Many converted to Orthodoxy from Western confessions. Some may wonder what of their past faith needs to be rethought and what they should retain. The good news is Orthodox engagement with nearly all contemporary Western teachings and trends can be found in this period.
If we dismiss this scholarly work as unnecessary—perhaps on the erroneous assumption that the Bible can just “speak for itself” or that we can approach “the plain meaning of Scripture”—then by default we will unconsciously read Scripture in light of our own tradition.
As Christ offered himself up for the salvation of the world, the clergyman must likewise sacrifice himself daily for those entrusted to his care—both his parishioners and those potential servants of God in the greater community.
Rather than examining the arguments — pro or con — related to such a suggestion, I would like to ask a more practical question: is an official change likely to happen, either worldwide or even within one autocephalous church?
When one turns to the Church Fathers with these questions in mind, one thing that becomes apparent is that the Fathers did not find them pressing in the same way as we do today. Just as they took for granted that some will be eternally damned, so they assumed that there can be no repentance after death, at least of the thoroughgoing, “deep” kind that is essential to Christian life.
The Ecumenical Patriarchate recently published its document "For the Life of the World," a kind of omnibus of positions on social questions, including morality, politics, and mission. It is unfortunately a deeply flawed document.
Christianity emerges as a system of interacting with understanding the world, described in teachings and lived by the actual human persons of every era. This way of thinking and seeing has been bred into the bones of every person born in the West for centuries, though today it may go unnoticed like the air which we breathe.
Over the course of writing my recently released book, Under the Laurel Tree: Grieving Infertility with Saints Joachim and Anna, I’ve had the honor of talking to individuals and couples from a variety of Christian backgrounds who have one thing in common: they struggle to integrate the reality of infertility with faith in a God who is supposedly life-giving. There are many…