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

Tuesday, August 28, 2012


Light & Fire

From the earliest days, Christians believed and taught that there is an uncreated light and fire that eternally emanates from God's divine nature. Because these emanations existed from eternity, they are called “uncreated,” and operate in the same way as God’s love, which also existed before the creation of the cosmos.

This uncreated light and fire of God are revealed in multiple places in the scriptures.

And the Angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire from the midst of a bush. So he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, but the bush was not consumed. Exo 3: 2

On Mount Sinai, the bush was on fire, and from it came a light, yet the bush was not burned or destroyed; the bush was able to bear the fire. In the account, the voice of God came from the bush.

The early church understood that the uncreated light and fire of God play a significant role in God's interaction with creation, and particularly with mankind. In the account above, an unprepared bush experienceing the light and fire of God would be consumed. However, it states that the bush was able to bear the light of God: How is this possible? Because, it was made holy.

"Do not draw near this place. Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground." Exo 3: 4

The New Testament goes further, and reveals that “the uncreated light” emanates from the Lord Jesus Christ, who is God and man.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.  All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.  In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.  And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it... That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: Jn 1: 1-12

Every creature must be prepared, or made holy, in order to experience the uncreated light of God, just as the bush, being a part of creation, and Moses, being part of mankind, needed to be prepared to see this light and not be consumed.

This preparation to experience the uncreated light of God is now available to all mankind by co-operating with the grace of God. We see an example of this preparation of persons in the account of Jesus’ Transfiguration on Mount Tabor.

He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light.  And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him.  Then Peter answered and said to Jesus, "Lord, it is good for us to be here… Mat 17: 2-4

The disciples were prepared by God. As instructed, they followed the Lord, saw uncreated divine light of God's presence, and yet were not consumed. Why? Because they were prepared by co-operating with the love and grace of God. Others, had they been present and not prepared, would either not have seen it, or been consumed by it. The divine light of God either illumines or consumes; not because of the condition of the light, but because of the condition of the person receiving the light. To one prepared, the light illumines, bringing joy and communion with God. To the unprepared, it is a fire that consumes and destroys.

Heaven & Hell

St. Basil the Great wrote, “The evils of hell do not have God as its cause, but we cause them”. The oldest Creed of the church, “the apostles Creed”, states “I believe in one God the Father Almighty maker of heaven and earth.” It does not state “maker of heaven, hell, and earth.” The reason for this creedal confession is to ensure that all understand that God is not the creator of hell. We humans are the cause of our own suffering. The concept that hell is a place created by God for the express purpose of banishing the wicked for everlasting punishment, is quite different from the most ancient Christian teaching.

The earliest Christian understanding is that heaven and hell are primarily states of “the human soul”. A person’s eternal state is not determined by God’s desire to empty out his wrath to one, or his kindness to another. The scripture tell us that God does not play favorites; no good father does.

Heaven is the soul’s experience of the uncreated light that leads to communion with God for one who is prepared for it, and hell is the soul’s experience of the uncreated light that leads to separation from God one who is unprepared for it.

A person’s eternal state is determined by their individual response to God's love.  God has done all that is necessary to enable men to prepare, He has taken on flesh, He has defeated sin and death, and He has provided eternal life to all mankind.

"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. "For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. "He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. "And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.  "For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. "But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God."

The choice to prepare or not to prepare belongs to each person, and therefore to have light or fire, and heaven or hell is a choice.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Human - Orthodox Dictionary

A human being is a psycho-somatic creature. This compound English word finds it etymological origin in the Greek words psyche, which is translated into the English word “soul”, and the Greek word somos which is translated into the English word “body”.  The term psycho-somatic then literally refers to a creature that is made up of “soul and body”.

However, to be human is not merely to possess soul and body, but to possess a soul and body made “in the image and in the likeness of God”. Therefore, for a creature to be human they must be in the words of the church fathers “god” with a little “g”.  The term refers to the human image and likeness of God and not to the essence of God. In other words, humans are not to be multiple essences of God the Trinity, but rather an essence in which the uncreated energy of the one God is at work, and by the willful cooperation of each person, God is made visible.
Many of the fathers speak this way, and they get the concept from the ancient Hebrew understanding that humans are made for Godlikeness. For example, the Lord Jesus Christ speaks this way in the gospel of St John.

