Through the use of social networking, I have become friends with an array of people, but occasionally the opportunity allows for that friendship to become real, such is the case with my new friend Fr. Anastasios. I describe him as a once Protestant turned Catholic, now Orthodox Priest.
Being Orthodox he obviously believes that the Orthodox tradition is the "right" and most "pure" tradition to be in, which in essence is exactly what every person in any tradition believes. I must note that this post is in no way a slander against him because as I said, I now consider him a friend.
Rather this post serves as a purpose to show that it is possible to deconstruct ones faith in a safe environment without arguing or fighting, but rather openly discussing issues with hopefully an open Bible in hand (In our case it was a printout and an iPad).
First, we met on the basis of differing beliefs, namely modes of baptism. Orthodox practice infant baptism as a saving act in itself. In Fr. Anastasios own words, "Orthodox baptisms contain many long prayers, and several ritual actions with great significance. The focal point of the service is naturally the moment of baptism itself, when the candidate is immersed in the water three times (in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit), but there are several things leading up to the immersions, such as the renunciation of Satan, and several things take place after, such as the giving of the Cross to the newly-baptized." http://wp.me/p1HngT-x
Second, this post reminds us that we can meet with others who have differing beliefs and do so in a way that at the end of the day honors Christ. Do I personally think that the Orthodox tradition has everything right? Absolutely not, case in point would be infant baptism. Fr. Anastasios believes that infant baptism is saving, but at the same time that those baptized can walk away one day and lose that same salvation. I would argue that many who believe this see their children walk away because they never had salvation in the first place. It is easy to walk away from something you never had.
How about you? Does this sound like your typical encounters with those of differing beliefs? If not, what is causing your encounters to go differently?