I’m not entirely sure why Father Stevens took down this comment, but it’s here for reference.
Continued from this thread below:
Thanks for the quick response. My comments interspersed below. I did find them to be helpful.
1. Respect – assuming the best about someone even if you disagree with them, not attacking their motives or intelligence. Ad hominem is disrespectful
I can agree with this – it’s nearly the definition of ad hominem. Bringing it into a subjective context, what do you think about a layman referring to you as “Brother”? Or, under what circumstances would you consider “Brother” to be non-disrespectful?
2. At least having a decent effort at stating the reason for an idea or critique. Simply saying, “I believe Catholics are going to hell,” for instance, isn’t reasonable, it’s not even interesting. I’m not Catholic, by the way, I’m Orthodox.
I agree with your first clause and example totally, as it is akin to dogmatic thinking, which I am entirely set against (and believe others should strive to be as well).
As far as the distinction between E. Orthodoxy and Catholicism goes, I read a little bit about it but am unsure about some of its distinctions. My general sense is that it bears similarity to Catholicism in terms of social hierarchy (hence the reference “Father”), and perhaps references to early church dogma (Pillar and Ground of Truth, True Light, True Faith, Fullness, etc. – could you possibly provide some sites for me to look at?).
3. Genuine. The point of the discussion is because you actually want to have the conversation (which assumes that others may have something to say that you don’t know or haven’t considered). If the website is a place to troll for converts, do it somewhere else.
Again, we’re in agreement. It’s certainly a lot easier when the basis of what is being considered is in the Bible using, for example, hermeneutics, versus, say, debating the existence of God or the meaning of life. I largely prefer the former, as it is more likely to lead to mutual edification and the building of the church (if the Spirit is in the conversation).
4. Argument. Pursuing a discussion in an effort to “win” the debate. I’m not keeping score on the blog, and neither is God. Winning debates is interesting but not what this site is about. If you’ve shared your thoughts or disagreements and someone hasn’t found them convincing, then drop it.
I think, ultimately, a debate is worth “winning” to the extent that a heart is changed towards worship of God and bears good fruit of its own from God indwelling. But I might be putting it in a different context; allow me to try grafting it onto ours.
A recent goal of mine has been to root out heresies from the church. Granted, this has been a rather large task, but the multiplicity of errors I’ve seen are just too blatantly out of sync to ignore, lacking resemblance to a heart, soul, strength and mind in geniune worship of God. This is because I see myself as a teacher of sorts, although I lack what is seen as “credentials” – Ph.D/Master’s of Divinity. (That’s a partial reason why I’m back in school right now).
On the other hand, there has clearly been evidence of massive heresy within the Church (your blog’s passing mentions nonwithstanding), and with missions organizations such as GFA, multiple instances of inextensive training occuring, which has corresponded with some phenomenal growth rates in the 10/40 window.
To this extent, I believe correction in the vien of Martin Luther (i.e., “you are totally wrong, and here are the reasons”) or Paul at Antioch is justified, even encouraged (because it serves as grounds for self-examination as well). We must stand for the truth in both word and action, as you say in your next paragraph, but as long as word is the medium of communication and action, it should be pushed to its logical limits (under the constraints of #s 1-4).
The internet is full of argument and opinion, most of it is just noisy. This is an Eastern Orthodox site that is glad to be friendly to Christians who are not Eastern Orthodox and welcomes conversation that is mutually beneficial. I don’t mind explaining the Orthodox faith, but I’m not interested in defending it against attack or arguing about it.
…so, regarding your last sentence, I hope where you can see that I disagree.
If not, then a short explanation would be: so long as following precept X or Y from dogma Z is encouraged as an a priori truth, so much more the legalism of the Judaism past will again regain its place in “religion”. As long as self- and peer examination of beliefs for the establishment of a complete orthodoxy do not occur, the greater the probability of historical mistakes being repeated. True, “words have to be enfleshed to have any value”, but as long as the dichotomy of words and action continues to exist, work can always be done in both.
A primary reason is that as useful as words are, they are very poor in such an isolated setting as the internet, to serve as a medium for establishing truth. Words have to be enfleshed to have any value. So, our conversations here will have their limits. We can only do so much in this setting – most of it is to share. Again, there are plenty of places to have arguments – this is not one of them.
I hope that’s of help.
It was very helpful, thank you.
One other thing I’d like to mention: I’m guilty of skimming. If I’d read more/initially responded to your post, my comment would have probably been less harsh, adding a few points of agreement. Please forgive me. May God be glorified through our continued interaction.