The Truth About Dogma

“And the unalterable truths of experience can be expressed in different ways. Divine reality can be described in images and parables, in the language of devotional poetry and of religious art. Such was the language of the prophets in the Old Testament, in such a manner the Evangelists often speak, in such a way the Apostles preached, and in such a manner the church preaches even now in her liturgical hymns and in the symbolism of her sacramental acts. That is the language of proclamation and of good tidings, the language of prayer and of mystical experience, the language of ‘Kerygmatic’ theology. ‘

And there is another language, the language of comprehending thought, the language of dogma. Dogma is a witness of experience of experience. The entire pathos of dogma lies in the fact that it points to Divine reality; in this the witness of dogma is symbolic. Dogma is the testimony of thought about what has been seen and revealed, about what has been contemplated in the experience of faith – and this testimony is expressed in concepts and definitions.

Dogma is an ‘intellectual vision,’ a truth of perception. One can say: it is the logical image, a ‘logical icon’ of divine reality. And at the same time a dogma is a definition – that is why its logical form is so important for dogma, that ‘inner word’ which acquires force in its external expression. This is why the external aspect of dogma – its wording – is so essential. Dogma is by no means a new Revelation. Dogma is only a witness. The whole meaning of dogmatic definition consists of testifying to unchanging truth, truth which was revealed and has been preserved from the beginning. Thus it is a total misunderstanding to speak of ‘the development of dogma.’ Dogmas do not develop; they are unchanging and inviolable, even in their external aspect – their wording. Least of all is it possible to change dogmatic language or terminology. As strange as it may appear, one can indeed say: dogmas arise, dogmas are established, but they do not develop. And once established, a dogma is perennial and already an immutable ‘rule of faith’, Dogma is an intuitive truth, not a discursive axiom which is accessible to logical development. The whole meaning of dogma lies in the fact that it is expressed truth. Revelation discloses itself and is received in the silence of faith, in silent vision.”    (Georges Florovsky, Creation and Redemption, pp 29-30)

Archbishop Seraphim Sentenced

SeraphimThe former OCA Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Canada, Seraphim, age 68, was sentenced today in a Winnipeg court to 8 months in jail for sexually molesting an altar boy almost 30 years ago.  The Winnipeg Free Press story can be found at Former Archbishop Sentenced to Jail.   He is appealing the jail sentence.

The news is also found on the OCA’s webpage at Sentenced Announced in Archbishop Seraphim Case where some dates in the case are noted:

Archbishop Seraphim was placed on leave of absence on October 1, 2010, with restrictions on Church activities.  On November 30, 2010, he was suspended by the Holy Synod of Bishops.  He was subsequently retired by the Holy Synod of Bishops on March 21, 2014 with additional restrictions.

The OCA”s Synod of Bishops has announced that a Spiritual Court in accordance with the canons of the Orthodox Church will be convened to consider Archbishop Seraphim’s case for canonical discipline as well.

Metropolitan Tikhon, Primate of the Orthodox Church in America, said:

“We ask, first and foremost, that everyone keep the victims and their family members in their prayers, as well as praying for healing and peace in the Archdiocese of Canada.  May God’s mercy be upon all of those involved in this painful case.”