The Congregation of Orthodox Servants of Jesus
Provost: Father Symeon Elias, OSJ.
P.O. Box 350
Clarkdale, Georgia 30020
Rectory: 770 222-8506
E-MAIL:Provost: Father Symeon Elias, OSJ
About Our Patron Saint
What is the purpose of Saint John the Theologian Orthodox Christian Seminary?
(1) The empowering of Christian Ministries. (2) To train our Candidates for Holy Orders (3) To train layman and women and clergy for various specialty ministries.
How is this done?
The Singular Orthodox Spirituality is the ONLY subject taught through SHS. This truth can be approached from may directions, but the point and focus remains the same. Orthodoxy is a recognition of the Church as Hospital. It denotes its “living theology” as different from the rational and secular theologies and philosophical theologies of the West by calling its theology “sacred theology.” It is impossible to separate the “concepts” of Orthodox Sacred/Theology from the “experience” of its therapeutic healing of mind, body and soul. The “concepts” without the healing are meaningless, even silliness. The “experience” of healing has to have its focus in Christ’s Body – The Church or it takes a very great risk of remaining in or falling to the variouis temptations of the sickness of religion. So when we name our course of study “Sacred/Theology and Orthodox Clinical Therapeutics” we do so for empowerment in ministry – simply naming two names for the same study. The Study of Orthodox Sacred Theology IS a study of Orthodox Clinical Therapeutics and likewise the study of Orthodox Clinical Therapeutics IS a study of Orthodox Sacred Theology. These two, the concept and the experience cannot stand alone and inform each other.
HOW OUR CYBER SCHOOL WORKS
Our school functions Spiritually on a Mentoring System and Academically on an English model where one “reads” for their degree. One reads and writes papers in consultation with one’s mentor as needed. Our Faculty Mentors are in the U.S., Australia, and Europe. St Johns does not provide a strictly “academic” education and would be of little worth as such. There are many fine liberal arts institutions and as such St Johns would not be needed. The structure of our school is designed to place the student in contact with a “Spiritual Father” and to guide the spiritual development as well as the academic. We are an Orthodox School so our understanding of what constitutes “religious” education is unique to Orthodoxy.
WHAT IS UNIQUE ABOUT ORTHODOX EDUCATION?
There is a primary difference between “rational theology” upon which the West has based its theology and the “sacred theology” of Orthodoxy. When this reality is “experienced” the difference becomes very clear, impossible ever again to confuse. But until it is experienced, it seems comparing one set of concepts against another. It is toward the experience – the doing of Sacred Theology i.e. healing – that our program is designed.
IS THE STUDY OF RATIONAL THEOLOGY PROFITABLE?
Although rational theology is profitable to those who are being drawn and are also being taught by the Holy Spirit on a deeper level, the same rational theology is thing of pride to the person who can find satisfaction in it. The true “teaching of the Holy Spirit” reaches to the uneducated and educated alike. In this it becomes apparent why academic education and theological/philosophy more specifically, according to the patristic tradition, are not presuppositions for knowledge of God (theognosia). Alongside the great academic St. Basil the Great (+379) we also give honor to St. Anthony (+350), who by worldly standards was not wise. Yet they are both teachers of the faith. Both witness to knowledge of God, St. Anthony as someone uneducated and St. Basil as someone who was more highly educated than Aristotle.
Western “rational” theology took a different path and created a tension between the Educated and non-Educated Christians. St. Augustine of Hippo, upon whom the Western model is based (+430) differs from patristic tradition at the point where he ignores scriptural and patristic gnosiology and is in essence a Neo-platonist! With his axiom credo ut intelligam (I believe in order to understand) he introduced the principle that man is lead to a logical conception of Revelation through faith. This gives priority to the intellect (the mind), which is considered by this form of knowledge to be the instrument or tool of knowing both the natural as well as the supernatural. God is considered as a knowable object that can be conceived of by the human intellect (mind) just as any natural object can be conceived of. After St. Augustine the next step in this evolution (with the intervention of the scholasticism of Thomas Aquinas+1274) was made by Decartes (+1650) with his axiom cogito, ergo sum (I think therefore I am) in which the intellect (mind) is declared as the main basis of existence.
