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'Can we come in?' Orthodoxy and other traditions


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#1 Brian Mickelsen

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Posted 13 July 2009 - 03:33 PM

I have noticed a trend among the Orthodox tradition, and would like to post a personal communication that I recently had with a member of the Greek tradition.

""' We who are outside the orthodox tradition are not all deceived and demonic. We are trying as best we can to Love and follow Jesus. The word of God came to the Jews and the greek part of the world first, but please let us outside the orthodox tradition join in your Christian world view -- Jesus accepts us so please influence the various orthodox groups to accept us in Christ.

You may find that newer and more recent converts (generationally speaking) outside the orthodox tradition can see things in the bible that the orthodox tradition has allowed to fall into disrepair over the centuries, due to overfamiliarity etc.

If you in the orthodox group decide to open your minds to the fact that so called outsiders are a part of Christ, it will get doctrinally messy. Can the patristic (fatherly) tradition bring up a whole world of screaming converts and possibly participate in a little self-realization at the same time?'''

I know that some of your authority figures have decided to allow outsiders such as myself to participate in messy doctrinal discussions. This instruction requires the patience of a father and a referee.

As your leaders understand - many of the "outsiders" will never change their chosen tradition or label "protestant - catholic - etc". Does this small conformity make them ineligible for Jesus Christ? Would Jesus exclude a person because they did not understand God?

Does the necessity of Jesus command to preach - teach and make disciples, weigh heavily enough upon the orthodox people that they will allow some "outsiders" to retain their comfortable tradition or label and still call themselves Christians?

More importantly do "You" as orthodox believers want to trouble yourselves with "outsiders", or remain comfortable speaking among yourselves and discussing doctrinal fine points? I believe some will try and obey Jesus mandate and that will bring condemnation to those who decide to follow that mandate, both from inside and outside the Orthodox tradition.

So will you open this can of worms or not?

Most traditional divisions are not over concerns central to salvation, as you all know, but over trivials.

Brian

Edited by Brian Mickelsen, 13 July 2009 - 04:00 PM.
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#2 Andrew

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Posted 13 July 2009 - 03:42 PM

I have noticed a trend among the Orthodox tradition, and would like to post a personal communication that I recently had with a member of the Greek tradition.

""' We who are outside the orthodox tradition are not all deceived and demonic. We are trying as best we can to Love and follow Jesus. The word of God came to the Jews and the greek part of the world first, but please let us outside the orthodox tradition join in your Christian world view -- Jesus accepts us so please influence the various orthodox groups to accept us in Christ.

You may find that newer and more recent converts (generationally speaking) outside the orthodox tradition can see things in the bible that the orthodox tradition has allowed to fall into disrepair over the centuries, due to overfamiliarity etc.

If you in the orthodox group decide to open your minds to the fact that so called outsiders are a part of Christ, it will get doctrinally messy. Can the patristic (fatherly) tradition bring up a whole world of screaming converts and possibly participate in a little self-realization at the same time?'''

Brian


I don't quite understand what's being said here, especially the last line. If this has to due with how the Church views non-Orthodox people, then I can try to sum it up like this - all are made in the image of God and have a natural beauty and goodness, but we are fallen in the sickness of sin and death. Humanity and the universe is corrupt, not in the sense of "all bad," but in the sense of "once was pure but is now marred." Christ, the second person of the Trinity, became fully man to save mankind and creation - God became flesh and walked (and walks), and because of this the whole universe has changed. Man can now be freed from corruption, from sin and death, in Christ. Man can be truly holy! So there are saints, people who have conquered the passions. There are a lot of good non-Orthodox people, but they do not have the capability for any of this, because they are outside the Church, the Body of Christ that unites man to God in flesh and blood. Are there non-Orthodox who will see salvation? It's not for us to judge, but there are, because all salvation is through Christ, so it is in His hands.

I don't know if that answered what you were looking for, but I really don't understand what's being said in those quotes.

