Last year I began to explore the Eastern Orthodoxy Church. I’ve read several books on it, joined a facebook group devoted to the curious like myself, and visited an Orthodox Church twice.
Theologically speaking, whenever I feel like I’ve reached a roadblock I tend to look for answers in unfamiliar places. I was taken in by one Orthodox scholar who suggested that in Orthodox theology we “Westerners” might find fresh answers to age-old problems. So I explored it.
I generally like Orthodoxy Theology and find that there is much to glean from and incorporate into my own understanding. I have found the people welcoming, engaging, and warm. I find its tradition rich and classic.
But I cannot bring myself to convert, and here’s why:
Note: I am sharing my heart here. These are not to be in any way strikes against the Orthodox Church, neither am I to be perceived here as attacking it, nor am I offering apologetical reasons for not joining.
- I’m married. As a married man, making a major decision such as this is not one I am obligated to make alone, and neither is it prudent to do so. My wife and I both come from very charismatic pentecostal backgrounds, making a move to any liturgical church would be difficult as it is, and more so if that Church has no instruments. If my wife is not ready for such a move, then by default, neither am I.
- I’m Evangelical. This point might seem circular, but it really hangs on one of my deepest convictions which is that all Tradition must be weighed by Scripture. In theory this point is moot if it can be said that Tradition and Scripture perfectly agree. But then, in theory, if Tradition ever were to make a claim contrary to the Scriptures, I must place the Biblical testimony first. So even in theory, the point still stands.
- What Apostolic Succession? I remain skeptical that something of an Apostolic Succession is actually historically true. Whenever I hear people defend an Apostolic Succession, there seems to be a gap in the timeline lacking actual historical evidence in which “reason” and “logic” seems to fill the gap. (Admitting, of course, that Clement of Rome [1.17] may have talk of something of an Apostolic Tradition, though its doubtful that’s what he had in mind in his context.)
- Practical church related stuff. Where I currently attend church I have friends and family with me, I sit on the church council and I preach on occasion. All of these elements would be lost to me if I made such a move.
- I like to worship with music. I play guitar, and though I no longer play in church, worship with instruments has brought on powerful experiences for me in the past. And just like how a familiar smell can trigger a fond memory, so too is the power of music.
Of course there are other reasons I could explore but these are five off-the-cuff reasons why I cannot jump my Nazarene ship to catch the Eastern cruiser liner.