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We just concluded our readings about the rise and fall of the Byzantine Empire.
One of my favorite programs that aired on the History Channel was a series titled “Engineering an Empire” hosted by Peter Weller, lecturer of ancient history at Syracuse University – yes, that Peter Weller who starred in “Robocop”, “The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai”, and most recently in last year’s “Startrek: Into Darkness”.
New updates and submissions about the reign of Justinian I (aka Justinian the Great), the Byzantine Empire, Hagia Sophia, and the Orthodox theology of theosis. You can find them here.
Tonight, there were interesting talks about what constitutes theosis and how it perhaps relates to the more Reformed understanding of sanctification.
Also, to clarify some points on terminologies that often confused us tonight:
- Dyophysitism – the Chalcedonian position that full deity and full humanity exist in the person of Jesus Christ as two natures without confusion or change.
- Monophysitism – states that in the person of Jesus Christ, his human nature was absorbed into the divine nature like a cube of sugar dissolves in a cup of water. Therefore, Christ was left with only one nature, the Divine (Greek mono- one, physis – nature). (i.e. Christ had only a Divine nature.)
- Miaphysitism – holds that in the one person of Jesus Christ, his Divinity and Humanity are united in one “nature” (physis), the two being united without separation, without confusion, and without alteration. This is the position of the Orthodox and Coptic Churches.
It was also interesting to see tonight how hard it is for most Christians to articulate very basic terminologies we use all the time like:
- What is a spirit? How is it different from the soul? What is a soul anyway? After death, how exactly does the soul or the spirit separate from the body?
- How is a soul saved by God? Saved from what ? It’s saved from Hell? What is hell exactly and where exactly is it located within the known universe? If it’s outside the universe, how do know that? (Same questions apply to the notion/concept of heaven.)
- What is the nature of a “resurrected” or “spiritual” body? What type of matter will it consist of?
Hello folks and Happy New Year!
We’ve definitely come a long way since we first embarked on this book last year and hopefully garnered much since then – let’s keep the momentum going throughout this year.
For our next meeting on Thursday, Jan. 9, we’ll cover the first two sections of Chapter 13 that deals with the Byzantine Empire and the Orthodox Church: “A Church to Shape Orthodoxy: Hagia Sophia” and “Byzantine Spirituality: Maximus and the Mystical Tradition”.
We’ll spend the next couple of months dealing with the Orthodox Church that will hopefully lift the veil of obscurity that most evangelical and Western Christians have of it.
“Do Infants Go to Hell if They Die Before Baptism?: The Doctrine of Original Sin Re-examined” – an Orthodox Perspective
We will be covering the Orthodox Church very soon in MacCulloch’s book, so it’s good to get a glimpse of a bit of its theology and how it differs from the West, especially when it comes to the definition of “sin”.
“It is not clear by what justice humanity can share in Adam’s guilt when it existed only in potentiality in his loins at the time of the Fall. It is also difficult to see why the children of the baptized should inherit a guilt from which their parents have been cleansed.” – Prof. Gerald Bonner, Roman Catholic theologian
It’s good to bear in mind that Augustine never intended his theology of “Original Sin” to be a world-wide, eternal church doctrine – it was the Church many years later that adopted this idea and made it into a doctrine. Later on, Protestantism adopted this as doctrine as well and has shaped Western theology ever since.
It’s amazing how a mis-reading of the Bible that led to a mis-interpretation that led to this doctrine. This is why it’s always critical to have good exegesis precede hermeneutics.