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Author Topic: The Confessions of Augustine  (Read 4824 times) Average Rating: 0
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Matthew777
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« on: May 09, 2005, 01:17:06 AM »

I recently purchased Blessed Augustine's Confessions from Amazon.
Would anyone please be willing to provide a review of this book and how it affected your spiritual life? Much appreciated. Afro

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« Reply #1 on: May 10, 2005, 07:25:04 AM »

I have St. Augustine's "Confessions". Great book; it will really reaffirm your Catholic Faith (if you're Catholic, of course). I've yet to finish it though. But I like it when he calls himself a new Catholic, after being a Manichean for years. St. Augustine is one of the great theologians of the Catholic Church.
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« Reply #2 on: May 10, 2005, 02:39:47 PM »

He is also considered a symbol of piety in the Orthodox Church.
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« Reply #3 on: May 10, 2005, 02:46:18 PM »

The Confessions actually helped me a lot in my spiritual life. When I read it, I was gradually shifting from murky neo-gnosticism to orthodox Christianity. At the time I was a "pseudo-Catholic." A lot of Augustine's theology can be ehh, and you can see some of that even in his autobiography, but all in all it is fascinating and truly very illuminating. And obviously for me his musings on the transition from Manicheanism to the orthodox catholic faith were fascinating, as I was moving from the modern form of Manicheanism to orthodox Christianity (and then Orthodox Christianity.)

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« Reply #4 on: May 11, 2005, 12:09:03 PM »

It is great that the book helped you.
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« Reply #5 on: May 11, 2005, 12:36:45 PM »

  I have it and tried reading it, but I just found it so boring- sorry.  When you do read it, remember that he is writing about his speculations, not Church teachings.
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« Reply #6 on: May 11, 2005, 03:45:55 PM »

What about his struggles and life story? Was that interesting at all?
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« Reply #7 on: May 11, 2005, 03:51:57 PM »

"Blessed Augustine"? Where did that term come from?

As I understand, the Orthodox Church recognizes all western saints who lived prior to 1054. Augustine is amongst them, therefore he's a saint. Orthodoxy (outside Russia) has no formal process for recognizing saints - that's left up to the local churches. Orthodoxy does not have a formal period of beatification, as in the Catholic Church. Therefore, IMHO, Augustine should get his due as a saint, as he was long ago recognized by his church in North Africa (and eventually in Rome) as a saint.

So why is the term "Blessed Augustine" in vogue among some Orthodox? Is it because he wrote some theological contentions that Orthodoxy later rejected? That does not necessarily reflect on the man's sainthood.
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« Reply #8 on: May 11, 2005, 04:15:29 PM »

"Blessed Augustine"? Where did that term come from?

"Why doesn't the Orthodox Church celebrate Augustine of Hippo as a Saint?
There is some difference in practice in the Orthodox Church regarding this. In general, Augustine of Hippo is not called "Saint Augustine," but is often called "Blessed Augustine." Depending on which Orthodox author you read, you may find Augustine called simply Augustine, Blessed Augustine, or even Saint Augustine. Because some of Augustine's writings are in conflict with the teachings of Orthodoxy and because they have been misused by the Western "Augustinians" who followed him, he is viewed with some caution in the East as a Father of the Church. His writings are thought by many in the East to be the root cause of the divergence of Western theology from the Orthodox understanding of God and Original Sin, and ultimately of the schism of the Western Church.

This excellent question also raises the issue of sainthood. In the West, the declaration of a Saint is a more-or-less top-down process; by recognition of miracles by the hierarchy, analysis of the prospective Saint's life under the direction of the hierarchy; and the juridical approach involving a "Devil's Advocate." In the East, a Saint is recognized as such by more of a bottom-up process: the community recognizes the Saint's holiness, which is then acknowledged and proclaimed by the hierarchy. It is worthy of note that under the current Pope, the Roman church is following more of an Eastern model in recognizing and declaring Saints."
http://www.htaoc.com/faith/qa_roman.html

As for the beatification process, Fr. Seraphim Rose has been deemed Blessed Seraphim of Platina, and he should be canonized as a saint rather soon.

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« Reply #9 on: May 11, 2005, 05:10:39 PM »

I've been told that "Blessed" and "Saint" means the same thing.  I don't remember the source though...
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« Reply #10 on: May 11, 2005, 05:14:49 PM »

I've been told that "Blessed" and "Saint" means the same thing. I don't remember the source though...

