On dialogue with the Orthodox

In a previous blog entry here, I reproduced a vent from me, expressing frustrations that I was repeatedly having in discussions with people of an Eastern Orthodox church background.

I had meant to add something, which I’ve just now found. So here goes. See if you can figure out what, in this discussion could lead a man to tear out every hair on his body:

Orthodox person: “Since we are the Apostolic Church, we can tell you what the Apostles said on any matter, and you cannot tell us.”

Me: “But please sir, may we have some Apostolic evidence that this is what they taught?

“Well, we are the Apostolic Church. What more evidence would you want than that?”

“Just some evidence that this is the Apostolic view.”

“But we’re the Apostolic Church. How much more Apostolic could this evidence be?”

“Well, can you show me where the Apostles said this. I’m holding in my hand an Apostolic writing which says-“

“You don’t know what it says, because you’re not part of the Apostolic Church.”

“Are you the Apostolic Church because the Apostles passed thes doctrines down the line to you?”

“Among other things, yes.”

“So couldn’t you just settle this by showing that the Apostles did pass these things on?”

“I have proven it! We believe these things, and we’re the Apostolic Church! So the things we teach must have been passed on by the Apostles.”

“Well, even this church Father, and this one, and this one – they don’t think the doctrine is Apostolic.”

“Oh, so now YOU are making yourself the infallible never-wrong arbiter of all truth and the pillar of the faith, are you?”

“No, I never said that. I’m just saying that the eviden-“

“Oh pish! You aren’t able to listen to the evidence because you’re so proud that you think you don’t need Christ and His Church. Bless you.”

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2 thoughts on “On dialogue with the Orthodox

  1. I’d like to re-open this dialogue, if you would be interested. I’d like to think you would find me more bearable.

    As I said earlier, I am interested in uniting the Church across space in a way that can also be united across time. Most people are interested in going back to the New Testament Church, assuming that worship in Spirit and Truth was lost for centuries afterwards. I don’t know about you, but I can’t believe that the Church failed like that. There must be a way you can be a Christian that would bring you into full communion with Christians across any century in the last 2 thousand years, not just the first century. As an Orthodox Christian, at any point in time during the last 2 thousand years, there would be a very significant group of Christians I could enter into full communion with, even if I were transparent with them about my beliefs. Say we went back in time to the 9th century, could you say the same? At that time, I could walk into any church of the undivided Church and fully engage with the service, with the icons and incense, and embrace it all. If we are to unite into an undivided Church again, it must be that same Church. Paul says that the Church of the living God is the “pillar and bulwark of truth” (1 Timothy 3:15). Aside from proof-texting, here is my point: if all Christians became Anglican, or whatever you define as the Church working properly as it should, then all Christians now would be quite different from all Christians of the 9th century in what they believed and how they practiced their faith. They even had a different canon of Scripture than you do! If anything, I am curious to how you answer this: who has more in common with the Church of the 9th Century than the Orthodox Church? I believe that the Church of the Apostles must be timeless, as much in the 9th Century as today. The Orthodox Church even has the institution of Patriarchal sees that they did.

  2. An example of continuity with the 1st century in a way that other churches are not, Chapter 8 of the Didache says that Christians should fast on Wednesdays and Fridays. Orthodox Christians still do this! We have essentially vegan diets on those days- on Wednesday in remembrance of Christ’s betrayal, and on Fridays in remembrance of Christ’s death. This isn’t something I found in apologetic discussions, it’s just an example of things I run into in my personal readings that make me think, “of course it would say that, it’s the same Apostolic Church!”

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