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Where Is Dogma?

Almost_Orthodox

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Well, it's been a wonderful four months since my chrismation. What a joy to be in the true Church!

I am now in a learning curve and working hard to drop all my Western presuppositions and false ideas about God and the Church. As such, I will be having questions and looking for help.

Here's my question du jour -- where do we find the dogma which we are required to believe in order to be good, faithful, and obedient Orthodox believers? The Roman Catholics and the Eastern Catholics (--Ainnir) both have their Catechism which lays things out very directly for them, page by tedious page. As I understand it (correct me if I am wrong) there is no such formal catechism in Orthodoxy.

Yes, I do understand that several bishops and priests in the Church wrote catechetical material for their people, but I have been told that these various books do not represent an official catechism per se such as the RC church has.

Would it be correct to say that the best we can do is the Nicene Creed and the Seven Ecumenical Councils?

Thanks for all your feedback.
 
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WR-News

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Catechism of Saint Philaret, Confession of Dositheus, and the Confession of Saint Peter Mogila are all accepted and approved by the Church at large. Everything you need is in there and they're pretty much official as it can get.
 

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You should follow @WR-News , but if you're looking for a more general outlook I strongly recommend the second chapter of the second part of The Orthodox Church. If you can't find it in English, maybe you can read it here, from the Portuguese translation back into English. It doesn't look very good, but you'll get a good grasp. Metropolitan Kallistos has unfortunately adopted some very Western ideas after decades teaching in Oxford, so some people will even recommend just the first or first two editions of this book, but at least on the link I'm providing there's nothing odd.

An important notion to hold, and this is a common teaching with Roman Catholics, is that the source of faith is Holy Tradition in general, of which formal sources are manifestations. One big difference is that we have a more passive attitude towards these formal sources, and I'd say this make the idea of living Holy Tradition more real.
 

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Well, it's been a wonderful four months since my chrismation. What a joy to be in the true Church!

I am now in a learning curve and working hard to drop all my Western presuppositions and false ideas about God and the Church. As such, I will be having questions and looking for help.
Glory to God—ask away! You will almost certainly get answers. Some might even be reasonably correct!

Here's my question du jour -- where do we find the dogma which we are required to believe in order to be good, faithful, and obedient Orthodox believers? The Roman Catholics and the Eastern Catholics (--Ainnir) both have their Catechism which lays things out very directly for them, page by tedious page. As I understand it (correct me if I am wrong) there is no such formal catechism in Orthodoxy.

Yes, I do understand that several bishops and priests in the Church wrote catechetical material for their people, but I have been told that these various books do not represent an official catechism per se such as the RC church has.

Would it be correct to say that the best we can do is the Nicene Creed and the Seven Ecumenical Councils?

Thanks for all your feedback.
I can't vouch for the other sources mentioned here for various reasons (eg, I haven't studied St Peter Moghila and am just coming (last 3 years or so) to radically reappraise most of Met Kallistos's introductory works, especially the parts that "everyone agrees on"—which are most certainly wrong), though you can start simpler: the Nicene Creed. It's amazing how relevant the Creed is, even today, in heading off new heresies. There is very little (especially at the beginning and middle stages) that you cannot get from deeper and deeper study of the Creed.

More broadly, it should be noted that there *cannot* be a complete positive statement about orthodox Christian truth because, for us, truth is not merely a set of propositions but first and foremost a Person: Jesus Christ. So, short of a relationship with Christ, pretty much everything we have is "negative", like defining things as heresy. That is higher than the Creed, in a very real way, because it precludes certain interpretations and understandings of the Creed. It may be useful to study some of that, in time. But mostly just stick with lives of saints, the Creed, and "what you can handle", keep all the fasts and canons strictly, and pray more than you speak or argue.
 
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xariskai

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"most of Met Kallistos's introductory works, especially the parts that "everyone agrees on"-are most certainly wrong"
Most of Met Kallistos' works are wrong "especially the parts everyone agrees on"?? (I'm presuming you are referring to The Orthodox Church and The Orthodox Way). Care to elaborate? Seems also like your saying you're more discerning than "everyone" in the Church -a rather dangerous assumption for most mortals I would think.
 
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I believe an excellent brief, and with depth, book on Orthodoxy was written in the late 1970s by the late Archbishop Paul of Finland.

