I am working on a more in-depth blog, but while reading through a short book entitled Theosis by Archimandrite George, I came across an interesting point that has been on my mind quite a bit. Archimandrite George states that those Christians who lack a mystical understanding of the faith through theosis often times turn the Christian faith into a religion of moral improvement.
I see that in two extremes here in America:
- The Fundamentalist worldview: God is holy and we are not. In order to progress, we must, as individuals and as a society, have the highest moral standards. A failure to live up to God’s standards results in judgment and wrath upon us. God’s Kingdom is realized on earth through obedience to His commands.
- The Progressive Christian worldview: God is love and we must always love. In order to progress as a society we must initiate social programs that feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and house the homeless. Intolerance toward any group is not tolerated. Truth is relative; all that matters is love. God’s Kingdom is realized on earth through social justice and tolerance.
Many Christians fit into one of the two groups, and there are also many who will be somewhere in between. My point though is not that we should find balance between Pat Robertson and Shane Claiborne. Aren’t they both essentially saying the same thing: “through moral improvement the Kingdom of God will be realized”? Their definitions of moral progress differ, but the message is the same.
My Journey to a Different Calling
I grew up in a conservative Christian home. And I do not regret that. However, I found that form of faith to be unfulfilling. So I branched out and began going to more liberal churches: ones that openly accepted people whether they were gay, straight, homeless, or rich.
I believe what the Eastern Orthodox Church teaches: a life chasing moral improvement will lead to emptiness because our entire existence is for theosis. The process of theosis is becoming one with the divine Energies of God. I have begun down that road and it has been beautiful and life giving.
More on that later though…
For some information on theosis, be sure to check out my Resources Page.