06 July 2008

The fundamental reality of Christian experience

(from the Eastern Orthodox perspective)

[O]rthodox theology does not fit in the category of liberalism or conservatism as developed in Western Christendom. Direct communion with God rather than external authority, sanctification rather that justification, personal experience rather than intellectual poof, consensus rather than passive obedience – these are some important Orthodox intuitions about the nature of the Christian faith. In stressing such contrasts, I do not mean at all that the Orthodox church does not believe in authority, that it rejects the Pauline doctrine of justification by faith, that it does not respect the power of reason, or that dogmas are accepted through democratic referendums. But…the mystery of the Holy Spirit, present in the church, is the fundamental reality of Christian experience, [and] this experience is a personal and free one, and …authority, reason, and formal hierarchical and conciliar criteria are meant to protect it, not to replace it. In any case, the Spirit guiding the faithful is also the creator of church order, the bestower of the charismata of teaching and governing, as well as the inspirer of the prophets. Thus the personalism of the faith does not result in charismatic subjectivism or individualism; it initiates each person to think and to act as a responsible member of the body, seeking the truth within the communion of the saints.” John Meyendorf, “Doing Theology in an Eastern Orthodox Perspective,” in Eastern Orthodox Theology; a Contemporary Reader, Daniel B. Clendenin, ed., (Grand Rapids, MI.: Baker Academic, 2003), 93-94.

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James Frank SolĂ­s
Former soldier (USA). Graduate-level educated. Married 26 years. Texas ex-patriate. Ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America.
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