Father Boris Bobrinskoy continues the ninth chapter of The Compassion of the Fatherby pointing to the subtle dialectic between the direct action of the Holy Spirit and listening to our fathers in the faith. We see this in the experience of Saint Paul.
Following his “enlightenment” on the road to Damascus, and after spending three years in Arabia – a stay of which we know nothing – St Paul wanted to return to Jerusalem to meet James and Kephas (Peter), the pillars of the Church at that time. This intervention is very interesting because it reveals that, from the beginning of the Church, two basic moments co-existed: on the one hand, the direct illumination of the road to Damascus where St Paul met the living Christ and was taught by the Spirit; on the other hand, the concern to verify his teaching, his knowledge, his preaching, and his language with the apostles, with the Church.
In this way, the Church lives in the permanent breath and the permanent fire of the Pentecost of the Holy Spirit. If this fire does not set us aglow, then all the truths of the Tradition would forever remain as dead, alien externals to us.
In the Christian faith, we should never omit any dimension of the spiritual begetting, whatever the relays of transmission may be: the “father,” the “charismatics,” those who are “filled with the Holy Spirit.” For we have only one Lord: Jesus Christ; one Master: the Holy Spirit; and one Father: our heavenly Father. The more we mature in the faith, the more the apostolic and ecclesial Tradition becomes our own. Then the gospel is accomplished, when Jesus tells His disciples: “I no longer call you servants; … Instead, I have called you friends, for everything I learned from my Father I have made known to you” (Jn 15:15). (162-3)
Thus the Tradition is not simply the transmission of the living faith, but is also the content of faith. It has an objectivity that parallels our own subjective faith.
Objective faith is basically the mystery of Christ, the revelation of this mystery in Jesus, transmitted by the apostles and evangelists: the announcement of the good news. This is what St Irenaeus calls “the deposit of the transmitted faith,” which has remained unchanged over the centuries. This deposit crystallizes in ecclesial doctrine, a doctrine which we have a tendency to call “orthodoxy” and which cannot be separated from worship, prayer, and adoration. Two dimensions are included in the word “orthodoxy”: doxa not only means thought, prayer, and opinion, but also glory and praise. Consequently, only to the extent that our praise is true does doctrine emerge from inside the language of Christian worship.
We can go even further: doxa is not only the glory given to God, but also the glory of God. Thus “orthodoxy” is above all the glory of God who communicates Himself to us in the life of the Church, that is, the living experience of God, crystallized at the same time in the language of worship and in theological thought.
Theology acquires a genuine objectivity in the dogmas, the definitions of the councils, the teaching of the magisterium, and the authority of the Church. That is very important, for it is there that we touch upon the basic mystery of the Church where the Body resembles the Head, Christ being the Head. The entire Church is divine-human or “theanthropical.” In other words, everything in the life of the Church is divine-human: worship, the sacraments, the icon, and theological language, taking into account our approximations. From this point of view, the doctrine of the faith acquires a genuine objectivity; the human word becomes capax Dei (“capable of God”), that is, capable of transmitting, carrying, and singing (rather than reciting) the truth of God, His mystery. (163-4)