Category Archives: Eastern Orthodox

How Is Apologetics Bringing Christians Together?

Post Author: Bill Pratt

One of the largest blemishes on Christianity is the number of different denominations. Just among Protestants, there are dozens of major denominations and hundreds of smaller denominations around the world. And, of course, there are Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches as well. What does apologetics (defense of the Christian faith) have to do with denominations?

As a defender of Christianity, the very first thing you have to answer for yourself is this: what Christianity am I defending? It’s pretty difficult to defend something that you can’t describe.

I attend a Southern Baptist church, but when I started studying apologetics 10 years ago, I quickly came to realize that to defend the Southern Baptist denomination was not what I was called to do.

What I needed to defend was orthodox Christianity – the traditional, historical faith that was established during the first 500 years of the church, and codified in the ecumenical councils held during that time period. This is the Christianity that every major Christian group points back to in one way or another. As my seminary professor Norman Geisler once wrote, “Unity among all major sections of Christendom is found in the statement: One Bible, two testaments, three confessions, four councils, and five centuries.”

This is exactly the approach C. S. Lewis took in all of his apologetic writings. He always wrote about what he called “Mere Christianity.” Lewis had no interest in diving into the in-house debates among Roman Catholics, Lutherans, and Presbyterians. His was a calling to defend the common doctrines that all of these groups held sacred.

As I’ve studied apologetics, I’ve read numerous non-Baptist scholars, including quite a few Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox thinkers. Every one of these men and woman do their utmost to enunciate mere Christianity to the non-Christian world. I guarantee that if I hadn’t been studying apologetics, I would not have been exposed to such a wide range of Christians outside my denomination.

If you’ve ever been to an apologetics conference, you’ve probably noticed the way that Christians from every denomination mingle and network without thinking twice. We don’t wear name tags that label our denominations. It never comes up, honestly.

I believe that Christian apologetics can be a powerful force that unifies all Christians around the essentials of our faith. When we truly focus on what is central, on what is at the heart of our faith, we find that many of our differences seem less important.

Are we ready to drop all of our differences and unite as one visible church? No. There are real and substantial disagreements to be worked out. But the apologists are at the forefront, whether we know it or not, of a global movement to unify around mere Christianity. I am really excited about that and I hope you are, too.

Were the Doctrines of the Trinity and the Dual Nature of Christ invented in the 4th and 5th Centuries?

Post Author: Darrell

(This post originally appeared on Darrell’s Thoughts and Reflections and is being reposted here for the benefit of TQA readers.)

One of the charges I often hear leveled against Christianity today is that both the Doctrines of the Trinity and the Dual Nature of Christ were “invented” by the Church in the fourth and fifth centuries, during the Ecumenical Councils.  Proponents of these charges claim that the Church prior to the Ecumenical Councils believed neither in the Trinity, nor in the Dual Nature of Christ.  I freely admit that the language by which the Church codified these doctrines was fortified in the Ecumenical Councils.  However, I believe those who charge that the Church invented the doctrines themselves in the Councils and that the Church prior to the Councils did not hold to them are gravely mistaken.

One of the earliest Church Fathers to articulate a basic understanding of the Trinity and the Dual Nature of Christ is Saint Ignatius.  Saint Ignatius was the third Bishop of Antioch, serving from 70 AD to 107 AD.  He was a disciple of the Apostle John, and Church Tradition teaches that he was the child Christ held in His arms when He said, in Matthew 18:3, “. . . unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the Kingdom of Heaven.”  Shortly after the turn of the second century, Saint Ignatius wrote several Epistles while in captivity on the road traveling to his martyrdom.  Seven of these epistles have survived to our day.  In the seventh chapter of his Epistle to the Ephesians, he says:

But our Physician is the only true God, the Father and Begetter of the only-begotten Son.  We have also as a Physician the Lord our God, Jesus the Christ, the only-begotten Son and Word, before time began, but who afterwards became also man, of Mary the virgin. For “the Word was made flesh.”  Being incorporeal, He was in a body; being impassible, He was in a passible body; being immortal, He was in a mortal body; being life, He became subject to corruption, that He might free our souls from death and corruption, and heal them, and might restore them to health, when they were diseased with ungodliness and wicked lusts.

