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Protopresbyter Michael Pomazansky
Orthodox dogmatic theology

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Dogmatic systems.

The attempt at a comprehensive exposition of the whole Christian teaching we call a “system

of dogmatic theology.” A complete dogmatic system, very valuable for Orthodox theology,

was compiled in the eighth century by St. John Damascene under the title Exact Exposition of the

Orthodox Faith. In this work, one may say, St. Damascene summed up the whole of the theological

thought of the Eastern Fathers and teachers of the Church up to the eighth century.

Among Russian theologians, the most complete works of dogmatic theology were written in

the nineteenth century by Metropolitan Macarius of Moscow (Orthodox Dogmatic Theology, two

volumes), by Philaret, Archbishop of Chernigov (Orthodox Dogmatic Theology, in two parts), by

Bishop Sylvester, rector of the Kiev Theological Academy (Essay in Orthodox Dogmatic Theology,

With an Historical Exposition of the Dogmas, five volumes), by Archpriest N. Malinovsky

(Orthodox Dogmatic Theology, four volumes, and A Sketch of Orthodox Dogmatic Theology in

two parts), and by Archpriest P. Svietlov (The Christian Teaching of Faith, an Apologetic Exposition).

(These 19th century Russiansystems” of theology have been out of fashion among Orthodox academic

theologians in recent years, and some have criticized them for supposedWestern influences” which they show. This

criticism, while to a certain extent justified, has for the most part been one-sided and unfair, and has led some to a

blind trust in today's Orthodox theologians as being untainted by “Western influence.” The truth of the matter is that

the division of theology into “categories,” its “systematization” (which the present book itself follows) is a rather

modern device borrowed from the West, but as a solely external organization of the subject-matter of theology. Father

Michael himself has elsewhere defended these systems of theology for their usefulness in teaching theology in

the schools against accusations of “scholasticism” which are totally unfair. In intent, these systems are only a 19th

century attempt to do what St. John Damascene did in the 8th century, and no one can deny that the basic content of

these works is Orthodox.)

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