Fr. Alexander Schmemann: The New Year: The Mystery of Time

Fr. Alexander Schmemann

On New Year’s Eve we feel the mystery of time more powerfully than at any other time. We feel, in other words, that its flow – in which we live and in which everything constantly vanishes as the “past” and constantly places us face to face with the unknown future – essentially contains within itself the main question that everyone is called to answer with their lives.

“Vain gift, chance gift – life, why have you been given me?” asks the poet [Pushkin] in his immortal line. Indeed, it is enough for one moment to turn away from the cares that absorb us, enough mentally to stop the ceaseless waterfall of time, disappearing into the abyss, in order for the question “Why is life given and what is its meaning?” to rise from the depths of the subconscious, where we normally hide it from ourselves, and stand before us in all its implacability.

I was not, now I am, and I will not be; thousands of years passed before me, and thousands will come after… On the surface of this unimaginably infinite ocean I am but a fleeting bubble, into which a ray of life flashes for a split second, just to be extinguished and disappear then and there.

“Vain gift, chance gift – life, why have you been given me?” What, in comparison with this only honest, rueful question do all the loud theories mean that seek to answer this with tiresome theoretics of a “bright future”? “We will build our new world. He who was nothing will become everything” [from The Internationale]… The most naïve, gullible, and dull-witted person cannot but know that all this is a lie. For both the very one “who was nothing” and the one who “will become everything” will disappear from the face of the earth, from this hopeless mortal world.

Therefore, regardless of whatever we were taught by pathetic prophets of a pathetic happiness, only one real question stands eternally before man: does this ever-so-brief life have any meaning? What does it mean, when compared with the boundless abyss of time, that this flash of consciousness, this ability to think, rejoice, and suffer, this extraordinary life that, however seemingly futile and random, is still looked upon by us as a gift?

Now the clock strikes twelve on New Year’s. And as long as it strikes life for twelve short seconds stops and pauses, and everything as it were focuses on what is now to begin, posing and responding to the same torturous question: what is this – another step towards a meaningless end and disappearance, or the unexpected flashing of a ray of renewal and new beginnings? In response come words from an infinite loftiness and an infinite profundity: That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not. He came unto His own, and His own received Him not. But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name… And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth… And of His fulness have we received, and grace for grace (John 1:9-12, 14, 16).

These are the words of the Evangelist John the Theologian in the very beginning of his Gospel. They are thoroughly imbued with the joy, confidence, and love of a man who has seen the light of true life, about which it is said that it shines in darkness and was not overcome by the darkness (John 1:5). Listening attentively to them, the very same joy, the very same confidence, and the very same love begin to be kindled in our own souls. Time is powerless if this light shines above us. Life is not vain, life is not chance, but is a gift from on high, from God, about Whom the same John the Theologian said that in Him was life, and this life was the light of man (John 1:4). And every man that comes into this world is once again set alight, is once again gifted this life, and the love of God is addressed to each one of them, and to each one of them is addressed God’s commandment: “Live!” Live, in order to love! Live, so that your life will be filled with love, light, wisdom, and knowledge! Live, so that in your life darkness, meaninglessness, and eventually death itself will be overcome! For eternity already shines through this world and through this earthly life. This gift of life in the world and with the world is given us that eternal life with God and in God may become part of us.

Yes, suffering, doubt, trials, the bitterness of separation – all these have fully become part of our lot. How often we are weakened in this battle, and give up, and fall, and change! How often we are scared and lonely, how often we lose heart when we see how evil and hatred are triumphing in the world! But the One Who gave us this life and granted us freedom taught us to discern good and evil; He gave us the loftiest of all gifts: love. For He said, and continues to say: In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world (John 16:33). We, too, can overcome in this very world, and in it our lives can shine with that same light that once flashed forth and continues to shine – that light that the darkness has not overcome.

