Archbishop Dmitri and the Dignity of Man

bluebellsdmitri2 The attacks come from two different directions – and the object is the destruction of man. 

This, for me is a short summary of a consistent prophetic word I have heard from Archbishop DMITRI of Dallas for the past 15 years. The Archbishop is set to retire on March 31 of this year. With his retirement, one of the strongest voices for the dignity of man will be heard less often.

For the Archbishop, the only guarantee for the dignity of man is the doctrine of the incarnation – the fact that God became man in the God/man, Christ Jesus. Man is created in the image of God and nothing affirms nor defines this to the same fullness as the incarnation of Christ.

The first attack comes from a culture which seems married to the proposition that human beings are infinitely malleable. We are glorified animals with the nifty ability, through modern technology, to increasingly shape and mold our existence. Genetics holds promise against certain diseases, but it also holds promise for man the consumer, America’s highest definition of the human. We are drawn like a moth to a flame at the thought of designing our children. Perhaps not so concerned with their eyes but certainly concerned to have a “good product.” Some of the fads that promise to make our young ones into Einsteins point to this parental craving. The worth of a child can become dangerously confused with his or her ability to perform.

The second attack comes from within the modern denominations. There, the erosion of the doctrine of the incarnation also erodes the fundamental basis of our Christian doctrine of human worth. If Christ is not the God/man, but merely a good man, then we are merely men and not even so good. Many denominations have lost a sense of any particular value within genders and many have joined the onslaught on the unborn (as well as supporting euthanasia). It can be dangerous to belong to certain denominations.

In it all lurks the modern heresy that man can be remade, if not in the image of God, then at least in the image of a better man. But, of course, if we have to vote on what makes a better man we are truly lost. Hitler had a clear idea of what made a better man, and millions had to die for that idea. Lesser men don’t matter much. And make no mistake, though there was a Christian resistance to Hitler, he had plenty of Christian support. Liberal theology has no true foothold in dogma and cannot resist the fashion of this world.

His Eminence, when he speaks directly about the Orthodox Church, usually does so in the context of this ideological erosion. He has frequently stated that only within the Orthodox Church are the dogmas secure and the place of man properly identified. Only here is the Divinely Given dogma of the God/man safe. Only here is the gospel proclaimed in its fullness, among the last voices that speaks for the dignity of man.

It is ironic that in a world where “humanism” enjoys a positive meaning, that the last true humanists are Orthodox Christians. It’s because our Lord and Maker was the first humanist. “Let us make man in our own image and likeness.”

About Fr. Stephen Freeman

Fr. Stephen is a priest of the Orthodox Church in America, Pastor Emeritus of St. Anne Orthodox Church in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. He is also author of Everywhere Present and the Glory to God podcast series.





11 responses to “Archbishop Dmitri and the Dignity of Man”

  1. david peri Avatar

    I spoke to a Luth woman pastor and the cantor yesterday about Mary and the importance of knowing the incarnation. The theology behind Mary is all about the incarnation. These two was surprised about this because they never heard of it. Yesterday in the Luth church in Finland was the day of Mary and the annunication.

  2. […] Bioethics and modern (protestant) denominations as stress as well. […]

  3. Steven Avatar


    It is always nice to be reminded of the truth about the world and the Truth revealed to us by God! Praise Him!

    For those of us steeped in the Western way of thinking, what might we read (other than On the Incarnation, which I am rereading), hear, or see that helps us understand the importance and depth of the Incarnation, the healing of our humanity?

    “…and they shall call his name Emmanuel…God with us.”

    Amen and Amen.

  4. fatherstephen Avatar

    Possibly Archimandrite Zacharias’ books (they’re easier in many ways than Elder Sophrony’s). The Enlargement of the Heart and The Hidden Man of the Heart, both published by Mount Thabor Publishing.

  5. MaryGail Avatar

    May I strongly recommend Fr. Seraphim Rose’s book Orthodoxy and the Future of Religion. He predicted in great detail the upsurge in apostasty and heresy in American Christianity. It is all unfolding now before our eyes much as he described. His writing is, I believe, completely consistent with Fr. Stephen’s essay’s and what Fr. Stephen describes of Archbishop Dmitri’s thoughts.

