Who was Fr John Romanides ?
”This outstanding university teacher and cleric has provided us with Dogmatics “of another kind”, beyond the familiar, scholastic models prevalent until that time; beyond academism and rationalism that were still weighing down our university theology. His words rephrased patristic teaching – something that did not involve a mere quoting of patristic excerpts, but a deeper penetration into the patristic spirit and their experience, from within their cardian association with our Triadic God.
These testimonials on fr. John Romanides, along with my own findings from the researching of his works, have convinced me that we can actually speak of a “pre-Romanides” and a “post-Romanides” era, University-wise. Because for the first time, university theology has become familiarized, through him, with its true linkage to the History and the Worship of the Orthodox Church, as the recording of the ecclesiastic body’s experience and its testification of life “in Christ”, and that theology is not the recording of an autonomized scientific knowledge that is devoid of any immediacy through the labours of the faithful for salvation.”
Protopresbyter Fr George Metallinos. (1940-2019).
Former Dean of the Athens University School of Theology.
In Fr John Romanides own words :
“My parents were from the Roman Castropolis of Arabissa, Cappadocia, where the Roman emperor Mauritius (582 – 602) was born, who appointed St. Gregory the Great (590-604) as Pope of Rome, and who in turn appointed Augustine as the first archbishop of Canterbury (597-604). I was born in Piraeus, on March 2, 1927. I left Greece and immigrated to America on May 15, 1927 with my parents, and grew up in New York City, Manhattan, on 46th Street between 2nd and 3rd Avenue.
I am a graduate of the Hellenic College of Brooklyn, Massachusetts, the Theological School of Yale University, Doctor of the Theological School of the National Kapodistrian University of Athens, and the School of Philosophy of Harvard University (School of Arts and Sciences). Emeritus Professor of the Theological School of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and Visiting Professor of the Theological School of St. John of Damascus of Balamand University, Lebanon since 1970. ”
We will add that he also studied at the Russian Seminary of St. Vladimir in New York, at the Russian Institute of St. Sergius in Paris and in Munich, Germany. He was ordained an elder in 1951 and has served as pastor of various parishes in the United States ever since. Between 1958 and 1965 he served as a professor at the Theological School of the Holy Cross, but resigned in 1965, protesting the removal of Fr. Georgios Florovsky from the School.
He was elected to the Dogmatic Headquarters at the Theological School of the University of Thessaloniki on June 12, 1968, but was not separated because he was accused of being a “communist”! He was finally appointed in 1970. In 1984, for personal reasons, he resigned in full, but it was not considered good to award him the title of Honorary, which also reveals the dysfunctions of our theological community.
He has written numerous studies, many of which are still unpublished and must be published in a series of volumes. Its remnants need to be insured because they have a lot to offer and reveal. His doctoral dissertation on the Original Sin was literally revolutionary, opening new avenues in our theology, and his books on Romiosyni, which were of equal importance to the field of History, followed. In both of these areas, Fr. John renewed his research and understanding.
His work and contribution to science have been systematically explored in Andrew Sopko’s doctoral dissertation, Prophet of Roman Orthodoxy – The Theology of John Romanides Canada 1998.
Equally great, however, was his contribution and contribution to our Church with his participation in the Theological Dialogues with Heterodox, especially with Anglicanism, but also with strangers (Judaism and Islam). The fact that his mother tongue was American (English), provided him with the comfort he needed, to develop with all precision the positions of our Church. In the Dialogue with the World Lutheran Federation (1978 et seq.) I had the opportunity to get to know him more deeply, to connect with him with strong friendship and most importantly for me, to truly become his student, beyond his many years of continuous study. his works. These Dialogues showed his extensive knowledge of the patriarchal tradition, but also of its forgeries, in the East and the West, and especially the knowledge of the Theology of St. Gregory of Palamas, a cornerstone of the Orthodox tradition.
Father John supported the relationship between theology and spiritual experience and the stations of the spiritual path of the Saints: purification – enlightenment – deification, as a condition of the Ecumenical Councils and their authentic acceptance, something that has been lost in the West, but also in our westernizing theological thought. This shift to paternity, as ecclesiastical authenticity, continued and complemented the corresponding move of Fr. Georgios Florovsky, whose course was followed in the ecumenical Dialogue, which was also often considered annoying and not an easy interlocutor. One day they will all write this, to show the superiority of the deceased, but also his true contribution to the international and universal presence of Orthodoxy, even if he often was left alone …
SEASON BEFORE AND AFTER ROMANIDES.
Considering his theological work, didactic, authorial, and militant, we are forced to speak of things, for a time before and after Fr. Romanides. Because it brought a real cut and rupture with our meticulous past, which served as a Babylonian captivity in our theology. His dissertation decisively sealed this renaissance, to the point that even these critics, for various reasons, or ideologically opposed to betraying in their writings the influence of Fr. John on their theological thought. Specifically, Fr. Ioannis:
a) He returned to the academic theological space the priority of the paternal empirical theology, setting aside the mental – contemplative – metaphysical way of theology,
b) He connected academic theology with worship and pro-Catholic tradition, demonstrating the interplay of theology and spiritual life and the pastoral-healing character of dogmatic theology.
c) He saw and adopted in the theological method the close link between doctrine and history and for this reason he was able to understand as few as possible the alienation and decline of theology in Western Europe, which took place with the Frankish conquest and imposition. A good knowledge of history, on the other hand, of Frankishness and Romiosyni (intended to be a professor of history at Yale) helped him to discern and analyze the difference between Frankish and Roman culture, introducing Roman keys to the study of our history and culture.
d) It thus helped the most complete research of Hellenism, outside the constructed western positions, with the correct – as fully substantiated – use of our historical names, their importance and dynamics in our historical course.
It is a fact that heterodox people recognized more than us the personality of Fr. John and his importance for Orthodoxy. He was considered the best Orthodox researcher of St. Augustine, who also helped Western theology in his understanding, and was described as “the greatest of all life of Orthodox theologians, whose writings are a critical study of Augustine’s work in the light of patriarchal theology. ” It should be noted that Fr. John’s owes a great deal of attention to the fact that the teaching of Barlaam of Calabria on the theological experiences of the prophets as “phenomena of natural, occurring and descended” dates back to the work of St. Augustine on the Trinity.