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Judging when doctrine or practice reflects or is a corruption of the Apostolic Faith


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#21 Rick H.

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Posted 10 June 2012 - 10:46 AM

How do we know? We take on the mind of Christ. And we take on the mind of the Fathers. In that way we will see the truth. It is not an analytical problem.



Honestly, in my experince there is a step that is left out in the above equation:

1.) Take on the mind of Christ
2.) Take on the mind of the Fathers
3.)
4.) Know the truth


Listen to people who claim to know the truth argue with the other people who claim to know the truth based on their understanding of the Fathers and their taking on of the mind of Christ . . . "no you are misunderstanding what the Fathers have said, no you are misunderstanding what the Fathers have said . . . no you are misunderstanding the context, no you are, ect."

#22 Owen Jones

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Posted 10 June 2012 - 04:13 PM

How do you teach a child to tie his shoe? Try explaining it to him and expect him to be able to do it. No, you tie his shoe for him while he observes, until he can get it right.

#23 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 11 June 2012 - 12:03 AM

3) Take up your cross

#24 Olga

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Posted 11 June 2012 - 12:30 PM

Listen to people who claim to know the truth argue with the other people who claim to know the truth based on their understanding of the Fathers and their taking on of the mind of Christ . . . "no you are misunderstanding what the Fathers have said, no you are misunderstanding what the Fathers have said . . . no you are misunderstanding the context, no you are, ect."


It bears repeating that a good many arguments and disagreements between Orthodox over doctrine can be reduced or eliminated simply by paying close attention to what is read, chanted and sung in church, and to the content of icons. A grounding in hymnography and iconography should be the starting point of understanding the faith, which then equips one to better discern what the Fathers have to say.

#25 Anna Stickles

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Posted 11 June 2012 - 01:20 PM

Honestly, in my experince there is a step that is left out in the above equation:

1.) Take on the mind of Christ
2.) Take on the mind of the Fathers
3.)
4.) Know the truth


Listen to people who claim to know the truth argue with the other people who claim to know the truth based on their understanding of the Fathers and their taking on of the mind of Christ . . . "no you are misunderstanding what the Fathers have said, no you are misunderstanding what the Fathers have said . . . no you are misunderstanding the context, no you are, ect."


Rick, this order is wrong.

1 and 2 are synonymous. To take on the mind of the Fathers is to take on the mind of Christ, but these certainly do not come first. St Gregory of Nazianzus is addressing exactly this in his orations.

So here is a question for everyone - What are the preconditions for taking on the mind of Christ?

Jesse hit the nail on the head, earlier. What St Gregory says in short is that we have to be, or at least be seriously on the path to becoming, saints in order to have, or at least be on the path to taking on, the mind or Christ.

Why do people disagree? Because they trust their own opinions. They think they have the mind of Christ and therefore think they understand what is being said. St Gregory opens his series of theological orations with a diagnoses of the problem. "I am to speak against persons who pride themselves on their eloquence; so, to begin with a text of Scripture, “Behold, I am against thee, O thou proud one," Jer. l. 31. not only in thy system of teaching, but also in thy hearing, and in thy tone of mind."

He goes on in his oration to delineate the specific symptoms of what this pride of mind looks like and then goes on to show what the proper "tone of mind" should look like. He specifically warns us to limit ourselves both as listeners and as theologians to stay within the limits of humility about our own knowledge and level of illumination. He gives practical guidelines about who should engage in theological discussion and under what conditions; who should be allowed in the conversation and who should stay out.

As he sums up in oration 28 "Last time we used theology to cleanse the theologian. We glanced at his character, his audience, the occasion and range of his theorizing. We saw his character should be undimmed, making for perception of light by light; that his audience should be serious minded, to ensure that the word shall be no sterile sowing in sterile ground; that the right occasion is when we own an inner stillness away from the outward whirl, avoiding all fitful checks of spirit; that the range should be that of our God-given capacity."

If we violate these principles - either as we attempt at theologizing, or as listeners who listen indiscriminately either to theologians who violate these principles, or under the wrong inner conditions within ourselves, we will find ourselves quite off the path toward finding truth.

#26 Owen Jones

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Posted 11 June 2012 - 02:04 PM

The consistent message in the OT, NT, and Fathers is obedience to God's Law. The spiritual import of God's law is made manifest in Christ. By becoming obedient, our passions no longer drive us, our faculties of perception are no longer distorted, our intellect begins to function normally, and we can see things as they really are. It is not an analytical problem to be solved.

