Certain streams of Judaism and of Christianity call themselves ‘Orthodox.’ In using this term, they explicitly reject ‘liberal’ and ‘conservative’ as descriptions. Other Jewish and Christian streams do call themselves liberal, or conservative. What is the difference? In Judaism, it seems mainly though not exclusively the Hasidic Movement which is Orthodox. In Christianity, it is mainly the Eastern Tradition which is Orthodox= Greeks; Russians; Romanians; Bulgarians; Serbians; Slovaks; Eastern Ukrainians; Finns; Lebanese; Syrians; Palestinians; Egyptians; Persians; Ethiopians; Indians of Kerala; Japanese; Koreans; Africans, Alaskan Native Tribes. The Irish, Scottish, Welsh, Celtic Christians of the British Isles and Gaul, eliminated by the later coming Roman Catholics, had explicit links to the Orthodox Christians in the Eastern Mediterranean.
What does this term mean? Why was it chosen? Why were both ‘liberal’ and ‘conservative’ repudiated?
The term is more Eastern than Western, and has a distinct link to RTa in Hinduism and Dharma in Buddhism.
PART ONE= RIGHTNESS
How do you give shape to the Shapeless, the Formless, that which is Void? How do you give voice to the Voiceless, the Soundless, that which is Silence?
In its Greek meaning, Ortho-Doxia refers to right way, right worship, right teaching, right glorifying, but ‘right’ in this context is subtle, more akin to being in tune in music, or staying in rhythm whilst dancing. You walk a narrow ridge with chasms of error on either side. Thus there are always going to be two false paths in every human situation; the Third Way, which is truer, is harder to find. Thus Ortho-Doxia means– to be in the ‘right place’ vis a vis the divine mystery.
Ortho-Doxia refers to getting ‘on target’ from the very start, at inception, initially. You take up a way of standing on the narrow ridge that puts you in direct relationship with the illuminating presence of God, so that you can bathe in it, let it wash through you, and ‘taste that it is good’ by experiencing it for yourself.
The place of Ortho-Doxia is itself mysteriously ‘near’ to, open to, virtually wired into, the Source of All.
This is a mystery you do not know until you have lived it.
Many ancient peoples discovered this strange, and powerful, ‘locale’, and named it differently, but crucially, they knew when they were ‘in’ it, getting things from the Source directly, not by indirect means [thoughts, words, images, authorities, structures], and when they had fallen ‘out’ of it. In it= Paradisiacal; out of it= the Fall into Sin [West], the Fall into Ignorance [East], the Fall out of the Sacred Circle of kinship among all things [Shamanism]. The narrow ridge of the Third Way allows you to be in the moment, not fixed in a groove, not sheltered in any ‘ism.’
To remain in the moment requires spiritual wakefulness, watchfulness, mindfulness. The lamp needs oil to remain lit all through the night, lest the Bridegroom come at any unexpected moment..
Ortho-Doxia means to stand in a certain Way towards the Light.
The Light ‘brings to light’ everything it illumines, and thus it beautifies and fructifies all it falls on. In standing toward the Light in a certain Way we equally at the same time stand toward Life in that Way. The Light comes from the divinity ‘in itself’ of which we can say nothing; but the Light reaches down to us, to raise us up, into a relationship of love, a certain parity, face to face.
This Way has something special about it= illumined by the Light, immediately, without mediation. In other stances, like the liberal-maternal and the conservative-paternal, we can only talk ‘about’ the Light, at a distance; however well intentioned, these other stances are indirect and mediated. They are not standing in the Light. Thus they do not produce the figure of the Light-Bringer, or Light-Bestower [elder, guru, staretz, zaddik], the person who, though not the Light, nevertheless is a human conductor of the Light. This figure exemplifies what everyone can be= immersed in the Light, alive by the Light.
Ortho-Doxia respects roots, foundations, the ‘ancient springs.’ It is focused on Tradition as the over-arching reality holding together religious things= Bible, Ceremonies, Ethics, Teaching..
Ortho-Doxia is communal, not merely individual. The Light, by its nature, ‘shares’ divinity among the people. It invites them all, and it passes between them and dwells among them. It is held in common by all.
The Temple is where the Light becomes the common inheritance of all, not the exclusive preserve of a few advanced people.
The Light will lead us to the Fire. If the Light is God’s face, then the Fire is God’s heart. This is where we are going. From face to face to heart to heart.
Ortho-Doxia is a paradoxical place which combines opposites without becoming polarized between them.
A Hasid= “Jewish Orthodoxy is about knowing when, how, and to what extent, to give and to withhold, to allow and to restrict, to breathe out and to breathe in, to praise and to criticize, to shine and to rain..”
The narrow ridge is a Third Way beyond two false opposites, yet it combines these ‘necessary contraries’ dynamically, not synthesizing them so that each loses its distinctive contribution, but in a higher integration it balances them, bringing them together in such a way that both are fuller and truer than they would be if they were allowed to split apart. Routinely in human psychology, these opposites do split apart, polarize, and oppose each other as eternal antagonists.
