The Very Reverend John M. Reeves graduated from the University of Texas, Austin in 1971 with a B.A. in comparative studies. He graduated from the School of Theology, the University of the South, Sewanee, TN, with an M.Div. in 1975 and was ordained to the Episcopal priesthood in January of 1976.
In the fall of that same year, the Episcopal Church voted to ordain women to the priesthood. He subsequently converted to Orthodoxy under Archbishop Dmitri of Dallas in 1977.
Father John was ordained to the priesthood of the Orthodox Church in 1981 and has served his entire priestly ministry as founder and pastor of St. George-the-Great-Martyr Orthodox Church, Pharr-McAllen, TX.
He serves his own Diocese of the South as director of its Board of Missions, as well as serving in the Missions Unit of the Orthodox Church in America.
In 1992 Fr. John was one of four convert priests from America sent to Romania by the Romanian Episcopate to participate in a twelve-day preaching mission in that country.
The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld His glory, the glory of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
— John 1:14
Bishop Pike had already denied both the Incarnation and the Resurrection during the 1960s only to be let off with merely a censure by the House of Bishops. The Holy Trinity was only so much excess baggage, and Man, enlightened by his own lights, or psychedelic gnosis, could presume to know what the ancients had not progressed so far as to know. And, in the midst of the storm, Time magazine wondered aloud, Is God Dead? The means by which to express the verities of the Christian faith, as experienced and long proclaimed by various Protestant and Roman Catholic bodies, went through calamitous upheaval in those years prior to my entering seminary.
The upheaval was not soon to be over. In fact, it was my conversion to Orthodoxy in the late 1970s which sought to assure me of safe haven in the Ark of Salvation, escaping the gales of modernism, atomism, and heresy. The Incarnation was confessed and defended. Unlike my home parish in the Episcopal Church, where my rector assured me that belief in the virgin birth was not an essential Christian doctrine, I could now worship in that Church where there was no doubt in Mary’s virginity, not only before but during and after giving birth as well. The Resurrection, the Ascension, the miracles, and Scriptures were no longer held up for scorn and derision.
What I had noticed in Anglicanism’s decline was a curious insistence that words, which once had been man’s standards, both in civil discourse as well as in matters religious, whether of the Scripture or of the much-beloved Book of Common Prayer, was now held beyond the pale of the masses to understand. That Jesus was male was just an accident of history, one of my professors informed our senior class. It ultimately had no meaning. Females were only denied the presbyterate due to the prejudice of prevailing cultures, and, after all, revelation itself was culturally determined, and so on. It was a circular argument, to be sure, and I saw nothing circular about the Incarnation.
Hence, Orthodoxy was indeed my balm in Gilead. I knew down deep, as C.S. Lewis put it, that Christ was either a fraud, a lunatic, or who He said He was. Anglicanism in the U.S. in the 1970s was no longer willing to say that He was unequivocally, or what He was if He in fact had been, or if He had even been a He.
What I noticed all through out was a curious game of words being played out, in the classroom, in the pulpit and in worship. Words were no longer being used as they had always had been used to express reality. Neologisms were constantly being invented and expected to be used as a badge of the new orthodoxy, the theological Newspeak of the 1970s in the Episcopal Church.
Yet, the Word was made flesh. The Son of God became the Son of Man, and any tampering with this basic truth in any form of expression — liturgical, scriptural, or theological — once the community of faith has rightly divided the Word of God’s truth, is fraught with peril.
It was my Anglican experience that has made me a bit leary, a bit jaundiced, to be sure, when I hear of attempts to change the language of Scripture or of liturgy in Orthodoxy. I lived through the days of theological purging of texts of both Scripture and liturgy alike, not to mention the marginalizing of clergy and laity alike who would attempt to protest. So I cannot help but be skeptical when now I hear calls for some of the same from some Orthodox.
So, let us look at language, our faith, and its expression, since I would maintain that tampering with language, its misuse and perversion, ushered in the collapse of traditional Anglicanism’s theological self-understanding. I would maintain also, that unless we learn this lesson well, we could likewise be doomed to repeat it in English-speaking lands.
