Monday, November 28, 2016

Hesychasm, a Prerequisite for Expressing Theology. Defending Romanides.


Among those who claim to be Orthodox but do not fully understand the Orthodox phronima or hesychastic life, some parts of Orthodox theology may continue to be quite challenging for them. In recent times, this has been most especially true for some Orthodox Christians grappling with the works of Fr. John Romanides. Everything Fr. John Romanides wrote concerning theology was informed from his intimate participation in neptic hesychia. Those who find pleasure engaging in intellectual discourse regarding Orthodox theology will eventually run into problems when trying to digest the theology of the Church expressed by Fr. John.

All that really needs said to these, whom I shall keep nameless, is summed up in this quote by St. Gregory Palamas:
"My own God-bearing Father, Isaac the Syrian, writes not to receive the teaching of a philosopher on the subject of Hesychasm."
By philosopher, we do not only include those with degrees in philosophy from the universities. From the patristic testimony, a philosopher can be anyone who speaks using their imagination (wittingly or unwittingly) to create rational arguments for informing theology (in our case) instead of a hesychast using revelation of God to their nous to create rational arguments for expressing theology. The utilization of patristic quotes is irrelevant in this regard.

There are many scholars, intellectuals, philosophers, bloggers and arm-chair theologians who claim to have insight into theology and therefore are able to correct a hesychast. The Orthodox who do this are closer to followers of the Papacy and scholasticism i.e. Barlaamites rather than the Faith confessed by St. Gregory Palamas. They have been formed by Western culture, society, education, and values. Western culture being built on scholasticism, it is no surprise at the struggle for the Orthodox Christian raised in the West to break free of these things.

For the undiscerning, these folks can be very difficult to identify. They may write plenty about scholasticism either in favor of it or how it was hurtful to the West and foreign to the Orthodox Faith. They may have an accurate and well-informed understanding of scholasticism. However, once you get underneath the surface it can be shown that they use all the assumptions, methods, and the same phronima as the Scholastics (regardless whether they claim to favor or reject scholasticism). In a sense, they are using scholasticism to criticize scholasticism. In this sense, scholasticism is the same as a philosopher identified above. One who couples his rational mind with his imagination (wittingly or unwittingly) to inform the Faith, either for himself or for others. How can one know it is done unwittingly? It contradicts the Faith as expressed by hesychasts. Now a single hesychast is not infallible, of course. But they are in a much more appropriate position to express theology than anyone who is not a hesychast. And while a hesychast is in a state of theosis, he is experiencing infallible theology. 

Coming back to Romanides, many seem to quickly target his activities in school and in the Ecumenical movement. There is no substance to the Ecumenical movement argument seeing that the Orthodox had problems with it only after it turned into something other than the original stated objectives. In regard to his schooling and seeming attraction to authors such as Barth, and possibly others, his accusers never look at his family life and especially the life of his mother, Gerontissa Evlampia Romanides. He did not have a typical Western upbringing, while living in the West. Just a quick browsing of his home-life, his attachment to heychastic monastics would reveal how this impacted him while he tried to impact Orthodox circles that were lacking this needful influence. Knowing these aspects of his life would immediately raise suspicion at some of these accusations thrown at Fr. John.

So what are some of the specific accusations given to this hesychast scholar that the non-hesychasts philosophers seek to point out?

  • He was blindly prejudice against Augustine and the West. Instead of trying to understand this tradition he attacked it with vitriol. His scholarship had this agenda and lacked any intellectual curiosity and Christian charity.
  • His scholarship was a product of the West and relied on Barth in some places, thereby forsaking the Orthodox Tradition.
(How can these both be true?)

  • He was committed to Greece's radical right wing party.
  • He was a Marxist leftist.
(How can these also both be true?)

  • Rejects the use of analogy in Orthodox theology.
    • He rejected not only Thomistic and Platonic analogy but the use of all analogy in Orthodox expression.
    • It is argued he takes an extreme stance on the axiom that between the uncreated and created there is no similarity.
    • He is accused of basically rejecting cataphatic theology.
  • He was an modernist and ecumenist.
    • Believed the Monophysites were Orthodox
    • Participated in the World Council of Churches (WCC)
    • He accepted modernism over biblical traditions (eg. science overrides biblical claims and higher criticism informs us on the inspiration of biblical books) and doubted Scriptural inspiration.
  • Concerning the logoi:
    • He denies they have any existence in the Mind of God.
    • He denies they are archetypal ideas.
    • He denies they even exist since he takes an extreme stance on the point there is no similarity between uncreated and created.
Fr. John's students are not even immune from criticism.
  • While they accept his notion of no difference between the created and uncreated, they value his writings.
  • They use intellectual definitions of hesychasm as a cloak to defend his writings and can not rely on their own experience to validate his words.
  • They are not serious scholars following a very bad scholar.
A number of people have written at length on these accusations using many patristic quotations to validate their opinion. But I reiterate the main point I want to stress by St. Gregory Palamas:
"My own God-bearing Father, Isaac the Syrian, writes not to receive the teaching of a philosopher on the subject of Hesychasm."
One needs to understand the man, Fr. John Romanides, to realized these accusations are weak and totally misguided. One needs to understand his life, his attachments, and his vision. His accusers are extracting pieces of his writing to position themselves as better informed theologically than Fr. John the hesychast. Many of his quotes are taken out of the context of his audience, historical circumstance, and real purpose for writing. If this was not bad enough, I find his accusers are taking quotes out of context without even realizing what the rest of his sentence states (they even quote the whole sentence but the words do not even penetrate their blindness to posture themselves in a more exalted stature).


Fr. John Romanides as a man was from a Cappadocian family that retained its culture and he was grateful all his life for this kind of upbringing and formation. Although living in America they family was engaged in American life but Cappadocian at home. I, again, invite people to read the life of Fr. John's mother, here. After his whole childhood in this ancient culture, he later became very active in prestigious schools but never forsake his family's heritage. He viewed his education and performed all his academic contributions were executed through a Cappadocian lens. Fr. John is making a unique contribution to scholarship for us. He is starting with the Orthodox Faith and trying to build a bridge for the scholarly world to see things more like the Romaic understanding for the Western world. The scholarly world then sees Fr. John's bridge and can properly understand Orthodox Fathers, Orthodox Culture, Orthodox Politics, Orthodox Worldviews, etc. etc. We see him acting as this bridge himself in many situations; this includes little things like advising the President of the United States on the situation in Serbia, to large things like participation in "ecumenical" dialogues. Because he acted in this way, he was persecuted all his life for either being a sell out for Westernism or being a backwards and primitive Orthodox Christian. Those worked with him closely say neither of those is an accurate portrayal of him and his work. Therefore, his accusers who do not know him are speaking out of bias and ignorance when they say such things.

Now some see his writings to have a fiery attribute. Many do not see this. It is interesting that some of the claims actually trigger many who see this in his writings. My question is, what upsets them so much? It is curious that some, who read his works without any honesty towards Fr. John's points, get furious and seek to attack the man. Again, these do not even know anything about him except the few of his words in front of them. Fr. John Romanides' whole life was a great task to explain Orthodoxy to the West after such a long period of (centuries of) Western influences on Orthodoxy and no contribution from Orthodoxy to the West. It is not enough for his accusers to reject his contributions they must attack the man. It is a sad thing.


The politics of Fr. John are probably the most humorous of the accusations hurled at him. Fr. John at one point expresses that it might be better if there were more leftist Marxists in Greece.
"I believe that it is a great tragedy — not an Aeschylean one, but a shameful one — that there are no powerful intellectual Marxists in Greece."
       -- "Orthodoxy and Religion" from Patristic Theology by Fr. John Romanides
When accused as a Communist, it was dismissed as a false accusation and he gained his position at the University of Thessaloniki where he eventually received his pension.

At the same time he ran for office in the right-wing anti-junta royalist party. To approach Fr. John from a right-wing royalist and left-wing marxist perspective means one, again, does not really understand the man and in addition has only a superficial grasp on his writings and work. This accusation was fully addressed here.

