My beloved spiritual children in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE Ο ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΕΝ ΤΩ ΜΕΣΩ ΗΜΩΝ! ΚΑΙ ΗΝ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΙ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΑΙ.
NEW IDOLATRY - NEW PAGANISM
By Constantine Kotsiopoulos - Dr. of Theology
We are well aware that there are two directions in the Neo-paganistic circles. One is acutely antichristian and believes that Hellenism and Christianity are incompatible. The second is more prudent and conciliatory, although accepting the harsh criticism of the former, against "Judeo-Christianity." It believes however in a continuous "Helleno-Christianity", in the co-existence of the ancient and Christian world, of course with the understanding that Christianity has not added many original ideas, but the greater part has been taken from or is modified ancient ideas.
On this point therefore, our criticism (of us Orthodox Christians) should be stated. We certainly know from history that George Plithon Gemistos wished to revive the ancient Greek world, without this impeding him from providing support to Saint Mark Evgenikos at Ferrara-Florence. He was in other words anti-unionist because he believed in the so called philosophical and historical continuity of antiquity and Orthodox Christianity. Of course even in this case we have an indirect and covered up undervaluing of Christianity, while he appears as a reflection of the ancient Greek world. In this stand of the Neo-paganists there is even the appearance (phenomenally friendly to Christianity) that destroyed the places of idol worship, but the Jewish Christians, thus introducing discrimination and racism in the hyper friendly Orthodoxy.
I believe that these views are more dangerous and for this it must be proved that "chaos" separates Christianity form the ancient idolatric world. In Christianity there is no philosophical copying, only different comprehension of the ancient Greek philosophical terminology.
As proof I mention certain basic differences:
- In antiquity, destiny is above gods and people, while in Christianity there is no sense of fatalism, but only the Almighty free, personal God.
- In ancient Greece, a god (as concerns the philosophers) was part of the eternal world (cosmic fire of the Stoics). God was simply a form giver and not creator of the world, since He formed the world from pre-existing matter. In Christianity the spiritual essence of God differs from the essence of worldly matter, and there is absolute distinction of the created and uncreated reality. God creates from nothing in the created reality without existing matter. "From the non-existing, you create us". As polytheism, so in monotheism of antiquity related to material worship (physiolatry) and pan-theism, something that does not exist in Christianity for we have no derivation in the world from the essence of God.
- Only in Christianity we differentiate between essence of God. This way the danger of agnosticism as well as pan-theism is avoided because the inaccessible essence of God becomes available and accessible through His energies.
- In antiquity we have a cyclic conception of the world where as in Christianity it is infinite and direct...
- In antiquity, evil acquires existence of entity, especially in the bipolar Manichaism. In Christianity it is considered as lack of good and has no entity.
- In antiquity the body is devalued or overvalued. Plato considered it as a Sign (tomb) of the soul. In Christianity the body as a creation of God is "very good" and man is considered a single psychosomatic (soul and body) being. The ancient Greeks accepted only the immortality of the soul, while Apostle Paul described the resurrection of the body.
- In the social teaching we have the devaluation of women, the justification of the burden of slavery (Aristotle) and the man-centered consideration of things. Christianity proclaims the parity (but not equality) between man and woman, and the abolition of slavery ("for there is no male and female nor slave or free.")
- In antiquity the faithful do not enter the sacred places, but only the surrounding places because they had the feeling of fear and apostasy of God. In Christianity the Incarnation of Christ brings men close to God and man acquires the comfort and familiarity to enter the house of God.
- At certain Orthodox churches icons of ancient Greek philosophers are place on the Narthex (such as Socrates and Plato) but not in the main temple. It is recognized therefore their offer for the partial transcendence of polytheism and idolatry, as well as the significant philosophical concepts (sowing of the word), but its distance from Christianity remains significant.
- According to Justin, philosopher and martyr Socrates, searches for one True God (a fact upon which he was condemned), but confesses the difficulty of the venture. Christ however comes with His authority to give flesh and bones to the quest for justice and victory over death.
"Glory Be To GOD For All Things!"--Saint John Chrysostom
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia (Ministry),
The sinner and unworthy servant of God