So… Why be Orthodox?

In response to my post on exclusivity, Rusty from My Orthodox Journey asks, if the claims of Orthodoxy aren’t exclusive, then why be Orthodox as opposed to another Christian sect? Of course, my answer is only that: my answer. I can only tell you why I’m not Protestant, Southern Baptist, non-denominational, Presbyterian, Roman Catholic. I can only tell you why, of all the flavors of Christianity, I’ve chosen to be Orthodox. Your reasons may or may not be the same as mine. And just because I’ve found that Orthodoxy helps me be the best Christian I can be doesn’t mean that someone else can’t find a full Christian life in, say, the Southern Baptist church that they’re a part of. I’m Orthodox because the Orthodox let God be God. Knowing who we worship is important, but I’m uncomfortable with over-dogmatizing. Saying “God always does this” or “God never does this” feels to me like we’re closing ourselves off to God. The Orthodox tradition has celebrated holy fools, mystics, and erudite theologians. God has used glossolia, art, and literature. The church recognizes and celebrates it all. I’m Orthodox because of tradition. “Smells and Bells” as a friend put it. A lot of people want a church that fits their culture like a glove. I want church to transcend culture and transform it. To “be in the world, but not of it”. I’m Orthodox because the church leaves the door open for disagreement. We’ve got tradition — in spades! — but when it comes to the issue of the day (e.g. evolution vs. creation), the church doesn’t rush to take a stance. This doesn’t mean that the church is quiet — my priest gave a homily that, in essence, said the conflict in Dover over “Intelligent Design” was foolish — but there is no official line. You can be Democrat, Republican, Green, or Libertarian and you’ll still be Orthodox. I’m Orthodox because of I don’t like the idea of Original Sin. The Orthodox church holds me responsible for my own actions and only my actions. Sure, Adam made life difficult, but I’m not guilty because of what he did. I’m Orthodox because I respect the history of the church. There’s been a long succession of bishops without one church trying to rule over the others. Churches with a mutual respect for each other. Again, none of this means that my choice is the only correct one. I’ve got a lot of respect for people like Simon Cozens and he has decided Orthodoxy isn’t for him. My brother Mert is other example of a non-Orthodox Christian who has earned my respect. My parents have both (for all there many faults 😉 lived out Christian love for others that I haven’t seen demonstrated in many other places. In Matthew 7, Jesus tells us that we’ll recognise his followers “by their fruits”. It seems obvious to me that there could, therefore, be fruitful Christians who aren’t Orthodox.