TABOR - Tradition and Contemporaneity in the Romanian Orthodox Church
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Τhe person as truth in the teaching of Elder Sophrony
The teaching on the person is an important element, in Elder Sophrony’s theology and ascetic life. God-Person is the truth, in contrast to the transcendental concept of God, and man is a person in relation to his salvation and deification. Elder Sophrony used to refer to the person very often and this was a result of his personal search and experience, because in his early youth he sought the super-personal absolute in eastern mysticism; but at a certain point God revealed Himself to him as a person saying, „I am that I am”. This way he reached the theology of the person, as the only Truth, through a revelatory experience. It should also be mentioned that, although he used the term person, he always connected it with hypostasis and talked about God mostly as a hypostasis. Referring to the person-hypostasis, Elder Sophrony stressed three points: first, that God-Person is revealed to man; second, that God’s revelation is related to man’s rebirth; and third, that the person is manifested as love. In Elder Sophrony’s teaching on the person-hypostasis we find some interesting and personal elements included in various terms employed frequently by him, such as „the hypostatic principle”, „the absolute superpersonal”, „the darkness of removal (ἀπεκδύσεως) - darkness of unknowing (ἀγνωσίας)», „suicide on a metaphysical level”, „with a strong scream”, and „the morning of resurrection”. Elder Sophrony would talk and write about the person-hypostasis in God and in man as truth, because for him truth was not a „what”, a thing, a concept, or something impersonal, but „some-one”, a person-hypostasis, and this knowledge is a fruit of revelatory experience. Thus, the person-as-truth is not interpreted philosophically and psychologically but rather in terms of the vision of God and of revelation. This teaching about the person as truth is important, because it is analysed by Elder Sophrony, a God-seer ascetic, who saw God through the hesychast-neptic experience.