East vs. West

Donald Fairbairn offered a helpful book, Eastern Orthodoxy Through Western Eyes, in 2002. The title provides a good idea of what you get in the book. The following is a paragraph from the introduction.

“The spirituality of the West is largely (although not exclusively) a backward-looking spirituality: we motivate ourselves for Christian life by remembering what God has already done in saving us. In contrast, the Orthodox see the journey not so much as stemming from something that has already happened, but as moving forward toward God, toward perfect union with him…Thus, Westerners (especially Western Protestants) are more likely to say that they are already saved, whereas the Orthodox emphasize that they are on the pathway to salvation.”

If Fairbairn’s account is accurate, I think a proper understanding of the eschatological hope would help out the Western Protestants. Yes, because of Christ, we have been saved. However, we also long for that Day to come (Christ’s return). Then the last foe (death) will be done away with.

5 thoughts on “East vs. West

  1. The problem is that to a great degree Western Protestant spirituality focuses on a past event, whereas Orthodoxy focuses on the future. Thus, we are presented with a false dichotomy: which is correct?

    To its credit Lutheranism is able to hold two apparently opposite extremes in tension, without loosing either. Which means, on a practical basis, we can look backward to the cross and forward to Christ’s return and “life everlasting.”

    Having a grasp of both, we can focus on the here-and-now: God’s grace in Word and Sacrament, and loving our neighbor through fulfilling our vocations.

  2. The end has already come. The book of Revelation proclaims this beautifully. The end is Christ. He is also the beginning.

    The here-and-now of Word and Sacrament is Christ coming to us.

    It’s weird.

    It’s Lutheranism.

    It’s nifty.

  3. Has anyone lived forever? Not that I know of.

    You say they are all waiting to come back from the dead, or are alive in the afterlife, but you offer no proof.

    Dear people, please understand, I mean you no harm. The god of the jews was a man they called “El.” It was a title. Christ can’t be his son, anymore than you could be the son of a person dead for somewhere around 4,000 years.

  4. I’ll let someone else address your comments, Josh.

    Regarding the Post, the thread has gone in the wrong direction. Looking backward vs Looking to the FUTURE is not the issue. The issue is Looking Backward vs Looking towards UNION with Christ. The distinction is between Justification vs. Theosis. Protestants look to the time of their Justification, while Orthodox look to their present, ongoing, unification with God. Don’t confuse the Orthodox emphasis on Union as something in the future.

    A better discussion would revolve around the issue: how much is Justification separated from Sanctification/theosis?

  5. Josh, just wondering: is the burden of proof automatically on us to prove that the souls of Christians who die are with Christ in paradise until the Resurrection? It cannot be proven; it can only be believed. You also cannot prove that it is not true.
    As far as “El” is concerned: you are simply regurgitating the liberal theology of the last fifty years. The Israelites of the Old Testament called God El, Yahweh, and Elohim. It is the same God, not a man. (Although I doubt that will cause you to rethink your unexamined position.)


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