Revista Studii Teologice


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Botezul, credinţa şi poruncile – elemente ale progresului spiritual în gândirea Sfântului Vasile cel Mare

Baptism, Faith and Commandments – Elements of Spiritual Progress according to St. Basil the Great

Autor(i): Raul TĂNASE

St. Basil the Great’s theology provides living testimony to the personal appro-priation, in full awareness and responsibility, both practical and theoretical, of the evangelical message. His activity was essentially centered on defending and preaching the Orthodox faith, interpreting the Holy Scripture, organizing the monastic life, as well as the liturgical and charity activity of the Church. Even though his literary and spiritual legacy have been the object of extensive research, both in Romania and abroad, the teachings of the Cappadocian father are still being studied, still alive, relevant, inexhaustible.
His teaching about the three coordinates of spiritual life – Baptism, faith, ob-servance of commandments – is grounded in the Holy Scripture and naturally stems from the thought of the Holy Fathers preceding the archbishop of Caesarea in Cap-padocia. Although the essential elements of this doctrine had been anticipated by previous Holy Fathers, St. Basil put forth new, personal ideas, which demonstrate the speculative skills and the genius of the great Cappadocian thinker. St. Basil the Great asserted that fallen man could not, by himself, restore communion with God and that this restoration was the purpose of the Son’s Incarnation. A complementary goal was man’s deification. Christ deified, within Himself, our human nature weakened by sin, and our own efforts must pursue the same direction: deification. Union with God becomes possible through the Holy Mysteries, whose role is to restore the original nature of the human person. The Mystery of Baptism, the gateway allowing access into the Church, symbolizing Christ’s death and resurrection, effects the shedding of the „skin garments”, the sign of lewdness, of sinful sensuality. With this mystery starts the process by which man achieves likeness to God, culminating in the supreme union with Him in the Mystery of the Holy Eucharist. Faith is another prerequisite for salvation, and defines the affirmative answer to the Creator’s calling. Its most authentic expression is doxology, by which we praise and glorify the Creator for all His gifts. Faith is perfected through Baptism, while the Baptism is grounded in faith. The third condition for salvation is living in accordance with the Lord’s command-ments. Observance is twofold: it has a negative aspect, namely avoiding whatever hinders communion with the Creator, and a positive one, that is doing God’s will, expressed in His commandments. All commandments are normative for spiritual life and by observing them, we become receptive to the work of divine grace. They may be summed up in the love for God and our neighbour; renouncing our own will as self-sacrifice in order to follow Christ is an important token of this love. The deeds prompted by love and faith shape us according to the Model and enable us to become deified.
These coordinates of St. Basil the Great’s theological thought allowed him to put forth a doctrinal conception of the divine Logos that deifies man, through the sacramental work of the Church – a fundamental tenet for the Orthodox East. Or-thodox theology is fulfilled only in the personal, living experience of the dogmas, and not merely in a speculative statement of the faith. According to the bishop of Caesa-rea in Cappadocia, the restoration of man lies in his regaining the edenic state, fol-lowed by the process of deification, which „has no end”.

Pagini: 213-230