Vladimir Lossky: Chapter Three: Original sin . From Orthodox Theology.Copyright St Vladimir Seminary Press. Reproduced with permission by St Vladimir Seminary Press.

Copyright St Vladimir Seminary Press

This wonderful introduction is out of print at St Vladimir ! It’s a shame how we don’t listen to the great theologian’s , elders and saints from the the 20th century. I coudn’t find a single book by Fr John Romanides at Holy Cross seminary bookstore !!!! Please correct me if I’m wrong .

St Gregory the Theologian: ORATION 38 On the Nativity of Christ

1  Christ is born, give glory; Christ is from the heavens, go to meet him; Christ is on earth, be lifted up. “Sing to the Lord, all the earth,”1 and, to say both together, “Let the heavens be glad and let the earth rejoice,”2 for the heavenly one is now earthly.3 Christ is in the flesh, exult with trembling4 and joy; trembling because of sin, joy because of hope. Christ comes from a Virgin; women, practice virginity, that you may become mothers of Christ. Who would not worship the one “from the beginning”?5 Who would not glorify “the Last”?6

2  Again the darkness is dissolved, again the light is established,7 again Egypt is punished by darkness.8 Again Israel is illumined by a pillar.9 Let the people sitting in the darkness of ignorance see a great light10 of knowledge. “The old things have passed; behold, all things have become new.”11 The letter withdraws, the spirit advances;12 the shadows have been surpassed,13 the truth has entered after them. Melchizedek is completed, the motherless one becomes fatherless; he was motherless first, fatherless second.14 The laws of nature are dissolved. The world above must be filled. Christ commands, let us not resist. “All nations, clap your hands,”15 “for to us a child is born, and to us a son is given, the power is on his shoulder,” for he is lifted up along with the cross, and he is called by the name “angel of great counsel,” that of the Father.16 Let John proclaim, “Prepare the way of the Lord.”17 I myself will proclaim the power of this day. The fleshless one takes flesh, the Word is made coarse, the invisible one is seen, the impalpable one is touched, the timeless one makes a beginning, the Son of God becomes Son of Man,18 “Jesus Christ, the same yesterday and today and for the ages.”19 Let Jews be scandalized, let Greeks mock,20 let heretics talk till their tongues ache. They will believe when they see him ascend into heaven,21 and if not then, at least when they see him coming from heaven22 and sitting as judge.23

3  These things come later. Now is the feast of the Theophany, and so also of the Nativity; for it is called both, since two names are ascribed to one reality. For God appeared to human beings through birth. On the one hand he is and is eternally from the eternal Being, above cause and principle, for there was no principle higher than the Principle. On the other hand for us he later comes into being, that the one who has given us being might also grant us well-being; or rather that, as we fell from well-being through evil, he might bring us back again to himself through incarnation. The name is Theophany, since he has appeared, and Nativity, since he has been born.

4  This is our festival, this is the feast we celebrate today, in which God comes to live with human beings, that we may journey toward God, or return—for to speak thus is more exact—that laying aside the old human being we may be clothed with the new,24 and that as in Adam we have died so we may live in Christ,25 born with Christ and crucified with him,26 buried with him27 and rising with him.28 For it is necessary for me to undergo the good turnaround, and as painful things came from more pleasant things, so out of painful things more pleasant things must return. “For where sin abounded, grace superabounded,”29 and if the taste [of forbidden fruit] condemned,30 how much more does the Passion of Christ justify? Therefore we celebrate the feast not like a pagan festival but in a godly manner, not in a worldly way but in a manner above the world. We celebrate not our own concerns but the one who is ours, or rather what concerns our Master, things pertaining not to sickness but to healing, not to the first molding31 but to the remolding.

5  And how will this be? Let us not put wreaths on our front doors, or assemble troupes of dancers, or decorate the streets. Let us not feast the eyes, or mesmerize the sense of hearing, or make effeminate the sense of smell, or prostitute the sense of taste, or gratify the sense of touch. These are ready paths to evil, and entrances of sin. Let us not be softened by delicate and extravagant clothing, whose beauty is its inutility, or by the transparency of stones, or the brilliance of gold, or the artificiality of colors that falsify natural beauty and are invented in opposition to the [divine] image; nor by “revelries and drunkenness,” to which I know “debauchery and licentiousness” are linked,32 since from bad teachers come bad teachings, or rather from evil seeds come evil harvests. Let us not build high beds of straw, making shelters for the debauchery of the stomach. Let us not assess the bouquet of wines, the concoctions of chefs, the great cost of perfumes. Let earth and sea not bring us as gifts the valued dung, for this is how I know to evaluate luxury. Let us not strive to conquer each other in dissoluteness. For to me all that is superfluous and beyond need is dissoluteness, particularly when others are hungry and in want, who are of the same clay and the same composition as ourselves.33

6  But let us leave these things to the [pagan] Greeks and to Greek pomps and festivals. They name as gods those who enjoy the steam rising from the fat of sacrificed animals and correspondingly serve the divine with their stomachs, and they become evil fashioners and initiators and initiates of evil demons. But if we, for whom the Word is an object of worship, must somehow have luxury, let us have as our luxury the word and the divine law and narratives, especially those that form the basis of the present feast, that our luxury may be akin and not foreign to the one who has called us.

Would you like me—for I am your host today—to set before you, my good guests, a discourse as abundant and lavish as possible, that you may know how a stranger can feed the local inhabitants, and a rustic the city dwellers, and one without luxury the luxurious, and one poor and homeless those brilliant in wealth? I will begin from this point; and purify for me your mind and hearing and thoughts, you who enjoy luxuries of this kind, since the discourse is about God and divine things, that you may depart having truly received the luxuries that are not empty. This discourse will be at the same time very full and very concise, so as neither to sadden you by its poverty nor cause distaste through satiety.

7  God always was and is and will be, or rather always “is,” for “was” and “will be” belong to our divided time and transitory nature; but he is always “he who is,” and he gave himself this name when he consulted with Moses on the mountain.34 For holding everything together in himself, he possesses being, neither beginning nor ending. He is like a kind of boundless and limitless sea of being, surpassing all thought and time and nature. He is only sketched by the mind, and this in a very indistinct and mediocre way, not from things pertaining to himself but from things around him. Impressions are gathered from here and there into one particular representation of the truth, which flees before it is grasped and escapes before it is understood. It illumines the directive faculty in us, when indeed we have been purified, and its appearance is like a swift bolt of lightning that does not remain. It seems to me that insofar as it is graspable, the divine draws [us] toward itself, for what is completely ungraspable is unhoped for and unsought. Yet one wonders at the ungraspable, and one desires more intensely the object of wonder, and being desired it purifies, and purifying it makes deiform, and with those who have become such he converses as with those close to him,—I speak with vehement boldness—God is united with gods,35 and he is thus known, perhaps as much as he already knows those who are known to him.36

For the divine is without limits and difficult to contemplate, and this alone is entirely graspable in it, namely that it is without limits, whether one supposes that to be a simple nature is to be wholly ungraspable or perfectly graspable. For what is a being whose nature is simple? Let us inquire further, for simplicity is clearly not the nature of this being, just as composition alone is clearly not the nature of composite entities.

8  The absence of limit is contemplated in two ways, with regard to the beginning and to the end, for that which is above both and is not contained between them is without limit. When the mind gazes steadfastly into the depth above, not having a place to stand and relying on the representations it has of God, from this perspective it names as “without beginning” that which is without limit and without outlet. Yet when it gazes at what is below and what is subsequent, it names it “immortal” and “indestructible”; and when it views the whole together, “eternal.” For eternity is neither time nor some part of time, nor is it measurable, but what is time for us, measured by the movement of the sun, is for everlasting beings eternity, since it is coextensive with these beings, as if it were a kind of movement and interval of time.

For me this is enough reflection about God for now. For it is not the time to go beyond these things, since our concern here is not “theology” but “economy.”37 When I say “God,” I mean Father and Son and Holy Spirit. The divinity is not diffused beyond these, lest we introduce a crowd of gods, but nor is it limited to fewer than these, lest we be condemned to a poverty of divinity, either Judaizing because of the monarchy or hellenizing because of the abundance. For the evil is alike in both cases, though it is found in opposites. This then is the Holy of Holies, which is veiled by the seraphim and glorified with a threefold “Holy,”38 converging in one lordship and divinity, which another who preceded us has explained in a most beautiful and exalted way.

