Tuesday, January 29, 2013

If we dare

A deviation in Christian Orthodoxy rears its head from time to time, a spirit foreign to the Spirit of God, the seed of such tares as are planted by the evil one, clad in the husks of false piety. Metropolitan Athanasios of Limassol speaks about it. So do other saints of God from the first holy Apostles until now, even using such unworthy people as I, sharing in the humiliation and rejection of Christ.

Usually what I say or write is, thankfully, ignored by these zealots. I suppose one isn't bothered too much by mosquitos if one has thick skin. A few days ago an anonymous comment was left on my blog at a post about Fr Seraphim Rose in which the author castigated me for departing from the Orthodox faith because I do not accept the toll-house myth.

He or she writes, ‘You write: “I do not promote Fr Seraphim Rose because he represents a very rigorous form of Orthodoxy that is also committed to excessive speculation...” You are unclear as to whether you oppose his “rigorous form of Orthodoxy” or his theological speculations. If it is his theological speculations on the “tollhouses” you reject, do you also reject all the canonized saints who wrote about them? If, on the other hand, it is his “rigorous form of Orthodoxy” you oppose, then perhaps you should become a Roman Catholic. They disposed of all such “rigors” and in so doing became just another irrelevant Protestant denomination. Orthodoxy is rigorous. Orthodoxy is extreme. Just like its Founder. Orthodoxy is Christianity Without Compromise.’

So, once again I have been put in my place, I have been invited to leave Holy Church and become a heretic, a Roman Catholic or whatever. Yes, Orthodoxy is Christianity without compromise, but Christianity is first and foremost, and maybe only, to follow Jesus Christ, not only to obtain from Him mercy and the undeserved gift of eternal life, but to do what we see Him doing, speak what He speaks, love whom and how He loves.

Let the zealous barricade themselves in their religious fastnesses behind clouds of incense smoke and frightening, childish myths. As for me, as holy prophet Joshua says, I will serve the Lord. And in serving Him, I accept whomever, and whatever, the Lord sends. That is, for me, Christianity without compromise. Once again, I want to remind myself of these things…
It’s a funny thing, but in the last few years it has become clearer than ever to me that the doctrinal issues really don’t matter at all. It doesn’t even really matter what we believe about the nature of Christ. What matters is that we believe He is the Savior of the world, and that He is the Truth, the Way and the Life. How can a man be the Truth? I don’t know, but He is. Before you decide to stone me, try to hear what it is I am saying, and not jump to conclusions.

That the Truth is a Man, and not a doctrine, fits in so well with God’s very nature.

Notice, in the Old Testament there is no doctrine at all except, ‘I am the Lord your God. You shall have no other gods but Me.’ Nothing else. How simple! And look what happened. The rabbis turned that into a vast theological system.

And into that system comes a man who is Who He is, who does not argue, who does not teach doctrine. Do you ever hear Jesus teaching doctrine? or religion? No, He just speaks the Truth, and that Truth is Himself, that He is sent by the Father to do His will, and to speak what the Father tells Him to speak. Nothing else.

And look what the fathers have done to that. We have had councils and even wars over questions that not Christ, not the apostles, were ever concerned about. We have disputes over the oneness of God, and about the Trinity not being written up in the bible. Of course it’s not written up! It doesn’t have to be!

That the Divine Nature is a triad is not a doctrine to be believed
what good does it do if we believe it, what evil if we don’t?
It is a reality to be lived, to be lived, really and truly, the pattern of all being: three are one, not two, not one, but three.
It’s just how things are.

Jesus came to demonstrate that and to invite us to join in that threesome by sending us the Holy Spirit who incorporates us into the Body of God, making us ‘one of the Family.’ It is so awesome!
How petty we are to nitpick each other and tear each other’s flesh over trifles!

I have no problem with Orthodoxy and with its Christological dogma, because I really believe it is an expression in human thinking of the livable reality that I have just been describing, otherwise I would not be an Orthodox Christian.

And even though the Orthodox Church is responsible for a lot of the turmoil in the early Church, defining what’s what and who’s who, and even though it has canons and rules and jurisdictions and squabbles enough to tear the heads off many chickens, the Orthodox life is really quite simple, just as simple as the life of any Christian of any denomination or lack of one.

As simple as the life of any lover and disciple of Jesus.
I know, because I have met them there, as everywhere,
and I hope I am one of them.

I have declared many times, not to contradict, but simply to state a fact about myself: I am not an ecumenist. Ecumenism is for those who think the Church is divided and so they take pains to reunite it. But if we know it as one, we just live in that knowledge.

That is, if we dare.

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