The Sight of God in the Theology of Saint Symeon the New Theologian [2]

The first part.

Our greek font.


1. The Biblical  and Patristic Premises of the Human Deification and the Sight of God in Orthodox Theology

For to understand in a clear mode, without doubts, the theology of the sight of God at Saint Symeon the New Theologian, we believe that we must begin with a summary of the premises of human deification.

Because the sight of God appears in the divine-human process of deification as a direct and real result of it.

In the frame of continuous endeavors to cleanse us from passions, the sight of God is a gift of God, a descent of God to us for to raise the share His divine life.

The premises of deification and of the sight of God that we will discuss further are:

1. The person of divine Logos as Creator and Pantocrator of entire creation.

2. Rational and spiritual foundation of the visible world, which makes it „open to God”[1].

3. Uncreated divine energies, which arise from the being of God and are „works of being-doer and deifying”[2] human.


1. 1. The person of divine Logos and His relation with creation and with man

The first verse of Scripture testifies that „in the beginning God created [evpoi,hsen] the heavens and the earth” [Gen. 1, 1, acc. LXX], in consequence, that the world has a beginning, is not eternal, but its beginning stays in the will of God to make/ create the world unseen and seen.

Because God created the world, this can not be confused with Him, nor is a part of Him, but was made by God ouvk evx [from nothing], according to II Maccab.7, 28.

But the sintagma „from nothing” does not mean that nothing would be a particular substance from which God  would be forged the world but that before the whole existence be created by God it did not exist in fact.

Thus, the world being made ​​by God from nothing and in time[3], creation proves fundamentally dependent on God for that He is the cause of its existence and Who keeps it in existence.

The world is theonoma, dependent on God and not autonomous, independent of Him. In fact, „the world can not become autonomous, because it has no conscience and no freedom for to break its internal connection with God”[4].

We understand in what consist the internal connection of creation with God if we understand in correctly mode Gen. 1, 2.

The expression: „and the Ghost of God bring upon above water” [kai. Pneu/ma Qeou/ evpefe,reto evpa,nw tou/ u[datoj] is irrefutable testimony of the „presence of the Ghost of God in creation”[5].

For the orthodox exegesis, this presence of the Ghost of God in creation is translated through the fact, that the foundation world is an active one, is the light of God and the uncreated energies are the internal connection between God and His creation.

Creation of man by God after God’s image [kat’ eivko,na Qeou/, Gen. 1, 27] and the breath of life [pnoh.n zwh/j], breathe above his face by God shows man as the living soul [yuch.n zw/san] [Gen. 2, 7] in his relation with Him.

God created man as a living soul, namely He creates the man with a real possibility to open to his Creator, because people are, after the words of Father Professor Dumitru Stăniloae, „souls clad in bodies”[6].

But God „created man not only as reason, but that reason clothed with flesh[7], the human body being „a tangible, concrete, special rationality, in relation with the tangible rationality, the concrete of nature.

He represents the most complex system of plasticized rationality…[But, while] the body, that plasticized rationality, ceases once with death…the soul, whose presence gives tangible rationality of the matter the quality of body itself, is a subjective rationality, consciousness, beyond all rationality and the passive sensitivity of nature”[8].

Hence we deducted that man is one who personalizes the matter within himself, who understands the difference between himself and the creation, which does not understand its internal rationality. He assumes his condition of being with body, which lives in the world and, in the same time, he assumes the understanding of the world that no self-awareness and which consciousness is he himself.

Human relation with God involves the assuming of the life in body but also the assumption and the care to all creation.

But, through sin, says the Father Professor Dumitru Popescu, „the man failed to give expression to his vocation, received from part of the Creator, to transform heaven and earth into a Paradise, and to raise in himself the entire creation to immortality Creator, but he fell into corruption of world, knowing one the process of involution, which approached him of inferior beings. […]

Certainly, the fall of the ancestors did not destroy the image of God in man, because Adam continued to speak to God and after his fall into sin. But the image of God in man gradually altered, until the man has come to confuse the Creator with creation and to worship pantheisticlly the creature instead the Creator”[9].

The oldtestamentary Revelation speaks to us about God, the Lord God, the Lord or the Ghost of God[10]. But only once the Logos of God incarnates we learn that God is Trinity of persons.

In the epiphanies of Baptism [Mt. 3, 13-17, Mk. 1, 9-11, Lk. 3, 21-22] and of Transfiguration of the Lord [Mt. 17, 1-8, Mk. 9, 2-8, Lk. 9, 28-36], we see that the Father, Son and Holy Ghost are three persons of the Godhead and that They are our God.

