Saturday, July 9, 2016

How easily do we teach “theology” by Father Varnavas Giagkou

The holy and spiritual is not proven simply through the correct use of words, but words that bear the spirit of God. Many times for the sake of upholding Orthodoxy, we hatefully attack the human person. It is not enough for our words to be theologically correct, but they must also bear the testimony of one with a pure heart, illumined and with good motives. Even the most holy of topics can become the pretense for egotistic domination when there is present a disposition toward antagonistic conflict. In order to render our motives blameless, we sanctify our passions by projecting ourselves as self-called strugglers and protectors of God and [His] truths. Sometimes our spiritual words hide our hatred and this is the worst delusion because we make our fall into a virtue.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” Only he who has a pure heart receives the illumination of God and speaks to others about God with discernment. When our silence and prayer is not what theologizes, our words, even though they may be Orthodox, do not enter into the hearts of men, they simply pollute the air with their sound and let us vent our own internal difficulty.

How easily we teach “theology” on the internet, where the confirmation of our spirituality is shown by the fifty-something anonymous insulting and provocative comments we receive proving how we are such martyrs. This happens in other questions too, whether they be political, ideological or societal. We are indolent in personally working out our repentance and our good, while we close ourselves into an electronic web where each of us can sell his spirit.

The problem goes very deep; it hides the littleness of our faith. We believe that our own intervention is more important than the providence and grace of God. How many lost hours and sleepless nights on the internet, in order to come out on top in some intellectual debate? Even if the issues at stake are very spiritual, couldn’t that time have become prayer for ourselves and for the whole world? Without believing in the power of prayer, can I do theology? Maybe, in the end I am only using spiritual things to promote myself…

The spirit of God has peace, unity, and reconciliation. And before someone says that there is no love without truth, we answer that the defense of the truth can have disagreement, but there are two kinds of disagreement. There is a disagreement which brings forth respect and peace and disagreement which creates hostility and tension and reveals a heart with dispositions and motives not according to God. One cannot do theology or safeguard the good of society with the ugly manner and vulgar words that are used on the street. Theology ought to be an extension of the Divine Liturgy. Is there anything ugly, hostile, or offensive in the Divine Liturgy?

Before every word or spiritual practice, whether it has to do with ecclesiastical or society themes, we need to enter our “inner room”, learn to be silent, to be still, to pray, to taste the grace of God and only then, if God desires it, with great reserve and fear, do we speak those things with which God enlightens us.

How is it possible for us to speak constantly about every topic? Do we not have a need to “be filled’ before we can give? The man who has the gift of discernment is he who lives the presence and grace of God, who whatever he may say, he gives consolation, he inspires, he shows concern, he guides to repentance. He does not have tension, he does not have contests, he does not wish to prove anything, he does not attack, he does not defend himself, he does not clash with others, he has abandoned himself to the providence and designs of God.  His one and only pain and yearning is that God is visible in his life; that he never lose Christ. He doesn’t see dangers or threats, he doesn’t believe in his own thought, he doesn’t have views, he denies himself, he doesn’t have big ideas about great things, because his life is turned entirely toward Christ who is everything to him.

Our great challenge is not to conquer for the sake of truth, but to die for the sake of truth, to be beaten down for the name of Christ. Then our heart becomes an opening which can receive all men, good and bad, righteous or deluded, and a new kind of freedom can be bestowed upon us.

The clergyman put it well who speaking from the rock of the Acropolis that that the Apostle Paul was apostle of the nations and not apostles of the nationalisms! How wonderfully did he clarify without attacking any person! When you have pain and sensitivity, Christ grants you both discernment and spiritual subtlety.