Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Emphatic "NO" to common date for Pascha

Here's yet another entry in the now (in)famous "I've said it before and I'll say it again" series. I think we're on part three now.

As Orthodox Christians and Western Christians celebrate Pascha yet again at different dates, it is of no surprise that there are many articles on the web and in the other media explaining why the same event has to be commemorated twice. There are instances of ecumenical bodies that are calling for, even demanding, some sort of new system, though I've yet to see any really this year, contrary to years past to set a common date for Pascha.

Regardless, Orthodox Christians should not bend on this at all, not least because Orthodox Christians would be the ones giving up the most.

The most frequently posted reason as to why all the churches should have one common celebration is because Christians are giving a divided witness. The fact is that even if our celebrations were to coincide, our message of Pascha is not the same as that of the Western Churches. Granted, many of them have elements of the truth, but that truth they do have is often outweighed by the heresies that the Western Churches have embraced in both the past and the modern era.

Why celebrate with churches who ostensibly and clearly teach that Jesus did not rise from the dead or teach that His Resurrection is only symbolic? If the Christian faith is mere symbolism, what's the point? If there is nothing beyond this life, what's then keeping us from being crazed maniacal hedonists?

Why celebrate with other churches who hold on to the disgusting theology of Anselm's Satisfactionary Atonement which teaches that God's honor was so wronged by Adam's sin that justice demanded that He be satisfied only by taking it out physically on someone? My honor was wronged the other day by a fellow parishioner's kid who told me to kiss his butt so I guess I should have killed one of his sisters to obtain satisfaction? It's sadistic, pure and simple. And that has no place in Christian theology.

Why celebrate with churches who hold only to a forensic justification as the central point of Christ's Resurrection? The key word is only. Forensic justification does have its place, especially in the Pauline epistles, but to make that the ONLY purpose of Christ's Resurrection diminshes the incarnation and leaves no room for transformation and change. It's like being charged for a crime and the judge pronounces a "not guilty" verdict. Sure, you're free to go, but have you been changed at all to grow in the image and likeness of God? No.

Why celebrate with churches that routinely deny that Christ was really God? Why celebrate with churches that routinely deny that Christ was really Man?

A unity of a common date for Pascha does not translate to a unity of confession. And it's clear the Western churches are not going to change so why pursue this?

Again, not all Western Churches hold all of these, but many of them cling to one or several of these false theologies. My question is why the Western churches are so much more interested in having a common date than the Eastern Churches? I'm going to sound like a conspiracy theorist here, but I honestly believe it is because the Western churches who are in charge of such "ecumenical" bodies like the NCC and WCC hate the Orthodox and want us to modernize. They realize that many of the denominations they represent are dead and/or dieing and that many are fleeing towards Orthodox communions for the true faith. Since they seem incapable of stopping this emigration since people are fleeing their false doctrines, they have to change the churches that they are fleeing to instead. The common date of Pascha is but the first hurdle to clear. Again, with any kind of common date for Pascha, it will be the Orthodox who will be the ones giving up because the Western churches think they've got it right though they are clearly the ones who have abrogated the Canons from Nicaea.

The Orthodox Church is the Church of the Holy Fathers. No other church body can make that claim. The Catholics used to be until they started innovating with purgatory, papal supremacy, unleavened bread, filioque, indulgences, etc.. The Reformers threw out most of the fathers, especially the Greek ones, preferring only Augustine and even Augustine would be aghast as what has been made of his theology in the current incarnations of their churches. To throw out the fathers is to throw away the witnesses to the faith in every century. The fathers are the ones who kept the Church faithful to Christ. To jettison them is akin to cutting off an arm or a leg. Yes, we could survive but we would be diminished.

As I close, I must state emphatically that I am making no judgment with regards to the salvation of individuals of the Western churches. That's between them and God. And God saves whom he desires. I am absolutely certain that in the heavenly abodes will only be Orthodox Christians, though while they dwelt on earth they may have been Protestant, Catholic, Orthodox, atheist, agnostic, animist, Buddhist or Muslim. I'm not God and those judgments are not and should not be mine. But when it comes to the proclamation of the true faith, I hold no other truth than what the Orthodox Church teaches and I will defend its doctrine and praxis tooth and nail to the end, even if it means my life, should it come to that against all who would assail it. A common Pascha/Easter sounds like an innocuous thing, but once the Orthodox Churches start giving up little things like this, how soon the rest could crumble.


  1. Oh, well, if anyone else cares to go back to the original method of dating the Feast, I don't find any particular objection...


  2. Interestingly, starting this year, the Roman Catholic Church in Jerusalem will be celebrating Pascha using the Julian Calendar along with the Orthodox.

    1. Which is very strange. The only reason I can think that they are doing this is to try to poach from the Palestinian Orthodox population. However, this will not change the way services are done at the Church of the Resurrection (aka Holy Sepulcher) because the agreements that have been set up about who may celebrate when date back to the Ottomans and are the only things preventing the various parties from getting into a major spat.