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Viking_Longship
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Okay I will put my 2 cents in here with my own religion. Let me also start by saying, being arrogant, lusty and quick to anger I am not a shining example of my faith. However I know most of you would say the same things about yourself. (As Bernie Mac said "your family messed up too) [Smile]

Ok quick intro

Orthodox Christianity, sometimes called Eastern or Greek Orthodox, comes from the same roots as the Roman Catholic church. In the 1100s Rome split with Constantinople leaving one Patriarch in the west (Rome) and I think it was five at the time, in the East.

THis is a gross simplification but basically most national churches have their own Patriarch who governs the church orgnization.


Orthodox Christianity does not have a Pope or a single leader. THe Ecumenical Patriarch, while considered "First amongst Equals" (Unless Rome return at which point he becomes second amongs equals I guess. [Smile] ) can't pass decrees that the other patriarchates have to follow.

Here's the link to Orthodoxwiki on Bishops if you're curious. http://orthodoxwiki.org/Bishop

Like Rome we are liturgical in worship and heirarchical in governance. We have Bishops, Preists, Monks and Deacons.

We are reportedly the fastest growing religion in the USA, both from emigration and from conversion. Most of those converts are ex-protestants like myself.

Happy to take any questions and if you're really curious point you in the right direction to see with your own eyes. Like my Patron Saint Andrew I think it really helps if you 'come and see'.

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Carlotta
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Oh, hi, just saw this thread. It answers my question from the Catholicism thread, thanks.

Do you mind sharing why you decided to convert to Orthodoxy instead of Catholicism? I may be wrong in assuming you considered both, they just seem so similar, and I have a friend who converted from Catholicism to Orthodoxy, so I figured you probably looked into Catholicism too. I'd love to hear your story.

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Viking_Longship
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No I never considered Rome although it would have been a lot more convientiant since I have often had to drive an hour or more for liturgy. On the other hand my protestant family would have been horrified not just puzzled.

Actually what got me interested were some odd sources, flattering references to the church by Karen Armstrong and Mathew Fox and an article in the Utne reader.

The local Orthodox priest was coming down once a week to do vespers in the chapel at my college. After I went to the first service I pretty much was hooked.

I think I might have gone for Rome before Vatican 2, but not now. THe local parish always seemed a lot like the protestants down the road.

I'm politically liberal (by philosophy not always by issue. I'm pro-life e.g.) but I'm theologically pretty conservative and so far as i can tell the Catholic Church in America is getting taken over by the liberals. I haven't followed it closely though as it's not my problem.

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Carlotta
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Interesting. Your reasons are almost identical to my friend's for converting to Orthodoxy away from Catholicism, except he was also horrified by the abuse cover up in the RC church. I'll try to think of more questions for you!

I don't think I've ever been to a Tridentine liturgy. I visited some Orthodox churches in Greece though, and they were amazing. Though I didn't stay for any liturgies.

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Viking_Longship
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Unless you speak Greek you'd be better off seeing the liturgy in English so you can understand the words anyway. [Smile]
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Pete at Home
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I'll hit you with the same basic questions that I posted on the Catholicism thread, and a few more.

What is sin?

What is salvation?

What knowledge and what sacraments are necessary to salvation? If you met someone that was lucid and had 20 minutes to live, knew nothing about Christianity, what would you say and do to him to prepare him to meet his God? Assume for sake of argument that he believes everything you say and goes along with every suggestion that you make.

Does God answer prayers and are there constraints on this?

How do we know right from wrong?

Why is there suffering in the world if God is loving?

Why did Jesus have to die in such pain to redeem us if God's power is utterly without limit?

Has prophesy ceased, and if so when and why did it cease?

Finally, is it true that the Orthodox church unlike Roman Catholicism does not require priestly celibacy, but only requires it of monastic types? Or can only your lower priestly orders be married?

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Viking_Longship
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The others will require a little more time to answer but I can answer the last one now.
Priests are not required to be celibate if they are married prior to ordination. THey can't get married after they are ordained.

Bishops, monks, and nuns are celibate.

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PanHeraclitean
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Do the Orthodox mind if Catholics come to their liturgy? I know you ask us not to receive communion at your church, but is there anything further than that?

Is the Orthodox liturgy different from the Byzantine Rite Catholic liturgy? In what ways?

I understand that there are theological differences between Orthodox and Catholic on the matter of the filioque and the authority of the Pope. Are there any other differences in theology or are all the rest of the differences differences of practice, not belief?

And because I thought Pete might be interested - Catholic deacons are allowed to be married, but they must be married prior to ordination and if their wife dies after they are ordained, do not remarry. Seems like that is the same rule Orthodox have for their priests. I just found this interesting.

Edit: Agh, this is Carlotta again. I'm not used to my husband posting so I keep forgetting to check who is logged on.

