The British Orthodox Church

within the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate




 
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New Members 2008
25-01-2008, 10:49 AM
Post: #1
New Members 2008
I notice that we have quite a few new members joing us this month. Can I extgend a warm welcome to all of them and encourage them to introduce themselves and to let us know how this forum can be of any assistance in their searching.

It is great to have you here and we look forward to hearing from you in dues course.
Big Grin

In peace,

John

In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (1 John 4:10)
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04-02-2008, 03:08 PM
Post: #2
 
Thank you for your kind welcome.
Allow me to introduce myself.I am a 62 retired doctor and a Roman Catholic
My theological knowledge is minimal and did not even realize that there was a British Orthodox Church.
It therefore gave me great pleasure to find your site and the existence of the Orthodox Church in the UK.
The posts show a great deal of theological knowledge,depth of belief and a desire to share,help and inform.
Reading about the differences between the Catholic and Orthodox beliefs I find that the Orthodox views are often more aligned to what "feels right" .
The simple substitute of "through" instead of "and" answered the FILOQUE problem" from the Father and the Son" Which I could not understand previously.

"Our Daily Life" is excellent-congratulations on its publications.
As I become older the prayer of silence is becoming increasingly attractive and needed.
The closer to Christs' true unadulterated historical message we can get the better.

A few Questions-Which is the "best bible" easily available in English to read.There appears to be divided opinion.The one which is true to the Orthodox tradition and accurate translation. King James appears to be popular-there does seem to be a poetry there missing in some translations.

Is there a study web site?Which covers the basic essentials for a newcomer.

The Roman Catholic Church has individual guided silent retreats- of 6-8 days duration Is there similar within the British Orthodox Movement?
The object being to be guided about orthodox beliefs,the opportunity to discuss ,think and pray in silence.

Living in Devon the nearest Orthodox Church appears to at Glastonbury-nearly 120 miles away . A retreat therefore is an ideal way of gaining knowledge and experience.
A few of my many Questions as I embark on my journey of trying to understand.

Thank you for this site a great source of joy and knowledge. John Francis
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29-03-2008, 10:31 PM
Post: #3
 
Thank you John and Rick for your welcome. Forgive me if I talk about myself for a short time.

It was disingenuous of me to describe myself as a fed-up Anglican; I am more fed up with myself than with the church.

For possibly garbled reasons Orthodoxy holds an immediate interest for me. Orthodoxy with a small o strikes me as miraculous, and so a church which emphasises orthodoxy is worth thinking about. I think I have read that there is a close affinity between Orthodox and Anglo Catholic spiritualities. My criticism of some churches is that whilst they may be good at packing ?em in, they don?t know what to do with/for those they have packed in; but Orthodoxy seems to have an integrated approach to this, to function as I imagine a church should. Finally, I must admit Orthodoxy calls to mind various romantic notions drawn from Russian film and literature!

But. I have a gut feeling that even if my connection with my current church is shaky, it is wrong to shop around for the church which best suits ?me?. To put it crudely (and, I know, ambiguously) you work with what God gives you. The one thing I have previously taken from Orthodoxy is the prayer which includes, ?Teach me to treat all that comes to me throughout the day with peace of soul, and with firm conviction that Your will governs all?.

Anyway, what I have just said may make me look like a more serious Christian than I really am, so I will park it, and ask a couple of basic questions:

 Authenticity is obviously a key issue. If I understand it correctly, OO claims to be a continuation of the original third century church, thus cleaving to the original, and therefore authentic, orthodoxy; and that other churches represent a falling away from this. If scholars were to reconstruct the original church from the available records how closely would that resemble the modern OO? The reason I ask this is to try to pin down in my mind exactly what I am looking at in OO. How much of it, for example, is recent tradition? Where does the Liturgy of St James fit into OO?s authenticity?

 The idea of Orthodoxy with a British ethos is attractive to me. I guess it is something which is worked out in practice. Or is it mainly a question of language, with other aspects of observance and worship being either (understandably) non-negotiable or subject to encouragement to conform?

