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Orthodox Christians Should Work to Revive the Byzantine Empire

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BlackflagBlackflag (PRO)
 I thank the opposition for attending this debate. May it be invigorating and reward us with the benefits of higher understanding. 

The Problem 
The orthodox churches lack complexion and harmony. This impedes the Churches capacity to fulfill their commitments. Foremost being the organized spreading of the Orthodox faith. Many orthodox Christians are drawn to the allure of the ancient ways. Beautiful architecture, music, art, and the traditions of ancients have attracted numerous philosophers, collegians, scholars, and ascetics to the orthodox faith. Younger generations are no longer as attracted to the Byzantine religion, and in recent years, membership in the 14 communed churches under the leadership of the Patriarch of Constantinople have fallen. A report conducted by Alexei Krindatch, and recorded by the Hartford Institute, displays the fall in membership in the American Orthodox Church (Russian Dioceses). One of the main frontiers in the spreading of the faith. http://www.hartfordinstitute.org/research/2010-USOrthodox-Census.pdf

While the Orthodox communion establishes firmer roots in Ukraine, Russia, and the Balkans, the regions where orthodoxy used to have its hold, including Anatolia, the Caucasus, and Illyria, are starting to move to Islam and Atheism. This is causing religious unrest and violence, in areas where religious peace and enlightenment used to be a commonality. No one profits from the failure of the orthodoxy. It is imperative that Catholics, Protestants, and most importantly, the Orthodox, come together and save Christian lands, by first saving the orthodox church. If such actions aren't resolved, the world will undoubtedly fall to sectarian violence, and only by the will of evil, a 10th crusade. 

The Solution 
A revived empire is the only thing that can prevent the terrible fate that is the fall of Christianity. This is not an empire of vast land or resources. At least not in material form. This is an empire of faithful Christians, connected by faith and faith alone. An empire is a "group of peoples who rule over a territory slightly larger than a kingdom, ran by an emperor". This is what the Christian world needs. Reunification of the Christian peoples, under a titled sovereign, where their collective power can change the course of history, and restore the fatherland of Christianity to god. 

The Plan 
  • Unite the 14 churches in communion under the Patriarchy of Constantinople, also known by the Orthodoxy as the Byzantine Church. 
  • Following ancient byzantine traditions, elect a symbolic emperor from the Palaiologos dynasty, and continue the sacred greek and latin church rites of having the patriarch appointed by the emperor, and the emperor appointed by the patriarch.

Palaiologos Standard and Later Flag of the Byzantine Empire

  • Give Byzantine title to those of church status, like in the Papacy
  • Work to build a religious beacon after that of Hagia Sofia, where byzantine theology, science, and culture will be revived
  • Declare sovereign status and receive recognition on the same level as the Vatican 

Unification of the 14 churches 
You might be asking, what do we have to gain from unifying the remnants of the Patriarch's Byzantine Church? The gains are endless. As the Christian religion begins to falter, the disunity of the byzantine church becomes more evident. When and if Christianity falls, the only people who have to benefit are the anarchists. As much as some despise religion, it is a fault line in some areas of the world. Its removal or destruction will cause massive consequences. Therefore the first thought on everyone's mind, including Muslims and Atheists, is how can we restore faith?

It doesn't matter what faith it is, or what beliefs are present. Just that faith is sustained. There are some people who can not function without the faith. By uniting the Byzantine Church, we give more power and organization to the Orthodoxy. This means a more organized approach to maintaining Christianity and religion in general.  There is only so much 14 unorganized churches can do. It is time for change. The current system is not working, and the Orthodoxy must follow the model of those who have achieved what they haven't. The Roman Church worked, and so can the Byzantine Church. They just need to adapt. 

The Symbolic Role of Emperor 
An emperor is the key to any successful empire. Especially in one dedicated to religion. The Byzantine Church can succeed without an emperor, but it wont be as powerful, or as effective without a symbolic head of state. A head of state that represents the thousands of years in Greek influence. A symbol of the power and might of the Roman empire. The last remaining descendant of the deeds of Brutus. 

A new Roman emperor, would be the most powerful politician in namesake alone, whom has the influence and allure to start a new, unified Christian society. 

My side has showed that there is a problem, and have presented a realistic solution towards resolving it. We are certain that arguments in opposition to the proposal will unfold, and we eagerly await to refute them. Join us in supporting a new era. One where we see peace and unity under the veil of a revived Christendom. 

Baptism of Constantine I, founder of the Byzantine Dynasty and first Christian emperor of Roma 

Return To Top | Posted:
2014-11-17 11:01:32
| Speak Round
nzlockienzlockie (CON)
I thank my opponent for opening his case. In this debate my side will argue AGAINST the resolution that Orthodox Christians should work to revive the Byzantine Empire.
Since my opponent has failed to do so, I will begin by setting some definitions. It's already setting up to a wordy debate, so I'll keep it brief. 

Orthodox Christians - Orthodox Christianity traces its roots back to Peter's sermon at Pentecost, described in the Bible in Acts 2: 14-41. It's important to note that the Orthodox church began at this point and as such, bypassed the entire Reformation which saw the Protestant church split from the Catholic church. 
Orthodox Christians have a firm statement of Faith which is going to be critical in this debate. It has remained largely unchanged since Pentecost and can be read in its entirety here. Although it will prove to be important, it's quite wordy so you don't need to go and read it now. I'll quote the relevant passages as we go.  
Although Orthodox Christianity can be found all over the globe, it has traditionally been strongest in Eastern Europe. 

Byzantine Empire - The Byzantine Empire was born from the remains of the Roman Empire. It was centred, funnily enough, around the small town of Byzantium, located at the point where the continents of Europe and Asia meet. As you can imagine, the Byzantine Empire was fueled by the need to uphold the principles of Christendom and put down the advances of Islam which stemmed from Asia. The Byzantine era was one of tremendous art and culture, as my opponent has pointed out, but it was also one of religious intolerance and war, as its emperors fought to hold together a progressively fracturing empire. 
As with all such things, historians are divided on exactly when the Byzantine era began and finished, but if my opponent agrees, we can roughly say it begins around 330CE, when Constantinople, (now Istanbul) is founded on the site of the small town of Byzantium and stretches for approximately another 1100 years until Constantinople is captured and occupied by the Muslims in 1453CE. 

This map shows the extent of the Byzantine Empire at its height. This pinnacle sees the Byzantine Empire being a little half the size of the Ancient Roman Empire, but almost three times larger than the Holy Roman Empire.
Want to know more? You nerd. Go read all about it here.  

My opponent has done a decent job of describing some of the internal workings of the Byzantine Empire. Obviously there is a lot more detail, and I'll reserve the right to delve into that more should it become an issue. 
For now, the resolution reads that Orthodox Christians from all over the world should work to revive the Byzantine Empire to its former glory. 
This house plans to argue against this resolution. 

The Core Issue
This debate will largely centre on one issue. 

Why should the Byzantine Empire be revived?

This is easily answered. It should be revived to ensure that the end goal of Orthodox Christianity is realised. There is no other valid reason. Orthodox Christianity is concerned with one thing, and that is the single goal that every thing it does must strive for. Any effort spent NOT striving for that goal, is wasted effort. 
My side of the house will show that reviving the Byzantine Empire will NOT achieve this goal.  

The end goal of Orthodox Christianity is that all men be able to attain holy perfection and thereby live side by side with God for eternity. 
One of the fathers of Orthodoxy, St Theophan the Recluse said, 

“The chief end of our life is to live in communion with God. To this end the Son of God became incarnate, in order to return us to this divine communion, which was lost by the fall into sin. Through Jesus Christ, the Son of God, we enter into communion with the Father and thus attain our purpose.” 

Although they add several other books to the complete canon of scripture, Orthodox Christians largely believe the same Bible used by both Protestants and Catholics. The Bible outlines very clearly how a person might come to realise the goal of holiness and communion with God, and it is nothing to do with land, cathedrals, art and ceremony. According to the Orthodox statement of faith, it is all to do with Faith and Works.  

