Today, many historical forms of Christianity are dead or dying. Trying to preserve them through blind conservatism can lead only to the creation of malicious and distrustful ghettos which idolize formalism, or to ‘fascist’ adventures that lead nowhere. On the contrary, we must trust in the ‘newness of the Spirit,’ who will transform this death into resurrection. New approaches are already developing, approaches which rediscover and develop the deepest intuitions of thinkers such as Gregory of Nyssa, Maximus the Confessor, or Isaac of Syria. The sadism of expiatory conceptions of salvation is being replaced with paschal joy. The notion of hell as an eternal concentration camp is being replaced by prayer for universal salvation. The obsession with individual salvation (for which only a few, in any case, are destined) is being replaced by a sense of limitless communion. Fear of the flesh is being replaced by the call to transfigure it, whether through monastic ascesis, the love between a man and a woman, or the struggle of the creative act. Escapism into the heavenly realm is being replaced by a union between heaven and earth, by ‘fidelity to the earth’ and all its creatures, so as to transfigure them. The list could go on and on.
The sacred is dying, as the Gospel has predicted. The Sabbath is for man, and not man for the Sabbath. It is not that which enters into the mouth that defiles man, but that which comes from his heart. Regulations concerning purity and impurity are being rejected. And particularly regulations concerning woman, who is no longer seen as the necessarily inferior ‘complement’ of man, but as a person of infinite importance, called to be human in a feminine mode, destined for the free and reciprocal encounter with the male.
The Gospel, therefore, reveals the ultimate value of the person and of the communion of persons. The Decalogue—which is revelation and not ‘natural law’—forbids murder and idolatry. And in the light of the resurrection, the Gospel introduces an ethic of creative love. In the Holy Spirit, man discovers his vocation as ‘created creator.’ To the frozen opposition between sacred and profane, between pure and impure, the Spirit substitutes the power of sanctification. Israel has transformed the cosmos into history. The Spirit assumes both the cosmos and history into the Body of Christ: Gaia becomes the prefiguration of the Virgin-Mother, and the ancient myths are transformed into a poetry of communion. Holiness can therefore reinvent the sacred, which is the poetry of creation and of faces, a trembling before the immensity of love.
— Conversations with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I,