split.

Anyway, I've come to see that Catholics and Orthodox really want nothing to do with each other - people like me are an exception, worshipping with both the Orthodox and the Greek Catholics. The only time they have to interact is in the West with the inevitable mixed marriages, as Catholics outnumber Orthodox there. Conflict: each church claims it's the true one so it demands that children be raised in it. One spouse has to give up good standing in his or her church. I understand the Orthodox being wary because chances are the minority church's spouse, the Orthodox, will cave because of social pressure. Assimilation kills Eastern churches in the West, Orthodox and Catholic, by the third generation.
 

Lepanto

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You nailed it. The large majority of both Orthodox and Catholics are not at all interested in the respective other faith. Why should they? They are busy with their daily lives, working, raising children and, ideally, trying to grow in their faith. It is only those who are in those mixed marriages (like myself) that really care about questions of union due to personal interests. If I talk to "normal" fellow Catholics about the Orthodox, the reaction is something like: "Orthodox, hum.... Ah icons and magnificent liturgies, I know!" But this is about the extent of their knowledge and they do not really care.
 

noahzarc1

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You're both right in your assessment of the entire situation, as these have been my experiences as well. I worshipped with a Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church for 4 years and through them it really helped me grow in my love for the eastern liturgy in particular and the eastern way of life (that the Eastern Orthodox seemed completely uninterested in showing to me.) Serge I think you said best, what many of us who've looked into it, have realized; "Catholics and Orthodox really want nothing to do with each other." First, I am still profoundly shocked at how little knowledge Catholics have for the Eastern churches in communion with Rome. For them, Rome is the church and there is nothing else. Among the traditionalists especially, one finds a distinct hatred for the eastern churches and they chide anyone they consider "hiding out" in the east to avoid dealing with what is the current state of the Roman church. On the flip side, I can instantly tell how much an Eastern Orthodox cares at all about the west by their attitude toward their own Western Rite Orthodox. If they revile the practices, or scorn any part of it, one can almost readily see an elitism for the east's way of doing business in every other area that they feel is superior to the west.

I think what muddies the water the most are the western converts to Eastern Orthodoxy, particularly staunch anti-Catholic fundamentalist Protestants. I think they unfortunately do a disservice to the general attitude of how the East views the West and many times are not put in check by their fellow easterners to stop misrepresenting them. In fact, I can say I've been treated better by cradle Eastern Orthodox than I have been by western converts to Eastern Orthodoxy. But as always, I hate to paint with a broad brush stroke and I am not afraid to call out the traditionalist minded Catholics who hold the east in contempt, using pejoratives such as "heretic" and "schismatic." Listening to a talk that was posted on this site last week, I believe among the 5 Eastern Orthodox speakers on the talk, it was the Catholic convert to Eastern Orthodoxy, who was the only one who used the pejorative "Uniate" and I don't believe it was used by the others who appeared to have been life long Eastern Orthodox. At times, both sides have some growing up to do.
 

PorphyriosK

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Noah, I hope you do realize that some of us are only critical of WRO for the very specific reason that we see the West as the patrimony of Rome, not Antioch or Moscow. In fact I seem to remember explaining that to you quite specifically, so I question your blanket assertion.

This also isn't the first time you've come here to "politely" rant about the specific types of Orthodox who annoy you, namely non-ecumenists and/or western converts (like myself) etc, all the while presenting yourself as occupying some virtuous middle path, having risen above all the polemical nonsense from both sides. Sorry, but this strikes me as nothing more than polemics disguised as non-polemics and as a passive-aggresive means to get your digs in at people like me, or maybe even at me in particular, without any direct confrontation.

You're obviously free to express your opinions any way you like. Just don't call me out in a post like above as being a "muddier of the waters", then turn around and try to call me "brother" in some unrelated post.
 

