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Early Christian Heresy and the Purpose of Orthodoxy

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posted on Feb, 27 2011 @ 03:48 PM
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There are many conspiratorial beliefs that dog the Christian faith, but one of the most pervasive is the suppression of the truth. This is usually couched in claims that the Bible has been rewritten, that texts which point to views on the nature of God and Christ were intentionally scrubbed from the Bible, and that the Roman government, in the person of Emperor Constantine, is responsible for our current understanding of Christianity.

As usual, parts true, parts not so true, but mostly, a bit of misunderstanding. We'll try to sort it out, by looking at the notions and purposes of heresy, orthodoxy, and two of the earliest "Alternative Christianities", the Ebionites and the Marcionites, offshoots that emerged in the early Second Century. I will deal with a third heresy, that of Christian Gnosticism, in a separate piece at a later date.

(At this point, I need to point out that what follows is a defense of orthodoxy, not the Catholic church. Though I am Orthodox and I agree with many of their theological positions, I am not a Catholic, and hold a rather dim view of past and current church failings.)

So, to begin, we need to define our terms. In a very broad sense, you may consider "orthodoxy" to be "that which is in harmony with the teaching of the Church" and "heresy" to be "that which is not in harmony". Orthodox teaching is that which is authorized and/or conventional -- from the Greek words orthos, which equates to "right" and doxa, which means "thinking", it literally means "right thinking." Heresy, on the other hand, is defined as being "wrong teaching."

While the terms heresy and heretic have taken on a highly negative connotation, because of the barbaric treatment of heretics in the Middle Ages, in the early Church, it was a common and reasonable practice. Both Jesus and Paul describe how to deal with heretics in the New Testament, which was to try and convince them that they were incorrect, to reason with them, and if they wouldn't listen, you kicked them out of the Church. That was it -- no torture, no burning at the stake -- you just told them to leave. Today, it is seen in the practice of excommunication, and in the social rejection of shunning, as practiced by some Amish and Mennonite churches.

To understand the need to deal with heretics, consider a high school mathematics teacher who persists in "wrong teaching". They teach that pi is 4.2, or that 2+2=5 or some other obvious error. How do you deal with that? Well, you would probably go and talk to them, to persuade them that they are wrong and that they are leading their students astray, and if they refuse to listen, you fire them. It's the same thing with heresy.

Getting kicked out of the church was likely a bit traumatic, but it didn't have a big impact on some heresies. As we will see, the person espousing this unorthodox opinion, along with their followers, often went off and started their own church, wrote and collected scripture which supported them, and made a go of it. The general failure of the early heresies likely cannot be laid at the feet of oppression by the orthodox church -- it was still being persecuted itself at that point, and wasn't large or powerful enough to crush the competition. More likely is that the orthodox arguments (which we will see in a moment) were more persuasive than the unorthodox claims were.

So, if we've a state where the church says something, and that is considered to be correct, and anything which is contrary to it is considered to be wrong, what makes the church right in the first place? To a certain degree, they weren't -- though I've been using the term orthodox to describe the teachings in the Second Century, it is more accurate to call the teachings at the time "proto-orthodox", because the church was still in a theological infancy. People were still trying to figure out some very "big picture" issues, so it's not surprising that some seemingly odd notions might develop.

Proto-orthodoxy was based on a number of criteria, but the most important was the reliance on being in harmony with scripture. Something did not necessarily have to exist in scripture to be considered orthodox, but it could not be in conflict with it. For example, there is no explicit mention of the Trinity is the Bible. However, early theologians needed to come to grips with the fact that the Synoptic Gospels hinted at Christ's divinity, the Gospel of John outright declared it, and other parts of the New Testament, as well as historical evidence, indicated that the earliest Christians, including those who knew Christ, worshipped him as God. That seemed in conflict with the Jewish faith, so the Doctrine of the Trinity was developed to try and explain it. It is not necessarily correct, but it is reasonable, it answers the question in a way that does not conflict with scripture or tradition, so it is an orthodox belief, and anything which teaches contrary thought is likely to be viewed as heresy.

