July 30, 2014

The Orthodox Approach to Apologetics and Theological Knowledge

Fr. Philotheos Pharos:

- "Faith is not the intellectual coercion Western Christianity has come to know, according to which a person must believe because there exists logical argument A and B, for such a person has not personally verified these things. Faith is rather the path and means by which a person can make these verifications.

The Orthodox spiritual tradition does not ask from a person to accept something that has not been verified. It does not force them to accept that Jesus is 'everything written in the Law of Moses and in the prophets', namely the Savior, rather it asks for them to come and see for themselves with their own eyes, 'come and see'."

Fr. John Romanides:

- "Human beings can have two kinds of faith. The first kind of faith, which has its seat in the mind, is the reasonable faith of acceptance. In this case, a person rationally accepts something and believes in what he has accepted, but this faith does not justify him. When Holy Scripture says, 'man is saved by faith alone' (Eph. 2:8), it does not mean that he is saved merely by the faith of acceptance. There is, however, another kind of faith, the faith of the heart. It is referred to in this way because this kind of faith is not found in the human reason or intellect, but in the region of the heart. This faith of the heart is a gift of God that you will not receive unless God decides to grant it."

- "In terms of modern science, an Orthodox theologian is under no obligation to engage in apologetics like the Latins do over the question of the soul's immortality, the existence of a spiritual soul, or metaphysical epistemology. He is under no obligation whatsoever. On the contrary, I would say that he is obligated to do precisely the opposite - that is, to try not to engage in apologetics and simply to present the Patristic positions on these subjects."

- "Knowledge is purely empirical in all the positive sciences. According to the Fathers of the Church, the same happens in theology."

- "The Fathers only accepted empirical phenomena. Illumination is a purely empirical phenomenon, nothing else. Glorification too is an empirical condition. The entire theology of the Church originates from these empirical states."

- "The Fathers say that, if they were to use reason as a basis, people would continuously quarrel among themselves, because everyone sees things differently using their own reason. Unless reason is corrected by trial, experience and observation, it is uncontrollable. Everyone imagines whatever they like."

- "In order to theologize, someone must have experience of theology, not just think about it.... He will pass through purification, he will reach illumination, and then he will be a theologian once he has illumination."

Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos:

- "Theology does not belong among the theoretical branches of learning, such as philosophy and metaphysics, but among the practical and positive sciences. This is because in Orthodox theology, as in the positive sciences, there is observation and experiment. An event is observed, someone arrives at a theory, and subsequently he has the possibility of verifying this theory."

- "Those who have reached the stage of glorification have personal experience of God. They see the glory of God."

- "Thus there is the God of the experience of the saints and the God of the philosophers and speculative thinkers, and there is a difference between the two. The experience of the saints is not the same as the speculation of the philosophers."

- "Orthodox theology is not metaphysical. Some people make the serious mistake of identifying it with metaphysics. Whatever we know about God comes from the experience of the saints who beheld God and from our own experience, if we have any."

- "Orthodox theology is taught by those who have personal experience of glorification. Someone can learn about God intellectually, but when he reaches the experience of glorification this intellectual experience ceases."