There’s an ongoing conversation in which I find myself involved. It’s ongoing because my Orthodox friends find my opinion so outrageous, they remain busy trying to change my mind. My error is I’m not convinced that Christians who are not Orthodox should necessarily convert to the Orthodox Church. Because my argument against Orthodoxy is multifaceted, my detractors tend to latch on to a single idea rather than considering it as a whole. And this is not necessarily their fault. In the heat of discussion, it’s difficult to present a complete argument rather than getting bogged down in the details.
On the other hand, some non-Orthodox who have asked me to help sort out their doubts about Orthodoxy understand the main thrust of my argument immediately. It frames their doubts in a manner that explain several things which individually seem trifling but taken as a whole are unsettling.
The core of my argument is that both the Eastern Church (that is, Orthodoxy) and the Western Church have abandoned the incarnation, but in very different ways. As a result, “the true church” (as we Orthodox like to think of ourselves) has run off the rails because it has messed with the core principle of “God with us” (that is, incarnation) and that profoundly affects “us with God” (that is, salvation).
There is a question I don’t address in this essay. History would strongly indicate the flaw is fatal within Protestantism. The Protestant communions will stagger and stumble to an eventual oblivion because of their abandonment of the core of Christianity. I don’t think the flaw is fatal within Orthodoxy and it will likely recover its theological center. But, the problem is that at the moment it steadfastly refuses to repent of her sin. In spite of the fatal flaw within Protestantism, is becoming a part of an unrepentant church a real solution? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. As is often the case with persistent and flagrant sin, there are no easy answers to this dilemma.
This is a long essay, entitled “Church, Culture, and Incarnation,” and will probably not interest a lot of people. I’ve therefore limited the blog post to this introduction with links to the essay. It can be found in two formats.
The HTML (web page) format, found at http://justanotherjim.com/ortho3/church-culture-incarnation.php, is over at my old, archived web site and therefore has the appearance of the old JAJ, roosters and all.
I’ve also provided a PDF file at http://justanotherjim.com/ortho3/church-culture-incarnation.pdf. I know some of my readers don’t like reading longer essays on the computer screen. The six page PDF is in standard page format and is printable.