31 October 2011

The Didache, or Teaching of the Apostles, and Sola Scriptura, with Commentary

The Didache is the earliest Christian writing we have that is not contained in the New Testament. It was written around AD 60 (though, admittedly, this date is debated by some scholars), which means it actually predates much, if not most, of the writings contained in the New Testament.

  • Because it predates so much of the New Testament, what we have here is a writing produced by a community by whom Sola Scriptura was not only not believed in, but for whom Sola Scriptura would have been impossible! (no Scriptura = no Sola Scriptura)

  • Also because of its very early date, the Didache is a powerful witness to the early Church -- the earliest Church in fact; the Church of the Apostolic Age -- and is a powerful piece of evidence that the Faith of the Orthodox Church today is the exact same as that of Christians of those times.

The Didache has been known in an extended Ethiopic version, called the Didascalia for a very long time -- it's actually part of the extended New Testament canon of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. It was discovered in its Greek original, though, in 1873, in the library of an Orthodox monastery by the Orthodox Metropolitan of Nicomedia Philotheos Bryennios.

The Didache (Greek, meaning "teaching") is a church order manual. Some of the early Fathers considered it Scriptural, but it was eventually excluded from the New Testament largely because it was unnecessary to include a manual of church order in Sacred Writ.

So let's look at the Faith as it was believed and lived by the early Christians who lived even before Scripture, and compare it on a few points with the Faith of the Orthodox Church today.

On Baptism:
"But concerning baptism, thus shall ye baptize. Having first recited all these things, baptize in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit in living [running] water. But if thou hast not living water, then baptize in other water; and if thou art not able in cold, then in warm. But if thou hast neither, then pour water on the head thrice in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. But before the baptism let him that baptizeth and him that is baptized fast, and any others also who are able; and thou shalt order him that is baptized to fast a day or two before." - Didache, 7:1-7
The early Christian practices of Baptism via triple immersion and fasting before Baptism are still preserved in the Orthodox Church today.

On fasting:
"And let not your fastings be with the hypocrites [Jews], for they fast on the second [Monday] and the fifth [Thursday] day of the week; but do ye keep your fast on the fourth [Wednesday] and on the preparation [the sixth -- Friday] day." - Didache, 8:1-2
The early Christian practice of fasting on Wednesdays and Fridays is still preserved in the Orthodox Church today.

On the Eucharist:
"But let no one eat or drink of this eucharistic thanksgiving, but they that have been baptized into the name of the Lord; for concerning this also the Lord hath said: Give not that which is holy to the dogs." - Didache, 9:10-12
The early Christian practice of closed Communion (that is, Communion only for Baptized members of the Church) is still preserved in the Orthodox Church today.

As you can see, the Didache preserves for us a record of how the earliest Christians lived, Christians who lived even before the writings of the New Testament were put to pen and paper. Sola Scriptura would have been completely impossible for them -- and yet they were a thriving Christian community and one whose Faith is still preserved and observed in the Holy Tradition of the Orthodox Church today, even in small details like triple immersion Baptism and fasting on Fridays. The community which produced the Didache was Apostolic in the most literal sense of the word and this document is a demonstration of the Apostolic nature of the Orthodox Church's Holy Traditions -- Traditions which may not be explicitly laid out in Scripture, in some cases, but which in many instances pre-date Scripture!

If you'd like to read the Didache for yourself and make your own comparisons with the various Christian groups today, you can check it out online here or buy a hardbound version of The Didache here.

29 October 2011

My 15 Favorite Spiritual Books That I Own and Read

Tonight I was rearranging my books, putting my favorites and most reread books together in a special place. They numbered 15 and I thought this list would make for a great blog post with links to buy them for yourselves. If you do not have these books, I highly recommend you get them all and read them then reread them as quickly as possible!
  1. The Septuagint with Apocrypha (Greek and English) by Sir Lancelot Brenton: This edition of The Septuagint with Apocrypha (the ancient Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament and the apocryphal books of the same linguistic origin) gives the complete Greek text along with a parallel English translation by Brenton.
  2. The Orthodox Psalter (The Psalterion According to the Seventy) by Holy Apostles Convent: With so many Psalters available to the English reader, why select this one? The ecclesiastical English is most faithful to the original Greek, and diligently compared with the Psalterion of the Church of Greece, published by Apostolike Diakonia. This brand-new translation echoes the rhythms of the original Greek, which was faithful to the Hebrew idiom. The full-sized version with Commentary, reflecting the Orthodox perspective and interpretation of the spiritual insights of the holy Fathers from the East and West, promises to be an enriched reading experience that resonates with understanding of God’s word through the Psalmist David and others. Now you can read the Psalter and find answers to commonly asked textual and theological queries. This volume can help bring about a deeper relationship with God and reinforced faith in the Christ. This is a one-of-a-kind Psalter which borrows from the whole spectrum of patristic authority for a dependable and valuable resource, not only for Church readings, but also for devotional reading, Bible study, sermon preparation, and teaching. Therefore, come and explore the sacred writings with the champion holy Fathers of Orthodoxy so as to attain a better understanding of the wide range of prophetical, allegorical, mystical, and moralizing explanations of the verses. Even for those who do not know Greek or Hebrew, exegetical material found within this book gives critical analysis of key words, that is not overly technical, for both beginners and scholars alike.
  3. The Orthodox New Testament Volume 1: The Holy Gospels (Evangelistarion) by Holy Apostles Convent: With so many English New Testaments on the market, which version is most faithful to the original Greek? How do you choose one that reflects Orthodox perspective and theological content? Our Orthodox monasteries, Holy Apostles Convent and Dormition Skete, labored seven years, with a committee of contributors, to present this fully illustrated Orthodox translation, which has been diligently compared against the original Greek text, the authorized version (1912) of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, and the King James Version. There was no compromise of accuracy and reliability in this brand-new translation which echoes the rhythms and idioms of the original Greek. This promises to be an enriched reading experience that gives you an in-depth understanding of God’s word, answering commonly asked textual and theological queries for vital and penetrating insights into God’s word.
  4. The Orthodox New Testament Volume 2: Acts, Epistles, and Revelation (Praxapostolos) by Holy Apostles Convent: We have brought together a trustworthy and one-of-a-kind patristic commentary which draws from the whole spectrum of the authority of the Church Fathers for a rich, dependable, invaluable resource for devotional reading, Bible study, sermon preparation, and teaching. Explore the Scriptures with the champions of Orthodoxy with hundreds of succinct, reliable, and inspiring commentaries that elaborate on difficult passages, thereby providing a clearer understanding. Gain a greater understanding of the shades of meaning in the original language with word studies stressing meaningful nuances in the Greek, but often lost in other translations. Even for those who do not know Greek, exegetical material gives critical analysis of key words, that is not overly technical, for both beginners and scholars alike.
  5. Christ the Eternal TAO by Hieromonk Damascene of Platina & Lao Tzu: Not until now has the ancient wisdom of Lao Tzu been presented alongside the otherworldly revelation of Jesus Christ in a way that encompasses the full significance of both. Christ the Eternal Tao presents the Tao Teh Ching as a foreshadowing of what would be revealed by Christ, and Lao Tzu himself as a Far-Eastern prophet of Christ the incarnate God. Through heretofore unpublished translations and teachings of Gi-ming Shien -- perhaps the greatest Chinese philosopher to have ever come to the West -- this book uncovers the esoteric core of the Tao Teh Ching. Then, through the transmission of mystics of the ancient Christian East, Lao Tzu's teaching is brought into a new dimension, exploding with new meanings. Christ, in turn, is seen in a unique light, His pure image shining in the clarity of Lao Tzu's intuitive vision.With its practical, time-tested advice on how to unite oneself with the incarnate Tao and acquire uncreated Teh, this is both a philosophical source-book and a spiritual manual, touching the heart and leading one to profound inward transformation. It is a long-awaited Answer to those who, having turned away from modern Western "churchianity," are drawn to the freshness, directness and simplicity of Lao Tzu, and at the same time are strangely, inexplicably drawn back to the all-compelling reality of Jesus Christ.
  6. Orthodox Dogmatic Theology: A Concise Exposition by Protopresbyter Michael Pomazansky: A systematic exposition of the Faith, long a standard in Russian-speaking seminary classes. Fr. Seraphim Rose's translation (and introduction) make the work both accessible and appealing to English-speaking Orthodox. The work is neither technical nor pedantic, and is addressed not to "professional theologians", but rather to pastors, and indeed to all Orthodox Christians. Extensive additional substantive footnotes by the current editors enhance the value of the work.
  7. Genesis, Creation and Early Man by Hieromonk Seraphim of Platina: Amidst the creation/evolution debate that is now raging, with evidence being offered for both sides, few have made use of what Fr. Seraphim Rose called "the missing evidence": the teaching of the ancient Orthodox Holy Fathers on the events of creation, the first-created world, the natures of created things, and the original nature of man. Now for the first time in the English language, this teaching has been gathered together and set forth in a thorough, detailed, and above all honest manner. Perhaps more than anyone else in our times, Fr. Seraphim Rose searched, studied, prayed and suffered to understand how the ancients noetically apprehended the creation in the light of the God-inspired book of Genesis. Having acquired their mind, he has presented to the modern world the harmonious Patristic vision of the cosmos. A vital answer to the contemporary "crisis of meaning," this book sheds startling new light on the mysteries of our origin. The Divine vision of the ancient Fathers opens up unforeseen dimensions of the creation: deeper levels of reality that cannot be reached through rational or scientific means.
  8. The Soul After Death by Hieromonk Seraphim of Platina: Fr. Seraphim presents one of the basic traditions of Orthodox teaching on the "afterlife" (concerning which Holy Scripture is remarkably silent, and Orthodoxy maintains an open tradition), and in its light examines many of the contemporary and occult accounts of after-death experiences, popularized by so many writers of such varying degrees of responsibility -- or lack thereof.
  9. Orthodoxy and the Religion of the Future by Hieromonk Serpahim of Platina: Having passed already through six printings and two editions, this volume has established itself as a classic primer of the Orthodox viewpoint concerning the cults and occult of the "New Age". Much as these things change from year to year, in essence they change scarcely at all -- the occultists of our century are guided by the same demonic forces known to the Fathers of the desert nearly two millennia ago. Fr. Seraphim's astute analysis is a valuable weapon in our spiritual armory.
  10. The Apocalypse: In the Teachings of Ancient Christianity by Archbishop Averky Taushev: Translated and with an introduction by Fr. Seraphim of Platina of blessed memory, this detailed commentary on the Book of Revelation (more accurately, the Apocalypse) by one of the spiritual giants of our age is perhaps the only reliable guide readily available in English to an Orthodox understanding of its complexities. In reading both the commentary and the book, it is wise to remember that it required seven centuries for the Church to reach oneness of mind that this book was indeed to be regarded as part of Holy Scripture.
  11. The Path to Salvation: A Manual of Spiritual Transformation by Saint Theophan the Recluse: A classic textbook of the spiritual life, from a true Church Father of not so far past Russia. The translation was one of the last works of Fr. Seraphim (Rose), of blessed memory, here offered in its entirety for the first time in English.
  12. The Spiritual Life: And How to Be Attuned to It by Saint Theophan the Recluse: This series of eighty letters to a young woman, touching upon an endless variety of matters of concern in the spiritual life, is eminently practical and down to earth. Bishop Theophan, withdrawn from the world as he was, nevertheless was capable of communicating effectively with those who remain very much in the world.
  13. A Spiritual Psalter (Reflections on God in the Manner of the Psalms of David) by Saint Ephraim the Syrian: A collection of hymns, compiled from the writings of St. Ephraim by Bishop Theophan the Recluse. This book, which long constituted one of the favorite sources of reading for monastics in prerevolutianary Russia, has become a best-seller. Second edition, printed in red & black on high quality paper, gilded edges, ribbon, gold-stamped flexible case-binding. A beautiful book.
  14. The Ladder of Divine Ascent by Saint John Climacus: How do we get from here (the world) to there (the Kingdom)? Not by magic, but rather by hard work (possible only through the grace given by God!). St. John addresses the path, the ladder by which we may climb. The only problem is that most of us fall off at about the first or second rung... and must get back on and try again. Traditionally read in monasteries during Lent, and equally well-suited for all of us.
  15. My Life in Christ by Saint John of Kronstadt: Certainly one of the great spiritual classics. The fruit of years of spiritual struggle and pastoral ministry amongst the poor and downtrodden of a harbor town, St. John's diary speaks eloquently of every dimension of the spiritual life.
A wide array of authors in this mix with Greeks, Arabs, Russians, Serbians, British, Asians, and Americans; including both still-living and recently deceased clergymen of blessed memory, to modern and ancient saints. Obviously there are no books in my library by those of the Parisian School of Modernism and Ecumenism such as Protopresbyter John Meyendorff, Protopresbyter Thomas Hopko, Metropolitan Bishop Anthony Bloom of Sourozh, Protopresbyer Alexander Schmemann, or deposed deacon Lev Puhalo, who tend to water down the faith with questioning and Western scholasticism rather than understanding and believing then explaining the foundations of the Church Fathers built on the Rock of Christ.

28 October 2011

A Timeline of Church History: Tracing the birth and continuity of the Christian Church from Pentecost to the present.

A word about Church History...

Scholars estimate there are over 33,000 groups today who lay claim to be the Church, or at least descendants of the Church described in the New Testament. Repeat: OVER 33,000!

But for the first thousand years of her history the Church was essentially one. Five historic patriarchal centers—Jerusalem, Antioch, Rome, Alexandria, and Constantinople — formed a cohesive whole and were in full communion with one another. There were occasional heretical or schismatic groups going their own way, to be sure, but the Church was unified until after the eleventh century. Then, in events culminating in A.D. 1054, the Roman Patriarch (The Pope of Rome) pulled away from the other four patriarchates, pursuing his long-developing claim of universal headship of the Church.