The clock strikes… Let this mysterious future come to us; for, whatever it might bring with it, we know and believe that God is with us, that Christ has not orphaned us, that He is faithful that promised (Hebrews 10:23). Here are the marvelous words of Vladimir Soloviev:

Death and time reign on earth,
Do not call them your masters;
Everything, whirling about, disappears in the haze
The only thing fixed is the sun of love.

Yes, this is our calling, our freedom as children of God: not to call “masters” those things whose dominions have been destroyed, and not to close ourselves from access to the Sun of love, faith, and hope.

The holiday will soon be over, and routine, labor, fatigue, and depression will begin. But let us not permit the daily routine to overpower ours souls! Just as sunlight penetrates through closed shutters, so too let the light of Christ, through this mysterious holiday, become present in our daily lives, rendering our entire lives an ascent, a communion with God – a difficult but joyful path to eternal life. For the Apostle John said: For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life (John 3:16).

Happy New Year!

About GShep

Comments

  1. Carl Kraeff says

    What great words of faith, hope and love. I just cannot help but think that things would have been different had the Lord not taken him away from us at a relatively young age of 62. Memory eternal!

  2. Ashley Nevins says

    Carl,

    Encouraging, but it will not save the GOA or OCA. The paradigm of modernity has shifted against the paradigm of anti modernity. If a church cannot paradigm shift to relevancy in the generation it is found in it is unlikely it will paradigm shift to relevancy to any generation in the future.

    Alexander would not have changed one thing about the outcome of the EOC in America had he lived longer. Idealizing him does not change one thing about the present state of the church in America. Wishing, dreaming and hoping does not do the hard work of dealing with the failed and corrupt state of church. Imagining a different Orthodoxy is not the reality of what Orthodoxy really is in the real world of modernity today.

    Reality is reality and it is not Orthodox idealism proved a corrupt failure. That is how things in reality have turned out. The Orthodox need to realize something. Their church is dead compared to the church living outside of it and they are powerless with the structure and system of church that they maintain to change that state.

    If you or any other lay person wants different a radically different outcome of church then motivate the EOC to change to relevancy in our generation. You will all have to get off of you collective bottoms and start a bottom up paradigm shift revolution to reform your church to relevancy or die as a church. You are going to have to dramatically change your structure and system if you want to become relevant and growing in the reality of the real world.

    No reform = irrelevant church

    Unless there is real structure and system reform no reform of your church is going to take place. I am not talking about changing Met’s. That does not work. It’s way to late to think a change in leaders is going to change the EOC when its leadership structure and system are the real problem. What, none of the Orthodox can see the systemic problem the structure is causing the entire EOC?

    Yes, Orthodox, hold onto what is killing you and believe it is your solution. Believe that if you paradigm shift change it that would mean the end of Orthodoxy. Don’t believe Orthodoxy is ending by its structure and system. Keep applying the structure and system problem to the structure and system problem and believe that will lead you to solution to your undeniable dying state.

    Reform is radical change. You know, like salvation leads to radical change. The more your church has true transforming salvation the more it will transform itself into relevancy in our generation, right?

    Here is how the process works for a dynamic, alive and growing church relevant to the generation it is found in:

    Repentance to salvation to transformation to innovation to change to relevancy to growth.

    Reality check: Your church is only as relevant to the external world outside of it as its internal salvation is true. Your salvation is only as relevant to the world outside of it as it is relevant to all of you. Telling.

    The various Orthodox forums are today nothing more than a microscope into the cause and consequences of their self destruction as a church. If all of you could step outside of your closed system bias that believes your church is Gods only one true church you could see this reality for what it is.

    The outcome of your church in the reality of the real world defines it. No claim that can’t back itself up can do that. Claims are not worth the paper they are printed on without results that are relevant. The Orthodox claiming to be Gods only true church is about as true as Greece claiming to be the best economy in the world. You would think them delusional if they believed that. Their outcome proves who they are in the real world. They are failed and bankrupt. Sound familiar to your church?

