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What I find interesting, after reading through all of the links relating to Metropolitan Jonah on OCA and OCA-related web sites is how little some factions of the OCA understand the very concept of primacy, and how they mistake congregationalism for conciliarity. This is going to be a major problem for the OCA, for other Orthodox jurisdictions that go down this path, and, potentially, for the ecumenical dialogue. The current administrative structure of the OCA would seem to make a mockery out of the primacy of the Metropolitan, reducing him to a functionary or titular spokesman for the Synod and Metropolitan Council. Such a structure seems uncanonical and just a little too close to the kind of structure established in Russia when Peter the Great abolished the Patriarchate and put the Holy Synod in its place. There is no balance here between primacy and conciliarity, just an attempt on the part of some parties to remain fully autonomous within the boundaries of the OCA.

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Is this a result of the number of former Protestants joining the OCA or is it Americanization of the Orthodox patrimony?

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I'm with the "all Americans are subconsciously Protestant" theory. Samuel Huntington famously wrote that American Catholics are just Protestants who like Mary and go to Mass--meaning their mindset and underlying assumptions are strongly influenced by the dominant Protestant culture, and very unlike the mindset found in traditionally Catholic countries. One might also say that American Orthodox are Protestants who love icons and incense.

Beyond that, the small size and divided nature of the Orthodox community means the bishop has always been far away, and the parish the center of church life. Some decades ago, a Russian bishop coming to America was told by his predecessor that "in America, every priest thinks he's a bishop, but every parish council thinks its a patriarch". The congregationalist model has deep roots here.

Adding to the mix we have ethnicity, and with regard to the OCA, the particularly fractious mix of Ukrainians, Russians, Rusyns and converts (the situation in the AOC, with Arabs and converts almost at each other's throats, is even worse). But the Greeks are almost as congregationalist as the OCA, and they are ethnically homogeneous, with relatively few converts (almost all of whom married in).

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My apologies to the moderator, but I have to say that Bishop Matthias' pastoral letter to his Diocese is clearly not intended to 'support' Metropolitan Jonah one way or the other, but it is a clear reiteration of traditional Orthodox teachings and is the same teaching that he learned at Christ the Savior Seminary in Johnstown, PA and reiterated over his pastoral life in ACROD for almost forty years and now as Bishop in the OCA.(It is consistent with Roman and Eastern Catholic teachings as well for that matter!) Methinks that conservative, politically motivated converts within the OCA are trying to put a wedge into Orthodoxy to transform it into a tool for their particular political agenda.

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Originally Posted by StuartK
What I find interesting, after reading through all of the links relating to Metropolitan Jonah on OCA and OCA-related web sites is how little some factions of the OCA understand the very concept of primacy, and how they mistake congregationalism for conciliarity. This is going to be a major problem for the OCA, for other Orthodox jurisdictions that go down this path, and, potentially, for the ecumenical dialogue. The current administrative structure of the OCA would seem to make a mockery out of the primacy of the Metropolitan, reducing him to a functionary or titular spokesman for the Synod and Metropolitan Council. Such a structure seems uncanonical and just a little too close to the kind of structure established in Russia when Peter the Great abolished the Patriarchate and put the Holy Synod in its place. There is no balance here between primacy and conciliarity, just an attempt on the part of some parties to remain fully autonomous within the boundaries of the OCA.

Congregationalism will be the undoing of any attempts to unify Orthodoxy in the Americas.

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Just to clarify (and I hope Theophan will understand I'm not trying to continue the direction of the thread in a wrong direction):

When I spoke of "supporting" Metropolitan Jonah I was only referring to Metropolitan Jonah's encyclical, not anything political. Bishop Matthias refers to Metropolitan Jonah's encyclical in the 4th paragraph of his pastoral letter.

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Originally Posted by StuartK
I'm with the "all Americans are subconsciously Protestant" theory. Samuel Huntington famously wrote that American Catholics are just Protestants who like Mary and go to Mass--meaning their mindset and underlying assumptions are strongly influenced by the dominant Protestant culture, and very unlike the mindset found in traditionally Catholic countries.