One example where the narrow ridge is lost in human life is ‘the sex war’= masculine and feminine at odds, tearing each other to shreds, each promoting itself at the expense of the other; or masculine and feminine in dynamic combination where the real masculine emerges and the real feminine emerges, and neither blots out the other, nor do they simply meld into each other creating a mush. Both the masculine and feminine, in marriage, are needed to Express the Inexpressibility of God. That is Ortho-Doxia.
A more obvious example of the lost narrow ridge in politics is ‘the culture war’ of Liberal versus Conservative= ‘Allowing’ as ‘ism’ versus ‘Restricting’ as ‘ism’, each insisting on its own bias across the board, in every situation. Liberal is maternal, and easily becomes matriarchy which is matriarchal-idolatry. Conservative is paternal, and easily becomes patriarchy which is patriarchal-idolatry. If you are matriarchal, you put an idol between yourself and God; if you are patriarchal, you put an idol between yourself and God. The culture wars wherein Liberal/matriarchal battles Conservative/patriarchal go on and on, seemingly forever; yet neither opposite has anything to do with God, when divided from each other as an ideology on its own.
Another example= in Orthodox worship there is the paradoxical combination of closeness with God, friendliness, personalness, trust like a child with a loved parent, and respect for the otherness of God, awe towards the mystery of God, ‘humility in walking with God.’ The latter means we never get over familiar with God, we never presume on God, but the former means we never treat God as foreign, remote, alien, and flee from God. The Sacred Space of the Temple — set aside for the presence of God to ‘fill’ it – should never resemble a monarch’s court, a judge’s court-room, a lecturer’s lecture-hall. In all these cases, the pulpit replaces the altar, and thus the human presence behind the pulpit replaces the presence of God at the altar. Nor should the ethos of the space where God dwells be cold, official, proper, respectable. None of these stances are in any proximity to God. Such a space cannot be either inhibited or casual. It is, if in the presence of God, dignified yet not puffed up. In God’s presence you stand, because you are ‘not created for destruction.’ Yet sometimes you prostrate yourself on the ground in repenting. When the priest censes every person, this acknowledges they are the Image of God and have God in them.
Ortho-Doxia is a mysterious reality, and is not simply of human construction= it arises ‘between’ God and humanity, at God’s instigation, yet needing human cooperation.
PART TWO= TEMPTATION
But, the very ‘rightness’ of Orthodoxy is its demonic temptation, its weakness, its sin, its fall.. Such Rightness is very dangerous to those who espouse it. There are right ways and very wrong ways of walking in this Rightness.
The Rightness encourages a false sense of superiority, or just ‘all is well’ in our household, so that no self-critical — self-correcting — voice ever arises. No prophets to attack the priests, ministers, bishops, popes, patriarchs, and hosts of other ‘religious things’, is ever allowed.. Everyone is comfortable, too comfortable, that they are ‘right.’ This is a subtle yet necessary distinction= no one is Right. We are all having to shed our skins, in order to draw nearer to this Rightness, to get ‘right on’ the Rightness. We cannot presume on our being right on the Rightness. A lot of re-tuning is constantly needed.. To be self-congratulatory is self-delusion.
As soon as you congratulate yourself for walking the narrow ridge, and start looking down on other people not able to walk it, your footing is gone and you are already falling.
The wrong self-congratulation for being ‘right on the target’ leads to endless comparison of Jack and Jim– who is in, who is out; who is kosher, who is non-kosher; who is really Orthodox, who is really not Orthodox. There is a ‘right’ joy people take in being Orthodox. This is the inescapable sense of well-being that people tasting the Garden of Paradise will experience. It is good, and the goodness is not moral only, it is ontological, you can taste it with your whole being. But beware= it is in the very midst of our happiness at being wired to the Source that a subtle whisper tempts us to falsify it. The happiness is not for me; it is for me to pass to you. If I get too wrapped up in the happiness for me, I crow at you like a superior to an inferior, and then you want nothing of what has touched me. You do not see the goodness that was alive in me; all you see is the Lucifer arrogance of someone non-realistic to life’s difficulties, like someone high on a drug. The very religious skepticism of other people, faced with our Luciferian arrogance, ‘rightly’ dismisses us as false fountains of poison that we insist is nectar. No wonder we lose this world.. No one in their ‘right’ mind wants the high state in which we are trapped – without even knowing that is so.. They want nothing from us– and they are ‘right’ in turning away from us. We are ‘wrong’ in thinking the narcissism we peddle is ‘right.’
How to remain in the Right without making it ‘right’, and particularly, without making it ‘my’ right against ‘your’ wrong, is a hard yoke of discipline. It needs constant repenting to get rewired, as soon as you know from your inner being you are unplugged. In every second, there is the possibility on the narrow ridge of losing your balance and starting to fall, and regaining your balance even as you start to fall. Those more stable in this walking on the edge can help those less so. This is the role of the spiritual elder.
