A couple months ago, I had an idea to write a book on the dirty laundry that us Orthodox Christians have lingering around – mostly in part to vent my concerns on paper. I don’t know if I’ll ever get started on it, whether it will even see fruition, but I thought it’d be worth sharing the preface I had written for it.
The landscape of Orthodoxy has always contained conflict and trial in one way or another. From the proto-Church under Babylonian exile, to the early Church under the Roman Empire, to the wars against the Sassanids and the eventual occupation under the Ottomans, and to the persecutions of Christians under the Soviet Union, the Orthodox Church is no stranger to struggle. On the contrary, millions upon millions have given their lives and their dignity for something greater than all that the world could offer, eternal life in Christ. That isn’t to include the countless internal disputes amongst ourselves, our neighbors, and even within our own person. The life of a Christian is one of struggle and tribulation, no matter what anyone in our modern era might suggest. Nonetheless, it is not a life of sorrow and despair, but a labor of love for God and those around us. As St. Paul wisely instructs, “the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. [Romans 8:18, Revised Standard Version]” This day and age is no different.
What I am seeking to reveal, dear reader, are the sufferings and tribulations that we are facing today as Orthodox Christians. For many of us here in the West, including myself, the present age has given us a plethora of information and opinion — in other words, the events themselves that I will be speaking of will not be novel to most of you. For some, including myself, you may occupy too much of your time delving into the sea of input and noise. For others, you may keep ignorance toward these issues, not to suggest that doing so is unwise. Finally, there may be those who are approaching the faith, whether inquiring or those who are in the process of catechesis, who find themselves amid a battlefield, unaware of what is truly Orthodox and what is not.
I do not seek to entertain those on either side of the aisle when it comes to the issues I will discuss, nor do I wish to proclaim myself or my views as a representation of authentic Orthodoxy. Rather, I want to put these issues into perspective of the entire Church, to address the underlying problems within, and to inspire dialogue between fellow laymen, deacons, priests, monks and hierarchs. My inspiration to write this “essay collection” of sorts is because I find myself between a rock and a hard place, where both sides proclaim authentic Orthodoxy over the other, and I know with certainty that I am not the only one.
It saddens me greatly to find the one, holy, apostolic Church plagued by those within. As new pieces of rot begin to form, it only spreads by those validating it — whether it be by agreement or disagreement — and those of authority not providing ample guidance to those who are obedient to them merely perpetuate it by omission. I write this as a plea to Orthodox Christians around the world, whether laity or clergy, to seek true unity in faith and reject to entertain these demonic influences that only serve to divide and condemn us. In the world we may find tribulation, but we must take heart and unite as one in the struggle against it, for Christ has overcome the world, and we must take the Holy Spirit by force.Seraphim R. Pardee
Saturday before Holy Cross
Year of our Lord 2021