Quantcast Eastern Orthodox Christian Forum - Questions and Comments From An Atheist
Eastern Orthodox Christian Forum
Eastern Orthodox Christian Forum
Home | Profile | Register | Active Topics | Members | Search | FAQ
Username:
Password:
Save Password
Forgot your Password?

 All Forums
 Eastern Orthodox Forum
 Inquirer's Corner
 Questions and Comments From An Atheist
 New Topic  Reply to Topic
 Printer Friendly
| More
Author Previous Topic Topic Next Topic  

zchmrkenhoff
Starting Member

USA
1 Posts

Posted - 01/20/2010 :  21:27:17  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
...so I was raised without a religion. It's natural then for me to be an atheist. However, recently Eastern Orthodox Christianity has become of great interest to me. I'm a person who really loves history, who really loves the Roman Empire (including the one that lasted until 1453 ) , and so I've done much research on Orthodox Christianity.

Suffice to say, I believe that Orthodox Christianity is... the "right" form of Christianity, with Western Christians in The Great Schism adding in the "Filioque" to the Nicene Creed, and performing other wrongs. Orthodox Christianity is therefore the original form, practiced by the Romans since Constantine, and it's wonderful that it still exists today, and in much the same form.

I think it would be fair to say that the two traditional Catholic factions (Roman and Orthodox) also have political and cultural differences, as well as religious ones. From speaking to people about the medieval Roman Empire and Orthodox Christianity in general, I'm surprised how dismissive they are of it. I feel that one thousand years of history, focused around Constantinople, Queen of Cities, is just neglected by our Western nations and that that is a bit disappointing.

Anyway, as an American of German ancestry, it seems strange to me to have such an interest in this religion since I really... have nothing to do with it. Yet, as an American, in the modern world, I'm also noticing how slacking our morals are becoming. Another religion who stay true to morality, yet act upon it incorrectly, is Islam, and there is reason why they dislike us "sinners" in the West.. and I do believe that can be contributed to our declining morals.

Someday, I may myself become an Orthodox Christian, as it is the True Church, and would provide me with what I perceive to be a firm moral life, as well as the knowledge that I would be continuing the traditions and beliefs of the Romans.

I'm curious, however, how Orthodox Christians feel about... Istanbul. Is it a touchy issue? I believe it's rightfully yours, and an insult that it isn't.

Do Orthodox Christians ever feel that those who have diverted from the true path come back? That is, Roman Catholics and the denominations of it.

Is there anything that I should know about Orthodox Christianity, that I likely wouldn't, being an atheist?

I'm 19, so I apologize if anything has sounded harsh or offensive.

Edited by - parascheva1014 on 01/21/2010 13:20:01

Yiorgos75
Average Member

Australia
615 Posts

Posted - 01/21/2010 :  01:31:42  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Hi and welcome to the Board. As an inquirer, you really should have posted in the Inquirers' section, but that's neither here nor there!

I'll try and answer some of your questions as honestly as I can, but you'll need to realise that within Orthodoxy, with the exception of Dogma and Faith, there can exist a plurality of opinions, especially when concerning history and politics. Note that whilst Orthodoxy is one body (and of course one church), it is made up of several ethnic Orthodox Churches...so answers may vary from people from different Orthodox backgrounds. I think you'll find that the question of Byzantium, the Eastern Roman empire and the Orthodoxy resonates extremely strongly with the Greeks...but more on that later.

