A Christian Particularism?
Dear John, Dear Peter, Dear All,
Yes, John, a paradox to be sure! There are an increasing number of folks moving from other Christian traditions and denominations, as I have, and to Orthodoxy. And, possibly, while we all have our own 'individual' reasons for doing this, I have observed that the one thing that we all seem to have in common is an aspiration to make a move to what we perceive to be a fuller faith. And, as any who have made such a move know, this is not something which is done lightly. It is not without varying degrees of sacrifice. And, regardless of the reasons why, I think much of the draw of the Orthodox 'community,' is to be found in this perception of an historic and a genuine common ground, 'a fuller faith.' Whereby, here I think we start to see into this paradox in a most helpful way!
But, here I am drawing distinctions and lines of divisions with great speed aren't I? The one who prays for unity of the Church, following after our Lord Jesus Christ in the priestly prayer of John 17, is now beginning to draw lines. Me, the one who normally will avoid the language of "us" and "them" in all such discussions is starting to speak of such concepts/categories as 'individualism' and 'community.' This doesn't really make sense does it? But, this is because I feel strongly that unless we begin to understand such things/shapes as it relates to the Work of the Holy Spirit, while we may find ourselves still able to become harmless as doves, we will not be able to fulfill the command to be wise as serpents.
Specifically, I am referring to the concept of 'particularism.'
If we define 'particularism' as being: "Exclusive adherence to, dedication to, or interest in one's own group," then what in the world does this have to do with anything spoken of in the above. Or, in this thread, in its entirety so far, what does this have to do with anything that has been said to date? This is a very subtle thing here, I think, and the full meaning of what I am introducing for discussion may not come out at the present. However, again, to put it another way, what does a Generous Orthodoxy have to do with a "Christian Particularism?" Those words just don't even sound right when strung together do they? In light of the priestly prayer of Christ, how can we even think about subscribing ourselves or prescribing to another such a thing?
So, yes Peter, I am agreeing with you when you say:
Quote:I do not sense that we have any thought, as some do, that only Orthodox are in any relationship with Christ, let alone that only Orthodox are 'saved' and have hope of eternal life
But, God willing, saving for a later date, a more in depth discussion about such things as 'individualism,' 'particularism,' and 'community,' I would like to consider another aspect of what we are considering at the present.
As it relates to the expression, "The fullness of the faith," . . . I have some questions about this. I know that I am the new guy here, and I don't want to get flagged for stepping out of bounds on my first few posts here; however, what are we really saying when we say this? I have said this in the past, possibly you the reader have said this as well at times, in fact, John has just used this expression above in his last post. But, honestly, what are we really saying when we say something like, 'the fullness of the faith is to be found within Orthodoxy?"
Before I come together with others, to pray as one, in the one crucified and risen Lord, I like to know who it is that I am praying with to be honest. I don't need to know every little detail about the theological positions of my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. But, as it relates a genuine unity as opposed to an artificial unity, I like to know how I am viewed by my so called brothers and sisters. And, I would think many who are following this thread whom may be a candidate for such a coming together--in the real world of British Orthodoxy --would want to know the same thing. So, I think this is a fair question.
And, this too is a very subtle thing. But, if we could just pause here for a minute and camp out on this for even just a couple beats. If
we say that within one particular group 'the fullness of the faith' is to be found, then
what are we really saying?