Fascination with wickedness obscures what is good, and roving desire perverts the innocent mind.
Wisdom of Solomon 4:12

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

A Prayer of the Optina Elders

O Lord, grant me strength to meet with serenity everything forthcoming today. Grant me to submit completely to Thy holy will. At every hour of this day guide and support me in all things. Whatsoever news may reach me in the course of this day, teach me to accept it with calmness and the conviction that all is subject to Thy holy will.

In all my words and actions direct my thoughts and feelings. In all unexpected occurances, do not let me forget that all is sent down by Thee. Teach me to deal straightforwardly and wisely with every member of my family, neither embarassing nor saddening anyone.

O Lord, grant me strength to endure the fatigue of the coming day and all the events that take place during it. Direct my will and teach me to pray, to believe, to hope, to be patient, to forgive and to love. Amen

Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Death of The Innocent

In Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s famous novel, Ivan is the Karamazov brother who collects stories of children tortured, beaten, killed — babes caught on the points of soldiers’ bayonets, a serf boy run down by his master’s hounds, a child of 5 locked in a freezing outhouse by her parents.
Ivan invokes these innocents in a speech that remains one of the most powerful rebukes to the idea of a loving, omniscient God — a speech that accepts the possibility that the Christian story of free will leading to suffering and then eventually redemption might be true, but rejects its Author anyway, on the grounds that the price of our freedom is too high.
“Can you understand,” he asks his more religious sibling, “why a little creature, who can’t even understand what’s done to her, should beat her little aching heart with her tiny fist in the dark and the cold, and weep her meek unresentful tears to dear, kind God to protect her? ... Do you understand why this infamy must be and is permitted? Without it, I am told, man could not have existed on earth, for he could not have known good and evil. Why should he know that diabolical good and evil when it costs so much?”

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

What is Spiritual Direction?

One who climbs a mountain for the first time needs to follow a known route; and he needs to have with him, as companion and guide, someone who has been up before and is familiar with the way. To serve as such a companion and guide is precisely the role of the “Abba” or spiritual father—whom the Greeks call “Geron” and the Russians “Starets”, a title which in both languages means “old man” or “elder”.

        Since the essence of spiritual life consists "in healing our impaired will, uniting it with the will of God and sanctifying it by this union," and since "in order to do the will of God it is necessary to know it,'' spiritual direction is a careful process by which we first learn and then apply the principles of spiritual life, thus coming to know God's will for us with assurance. Some very few saints and righteous ones, finding themselves in circumstances where healthy and genuine spiritual direction was not available, were able to do this for themselves through a very patient, prayerful, and life-long study of sacred texts. Such, for example, was the great Saint Paisius Velichkovsky, the eighteenth-century Russian monastic reformer and teacher. Most of us, however, must imitate the Ethiopian in the Book of Acts and cry out, “How can I understand unless someone guides me?”

         Spiritual direction consists not only of learning ancient techniques of prayer, but it requires detailed instruction by the director, as well as guided reading and study and learning inner attention. But it also has an important dimension of asceticism -- that is, certain kinds of bodily practices that, in Orthodox spirituality, go hand in hand with prayer and learning. Such practices may include learning how to live a quieter lifestyle, adopting (with the permission of one's director) additional fasting and abstinence exercises, and more frequent attendance at Divine services -- all of which are calculated to slightly challenge and tax the body and its natural energies, putting it under additional discipline and control.

           In most cases, a spiritual director will take his spiritual child "from strength to strength," beginning with the simplest and easiest "ABC's" of spiritual striving. He will first inquire to know at what level the student is in his spiritual life -- and it does not matter how basic or even primitive the student may be -- and the director will also want to know in some detail about his state in life -- married or single, with children or without, what kind of job, and what the student does for entertainment. Slowly but surely the director will introduce the student to certain hallowed principles and ideas. He will assign reading and will carefully discuss that reading with the student.

         The director will expose his spiritual child to various methods of prayer which are time-honored in the Church (for spiritual life is in many ways as much a science as an art). He will also assign a Prayer Rule, very simple at first, and then gradually more complex, and he will carefully supervise the student's progress in prayer. He will also act as confessor to his spiritual son or daughter, for in this great Mystery of Repentance the director is most able to act as a spiritual physician. In this context, a spiritual father strives particularly to show his spiritual children the way to repentance, which means "a change of mind that is accompanied by deep regret over one's past life or over some particular act which one has committed," so that "there is a profound change of orientation, a sudden shift of the center of gravity of one's total being from the material to the spiritual, from the physical world to God, from concern for the body to concern for the soul.''

          Not least, a spiritual father will be available as a sympathetic ear and a healthy and objective "sounding-board" when his spiritual sons and daughters are in need of this.

Priest Alexei Young

Tuesday, December 4, 2012


The patristic and undivided church has always understood humanity’s main problem to be the illness or disease of the soul.  This spiritual disease has symptoms which the bible calls sin or “missing the goal”.  Perhaps sin should be translated in the English word “miss”.  The cure for this disease according to the apostolic church is “conversion,” or perhaps in contemporary English “reorientation”.  I know these words are not commonly used for these terms, but they nevertheless get at the heart of the meaning of the original terms (sin, conversion) that are in today’s English speaking world weighed down with other connotations.  The ancient church also prescribes a medicine to obtain this cure, it is a therapy applied by the church’s doctors, or priests.  Consider the unanimous teaching of the undivided church on this matter:

It behoves those who have received from God the power to loose and bind, to consider the quality of the sin and the readiness of the sinner for conversion, and to apply medicine suitable for the disease, lest if he is injudicious in each of these respects he should fail in regard to the healing of the sick man. For the disease of sin is not simple, but various and multiform, and it germinates many mischievous offshoots, from which much evil is diffused, and it proceeds further until it is checked by the power of the physician. Wherefore he who professes the science of spiritual medicine ought first of all to consider the disposition of him who has sinned, and to see whether he tends to health or (on the contrary) provokes to himself disease by his own behaviour, and to look how he can care for his manner of life during the interval. And if he does not resist the physician, and if the ulcer of the soul is increased by the application of the imposed medicaments, then let him mete out mercy to him according as he is worthy of it. For the whole account is between God and him to whom the pastoral rule has been delivered, to lead back the wandering sheep and to cure that which is wounded by the serpent; and that he may neither cast them down into the precipices of despair, nor loosen the bridle towards dissolution or contempt of life; but in some way or other, either by means of sternness and astringency, or by greater softness and mild medicines, to resist this sickness and exert himself for the healing of the ulcer, now examining the fruits of his repentance and wisely managing the man who is called to higher illumination. For we ought to know two things, to wit, the things which belong to strictness and those which belong to custom, and to follow the traditional form in the case of those who are not fitted for the highest things, as holy Basil teaches us.       Quinixext Ecumenical Council,  Canon 102

Spiritual therapy is the medicine appointed by the church, and while actual therapeutic medicines are not mentioned, historic practices show these to be “reorienting forms of worship”.  The medicine may be “times of quiet”, making the soul still, or particular times of prayer, spiritual readings, fasts, & c… The point being, the medicine of the soul is the reorienting worship of the true God in Christ. It is only our willful presence before the Lord that heals our souls from its disease. Consequently, the Christian should be not only proficient in worship, but eager to participate in it.

For the reason the church has put together its main prayer book, the “Horologion.”  In it the therapy abounds, and it behooves every Christian to it understand thoroughly, and to use it regularly under the guidance of a spiritual therapist.



Wednesday, November 21, 2012

How Do We Pass On Truth?

One of the most majestic glories of the Orthodox Church is her way with truth.  The church has great creeds in her quiver, which preserve the essential truths of the faith; however, she freely admits that creeds are not enough. She also has great treatises written by the spiritual fathers of the church, yet again, she admits that they are not enough. She has catechisms written by holy men, again not enough. She has confessions and concilliar definitions, great but not enough.  She even has the Holy Scriptures, essential to the truth, but alone they are not enough.  

What then is enough?  The delivery system is enough.  The Orthodox Church has through out her years put together a system of delivering the contents of all of the above on a year by year basis through its liturgical cycle.

The daily cycle is found in the book called the Horologion, and it begins at Vespers (sunset). There we find the theme of man’s gloomy darkness along with the promise of light, we find ourselves with Adam facing the gates of paradise awaiting the salvation of the world.  Then the cycle continues with compline (completeness).  The theme in this is salvation through the night of sleep (death). Followed by nocturnes (midnight) wherein we thank God for raising us from sleep (death) and ask for spiritual guidance through out our day.  Then follows Matins, where the bulk of Orthodox theology is transferred. The main theme is the exposition of the coming of the light into the world. If all of this were not enough we also have first, third, sixth, and ninth hour; each with a redemptive theme of their own.

To each daily cycle we add an eight week resurrection theme that focuses on different aspects of our redemption. This is found in the book called the Ochtoekos.

We also add a yearly cycle; wherein each day saints, martyrs, 12 high feasts, or lesser feasts are found, each full of theology, history, and piety. This cycle is found in the books called the Menaion, Triodion, & the Pentecostarion.

On special occasions, we also celebrate Akathists. These are services that are comprised of theological poetry. In addition, there are the seemingly endless mini-services of remembrances and special prayers from The Book of Needs. They contain everything from child birth to after death, and everything in between. This book is comprised of over 5 volumes: baptism, the blessing of every conceivable thing, matrimony, burial, extending all the way to memorials for the departed.  In this book, we have the cycle of human life presented before God.

It is within that delivery system that we find the contents of the creeds and councils, spiritual treatises, and the Holy Scriptures explained and applied.  This content is, for the most, part written in stone. No one person, bishop, diocese, or jurisdiction can change the content or the delivery system for the Orthodox Church. To alter this method is to stop being Orthodox.

Hence, it is the concilliar mind of the Church that interprets truth for her faithful and not any person or persons.

Consider the reading for vespers on the feast day of the presentation of the Theotokos in the temple of God. By using this passage on that feast day we are instructed by the church that the Old Testament  prophecy of Ezekiel has a spiritual meaning that the church wants us to grasp. This prophecy concerns the Theotokos, Mary the mother of our Lord. More specifically, the prophecy is about her perpetual virginity. 

Ezekiel 43:27-44:4 
‘When these days are over it shall be, on the eighth day and thereafter, that the priests shall offer your burnt offerings and your peace offerings on the altar; and I will accept you,’ says the Lord God.”  Then He brought me back to the outer gate of the sanctuary which faces toward the east, but it was shut.  And the Lord said to me, “This gate shall be shut; it shall not be opened, and no man shall enter by it, because the Lord God of Israel has entered by it; therefore it shall be shut.   “As for the prince, because he is the prince, he may sit in it to eat bread before the Lord; he shall enter by way of the vestibule of the gateway, and go out the same way.”  Also He brought me by way of the north gate to the front of the temple; so I looked, and behold, the glory of the Lord filled the house of the Lord; and I fell on my face.                          

In addition, we have theological hymns added to the service from the Menaion:

Today is the prelude of the good will of God, of the preaching of the salvation of mankind. The Virgin appears in the Temple of God, in anticipation proclaiming Christ to all. Let us rejoice and sing to her: Rejoice, O Fulfillment of the Creator's dispensation.  
The most pure Temple of the Savior: the precious Chamber and Virgin; the sacred Treasure of the glory of God, is presented today to the house of the Lord. She brings with her the grace of the Spirit, which the angels of God do praise. Truly this woman is the Abode of Heaven. 
We magnify you, O Most Holy Virgin, Maiden chosen of God, and we honor your entry into the temple.

Can you see the majestic glory of the Orthodox Church's way with truth?  For those with eyes to see, it is glorious in our eyes.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Using The Scripture Rightly

“We cannot assert that Scripture is self-sufficient; and this is not because it is incomplete, or inexact, or has any defects, but because Scripture in its very essence does not lay claim to self-sufficiency. . . . If we declare Scripture to be self-sufficient, we only expose it to subjective, arbitrary interpretation, thus cutting it away from its sacred source. Scripture is given to us in tradition. It is the vital, crystallising centre.

