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(An Introduction to the Orthodox Faith)

by Protopresbyter Fr. George D. Metallinos
Professor Emeritus, Dean of the University of Athens School of Theology


Several years ago I had compiled a number of my studies, which had originally been written in
German for poemantic purposes, as an aid for German visitors in Greece, who desired to learn
about the Orthodox faith and tradition. That book, LEBEN IM LEIBE CHRISTI (Life in the
Body of Christ), Athens 1990, and its acceptance which had given rise to repeated editions, but
also the coercion of spiritual children and friends, were the reasons behind my decision to
repeat that endeavour in English as well.
Thus, a series of my texts from the more recent years was compiled once again for a similar
purpose the presentation of various aspects of the magnitude called ORTHODOXY this time
translated into English, so that they might assist as an introduction to Orthodoxy for English
readers. The translation was undertaken by Mrs. K.N. and I am grateful for this. With this
undertaking, she too has participated in the poemantic aspirations of this book, thus providing
a considerable service to our fellow-man. For this, I ask God to reward her blessed labour as He
sees fit. I have also personally reviewed the translation as regards its theological terminology
and I bear all responsibility for any vagueness or flaws therein. I would also like to express my
gratitude to a brother in Christ and comrade-in-arms, Mr. Thomas F. Dritsas ( Moderator of the
Orthodox Website ), for his addition of the valuable last chapter, as well as
for the other helpful suggestions which he has provided for our readers.
I pray that this book will fulfil the purpose of its compilation, which is none other than the
spherical presentation of ORTHODOXY; that is, the Faith and the Life which were delivered to
us by the Apostles of Christ and our Holy Fathers throughout the ages, as the successors and
the continuers of their work.
I also wish to thank the select friend and collaborator, Mr. Thomas Dritsas, a distinguished
member of the Missionary team O.O.D.E. (Orthodox Outlet for Dogmatic Enquiries), who was
kind enough to write the last Chapter of this book (Chapter 12), which provides valuable
information for the reader.
Finally, my thanks - but also my deep gratitude - are extended to the Sacred Nunnery of Saint
Stephen at Meteora, for their willingness to undertake the publication of the book. May the
Lord God bless the significant missionary opus of the Holy Mother Superior of the Monastery
and all the resident Nuns, and strengthen them in their labours for the preservation of our
immaculate Faith.

Fr. George D. Metallinos

Halandri, 20-10-2010
Memory of Saint Gerasimos of Cephallonia.


1. The origin and the revealing of the Church

The characterization of the Church by the Apostle Paul as the Body of Christ and Christ as
Her Head (Coloss.1, 24:18) brought the Church into a direct association with Christ. Being
joined to the eternal Logos of God, the Church is likewise eternal and pre-existent before the
ages, within Christ. Her beginning, therefore, and Her origin are not located in mankind, but in
God. The Church is not of this world (John 18:36); it is a mystery withheld from the ages, in
God (Ephes. 3:9). The Church had already existed, in Gods eternal volition. Just as Gods plan
for the salvation of mankind and the world in the Person of Christ was a pre-eternal one, thus
also pre-eternal was His will for the founding of His Church in the world, for the perpetual
realization of that salvation. According to Athanasius the Great, the Church, being previously
created by, was thereafter born of God (PG 26, 1004/5).
This indicates that the Church is a mystery, which is revealed in Christ and which in essence
remains an inexplicable mystery, just as Christ Himself is. This is the reason that a formal
definition of the Church that corresponds to Her essence cannot be formulated, since She will
forever remain beyond the cognitive powers of Man. The Church, as the Body of Christ,
cannot be defined. She can only be perceived experientially; that is, only through Mans
participation in Her particular way of life. An active member of the Church actually lives the
mystery of the Church, and only an active member of the Church in other words a Saint - can
express his mystical experience from within his personal participation in the life of the Church.
This is why the Churchs invitation to the world is come, and see (John 1:46); She invites us to
partake of Her mystical experience, which is the only way that one can acquaint himself with
Her. Her visible aspect is of course recognizable, and that is the congregating of the faithful.
The life of the Church evolved in phases:
a) During Her first phase, the Church which was pre-eternally existent within the wisdom of
God had also begun to exist redemptively for both the world and mankind, as a celestial
Church, even before the actual creation of the material world. The very first community that
God had created and had included in His Church was the world of spirits: the angels. This is
the Church of the firstborn in the heavens, the celestial Jerusalem (Hebr.12:22-23). In this
celestial Church are eventually to be added the souls of the Saints throughout all the ages
(Ephes. 1:4), because it is this, the celestial Church, that every faithful would eventually be
orientating itself towards. According to Paul, our polity our life - exists in the heavens; in
other words, in that celestial Church. (Philipp. 3:20) Therefore, the first form of the Church which appeared upon the initial will of God - was the celestial (spiritual) community: the
Church of the angels (spirits).

Many are the tracts of the Bible which refer to the celestial Church; for example: Hebr.12:22-23,
11:10, 8:2 (mentioned as the true tabernacle), 9:11. The Book of Revelation calls the Church
holy city, great city, new Jerusalem, holy Jerusalem, descending from God, out of the
heavens (3:12 and 21:2, 22. Also, Rev.22:17).
With the Incarnation of Christ, the invisible Church becomes visible and descends from
heaven (the world of spirits) in order to also engulf mankind in Her bosom (Hebr. 2:19), because
only then is mankind saved actually and eternally: when it becomes a member of the Church.
This is the faith that perseveres in the Tradition (i.e., the self-witnessing) of the Church.
According to the 2nd Epistle by Clement, the Church is from above; She is the first-created,
even before the Sun and the Moon; Being spiritual, She came to be revealed, in the flesh of
Christ. (Chapter 14, 1-3). The direction pursued by Christians, as members of the (terrestrial)
Church, is from the Church here, to the Church up there; in other words, from the terrestrial
one towards the celestial one (Gregory Nazianzene, PG 35, 796).
b) During Her second phase of existence, the Church descended out of heaven, from God
(Rev. 21:2) and was planted on earth, in the world (Saint Irenaeus, PG 7, 1178). In this way
the God-created, celestial angelic community expanded, with the incorporation of the terrestrial
community of mankind. The world, according to the holy Fathers, was created with the
prospect of Christs Incarnation and the revealing of the mystery of the Church. The founding
of the world was, in fact, also the founding of the potential Church that is, a Church with
potentiality. An ancient ecclesiastic text, Poemen by Hermas, says that the world was
constituted for the sake of the Church (2nd vision).
The substance of the Church is revealed in the world, in Gods communion with the first
created couple in the Garden of Eden-paradise. The first created couple are not two separate
individuals. They stand for a (human) community. The notion of community already existed,
from the very moment that Adam (man) was created. Woman was (potentially) created along
with man, because she already existed inside man (Genesis 1:27, 2:21-22). These two first
humans potentially had all of mankind within them. This paradisiacal state of man was the
first terrestrial manifestation of the mystery of the Church, as the communion between God and
humans and that of humans between each other, because it is only within this divine form of
communion that man can realize his salvation and become a communicant of divine nature as
the Apostle Peter had said (Peter II, 1:4). The multiplicity of human persons (hypostases) finds
its unity in the communion of persons and God the Church.
Despite it hinging on the volition of the human person which prefers whatever is demonic and
opposed to God instead of the divine and the true in order to establish its existence the Fall is
in essence a social occurrence. The divine image inside man is firstly shattered, and the human
personality is disintegrated (human nature rebelling against itself, saint Maximus the
Confessor will characteristically say PG 196C). At the same time, the God-established human

communion is also destroyed, as well as the immediacy of communion between humans and
God. (Genesis 3:8 etc.)
And yet, even though that first, redemptive community-church fell on account of mans Fall
and also lost its original form (the ancient beauty) - it nevertheless did not cease to exist. The
post-Fall human community was split into two human rivers; one that followed the path of life
without God, and the other one that lived on, with the first gospel (Genesis 3:15) in other
words, with Gods promise for an in-Christ salvation rooted in their conscience. In that
second human river is where Abel and Noah and all those who had preserved their faith in God
belong, by living with the anticipation (Genesis 49:10) of the Redeemer and orientating their
lives accordingly.
Thus, the existence and the course of the Church in the world continued, even after the Fall,
amidst the Gentiles who lived on the basis of the unwritten law (conscience) and the Jews, who
observed the written moral law of the Old Testament. All of these righteous souls, according to
the holy Fathers, belong to one people - the people of God; to one city, to one kingdom,
to one body - that of the Church. Saint Irenaeus characteristically spoke of two
synagogues; that of the Jews and that of the Gentiles. Hence it is not unusual to notice in
Orthodox churches the depiction of ancient philosophers among the saints, because even as
early as the 2nd century, the apologist and martyr Justin had spoken of christians prior to the
Incarnation of Christ, inasmuch as they were ones who had lived with the Logos (that is, with
Christ), even though they were believed to be atheists. He actually numbered Heracletus,
Plato, Aristotle and others among them.
The final phase of the Church in the world (the Incarnation of Christ Pentecost) was to be the
continuation of the pre-Christian Church of the righteous of the Old Testament, who are thus
differentiated from the rest of mankind, which does not live orientated towards the fulfilment
of Gods promises Jesus Christ. The fact that God chose the People of Israel - which does not
allude to any elated nationalism or discrimination in favour of the Israeli element, but merely
indicates His preference in assigning to Abrahams descendants (seed) the necessary
preparatory stages for mankind to receive Christ merely confirms the presence of the Church
as the people of God, after the Fall.
God had selected a faithful servant Abraham to be the father of a multitude of nations, in
whom all the nations of the earth shall be blessed (Genesis 17:1). In other words, Abraham
should be regarded as the father of faith, in the person of whom everyone faithful would be
blessed, whether Israelites or not, as long as they continued to be people of God and faithful
to His promises. The faith of those people is what links them to the faithful of the New
Testament; both groups of people have the Person of Jesus Christ at their core, Who is the focal
point where they both coincide, through their faith. And while the faith of the first group is
based on the Christ Who was yet to be incarnated, the second groups faith is based on the
already incarnated Christ, Who will come again. According to the blessed Chrysostom, all
those who have pleased God, before Christ came also belong to the one body of His Church,

because they too appreciated Christ that is, they likewise acknowledged Him. (PG 62, 75)
The Orthodox celebration of the holy Forefathers, from Adam through to Saint Joseph, the
betrothed of the Theotokos, expresses this precise truth.
c) The Incarnation of the eternal Logos of God - Jesus Christ - marks the third phase of the
terrestrial course of the Church. Whatever mankind lost in the initial Adam, that is, the
potential to remain in eternal communion with God, is achieved in the second Adam, Christ
(Saint Irenaeus). In place of the former, terrestrial paradise comes another one, a heavenly one:
Christ. Communion with God is thus realized, not outside of God, but in God Himself, in Christ
and through Christ. It is in Christ that the rebirth and the renovation of mankind and the world
is consummated the recapitulation of all in other words, their union with God (Ephes.
1:10) and their salvation. The body of Christ is the new Paradise, because it is within that body
that mankind and the world are united and saved. The Body of Christ is in fact the Church; it is
the community of theosis-deification and of redemption. Thus, just as Christ is something
entirely new for the world, so is His Church. It is a new temporal reality; an entirely new
magnitude, a divine-human community.
Christ saves and regenerates the Church which had been planted on earth from the worlds
beginning, by mystically joining the Church to Himself and becoming the Head of the Church
(Ephes.1:22-23). Christs entire salvific opus (incarnation, teaching, crucifixion, resurrection)
aspired to the ontological salvation of the Church and the securing of the potential of salvation
for every single existence. The Church of the Old Testament is therefore perpetuated after the
incarnation of Christ, as the Church of the New Testament, which is now the Body of Christ, in
which everything is invited to unite, in order to find salvation.
In their desire to specify as accurately as possible the point in time that the New Testament
Church was established by Christ, the holy Fathers concede that its primary nucleus is located
in the summoning of the twelve disciples and apostles, who thus became the Churchs
foundations (Ephes.2:20). Her historical foundations were laid with Christs crucifix, with His
suffering, because it is with His Blood that the Church is nurtured (Chrysostom, PG 51, 229).
However, the presence of the Church in the world was activated on the day of the Pentecost,
which is Her actual day of birth the moment of Her official appearance in History. With the
Holy Spirit -which was bestowed on the world on the day of the Pentecost- the presence of
Christ is being perpetuated in the world by the Church as His Body. According to P.
Evdokimov, the Church is nourished, like a lake, by the continuous fount of the Last Supper,
but also by the rain of Grace the perpetual Pentecost.
Thus, the Church is not only the Body of Christ but also a constant Pentecost, because She is
constituted as an establishment on earth through the incessant breath of the Holy Spirit. In
this way, one can perceive why the Church even the terrestrial one does not cease to be
something celestial. She lives in the world, but is not of this world (=temporal, John 17:16),
because She is a divine community - in the persons of Her Saints, naturally. She has Christ as
Her Head, while Her soul and motive power is the Holy Spirit. She is the overflowing of the

terrestrial into the celestial. This is why the Church cannot be related to any worldly person for example a priest, a patriarch or a bishop. Whatever the ministry that people may have
within the Church, they are still ordinary members of the Body of Christ; Christ is the eternal
and only leader (Hebr.12:2) of the Church, because He is the Head and the Church is His
Body. Therefore, it is only through an erroneous use of the term that can one confine the word
Church to mean the Hierarchy, because the Church is the communion of all those who are
united with Christ both clergy and laity; She is the corpus of the Lord, the people of God, the
community of Grace.
It is Christ, the Head of the Church, Who also determines the work (mission) of the Church as
His Body. The work of salvation in Christ is continued in the world by the Church, by
subjectively and personally rendering each and every person a participant of salvation in
Christ. In other words, Christ continually saves the world, through His Church. This indicates
how significant the Church is in the course of the world - in History - and this is what the
blessed Augustine meant, when he said that the Church is Christ, perpetuated through the
ages. The Church continues to perpetuate the redemptive opus of Christ, because She is what
continues His triple opus: that of High Priest, of Prophet (teacher) and of King. Important
Fathers such as Saint Cyprian (PL 3:1169, 4:502) will proclaim that salvation does not exist
outside the Church. Those who are familiar with the nature of the Church do not see any
exaggeration in this statement. This is because only in the Church can mankind be regenerated,
be joined to Christ - the Self-Truth - and live the truth. Furthermore, it is only through the union
with Christ which takes place in the Sacraments of the Church that the perishable nature of
mankind can be joined to the imperishable and eternal nature and become deified partake,
that is, of the eternal life of God.
However, this is the way that the Churchs reason for existence - Her purpose in the world - is
defined. The Church, as the Kingdom of God, becomes the spiritual ground where people can
be reinstated in the communion with God. The Church becomes the leaven of the world (John
14:16, 25) for the in-Christ transformation of the world. Her purpose is the Christification and
churchification of the world; its transformation into a new creation (Galat.6:15). With the
Incarnation of His Son, everything is invited by God to become churchified, that is, body of
Christ. This is why the Church becomes the centre of the universe the place where mankinds
salvation is decided and judged. It is the place where our theosis-deification takes place, here
and now (in place and time). According to Clement of Alexandria, the desire (of Christ) is the
salvation of mankind, and that is called the Church (PG 8, 281). That is why Christ furnished
His Church on earth with everything that is required in order for Her to fulfil this work of
salvation. Moreover, according to the Apostle Paul, the Church is the God-given instrument for
mankinds salvation, since Her purpose is the preparation of the saints, for works of
ministering, for the edification of the Body of Christ (Ephes.4:12). Therefore, with the Church,
a new kingdom the kingdom of God spreads throughout the world and a new polity the
polity of God becomes a reality. That which was only a vision for the Prophet Isaiah (ch.6) or
Utopia for Plato (Republic) becomes a universal reality in Christ.

2. The Church and the world

The image that prevailed as being the most faithful depiction of the Church was the ship,
because indeed, the Church travels courses like a ship through the sea of History.
In striving according to the commandment of Her Founder (John 15:10) to forever remain the
new magnitude in History, the Church took a stance opposite those powers that defined and
shaped society of the time, and She simultaneously dissociated Herself being a community of
Grace from the institutions and the structures that the PAX ROMANA had imposed on
society with its robust centralism. Thus, the Church dissociated Herself from Judaism (this opus
is basically attributed to the Apostle Paul) and excised from Her bosom the Judaizers that is,
those who wanted to subjugate Christianity to the letter of the Law and Judean ritualism, and
who linked the universality of the Church to Judean nationalism.
She also dissociated Herself from Hellenism as paganism-idolatry, and excluded from
communion with Her all the Hellenizing traits that aspired to mixing Christianity with the
philosophy and the mythology of the world (for example Gnosticism), something that would
have confined the role of the Church to a framework of religious worship, thus transforming
Her into a substitute or even a mere supplement of idolatry.
On the other hand, by remaining faithful to Her universal and eternal mission and Her divinehuman character which would preclude every possibility of becoming entrapped in temporality
and transience, the Church differentiated Herself from the Roman/State mentality which had
repeatedly attempted especially during the 4th and 5th centuries to exploit the Church by using
Her as a means for temporal prevalence and dominance. Of course this kind of battle is fought
by the Saints of every age - by the conscientious and consistent members of the Church, who
comprise the Church in every age. Saints are always the uncompromising ones.
This many-fronted battle aspired to the preservation of the Churchs purity; that is, Her identity
and Her divine-human character. In parallel (as evidenced in Acts), She began to develop Her
multilateral missionary opus; that is to say, Her course towards incorporating the world for its
salvation. The entire life of the Church is a continuous outreaching towards the world; a labour
of missionary ministering. The life of the Church and Her actions in the world are a constant
witness of hope and faith. However, it is also a witness of love Gods love for the world and
mankind the supreme form of love and at the same time the purest form of love, which
reaches the point of Gods offering (sacrificing) Himself for the sake of the world. (John 3:16).
The witness of the Church in the fallen world was not lacking in reactions. According to the
holy Fathers, these reactions are of a spiritual nature; they are the work of the devil, who guides
his terrestrial instruments to oppose the Church. Besides, the Apostle Paul had already said the
following, respectively: Your struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the

principalities, against the powers, against the potentates of darkness of this aeon, against the
spirits of wickedness in the air. (Ephesians 6:12)
The first form of reaction and interception in the Churchs work were the persecutions these
were violent and harsh measures against the Church, which were attributed to philosophical,
social, political and ideological etc. prejudices. Throughout Her life, the Church confronted
(and continues to confront) an entire series of persecutions, of a variety of forms and manners.
The three first centuries are characterized as the era of persecutions of the Church within the
Roman state.
Persecutions were waged against the Church from the first century, on the part of the Jews
originally, who saw the Church as a Judean heresy that apostatized from Judaism. But more
especially, however, it was because Christianity as the continuation of the faith of the Saints
of the Old Testament in the anticipated Messiah (Jesus Christ)- had exposed the fallacy of the
pharisaic tradition and the adulteration of the Judean religion by the traditions of men (Mark
7:8). Christianitys first martyr on behalf of Judaism was the Lord Himself, on account of His
anti-pharisaic sermon. The first organized persecution of Judaism against Christianity, which
was the sentencing of Stephen (30 A.D.), was followed by a series of other persecutions, which
had claimed a significant number of victims. From the time of the destruction of Jerusalem (70
A.D.), organized persecutions of Christianity by Judaism began to wane.
Far more extensive and bloody were the persecutions of the Roman State against the Church.
The reasons for these persecutions were also varied. The hatred of the people was nurtured by
all the slander against the Christians, and this led to their persecution. Furthermore, it was also
the philosophers opposition, the States suspicions about the closed character and the
exclusivity of the Church, as well as the peculiarities of certain emperors (for example Nero,
Deccius, e.a.) which had given rise to persecutions. Their number ranges between seven and
ten. The severest ones were during the time of Nero (64 A.D.), of Deccius (249-51 A.D.) and
Diocletian (303 A.D.). The persecutions of the Roman State ceased in the year 311 A.D. (decree
of Galerius), while in 313 A.D., Christianity was acknowledged by the State as a tolerable
religion. This was of course a victory for Christianity, but it caused many other problems in
the life of the Church, such as Her precarious dependence and at times even Her subjugation to
the State. Persecutions often changed form, but they never ceased altogether, inasmuch as they
continued in either an obvious or latent manner, up until our time.
It was the era of persecutions which had given birth to martyrs. Their sacrifice was the ultimate
expression of their Christian faith and consistency. From the very beginning, the Church
honoured them like Her very own heart. A martyrs sacrifice was a witnessing of Christ, and
with his martyrdom (having being bathed in his own blood), he would immediately enter the
kingdom of God. This is why the Church ascribed almost the same significance to the baptism
of blood or martyrdom as She did to the baptism by water. Later on, She would place at the
same level of importance the baptism of tears, which is the monastic form of repentance. The
extent that the Church honoured martyrdom as the consistent witnessing of Christ- is apparent

in one of Origens addresses: The time of peace, he said, is beneficial to Satan, because it
deprives the Church of Her martyrs!
However, the period of persecutions and attacks against Christianity, chiefly on the part of the
educated gentiles, gave rise to the development of the theology of the Church, initially in the
form of apologies. Its purpose was to confront the gentiles slander, to prove the superiority of
the Christian teaching and to convince the emperors but also the people that the Church was
anything but a danger to them. There are apologies against the Jews and against the gentiles.
Christianitys apologetes are acknowledged as the first theologians in the contemporary sense
of the term. However, apologetics as a literary item continued into the following centuries and
has never ceased to be used, after having been presented according to the needs of each era.
Following the official cessation of persecutions, a period of slackness in fighting spirit began in
the Church, while strong tendencies of compromise, submission and a concordance with the
world and its authorities was also observed. Witness by martyrs continued, but with a new
form of martyrdom, not of blood this time, but of conscience; that is, by monks. Monkhood,
which appeared at the end of the 3rd and the beginning of the 4th century as an organized
movement (Anthony the Great, Pachum), was understood as a radical revolution against the
evils of the world, as a denial of every compromise with the things of this world and the
enforcement of the Gospels way of life. The angelic ministry of monkhood (the ideal of ascesis),
along with its yearning for the kingdom, conflicted with the overly human character of the
empire, which had perhaps hastened too soon to call itself Christian, as P.Evdokimov had
astutely noted.
The partial or overall failure of worldly Christianity to accomplish the metamorphosis of society
into a Christian one is rectified within the monastic coenobium, the organizer of which was
Basil the Great, one of the major Fathers of the Church. Coenobitic monasticism, with which
anachoretic monasticism has never ceased to remain united even if loosely- remains
perennially as the Churchs constant reminder of the necessity for consistency and for
systemizing the Christian community in an absolutely Gospel-like manner. Thus, monasticism
is not a despising or an avoidance of the world; it is a topical abandoning of the fallen world,
which however it continues to carry internally, inside its thoughts, its caring and its prayers!
Monasticisms overall sacrifice is an offering, for the sake of the life of the world and its
salvation, so that the world will always have ever-present the measure of true life, of
veridicality and of sanctity.

3. Tearing apart Christs seamless robe

Schisms and divisions proved to be the even more fearsome weapons that the Devil had
wielded against the Church. Underlying them both is fallacy.
Even as early as the Apostolic era, the pure Christian teaching had begun to be adulterated,
either with the admixing of secular perceptions (philosophies, mythologies), or with the denial
of the oneness of the teachings many aspects combined, and instead, the absolutizing of only
one of its aspects. The altering of the Christian teaching was named heresy (, from the
Greek verb , pron. ai-roo-mae = to prefer, to choose). In the New Testament (Acts,
Epistles), fabrications of this kind were condemned (for example, the judaizing and
gnosticizing-Hellenizing heresies).
From the 3rd century, the Church began to implement Her synodic system more and more, in
order to confront among other things- the various heresies. We know of such synods in
Antioch, around 260 A.D., which had confronted the fallacies of Paul of Samosata.
The emergence of heresies gave the Church cause to probe deeper into the essence of the Faith
and its tradition and to thenceforth produce Her theology. The Church has always regarded
heresy as the greatest of dangers; a threat to Her very essence and Her hypostasis. Heresy
divides the One and Indivisible Christ (Corinth.I, 1:13), Who is the All-Truth. But in this way,
heresy is basically denying Christ, Who only then is accepted, when His unity and catholicity
(wholeness) are preserved. The absolutizing of something relative (=heresy) inevitably
relativizes what is absolute: the one and only Truth. Heresy constitutes an attempt at
subjugating the salvific truth of the Church to the fragmented way of living of fallen mankind
(Christos Yannaras). This is why Christianically speaking- heresy is regarded as a fall, as sin
and as death; in other words, a breaking away from the life of the Body of Christ the Church.
Albeit an ideology, heresy is not limited to being an intellectual issue. It influences the overall
world view of mankind and it gives rise to an erroneous stance, an alienation at all levels of life.
In other words, heresy, just like Orthodoxy, has a clearly existential character. This is because
they both have a belief that is transubstantiated into a corresponding manner of existence, of
life. Heresys failure in the social sphere is highlighted by Saint Ignatius the God-bearer (2nd
century), who wrote the following about the heretics of his time to the Christians of Smyrna:
As for love, they (the heretics) show no concern; not for widows, not for any orphan, not for
the sorrowed, not for anyone who is bound or loose, not for the hungry or thirsty... (Smyrn.VI,
Heresy, therefore, in altering the overall, the only salvific truth, deprives the heretic of every
possibility for salvation; in fact, in every aspect of his life both personal and social. This
explains the holy Fathers struggles in every era for the prevalence of Christianity instead of
heresy, because this is the only way that the existential and social truth of the Church can be

Upon entering the Church, the neophyte confesses the symbol of faith by reciting the
Creed. By doing this, he is making a statement that the faith of the Church has now become
his personal faith and the opinion of the Church his personal opinion as well. It is characteristic
how the elected bishop recites the same symbol, thus also confessing the Orthodox Faith, which
he is called upon to preserve and to preach.
The teachings/dogmas are therefore the outer limits of the Church; they are the defining
boundaries between truth and fallacy. They safeguard ecclesiastic living and they act as its
bulwark. They preserve the identity of the Church from the breaking waves of the God-less
worlds heretic fallacies and falsehoods. Dogmas are formulated by the Church in every era,
however, they do not represent new truths; they are essentially new ways of formulating the
same, one Truth. Development and evolution are of course observed, not in the essence of the
dogma (the faith), but only in its form. This is the reason that one hears of the need to re-express
Christianity in each era. Christ Himself, the only Orthodox faith, is offered to mankind of every
era, articulated in the language of that era that is, with the eras particular modes of
expression. Saint Vincent of Lerin had characteristically said: Teach the same things that you
were taught. Speak in a new way, but dont say new things (COMMONIT, 1:22). In Saint
Irenaeus words: Dogmas are the analysis of everything that has already been provided in the
Bible (Control.1, 10,3).
Also formulated along with the Dogmas in the Synods - and especially the Ecumenical ones were the Canons of the Church. Canons are intended for regulating problems related to the
spiritual life of the faithful, but also to their identity as members of the Christian community.
This is why there are canons that determine purely social matters; for example, marriage,
justice, the condemnation of usury, injustice, etc.. The Synod of Jerusalem (or Apostolic
Synod, Acts, 15:22), was already regulating matters pertaining to Christians originating from
The purpose of Canons is to provide in every era an outline of the Churchs dogmatic self and
to assist the faithful in incorporating it in their own lives, thus making the life of the Church
their own personal life in society, along with their brethren. However, given that Canons
always have as their starting point a specific historical reality (that is, a specific reason), some of
them eventually became obsolete, or, in other instances, some remained inoperative waiting to
be implemented. This is why we acknowledge both prestige and validity in Canons (P.
Boumis). Canons possess a perennial prestige - having being composed in the Holy Spirit however their validity is regulated by the course of the Church and the actual salvific needs of
Her faithful in every era.

4. The division of Christianity

From time to time, heresies were the cause of excisions of Christian groups from the Body of the
Church. Even during the first Church, groups such as the Gnostics, the Montanists, the

Monarchians, the Savellians, the Marcianists, the katharoi (=pure), the Monophysites, etc. To
these, eventually were added the Arians, the Nestorians, etc.. More especially, the eastern
territories of Byzantium had embraced Monophysitism, for political rather than purely
dogmatic reasons, and had thus excised themselves by creating Monophysitic churches in
other words, heresies most of which continue to exist until this day. Other, smaller heresies
had appeared by the 9th century, but also later on. However, the biggest and most tragic
division befell the Church in the 9th and the 11th centuries, on account of the claims made by the
popes of Rome. The throne of bishop in Old Rome fell under the influence of the Frankish
world and politically, it became opposed to New Rome-Constantinople. This tension
heightened during the time of Charlemagne (768-814 A.D.). Between 1014 and 1046 A.D., the
Franks succeeded in seizing the papal throne and placing on it a Frankish pope, thus paving the
way for the Schism.
The spirit of Papism expressed itself systematically, with the introduction of concepts such as
the papal primacy and papal infallibility, as early as the 9th century. There is of course a
kind of primacy in the Church, but it is the primacy of the truth and not a primacy in
jurisdiction or power. Thus one would often see bishops of obscure cities in the ancient Church
imposing themselves as bearers of the Orthodox Truth; however, on the other hand, the Roman
primacy of power expressed the demand for universal jurisdiction, firstly over the Church
(=ecclesiastic primacy), but thereafter in the political sphere as well (=the pope as the source of
political power also!). Quite recently, the current Pope, Benedict XVI, did not hesitate to declare
that Orthodoxy is a deficient Church (!!!!), because it has not acknowledged the secular
papist primacy!!
With its dual role, papal primacy was a scandal and a rupture in the tradition of the Church.
The pope presented himself as episcopus episcoporum (the bishop of bishops), the source of
all hieratic and ecclesiastic power, the infallible head of the Church and the deputy of Christ on
Earth (Vicarius Christi in Terra). This demand, which reached its apex in the 9 th century, was
also expressed with political actions. To begin with, the popes became estranged from
Byzantium, having placed themselves under the protection of the Frankish kings, thus
assisting in the establishment of the western empire and the weakening of the Empire of the
east, which was fully achieved later on. The Franks contemporaneously created the Papal State
in Italy (754 A.D.), which continues to be financially and politically powerful, to this day.
Papisms political character also involved the dramatic alteration of the meaning of Church
the de facto estrangement of Christianity.
However, another, important dogmatic reason was involved, which was the arbitrary insertion
by the Frankish synod of 809 A.D. (during the time of Charlemagne) of the phrase and from
the Son (FILIOQUE) in the Symbol of Faith. This was not merely a theological-philosophical
issue; in fact, it had explicit ecclesiological-social repercussions. The Franks had condemned the
entire Orthodox East (which did not have the FILIOQUE) as heretic, an action that Papism also
exploited in order to secure its primacy, itself already no longer united with the East.

The differentiation between East and West in the area of faith and tradition was such that
every tolerance by the East was no longer possible. According to P.Evdokimov, while
Orthodoxy is experienced as a perpetuated Pentecost, from which it has drawn the principle of
forming a collective-synodic authority, in the West, Rome has confirmed itself as a perpetuated
Peter, a sole leader and representative (vicar) with all the authorities of Christ. With the
Christianizing of Roman Law in the West, a papist theocracy was forged, which expressed itself
as papal-caesarism. In the East however, both the clerical and the political authorities were
perceived as gifts of God to His People; something like a dual ministry - a twin one to be exact
for the people of God, thus leaving no room for a unilateral and overblown prevalence of the
one authority to the detriment of the other.
The first major Schism between East and West took place in 867 A.D., at a time when the
episcopal thrones of the two Churches were occupied by two powerful personalities, Pope
Nicholas I (858-867 A.D.) and the Patriarch Photios (+886 A.D.). A serious, contra-canonical
action by Pope Nicholas in Bulgaria belonging to the Church of Constantinople, had given
rise to that schism, because it was the first clear attempt at imposing papal primacy as a
universal authority. But the Schism was completed in 1054 A.D., when it became final. A
delegation by Pope Leo IX had audaciously shown up in Constantinople as controllers and
accusers of the Eastern Church, accusing Her as the cradle of all heresies. On the 16 th of July
1054 A.D., they stormed into the Temple of Haghia Sophia during the hour of the Liturgy and
on the Holy Altar they deposited a libel, in which they excommunicated the entire Orthodox
Church, for unsubstantiated reasons. Patriarch at the time was Michael Keroularios, an equally
strong personality. A Synod on the 20th of July of the same year anathematized the libel and its
authors, but not the pope, leaving in this manner an open door, hopefully for a future
smoothing out of the difference. The example of Constantinople was to be followed by the
other Patriarchates, thus generalizing the schism. Of course relations had already become tense,
given that since 1014 A.D. both Churches had erased each other from their liturgical diptychs.
This meant that they had banned each other from every ecclesiastic communion.
Following the major, definitive schism of 1054 A.D., each of the two segments of Christianity
went its own separate way. Their diversification had now become a totalitarian one. It was from
that point onward that we came to discern between the Eastern-Orthodox Church and the
Western-Papist-Latin or Roman Catholic church.
The proper characterization for Orthodoxy is: Catholic (=overall, and the fullness of the Truth)
Orthodox, because the term Catholic is precedent historically, and coincides with Saint
Ignatius the God-bearer (2nd century). The term Orthodox (=the upright belief) is a later one
(4th century), but is used like the previous term, in order to discern the Church from the
heresies. The Christianity of the West in the form of Papism- was altered in its very essence,
despite the many traditional elements that it had preserved. More especially, with its scholastic
theology, it lost its spiritual-transcendental character and was transformed into more of an
endo-cosmic magnitude, by becoming organized like a State. The secularization of Papism was
now a fact, with its philosophical and legalistic rendering of the Faith.

Eventually, the rift between East and West cultivated hatred and thus, about two centuries after
the final schism (in the year 1204 A.D.), one witnessed the most unheard-of thing:
Constantinople being conquered by the christians of the Pope during the 4th Crusade!!
A Latin Patriarch was then instated in Constantinople, while a methodical attempt to subjugate
the Orthodox East was also organized (something that was to be continued during the Turkish
occupation (15th 19th centuries) by the swarms of papist missionaries and the various monastic
orders of Papism). This was pursued more elaborately, by means of the Papist Trojan horse
known as Unia (from 1215 A.D. onwards), which even to this day, at a time of dialogues with
Western Christianity, continues to operate in the East, in favour of Papism, thus creating further
problems - especially in the Orthodox countries of Eastern Europe and the Middle East.
The fracturing of the Christian family did not, however, stop there. Papisms alienation from the
genuine spirit of the Gospel and its secularization led to abuses that literally altered the essence
of the ancient tradition (see Holy Inquisition, indulgences, accumulation of political power and
wealth etc.). This alienation by Western Christianity was unable to be tolerated, even by
Western Christians. The rebirth of literariness, the socio-political developments in Europe but
most of all the debunking of Papism after its disputes with secular leaders for the acquisition of
power (struggle for investiture) all led to the revolution of the Reformation (Protestantism)
in the 16th century, which first took place in the Christian world of tough-as-nails Germany.
However, in their endeavour to correct the Christianity of their time, the Protestants, with their
unbridled liberalism, not only rejected Papisms abuses, but also much of Christianitys essence
(for example holy tradition, priesthood, sacraments, the rank of bishop etc.) and thus stripped
themselves of the Churchs true character. Nowadays there is an infinite number of protestant
heretic offshoots, of which only Lutheranism and Anglicanism have preserved elements of the
ancient ecclesiastic tradition for example the rank of bishop, some of the sacraments, etc. however they have lost the spirituality of the united Church. However, most Protestant
confessions have distanced themselves so much from the spirit of the true Church, that they
present a Christianity that is literally disfigured and altered.
Protestantism with its multitude of variations was unable (or its leaders did not desire) to turn
to Orthodoxy, in order to discover the Christianity of the Gospel. On the contrary, from the 17 th
century onwards, systematic attempts were made by various protestant offshoots for the
spiritual subjugation of the Orthodox East, within the framework of protestant missionary work
throughout the world. However, this missionary work was never independent of political
aspirations also, as for example with the activities of the Dutch Calvinists in Constantinople in
the 17th century, during the time of the Patriarch Cyril Loukaris V (1621-1638). In their struggles
against Papism, the Protestants attempted to win over the Ecumenical Patriarchate, while
simultaneously striving to protestantize it and through it, all of Orthodoxy.
An analogous attempt was made in the 19th century, but not by pure Calvinists; instead, it was
by numerous other Protestant confessions from Europe (England-Germany-Switzerland) and

from America. The action now began in an Orthodox territory in the Hellenic one specifically
by the various Protestant Biblical Societies, with intentions parallel to those of the other
protestant missionary Societies (see detailed exposition of the problem in the study by
G.D.Metallinos, The matter of translation of the Holy Bible into the neo-Hellenic language in
the 19th century, Athens 20042). Lacking the ancient Churchs tradition and under the influence
of the secular and mostly anti-ecclesiastic European spirit of the 18th and 19th centuries,
Protestant theology was led to an incontinent liberalism and in several instances, ended up even
in a denial of the historical Christ. The theology of death of God on the other hand was also
the fruit of Protestant thought and it constitutes the quintessence (socially speaking) of Europe
and the Western world today.
In 1870, during the 1st Vatican Synod, a number of papist bishops under the German theologian
prof. Ignatius Dllinger had refused to acknowledge papal infallibility having regarded it to
be something contra-traditional and contra-Biblical and had thereafter created a new branch
of Christianity, Old Catholicism, which brought them very close to Orthodoxy. This is the
reason for the attempts made during the previous century for their union with Orthodoxy,
which, however, has never borne fruits.
The deployment of the Ecumenical Movement in the 20th century and the theological dialogues
by the Papist and the Protestant worlds with Orthodoxy may have generated a spirit of
friendship and social collaboration imperative in our day and age; nevertheless, they are also
indicative of the distance that the Western Christian world maintains from the Faith and the life
of Orthodoxy, which is the Faith and the life of the ancient, united Church. This will become
apparent, in the chapters that follow.
The only way to reuniting the Christian world is a dynamic return to the period of the ancient
unity (up until the 9th century).


History, according to one point of view, is the eternal carriage of world reality, which takes
every man from the first moment of his life, and transports him to his eternal destination. Man,
as a persona, i.e. a God-created, free being, deposits his acts (RES GESTAE) in History and at
the same time he self-actualizes in accordance with the purpose of his existence. Christianly
speaking, however, History has a mind. It is not just an arbitrary flow and interweaving of
events and occurrences; it simultaneously offers itself to Man as a possibility for affirmation of
his worth, for the fulfillment of his destiny. That is, universal history is comprised of the
personal histories of all men, as success or failure to realize this common purpose of every
Theosis, on the other hand, as the unique goal and purpose of man within History, presupposes
the presence and action not only of man, but also of God, in historical reality. History,
Christianly speaking, is one continuous revelation of God (). CHRISTMAS, Gods
birth from a woman as God-man, is the manifested (2 Timothy 1:10) and confirmed selfactualization of Historys purpose, being as it is the realization of the Theanthropic union.
Eternity and Time, transcendence and materiality, supra-historicity and historicity are united in
the person of Jesus Christ, in a perfect union. In becoming incarnate, God becomes what He
was not, for us. He, whom nothing can contain, is contained in flesh; He, who is the bosom
of the Father, is seen in His mothers embrace, confining Himself within the finite limits of
what is historical and human. This is the miracle of all the ages, extraordinary and unique
in all of History.
Gods appearance in History makes the encounter of God and Man possible. And this meeting
is accomplished as a redemptive dialogue of the Creator and His creature, which leads to their
union, that is, to the event of salvation as mans self-actualization and the fulfillment of historys
purpose. This purpose of historical becoming is, Christianly speaking, God-given, and it
emanates from divine love, which constitutes the singular presupposition for the existence of
the world and of History.
1. God-given communion
As far as ancient Greek thought as a whole is concerned, our world is eternal. The creation of
the world and indeed out of non-being (from absolutely nothing) is unknown to it. Platos
Demiurge (in Timaeus) uses pre-existent eternal matter; he is merely the one who provides
order to the world (warden), but not its being. Consequently, for Greek thought, the universe
exists eternally.

