Contra principia negantem non est disputandum
Or, why I am not an apologist.
Now that I have began posting my writings on my Orthodox faith, I want to make clear that this is not an apologetics blog. Its purpose is not to convince people that Orthodoxy is the true, Apostolic Faith, or that the Eastern Orthodox communion is the Church that Christ founded. I have several reasons for this, which I will briefly outline below.
1) I am not qualified, because,
a) I do not have any formal, Church-approved education in these matters.
There’s nothing magical about seminary education, but it gives you a chance to learn history and theology from experts and under the supervision of a Bishop.
b) I am not ordained.
Ordination does not make a priest more than human, or automatically morally superior to anyone else, but it gives them authority that is passed down from the Apostles to teach the faith and guide the people. Each and every Orthodox bishop is an heir to the Apostles, and when he ordains a priest, he bequeaths to that priest authority and permission to teach the faith, exert authority over their flocks, and defend the faith from heresy and attack. Deacons share these duties, as well. I firmly believe that anyone making arguments for the veracity of the Orthodox faith should either be ordained, or be under the strict supervision of someone who is.
2) I am not cut out to be an apologist, because,
a) I have the diplomatic skills of a drunken Klingon.
I am a very passionate person, which I don’t see as a flaw, per se, but passion does not lend itself to tempered, reasonable discussion, which is needed when arguing with heretics. I’m also a fervent convert who now despises her former faith, and given that most of the people who speak out against Orthodoxy these days are evangelicals of the kind whose company I once kept, I cannot be objective or sympathetic to them.
b) I believe, having learned from experience, that academic apologetics are usually a waste of time.
The Scriptures do say to always have an answer when someone asks why you hold the hope that you do (1 Peter 3:15), but I believe that the answer does not have to be a long-winded exposition on all the reasons Orthodoxy is the true faith. That answer can just as well come in the form of taking someone to church to see the Apostolic faith in action. Personally, I believe the latter will always be far more effective, because a physical encounter with the ancient faith is much more powerful than any intellectual or emotional argument. Evangelism is certainly a duty of every Orthodox Christian, but there are many ways of spreading the Gospel.
3) Contra principia negantem non est disputandum, Latin for “Against one who denies the principles, there can be no debate.”
In order for there to be any meaningful dialogue between people on any issue, certain fundamental principles must be agreed upon. Among all Trinitarian Christians there are certain things we agree on, such as the existence of God, the three-persons-in-one-essence nature of God, Christ as God incarnate, His miraculous birth, His death and Resurrection, etc. Tragically, these principles have not been enough to prevent the Church from splitting, and various non-Orthodox denominations may have more or less in common with Orthodoxy.
Personally, I see much more common ground between the Orthodox and the Catholics than I do differences. But between the Orthodox and most Protestants, particularly the “low church” kind who came out of the more radical, later years of the Reformation, there is more that divides us than holds us together. Evangelicals are the loudest and shrillest evangelists and apologists out there nowadays, but there is really no way to have a meaningful debate with them. In order for there to be worthwhile dialogue between us, evangelicals have to accept some basic principles, a few of which include:
- That Christ founded a visible, united Church on Earth, and that only that Church is His Bride and His Body;
- That God did not in fact allow a great apostasy at any point in history, during which the true faith as revealed by Christ was swallowed up in a bunch of human codswallop and remained hidden for over 1000 years;
- That the Scriptures do not contain the entirety of God’s revelation, and that some aspects of the faith (such as liturgical worship, certain sacraments, the prominence of the Theotokos, the canonization of certain people as saints, etc.) have been passed down orally and through practice, without any written instructions making it into the canon of Scripture;
- That the Apostles and their successors, the bishops, share a priesthood with all believers but have an eldership that we all don’t have, and that by the laying on of hands(not by anything within themselves) they have certain powers to administer sacraments that the rest of us don’t have; and
- The Church created the Bible, the Bible did not create the Church. The Bible didn’t just drop out of Heaven to be used as an instruction book. It was created by the Church, for use within the Church.
I could go on, but I think you get the point; these things are common stumbling blocks for people coming out of Protestantism. Rarely can you talk someone into changing firmly-held beliefs, and until people are prepared to let go of their false assumptions, there’s not much you can do for them. I cannot talk any Protestant out of the delusions I too once held, and until they are at least somewhat open to Orthodoxy, I can do nothing except share my own story.
That is what I’m setting out to do here. The only person’s journey I really know is my own, and I feel the best way to share the Gospel is through my own experience. So please, to any heterodox Christians reading this, don’t bother writing to me trying to talk me out of Orthodoxy or drag me back from whence I came, and do not use the comment section to spew your bile. I recognize it immediately and will not post it, as I won’t allow this site to become a platform for your heresies.