I’ve been thinking of a lecture I heard recently, given by an Eastern Orthodox Father. I’m a Protestant, and I don’t intend on changing that, but I think that if we are to take our historic faith seriously, then we should engage in conversation with our fellow Christian siblings (or maybe cousins).
The lecturer proposed that the Western Church (Protestants and Catholics) have placed much more emphasis on the cross – a Christology from below; a meek, humble and human Jesus. The Eastern Church has placed much more emphasis on the resurrection – a Christology from above; Jesus the pantocrator; the “All-Mighty”, the transcendent Lord. I realize that this is an over-generalization, but, it should be considered, especially if we (westerners) have emphasized
the cross at the expense of the resurrection – since, without the resurrection, “our preaching is useless and so is [our] faith” (1 Cor. 15:14).
There may be some truth to this. If you walk into a Protestant or Catholic church, you will mostly find emblems of the cross. In an Eastern Orthodox church, you will likely find icons of Jesus that emphasize his Lordship and divine nature. Obviously, both emphases are needed, but I am wondering, have we neglected the Resurrection?
I feel as though I rarely hear a sermon on the resurrection, except for on Easter Sunday. That’s problematic to me because Every Sunday should be a reminder of the Resurrection.
The Eastern Church do a really good job with this, and they do it by means of the sacraments. For them, the Church is fundamentally a sacrament. The sacraments and liturgy on Sunday are not just a means of grace or remembrance, but an expression of the entire life.
Each sacrament is a pascha – a ‘passage’ – a transformation. You come into the church to have a shattering encounter with Jesus Christ. The Pascha is analogous to the Exodus – you come in a sinner and go out a saint. Taking the Eucharist is something like an ascent – going up to the kingdom – participating in the resurrection of Christ.
This is mind blowing to me. I’m not too sure what to make of all this yet. Though I have given much more thought to the importance of the resurrection and its implications with regards to newness, life, hope, and the Kingdom of Heaven = what we at Regent like to call “shalom”.
I keep finding myself praying Paul’s words:
“I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead”
“The iconic image of Christ Pantocrator was one of the first images of Jesus developed in the Early Christian Church and remains a central icon of the Eastern Orthodox Church.” (Wiki)