[ March 06, 2008, 12:59 PM: Message edited by: PanHeraclitean ]

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Kent
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I would convert to Orthodox if I ever left Mormonism. The liturgy is awesome, the doctrines are more palatable for me (especially the idea of deification or theosis), and they have retained much of the early Christian thought and traditions that the Catholics let go of.
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RickyB
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"I'm politically liberal (by philosophy not always by issue. I'm pro-life e.g.) but I'm theologically pretty conservative and so far as i can tell the Catholic Church in America is getting taken over by the liberals."

This is fascinating. Thank you for sharing. Taking the rest of my long response to a new thread.

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Viking_Longship
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Kent, thanks I appreciate the nice things you said.

Carlotta, yes of course anyone is welcome to attend liturgy at long as you treat it with respect.

From what I hear Byzantine rite has the same liturgy. Never been to one of their churches personally.

Differences in thoelogy byond the filioque, really I don't Catholic thology well enough to say for sure. I can say we don't have purgatory, and I don't know if you have theosis or not. The Catholic thread is suggesting to me we are more similiar than I thought.

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Viking_Longship
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Okay Pete the sest way I can explain it, paraphrasing from my brothers at Orthodoxwiki, seperation from God (falleness) is the disease. Sin is a symptom and salvation is the process of healing.

The spiritual body of the church is necessary for salvation. We as Orthodox do not believe that salvation evists outside the church, however we don't know for certain where the spiritual body of the church has extended, we just know that we have it. As my prienst said once "if God wishes to save a Muslim that's his business, not ours"

Within Orthodoxy we have the concept of theosis which is the process of becoming more like God, basically the spiritual healing process. Unfortunately as fallen creatures we have a tendency to undo this process.

Yes God anwers prayes and as he is omnipotent is unlimited in his capacity to do so. However I con't think he unlikely to violate another person to do so, which is often where we get tripped up.

We know right from wrong, even outside the church, because we were created to be rightous and sin is not our natural state, it's an unatural state we fell into.

With my latin brothers on prophesy. Personal revaltion exists, but not prophesy. This is not to say we don't have any Virgin of Gaudalupe type groups. I have met a few of them in Russia.

We have suffering because God treats us as his children not his puppets. Orthodoxy believes in free will. Even Mary could have said no.

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Viking_Longship
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If somone had 20 minutes to live? Don't know the details so it's hard to say. Would proabably not worry about theology right then though.

I don't know for certain why Jesus had to die such a mumilitaing death although I am guessing because it confirmed what we were working towards wasn't a temporal kingdom. The OT predicted that the messiah would die in a humiliting way, so its not surprising. Best I can do right now.

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RickyB
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What was the schism about? It wasn't icons anymore by then... just a turf war between pope and Patriarch in Constantinople? Didn't it have a theological aspect?
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Viking_Longship
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It was something that had brewed for a long time, but the tholigical aspect was over the filioque and whether or not the Pope had executive authority over the Bishops.
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RickyB
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Ah yes. Always liked the Otrhodox approach better, I thought, even though they also (in particular) slaughtered each other over a letter and a nuance [Smile]
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Pete at Home
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I thought it was over hats or something [Wink]
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Viking_Longship
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Well in my opinion the filioque debate had a lot more to do with resisting a power grab from Rome than who the holy spirit proceded from.

Our biggest internal fight was probably the one in Russia over whether Greek or Russian practice should prevail.

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Animist
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Here's an odd but genuinely serious question:

In high school, I had a close friend whose family was Russian Orthodox. He told me that they believed in trolls, and that belief in trolls was a part of their religion.

I've always wanted to ask if that was true.

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Viking_Longship
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Not part of the actual religion. Part of the folk culture maybe.

Honestly given the fondness of Orthodox Christians for fantasy and sci fi it would almost fit, but nope.

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RickyB
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Ah, for the days where every fishmonger and whore in Byzantium could and did debate passionately of "like god" or "of same substance" [Smile]
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Carlotta
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You don't have Purgatory? So if someone dies in the state of grace but not yet perfected in holiness, or with unrepented venial sins, what happens to them?
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Viking_Longship
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Our teachings on the afterlife are not as developed as the western church (and I refer to most protestants in this area as well). Thus in Orthodoxy you have Saint Isaac the Syrian (I think it was him) suggesting that Heaven and Hell could be (note 'could be' not 'is') different responses to being bathed in God's love. We also don't have a clear distinction between venial and mortal sin although certainly you would regard murder or adultry much more seriously than eating ice cream during Lent (at least I would if I was a priest. [Smile] )
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Viking_Longship
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From an article on the idea of Theosis

I said, “You are gods,

And all of you are children of the Most High.” (Psalm 82:6)

This is a verse that most Protestants do not underline in their Bibles. What on earth does it mean—“you are gods”? Doesn’t our faith teach that there is only one God, in three Persons? How can human beings be gods?

