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What is Orthodoxy?

A Sombra

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To facilitate further discussion of this article as something largely separate from ecumenism, I have separated it from its parent thread, Ecumenism: Origins, History, Goals, etc., and moved it here.  -PtA


What is Orthodoxy?
By Archbishop Averky of Syracuse and Holy Trinity Monastery

On the first Sunday of the Great Fast our Church celebrates the triumph of Orthodoxy, the victory of true Christian teaching over all perversions and distortions thereof — heresies and false teachings. On the second Sunday of the Great Fast it is as though this triumph of Orthodoxy is repeated and deepened in connection with the celebration of the memory of one of the greatest pillars of Orthodoxy, the hierarch Gregory Palamas, Archbishop of Thessalonica, who by his grace-bearing eloquence and the example of his highly ascetic private life put to shame the teachers of falsehood who dared reject the very essence of.Orthodoxy, the podvig of prayer and fasting, which enlightens the human mind with the light of grace and makes it a communicant of the divine glory.

Alas! How few people there are in our times, even among the educated, and at times even among contemporary "theologians" and those in the ranks of the clergy, who understand correctly what Orthodoxy is and wherein its essence lies. They approach this question in an utterly external, formal manner and resolve it too primitively, even naively, overlooking its depths completely and not at all seeing the fullness of its spiritual contents.

The superficial opinion of the majority notwithstanding, Orthodoxy is not merely another of the many "Christian confessions" now in existence, or as it is expressed here in America "denominations." Orthodoxy is the true, undistorted, unperverted by any human sophistry or invention, genuine teaching of Christ in all its purity and fullness — the teaching of faith and piety which is life according to the Faith.

Orthodoxy is not only the sum total of dogmas accepted as true in a purely formal manner. It is not only theory, but practice; it is not only right Faith, but a life which agrees in everything with this Faith. The true Orthodox Christian is not only he who thinks in an Orthodox manner, but who feels according to Orthodoxy and lives Orthodoxy, who strives to embody the true Orthodox teaching of Christ in his life.

"The words that I speak unto you are spirit and life"—thus the Lord Jesus Christ spoke to His disciples of His divine teaching (Jn. 6: 63). Consequently, the teaching of Christ is not only abstract theory merely, cut off from life, but spirit and life. Therefore, only he who thinks Orthodoxy, feels Orthodoxy and lives Orthodoxy can be considered Orthodox in actuality.

At the same time one must realize and remember that Orthodoxy is not only and always that which is officially called "Orthodox," for in our false and evil times the appearance everywhere of pseudo-Orthodoxy which raises its head and is established in the world is an extremely grievous but, regrettably, an already unquestionable fact. This false Orthodoxy strives fiercely to substitute itself for true Orthodoxy, as in his time Antichrist will strive to supplant and replace Christ with himself.

Orthodoxy is not merely some type of purely earthly organization which is headed by patriarchs, bishops and priests who hold the ministry in the Church which officially is called "Orthodox." Orthodoxy is the mystical "Body of Christ," the Head of which is Christ Himself (see Eph. 1:22-23 and Col. 1:18, 24 et seq.), and its composition includes not only priests but all who truly believe in Christ, who have entered in a lawful way through Holy Baptism into the Church He founded, those living upon the earth and those who have died in the Faith and in piety.

The Orthodox Church is not any kind of "monopoly" or "business" of the clergy as think the ignorant and those alien to the spirit of the Church. It is not the patrimony of this or that hierarch or priest. It is the close-knit spiritual union of all who truly believe in Christ, who strive in a holy manner to keep the commandments of Christ with the sole aim of inheriting that eternal blessedness which Christ the Savior has prepared for us, and if they sin out of weakness, they sincerely repent and strive "to bring forth fruits worthy of repentance" (Lk. 3:8 ).

The Church, it is true, may not be removed completely from the world, for people enter her who are still living on the earth, and therefore the "earthly" element in her composition and external organization is unavoidable, yet the less of this "earthly" element there is, the better it will be for her eternal goals. In any case this "earthly" element should not obscure or suppress the purely spiritual element—the matter of salvation of the soul unto eternal life—for the sake of which the Church was both founded and exists.

