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Author Topic: What Makes Christianity Unique?  (Read 4317 times) Average Rating: 0
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falafel333
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« on: May 10, 2006, 10:36:51 AM »

Many will claim that it is the Christian ethic which makes it stand out from other religions, however, one can find the golden rule and even the love of enemy in many ancient traditions which predate Christianity.

Miracles and prophecies are also held claim by many faiths.

So what then uniquely and most genuinely distinguishes Christianity from all other faiths, systems, philosophies and beliefs?
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« Reply #1 on: May 10, 2006, 12:28:56 PM »

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So what then uniquely and most genuinely distinguishes Christianity from all other faiths, systems, philosophies and beliefs?

1.  God is love

2. The incarnation
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« Reply #2 on: May 10, 2006, 12:47:23 PM »

So what then uniquely and most genuinely distinguishes Christianity from all other faiths, systems, philosophies and beliefs?

I don't know if one could say there is anything completely and totally unique about Christianity (depending on how one uses the word "unique"). Certain types of Hinduism speak of divine incarnations, for example. So the real question is not, "Does Christianity have a teaching or practice that cannot be found in any form in some other religion or philosophy"? but, rather, "What is Christianity's distinct identity?"

Take the Hinduism bit as a case study: Does Hinduism's divine incarnation(s) mean the same thing within Hindu thought and practice as Christ's Incarnation does within Christianity? No, of course not. Thus, the spermatikos logos may be seen to varying degrees in many different locales, but the "uniqueness" of Christianity is its catholicity -- its holistic, all-encompassing, paradoxical and, ultimately, revelatory experience and proclamation of faith as communal life in Christ.
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« Reply #3 on: May 10, 2006, 09:18:53 PM »

But cannot this even be seen in an eastern light since the concept of Logos or spermatikos logos itself is borrowed from Hellenistic philosophy and is even present in eastern philosophy, is this then too in anyway unique?
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« Reply #4 on: May 11, 2006, 02:42:09 PM »

But cannot this even be seen in an eastern light since the concept of Logos or spermatikos logos itself is borrowed from Hellenistic philosophy and is even present in eastern philosophy, is this then too in anyway unique?

 Huh Did I say that the Church's "uniqueness" was the idea of the Logos or the spermatikos logos? Let me re-read my post....nope. I happened to MENTION the spermatikos logos, certainly, but that was not the point of my post at all. Perhaps you should re-read it.

If you prefer to completely ignore the point of the original post, then let's start over with this new example: No, the concept of Logos is not "unique" to Christianity. However, applying one of the actual points of my post, one must ask: Is the Christian idea of Logos identical to that of Stoicism? No, it's not. Thus, Christianity may not have complete uniqueness in this regard, but rather, a distinct interpretation and application.

Further, what is certainly "unique" is Christianity's particular combination of its constitutive elements -- not to mention its particular interpretation and application of them.

The "spermatikos logos" is just a way of explaining, perhaps, WHY this is the case, i.e. there are bits and pieces of truths in many locales, but, within the Church, all of these truths are revealed in their full catholicity; they are brought together, re-cast, set in their proper place and experienced as a unified whole.
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« Reply #5 on: May 11, 2006, 07:43:19 PM »

What makes Christianity unique:

Christ .. the Son of God  Smiley
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« Reply #6 on: May 11, 2006, 09:17:37 PM »

Divine Incarnations can be found outside of Christianity as well...

pensateomnia, can you be more specific?
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« Reply #7 on: May 11, 2006, 09:52:23 PM »

Divine Incarnations can be found outside of Christianity as well...

In one sense, certainly. But all other the incarnations involved gods taking forms without divinity and humanity being fully united, or else having them united before the incarnation. The first case makes the incarnations more of an illusion, and the second makes it a manifestation because the unity is already there. So, in that sense Christianity is the only one to have it as far as I am aware.
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« Reply #8 on: May 11, 2006, 10:00:40 PM »

I suppose all of the metaphysical components of incarnation are probably not addressed as thoroughly as they may be in Christianity and therefore it is difficult to confirm the allegations you make. Nonetheless, divine incarnations, do exist outside of Christianity and these incarnations do in fact seem real enough.
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« Reply #9 on: May 11, 2006, 10:12:03 PM »

I suppose all of the metaphysical components of incarnation are probably not addressed as thoroughly as they may be in Christianity and therefore it is difficult to confirm the allegations you make. Nonetheless, divine incarnations, do exist outside of Christianity and these incarnations do in fact seem real enough.

