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An interesting Podcast to think about

An interesting Podcast to think about

Postby Jesse Hove » 22 Jun 2009, 22:21

Just finished listening to a podcast on the Kingdom of God by an Orthodox priest by the name of Father John Hainsworth.

Here is the link!

http://audio.ancientfaith.com/paradosis ... -27_pc.mp3

I loved his theological breakdown of Parousia and its implication for the Gospels. However, I am not to sure how far I would go with his

"If we could unfold our wills to God's completely, just for day we could feel the warmth of God's heavenly light shine on our physical and spiritual being"

Yes the Kingdom is breaking in, yes there is some combination of holy spirit and human agency, but individual edification or perfection, or closeness to God...whatever you want to call it, is scary business. God is transforming us into his likeness, we are not transforming ourselves into his likeness.

In this sense I really do prefer Wright's Preparing for the Kingdom, not building it ideology. As well as his anti-evolutionary anti-regressive society thoughts (the world is not slowly getting better, nor is it slowly getting worse). While Hainsworth points out that we are working with both bad and good people in the Kingdom, I think that "now, not yet" tension needed an extra sentence or two affirming that oh by the way none of us are going to get it perfect until the second coming (we are both the bad and the good guy). And also that God understands we are not perfect and works with that, he chooses as we are, but does not leave us that way. With a greater emphasis on his will, and not our own.

I think this is also where I agree with Wright when he points out that while protestants might need a deeper understanding of transformation, Orthodox could deepen their salvation theology as well. I think a full understanding of Romans Demands it. Perhaps in a pastoral practical sense they have never needed to, but were a much smaller world! I think in order to become a tighter community we need to work on it!

-Jesse
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Re: An interesting Podcast to think about

Postby rusmeister » 23 Jun 2009, 14:15

Hi Jesse!

Since you yourself are evidently not Orthodox, the only thing I'll say for now is that Orthodox people don't have opinions on their theology (in the sense of teachings). They accept it - or don't, and are subsequently not Orthodox. We can't talk about "deepening our theology" because we didn't make it up in the first place - it was revealed to us - and that the Church HAS the full and correct understanding of Romans, via Tradition which includes the Church fathers, canons, icons, etc.

We can say "I think" about anything that is not dogma. We can't about anything that is. The Church tells us what has been revealed (or if you prefer, we learn it from the Church). We don't tell the Church what to think about theology. Put another way, God tells us - we don't tell Him.

The Orthodox Christian will also say that you need to find and join the Church, and THAT is the only community you should be concerned about being a part of.

But if you like AFR, keep listening! Maybe some things will become clearer further down the road. Even an Orthodox priest is only a fallible man - it is the Tradition that He draws from that is infallible.
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Postby Jesse Hove » 25 Jun 2009, 07:58

LOL that sure does not leave much in the way of ecumenical dialogue! Could you not say God reveals truth through a human beings reasoning, exegesis, and all creation to develop correct doctrine? Surely everything God has taught you did not plop into the early Father's hands one day? If he did that is wonderful!, and you will have to tell me more. If he did not, then when was the doctrine of the Orthodox church completed with nothing left to answer?

Be patient with me! If it took an incredible scholar like Jaroslav Pelikan to the age of 74 to peel back the "layers of Orthodoxy that were always there", Then I fear I have an almost infinite amount of learning to do! :)

-Jesse
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Re:

Postby rusmeister » 25 Jun 2009, 09:13

Jesse Hove wrote:LOL that sure does not leave much in the way of ecumenical dialogue! Could you not say God reveals truth through a human beings reasoning, exegesis, and all creation to develop correct doctrine? Surely everything God has taught you did not plop into the early Father's hands one day? If he did that is wonderful!, and you will have to tell me more. If he did not, then when was the doctrine of the Orthodox church completed with nothing left to answer?

