Holy and Great Orthodox Council here. . .
There is much to laud and affirm, much to consider and contemplate, and much that challenges. The fathers of this great document have succeeded in writing an eloquent document filled with the kind of rich words and elegant constructions that I envy (example: The Orthodox Church sets against the “man-god’ of the contemporary world the ‘God-man’ as the ultimate measure of all things.) Yes, it is a committee style document that does not address certain things as clearly as one might desire and there is enough wiggle room in some of the phraseology to allow many to confess it comfortably, but the Orthodox have presented us with a very insightful and thoughtful confession.
Addressing everything from marriage and family to science and technology, the document presents us with a challenge to the modern penchant for equating capability with virtue or moral imperative. That is a good thing. Perhaps the best achievement was simply holding the Council, writing an encyclical, and speaking together as an Orthodox voice (though not the full voice). There were many who did not think it would come off and perhaps some who had bet on it. In the end the bishops met and they conversed and came to an accord, of sorts, that represents the first such endeavor in my lifetime. Whether or how what was said will affect the life of the Orthodox mission and identity is something that no one can answer at this time. There is surely enough in this statement worthy of Orthodoxy and yet enough to challenge Orthodoxy as well.
One of the statements that I truly appreciated was this article on dialogs and ecumnism:
It also knows that the Orthodox Church has never accepted theological
minimalism or permitted its dogmatic tradition and evangelical ethos to
be called into question. Inter-Christian dialogues have provided
Orthodoxy with the opportunity to display her respect for the teaching
of the Fathers and to bear a trustworthy witness to the genuine
tradition of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church.
To quote a final paragraph. . .
Proclaiming the Gospel to all the world in accord with the Lord’s
command and “preaching in His name repentance and remission of sins to
all the nations” (Luke 22.47), we have the obligation to commit
ourselves and one another and our whole life to Christ our God and to
love one another, confessing with one mind: “Father, Son and Holy
Spirit, Trinity consubstantial and undivided.” Addressing these things
in Council to the children throughout the world of our most holy
Orthodox Church, as well as to the entire world, following the holy
Fathers and the Conciliar decrees so as to preserve the faith received
from our fathers and to “uphold good ways” in our daily life in the hope
of the common resurrection, we glorify God in three hypostases with
“O Father almighty, and Word and Spirit, one
nature united in three persons, God beyond being and beyond divinity,
in You we have been baptized, and You we bless to the ages of ages.” (Paschal Canon, Ode 8.)
By ending with the call to proclaim the Gospel to all the world in accord, “preaching in His name repentance and remission of sins to
all the nations” (Luke 22.47), the Orthodox have concluded where the life of the Church begins. We do not exist for ourselves but for Him and He for the sake of the world. Until and unless Orthodoxy takes this as seriously as their ethnic and cultural backgrounds, the world will see in Orthodoxy a quaint church and not one as seriously intent upon addressing the world with the mystery of salvation as it is preserving and maintaining an ancient tradition. Clearly this is not unlike the challenge facing Lutherans who continue to pit mission against maintenance as if either were secondary to who we are and what we are about as the people of God, confessing with one mind: “Father, Son and Holy
Spirit, Trinity consubstantial and undivided.”