Apostolic Christianity


the 23,000 Western Churches


Steven Kovacevich



1. Survey Of Church History: The Beginnings.

2. Byzantium and the Church of the Seven Councils.

3. Byzantium and the Church of the Seven Councils (Continuation).

4. The Holy Icons.

5. Saints, Monks and Emperors.

6. The Great Schism.

7. Survey of Doctrine: Holy Tradition.

8. God and Man.

9. Man: His Creation, Vocation and Failure.

10. The Church of God.

11. Orthodox Worship.





This book started out as a correspondence course on Eastern Orthodox Christianity, the ancient faith that the popular Time-Life series on the great religions of the world calls "Christendom's oldest Church" [Christendom and Christianity, vol. 3 of The World's Great Religions, New York: Time, Inc., 1963, p. 266]. The author took the course many years ago after a long and vain search for the fullness of truth along the highways and byways of Western Christianity, all of which proved dead-end paths where one encounters truth in varying degrees, plus falsehood in one concentration or another.

In the passage of time, it became obvious that there are many Roman Catholic theologians who do not agree with the teachings of the first and second Vatican Councils, and who are grappling with the problems of papal primacy, papal infallibility, and Catholic ecclesiology. It also became apparent that there are many Catholic and Protestant liturgical scholars, clergy and laity today who are interested in learning about the Orthodox Church and its maintaining the form of early Christian worship and its Divine Liturgy. Among these people were friends and co-workers of the author.

Still later, it became increasingly clear that this work could be turned into a book in question and answer format for these individuals. In making this change, the author rewrote large sections of it for the benefit of Western Christians so that they could ask themselves what kind of historical connection does their particular Church have with the Apostles when it was founded in schism in 1054 by a fallible man called the pope, or founded a few centuries ago by someone named Joe Smith? For those with more than an idle curiosity, the doctrines of the Western Churches are frequently compared and contrasted with those of another much older Church, the Orthodox Christian Church. This Church is the original Church and the depository of Apostolic Christian Truth, and a Church that until recently remained something mysterious and inaccessible for Western people.

Although this study does not force anyone to accept the Orthodox faith, still every truth-seeking person who read it came to the ineluctable conclusion that alone among the Churches, the Orthodox Church has retained the continuity and purity of ancient Christian teaching and preserves the oldest, fullest and most accurate traditions of all. The same readers also came to understand that the ancient Church founded by Christ through the Apostles is still present in the world today, just as it has been without interruption for two thousand years. They now understand that that ancient Church is the Orthodox Church, the Church of the Apostles and martyrs, and the only Church that has an unbroken line back to the Apostles. With this insight, all went on with their lives with a new clarity of thought, like a pure mountain spring.

As the pages of this book show, the Orthodox Church has maintained a living connection with the Apostles through Apostolic Succession. The Apostles chose as their successors bishops for local congregations (Phil 1:1). To these bishops, they imparted the Apostolic grace they had received from Christ Himself, which is the process of Apostolic Succession, something prominently discussed in the New Testament (cf. Titus and 1 and 2 Timothy).

There is a twofold nature to Apostolic Succession. First, there is an unbroken historical consecration of the bishops from the hands of the Apostles. A bishop must be able to trace his lineage through a continuous, uninterrupted chain of ordinations through the Apostles. Secondly, there is an uncompromising fidelity to the correct doctrines and correct practices established by the Apostles. A bishop must be able to demonstrate that the faith and practices of the Church have not changed.

While the Roman Catholic Church can trace its bishops' lineage, it cannot demonstrate an unchanged faith or unchanged practices, for it does not adhere to the Apostolic teaching or Apostolic practices. After the Latin Church severed itself from the true Universal Church in 1054, the West entered into the Middle Ages, which marked the gradual transition between the ancient Christian worldview and the modern godless one. During that period, and continuing into the present time, the Latin Church made many deviations and changes from the ancient Christian faith and ancient Christian practices going back to the time of the Apostles.

One of Rome's many innovations without Apostolic foundation is its proclamation of papal infallibility, a doctrine that caused the Christian world to reel in shock. According to this teaching, when the pope speaks ex cathedra ("from the throne" [of Peter]), that is, officially, concerning matters of faith and morals, he is incapable of speaking falsehood. However, papal infallibility was vehemently denied by popes and faithful laymen alike for almost nineteen centuries. (It was not invented until 1870). Moreover, as chapter six of this book notes, papal infallibility continues to be denied by the very Church that invented it. It is an indisputable fact that many Roman popes were heretics and that they spoke falsehood when making ex cathedra pronouncements concerning faith and morals. The Roman Catholic Church itself admits this fact, and in this admission, it altogether negates this false teaching. (To this time, papal infallibility is denied in the Catholic Church. For example, according to an in-depth survey by the National Catholic Reporter dated September 11, 1987, only 26% of Roman Catholics in this country believe in the infallibility of the pope).

Of further note, while Roman apologists make much of the Apostle Peter's supposedly exalted position, Holy Scripture makes it plain that Peter himself made grave errors both before and after Christ's death and Resurrection. The second chapter of Galatians shows that Peter spoke falsehood at the Apostolic Council held at Jerusalem, that he had to justify his actions before the Church, that Paul rebuked Peter "to his face" sternly and publicly, and that as a result, Peter turned from his erring ways. Clearly, there is neither "papal supremacy" nor "papal infallibility" here. Given the fact that Peter, who the Latin Church proclaims was its first pope, spoke falsehood at the Apostolic Council, Rome's argument of papal infallibility collapses. As chapter six additionally goes on to point out, the Roman Catholic Church is presently involved in a frenzied effort to explain its fraudulent papal claims in the face of a growing awareness among its clergy and laity that these claims are impossible to defend.

Some years back, a Catholic seminarian struggled with Rome's papal claims. When he asked the seminary's rector if Rome's claims were valid, the rector replied that they were not. The seminarian then asked that, given the fact that the crux of Rome's claim to be the true Church hinged upon the matter of its papal claims, which of the two Churches actually is the ancient Church going back two thousand years — Rome or Orthodoxy? The rector replied that when the positions of Rome and Orthodoxy are examined, Rome's claim is altogether spurious and falsified, while Orthodoxy's claim is entirely valid. To the seminarian's query as to how the rector could remain in the Catholic Church if he did not believe it was the true Church, the rector replied that he was comfortable with his spirituality and that his family expected him to be Catholic. The seminarian could no longer feel comfortable, however, and he began a search that eventually brought him to the Orthodox Church and its priesthood. His conversion is but one of thousands of others like it, for when exposed to Orthodoxy's ancient teachings, people come to understand that the Eastern Orthodox Church alone has not distorted or falsified any single doctrine of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church founded by Christ. They also understand that the same Orthodox Church is that very Church that has maintained the same exact faith delivered to the Apostles.

There were myriad deviations without Apostolic foundation that developed in the West over the course of its thousand-year separation from Orthodoxy. In addition to the doctrinal divergences, there were also departures from Apostolic practices as well. One of these changes involves the sign of the Cross, an important practice to examine.

An Orthodox Christian makes the sign of the Cross by putting the thumb and first and second fingers of the right hand together, which represent the three Persons of the Holy Trinity. At the same time, the fourth and fifth fingers are folded against the palm, and these represent the two natures of Christ. Then, in keeping with the most ancient tradition of the Holy Apostles and Holy Fathers, he or she touches the tips of the thumb and first two fingers to the forehead (for the blessing of the mind), and then the abdomen (for the blessing of one's internal feelings). From there, the crossbar is made by going from the right shoulder to the left shoulder (for the blessing of one's bodily strength). In this gesture, one affirms one's faith in Christ's sacrifice on the Cross at Golgotha, and affirms one's belief in the Holy Trinity and in the human and divine natures of Christ — that is, the basic dogmas of the Orthodox Christian faith. In the lives of the saints from Apostolic times down to the present, there are many references that bear witness to the tremendous spiritual strength and security that are given to a Christian through this ancient tradition of crossing oneself.

Making the crossbar from right to left is not without significance. Classically, the right is the symbol of light, good and truth, while the left is the symbol of darkness, evil and error. In keeping with the meaning of this symbolism, going from right to left asks God's blessing that sanctification from the right side would cross over to the fallen, sinful side of one's nature in order to transform and redeem it.

Over the course of its long separation from Orthodox Christianity, the Latin Church reversed the direction of the crossbar and started tracing it from left to right, the significance of which should be apparent. This practice remains in the Latin Church to this day.

Still another change from the Apostolic practice involves the Latins no longer touching the abdomen, but the chest instead (see Archpriest Seraphim Slobodskoy's diagram above). In making this change, Roman Catholics no longer make the life-giving Cross of Christ upon themselves, but distort it and seal themselves instead with a travesty of the Cross — that is, an upside down cross. As the same Fr. Seraphim explains in his book The Law of God, the Catholic sign of the "cross" brings joy to the demons, for it is a profane gesture.

Apostolic Succession does not exist outside Christ's Church. According to the first canon of St. Basil, outside the Church the bestowing of grace is reduced to nothing and every sort of succession is unlawful. These things are so because a layman (actually even less than a layman) executes the laying on of hands upon a layman without transferring any sort of grace to him, because there is none, nor can there be grace outside the one Church, outside of the unity of the Body of Christ. Once a bishop leaves the Church in schism as the pope did in the eleventh century, the continuing Church does not recognize any consecrations or ordinations he performs. Ordinations are invalid when those ordained do not have the right faith, and there is neither Apostolic Succession or priesthood. The episcopi vagantes are not within the succession and can no longer show an uninterrupted priesthood, for Apostolic Succession was severed in the West as of its apostasy and schism from Christ's Church in 1054.

Only the Orthodox Church can rightfully claim continuity in both episcopate and faith, for Orthodoxy has the complete and preserved Apostolic faith, without any additions or subtractions, and it alone is unchanged from the Apostolic period. Thus, when an Orthodox bishop is consecrated today, or when an Orthodox priest is ordained (from Apostolic times the priesthood has been the second degree of the hierarchy), that consecration or ordination can be traced historically all the way back to the Apostles and back to Christ. The hierarchy was established by Christ, and the Apostles were always citing its divine institution. The Apostles themselves chose their successors through ordination, and those successors were the bishops of the Church. Through Apostolic Succession, the Orthodox Church traces its existence to Christ and is the one Church founded by Him. As Holy Scripture states, "one Lord, one faith, one Baptism" (Eph 4:5), one Holy Tradition (2 Thes 2:15), and one Christian Church (Mt 16:18). All other Churches — that is, the 23,000 Churches of the West, originate from Orthodox Christianity by way of reduction and separation.

This subject is most serious, for in the Nicene Creed, Christians confess belief in "One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church." Precisely these four words show the characteristics of the one Church established by Christ and the Apostles. Thus, in addition to being One, Holy and Catholic (meaning universal), the true Church has an unbroken tie with the Apostles and is in historic continuity with the Church of the Apostles. The Apostles are the foundation of the Church, for it is "built upon the foundation of the Apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone" (Eph. 2:20). Calling the Church Apostolic indicates that it was established not on a single bishop, as the Roman Church would later come to assert (beginning in the ninth century), but upon all the Apostles. (Contrary to Rome's teaching of papal supremacy, Christ Himself forbade Peter and the other Apostles to reign or exercise lordship over the flock like the kings of the Gentiles — cf. Lk 22:25). The Orthodox Church is also Apostolic because it alone has its beginning in Christ, Who is the Apostle and High Priest of the confession (Heb. 3:11).

In the matter of the teachings of the Christian Churches, whenever it was necessary to contrast the theology of the Orthodox Church with Western Christianity's deviations from its former confession of Orthodox Christianity, these distinctions are presented in an objective, non-polemical way. The author feels no irritation at all against non-Orthodox Christians (for he was once one himself), nor does he dispute the piety and good will of these people. In fact, there is no doubt that most of these individuals are motivated by a love of God. However, the concern of this study is the correct confession of faith — not personal integrity. The reader is therefore asked not to be offended when, for the sake of truth, contrasts are made between Orthodoxy's ancient and unchanging teaching, vis-à-vis the deviations of Western Christianity from the faith it held prior to 1054.

It is also important for the reader to understand that Orthodoxy's claim of being Christ's one and only Church should not be a stumbling block to Western Christians. A Greek archbishop points out that it should be just the opposite: a point of attraction. He explains that Orthodoxy does not maintain its claim of primacy out of arrogance, but out of love for its traditions. Likewise, as a monk notes in this regard, Orthodoxy's primacy does not stem from any human merit on the part of the Orthodox, but because God is pleased to preserve His treasure in earthen vessels. The archbishop further explains that Orthodox Christians do not imagine that they hold something in their hands which is theirs, but which is universal and the domain of all who confess Christ. He states that Orthodoxy has maintained the integrity of faith, and that in this ancient Church is found the fullness of God's grace and truth. Orthodoxy offers that faith in the pure form in which it was handed down from the Apostles, and its boundaries are open to all human beings who embrace it.

The reader should also be told that some parts of this book may seem difficult. In order to obviate difficulties as much as possible, the writer consistently turned to Protopresbyter Michael Pomazansky's Orthodox Dogmatic Theology. As the preface to the English edition of this invaluable book notes, this work has become a standard source of Orthodox theology and has a practical approach that is missing in many works of contemporary academic theology. As the preface also states, Fr. Michael presents the certain and unchanging teaching of the Church in a clear and objective manner, with sober understatement, and thereby eliminates any confusion as to what that actual teaching is. Other sources were also used when they showed an unadorned directness of presentation, something often lacking in the textbook that was used for the correspondence theology course that was the basis of this book. Any further simplification of the answers, though, would have resulted in distorting and degrading them. If difficulties are encountered in a few places, let the reader not be discouraged, but continue until the reading becomes easier. He or she will then gain an understanding of what Western Christianity used to profess (prior to 1054), and what Eastern Orthodoxy still professes to this day, since Apostolic times.

The perceptive reader will observe that footnotes are not always given for cited texts. This shortcoming could not be emended as the writer no longer has access to many of the books and periodicals whose contents went into this work. When notes were initially gleaned from reading in monasteries and parish libraries around the country, it was never imagined that they would eventually be used in a book, and as a result, oftentimes there was no documentation of sources as would be done in formal research and composing. Moreover, as this work unfolded, it was not intended for publication, and thus there was no editor in its early stages to alter, adapt, refine and otherwise make valuable suggestions in matters of format and style to make the text better suited for presentation. However, author and title are generally given so that anyone interested in acquiring the books may do so. For those with a thirst for more knowledge, most of the books can still be obtained through the catalogues of the following publishing concerns:

Holy Trinity Monastery,

P.O. Box 36, Jordanville, NY 13361-0036

St. John of Kronstadt Press,

1180 Orthodox Way, Liberty, TN 37095-4366

As noted, the updated version of this book was written for individuals of the writer's acquaintance. It is especially meant for those among them who have no knowledge of Orthodoxy's boundless wealth of divinely revealed teaching and the patristic worldview. Living in a post-Christian pseudo-culture, modern people are saturated with Hollywood's decadent false values, and saturated with images and information filtered by a radically secular media bent on programming its audience with an anti-Christian worldview. All people are constantly exposed to many dangers from Christianity's enemies, who have been promoting a systematic destruction of Christian practices, and who have now subverted the entire civilized world that was once fully Christian. It is hoped that this material can serve to antidote that pagan indoctrination, and that it can lift the reader's heart above this fallen world so as to live in expectation of the eternal kingdom.

In presenting this revised redaction to the reader, a dilemma arose as to whether or not to use "gender neutral" or "inclusive" language. This concern is common to all modern writers, given the awareness that our fallen world has dealt some very real injustices to women, and also because non-sexist language is becoming the preferred standard in the academic and intellectual world. On the other hand, inclusive language hinders clear writing and communication. It makes for clumsy, cluttered writing that draws attention to construction and hinders meaning, something that would very much work against the entire purpose of this work. Moreover, inclusive language eliminates the possibility of transparency.

To the women readers of this book, you are probably not the belching, swaggering women who demand to be on top and lord it over men, or who demand that the Christian Churches revise their doctrines according to the feminist prescription. In their act of rebellion against God, these women seek to have God and religion serve their own purposes, and they operate with the idea that human beings are free to construct their own faith. (This way of thinking shows the extent to which subjectivism and relativism have been carried in an age of doctrinal relativity). While these kinds of women are known to the author and are welcome to read these pages, most who actually read this material will be those who seek instead to be found worthy to serve God. It is for these humble women that a note is in order to explain that whenever this book speaks about God and man, the word man in this context is used in the traditional and general sense of mankind, meaning humankind, men and women.

Lest the reader dismiss the writer as an obscurantist for not using the politically correct word human, it has to be pointed out that the distinction of "exclusive" language is political, not linguistic. Fr. Patrick Reardon, a convert to Orthodoxy and a scholarly philologist, notes that in its ordinary and generally understood use among the populace at large, when the word man is not grammatically or socially contextualized, it refers to human beings generally and is not used in a sense that excludes women. Both man and human are derived from the Latin humanus, which is generic. (Fr. Patrick notes that when this fact is discovered by the faddish academic world at large, and when the offensive word man is discovered in human and humanus, academia's thought police might next insist on expunging the word human from the English language as well).

The same linguistic scholar points out that the use of man and mankind to designate human beings is completely and unequivocally proper, and he demonstrates that linguistic tradition is abundantly clear on this point. For example, all the following words normally mean human beings as such (although in some contexts they can refer to men alone): ho anthropos (Greek), ha'adam (Hebrew), nôshô (Syriac), al-insan (Arabic), chelovyek (Russian), der Mensch (German), de man (Dutch), zmogús (Lithuanian), and homo (Latin), along with its derivations in Italian, French, Spanish, Portuguese and Romanian. Moreover, literally thousands of other examples from other languages could be given to show that this usage is a universal phenomenon, Fr. Patrick adds. As a former feminist, Sarah Cowie, who is now an Orthodox Christian, also explains, for centuries women had no trouble in seeming themselves included in the words mankind, men, man, and the masculine referent pronoun. She notes that inclusive language, which is about power and control and has the real goal of forcing social change, carries the false assumption that the present language is not inclusive.

To no one's surprise, semantic confusion in this area has been created by feminism. As this political interest group came into being against a background of mass apostasy and the complete secularization of society, it is one whose sociopolitical program should be examined.

At its inception, feminism (then called women's liberation) claimed to have as its purpose increased opportunities for women. Once its organized activities attracted people's attention through this alleged objective, this concern was quietly placed on a back burner in favor of another one — that of reducing humanity to a collection of victims of patriarchal tyranny and reducing the study of history and literature to political warfare carried on by other means.

Such a politicizing of history and literature is part of a broader deculturation that elite groups in the West are forcing onto people, a deculturation that attempts to regulate Christianity to a "regressive" mentality and that proclaims that it should not be given a public hearing. Feminism’s agenda has not only converged with this broader ideological program, but it has also pushed harder along these lines than any other single political interest group. For this reason, a growing number of women in the academic world have come to see feminism as an attack upon humanity itself, an attack on the West, and most of all, an attack upon Christianity. They also understand that in all the politically correct routine bashing of Western civilization (through which people are led to draw the unmistakable corollary conclusion that somehow Christianity is the root of all evil), the overriding concern of the cultural elite and feminists alike is to make people forget who they are and where they came from — the first necessary step in indoctrinating them for the anti-Christian "utopia," the new world order.

Fr. Patrick goes on to note that today there are entire battalions of self-appointed theorists, "experts," political agitators and other wardens of the mind who issue orders to university administrators and see to it that academic writers bring themselves into conformity with the new rules. When their demands are not complied with, writers' manuscripts are either rejected or edited, and some professors have even been denied tenure for not using the new politically correct way of thinking or writing.

Fr. Patrick examines this extensive and all-pervasive ideological control and notes that it is unparalleled in American history. Moreover, he adds, for some time now, those who promote it have even forced themselves into Church circles. There, thought police are coming to accredit a growing number of Christian seminaries, and the same orders are given to seminary administrators and bishops as are given to universities. In that environment, radical feminist thought police attempt to "re-image" God and "revise" divine revelation by modifying masculine titles through which He has traditionally been invoked or referred to: Father, Son, Lord, King, and so forth, even though Christians have always worshiped God as Father and pray to Him as "our Father." An example of this linguistic engineering is a new Methodist service book in which God is invoked by such names as "Father-Mother," in direct contradiction to what God has revealed about Himself. Another example is the Inclusive Language Lectionary of the Bible that was produced in 1983. In it, 209 passages were rewritten so that there were no masculine gender references to God. John 3:16, for instance, is rewritten in this absurd wording: "For God so loved the world that God gave God's only Child...." Feminism is also promoting a feminization of the Holy Spirit so that women can be consoled with their own divine Person.

When feminism is not always successful in turning God into "Mother," then it at least attempts to turn Him into a genderless abstraction: "the Creator," or "the Source." In its advanced stages, that is, in its anti-rational, goddess-worship modes, feminism is offering a new anti-Christian way for a new age in the new world order. Its agenda in this regard is one and the same as that of the forerunner agents of the antichrist.

Perhaps some readers of these lines have felt intimidated by the cultural tyranny, mind control and pseudo-intellectual babble coming from educators, media personalities, judges and business leaders who together shape the intellectual, political and social atmosphere of our country. Few can escape being affected in one way or another by the ideological war raging within our borders as it comes from a very well-educated, well-heeled, powerful cultural elite. For those who have felt coerced into being politically correct by their ideologically charged environment, understand that the enemies of Church and state have bullied and browbeat you into this submission in an attempt to de-Christianize you for the new world order. In order to achieve their global imperium, the globalists rely on their ability to poison people with hatred, which is the old principle of divide et impera (divide and rule). By promoting discord and dividing people against one another along as many lines as possible (gender, racial, and other lines), the masses can be turned into obedient instruments of the one-world forces in their sinister agenda. At present, their work is that of dismantling all underlying foundations of society — most of all the Christian Churches. Then, at the time the united world government is ushered in, their ultimate aim will be the total extermination of Christianity. At that time, Christians will be politically incorrect for professing Christ and for not bowing down to the modern idol of politically correct secular ideology. For these "crimes against humanity," all of them will summarily be dealt with by a world court of the new world order, or a Hague tribunal.

The world is now seething with unprecedented passions, and everyone can sense the approaching darkness. In view of these developments, the choice is now completely clear: capitulation to the politically correct mentality of the new world order that is undeniably insane and bent on the complete eradication of Christianity, or adherence to the traditional Christian worldview that is now out of fashion, "regressive." For a Christian, there can be no doubt that the time has come for there to be no further thought of being programmed like a computer into being politically correct.

Concerning men and women, an Orthodox nun observes that the separation into gender was made by God in foreknowledge of the fall of the primogenitors of the human race. This condition is temporary, something meant only for this world. The nun goes on to note that the Holy Fathers teach that the souls of men and women are the same and that they have the same spiritual capacities and capabilities and needs. Orthodoxy therefore does not denigrate or disparage — but exalts — Christian women. As a deacon goes on to note in this regard:

The Orthodox Church venerates tens of thousands of saints, both individually and collectively. A great many of these are women. A particular role is played by the Myrrhbear-ers, to whom the Resurrection was first revealed, and also by a group of women known as Equals-of-the-Apostles, who include great missionary saints. The Church also has collections of Sayings of the Spiritual Mothers containing the wisdom of female ascetics. One instance of the veneration of the Church for women is the way in which the Church venerates St. Monica as a saint but reveres her son as "Blessed Augustine," thus recognizing a greater degree of saintliness in the modest humility and silence of the mother than in the son who wrote many tomes of learned theology, much of it spiritually inspired, but a small amount of it sadly erroneous. It is almost to confirm a popular proverb: "Behind every great man stands a great woman." Indeed, this is confirmed in Church history; every great male saint has somehow been linked to a grandmother, a mother, a sister, a spiritual mother or sister or daughter, or simply, in the case of laymen and married clergy, a humble and pious spouse. The foremost example is, of course, our Lord and His Holy Mother [Deacon Andrew Philips].

Likewise, as the above mentioned Sarah Cowie writes in her book More Spirited than Lions:

I was still a feminist when I discovered the Orthodox Church. In my study of Orthodoxy, I discovered its soul-stunning beauty and power. I fell in love with its saints. I was profoundly touched by the vision of Christian womanhood I saw through their lives. They were living proof that the Orthodox Church is graced with mystical power that can bring a soul into direct, personal communication with its Creator [p. 18].

Regarding the women saints of the Church, the same writer notes that:

These were women like us who found answers — who lived heroic lives of courage, wisdom and holiness. They found a way of life and followed it unswervingly. They conquered both themselves and life's difficulties, and rose up to become noble, powerful women. Their lives shine forth in our lives with a light that is not of this world.... They are able to touch our souls and lift us up out of our quotidian life into a vision of nobility and beauty of soul [p. 19].

Sarah Cowie comments further on women who were Equals-of-the-Apostles, Fools-for-Christ's-Sake, holy eldresses, preachers, ascetics, abbesses, anchorites, prophetesses, queens, mothers, confessors, teachers and martyrs, noting that these saints did not find favor with God through ambition or demanding their "rights." Instead, they were given the gifts of the Holy Spirit according to their humility, and because they submitted to Christ through His Church. They were also granted unceasing noetic prayer and became miracle-workers and healers, and after their repose, their bodies remained incorrupt and gushed myrrh that healed the sick. So powerful an impact does the example of their lives have that it was able to draw Sarah Cowie and many like her out of the anarchy and hell of feminism and the New Age movement, to Orthodox Christianity, which transforms men and women and gives them the strength to live in the most difficult and tormenting conditions, and which prepares them to depart with peace into the next life.

Although women have been greatly mistreated in this sinful world, this book does not do the same through its use of traditional language. It bears emphasizing that in no way does this work overlook that half of the human race — women — to whom God Himself granted a more sensitive, keen and impressionable nature, gifted with more warmhearted tenderness than men, who are coarse by nature. Therefore, let no women be troubled by the politically incorrect word man in the text. There is no antifeminine bias in this wording, and most certainly there is none whatsoever in Orthodox Christianity.

To all readers — men and women alike — if you have studied Church history in your spiritual search but have not looked to the East, which is the very cradle of Christianity, your search is not complete. Commenting on the vision of Church history that exists in the West, a convert from Roman Catholicism to Eastern Orthodoxy writes that:

Most Roman Catholics, when they think of the early Church, think of Rome, the popes, the martyrs, the catacombs and the Coliseum. This view is perfectly understandable, because for Roman Catholics and Protestants, their spiritual genesis lies in Rome — i.e., Rome was the center of Western Christianity. The early Church, however, was overwhelmingly Eastern and Greek. [The East] had the greatest population density and its people were better educated and more sophisticated than their Western brethren. The East could claim forty-four Churches of Apostolic origin, versus one for the West. The West was not the center of Christianity but for many hundreds of years was a missionary field and with the barbarian invasions had become a cultural backwater. The East held four of the five Patriarchates — i.e., Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem; two of these, Alexandria and Antioch, contained the first schools of biblical interpretation. The Seven Great Ecumenical Councils were all held in the East, with an overwhelming presence of Eastern bishops [Michael Whelton, Two Paths... p. 49].

Many Western Christians, parched wayfarers in these dry and thirsty times, have become totally disillusioned as their Churches have joined the latest whims and infatuations of the surrounding culture in an attempt to be "relevant" and experience worldly glory. Moreover, they have come to understand that their secularized Western Churches have succumbed to Christ's three temptations in the desert instead of overcoming them, and that they belong to a Church that crucifies instead of being crucified. As one individual who became Orthodox expressed it, Western Christianity was "too outward" for him, "not inward." It was "too comfortable, having accommodated itself to the world and taken its lead from the world" [Fr. Damascene Christiansen]. As he and countless other converts to Orthodoxy have observed, the Western Churches offer only easy, trivial and shallow solutions to the deeper questions that confront all people on their journey through life. As a result, those Churches can only spread disappointment and despair to all who try to find something deeper and more essential.

Through the mercy of God, many conservative Roman Catholic and Protestant Christians are finding their way through the doors of the Ark of Salvation, the Orthodox Church, before God closes its doors forever in the final times. As the Encyclopedia Britannica Yearbook reports, the Orthodox Church is the fastest growing mainline Church in North America [1995 ed., p. 275; 1996 ed., p. 298]. Likewise, an article in the April 4, 1998 edition of the Chicago Tribune noted that "within the last decade, Orthodox Christians in America have begun to welcome tens of thousands of converts, especially dissatisfied Protestant Christians." For these people, Orthodoxy's unworldliness, the beauty of its services, the longevity of its Tradition, its being the original and the one Church founded by Christ, and its holding and preserving the faith of the Apostles as a precious jewel — all these things make Orthodoxy highly attractive to these Western newcomers. Many of these inquirers are ministers or better-informed laymen, and all are sincere seekers of the truth.

Readers of this book, you of different backgrounds and concerns, you have all been disappointed by humanistic systems and strange ideas that you have picked up along the way in seeking something true to fill your soul. All of you have had negative experiences and great spiritual suffering in this neo-pagan society of our times. You look to Christianity for a knowledge of the true God, the uncreated Consubstantial Trinity and Source of all good, so that you can rightly believe in Him and worthily honor Him. You have had some positive experiences in the Western Churches (for in them the Gospel is proclaimed), yet you have also had to feel the spiritual bankruptcy that exists in the subjective, make-it-up-as-you-go-along denominations that are forever changing, that are constantly seeking to develop new theological ideas, new truths, and new understandings, and where religion is anything its adherents want it to be.

This study is for such people as yourselves, for it offers an initial glimpse of true historical Christianity that never changes (something you did not know exists), and it contrasts that purest form of Christianity with the great distortions of it that have come down in the West. "As far as the East is from the West" (Psalm 103:12), so far is the Truth of Eastern Orthodox Christianity from the contradictory teachings of the 23,000 Western denominations. Once you come to see what those differences are about, you will never view things the same again.

These pages invite you to look to the East, to Eastern Orthodoxy, for the Orthodox Church is the sole grace-giving Church. As one writer reflects, its altar is undefiled, its doctrine is pure, its Mysteries (Sacraments) are full of grace and holy, and its Sacred Apostolic Tradition has been preserved. It is in this ancient Church that by God's grace, one's salvation from this life of perdition is accomplished.

Steven Kovacevich

Pascha of 2003


1. Survey of Church History: The Beginnings.

1. What is meant by the expression the Church has come a full circle?

The question refers to the historic Church that Christ and His Apostles established on earth, the Eastern Orthodox Christian Church, which comes down in a straight succession without change from the age of the Apostles. The Orthodox Church has retained the continuity and purity of ancient Christian teaching, and it is the carrier of the fullest, most accurate, authentic, ancient and historic Christian tradition, one that dates to the earliest Christian times. Even the most polemic Westerners acknowledge that Orthodoxy's tradition is the oldest in Christendom. Orthodox Christianity has the "fullness of faith delivered once and for all to the saints" (Jude 1:3), and it is the repository of "all that the Lord gave, the Apostles preached, and the Fathers preserved," as St. Athanasius the Great (+373) expressed it. From the beginning of the world, there was one faith only, and one Saviour and Redeemer. The Orthodox Christian faith is but the original and Old Testament faith made complete and clear.

Many Western Christians have come to realize that the Orthodox Church is the very continuation of the ancient Church in modern times. Two Americans who converted to Orthodoxy, for example, observe that:

The Orthodox Church, especially now with the freedom of Eastern Europe, is gaining ever greater attention in the Christian West. The Western world is suddenly discovering that the second largest Christian Church, numbering 350 million or more souls, lays claim to antiquity — indeed to a history that reaches back to the time of the Apostles — and to a rich spiritual tradition that reaches far beyond the limits of Western theological thought. As they rediscover the Church of the Tsars and of the nineteenth-century Eastern monarchies, the Christians of the Occident are also discovering a Christianity much older than the Church of Rome, a Church which discussed and resolved many of the issues of the Reformation long before Western Christianity was separated from its Eastern roots. They are finding that the old political and theological prejudices that served to relegate that separation to the short memory of history are falling away. With the light of new knowledge from the East, we in the West are coming to understand that it was Rome that broke away from the ancient Patriarchates of the East in 1054, not the Eastern Orthodox Church which cut itself off from the Latin Church. We are coming to see the truncated vision of Christianity which has marked our intellectual history for more than five centuries. And as this happens, more and more Western Christians are embracing the Orthodox Church as the criterion of Christianity, as the source and mother of their own beliefs [Fr. David Cownie and Presbytera Juliana Cownie, A Guide to Orthodox Life: Some Beliefs, Customs and Traditions of the Church, p. 1].

Concerning the 23,000 Western Churches (which are not the direct concern of this work, but which will still be examined), these are part of a larger body of groups that broke away from Orthodoxy since the time of the primitive Church, in accordance with the Apostle Paul's words that "there must also be heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest" (1 Cor 11:19). As St. Justin (Popovich) of Chelije (+1979) writes in this regard, from time to time, many individuals

... have cut themselves off and have fallen away from the one and indivisible Church of Christ, whereby they ceased to be members of the Church and parts of her Theanthropic body. The first to fall away thus were the Gnostics, then the Arians, then the Macedonians, then the Monophysites, then the Iconoclasts, then the Roman Catholics, then the Protestants, then the Uniates, and so on....

As Protopresbyter Michael Pomazansky goes on to add:

Side by side with the straight, or right, path of faith, there have always been those who thought differently (heterodoxountes, or heterodox, in the expression of St. Ignatius the God-Bearer), a world of greater or lesser errors among Christians, and sometimes even whole incorrect systems which attempted to burst into the midst of Orthodox Christians. As a result of the quest for truth there occurred divisions among Christians.

Becoming acquainted with the history of the Church, and likewise observing the contemporary world, we see that the errors which war against Orthodox Truth have appeared and do appear a) under the influence of other religions, b) under the influence of philosophy, and c) through the weaknesses and inclinations of fallen human nature, which seeks the rights and justifications of these weaknesses and inclinations.

Errors take root and become obstinate most frequently because of the pride of those who defend them, because of intellectual pride [Orthodox Dogmatic Theology, pp. 23-24].

Here it is important to note that Orthodoxy does not belittle those who have separated from it. A Greek hierarch explains that St. Maximus the Confessor (+662), while expressing absolute disdain for false teachings and those things which defile the faith, nevertheless dismissed as abhorrent any harm directed against those who hold false beliefs themselves. He clearly separated false beliefs from the people who held them. In the same way, Orthodoxy abhors intolerance, condemnation, and the dismissal of the worth of any human being. While Orthodoxy condemns false beliefs that threaten it, it does not condemn those who are misled by falsehood. The devil is the source of evil doctrine, and Orthodoxy condemns him and his minions and the poison they spread. However, the bishop concludes, those who are poisoned by the devil by holding false beliefs are not his, but are creatures of God, suffering from the deadly, soul-destroying jealousy of the devil.

The full circle concept in the question refers to the complete cycle that the Orthodox Church has gone through over the course of two thousand years. True to Christ's words that His followers would be hated by the world (cf. Jn 15:18-20, Mk 13:13, Mt 5:11, Lk 6:22-23, Mt 24:9-13), virtually all major persecutions for the Christian faith have fallen upon ancient Orthodox Christianity.

Many in Israel chose not to follow Christ, and as a result, the torch of faithfulness to Christ largely passed to the Gentiles, former pagans, as the Prophet Isaiah had foretold some seven hundred years earlier (Is 2:2,60:3,5). Christianity then began to spread with miraculous speed from Jerusalem, through the Levant and the Roman Empire and beyond, and it continued to make inroads among the pagans.

As the prince of this world, Satan, reigned in paganism, which was a kingdom of sin, he inevitably sensed a destructive force for him in Christianity. Having at his disposal the full political force of the pagan world, his immediate reaction was to promote a bloody and total annihilation of the Church. For three centuries, Christian blood was spilt throughout the lands of the entire Roman Empire, although the remarkable steadfastness and self-sacrifice of the Christian martyrs proved to be the best witness of their faith. The pagans were awestruck by this witness, and they themselves converted and began to fill the ranks of the martyrs of the persecuted faith. Thus, the blood of the Christian martyrs became the seeds or Christianity, and persecution could not halt its spread.

Although the author of the textbook for this course states that the Roman Emperor Constantine's conversion to Christianity brought an end to the age of martyrs, this assertion is not in fact so, and one can only conclude that he is simply not completely well grounded in Church history to make so elementary an error of fact. Constantine’s conversion did end the initial age of the catacombs and produced the Christian Roman Empire (or Byzantine Empire, as Western historians named it), during which time the Orthodox Church produced the Liturgy, the Creed, the Bible, monasticism, and the whole Christian lifestyle with its elevated ideals and holiness that are totally alien to the corrupt world.

Even so, the age of martyrs continued. As Archpriest Alexey Young notes in this regard, Orthodox Christianity has lived for two thousand years on the edge of eternity. It has been faced time and again with virtual extermination by different conquerors, persecutors and heretical movements, nourished even in our times by the blood of countless martyrs. Orthodoxy has always passed through the ages persecuted, wounded and bloody, like its Divine Founder. The same writer continues, noting that true to Christ's promise, however, the gates of hell never prevailed against His Church (Mt 16:18). Despite all possible persecution by the mighty of this world, Orthodoxy has not been vanquished, but it has always survived victorious. To this day it still survives intact and gloriously pure, its gaze steadily focused on the end of the ages and the Second Coming of Christ.

Beginning in the seventh century, the rise of Islam came about with astonishing speed, taking Syria, Palestine, Egypt and northern Africa, and Spain. Later, starting in the fourteenth century, the Ottoman Turkish Sultanate began to conquer the Balkans, anterior Asia and northern Africa, beginning a domination that would continue until the early part of the twentieth century.

A Greek hierarch explains that in essence, Islam is a Christian heresy, having its historical roots in the very areas inhabited and sanctified by the ancient Desert Fathers. He mentions that it took from Christianity not only the dress of its clergy, but the model for the minaret (the towers on top of which the stylites lived and practiced their ascesis), the practice of making full prostrations during prayer, and other things as well. (Even the practice of removing their shoes in prayer when entering a mosque is of Christian origin. In early times, this practice was observed in Christianity, just as priests removed their shoes when entering the altar). It is also a well-known fact that Mohammed was educated by a Jewish relative Varakh, who taught him the Old Testament and instilled in him a hatred of Christianity — a hatred that was transmitted straight into the Koran.

It is the duty of Islam and of each individual Moslem to convert every person to the Islamic religion, and by whatever means necessary, including swordpoint. This policy is fundamental for Islam's teaching (and it was likewise adopted by Roman Catholicism after its apostasy and schism in 1054, in complete contradiction to the teaching of the Gospel). Moreover, in the event attempts at conversion fail, the ultimate aim of Islam is the extermination of every "infidel" from the face of the earth.

Under the Moslems, Christians were once again forced to enter the catacombs, as it were, to live in constant expectation of violence, horrendous torture and death (things the West is only beginning to understand in light of the recent growth of Islamic fundamentalism and the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States). For 400 years in Greece and 500 years in Serbia and other parts of the Balkans, entire villages of Christians — men, women and children — were impaled on thousands of stakes planted along the sides of roads. This situation of living in a sea of violence continues unabated even to this day among those Christians witnessing a recrudescence of warlike fanaticism on the part of the Moslems.

Likewise, the Roman Catholic Church, ever since its departure from the ancient Apostolic Church in 1054, has acted with all possible malice in its attempts to destroy Christ's Church. Writing of the Latin Church's numerous inquisitions and mass murders of the Orthodox (something that continues to these times), St. John of Kronstadt (+1908), a contemporary of the last Russian Tsar, stated:

The Roman Church is not only the mother of countless offenses perpetrated against God and His Holy Scriptures, and against Tradition, but of gruesome and bloody atrocities against Orthodox Christians on the part of Rome's pope, its bishops and its clergy.

Prior to the year 1054, the Roman Church was united to the Eastern Orthodox Church; both were a part of the ancient Apostolic Church of Christ. Orthodox Christianity is indigenous to all the West, as well as the East, having come to Italy, Gaul, Scandinavia, Ireland and the entire West long before the East-West schism of 1054. There was only one Christendom (something which has survived down to our own days in the form of the Orthodox Church, which is the only true continuation of the early undivided Church). For one thousand years, the Christian Church — both East and West — lived together in harmony and essential oneness, and its bishops governed the Church as equals. In addition, the bishop of Rome held a position as patriarch of the West, whose authority consisted of jurisdiction over all the bishops in his metropolitan see, just as the patriarchs of Jerusalem, Constantinople, and elsewhere, oversaw the bishops of their respective sees. (A see is the territory of a bishop's jurisdiction). All bishops in Christendom were regarded as equal, and none was seen as an episcopus episcoporum, a "bishop of bishops." This same understanding has been maintained to this day in Orthodoxy. Certain of its bishops — patriarchs, metropolitans, archbishops — enjoy special status among other bishops, but they are not above them.

Beginning in the ninth century, East and West began to drift apart when the bishop of Rome, or pope, began to introduce new and foreign ideas into the faith. (The words pope and patriarch were commonly used in the early Church to refer to the bishops of important historical sees. Pope was not a designation reserved only for Rome's bishop, contrary to what many today erroneously think). One of the false ideas was that of the supremacy of the bishop of Rome over the bishops of Jerusalem, Constantinople, Alexandria and Antioch, and over all other bishops, of whom there were hundreds by that time. Protopriest Victor Potapov notes that under the influence of national traditions that were bound up with the might of ancient Rome, the Romans came to think that mighty Rome should have the same significance in Church affairs as it had in affairs of state. Especially powerful in the Roman mindset was the idea of the monarchical absolutism of the Roman emperors, which went so far as proclaiming them gods. The idea of unlimited supremacy in one person over the whole world became an ecclesiastical idea in the West, and it came to be transferred from the emperor to the Roman pope. Even the title Pontifex Maximus that the Roman emperors bore was taken over by the popes. Thus, Fr. Victor notes, a striving for self-exaltation and domination over the Church overtook the Roman popes, and in this striving, Rome entered the path of error. As Fr. Theodore Pulcini, a convert from Roman Catholicism to Orthodoxy, goes on to point out, "The division between the Eastern and Western Churches was not the result of Orthodoxy's stubborn refusal to recognize papal authority, but of Roman Catholicism's unjustifiable claims." [Orthodoxy and Catholicism: What are the Differences? pp. 8-9].

Concerning the role that the Apostle Peter played in Rome, Scripture is silent. However, Fr. Raymond Brown, a Roman Catholic priest and Church historian, makes the following noteworthy observations:

We have no knowledge at all when [the Apostle Peter] came to Rome and just what he did there before he was martyred. Certainly he was not the original missionary who brought Christianity to Rome, and therefore was not the founder of the Church of Rome in that sense. There is no proof that he was the bishop (or local ecclesiastical officer) of the Roman Church — a claim not made [by Rome] until the third century. Most likely he did not spend any major time in Rome before 58 AD... and came to the capital city shortly before his martyrdom [Quoted in The Myth of Papal Infallibility, pp. 33-34].

As D.W. O’Conner also writes concerning this matter:

Nothing can be finally determined, however, about when Peter came to Rome, how long he stayed, or what function of leadership, if any, he exercised in the Roman Church [Ibid., p. 35].

Harvard-educated and twice Fulbright scholar Dr. Constantine Cavarnos sums up this uncertainty of Catholic scholars in his notation that the Roman Catholic Church defined its founder to be the Apostle Peter. This claim was made not because Peter had in fact founded the Church of Rome, but because the Latin Church wanted to exploit certain passages in the Gospels where the Apostle Peter is mentioned, and wanted to base the dogma of papal primacy on those passages.

According to the Acts of the Apostles, it was the Apostle Paul who first taught Christianity in Rome. However, neither St. Paul, the actual founder of the Church of Rome, nor St. Peter (perhaps the co-founder) ever held any actual primacy in the Church, nor did any city. (In the matter of Peter's being the co-founder of the Church of Rome, the authorities differ, although had Peter truly been the first bishop of Rome, it is inconceivable that Paul would have ignored his presence — cf. Rom 15:20). The notion of papal primacy is ludicrous to Eastern Christians, for Christian primacy rests squarely on the Divinity of Christ. As Protopresbyter Michael Pomazansky explains:

The Orthodox Church of Christ refuses to recognize yet another head of the Church in the form of a Vicar of Christ on Earth, a title given in the Roman Catholic Church to the bishop of Rome. Such a title does not correspond either to the word of God or to the universal Church consciousness and tradition; it tears away the Church on earth from immediate unity with the heavenly Church. A vicar is assigned during the absence of the one replaced; but Christ is invisibly present in His Church always.

The rejection by the ancient Church of the view of the bishop of Rome as the Head of the Church and Vicar of Christ upon earth is expressed in the writings of those who were active in the Ecumenical Councils [Protopresbyter Michael Pomazansky, Op. cit., p. 228].

As another writer also noted, the "Vicars of Christ on Earth," with their pretensions not only to spiritual, but also to temporal authority, were representatives of spiritual pride. No greater spiritual pride can be imagined than the conviction of one's own infallibility.

St. Cyprian of Carthage (+258), himself a bishop and one of the most authoritative of the early Church Fathers — and also regarded as a saint by the Roman Catholic Church — spoke about the authority of bishops in the following way:

Let each one give his opinion without judging anyone and without separating from the communion of those who are not of his opinion; for none of us sets himself up as a bishop of bishops, nor compels his brethren to obey him by means of tyrannical terror, every bishop having full liberty and complete power; as he cannot be judged by another, neither can he judge another. Let us all wait the judgment of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who alone has the power to appoint us to the government of His Church and to judge our conduct [Quoted in Abbé Guetée, The Papacy: Its Historic Origins and Primitive Relations with the Eastern Churches, 1866].

Knowing that Rome's novel teaching of a supreme ruler with primacy of jurisdiction would divide and corrupt the Church, the Eastern patriarchs pleaded with the Roman patriarch not to introduce this false teaching. Another innovation that Rome began to introduce was its changing the Nicene Creed that had been established by the early Church. Based on Holy Scriptures and the truths that the Church has always held since the time of the Apostles, this Creed is a summary of the beliefs of the Christian Church. The Eastern Church warned the Church in the West of the dangers of changing any part of the Christian faith, and especially the very Creed itself. However, Rome insisted on its innovations, even though the believers resisted.

During these difficult times, many attempts were made to work out the differences between the Eastern and Western Churches, and all of Christendom tried to call Rome back to the orthodox understanding of Christianity. In the end, though, the Orthodox Church could not compromise and allow the faith to be changed and corrupted, and for its part, Rome had already made its decision to part ways and would not come back. In 1054, the Roman Church officially severed itself from the ancient sees of the Christian Church, including the Mother Church, the first Church of Christendom — Jerusalem, and from the Church where Christians were first known by that name — Antioch (Acts 11:26), and from the rest of the Christian Church. As Thomas Hulbert, a Dutch convert to Orthodoxy notes, the Great Schism of 1054 proved to be a heavy curtain dividing Christianity: it cut the West off from the right doctrines and the right faith preserved in Eastern Orthodoxy.

Like the non-Chalcedonians before him, the pope precipitated another schism, and like them, he estranged himself and his followers from the Church. In the Great Schism of 1054, one of the Churches — and only one — Rome, separated itself from the ancient Churches which had been preserved in the East since the time of the Apostles. Concerning Rome's schism, the Roman Catholic writer, former Jesuit priest and insider at the Vatican, Malachi Martin, writes that the Latin Church was

…now ready to abandon one half of Christianity (and the more ancient, the more flourishing part) for the sake of worldly ambition.... In their greed and jealousy, the Roman popes asserted an absolutist primacy that Eastern Christians will never accept. The damage went even further. Once Rome was willing to sacrifice the oldest and most substantial part of Christianity to its own concept of power, it is small wonder that it could not be bothered by an obscure but loudmouthed Augustinian monk called Martin Luther.... The popes, blindly and without thinking, cast off half of Europe and made straight the way for the Protestant Reformation [The Decline and Fall of the Roman Church, 1981].

In the aftermath of this devastating schism, the West experienced tremendous turmoil and corruption. The Crusades were undertaken, which evolved into an attack upon the Eastern Church. Later came the Inquisition, then the Renaissance, which mixed pagan ideas with Christianity, and finally the Protestant Reformation, which splintered Western Christianity into thousands of denominations.

Having succumbed to one of the temptations put to Christ by Satan in the wilderness, that of worldly domination, and severed at that juncture from the true doctrine of the East and the grace of the Holy Spirit, Rome stopped looking to the Church as something otherworldly which pointed believers to Heaven. Instead, it became this-worldly and pointed them to the earthly organization, thus beginning "organized religion." Now regarding the authority of the Roman Caesars as their own prerogative, the popes seized power in the temporal sphere and asserted an absolute authority and universal domination over all mankind.

Carrying one step further the ambition of supreme worldly power that the power-hungry popes arrogated to themselves, the infamous Jesuit order, the shock troops for Rome, promulgated the slogan that the end justifies the means. Translated into action, this principle meant that whenever Rome's bloodthirsty Uniate movement could not persuade Orthodox Christians to become Uniate Catholics under Rome through words, the Latin Church was then justified in using force and murder, for "error has no rights," Rome believes, and is therefore subject to "control" by decree and deed. One such decree, the Syllabus of Errors propagated by Pope Pius IX in 1864, demands that the "Roman Church be regarded as the only religion of the state, to the exclusion of all other religions" (#77). This same decree, which is listed in the Catholic Dictionary as being the official teaching of the faith, has never been retracted or disowned by the Latin Church, although its contents have been closeted. In another place, the decree proclaims that the Roman Catholic Church has "the power to employ force, or any temporal power, direct or indirect," when dealing with persons dangerous to it (#24), and it claims that it is pernicious to deny that the Church has "immunity from civil law or its penalties" (#37). The textbook for this course notes that the tale of the Uniate movement in Poland makes sorrowful reading: the Jesuits began by using deceit and ended by resorting to violence.

After its separation from Orthodoxy, the Latin Church promoted countless murderous inquisitions in Eastern Europe. As a Greek monk notes, Rome conducted these genocides through the same Unia, the papacy's most effective siege engine, which operates as the janissaries of the papacy, with all the fanaticism of the janissaries, against Orthodoxy. Among the many inquisitions in the twentieth century, one took place in World War II Poland, where the Latins murdered 800,000 Orthodox. At the same time and at the direction of the same black hand, in Croatia, Catholic killer clergy (most notably the Franciscans) and killer police massacred 750,000 Orthodox for their refusal to renounce Orthodoxy and embrace Roman Catholicism, although not before submitting them to infinitely gruesome tortures, no doubt the worst recorded in the annals of history. One of the members of the evil coven of sadistic clergy assassins openly boasted that he alone had killed 40,000 of the Orthodox. As Alexei Khomiakov perceptibly noted, the ancestors of Roman Catholics who long ago committed moral fratricide by unilaterally changing the Church's Creed invariably would resort to physical fratricide. Such they did, and well did St. Nikolai Velimirovich (+1956) call the Latin Church a semi-military organization that has used all means to gain world domination.

By far the most virulent and deadly form of anti-Christianity the world has so far witnessed is the end-times phenomenon of Communism, an outburst of primordial satanism that was created and financed in the West, and that was unleashed upon Russia by Western capitalism as an experiment for the one-world government of the antichrist. Because of that great cataclysm, far more Christians have lost their lives for their Orthodox faith in the tragic, pre-apocalyptic twentieth century than in the three hundred years following Christ's Crucifixion.

Communism is part of the "mystery of iniquity" (2 Thes 2:7, Apoc 17:5), that is, Satan's plan of battle with Christ's Church. Archpriest Boris Molchanoff explains that this process has been in motion for ages and that it will reach its culmination at the appearance of the antichrist (2 Thes 2:8).

Writing of a "force that withholdeth" the mystery of iniquity (2 Thes 2:6), the Apostle Paul states that this force will be "taken out of the way" (2 Thes 2:7). As the meaning of the withholding power in this passage is not obvious, Fr. Paul Volmensky provides the following explanation:

In seeing the everlasting battle of Satan for supremacy over the entire world, God gave a restraining power which does not let the devil deploy his various means. Limiting the power of the devil so that he could not destroy us, God does not deprive us of the freedom to choose to serve Him. Digression from God denotes an increase of iniquity. When almost all of mankind of its own will shall be immersed in evil, not seeking communion with God and eternal life, then the restraining power of God will withdraw, antichrist will appear, and the end shall come to all....

The appearance of the antichrist shall not take place until divine providence determines the time at which moment the "withholder" will be taken away. According to the Holy Fathers, what withholdeth is the Holy Spirit and Roman authority ["In Memory of Tsar-Martyr Nicholas II," Orthodox Life, vol. 43, no. 4, 1993, pp. 2-4; emphasis added].

Concerning these two parts of the withholding force — the role of the Holy Spirit and that of Roman authority, comment is needed on both. The same Fr. Paul explains the Holy Spirit's role by noting:

Some Fathers explain that antichrist shall not come while the Holy Spirit abides in people, while people possess an intimate, grace-filled union with the Lord through the fulfillment of God's commandments. When evil shall be multiplied among people and no longer shall there be men seeking eternal life, then the Holy Spirit will withdraw from the world. If there is no one on earth being saved, then there is no further need for its existence. People darkened by sin, in whom the Holy Spirit is absent, will accelerate the end of the world. They themselves shall rise up against lawful government authority and deprive themselves of that restraining power which would have hindered the appearance and activities of the antichrist [Ibid., p. 4].

Archimandrite Panteleimon (+1984), a co-founder of the Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville, New York, provides a well developed and detailed analysis of the other factor that withholds — that is, the Roman authority. He writes:

What are the means for restraining the antichrist so that the elect may be brought to salvation? Our Fathers considered the withholding power of the antichrist to be the Roman Empire. In their time the Roman Empire still existed and it was possible to support this interpretation based on the prophecy of the Prophet Daniel. In our times, the only significance we can give to such an idea is within the context of understanding the Roman Empire to mean imperial (monarchical) power in general. Concerning such power, we should understand it to be a monarchy which has the ability to control social movement, and at the same time adhere to Christian principles. It does not allow the people to stray from these principles; it contains the people. Since the antichrist will have as his main task the goal of attracting the people away from Christ, he therefore will not arrive if monarchy is still in control. This power will not allow him to appear; it impedes his negating spiritual activity. This is the withholding power. When the monarchy fails, and everywhere nations institute self-government (republics, democracies), then the antichrist will be able to act freely. It will not be difficult for Satan to prepare voters to renounce Christ, as experience taught us during the French Revolution. There will be no one to veto the movement. A humble declaration of faith will not be heard. Thus, when such a social order is instituted everywhere, making it easy for anti-Christian movements to appear, then the antichrist will come forth. St. John Chrysostom's words lead us to this thought when in his time monarchy was understood to mean the Roman Empire. "When it is said that the Roman government has ceased to be, then the antichrist will appear. Until that time the government [monarchy] will be feared. No one will easily follow the antichrist. After this time, when such control will be liquidated, anarchy will triumph, and the antichrist will try to capture all human and divine power." [A Ray of Light: Instructions in Piety and the State of the World at the End of Time, p. 38; emphasis added].

Analyzing further the term what withholdeth, Fr. Paul adds that:

The Russian Fathers of the Church ascribed particular significance to the Russian Orthodox sovereign, the only protector of Orthodoxy in the whole world. For example, this is what the holy righteous John of Kronstadt taught about royal authority: "By means of sovereigns the Lord watches over the good of earthly kingdoms, especially the good of the peace of His Church. Through them He does not allow godless teaching, heresies and schisms to overwhelm her. And the greatest villain of the world, the antichrist, cannot appear in our midst, because of autocratic authority (that is, the benevolent Orthodox sovereignty), deterring the lawless reeling and absurd teaching of the ungodly. The Apostle says that antichrist shall not appear on earth as long as autocratic authority shall exist" [Op. cit., p. 4].

In these pre-apocalyptic times, the significance of the removal of the withholding power cannot be overemphasized. It is therefore important to examine this matter even further, and Fr. Michael Azkoul does so with careful and elaborate detail. In his booklet Sacred Monarchy and the Modern Secular State, Fr. Michael explains that Communism put an end to the four great empires that were to rule upon earth, as foretold by the Prophet Daniel. According to this prophecy, these four empires were the Egyptian, the Persian, the Greek and the Roman, after which would come the end times.

The same writer goes on to note that the Roman Empire was both pagan (inaugurated by Augustus Caesar) and Christian (inaugurated by Constantine the Great). The Christian Roman Empire had two phases as well: the Byzantine Greek and the Russian. As Schema-Archimandrite Damian of the Ascension Monastery in Resaca, Georgia adds, from Constantine to the fall of Constantinople in 1453, the mantle of "Protector of the Church" fell upon the shoulders of the Roman authority, then resident in Constantinople, the Second Rome. With the fall of Constantinople, this mantle fell to the lineage of the Russian Tsars to protect and preserve the well-being of the Church. Thus, Tsar Nicholas II and his predecessors, having received autocratic authority from Byzantium, were successors to Constantine and those Greek (or Byzantine) emperors who followed him. Such was God's providential means of establishing the Orthodox Christian Church in the world.

Continuing, Fr. Michael explains that the Russian Empire, the last phase of the Roman Imperium, successor to Byzantium or Christian Rome, was the last Christian society, and Tsar Nicholas II was the last Christian emperor, as true kingship depends upon the true faith. Thus, none of the heretical societies of the post-Orthodox West can be spoken of as a societas Christiana. Fr. Michael also states that there has never been a monarch in the post-schism West "by the grace of God." (One can observe a striking example of this principle in the so-called Holy Roman Empire. Historians note that this empire was not holy but was very secular. As an Orthodox historian notes in this regard, the Holy Roman Empire was conceived in heresy, born in schism, and maintained in existence in order to bolster the power of the heretical popes against the Orthodox Church). Unlike the monarchies and kingdoms of apostate Western Europe, the Russian monarchy maintained the true faith as given by the Holy Apostles and kept in the Eastern Orthodox Church.

The Russian Tsar played a decisive role in restraining the approach of the satanic powers. Western Europe was well aware of the might of its Orthodox Christian neighbor in maintaining peace, and the title the Peacemaker was ascribed to Tsar Alexander III not by the Russians, but by the West. Likewise, after the destruction of Russia by Communism, one authoritative Western historian, Professor G. Ferrero of the Roman National University, wrote that:

Europe urgently needs peace. Innumerable misfortunes are threatening us from all sides. Why? Because Imperial Russia is no more. And without her, there is no more peace, which she alone brought to the world. After the victory over Napoleon, Russia completely gave herself over to the cult of peace. Russia's amazing aspiration to maintain and protect peace at any cost and simultaneously with absolute selflessness, must be acknowledged as a deep mystery. Balance in the world shall not ensure and we shall not avoid crises until Russia will arise in all of her glory [Quoted in Fr. Paul Volmensky, op. cit., pp. 4-5].

As the devil recognized that the Russian monarchy interfered with his attempts to possess the whole world, it was necessary to destroy that authority. Archbishop Averky (+1976) of Jordanville explains that the murder of the Royal House of Russia was not a political act, but rather purely spiritual, one closely bound up with the battle against God and faith. He states:

This murder was thought out and organized by none other than the servants of the approaching antichrist. Those people, who having sold their souls to Satan, are executing the most intense preparation for the hasty reign of the enemy of Christ, antichrist, over the whole world. They understood perfectly well that the main obstacle standing in their way was Orthodox Imperial Russia.... And for the quickest and surest annihilation of Russia, it was necessary to annihilate the one who was its living symbol, the Orthodox Tsar.

It is for the foregoing reasons that the Russian Fathers of the Church view the Russian monarchy as the withholding power. Moreover, as Fr. Michael explains, the murder of the last Tsar brought about the extinction of the Age of Constantine and the end to God's plans concerning world empires. With the disappearance of Christian Rome, that which restrained world revolution, world atheism, anarchy and apostasy is no more, and Satan works unbridled and performs his dark schemes on a world scale. No longer is there any earthly authority to hinder him. 1918, the year Russia's royal family was killed, is a watershed year in human history, for it ushered in the pre-apocalyptic epoch through which we are currently living.

The seer of mysteries, St. John the Theologian, describes these end-times events in terms of Satan's being set free from his temporary bondage, or thousand-year bondage, as he allegorically calls it in Revelation 20:1-2. This thousand-year bondage is another important matter to examine, given its significant connection to contemporary history. Some modern sectarians have misinterpreted the Evangelist John's words. These new teachers, rehashing the ancient heresy of Chiliasm, maintain that before the end of the world, Christ will come to earth again to overthrow the antichrist, to resurrect the righteous, and to establish a new kingdom on earth in which the righteous will reign together with Him for a thousand years.

This incorrect interpretation is an exact repetition of the heretic Apollinarius' false teaching, which was condemned by the Universal Church at the Second Ecumenical Council (381). Importantly, it was in response to this ancient heresy that this Council introduced into the very Symbol of Faith (the Creed) these words concerning Christ: "and His kingdom will have no end." Thus, it was no longer permissible for an Orthodox Christian to hold chiliastic ideas as private opinions after an Ecumenical Council expressed its judgment on the matter.

Given these things, it can be asked just what does the thousand-year bondage mean? Archbishop Averky of Jordanville and Hieromonk Seraphim Rose comment on this term in their book The Apocalypse and the Teachings of Ancient Christianity (pp. 253-54). St. Andrew of Caesarea, they explain, interprets the thousand-year bondage as the time "from the Incarnation of Christ to the coming of the antichrist." During that time, Satan was bound, paganism was cast down, and there came upon earth the thousand-year reign of Christ. The authors go on to explain that the definite number one thousand is used in place of an indefinite number, signifying the long period until the Second Coming of Christ.

Moreover, as the editor notes in Protopresbyter Michael Pomazansky's Orthodox Dogmatic Theology (pp. 344-45), Blessed Augustine of Hippo connects the "binding" of the devil for a thousand years (Apoc. 20:2) with the "binding" of the "strong man" in Mark 3:27 (see also Christ's words in John 12:31, that "now shall the prince of this world be cast out"). Blessed Augustine also states that "the binding of the devil is his being prevented from the exercise of his whole power to seduce men." Thus, the thousand years (the whole period) of Christ's reign with His saints and the limited power of the devil is the victory of Christ over paganism and the establishment on earth of the Church of Christ, and that time is now.

It is also of importance to note that a related error to the resuscitated heresy of Chiliasm is the "rapture." This false teaching, a misinterpretation of 1 Thes 4:17, claims that Christians will be enraptured from the earth and caught up in the clouds seven years before the Second Coming of Christ. This teaching is Protestantism's false hope to avoid suffering since its theology does not give a way to deal with it. However, in contrast to its idea of a non-suffering Church stands the witness of the martyric deaths of millions of Orthodox Christians, not only in the early Church, but also during the Arian controversy, the Iconoclastic struggle, the Moslem yoke and the Uniate persecutions, and most especially when Communism ravaged nearly the whole of the Orthodox world during the last century.

The rapture teaching is false because it is refuted by Scripture, which makes it entirely clear that the elect will suffer on earth during the reign of the antichrist and that for their sake that period will be shortened (cf. Mt 24:21-22). (This point is very important and must be emphasized particularly, inasmuch as the acceptance of the false teachings of Chiliasm and the rapture can lead people to the erroneous expectation that they will be taken from the face of the earth when the antichrist makes his appearance. In such a state of complacency, many people will not recognize him and will end up accepting him, thereby losing their souls).

Even as the political structure of a united world government is being planned (it will claim to be the revitalized Roman Empire), so too is a single-world religion to emerge. This religion is being formed by the National Council of Churches and the World Council of Churches, which created ecumenism, a new heresy in the Church. Like the religion of the pagan Roman Empire, which was syncretic in its borrowing from various pagan religions in the ancient world, the religion of the one-world government will also be syncretic in its supposedly being based on the best principles of many religions. Under the guise of a "reconciliation" of faiths, ecumenism equates truth with falsehood and promotes a future ecumenical "church" that will unify all existing creeds, even though such a unification entails a relativization of God's Truth. As a Greek bishop notes, by bringing together all the world religions, ecumenism, rather than combining all the partial truths that various religions supposedly contain, may combine all the falsehoods that they embrace, thus creating a one-world religion that embraces all evil.

In the past, when Satan was unsuccessful in bringing about the complete physical destruction of Christ's Church through persecution, he turned to a different tactic: heresies. As can be observed in history, Satan used heresies to attack Christian truths in almost the same identical order in which they are listed in the Nicaeo-Constantinopolitan Symbol of Faith, the Church's Creed. Now, through the heresy of ecumenism, the devil's final onslaught against these truths is taking place, and this time the attack is against the words: "I believe in... One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church." By means of such an attack upon the Creed, upon the Holy Apostles, and upon the Ecumenical Councils, Satan denies the truth that the Saviour founded only one true Church on earth. Through ecumenism, Satan denies Holy Scriptures, which teach that there is "one Lord, one faith, one Baptism" (Eph 4:5), one Holy Tradition (cf. 2 Thes 2:15), and one Christian Church founded by Christ (cf. Mt 16:18).

Hieromonk Sava Yanjíc expends further on this end-times heresy, stating that the worldwide ecumenical apostasy is spreading on all levels. Everything possible is being done, he states, in order to establish an anti-church, a "reborn Christianity." Dogmas are being revised, Church history is being rewritten, and there is an intense secularization and modernization of spiritual life. Fr. Sava goes on to liken today's ecumenism to a Pandora's box from which hundreds of ancient heresies are breaking loose. Archbishop Averky adds:

Ecumenism is the heresy of heresies. Until now, every separate heresy in the history of the Church has striven itself to stand in the place of the true Church, while the ecumenical movement, having united all heresies, invites them all together to honor themselves as the one true Church. Here ancient Arianism, Monophysitism, Monothelitism, Iconoclasm, Pelagianism, and simply every possible superstition of the contemporary sects under completely different names, have united to charge and attack the Church. This phenomenon is undoubtedly of an apocalyptic character.

(Here the archbishop is referring to the fact that very few heresies since the time of the early Church have been original, and that most have been rehashes of ancient follies. Monophysitism of the fifth century, for example, contributed to the Monothelitism of the seventh century, and to the syncretism and outgrowth of some of the contemporary heresies of the present time. Another example is the ancient Arian heresy, which surfaced in our times as the Jehovah’s Witnesses).

As the panheresy of ecumenism gains more and more momentum and increased support from world governments, and as it comes to regard itself as an ecumenical "super-church," its infinite hatred of Christ and Orthodox Christianity is becoming increasingly apparent. Once the ecumenical movement's man-made religion (or, more precisely, its devil-made religion) is installed as the official state religion under the antichrist, most established Church institutions will be drawn into this worldwide "church." Orthodox Christianity will then become a religio illicita, even as it was in the days of the pagan Roman Empire. As the same Fr. Sava notes concerning the times that are approaching, Orthodox Christians will once again be persecuted, just as in Roman and Soviet times. He further notes that:

The adherents of the false "Christianity" and other united religions will accuse [the Orthodox] of being intolerant and hateful people, opponents of the new world order and, by extension, of the welfare and happiness of mankind. Many will be imprisoned in special camps for "reeducation, " where they will be severely tortured in an effort to force them to deny the Living God and His Church, and to bow down before the rulers of this world. And thus the Church, like a pure and undefiled virgin, washed in the blood of martyrs... just as in the early years of Christianity, will wait to greet her Bridegroom ["Ecumenism in an Age of Apostasy," Orthodox America, vol. 18, nos. 7-8, 2000, p. 16].

As Archpriest Boris Molchanoff also notes concerning the final times:

When the day shall come when antichrist, the false messiah, shall enter into Jerusalem, the fate of humanity contemporary to him shall also be decided, irrevocably and forever. Blessed are those who, at that final day given by God for the decisive self-determination of the people, will be able to see the servant of Satan and perceive the inescapable destruction with him of all humanity that acknowledges him [Antichrist, p. 4].

To reiterate and summarize, the full circle concept refers to the historical development that began with Christ's Church being poor and persecuted, after which it became the religion of the Christian Roman Empire, only to end up once again in its final state in a catacomb existence. It bears repeating that the idea is not entirely accurate inasmuch as there have been constant and dreadful persecutions against the Church throughout the centuries. However, given the apocalyptic nature of Communism and its satanic hatred of Orthodox Christianity, the full circle idea is still significant. Whereas Communism impinged only upon the periphery of the Roman Catholic and Protestant worlds, eighty-five percent of Orthodox Christians came to be enslaved in Communist totalitarian police states that sought the complete destruction of Christ's Church and all Orthodox Christians. Indeed, it was for that very reason Communism was invented and forced upon the Eastern Orthodox Christian world by the totally secularized and apostate West. The West's support of the Soviet revolution is now a well-known fact.

In the present calm before the storm of the one-world government, even though the atheistic Soviet regime of the past no longer exists, recycled Communist leaders continue to meddle in Church affairs by appointing sycophantic hierarchs (often secret police in cassocks) who traffic in the evil ecumenical movement and who see to the persecution of those Christians who do not go along with their apostasy. It is the intent of these bishops to bring the various local Orthodox Churches over which they preside into the embrace of the one-world "church" of the antichrist. Thus, ecumenism is upheld and is emanating from many of "those who appear to be the protectors and leaders of the Church." With this development, that portion of the Church that has not capitulated to the ecumenist heresy has largely returned to the catacombs, thus presaging the end-times events that are foretold in the Apocalypse, that is, the Revelation of the Holy Apostle and Evangelist John the Theologian, whose book concludes the New Testament. As the textbook for this course states, "Christians today stand far closer to the early Church than their grandparents did." It also notes that "Christianity began as a religion of a small minority existing in a predominantly non-Christian society, and such it is becoming once more." In this sense, the Church has indeed come a full circle.

In spite of all the persecution of Christianity (including that which is to come), true to Christ's promise, the gates of hell will never prevail against the Church (Mt 16:18), for "the foundation of God standeth sure" (2 Tim 2:19). As the New-Martyr Tikhon (+1925), Patriarch of All Russia, wrote in this regard, Christ's Church is "a kingdom not of this world, a kingdom that has no worldly means at its disposal, no earthly enticements; a kingdom that is despised, persecuted, powerless." He added that the Church "has not only not perished in this world, but has grown and conquered the world." And he concluded, "In spite of all manner of coercion, attacks and opposition, the Orthodox Church has preserved the faith of Christ as a priceless treasure, in its original purity and entirety, unharmed, so that our faith is the faith of the Apostles, the faith of the Fathers, the Orthodox faith."

2. What Scripture describes the beginning of the history of the New Testament Church?

The history of the New Testament Church begins at Pentecost (circa 33 AD), with the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles.

And suddenly there came a sound from Heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Holy Spirit gave them utterance (Acts 2:2-4).

Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos makes the important notation that Pentecost is the birthday of the Church from the point of view that it was then that the Church became the Body of Christ, that Pentecost was when the Church acquired substance. He goes further into the matter, though, and points out that the beginning and existence of the Church is actually found in the time before Pentecost.

The metropolitan notes that it is the teaching of the Holy Fathers that with the creation of the angels, there is the emergence of the first Church, for the angels too are members of the Church. God is the Creator of "all things visible and invisible," and among the invisible are listed the angels, who sing in praise of God. This witness is preserved in the book of Job, which states: "When the stars were born, all the angels in a loud voice sang in praise of Me" (Job 38:7). The fact that angels are members of the Church is also witnessed by the saints, many of whom saw angels worshiping with them at the Divine Liturgy.

Archimandrite Panteleimon of Jordanville goes on to explain that the name of the Church of Christ is used in two ways. In the narrower sense, he states, it is composed strictly of people professing the faith of Christ, whether they live on earth or have already parted into the future life. Those living on earth compose the kingdom of grace, the earthly or militant Church, while those departed compose the heavenly or triumphant Church. Fr. Panteleimon continues, saying that in a more general or inclusive sense, however, the Church is a society of all free, intelligent beings, both angels and people, who believe in Christ the Saviour and are united to Him as the Church's one Head. The Apostle Paul understands the Church in this way when he instructs that God has ordained the union of all things in Heaven and on earth under Christ the Head and placed Him as the Head of the Church (Eph 1:10,23; Col 1:18). The angels believe in Christ as the true God-Man. They also serve as His ministers in establishing the Church on earth, and they are sent by Him to assist every man in inheriting salvation (Heb 1:14).