Our God is Trinity from eternity, but only incarnated Son makes known the Trinity to the people, that God is Trinity of persons, because „there are Three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word and the Holy Ghost and these Three are one” [I Jn. 5, 7, acc. GOC].

If Gen. 1, 1 speaks to us about God that about the Creator of the world, then Jn. 1, 1-3 reveals to us the relation between Father and Son or between God and of His Logos in the frame of the creation of the world and man: „In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was towards God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning towards God. All through Him were made and nothing from that was made was not made without Him”, acc. GNT.

But if we put in conexion Jn. 1, 1-3 with the place of Gen. 1, 2, we observe that the Father makes all creation through the Son, but into the Ghost of God.

Therefore the Tradition of the Orthodox Church will talk about the Logos of God, about the Son, that about the Creator of the world and that about the Pantocrator of the all creation[11].

From point of lexical view, Pantokra,twr signifies the All-ruler or the Almighty[12]. But in the life and the orthodox theology He was understood as the equivalent of the greek word Pantocrator as the All-sustainer, designating by this thing, that the Logos „is One from Which come all, in Which are held all and in Which will show summaried and lighted all, the Pantocrator, the Sustainer of all”[13].

If the first significance was taken in heterodox theology and the Pantocrator was understood to remain „locked into an inaccessible transcendence”[14], the Pantocrator, in the orthodox tradition, as the All-sustainer, was seen as One who „fills with His presence both Church and universe”[15] in its entirety.

The connection of the Logos with His creation stays in the fact that „there is…a common sense inexhaustible of the things, a sense that links them, an indefinite sense of wealth to the man forward. Their unique and supreme sense is divine Logos.

In Him are all the senses. Only Him explains everything, only into Him he finds his own sense of human existence. Especially one who believes seizes this supreme sense by a general act of intuition, by his spirit”[16].

Creation, being the work of the Logos of God, full of His energy footprint, the glory and rationality planted by Him in things, to be understood we must resort to the Revelation and the personal relation with Him.

As long as the senses of things lead us to the creator Logos and our life finds its explanation only in Him, creation is a transparent medium for His understanding. If the things created send us, by their senses, to the Creator of the world, than creation is not and can not be a closed environment itself.

Saint Irenaeus of Lyon speaks, in the second christian century, about the creator Logos as identical with the savior Logos of the world: „For the Maker of all things, the Word of God, Who gave way from the beginning of man, when the work of His hands were loosened by malice, He gave healing in many ways. And He appointed a time to separate members, which He made and again another time when the whole man to restore fully, making it himself, by Himself, complete through His resurrection”[17].

Precisely because we are His creation, the Logos was incarnate and became man like us, except sin, so that we be restored into Himself and to perfect us through His resurrection, by which our nature was deified.

The same Father of the Church also stresses that we are created by the Logos of God because „He is the One which has founded all things, Who chose to make, He has graced all and takes all. And when I speak of all things, I mean ourselves and our world.[…]

Because not Angels made us, nor did they give us the form that we have, nor any heavenly Power made ​​us in God’s image, namely any Power [heavenly] very distant from the Father of all things.

No one else has made us, but only God’s Word. Because God does not need these beings, that they create things that He Himself has set in advance to be made.

This could happen if He would have His hands [ie the Son and the Ghost – our note]. But always with Him the Word and Wisdom, the Son and Ghost, by Whom and in Whom, freely and immediately He made all the things about that He said, saying: Let Us make man in Our image and likeness [Gen. 1, 26]. For He Himself has taken the matter of the created beings and the model of things that He made and the beauty of each thing in part of the world”[18].

In consensus with Scripture, we observe that Saint Irenaeus speaks of the creation of the world as about a work done by the Father through the Son into the Holy Ghost. Creation is witnessed as a direct work of God and not as a work through intermediation of the Powers of heaven, which are not uncreated beings but created by Him.

In the fourth century, Saint Athanasius the Great, in Kata. `Ellh,nwn [Against the Greeks], also spoke about the Creator of the world as God’s Logos: „And if the world was made through word and wisdom and knowledge, and all was adorned, it is necessary then that He who leads and adornes her not to be other than that Which is God’s Word”[19].

And to be perfectly understood by his readers, Saint Athanasius comes and makes clarifications about who is the Word of God: „I speak about the Word in Himself [Auvtolo,gon], living and active of God, the One who is good and God. This is different than those created and than all creation. For He is of His and He is the only Word of the good Father, Which adorned and lights all through His wearing of care [pronoi,a|].