The first and fundamental criterion, which we may use as a guide to distinguish the True Church of Christ from the false Churches (of which there are now so many!), is the fact that it has preserved the Truth intact, undistorted by human sophistries, for according to the Word of God, "the Church is the pillar and ground of truth" (I Tim. 3: 15), and therefore in her there can be no falsehood. Any which in its name officially proclaims or confirms any falsehood is already not the Church. Not only the higher servants of the Church, but the ranks of believing laymen must shun every falsehood, remembering the admonition of the Apostle: ''Wherefore, putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbor" (Eph. 4:25), or "Lie not to one another" (Col. 3:9). Christians must always remember that according to the words of Christ the Savior, lying is from the devil, who "is a liar, and the father of lies" (Jn. 8:44). And so, where there is falsehood there is not the True Orthodox Church of Christ! There is instead a false church which the holy visionary vividly and clearly depicted in his Apocalypse as "a great whore that sitteth upon many waters, with whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication" (Rev. 17:1-2).

Even in the Old Testament from the prophets of God we see that unfaithfulness to the True God frequently was represented by the image of adultery (see, for example, Ezek. 16:8-58, or 23:2-49). And it is terrifying for us not only to speak, but even to think that in our insane days we would have to observe not a few attempts to turn the very Church of Christ into a "brothel,"—and this not only in the above figurative sense, but also in the literal sense of this word, when it is so easy to justify oneself, fornication and every impurity are not even considered sins! We saw an example of this in the so-called "Living Churchmen" and "renovationists" in our unfortunate homeland after the Revolution, and now in the person of all the contemporary "modernists" who strive to lighten the easy yoke of Christ (Matt. 11:30) for themselves and betray the entire ascetic structure of our Holy Church, legalizing every transgression and moral impurity. To speak here about Orthodoxy, of course, is in no way proper despite the fact that the dogmas of the Faith remain untouched and unharmed!

True Orthodoxy, on the other hand, is alien to every dead formalism. In it there is no blind adherence to the "letter of the law," for it is "spirit and life." Where, from an external and purely formal point of view, everything seems quite correct and strictly legal, this does not mean that it is so in reality. In Orthodoxy there can be no place for Jesuitical casuistry; the favorite dictum of worldly jurists can. not be applied: "One may not trample upon the law—one must go around it."

Orthodoxy is the one and only Truth, the pure Truth, without any admixture or the least shadow of falsehood, lie, evil or fraud.

The most essential thing in Orthodoxy is the podvig of prayer and fasting which the Church particularly extols during the second week of the Great Fast as the double-edged "wondrous sword" by which we strike the enemies of our salvation—the dark demonic power. It is through this podvig that our soul is illumined with grace-bearing divine light, as teaches St. Gregory Palamas, who is 'triumphantly honored by the Holy Church on the second Sunday of the Great Fast. Glorifying his sacred memory, the Church calls this wondrous hierarch "the preacher of grace," "the beacon of the Light," "the preacher of the divine light," "an immovable pillar for the Church."

Christ the Savior Himself stressed the great significance of the podvig of prayer and fasting when His disciples found themselves unable to cast out demons from an unfortunate boy who was possessed. He told them clearly,`"This kind (of demon) goeth not out save by prayer and fasting" (Matt. 17:21). Interpreting this passage in the gospel narrative, our great patristic theologian-ascetic, the hierarch Theophan the Recluse asks, "May we think that where there is no prayer and fasting, there is a demon already?" And he replies, "We may. Demons, when entering into a person do not always betray their entry, but hide themselves, secretly teaching their hosts every evil and to turn aside every good. That person may be convinced that he is doing everything himself, while he is only carrying out the will of his enemy. Only take up prayer and fasting and the enemy will immediately leave and will wait elsewhere for an opportunity to return; and he really will return if prayer and fasting are soon abandoned" (Thoughts for Each Day of the Year, pp. 245-246).

From this a direct conclusion may be reached: where fasting and prayer are disregarded, neglected or completely set aside, there is no trace of Orthodoxy—there is the domain of demons who treat man as their own pathetic toy.

