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Is living in itself the greatest service to God?


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#21 Brian Patrick Mitchell

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Posted 21 August 2012 - 01:52 PM

The I/thou in German personalism originates with Fredrich Heinrich Jacobi a hundred years before Buber. He doesn't get much credit for it nowadays because he was a conservative Christian defending Christian belief against the atheism of Spinoza.

Buber's understanding of I and thou is problematic for Christians because he understands the I and the thou as strangers — unrelated except by their encounter and unstructured in their relationship. This is not how we come into the world. It is not how Adam came into the world. We are born into structured relationships with others, dependent upon our parents and recognizing them as our source, our arche. The I/thou relationship is thus fundamentally archical, not anarchical.

Edited by Brian Patrick Mitchell, 21 August 2012 - 02:10 PM.


#22 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 21 August 2012 - 01:57 PM

It is also said that the demon entered Judas in the presence of Christ before he was to do what he was to do. Does this not imply clear God's will/ God's plan? Say Judas chose not to have the demon 'enter' him, or chose to struggle with his passion of greed, or simply ran away from it all, would he have performed a greater service to God?


It's the last part of this Jan that I would want to look at- "Say Judas chose not to have the demon 'enter' him, or chose to struggle with his passion of greed, or simply ran away from it all, would he have performed a greater service to God?"

Undoubtedly whenever a person resists and does not act out on what is sinful then he performs a greater service for God. So without any hesitation we can say that if Judas had not done what he did then he could have avoided the terrible results of his choice- which was to bring himself to ruin by hanging himself. Anyway- the Gospel and also our hymnography, for example during the Holy Week is quite clear about this 'angle' which condemns Judas for his choice and holds him up as an example of what we must try to avoid.

What you are getting at though I think is the question of how God's providence related to this betrayal. Note though that again in the Gospel it is made quite clear that the theme of betrayal extends far beyond Judas. In fact it extends to almost eveyone except Christ himself. For everyone runs away or denies Christ or actively condemns Him. Thus there is the suggestion here that we all are involved in this active betrayal of Christ on one level or another- we all participate in this in some way.

How though does Christ respond? As God He already knows what is to occur. He states this prophetic aspect of the betrayal in the Gospel. But through His providence, the betrayal and Cross is allowed, so that it becomes a passage way to His resurrection and through Him- to our resurrection.

In other words what is predestined is the ultimate triumph of life over death. However the paradox is that this will occur not through a human triumph over ones enemies but rather through Life overcoming death by submitting to death. This is the mystery of the Cross that is predestined to work through all that presently is fallen and sinful.

In Christ
-Fr Raphael

#23 Owen Jones

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Posted 21 August 2012 - 02:10 PM

in fact human freedom is rooted in nature and expressed through the person.

In Christ
-Fr Raphael


Beautiful!

Edited by Herman Blaydoe, 21 August 2012 - 02:38 PM.
fixed quote tag


#24 Owen Jones

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Posted 21 August 2012 - 02:19 PM

I don't know how freedom represents "infinity." Infinity is an abstraction required in mathematics. Not sure what it has to do with theology or anything spiritual. Also, concreteness is not the opposite of infinity per se but of the abstract. Abstractions are necessary to logic and rationality, but all abstractions have to be grounded in concreteness to have any validity. To say that true freedom also has to allow for the possibility of true and complete self annihilation can only mean in an atheistic, secular context, which, frankly, IMHO, means there is really no such thing as freedom. So true freedom comes from living according to one's naturally created purpose. It is both the cause and effect of living one's true destiny which is in God. It does not mean, in this context, that one has absolute freedom of will or anything else -- this is because of contingent existence. Human existence is not a fact, it is not an absolute, it is a contingency.

#25 Rick H.

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Posted 21 August 2012 - 02:21 PM

The "I and Thou" in German personalism originates with Fredrich Heinrich Jacobi a hundred years before Buber. He doesn't get much credit for it nowadays because he was a conservative Christian defending Christian belief against the atheism of Spinoza.



I hope you didn't think I was trying to correct you, but instead was attempting to draw a comparison between some of Buber's writing (much of which is unique to him) and that of Zizioulas. It is not all problematic for sure, lest what is the question behind the question in so many of threads is at issue here. Possibly some of Buber's writing (especially his fondness for word play) speaks to Father Raphael's questions (assuming his implications are correct)? In other words, we are a walking civil war when we do not either understand or participate in the being and communion that we see in parts of Buber's Zionist mysticism or Zizioulas's (still) fresh voice for Christian theology and ecclesiology.

