Thursday, March 02, 2006

Of changing one's mind

With my dogged pursuit after the Holy Orthodox faith and our geographical distance from the everyday life of an Orthodox Church comes a particular struggle for my wife, I'd imagine.
We were talking the other night before bed. That morning we had visited a particularly hip, contemporary [and decidedly un-Orthodox] church where a friend goes. This is the only church I've ever seen with the word 'Contemporary' in the name. It's even on the sign.
Now, understand, this is exactly the kind of church we came from and met in. Our former ideal church was one where without fail someone would make disparaging comments about tradition in every worship service. We prided ourselves in our lack of liturgy. In fact, it became quite a tradition to make fun of tradition.
Well, I asked her, "What are you thinking about this Orthodoxy stuff?"
She said that she agreed that it seemed to be the 'real, historic' church, but what if we change our minds.
You see, we both know that we have waffled and changed our opinions on many non-essential issues throughout even our six-year marriage. Early on in our marriage we changed our view of contemporary music in worship, when we were serving in a church which didn't have much contemporary music to speak of. We changed our view of the end-times we encounter Godly, well-read people who pointed out the short tenure of our particular school of eschatology. We changed and re-changed our views on all sorts of issues.
And now we've found the 'changeless', historic faith of the Apostles. And we're convinced. Today. But can we answer for tomorrow?
So, I answered in the way only a man can, "But it's right, though, isn't it?"
I can understand my wife's struggle with knowing whether or not this would be 'right for us' ten years from now or ten months from now.
So, I started at the beginning: for me, without the confines of historic Christianity there is no basis for theological thought to stay, well, Christian. If the interpretation of Scripture is the only authority we have to go on, then, yes, it is true that the heresies of the modern-day quasi-Christian 'cults' are inherently within the protestant tradition. I know without a doubt that there is no limit to the degree that a person can go interpreting the Scripture within their own frame of reference. The problem being we all have our own interpretive frame of reference. Hermeneutics, you say, is the scientific study of the interpretation of such texts. The principles of hermeneutics do not prevent protestant from a diverse reading of even essential issues.
I want to know that I am in a Church where the bodily resurrection of our Lord will never be questioned. However, one thing I love about the Orthodox Church is the fact that there is no 'official position' where there isn't a consensus in the Church Fathers or a ruling in council. So, in some non-essentials there is tremendous diversity.
I guess what I'm saying is this: to me, Orthodoxy represents a protective fence within which wondering is possible and prudent, but outside of which danger lies. And that's a comfortable feeling.
So, the core of Orthodoxy (or orthodoxy, for that matter) will never cease to be 'true for me', unless I cease to be Christian.
I'd rather be sure that I'm within the historic, continuous Body of Christ, and then figure all those issues out from the inside, rather than stand outside the Church and tell the Church how to be the Church by forming yet another ultra-Protestant church, movement or whatever.

No comments: