Orthodoxy’s Attitude Towards Ethnic Diversity

(While listening through an “Ancient Faith Today” podcast, I stumbled upon a discussion between Orthodox defender Kevin Allen and Orthodox deacon Michael Hyatt.  A caller asks about Orthodox attitudes towards ethnic diversity.  This is a topic which interests many of my Orthodox racialist friends, and so I’ve taken the liberty of transcribing the relevant portion of the podcast.  I’ll offer brief critical comments, from a Protestant perspective, below the transcript.  Enjoy):

———————————–

Allen:  I do have a call from Gary from Tustin California.  Gary, you’re on Ancient Faith Today.

Gary:  Hello.  It’s good to talk to you guys.  Mine is more of a practical question.  I find that, for myself, before I became Orthodox, and for many of my friends who are Evangelical, our question was:  Orthodoxy looks theologically good, but ethnically, it’s … it’s so ethnic!  (laughs).   How could this be the true Faith?!  How do you deal with the issue of ethnicity that seems to be so strong in each of these different traditions, whether it’s Russian, Greek, Syrian; no matter which group it is, they all have their explicit ethnic aspects to them, and yet that seems to be what’s so hard for many Evangelicals to get past …it’s such a cultural shock.  How do you deal with that?

Michael:  Yeah, that’s a tough one too, because that is a reality and I think we have to acknowledge the fact that we have a lot of churches here (Orthodox churches) that are made up of immigrants where they brought with them, in addition to their Faith, their ethos.  Their culture from wherever they originated.  But the truth is, is that American Orthodox churches, like – I’m from a *very* American Orthodox church where probably 95% of the people who attend St. Ignatius Orthodox Church in Franklin are converts to the Orthodox church from Evangelicalism… we also are very ethnic.  We’re ethnic Americans.  So, somebody who comes in who is Russian or Greek thinks that *we* feel a little bit weird.

And I think that we have to acknowledge that ethnicity is not the problem.  Ethnicity is inescapable.  What we hope is that, with time, our ethnicity, will more and more in this country reflect the best parts of our culture and we’d have an authentic American expression of Orthodox Christianity.  But behind that, or above it, is the one Holy Catholic Apostolic Faith, that whether you’re worshiping in Greece or in Russia or Bulgaria or Tennessee, it’s the same Faith, even though it’s expressed in a diverse number of ways.

Allen:  (Allen goes on to tell a story of his aunt who had an old Roman Catholic parish bulletin from the Bronx written in Italian.  He talks about how, just a short time ago, there were uniquely Italian parishes, uniquely Irish, and even uniquely Korean and Vietnamese parishes, but that they’re coming together.  Then he cites Peter Gillquist of “Blessed Memory” who says – it’ll “..take time to work all this out.”)

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Earlier in the show, this topic was skirted around when Michael and Allen discussed church unity.  Allen asks:

“How can the Orthodox church be the one true, visible church?  How do you rationalize that?”

Michael responds by noting Jesus’ prayer for unity in John 17, and suggests that we can take it in one of three ways:  1.  Either Christ’s prayer was ineffectual (and all Christians would reject that); 2. Perhaps Christ meant a mystical otherworldly sort of unity (but this is rejected as well, because the unity Christ prays for is meant to be a testimony to the world and thus, must be observable by them); or 3.  Christ meant some form of institutional unity – which the Orthodox church has supposedly maintained for all these years.

But then, a few minutes later, Allen asks Michael about 20 separate independent National Orthodox churches represented in the U.S. alone, and yet, Orthodoxy claims to be the ONE holy church.  In reply Michael distinguishes between different sorts of “unity”.

There is “doctrinal” unity.

There is “sacramental” unity.

There is “liturgical” unity. (Even those who observe the so-called “Western Right”, are still liturgically united with other Orthodox churches.)

then, there’s: “Administrative” unity.

On that last note, the Orthodox church is wanting, which, according to Michael, is “frankly, annoying”.

But apparently, this administrative unity does *not* disrupt the Unity of the church.  He says administrative unity is desirable but not essential.

