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February 10, 2016 + The Fathers of the Church Have Not Grown Old

from Elder Moses the Hagiorite

The great Fathers of the Church are her great theologians. They are the God-bearers, the God-inspired, the God-moved, the Enlightened, those who rightly administer the word of truth in their life, their teaching and their works. The strain of their theological ascent is what it is, not only because of their constant study of Holy Scripture, but also because of their experiences, since the Word of Scripture became the earnest acceptance of their heart. All the Fathers of the Church are characterized by the holiness of their lives and orthodox doctrine.

There is a great need today to return again to the sacred patristic sources, which are always inexhaustible and life-giving. Great Fathers are not only the ancient ones but also the newer ones, who continue on the path of those who have greater experience from the useful past of the Church. Contemporary theologians need to study faithfully the works of our holy Fathers. Distortion or ignorance of the sacred tradition and the creation of a new Theology, which bypasses the Fathers, who are considered obsolete, with a language which is culturally fashionable, more complex terminology, incomprehensible sometimes even to themselves, neotheological, anti-ascetical, uncut, unattested, easy-going, joyful and very happy, but also as shallow, lukewarm and perfunctory.

What is really the meaning of "Theology of contextual relevance?" Firstly the term contextual implies relation, likeness, functionality, correlation of things with common elements. This term appears to be quite vague. It appeared in inter-Christian meetings as a compromised unity, not to expose the divided Christians to the followers of other religions. They put aside basic doctrinal differences and presented themselves as friends and partners in philanthropy, ecology, pacifism and agapetism. They gave preference to reasoning related to social justice and humanism, and not to the great truths of the Holy Gospel. In the unchanged Orthodox Church we do not meet different "churches" because the Church is one, holy, and apostolic. It is not a joint venture, an association, a club, but the Church that saves, redeems, sanctifies, deifies, perfects. It is unthinkable and unacceptable that the profound soteriological content of Orthodox Ecclesiology could be distorted by Orthodox Theologians and especially clergymen.

The Fathers of the Church have not grown old, have not become outdated, or expired, or have been expended. There is no Theology after the Fathers, but there is Theology with the Fathers. The Fathers are based on the Holy Scripture and are moved by the Holy Spirit. They are "containers of the Spirit," "God-sounding trumpets," "all-golden mouths," "lyres of the Spirit," "The Tablets of Grace," "The flowers of paradise." Orthodox Theology without personal struggle, ascesis, watchfulness (νήψψή) and divine illumination does not exist, just as there is no Theology without the God-bearing Fathers. The Holy Fathers, the teachers of the Ecumene, had no anxiety to become innovators, or to impress, or to present something novel that would give them glory. The Fathers wrote and spoke, when there was a great need in the Church and they did not want to develop new, personal theories and philosophical theorems. Bathed in the light of the vision of God, they humbly laid down exalted truths, interpreting them by divine illumination, saving truths, which Christ Himself revealed to the world.

Meta-Patristic Theology: Are the Fathers Relevant Today?, Originally published in The Presbyter (the digital periodical published by the GOA's Archdiocesan Presbyters Council) , Vol. 15—Winter 2014, p. 15. Translated by Protopresbyter Prof. George D. Dragas. Accessed at http://orthodoxinfo.com/phronema/meta-patristictheology.aspx, February 2nd, 2016.

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Hieromartyr Charalampus of Magnesia in Thessaly

Troparion, Tone 4

You became a firm column in the Church of Christ, wise Haralambos; a lamp of everlasting light to the world: Well known to the world through your martyrdom, you dispelled the dark night of idolatry. Boldly intercede with Christ God that He may save our souls.

Kontakion, Tone 4

You rose from the east like a star, hieromartyr Haralambos, and enlightened the faithful with the brightness of your miracles. Therefore we honor your holy contest!


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