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Author Topic: Christianity as a Synthesis of Preceding Religions  (Read 13525 times) Average Rating: 0
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Alveus Lacuna
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« on: October 22, 2009, 03:17:32 PM »

This topic is based upon a discussion regarding Russian Orthodox writings within its period of Sophiological inquiry, and particular authors who's writings were condemned for acknowledging Sophia as a divine feminine principle.  When reading a summary on the views presented in Soloviev's writings, I came across the following statement:

Quote
Christianity is presented by him as the highest stage in the gradual development of religions.  According to Soloviev, all religions are true, but one-sided; Christianity synthesizes the positive aspects of the preceding religions. He writes: "Just as outward nature is only gradually revealed to the mind of man and to mankind, and as a result of this we must also speak of the development experimental or natural science, so also the Divine Principle is gradually revealed to the consciousness of man, and we must speak of the development of religious experience and religious thinking. Religious development is a positive and objective process, a real mutual relationship between God and man — the process of God-manhood. It is clear that not a single one of its stages, or a single moment the religious process, can in itself be a lie or an error. 'False religion' is a contradiction in terms."

While the end of this section might seem questionable, I am wondering what exactly the problem is with this idea.  While I understand the ministry and preaching of Christ as well as the reconciling work of the cross and the resurrection to be the fulfillment of all of humanity's hopes in their religious activities, I do not see how it is wrong to acknowledge that this is a process that happens gradually.  Since humanity found itself divided and in a fallen state of existence, it was impossible for humanity to fully understand its place or its purpose.

Leading up to the revelation of the Theanthropos, their are many beliefs which foreshadow or anticipate future Christian beliefs.  In fact so much so that one could easily assert that Christianity was simply borrowing all of its ideas from previous religions and rearranging them.  I do not think of it in such a way, but it is a possibility for those who do not wish to believe, or who feel that cannot believe in good conscience.  One thing that has helped me return to Christianity is seeing aspects of all other Ancient Near-Eastern traditions synthesized and preserved in Orthodoxy.  Our faith takes the best from what existed before, clarifies where such beliefs were deficient, and brings them all together into a truly 'universal religion.'  Where there were once nations divided by regional deities and exclusively local interactions with God, being misunderstood as many gods, there were still nearly universal elements in their method and manner of religion and ritual; a similarity in core structure and purpose behind their respective liturgies.  Christianity takes all of the altars of all of the gods and makes them One.  One sacrifice and one Eucharist for all the nations that were once divided.

I suppose I am speaking of this happening 'gradually' before Christ in that the dialogue between God and man was a slow and eventual process, meaning that there would be moments of hierophany/epiphany/theophany wherein God would make a special manifestation of Himself and give direction to a people.  He first begins to reveal himself directly to particular people such as Abraham and Moses.  The book of the prophet Jonah is an example of this happening outside of God's 'exclusive' relationship with Israel, at least in the sense that God sends a messenger to a people outside of His chosen nation.  There was a long prehistory before his manifestations to the great prophets where all of humanity was essentially left directionless and without a clear divine revelation. 

When Christ comes, there occurs a revelation whereby mankind begins to be restored to God throughout all of the nations, calling upon one God in unity.  But the 'process' or 'gradual' nature of the revelation isn't yet complete in the sense that the Church must occasionally, throughout the ages, clarify those aspects of Christ's revelation which are not clear until they are defined against errors.  An example of what I am talking about is the concept of the Holy Trinity as it has been formally defined by the Church.  The concept always existed, by not in a fully articulated and orthodox manner.  So humanity, through the Church, is involved in this process of 'God-manhood' as well, cooperating with the Holy Spirit and still helping to clarify what true religion is throughout the ages.

So in some ways I would agree with Soloviev's statement that "not a single one of its stages, or a single moment the religious process, can in itself be a lie or an error."  I would disagree that there are no ideas within the religious process' manifestations that are contrary to the truths of Christ and His Church.  I believe that something like Islam would be an example of 'false religion', in the sense that it denies many of the foundational truths of the Christian faith.  However, I would agree in other ways, assuming I am understanding him correctly. 

I have a problem with the notion in Orthodoxy that 'the gods of the nations are demons', taken from the Septuagint version of the Psalms.  How can people's sincere and honest efforts to reach out to God, to serve, to sacrifice and to transcend the boundaries of our fallen reality to touch the holy, be simply written off as demonic?  I do not think of the gods of the other nations as being inherently evil, but rather people reaching out with what was placed into all of them, for in Christ "was life; and the life was the light of men" (John 1:4).  This light is placed within each man, as Christ himself breathed his life into all people and animated them, because by him "all things were made" (Nicene Creed).  Each human has the breath of Christ within them, even before Christ's arrival in material reality.

The apostle Paul tells us, when speaking of the Jews that are rejecting the gospel, that "faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.  But I say, Have they not heard? Yes verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world" (Romans 10:17-18).  This seem to indicate that St. Paul believed that the Word of God, who is Jesus Christ, poured forth into all the nations.  God's proclamation is for all of humanity, and the foundational truths are written on the hearts of every man.  "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them" (Romans 1:18-19).  He seems to be indicating that all gentiles have the truth of God held within themselves.

How then, can we outright condemn all other gods as false, demonic apparitions?  While this is certainly true in some cases, in most others I feel that religion itself is an essential element of our humanity, just as is eating, breathing or sleeping.  It is hardwired into us by God himself.  Therefore it seems fair to condemn what is clearly against the revelations of the Theanothropos, but to acknowledge the good in many of their efforts.  But in Orthodoxy, are we somehow required to believe that 'false gods' are purely evil and demonic, or is it acceptable for us to believe that there was rather an 'unknown God' behind their obscured vision of him, one which they worshiped but knew not?
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« Reply #1 on: October 22, 2009, 03:34:42 PM »

If you have access to it, you might be interested in reading a certain part of the first volume of The Christian Tradition by Jaroslav Pelikan (specifically, pages 31-35). The part I am speaking of begins with the words:

"The reason for this importance was that Christ had been 'known in part even by Socrates.' (St. Justin Martyr, 2nd Apology, 10, 8 ) As the apologists came to grips with the defenders of paganism, they were compelled to acknowledge that Christianity and its ancestor, Judaism, did not have a monopoly on either the moral or the doctrinal teachings whose superiority Christian apologetics was seeking to demonstrate."

This part of Mr. Pelikan's work briefly overviews some theories that the early Church Fathers and other ecclesiastical writers (Origen, Tertullian, etc.) had when trying to explain "the noble and good elements in paganism". If you do not have access to the book, I can type in the parts I am speaking of, if you're interested. I personally don't find the reasoning of the ancient writers persuasive, but it's still relevant to the discussion so I figured I'd bring it up.
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« Reply #2 on: October 22, 2009, 04:11:23 PM »

Actually, I looked on Google Books, and they have a preview of the part I was talking about... so here's a link.
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« Reply #3 on: October 22, 2009, 05:57:11 PM »

How then, can we outright condemn all other gods as false, demonic apparitions? 
Perhaps the verse in the Septuagint that speaks of the other gods as demons, might refer to the demon as "daimon", as in Socrates' daimon, a voice/being/presence who acted sort of like Socrates' guiding spirit, a spirit of relatively low rank in the celestial hierarchy who nonetheless serves an important function. It would be analogous to the Christian idea of "guardian angel".

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« Reply #4 on: October 22, 2009, 06:26:10 PM »

I disagree.   There is nothing wrong, as the Fathers and even St. Paul said, to acknowledge that the ancient pagans had a partial knowledge of God.   However, there is no denying the link, for example, between the ancient Baal and Christ's Beelzebub (Baal'zebub).  The gods of the nations are demons.   That is, the demons that as "legion" before Christ (and even now by continuation) deceived the nations and distracted them from the One God. 
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« Reply #5 on: July 29, 2010, 12:55:59 AM »

One of the biggest obstacles to faith for me has been the issue of religions before Christianity. Humans have existed for around 400 thousand years and hundreds of ancient religions existed before the 1st century A.D. What happens to those people? Do they get an opportunity after death to be saved? Are they forever lost? Even if you accept that the Jews could have been saved, the Jewish religion existed for only 1 millennium before the Christian religion. Even if you don't accept evolution or an old earth, there's still 3000-4000 years before the Jewish or Christian religions got started. So, how do the Orthodox respond to this?
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« Reply #6 on: July 29, 2010, 01:01:54 AM »

The doctrine of "Spermatikos Logos" holds that all religions before Christianity contained "seeds of the truth."  This was the doctrine which allowed St. Basil the Great to countenance the study of ancient Greek literature, as opposed to those who asked rhetorically, "What has Athens to do with Jerusalem?"
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« Reply #7 on: July 29, 2010, 01:06:14 AM »

There's also the descent of Christ into Hades.  He preached to the captives there.  My priest said that this exists out of time, that after we die we're present there when Christ preaches in Hades, if I recall correctly.
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« Reply #8 on: July 29, 2010, 01:16:08 AM »

There's also the descent of Christ into Hades.  He preached to the captives there.  My priest said that this exists out of time, that after we die we're present there when Christ preaches in Hades, if I recall correctly.