9  Yet it was not sufficient for goodness to be moved only in contemplation of itself, but it was necessary that the good be poured forth and spread outward, so that there would be more recipients of its benevolent activity, for this was the summit of goodness. Therefore it first thought of the angelic and heavenly powers, and the thought was action, accomplished by the Word and perfected by the Spirit. And thus were created the second radiances, the servants of the first Radiance, which are either intelligent spirits, or a kind of immaterial and bodiless fire, or some other nature as close to those just mentioned as possible. I would like to say that they are unmoved toward evil and have only the movement toward the good, since they are around God and are the first to be illumined by God; for things here below are illumined second. Yet I am persuaded to consider and say that they are not immovable but only difficult to move on account of the one who was called Lucifer39 because of his radiance40 but both became and is called darkness because of his pride, and the rebellious powers under him, who are fashioners of evil through their flight from the good and incite evil in us.

10  So therefore for these reasons the intelligible world was created, at least as far as I can investigate these matters, estimating great things by my small discourse. And since the first world was beautiful to God, he thought a second material and visible world, that which is composed of heaven and earth and the system and composite of realities existing between them. It is praiseworthy because of the good disposition of each thing, but more praiseworthy because of the good connectedness and harmony of the whole, as each thing is well adapted to another and all to all, into the full realization of one world. Thus God has shown that he was able to create not only a nature akin to himself but also what is entirely foreign to him. For the intelligible natures and those apprehended only by the mind are akin to the divine, but those apprehended by the senses are entirely foreign to it, and those which are entirely without life or movement are still farther removed.

Yet perhaps one who is excessively ardent and devoted to feasts may ask, What are these things to us? Spur on your pony toward the goal post. Investigate for us what concerns the feast and the reasons why we sit before you41 today. Truly I will do this, even if I have begun with things a bit exalted, since my desire and my discourse have constrained me.

11  Thus far mind and sense perception, distinguished from each other in this way, remained within their own limits and bore in themselves the magnificence of the Creator Word. They silently praised the greatness of his works and were heralds sounding afar.42 But there was not yet a blending out of both, nor a mixing of opposites, which is the distinctive sign of a greater wisdom and of divine superabundance concerning created natures, nor was the full wealth of goodness yet made known. So then wishing to manifest this, the Creator Word also makes one living creature out of both, I mean invisible and visible natures, that is the human being. And having taken the body from the matter already created, he breathed in breath from himself,43 which is surely the intelligent soul and the image of God of which Scripture speaks.44 The human being is a kind of second world, great in smallness, placed on the earth, another angel, a composite worshiper, a beholder of the visible creation, an initiate into the intelligible, king of things on earth, subject to what is above, earthly and heavenly, transitory and immortal, visible and intelligible, a mean between greatness and lowliness. He is at once spirit and flesh, spirit on account of grace, flesh on account of pride, the one that he might remain and glorify his Benefactor, the other that he might suffer and in suffering remember and be corrected if he has ambition for greatness. He is a living creature trained here and transferred elsewhere, and, to complete the mystery, deified through inclination toward God. For the light and the truth present in measure here bear me toward this end, to see and experience the radiance of God, which is worthy of the one who has bound me [to flesh] and will release me and hereafter will bind me in a higher manner.45

12  This being was placed in paradise,46 whatever that paradise was then, honored with self-determination so that the good would belong to the one who chose it no less than to the one who provided its seeds. The human being was a cultivator of immortal plants,47 that is perhaps divine thoughts, both the simpler and the more complete. He was naked48 because of his simplicity and life free from artifice and far from any covering or screen, for such a condition befitted the one who existed at the beginning. God gave him a law as material on which his self-determination could work, and the law was a commandment indicating which plants he could possess and which one he was not to touch. And that was the tree of knowledge,49 which was neither planted from the beginning in an evil way nor forbidden through envy—let the enemies of God not wag their tongues in that direction, nor imitate the serpent50—but would be good if possessed at the right time. For the tree is contemplation, according to my own contemplation, which is only safe for those of mature disposition to undertake; but it is not good for those who are still simpler and those greedy in their desire, just as adult food is not useful for those who are still tender and in need of milk.51 But after the devil’s envy and the woman’s spiteful treatment, both what she underwent as more tender and what she set before the man as more persuasive—alas for my weakness, for that of the first father is mine!—he forgot the commandment given him and yielded to the bitter taste.52 And at once he came to be banished from the tree of life53 and from paradise54 and from God because of the evil, and was clothed in the tunics of skin,55 that is perhaps the more coarse and mortal and rebellious flesh, and for the first time he knew his own shame and hid from God.56 He gained a certain advantage from this; death is also the cutting off of sin, that evil might not be immortal, so the punishment becomes love for humankind. For thus, I am persuaded, God punishes.

13  The human being was first educated57 in many ways corresponding to the many sins that sprouted from the root of evil for different reasons and at different times; by word, law, prophets, benefits, threats, blows, floods, conflagrations, wars, victories, defeats; signs from heaven, signs from the air, from earth, from sea; unexpected changes in men, cities, nations; by all this God sought zealously to wipe out evil. At the end a stronger remedy was necessary for more dreadful diseases: murders of each other, adulteries, false oaths, lusts for men, and the last and first of all evils, idolatry and the transfer of worship from the Creator to creatures.58 Since these things required a greater help, they also obtained something greater. It was the Word of God himself, the one who is before the ages, the invisible, the ungraspable, the incorporeal, the Principle from the Principle, the light59 from the light, the source of life60 and immortality, the imprint61 of the archetypal beauty, the immutable seal,62 the undistorted image,63 the definition and explanation of his Father. He approaches his own image64 and bears flesh because of my flesh and mingles himself with a rational soul because of my soul, purifying like by like. And in all things he becomes a human being, except sin.65 He was conceived by the Virgin, who was purified beforehand in both soul and flesh by the Spirit,66 for it was necessary that procreation be honored and that virginity be honored more. He comes forth, God with what he has assumed, one from two opposites, flesh and spirit, the one deifying and the other deified. O the new mixture! O the paradoxical blending! He who is67 comes into being, and the uncreated is created, and the uncontained is contained, through the intervention of the rational soul, which mediates between the divinity and the coarseness of flesh. The one who enriches68 becomes poor;69 he is made poor in my flesh, that I might be enriched through his divinity. The full one70 empties himself;71 for he empties himself of his own glory for a short time, that I may participate in his fullness. What is the wealth of his goodness? What is this mystery concerning me? I participated in the [divine] image,72 and I did not keep it; he participates in my flesh both to save the image and to make the flesh immortal. He shares with us a second communion, much more paradoxical than the first; then he gave us a share in what is superior, now he shares in what is inferior. This is more godlike than the first; this, to those who can understand, is more exalted.

14  In regard to these things, what do the slanderers say to us,73 the bitter calculators of divinity, the accusers of praiseworthy things, the dark ones speaking of the light, the uneducated speaking of wisdom, for whom “Christ died in vain,”74 the unthankful creatures, fashioned by the Evil One? Do you bring as a charge against God his good deed? Is he small because he is humble for your sake? Do you accuse the Good Shepherd because he went to the one who strayed,75 he who laid down his life for the sheep,76 to find the stray “on the mountains and the hills where you offered sacrifice,”77 and having found it took it on his shoulder,78 on which also he carried the cross, and having taken it brought it back to the life on high, and having brought it on high counted it again among those who remained there? Do you accuse him because he lit a lamp, his own flesh, and swept the house, cleansing the world of sin, and searched for the coin,79 the royal image covered with a heap of passions, then calls together his friends,80 the angelic powers, once he has found the coin, and makes participants in his joy those angels initiated into the mystery of his saving plan?81 Do you accuse him because the most radiant Light follows the lamp, his forerunner John,82 and the Word follows the voice,83 and the Bridegroom follows the friend of the bridegroom,84 who prepares for the Lord a chosen people85 and through water purifies them beforehand for the Spirit? Do you bring these charges against God? Do you also suppose that he is inferior for these reasons, that he girds himself with a towel and washes the feet of his disciples,86 and shows that the best way to be exalted is lowliness,87 since he lowers himself because of the soul bent down to the ground,88 so as also to lift up with himself those leaning downward because of sin? But how do you not accuse him because he also eats with tax collectors and at the homes of tax collectors89 and makes tax collectors his disciples,90 that he also may make some profit for himself? What profit? The salvation of sinners. If so, one must also blame the physician for bending over one who is ill and enduring the stench to give health to the sick; or one who through compassion leans over a pit to rescue, according to the law,91 the animal that has fallen into it.

