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Ecumenicism and John's Epistles

Discussion in 'The Ancient Way - Eastern Orthodox' started by AMM, Aug 22, 2019.

  1. AMM

    AMM A Beggar Supporter

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    I've got a question I've been wondering about. Now, before we get started, I'm not saying that all churches are equal, that every religion is true, etc. Just want to get that out of the way. I believe the Orthodox Church is the Church founded by Christ Himself, and that it possesses the fullness of the faith, once for all delivered to the saints. That's why I converted to Orthodoxy and why I'm posting in the Orthodox subforum.

    Nonetheless, how should we interpret other Christian denominations when it comes to St John's epistles? I'm thinking of one passage in particular:

    1 John 4
    1 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God (. . . .) 15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.

    Members of other churches will confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh and is the Son of God. So how do we handle that without falling into ecumenicism? Does my question/confusion make sense?
     
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  2. Antoni

    Antoni Member

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    If we are to love our enemies, imagine how much more we are to love those who confess Christ is the Messiah and Son of God?
     
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2019
  3. Antoni

    Antoni Member

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    We must love them and see God in them. That doesn’t mean we will forsake the Church He established and the teachings which have been passed down through the Holy Spirit.

    We must love all men, for all have the image of God in them. That does not mean that we must follow them and deny what the Lord has taught and established.

    There is a line between neighborly Ecumenism and Ecumenism which leads to degradation and corruption.

    Delineating that line is above my pay grade. Nevertheless, the Councils have given us some guidance and boundaries, most notably prohibiting worshiping together or sharing in the Holy Eucharist. The reasons are extremely important and necessary, and is a reason how the faith and the body has persisted from the days of the Apostles until now.

    In the meanwhile, we trust that God knows much better than us what is needful for the other, even as we struggle to help and give them hope. Considering how many sins we have, let us concentrate on fixing our own house and removing the camel from our own eyes, so that we may see clearly to help our neighbor with the speck in theirs.

    And lastly, remember that on that day of Judgment, many will call Him ‘Lord’ and He will deny them, for though they believe Christ is God, so too do the demons believe this. Faith without works is dead, as the Apostles taught.

    Rather, it is those who do the will of the Father who are sons and daughters of God, and He will sort everyone out in the end with divine mercy and justice. In the meanwhile, we pray for all.
     
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2019
  4. AMM

    AMM A Beggar Supporter

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    What counts as "worshiping together" in this context? And can you elaborate on the reasons for this?

    If they worship the same God, why may we not worship together? (I understand the prohibition on sharing the Eucharist)

    Sure, that makes sense. It reminds me of a quote, which I can't find online now, but essentially the monk (I think he's a saint?) says, "you ask about the non-orthodox, don't worry about them; worry about your own sins, because they have a savior who loves them just like he loves you" or something along those lines
     
  5. charsan

    charsan Charismatic Episcopal Church

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    Makes sense and a great question.
     
  6. Antoni

    Antoni Member

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    Because in the experience of the Church through the decades initially and then the centuries, it has become clear that when worshipping together without unity of mind and spirit, as one body of likeminded baptized members, then scandals, corruption and degradation can occur to both the faith and the holy traditions which were handed down by the saints before us to guard and to continue.

    It is a matter of defending the faith. When worship is co-mingled, experience has shown, it often leads to a slippery slope and further schism.

    As for the Holy Eucharist, as you know, there are even greater reasons why this cannot be shared with the heterodox.

    I think that was St Paisios, but I may be wrong.
     
  7. ArmyMatt

    ArmyMatt Regular Member Supporter

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    Christ being the Son of God and coming in the flesh is a heavy thing to unpack. usually about 10 minutes into that discussion, you can see that we don't confess the same thing.
     
  8. AMM

    AMM A Beggar Supporter

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    Does worshiping together only include corporate, liturgical worship? Or are personal prayers with non-Orthodox okay?

    What about ecumenical dialogues and events? There's an orthodox church in my area that partners with a catholic church each year for dialogue about areas of common concern (marriage, abortion, refugees, etc.) and it includes a vespers service. I think in previous years it's been hosted at the orthodox church (with orthodox vespers), but this year it was at the catholic church (with catholic vespers).

    What about something like venerating relics of a saint that may be in a non-Orthodox church? For example the relics of St. Jerome (my patron) are at the church of St Maria Maggiore in Rome. Would going to a Catholic church and venerating the relics there be crossing a line?
     
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  9. AMM

    AMM A Beggar Supporter

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    can you expand on that a little more Father? What sort of differences can you think of?
     
  10. Antoni

    Antoni Member

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    Quite true. We mustn’t forget, the Church has been contending against heresies and distorters of the faith since the very beginning, even as the Apostles walked the earth. Such decisions as keeping closed communion started with them and the prohibition against worshipping with heterodox was produced through the same spirit, namely, to protect the faithful.
     
