Orthodoxy and Faith

Venerable Alexander the founder of the Monastery, of the "Unsleeping Ones"

Venerable Alexander the founder of the Monastery, of the "Unsleeping Ones"

My beloved spiritual children in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,

By Protopresbyter Father George D. Metallinos, Professor Emeritus of the Athens University from his book "Philokalian Distinction between Orthodoxy and Heresy".

It is understood that Orthodoxy is always closely linked to faith. Thus, we speak of the "right and true faith," in order to distinguish it from the "adulterated faith." Orthodoxy is the true glory and glorification of God--the genuine notion of God--while a heresy is a manufactured glory, a morbid glorification of God. Orthodoxy and heresy thus confront each other in the area of Faith, and that is exactly where they diversify. What, therefore, is "faith" and how is it perceived in the life of the Church as the Body of Christ?

First of all, "faith" in the language of theology signifies divine revelation; it is that which is revealed to man, by God--it is the content of the revealed, Divine Truth. However, Divine Revelation is not an abstract thing, that is to say, a collection of intellectually conceived truths, ideas and basic positions that man is called upon to accept, in order to be saved. Such is the Scholastic view of faith, which has infiltrated our Dogmatics also. The Truth of the Church is a Person; it is the incarnate Son and Logos/Word of God; it is the incarnate All-Truth. It is the Person of our Lord Jesus Christ. The unknown and unapproachable God became (and continues to become) known, ever since the beginning of Creation, in Christ. In other words, God discloses Himself; He is self-revealed, in multilateral and resourceful ways (Hebrews 1:1), the culmination being His self-revelation in the Son--the incarnation of His Son--which was the prerequisite for the event of Pentecost, for the sake of which Creation (according to the Saints) was "composed." The Pentecost is God's supreme revelation in the Holy Spirit, and man's experience within history.

Christ, as a God-Human, is in a certain way the "objective" faith, which is offered from above, so that we may come to know God in Himself (see St. John 14:9--"whomsoever has seen Me, has seen the Father"). He is our "hypostatic" (=personal) faith, according to Saint Maximus the Confessor. We become faithful by participating in that personal and incarnated Faith (i.e., Christ). Only in Christ can there be a possibility to know the True God. And that is what establishes Orthodoxy's uniqueness and exclusivity, in the event know as salvation (Acts 4:12).

To the revealed Faith, which is "accredited" to man for his salvation, man reciprocates with his own (subjective) Faith. Man's faith is absolutely essential, in order for God's power to function inside man; to lead him to salvation. Its significance is stressed by Christ Himself: "Whosoever believes and is baptized shall be saved; whosoever disbelieves shall be reproached" (St. Mark 16:16). The "objective" Faith must necessarily be transformed into man's "subjective" Faith, for his salvation. And that is effected, through the "indwelling (Romans 8:9...if the Spirit of God dwells within you...") of the "objective" Faith; in other words, the "indwelling" of the revealed-in-Christ Truth as a "life in Christ", and to live that Truth, so that he too may become "true," just as Christ is "the true One" (1 John 5:20). Man's salvation is when he is rendered "true," and the prerequisite for this, is his union with the true God.

A faith that is Orthodox is the one that acts soteriologically. And that is the precise point where heresy differentiates itself from Orthodoxy. "Heresy" is the adulteration of the faith and its retraction at the same time, because it is adulterating the faith in two directions on the one hand, with regard to the "believed" (Christ) and on the other, with regard to its manner of accepting Christ. In a heresy, Christ is segmented and is accepted not in whole but segmentally, by a segmented and --not whole--person, because He is approached only by man's intellect and his lips, while the heart and man's entire existence is "a long way off from God (St. Matthew 15:8). A heresy (every heresy) is not only a false teaching; it is literally a non-Orthodoxy and a non-Christianity. By approaching the matter in this way, we disentangle ourselves from the confessional disagreements of the past and their scholastic terminology. After all, what is of primary concern is not how false a teaching might be, but whether it is capable of healing man (as Fr. John Romanides used to teach); whether it is capable of saving him.

Thus, one could say in conclusion--with regard to the process of the even called "faith"--that faith begins as a logical-intellectual process, in the sense of an external affirmation by man, progressing as an acceptance of God's offer and a loyalty towards Him, to be fulfilled however, with an internal certainty and cognizance of God, in Christ. These are the exact basic meanings--linguistically--contained in the term "faith" (pistis) in the Greek language, the language of the Gospels: em-pisto-syni (trust), pisto-tita (fidelity, faithfulness), vevaiotita (certainty, confidence).

Saint Justin Popovich writes:

"All Truths of Orthodoxy emerge from one truth and converge in one truth, infinite and eternal. That truth is the God-man Christ. If you experience Orthodoxy to its limit, you will inevitably discover that its kernel is the God-man Christ. In fact, all the truths of Orthodoxy are nothing else than different aspects of the one Truth--the God-man Christ."



The Grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God and Father, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.


"Glory Be To GOD For All Things!"--Saint John Chrysostom


With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,

The sinner and unworthy servant of God

+Father George