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Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Knowing God

"O Heavenly King the Comforter ..." Posted by Hello

The Scriptures and Holy Tradition are remarkably uninterested in the question as to whether or not God exists. This questions which seems to preoccupy modern minds would have seemed a very strange one to our forebears. They were far more interested in how one can know God rather than speculate about his existence; far more concerned over this personal encounter rather than any abstract exterior knowledge.

There are traditions in non-Orthodox Christianity that stress this personal encounter, this existential knowledge. The trouble with these is that they are so often individualistic and lite on sanctification, a weakness that can lead into all sorts of errors and dangers, the most catastrophic of which is spiritual pride, (hubris).

In Orthodox Christianity a believer's knowledge of God is always "in communion." We never relate to God alone but always in that communion of all the faithful, which is the Church. It seems to me that this is profoundly realistic as to our human nature which, in Orthodox thought, is not a solitary posession but a shared state of being. Truly, my salvation is bound inextricably together with the salvation of my brothers and sisters, the personal with the communal and, indeed, the cosmic.

The Holy Spirit, therefore, can be described the hypostasis of the Church's Communion with God. As we, (the Orthodox), enter Great Lent we could do no better than call to mind the ultimate test of all our disciplines:- "Is this increasing my love for God and neighbour?"


Jim N. said...

Father Bless!

Thanks for this, Father. Perhaps by the end of Lent my love for God and neighbor will have increased, but right now it's my grumpiness that is increased! :)

Anonymous said...

Hubris plus the sin of prelast - is that the correct term for pride in prayer? - and add to that a personal experience of God. What am I doing as an Orthodox Christian? I really did not think that I had taken so much of my Western Christian heritage with me when I converted.

Father Gregory said...

Not everything you brought with you should have been left behind of course. The personal relationship with God is part and parcel of the covenant, but what it is not is a saving hot line to God irrespective of the covenant community (the Church).

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