The Church, as the Body of Christ, stands mystically first and is fuller than Scripture. This does not limit Scripture, or cast shadows on it. But truth is revealed to us not only historically. Christ appeared and still appears before us not only in the Scriptures; He unchangeably and unceasingly reveals Himself in the Church, in His own Body.

In the times of the early Christians the Gospels were not yet written and could not be the sole source of knowledge. The Church acted according to the spirit of the Gospel, and, what is more, the Gospel came to life in the Church, in the Holy Eucharist. In the Christ of the Holy Eucharist Christians learned to know the Christ of the Gospels, and so His image became vivid to them.”

Fr. George Florovsky, Bible, Church, Tradition: An Eastern Orthodox View, pp. 48-49

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Understanding The Old Testament


Our present difficulty with the Old Testament originates from two causes: first, our distance from the original audience, complicated by our attempt to fit their world into our contemporary socio-scientific world. Second, the apparent discontinuity between the Old Testament and the New Testament. Nevertheless, right from the start it must be pointed out that this problem is nothing new.

It is for reasons such as these that the church guards this earthly treasures of sacred writings we call the bible. she begins this guardianship by establishing of importance within the writings themselves  The priority is as follows: first the Gospels, then the Apostolic writings, and finally the Hebraic writings. 

Why does she guard the Hebraic writings? Because our Lord teaches us that the Old Testament speaks of the true God and of Him. The Old Testament was the daily liturgical texts used by the Lord and the Apostles, and what they used to teach the faithful about God and salvation. 

This Hebrew canon, is comprised of the Law, the prophets, the didactic books (the Psalter), and the historical books. As such, the church has accepted these books. Referring to them Saint Paul writes to Timothy:

From a child thou hast known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
This means that if one reads the Old Testament wisely, then one will find in them the path which leads to strengthening in Christianity. 
All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness (2 Tim. 3:16).
However, unlike the Jews who rejected the Lord, the church followed the Lord and the Apostles and thus retained the use of the of the Greek Old Testament (LXX).  This version of the Old Testament was rejected at Jamnia (90 AD) by the Jews for anti-Christian reasons.

Not only does the church retain the whole Old Testament, but she also interprets it according to the religion found in the New Testament. Consequently, she sums up and completes the Old Testament faith with the faith of the Lord and the Apostles.

Nevertheless, it is also true that the role of the Old Testament has seen lesser use of the church than the New. Why?  Because historically it has been a challenge to get copies if it for public use. Only the Psalter has enjoyed equal use to the New Testament. It is only after the printing press that the whole bible been easily possessed.


The greatest challenge to understanding the Old Testament is the failure to grasp that it can only be properly understood in a particular light, the light that proceeds from the church. To this end we have the writings of the fathers, from them we learn that they are to be "searched" for promises, prophecies, types, and anti-types of the Lord Christ.

Understandest thou what thou readest? He replied, how can I except some man should guide me? (Acts 8:30-31).

Any other way of reading the Old Testament other than under the light of the church is like that of the Hebrews who have a veil over their understanding. Without the sunlight of the gospel they remain old and decaying, as the apostle said of them:

That which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away, as the apostle expresses it (heb. 8:13).
The historical-grammatical methodology will not do! Only the prophetic and typological approach completes the proper understanding. Why?

Because the Old Testament is the shadow of good things to come (Heb. 10:1). The Lord said: they [the Old Testament scriptures] are they which testify of me.

St. Paul said:

Even unto this day, when Moses is read, the veil is upon their hearts: with them it remaineth untaken away in the reading of the old testament, that is to say, they are not spiritually enlightened unto faith. However, when they shall turn to the lord, the veil shall be taken away (2 Cor. 3:14-16).
 The kingdom of the chosen people of old has come to an end, the kingdom of Christ has come: the law and the prophets were until john; from henceforth the kingdom of God is proclaimed (Luke 16:16).

Protopresbyter Michael Pomazanski writes the following:
In the Patristic writings and the hymns in the church services the old and new testaments are constantly being contrasted: 

· Adam and Christ, eve and the mother of God.

· There, the earthly paradise; here, the heavenly paradise.

· Through the woman came sin; through the virgin, salvation.

· The eating of the fruit unto death; the partaking of the holy gifts unto life.

· There, the forbidden tree; here, the saving cross.

· There it is said, ye shall die the death; here, today shalt thou be with me in paradise.

· There, the serpent, the deceiver; here, Gabriel, the preacher of good tidings.

· There, the woman is told, in sorrow shalt thou bring forth children; here, the women at the tomb are told, rejoice.

· The parallel is made throughout the entirety of the two testaments.

· Salvation from the flood in the ark; salvation in the church.

· The three strangers with Abraham; the gospel truth of the Holy Trinity.

· The offering of Isaac as sacrifice; the saviors’ death on the cross.

· The ladder which Jacob saw as in a dream; the mother of God, the ladder of the son of God's descent to earth.

· The sale of Joseph by his brothers; the betrayal of Christ by Judas.

· Slavery in Egypt; the spiritual slavery of mankind to the devil.

· The departure from Egypt; salvation in Christ.

· Crossing the red sea; holy baptism.

· The unconsumed bush; the perpetual virginity of the mother of god.

· The Sabbath; the day of resurrection.

· The ritual of circumcision; the mystery of baptism.

· Manna; the Lord's Supper of the New Testament.

· The law of Moses; the law of the gospel.

· Sinai; the Sermon on the Mount.

· The tabernacle; the New Testament church.

· The Ark of the Covenant; the mother of God.

· The serpent on the staff; the nailing of Christ to the cross.

· Aaron's rod which blossomed; the rebirth in Christ…

The church presents us with this kind of incomparable overview of the Old Testament in the Canon of Saint Andrew. There we learn not only the historical-grammatical meaning, but also the spiritual meaning of the Old Testament.


Without this proper ordering of the Old Testament under the light of the church, we fail to grasp the full human need for the savior. Moreover, we miss all that the lord god did to bring this salvation to us. Nor must we lose sight of the purely moral edification which the Old Testament contains. We too can profit from this edification. The church constantly places before our mind's eye the image of the three children in the Babylonian furnace.

