Christ is one thing, and the Church is another! I'm not against Christ, but against the Church! - it is said quite often: and people who call themselves unbelievers, and those who refer themselves to Christians. But is it possible to be with Christ without the Church? Let's try to understand.
We can feel the righteousness of our faith, but we can not always explain or prove it to a person who is not a believer, especially to someone whose worldview is somehow irritating. Reasonable questions of an atheist can confound even the most sincerely believing Christian. About how and what to answer the common arguments of atheists tells our permanent author Sergei Khudiev in the project "Dialogue with Atheists: Orthodox arguments."
There is often a paradoxical position behind this question: there is no God, but the ROC has no relation to Him. But to put this question on the merits, we must proceed from the premise that Christ, the Christ of the Gospels-there is no other and can not be taken from nowhere - is real. The Gospel does not speak of Christ as a long-dead teacher or founder of a philosophical school, or even a prophet, but as a resurrected and living Savior with whom we who now live can enter into a relationship of trust and obedience into the Covenant, as Christ Himself calls it .
The covenant that connects man to Christ inevitably unites him with other people. You can not be your Christ and alien to other people, whom Christ accepted. If you are adopted by God in Christ - and this is what Scripture says - you have not only found the Father, but many brothers and sisters.
Those who are in this Covenant form a community - a community that stretches through the ages, from the time of Christ and the Apostles. In the Gospel this community has a definite name - the Church. As Christ says, "I will create my church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it" (Mt 16: 18) *.
Since the time of the Lord and the apostles, in all ages, in I, II, IV, ... XI, XII, ... XX, XXI, the Church has been proclaiming the same gospel, and the very witness of Christ has come down to us through this whole thickness of ages, Churches. The Russian Orthodox Church is part of the Universal Church, which dates back to the Baptism of Rus, an event that played a key role in the Christianization of the Eastern Slavs.
Christ says, "He that cometh to me I will not cast out" (Jn 6: 37). In Russia, the nearest place where people gather who come to Him is the temple of the Russian Orthodox Church. To say that Christ is "unrelated" to people who are calling to Him would be to deny His direct words.
Monogram of the name of Christ surrounded by vines (sarcophagus VI century). In addition to the two initial Greek letters of Christ's name along the edges of the monogram - the Greek letters α and ω. This refers us to the text of the Apocalypse: "I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, says the Lord, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty." (Rev. 1: 8).
Jesus taught precisely dogma - that is, certain doctrinal truths, which are very important to adhere to. First of all, the truths about Himself. And precisely because He is kind and wants to save people. Kindness is manifested in the desire of people for good, but Christ came to give us the highest good, eternal and blessed life. But for this, we need to believe Him and His testimony of Himself.
Jesus said that he was with the Father before the existence of the world (Jn 17: 5, 24) that He will come to judge all nations on the last day (Mt 25: 31) that He is sending angels (Mt 24: 31) and prophets ( Mf 23: 34). In other words, He speaks of Him not only as someone great, but as God, the Lord and the Judge of the universe.
He said that the believer in Him has eternal life: "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life" (Jn 6: 47), and warned that those who rejected Him would lose this gift: "If you do not believe , that it is I, then you will die in your sins "(In 8: 24).
Of course, in the Gospel itself there are no dogmas in precisely those formulations that were later adopted by the Church at the ecumenical councils. These formulations were needed in order to protect the apostolic testimony of Jesus from heresies. But the preaching of Jesus himself is undoubtedly dogmatic - He says some things about Himself and demands in them to believe.
Philippe de Champigne. The Last Supper. 1652
The Gospel speaks directly about the establishment of the two Sacraments - Baptism and the Eucharist, which, even in the simplest form, presupposed a certain rite, that is, as the dictionary says, "a set of actions of a stereotyped character with symbolic meaning."
Moreover, Jesus said that participation in these sacraments is necessary for salvation.
"He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but whoever does not believe will be condemned "(Mk 16: 16). "And Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you will not have life in you. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day "(Jn 6: 53,54).
Our belonging to Christ manifests itself - and He himself has established it - in the Sacraments of Baptism and the Eucharist.
Of course, many of the rituals that are now taking place in the Church were formed later, in the course of its history. But "safe Christianity" never existed.
God, in order to save people, turns to human nature. And for people, the language in which they speak about the most important is the language of the rite. Young people get married, the baby comes into the world, the princes sign the contract, the ruler takes office, the relatives bury the deceased - in all human cultures these events are accompanied by rituals. These rites may be different, but they always exist, because events of such importance require them.
Especially the most important thing that can happen in life is a meeting with God, the conclusion of a covenant with Him requires a rite.
No. There are several reasons why this is so, and we will start with the most unimportant. When people are interested in something strong and sincere - sports, science, art, reconstruction of historical events, books of Tolkien, something else - they communicate with each other. You are unlikely to find a person passionately keen on mountaineering, who has never been in the mountains, does not communicate with other mountaineers and does not know where the stores of climbing equipment are. For a person who is seriously interested in God, it would be very strange - or rather, simply impossible - to avoid communication with other people who are also looking for God.
Another, and probably more important, reason - love is manifested in the fact that we try to do what others like, we want to please him. Christ says: "If you love Me, you will keep My commandments" (Ying 14: 15) One of His commandments is to perform the Eucharist in His remembrance (Lk 22: 19).
Another reason - a true love for God is manifested in the love of one's neighbor, and above all, the people who make up His Church. "He who says," I love God, "and hates his brother, is a liar: for he who does not love his brother whom he sees, how can he love God, whom he does not see?" (1 Ying 4: 20). "By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another" (Jn 13: 35).
If you move away from communicating with some people, this is a sign of indifference at best - and the love of God is manifested in the love of His Church.
* Slavonic word The church originates from the Greek Κυριακόν, which literally means "belonging to the Lord," but in the Greek Christian tradition the Church is designated by the word Ἐκκλησία (ecclesia), that is, the congregation.