 

J Michael

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I can't vouch for the other sources mentioned here for various reasons (eg, I haven't studied St Peter Moghila and am just coming (last 3 years or so) to radically reappraise most of Met Kallistos's introductory works, especially the parts that "everyone agrees on"—which are most certainly wrong),
In agreement with xariskai, I think some clarification on that is in order. That *is* somewhat of bold statement.
 

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should be noted that there *cannot* be a complete positive statement about orthodox Christian truth because, for us, truth is not merely a set of propositions but first and foremost a Person: Jesus Christ.

But mostly just stick with lives of saints, the Creed, and "what you can handle", keep all the fasts and canons strictly, and pray more than you speak or argue.
I agree with the first part above.

The second part “ keep all the fasts and cannons strictly “ does not seem to be advice for a baby/ novice. The “ strictly “ part is troublesome and can be a stumbling block.

“Pray more than speaking or arguing” is good.
Someone told me to make sure I’m praying more than reading. That’s a good balance for me.
 

dcommini

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I agree with the first part above.

The second part “ keep all the fasts and cannons strictly “ does not seem to be advice for a baby/ novice. The “ strictly “ part is troublesome and can be a stumbling block.
Yes, it can be quite daunting for novices to the faith, and even for those that have been Orthodox for a while. I believe that it is important to talk with your priest about such things. I remember when I was just meeting with a priest to basically begin my catechumenate; we would sit and talk over a cup of coffee. At our first meeting, I had pretty much already made up my mind that I was going to convert, and I had ordered a simple black coffee because it was Wednesday. The priest ordered a latte. After that, he told me to pace myself when it comes to a prayer rule and fasting.

“Pray more than speaking or arguing” is good.
Someone told me to make sure I’m praying more than reading. That’s a good balance for me.
But I read when I pray... I would definitely use this as making sure that I pray more than I browse social media.
 

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Someone told me that the Orthodox Dogma is in the Liturgy and all the Church services all year long. This is our ongoing Catechesis. Attend as many services possible and the early prayers which cycle in the lives of the Saints! This teaching is obviously balanced with prayer so it’s perfect. It’s worship and thanksgiving to God and we receive the Truth and grace to live out what we learn. Glory to God !
 

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But I read when I pray... I would definitely use this as making sure that I pray more than I browse social media.
Ok that’s fair!😀 I think it meant praying more than reading *informational* or intellectual books , not our devotional prayers books!
 
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xariskai

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Bizzlebin said:
keep all the fasts and canons strictly
The second part “ keep all the fasts and cannons strictly “ does not seem to be advice for a baby/ novice. The “ strictly “ part is troublesome and can be a stumbling block.
Indeed, but applies to the rest of us as well. Probably necessary for the sake of reader's safety as well as sanity to avoid Bizzlebin's unqualified advice in this thread.

Concerning the canons Fr. John Meyerendorff remarked "no one seems to absolutize all of them."[1] Not outside of internet-doxy at least ;)

Yes, it can be quite daunting for novices to the faith, and even for those that have been Orthodox for a while. I believe that it is important to talk with your priest about such things.
For sure. Important may even be an understatement in this regard. It is not only false but dangerous to simply advise everyone in a generic and unqualified manner to "keep all the fasts... strictly" without even so much a passing reference to the teaching of our entire tradition regarding:

"Exceptions...
"The Church has always exempted small children, the sick, the very old, and pregnant and nursing mothers from strict fasting. While people in these groups should not seriously restrict the amount that they eat, no harm will come from doing without some foods on two days out of the week — simply eat enough of the permitted foods. Exceptions to the fast based on medical necessity (as with diabetes) are always allowed"[2]

Also as dcommini alludes, the usual recommendation in the Orthodox Church emphasizes the essential need for personal guidance:
"Though few laymen are able to keep the rule in its fullness, it seems best to present it mostly without judgement of what level is “appropriate” for the laity, since this is a matter best worked out in each Christian’s own setting, under the guidance of his spiritual fathers."ibid

_________________________
[1]From https://www.goarch.org/-/the-canonical-tradition-of-the-orthodox-church

"The Characteristics of the Church's Law
Applicability of Canon Law

"Any discussion of the characteristics of the Church's law must necessarily address the question of the applicability of the holy canons to today's realities. Viewpoints expressed on this vital issue range from one extreme to the other, and are mutually exclusive. On the one hand, there are those who revere the letter of the canons. But as has already been remarked, "no one seems to absolutize all of them" John Meyendorff, "Contemporary Problems of Orthodox Canon Law," The Greek Orthodox Theological Review 17 (1972): 41.) Then there are those who deny the relevancy of the entire body of canons in its present state. Obviously, both views leave little room for a conciliatory approach but rather tend to polarize.