There are several sound biblical principles which support the idea that the kind of social constructs my opponent is suggesting the Orthodox Church implement are simply not needed. They were not needed yesterday and they're not needed today.

CON's Debate Structure
This is a five round debate. For clarity's sake, here is how my side plans to argue this resolution.
Round One: CON will frame the debate. Isolate the central issue and set the definitions. Resurrecting the Byzantine Empire will not achieve the goal of bringing Man into an eternal holy union with his creator. 
Round Two: In this round we will argue from an Orthodox perspective. Using the criterion of Utilitarianism, we will show that even if an Orthodox interpretation of scripture is correct, rebuilding the Empire will not be the most efficient way to spread the faith. 
Round Three: In this round we will attack the Orthodox interpretation of scripture itself. If the path to salvation as described by the Orthodox scholars can be proved to be wrong, then resurrecting the Byzantine Empire is an exercise in futility. It will be our contention in this round that, rather than rebuild the Byzantine Empire, Orthodox Christians should abandon a traditional Orthodox interpretation in favour of one that better keeps to the original scriptures. 
Round Four: In this round we will attack the entirety of the Christian Faith - which obviously includes Orthodox Christianity. It will be our contention that, rather than rebuild the Byzantine Empire, Orthodox Christians should abandon their belief system and invite their neighbors over for a Barbeque.
Round Five: In this final round we will tidy up any remaining issues resulting from the previous rounds. It should be relaxing and easy. We'll do the final sum up in our Reply speech.  

By the time this debate has finished, we should have convincingly argued that Christianity is false and BBQs are awesome. 
If Christianity is true, then the Orthodox interpretation of scripture is false. 
If the Orthodox Interpretation is true, then rebuilding the Byzantine Empire is not the most efficient way of achieving its goal.

If you, the judge, are convinced by ANY of our arguments, then you must vote CON in this debate. 
I look forward to the remainder of this debate where I'm sure we will delve into these issues a little deeper. 

Return To Top | Posted:
2014-11-17 15:18:49
| Speak Round
Stag : Do you agree that the byzantine church is weaker and more disorganized than the Roman church? Either of the two?
Stag : For what reason do you consider the Orthodox scripture not "original"?
Stag : Do you agree that the majority of apostles and church fathers stated that, "all you have to do to reach heaven"is believe Christ is the son of god"
Stag : *? If so, then don't you think out foremost goal should be getting people to believe in Christ? Do you also agree that the Byzantine Church is a church, and not a faith? If so, then what makes you that a byzantine empire can't exist under a different interpretation of scripture
Stag : Well this has been less than satisfying (5 hours left, so I wont be able to answer any further questions probably)
Stag : *technically there hasn
nzlockie: Arghh! Sorry, there was no notification to say there were CX questions waiting!
nzlockie: Q1: I think it'd be fair to say that the current Byzantine, (Orthodox) church is weaker and less organised than the Roman Catholic Church, yes. Not dramatically so, but yes.
nzlockie: Q2: I never said it wasn't "original". The Orthodox church and the Catholic Church both add extra books to the Bible used by the Protestant churches. To say it's less "original" though would not be fair.
nzlockie: Q3: No I don't believe the majority claimed that mere belief was enough. This goes clearly against several scriptures and the Orthodox church has always placed a high value on scripture. The path to heaven, according to Orthodox, will include Works as well as Faith.
nzlockie: Q4: The Byzantine Church is a church. Orthodox Christianity is a Faith, in as much as it is a denomination of Christendom.
nzlockie: Q4b: By definition, you could have any Empire based from old Byzantium and call it a Byzantine Empire. THE Byzantine Empire though, was definitely a theocracy based around the Orthodox interpretation of scripture.
nzlockie: One could ask what it would profit Orthodox Christians to ressurect an Empire based on a non-orthodox view of scripture though...
nzlockie: Since my answer to the first part was no, I don't need to address 3b, but I'm going to. The Bible is very clear on the difference between Faith and Belief. No denomination of Christendom would have mere belief as a goal. James 2:19 points out that even the Demons believe in Jesus, but they certainly won't be going to heaven.
nzlockie: Sorry again for the lateness of my replies - I promise I'll do better next time!
Stag : Q2A) So this isn't a contradiction "Orthodox Christians should abandon a traditional Orthodox interpretation in favour of one that better keeps to the original scriptures"/ " I never said it wasn't "original""
Stag : Your first part was sufficient enough. So do you concede that the byzantine church can exist without the traditional orthodox faith? Which it seems you are conceding.
Stag : In the bible, it says that the cause of satan is reliant on the rejection of god and personal divinity. Is it logically possible for "Demons" to believe a god exists and still revere satan? Is that what is actually happens, and if so, is it based solely off the quote from James?
Stag : *is that what is actually happening
nzlockie: Q2A - ah yes! In that round I will be arguing from the perspective that the Orthodox church has drifted away from the original scriptures - not that their scripture is unoriginal.
nzlockie: Q5: This resolution says nothing about the Byzantine Church. It talks about Orthodox Christians and the Byzantine Empire. That Empire was defined as the theocracy based on the Orthodox Faith. So within the scope of THIS debate, the Byzantine Church and Orthodox doctrine go hand in hand.
nzlockie: Q6: Belief is just knowing something to be true. Faith is that belief realised through action. It's totally logical. I can find you other verses, but none as clear cut as that one. Not sure why you'd need one? It's a pretty uncontested distinction in virtually every branch of christendom?
Stag : Is it possible for the Byzantine church to shift towards the ways of the original scripture, instead of destructuring the church entirely?
Stag : Do you concede that the byzantine empire of the past and byzantine empire of today don't have to be carbon copies?
Stag : *proposed empire of today
Stag : So demons don't have faith in god, but believe in him? Are you implying that demons are in subconscious denial?
nzlockie: Yes I'm ok with the idea that the Byzantine Empire of today doesn't have to be a Carbon Copy. Why don't you explain what it WILL look like?
nzlockie: Well, this really has very little to do with this debate, but briefly, the Bible tells us that the demons believe in God, but don't have faith in him. That is, they know he exists, but they don't choose to follow him. This is all a moot point since the Orthodox Statement of Faith itself never claims that mere belief is enough.
Stag : A) A unified set of churches, probably orthodox, with a symbolic Byzantine emperor as head of state.
Stag : So you don't agree with Paul and Peters statement that Lucifer thrives off the rejection of god as legitimate
Stag : *?
nzlockie: Hmmm. Well, if that's what you want to argue then go for it. You'll need to explain why Orthodox Christians should campaign for it though. It should be acknowledged though that the thing that defined the Byzantine Empire was the doctrine, not the geographical location. If you were to argue that the Empire should be resurrected but with an atheist stance, then it's hardly a resurrection of the old Empire.
nzlockie: Bro, you completely lost me with Lucifer thriving off the rejection of God. What statement, and how does that contradict anything I've said?
nzlockie: (Don't answer that - I really don't see what this rabbit trail has to do with anything in this debate. Maybe you should save this line until you can better explain how it fits. My stance is with the rest of Christendom, best summed up in James.)

Return To Top | Speak Round
BlackflagBlackflag (PRO)
New Definitions 
There were plenty of biased aspects to the oppositions definitions. As Pro I should be able to frame my own definitions. 

The Byzantine Empire, sometimes known as the Eastern Roman Empire, was the predominantly Greek-speaking continuation of the eastern half of the Roman Empire during Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages

Orthodox Christianity
is the life in faith of the Orthodox Church, inseparable from that concrete, historic community and encompassing its entire way of life. The sole purpose of Orthodox Christianity is the salvation of every human person, uniting him to Christ in the Church, transforming him in holiness, and imparting eternal life. 

