Greek Christianity of the Byzantine period may be characterized as restrained within certain traditional and ecclesiastical parameters. Given that the religious and political history of Byzantium was very different from that of the Latin West, it is not surprising that the Byzantine Church came to see itself as the true guardian of Christian belief and practice. This is also the case in relation to the Oriental Orthodox. It was always ambivalent about its classical Greek heritage, never completely in harmony with it (for obviously reasons) and yet never completely rejecting it. This tension is apparent in its use of philosophical vocabulary to explain theological truths, and in its condemnation of those who appeared to promote secular humanism at the expense of the Christian world view.

The utilization of the patristic method of theological discourse provided it with a dynamic source of renewal and replenishment which never succumbed to scholasticism on the one hand, or other-worldly mysticism on the other. It attempted to maintain a balance between excessive rationalism and unarticulated rapture, and on the whole it achieved this. Byzantine Christianity was able to articulate its religious faith through sound (liturgy) and sight (iconography) as well as through texts, to produce an integrated world view that sustained it over one thousand years of change and development. Christianity in Byzantium was an imperial religion, and although the relationship between Church and state was not always clear or convivial, it did at least provide a sense of destiny for the Greek people. That sense of destiny was in turn passed on to the Slav nations to the north, who continued to promote the idea that a Christian state was a realizable ideal.

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