The Language of Worship
A worshipping community utilizes a specialized vocabulary, whether the community is Christian or Jewish, Shinto or Moslem. This is so precisely because the language of worship conveys those mythic elements that not only define the community but also allow for the transmission of its identity and values from one generation to another, from one century to another. In the case of Christianity, such language has allowed for the transmission of our faith from one culture to another, one race to another, even from the very day of Pentecost, when all those in Jerusalem heard the Gospel, each in his own tongue.
Orthodox Christian translators, whether SS. Cyril and Methodios in the nineth Century or St. Nicholas of Japan a millenium later, knew this principle well. Such an approach to translation demanded precision, not unlike that employed by the Septuagint translators before them. In all cases, the translation was the formal equivalent of that from which it was translated. Each word or term, once defined, would be used consistently throughout the translation so as to render in the new tongue, Greek, Bulgarian, or Japanese, precisely what had been written in the original Hebrew, Greek, or Slavonic. No paraphrase would suffice, since truth was at stake.
So crucial was the role of speech in the communication of the Gospel that St. Basil the Great was wont to write that “we cannot become like God unless we have knowledge of Him, and without lessons there will be no knowledge. Instruction begins with the proper use of speech, and syllables and words are the proper use of speech. Therefore to scrutinize syllables is not a superfluous task. Just because certain questions seem insignificant is no reason to ignore them… . If a man spurns fundamental elements as insignificant trifles, he will never embrace the fullness of wisdom… . If this is so, what theological term is so insignificant that it will not greatly upset the balance of the scales, unless it is used correctly?” [On the Holy Spirit]
St. Basil was writing in good measure concerning the use of prepositions in the various doxologies of different areas of the Church in his day. In a Church still reeling from the effects of Arianism, which denied the divinity of the Son of God by the misuse of a preposition (cf. John 1:1). St. Basil was here defending the divinity of the Holy Spirit.
Grammar mattered. Speech mattered; and it still does. The heresies throughout history have always seemed to turn on the misuse of grammar: a preposition misused in the case of Arianism (cf. John 1:1) and the addition of a single iota to homoousion, such as the case before the First Council; the debate over prepositions written about by St. Basil, and a prelude to the Second; the use of Christotokos instead of Theotokos debated at the Third Council; or, physis versus ousia at the Fourth. The issue of filioque is another.
We should not think that grammar matters only in credal affirmations, only in the writings of the technical documents of the “theologians.” Just as St. Basil wrote concerning the use of liturgical formulas, so too in the worship of the Church — actually, more so in the worship of Church — is this of paramount importance. Lex orandi, lex credendi est. We pray what we believe, and thus to change the language of worship is to change the corpus of belief.
How to move from one language group to another has always been a thorny problem — so thorny in fact that most religions never quite carry it out. The language of cult and nation in most cases, except for Christianity, remains the same. Yet while the language of cult and nation historically have tended to remain the same, in no demonstrable case has it ever been shown that the language of cult is a one-on-one equivalent to the language of that society when not at prayer. Indeed, cultic language is more understood than spoken, if for no other reason than it is by definition an older, fixed form of the idiom passed down from generation to generation. No better examples exist than Biblical and Modern Hebrew, Classical, liturgical Greek versus Modern, or Koranic Arabic and the various Arabic dialects currently spoken.
This principle was one understood by the English (and German) Protestant reformers. The language of worship and Scripture, to quote from the Thirty-Nine Articles of the Church of England, was to be one “understanded of the people” (Article XXIV). No mention was made that it was to be current, in vogue, or any other such thing. In fact, neither the language of the various Book(s) of Common Prayer in English reflected generally spoken English, nor did the German of Luther’s Bible reflect the German spoken daily throughout the German principalities. In either case, however, the language of worship was “understanded of the people.”
In both cases a language was developed to express cultic truth. In the English-speaking world the highpoint of this process was the publishing of the Authorized Version of Scripture in 1611, the so-called King James Version. It can be noted that neither did King James, a Scot, after all, nor the average Londoner speak the English of the Authorized Version. It is quite questionable that anyone actually spoke in the manner of the AV. Yet, not only did the English and the Scots understand it, the English-speaking world still does.
Upsetting the Balance of the Scales
Now, I say that the English-speaking world still understands the English of the AV. However, for the past several decades, a plethora of “new translations” with updated grammar, vocabulary, and syntax, etc. have issued forth. One reason for which has been, we are told, that we in fact do not understand the English of the AV. No one has in fact ever asked me whether I do or not. (I do; for that matter, so do my children.)
