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Fancy Words

As a college student during the first Gulf War in 1990 I recall all my friends and I being ‘glued’ to the TV watching CNN reporting nonstop from across the globe. Every time we had the chance, we would watch the reports and speeches about the war. I remember that we had to watch the actual speech instead of the news. We wanted to decide for ourselves what was being said, rather than being told by a news anchor what some general said. Over the years I still believe the same thing. It is even more true in the Church.

I have been asked why I feel so strongly about having an online ministry. “Aren’t you worried about people might say about your sermons?” This is a common question to which I answer, “No. At least they hear what I say from my lips instead of what someone says I said.”

The nuance of faith can be easily misunderstood when shared across different people and different generations. Context changes our understanding of any speech. What we understand today can be quite the opposite of what we understood generations ago.

This is why the Church is so careful to remain faithful to the teachings of the Holy Apostles. It is why it requires three bishops to ordain one bishop. It is why Holy Icons must teach the theology of the Church rather than being some sort of free expression of art. These combine to protect the teachings and faith of Christ from being misunderstood, or even twisted by fancy speeches.

Brethren, I want you to know how greatly I strive for you, and for those at Laodicea, and for all who have not seen my face, that their hearts may be encouraged as they are knit together in love, to have all the riches of assured understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, of Christ, in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. I say this in order that no one may delude you with beguiling speech. For though I am absent in body, yet I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good order and the firmness of your faith in Christ. As therefore you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so live in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.

Colossians 2.1-7

In today’s teaching from Saint Paul, we understand that there were those ‘way back then’ who also led people astray with their words. There were false teachers. Worse than those who taught against Christ are those who pretend to speak for Him, but with twisted teachings.

Internet Orthodoxy is not immune to this problem. As the saying goes, anyone can post anything on the internet. There are some (or many depending on your perspective) on the ‘Orthosphere’ who tally canons like generals tally bullets.

Kneel in just the wrong place at just the wrong time and you are declared a heretic. Eat meat on the wrong day and face general’s court marshal. I won’t get into all the examples here, but suffice it to say, just because a canon from centuries ago is not being ‘properly enforced according to your standards’ does not mean the Church has been abandoned.

The best option you have when you think you are the ‘new’ Saint Mark of Ephesus, is to humble yourself. Run to your spiritual father and confess your pride. Stop going down every internet rabbit hole of the ‘Orthosphere’ and return to icons and beg for forgiveness. Chances are pretty good that you are not smarter than the Church you attend. You might not like reading that, but it is true. Neither of us are.

There are plenty of fancy blogs and YouTube videos out there to reinforce your delusion. Take Saint Paul’s advice. This is another reason the Church has always maintained (using modern terms) credentials for teachers and preachers.

I have a bishop. My bishop is accountable to a synod, which is accountable to a global Church. Before you listen to the ‘latest and greatest’ YouTube rant on how the Church has abandoned Holy Orthodoxy, consider the credentials of the author AND producer. Otherwise it is just a bunch of fancy words.


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