Friday, November 4, 2016

Theologize Like Fishermen

Here's an excerpt about the practice of theology within the life of the Churc by Georges Florovsky. He properly highlights the living power of the Truth, namely Christ our God, in guiding the lives of Christians. Practicing Theology thus can be no less than an actual encounter with Him. This occurs in the power of His Scripture and is made manifest through the practices of the Church, rightly discerning and partaking of the Body and Blood of the Lord, fasting, prayer, virtue (compassion, mercy, peace-making, shrewdness, wisdom, love etc.). Here's Florovsky:

The main distinctive mark of Patristic theology was its existential” character, if we may use this current neologism. The Fathers theologized, as St. Gregory of Nazianzus put it, “in the manner of the Apostles, not in that of Aristotle— alieutikôs, ouk aristotelikôs ([lit. “as fishermen, not as Aristotle”— ed.] Hom. 23. 12). Their theology was still a “message,” a kerygma. Their theology was still “kerygmatic theology,” even if it was often logically arranged and supplied with intellectual arguments. The ultimate reference was still to the vision of faith, to spiritual knowledge and experience. Apart from life in Christ theology carries no conviction and, if separated from the life of faith, theology may degenerate into empty dialectics, a vain polylogia, without any spiritual consequence. Patristic theology was existentially rooted in the decisive commitment of faith. It was not a self-explanatory “discipline” which could be presented argumentatively, that is aristotelikôs, without any prior spiritual engagement. In the age of theological strife and incessant debates, the great Cappadocian Fathers formally protested against the use of dialectics, of “Aristotelian syllogisms,” and endeavoured to refer theology back to the vision of faith. Patristic theology could be only preached” or “proclaimed”—preached from the pulpit, proclaimed also in the words of prayer and in the sacred rites, and indeed manifested in the total structure of Christian life. Theology of this kind can never be separated from the life of prayer and from the exercise of virtue.

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