Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Schmemann on Clericalism

I am very excited about my new book coming out, Church, World, and Kingdom: The Eucharistic Foundation for Alexander Schmemann's Pastoral Theology which will be available soon. One major theme in Schmemann's writings, especially in his journals, is the problem of clericalism.

Clericalism is the false separation between clergy and laity, where the clergy assume too much power and control over the laity. Clericalism envisions the Church as a top--down power structure where the clergy have the final say on things and the people just "pray, pay, and obey" as they say.

Schmemann saw this as a problem because this is not the way the Church is presented in the Scriptures, in our theology, and in our liturgical practice.

“Clericalism suffocates; it makes part of itself into the whole sacred character of the Church; it makes its power and a sacred power to control, to lead, to administer, a power to perform sacraments, and in general, it makes any power a “power given to me.”
Clericalism separates all “sacredness” from the lay people." (Feb. 2, 1982, p. 310).

One of the major problems today in our Church is clericalism. We have to remember the Church is not just the clergy alone, or the laity alone, but the entire people of God working together for the good of the Church. 

I hope that all of you have a wonderful parish community where everyone works together for the building up of the Body of Christ.