Fanaticism hinders a man's understanding but true faith gives it freedom. - Elder Macarius of Optina
I've noticed since I became interested in Orthodoxy 5 years ago, there seems to be three realms of people in the Orthodox Church. The very liberal, the moderates, and the very conservative.
The extreme liberals border on true ecumenism, and may seek to "reform" the Church or at least make it somewhat more "Western".
Whereas the extreme conservatives are as anti-ecumenism as you can get. They regard any relations with other "Churches" as ecumenism. They also tend to be extreme on other aspects such as canons, "traditions", etc...
I've always been taught that the middle road, the moderate, is where Orthodoxy truly lays. I'm always cautious of those who are too liberal and too conservative.
So why do we allow these two extreme groups in Orthodoxy? It seems to be that both are hindrances to the Church and hurt it more than they help it. (they also seem to often be the sources of conflict between Orthodox)
What are we to do about this? Can we do anything about it? Or will fanaticism always be an unfortunate part of faith?
I am not sure where I fit in this classification.
I am a liberal as far as my political and social convictions go. But if you ask me, do I want the Church to be reformed and to become more like modern "Western" communities of Christian faith, - I would say, no. I don't see anything in my parish, in the services there that needs a "reform." I am quite happy with how things are, as long as our Father Chris is with us and we gather for the Divine Liturgy about once a month.
On the other hand, I am not a diehard "anti-Ecumenist" simply because I am not all that interested in Ecumenism. Maybe it's simplistic, but that's what I understand: we, the Orthodox Church, have the "fullness" of faith. We do not need to unite with anyone or borrow anything from anyone. Yet, if "professionals" (clergymen, hierarchs, theologians) are looking for certain things that they find useful in the ecumenical movement - that's fine, let them do it. I will certainly not scream that this or that bishop is a heretic because he is an Ecumenist.