Very interesting.  Does anyone know where one could find more on this teaching?

 
So, how do the Orthodox respond to this?

Hieromonk Damascene addresses this based on the writings of Blessed Seraphim Rose in Christ the Eternal Tao.
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« Reply #9 on: July 29, 2010, 01:30:14 AM »

There's also the descent of Christ into Hades.  He preached to the captives there.

Indeed; from Ode 6 of the canon of Pascha midnight service:

"Verily, hades ruled the race of man, but not forever; for thou, O mighty One, when thou wast placed in the grave didst demolish the locks of death with the palm of thy hand, O Element of Life, proclaiming to those sitting yonder from the ages a true salvation, having become, O Saviour, the First-born of the dead."
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« Reply #10 on: July 29, 2010, 02:31:07 AM »

There's also the descent of Christ into Hades.  He preached to the captives there.  My priest said that this exists out of time, that after we die we're present there when Christ preaches in Hades, if I recall correctly.


Very interesting.  Does anyone know where one could find more on this teaching?


Quote:
"These apostles and teachers preached the name of the Son of God. After falling asleep in the power and faith of the Son of God, the apostles not only preached it to those who were asleep, but they themselves also gave them the seal of the preaching [i.e., baptism]. accordingly, the apostles descended with them into the water and ascended again.....For such ones slept in righteousness and in great purity. Only they did not have this seal." Hermas (150 A.D.)



Irenaeus and Clement of Alexandria talking about Jesus preaching to the dead in Hades when He died........preaching to those who died before the first advent.

"It was for this reason, too, that the Lord descended into the regions beneath the earth, preaching His advent there also. And He [declared] the remission of sins received by those who believed in Him." Irenaeus 180 A.D.)

"He gathered from the ends of the earth into His Father's fold the children who were scattered abroad. And He remembered His own dead ones, who had previously fallen asleep. He came down to them so that He might deliver them." Irenaeus 180 A.D.)

"He preached the Gospel to those in the flesh so that they would not be condemned unjustly. So how is it conceivable that He did not for the same reason preach the Gospel to those who had departed this life before His coming"
Clement of Alexandria (195 A.D.)


Tertullian talking about the issue

"Hades is not supposed by us to be a bare cavity, nor some subterranean sewer of the world. Rather it is a vast deep space in the interior of the earth......For we read that Christ in His death spent three days in the heart of the earth. ....He did not ascend into the heights of heaven before descending into the lower parts of the earth. This was so that He might there [Hades] make the patriarchs and prophets partakers of himself. You must believe Hades is a subterranean region. You should keep at arm's length those [Gnostics] who are too proud to believe that the sould of the faithful deserve a place in Hades. These persons-who are servants above their Lord, and disciples above their Master-would no doubt spurn to receive the comfort of the resurrection, if they must expect it in Abraham's bosom. But it was for this purpose, they say, that Christ descended into Hades-that we might not ourselves have to descend there. Well, then, what difference is there between pagans and Christians, if the same prison awaits them all when dead? How, indeed, will the soul mount up to heaven, where Christ is already sitting at the Father's right hand? For the archangel's trumpet has not yet been heard by the command of God.....To no one is heaven opened.
When the world, indeed, will pass away, then the Kingdom of heaven will be opened."
Tertullian 210A.D.








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« Reply #11 on: July 29, 2010, 04:49:41 PM »

As I understand it, God reveals his Truth to man in a number of ways: our conscience, natural revelation (the study of the creation), and supernatural revelation (directly revealing himself and his precepts). Those who have not had the benefit of the third kind of revelation have still had the first two. With man's natural thirst for truth, the non-Christian religions have arrived at partial realizations contained some genuine wisdom. On the other hand, because of their ignorance and the influence of demons, these religions also contain erroneous teachings. If one can cautiously distinguish truth from error, there can be benefit in reading a lot of the non-Christian writings (e.g., Plato or Laozi).
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« Reply #12 on: July 29, 2010, 05:25:51 PM »

But it was for this purpose, they say, that Christ descended into Hades-that we might not ourselves have to descend there. Tertullian 210A.D.[/size]

My priest said that this exists out of time, that after we die we're present there when Christ preaches in Hades

My curiousity was about the presence with Christ in Hades part.  Is this something specific or general outside of space and timeness "so we could be there maybe"?
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« Reply #13 on: July 29, 2010, 07:01:03 PM »

There's also the descent of Christ into Hades.  He preached to the captives there.  My priest said that this exists out of time, that after we die we're present there when Christ preaches in Hades, if I recall correctly.

