In case any readers are wondering where I stand, this post pretty much sums up my thoughts, though Fr. Jacobse is much more polite than I am. I say throw the Sodomites out.
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Read that post from Fr. Hanse last night. The spot-on reply you posted last night says it all: these people are nothing other than pagan or unitarian pooftas. They are also dishonest. They have adopted people onto their group who have no knowledge of what the group is. I was signed up once for a group without consent and only found out about it when once I started getting posts from the group (in this case all benign as it was trying to save the Classics dept at the Royal Holloway University in London).
I couldn’t get past the initial digs at those who are concerned about global warming. (The claim that in the 1970s there was concern about a coming ‘Ice Age’ is often repeated by those attempting to discredit the science of global warming, but a review of the literature proves there was no such thing.)
I find the priest Johannes Jacobse too often mixes his ultra-conservative politics with religious beliefs. It undermines both what he has to say and his credibility.
If the topic is about Inga Leonova’s Facebook group which was exposed in some posts on ocatruth.com several weeks ago (and other poseurs who pretend homosexual activity is a valid choice for Orthodox Christians), then I think they should be called to repentance while making explicit the Church’s teaching. (Recent pastoral letters from Metropolitan Jonah and Bishop Matthias are very good starts.) If they do not heed a call to repentance they need to be excommunicated. Publicly.
That this situation has been allowed to get this far is very, very sad. That at least one bishop in the OCA — a bishop! — has apparently countenanced this outrageous behaviour is appalling. I hope it gets rectified quickly.
This idea of justifying obviously condemned sin and thinking it is a good thing reminds me of a line out of Stephen King’s book “Needful Things”
“It’s a disease that looks like a cure.”
I couldn’t get past the initial digs at those who are concerned about global warming.
Then you need to learn a little intellectual patience. Even if Fr Jacobse’s initial digs were misguided, that does not take away any validity that his main points may have.
I can remember when the apprehension about the prospect of a new ice age was current among progressive, counter-cultural youth (back when I was among them). The fact that a review of the scientific literature doesn’t show any serious concern does not mean that such concern did not exist as a cultural phenomenon in the progressive circles that Father is talking about. In any case, the existence of intellectual fads among progressives surely cannot be denied. And Father did note that [n]one of these movements should be taken lightly of course but that doesn’t disqualify them as fads. The only thing I would say to Fr Jacobse is that conservatives are not immune from intellectual fads and fancies either. It’s a failing of those who take themselves more seriously as intellectuals than they deserve, and it runs across the political spectrum.
I say throw the Sodomites out.
I say throw the unrepenting Sodomites out. :-) And let the struggling ones stay where they are…
My take on the matter..
There are indications that Fr. John Behr is a member of this Facebook page?! That is the claim of Fr. Johannes Jacobse in this article: http://www.aoiusa.org/blog/2011/07/same-sex-marriage-and-the-revolt-against-metropolitan-jonah/#comment-20710 and there’s talk of it on the Facebook page. Depending what his motives are this is a bad sign.
It’s what I was referring to above about being put on groups by my friends that I knew nothing about. Fr. Behr has never posted on that group’s page, so his presence there seems to be something of no significance.
“(The claim that in the 1970s there was concern about a coming ‘Ice Age’ is often repeated by those attempting to discredit the science of global warming, but a review of the literature proves there was no such thing.)”
Science and fad are often mingled and confused. My school textbooks and National Geographic issues from the 70′s verify his remarks about GW. When was the last time you heard about the fads….er…..I mean science of the ozone layer, acid rain, overpopulation (you still hear a bit of this one from elites) and global cooling? What will we do when they come out with “science” that will conveniently make homosexuality to be of a genetic cause?
From what I can see, Global Warming doctrine has reached religious proportions
I had hoped my comments would be allowed to stand so as to avoid having comments go off-topic, but I feel compelled to correct some misinformation here.