According to Aristotle, (Meta ta Physika VII, ch.7) : It is impossible for anything to come into
being if it did not already pre-exist. Only Holy Scripture speaks of creation out of nothing. The
concept of nothing as an Absolute, i.e., not connected with Being, is a Christian, Scriptural and
Patristic one.
The world, according to Scripture and the experience in general of the deified Saints (Prophets,
Apostles, Fathers and Mothers), is creation, i.e., a creature. It was Paul who for the first time
used the terms creation and created for the entire created universe. Christ is called the
first-born of all Creation, for in Him all things were created, in heaven and on earth.
(Colossians 1:15-16). Christianly speaking, then, the universe presupposes an absolute
ontological principle: it does not exist of itself.
We know from divine revelation, i.e. from Gods manifestation of Himself in History, that
creation, visible and invisible, is the work of the divine will and love. This means that our
world would not have existed if God had not wished to create it. And this consciousness alone,
that Creation is a free act of the divine will, orients the created being eucharistically and
doxologically towards his uncreated Maker. To accept that your existence is a gift makes your
heart overflow with gratitude, in every moment that you become conscious of your existence
(John, Metropolitan of Pergamus).
This takes place during the Liturgy of St. John the Chrysostom: We give thanks unto Thee, o
King invisible, who, by measureless power hast fashioned all things, and in the multitude of thy
mercies has brought all things from non-existence into being.. In Orthodoxy, this awareness
is the basis for the ascetic transcending of the EGO and therefore of individualism and the
hunger for conquering. It is also the basis for the voluntary offering of ones own being for the
sake of others (self-sacrifice).
With the act of Creation, the Holy Trinitys Love gives substance to the created YOU. The
uncreated eternal Communion of the Personae of the Holy Trinity brings into existence the
created communion of the human personae, being as they are the culmination of all Creation.
But contrary to the myth of Deism, which accepts God as Creator, but outside of History (DEUS
CREATOR, SED NON GUBERNATOR), uncreated God brings created man into existence in
order to commune with Him, in a relationship that is Theanthropic, with uncreated God present
in created man, transforming him by grace into his uncreated self.
However, this communion of Uncreated and created being, which the Uncreated freely willed
and voluntarily initiated, is founded on certain very essential, fixed presuppositions. With
Creation there comes into existence a being that is absolutely foreign to the Uncreated in
essence (not in place, but in nature, according to St. John of Damascus). The distance between
Maker and creature is not spatial but ontological. They are two completely different things.
God is the wholly other (das ganz Andere). Plato may have conceived the fact that to
understand God is difficult, but to express Him is impossible; but Gregory the Theologian, full
of divine wisdom as he was, will admit that to express God is impossible and to understand

Him is even more impossible. There is no ontological relationship to be seen, no correlation,

no analogy (ENTIS or FIDEI) between created and Uncreated. The Uncreated is not subject to
the rules of human logic or morals or psychology. He is above and beyond all these. To force
the Uncreated into logical and moral categories, which is what Hellenism does - and which is
what bears heavily on mainly non-Patristic Greek religious thought -is not merely heresy: it is
clearly mythology. Imaginary conceptions corresponding to created nature (human and
animal, cf. Romans 1:22) are applied to the Uncreated. But in the Orthodox tradition, God
remains an inconceivable mystery, even when He reveals Himself to His creatures. It is
impossible for human speculation to theologize, that is, to speak authoritatively about God,
because discourse about God presupposes Gods revelation of Himself to man. Metaphysics, as
speculative theology, is, in an Orthodox manner of speaking, mythology. (Cf. the 14th century
clash between Hesychasm and anti-Hesychasm (scholasticism).)
Thus, from the beginning of History, Uncreated God builds the bridges for His communion
with created man within History. God did not leave himself without witness. (Acts 14:17).
He provides for His communion with Creation, since in any event it is upon this communion
that Creations future depends. Although Gods essence is completely unknown and man
cannot participate in it, yet under certain conditions man can experience and participate in
Gods uncreated energy. St. Basils words are clear: We say that we know our God from His
energies, but we do not take it upon ourselves to approach His essence itself. For His energies
are what come down to us, while His essence remains unapproachable. (PG 32, 869).
Uncreated God communes with created man by means of his natural energies. Energy, light,
grace, power, glory, kingdom (or rule): these are all theological-ecclesiastical terms that express
the same thing.
The world, the created universe, was created in order to participate in the fullness of divine life.
A dynamic journey is taking place historically from the time of creation to the Pentecost, a
journey which created man is called to make. It is the movement from the image to the
likeness, which is accompanied by human wills synergy (cooperation) with the divine will. It
is mans redemptive motion towards God, which, according to Basil the Great, was planted in
us when we were first created (PG 31, 909). In the words of the same Father, man has been
commanded to be a god. In other words, he carries within himself the mandate to become a
god, conformed to the image of His Son (Romans 8:29). The journey upwards to theosis,
towards the union of created and Uncreated, historically established the dialogue between
them, as a process which sometimes expresses the tragedy and sometimes the glory of man, and
through him, of all created being.
2. The apostasy of the created
The created world, although very good (Genesis 1:31), was made in a potential state, a motion
towards a particular end, which can only be fulfilled within the sphere of communion with
God. King and Lord over irrational creation (Genesis 1:28): thus was Man ordained by the
Creator to be, that he should lead Creation and himself to the perfection foreordained by the

Creator, to transcend createdness and unite with God. Mans job was supposed to be to
maintain this communion of the created with the Uncreated. According to Saint Maximos the
Confessor, with the creation (of the world) five divisions are effected: that of uncreated and
created, intelligible and perceptible, heaven and earth, Paradise and the inhabited world, male
and female. Man was called to transcend all these divisions freely, and to attain union with the
Uncreated, and in so doing to raise up all Creation with himself. Of course, the distinction
between Uncreated and created can never be transcended by nature, but only by grace.
When the Uncreated dwells within the created, then the latter, by grace, becomes uncreated.
This was the case, according to Saint Gregory Palamas, with Saint Paul: Paul was a created
being as long as he lived the life that came into being from non-being by Gods command. But
when he no longer lived this life, but rather that which comes about with the indwelling of God,
by grace he then became uncreated.
However, created mans journey in history bears the imprint of the fall, understood as failure
(Greek, amartia=to miss the mark): failure of mans journey towards union with the Uncreated.
The loving motion towards God and fellow man sidetracks towards the ego, communion veers
towards individuality. Communion with the Creator is ruptured on the part of the creature.
The fetus severs the umbilical cord that ties it to the life-giving maternal body. Rupture of
communion with Life itself brings death in all its forms (spiritual, biological, eternal, cf. Romans
5:12). Thus is death introduced into history, and it becomes the natural condition, to the
point that no-one wants to believe that it is contrary to nature. The condition contrary to
nature became in fallen man the condition according to nature. Our everyday language
bears witness to this. We live the tragedy of death as if it were a natural condition. The life of
created being is bound up with death to such an extent, that every creature is born in order to
die, thus introducing death into its existence. This is what Orthodoxy commemorates on
Cheese Fare Sunday, in the words of Adam: Woe is me! No more can I endure the shame. I,
who was once king of all Gods creatures upon earth, have now become a prisoner, led astray
by evil counsel. I, who was once clothed in the glory of immortality must now, as one
condemned to die, wrap myself miserably in the skins of mortality
The Fall constitutes the tragedy of man, because it means failure of the created to transcend its
createdness and to self-actualize. But what, essentially, was the Fall? Beyond any moral or
juridical meaning, the Fall, in an Orthodox manner of speaking, is understood as a sickness of
human nature, that is, as the de-activation of a natural function of man. In his natural
(traditional) condition, man maintains three memory systems: (1) cellular memory (DNA),
(2) brain cell memory, seated in the brain and possessing reason as its organ, and (3) the noetic
faculty which is seated in the heart and has the nous, or, according to Scripture, mans spirit
as its organ. The nous is the organ necessary for the knowledge of God, i.e. the experiential
communion with the Triune God.
In its natural condition, the nous is a dwelling place (temple) of the uncreated divine energy; it
is by means of this noetic faculty that man beholds Him who is, and is initiated into the
knowledge of the Spirit (Troparion, Canon of the Pentecost). The Fall is the darkening of the

nous and loss of its function, which occurs when the nous is confused with reason. When one
loses communion with God, he becomes subject to the passions and his environment. He
worships creation instead of the Creator. Self-worship (I became an idol to myself, chant the
Orthodox in the Great Canon of Saint Andrew of Crete) is manifested as the free rein of the
instinct of self-preservation and, parallel to this, as anxiety, fear, and a desperate search for
success and security. And thus the crucifixional, loving relationship with God and Creation as
a whole is destroyed. Rather, fallen man uses God and neighbor to secure his own happiness
and satisfy his ego. One of the most beautiful passages in Holy Scripture is the part in Romans
(8: 18-26) where it says how irrational nature was compelled by man to follow him into the Fall.
Creation bears the stigmas of mans rebellion against himself (nature at strife and divided
against itself Saint Maximos the Confessor), and hence together suffers and groans in
travail with him. Thus, all of Creation is enslaved to mans corruption and mortality.
The sickness of the noetic faculty is the essence of the original or ancestral sin. Our nature has
been infected by sin, observed Saint Cyril of Alexandria (PG 74, 789). And since it is an
illness that comes at the beginning of mans journey in History, it is transmitted to his
descendents as a disease of nature, not as legal guilt or moral co-responsibility.
Neither the darkening of the nous nor mortality (to the point indeed, of total disappearance and
return to NON-BEING) can ever be overcome, except through the Uncreated. The immortality
of the soul is a gift of Gods love, and hence moral effort (pietism) as an attempt to save oneself
is reminiscent of the drowning man who, according to the saying, grabs hold of his own hair!
Death is inborn in creations and cannot be transcended through any effort or ability of the
created being itself (Prof. J. Zizioulas). The cure of the diseased nous and the resulting
quickening of the creature is due, once again, to the Creators unfailing care for man and loving
initiative. For although there may have been a rupture in communion with the Creator on the
part of the fallen creature, however the same did not occur on the part of the Uncreated. God
keeps an eye on the creature in his Fall and does everything to maintain the bridges of
communion with him. And this is..
3. The redemptive intervention of the Uncreated
.in the creatures journey in History. Because of the Fall, History should logically have
become a journey towards destruction of man and creation. But Gods stance in the face of
mans apostasy is expressed not as judgment and wrath, but as love, which also creates the
conditions for the resolution of the human drama. Thus, the process of History develops in the
sphere of the divine plan, the divine economy; and God proves to be Lord of History. In his
Liturgy (prayer of the anaphora), Saint Basil describes how Gods saving intervention in History
unfolded: Yet Thou didst not turn Thyself away until the end from Thy creature which Thou
hadst made, O Good One, neither didst Thou forget the work of Thy hands, but Thou didst look
upon him in divers manners, through Thy tenderhearted mercy. Thou didst send forth
prophets; Thou hast wrought mighty works through the Saints who in every generation have

been well-pleasing unto Thee; Thou didst speak to us by the mouths of Thy servants the
prophets, who foretold to us the salvation which was to come; Thou didst give the Law as a
help; Thou didst appoint guardian angels. And when the fullness of time was come (Gal.4:4),
Thou didst speak unto us through Thy Son Himself.
In ancient Hellenic thought, as in every kind of humanism, what is good attracts, and what is
evil, repels. It is unthinkable that anyone would love the ugly, immoral, or sinful man, who
militates against the harmony of the moral world. God, however - comprehended in the
Orthodox way - loves the sinner as much as the righteous man. That is why He makes His sun
rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust (Matthew 5:45).
It was not the coin that sought the householder, but He Himself bent down to earth and found
the image, says Saint Nicholas Kavasilas in reference to the related parable from the Gospel
(Luke 15:8f). The parable of the lost sheep (Matthew 18:12f) reveals this stance of God in
relation to His creature. God is outside of every moral and psychological limitation, and He
does not alter dispositions like we do. His love is permanent and unchanging. God never
hates. He does not get passionately angry. He does not punish. It is human wickedness that
turns Gods love into hate and punishment. As Saint John the Chrysostom testifies: It is not
He, but we who are hostile, for God never hates (PG 61, 478). Gods love is not affected by
mans unworthiness and does not change along with man. God never ceases to be the Father
who waits for mans return (cf. parable of the Prodigal Son, Luke 15:11f).
And this is precisely why it was necessary in Frankish scholasticism to legalize and adulterate
the faith, in order to fabricate the clearly pagan theory concerning the satisfaction of divine
justice with Christs death on the Cross. Within the network of Frankish racial feudalism, the
conceptions of justice and its administration were cloaked in the robe of Christian dogma.
Western man is not taught to strive to become a partaker of Gods love, but to be saved for
Gods (nonexistent) wrath! This perversion of Christian soteriology became the foundation
upon which Western Christian civilization was built.
In moving towards His creature, God seeks His own, His distorted image, in order to renew
it, to re-fashion it, to restore it to its former beauty, so that it may possibly continue its
interrupted journey towards union with Him.
The re-connection of created and Uncreated and the continuation of their redemptive dialogue
functions as a possibility, even after the Fall. The Creator divine Logos is present in the Old
Testament without flesh (without His human nature), and He Himself effects the union with
the righteous of the period before Christ. The religious tradition of Abrahams race (i.e. the
Hebrew people) is a continuation of that of Enoch and of Noah. The Israelites are Gods
chosen people, not because God shows partiality (Acts 10:34), but because the tradition of
their Prophets preserves the method of restoring communion with God and hence, theosis and
salvation. Thus, they become the guides to genuine knowledge of God for the rest of the
world. This is what Israels opus in History should have been: like the opus of its Prophets and
its saints.

The same will be true historically for the New Israel, the Christians, who will become Gods
chosen people; this time, in the persons of their Saints. Those who lived in the spiritual
climate of the Prophets were taught the way of life that leads to the purification of the heart,
illumination, and deification (theosis). The same is true about the spiritual children of the
Apostles and Fathers throughout the centuries.
Yet, the redemptive offering of the Uncreated to the created reaches its culmination in the
Incarnation of God the Logos. This event, in Christian terms is the absolute center and keystone
of History. History finds its true meaning and its final criterion in the Incarnation. Christ as
God-man becomes the absolute center and entelechy of History. He is the Alpha and the Omega
of History. Creation and the Second Coming, together with the Incarnation, constitute the chief
moments in the History of all Creation, and they seal Time in its earthly dimension. World and
Time acquire meaning through Christ, because they move towards Him who is the fullness of
Time (Galatians 4:4). And this is why human wisdom is amazed throughout the course of
History, and poses the question: CUR DEUS HOMO? And the deified Maximos the Confessor
responds: The Incarnation is the blessed end for which all things came to be. It was for the
sake of the Incarnation of God the Logos, that is, for the appearance in History of the God-man
as the perfect historical union of God and man, of the Uncreated and creation, that the world
was created at all.
Moreover, the Incarnation is the foundation of salvation understood as theosis. With the
Incarnation, theosis becomes permanent. For with His human nature, the incarnate Divine
Logos becomes the place, where the communion of God and man, and also of human beings
with each other, is. In the holy Eucharist, the faithful commune the flesh, the humanity, of
Christ, and thus become members of the same body with their God-man, the Lord.
(Ephesians 3:6). The Incarnation event is completed soteriologically at Pentecost. Then Christ,
who rose and ascended into the uncreated heavens of the Godhead, comes again in the Holy
Spirit, to continue His redemptive presence in the world, but this time with a different manner
of existence. For now He dwells within those who are united with Him, and they live in Him
(cf. John 17:22-23; Romans 8:9 ff).
The Incarnation is Gods response to the universal cry of the debased image of God in man. The
God-man Jesus Christ brings man back to the starting point of his journey, and re-fashions him,
bequeathing him not Adams fallen nature, but His own (sin-free) nature. And thus He
becomes the Head of a new human race. And this is why He is called the new or second
Adam, who, however, is not made of dust but is from heaven (1 Corinthians 15:47). As Paul
Evdokimov observes: Gods humanity corresponds to mans being the image of God. The
image of God in man and of man in God is the third term that objectively governs the
Incarnation: the ontological potential for communion of the two worlds.
With the Incarnation of God the Word, those five divisions we spoke about earlier are
transcended. Christ as God-man becomes our peace incarnate (Ephesians 2:14f), as He reconnects man with God and reconciles men with one another. In His body, the Church, all

those differences and conflicts that sin had introduced into life are removed; and by His grace,
which overcomes death and our division, all of us, Jews and Hellenes, slaves and freemen, men
and women, acquire the potential to become ONE in Christ; a new man: the man of grace,
new in Christ. Hence it is necessary to assemble the created into a Church, because with the
victory in Christ over every form of death, all men are potentially brothers, and all those
antitheses that sin caused in the created sphere can be removed. With His Incarnation, Christ
does not simply improve human society. He offers the new society of His body, and He invites
all to join it, so that the re-creation and re-formation of man and society be accomplished in a
new manner of existence, namely His own life, Christ-life. Saint Paul proclaims: If any one is
in Christ, he is a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17), which means re-creation of all things in a
dynamic relationship with the creative Logos; that is, a relationship not only with God, but also
with nature which is His creation. Thus the Incarnation affirms the worth of the created world
as a whole and negates any philosophical dualism in the anthropological sphere. By becoming
a temple of the Holy Spirit, man with his entire being lives the unity of Creation and is a
stranger to every idea of exploiting, polluting or destroying the environment which is an
extension of his own nature.
This transformation of the created into Holy-Spiritual society and classless fraternity is
accomplished within Christ. The Church, in the Orthodox understanding, is the deified
humanity of Christ, the tangible and specific place of our union in Christ. This is what Saint
Cyprian of Carthage meant when he said that: outside of the Church there is no salvation
(EXTRA ECCLESIAM NULLA SALUS). That is, there is no possibility of theosis-salvation and
of transforming self-interest into selfless love, which is the quintessence of society genuinely in
Christ. The Church as the body of Christ (Ephesians 1:23) is the inn of the parable of the
Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25f). (In Greek, the word for inn is pan-docheion, which means a
receptacle for all kinds of people.) Similarly, the Church accepts all people, in order to guide
them to this transformation. Everything is ready at this inn-Church, as far as the Uncreated is
concerned, ready to cure and save the created and to restore wholeness once again.
4. The way to union
Christ, by uniting created and uncreated (through His Incarnation), conquered death, (but)
with a victory that is not something mandatory for existence, but a potential that is won only
through freedom and love (John Zizioulas, Metropolitan of Pergamon). Our nature was saved
in Christ, but not our person. In becoming incarnate, God the Logos assumed an individual
nature, which is, nevertheless, the start of what we are made of. The theosis of each one of us is
possible because of the oneness of human nature as a whole. Salvation in Christ is offered to all
men, but for it to be activated requires our response. This response is manifested as synergy,
cooperation with divine grace.
The banquet of the (so-called) kingdom is ready (Luke 14:16) and God awaits the creations
response to His invitation. According to Saint John the Chrysostom (PG 55, 322): God does
virtually everything; He left something minimal for us to do. This something minimal is

mans response. Patristic Orthodoxy is authentic Christianity and the ONE (and only) Church,
precisely because it preserves the manner of attaining theosis, that is, union in Christ with
Uncreated God. The heresies are not Orthodoxy, because in making Orthodoxy a religion with
their ritualism, or making Christianity out to be an ideology through their rationalism and
legalism, they reject, or are unaware of, the method that leads to theosis, and consequently they
do not offer it as a possibility. Besides, Religions do not have and hence do not offer the
giver of theosis, namely Christ, which is why they result in demon worship (cf. all the gods of
the Gentiles are demons Psalms 95:5).
The creations response to the divine invitation is, in Orthodoxy, effected though the voluntary
(free) acceptance of the cure of the human being that Orthodoxy offers. The cure (or therapy)
consists of a process divided into three stages: (1) purification of the heart from passions, and of
the nous from thoughts (good and bad); (2) illumination the Holy Spirits visitation of the
heart; and (3) theosis, that is, the restoration of the human being, with its glorification in the
uncreated grace of the Holy Trinity. This is the process of salvation that the Saints follow (cf.
the prayer before Holy Communion by Saint Simeon the New Theologian: and You purify
and brighten them and render them participants in Light). In Orthodoxy, mysterysacraments and ascetic effort go hand-in-hand in a complementary relationship: ascetic effort,
as the returning from a condition contrary to nature, to one according to nature (Saint John of
Damascus); and sacraments as means by which grace is transmitted.
One can thus understand why the antithesis of asceticism and moralism is unbridgeable in
Orthodoxy. Moralism regulates the ethos, imposing the rules of a given moral system, based on
mens natural powers. It inevitably ends in pharisaism, that is, in self-justification and
salvation based on works. On the contrary, asceticism with the God-given means at its
disposal aims at the purification of the heart for man to become by means of Gods uncreated
energy a temple of the Holy Spirit, so that he might produce the fruit thereof (Galatians 5:22).
Orthodox asceticism restores the redemptive dialogue of created and Uncreated, in the form of
communion between them and potential for theosis of the creature, understanding, of course,
that theosis is not a reward but grace (a gift). Ascetic endeavor simply renders man receptive to
salvation. The Church functions in History as an eschatological society, that is, as a society of
The cure of the human being, i.e. his liberation from mortality and corruption, brings with it the
freedom of all Creation, i.e. of nature, from its bondage to decay (Romans 8:21). For this,
perishable nature must don the imperishable, and this mortal nature must don immortality (1
Corinthians 15:53).
Orthodoxys experience shows that this passage refers to the states - not of the age to come, but
of the present- a fact unknown to non-Orthodoxy. The transcending of corruption by the
created is, for Orthodoxy, a reality that is accomplished in historical time, as shown by the relics
of the Saints with the suspension of the natural corruption and physical decay of their cell
system. Holy relics, like that of Saint Spyridon (348) on the island of Corfu, are for Orthodoxy

tangible proof of the fact of theosis, of the communion of created with the Uncreated. And at
the same time, they are Orthodoxys self-verification. The same can be said about the
transcending of corruption in inanimate nature itself, as in the case of holy water that does not
become stale with time. It is by these divinely wrought events that Orthodoxy is safeguarded
throughout time, and not by the metaphysical soaring and speculative fancy talk by us
professional theologians.
In positive thought, the meaning of life is found in the span of time between mans biological
beginning and end. In Orthodoxy, lifes meaning goes beyond the limits of the present world.
Man as a theanthropic being is inside History. The expected Second Coming of Christ is
illumination and the judgment of the history of each person and of the whole world, as factors
of History. But what is important is that according to Orthodox belief, we do not await the
destruction of the world and the end of History, but the transfiguration of Creation: For the
form of this world is passing away (1 Corinthians 7:31), and we await new heavens and a new
earth (2 Peter 3:13), in a meta-historical continuation. What will take place is a transformation
of the world and of Time. Consequently, History will not terminate, but will continue in
another form. Eternity is a continuation of History, or, rather, History is a segment of eternity.
The history of Saints, of those who attained theosis, continues after death and after Christs
Second Coming, as History after History. This was expressed by the historian Eusebius of
Caesarea: He does not say that the heavens will perish, but will be formed anew for a better
end. For in the same way that our bodies, when they dissolve, do not pass into nonexistence,
but rather are renewed for incorruption..likewise, the heavenly bodies are renewed by the
said fire; for they too are freed from the bondage to decay.
This permanent transcendence over decay, and consequently the continuing transition from
historicity to meta-historicity, is what the Church attains as a body of Christ. This is the
purpose of the Churchs existence. In the life of the Churchs body, the grace of the Holy Trinity
continually sanctifies the created. Through the man who is being sanctified, material nature
surrounding him is also offered to God as water and oil, bread and wine, flowers and fruits or
offspring of animals, which are brought to the holy altar to be hallowed and blessed. Man and
creation thus journey together towards the final meeting with the Creator, and they give
themselves over to Him, that God may be everything, in everyone (1 Corinthians 15:28).


With the year 2000, Christianity completed two millennia of historical presence and witness.
However, the term Christianity contains the reference to Jesus Christ, given that the DivineHuman was the One who salvifically invaded the world during a historical point in Time,

changing the very course and the meaning of History. The completion of Christianitys second
millennium is not only an opportunity to celebrate it, but more importantly, an appropriate
time to review the course of the Christian world and the relations of contemporary Christians
with the Founder of the Church. More than anyone else, we Orthodox, who despite our sins
have remained faithful to the Tradition of our Saints (who are the only authentic Christians), are
called upon to confess to the world what Christ means to us, and with what conscience we have
embarked upon the third millennium A.D.
Naturally, for us Orthodox, the Year 2000 chronologically speaking can only be a date of a
conventional nature, given that it has been scientifically proven that our dating is 6 or 7 years
behind the actual one, given that this was nothing more than another year added to the natural
flow of Time. Nor, again, will the celebration of the Birth of Christ during this year differ in any
way from any other year, in the thanksgiving and the glorification that we extend to His most
holy Person for the occasion. The piety of our holy Fathers has supplied us with incomparable
homilies and texts, which penetrate deep within the mystery of the divine Incarnation, thus
composing a pious confession of faith and hope for every Christian heart. It is with these same
texts, that we confessed once again our thanks and our glorification to our Lord Jesus Christ,
lauding Him as God, throughout time. What, then, is Christ, for us Orthodox?

1. The Archetype and the Destination

Christ is the Person of the Holy Trinity that is directly linked to the world, even before His
Incarnation. He is, first of all, the Creator of all Creation. God the Father creates Creation, by
the Son, in the Holy Spirit. The Son and the Spirit are referred to as the hands of the Father
in the theology of our Church. The Son-Christ acted salvifically upon the world, even while
fleshless (=prior to His Incarnation), by leading the Righteous ones (for example the Prophets)
towards theosis/deification, and by preparing the world to receive His impending incarnate
However, Christ is also the archetype and the prototype according to which Man was created.
This fact is expressed by the Old Testament phrase: in the image of God did He create him
(that is, God created Man Genesis 1:27). According to the Apostle Paul, who had delved into
the mystery of Christ more deeply than anyone else, the image of the invisible God is the
Divine-Human Christ, Who, being the Logos of God (John 1:1), revealed the Father to the
world. During Vespers of the Feast of the Holy Spirit, we chant .by Whom we came to
know the Father., in the words of our emperor Leon the Wise ( 912); these same words
remind us of the words that our Christ Himself had said: whosoever has beheld Me, has
beheld the Father (John 14:9). In other words, whosoever discerns the divinity of Christ
(theopty-sighting of God) is also discerning the divinity of the Father. According to Saint
Gregory Palamas, the term the image of pertains to Man as a whole (both body and soul
together). Furthermore, according to the blessed Chrysostom (PG 59, 694), the fleshy
prototype of Christ was decided initially (=the Divine Man had been appointed even before

Time as the prototype of Man) and Adam was created thereafter. Before the Incarnation,
our eternal prototype had remained invisible and unfamiliar; it was with the Incarnation that
our prototype became known to us; was revealed in the flesh (1 Tim. 3:16), in the Person of
Jesus Christ is simultaneously however our destination. He is the purpose of both our
existence and our presence in the world. Man was created as a Christ-centered being. Mens
naturaliter Christiana, as Tertullian used to say (2nd century). Man is Christian by nature; that
is, he reports to Christ as his creator, his prototype and his destination. The purpose of our life
is theosis-deification, and our becoming in Christ, through Grace; our union with God in
Christ and through Christ. According to Saint Basil the Great, Man was created as a
summoned god; in other words, he bears within him the commandment (of God) to become
God (through Grace). This means attaining the spiritual stature of Christ, since he is called upon
to become a perfected man, with the fullness of maturity of Christs age (Ephesians 4:13: to
the perfected maturity, to the measure of the perfect spiritual measure of Christ).
Being Divine-Human, Christ determines the spiritual course of mankind from the very
beginning of History, given that He Himself is the model and the measure of that course. He
thus became the key to comprehending History and Man, and the source that gave meaning to
both. Man and History are continuously coursing towards the coming Lord, Whom they
have been encountering as Creator, Saviour, Redeemer and Benefactor, but will also encounter
as Judge at the end of History, during His Second - and this time glorious - Coming.
Thus, Christ was acknowledged as being the focal point of History. He divided History, into
the period preceding His Birth and the period after it. With Christ, all of pre-Christ mankind
flows into Him as though into a main river, and from His Incarnation onward, with Christ as
the Father of a new generation, post-Christ mankind (as the body of those saved in Christ)
marks its beginning. This is the reason that His Church spreads throughout the world,
churchifying all of mankind (Matthew 28:19); so that the entire world may be reborn in
Christ and through Christ. Christ thus not only becomes the central point in History, but also
its commencement and its entelechy, its purpose and its fullness. That is why Christ is linked
to everything ultimate, as He is the finality and the fulfilment of History. Ultimate implies a
point, beyond which nothing else is expected for ones salvation. Beyond Christ, the true
Saviour, nothing is new under the sun, nothing is recent, as the Book of Ecclesiastes (1:9)
says. The ultimate (eschatological) element entered the world with the Incarnation of the
Divine Human. That is when Christian eschatology began, and will be fulfilled with His
Second Coming. The anticipated element for our salvation Gods Grace came with Christ,
and it resides in His Body. Grace and Truth have come through Jesus Christ (John 1:17).

2. The Expectation of Nations

Jesus Christ, as the Divine-Human, is unique and incomparable, as proven by His terrestrial
life. He was the only Person, Who was already known and expected, even before His
appearance on Historys scene. He was the expectation of nations (Genesis 49:1); of the entire
world, because Christ had already promised His Coming, from as early as the Fall of the firstfashioned humans (in the early Gospel of Genesis, 3:14 etc.). Thus, mankinds nostalgia
oriented itself towards the future, to the Coming of Christ, in the hope of being re-joined to Him
and for its redemption. This nostalgia left a deep imprint in all of mankind, in the East and the
West, but especially in the Israelites, who, in the persons of their Saints, became the chosen
people of God not because God is a discriminator (Acts 10:34), but because it was their
Saints who preserved the path to theognosy (the cognizance of God) - the method for
In the prophecies (the preachings of the Old Testament theumens), the coming of the MessiahChrist into the world is so intense and certain, that His opus is described with an amazing
clarity, as though it were a reality already experienced. It is no wonder that the very
vociferous Prophet Isaiah was named the fifth evangelist, given that he had foretasted the
Messiahs era, in the Holy Spirit, the way that the Evangelist-Disciples did.
However, this expectation was equally clear and definite in other peoples also: the Hellenes, the
Romans, the Chinese, the Indians, the Persians, the Egyptians, etc. Relative testimonies to this
effect reach as far as America and Scandinavia. To confine ourselves to a few of the more
impressive testimonies: Confucius in China was waiting for the Holy One the Heavenly
Man (the Divine-Human!). The Gautama Buddha (the historical person of Buddha, India, 5th
century b.C.) repulsed the allegations of his followers that his teaching was supposedly
unsurpassable, claiming that after five hundred years, his teaching would be bankrupt. The
most amazing detail of all is that one actually observes a convergence of worldwide expectation
of the Messiah in Palestine, because the people of the West expect Him from the East, while the
people of the Far East expect Him from the West.
The seminal (sown) word of God, which penetrated the hearts of spiritual people all over the
world, guided their consciences towards the direction of Christ, thus preparing mankind to
receive Him, when the fullness of Time had arrived (Galatians 4:4). This was eventually
linked to the worldwide community under Pax Romana and especially to the person of the
Most Holy Theotokos. The Most Holy Virgin became the new Paradise, in which the
Anticipated Messiah took on His Incarnate form, as the Divine-Human Lord.
Christ was the pre-announced Messiah. David had announced His Birth (Psalm 109:3 etc.);
Solomon had praised the eternal Wisdom of God in the form of a Person that would be entering
the world; (Proverbs 8:22, 29); the prophet Isaiah had described His Birth from a Virgin (7:14)
and His identity as the light of Nations (9:1 etc., 49:6 etc.), as the shepherd (40:11), as the
redeemer of the world (25:6 etc.), who was going to inaugurate a golden era (35:6,11, etc.).
Jeremiah had foretold the ascending from the house of David of a righteous king, who would be
introducing a new society (23:5-6, 38:22). In the Book of Baruch, the incarnation of Gods

Wisdom is prophesied (he appeared on earth, and he associated with humankind, 3:38).
Daniel had foretold of the eternal kingdom of the son of man (7:13-14), etc. Every aspect of
the Messiahs time is vividly described in the books of the Old Testament. For example, from
the prophet Micah, the place of Christs Birth (5:1, vs. Matthew 2:6); from the prophet Jeremiah,
the slaughter of the infants (38:15); from the prophet Josiah, the flight to Egypt (11:1); the
adoration of the Magi in Psalms (71:10 vs Isaiah 60:3-6); John the Forerunner (Malachi 3:1, 4:5)
and his preaching (Isaiah 40:3-5); the miracles of Christ (Isaiah 35:5-6), His triumphant entry
into Jerusalem (Zechariah 9:9); Judas betrayal (Psalms 40:8-10 and Zechariah 11:12-13); Christs
condemnation (Psalms 2:2); Christs Passions (Isaiah 50:6, Psalms 68:22, Psalms 21, Isaiah 53);
His Resurrection (Psalms 15:10-11); His Ascension (Psalms 109:1); the descent of the Holy Spirit
(Joel 3:1-5); the return of nations to Christ (Isaiah 60:1-4). What is more amazing, however, is
that all these prophecies have already been fulfilled. This, according to Pascal, is a
continuous miracle.
Furthermore, Christ is the only person in the world Whose name was given in advance and was
completely aligned with His mission. And you shall call His name Jesus, the angel had
instructed Joseph (Matthew 1:21), and immediately after, had explained: for He shall save His
people from their sins. Those same words were also said by the angel to the Holy Mother
(Luke 1:31). The name Jesus signifies that God is the true Saviour. This is exactly how the
Church also experiences Christ (Acts 4:12: .there is salvation in none other). Christs entire
existence and presence moves between heaven and earth, in full compliance with the meaning
of the term Divine-Human. It was in His Person that the concocted divine epiphanies of
the Gentiles finally found the fulfillment of their redemptive yearnings. But even the more
pessimistic dogma of the philosophers, that God does not mix with humans (Plato) was
overturned, because in the Person of Christ God was revealed in the flesh.He was preached
among the nations, and believed by the world (1 Timothy 3:16).

3. A self-appointed Saviour
The enlightened poet of the Akathest Hymn highlights an amazing aspect of the Incarnation:
Desirous of saving creation, the Creator of all creation went to it, as one self-appointed.
Christ, the Creator of the world, also becomes the Saviour of the world, but specifically selfappointed! He invaded History and Time in a salvific manner, in order to provide the
potential for salvation. The sole motive behind this God-begotten move was His Love. For
thus did God love the world, that He gave His only-born Son, so that everyone who believed in
Him would not be lost, but will have eternal life (John 3:16). Proof of Gods love for us, was
that even though we are still sinful, Christ died for our sake (Romans 5:8). The Incarnation
was Gods loving response to mankinds yearning for redemption.
Christ is the measure of Divine Love. The Incarnation and the Sacrifice of the Divine-Human
Christ is the greatest proof that God loves the world. The Orthodox Patristic Tradition did not
need to resort to any juridical theories in order to interpret the Vacating of the God-Logos

(i.e., to satisfy a divine sense of justice, according to Anselm of Canterbury); it merely

remained faithful to the words of the Apostles. In the Person of the Divine-Human, God offers
Himself, for us people, and for our salvation; He accepts everything, to save mankind.
What weighs most in the event of the Divine Incarnation is the term through Him: so that
the world may be saved, through Him! This constitutes a truly majestic display of Divine
Love; not only for the realization of salvation, but also because God knew that salvation could
only be realized through Him. For there is no other name under the heavens, which has been
given to mankind, through which we can (it is possible for us to) be saved (Acts 4:12).
Salvation is possible, only in Christ, the only Divine-Human! Christ can save, because He is
Divine-Human. What does this mean?
Christs divine-human characteristic is denoted by His name: the Christ. His full and proper
name for us Orthodox is Jesus Christ. Christ is also referred to as the God-Human, because
His divine and His human natures are never separated. They were distinctly and inseparably
joined in the Person of the God-Logos, Who hypostatically unites His two perfect natures.
The term Christ means the anointed one. With the Incarnation, Man was anointed by God;
human nature by the divine one. It is therefore a heresy and a delusion, for one to regard Christ
only as God, by disregarding His Incarnation, or, only as a man albeit a sage and a model of
morality forgetting that He continued to be the true God, even after His incarnation. Without
the God-Human Christ, there can be no Christianity, nor the possibility for salvation. According
to Basil the Great, the name Christ is a confession of everything: for it signifies God as the
anointer, the Son as the anointed, and the Spirit as the anointment. (PG 32, 116). When
accepting Christ as the Divine Human, we are expressing our belief in the Holy Trinity;
otherwise, we are denying it.
In the Divine Human Christ, man was joined to God in a perfect and unique manner. The
created thus acquired a unique potential for theosis/deification to be united with the
Uncreated because this could only be attained through its union with the Divine Human.
That was the purpose of the Incarnation: not simply the improvement of human matters, but
the deification of Man and the sanctification of the material world. In the person of the Divine
Human Christ we become familiarized with God, but not in an abstract, contemplative or
intellectual sense. Christ, as the God-Human, revealed the God of our Fathers: of Abraham, of
Isaac, of Jacob. The historical God-Human Christ is the essence of Gods revelation - the essence
of Christianity. The God-Human Christ is the entirety of Revelation, Who leads us to the true
cognizance/knowledge of God. Knowledge of God outside the God-Human Christ is
nonexistent. And this is where we find the element that differentiates Christianity from every
other form of religion (belief), but also the transcendence of religion in Christ. Every leader
and founder of a religion (beliefs) refers his followers to a certain deity. Only Christ referred
the people to His Person (I am..., I say to you). Religious sects presuppose a
movement from below upwards, in search of God. The God-Human Christ is the One Who
descended from heaven (John 3:13). This is why He was entitled to say No-one recognizes
the Son, except for the Father, and no-one recognizes the Father, except for the Son (Matthew
11:27). Christ, as the God-Human, is the Triadic Gods act of love towards the world. The

Triadic God is One, and the God-Human Saviour of the world is One. In the words of Saint
Gregory Palamas, if the Logos of God had not been incarnated, the Father would not have
been demonstrated as truly being the Father; the Son would not have been demonstrated as
being His Son, and the Holy Spirit would not have been demonstrated as also coming from the
Father. (Hellenic Fathers 151,204).
By choosing for Himself (more than 80 times, as seen in the Gospels) the title stated by Daniel
(Son of Man Daniel 7:13), Christ was thus revealing His Messianic self-awareness as the
anticipated God-Human. This is precisely what He had straightforwardly declared to the
Samaritan woman (and later Saint Fotini) a somewhat misconstrued person (who was however
illuminated by His Grace), when He said to her: It is I, the one who is talking to you (John
4:26), when she asked Him about the arrival of the Messiah.
When referring to His salvific mission, Christ characterizes Himself as the Way, the Truth, and
the Life: I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6), He had said to Thomas,
when the latter had expressed the query: Lord, we do not know where You are going, so how
are we able to see the way? (v.5) Being the Way, Christ is the only road to salvationdeification to Mans eternal fulfillment. He is the sole mediator (1 Timothy 2:5) Who
bridges the gap that separates the sinner from God and reconciles man with Him (reprieves,
Romans 5:10) - and naturally, not because it is God Who changes His disposition. It is not He
Who feels enmity, but we; for God never feels enmity (John Chrysostom, PG 61, 470). This is
why Christ proclaims I am the gate; if one should enter, he shall be saved. (John 10:9). It is
worth noting that, after Christ had characterized Himself as the Road to God and Salvation,
Christianity was correspondingly named the road (Acts 9:2), inasmuch as it was the road
(way of life) that led to salvation. This was the first known name for the new faith, up until the
faithful in Christ were eventually named Christians (Acts 11:25).
Christ as the Truth is the One Who brought to the world the authentic manner of existence,
which can lead to the real life the true life. Naturally, when Pilate asked Christ what is the
truth? (John 18:30), he was not being accurate. He should have asked: Who is the truth?;
because, as we mentioned earlier, Christ relates the Truth to His Person. He is the incarnate
personification of the All-Truth! The Way and the Truth are inseparably connected, in Christ.
The Way to God passes through the Truth. If the Christ who is being offered by a Christian
community that seeks to call itself a church is not the true Christ the one and only GodHuman Christ then that community is a heresy and cannot lead anyone to salvation. This is
the drama of the heresies and the pseudo-messiahs of the world. However, it is also the
criterion of the Christian dogma - the faith/teaching of the Church. A dogma is not a sum of
abstract truths that are imposed on Man from above. It is the recorded experience of the
theumens the Saints and it has a therapeutic character. It helps the faithful to seek salvation
in the correct manner and to be led to it. Christ admitted about Himself that: for this did I
come to the world: to testify the truth (John 18:37). Christs overall redemptive opus is the
multi-faceted revealing of the redemptive personal Truth of Christ Himself. And that,
precisely, is the Orthodoxy of our Fathers. Christ is Orthodoxy in the flesh.

As the living Truth, Christ not only reveals God since within Him resides the fullness of
godhood, bodily (Colossians 2:9) and is a complete God as is the Father and the Holy Spirit
but He also reveals the true and authentic man. This was declared (unwittingly, and moved by
the Grace of God) by Pilate, when he had pointed out to the crowds: Behold, the Man (John
19:5), because Christ is indeed a man the complete/perfect Man - and the salvific model for
every man.
Christ, as the Self-Truth, was also the content of His teaching His prophetic preaching. That is
why all of the people hung from His lips (Luke 19:48), and this, because he taught, as one
who had authority and not like the Scribes (Matthew 7:29). The spies sent out by the
potentates to spy on Him had confessed that: never has a man ever spoken the way that this
man has (John 7:46). The search, therefore, for common points of reference in Christs
teaching is a futile one. His teaching cannot be compared to any other teacher, religious leader
or philosopher. The claim that this was also said by the philosopher so-and-so, for the
purpose of demoting Christ, indicates a persistence in focusing on the words that were said,
and an ignorance of the Logos-Christ. Phrasal coincidences are not proofs of an overall
coincidence. Overall, Christs teaching is the revelation of His unique identity, which will lead
either to ones acceptance of Him as Savior, or ones rejection. After all, His teaching is linked to
His Person. He is the one who dared to state: for I tell ye. His word is the seed of
divine Grace, which seeks the benevolent soil, the pure heart, so that it may bring forth fruits
(Luke 8:15). The words of Christ do not save in the sense of moral persuasions, but because
they are replete with uncreated divine Grace. They are words spoken by God. Within Him is
life, and life is the light of mankind (John 1:4).
Everything that exists in Christ is life. With all His redemptive means, Christ transmits-offers
Himself. He is the offerer and the offering of the Divine Liturgy and the Eucharist. The three
terms road-truth-life as characterizations of Christ are the expressions of a natural
continuance. Christ leads to God, by revealing Himself as the incarnate All-Truth, thus
introducing us into eternal life, which is the inner-cardiac cognizance of God (John 17:3) our
union with Him.

4. Liberator and Pacifier

In the closing hymn of the feast of the Reception of Christ into the Temple (Luke 2:25f), He is
characterized as the liberator of our souls. This is because He saves us, by acting as the
liberator in two directions: internally and externally. He first liberates us from inner servitude
the servitude towards the devil and our vices. He cleanses the heart from sin, so that Man can
find his inner unity and balance and thereafter create a brotherly communion with his fellow
man. The procedure of restoring mans inner balance takes on the form of a therapy. This is
why Christ is referred to in the Divine Liturgy as the physician of our souls and our bodies.
When someone enters the Body of Christ the Church he is placed under a therapeutic

regime, which evolves with the stages of catharsis (cleansing)-enlightenmenttheosis/deification. For a mans egocentric and egotistic love to be transformed into a selfless
one, he must follow that course. He must struggle, with the Grace of Christ as his assistant and
guide, to keep His commandments, cleanse his heart, and be enlightened by the Holy Spirit.
Man is called upon, to first become a servant of Jesus Christ, something that was considered a
title of honor for the Apostle Paul. By subjecting himself willingly to Christ, he is liberated from
the servitude to sin (Romans 6:18 etc.). The tragedy of the unrepentant person lies in his
perceiving his servitude as freedom, and expecting the fruits of freedom from within his status
of servitude. This is the reason why sociopolitical systems are in the long run a disappointment:
because they are unable to liberate man internally.
Christ liberates, with His own freedom (Galatians 5:1). For this, He calls upon us to become
acquainted with His truth with Christ Himself as the Truth in order to be liberated. Know
the truth, and the truth shall set you free (John 8:32). This implies participation in spiritual life;
furthermore, it is from that internal liberation that every in Christ struggle for external (socialnational) liberation also begins. It is impossible for one to profess freedom while remaining
servile to deterioration (2 Peter 2:19). Christ liberates internally, in order to renovate the
world, without resorting to systems and manifestos. This happened with His Incarnation,
which was the entry of His life of Christ life into the world.
Christ found a world in which Man had no personal worth, except only as a means that served
the purposes of the State. Social rights were only for the circle of free citizens; besides this, there
were practices such as infanticide, massacre and exposure of children. The woman was mans
property, and lived only for him. Philosophers such as Aristotle regarded the institution of
slavery a natural thing. And all these facts were not simple infractions of the law; they were
institutions. The faint glimmer of the Stoics philosophy had very few results, and it led to other
delusions. Through Christ and in Christ, the elevating of Man was fulfilled - validated
eternally, with the Incarnation of the God-Human. Man attained an unprecedented worth,
having been bought at the price of Christs blood (1 Cor. 5:20). It was for Mans sake that
Christ Himself died (Romans 14:15). Only Christ had proclaimed that institutions are made to
serve Man and not be his overlords, with His unsurpassable words: The Sabbath was made for
Mans sake, and not Man for the Sabbaths sake (Mark 2:27). Christ gave equal worth to man
and woman (Col. 3:11) and He abolished every kind of disposal site or Kaiadas. He
furthermore broke the bonds of slavery in practice, by transforming the slave from a living
possession (Aristotle) into a beloved brother of his Master (see Epistle to Philemon).
With the internal liberation of Man, Christ makes man be at peace with himself. Being the lord
of peace (Isaiah 60:17), He becomes our peace by transmitting His pacifying Grace, the way He
did after the Resurrection (Peace be unto you). He had, after all, clarified before His
Ordeal, that: I leave you with peace; I give you my peace I give it to you, but not the way that
the world gives it John 14:27). Christ Himself became peace, for both mankind and the world.
This was proclaimed by the Apostle Paul, who lived in that in Christ peace, and who from
persecutor became apostle. He is our peace, he said. He is the one who joined together the

two (opposing) sides and tore down the dividing wall between them (which was enmity), by
abolishing in His flesh the law of the commandments in order to create in His person a new
man out of the two sides and bring peace. (Ephesians 2:14 etc.) As regards the opposition
between Jews and Gentiles, which was overcome in Christ through the Church, the Apostle
Paul presents us in the most eloquent manner the pacifist work of Christ, which began with His
Birth. According to the hymn that the Angels sang, Glory to God on High, and peace on earth
(Luke 2:14). Christ unites and reconciles all of us in His flesh, with His Incarnation, His
Crucifixion and especially with the Divine Eucharist. We consume our God, so that we do not
consume each other!

