Why Would Anyone Want to Forgive an Enemy?

That Christians are commanded by Christ to forgive their enemies is common knowledge. We often take this at face value – discover immediately that it is very hard (often impossible) and conclude that the commandment is an unachievable ideal. For non-Christians, forgiveness of enemies may, in some cases, be a shared ideal (most people believe in “peace”), but many if not most non-Christians would recognize immediately the dangers involved in forgiving an…

Now That We’ve Come to the End of the World

And although in the course of their long history Christians have much too often forgotten the meaning of the cross, and enjoyed life as if “nothing had happened,” although each one of us too often takes “time off” – we know that in the world in which Christ died, “natural life” has been brought to an end. Fr. Alexander Schmemann in For the Life of the World. +++ By age 19 I…

Existence and Truth

Fr. Sergius Bulgakov, as a young man who returned to the faith following a flirtation with Marxism, came to an understanding that the Christian faith is not to be understood as a moral structure, but as a matter of true existence. This distinction is deeply important in Orthodox understanding, and has been a hallmark of Orthodox teaching in the 20th and 21st century. Few matters of the faith draw out this distinction…

Knowing What We Don’t Know

The New Testament, particularly in the writings of St. John (but in St. Paul’s works as well) say much about “knowing” God. In St. John’s Gospel Christ says, “And this is eternal life: that they might know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent” (John 17:3). Thus, knowing God is equated with salvation itself. On the other hand, we speak of God as “incomprehensible and unknowable” (for…

The Cross of Christ

The Mystery of our Salvation is contained within the Cross of our God and Savior Jesus Christ. And it is correct to say the “mystery of our salvation,” for what is contained there is more than a cosmic transaction (Christ pays for our sins): it is also the whole of our way of life. It is truly the mystery of our salvation. The extent of this mystery is hinted at in Christ’s…

Something from Nothing and the Apostolic Hypothesis

On September 8 the Orthodox Church celebrated the Nativity of the Mother of God. This is one of a number of feasts involving the life of the Virgin Mary, particularly during this time of the year. Many of the feasts mark events that are unfamiliar to many Christians, in that they are based on Tradition and have no direct account within the Scriptures. This would be especially troubling for some, if these…

The Secular Man and the Christian Man

Many Orthodox writers have spoken about the nature of the secular world, the defining form of modernity. I take here an opportunity to make a small comparison between the secular man and the Christian. The secular man may believe that there is a God, but he also believes that the situation and outcome of the world are dependent upon the actions of human beings. The Christian man believes that there is a…

Treasure in a Box

Suppose you had a great treasure and placed it in a box – locked tight – and kept the key to yourself. Others could desire the great treasure. The treasure could be given to them – though still in the locked box. Suppose, as well, that the content of the treasure is described in writings of those who have seen the treasure. But the box is locked. And now lets add about…

Fellowship and the Tower of Babel

I had an occasion last week to be confronted by a Protestant fundamentalist “street preacher.” Wearing a cassock and a cross in public clearly identifies me as a priest (though in this part of the world most people know nothing of Orthodox priests). It also makes you a target for some who want to have arguments about religion. Thus, last week, while doing work on the local university campus, I was approached…

To Walk in the Light

If we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have communion with one another, and the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin. For a variety of reasons, my thoughts have been drawn increasingly to the imagery within Scripture of darkness and light. It is powerful imagery that, for me, echoes the inner, existential experience of the Christian life. To walk in the light is to walk in…