JUNE, 2003, Vol.
XXXVII, No. 6, (1525)
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
1. The Important Things Children Learn in School
2. Judging One's Neighbor
3. No Churches For "Fanatics"
4. Excerpt On the Creed
5. Appeal From Ascension Skete
6. Good News from Palm Coast, Florida
7. With a Wolf as a Shepherd
8. On The Cheirothesia Of The Matthewite Bishops
9. Methodist Theologian Announces New Ecumenism
The education of children will be one of the key issues in the next election cycle. This is as it should be. Our schools are failing to perform their most elementary assignment: teaching children to read, write, and do arithmetic.
Everyone agrees we have a serious problem. Everyone has been agreeing for decades, but we are apparently helpless to bring about necessary and obvious changes and reforms. Why?
There are two primary reasons: First, the federal government has progressively increased its control over the education of American children. There are several problems with this: It is unconstitutional, that is, if one assumes the 10th Amendment to the Constitution is still in place and Supreme Court justices know how to read; centralization stifles creativity and makes a mockery of the concept of neighborhood schools and parental rights; it is dangerous for the federal government to get involved in decisions about what values should be instilled in children and what values should be withheld from them; government schools, like most government institutions, are wallowing grounds for bureaucratic pork, bloat, and incompetence; and finally, government cannot resist the temptation to insert its political propaganda into the school curriculum.
The second reason is government unions, in particular teachers' unions. The growth of educational unions correlates almost perfectly with the decline in the quality and increase in the cost of public education.
In a nutshell, there is absolutely no way to avoid the conclusion that the children of America have been sold out. The largest and most powerful union in America, the National Education Association (NEA), has struck a Faustian deal with liberal politicians. The deal is this: In exchange for millions of dollars in campaign contributions, across-the-board support for all their candidates, and propagation of all their policies and agendas inside and outside the classroom, Democrats have agreed to protect the union's educational monopoly from competition, insulate it from reform, and reward its failures with increased funding.
But let's be fair. There's another side to the story of education in America. While a good case could be made that we are on the verge of being overrun by an avalanche of ignorance, it would not be entirely fair to say our kids are graduating empty-headed.
Perhaps it's time for an updated review of some of the important things our children have learned in government school classrooms:
While Johnny and Jill may not be learning how to read, they are learning that: teachers are underpaid, God is irrelevant, big business is ruining the environment, rewards should be based on need rather than performance, bisexual individuals are under the command of unstable genes, the Alamo was a great Mexican victory, society rather than the individual is responsible for crime, teachers are quite underpaid, Thomas Jefferson was a racist, two plus two equals whatever, competition is destructive, the right to be wrong makes wrong right, all rules and standards are mutable, God is a homophobe, porpoises are smarter than people, the Constitution requires the government to censor religious speech, taxes are the same as charitable contributions, boys and girls are exactly the same except for unimportant differences, it is loving to approve and reinforce the wrong in others, George Washington was a racist, rich people enjoy stomping on poor people, the condom is mightier than the conscience, Columbus infected the natives with syphilis, one person's opinion is as good as any other, the American Constitution was written by racists and sexists, teachers are grossly underpaid.
Also: Sex between consenting children is inevitable, all sexual orientations are created equal, religious people are bigots, in the beginning there was a big explosion, trees are important because money grows on them, the right to kill unborn babies is in the Constitution, it is un-American to have more possessions than someone else, the only hope of the world is for workers everywhere to unite, and it is the constitutional responsibility of government to provide jobs, housing, clothing, condoms, hot lunches, and medical care to all citizens.
An entire generation of children has been indoctrinated into mindsets that resonate with hedonistic socialism. When these children come of age, what choices will they make? What will be their view of government? When they assume positions of leadership, how will they change America?
The well-publicized 1983 report A Nation at Riskconcluded with this dire statement: "The educational foundations of our society are presently being eroded by a rising tide of mediocrity that threatens our very future as a nation and a people." Translation: There is a basic incompatibility between self-governance and a dumbed-down citizenry.
