Fr. John Ramanides, Professor

Relevation, Holy Tradition, Holy Scriptures and infallibility

translated by: Hieromonk Amfilohije

pages: 221-246


This article is translated from the book written in Greek by Fr. Iohn Romanides »Dogmatic and Symbolic Theology of the Orthodox Catholic Church« (Salonica 1973, pp. 109—161).

The basic idea of this article is that the centre of the Holy Tradition is Christ and fellowship with Him, as well as the testimony to Him of His friends: prophets, apostles and saints. The author emphasizes that the same Christ reveals Himself both in the Old and in the New Testaments; in the Old in a bodiless way — through words, symbols and foreshadowing typology, and in the New Testament He reveals Himself bodily as well. The essence of His Revelation is fin the giving to all men of the uncreated Divine Glory of God the Father through the Son in the Holy Spirit. This uncreated energy of the Divine Logos is the very Pledge and essence of the faith, is the essence of the Holy Scriptures and through them it is the source of the knowledge of God and of the deification. This knowledge of God is indirect when it is given orally or in writ, through the icons and imaginings in thoughts, through the word of the Holy Scriptures, through liturgical and sacramental life of the Church, and through the writings of the Holy Fathers and the rules of the Ecumenical Councils. Those holy men, however, who were deemed worthy of the vision of God and of the deification have a direct knowledge of God, but both indirect and direct knowledge of God are in harmony with one another. The Holy Scriptures and the Holy Tradition have the same power of the Revelation: they have in common the deifying grace and the glory of the Incarnate Logos. This is the power which the hierarchy is transmitting and, at the same time, this is the power vhich makes possible the reception, transmission and preservation of this gift of God. The prophets, apostles and saints are those in the Church vho receive, preserve and transmit this gift directly, having seen and foretasted the glory of the Kingdom of God, whereas the ohers receive the Divine grace from them, preserving it and transmitting it with a childlike simplicity and confidence.

The full revelation of the uncreated glory of God was disclosed on the Day of Pentecost. Therefore, only those who conceive the relevation as a re- levation in words, images, symbols and values, without Christ's uncreated power which surpasses all created minds — as it is the case with the theologians of the Western tradition — may speak of the »development of dogmas« and of the relevation of new truths.

For the Orthodox Church there is only one, and for all generations ever the same, initiation, as deification, into the unchangeably same truth, into which the apostles have already been initiated an the Day of Pentecost. Consequently, the progress after the Pentecost consists not in an additional relevation of new truths, but only in the formulation of the one and same truth given to the saints once for ever.

Only those who possess this Divine glory and believe that this glory is the very essence of the Holy Tradition and of the Holy Scriptures, whlich is its written part, they are only able to interpret properly the Holy Writ. The Church infallibly teaches about God, because she is Christ, who reigns together with His friends, and through their mediation He gives Himself as a Pledge to all believers, via the Holy Scripture and the Holy Sacrament. This Pledge and Tradition are the same thing: they are manifested through the Holy Writ and the total Church life which, taken as a whole, is the ecclesiastical Tradition. This is the reason why the infallibility is the attribute of the Church, of the Pledge and of the Holy Tradition, being also contained in the Holy Scriptures, but only then if it is found in the depth of the sacramental life of those believers who are already deified in Christ. Outside the Church there is no infallibility, since the heretics have no hermeneutical power of the Church, i. e. they hawe no glory of the Incarnate Logos neither the initiation into this glory by the Holy Spirit.





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