Behold, therefore, where all contemporary "modernism" leads, which demands "reform" in our Orthodox Church! All these liberal free thinkers and their lackies, who strive to belittle the significance of prayer and fasting, however much they shout and proclaim their alleged faithfulness to the dogmatic teaching of our Orthodox Church, cannot be considered really Orthodox, and have shown themselves to be apostates from Orthodoxy.

We will always remember that by itself totally formal Orthodoxy has no goal if it does not have "spirit and life"—and the "spirit and life" of Orthodoxy are first and foremost in the podvig of prayer and fasting; moreover, the genuine fasting of which the Church teaches is understood in this instance to be abstinence in every aspect, and not merely declining to taste non-Lenten foods.

Without podvig there is altogether no true Christianity, that is to say, Orthodoxy. See what Christ, the First Ascetic, Himself clearly says; "Whosoever will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me" (Mark 8:34). The true Christian, the Orthodox Christian, is only he who strives to emulate Christ in the bearing of the cross and is prepared to crucify himself in the Name of.Christ. The holy Apostles clearly taught this. Thus the Apostle Peter writes: "If when you do well and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is accepted with God. For even here unto were ye called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that we should follow his steps" (I Pet. 2:2-21). In precisely the same way the holy Apostle Paul says repeatedly in his epistles that all true Christians must be ascetics, and the ascetic labor o' the Christian consists of crucifying himself for the sake of Christ: "They that are Christians have crucified the flesh together with the passions and lusts" (Gal. 5:24). A favorite expression of St. Paul is that we must be crucified with Christ that we might rise with Him. He puts forth this thought in a variety of his sayings in many of his epistles.

You see, therefore, that one who loves only to spend time enjoying himself and does not think of self-denial and self-sacrifice, but continually wallows in every possible fleshly pleasure and delight is completely un-Orthodox, un-Christian. Concerning this the great ascetic of Christian antiquity, the Venerable Isaac the Syrian, taught well: "The way of God is a daily cross. No one ascends to heaven living cooly (i.e. comfortably, carefree, pleased with himself, without struggle). And of the cool path, we know where it ends" (Works, p. 158). This is that "wide and broad way" which, in the words of the Lord Himself, "leadeth to destruction" (Matt. 7:13).

This then is what is Orthodoxy, or True Christianity!

(Originally appeared in Orthodox Life, vol. 26, no. 3 (May-June, 1976), pp. 1-5. )
http://www.orthodox.net/articles/what-is-orthodoxy.html



Post edited to correct a character combination, "8 )" (with no space in between), that the text parser converted automatically to a smiley.  No other changes made.  -PtA. 
 

PeterTheAleut

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A Sombra said:
What is Orthodoxy?
By Archbishop Averky of Syracuse and Holy Trinity Monastery

...
Is the ascetic ideal of the Desert Fathers THE definition of Orthodoxy, or is it, when taken in isolation from what I call the incarnational view of Christian life, too narrow a view of the fullness of Orthodox faith and life?
 

PeterTheAleut

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PeterTheAleut said:
Is the ascetic ideal of the Desert Fathers THE definition of Orthodoxy, or is it, when taken in isolation from what I call the incarnational view of Christian life, too narrow a view of the fullness of Orthodox faith and life?
The following article may explain what I mean.

Father Alexander Men and Contemporary Culture
by Dr. Albert Raboteau

“In the world but not of the world,” this phrase encapsulates a perennial tension between the Church and culture. On the one hand, the incarnational character of the Church establishes her firmly in history, in this particular time, place, and culture. On the other, the sacramental character of the Church transcends time and space making present another world, the Kingdom of God, which is both here and now and yet still to come. Throughout the history of Christianity, the temptation to relax this tension has led Christians to represent the Church as an ethereal transcendent mystery unrelated and antithetical to human society and culture. Or, on the other hand, it has prompted Christians to so identify the Church with a particular society, culture, or ethnicity as to turn Christianity into a religious ideology. Because we are “not of the world” Christians stand over against culture when its values and behaviors contradict the living tradition of the Church. So it was that early Christians refused to conform to the world by honoring the emperor with a pinch of incense offered before his image. “Being in the world,” the Christian acts as a leaven within culture, trying to transform it by communicating to others the redemption brought by Christ. Thus the early Christian apologists stood within culture as they attempted to explain Christianity in the philosophical and cultural terms of their times and recognized within the culture adumbrations of Christian truth waiting to be revealed.

