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:: Thursday, January 16, 2003 ::

Two Sides of the Same Coin

I ran across this old quote from an email discussion group I am a member of. It is a short observation about the different worldviews between East and West. Here it is:

"It seems to me that the very most basic difference between East and West
may be this: that Protestants and Catholics concentrate upon God's
acts: what He says, what He does. Orthodox concentrate upon Who God
is.....The ramifications of this difference flow right through everything else.

Take soteriology, for example. Protestants think of salvation as when
your sins are forgiven. Orthodox think of salvation as when your sinful
nature is cured. Protestants think of grace as something God gives;
Orthodox say Grace is part of Who God *is*. For Protestants, sin is a
moral issue (what you've done); for the Orthodox, it is ontological (who
you are). Protestants speak more of the God Who gives Life; Orthodox
speak more of the God Who *is* Life.

Or how about ecclesiology?--Protestants think of the church as a human
institution Christ has created....For the Orthodox, the Church is something Christ *is* as His very Body (Eph 1:22-23), here
on earth in visible, incarnational fullness, and hence vastly more than merely human.

Christian life and growth:
For Protestants, it tends to be a matter of learning to do what's right and not to do what's wrong. It's learning to bring forth good fruit. For the Orthodox, it's learning to become a different tree.
For Protestants, it's learning to please Christ; for Orthodox, it's learning to be Christ. Protestants emphasize fellowship with Him; Orthodox emphasize union with Him." *End Quote*

Now obviously this is a little simplistic and much more could be said and clarified. The complexities go much deeper than just categorizing the divide in such "either/or" categories (legal vs. personal; forensic vs. relational), but there is still much truth to this analysis. For Western Christendom, whether it be Catholicism or one of the many varieties of Protestantism, share much of their assumptions in common.

In his Introduction to "The Orthodox Church," Bishop Kallistos Ware wrote about this phenomenon (to read more click HERE):

"In the west it is usual to think of Roman Catholicism and Protestantism as opposite extremes; but to an Orthodox they appear as two sides of the same coin. Khomiakov calls the Pope 'the first Protestant', 'the father of German rationalism'; and by the same token he would doubtless have considered the Christian Scientist an eccentric Roman Catholic. 'How are we to arrest the pernicious effects of Protestantism?' he was asked by a High Church Anglican when visiting Oxford in 1847; to which he replied: 'Shake off your Roman Catholicism.' In the eyes of the Russian theologian, the two things went hand in hand; both alike share the same assumptions, for Protestantism was hatched from the egg which Rome had laid.

'A new and unknown world': Khomiakov was right to speak of Orthodoxy in this way. Orthodoxy is not just a kind of Roman Catholicism without the Pope, but something quite distinct from any religious system in the west. Yet those who look more closely at this 'unknown world' will discover much in it which, while different, is yet curiously familiar. 'But that is what I have always believed!' Such has been the reaction of many, on learning more fully about the Orthodox Church and what it teaches..."

:: Karl :: 3:13:00 PM [Link] ::

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