Friday, February 6, 2009

The Path to Unity

The Orthodox way of doing things is to submit to one another in the fear of God. (Eph. 5:21). Or, again, "All of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble." (I Peter 5:5) An Orthodox Christian does not assume he can know anything by his own effort alone, or is competent to interpret the Scriptures by himself or worthy to judge anything. He consults his brothers and sisters, especially those in whom the Life of Christ is most manifest, the saints, including (via their writings) those who have gone to their rest.

If an Orthodox Christian has trouble accepting anything, he assumes not that the teaching, but that his sin-clouded reason is at fault. He keeps searching for enlightenment. He knows from experience that God will show him the answer in due course, and the answer will satisfy his whole being, spirit, soul, mind and heart. He knows the answer will bring peace, release, joy, and an infusion of new life. He knows he will come to understand where he had gone wrong, and why. He keeps praying, reading the Scriptures and other writings, and keeps asking those who are holier than himself until this happens.

If he hears God speaking to him in his heart during prayer, he does not assume it is God. He considers that he is unworthy to receive direct revelation from God. Therefore, the "revelation" is more likely to be from the Satan, who can masquerade as an angel of light. Even if it came from God, the Orthodox Christian considers it likely he may have misinterpreted it in his sin-scarred mind. Thus, instead of saying, "Jesus told me…", he runs to his spiritual father, confesses what has happened, and seeks guidance.

In such ways as these, we seek and find consensus not only with our brothers and sisters on earth, but with our departed predecessors in the Faith. This path, the path of humble submission each to the other, has worked for us for two millennia.


Mike Baker said...

I whole-heartedly agree!

If only more Christians would take these words to heart... and apply them.

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

Stay tuned, Mike, for a post discussing how they cannot.

Mike Baker said...

... but if I had applied this way of thinking when I was an anabaptist, I would have submitted to their error in spite of what Scripture says. After all, they are my church authority and I should surrender my conscience to them, right?

But they are wrong! They are wrong about the sacraments and a whole host of other things. When you find yourself in a church filled with obvious error, you can't just go whistle by the grave yard. You have to stand on principle... and that hurts more than you can imagine.

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

That's right; it just doesn't work outside of an Orthodox context.

I'm so sorry you have had to bear that hurt. I'm a conver, too, so I know some of the hurt you're talking about. But I never was an anabaptist, so no, I probably can't imagine what it's like having to break with them, who I think they have extremely close ties and quite strict discipline; am I right?

Monica said...

This is so true! And such a blessing!

Darlene said...

Beautiful, simply beautiful, Anastasia.