That is possible, but I don't think it's anything more than a theologumenon. Seeing as how it is said that Christ met the Fathers of the Old Testament period and particularly resurrected them, I think it would be just as possible to say that it occurred inside time.
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« Reply #14 on: July 29, 2010, 07:12:51 PM »

Humans have existed for around 400 thousand years

Perhaps that is true if you only consider the species homo sapiens to be legitimately human. But, if we recognize that the genus name homo simply means human, and that thus all species of that genus have perhaps been legitimately human, then humans are actually about 6x older than that.

and hundreds of ancient religions existed before the 1st century A.D. What happens to those people?

I am sure that God's mercy will operate among the pre-Christian peoples in a unique way. The Scriptures also speak of them being judged on the basis of their works, whether they did good or evil. Finally, the Scriptures also speak of them being offered redemption by Christ's descent into Hades.

Do they get an opportunity after death to be saved?

They did. As to those non-Christians after the advent of Christ? The same cannot be necessarily said, but we can certainly hope.

Are they forever lost?

I don't think we can judge anyone at this point to be necessarily eternally damned.

Even if you accept that the Jews could have been saved, the Jewish religion existed for only 1 millennium before the Christian religion.

Sanctifying grace came only through the advent of Christ.
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« Reply #15 on: August 03, 2010, 09:14:08 PM »

Basically, Orthodox tend not to presume to know the mind of God. We know that he is just and that He doesn't include us in on all his decisions. (At least, that's been my Orthodox experience.)
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« Reply #16 on: August 03, 2010, 09:35:04 PM »

Job was a pre-Incarnation Gentile. But he is obviously a saint.
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« Reply #17 on: August 03, 2010, 09:42:57 PM »

Job was a pre-Incarnation Gentile. But he is obviously a saint.
So was Buddha.
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« Reply #18 on: August 04, 2010, 12:38:21 AM »

I tried bringing up a similar topic last year, but it kind of fell dead. I though I raised some interesting ideas, but apparently not so much:

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,23978.0.html
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« Reply #19 on: August 05, 2010, 02:31:34 AM »

This might raise some eyebrows. From St. Nicholai Velimirovic's Prayers by the Lake:

Quote
All the prophets have from the beginning cried out to my soul, imploring her to make herself a virgin and prepare herself to receive the Divine Son into her immaculate womb;



Imploring her to become a ladder, down which God will descend into the world, and up which man will ascend to God,



Imploring her to drain the red sea of sanguinary passions within herself, so that man the slave can cross over to the promised land, the land of freedom.



The wise man of China admonishes my soul to be peaceful and still, and to wait for Tao to act within her. Glory be the memory of Lao-tse, the teacher and prophet of his people!



The wise man of India teaches my soul not to be afraid of suffering, but through the arduous and relentless drilling in purification and prayer to elevate herself to the One on high, who will come out to greet her and manifest to her His face and His power. Glorious be the memory of Krishna, the teacher and prophet of his people!



The royal son of India teaches my soul to empty herself completely of every seed and crop of the world, to abandon all the serpentine allurements of frail and shadowy matter, and then in vacuity, tranquillity, purity and bliss to await nirvana. Blessed be the memory of Buddha, the royal son and inexorable teacher of his people!


The thunderous wise man of Persia tells my soul that there is nothing in the world except light and darkness, and that the soul must break free from the darkness as the day does from the night. For the sons of light are conceived from the light, and the sons of darkness are conceived from darkness. Glorious be the memory of Zoroaster, the great prophet of his people!

