Monday, January 25, 2016

What is a Theologian?

Today is the Feast of Saint Gregory the Theologian, so I thought I would add to our discussion about Orthodox terms with the question, “What is a theologian?” A “THEOLOGIAN” is someone who has studied God and, in most cases, has been given the blessing of the Church to TEACH about God. The Church takes her role as protecting the truth of God very seriously, so when someone is bestowed with the blessing to teach, it signifies a certain level of trust the Church has placed within the teaching of the particular person. The outward ‘sign’, or uniform of a theologian is the Rasson (the black robe with extra large sleeves warn while teaching) and is seen on clergy when they are teaching outside of a liturgical context.

In the case of Saint, the term Theologian can be equated in a simple way to the academic title of Doctor, and while it is not a complete parallel since there are many more academic doctors than there are Theologian Saints, the term is not bestowed lightly by the Church. In fact, only three saints have been given the ‘title’ theologian – Saint John the Evangelist and Theologian, Saint Symeon the New Theologian, and today’s Saint Gregory the Theologian. That isn’t to say the other Saints were not theologians and did not teach, as if deed they did. It is to show the special place within Church history of these three Theologian Saints.

While the term suggests a certain level of academic training, I can’t emphasize enough that a ‘true’ theologian isn’t someone who studies ‘about’ God, but actually ‘knows’ God intimately through prayer and communion. The more each of us grows in Communion with God, the more we each because true theologians – someone who knows God.

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