To Whom Shall I NOT Speak?

Rembrandts Christ Preaching

Rembrandt's Christ Preaching

My post on an Orthodox Christian witness to the environmental movement has generated an interesting (if at times disturbing)  conversation in the comment section on AOI. I’d encourage people to go over to take a look and maybe,if so moved, to offer their own thoughts on the matters under discussion.  You can read my post and the comments here.

Especially reading some of the comments there, I become more convinced that it part of the pastoral work of the priest is to be a zealous advocate and supporter of the personal vocation of others.  As I pointed out in an earlier post here on totalitarianism in the Church, and again in my most recent AOI comment, I fear that there is a growing tendency among some Orthodox Christians to work against the idea that by virtue of our baptism, we all of us have a unique, personal vocation.  In its place of the there are some who seem to desire a conformity and a narrow and rigid style of Orthodox witness.

In any event, please do take a look at the conversation on AOI and at the part of my own offering that I have quoted below my signature.

In Christ,

+Fr Gregory

Where I must strongly disagree, however, is with those who argue that Orthodox Christians ought not to participate in the environmental movement. Certainly there are risks in such participation, but what in life is without risk?

More substantially though, it is simply inappropriate and unacceptable for anyone to say that Orthodox Christians ought not to participate in the environmental movement. As I said earlier (#6.1) such participation is a matter of the personal vocation of the particular Orthodox Christians involved. Again as I said above, Christ has not call me to be His witness to those in the environmental movement. But it does seem that He has called others to this witness and as a priest I am obligated by Christ and my ordination to support and sustain them to the best of my ability in their work.

Publicly, I have been critical of how this witness has been expressed but this is a different matter than saying, for example, His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew ought not to bear this witness. Yes, I don’t think it is a good use of HAH’s time or the resources of the Ecumenical Throne. And in all candor I don’t think that there will be much good fruit from his work in this area. But unless HAH is preaching heresy, it isn’t my place to tell him–or any one else–what it is that Christ has called him to do for His sake and the sake of the Kingdom. And this brings me to my last point.

I stand by what I said, there is a growing tendency among some Orthodox Christians–mostly but by no means exclusively converts–to pass judgment on what is, and more to the point is not, an appropriate venue for an Orthodox Christian witness. Such comments are inappropriate and fly in the face of the Gospel and the witness of Our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ.

In the Gospels, we see Jesus criticized for His willingness to talk with those who are rejected by the religious authorities of His time. Worse in the eyes of these authorities, He not only talks with sinners, He eats with them and, in so doing, identifies Himself with them and with the joys and hopes, their fears and struggles, sinners though they be.

The willingness of some to limit the witness of the Church to some and to exclude others is sectarianism pure and simple. Worse, it is the sin of pride and reflects a corrupt and corrupting view of the Church and the Gospel.

Again, I have my criticisms of the EP’s participation in the environmental movement as well as Orthodox participation in the ecumenical movement, especially the WCC and NCC. I don’t always agree with how the witness is offered but it isn’t my place to say that my brothers and sisters in Christ should not make the effort to bear witness to Christ in these, and other, arenas. That we come to a place where some see it as their place to do so is a sad reflection on our lack of charity.

In Christ,

+FrG

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 9.3/10 (3 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
To Whom Shall I NOT Speak?, 9.3 out of 10 based on 3 ratings
  • Chrys

    The very moment I posted my response to your last response on AOI, I saw that you had posted this reflection. Since it related directly to my own comments, I will re-post them here for convenience (minus my meager efforts at humor there):

    Father, a very helpful answer – on many points – to issues raised both here and in other posts. I take particular note of your comment about the EP and his vocation: “it isn’t my place to tell him–or any one else–what it is that Christ has called him to do for His sake and the sake of the Kingdom.” This posture is essential if we are to see the presence of God in myriad forms of prophetic witness. This is why so many – from the Old Testament prophets to Fools for Christ – were spurned by those around them who were able to make little sense of their behavior or activities.

    More directly, the comment mirrors Christ’s own response to Peter in reference to the Beloved Disciple (John 21:22): If He wants another to serve Him in this manner, what is that to us? We must follow Him in that to which we are called.

    This is St. Paul’s point as well: to serve Christ where we are, as we can. Too often we “slot” people into pre-set callings. This may make it “easier” for us to deal with our lives, but it may also allow us to avoid truly listening to God, to hear and see what He is doing – in us or in those around us. We are called to be a light on whatever bushel basket we find ourselves. And wherever we are we can be a vessel for His Spirit and His grace for the blessing and conversion of others.

