Phronema III: Is Conscience the Cornerstone?

Phronema is a Greek term that is used in Orthodox theology to refer to mindset or outlook; it is the Orthodox mind. The attaining of phronema is a matter of practicing the correct faith (orthodoxia) in the correct manner (orthopraxia — Praxis being defined as the overall lifestyle of members of the Orthodox Church.)  Attaining phronema is regarded as the first step toward theosis, the state of glorification which is (at least as far as possible in this world) a recovery of the original nature of man made in the image and likeness of God.

Phronema refers to “the completely self-sacrificial trust and faith in religious and ethical truths… from the voice of God…. an unshakeable certainty about the truth of Faith… undiminished and vibrant throughout life, a continually verified daily experience,” “a growing feeling for and understanding of God’s and the practice of Orthodox piety—Orthodox Worship and behavior.”  The phronema is vested in tradition “against all heresies and schisms of all times”. The “mind of the Fathers” is also termed phronema as is the “mind of the Church” and “the mind of Christ.”      (adapted from OrthodoxWiki.org)

Firstly, we must clarify what ‘phronema’ is, being of course the most central presupposition that defines the position and behavior of the theologian in his particular time. The term ‘phronema’ is of pre-Christian origin, and can be found in a broad range of Greek literature. Continue reading

Correcting One Another IV: Damned with “Faith” Alone?

From a transcribed interview between Fr. Thomas Hopko and host Kevin Allen from The Illumined Heart podcast on Ancient Faith Radio, 30 September 2007:

Fr. Thomas Hopko: “But let’s make another scenario. Suppose you have a friend who has never been baptized, and he says, “Please baptize me.” And you say, “Okay, I’m going to run and get some water.” While you are gone the guy dies. Is it too late? Does he go to hell? Some people would say, “Yes, God arranged for him never to get baptized so he could send him to hell because he is among the damned.” That would not be the Orthodox teaching.

“St. Gregory the Theologian said a long time ago that desire would count before God as the baptism, itself. He spoke about the baptism of desire, the baptism of fire. In other words, God is not an ogre, and He is not a machine, pagan-type God, saying, “Not baptized; go to hell.” You could be baptized, chrismated, and serve the Divine Liturgy and go to hell. John Chrysostom said hell would probably be filled with guys wearing porphyria [purple], the stole—pastors. Continue reading