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  11. Antoni

    Antoni Member

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    Great question. Above my pay grade and knowledge. My understanding is that corporate liturgical worship is prohibited. Personal prayers with non-Orthodox is likely also prohibited, but there may be some leniency and economia in this regard. That would be up to the Bishop from my understanding.

    This is where I also am stuck on, as such events of fellowship are important, however celebrating vespers together may be crossing the line.

    I don’t think that is crossing the line if the Saint is listed among the Orthodox as well.
     
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  12. ArmyMatt

    ArmyMatt Regular Member Supporter

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    I once had a Protestant tell me that for Christ to be fully man, He has to be a human person as well...
     
  13. ArmyMatt

    ArmyMatt Regular Member Supporter

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    yeppers.
     
  14. All4Christ

    All4Christ ✙ The Handmaid of God Laura ✙ Supporter CF Senior Ambassador

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    Father has told me that it is fine to pray personal prayers with my family. We often say the Lord’s Prayer before dinner, and pray for each other in times of sickness, trouble, etc. For example, when my cousin was dying, we all supported each other during that time, and asking God for help was part of that. (You can also pray and ask God to help while being in the same area at the same time as others praying, and be respectful as well.) Now if there is something beyond what we believe, I don’t participate in that.

    Corporate liturgical services gets into another matter. The Assembly of Canonical Bishops in America website has guidelines for that - in regards to what is or isn’t allowed.

    Father also said that I can visit with family for occasions such as weddings, baptisms, funerals, etc. I try to not skip our service though when possible by going to an alternate time at their church - and it is not a regular occurrence.

    Having non-Orthodox family introduces pastoral guidance in how this is handled.
     
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  15. JohnTh

    JohnTh Newbie

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    It is about the teaching (path). We should not validate the wrong path. If I pray personally and the other are next to me and/or I pray for my friend Joe this doesn't validate his teaching (his path). It is just John praying for Joe which is a very laudable thing - a sign of love. However when „the orthodox pray WITH Catholics” this means that we provoke scandal by validating a wrong path.

    We must make difference between heresy and heretics.

    Not good. Besides the fact that is a validation of their teaching (see above) - the paths are very, very different and in fact one can quickly see that if one enters in real theology of our salvation unfortunately the other denominations are just playing about church - they only remain on the ethical plane. Of course, (see the link above) we cannot judge people and there can be some which really are seeking God and really good men but the atmosphere is definitely wrong and that's why the grace won't act.

    Well, you can do that, but you will feel the Catholic cold in there (no offense intended, I say it with love).
     
  16. ArmyMatt

    ArmyMatt Regular Member Supporter

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    to piggyback on this, I was also told it's okay if I am the one leading the service. if I am not leading, I stand quietly and respectfully close by, but I don't participate.
     
  17. JohnTh

    JohnTh Newbie

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    ...If the others come by and attend. This is okay because you do not validate them. You simply cannot throw them out and even if you could is contrary to what Christ told us. Yes, I saw such cases and ain't good.
     
  18. Knee V

    Knee V It's phonetic.

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    At the time that 1 John was written, the two "choices" were catholic/apostolic Christianity, or gnosticism (or perhaps proto-gnosticism), which taught that the flesh was either an illusion or was evil. Gnostics posing as Christians taught that Christ did not possess human flesh and was pure spirit, hence John's frequent emphasis on Christ's flesh and the Incarnation.

    I keep John's words strictly in they context: Gnosticism vs Apostolic Christianity.
     
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  19. ArmyMatt

    ArmyMatt Regular Member Supporter

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    right, if the Orthodox are leading it, it's no different than an inquirer, and is a great way to evangelize.
     
  20. AMM

    AMM A Beggar Supporter

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    I will also say - the clergy did not co-celebrate. If I'm not mistaken, that would be considered crossing the line for sure. But the orthodox priest was praying the prayers, singing the hymns, etc. that were led by the Catholic clergy. And I'm guessing the Catholic clergy did the same thing when the service was hosted at the Orthodox parish, but without co-celebration.

    I didn't know there were guidelines from the Assembly of Bishops... I'll look into that and see what I can find.

    The priest that chrismated me also allowed me to go to my old Lutheran church while I was a catechumen when a friend was having a special occasion. And he encouraged me at one point to go to a specific Catholic parish because he wanted me to see something specific there for teaching purposes. But generally I'm with you - I'll try to still go to an Orthodox service that week, ideally on Sunday morning, receive the Eucharist, if I can schedule it

    That article about heresy vs heretics is very interesting. And the pictures are lovely!

    And on the topic of the catholic service - like I said above, the priest wasn't co-celebrating. But I do get what you're saying
     
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