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A Dialogue with Dave Armstrong on Catholicism and Orthodoxy 
Over a period of several months, I was on CIN's "Apologetics/Ecumenism" List. It was a lot of fun and I decided to place a dialogue I have been having with Dave of late on the page. Explanatory notes for those not involved in the dialogue are in italics and Dave's words are in marked, and in green. Anyway, here's a sample:

Here we go again:

On Sat, 15 Aug 1998 19:27:02 Dave G. Armstrong wrote:

D>Well, that's nice of you to say. I think readability and a little humor is very important in apologetic
literature. Thank you very much.

J>De nada. I hope I myself am not a bore. :)

On the Issue of NFP and whether or not it's consistent

D>I don't see how. You appear to assume that:

1) Abstinence is more holy (in general) than sexual relations (for a married couple);

J>Sacrifice (in general) is more holy than indulgence, no?

D2) "Timing" of sexual relations is somehow unsavory or unholy.

J> In a way, yes, see below...

3) (By implication) NFP is less spiritual than "leaving it to God."

J>So far so good, Dave...

D>None of these propositions are true.

J>You have to prove their falsehood with me, Dave, or we're reduced to name-calling....

D> Unless you adopt a position that married couples "leave it to nature" (and ultimately God) entirely,
and have sex at will, or conversely, that married couples should live in total and heroic abstinence, then I
don't see how you have a case.

J>Dave, you've done it. That IS my position. If you're gonna "do it", do it right. >:)

D> NFP is the sensible way of combining both respect for natural law and new life, and the permissibility
of couples planning their families with regard to economic, emotional, and health reasons. And it
involves abstinence itself (generally about 8-10 days a month). Besides, Orthodox engage in "timing
sex" as well, if one considers that they fast certain days, and engage in sex on the others.

J>That's not timing sex. That's ultimately a cross between the two propositions _you listed above_!

D>NFP does no violence to the natural order, nor does it entail a "contraceptive mentality," as the natural
functions are not deliberately impeded.

J>Define "deliberate", Dave, "timing sex" sounds pretty "deliberate."

On the New Latin Mass, in use in the Roman Church since 1970

D>That presupposes that the New Mass is a corruption of the Old, rather than a development; also that
any such modifications of liturgy are wrong of their essence. I find both propositions ludicrous.

J>The problem is that your statements have no validity.

D>That would be a *big* problem - if only it were true. :-)

J> You didn't take that personally, I hope....

J>The New Mass is not a development in the normal sense of liturgical development; . . . To
presuppose that the Novus Ordo is a corruption of the old is, quite frankly, giving it too much credit to
begin with. It was a complete rewriting of the liturgy.

D>So the pope offers up an invalid Mass?

J>What on earth are you talking about? I never said anything about *validity*....

D> Or do you believe all Catholic priests do, anyway?

J>my oh my.

D>Who's to say what is a development and what isn't? I'm to believe you over an ecumenical Council?
That becomes as individualist as Protestantism, my friend.

J>Dave, since you don't believe me, define two latin words for me: "Novus" and "ordo". Now, please
explain to me how my proposition is false.

J>The liturgy is, in fact, 28 years old. Its promulgation occured in 1970. It does not look like the Old Mass,
not because of a "change" or "development", but because the Missal was completely rewritten. So I beg
to differ. I do not have to accept either proposition of yours to see this, nor does any objective reader.

D>Why should I believe you, over against my Church?

J>I never said you had to, but what's the point of discussion if you're assuming I'm lying?

D> If the Mass is valid, it is a development, since the whole purpose of the Mass is to offer sacrifice to
God in the form of re-presentation of Calvary, and to distribute the Holy Eucharist to Christian believers. If
it is invalid, then please make that assertion. This is what your position amounts to. I'm a bottom-line
type 'o guy. Call a spade a spade; I always admire *that.*

J>Why should I? Just because a new form of liturgy comes into being, I have to refer to it as a
*development*? That's plain silly! And who is discussing validity? According to your Canon Law,
disciplines can change! So I don't see why I have to accept this "development or not" issue.

