Apologies for a lackluster beginning to this blog. I am still trying to figure out whether or not I have the time to devote to such an endeavor. Just so you all know I’m still around, I did want to post an interesting combox exchange about Saint Augustine and original sin at the Anastasis Dialogue:
The esteemed Pontificator, Father Alvin Kimel, said:
I found the discussion [about original sin on an Eastern Orthodox message board] ecumenically quite discouraging. I am amazed by the continuing polemical charge that the Catholic Church teaches a doctrine of original guilt, i.e., God holds everyone morally responsible for the sin of Adam. It doesn’t matter how many times Catholics protest the caricature, the polemic continues. It appears that the East has nothing to learn from Western theological reflection or spiritual experience.
Ben Mann from Denver replied:
What amazes and saddens me the most about that thread … and similar threads, ad nauseam … is the almost total neglect of Holy Scripture by all parties … Catholics and Orthodox often chide protestants for being ignorant of Sacred Tradition and of the Fathers, and thus having no unity; yet it appears to me that much of the division between eastern and western churches exists because we do not love our own Bible as much as the protestants do. Do we have the humility to temporarily leave off examining Patristic citations and points of history, and attempt to find our common ground in the Scriptures? I am not at all saying that we should start ignoring the Fathers and simply read the Bible. I do think, though, that Orthodox and Catholics become distressingly gridlocked when discussing their apparent disagreements because they are prioritizing Church Councils and Church Fathers over the Church’s own Bible — when in fact we all know that Scripture, Tradition, and Teaching Authority are not even separable. If we have disagreements about a controversial teacher like augustine, why not simply go back to the Scriptures that inspired him? If we think that the “other” tradition overemphasizes one view of sin or salvation, why not return to Scripture and see how it harmonizes several views? I truly think that just as protestants will only find unity by getting over their fear of Tradition and Teaching Authority, the Catholics and Orthodox will only find it by learning to love the Bible as much as the Fathers and Doctors of the Church did.
To which Father Kimel replied:
Ben, I agree with you. I would instance the ecumenical convergence on justification between Lutherans and Catholics as an example of what can happen when fellow believers sit down and prayerfully and patiently read the Scriptures together.
Going to the Scriptures … What a concept! I must confess that this is one of the last things that I do when I contemplate the difficulties and differences between East and West. And yet this is the very first thing that we ought to do, because it is precisely what the Fathers did.