Fr. John held a Romaic political view all his life. He believed there should be royalty, but that the royalty should be elected (in the way Romans came to power) and not hereditary (in the way Franks held on to power). He was truly held an ancient political philosophy and criticized or praised any modern political theory from this perspective.


One of the most complex accusations would be the use of analogy by Fr. John, or rather, his insistence on the disuse of it. To be sure, the Fathers, especially the Cappadocian Fathers, made a point on the proper use of analogy when utilizing it for theologizing about God.

"There is a similarity of names between things human and things divine, revealing nevertheless underneath this sameness a wide difference of meanings."
       -- Gregory of Nyssa, Contra Eunomium (NPNF V). p. 93.
"The ultimate division of all that exists is made by the line between ‘created’ and ‘uncreated,’ the one being regarded as a cause of what has come into being, the other as coming into being thereby. Now the created nature and the Divine essence being thus divided, and admitting no intermixture in respect of their distinguishing properties, we must by no means conceive both by means of similar terms, nor seek in the idea of their nature for the same distinguishing marks in things that are thus separated."
       --  Gregory of Nyssa, Contra Eunomium (NPNF V). p. 209.
“...the word to know has many meanings. We say that we know the greatness of God, His power, His wisdom, His goodness, His providence over us, and the justness of His judgment; but not His very essence. The question is, therefore, only put for the sake of dispute. For he who denies that he knows the essence does not confess himself to be ignorant of God, because our idea of God is gathered from all the attributes which I have enumerated.”
       -- St. Basil, Letter 234
St. Gregory Palamas even used analogy. It is very easy to take Fr. John's emphasis on the axiom "between the created and uncreated there is no similarity whatsoever" and use it to make the point the Fr. John rejects all use of analogy. It is rather ridiculous carry it this far. With all things Orthodox, there is a certain line you do not cross because it become the realm of heresy. It seems silly to have to point out that there was a certain line in the thought of Fr. John where his insistence to not use analogy did not cross. It would be interesting to see his homilies from his time as a parish priest at Newport, New Hampshire and Arlington and Haverhill, Massachusetts. To say he rejected all analogy, even the analogy the Fathers used is as consistent as saying he was a hypocrite because he wrote books about God. We enter into the realm of the absurd when claiming Fr. John rejects all analogical tools. So what was Fr. John really doing and seeing that his accusers do not realize?

Fr. John was doing two things. One, he is being consistent with the Church in rejecting Platonism; two, he is reasserting the proper Orthodox approach to both cataphatic and apophatic theology. Again, this is one of the many ways which he continually was trying to build a bridge to have Orthodox contribute authentically to the West and also allow scholarship to interact with Orthodoxy as expressed in its own terms and characteristics.

Concerning the first, the explicitly analyzing the tool of analogy in the ancient and medieval world, this was almost entirely worked in the Platonic framework. If analogy was being used in theology or philosophy, you were talking about Platonism. One was hardly ever separated from the other. This is not explicit in a number of works from the times but on careful observation it becomes self-evident in almost all manuscripts. The exception was when the Orthodox Fathers refuted Plato or analogy. They said "yes, we use analogy but to explain the energies of God that are formless" They used the language of the Neoplatonists in a way where the philosophers understood the Christians were rejecting Platonism. Fr. John stuck with tradition. He did not approach this question from a Papal/Protestant point of view where he can say whatever he wants because he is outside a tradition. No, in the tradition of the Church, analogy was seen as a philosophical tool of the Neoplatonists and apophatic theology was the main instrument of the Church, which was made clear in many discussions and councils between the Church and the post-schism West during the time of St. Gregory Palamas and St. Mark of Ephesus.

This brings us to number two, Fr. John was admirably taking upon himself of taking not only the theology of the Church from out of Western influences but its methods. Western influences in Orthodox theology not only affected doctrinal points but how one approaches theology. I.e. an increased use of scholasticism and that which followed it. Fr. John was pressing intensely and extremely hard the use of apophatic theology as the natural and common theology of the Church. To put it one way. The synthesis was cataphatic theology, it is what everyone used as common theology. Fr. John made (in some cases) and extreme form (but not erroneous) of apophatic theology. The desired outcome would be theology that favored or leaned towards apophaticism rather than cataphaticism. While it may be unsettling for Fr. John to say things like "God is not a personal God. In fact, God is not even God", one has to not play the popular "Gotcha" game and see what he is trying to accomplish here. It appears he is attacking the idea of modern personalism, about which probably all of his accusers remain clueless. Also, he is stressing his hesychastic experiences to make the point that the Orthodox need to return to the viewpoint of apophatic theology. This quotation of his in particular is profound and no one should listen to anyone's commentary on this who are outside the experience of hesychia.

Fr. John points out Western scholars such as William Ockham or Barth that follow his line of thinking and thinks this is to these scholars merit. The accusers use this to point out his lack of Orthodoxy. But again, it is ridiculous, he was raised a Cappadocian by a godly mother. He is influenced by and repeats the thoughts of St. Paul and St. John Chrysostom when he rejects analogy or says the words of the Bible are useful to a point. St. Paul and St. John Chrysostom are his influences and Fr. John elaborates. When he comes across Ockham or Barth who almost understand this, he mentions them favorably because he is not a radical.


This brings us to the point that Fr. John was not a modernist or ecumenist.

Fr. John's perspective with the Monophysites was an evolving one. If one behaves carelessly (which all who give this accusation do) and does not look at his positions in a chronological manner, then one can jump to the conclusion that he thought the Monophysites were Orthodox. Fr. John, like many even today, believed that the Coptics were using words in a way which could be interpreted as Orthodox, but their tradition insisted on non-Chalcedonian vocabulary. As he engaged in dialogue with the Monophysite leaders and representatives and understood their positions better. After the ecumenical discussions, he soon realized it was more hopeless than he initially thought. He learned that their was a much larger chasm between our traditions and the Monophysites had a significant amount of conversion to be had before communion with the Church of the True Faith. To be specific, a few of his early articles were published in the '80s and '90s on his initial thoughts on union with the non-Chalcedonians which were episodes from the year 1959 though 1964. Those can be found here and here. Yet, in the middle of all the madness, Fr. John Romanides was actually the only remaining Orthodox Christian in the room standing opposed to the ecumenical machinations and disdain for the true Faith. This occurred in the years 1970 though 1971. You can read about his valiant steadfastness here.

While Fr. John participated in the WCC, those who hold it against him clearly know nothing about his views on it and dishonor his contribution by calling him an ecumenist. The dialogues between the Church's was a tiring of such gruesome conflict and often bloody for centuries between the factions in "Christendom" and the Orthodox Church. Again, Fr. John's goal was to provide the invaluable contribution of the Orthodox Church to these discussions. The ecumenical meetings were a result of Christian institutions getting exhausted from all the conflict and seeking better relationships. The first ecumenical meetings were simply discussions. When the WCC got in the picture things deteriorated. Romanides told his co-workers that the WCC is a protestant gathering trying to control everyone. You can read a little bit about it that Fr. John put into writing here. In no way would Fr. John still advocate participation. The Protestants in the organization were not really interested in the truth of the Orthodox Faith but rather control of the Orthodox Church, among others. With these realizations, Fr. John believed that the Orthodox had not business remaining in the WCC and should withdraw from the discussions.

Many do not understand Fr. John's approach to science and the Bible. Some dismiss his approach as modernist but his accusers do not fully understand his position. He is accused of accepting the belief that Genesis is a Babylonian myth. Some also are offended when Fr. John teaches on the limits of Scripture in the life of communion with God. Concerning Genesis and Babylonian cosmology, Fr. John never once teaches that Genesis is simply Babylonian myths. Fr. John does say Genesis uses a Babylonian cosmology (or a Babylonian way of understanding the cosmos), which it does.  Readers of his works do not actually read him. They carelessly skip words and argue from half-sentences.  In this example, his accusers have in front of them this: "The cosmology of the Old Testament, as regards expression and formulation, is influenced by the Babylonian cosmology of that age." But they somehow read it as this: "The cosmology of the Old Testament, as regards expression and formulation, is influenced by the Babylonian [myths] of that age." Read the actual words folks. This is not liberal biblical hermeneutics. This is just proper contextualization.

