Thursday, June 03, 2010

We're All Limping

Darlene has raised some good questions in the comments in the Patmos post below. I posted the following there, then thought it might ought to be here, too:

Darlene --

Don't fret yourself; "If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might be an annoying convert, I more..." ;)

I struggled with the issue of baptism, too, about five years ago. I met with Archbishop Dmitri about it--you can read about my thoughts before my meeting w/him HERE (along with links to two good articles), and my thoughts after the meeting HERE--as well as an answer to someone's question last year about the history of the two approaches to baptism HERE. I know it's a lot (more!) to read, but perhaps it will help. It's not a comfortable issue for many of us enamored with finding Christ's Church, but it need not be a stumbling block.

"My limited understanding of the Orthodox faith is that all the motions we go through, from icon-kissing, to crossing ourselves, to attending Divine Liturgy, even to receiving the Eucharist, are only meaningful if we are participating in the life of Christ."

"They could just be going through the motions without an inward devotion to Christ."

Those statements are true. I would add to the thought, though, that it is ultimately useless for any person or group of people to make it their business to try and label certain behaviors as indicative of whether x or y type of person is or is not "participating in the life of Christ" or "just...going through the motions." The concept is solid, but the application of it to real people in real life is where it gets thorny. "There's a wideness in God's mercy," after all, that may cut the Greek electrician who drinks too much and goes to work late (if at all) slack that the energetic, college-educated, type-A personality former Evangelical convert to Orthodoxy (not describing anyone in particular here) may not get. So his kissing the icon may be the only time God shows Himself to him--and may make that to an ultimately greater effect in his life--whereas someone else might do it to condemnation. We're all limping. Doesn't mean we shouldn't at least "go through the motion" of "left foot...right foot..."

Holiness is absolutely the standard for Christians. How quickly or thoroughly an individual is expected to approach it in this life is unknown. I am not the electrician's Judge; I shall leave the unknown factor to Him.


Darlene said...

And I'm really limping along. I'm ashamed of all those typos. Such errors are unacceptable for one with an English Ed. Degree.

Perhaps the Lord is teaching me humility. OTOH, why be so spiritual? Perhaps I should check what I've written before publishing my comments.

s-p said...

Darlene, This is a late comment, but I was received by chrismation, as was the entire group of us who converted together. We ran the gamut from cradle Episcopalians to multiple-baptism converts to other Christian churches from former churches. (I was baptized RC as an infant then in the church of Christ as an adult). Over the past 12 years the issue of my reception by chrismation has come up in my own head several times, and always by listening to someone's arguments (I won't mention names, places or websites...). I've almost been convinced to get secretly baptized a couple times. Almost, but not. We annoying converts live way too much in our own heads and parse, slice, dice, question, ruminate, obsess, dissect and theologize everything way too much. The fact of the matter is the Church has ALWAYS received converts by various methods, from confession, to reciting the Creed, to anointing to baptism. This is clear from the earliest canons. It is my Bishop that makes that decision, not my friends, a book, a monk, a website, a priest or another Bishop who is not mine. I've finally came to this: I need to get out of my own head and into the Church, accept that the Church says I'm Orthodox by virtue of the authority of my Bishop and let it go. In the end questioning it all is a distraction and wasted energy. God is greater than the Bishop and water.

Darlene said...

Thank you, Steve for your acute observations. :) I trust that growth will time, patience, and humility.