The Beauty of Truth
*This post was written by guest contributor John R. Meese. You can connect with him at www.johnrmeese.com, where he regularly writes on personal growth and leadership, as well as other relevant topics for Christians today. A recent college graduate from Tennessee, John is also the newest staff member of Orthodox Christian Fellowship, the official campus ministry organization under the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America.*
Recently I’ve had some disappointing conversations with a couple of different Christian friends from non-Orthodox faiths. Both of them (separately) made it clear that they were uncomfortable with Orthodoxy as they understood it, because they felt that the “If you aren’t Orthodox, you are wrong!” approach to dialogue they had experienced with some Orthodox Christians was anything but welcoming, and frankly: I have to agree.
Like it or not, Hyperdoxy is not Christ-like.
Don’t get me wrong, I find Hyperdox Herman as amusing as Grumpy Orthodox Cat, and will quickly admit to laughing at a number of their humorous examples of “outreach,” but that’s just the thing: it’s comedy. Sadly, I’ve seen too many Orthodox Christians (young and old, convert and cradle alike) fall into the temptation of embracing this “Hyperdox” or “Convertitis” approach to those outside of the Orthodox Church, and in doing so only push them away.
Christ came to minister to the lost with love, grace, and acceptance. His primary message was one of “Come and see,” not “You’re wrong, and I’m right.”
That doesn’t mean he condoned their sins, or universally accepted their beliefs (on the contrary, he rebuked religious hypocrites all the time), but that’s not what I’m talking about here. I’m talking about the beauty of truth.
A parish Priest once shared with me this nugget of wisdom from his decades-long career that involved working with those beyond our faith, and I think it best sums up the mindset we need to have in these sorts of situations:
“When it comes to disagreements with those outside of the Orthodox Church, I have increasingly found that more often than not the issue is one of partiality vs. fullness, rather than right vs. wrong.”
We do believe that the Orthodox Christian Faith embodies the fullness of Truth, but there are countless Christian denominations out there which are filled with soooo much truth, even in their partiality!
Let us not shy away from the beautiful fullness of truth in Orthodox Christianity, but let us also remember Christ’s embodied message of love and understanding, and celebrate truth wherever we may find it. Let us be known as loving ministers to others on their journey towards a deeper relationship with Christ, our Lord and Savior, by building off of Truth wherever we may find it in the world around us!