5. Conqueror of Death and Life-giver

Contemporary Man has not familiarized himself with the mystery of death. Death remains
Mans permanent enemy. His anxiety to overcome death becomes apparent, in the strivings of
modern science (cloning, cryonics, immortality, etc.). Even the Apostle Paul says that: the
final enemy, death, will be abolished (1 Corinthians 15:26). But death, virtually, has already
been abolished, in Christ. The key to the transcendence of death is the Resurrection of Christ
the personal victory of the Divine-Human over death. Since Christ has risen from the dead,
He shall die no more; death shall no longer have any power over Him. (Romans 6:9).
The only personage in History to have conquered death is Christ. Where, o death is your sting?
Where, o Hades is your victory? asks the Apostle Paul (1 Corinthians 15:55). And he completes
his comment with the words: for deaths sting is sin (v.56). The conqueror, therefore, of death
is the one who irrevocably conquers sin. And that is Christ, the only (Divine) human, Who
never committed any sin, nor was any deception found in His mouth (1 Peter 2:22). Thus,
whoever conquers sin in Christ, also partakes of Christs victory over death and everything that
death represents. The in Christ victors of death are the Saints. Those who have looked at the
intact holy relics of Saint Spyridon in Corfu Island or of Saint Gerasimos in Cephalonia Island,
in their incorrupt and miracle-working condition, can understand what victory over death and
its corruption means.
The Resurrection of Christ is the ontological foundation of the Church. If Christ had not risen
from the dead, (y)our faith would have been futile (1 Corinthians 15:17). However, it is also a
hermeneutic key in world history and our lives. The Incarnation of the Logos of God was the
entry of the Eternal and the Incorruptible into History. Eternity personified by Christ invaded and settled itself in a world that is disintegrating and rotting in corruption, thus
providing the potential to transcend death. The Resurrection of Christ is the final victory over
death; not only as a continuation of biological life, but also as immortality in other words, as a
continuation of life inside Divine Love and Grace. This is what the expression may his/her
memory be eternal implies, as chanted during memorial services and funerals: that the
deceased may remain inside an eternal memory that is, eternally inside the Grace of God; that

he may be eternally with God, in the sense that Christ had promised the grateful robber on the
cross: On this day, you shall be with Me in Paradise (Luke 23:43). Without Christ, death is
dreadful. Christ, however, through death, abolished the one who had power over death, who
is the devil (Hebrews 2:14). Neither death, nor its master the Devil, can cause any dread to
the in Christ person, the Saint; because that person knows that death cannot interrupt or
dissolve the in Christ life and its continuation in the uncreated Grace of God; only the
biological life and its development in this corruptible and futile world.
Our life both the biological and the spiritual aspects of it is a life, as long as it belongs to
Christ. And we belong to Christ, when we die and become resurrected with Him. Our
voluntary passion (ascesis) and our voluntary death along with Christ (see Matthew 16:24 and
Mark 8:34), in other words, our consistent following of Christs path - as is the case with
monkhood is the only path to the co-burial and co-resurrection with Christ. At this point, it
becomes obvious that Christianity is not a philosophy or an ideology, but a way of life, in the
full depth and breadth of the term. It is an experiencing. You either live in Christ, in a life of
continuous repentance, or you do not belong to Christ. Those of (=who belong to) Christ have
crucified their flesh, along with their passions and their desires (Galatians 5:24). Christians are
those who have crucified themselves along with Christ, according to the confession of the
Apostle Paul: I am crucifying myself along with Christ; I no longer live, for Christ lives within
me (Galatians 2:20). Just as the deceased is vindicated of his sins (Romans 6:7 he has been
liberated of his sin, in other words, he ceases to sin), thus the one who co-crucifies himself
with Christ is thereafter dead to sin. This is what is implied by the words of the prayer:
deaden our limbs on earth. In the words of Saint Gregory Palamas, when Man reaches
the stage of becoming incapable of sinning! This is why we beseech the Lord to grant us: the
entire day (or night) .peaceful and sinless. These are possible, when, through ascetic
living, man co-crucifies himself along with Christ.
This is the life i.e., the victory over death, sin and the Devil that Christ brought to the world.
He did not found any Social or Philanthropic Institution, but instead, invited us to be joined to
his Body, the Church, so that we can perpetually conquer death, sin and the Devil. Because it is
only then that we can truly selflessly - love our fellow man and co-establish a society of
brotherly feelings and love. The societies of the Christ-less world are conventional, pseudosocieties, which are unable to attain such results, given that, by ignoring or disregarding Christ,
they do not seek to attain them. Authentic life within the Church becomes a continuous course
towards resurrection. With the Sacraments and spiritual living, the consistent Christian
constantly conquers death and partakes of Christs Resurrection. Repentance is the potential
to escape from the prison of our deadened nature and meet with the Resurrected Christ. This is
why our monks teach us the following motto, from their personal experience:
If you die before you die, then you wont die when you die!

6. Lord of Heaven and Earth

During Christs triumphant entry into Jerusalem, just before His Passion, the populace received
Him like a king, addressing Him with the following cries: Hosanna...the king of Israel, which
meant save us, o king of Israel. Despite the obviously nationalist and temporal innuendo
underlying these words, the crowds by the Grace of God were in fact expressing a very
important truth; because those words actually corresponded to the true identity of Christ.
Christ is indeed the king of the world, because He is its Creator, its Saviour and its Judge. He is
the king of the New Israel His Church. He is king, Lord and God, of every faithful one who
calls out to Him and allows Him to reside inside his heart (see Revelation 3:20). After His
Resurrection that is, His victory over the Devil, sin and death Christ proclaimed to His
disciples: ever (=full) authority has been given to Me, in heaven and on earth (Matthew
28:18). The Resurrected Christ is (and is being experienced in the Church) the Lord of heaven
and earth, of all things visible and invisible, the head of every principality and authority
(Colossians 2:10). Before His Passion, Christ had been asked by the high priests and the elders
of the people: by what authority do you do these things, and who gave you this authority?
(Matthew 21:23). Christ had not replied at the time (Matthew 21:27), because, on account of
their vehemence against Him, they would not be able to understand. Now, in the light of the
Resurrection, He reveals that His authority springs from within His Resurrection. Within the
limits of this authority, He was to found the Church, as His Body, on the Day of the Pentecost,
and with this authority, He sent out His disciples to fish the world into His kingdom (28:19:
go forth, and teach all the nations).
When questioned by Pilate, Christ declared that His kingdom was not of this world (John
18:36). This meant that it is a kingdom of another kind, which differs from the kingdoms and
the authorities of the world, as was Herods. Christs kingdom is celestial, spiritual, salvific,
because it is linked to His uncreated grace. Wherever Grace is accepted, there will His kingdom
reign. From this aspect, Christ is king of kings and lord of lords (Revel.19:16) and there is no
end to His kingdom (Luke 1:33).
This is the kingdom that Christ is inviting us into. He came into the world, in order to
propagate His kingdom, His glory, His power, His love throughout the world. These are all
synonymous, and they express the uncreated energies of the Triune God. He does not seek to
acquire followers and subjects, but to liberate and sanctify. Come, all you labouring and
burdened ones, and I shall relieve you (Matthew 11:28). That is His invitation. He invites us to
establish His celestial Kingdom within Man. The kingdom is within you (Luke 17:21). This
indicates that He Himself should reside within Man, along with the Father and the Holy Spirit
(John 17:24, 14:23), because that is when Man belongs to Christ: if the Spirit of God resides
inside him (Romans 8:9). God invites us openly (Matthew 16:24), but He leaves the final choice
up to man. He does not create any illusions (narrow is the gate and sorrow-filled is the road
that leads to life, and few are those who shall find it Matthew 7:14). This is because the
choosing of Christs kingdom is enacted with our personal struggle against our mutinous

nature; against the empire of our instincts something that requires a violation of nature and an
incessant struggle. The kingdom of heaven is violable and only violators shall snatch it
(Matthew 11:12). It is the only struggle for which Christ demands violence; not to defeat
someone else, but our own, perverted self (the victory over ones self is far superior to other
victories). To enter the kingdom of Christ, a violent battle is required, as the lives of our Saints
have proven. The only consolation and refreshment that we have are the words of our Christ:
In this world, you shall have suffering; but be brave, for I have defeated the world. (John
The Jews, under the influence of their nationalist and materialistic ideas regarding the Messiah,
were unable to accept a king such as Christ, Who made His cross a throne and His martyrdom a
sceptre. That was a scandal for the Jews, just as it was folly for the sages of the world (1
Corinthians 1:23). That is why, when Pilate asked them (relatively uneasily, in view of the
premeditated condemnation of an innocent man): crucify your king?, they replied: we have
no king, other than Caesar (John 19:15)! This is where every person can stop to, in every era,
when he kills the spirit inside him; when he is dead inside and his heart becomes obsessed
(Mark 3:5). This can also happen to the non-reborn Christians, who accepted Christ
externally and only in name. Without a sincere spiritual life, without any spiritual labours
(participation in the sacramental life of the Body of Christ), baptism remains inert. A Christian
must constantly monitor himself, to determine if the Grace of God is still active inside him (2
Corinthians 13:5): try (examine) yourselves, whether you are in the faith. A Christian cannot
share himself between many kings and masters (see Matthew 6:24), or exchange Christ
with any other secular Caesar, or confine Christ to the so-called spiritual sphere, while in
his social choices, he subjects himself to the ministering and the authority of the masters of this
We Orthodox Christians confess our acknowledgment of Christ as the only sovereign lord of
our life, during the Divine Liturgy: ONE is Holy; ONE is LORD: Jesus Christ. Our Lord is the
God-human, as our God and sole Regent. That is why every distortion of this point, and the
transformation of the Church into an Institution of secular power (a State), with a secular king
(pope) and the structure of a polity reveal a loss of what the meaning of Christ and His
kingdom is. However, this is how we can comprehend the words of our Christ: render unto
Caesar that which is Caesars and that which is Gods unto God (Matthew 22:21). Christ
acknowledges that political authority is God-given (see Romans 13:1): there can be no
authority, except under God. Authority, as an institution (not the persons of the rulers), was
given by God, for the harmonious co-existence of society. Consequently, a Christian owes
respect towards authorities, in which the commandment of God should not be hindered,
according to Basil the Great (PG 31, 860). Thus, when the Jews in their predisposition to entrap
Him showed Christ a coin of Caesars, they were indirectly declaring that they acknowledged
Caesars authority, by showing Him his coin. But, if the coin is Caesars because it bears his
image (Matthew 22:20), Man is the image of Christ, hence, he belongs wholly to Him.

7. Prolonged throughout time

Christ was not tied to only one moment in History, as is the case with even the most important
of personages. Christ covers the entire span of History, acting salvifically from its beginning to
its end: fleshlessly in the pre-Incarnation era, and in the flesh after His Incarnation. Even
after His Ascension, He did not desert the world, just as He had promised His Disciples (I shall
not leave you orphans John 14:18). And behold, I am with you every day, until the end of
time (Matthew 28:20). On the day of the Pentecost, Christ returned, in the Holy Spirit, and
His deified flesh the one that is clearly and indivisibly joined to His human nature,
became the place of congregating of all theumens the Saints.
Christs continued presence as Saviour of the world is manifested through His Church. There is
no other means for a salvific meeting with Christ, except in the Church His Body. With His
Incarnation, Christ assumed the flesh of the Church (Saint Nicholas Kavasilas) and He
rendered the Church His body, as the blessed Chrysostom had underlined (PG 52, 429). Christ
was thus linked inseparably to His Church and the Church, as His Body, remains inseparably
tied to Christ, Who is Her head and Her beginning; Her life and Her life-giver. The separation
of the Church from Christ or of Christ from the Church is the most formidable heresy, because
this would mean a de-fleshing and a denuding of Christ, Who for us humans and for our
salvation was incarnated. When we exile Christ from the world we transform the Church
into a social or philosophical club. It is through the Church that Christ is prolonged
throughout time, because the Church is the continuation of the Incarnation and remains open
to every person and every generation; Pentecost, because the Holy Spirit which the world is
unable to receive remains inside the members o the Body of Christ, the Theumens (John 14:17.
According to the blessed Chrysostom, if the Spirit were not present, the Church would not
have been constituted; but if the Church is constituted, it is clearly obvious that the Spirit is
present (PG 50, 459). The manifestation of the Holy Spirits energy on the day of the Pentecost
is the substantiation that the Church as the Body of Christ was founded on that day.
Ever since that day, Christ has been the churchifier of mankind, because He is the one Who
invites mankind incessantly to become joined to His Body and be added to the society of the
saved (see Acts 2:24); because the possibility to be saved is only through the embodiment of
mankind in the Church (as per the liturgical quote of ourselves and each other and our entire
life let us appose to Christ the Lord). In other words, man is not saved (in other words
sanctified, or enlightened and deified), just because he observes Christs commandments, but
because he becomes a member of Christs Body, by participating and communing in His Life
through the Divine Eucharist and the other Sacraments. There is no such thing as deedsalvation; only in-Christ salvation (Galatians 2:16 etc.). The truth in Christ is the life, the
communion and participation in Christs life.
With Baptism, a Christian dies and is resurrected within the Body of Christ, as a new person,
now resurrected into the life of Christ. Those of you who have been baptized in Christ, have
donned Christ, we chant after the Baptism of a neophyte. He no longer belongs to the world,

but to the Body of Christ (this is what is analyzed in the 6th chapter of Romans). For one to be a
Christian means he belongs to a specific community and society of the Local Church. This is the
model Church that is preserved by the monastic brotherhood-diocese, the Coenobitic
Monastery, because there, it is far easier to fulfill the assertion: our selves and each other and
our entire life let us appose to Christ the Lord The worldly parish can function in the
Orthodox manner, only according to the monastic model.
The spiritual incrementing of the faithful is realized within the Body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:13),
while the measure of this increment is Christ Himself (Ephesians 4:13), Who is the spiritual
model of every faithful (1 Peter 2:21). Christ was the one Who determined the mission of His
Church in the world. It is a spiritual hospital, which, by restoring the remembrance (the
presence) of God in mans heart, becomes a workshop for sanctification, or, in modern
terminology, a Saint-producing factory! That is the reason for the existence of the Church,
because wherever sanctity exists, so does true love and a genuine class-less society.
Saint Cyprian, bishop of Carthage ( 258), had said that outside the Church, there is no
salvation (extra Ecclesiam nulla salus). Albeit God accepts every person and from every
nation those who fear God and perform labors of justice are accepted by Him (Acts 10:35),
however, it is only with his actual incorporation into the Body of Christ that Man is saved. This
is what occurred with the Apostle Paul, who, despite his encounter with Christ during his
experience of theopty (sighting of God) on the road to Damascus, (Acts 9:1), had to nevertheless
be baptized, that is, to enter the Corpus of the Lord. (Acts 9:10 etc.) However, this being
inside the Church should not be something to be ideologized; it is not exhausted in
formalities, but demands fullness and punctuality, otherwise the path towards theosis becomes
impossible. Baptism is not the end; it is the beginning. It is the opening of the door to the
Body of Christ. The faithful need to remain inside the Corpus of Christ. This is achieved,
through an incessant spiritual struggle. In this context, the Church is continuously the pillar
and the consolidation of the truth (1 Timothy 3:15), because She continuously preaches and
testifies to Christ the incarnate All-Truth since Christ had also come into the world, to
testify to the Truth (John 18:37) and to provide witness about the Truth, which He was the
incarnation of. Needless to say of course, that the Church - only as Orthodoxy and only by
preserving alive the tradition and the perception of Her Saints can remain the Body of Christ
and the ark of salvation.

8. A mark of contradiction
Symeon the Elder, when holding the infant Christ in his arms in the Temple and enlightened by
the Holy Spirit, said the following words to the Holy Mother: Behold, He is to be the fall and
the uplifting of many in Israel, and a mark of contradiction (Luke 2:34). Even from the
moment of His Birth, both friends and enemies had surrounded Him - not only the meek
shepherds or the wise and reverent Magi, but also the ferocious Herod; not only the Angels, but

Satan also. Mankinds History is continuously arrayed around the Person of Christ. Christ
became the magnet that attracts everyone, whether with the intent to accept Him and follow
Him, or to reject Him and fight Him. This is because some see salvation in His Person and
others see their downfall, depending on the content of their hearts. Every dark and inhuman
existence is bound to hate Christ, because His light inevitably reveals and checks its works (see
John 3:20). He who enacts the truth approaches towards the Light, so that his works might be
revealed that they have been enacted in God (21).
However, behind the polemics against Christ is the pre-eternal enemy of Man: the Devil. Christ
was incarnated, in order to dissolve (abolish) the works of the devil (1 John 3:8), thus
liberating Man from the devils power. He did not come into the world, simply to introduce
one more religion, even the most perfect one the religion of love as some romantically
believe but to renovate mans entire life, as well as the worlds: from the Holy Bema of the
Temple to the marketplace, the place of ones profession, the School, Parliament If Christ had
confined Himself (and us) within the four walls of a Temple, He would not have provoked the
ungodly powers of the world, because society is their realm of domination, and this realm
their kingdom would have remained intact and free, at their disposal only. If Herod had
learnt that another religious leader had been born, he would not have been in the least
disturbed. A religious leader, regardless of his magnitude, was not an irreparable threat to
secular authority. Herod, however, confronted Christ as a newborn king, and in His person, he
saw a usurper to his authority. And, albeit Christ never usurps the authority of any Herod,
given that His kingdom is not of this world (John 18:36), it is, nevertheless a fact, that the
spiritual authority of Christ disintegrated the Devils reign. This is the reason He is hated.
With Herod commenced the long line of enemies of Christ historically; they are the ones who
hated the soul of the child (Matthew 2:20), who will forever be planting the Crucifix of
Torture next to His Manger: the Scribes and the Pharisees, the roman Emperors, the armies of
Christs persecutors throughout the ages; all the ungodly and antichrist powers, who with their
various glamorous names act in a decomposing way on societies. The portion of the world,
which has chosen the devil as its king, cannot tolerate another king; thus, Christ the King is sent
away. And the persecution of Chris is not focused on Him exclusively either, but it includes all
those who are His, that is, the martyrs and the confessors of His Truth. This is why Christ
prepared His Disciples psychologically: If the world should hate you, you must know that it
hated Me firstif they persecuted Me, they will persecute you too (John 15: 18-20).
Consequently, this is an irreversible certainty, which is why Christians should not overlook it.
In fact, it is a criterion of their mentality and their lifestyle, when the (antichrist) world hates
In the past, one of the mechanisms of persecuting Christ was to doubt His historicity.
Specifically, historical materialism had formulated the view that Christ never actually existed,
and that He was merely a fictitious creation by religious nostalgics and the mythical fantasizing
of His era. Others maintained that Christianity was a communistic movement of the

financially oppressed masses or the personification of the idea of kingdom of God by the
proletariat masses.
However, contemporary testimonies regarding the historical existence of Christ are sufficient
and significant. They also do not originate solely from within the realm of the Church (New
Testament Gospels mainly), but also from the non-Christian world (Tacitus, Suetonius, Pliny,
Jospehus, rabbinic literature etc.), so that this problem has now been scientifically settled.
Christianity implies Christ Himself, it is the incarnation in His Person of His teaching, the
self-truth, and self-perfection (Gr. Papamichael). The interpreting of the miracle of
Christianitys propagation on the basis of a nonexistent person would have been an even
greater miracle than the Person of Christ Himself! One can, for personal reasons, reject the
divinity of Christ, but one cannot deny His historicity.
However, the worst case of persecuting Christ and His Faith is the one that originates from
within from the Christians themselves. These are the heretics of all time, who have denied the
divinity or the humanity of Christ; those who distorted His word, adulterated His Truth and
who thus teach the people (Matthew 9:19). These may not be able to kill off Christ, but by
demoting Him, they are killing mankind, because they are offering it a mock Christ one that
is incapable of saving. Furthermore, the confining of Christ to a certain aspect of Him only (a
great teacher, a miracle-worker, a social reformer, etc.) also constitutes a refuting of Christ as
well as a clear denial of Him. Christ saves, when He is accepted in His fullness, the way He
revealed Himself, as the Son of the living God (Matthew 16:17). This was the way that the
Apostles and the Disciple accepted Christ, and this is the way that the saved ones will be
accepting Him, throughout the ages. This is why:

9. Correct Christology ensures salvation

Christs question to His Disciples: who do the people say that I am? (Matthew 16:16) posed
precisely that problem. If this question is not replied correctly, that is, in the context of
authentic Christology, there can be no possibility of salvation for mankind. Quite often, the
Person of Christ is falsified. All the Christological heresies offer a nonexistent Christ; one
who is entirely irrelevant to the Christ Who was incarnated for our salvation. Docetism,
Arianism, Nestorianism, Monophysitism, Monotheletism, Monoenergetism, through to the
contemporary falsifications of the Jehovahs Witnesses, the Scientologists, e.a.. The
hypothetically accepted Christ is not the Christ of History, but of deception and metaphysical
The adulteration of the Faith in Christ in the area of the dogma has, as an unavoidable
consequence, the adulteration of Christs word in the social sphere also. On the contrary, the
Church, as a community of Saints, uninterruptedly delivers from generation to generation the
one Christ, the true Christ, in the midst of the various heretic forgeries of Him. This is

accomplished through the sermons and the poemantics of the Holy Fathers, the Ecumenical
Synods, the liturgical practice and the spiritual lifestyle of the struggling faithful.
Within the multi-named heretic deceptions, a Christ-less Christianity is forming. This is the
result of the tragic confusion that prevails in our time; a confusion that is worsened by the
introduction of mankind into the insanity of the New World Order and the New Age. This
is the darkest and therefore the most dangerous period of human history, because it has
been linked to mythologizing (for example, of the year 2000), to occult theories (for example,
Aquariusthe devil will be taking the place of PiscesChrist), to Chiliast expectations (visions of
thorough bliss), when the fact is, the old world is being resuscitated, with all its pathology
and its pathogenesis. The much-advertised by its supporters and propagandists new system
of globalization, despite its certain positive aspects, is essentially leading towards a
planetary society with a levelling of all cultural and ethnic particularities, shaped thus by a
unified education and controlled Mass Media. The course of events towards one flock which could be construed as a fulfillment of Christs words (John 10:16) - is overshadowed by
the instinctive query: Yes, but under which shepherd? Will the shepherd be that Christ, as he
said, or the pseudo-Christ of the New Age?
Never has the Person of Christ been so demoted, nor Christianity threatened, the way it is being
demoted in the confines of the Pan-Religion being assembled by the New Age. The
congregations of the pan-religious New Age movement (in Assisi, 1, 2 and 3) leave no margin
for doubt. Pan-Religion is also being promoted with the participation and representation of the
Christian world, whereby the All-Holy Person of Christ is levelled and refuted altogether, by
being dragged into the other manufactured deities of this Fallen world. Never has the
uniqueness and exclusivity of Christ as Savior of the world been doubted so directly and
absolutely. And for this alone, the New Age is historically the greatest of all challenges for
Orthodoxy. What the Devil did not succeed in accomplishing with persecutions and heresies,
he is now attempting to achieve through the renewed ecumenism of a Pan-Religion.
Orthodoxy is called upon to salvage its truth regarding Christ, by remaining faithful to the
Tradition of its Saints, so that Christ is enabled to remain the life and the hope of the world.


If we wished to conventionally define Christianity, as Orthodoxy, we would say it is the

experiencing of the presence of the Uncreated (=of God) throughout history, and the potential of
creation (=mankind) becoming God by Grace.

Given the perpetual presence of God in Christ, in historical reality, Christianity offers mankind
the possibility of theosis, just as Medical Science offers mankind the possibility of preserving or
restoring his health through a specific therapeutic procedure and a specific way of life.
The writer is in a position to appreciate the coincidence between the medical and ecclesiastic
poemantic sciences, because, as a diabetic and a Christian, he is aware that in both cases, he has
to faithfully abide by the rules that have been set out, in order to attain both goals.
The unique and absolute goal of life in Christ is theosis, in other words, our union with God, so
that man - through his participation in Gods uncreated energy may become by the Grace of
God that which God is by nature (=without beginning and without end). This is what
salvation means, in Christianity. It is not the moral improvement of man, but a re-creation, a
re-construction in Christ, of man and of society, through an existing and an existential
relationship with Christ, Who is the incarnate manifestation of God in History. This is what the
Apostle Pauls words imply, in Corinthians II 5:17 : If someone is in Christ, he is a new
creation. Whoever is united with Christ is a new creation.
That is why Christianically speaking the incarnation of God-Logos - this redemptory
intrusion of the Eternal and the Beyond-time God into Historical time represents the
commencement of a new world, of a (literally) New Age, which continues throughout the
passing centuries, in the persons of authentic Christians: the Saints. The Church exists in this
world, both as the body of Christ as well as in Christ, in order to offer salvation, through
ones embodiment in this regenerative procedure. This redemptory task of the Church is
fulfilled by means of a specific therapeutic method, whereby throughout history, the Church
essentially acts as a universal Infirmary. Spiritual Infirmary (spiritual hospital) is the
characterization given to the Church by Saint John the Chrysostom (407).
Further along, we shall examine the answers that respond to the following questions:

What is the sickness that Christian Orthodoxy cures?

What is the therapeutic method it implements?

What is the identity of authentic Christianity, which radically distinguishes it from all its
heretic deviations, and from every other form of religion?
1. The sickness of human nature is the fallen state of mankind, along with all of creation, which
likewise suffers (sighs and groans together Romans 8:22) along with mankind. This
diagnosis applies to every single person (regardless whether they are Christian or not, or
whether they believe or not), on account of the overall oneness of mankind (ref. Acts 17:26).
Christian Orthodoxy does not confine itself within the narrow boundaries of one religion which cares only for its own followers but, just like God, wants all people to be saved and to
arrive at the realization of the truth (Timothy I, 2:4), since God is the Saviour of all mankind
(Timothy I, 4:10). Thus, the sickness that Christianity refers to pertains to all of mankind;

Romans 5:12: death has come upon all people, since all of them have sinned (=they have
veered from their path towards theosis). Just as the fall (i.e. sickness) is a panhuman issue, so is
salvation-therapy directly dependent on the inner functions of each person.
The natural (authentic) state of a person is (patristically) defined by the functioning inside him
of three mnemonic systems; two of which are familiar and monitored by medical science, while
the third is something handled by pastoral therapeutics. The first system is cellular memory
(DNA), which determines everything inside a human organism. The second is the cerebral
cellular memory, brain function, which regulates our association with our self and our
environment. Both these systems are familiar to medical science, whose work it is to maintain
their harmonious operation.
The experience of the Saints is familiar with one other mnemonic system: that of the heart, or
noetic memory, which functions inside the heart. In Orthodox tradition, the heart does not
only have a natural operation, as a mere pump that circulates the blood. Furthermore, according
to patristic teaching, neither the brain nor the central nervous system is the center of our selfawareness; again, it is the heart, because, beyond its natural function, it also has a supernatural
function. Under certain circumstances, it becomes the place of our communion with God, or,
His uncreated energy. This is of course perceived through the experience of the Saints, and not
through any logical function or through an intellectual theologizing.
Saint Nicodemus of the Holy Mountain (1809), in recapitulating the overall patristic tradition
in his work Hortative Manual ( ), calls the heart a natural and
supernatural center, but also a paranormal center, whenever its supernatural faculty becomes
idle on account of the heart being dominated by passions. The hearts supernatural faculty is
the ultimate prerequisite for perfection, for mans fulfillment, in other words, his theosis, for a
complete embodiment in the communion in Christ.
In its supernatural faculty, the heart becomes the space where the mind can be activated. In the
Orthodox terminology codex, the nous ( - appearing in the New Testament as the spirit
of man and the eye of the soul) is an energy of the soul, by means of which man can know
God, and can reach the state of seeing God. We must of course clarify that knowledge of God
does not imply knowledge of His incomprehensible and inapproachable divine essence. This
distinction between essence and energy in God is the crucial difference between Orthodoxy
and all other versions of Christianity. The energy of the mind inside the heart is called the
noetic faculty of the heart. We again stress that according to Orthodoxy, the Mind (nous) and
Logic (logik) are not the same thing, because logic functions within the brain, whereas the
mind functions within the heart.
The noetic faculty is manifested as the incessant prayer (ref. Thessalonians I, 5:17) of the Holy
Spirit inside the heart (ref. Galatians 4:6, Romans 8:26, Thessalonians I 5:19) and is named by
our Holy Fathers as the memory of God. When man has in his heart the memory of God, in
other words, when he hears in his heart the voice (Corinthians I 14:2, Galatians 4:6, etc.), he

can sense God dwelling inside him (Romans 8:11). Saint Basil the Great in his 2nd epistle
says that the memory of God remains incessant when it is not interrupted by mundane cares,
and the mind departs towards God; in other words, when it is in communion with God. But
this does not mean that the faithful who has been activated by this divine energy withdraws
from the needs of everyday life, by remaining motionless or in some kind of ecstasy; it means
that his Mind is liberated from these cares, which are items that preoccupy only his Logic. To
use an example that we can relate to: A scientist, who has re-acquired his noetic faculty, will
use his logic to tackle his problems, while his nous inside his heart will preserve the memory of
God incessantly. The person who preserves all three mnemonic systems is the Saint. To
Orthodoxy, he is a healthy (normal) person. This is why Orthodoxys therapy is linked to mans
course towards holiness.
The non-function or the below-par function of mans noetic faculty is the essence of his fall. The
much-debated ancestral sin was precisely mans mishandling from that very early moment
of his historical presence- of the preservation of Gods memory (=his communion with God)
inside his heart. This is the morbid state that all of the ancestral descendants participate in;
because it was no moral or personal sin, but a sickness of mans nature (Our nature has
become ill, of this sin, observes Saint Cyril of Alexandria - 444), which is transmitted from
person to person, exactly like the sickness that a tree transmits to all the other trees that
originate from it.
Inactivating the noetic faculty or the memory of God, and confusing it with the function of the
brain (which happens to all of us), subjugates man to stress and to the environment, and to the
quest for bliss through individualism and an anti-social stance. While ill because of his fallen
state, man uses God and his fellow man to secure his personal security and happiness. Personal
use of God is found in religion (=the attempt to elicit strength from the divine), which can
degenerate into a self-deification of man (I became a self-idol says Saint Andrew of Crete, in
his Major Canon). The use of fellow-man -and subsequently creation in general- is achieved
by exploiting them in every possible way. This, therefore, is the sickness that man seeks to cure,
by becoming fully incorporated in the spiritual hospital of the Church.
2. The purpose of the Churchs presence in the world as a communion in Christ- is mans cure;
the restoration of his heart-centered communion with God; in other words, of his noetic
faculty. According to the professor fr. John Romanides, the patristic tradition is neither a
social philosophy, nor a system of morals, or a religious dogmatism; it is a therapeutic method.
In this context, it is very similar to Medicine and especially Psychiatry. The noetic energy of the
soul that prays mentally and incessantly inside the heart is a natural instrument, which
everyone possesses and is in need of therapy. Neither philosophy, nor any of the known
positive or social sciences can cure this instrument. This is why the incurable cases are not
even aware of this instruments existence.
The need for man to be cured is a panhuman issue, related firstly to the restoration of every
person to his natural state of existence, through the reactivation of the third mnemonic faculty.

However, it also extends to mans social presence. In order for man to be in communion with
his fellow man as a brother, his self-interest (which in the long run acts as self-love) must be
transformed into selflessness (ref. Corinthians I, 13:8): love.does not ask for reciprocation..).
Selfless love exists: it is the love of the Triadic God (Romans 5:8, John I 4:7), which gives
everything without seeking anything in exchange. That is why Christian Orthodoxys social
ideal is not common possessions, but the lack of possessions, as a willed resignation from
any sort of demand. Only then can justice be possible.
The therapeutic method that is offered by the Church is the spiritual life; the life in the Holy
Spirit. Spiritual life is experienced as an exercise (Ascesis) and a participation in the Uncreated
Grace, through the Sacraments. Ascesis is the violation of our self-ruled and inanimate through
sin nature, which is coursing headlong into a spiritual or eternal death, i.e. the eternal
separation from the Grace of God. Ascesis aspires to victory over our passions, with the
intention of conquering the inner subservience to those pestiferous focal points of man and
participating in Christs Cross and His Resurrection.
The Christian, who is practicing such restraint under the guidance of his Therapist-Spiritual
Father, becomes receptive to Grace, which he receives through his participation in the
sacramental life of the ecclesiastic corpus. There cannot be any non-practicing Christian, just as
there cannot be a cured person who does not follow the therapeutic advice that the doctor
prescribed for him.
3. The above lead us to certain constants, which verify the identity of Christian Orthodoxy:
(a) The Church as the body of Christ- functions as a therapy Centre-hospital. Otherwise, it
would not be a Church, but a Religion. The Clergy were initially selected by the cured, in
order to function as therapists. The therapeutic function of the Church is preserved today,
mostly in Monasteries which, having survived secularism, continue the Church of Apostolic
(b) The scientists of ecclesiastic therapy are the already cured persons. Those who have not
had the experience of therapy cannot be therapists. That is the essential difference between the
poemantic therapeutic science and medical science. The scientists of ecclesiastic therapy
(Fathers and Mothers) bring forth other Therapists, just as the Professors of Medicine bring
forth their successors.
(c) The Churchs confining itself to a simple forgiveness of sins so that a place in paradise may
be secured constitutes alienation and is tantamount to medical science forgiving the patient, so
that he might be healed after death! The Church cannot send someone to Paradise or to Hell.
Besides, Paradise and Hell are not places, they are ways of existence. By healing mankind, the
Church prepares the person so that he might eternally look upon Christ in His uncreated light
as a view of Paradise, and not as a view of Hell, or as an all-consuming fire (Hebrews 12:29).
And this of course concerns every single person, because ALL people shall look eternally upon
Christ, as the Judge of the whole world.

(d) The validity of science is verified by the achievement of its goals (i.e., in Medicine, it is the
curing of the patient). It is the way that authentic scientific medicine is distinguished from
charlatanry. The criterion of poemantic therapy by the Church is also the achievement of
spiritual healing, by opening the way towards theosis. Therapy is not transferred to the
afterlife; it takes place during mans lifetime, here, in this world (hinc et nunc). This can be seen
in the undeteriorated relics of the Saints which have overcome biological deterioration, such as
the relics of the Eptanisos Saints: Spiridon, Gerasimos, Dionysios and Theodora Augusta.
Undeteriorated relics are, in our tradition, the indisputable evidence of theosis, or in other
words the fulfillment of the Churchs ascetic therapy.
I would like to ask the Medical scientists of our country to pay special attention to the issue of
the non-deterioration of holy relics, given that they havent been scientifically interfered with,
but, in them is manifest the energy of Divine Grace; because it has been observed that, at the
moment when the cellular system should begin to disintegrate, it automatically ceases to, and
instead of emanating any malodour of decay, the body emanates a distinctive fragrance. I limit
this comment to the medical symptoms, and will not venture into the aspect of miraculous
phenomena as evidence of theosis, because that aspect belongs to another sphere of discussion.
(e) Lastly, the divine texts of the Church (Holy Bible, Synodic and Patristic texts) do not
constitute coding systems of any Christian ideology; they bear a therapeutic character and
function in the same way that university dissertations function in medical science. The same
applies to the liturgical texts, as for example the Benedictions. The simple reading of a
Benediction (prayer), without the combined effort of the faithful in the therapeutic procedure of
the Church, would be no different to the instance where a patient resorts to the doctor for his
excruciating pains, and, instead of an immediate intervention by the doctor, he is limited to
being placed on an operating table, and being read the chapter that pertains to his specific
This, in a nutshell, is Orthodoxy. It doesnt matter whether one accepts it or not. However, with
regard to scientists, I have tried to scientifically respond to the question: What is Orthodoxy?
Any other version of Christianity constitutes a counterfeiting and a perversion of it, even if it
aspires to presenting itself as something Orthodox.
1. The Uncreated = Something that has not been manufactured. This applies only to the Triune
God. The created = Creation in general, with man at its apex. God is not a universal power,
as designated by New Age terminology (everything is one, everyone is God!), because, as the
Creator of all, He transcends the entire universe, given that in essence He is Something
entirely different (Das ganz Andere). There is no analogous association between the created
and the Uncreated. That is why the Uncreated makes Himself know, through His selfrevelation.

2. A significant Christian text of the 2nd century, The Poemen (Shepherd) of Hermas, says
that in order for us to become members of the Body of Christ, we must be squared stones
(=suitable for building) and not rounded ones!
3. According to fr. John Romanides, to whom we essentially owe the return to the
Philokalian (=therapeutic-ascetic) view of our Faith, and in fact at an academic level;
Religion implies every kind of associating of the uncreated and the created, as is done in
idolatry. The religious person projects his prejudices (=thoughts, meanings) into the divine
realm, thus manufacturing his own God (this can also occur in the non-Patristic facet of
Orthodoxy). The aim is atonement, placation of the divine and finally, the utilizing
of God to ones own advantage (the magic formula: do ut des). In our tradition however, our
God does not need to be placated, because He first loved us (John I 4:19) Our God acts as
Love (John I, 4:16) and selfless love at that. He gives us everything, and never asks for
anything in return from His creations. This is why selflessness is the essence of Christian love,
which goes far beyond the notion of a transaction.
4. This is expressed by the familiar and oft-repeated liturgical chant: Ourselves and each
other, and our entire life, let us appose unto Christ our Lord. Proper incorporation is normally
found in Monasteries, wherever they function in the orthodox tradition of course. That is why
Monasteries (for example those of the Holy Mountain) continue to be the model parishes of
this world.

FROM WATER AND SPIRIT - (The Theology of the Holy Baptism)

1. The major interpreter of the Divine Liturgy, Saint John Kavasilas (14th century) links the
existence of the Church to Her sacraments. The Church is denoted (revealed) by the
sacraments he underlines, implying chiefly with this the par excellence sacrament of the
Church: the Divine Eucharist. There can be no ecclesiastic reality without sacraments; in other
words, possibilities for partaking of uncreated Divine Grace and at the same time, the means for
experiencing its Spiritual character. The Church is demarcated, revealed, manifested and
realized in Her sacraments and more especially, in the Divine Eucharist. According to the same

theologian,: This is the road that the Lord carved out when coming to us, and this is the gate
that He opened up when entering the world, which, when returning to the Father, He did not
wish to close, but by Him and through it, does He contact the people [] For these are the
things by which we live in Him, and move, and are (Acts 17:28) (PG 150, 304, 501-524).
The Church exists and is continually shaped in the sacraments and through the sacraments.
Her boundaries are designated, at local levels, only in compliance with the sacramental life of
the ecclesiastic body. Those living outside the sacramental life are outside the body of Christ.
Outside of this way of existence, Satan and his powers dominate. (Fr. John Romanides)
Each sacrament is a possibility for becoming incorporated into the ecclesiastic body; into the
divine-human reality of the Church, and for the transformation of the contra-natural way of
our fallen existence to the natural life and existence that renders Man receptive of Divine
Grace. It is within the sacraments that the nature of the faithful is made new, it is renovated
and deified. Besides, according to Saint Makarios, It is for this reason that our Lord came; so
that he might change the nature of and renovate and reconstruct this living being, which was
destroyed by passions on account of the Fall [] and He came to forge into new people, once
and for all, all those who believe in Him.
2. The first sacrament in this process of rebirth, but also the beginning and the prerequisite of
all the others, is the holy Baptism, the first of His gifts (PG 155, 185). The theology of the
Baptism is extensively expounded by he holy Fathers, from the so-called Apostolic ones to the
Major Fathers of the 4th and 5th centuries, and pursuant to them, up to Saint Nicholas Kavasilas
and Saint Simeon of Thessaloniki ( 1429). This teaching was summarized by Saint Basil the
Great, who defined the two basic purposes and the dynamics of the Baptism: (a) to abolish the
body of sin, so that it may never again bear fruits of death and (b) provide for the baptized to
live in the Spirit and bear fruits in sanctification (Galatians 5:22). This is the spiritual birth or
rebirth of man, which takes place, according to the word of Christ to Nicodemus, by water and
Spirit (John 3:5). According to the same Father, the water provides a representation of death,
receiving the body into it as though in burial, while the Spirit inserts life-giving force into it,
thus renovating souls, from the deadness of sin to the commencement of life from the
beginning. (PG 32, 129 and PG 31, 429-433). This is also touched on by Saint Gregory of Nyssa:
If one is not born it is said- out of water and Spirit, he is not able to enter the kingdom of God
(=the communion and partaking of Grace). Why were the two he continues- and not just the
Spirit, considered sufficient for the completion (fulfillment) of the Baptism? To this question,
he replies: Man is complex, not simple, as we can accurately observe, and it was on account of
this two-fold and joint status that he was allocated the related and similar medications for
therapy: for the visible body, palpable water, and for the invisible soul, the invisible Spirit,
which is invoked in faith, and comes inexplicably. (PG 46, 581B) Faith, of course, in the
Patristic linguistic code, is not a simple intellectual admission thereof, given that even the
demons believe (sic) and shudder (James 2:19), but the opening of ones heart to Grace, and
Mans self-abandonment in Gods Love.

Baptism, with the Grace provided by the Holy Spirit, sets in motion the Christians entire
spiritual course towards salvation. If you do not become joined to the simulation of His death,
how can you become a communicant of the Resurrection? asks Saint Basil the Great. Given that
Baptism is a force towards the resurrection (PG 31, 428A ). And according to Saint Simeon of
Thessaloniki, the baptized comes forth, to cast off the pollution of sin and faithlessness (=the
absence of spiritual relations with God), and to become new in whole, and to don te form of the
new Adam. (PG 155, 216B) Rebirth is when Man becomes of the same form as Christ (see
Romans 8:29), by donning the image of the celestial (1 Corinthians 15:49).
The supernatural results of the Baptism are pointed out by Saint Gregory of Nyssa: Baptism,
therefore, is the cleansing of sins, the remission of delinquencies, the cause of renovation and
rebirth; Rebirth must be understood as a meaning that is seen noetically, and not by the eyes
[] He that is spotted overall by sins and worn out by evil occupations, we, through a royal
grace, bring him back to the irresponsible state of an infant (PG 46, 580D) in other words, back
to the innocence of a baby. Patristic theologizing persists on the regenerative work of baptism.
The blessed Chrysostom thus poses the question: If baptism pardons all of our sins, why isnt
it called the bath of sin pardoning and instead is called the bath of regeneration? To which
he replies: It is called thus, because it does not simply cleanse us of our misdemeanors, but
instead (per John 3:7): it re-creates and re-composes us, not shaping us out of earth once again
[], but (re)creating us out of another element: the nature of water (PG 49, 227), hence the
reason for referring to a re-generation, a re-creation; in other words, a new and a once-again
creation. Which is exactly the significance of the Paulian expression new creation (2 Cor.
5:17), which presupposes the union of Man with Christ: if one is in Christ, (he is/has become) a
new creation.
The Christ-centered character of Baptism is therefore very obvious. This is pointed out by
Symeon of Thessaloniki: The Logos of God firstly acted philanthropically within Himself
(=implying the Sacraments), so that, by being the commencement of all good things, all of us
might receive from Him as though from a spring of His. For this is also why He was
incarnated; so that we might join ourselves to Him and be sanctified by Him, because He, the
Logos of God who created us from the beginning, He once again shall re-create us, with the
condescension of the Father and the collaboration of the Holy Spirit. (PG 155, 181A) The
Christological basis leads to the triadological dimension. The stations of Christs redemptive
opus act redemptively on Man. Just as the Incarnation of the Logos of God potentially re-creates
the deteriorated image of Man, thus likewise according to Saint Gregory Palamas- the Baptism
of Christ in the Jordan prepares for our own baptism, with all its salvific benefits. It is for this
reason that He Himself simulated this by being baptized before us He, who is also the
physician of our souls, the savior of our spirits, Who has taken away the sins of the world that
is, Christ, Whom we are celebrating today. Because along with Him, He permeates the water
with the grace of the Holy Spirit, which He has drawn from above, for those who are
pursuantly baptized the way He was, by being immerged in the water, where He will be in
Himself, and, enveloped by His Spirit, will secretly be joined to them, repleting all logical spirits
with the cleansing and enlightening grace. To recap, therefore, .having received (the

sacrament of) Baptism in emulation of our Lord and Teacher and Leader, we do not bury
ourselves in the soil (=the way He was buried after His death); instead, by going to the element
that is related to the soil the water- we immerse ourselves therein, the way that our Savior
immersed Himself in the earth, and by doing this three times, we depict on ourselves the thirdday grace of the Resurrection (PG 46, 585 AB ) This Patristic excerpt is a memorandum of
the baptismal act of Orthodoxy/Church; that is, our co-burial with Christ in the element of
water (with a triple immersion, as mentioned in the troparion .co-entombed with You,
through Baptism; repeated in Romans 6:4), and our partaking in His Resurrection, with the
triple emergence from the element of water.
3. Baptism simultaneously has a direct ecclesiastic reference. Through it, the saved ones
(Romans 6:3-5, Acts 2:27) become one with Christ (Romans 6:3), attaining the potential to
partake of the life in Christ - the ecclesiastic manner of existence - which leads to the renovation
of deteriorated nature. In practice, this means they are introduced into a new way of life one
that can preserve the rejuvenating grace which cannot otherwise occur magically and
automatically. This is possible, however, wherever the Churchs way of life has been preserved
(for example, in the orthodox monastic commune, or, in the similarly functioning Parishes in
the world) and not in the superficial-conventional parish reality to which worship has been
limited or perhaps limited while the rest of ones life is surrendered to the world
(secularization). Association with the Parish, as well as the structure itself of the Parish, both
usually function within a religious framework, and in this context, Christianity can be perceived
as a religion, its sacraments as the ritual magic and the clergymen as the witch-doctor of the
tribe community! However, in the life of the Church, nothing is without presuppositions.
To confine ourselves to Baptism, we should point out that in the New Testament, this
Sacrament is linked to sacrifice and martyrdom (Mark 10:39, Luke 12:50), but also to death
(Romans 6:4, Cols.2:12). These events of course do not have a metaphorical-symbolic meaning,
but are understood literally. Baptism is the actual entry into a life of martyrdom and sacrifice. In
Patristic Tradition (Dionysios Areopagite, Cappadocians, Maximus) one finds references to the
stage of those undergoing cleansing, which refers to ones preparation for enlightenment
(baptism) and the period of catechesis. As proved by the exorcisms that are nowadays
attached to the Sacrament of Baptism, the stage of Catechesis constituted the initiation of
the new Christian into the spiritual labor that will free him from the snare of Satan, through
the cleansing of his heart from every selfishness and egocentricity that obscures the mind and
distorts the candidates perception regarding the true union in the Church Besides, the
preparatory stage for baptism is referred to as a rite (), which means a gradual
initiation into the mysteries of the Church. The relevant ecclesiastic act has been recorded in the
7th Canon of the 2nd Ecumenical Synod (381). From the first day of his attendance in Church,
one would be called a Christian, and, as a catechumen, from the second day, he would be
acknowledged as being one of the faithful. However, this stage had to be followed by death
in the waters of baptism, in order to enter into the life of the corpus of the Church, of selfless
love, within the Sacraments. These are expressed in the Benediction cited on the first day, in
which benediction the course of the faithful is clearly described:

Upon Your name, o Lord, the God of Truth, and of Your only-begotten Son and of Your Holy
Spirit, I place my hand upon your servant (..), who has been made worthy of seeking refuge
in Your holy name and of being protected under the shelter of Your wings. Take away from him
that ancient deception and replete him with faith and hope and love in You, so that he will
know that You alone are God, the true God, and Your Only-begotten Son and Your Holy Spirit.
Grant him for all his days to walk the path of Your commandments and to safeguard whatever
is to Your liking. Write him in Your book of life and add him to the flock of Your
inheritance. This means: entering upon the commencement of his new life.
4. The mystery of the in Christ new existence is ministered and annotated by the entire
officiating (ritual) of the Baptism; the incorporation of the Catechesis together with the
Exorcisms in the Service of the Sacrament somewhat diminishes their place in the prebaptismal act of the Church. However, the course towards Baptism is linked to the procedure
as mentioned- of freeing Man from the power of the Devil, thus rendering possible his accession
into the in Christ communion. The way, by which Man is freed of the devil, is a difficult one
and demands a lengthy stage of prayer, fasting and studentship in the teachings of Christ and
of the Prophets. (Fr. John Romanides) A realistic verification of the ancient Churchs practice is
possible nowadays, in the life of a communal Monastery, in which, despite the imperfections of
the persons, the liturgical declaration ourselves and each other and our entire life let us appose
to Christ the Lord continues to apply a declaration that from the beginning has comprised
the purpose of ecclesiastic monasticism.
The reinstatement of the faithfuls partaking of the life in Christ is made possible by the
cleansing of fallen Creation, which grieves and sighs together with him in its simultaneous
fall with Man (Romans 8:22). Given that Man is a part of creation, his communion with God
can be restored, only through Creation. Man and Creation are saved together. It is for this
reason that the water of Baptism must be exorcised and cleansed of demonic powers prior to
ones entry into Baptism. Besides, the immersion in the water renders Baptism a true
likeness of the faithfuls death in Christ. (Romans 6:5). The water becomes the image of
the new life (Romans 6:4); the new in Christ reality. According to Dionysios Areopagite,
baptism is a ritual of theogenesis" that is, a persons rebirth in God. Furthermore, Saint
Gregory of Nyssa also speaks of a birth at this point: This birth is gestated through faith;
through the rebirth of baptism it is led to the light; its wet-nurse becomes the Church. (PG
46, 604) Baptism is, precisely, a immersion into the life of the Church, who grafts into Her
body, into Her divine-human nature, a new human person; She incorporates it into the oneness
of the life and the personal communion of the Saints. With Baptism and Mans true partaking
of the new, in Christ life, the faithful is inoculated into the ethos and the manner of existence
of the ecclesiastic corpus. Because Baptism is, precisely, not the end, but the beginning of a
course, which reaches its apex with the perfection of the faithful that is, his deification which
is the complete and fulfilled incorporation in the body of Christ. This is what is expressed by a
benediction of the Service: Disrobe him of the oldness, and renovate him in the eternal life, and
replete him with the power of Your Holy Spirit, for union with Your Christ, so that he is no
longer a child of a body, but a child of Your Rule.

5. Precedent to the Baptismal Service benedictions are: the Canons of the Holy Apostles and
divine Fathers (Apostles 47th, 49th, 50th; 7th of the 2nd Ecum.Council, Laodicea 48th;
Neocaesaria 6th, Timoth.Alex. 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 6th and 111th Carthage), who, in response to
heretic provocations, determined the true Baptism of the Church (triple immersion and
emersion) and its ecclesiological prerequisites, rejecting all the heretic cacodoxies that had been
linked to it. Orthodoxy, wherever it may exist, reverently persists in the immersion of a person;
in other words, the true and literal baptism (Greek: baptise=to dip, to plunge). The
contemporary baptismal font, which is the continuation of the ancient baptistery, functions as
the womb of re-creation: just as the womb is to the embryo, so the water is to the faithful;
he is shaped and fashioned within the water(Saint John Chrysostom, PG 59, 153). The triple
immersion into and emersion from the water of the Baptism is not a tutorial model or an
allegory; it is a perceptible experience of an actual event. With Baptism, the human existence
ceases to be the result of a biological necessity. Contrary to natural birth, which comprises a
biological unit that is subject to natural data, Baptism re-erects the existence, into a freedom
from natural necessity; into a personal otherness which exists only as an ecclesiological
hypostasis of communion and a loving association.
The death of the former person and the rebirth of the faithful is, thus, not a mere moral event,
but a sacramental and liturgical one, because the one who dies and is resurrected in
Christ is reborn spiritually within the body of the Lord and receives the seal of eternal life, by
donning Christ. This is the eschatological aspect of the sacrament. Baptism for the one being
baptized- is a pre-engraving and a prelude of the eschatological life of the heavenly
kingdom. That is why it is referred to as the first resurrection: because it is the power that
leads to the final resurrection.
The observation is correct, that during the entire Service of the Baptism, no mention is made
regarding the forgiveness of any ancestral guilt. In the exorcisms also, no reference is made to
the catechumens personal sins. Liturgically, the sacrament is not bound to any sense of
legal absolution of sins. The Service itself revolves around everything that pertains to the
induction of the one baptized into the communion of the Church his release from slavery to
the devil will lead him to his entrance into the heavenly kingdom and his coupling with
a radiant angel, who will deliver him from every scheming of the opposing one (Fr. John
Romanides). The prayer of the ecclesiastic body at this point is: .and make him(her) a logical
sheep of your Christs holy flock; a precious member of your Church; a sanctified vessel; a
son(daughter) of light and inheritor of your kingdom, the ultimate goal being the partaking of
the uncreated kingdom and glory of the Triadic Divinity (so that by living according to your
commandments and keeping the seal unbroken and the robe unpolluted, he/she will be
bestowed the blessedness of the Saints (=deification), in Your Kingdom.
6. A significant aspect of the Sacrament is the Anadochos (=godparent, sponsor). A
theological expounding of the subject is provided by Saint Simeon of Thessaloniki (PG, 155,
213f), where he details the function of the godparent. One note at the end of the ritual of the
Sacrament is extremely noteworthy: after which, he (the officiator) places it (the infant) by

the doors of the sanctum. Thus, after having thrice prostrated himself, the Godparent receives it
in his arms and exits from there, having thus re-accepted the new member of the Church. In
this way, the mission of the godparent is expressed in practice. According to Saint Simeon, the
godparent is the (baptized childs) guarantor in Christ, that it will preserve everything of the
Faith and live in the Christian manner. It also gives the godparent his/her ecclesiastic identity:
where one should be careful to make pious godparents and almost teachers of the faith. Let
us remember here the case of political marriages and the (rightful) refusal of many of our
Bishops to allow the politically married person to perform the duties of godparent, because, as a
denier of a Sacrament of the Church, he is rendered guilty of everything (James 2:10). Saint
Simeon even defines the dysfunctions that are noted: But to me, it sounds he says- extremely
inappropriate and heavy. Because some invite persecutors and slanderers of the faith, atheists
and heretics, (woe!) to be godparents of their children, as if for something human, and they
violate the sacrament; these not only enlighten the children; rather, they lead them into
It is in this context that the matter of infant baptism arises, thus causing untimely discussions.
Infant baptism which was already known in the ancient Church (see for example I Corinthians
1:16) prevailed because the infant is open to Grace, but also for a most powerful
anthropological reason: The absolute need for infant baptism springs from the fact that
children are born under the power of the devil on account of the powerlessness of nature, of
body and of soul, which are governed by death and deterioration that are inherited from their
parents, and also because of their union with fallen creation and everything dependent on it.
Needless to say, of course, that respect for the spirit of the Church demands that infant baptism
apply in cases of pious parents and godparents, who keep alive their association with the
ecclesiastic body, just as no-one dares to baptize children of non-Christians, since they will not
have the opportunity for Christian upbringing.
7. Besides, it must be underlined that one is baptized, not in the sense of a conventional entry
into the ecclesiastic community and the acquisition of certain legal rights, but for ones
securing his partaking of Grace that is transmitted through the sacrament, which opens the way
to in Christ perfection (Matthew 5:48, Ephesians 5:1), expressed by selfless love (Romans 14:7,
I Corinthians 10:24, 13:1e, Galatians 5:13; 6:1 etc.). Basil the Great links Baptism under strictly
ecclesiastic prerequisites with holy-patristic enlightenment, which leads again under
prerequisites to theosis/deification: ..for the unbaptized shall not be enlightened. And
without light, neither can the eye see its own, nor will the soul be able to tolerate the sight of
God. (PG 31, 428A )
Furthermore, with Baptism the door opens for the faithful to enter the in Christ communion
with the other members of the Lords Body. As fr. Alex. Schmemann observes: It is with
Baptism and through Baptism [] that we encounter the first and fundamental significance of
the Church. Through Baptism, the entrance of the neophyte into a certain community is
achieved the Church, as a body in which he will incessantly battle for the final victory over the

devil and sin; for his authentic incorporation into the community of Gods children (John
Consequently, Baptism becomes the entrance to the life of a specific local community, and not
to a general universal notion of Christianity. Furthermore, it is only natural for all these
things to have disappeared in our day, with the activity that distinguishes the members of the
Church. Essentially, the idea of the local Church-Parish is disappearing, especially when
churchgoing is directed by other motives, not ecclesiastic ones (i.e., the search for priests or
cantors with good voices, choirs and the suchlike), for the personal enjoyment of the Liturgy.
But this is where the words of the Chrysostom apply: The Church is not a theatre, to listen to it
for our pleasure! (PG 49, 58). At Baptism however, as already mentioned, that which must die
is our self-centeredness and our self-sufficiency, in order to make communion with the other
members possible. Individuality is the inevitable outcome of the Fall, as well as the mortifying
of selflessness, which is sacrificed to the instinctive search for self-gratification and bliss. Hence,
Baptism under the proper presuppositions leads to Mans churchification and
ecclesiasticism; in other words, to the transformation of his individuality into an ecclesiastic
existence. But this is not something self-understood and without prerequisites. Everything in
the Church is the fruit of collaboration with Divine Grace. And this requires predisposition and
struggle on the part of Man. There can be no automation in the Church, since Divine Grace does
not abolish human freedom as a potential choice, either to accept or to reject (see John 5:6).
8. This becomes especially perceptible in the case where the one freed from the power of the
devil needs to remain within the limits of his in Christ freedom (Hebrew 6:4). For, having
died as sinners through divine baptism observes Saint Gregory Palamas we are obliged to
live virtuously for God, so that even the lord of darkness, when he comes seeking, shall not find
anything in us that is to his liking. And just as Christ, having risen from the dead, death no
longer conquers Him, so must we, after our resurrection from the downfall of sin through
divine baptism, must strive to no longer hold on to sin. This is described even more intensely
by Saint Gregory of Nyssa, in expressing the same conscience and act: For this reason, and
even after the acquisition of the status of adoption, the devil conspires even more fiercely,
envying with a malignant eye whenever he sees the beauty of a newly-made man hurrying
towards the heavenly city - from whence he had lapsed - arousing fiery temptations within us
with the intent to sully the second decoration, just as he had with the former world. But
whenever we sense his attacks, it behoves us to say to ourselves the apostolic saying:
whomsoever of us are baptized in Christ, are baptized unto His death. If therefore we become
conformant to His death, most assuredly will sin be dead inside us, having been destroyed by
the spear of baptism, just as that fornicator was, by the zealot Fineas.. (PG 46, 597)
The above signify that according to the conscience and the experience of the Saints, baptism
itself does not secure salvation, but rather, it introduces and leads Man to the beginning of the
path that leads to the life in Chris and therefore to salvation in Christ. According to John the
Chrysostom, Mans continuous partaking of the vivifying energy of the Holy Spirit is not a
once-only guaranteed thing that is guaranteed by baptism. Let us therefore not be

encouraged to believe that we have once and for all become members of the Body of Christ
(PG 60, 23). Life in Christ demands a constant spiritual struggle, in order to make possible the
activation of the Grace acquired through Baptism. But also according to saint Gregory Palamas,
even though the Lord has revived us through holy baptism, and sealed us through the
grace of the Holy Spirit for the day of redemption, while still having a mortal and impassioned
body, and having cast out the cause that filled the treasuries of our soul with evil, yet He allows
external offensives, so that the reborn person (..), when living charitably and in repentance,
disdaining the pleasures of life and suffering the afflictions and being exercised by the attacks of
the opposing one, will prepare himself for the reception of incorruptibility. (PG 151, 213B)
This is the way that the great hesychast defines the course of the faithful after Baptism, as a
course leading towards incorruptibility (=deification): as a constant struggle against the devil
and sin.
This is why catechism after Baptism was instituted from the very first centuries, along with the
sacrament of repentance as a second kind of baptism, which would serve as a toning of the
faithfuls spiritual struggle so that he might remain receptive of Divine Grace. As saint Gregory
Palamas teaches: Which is why, after holy Baptism, deeds of contrition are required; in the
absence of which, the reason for ones promise to God is not only non-beneficial, but also
condemns man. (see Peter II, 2:21). And he continues: For God is living and true, and He asks
from us true promises and a living faith, not a dead one; otherwise, without works, it is a dead
faith. (see James 2:18)
9. In this context, it becomes necessary to mention that the linking of Baptism and the Divine
Eucharist is not self-understood, if it lacks a spiritual continuity. The oft-said statement that a
prerequisite for participation in the Divine Eucharist is that one must be baptized a Christian
denotes that the person has entered into the life - the manner of existence - of the Church and
that he is engaged in a spiritual struggle in order to remain receptive of Grace. This means that
the one entering the ecclesiastic body through Baptism is simultaneously enlisted in a
permanent and incessant struggle for repentance, in order to remain within the body (to be
one with the body).
Christianity means a way of life different to the worldly one (John 17:9-19). Faithful means to
be crucified along with ones passions and desires and having become of Christ (Galatians
5:24). He lives in the Spirit and therefore is aligned (behaves accordingly) to the Spirit
(Galatians 5:25). The fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:25) is the Spirits presence being revealed
in the heart that has been cleansed of its passions. Catharsis is what one strives for in his
spiritual struggle, so that Man may remain open to Divine Grace.
A pure example of this course but also a historical model of authentic ecclesiastic living is
provided by monastic living. The monastic coenobium, within its Patristic boundaries, is the
authentic manner of ecclesiastic existence and the permanent standard for the secular Parish.
Already by the 4th century, at the beginning of the course and the development of organized
monastic living, the blessed Chrysostom made the following, most important observation:

Thus do the inhabitants of monasteries live nowadays (=at the end of the 4th century!), as did
the faithful (=of Jerusalem) then (in the 1st century). (PG 60, 98) Monasticism appeared as a
continuation of the genuine ecclesiastic way of life, when the dangers of secularization had
begun to loom threateningly. The familiar expression found in ecclesiastic history, that the
desert is turning into a city means precisely that; i.e., that the city has been transferred to the
remote desert, away from the others, in order to facilitate the in Christ way of life for the
completion of Baptism with their course towards deification. Monastic repentance the second
baptism is the renewal of the Baptism. Monks remain the light of the people, as a permanent
model of eccliasticity.
That is why we, the others, as members of our parishes, forever orient our gaze towards the
coenobitic monastery the parish of the desert having it as a steadfast indicator of our course
and our way of life that can preserve the gifts of the Baptism, and the course towards

1. Christian Worship
Ever since its founding on the Day of the Pentecost, Christianity (as the Church of Christ), was
expressed not only as a teaching but also as worship, which held a centremost place in its life.
Worship proved to be not only the means by which the Church expressed Her most profound
self, but also the par excellence means that shaped the faith and Her life overall. Without
being limited to worship alone, the life of the Church is transformed overall into a worship of
the Triune God, Who is Her absolute centre and its head.
Ecclesiastic worship is comprehended in Christ only, in Whom God is made known (John 1:18).
Faith in Christ as our God and Saviour is precedent to worship of Him. Christ is the One Who
differentiates the Christian faith from every other worship. The Christ-centred character of
ecclesiastic worship differentiated it radically, not only from the Gentile faith, but also from the
Jewish one. (see Hebrews, chapter 9). Whatever Gentile or Jewish ritualistic elements the
Church may have assumed, are only secondary in importance and peripheral, and they do not
affect Her worship.
An essential element of Christian worship is the esoteric one, i.e., the thanksgiving and
glorification of God for His gifts, from the heart. That is why Christian worship was founded
on what God did for Man and not what Man can do to please God and placate Him. It is not
intended as a religious ritual, but it is through it, that we have the manifestation of the Church
as the Body of Christ. The sole, true officiator of the Church is Jesus Christ (Hebrews 8:2),
Who, by His Person, introduced into History a different kind of priesthood. The terms priest,

sacrifice, priesthood in the Epistle to Hebrews the first liturgical text of the Church are
linked exclusively to Christ, the only authentic High Priest, Who offered and still offers the
perfect sacrifice Himself. His sacrifice in the worship of the Church is bloodless and spiritual,
and Christ is, after all, the offerer and the offered and the recipient of the sacrifice. It is not the
priests of the Church who perform the sacrifice (as is the case in the various religions of the
world); priests merely lend their hands to Christ, so that He may perform everything
(Chrysostom). All of the faithful with their Baptism and their Chrism partake of Christs
priesthood, inasmuch as they present their bodies as a living sacrifice a holy one, which is
pleasing to God. (Romans 12:1)
The Worship of the Church constitutes a revelation of the triple mystery of life: the mystery of
God, the mystery of Man and the mystery of Creation, as well as the association between the
three. In Orthodox Worship, one experiences the new Era that assaulted History with the
Incarnation of the Logos of God, and one is now also equipped with the potential for victory
over sin, over deterioration and death. Human existence overall places itself under Christs
authority and it glorifies the Triune God, the way He is glorified by the angelic Powers in the
heavens. (Isaiah 6:1)
In Christian worship, a two-fold movement takes place: Mans towards God (Who receives our
thanksgiving and glorification) and Gods towards Man (who is sanctified by Divine Grace).
This is a dialogue between the Creator and His creation; a meeting between Man and the True
One (John I, 5:20); an offering by an existence to its source, according to the words of the
Liturgy: Ourselves and each other and all of our life let us submit unto Christ the Lord. The
faithful offers thanks to God for his salvation and for Gods continuous gifts, which are more
bounteous than what we asked for. Man offers God bread and wine and he receives Body
and Blood of Christ in return; he offers up incense, and receives uncreated Grace. The
Churchs worship is not offered to God because He is in need of it; this worship is actually a
necessity for Man, who receives far more (and far more important things) than whatever he
may have to offer.
Worship is ecclesiastic, when it preserves its supernatural and spiritual character and when it
liberates Man, thence leading him into the perfect knowledge (cognition) of God (Ephesians
4:13, Revelation 4:10, 5:6, etc.); however, its purpose is not to bring heaven down to earth, but
to elevate Man and the world, towards the heavens. It gives Man (and Creation overall) the
potential to become baptized (to die and be resurrected) within Divine Grace.
2. Liturgical Order and Historical Evolution
Ecclesiastic worship has its own order, i.e., the sum of ritual formalities that govern it.
Typikon (Ritual) is the name of the special liturgical manual which provides the outline and
the structure of the Churchs worship, according to how the holy Fathers had formulated it over
the centuries. With its established order and liturgical unity, the Orthodox conscience was
preserved successfully - despite all the circumstantial readjustments and local particularities,

i.e., the natural flow of events that were observed in the past - thus enriching the liturgical act,
also fending off various cacodoxies and confronting the various heresies. However, the
development of ecclesiastic worship took place organically, with an inner order and
consistency, without its unity being disrupted. New elements resemble the branches of a tree,
which may spread out but still allow for its unimpeded growth. So it is with Orthodoxy, where
the Slav-speaking Churches observe the order of the Holy Monastery of Jerusalem (of Saint
Savvas), while the Hellenic-speaking ones are based mainly- on the order of the Great Church
of Christ (in Constantinople), of the Holy Studite Monastery. This difference in the order
observed does not disrupt the unity of Orthodox worship. The liturgical structure is specific,
and is common to all Orthodox Churches, as one can discern in an inter-Orthodox Divine
Various liturgical forms had already appeared, as early as ancient Christian times (the
Eastern form: Alexandrian, Antiochian or Syrian and Byzantine; the Western form: African,
Roman, Paleo-Hispanic or Mozarabian, Ambrosian, Paleo-Gallic, Celtic, etc.). The expulsion of
all the heresies that had arisen during the Churchs historical course had also contributed
towards the appearance of local differences, but in a spirit of freedom. This is why the various
liturgical forms are useful for discovering and verifying the liturgical evolution of the local
Churches, as well as their interaction within the framework of the unity of the Orthodox Faith.
One landmark in the evolution of ecclesiastic worship was the era of Constantine the Great,
with the inauguration of Constantinople-New Rome (in 330 A.D.) which opened up new,
cosmogonic perspectives. The development of every area of ecclesiastic life (=the work of the
holy Fathers) had an organic continuance, without this meaning in the slightest a falling away
from primeval Christianity. The post-313 victory over idolatry gave birth to a universal feeling
and theology of victory and triumph, which permeated even the very structures of worship.
Its development went hand-in-hand with the Synodic formulation of the Triadic Dogma, the
cultivation of theological letters, the organizing of monasticism, the erecting of a multitude of
temples etc. With a slow but steady pace, the particularities of worship were minimized and
ecumenical forms appeared, based on a stable and unchanging core, which assimilated and
united all local particularities. The fruits of these developments are the varying architectural
forms of temples, the development of liturgical cycles (daily, weekly, annual), the addition of
new feast-days and services. These developments are chronologically classified as follows: the
4th and 5th centuries are discerned for the vast liturgical flourishing and the profound changes
in worship; in the 6th and 7th centuries, the various forms are stabilized; in the 8th and 9th
centuries, the final, Byzantine form, is established, which, after the 14th and 15th centuries
(Hesychasm, Symeon of Thessaloniki), led to the liturgical order that continues to apply to this
The Byzantine form of Ecclesiastic Worship was reached through Monasticism, which
comprises the authentic continuation of the ecclesiastic community and the permanent
safeguarding of the purity and the witness of ecclesiastic living. Throughout the ages, it was

Monasticism that preserved the eschatological conscience, by fending off secularization. This is
why its impact on the Churchs course has proven to be not only definitive, but also beneficial.
Monasticism incorporated worship into its ascetic labors, putting a special emphasis on prayer
and, through the Prayer, turned its entire life into worship. Monasticism cultivated and
enriched the liturgical act, by offering the Church Her liturgical order and practically all of
Her hymnographical, musical and artistic wealth.
Following Monasticisms victory and the end of the Iconomachy issue (9th century), the
monastic form was passed on to the secular dioceses as well, and this form was to
eventually prevail throughout the Orthodox Church. The monasteries cultivated the main
structural elements of Orthodox worship; also its hymnography (poetry) and its music, and it is
in them, that the truth is preserved to this day - that worship is not just something in the life
of Orthodoxy, but that it is the center and the source of renovation and sanctification of every
aspect of our life.
3. The worshipping community
The Orthodox Church manifests Herself historically as a worshipping community. Even
heterodox such as Erich Seeberg (a major Protestant theologian) have called Her the religion of
worship on the ground of Christianity. During worship, the faithful partakes of his Churchs
way of existence, which is referred to as a feast of the first-born, a house of celebrants who
are eternally jubilating in an eschatological foretasting of the heavenly kingdom. The
Churchs worship was, from the very beginning, a community act; it was an act of the local
Church, and not of the faithful as individuals. During worship, the individual becomes a
member of the community in Christ (in which he enters with his Baptism) and then partakes
of the life of a specific, local community, and not some universal and generalized notion of
Christianity. In worship, the ecclesiastic body becomes evident with its local assembly. Even
private prayer is understood Orthodoxically as something within the ecclesiastic community as an extension if it. The Divine Eucharist in particular is the Mystery of the Church as a body,
and is also the scope of the liturgical act.
The Churchs worship unites the faithful, across Time, with all the Saints and the foregone
faithful, contemporaneously with the brethren who are presently living in Christ. The
Church is thus proven in Her worship as one flock, comprised of people and angels, and one
kingdom (Saint John the Chrysostom). This unity of the Church, with Christ at the center as
Her Head, is portrayed during the withdrawal of the Precious Gifts, when the distribution
of Holy Communion is completed. The Officiator withdraws (collects) inside the Holy
Chalice the Lamb Christ (of Whom both clergy and laity have just partaken), the portion
dedicated to the Theotokos, the Angels and all the Saints, and the portion for the living and the
deceased - this rite normally being performed by the head officiator, the Bishop, who comprises
the visible center of the Sacrament (the invisible center being Christ). Thus, the personal Body
of Christ is joined in a discernible and indivisible manner to His communal (collective)

Body His faithful. Inside the Holy Chalice is assembled the community of Faithful, together
with Christ and one another. Christ is thus manifested as the absolute center and the Head of
the Church; the Church as the Body of Christ, and the faithful both living and deceased as
members of that Body.
4. Churchifying the means
During worship, the Church transforms the elements of this century into realities of the
heavenly kingdom, thus giving a new meaning to their function and their point of reference.
One of these elements is: (a) the place. The Churchs worship quickly disengaged itself from the
Judean Temple and the Synagogue. The Divine Eucharist was initially performed in private
quarters - in the household ( ) - and a congregation of the faithful was called the
household church. Having developed in a Hellenistic environment, the Church assumed the
Hellenic term ecclesia (=the summoned ones), which was now used to likewise refer to the
congregating of the public (the people), but with Christ now as its centre and its Head. The
term for temple (ecclesia) was originally assigned to mean the congregating of the faithful in
Christ (John 4:21). Stephen the Deacon would proclaim that: the Lord on high does not reside
in handmade temples (Acts 7:48). After 313 A.D., the temple would acquire a special meaning
Christianically also.
The Temple, as the sacred place of a congregation, was linked to the notion of heaven on
earth, since the Churchs liturgy is an ascension of the faithful to the hyper-celestial Altar.
This is what is expressed by a hymn that says: while standing in the temple of Your glory, in
heaven do we think we stand.
There is a special service dedicated to the consecration of a Temple (The Consecration Service),
which expresses the Churchs theology regarding the Temple. The Saints throughout the ages
have never ceased to preserve Stephens awareness; for example, according to the blessed
Chrysostom (407): Christ with His coming cleansed all the universe; every place became a
place of prayer. In other words, the temple may facilitate congregating, but the
congregation never loses sight of its celestial perspective.
In a Byzantine temple, the icon of the Pantocrator (=the all-governing) Christ that is
positioned inside the central dome, gives the faithful the feeling of being under the paternal
supervision of God. One thus becomes aware of certain liturgical contrasts: below-above, earthheaven, secular-Saintly, death-life, endo-cosmic - exo-cosmic, etc. Through the eyes of the Saints
- the theumens (=those who have attained theosis) - we too can see the uncreated Light of the
celestial kingdom, during the liturgy of our Church. During the inauguration of a Temple,
fragments of holy relics are embedded inside the holy Altar, so that the Churchs worship will
forever be referred to the uncreated Divine Grace, which is resident in the relics of the Saints.
Thus, all the sacraments and sanctifying acts of the Church have their foundations in the Grace
of God, without being dependent on the moral cleanliness of the officiator. Everything linked
to the function of the temple is consecrated and sanctified: the holy vessels, the holy

vestments, the liturgical books, the icons, all of them being rendered channels of Divine
(b) In the Churchs worship, Time is also given a new meaning. The Churchs new perception of
Time is confined to the boundaries of Christian soteriology. Time is churchified, with the
transcending of its cyclical self (in Hellenism) and its linear self (in Judaism). Salvation in
the Christian sense is not an escape from Time and the world; it is a victory over the
fiendishness and the evil of this world, and the sin dwelling inside it (John 17:15). History and
Time are not abolished; they are innovated.
The Churchs liturgical Time does not lose its linearity, because it has a beginning and an end the fulfilment of Time (Galatians 6:4), which was realized with the incarnation of the God
Logos. Time was given a beginning by God during Creation, and its end is Christ, Who gives
a soteriological significance to every moment of Time (Behold, now is a welcome Time; behold,
now is a day of salvation (Corinthians II, 6:2). With the incarnation of the Logos of God,
History now heads towards Eschatological Times, because the End (Eschaton) is Christ, after
Whose incarnation nothing new is expected historically, except only the fulfilment of the
end, with His Second Coming. In worship, Christ is the One Who will Return; He is
Emmanuel, He is God amongst us (Matthew 1:23).
Liturgical Time also has a vertical dimension, since Christ and His uncreated Kingdom come
from above, thus showing us our eternal destination (let us lift up our hearts). The
Churchs liturgical time is experienced as the continuous presence of salvation. In the Churchs
worship, all three temporal dimensions (Past-Present-Future) are contracted into one, perpetual
Present of the Divine Presence. This is why we have so many references to the Present in our
liturgical language: Christ is born today, today Christ is baptized in the Jordan,
today is Christ suspended on a piece of wood. This is not an ordinary, historical
remembrance. Liturgically speaking, remembrance does not imply any intellectual recall or
historical repetition, because the events that are linked to our salvation took place once;
soteriologically, however, they also apply for all eternity. During worship, these events are
extended spiritually and are rendered events of the Present, so that every generation of faithful
may partake equally of the redemptive Grace that exudes from them. Our worship does not
aspire to provoking a Platonic sort of nostalgia, but to generating an awareness of our extending
into the Future - into the kingdom of God.
Thus, the worshipping Church re-constitutes the dimensions of Time, incorporating them into
the eternal now of the Divine Presence. The remembrance of the Past becomes a memory in
Christ, and the hope for the Future a hope in Christ. The Future acquires a hypostasis, just
like the life of the aeon to come (Hebrews 11:1), when the faithful has reached Sainthood the
union with uncreated divine Grace. Liturgically, we refer to a remembrance of the Future, since
everything moves in that direction. Every moment of Time is transformed into a time
() for Salvation. A par excellence time is a Feast day, a liturgical remembrance of
Gods gifts and His philanthropy. A Feast day is an expression of Mans nostalgia for the

eternal, as substantiated in the Saints and the soteriological events being commemorated. The
Feasts of the Church are linked, not to some myth (as is the case in idolatrous sacraments), but
to actual, historical persons and events. Already by the 1st century, the Feast of Sunday was
established as the first day of Creations restoration, i.e. the Day of the Resurrection. The Divine
Eucharist is the culmination of the Churchs celebration, and every day is an ecclesiastic Feast
day, inasmuch as the Divine Liturgy can be performed therein.
(c) Furthermore, ecclesiastic worship also ministers to the mystery of the Logos, in all its
aspects. The ecclesiastic and liturgical logos is expressed as benediction-prayer; as the recital of
Scriptures; as hymn-singing; as sermons; as the divine Eucharist (the breaking of bread Acts
2:42). These are but different aspects of the same mystery. In each one of these liturgical
expressions, it is the same Logos of God being offered, in a special way each time. The Logos of
God summons the members of His Body, so that He can dwell inside it. Without the divine
Logos, the sacrament is perceived as a magical medium; without the sacrament, the Logos is
transformed into a fleshless dogmatism or a religious ideology.
The Scriptural readings - with the Book of Psalms first is the offering of the recorded HolySpiritual experience of the Prophets and the Apostles, which presupposes the revelation of God
(=the Logos of God) within the heart of His Saints. Both the Old and the New Testaments are
recited during the ecclesiastic gathering, based on an order that was determined by our Holy
Fathers. The entire ecclesiastic assembly participates in the liturgical recital of the Scripture: the
Apostolic tract is read by one of the laity, while the Gospel tract is read by the Deacon and the
sermon is delivered by the Bishop or the Presbyter (Elder). The Scripture is recited
ecclesiastically; not in the usual prosaic or artistic, theatrical manner, but in a verbodal
(spoken-singing) manner, or in other words, half-chanted. This testifies that the Holy Bible is
not just any man-written book; it is Gods perpetual message through His Saints, during the
congregation of His faithful. In the Church, the Gospel is sacred and is bestowed special
honour; it is placed atop the holy Altar, it is honoured with prostrations, it is incensed, and the
people are blessed with it. The priests entry into the Sanctum with the Gospel is a declaration
of the resurrected Christs presence among us. The sermon, as the interpretation and the
consolidation of the Scriptural word, renders the Scriptural message a contemporary one to the
liturgical congregation. The liturgical sermon focuses not on how the gospel events
happened, but where they lead us. The Holy Bible is interpreted by the Church in the
Church, in direct association with Christ and the Saints, because it is only with the
enlightenment of the Holy Spirit that it can be comprehended and interpreted.
However, the liturgical logos-word is also articulated as the congregations response to God, in
the form of benedictions and hymns; Euchography and Hymnography are not only the
heart of ecclesiastic worship; they are also Byzantium/Romanias most significant literary
creation. The hymnals poetic form provides immense potential, inasmuch as it is the most
effective medium for the ritual requirements of the ecclesiastic body, which experiences and
confesses its faith by weaving words (logos) out of melody, for the Logos. The Churchs

hymnography becomes Her unsilencable voice, which confesses Her faith in a continuous
and blessed song of Orthodoxy.
(d) In ecclesiastic worship, Art is also churchified, in all its forms. The only art form that the
Church did not accept was sculpture, because of its obviously terrestrial character. In worship,
art becomes a theological language, ministering to the Eucharist experience of divine-human
communion. Liturgical art has beauty, order, rhythm, melody... however, these elements are
rendered functional-beneficial, in the service of the body. The aesthetics of liturgical art are
spiritual and do not aspire to impress, given that they are not directed at the physical senses,
since this art form strives to reveal the divine and uncreated beauty of Christs virtues. This
is why products of ecclesiastic art are known to be miracle-working (for example the holy
Icons); it is because they too partake of the uncreated divine glory (Grace), thus proving their
participation in the Uncreated. Ecclesiastic worships art is so beauteous, that it in fact fulfils
its spiritual purpose: the ministering to the faith. This is why it is Orthodoxys steadfast
requirement, that liturgical art preserve its sameness in essence with the dogma, with the
faith that it ministers to: so that the uninterrupted fulfilment of its spiritual mission may be
There is a difference between ecclesiastic-liturgical art and religious art. The former portrays the
event of Salvation, the way it historically took place, as well as the collective acceptance of it by
the ecclesiastic body. Religious art, on the other hand, is an expression of the artists personal
approach to the mystery. That is why it is not liturgical. A certain correlation to this would be a
comparison between demotic (colloquial) poetry and its classical form. As in everything else
in worship, the stamp of the monastic world the more traditional part of the ecclesiastic
community is also very apparent in all the creations of ecclesiastic art.
5. Liturgical theology
Faith - not only as the ecclesiastic conscience and ones fidelity to the Saviour Christ but as a
teaching also - is a fundamental and inviolable prerequisite of ecclesiastic worship. It is the
motive power of the worshipping faithful, expressed by external acts and moves that constitute
its ritual. Worship materializes faith and renders it a group event, while it simultaneously
preserves and augments it, thus helping one to delve deeper into it.
Orthodox worship is Trinity-centred in its topics and its structure. Its strength and its hope
spring from the Triadic God. The Church liturgically offers up glory to the Father, and the Son,
and to the Holy Spirit.
The Eucharist anaphora is addressed to God the Father. The Son is also the recipient of the
offered sacrifice, given that He is of the same essence and co-enthroned with the Father, and
He is the central axis of that sacrifice as well. He is the offerer and the offered and the One
Who receives and is distributed during the Divine Eucharist. Ecclesiastic worship is the
continuation of Christs redemptive work, and it incorporates the Mystery of Divine
Providence. Christ is the ecclesiast (churchifier) Who gathers us unto His Body and the

faithful are the churchified who participate in His worship and are recipients of His glory.
Those who receive Holy Communion worthily (Corinthians II, 3:16) prove to be a temple of
Christ, and the mystery of Faith is officiated inside their hearts.
But ecclesiastic worship is just as equally Spirit-centred, because the Holy Spirit is also present
during worship, the way that the luminous mist was present when it overshadowed the
Disciples and the entire Mount during the Transfiguration (Matthew 17:5). Orthodoxys true
worship is the Holy Spirits prayer-rousing energy inside the heart of the faithful, as is the case
with the Saints, who are the true worshippers of God because they participate in the celestial
worship. The entireness of worship is the work of the Holy Spirit, Who holds together the
entire establishment of the Church. The prayer: Thou Heavenly King, the Paraclete, the Spirit
of Truth. is the one that inducts us into every Service.
In divine worship, a communion with the Holy Spirit takes place. Everything is governed by
the sanctifying power of the Paraclete. At the peak moment of the Sacrament, we beseech the
Holy Spirit to come upon us (the officiators) and upon the holy gifts (the bread and the
wine), but also upon all of the people, and to perform the spiritual sacrifice, by
transforming the offered gifts into Body and Blood of Christ and uniting all the participants into
one body.
The Churchs worship stands out for its traditionality. This is the most dynamic carrier of
ecclesiastic tradition. Tradition in the Church is the perpetuation of the Christian way of
existence; it is life in the Holy Spirit, which can lead to the Churchs true purpose: Mans theosis
and the sanctification of Creation. The truly faithful one will persist in those elements that
comprise the genuine ecclesiastic stance. That is what Faith is basically all about: for one to
remain faithful and unswerving towards the will of God and the Tradition of the Saints. The
criterion for the genuineness of ecclesiastic worship is its degree of traditionality. This also
contributes towards the unity of local churches, both contemporaneously and across time.
The liturgical texts provide the liturgical theology, which constitutes a primordial expression of
the ecclesiastic dogma. That is why worship becomes a school for piety that teaches the faith,
with the support of the media of art, and especially iconography - that most eloquent book of
the Church, as Saint John the Damascene had said. Orthodox worship throughout the ages has
shaped the mentality of the faithful, as one can see from certain church-loving personalities
such as the Russian author Feodor Dostoevsky or the Greek author Alexandros Papadiamantis.
A persons association with worship is an indicator of his ecclesiastic demeanour.
It therefore stands to reason that one can speak of an Orthodox and a non-Orthodox worship,
because the Orthodox element underlying worship is not composed of faceless structures; it is
the faith that these structures materialize. Ever since ancient times, ones confession of faith was
linked directly to worship. Worship remains the sermon of truth throughout the ages, as
personified by the Saints and the remembrance of the redemptive events found in the Old
and the New Testaments. However, beyond being the sermon of faith, ecclesiastic worship also

contributes towards its own defence, by fending off heretic fallacies. It is already a known fact
that ecclesiastic theology is usually formulated as a response to heretic provocations. This is
evidenced by the feast-days and the special church services dedicated to Holy Fathers and
Ecumenical Synods. Vespers and Matins provide us with the theology of every single feast-day,
in lieu of a theological arsenal for the faithful. The pious faithful becomes, for all intents and
purposes, a theologian of the Church.
6. The Liturgy
The Divine Liturgy is the centre of ecclesiastic worship in whole, culminating in the Divine
Eucharist, the centre of Orthodox life, experience and conscience. According to fr. Al.
Schmemann, a major liturgiologist of our time, the Divine Liturgy can be regarded as a journey
or a course that eventually leads us to our final destination, during which course every stage is
equally important. This course begins, from the moment that the faithful leave their homes to
go to the liturgical assembly. The assembling of the body is the first and fundamental act that
introduces the faithful into the new world that God instituted in History, i.e., the Church. The
faithful assemble inside the temple, in order to participate in the Liturgy, along with all of the
Saints and their brethren in Christ both the living and the departed. This act culminates in the
Minor Entrance, during which all of the assembly, along with the Bishop, journey towards the
celestial sacrificial altar.
One cannot be perceived a Christian, outside the liturgical assembly. In times of persecutions,
the Christians placed themselves in great danger in order to participate in the assemblies of the
local communities. The expression I belong to the Church means: I participate in Her
liturgical assemblies; because it is through them, that the here and now of the ecclesiastic
body manifests itself. It is the synagog (=the gathering together) of the people of God - in
which even the catechumens and the repentant also participate to a certain extent - and not just
an elite of chosen ones. The faithful constantly deposit their sinfulness before the Divine
Love, so that it may be transformed, through repentance, into sanctity. That is why the Holy
Fathers recommend frequent participation in the liturgical assemblies; because that is how the
powers of Satan are undone ..... in the congruence of the faith (Saint Ignatius the God-bearer,
In the first part of the Liturgy, up to the end of the Scriptural recitations, it was the custom for
the catechumens to also participate, which is why it was called the Liturgy of the
Catechumens. The remaining part is called the Liturgy of the Faithful, and it contains the
Sacrament of the Divine Eucharist, whose main characteristic is the sacrifice. The Eucharist is a
theophany (a manifestation of God), and as such, it transforms all of Creation into a
theophany. With the Divine Eucharist, the Church offers Her bloodless sacrifice. The faithful
offer Gods gifts (Thine own, of Thine own, do we offer Thee), confessing their unworthiness
and their spiritual poverty ( ..... for we have done nothing good on earth .....). The only
reciprocation to Gods gifts that we can offer is to consciously subject ourselves to Divine Love.

