Christian Atheism

The title for this post sounds like an oxymoron, and, of course, it is. How can one be both an atheist and a Christian? Again, I am wanting to push the understanding of the one-versus-two-storey universe. In the history of religious thought, one of the closest versions to what I am describing as a “two-storey” world-view, is that espoused by classical Deism (the philosophy espoused by a number of the American founding…

The Meaning of Language – Part 3

Having pointed out that much of popular Christian language (and some images in sacred texts) lend themselves to the notion of a “two-storey” universe – and having noted that the second storey as the dwelling place of all things spiritual has almost insurmountable problems – how should we speak about such things? First, it seems that it’s worth thinking about what the words we use really mean in the first place. Perhaps…

The Dormition of the Mother of God

In giving birth you preserved your virginity, In falling asleep you did not forsake the world, O Theotokos. You were translated to life, O Mother of Life, And by your prayers, you deliver our souls from death. Troparion of the Feast – Tone 1 It is easy to be put off by Orthodox devotion to the Mother of God when coming at Orthodoxy from a Protestant background. Both because of a fear…

The Meaning of Words – Part 2

I have taken this discussion of life in a “one-storey” universe to that of language, precisely because I think that much of our language (as we presently define it) presumes “two-storey” meanings. One of the places I will press language is our speaking of God’s Providence. In the “Morning Prayer of the Last Elders of Optina,” we have a version of a prayer that can be found in similar form by other…

Worth Taking Time to Read

I confess I do not read near as much as I once did. Writing takes time – and is a way of slowly digesting a lot of years of reading – and, I hope, to some benefit. Today, however, I came across an article of Frederica Mathewes-Green, written last June, that was deeply moving. I was looking for material on Fr. Roman Braga, the Romanian priest who is a survivor of the…

More on the Mystery of Salvation

I am almost always caught off guard by the number of readers an article on very simple (from an Orthodox point of view) matter of our salvation seems to generate. I forget that the treasury of doctrine that we live in is not part of the daily treasure that others know. I find tremendous comfort, particularly in everything taught by the Orthodox Church regarding our salvation. It is probably my favorite topic.…

Akathist Hymn: Glory to God for All Things

I have seen several translations of this hymn. This one comes from the site of St. John the Baptist Cathedral (ROCOR) in Washington, D.C. I have edited it only typographically. It was composed by Metropolitan Tryphon (Prince Boris Petrovich Turkestanov) +1934  – but frequently attributed to Father Gregory Petrov, who died in a Soviet prison camp. It continues to grow in its popularity within the Orthodox Church. In my parish’s usage, we…

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…

Via Negativa

One of the strongest hallmarks of Orthodox theology is its preference for the apophatic approach to God. By apophatic is meant, “that which cannot be spoken.” There are certain positive affirmations we can make about God, but there are many more things that we can affirm by what we do not say. Fr. Thomas Hopko is famously quoted as saying, “You cannot know God. But you have to know Him to know…

The Transfigured Beauty of the Crucified God

On the Mountain Thou wast Transfigured, O Christ God, And Thy disciples beheld Thy glory as far as they could see it; So that when they would behold Thee crucified, They would understand that Thy suffering was voluntary, And would proclaim to the world, That Thou art truly the Radiance of the Father! Kontakion of the Feast of Transfiguration   It is inevitably the case that no matter how much a man may write and…