Posts Tagged indwelling presence

Ephraim the Syrian: “Here within are the riches of heaven, if you desire them.”

Dover Beach

Ephraim the Syrian

“Here within are the riches of heaven, if you desire them. Here O sinner, is the kingdom of God within you. Enter into yourself, seek more eagerly and you will find it without great travail. Outside you is death, and the door to death is sin. Enter within yourself and remain in your heart, for there is God.”
– St Ephraim the Syrian

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Logos Doctrine 3

 “This revelation is uniquely Christian.”

 

In terms of humankind, the Logos gives to every human being an intuitive knowledge of the existence of God and a culturally influenced knowledge of moral laws which we feel the obligation to fulfill in freedom.  The Logos also gives structure to the mind or nous.  The nous is not the Logos but it is the Logos that gives order to the contents of the nous.

Clement of Alexandria (AD 150-215) believed that humankind should live life according to the Logos (cf. Stromata, 3).  Faith, in terms of assent and obedience, is the beginning, but it is not enough.  Real participation in God requires the addition of knowledge.  Clement does not feel that there is any conflict between faith and knowledge, between reason and revelation.  Knowledge enters into faith as one of its constituent elements; reason and reflection are the avenues through which the divine revelation comes.

According to Justin Martyr, the spermatikos logos, the germinal or seminal word, is sown as conscience in the hearts of all humans.  According to Justin, the use of reason by people, even in those without express faith in Christ, is already Christ the Logos at work in them. “We have been taught,” St. Justin declared, “that Christ is the First-born of God, and we have declared . . . that he is the Word [Logos] of whom every race of men were partaken, and those who lived reasonable are Christians, even though they have been thought atheists.” First Apology, 46.

The Incarnation of the Logos as a human, Jesus of Nazareth, is a unique revelation of Christianity.  Jesus is unique in that he represents not only the incarnation of the Logos of God, but also the Christ (anointed one), the Hebrew Messiah.  So, now when we use the word Logos in any post-incarnational discussion, we need to also mentally add “Jesus” and “Christ” to “Son” in our composite picture.  To the Stoic idea of Logos as a universal, transcendent principle, Christianity added the very personal dimensions of Son of God and Jesus Christ.  This revelation is uniquely Christian.

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Logos Doctrine 4

“…according to the Logos Doctrine, Christianity is very inclusive and universal.”

 

The incarnation of the Logos, the Son, as Jesus the Christ is a once-for-all event.  It is not the incarnation of a particular characteristic or set of characteristics of God; it is the very Logos of God, center of divinity, which becomes incarnate.  The incarnation initiates a series of events in the economy, or plan of God for the salvation of humankind.

The saving economy of Jesus Christ, the Logos, are is found in his incarnation which deified the fallen nature of humankind; in his ministry which gave us direct knowledge of God; in his death by which he redeemed us from the bondage of sin; and in the resurrection, which defeated death.

Jesus Christ, as Logos, is first of all a teacher in the sense of giving us existential knowledge and power through the Holy Spirit.  Justin Martyr said, “the teachings of Plato are not alien to those of Christ, although not in all respects similar. For all the writers of antiquity were able to have a dim vision of the realities by the means of the implanted word [Logos].” 2nd Apology, 13.

So, you see, according to the Logos Doctrine, Christianity is very inclusive and universal; “catholic”, if you will.  It is not the exclusive club, tribe, or competing religion than humans have made of it.  Ancient Christianity was inclusive of all truth, regardless of source, place, or time.  It included all of humankind, without distinction.

When seen from the viewpoint of the Logos Doctrine, the seemingly exclusive claims of John 14:6 become a declaration of inclusive, cosmic, universal truth.  The verse reads: “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me’.”  In paraphrase, I believe this means: “I am the Logos, the self-manifestation of God the Father.  We are the same in essence, but the Father remains hidden from creation.  The only possible way that humankind has to understand and know God is through understanding and knowing the Logos.”  This is the cosmic Christ.  This is the Way; the “finger pointing to the moon”!

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Proper Christian Theology is always Top-down and Relational

Everything in proper Christianity is experiential; it is based on relationship.  Take some examples: The immanent presence of spermatikos logos, the Son,  within us, giving our minds the reason and order to recognize the existence of God and his moral will;  the Incarnation of the Logos, God becoming flesh and dwelling among us in the person of Jesus was so that we would have a concrete living person that we could relate to and love as the human exemplar of God; the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost was so that each of us could have a direct personal relationship with God in the Church Age, after Jesus’ resurrection.

Proper theology is always, always top-down; about God’s relationship to man.  That is so our theology is always based on how man, the creation, experiences relationship with his loving Creator, God.  When theology is done backwards, bottom-up, based on man’s ideas of God, you end up with a God that is an extrapolation of man, an anthropomorphized super-human God; and that is the error of Western Latin theology.

Union with God, theosis, is the goal of all proper theology and religion.  In Eastern Orthodox theology, deification (theosis) is both a transformative process as well as the goal of that process; the attainment of likeness to or union with a loving God.  Likeness and union are terms that inherently imply close personal realtionship.  Any dogma or doctrine that does not reflect this experience of man’s love relationship with God is most likely in error and bad theology; an afterthought of man.

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