Wednesday, 24 September 2008

defining your terms

It's quite easy to for evangelical Christians to think and talk about 'real Christians'. We usually know who is one and who isnt', right? Obviously, anyone who doesn’t agree with my type of evangelicalism isn’t a real Christian. Which is good, because other people (not me, obviously) do silly and unChristian things and I don't want to be tainted by association with ‘Christians’ who do those bad things. They’re not actually, really Christians.

Even if this manouevre is not strictly honest it does have a noble purpose, from time to time, that goes beyond me. It is a defensive mechanism for maintaining God’s honour in the world. But evangelicals (despite being some of the most sensitive and uptight believers in their soteric exclusivism) are not the only ones who do it…

‘A historical critique of the Oriental Church does not mean anything for us, because the Oriental Church does not conceive itself to be a gathering of men but as an Orthodoxy. This means that that which lies outside the truth of Christ or doxology does not belong to the Body of Christ’.

(Metropolitan George Khodre of Mount Lebanon, ‘The Church as the Privileged Witness of God’, in Ion Bria, ed., Martyria/Mission: The Witness of the Orthodox Churches Today (Genva: WCC, 1980), pp.30-37 [p.31]).

Which is a neat way of getting round the problem!