In my last post I mentioned that I was largely ignorant of modern Orthodoxy. I did not, of course, mean that I was ignorant of its existence. I knew of the Russian Church and the Greek Church. I knew something of the Ecumenical Patriarch. I had had some Greek Orthodox acquaintances. For some strange reason, though, I had never mentally connected the ancient writers and councils I had studied to the modern Orthodox Church. I can’t really say that I thought much about them at all, but to the extent I did, I suppose I thought of that tradition as some sort of eastern Catholic similar to the Roman Catholic Church.
Once I became aware of my error of omission, of course, I set about correcting it. It’s been an illuminating and very helpful journey. I don’t know that I would say I have developed a different view of God than I had three and a half years ago, though I have certainly extended and deepened many beliefs. I had long since tried on and abandoned as untenable many of the typical Protestant beliefs about God. Those beliefs were largely historically and culturally rooted in the last few hundred years and many of them had no connection at all to anything recognizable in the cultures that gave us the New Testament, much less the ancient Jewish Scriptures.
However, much of my understanding and experience of God (in no small part developed from reading the ancient writings of the Church) seemed so unlike what either the Protestant or Catholic traditions had to say about God. As a result, I tended to question it and tried to hold it at some length. I also largely kept my thoughts to myself on topics ranging from ‘original sin’ to ‘hell’ to the nature of our salvation in and through Christ.
The Orthodox, in their theology, describe the God I love, or at least want to love. They describe a God worth loving and offer a theology worthy of the dignity of the human soul. I didn’t encounter new ideas as much as I found a freedom to truly embrace the God I thought I was coming to know and love. And I remain incredibly grateful for that gift. I feel as though a great weight has been lifted from shoulders.
I prayed, “Lord Jesus have mercy on me,” for years and had no idea that the prayer itself would be a vehicle of his mercy.