The Acts of the Apostles speaks often about the social work of the Church through recurring concepts such as koinonia, mercy, hospitality and philanthropy. This paper deals with the ways that the Book of Acts promotes harmony in conditions of diversity (such as religious, cultural, or political pluralism). Several texts will be compared and interpreted to draw a clear picture of the Church’s call to serve the world and to witness Christian Faith in words and deeds. The world can be healed with the power of the Divine Word. This does not happen only by preaching and teaching, but also by acting and caring for the needed and the poor. The theological narrative of Acts shows how the Christian faith - the Way, as Luke likes to call it - grants a new understanding of reality and calls people to break the rules of worldly wisdom and to behave according to the wisdom of the Kingdom, where the principles of social relation are redefined through the lens of the Resurrection.
Acts of the Apostles - social work - Church - mission - Religious ethics - Doctrinal Theology
According to the Orthodox Theology, holy Icon is a reality of knowledge and vision of God. The icon is an embodiment of the love of God, thus the central theological ground of the veneration of icons is a Christological one. For the theology of the icon, the concept of the face as a reflection of the prototype is central. The specificity of the Orthodoxy shows us that Theology is the science of the complete knowledge with a direct existential implication of the only truth about life-Maker, iconically expressed by God – Holy Trinity. The theological background of knowledge is essentially of ecclesial nature, as a gracious ambience in which the Divine Revelation represents the power of Truth. That is why Church is the guarantee and the authenticity of the free and infallible knowledge of the divine truth which it internally possesses.
Orthodox Theology - con - Church - vision and knowledge of God - Religious ethics - Doctrinal Theology
Immediately after death, the soul plunges into a light at the same time tender and lucid, allowing the soul to see his life again, to understand its innermost depths. It is that sensation of both wellness and pain that you experience every time a spiritually brilliant being is scrutinzing your soul, easily penetrating the ugliness of your character. This purifying sleep is not at all a state of unconsciousness. Death sets the person free from this leather costume in which we were enfolded the moment we went out of the paradisiac condition and by means of which we have been directed from transparent participation toward the universe. The shapes, the faculties, the senses of the body, aspired by the infinite, become interiorized and it is no longer the soul inside the body, but the body inside the soul. The senses that have become spiritualized, the perfect memory permit true personal meetings, not just between the dead, but also between the dead and the living. The place of these encounters can only be Christ, this centre toward Whom all the lines converge, Christ in Whom we are all one another’s limbs. The prayer of the Church facilitates and accompanies the exode of the soul.
hour of death - eternal life - soul - body - hymnography. - Religious ethics - Doctrinal Theology
Unfortunately, about the nominal remembrance of believers, aloud, during the evening service (that is, at Vespers) was written very little in our country, and not in a decisive manner. That is why I want to emphasize that the analysis of this theme calls for a much larger type of research, which the present study does not consider; However, we will try to point out some aspects of this usance. What can be said about this practice is that within the structures of Byzantine rite the remembrance of the living and the dead during the evening service has “survived” only in the rule of the Lity, which indeed, was “included” in the Vespers structure but also in the Compline’s.
Vespers - evening service - remembrance - believers - liturgical practice - Religious ethics - Doctrinal Theology
Hesychasm is the spiritual way of living characteristic of Eastern Christianity. It started out in the monastic area and then spread out among the other believers, giving them all the possibility to have access to the highest form of mysticism. Hesychasm relies on two fundamental principles of the Christian-Orthodox doctrine: that of man’s deification in Christ, supported and formulated by the Greek Church Fathers, and the practical experience of the Desert Fathers, who put into practice the continual prayer. The prayer “of the heart” is an expression of the Holy Spirit, an exercise needed to enter in communion with the essence of life, of union with God. Hesychasm is nothing else but a form of recovering the peace of the Spirit, a spiritual way finding its attainment in the intimate communion with God.
Even though on Religion and Science opposition an impressive amount of blood has been shed, today many scientists, philosophers, and theologians throughout history have seen compatibility or independence between the two domains of thinking. The complex but enduring relationship between the sciences and diverse world religions has now transformed itself into what some are calling a new scholarly field of science and religion. In the last two decades public awareness of and interest in this complex and often contentious relationship between science and religion has reached an unprecedented level. All religious traditions and all forms of scientific work have something to gain as well as lose in the process of mutual interaction, and the historical record demonstrates profound and longstanding engagement between science and religion in all literate cultures.
