Thursday, January 27, 2022

Anatomizing Abp. Elpidophoros

From the blog Musing of Orthodox thinkers, a post entitled "Parsing the Archbishop’s Words."

Abp. Elpidophoros, the controversial primate of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese, spoke and prayed at the March for Life in D.C. on January 21, 2022. His short comments reiterated the Church’s unequivocal dogma regarding the sacredness of human life. Given the setting, and given the moral Tradition of the Church, he could not have done otherwise. But one sentence from his comments stood out amongst the others. You might call it the proverbial “sniper in the grass”. That is the innocent-sounding statement that appears to support the so-called right of expectant mothers to choose to snuff out the human life growing in their wombs. People today are pretty sensitive to remarks like it.

Let’s make an attempt to parse the venerable archbishop’s comments. (You can find them in their entirety under my own here.)

“We affirm the gift of sanctity of life – all life, born and unborn.” In the Bible we see the inverse etched in stone; i.e., the general commandment in Exodus 20 where God prohibits murder. Thou shalt not kill. If murder is forbidden by God, then surely life bears sanctity. It may sound like an extrapolation here, but Christ himself said, “Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me.” (Mt. 19:14) To paraphrase, our Lord is saying that we should allow children to have life and fellowship with God. Christ did not go on record regarding the specific issue of abortion.

The Church which is Christ’s body has always condemned the infanticide of abortion. Fr. John Peck has made a list of the concise statements the early Church Fathers in this regard. Each of these sources, saints, and canons listed has clearly condemned abortion: Letter to Diognetus, Didache, Letter of Barnabas, St. Clement, St. Hippolytus, Tertullian, St. Cyprian, St. Basil, St. Augustine, St. Jerome, St. Ambrose, St. John Chrysostom, Canon XCI, Canon II, Canon XXI. So far in his comments, it would seem that Abp. Elpidophoros is performing the obvious duty of guarding the Faith handed down by his predecessors.

He goes on “…We confess that every human being is made in the image and likeness of God.” Some Orthodox Fathers go a step further and opine that we are surely made in God’s image, but that we must strive in our individual podvig to attain likeness unto him. Okay, let’s not wander off too far into the weeds here. Genesis 1:26 says, “Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness.” I’ll take that at face value.

Christ is the Son of God and the Son of Man. God incarnate. Some Western theologians have gone so far as to describe the crucifixion of Christ as deicide. At the moment of decision, the Jewish crowd eagerly exonerated Pontius Pilate by shouting, “Let his blood be upon us and upon our children.” (Mt. 27:25) You can’t help but shudder when you recall that their action seemed to invite the future antisemitic persecutions that pepper the history books...

Complete article here.

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