Community! We crave it. We thrive on it. We will go to great lengths to acquire its benefits. Virtually everyone is interested in some form of community. It is the way we are designed and fashioned, inside and out, body and soul.
Throughout all the ages, man has struggled with the concept of community: how to organize it, how to manage it, and just how to make the very most of it. From the very beginning of human records, man has been both enamored and disgusted by the very concept of community. Political movements to globalize community have been in motion since the Vikings set sail, and now to a radical degree with modern transportation.
Most historical records of community are downright depressing… Not necessarily because they are inaccurate or biased, but because they do not presuppose community, not even unity in general, but discord, division and the western worldview of man: that he is impossible, “fallen,” and must become a part of what Darwin referred to as, ”The survival of the fittest.”
So if this is true, if history is often published base on this preconceived notion of some sort of survivalism, that is further based on a western view of man being “totally depraved,” as the Protestant Reformers of Western Europe taught, then what good are these historical writings? I say that they are only as good as they can be sifted through a proper Orthodox screen. We must understand history, as the brilliant Fr Theodore Florovsky taught in his book Christianity and Culture, to be eschatological, directional, and with purpose. This is unlike what he refers to as most historians as “fatalists,” from the ancient Greek philosophers to historians in our modern times. They simply do not understand the purpose of time and community within their analysis of history…how they relate and depend on each other. In short, the writing of most history seems to be a complete sham.
Historical accuracy is the proper starting point for retention of our sanity within this insane and chaotic age; this age of scattered and mutilated community. It is crucial to return to a proper understanding of community, as it relates to the spiritual realm, in particular the mystical avenue of Christ and his bride: The people of God.
The people of God began with the family of Adam and eventually grew into the spiritual reality of Christ’s “New Covenant.” God gave his order of community to Adam, furthered it through his prophets, and then culminated it through his own incarnation on earth, as Christ. The Orthodox Christians make up this New Covenant people. We are the expansion of God’s community. This is what Christ spoke of throughout the gospel: that he is the Sheppard and we are the people of his pasture. He empowered the Jewish community to become a new community, where, as St Paul the Apostle says, “there is neither Jew nor Greek… “ The ethnic and legal aspects to God’s community are now subjected to the spiritual and expansive (evangelistic) aspects of God’s community.
Modern newscasts and textbooks on history are presupposing a sort of impossibility of unity. It is true that there is a serious problem with just how people do not get along, warring against each other throughout the world, etc. But this is not a problem of survivalism, as both sides of the American political structure suppose. It’s not about being “fit,” as the conservatives imply, or helping/forcing everyone to be at the same level of fitness, as the liberals imply. It (community) is about presupposing a community that never ends, as Christ explains: “a Kingdom that will have no end.”
There is a right way to form community, and this right way to form has been handed down through generations, and it will one day take precedence over all other false forms of community. St John describes that in the apocalyptic times, even the people of God will be deceived through false community, even as far as accepting its system, its “mark of the beast.” I think it will likely be wrapped up within the cloak of modernity and technology itself. There will be a way for everyone to become a modern survivalist, which will, or course, require the dissolution of any concept whatsoever of community under Christ.
Community of Christ is centered on faith, a dependency on Christ and his body (Church) even in these last days of apostasy. As Saint John the Apostle says, when referring to these chaotic times, “here is the faith and patience of the saints.” Are we willing to place our faith in God’s way even when the world is outmoding us with its technology and other dominating factors? Are we ready to be accused, ridiculed, and cast down, as Christ says we will be? Or are we fine with continually merging deeper and deeper with the ecumenist society that continually deceives us about history?