As an example, we can look to the Ebionites, probably one of the first major heretical Christian sects. To understand their perspective, one has to remember that Jesus was Jewish, all of his followers were Jewish, and, at the time, the very notion of a non-Jew following the Jewish Messiah probably seemed as nonsensical as we would view a Conservative Jew following Christ today. Paul, of course, opened the door to the controversy by preaching the Gospel to Gentiles, and the early church struggled with whether you needed to be Jewish to be a Christian -- did a Gentile need to convert to Judaism (including circumcision) and then follow the Judaic Law in order to follow Christ? Paul argued no, in a very logical and eloquent fashion, and his opinion eventually carried the day.

The Ebionites, however, disagreed, rejected Pauline Christianity, and insisted on strict adherence to Torah, including circumcision, dietary and social law, and exclusion from those who did not do so. In addition, they did not view Christ as anything but a person, specially chosen by God for his righteousness, to be prophet and Messiah. The church rejected these claims, declared the Ebionites to be heretics, and kicked them out of the church. However, the sect lived on for quite some time, one of the major Jewish only Christian sects, with their own churches and literature.

A second example from around the same period was the polar opposite -- Marcionism, which was based on the teaching of Marcion of Sinope, a Bishop in the early church. Marcion was a dualist, which put him at odds with the Jewish aspects of Christianity, which through its Judaic heritage, is not a dualistic faith. The Marcionites rejected the whole of the Old Testament, taught that the God of the Jews was a lesser being, and embraced a view of Christ that had already been rejected by the New Testament writers, Docetism, which held that Christ was not a human being at all, but was a purely spiritual being. Marcionism is similar to Gnostic Christianity, except that Marcion did not believe in the secret knowledge of gnosis, he felt that the writings of Paul and the words of Christ held all that you needed to know. To that end, Marcion created his own canon of scripture, which included an edited version of the Gospel of Luke and the letters of Paul. All other texts were rejected as being too Jewish.

Both the Ebionites and the Marcionites represented views which were radical departures from orthodox Christianity, were rejected as being heretical, and those who held those beliefs were given the boot. Pushed outside of the general church, they failed to find sufficient followers who agreed with them, and they are mostly relegated to history texts now.

Probably one of the biggest early names in heretical refutation was Tertullion, who seemed to have a particular beef against Marcion, but spread it around in his writings on heresy. His Prescription against Heretics is a good read for understanding the methodology and rational of the proto-orthodox in defending Christianity from heresy. I'm not a fan of his textural criticism, but Bart Ehrman's Lost Christianities: The Battles for Scripture and the Faiths We Never Knew is a good recent source, though it is heavier on Gnosticism than anything else.

Another good resource that collects many early Christianity variants, but most particularly Marcionism, is Charles Waite's History of the Christian Religion to the Year Two Hundred, which may be found online here. It should be noted, however, that Waite comes to some unlikely conclusions about the relationship between Marcion's version of Luke and the Gospel which appears in the New Testament, though he backtracks a bit in the preface from the claim that Luke was written after Marcion.

A final question that arises is this: if orthodoxy is a result of being in harmony with scripture, then what makes something scripture? What makes it canonical, and thus a valid reference for determining validity? If, for example, Marcion's eleven books were considered canon (ironically, Marcion was the first one to suggest that there should be an official canon,) then Marcionism would be orthodox. For the early church, the criteria were three: to be considered canonical, a text had to be in harmony with the rest of scripture, it had to be in widespread use, and, most importantly, it had to have an Apostolic connection -- it needed to be written by, about or for someone who actually knew Jesus.

For that reason, the early church selected the four Gospels, with two of them being written by the Apostles Matthew and John, one written by a follower of Paul, and Mark, whose Gospel is considered to be a compilation of the sermons and stories of Peter. Similarly, Paul's epistles and the other apostolic letters, as well as the Revelation of the Apostle John, were considered to meet these criteria. Modern scholars question the authorship of Matthew and John, as well as the letters of Peter, the "pastoral" letters of Paul, and who the John of the Revelation of John was, but the church fathers in the Second and Third Century, for whatever reason, did not have these doubts, and, thus, the canon that we have.

