Saturday, December 30, 2017

Genesis 1:1 and the End of Time (St. Basil the Great)

By St. Basil the Great

Hexaemeron (Homily 1, 3-4)

The dogmas of the end, and of the renewing of the world, are announced beforehand in these short words put at the head of the inspired history: "In the beginning God made." That which was begun in time is condemned to come to an end in time. If there has been a beginning do not doubt of the end. Of what use then are geometry — the calculations of arithmetic — the study of solids and far-famed astronomy, this laborious vanity, if those who pursue them imagine that this visible world is co-eternal with the Creator of all things, with God Himself; if they attribute to this limited world, which has a material body, the same glory as to the incomprehensible and invisible nature; if they cannot conceive that a whole, of which the parts are subject to corruption and change, must of necessity end by itself submitting to the fate of its parts? But they have become "vain in their imaginations and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools" (Rom. 1:21-22). Some have affirmed that heaven co-exists with God from all eternity; others that it is God Himself without beginning or end, and the cause of the particular arrangement of all things.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

The Second Coming (Parousia) of Christ

The Orthodox understanding of the Second Coming of Christ is clear: the Lord Jesus Christ truly will return. His second advent is not a myth, nor an empty promise, nor is it a metaphor. In fact, each time the Divine Liturgy is celebrated, the priest makes a proclamation to the Father which reveals how the Church responds not only to the Second Coming of Christ, but to all of His work.

"Remembering this saving commandment [Jesus' command to eat His flesh and drink His blood] and all that has been done for us -- the Cross, the Tomb, the Resurrection on the third day, the Ascension into Heaven, the sitting at the right hand and the Second and glorious Coming -- we offer You Your own, from what is Your own, on behalf of all and for all."

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

The Boundaries Between Faith and Religious Charlatanism

By Markianos Protonotarios

In recent years, a religious uproar has exploded over ambiguous prophecies, causing widespread concern, while using the religiosity of the masses for some to gain by it. A religiosity that rekindled through miraculous and unexplained events like weeping icons and myrrhgushing relics and many, many eschatological prophecies.

Before I continue, however, I will clarify my position. Do not assume that I refuse to believe in the grace of God which is expressed in diverse ways in people's lives. When our Christ asserts that "if you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes" (Mk. 9:23), how can I doubt that as long as a grain of faith can move mountains, surely God can do anything. However, not a few times have people led others astray shamelessly, using Grace as they want. It is not by coincidence, I think, that the above passage from Holy Scripture as conveyed by Mark the Evangelist, Matthew the Evangelist describes in the same miracle Christ using the key-phrase "perverse" beside "unbelieving generation" (Matt. 17:17). The perversion Christ identifies with some people has to do with how some people use the Grace of God for themselves, however and whenever they want.

Monday, October 16, 2017

When Shall the Day of the Lord Come? (St. Symeon the New Theologian)

By St. Symeon the New Theologian

Woe to those who say, "When shall the day of the Lord come?" and they don't care to know and understand that day. For the Lord's Presence in the faithful has already come, and is continuously coming, and to all those who wish for it, has arrived and is firm. Because, if He is indeed the light of the world (John 8.12) and to His Apostles has said, that with us until the end of time He will be (Matt. 28.20, cf. Matt. 1.23), how, being with us, will He come? Not at all. For we are not sons of darkness and sons of night, in order for the light to overtake us, but sons of light and sons of the Lord's day, hence and living in the Lord we are, and dying in Him and with Him will live, as Paul says (Acts 17.28).

Thursday, October 12, 2017

On the Vanity of Dabbling In End Time Mysteries (St. Symeon the New Theologian)

By St. Symeon the New Theologian

Let us therefore put aside every vain and unprofitable disputation, and let us not seek ahead of time to learn what is proper to that hour, i.e., the Second Coming, but instead let us be persuaded by the Master Who says: "Search the Scriptures" (Jn. 5:39). Search, that is, and not meddle! Search the Scriptures and do not busy yourselves with disputes which lie outside the sacred writings. Search the Scriptures so that you may learn about faith, and hope, and love. About faith, so that you may not be tossed about by every wind which comes from the trickery of unstable men, but are rather rooted in the true dogma of the apostolic and catholic Church and "rightly divide" the word of her truth (2 Tim. 2:15). And not only this, but you should be taught as well to seek out the fruits of faith and the profit which derives from them through the practice of the commandments. When you have been enabled to find them, then indeed you shall be in possession of hope unashamed, and in the latter you shall possess the entirety of love for God. For it is impossible for anyone to possess perfect love for God otherwise than by grace of an unalloyed faith and a hope which is secure and unshakable. Why then do we abandon the examination of ourselves concerning these matters? And, if in fact we have that faith in God which He Himself - Who will judge us - says He will demand of us, why should we busy ourselves with matters which are beyond us, in particular when in truth we fail to see things which lie at our very feet.

