Monday, July 14, 2008

God, East and West

Matthew Gallatin has an outstanding series of podcasts with the not always applicable title of "Sola Scriptura And Philosophical Christianity." Part Six of this series is especially excellent. In it, Gallatin, as an Orthodox believer and a philospher, gives his own "diagnosis" of how the Western view of God diverged from the Eastern one. He says it goes back to St. Augustine's thinking about God in overly Platonic terms. For Plato, the "One" (God) was "the Good". What was this ultimate, perfect Good? It was perfect order, specifically perfect moral order. In St. Augustine's marriage of Plato to Christ, God creates mankind because man, like rocks or rivers, is needed to fill a specific niche in His perfect order of things. When man sins, he upsets the perfect moral order which Plato conceives as the ultimate Good. God's concern, in response, is to restore the perfection of His creation. That indeed involves saving some men, but their salvation is secondary to the main objective of healing the wound inflicted upon God by our having messed up His creation.

All this, of course, is very different from the Orthodox understanding, in which the ultimate Good, the perfect holiness, is perfect love. For us, the God of perfect, selfless, self-denying, self-forgetting Love created us because of this overflowing love, so that we could participate in the very life of the Holy Trinity. In Orthodoxy, when man sins, God's immediate objective becomes to restore man. He never turns away from us; never seeks anything for Himself.

Matthew Gallatin fleshes all this out very clearly and succintly, far better than I am describing it, supplying the appropriate Scriptural quotations, too.

Please, please, take 10-12 minutes to listen to it. It's terribly important!



DebD said...

I love the new look and thanks for the recommendation.

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

Thanks, Deb. I'm still "pussy-footing around" with it.

Wondering whether that kitten staring right at you will distract from the blog's content...

But for now, I can't resist!