The Divine Eucharist is not a prayer or a ritual like other services. It is the mystery of Christs
actual presence in the midst of His praying Church. It is firstly Christs Eucharist
(=thanksgiving), then it becomes ours also, because, without ceasing to be co-seated on high
with the Father, Christ is also simultaneously here below, invisibly, with us. According to
Saint John the Chrysostom, Whensoever (the faithful) receives Holy Communion with a clean
conscience, he is performing Pascha (Easter) ... There is nothing more in the Sacrament
performed for Pascha, than in the Sacrament now being performed. By partaking of Christs
humanity (=human nature), which is distinctly and indivisibly joined to His Godhood, the
faithful receives inside him all of Christ and becomes joined to Him in this way.
In the Divine Eucharist, the ecclesiastic body experiences a perpetuated Pentecost. Pentecost,
Eucharist and Synod in the life of the Church are all linked to the actual presence of Christ in
the Holy Spirit. This is what our liturgical language also expresses; we speak of spiritual
mysteries, spiritual sacrifice, worship in the spirit, spiritual table, spiritual body,
spiritual food and drink, etc. Everything becomes spiritual during the Divine Liturgy, not in
the sense of a certain idealizing or immaterializing on our part, but on account of the presence
of the Holy Spirit therein.
Above all, however, the Divine Eucharist becomes the sacrament of unification of the Church.
Those participating in it become ONE in Christ (Galatians 3:28), through the unity of their
hearts (in one voice and one heart ....). That is what the Apostle Paul teaches in his Epistle I to
Corinthians (10:15-17). The one ecclesiastic body relates therein to the Eucharist bread: For we,
the many, are one bread, one body. This is why it is such a contradiction, when all of the
faithful do not receive Holy Communion, even though all of them have heard the Eucharistthanksgiving prayers in preparation of Holy Communion...
Holy Communion transmits Christs life into each member, so that it may live in Christ,
together with all the other members. Saint Simeon the New Theologian sees this union with
Christ as a lifting of Mans solitude: For the one participating in the divine and deifying graces
is in no way alone, but with You, my Christ, the three-sunned light, which lights the entire
world ... . With Holy Communion, the individuals become members of the Lords Body and
thereafter, individual survival mutates into a communion of life. Ever since the first
centuries, the very existence of the Liturgy of the Pre-Sanctified (Gifts) verifies the need to
participate in the Divine Eucharist. Naturally, none of the above occurs through any kind of
automation, but only when the participants live the life of an ecclesiastic corpus. That is why
he who eats and drinks unworthily, is eating and drinking of a damnation unto himself
(Corinthians I, 11:29).
During the Divine Liturgy, the Church is literally lifted to the heavens, partaking of the death,
the Resurrection and the Ascension of Christ and living Her own ascension into the heavenly
realm. And You did not cease doing everything, until You led us all to heaven and granted us
Your kingdom to come ..., we confess during the Liturgy. The Liturgy becomes the Paschal
gathering of all those who encounter the Lord and enter His kingdom. We do not move along

Platonic forms, by seeking perfection in a certain beginning, but we seek it in the

eschatological, in the fulfillment of that which is evolving within Time, through to the final
outcome of the existence of the faithful-to-Christ person. The worship of the Church is thus
directed by the historical past of Divine Providence, to the confirmed-in-Christ future. During
the Divine Liturgy, even Christs Second Coming is referred to as an event of the past!!
Remembering this, Thy saving commandment and all that has been done for us: the Cross, the
Grave, the Resurrection on the third day, the Ascension into heaven, the Enthronement at the
right hand and Thy Second and Glorious Coming is what we confess, prior to the
sanctification of the Precious Gifts.
To underrate the liturgical congregation is to cloud its eschatological character. Besides, with
the proliferation of Eucharist congregations in a multitude of parishes, in chapels, in
monasteries, etc. and the absence of the Bishop the head of the gathering of every local Church
the term congregation has lost its true meaning. Only the joyous character of the Liturgy
now testifies towards its eschatological atmosphere, to the point where it could even be
regarded as inconsistent with fasting. During the period of Great Lent, a period of strict fasting,
no Divine Liturgies are performed on weekdays; only the Liturgy of the pre-sanctified Gifts.
The Divine Liturgy is not one of the many means of sanctification for the fortification of Man;
it is the Sacrament of the Church, which transposes the faithful into the future age. Church and
Eucharist are inter-embraced.
7. The sanctification of the entire world
The objective of ecclesiastic worship is the sanctification of the entire world. Mans life is
sanctified, but so is the environment that surrounds him. Within the boundaries of worship,
Man is projected in Christ as the master and the king of Creation, who is called upon to refer
himself, along with Creation, to the Creator the source of their existence and sanctification.
a) The sanctification of Time: The liturgical year is the transcending in Christ of the calendar
year and the transformation of the calendar into a feast-day almanac. With Her celebrations
and Her services, the Church sanctifies and transforms the year of our daily lives, by unifying
and orienting it towards the kingdom of God. Liturgically speaking, Time ceases to be a simple,
natural framework, inasmuch as it is transformed into a point of reference used for determining
the content of worship. This is evidenced by the terminology used: Matins (=morning),
Vespers (=evening), Midnight, Hours, etc.. From the liturgiological aspect, the organizing
of the annual cycle on the basis of time periods (day, week, year), with an analogous organizing
of ones very life, is called the Liturgy of Time.
The liturgical year baptizes Mans entire life into the worship of the Church. The repetition of
the feast-days every year renews the catechesis of the faithful and it gives a special meaning to
the customary (Greek) wishes and next year, also, or, for many more years wishes that
refer to new opportunities for learning. The liturgical year is linked to the Churchs cycle of
feast-days, whose basic structural element is festivity. There is a cycle of mobile feast-days

with Easter at its centre, and a cycle of immobile feast days, with the Epiphany and Christmas
at its centre. The periods of the Triodion and the Pentecostarion belong to the former cycle,
having received their names from the respective liturgical books that predominate therein.
The Triodion period is a sectioned one, just as the human body is sectioned: the first four weeks
can be regarded as the bodys extremes; the body itself is the Great Lenten period, and the Holy
Week of Easter is the head. Hymns, readings and rituals all comprise a spiritual preparation for
ones participation in the Holy Week and the Resurrection. From Easter Day, the period of the
Pentecostarion begins. Easter and Pentecost were already feast-days of the pre-Constantine
order, and albeit Hebrew in origin, they now had a Christian content. Christ and His Passion
are what differentiated the Christian from the Jewish Passover-Pascha, which had now become
a symbol of the new life; of the divine kingdom. The coming of the Holy Spirit during the
Pentecost inaugurated the new century.
The cycle of immobile feast-days was organized with the day of the Epiphany at its centre (6th
January), a date that originally also commemorated the Birth of Christ. The separation of the
two celebrations for historical and theological reasons was effected around the middle of the 4th
century. With Christmas as basis, the other, feast-days of Christ (Circumcision, Baptism,
Reception, Transfiguration) were put in place. But the Theotokos also comprises a liturgical
mystery. The feast-days relating to the Holy Mother (Birth, Reception, Annunciation,
Dormition, etc.) are all linked to the feast-days of Christ, expressing the same mystery. The
celebrating of the memory of Saints is an extension of the liturgical honour bestowed on the
Theotokos. What seems odd for some people however is that the Church celebrates by
honouring the memory that is, the Dormition of Her children and not their birth. We
Orthodox Christians do not celebrate our birthdays; we celebrate on the day of commemoration
of the Saint whose name we bear. In Christian terms, a birthday is the day of ones
dormition, i.e., the day that one is born into eternal life. The Saints embody the common life
and are projected as the leaders of mankind, in its course for making man real. Our nations
association with the Saints with the Most Holy Mother at the head is apparent in the twofold festivity that is performed in their memory, both inside the temple with the Holy Altar at
the centre, and outside the temple, with the secular table at the centre. The book of the lives of
Saints is a cherished article for the people, as it is seen as a hoarding of the Churchs historical
memory and a guideline for the faithful. The course of the faithful is shaped, along with all the
The liturgical organizing of Time in its micro-temporal dimension is analyzed in the weekly
cycle of services and the day-to-evening services. The weekly cycle is composed of two parts:
the Saturday-Sunday cycle and the five-day cycle. Each day of the week is dedicated to the
memory of a certain soteriological event or a certain Saint; Sunday is dedicated to the
Resurrection of Christ; Monday to the Angels; Tuesday to Saint John the Baptist; Wednesday
and Friday are respectively linked to Judas betrayal and Christs Crucifixion (which is why
these are two days of fasting); on Friday, the Church also commemorates the presence of the

Holy Mother by the Cross; Thursday is dedicated to the Apostles and Saint Nicholas; and
Saturday is dedicated to the deceased.
The weekly cycle was organized on the basis of Sunday (Greek=Kyriake), the first celebration
historically- to be set down by the Church. Being directly related to the Lord (Greek=Kyrios)
Jesus Christ (Cor.I, 12:3), it represents a confession of faith unto Him. Being also related to the
eighth day, it was linked to the Divine Eucharist as a permanent and immobile day for its
commemoration. The Sunday day of rest which was imposed by Constantine the Great in
324 A.D. did not relate to the Sabbath, but instead portrayed itself as the transcending of the
Sabbath. Sunday is the first of the Sabbaths (=the first day of every week), the Queen and the
Mistress, we chant. The Sabbath reflects the natural life of the world, whereas Sunday
represents the eschatological day of entry into the new aeon.
The day-to-evening services include the following: The 24-hour cycle begins with Vespers (see
Genesis 1: and it became evening, and it became morning.) and its services coincide with
the ancient division of Time (evening, midnight, dawn, third, sixth, ninth hours). The services
are: the Esperinos (Vespers = of the days end) or Lychnikon (=of the lamp), the Major and
Minor Apodeipnon (=after the evening meal); the Mesonyktikon (=of midnight); the
Orthros (=of dawn) the most extensive and theologically wealthy service - and the Ores
(=Hours), which are the 1st, the 3rd, the 6th and the 9th, in commemoration of the major
moments affecting our salvation (the Crucifixion, the Death of Christ, the descent of the Holy
But, while all of ecclesiastic worship was indissolubly interwoven with natural Time, the Divine
Liturgy remained beyond Time and its confinements. Thus, it does not belong to the cycle of
day-to-evening services, nor are any of the other services regarded as a preparation for it. That
is why it can be performed at any time morning, noon or night as the par excellence
celebration and festivity of the Church.
b) The sanctification of life: The epicenter of the sanctifying function of the Church is Man. From
the moment of his birth into this world and his spiritual re-birth in the Church, through to the
last moment of his presence in this lifetime, ecclesiastic worship constantly provides Man with
opportunities for ecclesiasm and continuous rebirth. The catholicity of the spiritual and
everyday caring of the Church for Her faithful is evident in the liturgical book Euchologion
(=Major Book of Prayers). Its very structure and its texts embody the objective of the Church,
which is the full incorporation of Man in the ecclesiastic body, the struggle for victory over
the devil, the demonic powers of the world and sin, and the confronting of everyday problems
and needs. The wealth and the variety of benedictions and Services in the Euchologion is
indicative of the love and the concern of Orthodoxy for the personal and the social life of the
faithful; for the cycles of their life, and the more common and mundane labours.
The Church sanctifies Man from the moment of his birth, by giving Her blessing to the new
mother and the newborn child, preparing the latter to be eventually received into Her bosom.

Besides, the sanctification of the family begins from the Sacrament of Marriage. On the 8th day,
the infant receives its name with a special liturgical act, and its personal otherness is thus
confirmed something that is afterwards proven by its incorporation in the ecclesiastic body.
On the 40th day, the infant is led to the temple to be churchified, to begin its ecclesiastic
life, which corresponds to the commencement of adult catechesis.
After this spiritual preparation, Baptism follows; this is the entry into the body of Christ, which
gives Man the possibility of living the life of Christ and constantly receiving His Grace. Infant
baptism, familiar since ancient Christian times, can be comprehended only in the cases of pious
parents and godparents - in other words, of those with a Christian background and cannot be
imposed by any legislation. Through Baptism, the neophyte is inducted into a specific
community the local Church by participating in the ethos and the way of existence of the
Church. The more perfect this induction is, the more consistently will his Christian status
But the faithful is called upon to augment the gift that he received through his baptism, by
orientating his life in a Christ-centered manner. Thus, after nature (=soul and body) has died
and risen in the baptismal font, the human person is then sanctified through the sacrament of
Chrismation, which functions as the personal Pentecost of the faithful, so that through his
spiritual labors, he will become a temple of God and his life a veritable Liturgy. The
sacrament of Repentance (confession) provides the opportunity for a continuous transcending
of sin and the transforming of death into life.
Furthermore, the Church blesses the paths that the faithful voluntarily choose for their
perfection: either marriage (in Christ), or monastic living. Both are sacraments of love, with a
direct referral to Christ. Marriage, when preserved within the framework of a life in Christ,
leads to the transcendence of the flesh and to ones perfect delivery unto Christ, thenceforth
coinciding with monastic ascesis. In this way, the sacrament of marriage reveals the truth of the
Church without being used to serve conventional expediencies of everyday living. Wherever
marriage is perceived simply as a moralistic adjustment or a legal transaction, the political
marriage is selected, perhaps legalistically, but it is a marriage that is not spiritually
equivalent to the ecclesiastic one, which is a sacrament of Grace.
Furthermore, ecclesiastic worship provides sanctifying acts for every moment of ones life. In
fact, through them, it proves that it is not a spiritualist (abstractly spiritual) affair, or a
religious affair, because the sanctification it provides also constitutes a proposal for
confronting the everyday problems of each person. In one of the Matins Prayers, we ask God to
grant man His terrestrial and celestial gifts.
There are blessings even for instances in life that seem trite and insignificant, such as (for
example) for a childs haircut, for when a child leaves to learn the sacred texts, for illnatured children, etc.. Other blessings refer to the intake of food, the various vocations and
works of the faithful (e.g. travels) as well as professions; inter-personal relations are blessed,

so that there will be justice, peace and love; Gods Grace is requested for mans tribulations, for
his illnesses, his mental health and his psychosomatic passions. An important place in the
worship of the Church is given to death - the cessation of the bodys collaboration with the soul,
until the moment of the common resurrection. The Church does not overlook this supreme
existential event of life; in fact, She stands near the person from the moment that death makes
its appearance. She confesses the near-death person and offers him Holy Communion; She
inters his body, which has now been delivered to mortification and corruption, sending off the
soul to its last journey and beseeching Christ to receive His child, who has abandoned the world
with the hope for eternal life. The funeral service is one of the tenderest and most touching
texts in ecclesiastic worship.
In parallel to the above, the church offers prayers for various moments of public life: serious
circumstances and disasters, dangers, malfunctions in public life, both in the micro-society of
the village or the town, as well as the macro-community of the homeland and the nation. The
relative prayer material refers to national anniversaries, the structures of civil life, education,
the armed forces, public health This incomparable liturgical wealth remains broadly
unknown and so we remain ignorant of all those elements that can give meaning to our lives.
c) The sanctification of material creation: Creation, both liturgically and theologically, is the
broader territory provided for mans fulfillment; it is the frame of his everyday life especially
in rural communities, where this is perceived more profoundly. Mans association with
Creation constitutes a special theme of ecclesiastic worship and it unfolds during special
services that prove the ecclesiastic acknowledgement of material creation (bread), which was
assumed by Christs human nature and is constantly transformed into the flesh of Christ
during the Divine Eucharist.
Our liturgical act blesses and sanctifies water, wine, sustenance, living and working quarters,
flora, fauna, natural phenomena (wind, thunder, rain, earthquake, etc.), for the protection,
finally, and the salvation of man. During worship, the faithful offers the Creators gifts - in lieu
of his giving thanks - so that they might be baptized in Divine Grace and be returned to the
offerers, for their own sanctification and preservation. During the Divine Liturgy, one could
say that a march, a parade of the whole world towards the Holy Altar is taking place (Prof.
John Zizioulas, Metropolitan of Pergamon). This negates every notion of an opposition between
the natural and the supernatural, since the creation which is being offered to God (bread and
wine) becomes the carrier of the Uncreated (Grace) and sanctifies the participants.
The God-centeredness of existence is inspired by the theology of such texts. Through nature,
man is referred to the Creator, comprehending the world as a gift of the Creator, learning to use
Creation eucharistically (as in the Divine Eucharist) and acquiring the empirical certainty that
the issue is not what does man eat, but with what presuppositions he eats something, given
that sanctified nature co-sanctifies man also. Thus, the faithful learns to become an officiator
of Creation, in a cosmic liturgy that is officiated by the Saints. The Saints, with their
imperishable and miracle-working relics, reveal the destination of Creation, which is its

sanctification and its incorruptibility. Each faithful is invited to our worship, so that he can be
wholly sanctified; so that he might be enabled to co-sanctify Creation along with him, through
his association with it.
8. Worship and spiritual life
The course towards theosis (deification) is attained through the induction of ones whole
existence into the body of Christ, with a lifestyle that will allow the uninterrupted collaboration
of Man with the Grace of God. The main constituent of this lifestyle is ascesis, as a permanent
fight of man. This is what is meant by the words of Christ, that: the realm of heaven is violable,
and violators take it by force (Matthew 11:12). Ascesis is a continuous course of repentance, by
which the faithful recipient of the Grace of God, without which, his existence is deadened. On
the contrary, with ascesis, our revolutionary nature is deadened, only to regain its Godcenteredness.
However, the ascetic endeavors of the faithful do not have a moralistic character; that is, they do
not aspire to improving ones character and behavior; but to the possibility of participating in
the celebration and the rejoicing of the ecclesiastic body. That is why it generates in the faithful
a sense of unspoken joy, refuting every artificial (pharisaic) frowning and faked gloom, which
are nothing more than a manneristic pietism. Christian ascesis is a voluntary participating in
obedience to Christ and the Saints, for the mortification of our personal will and its eventual
alignment with the will of Christ (Philip. 2:5).
Orthodoxys piety, however, is liturgical in nature. This is why ascesis is perceived as being
supplementary to liturgical life. Ecclesiastic worship is festive in its ethos. Ascesis is the
foretasting of joy through partaking of the Churchs festivity, but it is also a preparation of the
faithful for their entry into this spiritual celebration. It is the path for ones return to the natural
condition (the authenticity of human existence), so that the passage to the hyper-natural
(where Worship elevates us to) may be made possible. Besides, that which is sought in worship
according to the blessed Chrysostom is a sedate soul, an aroused intellect, a humble heart, a
strengthened mind, a cleansed conscience.
The spiritual progress, which the faithful attains through his personal ascesis, is churchified
during worship; it is incorporated in the body of Christ, and from being a personal event, it
becomes an ecclesiastic one in other words, a social one. If individuality does not become
churchified, it cannot be saved. Outside the body of Christ, not only can there be no
salvation, but even the most perfect of virtues remains nothing more than a womans dirty
rag (Isaiah 64:6), in other words, something chokingly filthy. Worship renders the faithfuls
life a life in Christ. Ascesis provides this possibility, since the person who is governed by his
passions cannot truly glorify God. In ascesis, a cleansed heart is the objective. (Psalm 50:12),
because it is only in a cleansed heart that man can possibly see God (Matthew 5:8), thus
attaining the purpose of his existence.

This is what the resurrectional hymn by Saint John the Damascene expresses: Let us cleanse
ourselves of our senses, and we shall have sight of the inapproachable light of the Resurrection:
Christ Himself, ablaze Through the Divine Eucharist, worship leads us into theosis
(deification), provided however that there is a cleanliness of heart and a transformation of our
senses, from physical to spiritual ones. If worship, therefore, is the entrance to the heavenly
kingdom, ascesis is the road to the kingdom. Worship defines and reveals the purpose of our
existence; ascesis collaborates towards the realization of this purpose.
9. The Liturgy after the Liturgy
Ecclesiastic worship is the Time-Space in which the Christian ethos is shaped. During
worship, the faithful rediscovers the proper meaning of a moral lifestyle, which cannot be
shaped on the basis of a certain juridical relationship with God, but through the metamorphosis
and the renovation of Creation and Man, in Christ. The Christian ethos is a liturgical one and it
springs from ones personal relationship with the Lord of the Church, Who offers Himself
voluntarily for the nourishment of the entire world. This relationship, with its triple reference
(Man-God-World) is realized during worship, according to the words of the Apostle Paul: For,
if you have also risen in Christ [] make dead your limbs on earth [] divesting yourselves of
the old self [] and putting on the new (i.e.: So, if you have been resurrected along with
Christ.then deaden everything earthen that is inside you. rejecting the old person and
donning the new one) (Colossians 3:1). This is the continuous baptism of the faithful within
the new life of the mystery of faith.
In the Churchs worship, a persons entire life is re-defined, now becoming Christ-centered.
Now everything is filled with light The faithful, having been flooded by this light, are
invited to become a spiritual river one that flows from the Holy Altar to irrigate the world
salvifically. Ecclesiastic worship thus substantiates that which constitutes the Churchs offer in
History. It does not provide any code of moral behavior or a system of moral rules; only a life
and a society that can function as yeast that will leaven the world with its sanctifying
presence, beginning from the micro-society. Participation in worship if it is genuine is a
participation in the death of self-seeking and individualistic demands and a resurrection into
the in-Christ reality, which is the purpose of the Church. The eschatological conscience that is
inspired by Orthodox worship is oriented towards eschatological behaviors, by transcending
the danger of secularization and any other compromises and configurations.
It is therefore understood that any alienation from the liturgical experience will, beyond other
things, alter ones beliefs and decompose ones life, by transforming the ecclesiastic BEING into
various anti-Christian substitutes (moralism, pietism, ritualism, etc.). Besides, we must not
forget that the community ethos of Hellenisms Orthodoxy and the free-spirited stance during
the oppressive period of slavery had been shaped within Church worship: the only assembling
of the population that never fell into decline. And this is a real blessing, thanks to which, by the
Grace of God, in our difficult times, both our People and our Youth are once again finding the
path that leads to the Church and Her worship.

At the end of the Divine Liturgy (according to its ancient ending), the Officiator would say to
the laity: Let us go forth in peace. This was not merely a formal announcement of the ending
of a religious duty, but a motivational expression to relay the light of divine peace into the
darkness of our world. The Church and Her Worship exist for the world for its salvation. The
Liturgy of the Church prepares the exit of the faithful into the world, both for their testimony of
the Grandeurs of God, as well as for the missionary calling for salvation in Christ. Christs
sacrifice and His Resurrection, mysteries that are perpetually ever-present and experienced
during worship, perpetually irrigate the world in a salvific manner. The faithful are those
channels of Divine Grace that lead to the parched land of our societies, through which channels
the Light of Christ can shine on everyone and shed its light on everything!

Hesychasm* constitutes the quintessence of Orthodox tradition, having related itself to
everything that the term Orthodoxy embodies and expresses. Orthodoxy outside the
Hesychastic tradition is unthinkable and nonexistent. Besides, Hesychasm itself is the
philosophers stone by which one can recognize the genuine Christian image. In the
Orthodox tradition, the divine charismas are acquired through fasting, vigils and prayer. And
it should be clarified, that Hesychasm is understood first of all as the course towards theosis
and the experience of theosis, and only secondly, as a (theological) recording of this method of
experience. In Christianity (the authentic Christian conscience), we know that textual
recordings are basically pursuant to practice and that they comprise descriptions of that
practice; they do not however comprise a substitute. Saint Gregory Palamas successors are
not located in academic theology; they can only be found in the continuance of his ascetic
Hesychasm, as an ascetic therapeutic treatment, was at the core of Orthodoxy, even from the
time of the Apostles, and it prevailed throughout the entire Roman kingdom, in the East and in
the West (Fr. John Romanides). This was the responsible verification of one of the most reliable
researchers of Hesychasm and of Saint Gregory Palamas, i.e., father John Romanides. In the
framework of a tradition that was spiritually uplifted by Hesychasm, it is easy to understand
and to interpret the national, social and (even) political history of Romanity (Fr. John
Romanides). It is precisely within this framework that one can also properly evaluate the
contribution of Saint Gregory Palamas. Being a continuation of the ancient Fathers, of the
united and indivisible patristic tradition, he expressed according to the venerable Geron,
father Theocletos Dionysiatis- the eternal spirit of the Orthodox Church, by reviving its
experiences, its practices, its teachings and its promises. He contributed decisively in this way,
towards the preservation of the Churchs overall identity.

It is of course- a fact, that the consequences of the various ideological disputes of the 14th
century, both spiritual and social, had visibly weakened the (Eastern Roman) Empire, which
was already reduced in size as of the 13th century, leaving it unshielded from the expansionist
dispositions of its neighbors, and mainly the Ottomans. In 1354, the Ottoman Turks seized
Callipolis, planting themselves firmly on its European side. The Empire was heading towards a
predetermined decline, and it did gradually end up a pitiful relic of its former self.
However, while the frequent civil uprisings, the social dissents and the enemy assaults were
progressively weakening the Empire, the spiritual powers of the Nation, being perpetually rebaptized in the Hesychast patristic tradition, averted the danger of Romanity (Byzantium,
see: ) being transformed into a Frankish protectorate, at the same
time preserving the inexhaustible fountain of mental prowess, stalwartness and spiritual vigor,
throughout the prolonged period of slavery. And yet, even after the Latin (1204) and the
Ottoman (1453) sieges, the thing affected most of all was only the political aspect of the Nation,
not its spirituality. The absolute center of Romanity continued to be those who had attained
theosis; they were the ones who could attain theosis at any point in history, in any situation,
whether social or political (Fr. John Romanides).
The Saints of the period of slavery, and all the sacred relics like those of Saints Gerasimos and
Dionysios -especially in the Venetian-occupied regions- are the most powerful reassurances,
even according to Eugene Bulgaris, that the spiritual acme of the Nation was not extinguished
during its enslavement, nor did anyone succeed in alienating it; not even in those territories that
were strongly inclined in this direction, as were the Latin-occupied ones. Hesychast
spirituality, with the Holy Mountain at its center, permeated the collective conscience of the
Nation, and it deposited here and there the wholesome fruits of its presence, its efficacy and its
power. The Hesychast patristic tradition remained [...] the most powerful force of the Nation.
The Hesychast Fathers, according to the Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos, were Romans
who [] with their efforts had preserved the essence of Romanity. The anti-hesychasts were
strangers to Romanity. I fully agree with him, when he asserts that the Hesychast discourse
(he meant during the 14th century) and the victory of the Orthodox Tradition were blessings
from God, for the oncoming enslavement of our Nation []. That Hesychast way of life was
what had sustained the Nation, by preserving it with an ethnic and orthodox conscience, and it
had also brought forth the martyrs and the confessors of the faith; furthermore, it was that same
Hesychast way of life that created the organized communities and associations; it preserved the
inner freedom of the soul, and it gave rise to the 1821 Revolution. As verified by researchers, we
know that all the heroes of the Revolution were shaped by this Orthodox Roman tradition and
were not in the least driven by Western Enlightenment. In the tradition of our Nation, we had
our own Enlightenment the illumination of the Intellect (called nous, the `eye of the spiritual
heart') as declared and described by Saint Nicodemus of the Holy Mountain, by General
Makryannis (one of the founding fathers of the modern Greek state, in 1821) and others.

We have allowed the voice of the learned Hierarch to be heard, and not a professional
historians, who nevertheless unreservedly agrees with these observations. Hesychasm, as the
existential form of Orthodoxy, shaped the conscience of the Orthodox Nations and their
ideology, which were both realized creatively, throughout its historical duration.
The enslaved Orthodox nations survived, thanks to the preservation of the patristic therapeutic
method, which, having being preserved in its fullness in the person of the Saints, drew
constantly from the collective conscience of the broader basis of the laity, through its collectively
accepted (albeit sometimes inadequate) practices. The centrifugal trends continued of course,
and were located mainly in the realm of intellect that was influenced by the West. This trend
has been contributing towards the gradual estrangement from the Orthodox Tradition, a
phenomenon that is reaching its climax in our day, with a steadily widening gap between
Patricity and the boom in anti-Patricity observed in the entire spectrum of daily life (for
example, the western perception of a dual spirituality : monastic and secular).
But it was the persistence in Hesychast tradition that also defined the stances opposite the
Christian but no longer Orthodox West, as well as opposite ancient Hellenism, or, more
specifically, opposite the unsettling phenomena observed in the monistic turn towards
antiquity, in the guise of worship of the ancient Greek ideals. By comparing eastern tradition
with the western one, it became apparent that the West was not only no longer unanimous with
the East, but it had actually become a threat to the very historical existence of the East.
In the 14th century, the first in-depth confrontation between East and West took place, in the
field of ecclesiastic-theological tradition. For the first time, the opportunity had presented itself
in the East to document the radical differentiation and the lack of coincidence between East and
West, in the person of an authentic western theologian; a bearer of Augustinian theological
tradition and method.
It became evident that in the West, another kind of Christianity had formed, hypostatized as a
civilization at the antipodes of the Roman East. The mentality embraced by Barlaam later
reached its apex with the English historian, Gibbon (1737-1794), who expressed in a classical
manner the Wests perception of the Roman East, and who, together with the rationalist
ecclesiastic historian Mosheim (18th century), prepared Adamantios Korais (: one of the
founding fathers of the modern Greek state, at 1821 ) accordingly, as the patriarch of
The inner light of the Hesychasts was, in Gibbons opinion, the product of a capriciousness
that is in bad taste; it is the product of an empty stomach and a vacant brain. To him,
Hesychasm was the culmination of the religious nonsense of the Greeks. These prejudices,
embedded in the European collective conscience through their education, have from that time
onwards been shaping the Western stance towards the Orthodox East -and especially towards
Hellenism- even up to this day. Consequently, the astonishment over the stance of western

Leaderships towards Greece and the Balkan countries in general is among other things- a
display of their ignorance of history.
On the other hand, the Hellenicity that was embodied in the scholastics of Byzantium
(=Romanity) such as Nikeforos Gregoras who proclaimed unreservedly that he was a
Hellene, diametrically differentiated itself from the Hellenicity which had been assimilated
by the Patristic lifestyle, and it comprised the natural continuation of Hellenic antiquity, except
that it was only the Patristic synthesis of Hellenicity-Christianity that led to the cultural
reality of Romanity.
Hesychasm however had also played an important, unifying role during the culturally
disturbed and disintegrated (due to their adventures) Balkans; The Hesychasts moved freely
throughout the Orthodox East, from land to land, transcending whichever ethnic differences.
Mention was made by a major theologian, Fr. Halkin, of an Hesychasm International;
nowadays, when one makes mention of an Orthodox arc in the sense of a rampart against
Islam, one should not omit to keep Hesychast spirituality in mind, which is the only element
that can ensure a genuine unity within the boundaries of the supra-national and hyper-racial
Roman unanimity. Our inter-Balkan unity is founded in just that Hesychast tradition.
The unity of our Nation, in its Balkan diffraction, has been threatened, but it had also been
broken up at times, by the party of anti-hesychasts, called Latin-Hellenes (according to Saint
Gregory Palamas) and Graeco-Latins (according to Saint Mark of Ephesus), who had aligned
themselves with Franko-Latin metaphysics and had continued the spiritual dualism of the
Byzantine (Eastern Roman) intellect that was embodied programmatically by Psellos and
Italos. To the Westernizing anti-hesychasts, the fact that the East had no scholastic theology
was looked upon as a form of decadence, so they made sure that it was introduced into the life
and the education of our Nation.
The abandoning of Hesychasm, and the turn towards metaphysical theologizing gradually
altered the identity of the Orthodox nations, which, after the founding of the Hellenic State,
may have been liberated from Turkish slavery, but were not freed of Frankish slavery.
According to father Romanides, with the expulsion of the Hesychasts from Neo-Hellenic
ideology, and with the prevalence of Koraism, catharsis was replaced by ethics, and
enlightenment was replaced by catechesis. Thus, the Hesychast spiritual Fathers were replaced
by moralizing organizers of catechist schools, who burdened the young with a system of morals
that only a hypocrite can give the impression that it is being implemented. As a result, even the
bios of the Saints ended up mostly as a kind of mythology (Fr. John Romanides). Hesychasm
was displaced by metaphysical pondering and dogmatism in the field of theologizing, but also
by pietism, in place of lay religiousness. Thus, monasteries began to lose their true therapeutic
calling, now being substituted by secular missionary formations and an attempt to further
transform them, into activity centers destined for public benefit services.

The publishing of the works of Saint Gregory Palamas under the supervision of a memorable
professor, the late Mr. Panagiotis Christou, but also the profoundly traditional approach
towards Hesychasm by monks of the Holy Mountain (such as the reverend father Theocletos
Dionysiates) as well as by theologians (with father John Romanides at the lead), all contributed
towards the re-discovery of the Hesychast tradition; in other words, our patristic foundations.
Today, more than ever before, we are coming to realize the true worth of the RomanHesychast tradition. Contemporary man is seeking to be cured of his psychological and
existential problems. The presence however of an ideologicalized or religionized
Orthodoxy rather complicates these problems instead of solving them, thus rendering
Orthodoxy a seemingly repulsive and useless thing. The reverend Metropolitan of Nafpaktos
and myself saw this for ourselves recently, in the United States. Our Hesychast tradition
however, can most assuredly cure the core of mans existence.
In conclusion therefore, and in concurrence with His Eminence the Metropolitan of Nafpaktos:
Hesychasm, as expressed by Saint Gregory Palamas and preserved by the Orthodox Church as
the apple of Her eye, is truly the life of the contemporary world. (Metropolitan Hierotheos
of Nafpaktos) and the only means of salvation, or in other words, theosis.

* Hesychasm: The Orthodox method of spiritual living and salvation.

IN PRAYER AND FASTING - (Worship and Ascesis as the coordinates of Orthodox spiritual

1. Spiritual life and ecclesiastic theology

The composition of the Churchs life - in its local and its universal manifestation - has a unique
and steadfast objective: to be the members path towards theosis (deification); the thorough (1
Thess. 5:23) incorporation of the members in the Body of Christ, which constitutes
Christianitys absolute purpose and objective. A chance deviation from this objective will
automatically signify an altering of the Church (Her human part) and Her lapsing into a secular
grouping (committee, society, and the like) and a consequent forfeiting of Her character.
Besides, the most essential distortion of Christianity, which radically corrupts its very essence,
is to view it as a Christian ideology or a system of truths (God does not reveal fleshless
truths-ideas, but reveals Himself as the Self-Truth and the incarnate All-Truth.) that the
believer is called upon to accept, in order to shape his life accordingly. If this were the case, one
would learn Christianity, the way one learns a school lesson. But Christianity is not simply
something to be learnt; more than anything, it is something that should be felt. Christianity
is offered as life - as an incorporation into a new, revealed-in-Christ way of life; the way of
life that was introduced into History by the Incarnate Logos of God, our Lord Jesus Christ. The
believer is called upon to reach through a specific course that point, where he will apply to
himself the confession of Apostle Paul: no longer do I live, for Christ lives within me.
(Galatians 2:20). It is the morphing of Christ inside the believer (so that Christ be formed
within you - Galatians 4:19). Man should become a Christ-divine man through Grace.
This course, which is equivalent to a therapeutic procedure of human existence (Orthodox
Psychotherapy, by Reverend Hierotheos of Nafpaktos), is precisely what is known as
spiritual life or life in the Holy Spirit. This means participation in the Uncreated Grace
offered by the Holy Spirit, which is established within the believer as the kingdom of the

heavens (heavenly kingdom), and is manifested as a course in the Holy Spirit. Mans
destination is to live inside the light of the Holy Trinity (for him to be a true human and fellow
human), loving God and his fellow-man with sincerity, within the bounds of piety and loving
selflessness, in accordance with the Apostles word: let us live soberly, and righteously and
piously in the present aeon. (Titus 2:12)
Thus, the word spiritual in the linguistic code of the Orthodox Church does not imply the
intellectually cultivated person; the intellectual or the wise person in the secular sense, but the
wise man according to God (James 3:17) the one who has become worthy of being a temple of
the Holy Spirit, a Spirit-bearer (cf. I Corinthians 2:11-16). A truly spiritual person is the
theumen (=the deified one); the Saint. An Orthodox temple is adorned with hagiography; it
is filled with portrayed figures of Saints, so that there will be a permanent reminder that the
objective of every believer is to walk the same path as the Saints, and that the Church is a
permanent workshop for sanctity. As odd as this may sound nowadays, it signifies: a
workshop for producing (creating) Saints and a spiritual infirmary (St. John the Chrysostom),
a place of spiritual healing. These terms, which reveal the Churchs spiritually-dominated
realism, are based on Her historicity in other words, in Her persistence in the world (She is
in the world, but not of the world: John 17:14) for the salvation of which She exists in
Ecclesiastic theology and theologizing are the content and the expression of spiritual living.
Through theology are expressed the experience of the Holy Spirits enlightenment and theosis.
Ecclesiastic theology presupposes experience in the Holy Spirit. To speak of God presupposes a
knowledge of God (Constantine Papapetros: The Revelation of God and the Knowledge of
Him and The essence of theology). However, the knowledge of God can never be the fruit of
contemplative, intellectual, or metaphysical study; only the fruit of a communion of the Holy
Spirit (Divine Liturgy). According to Saint Gregory the Theologian, theologizing
(=philosophizing about God) presupposes a communion with God, which is why it pertains to
those who have examined themselves and have passed on to theory (i.e., in theopty the
sighting of God), prior to which, they have become cleansed in body and soul, or, have been
cleansed to some extent (Speech 27, 3). It is communion with God that renders a man a
theologian; a Saint is a theologian. Theology originating from a seeing of God is stated in the
Holy Bible as prophecy. A prophet (Greek, pro-phetes = he who utters things in the presence
of), as the mouthpiece of God towards the people, speaks as one who has seen God, which is
why he functions as a theologian (Greek, theo-logian = one who speaks of God. On the
prerequisites of theologizing, see fr. John Romanides Dogmatics and Symbolic Theology of
the Orthodox Catholic Church and Roman or Romioi Fathers of the Church.)
Consequently, spiritual life constitutes the essence of ecclesiasticity, in the form of
Christianity. It is precisely why the purpose of the Churchs presence in the world is the
assumption and the incorporation of mankind overall into the community of God, the
churchification of the entire world. Because Mans communion with God through His
Uncreated Grace - constitutes the (eternal) destination of human existence and the only

possibility for realizing a true communion of selfless love between people. Inside the Church, as
a communion in Christ, Christs words are realized: Where two or three are gathered together
in my name, there am I, in their midst. (Matthew, 18:20).
2. The main constituents of spiritual life
These are: faith, ascesis and worship (fr. G.D.Metallinos The theological witness of Ecclesiastic
Worship). Theology expresses the what of faith, as a self-revelation of Divine Love and as a
daily glorification and confession of the Church as the Body of Christ. Ascesis and Worship
constitute the how of life in Christ, as fidelity towards the divine calling and the conditions
for its realization.
Salvation in Christ is to restore man back on the path towards perfection and immortality,
through communion with the Holy Spirit. (fr.John S. Romanides, The Cardinal Sin) Upon
attaining the communion of the Holy Spirit, man participates in Gods way of existence and is
fulfilled as a person, thereafter living the selflessness of the Triadic personal communion.
This course is achieved through the incorporation of the entire human existence into the Body
of Christ, by rendering it in Christ, so that man can become real and be enabled to know God
(1 John 5:20), to be united with Him, and himself be deified.
This way of life and existence within the Body of Christ is called ascesis (exercise), because
that is what the Lord required, when saying: the kingdom of heaven is violable, and only
violators will seize it. (Matthew 11:12), and it is furthermore confirmed by Saint Pauls
proclamation: I tame my body and subjugate it, lest, when preaching to others, I prove myself
to be a phony. (1 Corinthians 9:27). Ascesis is the basic constituent of life in Christ and it
constitutes a permanent path to repentance, which renders man receptive of Divine Grace. Since
mans objective is to receive the Holy Spirit (receive ye the Holy Spirit John 20:22), it is
imperative for man to open up to Grace. Through ascesis, natures rebelliousness is
deadened, so that its authenticity can be restored. The sanctification of human nature was
realized, once and for all, with Christs redemptive work and His assumption of our nature.
With ascesis, the specific human person is deified and human nature is prepared for its union to
the Uncreated to Grace.
Ascesis, as a struggle by man as a whole, is for the Church the method (Greek, meth-odos = a
path in parallel) required for theological knowledge. However, it must be clarified that the
ascetic effort of the faithful is not of a moral nature; in other words, it does not aspire to a
simple improvement of ones character and his behaviors, but to a personal participation in the
festivity and the joy of the Church, in the celebration of the firstborn (Hebr. 12:22). This is
why it generates in the believer a feeling of an unspeakable joy one that negates every
(pharisaic) artificial deliberation and pretended dejection, which are nothing more than a
feigned devoutness. Christian ascesis is to voluntarily participate in an obedience in Christ and
His Saints; to deaden ones personal will and to eventually identify with the will of Christ
(Philippians 2:5) but beyond every legalistic conventionalism and utilitarian purpose: only an

awareness of Christianitys genuineness and the decision to surrender to it. Thus, ascesis leads
to a permanent tasting of the divine-human reality, as a theocentricity (God-centeredness)
and communion with God.
But the piety and the spirituality of Orthodoxy are liturgical. Albeit Orthodox life is not
confined to the limits of a (formal) worship (D.S.Balanos Is the Orthodox Greek Church only a
community of worship?)., worship does comprise the heart and the essence of its life. As
observed by fr. George Florovsky, Christianity is a liturgical religion. The Church is, above all,
a worshipping community. Worship comes first, (dogmatic) teaching and discipline
(ecclesiastic order) follow. (Orthodox Worship in the volume: Themes of Orthodox
Theology, p.159.) This means that it is in the liturgical congregating of the Church that the
source of life, its very center, are located; it is from here that the new teaching, its sanctifying
grace and its manner of administration are found.
The Church is realized as a worshipping community, since, throughout its lifetime, in its every
detail, it is continuously transformed into a worship of God.The participation of the faithful in
the ecclesiastic bodys worship reveals its desire to be with Christ (Philippians 1:23). During
worship, the faithful feels the way a baby feels in its mothers arms: in his natural space. This is
why he chants: I delighted with those who said to me, we are heading to the house of the
Lord. (Psalms 122:1)
In any expression of ecclesiastic worship, a twofold movement takes place: mans movement
towards God for the glorification of God, and Gods movement towards man for the
sanctification of man. There is no room here of course for the scholastic question of who
makes the first move, given that Divine Love is in a perpetual movement towards the world,
for He first loved us (1 John 4:10). Here, again, the words of the Chrysostom apply, that: the
most part - in fact almost everything - is Gods; to us, He has left but a small part. (Fr. Basil
Gontidakis, Eisodikon. Elements of liturgical experiencing of the mystery of unity within the
Orthodox Church) Ecclesiastic worship is a secret dialogue, between the Creator and His
creature; it is a mutual communion between them both.
Its result is an actual encounter of God and man, as it takes place in the true God (1 John
5:20). And sacrifice of praise (Heb. 13:15) to God, an offer of the whole existence to its source
according to the liturgical calling: let us appose ourselves, and each other, and our entire life
unto Christ our God. Thus, worship becomes the fruit of the lips, giving thanks to His name
(Hebr. 13:14).
Moreover, the theological character of worship is also explicit; not only because the theological
(Scriptural and Patristic) word becomes the word of worship, offered to the congregation.
Ecclesiastic worship is a school for reverence, which shapes the ecclesiastic mind (Phil. 2:5), the
conscience of the ecclesiastic body. But, apart from that, the worship of the Church itself is a
revelation of the triple mystery of life: the mystery of God, the mystery of Man and the mystery
of Creation, as well as the relations between them simultaneously; it is a revelation of Man as a

member of a human society (Gen. 2:18). That is why it is introduced in the God-given
communion, which is defined by the following Eucharist coordinates: let us lift up our hearts
and let us love one another, that with one mind we may confess the Father, the Son and the
Holy Spirit. In Orthodox worship the believer experiences the mystery of the last time (1 Peter
1:5 that has broken into the world with the Incarnation of the Son of God and his victory on
devil, sin, death. It is about the new mystery of new heaven and a new earth (Rev. 21:1),
where there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more
pain; for the former things are passed away (Rev.21:4). In our worship, our entire existence is
placed under Christs authority (Matth. 28;18), because we set aside all earthy cares, so that we
may receive the King of all (Divine Liturgy), and we glorify the Triadic God, the way the
angelic forces glorify him in Heaven (Isaiah 6:1 ff).
It is in this spirit that we can comprehend how asceticism and liturgical life are complementary
to each other. Ecclesiastic worship is festive in its nature. Every day is a celebration for the
Church - a festivity - because the commemoration of Saints confirms Christs victory over the
world (John 16:33). Asceticism, furthermore, as a foretaste of the joy of this festivity, induces
progress in the entry of the faithful to this festivity of the Church - to its spiritual celebration. It
is the preparation for the participation of the whole man in the new creation (2 Cor. 5:17),
which is revealed in worship. It is the path of return to the per nature state ( ), a
basic prerequisite for the course and the ascent to the hyper-natural, to the hyper-cosmic
state of worship. As indicated by the blessed Chrysostom, what is sought after here (in
worship) is a sedate soul, an alert mind, a solemn heart, a robust mentality, a cleansed
conscience; if, having all these, you join Gods chorus, you will be able to stand next to David
Ascesis, together with the incessant prayer (1 Thess. 5:17), humility, impassiveness, fasting,
and continuous participation in the act of worship, seeks to transform life into a living
sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God (Rom. 12:1); and this, so that life can finally rediscover its
original beauty and genuineness and its true meaning. The ascesis of monks, primarily, finds a
spiritual oasis in worship, which relaxes their harsh ascetic praxis. Furthermore, that which the
faithful becomes charismatically through his ascesis - and mainly with the Divine Eucharist becomes churchified; he becomes incorporated in the Body of Christ, the Church, and the
individual event becomes a communal one in other words, ecclesiastic. Because only then
does it acquire a significance and is sanctified - when individual becomes communal.
Outside Christs Body not only is there no salvation, but even the most perfect virtue is like a
womans dirty rag (Is. 64:6).
Worship renders the believers entire life into an in-Christ life. Ascesis provides the potential
to realize that aim, given that the unclean person is hindered by his passions and cannot glorify
God properly. Let us remember the hymn of Easter make us, the devout, glorify You with a
cleansed heart. The cleansed heart is the aim in Christian ascesis (cf Psalm 50:12 a
cleansed heart build within me, o Lord). Only with a cleansed heart can man see God
(Matth. 5:8); that is, to achieve the objective of his ecclesiastical existence. This is precisely what

the words of the blessed John of Damascus express in his Paschal canon: Let us be cleansed of
our senses, and we shall see the inaccessible Light of the resurrection of Christ shining
brightly. (Ode a, Troparion 2)
Worship leads to theosis (deification), but only when there is a cleanliness of the heart and of
the senses (= the inner prerequisite for worship) (Fr. G.D. Metallinos, as above, p.274), which is,
of course, the fruit of Mans unity with the same source of Mans sanctification as well as ascetic
life and worship: the Holy Trinitys Grace. Moreover, God Himself, Who provided worship as a
potential for sanctification, also appointed ascesis as a perpetual opening for mankind to
sanctifying Grace. Consequently, if worship is the entry into the heavenly Kingdom, then
ascesis is the way towards this Kingdom. Worship determines and reveals the purpose of our
existence; ascesis helps to achieve this purpose.
With ascesis, moreover, as a Christians permanent way of life, his entire life is transformed into
worship of God in truth (John 4:22), because the practicing Christian is wholly transformed
into a temple of God, in which is officiated the mystery of salvation. But, just as those who
prayed with the heart in the Church of Corinth (1 Cor.14), albeit possessing the incessant
prayer (1 Thess. 5:17) of the Holy Spirit in their heart, they also participated in the
congregation of the entire body, thus the one who is perfected in ascesis also participates in the
congregation and worship of the body and churchifies his charismas. Without ones
communion, on the other hand, with his brothers in Christ, communion with Christ is rendered
impossible (1 John 4:20).
Thus, what matters is the fact that ascesis does not function only as a preparatory factor for the
believer for his participation in worship, but it also contributes towards the believers retaining
the Grace that he receives when exiting the temple, and thereafter towards his relationship with
God. This is also expounded by Saint Nicholas Kavasilas in a special chapter titled: what the
initiate who has safeguarded the grace derived from the sacraments becomes, through his
willingness. (On Life in Christ, Logos 7, PG 150, 625)
Ascesis, finally, contributes towards the projection and the extension of worship into ones
entire life, which is thus transformed into an incessant worship, as a liturgy after the liturgy.

