What does the Orthodox Church have in common with liberal mainline Protestant churches?
Actually… nothing when you think about it. Their commonality is in their complete antithesis. The Orthodox Church is a fortress that probably has not changed one iota since its founding. Mainstream liberal Protestant churches, on the other hand, have given it all away in an effort to be socially relevant. The former is one of the true bastions of historic Christianity, while the latter is letting it all hang out.
Something is to be said for a sense of history and the Orthodox faith understands this well. Church fathers spoke long ago, but still speak today. Orthodoxy remembers.
And yet, there are not many around to do the remembering. People are born into the church, but in all the years I have lived, I have never once had anyone of Orthodox faith ever approach me about Jesus. I don’t know anyone of Orthodox faith. In short, where is the church’s presence in the world?
That’s the problem with fortresses. They keep the world out, but they keep themselves in, as well.
Mainline Protestantism, on the other hand, can’t keep the world out, and has done a good job of losing their brightest and best to the ranks of evangelicalism, charismatic churches, and splinter groups. Between the Methodists, Lutherans, Presbyterians, and Church of Christ, they’ve probably spawned a hundred splinter denominations, each one seeking to correct the errors of the parent church.
The Jesus of a large bulk of mainline Protestantism is unrecognizable to more conservative Christians. In kind, the Bible is of questionable origin, too patriarchal, and phobic of just about every people group known to Man that fails to go by the acronym, “W.A.S.P.” Christianity is pretty much what you make of it. Absolute Truth? Who needs it!
Despite the soul-numbing “neo-fusion-syncretism” of the mainline churches, they do have one thing going for them: they understand the needs of the neediest. These churches built many of the hospitals, orphanages, senior homes, and community centers found in this country. That contribution is hard to ignore. And despite the fact that many of those accomplishments are in the past, these churches still manage to be on the cutting edge of helping others.
The Christianity that makes the world stand up and take notice is one that blends the best of both. It looks outside, seeing the need and meeting it, bringing the Gospel into the darkness. It also keeps the darkness outside the camp, protecting that which must be guarded and doing it relentlessly. History cannot be forgotten, either, since we must learn from the past and cherish it as part of our link to the Lord Jesus Himself.