Friday, November 9, 2007

Big and Little "O/o"

Fr. John Parker at Ascent has a fine post today on "Orthodoxy and orthoxies." The whole article is a good read and was helpful for me as I struggle to understand the nature of division in the church.

Particularly helpful for me was this portion:

"Though not always, the heterodox and heretical views of Christianity often start with questions about me or my rights. For Christians, to start with the individual is a dangerous endeavor. “What will make me happy?” “What is my right as a human being?” “If I am like this, what must God be like?” “Why don’t you believe what I believe?”

Orthodox Christianity, on the other hand, takes God’s self-revelation in Jesus Christ, holds tightly onto it, and seeks to live it in every possible scenario, public and private. It begins something like this: “If God is whom he has revealed himself to be, what will make me genuinely me?” “If God is whom he has shown himself to be when he took on flesh in the person of Jesus Christ, what is my responsibility as a human being?”

Heterodox Christianity and heretical views often take our present (read ‘fallen’) human existence as “the way we were created” and start there. Orthodox Christianity understands that God became man not only to conquer sin and death, but to show us what it truly means to be human. We understand that how we were born and how we are now are *not* necessarily what or who we were created to be.

Orthodox Christianity stands, as the Church, already united in fullness of faith and shared belief. Receiving communion within the Orthodox Church is, in addition to its essential meanings, the outward sign of commonly holding these ancient beliefs about Jesus Christ and sharing a fullness of the faith. Within Orthodox Christianity, community is truly our common unity, and communion is our common union."


Now I admit that I don't really care much for the words "heretic" and "heterodox" (I suppose it's because when I was still a Protestant I found them so off-putting that I rarely took the time to read or hear the words which came after them), but I think Fr. John makes some very valid points about the divisions in the church, and this post helped me to understand why, though such division is ultimately sad and tragic, it is important and necessary.

Lord, have mercy.

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