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Irenaios of Lyon
Against Heresies


Hellenism and Christianity

The teaching of Church on the Devil



(excerpt from the article "NEO-PAGANISM, a threat from the past", which aims at informing the reader about the nature, origins and objectives of the neo-paganistic movement)

During the Hellenistic years and later on, Hellenism was experienced as an idea which expressed global ideals and values. In contrast to the pressurizing globalization of the New Era, Hellenism never asserted its authority over the other peoples but was woven into their values through their own culture. Let us remember, for example, that during the years of Alexander the Great the entire world became a vast expansion of Greece , without meeting any reaction. It is known that many people living in certain regions of the East boast that they are descendants of the great Greek general and look back to that period of time nostalgically, because Hellenism did not destroy their national characteristics but promoted their lives and culture through thought, philosophy and education, in general.

When Christianity made its appearance, nobody could predict its relation with Hellenism. The Greek people found in the Church of Christ what they had been looking for: the truth about God, man, the world. The Church brought forward another reality in relation to the ancient theater, the school of Greek citizens: the Divine Revelation, the image of the Trinitarian God. Its cosmological conditions see the world as a product of the free will of a person, God the Father. This is why the word cosmos (world) implying a God that only adorns and decorates or the impersonal logical power (e.g. the reason of the Stoics) that transposes the universe is not used any more and is replaced with the word creation. If cosmos is born and exists due to and through necessity, creation is born and exists due to and through the freedom and love of God. Creation exists because God wants it to exist, and it will continue to exist if man wants it as well. Adam bears the responsibility as the representative of the creation to utter the big yes or no to God, to say I want or I do not want to live with You. For God, freedom means love, life in an unfailing relation. For Adam of disobedience it meant selfishness , loneliness , death .

The Divine Liturgy, and mainly the Holy Eucharist, is where human freedom is asked to exist in the way of God and man can exist as a free person in the person of Jesus Christ.

In final analysis, the semantic differential of ancient Hellenism from Christianity is nothing more than love (see the European spirit and Greek Orthodoxy, Metropolitan of Pergamos, Ioannnis [Zizioulas], Efthini [Responsibility] magazine, issue 167/1985, page 572). A kind of love, though, which has a specific target, the people, and not love of abstract ideas. Love which is free from any logical cause and effect and not love based on reason. Love which is offered through the cross and not love which asks to receive its due. Finally, love- a way of life of the Trinitarian God and not love- a way of life of a completely lonely person. This is why, the Church, as an expression of this love, essentially differs, despite the similarities, from the Greek polis (city) of the Ancient Greeks. The Church of Christ may be an assembly for a specific purpose, as the Ecclesia, but an assembly not only of free citizens –as in the Church "there are no slaves or freemen", not only of men – as "there are no men or women", not only of Greek citizens –as "there are no Jews or Greeks" or barbarians, not only of human beings, but an assembly of God and human beings.

All these are expressed in an equally overwhelming way, if we compare Christian and Creek art. While the ancient Greek temple focuses on the appearance of the exterior that is seen by the people as an expression of beauty and harmony, the Christian temple (church) is built inwardly. Simple and austere on the outside, it has an unexpectedly rich colored decoration on the inside.

While Greek statues express an intellectual beauty seeking the harmony of body proportions , Christian icons express a spiritual beauty revealing the pure light of the soul watered by the presence of the Holy Spirit. The ideal is not the fit body anymore, but the flesh that has experienced the presence of God through discipline. This is why Christian icons do not refer to an abstract, cold and remote idea but to a reality where death and corruption have been defeated.

This phenomenon, which is called Christianized Hellenism, found its historical realization to the Byzantine Empire that lasted more than 1000 years and created an incomparable culture .

At a period that New Hellenism faces an identity crisis, apart from the technical, heretical and false dilemmas, it is worth remembering that Hellenism was saved through Christianity and Christianity spoke Greek. It is the only way that we, as Greek Christians, will creatively face the pseudo-teaching of neopaganism and "archaeolatry", which aims at tearing down the faith of our Fathers and our cultural background and imposing its own undifferentiating "culture" and, of course, the new pan-religion of modern Babel in which there is no place for Hellenism and Orthodoxy, for people, their lives and their freedom.


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