In the Orthodox Church, this concept is neither new nor startling. It even has a name: theosis. Theosis is the understanding that human beings can have real union with God, and so become like God to such a degree that we participate in the divine nature. Also referred to as deification, divinization, or illumination, it is a concept derived from the New Testament regarding the goal of our relationship with the Triune God. (Theosis and deification may be used interchangeably. We will avoid the term divinization, since it could be misread for divination, which is another thing altogether!)

here's the link to the rest if you are curious

http://www.antiochian.org/node/16916

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Pete at Home
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VL, the theme is also developed in Revelations chapters 2 and 3, the verses addressed "to he that overcometh." Also in John chapter 17.

In response to Carlotta's question, would you agree with my statement that this life often serves as purgatory, and the spirit world prior to resurrection also may also involve great suffering for sin, like in the Dives parable? Or do you see it differently?

quote:
Thus in Orthodoxy you have Saint Isaac the Syrian (I think it was him) suggesting that Heaven and Hell could be (note 'could be' not 'is') different responses to being bathed in God's love.
Very close to what we believe. We think that hell is a merciful escape from God's presence for those to whom God's presence would be more agonizing than hell.

[ March 07, 2008, 12:46 PM: Message edited by: Pete at Home ]

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Viking_Longship
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Pete, interesting. Honestly have to say I know pretty much nothing about your religion.

A monk once described Hell to me as being a journy into progressive unbeing and have also heard it described as being unable to feel or expereience love or sense of self.

Orthodoxwiki describes it simply as a very real place of punishment.

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Sakeneko
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Christ is born/will be born! (Depending on which calendar you're on.) ;-)

Hey, cool thread! I'm another Orthodox Christian checking in here, just signed on to the Ornery American Forum. I'm Russian Orthodox, which is the same church but with a different "look and feel" than the Greek or Antiochian Orthodox Churches. It looks like discussion here has died down for a few months, but if anybody has questions about Orthodox Christianity and Viking_Longship isn't here, I'll do my best to answer.

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munga
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VL

on Theosis-

Why wouldn't it be more likely that the writer of those verses was referring to our divine inheritance as children, or offspring, of God, whom we call "Father"?

Or our status as heirs?

[ January 03, 2009, 12:52 AM: Message edited by: munga ]

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Viking_Longship
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Munga

As to what the psalmist wrote we don't have any more insight into his meaning than you do. However in our cosmology that would seem like bleeding into Christs unique status as begotten, as opposed to ordinary human who are created beings.

Sakeneko, welcome aboard! Christ is Born!
My condolences on the Falling Asleep of Alexy.

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Carlotta
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Hey Pete,
Don't even know if you're still around but coming back from taking a couple years off from Ornery I've got to start somewhere. You wrote,

"In response to Carlotta's question, would you agree with my statement that this life often serves as purgatory, and the spirit world prior to resurrection also may also involve great suffering for sin, like in the Dives parable? Or do you see it differently?"

I agree. We're supposed to become more and more like God, less and less attached to sin, in this life. Purgatory is just kind of the last-chance for people who still have a bit of unfinished work to do.

As far as the "spirit world prior to resurrection" having suffering that purifies, yes, that's what Purgatory is. Purgatory isn't a forever thing, no one stays there forever and at what we call the Last Judgment (the end of time and beginning of eternity, when God will judge everyone and raise up the bodies of those who have died), Purgatory will cease to exist.

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Pete at Home
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I just saw that this thread was moving. Cool. I think when I posted in this before that it was in the General section.

One thing that puzzles me about both life and purgatory is I like to think of purification, of approachment to God, as a learning process. And yet the scriptures are replete with statements of purification through suffering. Pain can be instructive, but surely it's not always so, and I have a hard time believing that even most pain is instructive. One can wallow in misery. There seems to be a sorrow of the damned. Scriptures hint at godly sorrow vs. other kinds. and yet I have a hard time picturing purgatory being primarily a place of godly sorrow. This isn't a lead up to a sermon ... I'm honesty not sure what to do with it. Job, if anything, suggests a third class of sorrow -- stuff that simply must be endured. That sometimes **** just happens, though not necessarily for our benefit. All we can do is say I know my redeemer lives and look forward with hope for a better day.

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Athelstan
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Is there any truth in the story that the Russian Orthodox Church is considering sainthood for King Harold of England? He is seen as defending the English Orthodox Church against the invasion, or crusade, by the Papacy in 1066, only twelve years after the Great Schism.

quote:
By the time that William had been ten years on the throne there were only three English bishops left. At his death there was only one, the saintly Wulfstan of Worcester. The same process was carried out with regard to abbacies, and indeed with all-important places of ecclesiastical preferment. By 1080 the English Church was officered entirely by aliens.

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Star Pilot 111
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I don't know if this is correct in many ways but here it goes.

I have an understanding that Purgatory is like the spirit prison. If we haven't repented of our sins then it's to late to repent. In the Garden Jesus suffered so that if we repent of our sins we would not have to suffer. Here we will suffer for not repenting, even the suffering that caused Jesus, even God, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed from every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit. Then we will be allowed, through the atonement of Jesus Christ, to live in our resurrected bodies.
Something like that.

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