Milk, meat, mystery

I’m reminded this morning, by a daily reading from the Orthodox Lexicon, how much I’ve always loved the Epistle to the Hebrews and how much one passage used to puzzle me.

The “problem passage” is Hebrews 5:12 – 6:3, particularly 6:1-2:

For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. And this we will do if God permits.

I was puzzled by this passage because there was a tendency, in what was supposed to be a fairly serious environment — Wheaton Academy, Wheaton College and environs — to serve up over and over again as spiritual food precisely the sorts of things (though not all of them — Evanglicalism of that sort knew nothing about “laying on of hands”) that Hebrews here describes as “milk” or “elementary principles of Christ.” I felt shortchanged. I wanted those who were supposed to be teaching me spiritually to give me some meat. I thought I was ready for it. But I was somehow blessed with the good sense to recognize over-the-top prophetic schemes as junk food.

This tended to make me susceptible to the relatively sober system of Calvinism when I encountered it. It was not just different than mainstream Evangelicalism; it was more sober and, I thought, meatier. I probably was right, even in retrospect.

But there was more, which I found in Orthodoxy (although I did not find Orthodoxy by going out to look for “more;” I had not yet tired of Calvinism, actually).

If you thought I was going to divulge the “meat” here, I’m sorry to disappoint you. If such a thing were possible, I nevertheless don’t have time. To get the fullness of the Christian faith requires more than solitary, individualistic reading from some Orthodox convert’s sorry ramblings. Because the fullness of the faith is found in the Orthodox Church — readings, meditations, typology (Oh! The rich typology! The Great Canon of Saint Andrew of Crete blows me away the first week of Lent every year!) — not in a blog.

You can’t get the “full meal deal,” meat and all, anywhere else.

As I say from time to time (because this blog is about many other things that interest me as well), “come and see.”