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…

And Now for a Little Meat! Met. John Zizioulas and the Church

If you are not familiar with Met. John Zizioulas’ work, then you have missed some of the best writing by an English-speaking Orthodox writer. Not that having read him you’ll understand what you have just read. But the following small article was sent to my by my dear friend, the Pontificator, whom many of you know from (now-demised) blog. I appreciate the head’s up. The article was publish elsewhere.  John Zizioulas (Being as Communion)…

The Church of Many Rooms

In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? (John 14:2). I have shared before about a dream I once had of a Church in which there were many rooms. It was an old, wooden Orthodox Church, packed with people and with a service going on – but the service continued from room to room.…

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…

Icons and the Fullness of the Faith – A Story

In 1988 I began studies at Duke University in the Graduate School of Religion. My intention at the time was to complete a doctorate and look for a teaching position. I had served for eight years in the ordained ministry of the Episcopal Church and was headed for what I hoped would be a deepening of my understanding of the faith and of my ministry. I had an interest in Orthodox theology…