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the trinket-sized truth … (Part Four)

April 15, 2014

I can Sense the heat both irregular and regular in some of the readers/followers after having read the last few essays here in SPIR (the trinket-sized truth …). I know that the militant or even semi-militant evangelical, and likely the militant evangelical atheist are grinding their teeth a bit. I Sense fear, and the fear is that I am a threat to their agendas. I am now viewed as subversive. And I am sure there are Orthodox bishops who have touted me as a usurper of “their” Orthodoxy. They needn’t worry; they can have “their” Orthodoxy. They need to give credit where credit is due, however. If God gives talent as Gift, he can certainly take it away (see Parable of the Talents: Matthew 25.14-30). If they find themselves unseated, they’ll know why.

Also, I would be remiss if I did not share that is it the CATHOLICS, and even some Roman Catholics, who like the art. This is telling. I have been told that these paintings will not be realized for some time, quite possibly well after I pass this flesh life. I am okay with that. My point in sharing this is that it is the WEALTH of the Catholic Imagination that permits the spirring.

 

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I was reading up on the incident of Frazier Glenn Miller, the man who shot and killed three people at two establishments. This is being viewed as a hate crime, but interestingly, the grandfather and grandson were of a Lutheran Christian denomination, and the woman was of Roman Catholicism ( what has been in the news). The question I would ask is: Did Miller intend to kill what he thought were “Jews”, or was he intending to kill those who accepted these establishments and used them for their activities and family needs? His true intent is much more telling than how he is being portrayed. I am compelled to view this as a sign of what will be.

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A few have accused me of being anti-religious, or even anti-Catholic, and this is so very far from truth that it borders on its own hate-filled agenda. As one having grown up in a “catholic” society, I have not only the right to speak what is shown to me, but a duty to speak. As a woman of 55, I know all too well where and how subservience was born and raised, and the treatment I received in the religious churches as one interested in learning and sharing is suspect, but I leave that for them now to face.

What I want to share here is something I found to be a worthy read, and I share it not because I adhere to the dictates and practices of Orthodox Christianity, but because I have been told that many (including Roman Catholic priests) view Roman Catholicism and Orthodoxy as the same. What I read, saw and experienced in Eastern Orthodoxy told me that this is not the case. The following are excerpts from the article/link provided.

*I put in bold a few parts I ask the reader to take note of.
Original sin: Orthodox doctrine or heresy?

by Archimandrite Vassilios Papavassiliou

http://pemptousia.com/2012/07/original-sin-orthodox-doctrine-or-heresy-2/

How easily we Orthodox indiscriminately adopt the language of Western theology! It is always a great temptation for those who have converted to Orthodoxy from Western Christian denominations to bring the baggage of their former allegiances with them rather than embrace Orthodoxy as something which is entirely different from the Christianity they left behind. While they may see the Western Christendom of today as alien to the Church of the Fathers, they are sometimes reluctant to accept that not everything from the pre-schism West is part and parcel of Orthodoxy. And yet, the influence of Western theology is to be found not only amongst Orthodox converts in the West, but also among those who have been brought up in the Orthodox Faith in traditionally Orthodox countries such as Greece and Russia. Alas, we Orthodox are too quick to assume that the most ‘hardcore’ fundamentalist views among Western Christians must also be the most ‘correct’ Orthodox ones. Rarely, if ever, is this the case. Heresies always tend to be found at opposite poles. It is not unusual for one heresy to arise in reaction to another. One heresy claims that Christ is not God, another that He is not man. One heresy condemns the veneration of the Virgin Mary as Mother of God, another makes her the Immaculate Conception. One claims that man is saved by grace alone, another that he is saved only by works. Such extremes are not easily embraced by Orthodoxy. True Orthodoxy tends to be the middle-way between the two extremes. This holds true also for the doctrine of ‘Original Sin’. “But wait!” I hear someone protest. “The Orthodox Church does believe in Original Sin!” I would hesitate to say so, at least without serious qualification. I would prefer to say that the Orthodox Church believes in the ‘Ancestral Sin’ (πρωπατορικό ἁμάρτημα). Is this mere semantics? By no means! For anyone who says ‘Original Sin’ is bound to find themselves involved in the doctrine expounded by Augustine and ever since then by the Latin Church, and not that of the Fathers of the Eastern Orthodox Church. I intend to illustrate that the Orthodox understanding of Ancestral Sin is a far cry from that of Augustine, and that, despite the fact that the Latin doctrine of Original Sin was never formally condemned as heretical in the East, it is, nonetheless, not that of the Orthodox Church.

Augustine and Pelagius
Augustine’s doctrine of Original Sin was born from his attempt to combat the heresy of Pelagianism. The controversy began in Romewhen the British monk, Pelagius, opposed Augustine’s prayer: “Grant what you command, and command what you desire”. Pelagius was opposing the idea that the divine gift of grace was necessary to perform the will of God. Pelagius believed that if we are responsible for obeying the commandments of God, then we must all also have the ability to do so without divine aid. He went on to deny the doctrine of Ancestral Sin, arguing that the consequences of Adam’s sin are not passed on to the rest of mankind. Adam’s sin affected Adam alone, and thus infants at birth are in the same state as Adam was before the Fall.

Augustine took a starkly different view of the Fall, arguing that mankind is utterly sinful and incapable of good. Augustine believed that the state of Original Sin leaves us in such a condition that we are unable to refrain from sin. The ‘image of God’ in man (i.e., free will) was destroyed by the Fall. As much as we may choose to do good, our evil impulses pervert our free will and compel us to do evil. Therefore we are totally dependent upon grace.