The time would fail me, to tell of Gideon, and of Barak, and of Sampson, and of Jephthae, of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets: who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens ... Of whom the world was not worthy: they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth (Heb. 11:32-34, 38)

The main point to be understood is that in the church "everything goes in its proper place." We know the Ten Commandments, but we look at them through the Beatitudes and the Sermon on the Mount; the gospel orders the Old Testament.

Neither the tabernacle, nor Solomon’s temple exist any more; yet we study their construction because many symbols of the New Testament are contained in their ordinances. In church we hear readings from the prophets; but they are not offered to us so that we may know the fate of the peoples who surrounded Palestine, but because in these readings prophecies are made of Christ and the events of the gospel.


Today however, there exist three groups which fail to grasp the proper order of the relationship of these sacred writings.

The first group: there is a twofold truth that cannot be set aside: the church's faith is illumined by the bible, and the bible is illumined by the one true faith of the church. Unfortunately, in recent history (15th century) we see that some loved the bible but not that light that illumines the bible's understanding. Consequently, these individuals studied the Old Testament to its minutest detail, and allowed it's three fourths volume an equal voice with the New Testament Unconstrained by the Gospels or Epistles, these reformers ended up with a Judaized faith of law, a faith where the Ten Commandments stand above Beatitudes.

The second group: this group does not make the Judaizing error but misses the spirit of the relationship of the spirit Old Testament and the New Testament they determine that it is the worship of the Old Testament that has ceased, and thus reject the historic worship passed down to the church by the Lord and the Apostles. They bring themselves under the apostolic condemnation:

Thou that abhorrest idols, dost thou commit sacrilege? (Rom. 2:22)

The third group: this group for either simplistic or prejudicial reasons rejects the entire Old Testament as Hebraic, and not for the church.

The consequences of this disordering of the sacred scripture sand the sacred faith has led to the loss of dogmatic faith and the Christian ethos. It is impossible to be fed by the scripture alone without the one faith of the church to illumine it with its grace.

It is not saying too much when we assert that the massive propagation of the scriptures, and open the door to massive heresy and irreverence towards scripture.

Our task is to protect ourselves from these contemporary confusions and contestations by keeping the right ordering of the Old Testament

Saint John of Kronstadt advises:

"When you doubt in the truth of any person or any event described in holy scripture, then remember that all scripture is given by inspiration of God (2 Tim. 3:16), as the apostle says, and is therefore true, and does not contain any imaginary persons, fables, and tales, although it includes parables which everyone can see are not actual narratives, but are written in figurative language. The whole of the word of god is one, entire, indivisible truth; and if you assert that any narrative, sentence or word is untrue, then you sin against the truth of the whole of holy scripture and its primordial truth, which is god himself." (My Life in Christ, Saint John of Kronstadt, p. 70).

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Saved To The Max!

In Orthodoxy (and therefore in scripture), salvation is viewed in maximal rather than minimal terms. In his book Orthodox Spiritual Life according to St. Silouan the Athonite, Harry Boosalis of St. Tikhon’s Seminary writes:

“For the Orthodox Church, salvation is more than the pardon of sins and transgressions. It is more than being justified or acquitted for offenses committed against God. According to Orthodox teaching, salvation certainly includes forgiveness and justification, but is by no means limited to them. For the Fathers of the Church, salvation is the acquisition of the Grace of the Holy Spirit. To be saved is to be sanctified and to participate in the life of God—indeed to become partakers of the Divine Nature (2 Peter 1:4).”

In Orthodoxy, salvation means not simply changing God’s attitude, but changing ourselves and being changed by God. Salvation ultimately means deification; and deification, as we have seen, entails transformation. It is being united with God ever more fully through His Grace, His Uncreated Energy, in which He is fully present. As we participate ever more fully in God’s life through His Grace, we become ever more deified, ever more in the likeness of Christ. Then, at the time of our departure from this life, we can dwell forever with Christ in His Kingdom because we “look like Him” spiritually, because we are shining with the Grace of God.

By Hieromonk Damascene

Monday, October 22, 2012

Legal Security vs. Conditional Security- a biblical analysis

Did the early apostolic church believe in the “once saved, always saved” teaching of the contemporary church?

The short answer is NO! The early church believed and taught that a person must be humble and faithful in order to stay on the long path of salvation. 

Why did the early church reject this teaching? Because “once saved, always saved” presupposes that salvation is a once and for all completed “event” that happens at a particular time, simply by a legal transaction.  It is this reduction of salvation to a legal pronunciation that the church rejected.  In fact, that legal framework for theology is of pagan Roman origins and not of apostolic origins.  

Roman paganism that believed that if a religious rite was done properly, the gods were bound by law to deliver what the rite sought (The Nature of the God’s – Cicero).  This legal binding of the gods made its way into Christianity through Origen, Augustine  and Anselm.  Once this foreign legalism made its way to Christianity, some concluded that  if "baptism" (or any other legal act, such as a one time repentance and profession of faith) was carried out rightly, then God would legally bound to save that person. it is from this legal framework that the teaching of "once saved, always saved" finds it origins!

However, the early Church, and consequently today’s Orthodox Church, has always rejected 
the legal framework.  The apostolic church has never believed that God is bound by the rubrics of a courtroom.  The early church affirms that salvation indeed includes forgiveness, but justification is the consequence and outcome of  love in a royal family, not in a courtroom.

According to the apostles, salvation is in itself  "a two-way living relationship of love between a person and God." Therefore, if salvation is to occur, this relationship must endure to the end. For this reason, salvation in its fullness cannot be said to be complete until the person is fully transformed into the image and likeness of God. That transformation will not occur until the resurrection takes place, only then will Christ will be all in all. 

The Scriptures affirm that God has freely made us in his image, and as His image we are given with the ability to choose.  If  God were to override our free choice, especially when it comes to co-operating with his grace, then this would be a violation of His image. Moreover, this human love towards God would be the result of a reprogramming by God. This reprogramming would cause a coerced relationship. Imagine if one could reprogram another person to love them, would that be genuine love? As that the only way God can be loved, by reprogramming persons? No!

