Thursday, August 26, 2010

Accused again: Theology of Glory

As a friendly reminder - first to myself, and then to others who are either bothered by the accusation, or who are levying the accusation:

When a Lutheran levies the charge against the Orthodox that we are just a Theology of Glory, this says nothing of any value or substance. This is a Lutheran term that has meaning only if one accepts the whole of Lutheran theology. This is frequently used to avoid discussion and helpful dialogue, especially by those flustered with Orthodoxy. And lately it is a term, when applied to Orthodoxy, that expresses unbelief in Orthodoxy on the basis that Orthodoxy has visible unity among her churches, relative theological peace, a common way of life in Christ, and has for 2000 years held to a belief in one holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church that exists simultaneously in the invisible heavens and visibly as a communion fellowship on earth - and has for 2000 years.

So let's remember: levying the charge of Theology of Glory against the Orthodox only really means, "They aren't Lutheran, no matter how great they seem to so many Lutherans (especially the hordes that are converting all over the place)."

For more info, here's an article I wrote a while ago. If anyone can recommend something else on the topic, please leave a link in the comments.

If we can get past the frustration (which is to be expected, surely) and the attempts to shut down dialogue, perhaps we can move on to things of faith and piety. God willing we will be able!

7 comments:

Cha said...

It's also good to remember that those who levy such accusations do so only out of fear, and with a general lack of any real understanding about that which they fault.

orrologion said...

Personally, I find Easter/Pascha to be too triumphalist in its theology of glory. There is too little Cross on Easter Sunday for me, even if the wounds are still visible on Our Lord's body, even if the Apostles would soon face persecution and martyrdom, even if His Body Herself remains wounded and scourged by Turks and atheists and Her own - it's all still too glorious to be true. I find there is also too much theology of glory in all the miracles that keep happening in Orthodoxy right up to the present day, to the holiness of her saints in the midst of sinners up to this present day, to the survival of the Churches under Communism when a true theology of the cross would have simply suffered and died for the sake of belief in what is only a (distant) future resurrection. :)

Dcn. Muehlenbruch said...

orrologion has me a bit confused by the pronomial mixture of HIS and HER in the previous post.

It is one thing to debate the positions of various rites or denominations; it is another thing to question whether or not the denominations involved fully agree upon and accept the true meaning of the four Nicene Adjectives - One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic.

Our Lord Himself stated that He has "other sheep that are not of this fold." So, it seems to me, quoting the Bard of Avon, "Methinks the lady protesteth overmuch."

The depositum fidae has been granted to the Church as a gift of grace. Unless I am mistaken, this grant had no particular rites, rubrics and liturgies appended to it. Nor were ethnic or geographical constraints or conditions attached thereto.

It seems that we often view the grass as being greener on the other side of the fence than it is on our side. This is human nature. Did not the Samaritan woman ask Christ "our fathers worship on this mountain and the Jews say we must worship in Jerusalem." Jesus answered "the time is coming and now is when you shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth."

Going back again to the four Nicene adjectives, the Church is One, it is Holy, it is Catholic, and it is Apostolic. Nowhere do these four adjectives even hint that denominations would or should arise.

According to Christ's own statement, "the time is coming, and now is, that you will worship the Father in spirit and in truth."

Again, as the Bard might say "Much ado about nothing."

Benjamin Harju said...

Dcn. Muehlenbruch,

I'm so happy to hear from you! I hope all is well with.

Thanks for your comments. I would maintain that the true and original meaning of the Nicene Creed falls within the confines of debating the positions of various rites or denominations (as you put it). I'm not quite sure how one side understands the Nicene Creed vs. another side is "another thing" (again, as you put it).

You wrote:
Our Lord Himself stated that He has "other sheep that are not of this fold." So, it seems to me, quoting the Bard of Avon, "Methinks the lady protesteth overmuch."

Response:
I agree that the Lord said that He has other sheep :-) Specifically He says, "And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd. " I would like to point out that the "other sheep" here reference the Gentiles, the first sheep being the Jews. Both Jews and Gentiles will hear His voice and be united in one flock under one Shepherd.

