The Young Fogey Fulminates Against Me
(Acknowledgement: I'd like to thank Logos for pointing this out to me, as I don't read Serge's blog.)
Mr. John "Serge" Beeler (who has appropriated for himself the title "The Young Fogey," apparently from Colleen Carroll Campbell's excellent book The New Faithful) has written a "response" to my post, "The Western Rite is Not 'Reverse Uniatism.'" Mr. Beeler and I crossed swords a number of years ago, which seems to have given him an interminable antipathy toward me — but then he seems to rage against anyone with the temerity to disagree with him. Mr. Beeler (who it seems cannot bear to call me by name), writes:
This blogger, trying to defend the Western Rite Orthodox experiment as not ‘reverse Uniatism’, seems to mirror the latinisers in the BC churches. Paraphrasing him: ‘We use Western externals but underneath are really Byzantine in our theology — the Eastern church fathers — because only that is really Orthodox’. What? [That's some paraphrase - BJ.]Those who read my blog regularly know such accusations ("byzantinocentrism"?!? Maybe I really am "Ethnic Ben.") are misplaced. What really seems to frost Mr. Beeler is that he is an indefatigable (albeit usually indirect) exponent of the Branch Theory, and I, like all faithful Orthodox, reject that notion. I believe the faith of the Apostles is Orthodox, not an odd hybrid, by parts Orthodox, Roman Catholic, or Anglican (with High, Low, and Broad churchmen vying to define that ambiguous term). Between these three communions, we are dealing, not with "different expressions," but different dogmas. For the interest of those who do not frequent the blog, I reply more fully below.
IMO the best of the WRO, like Subdeacon Ben Andersen, no longer blogging, don’t talk like that. They don’t pretend everything they do is pre-schism nor try and rewrite history to fit byzantinocentrism. Like the high-church BCs use mostly Orthodox stuff and try and square it with today’s RC ecclesiology (papal prerogatives), these Orthodox openly use Roman and Anglican prayers, devotions and spiritual writing — dare I say theology as in ‘expression of dogma’, not the same as dogma in itself? — and find that this doesn’t contradict the Byzantine theology of other Orthodox. One set of dogma, different expressions. Sounds good.
Hmm, having re-read my own post a few dozen times, I find no reference wherein I claim everything in the Western Rite "is pre-schism" (though a great deal of it is), and my readers would agree it is a stretch to refer to this blog as "byzantinocentric." (!)
The vast bulk of my post, of course, is dedicated to the fact that WRO and "Uniates" are not identical because no political or economic favors were granted in the genesis of the Western Rite; because we do not use an identical rite to that of another Church; and because we do not deceptively label ourselves members of one communion when we are members of another. (e.g., some ByzCaths call themselves "Orthodox in communion with Rome," which is an oxymoron.) All of this escaped his notice.
I also can't seem to find any statement that only the Eastern Church Fathers are "really Orthodox," a view I frequently criticize. I do find these words in my post: "we look with understandable affection at forefathers like Pope St. Gregory the Great, St. Ambrose of Milan, the Venerable Bede, and St. Peter Chrysologos." I simply noted that we in the Western Rite do not ignore the Eastern Fathers. How radical.
I've rather made it a distinctive practice to point out the similarities of Eastern and Western Rite practice: see here, here, here, here, and here. In other words, "One set of dogma, different expressions. Sounds good."
Incidentally: Three times in his post, Mr. Beeler makes reference to an alleged "high-church minority" of Byzantine Catholics. Most Ruthenians and Melkites are now Evangelical Charismatic Megachurchers, presumably.