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Ask an Orthodox Christian

Discussion in 'Orthodox Christian DIR' started by Shiranui117, May 12, 2014.

  1. Shiranui117

    Shiranui117 Pronounced Shee-ra-noo-ee
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    Haha, thanks! I visited Vienna once this past September with our study abroad group, just in time for Nationalfeiertag. I did happen to stumble upon a Serbian Orthodox parish (Holy Resurrection/Auferstehung), but I didn't have time to go there for Liturgy. Out of curiosity, Is German used/spoken more in the Orthodox parishes in Vienna, or is it still mostly in the language from the old country?

    Personally, I love Salzburg because it's not too big of a city, there's enough nature around, and it's not as urban as Vienna. But dude, was Vienna impressive!

    And boy, do I know about how many holidays/holy days Orthodoxy has! There's almost always something going on, between the Saints' feast days and the major and minor feasts.

    Personally, I think Orthodoxy has just as beautiful a teaching in panenetheism--God is in all, and we are all in God. Sure, He is God and we are mere creatures, so there's that divide, but the interpenetration of God in the universe, God being in us and we in God, and having that communion of love, there's a lot of depth in that, too. I can understand the attractiveness of pantheism, though. What about pantheism is appealing to you?

    Nazz and the other Gnostics on the Gnosticism DIR can give you more info, but I know some of the source texts for Valentinianism.

    Haha, thanks! :D It's great to talk with someone about Orthodoxy on here. :)
     
  2. DanielR

    DanielR Active Member

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    Shiranui, before I answer your question regarding Gnosticism, do you mind telling me what exactly PanEntheism is, according to OC?

    Does it simply mean that God is immanent and transcendent?

    I'm leaning towards Gnosticism a bit because, my question would be if God's essence is never know or experienced, how do we know he (it) exists at all?

    As far as I understand it, we only merge with God's energies, am I right with that??
     
  3. Shiranui117

    Shiranui117 Pronounced Shee-ra-noo-ee
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    I'll start this off with an excerpt from Wikipedia's page on panentheism:

    "In the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Churches, as well as in the Church of the East, creation is not considered to be a literal "part of" God, and the Godhead is distinct from creation. There is, in other words, an eternal difference between the uncreated (i.e., God) and the created (i.e., everything else). This does not mean, however, that the creation is wholly separated from God, because the creation exists by and in the Divine Energies (workings). These energies are the operations of God and are God, but the created is not God in the Divine Essence. God creates the universe by the Divine will, using His Energies, that are not identified with His Essence. It is not an "emanation" of God's own essence (Ousia), a direct literal outworking or effulgence of the Divine, or any other process which implies that creation is part of or necessary to God in His Essence. The use of panentheism as part of Orthodox theology and doctrine is "problematic" to those who would insist that panentheism requires creation to be "part of" God.
    God is not merely creator of the universe; His active Presence is necessary in some way for every bit of creation, from smallest to greatest, to continue to exist at all.[21] That is, God's Energies (activities) maintain all things and all beings, even if those beings have explicitly rejected him. His love of creation is such that He will not withdraw His Presence, which would be the ultimate form of annihilation, not merely imposing death, but ending existence altogether. By this token, the entirety of creation is good in its being and is not innately evil either in whole or in part. This does not deny the existence of evil in a fallen universe, only that it is not an innate property of creation. Evil results from the will of creatures, not from their nature per se (see the problem of evil)."

    PanENtheism is, according to the Orthodox tradition, God's omnipresence in creation. You may know that, during our morning prayers, and at the start of every divine service, we pray, "O Heavenly King, O Comforter, the Spirit of Truth, Who art everywhere present and fillest all things..."

    And in another place, in the Book of Acts, chapter 17, it is said that "in Him [God] we live and move and have our being." There are many other places throughout Scripture which state that God is omnipresent.

    St. Patrick of Ireland has a very famous prayer attributed to him, part of which goes:

    "Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
    Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
    Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
    Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down,
    Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
    Christ in the mouth of every man who speaks of me,
    Christ in the eye that sees me,
    Christ in the ear that hears me. "

    I hope that clears some things up! Please let me know if you would like further clarification :)

    It means that God is completely immanent, and that His Energies fill and sustain the universe.

    An excellent question! Think of it this way: No matter how long you live with someone, do you ever know exactly and entirely what is going on inside of their hearts and minds? No; rather, you get to know them through their outward actions. In order for them to show you who they really are, they need to express that through action and interaction.

