User:Mircea Romania/Protestantism and Ecumenism. Or why to be an Orthodox
This article deals with a new view concerning the Protestantism and of one of the movements that it sustains, the ecumenism.
- We must note that the ecumenism had existed from the Christianity beginnings and is also manifesting in the Orthodox Church, but its meaning is different from those that it was promoted by Protestantism.
But, in this paragraph, we are dealing with something else. We stress that in the Christian Church history there is a fact that has the greatest importance: the days when the Father’s Son descended at the man’s level. Then, Saviour arrived among us as simple man. His words and His personal example, showed to man the way that he must follow to achieve the redemption. His message was received not only by apostle, but also by His learners and by the other men who met Him, many of those men having the chance to tell, to hear and to see Him.
But there are more that 2,000 years from those times and He neither came again among us, nor sent us a new message that could change in any mode His teachings that founded the Christianity. So, we have no reason to follow any else teachings because He gave us only the above one, we must follow His only message.
Sure, it is not an easy work to understand His teachings and there are more subtle aspects which agitated the Christians’s soul and mind because different people have been understanding dissimilar meanings. The Church has solving those problems with the Sacred Spirit’s help, Holy Person who had also called at the Seven Ecumenical Synods to teach man the right way. But there are other aspects that would not must to follow at different understandings because in those cases the messages were very clear. The Protestantism, for example, introduced the „Sola fide” concept, teaching people that the belief alone is enough for someone who wants to achieve the redemption, the good deed having no importance. An objective analysis reveals that their conception is true partially. However, there are also strong arguments against it, but we will not present them here because the target of this article is different. We are noticing only that the Saviour Himself stresses that the redemption needs good deeds. And, - once that the condition that must be passed to achieve the salvation depends exclusively by God - the result is clarly: any thought (however deeply it could seem to be to someone) could follow to fewer good results as it could someone get if he does what God wants.
A New View About How the Protestantism Appeared, How it Spread and What It is It
The Protestantism appeared when it took place the New World conquest. In those times the Catholic Church was full of strength and it imposed its power in all the aspects of the life, beginning with the religious and the moral ones.
As it is known, the new lands „civilization” really meant the destruction of more advanced civilizations and the killing of tens of millions of indigenous. At this fact it must be added that the Europeans that gone to the New World had not was selected to do a real civilization, but even they were the least civilized people: convicts, men with a poor morality, adventurers. They made Anti-Christian deeds: murders, thefts, and so on. When they had driven away, they not only were out of the Church teachings, but also they were impelled to do more wrong deeds. And they did do those.
When they returned to Europe with a lot of wealth for the kings and other people, they also retained some for they and so they became rich men. Of course, they didn’t change their wrong religious and moral visions, but, because they had brought services to the kings and because the kings expected to send them again in expeditions to the New World to become richer, it could be supposed that the kings defeated them when they had problems. As kings’s protected men, as rich people and with a conquering hero’s halo it may be presumed that they acquired a great influence in the society. This implies that a segment of the society began to admire and to follow their visions and their behaviour. So, if until there Inquisition had repressed (very) drastically any departure relative to the Catholic teachings, beginning with the apparition of those people, there was installed…”the exception”: for those men there were other rules, namely the population saw that it could live also without the need to follow the Catholic Church teachings… In fact, those vanquishers of the New World were a knot of influent people that exhibited Non-Catholic views and behaviours. Otherwise, caught between the Not-Christian deeds that they have did in expeditions and the opulence that they might show when they returned in Europe, it could be assumed that they didn’t have much time to teach, to know and to follow the Catholic Church’s requirements.
In those conditions the Protestantism was a way for Christianity to keep that people under his wings. How? We are showing that in sequel.
At it is known, the Protestantism lacks an important aspect that most of the religions of the world have: a real or supposed divine will (a god that revealed himself to someone and taught him what the people have to do, a god that showed himself to the people, etc.). The Protestants can’t affirm that the God teaches they what to do. In their case only the reason of some people decided what is good and what is wrong, how to be interpreted the Saviour's message. Interesting, in overall the Protestantism has limited itself to ignore some of the Catholic Church teachings. In other words, it has throwing values that it has considering as inutile: The Holy Tradition, The Holy Sacraments, the canon laws, etc. It doesn’t bring new dogmatic elements that the Catholic Church hasn’t and whose applications could lead in a better manner to the resurrection. It affirms that it knows alone the resurrection path, but its way is restricted itself to disrespect some of the Catholic Church teachings.