Being the good Word of the good Father, He adorned all with the ordeliness [th.n dia,taxin], uniting those who are against one another [opposite] and thereby [has worked] a unique jewel of harmony”[20].

In the same apologetic work, Saint Athanasius the Great continues to speak to us about the Pantocrator of all creation, about the divine Logos, saying the following remarkable things:

„For the Same Word almighty and all-perfect saint of the Father, dwelt Himself and expanding His powers in all and everywhere and enlightening all shown and all the unseen, to keep in Himself and collects them, leaving nothing blank of His power, but [He is] through all and in all and in each one, giving life to all and guarding them individually[21]. […]

[Because] the Wisdom of God, carrying the whole [universe] as a lyre, and together the air with those on earth and in heaven with the air and thus uniting all parties and leading them all with the command and His will, constitutes one universe and the one ordeliness beautiful and harmonious of it, He being unmoved by the power of the Father, but moving them all the Self-created, because each of them are His own, by the will of the Father”[22].

From the words of Saint Athanasius is observed that the divine Logos, the One who created all things and existent beings doesn’t give them self-existing, autonomous existence, but enlightens them and supports them all by His grace, uniting all to Himself and bringing them all at unity with Himself.

His presence in the world by His grace draws the world to Himself, as One who surpasses all and He is above all by His being, together with the Father and the Holy Ghost.

Saint Maximus the Confessor will talk about divine Logos in terms of Church Tradition, seeing in Himself the supreme Reason of all existence.

In Quaestiones ad Thalassium [Answers to Thalassius], Saint Maximus sees the fulfillment of all existence in the divine Logos, as One who has within Himself all the senses/ reasons of the world.

He says: Christ „showed into Himself the end, one for receiving the created distinct beginning of their existence. Because for Christ or, better said, for the mystery of Christ [Cristo.n musth,rion] received existence all ages and all that happens within centuries, for He is their beginning and end”[23].

As creator and savior Logos of the world, Christ God is Who gives stability into Himself fully to the growing in Him through virtues.

This thing tells us Saint Maximus in the same chapter cited above, when talking about the role of revealing humanity of the mystery of Christ:

„This, for all those that are moving by nature to stand because nature of Him sits unmoved, by moving them to himself and one to the other. And so [each] to the knowledge of experience from working through Him in Whom was worthy to stay in unchangeable mode”[24].

In the expression of Father Professor Dumitru Popescu, Saint Maximus the Confessor showed that „this rational order of creation is based on the divine ideas of all things visible and invisible, which arise from Logos and return to Him as a unifying center of their own.

Unity of creation is based on the existence of a single Creator, the Father through His Logos, Who is All-sustainer or Pantocrator. This is the principal motive for that on the highest vault of each orthodox dwelling guards icon of Christ, the Pantocrator of entire universe”[25].

In conclusion, the existence of person of the creative and saving Logos of the world is the first premise of the deification of man and of the sight of God, for that He who created man, He embodies and divinizes His own humanity taken from the Ever-Virgin Mary.

He showed into Himself that the matter permits to be crossed by the glory of God, that there is not an opposition between the sensible and intelligible in Christ[26], but in Him we see „glory as of the Only-Begotten from the Father” [Jn. 1, 14, acc. GNT].

[1] Rev. Prof. D.Th. Dumitru Popescu, Christ, Church, Society [Hristos, Biserică, Societate], Ed. IBMBOR, Bucharest, 1998, p. 124.

[2] Rev. Prof. D.Th. Dumitru Stăniloae, Orthodox Dogmatic Theology [Teologia Dogmatică Ortodoxă], ed. II, vol. 1, Ed. IBMBOR, Bucharest, 1996, p. 113.

[3] Rev. Prof. D.Th. Dumitru Stăniloae, Orthodox Dogmatic Theology [Teologia Dogmatică Ortodoxă], ed. II, vol. 1, ed. cit., p. 226.

[4] Rev. Prof. D.Th.  Dumitru Popescu, The Man Without Roots [Omul fără rădăcini], coll. Alpha and Omega [Alfa şi Omega], Ed. Nemira, Bucharest, 2001, p. 59.

[5] Ibidem.

[6] Dumitru Stăniloae, Jesus Christ: light of the world and the deificator of human [Iisus Hristos: lumina lumii şi îndumnezeitorul omului], tended ed. by Monica Dumitrescu, Ed. Anastasia, Bucharest, 1993, p. 5.

[7] Idem, p. 7.

[8] Rev. Prof. D.Th.Dumitru Stăniloae, Orthodox Dogmatic Theology [Teologia Dogmatică Ortodoxă], ed. II, vol. 1, ed. cit., p. 258.

[9] Rev. Prof. D.Th. Dumitru Popescu, The Man Without Roots [Omul fără rădăcini], op. cit., p. 69-70.

[10] Acc. LXX, name of God occurs 1795 times in 1583 verses, the sintagma God Lord appears 566 times in 534 verses, the word Lord 3663 times in 3298 verses and of the sintagma the Ghost of God 15 times in 15 distinct verses.

[11] The name Pantocrator in the LXX, given Lord God, appears 126 times in 121 verses.

[12] Acc. *** A Patristic Greek Lexicon, Edited By G. W. H. Lampe, Ed. Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1961, p. 1005.

[13] Rev. Prof. D.Th. Dumitru Popescu, Jesus Christ Pantocrator [Iisus Hristos Pantocrator], Ed. IBMBOR, Bucharest, 2005, p. 193-194.

[14] Dumitru Popescu, Orthodoxy and Contemporaneousness [Ortodoxie şi contemporaneitate], Ed. Diogene, Bucharest, 1996, p. 196.

[15] Ibidem.

[16] Rev. Prof. D.Th. Dumitru Stăniloae, Orthodox Dogmatic Theology [Teologia Dogmatică Ortodoxă], ed. a II-a, vol. 1, ed. cit., p. 239.

[17] Irenaeus, Against Heresies V, 12, 6, in coll. The Ante-Nicene Fathers. The Writings of the Fathers down to A.D. 325, Edited by Rev. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, Volume 1, Oregon, 1996, p. 1114.

[18] Idem, IV, 20, 1, p. 1006-1007.

[19] Athanasius Theologus, Kata.  `Ellh,nwn, 40, acc. TLG # 001 40. 19 – 001 40. 23/ Saint Athanasius the Great, Word Against Greeks [Cuvânt împotriva elinilor], in coll. PSB [Fathers and Church Writers], vol. 15, with greek translation, introduction and notes by Rev. D.Th. Dumitru Stăniloae, Ed. IBMBOR, Bucharest, 1987, p. 75-76.

[20] Idem, acc. TLG [Thesaurus Linguae Graecae] # 001 40. 29 – # 001 40. 38/ Idem, p. 76-77.

[21] Idem, acc. TLG # 001 42. 1 – # 001 42. 7/ Idem, p. 79.

[22] Idem, acc. TLG # 001 42. 26 – # 001 42. 34/ Ibidem.

[23] Maximus Confessor Theologus, Quaestiones ad Thalassium, 60, acc. TLG # 001 60. 46 – # 001 60. 51/ Saint Maximus the Confessor, About Various Heavy Places from Divine Scripture or Answers to Thalassius [Despre diverse locuri grele din Dumnezeiasca Scriptură sau Răspunsuri către Talasie], 60, în coll. FR [Romanian Philokalia], vol. 3, second edition, with translation, introduction and notes by de Rev. Prof. Acad. D.Th. Dumitru Stăniloae, Ed. Harisma [Charisma], Bucharest, 1994, p. 332.

[24] Idem, acc. TLG # 001 60. 56 – # 001 60. 60/ Ibidem.

[25] Rev. Prof. D.Th. Dumitru Popescu, Jesus Christ Pantocrator [Iisus Hristos Pantocrator], op. cit, p. 12-13.

[26] Idem, p. 13.

The Sight of God in the Theology of Saint Symeon the New Theologian [1]

Rev. D.Th. Dorin Octavian Picioruş

The Sight of God
in the Theology of
Saint Symeon the New


Theology for Today


Rev. D.Th. Dorin Octavian Picioruş

The Sight of God
in the Theology of Saint Symeon
the New Theologian


(Doctoral Thesis)


Theology for Today


Our greek font.



The present thesis is an anttempt to synthetic presentation, in same time, of the steadfast and the dynamic character of the experience and the orthodox thinking.

Any pnevmatical reality and theological theme must be rethoughted, updated in dimension of the present, for to be an active factor of dynamism in our personal and community life.

But the theological updation does not require also the dilution of the Church’s teaching, but its perception of the real parameters of the orthodox experience.

Because pnevmatical experience is the foundation of the theological elaborations and it is that keeps us in the Church, as people of alive and lucid faith, with attention to the changes of our world.

