14-04-2009, 02:36 PM
marc hanna Wrote:But the apparent greater defensiveness/divisiveness (which I am uncertain is typical of all EO's) may also be partly the result of the different theological traditions - EO's primarily Antiochene and OO's primarily Alexandrine - but this would require some rather in-depth study to try to identify a connection.
I agree, this is not a short answer question.
And, as we might continue just a bit here with this train of thought about this first clause in the Creed which seems to be "reactive," as well as representing a faith tradition which seems to have formed its doctrine in a reactive mode . . . I would like to share with you that it has been my experience coming into Greek Orthodoxy that the GO Church today seems to exhibit the least amount of defensiveness/divisiveness. Again, I am basing this statement on my own limited experience with GO Church members and clergy that I know in person, as well as writings of the same I have read online. In addition, through the pen of the Ecumenical Patriarch, and other contemporary writing theologians like John Zizioulas to name one in particular, I would say that the defensiveness/divisiveness is definitely not typical of all EO's. In fact, if you are familiar with the thinking/writing of these two men for example, then you know that there is more of a good kind of reaching out, and a good kind of ecumenicalism to be found in the upper levels of the GO Church than not. Both of these men are interested in dialogue. Both of these men are interested in gathering others around a table to talk. Bishop Kallistos Ware is another good example of this. But, unfortunately, there seems to be enough of a faction to be found in other patriarchates that promotes a pushing away from the table, and a declining of invitations to sit and talk, so that the context of division that we live in prevails, and is magnified. So, I would not say the defensiveness/divisiveness that we have been considering is typical of all EO's by any means, but that there are different schools of thought to be found in EO.
As far as your suggestion about the different schools of thought to be found above (viz. EO's primarily Antiochene and OO's primarily Alexandrine), I do not feel qualified to comment on this assertion; however, I'm not sure how this would really come into play in terms of perspective/hermenuetics. But, I allow much room for the thought that I may be missing something here.
And, with your permission, I would like to get back to a point that I made earlier. Who, what Orthodox Church member would disagree with what is said in the Creed? But, knowing this was a reactive thing, who is it really for? What does it really promote?
Regardless of whether we are considering the relationship of the Church with non-Christian folks of any label in the day that it was crafted, regardless of whether we are considering the relationship of the Church with any non-Christian or non-Orthodox Christians in our present day, and even regardless if we are considering either such things as OO and EO relations, or the context of division to be found within EO today . . . let's do a "what if."
"What if" we are not dealing with a faith tradition that has formed its doctrine in a climate which required a reactiveness? What if the defensiveness/diviseness that we are considering now, today in this online conversation does not find its roots in a mere posture of having been put on the defensive and forced to respond/react; but, instead, we are dealing with nothing more than a certain aspect of human nature. And, to be more specific, this is an aspect that has come to be known in our present day as "fundamentalism."
This mindset is nothing new and I think the different manifestations of it that we have seen in the History of World, whereby man's inhumanity/cruelty to man is put on display, cleanly demonstrate what is at the heart of the matter as it intersects with all of the works of the flesh. We see this mindset in many particular groups of people today. I think of the driving force in "American Fundamentalism" if you are familiar with this, or in a more extreme form, I think of groups such as the Taliban. I have a RCC friend who likes to bring the Puritans into this conversation as well.
But, what if we are just scratching the surface as it relates to such things as men reacting to each other and a resulting context of division whereby in the end, there is more of a lobbing of things over the fence at each other, at best, than there is anything else. And, from this place we see only an escalation of division and defensiveness on both parts.
I know we are starting to go out to sea here a little bit with this, but I think we are still in bounds according to how Father Peter is allowing for this small group study. This is not a lecture, but an interactive thing wherein it is "person speaking to person, not machine speaking to machine."
So, I will try to wrap this up now . . . but, "What if" there is nothing new or unique to Orthodoxy in terms of a mere reactiveness toward those who would disagree with a particular religion/belief system, or any world view for that matter. What if we are considering nothing here more complicated than human nature?
So, as it relates to such things as the relationship with "my" church and "your" church, or a Greek Church and a Russian Church, or whatever . . . take it wherever you want to with this . . . "what if" this context of division and this defensiveness/divisiveness has nothing to do with anything--except the works of the flesh?
And, if we allow any room for this way of knowing, this state of being as it relates to particularism and individual groups, then what is the end for those who participate in these works? What is the logical end conclusion of all of this, of this mindset?
Or, let's hold this up to the light and turn it around another way. What do we know is the end for the one whose methodology (for the lack of a better word), is characterized by the works of the Spirit?
It does not require a special gift of discernment to distinguish between Osama Bin Laden and Jacob Bar Hebraeus, anymore than it requires a special gift of discernment to distinguish between those who operate by means of the works of the flesh and those who speak the language of Love.
Honestly, when I read the opening part of this first line in the Creed, I do consider the "We" carefully, and it does draw sharp lines of division in my mind, but these lines of division do not promote a defensiveness or any kind of drawing in of the ranks/phlanx. Granted, there is a kind of positive disengagement that results as it relates to our brothers and sisters who are caught up in the division/divisiveness somewhat unaware; but, to be honest, in my experience this effects me in a way that can best be described as a giving of wings. Or a transcending of all divisions in Christ.
What else is there Marc?
Take me or other EO's who feel like I do, for example . . . if "We" are to subscribe to what appears to be the majority view (and supposedly the mature view) in 'our' tradition then "We" will use this Creed ('our' Creed) to draw a line of division between you and "Us" and every other person who is not a member of the one holy chalcedon orthodox church, "our" church.
But, in my view, that would be stupid, foolish, and sinful.
Or, take you for example, your church is not in communion with my church. Does this mean anything?
What else is there but a transcending of all divisions in Christ in our present day (especially in Orthodoxy today)?
And, this view has some serious implications, doesn't it? It has some real ramifications as it relates to an historic Orthodox Christian approach, I understand this. For one, the "We" becomes a universal thing with no real particularity. In this sense for those who wish to transcend all divisions in Christ, where is the concrete aspect of the Church in this (especially as it relates to the question of authority!)?
And, we may choose the view that it is not for any of us to be concerned with such things, or we may just become overwhelmed with the whole thing and do the ostrich thing, or become apathetic as we recite a Creed which uses words which are not symbols in any way, shape, or form and in fact have no real meaning to us.
Think about this, if we are reciting a credo, "what" we believe, but in reality (especially as this 'we' relates to the 'One Holy Orthodox Catholic Church') we do not know what the words mean . . . then we might as well stand in church on Sunday morning and recite together:
"Chicken, bagel, gas can, . . . . chicken!"
So, you know, it matters.
"What if" the "We" in the day that the Creed was crafted is not the same as the "We" in our day? What does this do to the traditional teachings of the Church on the Hierarchy/Bishop and the sacraments. What does this do to the shape and dimension and limits of the Church (The 'We')?
Or, better yet . . . "What if" the "We" is exactly the same today as it was in the day the Creed was crafted in that the "We" is not to be found in a particular group centered around the legitimate Bishop (or Pope)[?], but the "We" is to be found in the one who seeks to transcend all defensiveness/divisions in Christ and follows "The Bishop within."
Sounds a little too Protestant doesn't it? They clearly do have an underdeveloped doctrine of ecclesiology; however, "What if" the Protestants don't have everything completely wrong as it relates to pneumatology?
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 - Rick Henry - 14-04-2009 02:36 PM