But they aren't incarnations, by the definition of the word, because they don't truly unite the human and divine. Plus, the very fact that these simple ideas and questions have not been considered seems to show the real credibility of the other instances...
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« Reply #10 on: May 11, 2006, 11:26:18 PM »

I think I'd have to disagree as these divine incarnations experience birth, suffering and death just like real humans do. And just because they haven't been thought out metaphysically really doesn't mean much as the metaphysical theology we have inherited today is an outgrowth of the Orthodox response to heretical developments of the time, rather than an active probing into divine mysteries, a practise the fathers were much averse to and only indulged in reluctantly in order to respond to innovators.
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« Reply #11 on: May 11, 2006, 11:29:11 PM »

I think I'd have to disagree as these divine incarnations experience birth, suffering and death just like real humans do. And just because they haven't been thought out metaphysically really doesn't mean much as the metaphysical theology we have inherited today is an outgrowth of the Orthodox response to heretical developments of the time, rather than an active probing into divine mysteries, a practise the fathers were much averse to and only indulged in reluctantly in order to respond to innovators.

The sources of the theology are irrelevant. What matters is that it should be essentially similar for any religion that claims incarnation, but it isn't.
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« Reply #12 on: May 15, 2006, 01:47:47 AM »

I can think of a few things, but there must be so many.

1.  Christ rose from the dead.  I haven't heard or seen that in any other faith, reincarnation certainly is not the same.

2.  The totally accurate fulfillment of Biblical prophecy in the birth, life, death and resurrection of Christ.  Chuck Smith once did an amazing exegesis of this topic, giving the mathematic probabilities of all these prophecies being fulfilled.  They were astronomical.

3.  The virgin birth. (I haven't heard that one in other faiths)

4.  A gospel of suffering, "Deny yourself, pick up your cross and follow me."  I don't see the ascetic practices of other faiths as being the same thing.

5.  The implication in the above, that we can "help" Christ carry His cross;  "Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of his body, which is the church..."    The idea of redemptive suffering, whereby graces are released as we offer our suffering to Him on behalf of other souls.

6.  That in our weakness, His power is perfected.  We do not strive to attain sanctity, we yield to His will and with the help of His grace,  empty ourselves of our own devices, becoming little children, he brings about the work of perfection.

7.  In His humility He comes down into the bread and wine, transforming it into His Body and Blood, and nourishes us on it, daily.

8.  We have seven sacraments to aid in the work of salvation, and service.

9.  Our God is Three Distinct Persons in One.

10.  He has sent His Spirit to dwell within us, empowering us to serve, and continuing the work of sanctification.

11.  Our God has taken on the form of man, and made Himself subject to man in the incarnation,  to set an example for us on how we must live.

12.  An absolute moral law,(most faiths that I am aware of don't have a concept of sin, just mistakes and bad judgement)   the concept of sin, the sinner and forgiveness of sin.

 









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« Reply #13 on: May 15, 2006, 12:29:58 PM »

1.ÂÂ  Christ rose from the dead.ÂÂ  I haven't heard or seen that in any other faith, reincarnation certainly is not the same.

Uhhhhhhh....Tammuz? Osiris? Mithras? Depending on the myth, Dionysus and Hades too. Dying and rising gods, godmen and divine-like men are very, very common in both Ancient Near Eastern religions and the Hellenistic world.

Quote
3.ÂÂ  The virgin birth. (I haven't heard that one in other faiths)

Isis supposedly gave parthenogenetic birth to Horus.

Quote
4.ÂÂ  A gospel of suffering, "Deny yourself, pick up your cross and follow me."ÂÂ  I don't see the ascetic practices of other faiths as being the same thing.

