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…

Knowing the Personal God

The word personal has a commonplace meaning in English. If I have personal knowledge of an event, it means that I was actually there and saw what took place. Personal knowledge of another person, means that we have actually met, spent time together and shared information. Difficulty arises when this commonplace use of the phrase is mistaken for its theological meaning. The word person, is pretty much a Christian invention, or certainly…

Finding the Problems at Home – Its All in Your Mind

If you like history (as I do) then there is always a temptation to look to history for answers. It is certainly the case that the present has much of its situation from the givens it inherited in its history. But we are none us completely explained by our forebears. I certainly have aspects inherited from my parents, but my personal world is still not the sole result of long historical forces…

Theology, the Slavophiles, and the Parish Church

Ivan Kireevsky was born on April 3, 1806, and became in the course of his lifetime one of the leading intellectual forces in the group who would later be called the Slavophiles. They were interested in a revival in Russian thought, particularly along lines they considered distinctly Russian – in comparison to Western thought. Many have noted their errors: sometimes they went too far in making distinctions with the West; sometimes they…

Christ Crucified

Writing to the Corinthians, St. Paul makes one his most famous statements: “For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified (1Cor. 2:2). It is among the clearest definitions of the apostolic preaching to be found anywhere in the New Testament, or perhaps I should say, “everywhere in the New Testament.” For this is not a statement of the peculiar doctrine of St. Paul, but a plain…

Godly Counsel from a Holy Elder

I am sharing here a few sayings from the Elder Amphilochios of Patmos, someone whose life and teachings I have heard spoken of before by Metropolitian Kallistos of Diocleia (Kallistos Ware). They are worth savoring. The quotes come from the volume Precious Vessels of the Holy Spirit. I am especially fond of his attitude to trees. +++ My children, I don’t want Paradise without you. Whoever plants a tree, plants hope, peace,…

To Know God

I have had some correspondence recently on the subject of knowing God. The knowledge of God, generally spoken of in a very experiential manner, is an absolute foundation in Orthodox theology. Nothing replaces it – no dogmatic formula – no Creed – not even Scripture – though Orthodoxy would see none of these things as separate from the knowledge of God. But the questions I have received are very apt. In a…

The Faith of the Apostles

We have learned from no others the plan of our salvation than from those through whom the Gospel has come down to us, which they did at one time proclaim in public, and at a later period, by the will of God, handed down (tradiderunt) to us in the Scriptures, to be the ground and pillar of our faith… Matthew issued a written Gospel among the Hebrews in their own dialect, while…

I Really Wasn’t Kidding – There’s Another Gospel Out There

I generally enjoy our comments and also following the links when others share some portion of Glory to God for All Things with others. Last week I posted on the necessity for the whole gospel – that is – the gospel received by the Apostles and taught to the Church. I noted that in many areas of modern Christianity, very essential elements of that gospel are in danger. I was struck when…