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Friday, January 7, 2011

We should use our own arguments

John S. Romanides, from his first preface to the Greek edition of The Ancestral Sin in 1957:
"It is unfortunate that Orthodox theologians often use Roman Catholic arguments against the Protestants and Protestant arguments against the Roman Catholics. The unavoidable result of this method of defense is an influence on Orthodox thought from both sides. The result is that some Orthodox appear to be "Roman Catholicizers" and others "Protestantizers." Thus, they are also regarded as conservative and liberal respectively.
The need to clarify the authentic Orthodox position with regard to Roman Catholics and Protestants is at last obvious to most of us. The Orthodox theologian must not counter Protestantism with Roman Catholic arguments but with the authentic teaching of the Fathers of the Church. Likewise, he must not counter Roman Catholicism with Protestant arguments but with the authentic spirit of the Greek Fathers.

Perhaps the most important theological problem faced by Orthodox theologians in America is the charge by Protestants that the orthodoxy of the Ecumenical Synods amounts to a corruption of the teaching of the primitive Church. The attempt by some Orthodox to respond to this charge with Roman Catholic arguments is doomed to failure at the outset because the characteristic views of medieval Roman Catholicism regarding the topics of this study are not found in the primitive Church. This is not at all difficult to demonstrate. In refuting a charge of this kind, however, the Orthodox cannot simply bring forth the opinions of the great Church Fathers of the fourth and fifth centuries. The charge, after all, alleges that the corruption of the Christian teaching took place prior to the major Fathers. Therefore, in confronting Protestantism, it must be demonstrated that the central teachings of the major Greek Fathers are essentially the same as the teachings of the primitive Church and constitute a mere continuation and explication of them. On the one hand, this study attempts to respond to this frequent charge by Protestants and, on the other, to present the basic differences between Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism regarding the topics under discussion. [1]

[1] pages 13-14, from the book The Ancestral Sin by John S. Romanides, translated by George S. Gabriel; Zephyr Publishing 2008


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