Listen to the words of a second century document, called the “Letter to Diognetus,” that poignantly describe the Christian’s cultural dilemma:

    Christians cannot be distinguished from the rest of the human race by country or language or customs. They do not live in cities of their own; they do not use a peculiar form of speech; they do not follow an eccentric manner of life. This doctrine of theirs has not been discovered by the ingenuity or deep thought of inquisitive men, nor do they put forward a merely human teaching, as some people do. Yet, although they live in Greed and barbarian cities alike... and follow the customs of the country in clothing and food and other matters of daily living, at the same time they give proof of their own commonwealth. They live in their own countries, but only as aliens. They have a share in everything as citizens, and endure everything as foreigners. Every foreign land is their fatherland, and yet for them every fatherland is a foreign land... They busy themselves on earth, but their citizenship is in heaven.

No less now, than then, we Christians continue to wrestle with our relationship to culture – an issue which Fr. Alexander Men thought about deeply. His life of active openness to the world and his historically informed reflections on the Christian’s engagement with the world offer us important resources for shaping our thought and action today.

In a talk on the role of the Church in the modern world, Fr. Men remarked:

    If we ask ourselves in all honesty whether the presence of Christians reflects the presence of Christ in the world, then our answer...will be negative. I am fully aware that in the heat of apologetic fervor many of us, especially neophytes, are eager to cast unbelievers in somber tones while equating the word “believer” with light. But these simplifications are possible only in the heat of such polemical rhetoric as: “black and white,” “ours and theirs,” “all bad and all good.” I rather believe that we need to go deeper, be more serious, and to have the courage to admit that to the question posed to us by society, the Church, that is, we Christians, do not answer adequately according to [the] criteria...[of] preaching, witness, and presence.... Such is the way of history. (About Christ and the Church, pp.55-56)

“Such is the way of history.” These words remind me of that touching scene in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, when Frodo, feeling the full dread of the task he has undertaken, turns to Gandalf and says, “Why was I born in such times as these?” And Gandalf with great kindness replies, “It is not ours to choose the times in which we live, but only to choose what we do in such times.” It is a mistake notion, both Gandalf and Fr. Men insist, to romanticize history, especially the history of Christianity, seeking to retreat to some golden age when society and culture where Christian. I remember a book I read as a college student entitled The Thirteenth the Greatest of Centuries. I sometimes hear comments decrying the current state of our country in comparison with some previous period when “America was a Christian nation.” I am tempted to reply, “And when, just exactly, was that?” Whether it is nostalgia for thirteenth-century medieval Europe, nineteenth-century Russia, or the “symphonia” of seventh-century Byzantium, the rose-tinted spectacles occlude too much fallibility, venality, and evil. As Fr. Alexander succinctly put it:

    Only short-sighted people imagine that Christianity has already happened, that it took place, say, in the thirteenth century, or the fourth, or some other time. I would say it has only made the first hesitant steps in the history of the human race. Many words of Christ are still incomprehensible to us even now, because we are still Neanderthals in spirit and morals; because the arrow of the Gospels is aimed at eternity; because the history of Christianity is only beginning. What has happened already, what we now call the history of Christianity, are the first half-clumsy, unsuccessful attempts to make it a reality.” (Christianity for the Twenty-First Century, p. 185)

Why do we have this tendency toward nostalgia? In a word, fear. The desire for simple solutions, the need to see things in black and white, as us vs. them, the Church vs. the world, rather than the Church for the world, is rooted in the difficulty of living the paradox of being in the world but not of the world. Fear pushes us to abandon one side for the other.