Is Orthodox Christianity a Doctrine or a Culture?
It is important to establish, that Orthodox Christianity never had an official doctrine. The Byzantine church was formed during the Great Schism, as a result of various disputes between the Pope and patrons of the Eastern Roman Empire. There were several things that led to the Great Schism...
  • The Papacy declared 5 biblical books held sacred to eastern churches as non-canonical 
  • The Papacy officially discouraged the use of religious iconography 
  • The Pope declared that he had universal jurisdiction of all Christians 
  • The Papacy dictated that leavening agents should be applied to bread during the Eucharist 
  • The Papacy shifted almost all of the churches power away from Constantinople

When the Great Schism did happen, unlike the Western church, the east split into thousands of independent churches. Some liken it to an open declaration of independence. During the Great Schism, churches all the way from Russia to Assyria cut their ties from the papacy. The independent churches under the Byzantine Empire, Kievan Rus, and Muscovy became known as the Orthodoxy, or the original church 

The Orthodoxy was more of an alliance between churches than a united force 

What do Orthodox Christians Believe?
The Orthodoxy isn't a religion. It doesn't even have an official doctrine unlike the Vatican. To be an Orthodox Christian, is to be apart of one of the 39 traditional Orthodox churches, or 7 oriental churches. In pure form, an Orthodox Christian is someone who isn't Catholic,  but not exactly protestant. An Orthodox Christian is someone who believes in studying all 55 books of the bible, celebrates all the saint feasts, and decorates their churches differently.

Orthodox Christians aren't that different from other Christians. They just like to preserve their eastern culture and traditions

Orthodox Christianity is a culture, not religious law. The Catholics have one church and one doctrine. The Orthodoxy has 46 and many doctrines. The core belief of Orthodox Christians, as stated in the definition, is the salvation of every human, and the bringing of their souls to Christ. The Orthodox religion symbolizes not only the history of Eastern Christendom, but the adaptation of the faith in favor of saving every soul. 

Are There Any Theological Differences Between Orthodox Christians and Other Christians?
"The legalism and political power that has shaped Catholicism, as well as the total authority of the Pope, contrasts with the Orthodox Church, who keep the doctrine that their Faith is "not of this world." - Wikipedia

"Most differences in theology are material. It is the love of Christ that matters" - Patriarch of Byzantium

It is impossible to generalize the beliefs of the 300 million traditional Orthodox Christians in the world, divided over their 45 different church bodies. The link the opposition provided really only covers the beliefs of the Russian Orthodox Church. The quote provided, although from Wikipedia, really speaks volumes about the initiative the government is pushing. Do many Eastern Christians hold beliefs that many Western Christians don't? Of course they do. Disputes over Eucharist, Resurrection, and Iconography were all prominent issues during the Schism. 

The differences the opposition has stated, aren't what defines Orthodox Christianity. What defines Orthodox Christianity, is the stand they took in defending their beliefs, in what they saw as religious tyranny. Against all adversity they broke ties with Rome, and elected their own Church leaders. That is what defines the Orthodoxy. This is what keeps them united under communion. It is time for them to take full pride in their religious heritage, and form one church! The Byzantine Church!

What God Wants? 
God wants love. Spoken through all his prophets. Shown through the actions of all the Church Fathers. God doesn't care whether we use leavened or unleavened bread during Eucharist. God doesn't care whether we worship him at an altar or at our beds. God cares about our love. 

It doesn't matter what doctrine Christians follow in attaining a love for god

The Central Idea: Will a United Church Spread Christianity Better Than a Divided Church 
It most certainly will. To really prove this point, we must shift to the teachings of the Christian bible. The lord, through Jesus, guided the apostles to spread the faith to gentiles, and establish the foundations of his church. In those times, and still existent today, the church was defined as a "body of Christians in communion". Jesus, lord in the holy triumvirate, saw, and even mandated the creation of his church. 

I wonder how they make all these Christianity posters?

The need for a united church is there. A united communion of Christians is an unstoppable force. Abraham Lincoln once stated that "A house divided among itself cannot stand". I say we take a stand. Today it is the Byzantine Church! Tomorrow it can be all of Christendom! 

Return To Top | Posted:
2014-11-26 12:07:38
| Speak Round
nzlockienzlockie (CON)
I thank my opponent for his impassioned round. Apparently my definitions were a bit biased. I'd like to assure both the judges and my opponent that was never my intent - any good debate needs definitions and as they weren't set by PRO, I was forced to set them myself. 
In the interests of moving this debate along, I'll accept his definitions - however I'd like to register my distaste for them and the fact that they've been introduced in a way that makes me look like I was being underhanded. 
Unlike my definitions which were both cited, he has only partially cited one of them and THAT citation is from Wikipedia, a notoriously untrustworthy source.

Orthodox Christianity - is it a Religion? 
My opponent says no. He is wrong. It is a subset of Christianity - itself a religion. The clue is in the second half of the name. 
Here's a family tree which demonstrates it. I can produce a hundred others which will also confirm that Orthodox Christianity is a branch of the Christian religion. I really don't want to waste more time on this statement - it is demonstrably true. Orthodox Christianity meets every criteria of religion. 

Orthodox Christianity - is it a culture?
There is no question that there is a culture closely associated with Orthodox Christianity. HOWEVER, the doctrine of Orthodox Christianity MUST be able to be separated from the culture. As a religion which attributes the highest importance on the Bible, the Orthodox culture must be defined by the scripture. In other words the cultural aspects of the Orthodox people are derived from the Religion itself. 
A closer examination of that doctrine will find that it is a WORKS-based doctrine. That is, salvation comes in part from proving your devotion through ceremonies and works of service. Many of these have woven themselves into the fabric of Orthodox Christians' everyday lives and activities, thus giving the impression that church and culture can't be separated. But if push came to shove, and culture and church disagreed, church must win out out over culture; because if the culture goes against the teachings of the Bible then what use is it?

Orthodox Christianity - is it a Doctrine?
Again, yes it is. Again the clue is in the name. Orthodox Christianity, like most branches of Christendom, has various subsets and my opponent is correct when he says that individual churches may disagree on minor and some major aspects of doctrine. However they MUST agree on certain issues. These issues are the Fundamentals of the Faith.
Namely -

What is the purpose of Man? 
As quoted in my initial round, Orthodox Christians believe it is to live in communion with God. This means attaining a degree of holiness to the point where we can be in His presence. This is a core belief. Where individual Orthodox churches will differ will be on how exactly that is fleshed out.
Followers of other branches of Christianity will disagree, such as Calvinists, who believe that the chief end of man is to glorify God. This subtle disagreement results in quite wide doctrinal differences further down the line, such as their belief in salvation by Faith alone as opposed to any form of Works.

How is Salvation attained?
As has already been mentioned, Salvation is attained, in part, through Works. This belief is universal throughout the Orthodox churches. Specifically, salvation is attained by completing seven sacraments during one's lifetime.

Authority of Scripture? 
Is the word of God infallible? Is it complete? Is it sufficient? These are fundamental questions for the Orthodox Faith. Catholics differ from Orthodox because they believe that the Pope has the divine right to add or alter holy text. This fact means that to the Catholic, the Bible is NOT infallible, is NOT complete and is not complete. 
Orthodox believe that the Scripture is infallible and complete, but not that it is sufficient. They believe that the Bible must be interpreted through "Church Tradition". This is an inexact definition but allows them to interpret certain passages differently from other branches and even from previous synods from within their own ranks if the need arises. All without compromising the perfection and inerrancy of the Bible. 
Orthodox Christians also differ from most Protestant Christians in that they recognise not only the 66 books of the Bible as divinely inspired but several others books and passages. Here's a diagram to contrast them all:
Orthodox churches may differ on other aspects of doctrine, but to differ from any of the above means they can no longer be defined as Orthodox. 
Each individual church will have a Statement of Faith which will define their doctrine - so when my opponent says that the Orthodox Church doesn't have a doctrine, he's not exactly right. What IS correct is that they don't have a single unified doctrine or Statement of Faith. I chose the Russian Orthodox one because I believe it contains the least number of these conflicts.
I don't think the differences in individual interpretations are going to make much of a difference in this debate anyway. If my opponent disagrees, I invite him to bring up as many conflicts as he can next round. 

Are there differences between Orthodox Christians and Other Christians? 
Of course there are. We agree on this point. It is self-evident and irrelevant. I'm not sure why my opponent brought this up. 

