Monday, June 24, 2013

"It is not the one thing...." (The Perilous Balance)

Christianity is not love. It is not peace, nor justice, nor joy, nor goodness, nor beauty, nor moderation, nor wisdom. It is not about compassion to the oppressed or violence to the oppressor, neither the defense of the weak nor the defiance of the strong. It is not about truth. It is not about experience. It is not any one of these things. Rather, it is every one of these things all working in tandem to create a whole that is not reducible to its parts. To reduce it is to lose it; it is a perilous balance.

Orthodoxy is not any one thing. It is all ideals and virtues and good things working together in a tight, unbreakable, irreducible oneness, for it is the very truth of God, who is the summation of all ideals and virtues and good things in a tight, unbreakable, irreducible oneness. As our God is all good things working together in one person, and as the fruits of His Spirit are all good things working in our person, and as the Body of His Christ are many members with many gifts spread out across nations, tribes, and tongues all working together whether they realize it or not, so too Orthodoxy is an ingenious collaboration of all truth working together into a singular creed.

In our Father's house are many rooms, rooms for many and all shades of His glory, all facets of His beauty. The pacifists are there as well as the militant, the Franciscans as well as the Dominicans. The apologist and the artist and the social worker are there. The high church and the low are there, the traditional and the contemporary. All good things, all things true and honorable and just and pure and lovely and commendable and excellent and praiseworthy, all these things are ours for the taking, the thinking, the doing. All are acceptable to God. Let no mouth open to gainsay any of them. Let no brother gainsay his sister, and let no sister gainsay her brother. Let no pacifist gainsay the militant, and let no militant gainsay the pacifist. All belong in the balance; the absurdity called pacifism will balance the insanity called militancy.

Let all things be done in the image of our God, who is peaceful and wrathful, true and beautiful, compassionate and holy, human and divine. Let no heresy rise to reduce Him; let no ignorance rise to diminish Him. Not because He can be reduced or diminished, but because the reduction and the diminishment does damage to the heretic and ignorant (those terrible simplifiers), causing them to lose the whole that is God, for God is a whole. A single, simple whole who is irreducible and indiminishable. He is an infinitely faceted jewel, a stained-glass window whose design and beauty knows no end or paraphrasing, and is large enough to hold all good and true and beautiful things in His hands.

-Jon Vowell (c) 2013

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