According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for
this world to recreate, reclaim, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater
Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of
explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger
Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton
I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. - anon
Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII
Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut
Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest
People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. - anon
... Certainly God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater
An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater
Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann
Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument.
There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is
irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a
power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner
Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14)
Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton
The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table
to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens we show to the world what love, justice, peace,
reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants
us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. - anon
The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul

Sunday, March 29, 2015

"Blessed are the Poor": Striving for the Spiritual Non-Possession of Biblical Interpretation






... the question of how to protect Christian tradition from reification may perhaps find the
most satisfactory but also the most difficult answer: by not allowing it to become our
possession,  either in terms of universalising the past or particularizing the eschatological.
History would thus not be tied down by tradition, and tradition would not be reduced to the historical.

... Normative tradition in this sense would not tie history down, but rather testify an ongoing
possibility to encounter the transcendent and loving God whose victory is ultimately not
dependent on the historical projections of the possible.

- Ivana Noble


How does one link the church's past traditions which-are-always-and-in-every-way being re-interpreted by the human imagination of its historical legacies, towards any future eschatological possibility of / the living God / or, / the living Christ's / presence and sublimation of our historical present that it may become real and transforming?

It is in the continual act of submitting our church traditions to the One who is our Tradition by not claiming it as our own that we may morph from generation to generation towards the realisation of the Bride of Christ, the Living Church.

A Church which must always be poor in spirit to receive the Living Word of the Lord to our heart, our mind, and our activities. Without this humility, this meekness, this mindset, we are at all times confronted with our need to legalise the Spirit of God who is very Word Himself unscripted by the heart of man. A Word that must transform us if we are to move forward in any eschatological sense of divine realisation within this world of sin and woe.

Here then is the conumdrum. Not that the Word of God is living and renewing to the heart of man but that the heart of man would idolize the very Word of God which is life itself to make of it a static, possessive language of the heart, desperate for particulars by chaining its weary paths through this hard life onto a leaden script weighed out by the church's own hands, and voices, and feet, unto bonded charters and constitutions. A fallible script of false theologies idolised for their human veracities but not spiritually renewing, nor transforming, as when first pronounced by Him who is the Word of God.

The temptation of our age, as in any age, is to transform God's living words with our own couched within human sentiments, fears, inequalities, and oppressions. To make of it our own kind of personal freedoms vouchsafing our own prejudices, bigotries, and hatreds. This is neither the Gospel of Christ nor the Word of God but become a mean thing spoken by a brutish church whose own veracity is but filthy rags become unstained by the blood of Christ.

But / the living God / living Christ / has provided His very Self as that breakage to our norming heart so that by His living resurrection to our incarnating heart we may, with Him, be raised from the dead to worship this celebrated new life with Holy Spirit freedom and empowerment. One that will embrace the oft-misused Sermon on the Mount's instructions of "beinging of the mind of Christ" and one that would implement the Golden Rule of "loving one another."

This then is the real Apostolic tradition built upon an Apostolic Christ roaring to our hearts Jesus' victory over our many willful deaths on this Easter eve. Nay, let it not be so. Let it not be spoken amongst Christ's church of this blinded wickedness that forestays God's grace and forgiveness.

Let us repent of this evil lest the winnowing hand of our Lord falls upon His children to separate its many crafty wisdoms from those of a humbler congregation knowing right from wrong. That a truer worship of the living God might transform His church by the Spirit of God's relentless application of grace and peace to the very human breast that would deny Christ's possession of itself. That this Church might live beyond its own lusting words and harming traditions to hear anew / the living God  / and / living Christ / so that the generations to come may have hope and not be bounded by death to the sterility of its own religious traditions and legacies. But find within those greater legacies a more meaningful victory and living hope that is pleasing to the very God Himself who rules both night and day.

It is thus, to this kind of Living Bible with its Living Tradition and Living Church that we must chain ourselves ever and always. To be willing to question every non-renewing tradition of our earthly churches succumbed to its many forms of powerful preaching which darkened understanding while pretending a form of holiness but embracing very hell itself. That the Spirit of the Living God who proclaims the Living Christ's Word truly be heard and understood. Whose manna is life-giving against man's own wisdom which takes life away.

Do not be deceived, the Gospel of Christ would free all men and not just some. It would break all bonds and not just some. It would make of enemies friends and of friends new enemies. It would turn child from parent and parent from child. For a wicked gospel of blindness but breathes more blindness. It must be separated from lest darkness reign where it should have been defeated. Discern the falseness of spurious "gospel teachers" who mock and judge and come out from amongst this heathen lot. Do not fear neither them nor their false doctrine. It is the Lord God who must be feared and not mortal man. Amen and Amen.

R.E. Slater
March 29, 2015





* * * * * * * * * * *


History Tied Down by the Normativity of Tradition?

