ORTHODOXY AND FAITH
By Protopresbyter Fr. George D. Metallinos, Professor Emeritus of the Athens University, from his book “Philokalian Distinction between Orthodoxy and Heresy, ” ch. 8.
It is understood that Orthodoxy is always closely linked to faith. Thus, we speak of the “right and true faith,” in order to distinguish it from the “adulterated faith.” Orthodoxy is the true glory and glorification of God—the genuine notion of God—while a heresy is a manufactured glory, a morbid glorification of God. Orthodoxy and heresy thus confront each other in the area of Faith, and that is exactly where they diversify. What, therefore, is “faith” and how is it perceived in the life of the Church as the Body of Christ?
First of all, “faith” in the language of theology signifies divine revelation; it is that which is revealed to man, by God—it is the content of the revealed, Divine Truth (Fides quae creditur). However, Divine Revelation is not an abstract thing, that is to say, a collection of intellectually conceived truths, ideas and basic positions that man is called upon to accept, in order to be saved. Such is the Scholastic view of faith, which has infiltrated our Dogmatics also. The Truth of the Church is a Person; it is the incarnated Son and Logos of God; it is the incarnate All-Truth. It is the Person of our Lord Jesus Christ. The unknown and unapproachable God became (and continues to become) known, ever since the beginning of Creation, in Christ. In other words, God discloses Himself; He is self-revealed, in multilateral and resourceful ways (Heb m), the culmination being His self-revelation in the Son—the incarnation of Flis Son—which was the prerequisite for the event of Pentecost, for the sake of which Creation (according to the Saints) was “composed.” The Pentecost is God’s supreme revelation in the Holy Spirit, and man’s experience within history.
Christ, as a God-Human, is in a certain way the “objective” faith, which is offered from above, so that we may come to know God in Himself [set Jn 14:9—whomsoever has seen Me, has seen the Father). He is our “hypostatic” (=personal) faith, according to Saint Maximus the Confessor. We become faithful by participating in that personal and incarnated Faith (i.e., Christ). Only in Christ can there be a possibility to know the true God. And that is what establishes Orthodoxy’s uniqueness and exclusivity, in the event known as salvation. (Acts 4:12)
To the revealed Faith, which is “accredited” to man for his salvation, man reciprocates with his own (subjective) Faith [Fides qua creditur). Man’s faith is absolutely essential, in order for God’s power to function inside man; to lead him to salvation. Its significance is stressed by Christ Himself: Whosoever believes and is baptized shall be saved; whosoever disbelieves shall be reproached. (Mk 16:16). The “objective” Faith must necessarily be transformed into man’s “subjective” Faith, for his salvation. And that is effected, through the indwelling (Rom 8:9 ... if the Spirit of God dwells within you ...) of the “objective” Faith; in other words, the indwelling of the Uncreated inside the created; of God inside man. Man is invited by Christ to become “faithful”, to be receptive of the revealed-in-Christ Truth as a “life in Christ”, and to live that Truth, so that he too may become “true,” just as Christ is the true One (1 Jn 5:20). Man’s salvation is when he is rendered “true,” and the prerequisite for this, is his union with the true God.
A faith that is Orthodox is the one that acts soteriologically. And that is the precise point where heresy differentiates itself from Orthodoxy. “Heresy” is the adulteration of the faith and its retraction at the same time, because it is adulterating the faith in two directions: on the one hand, with regard to the “believed” (Christ) and on the other, with regard to its manner of accepting Christ. In a heresy, Christ is segmented and is accepted, not in whole but segmentally, by a segmented—not whole—person, because He is approached only by man’s intellect and his lips, while the heart and man’s entire existence is a long way off Fom God (Mt 15:8).
A heresy (every heresy) is not only a false teaching; it is literally a non-Orthodoxy and a non-Christianity. By approaching the matter in this way, we disentangle ourselves from the confessional disagreements of the past and their scholastic terminology. After all, what is of primary concern is not how false a teaching might be, but whether it is capable of healing man (as Fr. Romanides used to teach); whether it is capable of saving him. Thus, one could say in conclusion—with regard to the process of the event called “faith”—that faith begins as a logical intellectual process, in the sense of an external affirmation by man, progressing as an acceptance of God’s offer and aloyalty towards Him, to be fulfilled however, with an internal certainty and cognizance of God, in Christ. These are the exact basic meanings—linguistically—contained in the term “faith” [pistis) in the Greek language, the language of theGospels: empistosyni (trust), pistotita (fidelity, faithful- ness), vevaiotita (certainty, confidence).