15  He was sent,92 but as human, for he was twofold. For he was tired93 and hungry94 and thirsty95 and endured agony96 and wept97 through the law of the body, but if he underwent these things also as God, what of it? Consider the good will of the Father to be sent forth, and to it the Son ascribes his own activities, both as honoring the timeless Beginning and so as not to seem to be a rival god. For indeed Scripture says that he was given up,98 but it is also written that he gave himself up;99 and he was raised and taken up to heaven by the Father,100 but he also resurrected himself and ascended there again.101 For one is the Father’s good will, the other is his own power. You speak of what belittles him, but you overlook what exalts him; you recognize that he suffered, but you do not add that it was voluntary. It is as if the Word still suffers now! By some he is honored as God but confused with the Father; by others he is dishonored as flesh and separated from him. Against which is he more angry? Rather, whom must he pardon more? Those who unite Father and Son wrongly or those who divide them? For the former would need to distinguish and the latter would need to conjoin; the one in regard to number, the other in regard to divinity. Do you take offense at the flesh? So did the Jews. Do you also call him a Samaritan?102 I will be silent about the rest. Do you disbelieve in his divinity? This even the demons do not do.103 O you who are more unbelieving than demons and more senseless than Jews! The latter regarded “Son” as a term denoting equality of honor,104 the former knew that God drove them out,105 for they were persuaded by what they suffered. But you neither accept the equality nor confess the divinity. It would have been better for you to be circumcised and possessed by a demon, if I may say something ridiculous, rather than in uncircumcision and good health to be in a state of wickedness and atheism.

16  So shortly you will also see the purification of Jesus in the Jordan106 for my purification; or rather he is cleansed for the purification of the waters, for he indeed did not need purification, who takes away the sin of the world.107 The heavens are parted108 and he receives the testimony of the Spirit,109 who is akin to him. He is tempted and conquers the tempter and is served by angels.110 He heals every sickness and every infirmity, and gives life to the dead.111 Would that he would give life to you who are dead through your false doctrine. He drives out demons, some by himself112 and others through his disciples.113 With a few loaves he feeds tens of thousands,114 and he walks on the sea.115 He is betrayed116 and crucified117 and crucifies my sin with himself.118 He is offered as a lamb119 and offers as a priest,120 he is buried as a human being,121 raised as God,122 then also ascends,123 and he will return with his own glory.124 How many celebrations there are for me corresponding to each of the mysteries of Christ! Yet they all have one completion, my perfection125 and refashioning and restoration to the state of the first Adam.

17  Now welcome for me his conception and leap for joy, if not indeed like John in the womb,126 then like David when the ark came to rest.127 Be awed at the census record through which you have been recorded in heaven, and revere the birth through which you have been released from the bonds of birth, and honor little Bethlehem, which has brought you back to paradise, and bow before the manger through which you who were without reason have been fed by the Word. Know, like the ox, your owner—Isaiah exhorts you128—and like the donkey know your master’s crib, whether you are among those who are pure and under the law and chew the cud of the Word and are prepared for sacrifice, or whether up to now you are among the impure and unfit for food or sacrifice and belong to the Gentiles. Run after the star, and bring gifts with the magi, gold and frankincense and myrrh, as to a king and a God and one dead for your sake. With the shepherds give glory, with the angels sing hymns, with the archangels dance. Let there be a common celebration of the heavenly and earthly powers. For I am persuaded that they rejoice and celebrate with us today, if indeed they love humankind and love God, just as David represents them ascending with Christ after his Passion as they come to meet him and exhort each other to lift up the gates.129

18  You should hate only one of the events surrounding the birth of Christ, Herod’s murder of children; but rather, revere this sacrifice of those of the same age as Christ, who are sacrificed before the new victim. If he flees to Egypt, be willingly banished with him. It is good to flee with the persecuted Christ. If Christ delays in Egypt, call him forth from Egypt, where he is worshiped well.130 Travel blamelessly through all the stages of Christ’s life and all his powers, as a disciple of Christ. Be purified, be circumcised, that is remove the veil that has surrounded you since birth. After this teach in the temple, drive out the traders in divine things,131 be stoned if it is necessary that you suffer this; you will escape from those throwing the stones, I know well, and you will flee through the midst of them like God.132 For the Word is not stoned. If you are brought before Herod, do not answer for the most part. He will revere your silence more than the long discourses of others. If you are scourged, seek the other tortures. Taste the gall because of the taste [of the forbidden fruit]. Drink the vinegar, seek the spittings, accept the blows, the beatings; be crowned with thorns through the harshness of a life in accord with God. Put on the scarlet robe, accept the reed, and the worship of those who mock the truth. Finally, be crucified with him, die with him, be buried with him willingly, so as also to be resurrected with him and glorified with him and reign with him, seeing God as far as is possible and being seen by him, who is worshiped and glorified in the Trinity, whom even now we pray to be manifest to us as clearly as is possible to prisoners of the flesh, in Christ Jesus our Lord, to whom be glory and sovereignty unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Notes

1 Ps 96.1.

2  Ps 96.11.

3  1 Cor 15.47.

4  Ps 2.11.

5  1 John 1.1.

6  Rev 1.17, 2.8.

7  Gen 1.3–4.

8  Exod 10.21–22.

9  Exod 13.21.

10  Isa 9.2.

11  2 Cor 5.17.

12  2 Cor 3.6.

13  Rom 13.12.

14  Heb 7.3.

15  Ps 47.1.

16  Isa 9.6.

17  Matt 3.3.

18  Literally, “Son of a human being.”

19  Heb 13.8.

20  1 Cor 1.23.

21  John 6.62.

22  1 Thess 4.16.

23  Matt 25.31.

24  Eph 4.22–24.

25  1 Cor 15.22.

26  Gal 2.19.

27  Rom 6.4, Col 2.12.

28  Eph 2.6.

29  Rom 5.20.

30  Gen 2.17, 3.6–7.

31  Gen 2.7.

32  Rom 13.13.

33  Gen 2.7.

34  Exod 3.14, LXX.

35  Ps 82.1, 6.

36  1 Cor 13.12.

37  Among the Greek fathers, theologia often refers to discussion of God in Godself. The corresponding term oikonomia refers to discussion of God’s relations to the created world, including the divine plan of salvation through the incarnation of Jesus Christ.

38  Isa 6.2–3.

39  That is, “Light-Bearer.”

40  Isa 14.12–15.

41  In the early church bishops stood to preach, while the congregation sat.

42  Ps 19.3–4.

43  Gen 2.7.

44  Gen 1.26–27.

45  This sentence speaks of God uniting the soul to a body when a human person is created, separating the soul from the body at the moment of death, and reuniting them again at the final resurrection.

46  Gen 2.8–15.

47  Gen 2.15.

48  Gen 2.25.

49  Gen 2.16–17.

50  Gen 3.1–3.

51  1 Cor 3.2, 1 Pet 2.2.

52  Gen 3.6.

53  Gen 2.9, 3.24.

54  Gen 3.23.

55  Gen 3.21.

56  Gen 3.7–8.

57  Heb 12.6.

58  Rom 1.25.

59  John 8.12.

60  John 1.4, 11.25.

61  Heb 1.3.

62  John 6.27.

63  Col 1.15.

64  Gen 1.26–27.

65  Heb 4.15.

66  Luke 1.35.

67  Exod 3.14.

68  Rom 10.12, 2 Cor 8.9.

69  2 Cor 8.9.