Jn 10: 33 The Jews answered Him, saying, "For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy, and because You, being a Man, make Yourself God." 34 Jesus answered them, "Is it not written in your law, 'I said, "You are gods" '? 35 "If He called them gods, to whom the word of God came (and the Scripture cannot be broken), 36 "do you say of Him whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, 'You are blaspheming,' because I said, 'I am the Son of God'? 37 "If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; 38 "but if I do, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, that you may know and believe that the Father is in Me, and I in Him."

When our Lord says “gods”, He obviously does not mean that humans are little Trinities, or beings equal to or greater than the Trinity, but creatures in whom the Trinity's work or energy is visible. Therefore, to be human is to be God-like. For this reason, it is completely inaccurate to say, “I'm only human,” when a person makes a mistake, or does something improper. In those instances one should say instead, “I'm only in-human”.  To be truly human is to be wholly God-like.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Truth, The Bible, & The Church

In the 2nd decree of “The Confession of Desitheos,” the Jerusalem council authors continue to follow the same general format as the Protestant Reformers.  However, they express quite a different theology than the reformers.  The reformers were unanimous on one view above all others, that the scriptures, in and of themselves, were sufficient, "Sola Scriptura".

A typical example of this conviction can be found in “The Belgic Confession,” Article 7:

The Sufficiency of Scripture

We believe that this Holy Scripture contains the will of God completely and that everything one must believe to be saved is sufficiently taught in it. …

Therefore we must not consider human writings-- no matter how holy their authors may have been-- equal to the divine writings; nor may we put custom, nor the majority, nor age, nor the passage of time or persons, nor councils, decrees, or official decisions above the truth of God, for truth is above everything else.

For all human beings are liars by nature and more vain than vanity itself.

In summary, the reformers state that they find all that they need regarding the revelation and the will of God in one place, the Scriptures.  A problem remains however, how can they be sure that they are not deceived, or errant in their interpretation.   Surely the word of God is perfect, but what about sects, and individual interpreters?

To this problem, the Orthodox respond:

Decree 2- The Holy Scriptures

We believe the Divine and Sacred Scriptures to be God-taught; and, therefore, we ought to believe the same without doubting; yet not otherwise than as the Catholic[1] Church has interpreted and delivered the same.

For every foul heresy accepts the Divine Scriptures, but perversely interprets the same, using metaphors, and homonymies, and sophistries of man’s wisdom, confounding what ought to be distinguished, and trifling with what ought not to be trifled with.

For if [we were to accept Scriptures] otherwise, each man holding every day a different sense concerning them, the Catholic Church[2] would not by the grace of Christ continue to be the Church until this day, holding the same doctrine of faith, and always identically and steadfastly believing. But rather she would be torn into innumerable parties, and subject to heresies. Neither would the Church be holy, the pillar and ground of the truth,[3] without spot or wrinkle; [4] but would be the Church of the malignant as it is obvious the church of the heretics undoubtedly is, and especially that of Calvin, who are not ashamed to learn from the Church, and then to wickedly repudiate her.

Wherefore, the witness also of the Catholic[5] Church is, we believe, not of inferior authority to that of the Divine Scriptures. For one and the same Holy Spirit being the author of both, it is quite the same to be taught by the Scriptures and by the Catholic[6] Church.

Moreover, when any man speaks from himself he is liable to err, and to deceive, and be deceived; but the Catholic[7] Church, as never having spoken, or speaking from herself, but from the Spirit of God — who being her teacher, she is ever unfailingly rich — it is impossible for her to in any wise err, or to at all deceive, or be deceived; but like the Divine Scriptures, is infallible, and has perpetual authority.

What we are told by the Orthodox council is that the scriptures are in fact from God, and they are to be received as such. Yet, they are not to be understood by way of private interpretation. To permit private interpretation is to ensure the tearing asunder of the one church. History proves that they were indeed correct. The world's 7000 (plus) dominations are living proof.

Moreover, the Orthodox confession affirms that the same Spirit that inspired the Scriptures also dwells in the undivided church, and as promised by the Lord has made the church the ground and pillar of truth.

1 Tim 3: 15 but if I am delayed, I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.

For this reason, the Orthodox Church will not affirm that the scriptures are sufficient without the true church to accompany their interpretation. If one has any doubts as to the validity of this, simply start counting denominations formed after the great schism of 1054 AD.

