My Foundations of the Orthodox Faith series is now fully online at Ancient Faith Radio. This series represents an attempt at a sort of catechism—approaching the faith from four foundational angles: the revelation of God to man, authority in the spiritual life, worship, and morality.
As with most of my work, I attempted to keep these talks fairly free of religious jargon, approaching the subjects with only a minimum of assumptions shared with the listeners. My hope is that these will be digestible not only to Orthodox Christians, but to other Christians, members of other religions, those who are “spiritual but not religious,” and even unbelievers.
There’s something of a progression here, so skipping ahead is advisable only at your own risk. The progression makes some sense to me: God reveals Himself (1), leading us to ask what we should trust as authoritative (2), propelling us into acts of worship (3) and ethics/morality (4).
Here’s the full series with all the links:
Whatever assumptions you may have, this series is probably not quite what you might be thinking. (But, hey! Maybe it is.)
My approach in this talk reflects one of my ongoing concerns—preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ, of the Holy Trinity, in a world that increasingly is either totally ignorant of its Creator or only takes a sort of intellectually deistic approach to Him. The question I asked myself in working on this talk is how I would begin with the assumption that listeners were not Christians at all or only had minimal Christian knowledge. I move from there to the height of Christian worship—the Eucharist.
I believe it’s impossible to move with reason alone to the Holy Trinity, though I suppose one could get to a sort of deism. The line one must cross to get to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit is the Incarnation of Jesus Christ. That is, we do know not the Trinity because of reason, but because of revelation. Ultimately, that means conversion and communion will require an encounter with that revelation, which can come in a lot of forms. Its perfection is found in the Eucharist, in which the revealed, incarnate God makes Himself available to us as food. Mystical union is only possible if there is revelation. Otherwise, we and the rest of creation remain forever detached from the Creator.
Anyway, I’m not sure if this talk is one of my better works, but it’s certainly one of my favorites so far.
This talk is the first installment in the four-part Foundations of the Orthodox Faith series and was originally delivered on May 16, 2010.
- Dr. Seraphim Bruce Foltz: Nature and Other Modern Idolatries: Kosmos, Ktisis, and Chaos in Environmental Metaphysics. (Dr. Foltz is philosophy professor at Eckerd College, a founder of SOPHIA, the Orthodox philosophical association; author of “Inhabiting the Earth: Heidegger, Environmental Ethics, and the Metaphysics of Nature,” and co-editor of “Rethinking Nature: Essays in Environmental Philosophy.”)
- Fr. Andrew Stephen Damick: The Cosmic Cathedral: Orthodox Liturgy and Ecological Vision. (Fr. Andrew is pastor of St. Paul’s Antiochian Orthodox Church in Emmaus, PA, and author of the “Roads from Emmaus” and “Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy” podcast series on Ancient Faith Radio, as well as of the blog “Roads from Emmaus.”)
- Abbot Sergius (Bowyer): Monasticism and the Restoration of Creation. (Fr. Sergius is abbot of St. Tikhon’s Monastery and music instructor at St. Tikhon’s Seminary.)
- Prof. Alfred Kentigern Siewers: The Desert Sea: Early Irish Ascetic Landscapes of Creation. (Prof. Siewers is associate professor of English, and Nature and Human Communities coordinator, at Bucknell University’s Environmental Center; author of “Strange Beauty: Ecocritical Approaches to Early Medieval Landscape,” co-editor of “Tolkien’s Modern Middle Ages.”)
- Dr. Elizabeth Theokritoff: Environmental Concerns and Orthodox Christian Witness. (Dr. Theokritoff is visiting lecturer at the Institute of Orthodox Christian Studies in Cambridge; author of “Living in God’s Creation: Orthodox Perspectives on Ecology,” co-editor of “The Cambridge Companion to Orthodox Christian Theology.”)
- Protodeacon Sergei Kapral: The Orthodox Church and Non-Orthodox Eco-Justice Movements. (Protodeacon Sergei is deacon at Holy Resurrection Cathedral in Wilkes-Barre, PA, and a member of the National Council of Churches Committee on Eco-Justice.)
The above blurbs are from the conference schedule.
I enjoyed this conference. It was much less political (and by that, I mean in the annoying, activist sense) than I had been prepared for, leaning far more heavily to questions of ecological vision which, I believe, are more critical to us. Blundering about with big policy recommendations can be, frankly, rather silly, when one is not guided by anything of a higher order. It also depends greatly on whatever the “scientific” fad of the moment is.