The Willful Ignorance of Protestantism

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Theognosis

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Brian,

I have to admit that the original Lutherans, who are immediate offspring of the Roman Catholics as opposed to the Evangelicals who came in much later, are much less carnal in their worship.  I would also confess that since becoming Orthodox, I have developed a tendency to lump together all the groups that formed after 1517 into one denomination and dare call it "Protestants" in much the same way that a typical Christian would lump together the various forms of Islam.  For this, I apologize.  I suppose that slight differences in doctrine become irrelevant when one discovers a totally different brand of Christianity.  Take note that I am not the only one who sees it this way.  The chart in the following doesn't even mention the names of the splinter groups!

http://www.saintignatiuschurch.org/timeline.html#timechart

Anyway, you have made it perfectly clear that you are a Lutheran.  We appreciate that.  You have also expressed the importance of being specific when conversing with "Protestants."  I now realize that there is no single approach to introducing Orthodoxy in the West.  It is imperative therefore that we employ specific methods for each "Protestant" denomination.  More importantly, after opening your mind to Orthodoxy, I suppose that you are in the best position to suggest as to how we Orthodox could effectively share what we know to your Lutheran brethren.  For instance, Where do we begin?  Do we go about discussing Church history, or is questioning the validity of the juridic concept of atonement a valid starting point?  Finally, it would also help us if you could relate your experience and identify the points of interest which led you to explore the Orthodox Church.


 

Keble

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It's not really fair to take a Caravaggio and some other Italian Catholic painter as representing a Protestant aesthetick, though. A really hardline Protestant would of course reject liturgical imagery at all. An Anglican would tend to reject the notion that the images needed to be so stylized, but would tend in practice to have much more stylized images in church than those Italianate examples. The true East/West difference is that there is consensus in the East and no consensus in the West; and even then, one notes in Slavic iconography that nasty Western influence in some periods.

One could make something of an argument for an Orthodox vs. Catholic difference, but then one runs into the more dominating difference that the Catholic perspective has changed dramatically over the years. Again, a Protestant might say (and with quite a bit of justification actually) that the differences in artistic taste between Constantinople and Rome are insignificant in comparison to their common acceptance of ornament and imagery in the church.

I generally assume that when someone in an Orthodox forum makes some sort of statement about "protestants" or "protestantism", it's going to be a wildly inaccurate and typically tendentious overgeneralization. There are some common points to different sorts of Protestants, but they are as a rule either so high level or so utterly historical as to be unhelpful on any specific point.
 

ozgeorge

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Keble said:
It's not really fair to take a Caravaggio and some other Italian Catholic painter as representing a Protestant aesthetick,
Woah there. Photios Kontoglou was one of Greek Orthodoxy's most famous modern Iconographers, and he is talking about Eastern Orthodox Iconography vs Western Christian Religious art. He is not talking specifically about Protestant asthetic- and neither am I. I was simply trying to say that, in context, Photios Kontoglou's quoted statement is in fact an accurate observation. He is comparing Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox devotional art.
Now, as to how someone may choose to use what Photios Kontoglou said, that's another matter.......
 

Theognosis

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Keble said:
It's not really fair to take a Caravaggio and some other Italian Catholic painter as representing a Protestant aesthetick, though. A really hardline Protestant would of course reject liturgical imagery at all.
They may have rejected the imagery, but being children of Roman Catholicism, have they rejected the philosophy and theology behind it?

Again, a Protestant might say (and with quite a bit of justification actually) that the differences in artistic taste between Constantinople and Rome are insignificant in comparison to their common acceptance of ornament and imagery in the church.
It's not even about "artistic taste".  I used western art to make the carnal aspect visible to the audience.  But that's just the tip of the iceberg. 

Art Through the Ages: Its Philosophical and Theological Meaning 1
http://www.catholicintl.com/epologetics/articles/pastoral/art-ages.htm

It has been commonly understood by experts that art tells two stories. First it tells the story represented by the picture itself. It can be a portrait, a landscape, a biblical scene, a magnificent cathedral, and just about anything that the artist desires to paint. We appreciate the fact that man has the ability to reproduce, often to exact likeness, what he sees in the world around him.

Second, and probably most important, the painting tells us about the philosophy, the theology, the culture and even the personality of the painter and his times. Hidden within almost every artwork produced by the famous artists is a commentary on life itself, often a deep commentary.

...

Starting our analysis with the Byzantine period (400-1400), we have a form of art that is definitely cast into the Christian mold. Since the church held sway in the period of the Middle Ages, the art of Europe and many parts of the east was financially supported and inspired by the Catholic Church. As such, Byzantine art was more or less confined to representing the doctrines and moods of the Church. The object of art was the institution as opposed to the individual, although this would surely change in later periods. Byzantine art did not portray family or city life as we would understand it today. Only late Byzantine art, the Gothic period, provides the first glimpse into the city, but then only to magnify the presence of the great Gothic cathedrals. [D].