    This action and interaction is what God's Energies consist of. God's Energies are not the same as the doctrine of created grace within Western Christianity. Rather, God's Energies are nothing less than Who God is in interacting with His creation. God's Essence is Who He is within Himself. We can experience God's Energies, because by their very nature, they interact with us, and vice-versa. But God's Essence is not something we can interact with, because it is something internal to God--it is Who He is within Himself, not Who He is in interacting with us.

    But does the fact that we can only interact with God's Energies mean that we never really get to know God as He actually is, and that God's Energies are a mask that don't show Who He really is? Of course not. God doesn't lie or deceive us. Rather, God's Energies are the outflowing of Who He is into creation. In the same way that someone's actions are an expression of who they are, so God's Energies are an expression of Who He is.

    I'm not sure "merge" would be the right word there. We remain human and distinct from God. But we do enter into a communion of love with God through His Energies, and His Energies continually transform us in the process of theosis.
     
  4. DanielR

    DanielR Active Member

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    Thanks Shiranui!

    One last question: Is it wrong when I say we are god's thoughts?? Can I use this analogy in OC?

    Because somehow I don't understand creation.

    To me in the beginning there was only god, and then god willed to create us, are we god's thoughts then, not in a pantheistic view still dualistic, I don't know if you know what I mean!

    regards ;)
     
  5. Shiranui117

    Shiranui117 Pronounced Shee-ra-noo-ee
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    I think I know what you're getting at. At first, we all existed as ideas in the mind of God--He had a plan to create each and every one of us, and as the Psalm said, before we were formed in our mother's womb, He knew us. In that sense, you could say that we are ideas of God that have been made into realities. Creation certainly isn't just God imagining things or having a daydream, but I don't think this is what you mean by your question. Correct me if I'm misunderstanding your question, though. So saying that we are God's thoughts without any qualifiers might sound odd in the Orthodox Church. I think it would be more accurate to say that each of us existed merely as thoughts in the mind of God before we were created, and we are the result of God's thoughts and knowledge of who we would become. Does that help?

    Taking note of the second part of your post, is there anything else about creation you'd like help understanding?
     
  6. DanielR

    DanielR Active Member

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    Hm yes the biggest problem I have is this,

    creation and God are supposed to be separate

    but in the beginning there was only god

    god had to create space somewhere where to place the cosmos

    if god and creation are separate two entities than there has to be some kind of border between those two

    where are those two entities placed? god and creation must exist in some kind of space beyond both of them

    it somehow doesn't make sense and it's not logical!

    Would you mind explaining this to me?? :D Everyone always tells me it's inexplicable lol, but I mean really that's not really helpful haha
     
  7. Shiranui117

    Shiranui117 Pronounced Shee-ra-noo-ee
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    God did create the cosmos from nothing; this is what the Scriptures state (see 2 Maccabees 7:28). We can best speak of our physical universe, because it's what we have experience with. God certainly did have to create an entirely new plane of existence for our material universe, and the same is true for Heaven. Since God's level of existence is so far beyond our own, he delineated entirely new planes for us to exist on.

    Well, remember that God isn't just the Big Man Upstairs; He is also fully present within all parts of creation, both earthly and heavenly. The border between God and creation therefore isn't spatial, but rather, existential (i.e. our level of existence) and essential (i.e. who we are in our essence vs. Who God is in His Essence). God as a being is utterly and infinitely beyond creation; He is Uncreated, we are created. He is infinite, we are finite. He is eternal, we have a beginning. He is uncaused, we are caused.

    Haha, I can understand the confusion :D It is ultimately impossible to put into words. It's like describing the difference in how European culture feels and how American culture feels. I can give you a list of customs from both cultures, but that doesn't cover it. I could tell you about the history of each, but that doesn't cover it. The ultimate essence of European vs. American culture is indescribable; one can only experience the difference and attempt to put it into words. And so it is in describing the relationship between God and creation; it is something we can say a few words about, but you will never be able to understand it through logic and words alone; you must experience it to get a sense of it.

    Another example would be if someone asked you, "What is music?" or "What is art?" You know what each of those are from experience, yet you would most likely have a great deal of trouble in just using words.
     
  8. DanielR

    DanielR Active Member

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    Hm, you know this is why I'm so drawn to Pantheism :p (Hindu, Gnosticism etc.)

    the planes of existence, is this your personal theory or is this something Christians believe in generally?
     