I think Orthodox Christianity is inherently more concerned about conserving that which our Creator has given us than is the case with Western Christianity in general and is thus naturally more sympathetic towards ecological issues than Protestant Christianity and Papal Christianity. Western Christianity seems more about dominion over the environment. Orthodox Christianity seems more attuned towards viewing man as a part of Creation. Perhaps this is because, as some have observed, the fundamental divide in Western Christianity is between the natural and supernatural whereas in Orthodox Christianity the fundamental divide is between the Uncreated and the created.
Fortunately, there seems to be some ‘waking up’ amongst Western Christians about the importance of conservation. I would like to think Orthodox Christians would provide a good witness to them.
I don’t know about National Geographic, but my school textbooks in the 1970s did not containing anything about a coming Ice Age. If you’d like me to do some digging, I ought to be able to find the survey or two of scientific literature of climate studies published in the 1970s which demonstrates there was no scientific consensus of a coming Ice Age. It might have been pushed in ‘popular science’, but I don’t recall it.
I still see articles about the ozone layer, but the elimination of CFCs has greatly slowed ozone depletion. That, plus the fact that ozone depletion has been subsumed into the global warming issue has reduced the visibility of the issue.
Acid rain (which has been known to be a result of air pollution since the 1850s) has been reduced enormously in the United States by large reductions in emissions of sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxides. This has reduced the quantity and severity of acid rain in the United States and resulted in less discussion of the topic. Acid rain remains an enormous problem in Russia and China, but most people in the United States don’t care about those places.
The people worrying about overpopulation have become less noticeable because, in much of the world, the population is actually decreasing, the world’s population growth is slowing dramatically, and current projections are that it will level off and maybe even decline, possibly never reaching ten billion.
I suspect if it can be established scientifically that homosexuality has a genetic cause, there will be enormous pressure to screen for it as a ‘birth defect’ and to abort the ‘defective’ babies. (I find it curious that pro-homosexuals attempt to argue that homosexuality might be genetically-based for this reason.)
The Christianity of the Fathers was never anti-science. The Fathers embraced science. Most of the best scientists through history have been Christians or, at least, theists (albeit largely heterodox for historical reasons). To reject science is not only to reject the logos, the rationality behind the Cosmos (remember, the term ‘cosmos’ implies order), but it is the way towards fundamentalism and ghettoism — a way towards being irrelevant in the world. May the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit preserve us from such!
Thanks for your comments. I will not derail the thread beyond this comment.
I’m now Orthodox. I recycle, and support conservation and environmental responsibility. What I oppose is that man is blamed, with little scientific demonstration, for all climate change. Climate change can be shown for many centuries before our modern pollutants. Ice melting in the south Arctic is always discussed without mentioning the ice thickening in central areas. This has become religious for many environmentalists and scientists who dissagree are treated like heretics.
Some things are also due to interpretation of data. If trends that are measured during certain periods continued for decades or centuries, of course we would end up with an ice-age or massive ice melt. But things cycle back and the snapshot of the period becomes just a financial and emotional crying of wolf rather than a fulfilled doomsday scenario. It’s easy to cover and say that we stopped using that spray deoderant in the eighties so we saved the earth from that particular doom. But there’s always a new one around the corner.
As for genetic cause of homosexuality this will allow them to blame nature for their condition instead of person.
Yes, throw the UNREPENTANT sodomites out. I happen to know a few struggling Christians who bear the cross of same-sex attraction. They are good men, and I am proud to call them friends.
If a genetic cause for homosexuality were to be found, (how) would it affect the Orthodox position?
This excerpt from a conversation from the Facebook group stood out to me as it purports to appeal to theology and anthropology, and their connectedness. Anyone care to comment as to the Orthodox theologically response to this?
- – - – -
“Joseph Clarke: …. I suspect many people are scared of the specter of moral relativism. They’re afraid that if same-sex relationships are accepted as normative for gay people and placed on an equal footing with opposite-sex relationships, the Church’s authority to distinguish right from wrong will be permanently impaired.