With all of this in mind, we can see that, contrary to popular belief that the tenets of Christianity were imposed by an arbitrary Roman fiat hundreds of years after Christ's death, orthodox Christian belief began developing shortly following the end of the Apostolic Age, and served to define, shape and direct theology, by being able to point back to beliefs that were in harmony with both tradition and scripture. Similarly, teachings which were clearly in opposition to orthodoxy were easily refuted by referring back to the orthodox belief and its foundations.




posted on Feb, 27 2011 @ 06:10 PM
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I'm glad that I caught this thread; I was studying the Ecumenical Councils last night. It is so rare to find a coincidence like this that I wish to contribute from my political philosophy background.

Concerning the Ebionites and Marcionites;

I think that it is likely that in the earliest days of the Church, when the Apostles and their disciples were fleeing Roman persecution at Jerusalem, the Church was more splintered than ever before and ever since in its history. Each group of disciples fled to a different part of the world and founded new ministries there, ministering to the broad Jewish diaspora of the Eastern Empire and nations (gentiles) even further abroad. In the early days, what mattered most was belief in the value of the message of Christ, not so much its specific interpretation.

I believe that in the early Church, gentile converts would have been permitted solely because there was no administrative mechanism that could expel them. The Jewish Christians probably resented the pagan converts from the outset, and didn't articulate themselves so clearly until there was a well developed correspondence between the various Churches. At that point in time, the Church would divide into two opposed parties (Ebionites and Paulines) each repudiating the other because of their completely incompatible beliefs. The Church was more or less harmonious in the early days, but they did not realize that this tension was simmering, waiting for a chance to express itself. As in parliaments today, the Church probably had a majority that was caught between these two extremes, sometimes favouring the one and sometimes the other, creating a patchwork, compromise covenant for the Church - the proto-Orthodox positions are, in my view, political moderation and were successful because of their real political usefulness, not their spiritual satisfaction.

Origen had his own canon of 29 books, if I recall. It seems to me that canons were developed by theologians who sought out as many books written about Christ as possible, and judged them based on the principles of theology that they had learned from their tutors. I think that the criteria for acceptance were probably more along the lines of political platforms than truth-value; certain parties in the Church favoured this theologian's canon over that theologian's and there was no really consistent means of judging their validity.



posted on Feb, 27 2011 @ 08:29 PM
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reply to post by SmedleyBurlap
 


Thanks for the reply. I think that you're right about the fragmentation that occurred following the destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD. We often don't recognize the state of communication of that time -- even writing wasn't all that common, so it is not surprising that isolated islands of theology would emerge. Bear in mind that each part of what we now consider standard doctrine of the church was a possible point of contention, so if this group over here had one view of the cross, but this group over there had a different view, they would need to be reconciled.

This didn't necessarily mean a declaration of heresy, nor would such a declaration always result in excommunication. Even early church fathers, like Origen or Augustine, made some theorizations that were rejected by the Church, but they either dropped it or modified their views.

The very nature of the Christ story, I think, was what encouraged speculation. A lot of mystery, but the real motivation seems to be the success of Christianity, and the desire to incorporate that into other belief systems. Ebionism, saw in Christ the promised Messiah, and, refusing to give up their Judaism, they were forced to dismiss his divine nature, evidence to the contrary.

Marcion, on the other hand, made the observation that the God of the Old Testament seemed quite contrary to what he believed was reflected in Christ, not surprising for a Gentile, and so he incorporated aspects of classic Platonic philosophy into the story, in order to be able to excise the Judaic part of Christ.

On the subject of canon, it definitely evolved over the first couple of centuries, but there is a fragment that has been dated back to 170AD, which lists the canon much as it is today, with the exception of Hebrews, James, 1 and 2 Peter, and one of the three Johnian epistles, and with the addition of the Shepherd of Hermas and the Apocalypse of Peter (though the latter is noted to not by universally accepted.) Origen had something similar, 30 or 40 years later.



posted on Feb, 28 2011 @ 06:30 AM
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Originally posted by adjensen
Marcion, on the other hand, made the observation that the God of the Old Testament seemed quite contrary to what he believed was reflected in Christ

One reason why it's valuable to consider old heresies, and the reasons why the church can't accept them, is that they keep coming back.

E.g., it's commonplace in modern times to see people making the false distinction between the "judgemental God" of the Old Testament, and the "loving God" of the New Testament, which is another version of Marcion's claim.

While devoted Christians can be so concerned to emphasise the divinity of Christ that they sometimes wander into unconscious Apollinarianism (i.e., failure to recognise the full humanity of the mind of Christ).

I think these things reflect the natural tendancies of the human mind, which is why they keep coming back under different names.



posted on Feb, 28 2011 @ 07:40 AM
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Yes, this is a very good thread. I also like your Zeitgeist expose thread,

www.abovetopsecret.com...

Like that one, this thread clarifies many things that are widely misunderstood. Bravo.

Where you and I differ in this thread is that I don't think there is much pre-exisitng orthodoxy. I think it emerged from the contention of different views. The losing views, any of which might have become the orthodoxy, are heresy mainly retrospectively, after the votes are counted, at least if we are talking about early Christianity. (That is, we aren't discussing heretical revivals or outright rebellions.)

Not to be all Darwinian, but I think you got the basic mechanism correct. I just think maybe you loaded the identification of the players. Proto- is a nice prefix, and I'll use it myself in a moment, but you do believe, I think, that the proto-orthodox were correct from an orthodox view, not merely the credal ancestors of today's orthodox.

I think it came down something like this - like your story, only a little different. A proto-Christian congregation gets together at noontime one Sunday at the local synagogue, and a variety of views are expressed. Maybe

A. Jesus is both God and human,

B. Jesus is a man-simulation used by God to walk the earth in a form that people could understand, and

C. Jesus is a man who achieved union with God during his lifetime.

Factions form around these positions, and next Sunday, the same people meet at the same synagogue, but now the A group meets at 9 o'clock, the B group at 11, and the C group at 2:30. Competition is good, and factions compete for converts not only to Christianity, but to A-ist, B-ist or C-ist Christianity.

Eventually the A-ists have the most members by far. Where you think that's because they have a factually correct view, I think it may be, in part, because the other groups are meeting at the prime times for recruiting unaligned people, when the A group, having already had their meeting, is out there pressing flesh and bending prospects' ears.

Flash forward 1,950 years, and you are (surprise?) an A-ist, and cannot imagine being a B-ist or a C-ist. Your atheist opponent never misses a chance to remind you that the last few B-ists (or was it the C-ists?) were purged under Constantine's approving gaze. Whichever idea Constantine didn't get became a meme, and whenever it re-emerged, as it did among the Cathars, its adherents were ruthlessly mudered by the Roman Catholic Church.

And make no mistake about it, you are no less personally responsible for those murders just because you're a Methodist
.

I acknowledge that this model is broad-brush, and will not work at all with opportunistic never-were-Christians-who-wanted-in-on-the-game, like Gnostics. But you did hold those folks back for another time, and so did I.

I think the B-ists and C-ists may have been just as sincere in their Christian witness as the A-ists. You think the B-ists and C-ists were mistaken. I think maybe they just lost.



posted on Feb, 28 2011 @ 08:28 AM
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Originally posted by DISRAELI

Originally posted by adjensen
Marcion, on the other hand, made the observation that the God of the Old Testament seemed quite contrary to what he believed was reflected in Christ

One reason why it's valuable to consider old heresies, and the reasons why the church can't accept them, is that they keep coming back.

E.g., it's commonplace in modern times to see people making the false distinction between the "judgemental God" of the Old Testament, and the "loving God" of the New Testament, which is another version of Marcion's claim.


Well, in Marcion's defense, if one is not Jewish, or open to working out what some of the acts depicted in the Old Testament imply, it's easy to see why one could come to this conclusion. Marcion compounds the problem, as did the Gnostics, by being dualistic, which results in "sprint good, material bad" thinking, and from there it's an easy path to "If Jehovah made this lousy place, that doesn't say much about him, does it?"

However, once those issues are set aside, a congruency throughout the whole of the text emerges, particularly if one avoids absolute literalism. God having temper tantrums is not consistent with an eternal, unchanging being, so if one doesn't recognize bits like that as being allegorical, I'm not sure how it's reconciled.

You're right -- these sorts of things come back, again and again, so it's a good thing to be able to recognize the issue, and be aware of the previous refutation of it.


While devoted Christians can be so concerned to emphasise the divinity of Christ that they sometimes wander into unconscious Apollinarianism (i.e., failure to recognise the full humanity of the mind of Christ).