However, it seems as if you are saying that the "other sheep" are those who put faith in Him, yet are outside any *single* definite communion fellowship. The conclusion being that any talk of being one Church or one Flock is really more allegorical than literal. If allegorical isn't appropriate, then maybe a non-corporeal type of spiritual, yes?

You wrote:
The depositum fidae has been granted to the Church as a gift of grace. Unless I am mistaken, this grant had no particular rites, rubrics and liturgies appended to it. Nor were ethnic or geographical constraints or conditions attached thereto.

Response:
The depositum fidae is not limited to a set of immutable revealed ideas or data. The depositum fidae is a way of life. Hence Christianity is first known as the Way (see Acts 9). It is the incarnate Lord Jesus living His Life on earth in those united to Him through the Holy Spirit. This way of life is also known as Holy Tradition. The Scriptures are the immutable Apostolic teaching at the heart of this way of life (the Church is built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets... Eph. 2:20). Yet the Scriptures have always existed in their true ecclesial context, namely the liturgical and sacramental life of the Church. St. Basil notes this in chapter 27 of his work, "On the Holy Spirit." What this shows us is that the depositum fidae is the Scripture in the context of the Liturgy. This way of life is Christ's Life continued on earth through the Holy Spirit. This is the Church, into which all are called. To separate the liturgical, sacramental, and eschatological context (singular - this is one context) from the Scriptural data results in a distorted depositum fidae.

You wrote:
Did not the Samaritan woman ask Christ "our fathers worship on this mountain and the Jews say we must worship in Jerusalem." Jesus answered "the time is coming and now is when you shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth."

Response:
The normal interpretation of this passage is that a time was coming when worship would not be limited to one city/mountain or another, as it had been in the former covenant, but that worship would be found happeing all over the world. Such worship in fulfillment of this passage happens whenever the Eucharist is celebrated. Yet, the Eucharist is not celebrated just because someone desires to and then goes through the ritual. The Eucharist is celebrated by Christ through His sacramental priesthood shared with certain men in His Church. One must be ordained in the Church before the Eucharist can be offered. The Church finds its source in the Eucharist and its fulfillment in the Eucharist. The Church is but the en-Eucharized incarnation of Christ in the world, which Eucharist comes from the Apostles, never any rogue attempts to carry on with it.

Benjamin Harju said...

You wrote:
Going back again to the four Nicene adjectives, the Church is One, it is Holy, it is Catholic, and it is Apostolic. Nowhere do these four adjectives even hint that denominations would or should arise.

Response:
I agree. The Orthodox Church does not believe in denominations of Christianity. It seems as if you are arguing that, since there are denominations of people who believe in Jesus, therefore the Church must be something that transcends communion fellowship, since faith unites everyone as Church by uniting all to Jesus. With this I don't agree. The other side of the argument is that since there are denominations, only one is the Church of Christ and the others are varying degrees of departure from the Church. Here, though, the Church is not the sum-total of people who believe in Jesus, but rather such believing people have been led by their faith to be gathered to Jesus as He is manifest in the communion fellowship that is His Body, the Church - the fullness of Him who fills all in all (Eph. 1).

As for those believing people who haven't made it to the Church yet, we in the Orthodox Church know Christ to be merciful. We hope and pray they will be added to the Church upon their repose in faith.

Dcn. Muehlenbruch, providing that I have understood you fairly, I think we have hashed out where we believe differently from one another. If you are willing, I am game to continue the discussion. Do you find my logic illogical? Are my interpretations innovative? Do you have some evidence to bring in? As I said, I'm game if you are.

Please take care, and give our best to Pr. Trouten and Tamara.

In Christ,
Benjamin Harju

Daniel said...

Baptized babies should be fed the Eucharist.

orrologion said...

Dcn. Muehlenbruch, I was just being tongue in cheek. I am also, at most, an amateur nomial having no pro-nomial understanding of either binomials or trinomials. :)

Personally, I love the idea that the Church is our Mother and that She/It is the Body of Christ Himself. One finds similar word play in Greek with the Holy Spirit and Wisdom are 'feminine'. The Sophiologists took this too far and were smacked down for it, but it is still an interesting reminder that gender is more metaphorical in the Godhead (while quite literal in the incarnate Logos). Such paradixes and mysteries and juxtapositions abound in the hymnography of the Orthodox Church - to better effect than mine, of course.