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Father Thomas Hopko on Scripture and Evangelical Dialogue

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Written by Basil on 04/2/2007 9:42 PM. Filed under:

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Protopresbyter Thomas Hopko addresses the orthodox approach to scripture: Do you think things like that could ever be modified, in terms of church practise, when the church comes into cultures where people don’t, for example, kiss as frequently as people do in the Orient, for example?

Fr. Hopko: Yeah, it could, but I think what happens is you have a culture of the Church itself, that is not bound to any human culture. The Church itself is a cultural phenomenon — I mean, it’s basically christened Judaism.

I happened to be at McGill University once when they were having one of these discussions — they had an Orthodox priest, a Jew, an evangelical, a liberal Protestant, and a Roman Catholic, and they were talking and talking, and finally somebody in the audience raised a hand and said, “I’d like to ask that Orthodox priest a question. What religion are you closest to anyway?” And just, I guess, for the fun of it, the guy answered and said, “Judaism.”

And they said, “What do you mean, aren’t you Christian?” He said, “Yeah, but in our way of hearing the Bible, worshipping the way we do, you might say that we feel that sometimes we are closer to the Jews than we are to other Christians because of the way they approach the Bible, the way they approach authority, the way they approach worship,” and I think there is a certain truth there.

But the Church itself has a culture. It has songs and icons and hymns and sounds. I think there is a kind of ethos, a culture of the Church itself, that is not just reducible to Slavic or Hellenic or Semitic, that people can relate to. And so a thing like giving a kiss, or making a bow, or lighting a candle — that’s kind of Church culture, it’s not just human culture.

Read the rest: Interview: An Orthodox professor ponders the scriptures

Hat tip: Barnabas Powell

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