Thursday, June 21, 2018

The softening of "The Orthodox Church"

(Preachers Institute) - This is a short post on changes in the book “The Orthodox Church” by Kallistos Timothy Ware regarding the Orthodox teaching about contraception.

Natural family planning is acceptable, because it simply involves abstinence from sex during times when fertility is likely. Such is the teaching of the Church of Greece as expressed in her encyclical of October 14, 1937.

Timothy Ware’s book, The Orthodox Church, an extremely well respected book in Eastern Orthodox circles. The alterations which have been made through the various revisions tell us an interesting story, and paints a rather troubling picture concerning recent developments within Eastern Orthodoxy:

1963 Version

“Artificial methods of contraception are forbidden in the Orthodox Church”

1984 Version

“The use of contraceptives and other devices for birth control is on the whole strongly discouraged in the Orthodox Church. Some bishops and theologians altogether condemn the employment of such methods. Others, however, have recently begun to adopt a less strict position, and urge that the question is best left to the discretion of each individual couple, in consultation with the spiritual father”

1993 Version

“Concerning contraceptives and other forms of birth control, differing opinions exist within the Orthodox Church. In the past birth control was in general strongly condemned, but today a less strict view is coming to prevail, not only in the west but in traditional Orthodox countries. Many Orthodox theologians and spiritual fathers consider that the responsible use of contraception within marriage is not in itself sinful. In their view, the question of how many children a couple should have, and at what intervals, is best decided by the partners themselves, according to the guidance of their own consciences”

15 comments:

  1. Most of the fathers who opposed contraception also opposed any act not aimed at procreation. Therefore "natural family planning" would be just as sinful as other forms of contraception.

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  2. interestingly, you are more interested in condoms than in ongoing anti-Christ children abuse in your country. that requires a special kind of mind

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    1. What are anti-Christ children?

      Is this an argument where I can't be concerned of one thing because another larger thing is going on? Much like when people getting a traffic ticket start ranting at police officers about real crimes going on.

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  3. In 1987 Bishop Kallistos visited Seattle and was interviewed by a local newspaper. WHen asked about an Orthodox opinion on birth control he told about the first edition of his book and the position reflected there. He said that no sooner was the book published he began getting input from bishops, clergy --- people with a lot more pastoral experience than he had. They seem to have said not so fast, here's what life is like outside the books. His later comments were written after considering that information including his own experiences in being a pastor. Smart man. He also showed pretty poor judgement in his recent remarks.

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  4. My view is that Met. Kallistos is a moderately conservative member of the Church of England's Byzantine Rite.

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    1. A much loved and now elderly Orthodox priest told me how, years ago, he had gone to an ecumenical pilgrimage to Glastonbury (England) while he was a deacon. A very grand Anglican lady came up to him and said "You must be a Byzantine Rite Anglican"! He never went on that pilgrimage again.

      But the point is that for many senior Anglicans, the Orthodox in England are seen as ritualist "Anglicans in disguise" and I'm sorry to say that Metropolitan Kallistos just feeds into that distortion to the point when he actually starts to disseminate Anglican errors.

      Lord have mercy.

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  5. Well said John.

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  6. The clear teaching of the Orthodox Churches in prior centuries is that artificial contraception is a serious sin. Today, no Orthodox jurisdiction maintains this teaching. In fact, many teach that the use of artificial contraception is a virtue within marriage. Many teach the use of artificial contraception as responsible.

    This isn't "softening." This is teaching the opposite. This is teaching what was considered a grave injury to our relationship with our Creator and to our spouse is now an indispensable salve.

    Considering that many forms of artificial contraception are abortifacient, this also calls into question the teaching on abortion.

    If artificial contraception is "responsible" then abortion, which is always connected to many forms of artificial contraception must also be a virtue.

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    1. Advocates of "Natural family planning" have no right to accuse anyone else of revisionism.

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    2. By all means explain how to reconcile it with the patristic stance that non-procreative sex is sinful.

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    3. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  7. In modernity where nothing is a gift from God unless it aligns with one's own will, all such teachings, indeed the Cross itself is a stumbling block and must be changed.

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