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The Incarnation and the human embryo


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#81 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 14 July 2016 - 09:19 AM

I think the first sentence of the second paragraph of Anna's post must be close to the core of the matter.



#82 Anna Stickles

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Posted 22 July 2016 - 01:30 AM

Andreas,

 

Just the other day I was reading "God and Man" by Met. Anthony of Sourohz. In this book is a sermon on "Doubt and the Christian Life" and also the title essay, "Man and God.  There is a wonderful pastoral explanation of this tension.



#83 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 22 July 2016 - 08:56 AM

Thank you, Anna. I mentioned this topic to a friend of mine, and looking for a moment at the other end, he said that Christ's death on the Cross being by His own will meant that He would not have been subject to death as we are because He was perfect Man without sin. We see this in St John's Gospel where it says (10:17-18): 'Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again.' Christ's Incarnation is a mystery because it was different from our conception; equally, His death was not the same as those crucified with Him.


Edited by Rdr Andreas, 22 July 2016 - 08:57 AM.


#84 Anna Stickles

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Posted 22 July 2016 - 01:30 PM

Yes, How does Very Life of Very Life die?   How can Unchanging Eternity truly be conceived and born and grow and change?

 

Just as we wonder How can God be both three and one at the same time, we are left wondering at how these paradoxes can exist in Christ - but every heresy that has arisen has tried to deny one or the other side of this paradox, or tried to unite them in a way that denies the basic dependency of man on God, or the love of God for man and His involvement with us.


Edited by Anna Stickles, 22 July 2016 - 01:30 PM.


#85 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 22 July 2016 - 01:37 PM

My late spiritual father, Bishop Irenaeos of blessed memory, used to say, 'if it is not a paradox, it is probably not true'!



#86 Lakis Papas

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Posted 22 July 2016 - 07:09 PM

Since Moses was alone, by having been stripped as it were of the people’s fear, he boldly approached the very darkness itself and entered the invisible things where he was no longer seen by those watching. After he entered the inner sanctuary of the divine mystical doctrine, there, while not being seen, he was in company with the Invisible. He teaches, I think, by the things he did that the one who is going to associate intimately with God must go beyond all that is visible and—lifting up his own mind, as to a mountaintop, to the invisible and incomprehensible—believe that the divine is there where the understanding does not reach.’

—Gregory of Nyssa

Life of Moses, §46

#87 Matthew Panchisin

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Posted 09 December 2016 - 08:48 PM

Dear Anna,


Your more recent posts in this new non-embryo teaching thread compels much thought. Having thought about what has been presented by others, I still remain convinced that we see some things much differently. There seems to be some root differences in our understandings. There are a few things that come to mind here so this is a feeble attempt to convey some thoughts and ask a few questions to you for the sake of clarity.

It has been many years now since I have read the rather large and difficult on occasion (for me) text of Saint Ireneuas, I do recall though that he understood the Theotokas as co-recapitulator and provided much emphasis on the Adam-Christ and Eve-Theotokas parallel. I would be remiss not to mention this because of its significance. If my memory is correct, for Saint Ireneuas seeing the Theotokas as co-recapitulator was his primary way of refuting the cockamamie notions presented by various gnostic groups. I do recall in that regard his remarkable and moving theological coherency relative to the fullness of Christ's humanity when attempting to move or rescue other groups away from their concoctions.

You have mentioned:
 

"St Ireneaus when he talks about recapitulation of all the stages of growth does this within the context of showing how man as a created being is not perfect from the beginning in his mode of being, but must grow into the likeness of God thus when he talks about Christ's recapitulation of every material age of the flesh this is a kind of symbol for how the whole being of man from his beginning as created to the fullness of taking on all the attributes of God is contained in Christ."


This seems to be exceedingly problematic here and it seems right to point it out.

Would you say that for Saint Ireneaus (my what a loving man) the Theotokas as co-recapitulator in the salvation of humanity gave birth to Christ our God for him to symbolically experience the stages of our human existence?

Rather than a kind of symbol, and since you have mentioned God's love, can Saint Ireneaus' presentation of recapitulation-regeneration be seen in the context of a reflection of the expansiveness of Gods' love and good will toward all mankind - humanity? That seemed to be the essence of his discourse.

In his catechesis Saint Cyril of Jerusalem mentions of Christ that "he hath become a babe with babes" it does not seem here that we should be reading that and many many other relevant writings of the fathers like "all things in Christ" from within Orthodox tradition as symbolic.

You have also mentioned:
 

"but when we talk about "what is not assumed is not healed" this refers not to every human age/experience, but rather to a complete human nature."