If we spin back, umm, maybe shouldn't say show long . . .

I was entering the honors program at Santa Clara' and our classes were pulled prior to regular registrant, so we met with the honors advisor to choose classes.

I thought thattheProtestant Thought class looked interesting.

Dr. Giacomini (?) asked, "will your moth have a heart attack if you take that after her sending you here?" (It was a serious question).

"no; she'll be fine."

He let me into the class.

It turned out that on every sngleissue, including those I'd neverheardbefore, I landed squarely on the Catholic side of the divide ( which was clearly correct :))

Early the next quarter, i stumbled across a gal from the class at breakfast, answe talked about the class. She had found it a staggering challenge to her faith; irsoonded that it had strengthened mine.

She was Protestant.


Anywaya, a s chance would have it, I had the same professor (an ordained baptist minister) my last quarter, for an advanced Protestant thought course (majors only, think, but could be taken by honors).

At the end of the quarter, he took us out for pizza.

Turned out that Dr. G shouldn't have been worried about my mother, but about the prof:

I asked if he remembered me from that course three and a half years earlier.

"it's hard to forget a vocal, unrepentant Catholic."

smile


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I was surprised to hear Metropolitan Jonah say this about the primacy and structures of the Church. He says (about 3:00 into the talk):

"the two traditions have approached this very differently, and their structures have evolved significantly over the past millenium."

The Orthodox have evolved in their structures?
One of the things that Orthodox always tell me is that this concept of development is foreign to Orthodoxy who has kept the faith intact for 2000 years unchanged, while the Roman Church has developed into such a state that it no longer bears resemblance to the Apostolic faith handed down.

This appears to be a contradiction to me. Either the ecclesiology of the Orthodox Church developed, or it didn't. If the Orthodox accuse Rome of so much development, how can it ignore its own, saying Rome's development is unorthodox, yet their development is not?

I don't get it.

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The Orthodox have evolved in their structures?

Yes, of course. The very notion of autocephaly has been inverted, and the idea of "autocephalous" national Churches would have appalled the Fathers. The ecclesiology of the Orthodox Church, down to 1453, was essentially that it inherited from the undivided Roman Empire: the Empire provides a focus of unity in both secular and sacred matters, which is not to say that the Empire was the Church, but that the Empire existed to uphold the unity of the Church, and the Emperor acted (or attempted to act) as mediator in Church disputes.

Since 1453, the Orthodox Church has been trying to find a substitute for the Emperor as locus of unity--the Ottoman Sultans, the Russian Tsars, the Soviet Kommisars--none has worked. The system of autocephalous Churches is an attempt to work around the absence of a primacy that used to be provided by the Roman Emperor. Meyendorff addressed this well in his book "Imperial Unity and Christian Divisions".

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One of the things that Orthodox always tell me is that this concept of development is foreign to Orthodoxy who has kept the faith intact for 2000 years unchanged, while the Roman Church has developed into such a state that it no longer bears resemblance to the Apostolic faith handed down.

As Robert Taft likes to say, "A nation is a people united by a common misunderstanding of their shared past". The Orthodox have changed; no objective historian, Orthodox, Catholic or secular bothers to deny it. So, too, has the Latin Church changed--despite repeated protestations from Catholic traditionalists that "the Church never changes!" Humans are passible; we are always changing. God alone is impassible and never changes. The Church is a sacrament of the Kingdom of God, not the Kingdom itself, so it, too is subject to change. Change is part of human nature.

The issue, then, is whether the changes each communion has undergone in the past thousand years are compatible with the faith of the Fathers. I suspect that both Catholics and Orthodox will be unhappy with the answer to that question, and neither will be entirely satisfied when communion is restored through a common understanding of the patristic vision of the Church.

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Well said Stuart.