Today, nearly a thousand years later, the other four Patriarchate remain intact, in full communion, maintaining that Orthodox Apostolic Faith of the inspired New Testament record. The history of the New Testament Church, The Orthodox Church, is described herein, from Pentecost to the present day.

New Testament Era
  • 33 - Pentecost
  • 49 - Council at Jerusalem (Acts 15) establishes precedent for addressing Church disputes in Council. Iakovos/James presides as bishop of Jerusalem.
  • 69 - Bishop Ignatius consecrated in Antioch in heart of New Testament era—St. Peter had been the first bishop there. Other early bishops include Iakovos/James, Polycarp, and Clement.
  • 95 - Book of Revelation written, probably the last of the New Testament books.
  • 150 - St. Justin Martyr describes the liturgical worship of the Church, centered in the Eucharist. Liturgical worship is rooted in both the Old and New Testaments.
  • 313 - The Edict of Milan marks an end to the period of Roman persecution of Christianity.
Seven Ecumenical Councils
  • 325 - The Council of Nicea settles the major heretical challenge to the Christian Faith posed when the heretic Arius asserts Christ was created by the Father. St. Athanasius defends the eternality of the Son of God. Nicea is the first of Seven Ecumenical (Church-wide) Councils.
  • 397 - Synod of Carthage ratifies biblical canon.
  • 451  - The Council of Chalcedon affirms apostolic doctrine of two natures in Christ.
  • 589 - A local errant synod in Toledo, Spain, adds the filioque to the Nicene Creed (asserting that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son). This error is later adopted by Rome.
  • 787 - The era of Ecumenical Councils ends at Nicea; the Seventh Council restores the centuries-old use of icons to the Church.
The Western Schism
  • 880 - The Photian Schism further complicates the debate over Roman heresies.
  • 988 - Conversion of Rus' (Russian) begins.
  • 1054 - The Great Schism occurs. Two major issues include Rome's claim to a universal papal supremacy and her addition of the filioque clause to the Nicene Creed.
Attacks on Orthodoxy and Byzantium
  • 1066 - Norman conquest of Britain. Orthodox hierarchs are replaced with those loyal to Rome.
  • 1095 - The Crusades begun by the Roman Church.
  • 1204 - The Sack of Constantinople adds to the estrangement between East and West.
  • 1333 - St. Gregory Palamas defends the Orthodox practice of hesychast spirituality and the use of the Jesus Prayer.
  • 1453 - Turks overrun Constantinople; Byzantine Empire ends. Christianity's greatest church turned into a mosque.
The Western Schism Multiplies While the Orthodox Church Strengthens
  • 1517 - A Roman monk, Martin Luther, nails his 95 Theses to the door of the Roman Church in Wittenberg, starting the Protestant Reformation.
  • 1529 - The Church of England begins pulling away from Rome.
  • 1589 - Russian Church made a Patriarchate as Moscow is named the Third Rome.
  • 1782 - First publishing of the The Philokalia, a classic of spirituality.
  • 1794 - Missionaries arrive on Kodiak Island in Alaska; Orthodoxy introduced to North America.
  • 1854 - The Immaculate Conception becomes Roman dogma.
  • 1870 - Papal infaliability becomes Roman dogma.
  • 1871 - St. Nicholas establishes the Japanese Mission.
  • 1988 - One thousand years of Orthodoxy in Russia, as Orthodox Church worldwide maintains fullness of the Apostolic Faith. (Not even the Roman Church has been independent that long, not to mention that the oldest Protestant churches are not even 500 years old!)
  • 1995 - Orthodoxy is the fastest growing Church in America as Americans start to study Church history.
Click on the images above to enlarge and uncover the truth about the true Church timeline.

27 October 2011

Encyclical of Archbishop Demetrios for OXI Day - October 28, 2011

Protocol Number 194/11
October 28, 2011

To the Most Reverend Hierarchs, the Reverend Priests and Deacons, the Monks and Nuns, the Presidents and Members of the Parish Councils of the Greek Orthodox Communities, the Distinguished Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the Day, Afternoon, and Church Schools, the Philoptochos Sisterhoods, the Youth, the Hellenic Organizations, and the entire Greek Orthodox Family in America

Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

The remembrance of October 28, 1940 through our annual observance of OXI Day is our excellent opportunity to honor the courage of those who stood firm in the face of tyranny and to cherish the freedom that we have inherited due to their great sacrifice. This is a day of memorial for the people of Greece who were unwilling to defile the liberty gained by earlier generations by cowering under the threats of totalitarian regimes. The response of “NO” to the demands of tyrants and their destructive agendas was a true and exemplary act of courage for all humanity. This is also a day of gratitude and thanksgiving. In calling to mind the great sacrifices of that era, our hearts are grateful for what has been offered for the sake of freedom, self-determination, and truth. Our response continues to be an annual offering of memorial and praise to our fathers and mothers and of thanksgiving for the blessings of our heritage which brings joy and peace to our lives.

In this spirit of remembrance and gratitude we must also recognize that OXI Day presents a great challenge. Certainly, this is a challenge to greater levels of civic engagement and awareness so that we are able to offer what is good and just in our communities and nation. It is also a challenge to protect and nurture a responsible and mature understanding of freedom which does not use liberty as an opportunity for engaging in carnal activities, but as an opportunity for serving one another in love (Galatians 5:13).

The challenge of OXI Day calls every person to stand firm for truth in the face of tyranny, to identify evil even when we are powerless, to be courageous in the midst of oppression, and to champion justice and confront violence with hearts and minds of peace. The response of “NO” on October 28, 1940 revealed an unwillingness to sacrifice ideals for the sake of convenience and deny a heritage of freedom and democracy to avoid hardship. It was a firm denouncement of evil agendas which were fueling machines of power with the destruction of human life and communities. Further, the Greeks of OXI gave an example of courage and hope that inspires us to know what makes us free and to offer these assurances to all of humanity.

We do this when we remember OXI day and accept its challenge. When we stand firm on the witness of our heritage, grounded in the truth of our faith in God, we will be able to confront evil with a boldness that reveals the One who has defeated sin and death and offers assurance of life. As people of faith, who do not have a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind (II Timothy 1:7) in the service of God and humankind, we will be able to annunciate a resounding “NO” to any person or force seeking to destroy life and well-being or to abolish liberty for the sake of domination. In accepting this challenge, we will continue to champion the needs of those who do not have the freedom or are not allowed the rights that foster a quality of life and security befitting all human beings.

On this OXI Day, I encourage all of the faithful throughout America, all who are the beneficiaries of this heritage of freedom and courage and of great faith and sacrifice, to remember the courageous deeds of our past and to accept the challenge of this day for our future. In faith and truth and in the strength of God, may we stand firm as witnesses of the love that overcomes evil, the justice that affirms what is good, and the peace that gives us hope in any condition of life from now to eternity.

With paternal love in Christ,
Archbishop of America

26 October 2011

My (Continuing) Journey Through Orthodoxy

At the beginning of this year I blogged about my 15 years through and to Orthodox Christianity. I ended that blog post with this paragraph:
"When I moved to Texas, after long considering my options with fervent prayer, I eventually started visiting local Orthodox Churches. Saint John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Church was one I went to, and my wife loved Vespers there, so we attended there for Vespers. The Divine Liturgy there was not to my liking, and thankfully we also had Saint Barbara Orthodox Church a little further away. While eventually I started to confess at Saint John's, it was a long time until we decided to join Saint Barbara's. We had our marriage blessed there and only after my son was Baptized there on his 100th day, I started to commune. The marriage blessing was something that was required before I could commune at either of the Texas parishes."
I wanted to dig into the life of my new parishes in more depth as we get to the end of the Gregorian Calendar year.

I started the year going to Vespers alone every Saturday night, eventually taking Daniel with me. In time, my wife did not need to rest during that time and started coming too. As I stated once before, my wife likes the Byzantine style chant better than Russian 4-part harmony. She also likes that it is closer to our home. In time, I have gotten more accustomed to the chanting and can chant along to some of it. After Vespers, Confession is available with the Presbyter from Romania, Father Vasile.

During this time, I also found out that Saint John's has 6:00am Divine Liturgy on every major and many minor feast days, so I am able to attend Divine Liturgy before work and do not have to contemplate using vacation to go to Church! Saint Barbara's does like most parishes and hold Feast Day Divine Liturgies at the usual time of 10:00am. Sometimes it is only the yia-yias (older pious ladies), the readers, servers, chanters, and myself, but I love it all the same.

Because of that, many weeks I am at Saint John's much more than I am at Saint Barbara's. Especially when you figure in that on the rare occasion I go to Saint Barbara's for a Wednesday night Vespers, it is only 30 minutes long, while Saint John's is a full hour. My wife thinks we should probably split our tithes between the churches, not giving our full 10% to Saint Barbara's since we I am at Saint John's as much.

The reason that I am rarely able to go to Wednesday night services is that I work until 7:30pm most nights and then have a group Men's Group/Bible Study from 7:30-9:00pm. However, once a month, I get to work 8:00am-5:00pm and go to General Confession at Saint Barbara's from 6:00-7:00pm and if our Men's Group gets cancelled, I will stay for Vespers from 7:00-7:30pm.

However it all works out, in truth, both parishes are equally spiritual homes for my family and I that we love very much.

UPDATE: My story continues at http://orthodoxscouter.blogspot.com/2012/07/my-continuous-journey-through-orthodoxy.html

25 October 2011

Menalogion 3.0 Review and Recommended LXX Tweaks/Hacks

MENOLOGION 3.0 is a free computer program which provides an easy way to access the Troparia and Kontakia, Bible Readings and Lives of Saints of the day. This might be useful for a variety of reasons. If you would like to put the Troparia and Kontakia, Bible Readings or Lives of Saints in a Sunday bulletin, for instance, you will be able to find the items you want easily, and copy them to the Windows clipboard, so that you can paste them directly into your word processor or publishing program.

You can access the Troparia and Kontakia, Bible Readings and Lives of Saints for every day of the year. When MENOLOGION starts, it reads the date set in your computer's clock and displays the selected readings for the current date. You can set the program to display dates according to the Old Calendar or the New Calendar. You can select any date and display the Troparia and Kontakia or Bible Readings for that date. It is also possible to browse through the Troparia and Kontakia, Bible Readings and Lives of Saints either forward or backward day by day. And you can search for and find saints by name.

MENOLOGION can also display an Icon next to the text of Troparia and Kontakia or Bible Readings. There are 53 Icons included in the main program, with another 380 Icons available in an optional Supplemental Icon Library, containing at least one saint for every day of the year. MENOLOGION can be downloaded either with or without the Supplemental Icon Library, and the Supplemental Icon Library itself can be downloaded separately.


Unlike MENOLOGION 2.0, which was not updated since it was released in 2001, MENOLOGION 3.0 is in active development. While it is a well developed, mature and stable program, it is also a work in progress, and there will be periodic updates released fixing reported bugs and adding new features. The latest release of MENOLOGION 3.0 can always be found on this page. Bugs and feature requests should be sent to Michael Purcell. For information on how to correctly report a bug or problem, see the "Reporting Bugs" topic in the MENOLOGION 3.0 help file. You can find the topic under "Other Information" on the Contents tab in the left hand pane of the help system window.


MENOLOGION 3.0 adds the ability to use different translations (versions) of the bible. Bible versions that can be installed in MENOLOGION are plain text files provided by The Unbound Bible. These plain text files can be downloaded from the MENOLOGION home page (see below), but are no longer available for download from The Unbound Bible website. The unicode text bible files that can be downloaded from the Unbound Bible website can not be used. MENOLOGION 3.0 is an English only program, and the bible files avilable for download include nine different English language translations. There are also some ancient translations and some translations in Western European languages. These additional versions seem to work acceptably well in MENOLOGION, providing additional flexibility. However, MENOLOGION is not designed to read unicode text files, and can not display languages that require other language versions of Windows. This means that MENOLOGION can not correctly display Greek, Cyrilic, Asian and other such languages that use different alphabets.

I am interested in receiving as much feedback as possible on the use of these bibles files, the ancient translations and foreign language translations in particular, so that I can provide this information to potential users. If you are using one or more of these bibles, please Contact Me. Also write if you want to experiment with a bible in a language that is not available for download.