  6. Subdeacon Eusebios Avatar

    Certainly C.S. Lewis rightly pointed out these things as well in his small treatise ,”The Abolition of Man”. Unfortunately, much of Christendom outside of Orthodoxy has indeed lost track of the most fundamental issue, the Incarnation. It is so totally foreign to most, it is truly alarming. Let us hope and pray that others amongst the Church’s hierarchy will continue to give voice to the clarion call sounded so well by His Eminence +DMITRI.

  7. Moses Avatar

    It’s quite interesting to note that though we as a Church secure those dogmas, I think we really display them distorted to the world with our lives (perhaps more so in our consumer driven generation). 🙂

  8. fatherstephen Avatar

    There is no idealized period of the Church (including the 1st century – witness Paul’s letters) in which the Church has displayed these doctrines as they should be. Christ is the display, if you will. But without the dogma, we would lose our way and could not even know how poorly we display them.

    Having served elsewhere in my life – I value being somewhere that knows where it should be, and what the “display” ought to be. We don’t have to make it up as we go – we have to repent.

  9. fatherstephen Avatar

    I’m not certain I would call Fr. Seraphim’s writings “predictive,” but rather “observational.” The apostasy had begun long ago. One need only observe the logical outcome of the trends. The same is true of heresy. The last person found guilty of heresy by the Episcopalians was in the 1920’s and he had denied the existence of God and joined the Communist party. Probably got in more trouble for the latter than the former (at the time).

    We do not live in a predictable world, for we only know that we live now, and not at the end of all things – other than the reality that Christ Himself is the end of all things.

    I tend to find the observations of times and seasons and prophecy, etc., to be generally protestant – not that there are no Orthodox examples. As bad as things are, there have been worse times and places. I know the little about repentance day to day and forgiveness of all for everything, etc. But I know little if anything more. I’m not sure I’m supposed to. Pray for those of us who are soon to be without our beloved archbishop. Pray for Met. Jonah as he guides us forward. Give us a man of God, I pray.

  10. Jonathon Avatar

    Wow. I am a bricklayer that works from sunup to sundown, and I only get channel twelve on my tv (it comes in fuzy). I obviously have accsess to the internet (but not a dictionary) Once in a while, I’ll listen to NPR on the way to work, but I guess you could say I’m a little out of the loop. I had no idea we were starting to engineer our own children. The lazy way. We have always tried to teach them to the best of our ability and to make them to be as good as they can be. (well some parents.) But the idea of some guy saying “pull the switch, igor!” and out comes another Einstien is frightening, and sad. It does a diservice to ourselves and our “personhood” (thank you for the simplification on the teaching, Father!)

    Our contries failings are obvious, but I am fortunate to live here. I appreciate all the food and cars and stuff. It comes in handy now and again. I like our medicine, too. I feel useless against this downward spiral of gross abuses. I’m sorry that little more will be heard from Archbishop Dmitri. God’s Will is done.

  11. Stephen Avatar

    In addition to C.S. Lewis’s “The Abolition of Man”, there’s also his third book of the ‘Space Trilogy’, “That Hideous Strength”, which covers some of the same themes, iirc.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe to blog via email

Support the work

Your generous support for Glory to God for All Things will help maintain and expand the work of Fr. Stephen. This ministry continues to grow and your help is important. Thank you for your prayers and encouragement!

Latest Comments

  1. This is a wonderful conversation! Father, thank you for your reply; it is beautiful. I’ll add that I IM’d you…

  2. Thank you Mark, so true! I am wondering if we can learn a lesson from the false predictions of the…

  3. I suppose to explain myself a bit better I would like to say that it seems to me that our…

  4. My latest commute listen is St. Augustine’s “Confessions,” Janine. These folks were indeed the most learned people of their day.…

  5. Indeed, Father, I should introduce that topic into my teaching—lest it be forgotten!

Read my books

Everywhere Present by Stephen Freeman

Listen to my podcast