“I don’t agree with that view, but I wonder whether it’s necessary for us to go that far. What if we concede that homosexuality is “less than the ideal”? Will most Orthodox Christians really conclude that it’s better to launch gay Christians into a never-ending cycle of “falls” and repentance — effectively to encourage promiscuity and self-loathing at the same time — than to accept the formation of stable, committed, loving relationships? I’m sure many do hold this view today, but eventually it is going to change…
“Haralambos Ventis I hear you, Joseph, but I am afraid that any concession to the effect that homosexuality is “less than the ideal,” although wisely modest, will not have an impact, end of the day, because it doesn’t compel conservatives to reconsider in terms of, say, demonstrated prior error. Cultural relativism is definitely a concern, and I believe that I convey the general sentiment of everyone here in saying that sincere Christians challenging the negative Chrurch stereotype of homosexuality are not moral relativists. It could be argued, on the other hand, that while not every lifestyle is acceptable from an Orthodox viewpoint, homoexual orientation is not a lifestyle but an intrinsic aspect of one’s being and so must be accommodated as such; for otherwise, a huge chunk of God’s deliberate creation is forced out of the Church, unless forced to live on false premises. I’d say that a false anthropology may wel cast serious doubt on our theology as well: if shown that we’re functioning with an incomplete or twisted view of the human race, what guarantees have we got that we “got things right” in regards to God? Theology and anthropology stand or fall together, and this tenet must begin to make inroads in the Church’s collective mindset. Anything less will not do, I am afraid.
“Joseph Clarke – ”If shown that we’re functioning with an incomplete or twisted view of the human race, what guarantees have we got that we ‘got things right’ in regards to God?”
“I think many people on the other “side” of this discussion are currently paralyzed by exactly that fear, Haralambos. The question is: if theology and anthropology are connected, as you say (and I agree), how is it possible to mend the latter without jeopardizing the former?
“Haralambos Ventis – Well, my response would be that our faith (the whole set, comprised of theology & anthropology alike) is thoroughly apophatic, i.e. inexhaustible and by necessity always incomplete. If it’s taken Orthodox Christians hundreds of years to progressively formulate our perception of God, while still insisting on the partial (if real) character of it, we should likewise explore anthropology with an open mind and think of our understanding of it as at present incomplete and subject to revision, where necessary. The key words here are, apophaticism and eschatology, the latter pointing to the refreshment of history, culture, and even biology, under the guiding hand of the Holy Spirit.”
- – - – -
“It could be argued, on the other hand, that while not every lifestyle is acceptable from an Orthodox viewpoint, homoexual orientation is not a lifestyle but an intrinsic aspect of one’s being and so must be accommodated as such;”
Why do people today insist on making their sexual desires their defining characteristics. I could be wrong here, but I don’t believe it is even correct to say that one’s normal (heterosexual) orientation is an “intrinsic aspect of one’s being.” There’s more to life than sex.
“Well, my response would be that our faith (the whole set, comprised of theology & anthropology alike) is thoroughly apophatic, i.e. inexhaustible and by necessity always incomplete. If it’s taken Orthodox Christians hundreds of years to progressively formulate our perception of God, while still insisting on the partial (if real) character of it, we should likewise explore anthropology with an open mind and think of our understanding of it as at present incomplete and subject to revision, where necessary. The key words here are, apophaticism and eschatology, the latter pointing to the refreshment of history, culture, and even biology, under the guiding hand of the Holy Spirit.”
Is man ineffible? We Orthodox take an apophatic approach to theology because God is ineffible. It makes no sense to talk about an apophatic approach to anthropology unless man is also ineffible. That would put man on the same level as God.
Isn’t the whole idea of dialoguing just a ruse to get the Church to approve of the gay lifestyle? Of course if that happens, the slippery slope begins. Why not affirm the transsexual, the proponents of “open” marriage, polygamy? The possiblities are endless. Once all these fringe groups are affirmed, we can speak of the “Christian” gay community with pride, the “Christian” transsexual community with compassion, the “Christian” open marriage community with understanding, the “Christian” strippers movement with support. Like I said, endless possibilities.
