For the Life of the World

Alexander Schmemann was a Russian Orthodox theologian and scholar. I just got done reading his book For the Life of the World. A really good book, though I do not agree with all he said. The book pulls us out of an overly rational approach to Church and mission by using the liturgy/order of service in the Orthodox Church as a guide to how we should think about life. Very fascinating read and difficult. I will probably read it again soon to try and get a handle on all of what he is saying. In the meantime, I thought I would post some quotes to give you a taste of his thinking.

“Man must eat in order to live; he must take the world into his body and transform it into himself, into flesh and blood. He is indeed that which he eats, and the whole world is presented as one all-embracing banquet table for man. And this image of the banquet remains, throughout the whole Bible, the central image of life.” (p. 11)

“The first, the basic definition of man is that he is the priest. He stands in the center of the world and unifies it in his act of blessing God, of both receiving the world from God and offering it to God.” (p. 15)

“Christianity often appears, however, to preach that if men will try hard enough to live Christian lives, the crucifixion can somehow be reversed. This is because Christianity has forgotten itself, forgotten that always it must first of all stand at the cross.” (p. 23)


Here is another quote from R. Smith’s Trinity and Reality:

“The power of symbolism is the power of worldview presuppositions. It is the greatest power in the world. All of language is symbolic, of course, but symbolism is not limited to words. Symbolism creates reality, not vice versa. This is another way of saying essence precedes existence. God determined how things should be and then they were.”