I believe in the Catholic Church; only Orthodox go to heaven.
Let me explain …
A while back, Rod Dreher, author of Crunchy Cons and editor of the Dallas Morning News, mentioned that he was headed toward Orthodoxy. As he was a relatively recent convert to Roman Catholicism (1993) and is well known in all the “hip-right” circles, his announcement caused quite a storm over at Belief Net.
Contrast that with when Dawn Eden who, reared as a Jew, converted from Protestantism to Roman Catholicism.
Incidentally, when it comes to blogs, Dawn’s is setting.
I was happy when I found out Dawn was converting to Catholicism. That’s where she is … seeking the Truth. Having read her blog regularly for a couple years, by golly she IS Catholic. It only seemed natural for her.
Though happy for him, I don’t know Rod Dreher but, forgive me, I feel his pain. Making a transition to Orthodoxy is never easy, always a struggle.
Like many others, mine is a varied pedigree — Southern Baptist, Episcopalian, Orthodox. I can honestly say that none of that was done willy-nilly. But, cut from the sinful cloth that I am, I was stumbling toward the Truth.
When it comes to “seeking the Truth” I find great ecumenical comfort in good blogging on the Net. In spite of our weariness we’re all making, I believe, progress.
The late Dr Peter Toon was a professor of mine in seminary. I remember very clearly the day that he drew vertical lines on the blackboard and above each segment labeled:
After talking of the doctrinal differences among these groups, he suddenly slashed through the chalk barriers with a horizontal line saying (and I paraphrase): “The day is coming when this dividing line will make all the difference. Right believers in these varied groups will find each other and be united in working toward the Truth.”
In other words, that horizontal line of Truth is more important than those denominational distinctions.
I see that on the Net.
I receive emails, many appearing on this blog, from priest-friends from ROCOR to PECUSA … all seeking the Truth. Most of my family and old friends are Baptists and, gulp, they read this blog of an unworthy Orthodox priest. Who’d a thunk?
After posting notice of my book, I received a half dozen notes from Baptists and Catholics who’d ordered copies. Baptists! Mind you, the book is pro-Orthodox. And, being about Converts, it’s all about folks leaving Rome and Protestantism! But, you know what? It is what it is. Some things just are.
We shouldn’t deny reality. And the reality is … people are seeking the Truth.
I heard about a conference speaker who’d announced that the days of the great wave of Episcopalians converting to Orthodoxy are past. This brought a contrary reaction from a member of the audience: “I beg to differ. Many people are leaving their watered-down feel-good church communities and finding Anglicanism. For them, they believe they have found the Apostolic Faith. The day may come when they grow toward the Truth to the point of making their way to Orthodoxy.”
(Where I was raised, there is no Orthodox community. There’s a monastery nearby, 100% in Greek. I’m talking about the rural South with simple God-fearing folks. What are they supposed to do?)
Though seeking the Truth and wishing others to journey with us, we must be based in reality. And the reality is that some things just “is what they is.” You can’t change people. It’s like the old saying: “God doesn’t change things, He changes people and people change things.”
Thanks to the Internet, it is possible for God-fearing seekers of the Truth to communicate with each other, to share in the struggle toward the Kingdom. True, it is possible to find hate and taunting — a party spirit — on the Net. (Heck, that’s been true since Genesis.) But as St Paul commends us:
Let all men know your forbearance. The Lord is at hand.
Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (Philippians 4:5-9)
I began by saying I believe in the Catholic Church; only Orthodox go to heaven. If you’ve discovered the fundamental definitions of catholic and orthodox, you know what I mean (even if you’re Baptist).
The same Dr Toon used to say about the Scriptures: “If you read the Bible seeking to find contradictions and ‘errors,’ you’ll find them. But if you read the Scriptures seeking the Truth, you’ll find it.”
In struggling with the Truth, love is the most important thing.
Love is the most important thing. And that, friends, is a life-long struggle pleasing to God.
(For, you know, without love we Christians resemble so much of the Net on the other side.)