"In order to effect a rapprochement between the widely divergent views just mentioned, the question must first be asked: How were the holy canons meant to be understood? Nicholas Afanasiev, in his article entitled "The Canons of the Church: Changeable or Unchangeable?" offers a formula which might be acceptable to all factions, (St. Vladimir's Theological Quarterly 11(1967) 54-68.):
"Canons are a kind of canonical interpretation of the dogmas for a particular moment of the Church's historical existence... They express the truth about the order of Church life, but rather than expressing this truth in absolute forms, they conform to historical existence" Ibid., p. 60
"Such a formula recognizes the absolute validity of all the canons as practical aids which gave expression to doctrinal truths at some point in history. Some of these aids, however, it sees as having outlived the purpose for which they were originally intended, i.e., they are conditioned by time. Consequently, they cannot give expression to doctrine without causing distortion, simply because they were intended for another era. This, of course, cannot be said of all the canons, since there are many which express doctrine as clearly today as when they were first adopted by the Church. Therefore, while some canons continue to reflect doctrine in practice, others do not and must be seen in historical context in order to be understood. The following example will illustrate this point."

[2]https://www.pravmir.com/the-fasting-rules-in-the-orthodox-church/
 

dcommini

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Indeed, but applies to the rest of us as well. Probably necessary for the sake of reader's safety as well as sanity to avoid Bizzlebin's unqualified advice in this thread.

Concerning the canons Fr. John Meyerendorff remarked "no one seems to absolutize all of them."[1] Not outside of internet-doxy at least ;)

For sure. Important may even be an understatement in this regard. It is not only false but dangerous to simply advise everyone in a generic and unqualified manner to "keep all the fasts... strictly" without even so much a passing reference to the teaching of our entire tradition regarding:

"Exceptions...
"The Church has always exempted small children, the sick, the very old, and pregnant and nursing mothers from strict fasting. While people in these groups should not seriously restrict the amount that they eat, no harm will come from doing without some foods on two days out of the week — simply eat enough of the permitted foods. Exceptions to the fast based on medical necessity (as with diabetes) are always allowed"[2]

Also as dcommini alludes, the usual recommendation in the Orthodox Church emphasizes the essential need for personal guidance:
"Though few laymen are able to keep the rule in its fullness, it seems best to present it mostly without judgement of what level is “appropriate” for the laity, since this is a matter best worked out in each Christian’s own setting, under the guidance of his spiritual fathers."ibid
To further add to what I have stated, you have quoted and expounded upon...

My sister and nieces have a lot of food allergies. And I do mean a lot. So many, in fact, that our priest has basically lifted the fasting restrictions for them because it is hard (and not financially feasible for her) to try to find foods - especially fasting foods - that don't have their allergens. And, on top of the overabundance of allergies, they also have a plethora of medical issues as well, which fasting has exacerbated before.

It can be awfully hard to live with them, not because my brother and I have to tiptoe around their allergies, but because they will often cook us food during fasts (because they are already cooking and decide to make enough for everybody), and those foods often aren't fast-friendly.
 

J Michael

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Indeed, but applies to the rest of us as well. Probably necessary for the sake of reader's safety as well as sanity to avoid Bizzlebin's unqualified advice in this thread.

Concerning the canons Fr. John Meyerendorff remarked "no one seems to absolutize all of them."[1] Not outside of internet-doxy at least ;)

For sure. Important may even be an understatement in this regard. It is not only false but dangerous to simply advise everyone in a generic and unqualified manner to "keep all the fasts... strictly" without even so much a passing reference to the teaching of our entire tradition regarding:

"Exceptions...
"The Church has always exempted small children, the sick, the very old, and pregnant and nursing mothers from strict fasting. While people in these groups should not seriously restrict the amount that they eat, no harm will come from doing without some foods on two days out of the week — simply eat enough of the permitted foods. Exceptions to the fast based on medical necessity (as with diabetes) are always allowed"[2]

