Fascination with wickedness obscures what is good, and roving desire perverts the innocent mind.
Wisdom of Solomon 4:12

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Journey to Orthodoxy

Before discovering Christian Orthodoxy there was always a rather large problem that I could never expunge from my mind. I could never make peace with the fact that there were a myriad of different theological opinions, interpretations, and conclusions amongst so called orthodox Christians.  I would ask myself, how can we have both Calvinists and Arminians, co-exist and not consider the others heretics? How can all the parties claim to be exegetical, but still fail to agree on things like ecclesiology, sacramentology, eschatology and all the rest? Was it possible for any group to be right about everything? Who gets to decide right from wrong?  Is ultimate truth left to the individual?  Are we each forced to be infallible popes? To sum it up, I was relentlessly troubled by the fact that in Protestantism the final conclusion over the truth is one’s own; could that be what the Lord had in mind? Could that be what Jesus meant when he said I will never leave you to his church?

In order to try to seek peace with myself I tried to find the most ancient expression of Protestantism. I wanted to be part of the true church. It was then that I found early Anglicanism; I began to seriously look into the Anglican Book of Common Prayer and its approach to Christianity, it was the most apostolic expression of the faith to be could be found protestantism. In it I saw a church with a greater fullness, yet without the many additions of Rome; and without the many subtractions of other Protestants. That was what I was looking for.

Things seemed to be fairly peaceful in my Anglican world up to this point; yet as time went by I learned of the many in consitencies within Anglicanism. I knew that it was not perfect, but what could be better? Surely not rome with all of its additions and excesses. It was then that I had a direct run in with Orthodoxy.  That encounter turned my world upside down. I was doing some research for a sermon and I ran into the orthodox teaching on Kairos and Chronos, this was something that was completely foreign to me as a Protestant. I continued to dig, and found more and more Orthodox teaching that had previously been a complete mystery to me as a Protestant. I came face to face with the content of seven ecumenical councils and their canons, single procession of the Holy Spirit, paradosis, essence and energies, theosis, synthesis, and then the answer I was seeking: the concilliar approach to truth and the church.  What I was looking for in Anglicanism, I found in Orthodoxy. There I found the fullness of the Christianity without the additions of Rome, and or the subtractions of the reformers. There I saw a sure way to determine right from wrong; there I found the one concilliar voice of the whole church rather than the ruling voice of any one convincing theologian.  There I found the church the Lord promised us, the true church without a divided mind or practice!

At that point I simply wanted to enter the Orthodox Church. However, it was not that simple. I was still responsible for the spiritual well being of my small flock.  It could not just think of myself at a moment like this. So, I chose to invest the next several years of my ministry teaching my parish as much as I could about the Orthodox faith.  During this time my own understanding and practice of the Orthodox faith grew exponentially, and this has forever changed me.  Many in the congregation that I serve have also fallen in love with Orthodoxy.  In the last several months there has been a rather strong desire to begin our move in the Orthodox direction. 

My first hope to enter into the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, the Orthodox Church, and to bring as many as will come with me. My second hope is to do all that I can to contribute to the formation of an American Orthodoxy.  May the Lord have mercy upon us, guide us, and watch over us as we move towards His church.

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