J>And that's a completely fair reason to be a Roman Catholic- on the surface. The nature of the
development you speak of began to change as well. I guess we could call that "development undergoing
development". There was a communal nature to the development, a continuity with the past, that was
completely lost,

>"Completely?" Don't overstate your arguments! They are insufficient enough as it is. :-)

J> Then allow me to complete them.

On the West

J>beginning with the West's understanding of Trinitarian philosophy and its refusal to even listen to its
brethren in the East (who had been warning that such a philosophy bordered on modalism).

D> How is "western" trinitarianism borderline "modalist," pray tell? This is a new one on me.

J> Really? You quote Kallistos Ware as if he's an Orthodox pope and you don't even remember that he
pointed out St. Photius called the "filioque" modalist("Sabellius reborn" was the term) about 12 centuries
ago?

D> Funny that you should lecture us about *our* trinitarian views, when the East was bogged down by all
sorts of Christological heresy for many years (Nestorianism, Monophysitism, Monothelitism). It took
Pope Leo the Great to straighten things out in the >Council of 449. If someone requests it, I will post my
chart of the dozens of heretical patriarchs in the major sees of the East.

J>Dave, we've all seen your lovely chart. Rather than hand me a chart, prove your point. St. Leo had to
have his tome approved by 150 of the oldest bishops in the place before his tome even made the
conciliar table!

J>The difference between the two forms of development was such that while the East underwent a
careful development of its own understanding of dogma (the Hesychast Controversy, Palamism, et
cetera),

D>Tell me how and in what areas the East has developed its theology in the last - say - 300 years.

J>Here's one...the Old Believer schism in Russia. Ultimately, it developed more completely the Orthodox
Church's view on asceticism and ritual.

J>the West became more concerned with preserving its alleged authority.

D>That goes all the way back. And we had to be copncerned because so many people didn't *get* it.
Jesus set it up; we merely preserve it.

J>See, there's doctrinal development in a nutshell. The saints of old, the apostles themselves, the
councils of the undivided Church, just "didn't get it".

D>One has to show that all this is a corruption, which would have the result that the pope offers up an
invalid Mass every day.

J>I never said I was demonstrating corruption. All I was doing was demonstrating that the ascetic ideal
of Christianity and the fear of the sacred was slowly being thrown out the window.

D>How do you prove *this* assertion? No one doubts that liberalism has made inroads in the *practice*
of the Mass, or the *application* of Vatican II, but that is essentially different from the assertion that the
liberals have *corrupted* the Mass and the

J> I don't have to prove these extra assertions you've given me because they have nothing to do with the
first! The New Mass is bad enough, but I am referring to the death of asceticism, the
monk-as-social-worker.

D>But we still require celibate priests! :-)

J>Strange, that "tradition" is only about eleven centuries old, and not fully codified for another two
hundred. If anything, the tradition is that the priests *shouldn't* be celibate.

D>You miss my point entirely; which was: why retain celibacy if we are supposedly so dead set against
asceticism?

J> Oh come now! So many Catholic apologists pride themselves on celibate priests and you know why:
it's not about *asceticism*, it's about *convenience*. I've heard a million times that a priest can go
anywhere, because he has no family to worry about. I used to buy it, too.

J>They're not even "disciplinary matters". They're part of what I view as the "ascetic ritual of the Church".
They are not "imposed" in Orthodoxy, so they cannot be "relaxed". Yet that's what I'm getting at; no one
spoke up, no one fought, no one wanted to keep abstinence on Fridays. Or Wednesdays. Or during Lent.
To me, *that's* modernism, if not in theory, in practice.

D>The Friday abstinence requirement is still in place (and during Lent, even the no-meat on Friday
requirement remains).

J>Well, here's a concept, Dave: Before 1962, there was no meat during ALL of Lent! Like we do!

D> You should admire that, as we stopped "imposing" the fasting-from-meat requirement, and made it
more general.

