St. Stephen's Musings

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:: Friday, November 14, 2003 ::

The Link Between Orthopraxis and Orthodoxy

Phil asks, "How do you step outside of modernism or post-modernism theologically? How can we think about God in ways other than through the prism of our own culture/context? Can it be done?"

I wrote--The way in which you frame your last question is a clue..."How can we think about God ..?" The Church Fathers and the Tradition of the Church say that coming to a true knowledge and understanding of God comes, not through thinking (although this is needed) but first and foremost through purification of the soul.

This is accomplished primarily through prayer, participation in the sacraments, and the ascetic life-- not through rational analysis (modernism) nor through "experiences" (postmodernism). This is how the Orthodox Christian "steps out" of his particular culture/philosophy/opinions etc....we allow ourselves to be fully formed by "the mind of Christ" as it has been preserved in the Church's incarnational way of life.--

Jennifer writes on this topic also. I love this line: "In the early days of Christianity, converts weren't immediately subjected to lectures on homoosious and such."

Later, talking about "liberal" churches, she notes that "you might argue you have people behaving like Christians but believing like Unitarians. Well, actually, what you have is people behaving like humanitarians and believing like Unitarians. If we want to make disciples of Christ, we're going to have to reexamine what Christian practices are and why we do them - beyond a 'we feed the poor because Jesus said to.'"

When I was in the process of becoming Orthodox I remember asking a pious, well-educated Protestant friend to give me one concrete, practical, reason how the orthodox doctrine of the Trinity made a difference in his spiritual life. His response was a weak smile, a shrug of the shoulders, and a concession that in many ways "doctrine" and "spiritual practice" had very little to do with each other in the Protestant world. We need this link between praxis and doxa; otherwise our worship becomes misinformed and our praxis becomes self-serving.

Update: Jim quotes some great passages from Bishop Ware's "The Orthodox Way" on some of the practical ways the doctrine of the Trinity informs our praxis.

Update II: Josh doesn't like the way I worded this post because he sees some mysterious dichotomy between "faith" and praxis. He also doesn't care for the idea that purity of soul is a prerequisite to see God. I hate to break this to you, but I didn't make this up!

:: Karl :: 8:12:00 AM [Link] ::

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