My long-time friend, Fr. Aidan Kimel, has written a very helpful article on the topic of the “Unmoral Christian.” He enlists C.S. Lewis in the cause of a proper understanding. What could be better than that? I strongly encourage those readers who are still pondering all of this – to follow the link to his article. He adds meat to my bare bones!
Father, would you be so kind as to write a post on what a penitent’s confession would look like that reflected your understanding in these posts (“un moral”), compared to one based on the “moral” understanding? Thank you.
As a request from a brother priest, I’ll be glad to give such an article a try. We can feel our way together!
Hurray for this post and its discussion. It makes me want to know,worship, obey God,repent, and pray unceasingly in the Tradition of my Orthodox fathers.
Reading this blog for some time has been very encouraging to my heart. Certainly reading one article outside its context could very well be confusing. Perhaps as western Christians we are very good at seperating our life in Christ with our life in the church and with the intellectualizing of the faith. Reading one article without the context of the sacramental life of the church could certainly lead one to believe in an individualized type of orthodox faith. As an orthodox Christian for 4 years it can be easy for me to want to read this blog and make the practice of self emptying in isolation from the church and her practices. A necessary aide is my father confessor, liturgical prayer, fasting in humility as a church body, etc. I feel that something missing from many of the comments of recent is the relational component within the body that makes ideas on a blog a natural part of the living faith.
Forgive me if this sounds to preachy.
preaching is my middle name.
Always good to hear from Fr. Aidan, whose blog is pretty much the only other Orthodox one I read these days. Before I converted to Orthodoxy my priest warned me that Orthodoxy was full of fundamentalists too (I was raised in fundamentalist Bible churches). I haven’t been disappointed in that regard, but it has been good to find kindred souls like Fr. Aidan and Fr. Stephen along the way.
Perhaps “transmoral” or “supramoral” are more precise than “unmoral.” In order to think or live “outside the box” (of morality), one must know very well what is inside the box.
Thank you Father–this is very helpful.
Thank you for this link Fr.
Father Aidan names what is missing in almost all contemporary accounts of what it is to Be Christian, the eschatological dimension. Where this is ignored we wander in darkness, although make much noise.
‘You must be born from above’
This is first, the New Creation
In my own tradition it is barely acknowledged. People look around and wonder why the church is dying, yet it is not dying but dead. Therein of course is its Hope, for only that which is dead can be raised and be the vehicle of life eternal
Thank you Father Stephen for this link and your wisdom which I learn much from and seek to share with my brothers and sisters
Speaking of C.S. Lewis, I still think his metaphor of the toy soldiers becoming flesh and blood humans one day (Pinnochio was originally a brilliant Christian fable) works very well here. I think what most of the world hears from Christianity is that you must double down and try harder to be the best toy soldier you can be and then the Great General will reward you, but in reality Christianity is saying something more like “even the best toy soldier will amount to nothing soon because we are no longer going to be toys at all.”
The Christian life is not about a measurable success or failure; in fact, ‘initiation’ [the closest word I can think to ‘mystagogy’ in English is this I am afraid] into Christian eschatology (as practically exemplified in the ‘remembrance of death’ and the Eucharist), is a good description of the Christian life.
Can I second the request for an article on what confession should look like? I have not been to confession in awhile, because, although I know I should, I don’t know what to say. I have “nothing to report.” My life is very tame, so I feel silly taking up our very busy priest’s time with my peccadillos.
In a discussion I recently had, I told the other person that it is a huge privilege for me to be able to go, and keep going, to confession, where I can continue to work the 5th step: Admit to God, to myself and to another human being the exact nature of my wrongs.
It is this “exact nature” aspect that Fr Stephen has been discussing here.
For me, it’s getting at what’s at the root of my pangs of shame – the ways I stave off having to encounter my death, and/or whatever “feels like death” to me, and what, regarding that, is behind the sins I commit. Asking God to help me see the exact nature of my wrongs, and allowing myself to sit with the shame, has been very, very helpful. It doesn’t necessarily take a lot of time. I knew about some of this before, but after having been in the Church for +5 years have now been able to better connect all of this to Salvation/Healing, and to relax a bit in hope and in God’s love.
Hi, my name is Dana, and I am a recovering perfectionist…
It’s actually great that some reactions led to even more substance. The Lord uses every opportunity
A follow-up piece to my article: “Transcending Moralism and the Freedom of the Spirit” (http://goo.gl/GJha4w).
It is always good to be in the company of the Apostle!
It is indeed a “new mode of existence” that is birthed in us through Christ. The weakness of the moralist’s approach is not that they are just trying to teach new tricks to an old dog, but that they are trying to teach tricks to a dog who is dead. Canis mortus est. This lends poignancy to the Southern expression, “That dog won’t hunt.”
I seriously believe that all of this requires that we rightly understand the atonement. If it is not a forensic atonement, why then do we try to live as though it were? For my Orthodox detractors would all loudly proclaim the death of the forensic model and point fingers at the “West,” but they make their fingers pointless when they return to the very moralism that was born of that miserable metaphor.
For if we died with Christ and we have been raised with Christ, how should we then live?
That’s the question. And the answer can only be: “By a new mode of existence.” There’s nothing here that hasn’t been said before. And it was said by St. Paul. And still they gnash their teeth.