The Orthodox Mind or Spirit (Part 2)

Midfeast of Pentecost

Beloved brothers and sister,


Though Thou, O deathless One, did descend into the grave, Thou did destroy the power of Hades and as Victor, Thou did Rise again, O Christ Our God, Thou did greet the Myrrh-bearing women, saying Rejoice! Thou did bestow peace upon Thy Disciples, and resurrection upon those that are fallen.


by Father Anthony Alevizopoulos, PhD. of Theology, PhD. of Philosophy

Part II

When once reaches sanctity, he acquires that real humility which attracts to itself all of God's grace, and he becomes "full of Grace" (Matthew 5:3; I Peter 5:5); the machinations of the Devil cannot harm him.

Yet, it is possible that he may fall since man remains changeable, i.e., he can turn towards virtue or towards sin, on the basis of his free will, depending on what he chooses.

We can understand the term "freedom" either relatively or in an absolute sense. Absolute freedom places man's "ego" in the centre of the universe. The exercise of absolute freedom distances man from his very own nature, it alienates him, for man, according to the Christian faith, is not an egoistic being but a communion of persons. This idea means that our neighbor is a partaker and sharer of the very same nature in which we partake; he is relevant to us; he is not something separate from us, someone other; This means that he constitutes together with us and all our fellow men the one humanity, the one mankind, the one man with myriads of hypostases, i.e., persons.

The one nature is expressed in the daily life of the Christians through the existence of the one "mind" or accord, the mind or spirit of Christ, Who "emptied Himself, taking on the form of a servant" and "humbled Himself" becoming obedient unto death…" (Philip. 2:7-8). This is the most extreme limit of humility and sacrifice on behalf of communion and love with apostate man. When one acquires this mind of Christ, he returns once again to living according to his nature, he possesses that "mind" which corresponds to man's true nature.

On the contrary, the man who has as his supreme law the imposition of his will, regardless of what this could mean for others, so human communion or society in general, and for all of creation, follows a path which alienates him from his very own nature. This type of behavior constitutes communion only with himself, i.e., hell. This egocentric "mind: can constitute a real threat when man, in the name of freedom, considers it his right to impose his will in any way; in the name of freedom, he becomes destructive.

There is of course freedom "from something", e.g. freedom from oppression; there is also, however, freedom "for something", for a purpose. Absolute freedom from every kind of limitation, as we have said, goes against man's nature and alienates him; it transforms him into a tyrant or a monster. This is why true freedom is sought for in relation with the purpose, which of course is the edification, the building up, and not the destruction of man's personality.

In our times this question is especially contemporary, because many speak of freedom and liberation, negatively evaluating man's personality and aiming at its total abrogation. Others again speak about liberation, underlining that man has within him an unlimited power. Through their techniques they promise to liberate this power and to transform man into a superman, equal with God. And this concept presupposes absolute freedom and the right of autonomous man to impose his will upon the less powerful.

According to the Christian "mind" or way of thinking, true freedom, which is in harmony with man's nature, ministers unto human nature; it does not destroy it. It serves the unity, the harmony, the love of all of God's creation. It thus becomes apparent that the question of freedom is directly related to the concept that we have concerning man. Christian anthropology does not lead to impasses, nor to a concept of freedom catastrophic for man's personality. The Christian's concept of freedom is a blessing for man and for all creation.

When, therefore, we speak of freedom "for something" we mean the realization of man's nature, i.e., the fulfillment of the meaning of his life. God created man to progress from creation "according to the image" to the achievement of "the likeness"; i.e., to that fullness of communion and love by grace which has as its model the love of the three persons of the Holy Trinity.

It is indicative that Christ, speaking about the "limits" of love, which is the love for our enemies, characterizes them as "perfection" and puts forth as a model the love of the Heavenly Father: "But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you: that you may be the children of your Father which is in "heaven" (St. Matthew 5:44). The "mind" of love which includes one's enemies is the mind "according to the likeness" of the Heavenly Father. It is not offered forcibly or out of necessity, but freely.

The idea that to love our enemies, to bless those who curse us, and to do good to those who hate us, and indeed with all the strength of our souls, goes against human nature, is a warped and distorted idea. For that which goes against man's true nature is not loving one's enemies, but to hate them. Not to bless, but to curse.

God loves, blesses, does good. This is why the believer who loves God desires to be like Him; this moreover is the meaning of his life. In this way man overcomes his apostasy and returns to the mind of Adam before the fall. Adam was possessed by the conviction that Ever, the other person, was not something strange, but his very self; "This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh". In Christ Jesus we are no longer egoistical beings, "a thousand pieces"; we retain the feeling and  awareness of oneness of mankind, of the one man, and we understand the meaning of divine dispensation in Christ; Christ came to gather God's scattered children "into one" and He desires to incorporate all into all this unity of "one in Christ." In this sense does the believer understand the words of Scripture: "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." (St. Matthew 22:37-38).

Referring this love, Christ emphasized that on this the fulfillment of the entire law depends; this constitutes the Orthodox "mind" (phronema, Φρόνημα). Do not differentiate the other; understand him to be your member, and consider yourself and all others as one body and members of one another.

[The Orthodox Church its Faith, Worship and Life  By Rev. Father Antonios Alevizopoulos]

(Please note: The theological article that you have just read indicates and reveals the profound Orthodox Christian Theology of our Church. Orthodoxy is not just a visit from time to time to the Divine Liturgy and few other services. However, the more one knows and understands the more responsible one becomes for the way one thinks, feels and acts. Our Risen Lord and Savior says to all the Christian believers, "Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch" (St. Luke 5:4). This request of our Lord leads and means a radical change of life for each us who obey Him.

With sincere agape In Our Risen Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God

+Father George