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Author Topic: Understanding The Orthodox Way  (Read 2384 times) Average Rating: 0
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katherineofdixie
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« Reply #45 on: November 09, 2011, 03:52:17 PM »

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It's okay, i was feeling frustrated at the Protestant interpretation being described as 'relying on our own understanding' when i'd already explained that wasn't the case.

Of course, I'm not saying that the Holy Spirit doesn't enlighten and guide personal interpretations of Protestants. But you have to admit that the essence of Protestantism, from Bro. Martin on, is the primacy of personal interpretation, to "be one's own pope," so to speak.
And the problem with that is that anyone can tell you the Holy Spirit told them anything, from mainline Lutherans, Baptists, Presbyterians etc. to Joseph Smith, Mary Baker Eddy and on to the guy who has twice now predicted the end of the world, or even someone like Warren Jeffs, Christians of different denominations believe totally different and often contradictory things, based on the same Scripture. Every one of them, I have no doubt, would assure you that they were guided and inspired by the Holy Spirit, and would be appalled by various aspects of the other's belief systems.
So how do you know?
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"If but ten of us lead a holy life, we shall kindle a fire which shall light up the entire city."

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« Reply #46 on: November 09, 2011, 04:27:52 PM »

Just a thought that entered my mind when I was reading this thread. Muslims say that Christians and Jews are similar to them, in that they are also, like Muslims, "the people of the Book." But it is not quite true. Of course we Orthodox Christians have books. We do have the Bible, we do have works of our Fathers, we do have thick volumes of proceedings of the Seven Ecumenical Councils. But our ultimate authority is not any book - it is Christ.

If we just study books, we do not achieve unity with Christ. This unity is beyond rational, "contemplative" learning. Our most prominent teachers like St. Maximos the Confessor, St. Simeon New Theologian, St. Gregory Palamas, St. Paisius Velychkovs'kyy, the late Fr. John Romanides and other, have always emphasized that we become one with Christ by making adjustments in our entire life; we need to get more "book" knowledge, but we also need to learn how to pray, meditate, fast, practice charity and hospitality, in other words, do our "training" ("askesis") in all aspects of our life, gradually purufying our heart from the oppression of various passions and achieving the vision of Uncreated Light ("theoria").

While the acquizition of book knowledge is at least to some extent possible in solitude, the asketic life needs to be guided by a community, which includes your peers and your spiritual directors (priests). And, very importantly, askesis must be strengthened by the True Body and True Blood of Christ, which one receives ONLY if one is a member of a community of faith.
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