Possibly, some of Zizioulas's writing is confusing and misunderstood when it is not remembered that underlying just about all of his writing is the view of the "authentic person" and the "authentic catholicity of the Church." Or, possibly this is clearly understood and to bring these two thoughts in tandem is resisted (as speaking to the dreaded question behind the question)?

Huh? :0)

#26 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 21 August 2012 - 02:29 PM

Not sure what you mean by this, Fr Raphael. This to me sounds like a question that can't be reconciled quite so easily. True freedom represents infinity, and nature is concrete, defined and therefore finite. True freedom would also allow for the possibility of true and complete self annihilation, a way out that is not an option in Christian thought. Therefore I can't see how it can be argued that we have free will in an absolute sense, so I can only consider free will in a relative sense.


But St Gregory of Nyssa says that human nature ultimately is not able to be defined. This in turn is rooted in how we are created according to the image and likeness of God, Who is not open to definition.

"True freedom represents infinity, and nature is concrete, defined and therefore finite."


I'm aware that this way of putting it is the mental framework surrounding Zizoulas' point. I also understand that fundamentally this point is about the freedom of human personality. But I don't agree that the human being by nature is at all oppositional in the way that he portrays this. This would go against the basic Patristic understanding of the human person and also of the relationship between Person and Nature in the Trinity that the Fathers insist is one of dynamic relationship- not of necessity. In other words- if nature is bound by necessity, then so too is person. This is basic.

In any case I think that Fr dn Patrick is probably right that the source of this oppositional idea is to be found in modern philosophy/theology (in modern times in the west theology has been profoundly influenced by philosophy) rather than Orthodox theology. This specifically from the sound of it probably relates to the philosophy of being which was (is still maybe) very popular in the west. I'm not certain but it seems to have overtones of existentialism in it, a philosophy which was hugely popular and influential during the inter War and post War years in the west. Anyway- the points it makes are the same- that external life by nature is a mute impersonal force. So the only choice open to us must come from the employment of our free personal will. If you look at this carefully though you will see that this is not at all the nature and person of Patristic understanding, since human nature is created with free will. And person in employing this will does so towards a certain goal in Christ.

In other words what we have in the Patristic understanding is not the modern idea of the person acting in so called freedom against mute nature (almost in protest) but rather of person finding itself through the recovery of its nature in Christ.

In Christ
-Fr Raphael

#27 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 21 August 2012 - 02:44 PM

Possibly, some of Zizioulas's writing is confusing and misunderstood when it is not remembered that underlying just about all of his writing is the view of the "authentic person" and the "authentic catholicity of the Church." Or, possibly this is clearly understood and to bring these two thoughts in tandem is resisted (as speaking to the dreaded question behind the question)?


Yes- this resonated hugely with a certain period in western philosophy, somewhat more in Europe than in N America. Partly it is a response to the trauma of the 20thc post WWI years and then immediately after WWII when there is a resurgence.

The question it raises though about the place of the person amidst external forces that seem completely unstoppable, is most proper. One of the best presentations of the personalist way of dealing with this is found in Vasily Grossman's novel about the battle of Stalingrad- Life & Fate- which in the very title sums up his attitude. It's a very moving response though and one which the Soviet censors responded to by telling Grossman that his novel wouldn't see the light of day for 200 years. (they seized his manuscripts- but one found its way to the west where the novel was translated and published).

In Christ
-Fr Raphael

#28 Jan Sunqvist

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Posted 21 August 2012 - 03:29 PM

It's the last part of this Jan that I would want to look at- "Say Judas chose not to have the demon 'enter' him, or chose to struggle with his passion of greed, or simply ran away from it all, would he have performed a greater service to God?"

Undoubtedly whenever a person resists and does not act out on what is sinful then he performs a greater service for God. So without any hesitation we can say that if Judas had not done what he did then he could have avoided the terrible results of his choice- which was to bring himself to ruin by hanging himself. Anyway- the Gospel and also our hymnography, for example during the Holy Week is quite clear about this 'angle' which condemns Judas for his choice and holds him up as an example of what we must try to avoid.