Also as dcommini alludes, the usual recommendation in the Orthodox Church emphasizes the essential need for personal guidance:
"Though few laymen are able to keep the rule in its fullness, it seems best to present it mostly without judgement of what level is “appropriate” for the laity, since this is a matter best worked out in each Christian’s own setting, under the guidance of his spiritual fathers."ibid

_________________________
[1]From https://www.goarch.org/-/the-canonical-tradition-of-the-orthodox-church

"The Characteristics of the Church's Law
Applicability of Canon Law

"Any discussion of the characteristics of the Church's law must necessarily address the question of the applicability of the holy canons to today's realities. Viewpoints expressed on this vital issue range from one extreme to the other, and are mutually exclusive. On the one hand, there are those who revere the letter of the canons. But as has already been remarked, "no one seems to absolutize all of them" John Meyendorff, "Contemporary Problems of Orthodox Canon Law," The Greek Orthodox Theological Review 17 (1972): 41.) Then there are those who deny the relevancy of the entire body of canons in its present state. Obviously, both views leave little room for a conciliatory approach but rather tend to polarize.

"In order to effect a rapprochement between the widely divergent views just mentioned, the question must first be asked: How were the holy canons meant to be understood? Nicholas Afanasiev, in his article entitled "The Canons of the Church: Changeable or Unchangeable?" offers a formula which might be acceptable to all factions, (St. Vladimir's Theological Quarterly 11(1967) 54-68.):

"Such a formula recognizes the absolute validity of all the canons as practical aids which gave expression to doctrinal truths at some point in history. Some of these aids, however, it sees as having outlived the purpose for which they were originally intended, i.e., they are conditioned by time. Consequently, they cannot give expression to doctrine without causing distortion, simply because they were intended for another era. This, of course, cannot be said of all the canons, since there are many which express doctrine as clearly today as when they were first adopted by the Church. Therefore, while some canons continue to reflect doctrine in practice, others do not and must be seen in historical context in order to be understood. The following example will illustrate this point."

[2]https://www.pravmir.com/the-fasting-rules-in-the-orthodox-church/


With regard to "keep all the...canons strictly", I can't help but wonder how many Orthodox Christians a) have access to all the canons in their native language, b) have read them, and c) have understood them as they are "meant" to be understood (whatever *that* means!).
 

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At our first meeting, I had pretty much already made up my mind that I was going to convert, and I had ordered a simple black coffee because it was Wednesday. The priest ordered a latte. After that, he told me to pace myself when it comes to a prayer rule and fasting.
Genius move if he did it on purpose.
 

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To further add to what I have stated, you have quoted and expounded upon...

My sister and nieces have a lot of food allergies. And I do mean a lot. So many, in fact, that our priest has basically lifted the fasting restrictions for them because it is hard (and not financially feasible for her) to try to find foods - especially fasting foods - that don't have their allergens. And, on top of the overabundance of allergies, they also have a plethora of medical issues as well, which fasting has exacerbated before.

It can be awfully hard to live with them, not because my brother and I have to tiptoe around their allergies, but because they will often cook us food during fasts (because they are already cooking and decide to make enough for everybody), and those foods often aren't fast-friendly.
At the risk of stating something that might be obvious to many here already, I'm reminded of my (Orthodox) former priest advising us that accepting foods that aren't fast-friendly when offered to us by a host trumps adhering "strictly" to the fast.
 

dcommini

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Genius move if he did it on purpose.
He did not, unfortunately. I had arrived early and ordered my coffee before he got there. When he sat down, he took a sip of his and gave a sigh of pleasure. Then he asked what kind of coffee I got, and when I told him just a black coffee he asked why I would get a black coffee from a coffee shop that had so many other options. When I explained to him that I was trying to do the fast, he told me that I should be taking it easy with the fasting and praying as I wasn't yet Orthodox and may burn myself out before even being Chrismated. And then he told me he had ordered a latte.
 

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He did not, unfortunately. I had arrived early and ordered my coffee before he got there. When he sat down, he took a sip of his and gave a sigh of pleasure. Then he asked what kind of coffee I got, and when I told him just a black coffee he asked why I would get a black coffee from a coffee shop that had so many other options. When I explained to him that I was trying to do the fast, he told me that I should be taking it easy with the fasting and praying as I wasn't yet Orthodox and may burn myself out before even being Chrismated. And then he told me he had ordered a latte.
Ah, but was the "milk" in the latte from a cow?
 

