View Full Version : Eastern orthodox theology

06-19-2014, 09:55 AM
To our eastern orthodox brethren,

To my understanding, which may be flawed, the Eastern Orthodox disapprove of the sort of 'rationalization' of theology we do in the west, and take a 'a-rational' approach. Salvation and grace are mysteries of God, so no 5-points (like the calvinist TULIP) or something like that.

That being said, what does Eastern theology emphasize on instead? Does this mean no philosophical theology or apologetics also? What is the appropriate relation between faith and reason in your theology?

Thank you for your time and I apologize if I have misunderstood your position.

One Bad Pig
06-19-2014, 10:37 AM
Orthodox theology is above all a lived theology.

Orthodoxy sees its faith as expressed, and tested, in prayer and worship. . . For Eastern Orthodoxy it is in prayer and worship of God that our faith is defined and refined: a God who created the world and loves it, whose love is expressed in his identifying himself with his creation, and especially the human creation, made in his image, through the Incarnation and the cross, a love that is manifested in its transfiguring power through the resurrection. The centrality of prayer and worship prevent us from narrowing down our faith to some human construction, however magnificent. (introduction, pp. xix-xx)

We stand before God. We are always standing before God, for there is no place where God is not, as opposed to a place where he is: wherever we are we are before God. But there are places where, from a human perspective, the presence of God is more apparent to us, places where it is less easy for us to forget that God is here. . . I want to suggest that the first step in the pursuit of Orthodox theology, in coming to know God in accordance with the Orthodox tradition, is the rediscovery of this sense of standing before God (standing is a more customary attitude for prayer in the Eastern Orthodox tradition than kneeling), and pre-eminently standing before God in church. This is the place where people pray, where the liturgical services are held, a place surrounded and defined by icons. It is filled with the evidence of human worship of God - the singing of sacred song, the sight of sacred architecture and garments, the smell of the incense, the touching of sacred things - icons and relics - and the sense of other people standing before God. This is where we start.

Many who stand in such a place are already committed to the faith being celebrated. Yet you do not have to believe to go into a church; you can stand there alongside people who do believe, next to people you know, or even out of curiosity. But here is where theology begins, according to the Orthodox tradition, at least as I understand it: in a mysterious togetherness, mediated by silence (chattering during the services is not encouraged, even if it sometimes difficult to prevent), full of sounds and smells that seem to interpret this silence rather than dissolve it. And here, too, it may end - caught up in the presence of God, open to his spirit, bearing before him in our hearts the concerns of those with whom we have to do. If we seek to understand it, we shall only ever understand in part. But there is something to understand, and such understanding is what we might well call theology. (pp. 4-5)

While reason has its place, Orthodoxy recognizes that God is "ineffable, incomprehensible, invisible, inconceivable, ever existing, eternally the same," as the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom declares. Apologetics also has its place, but, rather than endeavoring to convert others by reason alone, Orthodoxy says, "Come and see."