What are “First Thoughts“?
“A lifetime has taught me the same sharp contrast between two theologies, the one setting out with the first thoughts of God, the other with man’s interpretation of these thoughts which I describe as second thoughts or afterthoughts. The first thoughts, which are God’s thoughts, all address themselves to the conscience – they enter in, and they lodge there… The unerring mark of the first thoughts of God is that they come, as all Christ’s teaching came, with authority to the conscience.”
“Now, contrast with this theology of God’s first thoughts the afterthoughts of man, which make up our dogmatic, deductive systems built up on scattered texts and inferences of the hereafter all grounded in our ignorance. These second or afterthoughts all want this true note of authority, and they make up for it by the mock thunder of dogmatism.”
~ excerpts from Alexandrian and Carthaginian Theology Contrasted, by John B. Heard, 1893 (Bold Italics mine)
The First Thoughts blog is intended for all Christians (“pagans” welcomed, too!); most especially those coming from Western Roman Catholic and Protestant traditions. Within that group, it may be of particular interest and value to those of the “Charismatic Renewal Movement” (CRM). First Thoughts can serve to introduce or perhaps re-acquaint believers to the ancient and nearly forgotten Christian theology and doctrine that perfectly complements a charismatic Christian walk. Fortunately, this ancient Christianity I speak of can be found today, intact in the mystic theology and doctrine of Eastern Orthodox Christian tradition. This tradition has been faithfully recorded, carefully maintained, and consistently transmitted since first received from the Apostles of the first century.
This is not Far Eastern Mysticism or New Age crystal gazing; it is the foundational ancient Christianity that energized and inspired the followers of the Way in the Christ-communities of the early church. This enlightened mystic Christianity was lost to the Western Latin Church (Roman Catholic/Protestant) a century before the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century. So, it has been virtually lost to the Roman Catholic Church for more than 500 years and was never a part of the Protestant tradition, at all.
For example, in a series of posts (Category: “The ‘Nous’“) I discuss the healing and restoration of our nous (νοϋς), our intuitive spiritual faculty, ‘the eye of the soul’. Most Western Christians have never even heard of the nous. It’s simply not part of our Western Christian tradition.
In another series of posts (Category: “Contemplative Prayer“) I discuss the contemplative Christian prayer tradition, virtually lost to Western Latin Christianity so long ago. John Cassian (c. 350 – c. 435), Christian mystic and Desert Father, tells us that contemplative prayer goes well past the types that we recognize today: “The various kinds of prayer [e.g., petition, promise, intercession, pure praise] are followed by a higher state still… it is the contemplation of God alone, an immeasurable fire of love.”
In our series on the Logos (Category: “The Logos Doctrine“) you will find a discussion absolutely essential to an understanding of John’s Gospel and theology. “In Latin, such is the poverty of the language, there is no term at all equivalent to the Logos.” (Heard, 56)
In the series of posts (Category: “Christian Anthropology – East and West“) we examine “What it Means to be Human” in both the Eastern Greek and the Western Latin theological traditions. We determine whether these views are positive and optimistic or negative and pessimistic, and why.
For those who believe that Divine Revelation ended with the closure of the Christian Canon, or worse, the passing of the Apostles, I invite you to peruse the Category: “Patristic Pearls” and the more contemporary Category: “New Nuggets”.
This is but a sample of the topics covered within this blog. They are the result of my personal 40-year search (or what might better be described as a “running gun battle” with institutional religion) to find the authentic theology and doctrine that animated the early Christian Church. My hope is that it will inform you, stimulate you, and perhaps initiate comment and dialogue. At the very least, I hope it provides some value to you on your own personal spiritual journey to theosis.Dallas Wolf, lay Christian Owens Cross Roads, Alabama
#1 by Google on August 4, 2014 - 7:58 AM
Marvelous, what a web site it is! This blog presents valuable information to us,
keep it up.
#2 by David Fox on September 7, 2022 - 12:16 AM
Greetings from Waco! I just found your blog and I’m looking forward to catching up with your posts. I am an inquirer . . . Haven’t made the leap yet. I love Orthodoxy. It feels so right. By the way we are brothers of a sort. You are a wolf, and I am a fox.
#3 by Dallas Wolf on September 7, 2022 - 6:50 AM
Wonderful hearing from you, David. I created First Thoughts for people just like us: inquirers and seekers. I also find the Orthodox Way inspired and it sits well with my soul.
#4 by Medjugorje Fiat on May 30, 2023 - 4:00 PM
Re: From the Intro – “…all grounded in our ignorance. These second or afterthoughts all want this true note of authority, and they make up for it by the mock thunder of dogmatism.”
God Bless You and Yours!
I just wanted to comment that Dogmas of the Catholic Church, for instance, are not “grounded in our ignorance,” nor is the Canon of the Holy Bible. There is a kind of “anti- organized Religion” sound to that quote. God – Jesus – actually has established His Religion, on “the Rock” of Peter (same root as petrified, or turned to rock) and continues to be among us “until the End of the Age.” To become aware of His Omnipresence, it is necessary to leave the “second thoughts” of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, for which the Unceasing Prayer of the Holy Rosary, for instance, the Divine Mercy Chaplet, the Jesus Prayer, etc., are helpful. The book, “The Way of a Pilgrim” describes what this is like. The Philokalia, “Love of the Beautiful,” teaches about this Way, also called Hesychasm, referring to Silence
because it leaves behind the incessant noise of conceptualization
and ratiocination as primary means of awareness (the Fallen State – Fallen from the Grace of Union). God, Who is One, cannot be Known/Experienced through the duality of discursive thought.
As the Sufis say,
“Words can take you to the door of the King, but cannot take you Inside.”
This “United State,” the Restoration of the branches with our Vine, is coming on the other side of the Purification of the world, which is underway. “The Woman shall Crush his head.” (See: Medjugorje, including youtube, Mirjana, Medjugorje Visionaries, Apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary)
May God the Holy Spirit of Love and Unity, Renew all Hearts and Minds.
Pax Christi 🙏🏽💛🙏🏼