If that were true, Fr. Seraphim Rose would already be considered a saint.

"After being dead for several days and while lying in repose in a pauper's coffin at his wilderness monastery, visitors claimed that Father Seraphim did not succomb to decay and rigor mortis. His body remained supple while several claimed he smelled of roses. A cause for canonization was begun after Father Seraphim's burial. He eventually attained the title of Blessed after several miracles were attributed to him and now he awaits canonization into sainthood by an Orthodox synod."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seraphim_Rose
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« Reply #11 on: May 11, 2005, 05:21:28 PM »

Matthew, you wrote:

"Because some of Augustine's writings are in conflict with the teachings of Orthodoxy and because they have been misused by the Western "Augustinians" who followed him, he is viewed with some caution in the East as a Father of the Church."

As indeed I think he should be approached with caution. He taught the concept of predestination (as did Origen, from what I understand), and that babies who died unbaptized went to hell. These ideas are rejected by the Orthodox Church, and there may be other ideas of Augustine's which are rejected as well.

Nevertheless, it is a person's conduct, not their teachings, that qualifies sainthood. And for that reason alone, I think St. Augustine deserves the title of saint. He guided his North African city of Hippo when it was beseiged by the Vandals, and some accounts I've read say that he died of a disease that took ahold of that city because of the seige.

The reason for my question is this: In the Catholic Church, when a person is called "Blessed" that means they are considered beatified - worthy of sainthood, but not considered sainted as of yet. As an example, Pope JPII expedited the beatification process for Mother Theresa, and so she is called Blessed Theresa. But, she is not considered a saint yet because in the RC church, sainthood takes a long time to determine (just as, I'm presuming, in the Orthodox Church).

But the term "Blessed Augustine" sounds quaint to me, as I come from a Roman Catholic background but have joined the Orthodox Church. If the Orthodox are still trying to figure out whether to canonize Augustine, how long does it take, I might ask? He's been gone from Hippo for more than 1,500 years.
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« Reply #12 on: May 11, 2005, 05:25:28 PM »

But the term "Blessed Augustine" sounds quaint to me, as I come from a Roman Catholic background but have joined the Orthodox Church. If the Orthodox are still trying to figure out whether to canonize Augustine, how long does it take, I might ask? He's been gone from Hippo for more than 1,500 years.

Perhaps he is considered worthy of being called "Blessed" but not recognized as an Orthodox saint.
When considering the conduct of a theologian, I believe that the consequences of his teachings should be considered also.
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« Reply #13 on: May 11, 2005, 06:07:35 PM »



Perhaps he is considered worthy of being called "Blessed" but not recognized as an Orthodox saint.
When considering the conduct of a theologian, I believe that the consequences of his teachings should be considered also.

"Blessed" = Saint.
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« Reply #14 on: May 11, 2005, 06:09:41 PM »



"Blessed" = Saint.

As I said before, if that were true, Fr. Seraphim Rose would already be considered a saint.
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« Reply #15 on: May 11, 2005, 06:13:07 PM »



As I said before, if that were true, Fr. Seraphim Rose would already be considered a saint.

You're jumping to conclusions.  Remember how we have told you to think before you type?




Quote from: Elisha
Re: Blessed Augustine
-½ Reply #25 on: Fri, Mar 11, 2005, 08:44 PM -+     

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
About the title "Blessed" vs "Saint"...

This is verbatim from The Place of Blessed Augustine in the Orthodox Church by Fr. Seraphim Rose

VIII

Opinion of Blessed Augustine in Modern Times

"In the early years of Christianity, the word "Blessed" with reference to a man of holy life was used more or less interchangeably with the word "saint" or "holy".  This was not the result of any formal "canonization" - which did not exist in those centuries - but was based, rather, chiefly on popular veneration.  Thus, St. Martin of Tours (4th Century), an unquestioned saint and wonderworker, is referred to by early writers such as St. Gregory of Tours (6th Century) sometimes as "blessed" (beatus) and sometimes as "saint" (sanctus).  And so, when Augustine is referred to in the 5th century by St. Faustus of Lerins as "most blessed" (beatissimus), in the 6th century by St. Gregory the Great as "blessed" (beatus) and "saint" (sanctus), in the 9th century by St. Photius as "holy" (agios), these different titles all mean the same thing:  that Augustine was recognized as belonging to the rank of those outstanding for their sanctity and teaching.  In the West during these centuries his feast day was kept; in the East (where no special feast day would be kept for Wester saints) he was simply regarded as a Father of the Universal Church.