  9. Shiranui117

    Shiranui117 Pronounced Shee-ra-noo-ee
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    It's my own way of putting it. Here's how Wiki puts it:

    The concept of God's essence in Eastern Orthodox theology is called (ousia) and is distinct from his energies (energeia in Greek, actus in Latin) or activities as actualized in the world.[22] The ousia of God is God as God is. It is the energies of God that enable us to experience something of the Divine, at first through sensory perception and then later intuitively or noetically. The essence, being, nature and substance (ousia) of God as taught in Eastern Christianity is uncreated and incomprehensible. God's ousia is defined as "that which finds no existence or subsistence in another or any other thing".[23] God's ousia is beyond all states of (nous) consciousness and unconsciousness, being and non-being, beyond something and nothing, beyond existence and non-existence.[24][25] God's ousia has no necessity or subsistence that needs or is dependent on anything other than itself. As uncreated God's ousia is incomprehensible to any created being. God in essence is therefore superior to all forms of ontology (metaphysics).[23] The source of God's ousia or incomprehensibleness is the Father hypostasis.[26][27] God's energies are "unbegotten" or "uncreated," just like the existences of God (Father, Son, Holy Spirit). . . God's ousia is uncreatedness, beyond existence, beyond no existence. God's hyper-being is incomprehensible to created beings.[28] As St John Damascene teaches, "all that we say positively of God manifests not his nature but the things about his nature."[29]

    Basically, since God is beyond existence and nonexistence, this universe is in a completely different category of "being." God Himself cannot properly be said to be a "being" in the same sense that we are beings, but rather, He is somehow beyond that.
     
  10. DanielR

    DanielR Active Member

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    Hey Shiranui :)

    I've been away for some time, it's difficult for me to participate in discussions because of the language barrier, and I'm not so good at debating :D

    I just wanted to thank you for adding me as a friend, and I wanted to know if you know the original Jesus Prayer, what I mean is the original (Greek?) pronounciation of 'Jesus Christ, have mercy on me"?

    Thank you :D
     
  11. Shiranui117

    Shiranui117 Pronounced Shee-ra-noo-ee
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    Sure thing! :) I found this on an Orthodox forum. Here's the Greek:

    Κύριε Ἰησοῦ Χριστέ, Υἱέ τοῦ Θεοῦ, ἐλέησόν με τὸν ἁμαρτωλόν (τὴν ἁμαρτωλόν if prayed by a female)

    Kírie Isú Christé, Ié [that's a capital i, not a lower-case L] tu Theú, eléison me, ton amartolón (tin amartolón)
     
  12. Bunyip

    Bunyip pro scapegoat

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    May I ask what the Orthodox position is in relation to the evolution/creationism issue? As in, do Orthodox Christians believe in a Young Earth, a literal interpretation of scripture and so on?
     
  13. Shiranui117

    Shiranui117 Pronounced Shee-ra-noo-ee
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    Good question! As is the case in any Christian denomination, you'll have some Orthodox who believe in Young Earth Creationism, and some like me who believe in evolution as explained by science--with, of course, God's hand guiding or occasionally nudging the process.

    As far as an official Orthodox position on the subject, it doesn't matter to us what science says as to how life began. According to the Church Fathers (especially Origen, St. John Chrysostom and St. Basil the Great), Genesis is literally true. But "literally" doesn't mean "This is how it happened". Rather, Genesis is literally true in the sense of that it happened.

    The creation stories do not give us an exact, play-by-play, documentary-like history of how the world was formed and how life began. To interpret them as such is to completely misunderstand the entire point of the book. Rather, Genesis tells us that the world and everything in it was created by God, and how exactly that happened, He only knows. It didn't happen word-for-word as the Bible said; the creation story was written the way it was to condescend to human inability to understand just what God did. It was also written partially as a polemic against paganism. For example, according to the creation story, day and night, light and dark existed before the sun and stars. This teaches us that it's God Who orders and governs the universe, not the celestial bodies, and so He is worthy of worship, not the sun and the stars. Also, man being formed from the dust of the earth should both humble us--we're not just made of dirt, we're less than dirt--and honor us, because we were made from the lowliest of all substances, and crowned by God as stewards of creation. God forming us with His hands shows His attentive and loving care for us, condescending to our nature and being intimate with us. The most important things to take away from the creation story are the spiritual lessons about who God is and His role in the universe, as well as who we are, and what our relationship to God and creation is. Yes, God did create the world and everything in it--that's a fact. But to draw Young Earth Creationism out of all that, and not to see these spiritual lessons, is to completely miss the point.

