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Denomination Discombobulation: The Disorienting Effect of Protestantism and Conciliar Post

Sitting in my cushy Sunday morning chair, immediately following a fairly lengthy sermon, my Presbyterian church’s suit-clad pastor prepares the congregation for the weekly partaking of the Lord’s Supper. I think to myself, Isn’t it interesting, other congregations from other traditions on this very morning are probably kneeling or chanting or something at this point in their liturgy. And how come the pastor isn’t wearing some special clothing or collar or something? Other traditions do that stuff right?

“God has not left us with mere doctrine,” the pastor explains, “He has given us tangible signs of our salvation, such that we can taste and see that the Lord is good. God’s faithfulness to his people is expressed in this very meal.” Here is that beautiful Calvinist teaching I’ve come to know and love, tasting and seeing the Lord is good. Wonderful. Yet, don’t the historic traditions (ya know, the ones existed before the Reformation) believe that it is not merely God’s faithfulness expressed in the meal, but Christ’s very presence, body and blood?

The congregation moves toward the front, row by row, until it’s my turn up to the front. I move toward the bread and wine, standing behind the next in line. Waiting for the line to move, I recognize that the walls and windows are bare, the only fixture in the room is a single cross hanging above the pastors serving the meal. Why must the room be so bare, devoid of any images of the Christ I am told is so faithful to me? I guess some of the Reformers thought iconography to be idolatrous, but how would my experience of the Eucharist be different with peculiarly Christian construction and art surrounding me?

If you let it, Conciliar Post will disorient you. Here, virtually every doctrine and practice that is essential to a particular Christian tradition, from predestination to Popes to the Real Presence, have been and will be discussed and debated. For some, particularly those on this blog who have settled into the rigid ecclesiologies (I mean this with respect) of Orthodoxy or Catholicism, these virtual exercises will bring opportunities for clarification of one’s own views, rather than consideration of taking on another tradition.1 For others like myself within the fragilities of Protestantism, Conciliar Post contains the reader/writer within a plethora of possibilities, creating what philosopher Charles Taylor calls cross pressures, defined as “the simultaneous pressure of various spiritual options.”2

This unique environment of diverse writers from a variety of theological traditions, coupled with the historical location of Conciliar Post within 21st century America, creates three distinct disorienting effects.

First, Conciliar Post focuses and tightens the cross pressures already existent within American Christianity. Here in America, as we all know, virtually within any town or city in which we live, there are a number of different spiritual options for the Christian believer, seen most especially within the Bible Belt’s “church on every corner.” Most of the time, individualistic Americans are pretty good at sequestering themselves within these spiritual enclaves, rarely coming into meaningful-dialogue-contact with those of another Christian tradition. Further, It seems that the internet fosters this spiritual segregation, creating website hot spots for any plausibility structure one may wish to cultivate.4

By bringing together each of these “churches on the corner” together to have “meaningful dialogue across Christian traditions,” Conciliar Post forces one to understand (albeit virtually and maybe too intellectually) that there are a multitude of Christianities within this thing we call “Christianity.” Key terms such as “gospel,” “atonement,” and “body and blood” are interpreted, practiced, and utilized differently within each church on the corner. This is disorienting indeed.

Second, Conciliar Post forces Protestants to readily disagree with one another, bringing Reformational disagreements to the 21st century, revealing that there is no authoritative “center” to Protestantism or Evangelicalism. When I started to write for Conciliar Post, I tended to view the Baptists, Methodists, and Lutherans of this blog as intellectual and spiritual allies against the onslaught (to be tongue-in-cheek) of Orthodox and Catholics on the blog. We all believe in the five solas (most essentially sola scriptura), I reasoned, so we must pretty much be on the same page when it comes to the essentials of the faith.

However, I’ve come to find out that there isn’t a true center of authority on which I could believe that my fellow Protestants are my intellectual and spiritual allies. Opposition to certain forms of sacramentalism doesn’t work, those Lutherans and Anglicans seem to insist that’s pretty essential. A general agreement on soteriology doesn’t really work, my crazy Calvinism seems to be the odd-ball in every conversation. Thinking that Catholics and Orthodox are deficient Christians in some way, maybe that they are semi-Pelagian or have a deficient view of justification, has been disproved time and time again by the beautiful writings of the Catholic and Orthodox on this blog.