—————————-

So, apparently, when Christ prayed for unity in John 17, He was NOT praying for administrative unity, rather, He was praying for doctrinal, sacramental, and liturgical unity?

This smells of ad-hoc reasoning; not to mention, Michael’s different types of “unity” seem arbitrarily drawn for polemical purposes.  We might say that “doctrinal” unity, by definition, encompasses “sacraments” and “liturgy”, but then Orthodoxy would have only 1 out of 2, instead of three out of 4, and that doesn’t sound as good, does it?  (On a related critical note:  I could argue that all of us Orthodox Presbyterians have both doctrinal *and* administrative unity, so, does that make us the one true church Christ prayed about?!  Presumably, we’d have to add something about historical succession, but then we Presbys could reply with our doctrine of Presbyterial succession…and down the rabbit hole we will go…)

But it’s not my intent to critique Catholic theology here.

Instead, I want to briefly examine how this plays into the Gillquistian notion of “ethnic” homogenization.

We have two propositions:

1. When Orthodox adherents contrast themselves with Roman Catholics, they are quick to note that their view of the church is that it’s decentralized among various Patriarchates, while the West was / is centralized under the Roman see (an unfortunate fact of history from the Orthodox perspective).

and

2. Orthodox adherents also claim they’re the “one Holy Apostolic church“.  Fine.  Let’s give them that for a moment.

To maintain 2, they have to argue for a special meaning of “unity” that only applies to their church.  To maintain 1, they have to allow for a Godly diversity among the Patriarchates.  (So far, so good).  But to be Gillquistian in their advocacy of ethnic homogenization, they must argue for some form of centralization that seems to violate the “diversity among the patriarchates”.

So, on the final analysis, if an Orthodox adherent wants to hold to some notion of Gillquistian homogenization, they must either give up proposition 1. or proposition 2.

Which will it be Gillquistians?

(Someone might argue that the Gillquistians can take a third route to avoid the horns of this dilemma.  They might hold to some form of propositional ethnicity.  But if they make this move there doesn’t seem to be anything left to proposition 1.  Patriarchates become arbitrarily drawn human conventions and might as well be governed, “in time” as Gillquist is quoted as saying in this podcast, by a central religious government and the Orthodox would be forced to admit that Rome had the right model after all.)

We all know the solution to this dilemma is to do what my Orthodox racialist friends have been advocating:  give up the Gillquistian notion of ethnic homogenization all together and instead of recoiling in horror at diversity, celebrate it as Godly and beautiful.

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18 Responses to Orthodoxy’s Attitude Towards Ethnic Diversity

  1. rogerunited says:

    The eastern Orthodox Church in the West is a cluster****; all of the Churches hold the same doctrine, follow the same liturgical calender and perform the same liturgy, and their clergy are interchangeable, but the Russians do it with the Russian musical style,architecture and “feel”; the Greeks Greek; Serbs; Syrians etc. The administrative unity he longs for is a single American Church, a single Canadian Church, a single Mexican Church, etc. Ethnic homogenization in the West is unlikely given the “propositional” natures of our countries, but orthodoxy could be more American* if they are willing to let the old countries go and embrace traditional American flavor. However, it can’t be forced, it has to be an organic expression of orthodoxy by the locals.

    I’ve been reading about the Orthodox Church for over a year, its an odd blend of organisation and chaos. Hard to explain, but, after doctrine, its one of the things that most appeals to me about the church, its dogmatic where it needs to be and almost laissez faire where it doesn’t.

    You might enjoy this:

    http://orthodoxengland.org.uk/ocet03.htm

    *What American culture is is a whole ‘nother ball of wax, but in this context just read it as “not Russian” or whoever.

    • I think you’re on to the only possible solution for Orthodoxy in America, and that is: there needs to be a clearly identifiable American “ethnos”.

      The Gillquistians want what all American egalitarians want: a homogenized and colorless blend of Americana. (But that leads to the horns of the dilemma I wrote about above).

      The truly Orthodox Christians, on the other hand, should advocate for ethnic diversity, but that would demand a serious look at the legitimacy of America as a nation and a serious critique of the Enlightenment, neo-Jacobin tradition which few people have the balls to offer.