In summary, the Orthodox Church teaches that the Scripture are perfect and the inspired word of God, and that the church is the ground and pillar of truth, the inspired interpreter of the word. To reject this Orthodox claim, is to ensure schisms, sects, and heresies, and worse; the delusion that some particular group has the truth, even when it is opposed to the undivided church.

[1] Catholic is used in its original meaning, and not to identify the Roman Catholic Church.  Catholic literally means, “undivided and of the whole”. The authors are referring to the Holy Orthodox Church when they use the term “Catholic”.
[2] “Undivided and of the whole”.
[3] 1 Tim 3: 15 but if I am delayed, I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.
[4]  Eph 5: 27 that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.
[5] “Undivided and of the whole”. The Orthodox Church.
[6] “Undivided and of the whole”. The Orthodox Church.
[7] ““Undivided and of the whole”. The Orthodox Church.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Dositheos Speaks - Calling All Protestants

As the Influence of the reformation spread throughout Europe in the 17th century, The One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church- the Orthodox Church, found itself forced to respond to the new innovations of theology.  Interestingly enough, they responded to the reformers using the reformers methods. They used a post-reformation style "confession of faith".  I am referring to “The Confession of Dositheos”.  In this document the Eastern Church addresses most particularly the kind of Protestantism innovated by Calvin.

The Confession of Dositheus

Dositheus, by the mercy of God, Patriarch of Jerusalem, to those that ask and inquire concerning the faith and worship of the Greeks, that is of the Eastern Church, how it thinks concerning the Orthodox faith, in the common name of all Christians subject to our Apostolic Throne, and of the Orthodox worshippers that are sojourning in this holy and great city of Jerusalem (with whom the whole Catholic Church agrees in all that concerns the faith) publishes this concise Confession, for a testimony both before God and before man, with a sincere conscience, and devoid of all dissimulation.

Decree 1

We believe in one God, true, almighty, and infinite, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; the Father unbegotten; the Son begotten of the Father before the ages, and consubstantial with Him; and the Holy Spirit proceeding from the Father, and consubstantial with the Father and the Son. These three Persons in one essence we call the All-holy Trinity, — by all creation to be ever blessed, glorified, and adored.

Just like the reformation's confessions, The Augsburg, 39 Articles, Belgic, and Westminster Confessions, Dositheos' confession begins with an Article on “God”. The difference being, the article’s clarity and simplicity. The 1st article states that whatever may known about God,  the most important thing is that God is one essence, and a communion of three persons. Within this tri-personal communion the Father is the original ontological source, the Son is eternally begotten of the Father, and the Spirit finds His original procession from the Father. This article is nothing more than the reaffirmation of the Nicene Trinitarianism that was accepted by the whole undivided church prior to the alterations made inthe Council of Toledo.

Here, the original and unchanging Orthodox Church reminds the Protestant reformers that by accepting the fileoque they are participating in the innovations of Rome and its Schismatic method of determing truth, and thus doing what they are supposedly opposed to. Therefore, in a gentle way, the confession starts off by calling the reformers to the faith of the undivided church. This return to the original faith was after all the impetus behind the entire reformation. In other words, the confession says to the reformers, "if you really want to return to the faith, then return to its God, and to its concilliar method of determing truth."

It seems to me that this is exactly where our conversation with non-Orthodox Christians must begin.  We must discuss who is God at the most basic level, and how truth is to be determined.  The conversation might take place around a set of questions, such as:

  1. Is there a hierarchy in the Godhead?
  2. If so what sort?
  3. What is the significance of the ontology of God? 
  4. What is the purpose of this unity within the Godhead?
  5. How does the alteration of God affect the faith? 
  6. Perhaps the most important question is: who gets to define the faith, the ecumenical councils, local councils, or the individual?
It is very challenging to speak the truth in love, However, this Confession of Dositheos may be just the thing that helps us to speak of Orthodoxy in love, using Protestant language.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

An Overview of the Orthodox Faith


By Carlos Miranda

The views presented here are my own observations, which I admit may unintentionally fail to hold to the fullness of the Orthodox faith.  If so, please forgive me and feel free to correct me; please use legitimate Orthodox sources & not personal opinion, or scriptural quotes interpreted outside the Orthodox faith.

Orthodox Christianity is the author of the original Nicene-Constinopalitan Creed wherein the ultimate statement of its faith is contained.  A particularly exquisite statement of the orthodox faith can also be found in the anaphora to St. Basils Divine Liturgy. Below is my attempt to capture that faith in a concise but clear way.