Concerning the limits of Scripture, this has to do with the use of created words. This understanding has always been known in the Church, was first expressed by St. Paul the Apostle, and elaborated by the saints (notably St. John Chrysostom).
"How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter" (II Corinthians 12:4 KJV).
"It were indeed meet for us not at all to require the aid of the written Word, but to exhibit a life so pure, that the grace of the Spirit should be instead of books to our souls, and that as these are inscribed with ink, even so should our hearts be with the Spirit. But, since we have utterly put away from us this grace, come, let us at any rate embrace the second best course.
"For that the former was better, God hath made manifest,both by His words, and by His doings. Since unto Noah, and unto Abraham, and unto his offspring, and unto Job, and unto Moses too, He discoursed not by writings, but Himself by Himself, finding their mind pure. But after the whole people of the Hebrews had fallen into the very pit of wickedness, then and thereafter was a written word, and tables, and the admonition which is given by these.
"And this one may perceive was the case, not of the saints in the Old Testament only, but also of those in the New. For neither to the apostles did God give anything in writing, but instead of written words He promised that He would give them the grace of the Spirit: for 'He,' saith our Lord, 'shall bring all things to your remembrance.' And that thou mayest learn that this was far better, hear what He saith by the Prophet: 'I will make a new covenant with you, putting my laws into their mind, and in their heart I will write them,' and, 'they shall be all taught of God.' And Paul too, pointing out the same superiority, said, that they had received a law “not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart.'
"But since in process of time they made shipwreck, some with regard to doctrines, others as to life and manners, there was again need that they should be put in remembrance by the written word."
       -- St. John Chrysostom's First Homily on the Gospel according to St. Matthew, 1 
St. Paul the Apostle and St. John Chrysostom  made Romanides' claims about Scripture long before anything similar to the claims made by Barth who was less influence on him than the two formerly mentioned saints. To idolize words seems the only position Orthodox Christians know how to operate when they do not really understand hesychasm from either experience relationships with those who do experience it. To doubt that Fr. John believed in the inspiration of Scripture is nonsensical. However, the Orthodox Church see this differently than other traditions and this is what he sought to explain. He did deny the inspiration of Scripture as the West understood it, but he understood it in an Orthodox manner. He wrote on this topic specifically.


For the first time, I recently saw an attack on how Fr. John understand the logoi. This is a very strange attack because Fr. John saw the uncreated logoi since he was a hesychast and the accuser from which this came is a recent convert (therefore it is very likely he is initiated in hesychia if at all). It is such a ridiculous accusation I did not think to give it another thought. However, the visceral and triggering that has curiously been prompted in the accuser is damaging the reputation of Fr. John Romanides among others who do not know better.

Again, the key to this accusation is Fr. John's attempt to emphasize apophatic theology again as the natural position for the Orthodox over the new emphasis in cataphatic theology that has occurred since the Church's Western captivity. With that let's address these accusations: (1) Fr. John is condemned for denying the logoi have any existence in the Mind of God. (2) He denies they are archetypal ideas. (3) He denies they even exist since he takes an extreme stance on the point there is no similarity between uncreated and created.

The position that the Fr. John (let alone the whole Orthodox Church) denies that the logoi have existence in the Mind of God is not unusual, the accusation is unusual. It is a purely Platonic position. Not just the vocabulary of Platonism, but the position itself. The Orthodox do not speak of the "mind of God" in its theology. This is Gnosticism. The Ecumenical Councils speak of essence, energy, hypostasis, and will.

Fr. John does deny the archetypal ideas in the Platonic sense. But not in the sense of St. Maximos. When talking about archetypes, there is such important nuance one has to understand relating to what words are actually being used (English translations make this difficult) and the context which is being used. Look at the above quotes from the Cappadocian Fathers. They are making the point that they start with a dissimilarity between the uncreated and created then go on to make a new analogy of how best to speak of unspeakable things. Those who think the Platonic archetypes is an Orthodox belief are gravely mistaken. These accusers do not know the subject matter of what they read. When the Fathers are addressing philosophy they reject Platonic ideas. If they talk about a Platonic idea, such as goodness, then they make a point to distinguish Orthodox Christian theology and experience from philosophy by mentioning that they are "formless" (denying the philosophical assumptions) or from is an energy of God, or radiating from His essence (as opposed to speaking of the "mind" of God). The followers of Fr. John make up much of the voice in the Church for the closer attention and performance of the service of the Synodikon on the Sunday of Orthodoxy. Fr. John knew the Synodikon well so rejected the Platonic archetypal ideas. From the Synodikon:
"To them who of themselves refashion creation by means of mythical fabrications and accept the Platonic ideas as veritable, saying that matter, being self-subsistent, is given form by these ideas, and who thereby clearly calumniate the free will of the Creator Who brought all things into being out of non-being and Who, as Maker, established the beginning and end of all things by His authority and sovereignty,
"Anathema (3)"
Many in the ancient world tried to fit the newly proclaimed Christian message to platonic thought. That is, they tried to take the preaching of the truth and conform it to the worldview in which they were raised. This was the problem of the heretics and other philosophers that had to eventually be condemned (especially Origen). The accusers do not pay attention to the subjects of the Father's writings. Are we talking about a false platonic god, or the true God of Orthodox theology; within which framework are we operating? That is a question if asked Fr. John's accusers would not have considered when reading the Fathers. The Fathers do occasionally give a proper understanding of analogy or cataphatic theology. St. Maximos is a saint highly esteemed who writes in the Platonic language. However, the key difference between his writings and the writings of others is he starts with revelation and adapts Platonic vocabulary to fit his experience of theoria. Philosophers do not do this. St. Dionysius mentions how we understand analogy and the use of words to describe God. But it is in the context of his main theme. Making this point using St. Dionysios is to ignore the entire corpus of the rest of his writings. That God dwells behind a divine darkness. St. Dionysios is also starting with revelation.

Some accusers also say that Fr. John would really have to admit that the logoi does not exist since he takes an extreme stance on the axiom of no similarity between the uncreated and created. The mistake that this accusation makes is to see the logoi as a type of analogy instead of that deposit of energy which comes from God and leads the creature back to God. I can not stress enough that this is not how the logoi are properly understood in Orthodox fashion. The accusers do not go so far to say that the logoi is not energy but it is incumbent upon them to deny that the logoi is an uncreated energy of God. This truth that the logoi is an uncreated energy is only given lip service. The accusation only looks at this truth as a means of analogy to satisfy the pleasure of their opinions and not to see the movement the soul makes by the vehicle of the logoi. Fr. John is right when he says there is no similarity between the logoi and created ideas, because this is what the experience of the hesychats reveals to them. Words fall short of the experience. Again, it comes down to this, while cataphatic theology is used and analogy is used even with the logoi, Fr. John is trying to shift the Orthodox emphasis back to apophatic theology. This is one of his main objectives and he remained insistent and steadfast on that position.

To get the proper context on Fr. John's teaching concerning the uncreated creative and sustaining energy, see here and here.


These accusations simply come down to a careless evaluation of Fr. John Romanides works and an irrational attachment to philosophy. If one would simply study the life of Fr. John, examine the whole of his works, the order in which they were produced, and read what he is actually saying, then you will see a tapestry of the most patristic scholar of the 20th century pushing the Church as much as he can towards an Orthodox theology that is unapologetically expressed on its own terms. This goal was for the normalization of the Church's language and as a precious gift for the West.

Fr. John was a persecuted man. He was persecuted all his life and only after death did people realize what he was trying to do. However, his accusers are still out there. However, among his accusers will be no saints. Among his supporters are a number of saints. This is because the hesychasts recognize the experience which Fr. John gives to his readers. The hesychats realize the shortcoming of words and analogy.

To quote this passage of St. Gregory Palamas one more time is important. It is a diagnosis of a wider problem which the accusations against Fr. John are only a symptom. In this quote philosopher means anyone using their rational mind (logos) not under the discipline of hesychasm to receive knowledge from the nous in the heart and instead draw upon their imagination to theologize. St. Gregory says:
"My own God-bearing Father, Isaac the Syrian, writes not to receive the teaching of a philosopher on the subject of Hesychasm."
Glory to God for all things. 