J>Yes, and because there was no call to returning to tradition, the people stopped fasting, Dave.

D>But it seems we can never please you, no matter what we do (and why should we, anyway? :-). Some
of the "traditionalist" Catholics you so admire thought that the Mass in the vernacular was a "liberal
development" too, but Orthodox like that, because they had it also

J>Most Orthodox converts from Catholicism I know actually despise your "new mass". Actually, a few
converted *because* of your "new mass." So please don't tell an Orthodox what he likes-- you're not
Orthodox, and you just won't know... >:)

D>(as well as the partaking of the Cup). So who am I to listen to (if I am skeptical of the authority in my
own Church)?

J> The Holy Fathers. Read Maximus the Confessor. The philokalia. Don't see anything consistent even
though they all say the same things? Still need that "authority" to help you read a book? Then keep
reading. Keep praying and you might see consistency. Keep reading. And don't do anything until you
catch it. That's Orthodox. That's "slow". That's "inefficient". That's Christianity.

J> A translation must keep fidelity to the original meaning or it becomes a cheap paraphrase. That
seems to have been ignored in a number of cases in the ICEL translations. But again, that's not the
issue.

J > Changes in words occur for a reason. If there was a *change* in the prayer I could see your point but
a removal? Tsk.

D>Is it valid or not?

J>No.

D> If not, why?

J> Because of the Church it was celebrated in.

D>And if not, was the Tridentine Mass also invalid?

J>Yes, but certainly not because of it's forms.

D> Don't miss the forest for the trees. You've engaged in rhetoric for its own sake before - by your own
admission. I'm not interested in that.

J> I've grown up a lot since then. But let's see how many times I have to repeat that.

D>I don't have time for it. That's the stuff of sophomoric debate teams, not serious Christian apologists.
Within the parameters of validity, one can make legitimate criticisms of the current liturgy, as in fact
Cardinal Ratzinger and many other orthodox Catholics have done. But I suspect you want to throw the
baby out with the bath water.

And on the Orthodox

J> Thanks for the cliches. But Cardinal Ratzinger referred to the NO as "fabricated" and said it was
absolutely not the "development" you say it was. (Reference: Ratzinger, "The Mass Reduced to a Show")

J>Dave, it's not even sophistry. It's about the practice of the populace as a whole. That's the problem;
unlike yourself, I am not looking at Rome, I am looking at Roman Catholicism.

D>And what do you think that proves? That we have forsaken the apostolic line and Nicene Christianity?
You tell me.

J>It's not my job to judge... it's yours...

D>If we are to judge by ignorance and heterodoxy among the masses, then the faith was lost many
times throughout history, and much more so in the East.

J> But with the help of Saints (and many saintly Popes) we got it back. Your church fell into error, and
became proud of it, asserting a nebulous "authority" that only became clear 700 years later...

J>(Oddly enough, you reverse the process with ROCOR; ignoring their>statements, you talk about the
personal attitudes of ROCOR members, and expect me not to do likewise?)<

D >I'll call your bluff on this: give me the official ROCOR statement on ecumenism and Catholicism and
let's all see if it is in line with my understanding.

J >Our official statement on ecumenism is on the net. Our official statement on Catholicism is in the
Pedalion. Look it up. It's not my job to fix ignorance that you attempt to justify.

D> If there is none, then why do you complain when I cite prominent members of ROCOR?

J> Should have checked first, Dave....

J>The core of radical feminism is a noble attempt for women to release themselves from oppression.
Ideally, as Christians, we all do this, but in a different sense; we assume the world cannot be
transformed without the help of God.<

D>No, this is the core of classical feminism, as established by Susan Anthony et al. They were pro-life
and Christian (although often nominally so - but they retained many traditional ethical beliefs). Radical
feminism is about lesbianism, unisexuality, unrestrained sexual freedom without responsibility, women
in combat, hairy legs and no bras :-), hatred of men, and abortion-as-sacrament.

J>Again, confusing the products with the purpose, Dave; if we did that, the Catholic Church should have
been destroyed long back. But it's about the ideals, Dave, not about failures.

