This question only asks about "Christians". One high-quality response on that question suggests that the personal relationship idea extends from the Enlightenment. So, in light of that question and answer, do Orthodox Christians believe that God wants a personal relationship with the individual?

I focus on Eastern Orthodoxy, because the Enlightenment is chiefly a Western phenomenon. Because of the geographical barrier between Eastern and Western Europe, I would not expect an Enlightment idea would somehow influence Orthodoxy, unless there is some kind of intense mass communication going on or the personal relationship thing has been with Christianity since the beginning.

So, generally speaking, do Orthodox Christians believe in a personal relationship with God? Why or why not?

1 Answer 1


Here is an exerpt from an article by Fr. Steven Kostoff's (OCA Priest and he is also a member of the adjunct faculty of the theology department at Xavier University in Cincinnati, where he has taught various courses on Orthodox theology) weekly articles on Orthodoxy that does justice to the topic theologically from an Orthodox perspective:

If I am not mistaken, the phrase "a personal God," fairly current in contemporary religious discourse, is meant to say something first about the nature of God, rather than our subjective or "personal" understanding of God. To paraphrase the French philosopher Blaise Pascal, we believe in "the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob," and not the "god of the philosophers." The former is "personal" but the latter is "impersonal." This personal God is the God of the Scriptures Who is love and not the Unmoved Mover of the Greek philosophers. The God who reveals/shows/manifests Himself to persons so that a conscious and living relationship, ultimately based on faith, hope and love can be created, sustained, and ever deepened. A "personal God" means that God is concerned about, and engaged with the world and human persons. God cares about our lives and our destinies. "Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground without your Father's will. But even the hairs of your head are numbered." (MATT. 10:29-30) As the Russian elder, Macarius of Optina put it: "To hold the faith does not only mean that we believe God to be our Creator. It also means that we recognize His unceasing and detailed attention to our good .."

A "personal God" is not the God who remains aloof from the world, as if God is a cosmic clockmaker, who wound up the universe and now allows it to "run" on its own inherent laws free of providential care and engagement. (That would be the "God" of deism, the belief of many of the Founding Fathers of our country). "For God so loved the world ..." could only be said of a personal God concerned about the direction and destiny of the world - a world that exists because God "loved" it into existence. God desires that we will all be saved "and come to the knowledge of the truth." (I TIM. 2:4) This is the God that we worship in the Liturgy and that we pray to in our homes "in secret." We then extend our belief in "a personal God" to our "subjective" and "personal" relationship with God, based on the faith that we can "know" God in His self-revelation. That means through the Son of God and the Holy Spirit. Every human being has the potential to have a "personal" relationship" with the "personal" God of Christian revelation. One can believe that an impersonal deity exists, but one cannot relate to such a "God." We thus return to my initial point that the term "a personal God" is meant primarily to tell us something about the nature of God, and then by extension about our relationship with God. It does not mean a God that we "create' through our personal ideas or musings. At least that is how I understand the term as commonly used in contemporary religious discourse.

Full article: http://holycrossoca.org/newslet/0807.html

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    Could you maybe summarize this in your own words? One of the major goals of Stack Exchange is to create content that can be freely shared under the CC-BY-SA license. A long quote does not fulfill that goal because the content will remain under the copyright of the person who wrote it.
    – ThaddeusB
    Commented Nov 6, 2015 at 15:55
  • An Orthodox theologian at a Catholic university! Cool!
    – Double U
    Commented Nov 14, 2015 at 21:56

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