First of all, if St. Basil is right, that matters of grammar, that matters of speech, are not mere trifles in the pursuit of Truth, then the burden of proof falls rightly, squarely on the shoulders of those who say that the “outdated English” of, say, the AV is to be replaced by the language spoken by, rather than “understanded of the people.”
However, the style of language is not the real issue. What has issued forth, especially since the Second World War, has not merely been an updating of the English, but a retranslating of scriptural texts, indeed a subtle redefining of the canon of Scripture based upon the opinions of the Bible critics.
The National Council of Churches, for example, introduced in 1952 its Revised Standard Version of the Old and New Testaments. Not only were variant readings based upon “the discovery of many manuscripts more ancient than those upon which the King James Version was based,” (according to the preface) introduced at times by footnote; and at times by insertion into the text, but even the standard rules of English grammar were modified in the use of personal pronouns.
The principle of the latter supposedly was one of continuing to use the familiar, “thou,” with deity, but the formal singular, “you,” with humanity. However, Our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ is consistently addressed as “you.” Simon Peter addresses the Lord directly: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Mt. 16:16) Following the grammatical principles of the RSV, what is one to make of the divinity of Christ?
To argue that the use of the familiar has now fallen out of use, is not spoken, and, by implication, not understood betrays an ignorance of English at best. The familiar was not in common use in 1611: It was in transition and at times used interchangeably in the everyday speech, as well as the perhaps not-so-everyday speech of Shakespeare. So, style is not the real question here. Yet what do the translators mean? By violating the rules of grammar, they certainly bear the burden of proof.
If this seems trifling, let us not forget St. Basil’s words, “what theological term is so insignificant that it will not greatly upset the balance of the scales, unless it is used correctly?” So, let us compare another usage in the AV versus the RSV. In Romans 9:5 we find, “Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen.” (AV)
On the other hand the RSV gives the following: “to them belong the patriarchs, and of their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ. God who is over all be blessed for ever. Amen.”
In the former case, there is an explicit statement of the divinity of Christ; in the latter, there is no connection between Christ and God in terms of essence. If the matter of pronouns appears trifling and inconclusive, the use of a period and introduction of a new sentence instead of the use of the apostrophe, renders an entirely different meaning to the text. If the artificial use of pronouns did not mean intentionally to cast asperions on the deity of Jesus, the instance in Romans is blatant. So while the style is being changed, in these cases doctrine is being changed as well.
So one must ask, what really is at stake? What really is happening here? Of course, the trouble with the NCC approach and its resulting text was that it was not being guided by the mind of the Church, as we Orthodox understand the Church. A Jewish scholar helped in the translation of the RSV Old Testament, for example. Should it be any wonder that Isaiah 7:14 is translated, “Behold, a young woman shall conceive and bear a son,” which is the Jewish, but not the Christian understanding of that passage. The Holy Fathers certainly knew that there was a difference between the Hebrew text and the Greek on this point, and they rightly defended the use of parthenos (Greek: virgin) instead of almah (Hebrew: maid), although the Hebrew itself does not exclude virginity.
Changes such as these should be of great concern for Orthodox Christians, at the very least since we maintain that we possess the fullness of faith. Of course the AV was not translated by Orthodox scholars, either; and it does have its problematical passages itself. However, at least the AV used the so-called Textus Receptus, the Byzantine text as its base, that New Testament canon of Scripture accepted by the Orthodox Church. And the gulf between the Anglican mind-set of the early seventeenth century and Orthodoxy was surely not as great then as it is now.
While this article is not written to defend the AV, it is to take note of a certain modernist, ecumenist approach to language which, while maintaining that it is updating language (language which because it is no longer spoken is declared, ipso facto, to be not understood) is in fact busily “updating” theology as well.
A similar parallel can be observed in my own experience in the Episcopal Church in the 1970s. Revision of the Book of Common Prayer (1928), along with the ordination of women to the priesthood, were two issues which went hand-in-hand, and are indeed not unrelated. Again, U.S. Anglicans were told that they did not understand the English language as used so beautifully in the Book of Common Prayer. Some of this language did date as far back as Cranmer in the sixteenth century, and some was added as recently as 1928. I do not recall ever encountering an Episcopalian in the pew who was lamenting that he “did not understand” the Prayer Book.