    Typical Orthodox, leave it up to someone with perceived authority or creditability to change them and solve their dying state of church. No bottom up revolution that can paradigm shift the church to relevancy. It’s all top down power and control dependent to change and the top down is the problem killing the church dead. So, Orthodox keep looking backwards to find solution to your forward failure. Like that is going to work.

    This will not be a happy new year for the Orthodox and like it has not been for at least a generation. If none of you can see the continuing downward decline of your church and its irrelevancy to our generation you will remain in denial to the true cause of this church failure and continue to die in every new year to come.

    More doom and gloom is to come to the EOC in the future. The Orthodox have die caste themselves into this devolving state by their structure and system of religious dictatorship totalism power and control. The church is hierarchy centered and so was the SANHEDRIN. All of you are experiencing spiritual abuse and abandonment for this reality being your true state of church. Idolatry of hierarchy will be your church end. I promise and all of my promises to the Orthodox come true. All of them.

    Things will only be different if the laity wants them different. They will not be different if an individual lives or dies. The future of the EOC in America is up to the EO laity. Since they are religious codependents nothing is really going to change. Since nothing is going to change then the EOC continues to die a slow, ugly and painful death it denies.

    Orthodox, how true is this simple formula?:

    No Jesus = no transformation = no change = no relevancy

    The degree to which the EOC replaces Christ as salvation with itself as salvation by its tradition is the degree you see the EOC dying. The more the EO place their trust in their traditions and not in Christ as salvation the more untrustworthy their church will become to them. Think it through. If you can see this reality that means you are not living under Christ’s reality and you are believing a lie as reality.

    Faith in a man and things would be different. If only Alexander had been with us longer you can imagine a different outcome of the EO. That is exactly what you stated. Faith in the past is the Orthodox future. That is what all Orthodox state by being a tradition based church. You know, similar as to what the Sanhedrin was based upon. It could not change to relevancy either. They did not survive the paradigm shift of God in Christ come to confront their complete systemic failure. The Orthodox are not surviving the paradigm shift of modernity and a modern church that is relevant in modernity does.

    Orthodox, here is a novel concept: Christ was modernity come to the Sanhedrin. Shocking, is it not?

    He confronted tradition as salvation and as the transformation power of God. He told them to base themselves upon God and not themselves and their traditions. Since, they believed they were Gods only true structure, system and salvation they rejected Christ the paradigm shift to relevancy. The comparison between them and Christ is the comparison of false tradition salvation that refuses to change and an alive transforming salvation that is the paradigm shift of change. It is the comparison of relevancy to irrelevancy. It is the comparison of LIFE to DEATH.

    The Orthodox believe their church cannot change by tradition. If it changes it will become failed and corrupt. It will loose its way. The Sanhedrin believed the same. They died and Jesus lives. You see Him alive in the modern dynamic and growing church that is alive by SALVATION and not made dead by TRADITION. I believe Christ in the Gospels spoke to this very issue, you think??? Tradition is Orthodox salvation and not Christ by salvation and the outcome of the dying church by tradition is the proof the EO deny. Those Christ confronted in the Gospels denied it too. Oh, yes, they did too.

    You can see the difference in the Gospels between Christ as salvation and tradition as salvation. You can see the difference in OUTCOMES. Christ is not tradition as salvation. That kills salvation DEAD. The more tradition based in the extreme is a church the more its believes that tradition is its salvation and therefore the more it dies by tradition as its true salvation.

    What, none of you can see the same thing in the Gospels?

    What, none of you can see where Christ told them that?

    A church lives or dies by its salvation. It is no wonder to me why the EOC cannot find relevancy in our generation. It’s salvation is as alive as the dying state of church is. It is as alive as its TRADITION is. Replace Christ as salvation with tradition as salvation and your church will surely die by the degree it embraces tradition as its salvation. That is exactly what is causing the EOC dying state that has no tradition solution. It has no salvation solution for tradition believed to be what will be its savior.

    Christ’s salvation is resurrection over what brings death. I do not see Christ’s salvation saving the EOC from church death. The EO in America are not being resurrected from the death state of church by their salvation. That speaks volumes and the volumes it speaks most all of you deny what it is really telling you.

