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Is Modernism a current issue for the Orthodox Church?

Discussion in 'The Ancient Way - Eastern Orthodox' started by David Cabrera, Jul 1, 2019.

  1. David Cabrera

    David Cabrera Well-Known Member

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    I read in an article of Orthodoxinfo that that is the case. What do you guys think about?
     
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  2. Monk Brendan

    Monk Brendan Well-Known Member Supporter

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    To some Orthodox, using the New Calendar is modernism.

    Can you be more specific about what you mean by this word?
     
  3. gzt

    gzt The age of the Earth is 4.54 ± 0.07 billion years

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    Not really. It's poorly defined and we're all modernists - you might find Charles Taylor's A Secular Age enlightening on that front (it's extremely long, but it's really a series of connected essays).
     
  4. David Cabrera

    David Cabrera Well-Known Member

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    From the article:
    So how has this affected Orthodoxy in the United States? Today one can see the following: New-calendar churches, typically, have accepted many of the "trappings" of Roman Catholic and Protestant churches. They, for the most part, have pews in their churches, some have organs (!) and electronic carillons instead of bells, their Priests, and in some cases even Bishops, most often wear "clerical collars" and suits (outside of the services), almost all clergy have short hair and trimmed or no beards, and like to be called "Father Tom," or "Father Al." The services are typically shortened, frequently even Saturday-night Vigil services are eliminated. The new-calendarists have relatively few monasteries and monastic clergy. Many churches thrive on Bingo, and almost all have lay "presidents" of the congregation, who, together with a parish council, direct the affairs of the church. Being a Freemason is not considered to be in conflict with Orthodoxy.

    On the other hand, traditionalist Orthodox parishes will never have pews, organs and the like; their clergy will never be seen without a rasson (they wouldn't be caught dead wearing a "dog collar" and "clergy shirt"!); no one would dream of addressing them as "Father Tom"; they typically do not cut their hair or beards (unless required by outside employment); the services follow a much fuller Typicon; the Priests are rectors of their parishes and they are themselves the "presidents" of the parish corporations, with the parish council acting in a more advisory role; there are far more monastic clergy and many monasteries and convents. Freemasonry is soundly condemned as incompatible with Orthodoxy.

    Another significant area dividing traditional Orthodox from their "modernist" brethren is the area of Ecumenism. To a traditionalist Orthodox, ecumenism is an outright heresy, condemned by innumerable Councils who clearly forbid praying with heretics. The new-calendarists, on the other hand, are very active participants in the "ecumenical movement," in the WCC and the NCC, notwithstanding the incredible mixture of paganism, new-world thinking, radical feminism, and other weird stuff that goes on at WCC assemblies.
     
  5. Pavel Mosko

    Pavel Mosko Arch-Dude of the Apostolic Supporter

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    I would have to say it would have to be, seeing how Communism was a major issue a few decades ago, and that movement was just one small part of modernism.

    And then you get to more contemporary issues like feminism, the gay movement etc. where people want to change established Christian dogma and tradition based on "new enlightened perspectives".
     
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  6. ArmyMatt

    ArmyMatt Regular Member Supporter

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    depends on what you mean. the fact that Orthodox can push for things like homosexual "marriage," abortion, or the rehabilitation of Origen are definite threats (not to the Church though, just to certain members).

    but stuff like tab collars or clergy shirts are not.
     
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  7. David Cabrera

    David Cabrera Well-Known Member

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    Probably another thing is the abuse of Eikonomia with issues like contraception, divorce, and being received in the Church. I feel bad realizing I couldn't answer to someone if using contraception is a sin in Orthodoxy when it has been prohibited for 2000 years.
     
  8. rusmeister

    rusmeister A Russified American Orthodox Chestertonian

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    It kind of guarantees a brushfire if you start a thread without immediately including the quote you are referring to, and not defining terms.