My apologies if these questions are the wrong ones; or if they are already answered elsewhere in this excellent forum. I am starting from a low baseline.

All being well, I plan to attend a BOC service next week.

John Usher
(I accidentally anonymized myself when registering for this forum!)
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29-03-2008, 11:17 PM
Post: #4
 
Dear John,

You are quite right about not shopping around for Churches; and I wonder how many of us could be as honest as you in saying that it may be yourself as much as your Church with which you are 'fed up'?

For me it was more a case of realising that the Anglican Church had left me behind; where it was going was not where I was going. As it wrestled with women priests and its relations with the State, and with whether it was broad enough to comprehend those who did not believe in God, I came to realise it no longer needed the likes of me holding it back from where it seemed to want to go.

I had always considered myself an orthodox Christian, so Orthodoxy beckoned, as it had done for a long time. But the Russians and the Greeks seemed to think one had to be of their ethnicity to be orthodox; that wasn't what I got from Acts 15 - but there we were. That was where finding the BOC was a gift from on High.

To answer, as best I can, your very good questions:
Quote:If scholars were to reconstruct the original church from the available records how closely would that resemble the modern OO? The reason I ask this is to try to pin down in my mind exactly what I am looking at in OO. How much of it, for example, is recent tradition? Where does the Liturgy of St James fit into OO?s authenticity?
We model our Liturgy on that of St. Cyril of Jerusalem, and that is one of the earliest there is; the St. James is a version of that, still used by the Syriac Church, which is our original mother Church, so it is a nod towards that. For the rest, we follow Coptic practice, and the Copts have changed nothing for as long as you like to go back. So in terms of authenticity to the early Church, we would say that we are as authentic as it is possible to be; not in a 'heritage' sense, but in a spiritual one.

Quote:The idea of Orthodoxy with a British ethos is attractive to me. I guess it is something which is worked out in practice. Or is it mainly a question of language, with other aspects of observance and worship being either (understandably) non-negotiable or subject to encouragement to conform?
It is both language and ethos. A phrase I have found useful in describing the problem I had before the BOC is that the Russians, for example, have a tendency to confuse Orthodox praxis with Ethnic practice; the BOC provides Orthodoxy to the English in a way that allows us access to the fullness of the Faith. Here one falls back on that old Orthodox saw about the Faith needing to be experienced - so what a good job you intend going to a service.

Do make yourself known in advance if you can - people are very friendly, and if they know you are coming there will be someone to guide you through the service. I recall that at my first Liturgy, and for some time after, it was so nice of my neighbour, Jackie, to guide me through.


Glad you like the site. Bear with us, and don't hesitate with any questions - its one of the things we're here for.

In Christ,

John

In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (1 John 4:10)
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30-03-2008, 03:10 PM
Post: #5
 
Dear John

Many thanks for your reply which, along with much else you have said about your own experience, speaks to me. This forum is a blessing, and a luxury.

Obviously there are times when one has to make changes on the basis of judgement rather than passively accepting things as they are; but personal experience makes me cautious.

Part of my own story is that, acting on my judgement about the way things should be, I moved from evangelical to Anglo-Catholic; and when I encountered matters there which seemed to me very problematic, I left and am now in limbo. I haven?t changed my mind about either decision. But the experience has hurt; and I feel like the jilted lover who wonders whether he wasn?t at least partly to blame, and who has come to doubt whether he really has what it takes to sustain the relationship which he so desires. To take the analogy further, I am like the jilted lover who wonders on reflection whether he didn?t unconsciously use disagreement as a cover for not committing. I can only put all of this before God.

On a lighter note, and getting back to the British ethos question, a friend said to me that I could never join the BOC because it would take me too long to grow the necessary beard! To which I should have responded ?slowly does it?.

John
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30-03-2008, 03:38 PM
Post: #6
 
Dear John,

To start with the lighter note, your friend shouldn't worry - there are actually members of the BOC without beards (and I don't mean just the women!).