      As we’ve seen with the Mats, their jobs, their good-standing in the community, and even their very membership in the church would be jeopardized by such a move.

      • rogerunited says:

        Like any large organisation, the Orthodox Church is full of liberals and whatever the orthodox equivalent of a “cafeteria catholic” is. Orthodox doctrine itself is pre-enlightenment even it’s adherents aren’t.

        The Church is not concerned with ethnicity (Galatians 3:28 (Eek!)) any Orthodox christian can participate in the sacraments at any Orthodox Church. Where ethnicity comes in is when a people embraces the doctrine and translates it (for lack of a better word) into their folk ways. The Church is ethnically neutral, it’s job is to preserve doctrine and spread the Gospel. Any political ethnic advocacy must come from the ethnos itself, organically.

        “The term phyletism from phili (Hellenic: φυλή): race or tribe was coined at the Holy and Great pan-Orthodox Synod that met in Constantinople in 1872. The meeting was prompted by the creation of a separate bishopric by the Bulgarian community of Constantinople for parishes only open to Bulgarians. It was the first time in Church history that a separate diocese was established based on ethnic identity rather than principles of Orthodoxy and territory. Phyletism, however, should not be confused with patriotism (which was known at that time as φιλοπατρία) as the latter simply means devotion and loyalty to one’s nation and/or culture and is not at odds with Orthodoxy. ”

        http://orthodoxwiki.org/Phyletism

        I would assume, when the Orthodox Church finally straightens out admin in the new World, there will be several dioceses with distinct little “t” traditions around the country. The immigrants will have to assimilate.

  2. Even more problematic is that the ancient church said one bishop, one city (and presumably one jurisdiction per city). This is impossible in America (and in Jerusalem, ironically).

  3. Fr. John+ says:

    Of course, you’re either unaware or purposefully (I hope not) conflating liberal SCOBA-doxy (the equivalent in Byzantine circles of the WCC) with the ‘One True Church.’ Secondly, we were to have had an American Orthodoxy, and it was to have been a Western RITE, form with the Anglicans leading the way. Here’s a site to help historically.
    http://anglicanhistory.org/alcuin/tract12.html

    Sadly, America is seen as a ‘rich cash cow’ and most of the ‘Ethnic’ Orthodox are trying to garner enough parishes, dioceses, and rich annuities from deceased parishioners, that THEY will end up on the top of the heap as the ‘REAL’ American Orthodox, which is, as you noted, utterly shameful.

    But that’s the way the Phyletistic Cookie crumbles.

    • rogerunited says:

      What is liberal SCOBA-doxy and what is the ‘One True Church’?

      • Fr. John+ says:

        As to what is “Scoba-doxy,’ think of all the best and brightest liberals in Protestantism joining together during the Fundamentalist/Modernist Controversy, and basically saying, ‘We are the True Church,’ and the Fundies are heretics. That about explains SCOBA [ Standing Council of Orthodox Bishop of America- since their founding, they have now blasphemously added ‘Canonical’ to that title- as if!]

        Unlike Protestant fundamentalism, Orthodoxy believes that the Church in all her fulness, still exists, even if there is only one faithful Priest or Bishop, with only one small congregation still alive, for there alone can be found the ‘fulness’ of the Faith. The example of St. Mark of Ephesus comes to mind. http://orthodoxinfo.com/ecumenism/stmark.aspx

        So, Orthodoxy holds to the idea that organizational unity is not needed; (But it is beneficial) and cultural/liturgical unity is not needed; (therefore, the Western Rite- but the SCOBA-dox heretics hate the Western Rite, and see it as aberrant, because they are all mostly ‘convert Byzantines’ and have traded in their created ethnicity for a pseudo-Greek or Russianness, that is as phyletistic as it is phony) what is needed is conformity to the Sacred Tradition and the Unchanging Doctrinal witness of the Fathers. I hope this helps illumine.

