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The true Psychiatric Clinic

 Protopresbyter John S. Romanides

This Pauline Church is like a psychiatric clinic. But its understanding of the malady of human personality is much more sophisticated than anything now known in modern medicine. In order to see this reality we must look through Paul into the Biblical understanding of human normality and abnormality.

The normal human being is he who has been led into all the Truth by the Spirit of Truth, i. e. into vision of Christ in His Father’s glory (John 17). It is because the Apostles and Prophets are glorified in Christ that the people believe that God has sent His Son and that they too can be cured by selfless love (ibid.). Humans who do not see the uncreated glory of God are not normal. “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). In other words the only human who was born normal is the Lord of Glory, Who by choice assumed the blameless passions (i. e. hunger, thirst, weariness, sleep, fear of death, etc.), although by nature the source of glory, which abolishes them.

The other side of this coin is that God does not reveal His glory to everyone because He does not wish to harm those not prepared for such a vision. The surprise of the Old Testament Prophets that they have seen God and yet live and the people’s request that Moses ask God to cease showing His glory, which had become unbearable, is clear in this respect.

The concern of the Apostolic Churches was not to reflect and speculate about God in Himself, since He remains a mystery to the intellect even when He reveals His glory in Christ to those who participate in the mystery of His Son’s Cross by their glorification. Their only concern was each individual’s cure in Christ, which is brought about by the purification and illumination of the heart and glorification in this life (1 Cor. 12:26) for service to society. “… Those whom he has justified, he has also glorified” (Rom. 8:30) means that illumination and glorification are interdependent in this life, yet not identical.

The sickness of human personality consists of the weakening of the heart’s communion with the glory of God (Rom. 3:23), by its being swamped by the thoughts of the environment (Rom. 1:, 21,24, 2:5). In such a state one imagines God to be in the image of one’s sick self or even of animals (Rom. 1:22). The inner person (eso anthropos) suffers spiritual death “because of which (eph’ho) * all have sinned” (Rom. 5:12) by becoming enslaved to the instinct to self-preservation which deforms love by its bondage to the self-centred search for security and happiness.

The cure of this sickness begins by the purification of the heart of all thoughts (Rom. 2:29), both good and bad, and their restriction to the intellect. In order to do this one’s spirit dissipated in the brain must spin itself by prayer into a ball of light and return to the heart. It becomes like a repaired diskette to which prayer texts from the brain may be transferred and back to the brain. One thus becomes free from slavery to everything in the environment, e. g. to self indulgence, wealth, property and even to one’s parents and relatives (Math. 10:37; Luke 14:26). The purpose of this is not to attain to Stoic indifference or lack of love, but to allow the heart to accept the prayers and psalms that the Holy Spirit transfers there from the intellect and energises unceasingly while the intellect is occupied with daily activities and while asleep. It is thus that sick love begins its cure.

This is the context of St. Paul’s reference to the Holy Spirit praying in the heart. The Holy Spirit as such advocates on behalf of all humans “with sighs not spoken” (Rom.8:26). But He transfers the prayers and psalms of the intellect to the human spirit in the heart when it is purified of all thoughts, both good and bad. At this point one’s own spirit empowered by the Holy Spirit does nothing else but pray and recite psalms unceasingly while the intellect engages in its normal daily activities liberated from happiness-seeking self-centredness. Thus one prays with one’s spirit in the heart unceasingly and one prays with the intellect at given times. This is what Paul means when he writes, “I will pray with the spirit, but I will also pray with the intellect. I will recite psalms with the spirit, but I will also recite psalms with the intellect” (1 Cor. 14:15).

Paul has just told us that praying by means of other tongues than one’s own includes Old Testament psalms. He is, therefore, not speaking about incomprehensible audible prayers since the psalms were familiar to all. Paul is speaking about the prayers of one’s spirit in the heart which are audible only to those with this same charisma of “kinds of tongues”. Those who did not yet have this gift could not hear the prayers and psalms in the hearts of those who did have this gift.

The Corinthians in the state of illumination had introduced the innovation of conducting corporate worship in the heart in the presence of the “private individuals” who had not yet received this gift of “kinds of tongues”. This made it impossible for these “private individuals” to be edified and say their “amen” at the proper times simply because they could not hear.