If the spiritual temptation of the West is the Satanic – Satan the pitiless Accuser – then the spiritual temptation of the East, Jewish and Christian the same as Hindu and Buddhist, is the Luciferian – Lucifer the deceiving Flatterer.
It is thus in the grip of Lucifer that the Eastern Orthodox Christians not only think their Way superior to what they regard as ‘heterodox’ and ‘heretical’ in other religious paths, but also recoil from any suggestion their Way is not perfect= it is unthinkable that Eastern Orthodox Christianity has design faults, or design limitations. The rest of Christianity is inherently flawed. Eastern Orthodoxy has no inherent flaws..
This is just the first of many fictions the Eastern Orthodox Christian Tradition generates in refusing to look at itself honestly.
PART THREE= HERESY
There were several respects in which the Greek Christians made their cultural Hellenism ‘more Jewish’ when they, as an entire people, accepted Christianity. Many modern Greek Orthodox Christian writers have explored and unpacked the conversion of Greek into Jew in this process of becoming Christian [John Zizoulas; Christos Yannaris; Costa Carras; James Bernstein]. This is undeniable. Attempts by Western commentators to suggest that Greek Christianity is simply Greek Hellenism in disguise are both ignorant and unfair. Western Christians ‘have previous form’ in regard to disrespecting the elder brother of the East. The Christian West has tended either to pretend Eastern Christianity does not exist, refusing to acknowledge its primacy; or, Western Christianity has sought through political machinations to attack and destroy the cultures and peoples honouring and maintaining the ancestral root of the earliest Christianity.
Any informed and just assessment of Eastern Christianity has to do with assessing both the need for, and dangers of, the roots digging down far into the earth and reaching back far into time which no vibrant religion can do without.
You can build on roots, and revise much as you go on [keeping the serviceable and letting quietly drop all the accumulated rubbish], discovering along the way further things that recast the roots, and even unexpectedly coming upon radically new things not revealed from the start.. This is the real Ortho-Doxia, and Costa Carras is right to call it ‘Radical Traditionalism.’ It is firm about foundations, yet at the very same time and only because of that, very open and very flexible about what is built on top of that floor.
But just throwing away roots, pretending you do not need them and can always ‘start again from year zero’ at any arbitrary moment, is disastrous. It undermines religion, culture, solidarity among peoples.
Duane Martin, chief of the Cante Tenze Warrior Society, once told me that the modern way of singing ancient Lakota songs takes a short cut, and lacks the power of the ‘right way’ of singing practiced in ‘olden times.’ He sang only a snatch of the same song in both ways, ancient and modern, and I could really hear the difference! It was subtle. It wasn’t that the modern way was bad, but the old way had an eerie strangeness and mysteriousness lacking in the modern version. The modern version was perfectly nice, and even might be described as more creative, adding some twiddle and twaddle, yet it just lacked gravitas, and what it lacked was vital to making the song live, zing, tremble, before the presence of God. Listening to the old song was a riveting and transforming experience; listening to the new song was pleasant, even edifying, but take it or leave it..
Ancient peoples will not just throw away venerable sacramental vessels full of living water in order to be ‘liberated’ in the modern manner. Liberated for what? Liberated to diminish the First Meaning, until all meaning is gone..
The true foundations of Christianity were laid down in the Christian East, and are parallel to Hasidic Judaism in being ‘Ortho-Dox’ in character, rather than conservative or liberal. There are two converse wrongs that betray the rooting which is Ortho-Dox.
 The anti-traditionalism of the West is wrong. The belief that the old ways are always narrow and stupid, and only the newest ways are broad and intelligent, is itself narrow and stupid= simply demonstrably ludicrous. As the song says, time has a way of demonstrating that ‘the fundamental things apply.’
 Yet equally wrong is the tendency in the East to pretend everything significant was resolved at the very start of the tradition, and this corpus was then quite quickly agreed to by everyone and everywhere. This means that the future cannot bring anything surprising, or revolutionary, necessary to unexpected reversals, giant strides, leaps into the dark, going forward; ‘what matters’ is held captive to the past, and this also means that the prophets of the future are ruled out in advance due to deference to the revered luminaries of the earlier era. This becomes a Christian version of ancestor worship, and for the Jews, it is ancestor idolatry.
Thus, the modernism which jettisons ancient springs, and the conservative traditionalism that aggressively and fearfully guards ancient springs, are both in ‘fundamental’ error= error about fundamentals.
Christ has clearly stated both that the roots are not to be lightly dismissed, and that it will be the Spirit who moves the caravan of humanity into the future, and only in the future will ‘all truth’ be revealed.
‘God saves the best for last.’
‘There is more to come.’
The past, early days= get into ‘right relation’ with the Light. Turn toward the Light, Face toward the Light, initially.
This is what the Christian East accomplished.
The future, ongoing days= take the risk necessary to be ignited by ‘the Fire that is coming.’
The Light is necessary, but the Light is not sufficient.
No Christianity, East or West, has been sparked into flame by following the Fire.
A halting following, a crippled following, a confused and half-hearted following..