  • Added functionality and readings of Lives of Saints for every day of the year from a translation of the Mesyatseslov of Saints Lives from the 1978-1979 Volumes 2-3 of the Moscow Patriarchate texts, as translated into English by Father Stephen Janos. Includes search capability.
  • Added the ability to use different translations (versions) of the Bible. Added a function to allow the user to install and uninstall up to eleven different Bible versions in addition to the default King James version, for a total of twelve versions. The Bible Versions page of the Preferences dialog displays which version is currently active for each of New Testament, Old Testament and Apocrypha, for both Bible Readings and Bible Search and allows the user to choose from among the installed versions. The Bible Files page of the Preferences dialog displays the names of the installed files, and allows the user to install or uninstall Bible versons, as well as to edit the installed file's names.
  • Corrected lookup of Gospel and Epistle verses for the latter part of the liturgical year. Specifically, when selected, the readings from the book of Luke begin on the Monday following the Sunday after the Elevation of the Cross in September, regardless of the place in the movable cycle. Also, the readings that are displayed beginning on the 32nd Sunday after Pentecost (or the 14th Sunday of Luke), and up until the Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee (or the Samaritan Woman), are handled more correctly. Added a check box in the preferences dialog where use of the "Lukan Jump" can be selected or deselected.
  • Changed the filename convention used for saving customized Bible readings, so that customized readings are no longer displayed incorrectly between Old Calendar and New Calendar dates, or in years previous to or following the year the changes were made. Now when a Bible reading is customized, it will only be displayed in the year the custom reading was created, and will only be displayed in Old Calendar if it was created in Old Calendar, or New Calendar if it was created in New Calendar.
  • Added a Preferences dialog which is opened on the Options menu. Some of the program preferences have been moved from the Options menu to the Preferences page of the Preferences dialog.
  • The "Find the Date of Easter" command on the Help menu now displays the date of Easter and the date of Pascha for both this year and next year. In Old Calendar, it displays both the civil date and Julian calendar date for Pascha.
  • Added the ability to select whether MENOLOGION displays saved personalized files or original texts when the program first opens or when the date is changed. This is set on the Preferences page of the Preferences dialog.
  • Added "Search to End of Chapter" and "Search to end of Book" check boxes on the Find Bible Verses dialog. Also, an added panel at the bottom of the Find Bible Verses dialog displays the verse number range for all the chapters of the currently selected book. The Find Bible Verses dialog is now reinitialized each time it is opened, unless the program is in Bible Search mode, in which case the dialog remembers its settings.
  • Added a "Return to Today" button on the Main Toolbar between the "Previous Day" and "Next Day" buttons, and a corresponding "Return to Today" command on the File menu. Added "Previous Year" and "Next Year" buttons on the Main Toolbar, and corresponding commands on the File menu.
  • Added "print page __ to __" and "print selection" ability to the Print dialog.
  • The "Delete File" command on the File menu is now invisible unless there is a personalized file to delete.
  • The Save As dialog, and the Open dialog used to install Bible files, remember their last used directory from one session to the next. The default directory for both dialogs is My Documents.
  • Changed the directory where application data is stored to conform with the current Windows convention of data use. Added a Browse Application Data Directory button on the Preferences page of the Preferences dialog that opens Windows Explorer to the data directory. The directory where Bible data files and personalized files are now stored is the application data directory, which is usually something like C:\Documents and Settings\ [User Name]\Application Data\Menologion\.
  • Added a Query dialog that appears only the first time Menologion is run as a new installation, which asks users if they prefer to use the Julian Calendar (Old Calendar) or the Revised Julian Calendar (New Calendar), and sets the program preferences accordingly.
  • MENOLOGION will now run only one instance at a time. If the user tries to open the program when an instance is already running, the existing instance will be restored and brought to the front.


These are user contributed supplemental files for the MENOLOGION program. They are direct replacements for the default Gutenberg bible files OldTstmt.dat, NewTstmt.dat and Apoc.dat that are installed in the program directory. It is the user's responsibility to maintain these files. MENOLOGION will not function correctly if one or more of the files is missing from the program directory.

OldTstmt.zip 1.0 MB This is an updated public domain Old Testament module to conform to the LXX. This is a work in progress by Nelson Mitrophan Chin. This Old Testament is being restored to the LXX order according to H.B. Swete using the English translation of Brenton (1851). All Hebrew Masoretic additions and variations are bracketted and noted as such. KJV chapter and verse numbering are preserved in parenthesis for easy referencing.

All instances of the name Eliu is replaced with the more familiar Greek 'Elias' also known as Elijah. Suffer is replaced by give in Ps 15(16):10 to preserve the Greek verb dwseiv. For the Greek term 'sitw', corn is used instead of oil in Hosea 7:14.

The Song of the Three Holy Children and the Prayer of Azariah has been restored back to the LXX order of Daniel 3:24-90, inserted between verses 23 and 24 of the King James Version. Dn 3:24-30; 4:1-3 KJV are renumbered to 3:91-101. Daniel 4:4-37 KJV to Dn 4:1-33. The History of Susanna and the History of the Destruction of Bel and the Dragon, cut off from the end of Daniel in the KJV, has been restored back to the LXX order of Daniel as chapters 13 and 14.

The Greek Additions to Esther is restored to the LXX order with additions from Brenton's:

  • Es 11:2-12:6 KJV (Add. A) is prepended to Es 1, as Es 1:1-17.
  • Es 1:1-22 KJV as Es 1:18-39.
  • Es 13:1-7 KJV (Add. B) is inserted between Es 3:13 and 3:14 KJV, and renumbered as Es 3:14-20.
  • Es 3:14-15 KJV is renumbered as Es 3:21-22.
  • Es 13:8-14:19 KJV (Add. C, D) is appended to Es 4 as Es 4:18-47.
  • Es 15:1-16 KJV (Add. E) is prepended to Es 5 as Es 5:1-10 using Brenton's text and verse division, and replaces Es 5:1-2 KJV.
  • Es 5:3-14 KJV is renumbered as Es 5:11-22.
  • Es 16:1-24 KJV (Add. E) is inserted between Es 8:12 and Es 8:13 KJV, as Es 8:13-36.
  • Es 8:13-17 KJV as Es 8:37-41.
  • Es 10:4-11:1 KJV (Add. F) is appended to Es 10 as Es 10:4-14.

Jeremiah is rearranged according to the LXX. Any vesperal readings taken from Jeremiah or Proverbs may be off-aligned in the Menologion, as it is hard-coded to the KJV chapter and verse ordering.

Apoc.zip 318 KB This is an updated Anaginoskomena (Apocrypha) module by Nelson Mitrophan Chin using the King James Version with updates from Brenton's English translation of the LXX including the Prayer of Manasses, Psalm 151, 3 Maccabees and 4 Maccabees.

NewTstmt.zip 374 KB This is an updated New Testament module to conform to the Byzantine text by Nelson Mitrophan Chin using the King James Version with amendments to the language in 1833 by Noah Webster, America's first grammarian and founding father of American education, who in 1828 published the "American Dictionary of the English Language".

The Greek term 'Hades' is kept instead of translating it to 'hell' in Mt 11:23; Mt 16:18; Lk 10:15; Lk 16:23; Ac 2:27,31; 1Co 15:55; Re 1:18; Re 6:8; Re 20:13-14.

The Greek term 'Pascha' is kept instead of translating it to 'Passover' or 'Easter' in Mt 26:2,17-19; Mk 14:1,12,14,16; Lk 2:41; Lk 22:1,7,8,11,13,15; Jn 2:13,23; Jn 6:4; Jn 11:55; Jn 12:1; Jn 13:1; Jn 18:28,39; Jn 19:14; Ac 12:4; 1Co 5:7; Heb 11:28.

Since the Greek term 'nous' can also refer to the eye of the heart or soul or center of attention, 'nous' is kept instead of translating it to 'mind' or 'understanding' which refers only to intellectual reasoning, in Lk 24:45; Ro 1:28; Ro 7:23,25; Ro 11:34; Ro 12:2; Ro 14:5; 1Co 1:10; 1Co 2:16; 1Co 14:14,15,19; Ep 4:17,23; Phil 4:7; Col 2:18; 2Th 2:2; 1Ti 6:5; 2Ti 3:8; Ti 1:15; Re 13:18; Re 17:9

To convey the Greek term 'Hierourgeo' in Ro 15:16, 'ministering' is annotated with the clause [in priestly service]. For the Greek term 'Leitourgeo', 'minister' is annotated with the clause [the liturgy] in Act 13:2. For the Greek term 'Leitourgikos', ministering is replaced by the term 'liturgical' in Heb 1:14. To convey the Greek term 'Sunergeo', the clause [in synergy] is annotated in Mk 16:20; Ro 8:28; 1Co 16:16; 2Co 6:1; Jas 2:22. To convey the Greek term 'En' in Lk 23:42, 'into thy kingdom' is replaced with 'in thy kingdom'. To convey the Greek term 'Chrisma', the clause [of chrism] is annotated in 1Jn 2:20,27. For the Greek term 'Chrio' in Lk 4:18; Ac 4:27; Ac 10:38; 2Co 1:21; Heb 1:9, 'anointed' is replaced with 'chrismated'. For the Greek term 'presbuteros' and 'presbuterion', 'presbyter(s)' and 'presbytery' is used instead of 'elder(s)'. For the Greek term 'Eikon', 'icon' is used instead of 'image'. For the Greek term 'dwseiv', 'give' is used instead of 'suffer' in Acts 13:35.

Taking the original KJV New Testament one step further and to be consistent with the Greek Old and New Testament, Greek names are used, such as Jeremias for Jeremiah or Jeremy, Elias for Elijah, Osee for Hosea, Jonas for Jonah, Eliseus for Elisha, Timotheus for Timothy, Noe for Noah, Judas for Judah, Urias for Uriah, reversing Webster's update, whose intentions was to help correlate with the KJV Old Testament names.

CNBLUE Vol. 1 - First Step (Limited Edition)

24 October 2011

Metropolitan Hilarion celebrates at Moscow representation of Chinese Autonomous Orthodox Church

On September 21, 2011, the Nativity of Our Lady, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, head of the Moscow Patriarchate's department for external church relations, celebrated the Divine Liturgy in St. Nicholas's church of the Nativity of Our Lady at Golutvin, which is the Moscow representation of the Chinese Autonomous Orthodox Church, called Chinese Patriarchal Metochion.

Among the worshippers were benefactors of the St. Nicholas church. Some prayers were said in Chinese. After the liturgy there was a procession with the cross.

Greeting the DECR chairman on behalf of the church's clergy and parishioners, its rector, Archpriest Igor Zuev pointed to an essential progress made in the efforts to normalize the situation of the Chinese Autonomous Orthodox Church. "We as workers at the Chinese Metochion have still much to do and we are bitterly aware of our weakness. But we know that God's power is made perfect in weakness", he said.

In his archpastoral homily on the Nativity of Our Lady, Metropolitan Hilarion spoke about childbirth as a blessing of God. He stated with regret that childbirth ceased to be a priority for married couples in our country today as they give priority now to material welfare. "With this attitude it is difficult to expect our people to prosper and our population to grow. It happens because the scale of values upheld by people today does not correspond to God's commandments", he said.

Addressing the rector of the church, Metropolitan Hilarion expressed the wish that the number of parishioners of not only Russian but also Chinese background grew "because it is the only church in Moscow to celebrate partly in Chinese", he said.

He also pointed to a certain progress made in the Russian Church's cooperation with the Chinese authorities in the efforts to normalize the life of Orthodox believers in China. "We do not advance with seven-league strides of course but with small steps. Recently we have been promised that two students will come from China for training in our theological schools, so that they may become priests and service in China", he said.

"May this church of St. Nicholas serve as a bridge between the Russian Orthodox Church and its daughter, the Chinese Autonomous Orthodox Church", he said in conclusion.

* * *

Established by the Holy Synod, the Russian Church Mission had worked in China since 1713. In the early 20th century it considerably extended its activity to open representations in Harbin, in Dalny urban settlement in Chukotka, at the Manchuria station of the Chinese Eastern Railway, and finally in St. Petersburg and Moscow.

The Moscow Representation of the Russian Church Mission in China was established in 1908. In 1922 the Representation's church was sealed up. In 1978 a part of the building was demolished and in 1990 the church's area became a waste ground.

In 2007, the Holy Synod in its action on the 50th anniversary of the Chinese Autonomous Orthodox Church decided to continue the DECR's efforts to normalise the situation of this Church in dialogue with the Chinese side and to open a representation of this Church in Moscow.

In 2011, Patriarch Kirill decreed that a Chinese Patriarchal Methochion be established at the St. Nicholas church at Golutvin.

CNBLUE Vol. 1 - First Step (Limited Edition)

18 October 2011

The Ascetic Ideal and the New Testament: Reflections on the Critique of the Theology of the Reformation by Protopresbyter George Florovsky

If the monastic ideal is union with God through prayer, through humility, through obedience, through constant recognition of one’s sins, voluntary or involuntary, through a renunciation of the values of this world, through poverty, through chastity, through love for mankind and love for God, then is such an ideal Christian? For some the very raising of such a question may appear strange and foreign. But the history of Christianity, especially the new theological attitude that obtained as a result of the Reformation, forces such a question and demands a serious answer. If the monastic ideal is to attain a creative spiritual freedom, if the monastic ideal realizes that freedom is attainable only in God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, and if the monastic ideal asserts that to become a slave to God is ontologically and existentially the path to becoming free, the path in which humanity fully becomes human precisely because the created existence of humanity is contingent upon God, is by itself bordered on both sides by non-existence, then is such an ideal Christian? Is such an ideal Biblical—New Testamental? Or is this monastic ideal, as its opponents have claimed, a distortion of authentic Christianity, a slavery to mechanical "monkish" "works righteousness"?

When our Lord was about to begin his ministry, he went into the desert. Our Lord had options but he selected—or rather, "was lead by the Spirit," into the desert. It is obviously not a meaningless action, not a selection of type of place without significance. And there—in the desert—our Lord engages in spiritual combat, for he "fasted forty days and forty nights." The Gospel of St. Mark adds that our Lord "was with the wild beasts." Our Lord, the God-Man, was truly God and truly man. Exclusive of our Lord’s redemptive work, unique to our Lord alone, he calls us to follow him. "Following" our Lord is not exclusionary; it is not selecting certain psychologically pleasing aspects of our Lord’s life and teachings to follow. Rather it is all-embracing. We are to follow our Lord in every way possible. "To go into the desert" is "to follow" our Lord. It is interesting that our Lord returns to the desert after the death of St. John the Baptist. There is an obvious reason for this. "And hearing [of John the Baptist’s death] Jesus departed from there in a ship to a desert place privately" When St. Antony goes to the desert, he is "following" the example of our Lord—indeed, he is "following" our Lord. This in no way diminishes the unique, salvific work of our Lord, this in no way makes of our Lord God, the God-Man, a mere example. But in addition to his redemptive work, which could be accomplished only by our Lord, our Lord taught and set examples. And by "following" our Lord into the desert, St. Antony was entering a terrain already targeted and stamped by our Lord as a specific place for spiritual warfare. There is both specificity and "type" in the "desert." In those geographical regions where there a no deserts, there are places which are similar to or approach that type of place symbolized by the "desert." It is that type of place which allows the human heart solace, isolation. It is the type of place which puts the human heart in a state of aloneness, a state in which to meditate, to pray, to fast, to reflect upon one’s inner existence and one’s relationship to ultimate reality—God. And more. It is a place where spiritual reality is intensified, a place where spiritual life can intensify and simultaneously where the opposing forces to spiritual life can become more dominant. It is the terrain of a battlefield but a spiritual one. And it is our Lord, not St. Antony, who as set precedent. Our Lord says that "as for what is sown among thorns, this is he who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceit of riches choke(s) the word, and it becomes unfruitful." The desert, or a place similar, precisely cuts off the cares or anxieties of the world and the deception, the deceit of earthly riches. It cuts one off precisely from "this worldliness" and precisely as such it contains within itself a powerful spiritual reason for existing within the spiritual paths of the Church. Not as the only path, not as the path for everyone, but as one, fully authentic path of Christian life.

