- edited by Father Joseph Allen, Th.D.
I see three main issues which define our Orthodox Christian theology.
First, the doctrine of man in our theology is based on the biblical view which was fully defined by our Church Fathers. Man has all the potentialities for perfection, simply because he was created in the image of God. St. Maximus the Confessor states:
Those who followed Christ in action and contemplation will be changed into an even better condition, and there is no time to tell of all the ascents and revelations of the saints who are being changed from glory to glory, until each one in order receives deification.
Man was not created to be a slave, neither to society nor to history, neither to science nor to technology, neither to communism nor to capitalism. Even though nature has limitations, these limitations can be overcome by the sacramental life of the Church. Each and every one of us can become Christlike through prayer, contemplation, and action. St. Maximus further says:
While remaining in his soul and body entirely man by nature, he becomes in his soul and body entirely God by grace. Deification involves the whole human being.
All the ancient Greek dichotomy between body and soul disappears in St. Maximus. When God created man, He created him as a whole being, and when man collapsed, he collapsed not partially but as a whole being. Likewise, when man was redeemed, he was redeemed totally, body and soul. Through the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, God enters into union with the whole man.
The second issue is the theology of hope. While other Christians have focused their eyes on Calvary, we have focused ours on the empty tomb. Do we not experience this reality every year on Easter morning when we shout, “Christ is risen from the dead”? In I Corinthians 15:14, 22, St. Paul said: