Bosco Peters writing at Liturgy points us to a fascinating lecture by Fr. John Behr, Dean of St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Seminary in New York. Behr believes that the early church communities that were the most diverse–catholic–were what came to be known as orthodox.
The lecture is an hour long – but/and worth it. Fr John challenges the pulp and popular positions that early catholicity was monolithic, autocratic, homogeneous; despoiling the liberty, diversity, and fulness of life that Jesus brought. Early catholicity, he expertly explains, was what the word means – catholic: diverse. It was the heretics who could not remain in the dialogue of this diversity, who went and took themselves away to form monochromatic communities where everyone would agree with their particular narrow perspective.
Fr John stresses that we cannot access the historical Jesus “neat” as it were. We always receive him interpreted. And the interpretation focuses around the Scriptures and the Eucharist.
Fr John provides refreshing perspectives on much in this lecture, including on what it means for the scriptures to be inspired; that all knowledge, whatever the sphere, ultimately rests on an act of faith; and ultimately provides a moving interpretation of the salvation we have just been celebrating, and which Orthodox will celebrate this week.