Moreover, once one begins to do historical research on the Reformation, one finds that Protestants never intended to be fundamentally united with one another. There was no comfortableness with a generic “evangelicalism,” or a unity on the five solas, or a simple appeal to an “invisible church.” Countries, governments, and lands were separated based on distinct practices of the Lord’s Supper (among other things), there was simply no Gospel Coalition or Christianity Today or mutual love of Billy Graham with which to create a common ground authoritative center. Maybe if we were more historically aware of the origins of our traditions, Protestants wouldn’t be so comfortable with each other’s supposedly “minor” or “non-essential” beliefs. Conciliar Post’s Round Tables continue to re-present this historical truth of the disunity of Protestants/Evangelicals on central truths of faith and practice. Disorienting indeed.

Third, within this disorientation, we are all heretics. There is no simple “receiving the faith handed down from the apostles,” as the Orthodox on this blog are want to emphasize. No writer on this blog (with the potential exception of Deion Kathawa) was raised and remained within a Christian tradition that claims to be the once-and-for-all historic Christian faith. It is truly awesome to read the author profiles on this website and see the massive variety of explorations, unsettled convictions, and conversions.

By “heretic,” I mean the original Greek definition of the term utilized by Irenaeus in his tract Against Heresies, meaning “one who chooses.”4 In Irenaeus’s time, a heretic would be one chose to believe contrary to the faith received and handed down from the apostles. The difficult thing for the authors of Conciliar Post is that no one has received and remained with a Christian tradition that claims to be handed down from the apostles. Again, none of us were born, baptized, and bred within a tradition that claims to be the historic Christian faith of the apostles. In effect, then, even those who have converted to Catholicism/Orthodoxy/Anglicanism (the traditions that claim to be the unbroken historic Christian faith), have utilized heresy (“choosing”). For one (like me) who is exploring the truth of these supposedly “received” traditions, I have to, in an awkward sense, heretically choose to enter into these historic communities if I were to convert. Disorienting indeed.

And yet, in the midst of it all, Conciliar Post continually calls its writers and readers to reflect on how we may be “one,” just as Christ is in the Father (John 17:21). Disorienting indeed.

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  1. August 17, 2015 at 1:13 pm

    George, I always enjoy and am challenged by your pieces—this is no exception. Sometimes I wonder if we at Conciliar Post focus too much on our differences rather than ‘mere Christianity’, I wonder if we are adding to the schisms of the past or helping folks to close the gaps they think are there… Like you, it’s a bit disorienting at times to engage with the ideas and doctrines that drive other believers whom I respect (and respectfully disagree with). But it has also pushed me into thinking why I believe what I do even more. CP helps me to indeed respect other believers, to honestly-but-kindly disagree, and to still remain in fellowship with them. What a strange and beautiful thing, this Body of Christ!

    • August 17, 2015 at 2:09 pm

      I think the point of the article is that there is no such thing as a “mere Christianity.” E.g., we may talk about “mere Christianity” but where is the list that details what this is? If we each drew up such a list, it would look different. Which leaves us where we started.

      • August 17, 2015 at 4:15 pm

        I think George was pointing out (set me straight if I’m incorrect) that there is less cohesiveness amongst protestant believers than amongst Orthodox and Catholic believers… And even though we [all branches of Christendom] differ on various topics, we still believe in Jesus for salvation (not ourselves, our works, or the saints). We believe various things are important (baptism, the Eucharist, and Scripture), we just place different amounts of importance on them. There is more that unifies us than separates us.

        • George Aldhizer
          August 17, 2015 at 7:29 pm

          So, I was attempting to raise the questions that Ben asks in reference to the supposed “mere Christianity.” I’m attempting to wrestle with if there is such a thing, and even if there was such a thing, it would seem to be alien to the Reformation itself.

          I guess I have this very real urge to hold onto a sort of mere Christianity, because if not how can we affirm that each other are “Christians”? I dunno though. I wanna keep hearing yalls thoughts on this.

          For example, Catholics/Orthodox/Lutherans/and probably Anglicans would claim that it is absolutely essential that we have the real body/blood of Christ in the Eucharist, whereas placing that as an “essential” on our mere Christianity list would keep all other Protestants outside the fold.

          Also, I guess my article was kinda saying that “mere Christianity” is antithetical to the reformation. It’s a very modern concept that tries to bring a baseline sense of unity, where maybe unity doesn’t actually exist and wasn’t supposed to.