    This all sounds so familiar, faith in a man and all will be different. Yes, place your faith in Jonah and the hierarchy and all will be different. Nothing is different.

    Was Jesus relevant or irrelevant to the generation He was found in?

    Is Christ’s salvation tradition do not change based or transformation change based?

    The answers to the questions are obvious unless you are EO. The EO answers to the questions are the EO outcome in the real world. The EO outcome tells the world that the EO believe Christ was irrelevant in His generation and that He was tradition based as salvation.

    REFORMATION or DEFORMATION. It’s all the laity’s choice decided for them by what is killing the church dead.

    Deformation is the deformation of Christ as salvation into tradition as salvation. The obvious evidence is the outcome of the tradition based EOC.

    Transformation = reformation.

    That’s Jesus in the Gospels and He has not stopped the transformation to reformation process and the modern church of relevancy salvation that is dynamic, alive and growing is the proof.

    Happy New Year!!!

    Ashley Nevins

    • Monk James says

      ‘Reformation’ is such a protestantly loaded word. What Ashley Nevins seems to be suggesting here is a reshaping of orthodox christianity along protestant, nonhierarchal, congregational lines, since he thinks that hierarchy is a bad thing. He might logically, then, admit that obedience is no virtue.

      I’m so tired from reading AN’s essay here, although there are many points I’d address for their incoherence and utter nonsense, not to mention that many of them are written so strangely that they make no sense, at least in English.

      Were I not so worn out by this very odd collection of words, I would indeed respond to at least as many points as I think I understand, but my gut reaction is that it would be just so much wasted effort, or (as we Irish say) ‘like pissing up a rope’.

      Anyway. Boiling it all down, I have to say that AN appears to be defining salvation as relevance, and that’s just as wrong and maybe wronger than his caricatures of tradition, a concept he clearly doesn’t understand.

      And NO! Jesus was NOT relevant to His time and place. ‘He was despised and rejected by people’ as Isaiah foretold. Jesus Himself mourned for His people, especially Jerusalem, that they were unable to ‘recognize the time of their visitation’.

      Or maybe Mr Nevins hasn’t ever read the Bible. It certainly seems so.

    • Protoierei Yuri says

      Dear Ashley Nevins,
      A question: what is the next paradigm shift to the relevancy?
      Jesus was irrelevant and His irrelevancy was put to death on the Cross.
      Happy New Year!

      • George Michalopulos says

        Yeah, the Crucifixion was so “yesterday.” And those icky concepts like “sin” and “salvation,” who needs them? Can’t we all just get with the program and become hep-cats? Instead of vestments, can’t our bishops wear Hugo Bahs suits and Gucci loafers? Our priests’ wives should likewise dress like movie stars.

    • O Hamartolos says

      In your opinion what makes the EOC irrelevant or as you say, dead? Could you also provide some current examples of churches that are relevant or “alive”. These concrete examples would help me understand these abstract terms. Thanks.

      • o Hamartolos says

        also, please define outcomes. What is a legitimate “outcome”? So, just to summarize my question: please provide us with concrete examples of churches who are “relevant”, “reformed”, “alive”, and have legitimate “outcomes”. I think that would go a long way in helping understand what you’re saying and move the conversation along. Right now I think the sheer amount of words is diluting the core of your argument, which makes it difficult for many of us to get beyond the first paragraph or two. I sincerely hope you reply.

  3. Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

    Ashley Nevins, your latest word-dump here is a total blast!
    Just take this one inimitable expulsion of wind:
    “You will all have to get off of you collective bottoms and start a bottom up paradigm shift revolution to reform your church to relevancy or die as a church.”
    I’m just imagining someone trying to deal with their bottoms as Ashley recommends: Get off them and stick them up in the air!
    Paradigm shift!!! Coming from Detroit, I recognize yet another attempt to improve on GM’s Hydromatic Drive and Dodge’s “Fluid Drive.” We have to get off our bottoms, do a “bottom’s up”, and then engage our Paradigm Shifts”!
    If “ROFLMAO” had not been inventied, such deposits as this one would surely give it birth.