A hesitant venturing has been made in this Fire-Bearing, but the ‘revered ancestors’ who were the early Light-Bringers cannot help beyond a certain point, nor can they guide step by step the fearful and wonderful ‘journey and battle’ which ‘leans forward into time.’ Christ had to depart, according to his own testimony, for the Spirit to come, the new Messianic Spirit, the Spirit of the New Age of Fire.
Thus, however beautiful and healing our initial orienting toward the Light of the Logos, ‘as time goes by’ a shift is demanded in stance, as we struggle to let the human heart be buffeted by ‘the Wind of change’ and scorched by ‘the Fire next time.’
The Spirit blows where he wills, and burns as he wills. There is nothing in any tradition, anywhere among anyone, that owns the Spirit, predicts the Spirit, over rules the Spirit, confines the Spirit, defines or otherwise pins down the Spirit. The whole of tradition, if it proves fruitless like the fig tree Christ cursed, could be blown away or burned to ashes by the Spirit at any instant of his choosing.
It is the Fire-Bearers who bring the future to bear upon the present, and even if they respect the Light-Bringers of the past, their faith is in ‘where it is all going’, and thus, their faith is in the going itself, because its motion, its spark, is ‘in the hands’ of the Spirit.
It is no longer in the hands of the Logos= it is since the Messiah departed in the hands of the Spirit.
Christians East and West have yet to grasp how radical, and radicalising, that new state of affairs really is.
The East= Logos in fullness, the Light shining without refraction and therefore near to humanity.
The West= Logos reduced to logic, the Light reflected and therefore at a distance from humanity.
Neither is the Messianic Spirit who takes over ‘the running of it all’ after Christ leaves the world.
The Spirit, operative in the beginning time for the sake of what will only come to pass in the future time, is God’s Passion, and he takes in his hands the human passion, to overturn and remake it, so as to cast it into the world as the dynamic factor, the wild card, overturning and remaking the world.
This starts off small, it is hidden, but like an underground stream, it will at a certain moment burst out like a raging river.
The ‘Greek Heresy’ of the Greek Christians rests in their over stressing the Light, and under stressing the Fire.
This also means over stressing the innocent Beginning, and under stressing the existential Middle and apocalyptic End of time in its relentless march toward redemption or hell for the world process.
There is something special, something uniquely blessed, about the Sacred Origin. This creates a terrible irony. The very beauty and luminosity of the Light in which we are immersed in the Beginning becomes what stops us from going forward with the Fire toward the new land of heart which must existentially risk catastrophic failure as much as unbelievable victory to persevere to the End.
The error of wanting to stay in the Light, and thus refusing the task of being sparked into flame by the Holy Fire, generates the Greek Heresy which wrongly insists upon a very anti-Jewish ‘impassibility’ in God and ‘dispassion’ in humanity. Only human passion, afflicted, forged, reversed, by the Holy Passion that implants Christ in us, can do the job for which it is called by the Messianic Mystery. Our task, in time, and in this world, is to carry on Christ’s redeeming work.
The unchallenged presupposition that any human being who desires to be ‘enlightened, sanctified, healed in soul and body’ by God must overcome all, and any, passion, only makes sense if we are to remain in the Sacred Beginning and not take the gamble of travelling and fighting toward the Holy End.
The Greek Heresy is not only calling us ‘upward’ to heaven, not ‘outward’ into the world; but it is also keeping us ‘nailed to the spot’ at the start of time= it remains rooted in the Paradisiacal Beginning when heaven has a symbolic and sacramental reflection on earth= though Paradise is lost, the Temple becomes the memory of Paradise.
This is Right– yet its very rightness is what is so potentially wrong. It is Good– yet its very goodness is what is so potentially a dereliction of duty.
The Beginning must be remembered, but not clung to as avoidance of the Middle and the End.
The Light must be anchored in, but its static virtues must not block going with the Fire whose dynamic exultations and agonies are wholly different.
The Jewish Way both goes ‘out’ into the world, not straight up to heaven, and it goes ‘forward’ into time, not remaining near the point of beautiful, luminous, sanctified, ‘first rising.’
Because this is binding for the Jews it is even more binding for Christians. Christianity should go out on a limb farther, and take a more extreme chance, in pressing ahead.
The Fire is not an augmentation of the Static Light; on the contrary, it is the converse= the Light only really radiates when it accompanies the Dynamic Fire on its perilous journey and fierce fight for the world.
The Light Christ brings is Jewish, in its hard travelling with the Fire. Yeshua the Mashiach insists on a Light of saving that works side by side with the Fire of redeeming.
It is when the Light and Logos of Eros is put in the place of, and used as a defense against, the Fire and Spirit of the Daemonic that the former becomes ‘the’ primal error= the error about what is first.
What comes first must not block what comes second and third, however much the first seems overturned, turned inside out, inverted, by what arrives in between and at the finish. It is going to be a rough ride..
In both the East and the West of Christianity, the Spirit is merely augmenting the Logos.
