We are adjured to stick with the tradition we received by word and in writing – in short, we are told Christian belief cannot just be made up as you go along. Yes, when we encounter the Risen Lord we are excited – who would not be? But we need to find our feet after the giddiness. Do we really think we are free from the effects of original sin, and that we can, at a glance discern the depths, heights and infinity of God? That would be to think that having eaten of fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, we were qualified to know better than the billions of Christians who have lived before us.
Let me be clear. I don’t mean that all orthodox Christians have to take one view on all matters where we disagree. I do, however, maintain that most orthodox Christians agree on far more than they disagree. Some disagreements seem to me too serious for fellowship to be possible – if a fellow tells me Christ rose ‘spiritually’ and was not ‘God’, then I cannot fellowship with him. But if he tells me that he thinks in all good conscience that the Pope is the successor of St Peter, then fair enough – I may disagree, but it does not seem to me a belief outside the range of the normal for a Christian – after all, more Christians in the world believe that than believe what I believe.
For me, ‘another Gospel’ is what it says – someone not preaching that Christ is the Messiah, that he did not rise again, that He is not the second person of the Trinity, and that there is no afterlife. So, although I disagree with Catholics and Anglicans on many matters, I do not, I think, do so on essentials. I do not think that we have the power to ordain women as presbyters or elders, but if others do, for me that is not a deal-breaker; if others find it so, so be it, and be it on their conscience too. We are in a world where Satan is not hard to find, in fact one where he is hard to avoid, and I cannot find it in me to sow disruption in the ranks by arguing over an issue which I am sure Satan loves to use to divide us.
The modern era is antithetical to the Faith and to its cherished beliefs, and it seems to me essential at this juncture that we do not succumb to the temptation to fight each other. That does not mean syncretism, it means being able to distinguish what is essential from what is not, it is called using one’s judgment, and is the sort of thing adults used to do before they got told how to think by those who govern them. I have far more in common with an orthodox Catholic and Anglican than they have with some of their own co-religionists, and anyone who knows anything about the preachers of another gospel, knows they stick together – that might be the one thing to learn from them.