When “Faith” is seen as a “rational things of letters” then the “plodding searching of scriptures” is not true Faith any more than the person who gives into spiritual pride and claims “gnosis” without obedience to God in the human “pathos.” (e.i. the imperative of moral living and exercise of love of God and others.) There is a true “royal way” and that is of the Kingdom (Basilia – = actually “REIGN”) of God which is within = the actual “living” relationship with God in Christ by the Holy Spirit. This living relationship is the center of true Faith. It is a healing reality found in the Church. It is only in the “context” of this “relationship” that Christianity is removed from the realm of dead religion. The rationalists sadly have made of Christianity “just another religion” by paganizing it with the earthbound philosophies. Example: It is the belief of all “religions” that they gain “eternal life” from searching their sacred scriptures and/or of keeping ‘traditions’ and/or doing work “for merit.” The reality of Christianity is not found in searching the scriptures, or in seeking merit, but in the re-animation of the noetic facilities which is; the physical/spiritual renewal and reanimation of human life in Christ, making the human heart ‘truly human’, by “obedience” i.e., coming into communion with God in the human (pathos) experience of living. (The Way – the earliest name for Christianity – living in the reality of the “REIGN of God in the Heart”)
The cultural prejudice apparent in Society’s acceptance of generic ‘spirituality’ (i.e., every kind of ‘ism’) and the rejection of the teachings and the PERSON of Christ, calling testimony of Christ abuse of ‘religion’, flows from the mind set created by Augustine flowing through Descartes as stated above. This is a “natural” flow of the so-called “evolution of spirituality” in the West, always away from the noetic reality of the human pathos and into the realm of “philosophy”, which is the natural result of believing that “true religion” is found in mastering the “texts” and then creating “philosophies” based on the “principles found in the text.” The “spiritual” revolutions began with scholasticism (13th century), nominalism (14th century), humanism/renaissance (15th century), Reformation (16th century) and the Enlightenment (17th century). This set the ground for the innovations of sophianism and new ageism and mind science-isms and the silly rational and radical theological deconstructions by textual criticism cults such as Bishop John Spong’s “Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism” and the even more ridiculous “Jesus Seminar Project” – All these innovations of the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries following, as it were, a natural flow of a pagan philosophy introduced by Augustine. Each moving away from the reality of what Jesus and the Apostles taught and lived and thus away from the Healing Reality of the Hospital Church.
The Saint John the Theologian Seminary rejects all attempts to “demythologize” scripture. Protestant and Roman theology is a theology in flux. Orthodox Theology is not in flux. Though great orthodox teachers arrive on the scene and make theological explication, these explications “inform” but do not alter the ancient Faith of Our Fathers. In our wish to re-establish the foundations of Celtic Orthodoxy, there will be “experimentation” and “creativity” but no, divergence or division from the Ancient Truth of the Gospel, given to us by the Apostles and Church Fathers.
Some conservative Protestants read the word “demythologize” and are insulted by it, being literalists. But it must be understood that the Cross of Christ and the Holy Mysteries which are the bedrock of Orthodoxy are not comprehended rationally, but are understood by experience through the Truth of The Gospel and as the Stories of the Bible inform our journey and experience by the Power of the Holy Spirit. The Apostle Paul spoke eloquently about the fact that we now perceive in part. All the rationalizing and reasoning in the world cannot inform us of the depth of the great theological/mystical mysteries of Christian initiation, “wisdom” and “knowledge.” These are understood (in part) by experience in faith and faithfulness.
Even the theology of Giants like Carl Barth and Rudolf Bultmann is a theology in flux. We recommend the book The Suicide of Christian Theology, by John Warwick Montgomery as introduction to the failures of Western Rational Theology. The following “parable” fully explains the message of the book.
The Parable of the Engineers:
A modern parable taken from Dr. John Warwick Montgomery’s book, The Suicide of Christian Theology
To understand the result of “rational” theological explication which has been the rule in Western Theology, one need only look to the absurdity of the Jesus Seminar “experiment.” For a short note on the absurdities of modern and post-modern textual criticism click on this icon.
“The Seminar” Without Orthodoxy, Spirituality or Common Sense
While we serve all Christians, The St. John the Theologian Seminary is the official seminary of the Orthodox Servants of Jesus. We are an Orthodox School holding all the traditional moral values of the ancient church, and the traditional Doctrines of Orthodoxy, we seek as a CYBER-school to create a school “without walls”; Our one goal is the empowering of the servants of Jesus in all walks of Christian life, both clergy and layperson, to healing growth and ministry. A note from the Provost: About Accreditation and the Educational Philosophy of Saint John the Theologian Seminary