There are several aspects of this passage which demonstrate that Saint Ignatius held beliefs consistent with the Doctrines of the Trinity and the Dual Nature of Christ.  First, he refers to two separate Persons, God the Father and Jesus Christ, yet he calls both of them God.  This is completely consistent with Nicene Theology, which teaches that both the Father and the Son are God by nature/essence.  The Nicene Creed calls Christ “true God of true God”, saying He is “of one essence with the Father” as God.  Had Ignatius been an Arian or had he held to a non-Trinitarian Doctrine that teaches Christ to be something less than or other than God, He would not have referred to Him as God.

Second, Ignatius refers to Jesus Christ as begotten “before time began”.  This is almost word for word identical to the Nicene Creed, which says, “I believe in. . . one Lord, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the only-begotten, begotten of the Father before all ages. . .”  Some today claim that the Early Church believed Christ’s being ”begotten” of the Father was in relation to His birth from Mary (specifically, this is an LDS claim).  However, Ignatius’ comment here demonstrates that the Early Church’s understanding of Christ’s nature as “only-begotten” was a relationship with the Father that was “before time began” and has nothing to do with His earthly incarnation.  It is interesting to note that the Greek word translated as “only-begotten” both here and in the New Testament is ”monogenes”.  Monogenes literally means “one of a kind,” and to the Church Fathers it connoted Christ being of the same nature as the Father. . . something that was entirely unique to Him.

In addition to calling Christ God and claiming Him to be the “only-begotten” of the Father “before time began”, Ignatius tells us that “afterwards” Christ “became man”.  Ignatius then goes on to point out some aspects that Christ’s becoming man added to His nature.  He says that although Christ was incorporeal, He was in a body; although He was impassible, He was in a passible body; although He was immortal, He was in a mortal body;  although He was life, He became subject to corruption.  These differing aspects of Christ’s nature, aspects that are polar opposites to one another, speak to Christ having two natures, one as God and one as man, and demonstrate that Saint Ignatius understood Christ in this manner.  As God, Christ was incorporeal, impassible, immortal, and life itself.   However, as man He was corporeal, passible, mortal, and subject to corruption.

Last, Ignatius explains that Christ took on our nature in order to free our souls from death and corruption, heal us, and restore us to health.  This speaks to the true reason for the Doctrines of the Trinity and Dual Nature of Christ.  Rather than being doctrines for doctrine’s sake, created as purely intellectual pieces of information to be discussed by dry theologians over coffee and tea, they are doctrines directly tied to our understanding of how Christ redeemed us.  He was the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, true God of true God.  Yet He chose to take upon Himself our nature, becoming man for our sakes, so that He could unite our nature to the Divine Nature in His Person, giving us a rebirth in Him.  Had He not been God and had He not taken on our nature, He would have been unable to redeem us.  The Church understood this from the earliest times, and as the writings of Saint Ignatius show us, it is not an understanding created in the fourth and fifth centuries.  It is Apostolic Doctrine that has been handed down to us and is a product of the Holy Spirit guiding the Church.

The Sacrament of The Women’s Only 5K Walk and Run?

Post Author:  Darrell

Recently, my wife and several of her friends participated in The Women’s Only 5K Walk and Run to support the fight against Breast Cancer.  It was a wonderful event with over 3000 participants, and my wife posted a very impressive time, finishing in the top 8%.  As many of you know, she is a Breast Cancer Survivor, so anything that benefits the fight against this horrible disease is near and dear to our hearts.

During the post run festivities the conversations of many of the participants got me to thinking about, of all things, the teachings of the Eastern Orthodox Church regarding the sacramental nature of creation and life.  I know some reading this are probably thinking to themselves, “What? How do you make that connection?”, but bear with me for a second.  As you may suspect, many of the racers were talking about how wonderful it was to join in the fight against breast cancer.  Some likened their struggle to finish the race as quickly as possible (or even at all) to the struggle of those going through chemotherapy, radiation, surgery, etc.  While the run does raise money for breast cancer research, it was evident from those around me that their participation was about much more than raising money.  If it was only about the money, they easily could have sent their checks and left it at that.  However, they chose to run in the race.  They chose to take action and become physically involved, because what they truly wanted was to participate in the struggle.  Essentially, they felt that by participating in the race they were in some way joining alongside those fighting against cancer.  The act of running and pushing themselves and their emotional resolve and physical exertion was their way of fighting against the disease.