J>Us "guys"?

D>Yes, the Orthodox.

J >I like consistency. In a sense, this is why I have so much respect for many traditionalists of the SSPX,
and so on: they are consistent with their past, even accept the ugly parts at times.<

>This is where you are dead wrong. They are radically inconsistent. They arrogantly claim Catholic
Tradition as uniquely their own; all the while defying the authority of popes and Councils.

J>You can't defy the authority of those you refuse to recognize.

D> They decry modernism; all the while adopting the relativistic individualism and disobedience which
are the hallmarks of modernism.

J>Again I disagree. They put themselves in perhaps the worst position in the Catholic Church, and are
insulted every day by modernist Catholics, and they do this for what? Liberal reforms? At least they kept
the ideal of Catholicism alive, and didn't try to turn Jesus into a hippie, and left Him a God.

D> They despise nominal "cafeteria" Catholics, then turn around and arbitrarily pick and choose what
they "like" in Vatican II.

J >Most of them accept VII out of humility, and not because they "like" it. Many of them speak of the day
when a Pope will reverse it altogether. I think they're wrong. But I respect their hope.

D >And these are the people you admire, eh Joe? You are very confused, if I do say so.

J >No, Dave; I don't think it's ever been clearer.

J >I am against contraception. All of the Churches in my communion are against contraception. I haven't
seen you produce an *official* Orthodox statement on contraception yet (for all of you who don't know,
Orthodox have encyclicals and official statements as do Catholics;<

D> Then by all means produce one for us! Who can locate official Orthodox statements?

J > Anyone who bothers to look.

D > And when we do, then we learn that the Russians or the Greeks or ROCOR don't accept them,
anyway.

J > That was just uncalled for and mean-spirited. The cold reality is that most *real* doctrinal statements
are accepted by all Orthodox, and that most are previous to 1900.

D > Who can figure all that out? I won't even try.

J > Well, if that makes your job easier.

D > You are against contraception. Great. So you wish to deny that Orthodoxy as a whole has caved?

J > This is what you fail to understand about Orthodoxy, Dave. It's clear in your dialogues with the other
Orthodox. Once you drop what has been believed everywhere and at all times, regardless of the dissent
of the present, you lose your Orthodoxy. It's not about communion with the Bishop of Rome (there are
lots of bishops in communion with Rome who you would say are *not* Catholic). It's about communion
with the Church, which is a believing organization....fail to believe, cease to be a member of the Church,
even if you are the eldest Patriarch in the Church.

D > Very well, then, if they haven't, then why did Kallistos Ware say they did? If they have, how do you
account for that, and justify it?

J > The cold reality is that Kallistos Ware is a great writer and one of the more liberal bishops in the
Church. He sees the ordination of women as an open question. But you know as well as I do that the
liberals twist facts to make them look real. The difference is that this time Bishop Kallistos is saying
exactly what you need him to say; otherwise, you'd see clearly the inconsistency of using him to defend
your views.

J > Fr. Schmemann (for example) is, while a great thinker, not an official speaker.)

D > Who is? Or are prominent Orthodox figures only authoritative for their own jurisdictions, as in
Protestantism?

J > Again, either you're misinformed or it's a cheap shot. Conciliar decisions (ecumenical or not) have to
be clearly recognized by the whole Church. Otherwise, a nice statement is JUST THAT—a nice
statement.

D >You like to regard all your Orthodox comrades as brothers - so I have seen on the list - yet you
abstractly rail against the "liberals" in your ranks.

J >This is because all we as Orthodox can do is "abstractly rail". You see, until a council (or a clearly
Pan-Orthodox synod) declares something heretical, the best we can do is declare something an
innovation, and humbly avoid it. That's all. It's not our job to judge, but simply to go with what we know is
truly Orthodox.

D > And you see this state of affairs as superior to what we have?

J > Perhaps. It's the way the Church has done so, and I'd rather keep the old method than use yours,
which seems more efficient.

D > More biblical?

