• Michael Haldas

Form/Formalism

“Being created by and for God, it is only in Him that our lives acquire lasting joy and meaning.…True Christian life begins and ends with the inner life which our hearts direct. We perform the externals of life rightly when our hearts love God first, foremost, and above all. If our hearts are not filled with the living God, then our meticulous keeping of the “letter” – fulfilling the commandments and dictates of tradition – will never save but rather condemn us.” (Dynamis 7/22/2020)


“We should never think that the Holy Scriptures of the Old or New Testament are a book of rules that contain within themselves certain rules for every circumstance of life and every difficulty. As though all a Christian has to do is deal with these rules and incorporate them into his life. It unfailingly will lead a person from a series of blindly-formulated questions to a series of blindly-formulated answers. It will lead every Christian to a literalist reading of the Scriptures and to a moribund interpretation of it. But it will never lead him to a living creativity filled with the Spirit and with meaning.” (Ivan Ilyin)


“The measure of a man’s spiritual growth is his humility. The more advanced he is spiritually the more humble he is. And vice versa: the more humble, the higher spiritually. Neither prayer rules, nor prostrations, nor fasts, nor reading God’s Word—only humility brings a man closer to God. Without humility, even the greatest spiritual feats are not only useless but can altogether destroy a person.” (Elder Nikon)

“Christ is not condemning the actions of the pharisee. The Lord is not telling us through this parable that the pharisee – or anyone else, and that includes us – is wasting both time and energy by going up to the temple to pray, by fasting and by tithing. These are not being condemned as empty practices, consigning all such practitioners to the barren realm of hypocrisy and religious formalism. We, as contemporary Christians, are encouraged to enter the church with regularity and offer our prayer to God, to practice the self-restraint and discipline of fasting, and to share our financial resources with the generosity implied by the biblical tithe… we would do well to imitate the outward actions of the pharisee in practicing our Faith! Yet, on a deeper and far more significant level, the pharisee got it all wrong…The pharisee was self-centered, but not God-centered. Something went wrong, and the self replaced God as the center of his energy and passion. The exterior forms of piety that he practiced were disconnected from the interior realm of the heart, where God is meant to dwell and, again, transform the human person from within, so that each person becomes less self-centered and more God-centered with time and patience.” (Fr. Stephen Kostoff)


“But when we study church history we find a certain amount of variety and fluidity that in time would evolve into more stable and uniform structures.  There are two opposites to living tradition; one is dead formalism and the other is unchecked innovation.  The former gives too much priority to the outward form at the expense of the inner life of the Gospel, the latter disregards the importance of the form to preserving and giving expression to the inner life of the Gospel.” (Robert Arakaki)

#Dynamis #IvanIlyin #ElderNikon #FrStephenKostoff #RobertArakaki

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