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For the Life of the World

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Of what life do we speak, what life do we preach, proclaim, and announce when, as Christians, we confess that Christ died for the life of the world?

In For the Life of the World Alexander Schmemann suggests an approach to the world and life within it, which stems from the liturgical experience of the Orthodox Church. He understands issues such as secularism and Christian culture from the perspective of the unbroken experience of the Church, as revealed and communicated in her worship, in her liturgy—the sacrament of the world, the sacrament of the Kingdom.

For over half a century For the Life of the World has challenged, illumined, and inspired readers from many backgrounds. For some it is an introduction to the Orthodox Church, while for others it is a call to plunge more deeply into the life of the Kingdom, both manifested and anticipated here and now in the liturgy of the Church. This updated edition of Schmemann’s classic text includes a new foreword by Dr Edith M. Humphrey, along with new explanatory notes and an index.

Resource Experts
  • Provides an introduction to the Orthodox Church
  • Explores the liturgical experience of the Orthodox Church
  • Examines topics including liturgy, sacraments, and worship

Top Highlights

“In our perspective, however, the ‘original’ sin is not primarily that man has ‘disobeyed’ God; the sin is that he ceased to be hungry for him and for him alone, ceased to see his whole life depending on the whole world as a sacrament of communion with God. The sin was not that man neglected his religious duties. The sin was that he thought of God in terms of religion, i.e., opposing him to life. The only real fall of man is his non-eucharistic life in a non-eucharistic world. The fall is not that he preferred the world to God, distorted the balance between the spiritual and material, but that he made the world material, whereas he was to have transformed it into ‘life in God,’ filled with meaning and spirit.” (Pages 25–26)

“Nowhere in the New Testament, in fact, is Christianity presented as a cult or as a religion. Religion is needed where there is a wall of separation between God and man. But Christ who is both God and man has broken down the wall between man and God.14 He has inaugurated a new life, not a new religion.” (Page 27)

“Man lost the eucharistic life, he lost the life of life itself, the power to transform it into Life. He ceased to be the priest of the world and became its slave.” (Pages 24–25)

“reduce to a symbolic ‘minimum’ what in the past was so tremendously central in the life of the Church—the joy of a feast” (Page 66)

“not of the Church as being itself the sacrament of Christ’s presence and action” (Pages 28–29)

Alexander Schmemann (13 September 1921 – 13 December 1983) was a prominent 20th century Orthodox Christian priest, teacher, and writer. Schmemann was born in Tallinn (Reval) Estonia to Russian émigrés. His family moved to France, where he received his university education. He married Juliana Osorguine in 1943, before completing his theological studies at the Orthodox Theological Institute of St.


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