‘Government as a human act of governing oneself and one’s responsibilities and one’s dependents is very different from the modern institution of the State.’ — Alana Roberts, from her film review of The Dark Knight Rises

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Start with the absolutes

Witnessing Christ to the world is a major goal of the Christian. Wonderful is the testimony of the second mile. The first mile may be obligatory, and often a matter of formality as it restrains us to travel its path. However, to go the second mile displays assurance of love and likeness. Going the first mile is compulsion; going the second mile is dedication and loyalty. Christ went the second mile: He emptied Hades.

I don’t wish to inaugurate a dialog or try to convince anyone that leaving Christianity (because it doesn’t satisfy one’s idea of fairness towards non-Christians) is a bad idea; but I think it’s a move that most people make with insufficient (actually, irrelevant) evidence.

Some realities are absolutes, and if you started with them and worked your way backwards, the outcome would be different.

Start with Christ’s own words. He is pretty specific, and He doesn’t throw curses and threats around. His language to us is reasonable but demands personal (1) obedience and (2) faith (or trust). If you want to be a Christian at all, you have to accept what He says. Watch His actions, too, in the Gospels. This is what I would call the first absolute.

The second absolute, again working backwards from Christ Himself, is what the holy apostles wrote, and how the Church lived right from the beginning. Again, you must return to the New Testament as primary source book, but again, you do not find curses and threats being thrown around (though you do find some specific exclusions in some of the language). I would call the apostles (what they wrote, not what later authorities have said about what they wrote) the second absolute.

We are still very far from having to believe that four-fifths of humanity is going to hell because they haven’t accepted Jesus Christ as their personal Savior.

The third absolute, I’m afraid, would have to be something you’re not prepared to accept: the faith of the Orthodox which, following the first two absolutes, also does not lump humanity into the saved minority (only themselves) and the wicked and lost majority (everyone else). It’s not quite so easy to get at this third absolute: it’s nothing so easy as reading the Bible; it’s using the first two absolutes as the raw data for producing the third absolute. How? By living according to those first two absolutes. Where is that possible? In the Orthodox community. Why there? Because it hasn’t compromised those first two absolutes. It hasn’t attached human speculation and guesswork to them, or erected systems of anti-contamination and quarantine to them, making it all but impossible to even hear, let alone believe and practice, authentic Christianity.

You have left Christianity, but what if what you thought was Christianity was just a mirage? What if Christianity from Christ’s point of view were absolutely different from what you rejected? What if you found out that you agreed with ‘the unknown God’ and that history really did have a surprise ending, that the Christians you heard tell of an unhappy ending (as if they knew all about it) didn’t really know what they were talking about?

These are just some thoughts I wanted to share with you.
What have you rejected, the real or the counterfeit?
If the former, so be it, but what if it’s the latter?
Even one person was worth dying for, so
maybe even one person is
worth waiting for.

He wasn’t kidding when He said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do,’ and if He is who He said He was, then His Father will grant His prayer, not just this one, but all of them.
Start with the absolutes, and think again.


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

No matter where it takes us

Orthodoxy is knowing that love has entered the world in the man Jesus Christ, and living in that love
no matter where it takes us.

He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me.
And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.
And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.
He who finds his life will lose it,
and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.

Orthodoxy is knowing that faith is not belief, but trust so certain that we know there is no loss with Jesus, and are fearless to do whatever He asks. It is knowing that obedience is love and draws us into the very life of God, where Father, Son and Holy Spirit all live together with us in one house. It is seeing with unveiled faces Him whom the world cannot see even through a veil. Yes, Orthodoxy is knowing that Love has entered the world and remains here among us, as long as we obey His teaching, no matter where it takes us.

I tell you the truth,
anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing.
He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.

And I will do whatever you ask in my name,
so that the Son may bring glory to the Father.
You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.

If you love me, you will obey what I command.
And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor
to be with you forever—the Spirit of truth.
The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him.
But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.

I will not leave you as orphans;
I will come to you.
Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me.
Because I live, you also will live.
On that day you will realize that I am in my Father,
and you are in me,
and I am in you.

Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me.
He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.

Then Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said,
But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?

Jesus replied,
If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching.
My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.