I discovered Andrei Rublev’s The Trinity icon ten years ago and have been using this icon for prayer ever since. I especially turn to the Trinity (both the icon and the Father, Son and Spirit) during times of crisis.
Given the COVID-19 Pandemic, coupled with the racial violence that seems to have been magnified in 2020, contemplating the Trinity has been my refuge.
When I grieve the loss of lives due to COVID-19, I contemplate The Trinity, but I see something new: the Trinity is weeping.
Over the course of the past century, Augustine’s theology has been generally regarded by Orthodox as problematic at best and disastrous at worst. This is perhaps most obviously true where Augustine’s trinitarian thought is concerned, for it was in his treatise On the Trinity that Augustine so influentially advanced what one might call an early formulation of the filioque (i.e., the claim the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Son as well as the Father). By doing so, John Romanides and other Orthodox have argued, Augustine infected the Western tradition to follow him with the disease of “filioquism,” a disease whose theological repercussions extend far beyond the narrow domain of pneumatology. Indeed, for Romanides and his ilk, the filioque is not so much an isolated doctrinal error as it is a corrosive agent whose effect is to erode the trinitarian foundations upon which Christianity stands.
While not all Orthodox have been as extreme in their pronouncements as Romanides, Eastern theologians as noteworthy and influential as Vladimir Lossky have nevertheless shared Romanides’ overarching conviction that the broadly Augustinian pneumatology of the West poses a grave threat to Orthodoxy. In particular, according to both Lossky and Romanides, the filioque is fundamentally incompatible with theosis (“deification,”or divine-human communion), the doctrine at the very heart of Orthodox thought and practice. The verdict is therefore clear: a choice must be made between the (mutually exclusive) doctrines of filioque and theosis.
This is a claim, however, which has been called sharply into question by recent scholarship on Augustine. Continue Reading…
Bradley Nassif wrote a recent post for Public Orthodoxy that named gay marriage as one of the most pressing issues the church must deal with today. If we are to retain our younger members in particular, he said, then we must “articulate the reasons that the Christian theological vision requires marriage to constitute a union of man and woman.” Nassif is right about the urgency but wrong about the argument. If Orthodoxy is to survive the next generations, then it must articulate a Christian theological vision of marriage. Period. No matter where that vision takes us.
If it sounds as if I am leaving the door open for the church to bless same-sex unions, I am. If it sounds like I am advocating for it, I am not. My point is that, in my experience, people (especially younger people) are rarely persuaded when the questions one asks are pre-loaded with the answers one wants. Continue Reading…
Anyone watching the news today is aware that we are living in an age where secular forms of diversity and pluralism are valued over and above biblical truth. This applies especially to issues of gender and sexuality. Activists in the so-called LGBTQ movement have successfully challenged traditional Christian understandings of marriage and family in nearly every forum of American public life, including school curricula, the media, and the courts. Nowhere is this more evident than in the Supreme Court recognition of gay marriage.
At times, Orthodox responses have been knee-jerk in their opposition to same-sex marriage and the LGBTQ agenda. But a blunt rejection is woefully inadequate. A rebuke is no reply. If Christians have any hope of defending the sacred institution of marriage then they need to articulate the reasons that the Christian theological vision requires marriage to constitute a union of man and woman. Perhaps one of the most profound, yet often unrecognized, explanations for this lies in Christian teaching of the Trinity itself. Continue Reading…