To Emmaus, With Jesus Between Us -- By: Vladimir Berzonsky
ATJ 26 (1994) p. 177
To Emmaus, With Jesus Between Us
Dr. Vladimir Berzonsky (D.Min., Ashland) pastors Holy Trinity Orthodox Church in Parma, OH. At the 11th Believer’s Church Conference, held 1994 at Ashland, he was the invited respondent from the Orthodox Church in America.
At first glance one would consider that Orthodox Christians and the communions derived from 16th-century Anabaptism are so remote from one another that there is insufficient common ground to warrant serious discussion. Each approaches the Christian faith with different premises. Where might dialogue begin?
We might begin by considering one another as God’s children who believe in the Triune nature of the One God and affirm that Jesus Christ, the unique Son of God, entered the world to save sinners by His death and resurrection. But we have differing understandings of the implications of those basic spiritual facts. If we indeed are to have some respect for one another’s doctrinal positions, it must transcend patronizing cliches based on what just may be inadequate theology. Christ’s call for unity demands that we explore the premises behind our stated convictions.
Let’s imagine a prototypical Orthodox and an Anabaptist taking the place of those
ATJ 26 (1994) p. 178
two disciples of our Lord on their way to Emmaus on that glorious afternoon of the resurrection (Lk. 24:13–35). We pose the situation this way in order to push it to its limits: Eastern Christianity, which did not actively participate in either Roman Catholicism or the Protestant renewal of Europe versus the so-called left wing of the Reformation. At least in the Gospel we find Clopas and his companion in serious discourse over the momentous events that shaped history, which is more than we have often done in company with one another. And their surly demeanor (“Are you the only one living in Jerusalem who doesn’t know what things have happened there in these days?” v.18) rather suggests the attitude we sometimes take, not to Christ but to one another. We too have made sweeping generalizations about each other that may not be accurate, just as the two disciples made about their unknown traveling companion, for, contrary to their false assumption, Jesus was not a resident of that city.
We go as equals, both followers of Christ, knowing something of that momentous day’s events without comprehending all of its implications until they are pointed out to us, and by none other than the stranger in our midst whom we fail to recognize.
It would be helpful to contemplate the facts and realize how the Holy Spirit within us,...
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