From the First Ethical Discourse, translated by Fr. Alexander Golitzin.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

On the Apocalypse of John (St. Dionysios of Alexandria)

On the Apocalypse of John

By St. Dionysios of Alexandria

(Eusebius' Ecclesiastical History, Bk. 7, Ch. 25)

1. Some before us have set aside and rejected the book altogether, criticizing it chapter by chapter, and pronouncing it without sense or argument, and maintaining that the title is fraudulent.

2. For they say that it is not the work of John, nor is it a revelation, because it is covered thickly and densely by a veil of obscurity. And they affirm that none of the apostles, and none of the saints, nor any one in the Church is its author, but that Cerinthus, who founded the sect which was called after him the Cerinthian, desiring reputable authority for his fiction, prefixed the name.

Friday, September 15, 2017

The Seal of the Cross and the End of the World

By Fr. Vasilios I. Kalliakmanis

A) In recent years the issue of the end of the world has received much publicity. Online and print media, both secular and religious, have devoted thousands of pages to "informing the public". Alongside these things films have also aired with breathtaking visuals and analogous content, having as a subject the year "2012". There was so much interest regarding this issue and so many questions were posed to scientists that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in America was forced to open a relevant website and give answers refuting the rumors about the destruction of the universe.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Is an Eclipse a Sign of the End Times?

Numerous biblical passages link end-times events with astronomical phenomena. The sun, the moon, the stars, meteors, and possibly even eclipses are mentioned in connection with end-times Bible prophecies. For example, when asked about the timing of the end times, Jesus says, “There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars” (Luke 21:25). It’s natural that, whenever strange or rare astronomical phenomena occur, many wonder if the end times are approaching.

Monday, July 31, 2017

St Basil's Eschatological Vision: Aspects of the Recapitulation of History and the 'Eighth Day'



By Mario Baghos

Monday, July 3, 2017

Saint Basil's Cathedral and the Book of Revelation

Saint Basil's Cathedral in Moscow was built from 1555–61 on orders from Ivan the Terrible, and today is painted in a potpourri of saturated, bright colors that dominate all other buildings in the Red Square. The color scheme has evolved considerably since the complex was constructed, and the current colors were chosen and applied between 1680 and 1848. The Cathedral’s original color was said to have been white to match the white stone of the Kremlin, while the domes were gold. The new color scheme was chosen in accordance with descriptions of the New Jerusalem found in the scriptural Book of Revelation:

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The Influence of the Apocalypse of Pseudo-Methodius

Written in Syriac in the late seventh century, the Apocalypse of Pseudo-Methodius shaped and influenced Christian eschatological thinking in the Middle Ages. Falsely attributed to Methodius of Olympus, a fourth century Church Father, the work attempts to make sense of the Islamic Conquest of the Mediterranean world. The Apocalypse is noted for incorporating numerous aspects of Christian eschatology such as the invasion of Gog and Magog, the rise of the Antichrist, and the tribulations that precede the end of the world.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Justin Martyr's Eschatology

By L. W. Barnard

This study has been prompted by an article by Professor C. F. D. Moule of Cambridge on the Influence of Circumstances on the Use of Eschatological Terms (1). Briefly Professor Moule's thesis is that it is an error to seek for a sequence of development or evolution in eschato­logical formulations within the New Testament as the hope in the Parousia weakened: my point is not only that these (i. e. New Testament statements about the last things) are incapable of being built into a sin­gle system, but also that they have, intrinsically, no logical sequence or successive order of evolution, but may arrive on the scene at any mo­ment, and in almost any order, whether to 'peg' two opposite ends of a paradox or to defend different aspects of the truth as they chance to come under attack. They are produced (to use Papias' celebrated phra­se) πρός τάς χρείας to meet each need as it arises (2). Professor Moule has no difficulty in showing that the language of realized eschatology is used more when the individual believer is in mind; futurist eschatolo­gy when the group destiny is being emphasized; the mythical and quasi - physical language of apocalyptic when the future of the entire cosmos is in view. So Paul can use realized eschatology, apocalyptic and non - apocalyptic language according to his theme, not according to the stage of his theological development (3). The question of the delay in the Parousia was hardly in view in the New Testament and did not affect the shaping of theological thought (4).

