Voices from Russia

Friday, 22 July 2011

22 July 2011. “Tithing”… It’s NOT Gonna Happen Any Time Soon… or, Any Time Later, For that Matter…

Some of the konvertsy are gaga over tithing… perhaps, because their former confession/sect preached it. I said, “Preached it”, because even those who “preach” the tithe don’t receive it, unless they back it with draconian penalties (as the Mormons and Baptists do). Look at the following, I saw it on the ‘net:

The entire OCA should be on a tithing system. Individuals should tithe to the parish, the parishes to their Diocese, and the Dioceses to the CCA. Any other system is problematic from all points of view, the most important being doing it in accordance with the most basic source that we have… the Holy Scriptures. It also makes great financial sense if you think about it… the tithing approach functions as a self-regulator. If the revenues are increasing, you can spend more on the needful things, and if they’re declining, you can tighten the belt in accordance with spending priorities. This haggling over a dollar or 50 cents per head is a shot in the dark from a financial planning perspective, based on zero-sum thinking, and thus is unworthy of a church body.

(Name withheld to spare the author shame for writing such dreck)

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This is unhinged and divorced from reality. NO Orthodox Local Church has EVER “preached” tithing… it’s not part of the Church’s Deposit of Tradition. Holy Scripture is NOT “the most basic source that we have”… that’s Sectarian thinking at its most nasty and insidious. The CHURCH is the bedrock of Truth. The Church defines and interprets Scripture; Scripture does NOT define and interpret the Church. The Church preceded Scripture; ergo, the Church trumps Scripture, every time. Usually, though, the Church does NOT go “against” Scripture, but there are times when it extends its pastoral oikonomia over this-or-that individual (as in the case of Mark Stokoe)… when it does so, it doesn’t negate Scripture; it makes a salutary exception for the salvation of a given person, that’s all.

In any case, how would we “enforce” tithing? Would we verify what everyone donated, and, then, post the figures publicly? That was done in some old-time Metropolia parishes (thank God, it’s mostly dead, now). Would we bar non-tithers from communion? Would we prohibit non-tithers from attending family marriages, as the Mormons do? Would we have two “levels” of “membership”… one for tithers, and another, lower one, for those who didn’t tithe? As you see, it opens up far more problems than it “solves”. There’s another thing that’s worrisome in the above quotation… it assumes that all parishioners have an equal level of commitment and that all parishioners have an equal ability to give at a stated level of giving. That’s foolish. Some people only show up for the main holidays… hell, some come only on Easter, let’s keep it simple. Others are regular in attendance, but not every week (that’d be Nicky and me)… it’s best not to conjecture as to why a given person isn’t at services, that’s an open invitation for Ol’ Scratch to come in and set up shop. Then, there are the “church hobbyists”… they’re different from the “faithful attendees” (you know ‘em… they’re always there, but they don’t make a fuss over it). The “hobbyists” know better… their influence increases if there’s a “hobbyist priest” (a badly-formed convert with a 40-hour-a-week job who moonlights as a priest on the weekends) in the parish. Becoming a “hobbyist” is a danger to all of us… hell, I even had such a period, but I grew out of it… reality has its ways of asserting itself, kids.

Nevertheless, what’s happened is that we’ve ordained far too many converts, especially in the OCA and in the AOCANA. No organisation can have over a certain level of newbies in its leadership ranks… and it becomes positively dangerous if they were “clergy” in their previous confession/sect, which means that we have too many clergy lacking a basic Orthodox formation, who, in it’s place, have a heterodox formation instead. Thus, the “hobbyists”, far from being restrained, become “empowered”… look at Chad Hatfield, and you’ll know what I mean. He’s brought in his Anglican formation with him, and he’s refused to jettison his baggage (one can see that he believes wholeheartedly in the Branch Theory after the Nashotah House débâcle), to the point where he accepted an “honorary degree” from his Anglican alma mater. I’ve never heard of the like in my life. That’s why konvertsy fools are jawing about “tithing”. What I dread is that a group’s going to split off from us, call itself “Orthodox”, and muddy our reputation in the larger society (yes… any grounded person can see that happening). It may even call itself the “Orthodox Church in America”… it’ll have clergy exclusively recruited from the ranks of rebellious Anglicans and disgrunt Sectarians… it’ll teach all kinds of oddball stuff… including “tithing”. As for the Church… it’s NEVER taught tithing… it does NOT do so now… and it NEVER shall. I know, this’ll disappoint the “hobbyists”… but that’s the way it is. Ergo, they’re going to leave us. Don’t EVER argue with them… they’re impervious. If they won’t listen to Christ and His Church, they’re not going to listen to sinners like you or me.

We live in “interesting” times… may we acquit ourselves well…

Barbara-Marie Drezhlo

Friday 22 July 2011

Albany NY

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