J > Didn't Paul say that there had to be heresies among us, so that the truth may be revealed? How
about the wheat and the tares? Are these things only useful to your alleged dealings with liberals?

D > No way to authoritatively decide who is a heretic and who isn't? Just wait a hundred years or more?
That's precisely what brought us the Robber Council of 449.

J > But it was taken care of. That's the point. And as much as you'd like to believe it was completely at the
hand of St. Leo, it wasn't. Many Holy people were involved.

D > So if an Orthodox accepts the moral permissibility of contraception, is he a "liberal?"

J > Not necessarily. Remember, not all Orthodox in this day and age are aware of the traditional
Orthodox view (mostly because a lot of it is unpopular, and so quietly ignored by hierarchs—something
you should understand because some of yours do it too) and so are a bit lost on the issue. I do feel
lucky for my priest.<

D > Is such a person guilty of serious sin, objectively speaking?

J > No, Dave, I don't think so, but that's due to his ignorance, and not his views.

D > And if so, what about Orthodox priests who should know better, yet promulgate the permissibility of
contraception, which is (or was) a grave sin in both our communions?

J > They will have to answer to God. I will not judge them.

D > This is calling evil good. Many people rail against Anglicanism, e.g., for its compromises on issues
such as women's ordination. Yet when it hits home in Orthodoxy, you don't see that this is a very serious
objection to your system - every bit as bad as the compromises in Anglicanism and other
denominations.

J > The difference is that those opinions are tolerated in Anglicanism. Orthodoxy is not a tolerant religion
on issues like that. Eventually, the Orthodox view will win out, and the other side simply ceases to exist.

On the Church and who is Within it

J >But you and Deborah don't agree on basic principles.<

D > Deborah is "in Christ" by virtue of her baptism. She is trinitarian, and agrees on a host of doctrines
which most thinking Christians consider essential (although we reject an approach which relegates
somewhat lesser doctrines to relativism and insignificance).

J > If you really reject such a relativism, why not have the gall to perhaps act on your convictions?

D > Therefore, she is my "sister in Christ," notwithstanding remaining serious disagreements. You are
my brother on the same basis, as we have even more in common.

J > See, Dave, I'm about to see if I can prove you wrong there—at least for the sake of knowledge.

J >Both of the Orthodox Churches in question are Orthodox because Orthodoxy as a whole has decided
in neither's favor concerning who is holding Orthodoxy on these issues. Both you and Deborah are
clearly holding different beliefs from each other, while in the case of say, myself and Reader Michael, it's
not so clear....

D > You are the one who:

D1) Brought this up;

J > And what's your point? I am not irritated...do I give that impression?

D2) Said many major Orthodox figures were "liberals" (or "modernists" - I don't recall which term was
used), and that Frank Schaeffer was a "moderate."

J> well, they were, and he is... what's your point?

D > You were the one who made the distinctions in Orthodoxy. Now it seems that you want to run from
them. Is that only discussed in private, so as to present the mythical front that Orthodoxy is a united
entity?

J > No. I make quite clear that there are distinctions. The point is that ORTHODOXY remains united.
ORTHODOX don't. And many, within what appears to be the Visible Church, are no longer Orthodox. And
many, likewise, outside the Visible Church, commune with the invisible, but that is left up to God to
decide, and not Vatican II.

J > But I HAVE. Am I a "schismatic", reawakening the hellbound apostasy of the avaricious Michael
Kerularios?<

D > If you in fact knew that the Catholic Church was the fullest expression of apostolic Christianity, and
rejected it, that would make you an apostate in some sense, yes.

J > Do you realize how goofy that sounds? That is in effect saying "I know Dave Armstrong's Church is
true but I won't join it anyway." That's extremely rare, and effectively opens the door to everyone.

D > But only God and you can determine that. I don't have access to your heart and deepest motivations.

J > Look, I have a pretty good understanding of what I am doing. I undestand R. Catholic teaching on the
subject of the Pope pretty well. I just don't believe it.

