Thursday, April 3, 2008

Conversations with the Heterodox...

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.


Long silence....

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....


JTKlopcic said...

Heterodox is actually a very descriptive word. One of the meanings found here:

is "holding unorthodox doctrines or opinions". You can't get more accurate than that. Or, extending the meaning of the word "hetero" to mean divergent, then it describes Protestantism as a whole to a T.

As you have found already, catechumens and converts have a huge role to play in translating Christian language between Evangelicals, Roman Catholics, and Orthodox. This could be the beginning of a new millenium of unity in The Church. So, don't get discouraged -- you're doing exactly what you are supposed to be doing.

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

"Heterodox" is much better than "Heretic"!

I love your blog.

Many years to you and your family.

JTKlopcic said...

Are you the same Anastasia from the EV-OR group? Wow, what a compliment this is!

I really miss reading your EV-OR discussions. They laid a lot of the groundwork in our decision to become catechumens.

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

Well, now I'm the one who is honored, and very grateful if God used anything I wrote to your benefit.

Yes, I miss ev-or, but it does appear to have lived out its natural life.

Maybe I'll post something controversial there to see what happens...?

I admire you SO much!!! Not everybody could live as you live, or do it as successfully. I don't think I ever could.

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

P.S. Come visit my blog sometimes!

JTKlopcic said...

Thanks! I spent quite a bit of time browsing your blog. (That's how I verified that you were the same Anastasia from EV-OR -- when I read about the squirrels, I figured I had the right person.) The story of Demitrios' life was fascinating. I'll browse for more.

Please accept belated condolences on the loss of your sister. We used to live in Sykesville, and I even toured Burrier-Queen way back when for a seminary seminar. Where did she go to church?

There's more I want to add about your last comment, but my wife wants to turn it into a "guest post", so I'll need to spend some time writing it. I might toss an unrelated controverial topic out to EV-OR in the meantime, just for fun.

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

Thank you. Condolences, it seems to me, are never too late!

Barbara was a member of St. Mark's Church (OCA) in Bethesda. There is going to be a 40-day memorial service for her there Saturday afternoon, which I hope to attend with my mother. Then we'll have another one here Sunday morning.