It sounds to me as though you are being very honest with yourself. I did the other thing, as it were. I just waited, accepted what was sent and hoped that things would improve. But, as St. Isaac put it, when we think God has not answered our prayer we ought to reflect that we are not wiser than He is. He had answered my prayers; but because it was not what I wanted, in my pride and myopia, I did not see it.

Then it came to me that I was simply an encumbrance within Anglicanism. I didn't want to end up as one of those testy sorts who is forever disagreeing with the vicar and the PCC; it isn't me in any event, and didn't like the idea of becoming querulous prematurely(!) Putting it before God is the best thing one can do.

One of the things I found most wonderful about the BOC when I first came into contact with it was that no one ever put any pressure on me to do anything at all. I could post on this site, I could ask questions, silly and otherwise, and get answers; but they were answers that left me under no pressure to go in any particular direction.

I am glad you are profiting from the site and from this forum. By now we've racked up quite a back correspondence, so to say, so it is nice to know it is of use to others on their journey.

Do keep with us and let us know any thoughts or comments.

In Christ,

John

In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (1 John 4:10)
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26-02-2009, 11:44 AM
Post: #7
 
Hello all!
I joined the fellowship yesterday and discovered access to your forum. I would like to introduce myself. Where this will lead - God knows.
I have been for the past twenty years or so, a minister of the Baptist Union in South Africa and on the island of Saint Helena. Obviousy that makes me an evangelical by classification. What am I doing here on this site?
Well, a few years ago I began doing research for my Ph D thesis on the life and theology of C. S. Lewis. As an evangelical I wished to use his writings (as mant do) to confirm my own evangelical convictions.
However - I soon discovered a deeper theology in Lewis' works than I had previously ever anticipated. On this course, I read widely - a lot wider than I had been acustomed to reading! In the process my research led me to some writings of the early Church Fathers. By the end of my resarch - I have to admit now - I had encountered a totally different sense of ontology. I had previously held to an ontology that ultimately ammounted to a dualism - where God is somehow spacially removed from His creation. I came to see how so many Western paradoxes are founded upon this (often unconsciously assumed) dualistic ontology.
To cut a long story short, equiped with this new view of the world (a world in which all participates in Divine Energy), I found it increasingly difficult to honestly minister to a fellowship that unconsciously held assumptions that I could no longer subscribe to.
Last year, August, I re-located, and am presently living in Somerset England. Twenty years of ministry count for little at present - I am a seeker. I KNOW that Jesus is Lord without a shadow of a doubt. But HOW am I now to live in this knowledge? We are living in an age of religious confusion and I have to admit - I am skeptical of religous advisers. And yet -
My journey over the past few years has led me to knock on the door of Orthodoxy. It SEEMS to answer all of the questions raised in my research. I would truly appreciate your prayers and if possible - your advice (Yeah, I'll give you a chance!).
Am I an Orthodox believer? Well, I think that I may be.

God Bless
Don
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26-02-2009, 01:50 PM
Post: #8
 
Hi Don,

Welcome!

When you wrote:

donald wilson Wrote:. . . (a world in which all participates in Divine Energy) . . .

I noticed there are some key words here in Orthodox theology (viz. 'participates' and Energy). I wonder if you could expand on this in order to see clearly what is being said please? I think it is possible that with the way this is crafted using the words 'world' and 'all' this could be understood more than one way.

Thank you.

I hope your experience here proves to be as rewarding as mine has been.

In Christ,
Rick

PS I think this is a really good topic . . . I wonder if you would care to start a new thread with this?
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26-02-2009, 06:02 PM
Post: #9
 
Hello Rick
WOW! I wasn't expecting so prompt a reply - Thank you!
It would be asking a lot from me to want me to adequately articulate something that I have only encountered recently (and in isolation!), and have not as yet crystalised. On the other hand, this may be a good opportunity to bounce some ideas around. If I am offline in what I am going to write - I hope that those who are more familiar with a school of theology that I have never encountered until recently will guide and help to hone my thinking.