In many respects, this idea of participation is in line with the Orthodox approach to life as sacramental. In Orthodoxy, Sacraments, which are more properly called Mysteries from the Greek word Mysterion, are a special means of participating in the Divine Grace and Life of God.  While the Church recognizes seven Holy Mysteries – Baptism, Chrismation, Eucharist, Confession, Holy Unction, Marriage, and Ordination – she by no means limits the Mysteries to only seven.  Instead, the Orthodox Church considers all of life to be sacramental.  When God created the world, He called it good, and He gave it to us as a means and vehicle of communing with Him and with one another.  After the fall, man began to view the world as an end in itself or as a means to achieving something other than communion with God.  After all, seeing food as a means to a selfish end (Genesis 3:7) was at the heart of the fall.  However, in the Incarnation, God Himself, in the Second Person of the Trinity, took on material creation, becoming man, and sanctified it.  Creation can once again be used as a vehicle and means of communing with God, and, as a result, with each other.  When we go out to dinner with a friend, the food and drinks that we share can be sacramental.  Through the act of eating and drinking we can commune with one another, and, if viewed properly, with God.  When we play a game of golf or cards with friends, the game itself can be sacramental.  Through it we can grow closer to one another, participate in one another’s life, and, again, if viewed properly, with God.

The Sacramental Approach to life and creation can transform ones view of creation.  Rather than holding a fragmented view of the world, creation and matter can be understood more holistically, as the gift they truly are.  Food is no longer something used merely to fill our stomachs or give us pleasure.  Instead, it is a means of bringing people together in communion with their Creator.  A game of cards or golf is no longer simply a time of pleasure.  It is a time of union with ones fellow-man and communion with the Holy Trinity.  Likewise, a run with friends to raise money for the fight against Breast Cancer can be an act of true participation in the struggle of others, and, in many ways, as participation in the Life of God as we help those around us fight a horrible disease.

Was Mary the Mother of God?

I recently had a conversation with a Christian on Facebook regarding some of the passages in the Bible that refer to Mary.  During the conversation, I referred to Mary as The Mother of God (Theotokos).  This brought a rather stern reaction from him.  He stated, “Mary isn’t the Mother of God.  God is not born or created.  That’s heresy. Mary is the mother of Jesus’ flesh of his human body, not of His Divinity, which already existed before Mary was born.”  While I can understand his concerns, I wonder if this gentleman realizes that his position was thoroughly discussed, analyzed, and subsequently rejected by the Church roughly 1600 years ago.

During the first 500 years of Christianity, the Church dealt with the rise of several Christological heresies that necessitated the formulation of a clear theological expression of Christ’s Person and Nature.  In the early fifth century, one of these heresies questioned how Christ’s two natures, that of God and Man, related to one another. Following the teachings of Theodore of Mopsuestia, Nestorius, Patriarch of Constantinople, taught that Christ’s nature as God was utterly separate from His nature as man.  In this understanding, Christ’s early life was that of a human being in contact with God.  God foresaw that Christ would lead a virtuous life and chose Him to be a vessel of divinity.  At Christ’s birth, his contact with divinity was incomplete, becoming so later in His life.  Nestorius preferred the term Christotokos (Mother of Christ) to that already accepted as part of Holy Tradition, Theotokos (Mother of God), for He believed that Mary’s baby was not fully divine.

This teaching, which came to be known as Nestorianism, led to the calling of the Third Ecumenical Council in 431 AD.  In this Council, the Fathers of the Church upheld the teaching that in Christ the dual natures of divinity and humanity do not merely come in contact with one another, but that they are, rather, in union.  At the Incarnation, the Second Person of the Trinity, Christ, took on human nature, adding it to His Person, while at the same time retaining the fullness of His Divinity.  At the birth of Christ, Mary gave birth to a baby who was both God and human, each in the fullest sense of the word.  As a result, to deny that Mary was the Mother of God is to deny the full reality of the Incarnation and its resulting efficacy in our salvation.

In a letter to John of Antioch in 433 AD, Saint Cyril summed up this aspect of Christology very well.

Thus we confess that our Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, is perfect God and perfect man, consisting of a rational soul and body, that he was begotten from the Father before all ages according to the Divinity, and that in these latter times was begotten for us and for our salvation from the Virgin Mary; that he is consubstantial with the Father in his Divinity and consubstantial with us in his humanity, for in him there was accomplished the unity of two natures.  Therefore we acknowledge one Christ, one Son, one Lord.  On the basis of this union without confusion, we confess the Most Holy Virgin to be the Mother of God because God the Word was incarnate and became man and in the conception itself united with himself the temple received from her. . . God the Word came down from heaven and, taking the form of a servant, emptied himself, and was called the Son of man, remaining that which he is – God.

