John Chrysostom on Romans 9

Many puzzle about Romans 9 and what some claim to see as a teaching of “double-edged” predestination, that is, that God predestines some for hell. It is useful to see what the Fathers do with such a passage. Here is an excerpt from John Chrysostom’s sermon on Romans 9 that addresses the subject well and demonstrates that God does not predestine anyone to damnation. The question was raised in a recent comment…

Reading Scripture in an Orthodox Manner

Recently my site has been visited with questions about Scripture, in particular (to start with) the Orthodox use of the title “Father” when Christ said, “Call no man on earth your father.” Actually I thought the response posted by William amply demonstrated how this verse should be understood. But there is a larger question – that of the use of Scripture and how it may be interpreted. The questioner claimed only be…

The Communion of a Book

I did not list the Scriptures on my list of “books of influence,” since it would seem somehow wrong to place it as a book among other books. Of course, it is a book, but it is unlike anything else we read. Over the body of the dead we chant the psalms so long as the body lies in the Church. If it is the body of a priest, we chant the…

Risky Business

Amoun found Abba Poemen and told him, “When I visit a neighbor or he visits me, he hesitate to talk with each other. We are afraid that we might bring up a worldly topic. The old man replied, “Yes, young people need to guard their mouths.” Amoun asked, “But how do old men handle this problem?” Abba Poemen said, “Those who have advanced in virtue no longer have any worldliness in them.…

He Ascended on High

There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of us all, who is above all and through all and in all. But grace was given to each of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore it is said, “When he ascended on high he led a host…

Is a Relationship with God What We Want?

An excellent question was raised in the comments of my previous post – the question being about the nature of relationship. It is commonplace in our modern parlance to speak of a “personal relationship” which is either redundant, or a way of weakening the true meaning of “personal.” I suspect that the modern meaning of “relationship” is in fact not capable of bearing the true weight of theological meaning and is simply…

Grace and “the Inverted Pyramid”

Fr. Sophrony [Sakharov], in his book on St. Silouan, presents this theory of the “inverted pyramid.” He says that the empirical cosmic being is like a pyramid: at the top sit the powerful of the earth, who exercise dominion over the nations (cf. Matt. 20:25), and at the bottom stand the masses. But the spirit of man, by nature [unfallen nature as given by God], demands equality, justice and freedom of spirit,…

Myrrhbearers and the Truth

The second Sunday after our Lord’s Pascha is always remembered as the “Sunday of the Myrrhbearers,” when the Church remembers the women and men who cared for our Lord’s body after His death on the Cross. Joseph and Nicodemus are the two men remembered. Mary and Martha of Bethany, Mary Magdalene, Mary the wife of Cleophas, Salome, Susanna and Joanna (and in some accounts Mary, the Mother of God) are those numbered…

How to “Read” the Church

If, as I have wrtten, the Orthodox Church itself is the proper interpretation of Scripture – then one might ask, “How am I supposed to read the Scriptures if their interpretation is the Church?” It is a good, even an obvious question, but one which points us to the very thing at hand: the nature of interpretation. In general usage, to speak of interpreting something is to speak of explaining and commenting…

More on an Orthodox Hermeneutic

It is the common witness of the gospels that the disciples seemed to have no clue when it came to the death and resurrection of Christ – until after the resurrection. The classic story of this is to be found in St. Luke’s gospel: Now behold, two of them were traveling that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was seven miles from Jerusalem. And they talked together of all these…