In his book The Outline of History, British author H.G. Wells observed, "Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe." This is a race America is losing.
If we do not despise little sins and think they are of no consequence to us, we shall not fall into great and grievous sins. Bad habits are formed in the soul by very small things ─ when we say, "What does this or that matter," ─ and it is the first step to despising great things. It is a great wrong to judge our neighbor. What sin is graver than this? What does God hate and turn away from so much as from this? And yet from things that appear negligible a man comes to great evil. For by accepting a suspicion against a neighbor, by saying, "What does it matter if I say this about him?" or "What does it matter if I find out this about him?" ─ one begins to forget about his own sins and to talk idly about his neighbor, speaking evil against him, despising him, and from this one falls into the very sins he is condemning in others. Because we become careless about our own faults and do not lament our sins, we lose the power to correct ourselves, and we are always at work on our neighbor. Nothing angers God so much or strips a man so bare or carries him so effectively to his ruin as slandering, condemning, or despising his neighbor....
Why are we so ready to judge our neighbor? Why are we so concerned about the burden of others' sins? We have plenty within ourselves to be concerned about; each one has his own debt and his own sins. It is for God alone to judge, to justify or condemn. He knows the state of each one of us ─ of our capacities, our deviations, and our gifts, our constitution and our preparedness ─ and it is for Him to judge each of these things according to the knowledge that He alone has. For God judges the affairs of a bishop in one way and those of a prince in another, the sick man one way, and the healthy man another. Who could understand all these judgments except the One Who has done everything, formed everything, knows everything? It happens that a man may do a certain thing, which seems to be wrong, out of simplicity, and there may be something about it which makes more amends to God than your whole life. How are you going to sit in judgment and constrict your own soul? And should it even happen that he has fallen away, how do you know how much and how well he fought, how much blood he sweated before he did it? Perhaps so little fault can be found in him that God can look on his action as if it were just, for God looks on his labor and all the struggle he had before he did it, and has pity on him. How do you know what tears he has shed about it before God? You may well know about the sin, but you do not know about the labor or the repentance....
Those who want to be saved scrutinize not the shortcomings of their neighbors, but always their own shortcomings and they set about eliminating them. Such was the man who saw his brother sinning and groaned, "Woe is me; him today ─ me tomorrow." Thus he aroused his own fear of sin and escaped judging his neighbor. And going further he said, "He has repented of his sin, but I do not always repent. I am never first to ask for forgiveness, and I am never completely converted." See the divine light in this man's soul?
But we judge rashly and indiscriminately and gossip about others. How can we act in this way unless it is because we have no true love? If we have true love with sympathy and patience, we shall not go about scrutinizing our neighbors' shortcomings. And that love should screen our neighbors' sins, as it did in the saints when they saw the shortcomings of men. Were the saints blind? Not at all: But they would not let themselves dwell on wrongs. Who hated sin more than they? But they did not hate the sinners or condemn them or turn away from them; but they suffered with them, admonished them, comforted them, and did all they could to heal them. Let us, therefore, strive to gain this love for ourselves. Let us acquire this tenderness towards our neighbor so that we may guard ourselves from judging and despising him.
Saudi Arabia Defense Minister Prince Sultan said that Saudi Arabia would never allow a church to be built in the kingdom, birthplace of Islam, reported the Associated Press on March 11.
"Those who talked [about churches in Saudi Arabia] are church people and they are, unfortunately, fanatics," Sultan told reporters on March 8. "We are not against religions at all ... but there are no churches ─ not in the past, the present, or the future.
"This country was the launch pad for the prophecy and the message, and nothing can contradict this, even if we lose our necks."
According to A.P., "Sultan said that foreigners have been allowed to worship freely in their homes since they began arriving in Saudi Arabia in 1951, but permitting a church in the country 'would affect Islam and all Muslims'."