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)
    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
  • Chrys

    The very moment I posted my response to your last response on AOI, I saw that you had posted this reflection. Since it related directly to my own comments, I will re-post them here for convenience (minus my meager efforts at humor there):

    Father, a very helpful answer – on many points – to issues raised both here and in other posts. I take particular note of your comment about the EP and his vocation: “it isn’t my place to tell him–or any one else–what it is that Christ has called him to do for His sake and the sake of the Kingdom.” This posture is essential if we are to see the presence of God in myriad forms of prophetic witness. This is why so many – from the Old Testament prophets to Fools for Christ – were spurned by those around them who were able to make little sense of their behavior or activities.

    More directly, the comment mirrors Christ’s own response to Peter in reference to the Beloved Disciple (John 21:22): If He wants another to serve Him in this manner, what is that to us? We must follow Him in that to which we are called.

    This is St. Paul’s point as well: to serve Christ where we are, as we can. Too often we “slot” people into pre-set callings. This may make it “easier” for us to deal with our lives, but it may also allow us to avoid truly listening to God, to hear and see what He is doing – in us or in those around us. We are called to be a light on whatever bushel basket we find ourselves. And wherever we are we can be a vessel for His Spirit and His grace for the blessing and conversion of others.

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)
    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
  • http://pithlessthoughts.blogspot.com/ s-p

    I always find it interesting that discussions like these seem to disintegrate into “Jesus vs. ….” (and of course *I* or my attitude is “Jesus” and you/they are whoever….) and not Romans 14 “Judge not the servant of another…” And of course your willingness to not judge the servant of another is seen as dogmatic weakness and not maturity. I agree these are pastoral issues and not dogmatic ones. But then that statement in itself is a pigeon hole I’ve now voluntarily leased-to-own. :)
    .-= s-p´s last blog ..The Christmas Feast – Gary Update =-.

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)
    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
  • http://pithlessthoughts.blogspot.com/ s-p

    I always find it interesting that discussions like these seem to disintegrate into “Jesus vs. ….” (and of course *I* or my attitude is “Jesus” and you/they are whoever….) and not Romans 14 “Judge not the servant of another…” And of course your willingness to not judge the servant of another is seen as dogmatic weakness and not maturity. I agree these are pastoral issues and not dogmatic ones. But then that statement in itself is a pigeon hole I’ve now voluntarily leased-to-own. :)
    .-= s-p´s last blog ..The Christmas Feast – Gary Update =-.

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)
    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
  • Fr Gregory Jensen

    Chrys & S-P,

    Thank you both for your comments. You are both for me a source of comfort and strength.

    +FrG

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)
    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
  • Fr Gregory Jensen

    Chrys & S-P,

    Thank you both for your comments. You are both for me a source of comfort and strength.

    +FrG

    VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)
    VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
  • LisaElizabeth

    Fr. G,
    I did not go to read the AOI stuff, but just wanted to give my own two cents worth. As a convert to Orthodoxy, I think we should participate in the environmental efforts, from within we can spread our message of God’s Love and Christ’s Resurrection.
    I felt moved by your first post to quote it and post it to my FB account.
    Blessed Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ!

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)
    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
  • LisaElizabeth

    Fr. G,
    I did not go to read the AOI stuff, but just wanted to give my own two cents worth. As a convert to Orthodoxy, I think we should participate in the environmental efforts, from within we can spread our message of God’s Love and Christ’s Resurrection.
    I felt moved by your first post to quote it and post it to my FB account.
    Blessed Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ!

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)
    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
  • Michael Bauman

    Father Bless,

    Christ is Born!

    As one on AOI who has been critical of some aspects of your approach to our Christian witness on the care of creation, I want to make certain that I am in no way critical of you. If I offended in any way, please forgive me.

    You speak eloquently of the need to support the personal vocations of those you pastor, I concur. Unfortunately, part of my vocation (not being facetious) seems to be as a thorn in the side when it comes to matters of the faith. I want to penetrate more deeply into the faith and begin to live it more completely. So I will continue to ask questions and make statements that challenge. I hope you will do the same with me as that is one way in which I will both learn more of the faith and begin to acquire some modicum of humility.

    May our Lord bless you labors with much fruit.

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)
    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
  • Michael Bauman

    Father Bless,

    Christ is Born!

    As one on AOI who has been critical of some aspects of your approach to our Christian witness on the care of creation, I want to make certain that I am in no way critical of you. If I offended in any way, please forgive me.

    You speak eloquently of the need to support the personal vocations of those you pastor, I concur. Unfortunately, part of my vocation (not being facetious) seems to be as a thorn in the side when it comes to matters of the faith. I want to penetrate more deeply into the faith and begin to live it more completely. So I will continue to ask questions and make statements that challenge. I hope you will do the same with me as that is one way in which I will both learn more of the faith and begin to acquire some modicum of humility.

    May our Lord bless you labors with much fruit.

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)
    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)