Thursday, July 30, 2009

Post-Christendom fight for orthodoxy

There are numerous denominations of the Christian faith. Each denomination have their own teachings and treasured beliefs. And many are skeptical whether can there still be an ecumenical body to uphold orthodoxy in such situation. I think 'No'.

I don't think it is possible now to have such a body. It was possible back in the 4th century because the Church was given political power by the State. And with such power, the Church was enabled to enforce orthodoxy by condemning dissenting teachings and teachers.

We are in a post-Christendom world. Even Vatican's power to condemn dissenting teachings and excommunicate dissenters are not being taken seriously by post-Christendom Christians, or even Catholics themselves.

So are there ways to move forward? Yes, by going back to pre-Christendom's practice. In those times, Christians had to used ink and papers to exert orthodoxy. One example is Justin the Martyr. Gnosticism and Arianism were not condemned by councils' decree but by local committed bishops.

Hence in a post-Christendom's fight for orthodoxy and fight against heresy, pluralism has to be a given. The freedom for a marketplace of ideas must be uphold by the Christians themselves. And each Christian communities have their right to their own teachings.

And through these, high ranking church leaders have to be apt for the task. They must be able to articulate their teachings and treasured beliefs not only to their own congregation but also to those outside. To play into the mechanism of natural filter is the only way forward for orthodoxy in the churches. And such mechanism will eliminates modern unorthodoxy such as the health-wealth gospel. We might still have a few Gnostics and Arians here and there, but again that (pluralism) must be a given and Christian communities should not be discouraged to participate in the mechanism. The mechanism allows acceptance and also critique.

Ecumenism will always stay as an ideal. Yet the works towards reconciliation and ecumenism must not ceased, as such works keep each believing communities conscious of the desire of Christ for the body to be one, to share in one communion.


Alex Tang said...

We should always look beyond our differences to the commonality of our faith. Like a family of cantankerous children is still a family, the ecumenism dialogue must still go one.

Basically we need a deeper understanding of ecclesiology.

Sze Zeng said...

Hi Alex, a "deeper understanding of ecclesiology"?

Yes! We have to do that not merely by going back to the Scripture to find out the role and institutionalization of the church, but also read that paralleling the current status of the church, a post-Christendom entity within a post-secular world (in our context).

Alex Tang said...

Yes, but we need to go further than that. To understand ecclesiology in a non-Christendom context and in a non-Western theological perspective as in Korea, China and the rest of Asia, Africa, and Latin America.

Sze Zeng said...

Alex, that's a task which I cannot take. It requires too much commitment especially commitment to cross-cultural exposure.

So, this is where I have to hold my horses in order to return to the place where I'm currently situated.