As a "cradle" Orthodox of Greek ancestry I'll try and give you the general "Greek" answers and views, although I suspect that some people may disagree! Here goes...

quote:
Originally posted by zchmrkenhoff

...so I was raised without a religion. It's natural then for me to be an atheist.
You were only born without religion. It does not necessarily follow that you will be an atheist. I don't think you'd be inquiring if you really were and in fact, I think it almost impossible for any human being to be a real atheist in any event....but that is just personal opinion.

quote:
However, recently Eastern Orthodox Christianity has become of great interest to me. I'm a person who really loves history, who really loves the Roman Empire (including the one that lasted until 1453 ) , and so I've done much research on Orthodox Christianity.
I think that you will find that you are in a minority!

quote:
Suffice to say, I believe that Orthodox Christianity is... the "right" form of Christianity, with Western Christians in The Great Schism adding in the "Filioque" to the Nicene Creed, and performing other wrongs. Orthodox Christianity is therefore the original form, practiced by the Romans since Constantine, and it's wonderful that it still exists today, and in much the same form.
Well it is in fact Christianity as it has been practised since the Apostolic Age. What occurred under St. Constantine was the flourishing and further intellectual development of the Orthodox Church which occurred freely for the first time in 300 years.

quote:
I think it would be fair to say that the two traditional Catholic factions (Roman and Orthodox) also have political and cultural differences, as well as religious ones.
Your usage of the word "Catholic" is interesting but slightly misplaced. The Latin view of the world (Roman Catholic, Papist etc etc) did not really come into being until the Great Schism. Before that, there were no two factions, there was just the Catholic and Apostolic Church of Christ. The word "Catholic" has been misinterpreted for years. Whilst some maintain that it means universal and therefore denoting a worldly significance, the true meaning of the word catholic is wholly complete as the Church (being the Body of Christ and imbued with the Holy Spirit "which fillest all things") lacks for nothing, is complete and superabundant.

quote:
From speaking to people about the medieval Roman Empire and Orthodox Christianity in general, I'm surprised how dismissive they are of it. I feel that one thousand years of history, focused around Constantinople, Queen of Cities, is just neglected by our Western nations and that that is a bit disappointing.
The East has always been much maligned by Western Europe due to the political fall out of the Great Schism. Given that the Pope is a "Supreme Pontifex" (a term usually reserved for the the Emperor of the Western Roman Empire) and therefore a political leader, it is not really that unusual that history in the West (being exceedingly influenced by the Latins) would be written to conveniently diminish the role of Byzantium in the development of European culture, art, politics and religion.

quote:
Anyway, as an American of German ancestry, it seems strange to me to have such an interest in this religion since I really... have nothing to do with it.
All humanity has something to do with Orthodoxy, if you believe it to the Divinely revealed Faith in Christ. Orthodoxy is not just for Greeks, Arabs, Russians etc etc, but for all people at all times and for all races. In Christ there is no Jew, or Gentile, neither man nor woman. Basically, we're all human and God is for us and we for Him.

quote:
Yet, as an American, in the modern world, I'm also noticing how slacking our morals are becoming. Another religion who stay true to morality, yet act upon it incorrectly, is Islam, and there is reason why they dislike us "sinners" in the West.. and I do believe that can be contributed to our declining morals.
If there is something that Eastern Europe knows about Muslims that Western Europe does not, is that we know how to interact and engage with them. Given that Greece was under Ottoman Muslim occupation for nigh on 500 years (and we still maintained our Orthodoxy, culture and language), you could say that we know a thing or two about them. Orthodoxy is the antidote for Islam, not American Evangelical Protestant preachers that simply do not know what they are talking about.

I find that when many Western Protestants talk about Muslims and Islam, they speak in ignorance of the religion and the people and more to the point, they regurgitate whatever the mass media tells them. The knowledge that Orthodox people have of Islam is historical and cultural. Stories and tradition passed down from generation to generation and an understanding that, if you are dealing with Islam (especially a fanaticised version), you are stuck in an all or nothing scenario. Either you walk away and leave or fight to your last dying breath. There is no half way.

quote:
Someday, I may myself become an Orthodox Christian, as it is the True Church, and would provide me with what I perceive to be a firm moral life, as well as the knowledge that I would be continuing the traditions and beliefs of the Romans.
Orthodoxy is more than about morality. It is a life in Christ, who is the Son of God. If you believe in Him, then you do what is correct and perceived as "moral", as to do so brings you into a relationship of loving communion with the Trinitarian God. Anything which would tarnish or diminish that relationship could only be considered sinful and therefore, should not be something which is sought out.

