Monday, February 10, 2014

Two Plus Two Equals Five; Really…..It Does

I live in a city filled with Bible studies. They take place mornings before work, afternoons during lunch, evenings after dinner, and just about every other throughout the day. They are lead by ordained and non-ordained pastors, pious men and women trained in regional seminaries, and otherwise faithful believing Christians that encourage the study of the Holy Scriptures. There are Bible studies just for men, just for women, just for seniors, just for “at home” moms, and any other subcategory you can think of. Oh….and I host an Orthodox Christian Bible study at our Church FOR ANYONE every week.

You might wonder what Bible study and first grade math have in common. Well, because there is such a plethora of Bible study options in Florence, several Orthodox Christian faithful who desire to learn the Scriptures, attend some of these Bible studies with their friends. Some also come to the Orthodox Christian Bible study, but not all. If you haven’t noticed, with more than 30,000 Christian, not every Christian Church interprets the Scriptures the same, and herein is the parallel.

If your children attended a math class with declared 2+2=5, you would IMMEDIATELY remove your children for fear they would learn incorrect math. You may still not see the comparison. What would do if that same math teacher insisted that 2+2=5, and then further insisted that you as parents were overreacting by removing your children? Right….you would remove them because EVERYONE knows 2+2=4, and refuse to allow your children to be influenced by ignorant math teachers.

It’s possible the reason you still don’t understand the comparison, is because, well, everyone DOES know that 2+2=4 and NOT 5. You can’t even imagine otherwise, and when you think of the Bible, you can’t imagine Churches would teach something wrong. You may even say to yourself, (I’ve actually heard it) “Well, at least they’re learning the Bible.” So, why not react to math facts with the same open-mindedness? I suspect it is because you don’t think there is only ONE interpretation of the Scriptures, so why get so worked up about it.

The reality is, with over 30,000 denominations of Christianity, EVERY Church thinks they are correct in their interpretation of the Scriptures. Let’s face it. There wouldn’t be over 30,000 denominations if everyone agreed. As Orthodox Christians, we believe other Churches do not teach the complete truth about Jesus Christ, His Church, His way of life, the Holy Apostles, Church History OR Doctrine. So why would we trust our children (or adult family and friends) to a Bible study that is not the complete truth?

Let me offer an example. For more than two years, a man was attending the Orthodox Christian Bible study in my parish. He almost never missed a week. I would watch him week after week nodding his head in agreement with what I taught. One evening, I mentioned to his friend who was a parishioner of mine, to be “on the lookout for confusion” of his friend. He wouldn’t be able to continue to balance the truth being taught in my Bible study and the “truth” he was hearing from his pastor. The very next day, the friend received a call, “I can’t accept what your Priest is saying. My pastor says he’s wrong.” And we never saw him again. From the Orthodox Christian point-of-view of course, the pastor was wrong rather than the Church. It was as if the pastor was saying, “2+2=5, REALLY….don’t believe that Priest who is trying to tell you 2+2=4.”

It’s about time we start to insist with equal zeal that our children (or adult family and friends) learn the truth about Jesus Christ from the Church. It might not be as clear as 2+2, but it is eternally more important.

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