The Orthodox theological worldview often finds itself confronted by the unspoken nihilism of empiricism, with little common ground for dialogue. This article establishes that common ground for discursive exchange through exploring the apophatic aspects of Kantian transcendental theology, which in turn can become a bridge to the Orthodox negative theology. Kant drew continental thought along certain foundational lines with his critique of pure reason and transcendental idealism; it was his way to locate empirical science with respect to the perceptual foundations of thought, which are properly understood philosophically. In this project, Kant would seek to secure the Christian faith in the transcendental—i.e., that which underlies all empirical experience. Even so, certain openings to traditional religious mysticism are also to be found in his project, particularly with respect to transcendental theology. This article explores these Kantian foundations for an apophatic transcendental theology in relation to the hesychastic writings of Gregory of Sinai, Gregory Palamas, and Nikitas Stithatos. This in turn becomes a new inroad for dialogue with empirical science.
Apophatic Theology - Science and Religion - Immanuel Kant - Transcendental Theology - Hesychasm - Gregory of Sinai - Gregory Palamas - Nikitas Stithatos - Religious ethics - Doctrinal Theology
Father Arsenie Papacioc lived his life in the middle of many transformations of the Romanian nation, passing from the “fascination” of the Legionary Movement to “the foolishness” of monastic life. He had the experience of the prisons of different periods of the regimes in Romania, but also of the wilderness, getting to represent the life of the Orthodox Church prior to, under and after the communism. For this reason, Father Arsenie’s life is intertwined with the lives of many remarkable cultural, political and especially ecclesial characters of the history of the Romanian society, from the Patriarch Justinian to the Archimandrites Cleopa Ilie and Ioanichie Bălan, from the community of the monasteries Cozia, Tismana (Cioclovina Skete), Sihăstria, Antim, Slatina, Neamț, Cheia, Căldărușani, Dintr-un Lemn, Cernica and Techirghiol to the members of the Burning Bush Movement, from the multitude of believers to hierarchs of the Orthodox Church of Romania, from the parish of Filea de Jos (then Filea de Sus, as well) and those of Orthodox faith to those of other religious denominations and convictions. Thus, Father Arsenie marked the epoch he lived in by the proper arrangement of his spiritual life at the measure of holiness, receiving many charismata from the God glorified as the Holy Trinity.
Father Arsenie Papacioc - communist regime - prisons - wilderness - spiritual life - Orthodox Church - monastic life - The Burning Bush Movement (Mișcarea Rugul Aprins) - Religious ethics - Doctrinal Theology
A remarkable spiritual personality, unanimously acknowledged, the archimandrite father Sofian was known and appreciated especially for three qualities or gifts that God had bestowed upon him: as a worthy church painter, preacher and chanter with a divine calling. His rare kindness, his modesty, his composure, his endless patience and his theological culture are features that make up his spiritual portrait. The homiletic activity conducted by the archimandrite father produced a volume entitled Collected Speeches. Sermons and Meditations, which includes together many of the sermons and meditations through which Father Sofian fervently preached the Savior’s Gospel and its embodiments in the lives of Christians. His sermons have a regular form, and consist of three parts – the introduction, usually very short, intended to present the topic to the audience, followed by the body of the sermon which covers several pages, and the conclusion, which often includes an exhortation based on teachings extracted from the respective sermon. The three composing parts are not separated formally, but rather they derive naturally from one another.
father Sofian - Collected Speeches - Sermons and Meditations - Antim Monastery - sermons - Religious ethics - Doctrinal Theology
Alexios I Komnenos has been characterized as a gifted military leader. Nevertheless, apart from his military career and after he took the throne, Alexios proceeded to certain measures in order to revive an empire in condition of decline. Alexios established himself as a defender of Orthodoxy, since he helped monasticism, fought heresies and supported the building or renewal of foundations, such as monasteries and churches. In this paper, I deal with Alexios’ church policy and how he defended Orthodoxy.
The issue of the origin of the world was one of the most controversial chapters in the dispute between science and religion, for it was reduced until recently to the confrontation between two theories: creationism and evolutionism, the latter claiming the scientific nature. But whether it's creationism or evolutionism, both theories disregard the presence and continuous work of God in creation. In terms of philosophical and religious point of view, creationists are rather deist because they consider God being transcendentally isolated, while evolutionists lean more towards pantheism, believing that the world exists from eternity. Unlike science, the theonomist cosmology of the Eastern Church does not launch into speculation about the origin and movement of the world, but starts from a divine gift, i.e. from biblical narration, which she does not ignore even when engaging a dialogue with the theories of scientific cosmology. The arguments of Orthodox Christian theology proof that the quantum universe was created “out of nothing” and that it’s kept in existence only by God's relationship with creation through Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. In relation to itself, the universe is reduced to nothing, because God is in Himself, while any other created thing is dependent upon Him, into an indissoluble connection with Him. From the perspective of quantum physics, the genesis of the universe involves the image of a void space, serving as a stage for the material world.