Lepanto

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Some of the things noahzarc1 said make a lot of sense to me, others less. For instance, there is a group of traditional Catholics who will not hesitate to call Eastern Orthodox schismatics and heretics, true. But the majority by far imho holds a grudging admiration for Orthodoxy in general, as it appears much less affected by modernist nonsense. So I think that traditional Catholics view the Orthodox much more favorably on average than vice versa. Among the Orthodox, the perception of a power-hungry Rome that is dangerous and just waiting for the smallest chance to devour Orthodoxy is still widespread. The Pope sometimes perceived as a universal dictator relentlessly pursuing Roman interests. This is a century-old perception that is only slowly changing now. In reality, Catholicism is falling apart. People do not care what their bishops say, much less the distant Bishop in Rome. Fundamental beliefs of the church such as the real presence in the Eucharist or the resurrection are no longer taken seriously. Nothing could be further from the truth than painting this old picture of a reckless centralistic behemoth. Soon even the Orthodox will realize that large parts of the Catholic Church are just another flavor of mainstream Protestantism - just using more incense and even that is going away.
 

PorphyriosK

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Some of the things noahzarc1 said make a lot of sense to me, others less. For instance, there is a group of traditional Catholics who will not hesitate to call Eastern Orthodox schismatics and heretics, true. But the majority by far imho holds a grudging admiration for Orthodoxy in general, as it appears much less affected by modernist nonsense. So I think that traditional Catholics view the Orthodox much more favorably on average than vice versa. Among the Orthodox, the perception of a power-hungry Rome that is dangerous and just waiting for the smallest chance to devour Orthodoxy is still widespread. The Pope sometimes perceived as a universal dictator relentlessly pursuing Roman interests. This is a century-old perception that is only slowly changing now. In reality, Catholicism is falling apart. People do not care what their bishops say, much less the distant Bishop in Rome. Fundamental beliefs of the church such as the real presence in the Eucharist or the resurrection are no longer taken seriously. Nothing could be further from the truth than painting this old picture of a reckless centralistic behemoth. Soon even the Orthodox will realize that large parts of the Catholic Church are just another flavor of mainstream Protestantism - just using more incense and even that is going away.
Sad, but realistic observations. I pray for the restoration of Rome and I am not anti-West at all, just anti-heresy and pro-restoration of true Western Orthodoxy where it belongs: under Rome. I believe the RC crisis might even be the very catalyst that sparks its eventual return to the right path.
 

sestir

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Soon even the Orthodox will realize that large parts of the Catholic Church are just another flavor of mainstream Protestantism - just using more incense and even that is going away.
⁘ I get the impression there is a tendency to call everything RCs and EOs dislike "Protestant". It may be different in America but certain political ideologies which dislike Christianity begun a process of annihilating protestantism from much of Western Europe almost 100 years ago, and I, who have lived 39 years in Sweden, know only a handful (ca 5) persons who could meaningsfully be described as protestants, so it is pretty much Mission Accomplished. I can understand why members of the Roman Catholic Church want to seize this opportunity to get rid of a competing sect, but to completely root out P/p-rotestantism will happen at a very high cost to society and mankind. Societal decline will not abate until people begin to question whether every rot, failure and outrage should be blamed on people long since dead and buried.

⁘ Pope Francis' statements and policy decisions (such as this one) have met with much acclaim among the population in Sweden. If agreeing with the Pope is a definition of being roman catholic and disagreeing with the Pope is a definition of being protestant, then perhaps we should wake up to a situation where Sweden and Germany have become largely roman catholic, while Poland and Hungary have turned protestant, although it's not reflected yet in their self-perceptions.

⁘ If Catholicism and Orthodoxy fragment somewhat, it may be because of increased polarization in other ideological dimensions. I think it is an opportunity as much as a threat. People will have to move to a place where they can find like-minded brethren in any case. A slight fragmentation would create a more liquid market for faith communities and contribute to a renewed interest in culture/tradition, all else equal and unless I'm mistaken.