70  Col 2.9.

71  Phil 2.7.

72  Gen 1.26–27.

73  In this paragraph and the next, Gregory contends against his anti-Nicaean opponents, responding to arguments proposed by Arians and Eunomians.

74  Gal 2.21.

75  Luke 15.4.

76  John 10.11.

77  Hos 4.13.

78  Luke 15.5.

79  Luke 15.8.

80  Luke 15.9.

81  Luke 15.8–9.

82  John 5.35.

83  John 1.23.

84  Matt 3.11, 9.15; Luke 3.16, 5.34–35; John 1.26.

85  Luke 1.17, Tit 2.14.

86  John 13.4.

87  Luke 14.11, 18.14.

88  Matt 26.38–39, Mark 14.34–35.

89  Matt 9.11, Luke 19.2, 7.

90  Matt 9.9, Mark 2.14, Luke 5.27–28.

91  Deut 22.4.

92  John 3.34, 5.36–37, 6.40, etc.

93  John 4.6.

94  Matt 4.2, 21.18.

95  John 4.7, 19.28.

96  Luke 22.49.

97  Luke 19.41, John 11.35.

98  Rom 4.25, 1 Cor 11.23.

99  Gal 2.20, Eph 5.2, 25.

100  Acts 17.31, Rom 4.24, Mark 16.19.

101  Matt 28.6, Mark 16.9, 19.

102  John 8.48.

103  James 2.19.

104  John 5.18.

105  Mark 1.34, Luke 4.41.

106  Matt 3.13.

107  John 1.29.

108  Mark 1.10, Matt 3.16.

109  Matt 3.16, Mark 1.10, Luke 3.22, John 1.32.

110  Matt 4.1–11, Mark 1.12–13, Luke 4.1–13.

111  Matt 9.25; Mark 5.41; Luke 8.54–55, 7.14–15; John 11.43–44.

112  Matt 8.16 and elsewhere.

113  Matt 10.8, Mark 6.13, Luke 9.1, 10.17.

114  Matt 14.16–21 and parallels.

115  Matt 14.25, Mark 6.48, John 6.19.

116  Matt 26.47–49, Mark 14.43–45, Luke 22.47–49, John 18.2.

117  Matt 27.35, Mark 15.24, Luke 23.33, John 19.17.

118  Col 2.14.

119  Isa 53.7, Jer 11.19.

120  Ps 109.4, Heb 7.17.

121  Matt 27.60, Mark 15.46, Luke 23.53, John 19.41–42.

122  Matt 28.6, Mark 16.6, Luke 24.7.

123  Mark 16.19, Luke 24.51, Acts 1.9–10.

124  Acts 1.11.

125  Heb 2.10.

126  Luke 1.41.

127  2 Sam 6.14.

128  Isa 1.3.

129  Ps 24.7–10.

130  Gregory alludes to the fact that at the time of this homily Archbishop Peter of Alexandria and his church remain loyal to the faith of Nicaea and the memory of Athanasius, but great controversy still surrounds Nicaean doctrine in Constantinople.

131  Matt 21.12.

132  John 8.59, Luke 4.30. Once during his “underground” ministry at the house church in Constantinople, before Theodosius arrived in the city and restored the Nicaean faith, Gregory’s enemies burst in during a service and attempted to stone him.

Translation Nonna Verna Harrison

ST VLADIMIR’S SEMINARY PRESS

YONKERS, NEW YORK

COPYRIGHT © 2008 BY

ST VLADIMIR’S SEMINARY PRESS

575 Scarsdale Road, Yonkers, NY 10707

Two prayers by St Gregory the Theologian (330-390AD)

Morning prayer (PG 37.1284)
In the morning I give my right hand to God,
to offer and praise nothing shadowy,
but as much as possible to sacrifice the day to you,
that remaining unshaken, I may be master of my passions.
5If I should be utterly wicked I would shame my old age
and also the altar that I attend.
This is my desire, my Christ. Guide me straight.

Lament at evening (PG 37.1285)
I have deceived you who are the truth, Logos,
although I consecrated the present day to you.
Night has not received me fully brilliant.
Most truly I vowed and believed this.
5But somewhere even my feet have stumbled.
For darkness, an assailant of my salvation, has come.
May you shine your light on me, Christ, as you appear once again.

From Poems on scripture. Translation Brian Dunkle, S.J.

St Vladimir Seminary Press.

St Gregory the Theologian (329-390 AD)

Oration27 The first theological Oration.

St Gregory the Theologian.