"By the time of St. Mark of Ephesus the word "blessed" had come to be used for Fathers of somewhat less authority as the greatest Fathers; thus, he refers to "blessed Augustine" but "divine Ambrose," "blessed Gregory of Nyssa" and "Gregory the Theologian, greatest among the saints"; but he is by no means entirely consistent in this usage."

"Even in modern times the word "blessed" remains somewhat vague in its application.  In Russian usage "blessed" (blazhenny) can refer to great Fathers around whom there has been some controversy (Augustine and Jerome in the West, Theodoret of Cyrus [my comment, typo that should be Cyprus?] in the East)), but also fools-for-Christ (canonized or uncanonized) and to the uncanonized holy persons of recent centuries in general.  Even today there is no precise definition of what "blessed" means in the Orthodox Church (as opposed to Roman Catholicism where "beatification" is a whole legal process in itself), and any "blessed" person who has a recognized place in the Orthodox calendar of saints (as do Augustine, Jerome, Theodoret, and many fools-for-Christ) could also be called "saint."  In Russian Orthodox practice one seldom hears of "Saint Augustine", but almost always of "Blessed Augustine."


This should settle the title issue.  Anymore, please buy the book - an excellent read.
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« Reply #16 on: May 11, 2005, 06:39:52 PM »

What about his struggles and life story? Was that interesting at all?

  Not to me.  I learned all I want to know about him from my Intro. to political theory class.
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« Reply #17 on: May 11, 2005, 07:25:47 PM »

"Why doesn't the Orthodox Church celebrate Augustine of Hippo as a Saint?


http://www.htaoc.com/faith/qa_roman.html


As for the beatification process, Fr. Seraphim Rose has been deemed Blessed Seraphim of Platina, and he should be canonized as a saint rather soon.



Furthermore, I would say that the "question" quoted above is probably in a hypothetical context and misleading.  The "answer" doesn't necessarily conflict with my quote from Fr. Seraphim's book.

As to Fr. Seraphim, called "Blessed" by whom?  Former CSB folk?  Anyone else?  As to the word "Blessed", I further say that it is probably thrown around inerrantly at times or in a loose manner at least.  You need to consider the context.  Fr. Seraphim may very well end up being deemed a saint, but I'm not going to jump the gun on that one.

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« Reply #18 on: May 11, 2005, 07:33:14 PM »

As I understand, the Orthodox Church recognizes all western saints who lived prior to 1054. Augustine is amongst them, therefore he's a saint. Orthodoxy (outside Russia) has no formal process for recognizing saints - that's left up to the local churches. Orthodoxy does not have a formal period of beatification, as in the Catholic Church. Therefore, IMHO, Augustine should get his due as a saint, as he was long ago recognized by his church in North Africa (and eventually in Rome) as a saint.

Amen.  I've never heard Augustine referred to in our Church as anything other than St. Augustine, although we would shy away from certain of his teachings. 
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« Reply #19 on: May 11, 2005, 09:52:18 PM »

I don't understand why some must object to everything and anything I say, even what I am right.

"I refer to "Blessed" Seraphim Rose (as some have begun to call him). In particular, his "Answer to a Critic," an unhappy response to Archbishop's Lazar's censure of his The Soul After Death, concerns me.(1) Fr Seraphim has reposed. One might complain that it is unfair to reprove someone who cannot defend himself. I have seen too many of his "answers." His disciples stand by his every word, they have painted and icon of him, and call him "Blessed" (the first step towards canonization, let them bear the onus of the criticism."
http://www.orthodoxcanada.org/062003/editorial.html

Even an author hostile to Blessed Seraphim is willing to acknolwedge his current status.
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« Reply #20 on: May 11, 2005, 10:18:28 PM »

Right, but there is no beatification process like in Catholicism. There just isn't. But the people assigning the title "Blessed" to someone would be a step towards glorification.