D > But since we regard Orthodox as the other lung in the Body of Christ, I think the question is much
more complex.

J > Well, sorry it's so complex. To us, unity already exists in Orthodoxy, with or without you. Sorry.

J >What makes me less culpable than a "schismatic" who refuses to attend a Novus Ordo Mass? Since
my problems with Catholicism are far deeper ecclesiologically, wouldn't I be MORE guilty, and not
LESS?<

D > It depends on how much you knew before. For one thing, you are no longer under the pope's
jurisdiction, by your own choice.

J > Good so far. That sounds like canon law's "schismatic".

D > The schismatic Catholic claims to be Catholic, which *by definition* is under the pope, yet he
refuses to submit to papal authority. That is both material and formal heresy, as well as schism.

J > I claim to be Catholic. And by definition, I disagree. I think that that's not a real part of the definition.

D> Would you call Deb a sister, btw? <<

J >I would, but that's because I've discussed the faith with her before. She's uncompromising in a
number of areas when it comes to her Bible. So in a limited sense (because at root I can see where she
comes from): yes. But I certainly would not do it in a public forum, for reason below.

D >Why make a distinction between public and private, unless the title doesn't really apply in the first
place?

J > Personal affection and doctrinal status are two different areas. If someone I refer to affectionately as
a brother is in error, he's still a brother; someone I refer to as my brother because of his faith is a very
different issue.

D>Or me a brother?

J > On some days. Some days I find your words so far detached from the traditional Christian teaching
(like the above on the Mass) that I can't.

D > Absolutely asinine. So I leave the faith and come back on certain "good days," according to you?

J > I think a lot of R. Catholics do. It's how the mindset works. When you say something because it is the
teaching of the Church, and you believe it, not because of a Papal statement, but because of faith, you
sound like a brother. But spout off encyclicals to me as bases of the faith and not its products, you lose
my support.

D > I thank you that at least you think I am honest, and for the compliment wrt Matatics. That's worth
something, when many anti-Catholic Protestants can't even grant us our sincerity or true commitment to
Christ.

J > Sorry, Dave, but I have met a couple of just plain dishonest people in the apologetics world, and I
can't agree with that "our". Matatics, you, and many others (don't worry Joe G. I know you're on the list, you
too), honest guys... but some of the ones I met (who I WILL NOT NAME; that's slander) are just plain
scum.

D > I don't have to call someone my brother to care for them. Nor to speak to them politely. Is it not
enough of a responsibility that he is the "neighbor" Jesus speaks of?

D > I guess it boils down to: when does a person gain admission to the Kingdom; the Body of Christ?
We say it is at baptism, and recognize all trinitarian baptism. What say ye? If they are in the Kingdom,
they are my sisters or brothers in Christ. We serve the same Lord.

J > The Kingdom is not of this world. The Church has a visible structure, but as men run it, even it isn't a
perfect gauge....

J > But on the surface, we are not brothers.<

D > Are Catholics Christians, though? And if so, how can one be a Christian and not be part of the Body
of Christ? If not, on what basis?

J > Try that in reverse. Let's say I answer the first with a clear "no" (which I would not do, because my
irritating answer is "I just don't know".) Reverse the second question. How can one not be a Christian
and be part of the Body of Christ? Christ himself gives an answer in Matthew 25.

J > We are not united in communion and Orthodox simply cannot throw around the term without good
reason. But that doesn't mean I hate my "non-brothers" or even feel lukewarm. It's just a term-- when you
actually care about everybody.

D > This is not about hatred, but about commanded (and hopefully sought-after) unity and realizing what
the requirement is to be a follower of Christ.