This may be true. In many forms of Hinduism and Buddhism, denial of the self is LITERALLY denial of the self and, ultimately, absorption of the "person" (which doesn't actually exist) into true impersonal Existence.

Quote
5.  The implication in the above, that we can "help" Christ carry His cross;  "Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of his body, which is the church..."  ÃƒÆ’‚  The idea of redemptive suffering, whereby graces are released as we offer our suffering to Him on behalf of other souls.

Well, yeah, it's distinct from Hinduism or Buddhism because Christian redemptive suffering does not efface the personal identity of the individual. But suffering plays an important role in many Oriental religious practices.

Quote
11.ÂÂ  Our God has taken on the form of man, and made Himself subject to man in the incarnation,ÂÂ  to set an example for us on how we must live.

Many, many ancient cultures had stories about different kinds of mothers giving birth to divine-human sons. These divine-human sons did many things like Jesus, e.g. taught, showed people the way, even sacrificed themselves...

Quote
12.  An absolute moral law,(most faiths that I am aware of don't have a concept of sin, just mistakes and bad judgement)  ÃƒÆ’‚ the concept of sin, the sinner and forgiveness of sin.

Hmmm...absolute moral law as a prerequisite for the concept of sin? Interesting. I suppose it depends on what you mean by moral law. That said, you may be on to something here. At least compared to MOST ancient cultures and religions, Judeo-Christianity is certainly unusual -- if not unique -- in its understanding of sin, personal guilt and divine forgiveness. Most historians label this "guilt culture" (Judeo-Christian) vs. "shame culture" (most everyone else).

Along with this, some historians credit Christian sensibilities with the full creation of the idea of the individual, since other religious/philosophical systems focus almost exclusively on either corporate guilt or the individual's shame as defined by corporate standards.
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« Reply #14 on: May 15, 2006, 04:56:31 PM »

author=pensateomnia
Uhhhhhhh....Tammuz? Osiris? Mithras? Depending on the myth, Dionysus and Hades too. Dying and rising gods, godmen and divine-like men are very, very common in both Ancient Near Eastern religions and the Hellenistic world.


What is different here is that this is historical fact, there were verified eye witness accounts.  This is not a myth that has been perpetuated, but a solidly documented historical event (via witnesses).

What is also unique, are the Messianic prophesies in the Scriptures that fortell this event, event by event.

Isis supposedly gave parthenogenetic birth to Horus.

This again was a historical event with witnesses,  the three wisemen, the documented facts of the census, the slaughter of the innocents.  The historical details that prove it is not a myth.

Well, yeah, it's distinct from Hinduism or Buddhism because Christian redemptive suffering does not efface the personal identity of the individual. But suffering plays an important role in many Oriental religious practices.

But all of these are practices to bring the soul into perfection, the focus is self.  In Christianity, the focus is on God and neighbor and redemptive suffering.

Many, many ancient cultures had stories about different kinds of mothers giving birth to divine-human sons.

Again, the prophecy and documentation of events set this apart from fables.  In addition, God made a mockery of the Egyptian gods, showing them to be no-gods,  and the prophecies of the virgin birth and some of the events surrounding the birth and early childhood of Jesus, came from a source that was proven through history.


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« Reply #15 on: May 16, 2006, 05:23:01 PM »

One thing that I believe is actually novel about Christianity is the TrinitySmiley
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« Reply #16 on: May 16, 2006, 06:09:03 PM »

One thing that I believe is actually novel about Christianity is the TrinitySmiley

Not just Trinity - but consubstantial Trinity.
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« Reply #17 on: May 26, 2006, 11:55:29 AM »

author=pensateomnia
Uhhhhhhh....Tammuz? Osiris? Mithras? Depending on the myth, Dionysus and Hades too. Dying and rising gods, godmen and divine-like men are very, very common in both Ancient Near Eastern religions and the Hellenistic world.


What is different here is that this is historical fact, there were verified eye witness accounts.ÂÂ  This is not a myth that has been perpetuated, but a solidly documented historical event (via witnesses).

