Friday, May 29, 2009

"Knowing About" and "Participation in"

We are all so often deceived into the trap of dividing Christianity up into the “ritual” and the “necessary.” The Eucharist along with the other Sacraments are discarded as “ceremony” because of their scripted nature and repetitiveness while believing in a handful of central truths like the Resurrection and the Trinity are all that’s needed. If the intellectual exercise of belief were all that was necessary, then why did Christ even command us to be baptized? Is one born again in the waters of baptism or is he or she born again when the choice is made to be baptized? Obviously at least one “ritual” has been demanded by Christ as a “condition” for Salvation (John 3:5).

The point is that Christianity is not simply an act of knowing a certain truth, but active participation in that truth. So often this is abstracted to have a social meaning, that is to say doing good deeds, feeding the hungry, housing the homeless, and other certainly righteous acts. However, the Orthodox concept of Sacrament is not restricted to that, but also to real participation in Christ. We are baptized into death and resurrection with Christ as He was also baptized. We participate in the once and for all Sacrifice of Christ on the Cross in the Eucharist. We are given the gift of the Holy Spirit in Chrysmation just as Christ gave the Disciples the gift of Spirit at the Pentecost. Just knowing about these acts of Christ is far different from having them realized in our lives in the here and now- which is to say through the Sacraments.

-Steve K.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Orthodox Priest Candidate Suspended from Clerical Duties

This article with the title above normally signals men behaving badly .. however, in this case, the Finnish Orthodox Church took a courageous and strong stand to divide Church and politics.

The story reports how the Finnish Orthodox Church's Council of Bishops has ruled that Mitro Repo may not serve as a priest while he is running for the European Parliament or if he wins a seat. The bishops explained that participation in political activity violates the tradition of the Orthodox Church canon. They added that a Member of the European Parliament wearing priestly attire would place the Finnish church into a questionable position internationally.

Especially as politics and religion in America, India and elsewhere grow uncomfortably more and more entwined, the Finnish Orthodox stance and explanation that points back to the original Church teachings (Matthew 22:18-22) is wonderful. It's clear in the Holy Scripture and the early Church teachings that Christ was neither a politician nor a power-monger, and it's time for all Christians to understand this point.

But arguably the most thought-provoking point from the article was Mitro Repo's acceptance of the ruling and his statement that "the council had made a wise decision".