#3 Brian Mickelsen

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Posted 13 July 2009 - 04:40 PM

You have hit on the precise point ---

There are a lot of good non-Orthodox people, but they do not have the capability for any of this, because they are outside the Church...

Are there non-Orthodox who will see salvation? It's not for us to judge, but there are, because all salvation is through Christ, so it is in His hands.


First we have to learn to communicate.

You say that the "non-orthodox" are incapable of being Christians.

You seem to be saying the non-orthodox believers are incapable of becoming christlike. I would use this phrase ---non- Christians are incapable of becoming Christlike.

I assume therefore that you associate the term "orthodox with the term "Christian". Therefore everyone who is non-orthodox is non-christian in your mind.

If this is correct?

The next question becomes is the term "orthodox tradition" - the words you use to signify the process of the conformation to Christ.

Or is the term "orthodox tradition" a denominational label?

I myself who is not familiar with your termininology view your phrase "orthodox tradition" as a denominational label such as lutheran or baptist.

I probably view the term this way because I have to suffer through many schisms or denominationally divergent thought processes in my life. Such as lutheran baptist etc.

If I myself a non-orthodox believer follows Christ will Jesus transform me so that I can oversome sin? Or will he only transform those who convert to the orthdox tradition and adopt the label orthodox?

Must I humble myself before your tradition or before Jesus Christ before I become eligible for this transformation to the image of Christ?

Can I be saved if I don't understand God? Of course! - we all start out not understanding and I think I am safe in saying none of us will ever understand God completely.

What I am saying is that salvation is not dependant upon knowledge but trust in Jesus Christ.

Brian

#4 M.C. Steenberg

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Posted 13 July 2009 - 04:42 PM

Dear all,

Mr Mickelson has again greatly edited a post after submission, which means that the comments that have followed no longer clearly link up.

Here is the initial post in this thread, as originally posted:

I have noticed a trend among the Orthodox tradition, and would like to post a personal communication that I recently had with a member of the Greek tradition.

""' We who are outside the orthodox tradition are not all deceived and demonic. We are trying as best we can to Love and follow Jesus. The word of God came to the Jews and the greek part of the world first, but please let us outside the orthodox tradition join in your Christian world view -- Jesus accepts us so please influence the various orthodox groups to accept us in Christ.

You may find that newer and more recent converts (generationally speaking) outside the orthodox tradition can see things in the bible that the orthodox tradition has allowed to fall into disrepair over the centuries, due to overfamiliarity etc.

If you in the orthodox group decide to open your minds to the fact that so called outsiders are a part of Christ, it will get doctrinally messy. Can the patristic (fatherly) tradition bring up a whole world of screaming converts and possibly participate in a little self-realization at the same time?'''

Brian

Please can I take this opportunity to remind all members that the edit-your-post-after-posting feature is intended for the correction of minor typos and the like - not for substantial re-writing, precisely because it changes the course of a thread. Fuller information on this is found in the Community Handbook.

Please take the time to construct your posts as you want them to appear: and be sure to use the 'Preview' feature so you can see your draft post, edit it prior to posting, etc.

INXC, Dcn Matthew

#5 M.C. Steenberg

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Posted 13 July 2009 - 04:49 PM

Dear all,

Before discussion in this thread goes further, please can I note that, as it has thus far been articulated, its theme is outside the scope of this forum. If it is to continue, please can all contributors ensure that it is approached explicitly and directly from the perspective of the patristic and monastic heritage of the Church. That is, please ensure that all posts are reflecting specifically on the thoughts, views and practices of the Fathers and monastic tradition (e.g. by quotations from the Fathers), in order to make them relevant to the specific context of this forum.

With thanks, INXC, Dcn Matthew

#6 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 13 July 2009 - 05:27 PM

First we have to learn to communicate.

You say that the "non-orthodox" are incapable of being Christians.

