Yet our churches are patterned after the Jewish temple, and are really its evolution.
This is extremely debatable, to say the least. I don't think it is necessarily a good thing at all that the altar area is referred to in folk tradition as the holy of holies. In fact, I might think that this is quite a dangerous way to think. There is no evidence to show that the solid iconostasis evolved originally because of an equation of the altar with the Jewish holy of holies. Christianity is the fulfillment of Judaism, but it is not its evolution. The resurrection of Christ and all its implications for humanity have turned everything on its ear.
God resides in His temples, the buildings in which we worship as well as humanity, which is His ultimate Temple.
Since the age of the new covenant was inaugurated, God does not "reside" in a special place anymore. There is no longer a demarcation between "sacred" and "profane" as there was in the time of the old covenant, when there were very clear lines of delineation between what was considered holy and what was considered profane. I agree that, paradoxically, that churches are places where God's kingdom regularly comes closer to us, and I do not wish to say that we should not acknowledge this when it comes to church buildings.
In English, the word "temple" brings with it a connotation of regality, mystery, and sincerity--qualities of our Orthodox houses of worship.
It also brings an association with the old Jewish temple. My argument has become not really whether or not the word should be used, but that it can be used too much. Here is a case in point: all of a sudden now in my parish, we have adopted the new OCA translation whole hog. At every turn now, the church is referred to liturgically as "holy temple" instead of "holy house", and the clergy seem to be using the word even more outside of liturgy than before. This smacks of overkill to me. Following the priniciple of lex orandi, lex credendi
, I think that the laity will come more and more to think of the church building as the
special place where God dwells, and no where else. So I think it is okay to refer to it as a temple sometimes, but not always, and to keep in mind how much Orthodox thought is fond of paradoxes, in keeping with the eschatological tension of the present age. So it might be great to say something like "we call the church building a temple" but then to follow this with "yes, that is true, BUT..." statement.
Rather than the common "house," with its ideas of privacy and individuality; or the ambiguous "parish," with its multiple meanings; "temple" brings us directly to the church building, and therefore is a perfectly suitable word for this use.
I think the word "house" is perfectly suitable as a word to describe the church building. Liturgically, I believe it is the only word the Greeks use, with perhaps the odd allegorical exception here and there. It is always preceded by the qualifying word "holy" or "your" (ie "God's) so I think that this word is just fine liturgically. We did perfectly well with it before we started to use "temple" everywhere in my parish.
I have concerns about Judaizing in Orthodoxy and, in a related way, with a loss of eschatological tension. We do still live in the fallen world of this present age, but we also live in the age where the Kingdom has been inaugurated. I am concerned with the idea that some simply see Orthodoxy as the "continuation" of Judaism, and not something, that, while respecting the Jewish heritage on the one hand, also represents something radically
new and inestimably wonderful.