The essence of Protestantism is the claim that every person without exception has the right to explain the Scriptures in his own way as best he can. Saint Peter's Second Epistle warns against such ideas. He says: "We have also a more steadfast word of prophecy, to which ye do well to take heed ... knowing this first, that no prophecy of the Scripture is of any private interpretation" (II Peter 1:19-20). In fact, the doctrine of universal competence to interpret Scripture means that theoretically there could be as many different Churches as there are people.
At the very heart of Protestantism, therefore, is planted in germ the popular modern idea that anyone can believe as he pleases, and on his own sole authority.
By our time, the earlier enthusiastic particularism of the Protestant sects has disappeared. They are mostly indistinguishable from one another, because freedom to believe as one pleases means freedom to believe in not very much. They all tend to believe as little as possible, and to subtract continually even from that little. So, inevitably the doctrine that each person can be his own supreme authority in religion is working itself out into sheer atheism for an increasing number of people. If it doesn't matter what church you belong to, how can it matter if you don't belong to any church at all? If it doesn't matter which or how many churches you reject, how can it matter if you reject them all? If it doesn't matter what you believe about Christ, how can it matter if you don't believe any thing at all about Him, or even if you deny that He ever existed, as many have done?
Of course, in their progress toward atheism people move without haste ─ they may begin with broad-minded questioning of the Virgin Birth of our Lord and not arrive at denial of the Resurrection until quite a while later.
To put the case plainly, for all minds that do not stop thinking, the reasoning that allows the doctrine that all are competent to interpret Scripture in due time comes the denial, first of Providence, and at last of God's own existence.
In the process of building and moving our Skete to Maine adjacent to Holy Transfiguration Monastery's already-existing Hermitage of the Holy Apostles, we have run into a major set-back.
The house built as our Skete is well on its way to completion in about 4 to6 weeks. The chapel, however, which was contracted with a person who already had built a chapel for one of the faithful who is a physician living not too far from the Hermitage and actually has been a patient of that physician for sometime and who agreed in a contract to build a similar chapel for our Skete. After much discussion about particulars we sent him the initial installment of 1/3 down (a sum of $20,000). He has since disappeared with our money, much to our surprise and that of the physician whose chapel he had already built. We have tried every means possible to make contact with him as have the police and other interested parties. We are readying ourselves to take this through the court system which could be lengthy and unproductive especially if the man has no assets. In the meantime we are unable to move into the Skete until such time as we find another contractor to build the chapel which entails building access (a ramp and deck) to the entrance of the house, which is otherwise inaccessible since the entrance by design is about 12' off the ground. We have contacted other contractors. All want more than the original bid. So, not only are we out the $20,000 that the initial contractor who fled defrauded us of, but we need to come up with about $30,000 more as well.
We have enough in the bank to cover our daily expenses but no more.
We hope that some kind souls will help us in our time of need.
Any contributions should be sent to
Holy Ascension Skete, P.O. Box 206, Mt. Holly Springs, PA 17065.
Our telephone number is 717 486-8074. We are very grateful for any consideration. Please keep us in your prayers!
6. GOOD NEWS FROM PALM COAST, FLORIDA
Dear Orthodox Faithful and Friends, Evlogeite!
On behalf of the faithful of the St. John of Kronstadt Orthodox Church, Palm Coast, Florida, we express our most warm and sincere gratitude to God and you for the numerous and generous donations we have received in response to our recent appeal. We are moved by the support from individuals, parish and monastic communities. We have met our goal and have purchased the property.
While our immediate need has been addressed, our appeal will remain open, as we seek to gather funds for a church building. We continue to receive donations, thank God.
Again, we thank you for your tremendous help. We also thank His Eminence, Metropolitan Ephraim, for his blessing and support. If you have not been able to help us financially, we would appreciate your support with your prayers and good thoughts. May our beloved father, St. John of Kronstadt, intercede for you and yours. Please be patient, as we seek to respond personally to each benefactor. We wish you all a most joyous Pascha.
