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Word Magazine September 1986 Page 16
Homily By Father James C. Meena
A young seeker after truth once had the opportunity to dialogue with two groups of people. Let us call one group, “The True Sons and Daughters of the American Revolution” and the other “Men and Women for the Contemporary Preservation of American Democracy.” The truth that this young person was searching for concerned the American Revolution. As the dialogue progressed it appeared that while both of these groups considered themselves to be devoted to the subject their opinions varied greatly in almost every important area. The only thing they seemed to agree upon was that there was an American Revolution. It then became necessary for him to research the two groups.
He found that the one group, “The True Sons and Daughters of the American Revolution,” traced its history back to the 18th century. It was organized in about 1790 and its singular dedication was to collect and preserve in its archives all that to be found concerning the history of the Revolution. He also discovered that the other group, “Men and Women for the Contemporary Preservation of American Democracy,” was a recently organized group and that the thrust and purpose of their organization was to develop an understanding of the American Revolution, based on the opinions of modern historians and historical commentaries.
Both groups seemed dedicated to the same purpose, to understand and present the subject in a manner that was clear, concise and “accurate”. But it was incumbent upon that young searcher to determine which of them spoke with the greatest amount of reliability and authority.
That’s a decision modern Christians must make all the time. We are presented with two schools of thought and within these there are many variations. Basically there is the one group that claims to have its origins in the first century of Christianity while the other has its origins some 16 or 17 hundred years later, yet each group insists that it is dedicated to an understanding and presentation of the truths of the scriptures. It is essential for each of us then to ascertain which of them speaks with the greatest degree of authority and authenticity. We identify with that group which has its origins not merely in Apostolic times but in pre-Christian times, that segment of Christianity which insists that its history traces from the beginning of creation. If we are to follow the truths about God, we need to decide which of these groups has the fullness of truth. We claim, as do many others, that we have that fullness. It is necessary for each individual to make a decision. Does the Orthodox Church speak the truth? I submit to you that the Orthodox Church at no time in her rich, glorious, turbulent history has ever discarded a single truth that has been presented to Her by Divine Revelation, Prophecy, Apostolic or Patristic teaching. Not one iota has been changed, not a single meaning has been altered. More than this, nothing has been added because it is the fundamental belief of the Orthodox Church that if truth is absolute then to add to it makes it less than absolute. If you add to that which is already perfect then you make it imperfect.
It’s much too simple to set aside Holy Tradition. It is less troublesome to simply say it’s not significant rather than to get involved in understanding that the fullness of truth includes the teachings of the Apostles and the Fathers of the Church. Sadly those same people who deny the efficacy of the teachings of the Fathers will venerate the lessons of such men as Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, John Wesley or John Knox and consider the teachings of these “Reformers” in almost the same sense as we consider the teachings of the Fathers of the Church, but they will not acknowledge that they have created for themselves their own volume of Holy Tradition and Patristics.
For those of us who are still babes in the understanding of the infinite and changeless truths which God has invested in His Body, the Church, it may be alright to feed for a time on spiritual milk and pablum but we must strive to grow up to the meatier things of the faith, the more substantial truths which will energize us to manifest that which Christ requires of us. It is important that we invest time to assure that out spiritual maturity is a continuing process and that our spiritual growth is not stunted.