Sunday, June 4, 2017

The Renewal of the Universe: A Mystery of the Last Times

“Creation shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption” (Romans 8:21).

“But we, the pious, cry unto Thee, O Comforter, in a God-inspired manner: ‘Blessed art Thou, O Renewer of the universe.”’1

The Great Feast of Pentecost, provides us with the opportunity to delve further into what is also a great Mystery of the last times: the renewal of the universe.

The Church was engendered on earth by the Holy Spirit for the purpose of transforming the earth into a Church — to Baptize the earth in the waters of the Incarnation of the Word and in the fiery flames of Pentecost.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

The Eucharist as an Anticipation of the Last Things

According to St. Maximus the Confessor, the eschatological character of the Divine Liturgy is demonstrated right from the beginning, at the opening of the Liturgy when the bishop and presbyters go up to the synthronon [the raised seats behind the altar], an action which images the enthronement of the Lord at the Father’s right hand, bringing human nature with him. After that, the Gospel reading ‘indicates the end of the world’. The dismissal of the catechumens images the future judgement. The beginning of the Liturgy of the Faithful images in advance the entry of those who are worthy into the bridal chamber of Christ. The kiss of peace ‘prefigures and portrays the concord and unanimity and identity of mind that all will leave with each other in faith and love at the time when the ineffable good things are revealed, through which those who are worthy receive intimate familiarity with the Word of God'. The Offering of the Eucharist is performed as an expression of the gratitude of the just for the divine gifts they enjoy in the Kingdom of God. The triumphal hymn ‘indicates that union and equality of honor with the bodiless and intelligible powers which will be manifest in the future'. The Lord's Prayer ‘is the symbol of the real and living adoption which will be given by the gift and grace of the Holy Spirit’. Finally, the reception of Holy Communion ‘indicates the adoption which through the goodness of our God will come about in every way upon all who are worthy, the union and intimacy and divine likeness and deification’.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Eschatological Dimensions of the Church

By Athanasios Yevtic

Within the general theme of the "Icon and the Kingdom", our theological faculty has been entrusted with the particular theme of "The Church and the Kingdom." In the framework of that theme this paper will deal with the eschatological character of the Church as a whole and the eschatological perspective of everything in the Church. This means that what is necessary for an authentic and full Orthodox eschatology is the eschatological dimension of the Church, which organically links the Church with the kingdom of God.

For the beginning of the evaluation of our theme and as a pro­per context we shall take a biblical event described at three places in the holy Scriptures. That event is the appearance of God to Moses on Sinai when he ordered him to erect the Tabernacle (the Tent of Witness). References to this manifestation are made in the Book of Exodus 25.40, by Protomartyr Stephen in Acts 7.44, and finally by the Apostle Paul in the Epistle to the Hebrews 8.5. If we combine these three references we shall get the following text: "See, " said God to Moses, "that you erect the Tabernacle, and everything in it, according to the type (κατά τον τύπον) which was shown you on Mount Sinai."

Sunday, February 19, 2017

The Dreadful Day of Judgment (Metr. Seraphim of Kastoria)

The Dreadful Day[1]

By Metropolitan Seraphim of Kastoria

"Let us proclaim" again today "not only one coming of Christ, but a second also, much better than the one prior, because the first was a demonstration of patience, while the next will bring the reign of the divine kingdom."[2] With these words, Saint Cyril of Jerusalem refers to the Second Coming of the Lord, which our Holy Church makes mention of on the Sunday of Meatfare.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Book Review: "Revelation - The Seven Golden Lampstands - Orthodox Christian Lessons" (vol. 1)

This multi-volume work, consisting of 104 consecutive lessons on the Book of Revelation, which were originally delivered in Greek in the 1980's and recorded on cassette by the well-known dynamic preacher Archimandrite Athanasios Mitilinaios, and transcribed and translated by Constantine Zalalas, is an essential addition for anyone who wishes to study the depths of this most mysterious book of the New Testament.

The first volume covers Revelation chapters 1 through 3 and consists of 23 lessons. This is not a dry exegesis intended for scholars alone, but it interprets the text in a pastoral and multifaceted way. It lifts you up spiritually, the way Revelation is meant to be read, and it consoles, strengthens and assists us in our spiritual journey. It doesn't focus on speculations and instigate an unhealthy curiosity often found in books that focus on the Book of Revelation, but it grounds the reader spiritually to be ready to face the events described. They are very reminiscent of the way St. John Chrysostom expounded on the texts of Holy Scripture in his homilies.