We have the have been given capability to love or reject God while we exist in the flesh. This is not to say that our wills are not corrupt, they truly are. Yet, we can receive grace, and by that grace we can be healed and freely love God.  If we simply take the witness scripture at face value, and set aside a preconceived systematic theology it is easy to see this voluntary nature of our relationship God.  

Consider the words of St. Paul:

26 Therefore I do not run like one who runs aimlessly or box like one beating the air. 27 Instead, I discipline my body and bring it under strict control, so that after preaching to others, I myself will not be disqualified. (1 Cor. 9:26-27).
St. Paul makes it clear that he sees the need to work at his salvation in order to attain that for which he has hoped for. And yet, he also knew that he was not working under his own power, but in the power of God. this is what is called synergy. Thus he urged the Philippians:

12 So then, my dear friends, just as you have always obeyed, not only in my presence, but now even more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. 13 For it is God who is working in you, enabling you both to desire and to work out His good purpose. (Phil. 2:12-13)
The apostles did not doubt the power of God, and neither do we doubt that God is able to keep all that come to Him. But, we acknowledged that He will not keep them against their will, or to say it another way, if God will not override the rejection of those who choose not to co-operate with His grace. Salvation must be a free and willing relationship, or it is no relationship at all. 

Therefore the Christian remains ever vigilant lest he fall. In the Orthodox Study Bible we find these comments: 

“And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But he who endures to the end shall be saved. Mar 13:13 NKJV
“There is security of salvation of him who endures to the end, but it is not ours to say when the race is over. The modern innovative doctrine of “eternal security”—once saved, always saved—is not the teaching of Jesus; rather, He teaches the endurance of the faithful through God’s strength and grace.”
The point that must be understood here is that the Lord knows who will and who not endure to the end. He foreknows all things, and exists outside of temporal time.  Yet, as part of His eternal plan he pre-ordained that "all who will be saved do something." WHAT?  They must receive His grace, and through that grace: 
1] Repent,
2] Believe in Him, 
3] & endure in love towards Him until the end of their lives.  
God does not repent, believe, or endure in love for us, that is ours to do!
This need for us to freely choose to cling to God's grace in order to do these things is the overwhelming witness of scripture, as well as that of the apostolic church.  Consider the following verses:
12 Not that I have already reached the goal or am already fully mature, but I make every effort to take hold of it because I also have been taken hold of by Christ Jesus. 13 Brothers, I do not consider myself to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead, 14 I pursue as my goal the prize promised by God’s heavenly call in Christ Jesus. 15 Therefore, all who are mature should think this way. And if you think differently about anything, God will reveal this also to you. 16 In any case, we should live up to whatever truth we have attained. Php 3:12-16 HCSB 
According to St. Paul we are to be zealous to press on (v. 12) toward the completion of our salvation, the prize of the upward call of God (v. 14)—the resurrection to eternal life.

The possibility of an evil heart overturning our love is a present reality.
Heb 3:12-15 NKJV Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; (13) but exhort one another daily, while it is called “Today,” lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. (14) For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end, (15) while it is said: “Today, if you will hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.”

According to this passage those in Christ are not immune from turning away from God. We know for certain that there is a temporary attractiveness in sin, which leads to a hardened heart and ultimately to apostasy. Therefore, constant care must be taken not to be deceived and thus fall away (see Mark 4:4, 6, 16, 17). According to these words, union with Christ belongs to those who persevere in their faith to the end, not to those who stop with a one-time profession of faith. Faith (3:19) and obedience are inseparable. Lack of one is lack of the other. Lack of either bars entrance into rest. 

Therefore the author of Hebrews writes:

Heb 6:4-6 NKJV For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, (5) and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, (6) if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame.
This clearly refers to those who once believed but now have apostatized—that is those who, after being baptized, have rejected Christ and His saving power.

Consider St. Peter’s words:

2 Pe 1:9-11 NKJV For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins. (10) Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; (11) for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
In his critique of the Gnostics who claimed to know God without becoming godlike St. Peter makes it plain that this framework is not Christian. Why? Because we reach participation with God though the increase of spiritual virtues, not the absence of them. 

As with all eschatological warnings in the New Testament, admittance to God’s kingdom is conditional upon a faith which exhibits perseverance and holiness. However, some Christians are so romanced by the world (2:15-17) that they stand in danger of falling away from God (5:21). John exhorts us to detach ourselves from the world in order to serve the living God.

1 Jn 5:13 NKJV These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.
When we know we have been given the gift of eternal life, we are to continue to believe and follow the Son of God.

Rev 2:10-11 NKJV “Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life. (11) “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death.”‘
Christ encourages faithfulness to the end. The crown of life is an allusion to the wreath awarded to a victor in an arena (Phil. 3:14; 2 Tim. 2:5; 1 Pet. 5:4), is the reward of eternal life granted to those who conquer in Christ. The second death (v. 11) indicates eternal damnation, the “lake of fire,” wherein sinners will receive their reward of final and lasting estrangement from God (20:6, 14, 15; 21:8).

Rev 21:6-8 NKJV And He said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. (7) “He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son. (8) “But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”
Repeating the concluding exhortation in each of the seven letters (chapters 2; 3), only he who overcomes (v. 7), and who persists in his allegiance to God, will inherit, becoming a permanent son of God. Those who fall away through cowardice or unbelief face instead the lake of fire (v. 8). They lose God’s inheritance, receiving instead the damning recompense of sin and death (see 20:15; 22:15), in company with the Beast, the False Prophet, Death, and Hades.

In summary, the view of the apostles, the early church, and of the Orthodox Church is that of “Conditional Perseverance.” He who overcomes to the end shall inherit all things.

Monday, October 15, 2012

More On Sacred Tradition

In the original precise meaning of the word, Sacred Tradition is the tradition which comes from the ancient Church of Apostolic times. In the second to the fourth centuries this was called "the Apostolic Tradition." 

