theology

Not a Belief System – An Asceticism

“A correct person is not one who says all the right things, but one who lives properly, in accordance with the Gospel.” – Elder Paisios of Mt. Athos

Incomparable

For our Creator incomparably presides over His creation from afar and
makes certain things exist but not live, and others exist and live but
not avail to discern anything about life, but others to exist, live and
discern. And the One makes all but is not divided in all. For He is
truly the Highest and never unlike Himself. But the soul, although she
is never diverse by nature, yet is diverse through thought. For in that
momentary beat in which she thinks about sight she forgets to think
about hearing, and in that in which she reflects on hearing or taste she
does not avail to ponder smell or touch, because she always becomes
unlike herself through cocentration and oblivion so that she holds now
this, now that in her thoughts. But Almighty God, because He is not
unlike Himself, sees with the virtue with which He hears all things and
creates with the virtue with which He judges creation. His attribute is
to see all things at the same time as He admininsters them, and to
administer as He perceives.

–The Homilies of Saint Gregory the Great On the Book of the Prophet
Ezekiel.

Demonic Knowledge

“Knowledge without praxis is the demons’ theology.” – St. Maximus the Confessor

An Academic on Theology

“The true Orthodox theologian is the one who has direct knowledge of some of God’s energies through illumination or knows them more through vision. Or he knows them indirectly through prophets, apostles and saints or through scripture, the writings of the Fathers and the decisions and acts of their Ecumenical and Local Councils.

…Theology is not abstract knowedge or practice, like logic, mathematics, astronomy and chemistry, but on the contrary, it has a poemical character like logistics and medicine. The former is concerned with matters of defense and attack through bodily drill and strategies for the deployment of weapons, fortifications and defensive and offensive schemes, while the latter is fighting against mental and physical illnesses for the sake of health and the means of restoring health.” – Fr. John Romanides in Theology as a Therapeutic Science

Orthodoxy vs. Monotheism

“We confess One God not in number, but in nature. For what is one in number is not really one, nor single in nature.” – St. Basil the Great

Theology as Theosis

“This aspect of theology is especially emphasized by St. Maximus the Confessor. According to Maximus, theology is the last and highest “stage” of spiritual development in man; it is the accomplishing mode of a Christian’s experience of deification. Maximus interprets this experience as a liturgical one, exercised by man in the world before God. As a culmination of this “cosmic liturgy,” man receives in grace God’s communication, that is, the knowledge of the Holy Trinity in theologia.” – p. 42 [Light from the East: Theology, Science, and the Eastern Orthodox Tradition, by Alexei V. Nesteruk]

“It is clear from this passage that theology for Maximus–that is, the knowledge of God as he is in himself–is granted only in the mystical union with God, at the last stage of deification, which is not an instant act but is preceded by a long spiritual development (katharsis). This highest state of union with God was granted to saints–for example, to Moses, who on the Sinai mountain, entered the mysterious darkness of God, and to apostles at the mountain of transfiguration. Developing this insight by Maximus, St. Gregory Palamas argued later that it is the saints who are the only true theologians, for only they received the full communion with God: “Through grace God in His entirety pentrates saints in their entirety, and the saints in their entirety penetrate God entirely. By virtue of the saints and the Faithers, theology acquires, so to speak, an extended historical dimension, because “the Fathers are liturgical persons who gather around the heavenly altar with the blessed spirits. Thus they are always contemporary and present for the faithful.” This is why Patristic theology is the living, incarnate Orthodox faith, which never agest and is always present in the mind of the church.” – p. 42, Ibid.

Theology vs. Academics

“We see that this approach to theology, based on the personal and ecclesial experience of God, makes it clear that authentic Patristic theology radically differs from what is understood by the term theology among modern academics.” – p. 42, [Light from the East: Theology, Science, and the Eastern Orthodox Tradition, by Alexei V. Nesteruk]

“According to The Philokalia’s definition, in order to receive a gift of theologia one must be nearly a saint.” – p. 43, Ibid.

Apophasis

“Now the divine nature, as it is in itself, according to its essence, transcends every act of comprehensive knowledge and it cannot be approached or attained by our speculation. Men have never discovered a faculty to comprehend the incomprehensible; nor have we ever been able to devise an intellectual technique for grasping the inconceivable. For this reason the great Apostle calls God’s ways unsearchable (Rom. 11:33), teaching us by this that the way that leads to the knowledge of the divine nature is inaccessible to our reason; and hence none of those who have lived before us has given us the slightest hint of comprehension suggesting that we might know that which in itself is above all knowledge.” – St. Gregory of Nyssa.