          Also, when I think of how Orthodox/Catholics would think of a “mere Christianity,” it would seem to concede to an existence of an “invisible church,” which these groups do not want to affirm. Maybe this is a serious problem for Catholics/Orthodox, a lack of a framework for thinking of how Christians could be really Christians if they do not gather within the walls of their churches. I dunno. I wanna keep pursuing what yall think.

          Do the Catholics and Orthodox of this blog believe that “there is more that unifies us than separated us?” Can a non-Protestant affirm a framework of “essentials” and “non essentials” to the faith?

          • ScaramoucheTheGadfly
            August 18, 2015 at 12:17 pm

            I’ve been wrestling with the Eucharistic ideas held by the various traditions and how we can be united in spite of the differences.
            My thoughts are still scattered but my understandings are as follows: Christ came into a Jewish setting so the Eucharist is an extension/reinterpretation/fulfillment of Passover.

            The Jews probably would not have understood Jesus to mean to actually eat His very real flesh and drink His very real blood. Mosaic Law would prohibit this on multiple grounds. This seems to eliminate the Actual Presence belief of my Roman Catholic/Orthodox/and some Anglican brothers.
            But Paul speaks of receiving the bread and wine in an unworthy manner and so “some have fallen asleep” (i.e. died) as a result.

            That last part seems to eliminate a Memorial meal like my Reformed/Protestant/Evangelical brothers insist. If it’s just a memorial, why do people get sick and die if they perform it incorrectly?

            Because of their views, some congregations hold to a Closed Communion and I applaud them for this. If they believe that we are handling the actual body and blood of Jesus then only those who agree should be allowed to draw near to the table.
            However, I also love the open table view of most Protestant/Evangelicals that say that the table is open to all who confess Christ and are baptized (oops! Did I just slip something in there?).

            To quote the author of this article: “Disorienting indeed”.

            • August 19, 2015 at 2:07 am

              Out of curiosity, do your Anglican friends hold to the Thirty-nine Articles in the Book of Common Prayer?

              Number twenty-eight clearly eschews the ‘real presence’:

              “[The Lord’s Supper] is a Sacrament of our Redemption by Christ’s death: insomuch that to such as rightly, worthily, and with faith, receive the same, the Bread which we break is a partaking of the Body of Christ; and likewise the Cup of Blessing is a partaking of the Blood of Christ.

              Transubstantiation (or the change of the substance of Bread and Wine) in the Supper of the Lord, cannot be proved by holy Writ; but is repugnant to the plain words of Scripture, overthroweth the nature of a Sacrament, and hath given occasion to many superstitions.

              The Body of Christ is given, taken, and eaten, in the Supper, only after an heavenly and spiritual manner.”

              • George Aldhizer
                August 19, 2015 at 9:41 pm

                Jody, do some high church/anglo-Catholic Anglicans disagree with this article of the faith? How much diversity surrounding the Lord’s Supper exists in the Anglican Communion?

                I guess it’s interesting that the official anglican doctrine (if the 39 articles are to be considered this) concerning the Lord’s Supper seems to be the same as Calvin/John Knox.

                • August 20, 2015 at 4:59 pm

                  Wow, I return to quite the discussion… George, I suppose some Anglo-Catholics might think of the Eucharist as Real Presence, but that is a dividing factor amongst Anglicans and Catholics, seemingly. Anglicans are pretty clear about what a sacrament is: an outward sign of an inward reality (as opposed to Real Presence and Memorialism). The bread and wine are bread and wine, but they become spiritual body and blood for the believer.

                  I’ve been to ‘low’ Anglican churches as well as ‘high’ and was baptised Anglo-Catholic, but I still feel very much on the edges of Anglicanism after my evangelical upbringing. If another Anglican wants to clarify further, please do!

              • ScaramoucheTheGadfly
                August 20, 2015 at 4:43 pm

                To add to my wrestlings, I have friends on both sides of the fence. Hahaha!

            • August 19, 2015 at 3:18 pm

              Hello! It is quite interesting that you would mention the Jews and passover. After slaughtering the lamb and applying the blood to the doorposts, they ate the lamb (Ex. 12:8). The confirming factor for me, when I was struggling through this very issue, was when I read Leviticus. The prefiguring is amazing and I came out believing in the real presence.

              The exhortation not to “drink the blood” of animals is presented because “the life is in the blood” (Leviticus 17:11). It’s also interesting that Jesus uses this kind of language in John 6:41-56 when talking about eating and drinking his blood. In verse 54 he says that anyone who eats and drinks his blood have eternal life.