You seem to be saying the non-orthodox believers are incapable of becoming christlike. I would use this phrase ---non- Christians are incapable of becoming Christlike.


In the spirit of learning to communicate, I am not sure that is a fair interpretation of what was said. It is not that non-Orthodox believers are incapable, but I think it fair to say that they are at a disadvantage. They do not have access to all the "tools" in the Orthodox tool box, as it were. They do not have access to the same medicines and treatments that the Church provides. Unlicensed healers and folk medicine can often relieve symptoms and even heal minor ills, but are not necessarily a good substitute for real medicine and real hospitals.

I assume therefore that you associate the term "orthodox with the term "Christian". Therefore everyone who is non-orthodox is non-christian in your mind.


Weeeelllll, not really, but here's the thing. "Orthodox" comes from "ortho" which refers to right, proper, or correct, and "doxa" which refers to doctrine, belief, and worship. Orthodox Christians, in that context, are right-worshipping, correct-doctrine, proper-believing Christians. Heterodox Christians are something else. Are they "wrong"? Well it can be said, from an Orthodox view, that SOMETHING is missing, they don't have the whole package. Does that make them "non-Christian"? God knows, we don't. Therefore we cannot say in good faith that they are "in" the Church as we understand it to be and we cannot in good faith merely commend them to go happily down the path they set, because we don't really know where it leads. If it leads to Christ then to God be the Glory. If it doesn't, then at least we have made our concerns known.

If this is correct?


Not exactly.

The next question becomes is the term "orthodox tradition" - the words you use to signify the process of the conformation to Christ.

Or is the term "orthodox tradition" a denominational label?


No. Orthodoxy is not a denomination. It is the visible New Israel, the continuing worshipping People of God.

I myself who is not familiar with your termininology view your phrase "orthodox tradition" as a denominational label such as lutheran or baptist.

I probably view the term this way because I have to suffer through many schisms or denominationally divergent thought processes in my life. Such as lutheran baptist etc.

If I myself a non-orthodox believer follows Christ will Jesus transform me so that I can oversome sin? Or will he only transform those who convert to the orthdox tradition and adopt the label orthodox?


If you have cancer and go to Mexico for treatment with guava juice, will you be healed? Or do you go to a proper hospital that treats your disease? Or do you just stay home and hope you heal?

Must I humble myself before your tradition or before Jesus Christ before I become eligible for this transformation to the image of Christ?


We all must be humble enough to accept that the doctor might know more about our illness than we do and submit ourselves to his care.

Can I be saved if I don't understand God? Of course! - we all start out not understanding and I think I am safe in saying none of us will ever understand God completely.

What I am saying is that salvation is not dependant upon knowledge but trust in Jesus Christ.

Brian


Absolutely. Knowledge helps but it (in and of itself) does not save, Orthodoxy has always taught this and this is a major differentiator between it and the Protestant churches. It is the ongoing and real encounter with Christ that saves, everything else is just part of the journey and helps us to have that encounter in a real and viseral way and not just as a thought exercise or theoretical manner. We encounter Christ in the sacraments, in communal worship, in asceticism, in private prayer, and in each other.

Can you be "christian" and not be Orthodox? Perhaps, but I think it is a lot harder to do.

Or so it seems to this bear of little brain.

Herman the Pooh

#7 Mary

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Posted 13 July 2009 - 05:39 PM

Most traditional divisions are not over concerns central to salvation, as you all know, but over trivials.

Brian


Not true.


You seem to be saying the non-orthodox believers are incapable of becoming christlike. I would use this phrase ---non- Christians are incapable of becoming Christlike.


Who told you that?

I assume therefore that you associate the term "orthodox with the term "Christian". Therefore everyone who is non-orthodox is non-christian in your mind.

If this is correct?


Assumptions are unsafe. You assume incorrectly.

The next question becomes is the term "orthodox tradition" - the words you use to signify the process of the conformation to Christ.