  4. Carl Kraeff says

    Dear Ashley–You are so right and so wrong at the same time; it makes my head spin!

    First, having imperfections and sins, discord and even fights in the Body of Christ is nothing new and it is to be expected. We all sin and fall short. The question is if we as individuals, parishes, dioceses and local churches rise again after each fall. If I may analogize, it is easier to turn around a one-man skiff than a liner. OTH, it is easier to turn that liner (the local church) around if we work at it at all levels. You are right that if we don’t get up and keep on running the good race we will not help ourselves, our parish, etc… The way I look at it it is very difficult, if not impossible, to make decent judgments about individual congregations, dioceses and local churches. This stems from our inability and unwillingness to judge each other as individuals. Don’t misunderstand me; we form opinions and express them in the form of analysis and judgment, but they are in truth nothing but personal opinions. I am myself guilty of this.

    Nonetheless, there are some indicators for the spiritual health and vibrancy of the Church at various levels. Church attendance; rate of growth; rate of baptisms, Chrismations and marriages; number of missions started; and the number of vocations that have been produced are all proxy indicators for spiritual growth and vibrancy. I can report to you that the OCA is doing pretty well in some of these indicators. Certainly the Diocese of the South and my local parish are doing very well in most of those indicators. So, I cannot share your conclusions. We certainly are not perfect and there are variances amongst ourselves–at all levels. If I may liken our Church to a hospital, some doctors are better than the others, and most of the patients are getting well. Hardly a failing institution.

    Please accept my sincerest wishes for a healthy, safe and blessed New Year.

    • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

      How does one say “vibrancy’ in other languages, such as Greek, Latin, Church Slavonic, etc.? Is it a concept kept hidden from the Fathers until these Days?
      I remember how apoplectic Father Alexander Schmeman used to get when he heard the word “relevant.” He would repeat the word as if he were trying to get cobra venom out of his mouth. Is “vibrancy” and “vibrant,” etc., the new “relevant” for our time. He once told the parish of St. Innocent Church, Tarzana, in an evening discussion: “Let’s avoid slogans, please. You can make a slogan out of anything, even the Eucharist!” How right on he was!

      The ‘Vibrant Church!” Sounds so Syossetene! Or Ivanovian.
      I wonder about those Boot Camps, too. are those where one learns vibrating techniques? I’m sure there are measurements involved, otherwise they couldn’t possibly be real American.

      • Carl Kraeff says

        Unlike you and others, I am trying to communicate with Mr Nevins.

      • George Michalopulos says

        Your Grace, I too love the word “vibrant.” It’s the latest weasel-word that illegal immigration enthusiasts trot out to shut down debate by those who adhere to the rule of law. Many immigrant communities are called “vibrant” in order to disguise the violence found therein because gang violence is so much exciting than the staid existence of the middle class.

        • Carl Kraeff says

          I had no clue about the current usage of vibrant; I merely used it in place of “alive” or “not lukewarm.” I just looked up http://www.merriam-webster.com/thesaurus/vibrant, and the connotations are not all that bad:

          “Vibrant (adjective): marked by much life, movement, or activity

          Synonyms aboil, abubble, abuzz, animated, astir, brisk, bustling, busy, buzzing, flourishing, happening, hopping, humming, kinetic, lively, rousing, stirring, thriving, vibrant

          Related Words abounding, crowded, overflowing, populous, swarming, teeming, thronging

          Antonyms asleep, dead, inactive, lifeless, sleepy”

          At the very least, the Holy Church should not be characterized by any of the antonyms. Should we be asleep or vibrant? Dead or vibrant? Inactive or vibrant? Lifeless or vibrant? Sleepy or vibrant?

