The Time Has Come is much more than a collection of articles by renown Orthodox theologians debating the thorniest issue of the American Church -- it is a mini seminary education.
This hardback commemorative volume, published by SVS Press, compiled in celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the autocephaly of the Orthodox Church in America (OCA) was edited by St Vladimir's Academic Dean, Ionut-Alexandru Tudorie. The volume features 20 articles on the state of Orthodoxy in America and the debate over the OCA Autocephaly. The articles were published between 1952-2016 in St Vladimir's Quarterly.
All the giants of Orthodox theological education are featured here: Alexander Schmemman, John Meyendorff, Serge S. Verhovskoy, Alexander Bogolepov and Dimitry Grigorieff, among others. They debate multiple questions and issues including: the history of the Orthodox Church in America from the Alaska mission to today, the reason for “one bishop for one city,” the unity of the Orthodox in America, and whether the granting of the OCA’s autocephaly was canonical.
Along the way, the reader receives theological lessons on, for example: the very nature and purpose of the Church; how the unity of Christ and God must be reflected among men and how their unity must supersede ethnic and national allegiances; the meaning of canonicity and how the uncanonical situation of the American Church will lead to “decadence”.
As Alexander Schmemann writes: “Obviously, as long as we believe that the Holy Spirit acts in America only via Damascus or Sofia, Bucharest, or Moscow, as long as our bishops, forgetting the real content of the doctrine of apostolic succession which makes them the representatives of God and not of patriarchs, think of themselves as caretakers of interests having nothing to do with the interests of Orthodoxy in America, as long, in other terms, as we reduce the Church, her life, her unity, her continuity to blind and legalistic subordination, the canonical chaos will continue, bearing with it the fatal deterioration of Orthodoxy.”
There is also an article by Archimandrite Elpidophoros Lambriniadis (now the Archbishop of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America) who represents the position of the Ecumenical Patriarch and reasserts his rights under Canon 28 of Chalcedon (451), which “explicitly granted to the bishop of Constantinople the pastoral care for those territories beyond the geographical boundaries of the other Local (autocephalous) Churches.” He also points out the shortcomings of the OCA in not achieving unity in America in the years after it was granted autocephaly. He writes: “Summarizing my humble reflections on the granting of “autocephaly”; permit to say that it appears that, no matter how good intentions may be in the Church, the violation of the sacred canons never produces positive results. The consequences of the uncanonical actions must be addressed sooner or later…”
The Time Has Come is essential and resourceful reading for anyone who wants to understand the debate on the functioning of the multiple Orthodox jurisdictions in America today. Is the Church in America to be considered a colony either in the political or ecclesiastical sense? Or have Orthodox Americans won the right to have their own local church in conformity with the ecclesiastical canons?
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