I beg your pardon for speaking in this forum-part as neither RC or Orthodox. It seemed like you hadn't considered my perspective, so it could be interesting. I used uppercase initial letter for communities and lowercase for the lexical/historical definition of their faith.
 

bwallace23350

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I almost see the RC's going the way of the Anglican Communion. Eventually they will splinter because of modernism and it will take some time for the traditionalist orthodox RC's to get their feet under them and reform. That is what the ACNA and GAFCON is doing right now. There has been some hiccups and we still have to reforming to do but we have maintained our Apostolic Succession.
 

noahzarc1

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Noah, I hope you do realize that some of us are only critical of WRO for the very specific reason that we see the West as the patrimony of Rome, not Antioch or Moscow. In fact I seem to remember explaining that to you quite specifically, so I question your blanket assertion.

This also isn't the first time you've come here to "politely" rant about the specific types of Orthodox who annoy you, namely non-ecumenists and/or western converts (like myself) etc, all the while presenting yourself as occupying some virtuous middle path, having risen above all the polemical nonsense from both sides. Sorry, but this strikes me as nothing more than polemics disguised as non-polemics and as a passive-aggresive means to get your digs in at people like me, or maybe even at me in particular, without any direct confrontation.

You're obviously free to express your opinions any way you like. Just don't call me out in a post like above as being a "muddier of the waters", then turn around and try to call me "brother" in some unrelated post.
I can assure you that you’re the last person I was thinking of when I made my comments. In fact, now that we're on the topic, I think you've always treated me quite nicely and respectfully, even when you've disagreed with me (which seems to be more and more lately 🤣). However, I am quite positive if we knew each other personally, we'd often sit for a cup of coffee (maybe even a beer of your choice, or a red wine of mine) and have quite an amicable relationship. In fact, I am sure if I met any of the people on this site who seem to be the regular posters that we would get along just fine. Overall, I would not keep visiting, reading, praying for and generally sharing with "OrthodoxChristianity.net" if I did not feel the Orthodox here were good to me or overall quite welcoming.

I would like to meet a guy like Jay Dyer, but I'm sure a guy like Jay Dyer at the end of the day would not be at all interested in what I thought or would take away any sort of an olive branch from me that opened up his way of thinking to my position or opinions. I could be wrong, but that is just my thought. On the flip side, I have never thought for a second I'd want to meet the Dimond brothers and have a conversation with them. I can go on with the reasons, but I'd rather meet, sit with and talk with Jay Dyer than the Dimond brothers.

If you took my comments as directed at you, please forgive me, but I did not call anyone out in particular.
 

Lepanto

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@sestir : Thanks for your perspective. I am with you, I prefer e.g. a deeply protestant Sweden to a largely atheist a thousand times over. I obviously just don't want the Catholic Church to become protestant.
 

Thetruthisgod

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I don't believe it will ever be possible for the Orthodox Catholic and Roman Catholic churches to unite without papal supremacy being done away with.

It is really the big elephant in the room.
 

noahzarc1

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@sestir, good points, particularly regarding your experience with the Church in Sweden. Church growth/church decline was something with which many protestant groups in the US do concern themselves, actively looking at the trends and evangelistic ways to bring people back to Church. Whatever one's thoughts are on the process, overall the rate at which the unchurched has grown in the U.S. is beyond alarming. In terms of Catholicism, I believe it was Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI who stated he envisioned one day the Catholic Church would be a much smaller, but holier church. I tend to agree wit this, and not only for the west but for all of Christendom. The west is not the only place experiencing loss, as well as resurgence where it is least expected. In the current state today, where many modernist minds have taken over leadership roles, it is probably not best for these to be making decisions for unity or the future. Perhaps one day, as the smaller, more conservative minds grow in the east and west, it will be these who come together, find the common ground first and work from there. I have always thought it best, personally, for the laity to not continually reenact the schisms of the past, but among the laity to continue to foster fellowship, understand and love for one another.
 

