Fr. John Romanides
One must particularly praise the publishing, as well as the availability afforded to the reading public, of the University lectures delivered by the pan-orthodoxically renowned and respected dogmatologist Professor, protopresbyter fr. John Romanides. The taperecording of those lectures during the first semester of the academic year 1983-1984 at the Thessaloniki University’s School of Theology gave birth to the idea of a faithful student of fr. John – traditional Monk fr. Damascenos Karakallinos – to transcribe them into text form and offer them to the orthodox flock for their theological instruction and spiritual edification.
Every time I converse with fr. John’s students I am always made aware of the strong impact that his words had on them. Not only were his lectures attended by students of the School of Theology, but also by many others – by both students of other Schools, but also by civilians who were taken by his teachings.
This outstanding university teacher and cleric has provided us with Dogmatics “of another kind”, beyond the familiar, scholastic models prevalent until that time; beyond academism and rationalism that were still weighing down our university theology. His words rephrased patristic teaching – something that did not involve a mere quoting of patristic excerpts, but a deeper penetration into the patristic spirit and their experience, from within their cardian association with our Triadic God.
These testimonials on fr. John Romanides, along with my own findings from the researching of his works, have convinced me that we can actually speak of a “pre-Romanides” and a “post-Romanides” era, University-wise. Because for the first time, university theology has become familiarized, through him, with its true linkage to the History and the Worship of the Orthodox Church, as the recording of the ecclesiastic body’s experience and its testification of life “in Christ”, and that theology is not the recording of an autonomized scientific knowledge that is devoid of any immediacy through the labours of the faithful for salvation.
In this light, the present book has also assumed the characteristic of being symbolic in the history of our academic theology, whose beginnings lie in the School of Theology of the Ionian Academy (1824) and more especially as regards the lesson of Dogmatics, which comprises the very heart of theological learning and the scientific introduction into the Faith of the Church. This is why it is certain that not only the specialists and the students, but also the broader ecclesiastic body, will benefit immensely fom these lectures, given the ecclesiastic and traditional disposition of its author, who regarded and experienced Dogmatic Theology as an ecclesiastic function.
Naturally, fr. Damascenos’ contribution in the setting out of the final text format was a most significant one; because, without altering in the slightest the words and the spirit of the ever-memorable Professor, he also tended to the smoothing out of spoken expressions inside the text, as well as the necessary re-arrangement of the spoken word into a written form (as fr. John always spoke and taught by heart, not from notes), yet without in the least betraying the Teacher’s succulent speech, which is why we congratulate him from the heart for his labours, which will prove to be the cause of so much spiritual benefit.
Protopresb. Fr. George D. Metallinos
Dean of the Athens University School of Theology
This book contains the text of the transcribed taperecordings of the in-house lectures delivered on the Orthodox Patristic Dogmatics teachings of the late Professor and Protopresbyter fr. John Romanides, the way that they were comprehended, presented and delivered by him at the Aristotelian University of Thessaloniki during the teaching period of the first semester of the year 1983.
The corpus of these lectures is presented in here, after the adjustments of certain phrasal expressions were made, wherever needed. The value of these lectures – as compared to fr. John’s own written texts – is that, because they were verbal and were addressed to students, they were much simpler and therefore more palpable with regard to the language as well as the expressions used, without, however, their essence and their content falling short in their value, when compared to his other, written works.
In numerous places, father John’s expressions are varied. We did not wish to intervene. We considered it proper, from every aspect, to preserve father John’s style, and his unpretentious and spontaneous use of the language. As for his choice of (Greek) orthography, we tried to follow the one he used in his other books.
It was deemed useful for the text of the lectures to be accompanied by certain comments. In this way, we believe that the reader will be facilitated in his understanding of the lectures.
The textual form of the verbally delivered lectures does not constitute a scientific treatise by nature; it is rather an attempt to introduce the reader into the spirit and the truth of Orthodox Tradition. It chiefly aspires to transmit to the reader the awareness that the Orthodox Tradition is that which has deposited inside it, not only the theological method by which one can attain the prerequisites for being healed in soul and spirit and thus enabled to see God as much as is humanly possible, but also the fact that this method is offered to every single person, through to our time. And, given that God is Light, this method (when applied properly) is nothing less than a course leading to the Light.
Inside this text of father John’s lectures, only a simple mention is made on the catharsis (=cleansing) of the heart from vices. Father John does not describe here in great length how this catharsis is achieved. The process of catharsis is already deposited in the Ascetic Tradition of the Church, a representative text of which is the “Ladder” by Saint John of Sinai. Those who wish to delve deeper into the subject of catharsis can begin their research or study with this text; that is, with the “Ladder” by Saint John.
Apart from the above, also outlined in these lectures by father John is the way that the Orthodox Tradition was taught, projected and experienced in Greece, from the period following the Revolution of 1821 though to our time; also the significance and the role of Orthodox Tradition in our day and age; the prerequisites for its survival, as well as who its enemies are. In other words, along with the presentation of the foundations of Orthodox Tradition, an attempt was also made by father John to critique its perpetual significance and implementation. And this is accomplished within the framework of projecting the Orthodox Tradition and its perennial worth, which is the scope of this essay.
Being true as they are, father John’s words are just as valid in our time, because, despite the revival of Orthodox Patristic Tradition in the realm of the Church in Greece following the first edition of his book “The Original Sin”, the sad phenomenon of Patristic Teaching and Theology still remaining unknown to many in this field continues to be a prominent one; furthermore, the confusion prevailing among theological circles on important theological issues (e.g., on what “Paradise” and “Hell” are), are proof of the lack of Patristic theological criteria.
The reader will notice that father John’s statements are quite often caustic. We are confident, however, that this might just be a positive thing, inasmuch as it may function therapeutically.
We wish to extend our heartfelt thanks to the person who generously granted us access to the tapes of father John’s lectures, as well as to all those who assisted in this publication, as was the hieromonk fr. Alexios Trader and the Monk fr. Arseny Vliagoftis.
We especially extend our heartfelt thanks to the most reverend Protopresbyter father George Metallinos, Professor of the Athens University, for his suggestions and his encouragement on the publication of this project, as well as for his Prologue appearing above.
Further thanks are extended to the daughters of the late fr. John Romanides, Eulampia and Anastasia, for their kind permission to proceed with this publication. This endeavor would have remained unfulfilled, without the wholehearted support of the “Parakatatheke” Publishers, who have included this book among their series of other publications.
Thanks are also due, for the flawless artistic presentation of the Graphic Arts team “Palimpseston” and its director, Mrs. Chrysoula Peyiou.
Written in the Holy Mountain, in the year 2004, on the month of January the 17th,
Day of commemoration of our Father the Hossios Antonios the Great,
Professor of the Desert.
Damascenos, Hagiorite monk
File created: 5-9-2007.
Last update: 5-9-2007.