origin - world - science - Big-Bang - ‘creatio ex nihilo’ - God hypothesis - cosmology - nflationary universe - quantum theory - Religious ethics - Doctrinal Theology
Many scholars in modernity have accused Saint Paul either for an unrestricted obedience to civil authorities (Rom 13), or for surrendering the divine gift of freedom and human dignity and accepting the status of slavery (1 Cor 7:21; Phlm), or for implying the subordination of women (1 Cor 14:34ff.; Eph 5:22; Col 3:18; etc.). I am referring of course to the well known household codes (Haustafeln, Col 3:18ff. and parallels). It was mainly these cases that gave rise to the criticism that Paul (or the Pauline school) did not resist with all his power as he should to the socio-political status quo of his time, and that he and his school, and Christianity thereafter, tolerated unjust social institutions and structures.
Saint Paul - man - freedom - Christianism - social transformation - Religious ethics - Doctrinal Theology
Man has been created at the crossroads between the material and the spiritual things, being given the greatest honour among creatures, since he is the only one edified in God’s image and likeness. With Saint Gregory, the image does not mean, as in Platonism, the rough analogy of the sensitive world in relation to the intelligible world, but participation, a communion, yet without supposing a transfer of substance. There are two levels of the image in his theology: Christ – Logos of the Father, archetypal image, on this level the image supposing the very communion of nature, the hypostatizing of the unique divine being, and man – image of the Logos, level on which the image supposes the ontological distinction, yet simultaneously, by its quality of direct image, of non-mediated reflection, is a faithful image, this image containing in itself precisely the promise of communion, though, by its character, it has to define the eternity of the distinction between created and uncreated.
man - world - divine image - philosophy - Saint Gregory of Nyssa - holiness - Religious ethics - Doctrinal Theology
The purpose of this paper is to analyse the theological reflection on the relationship between man and cosmos. The origin of the world and man is connected to God; God is the Creator and consequently the Author of them both. Unlike dualistic materialistic thinking, according to the Christian conception the whole cosmos is created by God. In search for the cosmos an important chapter was granted for man, considered to be a synthesis of the world. Man, from the theological perspective, is the personal, rational, free, and speaking being that has – through the image of God according to which he has been created –, the tension after perfection. But it pertains exclusively to the relationship with Christ in the light of Whom he really knows himself, and by knowing himself he recognizes the infinite beauty of the Archetype. This is the existential-theological truth, which the content of this paper emphasizes, according to the Bible and patristic teaching.
man - world - cosmos - philosophy - theology - Christianity - Religious ethics - Doctrinal Theology
When we talk about the redeeming work of our Savior Jesus Christ, we have in view His three ministries: that of teacher or prophetic, the one of overseer (archbishop) and that of leader or king. These three ministries define His redeeming work, which is one and unique and is turned to the human nature that He assumed and then to all of us, who are His fellows, and, at the same time, to God as sacrificial attitude, Christ being “the Lamb of God, Who wipes away the world’s sin” (Jn. 1: 29) and brings to us our reconciliation with God the Father.Our Savior Christ has fulfilled His ministry as a teacher directly, namely preaching He Himself the truth of the Evangel, yet, in an indirect manner, His work has been continued, in the Church, through the Apostles and their followers, the bishops and priests whom the Holy Spirit will illuminate for an uninterrupted and correct preaching of the divine truth, until the end of the centuries, according to the commandment that He has given to His disciples: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit; teaching them to observe everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you all the days, to the end of the age. Amen.” (Mt. 28: 19-20).
Evangel - teaching - Savor - example - theology - Religious ethics - Doctrinal Theology
While, in the 19th century, many servants of the monastic settlements left Wallachia and Moldova, because of the measures taken there, the situation was nevertheless different in the 18th century, when monks from different areas inhabited by Orthodox Christians came to the Romanian Countries, where they encountered an uninterrupted reality of hesychastic renewal started by Saint Gregory of Sinai (1255-1346), due to the fact that the Romanians had known another cultural continuity, different from what had happened, until that century, in the Greek Byzantine or in the Slav world. This reality explains why the revitalization of the hesychastic and spiritual life in the areas north of the Danube is related, in the 18th century, to the Saints Basil of Poiana Mărului (1692-1767) and Paisius Velichkovsky or Wieliczkowski of Neamţ (1722-1794), both of them arrived from the Slav world in the Romanian extra-Carpathian territories. Saint Basil founded many hermitages and trained many disciples in the practice of the prayer of the mind or of the heart, becoming known as a great teacher of this prayer, in the modern times. Just as the Holy Fathers of Mount Sinai (Gregory, Philotheos, Hesychios), but also from other parts of the Byzantine world (Saint Symeon the New Theologian, Saint Gregory Palamas etc.), once again, he draws the attention not just of the monks but also of the lay people on the prayer of the heart, so that in the 19th century it was not the teaching of Saint Paisius on the practice of the prayer of the heart that prevailed, but the teaching of Saint Basil, followed especially in the Romanian and in the Russian tradition. Regarding the monastic life, the activity of Starets Basil can be characterized by the ecumenicity of the Orthodox faith, due to the fact that, on the one hand, he brought together monks from the Romanian and the Slav area, and, on the other hand, he contributed to the enrichment of the Romanian monasticism through the cultivation of the spirit of two Holy Mounts, Athos and Sinai.
