God Led Me Into His Church: Part 6

by Fr. Geoff Harvey

Growth

Joining the Church was only the start of a wonderful journey of discovery.

Archbishop Paul had me undertake three years of Orthodox theological training. I learned by correspondence with the Antiochian Village in America, which offered the St. Stephen’s Diploma of Orthodox Studies. That was brilliant. I discovered that there are many subtle theological shifts I needed to get my head around. I had no difficulty accepting them all.

During that training I realised a really fundamental shift in my focus. As an Anglican, I had set out to learn the answer to the question,

“What is the truth?”

Anglicanism offers a body of rational truth as the centre-point of the Christian experience. Yet as an Orthodox, I came to realise that at the centre of the universe is an Invitation to a Loving Relationship. Abstract truth is not the focus, a Personal God is.

One thing about Orthodoxy that really struck me is in whose Name people pray. Coming from Anglicanism, all the prayers end with,

“In Jesus’ name. Amen.”

But in the Orthodox church, every prayer ends with,

“in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.”

I came to see that this shift makes a profound difference.

In Anglicanism, some people are focused on Jesus, some people are focused on the Holy Spirit, and some on God the Father. Those who focus on Jesus are evangelical. Those who focus on the Holy Spirit are charismatic. Those who focus on the Father are more into the creation and environmental causes. Consequently the Anglican church is divided along those lines. The focus on different aspects of the godhead is part of what gives rise to such divisions. The Anglican communion is heavily divided along Evangelical, Charismatic and Liberal lines, and there is also a divide between high church and low church.

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Within Orthodoxy, we just don’t see any of this. The Orthodox don’t have this fracturing, because every prayer invokes the Trinitarian Name. Orthodox worship encompasses the entirety of the godhead and the fullness of the faith which keeps everyone together.

 

Part 7 can be read HERE

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