On occasion I run across Christian writings that embrace the notion of "progressive revelation," or in other circles, "development of doctrine." I am aware that the two phrases have different meanings - but there is something of a common thread - a thread that links parts of our modern world. That simple thread is the thought that something new, something not yet known, will be the answer that we've not yet had.
I will confess that I think about this when I contemplate the oil crisis - I would like to think I would wake up some morning to a headline that announced the invention of something that solved all of our environmental problems. I do not think that morning will come.
Neither will such a morning or evening come for Christians.
Christ, who is the fullness of Truth, is come. He has made Himself known and through Him we know the Father. From an Orthodox Christian perspective, there is simply nothing new to be known. No refinement of doctrine, no twist even of what we presently know will make any difference.
For the problem that we live with as human beings is not lack of knowledge, as ignorant as we may be. It is not that the knowledge is not there or unavailable, but that we don't want it. We are pernicious in this matter. If the problem were lack of information - then the problem continues to rest with God and until He comes through with more information, we are excused.
The Fullness of the Truth has been given to us in the God-Man, Jesus Christ. The great difficulty is in becoming a disciple of that God-Man, and taking the lifetime required to know and be conformed to the Truth which has been given us.
As an Orthodox priest it is not unusual to find people interested in Orthodoxy. It is also not unusual to find people who are interested in "doing something like Orthodoxy." They like some of the things we do and some of the things we say. They do not, however, want to become Orthodox.
I had the privilege yesterday evening during my visit to Kentucky to Chrismate and receive a young woman into the fullness of the Orthodox faith. Once again in my ministry, I stood by as a young woman repeated the words:
This true faith of the Orthodox Church, which I now voluntarily confess and truly hold, that same I will firmly maintain and confess, whole and unchanged, even until my last breath, God helping me. And I will teach and proclaim it, insofar as I am able. And I will strive to fulfill its obligations with zeal and joy, preserving my heart in good deeds and blamelessness. In witness of this, my true and pure-hearted confession, I kiss the Word and Cross of my Savior.
This is the central act of salvation - not in that instant - but in her lifetime. It is recognizing that what we need to know was given long ago, and continues to live among us and abide with us. The question is not "do I need something else?" But rather, "Can I say, 'Yes,' to what has been offered to me." It is why, finally, there is, or should be, little debate within the Orthodox faith. There is much debate in my heart as I struggle to say yes again this moment. But I do not need more information. I need to repent - that's the hard part.
RLCC Comment: Jesus Christ is the fullness of Truth. Truth is absolute and unchanging. The only thing new is that which will aid others in seeing that light.
The Real Liberal Christian Church is orthodox but not Orthodox.
The way of showing, of making conscious, the thread or stream of real liberalism (Jesus's and Isaiah's) versus vileness and churlishness does, and will continue to, make a difference. Souls who would remain otherwise unmoved to bring forth will be so moved.
The same position Stephen takes here could have been taken before Abraham. Those who were present immediately after the creation still had yet to see Christ; yet, within the Genesis story is the testimony and prophecy of Christ for those with soft enough hearts to feel it. Jesus said the Holy Spirit would remind us but also that greater things would be done. The Holy Spirit must inform us.
The following should appear at the end of every post:
According to the IRS, "Know the law: Avoid political campaign intervention":
Tax-exempt section 501(c)(3) organizations like churches, universities, and hospitals must follow the law regarding political campaigns. Unfortunately, some don't know the law.
Under the Internal Revenue Code, all section 501(c)(3) organizations are prohibited from participating in any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office. The prohibition applies to campaigns at the federal, state and local level.
Violation of this prohibition may result in denial or revocation of tax-exempt status and the imposition of certain excise taxes. Section 501(c)(3) private foundations are subject to additional restrictions.
Political Campaign Intervention
Political campaign intervention includes any activities that favor or oppose one or more candidates for public office. The prohibition extends beyond candidate endorsements.
Contributions to political campaign funds, public statements of support or opposition (verbal or written) made by or on behalf of an organization, and the distribution of materials prepared by others that support or oppose any candidate for public office all violate the prohibition on political campaign intervention.
Factors in determining whether a communication results in political campaign intervention include the following:
- Whether the statement identifies one or more candidates for a given public office
- Whether the statement expresses approval or disapproval of one or more candidates' positions and/or actions
- Whether the statement is delivered close in time to the election
- Whether the statement makes reference to voting or an election
- Whether the issue addressed distinguishes candidates for a given office
Many religious organizations believe, as we do, that the above constitutes a violation of the First Amendment of the US Constitution.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
That said, we make the following absolutely clear here:
- The Real Liberal Christian Church and Christian Commons Project not only do not endorse any candidate for any secular office, we say that Christianity forbids voting in such elections.
- Furthermore, when we discuss any public-office holder's position, policy, action or inaction, we definitely are not encouraging anyone to vote for that office holder's position.
- We are not trying to influence secular elections but rather want people to come out from that entire fallen system.
- When we analyze or discuss what is termed "public policy," we do it entirely from a theological standpoint with an eye to educating professing Christians and those to whom we are openly always proselytizing to convert to authentic Christianity.
- It is impossible for us to fully evangelize and proselytize without directly discussing the pros and cons of public policy and the positions of secular-office holders, hence the unconstitutionality of the IRS code on the matter.
- We are not rich and wouldn't be looking for a fight regardless. What we cannot do is compromise our faith (which seeks to harm nobody, quite the contrary).
- We render unto Caesar what is Caesar's. We render unto God what is God's.
- When Caesar says to us that unless we shut up about the unrighteousness of Caesar's policies and practices, we will lose the ability of people who donate to us to declare their donations as deductions on their federal and state income-tax returns, we say to Caesar that we cannot shut up while exercising our religion in a very reasonable way.
- We consider the IRS code on this matter as deliberate economic duress (a form of coercion) and a direct attempt by the federal government to censor dissenting, free political and religious speech.
- It's not freedom of religion if they tax it.
And when they were come to Capernaum, they that received tribute money came to Peter, and said, Doth not your master pay tribute? He saith, Yes. And when he was come into the house, Jesus prevented him, saying, What thinkest thou, Simon? of whom do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute? of their own children, or of strangers? Peter saith unto him, Of strangers. Jesus saith unto him, Then are the children free. (Matthew 17:24-26)