A post from my Facebook about a month ago that I wished to share here as well:
“Without denying the necessity of a cultural preparation of the student of theology, this rationalistic vision that proposes to know the Christian teaching and does not have as starting point the direct co-working of the believer with the divine grace, but only some information, can be named theological intellectualism. This is a tendency that all of us who obtain a lot of spiritual knowledge get unavoidably and, unfortunately, it remains on a purely cerebral level because we don’t try to assimilate it through experience.
Theological intellectualism is a temptation — very hard to avoid — of the very academic theological system of almost all times and that is why it can affect negatively the life of the youth of the Church.” -Elder Sofian Boghiu
Where I am in my faith right now. I’ll tell you.
I’d basically say that Orthodoxy has made me realize I’m pretty much, up to this point, lived life as an atheist. And that I’m not cut out for such an ascetic life. I don’t have much to say about it other than that. I’ve been trying to formulate thoughts on it for quite some time now. I don’t think I’ve loved God ever before just the idea of Him. I thought I was by being so into theology and study and saw that as a form of communion but apparently it isn’t. I feel I have just liked the concept of God.
I find Orthodoxy to be the true expression of Christianity. I have no problems believing Orthodoxy intellectually, however, I don’t think I’m capable of living it and doubt seriously that I’ll ever be able to do so. Some have probably mistakenly taken my time of blues to mean something is wrong with Orthodoxy and that I’d leave it for something else. I’d never go back to Protestantism nor to Catholicism; no offense to you of course if you’re reading and you’re either of those.
Abbot Tryphon recently wrote, “If your spiritual life is concentrated only on external practices and traditions, but does nothing to bring about real change, you have gained nothing. Too many people think as long as they keep the fasting rules, do their prayers, and attend the services, they are good Orthodox Christians. Yet if there is no love, no charity, and forgiveness of others, and your life is filled with gossip and judgement, your Orthodox Christian faith is worth nothing.”
For me, the external has been theology and the pursuit of head knowledge alone, but the Church wants to go deeper into a living and thriving communion with Christ the Pantocrator and Good Shepherd.
A friend of mine said it best to me, his advice was the only good advice I’ve heard in all this, but he said, “I would suggest trying to focus more on where you are than where you would like to be. Live what Ecclesiastes teaches. Enjoy that which God has given you know and obey him. It’s a simple life yet an incredibly difficult one to truly live. It is difficult to be content, especially in our society & culture. Forget what you have done and what you have learned for a moment and just live. Try to experience God. No doctrine or theology. Just prayer, Scripture, and honest fellowship with other believers.” The good thing about this existential crisis in my faith, or what is the birthing pains of a real faith, is that I’m in the perfect place to achieve spiritual renewal and transformation that plants faith in the heart as well as the mind.
Abbot Tryphon also said recently, “The Church is the hospital of the soul, but healing can only come if we put effort into it. If your doctor prescribes a medication for your condition but you fail to follow your doctor’s orders, you will not get well. The Church has all that you need for spiritual transformation, but healing only comes if you cooperate with the healing process.
The goal is holiness (wholeness) and is the direct result of our having submitted in all humility to a life of repentance. When you do this Christ changes you.”
As you can see, I’m a person trying to move from a theological intellectualism, if I can, to a new birthing of faith. Maybe a real faith some day. I’ve always been engaged with my mind, but it is the living from the heart that Orthodoxy teaches which gets me. There are many things happening in life right now for me, some of which I have spoken of and some of which I have not. I’ve been told there is a gift to this time of life. I’m waiting to see what it might be because I cannot see it as of now.
My relationship with Christ is at the turning point of repentance and beginnings of a true, full communion. As far as my faith goes, I must do as my friend says. It is hard to do with all the other crises happening all at once. It is easy to get into the darkness and not want to come out or to see a way out. However, I hope to stand once again in the light, to have a real faith, to have a stable life. I could use your prayers and encouragement, dear friends. Thanks for reading.
All this going on now are the birthing pains.
“You caused your light to shine
So brightly in my darkness
And summoned me back to you my Maker.” -St. Symeon the New Theologian