Friday, June 23, 2006

...And Carry a Big Stick

In looking over observations others have made about the interrelated nature of lex orandi and lex credendi, I daresay Fr. Fenton's friend missed one more necessary element to preserve the true faith in the Church: a hierarchy willing to enforce ecclesiastical guidelines. Having an established rule of faith and rule of prayer are necessary prerequisites, but if church authorities refuse to exercise discipline against those who regularly and habitually violate one, the other, or both, the guidelines are a fiction. That church will soon succumb to the new barbarians, whenever the heretics realize they need only sustain their assault to prevail.

Alas, the problems of most denominations have been imposed from the top-down; they rarely percolate from the bottom-up, and often their fiercest opponents are at the parish's grassroots. The Episcopalians proved this week they lack the hierarchy to impose anything approaching historical (lower case-o) orthodoxy. Other denominations have also forced their changes against the will of the people.

What liberation to find some denominations not only shun the secular zeitgeist but actively fight an ascetic struggle to pull farther away from the world still. There are still churches that believe in absolutes as strongly as the people in the pews do, that would allow them to put the energy they spend fighting their church into prayer and spiritual development. As one convert put it, "As a member of the Orthodox Church, I no longer defend the Church; She defends me." Until one can make the same statement, the slope will only get more slippery.


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