Sergey Fudel says in his book Light in the Darkness that it is not being unfaithful or disloyal to Orthodoxy to acknowledge and accept that an ancient Russian ikon of the Theotokos with Christ is not one painted by Luke the Evangelist, even though the Church believes it is.
But he does admit that when one goes in search of such anomalies or factual untruths, especially on things that don’t really matter, that this is acting and being against the Church.
Why is this?
Aren’t we bound by the word of Jesus to root out any untruth wherever we find it?
Well, yes, if it stares us in the face, yes, if it destroys souls, yes, if it reduces the house of God into a marketplace, yes, if it shuts up the kingdom of God in men’s faces. But no, if it assumes the priority in our lives, to be followed at all costs. Nothing and no one is to be followed at all costs, nothing and no one except Jesus.
This is where speculation rears it ugly head, ‘What would Jesus have done?’ turning into the monster ‘What Jesus commands us to do.’ This is the forbidden and unlawful fire that burned Nadab and Abihu the sons of Aaron, that kindled the furnace of the Inquisition, that lit the torch of sectarian hate during the Wars of Religion.
It is impossible that some things that the Church believes can have in fact happened the way they are handed down to us, yet believing them does not kill us, in this life or the other. What does kill us, here and in the world to come, is hatred of our brother disguised as the pursuit of truth.
The angle of the Throne which is the preserve of Orthodoxy is to live and let live in Christ, seeking not oneself but the other, as the hymn describes of Jesus, ‘By words, and signs, and actions, thus… Still seeking not Himself, but us’ (Hymn, O Love, How Deep, How Broad, How High).
We know when people worship the Church wrongly, because they act like the prostitute who overlaid her newborn child and would rather cut in half the living newborn of her sister harlot than let her keep what was hers, since she could not have all for herself. The wise Solomon, in agreement with the Spirit, revealed whose was the child, and in a similar manner, we know whose is Jesus Christ. ‘Is Christ divided?’ challenges the apostle Paul (1 Corinthian 1:13).
We also know when people worship the Bible wrongly, because they use it as a weapon of real war, not a weapon of peace, for which it was revealed. No, not human peace, not the false peace and false agreement of the wicked, but the ‘peace on earth and good will towards men’ that the angels of Christ’s man-coming prophesy.
‘What, then, are you going to do with this Jew?’ asked the priest martyr of the Nazi officer, pointing to the cross he was wearing.