OUR CHURCH AND OTHERS
EASTERN ORTHODOX CHURCHES
Defined as those churches which accept the decisions and decrees of the first seven general councils (meetings of church leaders in first centuries of the Christian era) (See IV C below).
Geographically, these churches occupy territory of:
The ancient Byzantine, or Greek Empire.
Russia and former Soviet republics.
Made up of many national churches.
Each independent of the others.
Without centralized organization (with each other).
May appear under various names is U.S.A.
In some, can identify national origin from the name (e.g. Albanian Orthodox Church in America).
With others, national origin is concealed (e.g. Eastern Orthodox Catholic Church in America).
Some smaller ones are not recognized by the “authentic” Eastern Orthodox churches (called “autogenic”, i.e. self-starting churches) (F.E. Mayer, p.21)
In U.S., two largest communities are the Greek and the Russian.
Almost from beginning, differences of opinion between East and West parts of the church.
Constantinople was the head and center.
Bishop of Constantinople, “the Patriarch of Constantinople”, claimed equal authority to the Bishop of Rome.
No other portion of Christianity can boast of as many martyrs.
Produced most of the prominent early fathers.
Rome was the head and center.
Partly due to differences in language and temperament.
Eastern Orthodox Church in bitter war with Mohammedans, under leadership of Turks.
Its productive period did not survive the attack of Islam.
Important role in saving Europe from Mohammedans.
Period of Reformation.
Lutherans interested in East.
Uniquely suited for the contact.
Apparently, did the Greek version (loose translation) of the A.C. (the “Augustana Graeca”)
Apparently, his Greek version was never received by Patriarch (or he did not respond).
Dialogue with East.
Fifteen years after Melanchton’s efforts.
Occasioned by presence of a Lutheran ambassador of the Holy Roman Emperor, Maximillian II, in Constantinople.
Dialogue occurred (by writings) between:
The theologians of the University of Tubingen, and
The Patriarchate of Constantinople, Jeremias II.
Ultimately, Jeremias requested that the dialogue cease (Logia, Vol. IX, No. 4, © 2000 The Luther Academy, art. By Richard Stuckwisch, p. 17ff).
In 2d half of 17th c., a reaction against Protestantism set in.
Also, in 17th c., manifestos evoked against Romanism and Protestantism.
Tenacious adherence to old forms.
Focus is on worship, liturgically conducted.
Innovations viewed as heresy.
No changes in liturgy, doctrinal formulations, and church polity tolerated.
The formal principle of its theology (i.e. the “source of religion”).
The Holy Scripture, and
The “sacred tradition”.
Contends Rome errs by adding “pious opinions” and papal decrees to the “holy traditions”.
Contends the Church alone has the right to interpret the Bible and Traditions and gathered in synod can not err or be deceived.
The material principle (the central theological idea).
Can be summarized in words of St. Athanaius: “Christ became man that we might become divine.” (F.E. Mayer, p.13)
i.e. the ultimate deification of man is the goal of salvation.
In Christ, a new divine principle is implanted in human nature.
Through Church, this is imparted to all who are in Christ’s mystical body.
i.e. man is incomplete, rather than inherently sinful.
Man is saved less from sin than for service to God.
“Infused” rather than “imputed” righteousness.
Confessional (Doctrinal) Standards
Whole Eastern Orthodox Church accepts doctrinal decisions of the seven oldest ecumenical councils (remained fixed until manifestos evoked against Romanism and Protestantism in 17th c.)
Confessions formally endorsed.
The Orthodox Confession of the Faith of the Catholic and Apostolic Eastern Church.
Written ca. 1640 by P. Mogila as catechism for Russian Church.
Sanctioned again 1672 at Jerusalem.
A defensive measure against:
Decrees of the Synod of Jerusalem, or Conf. of Dositheus (1672).
Most important in modern history of Eastern Church.
Comparable to Council of Trent.
Synods of Constantinople (1672, 1691).
Answers of Patriarch Jeremias II of Constantinople to Lutherans (ca. 1576)
Seven ecumenical councils.
Nicaea I (325).
Constantinople I (381).
Constantinople II (553)
Constantinople III (680-681)
Nicaea II (787)
Note: Protestants generally do not consider any after Number 4 ecumenical. (i.e. worldwide, general or universal)
The Three Ecumenical Creeds
The Apostles’ Creed
The Nicene Creed (Filioque Controversy imp. in 1054 split)
The Athanasian Creed.
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