One must keep in mind that the ancient Church carefully guarded the inward life of the Church from those outside of her; her Holy Mysteries were secret, being kept from non-Christians. When these Mysteries were performed — Baptism or the Eucharist — those outside the Church were not present; the order of the services was not written down, but was only transmitted orally; and in what was preserved in secret was contained the essential side of the faith. St. Cyril of Jerusalem (4th century) presents this to us especially clearly. In undertaking Christian instruction for those who had not yet expressed a final decision to become Christians, the hierarch precedes his teachings with the following words: 
"When the catechetical teaching is pronounced, if a catechumen should ask you, 'What did the instructors say?' you are to repeat nothing to those who are without (the church). For we are giving to you the mystery and hope of the future age. Keep the Mystery of Him Who is the Giver of rewards. May no one say to you, 'What harm is it if I shall find out also?' Sick people also ask for wine, but if it is given at the wrong time it produces disorder to the mind, and there are two evil consequences; the sick one dies, and the physician is slandered" (Prologue to the Catechetical Lectures, ch. 12).

In one of his further homilies St. Cyril again remarks: 
"We include the whole teaching of faith in a few lines. And I would wish that you should remember it word for word and should repeat it among yourselves with all fervor, without writing it down on paper, but noting it by memory in the heart. And you should beware, lest during the time of your occupation with this study none of the catechumens should hear what has been handed down to you" (Fifth Catechetical Lecture, ch. 12). 
In the introductory words which he wrote down for those being "illumined" — that is, those who were already coming to Baptism, and also to those present who were baptized — he gives the following warning: 
"This instruction for those who are being illumined is offered to be read by those who are coming to Baptism and by the faithful who have already received Baptism; but by no means give it either to the catechumens or to anyone else who has not yet become a Christian, otherwise you will have to give an answer to the Lord. And if you make a copy of these catechetical lectures, then, as before the Lord, write this down also" (that is, this warning; End of the Prologue to the Catechetical Lectures). (These three citations may be found in St. Cyril, Catetechical Lectures, Eerdmans ed. pp. 4, 32, 5.)

This strictness with regard to the revelation of the Christian Mysteries (Sacraments) to outsiders is no longer preserved to such a degree in the Orthodox Church. The exclamation, "Catechumens depart!" before the Liturgy of the Faithful is still proclaimed, it is true, but hardly anywhere in the Orthodox world are catechumens or the non-Orthodox actually told to leave the church at this time. (In some churches they are only asked to stand in the back part of the church, in the narthex, but can still observe the service). The full point of such an action is lost in our times, when all the "secrets" of the Christian Mysteries are readily available to anyone who can read, and the text of St. Cyril's Catechetical Lectures has been published in many languages and editions. However, the great reverence which the ancient Church showed for the Christian Mysteries, carefully preserving them from the gaze of those who were merely curious, or those who, being outside the Church and uncommitted to Christianity, might easily misunderstand or mistrust them — is still kept by Orthodox Christians today who are serious about their faith. Even today we are not to "cast our pearls before swine" — to speak much of the Mysteries of the Orthodox Faith to those who are merely curious about them but do not to seek to join themselves to the Church.)

We find this sacred ancient Tradition
  • in the most ancient record of the Church, the Canons of the Holy Apostles; (See above note on the Canons of the Holy Apostles)
  • in the Symbols of Faith of the ancient local churches;
  • in the ancient Liturgies, in the rite of Baptism, and in other ancient prayers;
  • in the ancient Acts of the Christian martyrs. The Acts of the martyrs did not enter into use by the faithful until they had been examined and approved by the local bishops; and they were read at the public gatherings of Christians under the supervision of the leaders of the churches. In them we see the confession of the Most Holy Trinity, the Divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ, examples of the invocation of the saints, of belief in the conscious life of those who had reposed in Christ, and much else;
  • in the ancient records of the history of the Church, especially in the book of Eusebius Pamphilus, Bishop of Caesarea, (English translation: Eusebius: The History of the Church from Christ to Constantine, tr. by G.A. Williamson, Penguin Books, Baltimore, 1965) where there are gathered many ancient traditions of rite and dogma — in particular, there is given the canon of the sacred books of the Old and New Testaments;
  • in the works of the ancient Fathers and teachers of the Church;
  • and, finally, in the very spirit of the Church's life, in the preservation of faithfulness to all her foundations which come from the Holy Apostles.
The Apostolic Tradition which has been preserved and guarded by the Church, by the very fact that it has been kept by the Church, becomes the Tradition of the Church herself, it "belongs" to her, it testifies to her; and, in parallel to Sacred Scripture it is called by her, "Sacred Tradition."

The witness of Sacred Tradition is indispensable for our certainty that all the books of Sacred Scripture have been handed down to us from Apostolic times and are of Apostolic origin. Sacred Tradition is necessary for the correct understanding of separate passages of Sacred Scripture, and for refuting heretical reinterpretations of it, and, in general, so as to avoid superficial, one-sided, and sometimes even prejudiced and false interpretations of it.

Finally, Sacred Tradition is also necessary because some truths of the faith are expressed in a completely definite form in Scripture, while others are not entirely clear and precise and therefore demand confirmation by the Sacred Apostolic Tradition.

The Apostle commands:
 "Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle" (2 Thess. 2:15).
Besides all this, Sacred Scripture is valuable because from it we see how the whole order of Church organization, the canons, the Divine Services and rites are rooted in and founded upon the way of life of the ancient Church. Thus, the preservation of "Tradition" expresses the succession of the very essence of the Church.