- Of course, it could be noted that some teachings and acts of the Catholic Church (for which there is difficult to find a basis in Bible, as the Pope’s power to save someone for money or the teachings about the purgatory) have played an important role in the birth of the protestant movement. But, event these facts may be considered as separations from the God’s teachings, it must to be not forgotten that they represent only a little part of what the Catholic Church teaches. The most important part of it acts is founded on Bible and the teachings that traveled from those times. Therefore when the Protestantism taken position against those aspects, it would been a good choice to limit its position only against these and to not reject the good part that the Catholic Church promoted. As the protestant movement had thrown too much, he reached a state in which it lacks a big part of the good part of the Catholic Church doctrine and life and hears only the earthly human reason and interests. The fact that the human reason can fail is proven by the fact that the Protestants didn’t thrown only the wrong aspects and by the situation in which they ignore the need to do good deeds, as the Saviour asked us (we refer to the protestant doctrine, not to the protestant believer who tries to do good deeds).
- Interesting, the Orthodox Church rejects – mostly – those teachings, too. Therefore the Orthodox Church doesn’t talk about purgatory and it considers that all the money of the world cn’t buy the salvation of someone, that man must try to understand, to respect and to follow the God’s teachings, bun only He decides if somebody is saved or not. But, in the same time, the Orthodox Church is all the time concerned itself to maintain in the best condition the God’s teachings, in such a manner as no items that could help to the man’s salvation to be lost.
- The well known fact that the Protestantism does not recognize more of the Catholic Church teachings is frequently used to argue his separation. At a glance, it could be shown that the differences do not need to lead to a complete break with the Catholicism. As an example, if a catholic believes that the salvation can’t be achieved with money, he does not need to be revolted and to separate himself from his church. Simply, it can ignore the Pope’s feature (he is not obliged to use them!), to study carefully the Christian teachings and to make the deeds that he consider that the God loves. Sure, the Pope’s offer could tempt the rich people, that can then waive to do good deeds and, more, to change their Christian conceptions because they thinks that, in any case, they can buy their redemption with money. From this point of view the feature can be considered harmful because it allows to somebody (but, we repeat, it not oblige them!) to fight for their salvation and, so, to discover to late that they hadn’t taken oil in their candles, as in the ten virgin girls parable. But, as we shown, anybody has the freedom to seek the salvation by the mean of faith, prayers, good deeds and love for God and man.
- In the same time, it is also true that a teaching that promotes thea idea that the salvation could be bought with money can determine many people to follow wrong ways, therefore the Catholic Church must be informed about such a situation. But what could happen if the Catholic Church has restraints to recognize that it fails in some cases? I those conditions, the apparition of the protestant movement could be thought as a desperate reaction that claims to analyse with responsibility the facts.
- Of course, there is very important for the believer to know what he must do to gain the salvation. As only God knows what He loves and what He wants to ask from us to do, it appears to be evident that we must fight to understand and to do as well as we can what He asks to us. The problem is not to do something what we like, important and useful is to do what God wants. The Protestants, angry with the Catholic Church, had rejected more of its teachings. When they decided what is wrong and what is good, they appealed exclusively to their reason and interests. They didn’t invoked God, as the Uniqueness that knows what is good, what is the Way, Truth and Life. They wanted to throw the tares, but they thrown also the wheat that the God had sowed. Who wants to be saved must to return and to gather carefully the Jesus’s words that He had give to us 2,000 years ago. And not only the words, but also their meanings and the first Christians’s state, in other words the Holy Tradition and that life inside the Church.’s liturgy. Could someone who don’t know to read the scores to learn to sing using them, even he have read a lot of explications? Isn’t necessary to hear also the notes and, so, to make the suitable links between the auditive impression and the symbols that there have written on the scores? The writing, as good as it could be done, can’t substitute the sounds, the sensations that someone feels when he dance, the taste of food. In a similar way, the words of the Bible can’t replace the state that the believers had experimented in these times. Other problem is that, in time, the meanings of some words had lost or had changed. More, in these times the Jew’s spoken The Hebraic and the Aramaic, languages in which the same word had more interpretations. Only the people that had lived in these times could do the correct selection in all the situations. And, very important, Jesus Christ, as man, hadn’t left us any written word! To ignore anything that hadn’t been written in Bible could mean to ignore and to forget all the other deeds that the Saviour did as man. We must not to forgot that the New Testament include only a small amount of all what the Lord had taught and had spoken, of what had did the Jesus’s Apostles and apprentices. Do you agree that a more complete knowledge of these elements could help us to a better understanding of the Jesus’s message of salvation? For this reason there is needed the Holy Tradition and a revival of those apostolic times, fact that it is happening during each Eucharist.
