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The Spiritual Consequences of Schism

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  • Mike Wingert
    Dearest Syriac Orthodox brothers and sisters in Christ: Greetings from a weak and sinful servant. It is time for a great reality check. Let me first begin with
    Message 1 of 1502 , May 27, 2004
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      Dearest Syriac Orthodox brothers and sisters in Christ: Greetings
      from a weak and sinful servant.

      It is time for a great reality check. Let me first begin with the
      Syriac Orthodox Church, the oldest Church in Christendom. We often
      focus on the positive events in the history of the Church, as well we
      should, but for today's discussion, we will take a different route,
      observing the negatives. We are far from perfect. Organizationally
      we are lacking. We have many who frequent the Church for reasons
      antithetical to Christianity (i.e., those who treat Church as a
      fashion show, those who show off their cars, come to socialize,
      etc.). In many cases, we have clergymen who lack true Christian
      hearts. Yes, all these issues exist within the Church (and among all
      canonical branches of the One Holy Qatholic and Apostolic Church) and
      have since the early days.

      Now how shall we combat these problems in the Church? Let us consider
      some possibilities:
      a) Abandon the Church – by abandoning the Church, one says, "You are
      incapable of rule, let me rule."
      b) Remain within the Church and heal things from within.

      Let us first consider option A. Option A has historically been
      practiced in two major ways: Those overtly destroying TreesaythShubHo
      (Orthodox) theology, and those who subversively destroy it. In both
      cases, the Church is abandoned for self-rule. This behavior is what
      Mor Ivanios (St. John Chrysostom) comments on saying: "The desire to
      rule is the mother of all heresies." Is this not in the same vain
      that Satan challenged the Lord, saying "But you said in your
      heart, 'I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the
      stars of God, And I will sit on the mount of assembly In the recesses
      of the north." (Isaiah 14:13) Surely, many Mar Thomites, CSIs,
      Pentacostals and other such groups which have broken away from the
      Christian Church are good people with wonderful hearts; I know they
      are, I have met many and love them dearly. Each of these groups has
      stripped one or more facets of the Christian faith away when creating
      their denominations. Similarly, we come to the Metran Kakshi (IOC)
      who have abandoned the Church. Their deviations from Orthodox
      Christianity are more subtle, but they nevertheless have abandoned
      the Church. Is the decision to abandon the Church, in any of these
      situations, the correct and holy decision?

      Considering option B, remaining with the Church, we find a radically
      different history. We find those such a St. Theodora, the believing
      Queen, who could have easily capitulated to her husband Emperor
      Justinian of Constantinople and joined the Chalcedonian schism.
      Contrarily, St. Theodora stood firm in the Orthodox Christian faith,
      not abandoning it. She supported saints Anthimus of Constantinople,
      Theodesius of Alexandia, and Severius of Antioch. She even organized
      the ordination of Mar Yakob Bardo'ono, whose inspiration and refusal
      to abandon the Church inspired a generation of Christians so much,
      that the enemies of the Church labeled us Jacobites for his ceaseless
      efforts. What would have happened had deacons Itty and Kurien
      abandoned the Church? Would we have the fathers of Koonen Kurishu
      Sathyam to remember today? There are many other examples of dedicated
      men and women staying with the Church over the ages, yet these are
      popular accounts most of us are familiar with. Is the decision to
      remain steadfast in the Church, in any of these situations, the
      correct and holy decision?

      Clearly, option B is the righteous decision. For all of us Syriac
      Orthodox, remember that being part of the Church is not just an
      honor, it is a duty. We must always strive our hardest to make it
      the best it can be. We should be humble, meek, and gentle, like our
      Lord.

      For all of those who have abandoned the Church, particularly the
      Metran Kakshi, please take some time to look into the mirror and
      consider the ramifications of your actions. For the clergy of those
      who have abandoned the Church, you are leading people away from the
      sacraments. You may respond, "I can make my own sacraments." Can
      you? Are sacraments something that we can just invent when we want,
      or are they instituted by Christ and handed down through His
      apostles? If you are a clergyman in the Metran Kakshi, you really
      need to consider the spiritual implications of your actions. What
      people learn from you is that it is okay to yearn for power and that
      it is okay to say "I can rule," when ultimately this is the same
      thesis that Satan himself cried out when he challenged the Lord. You
      have a responsibility as a Christian to remain with the Church. When
      hundreds of thousands of Syriac Orthodox were martyred early this
      century, you should have been supporting them rather than trying to
      sever ties. Yes, I have heard every argument from your group, and
      none are presently valid.

      If you are a laymen among the Metran Kakshi, consider your purpose
      and your leaders. As a Christian, you have a responsibility not to
      abandon the Church. You also should be aware of the money you tithe—
      a great deal of it is used to fund secular court battles over
      properties that will remain with this earth when we die, unlike our
      souls. With such time and effort focused on strife within the Church
      (and now between the Church and an outside party), you have
      encouraged simple men and women to abandon the faith and join up with
      Protestant sects or something entirely different.

      I really pray that many among the Metran Kakshi will humble
      themselves and see the responsibility ahead of them. I pray that God
      inspires the hearts of many to join the Church and lead a true
      witness of Christ with us instead of against us. This does not mean
      we have perfect leaders or people in the Church. But whether a
      leader is strong or inept, it matters not. What matters is your
      personal walk with Christ that only you and He know. Work hard to
      make the Church strong—do not abandon her.

      Both returning to the Church and staying with the Church during
      difficult times requires a great deal of humility. And in the end,
      this is the crux of my discussion today, so I will wrap up what would
      otherwise be a lengthy article. By abandoning the Church and giving
      power to the self, we are partaking in the same mind of Satan, who is
      best personified by pride. By returning to the Church or staying
      with her during difficult times, one humbles him/herself, taking up
      the role of servant rather than master. This is the same mind as
      Christ, who being the Highest took the form of a servant.
      (Philippians 2:5-7) "...whoever receives me receives him who sent
      me; for he who is least among you all is the one who is great."
      (Luke 9:48b)

      I don't care what nationality the Patriarch is. I just pray that
      whomever he is, he'll be holy. Before I could ever worry about
      abandoning the Church, I must consider myself and my own sins and the
      thousands of uphill miles I must trek to overcome them. But, I take
      solace in the fact that I'm part of the Church that began in 33AD in
      the Upper Room, (and not in the 20th century or any other century or
      has to define its existence on reforming) and that Christ's promise
      remains firm: that the powers of death will not prevail against
      her. (Matthew 16:18)

      Do consider the core issues at hand. Schism destroys humility and
      uplifts pride. True Christians must never teach or incite pride, but
      always encourage being gentle and lowly at heart.

      Pray for me, a weak and sinful believer.

      Mike Wingert
      St. Mary's Simhasana Syriac Orthodox Church
      Santa Fe Springs, CA
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      Dear members We have created a database section in our forum. We would like to update our list of parishes. We request our members to go to the data section
      Message 1502 of 1502 , Oct 1, 2004
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        Dear members
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