The British Orthodox Church

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BOC Fellowship
17-08-2006, 03:07 PM
Post: #1
BOC Fellowship
Many congratulations to Peter Theodore for all his hard work in setting this up; I hope that we can find a virtual fellowship on line through this medium.

One of the attractive things about the idea of the Fellowship is that it gives those of us who are at various stages of our spiritual journey a forum through which to exchange views without any pressure. I have found the Monachos.net site a very good source of information, but have been a 'lurker' rather than a joiner, partly because the Oriental Orthodox seem in a small minority on it.

I suppose the obvious question for an enquiring (and increasingly disappointed) Anglican is why Oriental Orthodox rather than Eastern Orthodox? What views do those further down this path have? I am at such an early stage that I hesitate to say more, but would be delighted to be enlightened. At the moment, for me, it is the eirenic tone of the BOC and the care with which my enquiries have been treated which are most striking, although as I read more about the Coptic Orthodox Church, I am struck by the character of its long Christian witness through trials which have indeed tested the faith of Saints.

I would be very happy to hear from others who are further down the road about their journey.

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)
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16-09-2006, 03:00 PM
Post: #2
 
Thanks John

I hope that we can use this forum to help develop a community as well.

It needs to be remembered that though the British Orthodox Fellowship is a ministry of the British Orthodox Church it is not the same as the Church, and so the contributions of members of all the other Christian traditions which come to be represented here are also to be welcomed, as together we try to explore and experience the Orthodox faith and life.

Peter
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17-09-2006, 12:44 PM
Post: #3
BOC Fellowship
Dear Peter Theodore,

Indeed, and as an Anglican who feels he has stayed where he was whilst the Church has moved elsewhere, I particularly value this forum. One of the really good things about the BOC in my limited experience is the Christian spirit in which it responds to the needs of those of us who are searching for the right way.

If we can make this firum a virtual community, it will help those of us in need of mutual support.

In Christ


John

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)
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22-09-2006, 08:51 PM
Post: #4
Fellowship
Hello everyone. Just wanted to signal my presence in the virtual community. I've been a bit of a 'lurker' on other on-line groups but feel it is important here to take an active part if I can. I'd also like to echo thanks to Peter for setting up this really important forum. I'm a bit further down the road than some, having been British Orthodox for over a decade now. Before that I was an Anglican so may be of help to others coming from a similar background.
I joined the Fellowship a while ago but have been on holiday, hence my somewhat late posting. For the same reason I only received the handbook today but I already feel it is going to rejuvenate my spiritual life - and it is good to know that others are trying to follow the same daily path.

In Christ,
Michael
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07-02-2007, 08:36 PM
Post: #5
Re: A Realisation
Dear Mark,

Yes, I think you have indeed just realised something of vital importance.

Christ is, as St. John tells us, the Word Incarnate; the second person of the Trinity, who emptied Himself to take on our flesh in order that it should be redeemed. That is why the Incarnation plays such a central role for Orthodox Christians. God is infinite and beyond our knowing; beyond even a category of 'knowing', since our minds cannot begin to compass Him. But through Christ we know Him as He wants us to know Him. Our relationship with Him is our relationship with our Creator, and it is one of love; if we will but love Him.

We have to be careful with 'sin'. Orthodoxy does not take on St. Augustine's idea of 'Original Sin' in the form which the western Churches have taken it on. It holds, rather, that we have inherited the penalty of Adam in that our likeness to God is marred by our propensity to sin; we are not inherently depraved and worthless - but we do sin, through weakness, through ignorance and through our own deliberate fault. The beautiful Donne sonnets you quote give us a good sense of this.
Quote:'He came down from heaven'...the only time this has ever happened in the whole of history. Am I correct?
Yes, you are.

Quote:Thus, both my own being and becoming are in need of salvation. Salvation 'happens' when both being and becoming are Redeemed. Salvation is not merely the realisation of awareness or consciousness. Salvation is something entirely Other - and a free gift from an entirely other Cosmic Realm where God abides in His fullness.

On the whole I'd say 'yes' to most of this, depending on what you mean by 'free gift'. If you mean that Grace is of God, then of course, yes; but we also must strive to be worthy of it. What I like about the notion of theosis (as I understand it) is that it makes such good sense of what I have always felt must be the case - which is that living the Christian life, and walking in His way, and taking the Holy Eucharist must transform me in this life, and help fit me for the next. So yes, both 'being and becoming' are indeed Redeemed through Him, and through His body and His blood - with us as active partners in the process.

We are truly free when we are most like ourself, and we are that when we are most like God, for we were made in God's image - and thus we shall indeed be 'made newe'.

It is wonderful that you have that feeling of being given another chance, for that, surely, is His work. Just think of it for a moment as it really is. God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son that we might be saved; what love, what compassion - what, me, worth that?! But that is what the Church teaches, it is what the Bible says. As my favourite hymn has it, 'forbid it Lord, that I should boast, save in the name of Christ my God, my richest gain, I count but loss, and pour contempt on all my pride.'

