Tag Archives: Eschatology

Falling into the Future: The Respite of Eschatological Awareness

by Very Rev. Dr. Isaac Skidmore

taking cake from oven
Image credit: iStock.com/Yaroslav_Astakhov

In his 1985 Being as Communion, Metropolitan John Zizioulas described two distinct, yet complementary notions of the Church’s Apostolic identity. The first pertains to the unbroken historical succession of bishops from the time of Christ—in other words the preservation of the Church’s identity through the faithful handing over of what was received in the past, which is what the word tradition (traditio in Latin, or paradosis in Greek) means. The second relates to the way the Apostles serve as an icon of what is yet to come—the ordering of the kingdom of God according to the pattern of the Twelve. From this perspective, the focus is not on the apostles as the historical figures per se, but on the image they convey to us of the ever-approaching eternal kingdom, that suggests itself to us in a variety of particular historical events, in a manner similar to how rough drafts foretell a final manuscript, or a sketch foretells a completed painting. This latter way of the Church identifying her apostolic identity can be called eschatological, in that it pertains to the nature of final things—where it is that all of creation is headed. To the extent Christ’s initial choosing of the apostles partakes of what is most-deeply real, it expresses something of the nature of eternity; thus, it is a reflection of what will become more and more evident as we approach the eschatological horizon, entering into the never-ending day of the kingdom. This perspective makes sense out of why the icon of Pentecost does not constrain itself to accurate historical depiction, including the Apostle Paul (who was not present at the historical event of Pentecost) as the twelfth apostle, rather than Matthias, who, according to Acts 1:16-26, would be historically warranted. The icon is governed by a theological purpose, and subordinates historical details to this end.

An analogy from television cooking shows might help us understand these two perspectives. The first part of the show, in which the chef demonstrates the preparation and mixing of the ingredients, corresponds with the approach in which identity is derived from history. The recipe depends on the initial ingredients, in proper proportion and handled in the proper way. If the ingredients or preparation are incorrect, the item being cooked will not be what it is supposed to be. Often, though, after demonstrating these first steps, the chef will pull out from the oven an example of the recipe that has already been completed. Seeing the completed product gives us a vision of our destiny, and informs and inspires our yielding to the process that brings us to this end. Someone who had never seen a completed cake may follow a recipe and procedure with commendable accuracy, yet produce something that looks quite different from a cake. On the other hand, someone who is familiar with what a cake looks like can, at some point, rely less on the directions for the recipe or procedure and aim their efforts towards what they know the final product is supposed to be.

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Schmemann for Our Time: Christ, the Crisis of Our Age

by Fr. Alexis Vinogradov | български | ქართული | Ελληνικά | Русский | Српски

Each year since his death in 1983, Father Alexander Schmemann’s legacy is evoked through an established annual lecture in his name at St. Vladimir’s, the theological seminary in New York in which his ideas flourished, nourishing generations of clergy and faithful and, through numerous publications and lectures, reaching the broader world. A permanent academic chair or annual event implies that the individual named represents a benchmark of thought and achievement for the institution, a legacy which his spiritual heirs are committed to honor and promote. Here, I ponder how Fr. Alexander might formulate the Church’s response to the crisis of our time.

In a foundational idea of his work, perhaps best expressed in his famous lecture, Between Utopia and Escape, Fr. Alexander advocates for the middle path between two extremes—a sectarian isolation from the real world at one pole, and at the other pole, its counterpart of “progress” towards an ephemeral secular utopia. Yet his proposed middle path is not a compromise between the two extremes, but rather the victory of an ascension out of both dead-ends towards an eschatological vision of the tangible, real world, the home of the Incarnate Lord of history.

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The Resurrection of Christ

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