The Ruach, ‘the Spirit of the Father’, as Yeshua calls him, is understood neither in the East nor in the West of Christianity.
This is extreme in the West, so much so, the Trinity itself ceased to be three persons and one nature, but became reduced to the twosome of Father and Son, Godhead and Logos, with the Spirit simply the ‘relationship’ between Godhead and Logos= a theological after-thought. This is a total misunderstanding and denial of the Spirit who proceeds directly from God, not from Father and Son= re-routed, so to speak, through the Logos. Similarly diminishing of the ‘economia’ of the Spirit is the tendency among many Christians to reckon the Spirit has nothing more to do than help them read the words of the Logos in the Bible or in the Liturgy or in the Creed, so that the divine Light ‘between’ the lines, ‘inside’ the lines, ‘surrounding’ the lines, is not lost to the scheming and fabrication of the restricted light of the human mind. This illumining by the Spirit of what the Logos ‘really means’ is always needed, but it is by no means anything approaching an adequate understanding and enflamement by the Fire of God, either before or after the Messiah. It pretends there is no Daemonic, and seeks to ‘contain’ the Fire within Eros.
In the Christian East, the limiting of the role of the Spirit to augmenting the Logos is less crude but all the more serious in error for that. Eros is Love, and the Daemonic is Love= these are two different kinds of divine love, with vastly different impacts upon the world, the former salvational, the latter redemptive. The assimilation of the Fire of Love ‘back’ into the Light of Love denies, evades, escapes, the redemptive task, and de facto implies the salvational task suffices. Light is enough= Fire serves the Light, Fire intensifies the Light.
This is the most serious element in the Greek Heresy of Eastern Orthodox Christianity.
The heart disappears into the nous and soul= the passionate action of the heart disappears into the passionless contemplation of nous and soul. There is nothing for the heart to ‘do’, yet this is called ‘receiving the Spirit.’
It is not.
Eastern Orthodoxy even declares that the ‘aim of the Christian life’ is to receive the Holy Spirit= the tradition just does not understand who this Spirit is, and what he does, and this grants us permission to continue resisting our real kindling in Fire.
The Fire of God is restricted to only one role in its burning= extinguishing the fallen fire of human passion, so the human being can, via the nous and soul, become ‘flooded with Light.’ The Greek Heresy misses the whole point of why the Fire, always at work in the creation, comes to the human heart in a new way after the Messiah. It is not just to make the heart ‘warm’ when the Light uplifts soul and nous in prayer.
The Greek Heresy will always be evident in statements that are, in themselves, beautiful in regard to the Light, and thus are demonstrably ‘bathed’ in that Light, yet their very beauty is what conceals their error in regard to the Fire.
St Isaac of Syria= “What is knowledge? The experience of eternal life. And what is eternal life? The experience of all things in God. For love comes from meeting God. Knowledge united to God fulfils every desire. And for the heart that receives it, it is altogether sweetness overflowing onto the earth. Indeed, there is nothing like the sweetness of God.”
There is no Fire of Spirit in this knowledge desired by the soul because, though it may sweeten the heart, if the heart is too captivated by such sweetness, then it will be tempted to give up the manliness of its passion, and forget its real calling to this world.
In the Greek Heresy, God’s Fire is allowed to purify the heart, but not to ignite it.
Our human fire is ‘seized’ by the Fire of God to make its passion the Fire-Bearer.
The Fire comes not to purify the heart, but to purge the heart, so the heart can be ignited for its true calling, its real mission, in the world..
Our heart cannot remain in the sacred place, and from that stationary spot, ‘flame up to heaven.’
The human passion is cast into all manner of tests and trials, tumults and troubles, in its arduous Fire-Bearing. It is checked out by the adversity of the world, sifted by the Evil Spirit, searched out by the Spirit of Fire. Yahweh will not spare us going through the waters, Yahweh will not spare us going through the fires. We go through, not around, not above; we ride the Waves of Wind and Fire of the Messianic Spirit.
Of this existence brought by the Coming Fire, the monastics know nothing because, in the name of religion, even spirituality, they reject its Supreme Love, preferring not to risk losing it, by staying with the Love at the Beginning.
In the Light= friendship with God, face to face.
In the Fire= intimacy with God, heart to heart.
The Greek Heresy= to stand pat on the face, but refuse the Jewish existential roll of the dice with the heart.
Heaven come to earth, in the soul.
Heaven come to hell, in the heart.
For the sake of the world.
The Greek Heresy built in to the foundation of Eastern Orthodox Christianity is a certain ‘way’ of interpreting Ortho-Doxia that renders it, not the Beginning that leads on to the End, but the Beginning that resists moving toward the End.
This interpretation is haughty= it fails to acknowledge the limitation on Ortho-Doxia, what it can do and what it cannot do. From Greek haughtiness, what Ortho-Doxia can do is falsified as all that ever needs to be done; what it can do, therefore, blots out what it cannot do.
This introduces a whole series of devastating biases.