              Just as food is broken down into nourishment for our bodies, literally becoming a part of us of bodies, so too his Holy body is broken for our nourishment—not that he might become a part of our bodies but that we might become a part of his!

              • ScaramoucheTheGadfly
                August 20, 2015 at 4:48 pm

                Great thought.
                On the flip side, I once heard an Anglican teaching in which the priest said that Christ is present Spiritually in the Eucharist. He said that he didn’t mean in a “make believe” way. He stated that their diocese doesn’t hold to transubstantiation but believes that Christ is present in a very real – albeit non tangible – way.
                I guess that’s where I feel most comfortable with the whole topic. However, I’m not content to feel “comfortable” if I’m in error.
                This is the kind of thing that keeps me up late at night.

                • August 20, 2015 at 6:21 pm

                  I completely understand. My personal thought on the “Spiritual presence” is how is it actually defined? It seems (almost purposefully) ambiguous. St. Raphael of Brooklyn had this same problem when he was dialoguing / studying the Anglican Church to see if a union with Orthodoxy was possible. He would up saying,

                  “I am convinced that the doctrinal teaching and practices, as well as the discipline, of the whole Anglican Church are unacceptable to the Holy Orthodox Church. I make this apology for the Anglicans whom as Christian gentlemen I greatly revere, that the loose teaching of a great many of the prominent Anglican theologians are so hazy in their definitions of truths, and so inclined toward pet heresies that it is hard to tell what they believe. The Anglican Church as a whole has not spoken authoritatively on her doctrine. Her Catholic-minded members can call out her doctrines from many views, but so nebulous is her pathway in the doctrinal world that those who would extend a hand of both Christian and ecclesiastical fellowship dare not, without distrust, grasp the hand of her theologians, for while many are orthodox on some points, they are quite heterodox on others. I speak, of course, from the Holy Orthodox Eastern Catholic point of view. The Holy Orthodox Church has never perceptibly changed from Apostolic times, and, therefore, no one can go astray in finding out what She teaches. Like Her Lord and Master, though at times surrounded with human malaria—which He in His mercy pardons—She is the same yesterday, and today, and forever (Heb. 13:8) the mother and safe deposit of the truth as it is in Jesus (cf. Eph. 4:21).”

                  On Holy Communion, he wrote:

                  “As to the doctrine concerning Holy Communion the Anglican Communion has no settled view. The Orthodox Church teaches the doctrine of transubstantiation without going into any scientific or Roman Catholic explanation. The technical word which She uses for the sublime act of the priest by Christ’s authority to consecrate is “transmuting” (Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom). She, as I have said, offers no explanation, but She believes and confesses that Christ, the Son of the living God Who came into the world to save sinners, is of a truth in His “all-pure Body” and “precious Blood” (Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom) objectively present, and to be worshiped in that Sacrament as He was on earth and is now in risen and glorified majesty in Heaven; and that “the precious and holy and life-giving Body and Blood of Our Lord and God and Saviour Jesus Christ are imparted” (to each soul that comes to that blessed Sacrament) “Unto the remission of sins, and unto life everlasting” (Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom).”

                  Aside from those thoughts, another thought comes to mind: it seems that holding to a “spiritual presence” unwittingly forces one to parse the physical from the spiritual. But we are physical and spiritual beings, not just one or the other—and it is both of these aspects of the human, the spiritual and physical which cannot be parsed, that must be sanctified by Christ. Otherwise, why did Christ bother actually taking on flesh?

                  • ScaramoucheTheGadfly
                    August 20, 2015 at 10:40 pm

                    Man, this just keeps getting better and better.
                    Ok, I think I understand St. Raphael’s line of thinking on the Eucharist. Here’s one area that holds me back. An Anglican priest I heard (OK. I admit that I’m a closet Anglican in many ways) said that the reason he resisted the idea of transubstantiation was that it “did violence” to Christ’s humanity (his words, not mine). He explained that the bread and wine are definitely representative of Christ but when the priest blesses it — in RC theology – the elements cease to be bread and wine and become the Actual Presence. If that’s so, then we are partaking of Christ only in a spiritual nature and not a physical one. Or rather, we are setting aside the physical aspect of Christ for the spiritual only.

                    On St. Raphael’s first quote, I am saddened by the state of Anglicanism today and I agree with much of his views. There are efforts to try and correct the errors but they are always viewed as fringe movements and not part of the Communion.
                    Many times, I have sought out and/or been offered the opportunity for ordination within one or more of those groups but I always hesitate. I’m already in a fractured movement (Evangelicalism, although I don’t consider myself Evangelical, either) so I reason that it’s of no lasting benefit to join another. I do, however, thank God for their orthodox teachers whom I value and grow from.

