In just a few weeks my little family will be packing up and heading to Boston for seminary. I wanted to get down some random thoughts of late that might help you all know how to pray for me at this chaotic time.
First, my contemplation about the Church has morphed into a contemplation about Personhood. After reading several posts on Fr. Stephen's blog and some other discussions among some conservative philosophers and Roman Catholic thinkers, as well as some Reformed and Lutheran thinkers, I am more clearly aware of the sometimes vast divide philosophically that separates the East and the West.
The West has argued for many years now over the notion of predestination and freedom. Having to define their theology in light of the Pelagian heresy, the West has struggled with the whole notion of freedom and grace.
The East, on the other hand, has never had to define their theology in light of the errors of Pelagius and simply looks at the West and their arguments about grace and predestination with slack-jawed disbelief. Do some Christians really believe in double-predestination? Do some Christians really believe that grace is a created thing? Amazing!
Fr. Stephen recently quoted Fr. Dimitri Staniloae saying "To the extent that man does not use his freedom, he is not himself. In order to emerge from that indeterminate state, he must utilize his freedom in order to know and be known as himself.” This insightful and basic statement of Orthodox anthropology is telling in many ways.
First Orthodoxy believes man's freedom is still available to him even in a lost state. This freedom rests in his unchangeable reality of being created in God's image to be in His likeness. Man is a slave, but by his own hand. C.S. Lewis said "hell is locked from the inside."
Second, Man is enslaved by his ignorance of himself. Mankind living in the delusion of sin and rebellion perpetuates this slavery in all aspects of creation because of ignorance of God and himself. This slavery is eternal without the enlightening mercy of the Gospel to reveal mankind to himself.
Finally, Man's freedom must be achieved by a "symphonia" between himself and God through the Person of Jesus Christ and the present work of the Holy Spirit.
Thus the primary task of the Church is to both reflect the Face of Jesus (The One NEW Man) and to declare the Person of Christ to lost humanity so that man might recover his forgotten image and his own eternal value.
OK, now I am not a theologian and I certainly am no philosopher. I have no illusions that my three points above hold any weight at all. I am simply getting these thoughts down to look them over and contemplate them further. They are probably wrong on several key points and weak on many others, but it seems to me that this Orthodox anthropology and view of humanity squares better with the revelation of the Incarnation and the scriptures and the teachings of the Fathers than any notion I've read so far. I may be wrong (it wouldn't be the first time) but there it is.
This Orthodox anthropology has HUGE implications for our view of the Church, salvation, the Divine Mysteries, and every aspect of our ministry here on earth. Big stuff, indeed.
So, that's what's running through my ind of late as I look to dismantling my home here in South Florida and move my precious wife and daughter to Boston for seminary. Now, between my work at OCN, my dear family, and the deadline of our move to Boston, I confess, I may not be getting to this blog as often as I want, but you can rest assured that there is more coming.
I look forward to your thoughts.
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