January 27, 2024

Fr. John Romanides as a Professor of Dogmatics at Holy Cross School of Theology in Boston (6 of 8)

d. Orthodox Triadology and Christology

"The dogma of the Holy Trinity and the dogma of Christology are inseparable and their separation is incomprehensible. In order to understand the Christological dogma, one must know the dogma of the Holy Trinity.

In the Fourth Gospel we observe in the reply of Christ to Philip, Christ says that since you see Me, you also see the Father (Jn. 14:9). This passage is a beautiful source of the dogma of the Holy Trinity, it is the key. The Son is an exact image of the Father. The energy is one; that is, when the Father speaks, consequently the Son also speaks. The action is done through the Son (Christ) on behalf of the Father. The only difference is that the Father is the First Person of the Holy Trinity and the Son is the Second Person.

Likewise, the Prophets of the Old Testament, when they see the angel of the Lord (the Second Person of the Holy Trinity), say 'I saw the Lord' (the Father, First Person of the Holy Trinity). Here is the parallel between the passage of the Gospel and the saying of the Old Testament 'I saw the Lord.'

The Holy Trinity has always existed and will exist. They also existed in the Old Testament, but somewhat obscurely because the Word was without flesh, had no human nature, but was the 'Lord of Glory.' Thus, in Byzantine icons there is the title 'ὁ Ὤν' [He Who Is], which is the title of the 'angel of the Lord.' The God of the Old Testament is the God of Christianity, He is the same (during the Byzantine era, the inscription on the Cross was 'The King of Glory', today it is 'Ι.Ν.Β.Ι.' [Jesus of Nazareth King of the Jews]).

That is why the Apostle Paul, when he saw Christ in a vision on the road to Damascus, immediately recognized Him. He says 'Lord' and believes. Through a vision he saw the glory of God (theoria). He stood before Christ and understood that the God in whom he believed - the one of the Old Testament - became a man. He saw the Divinity standing before Christ face to face. He did not see the essence of God - Christ, but only His energy and he writes to us about the energy of Christ, saying that he is 'Wise' because he acts wisely (rather as light).

Paul understood that the God of the Old Testament, whom he worshiped, became a man and considered the Jews to be 'Semi-Christians' (Rom. 11:32-40); but the Jews did not understand the Old Testament and distorted the Jewish faith. Thus we (the Orthodox) are the New Zion, the New Israel, because we worship God Himself, the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Elijah, Paul, Athanasios, etc. 'The God of our Fathers'."

"God often appears to the Patriarchs and Prophets of the Old Testament and they say that they saw 'the angel of the Lord.' And yet the angel Himself informs them that 'I am Yahweh.' (The ass of Barlaam saw 'the angel of the Lord' and did not go forward. Also, the angel of the Lord appears to Moses in the burning bush). Now, who is this angel?

There is a radical difference between East and West regarding the 'angel of the Lord' in the Old Testament. Those in the West believe that this angel is created, and God speaks through this created angel... God, however, is present in the person of the angel, who says: 'I am Yahweh.' Thus, those who see the 'angel of the Lord' also see God. God uses the angel as an instrument of His Revelation.

The Easterners believe that this angel is the Word of God, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, is the 'Wisdom of God,' as described by the Wisdom of Solomon. Justin Martyr, like all the Fathers, gives this interpretation. The 'angel of the Lord,' in other words, is Christ Himself. The Apostle Paul (1 Cor. 10:4) tells us that the rock in the wilderness is Christ, that is, Yahweh (rock in the wilderness), the angel of the Lord, the rock of the salvation of the Jews, who is Christ, the angel of the Lord who is the Lord of glory 'whom the rulers of this world crucified.'"


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