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« Reply #20 on: August 05, 2010, 04:15:28 AM »

Where'd this come from?  Did someone merge a new thread from some other board into this old one?
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« Reply #21 on: August 05, 2010, 08:00:49 AM »

Christianity is not a synthesis.  The Church completes what is lacking in all prior religions, as it is the basis of all.
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« Reply #22 on: August 05, 2010, 09:09:41 AM »

Christianity is not a synthesis.  The Church completes what is lacking in all prior religions, as it is the basis of all.
One could argue that, pre-Christianity, the religions of the world were divided into two camps: those that believed God never incarnated (e.g., Judaism, Zarathustrianism), and those that believed God incarnated many times (Hinduism, e.g.). Christianity could be seen as a synthesis of those two ideas, but going beyond both: God did incarnate, but only once.
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« Reply #23 on: August 05, 2010, 10:02:45 AM »

I haven't read all the replies, so sorry if I'm being redudant.

My understanding is as follows.

Jesus said "I am the Way, the Life and the Truth".  At least to me, this has always been one of the most striking phrases of the whole Gospel. He is not saying that he is like a pagan god of nature that He is a deity who presides over life or truth. He is saying that He is the very thing itself.

Let me detail what I mean. We all know from pop culture the viking god Thor, known as the god of thunder and storms.

Quote

Marvel's Thor, the god of Thunder - Watch out for the movie in 2011
(You could see his hammer in the end of Iron Man 2)

He, like other pagan gods, presides over a certain aspect of reality. Thor, though, is *not* thunder itself. He is an entirely different being whose substance, so to say, is different from that of storms, lightenings and thunder.

Consider now Neil Gaiman's character Death:



She is not the angel of death. She is not a spirit of death. She is death itself, the thing that happens to you when you die.

Now, Jesus said not that he is the god of Truth. The Greek Apollo and the Egyptian Ma'at were god and goddess of Truth:

Quote
Apollo


Ma'at

They were divine entities who provided and presided over truth but they are not the thing itself.

Jesus said "I *AM* Truth". "I *AM* Life". "I *AM* the Way."

This means that what He is claiming is that He is the very thing of which all other religions just had images and metaphors about.

All the religions that are somehow healthy are to the Person of Jesus Christ and the Triune God revealed by Him as the shadows in Plato's cave are to the real world. All religions, all metaphors are Plato's cave. Jesus Christ is the real world.
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« Reply #24 on: August 05, 2010, 10:39:42 AM »

I haven't read all the replies, so sorry if I'm being redudant.

My understanding is as follows.

Jesus said "I am the Way, the Life and the Truth". 
On another occasion (John 18), when asked "What is truth?", Jesus did not respond.
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« Reply #25 on: August 05, 2010, 12:44:16 PM »

I tried bringing up a similar topic last year, but it kind of fell dead. I though I raised some interesting ideas, but apparently not so much:

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,23978.0.html

They are interesting ideas.  I missed your post the first time around.
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« Reply #26 on: August 05, 2010, 01:16:25 PM »

I haven't read all the replies, so sorry if I'm being redudant.

My understanding is as follows.

Jesus said "I am the Way, the Life and the Truth".
On another occasion (John 18), when asked "What is truth?", Jesus did not respond.

This was one of the things that astonished me the most when I was studying as a catechumen. This is what I concluded. Notice the full passage:

"Pilate saith unto him, What is truth? And when he had said this, he went out again "
St. John 18:38

And compare with

"Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; how know we the way?

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, and the truth, and the life: no one cometh unto the Father, but by me."

St. John 14:5-6

I think these passages were written meant to be a parallel.

Thomas is even today known as the "doubting" apostle, the one with the most "rational" mind. Pilate was probably educated on Greek-Roman traditions even if he was not a philosopher himself. So, I believe that Thomas here represent healthy rational enquiry and Pilates the unhealthy one.

What was Pilate's attitude when asking that question and what was Thomas' attitude?
Why Thomas gets an answer and Pilate doesn't?

First, we see that Pilate asks the question and "when he said this, he went out again". He does not wait for an answer. He turns his back even before Jesus had time to answer. He simply asks and leaves. Why did he do that? His attitude is the answer.

Thomas, on the other hand, waits. He is *really* asking a question. This is the first difference.

The second, is the kind of questions they make. Pilate asks "what is truth?", probably having the plethora of religious and philosophical answers in mind. His turning his back suggests a certain cynism toward the possibility of an answer. When we turn our backs on a situation it is because we don't believe a solution is even possible. There is nothing to do anymore, just leave it as it is. Pilate was full of intellectual presumption about the answer. Thomas, on the other hand, asked:"we don't know where you are going? how can we know the way?"

