The Prodigal Church – Apology

“And come now, O Lord my God, teach my heart where and how it might seek you, and how it might find you.”[1]

If thou wilt return, O Israel, says the LORD, return to me: and if you will put away thine abominations out of my sight, then shall you not remove. And you shall swear, The LORD lives, in truth, in judgment, and in righteousness; and the nations shall bless themselves in Him, and in Him shall they glory. [2]

The worldly, and those who have not received a fairly comprehensive foundation in Orthodox Christian theology are not encouraged to read this work.

When a person is of the world, they speak in words acceptable to the world for they are so constrained to please other men, to attain wealth, to receive recognition and honor. And this worldliness can extend even within the Church. The Church has a dark institutional worldly side marked by a craving of power, honoring credentials, seeking selfish loyalty in advancement of one’s own self through institution. Even the disciples themselves suffered great temptations of this sort, and these are well documented in the Holy Scriptures. If a man imagines himself doing better than they, he is truly delusional.

There is a belief in academics and philosophy in the Church, but Jesus called Fishermen and Tent Makers; rough men who spoke blunt truth. Jesus spent a good deal of time arguing with religious men and defending heretic Samaritans, publicans, gentile outcasts and Roman occupiers.

When a person seeks the Holy Gospel, yet is in the world, a person must speak truth. Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth and the Life and one must please Jesus first and foremost. The pleasing of the Master is in love of the One who gave His life for us. In such love, one becomes reckless and forward.

To spread the Holy Gospel we must use the language of the world, and its logic to communicate with its people. We should beware of offering the world those things acceptable to it in order to receive from it any form of acceptance. A true person is not interested in acceptance but in conveying truth in a gentle and understandable manner. The truth is balanced in love with integrity to itself and love of others, even others bound in the world. However, the truth must be proclaimed.

A great many Orthodox today, unlike in centuries past and in the early Church, express a problem with logic and reason. Logic and reason can indeed interfere with doing the will of God for those who are advanced in the religion. Those who object may be on the middle and higher rungs of the ladder of Divine Ascent. However, to communicate to masses of people, to modern people caught in apostasy or who are discouraged, logic is not the enemy of Truth.

Jesus used logic all the time for He is the Incarnation of the Divine Logos. Saint Paul used proofs from Scripture. The ancient Church Fathers were very logical and direct. Modern monastic ‘orthodoxy’ where one plays a sort of holier than thou ascetic encountering the world is not appropriate for everyone. Some sow, others weed, and others reap. The skills of the sower are one sort, and the skills of the cultivator are another sort, while the skills of the reaper are yet another sort. Understanding what one is and what one does is given by the Holy Spirit who gives an abundance of gifts and distributes them for proper use in proper context and time. It would be insane for the present author to intrude on monasticism, or even to limit its utility as it encounters the world. On the other hand, there is a place for logic and while it may not be in prayer, it is still needed in the world.

[1] Western Saint Anselm

[2] Jerimiah 4:1-2

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