Thus it can be said that the history of the Church dates to the creation of angels and the creation of men, that it continues in the Old Testament, and that with the Incarnation of God the Word, the Church becomes the Body of Christ. One can speak of the Church in this sense.

Dr. Ivan Andreyev adds the following substantive explanation concerning the relation between the Old and New Testament periods of the Church:

Of all the religions in the world, only the Christian religion possesses all the inner and external indications of divinely revealed dignity and possesses true prophecies and miracles. Christianity is the sole, true, divinely revealed religion. This religion is subdivided into the Old Testament and the New Testament, composing, however, one organic whole, and represents the development of one divine plan for the salvation of mankind. The difference between the Old and New Testaments lies not in its nature, but in the degree of its fullness and perfection.

The Old Testament revelation pertains to the New Testament as a preparation does to a performance; as a promise does to a fulfillment; and as a symbol does to an image. The aim of New Testament revelation was the preparation of mankind in its historic life for the acceptance of a higher Christian revelation. This was spoken of by the Old Testament prophets themselves, for they it was who expressed the thought that the Messiah will come and will Himself announce to the people the New Covenant (see the prophecy of Jeremiah 31:31-35) [Orthodox Apologetic Theology, p. 115-16].

3. Which book contains the first survey of history in the New Testament Church?

This survey is found in the Acts of the Apostles.

4. Who was the author of this book?

The Holy Evangelist Luke, a physician who was chosen to be one of the seventy disciples, wrote the Acts. This same disciple wrote his Gospel fifteen years after Christ's Ascension.

5. At what level does the Church exist in all its fullness?

The Church exists in all its fullness in each local community gathered around its bishop as it celebrates the Holy Eucharist Sunday by Sunday.

6. What early Christian writer clearly expresses this concept in seven short letters?

This concept was expressed by an Apostolic Father, St. Ignatius the God-Bearer, Bishop-Martyr of Antioch (+107), who was the child whom the Lord took into His arms (Mt 18, Mk 9). He proclaimed the Gospel in Antioch and became the bishop of that city after the Apostle Peter. While on his way to his martyrdom in Rome (he was fed to the lions), he wrote seven epistles to Christian communities and to another Apostolic Father, St. Polycarp, a disciple of the Apostle and Evangelist John the Theologian and bishop of Smyrna (+156). These epistles contain a wealth of information on early Church dogma, organization, the Divine Liturgy, and the readiness for martyrdom.

7. By what term does St. Ignatius of Antioch refer to the Holy Mysteries?

The hieromartyr refers to the Holy Mysteries (Sacraments) as "the medicine of immortality."

8. What is meant by referring to the Church as a Eucharistic Society?

St. Ignatius saw the Church in both its hierarchical and sacramental aspects, and he laid special stress on the place of the bishop in the Church, and upon the bishop's primary and distinctive task of celebrating the Holy Eucharist. For Ignatius, the Church was primarily a Eucharistic Society — that is, one which realizes its proper function when celebrating and receiving the Holy Mysteries (Sacraments). He emphasized that the Eucharist is something that can happen only locally in each individual community gathered around its bishop, and that the whole Christ is present at each individual Eucharist celebration. Thus the Church exists in all its fullness in each local community in the celebration of the Eucharist.

St. Ignatius’ teaching occupies a permanent place in the tradition of the Church. Orthodoxy views the Church foremost as a Eucharist Society, for the Body and Blood of Christ are the inner life and soul of the Orthodox Church, and they are the heart and center of all Church life. The Church's lifeblood flows from the Eucharist that is celebrated at every Liturgy. To partake of this Mystery is the most important act of worship in the Orthodox Church, and to be united with it is to be united with the Head and Founder of the Church, Jesus Christ. Without Christ's divine presence in this Mystery, the Church could not achieve its earthly mission. It is in the Eucharist that the Orthodox Church has the living presence of God.

Moreover, Orthodoxy emphasizes the importance of the local community in the Church, something obvious to anyone who observes a Pontifical Liturgy in which the bishop is in the center of the Church, surrounded by his flock. To this day, Orthodoxy still retains the catholicity of the early Church, where the focus of unity is the bishop.

Concerning the word Mysteries (Greek Mysteria) that often comes up in this book, it is generally used in the Orthodox East for Sacraments. The word Sacraments (Latin Sacramenta) is the term used in the Latin West. Since the latter term originated when Rome was still fully united with Orthodoxy — that is, before the Great Schism of 1054, there is nothing wrong with its usage, especially since few Westerners are familiar with the word Mysteries. However, among themselves, Orthodox tend to use the latter word.

9. Who is the visible center of Church life?

The hierarchical rank is the highest rank in the Church. Thus, Orthodox bishops, like their predecessors, the Apostles, occupy the visible center of Church life. Protopresbyter Michael Pomazansky explains that Christ called the Apostles to the highest ministry in the Church, and that the Apostles in turn named bishops as their immediate successors and continuers. As another writer adds in this connection, after Judas turned traitor, Peter, applying Psalm 109:8, declared, "his bishopric let another take" (Acts 1:20; emphasis added).

Although Apostolic Succession was severed in the West as of Rome's apostasy in 1054, it continued in the East. The Orthodox Church is the only Church in Christendom that has to this day an uninterrupted succession of bishops going back to the Apostles.

10. If each bishop and his diocese (eparchy) can be said to contain the fullness of Church life, why is it that only the entire body of the Orthodox faithful is referred to as the Church?

The student does not imagine that he "knows better" than the professor of this course, nor does he presume to consider himself an expert on Orthodoxy. All he can do is rely on the various books that teach of it. These in turn show that, on the basis of Scripture, the above assertion that "only the entire body of Orthodox faithful is referred to the Church" is not tenable.

One eminent authority, Protopresbyter Michael Pomazansky, points out that the members of one's family comprise a house Church. This term was used by the Apostle Paul when referring to the gathering of the members of a family and friends which took place during the early years of Christianity, when Christians did not have their own church buildings in which to pray (cf. Rom. 16:5-6, et al.).

The word Church is ekklesia in Greek, which means to gather, to gather together, to call, to call out, or to call together. Thus, Church means a gathering of people, a congregation. The same Fr. Michael adds that:

The name Church which belongs to every Christian community, even of a single house or family, indicates the unity of this part with the whole, with the body of the whole Church of Christ [Orthodox Dogmatic Theology, p. 224].

In no place does Fr. Michael indicate that it is incorrect to use the word in a narrow sense (that is, with regard to a family or individual community). In fact, both he and the Apostle Paul himself variously use the word in both the narrow and the broad sense.

The word Church is always used in reference to the four ancient Patriarchates, to the eleven other autocephalous Churches (including Sinai), and also when referring to the several autonomous Churches (including China, Japan and Finland). In addition to these independent local Churches, however, the Church has a wider unity. The Church Father Cyprian, Bishop-Martyr of Carthage (+258), describes how all bishops share in the one episcopate, yet share it in such a manner that each possesses the whole rather than just a part. St. Cyprian writes:

The episcopate is a single whole, in which each bishop enjoys full possession. So the Church is a single whole, though it spreads far and wide into a multitude of Churches as its fertility increases.

There are many episcopi but only one episcopate. There are also many local Churches, yet Orthodoxy is something more than a group of local bodies that share a unity of faith and full agreement with the rest on all matters of doctrine: it is nothing less than the Church of Christ on earth. It is this wider unity of all Orthodox faithful into the Body of Christ that is also called the Church.

11. What is meant by calling the Church conciliar?

The word conciliar means "of, relating to, or generated by a council" (American Heritage Dictionary). Calling the Church conciliar underscores the great importance of the Church's Councils. Bishop Alexander of Buenos Aires and South America of the Russian Church in Exile goes on to explain conciliarism as that special state in which bishops decide Church matters, first having prayed and implored the grace of the Holy Spirit. The same bishop adds that through the enlightenment and grace that overshadow bishops gathered in Councils, the most complicated questions are resolved and decisions are made which benefit the Church.

In the time of the Apostles, misunderstandings arose in Antioch regarding the applicability of the ritual law of Moses. Since there was a need to appeal to a higher authoritative voice or judgment, the Apostles gathered in a Council at Jerusalem (Acts 15), and the decrees of this Council were acknowledged as obligatory for the whole Church (Acts 16:4). By means of the Council of Jerusalem, the Apostles gave an example of the conciliar resolution of the most important questions in the Church for all times.

It is important to note here that the Apostolic Council speaks especially clearly against the supremacy of the Apostle Peter. If one were to believe the Catholic dogma of the supremacy of the Roman pope, then the Christians of Antioch should have appealed to the Apostle Peter for the resolution of their perplexity. However, they appealed not to Peter, but to all the Apostles and presbyters. At this first Council, the question is subject to a general discussion, and the completion of the matter belongs to the Apostle James. From James’ words (not Peter's), the decision of the Council is written. Also important to note is that Sacred Scripture reveals a number of weighty things that take place: Peter is sent by the Apostles (Acts 8:19), he gives an account of his actions to the Apostles and faithful (Acts 11:4-18), and he also listens to their objections and even denunciations (Gal 2:11-19). These facts demonstrate that Peter was not the prince of the Apostles and the head of the Church, as the Roman Catholic Church falsely teaches.

Orthodox theology strictly differentiates between the ministry of the Apostles and that of the bishops. As Bishop Alexander Semonov-Tian-Shansky writes in this regard:

The significance of the Apostles was exceptional and in many ways exceeded the significance of bishops. Bishops head local Churches, while the Apostles were wandering preachers of the Gospel. An Apostle, having founded a new Church in some locale, would ordain a bishop for it and would himself go to another place to preach. In consequence of this, the Orthodox Church does not honor the Apostle Peter as the first bishop of Rome. Nonetheless, the Holy Church always allowed that among the bishops one is recognized as first in honor, but concerning his infallibility there is no discussion.

In the first centuries, the primacy of honor belonged to the Roman bishop, but after his falling away into schism, it passed to the patriarch of Constantinople [As quoted from Protopriest Victor Potapov, Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy].

From Apostolic times and throughout the subsequent history of the Church, even prior to Rome's departure from the Church in 1054, no bishop had absolute authority over any other. The Church is not and never was monarchical in structure, centered around a single bishop. Instead, all bishops work together in equality, and all consult with one another to achieve a common mind under the influence of the Holy Spirit. St. Cyprian of Carthage writes that this collegial structure (that is, where all bishops share authority) is based on divine law. If the bishop of Rome was everywhere regarded as the supreme head of the Church, as the Latin Church teaches, why were there no cries of heresy to such statements as that of St. Cyprian?

From the witness of Church history, many Roman Catholics readily understand these facts and convert to Orthodoxy. One who did, Michael Whelton, wrote an entire book that deals with the Orthodox Church's conciliar tradition (an understanding that Rome itself adhered to prior to the ninth century), vis-à-vis Rome's divisive doctrine of papal monarchy. This author's well researched findings merit special attention. He correctly observes that the early Church was conciliar in its government, that the Ecumenical Councils represented the highest judicial body of the Church, that these Ecumenical Councils were not called to advise the bishop of Rome, and that the bishop of Rome did not enjoy veto power. Mr. Whelton goes on to explain that:

Nowhere in the canons or creeds of these [Ecumenical] Councils do we find any recognition of Rome's claim to supreme universal jurisdiction. None of the Church Fathers or general councils settled doctrinal disputes by appealing to an infallible pope. Claims of infallibility by a single bishop would have been incomprehensible. Furthermore, the idea that the bishop of Rome was superior to a council of the Church and that a council was ecumenical only because the bishop of Rome alone confirmed its decrees was unknown. In fact, all five patriarchs — [those of] Rome, Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem — had to confirm the decrees [Two Paths: Papal Monarchy — Collegial Tradition, pp. 52-53].

The same writer notes that:

For at least the first thousand years, Christendom was an undivided Church governed by councils that offered a common forum for both Churches East and West to settle differences and thus provide a common bond. It is provable beyond doubt that the early Church does not point to the office of a single bishop as the living tradition of the Church, but to an ecumenical consensus or collective conscience, which is best exemplified by the early general councils. It is this model of government that is intrinsic to the nature of the Church and it is this that supplies her with enduring strength and stability [The Pearl, p. 43].

Mr. Whelton adds that:

Today the Orthodox Church is the only Church in Christendom that preserves and guards this collegial tradition; thus she rightly calls herself the Church of the Seven Ecumenical Councils.... Today with her self-governing Churches bound together in a fraternal unity, she presents herself to the world just as the early Church did [Ibid., pp. 43-44].

(In the Roman Catholic Church, on the other hand, the Roman Curia was created by Pope Sixtus V [the "iron pope"] in the sixteenth century in order to crush the influence of cardinals and bishops. It is of interest to observe that in April of 2002, when the American cardinals were summoned to the Vatican in response to a scandal in the Latin Church, the cardinals complained that they were treated not like bishops, but like altar boys, by the pope. At that time, the cardinals were clamoring for less dictatorship, and a more conciliar approach to resolving matters).

The Orthodox Church believes that the council is the chief means by which God has chosen to guide His flock. Protopresbyter Michael Pomazansky explains that the highest organ of authority in the Church, and the highest authority in general, is a council of bishops. For a local Church, it is a council of its local bishops, and for the Ecumenical Church, a council of bishops made up of representatives of independent local Churches, in conformity with the Thirty-Fourth Canon of the Holy Apostles.

12. By what name is the first Council of the Holy Church called?

It is known as the Council of Jerusalem, or the Apostolic Council.

13. Where are the details of this Council recorded?

The details of the Council of Jerusalem are recorded in the Acts of the Apostles. Acts 15:1-5 describes the open opposition to St. Paul's teaching by the salvation-by-faith-and-circumcision party. So vital an issue as Christianity's entering into the Gentile world under the veil of Judaism had to have an authoritative decision by the Apostles and elders in order to avoid a split. Acts 15:6-21 goes on to describe the debate of the issue and its final resolution.

14. Where did the Council take place?

The Council took place in Jerusalem, whence its name.

15. What was the major question debated at the first Council of the Holy Church?

The Council of Jerusalem convened about 50 AD to decide the extent to which newly converted Gentiles would have to subject themselves to the requirements of Mosaic law. It was decided that non-Jews who turned to God should not be troubled with the rigorous precepts of the law of Moses, save in certain social matters so the Church could meet as one. This Council then made its decision known through letters to all the Christian Churches.

This first Council is significant for two reasons: 1) through it, the Christian Church became a Universal Church whose mission was no longer restricted to the Jewish people; and 2) the Council set the precedent for Church leaders to meet in Councils in future internal and external conflicts.

It is important to note here that when a decision has to be made, the Apostle Peter was not asked for his single-minded decision, as if he were an "infallible" pope. Instead, a Council of Apostles was convened.

16. What event in 312 AD resulted in some major developments in the administrative structure of the visible facet of the Church?

312 AD was the year that St. Constantine had his famous vision of the Cross in front of the sun, along with the inscription in this sign conquer emblazoned in the sky. With this vision, Constantine placed the Christian symbol of the chi rho (XP) on the weapons and tunics of his troops and went on to win a battle. This vision and his victory in battle led to Constantine's becoming the first Roman emperor to embrace the Christian religion, and to his putting an end to the persecution of the Church. These events marked the end of the first main period of Christianity and marked the Church's coming of age.

Because the pious monarchs Constantine and his mother Helen spread the Christian faith like the Apostles, the Church gives both saints the title Holy Rulers, Equal-to-the-Apostles. The title Equal-to-the-Apostles was given as well to saints who spread the Christian faith in various places: Mary Magdalene, the first woman martyr Thecla, the pious Russian prince Vladimir, St. Nina, who was the Enlightener of Georgia, and others.

17. Give the understanding you derived from this chapter concerning the position of the bishop in the Church.

(A more complete development on the position of the bishop in the Church will be given in chapter ten).

18. What questions did this chapter raise in your mind and then leave unanswered?

The Council of Jerusalem assembled the leaders of the Church and its decisions were subsequently approved by the entire Church in all places and times. Why is the Council of Jerusalem not considered the first of the Ecumenical Councils?

[Professor's addendum: The Apostolic Council was not ecumenical, but was local in nature. The Church had not yet reached the ecumene but was essentially Palestinian (in a broad sense). It seems that no one but Jewish (Palestinian) Christians actually participated in the Council, and only James, the bishop of Jerusalem, had an actual see. Because it consisted of the Apostles, it is given a higher calling than a local council and is called the Apostolic Council].


2. Byzantium and the Church of the Seven



1. What is meant by the term the Church of the Seven Councils?

The Church of the Seven Councils is another name for the Orthodox Church. This title emphasizes the immense importance that Orthodoxy attaches to the Seven Ecumenical Councils, those giant foundations of the Christian faith. As John II, Metropolitan of Russia (1080-89) stated, "All profess that there are seven holy and Ecumenical Councils, and these are the seven pillars of faith of the Divine Word on which He erected His holy mansion, the Catholic [i.e., Universal] and Ecumenical Church."

2. What is necessary in order for a council to be canonical?

To be canonical, a council must be accepted and certified by the local Churches and by a subsequent general council.

3. What is necessary in order for a council to be ecumenical?

An Ecumenical Council starts out as a general council — that is, a council in which all Orthodox bishops of all Orthodox communities gather to solve problems pressing to the entire Church. When the decisions reached in such a council are accepted by the entire Church in all places and times, and when the decisions are certified by a subsequent general council, the council is then termed ecumenical.

4. What is meant by the expression the conscience of the Church?

The conscience of the Church is the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

5. What age, according to the textbook, ended with the con of Constantine?

The textbook states that Constantine's conversion brought an end to the age of martyrs. This emperor's recognition of Christianity stands as a watershed in the history of the Church, for under him, Christianity received legal status in the Roman Empire, and this development supported the spread of Christianity throughout the Roman world. Under Constantine, the Church of the catacombs became the Church of the Empire.

However, while Constantine's conversion did bring about a radical transformation in the relations between the Christian Church and the Roman state (and Orthodox Christianity — not Roman Catholicism — was the Church of the Roman Empire and of the known earth), the age of martyrs did not end in the fourth century. Since that time, millions of martyrs have been tormented and killed for the truth of Christ's Holy Church, and Orthodox Christianity has been persecuted unendingly. As noted in the previous chapter, one can cite any number of large-scale martyrdoms throughout Church history; the one preceding Constantine's reign was but one. In fact, after Byzantium, under the boot of the Turks, the Unia, and finally Communism, Orthodoxy suffered near-continual martyrdom and was largely taken up with matters of simple survival. Such is the Orthodox Church — crucified, yet having the glory of the Resurrected Christ; poor, yet having within a priceless treasure.

6. What transition in the external life of the Church occurred at this time?

In the early days of Christianity, in order to worship God, Christians had to leave the city at night and go into caves. Even there, however, they were not safe. When they were discovered, the authorities would block the cave's entrance and would collect brush and set it on fire, thereby killing those inside.

In addition to legalizing Christianity, Constantine moved the seat of the empire eastward from Italy to the shores of the Bosphorus, calling this city Nea Romi (New Rome), although people referred to it as Constantine’s City, or Constantinople. From the moment that the Christian Empire was established, the center of the world’s life was shifted from ancient Rome to Constantinople, the latter of which became the symbolic center of Christianity. Old Rome thus joined Constantinople, New Rome, the former city of Byzantium, and a primacy of honor, one that was recognized by the Second Ecumenical Council, came to be shared by these two great capitals.

Two Greek hierarchs explain the purpose of the Roman Empire, and they give a highly refined assessment of the first Christian emperor, a view that is sadly lacking in Western accounts, particularly in the historiographies of the Protestant world. They explain that:

For the Byzantine, the empire, as the structure into which the Church was integrated, was not a power that, because of increasing strength and numbers in Christianity, had capitulated to this new force. It existed for the very purpose of accommodating the Christian Church. Thus the Emperor Constantine was genuinely enlightened from within to favor the Christian religion, having been convinced of its power by a miraculous image of the Holy Cross that promised him victory in battle. His participation in the theological debates and dialogues that helped safeguard and standardize the Christian beliefs and traditions which had reached his age from the time of the Apostles was, therefore, not — as prevailing historical theories would have it — an attempt to sway the Christian Church towards a theology of his liking. His participation grew out of his internal knowledge and acceptance of the divinely ordained role of the Roman Empire in the spreading of Christianity. It was not a life of piety or a martyric confession of Christianity that ultimately makes the Emperor Constantine what he is. His simple acknowledgement of his role and the role of the empire in the Christian scheme made him a saint, an Equal-to-the-Apostles — the human through whom the divine mission of Christianity was made manifest [Archbishop Chrysostomos of Etna and Bishop Auxentios of Photiki, The Roman West and the Byzantine East, p. 22].

It is important to pause on St. Constantine, for a common Protestant misconception of Church history is that the Church fell into apostasy from the time of Constantine to the Reformation. A former Protestant minister who converted to Orthodoxy, Fr. John Whiteford, comments that in reply, it can be stated that had the Church ceased for even one day, then the gates of hell would have prevailed against it on that day, something contrary to Christ's promise (Mt 16:18). Moreover, the same author continues, if the Church did indeed cease for a period of time,

...when Christ described the growth of the Church in His parable of the mustard seed (Mt 13:31-12), He should have spoken of a plant that started to grow but was squashed, and in its place a new seed sprouted later on. Instead, He used the imagery of a mustard seed that begins small, but steadily grows into the largest of garden plants [Sola Scriptura: an Orthodox Analysis of the Cornerstone of Reformation Theology, p. 19].

That the Church did not cease to exist at the time of Constantine is also shown to be false inasmuch as Christ is the Head of the Church (Eph. 4:15-16), the Church is His Body (Eph. 1:22-23), and because Christ promised to be with the Church "even unto the end of the world" (Mt 28:20). Fr. John points out that Christ did not promise that His Church would be prosperous or the most numerous of religions; in fact, He promised the opposite (Mt 7:13-14, 10:22; Jn 15:20). Neither did Christ promise that there would be no sinners in the Church (Mt 13:47-50), or that it would not have to contend with false shepherds or wolves in sheep's clothing (Jn 10:1,12,13). Christ did promise, however, an abiding and ultimately triumphant Church that would have His abiding presence and that would be guided into all Truth by the Holy Spirit (Jn 16:13). If the Church had indeed fallen into apostasy from the time of Constantine to the Reformation, then these and many other scriptural passages would be rendered meaningless, Fr. John concludes.

Now that the Church was out of the catacombs, churches began to be built above ground. Some of the first churches constructed were over the holy sites in Palestine where Christ had lived. The Emperor Constantine and the Empress Helen, his mother, built a massive church in honor of the Resurrection of Christ, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. They also built churches on the Mount of Olives in Bethlehem, and in Hebron at the Oak of Mamre. Later, in the sixth century, St. Catherine's Monastery was built on Mount Sinai over the site of the burning bush, near the place where Moses received the Ten Commandments. Most of these buildings serve to this day as Orthodox churches and monasteries.

Also during this new time of freedom and rest for the Church, the Emperor Constantine called a Council of bishops to gather from the four corners of the world. Modeled after the Council in the time of the Apostles, it was the first of seven Ecumenical Councils in the history of the Church. This First Ecumenical Council held at Nicaea, as well as the Second Ecumenical Council of Constantinople, articulated the Creed of Christianity, the Nicaeo-Constantinopolitan Symbol of Faith, or Nicene Creed (also called the Creed), so that there would be one confession of the faith and not different interpretations. This Creed ("I believe in One God...") is a concise summary of all the truths of the Christian faith, and it is sung at every Divine Liturgy and recited in several other places in the daily services of the Orthodox Church. The Ecumenical Councils themselves acknowledge the Creed as being primary and fundamental among all the doctrinal decrees of the Councils, and they forbade any changes whatsoever in it, not only in its ideas, but also in its words, either by addition or subtraction. Whoever does not accept the truths of the Creed is not an Orthodox Christian.

This new period likewise became a time to articulate the beliefs of the faith and to choose the books that would comprise the standard of Scripture. Before the First Ecumenical Council, there was no universally accepted New Testament canon of Scripture, and thus no Bible. There were accounts of Christ's life by the four Evangelists, and many epistles from several of the Apostles such as Paul and Peter. There were also the letters and writings of the disciples of the Apostles such as Saints Ignatius, Clement, Dionysius and others. One of the persons instrumental in the First Ecumenical Council was St. Athanasius of Alexandria, who is responsible for the canon of the New Testament Scriptures that we have today.

Christianity began to flourish once the Church came above ground. The new freedom allowed the perfection of liturgical music (chant) and the refinement of religious art (iconography), and Christian literature proliferated. In short, the Church became the center of every aspect of life.

7. What was the Edict of Milan in 313 AD?

The Edict of Milan, issued by Constantine and his fellow emperor Licinius in 313 AD, officially proclaimed the toleration of the Christian faith. Christians were no longer regarded as religious and political criminals in the Roman Empire.

8. To what limits did Constantine carry his toleration of the Christian Church?

Although Constantine initially showed no more than toleration of the Christian faith, he soon came to favor it above all the other tolerated religions of the empire.

9. Emperor Theodosius carried this toleration to its final conclusion with what act?

The emperor enacted legislation that made Christianity the only recognized religion of the empire. "Your faith is the victory which defeats the world" (1 Jn 5:4), the Holy Apostle and Evangelist John wrote in the first century, and now his words were fulfilled.

10. What two further consequences of Constantine’s con occurred during his lifetime, which were to affect the later developments of the Christian world?

Constantine created New Rome, Constantinople, out of motives that were in part economic and political, but which were also religious: Old Rome was too deeply stained with pagan associations to be the center of the Christianized Roman Empire. He also summoned the first General Council of the Christian Church.

11. Give at least one effect which the movement of the capital to the East had.

An important effect of moving the capital to the East was that the seat of the new Christian Empire was taken away from the heathen associations of Old Rome. No pagan rites were ever to be performed in the New Rome.

12. What was the primary purpose for which Constantine called together the first General Council?

The textbook for this course notes that Constantine wanted the Roman Empire to be a Christian empire based upon the Orthodox faith. To this end, he convened the Nicene Council to clarify and elaborate the fundamental doctrines of Christianity.

More specifically, the First Ecumenical Council was convoked against the false teaching of Arius, which denied the truth that "in Him [Christ] dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily" (Col 2:9). This Council anathematized both the Arian heresy that disturbed the whole Christian world, and Arius, the corrupter of faith. It also anathematized those who maintained that there was a time when the Son of God did not exist, and those who maintained that He was created or that He is of a different essence from God the Father. While Arius falsely taught that the Son of God was not the Creator but was a created being, the First Ecumenical Council affirmed that the Son of God is of the same nature as God the Father.

The First Ecumenical Council also composed the Church's Symbol of Faith, the Creed, which was confirmed and completed later at the Second Ecumenical Council. The unity and equality of the Son of God with God the Father was expressed in this Creed by the words: "of one essence with the Father."

Concerning God the Father's Only-Begotten Son, the Eternal God before the Ages, Jesus Christ, Hieromonk Damascene Christensen explains that by means of the term begotten in Christ's words and in the Creed, the existence of the Son is shown to be above any kind of creatureliness, above something created. An existence which comes from the essence of God can only be divine and eternal. That which is begotten is always of the same essence as that which begets. However, that which is created and made is of another, lower essence, and it is external with relation to the Creator.

The same writer goes on to explain that the Son was begotten before the creation of Heaven and earth. Created things are made at a certain time, but the Son, coming directly from the essence of the Father, was begotten outside time, in eternity. In other words, there was a time when created things did not exist, but there was never a time when the Only-Begotten Son did not exist.

Fr. Damascene also states that Christ Himself referred to His eternal begetting when He called Himself "the Only-Begotten Son of God" (Jn 3:18), and He spoke of His eternal existence when He said: "Before Abraham was, I am," and, "Father... You loved Me before the foundation of the world" (Jn 8:58; 14:24).

13. What aim inspired the discussion at the Councils?

The Councils were inspired by the purpose of man's salvation.

14. What were the Councils mainly concerned with safeguarding?

The Councils were concerned with safeguarding the message of redemption, the central message of the Orthodox faith. As Protopresbyter Michael Pomazansky writes: "From the first days of her existence, the Holy Church of Christ has ceaselessly been concerned that her children, her members, should stand firm in the pure truth." [Orthodox Dogmatic Theology, p. 22.] With this purpose in mind, the Councils defended the ancient teaching of the Church against the false teachings of the heretics.

The prefatory notes to this theology course additionally explain that:

This chapter concerns the Councils through which the Holy Spirit delivered to us the understanding of the Gospel message and the ordering of the life of the Church. Of course, the meaning of the teachings of Christ and the Apostles was well understood within the Church before the Councils, but the explanations of them had never been set forth in clearly written form for the guidance of all mankind. Essentially, the Councils met to discuss and give a correct interpretation of Scripture in the face of some self-willed, private interpretations which had been built into dangerous heresies, often having been mixed with pagan philosophies. The Councils of the bishops of the whole Church were called, and the Holy Spirit guided them as a whole in correctly setting forth the true meaning of the Gospel message.

15. There are two types of Councils within the Church. What are they called?

From profound Christian antiquity, local councils of separate Orthodox Churches gathered twice a year, in accordance with the Thirty-Seventh Canon of the Holy Apostles. This canon states: "Let there be a meeting of the bishops twice a year, and let them examine among themselves the decrees concerning religion and settle the ecclesiastical controversies which may have occurred...." [Eerdmans Seven Ecumenical Councils, p. 596]. Local councils were attended by all the bishops of a particular province of the Roman Empire. These councils would ordinarily convene in a provincial capital and would be presided over by the bishop of the capital, the metropolitan. These assemblies, as the canon states, had as their purpose the bishops' giving their opinions on problems that arose — that is, local problems. (Although not mentioned in the textbook, Protopresbyter Michael Pomazansky notes that often in the history of the Church there were also councils of regional bishops representing a wider area than individual Churches). The textbook goes on to list general councils in which bishops from the whole Orthodox Church, both East and West, gathered in order to reach a common mind with regard to problems pressing to the entire Church. Included in these general councils are the Ecumenical Councils. The same Fr. Michael explains that when the decisions reached in general councils are approved and accepted into the Tradition of the Church by the confirmation of the bishops at a subsequent general council, the councils then received the title Oikoumenkie Synodos (Ecumenical Synods), from oikoumenikos, meaning from all the inhabited earth — that is, the land which belonged to the Graeco-Roman civilization.

16. What does the author of the textbook mean by saying that these Councils fulfilled a double task?

The textbook introduces the discussion of the Ecumenical Councils with the popular — though erroneous — idea that these Councils "defined once and for all the Church's teaching upon the fundamental teachings of the Christian faith" (emphasis added). Actually, as Protopresbyter Georges Vasilievich Florovsky explains, the Ecumenical Councils defended what the Church has always known to be the truth [Bible, Church, Tradition: an Eastern Orthodox View, vol. 1 of The Collected Works of Georges Florovsky, pp. 96-97].

In addition, the Councils worked out the Church's visible organization. The local Churches were placed under the jurisdiction of ecclesiastical provinces, and the position of the five Patriarchates was defined.

17. Did the bishops explain the mysteries of God (that is, the Trinity, the Incarnation, etc.) at the Council?

The bishops did not explain and never imagined they had explained the mysteries of God; they merely drew a fence around them. That is, they excluded certain false ideas about them so that people would not fall into error and heresy.

Such is apophatic or negative theology. While cataphatic or positive theology proceeds by affirmations, apophatic theology proceeds by negations. Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos explains that the Holy Fathers used apophatic language to demonstrate the incapability of the mind to understand and express God, and that they transcended philosophy by means of apophatic theology and apophatic expressions. St. Gregory the Theologian (+390), for example, says: "It is impossible to express God and even more impossible to conceive Him."

As Hieromonk Damascene Christensen goes on to add, St. Maximus the Confessor (+662) states in his Mystagogy that we can use both affirmative and negative expression about God. By the first, His existence is affirmed, and by the second, His transcendence is shown in relation to His created works. However, as St. Maximus also states, the being of God is simple, unknowable and inaccessible to man and altogether impossible to interpret, because it is beyond all affirmation or negation.

Fr. Damascene continues, noting that the ancient Christian writers say that although we can apply to God such terms as Essence, Being, Mind or Thought, we have to understand that ultimately, God is beyond all these. The expression of St. John of Damascus (+750) is characteristic:

All that we can say affirmatively about God does not show His essence, but only what relates to His essence. And if you should ever speak of good, or justice, or wisdom, or something else of the sort, you are not describing the essence of God, but only things relating to His essence [Orthodox Faith, p. 172].

The same Holy Father also writes that:

The Divinity, then, is limitless and incomprehensible, and His limitlessness and incomprehensibility are all that can be understood about Him. All that we state affirmatively about God does not show His nature, but only what relates to His nature.

Fr. Damascene explains that because the mystery of the Holy Trinity has to do with the essence of God, it is ultimately incomprehensible not only to human beings, but to angels as well. St. Gregory the Theologian says that it would be impossible to speak of God's essence,

... even if you were a Moses... to Pharaoh, even if you were caught up like Paul to the third Heaven and heard unspeakable words, even if you were raised above them both and exalted to angelic or archangelic place and dignity. For though a thing be all heavenly, or above Heaven, and far higher in nature and nearer to God than we, yet it is farther distant from God, and from the complete comprehension of His essence, than it is lifted above our complex and lowly and earthly-sinking composition [Second Theological Oration, p. 289].

18. How can man break down the wall of sin which separates him from God?

Of his own efforts, man cannot break down this separation.

19. What is the central message of the Orthodox Christian faith?

Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos makes this matter clear and understandable by giving some needed preliminary information. He states that nowhere in Holy Scriptures does it appear that God is reconciled with men, but that Christ reconciles man to God. Moreover, the metropolitan notes, it appears in the whole of patristic Tradition that God is never opposed to man, but man opposed himself to God by having no communion or participation with Him. Thus, man makes God his enemy, but God does not make man His enemy. Through the sin which he commits, man sees God in an angry and hostile way.

Orthodox Christianity's central message is that God the Son has taken the initiative in breaking down the wall of separation that man's sinfulness created between God and man. The human race from the start had fallen away from the divine life by embracing sin, and it had fallen under the power of death. However, some two thousand years ago, in an act of self-emptying and abasement, God the Son directly intervened in human history by becoming incarnate. By His Incarnation, death on the Cross and Resurrection from death, Christ destroyed the power that death had over mankind. Through His teaching and His whole saving work, Christ reconciled to God a humanity that had grown distant from God and enslaved in sins, and He abolished the authority that the devil had acquired over men. By bridging the abyss that separates men from God, and through the union of man and God in His own Person, Christ opened the way to eternal life in Heaven for all who would accept it — that is, He enabled people to find eternal life and happiness with Him.

In connection with this message, Nicholas Cabasilas, the great Byzantine theologian of the fourteenth century, makes these additional comments:

Though men were triply separated from God — by nature, by sin and by death — yet the Saviour made them to attain to Him perfectly and to be immediately united to Him by successively removing all obstacles. The first barrier He removed by partaking of manhood, the second by being put to death on the Cross. As for the final barrier, the tyranny of death, He eliminated it completely from our nature by rising again [The Life in Christ, p. 106].

Concerning the Theanthropos (God-Man) Christ and His ability to save people, He is the Pre-Eternal God (Jn 1:1-3). He is consubstantial (of one essence, one nature) with the Un-Originate Father, and He is equal with the Father in authority and honor (Jn 5:17-24). Christ is the Only-Begotten Son of the Father (Jn 3:16), He is the Almighty Logos of the Father, and He is the Lord of All (Phil 2:9-11).

20. Why are heresies considered dangerous?

The doctrinal teaching of Christ's Church was composed and ratified by the Seven Ecumenical Councils. These Councils, representing the voice of the whole Church, represent the voice of Truth, for the Church is "the pillar and ground of the Truth" (1 Tim 3:15), and the Church as a whole cannot err. If the whole Church were to fall into error, it would mean that the gates of hell had prevailed against it, something Christ promised could not happen (Mt 16:18).

In order to enter into communion with God and be saved (and the goal of our life is the attainment of eternal blessedness), we must come to know God in some measure. "This is life eternal, that they might know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, Whom Thou hast sent" (Jn 17:3). God is Truth (Jn 14:6), and one must worship Him "in spirit and in truth" (Jn 4:23-24). Every falsehood is contrary to truth, and a person who has a wrong understanding about God does not know Him. The acceptance of a false teaching about God also deprives people of oneness of mind with other Christians and causes a spiritual separation from them. Obedience to the Church requires that we hold the true dogmas, like other Christians. If a person is disobedient by holding false beliefs, he is separated from the Church and from Christ Himself, Who is its Head. As Christ said, "If a man neglect to hear the Church, let him be unto thee as a heathen and a publican" (Mt 18:17). Moreover, with the acceptance of falsehood, a person is unnoticeably led into subjection by the devil, who is falsehood and the father of lies (Jn 8:44). A stubborn persistence in falsehood ultimately makes people its slave, and if they remain stubborn and unrepentant, they are deprived of eternal salvation. Therefore, in questions of doctrine, the importance of holding the Church's correct teachings, and the danger of accepting the false teachings of heretics, were so great that there are countless examples of true Christians who preferred exile, cruel torture and death, rather than renouncing the Church's Truth through the acceptance of some kind of false teaching.

The word heresy comes from the Greek hairoumai, to choose. A heretic is one who chooses his own beliefs over the Church's divinely revealed Truth. Heresies are dangerous and require condemnation because they deny God's revelation, and through the use of philosophy and conjecture, they use the words of the Holy Spirit against the Holy Spirit.

This human reason misled by the devil is deadly. As Fr. Kyril Zaits explains in this connection, the primordial enemy, the devil, does not lead people astray by presenting them with grossly blatant falsehoods or with an initial rejection of Christianity. Instead, he begins with a shred of truth, labels it "Christian," and then, attracting their attention, presents them with just enough truth to entice them to follow him. Afterwards, by ever graduating degrees, the devil introduces open falsehoods while nurturing the pride which leads deceived people to create their own false teaching. As Fr. Paul Volmensky goes on to add, if right belief saves a man, then disbelief is the lethal weapon of the devil. He spreads his deadly poison through heresies and moral depravity, fabricating lies with utter cunning, almost indomitable, psychology. The devil has continuously waged war against Christ's Church through this means, through heresies. He especially used them, though, after he was unable to defeat Christianity from without, from persecution on the part of the pagan Roman authorities.

All heresies twist the truth of the revelation of the Church and impair the teaching of the New Testament, and all of them distort ecclesiology. Since the Church is the Body of Christ (Eph. 1:22-23), every alteration in the teaching about Christ, about the Holy Spirit, about the way of man's salvation, also has ecclesiastical consequences. The blasphemous wisdom of heresies causes great damage for the Christian world because falling into heresy separates people from God, it severs them from the Holy Church, and it has been the reason for spiritual and moral falls. Moreover, as Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos explains, heresies reverse the way of man's cure for reaching deification, and they setup a barrier between man and God, leaving people permanently without a cure, without hope of cure or salvation. And ultimately, heresies cause the eternal death of the souls of those who follow heretics.

In his book The River of Fire, Dr. Alexander Kalomiros poses the questions, What was the instrument of the devil's slandering God? What means did the devil use in order to convince humanity, in order to pervert human thought? The author answers:

[The devil] used theology. He first introduced a slight alteration in theology which, once it was accepted, he managed to increase more and more to the degree that [Western] Christianity became completely unrecognizable. This is what we call Western theology [Emphasis added].

Dr. Kalomiros correctly discerns that Western theology's "principal characteristic is that it considers God as the real cause of evil." He notes that "Catholics and most Protestants consider death as a punishment from God." He goes on to state that:

Some Protestants consider death not as punishment but as something natural. But is not God the Creator of all natural things? So in both cases, God — for them — is the real cause of death.

/.../ The "God" of the West is an offended and angry God, full of wrath for the disobedience of men, Who desires in His destructive passion to torment all humanity into eternity for their sins, unless He received an infinite satisfaction for His offended pride.

What is the Western dogma of salvation? Did not God kill God in order to satisfy His pride, which the Westerners euphemistically call justice? [Emphasis added].

Western theology concludes that "salvation... is to be saved from the hands of God!" Dr. Kalomiros writes.

Fr. George Macris explains that in Orthodox theology, the Cross was not a necessity imposed upon God, nor was the blood of the Only-Begotten Son a source of satisfaction to God the Father, as the Latin scholastics teach. The matter of "satisfying the justice of God" is a phrase nowhere to be found in Scriptures nor in the writings of the Holy Fathers; instead, it was a fabrication of Anselm of Canterbury (c. 1100) that appeared after the Latin Church severed itself from Christ's Church in 1054. This false doctrine was later developed by Thomas Aquinas to become the official soteriological doctrine of the Latin West.

Explaining how most Westerners anthropomorphize God, or project sinful qualities in fallen men onto God, Dr. Kalomiros adds:

This juridical conception of God, this completely distorted interpretation of God's justice, was nothing else than the projection of human passions on theology. It was a return to the pagan process of humanizing God and deifying man. Men are vexed and angered when not taken seriously and consider it a humiliation which only vengeance can remove, whether it is by crime or by duel. This was the worldly, passionate conception of justice....

Western Christians thought about God's justice in the same way also; God, the infinite Being, was infinitely insulted by Adam's disobedience. He decided that the guilt of Adam's disobedience descended equally to all His children, and that all were to be sentenced to death for Adam's sin, which they did not commit. God's justice for Westerners operated like a vendetta. Not only the man who insulted you, but also all his family, must die. And what was tragic for men, to the point of helplessness, was that no man, not even all humanity, could appease God's insulted dignity, even if all men in history were to be sacrificed. God's dignity could be saved only if He could punish someone of the same dignity as He. So in order to save both God's dignity and mankind, there was no other solution than the incarnation of His Son, so that a man of Godly dignity could be sacrificed to save God's honor [Emphasis added].

The Western theological concept of God's justice is not Christian; rather it is a pagan concept that makes God the source of all our misfortunes. Such a justice is not justice at all, for it punishes people who are completely innocent of the sin of their forefathers. Dr. Kalomiros therefore concludes:

What Westerners call justice ought rather to be called resentment and vengeance of the worst kind. Even Christ's love and sacrifice lose their significance and logic in this schizoid notion of a God Who kills God in order to satisfy the so-called justice of God [Emphasis added].

In his book The Mind of the Orthodox Church, Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos likewise gives a careful and elaborate explanation of the Western concept of God. He writes that:

It is sinful to ascribe to God the characteristic features of fallen man, such as that God is angry and vengeful and therefore He must be propitiated and appeased. Such an attitude wants to make it appear that it is God Who needs curing and not man. But this is sacrilegious. The sinful man who is characterized by egoism and arrogance is offended. St. John Chrysostom says characteristically: "It is not He Who is at enmity, but we; for God is never at enmity." We cannot say that God is man's enemy, but that man, by the sin which he has committed, has become an enemy of God. Consequently, sin is not an offense to God, Who must be cured, but our own illness, and therefore we have need of a cure [p. 170; emphasis added].

The metropolitan continues:

By His sacrifice on the Cross, Christ did not propitiate the Father, but He cured the ailing nature of man. And this is said not solely about the sacrifice on the Cross, but about the whole work of the divine economia.... It is blasphemous for us to maintain that God the Father would be pleased to have the blood of His Only-Begotten Son. What is unthinkable even on the human level is much more unthinkable for God.... St. Gregory [the Theologian] says that the Father neither asked nor needed the blood of His Only-Begotten Son. But Christ offered it in order to cure man and to sanctify him [pp. 171-72; emphasis added].

The metropolitan sums up his explanation with the notion that:

The [Latin] teaching... about the propitiation of divine justice has direct consequences in the spiritual life, because the whole ascetic effort is to cure God and not man, to satisfy God's justice.... The Latins' whole effort is towards justifying themselves, appeasing God, and not toward their own cure [pp. 172-73]. /.../ The legalistic view is alien to the Orthodox mind. When we think that God has been offended by the sin which we commit and that we must therefore do everything to appease Him, when our relationship with God is put on a business basis, then we are living in the legalistic spirit [p. 175; emphasis added].

The Western tendency to ascribe fallen, sinful qualities to God is anthropomorphic. It is a human projection, a human invention. In no way is such a "God" the God of revelation, the God Who revealed Himself to the prophets, Apostles and Fathers. (Thus, many in the West have not actually thrown God out of their lives, for they have never known Him. Instead, they have discarded only the Western "God," a non-existent "God.")

Given the utterly disastrous falsehood that Satan engendered in the Latino-Protestant world through heresies, the danger of false teachings is all the more obvious.

21. How does St. Athanasius sum up the purpose of the Incarnation?

St. Athanasius states that "God became man that we might become god."

22. What is meant by the doctrine of theosis?

The Greek Fathers, taking a number of scriptural passages in their literal sense (including those cited in 23 below), spoke of man's deification (theosis in Greek). Arguing that if man is to share in God's glory and be "perfectly one" with Him, man must become deified. That is, he is to become by grace what God is by nature.

Although Orthodox Christians know that they do not become God or a part of Him (something that is not only blasphemous heresy, but impossible), still, God calls people into intimate communion with Him through participation in the life of His grace, that they may become children of God not by nature and begetting (as with Christ, the Only-Begotten Son of God), but by grace and adoption. People are not called to the false glory which Satan once sought and was therefore cast down to hell, but to the true "power to become sons of God" (Jn 1:12), which raises them to Heaven.

Regarding the literal interpretation noted above, Elder Cleopa of Romania explains that the mystery of Holy Scripture is understood and explained in three ways. He lists these ways as: 1) literal, according to the nominal, grammatical, verbal and historical meaning; 2) allegorical or metaphorical, which is superior to the former; and 3) spiritual. The elder adds that "according to the Fathers, the simplest of senses to alight upon is the first meaning, according to the letter of Scripture, to penetrate with discretion to the nature of Scripture requires modest learning, while to explain the depth of the meaning of Scripture is of the highest spiritual advancement and in need of the most divine grace" [The Truth of Our Faith, p. 48].

23. Give two texts from the New Testament which reveal this doctrine.

Our Lord Jesus Christ, though He was rich, yet for your sake became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich (2 Cor 8:9).

The glory which Thou, Father, gavest Me I have given to them, that they may be perfectly one (Jn 17:22-23).

Thus the Lord states that He has given a share of the divine glory to His Apostles, and He prays that they may be united to God.

Although not noted in the textbook, the italicized words in the following passage also convey the meaning of deification:

And He Himself gave some to be Apostles and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the Body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of faith of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ (Eph 4:11-13).

24. Though it is not mentioned in the textbook, can you explain how this doctrine is presented in the true Orthodox icon?

Leonid Ouspensky deals with the phenomenon of theosis in iconography throughout his book Theology of the Icon. This author states that "the icon is intimately connected with the renewal, the deification of human nature realized in Christ." Further on he explains that "men who have known sanctification by experience have created images that correspond to it." He continues:

The icon is an image not only of a living but also a deified prototype. It does not represent the corruptible flesh, destined for decomposition, but transfigured flesh, illumined by grace, the flesh of the world to come (cf. 1 Cor 15:35-46). It portrays the divine beauty and glory in material ways which are visible to human eyes. The icon is venerable and holy precisely because it portrays this deified state of its prototype and bears his name.

Regarding true icons (also called Byzantine icons), these are the traditional icons of intense spiritual beauty that lead the viewer from the world of matter to the holy prototypes and to God. These icons bear the impress of holiness as a high decree of sanctification is demanded of the painter-monastics, who prepare for their task with fasting and ascetic endeavors. In the final analysis, iconography is the outcome of a holy life, and it is the fruit of a way of life. Other true icons having the imprint of holiness are those not-wrought-by-men's-hands that have appeared miraculously.

True icons are not those of the worldly, innovative and ostentatious style patterned after Western paintings. The modernistic, Western-style icons are not holy, and it is an infringement of Apostolic Tradition to use them. This matter will be examined in further depth in chapter four.

25. If man is to share in God's glory, if he is to be "perfectly one" with God, to what state would he have to attain?

Man would have to be deified. That is, he must become by grace what God is by nature.

26. In order to make theosis possible, what nature would Christ have to possess?

Christ must be — and is — both fully God and fully man. The textbook goes on to note that:

Each heresy in turn undermined some part of this vital affirmation. Either Christ was made less than God (Arianism); or His manhood was so divided from His Godhead that He became two persons instead of one (Nestorianism); or He was not presented as truly man (Monophysitism, Monothelitism).

In response to these four heresies that attacked God's revelation, the Ecumenical Councils defended the truth that Christ is fully God and fully man.

27. Why must Christ be truly, fully God?

For theosis to be possible, Christ must be fully God since no one less than God can save man.

28. Why must Christ be truly, fully man?

Christ must also be fully man so that human beings can participate in what He has done for our race.

29. What bridge was formed between God and man?

The Incarnate Christ, Who is both God and man, is the bridge between God and man.

30. In what Scripture is this bridge or ladder described?

The bridge or ladder is described in St. John's Gospel. "Hereafter you shall see Heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man" (Jn 1:51).

31. Who else besides angels use this ladder?

The human race uses it.

32. Upon what aspect of the doctrine of Christ's nature did the first two Ecumenical Councils concentrate?

The first two Ecumenical Councils (fourth century) concentrated on Christ's Divinity and that He must be fully God, and they formulated the doctrine of the Holy Trinity.

33. How was this teaching of divine bridge building undermined by a) Arianism, and b) Monophysitism and Monothelitism?

Once the Christian Church proved victorious over the persecution coming from without, from the pagans, an even greater danger arose from within. That danger was in the form of attacks from false brothers in the Church — that is, from one heresy and schism after another. Among those heresies were Arianism, Monophysitism and Monothelitism.

Arianism undermined the idea of divine bridge building in that it falsely taught that the Son was inferior to the Father. It also falsely placed the Son among created things: a superior creature, it said, yet still a creature. The effect of this heresy was to render man's deification impossible. Condemning Arianism, the First Ecumenical Council (325) answered that only if Christ is truly God can He unite us to God, for the way to union with God can be opened by none but God Himself. The Council went on to affirm the truth that Christ is "of one essence" (homoousios) with the Father. He is not a demigod or a superior creature, but He is God in the same sense that the Father is God.

Monophysitism and Monothelitism undermined the idea of divine bridge building from the opposite approach: both struck at the fullness of Christ's humanity and held that He was not truly man. Monophysitism maintained that in Christ was a unity of personality, but only one nature. That is, it considered that Christ's human nature had been absorbed by His divine nature. The Fourth Ecumenical Council (451) replied with a proclamation of belief in "one and the same Son, perfect in Godhood and perfect in manhood, truly God and truly man... acknowledged in two natures unconfusedly, unchangeably, indivisibly, inseparably; the difference between the natures is in no way removed because of the union, but rather the peculiar property of each nature is preserved, and both combine in one Person and in one Hypostasis."

(Concerning the word hypostasis, Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos explains that it is derived from the Greek verb meaning to stand underneath, and it implies stability, the foundation, basis, and so forth. In theological language, hypostasis means being or reality, in contrast to appearance. The metropolitan goes on to state that according to St. John of Damascus, hypostasis means two things: first, existence, and secondly, the particular existence of each person. That is to say, a man is a hypostasis, he has a real existence, but also each person has his particular existence, the peculiarly characteristic features which distinguish him from other people, other hypostases).

Monothelitism, a later form of Monophysitism, held that although Christ has two natures, He is still a single Person and thus has only one will — namely, the divine will. The Sixth Ecumenical Council (680) condemned this false teaching and replied that if Christ has two natures, then He must have two wills.

After the condemnation of Monothelitism by the Sixth Council, this heresy continued and centered at the Monastery of St. Maron in Lebanon and grew into the Maronite Church. It has about 500,000 adherents (1985) worldwide.

Arius is called a fighter against God and a ringleader of the heresies. He was a second Judas, although he had a worse end than Judas, who at least died in a secluded place. As Arius was on his way to be reconciled to the Church, the bishop who had to receive him suspected that his repentance was not genuine, and he therefore placed the matter in God's hands. Then, while Arius was on his way to church, he stepped into a public latrine, and there he died when his bowels burst from his body.

Arianism was brought back to life in the modern God-fighting sect of the Jehovah's Witnesses, which also denies Christ's Divinity and openly and consciously attacks the Holy Trinity. It should come as no surprise that the Jehovah's Witnesses are given extensive financial support from the enemies of Christianity.

34. What article of the Creed was set forth by the First Ecumenical Council?

The First Ecumenical Council proclaimed in its Creed: "I believe in... one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Only-Begotten, begotten of the Father before all ages; Light of Light, true God of true God; begotten, not made; of one essence with the Father." Behind these truths stands the one and only God, the Most Holy Trinity.

35. Outline the understanding which your derived from this section about the Ecumenical Councils.

The textbook notes that the Church's Councils had as their purpose the salvation of man and that the Council is the chief means by which God has chosen to guide His flock. Protopresbyter Michael Pomazansky adds that:

The highest organ of authority in the Church, and the highest authority in general, is a council of bishops: for a local Church it is a council of its local bishops, and for the Ecumenical Church, a council of the bishops of the whole Church [Orthodox Dogmatic Theology, p. 235].

As noted, an Ecumenical Council starts out as a general council of bishops from all districts who assemble in order to discuss and decide questions pressing to the entire Church. St. Nikodemos the Hagiorite (+1809) gives four distinguishing marks of an Ecumenical Council. The first is that it is convened "by order, not of the pope nor of such and such a patriarch, but by royal orders." The Ecumenical Councils were convened by the Roman (Byzantine) emperors when they wanted to make the definition of an Ecumenical Council a law of the empire for the peace of its citizens. The second is that there should be a discussion of topics of faith "and afterwards a decision and a dogmatic definition should be published in each one of the Patriarchates." The third is that "the dogmas must be correct in their Orthodoxy and in agreement with the Divine Scriptures, or the previous Ecumenical Councils." To be the voice of the Church, a council's decisions must be in harmony with the Scriptures and the preceding Ecumenical Councils, and conversely, a council cannot be ecumenical if its decisions are in disharmony with the Scriptures or the previous Ecumenical Councils. If the decisions meet these standards, they are valid. As St. Maximus the Confessor states: "The right faith validates the meetings that have taken place, and again, the correctness of dogmas justifies the meetings." The fourth is that it must have universal recognition. All the Orthodox patriarchs and archbishops must "agree and accept the decisions and canonizings by the Ecumenical Councils, either through their personal presence or through their delegates, and in their absence, through their letters." [Quoted in Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos, The Mind of the Orthodox Church, pp. 215-16].

Protopresbyter Michael Pomazansky additionally notes that:

The Orthodox Church of Christ is the Body of Christ, a spiritual organism whose Head is Christ. It has a single spirit, a single common faith, a single and common catholic consciousness guided by the Holy Spirit; and its reasonings are based on the concrete, definite foundations of Sacred Scripture and Sacred Apostolic Tradition. This catholic consciousness is always with the Church, but, in a more definite fashion, this consciousness is expressed in the Ecumenical Councils of the Church [Op. cit., p. 35].

Concerning what the Ecumenical Councils accomplished, Fr. Michael explains that they formulated precisely and confirmed a number of fundamental truths of the Orthodox Christian faith. Secondly, they defended the ancient teaching of the Church against the distortions of heretics. Thirdly, they formulated numerous laws and rules, or canons, for governing public and private Christian life, and they required universal and uniform observance of these canons. Lastly, the Ecumenical Councils confirmed the dogmatic decrees of a number of local councils, and also the dogmatic statements composed by certain Fathers of the Church.

Fr. Michael gives more details, stating that when it happened that councils of bishops permitted heretical views to be expressed in their decrees, the catholic consciousness of the Church was disturbed and was not pacified until authentic Christian truth was restored and confirmed by means of another council. It is explained that:

True Councils — those which express Orthodox truth — are accepted by the Church's catholic consciousness; false councils — those which teach heresy or reject some aspect of the Church's Tradition — are rejected by the same catholic consciousness. The Orthodox Church is the Church not of councils as such, but only of true councils, inspired by the Holy Spirit, which conform to the Church's catholic consciousness [Ibid., p. 36].

The textbook for this course notes that the decisions of a general council are overturned if the Church rejects them as heretical. Three instances of such a rejection are given: Ephesus (449), the Iconoclast Council of Hieria (754), and Florence (1438-39).

Fr. Michael explains that the Ecumenical Councils of the Church made their dogmatic decrees a) after a careful, thorough and complete examination of all those places in Sacred Scripture which touch a given question, and b) thus testifying that the Ecumenical Church has understood the cited passages of Sacred Scripture in precisely this way. In this way, the decrees of the Ecumenical Councils concerning the faith express

... the harmony of Sacred Scripture and the catholic Tradition of the Church. For this reason these decrees became themselves, in their turn, an authentic, inviolable, authoritative, Ecumenical and Sacred Tradition in the Church, founded upon the facts of Sacred Scripture and Apostolic Tradition [Ibid].

Concerning the Church's Creed, Fr. Michael makes the following notation:

Among all the dogmatic decrees of the Councils, the Ecumenical Councils themselves acknowledge as primary and fundamental the Nicaeo-Constantinopolitan Symbol of Faith, and they forbade any changes whatsoever in it, not only in its ideas, but also in its words, either by addition or subtraction (decrees of the Third Ecumenical Council, repeated by the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Councils) [Ibid., p. 37].

The first part of the Creed was written at the First Ecumenical Council, and it emphasized the monotheistic centrality of faith. The second half of the Creed, written at the Second Ecumenical Council, emphasized the respective roles of each of the Persons of the Holy Trinity. The doctrinal truth proclaiming the dyophysite nature of the Son, His two (dyo, duo) simultaneous natures, was the work of St. Cyril of Alexandria (+444). Whoever does not accept the truths of the Creed is not an Orthodox Christian.

It should also be noted that the Orthodox Church to this day retains the original text of the Creed. The Roman Catholic Church, on the other hand, uses an altered text, thus coming under the condemnation of five Ecumenical Councils that the Latin Church itself recognizes as divinely inspired.

The doctrinal definitions handed down by the Ecumenical Councils are infallible, and along with the Bible, they have a permanent and irrevocable authority. The Ecumenical Councils cannot be revised or corrected, but must be accepted in their entirety. Archpriest Seraphim Slobodskoy writes in this regard that:

The decision of an Ecumenical Council is the highest earthly authority of the Holy Church of Christ, guided by the Holy Spirit, as it was stated in the decision of the first Apostolic Council, "For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us..." (Acts 15:28) [The Law of God, p. 425].

36. What do you feel was the most important point in this section of the textbook?

The most significant point is that dealing with God's plan for the salvation of mankind. God the Son took the initiative in breaking down the wall of separation that man's sinfulness had created between God and man. To this end, He became man, was crucified, and rose again from the dead, thereby delivering humanity from the bondage to sin and death. Christ, Who is both fully God and fully man, became a bridge between God and man, and He invites people to partake of His divine life and be redeemed.

Another extremely significant aspect of this section is that dealing with the Ecumenical Councils. These Councils are but one more sign of God's concern for mankind and Christ's continued fidelity to His Church. Christ did not leave His followers orphans but sent the Holy Spirit to guide the Church in truth and to protect it against error and heresy so that man can attain full salvation.

Lastly, some very important observations that tie in with this period of Church history are given by Dr. Ivan Andreyev. The professor writes that:

The appearance of Christ on earth and the spreading of historical Christianity roused against itself the mobilization of all the forces of hades. In answer to this, Christianity presented to the world its self-defense. It answered persecutions with professions of faith and martyrdom; heresies, schisms and false doctrines with the Ecumenical Councils, the doctrines of the Holy Fathers and dogmas; the continual torrent of nagging criticism with impartial apologetics; slander with holiness; and the efforts of all the powers of hades with the Holy Church [Orthodox Apologetic Theology, p. 164].



3. Byzantium and the Church of the Seven Councils (Continuation).

1. What aspect of the Nicene Creed was developed at the Second Ecumenical Council?

The Second Ecumenical Council developed the teaching of the Holy Spirit and affirmed that the Holy Spirit is God, even as the Father and Son are God. This Council also adopted the Nicene Creed, which states that the Holy Spirit "proceeds from the Father, Who with the Father and Son together is worshiped and glorified." As Archpriest Vladimir Glindsky explains, the personal attribute of the Holy Spirit is such that He proceeds eternally from the Father, just as the attribute of the Son is to be born eternally of the Father.

That the Holy Spirit is one in essence with the other Persons of the Holy Trinity is shown in Scriptures: "Go therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit" (Mt 28:19).

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, be with you all (2 Cor 13:13).

And who shall know Thy thought, except Thou give wisdom, and send Thy Holy Spirit from above (Wisdom of Solomon 9:17).

The same Fr. Vladimir also explains that:

The Orthodox teaching on the Holy Spirit is inspired by Holy Scripture. It asserts that the Holy Spirit is the Third Living Person of the Triune God, distinct from the Father and the Son, but is not an anonymous force of God, nor simply a force created by God. Especially contradictory to God's Word is the reasoning that the Holy Spirit is simply a grace-filled inspiration in the believer ["Fundamentals of the Orthodox Christian Faith," Orthodox Life, vol. 51, no. 4, 2001, p. 24].

2. The author of the textbook, as with most Western writers, confuses St. Gregory the Theologian with his father, St. Gregory Nazianzus. Noting that this error has been made, name the four Holy Fathers who were the most responsible for the definitive work of the Second Ecumenical Council.

These Fathers were Saints Athanasius of Alexandria (+373), Gregory the Theologian (+390), Basil the Great (+379) and Gregory of Nyssa (+395).

3. What is the key word in the Nicene Creed and what does it mean?

The key word is homoousios, which means one in essence or substance, consubstantial. St. Athanasius of Alexandria worked out the full implications of this concept which explains the Son's relation to the Father. Christ is not some kind of superior creature, but He is God in the very sense that the Father is, and He is equal in power to, and in undivided glory with, the Father. Christ is "true God of true God, begotten not made, one in essence with the Father," the Church's Creed proclaims.

4. The Cappadocian Fathers gave full meaning to what?

The textbook states that the Cappadocian Fathers preserved a delicate balance between the threeness and oneness of God and that they gave a full meaning to the classic summary of Trinitarian doctrine, three Persons in one essence. Concerning this analysis, Hieromonk Patapios of Etna states that the textbook presents a typically Western assessment of St. Athanasius the Great and the Cappadocians, according to which the former emphasized the "unity of God" and the latter "God's threeness." Fr. Patapios explains that:

Such a contrast is not inherently mistaken, as long as it is not pressed so far as to imply that St. Athanasius did not appreciate the "threeness" of God or that the Cappadocians did not make due allowance for His "oneness." This difference of emphasis has more to do with the different heresies that both were combating, than it does with any lopsidedness in their respective theologies. One should be extremely cautious about posing contrasts of this kind, which all too easily contribute to the misconception that the Fathers were somehow at odds with each other, rather than members of a harmonious chorus [The Orthodox Church and The Orthodox Way Reviewed, pp. 5-6].

5. What position did the pope of Rome formerly hold in the Church?

First, it is to be noted that the textbook for this course is somewhat of a mixed bag. While it may be the best introduction to Orthodoxy currently available in English, it is written by an author whose background is Anglican rather than Orthodox, and as a result, many serious theological errors find their way into the book. Among these errors is the author's completely un-Orthodox view of the papacy and his appalling and clearly misleading statement that the "Orthodox believe that among the five patriarchs, a special place belongs to the pope." Commenting on this completely false assertion, Fr. Patapios asks:

Do we believe this now? Except for some fanatical ecumenists, most certainly not. What [the author] should have said is that in the first millennium, the East was prepared to accord some kind of supremacy of honor, as he himself concedes later in the same paragraph, to the patriarch of Rome — though not exclusively so, given the position of honor also accorded to Constantinople and the Mother Church of Jerusalem. Whatever this primacy may have been in the minds of the ancient bishops, it is now a dead letter; so, indeed, is Rome's very claim to Apostolic Succession. [The textbook] also suggests that we, as Orthodox, grant that "the holy and Apostolic see of Rome... [has]... the right (under certain conditions) to hear appeals from all parts of Christendom." When it was still Orthodox in its confession of the faith, the Roman papacy may have played some such role. However, since it lapsed into heresy, this limited spiritual prerogative — whatever it may have been — has become utterly null and void [Ibid., pp. 6-7].

Orthodoxy has always believed in the equality of all bishops as regards grace and divine right, no matter how humble or exalted the city over which he presides. Orthodoxy distinguishes between bishops only as regards honor. Although all bishops (including patriarchs) are equal in the Orthodox Church, they do have different administrative duties and honors that accrue to their rank.

Prior to 1054, when Latin Christianity was still in communion with Eastern Christianity, the bishop of Rome, or pope (meaning father), was regarded as primus inter pares (the first among equals) among the other bishops. The First Ecumenical Council of Nicaea in 325 accorded the bishop of Rome this distinction not because Rome had been the seat of the Apostle Peter, but "on account of her being the imperial city" [Canon 28]. If the position of honor accorded to the pope was determined not by the political but by the religious significance of the city, the primacy of honor would be reserved for Jerusalem, the Mother Church of Christendom. There would be no dispute in this matter, for Christ lived in Jerusalem, was crucified there and arose from the dead there. Thus, the first among equals position was not a supremacy, but was instead a preeminence of honor. This primacy of honor was largely of symbolic value. It meant that in ecumenical gatherings, the bishop of Rome could, if he wished, preside over the meetings and hold center place, inasmuch as the highest ranking bishop would preside in Councils but would not impose authority. However, some books hod that no pope was ever present at an Ecumenical Council, and no pope ever presided over one of them. Moreover, the Ecumenical Councils themselves never imagined that the legitimacy of their decisions was to be determined by papal review and approval. There is simply no historical data to support such a view.

Of further note, the prerogative of being first among equals was also given to the bishop of Constantinople when that city became the capital of the Roman Empire. This honor was bestowed by Canon 28 of the Fourth Ecumenical Council held at Chalcedon. Moreover, as the writer Michael Whelton explains, in no place is any hint ever given in any canon or by any of the Fathers that the bishop of Rome has ever been the prince of the Universal Church, or an infallible judge of other bishops of the other independent and self-governing Churches, or the successor of the Apostle Peter and the vicar of Christ on earth. The same former Roman Catholic notes that the Church of the Seven Ecumenical Councils called for an equilibrium found in Canon 34 of the Apostolic Canons. These canons date from the first half of the fourth century and mirror the practices of the Pre-Nicaean Church. These canons were translated into Latin by Dionysius Exiguus in the late fifth century and were widely accepted in the West. In them, the 34th Canon states that "... neither let him who is the first do anything without the consent of all." Thus, it was entirely clear that no bishop could claim universal jurisdiction since he could do nothing without the consent of all.

Also of note, every self-governing Church, both in the East and West, was completely independent and self-administered in the time of the Seven Ecumenical Councils. Just as in the East, the bishops of Africa, Spain, Gaul, Britain and elsewhere managed the affairs of their own Churches through their local councils. The bishop of Rome had no right to interfere with these Churches, and he also was equally subject and obedient to the decrees of the councils. Also, on important questions that required the sanction of the Universal Church, an appeal was made not to the bishop of Rome, but to an Ecumenical Council, which alone was (and is) the supreme tribunal in the Universal Church. Such was the ancient constitution of the Church. The bishops were independent of one another, they obeyed only the decrees of the councils, and they sat as equal to one another in the councils. Also, none of the bishops laid claim to monarchical rights over the Universal Church. On those occasions when certain ambitions bishops of Rome raised excessive claims to an absolutism not recognized in the Church, they were duly reproved and rebuked.

In short, the bishop of Rome was never accorded any rights or powers over the entire Church. As patriarch of the West, he had no more authority than that granted to any of the patriarchs in the East.

The Roman Catholic history of the Church is utterly artificial, ignoring as it does more than half of the Christian world, the Christian East, from which Western Christianity ultimately derives. Contrary to the Latin Church's assertion, the spiritual center of Christianity was not Rome. In the earliest extant copies of the Liturgy, it is written that: "We make offering for Zion [Jerusalem], the mother of all Churches." Likewise, the Second Ecumenical Council proclaims that "Jerusalem is the mother of all Churches." As for Rome's argument that the Christian Church in Rome held an actual primacy in the Church, rather than a primacy of honor, such a notion would have struck the primitive Church as absurd.

Furthermore, to trace that primacy to the Apostle Peter would not have seemed sensible to the early Church. Had any kind of personal primacy — aside from that of Christ — existed in the Church, it would have belonged to St. James, the bishop of Jerusalem.

Roman Catholics and Orthodox both believe that St. James was the first bishop of Jerusalem, but only Rome teaches that St. Peter presided over the Council of Jerusalem as a pope. However, the facts of Scripture (Acts 15) clearly refute this idea. Although Peter spoke at the Council, James disagreed with Peter, and it was James who summed up the decisions and decided the issue of the catholicity of the Christian message. James was the center of the Apostolic Council and was its voice, and it was to James' voice that Peter submitted. There is no indication in Acts 15 that Peter in any way presided over the Council. If Roman Catholics would read the book of Acts, they would see for themselves that the Council of Jerusalem was not presided over by St. Peter.

In addition, the Apostle Peter himself never asserted any sort of supremacy over the other Apostles. While Peter was the first to receive the power to bind and to loose, this power was subsequently given to all the Apostles (vide Mt 16:16-19 and Mt 18:18).

Had any bishops dared to arrogate to themselves a supremacy of power over the other bishops, the bishops of Antioch would have had all the more reasonable claim than Rome of being the see of Peter inasmuch as the Apostle Peter founded the Church of Antioch and was its first bishop before he ever went to Rome. Moreover, in addition to Antioch, a sizeable number of Churches trace their foundation to the Apostle Peter: Alexandria, Caesarea in Palestine, Tripoli and Corinth. If one were to suppose that the Roman Catholics had correctly interpreted Mt 16:18-19, and that primacy had actually been given to Peter and his supposed successors, the bishops of Rome, then Rome's primacy does not follow from it since the bishops from all the above Churches founded by Peter would have to lay claim for primacy for themselves, as successors of the "chief" Apostle. In such a case, the dogma of primacy would be reduced to absurdity. As it was, however, these other Churches founded by Peter did not fall into Rome's deception, for the teaching of primacy was unknown to the Church.

In the sixth century, Pope Gregory I the Great (+604), misunderstanding the authority assumed by the bishop of New Rome (Constantinople), wrote some terse words to the latter, warning that he should not misinterpret or overstate the primacy of honor due to him as bishop of New Rome. Pope Gregory clearly points out that actual authority in the Church is shared by all the bishops equally [Papal Letters, Book 5, Letter 20]. This same pope pronounced any "universal bishop" to be "the forerunner of the antichrist."

Pope Gregory's letter stands as the clearest possible witness against a primacy in the Roman pontiff, and it clearly shows that the idea of papal supremacy represents a deviation on Rome's part from the correct understanding of the authority of bishops — an understanding that Rome itself had earlier adhered to. St. Gregory's opposition to papal authority is well documented, and his letters are available to anyone who wishes to read them. In these letters, there is striking evidence that even in Rome, the right to claim a primacy over the Church was not recognized.

St. Gregory's correct understanding is from a bishop of Rome, no less, and one regarded by the Roman Catholic Church as a very eminent pope and a great saint. Needless to say, the Latin Church makes certain to conceal Pope Gregory's letter from its flock.

Another guarded secret of the Latin Church is that early popes condemned the title Supreme Bishop of the Universal Church as blasphemous, as a "snare of Satan," and as an "imitation of the devil." However, this very title is now the chief title of the Roman Catholic popes.

The falsehood of supremacy of external power and jurisdiction was unheard-of in the undivided Christian Church until Rome began to assert it beginning in the ninth century. It was the Carolingians that initiated papal claims to tremendous worldly power at that time, although the papacy itself never dogmatized these claims in the form of papal infallibility until the year 1870. (As noted in the introduction, for almost nineteen centuries, papal infallibility was denied by popes and faithful laymen). Concerning these false claims, St. John of Kronstadt stated that:

The cause of all the errors of the Roman Catholic Church is pride, and belief that the pope is the real head of the Church, and what is more, that he is infallible.

