Tag Archives: Robert Arida

A Reflection on the Church in the Political Arena

by Fr. Robert M. Arida

Democracy and the separation of church and state are relatively new for the Orthodox Church. From both derive the many challenges the Church in America encounters as it stands unfettered in the political arena.

Paraphrasing the British historian and theologian G.L. Prestige, the concept, let alone the reality, of a political atheist was unknown until the modern era. Prior to the Renaissance and the Enlightenment, God, politics, and the Church were inseparable.

Father Georges Florovsky has shown that as Christianity expanded throughout the empire, the Church was faced with two options: to either remain in the world/empire and contribute to the development and improvement of the body politic or to retreat into the desert. By the time of Constantine’s conversion to Christianity the Church found itself at a crossroads. It had to grapple with Christ’s kingdom not being of this world (Jn.18: 36) and the reality of an emerging Christian empire with a Christian emperor at its head.

With the Church facing the crossroads of empire and desert two concurrent foundations were laid. The first was a Christian political philosophy upon which would be built a Christian state and culture. The other was its antithesis, manifested primarily in the monastic movement, which would serve as a continuous reminder to the Church that its true home and sovereign were elsewhere. Continue reading

Defending Human Dignity A Response to the Pre-Conciliar Document, “The Mission of the Orthodox Church in Today’s World”

by Fr. Robert M. AridaSusan Ashbrook Harvey, David Dunn, Maria McDowellTeva Regule, and Bryce E. Rich

The authors of ‘The Mission of the Orthodox Church in Today’s World’ are to be commended for framing our shared ecclesial mission as one of making present the eschatological hope of the new creation in which “race, gender, age, social, or any other condition” are no bar to shared eucharistic celebration. The document rightly reminds us that “the purpose of the incarnation … is the deification of the human person” which establishes the dignity of all persons, and demands its protection. As co-workers with God, the church and its members enter into “common service together with all people of good will,” seeking to establish peace, justice (3, 6), and social solidarity (6.4, 6.5, 6.6), gifts of the Holy Spirit which come from God (3.2) but “also depend on human synergy” (3.3). These gifts, and this work, is required for the flourishing of human dignity. Continue Reading…

Marriage, Family, and Scripture

by Bryce E. RichFr. Robert M. Arida, Susan Ashbrook Harvey, David Dunn, Maria McDowell, and Teva Regule 

The title of the working document “The Sacrament of Marriage and Its Impediments” appears to promise a meaningful teaching on the spousal relationship. Instead, much of the document is devoted to a particular, modern vision of family. Beginning with the central claim of §I.1 regarding the dangers posed by secularization and moral relativism to the institution of the family, over half the paragraphs of Section I address relationships deemed incongruous with the purported Orthodox model of family, mixed with claims about the welfare of civil society. While much can be said, the following essay offers a cursory examination of the scripture passages supporting this view, along with an exploration of biblical passages that belie this facile model. Continue Reading…

Response to the Pre-Conciliar Document on Marriage and Its Impediments

by Fr. Robert M. Arida, Susan Ashbrook Harvey, David Dunn, Maria McDowell, Teva Regule, and Bryce E. Rich

The document on marriage does not refer to its long and complex history and accompanying theology. What is offered to the faithful and to the world is a statement that bases marriage on a particular understanding of natural and divine law (sec.I, par.2 and 6). Resting upon this foundation the authors attempt to protect marriage and its inextricable bond to the family from the encroachments of secularism and moral relativism (sec.I, par.1). However, in doing so, the authors appear to have constructed a paradigm of marriage based more on a particular ideology than its theological underpinnings.  They present an image of the Church that can only speak of marriage as it is related to the law and not as a bond forged and nurtured by love and divine grace. By virtually ignoring the Church’s emphasis on grace the authors have restricted the Church’s dexterity in responding to the myriad of pastoral issues related to globalization, not the least being inter-religious marriage. In addition to minimizing the place of love and grace, the authors have also presented marriage as a bourgeois institution without taking into account the safeguarding of children or women in cases of domestic violence, and the possible need for dissolving the marriage bond. Continue Reading…