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March - April 2006

SECULARISM AND THE CHURCH
from an article by Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos

Secularism in the Church is directly related to the loss of Church's true objective. A Church not inspired by what has been said above, that is a Church which does not cure man but is concerned with other matters, is a secularised Church. It is in this sense that we refer to secularism in Church. Now we will turn to some cases illustrating the secularised Church.

We can say that the Church becomes secular when it is considered to be a religious organization. There is an enormous difference between Church and religion. Religion speaks about an impersonal God who inhabits the Heavens and manages the world from up there. Man, through various rituals, has to appease God and establish communication with Him. But the Church is the Body of Christ who assumed human nature and in this way there exists a communion between man and God, in the Person of Christ. Of course, it cannot be precluded that within the Church there are some Christians feeling God in a religious perspective. This, however, occurs in the lower stages of spiritual life, it constitutes spiritual immaturity and there is definitely a willingness and tendency for man to go on maturing spiritually so that he arrives at communion and unity with God. A secularised Church, though, simply satisfies the so-called religious feelings of men and nothing more. It is noted for its beautiful ceremonies and neglects the entire neptic and therapeutic wealth owned by the Church.

Further, the Church is secularised when it is viewed as an ideological field and ideological system, unrelated to life. Ideological systems are inspired by abstract ideas and are imbued by idealism which has the characteristics of all anthropocentric systems that are based on philosophy and are against materialism. Ideas do not have much of a relation to life, to man's transformation. Idealism is created by man's rationality and is presented in the form of arguments and ideas.

The Church does not function as an ideological field. It does not simply have some ideas, be it the best and most perfect ones, that it uses to counter other ideas. The Church has the life, indeed the true life, which is a fruit of man's communion with God. St.Gregory Palamas says: "every saying is countered by another saying". Every argument is confronted by a counter-argument. This can be clearly seen in many of the philosophical ideas that have been developed. But who can confront true life, and in particular, life that defeats death? The Church does not have ideas. It has life, which is the transcendence of death.

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