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Author Topic: Neo-Bogomilism Orthodoxy  (Read 2021 times) Average Rating: 0
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BasilCan
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« on: February 14, 2006, 12:23:34 AM »

Being a fast free week, a "non fast" discussion with a friend came up with this question:

Is Eastern Orthodoxy today really a form of neo-bogomilism? Meaning - if Orthodoxy states that salvation really is the goal of theosis, which it seems to state, are only monks "the elect" capable of achieving this?  Are those of us who enjoy relations with our wives, watching our kids play baseball, vacationing in Colorado, but also attending our churches regularly, tithing and going to bible study and "doing our best" damned?

Basil
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« Reply #1 on: February 14, 2006, 12:43:51 AM »

Each person is capable of attaining theosis within their life niche; soldiers became saints, just as emperors, monks, mothers and fathers.  This is the historical truth of Orthodoxy, witnessed through the lives of the saints and the tradition of the CHurch.  So, the answer is no!
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« Reply #2 on: February 14, 2006, 12:47:30 AM »

Your quite correct, but from my reading of the Synaxarion, these "non monastic saints" attained theosis either by martyrtom (execution) or by becoming monastics at the end of their life. See what I mean?Huh
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« Reply #3 on: February 14, 2006, 12:54:26 AM »

Execution martyrdoms in the Greek Church hit a lull between the 5th century and the 15th... there were plenty of guys (like Photios, Justinian, Constantine) who were "career men" who became saints; plus, we always acknowledge that the Saints that we have recognized only represent a small percentage of all the saints in heaven - how do we know that that sweet old baker in the village didn't make it?
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« Reply #4 on: February 14, 2006, 01:11:51 AM »

I think the "goal" of theosis is union with God. To say it is salvation is more of a protestant way of looking at it. The goal of life, for the most common, illeiterate peasant attending divine liturgy and saying some prayers learned at their mother's knee, or for the most extreme ascetic, or for a dad with a job and kids, who likes to take a nice vacation and other typcally American middle class lifestyle perks is equally to have union with God. We experience that most of all in the Eucharist in this life. Any spiritual disciplines we can add, like a rule of prayer, fasting, giving alms, help us.

Theosis is a process. We are all on the path to deification. If we are baptized & chrismated, avail ourselves of confession and liturgy and the eucharist we will hopefully enter the eternal kingdom and we will be changed into his likeness. How much of that change we realize in this life is in our hands to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. Also, the more we realize in this life the greater will be our joy and partaking of the divine nature in the next.

The blessing for us in being able to witness and recognize deification in the lives of the saints is that it sets a goal and example for us to strive for, as well as hope.  At one point they were each like us. Who knows where we will be on the ladder of divine ascent a year from or now or ten years from now.

My whole point being that theosis is a dynamic process, not a static state, possible for all Orthodox Christians.
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« Reply #5 on: February 14, 2006, 01:21:31 AM »

Your quite correct, but from my reading of the Synaxarion, these "non monastic saints" attained theosis either by martyrtom (execution) or by becoming monastics at the end of their life. See what I mean?Huh

To whom much is given much is demanded in return, bishops, priests, and monastics will have the hardest time entering the kingdom of God. It is far more likely that a layman, or a non-Christian, will be saved than any of them. I suspect most of the people in hell will be 'good' Christians.
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Fr. George
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« Reply #6 on: February 14, 2006, 08:03:48 AM »

To whom much is given much is demanded in return, bishops, priests, and monastics will have the hardest time entering the kingdom of God. It is far more likely that a layman, or a non-Christian, will be saved than any of them. I suspect most of the people in hell will be 'good' Christians.

Amen.  The CHurch has been pretty explicit about this - for the clergy, entering heaven will be difficult because they are responsible for the souls of their flocks (according to Chrysostom - I think - he says a priest/bishop won't be saved unless every single member of his flock is); meanwhile, the monks will have a difficult time because of their withdrawl from the world; there is less excuse and understanding of their falling into temptation, especially because they have removed many of the tempting elements from their lives!
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« Reply #7 on: February 14, 2006, 08:08:37 AM »

Your quite correct, but from my reading of the Synaxarion, these "non monastic saints" attained theosis either by martyrtom (execution) or by becoming monastics at the end of their life. See what I mean?Huh

Well I can think of several saints off the top of my head that were neither monastics nor martyrs. Are you really saying that you can't think of any?