Fr. Men made a famous contrast between two stances of Christians to the world, one open, one closed. The open stance is represented by Dostoevsky’s elder Zossima, who is gentle, loving, embracing of people and creation. He sends Alyosha back into the world from the monastery to deal with his dysfunctional family. Zossima’s opposite, Elder Ferrapont is a rigorous ascetic, who condemns the laxity of the former and vindictively celebrates his apparent victory over his opponent when the corpse of the deceased staretz starts to stink – a sign of corruption instead of sanctity. Now most of us prefer Zossima over Ferrapont, but Fr. Men, showing the capaciousness of spirit that ought to our model moves beyond the literary antithesis created by Dostoevsky to offer a profound reflection upon the contrapuntal traditions within Christianity. We need both asceticism and compassion. He points to St. Seraphim of Sarov and the elders of Optina as exemplars of those who choose not to simply embrace the world, nor to use Christianity as a stick with which to beat the world over the head.

How does this play out in practice for us in the present?

In regard to the issue of pluralism, which seems so threatening to our religious identity when we reduce it to relativism, Fr. Men has some interesting, we might say radical ideas. His wide-ranging study of world religions led him not to condemn them but to look at the good within them and to claim that Christianity is exceptional only in the person of Christ, who is God’s answer to the religious hunger of mankind expressed in other religions. He is even so bold as to suggest that the divisions within Christianity may be part of God’s plan to ensure pluralism within our fallible human history lest we turn the Church into a monolithic idol and reduce the Gospel to an ideology of national or ethnic pride.

He argues strenuously, moreover, that pluralism is a fact of life and that the “secular state, which equally defends the rights of Buddhists and Hindus, agnostics and Baptists in a society where many peoples live and there are tens of millions of believers there can of course be no other way.” Toleration is based not solely on political necessity but on freedom of conscience:

    All our people will benefit from the secularization of the state. The government, by guarding the holy of holies within man – his convictions and his freedom of conscience – is helping to unite the citizens in a unity based on religious tolerance. (Christianity for the Twenty-First Century, p. 137.)

Coming out of the Soviet experience he was fully aware that “the terrible experience of dictatorship in the twentieth century may...serve as a lesson to us believers...It enables us to see from the side what spiritual tyranny looks like...This experience should lead us to refuse the very idea of state religion.” (Ibid, p. 136.)

Religious pluralism, then, need not be accepted as a license for relativism or a secularization of culture. Indeed, Fr. Men saw pluralism as the grounds for ecumenical cooperation. “We need the combined efforts of people of different views sharing the same ground which unites believers and non-believers. That common ground is the revival of law and order, compassion, the protection and development of cultural heritage.” (Ibid., p. 146.) Pluralism does not represent a capitulation to mass culture but an opportunity for presenting our faith. “The way to combat [the evils of mass culture] is not by prohibitions but by making the best works available to people. You can’t graft on taste by making prohibitions. This is true of all aspects and manifestations of culture. What is bad must be combated by affirming what is valuable, enriching, beautiful.” (Ibid, p. 150)

Offering a strong critique of materialism, he argued that people are hungry for what Christianity has to offer and that is simply the authentic within Christianity, the Gospel. Realization of this profound fact should lead the Christian not to triumphalism, but to repentance. For church history teaches us that what we have preached so often has not been the Gospel, but ourselves. Ultimately, we have confidence, not in ourselves but in the Spirit, who will achieve the transformation within us and within our culture. Let me end my remarks with another quotation from Fr. Men’s words, a source of hope and humility, as we, like Frodo, face the times in which we live and choose what to do within them.

    And now, if we are to speak of the future, let us pose this question to ourselves: “What does God require of us in the remaining time, which, we, that is the Church, should focus our attention on precisely now, in these days?”

        * Preaching. This means we have to find a common language with the people of our time, not identifying with them completely, yet not isolating ourselves from them behind an archaic wall. We have to state anew, almost as if for the first time, all those questions which are placed before us by the Gospel.
        * Witness. This means that we still have to determine – if we have not yet determined – our life’s goal, to find our place in life, our place not in the usual sense of the word, but in our relationship to all of life’s problems.
        * And finally, Presence. This means we must learn how to pray at all times and deepen our experience of the Mysteries, so that our witness may not be a witness about ideology but of the living presence of God in us.

