Part Three from the “Becoming Orthodox” blog.
This is part of a series of posts highlighting reasons why I am converting to the Orthodox Church. These reasons are posted in no particular order. Some are big, important reasons; others may be small, wonderful but non-essential reasons. I hope they offer food for thought.
As I learned about the early church and the ecumenical councils that helped shape Christian doctrine and drive out false teachings, I realized that the church had long ago addressed the issues that Christians today still grapple with. Arianism, gnosticism, and other heresies had already been addressed and a determination made. It was of imperative importance to determine which beliefs were true and which were heretical because Christ founded one Church, and it was important to keep true, right beliefs within that Church.
Without the right belief – what really is the point? One must understand who Christ is and what He taught. If our goal is to know God and to be like Him, then we must know who He is.
Fr. Andrew Stephen Damick put it like this in his excellent podcast on Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy:
If there really is a God, then who He is and what He wants from us is more important than anything else.
If we adopt a consumer-style understanding of faith, where various options are offered as a sort of religious buffet where the choice is left up to the consumer, then the logical conclusion is that beliefs about God are not very important – we can pick and choose as we like.
As I began learning about Orthodoxy, I realized that within Protestantism there is a high degree of accepted relativism. One could be a Presbyterian, another a Baptist, another a Pentecostal.
They all have very different beliefs. They all see God in a different light. We can even go so far as to say that they are all worshiping a different version of God, which causes one to wonder if these groups are even talking about the same God. Some of them have beliefs or influences that were condemned as heretical by the early church. And yet we are supposed to accept the idea that they are all still part of the same “church?” The Church that Jesus founded? If the Church is the body of Christ, how can you have one part of the body doing one thing, and another part doing a completely different thing? We can’t all be part of one body when we are clearly disjointed in our beliefs.
I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name—the name you gave me—so that they may be one as we are one. John 17:11
Many evangelicals will say
“all that matters is that you believe in Jesus and that He died for you.”
This is extremely simplistic and one who makes this kind of statement will quickly run into problems. Who is Jesus? Was He God? Was He man? Who is God? What is His character? How can we know Him? How does Jesus relate to God the Father and the Holy Spirit? How does one understand the Trinity? What does it mean to be a Christian? And on. And on. And on. There is so much more than just “believe in Jesus.”
I am only interested in right belief, true belief – why would I accept anything less? Jesus said that the Truth would set us free, and I want the whole Truth. We left Protestantism because it represents only a piece of the puzzle, and not the fullness of faith that we were looking for.
Fr. Andrew says
This post is (in Internet terms) ancient history now, I know, but I thought some might be interested to know that Conciliar Press is due to release the Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy book in May 2011.