Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Evdokimov's brilliance

This book is challenging me and greatly helping me understand some things I've been struggling to understand for some time.

In Evdokimov's words: "We proceed from Christ, the Alpha in whom there is neither male nor female (which means that everyone finds his or her image in him); as men and women we move towards Christ, the Omega, in whom there is neither male nor female. But this time, the differentiation is overcome within the Body of Christ, the human pleroma (fullness) entirely integrated in Christ" (pp.24-25).

What does Evdokimov - or Paul, for that matter - mean when they say that in Christ "there is neither male nor female?" Obviously, the Incarnate One was male... is he saying that in Him the brokenness of humanity (male and female), created in His image, is being redeemed?

Admittedly, part of my questioning on these issues comes from my upbringing and formation in a Christian denomination which historically ordained women, from its beginning (in 1895). In fact, one of my professors in Manchester (who also grew up in the Church of the Nazarene) as a kid was sort of surprised men could preach as his childhood pastors were women! While most Nazarene clergy today are men, to this day, some of the most gifted ministers in that tradition, including some good friends of mine, are women. What I had to understand is that the understanding of the ministry is somewhat in a different key, and that the issue is not really so much about rights (on the one hand) or preaching, teaching or pastoral skill, but about revealing basic issues about Creation and the whole economy of its sanctification. Thus the liturgy is a microcosm of that, which can only be enacted by certain players. Only after reading For the Life of the World, did the maleness of the liturgical priesthood begin to make any sense to me. Thankfully, Evdokimov is filling in the many gaps that remain in my understanding.



Blogger Mimi said...

I'm looking forward to hearing your thoughts. I've only read one of his books, and I was totally lost the entire time.

9:58 AM  
Blogger elizabeth said...

i am also looking forward to this. i would also love it if you wanted to recommend other books as well; i think i have to start reading a bit more... (beyond what i am now doing that is)...

1:04 PM  
Blogger Stacy said...

Yea! I love that book!

5:59 PM  
Blogger The Ochlophobist said...

The holiness and pentecostal churches present an interesting anamoly when it comes to women's ordination. Had it not been for a dear Nazarene family I knew as a youth, I would likely not be a Christian today, thus the Church of the Nazarene is of interest to me.
Holiness groups "ordain" a person when it is evident that they have been given a particular spiritual gift. When the gift is evident, they publicly acknowledge it. The public respect shown the person with the gift is shown to that person because they have been a vehicle of the Spirit in a particular manner. This is quite different from a notion that respect, and certain requirements, are due to the office of minister, simply for the sake of the office. In this regard the holiness groups are not all that far from, say, Quakers. I would argue that the holiness groups' ecclesiology and understanding of ministry is so low-church that they don't really believe in an office of ordained minister that is substantially different from that of any other believer. Thus one could make the argument that they don't ordain women because they don't ordain anyone. Or, as some of my holiness friends say, they ordain women because every Christian is already ordained anyway. Every Christian has a spiritual gift, thus every Christian is ordained by God to some ministry. What I find interesting is that historically (with noted exceptions) these groups, however egalitarian they were when it came to gifts of the Spirit, practiced traditional male headship in their family lives. Many still do.
Also there are some groups, like the United Pentecostal Church, which ordain women to preach, but only allow men to be elders. So there is an interesting mix within the holiness camps as well.
Personally, I struggle with Evdokimov and P. Sherrard on women and the feminine. Not quite comfortable with them yet. I await your thoughts with interest.

8:20 AM  
Blogger Matthew Francis said...

Yes, thanks Owen. You've hit the nail on the head with the whole holiness-ecclesiology bit.

About Evdokimov, I'm still thinking.

7:49 AM  
Blogger cyrilla said...

Relating to your comment on our blog, Kevin and his twin are definitely not identical. And that's definitely one thing they agree on! (Other than the fact that a wineglass is meant to be filled with wine and not left empty!) Are you guys going to camp this year?

3:12 PM  
Blogger Matthew Francis said...


Alas, Krista and I are not going to make it to camp this year. I'm doing the Group of Twelve hike out in BC, and Krista's fairly busy with her work at the hospital, so we couldn't fit it in this time. Perhaps next year we'll be back at it. It was a blast to be there with you last year, "Pegasus."

10:09 PM  
Blogger cyrilla said...

Likewise. The blast bit.

10:08 PM  
Blogger Sasha said...

So some of your best women friends are ministers :) Glad we've got you thinking about this one...

4:00 PM  
Blogger Browler said...

Ochlophobe, a slight digression, but I can't help myself. Are you also a homophobe?

Your website isn't exactly on the Christian "charitable" end of the spectrum, by the looks of it.

4:09 PM  
Blogger The Ochlophobist said...


It would seem not worthy of note that a blog titled "The Ochlophobist" lacks inclusivity, as we use such a term today.

Nonetheless, I answer your question here:

7:07 PM  
Blogger thomasw said...


there is a deep sense of irony in your remark about the lack of 'charity' on the ocholophobist's site. for i think the principle of charity should extend to the ochlophobe shouldn't it? in academic terms, for the sake of charity, the ocholophobe should be asked to clarify his view on 'x' or 'y' before you accuse him of any lacking charity.

12:06 PM  
Blogger Browler said...

"for the sake of charity, the ocholophobe should be asked to clarify his view on 'x' or 'y' before you accuse him of any lacking charity".

That's what I did, I thought. And he answered me.

The question that arises, though, is whether irrational fears can be self-diagnosed.

9:28 AM  
Blogger The Ochlophobist said...

"The question that arises, though, is whether irrational fears can be self-diagnosed."

Very good point Browler, very good point. You're onto me.

3:58 PM  

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