    It seems to me that the problems of the future can be entirely approached from these three points... If we witness to Christ and the Gospel, if we live in His Spirit, then in some measure we will participate in what He envisaged, and His aim was never to abandon this earth. He accomplishes this even without man, but He desires that it be accomplished with the participation of man. This means that we will act together with Him. And it follows, that then everything else necessary will take place. Through such an approach, each culture will be the beneficiary only of good. (About Christ and the Church, pp. 64-65.)

May it be so!


http://www.alexandermen.com/Father_Alexander_Men_and_Contemporary_Culture
 

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  QUOTE: Is the ascetic ideal of the Desert Fathers THE definition of Orthodoxy, or is it, when taken in isolation from what I call the incarnational view of Christian life, too narrow a view of the fullness of Orthodox faith and life?

    In my experience, those who ask this question usually want to greatly de-emphasize (if not do away with altogether...) the "ascetic ideal," and emphasize the "incarnational view," or, "Being in the world."
    While Vladika Averky states: "The superficial opinion of the majority notwithstanding, Orthodoxy is not merely another of the many "Christian confessions" now in existence, or as it is expressed here in America "denominations." Orthodoxy is the true, undistorted, unperverted by any human sophistry or invention, genuine teaching of Christ in all its purity and fullness — the teaching of faith and piety which is life according to the Faith," Mr. Raboteau seems to counter Vl;adika Averky with Fr. Men's "discovery" that "the divisions within Christianity may be part of God’s plan to ensure pluralism within our fallible human history lest we turn the Church into a monolithic idol and reduce the Gospel to an ideology of national or ethnic pride."
    This is typical of the modernist, ecumenist view that has taken over most of what is referred to as "World Orthodoxy." This viewpoint always stresses that "Only short-sighted people imagine that Christianity has already happened, that it took place, say, in the thirteenth century, or the fourth, or some other time," yet, doing so, they also always tell us to "Listen to the words of a second century document...;" an OCA priest I knew was always focusing on the third century; his colleague in a nearby town favored the fourth century...but, the most important point for them is to get the message across is that what we Orthodox need now, today,  is to listen to the new prophets on "the role of the Church in the modern world." Who are these "new prophets?" While we are told that Christ is the same, yesterday, today, amd always, the new prophets change reglarly about every decade or so. Whether it is Father Sergius Bulgakov and his Sophianism (which was condemned as heresy by both the Moscow Patriarchate and the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad), or whether it  was his heirs in the "tradition" of "Parisian Orthodoxy," (who asked a lot of the same questions that Fr. Men asked...) who all ended up at Saint Vladimir's Seminary, or the likes of Father Alexander Men and his coterie, ...all these people stress what THE Church of Christ, The Holy Orthodox Church, lacks, what it has lost over the centuries, what it needs now from "modern man," and, most particularly, what it needs FROM THE NEW PROPHETS. Whether it is "renovationism" from the right or the left, we are told over and over again that the Church of Christ, having lost this or that, or having strayed here or there, now MUST listen to the only people who have "the way out," the only ones who can "reconcile the female and male elements of the deity," or can "renew the Liturgy," or can show us how to "sanctify creation," or how to overcome this or that quandary that is the academic fashion of the day-the NEW PROPHETS! Only when we listen to them, can the Church become "relevant," or "overcome cultural dilemmas," or overcome "shortsightedness,"-and then 5 or 10 years later, the nexy academic fashion comes along, the "new prophets" of the previous decade are compeltely forgotten, and the Church faces NEW problems that only another set of new prophets can answer for us, the lowly uneducated ones who can only be guided out of our ignorance by THESE new prophets.
    The Gospel tells us that the gates of hell shall jot prevail against the Church of Christ, but the new prophets tell us that the gates of hell HAVE prevailed aginst the Church of Christ, and the only way BACK to the Church is through their wisdom. They will tell us what is missing, what is needed, which Fathers have been "misinterpreted," how to "interpret" them, etc., etc., etc.
    Archbishop Averky seems to me to focus on what the Church, what Orthodoxy IS, what it DOES; while Dr. Raboteau (and all the new prophets) focus on what is "missing."
    And, I must disagree-this DOES belong in the Ecumenism thread, because Archbishop Averky tells exactly where the new prophets lead us:

    "Behold, therefore, where all contemporary "modernism" leads, which demands "reform" in our Orthodox Church! All these liberal free thinkers and their lackies, who strive to belittle the significance of prayer and fasting, however much they shout and proclaim their alleged faithfulness to the dogmatic teaching of our Orthodox Church, cannot be considered really Orthodox, and have shown themselves to be apostates from Orthodoxy."

