William (aka Bill the Godfather)

William (aka Bill the Godfather)

Monday, May 12, 2014

Strangers in a Foreign Land: Nationalism and the Orthodox Church

In calling the Church ‘catholic,’ Orthodox Christians confess belief in a Church for all ages, nations, and races.

The Catholic Church is whole, complete, and lacking nothing—for this is what ‘catholic’ truly means. It is a calling for all, and Christ our God is sacrificed ‘on behalf of all, and for all.’

There is often confusion—especially for those either outside or unfamiliar with the Orthodox Church—in viewing our local, autonomous churches as ‘ethnic’ churches. Nevertheless, such a perspective was condemned as heresy (termed ‘ethno-phyletism’) by an ecumenical council in Constantinople (August 10, 1872).1 In that context, the concern was the uncanonical creation of an ethnic church for Bulgarians—a church sharing essentially the same ‘space’ as the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

Both the fall of monarchy and the wiles of the Enlightenment led even Orthodox Christians into the arms of the nineteenth century’s pseudo-replacement for imperial veneration and identity in Christian faith: nationalism. Logical ends of nationalism were, of course, both racism and Hitler’s Third Reich. To be clear, a pride in one’s cultural or religious heritage is not necessarily a problem, but pride based solely on the superiority of one’s race over others is far removed from the Orthodox faith.
Read the rest here.

8 comments:

The Anti-Gnostic said...

In that context, the concern was the uncanonical creation of an ethnic church for Bulgarians—a church sharing essentially the same ‘space’ as the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

Phyletism doesn't mean what he's trying to make it mean. Phyletism means that Bulgarian immigrants answer to the local Greek bishop, not to the Bulgarian bishops back home. It doesn't mean there's no such thing as Greeks or Bulgarians.

Logical ends of nationalism were, of course, both racism and Hitler’s Third Reich.

What a little creep. The German Reich is an imperialist construct. There would otherwise be about six nations in that space.

To be clear, a pride in one’s cultural or religious heritage is not necessarily a problem, but pride based solely on the superiority of one’s race over others is far removed from the Orthodox faith.

Thank you for that exquisitely constructed strawman, Captain Obvious.

CJ said...

Phyletism means that Bulgarian immigrants answer to the local Greek bishop, not to the Bulgarian bishops back home.

The council's decree says more than this. It condemns "racism, that is racial discrimination, ethnic feuds, hatreds and dissensions within the Church of Christ, as contrary to the teaching of the Gospel and the holy canons of our blessed fathers." The council may have been occasioned by the Bulgarian schism, but the decree wasn't limited to the question of whether you answer to your bishop in the old country.

It doesn't mean there's no such thing as Greeks or Bulgarians.

This is a straw man as well. In fact, it's clear that he doesn't think so given the line about pride in your heritage being ok.

The crux of the article is his claim that the churches are local, not ethnic. So the Serbian church is going to be majority Serb because 80%+ of the people in the country are Serbs. But how are those Orthodox Serbs to behave towards the ethnic minorities (both in and outside of the church) in their midst? What actions are permissible in "

The Anti-Gnostic said...

So the Serbian church is going to be majority Serb because 80%+ of the people in the country are Serbs.

Okay, but let's ask the next question: are the Serbs morally obligated to allow themselves to be rendered a minority in their own country? And if they say no, have have they committed a sin? Which sin?

But how are those Orthodox Serbs to behave towards the ethnic minorities (both in and outside of the church) in their midst?

With compassion, as we are commanded to treat sojourners, and the poor, and slaves.

CJ said...

are the Serbs morally obligated to allow themselves to be rendered a minority in their own country?

No. But I am skeptical of whether Christians can participate in nationalist groups as presently constituted. Ethnic separatist groups seem to attract head-busting goons with alarming regularity. Compassion towards the stranger is usually subordinated to separatism.

The Anti-Gnostic said...

Compassion towards the stranger is usually subordinated to separatism.

You have painted yourself into an intellectual corner: where does the concept of the stranger come from, but from separatism? The Christian gospel clearly has no problem with 'strangeness,' ab initio.

It's like I ask people, where do you think "diversity" comes from?

CJ said...

You have painted yourself into an intellectual corner: where does the concept of the stranger come from, but from separatism?

No I haven't, since I've never denied the existence of majority populations or different ethnic groups. What's at issue is the significance given to those differences especially within the church, as well as how different groups behave towards one another.

The Anti-Gnostic said...

The Local Churches are all members of the Universal Church. And when you're in another Church's geographic redoubt, you be a courteous guest, just as you're supposed to be a compassionate host.

What you shouldn't get to do is demand transfer payments and that the host culture accommodate you, instead of the other way around.

It occurs to me as well, if Matthew Heimbach has been excommunicated for advocating phyletism, why are all our Orthodox hierarchs still serving? We've got a "Great and Holy Council" coming up and the global uncanonical situation isn't even on the agenda. But some young American nobody gets excommunicated.

Далибор Ђурић said...

"So the Serbian church is going to be majority Serb because 80%+ of the people in the country are Serbs."

Like other members of Body of Christ. Well, just to add Serbian Church is not just Church of Serbia, its Church of Bosnia and Hercegovina, Croatia, Montenegro etc. We have bishops who are Macedonians, priests who are Greeks, Vlachs, Slovenes, Russians. I remember situation when I was studing. Our University chappel was also place where Greeks were gathering each sunday on Divine Liturgy. So, we had Greek priests celebrating with ours, and even 25th of December, by blessing of our Patriarch, they were chanting troparia and contakion of Christmass. I wont say, there are no problems with Romanians, but its more between them and Vlachs, who dont want to be Romanians.