This still does not quite make sense. Why would a 'demon' need to enter Judas, if he completely of his own will chose to betray Christ? In this sense, one can say he was predestined to be tested by a demon and God in his foreknowledge knew the outcome. However, hypothetically speaking, how could have Christ performed the resurrection if Judas chose to fight the passion of greed? If Christ had then decided to go Himself and seek out his crucifiers, this makes no sense, it would be closer to suicide, and if he had simply been captured by them, it would imply that He had no foreknowledge that they are coming for him, and that he ought to 'hide', again which would seem closer to suicide.
Secondly the horror of this circumstance is that Judas, one single human succumbed to such destiny despite the fact that many if not most of us might have lost to the demon in a similar circumstance. We lose to demons on a daily basis. So where was God's mercy here? After all it was the feelings of dread and guilt that lead Judas to suicide. If God is all forgiving and Judas did seem to repent, it was Judas own inability to forgive himself, or rather accept such horrific fate and continue living. Why did God not in some merciful way prepare him for such an enormous situation and testing?

Also the words of Christ rebuking Peter for not seeing God's plan. What if hypothetically Peter thought his Master wrong, and somehow physically prevented the betrayal and crucifixion, would he have sinned? From an ordinary human perspective, he would not have sinned, he was just trying to save a life. Yet Christ called him on it with the harshest of words. The ways of God are mysterious.

#29 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 21 August 2012 - 04:25 PM

Well, like attracts like. Innocency does not lead to an evil choice. Only evil does. So as the Gospel indicates, Judas first harboured evil in his heart before getting to the point of actually betraying Christ. Was a demon involved in this? St Luke's Gospel says that Satan entered Judas (Lk. 22:3) but already in Jn 12:4-6 we see how Judas brooded over Christ's behaviour when the woman anointed Him for burial. Betrayal then was preceded by resentment and dishonesty; and of course the degree involved in this must have played a role. After all we can resent from misunderstanding but this can get to the point of contempt and hate if we are not careful. Then we open ourselves to something that is dark. And if we persist in this then even stronger forces of darkness can instill themselves in us. Perhaps this results at some point in us 'losing control'. But this just indicates that the evil forces which we have submitted to are of greater & greater force because we first attracted these forces by our disposition to the evil in the first place.

However, hypothetically speaking, how could have Christ performed the resurrection if Judas chose to fight the passion of greed? If Christ had then decided to go Himself and seek out his crucifiers, this makes no sense, it would be closer to suicide, and if he had simply been captured by them, it would imply that He had no foreknowledge that they are coming for him, and that he ought to 'hide', again which would seem closer to suicide.


I would say again that Judas was free to prevent the evil that came to him. There is no point or justice to our condemnation of him unless he was free. And such a free resistance or even just repentance as with Peter would have resulted in Judas remaining as a disciple.

However as to Christ's providence, He is aware of human evil and where it would go, ie towards hatred and resentment of God. He knew that since the Fall this was a fact of humanity. So he went out freely to meet this hatred via the Cross and Rsurrection. If it had not been Judas it would have been someone else. This is a sad but tragic fact.

Judas therefore was not the point but rather the redemption of all of mankind. And so Christ in His foreknowledge went forward towards all mankind through those, whoever they were, who had chosen hatred of God's ways.

In Christ
-Fr Raphael

#30 Jan Sunqvist

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Posted 21 August 2012 - 05:02 PM

There is no point or justice to our condemnation of him unless he was free.

However as to Christ's providence, He is aware of human evil and where it would go, ie towards hatred and resentment of God. He knew that since the Fall this was a fact of humanity. So he went out freely to meet this hatred via the Cross and Rsurrection. If it had not been Judas it would have been someone else. This is a sad but tragic fact.


In Christ
-Fr Raphael


I agree with what you write, and it all seems to fit rather nicely, until I put myself in Judas shoes. If it had not been Judas, then someone else, then why Judas and not someone else? In that sense, sure he is not the point, yet his destiny was that he, and not someone else should be pointed out for condemnation. So then why do we condemn?

On the one hand it is said that only God judges, yet Christian theology judges too. Earlier on, Fr Dcn Brian mentioned 'the damned'. Who are the 'damned'? Although I can't say with certainty that the 'damned' is only a metaphorical expression, I hope and pray there are no 'damned' in the end. It is one thing to say God is mysterious and we don't know why some people seem to be put through harder trials than others, but why then does theology not somehow reflect this sentiment.

For example, I just read this quote plastered all over social media today - "If you believe in a God for whom pregnancy-by-rape is "part of the plan", you should reeeeeally look into atheism.”

