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“These examples [of different types of thinking] clearly show the difference between the church, ascetic attitude to the Gospel and the secular one, typical of the intelligentsia. This difference is not in the rigor of the undertaken exploits, but mainly in the overall change of the soul towards the Gospel that we see in them…[it] can be expressed succinctly by the following words: the first obstacle on the path towards the Gospel is the habit of a theoretical and abstract interest to it, instead of a profound turning to Christ with the whole soul as to the source of life and immortality.” (Archpriest Sergius Chetverikov)

“Our faith in Jesus Christ is not an abstraction but rather a communion with Him. This communion fills us with the power of the Holy Spirit and our faith becomes a fertile reality which engenders good works in us as the Scriptures attest "which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them" (Eph. 2:10).   Thus, according to the Apostles, faith engenders true works; and true works, which are the fruit of the Holy Spirit, bear witness and prove the existence of a true faith. Since faith is neither abstract nor sterile, it is impossible to dissociate it from good works. “ (Bishop Alexander Mileant)

“Faith in Jesus Christ is not an abstract or intellectual matter, but is an ongoing pursuit to enter into the mystery of Jesus Christ. We cannot be saved without the truth.” (Archimandrite Gregorios Stephan)

“Love does not exist outside of Christ. It is not possible to love something in a manner unlike Christ. Only in being transformed in Christ’s love are we able to love others. But we can’t do this until we recognize what it means to be loved. Christ sees us as individual, complete, beautiful persons created in the image and likeness of himself, and loves us unconditionally, despite our propensity to soil the beauty in which he created us. Because we have not felt this love and are thus incapable of reciprocating it first and foremost back to ourselves, we do not govern our actions in accordance with who Christ sees us to be. When such a thing has become accomplished, we will become better able to interact with each other and our surroundings in a Christ-like manner. But until that happens, so much of what we encounter only serves to distract us from how the truth of Christ’s coming changes our lives…we need to immerse ourselves in Christ. This is the only solution to our pain. This immersion in Christ sounds so abstract and difficult, and it is because it demands complete self-denial and the putting to death of the old man, cultural inheritance and all. But it’s also simple, because we’ve been given a means of accomplishing this feat. The answer to the pain of separation, which causes us to treat others as objects, is giving.” (Metropolitan Jonah)

“It is very important to have a sense of God, a sense of the living God. The Lord is not an abstract understanding. He is not located somewhere up there in the heavens. He is everywhere. The Lord waits for a man—He waits for him in all his conditions; if only man would strive for Him.” (Archbishop Andrei Gvazava)

“…Christian life encompasses: a set of beliefs and practices gleaned from experience and a profound way of life, not a system based on regimented acts coldly governed by abstract beliefs and rules propped up with mere emotionalism..” (V. Rev. Chrysostomos)

“The great flaw in anti-sacramental thinking is its abstracted notion of “spiritual.” It is presumed that for something to be “spiritual,” it must have nothing to do with the material world. That “talking to Jesus” only consists in words spoken in our heads. In truth, it is a preference for the imaginary over the real. The Word did not become flesh only to get our attention so that we would no longer have anything to do with the material world. It is the Word who became flesh Who gives us His Body and His Blood, the waters of Baptism, the marriage bed, the Apostolic ministry, the oil of healing, the laying on of hands, the lifting of the voice and all such things.” (Father Stephen Freeman)

“All those divine words are not merely abstract principles, arbitrarily established, just to test human obedience and keep people in their place. Rather, they make up essential instruction that is intrinsic to human nature. They are food and drink natural to our humanity as personal and moral beings created in the image and likeness of God. When those divine words are wholeheartedly embraced and faithfully practiced, they become “life-bearing” and “life-giving.” They generate light and life because they guide to right and harmonious relationships between God and people, between people and people, as well as between people and creation. They are like seeds which, when falling into good soil, grow and yield a hundredfold.” (Father Theodore Stylianopoulos)

“In the spiritual tradition of the Church, the knowledge of God and His truth is the main goal of life. “For what meaning would there be for creation,” asks Saint Athanasius the Great (4th c.), “if man should not know God?”…Knowledge of God, indeed knowledge itself, according to the scriptures and the saints, is not mere “knowledge about,” the abstract knowledge of information and rational propositions, devoid of living experience. Knowledge is primarily and essentially an existential union, a cleaving together of the spiritual man and the object of his knowledge. Saint Gregory of Nyssa (4th c.) has said, “The Lord does not say that it is blessed to know something about God, but rather to possess God in oneself…We were created for communion with God – it is our very life. Thinking about communion with God is not a substitute for communion with God. Theology as abstraction has no life within it. Theology is a life lived in Christ.” (Father Thomas Hopko, Father Stephen Freeman)

“I want a God with a face on,” said a little girl to her minister one day—thereby expressing a childlike, nevertheless profound, desire for reality in religion. She was not satisfied with some nebulous, ethereal abstraction for God. She wanted something definite, tangible. She wanted a someone for a God … not a something. Perhaps that is why men do not take God more seriously. They hold a theory about God: Their notion of God is foggy, hazy, remote—an idea that is beyond them with no connection with the everyday.” (Richard Halverson)

“…the modern mind has somehow made abstractions its reality, while treating its true concrete existence as a metaphor, something that, at best, only gives rise to abstraction...all learning takes place through an immediate encounter with Christ, not through the abstract concepts of the rational mind… Christianity is never taught, only ‘caught.’ ” (Father Stephen Freeman, Dynamis 1/13/15)

"Our faith is not based on some abstract “system” of moral values, nor on some abstract ideology, devised by the Apostles. It is rather based on the historical, eye-witness experience of God’s revelation of Himself to these Apostles, like the experience of the Transfiguration, witnessed by the Apostles Peter, James, and John, on the mountain. It is the experience of the “majestic glory,” of the glory of the divine, uncreated energies of the Holy Spirit, -of grace, simply put, in the life of the believer. This experience is passed on and lived on, from generation to generation of believers, walking in His light." (Sr. Dr. Vassa Larin)

“Our sins are literally placed on Christ. And as our Mercy Seat, He destroys them, cleanses them, remits them, carries them away, etc. It would be a frightful death were it meant to accomplish something in the abstract. But sin is not an abstraction. Christ’s bearing of our sin is the bearing of our disintegration, our drive towards non-being. It is the recreation of His creation.” (Father Stephen Freeman)

“Human intellect is incurably abstract...the only realities we experience are concrete—this pain, this pleasure, this dog, this man. While we are loving the man, bearing the pain, enjoying the pleasure, we are not intellectually apprehending Pleasure, Pain or Personality. When we begin to do so, on the other hand, the concrete realities sink to the level of mere instances or examples: we are no longer dealing with them, but with that which they exemplify. This is our dilemma—either to taste and not to know or to know and not to taste—or, more strictly, to lack one kind of knowledge because we are in an experience or to lack another kind because we are outside it.” (C. S. Lewis)

“The Christian faith is precisely that—a faith. It is not based exclusively on the static historicity of an abstract figure, but in the living relationship with the living God. In order to be understood, the Christian faith must be lived and experienced relationally. Each one of us needs to know in whom we have believed.” (Theo Nicolakis)

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