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Saturday, 9 May 2015

Basis for Union with God: Love not Intellect




Some Protestant theologians see the Word as the only means of divine revelation. They say it was intended for our intellect. But this is a sign of a person distinct from us rather than one in union with us.  This view explains their emphasis on Bible study and their denigration of the sacraments and all that is considered mystical. It is a denial of Orthodox spirituality. This view implies the Word does not have a spiritual task. But we all sense there is more than an intellectual understanding of God. We sense that there is something beyond an intellectual understanding. We seek and yet cannot completely know. The reality is that the Word of God impacts us in a dynamic way. It was intended for the soul and not just the intellect. The Word awakens faith in us. This demonstrates that there is a direct relationship involved between us and the Word. Our Church Fathers do not limit us to only an intellectual dimension of the mind but speak of the "feeling of the mind and our relationship with God."
Fr. Dimitru tells us,
"The Fathers of the Church when they speak of the "feeling of the mind," assert a direct contact of the mind with the spiritual reality of God, not a simple knowledge of Him from a distance. Its something like the "understanding" of a person with whom you are in contact.
In seeking this spiritual union we do not imply that we will ever assume the divine substance of God. We are His creation, creatures.


Fr. Dimitru also says,

On the other hand, our creatureliness implies the sovereignty of God.  It makes our transformation into a divine substance impossible, no matter how close we get to Him.  Our approach to God, our uplifting to an understanding of Him, can only be realized if God Himself clothes us with the things proper to Him; but even if we are penetrated by His power, we can't shed our created nature.  Our nature can't become uncreated: We become gods by grace, not by nature.
We can conclude from this that our link to Him must be established on the basis of a personal relationship. This begins with a spiritual encounter with Him. He must reveal His nature to us.


We can use the analogy of knowing our neighbor.  We cannot know the inner nature our neighbor by our own initiative.  For us to truly know them, they must reveal themselves to us on their own initiative.  Normally this is revealed in inverse proportion to the aggressive acts we take to know them. The more we demand they tell us, the less likely they will reveal their inner personhood to us.  We must first show our own vulnerability and humility for a relationship to develop. This is how it is with God. We can't know Him unless He reveals himself to us. We should not have any fears about losing our identity in this process. Just like in our developing a relationship with our neighbor as we develop a relation sip with God and find union with Him, we do not lose our own identity. It is with humility and love that we allow Him to reveal Himself to us.


Fr. Dimitru says,

The spiritual Christian adopts this affirmation of supreme humility, but likewise of supreme daring:"I am man, but I live as God, by what God has givine me; I am man, but I an on God's level by the grace with which He has been pleased to cloth me..." This reflects the expression of Apostle Paul: "I live, yet not I, but Christ lives in me" (Gal 2:20).

As in a relationship between two people, it is love that is central to our union with God. We must not make the mistake of only trying to know God intellectually.  We must cultivate a loving relationship.
Reference: Orthodox Spirituality, pp 30 - 39.


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