Caugh up short.

So, this Monday I went to a meeting of young people connected to a foundation in Bucharest, Romania, to which I have been attached and of which I am Honorary President. One of the young men in the group asked, "What religion do you belong too?" I said, "I am a Christian and I am a member of The Episcopal Church...I am an Anglican." "Ah," he said, "you are like the Pentecostals or Baptists, yes?"

I tried to make sense of it all for him, but to no avail. I was not Orthodox, and therefore could be understood as one of those "fringe" people.

So the next time my realignment friends use the word 'Orthodox,' remember there are people out there who believe they have the patent on the word, and you ain't orthodox. Nor, by the way, am I.


  1. Thanks for sharing this, Mark.

    I've been saying for years that it seems bizarre that ANY Protestant (or Anglican) would claim to be orthodox in theology or otherwise. Being Protestant (or Anglican) means de facto that we are NOT orthodox in any historically groundable sense of the word and that we don't want to be!

    To that degree, one might suggest, as Rome and most of the Orthodox world would, that we are, indeed, heretics. "Hairesis," the Greek word from which we get the word heresy, means "choice." We have chosen (a different set of paths in living and ordering our discipleship to Jesus Christ, paths that intentionally diverge in places from the ones they have chosen.

    So the questions for us are never about whether we have chosen divergence-- we all have. They are rather about WHAT divergence we have chosen, HOW MUCH it diverges from WHAT, and WHY. Conservative, liberal, orthodox, progressive, reasserter, reappraiser-- all of these are too wide-sweeping to describe with any precision where any of us actually wind up in any great scheme of things. We need a more careful taxonomy-- and perhaps one that always includes the word heretic, not as a badge of shame, but simple description.

  2. Fr Harris,

    This is rather silly, don't you think?

    Just because the Eastern Orthodox use the word "orthodox" as a part of their name does not mean that they have a patent on the word, any more than the Roman Catholics have a patent on the word "catholic," which (last time I checked) Episcopalians use at every Mass to describe the Church they believe they belong to.

    Doesn't every serious Christian want to be orthodox -- that is, to believe and practice what is actually true? And don't you, even as a "progressive," really believe that you are the one (not the reasserters) who believes and teaches what is actually true? If you are right about that, then you are the one who is "orthodox."

    The so-called reasserters call themselves "orthodox." If they don't deserve that title, it would be because what they believe and teach is not right; not because the Christian East already owns the word. And, come to think of it, if the reasserters aren't orthodox, then the Orthodox aren't orthodox either.

  3. In the Orthodox understanding, you have to be a member of the Orthodox Church before you can be a heretic. A heretic is someone who has deliberately chosen to teach something contrary to the teachings of the church. That doesn't apply to people who were never members of the Orthodox Church to begin with.

    Members of other Christian groups may teach things that are contrary to the teachings of the Orthodox Church, things that would be heretical if taught by Orthodox Christians, but since they are not Orthodox Christians, they aren't heretics.

  4. Leap at taking offense and you may jump right over the point.

    Talk about "rather silly!"


OK... Comments, gripes, etc welcomed, but with some cautions and one rule:
Cautions: Calling people fools, idiots, etc, will be reason to bounce your comment. Keeping in mind that in the struggles it is difficult enough to try to respect opponents, we should at least try.