A Branch Cut from the Tree Slowly Withering

@Mahla: I am guessing that 1054 is a reference to the great schism when Rome and Constantinople mutually anathematized each other. In reality the East and the West had been drifting apart for several centuries. When I was actively old calendar Orthodox in the 1970s and 80s I noticed that the Russians and the Greeks differed significantly on certain things but they still considered that there was enough in common for inter-Communion as long as the Bishops involved were not in any way Ecumenical. The Eastern Orthodox notion of schism and then heresy is the notion of a limb that is cut away from the tree and only gradually withers. But I am certain that the Old Believer Russians saw the official Russian Orthodox church as gradually withering away. And the old calendar Greeks who separated in 1923 once Greece abandoned the Julian calendar likewise saw the new calendar church as gradually withering since in their view it was a branch cut off from the tree. I once visited St. Patrick’s RC Cathedral in NYC and looked at a pamphlet which in small print stated that Eastern Orthodox could approach for communion if they chose because Rome sees them as only schismatic while the Orthodox see Rome as heretical. I am not personally making any argument or taking any stand but am merely putting into words what I came to understand in the 1970s and 80s.

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The Old Calendar Greeks that I went with would only accept baptism by complete immersion and they reject partial immersion (head only) or sprinkling (aspersion.) I was baptized by the new calender Greeks (under Archbishop Iakovos in the 1970s) but when I wanted to go with the old calendar Greeks I was baptized by complete immersion. Their argument was that IF the form of baptism was complete even though performed by, say, Arians, THEN that form could be validated simply by chrismation BUT if the form itself was not valid, then there was no way except baptism. The Russians always leaned more towards Rome and so they were not fussy about complete immersion for an adult. Also I should add that they completely immerse THREE times and not simply once. I must say that I felt something very powerful with my second baptism as compared with the first. And I had no idea they were going to re-baptize me until that morning, so it was not like I was psyched up for it. In the 1970s I experienced greater piety among the Metropolia priests than among the Greek new calendar priests. But I experienced even greater piety among the ROCOR (Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia.) The problem with the Greek old calendar bishops is that they are very fragmented into many groups and some bishops are totally alone which is referred to as a “sterile bishop” since it takes two bishops to consecrate a new bishop. Properly speaking there should be three bishops to consecrate but it can be accomplished by two but not less than two.

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For several years I worked in an office with a woman who had majored in Protestant theology and married a minister. Her husband was pastor of a church a few blocks from the office. The first time I met him I asked him how he would characterize his beliefs (i.e. Lutheran, Baptist, Congregational, Calvinist etc.) He looked startled and said “well, I would hope they are Bible-based.” Then I said, “But don’t you see that if you asked the Pope, or the Jehovah’s Witnesses, or the Archbishop of Canterbury or the Latter Day Saints (Mormons) they would ALL say that they are Biblical.) He looked rather embarrassed and agreed.

One day, I asked his with the following: “SUPPOSE that a Roman Catholic attended your church for a few months, like it, and asked to be received; what would you do, would you baptize? She said OH, Catholics are not Christians because they believe in salvation by works so we would have to baptize them. BUT, first we would ask them to produce several witnesses to testify on their behalf that they lead an upright and Godly life.” (NO I am not joking! What a RIOT, you have to be sinless before you can join their church?!)

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