In other words, it is your relationship with God which keeps you good and gives you the strength to love your fellow man, as God is the source of all that is profitable for our souls and for very good thing in the world.

quote:
I'm curious, however, how Orthodox Christians feel about... Istanbul. Is it a touchy issue? I believe it's rightfully yours, and an insult that it isn't.
The Orthodox by and large refer to Istanbul as "Constantinople" and do not really acknowledge the other name. Constantinople is not a touchy issue, we love the City and we love our Ecumenical Patriarch. We pray (or at least every generation of Greeks has since 1453) that one day, when we are deemed worthy enough, God will give us the City back. Don't be insulted that Constantinople is not ours, but know that the City is God's to give and God's to return. One day it will be ours, but not before God wills it.

quote:
Do Orthodox Christians ever feel that those who have diverted from the true path come back? That is, Roman Catholics and the denominations of it.
Only when they embrace the teachings of the Orthodox Church and repent of their sins. All people are called to the Kingdom of God and the Orthodox Church opens its arms to all people and all nations. As people we are fallible and fall (that is, we sin), but the path back to the road of the Lord is the most glorious of all. So we pray that all people will one day be united in Christ. As to whether they want to or not really depends on the individual. No Orthodox should stop a non-Orthodox person coming to the Church.

quote:
Is there anything that I should know about Orthodox Christianity, that I likely wouldn't, being an atheist?

I'm 19, so I apologize if anything has sounded harsh or offensive.
You're not offensive at all. I would suggest that if you have a genuine interest in the Orthodox Church and Christianity, that you start reading about the beliefs that the Church holds dear. Go forth with knowledge and you will be surprised that the path will open up before you.

Good luck.

George.
Go to Top of Page

macacic
Administrator

USA
2434 Posts

Posted - 01/21/2010 :  10:03:48  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by zchmrkenhoff

Is there anything that I should know about Orthodox Christianity, that I likely wouldn't, being an atheist?

One of the biggest differences between Orthodox Christianity and how Christianity is portrayed in the popular culture is that we focus on working on our own salvation and not in controlling the behavior of others.
quote:
Originally posted by zchmrkenhoff

I'm 19, so I apologize if anything has sounded harsh or offensive.


No, not at all.

quote:
Originally posted by Yiorgos75

Hi and welcome to the Board. As an inquirer, you really should have posted in the Inquirers' section, but that's neither here nor there!

I will probably move this thread there after a couple of days (so there's no need to create a new thread) so the original poster doesn't think the thread just vanished.

Edited by - macacic on 01/21/2010 10:06:06
Go to Top of Page

alexey
Junior Member

Russia
184 Posts

Posted - 01/22/2010 :  16:23:36  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Let me invite you to watch the film "THE FALL OF AN EMPIRE-THE LESSON OF BYZANTIUM", which is on the topic of this thread, and has already called into being wide debates in Russia's society for a few recent years.

Here is the link: http://vizantia.info/docs/73.htm

Any comments are to be welcome.

Edited by - alexey on 01/22/2010 16:43:09
Go to Top of Page

Yiorgos75
Average Member

Australia
615 Posts

Posted - 01/22/2010 :  23:51:35  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by alexey

Let me invite you to watch the film "THE FALL OF AN EMPIRE-THE LESSON OF BYZANTIUM", which is on the topic of this thread, and has already called into being wide debates in Russia's society for a few recent years.

Here is the link: http://vizantia.info/docs/73.htm

Any comments are to be welcome.

An interesting documentary, however, (and please forgive me) I can't help but feel as if there was an large element of Russian propaganda present in the documentary. (Russia as the successor of the Byzantine Empire?)