          I would also think that the personal predilections of blog hosts and even of retired bishop should not trump what is meant in context. What His Grace Bishop Tikhon (retired) and our esteemed host George posted were as relevant to the subject as Desperate Housewives is to microbiology. So why the non sequiturs?

          What is with this effort to police language and thoughts? Why are we tempted to strike back instead of turning the other cheek? Why are we at a point where a man , who is obviously in distress, is treated like a leper?

  5. Pringlesnap says

    One point where Ashley is certainly right is his contrast between Christ as salvation, and adherence to church traditions as salvation.

    I hear rather too much of the latter, mainly from Russian Orthodox sources.

    • Monk James says

      This is a logically flawed understanding of things based on a false opposition, and Ashley Nevins is absolutely not right here.

      Orthodox Christianity, russian-flavored or otherwise, hasn’t ever asserted ‘adherence to church traditions as salvation’. Never. And especially not as an either/or proposition vis-a-vis Christ.

      Altogether, the various folk customs which surround and even inform the practice of Christianity (not alone among relgious populations for that) have to be supportive of the faith and tradition which believers are expected to maintain and pass on without alteration, neither adding to nor subtracting from the authentically orthodox catholic christian Tradition. Those customs are not the Tradition; they’re merely expressions of the Tradition if they’re in conformity with it.

      Any customs or practices which defy the Tradition, or weaken it by substituting folk religion (‘evil eyes’, e.g.) are rightly opposed and corrected by faithful bishops. This is the same principle which keeps the Tradition authentic and true and unchanged.

      There are two parts to the authentically orthodox catholic christian Tradition: oral and written. By now, 99% (just to throw out a rhetorical figure) of the oral Tradition has been subsumed into the Written Tradition. Still, we’re left with the Sign of the Cross and triple immersion for baptism, as two examples of the permanence of the oral Tradition. Even the best early christian sources say no more than ‘We’ve always done that.’

      Now, the written Tradition has five parts of its own: the Scriptures, the doctrinal statements of the ecumenical synods, the teachings of the universally accepted fathers and teachers of the Church, the hymnography of the services, and the ikons. (Please, friends, let’s not assert that ikons are ‘written’. They are not. Ikons are painted, at least in English, even though they are part of the written Tradition, sort of hardware rather than software.)

      Each of these five parts must be completely consistent with the Scriptures for them to be considered authentic. The Bible is the most important part of the written part of the Tradition, but it is not the only part.

      Ikons and hymns, e.g., often quote or represent the Bible or biblical themes, but they must be tested against the Scriptures to certify that they contain no false teaching. There are hymns still in our books which are redolent of dualism, and they need to be corrected. There are ikons which attempt to depict God, sometimes with a triangular or ‘Star of David’-shaped nimbus. They need to be corrected, too. These are just two of the mistakes we sometimes encounter as well-meaning but uninstructed people let their imaginations direct their work. This also happens when people rely on some false customs or practices instead of depending on the Tradition and its qualified teachers.

      So, we see that this is more complex and yet more simple than we could know from the false opposition with which we started.

      Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Son of Mary, and Jesus Christ alone is the Savior of the world, orthodox or not, whether people know it or not. But it certainly helps for us to acknowledge Christ as our Savior and then follow His commandments, which He says we’ll do if we love Him.

      It’s only in a figure of speech that Christ is described as our salvation rather than our Savior; this is an important distinction: Our Lord Jesus Christ is a person, a theanthropological singularity, if you like, absolutely unique in that as a person He is both divine and human. That, among His other divinely determined qualities, uniquely qualifies Him to be the only Mediator between Man and God.

      Now, once we’ve received our Lord Jesus Christ as our savior, we then must (as St Paul teaches us so explicitly) ‘work out our salvation in fear and trembling’.

      Salvation is a process; the Savior is a person.

      ‘Get it?’
      ‘Got it!’
      ‘Good.’

      • Pringlesnap says

        Well, if that makes me “protestant”, so be it; I stand by what I said.

        • Monk James says

          Christ is risen! Truly risen!