I am often guilty of this, myself. I can't remember the sect offhand (it might even have been Marcion) but there was a stated belief that there was no incarnation -- that the divine part of Christ entered him at John's baptism, and left him prior to the crucifixion, and for a while, that seemed reasonable to me. But the problem with that is that it not only refutes the incarnation, but it refutes Christ himself, because we don't want there to be a "suffering Messiah", we want a triumphant one, not realizing that the triumph is IN the suffering.



posted on Feb, 28 2011 @ 09:11 AM
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Originally posted by eight bits
Yes, this is a very good thread. I also like your Zeitgeist expose thread,

www.abovetopsecret.com...

Like that one, this thread clarifies many things that are widely misunderstood. Bravo.

Where you and I differ in this thread is that I don't think there is much pre-exisitng orthodoxy. I think it emerged from the contention of different views. The losing views, any of which might have become the orthodoxy, are heresy mainly retrospectively, after the votes are counted, at least if we are talking about early Christianity. (That is, we aren't discussing heretical revivals or outright rebellions.)


No, actually I think we're in agreement on this, maybe I didn't articulate it very well, wouldn't be the first time. I believe that we started with a basic truth -- Jesus Christ, whose story needs to be reconciled back to Judaism (I'll deal with that more specifically once I get to the Gnostics,) and is represented in the four Gospels. From this root, we have the teaching of the Apostles, which makes up the rest of the New Testament.

The validation of those books needs to be in its harmony with the rest of it. Paul has a very different view from, say, the Ebionites, but he argues his point from scripture, and succeeds in demonstrating that Christ did not abolish the Law, but he fulfilled it, and that anyone who put their faith in the Law, rather than Christ, would be lost, because while the Law told us how to keep God's Covenant, it is only through Christ that we are able to do so.

I have long asked vocal detractors of Paul to cite instances where he is in direct conflict with Christ, or where he is in direct conflict with Torah law, and I've yet to have any takers. As a dyed in the wool Protestant, I am big on Sola Scriptura -- scripture alone holds the basis for salvation, it doesn't come from proclamations, or theology or anything else.

So I agree that orthodoxy emerged piecemeal from the theological musings of the church fathers, as ideas were debated and defended, some accepted, a lot dismissed, but I would say that most of the arguments arose out of whether the claims were in harmony with scripture -- Ignatius' early claims regarding the incarnation of Christ, as contrasted with Marcion's "holographic Jesus". Marcion was claiming something that was contrary to many places in scripture, where Jesus is explicitly shown to have a physical form, while Ignatius can point to places in the Gospels and Epistles that testify to the incarnation.

(An argument can be made, at this point, that if scripture was something else, Marcion would be right and Ignatius the heretic, but as I wrote in the OP, the books existed prior to these debates, and they became canonical for specific, legitimate reasons. However, I will openly admit that, as an Orthodox Christian, these are the books that I put my faith in, so it likely is easier for me to accept Revelation of John rather than the Apocalypse of Peter.)


I think the B-ists and C-ists may have been just as sincere in their Christian witness as the A-ists. You think the B-ists and C-ists were mistaken. I think maybe they just lost.


I very much agree. I don't doubt the veracity of Marcion, from Marcion's point of view (there are those who believe that many heretics had ulterior motives, as regards political or personal reasons for dissenting, but I consider a lot of that to be pettiness on the part of their detractors.) He had what he felt were legitimate issues with the proto-orthodox views, and, as he attracted followers, he could obviously convince others that there was something to what he was saying.

However, I believe that the reason for the heretics' loss is twofold. First, I think that the arguments made for the orthodox view are sounder and easier to defend. Part of that is my earlier reference to scripture being holistic -- if Marcion had "won", the entire Old Testament would have been thrown out, and that is problematic, because both Jesus and the Apostles were Jewish and relied on Judaic beliefs for their points of view. The other part is a personal failing -- I am, by nature, a very logical person, and the logical claims of people like Tertullian or Augustine resonate more with me than the more emotional arguments of Marcion or Valentinus.