Yet some Episcopalians sensed that rather more was at stake than a mere updating of supposedly archaic usage. Nothing could have been more revealing than the “gender-neutral” Psalter of the Proposed Prayer Book (1976). The “gender-neutral” Psalter, adopted in 1979, was a harbinger of things yet to come, not onl=y in the Episcopal Church but in ecumenical circles as well.
Most revealing as to intent was the updating of messianic psalms, such as Psalm 1. “Blessed is the man” became “Happy are they.”
Now, “the Man” of Psalm 1 is the Messiah, according to the witness of the Fathers. (See the article “A Feminist Psalter?” by Chrysostom Castel in The Politics of Prayer: Feminist Language and the Worship of God; Ignatius Press.) The Greek word here used for “the man” in the first psalm is aner, a word which definitely cannot be used generically in Greek. Had the meaning been generic, then anthropos would have been proper. The failure to employ the formal equivalent approach, coupled with politically motivated dishonesty, has resulted in yet another attack on the Person of Christ.
Similar renderings of this Psalm have been executed both by Roman Catholics and the National Council of Churches. Both the Grail Psalter (Roman Catholic) and the NRSV contain even more examples, namely in Psalms 3, 7, 8, 13(14), 14(15), 15(16), 17(18), and 18(19). Whether by ignorance or by design, psalms traditionally understood as messianic by the Church have been altered in the name of gender feminism; and these are egregious errors. What is ultimately at stake is the saving mission of Jesus Christ, the very doctrine of Christ.
The doctrine of Christ, that Jesus was fully God and fully Man (anthropos) in the person of one man (aner) cannot not be updated away, compromised away, or politicized away. And yet I fear that it is not only Protestants and Roman Catholics who have fallen prey to politicizing the Gospel in the name of new translations. Many of the same trends in regard to language — that is, an attack on “archaic” language — are beginning to be heard in certain quarters of the Orthodox Church as well.
There are attempts to render the liturgical texts politically acceptable by omitting generic references to “man,” “men,” and “mankind.” This is in spite of the fact that standard English grammar has always, consistently employed the terms “man,” “men,” and “mankind” generically. In the instances of “man” and “men,” the absence of the article has been the normal sign of the generic. As before, we are now being told that this use is not understood, and that it must be changed. Since we have been told, we must dutifully fall in line with this new linguistic fascism or face that special ostracism reserved for those not in lockstep with the latest political orthodoxy.
Indeed, fascism is not too strong a word to describe this subtle attempt at theological re-imagining. The fascist dictator, Benito Mussolini, attempted to proscribe the use of the pronoun lei in favor of voi, the former being considered effeminate and thereby politically incorrect in the light of Il Duce’s own understanding of the nature of man.
So, is it any wonder that U.S. Anglicans are now authorized to pray to a God who comforts us as a mother? (cf. William Oddie’s What Will Happen to God?; Ignatius Press.) Is it surprising that Roman Catholics and Methodists alike are calling upon God as Creator-Redeemer-Sanctifier, and that some Lutherans and the UCC have been baptizing with this same Sabellian formula? It is any wonder that God is being “re-imagined” by ecumenist organizations into a goddess with milk flowing in her breasts? The language of prayer, or worship, or Scripture has been subtlely reworked over the past several decades while the canon of Scripture has been changed to suit the Bible critics, and a new pantheon is on the horizon.
To change the language of prayer one must at best proceed cautiously, judiciously, and prayerfully lest the corpus of belief be changed too. Even if the initial motivations for language updating were for means of clarity, what has ultimately taken place has not been to update the language at all but to change theology. This has paved a way for heresy and immorality alike. (For in-depth reading concerning gender-feminism, abortion, and attendant lesbianism, kindly see Ungodly Rage; Ignatius Press.)
We Lack Immunity
Many of the same trends in regard to language, that is, an attack on “archaic” language, is beginning to be heard in certain quarters of the Orthodox Church as well. While it would be wonderful to declare that safely ensconced within the walls of Orthodoxy, we would have proven immune to the American preoccupation with gender politics, we cannot. To be sure, we have to endure silly missives on official letterheads greeting us as “sisters and brothers,” or resolutions at times referring to “women and men,” and some Church publications falling prey to the use of “chairperson” or even “chair.” This has been painfully humorous, sort of like going to a restaurant employing wait-persons, and, I suppose, bus-persons: a linguistic fad, perhaps only now picked up by the Orthodox, who tend to lag behind everyone else anyway.