Be patient with me! If it took an incredible scholar like Jaroslav Pelikan to the age of 74 to peel back the "layers of Orthodoxy that were always there", Then I fear I have an almost infinite amount of learning to do! :)

-Jesse


Hi Jesse!
I'm not at all sure that I have the wisdom to give the best answer to your questions, but I'll do my best.
It is well to know what the true stand of the Orthodox Church is, what its teachings actually are, before you speak of ecumenism. It would be falsehood and deception to pretend that the Orthodox position is any other than that the Orthodox Faith IS complete, and needs no instruction from outside the Church (as well as the definition of what that Church is, etc.)

I certainly agree that humans can come to truth through reasoning, exegesis and experience of Creation. But they also can, and do, come to falsehoods via the same.
The ideas "complete" and "nothing left to answer" are not synonymous. The Church has all that is needed. Could we ask more questions about what we don't know? of course. Is there anything essential missing from the Orthodox Church? No.

Orthodoxy is so deep that I am not at all surprised regarding Pelikan's findings. The key point to note is that he DID ultimately convert. So yes, you do have an infinite amount of learning to do. As do I. But we want the source we learn from to be teaching the Truth and nothing but the Truth. If there is anything wrong in the source, then we will be going off in an infinitely wrong direction. (I sincerely hope that we will be rescued by the mercy of God from that - but we must do the best we can with what we are given.)

(Edit) One more thought - in the first century, the Church had everything it needed - St Paul, for example, was instrumental in part in that. In the 4th century, the Church had everything it needed - people like St John Chrysostom brought clarification and wisdom into the Tradition. In the 14th century, the Church had everything it needed - St Gregory Palamas brought light into the question of hesychasm. Etc. At each time, the Church gets what it needs. We are not always able to evaluate all of those needs, but that is what is meant by the Church being complete.
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Orthodox

Postby Jesse Hove » 26 Jun 2009, 06:00

Thank you for some clarifications! I agree with your fleshed out idea of completion, I think....to a point...lol. In modern Christianity Anglicans have their Wright and Lewis style theologians that present solid Christian thought in a simple and inviting format to large groups of people, Catholics have their and Henri Nouwen style guys. Who in the Orthodox church would you suggest to read, that write in similar way?

-Jesse
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Re: Orthodox

Postby rusmeister » 26 Jun 2009, 15:40

Jesse Hove wrote:Thank you for some clarifications! I agree with your fleshed out idea of completion, I think....to a point...lol. In modern Christianity Anglicans have their Wright and Lewis style theologians that present solid Christian thought in a simple and inviting format to large groups of people, Catholics have their and Henri Nouwen style guys. Who in the Orthodox church would you suggest to read, that write in similar way?

-Jesse

My #1 rec. is Fr Alexander Schmemann. You have to discover him for yourself, though. I think we would all envy such men, full of joy, light and gratitude.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander_Schmemann
http://www.schmemann.org/
My wife swears by his diaries (1973-1983), and the last entries are what I hope I will be able to say when I am dying...

Also Fr Alexander Men, but it is harder to get his stuff in English, and he is (unjustly) considered by some to be excessively ecumenical - I see it as his realization that others, while outside the Church, do also have (sometimes significant) portions of that fullness of the Truth.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander_Men
http://www.alexandermen.com/Main_Page

Many like Fr Seraphim Rose - I haven't read as much but his story is quite interesting.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seraphim_Rose
Check out this site related to him for a weird approach to Orthodoxy:
http://www.deathtotheworld.com/
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Re: An interesting Podcast to think about

Postby postodave » 29 Jun 2009, 20:00

One more thought - in the first century, the Church had everything it needed - St Paul, for example, was instrumental in part in that. In the 4th century, the Church had everything it needed - people like St John Chrysostom brought clarification and wisdom into the Tradition. In the 14th century, the Church had everything it needed - St Gregory Palamas brought light into the question of hesychasm. Etc. At each time, the Church gets what it needs. We are not always able to evaluate all of those needs, but that is what is meant by the Church being complete.