    If, as gzt says, we are all modernists, then the word doesn’t mean anything, it makes no distinctions. It IS true that we all live today (duh!) and in that sense are modern, but that can’t be what the word means. The word does have objective meaning, from Latin, “moda”, “fashion”, compare with Russian “sovremenniy”, “so-vremenem”, literally “with the times”. One thing I have learned is that if you go with the times, you go where all times go - into the past, to be forgotten. To be modern in that sense is to be doomed to be outdated.

    It refers to passing things, the antithesis of eternal truth. So yes, there is definitely a distinct phenomenon that is definitely pushing to introduce the Spirit of the Age, the Zeitgeist, into the Church. In the quote you offer, it lists a number of small things. I agree with Fr Matt that not all of them are a threat, though I don’t think it good in general that we should become more like the Christian West that fell away from Orthodoxy.

    I do think worldliness to be a threat, and Bingo in church is something that sets off an alarm bell, as does ecumenism, which seeks to ultimately establish that it doesn't matter whether one is in the Orthodox Church or not. Those ARE threats. The rest are not good, but are not major threats. They (like pews) have small bad effects, but not large or massive ones. The upshot is that it is better not to have those things, and to ask what the Church has been doing over the past millennium, and conform ourselves more to that as far as possible, but if we make Roman/Western tab collars the focus of our concern, we aren’t going to be taken seriously. It is only a symptom, not the cause.

    The real central cause is the heresy of our time, which isn’t even ecumenism, but the idea that “We can know better than the historical Church” (maybe we could call it ‘Meliorism’, after the Latin for “better”?). It says that, because we live today, because we have the internet and iPhones, modern education and science, we can correct the “misunderstandings” of the fathers, and the consistent ancient practice of the Church. THAT is the source of the real modern threat to the Church.
     
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  9. David Cabrera

    David Cabrera Well-Known Member

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    I agree that's why I also mentioned an abuse in Economia for certain things.
     
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  10. ArmyMatt

    ArmyMatt Regular Member Supporter

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    it's what CS Lewis called chronological snobbery.
     
  11. rusmeister

    rusmeister A Russified American Orthodox Chestertonian

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    Yes. But it has reached a point of actual heresy, of denying traditional Church teaching, asserting that the Church must "try new, experimental ways", through talk of "a living Tradition", implying that faithfulness to a permanent Tradition is somehow not "living Tradition". Snobbery itself is against Church teaching, but this goes beyond snobbery, and can affect any and all aspects of Church life.
     
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  12. ArmyMatt

    ArmyMatt Regular Member Supporter

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    yeah, but that's what heresy has always been. read some of the justifications of some folks for rejecting Chalcedon. it was basically that they knew better now, even though Chalcedonian language can be found in earlier Fathers.

    I think the new aspect to this, at least that I have seen, is this idea we must try new things that you point out.
     
  13. gzt

    gzt The age of the Earth is 4.54 ± 0.07 billion years

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    Lewis' chronological snobbery is looking down on the past because it's the past, we're too enlightened to believe that. What I'm saying is nothing of the sort. What I'm saying, rather, is that we deceive ourselves if we think that we can turn our mode of thinking, shaped by modernity, back into the sort of immanent frame experienced in the pre-modern era (and, I would contend, we deceive ourselves if we think that's desirable). Traditionalist reactions to modernism are not a return to being, say, medieval but are conditioned by their modernity. I think you would really like to read Charles Taylor or, failing that, James K A Smith has a digestible thing that I haven't read but which other people seem to have liked, How (Not) to Be Secular: Reading Charles Taylor, though this assertion also draws on MacIntyre. The Smith book is discussed for a good chunk of this episode of The Areopagus, if you're interested: Are We Doing (Youth) Ministry Wrong? - The Areopagus | Ancient Faith Ministries
     
  14. gzt

    gzt The age of the Earth is 4.54 ± 0.07 billion years

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    I would also say that, while that site has a lot of good information, it also has a lot of... schismatic... information.
     
