Friday, 7 December 2007

Go East

Why would Christians leave familiar communities of worship, and often their families, for the strange world of smells and bells, of incence, icons, priestly vestments, and a liturgy that is often still chanted in a foreign language? – wonders Daniel Clendenin in his Eastern Orthodox Christianity. A Western Perpective. Exactly what deficiency in their previous Christian experience has Orthodoxy filled for these converts?

...The beauty and power of Orthodoxy’s litugical ornament, liberation from arid reductionistic rationalism, the celebration of „sacred materialism” free from legalism, the wholehearted embrace of majesty and mystery, and stability that outlasts the latest theological or ecclesiastical innovations and that is born of an unwavering devotion to the theology and life of the patristic fathers – all these are common themes cited by converts to Ortodoxy.

Orthodox worship is not a gathering for small talk, nor the time to ‚share a cup of coffee together’. It is instead a sacred movement, a liturgical reenactment of heaven and earth in all its beauty and transcendence, an aesthetic attempt to incarnate the present reality of the future kingdom of God.

In Orthodoxy the criterion of the truth is not external or dogmatic, a speaking to the church, but internal and pneumatic, a living Lord within the church. We might say that the only ultimate theological criterion to which Orthodoxy appeals is the living presence of God himself, who safeguards the church and promises through his Spirit to lead us and guide us into all truth.

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