Metropolitan Jonah, the evangelical convert who became the head of the Orthodox Church of America (one of several Eastern Orthodox denominations in the U.S.), has been ousted from his office. The reason, reportedly, is his aggressive public stands against abortion, homosexuality, and other controversial moral issues. (Metropolitan Jonah was one of the signatories of LCMS president Matt Harrison’s open letter opposing the Obamacare contraceptive/abortifacient mandate.)
I realize that Eastern Christianity is more quiescent on cultural issues than that of the West. Metropolitian Jonah is being accused of being political, but I suspect that’s more on the other side, since far more Orthodox are Democrats than Republicans. But then I read that part of the conflict has to do with a movement within the Orthodox Church, including some bishops, to change the teaching about sexual morality, including accepting same-sex marriage.
Now wait a minute. One of the major arguments I keep hearing from advocates of swimming the Bosporus is that Orthodoxy never changes. Has never changed. Can’t change. Has an uninterrupted universal doctrinal agreement among its members that goes back to the early church. Can it be that Orthodox Christians have theological liberals among them just like other traditions?
Some people convert to Catholicism because of the glories of Medieval theology only to find in their local parish feminist nuns, leftist priests, and treacly guitar masses. Or to Lutheranism only to find that the local congregation has sold out to the worst excesses of the church growth movement. Such disillusioning experiences do not invalidate the conversion. Inconsistencies, misbehavior, and doctrinal indifference do not mean that the underlying theology is necessarily wrong. It does, though, perhaps prove the Lutheran distinction between the visible and the hidden church. Though attacking that doctrine in favor of the notion that the church must be fully manifested in the visible institution is another major argument of both Catholics and Orthodox.