ORATION 27 An Introductory Sermon against the Eunomians1
The First Theological Oration
1
I shall address my words to those whose cleverness is in words. Let me begin from Scripture: “Lo, I am against you and your pride.”2
There are people, believe me, who not only have “itching ears”:3 their tongues, also and now, I see, even their hands itch to attack my arguments. They delight in the “profane and vain babblings and contradictions of the Knowledge falsely so-called,”4 and in “strife of words”5 which lead to no useful result. “Strife of words”—that is the term given to all elaborate verbiage by Paul, who proclaims and confirms the “short and final account,”6 Paul, the pupil and teacher of fishermen. These people I speak of have versatile tongues, and are resourceful in attacking doctrines nobler and worthier than their own. I only wish they would display comparable energy in their actions: then they might be something more than mere verbal tricksters, grotesque and preposterous word-gamesters—their derisory antics invite derisive description.
2
But in fact they have undermined every approach to true religion by their complete obsession with setting and solving conundrums. They are like the promoters of wrestling-bouts in the theaters, and not even the sort of bouts that are conducted in accordance with the rules of the sport and lead to the victory of one of the antagonists, but the sort which are stage-managed to give the uncritical spectators visual sensations and compel their applause. Every square in the city has to buzz with their arguments, every party must be made tedious by their boring nonsense. No feast, no funeral is free from them: their wranglings bring gloom and misery to the feasters, and console the mourners with the example of an affliction graver than death. Even women in the drawing room, that sanctuary of innocence, are assailed, and the flower of modesty is despoiled by this rushing into controversy.
Such is the situation: this infection is unchecked and intolerable; “the great mystery”7 of our faith is in danger of becoming a mere social accomplishment. I am moved with fatherly compassion, and as Jeremiah says, “my heart is torn within me.”8 Let these spies therefore be tolerant enough to hear patiently what I have to say on this matter, and to hold their tongues for a while—if, that is, they can—and listen to me. You can lose nothing by it, in any case: either I shall speak “to them that have ears to hear,”9 and my words will bear fruit, and you will benefit (for, while he who sows the Word sows it in every kind of mind, it is only the good and productive kind which bears fruit);10 or else, if you spit on this speech of mine as you have on others, when you go away you will take with you more material for your mockery and attacks on me, and you will then feast yourselves even better. But do not be surprised if what I say is contrary to your expectations and contrary to your ways, since you profess to know all and teach all—an attitude which is too naive and pretentious: I would not offend you by saying stupid and arrogant.
3
Discussion of theology is not for everyone, I tell you, not for everyone—it is no such inexpensive or effortless pursuit. Nor, I would add, is it for every occasion, or every audience; neither are all its aspects open to inquiry. It must be reserved for certain occasions, for certain audiences, and certain limits must be observed. It is not for all people, but only for those who have been tested and have found a sound footing in study, and, more importantly, have undergone, or at the very least are undergoing, purification of body and soul. For one who is not pure to lay hold of pure things is dangerous, just as it is for weak eyes to look at the sun’s brightness.
What is the right time? Whenever we are free from the mire and noise without, and our commanding faculty is not confused by illusory, wandering images, leading us, as it were, to mix fine script with ugly scrawling, or sweet-smelling scent with slime. We need actually “to be still”11 in order to know God, and when we receive the opportunity, “to judge uprightly”12 in theology.
Who should listen to discussions of theology? Those for whom it is a serious undertaking, not just another subject like any other for entertaining small-talk, after the races, the theater, songs, food, and sex: for there are people who count chatter on theology and clever deployment of arguments as one of their amusements.
What aspects of theology should be nvestigated, and to what limit? Only aspects within our grasp, and only to the limit of the experience and capacity of our audience. Just as excess of sound or food injures the hearing or general health, or, if you prefer, as loads that are too heavy injure those who carry them, or as excessive rain harms the soil, we too must guard against the danger that the toughness, so to speak, of our discourses may so oppress and overtax our hearers as actually to impair the powers they had before.
4
Yet I am not maintaining that we ought not to be mindful of God at all times—my adversaries, ever ready and quick to attack, need not pounce on me again. It is more important that we should remember God than that we should breathe: indeed, if one may say so, we should do nothing else besides. I am one of those who approve the precept that commands us to “meditate day and night,”13 to tell of the Lord “evening, and morning, and at noon,”14 and to “bless the Lord at all times,”15 or in the words of Moses, “when we lie down, when we rise up, when we walk by the way,”16 or when we do anything else whatever, and by this mindfulness be molded to purity. So it is not continual remembrance of God I seek to discourage, but continual discussion of theology. I am not opposed either to theology, as if it were a breach of piety, but only to its untimely practice, or to instruction in it, except when this goes to excess. Fullness and surfeit even of honey, for all its goodness, produces vomiting;17 and “to everything there is a season,”18 as Solomon and I think, and “what’s well’s not well if the hour be ill.” A flower is completely out of season in winter, a man’s clothing is out of place on a woman, a woman’s on a man, immoderate laughter19 is unseemly during mourning, as are tears at a drinking party. Are we then to neglect “the due season” only in the discussion of theology, where observing the proper time is of such supreme importance?
5
Certainly not, friends and brethren—I still call you “brethren,” though your attitude is not brotherly—do not let us accept such a view. We must not be like fiery, unruly horses, throwing Reason our rider and spitting out the bit of Discretion which so usefully restrains us, and running wide of the turning post. Let us conduct our debates within our frontiers, and not be carried away to Egypt or dragged off to Assyria. Let us not “sing the song of the Lord in a foreign land,”20 by which I mean before any and every audience, heathen or Christian, friend or foe, sympathetic or hostile: these keep all too close a watch on us, and they would wish that the spark of our dissensions might become a conflagration; they kindle it, they fan it, by means of its own draught they raise it to the skies, and without our knowing what they are up to, they make it higher than those flames at Babylon which blazed all around.21 Having no strength in their own teaching, they hunt for it in our weakness, and for this reason like flies settling on wounds, they settle on our misfortunes—or should I say our mistakes? Let us be blind to our doings no longer, and let us not neglect the proprieties in these matters. If we cannot resolve our disputes outright, let us at least make this mutual concession, to utter spiritual truths with the restraint due to them, to discuss holy things in a holy manner, and not to broadcast to profane hearing what is not to be divulged. Do not let us prove that we are less reverent than those who worship demons and venerate obscene tales and objects; they would sooner give their blood than disclose certain words to non-initiates. We must recognize that as in dress, diet, laughter, and deportment there are certain standards of decency, the same is true of utterance and silence, particularly as we pay especial honor to “The Word” among the titles and properties of God. Let even our contentiousness be governed by rules.
6
Why do we allow audiences hostile to our subject-matter to listen to discussion of the “generation” and “creation” of God, or of God’s “production from non-being,” and such dissections, and distinctions, and analyses? Why do we appoint our accusers as our judges? Why do we put swords into our enemies’ hands? How, I ask you, will such a discussion be interpreted by the man who subscribes to a creed of adulteries and infanticides, who worships the passions, who is incapable of conceiving of anything higher than the body, who fabricated his own gods only the other day, and gods at that distinguished by their utter vileness? What sort of construction will he put on it? Is he not certain to take it in a crude, obscene, material sense, as is his wont? Will he not appropriate your theology to defend his own gods and passions? If we abuse these terms ourselves, it will be difficult indeed to persuade such people to accept our way of thinking; and if they have a natural inclination “to invent new kinds of evil,”22 how could they resist the evil we offer them? This is what our civil war leads to. This is what we achieve by fighting for the Word with greater violence than is pleasing to the Word. We are in the same state as madmen who set fire to their own houses, tear their own children limb from limb, or reject their own parents, regarding them as strangers.
7
Once we have removed from our discussions all alien elements, and dispatched the great legion into the herd of swine to rush down into the abyss,23 the next step to take is to look at ourselves and to smooth the theologian in us, like a statue, into beauty. But first we must consider: what is this disorder of the tongue that leads us to compete in garrulity? What is this alarming disease, this appetite that can never be sated? Why do we keep our hands bound and our tongues armed?
Do we commend hospitality? Do we admire brotherly love, wifely affection, virginity, feeding the poor, singing psalms, nightlong vigils, penitence? Do we mortify the body24 with fasting? Do we through prayer, take up our abode with God? Do we subordinate the inferior element in us to the better—I mean, the dust25 to the spirit, as we should if we have returned the right verdict on the alloy of the two which is our nature? Do we make life a meditation of death? Do we establish our mastery over our passions, mindful of the nobility of our second birth? Do we tame our swollen and inflamed tempers? Or our pride which “comes before a fall,”26 or our unreasonable grief, our crude pleasures, our dirty laughter, our undisciplined eyes, our greedy ears, our immoderate talk, our wandering thoughts, or anything in ourselves which the Evil One can take over from us and use against us, “bringing in death through the windows,”27 as Scripture has it, meaning through the senses?
No. We do the very opposite: we offer freedom to the passions of others, like kings declaring an amnesty after a victory, on the sole condition that they give their assent to us—and thus rush against God more violently than before; for this discreditable purchase we pay them a dishonorable price, license in exchange for impiety.
8
However, since you are so fond of talking and of the dialectic method, I will address a few questions to you; and “you shall answer,”28 as the voice speaking through the whirlwind and the clouds said to Job.
Are there “many mansions” in God’s house,29 as you are taught, or only one?
Many, you will of course concede, and not merely one.
Are all of them to be filled, or only some of them and not others, so that these will be empty and prepared in vain?
Yes, all of them; nothing which God does is without purpose.
Could you explain what you understand by this “mansion”? Is it that rest and glory reserved Yonder for the blessed, or is it something other than this?
No, that is exactly what it is.
Since we are agreed on this, let us examine a further question. Is there any meaning in the provision of these different mansions, as I maintain, or is there none?
Certainly there is.
What is it?
It is that there are different patterns of life and avocations, and as they lead to different places according to the proportions of faith,30 we call them “ways”
Must we travel along all these ways, or only some of them?
Yes, all of them, if one individual is able; if not, as many as possible; failing that, some of them; failing even that, it is a great thing, at least in my opinion, to follow one way with distinction.
You have answered the questions correctly. Well now, when you read “there is one road and that a narrow one,”31 what do the words seem to you to indicate?
“One,” because it is the way of goodness: it is one way even though there are many branches. “Narrow” because of the effort it involves, and because it can be trodden only by few, compared with the numbers of our adversaries, or those who travel by the way of wickedness.
I agree. Well then, my friend, if this is so, why is it that people like you condemn our doctrine for its alleged “poverty,” reject all the other ways, and rush, pushing and shoving, along one way only, the road you think is that of Reason and Study, but I say is of Gossip and Sensationalism? Accept the rebuke of Paul, who makes this bitter reproach when, after enumerating the gifts of the Spirit, he says: “Are all apostles? Are all prophets?”32 and so on.
9
Nevertheless, let us grant that you yourself have reached the heights, gone beyond them higher if you like than the clouds, that you have looked on things which are not to be seen, that you have heard “words human lips may not utter,”33 that, a second Elijah, you have been raised up into the sky;34 that, a second Moses, you have been judged worthy to see God;35 that, a second Paul, you have been caught up into heaven.36 Even so, why do you then try to mold other people into holiness overnight, appoint them theologians, and as it were, breathe learning into them, and thus produce ready-made any number of Councils of ignorant intellectuals? Why do you try to entangle your weaker brethren in your spiders’ webs, as if this were some brilliant feat? Why do you stir up wasps’ nests against the Faith? Why do you conjure up a crop of dialecticians to attack us, like the Earth-born warriors in the old stories? Why have you gathered together as though you were sweeping up rubbish into a gutter, all the weediest and most effeminate specimens of the male sex, softened them still further with flattery, and thus set up your revolutionary Profanity industry, a shrewd exploitation of their silliness?
Do you continue to speak even after these charges? Can it be that nothing else matters for you, but your tongue must always rule you, and you cannot hold back words that, once conceived, must be delivered? Well, there are plenty of other fields in which you can win fame. Direct your disease there, and you may do good.
10
Attack the silence of Pythagoras, or the Orphic beans, or the extraordinary pretentiousness of “Thus spake the Master.”37 Attack Plato’s Ideas, and the Re-embodiments and Cycles of our souls, and their Recollections, and those distasteful love-affairs where the soul was the object, but the beautiful body the route. Then there is Epicurus’ atheism, or his atoms, or his ideal of Pleasure, unworthy of a philosopher; or Aristotle’s mean conception of Providence, his artificial system, his mortal view of the soul, and the human-centered nature of his teaching. Or what about the superciliousness of the Stoics, the greed and vulgarity of the Cynics?
Attack “the Void”—which is full of nonsense, or all the mumbo-jumbo of gods and sacrifices, idols, demons beneficent or malignant, of soothsaying, summoning the gods or the spirits of the dead, and of the influences of the stars.
If, however, you reject these subjects as unworthy of your intellect, being petty and often refuted, and you wish to move in your own field and fulfill your ambitions there: here also I will provide you with broad highways. Speculate about the Universe—or Universes, about Matter, the Soul, about Natures (good and evil) endowed with reason, about the Resurrection, the judgment, Reward and Punishment, or about the Sufferings of Christ.38 In these questions to hit the mark is not useless, to miss it is not dangerous. But of God himself the knowledge we shall have in this life will be little, though soon after it will perhaps be more perfect, in the same Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom be glory for ever and ever.39 Amen.

