Monday, September 29, 2014

Why don't we all just become Orthodox? Why not the OicwRs' way and WRO?

Mirroring our criteria for valid orders in defining the great Catholic family of churches (credal orthodoxy so basic the Nestorians pass, unbroken claim of apostolic succession, and uninterrupted true teaching about the Eucharist), which is the churches with the creeds AND bishops thus the Mass, the Anglican branch theory as filtered down through Anglo-Catholicism (not the original one: "the best branch is both Catholic and Protestant"; the ancient churches are genuine churches but in grave error and superstitious) has the insight that except for a few differences an inch wide but infinitely deep (the Pope), we are more or less the same. Use St. Vincent of Lérins' popularly attributed canon for orthodoxy (always, everywhere, and by all), with the Orthodox' seven (or nine) councils or even the Nestorians' two, and you get, essentially, Catholicism.

Orthodoxy is not a separate religion from us. It's Catholicism 1.0.

So why, say Orthodox apologists including the ecumenical kind on message boards, and their OicwR acolytes, are we so stubborn about the latter-day claims of "the Bishop of Rome"? If we are essentially the same church, parts estranged from each other (as we believe, rightly understood), and thanks to Western Rite Orthodoxy, we can even keep the traditional Latin Mass (as St. Augustine's and St. Mark's in Denver have it), the rosary, etc. (plus the regular Orthodox rite is not at all Novus Ordo), why are we standing in the way of what they perceive as the clear way to unity? If you can have essentially Catholicism thanks to immemorial custom with as few as two councils of defined doctrine, why doesn't Rome, as old Catholic friend Joe Pugh put it, "undefine" recent doctrines and simply state "this is what we think"? And then be received economically into Orthodoxy, our clergy in their orders, including the Pope? What do we have to lose?

First, Orthodox believe as a valid opinion that Latin Catholicism has been a complete fraud since the split. Buy that? Me neither.

Second, their teachings on divorce and remarriage (thou shalt commit adultery when it's pastorally prudent) and on contraception don't make sense. Until 1930 all Christians agreed with us; now the Orthodox and the evangelicals cautiously accept contraception, as the mainline did in the '50s; now the mainline is pro-contraception. Much teaching on sex now thought of as weirdly Catholic is really simply Christian, historically.

Third, it may be hip in a beatnik Orientalist way to attack the Latin Church's "legalism" but as Pope Benedict XVI said at Regensburg, talking about St. Thomas Aquinas, our God is not only mystical, always at least a step beyond our complete comprehension (otherwise we'd be him) but completely rational (Aristotle and the Schoolmen defining reason as conforming yourself to reality: the faith is about seeing things as they really are), unlike that of the Orthodox' fellow Easterners, the Mohammedans. Our post-schism doctrines don't contradict what went before so there's no need to repeal them, if that were possible.

Because of that, we believe in logic and precedent, yes, like lawyers in a courtroom. Overturning defined doctrine would mean the church is fallible, what Protestants, including high-church ones, believe. Once you start, logically, you can't stop; what's to stop you? We'd be like the Episcopalians with their General Convention or the Mormons with their living Prophet. Start by dropping papal infallibility, the Immaculate Conception, the Assumption (the story's Eastern!), and transubstantiation, and you'll domino into accepting women priests, abortion, same-sex marriage, and even dropping the creeds and their doctrines: apostasy.

So while we appreciate these estranged Catholics' (and well-meaning but wrong Catholics') offer, our answer's a kind no, thank you.

6 comments:

  1. Apparently this guy is buying their snake oil:

    http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,61307.msg1195550.html#msg1195550

    http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,61307.msg1195760.html#msg1195760

    He sounds like he drank the hack Romanides' kool aid of pseudo history.

    Anthony

    .

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  2. Whether your criteria is pure logic or patristics, orthodox teaching on divorce is infinitely more sensible than Catholic teaching on annulment where you can be married 20 years, have 6 kids then get it annulled. I would debate that any day of the week in my sleep. I mean for goodness sake, divorce is actually biblically sanctioned, whereas annulment is totally uncontemplated.

    Legalism: it seems to me that Catholicism teaches that you can sin, get hit by a bus, and then certainly go to hell. That's the kind of legalism that bothers us orthodox, and it's not just an esoteric argument about ethereal mysticism.

    Do your post schism doctrines contradict what went before? Hard to say, because all that scholasticism collapses into ethereal confusion if you ever try and pin down which teachings are doctrinal. I've been able to get well known catholic apologists to admit that the statements of western "ecumenical " councils are doctrinally false, but then they claim, oh well, those are not actually dogmatic statements. What a mass of confusion Catholicism is.