Orthodox Christians believe in:

·          A God in Trinity, the uncreated Father, the eternally begotten Son, & the life creating Holy Spirit, who is totally united in mind, and will.

·          A God who is righteous: perfect, passionless, love, mercy, kind, patient, just, and unchanging.

·          A God who creates from nothing, not even from archetypes.

·          A God who did not create evil or death.

(Evil and death were created by the devil, a devil who was created by God with the freedom to do so.)

·          A God who willfully created mankind with the freedom to choose, & to do or not to do.

(Hence, every act is always a free choice. To love God and each other is never pre-chosen and imposed by God upon mankind.)
·          A God who desires to be united in communion with his creation and particularly with mankind.

·          A mankind who was made for the wholeness that comes from being filled with the energies (grace) of God, and thus to have unceasing communion With God.

·          A mankind who was deceived by the devil and freely choose to walk apart from God, and thus to experience evil, corruption, and death.

·          A mankind who by choosing to depart from life in God was darkened in the eye of the soul (the nous often, but improperly translated mind), and lost their proper order of heart over all mind and body.

(Fallen man now has a darkened heart; consequently, the intellectual mind and the body rule over the heart resulting in sin, corruption, and death- this is the primary consequence of the fall.)
·          A God of suffering who was slain from the foundation of the world, and who suffered united to mankind before the incarnation, during the incarnation, and even now after the incarnation.

·          A salvation/healing that results in the total satisfaction of Gods righteousness.

(Gods righteousness is all that God is: he is love, mercy, kind, long-suffering, just, etc)

·          A God who in Christ assumed flesh by the power of the Holy Spirit and the willful participation of Virgin Mary (Theotokos) so that men might become like God.

·          A God who desires to save/heal mankind (soter) by way of the Lord Jesus Christ; namely, to heal the darkened heart so that we may have life which is a proper ordering of the image of God, and to do so by His presence within mankind.

·          A salvation/healing that unites man to God by way of atonement (the making of one: at-one-ment) through Christs prophetic, priestly, and kingly work.

·          A Prophetic work of Christ that brings the light and truth of God to the world.

·          A priestly work of Christ (life, passion, crucifixion, and death) that recapitulates mankind in himself as the new Adam (man) and by his perfect self offering in life & death has formed a new race of humans in himself satisfying all righteousness.

·          A kingly work of Christ that is victorious over sin, corruption, and death.

·          A salvation/healing that heals the 1st the heart, 2nd the mind, & 3rd body; once the healing is completed renders man whole and completely perfect, united to God.

·          A salvation/healing that delivers us from personal delusion, and from the tyranny of having to determine truth on our own in the midst of our own brokenness.

·          A salvation/healing that is by pistis (faith/faithfulness) in and to Christ.  

(This faithfulness results in Christ-likeness, and is brought about by believing and acting on those beliefs.  No believing = no healing, & no acting = no healing. Pistis is faithfulness of the heart over both the mind and in the body.)

·          The Holy Spirit who now dwells in every baptized and believing person in Christ, purifying and guiding that person to Christ-likeness.

·          A God who by His Holy Spirit gives His revelation (THE TRUTH) to His One, undivided, and right believing  (Orthodox) church & not to any one individual over or apart from His church.

·          In a God who by His Holy Spirit makes His one church the ground and pillar of the truth, & from her flow:

-The scriptures.

-The apostles, evangelist, teachers, prophets, and their heirs: Bishops, Presbyters, Deacons, and spiritual

-fathers and mothers.

-The Saints, both with a big S, and a small s.

-The writings of the church fathers.

-The ecumenical councils, creeds, encyclicals, and canons.

-The liturgies of the one church.

-The hymnody of the one church.

-The icons.

-The local and global pieties that are practiced.

All of these are the TRUTH that flow from the Orthodox Church!

·          A world wherein those who believe and dwell in the life and faith of the one church can presently live united to the heavens (in small or great degree).

·          A God of love who allows each person to choose to live in Him or apart from him.

·          A God whose wrath has no similitude to human wrath.

(God is unchanging and without passions. His wrath is merely his whole being or righteousness- love, mercy, just etc. experienced by someone who chooses to experience God without salvation/healing. In short, the light of God is for these persons a consuming fire.)

