Sunday, February 1, 2009

Not Completely Unrelated

To my previous post ...

Here's a worth-reading comment from a Q & A-type forum, Orthodox Christianity's LiveJournal. I lift it here out of context (the context being answering questions about certain Orthodox traditions that the "asker" did not understand - and perhaps did not really want to understand.) It is worth noting that further into the discussion, he discourages the"asker" from seeking spiritual counsel and guidance on the internet...which is, of course, the wisest spiritual advice any priest could offer.

"This may be hard to hear for some, but I think it's worth saying: When searching for truth, it is not we who are the measure of what is true. That is, what I think, what I feel, what I perceive, what I believe, what I desire—these are not proper criteria for determining the truth. The reason for this is that human beings are so very capable of self-delusion. This is not something we want to hear, especially in this age and culture which has taught us that everything we encounter should be judged not by timeless and universal principles, but rather by what we ourselves prefer and perceive. We never stop to think that perhaps our preferences and perceptions may be sorely mistaken.

The Orthodox Church will not "reform" any of its dogma or moral teachings, because they are based on timeless, universal revelation from God, not on social constructions and human design. As such, becoming Orthodox means submitting to Christ in His Church, not sifting the Church for elements we like and don't like. Often, someone who encounters the Church will find things that call to them and draw them in, but perhaps may not wish to submit to certain moral teachings or dogma. But the truth is that all of it is a whole—Orthodoxy is not a movement, a set of teachings, a philosophy, an institution or ideology, subject to the whims of history and human corruption. The Orthodox Church is the Body of Christ, a divine-human organism of which He is the Head and first member. Our response to Him should be one of embrace, obedience and humility, which includes being willing to change our actions, beliefs, preferences, desires and perceptions.

Life in the Church is for the purpose of transforming human beings into what they should be, not what they want to be. In short: it's about Him changing us in the Church, not about our determining what we like about Him or His Church. If there's something in Orthodoxy I don't like or don't want to accept, it is I who need to be changed. That's really of the essence of the Gospel. Without humility, we cannot be saved. If we don't want to be saved and prefer to keep our own desires, well, Christ will not force salvation on us. It's each of our choice."

The writer of these comments is an Orthodox priest in Charleston WV who uses the online handle, Skeuphylakion. Seems he prefers to be otherwise anonymous. His blog is open to invited readers only, which he describes pretty clearly as folks he already knows. Too bad - I'd like to read more of what he has to say.


DebD said...

Good words but hard to hear sometimes. I guess this priest isn't the same priest who hosts "Christ in the Mountains" podcasts and blog. He also lives in WV

-C said...

They are hard words, but so important, I think.

DebD said...

I agree. The longer I'm in Orthodoxy the more I see as fruitless the *engaging* of those from other traditions. Fr. Stephen has an new entry that made me think of this one here, so I came back to see if it had generated any discussion.

-C said...

Theological debate is really sort of a lose/lose thing, at least for me. I have lost my desire to even go there. (I'm not sure I ever had it,really).

I saw Fr. Stephen's last post - which was wonderful. It was his initial post on the wrath of God and all of the comments that followed that prompted my own notes on theological debate.