Saturday, December 25, 2010

Nothing new in Christian debates of today

In my previous entry I noted how much I'm enjoying reading "The story of Christian Spirituality." So many discussions and arguments I read in the various faith traditions go way back--most can be found in Paul's letters to the young churches. That's what I love about this book--the background on how people of different eras struggle, and excerpts from the writings of martyrs, theologians, academics, pastors and monks. Even those most caught up in contemplative non-thought or mysteries of the faith, took time to write it down and tell others to do it their way. This advice from Symeon the New Theologian (949-1022 A.D.), an aristocrat who entered a monastery in Constantinople, for those seeking experience and those saying it is wrong sounds so contemporary:

Do not say: It is impossible to receive the Holy Spirit;
Do not say: It is possible to be saved without Him.
Do not say that one can possess the Spirit without being aware of it.
Do not: But God does not appear to men.
Do not say: But men do not see the divine light--
Or at least it is impossible in this current generation.

This is a thing, my friends, which is never impossible, at any time.
On the contrary it is entirely possible for those who long for it." [Hymns of Divine Love, #27]

Excellent summary by John A. McGuckin, who wrote Chapter 4 of this book.

Audio about Symeon by McGuckin.

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