Militia Christi

In the Eastern Orthodox Church, at least as lately as 1973, the questions put to the man who would be baptized into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit included an exorcism–that is, a renunciation of Satan:

Dost thou renounce Satan, and all his Angels, and all his works, and all his services, and all his pride?

Alexander Schmemann explains that to answer affirmatively to this question means to commit oneself to a life at war:

The first act of the Christian life is a renunciation, a challenge. No one can be Christ’s until he has, first, faced evil, and then become ready to fight it. How far is this spirit from the way in which we often proclaim, or to use a more modern term, ‘sell’ Christianity today! Is it not usually presented as a comfort, help, release from tensions, a reasonable investment of time, energy and money? One has only to read–be it but once–the topics of the Sunday sermons announced in the Saturday newspapers, or the various syndicated ‘religious columns,’ to get the impression that ‘religion’ is almost invariably presented as salvation from something–fear, frustration, anxiety–but never as the salvation of man and the world. How could we then speak of ‘fight‘ when the very set-up of our churches must, by definition, convey the idea of softness, comfort, peace? How can the Church use again the military language, which was its own in the first days, when it still thought of itself as militia Christi? One does not see very well where and how ‘fight’ would fit into the weekly bulletin of a suburban parish, among all kinds of counseling sessions, bake sales, and ‘young adult’ get-togethers. (For the Life of the World, 71)

baptism of Clovis

Francois-Louis Dejuinne, Baptism of Clovis

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