The spiritual path in the theology of the Eastern Church

  1. Lemma
  2. Der geistliche Weg nach ostkirchlicher Theologie
  3. German
  4. Koutalis, Vangelis
  5. Orthodox theological tradition and practice > Patristic studies - Orthodox Anthropology - Concepts of knowledge and modes of reasoning > Mysticism and Orthodox spiritual experience - Ecology and the environment
  6. 26-02-2017
  7. Schneider, Michael [Author]. The spiritual path in the theology of the Eastern Church
  8. Radio Horeb
  9. Orthodox spirituality - Occidental mysticism - Occidental theology - Eucharist - Evolution - cosmology - Orthodox doctrine of the Uncreated and the Created (Άκτιστο-Κτιστό) - eschatology
  10. Patristisches Zentrum: Koinonia – Oriens e.V. im Erzbistum Köln
    1. <p>Schneider, M. (2015). <em>Der geistliche Weg nach ostkirchlicher Theologie</em> [Transcript of a lecture broadcasted on Radio Horeb, 13/07/2015, available from].</p>
    1. According to the lecturer, spiritual life in the Eastern theology, the doctrinal edifice of which is based on the seven Ecumenical Councils and the writings of the Holy Fathers, takes a different meaning from that in the Occidental theology. Its objective is the unity with God and the participation in the life of the Triad. The path leading to this destination is not coincidental with the imitation of Christ, in the sense of living with Christ, as is the case in Occidental mystics. Oriental spirituality defines the imitation of Christ rather as living in Christ. Prerequisite for such a path is the Resurrection and this is the reason why in its framework the intensity of faith is expressed through the metaphor of light, in contradistinction to the ‘mystical night’ of the Occidental piety.

      Instead of revolving around the human sinfulness, the Eastern theology is oriented towards the novel creation of human beings that Christ, the enfleshment of the Divine Word of God, rendered possible. In the West, the theology and the mysticism of the Cross are on the forefront. In Eastern soteriology, what is central is the Incarnation and this is yet one of its features which is illustrative of the attention paid both to the Trinitarian dimension of the Salvation and to the relation between God and the creation. Life in faith is regarded as a process advancing towards the final transfiguration of the cosmos and the human beings. The participation in this process entails both the feeling of longing and the operation of ‘synergy’, the latter thematizing the actuality of the relation between God and human beings, as well as the freedom of human beings as essential in the redemption. Longing and the notion of synergy play a key role in Eastern spiritual life and find their expressions in the sacramental experience of the Church. Faith and expectation for the renovation of life are passionately articulated through praise.

      Highlighting the divergence of views between the Occidental and the Oriental theology with regard to the question of the way in which the Creator is related to the Creation, the author points out that in lieu of the dualistic approach (God/nature, Transcedence/Immanence, Heaven/Earth), which is dominant in the West and has anthropocentric implications, since it overestimates the ontological status of human beings by depicting them as the centre of the Creation that stands opposite to God, in the East, the created cosmos is principally grasped as the realm of God. The question of the creation is not reduced to a question merely concerning the causality of God.

      Whereas in the West, the concept of evolution seems to be theologically untapped, as a consequence of the fact that it is mainly the ‘original creation’ (creatio originalis) and not the ‘novel creation’ (creatio nova), that is put under discussion, in Orthodox eschatology both the cosmos and the human beings acquire their meaning in the process leading to the transformation of the creation into an actual dwelling place of God. After the Incarnation, human beings ceased to be slaves to the world, a condition in which they had found themselves in the wake of the Fall and may again become priests of the world. This, retrieved through the Passion of Christ, possibility, that the image of God will join its archetype, is precisely what the Orthodox liturgy announces under the form of an experience which can be shared within the community of faith.