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Religion Library: Eastern Orthodoxy

Principles of Moral Thought and Action

Written by: Beth Davies-Stofka

Sincere dedication to following the commandments and living life within the church bears with it the promise of redemption fulfilled in the resurrection of a radiant body and soul. But Christians may look forward to even more than this. The Bible speaks of a new heaven and a new earth (Revelation 21:1) and of the hope that the creation itself will be redeemed (Romans 8:22). In these scriptures, Eastern Orthodoxy sees the promise of a cosmic redemption, in which all of material creation is transfigured.

This belief in the redemption as deification rests in the Orthodox interpretation of the doctrine of the Incarnation. By choosing to become human, God became flesh and blood, thereby sanctifying material as well as immaterial creation. Because of this, all of material creation can look forward to its ultimate redemption, in which pain, death, and suffering will cease, along with hostility and enmity, and all of creation will be transfigured. The first fruits of this promise can already be seen as fulfilled in the divine power that works through the holy relics, in the divine presence in the icons, and in the radiant transfigured faces of the hesychasts.

Study Questions:
1.     What is the doctrine of theosis? Why is it the goal of Eastern Orthodoxy’s moral thought and action?
2.     Describe the process of deification. Where and when does it happen, and to whom?
3.     Why is Jesus important to the Eastern Orthodoxy’s understanding of redemption?


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