As we slowly work our way through implementing and adapting the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, I find myself constantly looking to better understand the differences between the Orthodox and Roman Catholic faiths. Growing up a Reformed Protestant, I do understand the western mindset (and still struggle to overcome it!), but I knew very little truth concerning the Roman Catholic Church. To faithfully represent Orthodoxy in the Catechesis, I must first understand the faith in which it is rooted. It also means I am searching to better understand the teachings of the Orthodox Church. The result, I find that my google searches often look something like this: "catholicism and theosis", "orthodoxy and baptism", "catholic rite of baptism" etc. Now, before you take the title of this post to imply that I consider myself on the road to becoming an Orthodox theologian, let me assure you, that is the opposite of my message here. In my searching, I ran across an interesting statement concerning theology in the Orthodox church, one that I am sure we could all hold as a good reminder, any time we consider ourselves becoming "knowledgeable" about the faith.
"Orthodox theology is of an explicitly mystical character. Theology in the Eastern Orthodox church is what is derived from saints or mystics of the tradition, and Eastern Orthodox consider that 'no one who does not follow the path of union with God can be a theologian'. In Eastern Orthodoxy, theology is not treated as an academic pursuit, but it is based on revelation, meaning that Orthodox theology and its theologians are validated by ascetic pursuits, rather than academic degrees."
Once more I am reminded of how little I understand. Once again I am reminded of the danger of 'studying' the Orthodox faith, rather than living it. How easy it is to learn about the faith. How easy to impress others with a list of deeply spiritual books read, or well thought out arguments, or carefully written blog posts. What is the "proof" of Orthodox faith? Our life. How we live. How we act. What we say. What we do. How the light of Christ shines forth from us as from the saints. Our humility. How we dance with God.