This slant on Ortho-Doxia betrays the Light that leads on to the Fire, making it the Light that resists the kindling of the Fire. Ortho-Doxia becomes, the Way Upward to Heaven, bypassing Hell, because Christ has already overcome ‘sin, death, the separation of uncreated and created’, instead of the Way Forward, passing through Hell, because we go where Christ went and do what Christ did by joining to him through the Spirit.
The Greek Orthodox emphasis on Communion with Christ is right, but it is understood wrongly by the Greek Fathers, for instead of the Cup leading on to the Cross, the Cup becomes, in its wine of Christ’s blood spilled for us, and in its bread of Christ’s body broken for us, sufficient communion with Christ. It is as if partaking of, joining with, participating in, the Last Supper with Christ absolves us from our own Cross, Descent into Hell, Resurrection, with Christ.
Thus, Eastern Orthodox Christianity lapses from insisting on the right foundation into preserving that foundation in aspic against what needs to come after it, built on top of it yet not confined by it.
This generates the 4 fictitious ‘foundation myths’ of Eastern Orthodoxy.
 Eastern Orthodoxy tends to claim it has preserved, from the earliest times, the complete — and therefore the completed — truth of Christ. There is nothing further of any significance to be revealed.
This is not true to Christ and the Spirit.
 Witness to this truth is therefore established and settled at the very start when it was first revealed. There is no further truth only revealed through the very different witness of a long journey and hard battle that is lengthy in time.
This is not true to Christ and the Spirit.
 It is also claimed that this whole and therefore finished truth was accepted everywhere by everyone.
This is not true to Christ and the Spirit.
 People who come early in the tradition, the founders, are given an exaggerated authority, while potential innovators, reformers, revolutionaries, or simply those inspired by God with something radically new that God with-held initially, are dismissed as heterodox [less than Orthodox], or rejected as heretical [un-Orthodox]. The ‘tradition of the elders’, as Father Alexander Men termed it, is restrictive.
This is not true to Christ and the Spirit.
These four stances are manifestations of the primal heresy of Greek Christianity. This error eliminates the risk God took in creating humanity, and therefore avoids Jewish existentialism; it puts in the place of ‘the dynamic story of the dangerous tests and anguished travails of heart’ the Greek preference for static metaphysical ontology and quietism in religious practice.
Each of these four claims, and all of them taken together, constitute serious heresy= real falsehood.
Neither Christ, nor our witness to him, was disclosed and established in fullness, and hence in a finished way, right at the outset; nor was this supposed ‘common inheritance’ accepted everywhere by everyone. Consequently, revelation did not cease in the past with the founders; there are prophets to come in later times who will reveal significant things missing from the early days.
There had always been more to come, and consequently there had always been a need for much time, passing from Beginning through Middle to End, to truly complete the Messianic Revelation.
The Greek Heresy that creeps into Ortho-Doxia generates conservatism, which generates liberalism. The primary error, in this way, ripples outward, like a stone dropped into water.
The Greek Heresy excises the Jewish ‘existential’ understanding and doing from church and monastery. Thus, the Christian East starts in a wrong ‘omission’ of action, in its mysticism and sanctification, and then reacting to that, the Christian West proceeds into a wrong ‘commission’ of action, in its moralism and rationalism.
The Greek Orthodoxy false to Ortho-Doxia over-estimates ‘seeing’ God in the Beginning and under-estimates ‘doing’ what God asks us to do, in the cause of God, in time and for the world, in leaving the Beginning, and passing through the Middle to reach the End.
If you rely on seeing rather than doing, then you reject passion so it will not disturb the peace, within or without. In rejecting ‘any and all passion’, you jettison the very muscle needed to bear and endure, and carry through, to the End.
Passion only understands what is at stake in the world over time by being staked to the world over time.
The Fall is a stumbling within passion, and thus requires as remedy not any kind of ‘non passibility’, but a restored passibility, a passibility both scarred and singed by existence’s paradox and tragedy.
PART FOUR= LIMITATION
The bigger, and truer, Eastern Christian Tradition not falsifying Ortho-Doxia acknowledges that the Holy Spirit has only spoken when all Christians agree, across vital differences and disparities, of place and time, of culture, psychology, temperament.. This has not happened. Until it does happen, every stream of Christianity is incomplete, nothing like as whole as it believes..
As a foundation, only a foundation, not the finished house, there needs to be a ‘first consensus.’ This is agreement on the mysterious, and sacred, way to stand before God with one’s fellow humans. Such is Ortho-Doxia.
But it leaves many problems about the Christian Way unresolved, because the solutions to these problems were not given to the disciples by Christ. He withheld significant things, because they come later. He told the first apostolic witnesses gathered round him that he was not giving them the complete truth, because they could not ‘bear’ it.
In the hiatus spanning the gap from Beginning to End, real disagreements of integrity must be accepted by different persons within one tradition, and between different traditions; the disagreeing persons, the disagreeing traditions, have to ‘put up with one another’ given the absence of any authentic consensus they and the others can embrace. We must ‘agree to differ’, until a fuller truth, life, practice, is revealed which we can all, with total inner affirmation, accept. We need to not just tolerate each other, by avoiding each other, or attack each other over our respective flags of identity [my flag is better than your flag], but we must be in contention with one another in honest truthfulness..
