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

Faith Equals...
This Sunday the preacher said faith is the gap between the kingdom of God we only catch faint glimpses o

posted 11:58:48am Jul. 29, 2014 | read full post »

The Rise of the "Spiritual But Not Religious"
Here at this intersection between God and life, I'm always interested in news pertaining to those who call themselves "spiritual but not religious"—hence this article from The New York Times featuring the work of three other authors who, like me, are responding to the epithet that now describes on

posted 5:53:50pm Jul. 27, 2014 | read full post »

Are You Opposed to People Owning Guns? Via John Piper
[caption id="attachment_5235" align="alignleft" width="339"] Jim Eliot and 4 other missionaries were killed in Ecuador by Auca Indians. The missionaries had guns but chose to fire them in the air rather than at their attackers who had spears. The Aucas have since embraced Christ in great number.[/ca

posted 11:40:36am Jul. 22, 2014 | read full post »

Mental Health Break— "Sea Song" and Lisa Hannigan
This week the theme of the sea put to music especially touched me as our family grieves the loss of my granddad.  My granddad was a lifelong sailor and lover of the sea, and we will scatter some of his ashes on the sea where he used to command our family's annual regatta from Shelter Island, New Yo

posted 11:16:49am Jul. 18, 2014 | read full post »

"Admiral John": A Granddaughter's Remembrances
It feels a bit like Groundhog Day: wasn't it just a couple months ago that I was sharing a granddaughter's reflections upon the death of a grandparent?  This past Saturday, my granddad John slipped away suddenly to join his late wife Peggy of 68 years who had been his companion until two months ago

posted 11:58:22am Jul. 15, 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.