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Praxis (Eastern Orthodoxy)

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Essence-Energies distinction

Praxis is the customary use of knowledge or skills, distinct from theoretical knowledge. The term is used in Eastern Orthodox theology to refer to the practice of the faith, especially to askesis and liturgical life. Praxis is key to Eastern Orthodox understanding because it is the basis of faith and works and the understanding of not separating the two. "Theology without action (praxis) is the theology of demons." —Maximus the Confessor

Orthodox praxis

Union with God, to which Christians hold that Jesus invited man, requires not just faith, but correct practice of faith. This idea is found in the Scriptures (1 Cor 11:2, 2 Thes 2:15) and the Church Fathers, and is linked with the term praxis in Orthodox theology and vocabulary.[1] In the context of Orthodoxy, praxis is mentioned opposite theology, in the sense of 'theory and practice'.[2] Rather, it is a word that means, globally, all that Orthodox do.[3] Praxis is 'living Orthodoxy'.[4]

Praxis is perhaps most strongly associated with worship. "Orthopraxis" is said to mean "right glory" or "right worship"[5]; only correct (or proper) practice, particularly correct worship, is understood as establishing the fulness glory given to God. This is one of the primary purposes of liturgy (divine labor), the work of the people. Some Orthodox sources maintain that in the West, Christianity has been reduced "to intellectual, ethical or social categories," whereas right worship is fundamentally important in our relationship to God, forming the faithful into the Body of Christ and providing the path to "true religious education."[6] A "symbiosis of worship and work" is considered to be inherent in Orthodox praxis.[7]

Fasting, another key part of the practice of the Christian faith, is mentioned as part of Orthodox praxis, in connection with the Sermon on the Mount (Mt 6),[8] and in comparison with the history and commemorations of Lenten fasts.[9]

Praxis may also refer to proper religious etiquette.[10]

Corresponding terminology in western traditions

In both the Latin and Eastern Catholic churches, parallel ideas of worship exist and are given expression, in recent decades by Dietrich von Hildebrand, who emphasizes that the "primary intention [of the Liturgy] is to praise and glorify God, to respond fittingly to Him." 1 It is not customary in the western traditions to use one word to refer to so many facets of faithful Christian life, but one can easily speak of practicing or living one's faith, and can refer to the various aspects of being faithful, such as worship, prayer, or fasting. In comparing the practice of faith between East and West, one must recall that not all western Catholics are identical; many traditionalist Catholics, for example, practice fasting much more extensively than do Novus Ordo Catholics. In practice, Christianity in the East and West can sometimes quite different, due mainly to divergences in belief and practice introduced before the 1054 mutual excommunications by the Bishop of Rome (whom the Catholics refer to as the "Pope") and the patriarch of Constantinople but also to the differing development between Eastern and Western Christianity after that time.

See also

Footnotes and references

  • 1 Dietrich von Hildebrand, Liturgy and Personality, Sophia Institute Press, 1993, ISBN 0-918477-13-1, p. 4.


This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original article was at Praxis (Eastern Orthodoxy). The list of authors can be seen in the page history.

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