Greek Orthodox Stewards of America - July 9, 1999
A case study οf Metropolitan of Aneon Methodios' interpretation
of I Corinthians chapter 12
during his keynote address
at the annual Clergy-Laity Assembly of the Diocese of Boston
The purpose of our analysis is to show how Metropolitan Methodios "twisted" Scripture in order to support his belief for synodal "co-Responsibility" in the administrative authority of the Archdiocese between Archbishop Spyridon and the titular Metropolitans.
Methodios' vision for the Church in America is "a united Archdiocese with strong national programs, presided by the Archbishop as President of the Holy Synod and Exarch of the Ecumenical Patriarchate." Stressing at the same time the need for synodal co-responsibility he said that "... Holy Synod must be a collegial, functioning body. - The Metropolitans must be co-responsible for every aspect of the administration of the Archdiocese."
Metropolitan Methodios states that the basis of every dialogue is honesty and sincerity, but he must realize that honesty and sincerity is no guarantee for the truth! Metropolitan Methodios further states: "What role do Bishops, Priests and laymen play in the life of the Church? Will we ever understand what St. Paul taught to the Corinthians; 'There are varieties of service but the same Lord. . .to each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. Are all apostles? Are all prophets, are all teachers?' Everyone should contribute the particular talents he has received from God for the good of the Church. Everyone has to play in the life of the Church, but not the same role. Not everyone can be the Archbishop or the Metropolitan."
All of the above statements of Metropolitan Methodios contain bits of contradictions, half-truths and self-deceptions as the following analysis of I Corinthians Chapter 12 will strive to prove. However, before we come to I Corinthians 12 let's look very closely at some "key" verses: In the gospel of John 5:39 our Lord Jesus Christ instructs us to search the Holy Scriptures... In 2 Timothy 2:15 the Apostle Paul urges us to Study (Spoudazo) to present ourselves approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, Rightly dividing (Orthotomounta - Rightly cutting) the Work of Truth." Consistent and diligent study of God's Word is vital. In Acts 17:11 the Apostle Paul reminds us that the Bereans were of more "noble character" than those in Thessalonica because they "cross-examined" (ekamon anakrisi) the scriptures "daily" to see if what Paul said was true. Now lets look closely at I Corinthians 12:12-27. This passage describes an analogy used by the Apostle Paul to explain the abstract ideas discussed in the first eleven verses of the chapter. Paul compares the Church to the anatomy of the human body.
Verse 12 begins this section with a simple statement of comparison, which defines the "subject", and the "object" of the analogy: "For as the body is one ... so also is Christ." The word body is used literally in reference to the human body. It is the object of comparison whose familiar characteristics are used by Paul in subsequent verses to illustrate the meaning of the previous verses. "Christ" is the subject of the analogy, which Paul then elaborates in verse 13. Like the physical body, Christ is a unit who has many members, where the members of Christ are the members of the Church.
Paul then expands the analogy in verses 14 and following to illustrate the functional relationship among church members. The body of the church is analogous to the human body, where the parts of human anatomy correspond figuratively to members of the church. Just as each part of the human body has a special function that is essential to the physical body, likewise each member of the church has a special role in serving the body of the Church. The functions of the anatomical members represent the manifestation of the spirit by members of the church. This is evident by the fact that the analogy is presented in correspondence to verse 11 where the expression "all these things" refers to the manifestations elaborated in verses 8-10.
An obvious characteristic of anatomical parts is that their functions are "highly specialized." Each part is designed for a specific purpose. For example, a foot is designed for walking; a hand is designed for grasping; an eye for seeing; an ear for hearing; a nose for smelling, etc. Furthermore, since all parts are specialized, they are "inherently incapable" of functioning in capacities other than those functions for which they were designed. An eye cannot hear and an ear cannot see. A foot cannot easily grasp and a hand is not very useful for walking. In relation to the body, each part serves a particular function, which is complete by itself because it does not fully serve the needs of the part or the body. Only the body as a whole is complete because it consists of all the functions of every member. What each part lacks is fulfilled by the other members, so that only by their combination can the parts be complete. Each part is essential to the body and incomplete without the body. Romans 12:4-5 (NIV) states, "Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not have all the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body ... and each member belongs to all the others." This is a fundamental characteristic of the analogy, which clearly conflicts with Metropolitan Methodios' interpretation.
The analogy to the human body clearly illustrates the importance of each member to the body as a whole and visa versa. If each member could perform every function (partake or share in the role of the other members), then it would not have need of the body, nor the body of it, which relates directly to the issue of context concerning how the manifestations (rules or gifts or grace) are distributed among church members. Accordingly there must be DIVERSITY in the distribution of manifestations among Church members.
I Corinthians 12:19 (NIV) states "If they were all one part, where would the body be?" All the members of the body cannot serve the same function; neither can one member serve all functions. It is impossible. Without diversity of function among the members, there can be no body! Every person's spiritual abilities are uniquely inherent to the individual, because one's abilities are God-given. I Corinthians 12:18 (NIV) states, "But in fact, God has arranged the parts in the body, everyone of them, just as he (God) wanted them to be." God determines the functions and abilities of the body's members and distributes them as He wills. A person has no more control over his abilities than an eye or an ear or a hand has control over the determination of their functions.
Metropolitan Methodios is completely in error by stating that each member (laymen, evangelist, teacher, pastor, bishop, Archbishop, Ephisians 4:11) can co-share in the gift of ministry of another member. On the contrary, each person will serve in the capacity of one's own personal strengths and abilities which are God-given, which is why the manifestations are also referred to as "gifts." Each person must endeavor to develop his gifts and to actualize them into manifestation, but clearly the inherent ability (role) is "unique" and determined by the Spirit.
There are distinct differences of ability among Church members. There is diversity in the distribution of manifestations (gift-ministries, gifts of grace), sometimes by distinction of type and certainly in degrees of ability. In view of the above analysis Metropolitan Methodios has violated the text of I Corinthians chapter 12.
Metropolitan Methodios "vision and logic" for synodal co-responsibility in the administrative authority of the Archdiocese between Archbishop Spyridon and the titular Metropolitans runs contrary to the revealed Word of God.
[ Greek Orthodox Stewards of America
July 9, 1999 ]