That was very well put Rus. My question then would be how much of what the Church (in the sense of the OC) needs at any time could come from sources outside it. For example how much of Chrysostom's wisdom comes from his classical education. Pelikan wrote a very interesting book on the relation between the Cappadocian's and classical culture - how they were able to draw from the best of pagan philosophy. When you look at the practices involved in Hesychasm it is plain, as Kalistos Ware almost admits, that these were influenced by Hindu and Muslim mysticism. So why should the OC not find some of what it needs in the present day in Protestantism.
There is a very interesting story told by Metropolitan Paulos Mar Gregorios. At a meeting of the WCC, of which he was at the time chairman, the Metropolitan had stressed the importance of interfaith dialogue; he wanted to learn from those of other religions. A Norwegian Lutheran Bishop asked, 'In what sense does the Chairman find the revelation in Jesus Christ so insufficient that he has to go to the non-Christians to learn the truth?' To which the Metropolitan replied, 'In this sense that the Chairman is not so fortunate as his friend the bishop from Norway, who seems to have so mastered the revelation in Jesus Christ, that he is so totally self satisfied and does not feel any need to learn from others.' He adds that his non-Christian friends saw for themselves the shameful narrow-mindedness of European (i.e. Western) Christianity. When I compare some of the modern Orthodox Christians with those of a generation ago I cannot help thinking that it is the Orthodox Church that is now retreating into narrow-minded defensiveness.
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Re: An interesting Podcast to think about

Postby rusmeister » 30 Jun 2009, 13:17

postodave wrote:
One more thought - in the first century, the Church had everything it needed - St Paul, for example, was instrumental in part in that. In the 4th century, the Church had everything it needed - people like St John Chrysostom brought clarification and wisdom into the Tradition. In the 14th century, the Church had everything it needed - St Gregory Palamas brought light into the question of hesychasm. Etc. At each time, the Church gets what it needs. We are not always able to evaluate all of those needs, but that is what is meant by the Church being complete.

That was very well put Rus. My question then would be how much of what the Church (in the sense of the OC) needs at any time could come from sources outside it. For example how much of Chrysostom's wisdom comes from his classical education. Pelikan wrote a very interesting book on the relation between the Cappadocian's and classical culture - how they were able to draw from the best of pagan philosophy. When you look at the practices involved in Hesychasm it is plain, as Kalistos Ware almost admits, that these were influenced by Hindu and Muslim mysticism. So why should the OC not find some of what it needs in the present day in Protestantism.
There is a very interesting story told by Metropolitan Paulos Mar Gregorios. At a meeting of the WCC, of which he was at the time chairman, the Metropolitan had stressed the importance of interfaith dialogue; he wanted to learn from those of other religions. A Norwegian Lutheran Bishop asked, 'In what sense does the Chairman find the revelation in Jesus Christ so insufficient that he has to go to the non-Christians to learn the truth?' To which the Metropolitan replied, 'In this sense that the Chairman is not so fortunate as his friend the bishop from Norway, who seems to have so mastered the revelation in Jesus Christ, that he is so totally self satisfied and does not feel any need to learn from others.' He adds that his non-Christian friends saw for themselves the shameful narrow-mindedness of European (i.e. Western) Christianity. When I compare some of the modern Orthodox Christians with those of a generation ago I cannot help thinking that it is the Orthodox Church that is now retreating into narrow-minded defensiveness.

I should reiterate that I am by no means either a very good or official spokesman for the Orthodox Church. I am just a layman that happens to be here.
However, when I say that the Church has everything it needs - that is at all times. In other words, there are no hiati(?) when the Church doesn't have what it needs and needs to go outside the Church to get it. The people who rise and bring something do so within the Church, and in accordance with all of existing Tradition. Furthermore, it cannot be taken as an Orthodox teaching until, as I said, either an ecumenical Council declares it to be so, or over a period of (by now) centuries a teaching is universally accepted.

On "narrow-minded", I would refer to the many things GKC said on narrow-mindedness, and challenge the very term.
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Re: An interesting Podcast to think about

Postby Bluegoat » 30 Jun 2009, 14:13

rusmeister wrote:Hi Jesse!

