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!


Matthew the Curmudgeon said...

#4 is very important. Unfortunately you are dealing with individualistic Americans and whether cradle or convert, nearly all will be what we are. A lot of us grew up learning the Davy Crockett motto: be sure you're right, then go ahead. It works well for most things but not in church unless said church falls into heresy, like the Episcopal Church.
I have never been AOCNA so I try to be as neutral as possible, but I have to admit I never have liked or trusted Metropolitan Philip. He always came across a too 'Americanized' in all the wrong ways and too 'Anglican' in all the wrong ways. I remember when I asked OCA/Greek priests about the Met. and got basically the same response - Eastern Rite Episcopalians. I laughed. I don't really believe it all that bad at the parish level but the Met? Oh hell yes!
Why do you think Antioch is pulling in the reigns? Politics from Syria? Competition between Constantinople/Moscow? Jerusalem/Constantinople?
Why don't they just retire Philip to a monastery or are they waiting for him to die?
The only thing I liked him for was support of the Western Rite which may be in jeopardy now. I would hate to see this lost now that it is growing. Perhaps Moscow would be willing to take the WR under it's wing. It supported it in the beginning.
All Shall Be Well, All Shall Be Well, All Manner of Things Shall Be Well, Saint Julian of Norwich.

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

Thanks for this important perspective. I am so tired of arguing with the Lutherans that I basically forebore to say much of anything. But I'm very glad you did. Thanks again.

Tim said...

While I may be personally pleased that things in the LCMS seem to be looking "up", I am sorry for any trouble (real or percieved) that is going on in the Antiochian Archdiocese. I pray too that Christ will work things out. Because I know He will :-)

Tired of arguing with Lutherans? If you don't know by now, arguing for a Lutheran is like recess for an elementary school child- a necessity, and fun to boot! /ends sarcasm

Seriously though, I'm sorry so many have been... well, jerks. Or, at least come off that way. Sometimes I think internet debate is kind of pointless, and not really that good anyways. Face to face always makes for better debate- especially since you can have fun gauging your opponents facial expressions! LOL

Ezekiel said...

Thank you, my friend, Father Gregory for you calm analysis.

Anastasia -- right on. I only read a couple of Lutheran blogs, and occasionally see what's going on where I once was, but find that I really don't judge that stepping in is really worth it. So, I pray .. .and move on.

Yes, if I were still in the LCMS, I would be very pleased. However, the next majority can wipe everything out, can't it? :)