James
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« Reply #8 on: February 14, 2006, 08:14:00 AM »

Well I can think of several saints off the top of my head that were neither monastics nor martyrs. Are you really saying that you can't think of any?   

I can see how recall of the names of these kinds of saints would be difficult, since the saints held in highest regard by the Church: a) the majority are either martyrs or clergy; b) the majority lived before the 6th century; c) are the select few that get repeated veneration - there are 24+ guys here at HC with the name 'George,' and another 15 with Demetrios, but only one Kevin (St. of Ireland).
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« Reply #9 on: February 14, 2006, 08:28:35 AM »

I can see how recall of the names of these kinds of saints would be difficult, since the saints held in highest regard by the Church: a) the majority are either martyrs or clergy; b) the majority lived before the 6th century; c) are the select few that get repeated veneration - there are 24+ guys here at HC with the name 'George,' and another 15 with Demetrios, but only one Kevin (St. of Ireland).

Well, I agree with you there, but for me at least one non-monastic, non-martyred saint immediately springs to mind because he is the patron saint of my son, Stephen the Great, Voievod of Moldova. I can also think of several others, but the existence of just one saint recognised as such by the Church who is neither a monastic nor a martyr is surely enough to derail any accusation such as that raised in the OP?

James
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« Reply #10 on: February 14, 2006, 09:09:36 AM »

Well, I agree with you there, but for me at least one non-monastic, non-martyred saint immediately springs to mind because he is the patron saint of my son, Stephen the Great, Voievod of Moldova. I can also think of several others, but the existence of just one saint recognised as such by the Church who is neither a monastic nor a martyr is surely enough to derail any accusation such as that raised in the OP?

Oh, absolutely.  But it is understandable that the most "popular" and well-known saints of the Church were r very early, were martyred, or monastic, so I can understand the difficulties (I mean, how many saints of the Kiev caves are there?  of Mt. Athos?).  But in the end, the Church makes the claim that the saints we do know of are just the tip of the iceberg, and that it is easier for the normal, everyday-type person to make it into heaven than the clergy or monks.  I mean, imagine how many "regular 'ol joes" there are in heaven if we have this many monastic and clergy saints?
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« Reply #11 on: February 14, 2006, 09:12:12 AM »

I think the Synaxarion purposely has extreme cases in it to try and get us inspired and worked up. Yes, it is possible to live that way.  But more likely we won't so by raising the bar (like in fasting) the Fathers hope we'll make a go of it.  My theory, for what it's worth. I was troubled by the fact that there are so few married saints who lived normal lives with their spouses in the Synaxarion but then I remembered it was written mainly for monks and voila it wouldn't make as much sense then to fill it with stories of pious Christian familes. There were lots of pious Christian families to look up to then and now and I guess it would be redundant to write about them in the Synaxarion, when people are less likely to hear about the exploits of ascetics. I don't know, just a guess.

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« Reply #12 on: February 14, 2006, 11:59:27 AM »

Execution martyrdoms in the Greek Church hit a lull between the 5th century and the 15th... there were plenty of guys (like Photios, Justinian, Constantine) who were "career men" who became saints; plus, we always acknowledge that the Saints that we have recognized only represent a small percentage of all the saints in heaven - how do we know that that sweet old baker in the village didn't make it?

That is why we celebrate  All Saints  day. To honor those little guys, like the sweet baker,who ran the race and won their crown. I believe there are many such people in heaven and may God grant this blessing to each of us!

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« Reply #13 on: February 14, 2006, 03:34:10 PM »

That would make a good book project for historical research inclined people - stories about saints  (or just good Orthdox lay people) who were married and had jobs/responsibilites out in the "world"

Devotionals with excerpts from sermons by the Fathers directed at the people "in the pew" (except that Orthdox didn't have pews back then - and still shouldn't, so I use the term as a manner of speaking) - ie. directed to everyday Christians

[one Orthodox writer who does a nice job of this very type of thing is Fr John Mack (Conciliar Press)]

Also (other ideas):
ideas for making feast days special when you can't attend weekday liturgies

real life stories from people who find creative ways of  following the hours of prayer or some rule of prayer in their busy work schedules

ideas for turning vacations into pilgimages to Orthodox sites

things to help laypeople interpret and relate things in their Orthodox experience (that may have a decidedly monastic flavor to them) to their rather ordinary, non-monastic lives