#27 Anna Stickles

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Posted 11 June 2012 - 02:40 PM

Maybe a good place for this thread to go is to make a new list based on St Gregory's orations.

1. don't delight in profane babblings and "knowledge so called" or strife of words (Would this include delighting in modern commentators who themselves show no signs of being enlightened by the Spirit as a way of trying to compensate for our own lack?)

2. don't be obsessed with arguments as a way of showing off your knowledge and skill, or as a way of asserting your opinion

3. Be undergoing purification and have a certain amount of internal peace "It is when we are free from all external defilement or disturbance, and when that which rules within us is not confused with vexatious or erring images"

6. be willing to apply oneself to serious study, don't be a dilettante

7. have a humble and accurate grasp of your own degree of illumination and capacity and don't go beyond this "that the extent to which we may go is that to which we have ourselves advanced, or to which we are advancing" (This is the really hard one)

8. along with this have the patience and faith to live in ignorance, trusting in the practice of outward forms of religion till the Spirit gives enlightenment (see oration 28.2) (another hard one for those who trust in their minds)

9. remember God at all times, but only discuss theology in due season

10. be living according to the ascetic life of the Church rather then giving free rein to the passions (see list in 27.7)

Here is a start. Maybe others can add more.

then finally
....
"Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God"-in this we start to acquire the mind of Christ/mind of the Fathers, are able to "ascend the mount" to one degree or another and in this we go from truth to truth.

"The Orthodox soul is taught by grace to hold fast to the Lord and his most Holy Mother, and our spirit rejoices in the contemplation of God Whom we know. But we can only know God by the Holy Spirit, and the proud man who aspires to know the Creator with his intelligence is blind and stupid. With our minds we cannot even come to know how the sun is made; and if we beg God to tell us how He made the sun the answer rings clear in the soul: 'Humble thyself and thou shalt know not only the sun but the Creator of the sun.'" St Silouan the Athonite



#28 Rick H.

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Posted 11 June 2012 - 02:54 PM

The spiritual import of God's law is made manifest in Christ.


This just sounds so right.

So simple so right.

Actually, I think this is where I started many years ago when I first became a Christian. This is probably my greatest obstacle in Orthodoxy today, so much of what is on the table only serves to obscure and detract from this simple but crucial truth.

Contemplating this stops the circles and whirling straightway and brings focus/peace.

Hmm . . . again, in the end, the beginning.

#29 Sacha

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Posted 15 June 2012 - 05:48 AM

When you say that you see things differently you have touched on a core issue. Our ecclesiologies, our visions of what the Church is, are different. ...


Anna,

I have read and reread your post many times to make sure that I have truly attempted to connect your followup to what I had written before. And I must say that you only very tangentially touch upon the gist of what I had submitted prior and unfortunately you did not engage with the points I had made before. So I will try again in a more concise fashion:

The ecclesiology I espouse is most definitely one in which the church is the body of Christ and one in which communion is not mere symbol but actual participation in the living Christ. This is indeed mystical, as much as it is historical. However, this does not in any way necessitate that the church be already deemed perfect...This is the fundamental disagreement which I hope we can discuss further. I attempted to highlight Holy Scripture in my prior post and I will try again: consider the words of the Lord to the seven churches in the book of Revelation. Once again, one would be hard pressed to argue that He considered these churches to be already perfect as you imply. If that were so, why then would He speak so solemnly to 5 of the 7 churches, urging them to repent of their sin and remember their deeds of old? Why then would he warn them of the consequences of their disobedience if it was a foregone conclusion that they would be overcomers?

You seem to want to have you cake and eat it too in the sense that you allow for the possibility of apostasy within the ranks of the Orthodox, but then deterministically assume that the church will be indemnified at the judgment because she righteously cut off those who were deemed apostates. This begs the question: what of those within the church who have the authority to cut off communion with those deemed unworthy? Do they admit their own mistakes? Or will the mistakes always be those of others?

In his 2nd Oration, Gregory Nazianzen says this of the state of affairs in the 4th century: "For at no time, either now or in former days, amid the rise and fall of various developments, has there ever been such an abundance, as now exists among Christians, of disgrace and abuses of this kind. and, if it to say this current is beyond our powers, at any rate it is not the least important duty of religion to tesify the hatred and shame we feel for it."

Edited by Father David Moser, 15 June 2012 - 01:26 PM.
removed excessive quoted material





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