The Freedom of the Person

The Freedom of the Person


Protopresbyter Efstratios Karatsoulis


The issue of freedom is of great importance in the Orthodox view of humankind. According to this, people are made to be free. Freedom is the result of the fact that we’re made in the image of God and have the opportunity and potential to use our independent power to reach the state of being in the likeness of God. This isn’t an innate potential, but is effected through grace, through our encounter with God.

Freedom in Orthodox theology isn’t a free decision made from among a variety of choices. Real freedom is the transcendence of choices, of necessity, of corruptibility and sin. We experience real freedom when we’re removed from the passions that bind and restrict us. Our ontological freedom begins initially with our withdrawal from and severance of the passions, with our interaction with the uncreated energies of God and with our encounter with Christ. In Orthodox tradition, freedom isn’t an idea, but a person. And this person is none other than the Person of Christ.

People are free to follow the road to Christ and His Kingdom. In the spiritual life, our freedom plays a defining role in our salvation. In the sacrament of confession, the spiritual guide doesn’t exercise authority, doesn’t impose and doesn’t give orders. He or she respects the personal freedom and particular personality of each of their spiritual children. Real parentage isn’t sadistic, but sacrificial, and the more the parents reduce their own personality, the greater the benefit to those in their care. The selfless presence of a spiritual guide who doesn’t impose but is a constructive force is what is required in a spiritual relationship.

Such spiritual guides aren’t interested in acquiring some form of mechanical obedience, but rather they attempt to bring their spiritual children to spiritual maturity, so that they can decide for themselves. Spiritual guides help people to uncover their deeper self and, by the Grace of the Holy Spirit, to overcome narrow human boundaries and to attain salvation. It’s the combination of our freedom and Divine Grace that brings us salvation. Neither Divine Grace without our cooperation, nor our efforts without the aid of the Holy Spirit will bring us to salvation. Our freedom and responsibility as independent factors in the task of our salvation are to be understood in this context.

Freedom is an internal state bound up with the truth and has no connection at all with external alternative free choices and opportunities. Carl Rogers understood that the freedom of Western culture is unproductive and limits us to choosing between certain alternative solutions and choices all the time. His own stance was that real freedom is the opportunity for us to choose whatever we really want at any time and in any circumstances. He called this internal existential freedom. This freedom gives us the courage to discover areas previously unknown to us and to make new revelations about ourselves and the world. It also gives us the opportunity to discover the meaning of life within ourselves.




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OCN has partnered with Pemptousia. A Contemporary post-modern man does not understand what man is.  Through its presence in the internet world, Pemptousia, with its spirit of respect for beauty that characterizes it, wishes to contribute to the presentation of a better meaning of life for man, to the search for the ontological dimension of man, and to the awareness of the unfathomable mystery of man who is always in Christ in the process of becoming, of man who is in the image of divine beauty. And the beauty of man springs from the beauty of the Triune God. In the end, “beauty will save the world”.

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Pemptousia Partnership

Pemptousia and OCN have entered a strategic partnership to bring Orthodoxy Worldwide. Greek philosophers from Ionia considered held that there were four elements or essences (ousies) in nature: earth, water, fire and air. Aristotle added ether to this foursome, which would make it the fifth (pempto) essence, pemptousia, or quintessence. The incarnation of God the Word found fertile ground in man’s proclivity to beauty, to goodness, to truth and to the eternal. Orthodoxy has not functioned as some religion or sect. It was not the movement of the human spirit towards God but the revelation of the true God, Jesus Christ, to man. A basic precept of Orthodoxy is that of the person ­– the personhood of God and of man. Orthodoxy is not a religious philosophy or way of thinking but revelation and life standing on the foundations of divine experience; it is the transcendence of the created and the intimacy of the Uncreated. Orthodox theology is drawn to genuine beauty; it is the theology of the One “fairer than the sons of men”. So in "Pemptousia", we just want to declare this "fifth essence", the divine beaut in our life. Please note, not all Pemptousia articles have bylines. If the author is known, he or she is listed in the article above.