Or is the term "orthodox tradition" a denominational label?


It is not a denominational label. There is the Church Tradition that is pretty much identical in all orthodox churches, and then there are the tiny details that make the Greeks Greek, the Russians Russian, the Romanians Romanian - and us converts can pick and choose any of those that we take a fancy to, because those just add spice and color to our celebrations. No one messes with the Traditions that are handed down by the fathers, Traditions that our forefathers died for... these Traditions bring healing to our souls, and they have no substitutes - Baptism, Confession, Eucharist - and so forth.

I probably view the term this way because I have to suffer through many schisms or denominationally divergent thought processes in my life. Such as lutheran baptist etc.


There isn't any suffering that Christ cannot cure.

If I myself a non-orthodox believer follows Christ will Jesus transform me so that I can oversome sin? Or will he only transform those who convert to the orthdox tradition and adopt the label orthodox?


There isn't anything that Christ cannot do. But He does not force Himself on anyone. He will only change you to the extent that you are willing to let Him change you. Are you willing to follow Him anywhere? Even into the Orthodox Church?


Must I humble myself before your tradition or before Jesus Christ before I become eligible for this transformation to the image of Christ?


The tradition isn't ours. It is Christ's. Do you wish to humble yourself before Him? If you are, He won't let you down. Only Christ can help anyone become like Himself. And He's free to work in anyone He want's to work in. How are you going to make sure you're willing to be worked on by Him?

I have my traditions that help me judge my own willingness to change - there are the regular fasts that I can keep or not, there are the prayers that I can partake of or not, I can go to confessions or not, I can forgive my brother or not. The more willing I am to humble myself to these things that Christ has commanded me to do, the more He can work on me and transform me. I am my own judge. I know full well when I am willing to be transformed, and when my pride gets in the way. How do you judge yourself?

Can I be saved if I don't understand God? Of course! - we all start out not understanding and I think I am safe in saying none of us will ever understand God completely.

What I am saying is that salvation is not dependant upon knowledge but trust in Jesus Christ.

Brian


We're all saved by God's mercy, not by what we do, or how well we talk, or how well we understand. We all have some kind of understanding. God does find those who seek Him, and He reveals Himself in ways that we can comprehend so we can choose to respond to Him, or not.

In my case, I came to point where I knew I'd be disobedient to Him, if I refused to become Orthodox. He didn't force me to become Orthodox. But I was at a place where I had to make a choice. He had made it clear to me that the life I'd been living was ok, but there was a LOT more. If I wanted more, I had to keep moving - into the unknown Orthodox Church. You're right when you say it's about trust. I had to choose between trusting Him and going to a church that might just turn out to be another complicated human tradition, or remain in my uncomplicated protestant tradition that wasn't feeding me like I longed to be fed.

He didn't tell me ahead of time, what would happen if I chose to become Orthodox. But I knew what would happen if I chose to remain protestant. I would die of starvation, knowing everyday, that I'd lost my chance to maybe find some food for my soul.

I knew that I could not be saved, if I deliberately chose to not follow Him. Till He brings you to the place where you need to make such a choice, I don't think you can. All you can do, is to just make sure that every choice you make keeps you moving closer to Him. That's all I could do - and my choices led me to the Orthodox Church. Even now, I find that my choices remain the same - I can continue getting closer to Him, or fall away from Him. Some days I make the right choices, some days I don't.

Keep praying.
In Christ,
Mary.

#8 D. W. Dickens

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Posted 13 July 2009 - 06:04 PM

Brian,

I'm afraid I don't understand your post. Perhaps it would be helpful to say, while I don't think Orthodoxy has anything to learn or gain (the fullness can gain nothing as it is already complete) from Protestant or Roman Christianity, I do believe that Orthodox believers can learn things from Protestants and Roman Catholic believers, if they are carefully prepared for the pitfalls which might arise and they are in obedience to their spiritual father.