Yet our ecumenist associations have acquainted us with this Newspeak. They have legitimized it. We have been infected and the infection is taking its toll.
Two examples at hand give evidence that the virus of politically correct speech is spreading liturgically in American Orthodoxy as well. One is the 1993 draft of the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, published by a committee appointed by SCOBA (the Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops). The other is entitled Holy Week and Easter, published by Narthex Press and translated by Dr. Leonidas Contos.
At several points the changes are parallel. In the Great Litany, for example, the phrase: enoseos ton panton, is rendered “for the unity of all” in the SCOBA draft and “for the oneness of all” by Contos.
To be sure, the word men is supplied in the English in a petition which addresses peace for the world, the stability of the holy Churches of God, and the unity of all men. To omit the word men obscures the petition’s object: What is its antecedent? Is it “the world?” Is it “the Churches of God?” Or, is it not the unity of the human race which is spoken of? Surely we are not calling for unity of the churches with the world. One would certainly hope not, at any rate.
At any rate, unity cannot be of those not sharing the same substance, the same essence. One can legitimately pray for the unity of all men; even as one can pray for the unity of the Churches of God. But one cannot pray for the unity of the world, the Churches, and all whatever. Peace for the world, stability for the Churches, and the unity of all men, these can be prayed for; but the omission of the noun in English is dubious at best.
Parenthetically, it might be added that the use of the word oneness, instead of unity or union for enoseos, simply implies a faulty grasp of English. Again, without the specific noun men in English, the expression the “oneness” of all can even lead to an inadvertent pantheism. Certainly the concept should seem strange to the Orthodox Christian. Yet again, without the addition of “men,” it is hard to imagine what “oneness” might mean.
A second parallel between the SCOBA document and the Holy Week book occurs in the exclamations using forms of the word philanthropos. Typically this term has been rendered variously as “(thou who) lovest man,” or “the lover of man.” It occurs frequently, in variation, in exclamations, in dismissals, in hymns. It delineates the type of love that God has for man, the relationship that God has with mankind which the rest of creation, including the angels, can never hope to enjoy. Yet, both choose to translate the term, whether as a noun or as an adjective, merely as “loving God.” The scalpel has been used to excise any reference to this particular type of love which God has for mankind in particular.
Again, in the SCOBA text, an insertion is made, that which biblical critics might call an emendation of the text by the hand of a redactor. (Of course a Bible critic would assert that such a redaction renders the text rather defective.) In the priest’s prayer at the Trisagion Hymn it reads: “You have created man and woman in Your image.” A footnote is supplied, referencing Genesis 1:27. Of course Genesis 1:27 reads, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.”
The text is referencing the creation of mankind in the generic sense, of course. And the Scripture, which is virtually quoted in the text of the prayer, is changed to meet someone’s idea of political correctness once more. (The fact that man and woman are seen as equivalent for male and female is more than a bit curious.) The poetry of the Hebrew is lost for those amongst the clergy with a cursory knowledge of the passage, and it can be argued that a double creation of man and woman could be adduced from this reading. Why should it be added at all? Genesis 1:27 does not state this; the liturgical text does not state this. So why must this be invented and thrust upon the faithful?
Finally, both publications here under consideration also have eliminated the generic use of “men,” ( di’imas tous anthropous) in that article of the Creed dealing with the Incarnation. (This same omission occurs in the ICET text, the International Consultation for Common English Texts, an ecumenical version that was quite influential on Anglican revision as well.)
“Who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven and was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary and became man” — this is the wording of the Creed of the Councils. The Incarnation is not merely “for us,” but “for us men.” Quite intentionally, there is a balance in phraseology here, both in Greek and in English, between “for us men” and “became man,” which disappears with the omission. What also potentially disappears is an understanding that the Incarnation is for the entire human race, or that it is for the human race in the first place. It is not due to lack of understanding of the generic that “men” is omitted.
Again, a quite subjective reading of this proposed credal affirmation reduces emphasis on the saving work of Christ for us and for all mankind. Who is to define the word us? Is not “men” the noun and “us” used adjectivally? Finally, who gives any committee the authority to remove words of the Creed, even if it is only “one word”?