    You tell us that Archbishop Averky's essay has "little to do with ecumenism," yet you "counter" Vladika Averky with Father Men, who stresses the importance of pluralism "as the grounds for ecumenical cooperation."

Now Father Men (or is it Dr. Raboteau?) tells us that short sighted and nostalgic people are fearful, and can embrace only simple solutions, have the need to see things in black and white, look at things as as "us vs. them, the Church vs. the world, rather than the Church for the world." So that the question (and of course the answer...) can be put to us:

    “What does God require of us in the remaining time, which, we, that is the Church, should focus our attention on precisely now, in these days?”

    If one cannot address this question, if one needs an Father Sergius Bulgakov, a Father Alexander Schmemann,  a Father Alexander men,  or an Ecumenical  Patriarchate steeped in modernism and ecumenism to address this question for them, or the next theological fashion that comes along to address it for them, their education in Orthodoxy is certainly lacking.

  Hopefully I can get a copy of "The Onotological Connection between the Hermenutics of Frodo and Bilbo in Light of the Post Modernism of the Concept of the Transcendence of Gollum as the Ring-Bearer" to post next. It is pretty hard to come across, though....
 

PeterTheAleut

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A Sombra said:
    In my experience, those who ask this question usually want to greatly de-emphasize (if not do away with altogether...) the "ascetic ideal," and emphasize the "incarnational view," or, "Being in the world."
Do they really want this, or is this your judgment of only what meets your eye?

    While Vladika Averky states: "The superficial opinion of the majority notwithstanding, Orthodoxy is not merely another of the many "Christian confessions" now in existence, or as it is expressed here in America "denominations." Orthodoxy is the true, undistorted, unperverted by any human sophistry or invention, genuine teaching of Christ in all its purity and fullness — the teaching of faith and piety which is life according to the Faith,"
And why is Archbishop Averky--as truly spiritual a man as there may be in 20th Century America, no doubt--THE authority on what is Orthodox, what is the "genuine teaching of Christ in all its purity and fullness", and what is not?

Mr. Raboteau seems to counter Vl;adika Averky with Fr. Men's "discovery" that "the divisions within Christianity may be part of God’s plan to ensure pluralism within our fallible human history lest we turn the Church into a monolithic idol and reduce the Gospel to an ideology of national or ethnic pride."
    This is typical of the modernist, ecumenist view that has taken over most of what is referred to as "World Orthodoxy."
"Modernist"  "Ecumenist"  Such labels as one usually reserves for his "adversaries" in the faith, those who would actually challenge us to think about and articulate why we believe what we believe.  You fear anything that will challenge your simplistic, black and white view of the world, so you condemn as modernists and ecumenists those who question this status quo.

This viewpoint always stresses that "Only short-sighted people imagine that Christianity has already happened, that it took place, say, in the thirteenth century, or the fourth, or some other time," yet, doing so, they also always tell us to "Listen to the words of a second century document...;"
Is there something wrong with this?  That one would seek the wisdom of St. Ignatius of Antioch just as much as they would the wisdom of St. Ignatius Brianchaninov?