The title Mother of God is a confession about Christ.  As I have heard said in the past, it says more about Him than it does about Mary.

What Does The Burning Bush Symbolize?

Post Author:  Darrell

I have long cherished the story of the Lord’s appearance to Moses in the Burning Bush from Exodus Chapter 3.  I am sure you know the story. Moses left Egypt and set up his home in Midian.  The Lord appeared to him in the midst of the burning bush in an effort to get his attention and call him back into His service to free the Children of Israel from the Egyptians.  At first glance, the use of a burning bush appears to be nothing more than a tool to get Moses’ attention.  It seems to be a way of saying, “Hey you!  Pay attention!  This is not just your run-of-the-mill conversation.  I am serious!”  However, I have to admit that in the back of my mind I have often wondered if there is a deeper meaning in the Lord’s choice of a bush that burns with fire yet remains unconsumed.  It seems to be a very specific choice.  So why did He choose it?

As some of you know, my wife and I have become catechumens in the Eastern Orthodox Church.  As a result, I have spent some time this Christmas season reading the hymns of the Church as they relate to the birth of Christ, and I have come across an interpretation of the Burning Bush that has really intrigued me.

The Orthodox Church makes heavy use of typology, a method of exegesis that views older biblical events, places, and things as a foreshadow or prefiguration of later biblical events, places, and things.  There is an ancient teaching that the burning bush is a Type of the Virgin Mary and the Church.  The reasoning goes like this:

  1. God is referred to numerous times in the Bible as the Consuming Fire, e.g., Exodus 24:17, Deuteronomy 4:24, Deuteronomy 9:3, and Hebrews 12:29.
  2. Jesus and the Holy Spirit are both Fully God.
  3. The Burning Bush, despite the presence of the Lord, remained unconsumed.
  4. Mary, despite bearing Jesus in her womb, remained unconsumed.
  5. The Church, despite the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, also remains unconsumed.

 I must admit that I never noticed this relationship before, but coming across it and pondering it has really touched my heart.  Mary carried the All-Consuming fire in her womb, yet God condescended Himself enough so as not to consume her.  Mary is, in many ways, the Unburnt Bush (this is a title given to her in Orthodox Tradition).  Today, the Church has the All-Consuming fire living within it.  God condescends Himself enough to take up residence in our hearts, yet we, like Mary, remain unconsumed.  How glorious this is!

You showed Moses, O Christ God,
An image of your most pure Mother
In the bush that burned yet was not consumed,
For she herself was not consumed,
When she received in her womb the fire of divinity!
She remained incorrupt after her pure childbearing!
By her prayers, O greatly merciful One,
Deliver us from the flame of passions,
And preserve your people from all harm!
(Orthodox Kontakion Hymn)

Glory to Jesus Christ!

What Is the Eastern Orthodox View of the Atonement?

Post Author: Darrell

Many of those in the Protestant and Catholic traditions are familiar with the Penal Substitutionary Theory of the Atonement (hereafter referred to as Substitutionary Atonement).  However, I have found many to be unfamiliar with the predominant atonement view held by those in the Eastern Orthodox Church, which is commonly called The Recapitulation Theory.

The Recapitulation Theory dates to very early in the Church.  Many believe it had its beginnings with Saint Irenaeus in the second century.  We find it throughout the writings of the early Church Fathers.   Saint Athanasius, the giant of the Nicaean Council, wrote a wonderful book in AD 318 which explains the overall view very well.  It is titled On The Incarnation and was originally written as a letter to one of his disciples.

Substitutionary Atonement focuses on Christ’s suffering and death as the price for man’s sin.  In many ways, the model for Substitutionary Atonement is a courtroom.  Due to his sin, man needed to be made right with a perfect and just God.  Therefore, Christ came to suffer and pay the price in our place, i.e., He substituted Himself for us.  Now, in the courtroom of God, those who accept Christ as their Lord and Savior are judged innocent.  They have a forensic righteousness imputed upon them.