For example, humility can be learned from an atheist if they are humble. But that kenosis is a cornerstone of the Gospel is only fully manifest in Orthodoxy. Careless "learning from Protestants and Roman Catholics" on this matter would likely only result in a deformation of that cornerstone. Continuing my example, the Shakers considered humility in high regard for Protestants, so much so that they were obsessively unadorned. Shakers did not see the spiritual value of icons because their idea of humility is corrupted with iconoclasm. Learning humility from Shakers would thus involve a reasonable danger of engaging in iconoclasm.

If one approaches the knowledge of God as "scattered about the world" in such a way as an individual must go around collecting it and synergizing it he will find that much of it is incompatible. You are left only able to construct the largest possible collection of reasonably compatible factoids. Such an approach is in opposition to the received tradition of the Church as a matter of sourcing, a matter of personal judgment and as a misunderstanding about truth-as-proposition rather than Truth-as-Person (Christ).

Most Orthodox I know consider non-Orthodox to be perfectly capable of making correct statements about God, but that such statements are coincidental (a broken clock is right twice a day) and without context of the experience of Christ any such statements are rendered meaningless.

A few years ago, I could not have written this post. But having converted to Orthodoxy, it seems an utterly natural way of speaking now.

I should point out that I am a great example of someone who has been so distorted by the "truth-as-proposition" problem that I'm sure my therapy on that matter alone will take the whole of my lifetime. Forgive me, a sinner.

#9 Nina

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Posted 13 July 2009 - 06:14 PM

Of course you can come in Orthodoxy.

Read two volumes by Elder Cleopa titled "The Truth of our Faith". Those will help you very much because those are in the form of Q&A by ex-protestant beliver who is discussing with this Elder. Elder Cleopa not only makes a great expose of the Orthodox faith but replies with Patristic wisdom and basis to many issues a protestant may have with Orthodoxy.

#10 Ryan

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Posted 13 July 2009 - 06:24 PM

Brian- in your last post here, you "refuted" Orthodox views using an assortment of scriptural quotes taken out of context, ie the proof-texting method which even serious advocates of sola scriptura don't take seriously. Have you abandoned this methodology? Fr. Dcn. Matthew has kindly asked us to keep this thread relevant with patristic evidence, but I think we are still at the very basics here, namely basic Orthodox ecclesiology. If you want a basic Orthodox view of the Church and how it relates to other Christians, this article should be helpful. We are happy to answer questions, but if someone is serious about learning something, he won't rely on an internet forum for his research.

#11 Brian Mickelsen

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Posted 13 July 2009 - 06:27 PM

Of course you can come in Orthodoxy.


Wow! Thankyou Nina - I will look them up and begin to read them.

Brian

Edited by M.C. Steenberg, 14 July 2009 - 06:36 PM.
Fixed broken 'quote' tag


#12 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 13 July 2009 - 11:16 PM

It may be a little misleading to non-Orthodox to call the Orthodox Church 'Orthodox' because that tends to suggest a denomination. It is, quite simply, the Church established by Christ on the faith of the Apostles. After some one thousand years, the west began to deviate from this faith. The Roman Church adopted unwarranted innovations. After a further five hundred years or more, protests at abuses in the Roman Church led the Protestants to deviate much further from the Church. So much is well known. What does this signify? That the fulness of faith - of truth - resides in the Orthodox Church. Guided by the Holy Spirit, it is perfect in faith and worship. As such, it has, to use Herman's analogy, a complete 'tool box' for salvation. Does this mean that the Orthodox are all saved? No. Does it mean that non-Orthodox are not saved? No. The Holy Spirit goes where He will. It also depends on how we make use of the tools in the tool box. I would hesitate to use the term, 'outsiders'. Were the Samaritan woman or the sinful woman who anointed Christ's feet with her tears outsiders? I often think of Dr David Livingston; after years of toil serving his brothers in Africa, he returned to Edinburgh to fame and acclaim. He had done more than most men ever do to serve his fellow men. He could justifiably have retired. Yet he went back to Africa to serve the people there. Years later, he was found in his hut one morning on his knees in prayer, dead - in this manner, he had given up his soul to God. In such manner had St Seraphim of Sarov been found to have reposed. What can we say? I was once told, 'let us not presume to tell God whom He may have as His friends'. So, does it matter if we are Orthodox or not? I believe it does. We are not all David Livingston or St Seraphim. How shall we manage? We shall have the best opportunity for salvation if we go where the fulness of truth is to be found, where we, in our frailty, can best be helped and healed.