Paul states clearly that “no one hears”, (1 Cor.14,2). “if I come to you speaking by tongues, what will I benefit you if I do not speak to you?” (ibid. 14:6-7). “For if the trumpet gives an unmanifested sound, who will prepare for battle? Thus also you, if you do not give a well-shaped word by means of the tongue, how will that which is spoken be known?… Thus many may happen to be the kinds of sounds in the world, and none are soundless. For if I do not know the force of the sound, I will be a foreigner to the speaker and the speaker a foreigner to me”. (1 Cor. 14:8-11). Those without the gift of “kinds of tongues” must hear the “force of the sound” of the prayers and psalms to react with their “amen” (ibid. 14:11,16). One must not pray and recite psalms with “unmanifested sound,” in the presence of those without this gift of tongues (ibid. 14:10,11). “For you give thanks well, but the other is not edified” (ibid. 14:17).

When Paul says, “he who prophesies is greater than him who speaks in tongues, except if he interprets that the church may receive edification” (1 Cor. 14:5), he means that he who speaks only in tongues must learn to translate the psalms and prayers in his heart into psalms and prayers of his intellect to be recited audibly. When he thus learns to pray and recite psalms simultaneously with his spirit and his intellect he may then participate in corporate thanksgiving for the benefit of the “private individuals” who will know when to say their Amen. “Thus let him who speaks in tongues pray that he may translate. For if I pray in tongue, my spirit prays, but my intellect is without fruit. So what is (the situation)? I will pray with the spirit, but I will also pray with the intellect. I will recite psalms with the spirit, but I will also recite psalms with the intellect. For if you bless with the spirit, how will he who occupies the place of the private individual say the Amen to your thanksgiving? Because he does not know what you say. You give thanks well, but the other is not edified. I thank God in tongue more than all of you, but in church I prefer to speak five words with my intellect, so that I may instruct others, rather than ten thousand words in tongue” (1 Cor. 14:13-19).

Paul never says that one interprets what another is saying in tongues. One interprets what he himself is saying in tongues. In each case where Paul relates “speaking in tongues” to “translation” it is always the one who has the gift of tongues who translates himself in order to be heard audibly for the benefit of the “private individuals”. It is within this context that Paul directs that “if one speaks in tongues, he should be grouped in twos or the most threes, and let one translate. If there is not a translator, let him keep quiet in church, let him speak to himself and to God” (1 Cor. 14:27-28). The interpreter is clearly he who has the gift of translating his own prayers of his own spirit in his own heart to his own intellect that they may become audible for the edification of others. Otherwise he must keep quiet and restrict himself to praying in tongues which others are also doing but also audibly. Paul thus deprives those with only the gift of kinds of tongues of their majority power to impose their innovation of corporate prayers by only tongues in the presence of the “private individuals”.

Paul is speaking about psalms and prayers not recited by one’s own tongue, but heard coming from the heart. This illumination of the heart neutralises enslavement to the instinct to self-preservation and begins the transformation of possessive love into selfless love. This is the gift of faith to the inner person which is one’s justification, reconciliation, adoption, peace, hope and vivification.

These unceasing prayers and psalms in the heart (Eph. 5:18-20), otherwise called “kinds of tongues” (1 Cor. 12:28), transform the private individual into a temple of the Holy Spirit and member of the Body of Christ. They are the beginning of one’s liberation from bondage to the environment, not by retreat from it, but by controlling it, not exploitatively, but by selfless love. It is thus that, “the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has liberated me from the law of sin and death…If one does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. If Christ is in you, then the body is dead to sin, whereas the Spirit is life unto justice…” (Rom. 8:2ff).

As love is being cured by perfection one receives the higher charismata listed by Paul in 1 Cor. 12:28 which are consummated in glorification. Paul states that, “if one is glorified, all members rejoice” (1 Cor.12:26) in order to explain why Prophets are second to the Apostles and before all other members of the body of Christ. To be justified by the prayers and psalms of the Holy Spirit in the heart is to see Christ in a mirror dimly (1 Cor. 13:12). Glorification is the coming of “the Perfect” (1 Cor. 13:10) by seeing Christ face to face (1 Cor. 13:12). In saying, “I know now in part” (ibid.) Paul is referring to his current state of illumination or justification. By his next phrase, “but then I will be known as I was known” (ibid.), Paul is saying that he will be glorified as he had been glorified. In the state of illumination one is a child. Once glorified one returns to illumination a man (1 Cor. 13:11).