We differ on the issue of what defines an Orthodox Christian though. "Taking a stand against Religious Tyranny" is hardly unique to the Orthodox Christian. Martin Luther did the same when he started the Reformation that saw the Protestant church split from the Catholic. The Church of England did the same when it split from the Catholic Church. People take stands against religious tyranny every day.
I don't say this to minimise the Orthodox Church or its leaders, it's just that this is clearly NOT the definition of their faith. What defines the Orthodox Christian and sets them apart is their doctrine - what they believe.   

All God wants is our love. 
Citation required? I'm pretty sure that even most Orthodox church leaders would disagree with this statement. The Bible teaches that God wants our devotion, our obedience, our repentance... unless this is this one of those times where "love" is all of these things smooshed together along with anything else I forgot at the time?
Kind of reminds me of this...

This point by my opponent also doesn't have any relevance to this debate but it served as a good way for me to promote a hilarious movie. 

United Church is more effective than a Divided one.
Far be it from this side of the house to disagree with Honest Abe. We do not contest that a united church is more effective at spreading the gospel than a divided one. 

Now that I've addressed the points raised in my opponent's last round, I'll quickly explain why resurrecting the Byzantine Empire is not a good idea from an Orthodox Perspective.

The Church will be forced to adapt and compromise
The Orthodox Church believes that its ceremonies and traditions - the "cultural" aspect that my opponent refers to are essential to the salvation of a person. The world at the birth of Byzantine Empire was very receptive to this way of life. Individual Autonomy was not really a major factor. People expected to have to change their life style to receive the benefits of religion. 
Today's world is a very different place. People in countries all over the world will struggle to conform to the very rigid traditions of Orthodox culture. Protests will be made at the loss of their individual and native culture as they are forced to blend or adopt numerous Eastern European practices. 
There are two things that could happen at this point of conflict, either the majority of the populace are forced to abandon their own culture and liberties in favour of this one or, more likely, in order to realise their goals, the Orthodox Faith will have to alter their own culture and traditions in order to make themselves relevant and attractive. This dillution will serve to divide the church, something my opponent agrees will doom them to failure and something that is already happening. For example, many Eastern Elders are upset that the Orthodox Bible is now being made available in English instead of the traditional languages. This result can also be seen in many protestant churches who are having to comprise previously held beliefs in order to stay relevant.

The church and state will be joined
The Byzantine Empire was a theocracy. The Church and State were intimately linked. Although a few Theocracies still exist today, the majority of countries in the world have decided that a separation of Church and State is a better way to go. 
The fact is that if the Orthodox Church WAS the state, that very fact alone would prevent them from reaching a huge number of people - people who would have reason to mistrust the intentions of those decision makers. Were they REALLY concerned about MY spiritual well being or are they just after my tax money?
Evangelism would become easier in one regard as opposing religions are legislated against and people are forced to conform to Biblical law as interpreted by the Elders, Abortions outlawed, Gay Marriage, and indeed Homosexuality itself, made illegal... however the hearts of the people would become hardened very quickly as they were resentful of those in authority. They would not be willing to listen to anything they had to say. 

The lost are harder to spot.
There is a major problem with ANY religion succeeding in recreating a "Holy Society" on earth - the ones who are truely saved become harder to differentiate from those that are lost. Everyone is being forced to physically conform - personal lifestyle, clothing, hair, speech, behaviour, all of this being done because of law or tradition means that internal motivation becomes harder to spot and easier to fake. 
If the church's goal is salvation of every man, how does forcing the lost to live like they are saved aid this?

It's impossible.
Resurrecting ANY empire, let alone one as vast and as dominant as the Byzantine Empire in today's world is an impossible task. The costs involved in literally EVERY area would be insurmountable. Add to that that it would bring the world into immediate physical conflict once Islamists, Hindus and other ardent believers felt threatened by an expanding Orthodox front. 
The day of Empires has past. The Orthodox church would better realise their goals by sticking to the plan of gradual church planting



Return To Top | Posted:
2014-12-03 11:36:51
| Speak Round
BlackflagBlackflag (PRO)
The Proposal: Making it more Clear
The opposition is befuddled by the proposal the government has made. We will set the record straight once again.
  1. Unite the Orthodox Churches 
  2. Have the Patriarchy elect an honorary emperor 
  3. Push for international recognition on the same level as the Vatican
We are not asking for the church to engage in land expansion. We are not asking the church to subjugate and force members into the faith. We are simply asking for the church to establish firmer roots. I am not convinced that this is an impossible task. Especially when it has already been done hundreds of times. I pity the opposition for failing to think big enough. 

Game Changing Contradiction 
Earlier the opposition stated that the central reason for why the Byzantine Empire should be revived was to make sure the end goal of Orthodox Christianity is realized. Even going as far as to post a quote agreeing with my previous statement, "Orthodox Christianities main goal is to seek the salvation of every soul". Then for what reason would the opposition continue to post this... "We do not contest that a united church is more effective at spreading the gospel than a divided one?"

The opposition has proven his own central idea, in the affirmatives favor.

Orthodox Christianity as A Religion
Christianity is a religion. Orthodoxy is a sect of the greater religion. Pushed harder than any of our other contentions. Orthodox Christianity is divided into a further 43 churches. Each with their own doctrines. Orthodox Christianity can not be considered anything more than an Eastern division of Christianity. The opposition prided themselves on posting a chart on the books each denomination accepts. Most, not all of Orthodox Churches canonized the books listed. Further evidence that Orthodox Christianity doesn't have a generic doctrine. 

If Orthodox Christianity has an official doctrine, I ask the opposition to show it.  Can the opposition find even three beliefs that are the same through all 36 standard Orthodox Churches? There hasn't been much more than gross generalizations of the many different church doctrines. Orthodox churches would be astoundingly offended by the accusation that all Orthodox patriarchies are the exact same. 

Saying that the Greek Orthodox Church and the Georgian Orthodox Church have generically similar beliefs is only half true. Does Eastern Christianity share a couple core beliefs? Sure. God exists and you should love god for starters! Besides what bread to use on Eucharist and how to conduct mass, there isn't much of a religious divide between Orthodox Christianity and other denominations. 

Gods Primary Concern is Love: Biblical Evidence 
The following quote exists in every translation and version of the bible. "I want you to show love, not offer sacrifices. I want you to know me more than I want burnt offerings." This is undeniable and biblical proof that god doesn't want devotion and customary sacrilegious practices, nearly as much as he wants his creations love. Further evidence can be provided in this quote, "In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome."

There is not much of a difference in the Eastern and Western Christian beliefs. They believe in the same commandments and the same principals. The opposition goes as far as to insult the Orthodoxy for having more books in its bibles. Is not more books, more scripture on how to follow and love God? God himself said love is foremost. If the Orthodoxy can spread love for God more effectively united, like the opposition conceded would happen, then how are we not doing the right thing by uniting the churches under one roof? The opposition baffles me with his contradictions. Only showing that the opposition is baffled by their own case. 

We have proven the central idea. Orthodox Christianity can spread gospel better united. We have proven that God wants love and not sacrifice. We have proven that the Orthodoxy can offer the knowledge and the love for God that so many desire. Enough proving! Let's begin to act, and establish the foundations for a better Christendom!

Return To Top | Posted:
2014-12-12 07:37:29
| Speak Round
nzlockienzlockie (CON)
Thank you Stagman for your latest round. It contained several false accusations which I'd like to quickly address before moving on to the pre-planned third round argument.
A clearer proposal: I appreciate the clarification although I assure you it was unneeded.
The concept of the Byzantine EMPIRE has already been defined. It references not just a unified group of churches but encompasses political, societal and cultural life as well. I must protest to the judges that my opponent continues to redefine it, even into the third round. It is very hard for my side to adequately contest his proposed ideal if he continually shifts the goalposts each round. 

"Game changing contradiction": Sigh, this really is a laughable connection. 
It's true that I stated that there is only ONE viable reason that the Byzantine Empire should be resurrected. It's my opponent's burden to prove that such a Resurrection would satisfy that reason. This he has so far failed to do. 