This was in response to a not so intelligent statement from a US politician that's been making the news, and I don't mean to get into political discussion or horribly off topic, but I do have to say if I was a woman that got pregnant through rape and now facing a tough decision, I would most likely be having very hard questions about the kind of theology that says only God knows our circumstances and only God really judges, yet the theology, Tradition and clergy may have something else to say. In that sense, how does the theology of free will fit in with this woman's choice, who through no fault of her own finds herself tested in this way. And from her point of view, it is not just 'well if not to her, it would have happened to someone else'...

#31 Brian Patrick Mitchell

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Posted 21 August 2012 - 05:09 PM

I hope you didn't think I was trying to correct you, but instead was attempting to draw a comparison between some of Buber's writing (much of which is unique to him) and that of Zizioulas. It is not all problematic for sure, lest what is the question behind the question in so many of threads is at issue here. Possibly some of Buber's writing (especially his fondness for word play) speaks to Father Raphael's questions (assuming his implications are correct)? In other words, we are a walking civil war when we do not either understand or participate in the being and communion that we see in parts of Buber's Zionist mysticism or Zizioulas's (still) fresh voice for Christian theology and ecclesiology.

Possibly, some of Zizioulas's writing is confusing and misunderstood when it is not remembered that underlying just about all of his writing is the view of the "authentic person" and the "authentic catholicity of the Church." Or, possibly this is clearly understood and to bring these two thoughts in tandem is resisted (as speaking to the dreaded question behind the question)?


I did wonder why you brought in Buber, and I wanted to make the point that Buber isn't as original as he is often thought (and perhaps pretended to be). I can't remember if Zizioulas credits Buber, but I know he doesn't credit Jacobi. (I mispelled his first name: It's Friedrich.) The problem with Zizioulas is that he philosophizes about spiritual things without the care of a philosopher to fully and clearly define his terms. For example, he describes the Trinity as "hierarchical" and relations between I-thous as "a-symmetric." In general, he tends toward a subordinationist understanding of the I-Thous of the Trinity, and he never squares the "a-symmetry" of human I-thous with the freedom and equality he attributes to them. This the point of my article on archy, which was written as a correction to Zizioulas.

We have to be careful about the notion of personal "authenticity." This is commonly used by the ideological Left, Jews especially, to insulate minorities from the moral and cultural values of others. The idea is that Jews, blacks, and Indians can't be expected to live by white, European, Christian norms because they are "authenticly" Jewish, black, and Indian, and expecting or requiring them to live by white, European, Christian norms is asking them to be something they are not. It's a dialectic for turning cultural differences into natural differences.

I can't help but suspect that Jan is attempting something similar when he asks if existence itself is service to God, as if we can lay aside the business of hitting or missing the mark and just be ourselves. I'm thinking of his past posts on homosexuality and of the struggle by gays to present their sexual orientation as a morally neutral aspect of their personal nature — just the way they are made by God, similar to the way Judas was made by God. Jan, if I'm wrong about this, please forgive me.

Edited by Brian Patrick Mitchell, 21 August 2012 - 05:59 PM.


#32 Rick H.

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Posted 21 August 2012 - 05:20 PM

I can't help but suspect that Jan is attempting something similar when he asks if existence itself is service to God, as if we can lay aside the business of hitting or missing the mark and just be ourselves.



Interesting that you would say that because, this is 'exactly' what I thought too when I read the intial post. But, to move this away from the personal side of life and make this less specific . . . other than just an idle curiosity, why would this be a topic of consideration if it was not to be used as a kind of justification for missing the mark with some sort of intention involved in missing the mark. I think that given enough time we can justifiy just about anything. Escapism works differently for different folks.

#33 Jan Sunqvist

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Posted 21 August 2012 - 05:58 PM

Of course justification of missing the mark is a big temptation.

However, I don't think it's a matter of either or, it's a matter of both. Both the fact that we are charged with responsibility and choice, and at the same time the fact that we live too, whether we hit or miss the mark, we are in God's Universe no matter what, even the afterlife we have no choice but to exist , and that too must in some way be serving God for having created everything out of nothing...

My original post was prompted by the thread 'Do monastics ever get lonely' and a quote that I saw Joseph Campbell (in an old video lecture) attribute to Buddha, where he speaks of 'joyful participation in the sorrows of the world'. In that sense it struck me to what extent some traditions like Zen and Advaita purely focus on 'being' without too much emphasis on 'morals', and the very opposite of Abrahamic traditions which are mainly focused on 'morals' the right and wrong etc. In that sense of including both, Buddhism does seem more of the 'middle' path. (Btw, I am not in any way trying to promote Buddhism or any other religion, please spare me the coming accusations). The sin of comparative religion.