From:  Orthodox Dogmatic Theology
       Protopresbyter Michael Pomazansky

Friday, October 5, 2012

Tradition and Scripture

St. Basil the Great says of this as follows:

   Of the doctrines and injunctions kept by the Church, some we have from written instruction. but some we have received from, apostolical tradition, by succession in private. Both the former and the latter have one and the same force for piety, and this will be contradicted by no one who has ever so little knowledge in the ordinances of the Church; for were we to dare to reject unwritten customs, as if they had no great importance, we should insensibly mutilate the Gospel, even in the most essential points, or, rather, for the teaching of the Apostles leave but an empty name. For instance, let us mention before all else the very first and commonest act of Christians, that they who trust in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ should sign themselves with the sign of the cross--who hath taught this by writing? To turn to the east in prayer--what Scripture have we for this? The words of invocation in the change of the Eucharistic bread and of the Cup of blessing--by which of the Saints have they been left us in writing? for we are not content with those words which the Apostle or the Gospel records, but both before them and after them, we pronounce others also, which we hold to be of great force for the sacrament, though we have received them from unwritten teaching.
   By what Scripture is it, in like manner, that we bless the water of baptism, the oil of unction, and the person himself who is baptized? Is it not by a silent and secret tradition? What more? The very practice itself of anointing with oil--what written word have we for it? Whence is the rule of trine immersion? and the rest of the ceremonies at baptism, the renunciation of Satan and his angels?--from what Scripture are they taken? Are they not all from this unpublished and private teaching, which our Fathers kept under a reserve inaccessible to curiosity and profane disquisition, having been taught as a first principle to guard by silence the sanctity of the mysteries? for how were it fit to publish in writing the doctrine of those things, on which the unbaptized may not so much as look? (Can. xcvii. De Spir. Sanct. c. xxvii.)

The words of Saint Basil are shocking to most American Christians, why? Because they expose the weakness of the "sola scriptura" model established at the reformation.  It was not until the abuses of the Roman church that "holy tradition- paradosis" received a bad name.  Long before Rome's innovations the church held to one opinion regarding the relationship between tradition and scripture.

According to Basil, "Both the former (written tradition- scripture) and the latter (oral tradition) have one and the same force for piety, and this will be contradicted by no one who has ever so little knowledge in the ordinances of the Church."  Here is where the "yes but" takes place for many.  Yes, but how do we know what this apostolic tradition is?  This is where the ancient teaching of the church sorts the matter out.  Consider the longer catechism of the Orthodox Church.

On Holy Tradition and Holy Scripture.

16. How is divine revelation spread among men and preserved in the true Church?

By two channels--holy tradition and holy Scripture.

17. What is meant by the name holy tradition?

By the name holy tradition is meant the doctrine of the faith, the law of God, the sacraments, and the ritual as handed down by the true believers and worshipers of God by word and example from one to another, and from generation to generation.

18. Is there any sure repository of holy tradition?

All true believers united by the holy tradition of the faith, collectively and successively, by the will of God, compose the Church; and she is the sure repository of holy tradition, or, as St. Paul expresses it, The Church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth. 1 Tim. iii. 15.

St. Irenæus writes thus:

We ought not to seek among others the truth, which we may have for asking from the Church; for in her, as in a rich treasure-house, the Apostles have laid up in its fullness all that pertains to the truth, so that whosoever seeketh may receive from her the food of life. She is the door of life. (Adv. Hæres. lib. iii. c. 4.)

19. What is that which you call holy Scripture?

Certain books written by the Spirit of God through men sanctified by God, called Prophets and Apostles. These books are commonly termed the Bible.

20. What does the word Bible mean?

It is Greek, and means the books. The name signifies that the sacred books deserve attention before all others.

21. Which is the more ancient, holy tradition or holy Scripture?

The most ancient and original instrument for spreading divine revelation is holy tradition. From Adam to Moses there were no sacred books. Our Lord Jesus Christ himself delivered his divine doctrine and ordinances to his Disciples by word and example, but not by writing. The same method was followed by the Apostles also at first, when they spread abroad the faith and established the Church of Christ. The necessity of tradition is further evident from this, that books can be available only to a small part of mankind, but tradition to all.

22. Why, then, was holy Scripture given?

To this end, that divine revelation might be preserved more exactly and unchangeably. In holy Scripture we read the words of the Prophets and Apostles precisely as if we were living with them and listening to them, although the latest of the sacred books were written a thousand and some hundred years before our time.

23. Must we follow holy tradition, even when we possess holy Scripture?

We must follow that tradition which agrees with the divine revelation and with holy Scripture, as is taught us by holy Scripture itself. The Apostle Paul writes: Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word or our epistle. 2 Thess. ii. 15.

24. Why is tradition necessary even now?

As a guide to the right understanding of holy Scripture, for the right ministration of the sacraments, and the preservation of sacred rites and ceremonies in the purity of their original institution.

Monday, September 10, 2012

The Atonement- Legal or Therapeutic?