- The sad side is that the Protestant’s disagreements with the Catholic Church had evolved from some problems that could be discussed inside the Catholic Church to a new movement in which the protest is a main key. Dispute, contestation and disruption – not unity and love in Christ. And – very gravely – the Protestants waived to understand the Church’s teachings inside it and to recognize the authority of the Divine Grace and of the priests that drive the flock that love God. (There could be useful to remark that the Divine Grace is differently perceived in the Western Churches and in the Eastern ones. According to the Wikipedia , “In Eastern Christianity, grace is an energy of God, or a description of how God acts in forgiving and spiritually healing others. The sacraments are seen as a <<means of grace>> because God works through his Church, not just because specific legalistic rules are followed; and Grace is the working of God Himself. not a created substance of any kind that can be treated like a commodity”). The Protestants observed that the priests, or even the Pope, make mistakes, too. But this is a normal thing and the Orthodox Church recognizes this fact: any man is under the mistakes, including the deacons, the priests and the bishops. Only God – who is the Truth Itself – is without sin. Even the Saint Apostle Peter denies the Lord when He was shut… More important that the fact that the clergy could fail is that in it the Divine Grace is working and so the Church as a whole follows the Bridegroom’s teachings, the Good Shepherd’s Way, who is Christ Itself. And this is true even they are not as good as we would to be. And the true question is not if the priests fails (this is, mainly, their personal problem), but how we can satisfy the God’s demands. As the Divine Grace and the priesthood help us to maintain a link with God, we must use this feature. The Protestants broke this link… They had put ahead only their reason, interest and conceit. The Protestants can be firmly moved ahead in the social life with these items, but they could be of little importance if they want to be saved and they waved to hear what the God wants from they.
- Unfortunately, it seems that the people who considered very important to be resolved some supossed errors of the Catholic Church didn’t know the Orthodox Church teachings… This is becouse some of the problems that the Protestants observed (with the aid of their reason), the Orthodox Church teaches from the beginnings – but as an expression of the Divine Grace that is manifesting Itself inside the Church. Becouse the Orthodoxy is the Way to reamain inside the Church that was founded by the Saviour Itself.
As a paranthesis, it could be observed that someone who acknwledges the catholic requirements will also do what the Protestants ask, whereas the acknowledgement of only the Protestantism’s needings implies the emergency that some arbitrary rejected Catholic demandes to don’t be accomplished.
In other words, even if (strictly hypothetic and … „rational”) some of the demandes at what the Protestants waived – exaggeratedly – couldn’t be necessary for the salvation, their realization is at most inutile, but not harmful, whereas if, even it exist only one needed for the resurrection requirement that was rejected, the man who do so puts himself in the emergency to loose its own salvation.
In conclusion, the Protestantism seems to be only an extreme simplification of the Catholic Church teachings.
Very interesting, even this simplification leads to his power. Because it allows even to a person that in reality has almost no belief in God - as thoughts or deeds – to name itself as Christian.
- We refer at those Protestants that participated in a direct and violent manner to the New World conquest, men that it could be supposed that had a very weak link with the Christian dogma, teachings, conceptions, deeds and behaviour, not to those that founded the first protestant movements, who was interested in religion. We can observe that, from its beginnings, the was two kind of Protestants: with a weak link with Christianity, and with a deep interest in religion, but with a strong conceit, too.
- The polarization persists in our days. We can see Protestants that are strong involved in the religious life, but there are also Protestants that – in conceptions, deeds or professions – are far from the Christianity, men who after they speak about God, at a short time, plan wars, do disruptions, invent and manufacture new weapons or blast this wonderful Earth that the Creator gave us and we must to take care about its good state.
If we refer at those first Protestants, they had been acquainted with the fact that God exists, but they had almost nothing to do to prove their membership. They believed and that was all, their behaviour and thoughts were nearly unchanged, they can do anything. Minimal requirements, maximal vows, this was an much more tempting offer as the Catholic Church could do. Warning! The promises were great because form God originates, whereas the requirements were low because they came from man. And if the man passes over the God words, if he didn’t make what God asked he, then could be he doubtless that God will … give he the payment that he wish?
The Protestantism’s sunny side was and is that it has allowed to man to doesn’t make a completelly break between he and God, to mantain a link (even weakly) with the Creator. But there is also a dark side because it affirms that only it can conduce the man to resurrection. Because it rejected some of the God’s requirements it is difficult to believe that. It is harmful because it tries to inveigle Christians that are members of other confessions to it, namely it teaches them to waive also to hear the God’s Will concerning some aspects. In other words – by the extreme simplification of the Christian teachings that it brings – it is like a child that, after he learned that 1 + 1 = 2, then it tries to convince the PhD in mathematics Professor that all the mathematics is what he knows.
So, the Protestantism promises much (even it hasn’t arguments to prove that it really can do what it says) and asks very few. Nearby this aspect it exhibits elements that make it attractively for many men. For example, it involves the people in many social actions as to sing together, to bring new members, to deliver newspapers, to revard the best members, etc. In reality it is like something as “the instrumentalists’s batch” or “the walking friends”, so it is a place when the youths can spend their energy and can challenge for a better rank in the group and the olds can avoid to feel themselves alone. But the most important is to do the God’s Will. It could be of interest that every Protestant to check how much count in his participation at the Protestant groups the social needs and what is the part that is in reality for God. The money and the material goods are also elements of attraction for someone. There is no secret that some people have been becoming Protestants because on this way they can emigrate easier or to have a house. Could be named Christian belief this pass to the Protestants that depends of money, and is not founded in love for God? And this is important more when it could be seen that by this way there are men who lost their Christian deeds and beliefs and arrive to ignore some of the Good’s words. Let us don’t forget the Saviour teachings and life and how the first Christians had lived. Really, are the Protestantism not a movement in which the man remains in the state in which he do like to be, only speaking about God and trying to bring God at his rational level and its interests?
And the Ecumenism Came into View…
The Protestantism has the good aspect that each of its members studies carefully the Gospel. Even there are more wrong interpretations, even they don’t recognize the importance of the Holy Spirit for a correct understanding of the God’s word, however their reason and effort help them to understand some teachings.
In these conditions, around 1910, the Protestantism gave birth to a new and strong movement: the (protestant) ecumenism, an attempt to unify the Christian Churches. The initiative seems to be laudable because we, all the Christians, must confess the same God and we have to hike on the same narrow and straight way that carries to salvation. Of course, the ecumenism may be understood as a protestant technique to attract all the Christian under its wings, too.
But it may signify an awakening. Namely, “my family and my friends are Protestants and I myself have learning since my very early days that the Protestantism is the unique way to salvation, but…. Some things seem to don’t go well. But, it seems that other confessions act more correct as us do. But, why the Protestants ignore some of the Saviour's words? I don’t have the courage to think more because I am afraid that I will be regarded as heretic and because my family and my friends could avert from me, but…”
In other words, the ecumenism may be also an expression of the fact that some Protestants feel that the way is wrong. As a direct recognition could have disagreeable personal consequences, a more acceptable path seems to be the realization of a tendency toward the change of the protestant concepts themselves. The direction can be only one, toward a reapproch toward the Saviour’s teachings.
As this implies to recognize that other confessions had a more correct behaviour, this thing can be interpreted as a defeat and so the conceit and the concern about how the Protestantism could be judged by other confessions begin to intervene. There are human concerns, but very important for someone who feels that he made mistakes and feels fear concerning how the others will react… In these conditions it seems to be necessary that the others waive from some of their concepts, too. If this will happen, the others can’t judge your defeat and so your “honor” will remains unchanged.
So, the ecumenism could signify both that the Protestantism did make faults, but also it could be seen as a technique that avoids the Protestantism judgement by other confessions by persuading them to waive also to some of their concepts.
What to do?
There is no astonishment that the Protestantism was who proposed the ecumenism (in the shape about which we are dealing in this article). This is because the protestant movement has made the biggest changes to the Catholic Church teachings and, so, it has done the most important waiver at the Jesus Christ’s words and example. The outcome was that the errors are becoming more evidently.
Because the truth is this: the Christian teachings were made 2,000 years ago and those we have to follow! The Protestantism bases involved some conceit that required to Protestants to exhibit an individual way, apart from the Saviour teachings. So, it ignores some fundamental Christian aspects. Even more, at the beginning of the third millenium, the Protestantism didn’t return yet to the Jesus Christ’s path that leads to redemption because of the same conceit: how could it cede to other confessions?
But the most important aspect is not to cede or not to cede, but to know and to go after the teachings that were given us 2,000 years ago, to live inside the Church body in which – at each Eucharist – there is lived again the life in Christ that the first Christians had practiced, when the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, the Trinity Itself, help us – by the aid of the Holy Grace that reveals Itself in Church – to progress on the Salvation Way.
Note. Read it First!
The paragraphs with identation correspond to footnotes in the initial article.
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