Fellowship of Saints and Sinners

Fellowship of Saints and Sinners


“Imperfection,” a.k.a. “Perpetual Progress”?

 

Gregory of Nyssa

Epektasis: it may sound like a venereal disease, but it is actually Latin for “perpetual progress;” and it has been around since the fourth century whenGregory of Nyssa coined the term as a way to explain his understanding of true perfection in the spiritual life.  True perfection, for Gregory, consisted not in reaching some elusive, Platonic destination of total “stasis”- as if “to arrive” in the spiritual journey meant an end to the adventure of learning and discovery.  This would be virtual condemnation to an endless state of being a couch potato eating bon bons. Give me Traveler’s diarrhea in exchange for the rush of new people, places, and of course, new food, any day over that!

Instead, perfection takes shape in the journey itself- a journey into the life of God that continues incessantly after death- so that “imperfection” becomes a positive, life-affirming space in which to receive God’s grace, rather than an Achilles’ heel. Those prickly imperfections we brush up against in ourselves and others?  They become, when infused by God’s Spirit, vehicles of our progress in the spiritual life- progress that, thankfully, is perpetually incomplete.

The take-home point?  We’re imperfect (duh!), thanks be to God!

For a more extensive, scholarly treatment of epektasis, especially its contemporary applications for worship, ethics, ecclesiology and mission, see my article, “Gregory of Nyssa’s ‘Perpetual Progress,'” in the July 2008 issue ofTheology Today.



  • http://www.aroundperfection.com motivational

    Hi there very nice website!! Guy .. Beautiful .. Superb .. I will bookmark your blog and take the feeds additionally?I’m satisfied to seek out numerous useful info right here within the publish, we’d like work out extra strategies on this regard, thanks for sharing. . . . . .

  • http://www.aroundperfection.com/ inspirational blog

    You can certainly see your skills in the work you write. The sector hopes for even more passionate writers like you who aren’t afraid to say how they believe. At all times follow your heart.

Previous Posts

Lessons from the Valley of the Shadow of Death
Just over six months ago, a member of our congregation announced he had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer: Steve Hayner, the outgoing president of Columbia Theological Seminary, and his wife Sharol, have come to be most associated in my mind with joy; yet Steve's announcement could not have been

posted 6:16:41pm Nov. 12, 2014 | read full post »

The Prodigal God—Inspirations from Tim Keller's Book
I've missed you! The challenge of writing for a full-time job is that it can relegate recreational writing to a distant backseat. But I want to keep coming back to this intersection, because I find that when I'm away from it, my capacity to carve out space for reflection and find spiritual breathing

posted 10:04:03am Nov. 01, 2014 | read full post »

The Neuroscience of Temptation
It's been too long. I hope you're enjoying God and life. That next book I'm working on is now evolving into a book about addiction and mental illness—and how churches can and must learn to love and wel

posted 1:52:23am Oct. 14, 2014 | read full post »

Brokenness—as Creative Tension?
This morning a meditation from Paula Ripple's Growing Strong at Broken Places sparks some thoughts about embracing brokenness as the very site where God seeks to form us, like a master po

posted 10:13:15am Oct. 03, 2014 | read full post »

Mental Health Break—The Worship Service To End All Worship Services
It's been a while since we've had a mental health break. As a little bit of comic relief at the start of another work week, this clip from a worship service somewhere in America comes from saint and sinner Paul. The comments from readers are just about as funny as the weird break dancing routine in

posted 2:12:30am Sep. 30, 2014 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.