Friday, November 4, 2016

Our rulers are possessed by demons.

WARNING: This post contains some disturbing images.

Over the course of a year, we have seen many satanic practices come to the light that are front and center of politics and society. The powers of darkness are real, most Christians forget how active they work to destroy our souls. Or due to the modern Christians fragility, sensitivity, and acedia, they choose to ignore it.
"For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high [places]" (Eph 6:12 KJV).
The Backstory of the Paris Attacks
At the end of 2015 we saw a devastating attack by jihadists in Paris. But it went unreported what was going on at the concert when the shooting occurred... From the Orthodox Heritage, here:
The symbolism assumed a new dimension when the perpetrators started firing on the audience of a performance by the band "Eagles of Death Metal" of its popular tune "Kiss the Devil."
A series of images taken moments before the massacre started, members of the audience are seen making the hand sign used for devil worship, their index and little finger lifted in preparation for singing along with the lurid lyrics:
Who’ll love the Devil?
Who’ll sing his song?
Who will love the Devil and his song?
I’ll love the Devil
I’ll sing his song
I will love the Devil and his song
What diabolical irony: the audience in the concert hall sings to the devil and is then butchered in cold blood by Jihadists claiming to serve Allah by annihilating pagans celebrating and invoking the Devil.
The Parisians seem devoid of any sense of the spiritual reality they are inviting. Yet their invocation was heard and answered.
What a heart-breaking scene. Servants of Allah and pagan revelers becoming a devilish blood sacrifice.
Satanic Opening Ceremony for Europe's Top Leaders.
Later in 2016 we saw all of Europe's leaders gather for the opening of the longest tunnel on the European continent, connecting Switzerland and Germany. This was filled with satanic and sexual imagery. From Life Site, here:
European leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Francois Hollande, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, Liechtenstein Prime Minister Adrian Hasler, and Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern took part in the opening of the world’s longest tunnel, running 57 km under the Swiss Alps. The historic event was overshadowed by the opening ceremonies which contained blatantly satanic and graphically sexual overtones...

These are some of the satanic images that went on for the enjoyment of the all the major Euopean/Continental leaders.

Spirit Cooking by the Clinton Camp
We then learn today of the Clinton campaign chair taking part in Spirit Cooking and it's popularity with the Clinton inner circle and some entertainers. Much has been learned about Spirit Cooking and it has shown beyond any doubt that this is a Satanic practice (started by the Satanist Aleister Crowley). First we know that it is practiced by Clinton's inner circle and Hollywood elites:
For these sick and possessed souls, it is considered as "performance art." However, there are many ways to understand this position. One, Satan is the "Father of Lies." Everything he says is a lie. The demons, following his example tell this lie to the souls they possess giving them assurance that nothing really evil is taking place in this behavior. Another way to understand this is by drawing from anyone experienced in the spiritual life. The sins and passions to which we have trouble letting go keep ensnaring us because we make excuses or really twist some justification into doing them. This is exactly what is also going on with this "performance art" and related to the previous point, this thinking comes from the powers of darkness.

The person that hosts these (Marina Abramovic, depicted below and the right women in the above picture) herself admits to the reality of this being more than just performance art but actually occult practice.
Alex Jones has been dismissed as a nut job for reporting these kinds of stories. When he reported them, they were unsubstantiated. Now, it is documented and the evidence is for all to see that this demonic activity is engaged by Clinton's inner circle.

See Alex Jones' full story here.

If the Clinton campaign staff is not enough for someone then look to the Clinton Mentor: Saul Alinsky. His book is widely popular among the left and if one reads the book we can see they continue to follow the guidance he gives in this book: Rules for Radicals. See to whom this handbook for the left is dedicated:
"Lest we forget at least an over-the-shoulder acknowledgment to the very first radical: from all our legends, mythology, and history (and who is to know where mythology leaves off and history begins — or which is which), the first radical known to man who rebelled against the establishment and did it so effectively that he at least won his own kingdom — Lucifer."
I have made this point in my "Social Pathologies" page:
"How is it the Church in America--after the success of the Billy Graham Crusades, and after the organization of the Evangelical political arm, and after the reign of such people in the 80s--how is it after all this, the "Church" was utterly powerless to stop the devastating march of demonic/secular forces that were erasing a Christian heritage? Why was the Church completely incompetent to do anything about this? How is it the Church won the entire pagan world to Christ and America's Christians had the reigns of power in our country and could not even slow the march of the neo-pagans? When I learned the difference was that the two Christian Faiths that won the world to Christ and we experience in America today were not even close to the same Faith, it all began to make sense. American Christianity does not heal mankind. It only exists to make adequate socio-economic voting units without any serious and noticeable character flaws. Orthodox Christianity exists to make a man into a god, by grace. Huge difference."
A thousand years apart from Christ has come to this. There is no way the remnants of Christian culture, in the post-Christian, neo-pagan West can save all our society from plunging head-first into hell. Our leaders are possessed by demons, in truth. The leaders need to be exorcised. This is why it is important to repent and why we need to run and embrace the Apostolic Faith of Orthodoxy. Only Orthodoxy has such a power from God to reverse this whole mess in which the Western elites, rulers, and leaders, finds themselves. 

Such strong evil, so deeply united to the souls of our leaders can not be cured by American Christianity, it simply lacks the power. American Christianity creates no saints. It is impossible due to such a prideful, condemning, egotistical filter which the teachings of the Church pass through for American Christians. The Orthodox Church is always exorcising, curing the sick, lame, and blind, raising the dead. It is the Church with the same power of the Holy Spirit we read about in the book of the Acts of the Apostle in the New Testament. 

Our saints literally glow with this light and power they are acquiring from God. It is them, only, that can save us, by Christ's power. We need to either bring them to our land and beg them for help or start producing them ourselves by taking seriously the message the Orthodox Church gives to the West.


Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Leavened and Unleavened bread in the Eucharist

The Lord used leavened bread artos at the Mystical Supper. The West universally used leavened bread before the eighth century. The question for me to Western practitioners is why did it change for them? That is the chief question, but since that time a lot of revisionist interpretation has taken place so this will address some of it.

Niketas Stethatos wrote some anti-Latin treatises criticizing the use of unleavened bread, Sabbath fasting, and the celibacy of priests. These are generally the Orthodox position. I have yet to find any English translation of them.

For correct terminology on this event (i.e. Mystical Supper is Orthodox language of this meal while Last Supper really is not). See John Sanidopoulos post on it, here.

1. In the Bible, unleavened bread is called "unleavened bread," whereas leavened bread is simply called "bread." The Jews would have understood this as would have the early Christians. It says that "He took bread," meaning leavened bread; and the Christians, being first instructed by the Apostles and then reading in the Gospels some time later, implemented this. At the Mystical Supper, it is obvious that our Lord was changing things, to tie the Passover meal with its fulfillment, the Eucharist. One of those changes, obviously, was using leavened bread instead of unleavened, or at least leavened in addition to unleavened. The world was empty and devoid of grace before Christ, as is symbolized by the flatness of the unleavened bread, but later filled with the glory of His Resurrection, as is symbolized by the leavened bread. Christ made the change, and the Church followed through on it.

2. The word for unleavened bread in Greek is ἄζυμος it is used in the Greek New Testament nine times: Mt.26:17; Mk.14:1,12; Lk.22:1,7;Ac.12:3; 20:6; 1Cor.5:7,8.

The word for leavened bread is ἄρτος it is used 97 times in the Greek New Testament.

The passages where they are relevent for the Mystical Supper are
Mt. 26:26; Mk.14:22; Lk.22:19;24:30,35; 1 Cor.10:16,17(twice);11:26,27,28.

In all these places, the writers never say Jesus took ἄζυμος and blessed it, they write that Jesus took ἄρτος, common ordinary leavened bread.