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The idea that Orthodoxy is exactly the same as it was 2000 years ago is ridiculous and contradicts many Orthodox writers, assuming you have a proper understanding of "development". "Development" does not mean that anything "new" per se emerges, but that (paraphrasing Abbot Vaseilios of the Monastery of Iviron on Mount Athos) that the Church, when necessary, expresses new formulations of what has always been believed in response to the needs of the church.

Jesus did not leave us the terms "homousios", "one person in three hypostases", or "ousia" and "energia". Those terms - critical for Eastern Chalcedonian Christianity - were developed later to (in our belief) express what has always been believed, what God has revealed to us and what we have lived since the time of the Apostles - but were developed for those particular debates. That is, philosophical formulations are used to describe the life of the Church when necessary. Some would also say that getting too hung up on precise aspects of these formulations has created needless divisions (e.g. the Chalcedonian vs. Non-Chalcedonian debate).

Now, it seems to me there are differences between this and Newman's (not necessarily authoritative) concept of "development" which he used in polemics. I'm not read well enough on Newman to judge how divergent they are. And both to my mind are different from concepts like "evolution of doctrine" or the like - the claim is that they're not new, or even outgrowths, be new expressions of what's always been believed.

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Stuart,

Thank you for your comments. I don't mean to sound like, "can't we all just get along", but it seems to me that the Western Church needs to realize and admit how much it has evolved and the East needs to realize and admit how much it has evolved before either side can stop pointing out the splinter in the other's eye, while attempting to ignore their own plank (or down play it, at least).

Part of the healing process is in realizing that you yourself have contributed greatly to the problem, and need to change, and a lot less pointing out how much the other side needs to change. I don't see much of that from either Rome or the Orthodox Patriarchs. There are parts of it here or there on both, but there needs to be a whole lot more.

If the big brother is supposed to be the one to do the leading, then I suppose it seems that Rome has to really take the big steps first, in humility and brotherly love. Just my 2 cents.

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Originally Posted by MarkosC
Jesus did not leave us the terms "homousios", "one person in three hypostases", or "ousia" and "energia". Those terms - critical for Eastern Chalcedonian Christianity - were developed later to (in our belief) express what has always been believed, what God has revealed to us and what we have lived since the time of the Apostles - but were developed for those particular debates.
Couldn't we say the same about Trinity too, as this is a word not found in the Holy Scriptures?


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I'm no expert on the historical origins of the word "Trinity"....

... but my impression is that it did come from the era Nicea, and if that were so the same would apply. Of course, according to "Byzantine" theology, the Trinity itself is preeternal, and was revealed at Jesus' Baptism - and mentioned by Him Himself when he told His disciples to baptize in the name of the "Father, Son and Holy Spirit" (among other places).

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Originally Posted by StuartK
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The Orthodox have evolved in their structures?

Yes, of course. The very notion of autocephaly has been inverted, and the idea of "autocephalous" national Churches would have appalled the Fathers.
Not exactly.

Many of the Fathers didn't (or couldn't) distinguish between the Church's and the Empire's claims of universality:St. Cyril made the argument to the caliph that when Christ said "render under Caesar," He meant the Emperor of the Romans, not rulers in general.

St. Gregory the Illuminator was very keen on founding an Armenian National Church, which became autocephalous in his grandson (the Catholicosate was long hereditary) who also founded Armenian and its liturgical language. Constantine wrote of St. Nina's conversion of Georgia that he prefered the spread of the Gospel to the enlargement of his empire, and the Georgian Kingdom had an autocephalous Church a century and a half after him. Armenia and Georgia's neighbor Caucasoid Albania also had its own Church.

Within the Empire, Cyprus' defense of its own autocephaly is the canon (8 of Ephesus) which formes the basis of the independence of an autocephalous Church from interference of other Churches. St. Boris consciously founded the Bulgarian Church, as did St. Sava the Serbian Church. So the "nationalist autocephalous Churches" have their models from the first millenium.

So the structures have evolved to the extent that most of them are no longer in one Empire, and thus are more independent than previous.

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