PorphyriosK

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I can assure you that you’re the last person I was thinking of when I made my comments. In fact, now that we're on the topic, I think you've always treated me quite nicely and respectfully, even when you've disagreed with me (which seems to be more and more lately 🤣). However, I am quite positive if we knew each other personally, we'd often sit for a cup of coffee (maybe even a beer of your choice, or a red wine of mine) and have quite an amicable relationship. In fact, I am sure if I met any of the people on this site who seem to be the regular posters that we would get along just fine. Overall, I would not keep visiting, reading, praying for and generally sharing with "OrthodoxChristianity.net" if I did not feel the Orthodox here were good to me or overall quite welcoming.

I would like to meet a guy like Jay Dyer, but I'm sure a guy like Jay Dyer at the end of the day would not be at all interested in what I thought or would take away any sort of an olive branch from me that opened up his way of thinking to my position or opinions. I could be wrong, but that is just my thought. On the flip side, I have never thought for a second I'd want to meet the Dimond brothers and have a conversation with them. I can go on with the reasons, but I'd rather meet, sit with and talk with Jay Dyer than the Dimond brothers.

If you took my comments as directed at you, please forgive me, but I did not call anyone out in particular.
Noah, I'm a jerk. I don't know how you keep putting up with me. Forgive me. 😞
 

Katechon

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Some of the things noahzarc1 said make a lot of sense to me, others less. For instance, there is a group of traditional Catholics who will not hesitate to call Eastern Orthodox schismatics and heretics, true. But the majority by far imho holds a grudging admiration for Orthodoxy in general, as it appears much less affected by modernist nonsense. So I think that traditional Catholics view the Orthodox much more favorably on average than vice versa. Among the Orthodox, the perception of a power-hungry Rome that is dangerous and just waiting for the smallest chance to devour Orthodoxy is still widespread. The Pope sometimes perceived as a universal dictator relentlessly pursuing Roman interests. This is a century-old perception that is only slowly changing now. In reality, Catholicism is falling apart. People do not care what their bishops say, much less the distant Bishop in Rome. Fundamental beliefs of the church such as the real presence in the Eucharist or the resurrection are no longer taken seriously. Nothing could be further from the truth than painting this old picture of a reckless centralistic behemoth. Soon even the Orthodox will realize that large parts of the Catholic Church are just another flavor of mainstream Protestantism - just using more incense and even that is going away.
In terms of the actual liturgical life of the congregations and parishes today you might be right, but the bureaucratic apparatus isn't going away anytime soon, and it won't give up it's (Lust for) power (In fact, we have quite recently seen it's interest in becoming a tool of the powers that be). It instead searches for new religious avenues to exploit and find minions in, hence Pachamama has been given a place in it's pantheon and the Abu Dhabi declaration got signed.

The silver lining though is that that way people are able to see what is behind all of this.

 

TheTrisagion

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We Orthodox can barely get along with ourselves. We can't even figure out how to have the US as one jurisdiction, and you want to throw Roman Catholics into the mix too? That's like dropping Mentos into coke; a lot of mess and not much to show for it in the end.
 

noahzarc1

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In terms of the actual liturgical life of the congregations and parishes today you might be right, but the bureaucratic apparatus isn't going away anytime soon, and it won't give up it's (Lust for) power (In fact, we have quite recently seen it's interest in becoming a tool of the powers that be). It instead searches for new religious avenues to exploit and find minions in, hence Pachamama has been given a place in it's pantheon and the Abu Dhabi declaration got signed.

The silver lining though is that that way people are able to see what is behind all of this.

I must say I enjoyed the comment section below the article much more than the article itself. It’s where you will always find the real people who are living out their faith having a frank discussion about whether the theoretical views of the article are possible as praxis based on real life experience, particularly of those former Catholics who converted to Eastern Orthodoxy. With that said, above I noted one can instantly tell how much an Eastern Orthodox cares at all about the west by their attitude toward their own Western Rite Orthodox. Looking carefully at the comments to this article you cited, one sees it borne out by the attitude of the commenters again seeming to portray an elitism for the east's way of doing faith over the west.

