Saturday, April 19, 2008

Authority, Part III

As we have seen, authority in the Orthodox Church is (1) internal rather than external and (2) not imposed upon us. It is internal because it comes from the Holy Spirit who makes His home in the Church and deep within each Christian. It is not imposed because it wells up from inside us, where the Holy Spirit lives. Therefore, although the Holy Spirit is the Authority, not ourselves, nevertheless, it feels to us as if it came from ourselves, from our own hearts, as indeed, in a sense, it does, given that our hearts are no longer separate from Christ’s.

It is precisely because this Authority is not imposed upon us from without that it is the strongest and surest authority there could possibly be. Because it appears to us as the conviction of our own heart (and is), we do not question it, much less debate it, the way people debate an external authority such as the Bible or the pope. Because it springs up from the depths of our being where the Holy Spirit is, we cannot rebel against it without rebelling against our own selves. (That doesn’t stop us from trying, but at least we do recognize that when we sin, we are tearing our very selves apart!) And because this authority is not imposed upon us, we have it in total freedom.

External authorities, if you will pardon the tautology, cannot rule this way, from the inside of our own hearts. Therefore, those who promote such authorities as the pope or the Bible or any other external thing, rely upon fear and guilt to enforce their authority. Hence, they develop systems of rules and threats, of edicts and "church courts", in short, juridical systems. (That is where the juridical distortions all come from, at root.)

But the Holy Spirit in the Church, ruling sweetly and directly and from within, is the perfection of Authority. He is Authority as it should be, and in truth is.



JTKlopcic said...

Thanks you, Anastasia, for yet another beautiful post!

Having recently come out of a history with an oftentimes hurtful misunderstanding of Authority, it is almost like a healing balm to read these words of yours. There are many who need to hear this message.

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

And thank YOU, for the encouragement. I'm so sorry you've had some bruising experience with "misunderstanding of Authority."

But isn't it wondrous, that there IS a place where it is all as it should be, all as we would have dreamed, if we had dared!!! Where all these things are healed. Where so many things that used to be tough issues just aren't.

Glory to God!

JTKlopcic said...

It is wondrous -- in some ways, it seems almost too good to be true, as my dear wife alluded to in her latest post. We have a lot to learn in Orthodoxy, and learning trust in lieu of suspicion is one of those things. I want to believe. Lord, have mercy.

Glory to God!