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« Reply #21 on: May 12, 2005, 01:46:11 AM »

Right, but there is no beatification process like in Catholicism. There just isn't. But the people assigning the title "Blessed" to someone would be a step towards glorification.

Yes, I believe  that is correct.
As for Augustine, I personally do not consider him a saint though I do hold his conversion experience as a great example for anyone who has struggled in their faith journey.
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« Reply #22 on: May 12, 2005, 01:55:19 AM »

Matthew,

1) First of all, this thread is about Bl. Augustine, not Fr. Seraphim Rose.

2) There are those that are enamored of Fr. Seraphim (he seemed to have been rather righteous and wrote some great works), but keep in mind that many of those are formerly of the Christ the Savior Brotherhood (a former cult) and they seem to elevate Fr. Serpahim to guru status.  I'm not going to be hasty about it.

3) Forgive me if I sound like I'm trying to discredit everything you say, but your posts often speak of rash foolishness.  I don't see how you can expect otherwise until you change your mindset on a number of things.

4) Finally, Bl. Augustine certainly is listed (as in my example from Fr. Seraphim's book) in the calendar of saints in several Orthodox Churches.  If you choose not to venerate him, that is fine - it is your choice.  I just hope my reference to the old post clears up any misunderstanding by anyone that Bl. Augustine is indeed considered a saint by many Churches and Church Fathers and what titles necessarily mean.

5) I really think the word "Blessed" is probably used a little inerrantly, since it is different from the word "saint". 
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« Reply #23 on: May 12, 2005, 01:59:33 AM »

but keep in mind that many of those are formerly of the Christ the Savior Brotherhood (a former cult) and they seem to elevate Fr. Serpahim to guru status. 

Fr. Seraphim Rose founded St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood which had no relationship with the Holy Order of MANS until after he died and certain members of the cult converted to Orthodoxy.
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« Reply #24 on: May 12, 2005, 11:25:42 AM »



Fr. Seraphim Rose founded St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood which had no relationship with the Holy Order of MANS until after he died and certain members of the cult converted to Orthodoxy.

Yes, but my point stands, as they are the ones who have control of St. Herman Press, based in Platina ever since Fr. Seraphim's repose.  So they are the ones the have promoted him so much.
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« Reply #25 on: May 12, 2005, 02:46:08 PM »

...and he deserves it. Smiley

Back to the OP:
Would anyone be bold enough to say that this is the best spiritual autobiography of all time? If not, which one would you prefer?
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« Reply #26 on: May 12, 2005, 02:49:07 PM »


Back to the OP:
Would anyone be bold enough to say that this is the best spiritual autobiography of all time? If not, which one would you prefer?

This isn't a competition (for post either Wink), but Bl. Augustine's Confessions sure are widely touted.
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« Reply #27 on: May 13, 2005, 05:00:33 PM »

To return to your original question. The Confessions of St Augustine played an important part in leading me to embrace the Christian faith after around thirty years of being secular. The first time I read them I was less interested in his finer theological points than in his journey from being a sensualist given over to the lusts of the flesh to becoming a new creation in Christ. The vision he shared with St Monica at Ostia also profoundly inspired me to search for God so that my heart could rest in his gracious presence.

24. And when our conversation had brought us to the point where the very highest of physical sense and the most intense illumination of physical light seemed, in comparison with the sweetness of that life to come, not worthy of comparison, nor even of mention, we lifted ourselves with a more ardent love toward the Selfsame, and we gradually passed through all the levels of bodily objects, and even through the heaven itself, where the sun and moon and stars shine on the earth. Indeed, we soared higher yet by an inner musing, speaking and marveling at thy works.

And we came at last to our own minds and went beyond them, that we might climb as high as that region of unfailing plenty where thou feedest Israel forever with the food of truth, where life is that Wisdom by whom all things are made, both which have been and which are to be. Wisdom is not made, but is as she has been and forever shall be; for "to have been" and "to be hereafter" do not apply to her, but only "to be," because she is eternal and "to have been" and "to be hereafter" are not eternal.

And while we were thus speaking and straining after her, we just barely touched her with the whole effort of our hearts. Then with a sigh, leaving the first fruits of the Spirit bound to that ecstasy, we returned to the sounds of our own tongue, where the spoken word had both beginning and end. But what is like to thy Word, our Lord, who remaineth in himself without becoming old, and "makes all things new"?