Lastly I do not understand the constant claim the west and western Christianity is only intellectual (devoid of spirituality somehow) and the East’s entire theology is all spiritual, full of heart and seems to have avoided any “trappings” of the intellect so often claimed to have ensnared the west.

I fully understand the claim being made (particularly in the comment section of the article,) Orthodoxy is the true faith and often priests discourage conversion because of a failure or refusal to want to invest the time to teach a convert the spiritual mindset of the east. Perhaps there is some truth to this, particularly that western converts can be difficult to deal with. However I just need to note this claim of the west being devoid of spirit and bound only in intellect is akin to the claim Protestant evangelists make against Roman Catholics, often being accusatory that the Catholic doesn’t “have the Spirit,” and needs “to come to Jesus” to receive the fullness of the faith. I know now that once Catholics can get a Protestant to stop calling them the devil, the Catholic evangelist will win the theology debate with a Protestant line by line. What human being doesn’t want to use intellect when they are trying to understand something? What Christian doesn’t understand that there is an intellectual as well as a spiritual aspect to the things revealed by God? Do the Orthodox really believe they have perfected spiritual discernment of the faith absent the intellect God gave them?

Don’t get me wrong, it was most often western coverts to Eastern Orthodoxy who would often use the “spiritual discernment” explanation almost as a higher form of knowledge than what my “western intellect” could understand. Comically it’s almost as if we’re constantly being shamed into having “west guilt.”
 

Katechon

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I must say I enjoyed the comment section below the article much more than the article itself. It’s where you will always find the real people who are living out their faith having a frank discussion about whether the theoretical views of the article are possible as praxis based on real life experience, particularly of those former Catholics who converted to Eastern Orthodoxy. With that said, above I noted one can instantly tell how much an Eastern Orthodox cares at all about the west by their attitude toward their own Western Rite Orthodox. Looking carefully at the comments to this article you cited, one sees it borne out by the attitude of the commenters again seeming to portray an elitism for the east's way of doing faith over the west.

Lastly I do not understand the constant claim the west and western Christianity is only intellectual (devoid of spirituality somehow) and the East’s entire theology is all spiritual, full of heart and seems to have avoided any “trappings” of the intellect so often claimed to have ensnared the west.

I fully understand the claim being made (particularly in the comment section of the article,) Orthodoxy is the true faith and often priests discourage conversion because of a failure or refusal to want to invest the time to teach a convert the spiritual mindset of the east. Perhaps there is some truth to this, particularly that western converts can be difficult to deal with. However I just need to note this claim of the west being devoid of spirit and bound only in intellect is akin to the claim Protestant evangelists make against Roman Catholics, often being accusatory that the Catholic doesn’t “have the Spirit,” and needs “to come to Jesus” to receive the fullness of the faith. I know now that once Catholics can get a Protestant to stop calling them the devil, the Catholic evangelist will win the theology debate with a Protestant line by line. What human being doesn’t want to use intellect when they are trying to understand something? What Christian doesn’t understand that there is an intellectual as well as a spiritual aspect to the things revealed by God? Do the Orthodox really believe they have perfected spiritual discernment of the faith absent the intellect God gave them?

Don’t get me wrong, it was most often western coverts to Eastern Orthodoxy who would often use the “spiritual discernment” explanation almost as a higher form of knowledge than what my “western intellect” could understand. Comically it’s almost as if we’re constantly being shamed into having “west guilt.”
It really is annoying seeing the same ol' strawman employed in virtually every discussion about subjects like these. Allow me to reference myself:

 

noahzarc1

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It really is annoying seeing the same ol' strawman employed in virtually every discussion about subjects like these. Allow me to reference myself:

It’s a strawman to ask honest questions to an Eastern Orthodox Christian about eastern spirituality when said Christian posts an article of an Eastern Orthodox Christian talking about the failings of Catholicism? It’s like being called a conspiracy theorist every time someone wants to have an honest conversation about any topic today that is outside the bounds of an “official” story.

Is it not a strawman to intentionally misrepresent my thoughts and questions as a strawman argument so as to create the appearance defeating my real argument?
 