During glorification, which is revelation, prayer in the heart (tongues), knowledge and prophecy, together with faith and hope, are abolished since replaced by Christ Himself. Only love does not fall away (1 Cor. 13:8-11). During revelation words and concepts about and to God (prayers) are abolished. After glorification one returns to illumination. Knowledge, prophecy, tongues, faith and hope return to join love which had not fallen away. Those words and concepts used in prayer and teaching by one glorified to lead others to glorification are inspired and to be abolished in glorification.

It is this vision of the resurrected Christ in glory which Paul had and which puts Apostles and Prophets at the head (1 Cor. 12:28) and foundation (Eph. 2:20) of the Church. This foundation includes women prophets (Acts 2:17, 21:9, 1 Cor. 11:5) and is the context of Paul’s statement that in Christ there is neither male nor female (Gal. 3:28).

Glorification is not a miracle, but the normal final stage of the transformation of selfish love into selfless love. Both Paul and John clearly consider vision of Christ in glory in this life as necessary for the perfection of love and service to society (John 14:21-24, 16:22, 17:24, 1 Cor. 13:10-13, Eph. 3:3-6). The appearances of the resurrected Christ in glory were not and are not miracles to astound observers into believing in His Godhead. The miracle was the crucifixion of the Lord of Glory, not His resurrection. The resurrected Christ appears only for the perfection of love, even in the case of Paul who had reached the threshold of glorification (Gal.1:14ff), not knowing the Lord of Glory he was about to see had been born, crucified and resurrected. 1 Cor. 15:1-11 are the glorifications which complete Paul’s treatment of spiritual gifts begun in 1 Cor. 12:1.

All subsequently glorified in history are equal to the Apostles in their participation in Pentecost because they too have been guided into all the Truth (Acts 10. 47-11:18). All the Truth is the resurrected and ascended Christ Who returned in the uncreated tongues of fire of Pentecost to dwell with His Father in the faithful who have become temples of His Spirit advocating in their hearts. He thus made the Church His body against which the gates of death can no longer prevail.

Glorification is both the soul’s and body’s participation in immortality and incorruption for the perfection of love. This may be of short or long duration. After an initial loss of orientation one goes about one’s daily work seeing everything saturated by the glory of God which is neither light nor darkness, nor similar to anything created. The passions, which had been neutralised and made blameless by illumination, are abolished. During glorification one does not eat, drink, sleep, or fatigue and one is not effected by heat or cold. These phenomena in the lives of saints (prophets) both before and after the incarnation of the Lord of Glory are not miracles but the restoration of humans to normality. It is within this context that one places such sayings of Christ to the living, but sick, that “I came that they have life (in illumination) and that they have it (in glorification) abundantly” (John 10:10). The gospel of John, and especially 14-16, is a detailed description of the cure of illumination and John 17 is Christ’s prayer for the cure of glorification.

Gerontologists have concluded that the aging process is a sickness and are looking into whether death itself is also a sickness. In this respect both the glorified and their relics should prove of interest since many hundreds of them remain with their bodies intact for centuries in an intermediary state between corruption and incorruption. One of the oldest examples is St. Spyridon on the island of Corfu who was a Father of the First Ecumenical Council in 325. There are 120 in Kiev alone.

This is the context of Paul’s statement that “even this creation will also be liberated from bondage to corruption unto the freedom of the glory of the children of God” (Rom. 8:21). It is clear from the context that “the freedom of the glory” is here freedom from mortality and corruption. But even those whose inner person has been adopted by illumination and who have tasted of physical immortality and incorruption during and limited to the period of their glorification await “the adoption, the liberation of our body” (Rom. 8:23). “The dead will be raised incorruptible and we will be changed… this corruptible will put on incorruption and this mortal will put on immortality…” (1 Cor. 15:53,54). One knows this not by speculation on Biblical texts, but from the experience of glorification, i. e. from “the freedom of the glory of the children of God.” The experience of glorification and not only Biblical texts is the basis of the Church’s belief in the physical resurrection of the biological part of the person.

*For Patristic interpretation of Paul’s “eph’ho” in Rom. 5:12 see J. S. Romanides, “Original Sin According to St. Paul.”