Source: Orthodox Christian Laity
A Crisis of Faith, Not of Theology, Very Rev George Florovsky, 40th Anniversary of his Falling Asleep in the Lord
Excerpt from Orthodox Evangelist, Fall 2019, Vol. 53. No. 3: Brotherhood of St. Symeon the New Theologian, Miramar, FL
The “Historic Church” is always an “imperfect Church,” despite her inherent sanctity. Every student of Church History knows it but well. The “Golden Age” of the Church – the age of Chrysostom and the Cappadocians – was an age of schisms, rifts, treason and suspicions. Did not St. Gregory of Nazianzus suggest that apparently Christ was asleep on the boat tossed by storms? Did not St. Basil describe the story of his time as that of an eclipse, when it was almost impossible in the darkness – to tell foes from friends? Was not St. John Chrysostom betrayed by his fellow-bishops and was to die as a “bloodless martyr”? And yet, it was, no doubt, a golden age! On the other hand, Christian preaching had always been an offense, already in the times of St. Paul. Yet, St. Paul did not think that it was permissible to “adjust” his preaching to the “capacity” of those to whom it had to be addressed. He did not hesitate “to offend” them. Why should we, in our own time, be shy at this point, and be so concerned with the “changing times”?
There is no crisis of traditional theology, but there is a profound crisis of belief, of faith. Those, who are unable and unwilling to believe with the Church, still want to be counted as Christians. Then they face an alternative: disregard all that they do not find valid (what the majority of the actual membership in our Church is doing, without “theology”, dogmas, etc.) or call for a formal retraction of what they perceive as “traditional”, “obsolete”, “ancient”, “Hellenic.” They have lost faith, and for that reason, they feel that they need to change theology. Indeed, bad or negligent teaching in our Church has been responsible for that defection or ignorance. I mean, the teaching might have been deficient, but true theology is, nevertheless, true and valid. Reinterpretation may be needed, but not an adjustment. Let those who are still feeling with the Church (sentire cum ecclesia), thank God for His help and blessing, because faith is somehow always a gift of God, in Spiritu Sancto.
What we are missing now is a theology well-presented. Unfortunately, one begins very often not with “the Faith as once delivered unto the Saints,” but with the alleged “Modern Mind,” which is, in fact, still in flux. A Protestant friend of mine rightly suggested that the “Modern Man” has not yet made up his mind. Rather, he is simply a person with modern moods and whims.
George Matsoukas, OCL Executive Director