I've gotten some critique...

regarding my calls for civility as people are engaged in on line discusssions of the decision of the Holy Synod of Antioch changing all Diocesan Bishops to Auxiliaries. I don't mind, it's what happens when you step out in public on any issue. You're guaranteed to be misinterpreted, mostly innocently, occasionally deliberately. We often only see our piece of the puzzle.

But there is some context to my efforts to promote a calm dialogue on this and the largest part of it comes from my past. I grew up the Evangelical world and was a Baptist Pastor before becoming Orthodox and while there were some very good things there were hard times as well. There's a reason there's hundred of Baptist groups out there and it has to do with the propensity of congregationally ruled churches to fight. The Baptist reputation for conflict and schism is part stereotype but also a whole lot of fact. A handful of determined malcontents can make life a living hell for an Evangelical Pastor. I know it, been there, done that, and its part of the reason I walked away.

There are people out there in churches who just plain enjoy a good fight. It makes them feel good. It gives them power. It makes up for whatever is lacking in them and somehow gives them the "jolt" that grace apparently couldn't. They leave bitterness and resentment in their wake and use the church as the playground for their personal demons. And I've learned many hard lessons from them, lessons I don't want to repeat in my life as an Orthodox Christian.

It's inevitable that we in the Orthodox Church are going to disagree. It's been that way since day one and probably will be until that final Day. That in and of itself is not a problem. We are one Body comprised on many members and that means different perspectives. For the most part these disagreements are minor and good things can even come from the interaction they provoke. But much depends on the spirit of those who are engaging each other.

Things can get heated but they should always stay Christian. Points can be debated but if the only purpose is to put another notch on our gun then even winning is meaningless. Yes, we do have to confront each other but what good is it if our directness is lacking mercy? We should be drawn into conflict only because it is a painful necessity and not because we lust after the blood of those we oppose. I've seen the dark side, people who play conflict in the Church like some kind of game and relish inflicting wounds as a mark of their own power. It kills parishes, it destroys communities, it creates wounds that sometimes never heal. It drives good people out of ministry and cripples those who remain.

I have my opinions on what is happening and I hope enough humility to learn more if I need to. But one opinion is just front and center. I dearly love my Orthodox Faith, it took me decades to find and I treasure it even as I'm not always its most shining example. It would break my heart to see the issues we really do have to face be used by Satan to rip us apart not based on truth versus error but on emotions, passions, and unkind things directed at those with whom we disagree, things said not for any good reason but rather because putting someone else down somehow feeds a dark need.

As I've said before I've been there, done that, and experienced enough to hate the whole possibility of revisiting it again; enough to be willing to stick my nose out there and say "never again". If people read any more into it then that they're misinterpreting my intent and I regret that but what can I do?

1 comment:

s-p said...

Well said. When someone uses the saints and Church history and canons as their justification for engaging in controversy and disputation I get concerned. I don't know any saints who blog or post interpretations and opinions about the canons on websites (yet).