An unworthy Deacon, named for the brother of God: James, striving to "work out his salvation with fear and trembling" within the Tradition (paradosis) of the Eastern Orthodox Faith. It is a strange and marvelous journey, and I am accompanied by the fourfold fruit of my fecundity. My wife, the Matushka or Diaconissa Sophia, is my beloved partner in the pursuit of Theosis, and she ranks me in every way.
Jared, me esteemed coworker, Godson, and fellow parishoner, found a little flyer for a "Bible Study" to be held in the Sanctuary of the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance where we work.
All noble intentions aside (naturally it is me writing, ya know!), one section of the flyer really threw me into an ECUSA flashback:
"We will begin each session with a time of quiet, of centering ourselves, of preparing us to hear the words of scripture openly and in a new way. The last point is very important. We are not coming together to necessarily share insights we have been taught by others but to be open to what we can hear today...we come to learn from each other, including those who may hear a different message from the scripture."
The importance ascribed to denying any form of traditional interpretation is not unexpected. But it does, to a large degree, exclude my ability to participate in this Bible Study. From my perspective, if I were to rely on what I "hear today" as opposed to what "has always been heard by everyone, everywhere" well then I should be content to remain right where I am - clearly affirmed in the rightness of my wallowing in the mud.
A+, Brother James! Exactly right: if I were to rely on what I "hear today" as opposed to what "has always been heard by everyone, everywhere," well, then I should be content to remain right where I am.
(I also really appreciated the "ECUSA flashback! Again, too true!) [grin]
This was one of the more difficult steps in my becoming Orthodox -- to admit that, despite years of going to church, reading and studying the Bible, even teaching, and then three years of seminary training, I was as ignorant as a new-born child (which, of course is what I was, coming out of the baptismal font) when it came to having an Orthodox understanding of the Scriptures. Whatever I thought I knew had to be set aside, and re-learned, according to the teachings of the Fathers. (I'm pretty sure the process is still, well, in process...)
Basically, I guess, it can be boiled down to this: If my experience and reason lead me to the same conclusion about the menaing of a passage as the Church Fathers teach, glory to God. If I reach a different conclusion, I've obviously missed something, and need to go back over it again; and if, having done so, I still don't get it, consult with my spiritual father. This is not saying, by the way, that "new" interpretations are not possible. Rather, it is saying that anything "new" cannot be trusted unless the path to it is firmly established along that which the Church has already traveled and approved.