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These letters of the two Old Men of Gaza - the "Great Old Man" Barsanuphius, and the "Other Old Man" John - were written to hermits, to monks in the community, to those in the choir, to priests, and to lay persons. Some were intended for advanced instruction, while others were intended for novices according to the capacity of the inquirer. These questions and answers evoke the image of the Christian tradition being passed from elder to disciple, and the contemporary reader will be able to appreciate the method - and possibly be inspired to imitate the message.
Bishop Kallistos Ware shows the meaning of Orthodox doctrine for the life of the individual Christian. Doctrinal issues are seen not as abstract propositions for theological debate but as affected the whole of life.
The author states that "freedom carries with it the ultimate possibility of taking precisely this risk: that man should deny his own existential truth and authenticity, and alienate and distort his existence, his being." Morality reveals what man is in principle, as the image of God, but also what he becomes through the adventure of his freedom: a being transformed, or "in the likeness of God."
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