In the Gospel of St. Matthew (5:16) it is our Lord who uses the terminology of "good works." " Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and may glorify your Father who is in heaven" Contextually these "good works" are defined in the preceding text of the Beatitudes. "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth." "Blessed are they who are hungering and are thirsting for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied." "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." Is it not an integral part of the monastic goal to become meek, to hunger and thirst for righteousness, and to become pure in heart? This, of course, must be the goal of all Christians but monasticism, which makes it an integral part of its ascetical life, can in no way be excluded. Are not the Beatitudes more than just rhetorical expressions? Are not the Beatitudes a part of the commandments of our Lord? In the Gospel of St. Matthew (5:19) our Lord expresses a deeply meaningful thought—rather a warning. "Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven. And it is in this context that our Lord continues to deepen the meaning of the old law with a new, spiritual significance, a penetrating interiorization of the "law." He does not nullify or abrogate the law but rather extends it to its most logical and ontological limit, for he drives the spiritual meaning of the law into the very depth of the inner existence of mankind.

"You heard that it was said to those of old ... but I say to you." Now, with the deepening of the spiritual dimension of the law, the old remains, it is the base, but its spiritual reality is pointed to its source. "You shall not kill" becomes inextricably connected to "anger." "But I say to you that everyone being angry with his brother shall be liable to the judgment." No longer is the external act the only focal point. Rather the source, the intent, the motive is now to be considered as the soil from which the external act springs forth. Mankind must now guard, protect, control, and purify the inner emotion or attitude of "anger" and, in so doing, consider it in the same light as the external act of killing or murder. Our Lord has reached into the innermost depth of the human heart and has targeted the source of the external act. "You shall not commit adultery. But I say to you that everyone who is seeing a woman lustfully, has already committed adultery with her in his heart. From a spiritual perspective the person who does not act externally but lusts within is equally liable to the reality of "adultery." "You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and you shall hate your enemy’. But I say to you: Love your enemies and pray for those persecuting you so that you may become sons of your Father in heaven."

The Christian idea of love is indeed something new. But it is not something so radically odd that the human soul cannot understand it. It is not such a "transvaluation of all ancient values," as Anders Nygren has claimed in his lengthy study Agape and Eros. Although there are certain aspects of truth in some of Nygren’s statements, his very premise is incorrect. Nygren reads back into the New Testament and the early Church the basic position of Luther rather than dealing with early Christian thought from within its own milieu. Such an approach bears little ultimate fruit and often, as in the case of his position in Agape and Eros, distorts the original sources with presuppositions that entered the history of Christian thought 1500 years after our Lord altered the very nature of humanity by entering human existence as God and Man. There is much in Luther that is interesting, perceptive, and true. However, there is also much that does not speak the same language as early Christianity. And herein lies the great divide in the ecumenical dialogue. For the ecumenical dialogue to bear fruit, the very controversies that separate the churches must not be hushed up. Rather they must be brought into the open and discussed frankly, respectfully, and thoroughly. There is much in Luther with which Eastern Orthodox theologians especially can relate. Monasticism, however, is one area in which there is profound disagreement. Even Luther at first did not reject monasticism. Luther’s Reformation was the result of his understanding of the New Testament, an understanding which Luther himself calls "new." His theological position had already been formed before the issue of indulgences and his posting of his Ninety-Five Theses. Nygren, loyal to Luther’s theological vision, has a theological reason for his position in Agape and Eros Nygren identifies his interpretation of Agape with the monoenergistic concept of God, a concept of God that would be correct in and of itself, for God is the source of everything. But once we confront the mystery of creation, the mystery of that "other" existence, that created existence which includes mankind, we face a totally different situation. The existential and ontological meaning of man’s created existence is precisely that God did not have to create, that it was a free act of Divine freedom. But—and here is the great difficulty created by an unbalanced Christianity on the doctrine of grace and freedom—in freely creating man God willed to give man an inner spiritual freedom. In no sense is this a Pelagian or Semi-Pelagian position. The balanced synergistic doctrine of the early and Eastern Church, a doctrine misunderstood and undermined by Latin Christianity in general from St. Augustine on—although there was always opposition to this in the Latin Church—always understood that God initiates, accompanies, and completes everything in the process of salvation. What it always rejected—both spontaneously and intellectually—is the idea of irresistible grace, the idea that man has no participating role in his salvation. Nygren identifies any participation of man in his salvation, any movement of human will and soul toward God, as a pagan distortion of Agape, as "Eros." And this attitude, this theological perspective will in essence be the determining point for the rejection of monasticism and other forms of asceticism and spirituality so familiar to the Christian Church from its inception.

If Nygren’s position on Agape is correct, then the words of our Lord, quoted above, would have had no basis in the hearts of the listeners for understanding. Moreover, our Lord, in using the verbal form of Agape—agapate—uses the "old" commandment as the basis for the giving of the new, inner dimension of the spiritual extension of that commandment of agape, of love. If Nygren is correct, the "old" context of agape would have been meaningless, especially as the foundation upon which our Lord builds the new spiritual and ontological character of agape. Nygren’s point is that "the Commandment of Love" occurs in the Old Testament and that it is "introduced in the Gospels, not as something new, but as quotations from the Old Testament." He is both correct and wrong. Correct in that it is a reference taken from the Old Testament. Where else was our Lord to turn in addressing "his people"? He is wrong in claiming that it is nothing but a quotation from the Old Testament, precisely because our Lord uses the Old Testament reference as a basis upon which to build. Hence, the foundation had to be secure else the building would have been flawed and the teaching erroneous. Indeed, Nygren himself claims that "Agape can never be ‘self-evident’." In making such a claim, Nygren has undercut any possibility for the hearers of our Lord to understand any discourse in which our Lord uses the term "Agape." And yet Nygren writes that "it can be shown that the Agape motif forms the principal theme of a whole series of Parables." What is meant by this statement is that Nygren’s specific interpretation of Agape forms the principal theme of a whole series of Parables. If this is the case, then those hearing the parables could not have understood them, for they certainly did not comprehend Agape in the specificity defined by Nygren, and hence the parables—according to the inner logic of Nygren’s position—were meaningless to the contemporaries of our Lord, to his hearers.

To be filled by the love of and for God is the monastic ideal. In the Gospel of St. Matthew (22:34-40) our Lord is asked which is the greatest commandment. "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind [understanding]. This the great and first commandment. And a second is like it. You shall love your neighbor as yourself. In these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets." The monastic and ascetic ideal is to cultivate the love of the heart, the soul, and the mind for God. Anders Nygren's commentary on this text in his Agape and Eros is characteristic of his general position. "It has long been recognized that the idea of Agape represents a distinctive and original feature of Christianity. But in what precisely does its originality and distinctiveness consist? This question has often been answered by reference to the Commandment of Love. The double commandment, ‘Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all they heart’ and Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself, has been taken as the natural starting-point for the exposition of the meaning of Christian love. Yet the fact is that if we start with the commandment, with Agape as something demanded, we bar our own way to the understanding of the idea of Agape. If the Commandment of Love can be said to be specifically Christian, as undoubtedly it can, the reason is to be found, not in the commandment as such, but in the quite new meaning that Christianity has given it ... To reach an understanding of the Christian idea of love simply by reference to the Commandment of Love is therefore impossible; to attempt it is to move in a circle. We could never discover the nature of Agape, love in the Christian sense, if we had nothing to guide us but the double command ... It is not the commandment that explains the idea of Agape, but insight into the Christian conception of Agape that enables us to grasp the Christian meaning of the commandment, We must therefore seek another starting-point" (pp. 61-63). This is indeed an odd position for one who comes from the tradition of sola Scriptura, for the essence of his position is not sola Scriptura but precisely that Scripture must be interpreted—and here the interpretation comes not from within the matrix of early Christianity but from afar, from an interpretation that to a great extent depends on an interpretation of Christianity that came into the history of Christian thought approximately 1500 years after the beginning of Christian teaching, and that is with the assumption that Nygren is following the general position of Luther. In his analysis of certain interpretations of what constitutes the uniqueness of Christian love and in his rejection of these interpretations as that which determines the uniqueness of Christian love Nygren is in part correct. "This, in fact, is the root-fault of all the interpretations we have so far considered; they fail to recognize that Christian love rests on a quite definite, positive basis of its own. What, then, is this basis?" Nygren approaches the essence of the issue but neglects the important aspect of human ontology, a human ontology created by God. "The answer to this question may be found in the text. ‘Love your enemies’. It is true that love for one’s enemies is at variance with our immediate natural feelings, and may therefore seem to display the negative character suggested above; but if we consider the motive underlying it we shall see that it is entirely positive. The Christian is commanded to love his enemies, not because the other side teaches hatred of them, but because there is a basis and motive for such love in the concrete, positive fact of God’s own love for evil men. ‘He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and the good’. That is why we are told: ‘Love your enemies ... that ye may be children of your Father which is in heaven’." What Nygren writes here is accurate. But it neglects the significance of human ontology; that is, that we are commanded to love our enemies because there is a spiritual value within the very fabric of human nature created by God, even fallen nature, and that that spiritual value is to be found in each and every man, however dimly we may perceive it. If we begin to love our enemy, we will begin to perceive in that enemy characteristics, aspects that were veiled, that were dimmed by the blindness of our hatred. We are commanded to love our enemy not only because God loves mankind, not only because God "maketh his sun to rise on the evil and the good" but God loves mankind because there is a value in mankind. Nygren writes (p.79) that "the suggestion that man is by nature possessed of such an inalienable value easily gives rise to the thought that it is this matchless value on which God’s love is set." It is perhaps inaccurate to assert that Nygren misses the central issue that that which is of value in man is God-created, God-given. It is more accurate to assert that Nygren rejects completely the issue, and he does so because of his theological doctrine of God and man. This again is part of that great divide which separates certain churches within the ecumenical dialogue. There is a basic and fundamental difference of vision on the nature of God and man. One view claims its position is consistent with apostolic Christianity, consistent with the apostolic deposit, and consistent with the teaching and life of the early Church and of the Church in all ages. Another view begins with the Reformation. Both views claim the support of the New Testament. Luther’s writings on the Divine nature of love are not only interesting but valuable, not only penetrating but in one emphasis accurate. Indeed, if one considers Luther’s doctrine of Divine love by itself, exclusive of his other doctrines, especially those on the nature of man, the nature of salvation, the nature of justification, the doctrine of predestination and grace, one encounters a view not dissimilar from that of ancient Orthodox Christianity. At times Luther can even appear to be somewhat mystically inclined. Luther’s well known description of Christian love as "eine quellende Liebe" [a welling or ever-flowing love] is by itself an Orthodox view. For Luther, as for the Fathers of the Church, this love has no need of anything, it is not caused, it does not come into existence because of a desired object, it is not aroused by desirable qualities of an object. It is the nature of God. But, at the same time, it is God who created mankind and hence the love of God for mankind, though in need of nothing and attracted by nothing, loves mankind not because of a value in man but because there is value in man because man is created by God. Herein lies the difference and it is indeed a great divide when one considers the differing views on the other subjects closely related to the nature of Divine love.

In monastic and ascetical literature from the earliest Christian times the word and idea of "perfect" are often confronted. The monk seeks perfection, the monk wants to begin to become established on the path that may lead to perfection. But is this the result of monasticism? Is it the monastic and ascetical tendencies in early Christianity which bring forth the idea of perfection, which bring forth the idea of spiritual struggle and striving? It is our Lord, not the monks, who injects the goal of perfection into the very fabric of early Christian thought. In the Gospel of St. Matthew (5:48) our Lord commands: "Be ye therefore perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect"

Traditional monastic and ascetical life has included among its activities almsgiving, prayer, and fasting. Were these practices imposed upon an authentic Christianity by monasticism or were they incorporated into monastic and ascetical life from original Christianity? In the Gospel of St. Matthew it is once again our Lord and Redeemer who has initiated almsgiving, prayer, and fasting. Our Lord could very easily have abolished such practices. But rather than abolish them, our Lord purifies them, gives them their correct status within the spiritual life which is to do them but to attach no show, no hypocrisy, no glory to the doing of them. It is proper spiritual perspective that our Lord commands. "Take heed that you do not your righteousness before men in order to be seen by them; for then you will have no reward with your Father in heaven" (6:1). Therefore, when you do alms, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be glorified by men. Truly, I say to you, they have their reward. But when you are doing alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your alms may be in secret; and your Father who is seeing in secret will reward you" (6:2-4). And prayer is commanded to be done in a similar manner to ensure its spiritual nature. At this juncture our Lord instructs his followers to use the "Lord’s Prayer," a prayer that is so simple yet so profound, a prayer that contains within it the glorification of the name of God, a prayer that contains within it the invoking of the coming of the kingdom of God, a prayer that acknowledges that the will of God initiates everything and that without the will of God man is lost. It is a prayer of humility in that it asks for nothing beyond daily sustenance. It is a prayer of human solidarity in forgiveness, for it asks God to forgive us only as we forgive others, and in this a profound reality of spiritual life is portrayed, a life that unites man with God only as man is also united with other persons, with mankind, in forgiveness. And then there is the prayer to be protected from temptation and, if one falls into temptation, the prayer to be delivered from it. So short, so simple, yet so profound both personally and cosmically. Is monasticism a distortion of authentic Christianity because the monks recite the Lord’s Prayer at the instruction of and command of our Lord? If monasticism used free, spontaneous prayer, then it could be faulted for not having "followed" our Lord’s command. But that is not the case. Is monasticism a deviation because of the frequent use of the Lord’s Prayer? Our Lord was specific: when praying, pray this. It does not preclude other prayers but prominence and priority is to be given to the Lord’s Prayer. Indeed, it is certainly foreign to our Lord to restrict the frequency of prayer. The "vain repetitions," or more accurately in the Greek, the prohibition of "do not utter empty words as the gentiles, for they think that in their much speaking they will be heard." This is in essence different than our Lord’s intention. And our Lord says more on this subject, a subject considered of importance to him. In the Gospel of St. Matthew (9:15) our Lord makes the point that when he is taken way, then his disciples will fast. In the Gospel of St. Matthew (17:21) our Lord explains to his disciples that they were unable to cast out the devil because" this kind goes out only by prayer and fasting." This verse, it is true, is not in all the ancient manuscripts. It is, however, in sufficient ancient manuscripts and, moreover, it is contained in the Gospel of St. Mark (9:29). It is obvious that our Lord assigns a special spiritual efficacy to prayer and fasting.