It is NOT true that my quoted goal of the Orthodox Christian supports his one. 
 “The chief end of our life is to live in communion with God. To this end the Son of God became incarnate, in order to return us to this divine communion, which was lost by the fall into sin. Through Jesus Christ, the Son of God, we enter into communion with the Father and thus attain our purpose.”
-St Theophan the Recluse 
"Orthodox Christianities main goal is to seek the salvation of every soul" - My Opponent
The difference is the focus. St Theophan's stated purpose is entirely inward. It makes exactly zero reference to evangelism. This is consistant with a works-based salvation. My opponent's focus on the other hand is outward focused.

Regarding my CX statement that a united church is more effective at spreading the gospel than a divided one, this was a simple statement of fact taken out of context. A united anything is more effective at achieving any goal than a divided one. Now I learn the true context he was intending this statement for so I can point out a couple things. 
Firstly, the Byzantine Empire he is advocating allows the churches to maintain their doctrinal differences - which he says are considerable. I do not consider that "united" at all. I don't think anyone would. 
Secondly, it's not relevant since a united church has little effect in regards to the stated goals of Orthodoxy - which are , as already mentioned, entirely individually focused. 

Orthodox Christianity is not a religion: I'm making a calculated assumption here that the Judges are on my side in this already and I'm therefore not wasting time pushing this one much further. Orthodox Christianity is CLEARLY a religion. My opponent and I agree on this, evidenced by the fact that both of us have stated that it is a subset of Christianity. 
We also both agree that there are vast differences within Orthodox Christianity in terms of individual doctrines. I've never stated that they were "exactly the same", so I'm comfortable that I'll still be getting Christmas cards from the Patriarchs. 
My opponent has asked me for three shared doctrines and I'm happy to oblige:

1. Salvation comes through both Faith and Works. 
2. Jesus Christ was God.
3. Transubstantiation - a Catholic doctrine which basically says that the bread and wine taken in the Eucharist ceremony literally transforms into the flesh and blood of Jesus. (eww) Orthodox Christians are joined with the majority of Protestants and Reformed in rejecting this doctrine in favour of one where the emblems are representative only.

(Plus one for extra credit and because it's relevant to this round)
4. The 66 books of the Bible are not sufficient. All Orthodox churches are united in their claim that the 66 books are not sufficient. They recognise extra books and passages as being divinely inspired.

Some of these beliefs, primarily the first one, are what DEFINES orthodox Christianity. The fact that they are so vastly divided on so many other doctrines further supports my contention that uniting them together is a practical impossibility, and certainly would NOT be the most efficient method of achieving their stated goals.

God just wants our love: Unfortunately for my opponent this doctrine goes directly against Orthodox Christianity, which is united in its belief that the "Holy Tradition" is just as important as an individual's personal love for God. Orthodoxy demands that certain sacraments must be performed to achieve salvation and a personal communion with God. My opponent's paragraph here gives a false impression that these physical ceremonies are not required. Maybe he should be arguing for my side?

In the last round I asked him for a citation on this doctrine, and I thank him for the verse he's quoted. 
I'm going to picking this up in this round as I use it to argue that a Works based faith, such as Orthodox Christianity is not biblical, and therefore should not be supported. 

I also reject the accusation that I was insulting the Orthodox Church for having more books in their Bible. This is highly offensive to me personally. I've reread my previous rounds and I fail to see how any of what I said could possibly be construed as insulting. Especially since the last round was argued from the Orthodox perspective. This was one of several times my opponent has attacked me personally during this debate - I'd appreciate it if he'd keep the attacks to my case rather than me personally.  
I'll just finish here by stating the obvious - more books in scripture does NOT equal more devotion. I'm pretty sure this was a joke anyway?

Dropped Points: 
The following points were all made in my last round and have been largely ignored by my opponent.
The Byzantine Empire should not be revived because:
  • The Church will be forced to adapt and compromise - a dillution will serve to divide the church, something my opponent agrees will doom them to failure. 
  • The church and state will be joined - Theocracies are bad.
  • The lost are harder to spot.
  • It's impossible - Insurmountable Logistical issues

Due to unforseen time constants, I'm afraid I'm going to have to leave my third round argument here. 
I apologise for this, I'll  review my argument structure next round and make sure I post some constructive. 



Return To Top | Posted:
2014-12-19 05:28:45
| Speak Round
Stag : Where did you get the idea Orthodox Christians do not believe Jesus is apart of the holy triumvariate?
Stag : Were you aware that almost all Orthodox Christians believe Jesus is god?

Return To Top | Speak Round
BlackflagBlackflag (PRO)

The Proposal: Has not been redefined. It was outlined exactly the same in round one. Just in a more wordy style, and not presented as a fancy list. I ask the judges to consider this and only this proposal, as it is the one we are debating, and have been debating since round one. We were very clear that the Byzantine Empire just consisted of the unified churches and an honorary emperor. The opposing position is trying to snake the resolution, by falsifying what we are actually proposing with his own interpretation. For clarity, we shall restate the proposal this round as well. Let it be known, this is the only thing my side has attempted to affirm. 
  1. United the Orthodox Churches under one Patriarchy
  2. Have the Patriarchy elect an honorary emperor
  3. Push for international recognition on the same level as the Vatican

Refuting the statement that Orthodox Christians do not believe Jesus is God 

At the beginning of this debate, the opposing position framed, in his opinion, what should be the central idea of this topic. That Orthodox Christianity should do what is in its best interests. The opposing position is trying to argue every front in this debate, and not very convincingly. Has he proven Christianity is false? Has he proven the Orthodox interpretation is just a material difference compared to other sects? 

I think he has certainly tried, but fallen short from doing any proving. In an effort to backtrack his own failed line of arguments, the opposing position, in refutation of my biblical argument that Jesus wants love foremost; countered that Orthodox Christians do not believe Jesus is God. This is, to be fair, the most untrue thing said in this debate by the opposing party. Orthodox Christians, and everyone of them, believe Jesus is god. That is what being a Christian is. 

Not that it matters anyways, because we have proven, through biblical evidence, that Jesus does want our love more than our obedience. Jesus is god, and the Orthodoxy, all of them, teach their students to love Jesus. Therefore, there can be no fault in the Orthodox Christian culture. 

Did the opposing position say the Orthodoxy could spread faith better united 

He actually did, and despite the accusation that the connection is laughable, it is an extreme concession on his part. Looking back to the opposing positions central idea, that this debate should be mainly about what best helps the Orthodoxy spread their faith, I see nothing laughable given his later statement in round two, "We do not contest that a united church is more effective at spreading the gospel than a divided one."  There was no trick into getting the opposing position to say this. He confused himself, and refuted his own case with reason. Reason that only exists on our side of the resolution. The affirming side.

God wants our love 

The opposing position continues to spout charged rhetoric about what the Orthodox believe in. The opposing position has shown no credibility in his knowledge on the Orthodoxy. Faith means different things to different people. Have we still not been delivered an official doctrine? Has this request been subtly ignored by the opposing position? I think it has, because the opposing position knows he only holds this debate by convincing you his generalizations of Orthodox Christians are true. No, not all Orthodox Churches make the statement 66 books are not sufficient. Another thing the opposing position decided to blindly make up. If you have listened, and realized the Orthodox Churches span over many organizations, countries, cultures, and peoples; there should be no problem in seeing his gross generalizations are lies.

I'm not going to claim some Orthodox Christians do not believe dedication is equal to love. Nor will I say the latter. 
All Christians are grown from the same tree anyways. The New Testament. The New Testament preaches the same things whether you are a Catholic, Protestant, or Orthodox Christian, and the divine mandate that love is more important than dedication and sacrifice is found within the New Testament. 

Does it hurt either way, to believe both equally in love and dedication? If anything, that is a plus, not a minus. There is no way to go on this resolution than the affirmative. 