Since you yourself are evidently not Orthodox, the only thing I'll say for now is that Orthodox people don't have opinions on their theology (in the sense of teachings). They accept it - or don't, and are subsequently not Orthodox. We can't talk about "deepening our theology" because we didn't make it up in the first place - it was revealed to us - and that the Church HAS the full and correct understanding of Romans, via Tradition which includes the Church fathers, canons, icons, etc.

We can say "I think" about anything that is not dogma. We can't about anything that is. The Church tells us what has been revealed (or if you prefer, we learn it from the Church). We don't tell the Church what to think about theology. Put another way, God tells us - we don't tell Him.

The Orthodox Christian will also say that you need to find and join the Church, and THAT is the only community you should be concerned about being a part of.

But if you like AFR, keep listening! Maybe some things will become clearer further down the road. Even an Orthodox priest is only a fallible man - it is the Tradition that He draws from that is infallible.



It seems then that the Church Fathers were not Orthodox!? Or those who attended the councils, or put together the creeds, or tried to figure out how to describe Jesus! Very shocking!

Or what about those who work to explain theological doctrines and how they relate to new technology, or how scientific discoveries or social movements relate to doctrine?

Those things are the work of theologians, and could represent additions to, or drawing out of, theology.
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Re: An interesting Podcast to think about

Postby rusmeister » 30 Jun 2009, 18:14

Bluegoat wrote:
rusmeister wrote:Hi Jesse!

Since you yourself are evidently not Orthodox, the only thing I'll say for now is that Orthodox people don't have opinions on their theology (in the sense of teachings). They accept it - or don't, and are subsequently not Orthodox. We can't talk about "deepening our theology" because we didn't make it up in the first place - it was revealed to us - and that the Church HAS the full and correct understanding of Romans, via Tradition which includes the Church fathers, canons, icons, etc.

We can say "I think" about anything that is not dogma. We can't about anything that is. The Church tells us what has been revealed (or if you prefer, we learn it from the Church). We don't tell the Church what to think about theology. Put another way, God tells us - we don't tell Him.

The Orthodox Christian will also say that you need to find and join the Church, and THAT is the only community you should be concerned about being a part of.

But if you like AFR, keep listening! Maybe some things will become clearer further down the road. Even an Orthodox priest is only a fallible man - it is the Tradition that He draws from that is infallible.



It seems then that the Church Fathers were not Orthodox!? Or those who attended the councils, or put together the creeds, or tried to figure out how to describe Jesus! Very shocking!

Or what about those who work to explain theological doctrines and how they relate to new technology, or how scientific discoveries or social movements relate to doctrine?

Those things are the work of theologians, and could represent additions to, or drawing out of, theology.


The enormous thing that needs to be pointing out regarding the Fathers and theologians is that nothing that they come to can contradict established Tradition. What they wrote and said clarified dogma, and in general, only as much as necessary as to combat heresy. Thus, those that justify same-sex acts, for example, are already out of line. Or women priests. It contradicts established Tradition. Such things say that the early Church, middle-age Church and all Christians up to the 20th century were wrong.

My point was that the Orthodox believer does not think that he may define the faith on his own understanding. He looks to the Tradition that is already there and does not contradict it or make anything up. In Orthodoxy, you will find a lot of discussion on new things, but very little dogma on them - for the simple reason that dogma takes centuries to be universally recognized. Theology is something that just doesn't move quickly in Orthodoxy.
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Re: An interesting Podcast to think about

Postby postodave » 30 Jun 2009, 23:38

As I understand your argument Rus:
I had pointed out that Paulos Mar Gregorios, a Metropolitan of the Orthodox Church had suggested that a Christian who refused to learn from those outside the Church was narrow-minded. You countered this by suggesting that the term narrow-minded was invalid and did so by referring to the arguments of Chesterton. Chesterton is someone who is by your reckoning outside the Church. So you demonstrate that it is invalid to say it is narrow-minded to refuse to draw wisdom from outside the Church by drawing wisdom from outside the Church.
I just don't get you Rus. Are you simply saying that those dogmas affirmed by the Church through the ecumenical councils are permanently valid or are you saying something altogether more nebulous about tradition?
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Re: An interesting Podcast to think about