Fr. Theodore Stavru, Presbyter; Michael Christus, Church Warden
The ignorance of Orthodox ecclesiology characteristic of the so-called Orthodox today, whether new or old calendarists, is sad and exceedingly depressing. The New Calendarists, because they do not feel their personal participation in the ecumenistic heresy of their Patriarchs and Archbishops; and the Old Calendarists, because they are afflicted with the western legalistic frame of mind of a clericalistic rationalism.
A typical example is the controversy between the two main jurisdictions of the so-called Genuine Orthodox Christians, the Matthewites and the Florinites.
As is known, the Matthewites separated from Chrysostom, the former Metropolitan of Florina, because he did not accept that the change of the calendar in 1924 instantaneously caused the demise of the New Calendar mysteries. Chrysostom died without leaving any successors as bishops, since he was disappointed in the ethical attainment of his clergy as well as their theological development. For years, these parishes remained without a bishop. In the meantime, the Matthewites had uncanonically ordained by one bishop a whole series of bishops and priests. They mocked their opponents, who had remained for years without a bishop, and called them headless, declaring that anyone who remains without a bishop, even for reasons of faith and Orthodoxy, is outside of the Church and is spiritually dead, like a headless corpse.
However, the Florinites reminded the Matthewites that if this theory were true, all the Old Calendar confessors for the Faith and Orthodox tradition were headless and corpses, since from 1924 when the calendar change was made, to 1935 when Metropolitan Chrysostom and two other metropolitans left the State Church and returned to the Old Calendar, all those priests and the people lived and worshipped God and served the Divine Liturgy without a bishop for eleven whole years.
We always wondered what the Matthewites could answer to that quashing argument. We saw it finally in their official publication Herald of the Genuine Orthodox, vol. 127, July, 1988, pp. 214-215.
The leaders of that headless and dead body, cruelly abandoned by Chrysostom, former Metropolitan of Florina, adduce many unfounded and ridiculous arguments to support the headlessness of their jurisdiction. They are supposedly trying to prove that there are occasions when a body may be headless, that is to say, without a head, brain, and mind. . . .
As an example of such an occasion, they presented injudiciously that confused and turbulent period immediately after the imposition of the New Calendar when the Genuine Orthodox Christian Old Calendarists apparently had no bishops.
But that occasion cannot be compared with the real reasons why the wretched jurisdiction of Chrysostom remained headless so many years. The reason [for the aforementioned occasion] is that the [New Calendar] schism did not happen automatically; it took years for it to become official.
After the explosion of the imposition of the New Calendar, a great confusion and disorder came upon the faithful.
In this confused and hazy condition, Orthodox hierarchs are considered not only those who did not accept the innovation, but also as many of the bishops who protested against the innovation and who strove to form a Synod to return to the Old Calendar, even if they had not opportunely separated themselves.... Moreover, when grievous wolves rush upon a flock of many sheep in the night at deepest dark, some of the sheep and shepherds are torn apart by the beast, others are scattered hither and yon! No one can condemn any remaining sheep who are left without a shepherd for a season. On account of the confusion and the darkness of the night it was not possible for sheep and shepherds even to gather together, let alone for shepherds to recognize the sheep, and for them to know their shepherd!
When we read these lines, we could not believe our eyes. Matthewites writing this, especially in their official organ? The foundation of the Matthewites schism was their theory that New Calendarists and as many as were in communion with them lost instantaneously the grace of the mysteries, they became profane and, of course, without bishops, immediately with the change of the Calendar in March of 1924. This was exactly the reason why they separated from Metropolitan Chrysostom, because he would not confess that monstrously rationalistic dogma. That is why they named him a traitor. This was also the reason they performed those unheard of and uncanonical ordinations of bishops by one bishop. But now what do we hear from them? The schism did not happen automatically; it took years for it to become official.... A great confusion and disorder came upon the faithful.... When grievous wolves rush upon the flock.... No one can condemn any remaining sheep who are left without a shepherd....