25. What we said went something like this: "If to any man the tumult of the flesh were silenced; and the phantoms of earth and waters and air were silenced; and the poles were silent as well; indeed, if the very soul grew silent to herself, and went beyond herself by not thinking of herself; if fancies and imaginary revelations were silenced; if every tongue and every sign and every transient thing -- for actually if any man could hear them, all these would say, 'We did not create ourselves, but were created by Him who abides forever' -- and if, having uttered this, they too should be silent, having stirred our ears to hear him who created them; and if then he alone spoke, not through them but by himself, that we might hear his word, not in fleshly tongue or angelic voice, nor sound of thunder, nor the obscurity of a parable, but might hear him -- him for whose sake we love these things -- if we could hear him without these, as we two now strained ourselves to do, we then with rapid thought might touch on that Eternal Wisdom which abides over all. And if this could be sustained, and other visions of a far different kind be taken away, and this one should so ravish and absorb and envelop its beholder in these inward joys that his life might be eternally like that one moment of knowledge which we now sighed after -- would not _this_ be the reality of the saying, 'Enter into the joy of thy Lord'? But when shall such a thing be? Shall it not be 'when we all shall rise again,' and shall it not be that 'all things will be changed'?"

26. Such a thought I was expressing, and if not in this manner and in these words, still, O Lord, thou knowest that on that day we were talking thus and that this world, with all its joys, seemed cheap to us even as we spoke. Then my mother said: "Son, for myself I have no longer any pleasure in anything in this life. Now that my hopes in this world are satisfied, I do not know what more I want here or why I am here. There was indeed one thing for which I wished to tarry a little in this life, and that was that I might see you a Catholic Christian before I died. My God hath answered this more than abundantly, so that I see you now made his servant and spurning all earthly happiness. What more am I to do here?"


On the subject of other spiritual autobiographies St Therese of Lisieux has been very influential in the Catholic world and beyond and repays reading. I do not know how the Orthodox view her of course.
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« Reply #28 on: May 13, 2005, 06:36:42 PM »

...

26. Such a thought I was expressing, and if not in this manner and in these words, still, O Lord, thou knowest that on that day we were talking thus and that this world, with all its joys, seemed cheap to us even as we spoke. Then my mother said: "Son, for myself I have no longer any pleasure in anything in this life. Now that my hopes in this world are satisfied, I do not know what more I want here or why I am here. There was indeed one thing for which I wished to tarry a little in this life, and that was that I might see you a Catholic Christian before I died. My God hath answered this more than abundantly, so that I see you now made his servant and spurning all earthly happiness. What more am I to do here?" [/color]

On the subject of other spiritual autobiographies St Therese of Lisieux has been very influential in the Catholic world and beyond and repays reading. I do not know how the Orthodox view her of course.

"Son, for myself I have no longer any pleasure in anything in this life. Now that my hopes in this world are satisfied, I do not know what more I want here or why I am here. There was indeed one thing for which I wished to tarry a little in this life, and that was that I might see you a Catholic Christian before I died. My God hath answered this more than abundantly, so that I see you now made his servant and spurning all earthly happiness. What more am I to do here?"

From the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy:

"In the vision at Ostia at Confessions IX.x.23-25, Augustine seems to suggest that the intelligible realm holds out the prospect of fulfilling our desire for the unity that we seek in friendship and love, a unity that can never really be achieved as long as we are immersed in the sensible world and separated by physical bodies subject to inevitable dissolution. The intelligible realm, with God as its source, promises the only lasting relief from the anxiety prompted by the transitory nature of the sensible realm.
....
The second way in which illumination enables us to surpass what we are able to accomplish by means of sense perception alone is even more tightly connected to Augustine's Neoplatonizing eudaimonism. For souls which have become immersed in the sensible world and which are thereby separated from other souls by bodies, illumination is crucial to our attempt to recapture our lost unity. Unlike the perspectival and private realm of sense perception, illumination holds out the prospect of fulfilling the yearning to which Augustine's eudaimonism gives such prominence, the yearning to find a realm wherein we can overcome the vulnerability that besets us and the moral distance that divides us from one another. Both Augustine's Confessions and De Civitate Dei in their own ways portray this sort of philosophical and spiritual pilgrimage, and one would be hard pressed to find a better example than the vision at Ostia at Confessions IX.10.23-25. There, Augustine and his mother Monica manage, albeit fleetingly, to find themselves in a place that is clearly not in space, united in a way that overcomes the distance imposed by their mortal bodies. This unification is for Augustine the eudaimonistic conclusion through which the pursuit of knowledge is vindicated and to which it is, ultimately, to be subordinated."