·          A final judgment by God, granting to all person that which they desire and deserve

(For those united to God in Christ, total healing and union, light, & life.  For those not united to God in Christ, & a self-chosen isolation and darkness in the midst of Gods love that causes them to experience the light & love of God as A consuming fire.)

The above list is by no means complete. There are many critical areas of Orthodox doctrine that are not even touched in the list above.  Topics such as Gods essence & energies, hesychasm, the Theotokos, mysteries/sacraments, apostolic succession, monasticism, concilliarity, prayer of the heart, nepsis, and scores upon scores of others topics. Nevertheless, the above does present a very basic portrait of Eastern Orthodoxy for those exploring it.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The Formation of Deacons

(OCA) - Saint Tikhon’s Orthodox Theological Seminary, in an agreement with the Diocese of the South of the Orthodox Church in America, recently announced that applications are now being accepted for entrance into the Diocesan Certificate in Diaconal Formation Program.

The program, which begins September 15, 2012, will be conducted at Christ the Savior Cathedral, Miami Lakes, FL, and is the first such program in the Diocese of the South.

The program, initiated several years ago at Saint Stephen Cathedral, Philadelphia, PA, was eventually expanded with the opening of a second location in Endicott, NY.

“The Diaconal Formation Program is open to Orthodox Christian men who hope to serve the Church in the Holy Diaconate, or who have intentions of future enrollment in full-time seminary degree programs,” according to Priest Joseph Lucas, cathedral associate and director of the Miami program. “The program consists of two years of classes that are offered on Saturdays during the academic year. This allows those enrolled in the program to take seminary-level classes while continuing with their employment responsibilities. Besides class participation, an important part of the program is participation in the divine services and liturgical practicum.

“The courses of the Certificate in Diaconal Formation Program consist of 24 academic credits that subsequently may be transferred towards the completion of a Master of Divinity degree at Saint Tikhon’s Seminary,” Father Joseph added. “A Certificate in Diaconal Formation is awarded at the seminary’s commencement ceremony upon successful completion of the program.”

For additional information, please visit their web site here.

Sikh Temple Shooting- We Are All Children of Eve

By Abbot Tryphom,

The tragic murder of members of the Wisconsin Sikh temple has left me with a sense of deep sadness. That the adherents of such a peaceful religion should be subjected to such a violent attack based on the false premise that they are members of the Islamic faith, is tragic in itself. Equally tragic is the fact that anyone would see fit to attack another person based solely on their religion.

It is a sad part of our fallen condition that we humans are capable of harboring hatred for another human to begin with, but that such hatred could be translated into a violent attack is unconscionable.

Sikhs have sought to end all caste distinctions and vehemently oppose stratification of society by any means, and have diligently worked to create an egalitarian society dedicated to justice and equality. The turban is seen as a gift of love from the founders of the Sikh religion and is symbolic of sovereignty that is of Divine concession. In Sikhism, the practice of allowing one's hair to grow naturally is seen as a symbol of respect for the perfection of God's creation. Sikhs believe in the equality of humankind, the concept of universal brotherhood of man and One Supreme God.

That the followers of such a religion should be subjected to such violent attack is not only an attack on them, but an attack on all human decency and goodness. It is an attack on all of us.

As an Orthodox Christian monk adhering to an ancient tradition of covering my head out of respect for God and refraining from cutting my beard and hair, I feel a certain affinity to Sikh men. For years I have nodded my head and smiled, when coming in contact with Sikh men, and have always received a smile in return. It is with a heavy heart that I ask all of my readers to make a special effort to reach out in all love and charity to the Sikh community in your area. Let them know that you grieve with them, and that you stand with them in their right to dress according to their religious faith and conscience. Let them know that not everyone wishes them ill, but that we stand with them in their hour of grief, pain and sorrow.

The Elder Paisius of Mount Athos said, "You will consider everyone your brother or your sister, for we are all children of Eve."

With love in Christ,
Abbot Tryphon

Monday, August 6, 2012

Praying For The Departed, Why?

When Evangelicals begin to explore Orthodoxy there are several massive speed bumps that immediately come into one’s way. One of these is bumps Orthodoxy’s constant prayers for those who have passed from this life. Upon witnessing this ancient practice of the church, the common question regularly asked is, “why do you Orthodox pray for the dead?”

There are at least four reasons why we pray for the departed.