  4. JPOutlook says:

    The Roman Church has been pushing for White Genocide for a long time, and for the history of the United States, has been extremely interested in getting mestizos into the country. The obvious reason does not need to be stated, but should temper each of our approaches to the Roman Catholic politicians and perspectives.

    I have no experience with the way the Eastern Church conducts its business.

    J.P.O.

  5. SCOBA is the Council of Orthodox Bishops, or something like that. It’s the mainstream representative of Orthodoxy in America. Adherents in SCOBA will say they represent canonical orthodoxy.

    • rogerunited says:

      Fr john has commented in other places that he is against SCOBA, I wish he would elaborate, especially on what he believes is the One True Church.

      • That was a stumbling block to me when I looked into Orthodoxy. One of Orthodoxy’s strengths in debate is that it claims “unbroken connection with apostles.” Okay. But then SCOBA starts doing liberal stuff and th True Orthodox guys say they are the real Orthodox church, but they can’t always claim succession with the apostles and so negate one of their strengths.

      • rogerunited says:

        All men sin, even bishops. Not all are truly called to lead and even those who are “miss the mark;” you’ll recall that Peter denied Christ three times. The Orthodox view, as far as I can tell, is that the Holy Spirit will guide the Church over the long run, correcting errors that creep in and revealing the Truth.

        As I said in my first comment, the EOC in the West is a clusterf***. To me it sounds like pride and possessiveness on the part of old world Churches not wanting to give up their influence or revenues. SCOBA is an attempt to circumvent that. Whether or not it works is anybody’s guess. The Gates of Hell will not prevail, the Church will get straightened out, eventually.

        What are some specific liberal things that SCOBA has done?

      • I wasn’t implying that sin = non valid. I shouldn’t have used the term “liberal” sinc ethat connotes so many things.

      • rogerunited says:

        And none of them good!

      • Fr. John+ says:

        I’ve answered a bit on the SCOBA vs. True Orthodox mindset above. I want you folks to understand that the mental adjustment to Orthodoxy affects all elements- precisely because Roman ‘Catholi-schism’ is just that. Here’s just one element to consider, from that afore-referenced site, ‘www.orthodoxinfo.com

        “Contrary to the impression that one is given in this television documentary, the Byzantines reacted to the coronation of Charlemagne with far more arrogance than trepidation. Some historical sources suggest that they saw the Franks, at the outset of the Carolingian Renaissance, more as upstarts than a serious threat the Empire. Nor did they take seriously the notion of a separate part of the Empire in the West renewed under the aegis of the “Holy Roman Empire.” They considered the Franks barbarians, carefully distinguished them from their Latin predecessors (whom they considered Romans like themselves), and established a more or less polemical attitude toward the “Frankish West,” an attitude that survives in Greek scholarship to this day. Indeed, in its initial ecumenical contacts with the Roman Catholic Church in the nineteenth century, the Orthodox Church presented itself, not only as the successor to the Church of the Apostles, but as the authentic voice of the Catholic Church of the Roman Empire.” – http://orthodoxinfo.com/phronema/review_riseofxc.aspx

  6. Fr. John+ says:

    As to SCOBA and her liberalism, the website http://molonlabe70.blogspot.com/2008/07/new-orthodoxy-is-this-faith-of-our.html

    puts it this way:

    “The Orthodox Church professes to preserve the Faith of the Apostolic Church. Wherever a right-believing Bishop with Apostolic Succession walks in the spiritual footsteps of the Fathers, there the whole Church of Christ is. Wherever there are those loyal to the rock of St. Peter’s confession of Christ as the Son of the living God, there Orthodoxy is. And wherever the traditions of the Church and the Fathers are guarded faithfully, as St. Paul enjoins us to do, there we find our Faith. Spiritual succession, the living Faith of the Saints, the unity of God-inspired liturgical and spiritual traditions, the oneness of witness in Orthodox Baptism and Communion—these express our Faith.

    But now we find, especially in America and Western Europe, a new kind of Orthodoxy, based on innovation, neo-papist notions of “officialdom,” sophomoric criticism of the Fathers and of the Church’s liturgical practices, and a relativism that places fidelity to the humanistic dictates of ecumenism above the dictates of the Christian conscience.”