Commentary on the Synoptic Gospels
In Mt. 26:17, Mk 14:12, and Lk 22:7 it is also said that the Last Supper was on Passover day.

According to the commentary of Blessed Theophylact on Mark 14:12 and Luke 22:7

"The first day of unleavened bread means Thursday the day before the feast of unleavened bread, for the unleavened bread was eaten on Friday."

...and then his footnote to the text of the commentary on St Luke explains further

"St Matthew and St Mark call this Thursday the first day of unleavened bread, that is the day before the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Passover, which began on Friday, the fourteenth day of the Jewish month of Nisan. the Lord and His disciples made preparations for the Passover meal one day before the time appointed by the because on Friday Christ Himself would be slain as the true Paschal Lamb, fulfilling in His own Person the types and foreshadowings of the Old Testament."

Interpretation of the Historical Episode
The dispute over the use or not of unleavened bread during the mystery of the Eucharist had arisen because the Latins believed that the [Mystical] Supper happened on the day of unleavened bread. The Orthodox on the other hand supported that the Jews called "the day of unleavened bread" the period between sunset on Holy Thursday until sunset on Holy Friday. And it was named so, not because during that time they ate unleavened bread, but because they prepared it. Therefore since the [Mystical] Supper took place during the evening of Holy Thursday Christ must have used bread made with yeast, and not bread without yeast, because the latter had not yet been prepared since its use was on Holy Friday.

Slavery then Freedom
"According to the Bible, unleavened bread was the bread of slaves while leavened bread was for free men, God's children. So for that reason the Orthodox Church uses leavened bread at Holy Communion."

From Woman as a Symbol of Christ By Saint Nikolai Velimirovich

Foreshadowed in the Old Testament
The Eucharist is, literally, a thanksgiving, from the Greek word meaning "gratitude". And in the OT, the thanksgiving sacrifices, unlike the others, were specifically to include leavened bread:

Lev. 7:13 - With the sacrifice of his peace offerings for thanksgiving he shall bring his offering with cakes of leavened bread.

The other offering which is brought with leaven is the offering of first fruits:

Lev. 23:17 - You shall bring from your dwellings two loaves of bread to be waved, made of two tenths of an ephah; they shall be of fine flour, they shall be baked with leaven, as first fruits to the Lord.

And we know that Christ Himself is called the first fruits in I Cor. 15:20 - "But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep." And for the Orthodox the Paschal celebration centers upon that resurrection of our Lord, moreso than upon His death.

Note also that unleavened bread is called the "bread of affliction" (Deut. 16:3) - it could be argued that this is not really appropriate for the resurrectional and "eucharistic" celebration of the Lord's Day.

Finally, while Christ was indeed without the "leaven of sin", the other thing symbolized by leaven is the kingdom of heaven/kingdom of God; thus, the presence of leaven seems a more applicable symbolism for the Eucharist than its absence.

Many portions of this are from:

Monday, October 31, 2016

Extracts from Articles and Conversations on Orthodox Baptismal Theology

“The argument is not whether economy can be used in receiving converts. We are concerned with how the exception (economy and Chrismation) became the assumed or would-be standard, as it has today.” – C.E.

The Canons
Canon VII of the Second Ecumenical Council, Constantinople, 381 A.D.:
“As for heretics who convert to Orthodoxy and join the portion of the saved, we receive them in accordance with the following procedure and custom: We receive Arians, and Macedonians, and Sabbatians, and Novatians who call themselves Catharoi and Aristeroi, and Tessareskaidekatitæ otherwise known as Tetraditæ, and Apollinarists, when they submit written statements, and anathematize every heresy that does not believe as the holy, catholic, and Apostolic Church of God believes, and are first sealed with holy Myron on the forehead, and the eyes, and the nose, and the mouth, and the ears; and in sealing them we say: ‘Seal of the gift of the Holy Spirit.’

“Eunomians, on the other hand, who are baptized with one immersion, and Montanists who in this [City] are called Phrygians, and Sabellians who teach the son-fatherhood [of Christ], and who do other evil things as well; and all other heresies (for there are many hereabout, especially those hailing from the region of the Galatians), all of them that wish to join Orthodoxy we receive as pagans. And on the first day we make them Christians; on the second, catechumens. Then on the third day we exorcise them with the threefold blowing into their face and ears. And then we catechize them, and oblige them to spend sufficient time in the church and to listen to the Scriptures. And then we baptize them.”

+The Rudder (St. Nikodimos), footnote to Ap.c. XLVII, p.69:
St. Basil- “In a word we baptize all Novations and Encratites and Sarcophores [these are all schismatics – F.J.C.+ note]. Even if rebaptism is prohibited with you for the sake of some economy, as it is with the Romans, nevertheless, let our word have the power of rejecting, to put it plainly, the baptism of such.”
St. Nikodemos: “If Basil the Great rejects the baptism of schismatics because of their having lost perfective grace, then it is needless for us to ask whether we ought to baptize heretics”!
“St. Basil says two sentences above this statement that if for some reason of economy some Fathers accepted such baptisms let them do as they will.”
– F.J.C.+

+The Rudder (St. Nikodimos), Canons of St. Basil, c. I, p. 774:
St. Basil: After stating again that it is according to the exactness of the canons that we must accept both schismatics and heretics [that is by baptism] he says that if they cannot accept this, it is better to receive them economically than to see them prevented “from being saved because of their being too indolent in regard to baptism” [They just cannot accept that their baptism is nothing – F.J.C.+].

St. Basil: “But if they keep our baptism [“Notwithstanding they themselves do not rebaptize those who join them from our Orthodox members... – St.Nikodimos] let this not deter us [“...this fact ought not deter us from baptizing them when they join our Church upon returning to the True Faith – St. Nikodimos]. For we are not obliged to return thanks to them (to offer them favor for favor) but to serve the canons with exactitude.”

“Canon 95 of the Quinisext Ecumenical Council, which repeats Canon 7 of the Second Ecumenical Council, stipulates that the Eunomians “who were baptized with one immersion” should be rebaptized. Montanists and Sabellians “who consider the Son to be the same as the Father, and are guilty in certain other grave matters, and all the other heresies” are also to be rebaptized. There is clearly cause for rebaptism whenever there is baptism by single immersion, identification of the Father with the Son… variations both with regards to the doctrine of the Trinity, due to the teachings on the Filioque and the created divine energies (actus purus), and because there is also a difference in form, since baptism is not performed by immersion, but by “pouring” or “sprinkling” following the Council of Trent.” – M.H.V.+

Contemporary Questions after reading these Canons:
“Does this not state rather boldly that those coming from schism and heresy who are willing or even request baptism should be given baptism? St. Basil says we MUST baptize them!”
 – F.J.C.+

“This gets to my question about what do the bishops mean when they say it does not matter what the catechumen wants?” – F.J.C.+

“If, for good reason, a catechumen should say, ‘If you will not baptize me, I will find a priest who will’, should that be offensive?” – F.J.C.+

About the Canons pertaining to Baptism:
“The canons which deal with the relation of bishops, and in general of all the children of the Church, to those outside her, are the following: Apostolic, Nos. 10, 12, 45, 46 and 65; Conciliar, 1st Ecumenical, Nos. 8 and 19; 2nd Ecumenical, No. 7; 6th Ecumenical, No. 95; Laodicea, Nos. 7, 8 and 33; Carthage, Nos. 68 and 79; and the Canonical Rules of St. Basil the Great, Nos. 1 and 47.” – M.A.K.+

“Naturally, these canons do not lessen the necessity of baptism by water for every man, although it must not be forgotten that very ancient instances in the Church give us examples of the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the yet unbaptized, so that the subsequent baptism had a supplementary and chiefly disciplinary significance, as uniting them to the earthly Church of Christ [cf. Acts 10:44-48 and Acts 11 :15-17]… we must, of course, also notice that the descent of the Holy Spirit, referred to in the words of the Acts [referenced above]… did not release the believers from the obligation of baptism by water, and this obligation many who converted from heresy had to fulfill in accordance with the 46th canon of the Holy Apostles, although they already had heretical baptism.” – M.A.K.+

