Source: Tulsa World By: GEORGE C. MICHALOPULOS
Recently, the Tulsa Interfaith Council sponsored an appearance by Frank Schaeffer. I had the pleasure of attending one of Frank’s lectures. As a fellow Orthodox Christian it’s always good to see Frank. Whether you agree with him or not, you know you’re in for a good and lively debate.
Personally, I’ve always considered him a friend and still do. (Regina Orthodox Press, which is owned by Frank, published a book I wrote.) Having said that, I was disheartened by much of what I heard. I fear that some of his statements may have been injurious to many people; at the very least some might think that because of his fame, as an author, lecturer, and television commentator, he represents the views of the Orthodox Church.
Like many prominent speakers and authors, Frank’s journey has taken him to some interesting places. Formerly a stalwart of the religious right, Frank has now become a pillar of the secularist left. That is certainly his right. Every man is entitled to his own opinions but not his own facts.
Much of what he asserted was, to put it mildly, arguable. Possibly the most egregious thing I heard Frank say was “that Evangelical Christians were more sinister than the Taliban.”
Quite simply, this is a gratuitous assertion, one having no basis in reality. It was sheer bigotry, pure and simple. If anybody on the right said that about a minority group, he’d be condemned, and rightly so. (I for one have yet to find one instance of Evangelicals stoning homosexuals or forcing women into burqas.)
In addition, Frank equivocated as to whether he was pro-life and justified his ambivalence by questioning the bona fides of many pro-life leaders.
Finally, he questioned the political acumen of those who are traditional and culturally conservative.
My purpose here is to state clearly and without equivocation that Frank does not speak for the Orthodox Church. Neither do I — only bishops sitting in council can do that.
Nevertheless, in the interest of clearing up any misconceptions, it can be stated that there are a few givens about Orthodoxy.
First of all, the Orthodox Church is evangelical. We are called to fulfill the Great Commission. In addition, many of our bishops and clergy have come to us from the Evangelical tradition. Our parishes have been enriched with the presence of Evangelicals and their deep commitment to the Gospel.
Secondly, the Orthodox Church is committed to the pro-life cause. It is a pro-life church, period.
Thirdly, Orthodox Christians are, broadly speaking, culturally conservative. All are welcomed, regardless of their condition or their past.
We are taught as part of our penitential journey to judge nobody but ourselves. Our fidelity to the Gospel however prevents us from conforming to the spirit of the age. While we cannot be pigeonholed into any one political party, our concerns regarding cultural (not political) issues are informed by the Christian tradition that has been consistent to the Gospel of Jesus Christ from the very founding of the Christian church itself.
In a free society we should welcome open and honest debate. I mean no disrespect to Frank or those Christians who agree with him. But I just wanted to set the record straight.
George C. Michalopulos is a layman in the Orthodox Church and serves as the Orthodox liaison to the annual Tulsa MarchforLife. He is a contributing editor to the American Orthodox Institute (www.aoiusa.org), the largest on-line Orthodox forum of matters relating to Christianity and Culture. He is a member of Holy Apostles Orthodox Christian Church in Bixby.
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