Who Am I?

I ask a sensual man, “Who are you?” and he replies, “I am I,” and he thinks of his body. I ask a thinking man, “Who are you?” and he replies, “I see two sides in myself and I make my way between them, associating first with one and then the other,” and he is thinking of his instinctive and conscious soul. I ask a spiritual man, “Who are you?” and he…

Saturday – the Most Holy Mother of God and the Faithful Departed

On Saturdays, the Orthodox Church remembers the Most Holy Mother of God and the faithful departed. During Holy Week, the Church celebrates Christ’s descent to the dead and His trampling down death by death on Holy Saturday, just as a week before on Lazarus Saturday, it remembers Christ’s raising Lazarus from the tomb. Throughout the year, but especially during Great Lent, there are a number of Saturdays that are “Soul Saturdays,” or…

Thursdays – the Holy Apostles and Great Hierarchs

Thursdays in the Orthodox Church are devoted to the Holy Apostles and the Great Hierarchs, especially St. Nicholas of Myra, the Wonderworker. As someone noted earlier, Thursday is the “twelfth” day of the week (if Sunday is eight) thus the association of the 12 Apostles – though which came first – the designation or the reckoning is known only to the angels – but that was Monday… St. Paul states: the Church…

A Little Child Enters the Temple

The story in the gospel of Christ’s visits to the Temple in his childhood – the first at 40 days of age (marked by the Feast of the Presentation and the occasion of prophecy by the Elder Simeon and Hannah the Prophetess) and at age 12 when He is lost and later found giving instruction to the teachers and scribes, is a reminder of the importance of children in the Temple of…

Orthodoxy and Scripture – Fr. John Behr’s Lecture Revisted

The earlier attempted debate (in the comments about St. Michael the Archangel) about Scripture and Orthodox understanding of the saints, prayers, etc., is rooted in an understanding of Scripture that is itself the very basis of the Christian faith. Attempts to remove the Bible from its proper Churchly context by the Reformation and modern day Protestants inevitably leads to a misunderstanding of the gospel and an attack on the very Church itself. Fr.…

Reading the Fathers

I mentioned in a comment to a recent post that more people talk about the Fathers of the Church than actually read them. I also noted that good translations are hard to find. I wanted to offer some thoughts on reading the Fathers as well as some suggestions on how to begin that important task. First, you should understand that you will never read all the Fathers, or understand all that they…

Solidarity and Salvation

Who is God? And what is man? What is wrong with man such that he needs to be “saved?” Is there more than one way of explaining this? The issue of salvation, of how man is brought back into a proper relationship with God, has been the primary concern of Christianity since its very inception. Christ himself begins His ministry with the proclamation, “Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.”…

Zizioulas and the Church that is Communion

One of the more profound writers and thinkers in the Orthodox Church today has to be Metropolitan John Zizioulas – who has taught for years in Scotland and England – and is known to be one of the closest theologians to His Holiness, Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople. Zizioulas [as he is commonly referred to without meaning any disrespect] is also famously difficult to read – he can pack a paragraph with insights…

The Fullness of the Faith

The word “fullness,” is a very Orthodox word, one that is used for theological expression fairly frequently. It is perhaps among my favorites, as any regular reader here can quickly attest. It is a New Testament word, usually applied to Christ or to a sense of the “fullness” of time. But there is a sense that it also carries within Orthodox usage that refers to the Gospel itself. In this usage, fullness…

What’s At Stake in the Atonement

One of the more common topics both on this blog and on a number of other Orthodox sites are questions about the Atonement. In general the Atonement refers to how it is we understand that Christ reconciled us to God. When we say, “Christ died for our sins,” what does it mean? The questions of the Orthodox tend to center around the doctrine of the Substitutionary Atonement, which in conservative Evangelical circles…