Also, the narration had some glaring contradictions, which when critically reviewed just didn't stack up. There were more than a few points at which the narrator contradicts himself within a matter of minutes.

My other criticism of the documentary is that it does not give us historical dates and times linearly. The documentary wanders all over the place without reference to timing. For example, if we consider that Constantinople was sacked in 1204 and the Empire collapsed in 1453, then we would realise that in 250 years (a period longer than the Russian Empire) a lot of things can happen.

In a lot of instances I have to agree that with the things said in the documentary, but I simply cannot agree with this concept that the rise of "Greek" nationalism is responsible for the collapse of Byzantium. There are so many contributing factors to the destruction of an Empire that a singular reason cannot be the "one". The rise of ancient Greek thought did not commence until well into the Renaissance, which historically (and most historians agree) occurred after the fall of Constantinople with the influx of Orthodox refugee intelligentsia into Venice, Florence and Genoa from Byzantium.

In terms of contributing factors, one might look for example that perhaps if the Bulgars, the Serbs and the Russians had stopped consistently attacking the Empire since 900AD then perhaps the Empire would have been stronger to withstand the eastern assault from the Moslem Arabs.

People will be divided about the historical analysis contained in this documentary. I know I certainly am, and I have read A LOT about Byzantine history.

The last comment of the narrator concerning Stalin's re-introduction of "Byzantine Studies" into the Moscow University is clearly historically wrong. Stalin was an arch-communist and hater of the Orthodox Church. He re-introduced those studies, just like he re-introduced the Church services during the Second World War. He did not do it for philosophical or altruistic reasons, or because he wanted to "learn from the past". He did it in order give the general population something to believe (the communist belief that religion is the "opium of the masses") and sought to give them some hope, as opposed to communism which only gives people depression!

Go to Top of Page

Aristokles
Senior Member

USA
1121 Posts

Posted - 01/24/2010 :  14:19:19  Show Profile  Send Aristokles a Yahoo! Message  Reply with Quote
Actually, I fully appreciated the piece and saved it to my harddrive for archiving and later viewing (which I have done twice). It MAY have a Russian slant, but in the main it is correct. HOLY Russia indeed was the inheritor of Byzantium. Whether that Russia and today's are the same remains to be seen.
Go to Top of Page

Yiorgos75
Average Member

Australia
615 Posts

Posted - 01/24/2010 :  18:24:31  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Aristokles

HOLY Russia indeed was the inheritor of Byzantium. Whether that Russia and today's are the same remains to be seen.

Was it truly ever? Since when did Russia have an empire which incorporated peoples to Orthodoxy irrespective of ethnicity? One of the main "contributing factors" (apparently and according to this documentary) was that Byzantium became fragmented due to rising ethnic tensions. Since when was Russia ever based on being a society of Orthodox first and Russians second?

My query, is how can you be an inheritor of an empire? Russia is no more an inheritor of "Byzantium" (whatever that concept really means) than the USA or Australia are the inheritors of the British Empire.

I think that even the Russians (and along with them, a lot of Orthodox Christians) have misundertood what the "inheritance" issue is all about. The Russians have received (in Greek: elamvan) Orthodoxy from the Byzantine Empire and that is all. Somehow, this inheritance of a way of Faith, in the mind of the Russian, has translated itself into a politcial desire. There is no second Byzantium, there is no "Third" Rome. These were things that were and which have passed.

Was Byzantium a grand Empire? Yes it was. Did it, like all other Empires in the world, have its begining, middle and end? Yes it did. Has Byzantium as a political structure ceased to exist? Yes it has.

The only inheritances that we have from Byzantium are: (a) Orthodoxy; and (b) history. I'm sorry to say this, but anything more than that is just plain fanciful.

