Desert Wisdom: Action and Contemplation

The attempt to rank practice (praktikos) and contemplation (theoretikos) is an ancient debate.  Bunge shows how the two became conjoined in early Christianity.

Evagrius preferred contemplation because it was the “observation point” from which the rest of life is seen.  But once seen, something must be done if it is to be lived to the glory of God.

So, the early Christians used the phrase “the active life” to hold contemplation and practice together.  In both, the soul is active—first in seeking the will of God, and then in doing that will on earth as it is in heaven.  In this way, we do not have to choose between the two; indeed we must not, lest we lose both.  Let us not separate what God has joined together.



About Steve Harper

Retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 42 books. Also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.
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