Vincent of Lérins and the Catholicity of the Church

On May 24, the Orthodox Church commemorates Vincent of Lérins, a fifth century Gallic monk. St. Vincent spent the earlier part of his life as a Roman soldier, later converting to Christianity and accepting a monastic vocation. He lived his remaining years at the castle monastery on the island of Lérins in the French Riviera. Leaving only a solitary written work behind, St. Vincent’s Commonitorium (ca. A.D. 434) is a treatise on the “catholicity”…

Great and Holy Friday: The Death of God

Jesus died. What sort of a eulogy could be given for such a man? What sort of obituary could possibly be written? Here lies one homeless man, without a wife, without children, with no employer, with no college degrees. He has no articles published. He has written no books. His own countrymen are the ones who rejected him and gave him up to death. Those who followed him for awhile, abandoned him. He’s…

Five Principles for Reading the Old Testament

The Old Testament can be confusing. It’s very long, and unfamiliar to most Christians. Many reading it cannot see how it points to the coming of Jesus. Most modern biblical scholarship makes this worse, as it asserts that the Old Testament is a complex of contradictory theologies that tell us more about the culture of the Near East than it tells us about Christ, if it tells us anything about Christ at…

Carrying the Cross and Suffering in Hope

Jesus didn’t suffer so that we wouldn’t have to. He suffered so that we could handle suffering with him. In other forms of Christianity, one is often told that Christ suffered and died so that we could be freed from a similar fate. A focus in Protestant theology is Christ appeasing the wrath of the Father, freeing us from a rightful punishment. But for the Greek fathers and Orthodox Christianity, the focus is largely on Christ as the…

Triumphalism and the Church Triumphant

Every student of Church history knows that history is messy. There was never a ‘Golden Age’ of the Church, nor will there ever be one before the Last Day. And yet, as Orthodox Christians, we believe that the Church is the one, true Body of Christ. We believe that she is the pleroma or ‘fullness’ of God (Eph. 1:23), the pillar and foundation of the truth (1 Tim. 3:15), and a temple of the living…

The Beauty of Logos: Towards an Orthodox Aesthetic

What is the purpose of ‘beauty’ in the Eastern Orthodox faith? Are these mere externals, or is there something deeper behind our colors, shapes, and forms? We could start by considering Dostoevsky’s famous line (from The Idiot): Beauty shall save the world. “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?” (John 6:60) Struggling with this very task, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn remarks: What does this mean? For a long time it used to seem to me…

Theosis and Justification in Paul’s Second Letter to the Corinthians

Reading the Bible as an Orthodox Christian post-Protestantism can be difficult. Even as one’s views of God, Christ, sin, and salvation dramatically shift, old reading habits can stubbornly persist. More than once I have encountered converts who simply have no idea how to read St. Paul consistently with the Orthodox faith. I believe that such a reading is not only possible, but is also the best possible reading, even without reference to the Fathers.…

Israel and the Church: Why Does It Matter?

There is an effort among many Christian scholars today to revise the traditional approach to the question of Israel’s identity. These scholars argue that the Church must be subtly distinguished from the ‘actual Israel’ in order to do justice to the voice of the Old Testament. But I will argue that this position must be rejected, not simply because it is our tradition, but also because the identity of Israel and the Church undergirds the very messianic claims of…