A foundation is not the finished house we are building, all together, over all the ages, past, present, future. It is only the basis for building. It cannot be treated as a proscription against any new building.
The Truth is always being added to, because God cannot reveal everything early on. There are key things God holds back from the first witnesses to the Truth= people cannot take the Truth in full initially, but need much time, and a very slow evolution of consciousness, to grow into the fullness.
The deepest things come last, not first. The greatest things come last, not first.
The Messianic Temple is only elliptically described by David in the Psalms.
The Jewish Temple is focused more on Salvation, not Redemption, because it awaits the Messiah.
The Christian Temple, by contrast, witnesses that the Messiah has come.
How does this change the Christian Temple?
It still deals in Salvation; people need that. But, if it focuses too much on Salvation, then it will, ‘wittingly or unwittingly’, ignore Redemption.
Light and Salvation, focused on soul and body, is repeatedly referred to in the Greek Orthodox Liturgy, but Fire and Redemption, focused on heart and passion [the heart’s ‘spirit’], are hardly mentioned.
This might, in itself, cast doubt on the Liturgy’s faithfulness to the Messianic Revelation, yet the reality is more paradoxical than that.
The Greek Orthodox Christians modelled the Christian Temple on the First Temple of Solomon, at the very time when, by design or accident, the Jews were abandoning any Temple, and embarking upon the 2000 years of Rabbinical Judaism. God had instructed the Jews exactly how the First Temple was to be decorated. It was not at all ‘bare’, rather, it was full of colour, form, song, and all these things were a transparent stained glass lit up from within by ‘the true Light’ radiating outward through their porous membrane. Moreover, in Judaism, the Scriptures were never simply read aloud in a didactic manner, but were always sung, chanted, recited musically. Such prayerful and mind-ful music draws on indigenous folk sources, it is never ‘pop or classical.’
However, the Jewish First Temple provides a framework for, and is not identical with, the Christian Temple which ‘contains’ a different and new mystery= the Messianic Reality that has come, and come in poverty, not in glory. Solomon’s Temple is built round God’s presence, which includes the divine glory, among many marvellous ‘rays’ of the divine qualities irradiating the sacred space= “You are blessed in the Temple of your glory” [Daniel, 3, 53]. But there is no divine impoverishing for humanity’s sake in this earlier coming of God to the Temple. That is the inversion which happens in the Christian Temple, making Jewish Ortho-Doxia and Christian Ortho-Doxia similar yet different, continuous and discontinuous.
This means that in the Christian Temple, the boundary framing its ceremony is ‘old’ Jewish, pre Messianic, whilst the core enlivening and driving it is ‘new’ Jewish, post Messianic.
The Messianic Liturgy of the Christian Temple is rooted in Christ’s Last Supper. It is at this ‘pause’ in time, before he was catapulted into the dramatic ‘moment of truth’ of the crucifixion, that Yeshua ‘takes the time’ to ask his followers, and all future generations of his followers, to ‘remember’ him by changing the Jewish ‘Passover meal’ in a Christian direction. The Cup would no longer just contain Eros= the wine of exalted ecstasy and the bread of daily life. The Daemonic would enter the Cup= the wine becoming the Messiah’s blood spilled for humanity’s Redemption, the bread the Messiah’s body broken for humanity’s Redemption.
The very ‘soul [wine] and body [bread] of healing’, always implying Salvation, is turned upside down and inside out, the blood having to be shed, the body having to be torn, for the Cup to become our ‘communion’ in Christ’s sacrificial action of Redemption.
Christ asked that we remember his Cross, Descent into Hell, and Resurrection in the drinking and eating of the Cup of his shed blood and his broken body in the Liturgy.
This request made at The Last Supper by Yeshua precisely asks Christians not to fixate on Salvation, not to fixate on Light, not to fixate on the Temple as if Communion there absolves them from Communion with Christ existentially in the world.
Christ is precisely asking Christians, if they are really his followers, to Communion in the Cup so as to remind them, so that they will remember, that the ‘real’ Communion is with Christ’s Cross in Golgotha, the most God-forsaken place in all the world. Golgotha is outside the city walls, a hill over-looking Gehenna. It is the worst place in the human venture, the place where it ends in Hell.
Christ is requesting his followers, by taking Communion in the Liturgy of the Temple, to remember Christ’s existential deed in the place where the world ends in Hell. He wants them to realise that taking Communion commits Christians to going there. It readies them for going there to be with Christ in his dying and his rebirth.
Yes, there are Salvational elements in Communion. But these are not the goal, not the aim, and therefore Salvation is not an end in itself. In the Communion Cup, Salvation paradoxically becomes the ‘bridge’ into Redemption.
Consequently, as Christ was making plain at the Last Supper, we cannot have Communion with the joy, goodness, life, of divinity, full stop, because that very communing through the Cup in the Liturgy gives us away to, and strengthens us for, the Communion with the suffering, poverty, humiliation, of divinity in the Messiah.