The Protestant Reformer John Wycliffe noted the same:

The pride of the pope is why the Greeks are divided from the so-called faithful. It is we Westerners, who are too fanatical by far, who have been divided from the faithful Greeks and the faith of our Lord Jesus.

Writing of the Latin Church's departure from the ancient Apostolic Church of Christ, one writer explains that:

When Cardinal Humbert walked out of Saint Sophia [in Constantinople] in 1054, having put the pope's bull of excommunication on the altar, he left as an ordinary layman, since he (and his superior in Rome, and all who remained in communion with him) ceased being in open, formal communion with the rest of the Christian Church which continued holding Apostolic doctrine and polity. All who joined themselves with that group of men who left voluntarily the unity of the continuing Church have remained apostates and schismatics ever since, no matter how vast, wealthy and vociferous they may be in claiming otherwise.

Whoever either voluntarily sets himself apart from the continuing unity of the undivided Church founded by Christ, or who alters the teachings defined by that Church, ceases to be a member of it. Orthodoxy alone has remained unchanged through the centuries, both in her doctrine and in her organization; all other groups, however huge or widespread, and however they may choose to style themselves, are not Orthodox, not in membership with that One Church founded by Christ [Abbot Augustine Whitfield, "Valid Orders," Orthodox America, March 1989, p. 16; emphasis added].

Commenting further on Rome's fall and its pope (whom he calls the man-god and idol of Western humanism), St. Justin (Popovich) of Chelije states that:

In the history of mankind there are three falls, the fall of Adam, of Judas Iscariot, and that of the pope. The essence of falling into sin is always the same: the desire to become God by oneself. In this manner, a man insensibly equates himself with the devil, because he also wants to become God by himself to replace God with himself.... The fall of the pope lies exactly in this very thing: to want to replace the God-Man [Christ] with the man.

As of Rome's infinitely tragic departure from Christ's Church in 1054, the unity of the Church did not cease at that time, nor did Orthodoxy and Rome become separate branches of the Church. The Church, being one, continued in ancient Orthodoxy. As Protopresbyter Michael Pomazansky explains:

The Church does not lose its unity because side by side with the Church there exist Christian societies which do not belong to it. These societies are not in the Church, they are outside it [Orthodox Dogmatic Theology, p. 235].

Abbot Augustine explains that once the Latin Church severed itself from the Eastern Church, the post-schism popes invented new and unscriptural ecclesiologies that sought to justify their separation. These ecclesiologies claimed that Rome's bishops somehow "kept their orders" and "could perform valid Sacraments." Deviating from what the Church has always held, the Latin Church came to maintain that sacramental authority resides in the person of the clergyman because of his ordination. Thus, if that individual secedes from the Church, he can continue to liturgise and ordain others (although he will sin in doing so), and his Sacraments will be valid but irregular.

Rome's newly invented false teaching in this regard became the rationale for thousands of independent bodies that claim to have Apostolic Succession and Sacraments, but which have lost what is essential to them both — the characteristic of Church unity as understood by the Holy Fathers. The Fathers teach that the grace of the Mysteries (Sacraments), given by God, resides in the Church. This grace is poured out upon Christians through the clergy ordained for this purpose. This mysterious power does not reside in the individual men who celebrate the Mysteries, but it belongs in the body of the Church, from whom the bishops and clergy receive their authority. If any clergyman separates himself from the Church, either because of teaching falsely (heresy), or by seceding from the unity of the Church (schism), any "Mysteries" he performs are totally invalid and void, as "he has become a layman" (St. Basil). Thus, after the Latin Church left Christ's Church in the Great Schism, it had neither bishops, nor orders, nor Sacraments, nor the grace of the Holy Spirit.

As a result of being cut off from the Holy Spirit, Rome was no longer in a position to withstand false teachings that arose, and these in turn became dogmatized (a matter that will be explored in chapter six). One such false dogma, that of papal infallibility, is explained by Protopriest Victor Potapov. He writes that:

The teaching on the infallibility of the pope, which was completely unknown to the ancient, undivided Church, appeared in the Middle Ages, just like the teaching on the supremacy of the pope; but for a long time it met opposition on the part of the more enlightened, honest and independent members of the Catholic Church. Only in the year 1870, at the First Vatican Council, did Pope Pius IX succeed in turning this teaching into a dogma, in spite of the protest of many Catholics, who even preferred to leave this Church and found their own community [of the Old Catholics] rather than to accept so absurd a dogma. By virtue of the definition of the Vatican Council, the pope is infallible when he, as the pastor and teacher of all Christians, defines or proclaims the truths of the faith ex cathedra, that is, officially, as the head of the Church. The nebulous expression ex cathedra is not understood in the same way by all Catholic theologians; but, no matter how one understands it, the Catholic dogma contradicts the whole spirit of Christ's teaching, which rejects the possibility for an individual man to be infallible, no matter what position he might occupy.

The dogma of the infallibility of the pope contradicts the whole history of the Church and of the papacy itself. History provides a whole series of indisputable facts concerning the errors of popes in questions of dogma and the contradictions of popes among themselves in matters of faith. For example, Pope Sixtus V, in concert with the bishops, issued a Latin translation of the Bible corrected by him and, under threat of anathema, required it to be accepted as the most authentic. There proved to be major mistakes in this translation, and subsequent popes withdrew it from church use. Which of the popes was infallible, Sixtus or his successor? Pope Leo III not only refused to insert the filioque, the addition "and from the Son," into the Symbol of Faith, but even commanded that the intact Symbol be engraved on tablets and set up in the Church. Within two hundred years, Pope Benedict VIII inserted this addition into the Symbol of Faith. Which of them was infallible? Out of the numerous instances of the errors in dogma of the Roman bishops, it is sufficient to mention Pope Honorius (625-38), who fell into the Monothelite heresy and was excommunicated from the Church by the Sixth Ecumenical Council. At this Council, the delegates of the Roman bishop, Agatho, also were present and signed its decisions [Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy; emphasis added].

It may come as a surprise to some Catholics that before Rome's definition of papal infallibility as dogma in 1870, the most illustrious and best-educated bishops of the Latin Church, and many of its most respected historians, roundly denounced the teaching as untenable. When Pius IX sought the mantle of papal infallibility at the First Vatican Council, one of the Catholic bishops, Bishop Strossmayer, rose and addressed the council with these words:

I do not find one single chapter, or one little verse [of Scripture], in which Jesus Christ gives to St. Peter the mastery over the Apostles, his fellow-workers.... The Apostle Peter makes no mention of the primacy of Peter in any of his letters directed to the various Churches.... What has surprised me the most, and what moreover is capable of demonstration, is the silence of St. Peter himself!

Amidst jeers, Bishop Strossmayer continued:

The Councils of the first four centuries, while they recognized the high position which the bishop of Rome occupied in the Church on account of Rome, only accorded to him a preeminence of honor, never of power and jurisdiction. In the passage thou art Peter, and on this rock I will build My Church, the Holy Fathers never understood that the Church was built on Peter (super Petrum), but on the rock (super petram) of the Apostle's confession of faith (in the Divinity of Christ) [Quoted in Archpriest Alexey Young, Christianity or the Papacy?, pp. 8-9; emphasis added].

Bishop Strossmayer's words here are identical to the pre-schism teaching of the Church of Christ, both East and West. While the Roman Catholic Church eventually departed from that ancient understanding, Eastern Orthodoxy did not.

Regarding the loss of grace of the Holy Spirit from the Latin Church after its apostasy and schism, the following papal pronouncements — all diabolical in nature — clearly demonstrate what kind of spirit possessed the post-schism popes who uttered them:

The entire world knows how profitable this fable of Christ has been to us and ours. —Pope Leo X (1513-1521).

We hold upon this earth the place of God Almighty. — Pope Leo XIII, from his 1894 encyclical.

The pope is not only representative of Jesus Christ, but he is Jesus Christ Himself, hidden under the veil of flesh. Does the pope speak? It is Jesus Christ Himself who speaks. — Pope Pius X.

You know that I am the Holy Father, the representative of God on earth, the Vicar of Christ, which means that I am God on earth — Pope Pius XI.

Adding to these deranged blasphemies, two Roman Catholic theologians have declared that:

The pope can do all things God can do. — Nicholas de Tudeschis, in Commentaria (lvi, 34).

To make war against the pope is to make war against God, seeing that the pope is God and God is the pope. — Moreri.

Until the ritual was terminated by Pope John Paul I, when the triple crown was placed on the head of a new pope at his coronation, the officiating cardinal proclaimed:

Receive the tiara adorned with three crowns, and know that thou art the Father of Princes and Kings, Ruler of the World: the Vicar of our Saviour Jesus Christ... (Even though the ritual was changed, these words still remain).

The popes' love of power exceeded every limit, something shown in the proclamations of power claimed for themselves by these one-man "infallible" dictators over the Church and would-be tyrants of the world. Pope Boniface VIII (1294-1303), for example, proudly insisted, "I am Caesar, I am emperor." Prior to Vatican I devotion, the Roman Breviary ascribed various titles to the popes, and these included: King of Kings and Supreme Ruler of the World. Other appellations include Vice-God of Humanity, Exalted King of the Universe, and Imperator Totius Mundi (Emperor of the Entire World). (Although this last title is no longer used, the pope remains a king, with a prime minister, ministers and ambassadors [nuncios]. Likewise, the papacy remains a worldwide center of power, which it employs only in the service of its own interests, like any other political or temporal power).

If more examples of this mindlessness are needed, the Vatican newspaper La Civiltá Cattolica (a Jesuit intellectual journal, every issue of which has to be cleared by the Vatican Secretary of State before publication) recorded that the pope is the "mind of God" and stated that "when the pope meditates, it is God Who thinks in him." Likewise, the celebrated New York Catechism clearly states that:

The pope takes the place of Jesus Christ on earth... the Arbiter of the World, the Supreme Judge of Heaven and Earth, the Judge of All, being judged by no one, God Himself on Earth [Exact words].

The Eastern Orthodox Church does not afford the Roman Catholic popes any primacy, for Orthodoxy has never numbered heretical bishops with Orthodox bishops. Orthodoxy does not even regard the pope as the bishop of Rome inasmuch as Rome no longer had true bishops as of 1054, when Apostolic Succession was severed in the West.

6. Where and in what year was the Third Ecumenical Council held?

The Third Ecumenical Council was held at Ephesus in 431.

7. What doctrinal issues necessitated the Third Council?

Christological issues — that is, disputes concerning the nature of Christ, brought about the Third Council. The Council was convened against one of the principal heresies in the Church, Nestorianism. This false teaching denied that there are two distinct natures, divine and human, united in the Person of Christ (hypostatic union). This teaching was condemned at the Council.

8. Who was the formulator of the heresy which necessitated the Third Council?

Nestorius (d. c. 451), who had been archbishop of Constantinople, formulated the heresy of Nestorianism. However, he had two predecessors in this false teaching — Diodorus and Theodore of Mopsuestia, whose follower he was.

9. The Christological emphasis of the various theological centers differed, but the difference was only a particular emphasis. Nestorius was educated at one center, but his theological directions were corrupted by his acceptance of certain concepts put forth by false teachers. He then fell into heresy by failing to follow the principle basic in the Holy Church, viz., he did not verify his teaching with the entire Orthodox Church, but rather proceeded on self-will. In what theological center did Nestorius receive his education?

Nestorius was educated in the Antiochene theological center.

10. While none of the theological centers of the time taught wrongly, which one of them was in the best position to present the correct, Orthodox teaching concerning the nature of Christ?

During the great doctrinal disputes of the first eight centuries of the Church's history, the see of Rome, that once-great bastion of Orthodoxy in the West, was generally noted for the soundness of its teaching and its firmness of faith. Although there were occasions when the Roman popes fell into heresy, the Patriarchate of Rome usually stood as a bulwark of the Christian faith in its struggle against heresy. For this reason, Rome was an honored center of Christian Tradition at that time.

Protopriest Victor Potapov notes that regarding the peculiarities of the spirit of the Roman people, which defined the character of the direction of the ecclesiastical life in the West after the acceptance of Christianity, one may speak of these as tendencies, as moods, as a psychological cast. Fr. Victor continues, stating that in the first eight centuries of the existence of the Universal Church, the psychological cast between the Churches of the East and West were as a whole beneficial rather than harmful to the Church, for they promoted the fullness of the elucidation and incarnation in life of the principles of Christianity, leaving the Church as one. It was required only that they abide in mutual ecclesiastical communion between themselves and that they not depart from the one Universal Church. However, the Western Church broke this communion, and in this rift is contained the cause of its entry onto the path of heresy and its severance from Christ's Church in 1054.

11. In what way did Nestorius precipitate the controversy which led to the Third Ecumenical Council?

Nestorius declined to call the Virgin Mary Theotokos (Greek for Birthgiver of God or God-Bearer). To him, this popular title seemed to imply a confusion of the manhood and Godhood of Christ. He argued that Mary can only be called the Mother of Man (Anthropotokos), or at most the Mother of Christ (Christotokos), since she is the mother of Christ's humanity but not His Divinity. History shows that for this blasphemy, worms devoured the tongue of this God-fighting heresiarch while he was still alive.

Modern fellow-travelers with Nestorius include some Protestants, who deny that God could have a mother, and who can only bring themselves to acknowledge that Mary was the mother of Christ's human nature. Michael Whelton points out that Protestant reaction to the title of Theotokos runs from a self-conscious uneasy acceptance to outright denial. He adds that the respective responses clearly demonstrate a graded scale within the Protestant community, from superficial to outright Nestorianism. However, the denial of the title Theotokos centers not on Mary, he explains, but on Christ Himself and the Incarnation. He further explains that when most of these people think it through, they readily understand that Christ's human and divine nature cannot be separated.

12. The name of Theotokos is given to the Virgin Mary in order to safeguard the understanding of what?

This ancient title by which the Church addresses Mary protects and safeguards the doctrine of the Incarnation — that is, the understanding that Mary bore not a man loosely united to God, but a single and undivided Person Who is at the same time fully God and fully man.

13. In what way does the denial of the title Theotokos to the Virgin destroy the Gospel of salvation?

Denying the Mother of God the title Theotokos is tantamount to denying that she bore the Word of God made flesh, a single and undivided Christ Who is at once both fully God and fully man. It is to suggest that Mary bore nothing more than a demigod at best. The textbook goes on to note that this denial divides the Incarnate Christ into two, breaking down the bridge between God and man and erecting within Christ's Person a middle wall of partition. Consequently, not only titles of devotion were involved at Ephesus, but the very message of salvation.

Of further note, relating to questions 6-13, the Third Ecumenical Council condemned Nestorianism and the notion that there were two persons existing side by side in Christ — God and a man. It affirmed that Christ's humanity and Divinity were united in One Person (hy-postatic union), and that the Mother of Jesus would therefore have to be the Mother of God, the Theotokos.

14. At the false council of 449, two persons from the theological center of Alexandria fell into the same condition of self-will as Nestorius had. These two, Dioscorus and Eutyches, created what heresy?

They created the heresy of Monophysitism.

15. This heresy taught falsely concerning what aspect of Christ's nature?

The word Monophysitism is etymologically derived from the Greek words mono (one) and physis (nature). Although Orthodoxy has more in common with the Monophysites than with any other group of separated Christians, still there are great dogmatic differences and an ecclesiastical chasm inasmuch as the Monophysites reject fully half of the Ecumenical Councils. Monophysitism maintained that if Christ were one Person, He could not have two natures, but only one. The Monophysites did not deny Christ's divine nature, but they did deny His unity of personality. This way of thinking endangered the fullness of Christ's manhood, which became completely swallowed up in His Divinity. In overemphasizing Christ's Divinity at the expense of His human nature, this heresy did away with the possibility of salvation. As one of the Greek Fathers on Mount Athos writes concerning this false teaching: "If... the eternal Hypostasis of God the Word is not also the Hypostasis of the assumed flesh, the deification of the compound makeup of man is not possible, in which case the salvation of man through partaking of the Deified and Life-giving Flesh of the Lord is also impossible." [Hieromonk Luke of the Holy Monastery of St. Gregory, Mount Athos, 1994].

The Fourth Ecumenical Council, that of Chalcedon, was called in 451 over Monophysitism, and this heresy was rejected at that Council. As Protopresbyter Michael Pomazansky explains, the Fourth Council "precisely formulated the manner of the union of the two natures in the one Person of the Lord Jesus Christ, acknowledging the very essence of this union to be mystical and inexplicable." [Orthodox Dogmatic Theology, p. 182].

16. The textbook places what seems an odd emphasis on what it views as a quarrel between two theological schools — the Alexandrian and the Antiochene. In fact, what occurred was that a balance between the two centers of Orthodox theology was achieved by placing certain questions before the whole Church catholic. The actual conflict existed between extremists of these two centers, and it appears incorrect to label them as two different schools. Give your own impression of the difference of emphasis of the Alexandrian center and the Antiochene center.

As is well known, the conflict between Rome and Constantinople over the matter of Roman primacy resulted in two opposing ecclesiologies. However, as Bishop Auxentios of Photiki observes, the distinction between a quasi-Nestorian Antiochene school and an Orthodox Alexandrian school supposedly tainted by Apollinarianism is an artificial and overstated one [Cf. Christological Methods and Their Influence on Alexandrian and Antiochene Eucharistic Theology, p. 1].

In the same scholarly study, Bishop Auxentios goes on to explain that concerning the Christological thought and Eucharistic thought of the Alexandrian and Antiochene patristic schools (and he does identify them as schools, as does Protopresbyter Michael Pomazansky), this matter is neither artificial or overstated, but is of great importance. Two representative figures are given of these schools — St. Cyril, Patriarch of Alexandria, and the ecclesiastical writer Theodore of Mopsuestia, who had Nestorian leanings. As Henry Chadwick observes, the argument between St. Cyril and the Nestorians was not a political one, as some scholars have contended, but was an argument rooted in the profound question on the nature of Christ ["Eucharist and Christology in the Nestorian Controversy," Journal of Theological Studies, vol. 2, 1951, pp. 145-64.] Bishop Auxentios concurs, stating that the antithetical strands of these two figures and their radically divergent statements of Eucharist theology are two antipodes on a spectrum of belief about the nature of Christ.

Theodore of Mopsuestia was condemned by the Universal Church for his Nestorian leanings. However, as Bishop Auxentios notes, one cannot overstate the importance of St. Cyril's Christological teachings. The Third, Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Ecumenical Councils drew extensively from his writings in formulating their Christological confessions.

17. Originally the pope of Rome was the first among equals of the bishops of the Church. When Rome withdrew from the Church, it was impossible, of course, that the pope could fulfill this position. According to the canons of the Church, in the event of the presiding bishop's falling into heresy or being unable to govern, the remaining Orthodox bishops must assign the presidency to the senior bishop who is Orthodox. What would have to occur for the pope of Rome to once again be the first among equals?

Rome would have to abandon all its heretical dogmas and other illicit innovations and convert to Orthodoxy. Such would entail its rejecting its lust for power and its aspiration to subordinate other bishops under its authority — that is, the idea of papal supremacy. It would likewise entail its rejecting the doctrine of papal infallibility, something invented in 1870 and still taught by the Roman Catholic Church today, despite the fact that — to the Latin Church's own admission — many Roman popes were heretics, and despite the fact that the second chapter of the book of Galatians shows that the Apostle Peter himself was not infallible.

[Professor's addendum: Both papal supremacy and papal infallibility are the result of earlier heresies and are a root of further heresies. There are Roman heresies worse than these].

While the loss of the Church of Rome and so many of its faithful has always weighed heavily upon Orthodoxy and has left an unhealed wound, and while Orthodoxy would always welcome Rome's return, such a return is not likely. Rome has been estranged from Christ's Church for one thousand years. Given the Latin Church's ideology and aggressive politics, its "lies, intrigue, deception, fanaticism and villainy" (as Dostoyevsky put it), and most of all its boundless malice and bloody atrocities against Orthodox Christians throughout the centuries, one cannot even begin to imagine that Rome will ever return. While many individual Catholics convert to Orthodoxy and find a home in it, Rome shows an interest only in destroying Orthodoxy and preparing the way for the throne of the antichrist.

In his book The Keys of This Blood: the Struggle for World Dominion Between Pope John Paul II, Mikhail Gorbachev and the Capitalist West (1990), the Roman Catholic writer Malachi Martin shows the papacy's role in this struggle. While Pope John Paul II was convalescing after the near-fatal attempt on his life in St. Peter's Square, he had what he falsely believes was a vision of the Mother of God. In the vision, the pope states, he was told not to lift a finger to clean out the Latin Church, that it is already too late. Instead, he is to await a cataclysmic event ...

an event that will fission human history, splitting the immediate past from the oncoming future. It will be an event on public view from the skies, in the oceans, and on the continental landmasses of this planet. It will particularly involve [the] sun.

It is not known if the cataclysm will be another world war or natural events, or a combination of both, or if it will entail something supernatural. The pope indicates that the disaster cannot be averted, that the die is cast — but, he believes, it will be a good thing, for it will bring down all the governments and economic systems of the world, including capitalism, which he has always equated with materialism. Out of such chaos, the pope says, the papacy will rise triumphantly to lead the world into a "new world order" of peace above and beyond ideologies, political and economic. Martin writes that the pope believes that "this geopolitical mission he has chosen to fulfill as pope will be crowned with a success that has never registered in the life of any preceding pope." Thus, as John the Baptist was the herald of Christ at the Jordan, so the pope will be the satanic herald of the antichrist in the new world order.

To those readers who wonder how the anti-Christian media can at once belittle Christianity yet exalt the pope, the answer is obvious. The media accords the pope the worldly glory and advertisement he seeks because he is an obedient instrument of the globalists. That is, they know that in the time of the united world government, they can count on the pope to make urgent appeals for all humanity to bow down and accept the one-world ruler, the antichrist.

In 1990, Pope Wojtyla issued a statement that the "messiah" is presently walking on the face of the earth and that all humanity should be prepared to accept him when he is finally revealed. (It is not clear if this statement was issued in an encyclical as it was mentioned only briefly in a newspaper article).

To these evil words spewing forth from the mouth of the pope, Christ replies: "And then if any man shall say to you, Lo, here is the Christ; or, lo, he is there; believe him not; for false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall show signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect" (Mk 13:21-22).

Moreover, the Russian monks of the Solovki Monastery handed down the answer that St. Zosimas gave when his disciples asked him how to recognize the antichrist in the end times. St. Zosimas replied: "When you hear that Christ has come to earth or has appeared on earth, know then that this is antichrist."

If anyone claiming false visions appears in the desert, Christians are not to go out, nor are they to look down to the earth for Christ any more, even though the pope is telling them to do so. The true Messiah, Christ, Whom the pope rejects, came in the flesh two thousand years ago. The Saviour will not again come from this world, but He is to descend from Heaven. Also, He will not come alone as before, but escorted by myriads of angels; and not secretly, but openly, shining like lightning (Mt 24:27). Therefore, let all readers beware of the herald of the antichrist, the pope of Rome.

18. What was the Monothelite heresy?

The Monothelite heresy was a new form of Monophysitism. While it correctly maintained that Christ has two natures, it erroneously reasoned that since He is a single Person, He has but one will. This heresy, like Monophysitism, impaired the fullness of Christ's manhood since manhood without a human will would be incomplete. Monothelitism was condemned by the Sixth Ecumenical Council, which replied that since Christ has two natures, He must also have two wills — one human and one divine.

19. What new and alarming development occurred in the fifty years preceding the Sixth Ecumenical Council?

The rise of Islam came about at that time. After conquering Mecca, Mohammed's followers subjugated Egypt, Syria, Palestine and even Jerusalem by force of arms. The new Islamic rulers shed absolute rivers of Christian blood, and before long, Orthodoxy became almost completely extinct in Anatolia.

20. What effect did this development have on the Byzantine Empire?

The Eastern possessions were lost to the Byzantine Empire, and the three ancient Patriarchates of Jerusalem, Antioch and Alexandria came under infidel control. Byzantium was under constant attack from Mohammedan forces, and although it withstood this onslaught for eight centuries more, it finally succumbed in 1453. Christianity survived, but with difficulty.

21. What do you feel was the most important point brought forth in this section of the textbook?

This section covered the Second to the Sixth Ecumenical Councils. The most significant point concerns the immense importance of these Councils. As the textbook notes, the Ecumenical Councils resolved the Christological and Trinitarian disputes, they identified and uprooted the basic heresies, they formed the dogmatic and canonical norms of the Orthodox faith, and lastly, they worked out the Church's governmental structure. Concerning the Seventh Ecumenical Council that defended icons, while it seems at first to stand apart from the preceding six, ultimately it too was concerned with Christ's Incarnation and man's salvation.


4. The Holy Icons.

1. The struggle against Iconoclasm was not merely a conflict between two conceptions of Christian art. What three deeper issues does the textbook point out?

The struggle against Iconoclasm involved the deeper issues of Christ's human nature, the Christian attitude toward matter, and the true meaning of Christ's redemption.

2. Those who taught against holy icons may have been influenced by what outside ideas?

The Iconoclasts were influenced especially by Nestorianism and by the ideas of the Judaizers.

3. What the textbook refers to as a puritan outlook was probably a blend of what two influences?

The puritan outlook that condemned icons was an Asiatic protest against Greek tradition. The text mentions that this attitude was particularly strong in Asia Minor and that two of the leading Iconoclast emperors, Leo III and Leo V, were of Asiatic origin. Over and above this fact, though, the puritan view saw in the words of the Second Commandment a prohibition against all images and could not see that the commandment applies to the making, bowing down before and worshipping idols, something repugnant to God. This outlook therefore saw all images as a form of latent idolatry.

4. How long did the Iconoclast controversy last?

Iconoclasm was one of the most powerful and prolonged heretical movements, lasting for some 120 years. The seriousness of this heresy was increased by the fact that a whole series of Byzantine emperors energetically championed it for reasons of internal and external politics. Although the instruments of political power were held by the Iconoclasts, who destroyed icons and exiled, imprisoned and sometimes even killed the Iconodules, ultimately their viewpoint was not victorious over Orthodoxy.

5. Which Byzantine ruler in 180 suspended the persecution against the Church?

The Empress Irene suspended the persecution.

6. In what year and in what city did the Seventh Ecumenical Council meet?

The Seventh Ecumenical Council met in Nicaea in 787. This Council dealt largely with Iconoclasm, a heresy which closed out the series of great heresies of the first period of Church history. Iconoclasm was condemned at this Council.

7. Under what emperor and between what years did the last persecution of icons take place?

The Byzantine Emperor Leo V started a new attack on icons in 815.

8. The final victory of holy icons in 842 is known as what?

The victory over the Iconoclast heresy in 842 is known as the Triumph of Orthodoxy. At that time, the Empress Theodora and her son Michael ordained that the feast of the Triumph of Orthodoxy should be established. This feast is observed each year up to the present time on the first Sunday of Great Lent.

9. Who were the chief defenders of holy icons?

St. John of Damascus (+749) defended icons during the first phase of the Iconoclast controversy. St. Theodore of Studium (+826) defended them when the second phase of persecution broke out under Leo V.

10. Rewrite in your own words the paragraph titled Icons as Part of the Church's Teaching.

The Church asserts its teaching both by word and image. What Scripture is for the literate, the icon is for those who lack learning or lack the time to study written theology. St. John of Damascus advised Christians to take any outsider inquiring about the faith into a church and place him in front of the icons, for they are a "revelation and demonstration of that which is hidden." That is, icons bear witness to the deification of man and are visible expressions of the dogma of the transfiguration, and they impart to the world the mysteries of Christianity and the age to come. Because of the mysterious quality icons have of teaching by image what Scripture teaches by word, they lead a person towards God. Icons are theology communicated in images.

11. What was the real heart of the Iconoclast dispute?

The real heart of Iconoclasm was the theology of the Incarnation. Unlike the former heresies that attacked some particular aspect of the divine economy and the salvation coming from Christ's Incarnation, Iconoclasm attacked the entire economy of salvation. It was both a consequence of former Christological controversies and an identical repetition of errors of the past. "Iconoclasm is the sum of many heresies and errors," stated the Fathers of the Seventh Ecumenical Council.

12. Why is it essential to have icons?

Icons are a visual form of theology that accomplish a silent preaching, and through the centuries they have taught Christians how to know and love the Lord and His holy ones, the saints. St. Basil the Great says in his Liturgy that Christ is the icon of God the Father. When Christ appeared on earth, those who then loved God the Father loved God the Son. Since that time, those who love icons thereby reaffirm their love for God in visible form, the God-Man Jesus Christ.

Having and honoring icons is deeply rooted in the Sacred Apostolic Tradition of Christianity. Dr. Constantine Cavarnos notes this fact in his book Orthodox Iconography, and he goes on to list seven important reasons why it is necessary to adhere to this ancient practice. The professor states that:

(1) The most obvious function of icons is that they enhance the beauty of a church, an idea that appears in the writings of the Holy Fathers. A church is the house of God and a house of prayer. As such, it should be made as beautiful as possible, especially inside, where Christians gather to worship. The beauty of the church must bear the impress of holiness, and the pleasure evoked by it must transcend that of mere esthetics. It must be spiritual.

(2) Icons instruct the faithful in matters pertaining to the Christian faith, a point emphasized by the Greek Fathers. As St. John of Damascus remarks, since not everyone is literate, nor has the leisure for reading, the Holy Fathers agreed that Christ's Incarnation, His association with men, His miracles, His Crucifixion and Resurrection, and so on, should be represented on icons. St. Photios, Patriarch of Constantinople, states that: "Just as speech is transmitted by hearing, so a form through sight is imprinted on the tablets of the soul, giving to those whose apprehension is not spoiled by [evil] doctrines a representation of knowledge constant with piety." Likewise, St. Basil teaches that "what the spoken account presents through the sense of hearing, the painting silently shows by representation." St. Photios goes on to add that icons not only teach, as written accounts also do, but in some cases are more vivid than written accounts and thus are superior to the latter as a means of instruction. As an example, he gives the representation of the deeds of the martyrs. Icons present simultaneously and concisely many things: a place, persons and objects, things that would take an appreciable amount of time to describe in words.

Also commenting on the icon's capacity to teach, Leonid Ouspensky and Vladimir Lossky explain that:

The icon contains and professes the same truth as the Gospels and therefore, like the Gospels, is based on exact concrete data, and in no way on invention, for otherwise it could not explain the Gospels nor correspond to them. Thus the icon is placed on a level with the Holy Scriptures and with the Cross, as one of the forms of revelation and knowledge of God, in which divine and human will and action become blended [The Meaning of Icons, p.30].

The Fathers of the Seventh Ecumenical Council fully concurred. They stated that "by means of these two ways which complete one another, that is, by reading [Scripture] and by the visible image, we gain a knowledge of the same thing." Thus, the icon is one of the ways God is revealed to man. Through icons, Christians receive a vision of the spiritual world, for icons are windows into that world, windows into Heaven, and they are lights which guide us there.

(3) Being preoccupied with everyday worldly matters and pursuits, Christians can forget things that are of vital importance — that is, they can fall asleep spiritually. Icons serve as a reminder of the spiritual realm and as a means of awakening people. St. John of Damascus writes in this regard that "many times, doubtless, when we do not have in mind the Passion of the Lord, upon seeing the icon of Christ's Crucifixion, we recall His saving suffering."

(4) Icons additionally serve to lift Christians up to the prototypes, to a higher level of consciousness, of thought and feeling. As Dr. Cavarnos explains:

The prophets, Apostles, martyrs, saints in general, enjoy a higher level of being than we do in our ordinary, distracted everyday life. When we see their icons, we recall their superior character and deeds; and as we recall them, we think pure, sublime thoughts and experience higher feelings. Thus, for a while we live on a higher plane of being. As St. John Damascene remarks, "We are led by perceptible icons to the contemplation of the divine and spiritual" [p. 32].

Metropolitan Laurus of Jordanville further notes that:

Orthodox iconography is not realistic, but symbolic. It cannot and should not illustrate anything that is of this world, which lies in evil, disfigured by sin, carrying in itself the stamp of sin and attracting to sin. Iconography should not remind one of anything worldly. On the contrary, it should attract one's thoughts and feelings away from all worldliness and carry us over into another, higher world, the spiritual world. Not only should Raphael's madonnas not be found in Orthodox churches, but also all art that cannot cut us off from everything earthly, art which, even though it might seem to be inspired and beautiful from the point of view of aesthetics, nevertheless portrays only worldly images encountered upon earth and bound up with the world. Iconography, as well as church chant, should completely separate us from the world. Without this it is not Orthodox and cannot instruct us in Orthodoxy ["The Significance of the Practical Study of Liturgics," Orthodox Life, vol. 45, no. 4, 1995, pp. 46-47].

Dr. Cavarnos goes on to state that the icon's essentially symbolic nature is manifest in its ability to lift Christians up to a higher level. An icon is not an end in itself, it is not merely an aesthetic object to be enjoyed for whatever artistic merits it possesses, but it is essentially a symbol, carrying us beyond itself. It is designed to lead us from the physical and psychophysical to the spiritual realm. Thus, the icon is a pattern (typos) of something heavenly (St. John of Damascus).

(5) Icons serve to inspire people to imitate the virtues of the holy ones depicted on them. Icons help in this way because of their capacity to instruct in the Christian faith, to remind people of its truth, aims and values, and also because of their ability to lift viewers to the prototypes. Thus, one of the decrees of the Seventh Ecumenical Council states that "the more continually holy personages are seen in icons, the more are the beholders lifted up to the memory of the prototypes and to an aspiration after them."

(6) Icons have the ability to transform one's character, one's whole being. Icons help sanctify people. As Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos points out, the Synodikon of Orthodoxy proclaims that by bowing before holy icons and looking at them, the eyes are sanctified and the nous (a term the Holy Fathers used to designate the eye of the soul) is lifted up towards the knowledge of God. Dr. Cavarnos adds that icons help solve the problem of human transformation and regeneration "by instructing us, reminding us, and stirring us up morally and spiritually." This function of the icon is based on the principle that we become like that which we habitually contemplate. True icons focus the distracted, dispersed soul of man on spiritual perfection, on the divine, and they arouse in him the desire to emulate those who have achieved spiritual beauty. Icons incite the beholder "to see more clearly and steadily Him Who to see is to love, and loving Whom one becomes what He originally intended us to be." By dwelling steadily and lovingly on such perfection, the professor concludes, we come to partake of it more and more.

(7) Icons have a liturgical function, serving as a means of worship and veneration. Like sacred music, the icon is used as a means of worshiping God and venerating His saints. As such, Dr. Cavarnos explains, it is "essentially symbolic, leading the soul from the visible to the invisible, from the material to the spiritual, from the symbol to the prototype or original which it represents." The professor sums up the liturgical function of icons in his notation that:

Neither God nor the saints, of course, need the honor which we offer them, be it by means of icons, or by means of hymns and music. But it is only proper for us to do so, as the adoration of God and the admiration of saints are expressions of a soul that sees and loves the beauty of holiness, of spiritual perfection, and feels grateful to the Deity and to holy men for their many benefactions to mankind. Such a response is not merely something proper for us, but it is also conducive to our salvation. The following remark of John Damascene calls to attention this point, and at the same time it has a bearing on several of the functions served by icons: "I enter the common place-of-therapy of souls, the church, choked as it were by the thorns of worldly thoughts. The bloom of painting attracts me, it delights my sight like a meadow, and secretly evokes in my soul the desire to glorify God. I behold the martyr, the crowns awarded, and my zeal is aroused like fire; I fall down and worship God through the martyr, and receive salvation" [p. 34].

Iconoclasm, the condemnation of icons, results when the important function of icons is not understood, and when the crucial distinction between honorable reverence and worship is overlooked. The failure to differentiate between these two categories was the cause of the Byzantine Emperor Leo the Isaurian's issuing an edict in 726 that condemned the making and veneration of icons as contrary to the Second Commandment, and as idolatry.

Following the upheaval against iconography on the part of the Iconoclasts, the Seventh Ecumenical Council expressed the dogma of the veneration of holy icons in the following words:

We therefore... define with all certitude and accuracy that just as the figure of the precious and life-giving Cross, so also the venerable and holy images... should be set forth in the holy churches of God [for veneration].... For by so much more frequently as they are seen in artistic representation [that is, the Lord Jesus Christ, the Theotokos, the angels and saints who are depicted in the icons], by so much more readily are men lifted up to the memory of their prototypes, and to a longing after them. And to these should be given due salutation and honorable reverence [Greek: timetike, proskynesis], not indeed that true worship of faith [Greek: latreia] which pertains alone to the divine nature; but to these... incense and lights may be offered.... For the honor which is paid to the image passes on to that which the image represents [Eerdmans Seven Ecumenical Councils, p. 550].

The Greek Fathers distinguish very sharply between "honorable reverence" which is accorded to icons, and "worship." The veneration of icons is reverential respect or admiration, whereas worship is accorded only to God. Moreover, the Fathers emphasized that the veneration given to icons goes to the prototype that it represents — that is, to Christ, the Theotokos, to some martyr or other saint. In the words of St. Basil, which were repeated by St. John of Damascus and other defenders of icons, "The honor which is given to the icons passes over to the prototype." That is, in venerating icons, the honor one renders to the images passes to the person represented on the image. Therefore, the charge of idolatry shows gross ignorance with regard to the nature and function of icons.

As the same charge of idolatry is sometimes repeated today, it is necessary to emphasize that Orthodox do not approach icons as idols, but as the spiritual image of the one to whom the soul addresses itself in prayer. It is also necessary to point out that the strict prohibition in Scripture against the making of idols and the worship of them does not apply to Christian icons. Protopresbyter Michael Pomazansky explains that the images of false gods, and people's worship of them, entailed the worship of demons (or else imaginary beings that have no existence), and thus it entailed the worship of lifeless objects themselves (wood, stone or gold). Scripture strictly instructs that one is to put a difference between holy and unholy, between unclean and clean (cf. Lev 10:10). The person who cannot see the difference between sacred images and idols blasphemes and defiles icons. Such a person commits sacrilege and is subject to the condemnation in Sacred Scripture, which warns: "Thou that abhorrest idols, dost thou commit sacrilege?" (Rom 2:22).

St. Nikolai Velimirovich also addresses the charges of idolatry made against Orthodoxy over its veneration of icons. The bishop asks:

Who has waged war against idolatry through the ages, if not the Orthodox Church, millions of whose faithful have sacrificed themselves in this victorious battle? Who else has destroyed idolatry? So how could the Church that has destroyed idolatry be idolatrous? [Homilies: a Commentary on the Gospel Readings for Great Feasts and Sundays Throughout the Year, vol. 1, p. 137].

A hieromonk notes that Calvinists disdain icons, based on their rejection of the Seventh Ecumenical Council. However, as he goes on to point out, as the fundamental concern of all the Ecumenical Councils was Christological and soteriological, the obdurate refusal to recognize even one of them signifies in and of itself a major departure from basic Christian doctrine. Also, as another hieromonk explains (a former Episcopalian), after Protestants threw icons out of their churches through the doors, they brought them back in through the windows. That is, icons were reintroduced into Protestant churches through stained glass windows. And, the hieromonk adds, Protestants do not regard these icons as graven images.

No doubt the most rabid attack against icons comes from the Jehovah's Witnesses, even though these people have pictures — icons — of their loved ones in their wallets and homes. Once when a Greek bishop was reviled by one of the witnesses over the matter of icons, the bishop asked the witness to show him some pictures of his family members. When the witness produced pictures from his wallet, the bishop reminded him that the Jehovah's Witnesses are against icons, meaning that he should tear up all these pictures, as well as all his pictures at home. When the witness replied that he does not worship these pictures, the bishop stated that likewise, neither do the Orthodox worship images. The Orthodox, he explained, honor and kiss icons, which is passed along to the archetype, as the Fathers and teachers of the Church have stated. The bishop continued, saying that when the witness' mind and heart go out to his loved ones in the pictures, he does not call this idolatry. Neither therefore can the Orthodox be accused of idolatry because they venerate icons. The icon itself is not an object of worship.

There are many idols in the modern age, among which are luxury, wealth, recognition, and many other things to which people attach more importance than God. Some who spend their entire lives in the pursuit of these and other idols of the world, and in serving mammon rather than God, would accuse Orthodoxy of idolatry because of its veneration of icons. However, the obvious fact remains that icons are not idols.

The attack on icons now seems to be abating. For some time, there has been a return in the West to the icon, which was forgotten for the space of so many centuries.

** ** **

The use of images has its beginnings in Old Testament times. During the forty years of wandering in the desert, the Hebrews made camp on Mount Sinai for a whole year, and there, at God's command, they constructed a tabernacle, a transportable sanctuary, in the form of a tent. Inside the tabernacle's holy of holies was the Ark of the Covenant, which was a wooden chest covered inside and out with gold, and upon which were two golden images of the Cherubim (Exodus 25:18-22). St. John of Damascus traces the origin of iconography back to this time, to the Mosaic people, who "venerated on all hands the tabernacle, which was an image [eikon in Greek] and pattern of heavenly things, or rather of the whole of creation" [Migne, PG, 1864, vol. 94, cols. 1168-76]. (The word icon is a transliteration of the Greek eikon. In Greek it means image, likeness, representation).

It is important to note here that the same Moses, through whom God gave the commandment against graven images, received at the same time an order from God to place representations of the Cherubim in the inner part of the temple to which people turned for the worship of God. Therefore, the fact that God Himself gave instructions to include images — icons — in the place of worship completely nullifies the mistaken notion that all images are prohibited by the Second Commandment.

While there are numerous depictions on the walls and curtains of the Old Testament Temple, there were no depictions of the departed righteous ones like those seen in the Christian Church. The reason for their absence is because the righteous ones of Old Testament times were awaiting their deliverance, were waiting to be brought up out of hades. This deliverance was accomplished by the descent into hades and Resurrection of Christ. As the Apostle Paul writes: "They without us should not be made perfect" (Heb 11:40). The righteous ones of the Old Testament were glorified as saints only in the New Testament.

Christ, the Incarnate God, sanctified the use of icons through a miraculous image He sent to Abgar, the ruler of the neighboring kingdom of Edessa. Abgar, who had leprosy, had heard of Christ's preaching and miracles during His public ministry and had heard that He was not welcome by many in Judea. He therefore sent his court artist, Ananias, to invite Jesus to come to his kingdom. If He did not come, then Ananias was to paint His portrait so that at least the king could see an image of His face, for he felt that if he could just see what this remarkable Individual looked like, somehow he would be healed.

Ananias, upon seeing the Lord-Healer, tried several times to capture His image. However, he was unable to set His face down on the linen, for Jesus' face gave out rays of some unearthly light, it is said. At that time, Jesus, knowing all things, and knowing the sincere desire of the king, pressed a cloth to His face and imprinted the character of His divine image upon it. He then gave the image to Ananias with the message that one of His disciples would visit King Abgar to heal that which the image did not heal.

When the king beheld this sacred image, the first Christian icon, he was cured of his leprosy, save for one small spot on his face. Later, after Christ's death and Resurrection, the holy disciple Thaddeus of the seventy went to Edessa and preached the Gospel of Life to the king and those with him. Having received enlightenment and knowledge of the True God, all of them received Baptism, at which time the last spot of leprosy left the king.

This sacred image of Christ was carefully preserved in Edessa for many centuries, even during the persecution of the Church. It was subsequently transferred to Constantinople in 944, where it was brought out in procession and veneration once each year. Later, during the Fourth Crusade in 1204, the image disappeared and was never revealed again.

(In the Fourth Crusade, for three days Orthodox Christian blood ran in the streets of Constantinople as a massive amount of art, treasures and monuments were stolen from churches and carried off to the West as plunder. In this officially sponsored robbery, the Latin marauders placed prostitutes upon the altars of Orthodox churches as they went about a wanton spree of murder, pillage and sacrilege. To assuage their notorious greed for booty, they tore to pieces the altar and iconostasis of the Church of the Holy Wisdom in Constantinople and brought mules into the sanctuary to carry the gold and silver away. This systematic looting was undertaken by the Latin clergy, to whom it proved an irresistible chance of a lifetime to enrich Western Europe's abbeys and monasteries with Byzantium's holiest relics — reputedly Christendom's finest collection).

All icons of Christ were made from the same prototype and pattern of this holy napkin until its disappearance in the Fourth Crusade. Moreover, as it is shown with this first Christian icon, icons are Apostolic, they are healing, and they even pre-date the Gospels being written down.

The Evangelist Luke painted icons, the first of which was the Vladimir icon of the Mother of God holding the Pre-Eternal Child. There still exist today many icons painted by St. Luke.

Protopresbyter Michael Pomazansky states that it is natural to suppose that in the early history of Christianity, the first need was that the people be drawn away from pagan idol-worship, and only later could there be brought into being the idea of the fullness of forms for glorifying God and His saints. Among these forms there is a place for glorification in colors, in sacred images.

The use of icons by Christians, as was noted, goes back to the first century of Christianity. Ecclesiastical archaeology has found that in the ancient Christian Church, there were sacred images in the catacombs and other places of assembly for prayer. A rudimentary art existed among Christians of the first two centuries. It employed such forms as the dove (a symbol of the peace of Christ), the fish and the Shepherd (symbols of Christ), and the peacock (a symbol of the Resurrection). Also, as early as the first century, Christians used representations of events in Holy Scripture on their tombs, and pictorial representations of events from the life of Christ, dating most likely from the early part of the second century, have been found in catacombs of Rome and Alexandria. Until the outbreak of Iconoclasm in 726, iconographic representations increased with each succeeding century, and iconography became more refined.

Before a board has the countenance of Christ portrayed on it, it is only a piece of wood. Once the image of Christ is painted on it, however, the wood becomes sanctified and is a source of sanctification for people, even if the wood is of inferior quality. This ability to sanctify is seen in the beginning of the repentance and conversion of the Bulgarian people to Orthodox Christianity, something that happened because of an icon of the Last Judgment. When St. Methodius showed it to King Boris and explained it, the icon made such an impression on him that Boris, and along with him all the Bulgarian people, came to believe in Christ. Something this extraordinary could happen because, as St. Seraphim of Sarov explains, the grace of God works through icons. The saint goes on to state that icons heal sinners,

... and not only their bodies, but their souls, too, so that even sinners, according to their faith in the grace of Christ present in the icons, were saved and attained the Kingdom of Heaven.

St. John of Kronstadt further instructs that:

If anyone would ask you why you pray to soulless icons, what profit you derive from them, say that we derive incomparably greater profit from our icons than we do from the kindest and most benevolent living persons; say that blessed power and help to our souls always comes to us through the icons, saving us from sins, sorrows and sicknesses, especially from the icons of the Saviour and of the Mother of God; that one single look with faith upon them, as upon the living and those who are near to us, saves us from cruel sorrows, passions and spiritual darkness; that if touching the Saviour’s garment, and the garments and handkerchiefs of the Apostles could restore health to the sick, much more are the images of the Saviour and the Mother of God powerful to heal believers of every affliction, in accordance with their faith in the Lord and His Mother.

Archimandrite Panteleimon of Jordanville explains that the most powerful witness to the holiness of icons is the innumerable signs and miracles that the Lord condescends to accomplish through them, especially through those termed miraculous. Orthodox Russia abounded with these icons, and several have been brought to North America. Fr. Panteleimon notes that these icons are fountains of healing and have cured people of many afflictions — some from despondency, some from passions, some from life's sorrows, and some from bodily illnesses, and he notes that these icons have healed each and everyone alike from wounds of the soul, from sins.

To have icons and venerate them by honoring them is an Apostolic Tradition, one that Christians are bound to revere and observe. However, this tradition refers only to holy (or Byzantine) icons — that is, icons of the solemn, spiritual and hieratic style that depict deified humanity. Through their spiritual expression, these traditional icons inspire compunction and raise people up from the world of matter to the world of spirit, to the holy prototypes, and to God. Traditional icons are faithful to the highest degree to the spirit of Apostolic Tradition.

There is a great difference between Orthodox iconography and Western religious painting. Since the Italian Renaissance of the fourteenth century, the Latin Church began to abandon the sacred art of the ancient Christian period, and it began to employ naturalistic, carnal religious paintings that hold mankind captive to the world of matter and flesh. In this new Western religious art, sacred subjects served as a pretext to express the subjective feelings and ideas of a painter, and oftentimes crudely sensual and sentimental elements would creep into the features of the subjects, giving an insipid quality to the art. Commenting on the West's great deviation from Orthodox iconography, Protopriest Victor Potapov writes that:

In the Orthodox notion, an icon depicts the world glorified; in it there ought not to be anything earthly or worldly. Therefore, the techniques of depiction are altogether different from those that are used in realistic painting.

Rome has completely departed from classic Byzantine fundamentals. This was expressed particularly forcefully during the epoch of the Renaissance. The very philosophical direction of this period hymns man's egoism and powerfulness, his self-perception in the surrounding material environment. As a result, the ecclesiastical art of the West also headed along this path — along the path of free creativity, independent of the Church and its enactments. A free attitude toward Church ideas and a mixing of Church traditions with contemporary reality resulted in Western religious art allowing the distortion of the sacred image by striving toward human, earthly sensuality.

That which the ancient Church so painstakingly avoided — the influence of antique pagan painting and realism — was in full measure reborn in Western Christianity and has covered the walls of the largest Catholic churches and cathedrals. Naked bodies, contemporary dress and decor became the norm, while spiritual beauty was reduced to something worldly and everyday [Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy].

The great chasm between Byzantine iconography and Western religious art can be seen in a Western madonna, where the Mother of God is depicted as a woman no different from all other women. (At times, it is even blasphemous. An example is a painting by Fouquet in which the king's mistress is used in place of the Mother of God). On the other hand, an icon of the Theotokos imparts the fragrance of sanctity and communicates the divine motherhood. In the Mother of God of Vladimir, for example, one can feel the spirit of faith, the imprint of Orthodoxy. Likewise, where Western paintings portray the Infant Saviour as a helpless, naked baby indistinguishable from all other babies, an Orthodox icon shows Him as the fully clothed Eternal Word, and shows the teaching of the Church on the Incarnation of God and Divine Wisdom.

In eighteenth-century Russia, and then among the Greeks after the Revolution of 1821, innovative icons modeled after Roman Catholic paintings of the Renaissance were introduced. Like their Western prototypes, these icons were ostentations, worldly and devoid of spirituality. The outstanding Russian philosopher and gifted writer, Prince Evgenii Nikolaevich Trubetskoi, examines these realistic paintings of the Western models and notes that they depict Christ and the saints with "puffy faces," "red mouths," "thick arms," "fat thighs," and the like. He remarks that "icons must not be painted from living people," because "an icon is not a portrait, but a prototype of the future man-within-the-Church" [Icons: Theology in Color, pp. 20-22.]. As Dr. Cavarnos further remarks, the aspect of the figures depicted must be unworldly, ascetic, their features refined, spiritualized.

In his book Victories of Orthodoxy, Dr. Cavarnos gives some additional noteworthy observations on the difference between true icons and those influenced by Western paintings. He explains that:

Modernistic icons, being naturalistic, secular in expression, instead of lifting us up from the natural, material realm, leave us prisoners in it. They focus the attention of the beholder on the body as such, whereas a true icon, a traditional icon, focuses the attention on the soul, on its virtues and holiness, as experienced through the body, particularly the face, above all the eyes.

Modernistic icons seek to express physical beauty untransfigured by spiritual beauty, and thereby to please the contemplator by sensuous qualities, whereas the traditional icon seeks to express spiritual beauty, and thus to awaken in a person an aspiration for it [pp. 66-67].

Western icons patterned after Western religious paintings are not only unrelated to the Orthodox Christian faith, but are contrary to it, since their expression is carnal, not spiritual. The tradition to honor icons does not apply to innovative icons modeled after Roman Catholic paintings of the Italian Renaissance. In fact, it is an infringement of Apostolic Tradition to use worldly icons.

Fortunately, the deviation from iconographic tradition has largely ceased, and with the restoration of Byzantine icons, Orthodoxy has wan a great victory over a new form of Iconoclasm. Moreover, traditional iconography, with its unsurpassed beauty, has commanded such high respect that Byzantine icons are sought-after throughout the world, even by the non-Orthodox. As Michael Whelton, a convert to Orthodoxy, writes, even when he and his wife were still Roman Catholics, "iconographic art always struck us as a more mature religious art form." [Two Paths... p. 15.] Mr. Whelton's observations are echoed in Herbert Reed, a famous English aesthetician and art critic, who wrote: "Byzantine painting is the highest form of religious painting that Christianity has known" [The Meaning of Art, p. 117].

A Greek monk remarked in a lecture that Satan, realizing that the Church has saved countless souls through the centuries through icons, presents a parody of icons — that is, fallen, evil images, on TV and in the movies. As another monk noted, whereas icons, being windows into Heaven, remind one of the importance of the spiritual life, thus sanctifying and saving a person, the evil images presented on TV, being windows into hell, accustom people to terrible sins without showing the disastrous results. As he went on to state, fallen visual entertainment has come to dominate the world to an incredible degree, and brainwashing people and changing their outlook on life as it does, it gradually destroys a person.

Because the Orthodox Christian home is like a family Church (Rom. 16:5), an Orthodox chooses an eastern wall or corner of a room in which to set up an icon corner. In this area are icons of Christ, the Theotokos, and those saints to whom one regularly prays. According to a tradition dating to the time when Christians held their services in the catacombs, oil-burning lampadas are kept lit in front of the icons (never votive candles).

At the Russian monastery in Jordanville, New York, the flames burning in front of the icons throughout the churches were brought over from those burning before Christ's tomb in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem. The Russian monks at Jordanville, following the practice of the monks on Mount Athos, instruct that the flames of the lampadas should be low, or what they call passionless. That is, the flames should burn steadily and not flicker. With a low flame, one is not distracted when one prays before icons.

It is an ancient custom to take icons on journeys. Recently the remains of a Russian ship, the Slava Rossii, which went down off the southern coast of France in 1870, were discovered. Recovered from the wreckage were over eighty small metal icons used by the sailors in their daily devotions. One authority writes of this find:

Why were such metal icons so numerous aboard the Slava Rossii? Ever since the early Christian period, icons had functioned as palladia — that is, as protectors. The sailors … in carrying such icons were probably expressing their native devoutness and the natural desire to be kept safe from harm [Diane Le Berrurieur, "Icons from the Deep," Archaeology, vol. 41, no. 6, 1998, p. 27].

Like the Russian sailors, one ought to maintain this ancient custom when traveling by taking along a small diptych or triptych icon. When one stops for the night or takes a rest during one's travels, one should determine the direction of east and pray facing in that direction before the icons. Praying facing east is an ancient Christian custom mentioned by St. Basil the Great in his treatise On the Holy Spirit. This Holy Father writes that "we all look to the east in our prayers, but few of us know that we are seeking our own old country, Paradise, which God planted in the east."

In venerating icons, one should approach them with the same reverence and love that one reserves for the Holy Cross and Holy Scriptures. One venerates icons in order to communicate the reverence, respect and love that one holds for the subject of an icon. As it is not unusual for people to kiss the pictures of their beloved ones, so likewise Christians, as pilgrims in this fallen world, should reverently kiss the images of the holy persons in Heaven — the Saviour, His All-Pure Mother, and the martyrs and other saints.

13. What did the Iconoclasts fail to take into account by repudiating icons depicting God the Son?

By rejecting any representation of Christ, the Iconoclasts failed to take into account the full meaning of the Incarnation. As the textbook points out, the dispute about holy icons was inseparably bound up with the teaching about the Person of Christ, and it points out that Iconoclasm is essentially a blend of influences from Nestorianism and the ideas of the Judaizers. The prefatory notes to the course therefore conclude that it is safe to say that that all people who revile or slander holy icons, or who seek to humanize or Westernize them, have a non-Christian view of some aspects of Christ's Person and of the nature of redemption.

14. In this paragraph, the element of Nestorianism (or modern Unitarianism) in Iconoclasm is more clearly seen. Iconoclasm betrayed the Incarnation by allowing no place to what, and forgetting about what?

Iconoclasm betrayed the Incarnation in that it allowed no place for Christ's humanity or His Body. The heresy also overlooked the fact that man is to be saved and transfigured in both soul and body. St. John of Damascus addressed the issue of matter, which was so much of a problem for the Iconoclasts, in his explanation that:

Of old, God the incorporeal and uncircumscribed was not depicted at all. But now that God has appeared in the flesh and lived among men, I make an image of the God Who can be seen. I do not worship matter, but I worship the Creator of matter, Who for my sake became material and deigned to dwell in matter, Who through matter affected my salvation. I do not cease from worshiping the matter through which my salvation has been affected.

Orthodox believe that salvation is definitely connected to matter, for salvation is realized in the hypostatic union of God and human flesh.

15. Summarize the last paragraph on page 41 of the textbook in your own words.

The Iconoclasts, in their rejection of any representation of the human image of God, failed to understand the full meaning of the Incarnation and presented a danger to this fundamental doctrine of Christianity. They were essentially dualists: they wanted a religion freed from all contact with anything material, which they regarded as defiled, and they felt that anything spiritual must necessarily be non-material. As noted, such a view left no place for Christ's humanity or His Body. In their denial of the sanctification of matter in general, the Iconoclasts denied the deification of man in particular. That is, in their refusal to accept the consequences of the Incarnation, which is the sanctification of the material world, they overlooked the fact that man is to be saved and transfigured not only in soul, but in body. Iconoclasm was therefore much more than a controversy about religions art: the attack on icons was an attack on Christ's Incarnation and on the whole economy of salvation.

16. The Orthodox doctrine of icons is bound up with what Orthodox belief?

The Orthodox doctrine of icons is bound up with the belief that all of God's creation — material as well as spiritual — is to be redeemed and transfigured. God's taking a material body demonstrates that matter can be redeemed. As St. John of Damascus explained: "The Word made flesh has deified the flesh." Thus God has deified matter and made it Spirit-bearing. If flesh so became a vehicle of the Spirit, so too can wood and paint, though in a different way.

In her book The Artistic Unity of the Russian Orthodox Church: Religion, Liturgy, Icons and Architecture, Dr. Jane de Vyver gives additional insight along these lines. She explains that the material world, though fallen, is good, because God created it and became incarnate in it. Sanctified by creation and incarnation the material world is called to participate in sanctification and be restored to its original beauty.

The same author, a professor of humanities, philosophy and cultural history, also notes that whenever the physical realm is regarded as evil, base and corrupt, the arts diminish. For example, the sixteenth-century Protestant reformer John Calvin rejected most arts, especially the visual, precisely because of his negative view of the body and all things physical. This tradition continues to be strong in the United States, Dr. de Vyver observes.

17. What source does the textbook omit in this discussion which ought to have been included, since it is the only source of the correct interpretation of Scripture?

First, any discussion of the Byzantine period of Church history would have to include — in addition to the heresies and the Ecumenical Councils that repudiated them — a discussion of Holy Scripture itself. It was during this period that the books of the Bible as we know them today were produced in the Orthodox Church. That is, of the numerous copies of various Scriptures then in existence, including many false "scriptures," Scripture was canonized from among the writings of the Apostles and early disciples. As Fr. John Whiteford explains:

The primary purpose in the Church's establishing an authoritative list of books which were to be received as Sacred Scripture was to protect the Church from spurious books which claimed Apostolic authorship, but were in fact the work of heretics, such as the "Gospel of Thomas." Heretical groups could not base their teachings on Holy Tradition because their teachings originated from outside the Church. So the only way they could claim any authoritative basis for their heresies was to twist the meaning of Scriptures and to forge new books in the names of the Apostles or Old Testament saints.

In establishing an authoritative list of sacred books that were received by all as being divinely inspired and of genuine Old Testament or Apostolic origin, the Church did not intend to imply that all of the Christian faith and all information necessary for worship and good order in the Church was contained in these writings. In fact, by the time the Church settled the canon of Scripture, it was already, in its faith and worship, essentially indistinguishable from the Church of later periods. This is an historic certainty. As for the structure of Church authority, it was Orthodox bishops, gathered together in various Councils, who settled the question of the canon. The Church as we know it was in place before the Bible as we know it was in place [Sola Scriptura: an Orthodox Analysis of the Cornerstone of Reformation Theology, pp. 11-12; emphasis added].

Secondly, it was during this period that the Holy Fathers explained Scripture. Although the textbook does not mention this development, it is an immensely important one in the history of the Church, for the Fathers are the only source of the correct interpretation of Scripture.

As the textbook gives short shrift to the Fathers, this subject requires further comment. St. Justin Martyr (+165), the leading Christian apologist of the second century, explicitly equates the Holy Fathers with the Holy Apostles. He writes that: "Among them, in essence, there is no difference: the same God-Man Christ lives, acts, enlivens and makes them all eternal in equal measure."

Also concerning the Holy Fathers, Protopresbyter Michael Pomazansky explains that:

For guidance in questions of faith, for the correct understanding of Sacred Scripture, and in order to distinguish the authentic Tradition of the Church from false teachings, we appeal to the works of the Holy Fathers of the Church, acknowledging that the unanimous agreement of all the Fathers and teachers of the Church in teaching of the faith is an undoubted sign of truth. The Holy Fathers stood for the truth, fearing neither threats nor persecutions nor death itself. The patristic explanations of the truths of the faith 1) gave precision to the expression of the truths of Christian teaching and created a unity of dogmatic language; 2) added testimonies of these truths from Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition, and also brought forth from them arguments based on reason. In theology, attention is also given to certain private opinions of the Holy Fathers or teachers of the Church on questions which have not been precisely defined and accepted by the whole Church. However, these opinions are not to be confused with dogmas, in the precise meaning of the word. There are some private opinions of certain Fathers and teachers which are not recognized as being in agreement with the general catholic faith of the Church, and are not accepted as a guide to faith [Orthodox Dogmatic Theology, pp. 37-38].

The True Church established by Christ rests upon the foundation of the Holy Apostles and the Holy Fathers, who are the Apostles' successors in nature and essence. As Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos explains, the Holy Fathers are the successors of the Holy Apostles not simply through the transmission of the grace of the priesthood, but because they themselves also reached the same experience as the Apostles.

(Since chapter 8 answer 14 deals with the Apostle Peter's admonition that "no prophecy of Scripture is of private interpretation" [2 Peter 1:20], the matter of the Holy Fathers' exegesis of Scripture will be explored in greater depth at that juncture).

18. What do you feel was the most significant point presented in this lesson?

The most significant point is that icons are sanctified and are a source of sanctification through which the grace of God works, and that through them, one is put on the path of salvation. Also of immense importance is that the icon is equal to the Scriptures in its capacity to teach. St. Basil the Great expresses this truth when he states that "that which the word [of Scripture] communicates by sound, the painting shows silently by representation." The Fathers of the Seventh Ecumenical Council agreed, for they also stated that the two mediums accompany one another and that through them one gains a knowledge of the same thing.

19. What questions did this section of the textbook raise in your mind and then leave unanswered?

Some Protestants consider the chief proponent of Iconoclasm, the Byzantine Emperor Constantine Copronymus, to the spiritual ancestor of Luther and Calvin. Because of that connection and the Protestant world's traditional disdain of icons, questions arose about how ancient heresies in general — and Iconoclasm in particular — manifested themselves in Protestant theology. Needless to say, this question is outside the purview of the textbook and can be researched elsewhere.

[Professor's addendum: Actually, early Western theology (from the incorrect opinions of Augustine onward) was based on Platonism. Later Western theology was based on Aristotle, but on a peculiar version. It was based on the Moslem sage Avicenna's commentaries on Aristotle. Protestantism is something of a combination of Moslem/Aristotelian ideas and Gnosticism. Luther and Calvin must count as their forerunners Augustine (thus Plato), Avicenna (and his interpretations of Aristotle), and the European Gnostics. However, as you say, this is something for later. It is covered in our fourth course].


5. Saints, Monks and Emperors.

1. The textbook gives one of the reasons why Byzantium was called the icon of the heavenly Jerusalem. What was the reason?

The description of Byzantium as the icon of the heavenly Jerusalem refers to the all-pervasive influence of Christianity upon all aspects of Byzantine life and upon all strata of society, from the clergy to the laity, and from the court and scholars to the poor and uneducated. The textbook cites examples of this influence: how the circus events began with the singing of hymns, how trade contracts invoked the Trinity and were sealed with the sign of the Cross, and how ordinary citizens would discuss and philosophize about the Trinitarian and Christological disputes of the day in the marketplaces and in their business interactions.

The example of the circus is an unfortunate one, given the repeated denunciations of this spectacle in the homilies of St. John Chrysostom. The textbook could have given any number of different examples to show how great Christianity's impact was on Byzantium. Not mentioned, but a good example of that influence, is that Constantinople was said to have become like a monastic kingdom. It was also called a second Jerusalem as it was a city of numerous churches and shrines. The grace of God rested upon it.

2. We understand that the Ecumenical Councils were conducted by imperfect men. However, who guided them and filled their shortcomings, leading them to the truth?

The bishops who attended the Ecumenical Councils were guided by the Holy Spirit, Who filled their human deficiencies and led them to the truth.

3. What played a decisive part in the religious life of Byzantium and in all Orthodox countries?

Monasticism played this part. In Eastern Orthodoxy, the bishops are chosen from among the monks, and the greatest Fathers and theologians have also come from the ranks of the monastics.

4. What is the significance of monasticism?

Today in the "television generation," very little is known about the institution of monasticism and its contribution to civilization. When monks or nuns are portrayed on TV, this portrayal is generally done with utter lack of seriousness, if not downright mockery. For this reason, monasticism is not understood in the secular West.

There are other reasons as well for that lack of understanding. Many people no longer read, and also, the technological change during the last century has been so striking and fast that it is easy to attribute almost everything to the present and nothing to the past. We no longer look to the past as people used to do, but live in an exaggerated appreciation for the present. This answer will therefore examine the monastic past, something that has washed up even to the shores of our modern world.

St. Athanasius the Great writes that:

"There are two forms and states of life. One is the usual life for mankind, married life; the other is the angelic and Apostolic life of which there is no higher, virginity or the monastic state."

Monasticism is not something alien to the Church, but is life according to the Gospel. Thus, it is not without reason that the spiritual writers have set forth an extremely exalted point of view of this way of life. As one of them noted, among the Orthodox Church's monks and nuns throughout the ages, the gifts of casting out demons, healing sicknesses, resurrecting the dead, and gifts of prophecy, are not exceptional. Moreover, the greatest Fathers and theologians of Orthodoxy have come from the ranks of monastics. For these reasons, the best way to penetrate Orthodox spirituality is to enter it through monasticism.

Monasticism had its origins in the Old Testament period of the Church, when God revealed to Moses the vow of the Nazarite — a vow of celibacy and the consecration of one's life to God (Numbers 6:2). Subsequently the prophets, from Elijah to John the Baptist, set examples of this vow.

The monastic way was later perfected in the life of Christ. According to the teachings of all the Holy Fathers and teachers of the Church, the first monastic community was that which Christ formed with His Apostles. St. Basil the Great gives this teaching when he states that "the image of the common monastic life is truly an imitation of the way of life of the Lord Jesus Christ with His disciples."

Likewise, the Church historian Filon notes that "already in the beginning of the Apostles' preaching, there were among Christians those who were distinguished by a special love of wisdom, that is, a yearning toward higher ascetic struggles and contemplation, which are the very constituents of the purely monastic life, and which a merely Christian life lived amidst the tumults and vanities of the world — although not in itself forbidden — is not adequate to satisfy." In the same regard, St. John Chrysostom writes:

In the beginning of Christianity, in the land of Egypt there appeared a wonderful army of Christ, leading a form of life natural only to the celestial powers; and it was made up not only of men, but also of women, who no less than the men led the contemplative life. As great ascetics they entered into spiritual warfare with the devil and the powers of darkness.

Having seen Christ's example, the holy disciple and Evangelist Mark, who established the Church in Egypt, founded the first ascetic communities that continued this way of life. These communities had the Old Testament prophets as models, and they adhered to the principles set forth in Acts 4:32. These communities came to be known as monasteries, and their inhabitants came to be called monks, from the Greek word monos (single or alone), in reference to their choice to be alone with God. From these monastic communities arose the great monastic saints, the Desert Fathers, of the fourth-century Egyptian Thebaid.

During the three hundred years of persecution of Christians, endless numbers of men, women and children underwent the cruelest forms of torture imaginable, being lacerated, burned, crucified, beheaded, drowned, thrown to lions in arenas, and having molten lead poured down their throats, for their Christian faith and love of God. Martyrdom had a central place in the spiritual outlook of early Christians, being considered the ultimate act of renunciation of the world and the highest confession of one's faith. All Christians believed and lived in truth, and lived in readiness to be killed.

Once freedom was granted to the Church by Constantine, however, the suffering of persecution and martyrdom as a means of Christian perfection was gone. Under the new conditions where many started coming to Christianity out of expediency, many Christians in their freedom and wealth became worldly, forgetting that the Christian life is undertaken to save one's soul, and forgetting that this path entails suffering in this life in order to obtain peace in the next. This development resulted in secularism, something that proved an even greater danger for Christianity than the persecution of the Church, for with it, the ascetic way of living disappeared from the cities.

In reaction to this secularization, the idea of martyrdom took other forms, such as a life of monasticism. At that time, there began to appear anchorites or hermits, people who fled society to enter into a voluntary or bloodless martyrdom in the desert — that is, to preserve the essence of the spiritual life and live a genuine life according to the Gospel. At first they left the world singly, and then in loosely-knit groups. In this way, monasticism emerged as a definite institution in the fourth century. As Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos goes on to explain, the Holy Fathers emphasize that the monastic life is the continuity of the Apostolic age and the life of the early Church. The Fathers, he states, taught that monastics are those who live the life of the Gospel, who experience repentance to its ultimate degree, and who try to observe the commandments of Christ unyieldingly.

One of the earliest records of a monk is that of St. Anthony the Great (+356). When he was a young man, his parents died and left their substantial wealth to him. Sorrowing over their death, he went into church, and there he heard the priest read from Scripture: "If thou will be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give it to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in Heaven: and come and follow Me" (Mt 19:21). Upon hearing these words, Anthony's heart began to burn for Christ. He then went to distribute his inheritance among the poor, after which he departed to the Egyptian desert to be alone with God. There he lived a life of prayer, fasting and reading Holy Scripture, living to over a hundred years of age.

The ultimate aim and significance of St. Anthony's life was not to withdraw complacently unto himself, but to cleanse his heart of the passions and vices that thrive in the world. After this cleansing, he was able to help his fellow men by his counsel or through his miraculous prayer. St. Anthony is the typical hermit — one who saved his own soul, and also saved the souls of many of his fellow men at the same time.

After St. Anthony's repose, St. Athanasius the Great, the bishop of Alexandria (the same Athanasius who was responsible for the New Testament canon of Scriptures), recorded Anthony's life for the inspiration of others, eloquently presenting him as a model of ascetic perfection. As St. Athanasius writes:

How did this recluse in the wilderness become famous in Spain and Gaul, in Rome and Africa, were it not for God, Who knows His own people everywhere?... And although such people wish to live in seclusion, God reveals them and they cannot "hide their light under a bushel" (Mt 5: 15).

In bringing this story throughout the world, St. Athanasius changed the face of history with the life of St. Anthony, the illiterate cave-dwelling monk and the founder of anchoritic monasticism. St. Anthony's fame spread not because he desired it (for he had purposely withdrawn into the wilderness), but because God wanted him to serve as a lamp to illumine all.

Following St. Anthony's example, thousands of people — men and women alike — fearing that the lure of comfort and security would divert them from their search for unity with God, withdrew from the world which entangles the soul, in order to devote attention to the "one thing needful" (Lk 10:42). Abandoning all things that tied them to the world — riches, homes, relatives, friends and all earthly consolations, they took up the eremitical way of life in the wilderness areas. Like the walls of the catacombs before, the wilderness isolated them from the world and gave them the opportunity for a more God-centered life. There, far from the temptations of the world and far from the eyes of men, these ascetic recluses concealed themselves in solitude in the wide expanse of desolate areas, in mountains and forests, in caves, cells and tombs, where they led a life of self-renunciation and deprivation, one spent in prayer, fasting, chastity and vigilance. In such a state, they became lifelong martyrs in spiritual warfare against the passions and against the demons. "Lo, I have fled afar off and have dwelt in the wilderness. I waited for God that saveth me" (Ps 54:8-9). Some of the hermits lived in such complete isolation that, in the case of St. Mark of Thrace, he lived for more than ninety years without ever seeing another human face.