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At the risk of stating something that might be obvious to many here already, I'm reminded of my (Orthodox) former priest advising us that accepting foods that aren't fast-friendly when offered to us by a host trumps adhering "strictly" to the fast.
Yes, I do this quite freely. I don't advertise that I'd like something, but I do freely accept whatever food is offered to me.

When I went to Ladyminster last year during the Dormition Fast, they being Western Rite apparently kept the fast a bit differently, so I did not complain or say "But it's a fast!" I followed whatever the abbot had directed for us Oblates to do.
 

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I agree with the first part above.

The second part “ keep all the fasts and cannons strictly “ does not seem to be advice for a baby/ novice. The “ strictly “ part is troublesome and can be a stumbling block.

“Pray more than speaking or arguing” is good.
Someone told me to make sure I’m praying more than reading. That’s a good balance for me.
Fasting is written into canon law, so if one wanted to move to catechuman to communicant, then broke the fasting rules, they'd practically be back to the status of catechuman (it gets technical with categories like the weepers and the listeners and such, but either way they will not be communing). My first presbyter (OCA) was very comfortable with people jumping into the fasts right away (so long as we were also praying), as that is the traditional practice: Lent was originally for catechumans! So I guess I do not understand why *anyone* (if they were praying regularly, were not in an exempted group like the infirm, etc) would be discouraged from keeping the fast, and it would be against the canons to abusively *command* a practicing communicant not to keep the fasts.
 

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Fasting is written into canon law, so if one wanted to move to catechuman to communicant, then broke the fasting rules, they'd practically be back to the status of catechuman (it gets technical with categories like the weepers and the listeners and such, but either way they will not be communing). My first presbyter (OCA) was very comfortable with people jumping into the fasts right away (so long as we were also praying), as that is the traditional practice: Lent was originally for catechumans! So I guess I do not understand why *anyone* (if they were praying regularly, were not in an exempted group like the infirm, etc) would be discouraged from keeping the fast, and it would be against the canons to abusively *command* a practicing communicant not to keep the fasts.
Back to status of catec-human… this doesn’t make sense.
 

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In agreement with xariskai, I think some clarification on that is in order. That *is* somewhat of bold statement.
I was clearly being hyperbolic, as I'm hardly the first person to point this out. There are other of threads on OC.net that are full of criticisms and critiques, such as this thread where it seems Met Kallistos attributed a phrase to Orthodoxy that most Orthodox have never heard: http://forums.orthodoxchristianity.net/threads/the-church-of-the-seven-councils.68784/ . Whether he made it up, heard it from Anglican sources, or something else is kind of beside the point, because it speaks to the larger problem of his works being almost the idealized version of what what *Anglicans think* that Eastern Orthodoxy *should* be. One of the other recent mentions of his book is here, where the former Anglican no longer recommends Met Kallistos: http://forums.orthodoxchristianity....ould-have-in-their-library.79870/post-1634904 . I got rid of my copy quite some time ago and am not sure if would be worthwhile to do a division-by-division analysis of it anyways (there are at least 8 Ecumenical Councils, way more than 7 mysteries, etc), but the presentation of church as denomination feels *very* strong to me, above and beyond historical inaccuracies.
 

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With regard to "keep all the...canons strictly", I can't help but wonder how many Orthodox Christians a) have access to all the canons in their native language, b) have read them, and c) have understood them as they are "meant" to be understood (whatever *that* means!).
Correct. That is why actual catechism (not just bullet-point "Orthodoxy" trivia, but a real spiritual formation) and confession are so important, because it can be difficult to keep track of some finer points. In any case, recall that it is the bishop which is normally the canonical "agent" of the local Church, and they are bound to teach the canons, not just the Holy Gospel, to the laity (canon 7.2).
 