Chastity is a monastic and ascetic goal. Not only an external celibacy but an inner chastity of thought. Is this too something imposed upon authentic, original Christianity by a Hellenistic type of thinking or is it contained within the original deposit of apostolic and Biblical Christianity? Again it is our Lord who lays down the path of celibacy and chastity. In the Gospel of St. Matthew (19:10-12) the disciples ask our Lord whether it is expedient to marry. "Not all men can receive this saying but those to whom it has been given. For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. He who is able to grasp it, let him grasp it." The monastic and ascetical goal merely "follows" the teaching of our Lord. Original Christianity never imposed celibacy. It was, precisely as our Lord has stated, only for those to whom it was given, only to those who might be able to accept such a path. But the path was an authentically Christian path of spirituality laid down by our Lord. In early Christianity not even priests and bishops were required to be celibate. It was a matter of choice. Later the Church thought it wise to require celibacy of the bishops. But in Eastern Christianity celibacy has never been required of one becoming a priest. The choice to marry or to remain celibate had to be made before ordination. If one married before ordination, then one was required to remain married, albeit the ancient Church witnessed exceptions to this. If one was not married when one was ordained, then one was required to remain celibate. The Roman Church, not the Eastern Orthodox Church, extended the requirement of celibacy to priests and had a very difficult time attempting to enforce it throughout the ages. One can never force forms of spirituality upon a person and expect a spiritually fruitful result. The words of our Lord resound with wisdom—to those to whom it is given, to those who can live in this form of spirituality.

Poverty is not the goal but the beginning point of monastic and ascetical life in early Christianity. Was this a precedent established by St. Antony, a new notion and movement never before contained within Christian thought? Again it is our Lord who establishes the spiritual value of poverty. In the Gospel of St. Matthew (19:21) our Lord commands the rich man who has claimed he has kept all the commandments: "If you will to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor ... and come follow me." It was not St. Antony who established the precedent. Rather it was St. Antony who heard the word of our Lord and put it into action, who "did the word of the Lord." It is Christ, the God-Man who has put forth the ideal of perfection, who has commanded us to be perfect (see also 5:48), who has put forth the ideal of poverty as a starting-point for a certain form of spiritual life. Elsewhere in the Gospel of St. Matthew (13:44) Christ makes a similar point, asserting that one sells everything in exchange for the kingdom of heaven. "The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field."

All Christianity exalts humility. It should therefore not be a surprise if monastic and ascetical spirituality focus on humility. In the Gospel of St. Matthew (18:4) our Lord proclaims that "he who therefore will humble himself as this little child, he is greatest in the kingdom of heaven." Elsewhere (23:12) our Lord says that "whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted." The emphasis on humility may appear self-evident. Behind it, however, lies a reality of the nature of God to which few pay much attention. In the Incarnation two very core elements of any spirituality are clearly evidenced—the love and humility of God. The idea that humility is rooted in God may appear astonishing. The humility of God cannot, of course, be considered in the same light as ascetical humility, or any human form of humility. However, the human forms of humility are derived from the very nature of God, just as the commandment to love is rooted in God’s love for mankind God’s humility is precisely that being God he desires, he wills to be in communion with everything and everything is inferior to God. This has great theological significance, for it reveals the value of all created things, a value willed by God. There is even a parallel here with the saints who loved animals and flowers. And from this idea, an idea intrinsically derived from the Incarnation and kenosis of God the Son, one can clearly see the real Divine origin in action of Christ’s teaching about "others." In the very notion of a vertical spirituality a concern for others is presupposed. And while one is ascending to God—an abomination for Nygren—his fellow man must be included in the dimensions of spirituality. Through the Incarnation all forms of human existence are sanctified. Through the Incarnation both the love and the humility of God are made known. And man is to love God and fellow mankind because love contains absolute, positive value, a value derived because love is the very nature of God. And man is to experience humility, to become inflamed by humility precisely because humility belongs also to God and hence its value is derived from God. But to become filled innerly with love and humility is not easy. It demands not a mere acknowledgement of the fact that God is love and humility is Divine. Rather, it demands the complete purification of our inner nature by God. And this is the struggle, the spiritual warfare that must be waged to enter and maintain the reality of love and humility. The path of monasticism and asceticism is an authentic path, a path also ordained by our Lord.

The writings by or attributed to St. Paul form a critical point in the entire great divide between the churches of the Reformation and the Orthodox and Roman Catholic Church. The Epistle to the Romans is one of the most important references of this controversy. This epistle and the Epistle to the Galatians formed the base from which Luther developed his doctrine faith and justification, a doctrine that he himself characterized in his preface to his Latin writings as a totally new understanding of Scripture. These two works continue to be the main reference points for contemporary theologians from the tradition of the Reformation. It was this new understanding of the Scriptures that the rejection of monasticism obtained in the Reformation In general it is not an exaggeration to claim that this thought considers St. Paul as the only one who understood the Christian message. Moreover, it is not St. Paul by himself nor St. Paul from the entire corpus of his works, but rather Luther’s understanding of St. Paul. From this perspective the authentic interpreters of our Lord’s teaching and redemptive work are St. Paul, as understood by Luther, then Marcion, then St. Augustine, and then Luther. Marcion was condemned by the entire early Church. St. Augustine indeed does anticipate Luther in certain views but not at all on the doctrine of justification and Luther’s specific understanding of faith. It is more St. Augustine’s doctrine of predestination, irresistible grace, and his doctrine of the total depravity of man contained in his "novel" to quote St. Vincent of Lérins—doctrine of original sin that influenced Luther, who himself was an Augustinian monk.

The rejection of monasticism ultimately followed from the emphasis placed upon salvation as a free gift of God. Such a position is completely accurate but its specific understanding was entirely contrary to that of the early Church. That salvation was the free gift of God and that man was justified by faith was never a problem for early Christianity. But from Luther’s perspective and emphasis any type of "works," especially that of the monks in their ascetical struggle, was considered to contradict the free nature of grace and the free gift of salvation. If one was indeed justified by faith, then—so went the line of Luther’s thought—man is not justified by "works." For Luther "justification by faith" meant an extrinsic justification, a justification totally independent from any inner change within the depths of the spiritual life of a person. For Luther "to justify"—dikaion—meant to declare one righteous or just, not "to make" righteous or just*—it is an appeal to an extrinsic justice which in reality is a spiritual fiction. Luther has created a legalism far more serious than the legalism he detected in the Roman Catholic thought and practice of his time. Morever, Luther’s legalistic doctrine of extrinsic justification is spiritually serious, for it is a legal transaction which in reality does not and can not exist. Nowhere was the emphasis on "works" so strong, thought Luther, as in monasticism. Hence, monasticism had to be rejected and rejected it was. But Luther read too much into St. Paul’s emphasis on faith, on justification by faith, and on the free gift of the grace of salvation. St. Paul is directly in controversy with Judaism, especially in his Epistle to the Romans. It is the "works of the law," the law as defined by and interpreted by and practiced by Judaism in the time of St. Paul. Our Lord has the same reaction to the externalization and mechanical understanding of the "law." Indeed, the very text of the Epistle to the Romans revels in every passage that St. Paul is comparing the external law of Judaism with the newness of the spiritual understanding of law, with the newness of the revelation of God in Jesus Christ through the Incarnation, Death, and Resurrection of our Lord. God has become Man. God has entered human history and indeed the newness is radical. But to misunderstand St. Paul’s critique of "works," to think that St. Paul is speaking of the "works" commanded by our Lord rather than the Judaic understanding of the works of the "law" is a misreading of a fundamental nature. It is true, however, that Luther had a point in considering the specific direction in which the Roman Catholic merit-system had gone as a reference point similar to the Judaic legal system. As a result of Luther’s background, as a result of his theological milieu, whenever he read anything in St. Paul about "works," he immediately thought of his own experience as a monk and the system of merit and indulgences in which he had been raised.

It must be strongly emphasized that Luther does indeed protect one aspect of salvation, the very cause and source of redemption and grace. But he neglects the other side, the aspect of man’s participation in this free gift of Divine initiative and grace. Luther fears any resurgence of the Roman Catholic system of merit and indulgences, he fears any tendency which will constitute a truly Pelagian attitude, any tendency that will allow man to believe that man is the cause, the source, or the main spring of salvation. And here Luther is correct. Nygren’s Agape-Eros distinction is correct in this context, for any spirituality that omits Agape and concentrates only on Eros, on man’s striving to win God’s influence, is fundamentally non-Christian. But the issue is not that simple. Both extremes are false. God has freely willed a synergistic path-of-redemption in which man must spiritually participate. God is the actor, the cause, the initiator, the one who completes all redemptive activity. But man is the one who must spiritually respond to the free gift of grace. And in this response there is an authentic place for the spiritually of monasticism and asceticism, one which has absolutely nothing to do his the "works of the law," or with the system of merit and indulgences.

In his Epistle to the Romans St. Paul writes in the very introduction (1:4-5) that through Jesus Christ "we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name." The notion of "obedience of faith" has a meaning for St. Paul. It is much more than a simple acknowledgement or recognition of a faith placed within one by God. Rather, it is a richly spiritual notion, one that contains within it a full spirituality of activity on the part of man—not that the activity will win the grace of God but precisely that the spiritual activity is the response to the grace of God, performed with the grace of God, in order to be filled by the grace of God. And it will be an on-going spiritual "work," one which can never be slackened, and one totally foreign from the works" of the Judaic law.

St. Paul writes (2:6) that God "will render to each according to his works." If St. Paul was so concerned about the word "works," if he feared that the Christian readers of his letter might interpret "works" in some totally different way from what he intended, he certainly could have been more cautious. But St. Paul clearly distinguishes between the "works" of the Judaic law and the "works" of the Holy Spirit required of all Christians. Hence, it is difficult to confuse these two perspectives and it is significant that the early Church never confused them, for they understood what St. Paul wrote. If anything—despite the lucidity of St. Paul’s thought—there were tendencies at times to fall not into Luther’s one-sided interpretation but rather to fall somewhat spontaneously into an Eros-type of striving.

It is the "doers of the law" who will be justified" (2:13). The notion of "doers" implies action, activity. Elsewhere in the same epistle (5:2) St. Paul writes that through our Lord Jesus Christ "we have had access [by faith] into this grace in which we stand." The very idea of "access into grace" is dynamic and implies spiritual activity on the part of mankind.

After the lengthy proclamation of the grace of God, the impotence of the "works of the law" in comparison with the "works" of the new reality of the Spirit, St. Paul resorts to the traditional spiritual exhortation (6:12f). "Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body in order to obey its lusts. Nor yield your members to sin as weapons of unrighteousness." The exhortation presupposes that man has some type of spiritual activity and control over his inner existence. The very use of the word "weapon" invokes the idea of battle, of spiritual warfare, the very nature of the monastic "ordeal."

In the same chapter (6:17) St. Paul writes: "But grace to God that you who were slaves of sin obeyed out of the heart a form of teaching which was delivered to you." In the second chapter of the Epistle to the Romans (2:15) St. Paul writes about the universal aspect of the "law" that is "written in the hearts" of mankind, a thought with profound theological implications. In using the image of the heart St. Paul is emphasizing the deepest aspect of the interior life of mankind, for such was the use of the image of the "heart" among Hebrews. When he writes that they obeyed "out of the heart," St. Paul is attributing some type of spiritual activity to the "obedience" which springs from the "heart." And to what have they become obedient? To a form or standard of teaching or doctrine delivered to them—this is precisely the apostolic deposit, the body of early Christian teaching to which they have responded and have become obedient. And in so doing, they have become "enslaved to righteousness," the righteousness of the new law, of the life of the Spirit (6:18). And the "fruit" of becoming enslaved to God" is precisely sanctification which leads to life eternal (6:22). Throughout is a process, throughout is a dynamic spiritual activity on the part of man. St. Paul becomes more explicit about the distinction between the old and the new law (7:6). "But now we are discharged from the law, having died in that which held us captive, so as to serve in newness of spirit and not in oldness of letter."