  15. ArmyMatt

    ArmyMatt Regular Member Supporter

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    I don't think you are saying that in this thread. so, to your point, St Dmitri of Rostov was very influenced by Baroque terminology which came from the West but was influential in the Slavic world doesn't make him any less a saint.

    I don't think what you brought up is what we are talking about when it comes to modernism, which is not the same as being influenced by the modern world (which you are right to point out we cannot not be influenced by).

    and thanks for the resources, I will give them a look when I can. by the way, you were right when it came to St Augustine. while I don't think his view was in line with the East, it certainly was there.
     
  16. buzuxi02

    buzuxi02 Veteran

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    Big time problem. Unfortunately generally speaking mainline christianity is a modernist religion.
     
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  17. GoingByzantine

    GoingByzantine Seeking the Narrow Road Supporter

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    Post Modernism is probably an even bigger threat to Orthodoxy, especially in the west. When everything goes and there is no morality, what does that say about our society? The sad fact is that postmodernism pretends to preach that there are no absolutes when in actuality it has created a system of extreme "progressive" agenda items which seek to crush anything that is not deemed to be postmodern.
     
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  18. rusmeister

    rusmeister A Russified American Orthodox Chestertonian

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    What we ought to desire is that our mode of thinking be turned toward and aligned with truth, and that the ancient Christians were modern unto themselves and influenced by their own modernity as we are by ours. But being influenced is like being tempted; it doesn’t mean being controlled, unless we give in. We can resist influences in wrong directions, if only we are aware of those influences. We also have the power to think about any idea we have, or action we take, and so can discover whether an influence is in line with what has always been true or not. A “Traditionalist reaction” to modernism COULD be conditioned by their modernity (though I would argue that it is very unlikely; it would be the unconscious inheritance of past prejudices which happen to be good and right prejudice), but can equally be conditioned by conscious thought and desire to come to the truths that the saints of all centuries came to, and what has always been affirmed, in which case it would be a right and proper reaction.

    I also read modern non-saints and even non-Orthodox writers. But unless they are pointing to that eternal Truth and the right ways of apprehending it and Him, I’m not interested. (I may need to read one so that I may refute him, if the need arises, but that’s another kettle of fish.) Whoever I’m reading ought to be affirming the same ultimate views and conclusions that we find in the consensus of the fathers, and denials of that consensus are just lies, founded on the truth that there were many disagreements, and ignoring the greater truth of the massive agreement on central things. It all comes back to whether we are in the Church of the fathers, or are making up our own with modern thinking, and that’s what is meant by modernity in the Church.
     
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  19. gzt

    gzt The age of the Earth is 4.54 ± 0.07 billion years

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    I definitely wouldn't say he is any less of a saint!

    It really is, though you folks go off into some idiosyncratic definitions of modernism conflating it with all the evils of the world. Much of what distinguishes modern argumentation about, say, morality from medieval modes of argumentation are present in both people in favor of the modern project and its (modernist) detractors (this is one of MacIntyre's big arguments).
     
  20. rusmeister

    rusmeister A Russified American Orthodox Chestertonian

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    OK. So we’re saying that there is definite, permanent morality, which the Church teaches us, and that we can know what is and isn’t moral, generally speaking, and you are saying that that understanding is only our own taste, our whim.You then shift to talking of “modern argumentation” vs “medieval modes of argumentation”. What does “medieval” have to do with anything?? “Medieval” is just an arbitrary historical period whose maximum limits are 500-1500 AD, and the Church goes back further than that. Go ahead and bring your MacIntyre here, I’m not going to run off and read him, but he doesn’t sound like an acknowledged Church father to me. I won’t even quote Chesterton unless what he is saying is backed by the fathers and supports that “idiosyncratic” understanding of morality the fathers evidently had.

    It’s slippery talk, that consistently implies that the traditional Church teachings on morality are wrong, or “outdated”, using words to dance around what you are trying to promote, rather than coming right out and saying it.
     
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