Katechon

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It’s a strawman to ask honest questions to an Eastern Orthodox Christian about eastern spirituality when said Christian posts an article of an Eastern Orthodox Christian talking about the failings of Catholicism? It’s like being called a conspiracy theorist every time someone wants to have an honest conversation about any topic today that is outside the bounds of an “official” story.

Is it not a strawman to intentionally misrepresent my thoughts and questions as a strawman argument so as to create the appearance defeating my real argument?
A strawman, my friend, is the constant usage of the term "Western" when refering to the impious developments that came in use after the Great Schism and which have nothing to do with the Western Church, eg the Church of Rome before the schism.

The whole tragedy of the "West" is that it became the "West" in the first place as opposed to the "East", eg, the Orthodox Church. There was no meaningful cultural difference between the two before the schism, the "West" was "Eastern" if you want to frame it that way. The pick and choose mentality of RCs as well as WROs reveals the term as nothing more than an idol based on a misconception of European history, no wonder it seems to be widespread mostly outside of Europe, eg the US.
 
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Ainnir

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Maybe noahzarc is simply speaking from his personal experience, in which he's heard these arguments from EO converts? That's what it sounds like to me.
 

PorphyriosK

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Lastly I do not understand the constant claim the west and western Christianity is only intellectual (devoid of spirituality somehow) and the East’s entire theology is all spiritual, full of heart and seems to have avoided any “trappings” of the intellect so often claimed to have ensnared the west.
I would say this is just a bit too simplistic. It's really more of a constant tug of war between a hyper-rationalism with a contrasting sentimentalism. When one tendency starts overpowering, the opposite tendency will try to overcompensate and ends up in further distortions of the Apostolic Faith.

Various tug of wars can be seen playing out throughout the history of the West, but it's not "Western", per se. It's only the result of the West trying to "move beyond" authentic patristic theology and spirituality and to constantly update and innovate.

For example, when distortions of papal power reached their zenith, then you see the Reformation form as an over-reaction in the opposite direction. When you see Liturgies devolving into overly rigid and mechanically performed rubrics, then you see the opposite rising of sentimental folk guitar masses and the Charismatic movement. When sacred art becomes overly baroque and sentimental, then you see a neo-iconoclast reaction with either plain, stark churches or else twisted, modernistic sculptures. When a dry systematic theology dominates, an opposing movement of visionaries and apparition chasers rises up, etc. It seems as though this tug of war happens because of an unconscious searching for an authenticity that has been lost. There is always a state of unsatisfaction and thus a resulting need to change and "reform".

When I first discovered "Eastern" ways of prayer spirituality, I felt as if I had finally encountered what I always imagined Catholicism should be. Then I realized it's not really "Eastern", but is simply "patristic". The East/West Christian divide is not about geography, but about patristic theology, spirituality, and praxis vs non-patristic/innovative spirituality, theology, praxis.
 
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noahzarc1

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When I first discovered "Eastern" ways of prayer spirituality, I felt as if I had finally encountered what I always imagined Catholicism should be. Then I realized it's not really "Eastern", but is simply "patristic". The East/West Christian divide is not about geography, but about patristic theology, spirituality, and praxis vs non-patristic/innovative spirituality, theology, praxis.
While I think your comparisons are a bit over simplified themselves, I don't know if a back and forth on how some of the developments of those issues you've raised came to be really would be helpful, particularly as the thread is about Orthodox/Catholic relations. I can only pray and be happy for you that what you've found in Eastern Orthodox spirituality will only help you continue to grow in your walk with Christ and before your fellow man.

