Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Throwing Out What I Thought I Knew

Elizabeth Esther has again hit the nail on the head with her post "Wait. What?  Catholics are Christians too?" .  Ohhhh, I can so relate to what she has written here.  Two years ago, I didn't know anything about Orthodoxy... but I thought I did.

For example:

  • Orthodox Christians believe in a false gospel.  
  • Orthodox Christians are just Catholics without a Pope
  • They worship Mary 
  • Icons are idols and violate the second commandment
  • Mystery is baaaaaaaaad
  • They believe in transubstantiation (they don't) so they believe they are eating the actual Body and drinking the actual Blood of Christ
I'm ashamed of myself and thank GOD I've been forgiven and absolved of that sinful and presumptuous attitude.  I made judgments based on what I thought I knew or what I had been told about it.  I definitely believed that anything distinctively Roman Catholic was heretical and that while there were some Roman Catholics who were "saved", Rome as a whole taught a false gospel and was therefore leading millions astray.  And since Orthodoxy sort of looks like Roman Catholicism, I just lumped them in with the Catholics.

And then, my friend and (now former) wife to my pastor told me she was looking into Orthodoxy for real.  I was FORCED to read primary sources.  I had to learn for myself what they believed so I could argue her out of converting.  Just like a good Calvinist... arguing about *everything.*  Eventually, I had confront what I thought I knew about Orthodox Christianity and ask myself if I was guilty of mis-characterization and judgmentalism (I was).  When I realized that I actually knew next to nothing about it, I decided to throw out everything- my misconceptions and my Calvinism- so that I could learn with objectivity.  I maintained my Christian world view, but I didn't start with the assumption that Orthodox Christianity was false.  I mean, there has to be something to a Christian Tradition which has been around since Pentecost and maintained remarkable continuity of doctrine and worship in all times everywhere.  Protestantism and even Roman Catholicism can't make those claims.  I think that attitude - looking at Orthodoxy as objectively as possible and NOT starting with the assumption that it was a false system or that I needed to find out how to disprove it- made all the difference.


  1. Yeah. me to. I let it judge me instead of me judging it and when I read the Early Church Fathers with that attitude, this Mennonite became Orthodox.

  2. What about, if it looks remotely Pagan, it must *be* Pagan, and therefore be bad. It couldn't be that an acknowledgement of mystery and the partaking in tradition helps connect the human consciousness to God on a deeper level. No, that would be....Pagan.

    /end sarcasm

  3. @Anne- i hope its obvious by now that this is not at all my attitude. I know you're being sarcastic. Just wanted to be clear though. I'm not a big fan of the genetic fallacy as soooo many fundamentalists are.

    @Alana- I love the way you put that... letting it judge me instead of the other way around. Very well said.