Augustine was attracted to Plato’s doctrine of the forms and Plotinus’ notion that evil is not part of reality, but rather the privation or lack of goodness.


The Bible and Tradition


A basic characteristic of the Frankish (Germanic-Latin) scholastic method, mislead by Augustinian Platonism and Thomistic Aristotelianism had been its naive confidence in the objective existence of things rationally speculated about. By following Augustine, the Franks and the "Latin" Roman Catholic Church substituted the patristic concern for spiritual observation, (which they had found firmly established in Gaul when they first conquered the area) with a Germanic fascination for metaphysics

In contrast to the Franks the Fathers of the Orthodox Church did not understand theology as a theoretical or speculative science, but as a positive science in all respects. This is why the patristic understanding of Biblical inspiration is similar to the inspiration of writings in the field of the positive sciences.

Scientific manuals are inspired by the observations of specialists. For example, the astronomer records what he observes by means of the instruments at his disposal. Because of his training in the use of his instruments, he is inspired by the heavenly bodies, and sees things invisible to the naked eye. The same is true of all the positive sciences. However, books about science can never replace scientific observations. These writings are not the observations themselves, but about these observations.

The same is true of the Orthodox understanding of the Bible and the writings of the Fathers. Neither the Bible nor the writings of the Fathers are revelation or the word of God. They are about revelation and about the word of God.

Revelation is the appearance of God to the prophets, apostles, and saints. The Bible and the writings of the Fathers are about these appearances, but not the appearances themselves. This is why it is the prophet, apostle, and saint who sees God, and not those who simply read about their experiences of glorification. It is obvious that neither a book about glorification nor one who reads such a book can ever replace the prophet, apostle, or saint who has the experience of glorification.

This is the heart of the Orthodox understanding of tradition and apostolic succession which sets it apart from the "Latin" (in other words, Frankish-Germanic) and Protestant traditions, both of which stem from the theology of the Franks.

Following Augustine, the Franks identified revelation with the Bible and believed that Christ gave to the Church the Holy Spirit as a guide to its correct understanding. This would be similar to claiming that the books about biology were revealed by microbes and cells without the biologists having seen them with the microscope, and that these same microbes and cells inspire future teachers to correctly understand these books without the use of the microscope!

Historians have noted the naivite of the Frankish religious mind which was shocked by the first claims for the primacy of observation over rational analysis. Even Galileo's telescopes could not shake this confidence. However, several centuries before Galileo, the Franks had been shocked by the East Roman (Orthodox) claim, hurled by Saint Gregory Palamas (1296-1359), of the primacy of experience and observation over "reason" in theology.

Instruments, Observation, Concepts, and Language

The universe has turned out to be a much greater mystery to man than anyone was ever able to imagine. Indications are strong that it will yet prove to be an even greater mystery than man today can yet imagine. In the light of this, one thinks humorously of the (Latin) bishops who could not grasp the reality, let alone the magnitude, of what they saw through Galileo's telescope. But the magnitude of Frankish naivite becomes even greater when one realizes that these same church leaders who could not understand the meaning of a simple observation were claiming knowledge of God's essence and nature.

The Latin tradition could not understand the significance of an instrument by which the prophets, apostles, and saints had reached glorification.

Similar to today's sciences, Orthodox theology also depends on an instrument which is not identified with reason or the intellect. The Biblical name for this is the heart. Christ says, "Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God."

The heart is not normally clean, i.e., it does not normally function properly. Like the lens of a telescope or microscope, it must be polished so that light may pass through and allow man to focus his spiritual vision on things not visible to the naked eye.

In time, some Fathers gave the name nous (nou'~) to the faculty of the soul which operates within the heart when restored to normal capacity, and reserved the names logos (lovgo") and dianoia (diavnoia)for the intellect and reason, or for what we today would call the brain. In order to avoid confusion, we use the terms noetic faculty and noetic prayer to designate the activity of the nou'~ in the heart called noerav eujchv.

The heart, and not the brain, is the area in which the theologian is formed. Theology includes the intellect as all sciences do, but it is in the heart that the intellect and all of man observes and experiences the rule of God. One of the basic differences between science and Orthodox theology is that man has his heart or noetic faculty by nature, whereas he himself has created his instruments of scientific observation.

A second basic difference is the following: By means of his instruments, and the energy radiated by and/or upon what he observes, the scientist sees things which he can describe with words, even though at times inadequately. These words are symbols of accumulated human experience, and understood by those with the same or similar experience.

In contrast to this, the experience of glorification is to see God who has no similarity whatsoever to anything created, not even to the intellect or to the angels. God is literally unique and can in no way be described by comparison with anything that any creature may be, know or imagine. No aspect about God can be expressed in a concept or collection of concepts.

It is for this reason that in Orthodoxy positive statements about God are counterbalanced by negative statements, not in order to purify the positive ones of their imperfections, but in order to make clear that God is in no way similar to the concepts conveyed by words, since God is above every name and concept ascribed to Him. Although God created the universe, which continues to depend on Him, God and the universe do not belong to one category of truth. Truths concerning creation cannot apply to God, nor can the truth of God be applied to creation.

Diagnosis and Therapy

Let us turn our attention to those aspects of differences between Roman and Frankish theologies which have had a strong impact on the development of differences in the doctrine of the Church. The basic differences may be listed under diagnosis of spiritual ills and their therapy.

According to the Orthodox Church, the "East Romans," Glorification is the vision of God in which the equality of all men and the absolute value of each man is experienced. God loves all men equally and indiscriminately, regardless of even their moral status. God loves with the same love, both the saint and the devil. To teach otherwise, as Augustine and the Franks did, would be adequate proof that they did not have the slightest idea of what glorification was.
....
Augustine had no patience with the teaching that the Angel of the Lord, the fire, the glory, the cloud, and the Pentecostal tongues of fire, were verbal symbols of the uncreated realities immediately communicated with by the prophets and apostles, since for him this would mean that all this language pointed to a vision of the divine substance. For the bishop of Hippo this vision is identical to the whole of what is uncreated, and could be seen only by a Neoplatonic type ecstasy of the soul, out of the body within the sphere of timeless and motionless eternity transcending all discursive reasoning. Since this is not what he found in the Bible, the visions therein described are not verbal symbols of real visions of God, but of creatures symbolizing eternal realities. The created verbal symbols of the Bible became created objective symbols. In other words, words which symbolized uncreated energies like fire, etc., became objectively real created fires, clouds, tongues, etc.

This failure of Augustine to distinguish between the divine essence and its natural energies (of which some are communicated to the friends of God), led to a very peculiar reading of the Bible, wherein creatures or symbols come into existence in order to convey a divine message, and then pass out of existence. Thus, the Bible becomes full of unbelievable miracles and a text dictated by God.

Besides this, the biblical concept of heaven and hell also becomes distorted, since the eternal fires of hell and the outer darkness become creatures also whereas, they are the uncreated glory of God as seen by those who refuse to love. Thus, one ends up with the three-story universe problem, with God in a place, etc., necessitating a demythologizing of the Bible in order to salvage whatever one can of a quaint Christian tradition for modern man. However, it is not the Bible itself which needs demythologizing, but the Augustinian Franco-Latin tradition and the caricature which it passed off in the West as "Greek" Patristic theology.

By not taking the above-mentioned foundations of Roman Patristic theology of the Ecumenical Synods seriously as the key to interpreting the Bible, modern biblical scholars have applied presuppositions latent in Augustine with such methodical consistency that they have destroyed the unity and identity of the Old and New Testaments, and have allowed themselves to be swayed by Judaic interpretations of the Old Testament rejected by Christ himself. Thus, instead of dealing with the concrete person of the Angel of God, Lord of Glory, Angel of Great Council, Wisdom of God and identifying Him with the Logos made flesh and Christ, and accepting this as the doctrine of the Trinity, most, if not all, Western scholars have ended up identifying Christ only with Old Testament Messiahship, and equating the doctrine of the Trinity with the development of extra Biblical Trinitarian terminology within what is really not a Patristic framework, but an Augustinian one. Thus, the so-called "Greek" Fathers are still read in the light of Augustine, with the Russians after Peter Mogila joining in.