Inversion of Perspective in Orthodox Theology:
Challenges and Problems


Essay Source:

The Shaping of Tradition Context and Normativity

Edited by Colby Dickinson
with the collaboration of Lieven Boeve and Terrence Merrigan

PEETERS
LEUVEN – PARIS – WALPOLE, MA 
2013


... ultimately done. In living out Christian tradition we do not step intothe past, but into the realm of the Spirit, where we are enlightened fromthe eschatological realm of the Resurrection, where the saints, ourFathers and Mothers, are closer to Christ, the Source of Life, than we are. And yet, with Christ’s and their help and advice we have to act. We need “to accept the new, to comprehend it, to make out precisely what it demands of us.”

In her second lecture on a new monasticism Mother Maria takes a further step. Interpreting the beatitude, “Blessed are the poor in spirit”(Mt 5:3), she states that the monastic vow of poverty understood as a striving for non-possession should be expanded to “spiritual non-possession.” This “non-possession” can also be applied to our attitude towards tradition. For Mother Maria the call to live this beatitude and the search for how to do it involve struggling with two vices, miserliness and greed. On the one hand we have to face a loss of certainty with regard to our convictions, and this involves the challenge that salvation may not arrive to us in our way. We cannot give a limit to divine love, according to Mother Maria, not even the limit of our self-preservation. On the other hand we have to struggle against greed for the spiritual riches of the other. Mother Maria states that both of these desires to possess are common in life outside the Church and in distorted understandings within Christianity.

VI. Conclusion

To summarise, we have seen not only how differently “the permanentreference point” was defined, but also various possibilities of decon-structing its ideological potential. Now let us return to the initial ques-tion of how we can speak about the living tradition as normative forhistory, and see how each of the approaches, refined through criticism,may help us.

In order to keep the tradition as living and not reified, Florovsky’s way forward to the roots needed to include innovation into the very requirement of tradition. With this change, pseudomorphosis of tradition would include either ignoring tradition and replacing it with other views, orignoring this very requirement of the tradition to remain alive. His concept of re-hellenisation, when unpacked, was surprisingly less problematicthen his notion of catholic transfiguration. While the re-hellenisation didnot contribute to building a negative identity against the West, a questionremains as to what degree it was used against the Slavic spiritual traditionas praised by the Slavophiles or the Sophiologists. Catholic transfiguration is, in my view, more vulnerable to what Kalaitzidis calls mythologisation of tradition. Its de-particularisation of Christian Hellenism allowed forowning it at a meta-level as a kind of essence of Orthodoxy. And at thispoint the notion of non-possession, developed in Mother Maria Skobts-ova, may lead us in a slightly different direction, in which what is norma-tive does not have to be present in an essentialist synthesis.

In Schmemann, there were two problems, one that the requirement to adapt to another historical period made a division between higher and lower times in history, underestimating the presence of God in the pre-sent (or in other than pre-Nicene Patristics). The second problem concerned Schmemann’s notion of eschatology as basically closed, and as projected on to us, not leaving space for active and creative participation in the task of transforming this world into a better place for living. Both of these problems stood at odds with Schmemann’s dynamic and all embracing liturgical vision of life in communion with God.

In Meyendorff, we find the problem of reification of the Byzantine tradition, which is supported by his understanding of the visibility of divine providence and the negative synthesis of the West, against which the – in his interpretation, basically hesychast – Orthodox position is spelled out. And yet, if we applied the criticism of the use of essence from Meyendorff’s religious epistemology to his understanding of tradition, its permanence would shift from something that we have to some-thing in which we can participate. The essence/energy distinction applied there would make a non-synthetic approach to tradition, where each instance while related to its source, the living Christ, would be its full representation. There will be no need to compose a neo-patristic or any other synthesis as the abstract (essential) whole in order to be normative for history. The normativity would remain a testimony to the divine non-possessiveness of Christ, through whom we are filled with the non-possessive (and non-reified) life. Meyendorff’s contribution to this, with the critical revision of his notion of destiny and of the negative synthesis of the West, lies in showing how this life can and is to be passed on, in a non-reductive and non-secularised fashion.

In Mother Maria Skobtsova, the question of how to protect Christian tradition from reification may perhaps find the most satisfactory but also the most difficult answer: by not allowing it to become our possession, either in terms of universalising the past or particularizing the eschatological. History would thus not be tied down by tradition, and tradition would not be reduced to the historical. It may, however, cost us security and the comfort of knowing and belonging, and we may need to shift our balance from an overemphasis on the kataphatic to the inclusion of the apophatic expressions of the mysteries of faith. In this sense, it would be paradoxically closest to the source of the tradition, the living Christ. Normative tradition in this sense would not tie history down, but rather testify an ongoing possibility to encounter the transcendent and loving God whose victory is ultimately not dependent on the historical projections of the possible.

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