1] We pray for the departed because in the most ancient understanding of the church, those who have departed this world are still alive.

"For He is not the God of the dead but of the living, for all live to Him."  Lk 20:38.

Therefore, since the departed still live, we continue to interact with them by faith, even though we cannot see them with our physical eyes.

2] We also pray for the departed because Scripture instructs us that those who have passed on are presently watching us in the same way as witnesses watch the unfolding of an event. They can see us and interact with us. As the book of Hebrews says:

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us… Heb 12:1. 

As we see it, creation is a one story universe, totally interconnected for those who can see it by faith.  

3] We pray for the departed because we know that those who have passed on not only see us, but that they continue to care for us, and we for them.

   "Then he (the rich man who had died) cried and said, 'Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.'

   "But Abraham said, 'Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and you are tormented.  'And besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us.'

   "Then he said, 'I beg you therefore, father, that you would send him to my father's house, 'for I have five brothers, that he may testify to them, lest they also come to this place of torment.'  Lk 16:24-28

As we can see in the above parable, love does not stop with one’s passing on to the next life. Just as we care and pray for someone before they pass on; we continue care and pray for them now and they for us. In this parable, it is obvious that the entreaties of the rich man availed little, nevertheless, the scriptures promise that the prayers of the righteous are heard:

 The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much”…  Ja 5: 16.

4] Lastly, we pray for those who have passed because we are commanded by the apostle to pray for everyone without exclusion.

Therefore, I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men…  1 Tim 2:1.

For this same reason, we ask them to pray for us.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Orthodox Dictionary- Theosis

One of the most obvious differences experienced by those who move into Orthodoxy from western Christianity is the different lexicons used by each tradition. By lexicon I mean, our respective wordbooks or dictionaries. Both East and West not only use different terms to describe our faiths and the way it operates, but even when we use the same terms we often mean something altogether different.  The first term I would like to define from the Orthodox dictionary is “Theosis”.

Theosis: The concept of salvation as deification.
Theosis may be summed up in the phrase, "God became human so that humans might become God." This does not mean that humans can be another god or equal to God, but rather that they can hope to participate in the divine nature.  The notion of deification (Theosis in Greek) is based on the perspective that when Christ was incarnate in the man Jesus, he did take on just one human nature, but all of human nature. He thus made it possible for the reverse to occur – for humans to participate in the divine nature. "The Son of God, as the one through whom the process of creation was fulfilled, came down from heaven into the world and became fully man, i.e. assumed human nature in its integrity and led it to the fulfillment of its God-given destiny, deification." This is the teaching of the New Testament, and the Church Fathers from the beginning until today.
The New Testament:
His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.   
      St Peter the Apostle, 2 Pet 1:3-4
The Church Fathers:
We are not made gods from the beginning; first we are mere humans, then we become gods.    
       St. Irenaeus, Adv Haer III IV:38:4

Let us become the image of the one whole God, bearing nothing earthly in ourselves, so that we may consort with God and become gods, receiving from God our existence as gods   
      St. Maximus the Confessor On Theology, 7.73

For the Son of God became man, that we might become God.
     St. Athanasius, De inc.

He has called men gods that are deified of His Grace, not born of His Substance.  
     St. Augustine of Hippo

The Word became flesh and the Son of God became the Son of Man: so that man, by entering into communion with the Word and thus receiving divine sonship, might become a son of God.  
     St. Irenaeus, Adv Haer III

Let us applaud and give thanks that we have become not only Christians but Christ himself. Do you understand, my brothers, the grace that God our head has given us? Be filled with wonder and joy--we have become veritable Christs!   
      St. Augustine of Hippo

The highest of all things desired is to become God.     
      St Basil the Great

Contemporary Fathers:

“Salvation,” is considered a product of that decisive moment which occurred in the in the course of human history though the entrance of the divine into its path. God brings his life to man and man participates in this life, when he lives freely, consciously and existentially, in an unceasing process towards perfection, through strengthening his will and developing his spiritual powers. What happened with the human nature assumed by Christ, is repeated in every man. This is effected by the energy of God and the effort of man in cooperation. This is salvation; completion of personality, transfiguration, elevation to the throne of God, theosis. 
       Panayiotis Christou
Salvation as theosis is understood to be the experience of human participation in God life and power which precisely what is meant by salvation. This is the first word in the “Orthodox Dictionary”.