First, Thomas acknowledges his own ignorance. Unlike Pilate he does not presume to know anything about the question. Like Socrates, Thomas knows he knows nothing of the subject. Like Socrates he does not even ask a question directly about the subject, he asks how he could come to know the truth, he asks about the "way", the method. Here is where the Church and philosophy part ways. Jesus does not say to Thomas that the way to truth is a dialectical method or subtle analysis. He says "*I* am the Way". "*I* am Truth. *I* am Life." Jesus is both the only way to truth and truth itself. Philosophy and all other mystical techniques to know something about the truth are past now. Truth Himself is here and calling us.

So here we have St. Thomas, the honest enquirer, humbly acknowledging his own ignorance and asking how he can follow Jesus and he receives this magnificent revelation, the most shocking, in my opinion, of all the Gospel. Truth Himself is there, in front of them. Truth, Life and the Way to Truth and Life are not separate things, they are just one thing and ever more shocking, they are one Person! Pilate, on the other hand, is the cynical philosopher, full of arrogance asking questions to which he does not expect an answer. Like so many people today, he prefers the "questions" over the "answers". To have a final answer would be a great anti-climax for him and for these people. They seek the glamour of being critics, intellectuals, and therefore they have to turn their backs continuously to any possibility of an answer.

Just to conclude, I would like to point out a third subject in these passages. It is that of obedience. Unlike some authorities in and outside the Church claim, the virtue of obedience is not the blind bow before ignorant orders. Obedience is an inner state of the spirit that is willing to be changed and reformed by reality, that is, one that is willing to allow reality to dictate its thoughts instead of projecting convenient or comfortable ideas as they were reality. When we stop eating because we are physically satisfied instead of continuing just for pleasure, we are being obedient to reality: we don't need more food. When we are chaste, we are obedient to reality: we don't unite ourselves with people we are not united with. 

Obedience, then, is not to turn a blind eye on crime or to accept illicit leaders. Obedience, as a virtue, is the humble contriction of both mind and spirit to reality as it is. With no obedience, if you don't accept reality as it is, you will never reach any truth, because that is what truth is: to know the knowed thing as it is. That is the sense of Jesus being the light through which everything is seen. He is Truth itself. To see something in reality, is to see something in Jesus.



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« Reply #27 on: August 05, 2010, 01:29:59 PM »

So, to sum it up, I don't think the Church is a synthesis of preceding religions.

A synthesis is something new, made out of its previous elements. That is not what the Church is.

The Church is the Body of Jesus Christ, and therefore His only visible vicar, although this term is not precise, because His body is, a certain way, Himself.

So, since Truth and Life and the ways to get them were the subjects of all philosophies and religions, Jesus Christ Himself *is* the thing they all were, imperfectly, referring to. All these studies showing how there are "truths" in other religions that can also be found in Jesus Christ do not point to a couple of very intelligent and/or spiritual people gettig the best of each to "build" Christianity. They point to the fact that they were all looking toward Jesus as through telescopes, each one though distorting it because of imperfections on the lenses. But now we don't need telescopes anymore. That which we were trying to see from afar, has come to us in Person. In comparison, it is like different scientists had different theories about a certain comet on the edges of the Solar System. Some study it with optical telescopes, others with thermic telescopes, others with electromagnetic equipement. Each had a "perspective" of the comet. One day the comet appears and falls on Earth. You don't need telescopes anymore. The comet is here. That is what happens in the Church. All religions and philosophies are telescopes to see "truth". But Truth has come down to our yard. We can examine it directly. It is foolishness to point Hubble to study a rock that is within the grasp of our hands. New techniques are required for that. That is why hesycasm, theology substitute philosophy, or, in a sense, are its natural development - evolution so, to speak. The "object" we were studying is no longer "there". It is "here". The time of telescopes is gone. The time of experiencing it directly has come.
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« Reply #28 on: August 05, 2010, 02:43:23 PM »

Quote
On another occasion (John 18), when asked "What is truth?", Jesus did not respond.

Of course not.  That was the wrong question.  Pilate was not prepared to ask the right question, "Who is the Truth?" or at least a more neutral question like Thomas's, "How can we know the Truth?"
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« Reply #29 on: August 07, 2010, 07:36:36 PM »

Christianity is not a synthesis.  The Church completes what is lacking in all prior religions, as it is the basis of all.

Very good and the most simple yet correct answer.   Christ is not a synthesis but the fulfillment of all religion.  I suppose one could speak of a "synthesis of all that is good," but it is so much more.  Therein is the answer.   Christianity, Christian Orthodoxy, is gnawing on the One who is Truth in Spirit and in Body (in spirit and in body from our part). 
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