Return To Top | Posted:
2014-12-28 04:04:30
| Speak Round
nzlockienzlockie (CON)
Thank you Stag for your latest round. I again apologise to the Judges and my opponent for failing to deliver my promised argument last round, I'll attempt to make up for it in this round. 

Quick points addressing PRO's latest round:
  • The Resolution - I see nothing to be gained by discussing this further. For future reference, I'd urge my opponent to set his definitions in the first round. If he fails to do so, I'm quite within my rights to set them in MY first round. 
    To be clear, the main factors he has dropped by using these definitions of "the Byzantine Empire" are the rigid social and cultural rites and traditions, which typified the original empire, as well as the massive material control of land and wealth which is the very definition of an empire.
    This new version of Byzantine Empire is , in my opinion, so far removed from the original as not to be a revival of it, as the resolution proposes, but to be a completely new iteration of it. I urge the judges to quickly reread his first round and decide if his new proposal meets the spirit of the original resolution. 
  • Jesus is God - I'm sure the judges will spot that my side was never claiming that some Orthodox churches didn't believe the doctrine that Jesus Christ was God. Indeed, I'm happy to see that my opponent concedes that ALL orthodox churches are united in believing in the deity of Christ. My opponent had disputed the fact that ALL of the separate churches could unite on any piece of doctrine and had challenged me to provide examples. I did as he asked and he has just confirmed one of my cited examples.  
    His contention is that the Orthodox Church is so divided doctrinally, that their faith can not be defined and therefore can not be shown to be false. This next bit is important, so I'll bold it. My side AGREES that the orthodox churches are greatly divided on MANY aspects of doctrine, but claims, (and has shown) that they are united in several key aspects. Enough to define them. 
  • A united church is better than a divided church.
    I DID agree that a united church is better at evangelism than a divided one. I did not agree that evangelism was a chief goal of the Orthodox faith. In fact I actively disagree with that sentiment. The Orthodox faith is extremely inward focused. Most churches are extremely exclusive in nature. My opponent is assuming that once all the Orthodox churches resolve their MANY doctrinal differences and agree on one universal one, that THAT doctrine is going to be one which places a high priority on evangelism. 
  • God wants our love - If my opponent is not going to read my arguments, I can't help that. I'm not going to waste my time and the judges' time by repeating them verbatim. Just to pick up though, his statement of "Faith means different things to different people..."; this sentiment is consistent with an INCLUSIVE ideology, one which allows people to hold their own beliefs and make their own path. This goes completely against he resolution he is arguing for, where he is proposing that all the Orthodox Churches unify under a common doctrine. And make no mistake, that IS what he's arguing for, otherwise his statement that a unified church evangelises better than a divided one is not relevant. 
           How can a church be united in spreading God's message if they can't even agree on the books that constitute that message?    

Is a WORKS based Faith Biblical? 
As promised in my first round outline, my second round argued that the Byzantine Empire should not be revived from an Orthodox perspective. The basic premise was that, from a utilitarian standpoint, it was not practical, logical or desirable to undergo the steps that would be required to achieve this goal. 
I also pointed out that creating such an empire would not have achieved the ultimate goal of the Orthodox Faith, and in fact would have made it harder for people to truely find God. Light is easier to find in darkness.
To pick up my next promised argument, I'd like to now argue that reviving the Byzantine Empire would be a bad move because the Orthodox Faith is false. 

My opponent claims he is on the fence as to whether or not the Orthodox Faith is a works based faith. Fortunately the Orthodox churches are not. 
According to them, Salvation is achieved by performing certain rites and ceremonies, or 'sacraments'. 
This makes Orthodox Christianity a WORKS based religon. This simply means that it is not enough to trust that God will save you, one needs to "earn" one's salvation. 
There are many advocates of this doctrine within Christianity - Catholicism for one. Advocates usually point to the New Testament book of James - verses like James 2:14: "What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him?" . 
In his letter, James sounds like he is saying that works are required for salvation. This is not true. When taken in context, it is clear that James is attempting to explain the difference between true Faith and false, or "dead" faith. True Faith is recognised because it has a changing affect on the believer. Their actions will show that their Faith is real. But make no mistake, it is not the works that save them, it is the Faith. This is shown by the verse my opponent quoted from Hosea 6:6: "For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.". The fact that this sentiment is echoed throughout the Old Testament as well as the New Testament assures us that God's saving grace is extended to all who have true Faith - not those who believe that salvation can be earned. 
The problem with branches of Christendom like the Orthodox Faith and the Catholic Faith is that such a high emphasis is placed on works. The motivation behind doing good works becomes weak. I am only performing this ceremony or helping this old lady, because doing so gets me into heaven. This is a salvation which comes from fear, because if I DON't do these things, God won't save me. 
Contrast this with the true doctrine of grace; God has already saved me. Salvation is already mine. Now my good works stem from love. My motivation is one of thankfulness. 
Works-based Religions like Orthodox Christianity spread a gospel of fear, rather than a gospel of grace. 
Reviving the Byzantine Empire will focus more people on earning their way to heaven by following rites and sacraments and make it more difficult for them to see the truth, that they are already saved, if only they would believe and accept the gift of salvation.

It's worth noting that when placing such a high emphasis on man-made rules and traditions is taken to an extreme, you get a system not unlike that of the Pharsees, the religious rulers of Israel, during Jesus' day. They created a long list of rules and ceremonies which were also dedicated to helping people live more holy lives - however it had the opposite affect. This is what Jesus said to them in Matthew 23:13 - "But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people's faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in."
By creating all these rules they had shifted the focus away from God. A personal relationship with God, (remember this is the stated chief goal of the Orthodox Faith!) proved HARDER to achieve under this restrictive system. 

The Orthodox Faith, although it professes to place a high emphasis on the Bible, actually runs counter to the fundamental biblical doctrine of Salvation. Reviving the Byzantine Empire will only serve to exacerbate this. 

I apologise to the Judges for this sudden shift in direction! 
In this round, as per my first round script I will now argue that the Byzantine Empire should not be revived because Christianity is a myth. 
My side's goal in this debate is to prove to you that regardless of where you stand - there is NO good reason to revive the Byzantine Empire. 
On the surface, my attack seems contradictory. But I assure you, it's not. It is comprehensive. 
I have already argued from the perspective of an Orthodox Christian, and explained why reviving the Byzantine Empire would be a counter-productive move. 
I've just argued from the perspective of a Non-Orthodox, bible-believing Faith-based Christian and explained that the whole Orthodox Faith is fundamentally flawed, and therefore reviving the Byzantine Empire to add more weight to this false doctrine would be a mistake.

In this round, I will be arguing from the perspective of the majority of the world's current population, including the majority of those who live in the areas formerly controlled by the first Byzantine Empire. According to our perspective, Christianity is a myth and resurrecting a theocratic empire to support a myth is pointless and even offensive. 

Two Fundamental points of Christianity: 
  • God is ALL POWERFUL - "Ah, Lord God! It is you who have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you." - Jeremiah 32:17
    This verse is one of dozens echoing the same refrain. The Christian God is an Almighty being with LIMITLESS power. 
    The problem is that such a being is impossible. 
    If the Christian God were really all powerful, he could create a rock so heavy that nobody - not even himself, could move it. 
    Along with several other things, this is something he can't do. Either the Bible is a lie, or God is.

  • The Bible is Truth - "Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual." 1 Corinthians 2:12-13
    Christians, including the Orthodox Christians of the Byzantine, believe that the words of the Bible are God breathed and inerrant. This is demonstrably false. I could point to many contradictory passages, such as the conflicting accounts of Judas Iscariot's death, or to several that can be scientifically proven to be false, such as Moses pressing pause ON THE SUN.
    But in a nice twist of irony, why not use the Bible itself to prove that it is false? 

    In 2 Timothy 3:16 we read these words from Paul the Apostle: 
    "All scripture is God-breathed and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.".
    However there are several passages that we KNOW did not come from God. We know this because Paul actually tells us himself!