St. Paul writes that we "are children of God, and if children, also heirs, heirs on the one hand of God, co-heirs on the other hand, of Christ" (8:17). But all this has a condition, has a proviso, for there is the all important "if indeed." "If we co-suffer in order that we may be glorified." Our glorification, according to St. Paul, is contingent upon a mighty "if" and that "if" leads us to the spiritual reality, the spiritual reality ‘of "co- suffering." The very use of the word "co-suffer" presupposes the reality of the idea of "cosuffering" and both presuppose an active, dynamic spiritual action or activity on the part of the one who co-suffers, else there is no meaning to the "co."

In the Epistle to the Romans (12:1) St. Paul uses language that would be meaningless if man were merely a passive object in the redemptive process, if justification by faith was an action that took place only on the Divine level. "I appeal to you therefore, brethren, through the compassions of God, to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy and well-pleasing to God, which is your reasonable service." St. Paul is asking the Christian to present, a reality which presupposes and requires human activity. But not only "to present" but "to present" the body as a living sacrifice, as holy, and as acceptable or well-pleasing to God. And this St. Paul considers our "reasonable service" or our "spiritual worship." The language and the idea speak for themselves. Using the imperative, St. Paul commands us: "Be not conformed to this age but be transformed by the renewing of the mind in order to prove [that you may prove] what [is] that good and well-pleasing and perfect will of God." Taken by itself and out of context this language could be misinterpreted as Pelagian, for here it is man who is transforming the mind, man who is commanded to activate the spiritual life. Such an interpretation is, of course, incorrect but it reveals what one can do to the totality of the theological thought of St. Paul if one does not understand the balance, if one does not understand that his view is profoundly synergistic. Synergism does not mean that two energies are equal. Rather it means that there are two wills—one, the will of God which precedes, accompanies, and completes all that is good, positive, spiritual and redemptive, one that has willed that man have a spiritual will, a spiritual participation in the redemptive process; the other is the will of man which must respond, cooperate, "co-suffer." In 12:9 St. Paul exhorts us to "cleave to the good." And in 12:12 he exhorts us "to be steadfastly continuing in prayer." Such a position certainly does not exclude monastic and ascetical spirituality but rather presupposes it.

Celibacy is a part of the monastic life and it too has its source in the teachings of the New Testament. In I Corinthians 7: 1-11 St. Paul encourages both marriage and celibacy—both are forms of Christian spirituality, and St. Paul has much to say about marriage in his other epistles. But his point is that celibacy is a form of spirituality for some, and it therefore cannot be excluded from the forms of spirituality within the Church. In verse 7 St. Paul writes that he would like all to be like him. But he realizes that each person has his own gift from God. "I say therefore to the unmarried men and to the widows, it is good for them if they remain as I. But if they do not exercise self-control, let them marry" (verses 37-38). St. Paul summarizes: "the one who has decided in his own heart to keep himself virgin, he will do well. So, therefore, both the one marrying his betrothed [virgin], does well, and the one not marrying will do better." The monastic practice of celibacy is precisely not excluded by the New Testament. Rather, it is even encouraged both by our Lord and by St Paul—and without jeopardy to the married state. The decision cannot be forced. Rather, it must come from the heart. And, indeed, it is not for everyone.

The comparison of the spiritual life to that of running a race and to that of warfare is throughout the New Testament. Without diminishing his basis of theological vision—that it is God who initiates everything—St. Paul writes in I Corinthians 9:24-27 in a manner, which, if taken by itself, would indeed appear Pelagian, would indeed appear as though all the essence of salvation depends upon man. But in the total context of his theology there is no contradiction, for there are always two wills in redemption—the Divine, which initiates; and the human, which responds and is, in the very response has received. "Do you not know that the ones running in a race all run indeed. But one receives the prize? So run in order that you may obtain. And everyone struggling exercises self-control in all things. Indeed, those do so therefore in order that they may receives a corruptible crown, but we an incorruptible one. I, therefore, so run as not unclearly. Thus I box not as one beating the air. But I treat severely my body and lead it as a slave, lest having proclaimed to others, I myself may become disqualified." In this text we encounter the race—the spiritual race—and the prize; we encounter the grammatical and the thought structure of "in order that you may obtain," a structure which implies contingency and not certainty. We encounter the race as a spiritual struggle in which "self-control in everything" must be exercised. And then St. Paul describes his own spiritual battle—he treats his body severely, leads it as though it were a slave, and to what end? So that he will not become disapproved. The entire passage is very monastic and ascetic in its content. Despite St. Paul’s certainty of the objective reality of redemption which has come through Christ as a Divine gift, he does not consider his own spiritual destiny to be included in that objective redemption which is now here unless he participates in it—and until the end of the race. In 10:12 he warns us: "Let the one who thinks he stands, let him look lest he falls." In 11: 28 he writes: "Let a man prove or examine himself. " In the latter context the proving" or "examining" is in the most serious of contexts, for it is spoken in connection with the Holy Eucharist, which is spoken of so objectively that if one "eats this bread" or "drinks this cup of the Lord" "unworthily," that person "shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord" and shall "bring damnation to himself"—for that reason, continues St. Paul, some are weak, sickly, and some have died. But our focus here is on self-examination, on those who think they stand. This again is an integral aspect of the monastic and ascetical life; that is, a constant examination of one’s spiritual life In II Corinthians 13:5 St. Paul again stresses self-examination: "Examine yourselves, if you are in the faith. Prove yourselves."

In 15:1-2 St. Paul introduces a significant "if’ and "also." "I make known to you, brothers, the Gospel which I preached to you, which you also received, in which you also stand, through which you also are saved, if you hold fast to that which I preached to you."

In I Corinthians 14:15 St. Paul speaks of praying with both spirit and mind, a thought that weaves its way through monastic and ascetical literature. The use of the mind in prayer finds its fullest expression in the controversial use of the "mind" in the thought of Evagrius Ponticus. The text, even within its general context in the chapter, is clear. "I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray also with the mind; I will sing with the spirit, and I will also sing with the mind."

St. Paul’s hymn to love, to Agape, fills the entirety of I Corinthians 13. Despite later interpretations of the use of the word "faith" in this chapter, specifically the interpretations that entered Christian thought with the Reformation, there was no misunderstanding of this "hymn to love" in the early Church indeed, in the history of Christian thought until the Reformation it was understand quite directly. It is only through a convoluted exegetical method imposed by a specific—and new—theological understanding that this great "hymn to love" had to be understood by distinguishing different meanings attached to the word "faith." Though one speaks with the tongues of men and of angels, though one has the gift of prophecy, though one understands all mysteries, though one understands all knowledge, though one has all faith "to remove mountains," though one bestows all one’s goods to feed the poor, though one gives one’s body to be burned—though one has all this, but not love, one is "nothing," one "becomes as sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal," one "profits" not at all. St. Paul is quite explicit on what love is. "Love suffers long, love is kind, love is not jealous, does not vaunt itself, is not puffed up, does not act unseemly, does not seek its own things, is not provoked, does not reckon evil, does not rejoice over wrong, but rejoices with the truth. Love covers all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never falls. But prophecies—they will be abolished; tongues—they will cease; knowledge—it will be abolished... And now remains faith, hope, love, these three. But the greatest of these is love." The goal of monastic and ascetical struggle, of the "ordeal," is love—to love God, to love mankind, to love all created things, to be penetrated by God’s love, to participate in love, which is God and flows from God, and to enter a union with God, with love. Often monastic literature will speak of "achieving" this love, as though it is the work of man. But that it not the total context of love in monastic literature, not even in those texts which appear as though everything were nothing but a striving on the part of man in the "ordeal." This language is spoken because it is spontaneous with spiritual nature. This language is spoken because it runs parallel with that assumed knowledge—that God is the source of everything. And yet St. Paul himself often uses language which could come directly from monastic statements. True, both would be taken out of their total context, but it is true that the two languages are spoken—the language referring to God as the source, as the initiator, to the grace of God, to the gift of all spirituality; and the language which concentrates on man’s activity, on man’s response to the love and redemptive work of God in Jesus Christ and through the Holy Spirit. When one line of thought is being used, it in no way denies the other line of thought. Rather, it is precisely the opposite, for monastic and ascetical literature can only speak about man’s activity if it is presupposed that God has accomplished the redemptive activity in and through our Lord, that God is working in man through the Holy Spirit. Else, all that is written is without meaning, temporarily and ultimately. St. Paul’s command in I Corinthians 14:1 to "pursue love and eagerly desire the spiritual things" is responded to directly by monastic and ascetical spirituality.

In II Corinthians 2:9 St. Paul writes in the very same spirit that an abbot might employ with his novices: "For to this end indeed I wrote—in order that I might know your proof, if you are obedient in all things." Obedience is an important theme and reality in the monastic and ascetic "ordeal" and that very theme of obedience is mentioned often throughout the New Testament.

Monastic and ascetical literature will often use the terms "fragrance" and "aroma" and again the source is the New Testament. In II Corinthians 2:14-15 St. Paul writes: "manifesting among us the fragrance of his knowledge in every place. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those perishing, to the latter an aroma from death unto death, to the former an aroma from life unto life."

In II Corinthians 3:18 St. Paul uses an expression which is often found in ascetical literature— "from glory to glory." "But we all, with face having been unveiled, beholding in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being changed into the same icon from glory to glory, even as from the Spirit of the Lord." The Greek verbal structure throughout the New Testament cannot be stressed enough, for it conveys a dynamic activity that is seldom found in other languages and in translations. In this text the emphasis is on the process of "we are being changed." Elsewhere emphasis is often on "we are being saved"—rather than "we are changed" and "we are saved." When the objective nature of redemption is the focus, then the Greek verbal structure uses "we are saved." But mainly, when the process is the focus, the dynamism is expressed by the verbal structure of "we are being saved." In this text it is significant that the objective nature is expressed by "having been unveiled," while the on-going process of our participation in the spiritual process of salvation is expressed by "we are being changed." Here is expressed the dynamism of synergy.

In II Corinthians 4:16 St. Paul again emphasizes the dynamism and process of the spiritual reality in man. "Our inner [life] is being renewed day by day." The monastic life attempts to respond to such a text by the daily regulation of prayer, meditation, self-examination, and worship—precisely to attempt to "renew" daily "our inner" spiritual life. In 10:15 the dynamic aspect of growth is stressed and precisely in reference to "faith" and "rule." "But having hope as your faith is growing to be magnified unto abundance among you according to our rule." In 4:12 St. Paul again places the inner depth of man’s spiritual life in the "heart," something which Eastern monasticism will develop even in its life of prayer.

The entire fifth chapter of II Corinthians is an exceptionally important text. Here, as elsewhere, St. Paul uses language which, when used by others, distresses sorely many scholars working from the Reformation perspective—he uses the notion of "pleasing God," something which some scholars find indicative of man’s solicitation to "win" God’s favor. But when St. Paul uses such language it passes in silence, it passes without objection—precisely because St. Paul has established his position that God is the source of everything. But monastic and ascetical literature also presuppose that God initiates and is the source of everything. But it is in the very nature of daily spiritual life in monasticism and in ascetical spirituality to focus on man’s activity. It is precisely focus, not a theological position. "We therefore are ambitious [to make it our goal], whether being at home or being away from home, to be well-pleasing to him. For it is necessary for all of us to be manifested before the tribunal of Christ in order that each one may receive something good or something worthless, according to what one has practiced through the body. Knowing, therefore, the fear of the Lord, we persuade men." In II Corinthians 11: 15 St. Paul writes that one’s "end will be according to [one’s] works." Also this is not the only time that the New Testament uses the word "practice," a word which becomes systematized in monasticism. After a profound exposition on the initiative of God in the redemptive work of Christ (5:14-20), in which St. Paul writes that "all things are of God, who, having reconciled us to himself through Christ." St. Paul writes in verse 21: "Be reconciled to God." Moreover, he not only uses the imperative form but also precedes this with "we beg on behalf of Christ." His language here becomes meaningless unless there is spiritual activity on the part of man. And what is more, St. Paul uses a very interesting structure in relationship to the "righteousness of God," for he writes that the redemptive work of Christ was accomplished "in order that we might become the righteousness of God in him." Here the significance is on "we might become" rather than "we are" or "we have become." Implicit is a synergistic dynamism. This is further stressed in 6:1: "And working together [with him] we entreat you not to receive the grace of God to no purpose." And St. Paul then quotes from Isaiah 49:8 in which it is said that God "hears" and "helps."

In II Corinthians 6:4-10 St. Paul writes what could be a guide to monastic spiritual life. "In everything commending ourselves as ministers of God—in much endurance, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses, in stripes, in prisons, in tumults, in labors, in vigils, in fasting, in purity, in knowledge, in longsuffering, in kindness, in a holy spirit, in unfeigned love, in a word of truth, in power of God—through the weapons of righteousness on the right and left hand, through glory and dishonor, through evil report and good report ... as dying, and behold, we live ... as being grieved but always rejoicing, as poor but enrichening [sic] many, as having nothing yet possessing all things." The vigils, the fasting, the purity, the gnosis or knowledge—these are to be reflected in monastic and ascetical life. Moreover, St. Paul again uses the image of warfare and refers to the "weapons of righteousness." The language used by St. Paul in this passage can only have significance if man participates synergistically in the redemptive process. If the doctrine of "righteousness" in the thought of St. Paul has only a one-sided meaning—that is, the "righteousness of God," which is, of course, the source of all righteousness—then why the talk of "weapons of righteousness" placed in the very hands, both right and left, of man? If man is solely "reckoned righteous" by the "vicarious sacrifice" of our Lord Jesus Christ, why the need to speak of "weapons of righteousness," unless there is a second aspect of the redemptive process which ontologically includes man’s spiritual participation? In II Corinthians 10:3-6 St. Paul continues with the reference to it warfare" and again stresses "obedience." "For though walking in the flesh, we wage war not according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not fleshly but [have] the power of God to overthrow strongholds, overthrowing reasonings and every high thing rising up against the knowledge of God and taking captive every design unto the obedience of Christ."

