I appreciate your honesty when you say, as I do as well:
Quote:I have also thought about these things for a long time without coming to firm conclusions.
I think we need to know that it is okay to say we don't know, more than we do. It does not make one an agnostic to say that he or she does not know all the ways of God. But, as you begin to develop, as John has said, a definition of a Generous Orthodoxy in the following:
Perhaps we should not think in terms of God's anger that someone is a Baptist, even a Baptist Pastor, but should understand that He is filled with love for that person and wishes them to experience more of Himself.
You direct our attention to the inner man:
Quote:Just as a cradle Orthodox must also make steps in their pilgrimage and must embrace as their own what is at first just an external spiritual environment which they may well fail to interiorise.
and then you suggest, very well I think:
Quote:which suggests to me that it is the journey, the pilgrimage, which counts, not the bare label.
that it *is* the journey, the pilgrimage, the process which counts. Yes, it is the direction that one is heading that will determine where one ends up. For some, there needs to be a moving on down the road, for others a turning around or a turning from, but I think you very well describe an aspect of a Generous Orthodoxy here which recognizes the value in the statement, "It's not so much your perfection as it is your direction" (assuming none of us has arrived or apprehended that for which he or she has been apprehended).
So thank you Peter when you conclude:
Is the Baptist and Brethren communion a means of grace? I believe so. Is the Orthodox Eucharist the reality of which these other practices is a shadow? I believe that also. But the latter truth does not mean that the former practice is without value.
because while we will never have firm conclusions in all areas, as if we have become God's counselor (God forbid!), through your pen we can see value leading to a greater value; Grace leading to a Greater Grace.
Thank you for writing to us while you are on the road yourself, for being a tool in the hand of God for this fellow traveler. May you and your family have a joyful and blessed time away together and a safe journey home.