In my experience, His voice never orders you or gives you ultimata - He leaves it to you. Like all Fathers, He wants us to love Him because we do so, not because He makes us. Why? Because that love transforms us - following His way transforms us - all for the best.

Can I prove any of this? No, of course not, and I would not dream of trying. It either speaks to one's experience, or it leaves one cold.

I shall, God willing, come back to some of the other points you make in the other thread. But just pray, my dear Mark, and open your heart to Him. Don't be impatient, don't (oddly enough) expect miracles; He will work His way as He wants - you just have to be open to it.

In Christ,

John

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)
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07-02-2007, 09:55 PM
Post: #6
Peace
Thank you so much for your helpful words. I have also just remembered a poem of Henry Vaughan called 'Peace'.

Quote:My soul, there is a country
Far beyond the stars,
Where stands a winged sentry
All skilful in the wars,
There above noise and danger
Sweet peace sits crowned with smiles,
And one born in a manger
Commands the beauteous files,
He is thy gracious friend,
And (O my soul awake!)
Did in pure love descend
To die here for thy sake,
If thou canst get but thither,
There grows the flower of peace,
The Rose that cannot wither,
Thy fortress and thy ease;
Leave then thy foolish ranges;
For none can thee secure,
But one, who never changes,
Thy God, thy life, thy cure.

Yes - Henry Vaughan was right after all!
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07-02-2007, 10:46 PM
Post: #7
Peace
Dear Mark,

Yes, Vaughan was correct.

What Jackie-Sarah wrote earlier is profoundly true - ask Him to show you the way - then wait and follow. I don't claim it is easy, whatever 'easy' means - but He is the bread of life, and those who eat of that bread will not die, but will, rather, be transformed and, in the end, be made new.

At the heart of our Christian life is our encounter with the Incarnate Lord - He is always there, but where are we? Our relationship with Him is the one that transforms us. Love so amazing, so divine, demands our all, to paraphrase the hymn. In return, it gives us everything.

For me there is no incompatibility between intellect and faith - where that appears so it is because my intellect is deficient insofar as it is not the tool through which to apprehend the mysteries of the faith. That is not to say it is not important to read and to think and to discuss; no Christian Church is more based on Holy Tradition than the Orthodox; but it is vital to realise that Orthodoxy engages all of our senses, which is why our prayer life is so important. All that we have been given we need to lay at His feet; we know the fate of the steward who buries his talent and does not use it out of fear.

My prayers, as those of others, are with you, Mark.

In Christ,

John

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)
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08-02-2007, 06:36 AM
Post: #8
Thanks
Many thanks for your posting. I think that the very serious error I was making was thinking that I could fit the ocean of God's Truth into my thimble of personal understanding. The grandeur of God is unimaginably vast and incomprehensible. His ways are past all human understanding, and yet there is Holy Scripture and Tradition which guides us, through the Holy Spirit.

The Christian Gospel makes no human sense. To a human way of thinking, it is utter foolishness. The mistake is in trying to make it make human sense rather than just accepting it for what it is in faith and trust, and realising that you are never going to comprehend it in all its fullness, richness and beauty on this side of eternity, and probably not even after that. You are given what you need for the journey as a gift of love. You just need to have faith that you are being guided aright in God's good time and according to His purposes, and that His Love will not let you go, however many blunders you make.

I have made many serious errors in my life, and this was perhaps the biggest of all.

Thank you for your prayers and concern.
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08-02-2007, 08:53 AM
Post: #9
Discussion
Dear Mark,

I suspect this is something we all do, and our society and culture encourage us to think that man is the measure of all things.

I firmly believe in using the intellect God has given us, after all, He would not given us that power if it could not be used for His purposes; but Christianity is a religion of all the senses.

The way it appears to me is how St. Isaac of Nineveh described it, as a threefold way: in the first stage we need our intellects and hearts to apprehend His love and His way and to worship Him; in the second stage we walk in His way and live as part of His Church; the third stage we need no words for, it is one of perpetual prayer in His presence, as we become One in Him.

Like most of us, I'm struggling to keep going on the first stage!

It is always tempting to think that one's own hard-won understanding is Orthodoxy, but, like God, it is bigger than we are, and it is easier to say what Orthodoxy is not sometimes.

In Christ,

John

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)
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08-02-2007, 02:27 PM
Post: #10
Quotes
Quote:'It is important to distinguish "Spirit"...from "spirit". The created spirit of man is not to be identified with the uncreated or Holy Spirit of God, the third person of the Trinity; yet the two are intimately connected, for it is through his spirit that man apprehends God and enters into communion with him...
With his spirit (pneuma), which is sometimes termed nous or spiritual intellect, he understands eternal truth about God or about the logoi or inner essences of created things...by direct apprehension or spiritual perception...'

