James chapter 3

May 15, 2009

Given some things I wrote today to Photios Jones on another post on this blog, I realize now, to my sorrow, that this is another text upon which I need to meditate, for my own good.

My brethren, be not many masters [i.e., don’t all of you try to be teachers], knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation. For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body. Behold, we put bits in the horses’ mouths, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body. Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, whithersoever the governor listeth. Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell. For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind: But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be. Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter? Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries? either a vine, figs? so can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh. Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom. But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.

3 Responses to “James chapter 3”

  1. Veritas Says:

    Hello Dr. Gilbert,

    Having read through your correspondence with Photios, what always seems to strike out at me, is the constant way in which you leave the situation open. That is to say: You dont find ways to slam the door shut in the face of the traditions of the undivided church. Doubtless I am not as learned(in any respects) as you or Photios, but I constantly find myself agreeing with you on most mattters. Perhaps this is because I am Catholic; perhaps it is because I aim to imitate the fathers, and still more yet, perhaps it is because I just see more peace coming from your pen, and I would rather like to suppose the saints look more kindly upon this. In the midst of all this ecclesiastical-maneuvering for peace, it would appear some seem to think that something has gotten lost, that being: truth. Nothing can diverge from their narrow concept of it, as if the great fathers that came before us knew only those conclusions that they themselves have come to. In this regard, are they no different than the Evangelical Fundamentalists waving their Bibles? Nor do I defend those Catholics that think upon the same lines. For we are all in need of a little self-evaluation, and, most of all, repentance. In any case, I would tend to agree with Sergius Bulgakov when he states:

    “The antithesis of Latin anti-Photianism, which in the further development of scholastic theology evolved into a consistent and integral doctrine, and anti-Latin Photianism, which was received in the East as the worthy heritage and definitive generalization of patristic theology, without of course being such – this antithesis has been the sad lot of pneumatology for centuries and continues to hold sway even at the present time. It began to seem that Photianism and anti-Photianism exhausted all the possibilities of pneumatology, and the only option was to choose between them. But in reality this is not only incorrect, it is also a fatal, centuries-old misunderstanding, which it is time to overcome.” (S.N. Bulgakov, The Comforter [Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2004] p. 97)

    Instead of hardening our hearts(and our theology), perhaps the Holy Spirit will reveal to us a different path; a path of charity and love; a path that is quite new.

    -Veritas

  2. Tap Says:

    Please don’t stop doing what you are doing. A lot of us are learning, thanking God that someone like you exists to shed some light on esp. on the Eastern Church Father. I for one think you being entirely too harsh on yourself for that little incident. My goodness, but just keep on providing evidence, despite the ‘pushback’ intelligent people can discern the truth.

  3. bekkos Says:

    Hello, Veritas,

    Thanks for your comments. I would just like to note that Bulgakov, in the book you cite, gives a remarkably sympathetic presentation of John Bekkos. On p. 103, he speaks of him in this way:

    “But Beccus did not change his convictions to conform to the will of the emperors like the majority of his contemporaries and, first of all, like his main antagonist, George (Gregory) of Cyprus, who later supplanted him on the patriarchal throne. Beccus was sent into exile, condemned at a council, and then sent into a new exile, where he died in confinement. Out of the darkness of this confinement there reaches us the courageous voice (in polemic and apologia) of this man of conviction, who, in intelligence and character, stood head and shoulders above his rivals and contemporaries.”

    And, a little further down:

    “In any case, with his collection of patristic opinions, he demolishes the stylized mythical conception that characterizes Photius’s Mystagogy. And strictly speaking, it is Beccus who definitively establishes the fact of the patristic dia, although his own interpretation of this dia is excessively dependent on his adherence to the Latin theology.”

    See also pp. 104-108, where Bulgakov gives a summary account of the debate between Bekkos and Gregory of Cyprus, on the basis of a 19th-century Russian translation by Professor I. E. Troitsky that I have not seen, but that apparently includes works of both authors, that is, both Bekkos and Gregory. Bulgakov’s general view of this debate is that Bekkos presents the better case, although the whole polemic, on both sides, “essentially consists of a boring, picayune, and rather fruitless logomachy” (op. cit., p. 105). He also describes both sides as involved in what he calls “patristic talmudism” (p. 104); his basic criticism is that both sides cited texts of the fathers without proper regard for the historical circumstances which produced those texts. I suppose much of what I have been trying to do, both in this blog and in my work translating John Bekkos, has been to provide the historical perspective on the fathers that sometimes is missing in the controversy between Bekkos and his contemporaries. That, at any rate, seems to me a necessary prerequisite for any real, substantive dialogue between the Churches on the subject of their old doctrinal divisions.

    Peter


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