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It is interesting that "dogma" appears in Acts 16.4: "And as they went through the cities, they delivered them the decrees for to keep, that were ordained of the apostles and elders which were at Jerusalem."

The English attempt at "dogmata" is "decrees" in this context. It is clear that "decrees" have nothing to do with "opinion" or "consensus statement" or, thank heaven, "feeling."

It has to do with statements of reality, or "truth" if you will, which are "ordained of the apostles and elders."

Here there is a clear sense that the apostles and elders were participants in and communicants of the Uncreated Light, the theoria, the mystical vision, which is the source of doctrine.

I am quite sure that Dr. Hart would part company with me here, since I am happy to fly in rhapsodic theology while he must stick around in philosophical dialectic, making nice with other academics. God bless him.

But doctrine that is true is doctrine that gives articulation to the nous and forms the psyche. I have said repeatedly here that Orthodox dogma, which is symbolized by the Nicene Creed and the canons of the Seven Ecumenical Councils (and poorly represented by contemporary prima facie) is the only predicate of peace and "mental health."

Now, about the poor words "improvement" and "renewal." They are Latinate constructions, after all, so I don't feel so bad about their sorry state. I take them to represent poorly designed, modernish banners that herald another project for institutional development and recruitment from the centralized elite administration. "Renewal," as an institutional expression, rarely has anything to do with novelty, Spring or Pentecost.

If renewal and improvement mean repentance, growth and theosis, then count me in, I'm all for it.

"But we are all called to the Christian Revolution. That is why I think that we should pay attention to dogma and ascetical prayer, and give "improvement" and "renewal" a miss".

Just curious, but the word "Dogma" seems to hold an entirely different meaning for our modern society than it once did. How can we untangle this word of misunderstandings, as Orthodox Christians in light of the present culture and situation we are in?(I am basically wondering if you can give a succinct statement or working definition of how to view dogma in a practical way). Secondly, which I guess is the point; would a correct understanding of dogma practiced with ascetical prayer not bring about "improvement" and "renewal" on it's own?

I hope for you a fulfilling and sacred journey. Thanks again for your thoughts.

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