This book deals with theological and social subjects from the perspective of the Orthodox East.
The Church has power to transform humanity, the world and life. ‘A Human Being from Conception’ stresses that the embryo has a soul from the moment of conception, and is a human being with a right to live and to progress from the image of God to His likeness. Reading ‘Marriage Before and After the Fall’ and ‘Salvation in Marriage’, we note that, when marriage is placed within the environment of the Orthodox Church and is inspired by it, it is a way of healing and salvation for people. In the Orthodox Church there is no fundamental difference between those who are married and those who are not. The pieces on ‘The Theological Aspect of the Problem of AIDS’ and ‘Drugs and Young People’ stress that both drugs and AIDS bring to light the absence of meaning in people’s lives. We see the causes of the problem, and what the appropriate conditions are in order for young people to find love and the meaning of life. The Orthodox Church has a therapeutic method by which man’s inner world is healed. ‘Justice’ stresses that there is no true justice outside life in Christ. In the Orthodox Church we do not just speak about human justice prevailing, but about God’s justice, which is charity and love for mankind. ‘Rich and Poor according to the Three Hierarchs, especially St Basil the Great’ and ‘Ecclesiastical Wealth and Philanthropy’ set out the teachings of the saints of the Church, and particularly of the Three Hierarchs, who spoke out against social injustice and man’s exploitation of his fellow man. Their teaching is not directed against material possessions, but against the passions, and aims at transforming human beings, which is the best contribution to society. ‘The Mark of the Beast and the Seal of the Lamb’, ‘The Seal of Christ’ and ‘The Activity of the Antichrist’ refer to things that have been said and written in recent years about the Antichrist. The Antichrist exists, is active, but is also coming. The mark is not just an outward sign, but an inner acceptance and recognition of the Antichrist. Likewise, the seal of the Lamb is not merely something external but an experience of the sacramental and ascetic life, in other words, acknowledgement and worship of the true God. What exactly the imagination is, and how it relates to man’s transformation and his journey towards deification is discussed in ‘Unreality, Imagination and Illusion’. According to the teaching of the holy Fathers of the Church, in order for man’s nous to attain to the vision of God, it must be completely freed from all images, even those that are good. The Church is able to cure all the wounds of contemporary society, because from its own theanthropic culture it can offer vital solutions and salvation. In the teaching of the holy Fathers there is no opposition between theology and life. As it says in the piece on ‘Orthodox Tradition’, the Orthodox Church is the only one which can save the world, because there is no salvation outside the God-Man.
Μητροπολίτης Ναυπάκτου Ιερόθεος