Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Pilgrimage of the Orthodox through History

Chapter 1:
The Pilgrimage of the Orthodox through History

I have decided to make some notes with regard to the contents of the chapter. I wholeheartedly agree that the rich heritage of the Eastern Orthodox Church is ignored by a reformation centred protestant church history in the West. As McGuckin points out:

If it does make an appearance, for the period of the first 500 years, it mysteriously tails off into invisibility as the story of the rise of the medieval West is undertaken, something that tends to push away all else to the side. Most English-language church histories, if they were properly labelled, should admit that they are largely the history of the Western Church as it developed after the great shock wave of the Reformation. Because of this, Reformation apologetics still heavily condition the way the story of the church is told. (p.5)
In an extremely long sentence he goes on to confirm my previous analysis on why it is neglected by the Roman Catholics and the Protestants:

For Roman Catholicism the Greek Orthodox (and all other Orthodox churches in communion with them) were stubborn schismatics who had always resisted the eirenic advances of Rome, and had thrown off Roman order and clarity. To Protestant critics the Orthodox were often seen as stranger versions of all that they hated in medieval Catholicism: relic veneration, icons, devotion to the saints and the Virgin Mary, sacraments, and priesthood. Each side of the Western Reformation divide saw the Orthodox through a distorting lens of its own concerns. From the viewpoint of the Orthodox, both forms of Western Christianity, Catholic and Reformed, seemed very much alike: two similar but variant forms of development of the same premises with the same styles of theologizing and closely related patterns of worship. Studies of the Orthodox Church by external commentators tended to resonate with those aspects of Orthodoxy that ‘conformed’ to their Western Catholic, or Protestant, expectations, depending on the ecclesial starting point, and allegiance, of the various authors. (p.6)
Regarding self designation:

Orthodoxy does not give up the title ‘catholic’. It regards itself as the catholic church (the marks of the church are to be one, holy, catholic, and apostolic) and catholicity in this sense demands that any Orthodox church cannot be Greek, Russian, Romanian, American, or English in its fundamental ‘character’, but on the contrary is fundamentally catholic and universal in its being and its spiritual ethos. (p.6)
On the understanding of the Apostolic role:

Orthodoxy regards the episcopal ranks, the senior order of priesthood in the church, as the chief example of the successors to the original apostolic order. All those, however, who share the vitality of the faith with others, especially those who lead others deeper into the experience of Jesus, are seen to be endowed with an apostolic charism in a missionary sense...Even on a lesser scale, parents and grandparents who transmit the faith with loving care to their children serve in the apostolic role as propagators of the faith, under God. (p.8)

*Post to be later edited and continued*

McGuckin, John Anthony. The Orthodox Church : An Introduction to Its History, Doctrine, and Spiritual Culture. Malden, MA ; Oxford: Blackwell Pub. Ltd., 2008.

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