Another most devastating result of the Augustinian presuppositions of the filioque is the destruction of the prophetic and apostolic understanding of grace and its replacement with the whole system of created graces distributed in Latin Christendom by the hocus pocus of the clergy.

..."



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« Reply #29 on: May 15, 2005, 12:27:25 AM »

lpap, may i please ask, what is your point?
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« Reply #30 on: May 16, 2005, 01:13:40 PM »

No kidding.

There is a lot that has been called "Augustinian" that I don't think Augustine would have acknowledged.  First and foremost, St. Augustine new right well he was dabbling in places he probably shouldn't have and on several occasions said that if anything he taught was contradicted by the Church that the Church was to be followed and that he was in error.

The Church has contradicted some of St. (Blessed, whatever) Augistine's teachings.  So follow Augustine's advice.
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« Reply #31 on: November 16, 2005, 01:00:00 PM »

I must say I've never heard Augustine's status as an Orthodox saint questioned.  Many Orthodox fathers and theologians, starting probably with his contemporary St. John Cassian, had some reservations about his speculations, but he has always been on the calendar of saints ("St. Augustine the Great" on the Greek calendar; "Blessed Augustine" on the Slavic). 

I love St. Augustine's Confessions: when I was in the process of converting to Orthodoxy from Evangelicalism, it was this book that helped me to bridge the gap between a personal conversion experience and the necessity of the Church's sacramental life.  St. Augustine had his dramatic personal conversion experience upon reading the passage from Romans, but then his very next thought was, 'I need to go to the Church now to be born again through baptism.'  I could see a mirror of my own experience in this: a personal conversion under the Evangelicals, but still the necessity of a Church that offered the traditional sacraments.

I have reservations about some of St. Augustine's writings, as do most Orthodox.  He ably defended the Faith against Manicheeism and Pelagianism, but then he stressed divine grace so much that he helped lead later generations of thinkers into heresy.  The second part of On the Trinity is my least favorite of his writings, where he expounds on the Holy Spirit as the "bond of love" that the Father and Son give each other.  This seems to be the first explicit explication of the theology behind the Filioque clause in the writings of the Latin churches. 

But I also have reservations about St. Irenaeus' millennialism, and St. Gregory of Nyssa's universal salvation.  We do not believe any father to be inerrant.  The historical witness of the Church is our guide, and I don't recall ever seeing an Orthodox calendar where St. Augustine is not commemorated (either Aug. 30, or I think, June 15).  There are even some western rite Antiochian parishes named after him. 

And I'm not convinced that there's any real distinction between "blessed" and "saint" in Orthodox terminology.  Some people follow the western terminology and consider them to be two different "classifications," but I don't think that this was always true in the eastern or western churches.  (Consider "Blessed Virgin Mary" in the west!)  Seraphim Rose may be a "blessed," or he may not be.  Those who call him this are not saying anything substantially different than "saint." 

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« Reply #32 on: November 16, 2005, 01:40:01 PM »

AFAIK, "Blessed", "Saint" ("Holy"), and "Righteous" are equivalents. There may be others.
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« Reply #33 on: June 26, 2009, 11:51:08 PM »

I read Augustine's "Confessions" years ago while I was still an evangelical Protestant. I really enjoyed it, although the last section on "Space and Time" went right over my head. His conversion story alone is worth reading the book. I also loved the philsophy, although now that I am Orthodox I try not to depend too much on my own human logic and rely more on faith in Divine mystery. Augustine makes brilliant philosophical arguments for the Christian Faith; but at the end of the day it is not our logic or argumentation that will save us. And of course Augustine would be the first to say this. A little too much Platonism and Aristotelianism in Augustine and Aquinas- actually way too much. But I think the book is worth reading. It's certainly a Christian classic. I'm sure you will find something that inspires you both spiritually and intellectually within its pages.

Selam
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“Lord, I say too many uncharitable things about people every day. I say them because they make me look clever. Help me to realize how cheap this is. I am stupid, quite as stupid as the people I ridicule. Help me to stop this selfishness, because I love You dear God." ~ FLANNERY O'CONNOR ~
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