Tuesday, 23 August 2011

'Culture War' Skirmishes Begin on the Outskirts of Constantinople

The German-Australian Lutheran theologian Dr Hermann Sasse (1895-1976), who through correspondence and keen observation was able to keep his finger on the pulse of 20th century Christianity like few others, often noted in his writings that in the modern world all churches face the same problems. None of them can regard themselves as living in splendid isolation from each other or from the forces of radical change in modern society.

If that was so when Sasse was active in the mid-20th century, it is even more evident in the early 21st century. It is no longer possible for churches to imagine themselves as islands somehow safe from the often violent impact of the waves of cultural change which, since the Enlightenment, have surged through Western societies (and now Eastern societies and increasingly the Third World) washing away the last vestiges of Christendom.

Case in point: the movement to bless homosexuality has swept at least one church body, namely 'The Episcopalian Church' (the American representative of Anglicanism), before it and is swamping others as I write. Many individual Christians in these church bodies have understandably fled to other, more traditional communions. For various historical and theological reasons in the case of Episcopalians/Anglicans they have gone mostly to Rome or Eastern Orthodoxy. But if Sasse's observation holds true, and clearly I think it does, those bodies will only provide a safe haven for so long. 'Strategic retreats' are thus not a long term option for creedally and morally orthodox Christians; sooner or later 'pitched' battles will have to be fought on this issue in every church body which has not already succumbed, even in Rome and Constantinople (the highly symbolic primatial sees of Catholicism and Orthodoxy respectively). True, the gates of hell will not prevail against the church, but they will do their best, the battle will be fierce and there will be no refuges.

There are reports that skirmishes in this particular 'culture war' have already begun on the outskirts of Constantinople, so to speak, namely in Orthodoxy in the US, whence comes a dispatch from the 'front line' by Fr Johannes Jacobse, who I take to be an Episcopalian convert to Orthodoxy (click on the post title to read). Fr Jacobse writes after his on-line skirmish with a group within Orthodoxy ('The Listening Group') calling for review of that church's traditional position on homosexual acts, 'The Listening group has to stop dragging the culture wars into the Church. The prohibition against homosexual behavior is a closed question. The moral tradition does not need to be retooled and there is no need for 'dialogue'.'

Sounds like a rallying cry for a pitched battle to me. Cue 'A Mighty Fortress'.

--+--

Note: A debate on homosexuality has been ongoing in the Orthodox Church of Finland since the early 1990s. See http://www.kosmas.fi/PDF-files-veljeston%20paasivu/Finn_Ort_Probl_2009_Autumn.pdf



10 comments:

Lvka said...

Blame it on The Flintstones!

Zorba the Greek-Orthodox said...

Official Greek-Orthodox position on homosexuality.

Orthodox Ostrich said...

I have no idea what you're talking about, Father!...

:-\

Pr Mark Henderson said...

Ostrich...Zorba...Lucian, is that you?

Lucian (?) said...

Lucian, is that you?



Why? Do you want me to "come out of the closet" and admit to my multiple personalities/identities?

:-)

The truth shall set us free...

Pr Mark Henderson said...

Just be sure to take your meds, Lucian.

Lvka said...

Well.. my latest post is for you.. Enjoy! :-)

Lvka said...

Today's post is also dedicated to you. :-)

Pr Mark Henderson said...

You're so kind, Lucian.

Pr Mark Henderson said...

No, I was using the ancient literary-rhetorical device known as irony, Lucian.

[Irony: Irony (from the Ancient Greek εἰρωνεία eirōneía, meaning dissimulation or feigned ignorance)[1] is a rhetorical device, literary technique, or situation in which there is a sharp incongruity or discordance that goes beyond the simple and evident intention of words or actions. Ironic statements (verbal irony) typically imply a meaning in opposition to their literal meaning. A situation is often said to be ironic (situational irony) if the actions taken have an effect exactly opposite from what was intended. The discordance of verbal irony is created as a means of communication (as in art or rhetoric). Descriptions or depictions of situational ironies, whether in fiction or in non-fiction, serve a communicative function of sharpening or highlighting certain discordant features of reality (Wiki).]