In this period there are some striking characteristics. The reason is not precisely known, but the art of the Byzantine period is very abstract, that is, it had little resemblance to actual material things. It was concerned more with concepts. The abstraction in Byzantine art grew out of the church's practice to put both practical and spiritual life into symbols. Much of the populace was uneducated, and thus the Church displayed the meaning of life through symbolic representations in art. The artist was not concerned with historical events as such, nor with archeological accuracy, but with dogma in the credal statements. The mystique of Mary, the saints, the sacraments, transubstantiation and the allegorical method of biblical interpretation, were all subjects of symbolic art designed to fathom the mysteries of the supernatural.

...

The shift away from the mystical in the Gothic period was due in large part to the developing philosophy of Thomas Aquinas. Prior to Aquinas, philosophy and theology were dominated by the Platonism or Neo-Platonism of Augustine. The emphasis was on the universals, and thus the spiritual, heavenly or ethereal things. Life was explained with reference to the "ideal" image, not the real image. With the discovery of an Aristotelian library in the middle east, Aristotle's "particularist" philosophy became prominent in the late Middle Ages. This philosophy concentrated on the details and specifics of life, things in themselves. Aquinas incorporated much of Aristotle's thought-forms and methodology, even in his explanation of church doctrines and theology (e.g., transubstantiation and natural law). As a result of Aquinas' incorporation of Aristotelian thought-forms, man began to have a greater appreciation of nature and the natural. As we will see later, the focus on nature was taken to greater heights, or we might say, taken to the extreme, in the Renaissance, a level that certainly would have displeased St. Thomas.


Note that this was written by Robert Sungenis, a Roman Catholic.

And, by the way, it gets better on the second page where Mr. Sungenis discusses the Reformation.
 

Ebor

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Mr. Sungenis is 1) giving his own ideas and 2) is a rather controversial RC apologist.  He also puts forth the claim that the universe is Geocentric amoung other ideas. 

I decline to accept his particular opinions as binding fact.

Ebor
 

Ebor

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Matthew777 said:
Have you ever noticed how most Protestants, no matter how you address the truth of the Orthodox faith, refuse to listen? It's quite bothersome. Since when is closedmindedness a tenet of the Bible?
I have no anger nor hatred against our Protestant neighbors, but I hope they could be more open to new knowledge and perspectives. And it's not just me, I've spoken with Orthodox clergymen about how, in their own experiences, Protestants can be almost completely unreachable. What's the deal?

Peace.
Well, I have noticed that you posted the same first two sentences on at least 2 other EO fora.  While the E-cafe hasn't gotten involved, the other one that doesn't allow non-EO to engage in general discussions has given you some response (and you put it in a section that is supposed to be EO only).  One wonders if you added your other sentences here since you knew that there are more no-EO/OO that would read it and that they are allowed to respond. :-\  One also wonders why you post the exact same things on more then one forum.

As to your question, no I haven't noticed that. But then is it possible that the "messenger" could be treating other people in such ways that do not encourage them to stick around to hear more?  Why should a person want to be dictated to or perhaps patronized by another who is very clear that his own position is superior to theirs?  Why would such treatment make the person being talked down believe that the speaker really does have the "Truth"(tm)?  Just how are you "addressing the truth"?

You personally do not know "most Protestants", nor are they some kind of monolithic block.  Not agreeing with you or accepting your ideas is not the same thing as "willful ignorance".  But accusing someone of that makes not going along with you their own fault having nothing to do with how the "message" was delivered.

One gathers that you have been dealing with individual human beings and not getting many to agree with you.  In the past you have shown a degree of disdain for others not of your faith, using such epithets as "Billy-bobs" and other put-down phrases.  Why should they listen to you? Why should Your opinion or ideas be accepted wholesale and without question or objection? Could you be wrong about some things that they know or do, and this makes them reluctant to hear more? How are you dealing with them? Look hard at what you are doing and think if you would like to be treated that way, perhaps. 

Ebor

 

Keble

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The problem remains that using Carravaggio as the epitome of all Western religious art is completely rediculous. And trying to make a common theme out of all the varieties of Western religious art is essentially pointless. For any given Western style, you can find some other Westerner condemning it. There are even Westerners who accept (somewhat) the Eastern theory about use of images (while not necessarily rejecitng statuary).

The one clear distinction that can be made is how art figures in the liturgy. There simply isn't anything anywhere in the west that parallels the Eastern use of the iconostasis. One could make something of  case for this resulting in the range of Western art, because it freed it from the constraint of rubric. But the whole emotionality argument is just as much, or more, within the West as it is between East and West.
 

Ebor

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ozgeorge said:
For example, calling an entire group of people "Willfully Ignorant" is not going to make them want to hear you out on anything.
Indeed it will not. No one likes to be told such things.
:-\

Ebor
 

Ebor

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Matthew777 said:
I find that too many contemporary Americans in general share the mentality of "I've made up my mind, don't bother me with the facts."
An over-generalization to say the least. One might suggest that people may have considered many facts before making up their minds.

