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Author Topic: Living our theology with Merton’s [Orthodox-influenced] feminine image of God  (Read 837 times) Average Rating: 0
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Jetavan
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« on: October 07, 2010, 10:41:15 AM »

Merton was influenced by Orthodox ideas on Sophia, according to a new book: Sophia: The Hidden Christ of Thomas Merton by Christopher Pramuk. Awesome. From NCR:

"I’ve been reading Merton seriously for thirty years, but after reading this I think I understand him for the first time. Over the course of his monastic life, Merton discovered Sophia -- the Wisdom of God as Christ. It helped Merton turn toward the world beyond the monastery and led him toward Sophia/Christ.

St. John named Christ as the Logos (masculine), the Word; St. Paul named Christ as Sophia (feminine), Holy Wisdom. Pramuk proposes that we too -- individually and as a church -- can reclaim the divine feminine, Sophia, the Wisdom of God. And like Merton, we can be transformed anew into Christ and be able to help one another to fullness of life, hope and peace.
....
The book responds to the question of Merton’s mature Christology by advancing the following thesis: it was Sophia -- the “unknown and unseen Christ” within all things -- who both centered and in many respects catalyzed Merton’s theological imagination in a period of tremendous social, political, and religious fragmentation.

Drawing intuitively from sources in the Judeo-Christian tradition as well as from non-Christian sources, and inspired especially by the Sophia tradition of Russian Orthodoxy, the Wisdom tradition became Merton’s most vivid means of expressing “a living experience of unity in Christ which far transcends all conceptual formulations.”"
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« Reply #1 on: October 07, 2010, 11:51:41 AM »

1. Grammatical gender of the words word and wisdom is a false and flimsy foundation on which to base a theology. The word word is of a variety of genders in other languages, mainly neuter and masculine, with the occasional feminine. What, then, should we make of Holy Spirit, which, in Greek, is of the neuter grammatical gender? Where's the theology of the Spirit as It? Ridiculous.

2. Someone oughta tell these misguided romantics that just because a "theological" idea is associated with Russia, doesn't make it Orthodox. Sophianism is in no way an "Orthodox idea". The Church has long proclaimed it to be a heresy. Yet the sophianist wheel keeps being reinvented about once or twice a century.
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Jetavan
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« Reply #2 on: October 07, 2010, 12:05:08 PM »

1. Grammatical gender of the words word and wisdom is a false and flimsy foundation on which to base a theology. The word word is of a variety of genders in other languages, mainly neuter and masculine, with the occasional feminine. What, then, should we make of Holy Spirit, which, in Greek, is of the neuter grammatical gender? Where's the theology of the Spirit as It? Ridiculous.

2. Someone oughta tell these misguided romantics that just because a "theological" idea is associated with Russia, doesn't make it Orthodox. Sophianism is in no way an "Orthodox idea". The Church has long proclaimed it to be a heresy. Yet the sophianist wheel keeps being reinvented about once or twice a century.


Merton thought that the idea that Bulgakov claimed Sophia as a fourth hypostasis, was a mis-reading of Bulgakov. In any event, Merton himself never saw Sophia as a fourth Person of the Trinity.
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If you will, you can become all flame.
Extra caritatem nulla salus.
In order to become whole, take the "I" out of "holiness".
सर्वभूतहित
Ἄνω σχῶμεν τὰς καρδίας
"Those who say religion has nothing to do with politics do not know what religion is." -- Mohandas Gandhi
Y dduw bo'r diolch.
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« Reply #3 on: October 07, 2010, 12:35:10 PM »

Merton thought that the idea that Bulgakov claimed Sophia as a fourth hypostasis, was a mis-reading of Bulgakov. In any event, Merton himself never saw Sophia as a fourth Person of the Trinity.

Bulgakov and Sophianism were denounced by the Church, any way you slice it. Whether Merton misread Bulgakov is, therefore, a moot point.

It should also be noted that sophianism was not invented by Bulgakov. The "icons" of Christ Holy Wisdom (where Christ is painted as an androgynous or feminine winged youth sitting on a throne) began appearing in Russia the 16th century. A decree of the Holy Synod of the Russian Church proclaimed on May 21, 1722, prohibited a whole series of icons which were deemed to be “contrary to nature, to history, and to truth itself”. Included in this list was “…the image of the Wisdom of God in the form of a young girl…” So the sophianist problem and its condemnation are nothing new. Yet, the wayward wheel kept being reinvented.

More recent decrees, such as those issued by the Moscow Patriarchate in May, 1935, and by the Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad in October of the same year, also forbade such portrayals. These decrees were issued in response to the growing popularity of the Sophian heresies promoted by Soloviev, Florensky and Bulgakov.

And still this heretical "theology" keeps popping up .....
« Last Edit: October 07, 2010, 12:37:13 PM by LBK » Logged
jah777
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« Reply #4 on: October 07, 2010, 01:53:08 PM »


"Over the course of his monastic life, Merton discovered Sophia -- the Wisdom of God as Christ. It helped Merton turn toward the world beyond the monastery and led him toward Sophia/Christ."


If his "Sophia" is what led Merton, then his "Sophia" was a demon.  Merton was not led toward Christ at the end of his life, but toward Tibetan Buddhism and Zen.  He has inspired many Trappist and other Roman Catholic monks and nuns to follow in his footsteps by becoming "Hindu Christians", "Zen Christians," and all manner of other blasphemous madness.  May the Lord have mercy on him. 

If he was "inspired" by anything in Orthodoxy, this influence was certainly no greater than any other of his many other intellectual and spiritually dabblings.  He had a great mind, but as can be seen with Origen, Evagrius, and others, great minds can still be deceived. 
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« Reply #5 on: October 08, 2010, 04:23:47 PM »

Father Louis is all right if you can keep his work in context.  It is probably a whole lot safer reading Merton's own work than it is to read books about Merton.  The same thing goes for Father Bulgakov as well.   There's no reason to run from theological thinkers who explore God's universe.  Just don't swallow the hook along with the bait.   Take the food and keep on movin'.  I used to tease people and tell them I would read Merton to discover what kind of monastic I did NOT want to become...There's some truth in that but I feel very close to Merton.  It is hard work running up that hill, only to fall back down and having to start over.  Been there.

M.
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