admin Wrote:Our Christian faith is a matter of being and becoming. Therefore all of these other necessary things are a means of being and becoming more Christ-like, and more completely filled with the Holy Spirit.
From where I stand, I think it would be hard to make a more spot on point in this "perspectives" thread than what you have here Fr. Peter, thanks.
And, at the risk of taking this conversation where some would rather it not go, I have to wonder, at this point, if I really agree with this. As I read it I think I agree 100% with what Fr. Peter has said, but what are we really saying when we say this and believe this? I know Fr. Jack Sparks has said the same thing in terms of making it clear that some people, whom desire to achieve "being and becoming" [or what some others may call experience/encounter
], will do this by attending long services in church. Others will carry out fasts, vigils, and prostrations, or sleeping on bare earth. Others will say many prayers at home. Others will focus on mental prayer, solitude, isolation, and silence. And, of these "means" or "methods" and their help in terms of being a vehicle for "being and becoming," as Fr. Sparks says, they may or may not help us.
What is a vehicle of grace for one may not be for another. And, I think this speaks to what was written earlier that Orthodoxy is not just a set of doctrines and teachings . . . because if it is, then anyone could be Orthodox regardless of where they attend church for a couple of hours on Sunday morning, right? If it was a certain way of knowing and being, and if it is a process of being and becoming [or experience/encounter
], then any whose theory of knowing and theory of being was Orthodox would be Orthodox (as much as any) right? In some ways this speaks to an old question for a few of us here, which has been, it seems that in some ways one must already "be" Orthodox before one can "become" Orthodox and have an Orthodox mindset . . . otherwise there is no conversion, nothing is different. And, in this how does this come into play in terms of the vehicle of grace that is offered each Sunday? This seems to be the one determining factor really in much of our discussion.
Because, one could almost conclude that one can be Orthodox whether one is Eastern Orthodox, or Oriental Orthodox, or whatever Orthodox . . . or even Roman Catholic, or possibly even Baptist or other labels, if one is "being and becoming" and if one participates in the lived experience of Orthodoxy in terms of its teachings.
So, this is what I like about teachings and doctrines and propositions (and even systematic theology) . . .it takes much of the subjective element out of personal experiences and religious practices. When we put down on paper what we believe, this can be helpful . . . when we say what we believe and why we believe what we believe this can also be very helpful. But, sometimes when we put everything together that we are saying, it causes pause for reflection.
If for example, the main reason why I am Orthodox is not because of any unique teachings or doctrines found within Orthodoxy, or because this is the only place I can attend church on Sunday and hold my beliefs in good conscience, but the main reason why I am Orthodox is because this is where I encounter Christ in the Lord's Supper, then this is a good reason to be Orthodox. But, if this is our criteriology that we are using for our association with a particular group of Christians . . . then how could we suggest that where another experiences what we experience within say the RCC or the Baptist Church that they are any "less than" or how could we suggest that "they" need to become one of "us?" When I was a Baptist about 15 years ago, when we would have Communion it was a very special and serious thing to me. I know many Orthodox who like to ridicule what I experienced then and point out that as I was holding my "cracker" and my little cup of "Welch's Grape Juice" I was not participating in anything other than a mockery of the Holy Eucharist. I have not shared this with them, because I will not cast my pearls before swine . . . but, I feel comfortable sharing here that when I would hold my cracker and my juice and wait for direction to consume these and listen to a few words about what we were doing before consuming these . . . I have experienced the Living Christ and his resurrection power through His Holy Spirit as much or more than I ever have through the Orthodox "spoon." So, in my case, if this is our criteria, what in the world am I doing being Orthodox? I can live Orthodoxy, the life of prayer, and I can teach and preach Orthodox doctrines to others, who might never here these elsewhere.
So what are we really saying above, and do we really believe this? I do not see any evidence/symptoms of Groupthink here, but one remedy/cure for Groupthink is to play the devils advocate within such a particular group. Possibly, some of this is going on here (me being advocate), but everything that I have offered for our little discussion is true.