Postby rusmeister » 01 Jul 2009, 02:10

postodave wrote:As I understand your argument Rus:
I had pointed out that Paulos Mar Gregorios, a Metropolitan of the Orthodox Church had suggested that a Christian who refused to learn from those outside the Church was narrow-minded. You countered this by suggesting that the term narrow-minded was invalid and did so by referring to the arguments of Chesterton. Chesterton is someone who is by your reckoning outside the Church. So you demonstrate that it is invalid to say it is narrow-minded to refuse to draw wisdom from outside the Church by drawing wisdom from outside the Church.
I just don't get you Rus. Are you simply saying that those dogmas affirmed by the Church through the ecumenical councils are permanently valid or are you saying something altogether more nebulous about tradition?

We are talking at cross-purposes.
When I speak about Chesterton (or Lewis or other non-Orthodox thinkers), I am talking about someone from whom I can learn thinking and speaking. It is an enormous advantage and pleasure that his position is practically Orthodox. However, I do not propose to learn Orthodox teachings or positions from him. Where he contradicts Orthodoxy, he is wrong, plain and simple, and he has nothing to offer Orthodox theology.
So in speaking of "narrow-minded", in terms of language, it is entirely possible, even probable, that there can be Orthodox speakers, even leaders, who use imprecise or inaccurate language. Furthermore, the statements of even an Orthodox leader somewhere are not binding on theology. For the present, I need to listen, first and foremost, to MY Bishop. As far as others go, any questions of a non-dogmatic nature are debatable. However, I will take any metropolitan's comments on theology seriously. In his opinions on modern thinking, though (non-dogma), a given leader is not specially superior. If the metropolitan is speaking about non-dogmatic theological issues - such as skills of logic and debate, or how to perform CPR, I agree with him. If he is speaking about Orthodox theology, then he is un-Orthodox. I somehow doubt the latter. It is probable that he was speaking about general knowledge/skills, which we can learn, of course, from anybody.

If something is a dogma purporting to be eternal truth, then of course, it is eternally true (permanently valid, if you like). So 'homosexuality' is an unquestioned sin. There can be no debate, except by people who reject that 2,000 Tradition - be they Christian or unbeliever. If they reject that Tradition, they are already outside the Church.
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Re: An interesting Podcast to think about

Postby Bluegoat » 01 Jul 2009, 13:14

rusmeister wrote:
Bluegoat wrote:
rusmeister wrote:Hi Jesse!

Since you yourself are evidently not Orthodox, the only thing I'll say for now is that Orthodox people don't have opinions on their theology (in the sense of teachings). They accept it - or don't, and are subsequently not Orthodox. We can't talk about "deepening our theology" because we didn't make it up in the first place - it was revealed to us - and that the Church HAS the full and correct understanding of Romans, via Tradition which includes the Church fathers, canons, icons, etc.

We can say "I think" about anything that is not dogma. We can't about anything that is. The Church tells us what has been revealed (or if you prefer, we learn it from the Church). We don't tell the Church what to think about theology. Put another way, God tells us - we don't tell Him.

The Orthodox Christian will also say that you need to find and join the Church, and THAT is the only community you should be concerned about being a part of.

But if you like AFR, keep listening! Maybe some things will become clearer further down the road. Even an Orthodox priest is only a fallible man - it is the Tradition that He draws from that is infallible.



It seems then that the Church Fathers were not Orthodox!? Or those who attended the councils, or put together the creeds, or tried to figure out how to describe Jesus! Very shocking!

Or what about those who work to explain theological doctrines and how they relate to new technology, or how scientific discoveries or social movements relate to doctrine?

Those things are the work of theologians, and could represent additions to, or drawing out of, theology.