“…Note the following characteristics of conciliar legislation on this subject:
   1. These canons were changed a) according to time, and b) according to locality.
   2. Their strictness or relaxation depended not so much on the character of the heresy or schism, as on the varying relationship of the heretics or schismatics to the Church; and they varied in one direction or the other, according to changes in this relationship of the schismatics to the Church.
   3. Sometimes the Ecumenical authorities declared their decisions not to be final, and sometimes even deferred their decisions while awaiting new Church Councils.”
 – M.A.K.+

Acrivia and Economia
“Remaining faithful to the principle set by Sts. Cyprian and Basil the Great, they [Ecumenical Patriarch Cyril V and the Kollyvades Fathers] side in favor of applying acrivia in receiving the various heretics; in other words, their (re)baptism. Of course, they do not deny the possible use of economia. But, in the spirit of the Second (and Penthekte) Ecumenical Council, this is done ‘when it does not vitally harm’ the Church, according to Oikonomos; in other words, when the irrevocable stipulation set by these Ecumenical Councils is fulfilled: namely, that the sacrament of baptism has been administered in accordance with the Apostolic form. The use of economia, having a provisional and local character, does not do away with acrivia which constitutes the Church’s canonical order. Therefore, ‘the one, holy, catholic and Apostolic Church of the Orthodox, having their salvation in view, both preserves the acrivia of the divine Canons, and also at various times and places apostolically resorts to economia, so as to receive those infirm in the faith, and to take care of incidental needs and difficulties, while avoiding incursions by the adversaries of Orthodoxy, until such time as she again restores acrivia.” – F.G.M.+

“Up to now the Orthodox Churches usually accepted into their membership individuals or Churches by means of either exactitude [Akrivia]… or economy [Economia]...
(a) By Exactitude one is accepted by baptism, chrismation and profession of the Orthodox Faith accompanied by rejection of former errors.
(b) By Economy one is accepted by chrismation and profession of the Orthodox faith and the rejection of former errors…
“Neither of these two means of entry into the Church is in itself a judgment on the validity or non-validity of the sacraments of the Church of origin, since there are no mysteries outside of the Body of Christ… It is up to each Synod of Orthodox bishops to decide the status of each group of those who are seeking communion within the Body of Christ.” – F.J.R.+

…the issue here is not ‘economy,’ but the desire by many ecumenists to exploit the pastoral dimensions of Orthodoxy in the service of their religious syncretism. [Some redefine] ‘economy’ in such a way as to dismiss its traditional definition, he has created a new theology of openness. [They] misuses St. Basil’s famous First Canon (avoiding the Saint’s own interpretation of the matters contained therein) so as to make of Orthodoxy a religion which is all-inclusive—subtly suggesting that ‘traditionalists’ [or fundamentalists] consider it ‘exclusive.’ By twisting the teachings of the Fathers, separating the Canons from spiritual life, ignoring the Patristic consensus, and redefining issues in a language that is unknown to the Church (the antipodes of ‘inclusive’ and ‘exclusive,’ for example, are a set-up for those who properly argue for Orthodox primacy), they have made of Orthodoxy something that it is not. To paraphrase a well-known Serbian theologian, ‘They are creating within the confines of Orthodoxy a religion which lacks its content.’ Hence, the exception becomes the standard, if simply because we have redefined the meaning of exactitude in the Orthodox Faith.’ – C.E.

“To exercise proper ‘economy’ is not to argue for historical precedent or from the statistical mean or median. Exactitude expresses the consensus of the Church, which is not an intellectual belief, but a manifestation in word and directive of the ineffable: revelation ‘operationalized.’ Those who apply this standard attempt, in all ways, to achieve perfection and to adhere to what is exact. They are guided in such attempts by spiritual discretion (pneumatike diakrisis), not by the preoccupations of a given age (‘inclusiveness,’ ‘communion ecclesiology,’ ‘shared love’), inspired by an inner knowledge of the spiritual state and condition of those entrusted to them. Acting together, such spiritual individuals always reflect the consensus of the Church, since they exist, through Apostolic Succession, forever in the unity of Apostolic Truth. In one case, they apply the exact standard. In another, they apply ‘economy.’ They are guided not by a mere intellectual grasp of the Canons, but by a communion with the wholeness of Apostolic Tradition. Thus, what St. John of San Francisco did by ‘economy’ is valid; what an ecumenist does in the name of ‘economy’ to further his ecumenistic agenda—this is not only wrong, but it does violence to the spiritual Truth of Orthodoxy. Like it or not, this is the real issue. And no spiritual Father who truly communes with the Church…would ever call the ‘economy’ of the reception of converts by Chrismation into the Orthodox Church its ‘standard.’ To do so would be to cut himself off from the subtle golden chain of Holy Tradition that links contradiction to contradiction in perfect harmony through the spirit of pastoral love. It would also separate contemporary Orthodoxy from its roots in Scripture and the Early Church.” – C.E.

“I strongly suspect that, since so many converts in America have been received by Chrismation, it is THEY who have much to prove in the argument over ‘economy.’ Applied for good reason by a spiritually sober clergyman in rare instances, I see nothing wrong with ‘economy.’ But we have now come to the point that converts want Baptism to be the exception and find everything wrong with applying this standard of canonical exactitude. This is because, in the artificial Orthodoxy of the SCOBA and the ‘mainstream,’ there are many who feel the spiritual consequences of the abuse of ‘economy.’ They see the minimalism in their spiritual lives; they recognize what is missing; and they react, not with humility (in which case they would be covered), but with fury.” – C.E.

“These ecumenists are not adequately facile in the Fathers, in Orthodox spiritual life, and in the language of the Church, even if they hold forth as theologians and academics in institutions that their public relations czars have made more than they actually are. Their thinking and nomenclature should be avoided by all of us… since they lead to misunderstanding and the folly of ecumenism.” – C.E.

Pan Orthodox Councils in Constantinople in 1484: condemned the Latins as heretics and would be received by chrismation only after a written rejection their heresies, in response to difficult relations between Rome and Constantinople following the Council of Florence.

We should also note that the Latins were not at the time [1000] years into heresy and separation from Orthodoxy, as they are now… If one reads with care such pertinent documents as St. Basil’s First Canon, St. Nikodemos’ complex commentary thereon, and the acts of the Seventh Ecumenical Synod, in particular, we see quite clearly that heresy does involve a temporal element. A single generation of heresy takes a lesser spiritual toll than longer periods of heresy. Moreover, Churches may fall "ill" from the influence of heresy (as did Rome long before the Schism) and yet not find themselves deprived of Grace, according to St. John Chrysostomos. When illness passes to morbidity, the process of separation becomes final. The question is not simply one of being "in" or "out" of the Church (such a thing is decided not by decrees and administrative decisions, but in the spiritual realm—after all, Grace did not cease in
the Latin Church on a certain day in 1054), but involves the gradual loss of Grace and its therapeutic efficacy over time. This is not to say that the gravity of heresy is not an issue, but even here one can persuasively argue, as the Blessed Justin Popovich does, that the heresy of the Latins has indeed become more pronounced over time: the effects of spiritual disease—heresy—intensify as time passes. Hence, there were Latin Christians, even long after the Great Schism and even through the union councils, who were still Baptized in the Orthodox manner. That is not something that can be argued today, except in the most isolated of instances. Likewise, Papal infallibility is a dogma today. It was not in the fifteenth century.” – C.E.

Synod of Moscow in 1620-1621: Receive converts by baptism only.
Synod of Moscow in 1667: Reversed decision of 1620-1621 and decided converts would be received by chrismation.

Jerusalem in 1672: Patriarch Dositheos of Jerusalem had been arguing that the Latins needed to receive baptism if joining the Orthodox Church. He wrote "Those who are without good cause Baptized without three emersions and immersions risk being unbaptized. Therefore, Latins who perform baptism by aspersion commit mortal sin" (Dodekabiblos in The Writings of the Presbyter Constantine the Economos, Vol. I, p. 93 (Athens, 1862). This council provided dispensation of “economy” for this rule not only held by this Patriarch.

