December 6, 2008

Arrogance/ Hubris/ Prelest: "Why I can't be Pente" - Part V

Arrogance/ Hubris/ Prelest
Closely associated with both Anthropocentric individualism and secularism, as well as Modernism, comes arrogance, hubris, and spiritual delusion (or prelest). This is most clearly seen when one examines Protestant Biblical scholarship.

When I was a student at Southern Nazarene University preparing to become a Protestant Minister, when I was taught how to study the Bible, we were not taught to consult sacred Tradition or the writings of the Fathers -- not even those fathers that knew the Apostles personally. We were told that the Church fathers were all allegorists, and that they really didn't have a clue as to what the Bible was really saying.

In fact, it became apparent to me that not even the Apostles followed Protestant principles of exegesis when interpreting the OT -- and indeed my liberal professors did not hesitate to point out when the Apostles had misinterpreted the OT. When I asked one of my professors if he thought that he understood the Bible better than the Apostles -- he without hesitation answered "Yes!"

More conservative Protestant scholars would explain this discrepancy between Apostolic exegesis and Protestant Exegesis by saying that the Apostles were inspired to find spiritual meaning in the OT that was beyond its actual meaning to the OT writers -- but that we must not interpret the OT like that because we are not so inspired.

The bottom line however, is that Protestant exegesis is clearly unbiblical, and those who advocate it must acknowledge, like my more honest professor did, that they do indeed think that they know the Bible better than those who wrote it.

More liberal Protestant scholars, such as Rudolph Bultmann claimed to know more about who Jesus was than Jesus himself knew. They claim to be able to distinguish what Jesus really said, from what he did not. In essence, 2,000 years after the fact -- they claim that only now has the Bible really been understood. The Early Church, the Fathers of the Ecumenical councils, etc. etc., they have all been fooled and deluded -- it took these clever modern Biblical scholars to unmask the Truth.
Humility, Repentance.
Because Orthodoxy is not individualistic, rather than the arrogance that goes with that individualism, in Orthodoxy we are taught to humbly listen to the teachings of the Fathers of the Church. We are taught not to think ourselves more holy or clever than the Fathers of the Church who have clearly shown themselves to be doers of the Word, and men of holiness -- and so when we read the Bible, we read it in accordance with the testimony of the Church rather than in the vanity of our individualistic minds.

As I said earlier, this is not a false humility, but is simply a realistic assessment of things. When there are 23,000 denominations that all claim to believe the Bible, but which cannot agree on what it is that the Bible says -- it is humility that is realistic, and arrogance that is fanciful. Obviously they cannot all be right, and so humility with regard to one's own interpretations of the Scriptures is the only reasonable approach to the subject.

This is not to say that all Orthodox Christians are truly humble, or that all Protestants are arrogant themselves and lack humility. I have known many Protestants who were themselves very humble, and I know that I myself am often very prideful. But having operated in both ways of thought, I can say experientially that the Orthodox approach to theology and spirituality is the path of humility and repentance.

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ነጻ ፓትርያርክ ምርጫ ቢሆን ኖሮ ማንን ይመርጡ ነበር? እንበልና ሁሉም ነገር ሥርዓቱን ጠብቆ የተከናወነ የእጩዎች ምርጫ ቢሆን ኖሮ፣ አሁን የምናነሣቸው ጉድለቶች ባይኖሩ ኖሮ፣ 6ኛው ፓትርያርክ እንዲሆን የምትመርጡት ማንን ነበር? (ማሳሰቢያ፦ አሁን ያለው ክፍፍል እና የመንግሥት ተጽዕኖ ባይኖር ኖሮ ተብሎ የሚመለስ ጥያቄ ነው። የምን “ባይኖር ኖሮ ነው” የሚል አስተያየት ካለዎትም እናከብራለን።)