I alluded to this in another thread (referring to the idea as a lay piety) and I think it alarmed some pople making them think "watered down" piety (becasue it came in a discussion of fasting requirements) or somehow changing Tradition - rather I am suggesting here a fereting out of the existing Tradition what is already there but may be hard to find



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« Reply #14 on: February 14, 2006, 10:53:31 PM »

Thanks for your well thoughout replies.  Yes, there are many saints, known and unknown, who were not monks, but sometimes, if you come to the services (or at least read them) you can lose heart. It often seems that our salvation or thesosis or deliverance from hell and death is impossible. I think this is why some Orthodox leave and become Evangelicals. At least with them, they seem to push the positive, while we often "push" the negative.  Don't get me wrong here, "easy theology" is no theology, but for the simple majority of us (myself included) it looks attractive.

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« Reply #15 on: February 14, 2006, 10:55:33 PM »

Thanks for your well thoughout replies.  Yes, there are many saints, known and unknown, who were not monks, but sometimes, if you come to the services (or at least read them) you can lose heart. It often seems that our salvation or thesosis or deliverance from hell and death is impossible. I think this is why some Orthodox leave and become Evangelicals. At least with them, they seem to push the positive, while we often "push" the negative.  Don't get me wrong here, "easy theology" is no theology, but for the simple majority of us (myself included) it looks attractive.

Basil

Where exactly are you getting your theology from? My theology now as an Orthodox Christian is FAR more positive and perhaps even 'easy' though 'easy' and 'hard' are strange descriptors to use for theology, than it was as a protestant.
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« Reply #16 on: February 14, 2006, 11:44:59 PM »

I agree with GiC; Orthodox theology is way more positive and stresses way far mor the love of God than evangelical doctrine does.

I have far more spiritual freedom and joy in my life now that I am Orthodox; alot more confidence and positive outlook on life

I feel for the first time in my life (and I was born into an evangelical family) that God actually does love me.
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« Reply #17 on: February 15, 2006, 01:43:41 AM »

It depends on which groups you are talking about, and which local congregations for that matter.

Regarding the difficulty of seculars being saved, there are a couple versions of a story in the Sayings of the Desert Fathers, that goes something like this. A monk has struggled a very long time in the desert and has reached what seems to be a very virtuous life. An angel or fellow monk says to the person, yes you are virtuous, but so-and-so living in the city is even more virtuous. Being somewhat confused how someone who is married, has a secular job, and lives in the city could surpass a hermit in virtue, the monk goes to the city to visit the person. Here the stories diverge somewhat depending on version, but the basic jist is, the city-dwelling man is humble, gives alms as he can, tries to live a Christian life, and so forth. He hasn't engaged in any incredible ascetic endeavors... living in the world and remaining pure is hardship enough! Thus, even though the city-dweller might not have appeared to have done things as great as the hermit, in reality he had done far greater things. So, God judges us by our life, and takes into consider the context in which we live our life. St. Gregory the Theologian said:

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It is better both to attain the good and to keep the purification. But if it be impossible to do both it is surely better to be a little stained with your public affairs than to fall altogether short of grace; just as I think it better to undergo a slight punishment from father or master than to be put out of doors; and to be a little beamed upon than to be left in total darkness. And it is the part of wise men to choose, as in good things the greater and more perfect, so in evils the lesser and lighter. Wherefore do not overmuch dread the purification. For our success is always judged by comparison with our place in life by our just and merciful Judge; and often one who is in public life and has had small success has had a greater reward than one who in the enjoyment of liberty has not completely succeeded; as I think it more marvellous for a man to advance a little in fetters, than for one to run who is not carrying any weight; or to be only a little spattered in walking through mud, than to be perfectly clean when the road is clean. To give you a proof of what I have said:- Rahab the harlot was justified by one thing alone, her hospitality, though she receives no praise for the rest of her conduct; and the Publican was exalted by one thing, his humility, though he received no testimony for anything else; so that you may learn not easily to despair concerning yourself. -Oration 40, 19
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BasilCan
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« Reply #18 on: February 15, 2006, 09:41:05 AM »

Wow,

Thanks Asteriktos. You really put things into perspective for me. I now feel I have something I can take back to my evangelical friends to discuss.

Basil
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« Reply #19 on: February 15, 2006, 09:29:01 PM »

yes a very helpful and enlightening post
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