#13 Father David Moser

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Posted 14 July 2009 - 12:11 AM

At least a large part of the flaw that I perceive in the discussion to date is that Mr Micklesen seems to be making a basic assumption that the Church is a human organization, membership in which is a prerequisite for salvation. This is not correct. The Church is a divine/human organism. The following quote from St Justin (Popovich) explains this in greater detail.

The definition of the Church, her life, her purpose, her spirit, her plan, her ways, all these are given in the wondrous Person of the God-human Christ. Hence, the mission of the Church is to make every one of her faithful, organically and in person, one with the Person of Christ; to turn their sense of self into a sense of Christ, and their self-knowledge (self-awareness) into Christ-knowledge (Christ-awareness); for them life to become the life in Christ and for Christ; their personality to become personality in Christ and for Christ; that within them might live not they themselves, but Christ in them. The mission of the Church is still to bring about in her members the conviction that the proper state of human personhood is composed of immortality and eternity and not of the realm of time and mortality... and the conviction that man is a wayfarer who is wending his way in the sway of time and morality towards immortality and all eternity.

The Church is God-human, eternity incarnated with the boundaries of time and space. She is here in this world but she is not of this world. She is in the world in order to raise it on high where she herself has her origin. The church is ecumenical, catholic, God-human, ageless, and it s therefore a blasphemy - an unpardonable blasphemy against Christ and against the Holy Ghost - to turn the Church into an ... institution...

The Church is the personhood of the God-human Christ, a God-human organism and not a human organization. The Church is indivisible, as is the person of the God-human, as is the body of the God-human.The definition of the Church, her life, her purpose, er spirit, her plan, her ways, all these are given in the wondrous Person of the God-human Christ. Hence, the mission of the Church is to make every one of her faithful, organically and in person, one with the Person of Christ; to turn their sense of self into a sense of Christ, and their self-knowledge (self-awareness) into Christ-knowledge (Christ-awareness); for them life to become the life in Christ and for Christ; their personality to become personality in Christ and for Christ; that within them might live not they themselves, but Christ in them. The mission of the Church is still to bring about in her members the conviction that the proper state of human personhood is composed of immortality and eternity and not of the realm of time and mortality... and the conviction that man is a wayfarer who is wending his way in the sway of tim and morality towards immortality and all eternity.

The Church is God-human, eternity incarnated with the boundaries of time and space. She is here in this world but she is not of this world. She is in the world in order to raise it on high where she herself has her origin. The church is ecumenical, catholic, God-human, ageless, and it s therefore a blasphemy - an unpardonable blasphemy against Christ and against the Holy Ghost - to turn the Church into an ... institution...

The Church is the personhood of the God-human Christ, a God-human organism and not a human organization. The Church is indivisible, as is the person of the God-human, as is the body of the God-human.


Fr David Moser

#14 Jennifer Anne S.

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Posted 14 July 2009 - 12:15 PM

The OP seems to be very angry -- perhaps there is more here than meets the eye?

Why should he be surprised that an organization -- any organization -- would have a defined set of beliefs which state their reason for existence? As a member (currently) of the Roman Catholic Church, I would not expect my hierarchy to change the beliefs of the Church to "welcome outsiders" (as you put it). Likewise, I would not expect the Orthodox Church bishops to do so either.