J > The unity is there; Orthodoxy has unity, a mystical unity with all of her sons. At times, the unity is
physically very concrete. But not this century. So we wait, and stay one with the saints in heaven. We
simply don't need _your_ version of "unity", for look what it has done to the visible Orthodox unity. If your
Church truly desired unity, you (as we do, and as your traditionalists do) would simply leave Orthodoxy
alone. Many Orthodox Churches in the name of your "unity" have abolished fasting... they practice
intercommunion... they have destroyed their traditions as "old-country garbage". And on your side, a
venerable Mass out the window, fasting gone, and those who try to keep traditions preserved by Popes
up to this century (as the Other Orthodox) are called heretics, schismatics...and what have we changed?
What did we do to deserve this title? Did the saints in heaven revise their liturgy too, for the sake of your
"unity"? I don't want your "unity", Dave.... it will destroy the faith of all Christendom....

D > [deleted material about Teilhard de Chardin and liberalism among the masses, which I have dealt
with till I'm blue in the face, to no avail in Joe's case, obviously]

J > If you dealt with it because your blue in the face, how come all you could say about what you know
about Teilhard was "Not much. I think he tried to synthesize creation with evolution"?

J > My email is getting too large so I delete a lot if it has alien titles. I missed it. Please repost, or just
send to me! :)<

D > That's why we have the Archives. :-):

A/E LIST ARCHIVES (Chad Campbell, Overseer)

http://dv013s26.lawrence.ks.us.

J > We have archives??!?!? heh

J >So let's chat about Donatism.<

D > Sure, go ahead, fire the first volley . . . we can deal with my old papers when you try to refute them. :-)

J > one down, one to go: http://www.angelfire.com/ny/RusOrthodox/review.html

J > As for Donatism, you imply we are donatists. Why don't you ask me if you are a donatist? Are do we
differ in "public and private statements"?

J > I hold to the actual Orthodox view on the issue [contraception].<

D > Who determines what the Orthodox view is? Is there an official Orthodox statement on this, which is
binding on all? A simple "yes" or "no" will suffice, with documentation desired but optional. Or do these
"official" pronouncements only hold for the many jurisdictions only?

J > "Yes." The writings of the Holy Fathers make it clear.

>Well, you really should use ROCOR members if you are offering a critique of ROCOR's position, no?<

D > What is ROCOR's position on Catholicism and ecumenism? You tell me . . .

J > ROCOR's position on ecumenism is clear. Read the Synod's public declaration in 1983. It was
anathematized. (Of course, you should read the statement to know what we mean by ecumenism.) As
for Catholicism. There's no statement on Catholicism per se, but Churches that use the filioque, the
Gregorian Calendar, and Papal infallibility are under anathema.

D > The attitudes he [Fr. Alexey Young] expressed are that of ROCOR, are they not?

J > I didn't know whole Churches held uniform attitudes.

J > How can a reader of the page who has never met a ROCOR member judge fairly?<

D > Indeed; all the more reason for you to document for me: do all my readers a great favor . . .

J > Again, that's not the issue. You quote official statements for your Church but do not offer us the same
courtesy. Why should I not do likewise? Should I begin offering Feenyite writings as Papal statements?<

D > Point granted. Tell me where to go for your official statements. Do you have a Catechism?

J > Honestly, the best thing you could pick up on it (you'll hate its polemical tome, but it will serve its
purpose doctrinally for you) is something called "The Rudder." It's basically our disorganized and ugly
canon law, gathered over centuries. After that, for official statements, the best thing to do is go to the
monasteries, they preserve that sort of thing....

J > I don't make critiques of a Church based on its behavior. Remember: I'm not the one that said: "...I
sought traditional Christian thinking, not faddism and modernism." A discussion on behavior should
stick with behavior. A discussion on doctrine must stick with doctrine. Consistent? I hope so.<

D > Yes; that's why I made the comment I did. I was referring to the lack of a condemnation of
contraception in Orthodox ranks, and the departure from Tradition, not to behavior.

J > It's like murder. Do we waste our time putting out statements that "murder is wrong"? No! It's
redundant!

D > It was in the context of what Tradition to choose (back when I was still evangelical). Lord knows there
are legions of ignoramuses (ignoramii?) and rebels and lukewarm hypocrites in all Christian
communions. That's never been any sort of argument from me.

J > Good. We can delete that part of the issue now, then.

Pray for me, Joe


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