                    Thanks for this blog, Ben. You have no idea how grateful I am for it.

                    • August 21, 2015 at 9:34 am

                      Thank you, for participating in the comments. My only thought at this point on what the Anglican priest said about “violence” to Christ’s humanity is that I have absolutely no idea what that means. I’ll leave you with this thought: Did Christ’s miracle of changing the water to wine actually change the water truly changed into wine? For the Orthodox, there is no scientific explanation of the Eucharist except it is Christ, objectively present. There is no parsing it by Aristotelian logic. It, like most things in Christianity, is a great mystery. Indeed, what a mystery! God became man?! Born of a Virgin?! Rose from the Dead?! Praise God!

      • mmchanb
        August 19, 2015 at 3:05 pm

        Hi, Ben. The fact that we have different lists does not change the fact that there are essentials which tie all of us together. If there were not essentials of unity, surely Conciliar Post would not exist. I would submit that the Petrine confession in Matthew 16:16 is the foremost among our unifying factors. When I ask orthodox Christians about the kingship of Jesus, they all readily and heartily agree. When I have asked Mormons, Watchtower “Witnesses,” and so-called “Moonies” of the Unification Church, all have shown great hesitation before agreeing. It is this confession which undergirds everything else, including baptism across every branch of our great faith.

        With all due respect, the fact that people claim different unifying essentials does not determine whether there are, in fact, unifying essentials – just as Paul taught us there are in Ephesians 4:4-6.

        • August 19, 2015 at 3:11 pm

          Hi, Matthew. Thanks for your comment. Regardless of whether or not certain things overlap (which, indeed they do), unity does not consist in stripping all other elements from Christianity and focussing on what does overlap. Such an unity is a superficial unity (of head knowledge). Real unity, as taught in Ignatius and other fathers, consists in Eucharist communion.

          • mmchanb
            August 19, 2015 at 3:35 pm

            Tragically, Eucharist practices now divide much the catholic body. I don’t find Paul’s list of essential unity to be superficial however. Surely Ignatius and company had no intent of usurping Paul. I would not be allowed to partake in Orthodox Eucharist with you today, Ben. Yet because you agree with the Petrine confession, I am confident and glad that I deeply and sincerely am united with you in “one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.” I am not offended if you lack the same confidence in me. You are appreciated!

            • August 19, 2015 at 3:53 pm

              Eucharistic practices do not divide the Orthodox Church. Paul also says we are One Body because we partake of the One Body. 1 Cor 10:16-17 “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? 17 For we, though many, are one bread and one body; for we all partake of that one bread.”

              You are right in saying you would not be able to partake of the Eucharist in the Orthodox Church. This is how the Historic Church safeguarded the doctrines and practices of the Church. People who propounded heresy were not allowed in the “communion.”

              So are the sacraments of those “outside of the Church” valid? After all the bishops who were excommunicated due to their beliefs continued to “practice” in heretical sects. This question came up in History and St. Cyprian (and others) say no, they are not valid.

              Where does this leave us? It is very difficult. But we can see where reformational tendencies (picking and choosing) take things. 30k+ denominations today. I do not think that this is what Christ meant when he prayed for unity in John 17.

              How do we understand Protestants (in the strictest sense)? As outside of the Church. Is there any salvation outside of the Church? No. Does this mean all Protestants are damned to hell? Not necessarily. We believe in the grace of God. That being said, I think I’ve already said too much. I intend (God willing) to write an article about this. That being said, of course this is paradoxical. But just because something is paradoxical does not make it “untrue.” (Think of the Incarnation, Virgin Birth, etc.).

          • George Aldhizer
            August 19, 2015 at 9:47 pm

            Given lack of fundamental unity between the Orthodox and all other Christian traditions, what differentiates the Protestant/Catholic from the Mormon or the Muslim or the Atheist in the mind of the Orthodox? Given that the terms “the Church” or “Christian unity” has no connection to Protestants or Catholics, in what sense can you agree in the mission of Conciliar Post to have meaningful dialogue across *Christian* traditions?

            I guess I’m trying to ask difficult questions to get at what is at stake here with such a visible and rigid sense of “the Church” and getting rid of any sort of Mere Christianity that we can say exists across all Christian traditions.