3. Monasticism as a liturgical practice

Ecclesiastic monasticism preserves the link between ascesis and worship, by saving the spiritual
props of Gods people in their spiritual course. A monks life is a genuine study of repentance
( ) (Canon 43, 6th Ecumenical Council). Given that
repentance is the actual revolution that was introduced in Christ to the world, for the
perpetual renovation of the world, monasticism preserves Christianity as a permanent
(spiritual) revolution within the world, while in parallel it prolongs the spirituality of the first
centuries, safeguarding the Church from the danger of secularization by acting as an inhibition

for its propagation. Monasticism, in its absolute consistency in the struggle for deification,
expresses in every era the surplus of Christian ascesis, the path of excess (1 Cor. 12:31),
which becomes a rule in spiritual life. That is why it was called the superior way, the jewel
of the Church - because, even though all Christians have been invited to forcefully receive
the Grace of God, monks follow the Lords commandment more faithfully, through their more
consistent and precise ascesis.
Consequently, all faithful strive for the same objective. Monks, however, fight with a broader
spectrum of potentials. Their way is the experiencing of End Times (1 John 2:18) - that
incessant alertness in expectation of the coming Lord. That is why monasticism is the most
genuine form of Christian life and the light for the strugglers of the world. The incorporation
of worship in the spiritual struggle of monks, albeit considered different to the initial view of
worship by the Church, turned out to be the greatest blessing for the ecclesiastic body, for it is
through monasticism that the link between worship and the enthusiastic element were
continued, given that monasticism is the historical continuity of Christian martyrdom, in the
form of the martyrdom of conscience. (Andr. Fytrakis, Martyrdom and Monastic Living
and Fr. G.D.Metallinos, The Saint and the Martyr as emulators of the passions of the Lord)
Already, the apostolic community of Jerusalem presents itself par excellence as a
worshipping one. The prayer of the faithful is addressed to God with one mouth and one
heart (Rom.15:6, 1 Peter 4:1, Revel. 15:4, etc). Monks were to remain faithful to this same
tradition of the ancient Church, as the continuers of the enthusiastic trends of the ancient
Church. Their life was to be shaped as a life of worship, and they themselves would circulate as
corporeal angels and liturgical spirits. A monk, moreover, is not merely (passively)
nourished during worship; he actually becomes its communicant and officiator, thus
participating in the way of existence of the Church as a body of Christ. With Saint Basil the
Great as organizer, the monastic coenobium comprises a miniature of the Church as a monastic
parish, where everyday life is expressed as a liturgical glorification. Through the coenobium,
ecclesiastic worship develops its potential in the field of ascesis. (On the link between
monasticism and worship, see the Ascetic Works of Saint Basil the Great, PG 31, 520-1428). At
the geographical center of the monastic coenobium there is always the Catholicon or
Kyriakon, the central temple for the liturgical congregation of the entire Monastery.
With the appearance of organized ascesis from the 4th century, worship was directly linked
to ascesis. (Fr. G.D.Metallinos, The Theological Witness. As above, p. 66) Monks
incorporated genuflexion (kneeling) in their worship, borrowed from the imperial custom (of
adoration) as an expression of their contrition, their self-accusation and their subjugation to
God. Worship thus took on an ascetic character, as a form of perpetual repentance. This spirit is
apparent in the words of Abba Pambo, which simultaneously reveal the differentiation from the
form of worship by the Christians of the world: For, monks did not depart to come to this
desert, to stand before God and be absent-minded and sing songs and produce (musical)
sounds and shake their arms and shift their feet about, but are obliged with much fear and
terror, with tears and sighs, to offer their prayers to God with respect and in a solemn and

moderate voice. (W.Christ W.Paranikas. Anthologia Graeca carminum Christianorum,

Lipsiae 1871, XXIX). This text clearly expresses the spirit of monastic ascesis. Even though in
later centuries monasticism was to acquire a worship far more embellished than that of the
parishes of the world, thus becoming the chief factor of ecclesiastic worships development, that
spirit will never be lost, which is linked to the entire spiritual elation preserved within it.
Monasticism succeeds in rendering life an organic continuation of worship, precisely through
A monks incorporation in prayer also demands increased participation in worship. A monk is
realized during worship. That is why he desires to live in communion with God, like an infant
that seeks the maternal embrace. A monks participation in worship maintains him in a Godcentered communion, but also in communion with his brothers. For the monk, abstaining from
worship is a withdrawal from Christ and a severing from the maternal body of Church. It is not,
therefore, illogical for hermits-ascetics of every period to receive Holy Communion through
monks living in a convent, in order to be able to receive Holy Communion every day, thus
participating simultaneously in the ecclesiastic community.
Absolute ascesis, alienated from the worshipping community, cannot be considered
ecclesiastically. Saint Basil the Great, major organizer of monasticism in the Church, prioritizes
the liturgical praxis in his ascetic works, stressing that prayers that are not recited in common,
lose much of their power (PG 32, 493B).
This praxis is strictly upheld in the Holy Mountain in our day, where the whole of
Orthodoxy is represented. Within one ecclesiastic year, about 50 night-vigil services are held. In
certain stricter coenobiums, vigils are held on every Saturday of the two, more extensive fasting
periods (Christmas and Easter). A contemporary, well-known monk of the Holy Mountain (Fr.
George Kapsanis) provides on this matter an important personal testimony:
In the worship of the Church a monk surrenders himself with love to God and God
surrenders Himself to him. A monk spends many of his hours every day inside the temple,
worshipping the beloved Lord. To him, participation in worship is not compulsory, but a
necessity of his soul, which thirsts for God. In the monasteries of the Holy Mountain, the Divine
Liturgy is performed daily and the monks are not in a hurry for the service to finish, regardless
how many hours its duration is, because they have nothing better to do than be in communion
with the Saviour, the Mother of the Saviour and the friends of the Saviour [] Thus, worship is
joy and celebration, the springtime of the soul and a foretasting of Paradise [] The priority
that Monasticism gives to the worship of God reminds the Church and the world that if the
Divine Liturgy and worship do not become once again the center of our life, our world has no
possibility to be united and transformed; to transcend division, imbalance, the void and death,
despite the sincere humanitarian systems and improvement programs of the world.
Monasticism furthermore reminds us that the Divine Liturgy and worship are not merely
something in our life, but are the center, the source of renovation and sanctification of all the
aspects of our life ( - Evangelical Monasticism, in the periodical

Hossios Gregorios, 1976, p.68, 70.) This passage is an important testimony on the link
between ascesis and worship, as these have been instituted in Orthodoxy throughout the
However, ascesis has equally left its mark on ecclesiastic worship. Not only the forms but
the content, the ideas and the themes of ecclesiastical worship also bear a vivid ascetic character.
We will limit ourselves to mention only certain more characteristic examples:
The absolute prevalence of the monastic liturgical praxis in the (secular) world also,
after the end of the Iconoclast period.
b) The notions of following Christ; of passion for the sake of Christ; of self-crucifixion all
purely ascetic themes prevail predominantly in ecclesiastic hymnography.
Many feast-days and services are dedicated to ascetics -both men and women- who are
presented as models of Orthodox spirituality (Most characteristic instances are the projection of
the blessed personages of Saint Maria the Egyptian and Saint John of the Ladder. For the actual
verification, see J.Tyciak, Die Liturgie als Quelle oestlicher Froemmigkeit (Ecclesia Orans, 20)
Freiburg 1937.).
d) The ascetic ideal prevails in the weekly liturgical praxis: Tuesday is dedicated to the
Theotokos and John the Baptist - summits of ascetic life and guides for those striving in their
ascetic labours. Virginity and continence are thus honored, liturgically, in the persons of the
Theotokos and the Forerunner.
One could add here the reinstatement of the Iconostasis, the long periods of fasting, as
well as the attire of the clergy, all of which are the fruits of a lengthy, ascetic-monastic tradition.
Even the custom of the Orthodox to participate standing during worship, is ascribed to the
influence of the monastic polity (the ascetic stance towards the body and the emulating of the
praxis of the Angels during celestial worship, where they worship God standing). (John
Foundoulis, The spirit of divine worship in Liturgical Matters A, p. 21.)
The inter-embracing of worship and ascesis in the life of the Church is what incarnates the spirit
of Orthodoxy, which is the in pure heart approach to the Kingdom of Grace. Particularly the
participation in the Sacrament of Sacraments, the Divine Eucharist, according to the admission
of the patristic conscience, demands the awareness of the faithful and their psychosomatic
cleanness (2 Cor. 7:1). Worship (Eucharist) and a clean life in the ascetic sense of the term,
not the moralistic one go together.

4. Monasticism and Theology

The preservation by Monasticism of the authentic link between asceticism and worship is its
power supply for the development of its perennial potential in expressing ecclesiastic
Theology. It is not coincidental that all the true Theologians of the Church (the Fathers)
originate from the realm of ascesis and in fact, from its organized version Monasticism
which is the natural continuity of the Churchs life-tradition. Monasticism preserves in its
authentic dimensions the arms of theologizing, and on its wings its spiritual ascents.
Consequently, from within the perspective of ecclesiastic ascesis and worship, Monasticisms
intrinsic association to theological Knowledge and its theologizing regarding the ecclesiastic
body becomes apparent. That is also the reason why the author by conviction regards the
sphere of academic Theology (Universities) merely as a potential to approach and analyze the
impressions of the testimonies recorded during the historical course of the Church, but as a
prerequisite of ecclesiastic (i.e. primary) theologizing; in other words, as a revelation of divine
knowledge. This can be attained, only in the truly Theological School of the Church, in the
realm of monastic experience, as established in chapters 12-14 of the 1st Epistle to Corinthians,
where mention is made of spiritual things (charismas). Only those who are permanent
students of this God-taught school of piety as are the monks are proven from above to be
theologians of the Church. (Fr. G.D.Metallinos, Theological education and ecclesiastic regime,
from Ecclesia 1993. p.127).


1. Introduction
It is a known fact that a precise definition of Orthodoxy as a Church is impossible, because
Orthodoxy-Church is a Divine-human magnitude and, as far as its divine element is
concerned, it supersedes every intellectual-logical conception. So, if we wished to somehow
define Orthodoxy, we could say the following: Orthodoxy is the presence of the Uncreated in
the world and in History, and the potential of the created to become sanctified and attain
theosis. A (Christian) Deismus: Deus Creator, sed non Gubernator (A God Creator, but not
Governor) is a pure delusion, orthodoxically speaking. The Time-less and supra-Time element
is constantly within the world and within Time, so that it may sanctify Time and transform it
into the Time of the divine Kingdom, into eternity (see the words of the Apostle Paul: It is
necessary for this perishable thing to clothe itself with imperishability, and this mortal thing to
clothe itself with immortality Cor.I, 15:53).

2. Faith

It is understood that Orthodoxy is always closely linked to faith. Thus, we speak of the right
and true faith, in order to distinguish it from the adulterated faith. Orthodoxy is the true
glory and glorification of God - the genuine notion of God while a heresy is a manufactured
glory, a morbid glorification of God. Orthodoxy and heresy thus confront each other in the area
of Faith, and that is exactly where they diversify. What, therefore, is faith and how is it
perceived in the life of the Church as the Body of Christ?
First of all, faith in the language of theology signifies divine revelation; it is that which is
revealed to Man, by God it is the content of the revealed, Divine Truth (Fides quae creditur).
However, Divine Revelation is not an abstract thing, that is to say, a collection of intellectually
conceived truths, ideas and basic positions that Man is called upon to accept, in order to be
saved. Such is the Scholastic view of faith, which has infiltrated our Dogmatics also. The Truth
of the Church is a Person; it is the incarnated Son and Logos of God; it is the incarnate AllTruth. It is the Person of our Lord Jesus Christ. The unknown and inapproachable God became
(and continues to become) known, ever since the beginning of Creation, in Christ. In other
words, God discloses Himself; He is self-revealed, in multilateral and resourceful ways
(Hebrews 1:1), the culmination being His self-revelation in the Son - the incarnation of His
Son - which was the prerequisite for the event of the Pentecost, for the sake of which Creation
(according to the Saints) was composed. The Pentecost is Gods supreme revelation in the
Holy Spirit, and Mans experience within History.
Christ, as a God-Human, is in a certain way the objective faith, which is offered from
above, so that we may come to know God in Himself (see John 14:9 whomsoever has seen
Me, has seen the Father). He is our hypostatic (=personal) faith, according to Saint Maximus
the Confessor. We become faithful, by participating in that personal and incarnated Faith
(=Christ). Only in Christ can there be a possibility to know the true God. And that is what
establishes Orthodoxys uniqueness and exclusivity, in the event known as Salvation. (Acts,
To the revealed Faith, which is accredited to Man for his salvation, Man reciprocates with his
own (subjective) Faith (Fides qua creditur). Mans faith is absolutely essential, in order for
Gods power to function inside Man; to lead him to salvation. Its significance is stressed by
Christ Himself: Whosoever believes and is baptized shall be saved; whosoever disbelieves
shall be reproached. (Mark 16:16). The objective Faith must necessarily be transformed into
Mans subjective Faith, for his salvation. And that is effected, through the indwelling
(Rom.8:9 if the Spirit of God dwells within you ) of the objective Faith; in other words,
the indwelling of the Uncreated inside the created; of God inside Man. Man is invited by Christ
to become faithful, to be receptive of the revealed-in-Christ Truth as a life in Christ, and to
live that Truth, so that he too may become true, just as Christ is the true One (John I, 5:20).
Mans salvation is when he is rendered true, and the prerequisite for this, is his union with
the true God.

A faith that is Orthodox is the one that acts soteriologically. And that is the precise point where
heresy differentiates itself from Orthodoxy. Heresy is the adulteration of the faith and its
retraction at the same time, because it is adulterating the faith in two directions: on the one
hand, with regard to the believed (Christ) and on the other, with regard to its manner of
accepting Christ. In a heresy, Christ is segmented and is accepted, not in whole but
segmentally, by a segmented - not whole person, because He is approached only by Mans
intellect and his lips, while the heart and Mans entire existence is a long way off from God
(Matthew 15:8). A heresy (every heresy) is not only a false teaching; it is literally a nonOrthodoxy and a non-Christianity. By approaching the matter in this way, we disentangle
ourselves from the confessional disagreements of the past and their scholastic terminology.
After all, what is of primary concern is not how false a teaching might be, but whether it is
capable of healing Man (as fr. Romanides used to teach); whether it is capable of saving him.
Thus, one could say in conclusion - with regard to the process of the event called faith that
faith begins as a logical-intellectual process, in the sense of an external affirmation by Man,
progressing as an acceptance of Gods offer and a loyalty towards Him, to be fulfilled however,
with an internal certainty and cognizance of God, in Christ. These are the exact basic meanings
linguistically contained in the term faith (pistis) in the Greek language, the language of the
Gospels: em-pisto-syni (trust), pisto-tita (fidelity, faithfulness), vevaiotita (certainty,
confidence). Further along, we shall attempt from within our Philokalian (ascetic-neptic)
tradition to elucidate these meanings, in order to comprehend as much as we can the function
of faith as a factor of salvation.

3. The first faith the simple faith or, the faith through hearing
Jesus Christ - the eternal Logos of God - teaches mankind throughout all the ages, revealing
through His teaching the path to Salvation. This was already taking place in the Old Testament,
through His mouths the Prophets. But it also took place after His incarnation, through His
own most holy mouth, and continues to take place historically, with His Apostles and the
Saintly Fathers and Mothers, through to the end of Time (Matthew, 28:20).
Mans stance, which is characterized by his reply/response to Gods calling, is, in the worst case
a denial-rejection of Gods offer, and in the best case it is our trust in Him. Given that Christ
acts in History as the Physician of our souls and our bodies (from the Divine Liturgy), we
could say that this applies in the case of every Physician: either one shows trust in him and
obeys the doctors orders and is cured, or, he violates his orders and dies. This first faith, in
the form of trust, is the trust that originates through hearing of a sermon and is a necessary
prerequisite for the cognizance of God (see Romans 10:17: faith through hearing, and
hearing, through the word of God).
This first faith of Man is linked to his natural knowledge, which has intellect/ logic as its
instrument. There are two kinds of faith, but also two kinds of knowledge/cognizance; at the

same time, there are two instruments for each type of knowledge; i.e., for the cognizance of God
and the cognizance of the world. That is what was stated by Saint Isaac the Syrian, a major
ascetic of the Church: It is one knowledge, which has faith as its prerequisite, and another,
which is born of faith. The former is a natural knowledge, while the latter is a spiritual
knowledge. With natural-logical knowledge (albeit it, too, is a gift of God), we can discern
between good and evil. But how doe natural knowledge lead us to Faith? According to the
Apostle Paul, it turns Man towards God, through Creation (Romans 1:20). The divine path,
however, is the one of teaching and of miracles the divine signs. The teaching and the
miracles of Christ orientated Mans natural knowledge, in order to arouse the first faith. For
instance, when Christ fed the five thousand in the desert, the people, on seeing the miracle
that Christ performed, exclaimed: this man is truly the prophet who was to come into the
world (John 6:14). In another place, John the Evangelist observes: Thus, Jesus had performed
many and other signs before His disciples, which are not recorded in this book. These however
have been recorded, so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ (the anointed One), the Son
of God, and in believing, you shall have eternal life in His name (John 20:30-31). But even
Christ Himself would say to the Judeans: and even if you do not believe me, then believe
through (my) Labors, so that you might know and discover that the Father is in Me and I am in
the Father (John 10:38). And: They told you, and you did not believe. The acts that I do in the
name of my Father, they testify about me. (John 10:25)
Christs words and actions are being repeated, by His Saints, during every moment of History,
and they are what arouses Mans faith. Only the rough-necked and uncircumcised in the heart
and ears (Acts 7:51) the Pharisees of every era reject Gods calling for salvation. The
toughening and the callousness of the heart is the spiritual death of Man. In a situation such as
that, Man is rendered incapable of accepting Gods Grace.
The simple faith alone, as a logical acceptance of the divine truth, is naturally insufficient for
salvation; the devil and the demons also possess a similar kind of faith. According to Saint
James, the brother of Christ, Where is the benefit, if one says he has faith, but shows no
Labors? Can his faith save him? (he is referring here to the first faith; i.e., if he were to stop
there). Even the demons believe, and they shudder. (James 2:14-19) The first faith contributes
towards salvation, when, according to the same Apostle, it has Labors to show for it. Labors
of faith constitute the enacted sequel of a persons belief in Christ; in other words, they
represent his trust and his obedience in Christ his recognition of Christ as Saviour.
But what are those Labors that the first faith gives birth to? Saint Simeon the Theologian (10th
11th- century) speaks of the virtues that are born of the first faith: Faith in God gives birth to
the desire for good things and the fear of condemnation. The desire for good and the fear of
condemnation lead to a precise observation of the commandments. The observation of
commandments on the other hand, will reveal the human weaknesses. The awareness of ones
weaknesses will give birth to the remembrance of death. However, he who has reached the
stage of having that remembrance of death as his living companion will hasten to discover what
his situation will be, after death. But whoever does concern himself with learning something

about what happens after death, abstains from the pleasures of this life. Because if he becomes
attached to even one of them, he will be incapable of attaining complete knowledge. Virtues
that are born of the first faith are in an inter-dependent relationship between themselves,
because the one produces the other. According to Saint Maximus the Confessor: Whoever has
the Lord in his thoughts, maintains a fear of Hell. By remaining afraid of Hell, he keeps himself
at a distance from passions. Whoever keeps himself away from passions, will tolerate the
ordeals of life. By tolerating the ordeals of life, he acquires a hope in God. He who has his hope
in God, distracts his mind from everything terrestrial, in other words, he attains apathy (apathos = passion-less). And when Man distracts his mind from everything terrestrial, he
acquires divine love.
We must point out here that the confusion that ensued in the West regarding the relationship
between faith and labors, is, in the Patristic tradition, nonexistent. In the New Testament, James
speaks of the first faith, which must be complemented by labors of salvation. But Paul speaks
mainly of the second faith, which we shall talk about, further on. This faith is the fruit of the
Holy Spirit, inside the heart. Let us return to the first faith for now:
The labors of the first faith are of a therapeutic character, and they act as spiritual medicines for
the healing/restoration of the human existence, in its communion with God. The labors of the
law which is essentially Pauls sermon to the Romans cannot, on their own, earn any
recompense (reward: Luke 17:10), nor can they save Man. For example, the Pharisees had labors
of the law to show, but they could not be saved, because they were not pure of heart. The
catharsis (cleansing) of the heart is a prerequisite for the cognizance of God. Blessed are the
pure in heart, for they shall look upon God (Matthew 5:8). The criterion, therefore, that
evaluates the first faith, is that it leads to the cleansing of the heart. That is why faith is subjected
to monitoring, exactly like a therapeutic, medical method is proven correct, when it leads a
person to being cured. And here, again, the difference between Orthodoxy and non-Orthodoxy
is evident. Non-Orthodoxy (heresy) does not lead cannot lead Man to becoming cured,
because it does not possess the medicines required for salvation. These medicines are the
proper teaching of the Bible and the dogmas (decisions) of the Ecumenical Synods, which are
nothing more than the recording of the experiences of the Saints on the matter of salvation. The
dogmas of the Church provide the faith that saves, and they determine the course of the faithful
person towards salvation. That is why the Saints throughout the ages struggled to the death for
the preservation of the purity of the dogmas, just like genuine Physicians struggle for the
preservation of a therapeutic method. Adulterated dogmas do not save, and this, again, is
where the tragedy of heresies becomes apparent. Their dogmas are adulterated medicines that
are lethal for Man, and lead to eternal destruction. And that is the reason the Saints are afraid,
not of sin, but of heresy.
This also explains a historical practice, which is often misconstrued. Heresy, as maintained by
fr. John Romanides, was regarded by the Christian State (in Byzantium) as an adulterated
medication, as it contains poisonous teaching. That is why heretics books (but not the heretics
themselves!) were often burnt (that is, destroyed) in the Orthodox East the way that any justly

governed State is obliged to destroy any medication that endangers the lives of its citizens, and
obstruct the activities of pseudo-physicians. In this matter, it is not about restricting the free
movement of ideas, because Mans very eternal existence is threatened.
These are the prerequisites, with which our Church to this day is struggling to protect its flock
from heretical groups of the East and the West, which are employing (especially in our
homeland) an open and provocative proselytism. Which is why we need the prayers and the
support of everyone.

4. The perfect faith the indwelling (inner) faith

The first faith may not save, but it does open the way to salvation, which is expressed by the
perfect, inmost faith. This is what is preached by our Saints, such as Saint Makarios the
Egyptian (4th century): He who tries to believe, and to become united with the Lord, must try
to receive the Holy Spirit during this lifetime. That is why Christ came to the world: to
administer the Holy Spirit to the soul But if someone does not try to discover, here, from this
lifetime, where the light of the Holy Spirit is, and preserve it inside his soul, then, when he dies,
he can expect to be received by the place of darkness, at the left hand of the Lord.
This faith is called supreme, perfect, inmost, originating from vision. It is the faith that
is linked to the event of salvation, because it constitutes the certainty of salvation within Man.
The first faith is more of a human achievement naturally with the help of God. The
perfect faith is the fruit and the gift of the Holy Spirit. In order for someone to attain it, he
must acquire the Grace of the Holy Spirit. That is why the assumption of the Holy Spirit is the
Christians aim (ref. receive ye the Holy Spirit - John 20:22). The prayer of the Orthodox
faithful is: Heavenly King, the Paraclete, the Spirit of Truthcome, and camp inside us.
Life in Christ, as an exercise, is called spiritual effort, precisely because it aspires to render
Man receptive of the Holy Spirit.

Patristic references on the two-fold faith:

John the Damascene (PG 94, 1125C 1128A)

Faith is two-fold. There is the faith that originates through hearing; for, having heard of the
divine scriptures, we believe through teachingThen again, there is the faith which is the
hypostasis of things hoped for As for the first, it springs from our conviction, while the
second belongs to the endowments of the Spirit.

Anastasios of Sinai (PG 89, 76 CD)

The upright faith is understood as two-fold. There is the faith upon hearing a sermon, and
there is the more certain faith, which is the hypostasis of things hoped for. And as regards the
one upon hearing, all people are able to attain it, whereas the second one is only attained by the
righteous (the Saints).
A living member of the body of Christ is the one who has the Spirit dwelling inside him, with
unutterable sighs within his heart (Romans 8:26). This person is faithful; he is a temple of
God (Cor.I, 3:16). A spiritual person in the language of Orthodoxy is the bearer of the Holy
Spirit, and it is he, who truly belongs to Christ, as a genuine member of His body. The Paulian
distinction of spiritual-natural-fleshly person is upheld by the holy Fathers also, when they
refer to a person being according to nature, above nature and contrary to nature. Saint
Mark the ascetic underlines this division, with the following words: When the Nous is in a
contrary to nature condition, Man is forgetful of Gods justice, and he is in conflict with his
fellow-man whenever they wrong him (the fleshly person). But when the Nous is in a natural
(according to nature) condition, then that person discovers that he is the generator of evil
thoughts. This person confesses his sins to God and is fully aware of the cause of his passions
(the natural person). However, when the Nous reaches the above nature condition, it receives
the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and this person knows that when he begins to prefer attending to
bodily matters, he cannot keep the Spirit (spiritual person).
The inmost faith according to Saint Gregory of Palamas is the best of all proofs of God. Faith,
he says, is the best of all proofs, and an improvable proof of a holy proof, because it is
something that is experienced; it is an inner certainty. That is why logical proofs of God were
not developed in Orthodoxy they were never deemed necessary. The vision of God theopty
is the direct and insurmountable proof of divine existence and presence.
The perfect faith is frequently mentioned in the New Testament, but it requires a knowledge of
the linguistic code of the Holy Scripture in order to be comprehended. Here are some examples:
John 3:16: so that every believer in Him shall not be lost, but he shall have eternal life..
(eternal life = divine Grace, divine energy. believer = the one who has Grace dwelling inside
John 3:18: The believer in Him is not judged
John 11:6: The believer in me, even if he dies, shall live
John 14:12: The believer in me, whatever works I do (=miracles), he too shall do, and even
greater than these shall he do (see the miracles performed by the Saints, even during the New
Testament era).

Pauls address in his epistle to Hebrews (11:1) is related to the perfect faith: And there is a
faith, which is the hypostasis of things hoped for; the controlling of things that are not seen.
The thing hoped for is the uncreated grace of the Triadic God. We are in anticipation of the
Kingdom of God, of His Grace. Furthermore, the thing that is not seen is uncreated grace
itself. The inmost faith becomes the controller, that is, the verifying factor, of that which Man
cannot see with his physical eyes. With the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit, Man reaches the
stage of theory, in other words, the vision of divine majesty (the kingdom). This is what is
expressed by the other word of the Apostle: believe in your heartyou shall be
saved. (Romans 10:9). Therefore, this is not about a logical faith, but a cardiac one, which is
possible, only with the presence of the Uncreated within the heart. It is in this context that
Christs words should also be comprehended: (Luke 18:8): However, when the Son of Man
comes, I wonder if He will find the faith on earth?
Todays man could ask about the way the inner faith functions. We shall reply, with a New
Testament instance (Acts 3:1-8): Peter and John were going up to the sanctuary on the hour of
prayer - the ninth - when a certain man who was lame from his mothers womb was being
supported, whom they placed every day near the portal of the sanctuary the so-called fine
one so that he could beg for alms from those who entered the sanctuary. This man, on seeing
Peter and John intending to enter the sanctuary, asked to receive alms from them. Peter looked
upon him, together with John, and said: Look at us. He turned towards them, hoping to obtain
something from them. And Peter said: Silver and gold I have none on me; what I have, that I
shall give you: in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, walk! And in a daze, he stood up
and walked
Only those who are conscious of the presence of the Holy Spirit in their hearts can speak like the
Apostle Peter does. Analogous moments are encountered in the lives of Saints (for example,
Saint Spyridon would go to his daughters grave and address her, with the certainty that he
would receive her reply). Why dont we clergymen, who have received the same ordination as
them, dare to venture into similar actions? Quite simply: because Gods grace is inert inside us.
We are not bearers of Grace, we are mere transporters of it!
The criteria of true faith and the outcome for Man is, for us Orthodox, those proofs of theosis
provided by God, i.e., the relics of the Saints such as Saint Spyridons nowadays in Corfu, and
the 120 relics in the Great Cloister of Kiev in the Ukraine. A heresy has no holy relics to show:
relics that are intact, miracle-working, and fragrance-exuding (=evidence of theosis). Besides, a
heresy adulterates the faith in two directions: it either turns the faith into a philosophical system
and ideology, or, it absolutizes ones labors like the Pharisees did- and it leads into a barren
activism (=missionary labors without any esoteric rebirth).
But here is where we come to comprehend the words of Saint Cyprian (3rd century): extra
ecclesiam nulla salvus (there is no salvation outside the Church). Church here is not what is
conventionally known as Church nowadays (even heresies call themselves churches);
Church is the one and only body of Christ. His words signify: Outside of the life, which

comprises the way of existence of that Body within History, Man cannot be saved. The Church
exists wherever that way of life is preserved: according to Saint Irenaeus, bishop of Lugdunum
(2nd century), Ubi Spiritus Sanctus, ibi Ecclesia et omnis Gratia. Wherever the presence of the
Holy Spirit is perceived (Saints, miracles), that is where the Church and all of Gods Grace is.

5. Points of conclusion
1) Orthodoxy exists, only where the method for the perfect faith is familiar and is applied.
Wherever the path to theosis is unknown - even if the ground is characterized as Orthodox
that is where a heretic way of existence is pursued and is consequently non-Orthodox. Heresy,
as a heretic way of existence, is oblivious to the experience of theosis. Instead, it religionizes
the faith (it seeks to bridge the gap between man and God with the external-ritual media of a
religion). The religionizing of the faith refutes the faith, as does its ideologicalizing. Heretics
theologize intellectually, academically, and they cannot discern between truth and fallacy. Thus,
Orthodox is the one who does not formulate heretical views, but the one who purifies
himself, in order to attain Holy-Spiritual enlightenment. According to Saint Gregory of Nyssa,
heretics show up, wherever theumens (enlightened ones) are absent.
2) The ecumenical dialogue would have acquired a certain meaning, if it dealt with these
problems and not with scientific compromises for the purpose of seeking solutions.
3) Heresy is repulsed, not with violence or with legal or police measures, but with the
experience of Theosis. Wherever this experience exists, there the Church exists. Unfortunately,
in contemporary Christian societies, the seeking of Grace is tending to vanish altogether, and
only monasticism is the area in which this seeking of the perfect faith has been preserved.
This is why only monasticism is left as the continuance of Apostolic-Patristic spirituality.
4) The seeking of the perfect faith is the criterion for the genuineness of the ecclesiastic Mission;
because with regard to the Missionary matter, certain basic questions are raised: What is the
meaning of the term Mission? What is preached by it? Where are non-Christians invited? To
which church? Which Christ? Are they invited so that they might be saved, or merely to
become the followers of a certain authoritative circle?
5) Orthodoxy is not afraid of persecutions, but only heresy, because only heresy can irrevocably
harm the Faith.
Orthodoxy, as Orthodoxy, gives birth to Saints and thus remains in the world a place of
sanctification and sanctity.


On the Last Sunday of Lent we commemorate the Second and Incorruptible Coming of our
Lord Jesus Christ. The expression we commemorate of the Book of Saints confirms that our
Church, as the Body of Christ, re-enacts in its worship the Second Coming of Christ as an
event and not just something that is historically expected. The reason is, that through the
Divine Eucharist, we are transported to the celestial kingdom, to meta-history. It is in this
orthodox perspective, that the subject of paradise and hell is approached.
In the Gospels (Matthew, ch.5), mention is made of kingdom and eternal fire. In this
excerpt, which is cited during the Liturgy of this Sunday, the kingdom is the divine
destination of mankind. The fire is prepared for the devil and his angels (demons), not
because God desired it, but because they are impenitent. The kingdom is prepared for
those who remain faithful to the will of God. Kingdom (the uncreated glory) is Paradise.
Fire (eternal) is hell (eternal hell, v.46). At the beginning of history, God invites man into
paradise, into a communion with His uncreated Grace. At the end of history, man has to face
paradise and hell. What this means, we shall see, further down. We do however stress that it is
one of the central subjects of our faith it is Orthodox Christianitys philosophers stone.
1. Mention of paradise and hell in the New Testament is frequent. In Luke 23, 43 Christ says to
the robber on the cross: Today you will be with me in paradise. However, the robber also
refers to paradise, when he says: Remember me, Lordin Your kingdom. According to
Theofylaktos of Bulgaria (PG 123, 1106), for the robber is in paradise, in other words, the
kingdom. The Apostle Paul (Corinthians II, 12: 3-4) confesses that, while still in this lifetime,
he was swept up to paradise and heard unspoken words, which are inappropriate for man to
repeat. In the Book of Revelations, we read: To the victor, I shall give him to eat of the tree of
life, which is in the paradise of my God (2,7). And Arethas of Caesaria interprets: paradise is
understood to be the blessed and eternal life (PG 106, 529). Paradise-eternal life-kingdom of
God, are all related.

References on hell: Matthew 25, 46 (to eternal damnation), 25, 41 (eternal fire), 25, 30 (the
outermost darkness), 5, 22 (the place of fire). John I, 4, 18 (for fear contains hell). These
are ways that express what we mean by hell.
2. Paradise and hell are not two different places. (This version is an idolatrous concept.) They
signify two different situations (ways), which originate from the same uncreated source, and are
perceived by man as two, different experiences. Or, more precisely, they are the same
experience, except that they are perceived differently by man, depending on mans internal
state. This experience is: the sight of Christ inside the uncreated light of His divinity, of His
glory. From the moment of His Second Coming, through to all eternity, all people will be
seeing Christ in His uncreated light. That is when those who worked good deeds in their
lifetime will go towards the resurrection of their life, while those who worked evil in their
lifetime will go towards the resurrection of judgment (John 5, 29). In the presence of Christ,
mankind will be separated (sheep and goats, to His right and His left). In other words,
they will be discerned in two separate groups: those who will be looking upon Christ as
paradise (the exceeding good, the radiant) and those who will be looking upon Christ as hell
(the all-consuming fire, Hebrews 12,29).
Paradise and hell are the same reality. This is what is depicted in the portrayal of the Second
Coming. From Christ a river flows forth: it is radiant like a golden light at the upper end of it,
where the Saints are. At its lower end, the same river is fiery, and it is in that part of the river
that the demons and the unrepentant (the never repentant according to a hymn) are
depicted. This is why in Luke 2, 34 we read that Christ stands as the fall and the resurrection
of many. Christ becomes the resurrection into eternal life, for those who accepted Him and
who followed the suggested means of healing the heart; and to those who rejected Him, He
becomes their demise and their hell.
Patristic testimonies: Saint John of Sinai (of the Ladder) says that the uncreated light of Christ is
an all-consuming fire and an illuminating light. Saint Gregory Palamas (PG II, 498) observes:
Thus, it is said, He will baptize you by the Holy Spirit and by fire: in other words, by
illumination and punishment, depending on each persons predisposition, which will bring
upon him that which he deserves. Elsewhere, (Essays, P. Christou Publications, vol.2, page
145): The light of Christ, albeit one and accessible to all, is not partaken of uniformly, but
Consequently, paradise and hell are not a reward or a punishment (condemnation), but the way
that we individually experience the sighting of Christ, depending on the condition of our
heart. God does not punish in essence, although, for educative purposes, the Scripture does
mention punishment. The more spiritual that one becomes, the better he can comprehend the
language of the Scripture and our traditions. Mans condition (clean-unclean, repentantunrepentant) is the factor that determines the acceptance of the Light as paradise or hell.

3. The anthropological issue in Orthodoxy is that man will eternally look upon Christ as
paradise and not as hell; that man will partake of His heavenly and eternal kingdom. And
this is where we see the difference between Christianity as Orthodoxy and the various other
religions. The other religions promise a certain blissful state, even after death. Orthodoxy
however is not a quest for bliss, but a cure from the illness of religion, as the late father John
Romanides so patristically teaches. Orthodoxy is an open hospital within history (spiritual
infirmary according to Saint John the Chrysostom), which offers the healing (catharsis) of the
heart, in order to finally attain theosis- the only destination of man. This is the course that has
been so comprehensively described by father John Romanides and the Rev. Metropolitan of
Nafpaktos, Hierotheos (Vlachos); it is the healing of mankind, as experienced by all of our
This is the meaning of life in the body of Christ (the Church). This is the Churchs reason for
existence. This is what Christs whole redemptory work aspired to. Saint Gregory Palamas (4th
Homily on the Second Coming) says that the pre-eternal will of God for man is to find a place
in the majesty of the divine kingdom- to reach theosis. That was the purpose of creation. And
he continues: But even His divine and secret kenosis, His god-human conduct, His redemptory
passions, and every single mystery (in other words, all of Christs opus on earth) were all
providentially and omnisciently pre-determined for this very end (purpose).
4. The important thing, however, is that not all people respond to this invitation of Christ, and
that is why not everyone partakes in the same way of His uncreated glory. This is taught by
Christ, in the parable of the rich and the poor Lazarus (Luke, ch.16). Man refuses Christs offer,
he becomes Gods enemy and rejects the redemption offered by Christ (which is a blasphemy
against the Holy Spirit, because it is within the Holy Spirit that we accept the calling of Christ).
This is the never repentant person referred to in the hymn. God never bears enmity, the
blessed Chrysostom observes; it is we who become His enemies; we are the ones who reject
Him. The unrepentant man becomes demonized, because he has chosen to. God doesnt want
this. Saint Gregory Palamas says: for this was not My pre-existing will; I did not create you
for this purpose; I did not prepare the pyre for you. This undying pyre was pre-fired for the
demons who bear the unchanging trait of evil, to whom your own unrepentant opinion
attracted you. The co-habitation with mischievous angels is arbitrary (voluntary). (same as
prev.) In other words, it is something that is freely chosen by man.
Both the rich man and Lazarus were looking upon the same reality, i.e., God in His uncreated
light. The rich man reached the Truth, the sight of Christ, but could not partake of it, as Lazarus
did. The poor Lazarus received consolation, whereas the rich man received anguish.
Christs words, that they: have Moses and the prophets for those still in the world- signifies
that we are all inexcusable. Because we have the Saints, who have experienced theosis and who
call upon us to accede to their way of life so that we too might reach theosis like they did. We
therefore conclude that those who have chosen evil ways like the rich man - are inexcusable.