Eremetical monasticism was established by St. Anthony the Great. According to this discipline, each monastic lived separately from the others in a hut or cave, where he prayed, fasted and labored under the guidance of a leader or elder called an abba, or father. During Anthony's lifetime, another form of monastic life began to develop — cenobitic monasticism, where the ascetics gathered into one community and were subject to one rule, under the leadership of an abbot or archimandrite. The founder of communal monasticism is St. Pachomius the Great.

Receiving and preserving the same outpouring of spiritual gifts which distinguished the first era of Christianity, monasticism spread quickly through Egypt, Palestine, Syria, Greece, Ethiopia and India, and to Italy, Gaul, Ireland, Bulgaria and Russia, and to the ends of the world. First a monk would settle in some uninhabited area, after which people would settle nearby. In time a village would grow, and cities and entire societies has their beginnings in the simple poverty of monks.

In Russia, just as in Byzantium before it, every aspect of life was centered around Christianity. However, there was still a need for the much deeper, God-centered life that only the desert can offer. As a result, the thick Russian forests became the desert where God-seekers could find the solitude they needed for the austere monastic life. Monasticism quickly spread and greatly thrived in Russia, but it met its Passion Friday on February 18, 1932, when all of Russian monasticism disappeared into the concentration camps. This act took place in the dead of one single night, and it was ignored by all and was almost unknown to the whole world. Soon after this so-called "holy night," the United States recognized the Soviet tyranny as the lawful government of crucified holy Russia.

Comparing the life of hermits to those living in the world, St. John of Kronstadt writes that the former are worthy of a thousand crowns. He continues:

They, out of love for God, forsook the world and all that is in the world; they went away into the desert, uninhabited places, and there, shut up in their cells, they spent all their life in thinking of God, in prayer, in renouncing their own will, in fasting, watching, laboring, and in doing great deeds for the love of God, enduring during their whole life the assaults of the opposing forces [the demons, who were] endeavoring by every means to shake their faith and trust in God, and especially their love for Him. To fight, for the love of God, against our own flesh and the devil — that crafty, mighty and evil enemy — not for some hours, days and months, but for many years, sometimes sixty or seventy — is not this worthy of crowns? And what, in comparison with these ascetics, or Holy Fathers, are men living in the world, falling so often into sin even without being assaulted, and defeated by their own flesh without even being attacked? What in comparison to holy ascetics are worldly men, living in accordance with their own will, in luxury, in pleasures of every kind, gorgeously appareled and living delicately (Lk 7:25), given over to pride, ambition, envy, hatred, avarice, irritability, wrath, revenge, amusements, fornication, drunkenness — to all possible vices, although not all in the same person? They are caught alive, without any resistance, in the power of the devil, and therefore he does not attack them, but leaves them long entangled in the nets in the peace of self-forgetfulness that precede death [My Life in Christ].

Orthodox monasticism is called the angelic life. As an old adage from St. John of the Ladder has it: "Christ, the light of angels; angels, the light of monastics; monastics, the light of the laity." Likewise, Scripture teaches that "they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain... the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage... for they are equal unto the angels" (Lk 20:35-36, cf. Mt 22:30, Mk 12:25). When the disciples said to the Master, "If the case of a man be so with his wife, it is good not to marry," Christ in reply instructed:

All men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it is given. For... there be eunuchs which have made themselves eunuchs for the Kingdom of Heaven's sake; he that is able to receive it, let him receive it (Mt. 19:12).

A monk explains that Christ refers to monastics as eunuchs for the Kingdom not only because of their celibacy, but more importantly to emphasize that like the eunuchs of His day, who were influential royal officials, monastics have a special closeness to God. They are "before the throne of God and serve Him day and night in His temple" (Rev. 7:15).

A Russian priest additionally explains that the arduous process of monastic self-denial and renunciation in and of itself is not the goal, but that it is the most effective means of attaining the highest spiritual life. The aim of monasticism is human transformation (the attainment of moral and spiritual strength) for the salvation of one's soul. This human transformation is the process of theosis (divinization), or a participation of man in the divine energies of God. This union with God is possible through the conquest of the passions, for Christ states that those who see Him are the pure of heart. As St. Gregory Palamas instructs, "Indeed, only this is impossible to God, to enter into union with a man before he has been cleansed."

As an American nun notes of this transformation, many monastic saints regained the likeness of Adam in Paradise, who was rightful lord over the animals and earthly elements. Wild animals, including fierce lions and bears, and timid birds, were gentle and unafraid in the presence of these men and women, and the cruel cold of the Siberian winters could not harm them. Dwelling in the antechambers of Heaven as they did, these saints barely touched the prosaic aspects of pragmatic human affairs.

Regarding monasticism’s ultimate goal, the salvation of one's soul, the voices of all the Holy Fathers are summed up by Metropolitan Philaret (Voznesensky), former First Hierarch of the Russian Church in Exile, himself a monastic of high spiritual caliber and one whose remains did not decompose after his repose. The metropolitan wrote that "according to the definition of the Fathers, the monastic life is per se the direct road to the Kingdom of Heaven."

Orthodox monasticism continues today, particularly in the countries of Eastern Europe, where monasteries dot the countryside with noticeable frequency. Orthodox monasticism will continue to exist until the consummation of the ages.

5. What has been the chief center of Orthodox monasticism since the tenth century?

Mount Athos, also known as the Holy Mountain, became the major ascetic center of the Byzantine Empire. Preserving the highest ideals of Christian ascetic life as expounded by the Holy Fathers, this monastic community played a decisive role in the ecclesiastical affairs of the late Byzantine period, and especially during the hesychast controversy of the fourteenth century. A rocky, mountainous peninsula in northern Greece, it juts into the Aegean Sea and culminates at its tip in a peak 6,670 feet in elevation. The peninsula consists entirely of monastic settlements, some twenty of them, and a large number of smaller houses and hermits' cells. To this day on Mount Athos, there are ascetics who keep vigil in prayer all night, who live in caves in extreme poverty and totally unseen by men, and those who dwell in the open air with just one garment and no shoes.

The textbook states that Mount Athos has experienced a new "springtime," or a new lease on life, because of the large number of young and well-educated monks it has gained in recent decades. However, not all is in order there. Up until 1992, there was a group of monks of the Russian Church in Exile who would not commemorate the Ecumenical Patriarch because of his faith-compromising ecumenism. In May of that year, those monks were forcibly and illegally expelled from Mount Athos.

Not long before their expulsion, a fire raged out of control for several days. Despite their best efforts, monks and firefighters were unable to control it, and litanies and supplications were of no avail either as they had been in the past under similar circumstances. Although there was rain everywhere on the peninsula at the time, there was none over the fire itself.

Among the older monks were those who saw the fire as a forewarning of worse calamities in the future. Some viewed the fire as chastisement for the capitulation of certain Athonite Fathers to the ecumenical policies of Patriarch Bartholomew I, a large number of whom attended his enthronement as Ecumenical Patriarch in 1991.

In recent times, the abbots of the major monasteries on Mount Athos have largely capitulated to the threats of Constantinople against any protests directed at that Patriarchate's betrayal of Orthodoxy through the heresy of ecumenism. Mount Athos is therefore experiencing anything but a "springtime."

6. Are there orders in Orthodox monasticism?

Orders do not exist in Orthodox monasticism. Orders are a particular development within the Roman Catholic Church, which has preserved the institution of monastic life but has strayed far from the original spirit of primitive monasticism. As orders in the West came to assume a vast sociological range of functions, Catholic monastics became functionaries who today, often in street clothes, typically act as advocates of social justice and political reform. As Catholic monasticism was transferred from the quiet of the wilderness to the tumult of the city, it became worldly, and Catholic monks and nuns thereby became directed to social activity and worldly things, rather than to prayer and the internal life, to ascesis and inner purification.

Nothing of the sort took place in the East, where monastics, in the manner of primitive monasticism, dedicate themselves entirely to the work of human transformation. Orthodox monastics labor to cleanse the mind and body through the conquest of the passions, even as an angel instructed St. Anthony the Great to remain in the desert to struggle against himself, and against languor and the passions. This struggle is undertaken in order to be united to God, for as was noted above, St. Gregory Palamas explained that only one thing is impossible to God: to enter into union with a man before he has been cleansed.

Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos gives further development of the difference between monasticism in the West and East. Western monasticism, he notes, exhausts itself in societal work and external worship, which is intellectual worship. He states that there are isolated cases of Western monastics who live an interior life, although even they cannot be freed from a barren ethicology. He goes on to note that in Orthodox monasticism, on the other hand, a perfect therapeutic treatment exists, consisting of purification, illumination and divinization. The metropolitan also notes that Western monasticism was created in an effort to regenerate the Church. In Orthodoxy, however, monastics are not struggling to revive the Church or to save it, for it is not the Church they need to save. Instead, they struggle to be healed living within the Church, and they seek their own salvation within the Church, from Christ, in His Holy Mysteries. Thus, Orthodox monasteries function as hospitals which cure people and lead them to life before the fall.

Some people condemn Orthodox monasticism because of its unworldliness and its emphasis on the interior life, and they put the outer life and its activities first. However, it is sufficient to recall that Christ did not bless the activist Martha, who was "burdened about much serving." Instead, He blessed the quiet Mary, who sat at His feet to hear the words of eternal life (Lk 10:38-42). Also, Christ specifically blesses those who engage in ascetic labor, saying that those who see Him are the pure of heart (Mt 5:8).

7. What is an elder and what does he do?

The Apostle Paul enumerates three ministries in the Church that are independent of the Church hierarchy: Apostles, prophets and teachers. (These ministries may be connected to the rank of bishop or priest, but not necessarily so). An elder was one who had received the second of these gifts of the Holy Spirit — that of the prophetic ministry (cf. Eph 4:11, 1 Cor 12:28). This gift was bestowed as a special gift of grace, and it was given to those carriers of God's grace and otherworldly wisdom whose rare and God-given spiritual discernment and insight enabled them to serve as guides to others.

So high a calling as the prophetic ministry required a great personal sanctity, purity of heart, and uninterrupted abiding in God. Sanctity of life was definitely a requirement of the prophets in the time of the first Christians. As is written in one of the oldest works of Christian literature:

He must have the manner of the Lord. From his manner may be distinguished the false prophet from the [true] prophet [The Didache (The Teaching of the Lord to the Gentiles by the Twelve Apostles)].

Many saints were given the grace of prophecy, including Fools-for-Christ's-Sake (Yurodivi) and holy eldresses, and even the mentally unstable. However, as Professor Smirnov notes in his doctrinal dissertation The Spiritual Fathers in the Ancient Eastern Church, "The charismatic phenomena of the first centuries of Christianity repeated themselves in ancient monasticism: that the elders were bearers of these charisms — the special gifts of the Holy Spirit, given to man directly by God, according to one's personal worthiness."

Eldership, being a direct continuation of the prophetic ministry, appeared under this name and in this form only in the fourth century, when monasticism arose as a guiding principle. From that time on, the gift most commonly manifested itself as monastic eldership.

The father of monasticism himself, St. Anthony the Great, was the earliest and most famous of the elders. In a pattern common to later elders, he withdrew from the world and spent the first part of his life (from eighteen to thirty-five) living as a desert anchorite in strict solitude and ascetic endeavors. In time, a group of disciples gathered about him, and later still, he had a circle of people who came from far and wide to seek his advice. So great did his fame for helping others become that he was described by his biographer St. Athanasius as a physician to all Egypt. St. Anthony had many successors through the centuries, most of whom followed his pattern of withdrawing from the world to return to it with gifts of discernment for the benefit of their fellow men.

Angels are a light for monks, it was noted, and the monastic life is a light for all humanity. However, the heights of Christianity, the best expression of monasticism, is eldership. This ministry consisted in edification, exhortation and comfort (1 Cor. 14:3). As St. Barsanuphius, an elder from the famous Optina Hermitage, explained, the Lord spontaneously reveals to elders the past, present and future of people. Thus, in addition to physical eyes, elders have spiritual eyes before which the human soul is revealed, and nothing is hidden from them. This gift, the ability to see the human soul, gives an elder the opportunity to raise the fallen, direct people from a false path to a true one, heal diseases of soul and body, drive out demons, and act as direct transmitters of God's will for all who came to them. In the lofty spiritual gaze of elders, the boundaries of space and time were set aside, and they saw the spiritual meaning of present and future events, the latter of which they were able to foretell.

Archpriest Sergei Lebedev speaks of the ability of elders and eldresses to foretell the future in the following way:

It is not clear to many Christians how these pious people, elders and eldresses, prophecy the future just as it will happen. Many confuse [their gift] with a kind of fortune-telling because of their simplicity, spiritual immaturity, heedlessness and lack of faith. Such people sometimes speak thus about these strugglers for God: "Here he guessed and it came out as he said it would." Herein is revealed great thoughtlessness and even sinful-ness. Fortune-telling is forbidden in the Old Testament. Fortune-tellers have the devil and his angels for their accomplices. They are totally sinful and Christians should not turn to them under any circumstances. If a Christian turns to a fortune-teller, he shows himself a traitor to Christ and accepts the devil's help. [The gift of prophecy] has the great blessing of God as its foundation, and it is a great gift given only to people of the highest spiritual labors who have a pure heart. They acquire inner light as a gift from the Lord [Consoler of Suffering Hearts: Eldress Rachel, Visionary of Russia, p. 10].

Hieromonk Seraphim Rose explains that elders had their exceptional abilities as they are an image of Adam in his unfallen state. When Adam named the animals that came before him in Paradise, he instantly gave whatever name God placed in his mind. In the same way, when an elder sees someone for the first time, he tells the person's name, tells the person's sin, and tells him what he must do to save his soul. The elder's mind gives this startling information because he is in direct contact with God, Who gives him this ability. As Iulia De Beausobre goes on to note, because elders had this ability, they were sought out in the solitudes of many lands by people eager to find a teacher capable of bringing order to their confusion, and capable of kindling the light of hope in the darkness of their despair.

Hieroconfessor Barnabas (Belyaev), Bishop of Pechersky, himself an elder, left the following description of the institution of eldership and how it manifested itself in Russia:

Elders in Russian ecclesiastical consciousness are ascetics who have passed through a long probation and have come to know spiritual warfare from experience, and who by many exploits have acquired the gift of discernment, and who, finally, are capable by prayer of attaining to the will of God for man. That is, to a greater or lesser extent they have received the gift of... giving spiritual direction to those who come to them.

The influence of eldership spread far beyond monasteries. In Russia, elders were spiritual guides for thousands of people who flocked to be guided by these holy men — Tsars, princes, philosophers, writers such as Gogol and Dostoyevsky, and ordinary people from all walks of life. Those who rendered themselves to the guidance of an elder experienced a special feeling of joy and freedom in God, for contact with God is always combined with a feeling of indescribable peace in the soul.

Well-known holy men from among the Russian elders were Saints Seraphim of Sarov and John of Kronstadt. Eldership flowered especially at the Optina Hermitage, which produced no less than twelve elders, all of whom have been glorified by saints by the Russian Church in Exile. With the Optina elders, as with others, the Lord bestowed on them the gift of understanding the state of soul of people who came to them, plus miracle-working, the ability to drive out demons, and the ability to heal sicknesses.

The prophetic ministry flourished when the spiritual life in the Church was high, and it declined in decadent periods. In these pre-apocalyptic times, when the love of many has grown cold and spiritual impoverishment prevails, the grace of eldership has grown exceedingly scarce. It is not known to the writer if any elders are still alive today. However, if any still do exist, they choose to conceal themselves from the gaze of others rather than seek the vainglory that comes from the human praise they would receive from putting on display the treasure they have obtained. Regarding the present scarcity of elders, Archpriest Alexey Young writes:

In this country, at least, there are no true elders today whose voice can be the voice of Heaven for a disciple or spiritual child. To think otherwise is very dangerous: whole groups have been led into schism and heresy because they believed their leader to be an unerring "elder." ["Cults Within and Without," Orthodox America, vol. 15, no. 7, 1996, p. 11].

Also regarding the disappearance of elders in these times, a new martyr of the Communist yoke, Hieromartyr Damascene, Bishop of Glokov, stated:

Perhaps the time has come when the Lord does not wish that the Church should stand as an intermediary between Himself and believers, but that everyone is called to stand directly before the Lord and himself answer, as it was with the forefathers [Episkopi-Ispovedniki, San Francisco, 1971, p. 92].

8. What is the significance of the Byzantine Empire?

Byzantium was a Christian society dedicated to Christ and His Holy Church, and it produced a great number of saints from every level of society. Moreover, its Christianization of the Balkans and the Slavo-Varangian state of Rus' stand as supreme missionary achievements in the spreading of the true faith.

Sir Dimitry Obolensky, professor emeritus of Russian and Balkan history at Oxford University, explains in his many books that among the events that shaped the history of Europe, a notable one is the influence exerted by Byzantium on the society and culture of Eastern Europe. Through the relations established between the Eastern Roman Empire and the people of the extensive territories to the north of the Black Sea and in the Balkan Peninsula, entire nations accepted Orthodox Christianity and adopted many features of Byzantine civilization — its law, literature and art. As a result, these nations were able to share in, and eventually contribute to, a common cultural tradition — the Byzantine heritage, whose principal beneficiaries were the Greeks and Slavs.

Although Byzantium was inspired by the great vision of establishing here on earth a living icon of God's government in Heaven, it was still a human society, one full of human weaknesses. The textbook describes those well known weaknesses — the duplicity, violence and cruelty. It additionally mentions the empire's falling into the error of identifying the earthly kingdom with the Kingdom of God, and the Greek people with God's people. There can be no doubt that Byzantium fell far short of the high ideal that it itself set. Although not mentioned in the textbook but explained in the prefatory notes, those failures were the result of human nature, for Byzantium was populated with poor, fallen and sinful people like ourselves.

The prefatory notes to the course also explain that the purpose of the Byzantine Empire was to provide a calm, stable and relatively peaceful framework on earth in which each person might strive, in the Holy Church, for the salvation of his soul. As long as there was a genuine striving for the Christian ideal, the empire continued to exist, no matter how short it fell of the mark. On the other hand, the notes mention, when that striving ceased, the empire was overrun by its enemies.

The same fundamental law is seen all throughout Old and New Testament history — sc., that the cyclical rise and fall of people and nations is connected with their fluctuating relationship with God. This principle began with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.

The commandment not to eat from the one tree was given so that through its fulfillment man could express his freely-willed striving toward God and love for Him. Speaking of this matter, the holy martyr Eustratius, who was killed during the reign of the emperors Diocletian and Maximian, spoke the following words to his tormentors:

The Lord... forbade [Adam] to touch the fruit of one tree to instill in him obedience. In giving this command, God's intention was to teach man submission to the divine ordinances and to ignore the enticements of the devil, who envied the honor in which man was held. If he kept the commandment, man would live forever, immortal and incorrupt; however, if he transgressed it, he would not be permitted to remain in Paradise, but would be expelled and come under the domination of death [St. Demetrius of Rostov, The Great Collection of the Lives of the Saints, vol. 4, p. 254].

After the first human sin, God came to Adam not to condemn him or banish him from Paradise, but to bring him to his senses, confess his sin, and repent. In His love for mankind, and in His complete lack of ill will, God could have immediately subjected Adam and Eve to punishment, but as St. John Chrysostom writes, "He is long-suffering, delays, asks and listens for the answer, and again asks, as if evoking the guilty one to justify himself in order that when the matter has been revealed, He might show him His love for mankind even after such a transgression [Homilies on Genesis, p. 140].

Thus it cannot be stated that Adam and Eve sinned and then were condemned. Instead, they were given a chance to repent, although Adam blamed Eve, and Eve blamed the serpent. When it was finally revealed that they had neither repentance nor any true justification, only then were they condemned. St. Ephraim the Syrian states that had Adam and Eve repented, then, "even though they would not have restored to themselves what they had before the transgression of the commandment, at least they would have been delivered from the curses that were uttered to the earth and themselves" [Commentary on Genesis, p. 329]. Rassaphore Nun Maria goes on to add that "God therefore saw that if [Adam and Eve] remained in the paradise of delight where they received all good things without pain or toil, they would never come to a proper realization of their deed, but would on the contrary grow completely and irreversibly hardened like the fallen angels." That is, the human race would turn into another race of demons.

Even the act of condemnation itself was an act of mercy, for once being given over to illness and sufferings, man had these misfortunes acting on him like a bridle. As St. Cyril of Alexandria explains, these things gave man the opportunity to heal in himself the disease which came upon him in the midst of blessedness. Moreover, the same Father states that:

By death, the Giver of the Law stopped the spread of sin, and in the very chastisement reveals His love for mankind. Inasmuch as He, in giving the commandment, joined death to the transgression of it, and inasmuch as the criminal thus fell under the chastisement, so He arranged that the chastisement itself might serve for salvation. For death dissolves this animal nature of ours and thus, on the one hand, stops the activity of evil, and on the other delivers a man from illnesses, frees him from labors, puts an end to his sorrows and cares, and stops his bodily sufferings. With such a love for mankind has the Judge mixed the chastisement [Quoted in Fr. Seraphim Rose, Genesis, Creation and Early Man, p. 210].

The Holy Fathers state that death was not only a punishment, but that it was something good. From Hieromonk Seraphim Rose we learn that:

It was also a good, because once man fell, if he were to still be immortal, there would be no way out for him. Imagine being in a state of being unable to redeem yourself, unable to get to Paradise, and then living and living and living, with no hope of getting out of this state. Death puts and end to sin. The fact that we are afraid of death already wakes us up to begin to struggle. Even if we forget about Paradise, we will be afraid of death and begin to struggle, to overcome our fallen nature [Ibid].

Fr. Damascene Christensen comments further on the meaning of suffering. He states that:

Before the fall, there was no suffering in the world; there was only spiritual pleasure, only joy. After the fall, God allowed suffering to enter the world not as a chastisement — for He has no need to see people punished — but out of love. If God would not have allowed suffering, there would have been nothing to check the spread of evil in the world. Man would get further and further entrenched in love of himself, seeking sensual pleasure for himself, growing in massive pride just like the devil, and we would all be like demons. God allowed suffering because, if it is met in the right way, it can lead to redemption, it can purify us. Suffering reminds us that we're moving away from our original destination and from the knowledge of who we are.

If we're involved in some sin — whether it's a sensual pleasure or a resentment against someone — we can feel a certain exhilaration from it, which makes us feel better and not so guilty. But eventually, through suffering, we're led back to the awareness that something is deeply wrong. Without suffering, there's no way we could find that out; we'd be completely blinded.

God cherishes freedom. In order to love Him and each other, we must have freedom to love or not love. There is no love without freedom. That's why God has created us free like He is; that's why He allows us to ravage the earth and inflict suffering on our fellow human beings. But in the midst of this suffering He wants to deliver any who call upon Him and wish to turn away from their fallenness, to return to their true designation. He accomplishes this return without meddling with man's freedom. He lets man make a mess of things and then in His omnipotence He uses this very mess to help man return to Him. Only God can do that. The devil, even while seeming to gain victory over a man's soul, often loses in this very victory, for God can turn it around and use the mess the devil created to bring the soul to Him through suffering [Quoted in Fr. Paisius Altschul, An Unbroken Circle: Linking Ancient African Christianity to the African-American Experience, p. 91].

In the writings of St. Nikolai Velimirovich, one frequently encounters the theme of "corrective" or redemptive suffering. Moreover, he frequently writes about it in the context of chastisement that God sends at the hands of unbelievers. Referring to the Babylonian captivity of the Hebrews, the bishop asks how it is that God calls Nebuchadnezzar, a pagan and idolatrous king, My servant (Jer 25:9)? Because, the bishop explains:

... when he to whom God has given knowledge of Himself and His laws turns knowledge to ignorance: law to lawlessness, then God takes as His servant him who does not know Him, to punish the apostate. For an apostate from God is worse than a pagan.... And so, when the Christian people in the Balkans turned back from God and God's law, God took the Turks as His servants, to punish those in apostasy and bring them to their senses by this punishment [Prologue from Ochrid].

It is only in this light that the sufferings of the Orthodox under the Turks can be seen, contrary to the papacy's maintaining that this chastisement was sent to the Orthodox for their sin of refusing to submit to the "supremacy" of the pope.

Still, the question remains — how is it that hardship and defeat so often fall upon Orthodox Christians, while unbelievers are left to prosper? Where is God's justice? The same St. Nikolai penned this answer from his place of imprisonment in the infamous Dachau concentration camp during World War II:

When Abraham asked God whether He would destroy the sinful city of Sodom if ten righteous men were found in it, God answered that He would not destroy it, but that He would save the whole city for the sake of these ten righteous men. You say there were more than ten righteous amongst the Serbian people, so why did God not spare us? That is the word of a tempter. As if you do not know that Sodom was a pagan city, that it did not know one God, as the Israelite people did; and that it was not baptized in the name of the Holy Trinity, nor did it partake of the Holy Body and Blood of Christ as the Serbian nation did. The difference is like that between Heaven and earth. That is why He Who judges in righteousness wanted to save Sodom because of ten righteous people, but would not save Israel on account of ten thousand, nor the Serbs for the sake of hundreds of thousands of righteous souls. The Sodomites did not know the one true God. The Jews knew one true God through the prophets and through many miracles. The Serbs, however, knew God, revealed to the world in the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ. Punishment is measured according to the scale of knowledge of God [Through a Prison Window].

In sacred history, God came to the transgressor Cain to give him a chance to repent after he slew his brother Abel (Gen 4:6-7). St. Ephraim the Syrian explains that God appears to Cain without anger so that the prayer pronounced by Cain's lips might wash away the sin of murder performed by his hands. However, if he does not repent, a heavy punishment will be assigned to him such as his crime deserves. Finally, although Cain did come to admit his guilt, it was too late, and his confession was more an admission of fact than it was an indication of repentance. Cain regretted his sin, but he did not repent of it (a common state among people to this day). Consequently, Cain was subjected to the curse: "Thou art cursed from the earth." Here again, God shows first His concern that the guilty should repent, and then He shows His mercy even when there is not repentance.

The same thing happened with the Hebrews. For a long time God endured their sins and awaited their repentance. Finally, when they did not reform themselves, they went into bondage to the Assyrians and Babylonians as a direct consequence of their long-standing idolatry and pursing heathen practices, and because of their disobeying the Law and ignoring the prophets. The historical books of the Old Testament, as well as the five nomothetic books of Moses, propound the close relationship between the piety of the people and their prosperity. In other words, they show that national disasters are always brought on by apostasy from the faith and moral decline. As Abba Dorotheos of Gaza (sixth century) states:

Everything that happens, happens with God's permission or approval, as it says in the Prophet, "I, the Lord, make the light and create darkness" (Isaiah 14:7), and again, "There is no evil in the city which the Lord did not make" (Amos 3:6). He speaks of evil here in the sense of the consequences of evil and the troubles that are brought upon us for correction because of the evil we do, such evils as famine, earthquakes, droughts, diseases and war. All this happens to us, not according to God's pleasure, but by His permission, with His permission they come upon us for our profit.

On the other hand, if people repent, "if My people which are called by My name shall humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked way; then will I hear from Heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land" (2 Chron 7:14).

Further on in sacred history, it is shown that when the Prophet Jonah, and later the Prophet Nahum, prophesied the destruction of Nineveh in Assyria by fire and water, the Ninevites repented for a short period of time. Then, seeing that Jonah's prediction did not come to pass, the people returned to their evil ways, thereby stirring up the wrath of the long-suffering God. As a result, there was a great earthquake, and part of Nineveh was flooded by waters from a nearby lake. The remainder of the city, the part that stood upon a hill, was consumed by a fire that spread from the surrounding wilderness. Thus did God in His righteous judgment punish the sinful people and fulfill Nahum's prophecy.

The same principle is seen throughout the history of mankind: God chastises only after giving people abundant opportunity to repent and change their ways. This lesson is seen in Serbia in 1389, in Constantinople in 1453, and subsequently throughout the Balkan Peninsula as many nations fell to the Moslem Turks. More recently, it was repeated in 1917, when the scourge of atheistic Communism came upon Russia as a result of its capitulation to Western liberalism in the nineteenth century — that is, when it was overcome by the spirit of materialism and apostasy, and it took place again as Communism came to dominate the various nations of Eastern Europe in the bloody century that just ended. The lesson in each instance is that there are terrible consequences when a nation turns away from God to the idolatrous worship of its own ideas and passions.

Byzantium was overcome by the same spirit of materialism and apostasy from the true faith, something that clearly manifested itself at the Council of Florence in 1439. After its betrayal of Orthodoxy at that council, it was handed over to its downfall at the hands of the Turks in 1453. After its downfall, Orthodoxy continued to endure martyrdom and persecution from the world, this time from the Moslems. As in the case under the first great persecution against the Church, suffering under the Moslems kept the Church pure by not allowing for lukewarmness of faith. In such a state, many saints continued to appear there, thus testifying that the Church is not bound to Byzantium, or to any other nation or system of this earth. The rise and fall of nations or systems is not the concern of the Church; the Church's concern is the rise and fall of the human soul. As Blessed Augustine expressed this idea in The City of God, the Church does not exist for empires or governments, but for salvation and the Kingdom of God.


6. The Great Schism.

1. From the end of the third century on, what was the state of political unity in the Roman Empire?

Political unity was in a state of decline. Although still one in theory, the empire was usually divided into an Eastern and Western sphere, each having its own emperor. This separation was further hastened by Constantine’s founding a second imperial city in the East.

2. What events began to occur at the start of the fifth century which would finally sever the unity of the empire?

The barbarian invasions took place. Following them and the carving up of most of the West among barbarian chieftains, the Greek East and Latin West were driven further apart, and political unity was never again restored on a permanent basis. For all the Christians of the period, and for Europe's heathen barbarians as well, the Christian Emperor of the East stood out as the world's supreme ruler, and Constantinople as the world's most preeminent and fabulous city. The East during this time never forgot the ideals of Rome under Augustus and Trajan, and it still saw the empire as in theory universal. The Emperor Justinian attempted to bridge the gulf between this theory and actual fact by his campaigns to gain back the Western part of the empire from the barbarian invaders, yet in spite of his bold and tenacious efforts to do so, he ended in failure. After Justinian, no succeeding emperor made any serious attempts to bridge the gulf between the theory and fact that the empire was universal.

3. This severance was carried a state further by what?

During the rise of Islam, the Mediterranean Sea, from the Pyrenees and Spain, through north Africa, Arabia, Syria and the East, passed largely into the control of the Arabs. This development made contacts between the East and West increasingly difficult.

4. What action did the Roman pope take in 800 that would result in political conflict in the Roman world?

In an action that was to become the greatest source of political and cultural alienation between the East and West, the pope crowned the king of the Franks, Charlemagne, as emperor in 800. The Eastern Empire, in its adhering to the principle of imperial unity, could only regard Charlemagne as an intruder and the pope's coronation of him as an act of schism within the empire. Even many of Charlemagne's contemporaries in the West saw him as a usurper, for the legitimate Roman Empire in Constantinople had not ceased to exist, nor had it ever given up its claim to rule the entire Christian world. The Eastern emperor therefore refused the political recognition that Charlemagne sought from him. Charlemagne, in his turn, sought to establish his own legitimacy by trying to ruin the legitimacy of Constantinople's claim to universal jurisdiction by accusing the East of heresy: he charged the East with falling into idolatry because of its veneration of icons. He further accused the East of dropping the word filioque (Latin for and from the Son) from the Nicene Creed, even though the word was a Western innovation and never was a part of the Creed as it was formed by the First and Second Ecumenical Councils.

From the outset, there was a marked antipathy towards things Greek in the court of the new, so-called Holy Roman Empire. The hostility and defiance of the new empire towards Constantinople soon extended beyond the political field and into the cultural realm: literati in Charlemagne's court sought to create a new Christian civilization not patterned after Byzantium. (Even the term Byzantine was given first by the Franks in a derisive sense and with the idea of regarding themselves as the successors of the Romans). The Byzantines, for their part, dismissed all Franks as barbarians and refused to take Western learning seriously. The schism between the two civilizations had thus become firmly fixed.

5. What problems of language made unity between Rome and Constantinople more difficult?

By the year 450, very few people in Western Europe could read Greek, the language of the Byzantines. Similarly, after 600, very few Byzantines could read Latin, the language of the Romans (even though Byzantium still referred to itself as the Roman Empire). If Latins and Greeks wanted to read each other's works, they could do so only in translation, although usually they did not do even that. Consequently, with their no longer drawing upon the same sources or reading the same books, East and West drifted further apart.

6. It is interesting to note that Russia became the Third Rome at the time Byzantium was obliterated by the Turks. Russia was cut off from close interaction with the Greeks, there was a considerable language barrier, and both nations embarked upon completely separate political and cultural destinies. These events were similar to what happened between Rome and Constantinople, yet in the case of Russia and Greece, there was no schism, no severance from the Church. Can you suggest the reason?

Political, historical, cultural, linguistic and geographic diversity does not affect the oneness of the Apostolic Church. The Church is always one and the same, regardless of the human environment in which it is situated, be it Russia, Greece, China, Japan, or sub-Saharan Africa.

Russia did not commit Rome's mistake of holding itself above the ancient Councils and fashioning unto itself a new theology without any reference to the Councils or Sacred Apostolic Tradition. The Russian Church was obedient to the Councils and the conscience of the Church expressed in them, and as a result, the Russian Church never cut itself off from the True Universal Church, or from Christ, its Head, as the Latin Church did. Ever since it received Christianity, the Russian nation has always been a God-bearing nation, and the faith of Christ was always preserved in it.

With regard to Russia's being the Third Rome, the first Rome had fallen to the barbarians, and it subsequently lapsed into heresy and departed from the Apostolic Church. The Second Rome (or New Rome, or Constantinople) had fallen into heresy at the Council of Florence and had been destroyed by the Turks as punishment from God, and the greater part of the Balkans was also under the domination of the Turks. To the Russians it seemed no coincidence that at the very time the Byzantine Empire came to an end, they themselves were at last throwing off the last remaining vestiges of Tartar suzerainty. God, it seemed, was granting Russia freedom because He had chosen it to be the successor of Byzantium. Russia was thus called upon to preserve the Orthodox faith and to be its champion and protector after the other two Romes had fallen.

As one writer goes on to expound on this matter, Moscow was indeed the Third Rome, the lawful successor of the New Rome, Constantinople. Moreover, the better Russian Tsars took this role and its attendant responsibilities very seriously. They waged successive wars to liberate the Orthodox Balkans from the Turks and protect them from the Western powers; they spent large sums of money to support the Orthodox monasteries of Mount Athos and the Patriarchates of the Middle East; and Tsarism itself fell in a self-sacrificial war to protect Orthodox Serbia from Catholic Austria-Hungary.

7. The textbook gives a cause of the developing disunity between Rome and the Church. What was this cause?

One cause was due to the different political situations in the East and West, which in turn caused the Church to assume different outward forms. From the start, there had been a certain difference of emphasis between the East and West so that in time, people came to view Church order in conflicting ways.

The East had many Churches of Apostolic foundation, and it had a strong awareness of the equality of all bishops and of the collegial nature of the Church. It saw the bishop of Rome as the first bishop, but first among equals.

In the West, only one great see dated back to the Apostles — Rome, which caused the West to see Rome as the Apostolic see. Also, while Rome adhered to the decisions of the Ecumenical Councils, it did not play an active role in them, nor did it see the Church so much as a college as it saw it as a monarchy — the monarchy of the pope.

The textbook goes on to describe how a further political development reinforced this initial divergence: in the political vacuum created by the barbarian invasion of the West, the pope came to get involved in both the political and spiritual life of Western Europe. Not only did he act as an arbiter of contentions between disputing sovereigns, but he came to assume the role of an autocrat and absolute monarch over the Church.

As a political leader himself, the pope, after a prolonged dialectical process in the European Middle Ages, arrogated imperial authority to himself and assumed the right to appoint and depose kings and emperors. In spite of St. Jerome's dictum let the lust for Roman power cease, many popes became involved in a relentless campaign to increase the scope of their authority, thereby establishing the foundation of papal absolutism and dictatorship. As Archimandrite Sergius, former Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Theology at the University of Sofia, Bulgaria, notes of that dictatorship, "Papism's earthly centralization and leadership are alien to the heavenly centralization of Christ's Church, as a Theanthropic body, headed by the glorified God-Man, Jesus Christ" (Mt 28:18). The papacy's earthly leadership is inconsistent with the authority of Christ both in Heaven and on earth." Even so, Rome's shrill demand for submission was to become an invariable feature governing its relations with Byzantium.

8. An active interest and participation of the laity in theology and Church life has always been a significant factor in Orthodoxy. In the West, theological education became limited to what group?

Theological education in the West came to be the exclusive domain of the clergy. As Archbishop Averky of Jordanville writes in this regard:

Every kind of... disregard, contempt and patronization of one's flock is characteristic of Roman Catholicism, in which the clergy imagine themselves to be a higher, privileged class, in comparison with the lower class — the flock ["The Essence and Method of True Pastoral Care in Our Times," Orthodox Life, vol. 47, no. 3, 1997, p. 15].

Further development of this idea is given by Professor A.P. Lopukin of the St. Petersburg Theological Academy. He notes that:

Roman Catholicism is, as it were, a continuation of ancient, pagan Rome, the spirit of which it assimilated, arraying itself in Christian garb only outwardly. In ancient Rome there were only two classes — the upper, privileged class of the patricians, and the lower class of the plebeians. This dichotomy was carried over into Christianized Rome: the clergy became the patricians, the upper, privileged class; the rank and file faithful laymen became the plebeians, the lower class, without any rights, who were required only to listen and in all things to submit without reservation, not daring to put itself forward in any way or in anything whatever [Ibid].

Another way in which the Latin Church browbeat the laity was in its depriving them of the ability to commune of the chalice, an innovation that was first allowed in the West in the twelfth century. This change runs contrary to Christ's direct words: "Drink ye all of it," and also: "Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink of His blood, ye have no life in you" (Jn 6:53). Other scriptural passages as well clearly testify against the Roman Catholic practice (1 Cor 10:16-17; 11:26-30), as do patristic works. Moreover, Rome's change went against the universal practice of the ancient Church, as well as the express prohibition of many ancient popes. (It is important to note, however, that at that time, the Latin Church no longer had the Holy Eucharist, nor was there grace in any of its Sacraments, for it was severed from Christ's Church as of its schism in 1054). Protopriest Victor Potapov explains that although the Latin Church attempted to justify its deviation in this matter with various pretexts, the ultimate aim of this change was to show in the very communicating the superiority of the clergy over the laity.

(It is of interest to note that when the Bohemian religious reformer Jan Hus attacked the corruption of the Latin clergy, he insisted that the laity should be able to commune from the chalice, as was the Orthodox and early Western custom. For stating these things, he was excommunicated in 1409, after which he was captured and burned at the stake by the Latin Church).

In yet another attempt to separate the clergy from the rest of society, a married clergy was done away with in the West. In the early Church, especially in the East, a married priesthood was the norm. This ancient practice was abandoned in the West with the papal changes of 1046-73. As Professor Aristeides Papadakis writes concerning this change: "Behind the campaign for celibacy, in sum, aside from the moral and canonical issues involved, was the desire to set all churchmen apart from and above the laity; the need to create a spiritual elite by the separation of the priest from the ordinary laymen was an urgent priority" [The Christian East and the Rise of the Papacy, p. 37]. Adding to these ideas, Protopriest Victor Potapov explains that:

The Church cannot become free of subordination to laymen if clerics do not become free of their wives. With the rise of papal authority, a striving naturally had to arise to break those ties whereby the clergy is united with the family, and through it with the state; only a priest completely free of all familial and civil bonds and obligations could serve as a reliable instrument in the hands of the Roman pontiffs for the achievement of their ambitious political plans [Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy].

The same Fr. Victor notes that too sharp a line between the clergy and laity was drawn by the Catholic clergy with the pope at its head. An artificial division into the Church of those who teach and those who are taught appeared, while in the sacramental life, the significance of the prayerful participation of the people of the Church has been diminished. In the Roman Catholic Church, the clergy elevated itself too much over the people, and abusing its position, it oppressed them.

9. One particular aspect of Church life that the textbook often brings out is the contribution which each individual Church center made to theology in ancient times. Each center put forth understandings and approaches to understandings which were often synthesized at the General Councils, guided by the Holy Spirit. What were the two theological focal points which separated Rome from this harmonious system?

(1) Papal claims of universal jurisdiction and unlimited sovereignty over the Universal Church. Rome's spirit of lust for power and its papal pretenses were contrary to the traditions and customs of the Church, for, as noted earlier, the Church is not and never was monarchical in structure, centered around a single bishop. In spite of that fact, however, the pope became an absolute dictator set up over the Western Church, one who issued orders not only to his ecclesiastical subordinates, but to secular rulers as well. As one writer notes, the medieval Frankish-Teutonic conception of the pope entails the greatest adulteration of Christianity and was the source of further distortion of Christianity in the West.

The Vatican still maintains that papal primacy is beyond question. On June 9, 2000, the pope approved a so-called "Note" of one Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger. This "Note" states that "no Roman pontiff ever recognized... [an]... equalization of sees or accepted that only a primacy of honor be accorded to the see of Rome." A similar document titled Dominus Iesus was published on September 5, 2000, by the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith (formerly the Office of the Inquisition). Both statements are an attempt to seduce people into Rome's web of deceit concerning papal primacy and the primacy of the Latin Church.

(2) The matter of Rome's addition of the word filioque to the Creed. This change of wording in the Creed was introduced in the early medieval Western Church some centuries before the separation of Rome from the Universal Church. Rome took it upon itself to change the Creed without consulting the rest of the Church, and the addition had ruinous effects upon Western theology.

10. In what year and in what council did Charlemagne manage to have the filioque approved?

Charlemagne had the filioque formula adopted at the semi-Iconoclast council at Frankfurt in 794. As Aristeides Papadakis explains in his book The Christian East and the Rise of the Papacy, this addition was achieved without official papal approval or authorization. Charlemagne used the filioque as propaganda against the Byzantine state, his political adversary at that time, yet the addition was disapproved of by the papacy. Whenever Carolingian requests for an endorsement of the filioque were made, these requests were always firmly denied by the papacy. While singing the filioque at the royal chapel of Aachen was apparently permissible, tampering with the authoritative text of the Creed in a formal way was not.

Significantly, not only did Rome condemn the filioque phrase on more than one occasion, but Rome had even been its primary opponent in the West since Charlemagne's advisors saw fit to endorse it. Until 1014, the Western Patriarchate had in fact faithfully adhered to the previous decisions of the Universal Church expressly prohibiting any addition to the Creed.

At his coronation in 1014, the German emperor Henry II demanded that the pope include the filioque in the Creed sung at Mass (previously the Creed was not a part of the Mass in Rome). The pope balked at first, but then submitted. As a result of its adoption at that time, the altered Creed became standard throughout the West. Before long, Rome began to justify the alteration by claiming that it had doctrinal authority on its own. As papal apologists were to argue, it was sufficient that a Roman pontiff had declared it dogma. By his own petrine powers, the apologists asserted, the pope was not subject to conciliar judgment, but unlike everyone else, he had the right not only to convoke general councils, but to amplify and even revise their doctrines.

Of course, the arguments of the papal apologists were not without glaring contradictions. The apologists failed to note the fact that the popes had earlier affirmed the original text of the Creed. Also, the papal apologists failed to mention that the popes had earlier refused to fall in line with the Carolingians in the matter of the filioque.

11. To what heresy was the council in Frankfurt related?

The council was related to the earlier heresy of Iconoclasm.

12. How did Pope Leo III demonstrate his rejection of the filioque?

Pope Leo III wrote Charlemagne a letter stating that while he considered the filioque to be doctrinally sound, he did not consider it right to tamper with the wording of the Creed. The same pope had the Creed without the filioque inscribed on two silver plaques — one in Latin and one in Greek — and installed in St. Peter's.

13. What understanding of the filioque do you derive from this chapter?

First, the filioque interpolation should have never been inserted into the Creed as it revises the words of Christ in John 15:26, yet the words of Christ and Scripture cannot be revised. Moreover, as noted above, the Ecumenical Councils specifically forbade that any changes should ever be made in the Creed, and if it ever seemed that an addition should be necessary, then the only competent institution empowered with such authority was another Ecumenical Council. The Creed is the common treasure of the entire Church, and no individual part of the Church has the right to modify an ecumenical document by its own judgment in such a way as Rome did. The Roman Church, in its arbitrary alteration of the Creed without the consent of the East, committed what one writer described as moral fratricide — that is, Rome is guilty of a sin against the unity of the Church. (For this reason and others, some do not think that it is insignificant that the word amor [love] spelled backwards is Roma). As the scholarly Blessed Theophylact of Ochrid noted in the twelfth century, no doctrine could ever be viewed as correct just because it had been declared true by the pope, not even if the Latins "shake the keys of the kingdom in our faces." The textual corruption of the Creed approved by the papal throne was unlawful. Theological objections aside, the addition lacked both biblical and ecumenical authority.

Secondly, from the theological standpoint, the filioque addition is untrue. Christ's words clearly indicate that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father (Jn 15:26). On this basis, it is incorrect to state that the Holy Spirit also proceeds from the Son. Rome's addition of a word is not an abstruse theological issue, but one with far-reaching consequences in other areas since the filioque addition destroys the balance between the three Persons of the Holy Trinity. It also leads to an erroneous understanding of the Holy Spirit's function in the world, thus promoting a false doctrine of the Church.

(The matter of the filioque addition to the Creed and how it profoundly affected Western theology for the worse will be fully developed in chapter 8, answers 6-7 and 9-14).

14. Give your understanding of the nature of a schism.

All the Holy Fathers speak as one against schism and consider it to be among the most damnable of sins. St. John Chrysostom, for example, states that not even the blood of martyrdom can wash away the sin of schism. Also, as St. Ignatius of Antioch, a disciple of the Apostle John, warned: "Make no mistake, brethren, no one who follows another into schism will inherit the Kingdom of God, no one who follows heretical doctrines is on the side of the Passion." [Ignatius to the Philadelphians 5:3.] The same Father further instructs:

He that is in the sanctuary is pure, but he that is outside the sanctuary is not pure. In other words, anyone who acts without the bishop and presbyter and the deacons does not have a clean conscience [Letters to the Romans, AD 110, in The Faith of the Early Fathers, vol. 1, p. 18].

Likewise, St. Basil the Great instructs:

Because their separation [is] initiated through schisms ... those who [have] separated themselves from the Church no longer [have] in themselves the grace of the Holy Spirit.... Nor could they any longer confer on others that grace of the Holy Spirit from which they themselves had fallen away [The First Canonical Letters, AD 374, in The Faith of the Early Fathers, vol. 2, p. 6].

St. Basil's words are clear and revealing.

Frank Schaeffer, a former Protestant who converted to Orthodox Christianity, makes a number of observations regarding schisms. He states that God's plan for His Church does not include the unrepentant anarchy of 23,000 denominations that have rendered claims of absolute truth ludicrous in the eyes of the world. The same writer goes on to state that according to Christ, schisms — that is, divisions among believers, is part of the antichrist's program, not that of God. Moreover, he notes, there are repeated warnings in the New Testament against schism, division, strive and lording it over others. These warnings are so frequent that the call for Church unity, order and humble collegiality might be described as the main theme of the epistles. Holy Tradition also teaches against schism, calling it a re-crucifixion of Christ.

15. What is the meaning of the Great Schism?

The Great Schism of 1054, that is, the breakaway of the Roman Church from the Church Universal, is the greatest tragedy to befall Christendom. For the benefit of those Christians outside Eastern Orthodoxy, Protopriest Victor Potapov's concise explanation of that event is provided here. Fr. Victor writes that:

In the year 752, Pope Zacharias anointed Pepin the Short, the chief steward of the Frankish kings, to be king, and thereby gave, as it were, the Church's blessing to the overthrown, carried out by Pepin in the Frankish kingdom, that removed the lawful Frankish king from power. For this, Pepin, in the year 755, took away from the Germanic tribe of the Lombards the lands conquered by them in Italy and delivered into the pope's hands the Ravenna Exarchate, which had previously belonged to the Byzantine Empire, and the keys to twenty-two cities. Thus, the pope was transformed from a subject of the Eastern Roman (Constantinopolitan) emperor into an independent secular sovereign, not dependent on any other sovereign, with an independent territory and with possession of supreme state authority on this territory.

This rapidly corrupted the morals of the papacy. The inner contradiction between the ascetic ideal and secular authority appeared as a dangerous enemy of the moral purity of the popes. It entailed a radical change not only in the status, but also in the behavior, in the intentions, in the aspirations, and in the modi operandi of the Roman popes. Conceit, pride, lust for power, and the aspiration to subordinate all the local Churches to their authority, which had previously appeared in the behavior of the Roman popes only as tendencies, as sporadic phenomena, now wholly takes possession of the popes.

At first, the popes set themselves the task of strengthening their authority in those Western Churches — the African, Spanish and Gallic — which did not form a part of the Roman Church. Despite a certain resistance on the part of the African Church, the popes succeeded comparatively easily in securing the subordination of these Churches to themselves: great was the authority of Rome in these former provinces.

As for the Churches newly founded in Britain, Germany, and in the other countries of Western Europe by missionaries of the Roman bishop, the popes succeeded in subordinating them to their authority all the more easily, inasmuch as the idea of the supremacy of the pope in the Church was inculcated in them simultaneously with the preaching of Christianity.

The popes, while subordinating the Western Churches to themselves, were simultaneously taking measures in order to substantiate their authority, if not dogmatically, then at least juridically. For this, a collection of ecclesiastical juridical acts was compiled in the West at the beginning of the ninth century in the name of the authoritative Spanish sacred minister, Isidore. Since both the name of the compiler and the contents of the collection, as was later established, were spurious, it received the name "Pseudo-Isidorian Decretals." The collection consists of three parts. In the first are fifty Apostolic Canons and sixty decretals of the Roman popes. Of these sixty decretals, two are partly falsified, while fifty-eight are altogether spurious. In the second part, among other spurious material, is the spurious donation of the city of Rome by the Emperor Constantine the Great to the Roman Pope Silvester. The collection was first published only at the end of the sixteenth century, and then scholars proved without difficulty the spuriousness of the documents that were in it. At the present time, even Catholic scholars do not recognize their authenticity. But at that time, the collection served as an authoritative basis for the development of ecclesiastical relations in the West, inasmuch as it was accepted on faith and enjoyed the authority of authenticity in the course of the Middle Ages. The popes began to cite the decretals of the collection categorically in substantiation of their rights to supremacy in the whole Church.

Pope Nicholas (858-876) began to cite the "Pseudo-Isidorian Decretals" first, inasmuch as he first formulated sharply and decisively the idea of papal omnipotence in the Church. But the East, naturally, did not recognize this omnipotence. Pope Nicholas I attempted to subordinate the East to himself in one swoop. But he did not succeed in this. As a consequence of this failure, a Church schism appeared: the first time in the ninth century, and finally in the eleventh century (1054).

The external history of the falling away of the Roman Church is such [Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy].

The year 1054 is assigned to the cataclysmic schism that plunged Western Europe into the darkness of heresy, the schism which produced the Roman Catholic Church. Afterwards, the continuing putrefaction of the Roman Church produced the thousands of Protestant Churches and their offspring.

Regarding the 1054 date, it is largely symbolic and does not pinpoint the exact date of separation of the West from the East. Moreover, it cannot be maintained that the Roman Church ceased overnight to be a repository of ecclesial grace. Instead, it became spiritually ill, the disease of heresy spread, and the West gradually came to be detached from the rest of the body. The saints and various synods since that time attest to this fact. Speaking of the decline of Christianity in the West, Hieromonk Seraphim Rose remarks:

One might cite numerous manifestations of this remarkable change in the West: the beginnings of Scholasticism or the academic-analytical approach to knowledge as opposed to the traditional... approach of Orthodoxy; the beginning of the "age of romance," when fables and legends were introduced into Christian texts; the new naturalism in art (Giotto) which destroyed iconography; the new "personal" concept of sanctity (Francis of Assisi), unacceptable to Orthodoxy, which gave rise to later Western "mysticism" and eventually to the innumerable sects and pseudo-religious movements of modern times; and so forth. The cause of this change is something that cannot be evident to a Roman Catholic scholar: it is the loss of the grace which follows on separation from the Church of Christ and which puts one at the mercy of the "spirit of the times" and of purely human ways of life and thought.

For a Western Christian, the explanation of the Great Schism in the textbook could lead to the mistaken notion that Rome's separation from the Church was nothing more than a fortuitous outcome of non-theological factors (historical and political) in the East and West that only secondarily spilled over into the theological realm. Such was not the case. Even though theological and non-theological matters alike were mixed together in the schism that cut the West off from Christ's Church, it was ultimately the theological issues that were the root of the schism — a point underemphasized in the textbook, but made in the prefatory notes to the theology course. The same notes go on to explain that however deeply Christians in any age may be affected by historical events, the Church is not. The Church remains ever the same — immovable, unshakable and eternal — just as its Head, Jesus Christ, is.

The prefatory notes also refer to the fact that all bishops are equal and that none is infallible. Bishops and their dioceses are protected from error and heresy by their obedience to the Church's Councils. Since these Councils are assemblies of all bishops and are under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, they are expressive of the conscience of the Church, which alone is infallible. When a bishop places himself above the Councils, he severs himself from the only real protection from error and heresy he has — these same ancient Councils, and he has no source of guidance of the Holy Spirit. Heresy and error are inevitable for such a bishop.

Further explaining the Great Schism, the prefatory notes mention that all Orthodox Fathers presented their writings asking: Is this what the Scripture teaches? Is this how Sacred Tradition understands it? Is this how the previous Councils have defined it? They would then submit their writings to the conscience of the Church for its approval. Anyone disobedient to this way will separate himself from the Church, the notes state. And should this separation involve a bishop who takes a diocese or Patriarchate with him, this separation constitutes a schism. And the notes conclude, to be in schism is to be cut off — by one's choice and deed — from the Holy Church, and thus cut off from Christ.

Metropolitan Anthony, former First Hierarch of the Russian Church in Exile, explains that it is not possible for there to be a split within or among the Churches. He states that from time to time, people have fallen away from the one indivisible Church, and in doing so, they ceased to be members of it. Thus, there was no "division" of Churches in 1054, but rather a "falling off." If a "division" had occurred, it would have meant that after one unified Church had existed for one thousand years, there came into being not one but two Churches, something contrary to Christ's promise that the Church is one (Mt 16:18). According to this promise, the Church can never lose its unity, but will always remain one.

The Church has experienced a succession of heresies and schisms from the very earliest times. A particularly long-lived separation began in the fifth and sixth centuries over Christological issues, when entire nations — Egypt, Ethiopia, Armenia, and large parts of the Syrian population abandoned the communion of the Orthodox Church. Rome's schism is therefore nothing new to the history of the Church. It is not the earliest schism, nor is it the longest one in duration; it differs only in its being the largest one in terms of the number of people who were severed from the Church.

After the Great Schism of 1054, there were two different groups of believers — the Orthodox, who maintained the Apostolic Christian faith of their ancestors, and the Western papal Catholics, who after separating from the Apostolic Church developed with surprising rapidity into a religion different both from the pre-schism Western Christianity and Eastern Orthodoxy. As one historian noted, an early Christian would have felt at home in the Western Church of the eleventh century, but out of place in that of the twelfth century.

The Latin Church has not come to terms with the terrible event of 1054 and falsely maintains that the Orthodox Church went into schism at that time. Rome adds that while Orthodoxy is schismatic, it is not heretical. That is, Rome teaches that Eastern Orthodoxy does not have false doctrines.

Moreover, in an attempt to keep its flock from ever investigating Christ's true Church and becoming Orthodox, Rome claims that nothing essential separates Orthodoxy from the Latin Church, other than Orthodoxy's refusal to accept the "universal authority" of the pope. Beyond this matter, Rome teaches, any doctrinal differences are only "misunderstandings" because of incomplete formulations.

In spite of Rome's claim that Orthodoxy went into schism, history is clear in showing that once Rome no longer looked to Sacred Tradition, to the ancient Councils, or to the Church Fathers — much to the opposition of the entire East, it set itself above these and attempted to define theological issues on its own. Thus Rome cut itself off from its only protection against error and heresy, and it ineluctably fell into heresy itself. Rome was no longer a part of the continuing unity of Christ's Church after the Great Schism of 1054. To this day, even though the Roman Catholic Church claims to be the true Church, it stands outside the boundaries of the one true Church that Christ established on earth. After 1054, the Orthodox Church is the only true continuation of the early undivided Church.

16. How did papal claims and the idea of papal infallibility ensure that false teachings such as purgatory, merits, atonement, indulgences, the Assumption, etc., would become embedded in the doctrine of the Latin Church?

Over the course of its ten centuries of separation from the Orthodox Church, the Latin Church introduced a host of innovations, chief among which are the dogmas of papal supremacy and infallibility, the filioque, created grace, the Immaculate Conception and purgatory. To understand how these false doctrines became solidly established in Roman Catholicism, it is necessary to recall the formula of a schism. Once Rome placed itself above the Ecumenical Councils, which are expressive of the conscience of the Church, it severed itself from its only protection against error and heresy, thus ensuring that it would fall into heresy itself — and so it did. When Rome turned its back on its former correct understanding that all bishops are equal and consult with one another in councils, and when it likewise ignored the conscience of the Church, which alone is infallible, it began to make pretensions and heretical claims about its own bishop, starting in the ninth century. In time (1870), Rome went on to invent the false dogma that the bishop of Rome is infallible when speaking ex cathedra on matters of faith and morals.

The doctrine of papal infallibility was actually only an extension of the false teaching of universal authority. As the introduction to this book notes, papal infallibility is denied by the very Church that invented it, for the Roman Catholic Church admits that many Roman popes were heretics and that many spoke falsehood when making ex cathedra pronouncements concerning faith and morals. Papal infallibility is again shown to be false since the Apostle Peter, who the Latin Church proclaims was its first pope, was not infallible. At the Apostolic Council held at Jerusalem (cf. second chapter of Galatians), Peter was chided by Paul for not keeping the faith, whereupon Peter felt a need to renounce publicly his incorrect views. Given the fact that Peter spoke falsehood, Rome's argument of papal infallibility collapses.

One absurd and even blasphemous teaching of the Latin Church is that of supererogatory works, which can be explained exclusively by the avarice of the popes and the Catholic clergy. This false teaching was confirmed in 1343, and as Protopriest Victor Potapov explains, it maintains that many of the saints, in endeavoring to realize in their own lives not only God's law or the commandments (praecepta), offered superabundant, supererogatory satisfaction to the divine justice and performed supererogatory good works (opera supererogatonis). From them, a certain quantity still remains, as it were, of excess, supererogatory good works. This excess makes up the so-called treasury of supererogatory merits (thesarus meritorium), which is at the complete and unconditional disposal of the pope. Whoever does not have as many of his own deeds as are needed to satisfy God's justice for his sins, can — by the mercy of the pope — make use of the supererogatory merits of the saints in the Church's treasury — so Rome teaches in complete contradiction of the clear teaching of Sacred Scripture on man's salvation. The ideal of Christian perfection is so high, Fr. Victor explains, is so unattainable, that not only can man never perform anything supererogatory, but he cannot even attain this ideal. Fr. Victor goes on to cite two scriptural passages to explain. For example, the Lord said to His disciples: "When you shall have done all these things which are commanded of you, say, 'We are unworthy servants: we have done that which was our duty to do'" (Lk 17:10). Again, the Apostle Paul writes:

For grace ye are saved through faith; and not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them (Eph 2:8-10).

Regarding Rome's teaching on so-called purgatory (purgatorium), Orthodoxy considers it improper to elevate any speculative theological opinions to the level of dogma as Rome did with this matter. This opinion on the afterlife was elaborated and developed in detail after Rome cut itself off from the Apostolic Church in 1054, and it was accepted as dogma in 1439. Scriptures speak of Heaven and hell, but they mention no other place for the departed. The Latin Church went on to add an intermediate place or state for those souls who repented but died before undergoing temporal punishment here on earth for their sins to satisfy divine justice: this same purgatory. There, souls of the dead suffer various tortures to pay for their sins, and each soul stays there as much time as it is necessary to expiate those sins — or else, the Latin Church also teaches — the period of torments can be shortened by way of papal indulgences, which were granted not without the influence of financial motives (The matter of indulgences will be discussed below). When the period of torment ends, when the debt paid to God's justice is paid in full, the purified soul then passes from purgatory to Paradise.

Nikolaos Vassiliadis gives an in-depth examination of the history of the false teaching of purgatory in his book The Mystery of Death. Noting that there is no basis whatsoever for the teaching in Scripture, he explains that the teaching was borrowed instead from three other sources: 1) from the atheistic Chaldeans, 2) from Origen, whose teaching on the subject was condemned by the Fifth Ecumenical Council, and 3) from the Monophysite and Platonist Philoponos, whose heretical teachings date to the first half of the sixth century.

The cleansing fire of purgatorial flames and torments described in medieval literature are a complete myth. The souls of the dead are not cleansed or purged of their iniquities by virtue of many years of purgatorial torments themselves, by which they personally offer satisfaction to God's justice. Once the soul departs from the body, the ability of the soul to change its own status disappears. At that time, only the prayers and good works of the members of Christ's Church can assist that soul. If a soul experiences torments in hades as a result of sins it committed in earthly life, no other torment is permitted or is even necessary. As St. Mark of Ephesus wrote: "For if the remission of sins is accomplished for the sake of prayers, or merely by the divine love of mankind itself, there is no need for punishment and cleansing [by fire]."

Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos lists many sources of the false teaching of purgatory, among which is the politico-economic connection of popery. He explains that:

The connecting of the purifying fire with material offerings brought the people's disenchantment with the popery. It is said that the purifying fire, the so-called purgatory, was invented for the completion of the temple of the Apostle Peter in Rome and the upkeep of the papal palace. But it must be observed that the dogma of the purifying fire was not invented simply to exploit the people, because... it is in line with the Franco-Latins' scholastic theology. Nevertheless, it was used for economic reasons as well [Life After Death, pp. 199-200].

As the Latins demonstrated at the Council of Ferrara-Florence (1438-39), they had no interest whatsoever in seeking the truth concerning purgatory. Their interest instead was simply to impose their heretical views on the Orthodox. The fact remains, however, that purgatory is "a fruit and result of the scholastic theology of the Franco-Latins and has no relationship to Orthodox theology as Christ taught it, the Apostles lived it, and the Holy Fathers handed it down to us" (Metropolitan Hierotheos).

Rome's medieval teaching on indulgences (referred to above) is yet another false teaching that was completely unknown in the ancient, undivided Church as it contradicts the whole spirit of Orthodoxy. An indulgence is the forgiveness or reduction of the temporal punishment that a sinner must undergo for the satisfaction of God's justice. After the guilt and external punishment are remitted in the sacrament of repentance, indulgences are granted to a sinner by the agency of the pope, of the Saviour’s surplus merits and the supererogatory good works of the Mother of God and the saints. Fr. Victor Potapov notes that the profitableness of indulgences led to their greater and greater growth and the search for new occasions for granting them. They are not usually given out ex gratis, but are generally sold for money — under the pretext, of course, of performing good works with the money. As the advocates and sellers of indulgences — including the popes, who trafficked in them, were guided by monetary interests, attacks on indulgences were some of the first features of the Reformation movement.

With regard to the boundlessly insulting and blasphemous dogma of the Immaculate Conception, while it seems to exalt the Mother of God, it actually belittles her by denying all of her virtues. This false teaching maintains that Mary was placed in a state where it was impossible for her to sin, and thus she could not sin even if she wanted to. However, where there is no impulse to sin and no effort in overcoming temptations, neither is there any victory. Through the Immaculate Conception, the Latin Church takes away all victory and merit from the holiest of all the saints, the Mother of God. (Both this Latin dogma and that of the Assumption will be examined in detail in chapter ten).

False teachings would have never become a part of the Latin Church had it remained united to Christ's Church, and had Rome submitted these teachings before a universal assembly of bishops from the entire Church, both East and West. As a body gathered in Council, such an assembly would have had the Holy Spirit as its guiding force, as opposed to a single fallible bishop. (As previously noted, however, as of Rome's severance from the Church in 1054, the popes were no longer so much as laymen in the Church, much less bishops, for Apostolic Succession was ended in the West).

Although the Roman Church emerged from the Orthodox Church and was once bound to it as the Church of martyrs, saints, hierarchs and right-believing Orthodox Christians, Rome was severed from it as of the Great Schism. After the dictatorial popes were cut off from Christ's Church, they were also cut off from the Holy Spirit, and cut off from the fullness of Truth and from the only source of infallibility. As a result, they were no longer able to combat heresy when it arose, and false doctrines became firmly fixed in the Latin Church through the popes' ex cathedra promulgations of falsehood. Subsequently, amidst the waves of apostasy that blinded future generations in the West, the faith of Western Christians slowly began to change and deviate from the pure faith of the Apostolic Church. This process has continued unabated to the present time, and now there is hardly any similarity remaining between the West and Eastern Orthodoxy. As Philip Sherrard notes in this regard, the Christian West departed so far from the fullness of Truth, that it now possesses "a mentality increasingly non-religious in nature," even when it thinks that it is being "religious." [Philip Sherrard, The Greek East and the Latin West: A Study in the Christian Tradition, 1992].

Archpriest Alexey Young goes on to explain that in the past, Church Councils were historically called in order to address errors and heresy by triumphantly proclaiming the faith. The Second Vatican Council (1963), however, had no such purpose. Instead, the doors of the Latin Church were thrown open to:

... naturalism, humanism, Marxism, liberalism, modernism, and renovation. Everything was "new": the "new Church," the "new priesthood," the "new Liturgy," the "new Christian," etc. The council itself said that the Church must now take full account of "new forms of culture (mass culture) which give rise to new ways of thinking, acting and making use of leisure." In other words, the Church must "adapt," be "relevant," and turn herself inside out, if necessary. Everything old and venerable could now be cast aside. Monks and nuns took off their habits and became social workers. The laity, at last free of Western Christian traditions, were permitted to experiment with so-called "Christian yoga" and "Christian zen," to name just two of the stranger forms of spirituality that began to be dabbled in at the parochial level.

Politically, Christ Himself was now seen not as the Redeemer, but as the Revolutionary Liberator. This meant that the old moral restrictions, so heartily proclaimed and enforced from the pulpit prior to the Vatican Council were now no longer taught.

/.../ Towards the end of his life, Paul VI was stricken by the realization of what he had done during his reign. He realized in his last two years that something unimaginably ominous had been moving inexorably towards them, was already in their midst, and that it had nothing to do with the Holy Spirit. "The smoke of Satan has entered the Church, is around the altar," he remarked somberly and helplessly.... Nothing he did could stem the onslaught on him — for had he not espoused a "people's church" where all had equal voice? — women who wanted to be priests, priests who wanted to be married ... homosexuals and divorced people who called for acceptance of their status on their terms, Marxist priests and bishops and [laypeople] who claimed his approval to destroy the social order.... It was the new "people" let loose on the old kingdom, and Paul had no defense against them. Increasingly he reacted with tears [The Rush to Embrace, pp. 42-44; emphasis added].

St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco (+1966) explained that Christ's promise that the gates of hell shall not prevail against the Church (Mt 16:18) is promised only to the True, Universal Church. However, upon those who have fallen away from it (such as the Roman Catholic Church) are fulfilled the words: "As a branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; so neither can ye, except ye abide in Me" (Jn 15:4).

17. What do you consider to be the most important point made in this chapter?

By far, the most significant points are those given in the prefatory notes' summation of the Great Schism. The textbook's account, while not without some merit in giving general background information, is rationalistic in its approach and is very much lacking in real substance in causal analysis. This defect no doubt traces to the author's non-Orthodox background.

The textbook's explanation of the Great Schism would appear flawed to Orthodox theologians as they have never thought in the Cartesian method of the West. Two Greek hierarchs, Archbishop Chrysostomos of Etna and Bishop Auxentios of Photiki, comment on this fact, saying that unlike the Western thinker, Orthodox do not begin at zero, at nothing, and then develop their observations about things. Instead, they begin at one, as it were, and work from certain basic assumptions.

In the Western system that begins at zero, the hierarchs explain, Western thinkers might begin by assuming that God does not exist (or that nothing exists), and then proceed to establish the existence of God and the created world. When the Westerner projects this way of thinking onto history, he is confused how an obscure religion in a remote section of the world could have accomplished its triumph.

Even if a Westerner does acknowledge the divine nature of the Christian religion, the hierarchs continue, he is inclined to assume that the Church was something less than a divine manifestation. He usually imagines that it took root in the Roman Empire because of certain social, political and economic factors that favored its growth. A Westerner begins with a secular history that is infused with a divine witness, but with a zero assumption about the divine content of history.

This way of thinking impinges upon the textbook's analysis of the Great Schism and taints it, for its author projects social, political, linguistic and cultural factors onto that history. Ultimately he gets bogged down in the details of the historical minutiae of the event until his task of generalization suffers. That is, he fails to convey the larger picture of the historical event, which is the goal of historical inquiry.

As noted, an Orthodox works from certain assumptions. He always assumes the existence of God and His created world, for example, and bases his intellectual observations on this a priori assumption. In viewing history, an Orthodox makes the assumption that the Christian Church is divine and that history is the story of its divine manifestation. He begins with a history that is divine, a history whose content is the story of the manifestation of the divine.

The textbook's analysis of the Great Schism ultimately fails because its author, like other rationalistic scholars, tends to ascribe too much importance to secondary causes to historical events, thinking that they are the real causes. This is not so, for political, cultural, economic and other factors are completely secondary. The primary cause of history is always spiritual. As Hieromonk Seraphim Rose once explained at a remote monastery in a mountain wilderness:

The real cause [of historical events] is the soul and God; whatever God is doing and whatever the soul is doing. These two things actualize the whole of history; and all the external events — what treaty was signed, or the economic reasons for the discontent of the masses, and so forth — are totally secondary. In fact, if you look at modern history, at the whole revolutionary movement, it is obvious that it is not economics that is the governing factor, but various ideas which get into people's souls about actually building paradise on earth. Once that idea gets there, then fantastic things are done, because this is a spiritual thing. Even though it is from the devil, it is on a spiritual level, and that is where actual history is made.

The primary cause of the Great Schism, that is, the spiritual cause, was the temptation placed into the hearts of the popes by the devil — the temptation to sell out Christ for earthly rule, for universal sovereignty and domination. The popes yielded to that satanic suggestion, even as many angels once yielded to Lucifer's suggestion to rebel against God, and even as Adam and Eve yielded to temptation in the Garden of Eden. Therein lies the spiritual level where the history of the infinitely tragic fall of the Roman Church was made. Indeed, it is on that level that all history is made.

To view history in this way is to acknowledge that there is a first cause, which is what God does in history and how the soul reacts to it, and that the secondary cause is ordinary events. This understanding is the correct understanding of history, for it looks above, not below.

Hieromonk Patapios of Etna observes that the author of the textbook apparently does not believe that divine providence is the central guiding principle in the historical unfolding of the Orthodox Church. From an Orthodox point of view, the Cambridge University-educated scholar explains, "The Great Schism was not only a tragedy, but also an act of divine providence that protected the Eastern Church from infection by the bacterium of Latin heresy." It is parenthetically added that "the tragic dimensions [of the schism] are to be found in the loss of human souls, many of whom were innocent victims of the heresies promoted by the popes and their toadies." [The Orthodox Church and The Orthodox Way Reviewed, p. 8].

18. Although it is not mentioned in the textbook, give your understanding of the Petrine theory.

On the basis of Matthew 16:18, the Roman Catholic Church proudly proclaims the Petrine theory — that is, that the Apostle Peter is the rock upon which Christ wished to build His Church. An analysis of this theory shows that Rome's claim is altogether spurious from the standpoint of the biblico-patristic tradition, and also from a grammatical analysis of the scriptural passage.

In the Greek language, the equivalent for Peter is Petros, which means little stone, while rock is petra. Since petra is of the feminine gender, it cannot refer back to a masculine Peter. This fact is conveniently overlooked by Roman apologists.

