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May 01, 2007


Kelli Daniel

Hi Ryan,

I work as a publicist for Doubleday Religion at Random House, and I was wondering if you would be interested in receiving copies of some of our titles. We would just ask for blog postings in return (they can be either positive or negative).

If you are interested, please email me with your mailing address.




I had the privilege of taking historical theology with Robert Webber about ten or so years ago. At the time I was a little more rigid and closed off from other Christian traditions but he was masterful at teaching the timeline of Christian thought in a way that brought it all together. Very much opened my eyes and my mind to the idea of pursuing other sources of influence. He was the first professor, the first Christian leader, I ever knew to talk about the Eastern Orthodox church, something which has very much influenced me since then.

I still have the notes and the charts from that class. He always had a great tan and loved to talk about his time at Jaw Bones.

In fact, I was excited to take him because my dad had taken him twenty years earlier, when he was the young, hip, flashy new professor at Wheaton.

He was a great thinker, a great leader, and a great teacher. He will be missed. But now he's really getting to worship so I'm sure he's even more excited and passionate.

Steve Hayes

Interesting -- Orthodox Christians believe that they should aim at dispassion (apatheia).

Either Orthodox Christians and Evangelicals are travelling in opposite directions, or we have a communication problem.


Steve, 'passion' can have various meanings. The Orthodox are not opposed to the 'passion' of Christ, for instance and so it's not necessarily a miscommunication issue as much as a matter of understanding how 'passion' is used in a given context. The Orthodox are not in pursuit of the bland or the resigned. Acedia is that.

Webber, no doubt, is using 'passion' in regards to the pursuit of God, the quest towards theosis and participation with the Triune God in this world. That is heartily encouraged, and the kind of effort that the Orthodox should encourage.

The glossary to my copy of the Philokalia says this about 'passion':
"in Gree, the word signifies literally that which happens to a person or thing, an experience undergone passively; hence an appetite or impulse such as anger, desire, or jealousy, that violently dominates the soul. Many Greek Fathers regard the passionas as something intrisically evil, a 'disease' of the soul: thus St. John Klimakos affirms that God is not the creator of the passions and that they are 'unnatural', alien to man's true self. Other Greek Fathers, however, look upon the passions as impulses originally placed in man by God, and so fundamentally good, although at present distorted by sin (cf. Isaiah the Solitary, section 1). On this second view, then, the passions are to be educated, not eradicated; to be transfigured, not suppressed; to be used positively, not negatively."

Webber sees 'passion' in this second regard, and sees Evangelicals as bearing a teaching in this regard. To be sure some Orthodox and Evangelicals are traveling opposite directions, one going East, one going West, but those that are truly seeking God are not at all, as they are traveling North and finding all sorts of commonality, if they are committed to the work of the Spirit above all.


I came across your blog today, and I thought you might be interested in an electronic edition of Robert Webber's Ancient-Future Series. It's currently available for pre-order from Logos Bible Software.



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  • Hi, welcome to my former blog! My name is Ryan Bolger, and this is where I posted my thoughts on Jesus, culture, new forms of community, among other things. Come visit me at my new blog: http://www.ryanbolger.com. I still teach at Fuller Seminary in Southern California where I'm doing some writing as well. Feel free to bounce around the new or old website -- I hope it might stir your imagination -- feel free to stir mine as well by leaving some comments, preferably at the new site... Peace...


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