Sunday, March 18, 2012


Everything that exists in our world is fashioned in some way after the image of the Divine Logos, ‘through Whom all things were made,’
δι ου τά πάντα εγένετο is how it is expressed in the ancient Christian statement of faith we call the Symbol of Nicæa. Who or what is this Divine Logos? In college I first read about this Logos in the writings of Philo of Alexandria, a Hellenistic Jewish philosopher, and my vague notions of ‘the Word’ that I had read in the first verse of John’s gospel began to flesh out.

Slowly, as I exposed myself to the Bible, usually called ‘the Word of God’, I began to see and understand what is meant in the Symbol when it says in its own words what John wrote, ‘all that came to be had its being through Him, and without Him nothing came to be.’ Studying Church history, the controversies leading up to the first worldwide council of Nicæa, I became aware of the subtle difference between what the Arian faction believed about Christ and what the Orthodox believed.

To both groups, Christ is the Divine Logos. That answers the question posed earlier, ‘Who or what is this Divine Logos?’ Leaving gender but not personhood aside for the moment, it is the One who incarnated as a human being in the Jewish Mashiach, that is, Christ. To both groups, the Divine Logos is the agent of creation. To both, it is uniquely related to God the Father, but for both, in a different manner. The Arians in proclaiming the unity of God, divided; the Orthodox in affirming the trinity of God, united.

To the Arians, only God the Father is God, the Unbegotten, and the Logos, the Only-Begotten, read ‘first and only created’, is the only Creation of the Father, His single utterance, His sole expression of Himself. There are many verses in the scriptures, taken together in a certain way, that can support this notion. Hence, the intellectual foundation of all forms of Unitarianism from Arius till today. The rest of the Arian belief conforms to Orthodoxy: The Divine Logos, not God the Father, created everything else.

To the Orthodox, this definition introduced a fissure into the Godhead that could not be allowed, and they would not yield on the point made in John’s gospel, that ‘God was the Word,’ θεός ην ο λόγος, not just merely ‘divine,’ θείος, a word found nowhere in the gospel passage, nor anywhere else in the New Testament except in the second letter of Peter. Agreeing with the Arians, or actually the other way round, Orthodoxy attributes the origin of the created universe to the Divine Logos alone.

The Divine Logos imparts His inner structure to what would otherwise be chaotic and unformed in the material universe, everything passing through His hands, now speaking of Him as the Divine Man. When the Bible speaks of man being created ‘in Our image’ what is inferred is that humanity is an ‘image,’ εικον, of the Divine Logos, who Himself is One of the Holy Triad. As His special creation, humanity is His pre-eminent and most complete image or ikon. What Arius believed of the Logos is true of humanity.

The Word of God creates mankind, and mankind creates the human world. Of course, the Divine Word (for now we can simply use the English equivalent of ‘Logos’) created all that exists, and therefore everything partakes of His nature as a more or less complete ikon, but in humanity we have and are the most complete and perfect ikon. Hence, the envy of other rational (or once rational) beings, those life forms known as the bodiless powers, of whom a faction opposed God to His face.

How can beings that are immortal, sexless, and capable of keeping the cosmos moving in its myriad orbits not be more complete, more perfect, than mankind, that small and weak creation of the Divine Word? Yet the One ‘begotten of the Father before all ages,’ τόν εκ του Πατρός γεννηθέντα πρό πάντων τών αιώνων, created a rational race that in some respects was less glorious than the angels, but who in the purpose of His eternal Mind are more than mere messengers, more than mechanical servants.

The scriptures teach, ‘Yet God did make man imperishable, He made Him in the image of His own nature; it was the devil’s envy that brought death into the world, as those who are his partners will discover’ (Wisdom of Solomon 2:23-24 Jerusalem Bible). This ‘imperishability’ is eternity scaled down to the proportions of our human nature: Immortality for the human race is part of our nature as created by the Divine Logos, who became one of us to restore, to recreate His image, His ikon, in us.

‘It is all ikon,’ as the saying goes. We are all ikon. Everything and everyone points to a reality beyond what can be perceived by the senses, yet that does not negate those perceptions. ‘And the unseen is proved by the seen, till that becomes unseen and receives proof in its turn’ (Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass). Not only we, but all of creation, are books partaking of the nature of the Book, of that Divine Word ‘through Whom all things were made.’

Glory to You, O God! Glory to You!


Victoria Hudgins said...

I read your blog often and find much beauty in it. Do you have a target audience? I wonder, because I struggle to understand much of what you write, even when I read it over and over. Does one have to spend a life studying Orthodoxy to comprehend what it teaches?

Ρωμανός ~ Romanós said...

I have no target audience. I am not writing for Orthodox Christians only, although there are many topics which they will understand best. The more you immerse yourself in daily reading of the Bible and daily prayer, even if you don't read much, the better you will understand what I write.

Originally, I think, I started blogging to show the beauty and rationality of Orthodoxy to those who are Christians but not part of the ancient Church. This without the agenda of trying to convert anyone to it, because I do not believe in religious conversion. A Christian's first priority is to follow Jesus. Where the Lord wants him or her to follow Him, in what church environment, is or should be dependent on the call of Christ.

Christianity is not something to think about primarily, but something to do, and to be. Orthodoxy has had the longest and deepest experience of what it means to follow the call of Jesus, and what I do is to welcome everyone into it, in whatever way they can make themselves at home.

Yes, I know some of the things I write do require certain kinds of experience and maybe book learning to understand completely. I integrate literature and culture, both Christian and non-Christian, into my writing, in the hopes that everyone can find at least a little bit of their home when they walk through this doorway into my home.

I want to show people, Orthodox or not, Christians or not, that life in Christ is a possibility, not merely a religious practice or observance, but an actual daily, moment by moment relationship with Jesus, who is not an historical figure, but a living person, here and now.

In fact He is here with us as I write and you read. He is closer than close. He is in us, with us, and in our midst.

Our only job in this life, is to find heaven on earth in His presence in our neighbor, and to love and be loved.

Paradise still exists, but it is hidden from the proud. Lay down our defenses, follow the call, take up the easy yoke, bear the burden light, and follow Jesus. He is the faithful and the true.