    The Church Fathers were saying all of this back in the 300's AD. The Church's position hasn't changed since.
     
    #33 Shiranui117, Jun 22, 2014
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2014
  14. Bunyip

    Bunyip pro scapegoat

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    Thanks very much, wonderful answer.
     
  15. DanielR

    DanielR Active Member

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    Hey shiranui,

    thanks for answering, I hope I can pronounce it lol :D

    I was reading a bit about Stoicism the other day, and they have the concept of Logos. I know that in EC Logos is a concept too, isn't it?

    But I somehow don't understand the difference between Energies and Logos? What about the trinity? Is the trinity basically god's essence? What is the relationship between these terms?

    I hope you can help me out one last time :D

    Lots of regards!
     
  16. Shiranui117

    Shiranui117 Pronounced Shee-ra-noo-ee
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    Haha, no problem! Just in case, here's a phonetic guide (using English phonetics) :

    KEE-ree-eh YEH-soos Kree-STOS, ee-yeh toh THEH-o, eh-LEH-ee-son meh ton ah-MAR-toh-lon.

    Yes, but there are some slight differences. Both the Stoics and Christians believe that the Logos is the ordering principle that guides and shapes the universe. But whereas the Stoics believed that all things were essentially emanations of the Logos--in other words, the Stoics believed that the Logos was pantheistic--the Christians believe that the Logos is a single Person, and that Person is Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the One Who shapes and orders the universe.

    The Logos is Jesus Christ, the Second Person of the Trinity. If you remember John 1:-4 and John 1:14--in the beginning was the Word (Greek: Logos), and the Word was God, and the Word was with God. The Word was in the beginning with God, and without Him was nothing made that has been made... and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.

    The Trinity refers to the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, the three Persons and the one God. Each of the three Persons share the same Divine Essence, and indeed, this is how we can say that three Persons are one Being, and one Being is three Persons. The Trinity isn't God's Essence, but God's Essence, along with the Father being the arche or source of the other two Persons, is what makes the Trinity of God a Tri-Unity.

    Hope this helps! :) Peace and God bless!
     
  17. DanielR

    DanielR Active Member

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    Hi Shiranui :)

    I still have to answer your PM! This is just a quick visit. Right now I'm in a spiritual crisis. I used to practice Vedanta for some time but have this urge to go back to OC. I cannot decide, yeah I know first world problems haha.

    Anyway I found this on wiki maybe you could shed some light on this:

    Vladimir Lossky wrote this apparently:

    now is it true that the Son is the manifestation of 'god' in the energies? Is this how he meant it?

    If so is everything around me the Son?? Like is the physical universe the Son?

    then this

    so everything is composed of Energy? The son is the manifestation of the godhead in the energies, does this also mean Son = manifestation = energy?

    And a last question:

    I've been reading some Meister Eckhart as of late, do Orthodox followers have also their own mystics? I know you recommended me some books, I've ordered the sayings of the church fathers, still waiting for that to arrive, but are there particular persons, like in catholicism Meister Eckhart and Teresa of Avila?

    Hope I'm not being annoying with my questions! You've been a great help!

    Lots of regards
    Daniel
     
  18. DanielR

    DanielR Active Member

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    oh I get it now,

    the godhead is manifested as jesus christ in the energies :D
     
  19. Estro Felino

    Estro Felino Believer in free will
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    You are very kind. All right...my questions deal with the relationships between the Catholic and the Orthodox Church.
    Ive always wondered what Orthodox people think about Catholics.
    we Catholics are very fond of the Orthodox. We don't even consider the Orthodox Church a different church than ours.
    My question is: in USA, is the Mass performed in Greek or in English?

    another question: what do you Orthodox think when you see a Catholic statue of Jesus or of Mary?

    Besides...I think that ours is a geographic difference. If I lived in Athens...I would be Orthodox. I can promise you that
     
  20. StarryNightshade

    StarryNightshade Folk Catholic
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    I have a social question regarding Orthodoxy.

    As far as I understand, "sin" in the EO church is different than in western Christianity. Whereas the western church defines it as a horrible act inherent to our nature, EO defines it more akin to "missing the mark" or "not reaching our full potential".

    Homosexuality in EO is considered a sin, but it is not the worst. If a man or woman is in a fully monogamous (ie, non-promiscuous), and fully faithful relationship, and doesn't expect the church itself to fully recognize their relationship (like if they decided to become married, they would get a secular marriage not performed in the church), could said homosexual individual still partake in the sacraments and be a full part of the church?
     
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