What Christ was actually saying to Peter was: "You are Peter [Petros, a little stone], and upon this rock [petra, that is, your proclamation of Me as Christ], I will build My Church, since you alone could not support the weight of its foundation." In other words, Christ will build His Church upon a person's profession of faith in Him as the Christ, but not upon a mere mortal man such as Peter. Christ never stated that He would build His Church on a man (Peter), a little stone, as this would be too faulty a foundation. Instead, Christ will build His Church upon Himself, the only foundation possible, and upon Peter's profession of faith (homologica). The word homologica, coincidentally, is feminine in Greek, thus corresponding exactly to petra, a large unmovable monolith.

The Apostle Peter himself obviously recognizes these facts as he speaks of believers as stones, and of Jesus as the rock "upon which God builds" (1 Peter 2:5-8). Again, the Apostle Paul answers who the rock is. He states without qualification that the rock is Christ. "For God has already placed Jesus Christ as the one and only foundation, and no other foundation can be laid" (1 Cor 3:11).

One of the laymen who opposed the false teaching of papal infallibility (something that grew out of the equally false doctrine of papal supremacy) was Johan Josef Ignaz von Dollinger, Germany's greatest Roman Catholic historian. Dr. von Dollinger was a professor of canon law and Church history at Munich University and was president of the Bavarian Royal Academy of Sciences. Under his leadership, Munich University gained first place in Europe as a center for ecclesiastical studies. Dr. von Dollinger himself was recognized throughout the world as one of the greatest historical scholars in Europe, and he was recognized as the greatest Church historian of his day, bar none. Dr. von Dollinger was also universally acclaimed as a patron of Roman Catholic Church history in the nineteenth century.

Shortly after the proclamation of the heresy of papal infallibility, Dr. von Dollinger published the book The Pope and the Council — a frontal attack on papal infallibility. In this book, the perspicacious author made a number of irrefutable observations from history, among which is the fact that papal infallibility was completely unknown in the early Church and has always been relentlessly resisted by the Orthodox Church. Therefore, he added, "To the adherents of the theory of infallibility, the history of the Church must appear as an incomprehensible problem." [Quoted in Michael Whelton, Two Paths... p. 184.] Moreover, Dr. von Dollinger went on to add, no one was ever accused of heresy in denying the authority of the popes in their pronouncements of faith. He also pointed out that it was only much later, by means of a good number of forgeries (see below), that papal infallibility gained ground. In view of these facts, he correctly concluded that Rome would forever be forced to pile one lie on top of another to support this new and false teaching of papal infallibility.

For Dr. von Dollinger’s great intellectual honesty, his book was quickly placed on the Index of Forbidden books. Also, to make sure that the book would never see the light of day in Catholic circles, the decree stressed quocumque idiomate — "in whatever language" it may be published. As for Dr. von Dollinger himself, the Latin Church excommunicated him — one additional act of the intimidating coercive tactics that Pope Pius IX used all along in order to see that the false doctrine of papal infallibility would become a reality.

As for the testimony of the Church Fathers, not a single one of them interprets Matthew 16:18 (et al.) as applying to the Roman bishops as Peter's successors. St. John Chrysostom taught that "the rock on which Christ will build His Church means the faith of confession." Dr. von Dollinger observed that the other Fathers understood rock in this sense, or understood rock to be Christ Himself; or else they understood it as both of these together — as Christ and as Peter's confession of faith in Christ. Since the Fathers left so complete a witness, Rome is shorn of all defense in its papal claims. For this reason, the subject of patristics (or patrology, the study of the teaching of the Fathers) is given a minor place in Roman Catholic seminary curricula. For this same reason did the Latin Church resort to editing manuscripts and doctoring the testimony of the Church Fathers.

Among the Roman Catholic Church's numerous forgeries mentioned above, one was the Donation of Constantine. Concerning this document, Professor Walter H. Turner of the University of Detroit writes that it is universally accepted as one of the greatest forgeries of history. According to the Donation of Constantine, which was defended as authoritative until the sixteenth century, the Emperor Constantine confers upon Pope Silvester I and his successors spiritual primacy over all other patriarchs and bishops of the world, granting him imperial honors and granting to the chief Roman clergy senatorial distinctions and honors. To supremacy in spiritual matters was added temporal dominion over Rome, over Italy, and over the provinces, districts and cities of the Western regions. Importantly, this document is not without egregious blunders. For example, Constantine supposedly gives the pope dominion over the four Patriarchates of the East, although Constantinople and Jerusalem had not yet been elevated to patriarchal sees. (Jerusalem, in fact, was not declared a see until the Council of Chalcedon in 451, some 130 years later). Elsewhere, Constantine was calling himself the conqueror of the Huns fifty years prior to their entering Europe.

The Cambridge Medieval History describes the Donation of Constantine as the "cornerstone of papal power" (vol. 11, p. 586). For over 600 years this fraudulent document was an unqualified success in advancing the falsehood of papal claims. Finally, however, in the face of scholarship that proved it was a brazen forgery, the Roman Catholic Church itself admitted that it was a hoax. (Even so, in spite of that admission, Rome continued deceiving the Western world with the notion of the primacy of the pope).

This counterfeit document and others like it are never mentioned by the Latin Church today, of course, because of their origin and content. However, the evidence of the Donation of Constantine and other extensive forgeries in the Latin Church beg the questions: if there were absolute evidence of Rome's supreme universal jurisdiction, then why did Rome resort to counterfeit documents? Why the necessity to forge?

As for the Apostle Peter himself, he knew only one "Supreme Shepherd" — Jesus Christ. Peter never spoke of any primacy or sovereignty over the Church, nor did he ever raise himself over the other pastors of the Church. Very much to the contrary, Peter addressed the other pastors as equals and brothers (Acts 1:16, 2:29, 3:17, 15:7). Likewise, the Apostle Paul knew nothing of Peter's "primacy" or "infallibility" when he "withstood him to his face because he was to be blamed" (Gal 2:11).

The Roman Catholic Church is presently involved in a frenzied effort to explain its utterly fraudulent papal claims in the face of a growing awareness — both among its laity and clergy — that such claims are altogether false and impossible to defend by historical data. Had the author of the textbook mentioned these facts about the Petrine theory, it would have been all the more obvious to his readers — and to Roman Catholics most importantly — that Rome's papal claims, like all lies, have their source in "the father of lies," in Satan (cf. Jn 8:44).


7. Survey of Doctrine: Holy Tradition.

1. How does Vladimir Lossky define Tradition?

Lossky writes that "Tradition is the life of the Holy Spirit in the Church."

2. The textbook observes that Orthodox history is marked by a series of sudden political and national breaks. A) What, according to the author, was transformed by these sudden breaks, and B) what was never broken by them?

The sudden breaks include such things as the capture of Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem by the Arabs; the burning of Kiev by the Mongols; the two sacks of Constantinople; the subjugation of southeastern Europe, the Middle East and northern Africa by the Turks; and the Communist domination of Eastern Europe. A) These events changed the external appearance of the Orthodox world, yet B) they never broke the inward continuity of the Orthodox Church.

3. What distinctive characteristics did two Orthodox scholars attribute to the Orthodox Church?

Protopresbyter Georges Vasilievich Florovsky and Panagiotis Bratsiotis gave as the Church's distinctive characteristics its changelessness, its determination to remain loyal to the past, and its sense of living continuity with the Church of ancient times. These characteristics do not pass unnoticed by outsiders. In fact, they are generally the first things about Orthodoxy that strike Western Christians. As an English Roman Catholic wrote to a newspaper:

We are all sick to death of socialists and progressives alike with their reforming [in the Latin Church]. It is indeed something to thank God that the Eastern Orthodox Churches have refused to change anything and have stuck to the old Liturgies [Quoted in Archpriest Alexey Young, Christianity or the Papacy?, p. 19].

4. In what one word is the idea of the living continuity of Orthodoxy summed up?

It is summed up in the word Tradition, also called Sacred Apostolic Tradition as the most important and fundamental part of it comes from the Apostles. (When Tradition is capitalized in this work, it refers to Christian Tradition rather than human traditions).

5. The textbook gives a quote from the reply of the Eastern patriarchs to the non-jurors. Write out that quote.

The patriarchs wrote: "We preserve the doctrine of the Lord uncorrupted, and firmly adhere to the faith He delivered to us, and keep it free from blemish and diminution, as a royal treasure, and a monument of great price, neither adding anything, nor taking anything from it." [Letter of 1718].

6. Having given the Oxford Dictionary definition of tradition, the textbook continues with an explanation of what Christian Tradition is. How is it defined?

The textbook explains that:

Christian Tradition... is the faith which Jesus Christ imparted to the Apostles, and which since the Apostles' time has been handed down from generation to generation in the Church. But to an Orthodox Christian, Tradition means something more concrete and specific than this. It means the books of the Bible; it means the Creed; it means the decrees of the Ecumenical Councils and the writings of the Holy Fathers; it means the canons, the service books, the holy icons — in fact, the whole system of doctrine, Church government, worship and art which Orthodoxy has articulated over the ages.

7. Why is it wrong to consider or speak of Tradition and Scripture as two different things?

In his book Orthodox Tradition and Modernism, Dr. Constantine Cavarnos gives a much more thorough examination of this matter than the textbook for this course. The professor makes the important point that the term Tradition has been used both in a narrow sense and in a broad sense.

In the narrow sense, Tradition designates only the unwritten divine word of Apostolic preaching that was not written in Holy Scripture, but was preserved in the Church and was written in the Proceedings of the Synods and in the books of the Holy Fathers. On the other hand, in the broad sense, Tradition includes only the unwritten divine word of Apostolic preaching and the written divine word (sc., the Old and New Testaments). It is in the broad sense that the Apostle Paul uses the word when he instructs: "Brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or letter" (2 Thes 2:15).

Dr. Cavarnos explains that before the canon of the New Testament was formed, the Fathers and teachers of the Church used the term Tradition in the broad sense. However, he says, "Since the time that the canon of the New Testament was formed, the term Tradition is usually employed in the narrower sense, to designate the unwritten divine work of Apostolic preaching" [p. 10].

Thus, while the narrow sense became the norm, it is not shown that this narrow sense is used exclusively. Question seven indicates that the broad usage (according to the distinction Cavarnos makes) is preferable, and the quotation in the previous answer shows that the textbook adheres to the broad understanding. When one thinks in this broader sense, Scripture and Tradition are not thought of as two different sources of the Christian faith, for there is only one source: Tradition. Scripture exists within Tradition and forms a part of Tradition.

8. What elements of Tradition does Orthodoxy consider to be absolute, unchanging and not subject to revision or being cancelled?

As noted in chapter two, the Bible, the Creed, and the doctrinal definitions handed down by the Ecumenical Councils are infallible. All of them have a permanent and irrevocable authority, one that is not subject to being revised or canceled.

9. The textbook makes a distinction between Tradition (being the actual content of Sacred Tradition) and tradition (long established customs). It points out that we must be prepared to critically examine our traditions (customs) and distinguish Tradition and tradition. A) Give a source of Scripture which warns us against making dogma of Tradition (long used customs), and a passage of Scripture which commands us to preserve faithfully the Apostolic Tradition. B) What two groups fell into extremism in this matter, and into what errors did their extremism lead them?

Many people who recognize the authority of Sacred Scripture regard Sacred Tradition with skepticism, even disdain. Part of the reason for this rejection stems from the fact that the word tradition carries the meaning of custom or habit, something which is not binding.

Fr. John Whiteford explains that the word translated as tradition in the New Testament is the Greek word paradosis, which means that which is transmitted or delivered. Scripture uses the word in two ways, and to emphasize the important distinction between these two ways, the textbook variously uppercases and lowercases the first letter of the word.

Fr. John shows that paradosis is first used when referring negatively to the false teachings of the Pharisees, because they disregarded the divine Tradition, the divine teaching, while the observed human traditions that contradicted God's law. Christ told them: "Ye leave the commandments of God, and hold fast to the traditions of men" (Mk 7:8, also 7:3,5). Also, in saying "making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which you have delivered," Christ was referring to pernicious and unlawful customs such as corban. When a man did not want to support his elderly parents, he made a false promise before the Pharisees that he would place his estate and possessions into corban, that is, that he would give it away as a sacrifice to God. Through this act, he was considered to have made a sacrifice to God, although in actual fact, he would give part of his estate to the Pharisees and retain the rest for himself, thereby leaving his elderly parents to the winds of fate. There were many such deplorable and unlawful traditions among the Pharisees, for Christ told them: "And many such like things do ye." It was these man-made traditions that Christ condemned by His words, not Sacred Tradition, which never contradicts divine commandments. (On the contrary, Tradition confirms and strengthens them). St. Paul likewise distinguishes between these two kinds of tradition, human and sacred. Concerning human traditions, he writes to the Colossians: "See to it that no one makes a prey of you by philosophy and empty deceit, according to the elemental spirits of the universe, and not according to Christ" (Col 2:8).

The same word paradosis, Fr. John continues, is used in a second sense to refer to authoritative Christian teaching, the essential Christian message (cf. 1 Cor 11:2, 2 Thes 2:15). Scripture commands the faithful to preserve Apostolic Tradition. As the Apostle Paul warns: "Guard the deposit" (1 Tim 6:20). Again to Timothy he writes: "And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also" (2 Tim 2:22). Also referring to Christian Tradition, the same Apostle states: "I praise you, brethren, that you remember me in all things and hold fast to the traditions [paradoseis] just as I delivered [paredoka] them to you" (1 Cor 11:2). He further instructs: "Now we command you, brethren ... that ye keep away from any brother who is living in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that ye have received from us" (1 Tim 3:6). Thus, Sacred Scripture legitimatizes Sacred Tradition and gives authority to it.

What makes the tradition of the Pharisees false and that of the Church true is the source. Christ made it clear what the source was of the traditions of the Pharisees was when He called them "the traditions of men" (Mk 7:8).

As for St. Paul, just where did he get these traditions in the first place? "I received from the Lord that which I delivered [paredoka] to you" (1 Cor 11:23).

From these and other scriptural passages that make a clear distinction between Sacred Tradition and human tradition, Sacred Tradition is placed on an incomparably higher level than human tradition. Sacred Tradition originates from God and is divine revelation, whereas human traditions originate from mankind and are the products of the human mind. Sacred Tradition was given to men by God, either directly (by Christ), or indirectly (through the prophets and Apostles). Sacred Tradition's incomparable superiority is due to its revelatory character.

While Sacred Scripture puts forth Sacred Tradition as divine and consequently a sure guide to our life, it demotes human tradition. It shows that we should always observe Sacred Tradition, whereas one should break with human tradition (human teaching and customs) whenever the latter is opposed to Sacred Tradition. An example is the evil practice of telling fortunes on the eve of Theophany and the New Year. The Church has persistently condemned and battled against this kind of tradition, and it always will.

The above mentioned Fr. John Whiteford, a former Protestant minister who is not an Orthodox priest, understands the trouble that Protestants have with Tradition, and he goes on to explain it further. He notes that:

What the Orthodox Church refers to when it speaks of the Apostolic Tradition is "the faith once delivered [paradotheise] unto the saints" (Jude 1:3). Its source is Christ, and it was delivered personally by Him to the Apostles through all that He said and did — which, if it all were written down, "the world itself could not contain the books that should be written" (Jn 21:25). The Apostles in turn delivered this Tradition to the entire Church. And the Church, being the repository of this treasure, thus became "the pillar and ground of the Truth" (1 Tim 3:15).

The testimony of the New Testament is clear on this point: the early Christians had both oral and written traditions which they received from Christ through the Apostles. For written tradition they at first had only portions — one local Church had an epistle, another perhaps a Gospel. Gradually these writings were gathered together into collections, and ultimately, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit in the Church, they became the New Testament. And how did these early Christians know which books were authentic and which were not — for... there were numerous spurious epistles and gospels claimed by heretics to have been written by the Apostles? It was the Apostolic Tradition that aided the Church in making this determination.

Protestants react violently to the idea of Holy Tradition simply because the only form of it they have generally encountered is the distorted concept of tradition found in Roman Catholicism. Contrary to the Roman view of tradition — which is personified by the pope, and develops new dogmas without Apostolic foundation, such as papal infallibility — the Orthodox do not believe Tradition changes or "develops."

Certainly when the Church is faced with a heresy, it may be forced to define more precisely the difference between truth and error; but the Truth is never altered. It may be said that Tradition expands or matures, but only in the sense that as the Church moves through history, it does not forget its experiences along the way. It remembers the saints that arise in it, and it preserves the writings of those who have accurately stated its faith. But the faith itself was "once delivered unto the saints" [Jude 1:3. Sola Scriptura: an Orthodox Analysis of the Cornerstone of Reformation Theology, pp. 17-19; emphasis added].

With regard to the second part of the question, both the Old Believers and the so-called Living Church fell into extremism in their views on Sacred Tradition and human tradition. The Old Believers (Old Ritualists is more accurate) were a group in Russia who went into schism from the Russian Church over liturgical reforms introduced in the mid-seventeenth century. This group fell into extreme conservatism which would allow no changes in tradition, that is, in non-essential customs inherited from the past. The Living Church, on the other hand, was a schismatic organization approved and supported by the Communist regime, fell into a modernism or theological liberalism which struck at the very roots of Sacred Tradition. The believers of crucified Russia rejected the Living Church decisively.

10. What divine promise forms the basis of the Orthodox devotion to Holy Tradition?

The divine promise is Christ's promise that "when the Spirit of Truth has come, He will guide you in all truth" (Jn 16:13).

11. Summarize the source and meaning of Holy Tradition.

Holy Tradition originates from God. Dr. Constantine Cavarnos explains that it is a divine revelation, that is, a supernatural disclosure by God to people of otherwise unknowable truths. The same writer adds that this revelation is shown in Old Testament phrases such as "Thus saith the Lord," "And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying." In the New Testament, this character of divine revelation appears not only in the Gospels, where Christ speaks, but also in the Revelation of St. John, which begins with the words: "The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him," and in the Acts of the Apostles and the epistles, especially those of St. Paul. Paul often stresses that his teaching is not his own, nor of the wise of the world, but is teaching from God. To the Corinthians he writes: "Yet we speak wisdom... not that of this age nor of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to perish; but we speak the wisdom of God that is a mystery and hidden... which God has revealed to us through His Spirit" (1 Cor 2:6-10).

Dr. Cavarnos notes that it is precisely this revelatory character that distinguishes Christianity from the various and countless systems that the human intellect has devised — religious, philosophical, ethical and social systems. Elder Cleopa of Romania states the same and stresses that the teachings of the Church of Christ are safeguarded by the Holy Spirit and cannot err, and that the Founder of the Church, Christ, governs it in an unseen way until the end of the ages. Elsewhere the elder notes that Holy Tradition is God-given and that it is the life of the Church in the Holy Spirit. He adds that:

Holy Tradition is neither a tradition of men, nor a philosophy, nor some kind of trickery, but is the word of God that He delivered to us personally.... Some counsel weaker Christians to slander and abandon the Apostolic and Evangelical traditions, without understanding that Holy Scripture itself is a fruit of the Holy Spirit that grew out of the roots and tree of Holy Tradition [The Truth of Our Faith, pp. 56-57].

Elder Cleopa likewise explains that:

The Church of Christ determined the truths of the faith according to the long course of Tradition, through the teachings and canons of the holy Ecumenical Councils, decrees and the Symbol of Faith [the Creed], and with confessions [of faith] by holy and wonderworking hierarchs such as were made at the many local synods which have been held continuously since the days of old. At these synods the authenticity and genuineness of the holy Orthodox faith was firmly established, primarily therein where it was attacked by the existing heresies of the time. From the totality of such synods appears the irrevocable and inalterable content of Holy Tradition. This is understood when you examine closely the essence of the following conditions:

When a tradition does not fulfill these stipulations, it cannot be considered true and holy, and consequently cannot be considered admissible or fit to be observed [Ibid., p. 58].

The same elder concludes that:

We must uphold with great reverence and godliness Holy Tradition since all that is needful to effect our salvation is not found within Holy Scripture. Holy Scripture instructs us to do many things; however, it does not make manifest to us the light. For example, it instructs us to be baptized, but it doesn't explain to us the method. Likewise, it guides us to confess our sins, receive Communion, be crowned (married) — but nowhere does it specify the rite of carrying out these Mysterion (Sacraments). Furthermore, it instructs us to pray, but doesn't tell us how, where and when.... Where in Scripture are we told the words of the epiclesis (invocation) of the Holy Spirit for the sanctification of the all-holy Mysteries? Which teaching from Holy Scripture instructs us to bless the water of Baptism and the holy Unction of holy Chrismation? Which passage in Scripture teaches us about the threefold denunciation and the renunciations of Satan before holy Baptism? The prayer of glorification toward the Holy Trinity — "Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit" — from which passage did it come to us?

Posing these questions to the slanderer of Tradition, St. Basil the Great says: "If we consent to abandon the unwritten traditions on the pretext that they don't have great worth, we err in great and elevated matters, rejecting the Gospel."

The ordering, therefore, by which the Church upholds the unwritten is: whatever is of Apostolic descent and is practiced by the Fathers receives the validity of Tradition and has the power of law in the Church of Christ. Accordingly, therefore, it must be safeguarded since its importance and benefit springs from the relationship that exists between it and Holy Scripture. It is true that both have remained within a reciprocal unity and intimate relationship — a relationship based on the fact that both comprise the holy revelation of God for us are the fount and source of Revelation. Hence, it is not possible for there to exist an inner contradiction between the two or for us to exclude one from the other. Holy Scripture possesses its unique witness of the scriptural canon and its dogmatic character (its divine inspiration) only in and with Holy Tradition, while Holy Tradition is able to prove the authenticity of its truth only together with Holy Scripture [Ibid., pp. 64-65].

As previously noted, according to the broader sense of the term Tradition, Holy Scripture is a part of Tradition. These two parts of Tradition — the written and unwritten word — are considered by the Ecumenical Councils and the Holy Fathers to be of equal authority. As St. Basil the Great instructs:

Of the dogmas and proclamations preserved in the Church, some we possess from written teaching, while others we have received in secret from the Tradition of the Apostles; these have the same validity for true religion [On the Holy Spirit, 27, PG 32:188A; emphasis added].

St. John Chrysostom likewise writes:

[The Apostles] have not handed down everything in writing, but have also delivered many things in unwritten form. The former and latter are equally trustworthy, and so we also consider the [unwritten] Tradition of the Church to be trustworthy. It is Tradition — seek no further [On 2 Thessalonians, Homily 4, PG 62:488; emphasis added].

Also bearing special witness to the existence of a rich Apostolic Tradition are the words of St. John the Theologian:

And there are also many other things which Jesus did, that which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. — Jn 21:25

Patristic writings indicate what the content is of the unwritten Apostolic Tradition. St. Basil the Great mentions: (1) that we make the sign of the Cross; (2) that we look to the east when we pray; (3) that we do not kneel in our prayers on Sunday throughout Pentecost; (4) that each person is baptized with three immersions and emersions; (5) the renunciation of Satan and his angels in Baptism; (6) the confession of faith in Father, Son and Holy Spirit, word for word in this way; and (7) the words which the priest utters at the change of the bread and wine of the Divine Eucharist [On the Holy Spirit, chap. 27, PG 32:188-89, 192-93].

St. Dionysius the Aeropagite (+96), a disciple of the Apostle Paul (Acts 17:34) and the first bishop of Athens, similarly indicates that secret prayers, which sanctify and accomplish the Holy Mysteries (Sacraments), are a part of the unwritten Tradition. He writes:

It is not permitted to interpret in writing the consecrating invocations or their mystical meaning, or to bring out from secrecy to the public the powers worked by God in them; but as our Sacred Tradition holds, when you have learned them thoroughly by secret instructions... you will be uplifted by the illumination which is originative of perfection toward the highest knowledge of them [Concerning the Ecclesiastical Hierarchy, 1, PG 3:565C].

In his defense of holy icons, St. John of Damascus writes that it is Apostolic Tradition that we make icons of Christ and the saints, and that we venerate them by honoring them. He gives other examples of the unwritten Tradition of the Holy Apostles as well: the veneration of the Cross and the practice of turning to the east when praying, and he states that "the Apostles have handed down many things to us unwritten." [Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith, IV.16, PG 94:1172C-1173B; cf. 1304-05.] The Holy Fathers likewise give other examples of the unwritten Tradition: the fast on Wednesday and Friday, the composition of the services (especially the Divine Liturgy), the manner of celebrating the Holy Mysteries, and the practice of having memorial services to commemorate the faithful reposed.

Protopresbyter Michael Pomazansky writes that the ancient Church carefully guarded the inward life of the Church from those outside it. The Holy Mysteries were secret, being kept from non-Christians. When these Mysteries were performed — Baptism and the Eucharist — those outside the Church were not present; the order of the services was not written down, but was only transmitted orally; and in what was preserved in secret was contained the essential side of the faith.

During the era of freedom and triumph of the Church in the fourth century, however, almost all of the Tradition received a written form and is now preserved in the literature of the Church, which comprises a supplement to the Holy Scriptures. The same Fr. Michael notes that the following are included in this sacred ancient Tradition: (1) the most ancient record of the Church, the Canons of the Holy Apostles; (2) the Symbols of Faith of the ancient local Churches; (3) the ancient Liturgies, the rite of Baptism and other ancient prayers; (4) the ancient Acts of the Christian Martyrs. The Acts of the Martyrs did not enter into use by the faithful until they had been examined and approved by the local bishops, and they were read at public gatherings of Christians under the supervision of the leaders of the Churches. In them is seen the confession of the All-Holy Consubstantial Trinity, the Divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ, examples of the invocation of the saints, of belief in the conscious life of those who had reposed in Christ, and much else; (5) the ancient records of the history of the Church, especially the book of Eusebius Pamphilus, Bishop of Caesarea, where there are gathered many ancient traditions of rite and dogma — in particular, there is given the canon of the sacred books of the Old and New Testaments; (6) the works of the ancient Fathers and teachers of the Church; and finally, (7) the very spirit of the Church's life, the preservation of faithfulness to all her foundations which come from the Holy Apostles.

Fr. Michael writes that the witness of Sacred Tradition is indispensable for our certainty that all of the books of Sacred Scripture have been handed down to us from Apostolic times and are of Apostolic origin. Sacred Tradition is also necessary for the correct understanding of separate passages of Sacred Scripture, and for refuting heretical reinterpretations of it, and, in general, so as to avoid superficial, one-sided, and sometimes even prejudiced and false interpretations of it. Again, Fr. Michael notes, Sacred Tradition is necessary because some truths of faith are expressed in a completely definite form in Scripture, while others are not entirely clear and precise and therefore demand confirmation by Sacred Tradition. Lastly, Sacred Scripture (part of Sacred Tradition) is valuable because from it, we see how the whole order of Church organization, the canons, the divine services and rites, are rooted in and founded upon the way of life of the ancient Church. Therefore, Fr. Michael concludes, the preservation of Tradition expresses the succession of the very essence of the Church.

Protestants deny the unwritten Sacred Tradition and accept only written Tradition, Holy Scripture. Commenting on this matter, Dr. Constantine Cavarnos gives this insight:

The rejection of unwritten Tradition on [the part of Protestants] is a superficial and disastrous act. It is superficial because it disregards the fact that Holy Scripture, which the Protestants generally accept as divinely inspired, is a product of oral Tradition, since the writings which constitute Holy Scripture were handed down in the Church only around the end of the Apostolic period. In order to be consistent, they ought to discard Holy Scripture also as a divine revelation. Some Protestants have done this and have ceased to be Christians except in name. The denial of unwritten Tradition on the part of Protestantism was something ruinous, because it was the rejection of a treasury which is most necessary for salvation [Orthodox Tradition and Modernism, p. 13].

Protopriest Victor Potapov also addresses Protestantism's rejection of Apostolic Tradition. He explains that:

All of Protestantism's erroneous repudiations have as a basis the no less erroneous repudiation of Sacred Tradition by the Protestants. They strive to lean only on Sacred Scripture, not realizing to what extent both constitute one undivided whole. The Protestants arbitrarily limit the action of the Holy Spirit in the Church to Apostolic times, and that is why they consider all Church enactments that have appeared definitively after the Apostles as purely human. At the same time, they forget that even the very composition of the books comprising Sacred Scripture was determined considerably after the death of the Apostles. The Protestants also forget, or prefer not to remember, that the oral preaching of Christianity (that is, the oral Tradition) preceded the inscription of the New Testament.

Or, recognizing Sacred Tradition until the time of the definitive composition of the books of the New Testament in the second century, the Protestants have difficulty agreeing that the Holy Spirit, abiding in the Church as in the Body of Christ, did not cease to safeguard and vivify the true meaning of Sacred Scripture in the following centuries as well.

According to the Orthodox teaching, Sacred Scripture is the fundamental monument of Sacred Tradition and contains the fullness of the divine revelation. But the Holy Spirit, Who inspired the Apostles and Evangelists in their oral and written evangelism, guides the Holy Church even now, promoting the understanding and assimilation of Christ's Church [Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy].

Even though Protestants do not acknowledge it to be so, when they accept the doctrine of the Holy Trinity and the doctrine of the two natures of Christ, they are unwittingly accepting the teaching of the Orthodox Church's Sacred Scriptures, and they are accepting the teaching of Orthodoxy's Holy Fathers, its oral Tradition, its Creed, and the dogmatic definitions propounded at its Seven Ecumenical Councils. These things are so because the New Testament came out of Orthodox Christianity's Holy Tradition and is inseparable from it. Thus, when Protestants refer to the books of the New Testament as "the Word of God," once again they are accepting the common practices of the Orthodox Church and the decisions of Orthodoxy's Ecumenical Councils as to which books were included in the New Testament and which were rejected. Many Protestants are painfully unaware of how it is that Christians have come to believe in certain things. They do not realize that the history of doctrine is the history of the Orthodox Church, and they do not realize that without Orthodoxy's Ecumenical Councils, various other doctrines assumed to be "biblical" would not have been effectively defended against heresy as they are not clearly stated in the Bible.

In the Roman Catholic view of Tradition, new dogmas without Apostolic foundation are developed, such as the heresy of papal infallibility. Rome's scholastic theology teaches that through the ages there is a greater deepening of the dogmas of the faith and that they are still developing further. This teaching is not the Orthodox teaching. The Orthodox understanding of Tradition — and noteworthy, it is the understanding that prevailed earlier in the Latin Church prior to its separation from the ancient Apostolic Church in 1054 — is that Tradition is unchanging and does not "develop" (inasmuch as God does not change), and that Tradition is known by its catholicity (or universality), that is, that it is something accepted everywhere in the Church. On the day of Pentecost, the Apostles reached deification, experienced revelation, and so reached the whole Truth. Revelation is not altered with the passage of time. As Protopresbyter Michael Pomazansky explains:

The Church's consciousness from the Apostles down to the end of the Church's life, being guided by the same Holy Spirit, in its essence is one and the same. Christian teaching and the scope of divine revelation are unchanging. The Church's teaching of faith does not develop, and the Church's awareness of itself, with the course of the centuries, does not become higher, deeper, and broader than it was among the Apostles. There is nothing to add to the teaching of faith handed down by the Apostles. Although the Church is always guided by the Holy Spirit, still we do not see in the history of the Church, and we do not expect, new dogmatic revelations [Orthodox Dogmatic Theology, pp. 357-58].

The Apostle to the nations commands: "Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle" (2 Thes 2:15). Only the Orthodox Church has remained a faithful keeper of Tradition and has preserved the sacred deposit (1 Tim 6:20 and 2 Tim 1:14) as the Apostles have handed it down. Tradition in Orthodoxy has a living continuity with the Church of ancient times and has been handed down to us as a treasure from generation to generation, from the time of the Apostles. Each generation receives and guards this inheritance for future generations, neither adding anything to it, nor taking anything away. The Holy Fathers have emphasized this loyalty to Tradition, as have Orthodox theologians. As Basil Ioannidis, former professor at the Universities of Athens and Thessalonica, states:

The Orthodox Church possesses full and unaltered the teaching and the tradition of the one, ancient and undivided Church.... She has not altered anything of what she has received [Quoted in Constantine Cavarnos, Orthodox Tradition and Modernism, p. 14].

Importantly, distinguished theologians of Western Christianity admit to the traditional character of the Orthodox Church. E. Seeberg, a Protestant professor at the University of Berlin, writes:

The Orthodox Church is the one Church, the Catholic Church, the Apostolic Church. She has remained faithful to the Apostolic teaching and the Apostolic canons, and through uninterrupted succession has preserved undiminished the connection to the Apostles [Ibid.].

The Roman Catholic theologian Julius Tyciak adds:

For the Eastern Church, Tradition is everything. She wants to be the Church of Tradition, the Church of the ancient times [Ibid.].

Dr. Constantine Cavarnos explains that it is to the Ecumenical Councils and Holy Fathers that we owe the preservation and guarding of Sacred Tradition, which the Lord gave, and the Apostles proclaimed, and upon which the Orthodox Church is founded. The Ecumenical Councils made wide use of Apostolic Tradition, stressing its values and taking measures to preserve and proclaim it in their definitions. Dr. Cavarnos further explains that the Holy Fathers also energetically contended for the preservation and predominance of the Apostolic Tradition without additions or subtractions. A sizeable number of the Fathers contended through the Ecumenical Councils. Characteristic of the line that the Fathers maintained in this regard are the words of St. Athanasius the Great: "I have taught according to the Apostolic faith handed down to us by the Fathers, devising nothing outside it" [Ibid].

Dr. Cavarnos points out that an astonishing concord exists in the teaching of the Greek Fathers. This harmony stems from the fact that they completely assimilated Sacred Tradition and followed the vital principle of transmitting it without modernization, without external inventions. The eminent eighteenth-century theologian Eugenios Voulgaris emphasized this accord among the Fathers in his observation that:

The Fathers and teachers of our Church agree on all the dogmas, are unanimous on all, and differ on none, but form a harmonious melody in the Church as from many voices, precisely because the Truth is one, and discord never enters into it. Where there is the illumination and operation of the Holy Spirit, there is concord [Ibid., pp. 14-15].

Dr. Cavarnos goes on to note that while Orthodoxy has always seen its unchanging persistence in Sacred Tradition as its boast, Western Christians (with some exceptions) have looked upon this persistence as a sign of decline, a sign of deficiency in its inner life. Protestants, for example, have likened Orthodoxy to a "petrified mummy." However, such an accusation shows to what degree Western Christians confuse the revealed faith with different worldly systems, with the different human contrivances and creations. Since in the sciences and crafts there is a continual development and perfection, the heterodox feel the same thing should happen in the Christian religion, that here too there should be a continuous change, revision and replacement of the old with the new — in a word, modernization. Seeing Christianity from a rationalistic standpoint, they do not understand its revelatory character, but demote it to the level of those systems that the human mind has formed on the basis of human reason and the observation of the five senses. Speaking against this error in 1756, Eugenics Voulgaris wrote:

The faith does not alter with the times, it does not deteriorate from circumstances, it does not grow old, but remains always the same, both old and new. Why do these new theologians [the Roman Catholics] dare to change what cannot be changed? We know that the dogmas of faith are more dubious the newer they are, and more genuine and certain the older they are, just as the farther away waters are from their sources the more dirty and turbid they are, and the closer they are to their sources the purer they are [Ibid., p. 16].

In 1820, Adamantios Koraes observed:

[Our] religion, which is above reason, does not resemble the rational sciences or arts. [These] sciences and arts, the work of the human mind, are perfected with the progress of time, insofar as its rational power is perfected by philosophy. [Christianity], the work of God, is, on the contrary, corrupted, insofar as it is separated in time from its first proclamation, if its leaders do not take care to guard it intact, as a deposit entrusted to them by its Author [Ibid].

Placing similar emphasis on the divine provenance of the Orthodox faith and excluding innovations, Neophytos Doukas wrote in 1845 that:

The things of the Church taught and enacted by the Holy Apostles, and by the Holy Fathers gathered together in the [seven] Synods, since they were illumined by the All-Holy Spirit, are unalterable; no one can add or subtract anything from them, or transform them.... Just as the Divine Legislator dictated them many years ago, so they should remain unchanged unto all ages [Ibid].

Dr. Cavarnos explains that the immobility of death did not accompany Orthodoxy's strict adherence to Tradition as Western Christians maintained it would. On the contrary, it brought the vibrancy of life in Christ. In an 1884 letter to the French Jansenist Pierre Leclerc, Voulgaris spoke about the martyrs and other saints, equal to the ancients, and how Orthodoxy possesses the bounty of miracles unceasingly. He continued: "Our Church is continuously glorified and made wondrous by God, no less after the Schism than before it, and up to our times" [Ibid., p. 17].

Also proclaiming Orthodoxy's great vibrancy of life was a serious student of Orthodoxy, John Brownlie, who was a distinguished Anglican hymnologist. He made the following observations:

They tell us that the Greek Church is a dead Church without missionary zeal. But how can a Church be characterized as not missionary, which stretched our her hands to the Far East, giving the blessings of the Gospel to the Tartars and the Indians; in a southerly direction, putting up the Cross in Arabia, Persia and Egypt; and in a northerly direction, spreading the light to the ends of Siberia? How can a Church be called dead, which engaged in hand-to-hand combat with idolatry, not only in the first centuries, but also in the last six centuries, under the abominable superstition of the Turks, preserving her faith in Christ throughout this interval? No Church offered so many martyrs to the Christian faith.... If under the persistent, ceaseless persecution — not for generations, but for centuries — a Church can maintain her faith and preserve her witness, then the term dead cannot be applied to her [Ibid].

Thus, Professor Cavarnos continues, the strict perseverance in Tradition does not at all result in the deadening of the Church. On the contrary, it is absolutely necessary for the preservation and fruitfulness of the life of the Church. The professor further observes that it is the disregard and abandonment of Tradition that causes a slackening of life and the gradual decomposition of a Church. The history of the Western Church gives the most persuasive witness to this fact, for there, one novelty and modernization after another was introduced, chiefly from the time of the Great Schism of 1054 and after. The breaking away of the Western Church from the Apostolic Church was the result of the Western Church's innovations. The subsequent revolution of the Protestants, which split the Western Church into warring parties, took place because of the downfall of the Western Church, a downfall that occurred as a direct consequence of its distortion of Sacred Tradition.

Notwithstanding that downfall, the introduction of innovations and novelties continued in the West. At the end of the nineteenth century, for instance, from amidst the decaying ruins of Western Christianity, a movement appeared in the bosom of the Roman Catholic Church. This was the movement of Modernism, or Modernization, which had as its goal the "renovation" of Christian teaching by adapting it to contemporary worldly thought. The representatives of this movement inflicted incredible damage on Christian doctrine, thinking that through this means they would revivify their Church. However, the result of this discarding truths of the faith and making "adaptations" was that large numbers of people became unbelievers and stopped going to church.

Protestantism, for its part in having denied Tradition, divided into myriad splinter groups. All the differing confessional groups within Protestantism are the result of differing innovations and adaptations to each "contemporary spirit."

Fr. John Whiteford explains that in the writings of the Holy Fathers, innovation and novelty are synonymous with heresy, for the faith which was "once delivered to the saints" (Jude 1:3) does not change. Thus, if something is at variance with what the Church has believed always (since Apostolic times), it cannot be the authentic teaching of the Church. As the Apostle Paul admonished:

Jesus Christ: the same yesterday, and today, and forever. Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines (Heb 13:8-9).

Fr. John continues, noting that if any belief has not been received by the Church in its history, then this is heresy, which is like some foreign contagion introduced into the body of the Church. The Church in turn reacts, as any body with a healthy immune system would react, to ward off these novel diseases.

To summarize, Sacred Tradition is the Tradition which comes from the ancient Church of Apostolic times. It is the faith that Christ imparted to the Apostles, the central Christian message, which from the Apostles' time has been handed down unchanged from generation to generation of Orthodox Christians. Sacred Tradition is the witness of the Holy Spirit, and it is the life of the Church as it is inspired by the Holy Spirit, for as Christ promised, the Holy Spirit is to guide the Church in Truth. Apostolic Tradition is found in what the Church has believed everywhere, always (since Apostolic times and throughout history), and by all. Therein is the Truth.

12. List the seven written or external expressions of Tradition given in the textbook.

The textbook explains that these two expressions of Tradition are preeminent and hold first place. Also included in Tradition are:

13. From where does the Bible ultimately derive its authority?

The Bible was written within a time period of close to 1,500 years — that is, from Moses (1,400 years before Christ), until the writer of the Apocalypse, St. John the Theologian (nearly 100 years after Christ). A Romanian priest explains that the Orthodox Church recognizes that together with the entire content of Apostolic preaching, Sacred Scripture was produced under divine inspiration. He further expounds that Scripture is the result of a collaboration of a divine-human synergism whose internal working ever remains a mystery. The Bible's principal author is God Himself, but it was written down by divinely inspired sacred writers. As other writers explain, Scripture was produced by the energy of the Holy Spirit, for "all Scripture is given by the inspiration of God" (2 Tim 3:16). Thus, the words of Scripture are the words of the Holy Spirit.

The Bible ultimately derives its authority from the Orthodox Church, which is the Body of Christ (Eph 1:23, 5:23) and the pillar and ground of the Truth (1 Tim 3:15). The Orthodox Church is the means by which God wrote the Scriptures. In other words, the Holy Spirit inspired the prophets and Apostles to author the various books of the Bible. Moreover, the Orthodox Church is the means by which God preserved the Scriptures. That is, the Holy Spirit inspired Orthodoxy's Holy Fathers to canonize Scripture, or to determine which books form a part of Scripture. And again, the Holy Spirit continually inspired the Church to interpret Scripture "for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness" (2 Tim. 3:16).

Christ is the center of the whole of Holy Scripture, both the Old and New Testaments. He is the axis around which all Scripture turns, the alpha and the omega. About Him God the Father speaks, as do angels, Apostles, patriarchs, prophets, kings and righteous ones. The prophetic messages of the Old Testament all proclaim that the Messiah is coming, the Savior and Redeemer of the world. The books of the New Testament contain the saving message, and its teachings are summarized in the Gospel message that the Savior has come and that He is Christ. Lastly, in the last book of the New Testament Scriptures is the stirring message that Christ will come again to judge humanity. All that the writers of Scripture said and arranged together gives a wondrous picture of our Lord Jesus Christ. They did so because God illuminated them and guided them to write down their prophecies.

As noted in chapter one, the Orthodox Church is subdivided into the Old Testament and the New Testament, although they both constitute one organic whole representing the divine plan for the salvation of mankind. Thus, it is incorrect to maintain that the modern Jewish religion is responsible for the Old Testament Scriptures, for modern Judaism is not the same religion as the Old Testament religion. Modern Judaism has changed. The Old Testament is a foreshadowing of the New Testament, and the true Jews of the Old Testament are a foreshadowing of Christians, for the Old Testament Jews lived spiritually in expectation of Christ the Saviour, the Messiah. (On the other hand, the enemies of the Jews in the Old Testament are the foreshadowing of contemporary Judaism, the very foundation of that religion being a rejection of Christ).

Concerning the Old Testament Scriptures, Protopresbyter Michael Pomazansky makes the following important notations:

In accepting the Old Testament Sacred Scriptures, the Church has shown that she is the heir of the Old Testament Church — not the national aspect of Judaism, but of the religious content of the Old Testament. In this heritage, some things have an eternal significance and value, but others have ceased to exist and are significant only as recollections of the past and for edification as prototypes, as, for example, the regulations concerning the tabernacle and sacrifices, and the prescriptions for the Israelites' daily conduct. Therefore, the Church makes use of her Old Testament heritage quite authoritatively, in accordance with her understanding of the world, which is more complete than and superior to that of ancient Israel ["The Old Testament in the New Testament Church," Selected Essays, p. 170].

The textbook explains that Orthodoxy regards the Bible as the verbal icon of Christ, the Seventh Ecumenical Council laying down that the Book of the Gospels and the holy icons should be venerated in the same way. The Gospel Book, its cover usually gold plated, is kept in a place of honor in the altar of every church. It is also carried in procession at the Liturgy and Matins on Sundays and feasts, and the faithful kiss it and prostrate themselves before it. Such is the respect shown in the Orthodox Church for the Word of God.

14. Who alone can interpret Holy Scripture with authority?

The Apostle Peter warns that "no prophecy of Scripture is of private interpretation" (2 Peter 1:20). Likewise, St. Cyprian of Carthage instructs that private interpretation of Scripture proves that a person or local congregation is not a part of the true Church of Christ. Thus, it is the Orthodox Church, which is the divine-human Body of Christ, that not only writes Holy Scripture, but interprets it as well. Moreover, only the Orthodox Church is able to interpret Holy Scripture with authority. An individual reader, however sincere he might be, falls into the danger of error if he trusts his own personal interpretations with regard to some of the Bible's many sayings that by themselves are far from clear. The reason for this danger is because, as St. Basil the Great explains, "Purity of heart is necessary in order to recognize that which is hidden in Holy Scripture." The Russian Schema-abbot John of Valaam Monastery helps explain:

Holy Scripture can be understood rightly only by the pure in heart, for they comprehend the will and purpose of God in the Scripture, but for people with hearts unpurified of passions it is a stumbling block.... The Lord said: "Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God" (Mt 6:8). And the Holy Fathers purified their hearts of passions. They rightly know the will of God revealed in Holy Scripture, but those who have not purified their hearts of passions cannot rightly understand the Scripture, and such people stumble over it, turn away from the right path and go in different directions. One could say that they leave the big ship and sit down in a frail boat and want to sail across the sea of life, and they are perishing in the waves of vain sophistries [Fr. John, Christ in Our Midst: Letters from a Russian Monk, pp. 58-59].

Likewise commenting on the interpretation of Scripture, the nineteenth-century Russian bishop, St. Ignatii Brianchaninov (+1867), admonishes:

Do not dare to interpret the Gospel or other books of Holy Scripture by yourself. The holy prophets and Apostles pronounced Scripture. It was pronounced not arbitrarily but by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:21). How then is it not senseless to interpret it arbitrarily? The Holy Spirit, Who, through the prophets and Apostles pronounced the Word of God, interpreted it through the Holy Fathers. Both the Word of God and its interpretation are a gift of the Holy Spirit. This interpretation alone is accepted by the Orthodox Church! This interpretation alone is accepted by her true children!

Whoever explains the Gospel and all of Scripture arbitrarily, by this very act, rejects its interpretation by the Holy Fathers, by the Holy Spirit. Whoever rejects the interpretation of Scripture by the Holy Spirit, without any doubt, rejects also Holy Scripture itself.

And it happens that the Word of God, the Word of salvation, is for its audacious interpreters an order of death, a two-edged sword by which they stab themselves to eternal destruction (2 Peter 3:16, 2 Cor 2:15-16). By it did Arius, Nestorius, Eutychius and other heretics slay themselves eternally, having fallen into blasphemy by arbitrary and audacious interpretation of Scripture [On Reading the Gospel ; emphasis added].

The same bishop adds:

The writings of the Holy Fathers are all composed under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.... Do not consider it sufficient for yourself to read the Gospel alone, without the reading of the Holy Fathers! Many people... who have senselessly and presumptuously rejected the Holy Fathers, who have come without any intermediary, with a blind audacity, with an impure mind and heart to the Gospel, have fallen into fatal delusion. The Gospel has rejected them: it grants access to itself only to the humble.... From the reading of the Fathers' writings we learn the true understanding of Holy Scripture [Ibid].

The depths of the words of the Holy Spirit, that is, Holy Scripture, contain within them unanswerable passages, or as St. Gregory of Nyssa puts it, "strong bones." Those depths may be understood only by those who have received the grace of the Holy Spirit. These individuals are the holy ascetics, whose understanding has been opened by God "that they might understand the Scriptures" (Lk 24:45). On the other hand, "The carnal man cannot comprehend it" (1 Cor 2:14). Since most people fall into this second category, the Church comes to our aid by giving us the spiritual explanation of Scriptures.

The Apostles received the gift of understanding the Scriptures, especially after the Holy Spirit descended upon them in the form of tongues of fire. And every faithful servant of God, every person who makes himself worthy of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, receives this same gift, according to his spiritual stature. To the degree that a person cleanses himself from the passions, to the degree that he turns aside from his self-will and submits himself to God's will by forcing himself to fulfill God's commandments, to the same degree does he make himself worthy to receive God's gifts. Among these gifts is the understanding of the spiritual meaning of Scriptures.

The Holy Fathers took the narrow path of salvation. They purified their hearts and souls of earthly attachments and human passions, they cleansed themselves by great ascetic deeds and unceasing prayer, they fulfilled the commandments, and they obeyed the divine injunction: "Be ye holy, as I am holy." Through such a life, they received God's mercy, and they received the gift of the spiritual explanation of the Scriptures. Although the Holy Spirit did not descend visibly on them in the form of tongues of fire, they still received these gifts. Many Holy Fathers and ascetics of the Church have written commentaries on various books of the Scriptures, and these commentaries entered the Church's treasury of spiritual wisdom. To this day, all the Church's faithful members nourish themselves on these writings.

Also commenting on the Church's interpretation of Scriptures, a Russian monk explains that:

Anyone who has ever read the works of the Holy Fathers has been impressed by their astonishing unity of thought. Living in different countries, in different periods of time, the Holy Fathers had the same outlook, the same perspective. Clearly, it is one and the same Spirit that acted and spoke through them all. Whosoever desires to comprehend the wisdom of the Holy Scriptures would do well if he does not trust his own powers but, "casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ" (2 Cor 10:5), would humbly accept the wisdom from the Church's treasury. The mind of the Church is the mind of Christ. "We have the mind of Christ" (1 Cor 2:16). What can be more beneficial for us? To receive from the Church the true understanding of things, or to proudly remain in our delusions? For this reason all true servants of Christ prefer to accept the wisdom of the Church and to shun their own as useless. Only under this condition can we fulfill the commandment of the Apostle Paul concerning likemindedness among Christians: "I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you: but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment" (1 Cor 1:10); "fulfill ye my joy, that ye be likeminded" (Phil 2:2). And in many other places the holy Apostle speaks of this same likemindedness. From this it is clear what great importance he placed on this subject. And this is understandable: only given such likemindedness can there be preserved "the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace" (Eph 4:3). Only given this is true love possible among Christians. If there is no likemindedness, there will be only quarrels, disagreements and divisions. Writing to the Galatians, the Apostle Paul says that while he was there among them, they looked at things through his eyes (Gal 4:15). We too should look at things with the eyes of the Church. If we look with the eyes of our own unenlightened mind, each of us will see and understand in our own way. And the result will be — division.

To many it seems an inconceivable constraint for the mind to renounce its own judgments and submit itself to the judgments of the Church. But this is only an apparent constraint. St. Paul writes to the Corinthians: "Ye are not straitened in us, but ye are straitened in your own bowels" (2 Cor 6:12). So it is with us: it is not constraining for us in the Church, but only seemingly, since we have become accustomed to the evil and falsehood of this world and do not want to renounce them. We must convince ourselves that in accepting the mind of the Church we accept truth and in this way we draw closer to Christ, Who is the Truth (Jn 14:16). These judgments of the Church concerning various matters, including commentary on Scripture, consisting chiefly of the works of the Holy Fathers ... belong to the sphere of Sacred Tradition, and all faithful members of the Church conform themselves to these judgments.

Clearly, in the area of Scripture commentary it is simply not possible to manage without Sacred Tradition. Otherwise each individual would have to interpret the entire body of Scripture from scratch. We see that every religious confession, every sect, has its traditional explanation of Scripture, or at least of certain parts, and one can say that these explanations are the tradition of that particular confession. The authors of these explanations are, for the most part, pastors and preachers. Is it not better to take the commentary of Holy Scripture from the ancient saints, who acquired the Holy Spirit and who have received testimony from above, than from people like ourselves? [Monk Anthony, "Sacred Tradition," Orthodox America, vol. 11, no. 4, p. 10].

Fr. Gregory Williams can therefore conclude:

We must look to the Church if we are to have any correct understanding of the Scripture.... Whenever man tries to rely upon his own reason, rather than upon God's wisdom as imparted in the Holy Church, heresy is the certain outcome ... separation from the Truth.

The writers of Scripture received their knowledge from divine vision — theoria in Greek. The Holy Fathers who commented on Scriptures were also partakers of the same divine theoria. Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos explains that through the centuries, there have appeared many heretical teachings that have distorted God's revealed Truth, that is, various false teachers elevated their minds above the mind of God. The Fathers confronted these heresies, he states, by the power of the Holy Spirit, for they are the bearers of the pure Tradition of the Church. The metropolitan also notes that calling the Church Apostolic refers (among other things) to the fact that the Church rests on the foundation of the Holy Apostles and the Holy Fathers, who are the Apostles' successors in nature and essence.

It is only our ignorance that allows us to consider ourselves more "enlightened" than the Holy Fathers. Even a cursory reading of their lives and the lives of the other saints will demonstrate that we are spiritually weak people, by comparison. Given the God-inspired teaching of the Holy Fathers, one can readily discern that the patristic mind represents no ordinary mind, but something enlightened from on high, an ineffably noble treasure. Recognizing that the Fathers have a spiritual wisdom that we lack, and also knowing the poverty and fallibility of our minds, we must realize that we are not free to interpret the divinely inspired text of Holy Scriptures as we please (something the heretics did). Instead, we must turn to the Fathers and Church Tradition to allow them to open our minds to accept God's revelation rather than our own ideas. We must interpret the Scriptures as the Holy Fathers teach, for the Fathers are the only sure interpreters of Scripture. By adhering to this practice, we are prevented from the mistake of interpreting the Bible according to our own mistaken understanding and opinion, and we are helped in partaking of the catholic consciousness of the Church. Through this practice, one is prevented from going out on a limb of one's own creation.

The idea that Holy Scripture is not to be interpreted privately, but as a Church, was given its classical definition by St. Vincent of Lerins in the fifth century, when all the West was still fully united to the Orthodox Church. This zealous Church Father of Western Orthodox Christianity gave the renowned Vincentian canon of universality, antiquity and consent — that is, that that doctrine is binding which is held "everywhere, always, and by all" (quod semper, quod ubique, quod ab omnibus creditum). St. Vincent wrote:

Since the canon of Scripture is complete and more than sufficient in itself, why is it necessary to add to it the authority of ecclesiastical interpretation?... Holy Scripture, because of its depth, is not universally accepted in one and the same sense. The same text is interpreted differently by different people, so that one may almost gain the impression that it can yield as many different meanings as there are men.

... Thus it is because of the great many distortions caused by various errors, it is indeed necessary that the trend of the interpretations of the prophetic and Apostolic writings be directed in accordance with the rule of ecclesiastical and catholic meaning.

In the Catholic [i.e., Universal — see note below] Church itself, every care should be taken to hold fast to what has been believed everywhere, always, and by all. This is truly and properly catholic, as indicated by the force and etymology of the name itself, which comprises everything truly universal.

This general rule will truly be applied if we follow the principles of universality, antiquity and consent. We do so in regard to universality if we confess that faith alone to be true which the Church confesses all over the world. [We do so] in regard to antiquity if we in no way deviate from those interpretations which our ancestors and fathers have manifestly proclaimed as inviolable. [We do so] in regard to consent if, in this very antiquity, we adopt the definitions of all, or almost all, of the bishops [As quoted in Fr. John Whiteford, Sola Scriptura... p. 39].

(Here it should be noted that from antiquity, the Christian Church chose the word catholic to signify one of the principle attributes of the Church: its universality. In the ancient Symbols of Faith, whenever the word Church appears, it is unfailingly used with the adjective catholic. Likewise, the term is constantly to be found in the Acts of all the Ecumenical Councils, as well as in the writings of the Fathers. In all of these places, the word is never used in the sense of Roman Catholic, but in its original sense, which, as Protopresbyter Michael Pomazansky explains, "signifies the highest degree of all-embracingness, all-inclusiveness, wholeness, fullness." As a footnote in this professor's Orthodox Dogmatic Theology notes, the name of catholic was kept from early times in the Roman Catholic Church, but the teaching of the early Church has been preserved in the Orthodox Church, which even to this day can be and still is called catholic. Moreover, as another writer adds, since catholic means universal, "Roman Catholic Church" is a contradiction in terms. Rome’s breaking away was in fact the departure into heresy and schism of only a fraction of the Church, and thus the "Catholic (Universal) Church" is wrongfully appropriated by Rome. Protopriest Victor Potapov further explains that from the ninth century, the Eastern and Western Churches have gone along very different paths. The appellations which they took speak of the aims pursued by them: the Eastern Church began calling itself Orthodox, underscoring thereby that its main aim is to preserve the Christian faith unharmed. At the same time, the Western Church began to call itself Catholic emphasizing thereby that its main aim is the unification of the entire Christian world under the omnipotence of the pope).

The Latino-Protestant tradition and its deviations from its former Orthodox heritage are not the main focus of this course. However, the Protestant deviation from the Orthodox understanding of the ecclesiastical interpretation of Scripture will be examined here since, carried to its final conclusion, it forms the basis of the tyrannical relativism of the modern ecumenical movement.

After the Latin Church severed itself from Apostolic Christianity and from the authority of Sacred Apostolic Tradition in 1054, the West was free to pursue its search for a new religion. At that time, a new element began to enter into Western thought: a growing emphasis on man rather than God. This development was seen almost immediately after the Great Schism, and it continued unchecked throughout subsequent centuries. As a result, the Western Church continuously moved away from the teachings of early Christianity, away from the light of the Gospel, and into the darkness of humanism.

Here it is necessary to pause on humanism, a doctrine that was born in the fourteenth-century Italian Renaissance with the rediscovery of the ancient classics. Humanism exalted the human intellect, fostered a critical spirit of inquiry, and beginning with man, and using man as the only integration point, it undertook to create a new philosophy of man. Humanism entails nothing less than Western man's dethroning God and placing man at the center of the universe in His stead. For this reason, humanism has been called the self-worship of man rather than God.

The prevailing intellectual current of the Renaissance was humanism. During this period, a "synthesis" was made of Latin Christianity and pagan thought. As Archpriest Alexey Young writes concerning this period:

We see this ["union"] in the writing of Dante and in the artistic creations of Michelangelo — for example, his frescoes in the Sistine Chapel. In art, these new concepts are particularly noticeable. For the first time, all artists began to make use of perspective — which is not wrong in and of itself, but which made it possible to place man in the center of space. It was a very optimistic, idealized concept of man. What man ever looked like Michael-angelo's David? This was not the Old Testament prophet and king; rather, it was a representation of the humanist ideal of man's "greatness." Religious art was now couched in completely human terms, at times actually blasphemous. For example, Fouquet's... painting, popularly called The Red Virgin [was] the king's mistress.... What could be more insulting to pious feelings? While the Virgin had for centuries been highly regarded, now all holiness was removed and representations of her were stripped of any "religious" meaning. Here we see how individual things were being viewed as more and more independent and divorced from reality.

The Renaissance is full of examples of this new emphasis on man to the exclusion of God. Whereas in the Middle Ages, artists had remained largely anonymous, and gave glory to God for their achievements, the Renaissance man identified himself as creator: a wonderful aura began to surround men of artistic genius. In Cellini's boastful autobiography (1558), he suggests that ordinary morality does not apply to geniuses like himself, an idea which has received lasting credence among Western artists. What demonic pride! Even the genre of biography strengthened man's faith in himself.

Not everyone, however, saw life in such overtly pagan terms. Some realized that it was indeed just that, a pagan "cloud" which ultimately could never support a meaningful philosophy of life. In Leonardo da Vinci we discover that at the end of his life, at the very height of humanism, he began to see where humanism would end. Da Vinci realized that, starting with man, one would never arrive at any ultimate meaning, and once the meaning and purpose of existence had been lost, man was no more than a machine, a collection of molecules — which is precisely the conclusion of many thinkers today. It is no wonder that da Vinci, who lost all Christian hope, spent the last years of his life in a state of advanced depression.

But if men like da Vinci were finally able to see the logical conclusion of humanism, most others did not, and mankind was held fast in the grip of humanism. Even today we still hear echoes of it: "I can do whatever I will, just give me enough time." This is fallen man speaking. And once man has placed himself at the center of the universe, independent of everything else, it was almost impossible to dislodge him; the most powerful patrons of art in Europe, the Renaissance popes, themselves fully supported this neo-paganism [The Great Divide: the West Severs Itself From Its Orthodox Roots: an Historical Overview, pp. 13-14].

During the ensuing period of the falsely-called Enlightenment, humanist thinkers perpetuated the Renaissance fascination with pagan ideas. Among those pagan ideas was that of rationalism — the assumption that by the use of intellect alone, man can ascertain truth and can derive universals from it. Thus, the Enlightenment concluded, man can reject the idea of revealed absolutes. (Rationalism, with its dependence on fallen human reason, is not to be confused with reason itself, which is a gift from God). The Enlightenment period was rooted in a total rejection of the Christian basis for life, and with its revival of destructive pagan influence, shock waves reverberated throughout Europe and affected everything, from art and science to educational theory. As the same Fr. Alexey observes, Europe, Western man, our world has never recovered; from this time forth we become a truly post-Christian "civilization." In view of what has previously been explained about heresies, these historical developments show that the West has been led by the devil onto a dead-end street.

In order to gain a more thorough understanding of how so tragic a development could come about in the West, once fully Orthodox Christian, it is necessary to look back to the thirteenth century, to the writings of a Dominican monk, Thomas Aquinas. Aquinas' works were condemned by popes and proclaimed heretical in 1277. It was not until years later that his teachings gained respect and that he came to be one of the most influential thinkers of the Middle Ages. Aquinas is considered a major theologian in the Roman Catholic Church, one whose works were selected by the Roman see as normative and worthy of merit. (In this reversal of position, one can see how teachings can be false and heretical in the Latin Church at one time, only to become "true" at another time). Aquinas' teachings will be examined here as they set the direction for the future development of Western theology and were the stimulus to the rise of humanism in the West.

Aquinas is famous for his Summa Theologica, a massive set of volumes of questions and answers that, as Hieromonk Seraphim Rose explains, resemble the dossier of some legal case, and one that is filled with syllogistic reasoning ("if... therefore... and it follows... consequently..."). In describing the fall of man in this work, Aquinas proposed that while the will of man was corrupted, his intellect was not corrupted. This idea was completely revolutionary, and it was totally foreign to Apostolic Christianity. What is meant was that man no longer needed God's revelation to find the truth, but that he could rely on his own human reason instead. Intellectual reasoning was elevated to such a lofty height in Aquinas' teaching that all Westerners were seduced into thinking that they can supplant God's revelation with human reasoning. Aquinas inadvertently opened the door to the error of the Greek philosopher Protagoras (sixth century BC), who said that "man is the measure of all things."

Aquinas' teaching was a departure from the Orthodox patristic approach, which bases the truths of the Christian faith upon the foundation of divine revelation — and not on rational, abstract deductions. Even as far back as the fourth century, St. Gregory of Nyssa stated that "men, having left off delighting themselves in the Lord (Psalm 36:4) and rejoicing in the peace of the Church, undertake refined researches regarding some kind of essences and measure magnitudes." Such a pursuit is foreign to the aim of true theology, which has the very practical task of Christian perfection.

Divine revelation and the patristic witness of revelation cannot be neglected, for the Holy Fathers are golden links in the chain of Truth forged by the Holy Spirit throughout the centuries in Christ's Church. Not everyone has the intellectual ability or grace necessary to expound Scripture correctly. This fact is noted by the Apostle Peter, who states that "there are some things in [Paul's epistles] hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures" (2 Peter 3:16). Moreover, when Church history is examined, it is apparent that all the heretics began with human conjecture and anthropocentric views and always tried to investigate and analyze the Truth of the Church through human reasoning. On the other hand, as Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos explains, the Holy Fathers were based on the method of Orthodox devotion, which is purity of heart and illumination of the nous (the eye of the soul). After these two stages of their spiritual life, the metropolitan continues, they were able to attain knowledge of God and to theologize with divine inspiration (cf. The Person in the Orthodox Tradition, p. 40). As Elder Cleopa of Romania goes on to add: "The... prophets and Apostles, as well as the Holy Fathers of the Church, while by the purity of their lives attaining to the simplicity and innocence of infants, at the same time also, on account of their wisdom, became as ‘perfect spiritual men’." (The Truth of Our Faith, p. 160). Hieromonk Seraphim Rose comments further on the Holy Fathers and explains that

In only one place is there to be found the fount of true teaching, coming from God, Himself, not diminished over the centuries but ever fresh, being one and the same in all those who truly teach it, leading those who follow it to eternal salvation. This place is the Orthodox Church of Christ, and the true teachers of the divine doctrine that issues from this fount are the Holy Fathers of the Orthodox Church ["The Holy Fathers of Orthodox Spirituality," Orthodox Word, vol. 10, no. 5, p. 188].

As Dr. Ivan Andreyev also notes:

The divinely revealed teaching of God and man, preserved throughout the centuries and enriched in the saving enclosure of the Orthodox Church, is a limitless ocean of wisdom and should be approached with fear and trembling so as not to soil any aspect of it through out sinfulness and pride. It can in no way be improved upon by the daring hand of our intellectual worldliness [Orthodox Apologetic Theology].

However, intellectual worldliness came to prevail in the West through Scholasticism, a system of academic reasoning that integrated rational philosophy with theology and lent itself to speculation. The Scholastics' unnatural synthesis of theology and philosophy was based on the abstract syllogistic method of inquiry used by Aristotle. It is

... a form of reasoning in which a conclusion is drawn from two given or assumed propositions (premises): a common or middle term is present in the two premises but not in the conclusion, which may be invalid (e.g., all trains are long; some busses are long; therefore some busses are trains: the common theme is long [The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Current English, ninth ed].

Scholasticism thus became a sterile framework more suited to exercising the intellect than to attaining a knowledge of the Creator and His creation, and it concerned itself with how many angels could fit on the head of a pin. However, through this new methodology, the Scholastics created a system by which they falsely imagined they could explore and investigate the mysteries of the Christian faith. Western theology therefore began to lose its living relation to the truth of Christianity. In the West, theology was reduced to a system — a system intended to "improve" upon the theology of revelation. Moreover, this attempt of the human intellect to revise Christianity was at the root of the later errors of the West.

Under the influence of Aquinas' teaching, Western philosophers increasingly began to think in an independent, autonomous manner and came to feel free to mix the divinely revealed truths of Christianity with the teachings of non-Christian philosophers. (It is for this reason that so many Catholics and Protestants today believe that Christian truth need no longer be tied to revelation, but can be mixed with the teachings of non-Christian religions and philosophies). Aquinas himself relied on Aristotle, a development that was to prove deadly for Western theology, and hence for modern Western man. As Archpriest Alexey Young writes:

It is important for us to understand Aristotle's ideas, which Aquinas transformed into the framework of post-schism Western thought, because Aristotelianism prepared the way for Renaissance humanism, which underlies the whole problem faced today by Western man. Essentially, Aristotle taught the importance of "particulars," individual things over absolutes or "ideal" things. "Particulars" became so important that their true meaning — which is derived from their relation to an ethical hierarchy of absolutes — was eclipsed. This was a radical departure from the Platonic worldview which had given the pagan Greek world a philosophical preparation for Orthodoxy. If everything is judged from the relative basis of an individual's viewpoint, the finite individual ceases to have an ultimate value. And without some absolute meaning or purpose, outside of oneself, what use is there for living? What basis is there for morals? for values? for law? Thus, ever since Aquinas, Western man has been faced with a crucial dilemma: how to arrive at universal and absolute ideas that give meaning to the individual's existence — after the philosophical basis for an absolute has been destroyed [Op. cit. p. 10; emphasis added].

The West's progressive departure from the Orthodox worldview accelerated during the period of humanism. As Scholastic rationalism began to take possession of Western minds, all of its syllogisms — whether based on Scripture or based on Aristotle — came to be of equal value. As Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos writes in this regard:

The Scholastic theologians of the Middle Ages considered Scholastic theology to be a development surpassing the theology of the Fathers, and this was the starting point of the teaching of the Franks that Scholastic theology is higher than the theology of the Holy Fathers. Therefore the Scholastics, who were concerned with reason, considered themselves superior to the Holy Fathers of the Church and also considered human knowledge, which is a product of reason, to be higher than [God's] revelation.... [The Mind of the Orthodox Church, p. 203].

Humanism did not go unchallenged. Prior to its spreading like tares in the Enlightenment period, a movement appeared in the late Middle Ages to counter its ruinous consequences. This movement grew out of the teachings of the fourteenth-century Oxford professor, John Wycliffe. In an attempt to restore belief in a universal absolute truth, Wycliffe went in the opposite direction and maintained that the Bible alone was the supreme authority. This idea was likewise radical and innovative, although it was not a surprising development, considering the confusion of those times in which people were struggling with the question of truth. Unfortunately, however, in his placing the Bible before the Church, Wycliffe did not have an understanding of the nature of Christ's Church, for Orthodox Christianity had long since disappeared from Western Europe. Its disappearance from England took place in the following way.

During the eleventh century, the Germanic popes allied themselves with the all-powerful feudal, military aristocracies of Europe. Of these, the most powerful one was that of the Normans, and that alliance proved effective in helping Rome achieve its worldly aims. When England did not fall in line with Rome's schism in 1054, the pope financed Duke William of Normandy to invade and subdue England. As a consequence of the Norman conquest and its mass genocide of the English people in the Battle of Hastings (1066), England was brought under the control of the Germanic papacy. This was a papacy that had already cut itself off from the other four theologically more sophisticated Patriarchates of the Christian Commonwealth that had formed the Christian Church for one thousand years. This new papacy was isolated and estranged from the rest of the Christian world as the papacy had fallen into the temptation of becoming a worldly, temporal power, one with territorial aims. William the Conqueror's bringing England under the control of the Latin Church entailed nothing less than a change of religion for England — a change from the Orthodox Christianity of pre-conquest England, to the Roman Catholicism of its immediate post-conquest period. Thus, with the disappearance of the Holy Church from England in the eleventh century, it bears repeating, Wycliffe had no knowledge of it, and as a result, he ironically laid the groundwork for another humanist movement — the Protestant Reformation.

Fr. Alexey Young notes that the Protestant Reformation had some good points: it believed that what the Bible says is true and that we can therefore know something about God. However, the humanist cult of the individual and its trust in human reason that the Protestant Reformers espoused, provided the grounds for a total subjectivism in religion — a development that spelled both the birth and death of Protestantism. In Protestantism, a new Christianity was created — one that rejects the safeguards of Apostolic Tradition, and one that bases itself upon private interpretation of Scripture. By introducing the subjective principle that each individual can interpret Scripture for himself, the stage was set for today's relativism in which anyone's opinion can become a standard of belief. Hierodeacon Gregory of Etna, a convert from Dutch Reformed Protestantism, explains that so it is that an Evangelical, for instance, blushing like a blue dog, can promote himself as a peer of "Paul." Such an assertion ignores the fact that St. Paul was "a man in Christ... caught up to the third Heaven" (1 Cor 12:2) — and, Fr. Gregory adds, such is the disrespect that one frequently encounters among Protestants. He goes on to call it a spiritual egalitarianism that is the offspring of deep-rooted pride, the very antithesis of Christian virtue.

Archimandrite Panteleimon of Jordanville also examines the Western approach, and he goes on to comment on where it is ultimately leading. He writes that:

[In the end times], the Gospel will be known to all, but some will not believe it; a greater number will hold heretical opinions, following not the God-given teaching, but building up their own religion, of their own fabrication, though based on the words of Scripture. These self-fabricated faiths will be numerous. Their roots are found in the papacy, and then continued by Luther and Calvin. These latter two, by setting as a principle their own personal understanding of faith from Scripture only, gave a strong impetus toward the invention of numerous confessions. Although there are many now, there will be many more. For every kingdom their own faith, and later for every province, and then for every city, and finally, perhaps, for every person, his own faith. Wherever people devise their religions for themselves, it cannot be otherwise. And all such faiths will continue to appropriate to themselves the name Christian [A Ray of Light: Instructions in Piety and the State of the World at the End of Time, p. 31; emphasis added].

Fr. Alexey Young makes some additional pertinent observations concerning the process in which the fallen human intellect came to be enthroned in the West. He notes that in Western Christianity, people think that one can come to a knowledge of the truth primarily by thinking through a given question or concept. There is no other requirement than that a person be reasonably intelligent and informed. Such an assumption has been the norm for so many centuries now in Western Christianity that no Western Christian sees anything wrong with it, despite the evident fact that individuals, even theologians, starting out with the same basic set of facts, can arrive at opposite conclusions. In Western Christianity, people come to substitute their own misunderstandings for divine understanding, that is, for the all-embracing reality of God's Truth. Because of that priority that Western Christians place on human reason, and their deification of it, heterodox Christianity came to be distorted in countless ways. In Western Christianity, man — not God — has been made the measure of all things.

Fr. Alexey further explains that the Western approach is a deviation from that of the Holy Fathers and saints, who, rather than thinking things out, first struggle against their sins and passions and seek forgiveness. As Archpriest Nicholas Deputatov adds in this regard, "The mysteries of our faith are unknown and not understandable to those who are not repenting." Moreover, as a Russian hierarch notes, the Eastern Orthodox teaching differs from that of the Western writers in that the Holy Fathers lead one to repentance and weeping over one's sins, whereas the Western writer leads one to spiritual enjoyment and self-satisfaction. It is therefore repentance — not academic education or human reason — that is the key to the knowledge of God, for it is only after repentance that God enlightens a person who seeks Him. Fr. Alexey observes that the Fathers did not despise human reason — they had a great respect for it, yet they also knew that God's ways often seem foolish to the wise of the world.

Summing up the entire alteration of Christianity in the West, the eminent dogmatic theologian St. Justin (Popovich) of Chelije writes that "in Western Europe, Christianity has generally been transformed into humanism." He then goes on to give the following compelling insight:

In both [Roman Catholicism] and Protestantism, man has replaced the God-Man as both the supreme value and the supreme criterion. A painful and sorrowful "correction" has been made of the God-Man, of His work and of His teaching [Quoted in Hieromonk Sava Yanjic, "Ecumenism in an Age of Apostasy," Orthodox America, vol. 18, no. 7-8, 2000, p. 15].

Noting the same things, Protopresbyter Paul Kalinovich adds that European Protestantism, as in general the entire West, has replaced the genuine Christ with a Christ Who gives in to the temptations of Satan. Therefore, he states, the West opposes the genuine Christ.

And so, standing in opposition to Christ as it does in our time of total secularization, the West is now at the point where it is ready to accept the one-world ruler, the antichrist. Through men who do his will, Satan has laid the groundwork for antichrist's appearance through a gradual, seductive, damaging mutation of Western Christianity into pagan humanism, into pseudo-Christianity.

In his examination of the phenomena assaulting Christianity in modern times, Hieromonk Seraphim Rose notes that for a growing number of decades now, concurrent with the modern cult of self in the affluent West, Buddhism and Hinduism have made massive inroads into Western culture. This new religious view, coupled with the new "church" being created by the National and World Council of Churches, is leading to a new and universal anti-Christian religion that will be a synthesis of many major religions, although it will particularly mock Christianity. Of that new world religion, Fr. Seraphim explains that "the religion of the future will not be a mere cult or sect, but a powerful and profound religious orientation which will be absolutely convincing to the mind and heart of modern man."

Such is a historical overview of how Christianity was transformed in the West, and where that "corrected" and man-made "Christianity" is ultimately leading. As noted earlier, however, this answer will endeavor to explore specifically Protestantism's deviation from the West's former correct understanding of the ecclesiastical interpretation of Scripture — an understanding that prevailed in the West prior to 1054, when the West was still united to Orthodoxy.

In the scholarly monograph Christianity or the Church? by the Holy New-Martyr Archbishop Ilarion Troitsky (+1929), the translator's preface notes that Protestantism is the daughter of Rome; it was delivered out of her womb in the sixteenth century by various teachers who realized the existence of great errors in Roman Catholicism and were well aware that Rome was only a forgery of the Church of Christ. When they withdrew from Rome, however, they did not seek to find the True Church, although Holy Scriptures assured them that it was still to be found firm and intact on earth. Commenting on this situation, the martyr-archbishop writes:

[Protestantism] did not reestablish ancient Christianity, it only replaced one distortion of Christianity with another, and the new falsehood was much worse than the first. Protestantism became the last word in Papism and brought it to its logical conclusion.... Protestantism [asked]: Why is the truth given to the pope alone? — and added: Truth and salvation are open to each separate individual independently of the Church. Every individual was thus promoted to the rank of infallible pope. Protestantism placed a papal tiara on every German professor and, with its countless popes, completely destroyed the concept of the Church, substituting faith with the reason of each separate personality [p. 28; emphasis added].

In connection with these facts, Hierodeacon Gregory, who, as noted earlier, was formerly a Protestant, comments that both Roman Catholicism and Protestantism are united by the same error — that of displacing Christ with a derivative element of the Church. Catholicism, he states, replaces Christ the Victor with the "Vicar of Christ," whereas Protestantism supplants God the Word with the Word of God (sola Scriptura). Fr. Gregory adds that in both cases, the ultimacy of Christ God is compromised: Roman Catholicism restricts Christianity to one man, while Protestantism dissipates it among all men.

The striving of the Protestants to restore ecclesiastical truth in the West did not return them to ancient Orthodoxy, but drew them into errors sometimes more grave than those present in the Latin Church. Having enthroned human reason, Protestantism advocated the belief of sola Scriptura (Scripture alone). This is the belief that the meaning of Scripture is clear enough that any believer can understand and interpret it simply by reading it. Thus the Church's help in interpreting Scripture becomes superfluous when every Protestant individual becomes an infallible pope, to use the comparison of the hieromartyr. As Michael Whelton goes on to describe this new doctrine:

Sola Scriptura is like a faulty gene embedded in the genetic code of Protestantism that causes it to perpetually mutate, thus guaranteeing to deny it doctrinal cohesion. It is therefore condemned to do what it has always done-divide, subdivide and divide again [The Pearl, p. 21].

Fr. John Whiteford sets forth a detailed examination of the Protestant approach to Scriptures in his Sola Scriptura: an Orthodox Analysis of the Cornerstone of Reformation Theology, a book that has been widely disseminated in Russia. This scholar's work is of particular merit in that he was formerly a Protestant minister and therefore has firsthand experience with Protestantism's thinking on Scriptures.

Fr. John, now an Orthodox priest, notes that when the writings of the Holy Fathers are considered at all in Protestantism, when these teachings conflict with the individual Protestant's own private opinions on the Scriptures, those private opinions are considered more authoritative. Thus, instead of listening to the Fathers, whose lives and writings give witness to their sanctity and enlightenment by God, Protestantism gives priority to fallen human reason. The same human reason, however, has led the most influential Lutheran biblical scholars of the past three hundred years not only to reject many essential doctrines of Scripture, but to reject even the divine inspiration of the very foundation upon which the early Lutheran Reformers claimed to base their entire faith. The author also observes that contemporary Protestant scholarship is dominated by modernists who no longer believe in the inspiration or inerrancy of the Scriptures. They now place themselves above the Bible and only choose to use those suit them, discarding the rest as "primitive mythology and legend." The only authority left for such as these is themselves.

Fr. John continues, stating that given nothing more than the Bible and the reasoning power of the individual alone, Protestantism could not agree on the meaning of the most basic questions of Christian doctrine. During Martin Luther's lifetime, dozens of differing groups came into existence, each claiming to "just believe in the Bible," yet each in disagreement with the others as to what the Bible says. As an example, Luther himself stood before the Diet of Worms, stating that unless he could be persuaded by Scripture or by plain reason, he would not retract any of his teachings. Later, however, when the Anabaptists, who were at variance with the Lutherans on a number of points, simply asked for the same indulgence, the Lutherans had them butchered by the thousands. (Although at first Luther opposed the burning of the Anabaptists by Lutherans, he later reluctantly came to approve of the death penalty for them on the grounds that they were guilty of sedition and blasphemy).

What a trend Luther started by completely ignoring fifteen centuries of the Church's existence and refusing to return to it, only to invent his own Church instead! As Archpriest George Larin notes, since Luther's time, there have been no end to "reformers" of "Christianity," each and all claiming to have rediscovered "lost biblical truth." This is truly a sad state of affairs! The only thing that all of these so-called "reformers of the Church" have in common is that each group claims to rightly understand the Bible, and all of them have a particular blindness to what is written in the Bible — itself a product of the Orthodox Church that they reject.

Frank Schaeffer, a convert from Protestantism and the son of a noted Protestant theologian, explains that Protestants believe that they need no interpretation but their own in deciphering the meaning of Scriptures. No bishop, Apostolic or otherwise, has any authority over them regarding its true meaning, nor does any Father of the Church or Council hold any special wisdom to which they should hearken. For Protestants, their religion is a matter of personal choice. It is, in fact, anything they want it to be, although they might not admit as much. They proclaim that what they believe is biblical, although the Bible says anything they want it to say. They tend to reject the ancient Christian idea that the Holy Spirit leads the Church, yet they readily claim that the Spirit leads them personally, for which reason they are correct about theological matters and are "doing the Lord's will" in personal matters. If they disagree with the teaching of one denomination or minister, they shop around until they find one whose doctrine and personality suits them. Mr. Schaeffer points out that intuitive feelings and subjective interpretations of Scripture came to replace the Apostolic Holy Tradition as the guiding principle for biblical understanding. In the West, the subjective expression "I believe" came to replace the ancient declaration of faith: "This is what the Church has always taught."

Fr. John Whiteford comments further on Protestantism's subjective approach. He explains that with a subjectivity that surpasses that of the most speculative Freudian psychoanalysts, Protestant scholars subjectively choose the "facts" and "evidence" that suits their agenda and then proceed, with their conclusions essentially predetermined by their basic assumptions, to apply their methods to the Holy Scriptures — all the while thinking themselves to be dispassionate scientists. Moreover, he notes, since modern universities do not give out PhDs to those who merely pass on the unadulterated truth, these scholars seek to outdo each other by coming up with new "creative" theories. In this entire approach, the former Protestant minister writes, is the very essence of heresy: novelty, arrogant personal opinion, and self-deception.

Today the differing confessions within Western Christianity number 23,000, and new groups spring up almost daily. Each and every one of them — whether Roman Catholic or Protestant — has created its own "truths" and doctrines, and each has either added to or taken away from the teachings of the Holy Apostles, and has altered the meaning of the Holy Gospels.

The same Fr. John notes that one common approach among the Protestants today (one that is most common among the less educated fundamentalists, evangelicals and charismatics) is "just take the Bible literally; its meaning is clear." These groups also often say: "The Bible says what it means and means what it says." However, when these groups come to scriptural texts that Protestants generally disagree with — for example, Christ's giving the Apostles the power to forgive sins (Jn 20:23), or Christ's saying of the Holy Eucharist: "This is My body.... This is My blood" (Mt 26:26,28), or the Apostle Paul's teaching that women should cover their heads in church, then all of a sudden the Bible no longer means what it says! With fallen human reason, Protestants arbitrarily decide that these verses are not meant to be taken literally. In this way individual Protestants arrogate to themselves the power of being infallible popes (as St. Ilarion correctly noted of them), who in utter delusion imagine themselves to have a superior understanding of truth than the Holy Apostles, the Holy Fathers, and the Truth of truths, the Truth Himself, the Incarnate God. This pick-and-choose-what-to-believe approach has become the standard Western approach.

Seeing that so many splinter groups could not agree on the interpretation of Scripture, Fr. John adds, Protestant scholars asserted that the Holy Spirit would guide pious individuals to interpret Scriptures correctly. However, everyone who disagreed in matters of doctrine could not possibly be guided by the same Spirit. Thus, each of the differing groups within Protestantism started to de-Christianize those others who disagreed with it. If such an idea were valid, it would produce one group of Protestants who had rightly interpreted the Scriptures, yet which of all the myriad denominations could it possibly be?

As the answer depended upon an individual's particular affiliation, Fr. John states, it became increasingly popular for Protestants to conclude that differences do not matter so much, that perhaps each group has a piece of the truth, while no one group has the whole truth. The idea that all denominations, even entire religions, must be equally respected, gave way to the belief that all religions are equally true, even when they contradict one another.

The utter illogicality and falsehood of this conclusion beggar the imagination. However, this assertion was taken over by the Protestant-dominated ecumenical movement as its battle cry.

Concerning the development of the ecumenical movement, the translators of the Holy New-Martyr Archbishop Ilarion's Christianity of the Church? explain in the introduction that:

It was [at the time of the Bolshevik Revolution] when the weak and divided Protestant denominations, who previously had attacked the Church of Christ with their false teachings only as isolated viruses, had begun to unite together into what later became the World Council of Churches in order to attack the Holy Church in a "united front." The bride of the antichrist was creating herself and "the beginning of the illness" was about to erupt [p. 6].

And erupt it did! The ecumenical movement created the panheresy of ecumenism. This false teaching maintains — and modern man has been programmed to believe — that "all truth is relative," that there is no such thing as objective and absolute truth (which means that there is no truth at all), that anything and everything must be accepted, no matter how outlandish, perverse or factually untrue. As the writer Peter Jackson notes, in pluralistic Western culture, no opinion is permitted to lay claim to absolute Truth. Hence, any opinion is considered valid just as long as it makes no claim to be anything more than a mere opinion. Any view is tolerated except the one which says, "This is the Truth."

These ideas find fertile ground in the modern age of extreme atheistic relativism with its popular attitudes that reflect sensitivity to "multicultural diversity" and "politically correct language." In such an environment, the only dogma tolerated is that we should be intolerant of those who actually believe that there are dogmas reflecting absolute truth.

In the ecumenical movement, a new basis of understanding of the Church and faith is given, one that echoes the spirit of the times, but not the eternal Word of God. Many of the movement’s Protestant leaders reject basic Gospel principles and hesitate to accept Christ's Divinity, the Resurrection and immortality. Moreover, the agents of ecumenism grant its regulatory control to the clear enemies of Christianity and to secret societies opposed to Christianity (1 Jn 2:19).

The ecumenical movement proclaims that the Orthodox Church is not the Church of Christ, that there is no visible Church of Christ, and that it is only now being formed. Ecumenism also applies to the notion of the "True Church" such epithets as "medievalism," narrow-mindedness, fanaticism, ignorance and darkness, yet at this time, it is beginning to honor itself as the one true "church."

The ecumenical movement also preaches a pluralism that maintains that the grace of God is present in all the Western denominations, that the details of one's belief in Christ are of no moment, and that one's membership in any particular Church is also of no importance. And, ecumenism adds, there is grace in the non-Christian religions as well, for all religions come from the same source, share common beliefs, and thus are the same, are one.

The ecumenical movement is creating a synthesis of religions that will comprise of all "partial" views (e.g., freemasonry, Hegelianism, Unitarianism, Bahai, Buddhism, and all world religions), although it is completely hostile to Orthodox Christianity, alone among all the religions. With such a hodgepodge of innovations and syncretism, ecumenism drowns out all other voices with its proclamations of Christian unity, unity of all religions, branch theories, unconditional love, love with no bounds, sharing, salvation, dialogues, interfaith prayers, ecumenical services, and the like.

This infinitely sinister movement, ecumenism, is financially backed by those forces bringing about the new world order, the one-world government of the antichrist. Acting at the behest of political leaders, ecumenism seeks to unite all religions into one in order to attack and destroy Christ's Orthodox Church once and for all — that is, to finish off doing what Communism was created in the apostate West to do, but could not do. Indeed, the same ecumenical movement colluded with the same forerunner government of the antichrist — Communism — in its attempt to destroy Orthodox Christianity.

* * * * *

Fr. John notes that there is not one single verse in the entirety of Holy Scriptures that teaches the Protestant doctrine of sola Scriptura, or even comes close to teaching it. While numerous passages in the Bible speak of its inspiration, of its authority and its profitability, still, there is no place in the Scriptures that teaches that Scriptures alone are authoritative for believers. If such a teaching were even implicit, then the Holy Fathers would most assuredly have taught that doctrine. However, none of them ever taught any such thing. Thus, Fr. John observes, Protestantism's most basic teaching is contrary to itself and self-destructs. Not only is sola Scriptura not taught in the Bible, but it is specifically contradicted by the Bible, which teaches that Holy Tradition is binding to Christians (2 Thes 2:15, 1 Cor 11:2).

Fr. John therefore came to understand that in the Orthodox approach to Scriptures, it is not for an individual to strive for originality in interpretation, but rather to understand what is already present in the Tradition of the Church. Thus, one is not to go beyond the boundaries set by the Holy Fathers and the Creeds of the Church, but is to faithfully pass on Tradition as we have received it. To do such, one need not only apply oneself to great study and thought, but one must enter deeply into the mystical life of the Church.

Fr. John mentions that a millennium and a half ago, a pre-Schism Father of the West, Blessed Augustine of Hippo, expounded on how one should study Holy Scriptures. This Father placed emphasis not on human reason or on the intellectual knowledge that one should possess, but on what kind of person one should be. He wrote that:

With such a standard, Fr. John states, one should all the more humbly turn to the guidance of the Holy Fathers who had these virtues and who were raised up by God as brilliant illuminators who interpreted the mysteries contained in Holy Scriptures. One must not delude oneself into thinking that one is a more capable or clever interpreter of Scriptures than the Fathers.

Once Protestants come to understand the fallacies inherent in the Protestant approach to Scriptures, it is only a short step for them to return to the Church that their Western forebears belonged to prior to 1054, to "come home" to Orthodox Christianity, even as the former Protestant minister and scholar Fr. John did. Having come home, this Orthodox priest can now offer the following insight:

If Protestants should think the [Orthodox understanding is] arrogant or naive, let them first consider the arrogance and naiveté of those scholars who think they are qualified to override (or more often, totally ignore) two thousand years of Christian teaching. Does the acquisition of a PhD give one greater insight into the mysteries of God than the common wisdom of millions upon millions of faithful believers and the Fathers and Mothers of the Church who faithfully served God and men, who endured terrible tortures and martyrdoms, mockings and imprisonments for the faith? Is Christianity learned only in the comfort of one's study, or also as one carries his cross to be killed on it?

The arrogance lies with those who, without even taking the time to learn what Holy Tradition is, decide they know better — that only now has someone come along who has rightly understood what the Scriptures really mean.

The Holy Scriptures are the summit of the Tradition of the Church. But the greatness of the heights to which the Scriptures ascend is due to the great mountain upon which [they rest]. Taken from its context within Holy Tradition, the solid rock of Scripture becomes a mere ball of clay, to be molded into whatever shape its handlers wish. It is no honor to the Scriptures to misuse or twist them, even if this is done in the name of exalting their authority.

We must read the Bible; it is God's Holy Word! But to understand its message, let us humbly sit at the feet of the saints who have shown themselves "doers of the Word and not hearers only" (James 1:22), and have been proven by their lives worthy interpreters of the Scriptures. Let us go to those who knew the Apostles, such as Saints Ignatius of Antioch and Polycarp, if we have a question about the writings of the Apostles. Let us inquire of the Church, and not fall into self-deluded arrogance. [Sola Scriptura: an Orthodox Analysis of the Cornerstone of Reformation Theology, pp. 44-45; emphasis added].

Fr. John's remarkable passage needs no exegesis. It speaks for itself.

In the same vein did Luke Gehring, another convert to Orthodoxy, respond to the Jehovah's Witnesses who rang his doorbell. He stated:

The Bible was written by Orthodox Christians for Orthodox Christians, preserved in times of persecution even at the expense of their own lives. And for you to now pick up the book which we have given to you, and claim that we are in error in understanding it, and that you have the true interpretation, is highly presumptuous in my opinion.... There is a succession of Orthodox bishops back to the original Apostles. Because you are outside that lineage, outside the culture, you have only your speculations as to the meaning of Scriptures. You do not have any true understanding, because you are not a part of Christ's Body. Or, to use another metaphor, you must be grafted to the true vine. Without this, you cannot understand the Bible rightly.... Being outside the historic Church-Orthodoxy, you are left to your own speculations, in place of the ancient understanding of Scripture [False Witness: a Dialogue with the Jehovah's Witnesses, pp. 3-5; emphasis added].

15. What verse of Scripture does the textbook offer to demonstrate the necessity of accepting the Church's interpretation of the Bible?

The textbook quotes the passage from the Acts of the Apostles wherein the Apostle Philip encountered St. Djan Darada, a eunuch of Queen Candice of Ethiopia. As the eunuch was reading the Prophet Isaiah, Philip asked him if he understood what he was reading. The eunuch replied, "How can I, unless someone guides me?" (Acts 8:30-31). Philip then gave him the Church's interpretation, the Christian understanding, of what he had been reading, after which he baptized him.

This incident serves as a pattern for the spiritual dependency that the Orthodox have on the Holy Fathers. As the Apostle Philip catechized the eunuch, so did the Fathers instruct their disciples in biblical exegesis, for "they read in the book of the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading" (Nehemiah 8:8).

16. Give an outline of when and how much of the Scripture is read in various Orthodox services.

17. Give your understanding of the Septuagint Old Testament.

The Septuagint version of the Old Testament is the oldest translation of any book in history and is the authoritative for Orthodox Christians. Christ Himself used the Septuagint in all His quotes, which shows that the Septuagint has the certification of God Himself. Moreover, the Holy Apostles and Holy Fathers consistently used the text of the Septuagint Old Testament. This undertaking was to have a massive importance on the spiritual life of mankind.

Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the Old Testament Jewish priests accepted their task with an awareness of their responsibility and with extraordinary seriousness. They proclaimed a period of fasting and intensive prayer for the nation, and they asked each of the twelve tribes to select six translators from each tribe so that the Sacred Scriptures could be translated into Greek, which then was the language of all tribes and nations. The concerted effort of the entire Old Testament Church in making this translation produced the Septuagint of the Old Testament, which means of the seventy (although the actual number of translators was seventy-two).

Among the translators of the holy books was a righteous man, St. Simeon, known as the God-Receiver. As he was occupied in translating the sacred books from Hebrew to Greek, he paused in perplexity at the following words of the Prophet Isaiah: "Behold, a virgin shall conceive in the womb and bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Emmanuel" (Isaiah 7:14). Not grasping the mystery of the Virgin Birth, the pious elder picked up a knife and was preparing to scrape out what he thought was an error in the text. He was then stopped by an angel, and it war foretold to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die until he had seen the promised Messiah, Christ the Lord [cf. Lk 2:26].

The prophecy made to the elder did come to pass. According to the Law of Moses, on the fortieth day after the birth of their firstborn son, all Hebrew parents were to bring the son to the temple to be consecrated to God, and it was customary to bring a sacrifice in thanksgiving to God as well. This law was established in remembrance of the tenth and final plague that led to the Hebrews' deliverance from bondage in Egypt. In fulfillment of the law, the Mother of God and her espoused husband, the righteous Joseph, brought Christ to the temple in order to present Him to the Lord, and for their sacrifice, they brought two fledgling doves. At that time, the elder Simeon and Anna the prophetess testified before all the people in the temple that the Child was the Messiah. St. Simeon, who had waited a long time for the fulfillment of the promise God made to him, took Christ into his arms, and blessing and glorifying God, he said:

"Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace, according to Thy word: for mine eyes have seen Thy salvation, which Thou hast prepared before the face of all people; a light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of Thy people Israel" (Lk 2:29-32).

As Archpriest Seraphim Slobodskoy explains about these words, St. Simeon called the newborn Lord a light to enlighten the Gentiles, that is, all the tribes and nations, and the glory of Thy people, that is, "Israel." There are two Israels, Fr. Seraphim writes: the Old Testament one and the New Testament one. In the Old Testament, it was the chosen Hebrew people, or Israelites, and in the New Testament, it is the entire Christian world.

Considerably later than the Septuagint was produced, an Aramaic translation of the Holy Scriptures appeared — the Peshitta, which coincides on all important points with the Septuagint. (Bishop Nathanael notes that it apparently dates to the first century BC for the Old Testament portion of the Holy Scriptures, and about the second century AD for the New Testament portion). Both the Greek and Aramaic translations have been preserved free from corruption in the Orthodox Church by the grace of God and the struggles of pious Christians, whereas the Hebrew text in the Hebrew community was saved by technical means (an explanation will follow).

For the Syrian Orthodox Church and all Eastern Churches connected with it, the Peshitta holds the same authority as the Septuagint holds for the other Orthodox Churches. Also, while the West was still a part of the Orthodox Church, yet another translation appeared: the Vulgate, translated by St. Jerome, which means the same thing as Peshitta in Syriac: common. All three of these translations are honored with far more authority than the Hebrew original.

At the time of Christ, the ancient Hebrew language that the Law and the major portion of the Old Testament were written in was already a dead language. The language then in use in Palestine was Aramaic, which was spoken by Christ.

During the earthly life of Christ, Hebrew was the language only of the learned scribes, Pharisees and the sadducee priests, all of whom became the enemies of Christ. Thus, from the very beginning in the Christian Church, the Scriptures were not listened to our read in Hebrew in the service.

After the passing of a couple of centuries, Hebrew Scriptures vanished completely from among Christians. At that time, the Jewish community, having rejected Christ and been unfaithful to its original destiny, received a different charge. As the Jews were the sole repository of the ancient Hebrew Scripture, they began to testify against their will that all that the Christian Church teaches with regard to the ancient prophecies and prefigurations of Christ the Saviour, and of God the Father's preparing the people to accept the Son of God, are not fabricated by the Christians, but reveal a genuine, many-faceted, established truth.

After many centuries of separate existence in varied places and within inimically opposed circles, Scriptures in Greek and Aramaic translation (and also translations from them) on the one hand, and the Hebrew originals on the other, were compared. With rare exception, the Scriptures from both groups were found to be identical in all essential matters. In the face of the widespread and malicious slander of all generations that wages war against the Word of God, this agreement shows that so carefully and lovingly was the holy text of divine words been preserved that, as Bishop Nathanael writes, "Humanity has praiseworthily vindicated the trust of God, Who delivered the absolute Truth to aid weak and limited human powers."

Given the fact that the texts coincide on all the important points, the question arises why the Greek and Aramaic translations hold greater authority with Orthodox Christians than the Hebrew originals? As noted earlier, the Greek and Aramaic Scriptures have been preserved free from corruption by God's grace and the labors of grace-bearing individuals. When Christian scribes copied verses from Scripture, the scribe himself, as a child of the Church, a participant in its divine life, and one knowing the truth, did not make grave errors in the transcribed text. Also, those to whom he presented his transcribed book would not have overlooked any distortion of the meaning of the holy words to which the Church is so attentive.

In contrast, in the Jewish community, texts were transcribed by Jews who did not know the fullness of truth. Those verses of Scriptures speaking of the coming of Christ, and of the other mysteries of the Christian faith, were not understood by them. As a result, when working with mistakes of transcription, they could not arrive at a correct understanding of the text, nor where the Jews who listened to them able to offer correction. Having lost grace, the Jewish community lacked a built-in, living corrective for correcting its entrusted text, something the Christian Church does indeed have. Thus, in the Jews' work of preserving the holy texts, they had only natural human means to work with, and those means are prone to error.

The Jewish community was clearly and agonizingly aware of the fact that errors were multiplying in its manuscripts, and thus it was no longer able to judge the authenticity of any variant reading. It therefore decided upon undertaking an astonishing and massive project to prevent the complete corruption of the texts of Scripture. At that time, the Jewish scribes known as masoretes (preservers of tradition) removed all the manuscripts of sacred books from all the synagogues of the world and replaced them with their own translations. These editions were strictly precise and had been checked letter by letter by the masoretes themselves. Under threat of curse, in the future, not one book of Scriptures could be presented to a synagogue without first being checked letter by letter with the initial texts. Thus, by this earthly means, Old Israel guaranteed that integrity and immutability of the text of Scriptures which the Lord gives freely to His Christian Church by means of grace.

The extent of the immutability of the synagogue's masoretic text is astonishing. At the end of the nineteenth century in central China, Hebrew groups who had lived far from the mainstream of Jewish life ever since the fourth or fifth century were discovered. It was shown that between the books they had (the Torah, Prophets and Psalms) and the European synagogue text, there were only fourteen variations of spelling. However, all this uniformity amounts to absolutely nothing. Only standardization of text was achieved, yet those errors which already existed at the time of the masoretic reform were not only allowed to remain, but some distortions were purposely introduced by the masoretes to obscure the clarity of the prophecies which foretell Christ the Saviour.

One of the masoretic alterations was of the above quoted Isaiah 7:14 ("Behold, a virgin shall conceive in the womb and bring forth a son"). The masoretes deleted the word vetula (virgin) in the text, substituting in its place al 'ma (young woman) in all Hebrew texts throughout the world. Taking exception with the Jewish interpreters at that time were Christian apologists who asked what kind of a sign, about which the prophet speaks, would be the birth of a son to a young woman have been, given the fact that it is an everyday occurrence.

In a 1952 edition of Time magazine (no. 18, p. 5), an article dealt with a recently discovered manuscript of the above prophecy of Isaiah written before the birth of Christ. In this manuscript, the word virgin appeared, not young woman. Likewise, the New Testament follows the Septuagint text: "Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son" (Mt 1:23).

It is therefore clear why the Orthodox Church prefers the Septuagint translation as the authoritative text of the Old Testament, over the currently existing Hebrew text. The Septuagint is the text established under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit by the concerted effort of the Old Testament Church, and its text, it bears repeating, remains free from corruption.

The prefatory notes to this chapter state that research into the Dead Sea Scrolls suggests the Septuagint is the older and more authentic of Old Testament Scriptures. As is shown in the history above, the Septuagint is most assuredly older than the currently existing Hebrew texts that have been revised with distortions by the masoretes.

Concerning the same passage of Isaiah 7:14, Fr. James Thornton makes some additional notations. He explains that the original King James of the Bible correctly interprets this passage and retains the word virgin. Likewise, the Douay, translated from the Latin Vulgate in the closing years of the sixteenth century, also correctly retains the word virgin. However, the 1952 Revised Standard of the Bible, published under the National Council of Churches of the USA (which, in conjunction with the World Council of Churches, is forming the one-world religion of the antichrist), substitutes the ambiguous phrase young woman for virgin. Fr. James notes that this substitution was made for no other reason, apparently, than that the notion of the Old Testament prophecy of the Virgin Birth of Christ — and doubtless the truth of the Virgin Birth itself — was obnoxious to the rationalists, ideologues and non-believers responsible for this travesty.

Likewise, the World Council of Churches published and distributed Romanian language Bibles to the persecuted Orthodox Christians of Romania. In these translations, the word idol had consistently been deleted and replaced with the word icon. This distortion was made in an attempt to make Orthodox believers think that God forbids icons and that Orthodox Christianity is contrary to God's revelation. Such an agenda, of course, is that of the antichrist.

In connection with these kinds of willful distortions of Scripture, the staff of the newly translated Third Millennium Bible explain that "most contemporary translations of the biblical text have been made to conform in important respects to the ever-changing views of translators, social scientists and politicians." As a result, the Bible is reduced "to a kind of wet clay upon which divers translators, representing numerous agendas" have sought to impress their views. These agenda-driven redactors, the staff members observe, are really "linguistic engineers" who aim at moving our culture in a secular direction. That is, they are preparing the way for the antichrist.

The same Fr. James warns that in an age of apostasy and rabid, soul-destroying ideologies and social upheavals, such changes can be exceedingly perilous to a Christian believer. Therefore, he continues, we must cherish traditional versions of the Bible and not cast them aside in favor of the modern renditions. The latter ones, the street-language versions, are at best "impious, witless muddles and, at worst, quasi-theological arsenic — or, to use another apt metaphor, psychological Trojan horses fabricated for planting within the innermost recesses of unsuspecting minds," he concludes.

It should be parenthetically be added that Fr. James wholeheartedly endorses the Third Millennium Bible. He observes that it preserves the noble language and dignified cadence of the traditional King James, while changing only those words that are incomprehensible to the overwhelming majority of educated readers of today. Of the relatively few words that have been updated are those that have disappeared from the language or that convey a substantially different meaning generally understood in 1611. Moreover, this new edition of the Bible is augmented by the ten deuterocanonical or apocryphal books, as they are called in the West (they are also called the non-canonical books — see note below). Fr. James calls the staff of the Third Millennium Bible honest scholars who have struggled to save what is in truth the very core, the heart, of our Christian faith and culture.

Concerning the so-called deuterocanonical or apocryphal books, they were an integral part of the Septuagint text of the Old Testament as it was in use at the time of Christ, and these books have always been an integral part of all Orthodox Bibles. They were also formerly included in all Christian Bibles, and a law in 1615 in England even forbade the Bible to be printed without them. It is an unknown fact to most Americans that these books were included in the original King James of the Bible until the rise of the more extreme and militant of the Protestant denominations. It was only under the influence of various fundamentalist groups that they came to be excluded from nearly all editions of the KJV in this country.

Protopresbyter Michael Pomazansky explains that these last ten books are of Hebraic origin and were extant only in Greek, although from the time of the Jewish council in Jamnia in 90 AD (see below), the Jews ceased to make use of them in their religious life. Fr. Michael states that the term non-canonical used in reference to these books refers to the fact that they are not included in the Hebrew canon of Scripture because they were written after the closing of the canon of the sacred Old Testament books. In the Protestant world, these non-canonical books of the Old Testament are commonly called the apocrypha, often with a pejorative connotation, and also a complete misnomer as there is nothing hidden about them. In the Roman Catholic Church since the sixteenth century, they came to be called deuterocanonical — that is, belonging to a second or later canon of Scripture. As Fr. Michael writes concerning these books:

The [Orthodox] Church accepts these latter books also as useful and instructive and in antiquity assigned them for instructive reading not only in homes but also in churches, which is why they have been called "ecclesiastical." The Church includes these books in a single volume of the Bible together with the canonical books. As a source of the teaching of the faith, the Church puts them in a secondary place and looks on them as an appendix to the canonical books. Certain of them are so close in merit to the divinely inspired books that, for example, in the eighty-fifth Apostolic Canon, the three books of Maccabees and the book of Joshua the son of Sirach are numbered together with the canonical books, and, concerning all of them together, it is said that they are "venerable and holy." However, this means only that they were respected in the ancient Church; but a distinction between the canonical and non-canonical books of the Old Testament has always been maintained in the Church [Orthodox Dogmatic Theology, pp. 27-28].

Fr. Gregory Williams gives the following explanation as to why the non-canonical books were excluded from the religious life of the Jews after Christ's Resurrection:

These apocryphal books came to be an issue not for the Christians, but for the post-Resurrection Jews. They in many cases clearly prophesied concerning the Lord and so were an embarrassment to those who refused to accept His Divinity. Consequently, they were officially barred from the Jewish canon (official table of contents) of the Scriptures at the Jewish Council of Jamnia at the end of the first century AD, sixty or so years after the Resurrection. The Protestant Reformers of the sixteenth century chose to accept the authority of the Jewish council in preference to that of the Apostles and the Fathers.

We may reasonably ask why. It makes no sense that they should object to these books on the same basis as that of the rabbis of Jamnia. The answer to the puzzle is quite simple: the books (some of them) also make quite evident, prophetically, the special role of the Theotokos, the Mother of God, the maiden Mary of Galilee, in God's plan of salvation. Numerous passages from them are cited quite effectively by the Fathers in discussing the Church's understanding of the role of the Theotokos.

Consequently, the [Protestant Reformers] simply opted to get rid of the books they disliked, using the pretext provided by the rabbis that the books did not exist in the Hebrew text [Where Did the Bible Come From?, pp. 4-5].

Fr. Gregory's well researched booklet is particularly noteworthy in that he, like Fr. John Whiteford, was formerly a Protestant who converted to Orthodox Christianity and fully assimilated the Orthodox understanding.

18. How do the decisions of a local council obtain ecumenical authority?

The Ecumenical Councils are unerring and express the consciousness and the life of the Church. While the doctrinal definitions of the Ecumenical Councils are infallible, those of local councils of individual bishops are always liable to error. However, if the decisions reached in local councils are accepted by the rest of the Church, they then come to acquire ecumenical authority — that is, a universal authority similar to that possessed by the doctrinal statements of an Ecumenical Council.

19. Although it is not mentioned in the textbook, can you name one set of local councils which dealt with the same subject, and which obtained ecumenical authority and inclusion in the Synodikon of Orthodoxy?

Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos devotes the entire last chapter of his book The Mind of the Orthodox Church to the Synodikon of Orthodoxy. Giving background information, he explains that through the ages, various heresies appeared that denied God's revelation and made use of philosophy and conjecture. When some heresy would spring up, the Holy Fathers would oppose it at the place where it appeared. (The heretic Arius, for example, was confronted by the Council of Alexandria, but when his heretical opinions began to be disseminated beyond the borders of Alexandria as well, the subject was confronted by the First Ecumenical Council). In their confrontations with the heretics, the Holy Fathers who formed the Synods did not seek to find the truth by making conjectures by reasoning and imagination. Instead, they attempted to formulate in words the already-existing revealed Truth, of which they also had in their own personal experience. The mind of the Church is linked to, and is in harmony with, the decisions of the Fathers of the Church as it has been expressed with conciliar authority.

The metropolitan also explains that the decisions of the Synods on dogmatic topics are called provisions, and more generally speaking, each decision of the Synods is called a synodikon. Thus, there is a symbolical tome and a synodical provision, and moreover, each Synod has its own synodikon.

Concerning the Synodikon of Orthodoxy, it is a text contained in the Lenten Triodion and is read on the first Sunday of Great Lent, the Sunday of Orthodoxy, whence its name. This text contains the decisions of the Seventh Ecumenical Council, which refer to the veneration of holy icons. To it, there was later added the definition of faith of the hesychastic councils of the fourteenth century, which addressed St. Gregory Palamas' confrontation with the heretic Barlaam. (Hesychasm is a method through which great stillness and unceasing prayer of mind and heart unite a Christian with God). Thus, the Synodikon of Orthodoxy comprises the decisions of both the Seventh Ecumenical Council and the councils of the fourteenth century. It is a holy text, one which, as the metropolitan explains, sums up the entire orthodox teaching of Christ's Church.

20. Briefly summarize in your own words what you consider to be the main points in sections 4, 5, 6 and 7 of this chapter of the textbook.

Section 4: The definitions handed down by the Ecumenical Councils must be seen in the wider context of the Holy Fathers, the Church's great theologians. It is not enough simply to know and quote the Fathers; one must acquire a patristic mind. Among the Fathers, a special reverence is held for the Three Great Hierarchs: Saints John Chrysostom, Basil the Great and Gregory Nazianzus. The textbook states that the age of the Fathers did not necessarily come to and end and that our age could produce another Basil or Athanasius.

Section 5: The Orthodox Church does not have the Latin Church's established preference for making formal dogmatic definitions. However, it would be false to conclude that because Orthodoxy has not proclaimed some belief to be dogma, it is therefore not a part of Tradition, but merely a matter of private opinion. Certain doctrines, although never formally defined, are still held by the Church with an unmistakable inner conviction and oneness of mind, and they are just as binding as an explicit formulation. As St. Basil explains, "Some things we have from written teaching, others we have received from the Apostolic Tradition handed down to us in a mystery; and both these things have the same force for piety."

Noteworthy in this connection are the observations of Fr. Theodore Pulcini, a convert from Roman Catholicism to Eastern Orthodoxy. Fr. Theodore says expressively:

Orthodoxy [views] theology less as an exercise in reason than as an attempt to express an ineffable mystery. Theology in the Catholic West [seems] to be largely a matter of precise definition and syllogistic deduction, highly philosophical and rationalistic in nature. In the Orthodox East, theology [seems] to be largely a matter of doxology, of bowing in reverent wonder before the ineffable; it [is] less concerned with philosophical precision than with experiencing the incomprehensible. This attitude finds expression in the unparalleled beauty and majesty of Orthodox worship.

It occurred to me that if Christianity may be likened to a pool, the Catholic West spent a great deal of time describing that pool and analyzing its waters. The Orthodox East preferred to dive in! I did not detect the sort of dryness in Orthodox theology that I had in the Scholasticism of the Catholic tradition [Orthodoxy and Catholicism: What are the Differences?, p. 19].

Orthodoxy's Tradition is preserved foremost in the prayers and hymns used in its services, which explain in part the Holy Eucharist and other mysteries, the next world, the Theotokos, the faithful departed and the saints, things of which the Church has made few explicit definitions. Also, it is not merely the words of the services that form a part of Tradition; all the gestures and actions have a special meaning as well — the three immersions and emersions in the waters of Baptism, the anointing with oil, the sign of the Cross, and so forth — all express in a symbolic way the truths of Christianity.

Section 6: Canons (regulations) were drawn up by the Ecumenical Councils, by local councils, and by individual bishops. They deal with the Church's earthly life and are an attempt to apply dogma to the practical situations in the life of each Christian. Canons form a part of Tradition.

Section 7: Tradition is also expressed in art, in iconography. Icons are one of the ways in which God is revealed to man. They are windows into Heaven, and through them, people gain a vision of the spiritual world. Because icons are a part of Tradition, an iconographer is not free to adapt or innovate as he pleases, but paints within certain prescribed rules so that his work reflects the mind of the Church. Most importantly, iconographers must be sincere Christians who live in the spirit of Tradition and who prepare for their task through the reception of the Holy Mysteries (Sacraments).

21. Do you agree with the textbook's comments concerning the alter-ability and relative value of canons?

The textbook's remarks about the alterability and relative value of canons are a modernist deviation from the strictest standards of Orthodoxy. As such, they warrant comment.

To help eliminate confusion in this matter, the textbook should have begun its discussion of canon law with the notation that there are two types of canons: those of a dogmatic or doctrinal nature, and those of an ethical, practical or structural character. This distinction is not given.

Concerning the canons of the first group, the dogmatic or doctrinal ones, they have a meaning that remains eternal and unchanging. An example of this kind would be a dogmatic canon speaking about the nature and Person of Christ. This kind of canon can never change.

The author of the textbook is not unaware of this fact. He merely places all such canons in the category of doctrinal definitions of the Ecumenical Councils, and he recognizes the infallibility and unchanging nature of these definitions. As he points out, they deal with eternal truths, they cannot be revised or canceled, and along with the Bible and Creed, these definitions are a preeminent part of Tradition.

The author's bone of contention is therefore not with the first group of canons (otherwise he would not be an Orthodox Christian); instead, it is with what he terms "canons as such." Of these, he maintains that they cannot claim the absolute and unalterable validity that doctrinal definitions possess.

In reply, it has to be noted that even in the second group of canons, there are once again those that are absolute and unchanging. Canons forbidding the sale of the Church's Mysteries are canons of this type: they can never be changed.

The author has in mind certain canons of the second group, sc., those dealing with "the earthly life of the Church where conditions are constantly changing and individual situations are infinitely various." These canons, he claims, form part of Holy Tradition "in a relative sense only."

Again in reply, this line of thinking appeared only in the twentieth century, and then not among all Orthodox, but only among the modernist/ecumenist element. Mired in religious relativism and a secular mentality, this group wants to reexamine everything that Orthodox Christianity ever represented and shed its blood for, and which it taught through the Holy Apostles and Ecumenical Councils. The modernists' agenda is what Archbishop Averky of Jordanville calls "an undermining of what has been established from of old, with the relentless violation of the ancient institutions of the Church which originated in Apostolic times, and with the... discarding of all the... beliefs and pious traditions bequeathed to us by the first Christians."

"Orthodox" ecumenists trample on the Church's sacred canons. They see the canons, dogmas, and the totality of Tradition as insignificant matters. It appears that deep down inside, these individuals do not believe there is absolute Truth, that there is divine revelation. As a result, controversies rage on the practical canons, that is, on which ones are still applicable and which are not, given the conditions of modern life.

Regrettably, the modernists always conclude that Orthodoxy should keep in step with the times. However, as Archbishop Averky points out, Christ said to the Apostles at the Mystical Supper, "You are not of the world." In the same way, the Church is not "of the world," and it never conforms to the world. Instead, the archbishop notes, the true Church of Christ:

... has always been, is, and will always be a stranger to this world. Separated from it, she is able to transmit the divine teachings of the Lord unchanged, because that separation has kept her unchanged, that is, like the immutable God Himself.

It has never been the understanding of the Church that it must adapt itself to societal or cultural standards. Instead, the faithful must, by the grace of God and in cooperation with Him, become divinized. Moreover, although the Western Churches are trying to keep in step with the pagan culture that surrounds them, one of the four signs of the true Church is that it is holy. The Orthodox Church is holy because it does not go the way of the world, but goes along the path willed by Jesus Christ.

The textbook creates additional confusion in this matter with its assertion that when and if a new council of the Church is assembled, one of its first tasks would be the revision and clarification of canon law. In final reply, it must be emphasized that while canons of an unalterable and unchanging character can be clarified — that is, explained and developed in new and different words, their essential meaning, it must be repeated, is eternal and unchanging, and they cannot be revised. As for the practical canons, these are not something to cast aside; rather their application is left up to a bishop's use of economy. (The word economy, from the Greek economia, refers to the fact that as part of a bishop's stewardship over the Church, when there is a genuine need, he may apply a canon in a stringent way for specific pastoral reasons, or he may even entirely dispense from the canon).

The importance of the Church's practical canons is not lost to Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos. He explains that:

It has been observed from Church history that in the periods when Christians had become secularized, many canons were formulated so that people could discern their spiritual instability, distinguish good from evil, and be guided on the path of a cure. So the law is not a human invention, but a revelation by God for man to be cured. Thus it is not a goal, but a means, a medicine necessary for man's cure. The wrong use of the law, changing it from a means to an end, from a medicine to an ideology, is an unhealthy legalism which constitutes Pharisaical justice and self-justification which do not save man [The Mind of the Orthodox Church, pp. 180-81].

22. What do you consider to have been the most important point made in this chapter?

Christ promised that the Holy Spirit would come to guide the Church in Truth (Jn 16:13). The most important point and the focus of this entire chapter is that in fulfillment of that promise, the Holy Spirit guides Christ's Church through all that is called Holy Tradition. The Holy Spirit has spoken — through Scripture, through the Ecumenical Councils and the Creed, through the Holy Fathers, the Liturgy, icons, canons, and through all the things that make up the Sacred Apostolic Tradition of the Orthodox Church.


8. God And Man.

1. According to Fedorov, what is the Orthodox social program?

This Russian thinker stated that it is the dogma of the Holy Trinity.

2. Why do you think Fedorov made such a statement?

The doctrine of the Holy Trinity, rather than being a recondite subject reserved for professional scholars, is something that has an immense practical importance for each individual Christian. All people are caught up in the struggle between good and evil. As Vladimir Lossky writes epigrammatically of this struggle, "Between the Trinity and hell, there is no other choice." Also, man is created in the image and likeness of God, and it is only through a correct understanding of the dogma of the Trinity that human beings can understand who they are and what their Creator wants them to be. People's private lives depend on this understanding, as do their personal relations with their fellow human beings. It was for these reasons that Fedorov could define the Orthodox social program as the dogma of the Holy Trinity.

3. In paragraph one of this chapter, St. Gregory Palamas is quoted. Write out this quote.

In the middle of the fourteenth century, this Father wrote, "No single thing of all that is created has or ever will have the slightest communion with the Supreme Nature or nearness to it."

4. Why does Orthodoxy make a distinction between the essence and the energies of God?

At first glance, there would appear to be a contradiction between the concept of God's divine transcendence and His divine immanence. Actually there is no inconsistency, for Orthodoxy distinguishes between the inaccessible essence and the uncreated and communicable energies of God.

The mystery of the Holy Trinity, since it has to do with the essence of God, is ultimately incomprehensible not only to discursive reasoning, but to intuition as well. God is absolutely transcendent, and His essence is invisible and incomprehensible and remains unapproachable.

On the other hand, God is not cut off from the world He has made: He is a living God Who comes down from above and communicates Himself to man in the form of deifying grace and divine light. Such are the energies of God: they are visible and perceivable manifestations that make the divine life accessible to man without taking away from the inaccessibility of God. Thus, people can behold God through His energies, but not His essence.

Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos explains that this teaching is not an isolated opinion of one Father alone, but that it is the teaching of the Orthodox Church. Many Holy Fathers have referred to the distinction between essence and energy. It is found in the Bible, in the first Apostolic Fathers, in the Cappadocian Fathers, and especially in St. Basil the Great and in the great dogmatic theologian of the Church, St. John of Damascus. In the fourteenth century, St. Gregory Palamas developed further this already existing teaching and put forward its practical consequences and dimensions.

5. God is a Trinity of three Persons, dwelling in each other by virtue of what?

Each of the three Persons of the Godhead, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, dwell in the other Two by a perpetual movement of love.

6. Why is the filioque, like all questions relating to Trinitarian theology, not trivial?

The textbook states that "since belief in the Trinity lies at the very heart of the Christian faith, a tiny difference in Trinitarian theology is bound to have repercussions upon every aspect of Christian life and thought." The filioque insertion did in fact have a disastrous effect upon Western theology.

7. Give a summary of your own understanding of the filioque question.

As noted in an earlier chapter, the Orthodox Church to this day retains the original text of the Nicaeo-Constantinopolitan Symbol of Faith (the Creed), while the Roman Catholic Church uses an altered text. The Second Ecumenical Council affirmed with its single voice the eighth article of the Creed, which states that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father. The Third Ecumenical Council, by prohibiting the issuance of any new Creeds, decisively confirmed the truth of the Orthodox Church's Creed. The significance of Rome's unlawful alteration and textual corruption of the authoritative text of the Creed will be examined here.

First, no individual part of the Church has any right to tamper with the Creed such as Rome did. The Creed is the very crystallization of Revelation in human words, unchanging and unchangeable, and it is the common treasure of the entire Church. Among all the dogmatic decrees of the Church's councils, the Ecumenical Councils themselves acknowledge the Creed as primary and fundamental, and they forbade any changes whatsoever in its ideas or its words, either by addition or subtraction. The Third Ecumenical Council handed down this decree, and it was repeated by the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Ecumenical Councils. Thus, the Latin Church stands condemned by five Ecumenical Councils which it itself recognizes are inspired by the Holy Spirit. In its unilateral and illicit addition of the filioque clause, Rome committed moral fratricide and sinned against the unity of the Church.

Secondly, in its theological aspect, the filioque controversy centers on eternal relations within the Godhead, relations which existed before all ages between the Persons of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. While Orthodoxy and Rome both agree that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father, Rome goes on to proclaim that the Holy Spirit likewise proceeds from the Son (the Latin filioque means and from the Son). Christ Himself stated that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father (Jn 15:26), but nowhere does Scripture speak of the Holy Spirit's proceeding from the Son. The filioque addition, in its holding the Son to be an additional source of the Godhead, detracts from the Father's unique source of the Godhead. Rome sees the principle of unity in the essence shared by all three Persons of the Trinity, and such a concept depersonalizes God's unity.

Orthodoxy, following the teaching of the Cappadocian Fathers, affirms that there is one God because there is one Father. The Father is the source and cause of the Godhead and is the principle of unity among the three Persons of the Trinity. In this sense, Orthodoxy speaks of the monarchy of the Father. Both Son and Holy Spirit trace Their origin to Him, and both are seen in terms of Their relation to Him.

8. State the textbook's answer to the question, "But if each of the three Persons is distinct, what holds the Trinity together?"

As stated above, there is one God because there is one Father. The textbook explains that the Father is the cause or source of the Godhead, that He is the principle (arche) of unity among the Three. The Father is born of none and proceeds from none. Both Son and Holy Spirit trace Their origin to the Father: the Son is born of the Father "before all ages," and the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father from all eternity.

9. What result does the textbook mention of the Roman Catholic divergence in the doctrine of the Holy Trinity?

The Latin Church's divergence in the doctrine of the Holy Trinity resulted in its seeing the principle of unity in the substance or essence which all three Persons share. While Orthodoxy sees the principle of God's unity as personal, Roman Catholicism does not.

10. In the question of the Holy Trinity, what is meant by the term proceed?

The term proceed refers to the Holy Spirit's eternal relations within the Godhead. It does not refer to the Holy Spirit's temporal mission to the world.

The Church believes that Christ had two births: the one eternal, in which He was born of the Father "before all ages," and the other at a point in time, in which He was born of the Virgin Mary. The same distinction is drawn between the Holy Spirit's eternal procession and His temporal mission of being sent to the world. The eternal procession refers to the relation which existed from all eternity within the Godhead. The temporal mission refers to the relation of God to creation.

Where the Holy Spirit's temporal mission to the world is concerned, both Orthodoxy and Rome agree that He is sent by the Son and is the Spirit of the Son. Where Orthodoxy and Rome disagree is in the matter of eternal procession. When Orthodoxy says the Spirit proceeds from the Father alone, and when Rome says the Spirit proceeds from the Father and from the Son (filioque), they are referring to certain relations which existed in the Godhead from all eternity.

11. On what verse of Scripture is the Orthodox position based?

Orthodoxy bases its position on John 15:26. Christ stated: "When the Comforter is come, Whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of Truth Who proceedeth from the Father, He shall testify of Me." Christ sends the Spirit (this is the temporal mission), but the Spirit proceeds from the Father (this is the eternal procession).

This teaching is the clear and infallible teaching of Christ, of His Holy Church, of Sacred Scriptures, and of the Church's Creed, and this teaching was adhered to by Rome itself until its illicit addition of one word to the Creed. Nowhere does the Bible state that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Son, but the Roman Catholic Church begs to differ with Christ, with Scriptures, with the Ecumenical Councils, and with the Creed which the undivided Church produced under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

12. Certain Orthodox hierarchs attempted to bridge the gulf of understanding between Rome and the Holy Church. Can you explain the meaning of these attempts?

In the matter of the eternal procession of the Holy Spirit, the position that St. Photius maintained against the West was an eternal procession from the Father alone, and a temporal mission from the Son. Thirteenth and fourteenth-century writers, however, most notably St. Gregory of Cyprus, Patriarch of Constantinople, and St. Gregory Palamas, Archbishop of Thessalonica, went somewhat further in an attempt to bridge the gulf between East and West. While Photius spoke only of a temporal mission, these writers allowed an eternal manifestation of the Holy Spirit by the Son. They also admitted an eternal relation between the Son and the Spirit where Photius had spoken only of a temporal mission.

13. At what point did they draw the line, and why?

Both Gregories drew the line and agreed with Photius in the essential matter that while the Holy Spirit is manifested by the Son, He does not proceed from the Son. The reason the Holy Spirit does not proceed from the Son is because God the Father is the unique origin and cause of the Godhead.

14. Summarize in your own words the Orthodox objections to the Western practice regarding the filioque.

Michael Whelton, a convert from Roman Catholicism to Eastern Orthodoxy, remarks that:

As far back as I can remember when discussing Church history with friends, I can still hear myself saying, "But the Orthodox are right on [the] filioque." In fairness, I had to acknowledge that they had a point [Two Paths: Papal Monarchy — Collegial Tradition, p. 89].

Mr. Whelton goes on to state that the unity of the undivided Apostolic Church was expressed in the celebration of the Eucharist and in the recitation of the Nicaeo-Constantinopolitan Symbol of Faith, or Nicene Creed. This Creed, a declaration of faith confessed by the entire Church, belongs to the Church, and one part of the Church does not have the right to change it without the consent of all. Ecumenical Councils produced the Creed, and Ecumenical Councils prohibited any changes in it. Rome was party to all of these things. Thus, if Rome wishes to make a change in the Creed, then an Ecumenical Council is the only competent body to deal with it. Only an Ecumenical Council has the right not to alter, but to amplify and explain the decisions reached at an earlier Council. For any part of the Church to tamper unilaterally with the Creed of the Ecumenical Councils could only create enormous divisions. Mr. Whelton correctly notes that the Western Churches' altering the Creed represents an automatic lapse into heresy, and in such a state, no pronouncement by the pope in their favor could ever serve to condone them.

Regarding the theological issues of the filioque interpolation (also referred to as the Western doctrine of the double procession), its logical consequence would have to be either a ditheism or semi-Sabellianism. (Sabellius was a second-century heretic who spoke of one God with three modes or aspects or manifestations. That is, he falsely taught that the same God appeared as the Father in the Old Testament, as the Son in the New Testament, and as the Holy Spirit in the life of the Church. Through this heresy, Sabellius abolished the personal mode of existence of each Person of the Holy Trinity. In other words, he denied that God is three distinct Persons). Since Western theology views the Son as well as the Father as the principle or source of the Godhead, the question arose among the Orthodox if Western theology held that there were two independent and separate sources of the Trinity. As such a concept would amount to a belief in two Gods, the answer is an obvious no. Two reunion councils — those of Lyons (1274) and Florence (1438-39) — were careful to point out that the Spirit proceeds from the Father and Son "as from one principle" (tanquam ab uno principio et unica spiratione). Although this explanation avoided ditheism, it was still objectionable to the Orthodox in that the Persons of the Father and the Son are not distinct, but are rather merged and confused. Orthodox theology sees the monarchy as the Father's distinct characteristic and that He alone is the principle within the Trinity. In Western theology, the filioque extended the Father's distinct characteristic to the Son as well, and the two Persons became fused into one. This misunderstanding was no more than a very old heresy — "Sabellius reborn, or rather some semi-Sabellian monster," as St. Photius described it.

The textbook develops the matter of semi-Sabellianism further. It explains that in Orthodox Trinitarian theology, the principle of unity is a personal one, as opposed to that in the West, which sees its unitary principle in the essence of God. In Latin Scholastic theology, the Persons of the Trinity are overshadowed by a common nature. This Western view conceives God not so much in personal and concrete terms as it does as an essence characterized by various relations. Thomas Aquinas capsulized this way of thinking in his identification of the Persons with the relations. Aquinas had a very barren idea of personality, though, for the relations are not the Persons, but are the personal characteristics of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. "Personal characteristics do not constitute the person," St. Gregory Palamas stated, "but they characterize the person." While these relations designate the Person, in no way do they exhaust the mystery of each.

Latin Scholastic theology, with its emphasis on the essence of the Trinity and its neglect of Their Persons, well-nigh turns God into an abstract idea. No longer is He the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in such a system, but He becomes a remote and impersonal being, a God of the philosophers Whose existence must be proved by metaphysical arguments. The medieval Western theologians, in their various attempts at philosophical "proofs" of God's existence, bequeathed to the Western world its essential concern with the question of whether or not God exists. This issue was then taken up by modern secular philosophy and can be seen in thinkers so diverse as Immanuel Kant, Bertrand Russell, and René Descartes. A very significant part of Western philosophical thought, either directly or peripherally, is dedicated to the question of God's existence. Even today, it is not unusual for an intellect to classify himself as a believer or an atheist (or an agnostic, in the case of the less bold). The way that a Westerner discusses religion and most aspects of theology is largely tied to the question of God's existence.

To learn of God by questioning His existence is the Western way, but not the Orthodox way. The Orthodox way is to assume the existence of God. Also, what is important is not that man can argue about the Deity, but how man can understand and reach the concrete and personal God, and how he can be united to Him.

One extremely destructive development of the Latin Church's false Trinitarian theology can be seen in the aftermath of the de-Christianizing Second Vatican Council. At that time, the offering of praise to the Holy Trinity was suppressed. God's name was dropped in many places of the new Mass, and references to any sort of a deity became vague and deistic, calling to mind the delta or grand architect of freemasonry, rather than the One True God, the Holy Trinity.

(Parenthetically, it is noteworthy that at the same time the Latin Church restrained the worship of the Holy Trinity, Pope John XXIII began to carry atop his pastoral staff a crucifix with broken arms. This same broken cross symbol was devised by satanists in the Middle Ages as a mockery of Christianity, and it has been used by all popes since the Second Vatican Council to show their solidarity with the forerunner forces of the antichrist. Few modern Catholics are aware of this symbolism, but it is explained in detail by a pious English Roman Catholic writer in his book The Broken Cross, which gives other examples as well of the Latin Church's dabbling with diabolical phenomena ever since the 1960s).

The filioque addition is dangerous and heretical in its confusing the Persons and destroying the proper balance between the unity and diversity of the Godhead. The Trinity's oneness is stressed at the expense of the threeness, and God is conceived not in terms of concrete personality, but in terms of abstract essence.

In addition, Western theology has in actual fact (if not in theory) subordinated the Holy Spirit to the Son of God. Fr. Victor Potapov notes that even the most cursory glance through Western theological texts is sufficient to convince one as to what an insignificant place Roman Catholic theologians allocate to the activity of the Holy Spirit in the world, in the Church, and in the lives of individual Christians.

The consequences of the filioque — the overemphasis on the unity of God and the subordination of the Holy Spirit — have been instrumental in distorting the Roman Catholic doctrine of the Church, for every false teaching about the Holy Spirit strikes against the dogma concerning the Church. Because of the inattention to-, and lack of understanding of-, the role of the Holy Spirit, the Latin West has come to regard the Church largely as an earthly institution, organized and administered according to the principles of worldly authority and juridical law. And where the West stressed God's unity at the expense of His diversity, so likewise did the concept of Church unity triumph over diversity, the result of which became the complete centralization of the Latin Church and is overemphasis on papal authority.

East and West's two differing concepts of God are inextricably bound up with two different concepts of the Church. The underlying causes of the Latin Church's breaking away from the ancient Church of Christ in the Great Schism of 1054 — those of papal claims and the filioque — are very much related to one another.

15. What do you consider to be the most important point made in this section?

The most important aspect is the Orthodox Trinitarian theology dealing with God's attributes. As the textbook mentions, God is absolutely transcendent, He is not cut off from the world He has made, He is personal — that is, Trinitarian, One Essence in Three Persons, and He is an Incarnate God.


9. Man: His Creation, Vocation and Failure.

1. For what purpose was man made?

He was made for fellowship with God.

2. The creation of man was an act of Whom?

The creation of man was an act of God.

3. What is meant by the a) image and b) likeness of God in the creation of man?

These words are from the "prophecy of the past," as St. John Chrysostom calls Moses' exalted vision of what the world was in the beginning.

And God said: let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female created He them (Gen 1:26-27).

Regarding this act of creation of mankind, Metropolitan Philaret, former First Hierarch of the Russian Church in Exile, explained that "the Creator made man after His image and likeness and placed the imprint of this image on man's very being, on human nature itself." Also commenting on this passage, the Holy Fathers draw a distinction between the words image and likeness.

Orthodox theology lays a tremendous emphasis on the image of God in man. Image is taken to mean a share in the spiritual attributes of the Creator. Image is that which distinguishes man from animal creation, and it includes qualities of rationality, free will, and man's sense of moral responsibility, qualities with which every man, from the first moment of his existence, is endowed by God. To be created in God's image means that people are God's offspring and that between God and man is an essential similarity. However sinful a man may become, the image of God in him is indestructible. As the Fathers state, the image is given to us in full and cannot be lost. Moreover, in patristic theology it is said that the image of God in man is stronger than in angels, precisely because man has a nous (the eye of the soul), word and spirit, the spirit quickening the body joined to it, which is not the case with the angels.

The likeness of God, however, is given in the beginning only potentially, and man himself was to work on attaining its perfection. Likeness is a goal, it is what man must aim at and work for. Man is created in God's image and can know and have communion with His Creator and participate in His nature. Man is also made to become ever more like God for all eternity. If man properly uses the faculty for communion with God, he acquires by degree a divine likeness. Man becomes, in the words of St. John of Damascus, "assimilated to God through virtue." Likeness, or moral perfection, is something man is called to acquire through his own efforts and moral choices (though in conjunction with the grace of God, of course). As Archpriest Seraphim Slobodskoy comments:

The likeness of God depends on the direction of spiritual abilities. This requires that man work on himself spiritually. If a man strives for truth and good, for the righteousness of God, then he becomes like God. However, if a man loves only himself, lies, makes enemies, does evil, cares only for earthly goods, thinks only about his body and does not care for his soul, then such a person ceases to be in the likeness of God and becomes in his life like a beast, and can finally become like an evil spirit, a devil [The Law of God, p. 112].

Concerning the same passage quoted above from the book of Genesis, it is important to note that the name of God (Elohim in the Hebrew text) has the grammatical form of the plural number. Moreover, the first person pronoun Us and the possessive adjectives Our are likewise plural.

The same plural form of the name of God appears even earlier in the original Hebrew text of the Bible. It appears in the very first lines (Genesis 1:1), along with the verb created (bara), which is in the singular. Thus, the beginning lines of Old Testament Scripture start out by revealing the singular essence of the Persons (plural) of the Holy Trinity. Archpriest Seraphim Slobodskoy explains that these very first lines of the Bible say, as it were, "In the beginning, Gods (the three Persons of the Holy Trinity), created Heaven and earth."

Another of the Old Testament passages that expresses the Tri-Unity of God (there are twelve such passages) is that of Isaiah 6:3. The Seraphim who stand around the throne of God offer doxology in triple form, saying, "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts." The Fathers see this passage as an indirect reference to the Holy Trinity, to God's Tri-Personal Being.

Protopresbyter Michael Pomazansky lists other indications of the Trinity of Persons of God. This truth, Fr. Michael notes, is expressed in the Old Testament in a veiled way, only half-revealed, beginning, it bears repeating, in the very first lines of the Bible, in Genesis 1:1. As another writer adds, God did not yet reveal Himself as a Triune God lest the Hebrews apostatize to the polytheism of their neighbors and worship false "gods," that is, demons, for "the gods of the heathens are demons" (Ps 95:5 [Russian Bible], Ps 96:5 [English ]). As Fr. Michael concludes, the Old Testament testimonies of the Holy Trinity are revealed and explained in the light of the Christian faith.

In the New Testament, the plurality of the Tri-Hypostatic God is more explicitly revealed to be the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, One in Essence, Ever-Existing, Undivided and Indivisible. As Archpriest Vladimir Glindsky explains:

The mystery of the Tri-Unity was shown in part in the Old Testament, and clearly proclaimed in the Gospel. The Lord Jesus Christ commanded belief in the Holy Trinity and defined Its Persons. His Holy Apostles taught the Christians the worship of the indivisible Triune God. After the Apostles, the consciousness of the Church always piously protected the faith in the Holy Trinity. In the fourth century, the Ecumenical Councils, defending the Apostolic faith from heresies, promulgated dogmas concerning the individual attributes of the Persons of the Trinity, thus creating the Creed. Therefore, the Orthodox Christian believes, serves, worships [the Holy Trinity and protects] with all his might his faith in the Trinitarian Truth ["Fundamentals of the Orthodox Christian Faith," Orthodox Life, vol. 51, no. 1, 2001, pp. 30-31].

4. Quote the scriptural verse which the textbook cites to show that we are God's offspring.

I said, you are gods, and all of you sons of the Most High ( Ps 81:6).

5. Outline the difference between the teaching of Augustine and that of the Orthodox Church with regard to man's original state in Eden.

Augustine depicted man in his primordial state as being endowed from the start with all possible wisdom and knowledge. Adam had, to his way of thinking, a realized rather than a potential perfection. Subsequent to this teaching, Augustine's picture of Adam generally became accepted in the West.

Orthodoxy teaches that man was perfect in his first creation, but it stresses that the perfection was in the potential sense. Having been endowed in his creation with God's image, man was called to acquire God's likeness through his own endeavors in cooperating with God's grace. Adam started out in innocence and simplicity. "He was a child, not yet having his understanding perfected," St. Irenaeus wrote. "It was necessary that he should grow and so come to his perfection." In other words, God set Adam on the right path, but Adam had a long journey ahead of him before he reached his final goal.

6. The textbook presents a significant quote from St. Gregory Palamas on the nature of man. Write out this quote.

St. Gregory Palamas wrote: "When God is said to have made man according to His image, the word man means neither the soul by itself nor the body by itself, but the two together."

7. Why does the priest (or deacon) cense the people as well as the icons in the church?

In censing the faithful, the priest or deacon is saluting the image (or icon) of God in each person. Censing also expresses the desire that the grace of God might envelop the faithful, even as the smoke of incense envelops the Church.

The practice of censing is sometimes misunderstood by those outside the Church. This writer heard the remark, for example, that if Christ were to return to the world today, the only Church in Christendom He would not recognize is the Orthodox Church as it had gone so far astray through its practice of censing. Perhaps such a notion is not uncommon among individuals of mainstream religious groups that have stripped all mystery and ritual from their worship services. However, the assertion is not tenable inasmuch as censing was instituted in worship by God Himself, as is shown in the book of Exodus (cf. Exodus 25:6, 30:7-9, 34:15, 40:5,27, et al.).

Censing is an expression of worship, of deep thanksgiving to God's countless blessings to mankind, the greatest of which is His sending His Only-Begotten Son to sacrifice Himself to save the world. Orthodox use incense as an offering to God, like the offering of Abel's altar that burned and gave off a clean smoke that arose to Heaven (Gen 4:1-7). They also offer incense to express their infinite gratitude to Christ, the Saviour of people's souls, just as the myrrh-bearing women brought perfumes when they went to the tomb to venerate Him.

It is for these reasons that the priest censes before the holy altar table, the icons, and all of the church at certain moments during the services. Censing also expresses the worshipers' respect and reverence for these holy things. The priest censes especially during the Divine Sacrifice, when the bread and wine become the All-Pure Body and Blood of Christ.

Incense is also a symbolic representation of a heart praying to God, Moreover, it expresses a desire that the prayer of Christians gathered in church would be heartfelt and truly fervent, and that it might ascend to Heaven like the smoke of incense. The prayer that accompanies incense does indeed rise to Heaven. As Holy Scriptures state: "Let my prayer be counted as incense before Thee" (Ps 140:2), and "The smoke of incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel's hands" (Rev 8:3,4). When being censed by a priest or deacon, Christians respond with a bow.

8. When God created man, He did not want a slave. What did He want man to be to Him?

God wanted man to be a son to Him.

9. What sort of doctrine of grace does the Orthodox Church reject?

It rejects any doctrine of grace which infringes upon man's freedom.

10. What is the meaning of the term synergy?

Synergy, or synergia in Greek, is from syn (with) and ergon (work; whence synergic, synergetic, synergism, &c.), and it means cooperation. St. Clement of Alexandria coined the word in order to express the action of two energies joined together: grace and human will.

11. Quote the verse of Scripture which the textbook offers in order to demonstrate the doctrine of synergy.

We are fellow-workers [synergoi] with God (1 Cor. 3:9).

12. Based on the brief and light discussion of the matter in the textbook, give your understanding of the difference between the Orthodox and the Western understanding of grace and free will.

Orthodoxy believes that man has his own part to play if he is to achieve full fellowship with God. Although man can do nothing toward this end without his human will being anticipated and upheld by God's grace, and although the work that God does is of immeasurably greater importance than the work done by man, man nevertheless must make his own contribution to the common work. Man's work toward fellowship with God is the surrender of His will and the conformity to divine will, inasmuch as man's will (rather than his intellect or feeling) is the main human means of union with God. "Sacrifice and offering Thou wouldst not.... Lo, I come to do Thy will, 0 God" (Heb 10:5, 9). A person's union with God requires the cooperation of two unequal, but equally necessary forces: divine grace and human will.

The textbook does not deal at great length on the Western controversies concerning grace and predestination. However, it does state that the West, since the time of Augustine and the Pelagian heresy, has seen the matter of grace and free will in different terms, and it states that those brought up in the Augustinian tradition (particularly Calvinists) have viewed the Orthodox idea of synergy with suspicion since they feel it ascribes too much to man's free will, and too little to God.

13. Who is the supreme example of synergy? Give your own explanation of why the textbook makes such a statement.

The Theotokos is the supreme example of synergy. The textbook can make such a statement since Mary's fiat and her entire life stand as the greatest possible example of cooperation between the free will of man and the purpose of God. God, Who always respects human liberty, did not want to become incarnate without Mary's consent, and He therefore waited for her response. Although Mary had the choice to refuse, her reply was, "Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done unto me according to your word" (Lk 1:38). This response was far from a passive one, for Mary was an active participant in the mystery. As Nicholas Cabasilas comments:

The Incarnation was not only the work of the Father, of His Power and His Spirit... but it was also the work of the will and faith of the Virgin.... Just as God became incarnate voluntarily, so He wished that His Mother should bear Him freely and with her full consent [On the Annunciation].

Moreover, as St. Nikolai Velimirovich explains, Eve first fell into sin, and her sin took place in the brightness of Paradise, where everything protected her from sin. Mary, on the other hand, was the first to overcome all temptations, and she did so in the darkness of the world, where everything pulls towards sin. Thus, Mary’s obedient submission to God’s will stands in direct contrast to Eve’s disobedience in the Garden of Eden, and for this reason, Mary is the New Eve.

14. The textbook quotes Revelation 3:20 in demonstrating the Orthodox teaching of synergy. Write out that verse, and also write out the textbook's explanation of that verse.

Behold, I stand at the door and knock: if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in (Rev 3:20).

