Quote:Watch for those low flying porcine creatures.
Dear John, Dear All,
As we might consider the subject of a Generous Orthodoxy by way of Christ's priestly prayer in John 17, it occurs to me that I might be coming at this whole question of unity and being one in Christ exactly backwards.
While for quite sometime I have thought that the possibility of a top down solution to the various dilemmas that surround this question is to be equated to the saying 'when pigs fly,' and in this sense the priestly prayer of Christ will manifest itself only as an eschatological event, I would like to suggest now that this is not the case. Or in an attempt to distil this down a bit, if I would ask, "Who is the Church?" and we could all agree that the Church is the Body of Christ, then we could also say that those who comprise the one Body of Christ are those who are one with Christ just as He is one with the Father.
And, from here I think we would necessarily move to a consideration of a mystical bond which would have to consider the Kingdom of God which is in the here and now, the inner kingdom. Although it is common for certain individual groups to lay claim to this ground, and to sit in the seat of the gate keeper, this inner kingdom is not restricted to any one tradition or any one Orthodox culture. In this sense this common ground is what defines a Generous Orthodoxy which does not seek to ignore the prayer of Christ that we would all be one in Him.
And, what I am stumbling toward here John is along the lines of something I read in one of your posts on this website in another thread. You said something about how folks sometimes comment that they don't do enough (possibly speaking of a local visible body or a particular Orthodox group), and then you followed that up with something like we need to realize that the 'they' are you and I.
Whereby, I am considering today that entrance into the domain of Christ, our King, simply cannot be blocked by anyone regardless of their particular Orthodoxy. For example, if I say I am an Eastern Orthodox and all of you Oriental Orthodox are apostate and can by no means enter the Kingdom of Heaven . . . at the end of the day, so what? Or, let me kick this up a notch or two, for another example, if a Bishop somewhere in my tradition would say the same thing, again, so what? Or, turn it around if you like, vice-versa, the same result so what? Any OO reading this EO fist shaking and ground stomping would rightly just move on, possibly a bit annoyed for having wasted time, but still there would most likely be a simple moving beyond this in a continuation of a working out of one's salvation for oneself--a continued aspiration for communion and union with God on the Path of Christ in the inner Kingdom. There would be a continuation of the walk of faith in the commandments of God in the hope of abiding in Christ on an increased basis.
In this sense, it occurs to me now that the priestly prayer is being fulfilled in the here and now, it is being realized at the present by those who are able to transcend the fist shaking and the rhetoric of those who would divide what Orthodoxy by its very nature and boundaries is designed to Unite. And, further along these lines, and somewhat ironically as we might consider some who would seek to end all conversations eventually by exclaiming that it is all so mystical that it cannot be understood by those who do not have eyes to see and ears to hear, this is really the case, in the end, as it relates to a common ground for those who are disciples of Christ, for those who abide in Him and He in them.
So, while I am not changing my mind about the possibility of a top down solution to the problem here, I think I am saying that in some ways there is no problem or this unity that is spoken of in John 17 is not to be viewed exclusively as an eschatological event whereby the likelihood of it happening in the here and now is akin to when porcine creatures fly. And, while it might appear that I am the one who has decided to close his eyes and put his fingers in his ears and hum a few bars of something, this is not the case. For any who do not have their heads stuck in the sand, it is very easy to see the rank particularism and true division that does exist within the body of Christ. But, in this seeming call for a transcendence of all divisions in Christ, with the eyes wide open, there is a tandem call for a loving response to those who cannot see or will not see this common ground which does exist in the now, in the present.
But, again, even with this approach (viz. not an eschatological event, but here today, and now this very minute), again I think that we are right back to the question of authority and the question love. As stated earlier, love is the supreme ontological predicate of the Trinity and as they are One we are to also be One. So our response to those, even those in positions of authority, is a marker. We are not responsible for the response of others to a pointing to a common ground in which Christ is at the center; but, we are responsible for ourselves. But, again love is an indicator and a boundary marker according to the Book of First John.
And, also, I would wonder at this point just as my examples above show that at the end of the day there is a moving beyond what would seek to bring division in the Body of Christ, how are even some individual councils within Orthodoxy exempt from this same thing? Because particularism is particularism regardless of what Community it would divide (or be used by others as a vehicle of division).
But, then again, who even wants to think like this let alone hear such thinking presented? Most folks find security and have their felt needs met within the systems to which they subscribe and prescribe. Most folks are just trying to get by each day, one day at a time and really just don't want anyone to rock the boat. To which it occurs to me that when Peter got up and stepped out of the boat that one day with his gaze fixed on Jesus, he didn't realize his goal completely . . . things didn't go exactly as he had hoped they would, but at least he was willing to get out of the boat. Sometimes the actions of Peter draw a smile as they are presented from the pulpits on Sundays, but I am not so sure that we don't need to see more Peters in our day, although I'm not so sure that we don't see a few here in this discussion community.