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At the risk of stating something that might be obvious to many here already, I'm reminded of my (Orthodox) former priest advising us that accepting foods that aren't fast-friendly when offered to us by a host trumps adhering "strictly" to the fast.
Well, that is quite problematic. Let's take that same logic and apply it to 2 other situations covered by canons, one that's explicitly sinful and one that's "neutral", just to "cover our bases". Suppose someone from a particular (sub)culture came up to an orthodox Christian and wanted to engage in a sexual act with them—not for money or love, but because they were taught that this is how to honor guests. Should the orthodox Christian say "Sure! My priest [presbyter] said what is 'offered to us by a host trumps adhering "strictly" to the' rules! We can't be {gasps} legalists!"? Or should the orthodox Christian decline, regardless of the heartfelt intent of the sexually-loose person? And now for the neutral situation, as far as sin goes: suppose a person with no particular qualifications for participating in ordinations (eg, being a local bishop) decides they're just going to go out and start ordaining people. Should an orthodox Christian accept this, saying "Well, Pr John Meyendorff says 'no one seems to absolutize all of' the canons, and this is not really a 'sin sin', so why not!"? Or should the orthodox Christian rather get advice from his godparents, local bishop, and other spiritual guides first? I hope it should be clear now that we should indeed follow the canons *very* strictly. That's not to say there isn't lots of room to discuss and learn and perhaps even disagree about specific *meanings* of the canons (submitting those disagreements to the local bishop, of course, barring cases of clear public heresy), but the orthodox Church is very much a Church of rules—to the the point where the early teacher who spoke out most *against* (wrong) rules, St Paul himself, was also the one who created and/or enforced more rules than any other in Scripture, excommunicated people *constantly* for random moral reasons (glad I wasn't a Corinthian!), etc.
 

J Michael

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Well, that is quite problematic. Let's take that same logic and apply it to 2 other situations covered by canons, one that's explicitly sinful and one that's "neutral", just to "cover our bases". Suppose someone from a particular (sub)culture came up to an orthodox Christian and wanted to engage in a sexual act with them—not for money or love, but because they were taught that this is how to honor guests. Should the orthodox Christian say "Sure! My priest [presbyter] said what is 'offered to us by a host trumps adhering "strictly" to the' rules! We can't be {gasps} legalists!"? Or should the orthodox Christian decline, regardless of the heartfelt intent of the sexually-loose person? And now for the neutral situation, as far as sin goes: suppose a person with no particular qualifications for participating in ordinations (eg, being a local bishop) decides they're just going to go out and start ordaining people. Should an orthodox Christian accept this, saying "Well, Pr John Meyendorff says 'no one seems to absolutize all of' the canons, and this is not really a 'sin sin', so why not!"? Or should the orthodox Christian rather get advice from his godparents, local bishop, and other spiritual guides first? I hope it should be clear now that we should indeed follow the canons *very* strictly. That's not to say there isn't lots of room to discuss and learn and perhaps even disagree about specific *meanings* of the canons (submitting those disagreements to the local bishop, of course, barring cases of clear public heresy), but the orthodox Church is very much a Church of rules—to the the point where the early teacher who spoke out most *against* (wrong) rules, St Paul himself, was also the one who created and/or enforced more rules than any other in Scripture, excommunicated people *constantly* for random moral reasons (glad I wasn't a Corinthian!), etc.
I take your point but I think you exaggerate a bit. The priest's comment/advice was in a particular context of fasting regarding food. Perhaps I should have made that clear, and unfortunately wrongly assumed that that would be understood here. I think virtually any even half-way catechized Orthodox Christian would know where to draw the line with regard to your 2 examples. But, maybe I'm wrong about that, too :(.
 

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I agree with the first part above.

The second part “keep all the fasts and cannons strictly “does not seem to be advice for a baby/ novice. The “strictly “part is troublesome and can be a stumbling block.

“Pray more than speaking or arguing” is good.
Someone told me to make sure I’m praying more than reading. That’s a good balance for me.
Assuming this was directed in love to me, while this is good advice for a true novice coming in from either Protestantism, Roman Catholicism, or atheism of some sort, I'm not sure I qualify as a strict novice.

I was a Byzantine Catholic for 21 years and step by step took the fasting more seriously as the years went by, although not always successful in completing them. Having been in the BCC, I got "transfer credits" in my catechumenate and was welcomed into Orthodoxy earlier than usual. Some BCC do actually try hard to be Orthodox in that setting. I was one of them.

They are usually the ones who wind up converting to the Church. ;) ;) ;)

But I would say for true novices, slow and steady is good advice. I have read that there are converts who "burn out" in five years or so and leave the Church. That to me is tragic.
 

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Assuming this was directed in love to me, while this is good advice for a true novice coming in from either Protestantism, Roman Catholicism, or atheism of some sort, I'm not sure I qualify as a strict novice.

I was a Byzantine Catholic for 21 years and step by step took the fasting more seriously as the years went by, although not always successful in completing them. Having been in the BCC, I got "transfer credits" in my catechumenate and was welcomed into Orthodoxy earlier than usual. Some BCC do actually try hard to be Orthodox in that setting. I was one of them.

They are usually the ones who wind up converting to the Church. ;) ;) ;)

But I would say for true novices, slow and steady is good advice. I have read that there are converts who "burn out" in five years or so and leave the Church. That to me is tragic.
I am a baby/ novice. It will be 2 years in September since I joined! And I struggle. Pray for me.
 

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I take your point but I think you exaggerate a bit. The priest's comment/advice was in a particular context of fasting regarding food. Perhaps I should have made that clear, and unfortunately wrongly assumed that that would be understood here. I think virtually any even half-way catechized Orthodox Christian would know where to draw the line with regard to your 2 examples. But, maybe I'm wrong about that, too :(.
Of course a properly-catechized person should know how to deal with those 2 situations. And of course a properly-catechized person would know not to break the fasts, even under the guise of "hospitality". That some posts do not reflect a consistent reasoning in these matters is the issue—why break one canon but not another, particularly when those "exceptions" are designed to maximize pleasure (and avoid pain and/or embarrassment), elevate cultural norms over Orthodoxy, and make fasting a purely individualized private (as opposed to corporate) activity?
 

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I was obviously being hyperbolic
Really?

You wrote: "most of Met Kallistos's introductory works, especially the parts that "everyone agrees on"—which are most certainly wrong)"

"...PSYCHE ...JUST KIDDING"

Phrases like "most certainly wrong" don't generally lead most readers to suppose "obvious exaggeration" is afoot.
Bizzlebin wrote: "most of Met Kallistos's introductory works, especially the parts that "everyone agrees on"—which are most certainly wrong)"
-Your remark disparages "everyone" -not just a book or an author.

Seems honestly like you regard yourself as wiser than everyone. Certainly wiser than the OCA (see Recommended Readings from their website just below) and a world-renouned Oxford patristic scholar turned Metropolitan bishop re. not just some but most of his beliefs.







I think it fair to presume the OCA recommends recommends at least "most" of what these books affirm. You on the other hand tell us very explicitly that most of what these books affirm is wrong.

If I had to guess whether I regarded one or the other of Met. Kallistos vs. you, OCA vs. you as "most heterodox" the guessing would be pretty easy by a light year or two.

There are other of threads on OC.net that are full of criticisms and critiques, such as this thread where it seems Met Kallistos attributed a phrase to Orthodoxy that most Orthodox have never heard: http://forums.orthodoxchristianity.net/threads/the-church-of-the-seven-councils.68784/
You cite:
-Phrase "church of the seven councils" -there are at least 8 Ecumenical Councils
-way more than 7 mysteries
-what *Anglicans think* that Eastern Orthodoxy *should* be

Don't just tease us with a point or two: now tell us how "most" of what is found in these works is wrong.

And the kicker: "especially the parts that "everyone agrees on" -you are wiser than everyone, and e.g. OCA which recommends at least "most" of what these books affirm, on what basis?

"Everyone" would probably nitpick a point of two as you did; your remarks do not explain how/why "everyone is wrong about most of what they would agree with the Metropolitan on in these works" which agreement I would guess is considerable among Orthodox clergy given how widely recommended these works are by Orthodox hierarchs, jurisdictions, and parishes (nitpicked by most or not!).

just coming to radically reappraise most of Met Kallistos's introductory works
I got rid of my copy quite some time ago
Curious how to "radically reappraise" a book discarded "some time ago."
 