OK Here goes.

Western theology -it seems to me - tends to view the created order as somehow existing (since creation) parallell to God's existence. God is 'up there' we are 'down here'. Of course, it is believed that God is immanent as well as transcendent, but his Being stands always over/against our own. He is omnipresent but that omnipresence is manifested and experienced by us creatures as law, design, and omnipotent effect.
I can understand why this view is so common although seldom realised and thought through. This Creator/creature dichotomy safegaurds Christian thinking from pantheism. It rightly draws a sharp line of distinction between what we are and who God is.

But this dualistic thinking it seems to me is the root of many of the dilemmas found in Western theology. If such a dichotomy exists we are forced to face the antinomy of time and eternity, God's will and our own. How can both exist concurrantly? The paradox of syergism and predestination is an inevitable consequent of dichotomistic theology. I could go on about this but I will probably bore you. I am pretty sure that you know more or less where I am coming from.

Well, I discovered in my reading of certain Church Fathers that this dichotomy need not be the only solution to pantheism. A wholesome Trinitarianism allows creatures to truly exist in their own right, and for God to be all in all at the same time.

Here is an (admittedly inadequate and simple) illustration.

Problem: How can my existence be co-existent with God who ALONE exists? How can I have being in competition to Divinity?

Answer: I exist truly individually in the activity of Trinity.

Consider the example of a bubble. A bubble requires 3 major basics to exist. 1) the law of physics which dictates the behaviour of elements. 2) Gas. 3)Soapy water.
Now, none of the three basics ARE the bubble, but the bubble could not exist at all without any of these basics. What TRULY exists? Law, gas, soapy water. Yet, acting in combination - a truly new existent occurs - a bubble. We are 'bubbles' in Trinitarian activity.

This is what I meant by 'participation' and 'activity'. Now you are quite free to shoot this down in flames - this is a forum. But what I am looking for is help in crystalising and grounding my theology.
Anyway - I hope this answered your question.
Don
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26-02-2009, 09:35 PM
Post: #10
 
Don,

Thank you for the response, you did a good job bringing me up to speed! Smile I think I do see what you are saying. While I am not interested at all in shooting anything down that you have shared, when you wrote:

Quote:But what I am looking for is help in crystalising and grounding my theology.

I'm not sure that I'm going to be able to help you do this,

Please correct me if I am misunderstanding; however, my attention was drawn immediately to writing about:

1.) The Creature/creature dichotomy

2.) The paradox of syergism and predestination

these seem to be central in your thinking. In the second point, I wonder if you are speaking of a synergy or the doctrine of cooperation, as outlined by St. John Cassian, in the above 'syergism.' I'm thinking that is what you are referring to and this is a typo? But, assuming you are, I would like to share that in my mind the paradox is more between an absolute free will position and the doctrine of predestination whereby we see Cassian's cooperation as a kind of transcending of these two places. On this point in particular, this is a key doctrine of Orthodoxy (viz. cooperation/synergy). I have some friends who are hard core Calvinists and who, I think, would like to 'convert' to Orthodoxy; but, they know of the primacy of cooperation/synergy in Orthodoxy, and this keeps them out. One friend in particular that I have, a Presbyterian, visited Orthodox Churches, talked to a priest about going to Orthodox Seminary, and considered a possible track into the preisthood. He wanted to be Orthodox. But, he couldn't honestly fall in line with the doctrine of cooperation, so he continued with his education and plans to enter the Presbyterian ministry. This cooperation between man and God is central to Orthodox soteriology. It's really not negotiable.

And, I hope you can see that I am friendly here, not hostile at all . . . this is the only internet forum I have ever seen that seems to be 100% friendly by they way . . . but, honestly Don, the Creature/creature dichotomy (or Logos/logos concept) is also one that is written in stone. I'm not sure if you may have read any of my rambling in the Pilgrimage to Orthodoxy thread, but this is one big reason why I say there that we ultimately stand on separate shores from the Hindus, why we are climbing different mountains.

