14 April 2012

East vs. West??

Several times I've read and even participated in discussions concerning the differences between Orthodox and Catholic theology. Too often I see that these differences are boiled down to "East vs. West." For example, it is simplistically implied that to become Orthodox is to reject Western philosophical categories or Western theological approaches, upon which is blamed every heresy (real or imagined).

I think, however, the differences in Eastern and Western Christian approaches are too often overdrawn. Differences in approach have existed since before the schism and, too often, they are magnified out of proportion. When this is done, acceptable distinctions become seemingly inseparable differences. A regrettable result is that these differences are laid at the foot of the West generally or a Western approach; or vice versa. The problem, in my view and in the view of some Orthodox and Catholic theologians, is not the West or the East but these distorted magnifications which overwhelm or skew or (in a few cases) negate these different but acceptable approaches. The solution is to eschew the simplistic tendency to blame the West, and to embrace the good which both approaches offer. 


Steve Robinson said...

After being guilty of promulgating "east/west differences" I agree... there is room in the house for using different metaphors to announce the same event.

gokil aja said...

i like nice post ^^

David Jay Webber said...

I come late to this blog entry, but I'll comment anyway. I agree. The Fathers of the ancient undivided church even then did exhibit differences in emphasis and approach. The western Fathers tended toward moralism, and matters of sin and righteousness, while the eastern Fathers tended toward mysticism. If the use of a zoological metaphor can be forgiven, when the "eagle" of the church had the full functionality of both its western wing and its eastern wing, these tendencies balanced each other out. But after the schism, each half of the church sort of "flopped around," with only one functioning wing. The beauty of the church's earlier majestic unified flight was largely lost. That beauty is restored at least in part, to the extent that the western church reintroduces itself to the eastern Fathers, and to the extent that the eastern church reintroduces itself to the western Fathers. Nothing but good can come of that. As a Lutheran, I note that the Father quoted most often by the Reformers in the 16th century was St. Augustine. (No surprise there, I suppose, although personally I wish it had been St. Ambrose instead.) But the Father quoted the second most, was St. John Chrysostom.