St. Paul writes in II Corinthians 7:1 about cleansing, about it perfecting holiness," and about the "fear of God." After referring to our having "these promises," he exhorts: "Let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and of spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God." This exhortation is precisely what monastic and ascetical life attempts to implement. In 13:9 St. Paul writes: "We pray also for you restoration." In order for one to be "restored," one would have to have been at a certain level previously. The text bears witness to the dynamic nature of faith, of spiritual life in Christ, of the rising and falling away, and then the restoration.

In II Corinthians 7:10 St. Paul speaks in terms quite similar to those found in monastic and ascetical literature, for he speaks of "grief" which works "repentance" which leads to "salvation." "For grief, in accordance with God, works repentance unto unregrettable salvation." St. Paul contrasts this "Godly grief" with the "grief of the world which works out death." The theme "sorrow" and "grief" over one’s sin—precisely "grief in accordance with God" or "Godly grief"—is a constant in monastic spiritual life.

St. Paul ends the text proper of II Corinthians with a final exhortation. "Restore yourselves, admonish yourselves, think the same, become at peace, and the God of love and of peace will be with you." Here the emphasis is again on "restoration." St. Paul’s sequence of language—if taken by itself and out of context—could be easily misinterpreted as man causing God’s action, for he writes "become at peace and." It is precisely that "and" that introduces the activity of God. God "will be with you," if you achieve peace—this is how this text could well be interpreted if we did not the possess the body of St. Paul’s works. What could have happened to the thought of St. Paul is what usually happens to the thought expressed in monastic and ascetical literature.

Along with the Epistle to the Romans, St. Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians is the other work from the corpus of St. Paul most often quoted by the theologians of the Lutheran and Calvinistic Reformation and those theologians who have followed in those theological traditions. They were also the two works most quoted by St. Augustine to support his doctrine of irresistible grace and predestination. But one encounters the same problem in Galatians that is, that there is a second line of thought which, by itself, could be interpreted in a Pelagian sense. The point here is, of course, that both views are one-sided, that the thought of St. Paul is far richer than any one-sided interpretation allows for, far more realistic both with the glory of God and with the tragedy of man’s experience in evil, corruption, and death. But St. Paul not only extols the glory of God, the power and initiative of grace but also the joyfulness of an objective redemption in which each person must participate in order for the redemption of man to be completed.

In the first chapter of Galatians St. Paul in verse 10 uses language which implies the seeking of favor with God. "For now do I persuade men or God? Or do I seek to please men?". At one point, in Galatians 4:9, St. Paul catches himself falling into the very understandable usage of human language: "But now knowing God, or rather, being known by God." Imprecision of language occurs even with St. Paul.

The second chapter of Galatians provides an illumination of the central controversial issue in the theology of St. Paul. In context St. Paul is addressing the hypocrisy of St. Peter in Antioch, for St. Peter ate with the Gentiles until those from the "circumcision" party arrived from Jerusalem. At that time St. Peter withdrew from the Gentiles, "fearing those of the circumcision." St. Paul challenges St. Peter face to face. Again the whole controversy is between the "works of the law" and the "works of the Spirit," between the laws of Judaism and the spiritual laws of Christ as a direct result of his Divine redemptive work. It is, therefore, in this context that St. Paul brings the doctrine of justification into discussion. In verse 16 St. Paul writes: "And knowing that a man is not justified out of works of the law but through faith of Christ Jesus, even we believed in Christ Jesus in order that we might be justified out of faith of Christ and not out of the works of the law because out of works of the law all flesh will not be justified." In the Greek construction used by St. Paul a dynamism still exists, for we believed "in order that we might be justified" and "out of faith." This latter expression contains breadth, expansion of spiritual life generating from faith. It is a rich expression and its fulness and dynamism must not be diminished by a reductionist interpretation. And the very use of "in order" has implications theologically, as does the construction "that we might be justified." St. Paul could very well have written that we have believed and are hence justified. But that is not what he has written. The objective reality of redemption, the objective reality of mankind being justified by Christ is one thing. The subjective reality of each person participating in this already accomplished redemptive work of justification, of being really "right" with God is another dimension, a dimension which requires and addresses the entire spiritual composition of man. In the very next text St. Paul writes "if seeking to be justified in Christ." In 5:5 he can write "for we in the Spirit eagerly expect the hope of righteousness." What is the ontological meaning of "the hope of righteousness" if "righteousness" is "imputed" to us as though a legal transaction, and if it is the "passive righteousness" of God which "justifies" us? No, St. Paul’s vision is far deeper. The "hope of righteousness" is precisely our hope to share in that objective "righteousness of God" which is now freely given by God in and through Christ. But we "hope" because there is "work" for us to do in order to take hold of and participate in that righteousness eternally. God creates in his freedom. God created man with this image of freedom. Christ accepts the Cross in freedom. Freedom is the foundation of creation and redemption. And man’s freedom, however weakened, can still be inspired by the free gift of Grace. And in this freedom man must, as St. Paul writes in his Epistle to the Philippians 2:12, "work out your own salvation with fear and trembling." it cannot be denied that monastic and ascetical spirituality took this seriously. In Galatians 5:1 St. Paul writes that "Christ freed us for freedom. Therefore stand firm."

The total theological significance of all that took place in the coming of Christ, in the Incarnation of the God-Man, in his life, his teachings, his death, his resurrection, his establishment of the Church and the mystical sacramental life in the Church, his Ascension, his sending of the Holy Spirit, and his Second Coming and Judgment—all this has radically altered the old law of works, and the meaning was clear to the early Church. It is true that what St. Paul says about the "works of the law" can be applied to any form of Christianity that deviates from the precision of the balance, that deviates from the authentic "works of the Spirit," replacing them by a mechanical and mechanistic attitude. And in Galatians 3:27 St. Paul immediately connects "justification by faith" with the mystical sacrament of baptism. "For you are all sons of God through the faith in Christ Jesus, for as many of you as were baptized into Christ, have put on Christ." Within this context what is the distinction between the "justification by faith" and "by faith" being "baptized into Christ," and, hence, having "put on Christ"?

St. Paul is addressing Christians, those who have been baptized, those who have accepted the faith. Despite all his language about "justification by faith," about "putting on Christ" through baptism, about the objective aspect of redemption having been accomplished, St. Paul still can write in Galatians 4:19 that he "travails in birth until Christ is formed" in them. What can this mean except that the redemptive process for man is one of struggle, one of rising and falling, one of continual spiritual dynamism? In 5:7 he writes that they "were running well" and asks "who hindered you?"—invoking again the image of a race.

In Galatians 5:14 St. Paul repeats Christ’s commandment of love, a thought not foreign to St. Paul, especially when one considers his "Hymn to Love" [Agape] in I Corinthians 13. "For the whole law has been summed up in one expression: you shall love your neighbor as yourself." He then distinguishes the "works of the Spirit" from the "works of the flesh," explicitly linking the latter with the old law. And then he again exhorts and commands from the realism of spiritual life (5:25). "If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. What is the meaning of such an exhortation? It has a meaning based on realism only if the "living in the Spirit" refers to the entirety of the objective work of the redemptive work of Christ now accomplished and available to mankind, a redemption which surrounds them by the life of the Church in which they live but a redemption in which they must actively participate, in which they must "walk" if they are to obtain and receive the final work of redemption, the union of man and God in love, in goodness, in truth. The "walk" is an obvious expression of activity, of movement toward a goal. In Galatians 6:2 St. Paul links the commandment of love and the "walking in the Spirit" with "the law of Christ." "And thus you will fulfill the law of Christ." The very language of "the law of Christ" and the "fulfilling" of that law" is theologically significant, for "the law of Christ" refers to everything communicated to the Church through Christ. The monastic and ascetical life is precisely such an attempt to fulfill this "law of Christ." His concluding thought in Galatians is: "Peace and mercy upon those many who will walk by this rule." The "new creation" about which St. Paul speaks is both an already accomplished redemptive reality and, for us as individuals with spiritual freedom, the "new creation" is a reality which must be "formed," a reality which can come about only through process, when the subjective reality of each person is "formed" into the objective reality of the "new creation" wrought by our Lord Jesus Christ.

In Ephesians 1:14 St. Paul uses extremely interesting language in relationship to our "salvation" in Christ "in whom we believed and thereafter were sealed with the Holy Spirit "who is an earnest of our inheritance unto redemption of the possession." The meaning here is clear: the seal of the Holy Spirit is the "deposit" toward an inheritance of which we take possession when we acquire it. It is a dynamic text. That possession of such an inheritance requires that we walk in "good works" in clear in Ephesians 2:10: "For we are a product of him, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God previously prepared in order that we might walk in them." In Ephesians 6:11 St. Paul again uses the image of warfare and of putting on the "whole armor of God." The "walk" is evoked again in 5:8 and 5:15. "Walk as children of the light." "See, therefore, that you walk carefully." In 5:9 he writes that "the fruit of the light [is] in all goodness and righteousness and truth." It is the "walking in the light" that produces "the fruit which is [in] all goodness, righteousness and truth" and this is described as "proving what is well-pleasing to the Lord."

In Ephesians 5:14 St. Paul quotes from what was probably a hymn of the early Church, a text which has the ring of a monastic motif to it. "Rise, sleeping one." And to what purpose ought one to rise? In 5:1 he commands to "be therefore imitators of God." In 4:23 St. Paul writes that we are "to be renewed in the spirit of your mind" and "to put on the new man." He begs us in 4:1 "to walk worthily of the calling with which you were called." In 4:15 he exhorts that "we may grow into him [Christ] in all respects." In 6:18 St. Paul stresses the importance of prayer. "By means of all prayer and petition, praying at every time." All these are aspects of the monastic and ascetical life.

The Epistle to the Philippians contains many expressions that directly relate to an active spiritual life. In 1:25 he speaks of "advance and joy of the faith." In 1:27 he speaks of "conducting" oneself "worthily of the Gospel." "Stand in one spirit, with one soul striving together in the faith of the Gospel." Here is the "striving" so disliked by Nygren.

For St. Paul we are required not only to believe but also to suffer. In Philippians 1:29 he writes: "ou monon to eis auton pisteuein alla kai to hyper autou paschein." And he refers to this as a "struggle," an "ordeal." In 2:16 he speaks of the possibility of "running and laboring in vain." In 3:8 St. Paul speaks of "gaining Christ," and this within the context of the "righteousness of the law" as opposed to the "righteousness based on faith." Philippians 3:11-16 is one of the more interesting texts. "If somehow I may attain to the resurrection out of the dead. Not that I received already or already have been perfected, but I follow if indeed I may lay hold, in as much as I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brothers, not yet do I reckon myself to have laid hold. But one thing [I do], forgetting on one hand the things behind, and stretching forward on the other hand to the things which are ahead, I follow the mark for the prize of the heavenly calling of God in Christ Jesus. Therefore, as many as [are] perfect, let us think this. Nevertheless, to what we arrived, let us walk by the same." Here St. Paul speaks both of laying hold of Christ and being "laid hold of by Christ." The synergistic activity is obvious and realistic. All the language in the passage indicates and underscores the activity of God and the activity of man, of the objective reality of an achieved redemption and man’s process of "laying hold," of "stretching forward" to the ultimate goal, a goal unachievable if man does not become spiritually active. The Greek verbal structures of "I may attain" and "I may lay hold of" are not without meaning.

In Philippians 4:8-9 St. Paul speaks universally as he does in Romans 1. "Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honorable, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovable, whatsoever things are well-spoken of, if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, consider these things." These qualities—the true, the just, the pure, the lovable—are not qualities which have been revolutionized by the new creation wrought by the Incarnation of the God-Man, they have not come into existence nor been revolutionized by Christian thought. Rather, they are within the very texture of human nature and existence, things that every conscience knows spontaneously. What Christianity has done, however, is to break forth a new path for mankind to participate in the true, the just, the pure in a new way and with a new power through Christ. They now no longer exist as ideals, as the absolute, but are existentially and ontologically accessible to human nature through redemption. St. Paul speaks almost a Platonic language here, and yet it is thoroughly Christian.

In St. Paul’s Epistle to the Colossians 1:22-23 and 29 the realism of synergy is depicted. "But now he reconciled in the body of his flesh through his death to present you holy and blameless and irreproachable before him, if indeed you continue in the faith having been founded and steadfast and not being moved away from the hope of the Gospel which you heard."

The objective reconciliation now exists but in order to participate in it one must be found holy, blameless, and irreproachable, and this is all contingent upon the significant "if"—"if indeed you continue in the faith." In verse 29 we encounter the ideas of "maturity," "labor," and "struggle" or "ordeal." "In order that we may present every man mature in Christ, for which also I labor struggling according to his energy energizing in me in power." Colossians 1:10 expresses the same idea of "worth," of "pleasing" God, of "bearing fruit in every good work," and of "increasing in the knowledge of God." But the very power comes from the might of the glory of God. "With all power dynamized according to the might of his glory." Colossians 2:6-7 expresses also the two spiritual wills and activities in the process of redemption. "As therefore you received Christ Jesus the Lord, walk in him, and being confirmed in the faith as you were taught."

The depth of the idea of synergy is found not only in co-dying and co-suffering with Christ but also in co-resurrection with him. In Colossians 3:1 St. Paul writes: "If therefore you were co-raised with Christ, seek the things above." St. Paul continues the use of many imperative exhortations in chapter 3. "Put to death therefore your members on earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness which is idolatry" (5). "Put away now all things . . ." (8). And then the command (4:2) to continue in prayer and vigil.