Isis supposedly gave parthenogenetic birth to Horus.

This again was a historical event with witnesses,ÂÂ  the three wisemen, the documented facts of the census, the slaughter of the innocents.ÂÂ  The historical details that prove it is not a myth.

I would be careful about this kind of approach to faith, since its rather at odds with the early Christian perspective. It has also spawned more doubt than certainty in the modern age, e.g. the "Historical Jesus" and the so-called problem of history in philosophy and theology. Fr. John Behr writes (a lot!) about this.

As he says, we have to ask: What is Christianity? Most simply, a response to Christ. Christ puts the question this way, "Who do you say I am?" A proper answer to this question is not found in the "real historical Jesus" or in certain historical facts about His life. Christ's question calls for interpretation. It calls for an attempt to explain the meaning and the significance of His person, His life, and His works (not that he was born on X date, etc.).

To say he was crucified is to make a claim about an historical event, but, as Christians, we know that event through its account, i.e. the account of Scripture. And that Scriptural account is no mere repetition of fact, but, rather an inspired interpretation of the event. This is one of St. Ireneaus' strongest arguments against the Gnostics: Revelation occurs in the ACCOUNT, not in the event. That is why the Apostolic account is at the root of the Christian Faith. We don't care what Ancient Person X said he saw on the Cross, for example, but what St. Matthew said, because his words are inspired within an interpretative context.

Anyone can observe an event: Jesus died. But to say that Jesus, the One Born of Mary, is the Incarnate Word of God and that this Crucified One is Lord — that is an interpretation of the event and an explanation of Who He is and what His deeds mean. Our Faith is based on that Apostolic interpretive confession.

Quote
What is also unique, are the Messianic prophesies in the Scriptures that fortell this event, event by event.

Right. But it's the Apostlic interpretation of these Scriptures and our application of these prophesies to Jesus' life and death that is paramount. Other people read/know the same texts, and yet don't apply them likewise.
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« Reply #18 on: May 26, 2006, 04:24:25 PM »

I would be careful about this kind of approach to faith...  A proper answer to this question is not found in the "real historical Jesus"

Sorry for the misunderstanding,  here I was referring to the inerrancy of Scripture, the prophetic passages and written eye witness accounts in the New Testament. 

Ultimately, one must of course have faith (a grace given from God) to believe that the Scriptures are the inerrant Word of God. 

For those who have not yet received this grace, God has most graciously provided us with archaeological discoveries, that many times bear witness to the accuracy of Scripture.  Thanks be to God for His forbearance and mercy with our weakness.
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« Reply #19 on: May 26, 2006, 04:37:11 PM »

Sorry for the misunderstanding,  here I was referring to the inerrancy of Scripture, the prophetic passages and written eye witness accounts in the New Testament. 

Ultimately, one must of course have faith (a grace given from God) to believe that the Scriptures are the inerrant Word of God. 

For those who have not yet received this grace, God has most graciously provided us with archaeological discoveries, that many times bear witness to the accuracy of Scripture.  Thanks be to God for His forbearance and mercy with our weakness.

Sure. But all of these discoveries and "facts" have to be interpreted. Some people interpret them one way, while other people see them in a completely different way. The key is not the fact, but the interpretation of the fact. Or, as I wrote before, revelation is located in the ACCOUNT, not in the event.
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« Reply #20 on: May 26, 2006, 04:56:15 PM »

Having come to Orthodox Christianity from many years involved with Hinduism and then Buddhism, I can say that the Christian idea of the incarnation is not the same as the "avatara" (which literally means one who descends). In hinduism avataras come to this world for various missions. Bhagavad Gita (A Hindu scripture) describes the Visnu (God) incarnation in this way: "whenever and wherever the is a decline in dharma (religion or religious principles, truth etc) and an increase in adharma (irreligion) I myself descend." (BG. 4.7) But he does not "become flesh" as described by St. John's Gospel. In the gita also it says that although God descends, his form is wholly "transcendetal" and non-material unlike ordinary people (BG.9.11). So in Hinduism the avataras sometimes descend to this world, they are never touched by matter (which is considered inferior nature and "evil". "Spirit is Truth, matter is False"). But Christ, the incarnation of the Word, did touch matter, He bacame fully human for the purpose of lifting humanity up to Himself, to save us for of His boundless Love. The hindu avatara does not touch matter, but simply comes for his "lila" or play to instruct.

