How to Recognize, and What to Do, When the “Orthodoxy Bug” has Bitten
A friend of mine posted some remarks recently about the temptation some Lutherans feel to run off and join Eastern Orthodoxy. I won't reveal my friend's name since he may wish to say more, or something other, at some other time, elsewhere. But his remarks, posted below, are extremely wise and helpful. We were talking about the "EO Bug" and I told him I can spot those who have been bitten a mile away by now. I've watched over the years as men are bitten by the "Orthodoxy bug" and the symptoms begin, usually, with an unhealthy fascination with all things Eastern Orthodox, at the expense of neglecting their own Lutheran fathers and confessions. Incessant quotations from Early Church fathers, and usually Eastern fathers, and not uncommonly, the more obscure desert fathers, start filling their blog site posts. The only art you see them using is Eastern Orthodox iconography. You rarely see them quoting with praise and a positive attitude Luther or our Lutheran fathers. Suddenly Lutheranism is treated as merely a little "glitch" in church history. Next thing you know they are quoting, ad naseum, contemporary Orthodox theologians and gushing over the wonders of Eastern Orthodoxy. Then there develops a keen defensiveness when they are questioned about where they are headed. Passive-aggressiveness sets in and they even deny they are being tugged toward Orthodoxy, but they start blaming others and adopting a "I'm being picked on" mentality. At any rate, these symptoms are just that: symptoms of deeper problems to come. Here is how my friend put matters when asked what to do for folks who have been bitten by the "Orthodox bug."
inoculation. I know this from first hand experience. But if a person IS
willing to consider facts, it might be of help for them to read through
the Patristics for Lutherans section that Eric put up in the resource
section some time ago – in numerous ways, the Fathers stand closer to
Lutheranism than to modern Orthodoxy. Second, I'd encourage them to
look exactly at what the Orthodox DO in the invocation of the saints.
They will tell you what they have been indoctrinated in: we're only
asking Mary to pray to God for us. But the Orthodox do more than this.
I cite from the Antiochian Service Book, page 130:
"O all-holy Lady Theotokos, light of my darkened soul, my hope, my
shelter, my refuge, my consolation and my joy; I thank thee that thou
hast permitted me, unworthy though I be, to partake of the immaculate
body and precious blood of thy Son. O thou who didst bring forth the
true Light, give the light of understanding to the eyes of my heart; O
thou who didst bear the Fountain of Immortality, quicken me who am dead
in sin. O compassionate Mother of the merciful God, have mercy upon me
and grant me humility and contrition of heart, and humbleness of mind,
and deliverance from bondage to evil thoughts. And permit me, unto my
last breath, to receive, without condemnation, the sanctification of
these Holy Mysteries, unto the healing of both body and soul. Grant me
tears of repentance and of confession, that I may hymn thee and glorify
thee all the days of my life. For blessed and glorified art thou unto
all the ages. Amen.
"That is an idolatrous prayer; there is no other word to describe it. I
can't imagine that it would be pleasing to the Holy Virgin at all!
"Third, invite them to run it through the John 3:16 test. What happens
to John 3:16 under Orthodoxy? God so loved the world that He gave His
only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him (and is a member of the
true Church!) shall not perish (probably, but we make no guarantees -
that would be prideful) but have eternal life (provided that he has
"Finally, pray for them. This is in many ways a spiritual battle. And
the sad thing is where will their final confidence be placed in the
last battle – when they are facing death and Satan suddenly throws up
to their memory so many sins and evils. A friend of mine who is now an
Orthodox priest likes to tell the story of a priest begging for longer
life so he can do more penance, because he didn't even know if he had
begun to repent. Contrast this, please, with the comfort of God's Word
which allowed the great saints to depart in peace – not because of
their accomplishments in repentance, but in the certainty of Christ's
forgiveness and His victory over death and the grave for them."