Monday, August 11, 2014

Freedom according to the Orthodox Church

Who is free today? How do we define freedom? Does my freedom end where someone else’s begins? Should there be freedom? Are we free? These are some of the questions posed by many…not today, but since the beginning of man’s history. How do we understand freedom within Orthodoxy?

‘To be “called to freedom” (Gal. 5:13) is, for St. Paul, the greatest privilege of Christians. It implies, however, that one is “led by the Spirit” (Gal. 5:18). The idea that the Spirit and freedom do not contradict, but presuppose each other, is connected with the notion of “participation” in God’s life…This connection is especially evident in Greek patristic literature…
…Freedom is, for Gregory of Nyssa and Maximus the Confessor, the essential element of man’s likeness to God. Freedom, i.e. “to be undetermined,” is the most basic of divine attributes; but man possesses it by “participation.” However, his revolt against God deprived him of freedom, made him a slave to the “flesh,” i.e. to the determinism of created existence. Man became a part of this world, subject to cosmic laws and especially to corruption, death and sin.’[1]

[1] Meyendorff, John, Living Tradition, (Crestwood, St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1978), pp. 39-40.


  1. Yes ths is just how it feels to me - the theology matches experience (at least, mine!)

  2. although it is the hardest thing for us to accept - that true freedom lies in complete surrender