Thursday, February 4, 2010

What Metropolitan Jonah says are barriers between conservative Anglicans and Orthodoxy

I haven't been writing much - I've had a lot going on the last two weeks! I'll be back.

I stumbled on this post today about an Anglican/Orthodox dialogue at the Nashotosh house (a conservative Anglican seminary). Apparently Metropolitan Jonah told the this first meeting that: "If Anglicans foreswear Calvinism, female priests, and the filioque clause, the Orthodox Church in America would be ready to begin a dialogue leading to the possible recognition of Anglican orders and full Eucharistic fellowship."

Fascinating. For one thing, I believe that conservative Anglicans don't encourage females in the priesthood. One down. As for me, I agree with the Orthodox on the filioque clause.

That leaves one problem. Calvinism. Huh. I've been debating Calvinism with people since I started studying theology in high school. I have never been able to come down on one side or the other, but I do know that scripture, particularly Romans, is very hard to deal with if you're trying to wish Calvinism away. I'd love to talk to someone Orthodox about how they interpret these passage.

On a side note, Metropolitan Jonah has an interesting story of his own. He's from Chicago, and a convert from Episcopalianism. I swear it seems like half the Catholics and Orthodox that I read are converts from the Episcopal/Anglican church.


Amy B. said...

I was just reading about the filioque clause, and apparently (according to the great bastion of knowledge, Wikipedia) the Anglican church in 1978, 1985 and again in 1988 recommended dropping the filioque clause. But dropping it has never been implemented. So maybe that roadblock wouldn't be so hard to overcome.

Even so, it is always interesting to me to hear one church say "if you do X, we will accept you." I wonder what sort of demands the Anglican church would make of the Orthodox. "If you do Y, we will accept YOU."

Anonymous said...

Kacie, thanks for your comment on my blog. I've kind of shied away from debates lately for various reasons. However... :)

Calvinism is a pet peeve of mine because of it's emphasis on total depravity and negation of free will. I believe these to be pretty damaging doctrines. The synthesis between our desire for and obedience to God and His all-powerful grace is a wonder to behold and impossible to fully understand. Yet His image is still present in humanity and we will not find fulfillment until we attain His likeness. Our discontentment with less is part of who we are, though people mistakenly look elsewhere because of our fallenness (including our ability to make wrong choices) in this fallen world.

I believe the Orthodox position is that we are all predestined to be sons of God, and that Christ healed human nature, and this healed nature is our predestined state. However we must choose it and seek to attain it, by the grace of God, one step at a time.

In the Orthodox East, debates about free will & grace, and faith & works did not take on the divisive character they have in the west. The eastern mind accepts all of the above, thus not having to ignore various verses in the Bible on either side.

May the grace of God guide you on your quest.


Togenberg said...

Most of the Episcopalians (not Anglicans) I know are either people who were raised Episcopalians, or (interestingly) former Roman Catholics and Evangelicals.

PresterJosh said...

Thanks for inspiring me to look up Metropolitan Jonah's speech in more detail.

There is quite a good overview here. (It is hosted by a Catholic site, but written by conservative Anglicans.)

It also gives a fuller list of things that Metropolitan Jonah says ACNA (the specific Anglican breakaway group he spoke to) must give up for communion with the OCA.

They include: "Full affirmation of the orthodox Faith of the Apostles and Church Fathers, the seven Ecumenical Councils, the Nicene Creed in its original form (without the filioque clause inserted at the Council of Toledo, 589 A.D.), all seven Sacraments and a rejection of 'the heresies of the Reformation."

"His Beatitude listed these in a series of 'isms'; Calvinism, anti-sacramentalism, iconoclasm and Gnosticism. The ordination of women to the Presbyterate and their consecration as Bishops has to end if intercommunion is to occur."

"These are controversial words, especially given the make up of the Assembly, which is admittedly divided on key issues such as the ordination of women, the nature and number of the Sacraments and perhaps the essential character of the Church itself."

Kacie said...

Amy - I feel like while things may be different on the lay level, officially Anglicans and most high church Protestants don't see themselves as an entity to be joined by another church entity. I think that's because of how they started - mostly by default, when cut off by Rome. So it's a matter of finding out if old ties that have been cut could be reconnected.

I think what many Protestants don't realize is how much their own tradition has changed since the reformation.

Kacie said...

Andrea - huh, your comments genuinely puzzle me. You say "I believe the Orthodox position is that we are all predestined to be sons of God, and that Christ healed human nature, and this healed nature is our predestined state. However we must choose it and seek to attain it, by the grace of God, one step at a time.In the Orthodox East, debates about free will & grace, and faith & works did not take on the divisive character they have in the west."

What you just wrote there seems to be a willingness to engage with ideas about sovereignty and free will, rather than being settled on one side. I have understood that the Orthodoxy simply disagree completely with the points of Calvinism.

Kacie said...

Ahhh Prester Josh, you do help to clarify things, because the list you present is quite a bit more formidable to the Anglican mind than the summary I read on the other blog.

Essentially the message he seems to bring is the same that the Pope just opened to Anglicanism. Essentially - "fully agree with us, and we will let you be a part of our broad tradition but continue to worship with you own different practices"

Hmm. One point that I have never been quite clear on. The Church Fathers - who exactly does that refer to? In my Protestant mind I initially assumed it meant all of the early church theologians, but the Orthodox Church does not grant all of these writers equal authority. Is there a defined list of those considered "Fathers"?

PresterJosh said...

I agree that this is pretty similar to what the Pope has offered.

Regarding the Church Fathers, in general the term refers to the great theologians of the first millenium or so, though some Eastern Orthodox use the term more broadly to refer to all the great Orthodox theologians up to the present.

There isn't a "defined list," of Church Fathers, but this Wikipedia entry has a good list of the most important Fathers. You can also find a good collection of their writings at New Advent. (Their section also includes heretical writings since that is who the Fathers tended to argue with, but those are marked as Gnostic/Ebionite/etc.)

The closest thing there is to a defined list of the Fathers is the title Doctor (Teacher) of the Church, which is granted by the Pope. Wikipedia has the complete list. It includes the Great Doctors of the Western Church as well as the Great Doctors of the Eastern Church.

Anonymous said...


We strongly disagree with Calvinism's extremes. But how can a Christian disagree with God's grace, sovereignty and predestination when these are Biblical terms? It's the definitions of these terms, or the exclusion of other Biblical teachings on obedience and free will, for example, that I was trying to differentiate between.

- Andrea Elizabeth