#34 Brian Patrick Mitchell

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Posted 21 August 2012 - 06:07 PM

. . . other than just an idle curiosity, why would this be a topic of consideration if it was not to be used as a kind of justification for missing the mark with some sort of intention involved in missing the mark.


Good question. We can't say our existence itself is service to God, but we can say existence itself is good, and we can take some comfort in that. We just can't use that fact as an excuse to forget about hitting or missing the mark.

#35 Brian Patrick Mitchell

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Posted 21 August 2012 - 06:14 PM

My original post was prompted by the thread 'Do monastics ever get lonely' and a quote that I saw Joseph Campbell (in an old video lecture) attribute to Buddha, where he speaks of 'joyful participation in the sorrows of the world'. In that sense it struck me to what extent some traditions like Zen and Advaita purely focus on 'being' without too much emphasis on 'morals', and the very opposite of Abrahamic traditions which are mainly focused on 'morals' the right and wrong etc. In that sense of including both, Buddhism does seem more of the 'middle' path.


So that's it. I didn't think of Buddhism, but now I see what you mean. There's a lot of good in Buddhism, but its fatal flaw is that it does not provide a clear basis for the distinction of good and evil. It doesn't even attempt a clear basis, because that's not what Buddhism is about. Buddhism is about escape. Buddha himself says that: "All that I have taught is sorrow and release from sorrow." Not the Gospel of Jesus Christ. No, not the Good News.

#36 Father Stephanos

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Posted 22 August 2012 - 11:02 AM

I agree with what you write, and it all seems to fit rather nicely, until I put myself in Judas shoes. If it had not been Judas, then someone else, then why Judas and not someone else? In that sense, sure he is not the point, yet his destiny was that he, and not someone else should be pointed out for condemnation. So then why do we condemn?


As the Holy Evangelist John the Theologian tells us, Judas Iscariot was stealing from the monies that our Lord Jesus Christ was given; this was and is a great sin. Judas Iscariot was also murmuring against our Lord Jesus Christ when He allowed Himself to be anointed beforehand for His Holy Burial; this was and is a great sin. It was how Judas Iscariot lived his life and then how he betrayed our Lord, not just that he betrayed Him. Judas Iscariot arranged to betray our Lord to the Jewish Sanhedrin for thirty pieces of silver.

Later, our Lord Jesus Christ told him without forcing him to repent, “It would have been good for him if that man had not been born,” as a prophecy and a warning to the others and to Judas Iscariot not to do what he was about to do. In spite of this warning, Judas Iscariot still intended to go ahead with the betrayal. Satan then entered into Judas Iscariot because he allowed satan to enter into him. God did not choose Judas Iscariot to betray Him. As part of his sinful life, Judas Iscariot did it all by himself. The role was not necessary per se, but foretold of that it would happen.

Just as God’s prophecy through the Holy Prophet Jonas concerning the destruction of Nineveh did not occur as the inhabitants of Nineveh repented, so the prophesy concerning the betrayal of our Lord Jesus Christ did not have to occur as it did, if Judas Iscariot likewise repented; nor did anyone else then have to betray our Lord in such a manner. It was Judas Iscariot’s self-determination to go against our Lord; he did not have to do it. Judas Iscariot chose to do it. On top of all of this, Judas Iscariot did not ask our Lord to forgive him, but he went and hanged himself because of the person he had become through living his life in the sinful way he did.

I hope this helps!

With agape in our Lord Jesus Christ,
+ Father Stephanos

#37 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 22 August 2012 - 01:14 PM

Dear Fr Stephanos,

I think that what Jan is getting at -and it is a good question- is that our redemption since it occurred through the Cross, depended in a sense on Judas' betrayal. Without the betrayal there would not have been a crucifixion. So then the question is why is Judas still condemned if his betrayal is first of such beneficence to mankind in the long run; and second if it was inevitable according to Christ's foreknowledge?

All of your points about Judas' free will in this matter are I believe crucial. Christ's foreknowledge never determines what we do but rather is a foreknowledge of what we are going to do.

Beyond this however Christ's foreknowledge also involves a providential meeting of the divine will with what is human- even broken. In other words Christ's foreknowledge is never just an external knowledge about what is going to happen; what you or I are going to do. Rather His foreknowledge always involves His providential and active involvement in our redemption. In other words His foreknowledge and our redemption are always connected by His grace.

