Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Words, Justice & Novel Ideas

So I have been following this most interesting discussion going on at Fr. Stephen's Glory to God for All Things blog about God's justice.

It soon became evident to me that this discussion is not about mere words (after all, anyone can quote a passage of scripture or one of the Fathers), but rather about the meaning we ascribe to words. It is all about interpretive schemes. What do I mean by this? One can use the common words such as "church" or "Christ", for instance, and convey widely divergent understandings of what is meant. So we need to be clear about what we mean and how we use words and terms. Which interpretation shall we use? In the Eastern Orthodox Church this interpretive scheme is called Apostolic Tradition.

Bishop Dmitri demonstrates the importance of the above, in different but related context:

As history and experience have shown, anything less than the whole truth about Christ ends up in utter confusion and the multiplication of the denominations. …..Most of them have been founded on some novel idea about the Lord Himself…..
Following the teaching of the Apostles and of the Fathers, there are many other things that need to be said and studied. All of the things that are so characteristic of our Church, the rites, the icons, the veneration of the Mother of God and of the Saints, have as their most important function the support of this very doctrine of Christ. Hence, those who would deny any one of these teachings and practices, in effect, deny one part or another of the doctrine of Christ.” -The Doctrine of Christ by Archbishop Dmitri
(HT Mind in the Heart)

It is all too easy to introduce novel ideas into the meaning of words, and we do so at our own peril.

As Fr. Stephen states in the combox "This is not a “pop” attack on the “West,” but a foundational part of Orthodox theology." Indeed.

No comments: