27 August 2010

Recent developments

Not a little electronic ink has been spilled over recent developments in the Antiochian Archdiocese—first by Orthodox, and now also by Lutherans of the Missouri stripe.

The recent LC-MS convention went the “confessional” way. Up and down the ticket, those aligned with traditional Lutheran worship and doctrine were elected to office. The Antiochian Archdiocese, on the other hand, appears to be going through some serious difficulties. It now seems that the Holy Synod in Antioch has designated all diocesan bishops as mere auxiliaries, and further that the much-vaunted self-rule of the North American archdiocese no longer applies.

In other words, things appear to be as good as they can get for confessional Lutherans, and (apparently) not too good at all for Antiochians.

Maybe this is the best time, then, to note:

1. The nature of the problem.
The least well-functioning family is better than the best corporate governance. The problems that face Orthodoxy are, as always, personal in nature; the problems that face Lutherans and other Protestants are structural.

2. The infallibility of the Church
When we teach that the Church is perfect and infallible, we do not teach that each individual in it—be he leader or follower—is perfect and infallible. We are in the midst of something here, and we do well to remember that God writes straight with crooked lines. If he were to remove all imperfect people from the Church, I would be the first to go.

3. The continuity of the liturgy
The liturgy we celebrate—apart, perhaps, from a change in the commemorations—will still be the same next Sunday, and next century.

4. To whom the Church belongs
Some well-meaning Orthodox blogs are calling for action and condemning priests for remaining silent. I remain convinced of two things: a) the Church is the body of Christ; b) the Orthodox Church is the Church. Christ will heal his body with gentleness, and in the proper time. My task is to pray for my leaders, to honor them, to follow them as they follow Christ. Even when Christians were put to the sword by pagan emperors, they did not cease respecting the emperors’ legitimate authority. How much more should we respect our fathers in Christ!

10 August 2010

Subterranean scribbling

Any argument against the intercession of the saints is founded on a pagan notion of death and, at its root, is an argument against all intercessory prayer.