Saturday, May 03, 2008


My identity is in Christ, but as far as denomination is concerned...

I grew up going to a Presbyterian church. For my middle school years and a little while in my high school years, I was going to a Baptist church in addition to my Presbyterian church. I left my church in my high school years and I started attending a Community church. For the first two years of college, I plugged back in with my Presbyterian church and I also started attending a Russian Charismatic church. When I left for Judson, I attended Willow Creek in my first semester, my second and third were at a Southern Baptist, I got involved with a Methodist church after that and for a while I was attending a Nondenominational church, and for the last month I was attending a Lao Community church.

So, what does that make me?
Well, I really can't say "I'm a insert denomination here" but I can say that what I most align myself as is Greek Orthodox.




Ρωμανός ~ Romanós said...

Innocent of Alaska wrote in his book, Indication of the Way into the Kingdom of Heaven, "In short, Adam was in paradise, and paradise was in Adam," speaking of the primordial man before the Fall. Later, the second Adam was born on earth, the new Adam, and the same can now be said of Him, "Jesus is in paradise, and paradise is in Jesus." All who believe in the new Adam, Jesus Christ, are in paradise, then, even as we walk about in this world. Hence the saying, "The saints live the life of heaven on earth." In Christ, we have no other color or denomination, as it were. There are those among us, Christians, who really get their sense of security, belonging, correctness, or whatever, from the denominational "clothes" that they wear. But what was the first Adam wearing before the Fall? And what do we wear who partake of the Divine Nature through the second Adam? The Word of God says, "All who have been baptised into Christ, have put on Christ." (Oσοι γαρ εις χριστον εβαπτισθητε χριστον ενεδυσασθε. Galatians 3:27) For us, followers of the Way, there can really be no other garment. Our home is the Word, and our garment is Christ.

Still, for me, as you know, I am a member of the Greek Orthodox Church. What is the meaning of this? Is it a limitation in any way? God forbid! Is this the perfect, the one and only Church that Christ recognizes? How can that be true, and if it be true, how can we know it? By the words and writings of men? Where are the signs that Christ promised?

I belong to the Greek church because it is traceable to the early church in a way that only a few other churches are. Does that make it perfect? No, it is still a human construct, but the humans who comprise it have the Holy Spirit no less than any other fellowship of Christians. It has many good characteristics, and very few bad ones. That’s Orthodoxy on the human side. But it is everywhere, provides a consistent, peaceable stable for me to lodge in while Christ is being born in me, because for me “there was no room at the inns” of secularized, worldly Christianity. Orthodoxy is the humble possessor and guardian of the deposit of faith that most Christians share, and it is strong to keep it intact. Not having been greatly involved in denominational squabbles between Roman and Protestant forms of Catholicism, it is usually respected by both.

As a Greek Orthodox, I feel free to fellowship with every kind of follower of Jesus, in every way, and I feel myself welcome in every church, even though not all welcome me. I even feel myself welcome in the synagogues of the Jews, and I even pray there, standing and swaying like the rest. Yet I do not abandon anything of Christ by walking with Jesus in every place that He goes, following Him as He goes in search of His lost sheep, in church, in synagogue, in mosque, in temple, at the office, in school, in the streets, everywhere.

For me, Nathanael, being Greek Orthodox is not so much wearing the clothes of that institution as being able to speak that universal Christian language in all its dialects and dialectics, “being all things to all men,” in the perfect security of knowing the original dialect upon which all the others draw.

If you ever formally join the Greek Orthodox Church, Nathanael, as you are promising to follow Christ, down to even the least detail of “the canons and ordinances of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North and South America,” remember to distinguish in your conscience all that is essential and true from the necessary constructs that we allow to give the visible Church its shape. It is just the shadow of the reality of the invisible Church, which you will find everywhere, always, and in all those who follow our Lord and Savior and God, Jesus Christ. Glory to Him, together with the Father and the Spirit. He is One, and there is no other. Αμην!