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June 11, 2006

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"What does it mean? Where is it going? Does it encourage you? Excite you? Concern you?"
All of the above. One of the reasons I was drawn to Orthodoxy was charismatic experience seeking an orthodox [small 'o' there is deliberate] theology which hadn't apparently lost sight of the role of the Holy Spirit and a catholic sacramental sensibility which hadn't trapped itself in philosophical categories which no longer resonated. So at that level, I'm encouraged that others may be sensing these concerns.

It excites me too because it seems to indicate that the Spirit is indeed prompting people to respond to the challenges of cultural change by looking for a home in a bigger picture and one that roots itself in the witness of the churches in the first centuries.

It concerns me because of the things I have found in Orthodoxy which repell me and I think are resistances to the Spirit: a concept of Tradition which really does not allow the old to be bracketed [so the best you can hope for liturgically is to add, not to replace; it's where 'Byzantine' gets its name, I suppose]; a tendency to unchurch others of God's people [as represented by the insistance of re-baptising converts from other trinitarian traditions]; priestcraft as bad as if not worse than Roman Catholicism.

There are certain gains of the reformation, I realised, that I would not easily surrender.

Now I'm aware that my negatives are not the whole story, but they are part of it. And so, I am grateful for some things in Orthodoxy that have stood firm and stood the test of time; but I'm aware that the reverse side of that is that some things have become embedded that really should have been weeded out, imho.

It concerns me because of the things I have found in Orthodoxy which repell me and I think are resistances to the Spirit: a concept of Tradition which really does not allow the old to be bracketed [so the best you can hope for liturgically is to add, not to replace; it's where 'Byzantine' gets its name, I suppose]; a tendency to unchurch others of God's people [as represented by the insistance of re-baptising converts from other trinitarian traditions]; priestcraft as bad as if not worse than Roman Catholicism.

hmm. those who would 'change the liturgy' are right up there with folk who say "Christianity must change or die" and by change they mean stupid things like acknowledge that the 'church' kicked Jesus upstairs and while he was a great man, etc.

andii, just how much exposure have you had to the Orthodox Church that you can so easily stand in Judgement of her? Sure some 'extreme' groups will require re-baptism, (like Protestants never get rebaptised) but for the most part due to oikonomia (economy) the Grace of the first Baptism is recognized and the converts are brought into the faith via Chrismation.

and just what do you mean by 'priestcraft' as 'bad or worse' than the RC? I suppose the Jimmy Swaggarts, Tammy Fayes, Jerry Falwells etc. arn't worth mentioning?

The line of good and bad does not cut thru denominations so much as it cuts thru each individual heart.

Nice article DP. I only have to say, "Come on in....the water's fine!"

Fr. Dcn. Raphael

Fomer Baptismatic

Actually, all lighthertedness aside, I rejoice, yet grieve for you who come. It is a COSTLY calling. Freinds and family WILL disown you. You constantly struggle with issues that you were blissfully blind to. You confront the scandal of the sinfulness of us Orthodox.

Count the cost my freinds. You may want to wait until you KNOW, you can take no other course. When you know its God leading you, the sturggle is worth it. You may have sorrow, but it is indeed a "Joyful Sorrow."

I do not "easily stand in judgement" of the Orthodox church. And I have had more exposure than most non-Orthodox in the west. I'm sorry to see that you saw my remarks as 'standing in judgement'. They are a statement of how I have, through encounters with Orthodox people of various stripes over many years, come to see Orthodoxy. You missed/ignored the genuine appreciations I made and so the fact that I would likely [as is the actual case] agree that all traditions are flawed and that the line runs through people. I hold no brief, as your remarks would seem to imply, for the superiority of protestantism -the remarks about Swaggart et al, are wide of the mark in my case. I just don't see enough superiority in Orthodoxy to think that changing would be a better thing than staying where, in any case, I believe God put me. God knows, and if you had the time a close examination of my blog would show, that I have problems with ungodliness of church leaders and church structures pretty much wherever they are. But if I criticise them, as I do, in my own tradition [I'm actually Anglican] I'm hardly likely to endorse them in others'. Furthermore, I criticise with a sense of heaviness and a sometimes brutal awareness of how I have contributed to things being wrong.

So I suspect that I am doing more-than-what-is-fair duty as proxy for the difficulties you have with 'prots'. To be fair on that point I'll put my hand up to the fact that I have been at the rough end of abuse from some Orthodox believers and so perhaps my negative assessments contain a little of what I see in your reply: putting distance between me and what they stood for.

BTW. It is not just extreme groups that require rebaptism, at least not the way one ex-RC convert to [Russian] Orthodoxy [& now a priest whom I hold in high regard] told it to me [in company with others]... of course it may have changed in the last 30 years.(!)

