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:: Tuesday, March 23, 2004 ::

Ecumenical Discord: Neither Silence nor Capitulation Are Options

There has been quite a bit of excitement here at St. Stephen's Musings the last few days. I seem to have roused the passions of a few of my readers with this post and this follow up and the comments at this last follow-up.

Cathy, a reader who I know personally, made a comment asking in part "why is it necessary to talk about other traditions outside your own." This post is the short and edited version of my private response to her. It also touches on other issues brought up by Thomas in earlier comments made on the posts linked above.

I really plan on this being my last significant post on the issue for a while. I am going to move on to other, less clearly controversial topics in the near future. So here we go:

First, my counter question is why *isn't* it neccesary, when writing about the Christian faith, to bring into consideration other traditions and ideas and thus critique them? Isn't this the way of the Fathers?

Should St. Ireneaus not have written his magnus opus "Against Heresies" where he compares the Gnostics and the Christians? Was it wrong and "triumphalistic" for St. John Chrysostom to point out the errors of the 5th century Judiazers ? How about St. Ignatius Brianchaninov who, in his book "The Arena", brutally criticized his own for their legalism and heresy?

I'm no Church Father and blogs are no spiritual masterpieces, but you see my point.

Secondly, if all I ever did was blog about "my own tradition" I'd still have people all fired up. The "ecumenists" and the "traditionalists" would take turns freaking out, depending on what I was musing about that day. I already have Orthodox people who disagree with me on several issues! (This post will certainly be one of them!) Guess what: I'm just fine with that.

The fact is, those who write or speak out on issues of truth make adversaries and critics for themselves. There is no way to write about a subject without stating a thesis and someone, somewhere is bound to disagree with the thesis and/or your methodology.

But to then say that one must either:
a) not have a real thesis when one writes so as to never "offend" anyone or
b) have read every book under the sun on the issue and be almost sinless before uttering a word on anything....well, I'm not sure which is more ridiculous.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: Those demanding silence or politically-correct "niceness" on the part of the Orthodox should step up to the plate and either stop arguing for their own point of view or stop villifying all of Orthodoxy because of one or two people they disagree with.

Unless you yourself a) never write another word on any topic where someone might disagree with you or b) have actually read *every single* pertinent text *and* gained an immense amount of virtue, you are in no position to demand of anyone (Orthodox or otherwise) what you don't have and won't do yourself.

So, take a deep breath, gather your thoughts, join the discussions, and let's move on with the business of working together on these issues. As I noted in prior comments,

"The mast-head of this blog reads, 'Thoughts and reflections'....not 'precise and perfectly developed apologetics and prose.'

We're all trying to learn more, to purify our hearts, to grow in the faith, to sharpen one another, to understand one another and to work out in our minds and our lives the implications of our faith. Please allow for the possibility that the blogs are a way to assist in this process.

Update: Thomas continues the discussion and I agree with his overall point. But, IMO, his view of blogging & communicating is too pessimistic, his definition of what it means to be an "apologist" is far too limited, and he lets personal experiences interfere with his understanding of what others are trying to say when they write. (But who isn't guilty of that last one!) Blog on, my friend!

:: Karl :: 8:15:00 PM [Link] ::

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