Unless I'm misunderstanding you greatly, this is exceedingly problematic, not all of us see and understand things in that way. Many others have articulated the normal authentic Orthodox dogma - the reality of the great joy of the Christian faith regarding the incarnation precisely because it is read and usually understood as this quote by Father Florovsky accurately sums up.


"The Incarnate Word appeared on earth as man among men. This was the redeeming assumption of all human fullness, not only of human nature, but also of all the fullness of human life. The Incarnation had to be manifested in all the fullness of life, in the fullness of human ages, that all that fullness might be sanctified. This is one of the aspects of the idea of the "summing up" of all in Christ (recapitulatio, άνακεφαλαίωσις) which was taken up with such emphasis by St. Irenaeus from St. Paul."



I think within the traditional understandings of the Orthodox faith and Church, Christ the Prince of peace is always perfect and it is He the New Adam who entirely perfects human beings and human nature, the very young to the very old. "Be ye perfected as your heavenly Father is perfect" That is what we have always heard and have been taught in the Orthodox Church.

At the end of your comments you also mentioned this which is agreeable here, so that's good there is unity of mind in that regard.


"The main ontological point that all the Fathers make is that in Christ God is with us in the entirety of our existence, from beginning to end as a healing and deifying presence that restores peace and concord between God and man."



 In Christ,

 
Matthew
 


Edited by Matthew Panchisin, 09 December 2016 - 08:51 PM.


#88 Anna Stickles

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Posted 14 December 2016 - 07:44 PM

the conversation has been awhile ago, but thanks for continuing as it draws out the whole context better and helps to clarify things when we discuss them.

 

I think we are using "symbolically" differently.   I did not say that Christ is experiencing anything symbolically. He lived and experienced human life as a man truly and really.  I said that St Ireneaus was using Christ's going through all the stages of physical growth as a symbol - a metaphor or parable, as a way to talk about all the stages of man's growing up into the fullness of the likeness of God. St Ireneaus like many Fathers, and like Christ himself uses what is seen and commonly experienced as a stepping off point for pointing to spiritual realities.
My main point here was that we cannot take what he says and run with it in a logical or materialistic manner. We have to grasp what he was actually trying to communicate. Which I think Fr. Florovsky sums up..."all the fullness of life"

 

"but when we talk about "what is not assumed is not healed" this refers not to every human age/experience, but rather to a complete human nature."
Looking back at this I agree the statement is not well said. What I was trying to do was specifically answer a problem I saw with Peter's statements in post #78 and which I have encountered quite often.
 
Peter commented "what we are to think about those children who die moments or even a mere few weeks after they are conceived.  Did those children traverse a path and die at a somatic point in life that had not been sanctified by the Lord's incarnation?"
 
What this assumes though is that Christ has to sanctify every human experience by living through it.  What then of those who die of old age? What of those who are blind? or those who die of cancer? Those who get married? Christ never had these experiences .... are they then not sanctified?  This whole idea of Christ sanctifying us through experiencing what we experience leads quickly into problems that create a humanistic Christ lacking any real divinity. It sees sanctification happening not through the interpentetration of the divine and human, but through Christ experiencing things as we do.  
 
I have encountered enough people teaching this idea  to be wary and sensitive to things tending in that direction, even when there is no one in the discussion teaching this. What happens in this line of theology is that instead of us being saved through taking into ourselves Christ's life and experience, they teach that He must become everything we are taking into Himself every experience of ours.  Our experience though is so varied, multiple, and mixed with sin.... this type of theology goes downhill fast.

Edited by Anna Stickles, 14 December 2016 - 07:45 PM.


#89 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 14 December 2016 - 10:44 PM

Thank you for that, Anna. I was just thinking how this links with the thread about human nature where I asked in what that really consisted.



#90 Matthew Panchisin

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Posted 15 December 2016 - 01:16 AM

Dear Anna,

After reading what you have just mentioned it is even more clear here that our thinking or perspectives are much different. To me it seems you move in more of a compartmentalized way. One gets the feeling that people are intellectually searching to understand who Christ is.

I don't have much time to reply right now but suffice it to say, the Orthodox Church has always conveyed that Christ is the Alpha and Omega the very Lord God almighty incarnate, so those misunderstandings that you encounter should be easy to dismiss.

You have mentioned: "What this assumes though is that Christ has to sanctify every human experience by living through it. What then of those who die of old age? What of those who are blind? or those who die of cancer? Personally I have never understood that to mean those who are blind, people dying of cancer etc., the Orthodox Church does not convey such notions so here it is sadly seen as a fundamental misunderstanding.