Secondly, as a person of faith, it is important to recognize that we believe that orthodoxy is correct because it is influenced to be correct by the machinations of God. In other words, if Marcion was correct, we believe that God would have helped him become the dominant force within Christianity, not someone relegated to the dustbin of history. I have commonly said that, were Paul not given that revelation on the road to Damascus, Christianity would be very different, and likely even non-existant today. But he did have that revelation, didn't he?

Thanks, as always, for the feedback, my friend!



posted on Mar, 2 2011 @ 02:55 PM
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I was reading about Arianism the other day - the next major controversy in early Church history.

Arianism is called a heresy today, but it appears to me that it was more in line with the orthodox interpretation of Scripture than its main opponent, Trinitarianism. The scholar Arius denied that Jesus and God are one and the same person - which seems to be the obvious interpretation of the Gospels. I mean, for one thing, God can't die and it takes some real twists of logic to explain that one away.

Arius was opposed by a significant proportion of the clergy at the time, and when Constantine assembled the Council of Nicaea to resolve the controversy, the council decided against Arius. The victorious opposition was led by the energetic young Alexandrian priest, Athanasius.

The controversy really began because the new patriarch of Alexandra, Alexander, had said that the Son was very much like the Father. It seems to me that Alexander was the heretic, contradicting Origen and the standard view of Alexandrians at the time. Arius was denounced by an insurgent Trinitarian party at the council called by the emperor.

I did a bit of research into the origins of Trinitarianism, and it seems that it entered Christianity through a Greek convert, Athenagoras. He had been a Platonic philosopher/cultist and introduced the trinity doctrine that had been applied to Greek, Egyptian and Babylonian deities in the past. Hardly orthodox Judeo-Christianity.

More later.



posted on Mar, 2 2011 @ 06:03 PM
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reply to post by adjensen
 


Thank you for this thread, I'm very tired of pointing out the myths that surround the council of Nicea and Constantine's supposed usurpation of Christianity. Constantine considered himself subordinate to the Bishops at the council and called the council for his benefit to give himself a clear picture of the faith. Another myth as prevalent as the myth that Nero played the fiddle while Rome burned (they didn't exist back then), is that Nicea messed with the Canon and removed texts when in fact it was the Council of Laodicea that did this. It was at this council that the Canon was narrowed and this is where Enoch, Jubilees, Epistle of Barnabas, and Revelations were deemed heretical. Their canon decisions were overturned obviously, but by that point Enoch and Jubilees, who many of the Church fathers revered as scripture, were out of circulation except among the Ethiopian Orthodox. In reality, the Canon wasn't officially closed until the 1600's as a response to Calvinism which apparently made it as far as Greece.

By the way, are you Eastern Orthodox? I've seen you refer to yourself as Methodist and Orthodox. Did you convert to Eastern Orthodoxy since you started posting or do you mean that you are an Orthodox Christian Methodist?



posted on Mar, 2 2011 @ 07:51 PM
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Originally posted by SmedleyBurlap
I was reading about Arianism the other day - the next major controversy in early Church history.

.. snip ..

More later.


Cool, looking forward to it. I'm not sure how far ahead I'll go, I'll do the Gnostic Christians, and probably something about the history of Scriptural Canon, and beyond that, I don't know.



posted on Mar, 2 2011 @ 08:08 PM
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Originally posted by kallisti36
By the way, are you Eastern Orthodox? I've seen you refer to yourself as Methodist and Orthodox. Did you convert to Eastern Orthodoxy since you started posting or do you mean that you are an Orthodox Christian Methodist?


Thank you for the comments and support, I fully agree that it's important to at least get the word out about misconceptions that are furthered, intentionally or not, but people like Dan Brown.

I am, by membership, a United Methodist, but Methodists tend to be all over the map, and I lean (heavily) toward the Catholic end of the Methodist spectrum. That is partially due to my orthodoxy, partially due to the fact that my wife was Catholic and I went to Mass with her a lot (and still go once in a while today.)

The church that I am likely most aligned to, doctrinally, is Anglican, but I don't get on with the Episcopalians, and I don't feel like crossing the border every Sunday for services, so I stick with the Methodists, which was originally something of a sub-culture within the Anglican Church.

