Re: Seely's Views 2

From: George Murphy <>
Date: Sun Sep 12 2004 - 16:46:36 EDT

1) The issue with the filioque has nothing to do with the question of whether or not the Son pre-existed. It is rather a question of whether the Holy Spirit proceeds ex Patre (from the Father) or ex Patre Filioque (from the Father and the Son).

2) Islam shares historical roots with Christianity and Judaism. But since the Christian claim is that the fullest self-revelation of Abraham's God is in the cross & the resurrection of the Crucified, & since the Qur'an denies that Jesus died on the cross, Christians have legitimate questions about whether or not Muslims know who the
God of Abraham is. To put it another way, just connecting this God with the Abraham tradition doesn't mean that they know the character of God. The question of whether or not Jews, Christians and Muslims worship the same God is a legitimate one but it isn't a drop dead answer to that question just to call them all Abrahamic religions.

  ----- Original Message -----
  From: Jim Armstrong
  Sent: Sunday, September 12, 2004 1:15 PM
  Subject: Re: Seely's Views 2

  Mmm, as you'all have kindly pointed out, I didn't represent the history quite right (always appreciate those realignments, folks!), nor articulate the point all that well. The "filoque" business was really what I had in mind (differing views as to whether the Son preexisted or was a new entity when begotten), asking whether these differences in understanding was sufficient to warrant a conclusion by one group that the God of the other was idolatrous. The question is rhetorical, but is intended to raise the issue of degree - how different does the view of God need to be to become idolatrous. What throws the switch of distinction?

  Though my question is broader, I am particularly troubled by a readiness by many in the Christian community to declare that Allah (for example) is not, cannot be, the same one true God we worship. I argue that this perspective is inappropriately and unnecessarily insulting and alienating , given that our Abrahamic roots are the same, however much our understandings and practices may or may not have diverged (arguably a matter of degree). Who changed along the way - God, ...or our (universally imperfect) understanding of Him? And where was the tripwire representing a change to a sufficiently altered, and thereby idolatrous practice? If one thinks about the tripwire being the birth of Jesus, note that the core beliefs of the Jews and Muslims did not change! From the outside, some might (and some do!) conclude that increasing emphasis - particularly in our time - on the elevating the name of Jesus is more likely to represent such a profound change than those which may have occurred in other faiths of Abrahamic origin. As y'all have pointed out, we have staked our tent in the conclusions of various early councils and such that narrowed and brought definition to the foundations for the beliefs that we hold today (as have other traditions). We hope they got it right, but some of us revisit those conclusions - as have many before us.

  At the end of the day, I believe that we should at least be very careful not to confuse stewardship with ownership. For some reason, our desire to be (the holder and definer of) right seems to transform too easily into a situation where two stewards shout angrily over the fence at each other, each declaring the superiority and supreme authority of their respective masters, never realizing that they serve at the pleasure of one and the same master. Would that master be pleased and experience satisfaction in this behavior, even though it was intended to be on his behalf? I don't think so.

  OK, OK. I freely admit that this relates to a larger issue that is particularly troubling to me, the remarkable and unbecoming propensity for contention within the Christian community and in its interactions with those outside it (even our relatives). Not only does that contention fail to bring honor to the one whom we serve and whose name we claim, it seems to ignore and even betray essential elements of the teachings and example of the centerpiece of Christianity, ...perhaps particularly that of reconciliation. It sadly contradicts and compromises the central positive and relational message of love and healing.

   ...or so it seemeth to me. JimA wrote:

---------- Original Message ----------------------------------
From: "Jim Armstrong" <>
Date: Sat, 11 Sep 2004 21:57:05 -0700

  Unless I am mistaken, the eastern branch of Christianity feels that the
western branch has created "a form of idolatry" (heresy) by deciding to
worship one begotten of God rather than God Himself who preexisted the
begotten one. Many/most western Christians take exception to that, but
would we say the eastern branch is practicing idolatry because their
understanding of God and man's history with Him differs in this way?

My wife was going to the Eastern Orthodox Church when we met. Her sister and brother-in-law still attend. In 30 years of discussions with them, I have never heard this. A friend in whose life I had a little influence and who in turn has had a lot of influence in my youngest son's life is Greek orthodox and in the 25 years I have known this fellow, he has never given me any hint that he thinks we shouldn't be worshipping the Son. Now, I certainly wouldn't want to claim that I know everything about the eastern church and I know that tradition plays a larger role in their theology but not worship the Son? Never heard that one.

Received on Sun Sep 12 17:17:42 2004

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