Thursday, October 16, 2014

Christ vs Nationality

The existence of nationalism within Orthodoxy is seen as a negative factor both by many in Orthodoxy but also by Christians from other denominations. Nationality characterises each Orthodox Church, making them distinct from each other. How can we understand this reality, theologically? Archimandrite Sophrony from the Stavropegic Monastery of St John the Baptist (Essex) deals with this topic, explaining:

‘If, as we confess in the Creed, Christ is very God, the Saviour of the universe, the Creator of the world, ‘by whom all things were made’, how can we bring our understanding of Him down to a question of nationality, place, epoch…?
I do not know a Greek Christ, a Russian Christ, an English Christ, an Arab Christ… Christ, for me, is everything, the supra-cosmic Being.
In the Scriptures, it is often said that Christ died for the whole world, for the sins of the whole world. When we limit the person of Christ, when we bring Him down to the level of nationalities, we immediately lose everything and fall into darkness. Then the way is open for hatred between nations, for hostility between social groups.’[1]   

[1] Sakharov, Archimandrite Sophrony, Words of Life, (Essex, Stavropegic Monastery of St John the Baptist, 2010), pp. 20-21. 

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