We in the West have something to learn from Fr. Dimitry’s attitude towards the non-Orthodox. Among...

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 We in the West have something to learn from Fr. Dimitry’s attitude towards the non-Orthodox. Among...

Post by Anonymous »

We in the West have something to learn from Fr. Dimitry’s attitude towards the non-Orthodox. Among Western converts to Orthodoxy (to speak of something close to home) there is indeed a temptation to speak too freely of “heresy” and “heretics,” and to make the errors of the non-Orthodox an excuse for a certain pharisaic smugness about our own “Orthodoxy.” Even when it is worded in a theologically correct manner, this attitude is spiritually wrong and helps to drive away from the Orthodox Church many who would otherwise be attracted to it. Fr. Dimitry’s attitude in this case, even if he sometimes expresses it in an imprecise way, is a sound one, both for the avoidance of phariseeism and a certain “sectarian” attitude on the part of his own Orthodox flock, and for the conversion of the non-Orthodox. Fr. Dimitry emphasizes that Orthodox Christians should go deeper into their own faith without judging the non-Orthodox; he rightly says: “Anyone who grows conceited about his faith is faithless” (Our Hope, p. 19), and again: “One can be Orthodox formally and yet perish faster than someone who belongs to another faith. Orthodoxy is joy at having found the truth, and the real Orthodox always looks at others with love. But if belonging to the Orthodox Church is accompanied by irritation at those who think otherwise, then one ought to doubt one’s belonging to Orthodoxy” (p. 44). By such statements Fr. Dimitry does not at all “betray” the Orthodox faith, as some think; he only encourages his flock to be first of all humble and loving in their confession of Orthodoxy, and to avoid pride and irritable “correctness,” for these are sectarian and not Orthodox qualities (which is why we should doubt our Orthodoxy if we have them) and will indeed cause us to be judged more severely than those of another faith. (In Defense of Fr. Dimitry Dudko)

The word “heretic” is indeed used too frequently nowadays. It has a definite meaning and function, to distinguish new teachings from the Orthodox teaching; but few of the non-Orthodox Christians today are consciously “heretics,” and it really does no good to call them that.

- Hieromonk Seraphim Rose, His Life and Works.

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