Democrats and Republicans, Protestants and Catholics, Southerners and "Yankees," etc. Everything has become so polarized that people aren't able to consider new information that is contrary to their own worldview.
Aren't able?  There is much more subtlety and shades of grey in this world then you would seem to realize.  As to "new information" how do you know that it is "new" to them?  Perhaps they know more about it then you think, but do not agree with your particular point of view.

How open are you to "new information" that is contrary to your "worldview"?

Ebor
 

Ebor

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serb1389 said:
ME TOO!!!!!!!!  I can't tell you how many times this has happened to me.  I end up saying things like "RC's arn't really THAT bad"   :D  Actually, in a lot of ways they really have things going for them.  And its not like we orthodox don't have our issues either...

Anyway, it really is amazing how a lot of Protestants that i've talked to automatically associate Orthodoxy with Catholicism (roman).  Which brings me to the original question, why is it that they can't seam to break from their "world view"?? 
Well, people have their own experiences and lives and what they know. Why should anyone expect others to know the same things as oneself?  I will give you an example.  As people here know, I grew up in Montana.  It is a huge state with a low population.  There are, to my knowledge about 6 EO churchs in that state which is roughly the size of the mid-atlantic and New ENgland states with some room for Ohio and Virginia and all of them are in a major city/town. There are lots more RC churches as well as Lutheran (lots of settlers from Scandinavia and Germany) and some Episcopalian and others.  Why would it be reasonable to expect a person who has grown up and lived hundreds of miles from an EO church or person to know much or anything about the subject?  So if they see a church with candles and paintings and vestments, it's possible that the closest reference they have is something RC?

If you try telling a hard-core Serbian person who Christ REALLY is (loving, carring, wants you to take communion) they might flip a lid.  So it goes for anyone who has entrenched themselves in one view. 
Could you explain this a bit more, please?  The idea that someone would get upset with the information that Jesus is loving and caring etc is ummm alarming to me.  Thank you.

Ebor
 

Ebor

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calligraphqueen said:
Just pulling on the many lose threads of their faith while they are at your door isn't enough.  Most will walk away not even seeing their nakedness,
There's also the chance that the person talking to them is showing some missing threads or holes, as it were, depending on their attitude.

It's FAR easier to remain a protestant that drives a mercedes, lives in a million dollar home and a vacation home, and has the rapture to hang onto. 
??? :-\  I can't say that that description fits most of the people I know who belong to any kind of a Protestant Church.  It certainly doesn't apply to my family.

With respect,

Ebor
 

Ebor

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BoredMeeting said:
Just speaking for myself, I wasn't always a Christian and making the change sort of required revising my worldview just a tad.
And was it the case that making the change wasn't a matter of someone coming up to you, then calling you "willfully ignorant" if you didn't immediately agree?  That it took some time and effort to work things through? 

Ebor
 

Ebor

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Νεκτάριος said:
This is one of the best things posted on this forum, IMO.  Many Orthodox apologists seem to be lacking even basic respect for those whom they seek to convert. 
I agree with you on this, Nektarios.  Respecting another person leads to treating them with at least a modicum of charity and courtesy.  But I've seen too many cases of patronizing disdain for the "Other". 

Ebor
 

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Ebor said:
And was it the case that making the change wasn't a matter of someone coming up to you, then calling you "willfully ignorant" if you didn't immediately agree? 
It might have more impact it you asked that of someone who actually conducted themselves in such a manner, don't you think?  :-\
 

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What is it in Protestantism that resonates with these people and where are we failing?  That seems like a worthy question for consideration.
WIthout denying that something "resonates" with people converting to Protestantism, I would add that, particularly the Evangelicals, pur forth a strong marketing push for converts. I am not talking just about those people that knock on your door or stop you on the street. I am talking about marketing as in advertising, calling, appealing to the person. In fact the latter is the big one with Evangelicals. Come to Jesus and he'll meet your needs, heal your shame, get you a Cadillac, etc. It's great marketing and its focused on the person. Now even some Evangelical church services are tailored to appeal to "seekers." These services are light on theology and big on stage show type productions with music, skits, interpritive dance and preaching that comes right from the Comedy channel. This hyper focus on the individual removes primary focus from God. But it is appealing. Who doesn't like to attend a party, meeting, etc. where you are doted over, listened to, hugged.  (Please, I know I've been hugged, kissed and doted over in an Orthodox church but this was not the main reason that I attend Orthodox liturgy. My biggest appeal to me about Orthodoxy is it seeks to focus one energies toward God, the saints and the church and away from the person or individual. Not entirely, but I think you get my drift.  But I would go further to say that the focus on the individual is also an American cultural phenomenon. America was founded and built on rugged individualism. Our "icons" are the lone cowboy on the horse, easy rider on the motorcycle, the scrappy rags to riches millionaire. I do not know if we are failing so much as we are presenting, as someone noted earlier, a different brand of Orthodoxy. I am afraid that to some extent the brand that we represent is that a convert is a thoughtful person. Someone who has struggled with their faith and read about the history and sought more than the facile trappings of what passes for American Christianity and these people are a minority in this culture which wants everything fast and easy.
 
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