1718: “Patriarch Jeremiah of Constantinople also supported the use of economy in the Russian Church because of certain political realities and because of the difficult situation presented by incipient Uniatism.” – C.E.

Oros of 1755(6): called for baptism of the heterodox and signed by Constantinople, Alexandria, and Jerusalem. Endorsed by Antioch.

There is, in fact, no reason to question the validity of the decree of 1755, since this Oros was issued in response to the condemnation, earlier, by Patriarch Cyril’s Metropolitans of the anti-Latin treatise of Christopher the Aitolian (which has, at times, been wrongly attributed to Eustratios Argenti). The Patriarch’s opponents (who were anti-Papist themselves), were, according to Father [George] Metallinos, seeking to avoid antagonizing the Latins, for which reason the Patriarch dissolved the Synod. Cyril’s decree and his bold actions, however, were vindicated, subsequently, by the Patriarchs of Alexandria and Jerusalem, who signed the Oros, and which would have been signed by Sylvester of Antioch, too, according to Runciman, were it not for the fact that he was traveling in Russia; and this, again, because he was opposed to the schism caused by the Latin-minded in his own Church. Indeed, one might say that it was the Oros of 1755 which was Pan-Orthodox in nature, not the Council of 1484, the policy of which Cyril’s decree reversed… The conclusion that Metallinos rightly draws here, in our opinion, is that 1484 was not normative, for which reason prevailing practice dictated Cyril’s directive, which was enormously popular among the Faithful and clergy. It reflected the conscience of the Church. – C.E.

Archimandrite Ambrosius (Pogodin) has commentary on this which is simply historically false.

1888: Constantinople did not revoked Oros of 1755. It created a policy for receiving converts by chrismation should the circumstances demand it.

1903: Church of Greece, under the influence of one particular Archbishop, allowed the clergy in the diaspora to receive by chrismation. Directive was ambiguous but not adopted by Greece itself nor Mt. Athos.

1933: "As recently as 1933 the Holy Synod of Antioch laid down that all converts to Orthodoxy received by clergy in its jurisdiction should be baptized, save in cases where a dispensation had been granted. Thus while the application of economy is not excluded by this decision, it is not envisaged as a normal practice." [Eustratios Argenti: A Study of the Greek Church Under Turkish Rule, by Timothy [Bishop Kallistos] Ware (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1964), 106-107.]

“First, we are not dealing with mere policies, but with the realities of history and pastoral demands. Dealing with Uniates in Russia, some of whom were Baptized by Orthodox Priests and some of whom were for generations part of the Latin Church (Uniatism), involves condescension of one kind. The unique years of Orthodox immigration present condescension of another kind. But in no manner whatsoever can one argue that these circumstances set a new "standard." How could this be possible, given the apparently contradictory outline of "policies" that I have presented only in brief above? Is the Orthodox Church incapable of a consistent policy? Again, the matter is not one of policy, but of pastoral condescension to the needs of the People of God. The standard of threefold immersion in the name of the Holy Trinity remains; only human weakness and the trials of history change.” – C.E.

One should also keep in mind that this looks at the activity of the upper clergy of the Church during this time. It has been a common historical that the monastics and village clergy when encouraged to perform a reception by chrismation continued following the canons to baptize their converts following St. Basil and the exactitude of canonical application.” – C.E.

A common argument goes: “In Pan-Orthodox Councils in Constantinople in 1848, Moscow in 1667 and Jerusalem in 1672 as well as decrees by Constantinople in 1888, the Church of Greece in 1903, and SCOBA, responsible Orthodox authorities have decided that economy should be used when receiving converts.” To which one responds: “ The consensus of the Church as it is derived from the whole of Church history and the synodal witness determines what is authoritative. And this authority is expressed in the witness of the Holy Fathers, which is the Holy Tradition of the Church and which begets that which makes a decree viable. This is not determined by simply citing the synods which agree with what we or SCOBA handbooks decide to consider binding and "normative," while ignoring or dismissing all else. We must seek that continuity which holds together various sources. There have always been opposing views in the Church. However, there also exists a consensus, once more, that is drawn from the perfect standard of the Church (exactitude—in this case the reception of converts by Baptism) and which transcends the apparent vicissitudes of pastoral economy. – C.E.

Testimony of Saints and Respected Orthodox Clergymen
“[The Kollyvades Fathers are] contemporaries of the dispute over the baptism of non-Orthodox, these very capable theologians lived it from up close, and they took a position on it in their writings, offering a solution to the problem that was in accordance with their own theological principles. Neophytos Kafsokalyvitis the leader of the Kollyvades movement, St. Nikodemos of the Holy Mountain, and Athanasios Parios, in absolute agreement with each other, unreservedly sided in favor of Patriarch Cyril’s decision and the theology of Eustratios Argentis (1687-1757), who defined the theological and canonical frame of reference of the problem in a systematic and decisive way. The above-mentioned Kollyvades, each in his own peculiar way, affirm and reiterate Argentis’ view and solution of the problem, and thus uphold the Church’s early practice as canonically formulated by Sts. Cyprian of Carthage and Basil the Great. Also, the fact that the Priestmonk Jonas, one of Patriarch Cyril V’s most active co-workers in Constantinople and himself a ‘rebaptizer,’ was also a Kafsokalyvitis, i.e. a fellow monastic of Neophytos, should not, in my opinion, remain unnoticed.” – F.G.M.+

Sister Saints Elizabeth and Alexandra received only by Chrismation but during a time when this ecumenist mentality of today was not present in the Church. Fr. George Florovsky allegedly wrote in favor of a “standard” use of economy; yet, if true, this is at odds with his practice and later views. Fr. Seraphim Rose was received by chrismation but made clear that he regretted this and only baptized converts. Fr. Seraphim’s chrismation had the blessing of St. John Maximovich but St. John received many by baptism also.

there are no Mysteries outside Orthodoxy and that the exercise of economy in no way suggests [ecumenical leanings]. [We address in this conflict] the abuse of economy in the very name of ecumenism… The synodal record is not a simple one and that it must, once more, submit to the pronouncements of prophecy over the parameters of the mere judicial.” – C.E.

What about the Orthodox that were received into the Church without baptism? “Saint Basil the Great refused to baptize a man who doubted the validity of his baptism, precisely because he had already received communion for many years and it was too late to doubt then that he was a member of Christ’s Church!” – F.S.R.+

“The Patristic Orthodox teaching on this subject is that the Church is the Theanthropic Body of Christ, in which revealed truth—the Orthodox Faith—is preserved and the mystery of deification is accomplished through the Mysteries of the Church (Baptism, Chrismation, and the Divine Eucharist). The essential precondition for this is that we participate in the purifying, illuminating, and deifying energy of God. Baptism is the initiatory Mystery of the Church. The Church does not rest upon the Mystery of Baptism; rather, the Baptism of water, in conjunction with the Baptism of the Spirit, operates within the Church and makes one a member of the Body of Christ. There are no Mysteries outside the Church, the living Body of Christ, just as there are no senses outside the human body.” – M.H.V.+

Recommended Readings:
I Confess One Baptism… – Fr. George D. Metallinos
The Ecclesiological Renovation of Vatican II – Fr. Peter Heers

C.E. (Old Calendarist Archbishop Chrysostomos of Etna)
M.H.V.+ (Met. Hierotheos (Vlachos) of Navpaktos and Hagios Vlasios)
M.A.K.+ (Met. Anthony Khrapovitsky)
F.J.R.+ (Fr. John S. Romanides)
F.G.M.+ (Fr. George D. Metallinos, Athens, Greece)
F.S.R.+ (Fr. Seraphim Rose)
F.J.C.+ (Fr. Joseph Copeland in Holy Cross, Yakima, WA)

Baptismal Theology
by Metropolitan Hierotheos (Vlachos) of Navpaktos and Hagios Vlasios

THERE HAS BEEN in the past, and there is in our own day, a good deal of discussion about the Baptism of heretics (the heterodox [1]); that is, whether heretics who have deviated from the Orthodox Faith and who seek to return to it should be Baptized anew or simply Chrismated after making a profession of faith. Decisions have been issued on this matter by both local and OEcumenical Synods.