Both organizations, the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church, believe they have the fullness of the truth where the other is lacking. This is as it should be. After all, if you don't believe in what you are doing, why would anyone else?

Both organizations are also very much open to allowing anyone who believes as they do to join. So they are already open to "outsiders" who want to become "insiders". Do you want to join the Orthodox Church? Easy: confess, repent and believe. They will welcome you. It does not get much more open than that!

#15 D. W. Dickens

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Posted 14 July 2009 - 05:25 PM

Jennifer,

Forgive me if I err here, I am a recent convert to Orthodoxy.

However, it is not so much that Orthodoxy is an organization with beliefs that they defend. Rather it is an organism who's existence they defend. This is a subtle but critical difference.

While part of the life of the Church is the affirmation of (for example) the 7 Ecumenical Councils, I think it is deceptive that some have called the Church "the Church of the 7 Ecumenical Councils". This is too narrow an appreciation for the life of the Church, of which theological expressions of dogma are only a small part.

My spiritual father says the cataphatic is a delusion until it acknowledges the apophatic.

#16 Brian Mickelsen

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Posted 14 July 2009 - 05:37 PM

D.W. - What does this mean?

Jennifer,

My spiritual father says the cataphatic is a delusion until it acknowledges the apophatic.


Brian

#17 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 14 July 2009 - 06:18 PM

D.W. - What does this mean?

Brian


In very sparse terms, it means that describing Who and what God is must be balanced by describing who and what God isn't. When we try to "define" God, we ultimately place Him in a box, and that which is uncontainable doesn't fit very nicely in a box. The apophatic approach tries to remove the boundaries that the cataphatic approach unavoidably creates.

At least that is how this bear of little brain understands it.

Herman the Pooh

#18 Ryan

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Posted 14 July 2009 - 06:26 PM

Brian- The terms "cataphatic" and "apophatic" refer to different ways of talking about God. "Cataphatic" are those things we can positively affirm about him- e.g., God is trinity, God is benevolent, God is all-knowing, etc. "Apophatic" theology is oriented toward what God is not. St. John Damascene says, "God, then, is infinite and incomprehensible, and all that is comprehensible about him is his infinity and incomprehensibility. All that we can say cataphatically concerning God does not show forth his nature but the things that relate to his nature." Apophatic theology is important in clearing away misconceptions about God, otherwise we may give a false interpretation to those things we do know about him from revelation. Without a grounding in apophatic theology, we may be tempted to take the positive attributes about God that were revealed, and to "fill in the blanks" using human reasoning, creating a distorted man-made theology.

#19 D. W. Dickens

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Posted 14 July 2009 - 06:55 PM

cataphatic and apophatic...

The explainations given are true. In this particular context I was saying that making declarative statements about God (which many mistakenly believe to be the whole of the purpose of the Church) is only part of the life of the Church, in fact, alone such "teaching" is demonic.

Theology without practice is the theology of demons.

Yes, we bare witness to the teaching of the Church. This message board seeks to preserve and engage in discussion about some of the first and greatest teachers in the Church, but is regularly evidenced by the challenge of staying on that topic the Church bursts out in all directions. :)

#20 Rick H.

Rick H.

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Posted 14 July 2009 - 07:12 PM

I appreciate Bishop Zizioulas's writing on the apophatic approach in Being as Communion. In this section he concludes (with Maximus, Myst., Praef.) that God is beyond affirmation and negation and "therefore truth lies beyond the choice between affirmation and negation."

The Bishop also writes of apophatic theology:


The principal object of this theology is to remove the question of truth and knowledge from the domain of Greek theories of ontology in order to situate it within that of 'love' and communion. That apophatic theology founds itself on love is something so evident as to be the necessary key to its understanding and assessment.


Otherwise, it is much as Jennifer Anne has said above.




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