Some Protestant theologians see the Word as the only means of divine revelation. They say it was intended for our intellect. But this is a sign of a person distinct from us rather than one in union with us. This view explains their emphasis on Bible study and their denigration of the sacraments and all that is considered mystical. It is a denial of Orthodox spirituality. This view implies the Word does not have a spiritual task. But we all sense there is more than an intellectual understanding of God. We sense that there is something beyond an intellectual understanding. We seek and yet cannot completely know. The reality is that the Word of God impacts us in a dynamic way. It was intended for the soul and not just the intellect. The Word awakens faith in us. This demonstrates that there is a direct relationship involved between us and the Word. Our Church Fathers do not limit us to only an intellectual dimension of the mind but speak of the "feeling of the mind and our relationship with God."
Every time we celebrate the Dormition of the Mother of God, it’s as if we’re having Easter – the Easter of the summer. Our Lady the Mother of God prepares Easter for us. A glorious crossing “from death to life”. A second Easter, holy spotless, life-giving for the human race, because today “the laws of nature are overcome”.
“How the source of life goes towards life, passing through death”, says Saint John the Damascan. The death of the life-giving Mother of the Lord transcends the concept of death, so that it’s not even called death, but “dormition” and “divine transition” and an emigration and immigration towards the Lord. And even if it’s called death, it’s a life-bringing death, since it transports to a celestial and immortal life.
The transition of the Mother of God, as an indisputable fact preserved by sacred Tradition, has been incorporated into the teaching of the Orthodox Church and has nothing to do with the pietistic beliefs of the Westerners concerning the conception without seed and life without death of the Virgin Mary.
The Virgin was the particular creation of God who surpassed all people and the angels. She is the only mortal ever to have lived a spotless life and to have become what is beyond the understanding of all reasoning beings- the Mother of God. Because she never sinned, never gave in to sensuous thoughts, it was proper that she lived on earth without the pains of the flesh, or illnesses. Even though she had a life-giving body, still, as a human being she was subject to the sickness of death and she did, in fact, die. But her body and soul were not separated from God. For a short time, the connection binding them together was loosed, as was the case with Christ
How does the Eastern Orthodox Church view and articulate the atonement of our Lord? This question arises from many converts to the Eastern Orthodox Church, particularly here in America. Many come to the Eastern Orthodox Church looking to leave behind what they may consider harsh or even terrifying notions of God unleashing His wrath upon His Son on the cross. This can become strained when they then come to see the Orthodox Church, through Her fathers and hymnography, employ the same terms and verbiage as their former tradition. So, does the Eastern Orthodox Church thus employ a Penal Substitution model of the atonement?
In short, no, She does not. How, then, should we properly order these terms, and their application, to properly understand the Church’s teaching on the atonement? A short gloss of the Evangelical concept of Penal Substitution (from here “PSA”) is that God required someone who was equal to Him in rank to satisfy the breaking of His Law, in order that He might remain just and that there be justice. In this view, God pours out His wrath upon Christ, wrath due to us in our sins, and since Christ is equal to God—since He is God—this satisfies the besmirchment of the Law, that first disobedience of Adam.
There are a lot of terms there, all of which are used by the fathers. However, the Eastern Orthodox Church not only understands these terms in a radically different way than do Evangelicals, they are also radically different in their application. Let’s go through each term, one by one.