An Expression of "The Faith We Live Today": Livin' In the Real World
Dear John, Dear All,
Thank you so much for this last post! I gave you more than a few 'silent amens' while reading your words which spoke to:
Quote:. . . the reality of the historical situation within which we find ourselves.
Because, seriously, how can any thoughts and or conversation of such matters as we face today become anything but an absurd thing without an honest acknowledgment of the "reality" of the situation in which we find ourselves? As you move to direct our attention to the development of Christianity in first the East, and then the West there are many valuable lessons and precepts to be drawn from this one post.
But, today, I would like to assert that I feel a continued look at the different historical developments of the western and eastern parts of the World and Christianity herself will show that there *are* two distinct orientations to be found in Christian theology, both in theory and in practice.
Kyraicos Markides has said it very well I think when he has said:
Quote:While Western Christianity became more oriented toward this world, Eastern Christianity remained monastic and eremitic in character.
and, in my view this sums up very well 'the reality of the historical situation within which we find ourselves' today. As, you have indicated somewhat John, if we were to trace back through sixteenth century activities of men such as Luther (whose activities served mainly to remove the heart from Christianity in the end), and back through the scholastic efforts of men such as Aquinas (whose activities served to pave the way for scientific revolution and the rise of rationalism), and back to the beginning of the earliest activities in the western and eastern parts of the Roman Empire in particular, I think it is very easy to see the two distinct orientations that we have running through all of Christendom today. If one will just stop for a minute to consider even a very superficial look at the History of the Church (and the History of the World during this time), it is not hard to get a good grip on the situation in which we find ourselves.
I think we can consider the effects of the industrial revolution and communism for examples (and I think there is a great return of the investment for doing this), and we can consider what 'parts' of Christianity were cut off or isolated from these things and what 'part's were heavily influenced by them (or even planted the seeds for some of them); however, at the end of the day, I think, the more we do these things the more we will only support my proposition which is there *are* two distinct orientations to be found in Christian theology which is as said above: the one is more oriented to this world, and the other is more oriented toward an eremitic or monastic character.
And, again as you well say John:
Quote:As inheritors of this fractured and fractious situation we have a choice. We can behave as if our small corner was all the light there was and demand that others submit to that light; or we can seek to share the light with those who have part of it and seek its fullness.
I say 'amen.' But, then I hold up a mirror that moves beyond ourselves and provides a perspective of what is around us in terms of both our other brothers and sisters, and the one's who have not yet heard the proclamation of Christ. And, I bring up again the question of our motives and our intentions. Beginning with your words in relation to those who have 'not heard':
Quote:If we are particularist, then we do not act on the Great Commission; if we treat others as the Pharisees did, then we are condemned by His lips. What, indeed, does the fullness of the Faith mean if it does not include the willingness to love our enemies? Is it a compilation of ancient texts, or do those texts express the faith we live today?
The last five words in this hit me like a ton of bricks when I read it by the way, ". . . the faith we live today?" And, possibly, you can guess about my level of agreement with what is said initially as it relates to particularism and the Great Commission (let alone the Priestly Prayer)! But, this is IT John as we move to break out the brass tacks--"the faith we live today."
As we consider both Church Unity and Evangelism/Missions via education or just plain simple talk in a very straightforward way when given the chance--what are our motives, what are our intentions?
And, I don't want to push this to the point where it becomes counter productive; however, are we saying that the East cannot learn from the West, or vice versa? Are we saying that one hospital is superior to all others? Is one hospital a teaching hospital for all the others, and one that cannot be taught? If this what we believe?
I do know that when you say:
Quote:All Churches are spiritual hospitals; but not all hospitals are equally good.
I again give you another big 'AMEN' because this is a very true statement. But, this is not the question. And, I am receiving a treatment that I have never had as well here in Orthodoxy. In this sense, your experience is my experience. But, this is not the question either, is it?. To me the question is, as it relates to both Church Unity and Evangelism/Missions: Is there one particular group which offers an umbrella to all others?
Is there one particular group which is superior to all others in their service/treatment (and education) which they provide?
And, if so, what is their name?