Friday, January 27, 2006


There is a definite difference between knowing something cognitively and actually having that knowledge be a part of your being. As a Christian, perhaps the most telling difference between the two is the difference between the knowledge that Christ was crucified and risen, and actually feeling His presence in your life.

This past Monday in our class Christ in the OT we were talking about Christianity and Judaism. The professor mentioned that there are a number of rabbinic texts which speak of two comings of the Messiah: one in humility and one in glory. The nuances of the two comings/appearances may vary, but the essence is present in a number of writings. In any case, the professor's point, was that the main difference between Judaism and Christianity is which coming is being awaited. Both religions are in a state of expectation, only for us as Christians, the humble Messiah has come in the presence of Christ and we were given glimpses of glory in His resurrection.

At that point it hit me. I had read that the early Christian community was very much eschatologically focused, expecting the return of Jesus. But it wasn't something that was part of my being, something that I felt, rather than knowing. Somehow at that point, when I heard it explained in those terms, I began to realize the expectant quality of Christianity. We believe in the risen Christ and we believe that those who die believing in Him will live in Him. Just as importantly, however, we believe in and expect His return in glory.


On a different note, my wife and I are watching the third season of the Dick van Dyke show on DVD. After a couple of episodes it dawned on me why it is one of my favorite sitcoms: in so many different ways, Magda and I are Rob and Laura Petrie.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

A suggestion: Read Frithjof Schuon's book entitled The Transcendent Unity of Religions. Why so? It is important to be able to see other religious traditions as if one were within the tradition so to know them with one's being and not only cognitively. The danger in any religion's apologetic is that by pointing out its own uniqueness, it can fail to see the uniqueness of the other religion. This failure of "seeing" leads to conclusions about which religion is better or more likely "salvific" than another. Of course, the Christian should think his or her religion is salvific. It is. But insofar as the Logos is and always was and insofar as the Spirit blows where it listeth, the pervading sense of Hashem's (G_d)Presence to the Hebrews of antiquity should not be diminished by a Christian theologian's distinction ("diminution by distinction") about the Incarnation as understood by Jewish believers and Jewish non-believers in first century Palestine. The follower of the Law too could be saved. In other words, the distinction your professor noted is one sided from a distinctly Christian point of view. Not wrong. Just one sided. The critical issue in any religion is what and Who saves? By whatever name, it is what the Christian calls The Triune Godhead and other major religious traditions call by other names.

Just a thought.

9:02 AM  
Blogger Virgil Petrisor said...

Thank you for your comment. I would like to ask you to sign your comments - it seems to me that something lacks in communication when even one of the participants is anonymous.

Regarding my post and your comment, I should point out that the professor was pointing out the similarities betwenn Christianity and Judaism and the fact that, contrary to the belief of many Christians, there are still unfulfilled prophecies of the Old Testament (which, as Christians, we believe are to be fulfilled at the second coming). So he was arguing for similarities and connections between Judaism and Christianity, as well as for the continued importance of the Old Testament for Christians.

As for your other point, about the unity of religion, it is our belief that the Word came to save all people, that seeds of the Truth are planted everywhere in the world, and that the Spirit is at work in the entire creation since the beginning. So, it is important to identify these elements wherever they occur. However, as an Orthodox Christian preparing for the priesthood, I believe that the fullness of the Truth is present within Orthodoxy.

This does not mean that I do not respect other people's beliefs or that I will attempt to force my limited understanding of God upon anyone else. It does, however, mean that I believe Orthodoxy to be the surest path to salvation. It does not mean that it is the only one. If I remember it right, St. Theophan the Recluse said once that those outside the Orthodox Church also have a Father in heaven who desires their salvation.

in Christ,

10:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Unfortunately this will have to be my last comment for I prefer to be Anonymous (as is provided for by this very blog). Nevertheless, it is your blog so, after this post to explain my point of view, I will abandon the field.

The problem with the "surest way" is that inherent to the phrase is the idea that other ways are less sure. The implication being Heaven presents less secure Revelations for humanity's salvation is, at its humble best, conjecture, and at its worst, simply wrong with
a triumphant cast to it.

As before, I suggest that one read Frithjof Schuon. Also read Seyyed Hossein Nasr, Martin Lings, James S. Cutsinger (Orthodox like yourself), Rene Guenon, and Ananda Coomaraswamy. Yes, you are studying to be an Orthodox priest; however, the Truth is more precious than a one denominational perspective.

I wish you well in your studies and, if you change your new policy about signing in as Anonymous, perhaps I will make additional comments. Either way, again, I wish you well.

11:46 AM  
Blogger Virgil Petrisor said...

Commenting with a name was a request, not a requirement, so feel free to comment anonymously. I just thought I would mention that I would prefer communicating on a non-anonymous basis. However, I respect your preference and I appreciate your comments. I know that we disagree on our approach to the Truth, but I believe we are both honestly looking for it (or, as my ethics professor so beautifully put it, Him).

in Christ, vp

1:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for your comments. And thanks for allowing me to remain anonymous. I think then you might find the following essays thought provoking:

Christianity and the Perennial Philosophy --

Hesychia: An Orthodox Opening To Esoteric Ecumenism --

The Mystery of the Two Natures --

Given the state of the world, I think men and women of faith--whatever their religion may be among the Great Traditions--would find the underlying theme in these essays of great value. Professor Cutsinger's work is a most timely work indeed.

9:09 AM  
Blogger Virgil Petrisor said...

Thank you for your reading suggestions. Hopefully I'll find the time to read them and maybe post some thoughts.

in Christ,

1:35 PM  

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