In I Thessalonians St. Paul continues this second aspect of the redemptive process by referring to the "work of faith" (1:3), by expressing concern that "labor may be in vain" (3:5), by exhorting "if you stand in the Lord" (3:8), by exhorting that the "breastplate of faith and love" be put on (5:8), and by commanding to test everything, to hold fast to what is good, to abstain from every form of evil (5:21-22). In 3:10 St. Paul writes: "Praying exceedingly night and day ... to adjust the shortcomings of your faith." Why the need to adjust the shortcomings of faith, if faith "alone" is the sole criterion of salvation, as is held by certain schools of theology rooted in the tradition of the Reformation? In 4:4-5 St. Paul writes interestingly. "For this is the will of God: your sanctification. . . that each one of you know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honor." The goal here of the spiritual life in Christ is sanctification and the significant text is to "know how to possess" this "vessel." Such language expresses the dynamism of a synergistic process of redemption. In 5:9 St. Paul uses the expression "unto the obtaining of salvation." In II Thessalonians 2:14 St. Paul uses the expression unto obtaining of the glory of our Lord." In II Thessalonians 1: 11 St Paul prays that they may be deemed worthy of the calling and that they may fulfill every "good pleasure of goodness and work of faith in power."

In I Timothy 1:5-6 we read: "Now the end of the charge is love out of a pure heart and a good conscience and unpretended faith, from which things some, missing aim, turned aside." In 1:18-19 the image of warfare is again used. "This charge I commit to you, child Timothy ... in order that you might war by them the good warfare, having faith and a good conscience, which some, thrusting away, have made shipwreck concerning the faith."

I Timothy 2:1-3 has the same intensity of spiritual activity found in monastic and ascetical literature: "I exhort, therefore, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and eucharists be made on behalf of all men, on behalf of kings and all those in high positions, in order that we may lead a peaceable and quiet life in all piety and seriousness. This is good and acceptable before God our Savior, who wishes all men to be saved and to come to a full knowledge of truth." The same emphasis continues in 4:7-10, especially the expressions "exercise yourself" and "for unto this we labor and struggle." I Timothy 6:11-12 again stresses the "struggle," that "laying hold" of that which has been objectively accomplished in redemption. "Struggle the good struggle of the faith, lay hold on eternal life." And in the verse preceding this one is commanded "to pursue righteousness, piety, faith, love, endurance, meekness." What spiritual meaning can the "pursuit of righteousness" have unless it in fact indicates that, although the "righteousness of God" is established in Christ Jesus, we still must actively struggle in spiritual warfare in order to "lay hold on" this "righteousness"? Already in I Timothy 5:9 it is clear that "widows" of a certain age had a special place within the spiritual life of the Church. "Let a widow be enrolled." Enrolled into what? It is obviously a special activity within the spiritual life of the Church to which widows were enrolled, already a special form of spiritual activity in the earliest life of the Church.

In II Timothy 1:6 both the objective reality of the gift of redemption and the subjective, individual work necessary to "lay hold on" this redemptive work are clearly apparent. "I remind you to fan the flame of the gift of God, which is in you." The synergy of redemption is spoken of in 2:11-12 with the all significant "if." "For if we co-died with him, we shall also co-live with him; if we endure, we shall also co-reign with him." In 2:21 sanctification is contingent upon self-purification. "If, therefore, anyone purifies himself ... he will be a vessel unto honor, having been sanctified." In 2:22 again we are exhorted to "flee youthful lusts" and "to pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace" and the "calling on the Lord" must be done "out of a pure heart." In 4:7 the path of salvation is presented again as a struggle. "I have struggled the good struggle, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith."

The Epistle to the Hebrews is rich in its thought on both aspects of redemption—on the work of God, and on the spiritual struggle on the part of man. In 3:14 the language is striking. "For we have become sharers of Christ, if indeed we hold fast the beginning of the foundation until the end." In 4:1 the idea is similar. "Let us fear, therefore, lest a promise being left to enter into his rest, any of you seems to have come short." The idea of "entering this rest" is continued in 4:11. "Let us be eager, therefore, to enter into that rest, lest anyone falls in the same example of disobedience." In 6:1 "the beginning" of the process is spoken of, accompanied by the exhortation: "let us be borne on to in maturity." In 6:11 one must show eagerness to the "full assurance of the hope unto the end!". The same exhortations of "let us" are found throughout Hebrews. In 10:22-23 it is: "Let us approach with a true heart" and "Let us hold fast the confession of our hope unyieldingly."

In 11:1 a definition of faith is proferred. "Now faith is the foundation of things being hoped, the proof of things not being seen." This definition of faith is often dismissed too readily. It is a deep idea, especially when considered in its original Greek structure. Faith is the "foundation," the "reality" upon which the "hope" of the Christian faith is built. And in its reality it contains the very proof, the evidence of the heavenly kingdom. The entire eleventh chapter reveals that "faith" was active under the "old law," although the faith of and in Christ is of deeper ontological significance precisely because it is the foundation into a new reality not available under the "old law." After a lengthy exposition of examples of " faith" under the "old law," the Epistle to the Hebrews in 12:1 engages in an exhortation that concerns the very spiritual activity of the new faith. "Putting away every hindrance and the most besetting sin, let us run through endurance the struggle set before us." The reality of "discipline" is stressed in Hebrews, especially in 12:7: "Endure unto disciple." And that one can "fail from the grace of God" is clear from 12:15.

In I Peter 1:9 it is not the beginning of faith or faith in general which results in salvation but it is precisely the "end of faith" which "obtains" salvation. Purification and obedience are dominant themes in I Peter. "Having purified your souls in the obedience of truth unto an unpretended brotherly love, love one another earnestly from the heart (1:22). The process of growth in the spiritual life is stressed in 2:2: "in order that . . . you may grow into salvation." The "war" between lust and the soul is spoken of in 2:11: "I exhort you as sojourners and aliens to abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul." In II Peter 1:4 a profound theological thought is expressed. The promises which God has given are great and precious; corruption is in the world because of lust; and man can not only escape this corruption but also become partakers or participators in the Divine nature, an idea which is developed in early Christian and in Eastern Orthodox theological thought, an idea which lays the foundation for the doctrine of theosis, of divinization. "He has given to us precious and very great promises in order that through these you become partakers of the Divine nature, escaping from the corruption that is in the world by lust." Precisely because of this we are instructed in the following verses to supplement our faith, and then the dynamic spiritual process of growth is presented. "And for this very reason bringing in all diligence, supply in your faith virtue, and in virtue [supply] knowledge, and in knowledge [supply] self-control, and in self-control [supply] endurance, and in endurance [supply] piety, and in piety [supply] brotherly love, and in brotherly love [supply] love."

In II Peter 1:10 there is mention of one’s "calling" and election." And yet in the very same text one is exhorted to be "diligence" precisely to make this "calling and election" firm. "Be diligent to make your calling and election firm." And in 2:20-22 the falling away from the "way of righteousness" is not only possible, but it actually takes place, and it is worse than had one not known the "way of righteousness" at all. And the texts speaks about those who had a "full knowledge of the Lord." "For if, having escaped the defilements of the world by a full knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, these persons again have been defeated, having been entangled, the last things have become to them worse than the first. For it was better for them not to have fully known the way of righteousness than, fully knowing, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them. It has happened to them."

In the three Epistles of St. John we encounter the same language, the same reality of the two aspects of redemption. The same "ifs" are there, the same emphasis of purification (see I John 3:3), the same language about "pleasing God," and the same emphasis on "keeping the commandment" and "not sinning." There is an organic link between loving God and keeping his commandments—the full range of the commandments of Christ.

Luther’s attitude toward the Epistle of St. James is well known. In fact, Luther positioned not only James at the end of the German Bible but also Hebrews, Jude, and Revelation. And his criterion was that they lacked evangelical "purity." He was not the first to do so. His colleague at Wittenberg, upon whom Luther later turned, Carlstadt, had distinguished among the books of the New Testament—and the Old Testament—before Luther took his own action. As early as 1520 Carlstadt divided the entirety of Scripture into three categories: libri summae dignitatis, in which Carstadt included the Pentateuch as well as the Gospels; libri secundae dignitatis, in which he included the Prophets and fifteen epistles; and libri tertiae dignitatis.

Luther rejected the Epistle of St. James theologically but of necessity retained it in the German Bible, even if as a kind of appendix. The ending of Luther’s Preface to his edition of the German Bible, which was omitted in later editions, reads in the German of his time: "... for that reason St. James’ Epistle is a thoroughly straw epistle, for it has indeed no evangelical merit to it." Luther rejected it theologically "because it gives righteousness to works in outright contradiction to Paul and all other Scriptures ... because, while undertaking to teach Christian people, it does not once mention the passion, the resurrection, the Spirit of Christ; it names Christ twice, but teaches nothing about him; it calls the law a law of liberty, while Paul calls it a law of bondage, of wrath, of death and of sin."

Luther even added the word "alone"—allein—in Romans 3:28 before "through faith" precisely to counter the words in James 2:24: "You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith only." What is more is that Luther became very aggressive and arrogant in his response to the criticism that he had added "alone" to the Biblical text. "If your papist makes much useless fuss about the word sola, allein, tell him at once: Doctor Martin Luther will have it so and says: Papist and donkey are one thing; sic volo, sic jubeo, sit pro ratione voluntas. For we do not want to be pupils and followers of the Papists, but their masters and judges." Luther continues in a bantering manner in an attempt to imitate St. Paul in the latter’s response to his opponents. "Are they doctors? So am I. Are they learned? So am I. Are they preachers? So am I. Are they theologians? So am I. Are they philosophers? So am I. Are they writers of books? So am I. And I shall further boast: I can expound Psalms and Prophets; which they cannot. I can translate; which they cannot . . . Therefore the word allein shall remain in my New Testament, and though all pope-donkeys should get furious and foolish, they shall not get the word out." In some German editions the word "allein" was printed in larger type! Some critics of Luther’s translation have accused him of deliberately translating inaccurately to support his theological view. As early as 1523 Dr. Emser, an opponent of Luther, claimed that Luther’s translation contained "a thousand grammatical and fourteen hundred heretical errors." This is exaggerated but the fact does remain that there are numerous errors in Luther’s translation.

Indeed, the entire Reformation in its attitude towards the New Testament is directly in opposition to the thought on this subject of St. Augustine, who was highly esteemed in many respects by the Reformation theologians and from whom they took the basis for some of the theological visions, especially predestination, original sin, and irresistible grace for Luther and Calvin. On this subject, as on some many others, there is no common ground between Luther and Calvin on the one hand and St. Augustine on the other. St. Augustine wrote: "I should not believe the Gospel except as moved by the authority of the Church." It should be pointed out that Calvin did not take objection to the Epistle of St. James.

Luther was so caught up in the abstraction of a passive righteousness, so infuriated by his experience as a monk in practicing what he would refer to as "righteousness of works," so caught up in attempting to create a specific meaning to one line of the thought of St. Paul that he misses the very foundation from which the theological thought of St. James comes forth—and that is the initiative and will of God. Luther’s criticism that St. James does not mention the passion, the resurrection, and the Spirit of Christ is inane, for his readers knew the apostolic deposit—there was no need to mention the very basis and essence of the living faith which was known to those reading the epistle. Such a criticism by Luther reveals the enormous lack of a sense for the historical life of the early Church, for the Church was in existence and it is from the Church and to the Church that the epistles are written. Historically, the Church existed before any texts of the "new covenant" were written. The Church existed on the oral tradition received from the apostles, as is clearly revealed from the pages of the New Testament itself.

The very foundation of the theological vision of St. James is the will of God. In 1:17-18 St. James writes: "Every good giving and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom change has no place, no turning, no shadow. Having willed, he brought us forth by the word of truth that we should be a kind of first-fruits of his creatures." In 4:15 St. James writes: "You are instead to say: if the Lord wills, we will both live and will do this or that." One theologically weak text in the Epistle of St. James is in 4:8: "Draw near to God and he will draw near to you." Taken by itself it has a Pelagian ring to it. And in monastic and ascetical literature one often encounters such expressions. But the meaning in both this epistle and in monastic and ascetical literature must be understood within their total context. Once the synergism of the redemptive process takes place in the human heart, then the existential reciprocity of grace and response is so dynamic that one can, as it were, use such expressions, precisely because it is assumed that God has initiated and that grace is always at work in the human heart, in all the depths of the interior of man as well as in external life. The text in the Epistle of St. James must be understood within the context of 1:18 and 4:15. Moreover, it is to be noted that this text is preceded by "Be subject, therefore, to God." In being "subject to God," a relationship is already in place, a relationship which presupposes the initiative of God and the response of man.

The Epistle of St. James contains many expressions that will be used in monastic and ascetical life. Temptation (1:14), the passions (4:1), purifying, cleansing, humbling oneself (4), and "be distressed and mourn and weep" (4:9). The excoriating words against the rich (5:1-6) underguird the monastic vow of poverty.

The life of the early Church as described in the Acts of the Apostles is so clear that no analysis or presentation of texts is necessary to demonstrate that the essentials exist for a form of spirituality similar to that of monastic and ascetical Christianity. Mention should also be made of the life of St. John the Baptist: "It is on solid grounds that a student of monastic origins like Dom Germain Morin upheld his apparent paradox: it is not so much the monastic life which was a novelty at the end of the third century and the beginning of the fourth, but rather the life of adaptation to the world led by the mass of Christians at the time when the persecutions ceased. The monks actually did nothing but preserve intact, in the midst of altered circumstances, the ideal of the Christian life of early days ... And there is another continuous chain from the apostles to the solitaries and then to the cenobites, whose ideal, less novel than it seems, spread so quickly from the Egyptian deserts at the end of the third century. This chain is constituted by the men and women who lived in continence, ascetics and virgins, who never ceased to be held in honor in the ancient Church."

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