Our stance towards our fellow man is indicative of our inner state, and that is why this will be
the criterion of Judgment Day during Christs Second Coming (Matthew, ch.25). This doesnt
imply that faith, or mans faithfulness to Christ is disregarded; faith is naturally a prerequisite,
because our stance towards each other will show whether or not we have God inside us. The
first Sundays of the Triodion preceding Lent revolve around fellow man. On the first of these
Sundays, the (seemingly pious) Pharisee justifies (sanctifies) himself and rejects (derogates) the
Tax-collector. On the second Sunday, the elder brother (a repetition of the seemingly pious
Pharisee) is sorrowed by the return (salvation) of his brother. Likewise seemingly pious, he too
had false piety, which did not produce love. On the third (carnival) Sunday, this stance reaches
Christs seat of judgment, and is evidenced as the criterion for our eternal life.
5. The experience of paradise or hell is beyond words or the senses. It is an uncreated reality,
and not a created one. The Franks created the myth that paradise and hell are both created
realities. It is a myth, that the damned will not be looking upon God; just as the absence of
God is equally a myth. The Franks had also perceived the fires of hell as something created
(e.g. Dantes Inferno). Orthodox tradition has remained faithful to the Scriptural claim that the
damned shall see God (like the rich man of the parable), but will perceive Him only as an allconsuming fire. The Frankish scholastics accepted hell as punishment and the deprivation of a
tangible vision of the divine essence. Biblically and patristically however, hell is understood
as mans failure to collaborate with Divine Grace, in order to reach the illuminating view of
God (paradise) and selfless love (per Corinthians I, 13:8): love.. does not demand any
reciprocation). Consequently, there is no such thing as Gods absence, only His presence.
That is why His Second Coming is dire (o, what an hour it will be then, we chant in the
Laudatory hymns). It is an irrefutable reality, toward which Orthodoxy is permanently oriented
(I anticipate resurrection of the dead)
The damned - those who are depraved at heart, just like the Pharisees (Mark 3:5: in the
callousness of their hearts) - eternally perceive the pyre of hell as their salvation! It is because
their condition is not susceptible to any other form of salvation. They too are finalized they
reach the end of their road but only the righteous reach the end of the road as saved persons.
The others finish as damned. Salvation to them is hell, since in their lifetime, they pursued
only pleasure. The rich man of the parable had enjoyed all of his riches. The poor Lazarus
uncomplainingly endured every suffering. The Apostle Paul expresses this (Corinthians I, 3
:13-15): Each persons work, whatever it is, will be tested by fire. If their work survives the test,
then whatever they built, will be rewarded accordingly. If ones work is burnt by the fire, then
he will suffer losses; he shall be saved, thus, as though by fire. The righteous and the
unrepentant shall both pass through the uncreated fire of divine presence; however, the one
shall pass through unscathed, while the other shall be burnt. He too is saved, but only in the
way that one passes through a fire. Efthimios Zigavinos the theologian (12th century) observes
in this respect: God as fire that illuminates and brightens the pure, and burns and obscures the
unclean. And Theodoretos Kyrou (4th century) regarding this saving writes: One is also
saved by fire, by being tested by it, just as when one passes through fire. If he has an

appropriate protective cover, he will not be burnt, otherwise, he may be saved, but he will be
Consequently, the fire of hell has nothing in common with the Frankish purgatory, nor is it
created, nor is it punishment, or an intermediate stage. A viewpoint such as this is virtually a
transferal of ones accountability to God. But the accountability is entirely our own, whether we
choose to accept or to reject the salvation (healing) that is offered by God. Spiritual death is
the viewing of the uncreated light, of divine glory, as a pyre, as fire. Saint John the Chrysostom
in his 9th homily on Corinthians I, notes: Hell is never-ending...sinners shall be judged into a
never-ending suffering. As for the being burnt altogether, it means this: that he does not
withstand the strength of the fire. And he continues: And he (Paul) says, it means this: that he
shall not be thus burnt also - like his works into nothingness, but he shall continue to exist,
only inside that fire. He therefore considers this as his salvation. For it is customary for us to
say saved in the fire, when referring to materials that are not totally burnt away.
Scholastic perceptions-interpretations, which, through Dantes work (Inferno) have permeated
our world, have consequences that amount to idolatrous views. An example is the separation
of paradise and hell as two different places. This has happened, because they did not
distinguish between the created and the uncreated. There is also their denial of hells eternity,
with their idea of the restoration of everything, or the concept of a good God (Bon Dieu).
God is indeed benevolent: (Matthew 8,17), since He offers salvation to everyone. (He wants
all to be saved.. Timothy I, 2,4) However, the words of our Lord as heard during the funeral
service are formidable: I cannot do anything on my own; just as I hear, thus I judge, and my
judgment is fair.(John 5,30). Equally manufactured is the concept of theodicy, which applies
in this case. Everything is finally attributed to God alone (i.e., if He intends to redeem or
condemn), without taking into consideration mans collaboration as a factor of redemption.
Salvation is possible, only within the framework of collaboration between man and Divine
Grace. According to the blessed Chrysostom, the utmost, almost everything, is Gods; He did
however leave something little to us. That little something is our acceptance of Gods
invitation. The robber on the cross was saved, by using the key request of remember me!
Also idolatrous is the perception of a God becoming outraged against a sinner, whereas we
mentioned earlier that God never shows enmity. This is a juridical perception of God, which
also leads to the prospect of penances in confessions as forms of punishment, and not as
medications (means of healing).
6. The mystery of paradise-hell is also experienced in the life of the Church in the world.
During the sacraments, there is a participation of the faithful in Grace, so that Grace may be
activated in our lives, by our course towards Christ. Especially during the Divine Eucharist, the
uncreated holy communion- becomes inside us either paradise or hell, depending on our
condition. But mostly, our participation in Holy Communion is a participation in paradise or
hell, throughout history. That is why we beseech God, prior to receiving Holy Communion, to
render the Precious Gifts inside us not as judgment or condemnation, or as eternal
damnation. This is why participation in Holy Communion is linked to the overall spiritual

course of the faithful. When we approach Holy Communion uncleansed and unrepentant, we
are condemned (burnt). Holy Communion inside us becomes the inferno and spiritual
death. Not because it is transformed into those things of course, but because our own
uncleanliness cannot accept Holy Communion as paradise. Given that Holy Communion is
called medication for immortality (Saint Ignatius the God-bearer, 2nd century), the same
thing exactly occurs as with any medication. If our organism does not have the prerequisites to
absorb the medication, then the medication will produce side-effects and will kill instead of
heal. It is not the medication that is responsible, but the condition of our organism. It must be
stressed, that if we do not accept Christianity as a therapeutic process, and its sacraments as
spiritual medication, then we are led to a religionizing of Christianity; in other words, we
idolatrize it. And unfortunately, this is a frequent occurrence, when we perceive Christianity
as a religion.
Besides, this lifetime is evaluated in the light of the twin criterion of paradise-hell. Ask first for
the kingdom of God and His righteousness, our Christ recommends (Matthew 6,33). Basil the
Great tells the Young (ch.3) Everything we do is in preparation of another life. Our life must
be a continuous preparation for our participation in paradise our community with the
Uncreated John 17,3). And everything begins from this lifetime. That is why the Apostle Paul
says: Behold, now is the opportune time. Behold, now is the day of redemption. (Corinthians
II, 6:2) Every moment of our lives is of redemptive importance. Either we gain eternity, the
eternal community with God, or we lose it. This is why oriental religions and cults that preach
reincarnations are injuring mankind: they are virtually transferring the problem to other,
(nonexistent of course) lifetimes. The thing is, however, that only one life corresponds to each of
us, whether we are saved or condemned. This is why Basil the Great continues: those things
therefore that lead us towards that life, we need to say should be cherished and pursued with
all our might; and those that do not lead us there, we should disregard, as something of no
value. This is the criterion of Christian living. A Christian continuously chooses whatever
favors his salvation. We gain paradise or lose it and end up in hell, in this lifetime. That is why
John the Evangelist says: Whosoever believes in Him shall not be judged; whosoever does not
believe in Him, has already been judged, for not having believed in the name of the onlybegotten Son of God. (3, 18)
Consequently, the work of the church is not to send people to paradise or to hell, but to
prepare them for the final judgment. The work of the Clergy is therapeutic and not moralistic
or character-shaping, in the temporal sense of the word. The essence of life in Christ is
preserved in monasteries naturally wherever they are Orthodox and of course patristic. The
purpose of the Churchs offered therapy is not to create useful citizens and essentially
usable ones, but citizens of the celestial (uncreated) kingdom. Such citizens are the
Confessors and the Martyrs - the true faithful, the Saints.
However, this is also the way that our mission is supervised: What are we inviting people to?
To the Church as a Hospital/Therapy Center, or just an ideology that is labelled Christian?
More often than not, we strive to secure a place in paradise, instead of striving to be healed.

That is why we focus on rituals and not on therapy. This of course does not signify a rejection of
worship. But, without ascesis (spiritual exercise, ascetic lifestyle, act of therapy), worship cannot
hallow us. The Grace that pours forth from it remains inert inside us. Orthodoxy doesnt make
any promises to send mankind to any sort of paradise or hell; but it does have the power as
evidenced by the incorruptible and miracle-working relics of our Saints
(incorruptibility=theosis) to prepare man, so that he may forever look upon the Uncreated
Grace and the Kingdom of Christ as Paradise, and not as Hell.


The argument is often stated that Orthodoxy does not provide the solutions one might expect
for the structuring and organization of life in society; that it is merely a religion of the
hereafter, with exclusively meta-historical aims, outside of the solid, historical reality of
here and now; that it is limited exclusively to the spiritual life, to spirituality, because it is
interested only in the soul and not in regulating earthly matters, i.e. in organizing society. Also,
it is not seldom that certain Orthodox -with an overdose of the Monophysitic spirit- assert
that Orthodoxy does not save bodies, but only immortal souls. This of course betrays latent
Platonic or Manichaean and Brahman tendencies.
The fact that such affirmations reveal a false religion of angels and a super-eschatological
disposition is quite clear. The opposite case, however, also exists; i.e., by resorting to nonOrthodox premises, others promote the Churchs role in the world as being exclusively social,
with social activism and social offering (activities for the common good); the result being a
hyper-historicism, an over-emphasis on the present and entrapment in the mundane - in
History. In both cases, it has been overlooked that from the very beginning, the Church made
Her appearance as an organized society, a theandric-Theanthropic reality, which, however,
provided Her own particular solution to the problems within society. It is this solution for
society, as provided by the Church, in the form of Apostolic and Patristic Orthodoxy, that we
shall attempt to broadly outline herebelow.

1. The social problem: a challenge for the Church

The social problem is the most difficult and thorniest problem in every era and every human
society. It is the pan-human demand for social justice; for the just distribution of goods; for
social equality; for the eradication of any discrimination whatsoever; for an end to one mans
exploitation of (and injustice towards) another. This is not only the demand of man throughout
the ages as a member of society, but also the chief reason for the existence of every political
system that basically promises to solve the social problem. The 20th century specifically has
been called the century of the social problem, because of the strong conflicts which were and
continue to be observed, arising as they do from the antithesis between the rich and the poor,
whether in the smaller communities or in society in general. The demand for social justice
keeps all of humanity in perpetual uprisings and permanent unrest. Political parties of all
shades continually promise social improvements and reforms. This is especially true of socialist
parties, where the social problem has taken on a clearly religious (Messianic) hue. It has, in a
way, become the socialist gospel. They present the solution to the social problem as a form of
salvation, with the socialist paradise eventually prevailing on earth.
The Church could not remain indifferent to the challenges presented by the social problem.
Firstly, because the Church is social by Her very nature; there is no such thing as non-social and
consequently non-political Orthodoxy. A non-political stand even for the Church- is
impossible. When the Church is indifferent to society, or passively participates in a given
political situation, She is without a doubt playing politics. The well-known argument: We
dont get involved in politics, does not only cover up political preferences reprehensible for
Christians, but also constitutes the most tragic form of politicalization; namely, the passive
collaboration with the political ideology in power.
There is no such thing as individual Orthodoxy, individual justice, or individual salvation. The
Saint (=one who is deified) has a life and polity of his own to show, that is, a personal
spiritual struggle, but also a personal presence in society. Orthodoxy accepts the whole person,
as a psychosomatic unity and a whole, and it saves his whole life both spiritual and physicalmaterial. And it is for this reason that it acknowledges all of mans problems, both the spiritual
and the mundane. Entrance into the Body of Christ (the Church) is understood in Orthodoxy as
enrolment into Her of a mans WHOLE life, in the society of Grace (cf. let us appose
ourselves and each other and all of our life unto Christ our God..). The aim of the Incarnation
of God the Logos is the Christification and the Churchification of our whole life; the
sanctification of all our relationships, of our entire society: friends, family, economy, science,
sex, politics, excluding of course every idea of hierocracy and clericalism in the Church, but
secularization as well.
But the Church is interested in society and its problems for another important reason. Because
the condemnation of Christianity by the various political ideologies and especially the

socialists abounds (as we already mentioned) inasmuch as the Church apparently never did, or
ever wished to do, anything to solve the social problem; that instead of taking the side of the
poor and oppressed, She supposedly became an ally of the powerful, of those who exploit and
oppress man. As a matter of fact, socialist ideologies conclude that, by providing mankind with
social equality and justice, they will accomplish what Christianity failed to do; namely, to
establish the Kingdom of God on earth.
A clarification is deemed necessary at this point. The Western concept of Kingdom of God is:
a city-state of God (cf. St Augustine). In Orthodox Patristic terms, on the other hand, it means
the Grace of the Holy Spirit - hence the kingdom of God is within you (Luke 17:21). The
petition in the Lords Prayer, Thy Kingdom come, is the same as Thy Grace come
(Didache 16). The Holy Spirit Himself is, in the Churchs language of liturgy and prayer, the
Heavenly King. On the other hand, it is easy to understand that the kingdom or rule of
God within us also makes our social environment the Kingdom of Christ. The difference
between the Eastern and the Western spirit is evident, in the designation of their starting point.
The West sees (only) the outside - the social reality, whereas Orthodoxy starts from the inside of
man, the inside of the cup.that the outside may also be clean (Matth.23:26).
Indeed, accusations often become particularly bold, when they take on a pretentious character,
such as: The Communists picked up where the Christians left off. (And remarks like these are
heard not only in the Capitalist West, but also right here in the East.)
Of course we shall not attempt to apologize for Christianity, nor will we deny that quite often,
many Christians go along with the powers that perpetuate social inequity and misfortune.
But the Christian faith is not responsible for this stance of so-called Christians, and of course
neither is Christ. We shall try to clarify this below. But here we must make a necessary
clarification: When we say Christianity, we mean the Body of Christ; His Church, which is not
only the clergy, but also everyone loyal to Christ and united with Him and with each other in
the bond of love. The Church in the world is essentially comprised of the Saints (Apostles,
martyrs, ascetics, confessors) and all those who strive to become Saints, that is, to remain
adamantly faithful to Christ, to His Truth, His Orthodoxy. The Saints never betray: neither
Christ nor man. Nor are they indifferent to a mans material problems. For the Saints, in the
society-communion of the Saints there is no social problem; being Orthodoxy, it has also
provided a permanent solution to the social problem, inasmuch as it offers communion, within
which the social problem becomes nonexistent.

2. The social problem: an Orthodox perspective

The social problem is essentially an economic one. It is created by mans stance in relation to
material goods, the means of satisfying his worldly needs. In this context, we could outline
these, in two basic groups: natural goods, that is, whatever exists in nature (the entire material
creation); and economic goods, the products of mans labour.

Orthodoxy portrays man at the beginning of History as being in Paradise, in communion with
God, which secured a harmonious co-existence (society) with his fellow-man also. The
Paradisiac mode of existence consisted in the correct functioning of mans crucifixional relation
towards God on the one hand, and towards his fellow-man and all of creation on the other. The
continuous presence of God in man, in mans heart which has been freed of passions, is the
unceasing remembrance of God, about which our Fathers have spoken. It guaranteed a
genuine communion between God and man, which was lost with the Fall. The heart the
center of the human being is the place where communion of God and man occurs. It is in the
heart that the nous, i.e. the faculty of the soul functions; this is something that is not related
with the intellect. The nous performs the hearts praying function the noetic faculty (cf. noetic
prayer), which consists of activating the nous within the heart. The spiritual functioning of the
heart ensures the genuineness of ones crucifixional relationship.
The inertia of the noetic faculty (not of reason) is the essence of mans Fall. The non-functioning
or suboptimal functioning of ones noetic faculty and its confusion with the function of the
brain makes him a slave to anxiety and to his environment, to physicality and materiality. Thus,
he worships creation instead of the Creator, the immediate result being the dissolution of the
genuineness of his relationships: he becomes an individual and non-social; he deifies himself; he
idolizes himself; he uses God and his fellow men to secure his personal safety and happiness.
Atheism, paganism, idolatry and even natural religion are but a psychological projection of
fallen mans need for security. They are merely forms of utilitarianism, which strives to
neutralize existential fears and anxieties. And what we call culture in all its facets (religion,
art, philosophy, science, law) is really just mans attempt to transcend his fallen state and thus
be saved. We, however, carry our existence under the conditions created by the Fall.
Along with sin, selfishness, self-interest also entered our life; those accursed words, mine and
yours, said St. John the Chrysostom, the most social of our Saints.
The social problem appeared in History from the moment that man took a stance in relation to
material goods; from the minute that he ceased to gaze upon his Maker and Triune God with all
his being, and turned his eyes and attention to creation - to the world - and became attached to
matter, believing that his salvation depended on it. Mans withdrawal from God subjugated
him to matter. Thus, the prevalent stance of man, who lives in the godlessness of his own
autonomy, is his aspiration to acquire as many material things as he can, no longer depending
his salvation and security on God, but on creation around him.
Within this tragic alienation, the other our fellow man- truly becomes our hell; which is in
fact the central message of modern atheistic philosophy. In our egotistical greed, either we
couldnt care less about our fellow mans existence, or, we view him as an obstacle that stands
in the way of the satisfaction of our insatiability, and we seek to take his portion from the world
too, by annihilating him, and to be, if possible, the only one left in creation, so that we might
enjoy it alone! It is this tendency that Christ describes in the parable of the foolish rich man
(Luke 12: 16-21). The viewing of material goods as individual property is the root of the social

problem, of the economic and social inequality that is prevalent in the world. The civilization
that we are living in is that of the fallen state, although, on the surface, it may appear to be
influenced by the spirit of the Gospel. That is why we live in a society that differs little (if at
all!) from a jungle, since one man turns against the other and one nation (group of men) against
the other, and we never stop struggling to devour one another, in every aspect of life.

3. An Orthodox perspective of commodities

The man who is regenerated in Christ, having become a temple of God through the dwelling
of the Holy Spirit within him, has the mind of Christ (1 Cor. 2:16) and hence he sees he world,
not with the eyes of fallen man, but in a Holy-Spiritual manner; with eyes that have received
the change that is by God, through the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit-bearing
and God-bearing man, the Saint, acquires a new consciousness about himself and the world.
(a) According to the way of thinking that befits the man who is regenerated in Christ,
everything that exists in the world - in all of creation - belongs to God its Maker, Who is also its
absolute Master. The triune God made the created world out of nothing. Whatever exists
around us (except for evil, i.e. sin), is His. Its only natural owner, the only one who has a right
to that title, is the triune God. His are heaven and earth; both the spiritual and the material.
The earth is the Lords, and the fullness thereof (Ps.24:1; 1Cor. 10:26). Thus, in the Christian
vocabulary, there is no concept of ownership, at least not in the way that we normally use this
word. And if we accept this reality, we cannot refer to our property either; or to something
that is our own. No man can claim that in this world something actually belongs to him;
because, after all, we have all come into this world naked, and naked we shall leave it (Job 1:21).
St. Basil the Great, one of our greatest fathers, who examined the social problem in great depth,
in his superb homilies on the subject, says in one of his works: What we are, is soul and nous
(i.e. the spiritual element of our nature), for we were made in the image of our Creator. That
which is our own, is our body and its senses. Everything else is whatever is around us; i.e.,
trades, objects, and the rest of lifes wares (From Attend to yourself, 3). True, neither our
body nor our spirit is essentially ours, for these too are the work of the triune God. In any event,
if we do assume says St. Basil- that something is ours, it is our body. For with that alone do we
enter the world. Everything else is outside of us and foreign to us. It is around us; it is our
surroundings. So, how can we call it our own?
So, we conclude that whatever one might possess or acquire in this world, is not is own. He
possesses it, as something that does not truly belong to him, as everything belongs to God. But
God, in His infinite love for the world, willed that man become a steward of His creations.
He assigned to man the allotment and the utilization of His creations. Man thus became a
steward within Gods vast property; he became its humble administrator.

b) But again, God did not grant the use of His goods to just one or to a few, but to all of
humanity. This is clear enough from Gen.1:27f. We see there that God blessed the first human
couple, i.e., all of mankind, and He blessed them so to speak- to fill the earth and become its
lords; and He entrusted all of material creation to them.
All of us human beings are born equal to each other, with equal rights in relation to the world
and its goods. The miscellaneous discriminations in our life (racial, class, social, economic, etc.)
were not made by God; they are the fruits of the Fall of our sin. Ever since the Fall, one man
has been fighting against the other and subjugating him. God made from one blood every
nation of men (Acts 17:26). Orthodoxy is -by its very nature- anti-feudalistic, if we consider
feudalism to be the promoting of inherited rights of authority, and the division of people into
nobles and vassals, supposedly according to their nature. However, no-one was born to
rule, and no-one was born to be a slave; but rather, each person is born to serve and to minister
to the other, and all together to be peers and brothers. Neither despotism (i.e. the
absolutization of an individual and imposing him on the others), nor the massing (i.e. the
oppression and stifling of ones personality) have any place in Christianity. Christianity
acknowledges only a society of peers, of equal persons.
c) When God gave Paradise to humanity (to the first human couple), He also gave them the
commandment to till it and preserve it (Gen.2:15). This means that toiling is the only just
method that is recognized by God for acquiring the commodities needed for the preservation
and security of our lives. Thus, in order for our things to be justly and Christianly
acknowledged, we must acquire them justly; and this happens, only when we toil with our
own hands, as St. Paul said (1 Cor. 4:2). To exemplify this, St. Paul himself, even though he
was a leading Apostle and continually on the go, he was never a burden on anyone, but would
respond to his critics: these hands ministered to my needs, and to those who were with me.
(Acts 20:34) The same St. Paul gave the Church and the world that well-know fundamental
principle, which is in force as an inviolable law within the Christian community: If anyone will
not work, let him not eat! (2 Thess.3:10) Whoever does not want to work, does not have the
right (to want) to eat! Special attention, however, must be given here, so that the word of God is
not perceived as whoever does not work as we usually say (and this is how it had passed into
the Soviet texts as a moral principle); but if anyone WILL NOT work, (i.e., whoever does NOT
WANT to work). One can easily understand the difference.
We conclude, then, that unless the commodities necessary for life are obtained in accordance
with Gods will, they will never find justification in Orthodoxy. On this point, the Holy Fathers
are categorical. They speak of avarice, injustice, grabbing etc..
We will take a sampling from classical Christian texts. The most powerful text after the Old
Testament prophetic literature that was ever written about social injustice is Chapter 5 of the
Epistle of James, the Brother of the Lord and first Bishop of Jerusalem:

Come now, you wealthy ones; weep and wail for the miseries that are coming upon you. Your
riches have rotted and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver have rusted, and
their rust will be evidence against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up
treasure for the last days. Behold: the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields - which you
witheld by fraud - cry out; and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of
Hosts. You have lived on earth in luxury and in pleasure; you have fattened your hearts for a
day of slaughter. You have condemned, you have killed the righteous man; he cannot resist
you. This text alone is sufficient to prove the error of those who criticize Christianity, that it
supposedly does not take a position on the social problem. However, it also indicates the sad
state of the Christians who had become a rearguard in society. Nevertheless, Christianity has
been preserved, as we said, in the persons of the Saints of every age. It is the Christianity of the
holy Fathers, like St. John the Chrysostom who, in the late 4th century confronted the wealthy
Christians who were oppressing the poor: If one examines how the landowners treat the
miserable and wretched farmers, he will ascertain that they are more vicious than the very
barbarians themselves.. With the sweat and labor of the poor, the wealthy fill their
warehouses and wine vats.and to the farmers they toss a meager sum as payment. Every so
often, (the wealthy Christians) invent new ways of charging interest, a thing as yet unknown
even to the pagans. And all this, at the expense of men, who have to support wife and children,
and who produce everything with the sweat of their brow! But the wealthy do not take any of
this into consideration! (PG 58, 591-2) John the Chrysostom didnt need to become Marxist,
in order to speak about social justice back then. And we do not need to do something like that
now either. It is enough to preserve a genuine Christian identity like Chrysostom did, in order
to preserve the genuineness of our existence in society as well. What we need, is to be firmly
rooted in our Orthodox tradition.
d) There is however a danger, when examining the viewpoint regarding material goods, which
is difficult to discern and therefore very serious. It is not difficult for the Christian to accept that
creation is not our own, but that it belongs to God the Creator. The issue becomes much more
difficult, however, with the viewpoint regarding economic commodities, that is, those things
that we produce with our own labour. This is where most misunderstandings are found, even
among Christians; misunderstandings that lead to a regular social heresy:
Given that we produce economic commodities with our own hands, or in our factories, we have
come to consider them our own. If this belief prevails, it automatically leads to an error that can
lead to all manner of exploitation and injustice. Because it is not difficult for one who amasses
most of the qualities (abilities) or finds himself in a more advantageous position than the others,
to fall victim to a thirst for profit, and, having become dominated by the sinfulness of his nature,
to take nothing into account in order to acquire even greater profits. It is not at all curious, that
the prominent personages of capitalism sprung from within religious circles in the West, where
precisely this mentality was being preached, i.e., the individuals freedom to profit - to acquire
goods on the basis of his abilities - and consequently, to employ any means whatsoever towards
this end. There is no wealth, and indeed in the modern sense, that has been acquired without

Again we shall call on the testimony of St. Jon the Chrysostom: No, it is not in any way
possible to become rich without injustice. When the case of inherited wealth is brought up,
the holy Father responds: Will anyone disagree that one has become rich by unjust means, if he
inherits his fathers fortune? He has inherited the fruits of injustice! For his father certainly was
not rich from the time of Adam. Indeed, it is only natural for us to presume that many ancestors
existed before him, and that one of them had plundered the goods of others and profited
(PG 62, 561-2).
The idea that economic commodities belong to the one who produces them arises from the
false notion that intellectual or physical abilities are our own, and hence whatever we
produce is our own as well. But when Orthodoxically speaking- we say that nothing is ours
that we have nothing that is our own we are referring to our natural abilities also.
Essentially, nothing is our own, since we were created out of nothing, from non-being, and
we exist by Grace. Our whole existence depends on the love of the triune God. And the very
immortality of the soul, which substantially and decisively differentiates man from animals, is
not of our nature; it was given to us by the Triune God as a gift (Gen. 2:7). Likewise the spirit,
the mind, brains, the powers of the body and soul, are gifts from God. They are talents that we
are called to develop, as God says. We are required to transform them into service for our
fellow man, so that they become a means of salvation, not of destruction and death. Indeed,
whoever has more, ought to offer more. This is the rule of Christian life, which applies to both
material and spiritual gifts alike. (cf. Matth. 25:15 ff).
e) Thus, not even the goods that we earn or produce with our labour belong to us. Their lord
and owner is God, to Whom we belong entirely. We are simply managers, stewards. They do
not belong to us. They belong to whoever has need of them. Our responsibility and at the
same time honor is to administer them in the best and so to speak- in the godliest manner.
This is why St. Paul says: God loves a cheerful giver (2 Cor. 9:7); that is, the person who
distributes with generosity and joy, without sorrow. There is no greater joy for the Christian
than to offer all the spiritual and material goods at his disposal to others who have need of
them. The epitome of this virtue is monastic poverty. In Orthodox monasticism, one attains
such a degree of freedom, that he keeps nothing for himself. It is then, that he offers himself
entirely to God, and is saved. St. Basil accuses as thieves those who keep their excess profits
(over value); for, he says, what we store in our warehouse belongs to those who lack it (PG
31, 277). And Gregory the Theologian will say: Shame on you, who keep what belongs to
others! You ought to imitate Gods impartiality! (PG 35, 889) And even when we give alms
when we do charity- we ought to be aware that we give nothing of our own. We merely hand
out those commodities that God entrusted to us. We give love, from Gods mercy and love. An
example of this is what Luke relates in Acts 3:2f.: The Apostles Peter and John were going to the
Temple. A lame beggar as usual asked them for alms. But the Apostles had no money to give
him. I have no silver or gold, but I give you what I do have. And what did he give him? The
Grace of Christ. In the name of Christ, he cured him We put this truth into effect, each time
we celebrate the holy Eucharist. We lift up the bread and wine, our Eucharist gifts - which are
not ours, but Gods gifts to us. We offer them to our Great Benefactor God, and we say to

Him: Thine own of Thine own, do we offer unto Thee. They are Yours, and to You do we
offer them! Not because God needs them, but so that He might transform matter in the Spirit:
from perishable into imperishable, from death into life. The Eucharistic use of matter
transforms matter into uncreated Grace.
f) In conclusion, on this issue there is a Christian rule which leaves no room for any
misinterpretation concerning the commodities that we have in our possession, when justified
Christianically. They must be acquired and utilized in accordance with Gods will; that is, in an
honorable and just manner. Whatever comes from exploitation and injustice or deceit of any
kind cannot be considered worthy in the Christian sense. But even if we have honorably
acquired certain commodities, they are only blessed when utilized according to Gods will; that
is, not to nurture our own selfishness, but to cater to the needs of our fellow man. This is why
God reproached the foolish rich man (Luke 12:20), who had regarded all his wealth - albeit
honorably and justly acquired - as being his own.
The ramifications of what we said above appear vividly in our Churchs tradition. Whoever
moves in the sphere of patristic ideals, knows that Orthodoxy is revolutionary by nature and
incompatible with injustice and oppression. Indeed, it presents a way of life antipodal to the
capitalist, urban environment within which we have learned to play the Christians, who
perhaps even do good deeds with what was unjustly amassed. [Note: St. Neilos the Ascetic
says about this: Merciful is not he who shows mercy to many, but he who cheats no-one. The
two coins offered by the widow in Mark 12:43 are worth more than alms that have come from
unrighteous mammon (Luke 16:9). But this Orthodox position has its ramifications.]

4. Everything in common!
It is absolutely certain that it will be difficult for the man in our society to believe that this
pronouncement is absolutely Christian and Orthodox! Ignorance of our faith due to the absence
of any experience of the Christian society which has been confined to the monasteries, and
even then, not to all of them has weakened our criteria and our reflexes to such a hopeless
degree that we are no longer able to discern what is ours from what is foreign; what is of
the Church, from what is not; the truth from falsehood. And yet the above saying is a genuine
confession of the Church, which was transformed into action over the course of History. It is the
fruit of the very life of the Saints; for Orthodoxy is not limited to mottoes alone. Its word is
always based on practice. I hate words that life contradicts, says St. Gregory the Theologian.
The life of the deified of those truly faithful to Christs word becomes the Churchs
perpetual message, but also Her hymn and doxology, as we experience them in our worship.
Behold what we read in one of the earliest Christian texts, written at the beginning of the second
century; the Didache (=teaching) of the Apostles so named, not because it was written by
the Apostles, but because it expressed the Apostolic spirit, the Apostolic teaching: Never turn
away the needy, SHARE ALL your possessions with your brother (fellow-man), and do not

claim that anything (you have) is your own. If you and he are joint participants in things
immortal, how much more so, in things that are mortal? (4,8)
The Didache takes us back to the life of the Christians at the end of the first century; however,
this message - as a determining principle of the Christian ethos - is much older. Already in the
Acts of the Apostles, Luke the Evangelist, when describing the life of the first Christian
community in Jerusalem, informs us that all who believed were together and had ALL
THINGS IN COMMON. (Acts 2:44). And further down he says again: Now the company of
those who believed were of one heart and soul and no-one said that any of the things which he
possessed was his own (=personal property), but they had EVERYTHING IN COMMON.(Acts
It is thus clear that the first Christian society was founded on the principle of common
ownership of goods and property, which is one reason why people looked upon the Church
with amazement, because of the love and fraternity that marked Christian life. This is the true
(authentic) Christian, social co-existence that is preached by our holy fathers as being the
genuine way of Christian living in the world.
But how was this message lived and practiced by the Christians? Does this social principle of
the Church have anything in common with known social theories? No, of course not. This
demand of the Church hides no proletarian conscience. It is not simply a slogan, or some law
that must be enforced. On the contrary, it is the natural offspring of ones communion with
Gods Grace, which enables him to show this love to his fellow men, his brothers. Outside of
Christs Body, His Grace, and His Sacraments, it is impossible to apply it; and wherever it is
heard as a solely social demand, without the Churchs Holy-Spiritual presuppositions, it will
remain mere talk empty and inert.
The message of Acts and the Didache is as follows: At some point in time, rich and poor
become Christians. They come together, in the new society of Grace, in the Lords body, and
they continuously receive uncreated Grace, so that over time, they are able to defeat the
constraint of Time, death and corruption. Gods Grace is a spiritual shower that unceasingly
irrigates everyone and everything, without discrimination and exception (Matth. 5:45) From
the moment of Baptism, we all men, women, famous and obscure become equals in the face
of the salvation that is granted by the Triune God (Gal. 3:28). The Holy Spirit distributes His
gifts to all, according to the receptiveness of each, without exception (1 Cor.12). Within the
Body of Christ, we all become brethren to each other. The power that joins us all together, in the
one, unbroken communal unity, is the Grace of God which is expressed in our life as Love.
However, within the family of the Church we do not have the right to misappropriate the
spiritual gifts and regard them as our own. In fact, if we do not activate this immediately - by
transforming them into ministering to our brethren - we are burying our gift (the talent
Matthew 25, 25). It would be like refusing divine Grace.

Whatever is done with the use of spiritual commodities must also be done with material
commodities, which we likewise do not have the right to misappropriate, and regard them as
belonging to us, because they too are gifts of Gods love provided of course that we have
acquired them in accordance to His will. Thus, a Christian will not seize anothers material
property, just as he will never consider seizing his spiritual property. But, regardless whose
hands that property is in whether material or spiritual it is still COMMON. Without
continuously changing proprietor, it belongs to everyone, because in the hour of a brothers
(spiritual or material) need, it will become his also, so that his needs may also be served. This is
where the freedom of those who have truly been reborn in the Church can be found a freedom
that culminates in the status of monasticisms abandonment of all personal properties, along
with its willed poverty. In fact, if willed poverty is not a precedent act, communal property
cannot be accomplished. From the moment that one dissociates himself from his possessions,
he becomes truly free; and, from that moment, those possessions essentially remain without a
proprietor and become common to all. The willed resignation from every kind of demand
pertaining to any kind of commodity is the most basic prerequisite for the Eucharist-style
utilization of the world-Creation, within the practice of love and brotherhood.
The manner in which the first Church became an ecclesiastic tradition can be discerned when
studying the holy Fathers, for example, the blessed Chrysostom: because we have received
everything from Christ; even that very existence of ours, and our breath, and the light, and the
air. And if He were to deprive us of even one of these commodities, we would immediately be
lost and destroyed. In other words, we are merely strangers and passers-by on this earth. As for
the terms that we tend to use, such as mine and yours, these are mere words, which do not
correspond to reality; quite simply because, if you were to assert that your house is your
house, your statement would be a mere expression, because both the air and the earth (=the
plot of land) and the other materials are the Creators even you the builder, and all the rest.
And if its use belongs to you, yet even that is doubtful, not only because of death, but even
before, it is because of the instability in general of the conditions of terrestrial life If your soul
isnt truly yours, how can money be yours? Thus, therefore, if that too (money) is not ours,
but it belongs to God, we should be spending it for the sake of our fellow-man. Do not
therefore ever insist that I am spending my money, and I am entertaining myself with my
fortune. You are not entertaining yourself with your fortune, but with commodities that
belong to others They (commodities) become truly yours, if you spend them for the sake of
others. But if you spend them lavishly on yourself, then yours will become anothers. But if
you regard them as common, then they will be both yours and your fellow-mans, exactly as the
sun is, and the air, and the earth, and all the other natural commodities (.. 61, 86-87)
Thus we can see why Orthodoxy does not need any social revolution to bring about justice.
Because the revolution takes place in the hearts of the Saints and is called purification of the
heart from ones passions, so that the heart might attain (selfless) love and righteousness. This
is Orthodoxys revolution in the world. But it is accomplished throughout the course of
History, only by those who accept Christ in all His fullness, as the physician of our souls and
bodies, Who does not kill and destroy (John 10:10) like the rulers of the world do, but heals

our souls and bodies, and leads us to an inner health (a theoretic mindset) and an external
health (a loving society).

5. The solution: the Church

The sociopolitical systems of every era promise solutions to the social problem, as long as these
agree with their own principles. This is also true of the two major sociopolitical systems of our
own time: urbanism and Marxism. Just like other people, Christians too (Orthodox included)
fall victim to the deceptive promises of these systems and they look to them for their social
redemption. But the question is: Can a Christian reconcile himself to any human system, and
indeed identify himself with it? The answer, naturally, is No. The systems of the world are
ideological constructs, human creations that embody the inner world of their creators. At best,
they cannot be but imperfect formations with all the weaknesses of fallen man, his passions and
his deficiencies. The Christian knows that the solution salvation- even in the social sphere, has
been provided by Christ, and indeed within His Body, the Church. He also knows that it is
laxness on the part of Christians that drives people to the sociopolitical systems of the world.
With His Incarnation, Christ did not simply bring to the world a new religion or cult but a new
life, a new manner of existence. Christs solution for the human drama was not limited to a
sublime doctrine, or to providing answers for mankinds problems. Christ called us to join a
new society- the society of His Body, His Church. The purpose of the Church as the Body of
Christ was to embrace in Her bosom ALL of humanity; to make the whole world His Church.
A persons salvation, and that of humanity as a whole, is possible only within the Church.
What Christ offers, then, as a solution to the social drama of human society is not a social
system, not even formal commandments and directions, but His own society; a society that is
not related to the rest of society of human social systems, because Christs Society is not only
material but spiritual too; not only earthly but heavenly as well. It is not solely human, but
Theanthropic. It is not trapped in the present, within this world, but also extends into eternity.
It does not have only earthly and limited aims but eternal and immortal ones. Its aim is not
merely to guarantee social justice (assuming that the human systems are incapable of doing
this); but rather, in the Church, social justice is one of the means by which we as human beings
and as society may be able to live in Gods love, both in this life and in eternity, and ultimately
to become participants in the eternal rule (or kingdom, if you will), in eternal salvation - which
is an eternal society (i.e. communion) with God - that goes from glory to glory in an
interminable eternal advance. It is really amazing how, from communion with God (i.e., the
indwelling of he Holy Spirit in the heart) one progresses to communion with his brothers, his
fellow men; and how, from loving communion with his fellow men he proceeds to eternal
communion with God. (This is the meaning of the parable of the Judgment - Matth. 25:31)
But social justice did not remain just an ideal for the Church. It was incarnated into a specific
way of life, with absolute consistency. This is displayed by the first organized Church

community in Jerusalem. Aside from the various interpretations given to the organization of the
first Apostolic community that belong to a broad spectrum of theological presuppositions, we
will approach that first organized ecclesiastical society with the guidance of the God-bearing
Fathers who saw things from the point of view of their experiences of the vision of God.
Immediately following the Pentecost, and with the communal lifestyle of Christ and His
disciples as a precedent, the Church appeared in the world as a new society, as a world within
the world; a new social dimension within the rest of historical society. Just as Noahs Ark
(Genesis 7), which was a pre-portrayal of the Church, traveled across the world and did not
sink together with it, so too the Church, as the Ark of Salvation, travels along the flood of sin
and injustice, and yet does not identify with it. Christ replaced the former fallen society with
His own society, which continually embraces and saves the world. Just as Christ is the ALLTRUTH and saves all things, so also His body, the Church, being the fullness of Truth, saves allinclusively the whole of life, transforming and sanctifying all social structures, in all their
breadth and depth, by the regenerative power of the Holy Spirit.
The social character of the Church is first of all revealed in the very names used to indicate Her
nature: body, new creation, (new) Israel, holy nation, realm of God, city of God, world
within the world, community of believers (cf. Acts 2:42), etc., etc. The names for the Churchs
clergy also have a societal ring to them: Episkopos: bishop, supervisor; Presbyter: elder;
Diakonos: deacon; Cleros: clergy. Although the Apostles and holy fathers attribute an
ecclesiastical context to these terms, so as to relieve them of the meanings that they had in the
vernacular of the Hellenic city-state, nevertheless, when using them, they expressed the societal
reality of the Lords body as a Theanthropic and worldly organization composed of members
who live in this world. In the words of professor M. Siotes: The theocratic aspect of the
Hellenic city-state serves as a model for the Church of Christ as far as Her worldly and human
character are concerned, whereas the kahal (of) Yahweh serves as the Churchs model in
regard to Her divine character.
The Churchs societal organization appears together with the institution of common
ownership of property (Acts 2:42, 44-47, 4:23-37; 5:1f, 6:1f). And what else is this - if not a
political measure in the Aristotelian sense of the term - except the organizing of common
commodities in the service of love? What is significant here, however, is that the Church
Herself, using Her own abilities, assumes the task of solving a specific social problem, even if
influenced by models outside the Church (eg., Qumran, Roman Collegia). Besides, this was the
Churchs job: to take the world unto herself and to transfigure and sanctify it in Christ. The
Apostolic Synod (49 A.D.) will in fact establish the institution of collections, that is, the
collecting of economic aid by the faithful of one community for the sake of the poorer members
of another (Gal. 2:20; 1 Cor.16:2f; 2 Cor.9:1f). The purpose of organizing the lives of the faithful
along these lines is articulated by St. Paul, when he wrote to the Corinthians that the abundance
of the one group should supply the shortage of the others, so that there might be equality (2
Cor. 8:13-14). And with the spread of the institution of common ownership to the other
communities as well (1 Cor.11:17 ff), and the institution of the collections, a de facto inter-

community unity among the Christians was created, such that the entire Church, the world
over, would appear as a single commonwealth in Christ; a single worldwide community and
society in Christ, not only of a shared faith, but also of a common way of life that manifests itself
as love (and charity).
So, the Church did not confine Herself to a discarnate spirituality, but She joined together the
spiritual life (ascesis, sacraments, Holy-Spiritual illumination) and social-mundane care, and
made them inseparable. The Churchs organization on societal lines exhibits her as a
systematically organized whole, clearly distinguishable from the world around her. The
Church did not mix with the world or identify with it. She remained and in the persons of her
Saints still remains - a self-sufficient society in Christ, not identified with the powers and the
groups of the world, but possessing her own Holy-Spiritual way of living, conscious of her
uniqueness as a society and of her exclusiveness in offering salvation to the individual and to

6. The service of the Seven

The Churchs care for society was fully interwoven with the spiritual growth of her
members. After all, the Churchs offer of salvation on the spiritual as well as the materialmundane level was manifested as service. The entire redemptive work of Christ and the
Church is one, multi-faceted service. Professor G. Galitis writes that ecclesiastically speaking,
we cannot discriminate between spiritual and material service. It is basically the same act, i.e.,
taking care of needs: spiritual needs on the one hand, that deal with the salvation of the soul,
and material needs on the other hand; ones that deal with the body. Hence they can be
classified under the same name of service.
The pastoral care of the people of God is thus manifested within the Church as the ministry of
the word, prayer and serving tables (Acts 6:4). The term serving tables stands for the
entire range of the Churchs social work. The Apostles, responsible as they were for the life of
the whole body, placed daily (continuous, incessant) table service, right next to the performing
of the sacraments and preaching. This was a purely mundane and simultaneously civic task
that encompassed the churchs overall service to society. This was in agreement with the will of
Christ, the Head of the Church, Who united divine and human natures within His very
Person, therefore, there was no way that He would allow them to be segregated within His
social Body the Church.
Not only, then, did the Apostles not reject or demote the serving of tables, but on the contrary,
with a God-inspired delegating of services, they kept for themselves the spiritual-pastoral
works and assigned the Churchs worldly chores to others. The more necessary of what is
necessary takes precedence, Saint John the Chrysostom had said. But this action on the part of
the Apostles was an affirmation of the believers overall life needs and an attempt to deal with
and resolve the social problem of the first Christian community.

