Theology as a Spiritual State

In Saint Sophrony the Athonite


Saint Sophrony’s discipleship and obedience to Saint Silouan the Athonite profoundly influenced his theological development. When the Elder refers to theology as a spiritual state, he always has Saint Silouan in mind. He describes the writings of the saint as a great lesson of experiential theology. Certainly, now that all Saint Sophrony’s own writings have been published, it is obvious that he was ‘of the same kind’ with his Elder. The similarity of his own experience helped Elder Sophrony understand Saint Silouan’s personality at a deeper level, and also confirmed the revelations that he himself had been vouchsafed to receive.

The chapters in this booklet are adapted from the book Theology as a Spiritual State: in the Life and Teaching of Saint Sophrony the Athonite


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Saint Sophrony often used a concise phrase to describe this journey of the three stages: ‘the mystery of the ways of salvation’. At the end of this journey, the experience of the visitations of grace and the chastening of Godforsakenness take the form of dogmatic consciousness: ‘This knowledge, which is called dogmatic consciousness, is the deep-set life of the spirit, having nothing to do with abstract gnosis.’ Therefore, a close relationship between kenosis and experiential theology can be noticed, since the fulness of the knowledge of God, which also brings with it the deification of man, is given according to the measure of Godforsakenness that preceded it.

Throughout the historical development of the term ‘theology’ in the understanding of the Fathers, the true nature of theology identifies itself with the way of ascetic perfection, where asceticism becomes the method of experiential theological knowledge. It is this ‘ascetic method’ that primarily distinguishes the theological path of Saint Sophrony the Athonite.

To understand the mystery of divine revelation and of the dogmas, rigorous intellectual research and study is not sufficient. What is needed is the enlightenment granted by the liturgical and ascetic experience which is preserved in the Church as a most precious treasure. According to the teaching of Elder Sophrony, spiritual perfection consists of the harmonious combination of prayer and theology.


1. True Theology according to the Patristic Tradition

2. Theology as a Spiritual State in Saint Sophrony the Athonite

3. Theology as Knowledge of the Mystery of the Ways of Salvation

i. The Gift of Theology as the Fruit of the Sacrament of Obedience

ii. The Three Stages of the Spiritual Life: from the Desert of Divine Chastening to the Land of True Theology

iii. Love for One’s Enemies as the Ultimate Criterion of Theology


Weight 0.123 kg
Dimensions 20.8 × 15 × 0.4 cm

Archimandrite Peter Vryzas



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Stavropegic Monastery of St. John the Baptist


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Archimandrite Peter Vryzas
Archimandrite Zacharias Zacharou

Archimandrite Peter studied theology at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. He began his monastic life at the Monastery of St John the Baptist, Essex in 2001. Since 2019 he has served as the Father Hegumen of the community. Read more…


Theology as a Spiritual State

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