source – orthodoxreflections.org

By Archpriest Geoffrey Korz

 JULY 29, 2022

A well-known and esteemed American priest recently spoke on the topic of the use of appropriate terminology for describing Orthodox clergy, both priests and bishops. Since many issues from secular society present themselves in the life of the Church, it has also become common to use secular labels (all too familiar in political discourse) to describe views expressed by the clergy. This priest was pointing out, quite wisely, that while it is certainly appropriate and necessary for the Church and Her clergy to speak to many political issues which face Orthodox faithful, the political labels of “conservative” and “liberal” do not in fact have any meaning in the Orthodox Church.

Here is the reason:

Any priest or bishop who expresses the teaching of the Church, as it is outlined in the Scriptures, the Canons, the Church Fathers, and all of Holy Tradition, is not “conservative” – he is simply Orthodox, following the traditions of the Church.

Any priest or bishop who does otherwise is not Orthodox.

Any priest or bishop who teaches that “God created them male and female” (Genesis 5:2), that the gender and sex of the body correspond to that of the soul is not “conservative” – he is simply Orthodox.

Any priest or bishop who writes articles or speaks at conferences advocating for various aspects of the LGBT agenda is not “liberal” –   he is simply not Orthodox.

Any priest or bishop who affirms the unity of all races through the Body and Blood of Christ in the Church, that there is a single Orthodox Church regardless of nation, in which all share Communion within the Canonical order is not “conservative” – he is simply Orthodox.

Any priest or bishop who pits one nation against another, who advocates for racialist politics or advances the idea that the concept of race is fundamental to human identity is not a “liberal” – he is simply not Orthodox.

Any priest or bishop who advocates that human life begins at conception, exhorts his faithful to work to preserve life in the womb, to donate their time and their money to helping mothers and their children who are at risk of abortion, and to vote for candidates who oppose abortion in law is not a “conservative” – he is simply Orthodox.

Any priest or bishop who supports the killing of unborn children in the womb, either overtly or with veiled terms, or who launches an assault on the Image of God through deceptive language about “respecting the autonomy of women”, which confuses the faithful and allows the Lord’s innocent ones to stumble unwittingly into grievous sins – these are not “liberal” clergy or bishops – they are simply not Orthodox.

Any priest or bishop who affirms and teaches that all sexual sins including same-sex attraction arose from the Fall and require struggle and repentance is not “conservative” – he is simply Orthodox.

Any priest or bishop who goes to the trouble of traveling hundreds or thousands of miles to attend a conference to brainstorm ways in which the Orthodox Church might be “enlightened” to the “new psychology” of contemporary sexuality is not “liberal” – he is simply not Orthodox.

Any priest or bishop who draws his teaching for moral, medical, psychological, and family decisions strictly from the Holy Tradition of the Church – the Scriptures and the Holy Fathers – is not “conservative”: he is simply Orthodox.

Any priest or bishop who gives weight in teaching on these areas to the “enlightened” teachings of the human intellect, believing them to be much more progressed than the Holy Tradition of the Scriptures and the Church Fathers is not “liberal” – he is simply not Orthodox.

The wise priest who made this important distinction has done all our clergy and faithful a great service. We might use these terms – “liberal” and “conservative” – in our informal conversations, but this Father is correct: there are not “parties” within the Church, only those who hold the Mind of the Church, the Mind of the Fathers, and those who would attack it, and try to redefine it – because they are outside it.

Inevitably, every Orthodox Christian will come across such people. Some of them will even be wearing cassocks. If and when you do, the best strategy might be to turn and run from their churches and their schools, and to warn others to do the same.

Archpriest Geoffrey Korz

8 COMMENTS

  1. Great article. Archpriest Geoffry makes a perfect point. It is not an issue of liberal or conservative. It is simply an issue of Orthodox vs not being an Orthodox. Elpithoforos and Bartholemews’ actions are attempts to confuse us, divide us, and pit us against each other-liberal vs conservative or traditional vs progressive in order to control us easier through divide and conquer.

  2. Conservatives build families and places of worship, but liberals build taverns and brothels. However, do not be surprised if the only way the GOP gets its majority next year is the very Muslims and Mexicans Trump so disdained, and who will gladly vote to mandate stoning of perverts and abortionists. The entire Northern hemisphere is headed for demographic collapse, to be replaced (“browned” as the Economist noted in late 1988) by the southern. Byzantium and Mesoamerica collapsed from within, with self destructive ideologies making them ripe prey for their conquerors. Do you honestly think the current overly complicated and self contradictory structure can survive without Schumpeterian creative destruction?

  3. This is such a black and white simplification of what it means to be Orthodox, beginning with the first statement. The Church has clear consensus on dogma, but there are other areas where the fathers differ and have even gotten something wrong (different approaches to interpreting Scripture and, St. John Chrysostom, despite the incredible wealth of teaching and preaching he left for us, who claimed that miracles ceased following the apostolic period). Secondly, if we are going to parade the Canons, then I guess all of us who have Jewish doctors must immediately cease going to them (just a small example). Thirdly, the Orthodox Church has always understood Scripture in its historical context; all of a sudden, now that “conservatism” is in, in Orthodoxy, things like head coverings for women has become an issue, and Paul’s one reference to head coverings is literally being plucked out of context and many are holding it up, not as an option, but as a should/must, with no reference for what Paul was dealing with in the church in Corinth. I won’t go on, but this line of reasoning by a “well-known and esteemed” priest (and I know a lot of clergy across the US in all jurisdictions, and had to look him up as I had never heard of him), is flawed and misses even the most foundation and basic teaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, like “love your neighbor as yourself.”

    • If you are going to treat all teachings of our faith as of the same gravity then you are making the same mistake you are accusing others of. Are you going to put wearing headscarfs at the same level as homosexuality? The same with seeking the advise of a Jewish doctor… You cannot substitute sophistry for argumentation… it’s this sophistry that made Phanariots like Bartholomew and Elpidoktonos universal examples of faithlessness and superficiality…

    • Papman, I agree. This attitude is way to black and white . You sight several pertinent examples. St Paul in 1 Corinthians chapter 15 identifies the things of most importance: Christ died for us according to the scriptures and that He was buried and raised on the third day. These are central and primary according to St Paul- belief in these things are at the core of being Orthodox. And as you mentioned, many Father’s taught faulty ideas. Are we to assume these Frs. are not Orthodox.

  4. Wearing a head scarf ? No analogy– apples and oranges.
    Yeah– I love my neighbors— don’t want anyones neighbors infringing wokeness– mine, yours, ours..

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