The Didache 17 – Do Not Add Or Subtract

This series is reflecting on the Didache if you want to read it separately.

You shall hate all hypocrisy and everything which is not pleasing to the Lord. Do not in any way forsake the commandments of the Lord; but keep what you have received, neither adding thereto nor taking away therefrom.

Hate hypocrisy. Hate all that is an act. I’m not a huge Casting Crowns fan, but I do think they captured something important in their song, Stained Glass Masquerade. I’m not even sure if the group who did this video around the song even knew the origin of the masks they used or just how appropriate they were to a discussion of what it means when we become actors rather than true human beings with one another.

“Stained Glass Masquerade”

Is there anyone that fails
Is there anyone that falls
Am I the only one in church today feelin’ so small

Cause when I take a look around
Everybody seems so strong
I know they’ll soon discover
That I don’t belong

So I tuck it all away, like everything’s okay
If I make them all believe it, maybe I’ll believe it too
So with a painted grin, I play the part again
So everyone will see me the way that I see them

Are we happy plastic people
Under shiny plastic steeples
With walls around our weakness
And smiles to hide our pain
But if the invitation’s open
To every heart that has been broken
Maybe then we close the curtain
On our stained glass masquerade

Is there anyone who’s been there
Are there any hands to raise
Am I the only one who’s traded
In the altar for a stage

The performance is convincing
And we know every line by heart
Only when no one is watching
Can we really fall apart

But would it set me free
If I dared to let you see
The truth behind the person
That you imagine me to be

Would your arms be open
Or would you walk away
Would the love of Jesus
Be enough to make you stay

However, even worse than the way acting or hypocrisy has embedded itself in the church is the reality that it is extremely hard to find any of the many schismatic branches who have not either added to the faith or subtracted from it. At this juncture in my exploration, I’m willing to say that if Orthodoxy has not traditioned that original faith without addition or subtraction, then it’s probably completely lost to us. I can trace places where every other tradition and schismatic Protestant tradition has either added something or subtracted something. Usually it’s multiple instances. And I can trace it back historically to when they did it. So far, I’ve not found any example of that in Orthodoxy. I’m hardly through looking though.

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