The Recapitulation Theory agrees that God needed to deal with man’s sin.  Man was separated from God as a result of the fall and, left to his own devices, was incapable of returning to God.  However, Recapitulation sees the model through which God dealt with man’s sin as a hospital rather than a courtroom.  Instead of viewing the atonement as Christ paying the price for sin in order to satisfy a wrathful God, Recapitulation teaches that Christ became human to heal mankind by perfectly uniting the human nature to the Divine Nature in His person.  Through the Incarnation, Christ took on human nature, becoming the Second Adam, and entered into every stage of humanity, from infancy to adulthood, uniting it to God.  He then suffered death to enter Hades and destroy it.  After three days, He resurrected and completed His task by destroying death.

By entering each of these stages and remaining perfectly obedient to the Father, Christ recapitulated every aspect of human nature.  He said “Yes” where Adam said “No” and healed what Adam’s actions had damaged.  This enables all of those who are willing to say yes to God to be perfectly united with the Holy Trinity through Christ’s person.  In addition, by destroying death, Christ reversed the consequence of the fall.  Now, all can be resurrected.  Those who choose to live their life in Christ can be perfectly united to the Holy Trinity, receiving the full love of God as Heavenly bliss.  However, those who reject Christ and choose to live their lives chasing after their passions will receive the love of God as hell.

Because of its focus on unification between God and man in the person of Christ, Recapitulation places great importance on the teaching that Christ is both fully man and fully God.  If Christ did not have both natures, He would have been incapable of uniting humanity to divinity, which was the entire purpose of the Incarnation.  As Saint Gregory of Nazianzus said in the fourth century, “That which is not assumed is not healed, but that which is united to God is saved.”  The doctrine of the dual nature of Christ came to the forefront with the third Ecumenical Council in AD 431.  During this council, the Church answered the Nestorian heresy and affirmed Christ’s humanity and divinity and upheld the title of Theotokos (Mother of God) for Mary.  By giving Mary this title, the Church believed we would preserve the teaching of the dual nature of Christ.  If Mary is the Mother of God, then, by necessity, Christ truly is God.  In addition, since Mary is both human and Christ’s mother, Christ is also fully human.

Did The Church Fall Away?

Post Author: Darrell

One of the foundational teachings of Mormonism is that shortly after the death of the Apostles, the bulk of mankind rejected the teachings of Christ and the Apostles, and the world fell away from the plain and precious truths of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  As a result, the Church and the authority to act in God’s name were taken from the earth, and the world entered into a period known as the Great Apostasy.  It was not until God’s appearance to Joseph Smith in 1820, and his subsequent call to be a Prophet, that the Fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and God’s Church were once again restored to the earth.  Today, this fullness is known and taught only in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. 

During my last few years as a Mormon, I struggled with this teaching as I came to realize that it does not line up with what Christ promised us.  In Matthew 16:18, Christ says, “And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.”   Mormonism teaches that with the restoration of the Gospel, Temples have been reestablished upon the earth.  Within these Temples, Mormons perform various Ordinances that are believed to be binding not only on earth, but also in heaven.  Two of these Ordinances are known as Baptism for the Dead and Endowment for the Dead.  They are performed vicariously for and in behalf of individuals who did not receive them in this life. 

LDS doctrine teaches that when a person who is either an unfaithful Mormon or a non-Mormon dies, they go to a place known as Spirit Prison.  According to, Spirit Prison is another name for Hell or Hades.[1]  It is contrasted with Paradise, the place where righteous Mormons go upon their death.  Those who reside in Spirit Prison have the opportunity to hear the teachings of the LDS Gospel.  If they accept them and their Temple Work (Ordinances of Baptism and Endowment) has been performed vicariously on their behalf, they can leave Hell and enter Paradise.[2]

This is where I found the LDS teaching to be problematic, for what does this mean for those individuals who lived and died during the Great Apostasy?  If Christ’s Church was really taken from the earth, and it was not restored until after Joseph Smith, what, according to Mormonism, has happened to all those individuals who lived and died during the period of the Great Apostasy?  Well, the reality of the fact is that they are in Hell.  Even if they accepted Christ, believed in Him, and strove to live by His teachings, they are still in Hell.  It is not until their Temple Work has been done that they can be released from Hell.   Even worse is the fact that the Temple Work for the majority of the Earth’s past population has not been done and will not be done for many years to come because we do not have their names.  Our records don’t go back that far. 

