Economy (religion)

In the Orthodox Church, in Eastern and Latin Catholic churches, [1] and in the teaching of the Church Fathers which undergirds the theology of those communions, economy or oeconomy ( Greek: οἰκονομία, oikonomia) has several meanings. [2] The basic meaning of the word is "handling" or "disposition" or "management" or more literally "housekeeping" of a thing, usually assuming or implying good or prudent handling (as opposed to poor handling) of the matter at hand. In short, economia is discretionary deviation from the letter of the law in order to adhere to the spirit of the law and charity. This is in contrast to legalism, or akribia ( Greek: ακριβεια)—strict adherence to the letter of the law of the church.

As such, the word "economy", and the concept attaching to it, are utilized especially with regard to two types of "handling": (a) divine economy, that is, God's "handling" or "management" of the fallen state of the world and of mankind—the arrangements he made in order to bring about man's salvation after the Fall; and (b) what might be termed pastoral economy (or) ecclesiastical economy, that is, the Church's "handling" or "management" of various pastoral and disciplinary questions, problems, and issues that have arisen through the centuries of Church history.

Divine economy

The divine economy, in the broadest sense, not only refers to God's actions to bring about the world's salvation and redemption, but to all of God's dealings with, and interactions with, the world, including the Creation. In this sense, economy, as used in classical Orthodox doctrinal terminology, constituted the second broad division of all Christian doctrinal teaching. The first division was called theology (literally, "words about God" or "teaching about God") and was concerned with all that pertains to God alone, in himself—the teaching on the Trinity, the divine attributes, and so on, but not with anything pertaining to the creation or the redemption. "...The distinction between οικονομια and θεολογια ... remains common to most of the Greek Fathers and to all of the Byzantine tradition. θεολογια ... means, in the fourth century, everything which can be said of God considered in Himself, outside of His creative and redemptive economy. To reach this 'theology' properly so-called, one therefore must go beyond ... God as Creator of the universe, in order to be able to extricate the notion of the Trinity from the cosmological implications proper to the 'economy.'" [3]

Other Languages
русский: Икономия
српски / srpski: Икономија