When Saint Irenaeus speaks of Christ as "recapitulating" or perhaps the term "summing up" human life, he is speaking of He who is absolutely perfect and obedient, the new Adam. To be clear, The Lord God is immortal and incorruptible and with the incarnation of Christ we are the recipients of those qualities, to the glory of God in the highest. Hence your migrating notions of cancer,
blindness etc. are very difficult to even hear here.

For many years now Anna and Andreas I thought the Orthodox Church and Saint Irenaeus teach that "part of the process of recapitulation is for Christ to go through every stage of human life, from infancy to old age, and simply by living it, sanctify it with his divinity." It is perfected by He who is perfect, the Lord God.

It is however noteworthy to mention that marriages and people dying of cancer etc. are blessed in the Orthodox Church, people and their lives are sanctified therein. I'm sure you would agree that in these days within the Orthodox Church when a woman who has a very young child in her womb receives Holy Communion we can see that God is with her and her child in a very intimate way, nay?

In Christ,

 

Matthew Panchisin


#91 Lakis Papas

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Posted 15 December 2016 - 11:20 PM

Many Christians do not understand that we share only our nature with Christ. They think that we also share our fallen ways with Him. For example, indeed Christ died, but His breathless body was not lifeless, like ours is when we die. We die as sinners, He died as free of sin. His breathless body did not became subject of corruption. As Anna said Christ did not copy our ways. He destroyed death by death, but His death differs from ours because as it happened immediately it was defeated.
It took no time for the destruction of death.
This difference between Christ and us is not a difference in nature, which is identical.
Yes we share the same nature but we can not perform what Christ did in the same ways by ourselves.
Bodies of some saints do not become subjects of corruption after their death, by the Grace of the Holy Spirit. But they share the same nature with us, even if their death is not like ours.

#92 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 16 December 2016 - 11:57 AM

At post #18, Lakis said this (my emphasis):
 

St John Damascene says:

"We have an analogy in Adam, who was not begotten (for God Himself moulded him), and Seth, who was begotten (for he is Adam's son), and Eve, who proceeded out of Adam's rib (for she was not begotten). These do not differ from each other in nature, for they are human beings: but they differ in the mode of coming into existence."

So, those who differ in the mode of coming into existence, they do not differ from each other in nature. Thus Christ differs in the mode of coming into existence, but this does not make Him to differ in human nature that took from His Holy mother.

 

In another thread a long time ago, Bishop Irenee (as he now is) corrected me when I said Christ took His human nature from His All-Holy Mother. At the time, I was unsure about this but on reflection, it must be right, though, so far as I know, we do not know how Christ assumed His human nature, and we know only that He took 'flesh' from the Theotokos.


Edited by Rdr Andreas, 16 December 2016 - 11:57 AM.


#93 Lakis Papas

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Posted 16 December 2016 - 07:09 PM

At post #18, Lakis said this (my emphasis):
 

 
In another thread a long time ago, Bishop Irenee (as he now is) corrected me when I said Christ took His human nature from His All-Holy Mother. At the time, I was unsure about this but on reflection, it must be right, though, so far as I know, we do not know how Christ assumed His human nature, and we know only that He took 'flesh' from the Theotokos.


Please, can you double check Bishop's words?

#94 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 16 December 2016 - 08:48 PM

It's somewhere here http://www.monachos....n-being/page-20



#95 Matthew Panchisin

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Posted 22 December 2016 - 05:57 PM

Dear Andreas,

You have mentioned:

 

"In another thread a long time ago, Bishop Irenee (as he now is) corrected me when I said Christ took His human nature from His All-Holy Mother. At the time, I was unsure about this but on reflection, it must be right, though, so far as I know, we do not know how Christ assumed His human nature, and we know only that He took 'flesh' from the Theotokos."

 

Could you provide the exact text of the new bishop which corrected you when you said that Christ took His human nature from His All-Holy Mother? It's very difficult to believe here.

 
The Orthodox Church does not teach that the Theotokas is some type of conduit that Christ appeared in all at once and passed through, you will find such notions within much of Gnostic docetism. The birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is from a human woman, she conveys her own human nature to Christ.
 
In Christ,
 
Matthew Panchisin

Edited by Matthew Panchisin, 22 December 2016 - 05:57 PM.


#96 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 22 December 2016 - 07:17 PM

I think I made a mistake in attributing this to Bishop Irenee - it was some member. Please disregard this.



#97 Matthew Panchisin

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Posted 30 December 2016 - 02:37 AM

Dear Andreas,

Thank you for the clarification or mercy, for some time it was a seriously difficult conveyance of notions to process in my mind.

 

In Christ,

 

Matthew Panchisin

Edited by Matthew Panchisin, 30 December 2016 - 02:47 AM.





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