THE HOLY FIRE: THE STORY OF THE EARLY CENTURIES OF THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH IN THE NEAR EAST
[Payne reveals] the awesome cost of Christian discipleship and [inspires readers] to plunge head-long, with faith and love, into God's all-consuming fire." — Protopresbyter Thomas Hopko, Dean Emeritus, St Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary
This powerful overview of the theological and spiritual development of the Eastern Christian Church renders the church fathers as flesh and blood servants of Jesus Christ, engaged with the all-consuming fire of grace. Robert Payne explores the lives and writings of ten monumental personages through whose hands passed the spiritual and temporal reins of their world: Clement of Alexandria, Athanasius, Basil the Great, Gregory of Nyssa, Gregory Nazianzen, John Chrysostom, Dionysius the Areopagite, John Damascene, Gregory Palamas, and even Origen-a prolific, influential teacher, though denied a place among the "Fathers" by the Eastern Church.
The author distinguishes these notables as "more incandescent" than the Western Fathers, marked by a fierce devotion to explore the image of God in man, to imitate the divine nature, to restore man to his lost Paradise, and to contemplate ceaselessly the absolute mercy, dominion, divinity, and majesty of the Christ. Their apostolic fire became crystallized into dogma and church order, rather than into individual confessions, despite their intense spiritual experiences. Their zeal to proclaim the gospel so prodigiously, in the face of extreme suffering, caused Life to flow from them, so that their words, their thoughts still live and breath among us in hymns, in prayers, and in the ancient art of holy spaces.
When The Holy Fire first appeared, it was hailed as "a brilliant piece of writing" which brought new life to a crucial period in the history of Christianity. At last available again, the book retains its power to captivate specialist and non-specialist alike.