Notes 1 The headings, though found in the manuscripts, are probably not Gregory’s.
2 Jer 50:31.
3 2 Tim 4:3.
4 1 Tim 6:20.
5 1 Tim 6:4.
6 Rom 9:28; Is 10:23.7 1 Tim 3:16.
8 Jer 4:19.
9 Sir 25:9.
10 Mt 13:3 and 23.
11 Ps 46(45):10(11).
12 Ps 75(74):2(3).
13 Ps 1:2; Josh 1:8.
14 Ps 55(54):17(18).
15 Ps 34(33):1(2).
16 Deut 6:7.
17 Cf. Prov 25:16(27).
18 Sir 3:1.
19 So the ancient Syriac translation, preserving the correct reading, as against the Greek geometry, which makes no sense and is an early textual error. For the phrase, see Or. 11,5 20 Ps 137(136):4.
21 Cf. Dan 3:20.
22 Rom 1:30.
23 Mk 5:9–13; Lk 8:30–33. 24 1 Cor 9:27.
25 Gen 2:7.
26 Cf. Prov 16:18; Lk 18:14.
27 Jer 9:21(20).
28 Job 38:3.
29 Jn 14:2.
30 Rom 12:6.
31 Mt 7:14.
32 1 Cor 12:29.
33 2 Cor 12:4.
34 2(4) Kg 2:11.
35 Ex 3:2; 19:20; 33:18–23.
36 2 Cor 12:2.
37 Gregory suggests in turn the familiar targets of Christian apologetics, some of which reappear in the next Oration. The mention of Aristotle might surprise. His importance for theology was to become apparent only in the centuries after Gregory, for whom he is the author of the Categories and the one who asserted, in a passage that does not survive,that world or worlds. He does not have in mind theories of the atonement.
39 Rev 1:6.

