Editorial, Theology

Mind the Gap: First Principles and Popular Theology

Theologizing in the internet era is a tricky business.  We can and must do better.

by Father John Cox

Rule of Faith‘s managing editor addressed the faculty and students of Saint Tikhon’s Orthodox Theological Seminary on October 13, 2020.

Your Eminence, your Grace, Reverend Fathers, esteemed seminarians, brothers and sisters in Christ, I happen to know that Father John Parker, the dean of this institution, loves ice cream. In his honor, I have structured my talk accordingly. Did you ever eat an ice cream sundae? The kind with scoops of ice cream piled up, with whipped cream on top of that, and with a cherry on top of that? Imagine that someone came along and flicked the cherry off the top of your sundae. You might reasonably weigh the consequences of second-degree homicide against this shocking display of immorality. (more…)

Editorial, Praxis, Theology

The Year of the Spoon

by Father John Cox

Orthodoxy is no stranger to theological disagreement. Our most fundamental doctrinal affirmations emerge from the forge of heated debates about the person and nature(s) of Christ and the hypostasis (or lack thereof) of the Holy Spirit. Among the many larger than life figures that belong to the story of these events Ss. Athanasius and Maximus the Confessor loom particularly large, not only for the theological acumen of their contributions, but also because of the pathos of their lonely struggle for Orthodoxy in the face of overwhelming opposition. But for every critical doctrinal dispute, (more…)

Praxis, Scripture, Theology, Volume 2

Descending to Ascend: Prayer as Initiation Into Divine Judgment in the Apophthegmata Patrum

The Parable of the Publican and the Pharisee has ever been a cornerstone of Orthodox spirituality. But as the Desert Fathers remind us, it has eschatological significance as well.

by Father Joseph Lucas

In Late Antique Christian monasticism, there existed an interplay between scriptural exegesis and the mystagogy of prayer. Reading the Bible through the lens of asceticism, the monks looked for keys to understanding their spiritual practices. There are numerous biblical passages that deal directly with prayer, such as Jesus’ directive to ‘go into your closet to pray,’ which is generally interpreted in ascetical literature as entering into the heart when praying. But other passages are more subtle, such as Luke 18: ‘The Parable of the Publican and the Pharisee.’ And yet this parable greatly influenced the way in which monks have understood prayer. (more…)

Theology, Volume 1

Nature, Person & Ascesis

An influential current of Orthodox thought has subtly undermined the teaching that nature is good. In so doing, it has also called into question the naturalness of ascetic striving. The patristic witness calls us to reclaim and embrace both nature and ascesis.

by Father Chrysostom Koutloumousianos

Ascesis stands at the heart of spiritual life, a praxis both internal and external. Internal praxis is the struggle against the passions and the cultivation of virtues through prayer, study, and meditation. External praxis is the same struggle through bodily work, including vigil, fasting, abstinence, moderation, and works of love. Such training involves the human person in the cultivation of human nature, toward the goal of spiritual life. But what is the connection between person, nature (physis), and ascesis, and how are they related to the goal of spiritual life?

Theology, Volume 1

Energies of the Trinity: The Energies as Tripersonal Communion in Gregory Palamas

The doctrine of the Divine Energies is significant not only as an account of how God manifests Himself to man, but also as a basis for understanding His trinitarian life.

by Thomas Hamilton

The Palamite controversy began with the Trinity.1 According to Barlaam, the filioque was impermissible because of divine apophaticism: the human creature lacked the capacity to apprehend the divine nature. As such, the question of the Spirit’s procession could not be answered even in principle. St. Gregory Palamas, while agreeing that the filioque was impermissible, rejected Barlaam’s reasoning. The filioque was condemned precisely because God has made himself manifest and participable. In partaking of the uncreated energies, Palamas argued, the Church comes to know Father, Son, and Spirit, one God. It is (more…)