an OCA priest I knew was always focusing on the third century; his colleague in a nearby town favored the fourth century...but, the most important point for them is to get the message across is that what we Orthodox need now, today,  is to listen to the new prophets on "the role of the Church in the modern world." Who are these "new prophets?" While we are told that Christ is the same, yesterday, today, amd always, the new prophets change reglarly about every decade or so. Whether it is Father Sergius Bulgakov and his Sophianism (which was condemned as heresy by both the Moscow Patriarchate and the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad), or whether it  was his heirs in the "tradition" of "Parisian Orthodoxy," (who asked a lot of the same questions that Fr. Men asked...) who all ended up at Saint Vladimir's Seminary, or the likes of Father Alexander Men and his coterie, ...all these people stress what THE Church of Christ, The Holy Orthodox Church, lacks, what it has lost over the centuries, what it needs now from "modern man," and, most particularly, what it needs FROM THE NEW PROPHETS. Whether it is "renovationism" from the right or the left, we are told over and over again that the Church of Christ, having lost this or that, or having strayed here or there, now MUST listen to the only people who have "the way out," the only ones who can "reconcile the female and male elements of the deity," or can "renew the Liturgy," or can show us how to "sanctify creation," or how to overcome this or that quandary that is the academic fashion of the day-the NEW PROPHETS! Only when we listen to them, can the Church become "relevant," or "overcome cultural dilemmas," or overcome "shortsightedness,"-and then 5 or 10 years later, the nexy academic fashion comes along, the "new prophets" of the previous decade are compeltely forgotten, and the Church faces NEW problems that only another set of new prophets can answer for us, the lowly uneducated ones who can only be guided out of our ignorance by THESE new prophets.
    The Gospel tells us that the gates of hell shall jot prevail against the Church of Christ, but the new prophets tell us that the gates of hell HAVE prevailed aginst the Church of Christ, and the only way BACK to the Church is through their wisdom. They will tell us what is missing, what is needed, which Fathers have been "misinterpreted," how to "interpret" them, etc., etc., etc.
And right we are to be skeptical of them, too.  Critical thinking and the investigative questioning such thinking requires certainly cuts both ways.

    Archbishop Averky seems to me to focus on what the Church, what Orthodoxy IS, what it DOES; while Dr. Raboteau (and all the new prophets) focus on what is "missing."
    And, I must disagree-this DOES belong in the Ecumenism thread, because Archbishop Averky tells exactly where the new prophets lead us:

    "Behold, therefore, where all contemporary "modernism" leads, which demands "reform" in our Orthodox Church! All these liberal free thinkers and their lackies, who strive to belittle the significance of prayer and fasting, however much they shout and proclaim their alleged faithfulness to the dogmatic teaching of our Orthodox Church, cannot be considered really Orthodox, and have shown themselves to be apostates from Orthodoxy."

    You tell us that Archbishop Averky's essay has "little to do with ecumenism," yet you "counter" Vladika Averky with Father Men, who stresses the importance of pluralism "as the grounds for ecumenical cooperation."
Again, why is Vladyka Averky such an authority on things Orthodox?  We don't even recognize St. John Chrysostom as infallible, though we certainly don't question his authority as a deeply spiritual teacher.

Now Father Men (or is it Dr. Raboteau?) tells us that short sighted and nostalgic people are fearful, and can embrace only simple solutions, have the need to see things in black and white, look at things as as "us vs. them, the Church vs. the world, rather than the Church for the world."
Well, reading the anger and crass disdain you've made quite obvious in many of your posts, I have to think that maybe Fr. Men is on target with this assessment.

So that the question (and of course the answer...) can be put to us:

    “What does God require of us in the remaining time, which, we, that is the Church, should focus our attention on precisely now, in these days?”

    If one cannot address this question, if one needs an Father Sergius Bulgakov, a Father Alexander Schmemann,  a Father Alexander men,  or an Ecumenical  Patriarchate steeped in modernism and ecumenism to address this question for them, or the next theological fashion that comes along to address it for them, their education in Orthodoxy is certainly lacking.
YOU and YOU ALONE have decided what thread of Orthodoxy you are going to follow and what threads you are going to reject and condemn as "modernist" and "ecumenist".  You don't need Vladyka Averky to define this for you, though you have chosen to follow his wisdom, apparently since he echoes your sentiment.  The question I ask is:  Why have YOU chosen this traditionalist brand of Orthodoxy?

  Hopefully I can get a copy of "The Onotological Connection between the Hermenutics of Frodo and Bilbo in Light of the Post Modernism of the Concept of the Transcendence of Gollum as the Ring-Bearer" to post next. It is pretty hard to come across, though....
What?  You don't like Lord of the Rings? ;)
 
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