ORATION 27 An Introductory Sermon against the Eunomians1
The First Theological Oration
1
I shall address my words to those whose cleverness is in words. Let me begin from Scripture: “Lo, I am against you and your pride.”2
There are people, believe me, who not only have “itching ears”:3 their tongues, also and now, I see, even their hands itch to attack my arguments. They delight in the “profane and vain babblings and contradictions of the Knowledge falsely so-called,”4 and in “strife of words”5 which lead to no useful result. “Strife of words”—that is the term given to all elaborate verbiage by Paul, who proclaims and confirms the “short and final account,”6 Paul, the pupil and teacher of fishermen. These people I speak of have versatile tongues, and are resourceful in attacking doctrines nobler and worthier than their own. I only wish they would display comparable energy in their actions: then they might be something more than mere verbal tricksters, grotesque and preposterous word-gamesters—their derisory antics invite derisive description.
2
But in fact they have undermined every approach to true religion by their complete obsession with setting and solving conundrums. They are like the promoters of wrestling-bouts in the theaters, and not even the sort of bouts that are conducted in accordance with the rules of the sport and lead to the victory of one of the antagonists, but the sort which are stage-managed to give the uncritical spectators visual sensations and compel their applause. Every square in the city has to buzz with their arguments, every party must be made tedious by their boring nonsense. No feast, no funeral is free from them: their wranglings bring gloom and misery to the feasters, and console the mourners with the example of an affliction graver than death. Even women in the drawing room, that sanctuary of innocence, are assailed, and the flower of modesty is despoiled by this rushing into controversy.
Such is the situation: this infection is unchecked and intolerable; “the great mystery”7 of our faith is in danger of becoming a mere social accomplishment. I am moved with fatherly compassion, and as Jeremiah says, “my heart is torn within me.”8 Let these spies therefore be tolerant enough to hear patiently what I have to say on this matter, and to hold their tongues for a while—if, that is, they can—and listen to me. You can lose nothing by it, in any case: either I shall speak “to them that have ears to hear,”9 and my words will bear fruit, and you will benefit (for, while he who sows the Word sows it in every kind of mind, it is only the good and productive kind which bears fruit);10 or else, if you spit on this speech of mine as you have on others, when you go away you will take with you more material for your mockery and attacks on me, and you will then feast yourselves even better. But do not be surprised if what I say is contrary to your expectations and contrary to your ways, since you profess to know all and teach all—an attitude which is too naive and pretentious: I would not offend you by saying stupid and arrogant.
3
Discussion of theology is not for everyone, I tell you, not for everyone—it is no such inexpensive or effortless pursuit. Nor, I would add, is it for every occasion, or every audience; neither are all its aspects open to inquiry. It must be reserved for certain occasions, for certain audiences, and certain limits must be observed. It is not for all people, but only for those who have been tested and have found a sound footing in study, and, more importantly, have undergone, or at the very least are undergoing, purification of body and soul. For one who is not pure to lay hold of pure things is dangerous, just as it is for weak eyes to look at the sun’s brightness.
What is the right time? Whenever we are free from the mire and noise without, and our commanding faculty is not confused by illusory, wandering images, leading us, as it were, to mix fine script with ugly scrawling, or sweet-smelling scent with slime. We need actually “to be still”11 in order to know God, and when we receive the opportunity, “to judge uprightly”12 in theology.
Who should listen to discussions of theology? Those for whom it is a serious undertaking, not just another subject like any other for entertaining small-talk, after the races, the theater, songs, food, and sex: for there are people who count chatter on theology and clever deployment of arguments as one of their amusements.
What aspects of theology should be nvestigated, and to what limit? Only aspects within our grasp, and only to the limit of the experience and capacity of our audience. Just as excess of sound or food injures the hearing or general health, or, if you prefer, as loads that are too heavy injure those who carry them, or as excessive rain harms the soil, we too must guard against the danger that the toughness, so to speak, of our discourses may so oppress and overtax our hearers as actually to impair the powers they had before.
4
Yet I am not maintaining that we ought not to be mindful of God at all times—my adversaries, ever ready and quick to attack, need not pounce on me again. It is more important that we should remember God than that we should breathe: indeed, if one may say so, we should do nothing else besides. I am one of those who approve the precept that commands us to “meditate day and night,”13 to tell of the Lord “evening, and morning, and at noon,”14 and to “bless the Lord at all times,”15 or in the words of Moses, “when we lie down, when we rise up, when we walk by the way,”16 or when we do anything else whatever, and by this mindfulness be molded to purity. So it is not continual remembrance of God I seek to discourage, but continual discussion of theology. I am not opposed either to theology, as if it were a breach of piety, but only to its untimely practice, or to instruction in it, except when this goes to excess. Fullness and surfeit even of honey, for all its goodness, produces vomiting;17 and “to everything there is a season,”18 as Solomon and I think, and “what’s well’s not well if the hour be ill.” A flower is completely out of season in winter, a man’s clothing is out of place on a woman, a woman’s on a man, immoderate laughter19 is unseemly during mourning, as are tears at a drinking party. Are we then to neglect “the due season” only in the discussion of theology, where observing the proper time is of such supreme importance?
5
Certainly not, friends and brethren—I still call you “brethren,” though your attitude is not brotherly—do not let us accept such a view. We must not be like fiery, unruly horses, throwing Reason our rider and spitting out the bit of Discretion which so usefully restrains us, and running wide of the turning post. Let us conduct our debates within our frontiers, and not be carried away to Egypt or dragged off to Assyria. Let us not “sing the song of the Lord in a foreign land,”20 by which I mean before any and every audience, heathen or Christian, friend or foe, sympathetic or hostile: these keep all too close a watch on us, and they would wish that the spark of our dissensions might become a conflagration; they kindle it, they fan it, by means of its own draught they raise it to the skies, and without our knowing what they are up to, they make it higher than those flames at Babylon which blazed all around.21 Having no strength in their own teaching, they hunt for it in our weakness, and for this reason like flies settling on wounds, they settle on our misfortunes—or should I say our mistakes? Let us be blind to our doings no longer, and let us not neglect the proprieties in these matters. If we cannot resolve our disputes outright, let us at least make this mutual concession, to utter spiritual truths with the restraint due to them, to discuss holy things in a holy manner, and not to broadcast to profane hearing what is not to be divulged. Do not let us prove that we are less reverent than those who worship demons and venerate obscene tales and objects; they would sooner give their blood than disclose certain words to non-initiates. We must recognize that as in dress, diet, laughter, and deportment there are certain standards of decency, the same is true of utterance and silence, particularly as we pay especial honor to “The Word” among the titles and properties of God. Let even our contentiousness be governed by rules.
6
Why do we allow audiences hostile to our subject-matter to listen to discussion of the “generation” and “creation” of God, or of God’s “production from non-being,” and such dissections, and distinctions, and analyses? Why do we appoint our accusers as our judges? Why do we put swords into our enemies’ hands? How, I ask you, will such a discussion be interpreted by the man who subscribes to a creed of adulteries and infanticides, who worships the passions, who is incapable of conceiving of anything higher than the body, who fabricated his own gods only the other day, and gods at that distinguished by their utter vileness? What sort of construction will he put on it? Is he not certain to take it in a crude, obscene, material sense, as is his wont? Will he not appropriate your theology to defend his own gods and passions? If we abuse these terms ourselves, it will be difficult indeed to persuade such people to accept our way of thinking; and if they have a natural inclination “to invent new kinds of evil,”22 how could they resist the evil we offer them? This is what our civil war leads to. This is what we achieve by fighting for the Word with greater violence than is pleasing to the Word. We are in the same state as madmen who set fire to their own houses, tear their own children limb from limb, or reject their own parents, regarding them as strangers.
7
Once we have removed from our discussions all alien elements, and dispatched the great legion into the herd of swine to rush down into the abyss,23 the next step to take is to look at ourselves and to smooth the theologian in us, like a statue, into beauty. But first we must consider: what is this disorder of the tongue that leads us to compete in garrulity? What is this alarming disease, this appetite that can never be sated? Why do we keep our hands bound and our tongues armed?
Do we commend hospitality? Do we admire brotherly love, wifely affection, virginity, feeding the poor, singing psalms, nightlong vigils, penitence? Do we mortify the body24 with fasting? Do we through prayer, take up our abode with God? Do we subordinate the inferior element in us to the better—I mean, the dust25 to the spirit, as we should if we have returned the right verdict on the alloy of the two which is our nature? Do we make life a meditation of death? Do we establish our mastery over our passions, mindful of the nobility of our second birth? Do we tame our swollen and inflamed tempers? Or our pride which “comes before a fall,”26 or our unreasonable grief, our crude pleasures, our dirty laughter, our undisciplined eyes, our greedy ears, our immoderate talk, our wandering thoughts, or anything in ourselves which the Evil One can take over from us and use against us, “bringing in death through the windows,”27 as Scripture has it, meaning through the senses?
No. We do the very opposite: we offer freedom to the passions of others, like kings declaring an amnesty after a victory, on the sole condition that they give their assent to us—and thus rush against God more violently than before; for this discreditable purchase we pay them a dishonorable price, license in exchange for impiety.
8
However, since you are so fond of talking and of the dialectic method, I will address a few questions to you; and “you shall answer,”28 as the voice speaking through the whirlwind and the clouds said to Job.
Are there “many mansions” in God’s house,29 as you are taught, or only one?
Many, you will of course concede, and not merely one.
Are all of them to be filled, or only some of them and not others, so that these will be empty and prepared in vain?
Yes, all of them; nothing which God does is without purpose.
Could you explain what you understand by this “mansion”? Is it that rest and glory reserved Yonder for the blessed, or is it something other than this?
No, that is exactly what it is.
Since we are agreed on this, let us examine a further question. Is there any meaning in the provision of these different mansions, as I maintain, or is there none?
Certainly there is.
What is it?
It is that there are different patterns of life and avocations, and as they lead to different places according to the proportions of faith,30 we call them “ways”
Must we travel along all these ways, or only some of them?
Yes, all of them, if one individual is able; if not, as many as possible; failing that, some of them; failing even that, it is a great thing, at least in my opinion, to follow one way with distinction.
You have answered the questions correctly. Well now, when you read “there is one road and that a narrow one,”31 what do the words seem to you to indicate?
“One,” because it is the way of goodness: it is one way even though there are many branches. “Narrow” because of the effort it involves, and because it can be trodden only by few, compared with the numbers of our adversaries, or those who travel by the way of wickedness.
I agree. Well then, my friend, if this is so, why is it that people like you condemn our doctrine for its alleged “poverty,” reject all the other ways, and rush, pushing and shoving, along one way only, the road you think is that of Reason and Study, but I say is of Gossip and Sensationalism? Accept the rebuke of Paul, who makes this bitter reproach when, after enumerating the gifts of the Spirit, he says: “Are all apostles? Are all prophets?”32 and so on.
9
Nevertheless, let us grant that you yourself have reached the heights, gone beyond them higher if you like than the clouds, that you have looked on things which are not to be seen, that you have heard “words human lips may not utter,”33 that, a second Elijah, you have been raised up into the sky;34 that, a second Moses, you have been judged worthy to see God;35 that, a second Paul, you have been caught up into heaven.36 Even so, why do you then try to mold other people into holiness overnight, appoint them theologians, and as it were, breathe learning into them, and thus produce ready-made any number of Councils of ignorant intellectuals? Why do you try to entangle your weaker brethren in your spiders’ webs, as if this were some brilliant feat? Why do you stir up wasps’ nests against the Faith? Why do you conjure up a crop of dialecticians to attack us, like the Earth-born warriors in the old stories? Why have you gathered together as though you were sweeping up rubbish into a gutter, all the weediest and most effeminate specimens of the male sex, softened them still further with flattery, and thus set up your revolutionary Profanity industry, a shrewd exploitation of their silliness?
Do you continue to speak even after these charges? Can it be that nothing else matters for you, but your tongue must always rule you, and you cannot hold back words that, once conceived, must be delivered? Well, there are plenty of other fields in which you can win fame. Direct your disease there, and you may do good.
10
Attack the silence of Pythagoras, or the Orphic beans, or the extraordinary pretentiousness of “Thus spake the Master.”37 Attack Plato’s Ideas, and the Re-embodiments and Cycles of our souls, and their Recollections, and those distasteful love-affairs where the soul was the object, but the beautiful body the route. Then there is Epicurus’ atheism, or his atoms, or his ideal of Pleasure, unworthy of a philosopher; or Aristotle’s mean conception of Providence, his artificial system, his mortal view of the soul, and the human-centered nature of his teaching. Or what about the superciliousness of the Stoics, the greed and vulgarity of the Cynics?
Attack “the Void”—which is full of nonsense, or all the mumbo-jumbo of gods and sacrifices, idols, demons beneficent or malignant, of soothsaying, summoning the gods or the spirits of the dead, and of the influences of the stars.
If, however, you reject these subjects as unworthy of your intellect, being petty and often refuted, and you wish to move in your own field and fulfill your ambitions there: here also I will provide you with broad highways. Speculate about the Universe—or Universes, about Matter, the Soul, about Natures (good and evil) endowed with reason, about the Resurrection, the judgment, Reward and Punishment, or about the Sufferings of Christ.38 In these questions to hit the mark is not useless, to miss it is not dangerous. But of God himself the knowledge we shall have in this life will be little, though soon after it will perhaps be more perfect, in the same Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom be glory for ever and ever.39 Amen.