So although at a quick glance the concept of "incarnation" seems to be shared among various traditions, the difference is that in Christianity God is percieved to have such a great love for Humanity, He Himself becomes flesh for our benefit. And all of the other aspects of Christ's life here may resemble other myths (mithras etc.), their purpose is totally different. Everything Christ did (and does) is for the salvation of humanity out of His love.

"God so loved the world he gave His only begotten Son." God becomes man so that man can become deified in Christ. "Because God loved us first." In far eastern traditions, one achieves God (or absolute truth) frist of all through one's own efforts (which may span many lifetimes). But the difference in Christianity is that "God loved us first", He saught us when we were sinners, not the other way around. In Hinduism, the individual seeks God while God remains far removed from matter and "fully spiritual". As Christians we believe, God first seeks humanity by condescending down to meet us in this world, and we are to respond.

Also in Buddhism, the individual seeks nirvana, or the "amata-dhatu" the deathless element and acheives it by his own power. In Christianity nirvana reaches out and seeks us.

Peace.
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« Reply #21 on: May 26, 2006, 05:09:39 PM »

Anyone can observe an event: Jesus died. But to say that Jesus, the One Born of Mary, is the Incarnate Word of God and that this Crucified One is Lord — that is an interpretation of the event and an explanation of Who He is and what His deeds mean. Our Faith is based on that Apostolic interpretive confession.

But it's the ApApostolicnterpretation of these Scriptures and our application of these prophesies to Jesus' life and death that is paramount. Other people read/know the same texts, and yet don't apply them likewise.

I understand the importance of the Apostolic interpretation.  But I do not believe we should give the impression that the simple lay person cannot understand God's Word through the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit.  I have heard of many accounts where Catholic and Orthodox lay folk were discouraged from reading the Bible, being told they were unqualified to understand it. 

An example from St. Seraphim comes to mind:  From Valentine Zander page 54, about the young man who was still a child:

""The Staretz' way of putting pieces of bread dipped in wine into his visitors' mouths by means of a long wooden spoon struck him (the young man) as so comical that he could not stop laughing.

"His mother sent him out with a scolding, and then later told him to go back to the Staretz and apologize.  The child found the Father alone and reading, sitting on a coffin which he had had brought into his cell.

"O it's you my friend,"  he said kindly, "do you read the Gospels?" 

"When the boy replied that in his family it was thought that only the clergy had authority for such reading, the Staretz opened his Gospels and read the text of Matt. 7,1-2 "Judge not, that you be not judged."  This saying affected the boy profoundly and he often came back to Sarov to see Father Seraphim.""

I have heard these same explanations over and over again from Catholics, who have been lulled into a state of complacency over their souls because they have relegated their understanding of Scripture to prelates, who have encouraged this practice supposing that it makes for more docile sheep.  And not having built upon a sound knowledge of the Bible are easily led by flashy media presentations into believing that Jesus was married.

Or they are easily led astray into  non-Catholic churches where a living relationship with the Scriptures and Jesus is taught.  I believe the church has failed them. If they had been taught the fullness of the faith, they never would have left.  Now they are without the Sacraments and the intercession of the Saints, and all the other helps to salvation they could have had as well.  This is tragic.

At the time of Christ's birth, the shepherds were not in need of an apostle to explain to them the significance of the angel's words.  In the ignorance and simplicity of their hearts they fell down at the Savior's crib in adoration.

A sheep that does not know the voice of their shepherd is a very vulnerable  sheep.  I believe our mission is to reconcile souls to God, not to prelates and heirarchs, who might at some time be in error.

