Well, after following my usual diet of consuming every tidbit of information I could on the Orthodox Church I have finally slowed down to a pace at which I can step outside of the rapturous feasting and get a sense of where I’m at with this whole thing.
Through the process I’ve had my ups and downs, my moments of “This is it – it all makes sense now!” and the “Woe is me! – is there no end to this confusion and uncertainty.” Coming out on the other end I’m, as usual, somewhere in between. I can’t shake the feeling that this really may be the One True Church – And if any church can ever make that claim then the Orthodox can – certainly, in my opinion, it trumps the Catholic Church in this historical and theological claim. But I’ve also hit a brick wall with regards to any attainable certainty – especially on a research or intellectual level. It just doesn’t seem possible to know this kind of thing with your head and since I don’t have access to an English Orthodox Church (and even the Greek Orthodox Church is 3 hours away) I can’t even attend services in the hope that I could get a heart sense after attending for a while.
I must be honest, I’d be a little disappointed if Orthodoxy doesn’t turn out to be The Church. I’ve really come to appreciate their Theology. Of course some of this Theology is transferable regardless of membership in the church, but some is not. I began looking forward to Baptizing and Chrismating my boys and receiving Chrismation myself. I looked forward to developing a relationship with a Priest who would be my Spiritual Mentor and Guide in the Spiritual Life. I Love the Orthodox Sacramental Theology – which I’m afraid can’t be transferred as it is tied to the Bishop, Priest and Church. This book isn’t closed, but now all I can do it wait and listen and hope that God gives me ears to hear.
The strongest principle of growth lies in human choice – George Eliot.
If that is true then my sense of lack regarding my spiritual growth is a direct consequence of my inability to decide.
The world is a shopping mall. A buffet of options to satisfy every taste. Religion as a man-made reality is no different. Whatever your particular take on God there’s a religion, or a church, or a gathering of people to match your outlook. Not only that, but you can tweak that outlook any way you like and still find at least one group of people who agree with you.
Draw up any list about the nature of church, spirituality and God and I’m pretty sure you can find a circle of friends who feel the same way and would love to include you in their fellowship. And yet, with all the options and opportunities out there I find myself standing and staring out at the religious landscape unable to commit to anything more than the Lordship and Saving Grace of Jesus Christ.
Now this may seem like enough to some of you – and in some ways it really and truly is. But in another sense it leaves me depressingly incomplete. The ministry of Jesus was the redemption of the world; He accomplished the task God set for Him and that is why I call Him Lord and Saviour. The dual task He then set for His followers is to Love God and Love others. The vehicle through which this should be done is the fellowship of other followers who corporately manifest His body i.e. The Church. The Church is supposed to play a vital role in the Kingdom agenda of Jesus’ disciples. Therefore, without a church I am like a dismembered hand dragging myself along the road unable to carry out very much of anything.
The problem for me is not that I don’t believe anything regarding the church, in fact it is just the opposite. I’ve explored and investigated so many facets of the church that I have become disillusioned by the exclusive claims of all of them. At this stage I cannot commit to being ONLY Baptist, or Evangelical, or Anglican, or Protestant, or Catholic, or Orthodox, or Emergent…
And so we come to this blog. I’m tired of driving myself and my wife crazy with revolving arguments and endless commentary. I’m hoping that by writing down some of my wrestling I will start sensing some movement in this endless struggle with God and His Church. My prayer is that when the morning breaks God will bless me with a new perspective on His Beautiful Bride and my heart can finally find some peace in a Christian Body.