A Paschal Meditation

April 3, 2010

“An awesome and marvelous mystery today is coming to pass. The Incorporeal One is being held; the One, freeing Adam from the curse is bound; He Who tries the inner hearts and thoughts of man , is unjustly tried; He Who sealed the abyss is shut up in prison. He stands before Pilate, before Whom the Powers of Heaven stand with trembling. The Fashioner is smitten by the hand of the fashioned; the Judge of the living and the dead is condemned to the Cross; the Despoiler of Hades is shut up in a Tomb; O forebearing Lord, compassionately enduring all things and saving all from the curse, glory to Your.”

When You the Redeemer of all, were placed in a new tomb for us all, Hades, the respecter of none, crouhed when he saw You. The bars were broken, the gates were shattered, the graves were opened, and the dead arose. Then Adam, gratefully rejoicing, cried out to You: ‘Glory to Your Condescension, O Merciful God.’

When You, O Christ, of Your own will, submitted bodily to be closed in the tomb, being by nature of the Godhead, remaining indescribable and limitless, You closed down the chambers of death, and emptied the palaces of Hades. Then You rendered this Sabbath worthy of blessing and glory, and of Your own splendor.

When You, the Immortal Life, descended to Death, You struck Hades dead with the lightning of the Godhead; and when You raised up the dead from the abyss, all the powers of Heaven cried aloud; ‘O Life Giver Christ, our God, glory to You!’

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Free Will and Virtue in Athanasius

February 9, 2010

“‘Wherefore having already begun and set out in the way of virtue, let us strive the more that we may attain those things that are before. And let no one turn to the things behind, like Lot’s wife, all the more so that the Lord hath said, “No man, having put his hand to the plough, and turning back, is fit for the kingdom of heaven.’ And this turning back is nought else but to feel regret, and to be once more worldly-minded. But fear not to hear of virtue, nor be astonished at the name. For it is not far from us, nor is it without ourselves, but it is within us, and is easy if only we are willing. That they may get knowledge, the Greeks live abroad and cross the sea, but we have no need to depart from home for the sake of the kingdom of heaven, nor to cross the sea for the sake of virtue. For the Lord aforetime hath said, “The kingdom of heaven is within you.” Wherefore virtue hath need at our hands of willingness alone, since it is in us and is formed from us. For when the soul hath its spiritual faculty in a natural state virtue is formed. And it is in a natural state when it remains as it came into existence. And when it came into existence it was fair and exceeding honest. For this cause Joshua, the son of Nun, in his exhortation said to the people, “Make straight your heart unto the Lord God of Israel,” and John, “Make your paths straight.” For rectitude of soul consists in its having its spiritual part in its natural state as created. But on the other hand, when it swerves and turns away from its natural state, that is called vice of the soul. Thus the matter is not difficult. If we abide as we have been made, we are in a state of virtue, but if we think of ignoble things we shall be accounted evil. If, therefore, this thing had to be acquired from without, it would be difficult in reality; but if it is in us, let us keep ourselves from foul thoughts. And as we have received the soul as a deposit, let us preserve it for the Lord, that He may recognize His work as being the same as He made it.”

Life of Anthony, 20.

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He’s Got Issues

July 3, 2009

 

As I noted above in Three Strange Days the Lutheran radio program, Issues, Etc. had a three day series of programs on Eastern Orthodoxy now about a month ago. Here I wish to go through the programs and address the arguments given by David Jay Webber and Todd Wilken.  The programs are divided up into, Orthodoxy: Strength and Weaknesses, Orthodoxy Today, and The Pelagian Controversy.

In the first broadcast that I heard, Strength and Weaknesses there is the usual attempt to tar Orthodoxy with something very much alien to it, namely the Charismatic movement. The criticism made by Webber is that Charismatics and the Orthodox go to worship for the same thing, namely the attainment of a mystical experience rather than to be slain by the law and revived by the gospel. What constitutes “mystical” or “experience is really left undefined. Consequently it is very easy to mash these two bodies together. The term “mystical” is deployed to connote an experience that is irrational or contrary to reason and that the goal is some kind of absorption into God and a loss of one’s identity. The implication is that Orthodoxy and the Charismatics are modern Schwermers and are really peddling Buddhism in Christian garb.

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Prayer, Poem, and Dialectic to God

May 14, 2009

Recapitulatikon

by +photius farrell

 

We pray Thee, O Christ,

We acknowledge Thee to be the Lord,

The God of Adam, and Saviour of Eve,

The Hope of Abraham, the Blessing of Isaac,

The Inheritance of Jacob;

O Thou in Whose humanity art the true promised land;

Thou, O Lord God of our fathers, fulfilling all,

hast filled all things with Thyself.

