What is the Core of Orthodox Tradition?
Chapter 24 from Patristic Theology
by Father John Romanides
We happen to be entrusted with a treasure the theology
of Orthodox Tradition. Orthodox theology is the culmination
and product of centuries of experiences that have been
repeated, renewed, and recorded by those who have
experienced theosis at different times. We have the experience
of the patriarchs and the prophets as well as the later
experience of the Apostles. We call all of these experiences
"glorification." To say the prophet was glorified means that
the prophet saw the glory of God. To say the Apostle was
glorified means that the Apostle saw the glory of Christ.
Seeing the glory of Christ, the Apostle ascertained by his
own experience that the glory of Christ in the New Testament
is the glory of God in the Old Testament. Hence, Christ is
the Yahweh and the Elohim of the Old Testament.
Although it is not clear in the Old Testament Who the
Holy Spirit is, the Apostles discovered Who He is by experience.
Their experience repeats the experience of the prophets,
but there is a difference because the Apostles were glorified
after the Incarnation: Yahweh of the Old Testament now
has the human nature of Christ. Although three of the
Apostles were partially glorified during the Transfiguration
on Mount Tabor, all of the Apostles were fully glorified at
Pentecost, during which they reached the highest state of
glorification that any human being can ever reach in this
After the experiences of the Apostles come the experiences
of the glorified who include the Church Fathers and those
saints who reached theosis. And so the experience of theosis
continues to appear in each generation up to the present. 
This experience of theosis is the core of the Orthodox tradition,
the foundation of the local and ecumenical councils, and
the basis for the Church's canon law and liturgical life today.
If the contemporary Orthodox theologian is to acquire
objectivity, he must rely on the experience of theosis. In
other words, we can positively state that a student of Patristic
tradition has acquired objectivity in his theological method
only when he has personally undergone purification and
illumination, and reached theosis. Only in this way will the
researcher not only understand the Patristic tradition, but
also verify for himself the truth of this tradition through
the Holy Spirit.
63. During the past few decades many saints of the Church who have
experienced theosis have become known, such as Elder Paisios the Hagiorite,
Elder Sophrony of Essex, England, Elder Porphyrios of Athens, Elder
Iakovos of Evia, Elder Joseph the Hesychast, and Elder Ephraim of
Katounakia among others within and outside of Greece.
From Patristic Theology - The University Lectures of Father John Romanides (Thessaloniki, Greece: Uncut Mountain Press, 2008), pp. 92-94. This book is distributed in North America
by Uncut Mountain Supply. Posted April 29, 2008.