Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Book Review and Postview: The Orthodox Church by Timothy Ware

I finished The Orthodox Church by Timothy Ware (1964 Pelican edition). I don't have a lot to say about it, in general. Here are my thoughts in answer to the preview for this book review:

What I was most interested to learn was whether Orthodox soteriology is essentially identical to New Wine soteriology. I wasn't 100% sure I could tell whether it was or not. The New Wine motivational structure (at least, as I understand the New Wine System) seems like it might be out of character with Orthodoxy. And I would think that if Orthodoxy had a motivational structure as striking as that of the New Wine System, Ware would have mentioned that. But I will have to do more reading to explore. Ware was giving an overview of Orthodox doctrine rather than a very detailed one.

Because it was an overview, I didn't get a very detailed account of theology through the ages, as I hoped. I think I got a flavor of Orthodoxy, and that's a helpful thing for the time being. I got some thought out of icons, liturgy, and creeds, relatively undeveloped as subjects for me due to my upbringing.



I looked up these Orthodox links (Orthodox Christian Theology OrthodoxWiki on soteriology Wikipedia on theosis Orthodox Road OrthodoxWiki on theosis) and also these anti-Orthodox links (CARM easternorthodoxchristian.com), on soteriology and theosis. There was no clear statement for or against the New Wine ideas that we have to overcome all of our sinful habits before we enter into God's rest, and that we will be provided a period of time (generous-but-limited in New Wine thinking) in which to complete that process. Nor did I see the idea that people are at risk of hardening, also found in the New Wine System. These didn't come up in either of the critical websites, which I think both try to propound orthodox Protestantism. Arguably, the New Wine System is orthodox Protestantism, though it is not traditional Protestantism. I am not certain but would guess that they would find New Wine System doctrines of concern, and so would flag them if found in Eastern Orthodoxy. So I am somewhat certain that New Wine motivational structure is either not present in Eastern Orthodoxy, or that if it is, it's only a (sociologically) minor opinion, not the mainstream or historic opinion of the church. From that I would think it is substantially or wholly untried (by Orthodoxy at least). I wouldn't put my certainty in this opinion too high, low enough that I still feel like reading more about Orthodox theology (maybe a book by Lossky?) to be very sure. But I can let that go for the time being.

Friday, March 5, 2021

The Spirit is Not Just a Therapy

Seeing Spiritually is to see according to the spirit of God, to really see as though God exists. Is the Spirit of God solely concerned with therapy, or is he also concerned with holiness and righteousness, and caring about other people? Does the Spirit of God care if you care about God? If the Spirit of God only appears like therapy to you, then maybe you have only really cried out for therapy, and not for holiness and righteousness, and altruism. So you have only opened up a receptor in you for the therapy of the Spirit of God to fill, and the Spirit is only therapy to you.

Thursday, March 4, 2021

The Self-care System

Written in January of 2019, minor edits in 2021.

He walked along, lost in his thoughts, when a gang of five young men surrounded him.

"Are you a self-carer?" they asked.

"No," the man said.

"Why not?"

"I don't want to put myself first."

"Why's that? You think you're too good for us?" They stepped in closer.

"No", he said, by a force of will over his body shutting down.

"Believes in himself, doesn't he?" "Or God." "Same difference." "Well, we'll give him a reason for self-care."

They beat the man to the ground, kicking him and pummelling him, punching him in the kidneys over and over. They knew he was still alive, and then left him there.

No one came to rescue the man. He lay there, and thought, "Well, I guess I should go to the hospital".

The hospital, like all the hospitals, was run by the Self-carers. They welcomed him in. "I'm glad you took the step to come to us, out of love for yourself." He was confused as to whether he loved himself, although that might have been from the loss of blood. They sat him down in the triage line, knowing that he would live on, and gave him some paperwork to fill out.

When he got done with it, they came over to officiate the Oath.

"I do solemnly declare" he began, repeating after them, "That I always have and henceforward always will put my well-being first, and following from that, the well-being of my collective. And that God does not exist, otherwise he would have saved me, and that I renounce God and never did and never will serve him or love him all my life. So help me."

"We will help you", the doctors said. "Now come with us to the exam room." They diagnosed him with traumas, most notably serious kidney damage.

"We're going to have to replace at least one of your kidneys. Fortunately we have a fresh boatload in from where we get them from."

"Where do you get them from?"

"Oh, from a faraway country where it's more economical to raise them."

"Okay, I guess that's what I'll have to go with", said the man.

"Great, you're going to do great", the doctors said.

They did the operation, and everything went well for the man. He got integrated into the self-care life, his confusion covered up with things making sense.

But one day he had a relapse, out on the edge of town. He started yearning. Not long it was before a man saw him yearning, read it from his body language, and started talking to him to get him to come close and be bound to him. Then the waiting man stabbed him in the chest and took his wallet.

While the man lay there, bleeding, he thought "I'd better go to the hospital again. I'm sure glad I put my well-being first." And he began to rouse himself.

But his yearning paralyzed him, fought with him. He tried his best to overcome his own heart, but his heart was too strong to let him walk steadily toward the hospital. He would have died.

But then a stranger approached. He had his own medical supplies and cared for the man's wound. The man wanted to thank him and be his friend, but the stranger looked around and said, "No, I can't let you do that. Community's watching. They want to suck me into them, and if I form a community with you, Community wins. I'm sorry, I have to go." "Wait, let me tell you about Self-care." So the helper stayed and heard.

"No, I still have to go. But you can unswear your oath to the Self-care people."

So he did, repeating after the helper. "My well-being is accidental to me, not essential. God is truer than life."