This encountering of a "totally different sense of ontology" that your wrote about in your first post, was my experience as well when I first began exploring Orthodoxy 5 years ago. . . .

. . . but, you will have to please forgive me Don, I'm a little tired right now trying to grind out this post and I just reread a line in your last post:

Quote:This Creator/creature dichotomy safegaurds Christian thinking from pantheism. It rightly draws a sharp line of distinction between what we are and who God is.


I thought you were working your way towards doing away with this distinction in the end of your last post, but now I'm not sure and am running out of time.

In summary, I was going to say firstly, you will not find a good home for your theology in Orthodoxy if the doctrine of cooperation and the Creator/creature distinction are not accepted. And, with the Trinitarian move you made at the end of you last post, I was going to answer the problem of "coexistence, competition, and concurrent existence" with a reference to Paul's speech on Mar's Hill when he taught the philosophers that it is in God that we have our existence (in him we live,work, and move) . . . so the one is not parallel to the other the one is consumed by the other (which I think actually fits better with the writing you did on divine energy in the first post--this allows much room for the 'all' and the 'world').

But, instead of doing all of that Smile . . . I wonder if you could help out your tired brother by making it clear if you accept the Creature/creator dichotomy as truth or if possibly like the Hindu who sees no distinction but sees us as like a drop of water that has become seperated from the ocean and is attempting to return, ultimately like the Hindu there would be a rejection.

Thank you.

Very good to have you here. I am interested in what you are writing about. I have no interest in bringing it down in flames.

Actually, it's only 4:30 here in the US, I'm not sure why I'm so tired today. Maybe a nice mocha latte is in order? Smile

Possibly, there are some others in the forum who have already had their afternoon coffee and would like to interact with this subject as well?


Peace to you Don,
--Rick
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28-02-2009, 04:35 PM
Post: #11
 
I just noticed my above post refers to the "Logos/logo" concept. This is a typo, it should read Logos/logoi (in relation to St. Maximos the Confessor's thought).
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28-02-2009, 04:44 PM
Post: #12
 
One other note Don:

Amazon.com: Light from the East (Theology and the Sciences): Alexei, V Nesteruk: Books

This book "Light from the East" has a heapin' helpin' of info that you might think is spot on with some of what you are sharing.

Someone recommended this book to me, so I had one sent in on inter library loan. I didn't appreciate it enough to purchase a copy; but you experience might differ from mine.
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01-03-2009, 09:52 AM
Post: #13
 
Hello Rick
Thank you for your response. You obviously have thought deeply and profoundly on the issues that I brought up. Looking back at what I posted however, I think that in my excitement at finding this forum I have tried to say too much too soon. Sorry! Let me 'back up' a little and take smaller bites.
I think that maybe where you (and whoever else may be reading) could possibly help me at the moment is with a fundamental issue that I am struggling with since having read certain Orthodox material.
When I mentioned 'ontology' I meant the basic make-up of our being. According to BOC where does our creaturely existence stand in relation to God? If I am understanding the role of Christ the Logos correctly - if God the Word is the source and the sustinance of the Universe, then am I right in thinking that the BOC recognises an essential relationship between creation and redemption? Whereas evangelicals see the Incarnation as merely an 'afterthought' - a forensic solution to the fall, I get the impression that Orthodoxy is far deeper in its understanding of the Incarnation.
I dont want to waffle again so I will leave it at that for now. One baby step at a time!

Thank you for your interest.
Don
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02-03-2009, 01:45 PM
Post: #14
 
donald wilson Wrote:According to BOC where does our creaturely existence stand in relation to God?

. . . am I right in thinking that the BOC recognizes an essential relationship between creation and redemption? . . . I get the impression that Orthodoxy is far deeper in its understanding of the Incarnation.
Hi Don,

I can't speak for the BOC, being on the outside. Possibly some here from the BOC will have time in the near future to address this. Thanks for the small bites! Big Grin

In Christ,
Rick
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