Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Neo-Church Fathers, hellenism, or extra nos proclamation

To help put the below in context, here is a picture of Chain of Being

"Like the dead, take no account of either the scorn of men or their praises, and you can be saved." -St. Makarios the Great.
“Struggle until death to fulfil the commandments: purified through them, you will enter into life.”
—St Thalassios the Libyan

Response:  if all he means by this is struggle in sanctification, no problem.   

A person must first spend a long time in ascetic practice. He must begin by purifying his body from the actual committing of sin, whether great or small, and then purge his soul of every form of desire or anger. His moral impulses need to be disciplined by good habit, so that he does not do anything whatsoever through his five senses that is contrary to the purpose of his intellect, [This is very good Hellenistic philosophy, but very bad Hebraic revelation--JBA]  nor does his inner self consent to any such thing. It is then, when finally he becomes subject to himself, that God makes all things subject to him through dispassion and by the grace of the Holy Spirit. For a man must first submit to the law of God, and then he will rule as an intelligent being over all around him. His intellect will reign as it was originally created to reign, with judgment and self-restraint, with courage and justice. Now he will calm his wrath with the gentleness of his desire, now quieten his desire with the austerity of his wrath; and he will know that he is a king. All the limbs of his body, no longer abducted by ignorance and forgetfulness, will act in accordance with God’s commandment. Then through his devotion to God he will achieve spiritual insight and will begin to anticipate the snares prepared by the devil and his secret and stealthy attacks.St Peter of Damaskos

If this is true, and if this is being used as the ground of salvation, and this is the purported biblical teaching, then why did Paul worry about being accused of antinominism.  At least Roman Catholicism pretends to give grace a role.

“Forgiveness of sins is betokened by freedom from the passions; he who has not yet been granted freedom from the passions has not yet received forgiveness.”
—St Thalassios the Libyan

It's hard to imagine Paul being accused of antinominianism in Romans 6 if he were preaching the above.

The only path to salvation is the  unwavering following of the instructions of the Holy Fathers
~Ignatios Briannchaninov

Seems like Jesus got replaced.

“Chastity's wings are greater and lighter than the wings of marriage. Intercourse, while pure, is lower. Its house of refuge is modest* darkness. Confidence belongs entirely to chastity, which light enfolds.”
—St Ephrem the Syrian, Hymns on the Nativity

Notice the language of higher/lower.  Spiritual (mind) stuff is higher on the scale than passional stuff.  This is Hellenism with a vengeance and it is foreign to the Bible.  My whole outlook on life is one total negation of this mentality.  

“Since Elijah repressed the desire of his body, he could withhold the rain from the adulterers. Since he restrained his body, he could restrain the dew from the whoremongers who released and sent forth their streams. Since the hidden fire, bodily desire, did not prevail in him, the fire of the high place obeyed him, and since on earth he conquered fleshly desire, he went up to the place where holiness dwells and is at peace. Elisha, too, who killed his body, revived the dead. That which is by nature mortal gains life by chastity, which is beyond nature. He revived the boy since he refined himself like a newly wind infant. Moses, who divided and separated himself from his wife, divided the sea before the harlot. Zipporah maintained chastity, although she was the daughter of pagan priests; with a calf the daughter of Abraham went whoring.”—St Ephrem the Syrian, Hymns on the Nativity

This is funny since Elijah called down fire on men.  Was he doing it Jedi-style, with the passions neutral?  


  1. I've found a lot of this very helpful in working through 'magic' religion. It's a very attractive vision, given the contrast of much watered-down evangelical preaching that grounds down to moralism and 'just-so' stories, without really dealing with the Bible.

    What are some of the most beneficial resources that you've read to kick you off in this direction? Are there any books that deal with the contrast between substance ontology and a biblical ontology? Or are there any strong works constructing a verbal ontology?


    1. The classic text on chain of being is A. Lovejoy's *The Great Chain of Being.* Mind you, it is extremely difficult reading. I would start with Michael Horton's Covenant and Eschatology series.

  2. Also, I find funny that Augustine, despite modern criticism, was one of the best, even-handed, commentators on marriage. Most says he's negative because of the selfishness that is (according to him) innevitably in sex, but at least he approached this from a psycho-spiritual approach, than the weird, will-based approach most in the East took. But again, that his was a rather positive approach, seems rather odd in light of a Bible that contains the Song of Songs.

    cal (leadme.org)