            • August 19, 2015 at 11:12 pm

              Hi George. Certainly there is some sort of unity—e.g., we here on Conciliar Post are all Trinitarian, we believe in a literal birth of Jesus from a Virgin, and literal death / burial / resurrection. We also believe Jesus is fully God and fully man. But is “belief” enough? Certainly we would say Mormons should believe in the Trinity—but agreeing in doctrine is the beginning of unity, not the unity itself. The binding unity comes in Eucharistic communion. (See Ignatius / 1 Cor chapters 10-12, etc.)

              Eucharistic communion is not something that can just “happen.” It’s kind of like the consumption of a marriage—certain things have to come before the consummation. One of those things is affirming the whole of the faith “once for all delivered to the Saints” (Jude 3, I believe).

              This is a great mystery. It is a paradox. Certainly God is gracious. However, it is, indeed, important to be within the Church handed down through the Apostles. I think most people here would agree with that. Does this mean God will not let “in” the thief on the cross? Certainly not. But I don’t want to downlevel the importance of preparation here, on earth, for Life in Christ. This is the reason the Church exists. At the very basic level, the question is, who can validly contend to have Apostolic Succession. Once again, there seems to me to be only two options: Roman Catholicism or Orthodoxy.

              • mmchanb
                August 20, 2015 at 6:34 am

                Hi, Ben. Do I understand you correctly as arguing that one can be Christian without being part of the catholic ekklesia? I believe some in the Roman Catholic Church make that argument.

              • George Aldhizer
                August 21, 2015 at 3:54 pm

                Right, I’m with you on Apostolic Succession (a concept and practice I’m only just now understanding, I’ve never been in a church community of bishops in my life). I think, too, that it is important to be a part of the church handed down through the Apostles.

                I guess I’m trying to continue to push you to the logical conclusions of the Orthodox teaching concerning its claim to be the *exclusively visible church, handed down from the apostles, and all claims to the existence of an invisible church or a distinction between essentials and non-essentials are illusory* (correct me or nuance me if this doesn’t represent your view).

                If this is the case, then are Protestants/Catholics just Mormons/Hindus/Atheists with a few more shared beliefs with the Orthodox (the claimed exclusive visible church)? Is that the only unifying claim the Orthodox can say about these typically-considered “Christian” traditions? If Eucharistic communion is the only way to have “binding unity” in any real sense, then are all other unities (e.g. shared beliefs and practices) simply superficial?

                • August 21, 2015 at 8:26 pm

                  If you’re a protestant, that’s great! There are many virtues in Protestantism. Don’t by any means leave the faith. But this is a paradox. Do I believe Orthodoxy is the True Church? Yes. How things work out beyond that—and even the Church itself, as Paul says—is a great mystery. A paradox indeed—because it is possible to be in the Orthodox Church and worse off in the long run. May God have mercy on us all.

                  That being said, I cannot stress enough the importance of being a part of the Church. Read, pray, and love your neighbor. Continue growing in Christ. The question here is, is Protestantism where it stops or is there more? Whether you end up in Roman Catholicism or Orthodoxy, I think you’ll find that there is much, much more.

                  Please forgive me.

  2. August 17, 2015 at 10:24 am

    This is a great article, George. Thank you for sharing! I suppose the question is (since we are “choosing”), how do we know we are choosing correctly? The question can be slightly honed by looking into “who” has a “valid” (if you will) apostolic succession. For me, when I was where you are now, there seemed to be two options: Roman Catholicism and Orthodoxy.

  3. mmchanb
    August 17, 2015 at 9:12 am

    I appreciate the candidness of this article, George. It was very disconcerting for me to reject Protestantism without replacing it with another tradition of the faith. It took several months for me to start feeling at home in the broader faith without claiming one corner of the modern pentarchy. Be of good cheer though: all orthodox traditions and congregations are in full agreement regarding the essentials of Christianity. Otherwise they would not truly be Christian.

    • George Aldhizer
      August 19, 2015 at 9:43 pm

      Right, I’ve believed in a version of “essentials” vs. “non essentials” my entire life. It seems to make sense of the project of Conciliar Post, otherwise how else can we say that each other are “Christian.” The Orthodox seem to not want to reflect on Christian theology in this way.

George Aldhizer

George Aldhizer

Raised in North Carolina, George works as an accountant and lives in New York with his wife and son. His writing is animated by Abraham Kuyper’s exclamation, “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, Mine!”

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