Recently, His Eminence Michael Itkin has come into discussion as many in the Church seek to establish or re establish the ancient praxis of the Church. Archbishop Itkin made notable contributions to the study of Church History in his writings regarding the influence of the Jewish Temple on early Christian worship. He pointed out that within the early Church we find the origins of modern day phyletism. The Jewish converts did not want to worship with the converts from paganism. (Acts 6:1ff)
The Hebrew children wanted to have the new converts to monotheism firstly go through the process of circumcision in order that they might become what *we* are, a Jew first and a believer in Christ second. They maintained that only in the Hebrew tradition could one truly become a follower of the Messiah and understand the history of our Salvation.
The early Christians were not of one mind and one heart on all issues, only on their commitment to the person and teaching of Jesus Christ. When the early Hebrew converts spoke of *we* they meant the Jewish converts and excluded the Gentile converts. It was noted, "See how the Christians love one another". This was a casual observation based on the communal experience of the new religious sect known as "Followers of the Way". By the time these newly converted children of Abraham in Antioch were known as Christians (Acts 6:26), no longer were people saying see how they love each other. Within the first century, the Church had factions within the group. Many were *Traditionalist*. (Acts 15:1ff)
A Traditionalist translated into a Jewish convert who maintained that it was impossible to worship G-d in a pleasing fashion without recourse to the Liturgy of the Temple. These also took a rigid stand on certain moral and social issues following the example of their mentor Paul. Peter was the mentor of another faction which the Hebrews thought was a "traitor" to the cause by making allowances for the Greek and Gentile converts. Some were followers of St. Mark or St. James all of whom brought their own theology on moral and social issues to the mix. The Gentile converts were convinced that the Jewish converts were "pushy and overbearing".
The Jews were seen as overly assertive and dominating in the weekly assembly. The Gentile complained that they were being over looked even in the corporal works of mercy because the Jews took care of their own first. To what ever extent this is true, it is consistent with the theory of Phyletism. Phyletism places one national group above another and even denies the universal benefits to those outside it's ranks.
Bishop Itkin rightly showed that there was no *one* moral standard common to both Gentile and Jewish converts, which caused some on both sides to degrade the other. There was one standard for the Jew and another for the Gentile.
We see this today in the Neo Papist Orthodox group and in the ethnic groups. We also see this today within the RCC which is divided on external issues. Those with the Latin Liturgy see themselves superior to those who do not use the Latin. The Liberal sees himself superior to the others because they are in step with the times and the others are not. The only thing that both Traditionalist and Liberal agree upon is that they alone are the true church. They both exclude those outside their ranks. And of course, they both agree that the Byzantine Catholic Church is a beautiful relic which is not really "catholic" but Orthodox. Of course, the Orthodox do not consider the BCA as Orthodox but rather a modern Uncle Tom.
Things were no different in the early church. There were many things that +Itkin did that were off-the-wall, so-to-speak, but came to the realization that even those things he must do penance for.
In his later days, +Itkin did repentance for his misspent youth in an RCC Monastery where he died and is buried. He was not always the picture of Orthodoxy in the traditional sense but he always had an Orthodox soul and heart.
Some of the things that have appeared in various lists on the Internet are without merit. Many have done battle with +Itkin, who, in his later years, came to know Orthodoxy more out of a pain-of-heart struggle, doing battle with physical ailments of serious proportions.
As we all know and +Itkin knew, the Church as the Body of Christ began it's splits with the Council of Jerusalem, when the Jewish Christians and Gentile Christians went their own way. It has continued to split up to this present day. The ecumenical movement has tried to bring the Body back together, but they are going about it the wrong way. We know that Christ will not return until his "Body" is put back together, but He did and does not want this at the lowest possible common denominator.
I believe that St. Paul, when writing to the Corinthian church, wrote those letters to the Church of today. We still have not learned after 1900+ years yet the roadmap is written in black and white.
It is no wonder that statistics show a greater number of the population with no religion at all. They look at all the scandals in the Church (all churches) and think, "if that is religion, I want no part in it."
Which Church has the truth? I believe it is found in Orthodoxy, but only God knows the answer. Our human efforts are too often against the written Word of God.
"IN VAIN DO THEY WORSHIP ME; TEACHING AS DOCTRINE WHAT IS ONLY HUMAN PRECEPTS."
[Matthew 15: 9]