          Dear Friends —

          Not that I suggested that ‘Pringlesnap’ is a ‘protestant’, but being ‘protestant’ is not a good thing WRT the authentically orthodox catholic christian Tradition. It’s amazing that ‘Pringlesnap’ thinks that it should be so for her.

          Why would she ‘stand by what (she) said’, when the orthodox alternative is so much deeper, more satisfying to human nature, so much richer in content and meaning, so much more biblical?!

          It’s been said (accurately, I think) that the continental european reformers of the 15th-17th centuries (forget about England — that’s another story) rightly protested certain aspects of the Vatican’s style of christian practice. Yet, even Luther was manipulated by the political figures and structures of his time and place to behave in ways favorable to them. As long as antiroman feelings were useful to local princes, Luther and his fellow ‘protestants’ were favored by them. Yet even those ‘protestants’, the officially theological types, couldn’t agree among themselves. Luther and Zwingli opposed each other venomously; Henry viii opposed Luther, then supported him. Now there are 38,000 or so ‘protestant’, religions, all of which consider themselves christian, and each of which thinks that they are the only little splinter group which got it right.

          But the Scriptures tell us that Satan is ‘the spirit of division’. The conclusion about ‘protestantism’ is obvious.

          The fact was, and remains, that the ‘reformation’ addressed some issues which irritated them about RC belief and practice, and completely ignored others. In the process, their ‘protest’ managed to (as they say) ‘throw out the baby with the bathwater’. In attempting to correct the mistakes of Rome, they made many of their own, and they like it that way now.

          Rather than trying to reinvent The Church from scratch, the ‘reformers’ should have looked eastward and learned the Tradition preserved by their orthodox christian cousins who owed nothing to Rome.

          Eventually, this misstep on the part of the ‘protestants’ became obvious, and their scholars sought to correct it. So, a century or so after Luther, groups of theologians from the University of Tuebingen made several visits to Constantinople for theological conversations with their orthodox counterparts.

          When it was made clear that we orthodox maintain all the ancient beliefs of our ancestors in the faith, such as the reality of Christ’s own Body and Blood in the Eucharist, the veneration of ikons and of asking the intercession of the saints depicted in them, the perpetual virginity of the Mother of God, etc., etc., the REformed ‘protestants’ had become so DEformed in their theology that they could no longer converse with us on an equal footing.

          The ecumenical patriarch at the time (Joachim ii, I think) told the Tuebingen men that they were always welcome to come back for a visit and have tea, but not to discuss theological issues. The patriarch’s correspondence with them is still available and has been translated into English.

          So, please, friends, let’s not be protestants or behave like them. Let us all be united, as our Lord Jesus Christ prayed that we would be. ‘One Lord, one faith, one baptism.’

          Peace and blessings to all.

          Monk James

          • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

            “Rather than trying to reinvent The Church from scratch?” I’m not sure who is meant there. Most of the reformers were bent on reforming, not reinventing anything. All thought they were correcting crimes that had been committed against the Church and Her “original” thinking. This sounds VERY familiar in American Orthodoxy. The Baptists or Anabaptists made a veritable fetish of “the original way things were done.” They can be credited with a great increase in church historiography and, especially, liturgical history. They, while touting their dependence on “the Word Alone”, loved to delve into, oh, the Didache or whatever, to show that their Reforms were only a return to what had been lost: that the Church had been led astray by its leadership. “From scratch?” Come on!

  6. An extremely interesting principle. Do you have a lot more justifications? Focus on, it’s going to be a fantastic weblog in the future

  7. cynthia curran says

    Well, anabaptists radicals founded a communist christian town in Germany in the 1500’s which they took over by force. The town had a community of property and wives. They were violent compare to the pacifist anabapists that followed but both Lutherans and Catholics drove them out. The Anabaptists that our into politics tend to be leftwing like Jim Wallis. It possible that the anabaptists radicals in Germany lead to the later take over by secular communists centuries later.