It might be said that since Christ went from Cross to Resurrection, all we need commune with is his victory. He did it for us, so we can celebrate with his triumph, participating in it without embracing the defeat deep down at the base of the human condition. This is not possible. St Paul understood, from his own encounter with the Risen Messiah, that to join ‘with’ Christ, to partake ‘of’ Christ, to participate ‘in’ Christ – the very point of drinking and eating from the Cup in the Liturgy – means both being crucified as Christ was crucified and being resurrected as Christ was resurrected. The rejoicing of Resurrection is not obtainable without the terrible agony of the Cross.
By joining Christ on the Cross, we join humanity in the common tragedy. We have to join our own tragedy in order to join the tragedy of humanity. Avoid the tragedy in yourself and in other people, and you will leave the Hell in you and in other people ‘undisturbed.’ That is anti-Messianic. The Messiah ‘stirs up Hell’ to redeem it.
This is why losing the Light at some point – as happened to Silouan, but never happened to his student Sophrony — is necessary= in order to confront the darkness of Hell within us and understand its unbreakable link to the darkness of Hell without us in the world. This crisis is key to the New Road of the Messianic Spirit.
If a Christian refuses to let the Cup in the Temple be the transition from the Last Supper to the Cross in Golgotha, then Communion in the Liturgy might not just avail us nothing, but could even be ‘for condemnation.’
The ‘royal priesthood’ is not a way of adding the greater dignity of the king to the lesser dignity of the priest. This is not a priest-king. On the contrary, this is a king-priest. It is only the king on the Cross. The Cross reaches into the Temple, and makes the priestly offering serve, represent, prepare for, the kingly sacrifice. Thus, the king still outranks any priest. The so-called royal priesthood is the priest being subjected to the service of the king, it is the Temple being subjected to the service of the Cross.
The king-prophet, as in David [not prophet-king, as in Plato], similarly yokes the prophet to the service of the king, yokes the Wilderness to the service of the Cross.
We cannot disappear into the Wilderness to avoid Golgotha.
We cannot use the Temple as escape from Golgotha.
We cannot use the Salvational theme of ‘Christ regenerating our human nature’ through his divine-humanity to blot out, and cover over, the darkness and Hell in each and all of us, for Christ’s divine-humanity acted in that abysmal defeat and tragedy of humanity, to change it Redemptively. The Spirit helped him to undergo and to come through.
The Spirit’s activity is not confined within the city walls, confined to the polis, confined to the natural ongoing of communal life.
The Spirit’s activity goes outside the communing of people with one another and with God to go to Golgotha and plunge into Hell.
Thus, the Spirit’s activity does not just produce joy, peace, and enlightenment.
The Spirit’s activity provokes what you experience in the whole of Passion Week= drama, angst, intensity, confrontation, betrayal, horror.
The Spirit’s activity produces what you go through in Christ’s agony= he sweated blood, his fire of passion, his spirit, was sorely afflicted, yet in the Spirit, it went through.
He accomplished the impossible deed. We cannot commune in its fruits without passing through the very struggle of change that made those fruits available.
For this reason, the Liturgy always celebrates not just the Resurrection, but also the Cross and Descent into Hell that makes it possible.
The Temple that is Messianic contains a paradox= the Light that leads on to the Fire, the Cup that leads on to the Cross.
Thus if you try to confine yourself to the Light, confine yourself to the Cup, denying Fire and Cross, you actually falsify that Temple.
What is missing in Ortho-Doxia is not ‘wrong.’
Ortho-Doxia remains right, but it is only right when it admits that its rightness is incomplete, and what is missing is what must come in the future, as a consequence of Christ’s deed, through the Spirit, being passed to all of humanity, down all of time, in all the world.
It is when people abuse Ortho-Doxia and insist it is necessary and sufficient, nothing is missing, that it falls into the Greek Heresy, and merely becomes ‘religious custom’, mere ‘orthodoxy.’ It rapidly descends from this into out and out stagnation= keeping to ‘convention’, upholding the ‘norm’, blindly passing on to your children what was blindly passed to you by your parents, and treating this ancestrally validated inheritance as a refuge from having to be stirred up about the existential ledge we are all precariously standing on, and might fall from, finally.
Such a reduced orthodoxy — lacking the genuine, and humbler, Ortho-Doxia — inevitably becomes moribund.
The Cross is not taken on fully, not plumbed fully, not tried out adequately, in West or East.
The West becomes too moralistic and rationalistic, and the East becomes too metaphysical and ontological= what is left out is the existential realism of the Cross.
This step has not been taken by any Christian tradition, East or West.
Peter says that Christ, in Hell, declared to the evil spirits there that their time was up, their power had been broken.
We are changed in the depth by Christ to change the depth in the world for Christ.
We are changed in the depth by joining with Christ’s descent into, and passing through, Hell. This is not figurative, it is actual.
It happens existentially through passion= our passion joined to Christ’s passion.