In my opinion, this teaching does not line up at all with Christ’s promise.  He told us that the Gates of Hell would not prevail against the Church He established.  However, if LDS teaching is true, the Gates of Hell are prevailing against Christ’s Church and have been doing so since shortly after Christ’s ascension.  His Church was taken from the earth and those who lived lives seeking Him and living by His commandments are suffering in Hell as a result.  Not only is this teaching demeaning to the power of God, it also makes a complete mockery of Christ’s redeeming work.  He came to earth to unite humanity with divinity, bridging the gap between fallen mankind and the Creator of all.  However, according to Mormonism, many of those who have sought to follow Him are suffering in Hell for no other reason than they were born at the wrong time.

To be fair to Mormons, I must submit that Christ’s promise does not present a problem to their teachings alone.  Those who hold to strong fundamentalist Protestantism also encounter problems when comparing their beliefs to Christ’s promise.  I have spoken to many Protestants who believe that one cannot be a “faithful Catholic” or a “faithful Eastern Orthodox Christian” and still be saved.  They believe that the teachings of both of these great Churches are a corruption of what Christ taught and that if one holds to their teachings they are “non-Christian.”  However, the truth is that many of the core teachings of these Churches date back to the earliest times in Christianity, so if they are corruptions, they are corruptions that instilled themselves in the Church from virtually the very beginning of Christendom.  For example, the teaching that the Eucharist contains the Real Presence of Christ was a fundamental teaching of the Church from around the year 100, and the veneration of Mary can be dated to at least the middle 100’s.  By default then, stating that those who hold these beliefs are non-Christian is to state that the Church, from the earliest of times, apostatized in some of its key doctrines very early and remained that way until after the reformation.  Therefore, at its heart, this is to believe that the Gates of Hell prevailed against the Church for nearly 1500 years, dooming those who held to its key teachings to Hell.  Do we really believe that?

Think about it. 

 [1]  Accessed 7/18/011.

Are the Human Mind and Body Separate from Each Other?

Izbište-Eastern Orthodox Church
Image via Wikipedia

Post Author: Darrell

Recently, I have been studying the Eastern Orthodox tradition of Christianity, and quite honestly, I have found it to be a very intriguing faith.  They have a rich history and their faith is filled with traditions that hark back to the early Church.  Their approach to the Christian life and worship is unique, refreshing, and in many respects quite inspiring.

The Orthodox view of the human person is especially interesting.  Many Western Christians hold to a dualistic view of the mind and the body, believing them to be separate types of reality with the mind being equivalent to the spirit and the body being purely material.  While there are many profound advantages to this view, it is not without some serious challenges.  For example, dualism fails to account for the dramatic change in personality and character that can occur from physical damage to the brain and/or chemical imbalances within the body.  If the mind and spirit are separate entities, why do such changes in personality take place when a purely physical entity such as the brain is damaged?  It appears that any rational explanation for this would have to account for a profound connection between mind and body, yet this connection is precisely what the dualistic view seeks to avoid.

The Eastern Tradition of Christianity takes a different approach to mind/body duality, essentially saying that it doesn’t exist.  Instead, Orthodox view human personhood as a unity between the mind and the body.  In The Orthodox Church, Timothy Ware says:

The west has often associated the image of God with the human soul or intellect.  While many Orthodox have done the same, others would say that since the human person is a single unified whole, the image of God embraces the entire person, body and soul as well. . . . Our body is not an enemy, but a partner and collaborator with our soul. [emphasis mine]

This is not to say that Orthodox believe that God has a body… they don’t.  They hold to a very traditional view of the Godhead, believing the Father to be spirit.  However, to the Orthodox, Christ’s incarnation united the physical and the spiritual.  Fourtenth century Saint of The Eastern Orthodox Church, Gregory Palamas, has been quoted as saying, “By taking a human body at the Incarnation, [Christ] has made the flesh an inexhaustible source of sanctification.”

This unified view of the body and soul has a few similarities (although there are still many stark differences) to the mind/body theory known as Emergentism.  Emergentism says the human mind is not wholly separate from, nor entirely connected to, the body.  Instead, the mind, while produced by the brain, is entirely distinct from the brain.  As an analogy, we can look at magnetic fields and gravitational fields.  Both fields are produced by a generating physical object; however, they are also distinct from the generating physical object.  In the same way, Emergentism says that the mind emerges from the body (brain), but is still distinct from the body.

While this view has its challenges as well, it does appear to answer some of the questions left unanswered by the dualist.  Perhaps we Westerners have something to think about?