I am not saying we don't need the interpretation,structure, and legitimate authority,   I am just saying everyone needs to learn to hear the voice of the shepherd and they should be taught that by those entrusted with the eternal salvation of their souls, in order that they be taught properly, how the Church interprets Scripture.
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« Reply #22 on: May 26, 2006, 05:19:43 PM »

But Christ, the incarnation of the Word, did touch matter, He bacame fully human for the purpose of lifting humanity up to Himself, to save us for of His boundless Love.

Thanks be to God for this very beautifull and clarifying exposition.
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« Reply #23 on: May 26, 2006, 05:58:32 PM »

I understand the importance of the Apostolic interpretation.ÂÂ  But I do not believe we should give the impression that the simple lay person cannot understand God's Word through the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit.

That's an entirely different matter. I have been emphasizing interpretation vs. event, which is just a simple point of logic. You may understand what I'm trying to say already, but let me try again: We could compile all available evidence in extra-scriptural sources for "facts" about Jesus' birth, life and death (which evidence is scant indeed!), but that still wouldn't answer Jesus' question: "Who do you say I am?" (Nor does it "prove" the inerrancy of Scripture).

Anyway, the key aspect of interpretation has nothing to do with the ecclesial position of the person doing the interpretation and everything to do with what the Holy Fathers call the "hypothesis" or "first principle." Even the New Testament writers themselves start with an interpretive principle, namely that Jesus is the Messiah, and they then apply this principle as an exegetical key when reading the Law and the Prophets. In other words, the account that the Crucified One is LORD (not the fact that Jesus was, in fact, crucified) has always been the foundational Christian exegetical principle.

That's why the Fathers, especially St. Irenaeus, say that Christ is a "treasure hidden in a field," i.e. hidden in Scripture, because when they read Scripture they are not actually trying to discover facts or even to exegete the TEXT, but to encounter the Crucified Christ Who is inscribed in the text. See the difference? Without this particular method of interpretation, any event or fact that we observe is theologically meaningless.

In fact, without this interpretative model/faith-inspired mindset, a Jew can look at all of the famous OT passages applied to Jesus in the NT and see something completely different. The key distinction between the unbelieving reader and the apostolic writer is interpretation (i.e. the "first principle" of the Incarnate, Crucified, Risen Logos), not observations about history (unless one means a certain interpretation of history, i.e. the Apostolic one!).
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« Reply #24 on: May 26, 2006, 06:09:22 PM »

Dear Pensateomnia,

I do agree with you Smiley

I guess I was assuming that with the faith to believe the Scriptures are God's Word, comes the faith to recognize The Pearl.

In any case, I believe as you do.

Peace
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« Reply #25 on: May 27, 2006, 01:09:05 PM »

Dear Pensateomnia,

I do agree with you Smiley

I guess I was assuming that with the faith to believe the Scriptures are God's Word, comes the faith to recognize The Pearl.

In any case, I believe as you do.

Peace

I hope I was clear enough. On the one hand, my point is very simple (there's a difference between an event and one's interpretation of that event); on the other hand, it's not always that easy to figure out what this means for the Christian Faith, especially because most people don't really pay attention to the interpretative methods that are being employed by the Apostles. Understandably, most modern readers just think they are simply "reading" the text! But we Christians do little reading of texts qua texts and lots of reading of the Scripture as a "field" in which Christ can be encountered. (That's a pretty radical exegetical method!)

Here's the famous quote from St. Irenaeus that explains this method. Read it a few times. It's quite precisely worded and very beautiful (and Irenaeus uses the very exegetical method he is explaining as he goes):

Irenaeus Against the Heresies 4.26.1.