Saint Basil of Poiana Mărului - Paisius Velichkovsky or Wieliczkowski - hesychasm - Wallachia - Moldova - monasticism - Orthodox faith - ecumenicity - Religious ethics - Doctrinal Theology
Humans have studied and have been studying ceaselessly the universe, trying to find out our place in this mysterious cosmos, learning all the time something and as we believe that we have established something, there are other question marks to come. This is probably due to our inability to know everything. Science sometimes seeks and finds answers but not cease to be amazed, to bow before the mystery. However we must accept that there are countless ways to approach the differences between the possibilities of knowledge for understanding the universe
Universe - Man - Expansion - Atom - Time - Big Bang - Religious ethics - Doctrinal Theology
The purpose of this work is to analyse the contribution of the Jewish doctor Isaac Israeli to the medieval reflection on the relationship between man and the cosmos. To this end, starting from the methodological change proposed by al-Yabri for the study of classical Arabic philosophy, I question the usual characterization of the Jewish author as being merely an eclectic thinker, and indicate the most noteworthy aspects of his position. The philosophical texts that have come down to us reveal a philosopher who participates in the great debates of his time, among them: the relation between philosophy and revelation and the nature of the human intellect. Beyond the prophetic aspect, Israeli points to a special logic based on the ability to argue evoking images, a universal way that facilitates the compression of a complex idea or promotes the performance of an action.
Early Christianity could enumerate only a very limited number of higher educational institutions. One of the best known is Origen’s “academy” in Caesarea (Palestine). Gregory the Wonderworker wrote a speech of praise, ‘Oratio panegyrica’, to his professor when leaving the school after many years of study. The speech illustrates a number of interesting facts about the professor, the students, and the curriculum. The low number of students made it possible to achieve a very close relationship between the teaching staff and the students. The teacher was very much a spiritual father and a friend. Gregory thought that Origen was an example of a godlike person, and thus also an example to be followed. The likeness of God consisted first of all in likeness with God’s Logos. A person living in accordance with reason lives the life of God. The students participating in the tuition provided by Origen came from respectable classes of the society. Both men and women could participate, both young and grown-up people. Many can be classified as seekers, that is, persons looking for an intellectually acceptable world-view.
Origen of Alexandria - Gregory the Wonderworker - Plotinus the Platonist - Biblical hermeneutics - mago Dei - Religious ethics - Doctrinal Theology
The mysticism of the Orthodox Church provides spiritual fulfillment of man in three stages: purification, enlightenment or knowledge, and perfection or union with God. Purification is the removal of passions and their replacement with virtues. For example, the philokalic texts, which are a collection of texts written by 25 Holy Fathers, form a true handbook containing various themes, but all of them educate on “the love of divine beauty” or “the love of virtue”, as the etymology of the chosen title for the compilation. Of these, the study of the mind and its dynamics is a predilection for most authors, some of whom have offered real treatises on this subject. This study limits the presentation of some Church Fathers who have spoken of this argument. The mind is a place where good and evil thought stake on a continuous struggle that positively or negatively influences human behaviour and closeness to God. For this reason, man’s special attention is needed on the mind, that is, a permanent nepsis.
Philokalia - Orthodox - Nepsis - Mind - Vigilance - Heart - Self - Religious ethics - Doctrinal Theology
Secularization is a phenomenon supposing major mutations on the social level. Thus, based on the principle of rationality, secularization has led to the removal of religion from the social sphere, the desacralization, aiming, ultimately, that the sacred disappear altogether from man's life. Within the globalizing-secularizing society, economics seeks to take possession of the entire social and spiritual life, helped by a policy-aggressive mercantile mentality. Secularization has led to manipulation of man so that he believes he has to build his future by abstaining from religion. The secularized man has come to the conclusion that only by his own forces helped by reason, economy and technology he can be the one who creates progress, namely perfection for himself and for the world he lives in. The hypermodern man is a man of ephemerality, a human being looking for his accomplishment in trifles, who no longer has deification as his final goal. The problems that man is facing today can be solved by taking the eternity as reference system for them.