East and West
J. A. Cook and I had a long talk about the division between the Anglicans and the Eastern Orthodox, which he has now posted here. He did a good job at setting out the Greek position on Orthodoxy and I continued the Western Orthodox flail at the systematic arrogance we find there. No new ecumenicism was reached, of course, but it was a good hashing out.
The Eastern Orthodox claim that the great heresies were historically different in the East, being repelled and never succumbed to. This seems to be the claim on which the entire issue turns.
The Eastern Orthodox deny the possibility of any division of the Church, and thus there could never be an ecumenical movement nor a reunification, by the very definition of "church." This is the belief behind their use of loaded jargon and prejudiced history that I call Ortho-Speak and forms the wall we Western Orthodox can’t really talk past.
The Greek Orthodox want to define an Orthodox Church as one with an unbroken line of faithful bishops, and refuse to believe that such exists in England. We agree with that demand and that standard but are always confounded and frustrated when a "faithful bishop" and the "orthodox faith" is defined not by the Creeds or the Councils or even the first 1000 years of the Church (as an Anglican answers the definitional question of the true church) but by the practices of Constantinople.
Surprisingly, the Anglicans agree with the Eastern Orthodox on the filioque clause. It was added to the creed by a Spanish council and is not part the original creed, yet it is wholly orthodox in content and was added by the Spanish Christians as a rejection of their heretical Arianism. The Holy Spirit does proceed through the Son. Cook says that the issue with the filioque isn’t in doctrine but in the politics of Rome.
Cook admits that "the English Church in the 900's was very much not identical to the Greek Church, and yet it was fully Orthodox" something I've never heard the EO grant and something I have heard them question. ("Augustine was a backwater fellow and wasn’t fully orthodox;" "the liturgical differences of the West—sculptures, Ash Wednesday, central crucifixes, rosaries—are signs of their decadence and heresy;" "west=bad;" etc. etc.)
For all the tangled twists and for all the warts of a late night debate over religion, check out the conversation.