Bishop Kallistos Ware - 'The Orthodox Way' page 48

Quote:"Man spiritualises the creation first of all by spiritualising his own body and offering it to God...it is the human vocation to manifest the spiritual in and through the material. Christians are in this sense the only true materialists...The body, then, is an integral part of human personhood. The separation of body and soul at death is unnatural, something contrary to God's original plan, that has come about in consequence of the fall. Furthermore, the separation is only temporary: we look forward, beyond death, to the final resurrection on the Last Day, when body and soul will be reunited once again."

page 50
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08-02-2007, 02:44 PM
Post: #11
Donne again
Quote:HOLY SONNETS of John Donne

Death be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for, thou are not soe,
For, those, whome thou think'st, thou dost overthrow,
Die not, poore death, nor yet canst thou kill mee.
From rest and sleepe, which but thy pictures bee,
Much pleasure, then from thee, much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee doe goe,
Rest of their bones, and soules deliverie.
Thou art slave to Fate, Chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poyson, warre, and sicknesse dwell,
And poppie, or charmes can make us sleepe as well,
And better than thy stroake; why swell'st thou then?
One short sleepe past, wee wake eternally,
And death shall be no more; death, thou shalt die
.

Quote:At the round earths imagin'd corners, blow
Your trumpets, Angells, and arise, arise
From death you numberlesse infinities
Of soules, and to your scattered bodies goe,
All whom the flood did, and fire shall o'erthrow,
All whom warre, dearth, age, agues, tyrannies,
Despaire, law, chance, hath slaine, and you whose eyes,
Shall behold God, and never tast deaths woe.
But let them sleepe, Lord, and mee mourne a space,
For, if above all these, my sinnes abound,
'Tis late to aske abundance of thy grace,
When we are there; here on this lowly ground,
Teach mee how to repent; for that's as good
As if thou'hadst seal'd my pardon, with thy blood
.
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08-02-2007, 03:14 PM
Post: #12
 
Dear Mark

I am most grateful to you for posting all of these poems and extracts from poems. It is very easy for me to describe my own Orthodox Faith in doctrinal terms, and there is nothing wrong with this since it is one aspect of Faith, but it is also important to remember that there is a poetry about faith, which is why hymnology is so important to most Christian traditions.

It is good to have a lot of poetry posted here, and much easier to understand some important part of faith than the lengthy essays I am tempted to write and post.

Thanks again

Peter
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08-02-2007, 06:15 PM
Post: #13
Poetry
Dear Mark,

I would like to second Peter's thanks.

For as long as I can remember I have felt that the Christianity I was living and experienced lacked that mystical element that is in the poetry of Donne, or the music of Tallis and Byrd; it did, but Orthodoxy does not. Its focus on the Incarnation and its meaning for us centres us on the mystery of God's workings in the world; there is, in it, a beauty which is of the Lord.

The quotations from +Kallistos are very apposite, and should be pondered upon by us all.

Lord, help thou my unbelief.

In Christ,

John

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)
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09-02-2007, 09:17 AM
Post: #14
Jesus' Poems
Quote:'In the days before the written word became generally available, when books had a mystique attached to them which we can no longer imagine, and when the spoken word was almost the sole means of teaching and mass communication, it was esseential for a teacher so to present his teachings that they would be clearly grasped and remembered. This required of a teacher that he was both poet and storyteller, and there can be little doubt that Jesus was exceedingly accomplished in both media. Most of all perhaps. he was a poet.

The conventions of Hebrew poetry required ideas to rhyme, not just word-endings. Thus Hebrew poetry survives translation essentially intact. All the books of the New Testament were written in that Greek which was the lingua franca of the Eastern Roman Empire. Doubtless Jesus was bilingual to some degree, but his teachings were given in his native Aramaic, and everything that is recorded as being his words is a translation from an Aramaic original. Such is the nature of Hebrew poetry, however, that its poetic form remains essentially intact. Hebrew poetry relied on the repetition of stressed syllables in each line (rhythm); but it is the rhyming of ideas, or, more correctly parallelism, which makes it possible for us to identify what we may reasonably describe as the 'Poems of Jesus'. In his book bearing that name, [Dom Robert] Petitpierre identified almost two hundred poetically constructed teachings in the Gospels.'

'Jesus - Essential Readings' edited and introduced by Anthony Duncan, 1986, Crucible, Thorsons Publishing Group. ISBN 0-85030-555-1
ISBN 0-85030-395-8 Pbk
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09-02-2007, 11:07 AM
Post: #15
Poetry
Dear Mark,

Thank you for these quotations. I find that when all else fails, reading what Our Lord said always works. How well he knows us, His creation.

He sees our tendency to despair, and lifts us; He sees our tendency to spiritual pride and warns us; He sees how swift we are to condemn in our insecurity, and chides us gently; He offers us the path to salvation, but knows our tendency to turn aside from it, and is willing, always, to guide our feet back to it.

In an earlier part of this conversation, Mark, you asked about 'law' and the BOC views, and we had an interesting discussion. It seems to me that we have to take the scope of Our Lord's teachings as a whole, and they are, in mystical fashion, suffused with His love for us. He knew so well the tendency to legalism and that hard, narrow unpoetical view of the religious life that can develop in those inclined to religious belief, and He constantly guides us towards this larger understanding of the purpose of the Incarnation.

There is a perfect example of that in Mark 2:27 when he tells the Pharisees: 'The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.' I should love to hear that said in Aramaic, it has the balance, the potency and the clarity of great poetry.

In Christ,

John

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)
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