 

For whither shall I Go from Thy presence,

Whence shall my mind take wings and flee,

That Thou art not there for me to find

For if to Heaven supernal above, Thou art there, O Christ

From thence didst Thou descend as God, and thence ascend as man.  Read the rest of this entry »


Higher Criticism as the old Gnosticism vis-à-vis Apostolic Succession

May 12, 2009

“The Gnostic appeal to a secret tradition embodied in its own Gospels or modifications of the existing Christian gospels thus highlights the situation of the “Two Churches within One Institution” Model, for the Gnostic “tradition” is esoteric, and can only be arrived at by initiation into methods known to the Gnostic.  The situation is all too similar to the claims of much modern textual criticism, which asserts the right of its own scholarly elite to modify the text of Scripture, or in actual fact, to reject the ecclesiastical texts, in favor of its own highly questionable conjectures and reconstructions of the “original autographs”.  Seen in this light, the Gnostic is little more than a second century textual critical peritus, and the modern textual critic as little more than a nineteenth or twentieth century Gnostic.”

“Specifically, by the latter part of the second century, when the orthodox insisted upon “one God,” they simultaneously validated the system of governance in which the church is ruled by “one bishop.” Gnostic modification of monotheism was taken—and perhaps intended—as an attack upon that system.  For when gnostic and orthodox Christians discussed the nature of God, they were at the same time debating the issue of spiritual authority. Thus, even the idea of apostolic succession is transformed in the hands of some Gnostic systems who claimed succession from different teachers, who form, according to Ptolemy, “an esoteric supplement to the canonical collection of Jesus’ words.” Bodily resurrection, apostolic succession, and the canonical and textual form of the Scriptures form a continuous strand of orthodox response to Gnosticism, as Gnosticism forms a continuous and total program of assault on each of these.  For both the Gnostic and the Orthodox, to imperial any of these elements was to imperial them all.  Again, the implications for the modern situation are dire, for faced as we are with Churches and hierarchies that all too quickly are abandoning versions of Scripture based upon some form of the Majority Text—the received ecclesiastical text underlying most versions of Scripture, in favor of versions based on critical constructions of what scholars think the early text to have been, constructions themselves based upon manuscripts in many cases of known Gnostic or heretic pedigree, the implication for apostolic succession is enormous.”

“[W]hen St. Irenaeus emphasizes the recapitulation of all things in Christ, including all stages of human nature, he is stating more than just Christological doctrine.  The unity of the Godhead and the inclusion of all of humanity in the effects of the Incarnation are double blows against the Gnostic proliferation of deities and authorities; his understanding of recapitulation is also a statement of ecclesiastical polity.  There are, indeed, he acknowledges, two traditions, but only one derives from the Apostles; the other derives from Simon Magus and ultimately from Satan. The importance of this will be lost unless restated in modern higher critical terms: the distinction of two kinds of tradition as regards doctrine, polity, and canonical Scripture means that any attempt to deal with early manuscripts of Scripture as an indistinct mass, without regarde to doctrinal content, is, from the orthodox Christian perspective, impossible, since it does not account for the historical fact of the existence of different kinds of tradition from the beginning.”

God, History, and Dialectic: The Theological Foundations of the Two Europes and Their Cultural Consequences, +Photius Farrell


Aborting Jesus

April 27, 2009

abortion_icon3“As with St. Ireneaus, there is an ecclesiological and sacramental dimension to the doctrine of Recapitulation. Baptism is an essential component of the mystery and for the spiritual life, since the believer must recapitulate that which Christ Himself fulfilled and repeated in His own Recapitulation. As was the case with Sts. Ireneaus and Athanasius, one cannot separate the divine and invisible nature and therefore one cannot separate water and the Spirit into two separate baptisms or events, as this would be a kind of sacramental Nestorianism.

Ftnt. 37 This point cannot be lingered over too long, since many Evangelical Christians make just such a separation. For the Fathers, such a separation always indicates a distorted and incorrect understanding of the Incarnation. It is on the christological basis of recapitulation that infants are baptized, since not to baptize them until they reach the ‘age of reason’ or ‘accountability’ implies that communion between God and man is impossible at this stage of life.  If this principle were pressed into the Incarnatin itself, it would mean that Christ only became God subsequently to His conception. Likewise, the Church’s condemnation of abortion is rooted in the recapitulational principle, since this stage of human life was united indivisibly and unconfusedly with God the Word.  It is therefore contradictory to maintain at one and the same time that infants cannot be baptized, and yet to argue against abortion on the basis of an abstract principle of the ‘sanctity of life’ divorced from its Christological basis.

Joseph P. Farrell, Introduction, The Disputation with Pyrrus of our Father among the Saints Maximus the Confessor, p. xvi.


On My Body

October 15, 2007

http://www.iranfocus.com/modules/news/article.php?storyid=12781

“Henceforth let no man trouble me; for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus.”

Galatians 6:17


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