Quote
If anyone, therefore, reads the Scriptures in this way, he will find in them the Word concerning Christ, and a foreshadowing of the new calling. For Christ is the "treasure which was hidden in the field" (Matt. 13:44), that is, in this world -- for "the field is the world" (Matt 13:38) -- [a treasure] hidden in the Scriptures, for he was indicated by means of types and parables, which could not be understood by men prior to the consummation of those things which had been predicted, that is, the advent of the Lord. And therefore it was said to Daniel the prophet, "Shut up the words, and seal the book, until the time of consummation, until many learn and knowledge abounds. For, when the dispersion shall be accomplished, they shall know all these things" (Dan 12:4, 7). And Jeremiah also says, "In the last days they shall understand these things" (Jer 23:20). For every prophecy, before its fulfillment, is nothing but an enigma and ambiguity to men; but when the time has arrived, and the prediction has come to pass, then it has an exact exposition (lit. exegesis). And for this reason, when at this present time the Law is read by the Jews, it is like a myth, for they do not possess the explanation (lit. exegesis) of all things which pertain to the human advent of the Son of God; but when it is read by Christians, it is a treasure, hid in a field, but brought to light by the cross of Christ, and explained, both enriching the understanding of men, and showing forth the wisdom of God, and making known his dispensations with regard to man, and prefiguring the kingdom of Christ, and preaching in anticipation the good news of the inheritance of the holy Jerusalem, and proclaiming beforehand that the man who loves God shall advance so far as even to see God, and hear his word, and be glorified, from hearing his speech, to such an extent, that others will not be able to behold his glorious countenance (cf. 2 Cor 3:7), as was said by Daniel, "Those who understand shall shine as the brightness of the firmament, and many of the righteous as the stars for ever and ever" (Dan 12:3). Thus it will be, if anyone read the Scriptures in this manner which I have shown.
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« Reply #26 on: May 27, 2006, 08:05:50 PM »

1.  most people don't really pay attention to the interpretative methods that are being employed by the Apostles.

2.  lots of reading of the Scripture as a "field" in which Christ can be encountered. (That's a pretty radical exegetical method!)

3.  Here's the famous quote from St. Irenaeus that explains this method. Read it a few times. It's quite precisely worded and very beautiful (and Irenaeus uses the very exegetical method he is explaining as he goes):

1.  I think I would fall into that group because I have no idea what methods they used.

3.  I had to read it several times, and had a difficult time putting it together in a coherent whole, but in little bits I could understand, and the conclusion was very beautiful, like our
holy fathers Saint Seraphim, and Saint Francis, there were times when the light from them was so brilliant no one could behold them.

2. This is a simple analogy that I can understand,  written for the simple.  All of the Lord's sayings are simple, although sometimes deliberately obscure.   I can understand the Scriptures being the field in which the Pearl can be encountered, and that was what I was referring to when I said that the grace to sense the presence of and find the Pearl came with the grace of my conversion.  Before then, the Scriptures were a closed book, not making any more sense than a history book.

It seems that when I was dead in my sins and trespasses, the Book also seemed dead to me, but when Christ redeemed me and gave me life, the Book also became alive and filled with His presence. 

Before He touched me, I read with my intellect,  after He touched me, I read with my heart which is alive in Christ.  Still this is an ongoing process, in my ever increasing need for redemption, grace and new life.

I believe that when He created us, He also created different approaches to understanding the mysteries of the faith and His indwelling,  each one of these sublimely beautiful and elegant filled with its own treasures,  so that each one of us in our own way, could experience His life within us and in others, and in all His creation.

Pensateomnia,  I very much appreciate the time you have taken to help me understand the beauty of this approach...we have the same love and passion,  but I think our paths to understanding Him are a little different.  I do not believe any one is above another,  they are all filled with endless joy in Him.

May He increase this measure of joy in us all!

Mother Anastasia

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« Reply #27 on: May 30, 2006, 03:06:14 AM »

Many will claim that it is the Christian ethic which makes it stand out from other religions, however, one can find the golden rule and even the love of enemy in many ancient traditions which predate Christianity.

Miracles and prophecies are also held claim by many faiths.

So what then uniquely and most genuinely distinguishes Christianity from all other faiths, systems, philosophies and beliefs?
The Sacrifice and Love of God's Son to overcome death so that we have eternal life with Him.
And the Miracle of the Resurrection which overcame death which surpasses all understanding of His glorious Love.
The foundation of His Church.
The intercessions of the Theotokos for all  mankind.

These are a few which separates Christendom from others. I know I mentioned a miracle, but if you cannot believe in this one it destroys the faith as a whole. so, we accept this miracle.

Christos anesti,
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