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Friday, January 20, 2012

Healing Outside the Church?

I spent this week at a Roman Catholic retreat center our Diocese rented for a clergy meeting.  The nuns there were wonderful to us, and it was very clear that they are Godly women earnestly seeking after the Lord Jesus Christ.

Some Orthodox maintain that there is no God, no life, no hope outside the Orthodox Church.  They would say these women are bound for eternal damnation because they are heretics.  This same thinking also condemns Orthodox participation in AA and other 12-Step groups.

This is something I posted on the forum on this topic:

Theosis is the transformation we have when we encounter God.  We cannot encounter God without being transformed by Him.

God is a Person, and so this encounter with God is an encounter with His Person: the Uncreated energy of God, the Body and Blood of His Son, etc.

He is also The Truth, which we begin to approach through truth.  Therefore, wherever truth is found, then we begin to approach God.  Truth changes us, it makes us better.  'Healthy people' are people who spend the most time in the truth.  They do not believe in false images of themselves (therefore they are humble and kind, etc.) nor do they live in emotional chaos driven by fear.

Therefore, all people to some extent experience Theosis as they seek spiritual truth and find it.  They encounter the True God in small glimpses, and they are changed as a result.  Those faiths closer to the Orthodox Faith (Orthodox being a replacement adjective for 'True') are naturally going to bring adherents more of these transformative opportunities.

In a AA, just like the nuns in the convent, we encounter God as we encounter the truth about ourselves and earnestly seek after Him.  God is not going to punish us just because we get it wrong, though getting it wrong prevents us from fully experiencing Him.

As for myself, I know that I do not perfectly practice what I preach and believe, and in my failing I deny myself the opportunities to grow that others, with more limited opportunities, take better advantage of.  These nuns might very well be closer to God than I will ever be, if only for the fact that they take better advantage of the opportunities they have, whereas I do not.

We should not judge others, but look for the fruit.

I knew an Orthodox man who refused to go to AA because it is 'not Orthodox.'  The AA member speaking with him said, 'Yes, but they don't drink and you do.'  Eventually he got the message and his transformation has been miraculous.

We must take advantage of the truth wherever we find it.

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