Learn the Way of God More Accurately
In a society that lifts individuality and promotes self-reliance, it can be difficult to promote the Orthodox Church as the true Church. Since just about everyone can read, unlike the ancient days, everyone has received the gift of being able to read the Holy Scriptures on their own. The problem is, they don’t stop at reading on their own. They also interpret on their own.
Self-interpretation might be one of the most dangerous aspects of modern Christianity. We read a passage, and WE get to decide what God is telling us. This is not the ancient tradition and teaching of the Church led by the Holy Apostles. When asked if he understood what he was reading, the Ethiopian Eunuch said to Saint Philip, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” (Acts 8.31) The two sat together and the Eunuch was eventually baptized.
IN THOSE DAYS, when Paul had landed at Caesarea, he went up and greeted the church, and then went down to Antioch. After spending some time there he departed and went from place to place through the region of Galatia and Phrygia, strengthening all the disciples. Now a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesos. He was an eloquent man, well versed in the scriptures. He had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in the spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus, though he knew only the baptism of John. He began to speak boldly in the synagogue; but when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him and expounded to him the way of God more accurately. And when he wished to cross to Achaia, the brethren encouraged him, and wrote to the disciples to receive him. When he arrived, he greatly helped those who through grace had believed, for he powerfully confuted the Jews in public, showing by the scriptures that the Christ was Jesus.Acts 18.22-28
In this passage from Acts, we hear about Apollos who had to ‘prove’ his teaching was correct. He was corrected by Priscilla and Aquila, and then introduced to the Church. There was no place for self-interpretation for Apollos. There should no place for self-interpretation for modern Christians. For more than two thousand years the Church has been loyal to the teachings of the Holy Apostles. We have been corrected when we were wrong and confirmed when we were correct.
An excellent book, as I have often recommended, to consider this issue from a modern perspective is, “Thirsting for God in a Land of Shallow Wells” by Matthew Gallatin. In this book, the author shares his journey in coming to terms with the reality that it is not possible that every interpretation of God is correct. Someone must be wrong, and he realizes in a moment of clarity that HE might be the one who is incorrect.
In celebrating Theophany the past week, we were reminded daily that Christ revealed Himself as God. He didn’t reveal Himself to be like God, but to BE God. From that moment in the Jordan, the Church has fought to defend the correct belief about God. Look around and you will see many different interpretations of God. Remember Apollos and consider the journey of Matthew Gallatin. Not every interpretation can possibly be correct. Then…..allow the Church to teach you the way of God “more accurately.”