December 8, 2021

The Contemporary Problems of the Church According to Father John Romanides

 By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

The late Father John Romanides lived in the 20th century, then he died in 2001, at the beginning of the 21st century, and dealt with all the problems of his time through the empirical theology of the Church.

Precisely because he relied on the theology of the Saints, who did not talk about that which pertains to God, but about God, that is why he had acquired a spiritual sense to foresee the problems that exist in every age that need to be confronted by the shepherds of the Church.

In fact, he claimed that a theologian is also a spiritual father and a spiritual father is also a theologian. He said this because real theology, which is the essence of the pastoral ministry, distinguishes the created from the uncreated, the energies of God from the energies of the devil, which is characterized as discernment. Both the theologian and the spiritual father must have the patristic discernment to help their spiritual children.

Referring to the challenges that the Church will be called upon to face in the future, and he basically meant the 21st century, that is, our time, he said that there will be three of them.

The first challenge will be ecumenism, which confuses the theology of the Prophets, Apostles and Fathers with the theology of philosophers and thinkers, with the result that a syncretism prevails.

The second challenge will be the search by all for human rights. Of course, we must not tolerate the violation of human rights in education, society, freedom, which are carried out by the powerful of the modern world and dictatorial mentalities, but we must not remain only on the external side of human rights and be ignorant of the possibility that one can see the glory of God depending on their attainment of selfless love.

A third challenge will be the relationship between theology and science. In the West, Christianity relied on philosophical metaphysics, which is why it came into conflict with the then developing science. On the contrary, Orthodox theology has another purpose, to speak of the God of Revelation and to lead man to communion with God, and therefore there can be no conflict between true theology and true science.

Father John Romanides, with the theological knowledge he had and the prophetic theology he expressed, understood the challenges that the Church has in our days. Indeed, all the contemporary problems that plague the Church come from ecumenism, the deification of human rights, and the conflict between faith and medical science. And, of course, the Church has a problem with Christians, clergy and monks who cannot distinguish Orthodox theological knowledge from the confusion caused by syncretistic ecumenism, the deification of human rights and contemporary scientific achievements.

For this reason, more than ever, today we need clergy, monks and theologians, who, on the one hand, have a "watchful mind, prudent thoughts, a vigilant heart", and on the other one hand recognize the facts of the contemporary age, society and of science, to distinguish the created from the uncreated, the divine from the demonic, spiritual health from paranoia and fanaticism.

We need people who participate in the purifying, illuminating and deifying energy of God, but at the same time, as the great Fathers of the Church did, to know the facts of our time for the sake of all our souls. When there are no such patristic standards, but unilateral and fanatical people prevail, then we should have more confidence in the institutions of the Church, the Synodal Committees and the Synodal Decisions.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.