Edited by - Yiorgos75 on 01/24/2010 23:02:40
Go to Top of Page

macacic
Administrator

USA
2434 Posts

Posted - 01/24/2010 :  20:22:11  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Please, let's stay on topic?
Go to Top of Page

Aristokles
Senior Member

USA
1121 Posts

Posted - 01/27/2010 :  09:57:22  Show Profile  Send Aristokles a Yahoo! Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by macacic

Please, let's stay on topic?



Gladly...and if Yiorgos75 wishes a debate in a separate thread (and it's allowed), I'm game.
Go to Top of Page

alexey
Junior Member

Russia
184 Posts

Posted - 01/27/2010 :  17:18:30  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Actually, I have no idea as to how to debate the obvious things. Moreover any debates on Byzantia may be sensitive too much.

Yet to the point, double-headed imperial eagle of Palaeologos dynasty is historically documented national Russian heraldic emblem. Now looking at them and wondering why they are so alike :)

A bit more of "Russian propaganda" from archimandrit Tikhon.
http://vizantia.info/docs/183.htm
http://vizantia.info/docs/165.htm
Go to Top of Page

macacic
Administrator

USA
2434 Posts

Posted - 01/27/2010 :  17:44:15  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by alexey

Actually, I have no idea as to how to debate the obvious things.


I'd just appreciate it if it wasn't hijacking an Inquirer's first post.

Ok guys?
Go to Top of Page

Yiorgos75
Average Member

Australia
615 Posts

Posted - 01/27/2010 :  18:01:23  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Aristokles

quote:
Originally posted by macacic

Please, let's stay on topic?



Gladly...and if Yiorgos75 wishes a debate in a separate thread (and it's allowed), I'm game.

You're on! Start it up and I'll be there! (Although I think it'll need to be posted in the Politics area)
Go to Top of Page

grengliman
Senior Member

USA
1107 Posts

Posted - 01/27/2010 :  19:18:35  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Yiorgos75
You're on! Start it up and I'll be there! (Although I think it'll need to be posted in the Politics area)



I can hardly stand the temptation here, but I think I'll let these two heavyweights go at it for a few rounds.

Anyone booking odds on this one?

I do have a question for the "atheist" if I may...

I have a few friends who claim to be atheist. After dissecting (through many conversations) there viewpoint, it usually seems that it would be better classified as "agnostic."

I'm curious, do you deny as a dogmatic truth, the existence of a Creator?

I don't mean any negativity here and I promise, any answer you give will not be used as a spring board to attack your beliefs, by me.

Just curiosity really...
Go to Top of Page

macacic
Administrator

USA
2434 Posts

Posted - 01/27/2010 :  22:56:42  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I'll chime in here because I spent many of my teenage and early adult years claiming to be an atheist, not an agnostic.

It wasn't until my faith in Atheism was seriously challenged that I was willing to consider the existence of a Creator.

God does indeed work in mysterious ways.
Go to Top of Page

grengliman
Senior Member

USA
1107 Posts

Posted - 01/28/2010 :  11:22:36  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by macacic
It wasn't until my faith in Atheism was seriously challenged that I was willing to consider the existence of a Creator.




In your opinion do think it is harder to come to Christ from an agnostic outlook rather than an atheist?

It seems like atheism, in its truest sense, has a "faith" component.
Go to Top of Page

macacic
Administrator

USA
2434 Posts

Posted - 01/28/2010 :  14:16:04  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by grengliman

In your opinion do think it is harder to come to Christ from an agnostic outlook rather than an atheist?

Not from my perspective, it wouldn't. I think you have to pass through the uncertainty of agnosticism once you leave the certainty of Atheism.
Go to Top of Page
  Previous Topic Topic Next Topic  
 New Topic  Reply to Topic
 Printer Friendly
| More
Jump To:
Eastern Orthodox Christian Forum © Eastern Orthodox Christian Forum Go To Top Of Page
Thispagewasgeneratedin0.22seconds. Powered By: Snitz Forums 2000 Version 3.4.07