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:: Friday, December 05, 2003 ::

Are you a Finder or a Seeker....Or Something Else? Part II:

"One of the settled but largely unspoken pieties of our time is the notion that 'seekers' have greater moral authority than 'finders.' It is a silly piety when stated clearly. But whenever it is openly challenged, one sees how entrenched it is," writes McClay from the article referenced in Part I.

Boy, is he right. From the intensity we bring to our discussions of how truth, tolerance, and the Gospel intertwine, it is clear that we need to have a more holistic understanding of what it truly means to be both a seeker and a finder.

No doubt, fundamentalism puts far too great an emphasis on the finding of truth and not much on the journey of repentance and Christian growth. As a reaction to this the current tendency is to over-emphasize the seeking and to down-play all truth claims so as to permit people to "explore" their faith.

A classic sentiment from this worldview is that Christianity is "...about walking with God, not getting my theological ducks in a row."

What we fail to see is that both those who stop once they have some of the truth and those who revel in semi-darkenss of the existential "journey" are only half correct--and thus both end up being dead-ends in the spiritual life.

The Gospel and the teaching of the Church is clear--seeking and finding are not to be put in opposition to one another but rather are intimately linked and, in the lives of the saints, perpetually lead to one another.

A walk with God that leads one to eschew theology is no walk because it refuses the signposts God has given us through His Church; and a theology that doesn't lead to real faith and real praxis is nothing but empty words and lifeless. As St. Ephraim said, "Those who pray truly are theologians; and those who are truly theologians, pray."

Let us not fail to complete the paradox!

"Seek and ye shall find" tells us plainly that both are to be prized. Literally this verse translates from the Greek into "Keep seeking...." It is a active verb. Thus it is in the finding that we have something (or rather Someone) to seek; and it is in the seeking that we will find Him.

A convert to Orthodoxy once told me that, as a Protestant, she felt like she was "running around a racetrack." She was so busy seeking the newest fad "spiritual practice", or popular Christian book, or alt. worship scene that she never found any truth worth keeping. She was encouraged to be a "seeker" but was never shown what the goal was nor examples of people who had really found it.

The racetrack was a dead-end; she was training for a race that never began.

The irony was that once she found the Orthodox Church she was able to really seek God because she had a foundation and a Truth from which to journey from and, more importantly, more deeply into to. She had both found and been found.

As that amazing quote from Chesterton points out, the only way to truly be a seeker (or to attract people who are seeking the truth) is to have found it yourself. Fidelity wins people more than novelty and relevance.

But the key is, having found the Truth you continue to seek it. "Father up and further in" as Lewis wrote. Let us all seek to find and having found, continue to seek.

Update: (inserting tongue in cheek...) Mesmerized by the magnificent prose of this post, NeoTheologe *almost* considered converting to Orthodoxy. I'll keep trying!

:: Karl :: 8:17:00 AM [Link] ::

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