A Kingdom of Sons and Daughters

God the Father

“The talismanic word of the Alexandrian fathers, as of the New Testament, was Father. This word, as now, unlocked all mysteries, solved all problems, and explained all the enigmas of time and eternity. Holding God as Father, punishment was held to be remedial, and therefore restorative, and final recovery from sin universal. It was only when the Father was lost sight of in the judge and tyrant, under the baneful reign of Augustinianism, the Deity was hated, and that Catholics transferred to Mary, and later, Protestants gave to Jesus that supreme love that is due alone to the Universal Father. For centuries in Christendom after the Alexandrine form of Christianity had waned, the Fatherhood of God was a lost truth, and most of the worst errors of the modern creeds are due to that single fact, more than to all other causes.”

Universalism: The Prevailing Doctrine of the Christian Church During Its First Five Hundred Years, John Wesley Hanson, kindle location 374

 

Why did Catholics turn to Mary worship?
It was because they lost sight of God as their beloved Father and viewed Him merely as their Judge, while Jesus became lost in the priestly hierarchy and repetition of rituals. For many it seemed that only Mary was left to offer unconditional love.

→ Why did Protestants forget the Father and focus solely on Jesus?
It was because they embraced a theology of atonement that separated Jesus from the Father, turning Jesus into the sacrifice that saved us from God. For many Protestants the unspoken doctrine is that the Father always stands as a potential enemy.

 

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, GOD WAS IN CHRIST reconciling the world to HIMSELF, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. -2 Corinthians 5:17-19

For God has consigned ALL to disobedience, THAT HE MAY HAVE MERCY ON ALL. Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?” “Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?” For from him and through him and to him are ALL THINGS. To him be glory forever. Amen. -Romans 11:32-36

The Inner Kingdom

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matt. 5:8). Made in God’s image, man is a mirror of the divine. He knows God by knowing himself: entering within himself, he sees God reflected in the purity of his own heart. The doctrine of man’s creation according to the image means that within each person—within his or her truest and innermost self, often termed the “deep heart” or “ground of the soul”—there is a point of direct meeting and union with the Uncreated. “The kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:21).

This quest for the inward kingdom is one of the master themes found throughout the writings of the Fathers. “The greatest of all lessons”, says St Clement of Alexandria, “is to know oneself; for if someone knows himself, he will know God; and if he knows God, he will become like God.” St Basil the Great writes: “When the intellect is no longer dissipated among external things or dispersed across the world through the senses, it returns to itself; and by means of itself it ascends to the thought of God.” “He who knows himself knows everything”, says St Isaac the Syrian; and elsewhere he writes: Be at peace with your own soul; then heaven and earth will be at peace with you. Enter eagerly into the treasure house that is within you, and so you will see the things that are in heaven; for there is but one single entry to them both. The ladder that leads to the kingdom is hidden within your soul. Flee from sin, dive into yourself, and in your soul you will discover the stairs by which to ascend.

And to these passages we may add the testimony of a Western witness in our own day, Thomas Merton: At the center of our being is a point of nothingness which is untouched by sin and by illusion, a point of pure truth, a point or spark which belongs entirely to God, which is never at our disposal, from which God disposes of our lives, which is inaccessible to the fantasies of our own mind or the brutalities of our own will. This little point of nothingness and of absolute poverty is the pure glory of God in us. It is so to speak his name written in us, as our poverty, as our indigence, as our dependence, as our sonship. It is like a pure diamond, blazing with the invisible light of heaven. It is in everybody, and if we could see it we would see these billions of points of light coming together in the face and blaze of a sun that would make all the darkness and cruelty of life vanish completely…The gate of heaven is everywhere.

Flee from sin, St Isaac insists; and these three words should be particularly noted. If we are to see God’s face reflected within us, the mirror needs to be cleaned. Without repentance there can be no self-knowledge and no discovery of the inward kingdom. When I am told, “Return into yourself: know yourself”, it is necessary to inquire: Which “self” am I to discover? What is my true self? Psychoanalysis discloses to us one type of “self”; all too often, however, it guides us, not to the “ladder that leads to the kingdom”, but to the staircase that goes down to a dank and snake-infested cellar. “Know yourself” means “know yourself as God-sourced, God-rooted; know yourself in God”. From the viewpoint of the Orthodox spiritual tradition it should be emphasized that we shall not discover this, our true self “according to the image”, except through a death to our false and fallen self. “He who loses his life for my sake shall find it” (Matt. 16:25): only the one who sees his false self for what it is and rejects it, will be able to discern his true self, the self that God sees. Underlining this distinction between the false self and the true, St Varsanuphius enjoins: “Forget yourself and know yourself.”

The Orthodox Way, Kallistos Ware, kindle location 900


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