Protestant Orthodox

protestants

 

 

 

 

 

I spent forty years of my life as a Protestant and twenty of those as a Protestant minister. Sometimes I would ask,  “Are you Catholic or Protestant?” (This was long before I knew that there was a third option). If the reply was “I am a Protestant”, I would respond “Well, what do you protest?” Occasionally, the person was knowledgeable, but most often the response to my question was a blank stare. At least it meant that they were’t Catholic. I’ve been Orthodox for over 20 years. Now I ask “Are you Orthodox or Protestant or Catholic?”

A recent study conducted by the Orthodox Church of America and the Greek Archdiocese revealed some disturbing realities. When asked what was essential in Orthodoxy, the majority answered that belief in Christ as the son of God, and belief in his presence in the Eucharist was all that mattered.  I might conclude then that if belief is all that is essential, Orthodoxy differs little from Protestantism.

Protestant Orthodox?  Yes, we do protest a lot. Allow me to illustrate.

The word “Orthodoxy” means “right praise.” To be Orthodox is to be in worship.  The Church provides a cycle of worship experiences that are designed to teach us, to encourage us, and to draw us closer to God.

I protest! I have to work. I have children. Its the only day I have off and I need to do so many things around the house. I have company coming. The service is too long. I can’t come to mid-week services. The choir isn’t too good. Not that many people attend.  I’ve heard it all before, many times. I’m busy. I’ve been invited to a party. Its Superbowl Sunday. The garden needs work. Its easier for priests because that’s their job.

Prayer is intimate communion with God, and such communion changes the one praying. There can be no real spiritual growth without prayer. The Church has given to us a rule of prayer which contains the prayers of Saints. These prayers have proven to be effective in overcoming sin, defeating spiritual enemies, and deepening our communion with God. We should keep a prayer rule.

I protest! The prayers are too long. The rule is obviously meant for monastics. I can’t do them all, so I don’t do any of them. My mind wanders. I get bored. I get distracted.  It seems mechanical. I can pray my own prayers when I want to pray. A rule is just too confining and rigid.

Orthodoxy teaches the importance of fasting. Besides bringing great physical and spiritual benefit, it helps us to prepare for the great feasts of the Church. Many Saints tell of the benefit of fasting, and even the Lord Jesus spoke of the necessity for it. The Church has developed a rule for fasting that  provides a pattern that makes fasting successful. We should keep the fasting rule.

I protest! I have to work. I have to go to school. My stomach hurts. I get a headache. I can’t live without meat. I’m too weak. I always fail.  The children don’t like fasting food. Can we at least eat cheese?

Orthodoxy teaches the importance of study, especially the study of the Holy Scriptures. The Scriptures are inspired; that is, through them we experience the life giving breath of God and we encounter the light of Christ. We also have the writings of the Saints who teach us how to be a true disciple and how to walk the path of salvation. The Church offers opportunities to attend studies, and  libraries are filled with books. We should  study our Faith.

I protest! I don’t like to study. I don’t have time to study. I went to Church on Sunday, so I’m not going again. I read too slowly. Father is not a good teacher. I don’t understand what I’m reading, especially when I read the Bible. I know all I need to know. Besides, knowledge makes you proud, only love matters.

The Church teaches the importance of tithing, giving regularly to the Church. Such support is vital to the successful work of the church. Tithing is essential to our own spiritual well being and, if we believe the Bible, it is even essential to our financial well-being. For these reasons, the Church asks us to tithe.

I protest! I’m between jobs. Do you know how bad the economy is? I have too much consumer debt (I tithe to the bank).  I need a new car, new clothes, new etc. I can’t promise anything because I don’t know what tomorrow will bring. I’ll give when I can. Let me open my wallet. Ah… here’s a fiver!

There are other things that are a part of the Faith like regular confession, community, and service, but I think you get the drift.  Is it any wonder that the local parish struggles so much? Yet, if all that is important is that you believe, I guess none of the rest matters.

Protestant Orthodox.  It must be a large church.

One Response to “Protestant Orthodox”

  1. padrerichard Says:

    Reblogged this on padrerichard.

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