Ainnir

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Well, that is quite problematic. Let's take that same logic and apply it to 2 other situations covered by canons, one that's explicitly sinful and one that's "neutral", just to "cover our bases". Suppose someone from a particular (sub)culture came up to an orthodox Christian and wanted to engage in a sexual act with them—not for money or love, but because they were taught that this is how to honor guests. Should the orthodox Christian say "Sure! My priest [presbyter] said what is 'offered to us by a host trumps adhering "strictly" to the' rules! We can't be {gasps} legalists!"? Or should the orthodox Christian decline, regardless of the heartfelt intent of the sexually-loose person? And now for the neutral situation, as far as sin goes: suppose a person with no particular qualifications for participating in ordinations (eg, being a local bishop) decides they're just going to go out and start ordaining people. Should an orthodox Christian accept this, saying "Well, Pr John Meyendorff says 'no one seems to absolutize all of' the canons, and this is not really a 'sin sin', so why not!"? Or should the orthodox Christian rather get advice from his godparents, local bishop, and other spiritual guides first? I hope it should be clear now that we should indeed follow the canons *very* strictly. That's not to say there isn't lots of room to discuss and learn and perhaps even disagree about specific *meanings* of the canons (submitting those disagreements to the local bishop, of course, barring cases of clear public heresy), but the orthodox Church is very much a Church of rules—to the the point where the early teacher who spoke out most *against* (wrong) rules, St Paul himself, was also the one who created and/or enforced more rules than any other in Scripture, excommunicated people *constantly* for random moral reasons (glad I wasn't a Corinthian!), etc.
There’s actually a saint who broke his fast for sake of his hosts. I’d have to dig it up, though, and have a very insane and hectic life, so don’t hold your breath. I read it in the Prologue maybe within the last few months. 🤷🏻‍♀️😊
 

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I hope it should be clear now that we should indeed follow the canons *very* strictly
Unless Bizzlebin wants our bishops to baptize a surrogate child with parents cohabiting together gay without being married. "Economia! Economia!"
 
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RaphaCam

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There’s actually a saint who broke his fast for sake of his hosts. I’d have to dig it up, though, and have a very insane and hectic life, so don’t hold your breath. I read it in the Prologue maybe within the last few months. 🤷🏻‍♀️😊
Not all hagiographies are created equal, but if it's the Prologue I'll take it before any speculation.

To speak in more precise terms for @Bizzlebin 's decipherment, a possible modal fallacy doesn't trump reliable example plus obedience.
 

Dominika

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the Confession of Saint Peter Mogila
I'm not sure, I think it's latinised.

I'd say it's something very broad, as it's the whole Bible, all holy canons (ancient local councils, ecumenical councils, Holy Fathers), the Nince Creed, writing of the Holy Fathers including hymnography, liturgical prayers and practices - and always one statement has to be compared internally (e.g the same father) and then with those other materials.
If you want a kind of compendium, I'd say any Orthodox catechism (there are quite a lot in various langauges) but always seeing/comparing the sources (things mentioned above).
Actually, I think, Orthodox life is a kind of discovering its teaching an truth about God, as it goes with spiritual growth pus we have apophatical theology, it means we can't precisely describe what God is.
 

RaphaCam

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I'm not sure, I think it's latinised.
It's definitely latinised in the way of thinking, but I don't think it's anything more serious than how the Early Church Fathers and Jews before them hellenised their way of thinking. I'm very positive of the confessions of both Sts. Peter of Kyiv and Dositheus of Jerusalem, they can be interpreted as blueprints for expressing Orthodox Christianity in a modern language, specially since they were approved in Jassy and Jerusalem, respectively.

I totally agree with what you say about not looking for all the answers in one single source, though. There are too many people nowadays who want to think like, say, Ppr. John Romanides or St. Seraphim of Platina, but not having the same qualities they did at all.
 

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Of course a properly-catechized person should know how to deal with those 2 situations. And of course a properly-catechized person would know not to break the fasts, even under the guise of "hospitality". That some posts do not reflect a consistent reasoning in these matters is the issue—why break one canon but not another, particularly when those "exceptions" are designed to maximize pleasure (and avoid pain and/or embarrassment), elevate cultural norms over Orthodoxy, and make fasting a purely individualized private (as opposed to corporate) activity?
That's the kind of what I refer to as "black and white thinking" that leads very easily to a form of rigid Pharisaism (?) which would have us to read, understand, and memorize ALL the Holy Canons and then apply unremittingly, and without fail to all aspects of our lives, leaving no room at all for different people, different circumstances, etc. This seems to me to be what you're suggesting without coming right out and saying it. That's not the kind of Christianity of any variety that would keep me in its fold, at least not for long.

And how do you seemingly leap to the conclusion that
those "exceptions" are designed to maximize pleasure (and avoid pain and/or embarrassment)"...
? Maximize pleasure?? Really??

I think I'd, for better or worse, much rather rely upon the advice and counsel of my priest, even if he might sometimes be mistaken.
 
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