Saturday, September 29, 2018

No Sympathy for the Devil: The Significance of Demons in John Chrysostom's Soteriology

No Sympathy for the Devil:
The Significance of Demons in John Chrysostom's Soteriology

By Samantha Lynn Miller

Marquette University
Spring 2016


This dissertation is a study of John Chrysostom’s demonology as it relates to his theological anthropology and soteriology. Demons run rampant in Chrysostom's thought, though few scholars have taken note of this. Studies of Chrysostom often focus on his exegetical practices, his asceticism, or his social vision and morality. Indeed, many scholars dismiss Chrysostom as unsophisticated and therefore of little value in the landscape of fourth-century theology. In analyzing Chrysostom’s demonology, we see that Chrysostom’s thought is complex and worth further consideration. One cannot treat demons in Chrysostom’s work without treating other theological topics as well. When Chrysostom discusses demons he does so for the sake of bringing his congregation to salvation. Drawing on Stoic categories for discussing “true” versus “apparent” harm, Chrysostom uses rhetoric about demons to highlight humanity’s freedom and self-determination. Each person has a προαίρεσις, which is free and is the locus of moral responsibility, a faculty demons cannot compel. The προαίρεσις is what enables a person to be virtuous. Chrysostom then argues that because each person is able to be virtuous, God expects each person to be virtuous, and this virtue is a necessary aspect of salvation. Though God reconciles humanity to God’s self in the incarnation, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and though Christ continues to help a person be virtuous, the responsibility for virtue, and thus salvation, lies with the human being. In short, Chrysostom's demonology and account of self-determination exert a mutual influence on one another, self-determination is necessary for virtue, and virtue is integral to salvation. Therefore, in order to have a fully developed account of Chrysostom's theological anthropology and soteriology, one must also understand Chrysostom’s demonology. Chrysostom's soteriology is better understood when the role of demonology in his theology is taken into account because Chrysostom's engagements with demonology are an entrance to his soteriology and highlight the depth to which Chrysostom believes humans are responsible for their own salvation.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

The Dead Girl Who Seized a Grave-Robber and Would Not Let Him Go

By St. John Moschos

The Spiritual Meadow
Ch. 78

The Astonishing Miracle of a Dead Girl, Who Seized a Grave-Robber and 
Would Not Let Him Go Until He Had Promised to Become a Monk

When we visited Abba John, the abbot of the Monastery of the Giants, he told us a similar story from the time when he had been at Theopolis:

It is not so long ago that I had a visit from a certain young man.

"Help me, for the love of God," he said, with many tears and convulsive sighs. "I need to repent."

I could see that he was deeply troubled and perplexed.

"Tell me the reason why you are so filled with compunction," I said. "Don't hold anything back, for God is surely able to help you."