27 January 2012

Our Life In Christ


The Orthodox Church is evangelical, but not Protestant. It is orthodox, but not Jewish. It is catholic, but not Roman. It isn’t non-denominational – it is pre-denominational. It has believed, taught, preserved, defended and died for the Faith of the Apostles since the Day of Pentecost 2000 years ago.

I discovered the podcast Steve the Builder and subsequently Our Life In Christ, both of which are on Ancient Faith Radio, a while ago on, I believe, the Practical Ecumenism blog on the Holy Resurrection Monastery website; although, this blog had another name, which I can't remember, when it directed me to the Steve the Builder podcast. Steve Robinson and Bill Gould are no longer producing the Our Life In Christ podcast; however, I've been going through their archives (I only have 30 more episodes to go). I thoroughly enjoy these podcasts, and even had a link to them on my list of links. I had to take this link off my list, however, as I was going through their archive of podcasts because I couldn't in good conscience direct people there without a preface. This blog post is that preface, and the links are in this paragraph.


Both Steve and Bill are Protestant converts to the Orthodox Church. I was quite excited when I found out that Steve was a member of the church of Christ before becoming Orthodox since I too was a member of the church of Christ before becoming Catholic. Steve was actually Catholic before becoming Protestant, and he seems to carry a lot of baggage concerning the Catholic Church. This is why I had to take their link off my list.

It seems the Protestants have a very different attitude towards the Orthodox Church than they do towards the Catholic Church. This is an ill-founded attitude because, as my blog post last night said, the Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church are really the same Church without any doctrinal differences.

I can even remember my own attitude as a Lutheran, which was formed by my Lutheran friends and family, being somewhat anti-Catholic. Anti-Catholic may be too strong a word, but that is, in essence, what it was. The Orthodox Church, on the other hand, were a mysterious archaic, but legitimate, form of Christianity. I even thought of attending an Orthodox Church when I moved out of my parents house because there was one close to my college (it would be a few years before I assisted at a Divine Liturgy, not at an Orthodox Church, but at a Catholic Church).

This attitude was even stronger in the church of Christ. The Catholic Church was the main enemy of Christianity. The only comment I heard about the Orthodox Church was in regard to musical instruments in worship services (it's a church of Christ doctrine that musical instruments are forbidden in worship services): "The Greek Orthodox don't have musical instrument in their worship services, and they should know because they know Greek." Implying they know the New Testament better because it was originally written in Greek. I now wonder how they would respond if presented with the fact that the Greek Catholic Church is identical to the Greek Orthodox Church except for their union with the Roman Catholic Church. Greek Catholics know the Greek New Testament as good as Greek Orthodox, and yet they have no problem with Roman Catholics using musical instrument in Mass even though Divine Liturgies are all a cappella.

It seems that Steve and Bill have carried this attitude into the Orthodox Church. As Protestants, I'm sure they were looking for the authentic Church; however, their attitude of, as they call it, Romaphobia prevented them from considering the Catholic Church.

This attitude comes across many times when they compare the views of Protestantism, Catholicism and Orthodoxy on a number of issues. First they give a general description of the Protestant view as best they can; then they give a Protestant caricature of the Roman Catholic view; then they give the Orthodox view. However, what they leave out, I'm sure due to honest ignorance, is that the Orthodox view is shared with Catholics, albeit possible an Eastern Catholic perspective.

When they don't do this, they usually get the Orthodox view wrong; giving more of a Protestant view with Orthodox flavouring. Examples of this are the issues of the FiliĆ³que,  purgatory and papal primacy. All of which the East and the West came to an agreement on at the Council of Florence, as I said last night.

Another issue they get wrong, at least half wrong, is the Immaculate Conception. They say the Orthodox don't believe in the Roman doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, which is kind of true because the Orthodox Church hasn't doctrinally defined this doctrine. However, they must believe that Mary was immaculate, even though Steve and Bill avoid saying this, because it's stated in the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom. The question is: At what point was Mary immaculate? The Orthodox are free not to ask this question for the time being, but sooner or later, they're going to have to address it. I heard one Orthodox scholar say (I believe he was a bishop, but I can't be sure), the Orthodox faithful are free to believe or not believe in the Immaculate Conception and still be Orthodox.

These distorted views of Catholicism and Orthodoxy are very damaging to ecumenism between East and West, but the worse comment they've made, in my opinion, is claiming that the Eastern Catholic Churches have nothing to do with the Orthodox Churches, but are some kind of Roman thing (I'd give the actual quote, but I have no idea which episode Steve said this). This is an insult to Eastern Christians, both Catholic and Orthodox. As I said last night, the Eastern Catholic Churches are the parts of the Eastern Orthodox Churches that have reconciled with the Roman Catholic Church. To say Eastern Catholics are Roman is to insult and deny their history. The larger problem is that many Roman Catholics say the same thing, but that was the topic last night.

These problems with the Our Life in Christ podcasts are not found in every episode. Most of the episodes are 100% on in proclaiming the orthodox catholic Faith. Now that you've read this preface, you can safely go through their archives. Enjoy.