An interesting and thoughtful post, which gives us much to think about as we develop this theme with its various facets.
Quote:I wonder if any here are familiar with the Royal Path as presented in Orthodoxy?
I am not familiar with the term and would love to know more about it.
It is clear from Acts that from the very beginning there have always been those in the Church whose zeal for the Lord outstripped their remembrance of their own sinfulness, and whose 'Martha-ish' tendencies sometimes failed to take sufficient account of the command to love one another.
St. Cyril of Jerusalem used to distinguish between 'overt heretical teaching' and 'varied theological errors in reflection', and was always slow to decide that he was in the presence of the former.
As people we like to think we are 'right', and some of us can argue the hind leg off the donkey before admitting that we are, in fact, plain wrong. The various fractures in the Church since 451 have left a whole number of competing claims, and those Churches which can claim Apostolicity often lay claim to the fulness of the Orthodox faith along with it. It is often said that they cannot all be right; it is not altogether clear why they might not all have a point.
As my recent posts have perhaps shown, I have been in dialogue with and reading Roman Catholic literature. This is partly because one reads so many things about what it is 'they' believe, often from the same people who tell others what we Oriental Orthodox 'believe' and get it badly wrong.
Their teaching is in many senses more developed than ours, and something like Purgatory clearly derives from a particular reading of some scriptural texts, some comments in the Fathers, and a need to elaborate on what cannot, in fact, be known for certain. It is far from certain that many of those arguing about the filioque
are actually arguing from the same premises, or even about the same thing: the Economy of the Trinity can hardly be something a creaturely mind could grasp, surely? Then there's the stuff about the Pope, where frankly they have been making it up since ancient times, and continue to argue black is white in the face of historical evidence that would fell a bull-elephant; their pre Vatican I position was closer to being something one could argue over, and recent pronouncements by their Pope suggest an uneasiness with the fullest pretensions of the Magisterium; but I would expect to see a legless donkey before I see an admission of error.
Yet, with all these differences and their nuances, it is hard not to see in the Roman Church the western branch (to use my old Anglican terminology) of the ancient undivided Church. It does not surprise me that dialogue between the Vatican and the Oriental Orthodox family of Churches is relatively fruitful; we have much in common - and probably much we could teach each other - they would certainly benefit from thinking about theosis
and being less scholastic in some of their formulations - and we might benefit from some of its theological insights.
Yet that 'mob-mentality' you mentioned can lead some Orthodox to very unChristian comments about Rome - and to some Romans being very unChristian about the Orthodox. Meanwhile in the west an aggressive secularism gathers force in one corner, and an expansionist Islam in another; elsewhere Christianity is seen most publicly in Evangelical caricature or as a bunch of squabbling bigots. Some witness to the Christ who died for us.
There has, of course, always been a tendency within the Faith to treat the idea of developing our inner life in Christ as though it meant a withdrawal from this secular world, but as St. Cyril of Jerusalem reminds us, Christology and the Sacraments are of a piece in the Christian life, so the inner and the outer are part of the greater whole. We are assimilated into Christ through the sacraments as means of salvation; He came that He might make us one with God through physical means which provide access to Christ, and to God through Christ.
I have seen, on another forum where you and I have been know to hang out, comments to the effect that the poster was glad that Orthodoxy did not do evangelism; that makes me sad. If it wants to sit in its small corner and pretend that cultivating its soul is what the Lord died on the Cross for, and why He was resurrected, then it is not His Church. One of my many reasons for being a member of the BOC is that it does not believe this.
This could be caricatured as a syncretic appeal to solidarity on the lowest common denominator, but that is not what is being advocated. It may be that it is along that 'Royal Road' that the path to reconciliation and mission lie for for the historic Churches.
Abba Seraphim's recent paper on Scripture and Tradition (which I hope we can have to the website) contains so much wisdom on these subjects.
In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (1 John 4:10)