A Generous Orthodoxy
09-04-2008, 02:58 PM
As we have considered St. Cyprian, and now as you bring up St. Ignatius, this is very helpful. What I mean is . . . now we make a move, I think, to comparing ecclesiology with church polity. We are now asking:
I.) How are ecclesiology and church polity one in the same?
II.) How are ecclesiology and church polity to be distinguished?
and, yes, St. Ignatius was very early which I think makes his writing invaluable as we might also consider such concepts as evolving vs. emerging, as well as transcending.
I hope no one thinks that I am attempting to set up a false dichotomy as I suggest a consideration of ecclesiology and church polity, because I am not. I have used the word distinguished above, not separated or divided. But, as you say John, take St. Ignatius read all of his letters--or focus on the eight that all agree are not spurious--extract all of his writing that applies to this discussion and cut and paste it into a single essay (which I have in the past). And, I am willing to bet one steak and kidney pie dinner that you will find what I have found, that there is no local visible church that follows the model laid down by St. Ignatius.
And, please do not take this personally (I wouldn't include this if I thought you would); however, what do we accomplish when we appeal to one like St. Ignatius in a conversation such as this? Granted, I am the eternal idealist, but again, as we may point to one such as St. Ignatius to demonstrate how things ought to be, as opposed to how things are, where is the value in this method knowing that I can go in and strip out texts from him in the same way showing that today no single church subscribes to the very clear and practical instructions he recorded as it relates to church polity.
But, to get back to what you have provided from the saint in the following:
Quote:. . . if sanctification is to be yours in full measure, means uniting in a common act of submission and acknowledging the authority of your bishops and clergy ...
I would also like to ask:
1.) Does the current low view of the hierarchs expressed on other Orthodox sites openly and regularly speak to the poor state of the Church (a symptom of non-unity)?
2.) Or, does this view speak to the poor state of the hierarchy in our day (a symptom/causality of non-unity)?
Let's be honest here. We are adults, You read and hear the same things that I do [or more for sure], on an increasing basis I am hearing and seeing the hierarchs portrayed as being out of touch, distant, withdrawn, and impotent figureheads--objects of ridicule. In short, they seem to be being viewed as obstacles and hindrances to unity.
And, I love it that you reference Abba Seraphim, and liken him to a bridge. The more I read of Abba the more he gets my attention in a very good way. Honestly, the more I read of him the more his stock goes up.
But, here's the thing, here's where the rubber meets the road, where the ball meets the bat--when you say:
Quote:When the bishop takes the lead here, the rest of us can follow.
I think, with the above comments in mind, what about "When" he doesn't and what about "the rest of us?"
It is clear that in the land of Eastern Orthodoxy, Abba is the great exception and not the rule.
In theory what you have shared via St. Ignatius is a thing of beauty. In fact, any who have read all of his letters see a divine design for happy, healthy, functional local visible churches--and a genuine union of these churches which make up the eucharistic community, the Community of communities. Sounds pretty good doesn't it?
But, back to earth. As you have also said:
Quote:So, in that sense, we cannot move apart from our bishops . . .
I would add to this growing list of questions: Where do we need to "move" to or "move" from?
And, we can consider developments in Church Tradition over the years as it relates to changes in church polity. We can examine the reasons why. We can split hairs over the difference between words such as evolving and emerging. But, in the end, as it relates to all of this and a genuine Christian unity, just as I and probably almost every reader and contributor of this thread will never participate in a divine liturgy together because of geography . . . how ludicrous is it really to just subscribe to a "transcending" of all divisions in Christ? Sure this is abstract. This is up in the clouds in most folks view. But, Dear John, lest we are insincere when we call each other brother in Christ in our posts . . . are you, the OO, and me, the EO, not concrete examples of moving beyond what would divide us? I think of you Peter, in practice, do you and I not also practice a generous Orthodoxy, in the here and now, which does in deed transcend all divisions in Christ?
And, as it relates to a genuine unity such as this (assuming it is genuine), where is the place of ecclesiology? . . . What is the role of the bishop, or the priest, or deacon?
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 - Rick Henry - 09-04-2008 02:58 PM