Darlene, the “possibilities” you propose are based on the assumption of agreement or consent. Dialogue does not need to entail such.
I recall from church history that many a holy Saint held prolonged and involved dialogues with those who confessed unorthodox positions. I should add that much good came out of those engagements, the fruit of which we now consider the very cornerstones of Orthodox faith and theology.
It is my conviction that we likewise must articulate the Christian faith against the challenges that arise in our time. This is not entirely and always a purely theological task, as in this case the pastoral approach we take is equally important.
Right. I think the apophatic approach as used here by the Facebook commenter is a convenient construct to advocate change and the rejection of established tradition etc. Apophatic theology does not mean “open knowledge” or “open to revision” but rather signifies that which is beyond knowledge and that which is unknowable by means of common methods of understanding (i.e. by reason and intellect), and hence it is also called the “negative” theological approach. Here the commenter wants to re-interpret it to use it to positively establish knowledge. In short, it amounts to theological non-sense.
As to “there’s more to life than sex” – I agree with you, but it is not always a reference to sex or sexual desires that is being made. One should not overlook how much gender plays a role in our self identity and hence the deep impact this has on those who struggle gender related issues.
I happen to know a few struggling Christians who bear the cross of same-sex attraction. They are good men, and I am proud to call them friends.
Well, now… that gives a whole new meaning to the concept of “gay pride”… doesn’t it? ;-)
It would confirm the Orthodox position on original sin (ie, that it consists primarily in the corruption of our nature by the fall, and not so much in inherited guilt [ which would be the Western, Anselmian view ]).
Jeremy, I do think there’s an ineffibility to human nature, namely our spirit/soul. But that is not to make us equal with God, there’s some false logic you are using there. :)
From what I have learnt, there are a number of issues in the lines of reasoning the you quoted. Jeremy has mentioned a couple of them. This next quote for example speaks directly to a major problem: “If it’s taken Orthodox Christians hundreds of years to progressively formulate our perception of God,” This is used to imply a false point in that refining the definitions and theological language about God does not mean changing the understand of who God is. The Apostles and Fathers have all been clear on who God is and those who were not imported foreign opinions into the understanding of God. Thus, also the understanding of anthropology has also been clear from the beginning and the witness of the desert Fathers is a clear testament to this. This premise also underlies much in the way of academic theology, especially that influenced by non-Orthodox theological thinking. That which was written by the Apostles and Fathers about homosexuality was as true then as it is now and not something merely cultural nor poorly understood. Surely the Fathers would have had a number of men, and women, who had exactly the same issues then as today, unless one wants to prove the point that homosexual behaviour is largely socially developed from natural desires that all have to some degree. To think that the divinely inspired Apostles and Fathers would have spoken in error on this point and not understood the nature of man in really a denial of the existence of God and that He is actively involved in His creation.
Then following Jeremy there is the whole understanding of sexuality and ascesis. Monks are not men with no sexual drive but those who want to dedicate their lives completely to God and they learn to control their desires and transform them to a pure desire for God. This is required of all. Sexual desire is not something that needs fulfilling but transforming to the love of God. Even married couples are not to let their sexual desires run uncontrolled among themselves but to be maintained for procreation and only at certain times. If one’s partner dies the expectation is to remain unmarried and chaste and to remarry although permitted is consisted less than ideal, even though St Paul encourages it for younger women to prevent worse things happening.
If the problem is sexual desire then whether it is fulfilled with a man or woman is irrelevant to the state of desire. That a man may not be attracted to women only shows that love is not all about desire and attraction but commitment, care and giving of oneself.
Being effeminate is something of which the Fathers don’t approve strongly because it leads to an over pandering of the body, something even not admired in women. Yes, one may struggle with this tendency but it should not be nurtured any more than aggressive masculinity.