My comments regarding being Orthodox relates to my efforts to maintain a simple faith, which isn't buried in politics, social complications, and church dogma. There is a movement (coincidentally led by a Methodist seminarian, Thomas Oden,) called Paleo-Orthodoxy, which exhibits much the same perspective that I have, as regards Christian unity, and I probably consider myself to be an adherent of it.



posted on Mar, 2 2011 @ 10:23 PM
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reply to post by adjensen
 

I actually played around with paleo-orthodoxy myself, mostly because I wanted a faith based off of the Church Fathers who descended from the Apostles, but was really concerned by iconography. In the end I decided to listen to the Eastern Orthodox perspective on their icons and learned that they actually have standards with what can be depicted and how, and that they do make a distinction between veneration and idolatry (which will get you excommunicated). In the end they presented their case very well in my mind and I decided to go with the unbroken tradition as opposed to a fabricated return to the roots (which is also my issue with Messianic Judaism and Neo-Ebionite groups). I figured there was apostolic succession, because Ya'hshuah told Peter "You are the rock on which I will build my Church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it". This is a passage I was well familiar with being an ex-Roman Catholic and it is their favorite passage for Apostolic succession. The thing is, with the Roman Catholic Church is that the gates of hell did prevail against them when they committed genocide after genocide. Bearing in mind that Protestantism came out of the Renaissance-Proto Enlightenment days they don't qualify for the Church. Then the only candidates would be the ancient Churches that descend from the Church Fathers, those being the RCC, the Eastern Orthodox, and the Oriental Orthodox church. RCC loses because as Ya'hshuah told us "you will know them by their fruit" and RCC fruit is genocide, oppression, and a bad image that undeservedly hangs over innocent denominations. In my mind the Oriental Orthodox church loses for being mono/miaphysite when Christ clearly has two natures; Son of Man/Son of God. So that leaves the Eastern Orthodox Church which retains the old asceticism, mysticism, liturgy, and tradition unbroken for over a thousand years. Anyways, these are just my thoughts on the matter, I don't think you are going to hell (the concept of which is different in Orthodoxy) for not being part of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, I just think it's the closest to the origins.

edit on 2-3-2011 by kallisti36 because: (no reason given)



posted on Mar, 3 2011 @ 08:29 AM
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Originally posted by kallisti36
So that leaves the Eastern Orthodox Church which retains the old asceticism, mysticism, liturgy, and tradition unbroken for over a thousand years. Anyways, these are just my thoughts on the matter, I don't think you are going to hell (the concept of which is different in Orthodoxy) for not being part of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, I just think it's the closest to the origins.


That's a very interesting perspective, thank you so much for sharing it. There's not much that I can find at fault in your reasoning, and I have no doubt that God looks at what we've managed to do with religion and shakes his head, if not weeps (figuratively, of course.) But it all plays its part, for good or for ill, and one day, perhaps, we'll understand the big picture.

I have no means of exposure to the Eastern Orthodox Church barring, again, going into Canada for services. When my wife lived in Minneapolis, I remember there being an EOC up the street from her townhouse, and at one time I was going to try and get her to go to a service there, but it never happened.

So what I do know about Eastern Orthodox is from books and lectures, but I do find it interesting. The whole veneration of icons thing is a bit odd, from my Protestant perspective, but not off-putting, as my Catholic influences and studies have allowed me to understand the notions. And, truth be told, I pray every morning before a Crucifix that was given to me at my wife's funeral, and that would raise a few eyebrows amongst my Methodist brethren, I'm sure.


One thing that absolutely fascinates me, for reasons that I don't understand, is the Light of Tabor, the Uncreated Light. When I heard about that, I really latched onto the concept -- if you ever want to write up something on that, I would sure love to read it.

It is all means to an end, though -- finding fellowship with God through one avenue or another, and then reflecting that light into the world. My interest in orthodoxy (especially Paleo-orthodoxy) is in finding that connection in its simplest form, with the expectation that this would also likely be its purest form, and then recognizing that, while doctrine has merit, it is a refinement of MY end of things, not God's. He's fine with that simple, fundamental connection.



posted on Mar, 4 2011 @ 06:25 PM
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Fascinating thread......please continue! There are so many isms and schisms relative to the early church and the origins of the Holy Bible. I find it amazing that Christianity today could be anything like Jesus intended.



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