Tuesday, December 20

further thoughts about ortho-

The recent discussions regarding the divisions in other churches and the upcoming synod came together in a recent reading from Galatians.

"yet we know that a person is not counted righteous by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be counted righteous by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be counted righteous." (Gal 2:16)

So, it isn't by the cultural conventions or the strict adherence to sub-sub-sub-canons that we are saved? Seems that was a major point of Christ's message. Obeying the forms and minor points of the law are unimportant. What is important is basic belief in a few universal tenets and letting your conscience dictate your actions. Salvation doesn't come by eating fish on Friday, wearing certain clothes, saying 'hail Mary's' or praying [x] times a day in a very specific manner.

To me, that was a strong point of the Gospel lesson (woman with the alabaster jar) that was glossed over. The Pharisee, Simon, was a man who obeyed all the rules and knew all the 'right-thinking', the Orthodoxy. The 'sinful woman' didn't, yet she did what her heart told her was the right thing...she followed the 'right action'. Orthopraxis.

The point behind these practices is the application of specific beliefs, which gets me to the crux of the matter. More often than not, these sorts of practices derive from interpretations of concepts which may or may not apply to the present day. One example which springs to mind is the recitation of the Nicene Creed. The creed was developed in the fourth century and was used as an instrument of doctrinal definition to refute a series of heterodoxies. That's all well and good, but when the parishioners say the creed today, they do so ignorant of the 'heresy' they are refuting and don't really understand the import which the creed implies.

To honour traditions and to defend thoughts/beliefs which have minimal relevance in this day and age is neither right thinking nor right practice, but is a mindless echoing of the ghosts of the past.  In the discussion between the two ortho's, one would like to have both.  If one must choose, though, the good of 'doing' outweighs the good of 'thinking'.

[note: originally written 9 May 2010]

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