Tuesday 28 September 2010

Fr. Seraphim Rose on the genuine Orthodox tradition

"Meanwhile, the genuine Orthodox tradition continues as it has always been, trying to preserve its integrity in the midst of (...) conflicting currents. 

"Fortunately, this tradition has a way—with the help of God, Who looks after His Church—of preserving itself from the extremes that often try to deflect it from its course. This self-preservation and self-continuity of the Orthodox tradition is not something that requires the assistance of 'brilliant theologians'; it is the result of the uninterrupted 'catholic consciousness' of the Church which has guided the Church from the very beginning of its existence. 

"It is this catholic consciousness which preserved the wholeness of Russian Orthodoxy in the 1920’s when the extreme reforms of the 'Living Church' seemed to have taken possession of the Church and many of its leading hierarchs and theologians; this same catholic consciousness is at work today and will continue to preserve Christ’s Church through all the trials of the present day, just as it has for nearly 2000 years. 

"Those who speak for it are often not the 'brilliant theologians', who can be led astray as easily as anyone else, but more often humble laborers in Christ’s vineyard who would be surprised and even offended that anyone should make anything of their labors or even call them 'theologians'. (...)

"In all his writings, Fr. Michael is not trying to discover anything Тnew~~ in Orthodox tradition, or to stand out for the sharpness of his cri-ticisms — common faults in today’s academic theology. Rather, he attempts to give only his own humble, serene reflections on the wealth of Orthodox teaching which he accepts as already established and experi-enced by centuries of theologians and simple Christians before him. 

"Even when, for the sake of truth, he does find it necessary to criticize a view, whether inside or outside the Orthodox Church, he does it with such gentleness and good intention that it is impossible for anyone to be offended by him.
"Most of all, in Fr. Michael’s writings one may see a characteristic of genuine Orthodox theology that is so often lost sight of in our cold, rationalistic age. Theology is not primarily a matter of arguments, criticisms, proofs and disproofs; it is first of all men’s word about God, in accordance with the Divinely-revealed teaching of Orthodoxy.

"Therefore, its first purpose and intent is always to inspire, to warm the heart, to lift one above the petty preoccupations of earth in order to glimpse the Divine beginning and end of all things and so to give one the energy and encouragement to struggle towards God and our heavenly homeland. 

"This is certainly the meaning and spirit of the theology of Orthodoxy’s three pre-eminent 'theologians': St. John the Evangelist, St. Gregory Nazianzen, and St. Symeon the New Theologian; they, one may say, have set the tone for Orthodox theology, and this remains the tone and the task of theology even in our cold-hearted and analytic age.

"Father Michael’s theology is in this warm-hearted and inspiring tone. He is not the only one to write Orthodox theology with this intent today, but he is one of the few, in an older generation that is fast vanishing, who can serve as a link between us and the genuine theology of the Holy Fathers."


From: Protopresbyter Michael Pomazansky: theology in the ancient tradition. Preface to Orthodox Dogmatic Theoology - by Protopresbyter Michael Pomazansky, translated by Fr. Seraphim Rose.Third edition. 2009. St Herman of Alaska Brotherhood. 

A transcription is at : http://www.synod.com/01newstucture/pagesen/legacy/serrosethology.html 

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