So far did Augustine take his grim view of the human condition, that he argued not only that the Original Sin effects all of Adam’s descendants, but that each person is guilty of the Original Sin from birth (Original Guilt). Infants are therefore guilty of sin and thus infants who die before baptism, in which (according to Augustine) the guilt of Original Sin is removed, are condemned to perdition and cannot be saved. As if that was not bad enough, Augustine went on to formulate the doctrine of Predestination, which affirms that God has foreordained who will be saved and who will not.

Augustine prevailed and Pelagius was condemned as a heretic by Romeat the Council of Carthage in 418. It seemed that Pelagius’ views were more reprehensible to the Latin Church than the idea of predestination and babies burning in hell – views that the Latin Church was not only willing to tolerate, but even willing to champion as Orthodox doctrine!

St John Chrysostom
Between Augustine and Pelagius there appeared to be no middle-way in the West. A different view, however, was expressed in the East by Augustine’s contemporary, John Chrysostom. The dispute between Augustine and Pelagius had not reached the East, and so Chrysostom’s views were not so agitated by heated disputes and polemics. Were Chrysostom involved in the dispute between Augustine and Pelagius, perhaps his teaching on Ancestral Sin would have prevailed over both Pelagius and Augustine alike, but considering that the sole concern of the Latin Church seemed to be the condemnation of Pelagianism, it is probably more likely that he would have been condemned as semi-pelagian.[i] Whatever the case, Chrysostom’s views on the subject have never enjoyed the attention they deserve, and the heated nature of the dispute in the West meant that the doctrine of ‘Original Sin’ as expounded by Augustine was regarded as the only safeguard against the heresy of Pelagianism.

Chrysostom, while claiming that all human beings are made in the image of God, believed that the Ancestral Sin brought corruptibility and death not only to Adam but to all his descendants, weakening his ability to grow into God’s likeness, but never destroying God’s image (free will). Chrysostom is a major voice within a consensus of Greek patristic writers who interpret the Fall as “an inheritance essentially of mortality rather than sinfulness, sinfulness being merely a consequence of mortality”.[ii] Chrysostom’s position is echoed, for example, by St Athanasius the Great and St Cyril of Alexandria, who claimed that we are not guilty of Adam’s sin, though we inherit a corrupted nature; but our free will remains intact. This Greek patristic interpretation is founded upon Romans 5:12: “As sin came into the world through one man, and through sin, death, so death spread to all men because all men have sinned”[iii]. John Meyendorff explains how the deficient Latin translation of the text may have contributed to such a stark difference in the Latin interpretation of the Ancestral Sin:

‘In this passage there is a major issue of translation. The last four Greek words were translated in Latin as in quo omnes peccaverunt (“in whom [i.e., in Adam] all men have sinned”), and this translation was used in the West to justify the guilt inherited from Adam and spread to his descendants. But such a meaning cannot be drawn from the original Greek’.[iv]

 

Do read the rest of the article.

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I have experienced Augustine of Hippo as a two-fisted patriarch. I do not agree with his original sin indoctrination. As a matter of fact, the first time I ever read anything on this, I asked, “What the hell is original sin? Sin is sin!” Amusing, I know. But what is not so amusing is how it has fed and fueled the masses. One area where I differ on Orthodox Christian and Roman Catholic/Catholic theology is in the Understanding of man—what is man. I Understand there is a process in the unification unto CHURCH (Matthew 16.18), and that there are spheres (or planes) of Spiritual Growth that moves one from man to human to ___. Infants are, of course, seen as innocent, and I can’t imagine a God who would reject any infant, even an aborted life, if he were not dipped or sprinkled with water. It’s an absurd thought, really. Infants and children who pass the flesh life move into growth AND partnering in a place of Spiritual nourishment. They do not stop growing, but continue their “purposeful and rightful” inheritance. This is not in any way intended to take gift and responsibility away from parent—MALE or FEMALE—or to encourage death of life. It is to encourage GROWTH—primarily, SPIRITUAL GROWTH.

Where I see both Roman Catholic and Orthodox as being hooked (yoked … like the ox and the ass; see Deuteronomy 22.11-9), and unable to increase in Understanding, is, in part, that they view MAN as man, and woman as separate. They even say Jesus was part man. I Understand Jesus as having been part HUMAN, not man. There is a significant difference. And I wonder how Holy Scripture was translated in this. Was it not understood when translated? Was there another NAME, or title, not clarified? Also, I see man and woman as equal, born with different physical attributes, also intended for gift, and proper use, but not different in the capacity for Spiritual Person, if willing. If you Understand the Spiritual Partnering, or Spiritual Uniting, which is necessary for coming INTO the Spirit, you Understand [this Person.]

 

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What I find completely unacceptable is the idea that God stamped certain ‘religious’ ordination and creed as His Authority, and nothing or no “one” outside his thinking is permitted entrance … but that’s okay, these can remain “boxed” while the rest of us continue in that reach for greater good in the Spirit Admittance. As I have said here in SPIR, John Chrysostom was angelkind, and well as Ignatius of God, and so, I do not dismiss all that these have been GIFTED for use, but I also Understand the ENERGY within Perpetual Movement within the Spirit. John Chysostom did not know all there was to know … Ignatius did not know all there was to know … and these were not expected to know all for their time, nor were they to be bridled and used as a nexus. The link comes after, not before. Even these are still at Work, streaming for UNIFICATION In Spirit.

 

You must be wondering, what is angelkind? This, for another time.

 

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Peace and Love.

 

 

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