The enormous thing that needs to be pointing out regarding the Fathers and theologians is that nothing that they come to can contradict established Tradition. What they wrote and said clarified dogma, and in general, only as much as necessary as to combat heresy. Thus, those that justify same-sex acts, for example, are already out of line. Or women priests. It contradicts established Tradition. Such things say that the early Church, middle-age Church and all Christians up to the 20th century were wrong.

My point was that the Orthodox believer does not think that he may define the faith on his own understanding. He looks to the Tradition that is already there and does not contradict it or make anything up. In Orthodoxy, you will find a lot of discussion on new things, but very little dogma on them - for the simple reason that dogma takes centuries to be universally recognized. Theology is something that just doesn't move quickly in Orthodoxy.



I would agree for the sake of argument that the Fathers did not contradict tradition - though they do at times disagree with each other over what tradition says. But they did very much further define theological ideas, and add things that most certainly were not there explicitly before, that could easily have been interpreted another way. One might say that they were implied by what was already there (as St Thomas said of the filioque clause :wink: ). Given the very fundamental nature of the doctrines which they developed, and the way that those did not exist in any thought out way before, I think it would be fair to call it a "deepening of theology" at the very least.

It just seems to me that you are underplaying the theological work that went on in those early days, and also assuming that because it took a long time, we can't have any theological work go on now. I don't see how this follows. (And certianly some of the theology that went on then, as now, was misguided or simply proved to be moving in the wrong direction.)
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Re: An interesting Podcast to think about

Postby rusmeister » 01 Jul 2009, 19:57

Bluegoat wrote:
I would agree for the sake of argument that the Fathers did not contradict tradition - though they do at times disagree with each other over what tradition says. But they did very much further define theological ideas, and add things that most certainly were not there explicitly before, that could easily have been interpreted another way. One might say that they were implied by what was already there (as St Thomas said of the filioque clause :wink: ). Given the very fundamental nature of the doctrines which they developed, and the way that those did not exist in any thought out way before, I think it would be fair to call it a "deepening of theology" at the very least.

It just seems to me that you are underplaying the theological work that went on in those early days, and also assuming that because it took a long time, we can't have any theological work go on now. I don't see how this follows. (And certianly some of the theology that went on then, as now, was misguided or simply proved to be moving in the wrong direction.)


Hi BG!
Additional clarifications -
Of course theological work can go on - but Orthodox dogma is a narrow concept - no ideas can become dogma without undergoing the processes of time and universal acceptance. In the meantime, people can have opinions - as long as they are clear that that is what they are, and those opinions do not contradict existing Tradition.

I also don't deny that what you call "deepening" (which I called 'clarification' earlier) has happened constantly. The thing I do deny is that modern Christians can contradict the Tradition received through paradosis - that teachings cannot change 180 degrees - so again, same-sex acts are grave sin, even though desires and temptations are not. That kind of change - the remarkable reversals of 20th century Christianity - is above all what I am speaking to.
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Re: An interesting Podcast to think about

Postby postodave » 01 Jul 2009, 22:30

Hi Rus
I really need to give you an idea of the kind of thing Metropolitan Mar Gregorios was talking about and you can decide what categories you would like to put them in. To me thinking and speaking is always thinking and speaking about something, unless you are saying you could learn the techniques of logic and rhetoric from Lewis and Chesterton which I'm sure you could but not sure why you would want to.
Here's a sample from the metropolitan:
'I have learned from the Jains . . . that all statements are conditional and qualified truth, which have to be supplemented and completed by other truths . . . I have learned from the Buddhists that all epistemology is finally without basis.'

Does that help. He's not that interested in debate you see. I find his approach to his faith is opposite to yours in almost every respect as I think you will begin to realise if you read some of his work. For example where you say the Orthodox Church is the only community an Orthodox Christian should be interested in belonging to he would say it is vital for Christians to participate in other spiritual communities and cites Lewis's old friend Bede Griffiths as an example of this. So yes I am certain he would say it would be possible for Orthodox Christians to deepen their salvation theology by understanding the perspective different religious traditions have on salvation. Well don't take my word check out his web site.
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