After my death our beloved Church abroad will break three ways ... first the Greeks will leave us as they were never a part of us ... then those who live for this world and its glory will go to Moscow ... what will remain will be those souls faithful to Christ and His Church. ~St. Philaret of NY


A Vague Idea of the Church

from Joanna's notepad

It has been said that a certain heresy could be arising among the fragments.  Or, maybe, it already has arisen, but is not yet articulated.  It goes something like this:
     The bishops are merely fulfilling a certain role that is necessary for the structure of a Church.  Any bishop will do for any given moment, as long as the people apply the canons according to their strict interpretations.

This is like the Protestants who run off with our Bible and use it as the foundation of their Church.  Instead, the super-correct, behaving like Protestants, run off with our canons and use them as the foundation of their Church.  For them, then, the Church is no longer the Body of Christ; instead it is just an organization of people who all think alike. 

Because of their "vague idea of the Church" the fragments have a need to have things strictly defined, especially that of the presence or absence of grace.  Because, being outside the Body of Christ, (being in schism), the only way they can attribute grace to themselves is by a definition; for, in actual fact they have lost connection to the source of grace, which is the Church.  They have lost the freedom that is given within the Body of Christ to trust God with such matters.  The only way they can feel on top of things again (regain some sense of stability) is to proclaim that ROCOR is the one who is in schism because ROCOR won't make the same declarations they do (about grace), and won't stand on their foundation with them.

I would appreciate having help in articulating this heresy or problem – whatever it is.  I'm interested in hearing from anyone who has also noticed this same disorder, and can help describe it.  Hopefully something I can publish to help others who are also concerned about this.

World-orthodox, being the flip-side of the super-correct, also have a vague idea of the Church.  Fr. Seraphim Rose wrote this in a letter to a catechumen who came from the Roman Church and who was concerned about ROCOR's seeming "intolerance" of other jurisdictions:

As for the "intolerant" attitude of our Synod to other Orthodox Churches: Several years ago a Catholic girl was received into our Church, and she told me that one of her earliest puzzlements concerned the seemingly great contrast between the frightful statements made about heretics, apostates, etc., and the universally kind and loving approach that she always found when talking to our clergy and faithful.  I see no conflict whatever.  To guard the truth one must speak straightforwardly about those who depart from it in order to protect the flock and, if possible, to enlighten those in error.  But to every soul the Church opens Her treasures – if only he will listen to the truth and accept what She teaches – which comes from the Holy Spirit – not from his "reinterpretation" of it.  With regard to those Orthodox Churches that are departing from truth, one should be if anything even more outspoken – for their leaders, having known Orthodoxy, are consciously departing from it and trying to lead the flock away with them.  But in all my contacts with the zealots for Orthodoxy within our Church, I can truthfully say that I haven't found one of them without true Christian love for those in error; they would be the very first to embrace Patriarch Athenagoras and others if they repented of their errors and returned to Orthodoxy.   The contrary impression, I believe, comes chiefly from the criticism of those whose idea of the Church is very vague and who therefore accuse our zealots of "lack of love" when they rightfully attack apostasy.
Letters, p. 11

All this is important to us because the fragments arose from within ROCOR (and we want them to return).  We are very susceptible to super-correct disease.  Unlike the renovationism disease which came from outside of us, (from world-orthodoxy), the super-correct disease came from within us.  This is all the more clear now since the GOC-union.  The GOC also, like us, has an innate tendency for super-correctness.

Well, then, what would be a clear idea of the Church?  So marvelous is it to ponder Her.  She is the "palace of the Master", as we say in our morning prayers where we sing of Her grace.  I don't believe it is possible to have a clear idea of the Church from without.  But outside the Church it surely is possible for someone to recognize that they are outside of it.  Also, even while incomprehensible to the "head" (intellect), the "heart" (spirit) can be touched very deeply.  Fr. Seraphim described his first visit to the Church before he was even a Christian:

… when I entered an Orthodox church for the first time (a Russian church in San Francisco) something happened to me that I had not experienced in any Buddhist or other Eastern temple; something in my heart said that this was "home", that all my search was over.  I didn't really know what this meant, because the service was strange to me, and in a foreign language... 
Not of This World, p. 81

This is how we know when we are in the true Church – by the experience of grace within Her.  And not by some logical intellectual declaration that takes up page after page to "prove".

1 comment:

Joanna said...

See page 10, from GOC official document:
"The unity of the True Church is not founded on our view of the Mysteries of the New Calendarists..."

This is saying that the union of the GOC with the SIR is NOT founded on a "view". Rather the unity of the Church is founded on Apostolic confession and succession.


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