To be Orthodox, without being Orthodox
An intriguing conversation with an old friend led to his pronouncement that while he appreciated my ?new found? religious heritage , he volunteered that he didn?t really think it necessary to ?join? the Orthodox Church in order to be Orthodox. And by this he did not mean ?o?rthodox , and neither did he intentionally mean that you could pick and choose a few traditions from Orthodoxy and incorporate them into your customized Christian routine.
What he was intending to say was that I could fully practice Orthodoxy without that troublesome "submission of joining the Church itself" (herself).
Oh dear, how to put this delicately and precisely? It seems simple enough to those of us who have embraced the Church already, but to the outsider (surely you non-cradle Orthodox can recall being outside, right?) it just doesn?t make sense. Yes, it is a different understanding of ecclesiology?but more than that. There is a spirit in Orthodox that insists on or at least encourages submission?. Lord how we hate that word ? especially in the West?we immediately equate it with abuse. How sad.
I hope I can communicate that how we approach the Church is not dissimilar to how we ought to approach God ? with humility. (Surely this is obvious if we accept Orthodox ecclesiology, right?) We recognize that it ain?t all about me and Jesus anymore, but it is about the Church and Jesus (a very big difference!) My deep (YEAH RIGHT!) intellectual understanding of certain biblical passages take an immediate backseat to what the Church teaches?we begin to recognize that the doctorate in Biblical Hermeneutics can be instantly ranked by some humble hermit monk on Mt. Athos.
Much more can and could be talked about here?but by the time we had said our goodbyes I am relatively certain that my friend had some new ideas to mull over. The jist of which was: the Church herself is an integral part of Orthodoxy and you cannot practice Orthodoxy outside of the Church ? ?twould be akin to practicing surgery in a public bathroom. Accepting the Church is really the first (and often biggest step) toward becoming Orthodox, because only therein do we see the intertwining and connectedness of all the things we do...and we realized that taking all things Orthodox but leaving behind the Church is indeed "picking and choosing" based on our own personal and lofty understandings of what Christianity really is.
...offered by Dn. James Ferrenberg, a sinner at 7:24 AM [+]