Sunday, December 09, 2007

ORTHODOX PRAYER LIFE-the interior way II "Introduction to the Second Edition Part 1"

It has been awhile since I have posted on the books I am reading so I thought it would be nice for a change of pace from what has occupied me of late.


The Introduction opens with Matta El-Maskan's observation that the world thirsts for a living faith in Christ. So many books tell about Christ but so few people live and speak Christ.

He makes a strong appeal to contrast between principles of faith which are extraneous to ourselves and therefore theory and he presses that we are meant to meet Him face to face within ourselves that we may be freed from the slavery of principles and wed to Him the Person.

He continues that to come to know Him, we must undergo a process of change and this change will strip us naked before Him and we will see ourselves truly as we see ourselves in relation to Him.
The world now thirsts to see living faith in the person of Jesus Christ; not simply
to hear about it, but to live it. So many books tell about Christ; so many
preachers speak about Christ; but so few people live and speak with

The Church cannot live on principles of
faith to be studied. Faith in Christ is not a theory. It is a power that changes
lives. Everyone in Christ should have this power. One must be able to change
one's own life and renew it through the power of Christ.

But our faith in Christ will ever remain
powerless until we meet him face to face within ourselves. In all patience,
long-suffering, and courage, we must bear the shame that will cover us when our
souls are stripped naked before God's pure and searching eyes. It is only then
that we will emerge with an authentic spiritual experience and renewal for our
souls. We will then gain a true knowledge and awareness of the holiness and
kindness of Christ.
But he is careful to write that the facts of faith, theology and doctrine cannot be shaped subjectively but are fixed within God Himself and therefore do not and cannot change.

The inward life breathes the breath of life to these facts of the faith to establish the one who meets Christ within himself. And the one who lives Christ is the revealer of Christ; of He Himself Who is not principles or facts but is Person.

His revealing Himself to His Saints and being seen in them is a powerful witness to the truth of the Gospel. But, this experience of the Saints, though giving light to point to Christ, is not our experience until we follow their deeds and instructions to guide ourselves towards Him to experience their experience which Experience is He Himself.
Every meeting with Christ is a prayer of
renewal. Every prayer is an experience of faith. Every experience of faith is
eternal life. But that does not mean that the facts of faith, doctrine, or
theology can be shaped or changed according to man's inward experience. The
facts of faith are as firmly established as is God himself. However, our
experience only intensifies their clarity and throws them into sharper relief,
for God is truly revealed in his saints. Thus we know God, and always will know
him only in proportion to the experience of his saints, those who fear him
throughout the ages.

There is still another fact we cannot
ignore. Although the saints' experiences of faith shed its light on the way of
knowledge before us, it can by no means supply us with living faith without a
special witness springing from the depths of our own experiences and lives.
Christ must belong to each of us as he belongs to every saint, since he died for
each of us individually.

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