Next, there are all the iconic elements of marriage and its realisation of deification, the union of God and man or of Christ and the Church. This requires the male and female images to be properly shown forth else one is showing God with God, Christ with Christ or man with man, Church with Church thus distorting the mystery and leaving the pair apart from the path to deification. Certain things, such as a male priesthood, are done for iconic reasons to show forth a mystery pointing to our union with God in its true manner and not merely due to considering human skills or desires.
Finally God knows who we are and all our weaknesses and He would not have inspired the Apostles to say or do anything other than what was needed for our deification.
A picture’s worth a thousand words… (Somehing to go with the over-all theme…)
I am not a scientist in the realm of climate. If global warming is true, I do not know it and I am not in a position to judge one way or another. I generally distrust media conservative or liberal when it comes to precise questions in science and religion as they are not reliable reporters. That is neither here nor there. What Fr. J reportsis by and large true in terms of fads though, as readers of the 70′s book the Population Bomb can confirm. in any case, the topic is one that isn’t germane.
That goes without saying. I know many struggling fornicators who fornicate in their hearts but not in deed. I have no quarrel with them. I do have a beef with people who say that homosexual behavior gets a moral and theological pass while fornication, adultery and other secual sins don’t.
Well first, no genetic cause has been found, even though theyy’ve tried and tried to find one.
2nd Most Queer Theorists (yes, there is such a field) deny and argue against it being genetic. The reason is simple. If there is a biological difference, then nations can enact discriminatory laws based on a real biological difference, sucha s abortion for infants carrying the genetic make up.
3rd, most genetic markers are dispositions, such as with alcoholism. They do not direclty cause in most cases a behavior.
4th, but even if genetic that is a descriptive and scientific matter,not an ethical and prescriptive matter.
5th even if genetic, this doesn’t ge tus to beng morally benign. Other dispositions are verifiably genetic yet judged both in morality and law to be unethical. So we would need some further argument to get from it being genetic to it being ethically benign.
Jeremy and Apophatic, please do not post comments from the other site here. If people wish to see it , they can go there and read the comments.
To belabor a point already well made, a biological cause can easily be viewed as a disease that could be cured with modern medicine (or worse, again as mentioned, killed before it happens). More realistically for our culture — or so I’d like to think, homosexuality could become treated like depression or ADHD.
So, you’re saying we should allow other sexual sins too?!? ;)
You make some great points. However, I do not follow you on the non-development of our theological and anthropological understandings. It took several centuries to clarify and define Trinitarian dogma and Christology, for instance. Furthermore, I don’t see it to be a question as to *who* God is – His identity remains the same, nor does it appear the FB commenter speaks of switching God for another – so much as how our understanding of God has and does change over time (God remains the same, we do not). So in short, I fail to see your point on this matter.
PR, I am with you on the genetic issue. If it were found, it wouldn’t make much difference for the Orthodox position.
What I mean in terms of development of theological understandings is that St Paul was perfectly clear in understanding of the theology of the Trinity and of Christ, else the sublime theology he expresses would not have been possible, so also was St John the Theologian. The understandings of St Irenaeus of Lyons, St Cyprian of Carthage, St Nicholas of Myra, St Cyril of Jerusalem, Sts Athanasius and Cyril of Alexandria, were all similar. So that each would have been able to see and reject the various heresies that arose at various later times, even if one of them was prominent in his particular time. I don’t believe that the later Fathers have a better understanding of the Trinity nor Christology than St Paul or St Irenaeus. Neither, I do think that the Fathers, while each needing to learn it from earlier Fathers, were trying to develop an understanding of the Trinity or Christ but to defend a received understanding from false opinions, i.e. heresy. That theology appears to develop over centuries is more the development of the various heresies over the centuries not the Fathers’ understanding of the Trinity or Christology.