Most western Christians, Protestant or Catholic, are familiar with the doctrine of “Atonement by Penal Substitution.” However, very few western Christians are familiar with the earliest view of atonement held by the Eastern Orthodox Church. The Orthodox view has come to be called, "Atonement by Recapitulation.” 
What exactly is the Penal Substitution view of the Atonement?
This penal substitution view focuses on Christ’s suffering and death as the price for man’s sin. 
The model for Atonement is primarily that of a courtroom.  Mankind enters God’s courtroom "guilty of sin, a cosmic crime against God."
Due to his sin, man needed to be  made right with a perfect and just God.  Therefore,  Christ came to suffer and pay the price in our place, i.e., He substituted Himself for us.  Now, in the courtroom of God, those who accept Christ as their Lord and Savior are judged innocent.   They have a forensic righteousness imputed upon them.
What is the origin of the penal substitution theory?
Penal substitition originated in the fifth century with Augustine's concept of the “seminal” transmission of the guilt and defect of original sin.  Augustine taught that humanity was placed into a “lump of sin,” justly condemned to death and damnation by God, and incapable of salvation without the intervention of God’s prevenient Grace.   Augustine also posited that Christ’s death offered God a vicarious or substitionary satisfaction of the sentence placed upon humankind by God.
In the eleventh century St. Anselm of Canterbury later developed these ideas into legalistic terms: According to Anselm, humanity had “transgressed” God’s law, thereby earning from God a condemnation of death, which death sentence was paid on our behalf by Christ.
This concept of Christ’s atoning work was later embraced by the sixteenth century Reformers, and thus became the predominant way of understanding Christ’s saving us.  Calvin, Luther, and their followers further developed Augustine’s notions of original sin and predestination in the direction of a denial of human free will.
What is the Recapitulation View?
The “Recapitulation View” agrees that  God needed to deal with man’s sin.  Man was separated from God as a result of the fall and, left to his own devices,   was incapable of  returning to God.  However,
The Recapitulation model sees the means through which God dealt with man’s sin  as a hospital rather than a courtroom.  
Instead of viewing the atonement as Christ paying the price for sin in order to satisfy a wrathful God, the Recapitulation view teaches that Christ became human AND RECAPPED, or gathered all things to himself, in order to heal mankind by perfectly uniting the human nature to  the Divine Nature  in His person. 
What is the origin of the Recapitulation view?
Justin the Martyr (1st cent.)
The “Recapitulation View” dates to very early in the Church.  We find its earliest record inthe first century with the writings of Justin the Martyr, a disciple of Saint John the Apostle, and perhaps of Saint Paul also. In his book against Marcion, Justin writes:
"I would not have believed the Lord Himself, if He had announced any other than He who is our framer, maker, and nourisher. But because the only-begotten Son came to us from the one God, who both made this world and formed us, and contains and administers all things, summing up (recapitulating) His own handiwork in Himself, my faith towards Him is steadfast, and my love to the Father immoveable, God bestowing both upon us."
Saint Iranaeus (2nd cent)
In the second century, there are further treatments of the subject in the writings of Saint Irenaeus, a disciple of Polycarp, who was a disciple of Saint John, the Apostle also.  Like Saint Paul, Irenaeus saw the "recapitulation" in Christ as both cosmic and historical.
Since both human existence and all of nature fell in Adam, God sent His Son to be the New Man, who would restore and transform all things. By the Incarnation, "the Word saved that which really existed — the humanity which had perished — effecting by means of Himself that communion which should be held with it, and seeking out its salvation.” Because man fell in the flesh, it was proper that he should be redeemed in the flesh: “But the thing which had perished possessed flesh and blood. For the Lord, taking dust from the earth, molded man; and it was upon his behalf that all the dispensation [oikonomia] of the Lord's advent took place. He Himself, therefore, had flesh and blood, recapitulating in Himself not just anybody, but that original handiwork of the Father, seeking out the very thing which had perished" (Against the Heresies 5.14.2).
According to the tradition (paradosis) passed on to Iranaeus, what humanity lost in Adam, it regained and transformed in Christwhen God's Son became man.
"He commenced afresh the long line of human beings, and furnished us with salvation in a succinct, inclusive manner, so that what we had lost in Adam — namely, to be according to the image and likeness of God — that we might recover in Christ Jesus" (3.18.1).
“But what he did appear, that he also was: God recapitulated in himself the ancient formulation of man, that he might kills in, deprive death of its power, and vivify man; and therefore his works are true” (3.18.7).
 “So did he who was the Word, recapitulating Adam in himself, rightly receive a birth, enabling him to gather up Adam [into himself]… making a recapitulation in himself… that the very same formation should be summed up [recapitulated] in Christ” (3.21.10).
Saint Athanasius (early 4thcent.)
We find the same recapitulation view throughout the writings of the early Church Fathers.    In AD 318 Saint Athanasius wrote, On The Incarnation wherein he explains the recapitulation view very clearly.
Jesus “surrendered his body to death  instead of all, and offered it to the Father.   This he did out of sheer love for us, so that in his death all might die, and the law of death thereby be abolished because, having fulfilled (recapitulated) in his body that for which it was appointed, it was thereafter voided of its power for men”(2.8). In this way did he become “in dying a sufficient   exchange for all”(2.9).
“For the solidarity of mankind is such that, by virtue of the Word’s indwelling in a single body, the corruption which goes with death has lost its power over all” (2.9).
Christ, the incarnate Word, himself offered “the sacrifice on behalf of all, surrendering his own temple [body] to death in place of all, to settle man’s account with death   and free him from the primal transgression” (4.20).
If then, “any honest Christian wants to know why he suffered death on the cross and not in some other way, we answer thus: in no other way was it expedient for us, indeed  the Lord offered for our sakes the one death that was supremely good. He had come to bear the curse that was on us; and how could he ‘become a curse’ otherwise than by accepting the accursed death? And that death is the cross, for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone that hangeth on a tree’” (4.25). 
This Orthodox view of the bible’s teaching on the substitionary atonement of Christ by way of recapitulation has been retained by the Orthodox Church throughout history without change or modification.  It is also clearly found in the writings of Maximos the Confessor (8th cent.),Symeon the New Theologian (11th cent), Gregory Palamas (14thcent.), and every other prominent defender of Orthodoxy.
How does the recapitulation view work?
Through the Incarnation, Christ took on  human nature, becoming the Second Adam, and entered into every  stage of humanity, from infancy to adulthood, uniting it to God.   He then suffered death to enter Hades and destroy it.  After three days, He resurrected and completed His task by destroying death.
Is there a substitution involved?
Yes. By entering and assuming each of these stages of humanity and remaining perfectly obedient to the Father, Christ recapitulated every aspect of human nature.  He said “Yes” where Adam said “No” and healed what Adam’s actions had  damaged.  His substituted the Old Adam for the New Adam, and become our substitute.
What does Christ's recapitulation bring about?
As the new Adam, Christ's enables all of those  who are willing to say yes to God to be perfectly united with the Holy Trinity through Christ’s person.  In addition, by destroying death, Christ reversed the consequence of the fall.  Now, all can be resurrected.  Those who choose to live their life in Christ can be perfectly united to the Holy Trinity, receiving the full love of God as Heavenly bliss.  However, those who reject Christ and choose to live their lives chasing after their passions will receive the love of God as hell.
Because of its focus on unification between God and man in the person of Christ, Recapitulation places great importance on the teaching that Christ  is bothfully man and fully God.  If Christ did not have both natures, He would have been incapable of uniting humanity to divinity, which was the entire purpose of the Incarnation.  As Saint Gregory of Nazianzus said in the fourth century:
That which is not assumed is not healed, butthat which is united to God is saved.”