Friday, May 16, 2014

Who is a theologian?

Studying theology I have obtained the title of ‘theologian’. However, every time I hear this honorary title I feel bad and in many ways unworthy of it. This feeling is based on the practice of the Church, which has given this title to only three saints, namely Apostle and Evangelist John, Gregory the Theologian and Saint Symeon the New Theologian. Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew explains that, “this sparing use of the title ‘theologian’ reveals the sacred awe with which the Church approaches matters relating to God”[1]. St. Neilos claims that a theologian is someone who prays. Theologians are those people who “experience the purifying, especially the illuminating and deifying energy of God”[2]. Evagrius claims that “a theologian is one who knows how to pray, and he who prays in spirit and in truth is by that very act a theologian”[3].

Therefore, how can every new graduate of theology hold the sacred title of theologian? My answer is to state that ‘I have studied theology’. Maybe this is wrong…maybe this is right… Nevertheless, I cannot put myself in the same category as the three above saints, who have truly shown the richness and beauty of Christianity and theology to all who read them and to all who follow there teachings.

[1] Bartholomew, His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch, Encountering the Mystery – Understanding Orthodox Christianity Today, (New York, Doubleday, 2008), p.42
[2] Hierotheos, Metropolitan of Nafpakto, The mind of the Orthodox Church, (Levadia, Birth of the Theotokos Monastery, 1998), p. 153
[3] On Prayer, 60 (P.G. lxxix, 1180B).

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