JOINING THE CHURCH FOR THE WRONG REASONS
- Dear Moderators
Let me share what I read today in one of the Christian forum.
Isaac K Joseph
Mar Thoman Church
Member ID - 0917
I know that we have it right as Orthodox Christians, and I want everyone to come to Orthodoxy. However, I think that coming to Orthodoxy because you are fed up with the shenanigans of your particular Church is very, very wrong. If you followed the actions at the Antiochian Church in Ben Lomond you'll understand what I am talking about.
I have seen Protestants particularly come into the Orthodox Church dragging steamer trunks of incorrect thinking and attempting to overlay that methodology on an already complete Dogma. Why does this happen? It is because many outside the Church see us as the last stand of conservatism against the "women priests", "homosexual marriage", etc. Yes, we are against these ideas, but there is a whole basket full of concepts far more important that raging social issues of the time.
Orthodoxy s not just a list of laws and regulations. Orthodoxy isn't "conservative", it is "traditional". We don't bash people with the Pedalion, as Protestants Bible bash. For that matter, the Pedalion wasn't written for lay folk, and its not a guide for the average, everyday Orthodox Christian. Yet. I have seen Pedalion Bashing on many lists, and always by converts. That's because they see the Pedalion as a Rule Book, like the RC Code of Canon Law, which it is not.
I said that Orthodoxy was more than a rigid list of laws and regulations because it is a way of thinking and a way of living much like the Japanese concept of "Do", or "Way". The worst Pharisees
seem to come from amongst the convert crowd. My wife is a convert(former Protestant) and had a lot of difficulty with the lack of hard definitions. I remember her reading a book about "Toll Houses"
written by a famous Orthodox author and telling me it was "doctrine" because Fr. "So and So" wrote it. When I tried to explain that such ideas were "theological speculation" she didn't really understand. We discussed how Orthodox Concepts were held captive by a western mindset. She had a hard time with the Orthodox concept of sin NOT being a failure, but rather a "missing the mark". I know that cradle Orthodox often know less about the Truths of their Faith, than do converts, but they have more of an Orthodox Spirit than those carrying a lot of Western Baggage.
In discussions with my Priest, I have often expressed the idea that a very long catechumenate would be a good idea. It's the only way to be sure that non-Orthodox interpretations are going to be used by those coming into our Faith. He agrees, and in our parish it is not uncommon to see a year catechumenate with some going 18 months.
It is difficult to grow up with one way of thinking and expect that in a few months, we can change those old patterns, because we can't. I grew up in the Faith, (GOA) but the Church that my Yiayia taught me about was different than the reality of the Church as I learned later. It was the overlay of her "superstitions" that clouded the issues. I have seen whole parishes made up of convert laity and convert clergy where there is an unhealthy mix of Orthodox Thought and Protestant, Ben Lomond is the classic example.
It rough when the laity are not Ortho-minded, but its worse when the clergy have the steamer trunks of baggage attached to their Epitrachilion. Often times their sermons sound more like Jimmy Swaggart than an Orthodox Priest. I actually had one Priest in an Antiochian Church come to give his homily with a bible tucked under his arm, and he even spoke with that "tone" Do You have a personal relationship with Jeeezus? Again it is this lack of Orthodox Thought Process that brought about the mess at Ben Lomond.
Joining the Orthodox Church because you are upset at the actions of your particular Church is simply wrong. Join us because we have the fullness of Faith, the Perfection of Liturgy, but not because we have what appears to be a conservative social agenda.
- Dear honorable members
Greetings in HIS name
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Chev. Thomas Daniel (Reji)
St.George Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Church
Cheppaud, Alleppy Dist, Kerala, India.