I thought it would be fun to do a blog series on "why I am not..." (fill in the blank). We'll see if it is sustainable as a blog concept.
I confess that I do not know as much about Eastern Orthodoxy as I should know about it - I mean, I know about "Filioque" controversy (whether or not the Spirit proceeds from Father AND Son), and such, but let's face it - Orthodoxy is not a major part of our Western Christian tradition. It is sort of mysterious hybrid-thing that stands outside of our historical Protestant roots - which are firmly grounded in the western thought patterns and categories of Roman Catholicism.
The fact the Orthodxy is more Eastern in its orientation is intriguing. It is sometimes refreshing to read an Orthodox author like Alexader Schmemann because he does not tend to think in our Western / scholastic categories. I recently went to an Eastern Orthodox wedding and was blown away by their attempts to construct a truly "heavenly" liturgy. I didn't understand it all, but I understood enough to know that something very different was going on.
Nevertheless, I am not Eastern Orthodox and don't plan to be. While there is much about Orthodoxy that I deeply appreciate - particularly their liturgical "worldview," their is much about their dogmatics that I just can't digest. For example:
- Filioque clause - Affirming the double procession of the Holy Spirit is not only immanently Scriptural (eg. Luke 24:49), but pastorally significant. When the ministry of the Spirit is divided from the ministry of the Word, we sow the seeds of an incipient mysticism. If the ministry of the Spirit is not through the agency of the Word, then our piety becomes distorted by a kind of neo-Platonic Gnosticism that is very dangerous.
- Veneration of Icons - While I am not willing to say all people in the Orthodox tradition are outright idolaters, veneration of icons is unBiblical and also spiritually hazardous. I am not speaking of simple acts of bowing and body posture - I am speaking about the cognitive / subjective attribution of certain realities to manmade images. While icons may seem on the surface (pun intended) to mitigate a kind of Gnostic dualism, it actually ends up reinforcing it. It is a false way of trying to bridge the gap between the consummate eschaton which is future and the progressive eschaton which is manifested by the church.
- Romanticism of the Fathers - Orthodox theologians trumpet their faithfulness to the church fathers - and this is a very good thing in many ways. The magisterial Reformers (eg. Calvin) tried hard to reform the church along the lines of more Patristic theology. The problem with Orthodoxy's use of Patristics is this - there is a sense in which the church Fathers were also "babies." The church is maturing as a boy or young man grow (Gal. 3:24ff). Stopping at the church fathers is a form of historical idolatry.
More could be said, but those are the biggies for me. I hope to learn from my Orthodox brothers, but I pray that they would also learn from our tradition. This is what it means to believe in a catholic church and strive for her unity.