Do our beloved Matthewites really understand that with the publication of the above, they officially destroy both themselves and the reason for their existence? Do they understand that the mysteries of the Church cannot be put into the pigeonholes of rationalism and diagrams of time? Do they and all the westernizing clericalists like them of both New and Old Calendar understand that when the shepherds become grievous wolves, then the rational sheep, if they wish to remain rational and alive, flee and remain without a shepherd? Then no one can condemn them since, as St. Athanasius the Great wrote, If the bishop or presbyter should live evilly and scandalize the people, he must be cast out. For it is to our gain to assemble without him in a house of prayer rather than to be cast with him along with Annas and Caiaphas into the Gehenna of fire (PG 35:22).
Epignosis, issue 9, December 1988 Alexander Kalomiros
Some people have asked for a description of exactly what happened at the cheirothesia of the two Matthewite bishops at Holy Transfiguration Monastery in Brookline, Massachusetts on September 17 and 18, 1971. In the presence of the entire brotherhood and many laypeople as well as the Matthewite negotiator and spokesman, Chancellor Father Eugene Tombros Archbishop Philotheus of Hamburg, Germany and Bishop Constantine of Brisbane, Australia (both of the ROCOR) concelebrated with the monastery's clergy on September 17, 1971, and immediately after the Thrice-holy Hymn in the Divine Liturgy (that is, precisely at the point where the ordination of a bishop is normally performed), the Matthewite Bishop Kallistos of Corinth, who was only partially vested, was presented before the two above-mentioned hierarchs. The prayers that were read over him were the two secret prayers normally read at the ordination (consecration) of a bishop. These prayers (or, in the case of the cheirothesia of a priest, their equivalents in a priest's ordination service) are normally read at a cheirothesia. After these prayers were read, Bishop Kallistos was given the remaining articles of his vestments the omophorion, the panagia, the mitre and the bishop's staff to indicate that the prayers read over him had completed that which was lacking in his former, uncanonical "ordination", and that he now legitimately received these signs of his office. At this point, everyone in the church cried "Axios."
On September 18, 1971, Archbishop Philotheus and Bishop Constantine, together with Bishop Kallistos, performed exactly the same ceremony over the Matthewite Bishop Epiphanios of Kition, Cyprus.
At the end of the Divine Liturgy on September 18, the Matthewite Chancellor, Protopresbyter Eugene Tombros, gave a small speech thanking the two ROCOR hierarchs for "undertaking the sacred labor of love" to fulfill the ROCOR's Resolution of September 15/28, 1971 for the benefit of the Matthewite clergy and faithful in Greece, and affirming, that in the cheirothesia and validation of the two Matthewite hierarchs, "there was the descent of the Holy Spirit." Archimandrite Kalliopios of Greece tape-recorded this homily.
The concelebrants and witnesses of these two cheirothesiae (laying-on of hands) then signed the following document:
In fulfillment of the Sobor's decree dated 15/28 September, 1971,* we read the prayers with the laying-on of our hands upon His Grace Kallistos, Metropolitan of Corinth, on September 17/30, 1971, and on September 18/October 1 of the same year upon His Grace Epiphanios, Metropolitan of Kition, in the Monastery of the Transfiguration in Brookline, Mass.
After this we celebrated the Divine Liturgy with them.
Date: Sept. 18, 1971
If, as some maintain, the two Matthewite bishops had had only a prayer of forgiveness read over them, this would:
1) Not have required the presence of the two ROCOR bishops. One bishop would have sufficed for this.
2) Not have required that this be done during a Divine Liturgy. A simple prayer in church, at any time of the day, with no divine service at all, would have sufficed.
3) Not have required that each of the Matthewite bishops be corrected separately and individually, on two different days (since two candidates cannot be raised to the same rank in the same Divine Liturgy). They both could have been forgiven together at the same time, on the same day.
4) Not have required a Synodal resolution.
Some Matthewites claim that they have letters from St. Philaret of New York and Bishop Gregory Grabbe stating that a blessing was given and/or read over the Matthewite bishops. This, too, could very easily be understood in the proper and exact sense of the word: the two Matthewite bishops individually received something that they did not legitimately have before this: the blessing of the cheirothesia, the full blessing of a valid priesthood.
