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?
In a passage drawing on his readers’ experiences of Jewish and of pagan ritual sacrifice, St. Paul emphasizes the continuity of the Holy Eucharist with these familiar, though now superseded, practices.
by Father Stephen De Young
In response to what he viewed as not merely a malformation but a destruction of the Eucharist in Roman practice, John Calvin was dogmatic that the Eucharist is not a sacrifice. He preferred the terminology for the sacrament of “the Lord’s Supper” in order to present it as a meal, which he saw as standing in sharp contrast to the sacrificial conception. While Calvin himself consistently maintained that the Eucharist represented a real sacramental communion in the body and blood of Christ, this disassociation of sacrament and sacrifice led much of later Protestantism to reject even the sacramentality of the rite. (more…)
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. 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…)
Personalist philosophy is generally understood to have emerged in the middle of the last century. But an earlier antecedent of this important school of thought has been overlooked.
by Dylan Pahman
While the importance of thinkers such as N. Berdyaev, S. L. Frank, and other Russian émigrés to the development of twentieth-century personalist philosophy is widely acknowledged, one major influence on their respective religious philosophies is often overlooked in discussions of their contributions to personalism: the nineteenth-century Russian Orthodox philosopher Vladimir Soloviev. While Soloviev does not speak of himself as a personalist, several essential aspects of what came to be called personalism can be found in his thought: viz. the inviolable dignity of the human (more…)