14 July 2008

Defining Faith

The word "faith" is variously defined and is used poplularly in many different ways. In addition, in theological or religious studies, the word "faith" is narrowly or broadly defined, depending on how it is distinguished from "belief" or other synonyms. One helpful synonym that I often use is "trust." However, these definitions, while helpful, tend toward the abstract. In other words, they don't give an experiential picture of what it means to have faith.

Let me suggest, then, the following working definition:
Faith is living against the fears and doubts that arise from the flaws, imperfections, disappointments and afflictions brought on us by others or ourselves.
The devil plays on these turmoils to increase fear and doubt in our mind and soul. To live against these is to live as if they will not control either our life in God or our love for another. For to let them control us is to fall into pride and selfishness--which is the mother of fear since fear is fundamentally the child of the the lie that we matter most.

10 July 2008

Morey & Orthodoxy

A brother priest yesterday brought to my attention that Robert A. Morey's book "Is Eastern Orthodoxy Christian?" has recently received some laudatory "air-time" in a recently weekly publication distributed to various Lutherans (and others). I've not read this book, and know nothing of Morey except what he has written about himself and what I found here.

What I found interesting are the reviews or comments to his book as they appear near the bottom of the Amazon website.

The brother priest asked if a response to the publication would be helpful. Knowing the publication and its desire not to inform but to promote a certain view of Lutheranism, and its propensity of twisting words, I suggested that my brother priest leave it alone. Having now skimmed the outline and the reviews, my suggestion remains firmly entrenched.

Errors of Time

So what do the Lutheran debates about the "moment" of consecration (or the endurability of the enduring Eucharistic presence) have in common with the current Anglican/Episcopalian angst that they are no longer--or are not--Church? I believe, with Fr Hogg, that there is a common thread and, with him, also connect that thread to other errors. In fact, I'll press the point a bit further--ultimately the errors that Fr Hogg identifies are rooted in a form of Nestorianism. (You see, in the end its all about Christology.)

Let me suggest that, at root, Nestorianism, as well as the other errors, are errors of time. That is, they are errors because they are attempts by man to bind eternal divine mysteries to a particular point of time. Time, of course, is a creature, and the passing (or winding down) of time is an indication of death. Hence, by binding eternal mysteries to a particular point of time, the divine is forced to be a creature, and life is forced to deal with death on death's terms.

"Forced to be" is a specifically chosen phrase in order to indicate that man is insisting that God and His mysteries answer to our way of thinking. But that is not the right order of things. The right order is that God assumes humanity, and life swallows up death. Hence, moments of time are transformed into eternal realities--rather than eternal realities being confined to time. Therefore, the mystery of Christ's incarnation, His mystical Supper, His mystical Body, etc. are divine mysteries which, by locating themselves within time, thereby transform time.

The clearest indication of this is the sacrifice of Christ which takes a particular moment (the crucifixion) and "crashes it down" at all times and in all places during the Mass/Divine Liturgy.

Much of this, as you'll notice, depends upon St Augustine's brilliant analysis of time, by which He shows that events in time can become, by God's mercy, the "eternal now."

Thoughts on Today's Blog Reading

My busy summer schedule has not permitted me much time to attend to my blog. Yet today, for whatever reason, I took the time to read a few of my favorite blogs. My attention was first caught by an inter-Lutheran debate on how long the Body and Blood of Christ remain the Body and Blood of Christ. Having once entered into these debates, I read extensively various sources. In the end, I found--and still find--them to be rather tedious since the debate often boils down to "my Martin trumps your Martin." See here, here, here and here if you're interested.

That bit of reading led me elsewhere. I read the angst of Church of England bishops (see here, here and here) who are distraught both (a) that the latest final straw has been reached in discovering that the Church of England is not the Church, and (b) that Rome (no mention of Orthodoxy) does not accept them as the Church.

I sympathize with these bishops (as I do also with the above mentioned Lutherans) because I know from experience how hard it is, in the midst of debate or angst, to step back and see what seems clear to others.

Finally, I was led to Fr Gregory Hogg's blog. He seems to be commenting on these, and other, discussions when he suggests a similarity in the line of thought between the errors of "receptionism," the Protestant definition of visible/invisible (or hidden/revealed, if you prefer) Church, Nestorianism, Barthianism, etc. I think he's on to something, but he admits he is having difficulty classifing the similarities.

One commentator suggested that the common theme is reductionism. What I suggest is my next post. So "stay tuned." :)

04 July 2008

Yesterday's Requiem

Yesterday, our dear friend and mentor, the Very Reverend Fathers David (Charles) Lynch, was laid to rest.

Presiding from the throne was His Grace, Bishop MARK. The celebrant was the Rt. Rev. John Mangels, the predecessor and successor to Fr David at St Augustine of Hippo Orthodox Church in Denver. Assisting were Fr. Nicholas Alford of St Gregory the Great Orthodox Church in Washington DC and yours truly. Fr John Connely of St Mark Orthodox Church in Denver assisted at the interment and, with Subdeacon Benjamin Anderson, formed the Schola. Fr Patrick Reardon of All Saints Orthodox Church was the homilist. Several other Orthodox clergy from the Antiochian Archdiocese and the Orthodox Church in America were also in attendance.