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For the Life of the World: Sacraments and Orthodoxy Paperback – Jun 27 2002


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 151 pages
  • Publisher: St. Vladimir's Seminary Press; 2nd Expanded edition edition (June 27 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0913836087
  • ISBN-13: 978-0913836088
  • Product Dimensions: 21.9 x 13.7 x 1.2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 204 g
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #53,831 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Labarum on Nov. 25 2003
Format: Paperback
Occasionally one will stumble upon a book so filled with simple Christian wisdom as to take one's breath away. Such is the case with For the Life of the World by the late Orthodox writer Alexander Schmemann. Originally written as a study guide on the Sacraments for a conference, the impact was so great it was decided to make the study more widely available in book form. The decision to publish has certainly been vindicated - the book has been influential not just with the Orthodox but throughout the Christian world and has profoundly affected (for the better) the Christian understanding of the Sacraments.
From the first sentence we are taken into a view of the Sacraments immersed in the historic liturgy of the Church. For Schmemann, the Western Church commits a fundamental error in attempting to analyze the Sacraments as "objects" in isolation from the liturgical context that gives them meaning. Instead, the Sacraments are the act of the Church within its liturgy to transform the world through Christ by offering the world and ourselves to the Father. 
Each of the recognized Sacraments of the Orthodox Church are considered within the liturgical life of the Church. This incarnational understanding of the Christian Faith presents the world itself - created by God and declared good - as something to be redeemed through Christ. Rejecting both the semi-gnostic anti-Sacramentalism of some Protestants as well as the view of medieval Roman Catholicism that bordered on "magic", Schmemann returns to a patristic view of the Sacramental life.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Volkert Volkersz on Aug. 23 2003
Format: Paperback
"For the Life of the World: Sacraments and Orthodoxy," by Alexander Schmemann, is a significant work for understanding the Orthodox--and therefore ancient Christian--view of sacraments and sacramental living. Two additional essays, written in the early 1970s: "Worship in a Secular Age," and "Sacrament and Symbol," are fitting appendices to the title work, which was originally published as a study guide for a 1963 National Christian Student Federation conference.
Schmemann states that we were created to live in a sacramental relationship with God and the creation, but this life was lost in the Fall of Adam and Eve. Christ, who gave his life "for the life of the world," came to restore this sacramental relationship, not only with God, but with all of Creation.
Schmemann writes that the purpose of the book "is to remind its readers that in Christ, life--life in all its totality--was returned to man, given again as sacrament and communion, made Eucharist." He goes on to discuss the importance of this understanding for our mission in the world.
I know many individuals who have wondered how the Eastern Orthodox and Christians in the West (both Roman Catholic and Protestant) can use the same terminology and mean different things. Sometimes the differences are subtle, sometimes radical. Schmemann believes that secularism is at the heart of those differences, and that secularism was born when scholars in the West sought to analyze, define and explain the sacraments, most significantly the Eucharist (or Communion).
By picking apart the meaning and "the elements" of Communion, scholasticism allowed the Eucharist to be divorced from the context of the Liturgy. Therefore, in order to satisfy an increasingly scientific approach, the West began to separate the sacred from the secular.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A. Scott Cunningham on Aug. 12 2002
Format: Paperback
A friend recommended Alexander Schmemman's _For the Life of
the World_. I read it and thought it was wonderful. Being Reformed and Calvinist in my beliefs, I have had the notion of a "biblical world and life view" emphasized to me a great deal over the past seven years since first becoming a believer. I have been taught to think of the world, in its whole, as being inherently good, though now tainted with sin, and in need of redemption. All areas of life were, therefore, open and fertile ground for the believer to work.
I have slowly grown slightly less satisfied, though, with the way that most advocates of the 'biblical world and life view' advocate for this kind of activism. I think primarily, what bothered me, was when I felt like this kind of thing did indeed become activism, and the other devotional aspects of the faith were ignored. Too often, people - including myself - seemed to advocate for 'biblical world and life view' activism, yet do so in a way that diminished the importance of personal devotion to and communion with Christ. Sometimes I felt that this approach tended to take a somewhat encyclopediac approach to the Scriptures, attempting to find ways to make the Bible suit a particular ideology. What amazed me about Schmemman is that he seemed to me to be essentially struggling with these new, modern issues of the relationship between faith and life, and yet his "answer" - if you can call it that - was centered more on the liturgical and sacramental worship of the Church. Like other Reformed writers, Schmemman rejected the 'sacred/secular' dichotomy. He based some of his criticisms, rightly so, in the invention of a 'spiritual' sphere. He was more critical, it seemed, of "spiritualism" than he was of secularism.
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