At this point, it should be noted that Bishop Epiphanios protested to Father Eugene Tombros over why the two bishops were to be regularized separately, in two Divine Liturgies. He was told that that was the decision of the Sobor of ROCOR bishops, and the decision could not be changed.
Bishop Epiphanios pointed out also that, upon returning to Greece, they had nothing in writing from the ROCOR bishops which could be presented to the other Matthewite bishops and clergy, as well as their faithful, affirming that the ROCOR was of one mind with them concerning the absence of sacramental grace among the innovating jurisdictions. He said that they would not be accepted without such a document. Archimandrite Panteleimon answered that all this should have been addressed while they were still meeting with the Sobor in New York City. When this request was conveyed by telephone to the ROCOR Synod in New York City, the Matthewite delegation received a letter from Metropolitan Philaret, stating that the ROCOR did not accept the calendar innovation of 1924 and never would accept it. No mention was made concerning the question of grace.
In a petition addressed to the ROCOR bishops, Bishops Kallistos and Epiphanios, and Protopresbyter Eugene Tombros, wrote "We submit our present petition unto Your Holy and Sacred Synod, and we are ready to accept its every decision [emphasis added] based always, upon the divine and sacred Canons" (See The Struggle Against Ecumenism, p. 88). It is necessary to point out that for more than a year before this written petition was submitted, communications had been initiated by the Matthewites with the ROCOR bishops with the hope of validating their irregular episcopal ordinations by one bishop. Acknowledging the ROCOR to be fully Orthodox, they presented the above-mentioned formal petition to the Russian Sobor, submitting themselves to be judged by a "Greater Synod."
O.C.W. Editor's Note: We are distributing this article not because we agree with its statements, but because it shows what the recent trends are in Ecumenistic circles. The author also rightly points out that the Ecumenism of the National Council of Churches and the World Council of Churches is "dated, dying, discredited and false." A noteworthy assessment, with which we agree wholeheartedly.
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The nation's foremost Methodist theologian has predicted the imminent death of the "old ecumenism" that is centered around the failing structures of mainline Protestantism. An emerging "new ecumenism," Tom Oden said, will depend on theologically orthodox evangelicals, Roman Catholics, and Eastern Orthodox who prefer "classic Christianity" to left-wing politics.
Recognizing that the old ecumenism is dying, Oden called for defunding the failing National and World Councils of Churches. "It is time to call the mainline denominations that are subsidizing the prolonged malingering of the National Council of Churches and World Council of Churches to withdraw their financial support altogether, and seek a new ecumenism grounded in classical ecumenical teaching."
A professor at Drew University in Madison, N.J., Oden is a renowned expert on the Early Church Fathers. And he is a United Methodist theologian widely respected in mainline Protestant, evangelical, and ecumenical circles. He served as one of Methodism's observers at Vatican 11.
Responding to Oden's remarks at a recent gathering in Washington, D.C., of the Institute on Religion and Democracy was Robert George, a prominent conservative Roman Catholic thinker and writer who teaches at Princeton University.
George agreed with Oden's analysis: "The 'old' ecumenism, though historically relatively new - indeed, much more recent than the 'new' ecumenism is old precisely because it is dated, and dying because [it is] discredited; discredited because false."
"The depth of Dr. Oden's faith, the rigor of his scholarship, and his courageous willingness to defy the established orthodoxy [sic] of the divinity schools, the church bureaucracies, and the National and World Councils of Churches have been an inspiration to me and many, many others," George said.
Oden sharply contrasted the old ecumenism with the new. The old is identified with the National and World Councils of Churches, both founded after World War II. The new has no central bureaucracy but is found throughout an informal network of orthodox [sic] Christians throughout the world.
The old ecumenism took a radical turn in the 1960s, focusing on "revolutionary rhetoric, social engineering, and statist planning schemes," Oden said. The new ecumenism is critical of failed modern ideas and is deliberately grounded in ancient ecumenism [O.C.W. Editors: found where?].The old is preoccupied with rapid social change, while the new is "keenly aware of the recalcitrance of sin."
