I'm still uncomfortable with the term heterodox. I suppose there's still enough of the Evangelical Christian in me to recognize that it's just not *nice* to tell everybody else they are wrong...but, well...truth is, if they aren't Orthodox, they just aren't orthodox. In the CEC we loved to throw that word orthodox around and we've since realized that none of us really had any idea what it *meant*. I've had many, many conversations with my friends and acquaintances lately since we've become catechumens. They generally go something like this:
So you aren't in the CEC anymore?
No, we're currently catechumens in the Eastern Orthodox church.
We're going to a Ukrainian Orthodox church.
Do they speak English?
Yes. All the services are in English, although the priest is Ukrainian.
Oh. Is that Catholic?
You mean Roman Catholic?
Um, I guess. Is that like the Catholic church?
Well, it's what the Roman Catholic church was before they were Roman Catholic.
Really? (I can see the thought processes churning trying to imagine church history actually happening before the 95 theses)
Are they charismatic?
Here it's my turn to pause and smile to myself. Well, yes. It is the most charismatic church I have ever attended but it is not charismatic in any way I've ever experienced before in my life.
Hm. How so? Do they speak in tongues?
No, not generally, but the Holy Spirit is more "present" in the Divine Liturgy than I have ever before experienced.
Oh. Well are they bible believing?
Here I think to myself they *wrote* the bible but I try to say something more accessible like: Absolutely. They have been worshiping with the scriptures since the very time the canon of scriptures was being decided upon by the earliest church councils.
Do you see where this is heading? It's like two English speaking individuals trying to talk to each other in Spanish and Russian. We have a common language but it's of virtually no use here. The mainline Protestant has no context for understanding Orthodoxy and the Orthodox have no context for understanding the Protestant world. As a convert I sometimes feel like an archaeologist explaining an ancient truth to the modern world. American culture is so steeped in Protestantism and has such a short history (spend a moment in any European country and you'll soon feel like a babe as an American) that a Christian faith rooted in the beginning in remote Mediterranean cultures, continuing practically uninterrupted for 2, 000 years and not centered in the need to Reform and Rebel has no place in our mindset. But I want people to understand. I want them to see the beauty and the richness and the complexity and the simplicity of it all. And so the conversations will continue but I still don't like the word heterodox....
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