One further, common gloss on the liturgical text is found after the Megalynarion, again in both translations. “And all mankind” is given as “And all Your people.” One must grant that the Greek, which is literally approximated by “All he’s and she’s,” would not be grammatically correct and would be unwieldy in English. However, at this point in the liturgy, the entire human race is being prayed for, not merely the people of God, and this is obscured, again in the name of PC.
Beyond Gender Feminism
Finally, there is another even more glaring attempt to conform our English-language texts to politically correct thinking. It goes beyond the issue of gender politics. In the book, Holy Week and Easter, a note appears at the beginning in the “Translator’s Preface”: “The texts contain many references to the Jewish people. For us they have the ring of prejudice. Wherever possible, and permissible within the context, such anti-Semitic elements have been tempered by concern for the worshiper’s sensitivity, and the more enlightened attitude that prevails today.”
The translator considers anti-Semitic expressions such as “ye lawless Jews,” “the synagogue of the transgressors,” as well as other references such as “the Jews,” “the priests,” “the Sanhedrin,” and “the Pharisees.” They are subjected to his linguistic circumcision, multilating the import of the passages in question. Of course, it is only the English translation so affected. The Greek remains untouched and unbloodied, and one can only ask why?
However, in the case of the Enkomia, verses judged anti-Semitic were simply omitted from the English and Greek sides alike.
There is something rather pathetically arrogant about the assertion that such should be removed because we live in more enlightened times. By whose lights are we to judge our enlightenment? If this is anti-Semitism, then by similar standards might our Lord, St. Paul, St. Peter, and St. John be judged to have been anti-Semitic by their own denunciations of what the Jews had done?
Consider as well the words of St. Stephen: “Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Spirit: as your fathers did, so do ye. Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which showed the coming of the Just One: of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers: Who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it” (Acts 7:51,52)?
Rather, we must deal with the fact that our Lord “came unto his own, and his own received him not” (John 1:11). It was “the synagogue,” a specifically Jewish assembly, which transgressed the Law and nailed to the cross the Giver of that same Law. This is not prejudice: It is simple fact. And once more we do not witness to the saving mission of Christ if somehow for one minute we would even hint that there might be another name under heaven given by men, whereby we must be saved (cf. Acts 4:12).
This is reminiscent once again of the Anglicans, when they edited the Reproaches of Good Friday, which parallel in many ways the Enkomia for Great and Holy Friday. B’nai B’rith had objected to their content as being anti-Semitic, and dutifully the offending passages were removed. There was no question about whether or not the passages were true, but they merely offended non-believers and the authority of non-believers held sway.
Where Are We Headed?
I have listed but several parallels from my experience in the Episcopal Church, namely the issue of language in liturgical and scriptural use, coupled with a redaction of the canon of Scripture; the use of language to cater to gender feminism; and the deleting of supposedly “anti-Semitic” hymnody, which I am finding attempted now some twenty years later in certain quarters of the Orthodox Church.
On the one hand, I should not have been so naive as to think that Orthodoxy would at all times earnestly defend the faith once delivered to the saints. I had thought that it always had, and, on the one level, this is correct. The Orthodox, whoever and wherever they are, have done so, even when certain prelates would abandon the very Ark of Salvation.
On the other hand, there have been those moments of accommodation such as Iconoclasm or the Council of Florence which have seen the rise of a Damascene, a Maximos, or a Mark of Ephesus to right our course once more.
However, the signs of these times are not good. When one need only pick up the most recent edition of The Orthodox Church by (Bishop) Kallistos Ware, who opines that the question of the ordination of women in Orthodoxy is now considered an open question, at least by some, then we had best look to every jot and tittle which someone, somewhere, would excise from, or impose upon our lips, our lives, and, ultimately, our souls and bodies, resulting in any revision, any change of our faith.
St. Basil reminds us all that “to scrutinize syllables and words is not a superfluous task. Just because certain questions seem insignificant is no reason to ignore them.” Unless this task is done, done rightly, and done quickly, we shall stand to lose much, even our knowledge of God.
So is the word deja vu? I do not believe in the concept, but I feel that I have seen this all before, and I tremble greatly.
This Article by Father John Reeves appears as an appendix in Frank Schaeffer’s book Letters to Father Aristotle and in Vol. 7 of The Christian Activist and is posted here with permission.