    "But to the rest speak I, not the Lord: If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away." - 1 Corinthians 7:12
    "Now concerning virgins I have no commandment of the Lord: yet I give my judgment, as one that hath obtained mercy of the Lord to be faithful." - 1 Corinthians 7:25
    "That which I speak, I speak it not after the Lord, but as it were foolishly, in this confidence of boasting." - 2 Corinthians 11:17

    In each of these cases, Paul himself admits that these thoughts are not God's, but his own. That some people would persist in claiming that a book assembled over hundreds of years, by numerous different authors of different nationalities - some of whom are not even know to this day! A book which contains countless factual and logical errors and numerous contradictions - were the inspired infallible work of a perfect being incapable of making mistakes... is laughable.
    To then turn around and propose that we resurrect an empire so that this book can be forced on more people is just ridiculous. 

Exactly what is the good message that Christianity spreads? 
Why is it that we must believe that we need an extra-terrestrial being before we can simply play nicely with one another? 

BBQs are nice. Everyone loves a BBQ. It easy, relaxed, the food tastes good, and there is a minimum of cleanup involved. And if you spill something, which I inevitably do, it's on the ground, and the dog can eat it up and nobody is yelled at. 
I propose that instead of reviving the Byzantine Empire, the church dissolves itself, liquidates it's assets and uses the money to buy everyone a BBQ. 
We should all invite people over and have a great time. 
Mankind should be perfectly capable of living happily with each other, without the need to be directed by an unseen, unprove-able force.  

Christianity, including that branch my opponent would like to see come together, has been founded on two fundamental principles, both of which are, at best, unproven assumptions, and at worst, outright lies. 
Reviving a social, political and religious empire which is founded on these lies is just silly. We may still watch American Idol every season, but we are still smarter than this.

My opponent has still not presented a valid argument for his side, either from an Orthodox perspective, nor from a secular perspective. I have presented arguments against the motion from three different perspectives. Literally, whichever way you look at it, reviving the Byzantine Empire is a bad idea.
I urge you to vote CON. 

Return To Top | Posted:
2015-01-02 13:29:38
| Speak Round
nzlockie: Let me open by quickly addressing my opponent's unanswered questions from the previous CX:
nzlockie: Q1: To my knowledge, the bulk of the Orthodox Churches DO believe that Jesus is an equal part of the Trinity. I've never stated anything to the contrary.
nzlockie: Q2: Yes, I am aware of this. Thus the reason I cited it as a "Shared Doctrine".
nzlockie: q1: You admit that the Orthodox Churches currently hold very different doctrines, even to the point of disagreeing on what constitutes the God-Inspired Bible. In your early rounds you actually stated that there was NO unifying doctrines. You now seem to be arguing that there ARE. Is it fair to say now that Orthodox Churches DO agree on certain points of doctrine?
Stag!: No, because not all Orthodox Christians are alike. I stressed the word minority and majority in my arguments.
nzlockie: So, just so we are very clear for the record, despite you bringing up points of doctrine in regards to Christiology and the inerrancy of Scripture, and despite you arguing that a united church can evangelize better than a divided one... its still your contention that there are NO points of doctrine where all of the orthodox churches agree?
Stag!: Not every Orthodox Church has an official doctrine. I guarantee you there is always one Christian with a differing opinion than the rest.
nzlockie: I think you're confusing"Statement of Faith" with "Doctrine". We've both already mentioned several doctrines that are held by all the churches.
nzlockie: q2: Given that doctrine, (what it believes) defines a church, under the new Byzantine Empire, are you suggesting that churches will have to adopt alternate doctrines in order to be united?
nzlockie: (16hrs later) Given how hard fought the right to hold opposing views on key points of doctrine, such as what literary works are divinely inspired - how likely is it that the separate churches will be able to unite in the way you're proposing?
nzlockie: What incentive does the Greek Orthodox Church have to work with the Russian Orthodox Church?
nzlockie: If it is purely to better evangelise the world, as you've stated, why can they not do that now, as a church that is already united?

Return To Top | Speak Round
nzlockienzlockie (CON)
With no further arguments from my opponent I have nothing new to rebut this round.

In total in this debate, the following arguments from my side of house remain unaddressed:
The Byzantine Empire should not be revived because:
  • The Church will be forced to adapt and compromise -a dilution will serve to divide the church, something my opponent agrees will doom them to failure.
  • The church and state will be joined - Theocracies are bad.
  • The lost are harder to spot. Since my opponent claims evangelism is the major goal of the Orthodox Christian, this seems like a negative. 
  • It's impossible - Insurmountable Logistical issues
  • The Orthodox Faith is works based and therefore contrary to the Bible. Building a demonstrably false faith is a waste of time and resource.
  • Christianity is fundamentally flawed as a religion. Promoting it is a waste of time and resource.
  • Mankind does not need religion to tell him how to be nice. BBQs rule.

My opponent on the other hand has spent a lot of time arguing AROUND this resolution. There are fire but not a lot of substance in their argument.

The only argument he's made has been from the Orthodox Christian's perspective, and even THAT perspective is flawed. 
Perhaps most worryingly, his assertion is that a unified church achieves the Orthodox Church's goals more efficiently. He then spends much of the debate contesting any sort of unifying doctrine held by these churches. It's an interesting strategy to be sure. If, as he attests,  the churches can't agree on basic points of doctrine, including the version of holy text they consider to be divinely inspired, how can they possibly hope to achieve the resolution's goal of a Byzantine revival?
It was our contention that if the Orthodox Churches' highest priority was, as stated, the evangelism of the lost - surely they could do this most ably in their current state. Divided from each other, but united within themselves.  

Now, my side has argued convincingly, that there ARE several unifying doctrines, ones which define the faith - although we don't contest that these churches currently fail to meet the definition of "Unified" in any way that would aid the stated goal of evangelism. This line of argument needed to be made because it was our contention that the primary goal of Orthodox Christianity was NOT outward, as supposed by my opponent, but rather the inward goal of a personal life of communion with God, as stated by one of the founding fathers of the faith, St Theophan. 
The personal life described, is one focussed on ever increasing holiness - an ideology which defines all subsets of Orthodox Christianity as a WORKS BASED faith. It was shown in our third round that a Works based faith is NOT biblical. This is especially ironic, given the high esteem in which the Orthodox Church claims to hold the Bible.

The argument for a revived Byzantine Empire was fractured and weak. Appealing with rose-coloured glasses to a previous age of glory and supposing that this kind of powerful unification could be achieved again by a religious denomination. It was shown by my side that this empire would not work from any perspective, was not desirable from any perspective and should not be revived. 

I urge the Judges to cast a CON ballot.  

Return To Top | Posted:
2015-01-18 06:18:00
| Speak Round
nzlockie: With all argumentitive rounds completed and only reply speeches to go, my case is concluded. I have no CX Questions.

Return To Top | Speak Round
nzlockienzlockie (CON)
Judges, this debate was a simple question of whether Orthodox Christians should work to revive the Byzantine Empire.

The early rounds were, unfortunately marred by a lot of discussion over the exact definitions. The most relevant bone of contention was the question of what defines the Orthodox Christian. It is my belief, (and that of several independent sources, including several orthodox churches themselves) that an Orthodox Christian can be defined by their doctrine. My opponent disagrees and stated that the separate churches which make up "Orthodox" Christianity are so divided in points of doctrine that they actually fail to share single element that defines them from the rest of Christendom.
In an effort to engage him, I've questioned how a church so fractured that they can't even agree on which version of the Bible to use, can possibly be more efficient at evangelism together than they can be individually. Since my opponent contends that Evangelism is the primary goal of the Orthodox Christian, this proves to be a sticky point for him.
Internally, the churches are unified and should be very effective at reaching their people. Combine them and, if they are as divided as my opponent contends, there will be many, MANY doctrinal issues which will need to be resolved before they are even close to pulling in the same direction. All to reach the same people. Easier just to leave them be. 