The textbook explains:

God knocks, but waits for man to open the door — He does not break it down. The grace of God invites all but compels none. In the words of John Chrysostom: "God never draws anyone to Himself by force and violence. He wishes all men to be saved, but forces no one." "It is for God to grant His grace," said St. Cyril of Jerusalem (+386); "your task is to accept that grace and to guard it." But it must not be imagined that because a man accepts and guards God's grace, he thereby earns merit. God's gifts are always free gifts, and man can never have any claims upon his Maker. But man, while he cannot merit salvation, must certainly work for it, since "faith without works is dead" (James 2:17).

15. Summarize your understanding of the difference between the Orthodox and the Augustinian doctrines of the fall and the first human sin. Be sure to discuss the two concepts of the fate of unbaptized children.

Up to a point, Orthodoxy, Rome and classical Protestantism are all in fairly close agreement concerning the ancestral sin (or what Western Christians call the original sin). God gave Adam a free will either to accept or reject his calling to live in union with divine law and rule over all creation. Adam was seduced into thinking that he could become like God solely by his own effort and will, and he rejected his calling and turned aside from the path marked out for him by God. The fall lay in Adam's disobedience to the will of his Creator; he elevated his own will against God's, and in so doing, he separated himself from God.

Adam's rebellion resulted in a new form of existence: disease and death entered in. In turning away from God, Who is immortality and life, man defiles his humanity with evil and puts himself in a state contrary to nature. This unnatural condition eventually led to the disintegration of Adam's physical being and to his physical death, and the same consequences extended to all his descendants, to the whole human race. As St. Paul repeatedly insists, we are all members of one another, and if one member suffers, the whole body suffers. Thus, by virtue of this mysterious unity of all mankind, not only Adam, but the whole human race becomes subject to mortality.

The disintegration also goes beyond the mere physical level: since man was cut off from God, Adam and his descendants were brought under the rule of evil and death. All humans share the same tragic fate: all are born into a world that "lies in wickedness" (1 Jn 5: 19), one "groaning in travail" (Rom 8:22); all are born into a devil's princedom where it is easy to do evil and hard to do good. Man's will is weakened and perverted by what the Greeks call desire and the Latins concupiscence. All human beings are subject to these spiritual effects of the ancestral sin.

Beyond this juncture, East and West are not in complete agreement as Blessed Augustine of Hippo's teaching on grace and free will is not in harmony with the consensus Patrum, the consensus of the Fathers. Blessed Augustine was the only main theologian the early Western Church had, whereas in the Eastern Church there were many. Thus, theology in the East was more balanced, including the theology on salvation. The Orthodox Church holds a less exalted view of the state of man prior to the fall, and it also sees the consequences of the fall in less severe terms than the West. Where Augustine (and thus the West) held that man fell from a state of all wisdom and knowledge, Orthodoxy believes that Adam fell from a state of undeveloped simplicity. Thus the East is less severe than the West in its judgment of Adam's transgression.

Undoubtedly the fall resulted in the darkening of man's mind and the impairing of his willpower so that he could no longer hope to attain the likeness of God. However, Orthodoxy does not teach that Adam's fall deprived man completely of God's grace (although after the fall, grace acts on man from the outside rather than from within). Orthodoxy rejects Calvin's view that after the fall man was completely depraved and entirely lacking in good desires. Orthodoxy likewise rejects Augustine's view that man is under "a harsh necessity" of committing sin, and that "man's nature was overcome by the fault into which it fell, and so came to lack freedom" [On the Perfection of Man's Righteousness, IV-9]. This pessimistic view came from the belief that the human race was not only wounded by Adam's transgression, but also inherited his guilt and thus was deprived of God's grace. (At the end of his life, Augustine wrote an entire book of retractions, in which he deferred to the judgment of the Church all he had ever written). Even though God's likeness can be distorted by sin, man still remains created in the image of God, and that image can never be destroyed. In the words of a hymn sung at the Orthodox funeral service for the laity: "I am the image of Thine inexpressible glory, even though I bear the wounds of sin." And because man still retains the image of God, he still retains a free will, however restricted in scope it becomes because of sin. St. Dositheus, Patriarch of Jerusalem, explained that even after the fall, God "takes not away from man the power to will — to will to obey or not to obey Him" [Confessions, Decree iii]. Upholding the idea of synergy, Orthodoxy rejects any interpretation of the fall which discards the idea of human freedom.

The idea of original guilt taught by Augustine (and which is still accepted in a mitigated form by the Roman Church) is rejected by the vast majority of Orthodox theologians. An occasional Augustinian view on the fall would creep into some Orthodox literature in times past, but it usually took place as a result of Western influence, such as the Scholastic influence on Kievan Russia at the time of Peter of Moghila. Most Eastern theologians hold that men automatically inherit the corruption and mortality of Adam, but not Adam's guilt. Men are guilty only insofar as they choose to imitate Adam.

Most Western Christians hold that nothing a man does in his fallen and unredeemed state can be pleasing to God since all actions are tainted by original guilt. The Anglican Church teaches that works before justification have the nature of sin and cannot be pleasing to God, and likewise the Latin Church speaks of justificatio prima and justificatio secunda, and the impossibility of man's actions being pleasing to God before Baptism and justification. All Orthodox would be very hesitant to think in these terms, for Orthodoxy's view of fallen mankind is nowhere near as harsh and condemnatory as the Augustinian or Calvinist view.

Also, Orthodoxy has never taught that unbaptized infants, because of their taint of original guilt, are condemned to hell (a view advocated by Augustine and many others in the West), nor has Orthodoxy ever maintained that they go to limbo. According to Roman Catholic theology, limbo, from limbus infantum or puerum, is a place where babies are consigned who died without actual sin (personal sin), but who did not have their original sin washed away in Baptism. The word limbus first appeared in Thomas Aquinas' Summa Theologica, which declares that unbaptized infants are "excluded from the full blessedness of the beatific vision." This teaching was declared de fide by the Second Council of Lyons (1274) and confirmed by the Council of Florence (1439), and the teaching is generally accepted by Roman theologians.

St. Gregory of Nyssa wrote a treatise entitled Concerning Infants Snatched Away Prematurely. In it, this Father states that infants departed from life neither find themselves in a painful state nor become equal to those who have struggled to be purified by every virtue. They are in God's providence. St. Gregory adds that anyway, the journey to God and participation in the uncreated light constitute a natural state of the soul, and infants cannot be deprived of these things. He concludes by noting that by the power of divine grace, infants can attain deification.

Even though Orthodoxy believes that man retained a free will after the fall and still was capable of good works, the East would certainly find common ground with the West in the belief that man's sin has set up a barrier between God and man, a barrier that man can never break down by his own efforts. Sin stood in the way of union with God, and man needed to be saved. Because man could not draw near to God, God came to man. As Bishop Alexander of Buenos Aires and South America of the Russian Church in Exile instructs in this regard: "Inasmuch as people, having sinned out of thoughtlessness and having fallen away from God, turned out to be too weak to repulse the onslaught of the powers of darkness, the Son of God was obliged to come into our world and to raise up a war against them."

16. What word does the textbook use to define the act of God's Incarnation?

The textbook defines God's Incarnation as an act of God's philanthropia. It interprets this word as God's loving-kindness towards mankind.

17. Would God have become incarnate even if man had not fallen?

It is the view of many Eastern writers — Saints Maximus the Confessor and Isaac the Syrian, among them — that even had man never fallen, God in His love for mankind would still have become man. The Incarnation, then, is not seen simply as an answer to the fall, but as part of the eternal purpose of God.

18. Because of the fall, the Incarnation of God the Word became even more than an act of love. It also became an act of what?

Because of the fall, the Incarnation became an act of salvation. By uniting man and God in His Person, God the Word reopened the way for men to be "at one" with God. Christ demonstrated in His Person what the true likeness of God is, and by His saving and redeeming sacrifice, He put that likeness back within the reach of man. Christ, the New and Final Adam, entered the world to reverse the effect of the first Adam's disobedience.

19. Write out the quote of St. Theophan the Recluse. Explain this quote.

St. Theophan the Recluse (+1894), a Russian bishop and an ascetic of the Orthodox Church, wrote: "Behind the veil of Christ's flesh, Christians behold the Triune God." In these words the bishop is emphasizing the divine glory of Christ, that in addition to His being born in the human flesh, Christ is eternally-born of the Un-Originate Father. The Orthodox doctrine of Christ, as defined in Holy Scriptures and in the Ecumenical Councils, is that He is true God and true man, one Person in two natures, without separation and confusion, a single Person, but endowed with two wills and two energies. Christ is "the image of the invisible God" (Col 1:15). "In Him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily" (Col 2:9). Thus the person who sees Christ sees God the Father. Christ is "true God from true God," the Nicene Creed states, "of one essence with the Father." He is the "reflection of the glory of God and the express image of His Person" (Heb 1:13). As Christ's beloved disciple wrote: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God" (Jn 1:1).

20. At what two moments in Christ's life was His divine glory made especially manifest?

The first great manifestation of Christ's divine glory was at the Transfiguration, when the uncreated light of Christ's Godhead shone like the sun, and the Apostles Peter, James and John saw that "in Him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily" (Col 2:9). (The biblical accounts do not mention the name of the mountain, but St. Cyril of Jerusalem assumes that it was Mount Tabor). The second great manifestation was at the Resurrection, when Christ swallowed up death forever and rose triumphant from the dead.

21. Write out in full the two quotations given on page 231 of the textbook.

Through all the vicissitudes of her history, the Greek Church has been enabled to preserve something of the very spirit of the first age of Christianity. Her Liturgy still enshrines that element of sheer joy in the Resurrection of the Lord that we find in so many of the early Christian writings. (P. Hammond, The Waters of Marah).

The theme of the Resurrection of Christ binds together all theological concepts and realities of Eastern Christianity and unites them in a harmonious whole. (0. Rousseau, "Incarnation et anthropologie en orient et en Occident," from Irenikon, vol. 26).

22. Write out the three hymns given on page 232 of the textbook, and explain the point that the textbook is trying to make with each of them.

He Who clothes Himself with light as with a garment,

Stood naked at the judgment.

On His cheek He received the blows

From the hands which He had formed.

The lawless multitude nailed to the Cross

The Lord of Glory.

Today is hanged upon the tree

He Who hanged the earth in the midst of the waters.

A crown of thorns crowns Him

Who is the King of the angels.

He is wrapped about with the purple of mockery

Who wraps the heavens in the clouds.

We worship Thy Passion, O Christ:

Show us also Thy glorious Resurrection!

I magnify Thy sufferings,

I praise Thy burial and Thy Resurrection,

Shouting, Lord, glory to Thee!

It is readily apparent to any outside observer that the joyful spirit of the Resurrection pervades the entire life of the Orthodox Church. Because of Orthodoxy's devotion to the divine glory of the Lord, however, it cannot be assumed that the Church overlooks Christ's humanity or minimizes the importance of the Cross. A common and incorrect assertion is that the East concentrates on the Risen Christ, while the West concentrates on Christ Crucified. The textbook explains that through these three Great Friday hymns, the East and West simply look at the Crucifixion in different ways.

The first hymn shows that Orthodoxy does not think of the Lord's human agony and distress simply by itself, but rather in terms of the contrast between Christ's outward humiliation and His hidden, inward majesty. The second hymn sees in the Innocent Sufferer not only the suffering humanity of Christ, but a suffering God on the Cross. In the third hymn, the textbook is showing that behind Christ's bleeding and broken flesh, Orthodoxy still discerns the Triune God.

Orthodoxy sees that the Crucifixion and Resurrection are but a single action, and they are never separated. Even in the sadness of Great Friday, the Church contemplates the Resurrection of Christ. Golgotha is a Theophany (a divine manifestation). Calvary points to the empty tomb, and the Cross of Christ is a sign of Christ's complete victory.

23. Write out the prayer from the first exorcism before Holy Baptism. From this prayer, can you explain why it is important to use the correct of the Lord's Prayer (deliver us from the evil-one)?

Also, which verse from the epistle to the Hebrews refers to the last line of this prayer?

The textbook gives this prayer from the first exorcism before Holy Baptism:

The Lord came into the world and dwelt among men, that He might destroy the tyranny of the devil and set man free. On the tree He triumphed over the powers which opposed Him, when the sun was darkened and the earth was shaken, when the graves were opened and the bodies of the saints arose. By death He destroyed death, and brought to naught him who had the power of death.

The translation "deliver us from evil" in the Lord's Prayer is incorrect. Christ stated: "Deliver us from the evil-one." The "evil-one" means crafty or cunning personality, and this name refers to the devil — the main source of all evil in the world. Temptations may arise from many different sources: from people, from unfavorable living conditions, but, chiefly, from our passions. For this reason we meekly confess our spiritual weakness at the end of the prayer to our Heavenly Father, asking Him to keep us from sin and to defend us from the intrigues of the prince of darkness — the devil.

24. Outline your understanding of the difference between the Orthodox and non-Orthodox understandings of Christ's Crucifixion.

Those brought up in the tradition of the medieval and post-medieval West view Christ's Crucifixion in isolation from the Resurrection and so come to stress Christ's suffering humanity at the expense of the image of Christ as a suffering God. The West dwells on the Man of Sorrows and sees Christ as the Victim, whereas the East sees Him as the Victor.

Moreover, Western Christians have been inclined to view the Crucifixion as an act of satisfaction or substitution meant to appease the wrath of the Father, thus making it take on penal or juridical aspects. Orthodoxy, on the other hand, sees the Crucifixion as Christ's triumphant victory over the powers of evil, and it sees the Cross as an emblem of that victory. St. John Chrysostom said: "I call Him King, because I see Him crucified." That is to say, Orthodoxy sees Christ as the victorious King not in spite of the Crucifixion, but because of it.

25. Christ's work of redemption cannot be considered apart from what?

Christ's work of redemption cannot be considered apart from the Holy Spirit's work of sanctification.

26. Write out St. Seraphim of Sarov's description of the whole purpose of the Christian life.

St. Seraphim of Sarov (+1833), one of the most revered of Russian saints, explained that:

Prayer, fasting, vigils and all other Christian practices, however good they may be in themselves, certainly do not constitute the aim of our Christian life: they are but the indispensable means of attaining that aim. For the true aim of the Christian life is the acquisition of the Holy Spirit of God. As for fasts, vigils, prayer and almsgiving, and other good works done in the name of Christ, they are only the means of acquiring the Holy Spirit of God.

Concerning this explanation, in his extensive research on ancient African Orthodox Christianity, Fr. Paisius Altschul shows that the path of influence of Egyptian monasticism has been traced from the Egyptian Thebaid to the farthest corners of the Christian world. In Russia, as elsewhere, he notes, ascetic recluses patterned their spiritual struggle on the monastic principles that had been developed in the Egyptian desert. As for St. Seraphim, although he was separated by fifteen hundred years from the Desert Fathers, the spirituality was the same. Fr. Paisius also notes that the saint did not claim that his teaching was anything new or unique, but only that it had been lost. He further explains that St. Seraphim's ideas are to be seen in the homilies of St. Macarius the Great of Egypt. Both saints often use the same words, images and parables, and both describe the need to acquire the Holy Spirit. Likewise, both explain the Gospel parable of the ten virgins in the same way, stating that the oil needed for the lamps is the grace of the Holy Spirit, and stating that the acquisition of the Holy Spirit is the oil that the virgins lacked. The similarities between the two are striking. Fr. Paisius concludes that the point is not whether St. Seraphim knew the homilies of St. Macarius the Great, but that both saints were partakers of the same tradition and were imbued with the same Holy Spirit.

27. According to Vladimir Lossky, what is summed up in these words of St. Seraphim?

Vladimir Lossky, an Orthodox theological writer, states that the saint's words sum up the whole spiritual tradition of the Orthodox Church.

28. Summarize your understanding of the work of the Holy Spirit in the Church.

The Life-giving Holy Spirit is the third Person of the Holy and Life-creating Trinity, and He is completely one with the Father and the Son. Concerning Christ's work of redemption and the Holy Spirit's work of sanctification, they are very much interconnected. As St. Athanasius taught in this regard, "The Word took flesh that we might receive the Holy Spirit." Moreover, because the Church is the Body of Christ, it is also the temple and dwelling-place of the Holy Spirit. St. Irenaeus instructed that "where the Church is, there is the Holy Spirit, and where the Spirit is, there is the Church."

The Holy Spirit came to the Christian Church at Pentecost (Acts 2: 3) as the final fulfillment of Christ's earthly mission, and as the completion of the Old Testament prophecy that in the time of the Messiah-King, the Spirit of God would be "poured out on all flesh" (Joel 2:28, Acts 1:14). With His descent, the Apostles were given the gift of inspired preaching and the gift of preaching in various languages previously unknown to them. Regarding this event, which is celebrated every year on the feast of Pentecost, it is explained that:

The Holy Spirit descended in the form of tongues of fire to show that He is not separate from the living Word and also to empower the Holy Apostles with the use of words, for they were to teach the multitudes and bring them to Christ. He descended, then, in the form of fire to show, on the one hand, that God is a consuming fire, while on the other hand, the need of purification, and His grace rested upon them in tongues. In former times those who were of one language were confused and divided into a multitude of tongues, but now those who knew only one language received a multitude of tongues so that they could gather those of different languages who were scattered to the far reaches of the world. This all happened on a day of festival so that there would be a larger number gathered together, and so that through them the news would be spread far and wide. Also, so that those who had been present at the time of Pascha and who had seen all that had happened to Christ would have reason to be amazed. This happened on the day of Pentecost because it was fitting that the grace of the Holy Spirit be poured out at the same time that the Old Law had been received, just as Christ was the new and true Pascha in place of the old Passover [Synaxarion of the Lenten Triodion and Pentecostarion, p. 239].

In addition to the descent upon the Apostles, there is a special ministry of the Holy Spirit to those within the Church. Regarding this ministry and the manifestation of God's grace in the Church's Holy Mysteries, Vladimir Lossky writes:

As [the Holy Spirit] descended upon the disciples [at Pentecost] in tongues of fire, so [He] descends invisibly upon the newly baptized in the Sacrament of Holy [Chrismation].... The Holy Spirit is operative in both Sacraments. He recreates our nature by purifying it and uniting it to the Body of Christ. He also bestows... divine grace upon human persons. It is on account of this intimate connection between the two Sacraments of Baptism and [Chrismation] that the uncreated and deifying gift, which the descent of the Holy Spirit confers upon the members of the Church, is frequently referred to as baptismal grace.... Baptismal grace, the presence within us of the Holy Spirit... is the foundation of all Christian life [Mystical Theology, pp. 170-71].

The Church lives by the Holy Spirit, Who insures the existence of God's kingdom on earth. The Holy Spirit guides Christians to God's life, truth and love. As Christ told the Apostles, "When the Spirit of Truth comes, He will guide you in all truth; for He will not speak of His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak, and He will declare to you the things that are to come" (Jn 16:13).

Moreover, through the Holy Spirit, Christians are made children of God. As the Apostle Paul instructs: "All who are led by the Spirit are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery... but you received the Spirit of sonship. When we cry, Abba! Father! it is the Spirit Himself bearing witness to our spirit that we are children of God" (Rom 8:14-15). The Holy Spirit also gives Christians life. As St. Paul writes: "If the Spirit of Him Who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He Who raised Jesus from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies through the Spirit Who dwells in you" (Rom 8:11).

The Holy Spirit also appears and is recognized by His actions in other ways. From sacred history, the action of the Holy Spirit is seen in the ancient gifts of divinely inspired prophecy; in the superhuman strength of the martyrs, who were subjected to torments for their Christian faith; in the preservation of the truths of Sacred Tradition from distortion; and in the Church's preservation of divine Truth.

Furthermore, the Holy Spirit gives Christians every gift from God and divine help for those spiritually laboring to gather within themselves spiritual fruits. Among these gifts, St. Paul enumerates the following: wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, the working of miracles, prophecy, the discerning of spirits, and the gift of tongues and their interpretation (1 Cor 12:4-11). Elsewhere, St. Paul shows that the Holy Spirit gives the possibility of sharing God's divine nature and life, and the ability to love one another. In his epistle to the Galatians, St. Paul teaches:

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.... For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting (Gal 5:22-25, 6:8).

Ultimately, a complete listing of the gifts of the Holy Spirit is not possible. As St. John the Baptist stated: "God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him" (Jn 3:34); and as St. Paul stated: "But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal" (1 Cor 12:7). Also, the gifts of the Holy Spirit have degrees, and in order to acquire them, repentance is necessary. "Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:38).

The Orthodox Church lays great stress upon the work of the third Person of the Holy Trinity, the All-Holy Spirit. With its every sacramental action, and most notably at the climax of the Eucharistic Prayer, the Holy Spirit is solemnly invoked. Moreover, introducing the Trisagion is the following prayer, one which is also recited at almost every Orthodox service, and which is recited by Orthodox in their daily private prayers that begin each day. Through this prayer to the Holy Spirit, Orthodox place themselves under His protection:

O Heavenly King, Comforter, Spirit of Truth, Who art every where present and fillest all things, Treasury of good things and Giver of life: Come and dwell in us, and cleanse us of all impurity, and save our souls, O Good One.

Importantly, this prayer is an affirmation of an additional ministry of the Holy Spirit, one outside the purview of question 28. In addition to the special ministry of the Holy Spirit — that is, His work in the Church, there is a general ministry as well, one towards all creation. In this general ministry, the Holy Spirit fills all things with the energies of God in His role as the divine agent of Him by Whom "all things consist" (Col 1:17). St. Athanasius of Alexandria notes in this regard that the Son is said to be co working with the Father in creation and with the Spirit in consummation, so the Spirit co-works with the Father in creation and the Son in redemption. The Holy Spirit works in all creation, in providence, and in the entire history of salvation, activities that are general operations shared in by the three Persons of the Holy Trinity.

As one writer also notes, the Holy Spirit creates (Gen 1:2, Ps 104: 30, Job 33:4); He redeems (Isa 44:3,23); and He offers gifts to creatures (Gen 2:7, 41:38, Exod 28:3, 31:3). It is also noted that the Holy Spirit illumines reason, enables political order, and restrains the capacity for humanity to destroy itself. Additional "general operations" of the Holy Spirit that are shared with the Father and Son include (but are not limited to) the offering of life, supporting newly given life, and nurturing and strengthening continuing life — all life, whether plant, animal or human.

29. Give the definition of theosis.

Theosis is the process of deification or divinization, whereby Christians become "partakers of the divine nature" (2 Peter 1:4). St. Dionysius the Aeropagite states in his writings that the spiritual life has three stages: purification, illumination, and perfection. This explanation is likewise given by all the Holy Fathers of the Church. Moreover, as Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos goes on to add, these stages are not to be conceived as water-tight compartments, but as degrees of participation in the grace of God.

The Orthodox Church teaches that to become a god is the final goal at which every Christian must aim. St. Basil the Great expressed this idea when he described man as a creature who has received the order to become a god, and St. Seraphim of Sarov likewise taught of the necessity of theosis when he explained that the goal of each Christian is the acquisition of the Holy Spirit. Also, as a prior chapter noted, St. Athanasius stated that God became man that man might become god.

In speaking of theosis, it is necessary to refer back to the distinction between the essence and energies of God (vide chapter 8 answer 4). With this difference in mind, Vladimir Lossky explains that the union to which Christians are called is neither hypostatic (as in the case of the human nature of Christ), nor is it substantial (as in that of the three divine Persons). Instead, it is a union with God in His energies, or union by grace, making people able to participate in the divine nature, without their essence becoming thereby the essence of God [Cf. The Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church, p. 85 ff]. Orthodoxy understands that grace is the very energies of God Himself. Through the ministry of the Holy Spirit — a ministry that involves both general and special activities — these energies are mediated to mankind.

In Orthodox America, a periodical of Orthodox traditionalism, the editor Mary Mansur explains that man became ill when the nous (what the Holy Fathers call the eye of the soul) became darkened by sin. It was overcome by reason and became subject to the passions, and the result was the disruption of the whole inner functioning of the soul, she explains. As Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos adds:

Man's basic problem is to learn to see his internal malady, which is specifically the captivity and darkness of the nous.... If we ignore our inner sickness, our spiritual life ends up in an empty moralism, in a superficiality ["From the Bookshelf: The Illness and Cure of the Soul in the Orthodox Tradition," Orthodox America, vol. 18, no. 6, 2000, p. 11].

And that is the point where Western theology is. The metropolitan also states that when we understand Orthodoxy as a therapeutic method, it becomes clear that the:

... Mysteries and all the ascetic tradition of the Church are meant to lead us where Adam was before the fall — that is, to the illumination of the nous, and from there to divinization, which is man's original destination [Ibid].

Deification (theosis) should be the goal for all Christians. As the quotes from Scriptures and the Fathers in this work show, there is a solid biblico-patristic basis for the tradition of this teaching.

30. What, in the textbook's words, lies behind the doctrine of theosis?

The textbook states that behind the doctrine of theosis there lies the idea of man made according to the image and likeness of God in the Holy Trinity.

31. Write out the verse of St. John's Gospel cited by the textbook to demonstrate the idea of theosis.

Christ prayed at the Mystical Supper, "May they all be one: as Thou, Father, art in Me and I in Thee, so also may they be one in Us" (Jn 17:21).

32. How does St. Maximus the Confessor describe the saints?

St. Maximus the Confessor describes the saints as those who express the Holy Trinity in themselves.

33. What idea is expressed constantly in St. John's Gospel and in St. Paul's epistles?

St. John's Gospel and St. Paul's epistles repeatedly express the idea of a personal and organic union between God and man, a union of God dwelling in His people and His people dwelling in Him. St. Paul saw the Christian life first and foremost as a life "in Christ."

34. Write out the verse given from the Apostle Peter's second epistle which demonstrates the idea of theosis.

Through these promises you may become partakers of the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4).

35. What stipulations does the textbook place on our understanding of union with God? Your answer should have three parts.

First, Orthodoxy's teaching on deification rejects all forms of pantheism. Union with God in no wise involves union with His divine essence; it involves instead union with His divine energies. "He who is deified through grace acquires all that God has, without also being identified with Him in essence" (St. Gregory Palamas).

Secondly, man always retains his full personal integrity, no matter how closely he becomes united to God. Although the union between God and man is a true union, Creator and creature do not become fused into a single being in it. Orthodox mystical theology rejects the notion of Eastern religions that man is entirely absorbed into the deity. Man in his deified state is distinct from God (although not separate from Him). Just as the mystery of the Holy Trinity is a mystery of unity in diversity, so it is among those who express the Trinity in themselves: they still keep their personal characteristics. When St. Maximus the Confessor wrote that "God and those who are worthy of God have one and the same energy" [from Ambigua], he was not saying that the saints lose their free will, but that when deified, they voluntarily and lovingly bring their own will into compliance with God's will.

Lastly, man's becoming a god does not put an end to his being human. "We remain creatures while becoming god by grace, as Christ remained God when becoming Man by the Incarnation," so Vladimir Lossky explains. Man can never become God by nature, but becomes merely a created god, a god by grace or status.

To become a partaker of the divine nature through theosis, something from God, is not to be confused with its satanic counterfeit offered in the New Age movement. At a time with the powers of darkness are pushing forward toward the new world order and global rule, the same element has devised the New Age movement and has presented its religious ideas as something conceived by the most illumined minds, the only exit out of the current global crises, the last hope for salvation, and the greatest good for achieving mutual tolerance and love. Since the lie of the serpent ye shall be as gods is repeated in this movement, and since only Christ gives people that which the serpent could only tempt mankind with, the following explanation is given of this movement:

The New Age movement is a conglomerate of pagan practices with a mixing of ancient mysteries, Hindu mysticism, humanism, occultism and Luciferism. The main concept of the New Age movement, the idea which permeates and connects all of the various aspects of this new religion, their common denominator, is the concept of a higher force, a god of forces, in which every enlightened person has a part. It is, further, an understanding of the "godness" of man's essence and one's ability to tap into this godhood-of-self by means of prescribed and verified techniques. Using the words of one prominent New Age proselytizer, actress Shirley MacLaine: "Man has existed from the beginning of time and space.... Man was the co-creator with God of the cosmos.... The tragedy of the human race was that we had forgotten that we were each divine.... You must never worship anyone or anything other than self. For you are God. To love self is to love God.... I know that I exist, therefore I am. I know that the God source exists, therefore it is. Since I am part of that force, then I am that I am."

Are MacLaine's words not a repeat of the serpent's lie with which he tempted the first people by saying, "Ye shall be as gods" (Gen 3:5)? Is this not the very same lie which brought about man's fall when he accepted it, which brought about his eviction from Paradise and brought about his death? Is not man's acceptance of this lie the reason why Christ needed to come to earth and take upon Himself suffering for our redemption? Going back even further in time, is this not a repeat of the rebellion against God by Lucifer, who was so overcome with pride that he attempted to place his throne in place of God's throne?

According to a recent poll, two thirds of Americans believe in some aspect of New Age teachings. These ideas have permeated all spheres of society and education. However, this is not sufficient for those coming into power. They need to change the consciousness of mankind in its foundation. Therefore, they have started with the most available, the most naive and susceptible group. The last and most frightening phase of this onslaught has begun; it is a phase in which the remnants of Christian thinking will receive their final blow. The arena has been transferred to the souls of children ["The New Age and Children," Orthodox Life, vol. 42, no. 6, 1992, p. 20].

The anonymous writer of these lines goes on to explain that today, TV is a tool of socio-religious indoctrination through which concepts of good and evil are presented in totally inverted manner against a backdrop of magic, the supernatural and the demonic. He also shows how New Age indoctrination goes on in public schools, In view of this onslaught of propaganda, it is all the more urgent to understand what true union with God is, and what its New Age counterfeit is about.

36. Does theosis (deification or divinization) refer only to man's soul, or does it also have relation to the body?

Theosis involves the body as well as the soul.

37. Write out the short quotation from St. Maximus the Confessor given on page 237 of the textbook, and give the explanation which precedes it.

St. Maximus the Confessor wrote: "Man's body is deified at the same time as his soul." The textbook explains that because man is a union of soul and body, and because the Incarnate Christ has saved the whole man, then it follows that man is to be deified in both body and soul.

38. Write out the two scriptural quotes given on page 238, and explain what point the textbook is seeking to make with these two quotations.

Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 6:19). Therefore, my brothers, I beseech you by God's mercy to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice to God (Rom 12:1).

It is sometimes thought that the body is unimportant. This idea is a carryover from pre-Christian Greek ideas, and the first quote is to show that this idea is false. Orthodox asceticism does not regard the body as evil, nor does it seek to free the soul from it. According to the Orthodox teaching, it is not the body that is evil, but a carnal mind is evil. The body is transformed by the grace of God. The body is sanctified in Baptism, it is sanctified by the reception of the Holy Eucharist, and, as the first quote shows, it is a temple and dwelling-place of the Holy Spirit. They body (as well as the soul) belongs to God.

Because of the sanctification of the body, Orthodox Christians have an immense reverence for the relics of saints. They understand that the grace of God that was present in the saints' bodies during life remains active in their relics after their repose, and that God uses these relics as a channel of divine power and as a means of healing. Protopresbyter Michael Pomazansky explains in this regard that the honor shown to relics has a firm foundation in the fact that God Himself has deigned to honor and glorify them by innumerable signs and miracles — something for which there is testimony throughout the whole course of the Church's history.

As another writer explains, when Orthodox Christians venerate relics, they venerate not the matter itself, but the living and life-creating power of the Holy Spirit, which makes them not only incorrupt, but also healing. From Sacred Scripture, it is known that from the touch of the bones of the Prophet Elisseus a dead man resurrected (4 Kings [2 Kings, KJV] 13:21); a woman with an issue of blood received healing from touching the hem of the Saviour’s garment (Mt 9:20-22); and the sick and possessed were healed by laying on them the Apostle Paul's handkerchiefs and aprons (Acts 19:12). The same divine power that was inherent in the bones of the Prophet Elisseus, the garments of the Saviour, and the handkerchiefs of the Apostle Paul, also grants incorruption and miracle-working power to the bodies of the saints to strengthen the faith of Christians. Therefore, as to the attacks that relegate Orthodoxy's reverence of relics to the realm of superstition and gross ignorance, these attacks are unwarranted.

Fr. Michael Pomazansky explains that the bodies of Christians who have lived a righteous life or have become holy through receiving a martyr's death, are worthy of special veneration and honor. Following Sacred Tradition, the Orthodox Church has always shown honor to holy relics (in Greek, ta leipsana, in Latin, reliquiae, both meaning that what is left; in Old Slavonic, moshchi). Fr. Michael states that the honor given to relics has been expressed a) in the reverent collection and preservation of the remains of the saints of God, as is known from accounts even of the second century, and then from the testimonies of later times; b) in the solemn uncovering and translation of holy relics; c) in the building over them of churches and altars; d) in the establishment of feasts in memory of their uncovering or translation; e) in pilgrimages to holy tombs, and in adorning them; f) in the constant rule of the Church to place relics of holy martyrs at the dedication of altars, or to place holy relics in the holy antimension upon which is performed the Divine Liturgy.

Fr. Michael concludes his explanation by stating that in revering holy relics, Christians do not believe in the power or might of the remains of the saints themselves. Instead, they believe in the prayerful intercession of those saints whose holy relics are before them. These relics arouse in their hearts a feeling of the nearness to them of the saints of God themselves, who once wore these bodies.

Archimandrite Panteleimon of Jordanville also writes about relics. He notes that by the will of God, the bodies of some saints remain incorruptible for many years. This incorruption is a visible witness of the holiness of the saints, a visible sign of God's blessing residing in their very bodies. Fr. Panteleimon notes that in them, the words of David have come true — not only in relation to the Saviour, but in relation to His faithful servants as well: "For Thou [Lord] wilt not suffer Thine Holy One to see corruption" (Ps 15:10).

Fr. Panteleimon cites various Fathers who expound on the incorruption and miraculous power of relics. St. Ephraim the Syrian, for example, states that:

Even after death, saints act as they did when living, healing the sick, expelling demons, and by the power of the Lord repelling every evil action of their tortuous realm. For the miracle-working blessing of the Holy Spirit is always inherent in holy relics [Quoted in Archimandrite Panteleimon, A Ray of Light: Instructions in Piety and the State of the World at the End of Time, p. 20].

Likewise, with these words St. John Chrysostom invited all to approach the relics of St. Ignatius the God-Bearer, the second bishop of Antioch and martyr:

If you are sorrowful, ill, wronged, in some other trouble, or in the depths of sin, run to him with faith: you will receive aid and depart with great happiness, sensing an easing of your conscience.... This treasure is needful for all: for the unfortunate, since it frees them from calamities, and for the fortunate, for it confirms their fortune, and for the ailing, for it returns well-being to them, and for the healthy, for it turns away disease [Ibid].

The second scriptural quote above deals with the necessity of the deification of the body. Since man is a unity of body and soul, and since he cannot sin with the body and keep the soul undefiled, St. Paul exhorts Christians to be holy in body. Through this quote, the textbook is showing that deification most assuredly involves the body as well as it does the soul.

39. Outline ten important points in understanding the doctrine of theosis.

(1) The first fruits of visible bodily glorification have on occasion come to the saints even in this life. The textbook mentions some saints who have shone with the divine light in their earthly lives — St. Seraphim of Sarov, St. Arsenius the Great and Abba Pambo. St. Gregory Palamas states that "if in the age to come the body will share with the soul in unspeakable blessings, it is certain that it must share in them, so far as possible, even now" [The Tome of the Holy Mountain].

(2) The glory of the saints in the earthly life, however, is most often one of an inward splendor, one of the soul alone. The full deification of the body will not be actualized until the Last Day, when the saints rise from the dead and become clothed in a spiritual body. Then the sanctity formerly hidden in their souls will be manifested bodily, and the saints' bodies will be outwardly transfigured by the divine light that the Apostles witnessed at Christ's Transfiguration.

(3) Since theosis involves the sanctification and transfiguration of the body along with the soul, Orthodoxy reveres the relics of saints. This reverence does not spring from superstition or ignorance, but comes from a highly developed theology of the body. The relics of the saints contain the same divine grace that was present when the saints were alive, and these are used by God as a channel of divine power and as a means of healing, as was noted above. The same reverence is shown to the bones of the saints as is to the bodies of those who have remained free from corruption.

(4) Theosis involves a cosmic redemption. In addition to man's body, all of the material creation is eventually going to be transfigured. As St. John the Theologian writes: "Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away"(Rev 21:1). Redeemed man will not be taken away from creation, for it is to be saved and glorified with him. (Here the textbook draws attention to a point made in a former lesson: icons are the first fruits of the redemption of matter). Scriptures mention that: "... the created universe waits with eager expectation for God's sons to be revealed... for the universe itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and will enter into the liberty and splendor of the children of God. We know that until now the whole created universe has been groaning in the pangs of childbirth" (Rom 8:19-22).

The belief in the redemption of the universe, just like the Orthodox doctrine of icons and the doctrine of the human body, stems from a correct understanding of the Incarnation: Christ took flesh (something material) and thus made possible the redemption and metamorphosis of all creation — not only the spiritual world, but the material world as well. Noteworthy in this regard is Protopresbyter Michael Pomazansky's explanation that:

The end of the world will consist not in its total destruction and annihilation, but in a complete change and renewal of it. The Fifth Ecumenical Council, in refuting the various false teachings of the Origenists, solemnly condemned also their false teaching that the material world would not merely be transformed, but would be totally annihilated [Orthodox Dogmatic Theology, p. 345].

(5) Theosis is not a remote process reserved for a select few, but is rather the normal goal for each individual Christian without exception. This process must begin for all of them in this present life, even though they will only be fully deified on the Last Day. Granted, very few in this life attain a full mystical union with God, but every true Christian who tries to love God and keep His commandments (however weak his attempts and however often he fails) — such a person is already deified to some degree.

(6) A person being deified does not lose consciousness of sin, for theosis involves a continued act of repentance. However advanced a saint is on the path of holiness, he still repeats, "Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy upon me, a sinner." (Concerning this prayer, the Jesus Prayer, which is mentioned in one of the novels of J.D. Salinger, it has the mysterious property and power of expelling demons from a person. This property was discussed by the Lord Himself, Who said that those who believe in Him in His name will cast out demons — cf. Mk 16:17). The saints grew all the more conscious and sorrowful of their sins as they progressed in union with God. The textbook explains that "Orthodox mystical theology is a theology of glory and transfiguration, but it is also a theology of penitence."

(7) The method to follow in order to be deified does not involve anything extraordinary or esoteric. It involves attendance at church, the reception of the Holy Mysteries (Sacraments) on a regular basis, praying to God "in spirit and truth," the reading of the Gospels, and the following of the commandments.

(8) Deification is a social process rather than a solitary, selfish one. As noted, deification involves keeping the commandments, and these are summed up by Christ as the love of God and the love of neighbor. The two cannot be separated, for a man is able to love his neighbor only if he loves God above all else, and ... he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God Whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from Him, that he who loves God should love his brother also (1 Jn 4:20-21).

Likewise did St. Anthony of Egypt instruct: "From our neighbor is life and from our neighbor is death. If we win our neighbor we win God, but if we cause our neighbor to stumble we sin against Christ."

The textbook explains that man, who is made in the image and likeness of God, can only realize the divine likeness if he lives a common life such as that of the Holy Trinity. Man must dwell with his fellow men just as the three Persons of the Godhead dwell in one another. That is, man must not live for himself alone, but he must live in and for other people. This kind of co-suffering love is shown in the words of a Desert Father who said: "If it were possible for me to find a leper and to give him my body and to take his, I would gladly do it" [Apophthegmata].

(9) Deification, even though it involves heights of mystical experience, is also practical, down-to-earth, and even prosaic. Not only does it involve hesychasts praying in silence and saints radiant with the divine light, but it also involves the commonplace tasks with which St. Herman of Alaska busied himself. Accounts of his life mention his carrying heavy timbers to build the mission at Spruce Island; his digging a trench to contain a wildfire that threatened the native Indians' habitat; his painstaking nursing of those who were stricken with a smallpox epidemic; his teaching the locals the arts of agriculture, carpentry an other useful crafts; and his hard labors in feeding and clothing orphans and buying books for his students. The mystical and practical experiences are not two separate ways, but are one and the same way. Orthodoxy rejects all forms of quietism and all forms of love that do not issue in action.

(10) Deification involves life in the Church and the reception of the Holy Mysteries, for through them Christians partake of the uncreated grace of God. The Mysteries are the means established by God whereby people acquire the Holy Spirit and are transformed into the divine likeness. As the New-Martyr Tikhon, Patriarch of All Russia, wrote, it is through the Holy Mysteries that a Christian is cleansed of sin and becomes a beloved child of the Lord.

40. Does theosis take place for the soul in this life as part of one's salvation so that the soul of the believer is already deified before it leaves the body? Or does theosis take place only after the Last Judgment?

Theosis must take place for the soul in this life. As mentioned above, few attain a full mystical union with God in this life, and people will only be fully deified on the Last Day. Nevertheless, deification must begin here and now as part of a person's salvation.

41. What is the only real difference in the realization of theosis between the body and soul?

In the present life, the saints have an inward splendor, one of the soul alone. The same glory that is hidden in their souls during their earthly lives will manifest itself in the next life in an outward way. On the Day of Resurrection, the glory of the Holy Spirit will come out from within and will cover the bodies of the saints so that their bodies will be outwardly transfigured by the divine light. Thus, although deification involves both soul and body, bodily deification will not become apparent until the next life.

42. What questions were raised in your mind by this chapter and then left unanswered?

The Apostle Paul wrote that "the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now" (Rom 8:22). That is, because of the fall of the progenitors of the human race, the universe was turned into a cosmic cemetery. Nature does not have a moral will, and thus it did not fall by itself but was swept along to decay by Adam and Eve. Their sin had immense consequences for nature. Since the world is groaning in torment until it is saved by God, and since all members of the human race and all creation share this tragic fate, questions arose concerning Adam and Eve's transgression and how it affected not only man's existence on earth, but also the existence of the plant and animal kingdoms as well.

More specifically, questions concerned the presence on earth of bacteria, viruses and pathogens in general; of sporozoan parasites, blood protozoans and every kind of internal and external parasite causing sickness and misery to humans and animals. Was the evil unleashed in the fall such that the RNA and DNA of living organisms changed to the extent that harmful traits started to emerge in certain ones as they multiplied? Was mankind's first sin the cause of damaging mutations that brought about insect pests and vectors (mosquitoes, flies, lice, cockroaches, boll weevils, termites, locusts, wasps, yellow jackets, hornets, fire ants, etc.), and the cause of harmful arachnids such as poisonous spiders, ticks, mites, chiggers and scorpions?

Investigation into this matter led to the ineluctable conclusion that science has no data whatsoever concerning the primitive life of man. Even a Time magazine article "How Man Began" (March 14, 1994) contains an open admission that paleontology is a "data-poor, imagination-rich" field in which there are few certainties. The entire article, in fact, is saturated with uncertainties such as perhaps, presumably, appears to be, seemingly, if, and such-like. The famous French anthropologist Katrefage gets to the truth of the matter in his observation that:

Neither experience nor observation gives us the slightest facts concerning the very beginning of mankind. Strict science must therefore leave inviolate this problem. He who acknowledges his ignorance in the given case recedes less from the truth than he who does not acknowledge it and strives to press it on to others [Quoted in Ivan Andreyev, Orthodox Apologetic Theology, p. 131].

Dr. Andreyev states that the one oblique proof of the correctness of biblical teaching in this question are the most ancient traditions of diverse peoples about the primitive state of the race of man. Comparative study of these traditions, the same professor writes, forces us to conjecture their common source — the actuality in the past of a "golden age" or Paradise. Dr. Andreyev explains that:

Dim traditions about Paradise and its loss through the fall are met among peoples of Assyria-Babylon, the Persians, the Chinese, the Indians, the Egyptians, the ancient Greeks, the Romans, etc. In other words, biblical teaching about the primitive state of man is not alone. Various versions of this teaching are met in traditions of people of Asia, Europe, Africa, Australia and America (in Mexico, Paraguay, and others). What can explain this remarkable mutual accord in traditions of various peoples about the primitive state and fall of man? The only explanation can be the historical actuality of Paradise and its loss through the fall. [Ibid].

Further investigation into this matter brought to light the findings of a biophysicist, one Dr. Lee Spetner. This scientist's research shows that all useful genetic information was initially present in each organism. He demonstrates that chance mutations cannot produce grand-scale evolution since these mutations result not in increased genetic information, but rather in a loss of information. His findings thus support the traditional view that the universe is devolving.

Dr. Spetner goes on to posit that the variations that do occur within each kind of organism are the result of "triggers" or "cues" which a "biological Engineer" (that is, God) built into organisms to enable them to adapt to their environment [Cf. Not by Chance! Shattering the Modern Theory of Evolution, 1977]. This postulate and all of this scientist's research accord well with the idea that living organisms underwent injurious changes as a consequence of man's fall.

Another question concerned the explanation of the cause and spread of evil and suffering that is found in pre-Christian Greek mythology. According to this account, evil appeared and extended across the face of the earth when a certain Pandora opened a box contrary to a command that she was not to do so. Is this story based on the Genesis account of the curse that followed Adam and Eve's fall?

In all likelihood it is, given the fact that many different peoples and nations have preserved, in one degree or another, a mutually agreeable account of another biblical narrative as well — that of the flood. As the findings of the English scientist Arthur Hook show, these nations include those of the Fertile Crescent and adjacent areas — the Greeks themselves, among them, as well as the Phrygians, Chaldeans, Phoenicians, Babylonians, Assyrians, Armenians and Persians, and also more geographically isolated peoples — the Indians and Chinese, and even the Mexicans. Also testifying to a widespread tradition that the flood was an even that gripped all mankind are the compilations made by secular historians (R. Andree, H. Usener and T.G. Frazer). In these, it is shown that accounts of a great deluge are to be found in cultures all over the world, on all continents. In the majority of flood stories, the deluge results from the sins of a fallen humanity, the old world is submerged under the waters, only a few people and animals are saved, and a new world comes into being [Cf. Mircea Eliade, A History of Religious Ideas, vol. 1, pp. 63-64]. Among the most interesting flood stories are those of the Australian aboriginal people, which are filled with striking parallels to the Genesis account.

Related research showed that idolatry developed after the fall and was the product of man's fallen nature. The Holy Fathers state that the development of natural religions occurred because the knowledge of God was still in people's memories. Adam was granted a long life of 930 years so that tradition could be established — that is, so he could tell many generations of people all that he had experienced. Even though most of his and Eve's progeny lived far away from God as they began to scatter across the face of the earth, they maintained a knowledge of God, however limited, by word of mouth and memory. However, because of the sins that separate men from God, their reason was clouded, and in time they began to forget the invisible true God, the Creator of the world. With fewer and fewer righteous men, there was no one to teach people true faith in God. Concurrent with this development, as people still retained a need inside to reach something divine, myths began about the creation of the world, about a universal flood, etc., as well as false faith, superstition.

The book of Genesis mentions two groups of closely related peoples who had come to inhabit the earth — the sons of God and the daughters of men (Gen 6:2-4). The Fathers understand the sons of God to be the offspring of Seth, the chosen race. These "Sethites" were a people who maintained a knowledge of God, albeit an imperfect knowledge. Their path was one of striving towards personal reconciliation with God and repentance before Him in the hope of someday receiving forgiveness and the return of the condition which had been lost. It is from these sons of God that faith in one God was passed on to Abraham and his descendants. By the time of Moses, the other peoples had lost this truth for some time. Even among the Hebrews, surrounded as they were by polytheistic nations, the truth of one God was becoming darkened, and it was threatened to die out during the Egyptian captivity.

These sons of God are also the giants mentioned in Genesis 6:5, according to St. Ephraim the Syrian. By giants, one does not need to understand enormous men. According to St. Ephraim, because these people were the descendants of blessed Seth and were dwelling in the land along the boundaries of the fence of Paradise, their produce was abundant and full of strength. So too were the bodies of those who ate that produce strong, tall, full of stature and powerful. It is thought that these same giants with their mighty deeds of strength (manifested perhaps in wars with the offspring of Cain) would have been the origin of the "gods" of later legend in Greece and other lands.

The Sethites were called the sons of God because through them, Christ was to be born. They were therefore to keep themselves pure and to preserve in themselves virtue, and they were not supposed to marry into the line of Cain. However, moved by carnal lust, they began to abandon their own wives for the daughters of Cain. Although the Sethites were the chosen people, they eventually became corrupt through this practice of intermarriage and were destroyed, save Noah and his sons.

Regarding this second group of people, the daughters of men, these were the offspring of Cain. These "Canaanites" (not to be confused with the Canaanites) were not the chosen people but were forbidden people, the outcasts. As Fr. Gregory Naumenko points out, the path of the Sethites and the path of the Canaanites are two differing reactions of man's reason to the fall into sin and the resultant banishment from Paradise. After the banishment, the first people came to know hard labor in their struggle with nature, and they began to know suffering from disease and injury, and finally they encountered death. Already, the first steps of man outside Paradise were covered with the blood of fratricide, after which came new crimes, corruption, wars, polygamy, etc. Because of these sufferings, the desire to regain the blessed existence of Paradise became the all-encompassing goal of the entire human race, although the means of attempting the practical attainment of this goal were different. Unlike the Sethites, the Canaanites took the circuitous (indirect) route and attempted to recreate the actual paradisiacal blessed condition by earthly means. That is, they attempted to set up their life on earth without God, following the example of their ancestor Cain, who after murdering his brother Abel "went out from the Lord.. [and] built a city" (Gen 4:16-17), thus laying the foundation of material civilization. Along with the appearance of cities, external culture began to develop. Trades appeared, and machinery began its development, along with the sciences and art. All these things, however, were only a coarse substitute for the free creativeness that Adam and Even had in Paradise.

Concerning the offspring of Cain, St. Ephraim states that they were small. The house of Cain, he explains, because the earth had been cursed so as not to give them its strength, produced small harvests, deprived of its strength, just as it is today that some seeds, fruits and grasses give strength and some do not. Because these people were cursed and were dwelling in the land of curses, they would gather and eat produce that lacked nutrition, and those who ate were without strength, just like the food that they ate. This same Father states that a preponderance of daughters was born to the offspring of Cain, indicating a dying out of Cain's descendants and their desire to marry the sons of Seth so as to protect their race.

With the offspring of Cain and with those of the other offspring of Adam, there came to be two parallel lines of humanity. These lines were images, as it were, of the true followers of God and the apostates from Him, or as Blessed Augustine of Hippo later described it, the City of God and the City of Man. It was this second group of people, the descendants of Adam and Eve through Cain, who mixed the true faith with demonic ideas, thus giving birth to pagan religion.

Thus, on the basis of this history, it appears all the more certain that the mythical story of Pandora is a modified account of the Old Testament narrative of the fall, one in which the truth of the biblical account is interwoven with fiction by pagan peoples. All the more so would this explanation be valid, given the distinct probability that the giants mentioned in Genesis entered into pagan religion and myth (including pagan Greek myth) as "gods."

Another question was how man's primordial fall affected man's relations with animals, and also how it affected the relation of animals among themselves. Holy Scripture shows that the consequences of moral evil spread from the fallen angels to people, and to the animal world and the whole of creation. Research also showed that animals did not prey upon one another in the beginning, but that the predatory condition is related to man's fall. Thus in the two highly acclaimed paintings Peaceable Kingdom, three anachronisms are present: there are more than two people with the animals, the fierce animals show no interest in predation, and the timid animals show no fear of the fierce ones or the people.

Actually, Peaceable Kingdom could have existed only when there were no more than two people on the earth — that is, before the fall, before the disruption of harmony between humans and animals, and between the animals themselves, took place. In Paradise, when Adam was the king of all creation, all living creatures saw the light of God's image in Adam's face, felt his holiness and sensed the fragrance of sanctity. All of them acknowledged Adam as a king, and all willingly and naturally submitted to him.

After the fall, however, after Adam disobeyed God's command, this acknowledgement was abolished, and the unreasoning animals refused to submit to man, the criminal. Speaking of this new state of existence, a hermit of Mount Athos states:

Nicholas Cabasilas analyzes this new condition vividly. Man, he says, is created in the image of God. In Adam, the image of God was the clear mirror through which the light of God reflects on nature. As long as the mirror remains unbroken, all nature was lit up. However, as soon as it was broken and smashed, deep darkness fell on all creation. All nature, then, rebelled against man and now does not acknowledge him, neither does it want to give him its fruits. Thus, man is sustained with anguish and labor. The animals are also afraid of him and are quite aggressive. Yet, when man receives the grace of Christ, all the powers of the soul integrate. He is in the image and likeness of God. He becomes a mirror, a light which shines forth the divine grace even to irrational creatures. Now the animals acknowledge him, obey him and respect him. There are many cases recorded where the ascetic-hermit lives in the company of bears and wild animals. He feeds them, and they in turn serve him, [and] acquiring divine grace through the Jesus Prayer, he becomes again the king of nature, and even more, he ascends to a more elevated state than Adam's. According to the Fathers, Adam was in the image of God, but he had to reach to the likeness of God through obedience. He was in the stage of illumination of the nous and he had to attain to theosis. Whereas the ascetic attains to "the likeness of God" (divinization) as far as possible, through divine grace, [he does so without entering] into the divine essence. He partakes of the uncreated energies of God. I shall give you an example of this acknowledgement on the part of nature.... When my ever memorable gerondas [elder] was saying the Jesus Prayer, wild birds would come to the windows of his cell pecking on the panes. One would think this was the activity of the devil to hinder him from prayer. But, in fact, the wild birds were attracted by the prayer of the gerondas! [Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos, A Night in the Desert of the Holy Mountain, p. 124].

Any such idyllic realm as Peaceable Kingdom has been reestablished since Adam and Eve's time only aboard Noah's ark, and then in post-Noahic flood times, in the Christian Church among various ascetic recluses and desert anchorites who regained the likeness of Adam in Paradise. The righteous Noah is like a second Adam. In Noah's presence, the wild beasts became meek and obedient as they were before the fall, and for this reason they do not attack one another inside the ark. Just as animals were at peace with one another before the fall, so they are also at peace around Noah, the image of Adam and the second progenitor of the human race. In his presence, animals which are natural enemies once again coexist in harmony.

In Christian times, saintly men and women, having purified themselves through unceasing prayer to God, Whom they loved so deeply, restored the image of God in themselves. By becoming dispassionate through prayer and ascetic struggle, Orthodox saints throughout the ages regained in themselves while yet in a corruptible body, some measure of pre-fall Adam. Like Adam, they were impervious to the elements, and also like him, they were masters and stewards of creation. Animals sensed the purity and holiness in these hermits, and all of them willingly submitted to these saints in obedience. Such is the concept of prepodobny in Orthodoxy: a saint who has become like unto the first-created Adam. This phenomenon is seen in the lives of the saints right up to very recent times.

The last question concerned the consumption of flesh. Investigation in this area showed that man's eating meat is a condition related to the fall. A recent Synaxis Press article, "Commentary on Scientific Creationism," mentions that both science and the Fathers confirm that early man's sustenance was a diet of carbohydrates, plant proteins and high fibers (that is, fruits, herbs and grains), rather than one of fleshy proteins. Another source shows that the most natural food is that which was assigned to man by the Creator immediately after the creation: food from the vegetable kingdom. God said to the parents of the human race: "Behold, I have given you every seed-bearing plant, the sowing seed which is on the whole earth; and ever tree which has within it the fruit of seminal seed shall be to you for food" (Gen 1:29). It was only after the flood that the use of meat was allowed, Noah being the first to receive this permission (Gen 9:3). Eating meat was allowed at this time because, as the Fathers suggest, man had by this time become lower, more fallen. God sees that men will continue to be evil, and that is why He allows meat to be eaten, in accordance with the lower conditions of post-flood humanity.


10. The Church of God.


1. What is the position of Christ in the Orthodox Church?

"Christ is the Head of the Church" (Eph 4:15, 5:23; Col 1:18). In giving authority to His Apostles before His Ascension, the Saviour told them that He Himself would not cease to be the invisible Shepherd and Pilot of the Church. "I am with you always, even to the end of the world" (Mt 28:20). Christ also stated that He, as the Good Shepherd, had to bring in also those sheep who were not of His fold so that there would be one flock and one Shepherd (Jn 10:16). The Apostle Paul likewise instructed that God the Father "gave Him to be the Head over all things to the Church, which is His Body, the fullness of Him that filleth all in all" (Eph 1:22-23).

2. Write out the scriptural quote and the quotation of St. John of Kronstadt given at the beginning of this chapter of the textbook.

Christ so loved the Church and gave Himself up for it (Eph 5:25).

The Church is one and the same with the Lord — His Body, of His flesh and of His bones. The Church is the living vine, nourished by Him and growing in Him. Never think of the Church apart from the Lord Jesus Christ, from the Father and the Holy Spirit [St. John of Kronstadt].

3. How do you interpret the words of Khomiakov given in this chapter of the textbook?

Khomiakov wrote: "We know that when anyone of us falls, he falls alone; but no one is saved alone. He is saved in the Church, as a member of it and in union with all its other members."

Khomiakov is speaking of the matter of damnation and salvation. Damnation is an individual matter: those damned to eternal death cannot bring damnation upon their fellow men, for each will be judged according to his own works. As Christ stated: "For the Son of Man shall come in the glory of His Father with His angels; and then He shall reward every man according to his works" (Mt 16: 27).

Salvation, however, is a communal matter, one that takes place in the Church. As the textbook states, since the Kingdom of God is given to men by Christ in the Church, and since it is celebrated and participated in the Mysteries in the Church, Khomiakov can rightly state that we are saved in the Church rather than alone.

Adding to these ideas, Archimandrite Panteleimon of Jordanville states that in order that people might attain salvation for themselves, Christ founded the Church, His grace-filled kingdom on earth, and He imparts grace (power that sanctifies) to all members of the Church. Christ also established the Mysteries (Sacraments) for the Church as the means by which Christians receive this grace filled power. Fr. Panteleimon additionally states that the Word of God teaches that God Himself founded the Church, gathered His children together, and returned to the enclosure of salvation those who were torn from it by enemy forces [Cf. A Ray of Light: Instructions in Piety and the State of the World at the End of Time, p. 23 ff].

In the matter of falling alone, Khomiakov is not implying that a person's sin does not effect others. No sin is personal as it has social and universal dimensions. An individual's sins erodes the likeness of God in him so that he becomes less a reflection of his Creator and less of a spiritual influence on others. For this reason, a person's sin does affect others.

There is a saying among the Fathers that "no man sins alone." In his Orthodox Moral Theology (in Russian), Professor Ivan Andreyev relates a New York City newspaper's account of a 29-year old child-killer. When the police arrived on the scene, the tortured child was already dead, yet the mother was continuing to beat him and showed no signs of remorse. The police, accustomed to all sorts of crimes, "were not able to bear the sight of the little body," which appeared to be nothing more than "one massive wound," as the article reported. Concerning this horrific tragedy, Dr. Andreyev writes:

Since we are all sinners, we create evil and our evil becomes a part of the world's treasury of evil. This evil coalesces into a huge energy of evil which seeks vessels of graceless bodies to put itself into, and when it finds them, it will be incarnated in them and they will do great acts of evil.... Let each one of us consider himself... what were you doing on the evening when this unbelievable but very real act was carried out? Indeed, perhaps it was your sin, your depravity, your malice that provided the last drop of evil necessary for this child-killer's vessel of evil to overflow? This is how we must understand these matters if we are to call ourselves real Christians ["Weep!" translated from Russian in Orthodox Life, vol. 43, no. 2, 1993, pp. 38, 41-42].

4. List those points of difference which the textbook makes between the Orthodox and Protestant ideas of the Church.

Protestantism neglects the following aspects of the Church, which Orthodoxy regards as essential: the hierarchical structure of the Church, Apostolic Succession, the episcopate, the priesthood, prayers to the saints, and the Church's intercession for the departed.

5. In what sense is the Orthodox idea of the Church "certainly spiritual and mystical"?

The Orthodox idea of the Church is spiritual and mystical in the sense that Orthodox theology never deals with the earthly aspect of the Church in isolation from God. The Church is always thought of as the Church of Christ and the Holy Spirit, and in terms of the special relationship existing between the Church and God. The Orthodox doctrine of the Church is Trinitarian (it sees the Church as an icon of the Holy Trinity); it is Christological (for the Church is the Body of Christ); and it is Pneumatological (inasmuch as the Church is a continued Pentecost and is a temple and dwelling-place of the Holy Spirit.

6. The textbook lists three aspects of the concept of Church life: (1) The Image of the Holy Trinity; (2) The Body of Christ; and (3) A Continued Pentecost. Give your understanding of each.

(1) The Image of the Holy Trinity: The textbook mentions that this concept of the Church has broad applications. The first is that just as all men are created in the image of the Triune God, so the Church as a whole is an icon of the Trinity in that it reproduces on earth the mystery of unity in diversity. The Church contains a great many people who are united into one, yet each one maintains his own personal identity in the same way that the Persons of the Godhead, though one, are fully personal. Also, the mutual indwelling of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit is analogous to the co inherence of the members of the Church. There is no conflict in the Church between freedom and authority. There is unity, but never totalitarianism. The word catholic, when applied to the Church, means (among other things) this unity of many individuals into one.

Secondly, each Person of the Holy Trinity is autonomous. This characteristic is reflected in the Church, which consists of a number of local Churches such as Jerusalem, Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, Russia, Georgia and others. Archpriest Vladimir Glindsky explains that they are independent in their use of native language, and partly in their outward structure, but they are subject to a common canonical code, and, most importantly, all present dogmatic unity. Otherwise, among themselves, they are mutually dependent, like the members of the one Body of Christ, like the branches of one tree nourished by common roots. Here once again is the mystery of unity in diversity. Also, just as the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are equal, so also are the bishops of the Church. No single bishop can exercise (or claim to exercise) absolute authority over the others.

Lastly, the concept of the Church as an icon of the Holy Trinity demonstrates the importance Orthodoxy places on the councils, which are expressions of the Trinitarian nature of the Church. In a council, many bishops assemble in order to reach a common mind under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. In this manner also is shown the mystery of unity in diversity, which is an image of the Holy Trinity.

(2) The Body of Christ: The Apostle Paul develops this way of thinking about the Church in his epistle to the Romans: "We, who are many, are one body in Christ" (Rom. 12:5). St. Ignatius of Antioch, understanding that there is the closest possible bond between Christ and His Church, wrote that "where Christ is, there is the Catholic Church." (The Catholic Church, it bears repeating, means the Universal Church to which the Patriarchate of Rome was fully united when this Apostolic Father wrote these lines. The Catholic Church does not refer to the modern Roman Catholic Church which severed itself from the Universal Church of Christ in 1054).

St. Ignatius’ idea is in keeping with Christ's promise that He would forever be present, for He said: "Lo! I am with you always, even to the end of the world" (Mt 28:20). Christ also stated that: "Where two or three are gathered together in My name, there I am in the midst of them" (Mt 18:20). Christ therefore did not leave the Church when He ascended into Heaven. The textbook explains that the Church is "the extension of the Incarnation, the place where the Incarnation perpetuates itself." As the Greek theologian Chrestos Androustos adds, the Church is:

... the center and organ of Christ's redeeming work.... It is nothing else than the continuation and extension of His prophetic, priestly and kingly power.... The Church and its Founder are inextricably bound together.... The Church is Christ with us [Dogmatic Theology, pp. 262-65].

Above all else, it is the Holy Mysteries which bring about the unity between Christ and His Church. New Christians are buried and raised with Christ at Baptism, and as members of His Body, the Church, they receive His All-Pure Body and Blood in the Holy Eucharist. The Eucharist unites Christians at once to Christ and to one another, as the Apostle Paul explained to the Corinthians. "We, who are many, are one bread, one body; for we all partake of the one bread" (1 Cor 10:17). It was noted in chapter one that St. Ignatius of Antioch described the Church as a Eucharistic Society. It is not without reason that the term Body of Christ is used to describe both the Church and the Holy Mystery.

The Church is thought of first and foremost in its sacramental aspect. Outward organization, although completely necessary, is of secondary importance to the sacramental life of the Church.

(3) A Continued Pentecost: The work of the Son and the work of the Holy Spirit among men are complementary to one another. Because the Church is the Body of Christ, it is also the temple and dwelling-place of the Holy Spirit.

Christ unites Christians, it has been mentioned, but this unity in the Church has never involved the ironing out of human variety. Life in the Church involves the exact opposite, for the Holy Spirit is a Spirit of freedom, and He insures Christians' diversity. It is significant that when He came at Pentecost, He appeared as tongues of fire that were divided and that descended separately on all present. Although the Holy Spirit is a gift to the Church, He is also a personal gift that each appropriates in his own way. "There are diversities in gifts," St. Paul states, "but the same Spirit" (1 Cor 12:4).

Some outside the Church feel that to be a Christian is to have a life of drab monotony. However, it is a life of evil that is dull, not holiness. The saints all had very vivid and distinct personalities through the Holy Spirit's preservation of their human differences.

7. In what way does the textbook apply the dogma of Chalcedon to the Church?

The Council of Chalcedon taught that the Son of God must be confessed in two natures in one Person, or Hypostasis. The textbook states the dogma of Chalcedon must be applied to the Church as well as Christ, for just as Christ, the God-Man, has a divine and human nature, so too does the Church, where there is a synergy (cooperation) between the human and the divine.

The textbook applies the dogma to show that it is not to be forgotten that there is a human element in the Church as well as a divine. However, it goes on to explain, there is an essential difference so far as the human aspect is concerned. Where Christ in His human nature is perfect and without sin, this is not fully the case with the Church's human element, for only a part of her humanity has attained perfection — the saints in Heaven. The Church is the Body of Christ and is therefore perfect and sinless, yet its individual members often misuse their freedom and are still imperfect and sinful. The textbook describes this condition as a state of tension in which the Church exists here on earth.

8. According to the textbook, the mystery of the Church consists in what?

The mystery of the Church consists in the fact that sinners together become something different from what they were as individuals. Sinners in the Church together become the Body of Christ.

9. From what principle does Khomiakov draw the logical conclusion that the Church is one?

Alexei Stepanovich Khomiakov, an influential and authoritative writer, was acknowledged by many as one of the greatest theologians ever produced in Russia. Khomiakov draws the logical conclusion that the Church is one from the fact that God is one. "[The Church's] unity follows of necessity from the unity of God," he writes.

10. Can the Church be divided, or can there be schisms within the Church?

In the Nicene Creed, Christians confess their belief in "One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church." Oneness is the first of these four indispensable characteristics of Christ's Holy Church. The Church is not a set of different denominations having a common claim to follow Christ or to be founded by Him, united only in some invisible way by that claim. The Church, which is the Body of the Risen Incarnate God-Man Christ, can never be divided, for it is one as God is one. There can be only one Body of Christ since there is only one Christ. The Church remains and will always remain one. Therefore, there never were (nor can there ever be) schisms within the Church; there can only be schisms from the Church.

Protopresbyter Michael Pomazansky writes that Christ, depicting the Church in parables, speaks of one flock, of one Shepherd, of one grapevine, of one foundation-stone of the Church. Christ likewise gave a single teaching, a single Baptism, and a single Communion. Again, the unity of the faithful in Christ comprised the subject of Christ's High-Priestly prayer before His Crucifixion, when He prayed "that they all may be one" (Jn 17:21). Elsewhere Scripture speaks of "one Lord, one faith, one Baptism" (Eph 4:5), and one Christian Church (Mt 16:18).

Fr. Michael goes on to explain that the Church is not only inwardly, but outwardly. Outwardly its unity is manifested in the harmonious confession of faith, in the oneness of divine services and Mysteries, in the oneness of the grace-giving hierarchy, which comes in succession from the Apostles, in the oneness of canonical order. Moreover, it bears repeating that:

The Church does not lose its unity because side by side with the Church there exist Christian societies which do not belong to it. These societies are not in the Church, they are outside of it [Orthodox Dogmatic Theology, p. 235].

Orthodoxy does not view the Church's unity as ideal and invisible, nor does it separate the "invisible" and "visible" Church, for they are one. Likewise, Orthodoxy would never say that the Church is invisibly one but visibly divided. In this regard, Hierodeacon Gregory of Etna, a convert from Dutch Reformed Protestantism to Orthodoxy, writes that when Protestants attempt to identify the Body of Christ, they invoke the nebulous notion of an "invisible Church" — a theological fiction that relativizes the ecclesial nature of Christianity by postulating an abstract reality that can be experienced by anyone, regardless of denomination. For this reason, the holy Hieromartyr Archbishop Ilarion (Troitsky) characterizes Protestantism as "Churchless Christianity." The same martyr of the Communist yoke also declares that "it is Protestantism that openly proclaimed the greatest lie of all: that one can be a Christian while denying the Church." Elsewhere the martyr articulates the Orthodox view on this matter with no equivocation:

[It] must be considered as the most vital necessity of the present time to confess openly that indisputable truth that Christ created precisely the Church and that it is absurd to separate Christianity from the Church and to speak of some sort of Christianity apart from the Holy Orthodox Church of Christ [Christianity or the Church?, p. 29].

Here on earth, there is but one, single, visible community which alone is the one true Church established by Christ. The "Undivided Church" is not something that ceased to exist in 1054 (or at any other point in history); it is something that exists now.

The Roman Catholic Church proclaims that it is the one Church, and it recently reaffirmed its primacy with the document Dominus Jesus, dated September 5, 2000. This document, published by the Vatican's Congregation of the Doctrine of Faith (formerly the Office of the Inquisition) claims that "the fullness of means to salvation can only be found in the Roman Catholic Church." At the same time, however, according to one Catholic news bulletin, some Orthodox Churches "have maintained Apostolic Succession" and they also "represent the true Church." Thus, speaking out of one side of its mouth, Rome states that it is the one Church, and then, speaking out of the other side of its mouth, it states that some Orthodox Churches also represent the one Church. Where is the truth?

An Orthodox abbot gives this explanation of the true Church and its oneness:

The Orthodox Church, continuing the principles which the Apostles and early Fathers taught and which the Ecumenical Councils of the Undivided Church defined in precise terms, holds that the Church of Christ is ONE and cannot be divided. All divisions and separation from it therefore are from that One Church, not within it. One who breaks away from the faith or from the continuing organic structure of this Church ceases to be a member of it, no matter what position he may once have held within it; he leaves with nothing. A US citizen who leaves this country and becomes a citizen in some other country can no longer claim to be still a US citizen or to vote in American elections — this is true even if he once held some high office like a judge, senator or governor. Orthodoxy teaches that orders and Sacraments belong to — that is, they are the property of — the Church, not to the individual person, and can be bestowed, held and exercised solely within its organic structure.

By the Church, Orthodoxy has always meant that single, worldwide body of mutually believing, mutually recognizing, sacramentally united Christians founded by our Lord Jesus Christ and descending without break from the Apostles: who are openly and visibly "in communion with" one another and with their united hierarchy. All the early Church Fathers and Councils made it abundantly clear that this unity of believers is absolutely essential, and that anyone who leaves that unity, for whatever reason, is an apostate, a schismatic, and outsider; no longer participating in the sacramental life of the Church or entitled to the privileges of its membership, unless he returns to the unity and renounces his errors. This was the unity prayed for by Christ in the Gospels; it was and still is far more essential in determining whether one is or is not a Church member than any "lines of Episcopal succession" or high-sounding titles.

Therefore, any person who has ever broken from this unity, beginning with the early Christological heretics, and culminating with Rome in 1054, left the actual, continuing unity of the One Church founded by Christ, and became apostate. Bishops who leave the Church cease being bishops, whatever they may continue to call themselves. They may (many do) invent new, unscriptural ecclesiologies which seek to justify their separation while continuing to claim that they somehow "kept their orders" and "perform valid Sacraments," which, of course, like a lamp unplugged from the source of electricity, they cannot do. Thus the Orthodox Church maintains that when Cardinal Humbert walked out of Saint Sophia [in Constantinople] in 1054, he left as an ordinary layman, since he (and his superior in Rome, and all who remained in communion with him) ceased being in open, formal communion with the rest of the Christian Church which continued holding Apostolic doctrine and polity. All who joined that group of men who left voluntarily the unity of the continuing Church have remained apostates and schismatics ever since, no matter how vast, wealthy and vociferous they may be in claiming otherwise.

