Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin, the head of the MP Department for Coordinating Church and Society (ОВЦО/OVTsO), noted that Christians are called to change the world, rather than to follow ephemeral secular notions, saying at a Moscow panel discussion on the public perception of the Church’s image, “The role of the Church in society is to change it… not to adapt to it, not to follow it, not to be its willing lapdog… to act as the Lord taught us in the Gospel“. In his view, today, some in the Church are trying to argue that standards vary, based on real or perceived public sentiment, whilst the Lord “submits that we should remake the world, that’s what the Apostles did, even though society was opposed to it”.
Fr Vsevolod believes that the mission of the Church is to speak uncomfortable truths, for which one could face crucifixion, death, or, at least, ridicule; the logic of the historical existence of the Church shows that “if you face criticism for the sake of what’s written in the Gospel, you’re right, you’re part of [the Church’s] mission. Orthodoxy isn’t just some sort of personal faith, without a public dimension. When I hear those who speak like that, I remember the Soviet times, and that the modern West is just like that, where Christian or post-Christian elements are docile and house-broken, trained to behave in an always-apologetic manner”.
According to his lights, the Christian ideal of an optimum society is one modelled along the lines of the Kingdom of Heaven, not ravaged by supposedly inevitable contradictions; a harmonious society in which there should be not only symphonia between the State and the Church, but also between the different layers of society, between the People and Power. Fr Vsevolod also pointed up that the Church as a gathered community of believers has the most dynamic authority in this world, because it gives Christians the Lord, which gives it much greater clout than the power found in the state, public organisations, money, the media, or human intelligence. He reminded us that the Lord entrusted the power to pronounce judgement on mankind’s sin and virtue to the Church, “and the judgement of the gathered Church on issues of human life and death affect our eternal destiny”.
5 July 2013
Fr Vsevolod speaks the Truth. That being said, the Church has a nuanced position on many issues… and always shall. For instance, the Church is opposed to homosexual propaganda and homosexual clergy and monastics… but it’s also against the Know Nothing ignorance of the Ancient Faith Radio crowd and the konvertsy gathered about James Paffhausen (and others). Remember Nikon Mironov… the last two patriarchs gave him high Church awards for his steadfast confession of Christ’s Truth (no one who burned Schmemann’s and Meyendorff’s books on a public bonfire can be all bad).
For instance, one of the Cabinet told me how some terminally-dumb konvertsy were making the life of a priest (traditional, not an unprincipled SVSnik) miserable because he gave communion to a lesbian couple. They don’t march in parades… they’re known quantities in their (genuine) small town… and the Church doesn’t excommunicate lay homosexuals. In other words, in another case, Fr Ted Bobosh can give communion to Mark Stokoe (after all, Archbishop Job Osacky knew of and blessed this action)… if you have a problem with that, as one priest said in a similar case (with heavy Russian accent), “You can go to bishop if you have problem!” Need I say that the person involved didn’t dare go to the bishop (it was an Old School ROCOR priest, not some SVS or Angliochian floozy).
The Church DOES stand for the Right and it doesn’t compromise. Nevertheless, the Church DOES wield oikonomia as a divine tool of housebuilding… oikonomia never cancels out a principle… it only says that we CAN make individual allowances in discrete and isolated cases. Furthermore, the Church DOESN’T crusade… that’s more a papist or Proddie concept, isn’t it? Remember… there are sins much worse than homosexuality is… such as the love of money, which the Scripture tells us is “the root of all evil”. Certainly, it puts a new face on the konvertsy infatuation with the greedy and warmongering rightwing, no? Think on it…