Our thesis being developed insed of the discipline Orthodox Dogmatic Theology, in the Systematics department, our theme will be discussed in this regime of  research.

The theme of the sight of God will be presented as part of personal soteriology, intending to put in evidence, in a systematic and concise mode, Saint Symeon the New Theologian contribution to this question.

We consider that experience and theology developed who is known as the third theologian of the Church are a norm and a true guide in our research.

The choised theme came from a deep inner need, from the desire to deepen the coordinates the symeonian theology, which, unfortunately, are to little discussed at academic level.

The knowledge of the experience and theology of Saint Symeon seems to us a huge benefit for our theologians and belivers, as long as we confront, directly, with the consequences of depersonalized secularization and globalization.

As a protective shield to the erosion of membership ecclesial consciousness and understanding person and interpersonal relations, Saint Symeon proposes us a theology of experience, in which God descends to man, showing him His glory, for the man to raise by Him at the level of Trinity, to open him the trinitarian communion.

And this, because Symeon sees man as having its center of gravity in God and not in himself.

The closure of the human in self, in a subjective perspective can not present a mystical experience, a personal experience with God, but for Symeon the true relantion with God means the communion of man with God, in and through His glory, as the ecstatic sight.

Subscribing in the personalist lode to the Church Orthodox Fathers, Saint Symeon the New Theologian takes together the interpersonal and objective character of our relation with God.

Therefore, for him the orthodox believer experiments the uncreated and eternal grace of God not to close itself and not to break the Church community.

The sight of God is not an escape from time and we can not force our being it to occur but is lifting us by God, through His glory, to fill us with brightness of His glory, and for that this thing would make us become fervent belivers in the frame life of the Church.

The fundamental consequence of God’s vision is a life full of dynamism and dedication to serve the Church, a continuous search for us to have a holy life, namely so many positive attributes for the life of the Church and society in which we exist.

Therefore, choosing this theme we consider everyone’s gain, an ecclesial gain, because symeonian theology is a continuous recourse to experience, equilibrium and fidelity to Church Tradition.

Our work will consist in three distinct chapters but with internal links between them.

The first chapter will threat the problem of the biblical and patristic premises of man’s deification and of the sight of God in orthodox theology.

We will seek to show that the seen world are a rational and spiritual foundation, because is personal creation of the divine Logos by Whom all things are made [pa,nta di’ Auvtou/ evge,neto, John: 1, 3 acc. GNT].

Rational and spiritual foundation of the world must be seen in relation to the existence of God’s uncreated energies, which penetrate and support all existences, both the visible and invisible.

Because man can share the grace in the Church and God’s grace penetrate in real mode of the human being we can speak, in the same time, about the sight of God and the deification, both with internal link between them.

The second chapter will threat the theme of God’s sight to Saint Symeon the New Theologian and its implications in personal salvation, this chapter will be the essential chapter of the thesis.

In this chapter, after an introduction to the ecstatic terminology of Saint Symeon, we present the connections of the experience of God’s sight with triadology, christology, pneumatology, ecclesiology, sanctology and eschatology.

Step by step we will show how advised and as organic include Symeon in the Church’s teaching and experience, because his own experience affirms and not refutes the Father’s theology.

As a servant of the Divine Liturgy and of the Mysteries of the Church, as abbot of the monastery, as a writer and theologian, as a confessor of the orthodox faith and as a man unjustly persecuted for the depth of his theology and of his love for Church Tradition and for Saints of God, Saint Symeon proves, by deeds and words, that he fulfills his own theology. Therefore he remained as an authentic landmark of life, experience and theology for our Church.

The third chapter will have the teme of reception the theology of glory in orthodox space and of its importance assumed in the postmodern world.

Here we will discuss the theology of the sight of God to the Father Professor Dumitru Stăniloae, our beloved and venerable theologian, considered, on rightly word, the great theologian of the twentieth century, together with the theology of glory to Professor Vladimir Lossky, which was very warmly apreciated in the West for his patristic updates in the domain of the mystical theology.

Last sequence of our work will focus on the human condition in postmodernity and will be a brief discussion on how you can save an orthodox beliver, of various ideological traps, through experience and theology of the Church.

We give thanks to Father Professor Dumitru Popescu, our coordinator, for his special attention that he has given us and for the real support and the vision of the ensemble that he gave us.

Together with his Holiness and his effective support, decisive in systematization of the theological informations, we could develop this thesis, which we hope will be helpful to those who will consult it.