Speaking of patristics, I think the biggest mistake we can all make is to read and quote the early fathers as if these writers were always making dogmatic statements every time they spoke. Most of their theological discussions came up in the context of defending the faith as they explained it to outsiders (non-Christians) as to what it was Christians believed or more importantly contrasting the claims of heretics with what Christians believed. They were not normally in the business of trying to convince other "orthodox" Christians of what to believe. I used "little o" orthodox for a reason, as it is really not a term that one sees being used until around the 5th century and if one disputes that, ultimately we should be careful in how we read post-Nicene definitions into the words of pre-Nicene fathers. I am not sure what you define as "patristic", which can generally be from the close of the New Testament to around either Chalcedon (451) or second council of Nicaea (787.) That is quite a long period and certainly by the councils you start to see more specified language of using this word vs. that word in the later fathers than with that of the pre-Nicene fathers. I am not saying the pre-Nicene fathers did not specify definitions or make theological pronouncements, I am just saying we have to be careful how we read our now 21st century understanding of the multiplicity of theological terms we employ today into the patristics to "get them on our side." I believe the more common term is "quote mining."

The pre-Nicene fathers generally understood orthodoxy in terms of general concepts not meticulous theological definitions. I think this is why sola scriptura protestants exegetes get into so much trouble. The go to great lengths to show that Paul for example delineated systematic theology in a very clear and concise fashion. They quickly get into hot water when they get challenged on their presuppositions of reading into the texts theological concepts that are nowhere to be found. We on the other hand enjoy a much broader scope when it comes to biblical exegesis because we affirm, accept and can draw upon the traditions and councils of the Church as authoritative to help our understandings of the faith. My point is that, though theology was clearly important to the early church, often times it took a back seat to living the Christian life. Therefore, when I hear you've "encountered" that which now allows you to live that life you had long sought in Christianity, then I'd say you've found a treasure given by God and you can use that for the call that Christ gives to each of us in bringing the lost to the salvation of the gospel.
 

PorphyriosK

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While I think your comparisons are a bit over simplified themselves, I don't know if a back and forth on how some of the developments of those issues you've raised came to be really would be helpful, particularly as the thread is about Orthodox/Catholic relations. I can only pray and be happy for you that what you've found in Eastern Orthodox spirituality will only help you continue to grow in your walk with Christ and before your fellow man.

Speaking of patristics, I think the biggest mistake we can all make is to read and quote the early fathers as if these writers were always making dogmatic statements every time they spoke. Most of their theological discussions came up in the context of defending the faith as they explained it to outsiders (non-Christians) as to what it was Christians believed or more importantly contrasting the claims of heretics with what Christians believed. They were not normally in the business of trying to convince other "orthodox" Christians of what to believe. I used "little o" orthodox for a reason, as it is really not a term that one sees being used until around the 5th century and if one disputes that, ultimately we should be careful in how we read post-Nicene definitions into the words of pre-Nicene fathers. I am not sure what you define as "patristic", which can generally be from the close of the New Testament to around either Chalcedon (451) or second council of Nicaea (787.) That is quite a long period and certainly by the councils you start to see more specified language of using this word vs. that word in the later fathers than with that of the pre-Nicene fathers. I am not saying the pre-Nicene fathers did not specify definitions or make theological pronouncements, I am just saying we have to be careful how we read our now 21st century understanding of the multiplicity of theological terms we employ today into the patristics to "get them on our side." I believe the more common term is "quote mining."

The pre-Nicene fathers generally understood orthodoxy in terms of general concepts not meticulous theological definitions. I think this is why sola scriptura protestants exegetes get into so much trouble. The go to great lengths to show that Paul for example delineated systematic theology in a very clear and concise fashion. They quickly get into hot water when they get challenged on their presuppositions of reading into the texts theological concepts that are nowhere to be found. We on the other hand enjoy a much broader scope when it comes to biblical exegesis because we affirm, accept and can draw upon the traditions and councils of the Church as authoritative to help our understandings of the faith. My point is that, though theology was clearly important to the early church, often times it took a back seat to living the Christian life. Therefore, when I hear you've "encountered" that which now allows you to live that life you had long sought in Christianity, then I'd say you've found a treasure given by God and you can use that for the call that Christ gives to each of us in bringing the lost to the salvation of the gospel.
As far as what I mean by the term "patristic", this article by Fr. Florovsky might be helpful:
 
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