Thursday, June 13, 2013

American Orthodoxy in "Progressive Captivity"

(Acton Institute) - Most Christians who are received into the Eastern Orthodox Church as adults do so for the same reasons that others embrace the Roman Catholic Church: They are tired of the moral relativism or the shallow theological traditions of their former communions. These great historical Churches offer an oasis of clarity where the first questions are settled and the foundations do not have to be laid again in every generation. At least that’s the idea.

Alas, it is not always so. Orthodoxy and Catholicism have their share of dissenters but this is nothing new to anyone who knows their history. Yet this realization often comes as a surprise – even a shock -- to many Orthodox converts. They assume that the precepts of the moral tradition will be taught in our generation as well. Sometimes they aren’t.

Analyzing the present culture and discerning how the moral tradition speaks to it is always a complex business because people are dynamic beings. Truth is relational because Truth is a person – Jesus Christ. As such, any self-revelation of Christ whether it be Him directly or through the words and work of His followers requires much more than an outline of propositions. If it were that easy we would all be fundamentalists.

This relational dimension however, is where it gets dicey. Christianity’s secular counterpart – Progressive morality – has impressive fluency in the language of human compassion in which ideas that are inimical to the Christian moral tradition are hidden. It confuses believers and convinces secularists and lies at the root of much internal dissent in the historic Christian churches...
Complete article here.


  1. The real problem is a captivity to the false liberal or conservative paradigm.

  2. I agree with Pontus. The Orthodox Church is a church of compassion. Let's keep politics out of the church please. I am fearful of the Orthodox fundamentalism expressed in this piece.

  3. The AOI article about Patriarch Bartholomew linked to in the full text is unfair (although this would be par for the course with AOI). When bloggers repost someone else's text & selectively highlight/bold text it lifts it out of its appropriate context; it gives undue weight to a particular phrase when it's meant to be taken as part of a whole (the same problem with biblical 'prooftexting' out of context).

    When actually reading what the Patriarch says, he is making the point that the sacredness of the human person is paramount in the discussion. He also lists as example of a reason for not making a universal condemnation the health of the mother, explicitly condemning 'convenience' as motive. While he does mention sexual assault, he doesn't exonerate the mother in such a case.

    When read without selective highlighting & the usual Limbaugh-esque preamble his text reads as one who feels this is a weighty issue that is pastorally-sensitive & should be taken in consultation with a spiritual father who knows them & the situation; but he is clearly not advocating a libertine lifestyle.

  4. Fr Jacobse's tying the question of abortion, which, as Lucas points out above, he addresses in a disingenuous way, is kind of a red herring in this context. His attempting to paint those who oppose St Vladimir's partnering with a highly partisan think-tank and bringing in a speaker from the Discovery Institute(!!!) with support for abortion is both ridiculous and insulting.

  5. Unfortunately, AOI style rubbish is really what's imposing a kind of right wing captivity on Orthodoxy in America. I say "in America" because it is the recent converts who want to try import their politics (usually neocon, libertarian, or some fanciful "crunchy" version), especially economic ones, as essential to the faith.

    Those of us who oppose such godless, ruthless economic policies should just speak out: You can be Orthodox and believe that the economic and some social policies of "conservatism" are genuinely evil. The social policies I speak of are the latent racism, anti-science stupidity, and merciless individualism of the right.

    Furthermore, holding these views opposing the right does not automatically mean that one sides with sodomites and baby murderers. In fact, there are plenty of leftist critiques of things like the sham they call "gay marriage". To the extent that the left in this country has turned almost exclusively to identity politics, it has weakened its credibility. Abortion is murder, always, but the excuse given for why it happens is usually an economic excuse. That excuse remains as long as economic policies create an environment that make having children excessively expensive (i.e., an environment where employers don't have to provide a living wage, where healthcare costs are ridiculous, etc.).

  6. Looking from afar, and from what I see online which I hope is misleading, I would have thought that American Orthodoxy was in far more danger of becoming captive to the far right. Things like this post being, it seems, like rather a case in point!

  7. I am afraid that at times this polarization is no different than what we see in the political life: people talking past each other (or, often, yelling past each other), discounting the other position from the start, and digging the heels in for whatever one's position happens to be.

    I do not know a lot about the conference - and that is only partially the focus of the linked article - but I read the one currently available transcript of one of the sessions: Leaving aside some off-topic banter, I think there were points made that are worth thinking about, in particular in Sdn. Paul Abernathy's remarks.

  8. It was good that the conference brought to attention the embarrassment of the Orthodox being part of the world council of churches. I suspect much that occured with the conference was good, but not all, because the acton institute is fundamentally an evil organization run by a homosexual priest (Sirico) who refuses his obligation of priestly duties in favour of his secular job. I urge the Orthodox Church to divest itself of all politicization in any form whateversoever. I say this as one who would never vote for the democratic party in the USA. One must be cautious of both the so-called left and so-called right, for they are quite frequently anti-christian and against the Orthodox faith in distinctively different ways. If you research Fr. Sirico's past, it is very shady and Acton's funding has come from very shady groups with nefarious principals.

    "Homosexual archivists like Gary Atkins consider Sirico a pivotal figure in the history of the "gay" civil rights movement, and they are correct. His entrepreneurial genius united, organized, and gave purpose to the fledging "gay" Seattle community at a time when they were confused,
    divided, and subjected to a well-organized vice-squad. He pioneered legal gay marriages, challenged vice laws, organized and led protests and marches, preached in churches and on the radio, and built a gay infrastructure that exists for the most part to this day. His public
    victories in Seattle include the founding of the first "gay" church, the creation of a new "gay" theology, and a new political paradigm that shifted the debate on homosexuality from the morality of homosexual acts to the civil rights of gays and the repeal of laws against sodomy and hustling, and the obtaining of marriage licenses for and performing homosexual marriages, including his own anticipated "marriage."