Whose recipe is it anyway?

The sad state of American Christianity has as its basis, a constant attempt to conform to an ever changing society, and with each change, there is less and less of authentic, ancient Christianity to be seen. It could be compared to using an old family cake recipe, dropping one ingredient, or changing another, with each passing generation. In the end, is it really great great grandmother’s cake recipe, or is it something else?

Abbot Tryphon, "Doctrinal Teachings." The Morning Offering blog. Posted August 4, 2022. Retrieved from https://abbottryphon.com/doctrinal-teachings/

Evil exists like holes in Swiss cheese

Evil exists in the cosmos like holes in a Swiss cheese: the holes are there, but they are only as noncheese and have no existence apart from the cheese. As one cannot eat a cheese and discard the holes into a box, one cannot remove good and put evil into another category. Evil is merely the absence of good.
Jeffrey Burton Russell, The Devil: Perceptions of Evil from Antiquity to Primitive Christianity (Ithaca, N.Y: Cornell University Press, 1993), 205.

The miracle of human clay bearing divine fire

... Orthodoxy is expected to do something. It's not just a matter of having the right theology, or the right ecclesiastical institution (though I believe it does have those things). It's that there is an innate dynamism. This faith is expected to accomplish something—to enable a person to grow in union with God....

The Eastern Christian Way includes the elements we'd associate with any spiritual path—prayer, fasting, almsgiving, and so forth—and they fit together organically, like the parts of a diet-and-exercise program. Somebody who doesn't actually do the work and put it into practice won't see any benefit (another way it's like a diet-and-exercise program). But for those who do, transformation takes place. It happens in ways that are notable and recognizable, and even, in some cases, miraculous....

Wherever the faith is taken, this Way takes root and bears fruit....

The goal of this healing path is union with God. This is called theosis, which is usually translated "deification" or "divinization...." We can dismantle the Greek word and see that it is composed of theos, which means "God," and the suffix –osis, which indicates a process. As red dye saturates a white cloth by the process of osmosis, so humans can be saturated with God's presence by the process of theosis....

We can see this transformation in the Gospel story of Christ's Transfiguration. He took Peter, James, and John aside and led them up a high mountain. "And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his garments became as white as light.... A bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, 'This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased, listen to him.' When the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces, and were filled with awe. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, 'Rise and have no fear'" (Matt. 17:1–8).

This was not a change in Jesus; he had always been filled with glory. It was a change in the disciples' ability to perceive.... The Orthodox hymn for the Transfiguration says that Christ revealed his glory "as far as they [the disciples] could bear it...."

The light of the Transfiguration is not ordinary earthly light, but the light of God's glory, the light that was before the universe was made, called the "Uncreated Light" in Orthodoxy. God made us like himself ("image and likeness") so that we could take on this light as a lump of coal takes on fire. This is the destiny we were created for: participation in the light and glory of God. This expectation is the catalyst of Orthodox spirituality….

The miracle of human clay bearing divine fire is foreshadowed in the burning bush (Exod. 3:1–6). God's presence wholly irradiates a dry desert shrub, but does not destroy it. Miraculously, the bush remains intact, remains itself. God's presence doesn't obliterate or replace us, but helps us to become ourselves—each of us the real self he has always intended us to be....

Theosis is not something we achieve by trying really hard. We require a more radical kind of surgery; in fact, we must die. As we die to self and get out of the way, Christ's life can fill us. "You have died, and your life is hid with Christ in God" (Col. 3:3).

Frederica Mathewes-Green, Welcome to the Orthodox Church: An Introduction to Eastern Christianity (Brewster, Massachusetts: Paraclete Press, 2015), 67–71.

On humans comprising 1/3 of the divine council

The New Testament authors and the Fathers—most famously St. Athanasius—speak of our becoming sons of God. When St. John bears witness to the worship of heaven near the end of his life, in addition to the angelic hosts seen in similar previous apocalyptic visions, there are glorified human members of the divine council. These are represented by the twenty-four elders (Rev. 4:4, 10; 5:5–14; 7:11–13; 11:16; 14:3; 19:4). These elders are seated and wearing crowns, sharing in Christ’s rule over the creation (4:4)…. [T]he divine council is composed of seventy/seventy-two members. This means that human saints in glory constitute one-third of the divine council. This is the precise proportion of the heavenly host that had joined the devil in rebellion by the time of the birth of Christ, according to St. John (Rev. 12:4). Saint John is not saying that there are only twenty-four demons or twenty-four saints. Rather, he is using these numbers symbolically to indicate the replacement of the fallen members of the angelic host with the saints in glory.

Fr. Stephen De Young, The Religion of the Apostles: Orthodox Christianity in the First Century (Chesterton, Indiana: Ancient Faith Publishing, 2021), 129.

Grace and peace to you

Paul's first hint to us that he is addressing a transnational church comes in the greeting he offers in the beginning of all thirteen of his letters. "Grace and peace to you" is a remarkable combination of a Greek salutation charis (grace) and the ancient Hebrew blessing shalom (peace). Grace expresses the joyful fullness of the gospel and peace expresses the fullness of well-being that God desires for us. In this unique greeting, Paul addresses Gentile and Jewish believers together, as members of one church.

Notice that Paul does not write, "Charis to you Greeks and shalom to you Hebrews." Grace is not just for Gentiles and peace is not just for Jews. God desires the whole body of Christ to receive his grace and to experience his peace. Paul writes with respect for his readers' own ethnic and cultural backgrounds, yet he points to a new countercultural reality—a community in which the barriers between Jews and Gentiles is broken down and eliminated.

Writing to congregations that were often divided and torn by factional strife, Paul's greeting is a concrete reminder to believers that they are called to be a "new creation." While affirming the diversity of every part of the church, Paul transcends their differences to forge a new identity. The church is not a congregation created simply by linking Jews and Gentiles together but a united body of Christ, a transformed people made new in the risen Lord.

Stephen J. Binz, Panorama of the Bible: New Testament (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2016), 65.