Category Archives: Theology

If This Is the End, I Will Know It Is Not Love An Excerpt from a Conversation with Bishop Maxim (Vasiljevic) of Western America

His Grace Bishop Maxim (Vasiljevic)  |  српски

In European cities, the period of anticipation of the joyous feast of Christmas has turned into a commercial and consumerist custom. Why are we so far away from an authentic approach to the feast?

There will always be a number of those who see in Christmas another opportunity to evoke the past and traditionalism, which returns to the past by “protological” mindset. Man aspires to archetypes. However, I would say that those who are faithful among us are also responsible for the commercialization of Christmas. We have begun to look for symbolism in the “past” (the cave, the fire, and such) by conjuring up the atmosphere of the Bethlehem cave. We have contributed to directing the meaning of the holiday to the past, and not the future. The entire event of the Birth of Christ—by which, as we know, the New Testament begins—is in the sign of future events: the God-child has come to save the human race, but its salvation is not completed by the incarnation of God alone, but by the events that follow, such as the Resurrection and Pentecost. This perspective requires another set of eyes and logic far from an archetype point of view but instead from an “eschatotype”. With such a perspective, Christmas is connected not with a romantic winter night, but with a startling desire for salvation from death.

The thought of a Polish writer Stanisław Jerzy Lec, which goes: “the most difficult time for the truth is the one in which everything can be truth”, seems to be valid for our time as well? Continue reading

The Resurrection of Christ Its Biblical Interpretation and Consequences for the World

by Petros Vassiliadis  |  ελληνικά

What is the reason for defining the event of the Resurrection of Christ as “Radiant”—“Lampri”? And what makes the faithful exclaim in the words of Saint John Damascene: “This is the day of resurrection, let us be radiant O people: Pascha, the Lord’s Pascha. For Christ our God has passed us from death to life, and from earth to heaven, we who sing the song of victory” (Katavasia of Pascha)?

It is undoubtedly, the conviction of the Orthodox the world over, but also of all Christians, that fear of death was vanquished: “Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and to those in the tombs, He has granted life,” triumphantly exclaims one of the oldest, together with the Phos hilaron (Gladdening light), hymns of the Christian Church.

However, the true fact of death, the result of man’s fall, and of his free choice to disobey God and thus break communion with Him, was not abolished. Death, as human being’s ultimate enemy, “will be the last enemy to be destroyed” in the words of Apostle Paul (1 Corinthians 15:26). By means of their faith in the Resurrection of the Son and Word of God, the faithful will be able to live true life, “in abundance of life” according to John the Evangelist: (I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly, John 10:10). This is the life, rid of the catalytic influence of the devil, that God gave to humanity by the Resurrection of Christ, who “did trample down death and did abolish the devil” (the correct wording of the euchologion in the funeral service).

By His death Christ did abolish the devil that until then had the power of death, thus liberating humanity that used to be enslaved by their fear of death. Continue reading

Lent as Liberation

by Perry T. Hamalis

How would you describe Orthodox Christianity in one word?

This question was posed to a panel of scholars at a Theology conference several years ago. A few of the panelists gave their answers—offering responses like “Liturgy,” “Authentic,” “Theosis,” and “Traditional.” Then the final panelist, Metropolitan Kallistos Ware, gave his reply: “Freedom,” he said, “Orthodoxy is freedom.”

“Freedom” certainly wasn’t the answer that most of us were expecting. Oftentimes, Orthodox Christianity seems like the opposite of freedom…it seems firm, rigid, full of canons and long services. It seems conservative, not liberal, unchanging, not free-flowing. Especially during Lent, many Orthodox feel burdened by the restricted diet, the heavy schedule of services, and the increase in philanthropic activities.

Yet, I’ve become more and more convinced that “freedom” is the best one-word description of Orthodoxy, and that, properly understood, Lent is Liberation. Continue reading

Apostates and Romantics: Further Thoughts on Modern Traditionalism

by Kyle M. Nicholas

In a recent post, Aristotle Papanikolaou argues that the terms “traditionalism,” “traditionalist,” and “Orthodox morality” are unhelpful identifiers. For Papanikolaou, these terms construct a false traditional/non-traditional dichotomy that conceals the fact that everybody belongs to some tradition. The real question is what the presuppositions of one’s tradition are, and consequently “the implications of presuppositions or beliefs held in common by those who adhere to [that] tradition.” The logic of purity that underlies attempts to constrict “tradition” to narrowly-defined doctrinal and moral positions animates much of Papanikolaou’s essay. I want to extend Papanikolaou’s argument further by introducing two spiritual temptations of those who claim “tradition” for their own side as part of the culture wars, especially in the US.

The philosopher Max Scheler once called those who hold their deepest beliefs from a place of “intrinsic meaning and worth” the “resurrected.” Particularly apt examples of the “resurrected” are the saints, who love God for God’s own sake. Yet, in addition to this “resurrected” type, there are today a considerable amount of what Scheler calls the “apostate” and “romantic” types. For Scheler, to be either an apostate or a romantic is a particular form of spiritual resentment. Continue reading