I would differ slightly with you on the 'line of good and bad'. Not only does it run through individuals but it runs through human organisations like churches -yes, I know the churches are more than just human, but they are also that and we ignore that at our peril.

As for change and liturgy, I'm not quite sure what you mean. So I'll refrain from commenting...

BTW. It is not just extreme groups that require rebaptism, at least not the way one ex-RC convert to [Russian] Orthodoxy [& now a priest whom I hold in high regard] told it to me [in company with others]... of course it may have changed in the last 30 years.(!)

I just want to say this, and then I'll leave this alone. You are making statments about a church that in this country alone has something like 14 different jurisdictions -- based on what 2 people have said. At least that is how I'm reading it. And quite a diverse group reads Chris' blog...

I interacted with at least 6 parishes over at least a 10 year period. Yes, your experience may be different than mine, but not once did someone have to be re-baptised, even when the 'Holy Order of mans/Saint Herman Brotherhood' was found to be non-canonical, their bishop defrocked and every convert's standing in question--

--did they have to be re-baptised. instead they were all received into different groups (OCA, orthodox of bulgaria in America, ukranian orthodox church, etc) via Chrismation.

God's Peace

Seraphim

Is Andii talking about the Russian Orthodox church in the US or in the UK? He is based in the UK himself, but I don't know about the friend he speaks of.

It may be that the Russian Orthodox church in the UK has different practices from Orthodox churches in the US.

It may be that the Russian Orthodox church in the UK has different practices from Orthodox churches in the US.

The Russian Orthodox Church would be one of only 14 jurisdictions. And then one would have to ask which Russian Orthodox church. ROCOR? or the one in Russia.

God's peace

Seraphim

There seems to be a bit of a power struggle going on in the Russian Orthodox church at the moment, but from that I get the impression it is ultimately responsible to the head of the church in Russia.

What are these 14 jurisdictions? From a google search I see that Eastern, Antiochian, Greek, Russian, Romanian, Coptic and Indian Orthodox churches are all represented in the UK. That's 7, are there more? What are the differences between each variation?

On the Baptism issue, it really depends on the bishop, and the particular circumstances. In MOST jursidictions, if you have been baptized by immersion in the name of the Trinity, it would be accpeted. (Yes I know RC's sprinkle, but they are usually accpeted as well) It truyly depends on the bishop.

For me, I would have been rebaptized, swam the atlantic, walked barefoot on broken glass, and sat in a room and listened to 'N Sync for 8 hours it that was what was required.

As far as jurisdictions, these are the "uncanonical" situation that is largely a result of the Bolshevik revolution, and our own sinfulness....but God is in the process of healing these ethnic divisions.

It is the same faith, same worship, but lots of little different trtaditions and customs (for instance, music). Each ethnicity has its own flavor, and out of that an "American Orthodoxy" is being forged...not by committee....but organically.....by the Holy Spirit......Grant it, it will probably take 200 years......

The Orthodox Church system is responsible to the Patriarchs - not to a single Patriarch like the Romans. I wouldn't say the Russian Orthodox Church is the head of the Eastern Orthodox Churches.

In Russia you've got the old calderists the new calendarists. You've got ROCOR - Russian Orthodox Church outside of Russia.

You've got Ukrainian Orthodox (where I was received) you've got Serbian Orthodox, Greek Orthodox, Carpatho Russian Orthodox, Romanian Orthodox, Armenian Orthodox, Bulgarian Orthodox, Orthodox from Montenegro, Austria etc.

Not to mention the Orthodox Church of America...

Most of the 'difference' are just matters of nationality, maybe different little t traditions. Except for those Dogma & Doctrine is pretty much the same.

When I was doing the Orthodox thing, I was exposed to Russian Orthodox, Greek Orthodox, a Living Saint - Fr. George Calciu who is Romanian Orthodox, and Ukrainian Orthdox. None of those would have required re-baptism.

Back to the whole young fogies thing. I think what you are seeing is a desire for something 'different' and Orthodoxy with it's vestments, smell & icons is very different. I also think that young folk are hungry for Authority and Autenticity.

God's peace

Seraphim

Seraphim said, I wouldn't say the Russian Orthodox Church is the head of the Eastern Orthodox Churches.

Nor would I. Were you referring ot this, I get the impression it is ultimately responsible to the head of the church in Russia. If you look to the beginning of the sentence you can see 'it' refers to the Russian Orthodox church in Britain.

Would you say this site ( http://www.orthodox.clara.net/belief.htm ) gives a true picture of what Orthodox Christians believe? It's where I've got most of my understanding of Orthodox belief from. I agree with some of the teaching, but I can't stand robes and incense or excessive formality. I do have a small wooden icon of Jesus praying, mind you. It's from my first Greek holiday, on Crete.

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