A Generous Orthodoxy
03-08-2007, 02:54 PM
'Living in the Already and the Not Yet'
You are sharing some writing with me from a part of the Orthodox Tradition that I have not had exposure to in the past--thank you!
This particular passage that you have shared by saint Moses Bar Kefo, spurs me to thought of what is represented in the expression "Living in the already and the not yet." This expression may be somewhat overused, but I find much value in this way of thinking.
But, as it relates to 'living in the already and the not yet,' or as it relates to what some may consider a lifestyle of "Kingdom Living," I am moved to consider further what a Generous Orthodoxy is and what a Generous Orthodoxy is not.
What are we really saying here when we throw this term around like we do viz.are we just using it as a vehicle for discussion, or is this an umbrella of sorts? Some conversations begin in academic settings, like a "Radical Orthodoxy." And, for some it is best that they just remain a conversation (as opposed to ever really becoming a movement). I think from my point of view, a Generous Orthodoxy could be associated with the priestly prayer of Christ, and a theology of love. Other than this I'm not sure how much definition is required.
But, as we move to a consideration of definitions, and such things as boundaries and limits, I would like to share that as part of a time of meditation recently over a specific matter or two, I have been reading John Cassian. Specifically, his 'Second Conference of Abbot Moses,' in his writing on "discretion." And, I bring this up for an example more than anything else. An example of how when we may decide which part of Christianity to worship in, to be a part of on the local level, or for some who may find their vocation in the church, as we may consider which sector we may find ourselves working in as ministers of the gospel of Christ we need discretion, don't we? We need discernment to know where God would have us to be. Because this is what matters right? As shared elsewhere, we choose. And, we are responsible for our choice(s). And, we can be either deceived by the Deceiver or self-deceived; however, in the end, we have discretion, or we have a lack of discretion.
And, it occurs to me now that the primary readership of this forum is the UK, so there may be some present Anglicans (who would be Orthodox) reading this right now. And, you know *exactly* what I am talking about already. I don't need to try to develop this because you are living it right now! And, there may be some ex-Anglicans here who have already taken the plunge into Orthodoxy, and you have already been through this experience in the past.
And, I am not talking to any who are apathetic right now. Firstly, because an apathetic Christian would not still be reading this post. He would have bailed out by now. An apathetic Christian would not care where he is as long as he is comfortable. I think I am in a conversation now with those who appreciate what is authentic, genuine, and sincere, and not such things as what is fake, counterfeit, and artificial (especially as it relates to an artificial Union of any kind).
But, as soon as we move into this area we move into such thinking as idealistic thinking, or a contrary mindset that may decide that to accept things the way things are, is the best course of action. As we know the idealist sees things the way they 'ought' to be most of the time. And, characteristically the other mindset sees things the way they 'are' most of the time. Discussions of realism aside, the idealist will normally view a situation that is lacking in different ways, which include different degrees of tolerance or non-tolerance; but, normally in the end he will not be embarrassed to say something like. "Well, this may be the way things are, but it's not okay!." Whereas the contrary thinker may take the stand that "God is in control and we should sit down and be quiet!"
Even more specifically, in this light, as we consider such things as community and fellowship, which are 'living in the already and the not yet,' what is it that determines where we assemble together, where we worship, and where we minister from as a home base? What determines our association with a particular local church? What determines when/where we go and when/where we stay?
And, let us be completely honest here. Regardless of which approach one chooses to take (viz. 'this is the way things are, but it's not okay' versus 'sit down and be quiet'), there are "competing systems" to be found within Orthodoxy in particular as well as within Christendom as a whole. This cannot be denied no matter how it is worked around in circles. Not even the grand dragon of ambiguity himself, Humpty Dumpty could defend a contrary position here. There *are* competing systems.
Within Orthodoxy in particular we have O.O. and E.O. Within E.O. in particular we have a very 'ridged' sect and a more 'generous' approach.
So let alone the Roman Catholic label, and the Protestant label, there are competing systems. One can work from within one's own system and proclaim that it is the One True System or Church, and that in reality there is only Truth and Error. And, this same one can explain that if a true discretion is exercised then all will agree with him, as opposed to those who through a lack of discretion have been overcome by the Old Deluder and are in error. But, how absurd! How absurd to take even just one step back and look at at these competing systems promoted by the individual barkers with their megaphones trying to shout each other down by means of the same flawed method.
So, to try to wrap this behemoth up here, for now, how do we know?
Just as those who are called Protestants are belittled for what is perceived to be a method of everyone interpreting the Bible as it best suits their own purposes, their own agenda. The Anglicans, the Roman Catholics, and we "Orthodox" all do the very same thing with the writing of the Fathers, the Saints, and both the ancient and contemporary writers of theology. There is no difference in method here either!
So, how do we know?
And, if we appeal to a type of metaphysical plane in 'the already and the not yet' whereby we find a "common ground" with all others who desire to and actually have transcended all divisions in Christ, then what exactly does this way of being say about how we know?
Have we in fact found a genuine/authentic unity here? Have we found a way of being just as the Father and the Son are One, as Christ prayed we would be in John 17? Have we found a very authentic place, a Beautiful place from which the Spirit of Life dictates both a way of being and a way of knowing in which many if not all of the above questions are in fact without meaning anymore because where He is We are?
Or, have we further perpetuated the division to be found in the Body of Christ? Have we merely adopted the flawed and sorry attempt of some. The Bahai for example says that all are One, and if you do not recognize this then you are simply naive or unaware of the reality of the situation. But, this is to be rejected out of hand, because there is not objective reality in this statement at all and even on a metaphysical plane it is apparent that the 'we' of the Bahai clearly stand on separate shores.
But, possibly some here see the issues. Possibly some here see the ramifications of what is being presented as we seek and desire with our whole being to live God's way and walk the Path of Christ in 'the already and the not yet.'
Any and all 'grist for the mill' is appreciated.
|Messages In This Thread|
 - Rick Henry - 03-08-2007 02:54 PM