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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

My critique of WOTM Radio's segment about Eastern Orthodoxy

This is the post I made some months ago about WOTM Radio's podcast segment about Eastern Orthodoxy. I sent WOTMradio a modified email of what's posted here. A friend from HolyCultureradio told me about the podcast they had about it and she just wanted me to check if what was said was accurate:

He has somethings right but most of what he's saying is wrong. He doesn't understand what's going on. He is trying to look at it from his Western mindset. So even the few things he got right was twisted because he doesn't have a clue of the context and what's going on.

I'll post streams, quotes from books, and other things later. For now I will just say.

1.) We believe God is both "Transcendant" as well as "Immanent"

Transcendance means God is unknowable....meaning God dwells outside of Time and space and that there will alsways be a part of God that will always be unknowable.

The form of theology that comes from this is what we call "Apophatic theology" ....God is not this and God is not that.......ect.

Immanence means God is dwelling in time and space. Or that God dwells within Creation itself. This means we will be able to know "something" about God. It means we can know God in some form. This is where Catophatic theology is formed from. It is formed by what we know of God in "time and space".......God is this and God is that......ect.

Some examples of what we can know about God would be such things as "epiphanies", "Divine Revelation", "The Incarnation", Knowing about the Godhead through creation, as well as knowing God through His Grace/graces which is Something we would call Divine energies.......ect.

Orthodoxy just knows that we will never know "ALL" of what God is in His "entireness". God is Infinite whereas we are finite. This is all we are saying. Knowing God in his true essense is impossible for God is Infinite. No matter what name we give to God we will never be able to describe Him fully. Why? Because He is both understandable as well as incomprehensible all at the sametime. However, In Apophatic theology there is a practice of knowing God in a way that can't be described by words. So in either form whether apophatic(the negative) or Catophatic(the positive) we believe that we can know God in some form. We just believe that we can't know Him in all His fullness......for God is Infinite.

The jews knew God but they didn't know God at the level that we know God today. The Angels know God but they won't know God in the way we will when we are glorified. Also at the level we know God now is only partial. We will know God at a higher level when we are glorified, but even then we won't know God in his fullness for He is Infinite. We believe that for Eternity we will be knowing more and more about God and learning more and more about Him .....Everyday for Eternity will be like a new day in learning about His Vastness.

I hope I didn't loose you by saying all this. Eastern Orthodoxy embraces both Catophatic as well as Apophatic theology. Right now I embrace more of the Catophatic school of thought in Orthodoxy because it is what I'm use to,.......because I come from a Protestant background.

Alot of the bhuddist converts I know embrace more of the Apophatic theology in Orthodoxy because it's probably what they are more use to coming from that background.

Both schools exist in Eastern Orthodoxy. One balances the other.

2.) Also the Eastern Christian mindset when it comes to learning is different from the Western Christian mindset. I will use the college example. When it comes to learning, Eastern Orthodoxy would be more about Labs than class lectures.

Whereas Western Christianity is more about class lectures than labs.

Eastern Christianity believes that one learns more from hands on experience. Whereas western Christianity believes that one learns more from text books.

Anotherway of saying this is .......Eastern Christianity believes that if you want to learn about a Lion it would be best to be locked in a cage with one instead of reading a book about one.

This is what it comes down to. If you "say" you know something.... well how do you know you know it? And how can we know you know it? To us the whole person(mind, body, and soul) must know it. ......Or else you are just lying to yourself as well as to others.

We can see this in 1st John

1 John 3:18
Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.

Most christians before the printing press had to "Hear" the word of God and memorize it and ponder on it in their hearts. That is how they learned the word of God back then. Eastern Orthodoxy still stresses "hearing" the word of God, because that's the way it's always been for 2,000 years. Now in modern Times we do read the scriptures more......especially converts like myself. But hearing the word of God and pondering on it is almost a lost art in the west.

I believe 1st John 3:18 was saying the samething as James when James wrote about faith plus works. James is really talking about "words" plus works.......or words plus true faith.

In like mannor we "know" something not by words alone but by "experiencing" what we say. This is true faith.

3.) In regards to us being gods.....well we were made in God's Image. We are His Images. And as christians we are united with God's Son as well as With His Holy Spirit. And One day we will be glorified.

So yes we are gods in some sense of the word and we will be gods when we are glorified.

God became man so that man could become divine.

God forever partook of our nature so that we can forever partake of His. All the classic christian greats that I know believed this. It's not talked about much in todays World. It's not Mormonism.....the fact that he said that only showed his ignorance of the topic.

4.) It is true......we are not Pantheists. We are what is called PANENTHEISTS

It goes back to God being both Transcendant as well as Immanent. We believe that All of creation dwells within God.

God holds it all together within Himself.

Colossians 1:17
He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

This does not mean that the creation is a part of God. That is another misconception. It just means that creation dwells in God. ...Like a fish dwelling in the Ocean. The fish is not part of the Ocean.....they are two different things. Likewise, creation is different from the Creator. This is why I believe God controls everything......and I mean everything...... And this is also why I understand synergy the way I do.

5.) Our understanding of Justification is tied to our doctrine of theosis. Justification and Sanctification are two sides of the same coin. When you have one you will see the other.

They are really "simultaneous".

In debates people like to put one in front of the other but it doesn't have to be that way. For when you are Justified you are also at that same moment "set aside"

6.) Almost everything in Orthodoxy is filled with Scripture. The same is true with Icons. In many ways it's nothing more than scripture in painted form. If we can have scripture on audio tapes and C.D.'s then why can't we have it in Movies, Paintings, and plays as well?

But I guess you can call it a commentary to scripture because they are Theological in content......They explain alot of passages. So Icons in Eastern Christianity are Theological works. And then you have Icons that are historical works as well.


6.) If you look at the rule of St. Vincent of Lerins it is Scripture first and the fathers as a commentary to scripture second. Well it's a bit deeper than that but that's the general rule. Scripture didn't come down to us in a vacume.

"From the Commonitory of St Vincent of Lerins (4th Century)"

"1. I have continually given the greatest pains and diligence to inquiring,
from the g
reatest possible number of men outstanding in holiness and in
doctrine, how I can secure a kind of fixed and, as it were, general and guiding
principle for distinguishing the true Catholic Faith from the degraded
falsehoods of heresy. And the answer that I receive is always to this effect;
that if I wish, or indeed if anyone wishes, to detect the deceits of heretics
that arise and to avoid their snares and to keep healthy and sound in a healthy
faith, we ought, with the Lord's help, to fortify our faith in a twofold manner,
firstly, that is, by the authority of God's Law, then by the tradition of the
Catholic Church.

Also for the most part we don't have statues. The Russians might have some, but for the most part we are statueless. We mostly have paintings/Icons.

So they were wrong when they said "statues everywhere". If anything it would be paintings on the wall.

Most Prots in Eastern Europe don't understand that if they are going to do anything like have a T.V. ministry or something like that then they are going to have to have the Orthodox involved.

What they need to do is follow the example of T.B.N. (the Trinity broadcasting Network in Eastern Europe)

People don't understand that every group under the sun are rushing to convert people overthere. so I don't have a problem with the Orthodox pushing their weight around in order to preserve Orthodoxy.

However, I don't believe in violence and stuff like that.

Ft. Patrick's Journy, Ft. Guilquest's journy as well as Ft. Gregory Hogg's should help you understand Orthodoxy a bit better. Orthodxy isn't perfect but it ain't bad either.





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