Thus emerged the seven as Luke called them (Acts 6) in the life of the Church. At first
they were not called diakonos (deacon), because every spiritual activity implemented in the
Churchs body was called a diakonia (ministry, service). When, later, the term deacon was
confined to the first degree of holy orders, confusion arose as to the function of the seven.
Thus, the Synod of Neo-Caesarea (4th century) declared the seven to be liturgical deacons. St.
John the Chrysostom, on the other hand, provided the true meaning, after first clarifying the
obvious confusion concerning the true context of the ecclesiastic titles: Joint bishops and
deacons. What was this? Were there several bishops for the same city? No, of course not;
that was what they called presbyter. This was because at that time, they shared the same title;
even the bishop was called diakonos and the presbyters also used to be addressed as
bishops and deacons (ministers) of Christ, and bishops were similarly addressed as presbyters.
(PG 62, 183). He also defined the tasks of the seven: We need to know which office they
held, and what ordination they had received. Was it that of a deacon? But in fact, this office did
not exist in the Church as yet, however the stewardship belonged to the presbyters.
Furthermore, no-one was a bishop yet, but there were only the Apostles. Hence the title of
deacon or presbyter is neither known nor evident, as far as I can tell. In other words, they
were not deacons or presbyters in the sense of the subsequent use of these terms, but a kind of
overseer (episkopos) for managing the Churchs material affairs. And this will survive later
in the institution of the office of economos, i.e. a steward in the monasteries and in the
dioceses, which are Orthodoxically regarded as monasteries within the world. This same
position was held in the 12th century also, by another great commentator of our Church,
Ecumenios, Bishop of Trikke: They ordained those who were elected as deacons, not in the
sense of the ones now officiating in the churches, but for distributing the meals to orphans and
widows meticulously and not heedlessly.
It is, however, of the utmost importance that this civil service in the Church body, which has
been systematically overlooked - mainly from the time the Church entrusted it into the hands of
the State - was accredited for all time to divine inspiration during the 5th Ecumenical Synod
(692). This Synod in its Canon 16 affirms the Chrysostoms interpretation as being that of a
deified Father. The Synodic Fathers say: In the course of fittingly harmonizing the ideas of the
Fathers with the Apostolic saying, we discovered that their words in this connection did not
pertain to the men serving as ministers to the sacraments, but to those who ministered to the
needs of the tables and then, after quoting the passage from Acts and St. John the
Chrysostoms interpretation, they conclude: Resting upon these words, therefore, we too
proclaim that as regards the aforesaid seven Deacons, they were not selected to minister to the
sacraments.. but on the contrary, they were selected to serve the common need of the
Christians then gathered together; and that they continue to be an example to us of
philanthropy and diligence in regard to the needy.
The Ecumenical Synod comes along to confirm the true that is, the sociopolitical function of
the seven deacons. In fact, if one compares the term used to denote their service (ministry ) with the title minister for the civil servant in the sociopolitical dimension of life, he
will draw many important, practical conclusions. This ministry did not disappear from the

Church; (see Phil. 1:1, 1 Tim. 3;8-12, etc.) The institution underwent various transitions, until it
appeared in the term Bishop (), overseer of external affairs (Eusebius of Caesarea),
and was applied to the now Christian Emperor, who together with the entire civil structure of
the State assumed as a function of the State now- the sociopolitical service of the same people
that the Clergy (the priesthood) pastors provided, spiritually. But what is more interesting
here is the spirit of the Apostles action. Having being enlightened by the Holy Spirit, they
dictated that the material as well as the spiritual problems of the people of God should be in the
hands of Spirit-bearing persons, who would solve them in a manner indicated by the Holy
Spirit, and not by depending on other powers.
The first Church did not only offer a model for the organization of society, but also an example
for political philosophy. This is evident in the Apostles action. They did not define the
persons, but only the qualifications required of them (Acts 6:3). The selection was made by the
people themselves. They leave the selection in the hands of the very people who will benefit
from the leadership of those selected, says Saint Ecumenios of Trikke (6th century). The seven
were elected by those who would be the recipients of their service-ministry. And thus, through
the Holy Spirit, the only authentic manner of naming civil ministers or civil leaders of any kind
was established: election by the people, by the members.
Hence the Church moulded a specific social reality, which is vividly portrayed in the Book of
Acts and in the New Testament in general. And the life in the community of Jerusalem is,
according to all the Fathers, the authentic expression of the ethos of the Orthodox Church
within History. It provides the measure and the dimensions for Christian living, for Orthodox
society, as a society of theosis and the sanctification of life as a whole. The purpose of the
Incarnation - which was to churchify every aspect of life, both spiritual and social is vividly
apparent in the Acts of the Apostles and in the Patristic Tradition, which is itself genuinely
Apostolic. The ensuing, essentially Protestant, understanding that the Christian can move
between two kingdoms (Christs and Caesars) - an idea which in modern times has also
seeped into our lives brought about the separation of religion and society, faith and morality,
and has estranged us from our ecclesiastical roots.

7. Does the Church offer a social system?

The question is worded like this: Since Christianity (Orthodoxy) offers its own society to the
world, does it also provide a sociopolitical system? Is there a particular Christian system?
It needs to be made clear that Orthodoxy is neither a system, nor can it ever be imprisoned in
the airtight container of any system. Orthodoxy is Gods life in the world, which entered
history in the Person of the Logos of God, the Lord Jesus Christ. The life of Orthodoxy is
therefore a life in the Spirit, a life of freedom and Grace. The concept of a system is a scholastic
one, and it proves how deeply the scholastic influence has affected our theology and life during
the last centuries. That is why, during these past few years, there is a major, hope-filled effort to

rid our theology and life of scholastic and Western influences. It is however beyond all
objection or doubt that regeneration in Christ requires a Christification of life in all its
dimensions, so that our life might become a Christ-life. This is also the meaning of Pauls words:
Thus, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it for the glory of God. (1 Cor. 10:31).
Therefore the Christian cannot on one hand be nourished spiritually by Christ (in His faith and
worship life) while on the other hand, expect salvation on the social level from the powers of
the world, and many times indeed unconsciously become their lackey. How can an Orthodox
Christian confess in his worship One is Holy, One is Lord, Jesus Christ and then in his
sociopolitical life compromise and even identify with the systems of the world? Truly the
greatest tragedy of modern Greek society is that we pass our faith through the filters of the
political parties. The same can be said for us, that the Venetians had declared during the years
of their empire: Primo Veneziani, e poi Christiani (first Venetians, then Christians)!! First
whatever else, and after that, Orthodox! But Orthodoxy as we said requires our WHOLE life.
Let us appose ourselves and each other and ALL our life unto Christ our God.
Hence it is not curious that the Apostles organized the Church spiritually and socially according
to Christs revelation. The first Church of Jerusalem appeared in a pagan and Roman
environment. That is, in an environment that constituted a secular society, foreign to the will of
God, governed and regulated by laws and rules of living by a system- that man had made,
without Christ. The first Church had developed her own way of living, her own way of existing
in the world, described vividly and clearly in Acts (see 2:43f, 4:32f)
The deacon Stephen will be accused of attempting to transfuse this new social structure of the
Church to his fellow Jews. The accusation was that he wanted to change their customs
(model of societal life) which, as they claimed, Moses had given them (Acts 6:14)
The first Church left no written system. But She gave to the world the way of life of the
Christians. The spirit of the Apostles is what interests us: their wish, which was that even the
sociopolitical life of the believers becomes the life of Christ. The Apostles, guided by the
enlightenment of the Holy Spirit, marked the framework of the believers societal life. On what
did they base it? What else but on the word of Christ! Hadnt He given the Sermon on the
Mount? Wasnt this sermon a revelation of the Churchs ethos, of the Christian way of life?
Christs Truth provided the conditions for the churchification of sociopolitical life as well.
Christ did not give a system; only Grace and Truth which are capable of organizing societal
life also, according to the manner of Christ; so that even in the civic and social aspect of our life,
we might remain Christs and not become servants of men.
But then, isnt this how the rest of the life of the Church was shaped over the centuries? Take
worship for example; it is an essential element of Christian life. From the first rudimentary
hymns and the simple forms of the Apostolic era, after a long process, the church ended up
with Her subsequent magnificent liturgy. Was this evolution contrary to the Apostolic spirit?
The variety of later forms did not alter the essence of Apostolic worship but enriched it and

modified it, to meet the later needs of the Christians. But then, werent the dogmas and holy
canons also formulated over a period of centuries? Can anyone Orthodox argue that these are
not in keeping with the faith of the Apostles? The Church throughout all the centuries
remained Apostolic, because She is the continuation of the life, the spirit and the will of the
Apostles. Better yet, she is the continuation of Christ. She perpetuates His presence in the
The same can therefore hold for the social-civic dimension of the life of Orthodox membership.
There is no system of Christian politics, Christian economy, Christian sociability or ethics. But
as a society of Saints, that is, in the persons of Her Saints who are deified, the Church
possesses the truth of Christ. Hence it is possible to exercise Christian politics, to implement a
Christian economy, to organize a Christian society. The agents of Christs truth can produce
Christian laws and they can secure a Christian education and Christian economic relations.
Besides, the Churchs holy canons which were written with the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit
do not only deal with worship or Church administration. They clearly possess a sociopolitical
character, and they also deal with social issues: the family, education, labor, public life. Thus,
they condemn the policy of the world: stealing, deception, injustice and exploitation, high
interest rates, base profits, and so many other social ills. Our Churchs existing social canons
alone are sufficient to mark the framework of sociopolitical life that the believer can realize in
the body of the Church, through the grace of the Holy Spirit. This is why it does not seem
strange, that in Byzantium, the sacred canons were recognized as laws of the State.
The example of the first Christian society of Jerusalem remained for the Church throughout the
centuries the model for living, such that all the major Fathers (Basil, Chrysostom, etc.) would
always refer the faithful to the Church of Jerusalem, so that they too would live like true
Christians. St. John the Chrysostom in fact preached that if the Church (of the 4th century)
returned again to the way of life of the first Christians of Jerusalem, She would attract the
worlds pagans and atheists to become Her members. He even promised: If God gives me life,
I believe that in no time, I will lead you to this kind of societal lifestyle. (PG 60, 98)
The communal-coenobitic way of life will, in every century, be the genuine manner of Christian
existence in the world. The way of life is preserved to this day in the monastic commune
(coenobium) which continues to be the model Christian society and the truest example today of
real socialism, with its mutual service, lack of possessions and common ownership; the
communism of love, where everyone works according to his abilities and receives according
to his needs . Here, there is no trace of exploitation or injustice, since the aim is not to make a
profit, but to serve the brethren. Moreover, there is no discrimination between mental and
physical labor, because both can coexist in brotherly collaboration.
Within the monastic commune, which stands as the authentic model of Christian society, the
fact is gloriously demonstrated that Christ does not abolish our worldly dimension. He
sanctifies it and affirms its worth, as being the life of His own body, freeing it from its bondage
to sin. Thus in Orthodoxy, spirituality is differentiated from immaterialism, dualism (i.e.

regarding the body as something demonic), inaction, or any other nirvana whatsoever. Its
meaning is not exhausted in prayer and worship alone. Christ united our whole self unto His
body, so that our whole life might be transformed into prayer and worship. And this occurs,
when we integrate into His truth those aspects of our life that we consider material and
mundane. The Orthodox hesychastic tradition, which is Christian spirituality in its authentic
form, comes in here too, to provide the correct answer to our problem.
First of all, Hesychasm in the Orthodox sense is not understood as contemplative bliss and
inertia. Hesychasts are literally drowned in activities; the hesychast strives to transcend
exigency and whatever is demonic, and to attain the freedom of grace through being liberated
from all passions and through the Holy Spirits enlightenment. The purified hesychast no
longer lives for himself, but has become all-love. This is evident in the structure of the
coenobitic monastery. Here, purely material and mundane activities are not excluded; for here
we will find the doctor, the steward (manager of material commodities), the shoemaker, the
baker, the tailor, the mule-keeper. In the monastic brotherhood however, all these are not
profit-making professions but services offered a profession in the true sense of the word.
That is why all these kinds of labour not only arent an obstacle to the monks incessant prayer,
they are themselves transformed into prayer, since, after all, their aim is the functioning of the
body of the Church within society. The monk prays even while he works as a shoemaker, a
baker or a mule-keeper. Mundane activities are changed spiritually into rational worship
(Romans 12:1). In the long run, the monastic coenobium shows how civil service can, once
again, become a function of the Church.
Romanity lived by this ideal during the years of so-called Byzantium as well as during the
Turkish occupation. The community system and the cooperatives during the Turkish
occupation were based on the example of the Church of Jerusalem, taking into account the
analogies. It was through this way of living together in communities that our nation was able to
survive that terrible period of subjugation.


We shall now attempt to approach this topic, from within the perspective of the Orthodox
Patristic Tradition. In this way, a historical-spiritual perspective is opened up, which
simultaneously reveals the variation and the difference between the world that we have
voluntarily incorporated ourselves in, with the world of our Romanian (Hellenic-Orthodox)
1. Problem, or pseudo-problem?
The antithesis and consequently the a priori conflict between faith and science constitute a
problem for Western (Franco-Latin) thought and a pseudo-problem for the Orthodox Patristic
tradition. This observation is based on the historical data of these two realms.
The (supposedly) problematic choice between faith, or science appears in Western Europe in
the 17th century, at the same time as the development of the positive sciences. It is a fact that all
the developments in Western Europe during the last centuries were taking place in absentia of
the ancient, unified Europe and Orthodoxy. The de-Orthodoxing and de-Ecclesiasticizing
of the Western European world was achieved through the philosophization and
legalization of the Faith and its eventual religionization (for these developments, see Chr.
Yannaras, Orthodoxy and the West, Athens 1992).
Landmarks in the alienating course of Western Europe include: Scholasticism (13th century),
Nominalism (14th century), Humanism/Renaissance (15th century), Reformation (16th century)
and the Enlightenment (17th century). This was a series of revolutions and simultaneously rifts
in the fabric of the Western European civilization, which was born of the dialectic relationship
between these trends. Nominalism (i.e., dualism philosophically and individualism/

utilitarianism socially) was the foundation of scientific development of the European world
and its socio-political evolution.
The Orthodox East had a different spiritual course, by remaining faithful, in the persons of its
Saints naturally, to the Apostolic-Patristic Tradition, which is at the antipodes of scholasticism
and all the other historical-spiritual developments of the European sphere. In the East, that
which survived was the ascetic-neptic and empirical participation in the Truth, as a communion
with the Uncreated. It was in this framework that the sciences developed in Romania
(Byzantium). On the contrary, the scientific revolution in the West in the 17th century
contributed towards the distancing between faith and knowledge, which resulted in the
following axiomatic principle: of this new, positive philosophy, the only truths that are accepted
are those verified by logical explanation that now absolutized self-centeredness of Western
thought (rationalism). These truths are the existence of God, soul, virtue, immortality,
judgment etc. Their acceptance of course can find a place, only in deist enlightenment, given
that Enlightenments atheism exists in parallel, as a structural element of this latter-day
thought. However, basic ecclesiastic dogmas are rejected by the Enlightenments logic (for
example the triadicity of God, the Incarnation, Christian soteriology and the like); this is
actually the natural religion, which, from the Patristic aspect, not only does not differ from
atheism; it is in fact the worst form of it.
2. Two-fold Gnosiology
But why is it, that in the Orthodox East the antithesis between faith and science is a pseudoproblem? Because gnosiology in the East is determined by the object being recognized, which
is twofold: the Uncreated and the created. Only the Triunal God is Uncreated, Who is beyond
everything (Gregory the Theologian); He is the entirely Other, incommunable and
inaccessible. The universe (or universes) are the created, in which our existence is actualised.
Faith is the knowledge of the Uncreated and Science is the knowledge of the created. We
are therefore looking at two different kinds of knowledge, each possessing its own method and
The believer, who moves within the territory of supernatural knowledge, or the knowledge of
the Uncreated, is not called upon to learn something metaphysically, or to accept it logically,
but to undergo something, by communing with it. It is at this point that the Churchs mission
as the body of Christ is substantiated, as is Her reason for existence in the world: to render Man
receptive of that knowledge, which is simultaneously his salvation.
Supernatural-theological knowledge is understood Orthodoxically as pathos or an
experiencing; as a participation and communion with the transcendental personal Truth, and
not as a mere lesson. Thus, the Christian faith is not a theoretical (abstract) acceptance of
metaphysical truths, but is rather an empirical communion with the Uncreated God, through
ones spiritual labours.

This makes it evident why, in Orthodoxy, authority is acknowledged as being the experiencing
of participation in the Uncreated as the sighting the Uncreated - and not any texts or
Scriptures. The dogma of SOLA SCRIPTURA (only the Scripture) is a Protestant one; the Pope
was substituted in this manner by a paper pope, as they themselves derisively proclaim. The
pre-eminence of texts proof of the religionizing of the Faith led to its ideologizing and
idolizing (fundamentalism) , with all the consequences this obviously entails.
A prerequisite for the functioning of ones knowing the Uncreated is, in Orthodoxy, the
rejecting of every analogy (Entis: of being and Fidei: of faith), during the encounter and the
association between the created and the Uncreated. The blessed John the Damascene (750)
summarizes at this point a previous Patristic tradition as follows: It is impossible to find in
Creation an image that reflects in itself the manner of the Holy Trinity; For how can the created,
which is both complex and changeable and describable, with form and perishable, clearly
denote the beyond-essence Divine Essence, which is exempt of all these (aforementioned
attributes)? (P.G. 94,821/24).
Following the above, it becomes obvious why school education and philosophy more
specifically, do not constitute prerequisites - according to the patristic tradition for
knowledge of God (theognosy). We, in our non-Patristic arrogance, are filled with selfadmiration for the scientific titles we acquire, when they have no power whatsoever for the
attainment of divine knowledge and salvation. In our Orthodox-Patristic tradition, alongside
the major academician Saint Basil (379) - who is honoured as Great - we also honour the
unwise in the worldly manner yet possessing the upper or divine wisdom (the knowledge
of the Uncreated), Saint Anthony (350). A deviation from this point is the blessed Augustine
(430), who disregarded Patristic and Scriptural gnosiology and was essentially neo-Platonic.
With his axiom of: credo ut intelligam (I believe, therefore I understand), he introduced the
principle that man is led to a logical conception of Revelation through faith (an external
consent). But in this way, priority is given to logic (intellect), which is recognized as a Gnostic
instrument - both in natural as well as supernatural knowledge. God is understood as a Gnostic
object that is perceived by mans intellect, in the same manner that it perceives natural
objects. The completion of Augustines principle, through Thomas Aquinas (1274), will be
effected by DesCartes (1650), whose principle of cogito, ergo sum (I cogitate, therefore I
exist) exalts the intellect as the main constituent of human existence.
3. The two types of knowledge
The rescinding of the (apparent) contradiction in the field of gnosiology is achieved
theologically, with the clear distinction between the two kinds of knowledge/wisdom: the
divine or upper one and the lower or secular one (James 3:12). This was the distinction
that Saint Gregory Palamas had counter-posed before Barlaam the Calabrian in the 14th

The first kind of knowledge is the supernatural kind, and it is bestowed by God; the second
kind of knowledge is the natural kind, which is attained through scientific research. These two
Gnostic functions correspond to the clear distinction of Uncreated and created; of God and
creation. However, these two types of knowledge also require two gnostic methods. The
method required for attaining divine wisdom-knowledge is the neptic method, otherwise
known as catharsis of the heart (Psalm 50:12, Matthew 5:8), which leads to the indwelling and
the manifestation of the uncreated energy of the Triadic God within the heart. God bridges the
gap between Him and the world, with His uncreated energy.
The method required for attaining secular wisdom-knowledge is science, which is the exercising
of mans intellectual/logical power. Orthodoxically speaking, both kinds of knowledge and
their methods are gradated according to their carriers ( e.g., Basil the Great, Gregory the
Theologian, Photios the Great etc.) The method required for supernatural gnosiology is
referred to in the Orthodox tradition as Hesychasm and it identifies with nepsis (alertness)
and catharsis (cleansing) of the heart (Psalm 50,12; Matth. 5:8). Hesychasm is the quintessence
of Orthodoxy. Orthodoxy - outside of hesychastic practice - is patristically inconceivable.
Hesychasm, in its essence, is an ascetic-therapeutic treatment; a cleansing of the heart of its
passions for the rekindling of the noetic faculty, the function of the nous (not the mind)
within the heart. The noetic faculty is a mnemonic system parallel to the cellular and encephalic
ones, which preserves the memory of God within the heart, as extensively expounded by the
memorable fr. John Romanides from within the Philokalian tradition.
It must however be noted that the method of Hesychasm as a curative treatment is purely a
scientific one. In this method, an observation is a sighting of the Uncreated Light (divine
energy); an experiment is a repetition of that experience among theumens-Saints. Consider
what a telescope is for a physicist; for a hesychast, its equivalent is a cleansed heart (necessary
for theoscopy the observing of God). That is why according to fr. John Romanides
theology is a positive science; not in a university version thereof, but as a knowledge and a
wording that pertains to God. Its classification among the theoretical academic sciences
presupposes its changing into a metaphysical, that is a speculative kind of theology. The
scientist-theologian - who is qualified regarding the Uncreated - is, in the Patristic tradition, the
Spiritual Father the Geron or Elder (note the characterizing of major ascetics as professors
of the desert). The recording of knowledge in both cases presupposes an empirical knowledge
of the phenomenon. This is precisely where Orthodox-Patristic hermeneutics are founded. The
Saints (men and women) become authentic interpreters of the Scripture (=the experiences of the
Prophets and the Apostles therein), because they are equally divinely-inspired; equally
participants of the same experiences as them. However, the same thing applies in the field of
science. Only a specialist can comprehend the research performed by others in the same field.
The non-specialists, who cannot verify with experiments the research of the specialists, must
necessarily accept their findings, based on the trust that they have in the credibility of the
specialists. Science would otherwise not have shown any progress.

Something analogous takes place in the science of Faith; that is, the same kind of trust is
displayed by its own specialists, towards the knowledge of God (theognosy) of the Saints
of those who have reached the state of theopty-theosis (the sighting of God deification). It
is on the basis of this provable experience that Patristic tradition and the (Ecumenical) Synods
of the Church function. Without theumens (theoptics scientists with knowledge of the
Uncreated), there cannot be an ecumenical synod; and that is the main problem nowadays,
when convening an ecumenical synod, because it must either be composed of theumensFathers, or, it must move faithfully along the teaching of older theumens. In other words, it is
not possible for Saint Mark of Ephesus (15th century) to have said one thing, and for us to say
other things. Needless to clarify what this implies.
The Orthodox significance of the dogma also arises from this association. The dogma-teaching
on Faith is not an intellectual invention; it presupposes the experiences of the theumens on God
(Prophets, Apostles, Church Fathers). Thus, Patristic faith is just as dogmatic as science. The
dogmas of science are its axioms. This is why Mac Bloch had said that those who speak of
prejudice in Faith are forgetting that scientific research is also prejudiced, otherwise progress
in research would not have been possible.
In making this distinction between the two kinds of knowledge, their methods and their
instruments, Patristic Orthodoxy avoids every possible confusion between the two, but also
every conflict. Conflict can arise, when the findings of the one knowledge are monitored by the
other ones method; in other words, when science theologizes and theology judges secular
science. If God does or does not exist is not a problem that pertains to science, because science
can neither prove it, nor reject it, with the means that it possesses. The natural scientist who
theologizes, using the means that belong to his area of knowledge, transforms his science into a
metaphysical one; that is, he alters it altogether. In this way, the coast remains clear, for both
comparison and conflict.
The theumen (the theoptic who has attained divine knowledge) reveals faultlessly that
which pertains to God, as well as the association between God and creation, because the
theumen-Saint is one who is aware of the logos (reason) of beings, although not aware of their
nature or their cause, which are undertaken by scientific research. The logos of beings refers
to the cause of their existence and their associations within the world, which are attributed to
God. A theumen can be unfamiliar with scientific knowledge, which is why he can make
scientific mistakes when talking about scientific matters. From an Orthodox point of view,
certain paradoxical analogies can be observed, such as for example- the possibility for
someone to be a scientific genius but spiritually infantile (in divine knowledge). Reversely, one
can be superior in divine knowledge and entirely ignorant in school knowledge (for example
Anthony the Great) .
However, nothing can preclude the possibility of possessing both kinds of wisdom-knowledge,
as one can observe in certain of the major Fathers and Mothers of the Church. This is what the
Church chants on the 25th of November, in praise of the great mathematician of the 3rd

century, Saint Catherine the wise bearer of both kinds of knowledge: Having acquired the
knowledge from God since childhood, the Martyr also learnt the exterior knowledge full
well.. A congruence such as this is also found for example in Saint Gregory of Nyssa the
younger brother of Basil the Great one of the greatest Saints and sages of mankind. When
referring to the beginning of the universe, he somehow prepares the ground for the formulation
of the Big Bang theory (Lemaitre, 1927). According to this theory, the big explosion took
place in a microscopic, homogenous and super-condensed mass; Saint Gregory said that the
beginning of the universe was a seminal power, set down (by God) towards the genesis of all
things (PG 44,77 D). This seminal power can be comprehended as the super-condensed
mass that Physicists refer to. Gregorys use of the preposition towards (the genesis of all
things) is indicative of the dynamics of an explosion and a movement, from potentially
something to actively something. Gregorys theological status and his heart-centred
association with Uncreated Grace are what permit him to speak of a God-Creator, Who created
everything out of nil and Who places everything into motion in the beginning.
4. God-human dialectic
Thus, from within this interrelation of the two kinds of knowledge-wisdom, the Orthodox
faithful experiences a divine-human dialectic. However, every kind of knowledge (should)
remain and move within its own bounds. This means there is an issue, whereby each kind of
knowledge has its limits. The power of proof that each kind of knowledge possesses applies
only in its own area. Consequently, the existence of God is not a problem for physical science to
handle, because would involve crossing over its own boundaries. When Natural Science
preoccupies itself with the issue of God, it becomes metaphysical and when Faith (theology)
monitors science on the basis of the Scripture, it is warping the meanings of the Scripture, and is
converting it into a scientific manual. Although the Holy Bible may contain scientific
misstatements (for example the age of the universe, of mankind, etc.), it does not, however,
contain any theological errors. In the Bible, God reveals His association to the world and the
purpose of the world and of mankind. Thus, regardless when mankind was created, the
important point for a theologian is that Man is a creation of God and that albeit an animal, it
is nevertheless an animal with the potential to become a theumen (deified) according to
Gregory of Nyssa, or a god by calling (he has the inbuilt command-potential inside him to
become deified) according to Basil the Great. To overstep the boundaries of the two kinds of
knowledge will lead to the confusion of their functions and finally to a conflict between the two.
With his Hexaemeron (PG 29,3-208), Basil the Great provides a classic example of Orthodox
use and utilization of various examples of scientific knowledge. He manages to conjoin biblical
and scientific data by means of a continuous transcendence of science. He debunks materialistic
theories and heretic fallacies and passes over to a theological (but not metaphysical)
interpretation. The central message of his opus is the impossibility of logically supporting the
dogma, because the dogma belongs to a different sphere as something scientific within the
bounds of another kind of knowledge. Consequently, the notion of believe, and do not search
cannot exist in the Christian sense and neither does it apply.

Even Basil the Great, in consenting to science being versed as he was in all sciences concedes
to the God-centeredness of science. God sheds light on matters of revelation, leaving scientific
research to Man. As the great Father says: Many things have been silenced (in the Bible), thus
exercising our mind towards deeper study. The penetration and in-depth study of Creation is
left to Science, which God bestowed on Man.
The tragic case of Galileo (whose pardon was rightly asked albeit belated) shows us where the
confusion and the overstepping of boundaries of knowledge can lead. But in the West (as well
as in our own, mostly Westernized science) something even worse occurred: intellect (logic)
was promoted to instrument of both divine and human wisdom. Thus, in the field of science,
intellect rejects everything supernatural as being incomprehensible, while in the area of Faith,
the findings of Natural Science are rejected, because they are often regarded to contradict the
Bible (fundamentalism). This is the mentality that the rejection of the Copernican system in the
East (1774-1821) also betrays, as well as the same loss of criteria (ref. Vas. Makrides: Die
Religise Kritik am Kopernikeniscchen Weltbild in Griechenland zwischen 1794 und 1821,
Frankfurt am Main, 1995). Science took its revenge for the condemnation of Galilee in the West,
with Darwins Theory of evolution.
5. Conclusion
The supposed conflict between Faith and Science, along with Korais theory of metakenosis
(trans-vacating), infiltrated to our East, when and where the hesychastic-Patristic tradition
had indeed begun to wane. From an Orthodox point of view however, a conflict between the
two is not something self-evident. Nothing can preclude their co-existence. Besides,
contemporary scientific terminology is a significant aid in a mutual understanding between the
two. For example, theologys apophatism as Mans inability to define (and essentially to
confine) God on the principle of indeterminism, was accepted by science also (see Chr.
Yannaras, Contents and Works of Apologetics Today, Athens 1975). The return,
consequently, to the Patristic outlook does help to transcend any conflicts.


When is a Synod of the Church considered Ecumenical?

An Ecumenical Synod is one :

1. that is convened with the permission of an Emperor of the Roman Empire, extending over an
Ecumenical (pan-Roman) range, and of course a pan-Christian range. The participating Bishops
were the representatives of worldwide Orthodoxy.
2. whose rulings have been accepted by the entire, worldwide, Orthodox Church, throughout
3. whose rulings have been formulated by Divinely-inspired Fathers (Saints).
4. Whose rulings bear the acceptance of the Roman Patriarchates as well as the ecclesiastic
5. Which has dealt with crucial Theological issues.
We shall now set out only a brief overview of the Ecumenical Synods of the Church, leaving the
more detailed descriptions for other, more specialized articles.
1st Ecumenical Synod: 325 A.D., in Nicea of Bithynia.
Convened by the Emperor Constantine the Great. 318 bishops participated. The issue dealt with
was Arius blasphemous assertion that the Son and Logos of God is a creation and not of the
same essence (Homo-usios) as the Father. The same Synod ruled on the dates of celebration of
Easter. The Symbol of Faith (the Nicene Creed) also began to be drafted.
2nd Ecumenical Synod: 381 A.D., in Constantinople.
Convened by Theodosius the Great. 150 Orthodox and 36 Macedonian bishops participated.
The Synod was presided over by Saint Gregory the Theologian, bishop of Constantinople.
Areios was once again condemned, as was the heresy of the Macedonios, who taught that the
Holy Spirit is a creation of God, hence his being nicknamed Pneumatomachos (the Spiritbattler). Also condemned Apollinarianism, Eunomians, Eudoxians, Sabellians, Marcellians, and
Photinians (who taught that Jesus was a mere man, upon whom the Logos rested). It drafted
the Symbol of Faith, which is in use in Orthodoxy.
3rd Ecumenical Synod: 431 A.D., in Ephesus.
Convened by Theodosius II. This Synod dogmatized against Nestorianism, in the Temple of the
basilica of the Holy Mother, with 200 bishops participating. It condemned Nestorius, bishop of
Constantinople, and dogmatized that the Holy Mother can also be addressed as Theotokos
(=who gave birth to God, ). Changes to the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed were forbidden
with punishment of deposition for clerics and excommunication for laity prescribed

4th Ecumenical Synod: 451 A.D., in Chalcedon of Asia Minor.

Convened by the Emperor Marcian and the Empress Pulcheria. 630 bishops participated. It
annulled the (Robber) Council of 449 which took place in Ephesus. The Eutychian doctrine of
Monophysitism was condemned in this Synod. The Tome of Leo was affirmed. Simony was
condemned. Condemned Nestorianism.
5th Ecumenical Synod: 5th May to 21st June of 553 A.D., in Constantinople.
Convened by the Emperor Justinian and the Empress Theodora. 165 Fathers participated.
Condemned the (heretic) Monophysitic positions of Theodoretus of Kyros, Iwa of Edessa,and
Theodore of Mopsuestia (Nestorius teacher). This Synod also confirmed the condemnation of
Origenism (543).
6th Ecumenical Synod: 680 A.D., in Constantinople.
Convened by the Emperor Constantine Pogonatus. 150 289 bishops participated. This Synod
condemned the heresy of Monothelitism. This Synod formulated that Christ has a Divine will,
as well as a human will that is obeisant to the Divine will. Affirmed the teachings of Saint
Maximus the Confessor. The following were condemned, amongst others: Sergius, Pyrrhus,
Paul, and Peter (Patriarchs of Constantinople); Pope Honorius; Patriarch Cyrus of Alexandria.
Quinisext Ecumenical Synod: 691 A.D., in Constantinople.
Convened by Justinian II; took place in the Trullo of the Palace, hence its being named The
Synod of Trullo. This was not an independent Synod; it merely systematized and fulfilled the
task of the preceding two Synods (the 5th and the 6th), hence, albeit Ecumenical, was also
referred to as Quinisext, given that it was a segment of those two Synods and was not
numbered as a separate Ecumenical Synod.
7th Ecumenical Synod: 787 A.D., in Nicea of Bithynia, in the temple of Hagia Sophia.
Convened by the Emperor Constantine and his mother Irene the Athenian. 367 fathers
participated. This Synod reinstated and protected the holy icons, by anathematizing iconoclasm
(the opposition to the veneration of icons), also condemning the idea of depicting the invisible
and incorporeal Holy Trinity. It annulled the false council of 754. Adoration of icons, was not
accepted because it is for God alone. In this Synod, the theology pertaining to the depiction of
Christ and the Saints as a depiction of visible personages was set out.
8th Ecumenical Synod: 879-880 A.D., in Constantinople.
Convened by the Emperor Basil the Macedon. Headed by the Patriarch of Constantinople-New
Rome, Fotios the Great (858-867, 877-886) and with the participation of a representative of the
(then Orthodox) Pope of Rome, John VIII (872-882). This Synod validated the rulings of the 7th

Ecumenical Synod by expelling those who did not recognise Nica II as Seventh Ecumenical
Synod. It anathematized the Filioque addition to the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed, which
had just begun to be imposed, abrogating the decrees of the Robber Council of 869-870. It also
condemned the heretic synods of Charlemagne in Frankfurt (794 A.D.) and in Aachen (809
A.D.). This council was later repudiated by the West in favor the robber council which had
deposed Photius (869).
9th Ecumenical Synod: 1341-1351 A.D.
Three separate synods (1341, 1349 ,1351) are regarded as a whole because they dealt with the
same issue.
This Synod dogmatized on the uncreated Essence and the uncreated Energy of God, as well as
on Hesychasm, by condemning Varlaam the Calabrian. Rejected teaching that the attributes
(energies) of God are identical with the essence. Condemned those who think the light of
Christs Transfiguration was a created apparition. Condemned those who deny the energy of
God is uncreated.
This Synod therefore preoccupied itself with theological issues, it was convened by an emperor
(Synodic Volume of 1341 A.D.) and a Divinely-inspired father participated therein (Saint
Gregory Palamas), and its rulings were accepted by the entire Church. Consequently, this
Synod is of equal stature to an Ecumenical Synod. The 9th Ecumenical Synod of 1341
condemned the Platonic mysticism of Varlaam the Calabrian, who had arrived from the West as
a proselyte to Orthodoxy. Rejection of this Platonic type of mysticism was of course the
traditional Patristic response.
General information on the Ecumenical Synods
The above nine Ecumenical Synods were published as roman laws validated by the Emperor,
after having been previously signed by the respective five roman Patriarchs, Metropolitans and
Bishops. The Emperor would convene these Ecumenical Synods (but without actually also
directing them), in collaboration with the Five Roman Patriarchates, of (a) Old Rome, (b)
Constantinople-New Rome, (c) Alexandria, (d) Antioch, which was included in 451 A.D. and (e)
Jerusalem. The 9th Ecumenical Synod of 1341 A.D. was an exception, as its Minutes were
validated by only four roman Patriarchs and signed by the roman Emperor.
The Patriarchate of Old Rome was now absent, as it had been violently seized by the Franks, the
Longobards and the Germans, with the help of the Normans. This onslaught began in 983 A.D.
and was completed by 1009-1046 A.D.. After the year 1045 A.D., the Popes of Rome -with the
exception of Pope Benedict X (1058-9 A.D.) - were no longer romans, but members of the
Frankish-Latin aristocracy, which had subjugated the roman populations. After the fall of the
Roman Empire and its Emperor, in 1453 A.D. the four roman Patriarchates of ConstantinopleNew Rome, Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem continued to convene Synods, with which they
continued the tradition of the Ecumenical Synods. The only reason that these Synods were not

named Ecumenical is simply because this title signified Imperial and the rulings of such
Synods became components of Roman Law. In other words, after the year 1453 A.D., the
rulings of the roman Synods were considered components of Ecclesiastic Law, and no longer of
Imperial Law. The Roman Empire no longer existed, nor a roman emperor who would issue
roman Laws. Thus, these nine Ecumenical Synods were understood to be both ecclesiastic Laws
and roman Laws. The Synods that were convened after 1453 A.D. comprise a part of
Ecclesiastic Law, and have the same authority as the previous Ecumenical Synods (except in the
imagination of some contemporary Orthodox, who have been misled by the Russian Orthodoxy
of Peter the Great, and the so-called neo-Greek theology of certain Western-educated
This is why nowadays we find Orthodox who call themselves The Church of the Seven
Ecumenical Synods. Many (uninformed) Orthodox are totally oblivious to the existence of the
8th and the 9th Ecumenical Synods. The 8th Ecumenical Synod in 879 A.D. simply condemned
those who add or remove anything from the Symbol of Faith (Creed), as well as those who
do not accept the rulings pertaining to the worship of Icons, per the 7th Ecumenical Synod.
The reason that the Franks who are being condemned- are not for the time being clearly
denoted, is that they might hopefully revise their stance.
Evidence of the Ecumenical status of the 8th & 9th Ecumenical Synods
In a previous chapter, we outlined the required characteristics of a Synod acceptable by the
Church, in order for it to be confirmed as an Ecumenical Synod. These characteristics are found
in all nine (plus the Quinisext) Synods that we mentioned above. These characteristics, which
are set out in this article, have been taken from the book of the Rev. Metropolitan of Nafpaktos,
Hierotheos Vlachos, titled Ecclesiastic Conviction, (published by Genethlion of Theotokos).
The Ecumenical status of the 9th Ecumenical Synod is also analyzed therein, extensively.
Naturally, the 8th Ecumenical Synod itself not only repeated that the 7th was Ecumenical
(which, until that time, had not been acknowledged by some as the 7th Ecumenical Synod), but
it also frequently refers to itself as Ecumenical in its Minutes, and in fact in its very canons which have been fully accepted by the worldwide Ecclesiastic body of Orthodoxy! (Rallis and
Potlis, Constitution, 2, 705, etc.; Ecclesiastic History by Stephanides, pages 363-364.). So, how is
it possible for a Synod (the 8th) which , for some , is allegedly not Ecumenical, to validate
another Synod (the 7th) which is Ecumenical? Based on this logic, we are indirectly doubting
the Ecumenicity of the 7th, unbeknownst to us!
During his interpretation of these canons, Theodore of Balsamon (end 12th century)
acknowledges it as being the 8th Ecumenical Synod, while Neilos of Rhodos (1379) calls it the
Eighth Ecumenical, as do others (J.Hergenrther, Photius II, page 539 onwards).
Of course, the most important Orthodox Theologian of the 20th century father John
Romanides (Graduate of the Greek College of Brookline Massachusetts, the Yale Universitys

School of Theology, Doctor of the School of Theology of the Capodistrian University of Athens,
the Philosophical School of Harvard University (School of Arts and Sciences. Professor Emeritus
of the School of Theology of the Aristotelian University of Thessaloniki and Visiting Professor
of the Theological School of Saint John the Damasceneof the Balamand University of Lebanon
since 1970. He has also studied with the Russian Seminar of Saint Vladimir of New York, and
the also Russian Institute of Saint Serge in Paris and Munich, Germany) is in full agreement
with the aforementioned positions.
Fr. John Romanides expounds on these two last Ecumenical Synods in extensive memoranda of
his. The title of one of his writings is characteristic: The cure for the sickness of Religion: the
Nine Ecumenical Synods and the other Ecclesiastic Synods until 1453. You can locate this
article, in the related link below, among the other links pertaining to this article.
It is however imperative that we do not confine ourselves to the names of theologians, or even
of bishops, but to seek an OFFICIAL acknowledgement of our positions, from the Universal
Orthodox Church. A document such as this, which dispels every doubt that the Ecumenical
Synods are NOT ONLY SEVEN, is a letter which had been sent to the Pope by ALL OF THE
ROMAN PATRIARCHATES, in 1848. This letter was signed, not only by the Patriarchs, but
also by the (named) Bishops of their respective Holy Synods.
Very clearly mentioned in this letter is the wording EIGHTH ECUMENICAL SYNOD, where
the all-familiar Filioque was condemned, and furthermore, the Pope himself had also
participated (who at the time was still Orthodox). This was not a just a private letter to Pius IX.
It was addressed to "All the Bishops Everywhere, Beloved in the Holy Ghost, Our Venerable,
Most Dear Brethren; and to their Most Pious Clergy; and to All the Genuine Orthodox Sons of
the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church."
Should we therefore assume here that neither the Patriarchs nor the members of their Holy
Synods knew that the Ecumenical Synods were supposedly only seven? If this were the case, it
is highly improbable, that not a single one of them, who signed at the bottom of this document,
would have questioned: If the Synods are 7 in all, how can we be speaking of the 8th? Quite
obviously, they were all fully aware that the Ecumenical Synods were more than 7!
This document can be found (in its English translation), by visiting the related links mentioned
at the end of this article. Also in Greek (prototype) you can find it mentioned in Volume 2,
pages 902-925 of the book by J. Karmiris, titled THE DOGMATIC AND SYMBOLIC
Another interesting detail is also the following: The Papist Church, published the so-called
Catholic Encyclopedia in 1907, in which it mentions the Ecumenical Synod of 879-880, saying
that: This is the "Psuedosynodus Photiana" (= the pseudo-synod of Photios), which the

From this, it becomes obvious that even the Papists knew full well which the Orthodox Synods
were, even at that time. And while the Papists had every reason to withhold the information
regarding the Ecumenical status of that Synod (in which the Filioque was condemned), by
saying that not even we Orthodox considered it Ecumenical, they did not do this; instead, they
merely slandered it. They obviously refrained from this action, because it was something quite
familiar to everyone at the time, and any concealment would have had no real repercussions.

Questions for those who believe there are only 7 Ecumenical Synods
Pursuant to the above, all those who believe that the Ecumenical Synods of the Orthodox
Church are only 7, must necessarily give their comprehensive and documented replies to the
following questions:
1. What is incorrect about the criteria of Ecumenicity stated above, and why?
2. With what other criteria should they be replaced, and on what Ecclesiological, Historical and
Theological basis?
3. Based on what logic is it possible for a non-ecumenical (as the 8th is referred to by many)
Synod to presume to validate an Ecumenical Synod (the 7th)? Is it possible for the 8th NOT to
be Ecumenical, and yet, we resort to it, for its ruling on the Ecumenicity of the 7th? If therefore
the 8th was non-existent, would the 7th then in turn not be acknowledged as Ecumenical?
Wouldnt we be going headlong into an absurd logic here?
4. Why should we reject the positions of major theologians of the Church like the ones we
mentioned above- and in their place, accept the positions of others, who do not accept the two
last Ecumenical Synods?
What more important evidence is there, that could justify the rejection of the signing of the
Holy Synods of the Patriarchates in the letter of 1848 mentioned above, and furthermore, where
does one find a ruling of all these Patriarchates, which condemns this admission of more than 7
Ecumenical Synods?
If all the above questions are provided with documented replies and arguments possessing an
authority equivalent to that which is analyzed in this article, we can further discuss the matter
of how many the Ecumenical Synods are.