The One You Don’t See

My recent post on the One God has shown me that there is much more to say on the subject. “We believe in One God…” but do we? In a recent conversation, someone said to me that they had difficulty believing in “one supreme being who created everything…etc.” Christians don’t actually believe in one supreme being. If this startles you, then read further. Christians do not believe in “one supreme being,” first…

Scattered Thoughts and the One God

“My thoughts are scattered…” It’s an observation I make frequently to myself, and one that I hear constantly from others. It is not that we think about many things (though we do), but we think many things about everything often with contradictions, questions, competing allegiances and inner struggles. The inner world of modern man is a noisy place. This makes it very hard for us to hear the theme of the One…

Unmediated Grace

This Sunday the Orthodox Calendar commemorates St. Gregory Palamas – perhaps the most significant theologian and teacher of the late Byzantine period. He particularly is important when considering the nature of the Christian experience of God. Orthodoxy believes that it is truly possible to know God though He remains unknowable. The mystery of this true knowledge constitutes the heart of St. Gregory’s work. I first encountered St. Gregory’s writings when I was…

People of the Book

How obvious is the Bible? In my part of the world, a simple, cultural Protestantism prevails, one where many people when asked what Church they go to will say, “I just read the Bible and try to do what God says.” They may or may not go to a Church. They may, if questioned have some general doctrines to which they subscribe, but generally this is not the case. Their Christianity is…

The Pillar and Ground of Hypocrisy

A growing feature of the modern world is the disconnect between members of the Church and the teaching of the Church. A recent New York Times article noted a deep divide between what American Catholics believe and what their hierarchy teaches. It’s not just a Catholic phenomenon – it’s a feature of the modern Christian landscape. There is no lack of blame in this growing disconnect. Individualism, relativism, post-modernism – pretty much…

Living a “Spiritual” Life

It has become a commonplace to hear someone say, “I’m spiritual but not religious.” Most people have a general understanding of what is meant. I usually assume that the person holds to a number of ideas that are considered “spiritual” in our culture, but that they are not particularly interested in “organized religion.” I understand this, because organized religion can often be the bane of spiritual existence. I am an Orthodox Christian –…

America and the Perversion of Christianity

Many people in our modern cultures have only a vague or non-existent knowledge of history. This is especially true of Americans. The downside of such ignorance should seem obvious. Most modern Christians have very little acquaintance with Christian history – and strangely – even less with modern Christian history. Though some might be aware of the Seven Ecumenical Councils, or even the Great Schism, they know almost nothing about American Church history…

Fulfilled – The Christian Reading of the Old Testament

“That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet…” This is a familiar line in the gospels – particularly in St. Matthew. It signals a moment that the gospel writer (and thus the tradition) sees an action or saying of Jesus as somehow being a “fulfillment” of something within the Old Testament. For the confession of the primitive Church is that what Jesus did is “in accordance with the Scriptures”…

The End of “Religion”

Comments on the previous post’s negative use of the word “religion,” seem to suggest the need to say more. The use of “religion” as a name for something negative associated with belief in God is not new with me, nor within Orthodoxy. It has been a significant part of the most serious levels of discussion for the better part of the 20th century. Another word would have done just as well, perhaps,…

The Final Destruction of Demons

Final is not a word you often hear in Christian teaching. Most Christians leave the final things until, well, the End. But this is not the language of the fathers nor of the Church. A good illustration can be found in the Orthodox service of Holy Baptism. During the blessing of the waters the priest prays: And grant to [this water] the grace of redemption, the blessing of Jordan. Make it the…