Not Our Kind of Christian

I am just spitballing here and not attempting to make broad pronouncements of certitude. I have not changed my mind on important issues nor have I lost my faith. It does, however, seem as things accelerate and old systems show stress fractures that it is not inappropriate to ponder some things.

 

I grew up in a church that taught dispensationalism and along with that a form of Zionism. The idea that the nation-state of Isreal was written into prophecy was reiterated in most sermons. Perhaps because of that, or maybe just because of how God made me I was very interested in international affairs from a young age. I would watch the nightly news with my father beginning early on as a child.

 

On one occasion, I believe I was probably about seven, we were watching a report where the newsreader said something to the effect that Israeli forces had engaged in a firefight with a Christian militia in Lebanon. Hold the phone! The preacher said all the time that Christians had to honor Isreal, and now my young ears are learning there are Christians fighting Isreal….I asked my father and he retorted, “they are not our kind of Christian” to which I replied in my usual fashion, “but why, how”. I did not get a full answer then.

 

Some years later, after the US kicked over all the cans in the Middle East we all read of the civilian cost in Iraq, a large percentage of that cost was to “Christians” – but again, I suppose just not our sort of Christian.

 

We recall the aftermath of the illegal bombing and regime change in Libya, then the Arab Spring, and the rise of ISIS. Who can forget the imagery of “Christians” lined up on a beach in orange jumpsuits with their murderers standing behind them about to behead them? But again, not really our sort of Christians I suppose.

 

But long before up to a million died in Iraq (including most of the historic Christian population) and before beheadings that nightly news report from the 70s confused me. So there are people, that profess that Jesus is the Son of God that can be killed by other people that would kill Jesus again if he reappeared but it is ok because somebody says scripture says that is how it is supposed to be? That was a question that pressed on me and eventually changed me.

 

As a protestant, it is easy to see the error in the Catholic church. Many take it too far and believe that no Christian can be produced in that place, but people like that protest too much. Few protestants can really grasp that protesting and reforming were not magic pills. We cling to creeds and Solas and assume that the Councils of the early church did two things right, they gave us the canon of scriptures and identified and labeled common heresies. Almost all protestant Christianity rejects everything else in the councils in whole or part. We do not even recognize all of the Council of Nicea. Practitioners of Orthodox Christianity have solid and almost unbreakable arguments related to the errors of the Catholic Church and Protestantism related to how we view what we believe, what we took, and what we ignored from those early church fathers.

 

I will admit, that I do not really know a lot about Orthodoxy other than that many of my presuppositions were wrong. I do not know if the Orthodox struggle with heresy, error, and apostasy. I do not know how many major cults have sprung forth from orthodox teachings.

 

I know something about evangelical protestant Christianity and about reformed theology. I know that in the five-hundred-year experiment with protesting and reforming every heresy identified in the early church has returned at one time or the other, some with small effect, some creating entire strange cults. I know that in places where Orthodox Christianity has remained dominant that we do not find the fruits of progressive, humanist, hedonist ideology. I cannot say that I know what this means, but the fruit of cultures that embrace the Orthodox seems much more righteous and Christian than places where either Catholicism or Protestantism are dominant.

 

Catholics would scream not to be placed in that category, look at this example or that of traditionalism they would say. I would argue three things, sex scandals, Jesuits, and Ireland.

 

The Orthodox seem to have something going on that others do not.

 

“Not our kind of Christians” my father said. Perhaps if he lived long enough to see the Methodist woman ‘preacher’ down the street with purple and pink hair praying to the “Goddess of gender fluidity” he would wonder what that really meant – what will be the end of all this protesting?