To come back to Judas' betrayal then: Christ knew that Judas would betray Him, He did not run from this but rather embraced it as what would lead to our redemption. Much more than Judas then was involved in this for what Christ actually took on was mankind's entire betrayal of God; if not Judas then someone else, and as the Gospel clearly shows many others were actively involved in the betrayal, and on every level also- some from fear, some from hate, some from jealousy.

In other words in order to understand Christ's redemption we have to move from the individual level of whoever betrayed Christ to the cosmic level that involves all of creation and mankind. The Passion is not just a human drama about Jesus as Pure Innocent in the face of Judas the betrayer. Rather it is the account of how Christ as the God-man encounters all that is broken in mankind and takes it upon Himself. What happens then is not individual in action or effect but rather cosmic from its genesis to its culmination.

In Christ
-Fr Raphael

#38 Father Stephanos

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Posted 22 August 2012 - 01:45 PM

Dear Fr Stephanos,

I think that what Jan is getting at -and it is a good question- is that our redemption since it occurred through the Cross, depended in a sense on Judas' betrayal. Without the betrayal there would not have been a crucifixion. So then the question is why is Judas still condemned if his betrayal is first of such beneficence to mankind in the long run; and second if it was inevitable according to Christ's foreknowledge?

All of your points about Judas' free will in this matter are I believe crucial. Christ's foreknowledge never determines what we do but rather is a foreknowledge of what we are going to do.

Beyond this however Christ's foreknowledge also involves a providential meeting of the divine will with what is human- even broken. In other words Christ's foreknowledge is never just an external knowledge about what is going to happen; what you or I are going to do. Rather His foreknowledge always involves His providential and active involvement in our redemption. In other words His foreknowledge and our redemption are always connected by His grace.

To come back to Judas' betrayal then: Christ knew that Judas would betray Him, He did not run from this but rather embraced it as what would lead to our redemption. Much more than Judas then was involved in this for what Christ actually took on was mankind's entire betrayal of God; if not Judas then someone else, and as the Gospel clearly shows many others were actively involved in the betrayal, and on every level also- some from fear, some from hate, some from jealousy.

In other words in order to understand Christ's redemption we have to move from the individual level of whoever betrayed Christ to the cosmic level that involves all of creation and mankind. The Passion is not just a human drama about Jesus as Pure Innocent in the face of Judas the betrayer. Rather it is the account of how Christ as the God-man encounters all that is broken in mankind and takes it upon Himself. What happens then is not individual in action or effect but rather cosmic from its genesis to its culmination.

In Christ
-Fr Raphael


Dear Father Raphael,

I do not have time to get into too much at this moment, but our Lord Jesus Christ did not have to be betrayed by Judas Iscariot or one of His other Disciples in order for Him to be crucified.

On one level, it was satan who was trying to get rid of our Lord Jesus Christ by having Him killed, since satan did not fully realize who our Lord Jesus Christ was and is; or else satan would have done everything he could have to prevent our Lord Jesus Christ from being crucified and dying and trampling the gates of Hades and leading the Righteous into Paradise and destroying death by His Death. Satan was looking for sinners to accomplish his scheme to have our Lord Jesus Christ killed, and satan happened to find Judas Iscariot and some others who were willing to participate in various aspects of his scheme without necesarily realizing the full physical and/or spiritual consequences of what they were doing.

With agape in our Lord Jesus Christ,
+ Father Stephanos

#39 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 22 August 2012 - 02:01 PM

Yes this is so. Without the element of human betrayal in its broadest sense we are not speaking of redemption in an Orthodox sense. As the hymnographic texts of Holy Week strongly suggest and as our homilies should strongly say: Judas in fact is all of us.

This isn't merely a dramatic or literary device though. It is quite literally true.

In Christ
-Fr Raphael

#40 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 22 August 2012 - 03:34 PM

Just because this is the way things happened, does not mean it is absolutely the only way it could have happened. If it hadn't been Judas, it would probably have been someone else. Maybe, without Judas to provide the positive identification, the mob might have grabbed Peter in the garden by mistake. Then Peter's 3X denial might have turned into a betrayal: "I'm not the guy you're looking for, that's Him over there!" At any rate, the narrative might have been different, but the result would no doubt have been the same. Judas was not a puppet on a string, if we accept the Orthodox understanding of how the events unfolded, nor was Pharoah in Moses' time. They willingly played their roles recorded in the heilsgeschichte, as did everyone else--good or bad, as do we today. "The devil made me do it!" is not now nor has it ever been a "valid" excuse, because we let him in in the first place.




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