    Start by accepting papal infallibility, the Immaculate Conception, and you'll domino into accepting women priests, abortion, same-sex marriage, and even dropping the creeds and their doctrines: apostasy.

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    1. We can't annul valid marriages. Marriage, like anything, has requirements, and if something's not met, then while legally it was a marriage (so the children are legitimate), sacramentally, which is what the church cares about, it wasn't. Like the old story about the counterfeit $20 bill. Somebody may have done a lot of good with it by spending it, but it still wasn't really the government's promise of $20 in gold or silver payable to the bearer on demand at the bank (what our money used to be and should be but that's another post topic), or (today's "money") didn't have the government's "full faith and credit" backing it.

      Legalism: it seems to me that Catholicism teaches that you can sin, get hit by a bus, and then certainly go to hell. That's the kind of legalism that bothers us orthodox, and it's not just an esoteric argument about ethereal mysticism.

      Good thing that's not what we teach. It seems to me both our churches teach that actions have consequences, so if you really have sinned and aren't repentant, you risk going to hell.

      I don't need sophistry to "prove" something at an ecumenical council was or wasn't a dogmatic statement because all I see in history is the Pope defending the set of beliefs I've listed here and repeated many times, and sultans, tsars, and Communist dictators denying he has, for their own selfish reasons.

      Start by accepting papal infallibility, the Immaculate Conception, and you'll domino into accepting women priests...

      Very funny, Mr. Orthodox Apologetics. I guess that's why the Episcopal Church is what Anglican old high churchmen and Tractarians said it was, conservative to the bone, sticking to the letter of scripture and the fathers, saying the papacy is a dangerous innovation. After all, the Catholic Church has women priests, approves abortion and same-sex marriage, and might make the creeds optional. Oh, wait.

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  3. I have a friend who is fond of saying that he really likes hip coffee houses, he just doesn't care for their employees or their customers.

    That approximates my impression of scholasticism. It's fine of itself, but when it comes up in conversation, I mentally prepare myself to be "hit with the Aquinas stick again," as if he and Aristotle were the only two men to ever put pen to paper.

    (Caveat: No, of course not all scholasticism devotees are like that.)

    And I'm Catholic, and thus recognize Aquinas' greatness. But I can see where an Orthodox could quickly develop an allergy to scholastic monomania.

    So also with the alleged "legalism" of the Roman Church. The laws are fine of themselves, but there is definitely an ultranomian current at this time, originally a defensive reaction to the antinomian western schisms, and now exacerbated by the chaos of the last 40 years.

    My gut says that it's probably more extreme in the Anglosphere, whose religious culture has long been weighed down by schism debates, and due to the unusually well-developed discursiveness of English-speaking cultures.

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    1. Yeah, church life can be annoying that way.

      I don't know the details of what you're writing about but I think I understand. Aquinas is the greatest theologian but the church has many schools of thought and spirituality, including the un-scholastic, unlatinized version (Orthodoxy minus schism) of Greek Catholicism.

      Also, many Orthodox adopted scholasticism, partly because of arguing with Protestants; what hip academic Orthodox now call Orthodoxy's "Western captivity." You ended up with things like ROCOR, a successor to the tsarist church's ways; they hate our guts because they've worked so hard to be like us, a rival true church trying to use our method against us, for the glory of Mother Russia.

      20th-century intelligentsia Orthodox found a new way to be anti-Western, by copying our liberal ressourcement theologians instead of the scholastics. So both Jordanville and St. Vladimir's, to give the right and left academic ends of the spectrum in the Russian tradition, are knockoffs of us. My impression is St. Tikhon's is a practical priest-training school with maybe a Sunday-school level of theology/Orthodox apologetics; all most people including priests use, just like our Baltimore Catechism, getting the point across to all, including the dim and/or unspiritual.

      It's long been said that Catholics in northern (Protestant) countries try to follow the letter of the law more than the naturally Catholic, laid-back Latin ones, the northern approach maybe being both reflective of their culture and an effect of being under seige as a persecuted minority. Both approaches have their pluses and minuses.

      ...the antinomian western schisms...

      You mean the Protestant faiths? More than schisms; heresies.

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    2. It's long been said that Catholics in northern (Protestant) countries try to follow the letter of the law.

      Long ago, observers of the Catholic scene from way back told me that the European bishops at Vatican II were sure American Catholics wouldn't rebel against our teachings, so "progress" would only help the church. They thought American Catholics were docile second-generation ethnics in a Protestant culture who would only do what they were told, nothing more. They underestimated the problems of our Protestant host culture, the mother of Unitarianism and secular humanism, not being familiar with it. Or maybe the malefactors among European churchmen then, such as some of the Germanics (fellow northerners: "the Rhine flows into the Tiber"), DID understand what Protestant influence would do here.

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