In the text that follows, I should like to discuss, by way of example, the agreement reached between the Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of America and the National Conference of Catholic Bishops in America [2] on June 3, 1999. The Greek translation of the original text was made by Protopresbyter George Dragas, a professor at the Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in Boston [Brookline—Trans.], who also provided a summary and critique of this agreed statement between Orthodox and Roman Catholics in America.

The basis of this document is the Balamand Agreement [3] of 1993, “Uniatism, Method of Union of the Past and the Present Search for Full Communion,” which it evidently wishes to uphold. The text on which we are commenting, that is, the agreement signed by Orthodox and Roman Catholics in America and entitled “Baptism and ‘Sacramental Economy,’” is based on several points, in my observation, that are very typical of the contemporary ecumenical movement and indicative of its entire substance.

The first point is that “Baptism rests upon and derives its reality from the faith of Christ Himself, the faith of the Church, and the faith of the believer” (p. 13). At first sight, one is struck by the absence, here, of any reference to the Triune God—perhaps in order to justify this flexible interpretation of Baptism. Faith, then, becomes the fundamental mark and element of Baptism.

The second point is that Baptism is not a practice required by the Church, but is, “rather, the Church’s foundation. It establishes the Church” (p. 26). Here, the notion that Baptism is not the “initiatory” Mystery whereby we are introduced into the Church, but the foundation of the Church, is presented as the truth.

The third point is that “Baptism was never understood as a private ceremony, but rather as a corporate event” (p. 13). This means that the Baptism of catechumens was “the occasion for the whole community’s repentance and renewal” (p. 13). One who is Baptized “is obliged to make his own the community’s common faith in the Savior’s person and promises” (p. 14).

The fourth point is a continuation and consequence of the foregoing points. Since Baptism rests upon faith in Christ, since it is the basis of the Church, and since, moreover, it is the work of the community, this means that any recognition of Baptism entails recognition of the Church in which the Baptism is performed. In the Agreed Statement we read: “The Orthodox and Catholic members of our Consultation acknowledge, in both of our traditions, a common teaching and a common faith in one baptism, despite some variations in practice which, we believe, do not affect the substance of the mystery” (p. 17).

According to this text, there is a common faith and teaching concerning Baptism in the two “Churches,” and the differences that exist do not affect the substance of the Mystery. The two sides each acknowledge an ecclesial reality “in the other, however much they may regard their way of living the Church’s reality as flawed or incomplete” (p. 17). “The certain basis for the modern use of the phrase ‘sister churches’” (p. 17) is to be found in this point. The Orthodox Church and the Latin Church are these two “sister Churches,” because they have the same Tradition, the same Faith, and the same Baptism, even though there are certain differences between them. Hence, the following opinion is repeatedly affirmed in the text: “We find that this mutual recognition of the ecclesial reality of baptism, in spite of our divisions, is fully consistent with the perennial teaching of both churches” (p. 26). Misinterpreting the teaching of St. Basil the Great, the signers of this document aver that the two “Churches,” in spite of the “imperfections” that exist, constitute the same ecclesial reality: “By God’s gift we are each, in St. Basil’s words, ‘of the Church’” (p. 26).

The fifth point is that the authors of the Agreed Statement find fault with St. Nicodemos the Hagiorite, who, in interpreting the views of St. Cyprian of Carthage, St. Basil the Great, and the Second OEcumenical Synod, talks—as do all of the Kollyvades Fathers of the eighteenth century—about exactitude (akribia) and economy (oikonomia) with regard to the way in which heretics are received into the Orthodox Church. That is to say, the Fathers have at times received heretics by exactitude—namely, by Baptism—and at times by economy—namely, by Chrismation. However, even when the Church does receive someone by economy, this means that She effects the mystery of salvation at that very time, precisely because the Church is superior to the Canons, and not the Canons to the Church, and because the Church is the source of the Mysteries and, eo ipso, of Baptism, whereas Baptism is not the basis of the Church. The Church can receive this or that heretic by the principle of economy, without any implication that She recognizes as a Church the community that previously baptized him. This is the context within which St. Nicodemos interprets the relevant decision of the Second OEcumenical Synod.

Confusion is certainly heightened by the fact that one of the recommendations of the Agreed Statement is subject to many different interpretations. According to this recommendation, the two Churches should make it clear that “the mutual recognition of baptism does not of itself resolve the issues that divide them, or reëstablish full ecclesial communion between the Orthodox and Catholic Churches, but that it does remove a fundamental obstacle on the path towards full communion” (p. 28).

From this brief analysis, it is obvious how much confusion prevails in ecumenist circles regarding these issues. It is also obvious that [Orthodox] ecumenists understand the acceptance of the baptism of heretics (Catholics and Protestants, who have altered the dogma of the Holy Trinity and other dogmas) to mean accepting the ecclesial status of heretical bodies and, worse still, that the two “Churches,” Latin and Orthodox, are united in spite of “small” differences, or that we derive from the same Church and should seek to return to it, thereby forming the one and only Church. This is a blatant expression of the branch theory.

When there is such confusion, it is necessary to adopt an attitude of strictness, which preserves the truth: that all who fall into heresy are outside the Church and that the Holy Spirit does not work to bring about their deification.

In any event, baptismal theology creates immense problems for the Orthodox. From the standpoint of ecclesiology, the text under consideration is riddled with errors. The Patristic Orthodox teaching on this subject is that the Church is the Theanthropic Body of Christ, in which revealed truth—the Orthodox Faith—is preserved and the mystery of deification is accomplished through the Mysteries of the Church (Baptism, Chrismation, and the Divine Eucharist). The essential precondition for this is that we participate in the purifying, illuminating, and deifying energy of God. Baptism is the initiatory Mystery of the Church. The Church does not rest upon the Mystery of Baptism; rather, the Baptism of water, in conjunction with the Baptism of the Spirit, operates within the Church and makes one a member of the Body of Christ. There are no Mysteries outside the Church, the living Body of Christ, just as there are no senses outside the human body.

In closing, I should like to cite the conclusion of Father George Dragas, which he appends to his “Summary and Critique”:
These recommendations will not win the agreement of all Orthodox, and certainly not of those who are Greek-speaking (or Greek-minded), and consequently they are, by their very nature, divisive. My primary reason for coming to such a negative conclusion is that this inquiry into sacramental theology is devoid of any ecclesiological basis and that it one-sidedly interprets—or rather, misinterprets—the facts of Orthodox sacramental practice, and particularly vis-à-vis the heterodox at different periods in the history of the Church. These recommendations and conclusions and, indeed, the entire Agreed Statement are the epitome of Western skepticism. Their acceptance by Orthodox theologians signals a deliberate betrayal of Orthodox views and a capitulation to the outlook of Western ecumenism. This is something that we should reject.

1. We have retained, here, for the sake of faithful translation, the word “heretic,” though with  some concern that many readers may assume that it carries with it the vitriol that has been attached to it in Western Christianity—and especially since the Inquisition—or by some of the more irresponsible and less reflective and spiritually-enlightened Orthodox traditionalists, today. We could have justifiably used the word “heterodox,” which is not frequently used as an ad hominem epithet, as the word “heretic” so frequently is, but which simply indicates what both words actually mean: a person who holds to views that deviate from established belief and, in the Orthodox Church, who accepts an opinion held in opposition to the Patristic consensus and the conscience of the Church. The word takes on wholly pejorative meanings, in the Orthodox Church, only when applied to those who, in their absolute intransigence, fail to succumb to the entreaties of the Church (and to spiritual sobriety), in the face their of error, and thus cause harm to the harmonious ethos of Orthodoxy and lead others into error and delusion—Trans.

2. To be precise, the agreement in question was signed by members of the North American Orthodox-Catholic Theological Consultation, meeting at St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary in Crestwood, New York—Trans.

3. For a response on this Agreement, see:

Translated from the Greek original in Ekklesiastike Parembase, No. 71 (December 2001), p. 12.

Reprinted from Orthodox Tradition, Vol XX, No 2, pp. 40-43.