Who is a theologian?

“There is no theology apart from experience” (Lossky, V. 1976. The mystical theology of the Eastern Church).

“Pure theology is not a natural gift, but a gift of divine grace” (Gregory Palamas).

“To know the mystery of the Trinity in its fullness is to enter into perfect union with God and to attain to the deification of the human creature: in other words, to enter into the divine life, the very life of the Holy Trinity, and to become, in St. Peter’s words, ‘partakers of the divine nature'” (Lossky, V. 1976. The mystical theology of the Eastern Church).

“If you have not discerned that the eye of your mind has been opened,
And that it has seen the light;
If you have not perceived the sweetness of the Godhead;
If you have not been personally enlightened by the Holy Spirit . . .
If you have not sensed that your heart has been cleansed
And has shone with luminous reflections;
If, contrary to all expectation, you have not discovered the Christ within yourself;
If you have not been stupefied, at your vision of the divine beauty;
And have not become oblivious of human nature
When you saw yourself so totally transfigured . . .
Then tell me—how is it that you dare to make any statement at all about God?”

(Reference: Symeon the New Theologian, Hymn 21).

A theologian “is someone who speaks of God. However, to speak of God without error, he must obtain knowledge of God. Knowledge of God is communion, union with God; it is theoria (vision) of God . . . A theologian is primarily someone who can make the distinction between uncreated and created energies . . . Spiritual guidance is mainly the ability to make this distinction . . . Anyone who undertakes the inner struggle will have to fight against his thoughts (logismoi) and passions. How can he know whether a thought comes from God or from the devil? The spiritual father, who has the gift of discernment of spirits, can make this distinction between thoughts and between energies . . . If someone is not a theologian, he cannot be a spiritual father, and if he is not a spiritual father, he cannot be called a theologian” (Met. Hierotheos. 2010. The illness and cure of the soul, pp. 127-128). Thus, a “theologian is someone who knows God by personal experience” (p. 154).

“A theologian is someone in whom the deifying energy of the Triune God dwells” (Met. Hierotheos. 2010. The science of spiritual medicine, p. 173).

“The one who prays is a theologian; the one who is a theologian, prays” (Evagrius Ponticus, Treatise on prayer, 60).

“The real progress of theology and its consequent justification as a living theology . . . are linked to three conditions: fidelity to the revelation of Christ given in Holy Scripture and tradition, and lived uninterruptedly in the life of the Church; responsibility for the faithful who are contemporary with the theology as it is being done; openness to the eschatological future . . . the obligation to guide the faithful towards their true perfection in that future” (Staniloae, D. 1994. The experience of God: Revelation and knowledge of the Triune God, Vol. 1,p. 88).

“All truly dogmatic work has a basis in mystical experience . . . all mystical work is connected to the realm of dogma, in that it expresses and exposes the content of the experience of divine things . . . Mysticism is considered to be theology par excellence” (Lossky, V. 1974. In the image and likeness of God, p. 50).

Many “theologians with degrees from theological colleges, are well-informed about God, but few possess knowledge of God” (Met. Hierotheos. 2010. The science of spiritual medicine, p. 278).

“When someone becomes a theologian, not in the academic sense but in the . . . sense of someone who beholds the glory of God, he always becomes a spiritual father to others, because he brings people to new birth” (Met. Hierotheos. 2010. The science of spiritual medicine, p. 304). “Knowledge of God is passed on to the people by those who are deified, those who see God . . . Theologians who have been called to climb Mount Sinai and Mount Tabor and have seen God’s glory, are actually healers in the fullest sense. They know exactly what illness and good health are and how to lead people towards theoria of God. It is inconceivable that someone could be theologian without being a spiritual father, or a spiritual father without being a theologian” (p. 305).

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