In the last issue, the church was defined as the pillar and ground of truth. This truth was described as the revelation of the person of the Lord Christ Himself in John 14:6: “I AM the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” The conclusion was that every claimed fact, preacher, book, scientific theory, prophet, law, or thought is determined to be true or false based on its agreement with this one fact. It is the Orthodox Church with her ancient tradition traced back to the Lord and the Apostles, with her comprehensive understanding of the Scriptures and the revelation of God in Christ, and entrusted with the faith that was handed down until the current time to be considered the pillar and ground of truth. This means that the church, her life, her tradition, and her books are the proclamation of the truth and the measure by which one may determine if something is true or false. It is the Orthodox Church that carries in her teaching the complete revelation of the beauty of the purpose of creation as intended by God the Father and as revealed in His Son. It is within this purpose that the whole creation and its progress should find its destiny.
Beloved reader, this is not the spirit of clericalism, for it is the church’s duty to give her opinion and to guide her believers to live a holy life in the current complicated cultural and scientific milieu. Clericalism, for the most part, influences the growth and direction of scientific research, dictates the death and the punishment of citizens, and, in many cases, leads to the regression of society; while the church gives her opinion in love, in respect, and in the meek spirit of Christ, leaving the individuals and society at large to determine their next step of action.
It is the Orthodox Church’s understanding that mankind is created to give glory to God in becoming Christ-like; and in achieving this purpose, humanity finds itself, its destiny, and even the truth from within. Believers are not to conform to the world but rather to be transformed by the renewal of their minds. In this way, they do not carry the spirit of the world, because the world rejected Christ and thus dismissed the ultimate truth. St. Paul cried out, “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things” (Phil. 4:8). For St. Paul, that which was true, noble, just, pure, lovely, and of good report is clear and obvious; there is no confusion, misunderstanding, or ambiguity, and the matter is not subject to an opinion. A fourth-century theologian writes, “Whatever is true—what are these true things? They are set out in the gospel: Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and all that goes with that good news. When your thoughts are true, it follows that they will be honorable. What is true is not corrupted, which means that it is honorable. What is not corrupted is true. Then what is true and honorable will also be just, for it is made just or justified. And what is made just is pure since it receives sanctification from God. All that is just, honorable, true, and pure is lovable and also gracious.”
And so it remains that the church ought to continue to speak the truth without fear, prejudice, political correctness, or compromise, as it always has. Truth spoken in love and humility is good, even when it is hurtful and convicting, because the truth is healing when it is taken to heart.