The attributes discussed last chapter -- infinity, eternity, supraspatiality, omnipotence -- were formal “structural” attributes that could be experienced “externally.” They could be observed in what is commonly called “general revelation.” But the attributes discussed in this chapter (omniscience, justice and mercy, holiness and love) are experienced “internally,” through the spirit of man. They are the manifestations of what God is in His essence, in which the “self-sacrifice” of the Three Persons is absolutely complete, so that there is no movement to cover any interval, but there is, instead, a “stability.” Frequently, Staniloae is not at all shy about saying that God “cannot” do something. When he says that God “cannot” do something -- like “he cannot make them to be as he himself is, that is uncreated and sources of existence” (p216) -- we misinterpret “cannot” as a limitation, and as a contradictory constraint upon God’s infinity. Actually, however, the “cannot” refers to the infinitely transcendent gulf between the created and the Creator, and so the “cannot” -- far from being a contradiction of the infinite -- is actually an enlarging indicator of the infinite. The spiritual attributes which “bridge” this gulf between … Continue Reading ››
Neagoe Basarab and his wife, Milica Despina; Below (from the left to the right): Petru, Ioan, Teodosie, Angelina, Ruxandra and Stana, their children. The worthy Voivode Neagoe will be, toward the end, cited with less than unbridled enthusiasm.(reflections on the 8th chapter of Staniloae's The Experience of God) Salvation is the only reason for theological thinking. Theology cannot be an activity without this being the ultimate concern. If theology were only a series of facts, or even propositions, then it would be information, but not theology. On the other hand, theology is, in its widest sense, salvation itself. Knowing God -- that is, detaching our attention from lesser things, recognizing His beauty in all creation and finally entering into complete communion with the Holy Trinity -- comprises spirituality. In turn, spirituality is the experience of, and is aimed at, nothing less than the deification of the the soul, and with it the body: only in this sense can we say, with confidence, that salvation is deification, and deification is salvation through the Cross. Fr Dumitru Staniloae, mainly following St Maximos the Confessor, puts salvation at the very center of his dogmatic theology. But salvation is presented here in … Continue Reading ››
There is a group that I chat with frequently. It consists of several priests and a layperson, three intellectuals and one wannabe (that would be me). We talk about topics far-ranging and fascinating, from patristics to theology to musical tastes to some of the best poetry known to man (I admit, they lose me there...). Last Friday, after the rest of the gang went off to bed, a discussion was continued between two of us about the need to revisit the Orthodox funeral service. I'm not going to get into details, but the main point was that there should be less emphasis on being food for worms and a greater emphasis on resurrection, and the new heaven and the new earth - the major points of emphasis found in the New Testament, but not so clear in the Orthodox funeral service. My partner in conversation was Fr. Matthew Baker. How sadly ironic that eight days after our discussion that service will be said for him. I had only known Fr. Matthew for half a year. He and I were introduced through mutual friends and through a mutual interest in … Continue Reading ››
The loss of Fr Matthew Baker to our small Fellowship is inestimable. He was for me, personally, one of the great hopes for articulating the theological vision that we try to articulate here at the Fellowship. He was also one of my closest friends. His scholarship, priesthood, and friendship will be missed by us. More importantly he will be missed by his wonderful widow and his incredible children. Our Church has suffered greatly in losing this incredible man. Please join us in mourning him and praying for the repose of his soul. Please if you can help his family with a monetary donation. Who Fr Matthew was has been captured very well in Fr. Andrew's post here, "We need more Spiritual Brothers" and by Heirodeacon Herman here, "The Life of Fr. Matthew Baker is a Triumph of Orthodoxy". We have an incredible inheritance to live up to in the work that Fr. Matthew left for us. Let us be found worthy of this calling.