To sum up, I think that our understanding of God, that is found preserved in the Holy Tradition from the Apostles, has not changed over the centuries. I am not making the point from God remaining the same from His perspective, which all agree, but that the Fathers’ perspective has not changed over time either, except refining expression and, even so, the Creed, the expression of the Trinity and Christ, has remained unchanged from the Second Ecumenical Council.
Also what is meant that God remains the same and we do not? This is true for each individual person as they grow, it is true for even communities and nations but in terms of our nature or as Church then this is not true else Christ’s taking on of human nature would not be able to save us because we are now a different nature needing a different Church.
Fr. Patrick, I suppose what you call the “refining of expression” is what I consider to be a development, and an absolutely necessary development as evidenced for example by the existence and affirmation of the N-C creed. I understand God’s timeless, unchanging and uncreated self revelation to take place in time and space, the created realm subject to contingency and change.
A theology that has found an expression with greater precision and refinement, is an improved theology (and thus also a changed theology, changed in a non-absolute sense), developed to meet a particular challenge or occassion.
I agree with you that our nature remains the same, it is however the understanding of our nature that I question as being static. This is not to say the Fathers were wrong, but that our understanding has (or, at least, can be) over time refined or broadened – for various reasons, such as doctrinal disputes, or cultural and pastoral economies.
That might be true if homoousia for example were a cataphatic term. Is it? I don’t think so.
The mental ‘breakthrough’ that helped me understand the idea that doctrine does not (should not) develop was the First Ecumenical Synod. Even before any definitions were formulated, the bishops reacted with horror when they heard the teaching of Arius, many covering their ears so as to not hear what they regarded as blasphemy.
The use of ὁμοούσιον (homousion) was not seen as a change or development by the Fathers of Nicaea, but as a rejection of an innovation, a teaching not of that which was delivered once and for all to the saints (Jude 3), which was foreign to Holy Tradition (1 Corinthians 15:3 and elsewhere).
I don’t think it correct to see this as ‘an expression with greater precision’, let alone ‘an improved theology’ or ‘changed theology’.
Being able to see the Ecumenical Synods as re-presenting the faith (‘following the Holy Fathers …) which was delivered once and for all to the saints, excluding innovations (which arose when human-based reasoning — philosophy, especially — tried to explain the mysteries of the Faith, was for me a major part of developing an Orthodox mindset.
Perry, the development of working out a more precise expression and understanding as to what is apophatic and what is cataphatic – it is this change to which I am referring, not the apophatic aspect of the homoousia.
Fr. John Whiteford has a couple of very good blog posts which address the infamous FB group, as well as the whole same gender attraction. It can be found at http://www.frjohn.blogspot.com
Thomas, I am not referring to change or development in an absolute sense, but as to a progression, growth and maturity which is a true and real change nevertheless (albeit true to what it surpasses in a greater refinement of understanding and expression). The child matured in age to an adult has remained in an absolute sense the self same person – but yet this person has undergone real and substantial change. In a meaningful and substantial way a full color photograph is a more precise depiction than a black and white photograph of the same subject, while yet we hold that both photographs in their own mode of expression faithfully and accurately represent the self same subject and not something entirely different.
Athanasia, that is an incorrect link, the correct one is http://fatherjohn.blogspot.com/
I am familiar with the idea that the Church, over time, experiences ‘a progression, growth and maturity’ — and I am very sceptical of it. I think it the product of a modern view of Progress (the capitalisation is deliberate) which arose in the West in the 17th/18th centuries and pinnacled around the turn of the 20th century. It assumes ‘modern’ man knows more and knows better than those of earlier generations. It is the mentality of John Henry Newman (and many others). And I think it ought to be foreign to Orthodox thinking.
The experience of union with God — θέωσις — is fundamentally the same. What St Paul or St John the Theologian experienced is no different than what Elder Paisios experienced. Obviously, they may describe it differently, in terms appropriate for the times in which they live — but there is no progression.
Of course, once a particular heresy has arisen and the Church has rejected it (using language appropriate for the times), there is no need for the Church to repeatedly consider it in her synods. (Subsequent Fathers might adopt new terminology to reject old heresies if/when they return.) I don’t see this as a ‘refinement of understanding’ or a refinement in expression, but as simply an affirmation of that which the Church has always held.
I can’t find my copy of The Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church :-( — but I believe it is there where Lossky insists that the only time the Church puts forth a definition of faith is when it is necessary to preserve the Faith the Church has always held, particularly when a heresy arises which would jeopardise and deny the possibility of man’s union with God. (Arianism being an obvious example: if the Lord Jesus Christ were not ὁμοούσιους with God the Father and with man, there would be no way for man to become united with God.)
I certainly don’t deny that a specific person — you, me, and everyone else — matures over time, that when a child we thought and behaved as a child, but when we became adults we put away childish things, but I think it incorrect and possibly even dangerous to attempt to apply personal experiences to the Church. The Body of Christ is not subject to the changes a specific person experiences over time. (An obvious example: as we age, we decay — don’t I know it! — but the Church will ever remain the same.)
I think that we have found the Christian anthropology once and for all in the book of Genesis. How can our understanding of the creation of Adam and Eve change in such a way as to accommodate homosexuality as an “an intrinsic aspect of … a huge chunk of God’s deliberate creation”? There was no room for homosexuality in Adam and Eve, not even after their fall, simply because they were only two and not of the same sex.
I do not think that theology affects anthropology or vice versa. There is no resemblance between God and creation.
By reason of the Incarnation your position as to the (non)relation between theology and anthropology is wholly untenable.
I agree with you that theosis doesn’t change inasmuch as the object and goal of theosis, God, doesn’t change. But I am referring to the change we undergo in a particular time and place in history, constituting a development of our understanding and our awareness, which in each time and place may (when this change is encountered) reflect the multi-splendored Light from a different angle according to our capacity to perceive. Such a change does not entail the change of modern progressives for whom change means an absolutely quantitave measure, constituting a radical break from previous revelation and dogma.
Speaking of Lossky, he expresses true change in relation to theosis very well when he writes, “..the life of grace is an increasing progress in knowledge, a growing experience of the divine light.” (p 219 “Mystical Theology”). He goes on to speak of change in the context of Tabor, “Christ underwent no change at that moment, even in his human nature, but a change occured in the awareness of the apostles” (p. 223, ibid).
The deposit of faith needs to be appropriated by each in their given time, progressing in knowledge, providing a reasonable account of our faith amidst contemporary challenges, while remaining faithful to what has been traditioned. Far from simply dismissing challenges and problems (for we see no such in the Fathers), the reasonable account amounts to a real wrestling with the issues as they arise.
cont’d.. In the process of this “wrestling” with issues, we will come to better understand not only error but truth itself.
The Incarnation shows to me the opposite. If God, in order for a relation between man and the uncreated to be established, had to assume the human nature and unite the two natures in one of His hypostases and if, although God and the only source of theology, He had also to become Himself a theologian so as to reveal Himself to humanity and make humanity capable of receiving that revelation that means that there is a huge ontological chasm that separates God and man. Where exactly can you see a relation between God and creation apart from that coming from the grace of God?
But I think that I haven’t understood what you are claiming. Can you give us an example coming from the history of the Church so far where Christians’ understanding of anthropology improved and that resulted in a change of their theology or vice versa? How did the homoousion, for instance, (if we grant that it was a development of our understanding of the Triune God), affect the anthropology?
See what Fr. Romanidis writes: “The Fathers…consistently maintained the position that there is no similarity whatsoever between the uncreated and the created and that “It is impossible to express God and that it is even more impossible to conceive Him.”
The quote from Lossky refers to the spiritual growth of a person, not to a progressive development in understanding of God by the Church as a whole.
Perhaps I’m mis-reading you, but I’m reading you as saying 21st century Christians have a more developed understanding of God than the Christians of the first century. That is what I am opposing. I absolutely reject the notion that the Church experiences ‘progression’ or ‘growth’ in her understanding of the Holy Trinity.