Notes 1 The headings, though found in the manuscripts, are probably not Gregory’s.
2 Jer 50:31.
3 2 Tim 4:3.
4 1 Tim 6:20.
5 1 Tim 6:4.
6 Rom 9:28; Is 10:23.7 1 Tim 3:16.
8 Jer 4:19.
9 Sir 25:9.
10 Mt 13:3 and 23.
11 Ps 46(45):10(11).
12 Ps 75(74):2(3).
13 Ps 1:2; Josh 1:8.
14 Ps 55(54):17(18).
15 Ps 34(33):1(2).
16 Deut 6:7.
17 Cf. Prov 25:16(27).
18 Sir 3:1.
19 So the ancient Syriac translation, preserving the correct reading, as against the Greek geometry, which makes no sense and is an early textual error. For the phrase, see Or. 11,5 20 Ps 137(136):4.
21 Cf. Dan 3:20.
22 Rom 1:30.
23 Mk 5:9–13; Lk 8:30–33. 24 1 Cor 9:27.
25 Gen 2:7.
26 Cf. Prov 16:18; Lk 18:14.
27 Jer 9:21(20).
28 Job 38:3.
29 Jn 14:2.
30 Rom 12:6.
31 Mt 7:14.
32 1 Cor 12:29.
33 2 Cor 12:4.
34 2(4) Kg 2:11.
35 Ex 3:2; 19:20; 33:18–23.
36 2 Cor 12:2.
37 Gregory suggests in turn the familiar targets of Christian apologetics, some of which reappear in the next Oration. The mention of Aristotle might surprise. His importance for theology was to become apparent only in the centuries after Gregory, for whom he is the author of the Categories and the one who asserted, in a passage that does not survive,that world or worlds. He does not have in mind theories of the atonement.
39 Rev 1:6.

Invocation before the reading of Scripture (PG 37.517–518)St Gregory the Theologian (329-390AD)

”Attend, O all-seeing Father of Christ, to these our petitions.
Be gracious to your servant’s evening song;
for I am one who sets his footstep on the sacred
paths, who knows God to be the only self-generate among the living
5 and Christ to be the king who wards off ills from mortals.
He who once, with mercy on the dread race of suffering mortals,
willingly altered his form upon the Father’s offer.
Incorruptible God, he became a mortal, in order that by his blood
he might free all who toil from the chains of Tartarus.
10 Come now and tend to your servant’s soul
with inspired accounts from the book of holiness and purity.
For thus you might gaze on your servants of the truth
proclaiming true life with a voice as high as heaven.”

From Poems on Scripture.

St Vladimir Seminary Press

The American Schism Spreads.

By Fr Andrew Phillips.

“The sad news came that Archbishop Chrysostom of Cyprus had commemorated the defrocked schismatic Sergei (‘Metropolitan Epifany’) Dumenko as the canonical Metropolitan of the Ukraine. It came two years after he had denied any possibility of this absurd and uncanonical action. However, it still came as no surprise. What price he was paid (by the US ambassador?) or had to pay (in order to keep his job?) for leading the Church of Cyprus into schism we do not know. Now he has divided the whole Synod of the Church of Cyprus into two camps (nine bishops including himself in favour of the schism and seven against).

It is now clear that the schismatic Patriarch Bartholomew has not only led his own Patriarchate into schism, but also the Churches of Greece, Alexandria and Cyprus. Thus, all ethnic Greek Orthodox, numbering on paper nearly 15 million souls, or 7% of the Orthodox world, have fallen into schism. The other 93% remain firm, free of US blackmail and bribery. Of course, the number gone into schism will in reality be far fewer. All practising and canonically conscious Greek Orthodox will remain in the Church. Already African Orthodox, with no loyalty to Greek racism, are in revolt, hoping to free themselves from Greek ethnic oppression and looking for their own long-overdue African Orthodox Church.

The situation mirrors that of 1054. Then, the senior bishops of the Western Patriarchate fell into schism through putting their local Latin ethnic identity above the Universal Church. Now, the senior Greek bishops have done the same, putting their racial identity above Christ, casting aside the foundations of the Church and the age-old order set by the Apostolic canons. This has been on the cards ever since the tiny, rebel Patriarchate of Constantinople abandoned the Orthodox calendar nearly a century ago and supported Communist-backed schismatics in Russia against the holy Patriarch Tikhon. For nearly a century the Church has shown patience with Constantinople. Now it is finished.

Now the Church will go on without them. Like a hen gathering her chicks all over the world, the Church will ignore the irrelevant schismatics who have fallen away under secular pressure, abandoning Christ. We shall gather together all those faithful to Christ and who want to be faithful to Him, building up the Church. From Australia to the Philippines, from Japan to Thailand, from the spiritually unconquered masses of China to the vastness of Siberia, from India to Iran, from the African masses to Darkest Europe, from Alaska to Patagonia, we shall win in the Name of Christ, building up real Orthodox Christianity everywhere.”

Fr Andew. Orthodox England

Who is Fr Andrew ?

Archpriest Andrew Phillips was born in 1956 in a non-practising family that has lived for centuries in the countryside of the Essex-Suffolk border. In childhood he became interested in the history of early England, especially in the local figure of Saint Edmund but also in King Alfred the Great.

At the age of twelve, he began teaching himself Russian and at the same time read for the first time the New Testament. He was struck especially by two phrases: ‘Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you’ (Matt. 6,33) and, ‘the foolishness of God is wiser than men’ (1 Cor. 1,25).

Following religious experiences at this time which were confirmed by reading, at the age of fourteen he conceived the desire to be received into the Russian Orthodox Church. This finally came about in 1975. From the very beginning, he wished to make English this Orthodox Tradition, without in any way watering down the Orthodox Faith with cultural excuses.

After staying in Russia, he gained an M.A. in Russian at Oxford. Here he also studied theology, history and literature. He then went to work in Greece for a year, next going on to study theology full-time at the Orthodox Theological Institute in Paris. Here he was ordained deacon in the Russian Orthodox Church in 1985 and priest in 1991. In all he spent sixteen years living outside England, in Greece, Russia, France and Portugal. In France he worked as a lecturer at the ESSEC Graduate School of Management outside Paris and in Portugal he set up the first ever Russian Orthodox parish in that country. In 1988 he wrote a first book called ‘Orthodox Christianity and the Old English Church’, followed in 1992 by a gazetteer of the English Saints, ‘The Hallowing of England’. This in turn was followed in 1995 first by an anthology of 100 articles written for Orthodox journals over the previous twenty years, entitled ‘Orthodox Christianity and the English Tradition’, and then by a study of the 19th century visionary William Barnes, called ‘The Rebirth of England and English’. A fifth work, ‘The Lighted Way’ appeared at the end of 1999, providing Orthodox Christian perspectives for the Third Millennium. This was followed by a sixth work concerning the Apostle of East Anglia, St Felix, who came to England as a missionary from France.

Leaving his Russian Orthodox parish in the Paris suburbs, he and his family returned to England to carry out missionary work in 1997. He is now the priest of St John’s Orthodox church in his native town of Colchester, Essex. Here he writes prolifically for the Orthodox England website. He lives at Seekings House with his wife, six children and their grandparents, three generations of Orthodox Christians.