  7. Fr. John+ says:

    “As I said in my first comment, the EOC in the West is a clusterf***. To me it sounds like pride and possessiveness on the part of old world Churches not wanting to give up their influence or revenues. SCOBA is an attempt to circumvent that….”

    Roger, pardon my laughing – lololololol – SCOBA, fixing ANYthing?

    In actuality, the ‘pride and possessiveness on the part of old world Churches’ is largely due to the ‘spirit of modernism’ that has infected (like cancer, not like a cold) the entirety of Orthodoxy, world-wide, which began with Metaxakis (of unhappy memory) in the 1920’s with the adoption of the illegal and immoral ‘Papist Calendrical innovations’ of the 17th Century, that rocked the West, when it happened. Even though you may wonder what this has to do with anything having to do with America, know that Geo. Washington was born under the ‘old’ [Julian] calendar, and he staunchly celebrated his birthday to his dying day, under that, rather than the ‘new’ [Papal] calendar, which England only grudgingly adopted in the 18th Century.

    Here’s a link to explain/illuminate that one event.
    http://orthodoxinfo.com/ecumenism/cal_letter.aspx

    So, for you to think that SCOBA, (which fully and unequivocally partakes of that ‘spirit of revolution’ and ‘modernism’) would EVER wish to submit to the godly rule of Holy Tradition, or even seek to help that Traditionalism to be restored, is a laughingstock of a comment.

    Second note of interest. Russia, now the moral righteousness of much of the world, in contradistinction to the Whore that America has become (trust me, this is how they now view us- http://mat-rodina.blogspot.com/2014/07/americas-conservatives-ukraine-has.html )
    observes the older, Julian calendar. Perhaps not for Pascha, but for all the other feasts. In that, they are a damn sight closer to the historic Church’s submission of ‘not my will, but thine’ it comes to ‘times and seasons.’ Perhaps you think this a small, or even a moot point. Trust me, once you begin to realize how far American Evan-jelly-goo’ism has departed from the faith ‘once delivered to the saints,’ the crimes against Christ – and His Church- mount to a dizzying height. And SCOBA is closer to the most liberal Protestant cults out there- the UCC, UMC, PCUSA, TEC, than it ever was to the Gresham Machen side of the Fundamentalist/Modernist controversy.

  8. Fr. John+ says:

    Another point to note. Relating to the Mason Metaxakis, the Orthodox Info website has a long and convoluted article on him, the calendar innovation, but also the actions of the most modernist of the Ecumenical Patriarchs, which concludes with this statement:

    “Was not primacy in the Church held until the ninth and even the eleventh centuries by the Roman popes? What then transpired? They, and all their flock, were cut off from the Church, and spent the remainder of their ruinous days as heretics. It is possible that Constantinople will suffer the same fate if it continues on the path of Meletios and Gregory VII.” According to recent reports this is now happening. Patriarch Bartholomew I is reported as saying, “[The Orthodox Church feels] the need for renovation…For instance, the prescription of a forty days fast before Easter and Christmas is scarcely feasible today outside of monasteries.” He further claims, “Our aims are like John’s [Pope John XXIII]: to update the Church and promote Christian unity… By the grace of God, all Orthodox Churches now favor ecumenism.” (National Catholic Reporter, Jan. 21, 1977)

    …Let us ponder the words of the Father of pastors and great High Priest, our Lord Jesus Christ, Who said, But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be humbled; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted (Matt. 23: 11,12).

    The world is amiably uniting, seeking to build a new “tower of Babel,” create a “new world order” and establish “paradise” here on earth. For all those whose love for the one, only, saving Orthodox Faith will not permit them to follow this “union,” for them a difficult test awaits. “The trial for the saints of God will become horrible… Their small number will appear insignificant before all of humanity…, general derision, hatred, slander, persecution, violent death will be their lot” (Bishop Ignaty Brianchaninov).

    If ye were of the world, the world would love its own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you (John 15:19).” – http://orthodoxinfo.com/ecumenism/quovadis.aspx

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