I am responding to Father Wilcoxson’s column of Dec. 29. In it, he leaves no doubt that he believes the Orthodox church must be the “true” Christian church. Why? Because firstly he claims Orthodoxy never experienced the “rupture” that evolved from Roman Catholicism and the many denominations that followed. Secondly, by observing certain days, traditions, etc. found in Orthodox calendars, one would be less likely to break the 10 Commandments or embrace those who do (either in or outside the church).
Per the first, I recall from history a slight rupture that occurred in the 17th Century in the Orthodox Church. That’s when the Old Believers separated from the official Russian Orthodox Church in protest against reforms introduced by Patriarch Nikon. To this day, there are Old Believers who have not yet returned to the Orthodox communion, presumably because they view the latter as still being heretical. Also, since the 1920’s there has been a True Orthodoxy movement, which rejects the Patriarch of Constantinople. It has broken off into separate communions over ecumenism and (surprise!) calendar reform.
Per the second, he is right in there doesn’t seem to be much difference between the lifestyles of many Christians and nonbelievers. However, this is because humanity is by nature sinful and unclean (ie., it inherently misses the mark). Indeed, by reading the Epistles you can see that both mankind and the problems experienced in the church and society were exactly the same as those faced now. The Epistles also say how to deal with such issues as they arise, and I don’t recall following strict calendars as being one of the answers.
So is the Orthodox Church the “true” one whose calendar we should follow, etc.? The answer is no. There is only one “true” and it’s the Bible. It’s the inherent word of God, which gives us the law, documents that we break it, and shares that through faith in our Savior Jesus Christ, we can have grace and eternal life and be saved.
Faith alone, grace alone, scripture alone.