One of my side's special obstacles in this debate was PRO's failure to post definitions in his first round and then his continued dispute over our, cited, definitions in the subsequent rounds. 
I could not find any evidence to support his claim that the primary goal of the Orthodox Church was evangelism. All the evidence I found pointed to the primary goal being inward. An Orthodox Christian striving to live a more holy life to be closer to his God. 
Despite my opponent's continued insistence their extreme diversity, I found numerous reputable sites grouping Orthodox Christians together and defining them as holding several unifying points of doctrine - most importantly, the fact that they all believe in a works-based salvation. 
We even disagreed on the exact nature of the Byzantine Empire that the resolution talked about - both the scope of the historical one and the nature of the theoretical resurrected one. In the end I saw no point even trying to contest this as he was never able to place a solid definition around it, short of telling us what it WASN'T. 

Anticipating this, I decided to approach this debate with a scatter gun. In my rounds I showed that reviving the Byzantine Empire was a bad idea ANY WAY YOU LOOKED AT IT. 
No matter where you sit, whether you are an Orthodox Christian or not, or even if you are an Atheist - reviving the Byzantine Empire is a bad idea. 
I remind the judges that ALL of my points to this effect remain un-refuted. 

They are listed here:
The Byzantine Empire should not be revived because:
  • The Church will be forced to adapt and compromise -a dilution will serve to divide the church, something my opponent agrees will doom them to failure.
  • The church and state will be joined - Theocracies are bad.
  • The lost are harder to spot. Since my opponent claims evangelism is the major goal of the Orthodox Christian, this seems like a negative.
  • It's impossible - Insurmountable Logistical issues
  • The Orthodox Faith is works based and therefore contrary to the Bible. Building a demonstrably false faith is a waste of time and resource.
  • Christianity is fundamentally flawed as a religion. Promoting it is a waste of time and resource.
  • Mankind does not need religion to tell him how to be nice. BBQs rule.
From literally every perspective, reviving the Byzantine Empire is a bad idea. 

I thank my opponent for the lengthy debate on this subject. I thank the judges for their attention and deliberation. I won't take up any more of your time except to urge you to vote CON. It puts hair on your chest. 

Magnum PI voted CON. Don't you want to be like Magnum PI?

Return To Top | Posted:
2015-01-25 08:39:13
| Speak Round
BlackflagBlackflag (PRO)
I also thank NZLockie for this debate. I already summarized my case in the last round, so cheers! 
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2015-02-01 07:44:40
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It is a shame this debate ended without a reasonable judgement.
Posted 2015-02-15 10:01:41
How do I keep letting these sneak up on me?
Posted 2015-01-11 16:11:50
Really liking how this debate is going. You should add more pictures NZlockie.
It really adds the fun element into the reading :D
Posted 2014-11-26 14:10:27
Probably not, but my case may have a lot of words. I'm not sure how much substance I can flesh out over 5 rounds.
The majority of my arguments usually come after cross examination.
Posted 2014-11-16 13:21:31
uh oh, did I just get suckered into a word fest?
Posted 2014-11-16 12:29:00
I guess I should finally get around to finishing this podcast series for the debate.
Posted 2014-11-16 12:15:20
I guess I should finally get around to finishing this podcast series for the debate.
Posted 2014-11-16 12:14:42
It looks like I can finally do that epic debate, woot!
Posted 2014-11-16 12:00:40
The judging period on this debate is over

Previous Judgments

2015-02-01 10:10:02
gree0232Judge: gree0232
Win awarded to: nzlockie
Stag is obviously an Orthodox Christian, and that may very well have influenced his oversight of some of the issues here. that the church is scattered and has many doctrinal issues between it is a given, how recreated the Byzantine Empire (itself now mostly Islamic) is not really addressed. In fact, Stag's discussion of the schism appears to state that schism itself was caused by the Pope doing exactly what he states is the solution - put one 'church' in charge and issues edicts that ends the doctrinal discord. If that is what caused the schism, then its highly unlikely that the such actions will heal the church today. As the Byzantine Empire has been wiped form the modern maps, who exactly would bear the mantel now? Russia? And we must bear in mind that one of the reasons that the Orthodoxy spread was that it was an instrument that could be subordinated to the states, that is why the West has the Roman Catholic Church for much of its history, and the East has the various state sponsored Orthodox Christian churches. The matters of doctrine are not just ecclesiastical, they are nationalistic. Can you imagine the shock of demanding the Serbian or Romanian Church begin to follow the orthodoxy of the Russian Church? You think the greek orthodox church would willingly follow the Russians? Or the Macedonians? Unlikely.

What NZLOCKIE gets right is a focus on practicality. Redeclaring the Byzantine Empire will not heal much of anything. Geographically declaring a fountain of power does not make it so, anymore than ISIL's declaration of of a Caliphate has magically unified the Islamic world. There is also the reality of the Byzantine Empire, which includes a legal code and tradition that is well ... Byzantine. The support of that empire for the church was lost centuries ago, and the various churches now are subordinated in many cases to the cause of the Nation they are attached to. They maintain and support those linguistic and cultural differences in many cases. The solution to doctrinal schism is not geography, its consensus, and that is a very difficult thing to come by. Its a matter of missionaries and centuries. It took centuries to break up the Christian Churches into their current state, and it will take many more centuries of painstaking work to knit it back together.

But the toughest part is the beginning - which branch of Orthodoxy is the 'correct one' and must initiate the rebirth of Byzantine? Good Luck.

Again quick report.

Stag - very knowledgeable of Orthodoxy and the issues facing it - doesn't really address how recreating the Byzantine empire rather than just rolling up the churches under one roof (who that is who either creates Byzantine or become the center is left unaddressed entirely). Its a well defined problem with a solution that won't work.

NZLOCKIE - Correctly states that simply recreating the Byzantine Empire will not resolve the schism. If the various sects cannot put themselves under one roof now, attempting to force it upon them will only make it worse.
1 user rated this judgement as a vote bomb
1 user rated this judgement as biased
2 users rated this judgement as good
2 comments on this judgement
Good judgement, but a word of quick advice, try not to mix personal feelings into a debate judgement. Things like ISIL and your thoughts on choosing one branch were not mentioned in the debate.

BTW, I'm not an Orthodox Christian. I am a Lutheran, but this is the kind of hardline position I like to take.
Posted 2015-11-03 14:14:56
gree0232 I appreciate the time you've taken to post a judgement on this debate. I've awarded you a "good" rating and I'd like to explain why.
On this site, we are trying hard to treat debates as if they were in actual competition. This means that as a judge, you can't allow yourself to judge the resolution itself - you can only judge how well either side has argued for it.

In this judgement, you appear to have used a lot of your own reasoning and opinion, only occasionally referencing points that either debater has made. This MAY be just a misintepretation of your words, as they are all I have to go on - but if I'm right, then this is exactly the kind of judgement we are trying to avoid here.

Ultimately nobody actually cares what the TRUTH of this resolution is, what matters is how well either side argued for or against it.
It was my opinion that, based on your words here, you've based your judgement largely on your own opinion, rather than the facts as they have been presented to you by the debaters. Because several of the points you brought up were also brought up in round, I've rated it "Good" rather than "Biased", but it was a close thing.

Hope this makes sense!
Thanks again for voting though!
Posted 2015-08-25 21:59:37
2015-02-01 20:46:51
ZeusYodaJudge: ZeusYoda
Win awarded to: nzlockie
I am clueless on the subject of debate..read as much as I could but still could not understand most of the technicalties.. I voted for CON only coz of the final picture of Magnum PI.. hehehe still laughing even now :D
"Puts hair on your chest" hehehe..

Not much helpful feedback. Just that both debaters whr epic and keep it up.. I want to take on one of few next :)
3 users rated this judgement as a vote bomb
3 comments on this judgement
Oh dear. Again, thanks for taking the time to vote but by your own admission you haven't even read, much less processed both sides of this debate.

With all due respect, in the future it would be better to simply not vote than to cast a vote on a debate you haven't read.
Posted 2015-08-25 21:59:37
PS, I'm sure either of us would be happy to take you on next!
Posted 2015-08-25 21:59:37
NZlockie, this is the danger of treating judgements like votes,
Posted 2015-11-03 14:14:56

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