Letters to the Editor
Woe to Woe to Halloween
I enjoyed the Halloween article but didn't care for the author's tone. I think you catch more flies with honey. A principled, rational, well thought out argument is usually more effective than attacking clergy. The article was biased and provided no balance on the issue, and provided no positive recommendations or solutions, other than "Stop being a hypocrite, American-borns understand better" and perhaps something minor at the very end. Maybe I read the message wrong, but that's what came across to me.
Sorry I'm not trying to be overly critical and I understand different writers have different styles. But you had mentioned being in the style of The Economist. So let the facts and analysis speak for themselves. Let the issues be controversial, not how they're presented. If there's an open, honest analysis of the facts, pointing out strengths and weaknesses of both sides, I think I'd have enjoyed the article a bit more. If the final conclusion after a good analysis is that the Church needs to change, then it can stand on its own two feet, rather than it be tainted with a condescending tone.
Again, this is none of my business and you can run your magazine the way you want. I'm not sure who your intended audience is or target age group is. For me, call me old fashioned, but I don't take well to inflammatory words like "hypocrite" targeted at clergy, especially when you could probably get the point across without that. I think I enjoy most to leave an article understanding both sides of the issue, where the friction points are, and a couple of the author's recommendations to reconcile the matter. But that's just me.
I've probably gone on too long, and I hope I wasn't offensive. I continue to enjoy reading and look forward to the next issue.
Although I may not agree with it, I understand & appreciate the tag-line change.
I'd like to run by you just a quick thought on theosis and whether it is indeed synonymous with perfection.
The word perfection rings in my ear with the resonance of a state, of me becoming perfect, whereas theosis sounds like (and means) something more like a process.
The difference may not be big, but it's relevant. Nobody seems to understand it but the core of the argument between the supporters of the current Coptic Orthodox Church Patriarchate and those of Fr. Matta & Prof. George Habib Bebawy is not what the "perfection" state should be called, but how it comes to be.
We may differ on terminology regarding the state Christians will reach in God, but we agree in general it's this general state of goodness, perfection and flawlessness. The people defending theosis would say it's much more than that, but at least they agree it is that as well. And this is hardly the issue, anyway. If we talk about the getting there however,this is when my personalinterest rises and where the conflict should too.
The term theosis, according to my limited understanding, refers to a process, initiated and maintained by the Godhead, where we receive -yes, right here we'll face the first conflict - God in us. Through this process, we reach this state of perfection which you named 'our goal'.
But we may ignore the difficulty in accepting the idea of receiving God or the other difficulty in accepting Baptism and the Eucharist if these do not include receiving God himself and no less. If we ignore those difficulties,we will face another obvious difficulty.
You see, according to this teaching,this process is what gives us salvation. We will need faith (and yes of course, mirrored in our works to avoid protests)to receive God, which is our role in the process. But it is the process itself that saves and redeems us...nothing else, not directly at least. So faith will not save us, let alone works, if it weren't for this process we call theosis.
In a more practical sense, this also means that it is this process that gives us our victory and immunity towards sin and the death it brings. This translates into the concept of immortality. This is in contrast to the generally taught idea that salvation is a general bill paid already, and that our victory is another thing to be achieved throughsome practical,mental and spiritual disciplines plus some rituals.
The difference may be further reducedto how the Patriarchate's current teaching is gradually leaning more towards human methods, in the sense of "what you have to do",while the methods advocated by the other camp are God's, in the sense of "what God's job is".
Please note that when Christianity was first bringing the good news, it put God's work first: Christ has risen and the Spirit of God descended upon us. That in itself is the Redemptive religion! It then talks about how we can share this victory.
In most other religions, what we have to do is the object of discussion; it is an age-old question that we also heard in the rich young man's words to Jesus: "What must I do to gain eternal life?". And these words correctly mirror our anxiety. And Christ's reply was fair. He told him what he had to do, although Christ knew the man won't do it. What Christ later on did himself is what made people later on give away all their belongings and more. What changed in men to be able to do this?
What the teaching of theosis tells us is that men themselves changed, God poured himself into them (this isthe how, the process or the means).Then they had fountains flowing from inside, and so would need nothing from the fallen world any more. So they were made perfect (this is what... the state or the outcome)
This is only one aspect of theosis, but it is enough to show why the tenor ofthe word perfection does not do theosis justice. It is an inadequate replacement and it is sad that it should have to be made.
My kindest regards,