Wow. This is a lot better than I expected. It’s a good explanation of the virgin birth, and a pretty good explanation of Eastern Christianity to a Westernized mind. I still don’t get the Orthodox rejection of the Atonement as payment for sin. It seems like a good understanding of the incarnation would give propitiation even more weight, not less. (HT:Pseudopolymath)
I think I’ve mentioned before that I’m a mystic. But I’ve discovered that word makes some people, particularly non-charismatic evangelicals, nervous, so let me explain. By “mystic” I mean a person whose devotional life is characterized by intensely affecting spiritual experiences. These experiences may be in the realm of simple theological insight, or they may take more literary forms. At times they may cross over into the realm of prophecy; that is, dreams, visions, words, and phrases laden with theological context.
From a natural perspective, mysticism can come from two sources. It can be personal, or social: On the social spectrum, mysticism can be presented as something to aspire to. Some Christian traditions – the Pentecostals, the Orthodox, some revivalist traditions – present mysticism in such a way that it seems to be the only way to have a properly Christian devotional life. At the other extreme, some traditions, particularly the Reformed and Protestants as a whole, seem to perceive mysticism at best as something useless, at worst as something suspiciously unchristian, smacking of Papism, adding to scripture, even beckoning the demonic. On the personal spectrum, a person could be naturally predisposed to have certain kinds of experiences, or they could find themselves completely unable to do so, or they could be somewhere in between. (Please note that, for the sake of simplicity, I’m lumping what a person thinks about these things in with the social scale.)
The difficulty, of course, comes when a person’s natural predisposition doesn’t align very well with the tradition they find themselves in. Continue reading “Mystic”
Being kept up by a baby who would not sleep, and who would wake his mother with his cries if he were not constantly being bounced about in a chair, with my supply of Agatha Christie and Dick Frances novels depleted, I found myself the other night reading a copy of Irenaeus’ *Against Heresies*, and I ran across this quote:
They gather their views from other sources than the Scriptures; and to use a common proverb, they “strive to weave ropes of sand,” while they try to adapt with an air of probability, the parables of the Lord, the sayings of the prophets, and the words of the apostles, to their own particular assertions, in order that their scheme may not seem altogether without support. In doing so, however, they disregard the order and the connection of the Scriptures, and so far as in them lies, dismember and destroy the truth. By transferring passages, and dressing them up anew, and making one thing out of another, they succeed in deluding many through their wicked art in adapting the oracles of the Lord to their opinions.
Their manner of acting is just as if one, when a beautiful image of a king has been constructed by some skilful artist out of precious jewels, should then take this likeness of the man all to pieces, should re-arrange the gems, and so fit them together as to make them into the form of a dog or of a fox, and even that but poorly executed; and should then maintain and declare that *this* was the beautiful image of the king which the skillful artist constructed, pointing to the jewels which had been admirably fitted together by the first artist to form the image of the king, but have been with bad effect transferred by the latter one to the shape of a dog, and by thus exhibiting the jewels, should deceive the ignorant who had no conception what a king’s form was like, and persuade them that that miserable likeness of the fox was, in fact, the beautiful image of the king.
In like manner do these persons patch together old wives’ fables, and then endeavor, by violently drawing away from their proper connection, words, expressions and parables whenever found, to adapt the oracles of God to their baseless fictions. (Book I, Chapter 1.)
It’s a pretty good image for misquoting the Bible, isn’t it? Continue reading “Irenaeus, Mosaics, and Old Wives’ Tales”