Sunday, February 17, 2008

I find it amazing how Eastern Orthodoxy and Reformed Christianity can agree so much and disagree so much about the same basic topic, Authority.

5 comments:

Zac said...

Good stuff, although I don't know that the Orthodox would really characterize their position as any sort of "sola." While it's true that the only authority set over our Church is Christ, while everything else-- the Scriptures, the Councils, the Patristic writings, the Liturgy, the Bishops, etc., are within the Church. To set the Bible or a Pope over the Church as some sort of external guarantee of infallibility is a mistake, we believe. So in this way, we are different from these developments in the West.

It's like your new quote from St. Basil the Great. We don't set the writings of the Fathers over the Scriptures, or as teaching things which somehow are in addition to the Scriptures-- not at all. We follow the Fathers precisely because they correctly interpreted the Scriptures and lived them out more than all others.

irreverend fox said...

hey zac!

the issue of Authority is so interesting when we toss in the EO understanding. it is truly neither RC or Reformed...we could gang up on a RC apologist on the issue of the primacy of the bishop of Rome...but then the RC and you could gang up on me regarding Sola Scriptura...the only one who couldn't get double teamed (like in the WWF) is EO!

Certainly James White was not attempting to put a "Sola" on the EO...for some reason he never deals with EO and he was not there.

Zac said...

And I can understand why... Orthodoxy in the West, while growing fast, is still under most peoples' radar.

I really like that Chrysostom quote he used-- I hadn't heard that one before.

irreverend fox said...

it has flown under the radar in deed...but as it continues to rapidly grow I'm sure Reformed/Evangelical Apologists will begin to take a closer look and attempt to produce materials and teachings in response. Since the day I met you I have searched high and low for meaty materials to help me get up to speed and engage the topics with you...and have not found anything 1/4 as in depth as I can find regarding, RC, JW or LDS groups...all of which are "Western" born movements. It's very frustrating...because the stuff I have found goes over general differences which I either already knew or understood after the first give minutes of speaking with you.

Maybe if I'm not converted I'll have to lead the Reformed response? I don't know...

but I do know that Eastern Orthodoxy is becoming more and more attractive, particularly with people under 40. Just look at you, Arlie and "Saint" Mark for example. I saw old people at mass on Sunday...but I also saw MANY young faces, many more young faces at St. Nicolas Sunday liturgy then I see at most of the SBC churches I preach at, that's for sure.

I anticipate EO getting more attention in the next few years...it'll need to be "dealt" with if it keeps growing like it is…especially since it is growing in the ever coveted demographic of “under 40” English speakers.

THE problem which has both kept EO out of the line of reformed evangelical fire (unlike RC, JW and LDS...not to mean that they are a "cult" like those last two...just that they are non-evangelical people who claim to be "Christian") but has also kept them from making more significant inroads in America…is the self imposed language barriers. If I was EO I'd be urging the Church to fix it...you can't come into a culture and isolate yourself by being "Greek" this or "Romanian" that...Paul didn't do that. plus...the confusions over Bishops also should get straightened out...a Bishop should be a Bishop over a region no matter what language is being spoken. It's very confusing to outsiders looking in, and is a significant reason why the EO is not on the radar. If it is Christ’s One True Church is ought to be on the radar, wouldn’t you agree?

And I see this changing...more culturally relevant EO congregations are being seen more often, St. Nicolas is an example...and as that happens the EO will make greater inroads in America...and will begin to receive more heat.

Of course, besides the cultural barriers in America the EO have erected in the past, which has kept themselves isolated and not part of the conversation (and off the radar) is that they might not be so inclined to participate anyway. I don't find most of them very argumentative...they don't seem to have a strong desire to justify their beliefs, certainly not to people who have no real desire to understand, only to argue. but when the materials begin to pump and DVD's, books, blogs and Chick tracts begin to come forth I'm sure EO scholars will, when appropriate, respond. I’m looking forward to the exchange…because I believe it’s a sleeping giant actually. Roman Catholicism is a joke, it really is. Yet it gets most of our apologetic attention. The reality is the Eastern Orthodoxy posses a FAR greater and more legitimate argument for such a thing as “Apostolic Succession”. If such a thing is real then I must convert to Eastern Orthodoxy. Honestly…what else can I say or do? That’s the truth and a general review of Church history will confirm this. Eastern Orthodoxy is the real challenge to the Reformed faith, not Roman Catholicism…and most don’t even know it. If the EO of America could get its act together and do away with the unnecessary cultural isolationism and intentionally get on the radar, we’ll have quite a juggernaut on our hands.

There is a reason so many under 40 are converting to Eastern Orthodoxy…and it isn’t cause they are into funny looking hats.

Zac said...

Hahaha-- except for the George Castanza's of the world, you're probably right about the funny hats not being the big thing that's drawing people to Orthodoxy. =^)

You're absolutely right about such cultural "ghetto" mentalities, and the Church is by and large overcoming that-- more and more parishes, even the "ethnic" ones are going to all-English or mostly-English services. This was not true even 50 years ago, but this has been changed both by the successive generations of those immigrants and by the explosive growth of converts. There are many many parishes nowadays, even around us, where converts make up more than 90% of the membership.

The problem with the jurisdiction is a sad one, although not unique in the Church's history-- just take a look at 4th Century Antioch, for one example. And thankfully all of these bishops manifest the Church's unity through full communion and complete concord in the Orthodox dogmas, but administrative unity MUST come. The canons demand it. Orthodoxy will then be more effective at reaching out to people here, and if only for that reason, we must do it as soon as possible. Many many bishops have said so, and appear to be working toward that end.

Interestingly enough, Orthodoxy is not just growing in America. In both historically Orthodox countries and historically heterodox (and even in non-Christian) countries, Orthodoxy is growing exponentially. For instance, the UK has seen a vast influx of conservative Anglican clergy and parishes, while heavily Roman Catholic places are also beginning to see a prominent Orthodox presence: There are now (once again) Spanish, Italian, and French Orthodox Churches (including monasteries). In the non-Christian world, places like Nigeria, Japan, and Indonesia now have native Orthodox Churches as well.