According to Oden, the old ecumenism sought unity in shifting political alliances. The new seeks unity in Christ. The old began with the founding of the World Council of Churches in 1948. The new, Oden humorously noted, began with the Council of Jerusalem in the First Century. [O.C.W. Editors: But at that time, all belonged to the One Church]. The old peaked in the 1960s. The new reached its apogee with the seven great ecumenical councils of ancient Christianity [O.C.W. Editors: There have been many, many Orthodox Councils since then!]. The old is dying. The new ecumenism is emerging.
Oden said the "terminal illness" of the old ecumenism is traced to its conviction that the Body of Christ depends largely upon "human ingenuity, rhetoric, and cleverness," while fixated on negotiation, management, and political action. With much different goals, the new ecumenism does not presume to control the work of the Holy Spirit.
The new ecumenism is already widely dispersed among Protestant, Catholic, and Orthodox believers, not as an organizational expression of institutional union, but a movement of the Spirit, Oden said. The old ecumenism was largely a "liberal Protestant artifact," with Orthodoxy always as a "frustrated minority partner."
The old ecumenism was "embarrassed" by allegedly sexist language about God the Father and God the Son," Oden remarked. It appealed constantly to "Marxist social location analysis and psychoanalytic theories of religion." It looked for humanistic explanations of the mysteries of the Incarnation and Resurrection and Holy Trinity.
In a very different approach, the new ecumenism honors "cumulative historical consensus," maintains a high doctrine of Scripture, and adheres to a consensual doctrine of the atonement and the Resurrection and the return of the Lord. [O.C.W. Editors: This one sentence alone should make us wring our hands over this new ecumenism!]
Politically, the old ecumenism was committed to liberation theologies, feminist theologies, sexual liberal advocacy, and egalitarianism, Oden said. The embryonic new ecumenism has a growing commitment to the defense of free societies, an incremental view of social change, plausible arguments supporting a free market, and is committed to classic Christian moral reasoning.
The old ecumenism was preoccupied with "negotiation skills, tolerant expression of feelings, and the sharing of political goals," Oden noted. The new ecumenism is based on Christian truth, not deliberate compromise.
Oden observed that the old ecumenism is collapsing from boredom and neglect. Meanwhile, the Holy Spirit is renewing the church worldwide [?!], fostering unity among previously divided orthodox Christians, encouraging the martyrs who endure persecution, undercutting the false teachings of narcissism, hedonism, autonomous individualism, and oppressive totalitarian statism [as well as papism and private interpretationism?].
Responding to Oden, Robert George agreed with him that the Holy Spirit is already far advanced in "creating unity in the Church, far beyond our poor attempts." The Holy Spirit is creating Christian unity in "soup kitchens and crisis pregnancy centers, in classrooms and boardrooms in the defense of human life and the struggle for religious freedom."
"As a Catholic panelist, I suppose that I am expected to say something critical from a Catholic perspective of the work of a Methodist theologian," George said. "I'm afraid I must disappoint this expectation." The theological issues that divide Protestants and Catholics are still important, he admitted. "But when I think in terms of 'us,' I cannot imagine 'us' not including Dr. Oden or Charles Colson or Bill Bright or James Dobson or countless other Protestant believers whose fidelity to the ancient creeds and moral principles of Christian faith has been proven on the battlefields of the culture war. There is a profound unity among us."
O.C.W. Editors' Note: The only answer to all these interesting and purely personal opinions is still one: the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church the Holy Orthodox Church.
NEW ADDITIONS TO THE BOOK CENTER
* See The Struggle
Against Ecumenism, Holy Orthodox Church in North America, Boston,
89-98, for the full text of this remarkable Resolution of 15/28
1971. Although signed by the Secretary of the Synod, Bishop Laurus, it
actually composed by Bishop Gregory Grabbe of Manhattan.