I think what Apophatically Speaking may be saying is that as culture changes and “new” heresies arise there is a continual development in theology to express what has been said before in the current language and to rediscover for ourselves what the father’s knew and have been telling us all along, but which we cannot always fully understand until it is clarified for us by the theologians and saints of today. This is means that we, as the Church here on earth in the present, do really progress as we come to better understand the truth that has been passed down to us. I’m imagining society as being a fast treadmill. It takes a lot of running (developing dogma) in order to stay in the same place (the true faith).
I agree with your perception of what Apophatically Speaking is suggesting — and I strongly disagree with it.
I would insist there is no development in theology. The same theology may be re-presented to differing cultures (of both time and place) using culturally appropriate language, but there is no development in understanding by ‘the Church here on earth in the present’.
There is no ‘deposit of faith’ from which ‘theologians’ can ‘mine’ to arrive at new truths or better understanding by the application of fallen ratiocination. That is one of the pernicious errors of Papal Christianity which they have used to invent new beliefs — beliefs never held by those who adhere to that which has been believed everywhere, always, and by all.
Back to dealing directly w/ the issue of accepting homosexual behavior, here’s a great general response made by Hieromonk Irenaeus over at Monachos towards the bottom of page 4: http://www.monachos.net/forum/showthread.php?8601-A-sad-and-dangerous-movement-within-the-Church&p=113399#post113399
I in no wise have denied the ontological chasm which is between God and the created order, how you have come to this conclusion is beyond me.
I can cite you example after example, but it won’t make a difference to you as we don’t agree on what constitutes improvement (I suspect we are also working on different definitions of theology). You look at the Incarnation and you see a chasm (which I don’t deny), but the Fathers have made it clear that they see more, namely the union of God and man, the Theanthropos.
Yes Lossky refers to persons, precisely my point – the Church is constituted of persons whose knowledge of and union with God in grace and over time, progresses. I am bringing to the foreground the true synergy, the working together with God, that revelation requires. This is for the Church, the participants and receivers, a process over time of which we now have the benefit of nearly 2000 years of history. I am not thereby diminishing the transcendence of God, nor the “objectivity” of the content of revelation, nor the constancy of revealed truth and the rule of faith.
I think we can agree that the object (or rather the subject) of theology proper, the Trinity in Its transcendence, does not change. As such we do not (indeed can not) know the Trinity better than the Apostles. But we have the benefit of having 2000 years of Church history during which the Church developed new expressions of the same truth. It is to this development and progression to which I refer. Again I will cite Lossky and hopefully it will clarify my position:
“…the rule of faith, from which nothing can be cut off, can be increased by receiving, to the extent that may be necessary, new expressions of revealed Truth, formulated by the Church. The ensemble of the dogmas, that the Church possesses and transmits, is not a body constituted once and for all, neither has it the incomplete character of a doctrine ‘in process of becoming’” (p. 21, Meaning of Icons)
Exactly, well put, thank you! You must have been reading Lossky as well:
“Always confronted with new difficulties to overcome, with new obstacles of thought to remove, the Church will always have to defend her dogmas. Her theologians will have the constant task of expounding and interpreting them anew according to the intellectuals demands of the milieu or the epoch. In critical moments of the struggle for the integrity of the faith, the Church will have to proclaim new dogmatic definitions, which will mark new stages in this struggle..” (p 20, Meaning of Icons)
If you are to try to justify homosexuality on account of the incarnation and the union of the divine and the human nature I wonder whether you are going to claim that homosexuality is not something human but something divine as well.
I am so sorry you thought I was trying to justify homosexuality in any way. Far from it. If there is anything I advocate it is a well reasoned defense of the faith by means of engaging with the issues that face us today, drawing from the depth of Orthodox theology and praxis, instead of a mere dismissal.
The Contempt Theme.
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