Should the church be in keeping with the spirit of the times?

Metropolitan Anthoniy (Pakanich) tells how the Church should treat the world.

How often do we hear requirements to the Church «to be in keeping with the spirit of the times». Let’s try to figure out how fair and adequate this requirement is.

In fact, the Church remained unchanged in the most important thing – in the true doctrine of salvation. But it changed in relation to the methods of the mission, in relation to the interaction of society and the state, etc.

Now there are two equally radical poles in the interpretation of how the Church should treat the world.

At one extreme are the zealots of the abstract «antiquity», who believe that the Church should not change at all, but blindly follow some «ideal model» from the past.

For some, these are early Christian times, for others – the heyday of Byzantium, and for someone Russia up to Patriarch Nikon. This is definitely a dead-end path.

Of course, we constantly draw from the two thousand years of experience of the Church, but we also know very well that there has never been an «ideal time» and the idealization of antiquity can become a kind of idol replacing the living Christ.

Another unhealthy pole is represented by supporters of extreme liberalism. They believe that the Church should, with all its being, immediately respond to any opinion of the so-called «public». Even if this opinion is wholly and completely created by the media and is not supported by reality.

The most characteristic example of recent times is the reaction to the aggressive anti-racist movement in the United States. In many ways, this movement is directed against Christianity.

So, one of the activists of the movement said that Christianity is a religion of racism, because Christ was white. And now the leader of one of the leading Christian denominations declares that Christ was «not really white», and in one of the churches of his confession the image of the «Last Supper» with a black Christ is immediately displayed.

Is it worth so much bow down before any newfangled agenda of a part of society (albeit quite loud), explaining this by missionary work?

I think this is self-deception. Fashion changes, and in pursuit of conformity to this fashion, you can lose yourself.

Today, an aggressive struggle for the rights of blacks is in trend, yesterday there was an equally aggressive struggle for the environment, for the rights of women, for the rights of minorities…

Where this aggressive struggle will lead us, I think, is clear.

That is why Orthodoxy adheres to the unchanging teaching of the Lord Jesus Christ. After all, the essence of the Church is to lead people to God, and not to indulge their momentary hobbies.

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