Whoever either voluntarily sets himself apart from the continuing unity of the undivided Church founded by Christ, or who alters the teachings defined by that Church, ceases to be a member of it. Orthodoxy alone has remained unchanged throughout the centuries, both in her doctrine and in her organization; all other groups, however huge or widespread, and however they may choose to style themselves, are not Orthodox, not in membership in that One Church founded by Christ.

/.../ Undoubtedly God will have mercy and compassion on all His creation, including those devout and sincere souls who grew up in religious beliefs apart from Orthodoxy; He will surely take into account their fidelity to the principles they were taught and consider to be "Church teaching," even though they are not what the One continuing Church of Christ has always held and taught. This is not the issue. The point is that Christ founded only ONE Church; not many; and of all the competing religious bodies calling themselves Christian and Catholic and other such terms, only ONE is in actual fact the continuing Church which He founded. And this is THE ORTHODOX CHURCH [Abbot Augustine Whitfield, "Valid Orders," Orthodox America, vol. 9, no. 8, 1989, p. 16; emphasis added].

(It should be pointed out that when Cardinal Humbert walked out of St. Sophia's in Constantinople after the excommunication of the entire East, he actually did not leave as a layman in the Church, deprived only of his orders; he left as something even less. At that time, the cardinal had completely separated himself from the continuing Church and was no longer so much a layman in it, much less a bishop. It can also be added that, given the situation in Rome a few years earlier, when there were three papal pretenders, it was hardly possible for Patriarch Michael of Constantinople to take Cardinal Humbert's behavior too seriously).

Concerning the Christian Churches outside Christ's One Church, Protopresbyter Michael Pomazansky gives this insight:

The Orthodox teaching of the Church, which in itself is quite clear and rests upon Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition, is to be contrasted with another concept which is widespread in the contemporary Protestant world and has penetrated even into Orthodox circles. According to this different concept, all the various existing Christian organizations, the so-called "confessions" and "sects," even though they are separated from each other, still comprise a single "invisible Church," inasmuch as each of them confesses Christ as the Son of God and accepts His Gospel. The dissemination of such a view is aided by the fact that side by side with the Orthodox Church there exists outside of her a number of Christians that exceeds by several times the number of members of the Orthodox Church. Often we can observe in this Christian world outside the Church a religious fervor and faith, a worthy moral life, a conviction — all the way to fanaticism — of one's correctness, an organization and a broad charitable activity. What is the relation of all of them to the Church of Christ?

Of course, there is no reason to view these confessions and sects as on the same level with non-Christian religions. One cannot deny that the reading of the word of God has a beneficial influence upon everyone who seeks in it instruction and strengthening of faith, and that devout reflection on God the Creator, the Provider and Saviour, has an elevating power among Protestants also. We cannot say that their prayers are totally fruitless if they come from a pure heart, for in every nation he that feareth Him... is acceptable with Him (Acts 10:35). The Omnipresent Good Provider God is over them, and they are not deprived of God's mercies. They help to restrain moral looseness, vices and crimes; and they oppose the spread of atheism.

But all this does not give us grounds to consider them as belonging to the Church. Already the fact that one part of this broad Christian world outside the Church, namely the whole of Protestantism, denies the bond with the heavenly Church, that is, the veneration in prayer of the Mother of God and the saints, and likewise prayer for the dead, indicates that they themselves have destroyed the bond with the one Body of Christ which unites in itself the heavenly and the earthly. Further, it is a fact that these non-Orthodox confessions have "broken" in one form or another, directly or indirectly, with the Orthodox Church, with the Church in its historical form; they themselves have cut the bond, they have "departed" from her. Neither we nor they have the right to close our eyes to this fact. The teachings of the non-Orthodox confessions contain heresies which were decisively rejected and condemned by the Church at her Ecumenical Councils. In these numerous branches of Christianity there is no unity, either outward or inward — either with the Orthodox Church of Christ or between themselves. The supra-confessional unification (the "ecumenical movement") which is now to be observed does not enter into the depths of the life of these confessions, but has an outward character. The term "invisible" can refer only to the Heavenly Church. The Church on earth, even though it has its invisible side, like a ship, a part of which is hidden in the water and is invisible to the eyes, still remains visible, because it consists of people and has visible forms of organization and sacred activity.

Therefore it is quite natural to affirm that these religious organizations are societies which are "near," or "next to," or "close to," or perhaps even "adjoining" the Church, but sometimes "against" it; but they are all "outside" the one Church of Christ. Some of them have cut themselves off, others have gone far away. Some, in going away, all the same have historical ties of blood with her; others have lost all kinship, and in them the very spirit and foundations of Christianity have been distorted. None of them find themselves under the activity of the grace which is present in the Church, and especially the grace which is given in the Mysteries of the Church. They are not nourished by that mystical table which leads up along the steps of moral perfection.

The tendency in contemporary cultural society to place all confessions on one level is not limited to Christianity; on this same all-equaling level are placed also the non-Christian religions, on the grounds that they all "lead to God," and besides, taken all together, they far surpass the Christian world in the number of members who belong to them.

All of such "uniting" and "equalizing" views indicate a forgetfulness of the principle that there can be many teachings and opinions, but there is only one truth. And authentic Christian unity — unity in the Church — can be based only upon oneness of mind, and not upon differences of mind. The Church is the pillar and ground of the Truth (1 Tim 3:15) [Orthodox Dogmatic Theology, pp. 243-46].

11. Describe the theology of communion as set forth in the textbook.

The textbook calls Orthodoxy's theology of the Church a theology of communion. This term refers to the fact that it is the act of communion that holds the Church together.

St. Ignatius of Antioch saw each local Church as one of a congregation of faithful gathered around its bishop and celebrating the Eucharist — such is his idea of the Church as a Eucharistic Society, as discussed in chapter one. The Church universal is then formed by the communion of the heads of these local Churches (the bishops) with one another. Unity does not come from without — that is, from the imposition of authority from a supreme pontiff, but it comes from within, by the celebration of the Eucharist. The Church is not and never has been monarchical (as Rome maintains); it is rather collegial. It is made up of the communion of many hierarchs with one another, and of the communion of each bishop with the members of his flock. The criterion for membership in the Church, therefore, is the act of communion. Church membership is ended, conversely, when an individual member severs communion with his bishop. Likewise, a bishop ceases to be a member of the Church if he severs communion with his fellow bishops.

12. Give your understanding of the Orthodox attitude toward the branch theory.

The branch theory was once popular among High Church Anglicans and taught that the Christian Church was divided into branches. Usually three branches were given: Anglicanism, Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy.

The branch theory was subsequently taken up by the ecumenists, who initially applied it to Orthodoxy, Roman Catholicism and all denominations of Protestantism. This theory maintains that all Christian Churches are branches of the same ecclesiastical organism, which is Christ, and it accepts all Christian confessions as equal — that is, equally sharing bits and pieces of the truth.

Carrying the branch theory further, ecumenism now contends that there is a variety of doctrinal principles not only of individual Christian creeds, but of all religions. As the foundation of ecumenism's theory is the erroneous idea that there are many religious doctrines that mutually enrich one another. Thus, ecumenism promotes "love" above truth, ignorance of dogma for the sake of peace, and disregard of differences which tend to divide.

The branch theory is heretical as it contradicts Holy Scripture, which speaks of "one Lord, one faith, one Baptism" (Eph 4:5), "one Holy Tradition" (2 Thes 2:15), and "one Christian Church" (Mt 16: 18). Also, as noted in an earlier chapter, such a false assertion invariably leads to a relativization of God's Truth. As Archimandrite Sergius, former Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Theology, University of Sofia, Bulgaria, writes: "Orthodoxy is not just one of the many forms of Christianity, alongside other legitimate, non-Orthodox forms of Christianity; our Orthodox faith is Christianity itself, in its most pure and one and only authentic form."

As the branch theory is contrary to the fact that the Church is one, it cannot be reconciled with Sacred Scriptures and Orthodox theology. The only branches of the Church (if one wants to think in terms of branches) are the local autocephalous Churches of the Orthodox communion.

13. Write out the quotation from St. Cyprian of Carthage which the textbook uses to demonstrate the principle that there is salvation only within the Church.

St. Cyprian instructed: "A man cannot have God as his Father if he does not have the Church as his mother." In his book The Non-Orthodox: the Orthodox Teaching on Christians Outside the Church, Patrick Barnes, a convert to Orthodoxy, comments that this statement is one of the "hard sayings" (Jn 6:60) for people offended by any ecclesiological exclusivity. Mr. Barnes, whose own search for the truth took him through various non-denominational Protestant Churches while at the United States Naval Academy, then to the Presbyterian Church, the Episcopal Church, and finally to Orthodox Christianity, understands from experience that this idea runs contrary to everything Protestants have been taught about the nature of the Church. Protestants, he states, wrestle with the issue of Orthodoxy's claim to be the one true Ark of Salvation (1 Peter 3:20 ff.) established by Christ and preserving unadulterated the very criterion of Christianity. However, the former Protestant goes on to point out, Christ was "exclusive" when He said: "I am the Way, the Truth and the Life, no man cometh unto the Father except by Me" (Jn 14:6). Mr. Barnes notes that since the Church is Christ's Body (Eph 1:22-23), then no one can come to the Father except through Christ's Church. Scripture clearly teaches that Christ, as encountered through His Holy Church, is the only door to the narrow way which leads to life (Mt 7:13-14, Jn 10:7). Mr. Barnes also notes that Orthodoxy does not hold its exclusive claims out of arrogance, but out of love for its traditions. Orthodoxy has maintained the integrity of faith, this convert discovered, and with open arms it offers that faith to outsiders (as he once was) in the pure form as it was handed down from Christ and the Apostles.

14. How does the textbook modify St. Cyprian's statement?

The textbook modifies St. Cyprian's statement with non-patristic speculation. It begins by citing Blessed Augustine's correct assertion that there are sheep outside the Church and wolves within. Thus, not all in the Church will be saved, it is noted.

Mr. Barnes, the same convert to Orthodoxy, writes that unfortunately, this introduction with Blessed Augustine's comment could lead one to an improper understanding of Orthodox ecclesiology and the status of heterodox Christians. When taken in context, this Father's remark does not support the textbook's later comment concerning an invisible Church membership or its comment that the heterodox may be linked to the Church by "invisible bonds." The textbook's statements in this regard can easily be misread in support of the non-Orthodox notion of an "invisible true Church," especially in the light of its claim that "we know where the Church is but we cannot say where it is not."

Mr. Barnes again comments. He first notes that there is no doubt that Blessed Augustine believes in the necessity of visible membership in the Church for salvation, a teaching that is found throughout the writings of the Holy Fathers. The same writer then makes the correct observation that the textbook incorrectly uses the word Church in two senses. Thus, he continues, when taken with the textbook's other remarks, one can read its (the textbook's) assertion as follows: "We know where the [visible, historical and one true] Church is, but we cannot be sure where it [the Church in an undefinable or mysterious sense known only to God and containing people who are united by 'invisible ties'] is not." Mr. Barnes observes that this kind of thinking is not far removed from the heretical branch theory.

Theorizing with regard to those outside the Church, the textbook also states that many people, notwithstanding their outward separation, could possibly be members of the Church, inasmuch as there are many ways of being related to-, and separated from-, the Church. Just how and to what extent they are members is impossible to determine, the text's writer opines, for it is known to God alone. However, he concludes, a person must belong to the Church in some sense in order to be saved.

In connection with the textbook's careless lapse in an elementary point of theology in this matter, Hieromonk Patapios of Etna writes that the Church on earth is a visible organism through which its members are united to God and one another by their participation in the Holy Mysteries (Sacraments). Thus, to be "invisibly" linked to the Orthodox Church without the benefit of its Mysteries is of no avail whatsoever, Fr. Patapios states. Either one belongs to the Church or one does not.

Mr. Barnes explains that the status of heterodox Christians is seen in two ways. With regard to their ecclesial status — that is, in their relation to the Orthodox Church, they cannot be seen as its members as they have not been grafted into the true Body of Christ through Holy Baptism. On the other hand, with regard to their eternal status — that is, in the implications of their ecclesial separation, the Orthodox leave them to the mercy of God and do not pass judgment on them or make any pronouncements about their eternal destiny. To affirm their separation is not to imply their damnation.

The same writer further states that in keeping with its apophatic mindset, the Orthodox Church remains circumspect on this matter. Thus, to state that there is "no salvation outside the Church" is not the same as saying that "no one outside the Church can be saved." Sacred Scriptures show that ultimately, God looks upon the heart of man and has mercy upon those whom He chooses to have mercy (Rom 9:18), and that He rewards each according to his intentions and deeds (Rom 2:6 ff.). Therefore, concerning those who were never afforded the opportunity to encounter Orthodoxy, God can save them.

In the concluding remarks of his book, Mr. Barnes makes the following remarks to a Reformed Protestant who expressed an interest in Orthodoxy:

There are certain things that God has chosen not to reveal to us. One of these is how He will ultimately judge others on that Day. He has revealed certain aspects of that Day of Judgment in order that we may repent and prepare ourselves; but He has not told us how He will — in His infinite knowledge of our incredibly complex nature and His providential ordering of our lives — ultimately weigh each of us in the balance. "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts" (Isaiah 55:8-9). This being true, we should not concern ourselves with whether God will save others or how. For us it is enough to know where and how we can be saved. We affirm this to be only within the Orthodox Church; but we can also make a compelling case from Holy Tradition that we do not also have to affirm that He will not save a portion of those who do not enter the Church in this life [The Non-Orthodox: the Orthodox Teaching on Christians Outside of the Church, p. 173].

Mr. Barnes' conclusions are in complete accord with some remarks that St. Theophan the Recluse once made to an inquirer who asked about the possibility of salvation of those outside the Church. The saint replied:

Why do you worry about them? They have a Saviour, Who desires the salvation of every human being. He will take care of them. You and I should not be burdened with such a concern. Study yourself and your sins.... I will tell you one thing, however: should you, being Orthodox, and possessing the Truth in its fullness, betray Orthodoxy and enter a different faith, you will lose your soul forever.

It is recorded in his hagiography that St. Nektary, one of the elders of the famous Optina Hermitage in Russia, once told his disciples that:

In the last times the world will be girded about with iron and paper. But such were the days of Noah: the flood was drawing near. Noah knew about it and told the people, but they did not believe. He hired workers to build the ark, and they, building the ark, did not believe, for which reason they only received wages for their work but were not saved. Those days are the foreshadowing of our own days. The ark is the Church. Only those who are inside will be saved.

One of Elder Nektary's spiritual children then inquired: "But what about the millions of Chinese, Indians, Turks and other non-Christians?" The elder replied:

God desires not only that the nations be saved, but each individual soul. A simple Indian, believing in his own way in the Creator and fulfilling His will as best he can, will be saved; but he who, knowing about Christianity, follows the Indian mystical path, will not [Ivan Kontzevitch, Elder Nektary of Optina, p. 181].

Metropolitan Philaret, former First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia, expressed the same views. He wrote:

It is self-evident... that sincere Christians who are Roman Catholics, or Lutherans, or members of other non-Orthodox confessions, cannot be termed renegades or heretics — that is, those who knowingly pervert the truth.... They have been born and raised and are living according to the creed which they have inherited, just as do the majority of you who are Orthodox; in their lives there has not been a moment of personal and conscious renunciation of Orthodoxy. The Lord, "Who will have all men to be saved" (1 Tim. 2:4) and "Who enlightens every man born into the world" (Jn 1:9), undoubtedly is leading them also towards salvation in His own way [From the pamphlet "Will the Heterodox Be Saved?" (Leaflet #213 published by the St. John of Kronstadt Press)].

15. Give your understanding of the principle of the infallibility of the Church.

The unity between God and His Church is spoken of throughout Scriptures, in which the Church is referred to as the Body of Christ (Eph 1:22-23, Rom 12, 1 Cor 10,12, Col 1); the Bride of Christ (Eph 5, Rev 21); God's Living Temple (Eph 2, 1 Peter 2); and the pillar and ground of the Truth (1 Tim 3:15). The Church is a living organism against which even the gates of hell shall not prevail (Mt 16:18), which has as its Head Christ Himself abiding with it always, even to the end of the age (Mt 28:20).

It is from this unity with God that the Church as a whole cannot err. The Church cannot submit to false teaching, and it cannot allow any admixture of falsehood. An error of the whole Church would be tantamount to its spiritual death, yet, according to Christ's promise, the Church cannot die. As Protopriest Victor Potapov explains:

If the Orthodox Church as a whole cannot err, her individual members, individual gatherings and groups, and even large parts of her can fall into error. And since the opinion of the whole Church is manifested at Ecumenical Councils, the Ecumenical Councils are the infallible custodians and interpreters of divine revelation — not because the members of the Councils are individually infallible, but because the decisions of the Councils are the voice of the whole Church, which is directed by the grace of the Holy Spirit (the decisions of the Councils always begin with the words: "It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us") [Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy].

Additional pertinent information regarding the infallibility of the Church is provided by Fr. John Whiteford:

Not only must we seek that which is universal and ancient, we must further hold to those teachings which represent the consensus of the Fathers, rather than the isolated views of a given Father or teacher. This is what is meant by consent, or the faith believed by all. Infallibility resides in no individual in the Church save Christ alone, and so there are examples of Fathers who, while generally teaching the faith accurately, at times taught things which were in error. The difference between these Fathers and the heretics is that the Fathers taught these things in innocence, while heretics teach heresy in opposition to the Church and despite attempts at correction. Even St. Paul erred, but was corrected by St. Paul (see Gal 2). Twice in Revelation, St. John tells how he worshiped an angel, then was corrected by that angel! [Sola Scriptura: an Orthodox Analysis of the Cornerstone of Reformation Theology, p. 42; emphasis added].

16. Give your understanding of the position of the bishop in the Church.

The hierarchy was established by Christ. As St. Paul instructs:

"He gave some, Apostles; and some, prophets; and some, Evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the Body of Christ; till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ" (Eph 4:11-13).

Protopresbyter Michael Pomazansky explains that:

All members of the Church of Christ comprise a single flock of God. All are equal before the judgment of God. However, just as parts of the body have different functions in the life of the organism, and as in a house building each part has its own use, so also in the Church there exist various ministries. The highest ministry in the Church as an organization is borne by the hierarchy, which is distinct from the ordinary members [Orthodox Dogmatic Theology, p. 246].

Archpriest Seraphim Slobodskoy goes on to note that following the example of the Old Testament Church, in which there were a high priest, priests, and Levites, the Apostles also instituted in the New Testament Christian Church the priesthood: bishops, priests, and deacons. Of these, the bishops comprise the highest rank in the Church, and bishops therefore receive the highest degree of grace.

Protopresbyter Michael Pomazansky additionally notes that:

The Lord Jesus Christ during His earthly ministry chose from among His followers twelve disciples — the Apostles (those "sent forth") — giving to them special spiritual gifts and a special authority. Appearing to them after His Resurrection, He said to them, As My Father hath sent Me, even so send I you. And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Spirit. Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them: and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained (Jn 20: 21-23). These words mean that it is essential to be sent from above in order to fulfill the Apostolic ministry, as well as the pastoral ministry that follows after it. The scope of these ministries is expressed in the final words of the Lord to His disciples before His Ascension: Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you. And, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen. (Mt 28:19-20). In these final words the Saviour indicates the triple ministry of the Apostles in their mission: 1) to teach, 2) to perform sacred functions (baptize), and 3) to govern (teaching them to observe all things"). And in the words "I am with you always, even to the end of the world," He blessed the pastoral work of their successors for all times to the end of the ages, until the existence of the earthly Church itself should come to an end. The words of the Lord cited before this, "Receive ye the Holy Spirit" (Jn 20:21), testify that this authority of pastorship is inseparably united with special gifts of the grace of the Holy Spirit. The three hierarchical ministries are united in a single concept of pastorship, in accordance with the expression of the Lord Himself: Feed My lambs, feed My sheep (the words to the Apostle Peter in Jn 21:15, 17), and of the Apostles: Feed the flock of God (1 Peter 5:2).

The Apostles were always citing the ides of the divine institution of the hierarchy. It was by a special rite that the Apostle Matthias was joined to the rank of the twelve in place of Judas who had fallen away (Acts 1). This rite was the choosing of worthy persons, followed by prayer and the drawing of lots. The Apostles themselves chose successors for themselves through ordination. These successors were the bishops [Op. cit. pp. 246-47; emphasis added].

Again, Fr. Michael stresses, "The Apostles — those precisely among them who were called to the highest ministry in the Church by the Lord Himself — placed bishops as their immediate successors and continuers." Moreover, he adds, the Apostles placed "presbyters as their own helpers and as helpers of the bishops, as 'hands' of the bishops, placing the further matter of the ordination of presbyters with the bishops." [Ibid., p. 248].

Commenting on Apostolic Succession and the uninterruptedness of the Orthodox Church's episcopate, Fr. Michael notes that:

The succession from the Apostles and the uninterruptedness of the episcopacy comprise one of the essential sides of the Church. And, on the contrary: the absence of the succession of the episcopacy in one or another Christian denomination deprives it of an attribute of the true Church, even if in it there is present an undistorted dogmatic teaching. Such an understanding was present to the Church from its beginning. From the Church History of Eusebius of Caesarea we know that all the local ancient Christian Churches preserved lists of their bishops in their uninterrupted succession [Ibid., p. 253].

As was noted in the introduction of this book, there is a twofold nature to Apostolic Succession. First, there must be an unbroken historical consecration of the hierarchy from the hands of the Apostles — that is, an uninterrupted chain of ordinations of bishops back to the Apostles. Secondly, there must be uncompromising fidelity to the correct doctrines and correct practices established by the Apostles. As the introduction also states, the Roman Catholic Church cannot demonstrate an unchanged faith or unchanged practices as it deviated from both Apostolic teachings and Apostolic practices. Apostolic Succession was severed in the West as of Rome's departure from the Apostolic Church in 1054, although it continued in the Eastern Orthodox Church, whose bishops to this day have a living continuity with the Holy Apostles.

Regarding the equality of the Church's bishops, Protopresbyter Michael Pomazansky writes that:

Among the bishops there are some who are leaders by their position, but not by their hierarchical, grace-given dignity. Thus it was also among the Apostles themselves.... The mutual relations of the Apostles were built upon the foundation of hierarchical equality.... The same mutual relations according to the principle of hierarchical grace-given equality remains forever in the Church among the successors of the Apostles — the bishops [Ibid., p. 252].

Archpriest Seraphim Slobodskoy stresses the same, that all bishops are equal. He adds that the most deserving of bishops are called archbishops, while the bishops whose sees are centered in major cities are called metropolitans (after the Greek word metropolis, a large city). Also, bishops of ancient major cites of the Roman Empire — Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem — are called patriarchs, a title that is also used for bishops of the capitals of some Orthodox countries.

There is no bishop in Orthodoxy with an equivalent position to the Roman pope. The patriarch of Constantinople, ever since the East-West schism of 1054, has traditionally enjoyed a position of special honor among all Orthodox communities, but he does not have a right to interfere in the actual affairs of the other Churches.

In Scripture, the Church is represented as the Bride of Christ, and this union with Him is presented in the image of the marital bond (Eph 5, Rev 21). Likewise, the bishop, as the highest pastor of the Church and the image of Christ, is represented in Church teaching as the guardian of her spiritual virginity — that is, inner purity in faith, life, and in all her activity in the world. Therefore a bishop is betrothed to the Church, as the Apostle Paul speaks of himself in relation to the Corinthian Church (2 Cor 11:2). This bond of a bishop with his diocese must be exclusive and single. When a Church or group of Christians is left without a bishop, it is called "widowed." These concepts were so strictly understood in the ancient Church that the occupation of two sees was called bigamy, and the unlawful occupation by a bishop of another's see was considered adultery.

Since ancient times, Orthodox bishops have been unmarried and celibate. With the complete renunciation of carnal and worldly ties, a bishop's union with the Church and his diocese is completely pure, spiritual, and independent of the flesh and world, as is proper for a bridegroom of the Church. This attitude of the Church was given formal definition in the canon of the Sixth Ecumenical Council in 680, and this definition is a strict rule for all time in the absence of another Ecumenical Council.

As a bishop explains regarding this canon, the rise of monasticism in the fourth century gave the Church many great bishops on the one hand, and on the other hand gave a lofty understanding of bodily abstinence. Inasmuch as the bishop's rank is the highest in the Church, all the more must a bishop's life be directed to total service to God and Church in body and soul. This consciousness contributed to the fact that, already in the fourth century, unmarried bishops were regarded as naturally basic to Church order.

The same bishop also notes that even earlier than the Sixth Ecumenical Council, a council was called in Carthage in 390. This council's second canon prescribed that a bishop must be unmarried and preserve his virginity, and as the basis for this decree, the Fathers of the council referred to Apostolic Tradition preserved by the Church from ancient times. Other testimonies as well show how deeply rooted was the practice of appointing only unmarried persons as bishops. It is also shown that the majority of bishops came from the monks and that these monastic bishops were the greatest luminaries of the Church.

Writing of the bishop's position in the Church, St. Dositheus, Patriarch of Jerusalem, states:

The dignity of the bishop is so necessary for the Church that without him neither the Church nor the name Christian could exist or be spoken of at all.... He is the living image of God upon earth... and a fountain of all the Mysteries [Sacraments] of the Catholic [Universal] Church, through which we obtain salvation.

St. Cyprian of Carthage, who, as mentioned, was one of the most authoritative of the early Fathers of the Church, and who was beheaded in 258, explains that "if any are not with the bishop, they are not in the Church." This comment refers to the fact that since Christ is made manifest in His Church through the ministry of the bishops, to sever communion with an Orthodox bishop means that one is cut off from the Church.

The bishop's dignity that St. Dositheus spoke of is derivative of his threefold power of ruling, teaching, and celebrating the Mysteries, capacities with which he is endowed by the Holy Spirit when he is consecrated. Regarding the ruling function, a bishop is called upon by God to rule and guide the flock entrusted to him. Episkopos in Greek means overseer, and a bishop is just that: an overseer of his community (diocese). He is also a monarch within his diocese, although not in the connotative sense of being a harsh and impersonal tyrant, for his is guided by the law of Christian love in the exercising of his ministry.

A bishop is called upon to be a teacher of the faith and to proclaim the truth — such is his teaching office, which is the special charisma he receives from the Holy Spirit at his consecration. The teaching ministry is performed first and foremost in the celebration of the Eucharist, when he delivers sermons, or when other members of the Church (priests or laymen) act as the bishop's delegates in delivering sermons.

Celebrating the Mysteries is another function of a bishop, and this occupation is aptly summarized in St. Dositheus’ description of the bishop as "the fountain of all the Mysteries." The bishop was usually the celebrant of the Eucharist in the primitive Church. However, presbyters (priests, the second rank of the sacred ministry under the bishop) may serve, with an episcopal blessing, all the Mysteries and Church services, save that of the Mystery of Ordination and the sanctification of holy chrism or an antimens (antimension). From the Apostle James, it is seen that priests performed the Church's sacred rites (James 5:14), and also that in the early Church there could be several priests in each community, whereas only one bishop was appointed for a city and the region around it. Priests act as the bishops' deputies when they celebrate the Holy Liturgy.

Additional duties of the bishop include the ordination of clergy. He alone ordains all the orders except for the order of bishop, for which at least two bishops are needed.

The bishop also consecrates churches. It is the bishop's job to oversee and administer all the churches in his diocese. No church can be built without his permission.

Bishops also consecrate the antimins used on the altar (see chapter 11) and bless chrism. In the early Church, as the number of converts continued to grow, it became physically impossible for an Apostle or bishop personally to lay hands upon each. The Church therefore began to bless a mixture of oil and spices, or chrism, which, when applied by a priest and accompanied by specified prayers, acts in the same way as a physical laying on of hands. New chrism is periodically blessed and the old chrism is added to it, thus perpetuating a chain of blessing reaching all the way back to the early Church.

In addition to the special ordained ministry conferred through the Mystery of Holy Orders, a bishop is involved with yet another ministry, although not one limited to his rank alone. This bishop and all Christians alike are prophets and priests, for the Holy Spirit is given to all Christians alike. This fact was especially apparent in the Apostolic Church where, not only was there an institutional ministry bestowed directly by the laying on of hands, but where God-given gifts were bestowed directly by the Holy Spirit. Of these gifts, the Apostle Paul mentions the working of miracles, healing, speaking in tongues, etc. (1 Corinthians). Although not so much evident in modern times, these gifts have nonetheless been visible on occasion throughout the Church's history. They were especially prominent in nineteenth-century Russia in the ministry of the elder. Eldership, rather than being received through ordination, was received directly from the Holy Spirit and was exercised by laymen, in addition to priests and bishops.

The textbook sums up the bishop's position in the Church with the reminder that even though a bishop's authority is fundamentally that of the Church, he is not to be thought of as someone set up over the Church. Instead, a bishop is in the Church as one of its members, and he is a holder of an office within the Church. Pastor and flock are united in an organic bond so that neither the bishop nor the people can properly be though of in isolation from the other. St. Cyprian states in brief: "The Church is the people united to the bishop, the flock clinging to its shepherd. The bishop is in the Church and the Church is in the bishop."

Lastly, it is important to note that a bishop's charisma does not guarantee that he will not fall into error and preach false doctrine, for he is still a man and is thus capable of making mistakes. Here once again is the principle of synergy: the divine element does not eliminate the human. While the Church as a whole is infallible, no individual member of it is infallible, save Christ, its Head. Given these facts, one can all the better understand how a vast number of hierarchs in modern times have entered into apostasy with their involvement with the end-times phenomenon of the panheresy of ecumenism. Speaking of this apostasy, Archbishop Theophan of Poltava and Pereyaslavka, confessor to the last imperial family of Russia, writes:

Regarding the affairs of the Church, in the words of the Saviour, one of the most awesome phenomena of the final days is that at that time "the stars shall fall from heaven" (Mt 24:29). According to the Saviour’s own explanation, these stars are the angels of the Churches, in other words, the bishops (Rev 1:20). The religious and moral fall of the bishops is thus one of the most characteristic signs of the final days. The fall of the bishops is particularly horrifying when they deviate from the doctrines of the faith, or, as the Apostle Paul put it, when they "would pervert the Gospel of Christ" (Gal 1:7) [Selected Letters, p. 44].

17. What limitation of the bishop's authority does the textbook mention?

The textbook mentions that no one bishop can claim to wield absolute power over the rest. The Church has never been monarchical, centered around any single bishop, as Rome later came to maintain. Prior to the Great Schism of 1054, Rome's bishop had no more authority than that granted to any of the patriarchs of the East.

18. Write out a) the quotation from the patriarchal letter of 1848 to the pope, and b) Khomiakov's comment on this statement.

Patriarchal letter of 1848 to the pope:

Among us, neither patriarchs nor councils could ever introduce new teaching, for the guardian of religion is the very body of the Church, that is, the people itself.

Khomiakov's comment to this statement:

The pope is greatly mistaken in supposing that we consider the ecclesiastical hierarchy to be the guardian of dogma. The case is quite different. The unvarying constancy and the unerring truth of Christian dogma does not depend upon any hierarchical order; it is guarded by the totality, by the whole people of the Church, which is the Body of Christ.

19. What is the position of the laity in the Church?

The Holy Spirit's gifts are poured out on the laity according to God's economy of salvation, and the laity share with the bishops and clergy in being guardians of the truth. While they do not participate in the bishop's divinely appointed office of teaching and proclaiming the truth, they do guard it, for all of God's people possess the truth (Christian dogma). As Archimandrite Adrianos, a former abbot of St. Catherine's Monastery on Mount Sinai, notes in this regard:

A decision of the Orthodox Church is never imposed from above, as it is by papism: the people of God are the defenders of the faith, wielding a veto, rejecting whatever is contrary to Tradition, and even judging the Orthodoxy of any ecumenical synod that can be characterized as a "robber synod." [A Letter of Orthodox Confession, p. 6].

The laity can also take part in the Councils, as did St. Constantine and other Roman (Byzantine) emperors. However, all final decisions and formal proclamations of faith in a Council are strictly the prerogatives of bishops by virtue of their teaching charisma.

20. Why, according to the textbook, do we pray for the reposed?

Protopriest Victor Potapov compares the Orthodox practice of praying for the reposed with the rejection of that practice on the part of the Protestants. Fr. Victor writes that:

The Orthodox confession of faith is completed by a lively expectation of the resurrection of the dead and the life of the age to come. Whoever does not believe in the future life, whoever does not believe in the future last, righteous judgment of God, whoever does not believe in a recompense for the righteous and punishment for evil is not Orthodox and is not a Christian.

Whereas we Orthodox believe in the efficacious power of prayer for the dead, sectarians reject prayers for the dead on the grounds that there is no direct commandment in Sacred Scripture concerning prayer for the dead and because a man's fate beyond the grave supposedly depends exclusively on what he himself was personally during his earthly life and, finally, because believers have one Mediator — the Saviour Jesus Christ Himself.

But if prayer for the dead is really not spoken of directly in the Word of God, this our duty with regard to them follows of itself from the obligation of Christians to support the communion of love between themselves, which is, with regard to the dead, expressed in prayers for them. The Apostle James persuades us to pray for one another (James 5:16) and adds that "the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much"; the Apostle Paul exhorts to pray for all men (1 Tim 2:1); St. John the Theologian — especially for sinners (1 Jn 5:16). One must not presuppose that these exhortations related only to the living, since the dead are also members of Christ's Church, just as we are, and a man's death, from the Christian point of view, ought not to break the communion existing between him and those remaining among the living. "For He is not a God of the dead, but of the living: for all live unto Him," says the Lord Jesus Christ (Lk 20:38). "Whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord's," teaches the Apostle Paul (Rom 14:8).

As for the citations by the Protestants on passages in Sacred Scripture wherein the matter concerns the recompense to each man according to his works (Ps 6:6, Gal 6: 7, 2 Cor 5:10 and others), these passages speak either about the fact that the dead themselves cannot change their lot or about the condition of the dead after the Dread Judgment; but the benefit of prayers for the dead is not denied.

Finally, it is completely true that our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, is the "one Mediator between God and men." Thus the Orthodox Church teaches, and thus it is said repeatedly in Sacred Scripture, especially often in the epistles of the Apostle Paul. But, after all, we Orthodox, in our requiem prayers, do turn precisely to Him, our Saviour, as children of His Church.

Commemoration of the dead and Church prayers for them are a primordial, Apostolic Tradition of the Church, preserved wholly in her throughout all the centuries. Already in the fifth century, St. Cyril of Jerusalem, a participant in the Second Ecumenical Council, in explaining the structure of the divine services and mysteries to the catechumens who had entered the Church in his time, wrote apropos of the Church's commemoration of the dead at the Liturgy: "It will be a very great advantage to the souls, for whom the supplication is put up, while [the Holy Sacrifice] is presented" [Mystagogical Catechesis V, ch. 9]. Particles taken out from the prosphoras in commemoration of the living and the dead are placed on the discos at the foot of the Lamb, where they remain until that moment when they are put into the chalice with the words: "By Thy precious blood, O Lord, wash away the sins of those commemorated here, through the prayers of the saints." [Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy].

There is no division between the living and departed in God and in His Church. Whether alive or dead, all belong to a single family, and all are one in the love of God.

The departed members of the Church continue to live after death, only in a different form than here on earth, and they are not deprived of spiritual nearness to those who remain on earth. Thus the bond of prayer with them on the part of the pilgrim Church on earth does not stop. "Neither death nor life... shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Rom 8:38). The departed need only one kind of help from those on earth: prayer and petition for the remission of their sins.

The Church Militant prays for its members who have died with true repentance. In praying for them as well as for those who are alive, the Church follows the words of the Apostle Paul: "Whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord's. For this end Christ both died and rose, and revived, that He might be Lord both of the dead and the living" (Rom 14:8-9). For this reason, the faithful departed are remembered in this prayer of the Holy Liturgy:

Again we offer unto Thee this reasonable worship for those who have fallen asleep in the faith: ancestors, fathers, patriarchs, prophets, Apostles, preachers, Evangelists, martyrs, confessors, ascetics, and every righteous spirit made perfect in faith.

The custom of praying for the dead also existed in the Old Testament Church. In the days of the pious leader of the Jews, Judas Maccabeus, an inspection of those who had been killed in battle revealed that in their garments was plunder from the gifts offered to idols. At that time, all the Jews "blessed the ways of the Lord, the righteous Judge, Who reveals the things that are hidden; and they turned to prayer, beseeching that the sin which had been committed might be wholly blotted out." Judas Maccabeus himself sent to Jerusalem to "provide for a sin offering. In doing this he acted well and honorably" (2 Mac 12:39-46).

Christ stated that "whoever speaketh a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come" (Mt 12:32). It can naturally be concluded from these words that the remission of sins for those who have sinned not unto death can be given both in the present life and after death. Likewise from the word of God it is known that Christ has "the keys of hell and death" (Rev 1:18). Christ therefore has the power to open the gates of hell by the prayers of the Church and by the powers of the propitiatory Bloodless Sacrifice that the Church offers for the departed.

All the ancient Liturgies of the Christian Church — both East and West — testify to the Church's remembrance in prayer of the dead. This remembrance is seen in the Liturgy of the Holy Apostle James, the Brother of the Lord, in the Liturgies of St. Basil the Great, St. John Chrysostom and St. Gregory the Dialogist. Similar references are to be found in the Roman, Spanish and Gallican Liturgies, as well as in the ancient Liturgies of the Armenians, Ethiopians, Syrians, Copts, Jacobites, and others. There is not a single one of these Liturgies where there is no prayer for the dead. The testimony of the Fathers and teachers of the Church speak of the same thing.

The Church intercedes for the dead in its prayers, just as it does for the living. This intercession is not done in its own name, but in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ (cf. Jn 14:13-14), and by the power of His Sacrifice on the Cross, which was offered for the deliverance of all. These fervent prayers aid the seeds of the new life which departed Christians have taken with them. If these seeds have not been able to open up sufficiently on earth, they gradually open up and develop under the influence of prayers and with the mercy of God. Nothing can revive rotten seeds, though, and prayers for the dead who have died in impiety and without repentance, who have quenched in themselves the Spirit of Christ (1 Thes 5:19), are powerless. The parable of the rich man and Lazarus shows that there is no deliverance from hell for these people, that they cannot be transferred into the bosom of Abraham (Lk 16:26). Indeed, these people usually do not leave behind on earth people who might sincerely pray to God for them, and they have not acquired friends among the saints in Heaven, who, when they fail (that is, die), might receive them into everlasting habitations — that is, might pray for them (cf. Lk 16:9).

On earth, it is not known to what lot each has been subjected after death, but prayers for the departed can never be profitless. If the departed ones have been vouchsafed to dwell in Heaven, they reply to our prayers for them with an answering prayer for us.

21. Summarize your understanding of the term communion of saints.

Although not mentioned by the textbook in its brief discussion of this subject, Protestantism affirms the doctrine of the communion of saints when it recites the Apostles' Creed. (This Creed is recognized as being of authentic provenance by the Orthodox Church, but it is never used by the Orthodox liturgically). However, Protestantism goes on to deny this doctrine in actual fact. Given that inconsistency, and given the fact that the veneration of saints has waned in the Latin Church, the communion of saints is an important matter to examine.

Explaining the Protestant and Orthodox positions regarding prayers to the saints, Protopriest Victor Potapov writes that:

The Protestants do not recognize the veneration of saints since it, in their opinion, debases the worth of the Saviour as "the one Mediator between God and men" and contradicts those passages of Sacred Scripture wherein it says that one should worship God alone. The Protestants consider the veneration of saints as useless, since the saints cannot hear our prayers.

In the Orthodox teaching on the veneration of saints, there is no belittling of the Lord's redemptive sacrifice whatsoever, since we ask of the saints not that which is not within their power — the forgiveness of sins, the granting of grace and the future, blessed life — but we pray to the saints as members of the Church that have been redeemed by the immaculate blood of Jesus Christ and are more proximate to God than we, that they mediate for us before the one Mediator, the Lord Jesus Christ.

In the passages of Sacred Scripture cited by the Protestants (Deut 6:13, 1 Tim 1:17), the rendering of divine honor to God alone is spoken of; but we do not render such honor to the saints. We venerate God's grace, which resides in them; we venerate God, Who, according to the words of the Psalmist, is "wondrous in His saints."

As for the hearing of our prayers by the saints, for this there is no necessity to possess omniscience, which is really proper to God alone. It is sufficient to have the gift of clairvoyance, of which the Lord deemed many of His saints worthy while still on earth, and which they, one must suppose, possess to a higher degree in Heaven [Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy].

Protestants have no prayerful communion with the Heavenly Church, with the Theotokos, the Holy Apostles, the saints, martyrs, confessors, the holy angels or archangels, and all the righteous. This practice was present in the ancient Church, yet Protestantism shuns prayer to the saints.

Protopresbyter Michael Pomazansky explains what the ancient Christian Church's understanding was of the veneration of saints, an understanding that is retained in Orthodoxy Christianity to this day. A paraphrase of Fr. Michael's explanation is given here.

There are certain Christians that the Church glorifies and lists in the Menologia. This glorification, which is an expression of the Church's conscience, takes place when the common conviction of the sanctity of a reposed person is confirmed by martyrdom, by fearless confession, by self-sacrificing service to the Church, or by the gift of healing, especially when the Lord confirms the sanctity of the reposed person by miracles after his death when he is remembered in prayers. The Church cannot do otherwise than glorify those whom the Lord Himself calls His "friends." "Ye are My friends... I have called you friends" (Jn 15:14-15). These are people whom Christ has received into His heavenly mansions, according to His promise that "where I am, there ye may be also" (Jn 14:3). When this glorification takes place, prayers for the forgiveness of sins and for that person's repose cease, and they give way to other forms of Church communion with him — sc., a) the praising of his ascetic struggles, since "neither do men light a candle and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house" (Mt 5:15); and b) petitions to that person that he might pray for us, for our forgiveness of sins and for our moral improvement, and that help will be given us in our spiritual needs and in our sorrows.

Holy Scripture states: "Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth" (Rev 14:13), and we do indeed bless them. Again Scripture states: "And the glory which Thou gavest Me, I have given them" (Jn 17:22), and we do indeed give the saints this glory, according to Christ's commandment.

Christ likewise states: "He that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet's reward; and he that receiveth a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man's reward" (Mt 10:41). "Whosoever shall do the will of My Father which is in Heaven, the same is My brother, and sister, and mother" (Mt 12:50). It is therefore fitting that we should receive a righteous man as a righteous man. If he is a brother or sister for the Lord, then he should be such for us too. The saints are our spiritual brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, and our love for them is shown by communion with them in prayer.

St. John the Theologian wrote to the Christians: "That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ" (1 Jn 1:3). In the Church, this fellowship with the Apostles continues uninterruptedly, going over with them into the other realm of their existence, the heavenly realm.

St. John also wrote of the nearness the saints have to the throne of the Lamb, and of their raising up prayers for the Church on earth. He states: "And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands" who praised the Lord (Rev 5:11).

The Apostle Paul writes that "ye are come unto Mount Zion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly of the Church of the firstborn, which are written in Heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect" (Heb 12:22-23). Thus, communion in prayer with the saints is the realization in actual fact of the bond that exists between Christians in the Church Militant and those in the heavenly Church.

Sacred Scripture gives numerous examples that show that the righteous, while still living on earth, can perceive much that is inaccessible to the ordinary understanding. All the more are these gifts present with the righteous ones after they have put off the flesh and are in Heaven. The Apostle Peter saw into the heart of Ananias (Acts 5:3). Again, the lawless act of the servant Gehazi was revealed to Elisha (4 Kings, ch. 4, 2 Kings in KJV). Even more remarkably, to him was revealed all the secret intentions of the Syrian court, which he in turn communicated to the king of Israel (4 Kings 6:12). Even while still on earth, the saints penetrated in spirit into the heavenly world. To some were shown choirs of angels, while others (Isaiah, Ezekiel) were allowed to behold the image of God. Others still were exalted to the third Heaven, where they heard mystical, unutterable words (the Apostle Paul). All the more are these saints, when they are in Heaven, able to know what is happening on earth and of hearing those who pray to them, for the saints in Heaven "are equal unto the angels" (Lk 20:36).

The parable of the rich man and Lazarus (Lk 16:19-31) shows that Abraham, in Heaven, could hear the cry of the rich man from hell, even though a "great gulf" separated them. Abraham's remark that "they have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them" (Lk 16:29) clearly indicates that Abraham knows the life of the Hebrew people after his death. He knows of Moses and the Law, and knows of the prophets and their writings. Thus the spiritual vision of the saints in Heaven is greater than the vision they had on earth. The Apostle Paul confirms this fact in his words that: "Now we see through a glass, darkly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I shall know even as also I am known" (1 Cor 13:12).

Since the earliest times, the Orthodox Church has held the teaching of the invocation of saints, knowing that they intercede for us before God in Heaven. This is shown in the ancient Liturgies. For example, in the Liturgy of the Holy Apostle James, it is said:

Especially we perform the memorial of the Holy and Glorious Ever-Virgin, the Blessed Theotokos. Remember her, O Lord God, and by her pure and holy prayers spare and have mercy on us.

In explaining the Liturgy of the Church of Jerusalem, St. Cyril of Jerusalem remarks: "Then we also commemorate [in offering the Bloodless Sacrifice] those who have previously departed: first of all, patriarchs, prophets, Apostles, martyrs, so that by their prayers and intercession God might receive our petition."

The Holy Fathers and teachers of the Church, especially from the fourth century on, give numerous testimonies about the Church's veneration of the saints. However, even from the beginning of the second century, there are direct indications in ancient Christian literature with regard to faith in the prayer of the saints in Heaven for Christians on earth. The witnesses of the martyrdom of St. Ignatius the God-Bearer (beginning of the second century), for example, state:

Having returned home with tears, we had the all-night vigil.... Then, after sleeping a little, some of us suddenly saw blessed Ignatius standing and embracing us, and others likewise saw him praying for us.

These and other accounts as well that mention the martyrs' prayers and intercession for us, are to be found in the martyrologies from the epoch of persecution against Christians.

22. Summarize the importance of the Name Day.

A Name Day is the festival of one's patron saint whose name one is given at Baptism. The saints are holy people who pleased God by a righteous life while they were on earth, and they are an important part of our family — a worldwide Christian family of people from all nationalities, stations in life and positions. Therefore, Orthodox Christians honor all the saints, but they also have a special devotion to their patron saint. For this reason, they consider their Name Day far more important than their birthday.

The celebration of the Name Day demonstrates the reverence Orthodox Christians have for the saints. In their understanding of the communion of saints, Orthodox do not look upon God's favored ones as being remote and obscure figures from another era, but they see them as being their contemporaries and friends, and as intercessors before the throne of God.

In addition to what was explained in the previous answer concerning Orthodoxy's veneration of the saints, Archimandrite Panteleimon of Jordanville gives the following helpful explanation:

How can we not appeal in prayer to the saintly righteous, who have already entered the heavenly mansions, when we know that even while living on earth they had the power to intercede before God for sinful people! God Himself commanded a king to entreat the righteous Abraham to pray for him, saying: For he is a prophet, and shall pray for thee, and thou shalt live (Gen 20:7). The Lord commanded the friends of the long-suffering Job, who had offended him, to ask his prayers: Go to My servant Job, and he shall pray for you, for him will I accept, lest I deal with you after your folly (Job 42:8). Because of the prayers of the righteous, the Lord often spared people who had sinned. Moses prayed for the Hebrew people who had fallen into the sin of idol-worship and were already doomed to destruction by God; the Lord accepted the prayer of the holy man and pardoned the stiff-necked people (Exodus 32:9-12). The Lord once said to the prophet Jeremiah: Though Moses and Samuel stood before Me, yet My mind could not be toward this people [the Hebrews].... Who shall have pity on thee, 0 Jerusalem, or who shall bemoan thee? (Jer 15:1-5). This means that Moses and Samuel, though already departed by the time of Jeremiah, can intercede for sinful people. Judas Maccabeus saw a vision of the departed high priest, Onias, who was "praying for all the Hebrew people," and, pointing to another man who was with him, said to Judas: This is Jeremiah, the prophet of God, who prays much for the people, and for the holy city (2 Mac 15:12,14). And the Holy Apostle Peter clearly promised his disciples that after his death he would remember them: Moreover, I will endeavor that ye may be able after my decease to have these things always in remembrance (2 Peter 1:15).

In the Book of Revelation, the visions of St. John the Theologian demonstrate the saints do pray for us, and their prayers, like smoke from a censer, rise before God, and He receives them with favor. Thus, the Word of God clearly teaches us to call upon the saints in our prayers, and affirms that they send up their prayers to God for us; and that He, the most gracious, receives their intercessions [A Ray of Light: Instructions in Piety and the State of the World at the End of Time, pp. 12-13].

While Protestants divide and separate people into the living and dead, Orthodox Christianity knows no such divisions, nor do such divisions exist with God. "With Him [God], all are alive" (Lk 20: 38). There is also a tight bond of unity between all the members of the Church: all are tied together by a common concern and love for one another. Therefore, all the members of the Church, both the living and the dead, pray for one another.

The saints hear our prayers and are always prepared to pray for us since we are all members of the one and same Body of Christ, the Church. Members of a body help each other, and both commiserate and rejoice together. As the Apostle Paul teaches: "And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honored, all the members rejoice with it. Now ye are the Body of Christ, and members in particular" (1 Cor 12:26-27). Therefore, the saints rejoice with us or they commiserate with us in our misfortune. It would not be commiseration if they did not come to help us.

The saints once lived on earth and suffered the same afflictions that we know here. They know from personal experience how difficult it is for people to struggle with worldly calamities and grief, and they know how necessary heavenly assistance is in the battle here on earth. Although the saints reside in Heaven now, they always remember their homeland and are interested in the salvation of the world. The saints are always ready to intercede before God on our behalf. They love us spiritually, for they descend from the same ancestors as us and are related to us. They are our brothers and sisters in the faith. They are also aware of our condition because they love God and are in communion with Him. By the grace of God, and because of their union with Him, they hear the prayers from the members of the Church Militant, and they receive those prayers and come to our aid with the compassionate and heartfelt lifting up of those prayers to the one Intercessor and Intermediary, Christ. If we, sinners that we are, can assist our neighbors, all the more can the holy ones in Heaven do so for us, for they are not disinterested observers of our troubles. They have a more complete and pure love than ours, and they can and do pray and intercede for us before God. Moreover, God listens to their prayers for us, for through their exploits while they lived on earth, the saints earned for themselves God's eternal good will. They are God's favorite ones who have gained ready access to Him. As the Word of God says concerning the effectiveness of the saints' prayers for us, "The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much" (James 5:15).

Regarding those who scoff at the idea of prayer, Metropolitan Gregory of St. Petersburg stated:

There are people (who are unworthy, however, of the name) who, not being able to understand how the Lord can hear and answer our prayers, do not fully believe that He does hear and answer them. Do not pay attention to them. We do not understand how we live, but we certainly do live.

The same may be said about prayers to the saints. The saints do hear and answer our prayers.

Because of the prayerful intercession of the saints, the Church ends its every service with this appeal to Jesus Christ, that He save and have mercy on us, "through the prayers of His Most Pure Mother and all the saints." Also because of the saints' loving intercession for us, Orthodox Christians always turn to the saints in prayer, and they give special honor to their patron saint on their Name Day. To revere God's righteous servants in this way is entirely proper. Christ regarded as His friends all those who fulfilled His commandments, and He said to His disciples: "He that receiveth you receiveth Me, and he that receiveth Me receiveth Him that sent Me" (Mt 10: 40). In these words, Christ is clearly showing that the honor rendered to His faithful servants and friends is imparted to Himself. Thus, in honoring the saints, Christians honor God Himself, Whom the saints pleased in their lives here on earth, and Whose grace resides in them.

23. Summarize the reasons for the veneration of the Theotokos.

Holy Scripture shows that it is most proper to venerate the Most Pure Mother of God. The Archangel Gabriel venerated her, saying, "Rejoice, thou that are highly favored, the Lord is with thee blessed art thou among women" (Lk 1:28). St. John the Forerunner, as a babe in his mother's womb, leaped at the mere sound of the voice of the Theotokos (Lk 1:41,44). St. Elizabeth also venerated Mary, saying, "Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb: and whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to Me?" (Lk 1:42-43). Likewise did the followers of Christ venerate Mary. One of them, after hearing Christ's words, said to Him, "Blessed is the womb that bare Thee, and the paps which Thou hast sucked" (Lk 11:27).

Elder Epiphanies Theodoropoulos (+1989) gives further reasons for the veneration of the Theotokos. To the above quoted words of St. Elizabeth, the Mother of God replied that from henceforth, all generations would call her blessed (Lk 1:48). Who was the Theotokos, then? Fr. Epiphanios answers:

An unknown girl of Nazareth. Who knew her? Despite this, from then on, empires have been forgotten, bright names of women have vanished, wives and mothers of generals have been forgotten. Who knows or remembers the mothers of Napoleon... or the mother of Alexander the Great? Almost no one. However, millions of lips in all the lengths and widths of the earth, and in all the centuries, hymn the humble daughter of Nazareth, "more honorable than the Cherubim and more glorious beyond compare than the Seraphim. " Are we or are we not, the people of [modern times], living the verification of this prophetical saying of the Panagia? [Counsels for Life, pp. 196-97].

The Mother of God, the daughter of the aged Joachim and Anna, and a descendant of the royal line of David, is a real person who walked this earth. To understand who she is, one need only to look to the Sacred Scriptures and Sacred Tradition of the Holy Orthodox Church, which have remained unchanged since Apostolic times.

The Theotokos was chosen from among all generations to become a bridge so that salvation could come into the world. Her selection to be the Mother of God took five and a half millennia after the fall of Adam and Eve before there arose a woman who was so completely "holy both in body and spirit" (1 Cor 7:34) that, through the creative action of God's Holy Spirit, God fashioned from her all-pure blood the flesh that was taken by Jesus, the Son and Word of God. Through a life of holiness, Mary became a pure vessel to contain the Uncircumscribable One, giving birth to Him, raising Him, and protecting Him in His youth.

The Holy Fathers have always taught that "God became man so that man might become divine," that is, that people might share God's nature (2 Peter 1:4). However, God did not wish to become incarnate without Mary's consent, for He always respects human freedom. Mary's response was completely voluntary. There was the chance for her to say no. However, her faith and obedient submission to God's will that she become an active participant in the Mystery of the Incarnation counterbalanced Eve's unbelief and disobedience in Paradise. Mary loosened the knot which Eve had bound, and Mary is therefore referred to as the New Eve, which means that she is the Mother of the new human race which is to share in the life of God. Had it not been for Mary's cooperation, there would have been no Incarnation, and consequently no redemption. Through Eve came sin; through the Virgin, salvation. The Theotokos, the Holy Church teaches, is the supreme example of synergy (cooperation) between God's purpose and the will of man. The Mother of God is, as the Archangel Gabriel called her, "full of grace."

St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco writes that the Jewish slanderers of the Mother of Jesus soon became convinced that it was almost impossible to dishonor her. On the basis of the information which they themselves possessed, it was much easier to prove her praiseworthy life. Therefore, abandoning their slander, which as Origen writes had already been taken up by the pagans (cf. Against Celsus I), they strove to prove at least that Mary had not been a virgin when she gave birth to Christ. They even maintained that the prophecies concerning the birth-giving of the Messiah by a virgin had never existed, and that it was therefore entirely in vain that the Christians thought to exalt Jesus by the fact that a prophecy was supposedly being fulfilled in Him.

Jewish translators were found (Aquila, Symmachus, Theodotion) who made new translations of the Old Testament into Greek. In these, the well-known prophecy of Isaiah 7:14, Behold, a virgin shall conceive, was altered. In place of the word virgin, the translators substituted a young woman. Through this altered text, the translators hoped to make people believe that Christians thought to ascribe to Mary something completely impossible — a birth-giving without a man, while actually the birth of Christ was not in the least different from other human births. However, the evil intent of the translators was clearly revealed. Indeed, not only the Jews, but even the pagans, on the basis of their own translations and various prophecies, expected the Redeemer to be born of a virgin.

The Gospels clearly state that Christ had been born of a virgin, and from antiquity the Christian Church has always confessed Christ "incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary." This truth was denied, though, not only by the Jews, but also by those who denied the Gospel, and by those who did not wish to humble themselves and lead a pure life. For the latter, the birth of God from the Ever-Virgin proved a stumbling block, and Mary's pure life was a reproach to them. Therefore, in order to present themselves as Christians, they began a new attack against the Mother of God. They did not deny that Christ was born of a virgin, but they began to maintain that Mary was a virgin only "until she brought forth her firstborn Son, Jesus" (Mt 1:25).

In the fourth century, the false teacher Helvidius (and likewise many others before and after him) held that after Christ's birth, Mary entered into conjugal life with St. Joseph the Betrothed and had from him children, who are called Christ's brothers and sisters in the Gospels.

In the fifth century, St. Jerome pointed out that the term brethren of the Lord does not necessarily infer the first degree of consanguinity. As the Semitic language lacked a word for cousin, the word achim (brethren) was used, and it had a very wide meaning, from that of siblings to cousins, and also stretching to members of the same tribe. Thus Genesis 14:14 states that Lot was Abraham's brother, when he was actually Abraham's nephew. Likewise, Genesis 29:15 describes Jacob as the brother of his uncle Laban. In many other places, the term brethren could be used to describe people not related either by blood or tribe (vide Jer 34:9, Deut 23:7 and Esd 5:7).

Of further note, in no place in the New Testament are any of the "brethren" explicitly referred to as Mary's son or sons — a systematic omission that additionally shows that Jesus was indeed her only son. Jesus is always referred to as "the son of Mary," not "a son of Mary."

Moreover, as St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco goes on to explain, the word until and words similar to it often signify eternity. In Sacred Scripture, it is said of Christ: "In His days shall shine forth righteousness and an abundance of peace, until the moon be taken away" (Ps 71:1). This passage does not mean that when there shall no longer be a moon at the end of the world, God's righteousness shall no longer be; rather it means that precisely than it will triumph.

Sacred Scripture likewise states: "For He must reign until He hath put all enemies under His feet" (1 Cor 15:25). This passage does not mean that Christ is to reign only until the time His enemies are put under His feet, for He will reign forever.

Again, King David writes: "As the eyes of the handmaid look unto the hands of her mistress, so do our eyes look unto the Lord our God, until He takes pity on us" (Ps 122:2). David will have his eyes toward the Lord until he obtains mercy, but having obtained it, he will not direct them to the earth.

Still another example is Christ's remark to the Apostles that: "Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world" (Mt 28:20). It cannot be supposed that after the end of the world, when the Apostles judge the twelve tribes of Israel, that they will not have the promised communion with the Lord.

Moreover, it is not correct to maintain that the brothers and sisters of Christ were the children of His Most Pure Mother. As the same St. John points out, the names of brother and sister have several distinct meanings. These designations signify a certain kinship between people or their spiritual closeness, and they are sometimes used in a broader or narrower sense. St. John notes that in any case, people are called brothers or sisters if they have a common father and mother, or only a common father or mother; or even if they have different fathers and mothers, if their parents (having become widowed) have entered into marriage (stepbrothers and stepsisters); or if their parents are bound by close degrees of kinship.

St. John notes that nowhere in the Gospels can it be seen that those who are called the brothers of Jesus were or were considered the children of His Mother. On the contrary, it was known that Jesus and others were the sons of Joseph, the betrothed of Mary, who was a widower with children from his first wife (cf. St. Epiphanius of Cyprus, Panarion, 78). Also, the sister of the Theotokos, Mary the wife of Cleopas, who stood with her during the Crucifixion (Jn 19: 25) had children. These children, in view of such close kinship, with full right could also be called brothers of the Lord.

That Christ's so-called brothers and sisters were not the children of the Theotokos is clearly evident in the fact that Christ entrusted His Mother before His death to His disciple John. Christ would not have given her to John's care if Mary had other children other than Himself. The other children would have taken care of her themselves. Also, as St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco points out, the sons of Joseph, the supposed father of Jesus, did not consider themselves obliged to take care of someone they regarded as their stepmother, or at least they did not have such love for her as blood children have for their parents, and such as the adopted John had for her.

Aping the ancient heretics who blasphemed the Mother of God, the entire Protestant world is unable to abandon its blasphemous and mocking teaching on the Mother of God. Even to this day, Protestantism refuses to call the all-holy Virgin anything but Mary. Also, twisting all things in Scripture that are hard to understand (cf. 2 Peter 3:16), Protestantism brought back to life the false teaching that Mary lived with Joseph as a wife with her husband, and that he fathered children by her. However, St. John's examination of Scriptures given above reveals with complete clarity the insubstantiality of the objections to the ever-virginity of the Mother of God. Also, the flippant irreverence of those who attack her virginity is completely nullified by Scripture, which states: "This gate shall be shut, it shall not be opened, and no man shall enter in by it; because the Lord, the God of Israel, hath entered in by it, therefore it shall be shut" (Ezekiel 44:2). The Holy Fathers regarded these lines as a prophecy of the birth of God from a virgin, and also of the ever-virginity of Mary, and the liturgical poetry of Orthodoxy often refers to "the closed gateway of the Virgin." Moreover, as Protopresbyter Michael Pomazansky points out, the birth of Jesus Christ from a virgin is testified to directly and deliberately by two Evangelists, Matthew and Luke. This dogma entered into the Church's Creed, Fr. Michael explains, in these words: "Who for the sake of us men and for our salvation came down from Heaven and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary and became man." The dogma of the Virgin Birth teaches that the Theotokos was a virgin before Childbirth, during Childbirth, and after Childbirth.

The life of the Theotokos is preserved in the Church's Sacred Apostolic Tradition. During her earthly life, she avoided the glory that was hers as the Mother of God, but preferred instead to live in quiet and to prepare for her departure into eternal life. She always gook pains to the end of her earthly days to prove worthy of the Kingdom of her Son.

The friends of Christ, the Apostles, manifested great concern and devotion for the Virgin Mary, especially John the Theologian. After Christ uttered to him from the Cross, "Behold thy mother," John took her to himself and cared for her as a mother.

After Mary's repose, the Apostles (save Thomas) gave her most pure body over to burial. On the third day, when the Apostle Thomas arrived in Jerusalem, all of them went to the tomb, only to find it empty. Mary later appeared to them that evening during their meal, telling them that Christ had glorified her body also and that she, resurrected, stood before His throne. She then promised to be with the forever. Of this encounter, St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco writes:

The Apostles greeted the Mother of God with great joy and began to venerate her not only as the Mother of their beloved Teacher and Lord, but also as their heavenly helper, as a protector of Christians and intercessor for the whole human race before the righteous Judge. And everywhere the Gospel of Christ was preached, His Most Pure Mother also began to be glorified [The Orthodox Veneration of Mary, the Birthgiver of God, p. 23].

The God-pleasing Saint John continues:

If God the Father chose her, God the Holy Spirit descended upon her, and God the Son dwelt in her, submitted to her in the days of His youth, was concerned for her when hanging on the Cross — then should not everyone who confesses the Holy Trinity venerate her? [Ibid., p. 21].

Mary is the Mother of our God and the most exalted among all God's creatures. In the titles assigned to her by two Ecumenical Councils, she is the Theotokos (Birthgiver of God) and Aeiparthenos (Ever-Virgin). She is also popularly referred to as Panagia (All-Holy), and in the hymn Meet It Is sung at the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, she is called "more honorable than the Cherubim and incomparably more glorious than the Seraphim."

It is indeed proper for people to follow the example of the Most Pure Mother of God and venerate her. Many times each year, Orthodox Christians all over the world gather in churches adorned with icons of their heavenly Intercessor to praise her who was glorified with special honor in Heaven and on earth, and to thank her for the benefactions she has shown, and to beg mercy. They also venerate her in every series of hymns in the services, each of which ends with a hymn or verse (the Theotokion) that honors her.

24. Explain the term Theotokos.

As noted earlier, Theotokos is Greek for Birthgiver of God. The Fathers of the Council of Ephesus (Third Ecumenical Council) wanted to maintain this title, for it protects a correct understanding of Christ's Person. Mary is venerated in the first place precisely because of Christ. The title Theotokos insures that Mary is not glorified as an end in herself, or apart from Christ, but only in her relation to Him. The veneration of the Mother of God can never detract from the worship of God. In fact, just the opposite is true: the more we call "the very Theotokos" to remembrance and venerate her, the more we "commit ourselves and one another and all our life unto Christ our God."

25. Give some differences between the Orthodox veneration of the Theotokos and the non-Orthodox attitude toward her.

The West, cut loose from its Orthodox moorings for one thousand years, has forgotten the biblico-patristic teaching of theosis (divinization by grace). Thus the Latino-Protestant tradition can comprehend only two equally distorted attitudes that developed toward the Mother of God after the West severed itself from Christ's Church in 1054. One view is held by the Reformed Churches, while the other is maintained by the Roman Catholic Church.

The Protestant Reformers rejected the distorted view of Mary that developed after Rome left the Apostolic Church in the eleventh century, a view that ultimately resulted in the false teaching of the Immaculate Conception. Protestantism not only rejected the incorrect Western view of Mary, but it went on to ignore her completely, thus denying her role in the Incarnation and the part she plays in people's salvation. In spite of the Gospel words "all generations shall call me blessed" (Lk 1:48), Protestantism, which claims to be based "on the Bible," denies all veneration of the Mother of God, and denies calling on her in prayer.

In addition, as the writer Peter Jackson points out, Protestantism is always quick to identify the veneration of Mary with the worship of pagan goddesses, although for the sake of consistency, he also notes, they would also have to associate the worship of Christ with His pagan counterfeits. If Christians can discern between the true Christ and the false, then we should be able to distinguish between the Theotokos and ancient pagan goddesses, Mr. Jackson concludes.

Western Christendom's second incorrect view of the Mother of God is one invented by the Roman Catholics: a super-human creature, one without a fallen nature, a goddess and a fourth person of the Holy Trinity. While Latin commentators say that Mary was saved by Christ, they understand this fact in the distorted sense that she was preserved without taint of original sin in the future merits of Christ (as defined in the Bull of the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception). In the Latin teaching, Mary received in advance the gift which Christ brought to mankind by His suffering and death on the Cross. Also, with regard to those torments that Mary endured at the foot of the Cross of her Son, and in those sorrows which filled her life, Roman Catholicism consider these an addition to the suffering of Christ. Latin theologians therefore see Mary as an associate with Christ the Redeemer as a Co-Redemptress. As the Catechism of Dr. Weimar states: "In the act of redemption, she [Mary], in a certain way, helped Christ." Or, in the words of the Catholic Bishop Malou of Broughes: "In three respects — as Daughter, as Mother, and as Spouse of God, the Holy Virgin is exalted to a certain equality with the Father, to a certain superiority to her Son, and to a certain nearness to the Holy Spirit." Thus, in the teachings of the representatives of Latin theology, Mary is placed side by side with Christ Himself in the matter of redemption, and she is exalted to an equality with God. Although the Latin Church has not yet proclaimed such teachings to be dogma, it is presently on the path to a complete deification of the Mother of God. At present, Roman Catholic authorities call Mary a complement to the Holy Trinity.

Orthodoxy highly exalts the Mother of God, but it does not dare to ascribe any qualities that have not been communicated about her in Sacred Scripture or Sacred Apostolic Tradition. Thus Orthodoxy venerates the Mother of God in the sense of honoring her, but it does not give her the worship which is given to God alone. Greek theology is very clear on this point. The Greek language distinguishes between latreia, which is the worship of God, and duleia, hyperdu-leia, and proskynesis, which describe the veneration of the Virgin.

Orthodoxy rejects the Roman Catholic Church's false doctrine that Mary is "a creature, but also no longer a creature," that she is a Co-Redemptress, that she is a complement and a fourth person of the Holy Trinity, and that she is equal to God. All of Rome's teachings in this regard strive to glorify Mary more than God has glorified her, and all are the fruit of vain, false wisdom which is not satisfied with what the Church has held since the time of the Apostles. In Rome's false teachings about Mary are the words of St. Epiphanius of Cyprus (fourth century) fulfilled: "Certain senseless ones in their opinion about the Holy Ever-Virgin have striven and are striving to put her in place of God." [Against the Antidikomarionites].

Orthodoxy and Rome part company again over the matter of the Latin Church's dogma of the Immaculate Conception, for the doctrine is an extension of the West's incorrect understanding of the ancestral sin (what the West calls original sin), and it is based upon the false assumption that Christ might have been tainted by ancestral sin. Orthodoxy likewise rejects Rome's dogma of the Assumption of the Virgin insofar as it implies that Mary did not undergo a bodily death.

26. Give your understanding of the heresy of the Immaculate Conception.

The Western extremes consider the Mother of God either born perfect (Roman Catholicism), or else never having become perfect at all (Protestantism). Concerning the former view, it is defined in the completely blasphemous teaching of the Immaculate Conception, a corruption invented by the Roman Catholic Church and subsequently proclaimed a dogma of that Church in 1854. Like all heresies, the false doctrine of the Immaculate Conception is satanic in nature.

The new teaching of the Immaculate Conception stems from Augustine of Hippo's incorrect opinion of the ancestral sin, and it was Rome's attempt to cover up Augustine's incorrect view with yet another false teaching. Augustine taught that the guilt of Adam and Eve's sin was transmitted through the human race either through the conjugal act or through actual childbirth. This idea engendered a fear among the Latins that since Christ was born of a woman, He might be infected with the ancestral sin. Rather than backing up, rethinking the matter, and eradicating the first falsehood, Rome chose instead to cover it up and try to protect the Virgin from all traces of ancestral sin. As the Greek writer Photios Kontoglu described the matter, "The doctrine of the Immaculate Conception is a poor solution to a non-existent problem."

St. John, Archbishop of Shanghai and San Francisco, gives a detailed history of the Immaculate Conception. He writes that after those who censured the most pure life of the Mother of God had been rebuked, as well as those who denied her ever-virginity, those who denied her dignity as the Mother of God, and those who disdained her icons, there appeared another teaching which seemed to exalt Mary, but which in fact denied all her virtues. This new teaching was raised by the devil, who could not imagine himself defeated, and who could not remain an indifferent spectator to the glory of the Mother of God. This new false teaching was that of the Immaculate Conception, and through it, the devil continued to wage war against the truth through men who do his will.

The teaching of the Immaculate Conception is that "the All-Blessed Virgin Mary in the first instant of her conception, by the special grace of Almighty God and by a special privilege, for the sake of the future merits of Jesus Christ, Saviour of the human race, was preserved exempt from all stain of original sin" (from the Bull of Pope Pius IX concerning the new dogma). In other words, at her conception, the Mother of God was preserved from original sin and, by God's grace, was placed in a state wherein it was impossible for her to have personal sin.

Christians had never heard of such a teaching prior to the ninth century, when for the first time one Paschasius Radbertus, Abbot of Corvey, expressed the opinion that the Holy Virgin was conceived without original sin. Starting in the twelfth century, this idea began to spread among the clergy and laity in the Latin Church, which by then had already cut itself off from the Universal Church founded by Christ, thus losing the grace and guidance of the Holy Spirit.

The same St. John explains that there was a tremendous difference of opinion among the most renowned theologians of the West, the pillars (so to speak) of the Latin Church. By no means did all of them agree with the new teaching. Bernard of Clairvaux and Thomas Aquinas decisively rejected it, while Duns Scotus defended it. From the teachers, this division carried over to their disciples. The Dominican monks, following Thomas Aquinas, censured the teaching of the Immaculate Conception, while the Franciscans, followers of Duns Scotus, strove to promote it. The battle between these two currents continued on for the course of several centuries, and on both sides were those who the Roman Catholics regarded as the greatest authorities.

No help came to the resolution of the matter by the fact that several people declared they had divine revelations concerning it. The renowned fourteenth-century Swedish nun Bridget spoke in her writings about appearances to her of the Mother of God, wherein Mary told her she had been conceived immaculately, without original sin. A contemporary of Bridget's, however, the yet more renowned ascetic Catherine of Sienna, affirmed that the Mother of God did in fact participate in original sin at her conception, concerning which she had received a revelation by Christ Himself, she stated.

Thus, neither by theological writings, nor by the various contradictory "miraculous" manifestations, could Roman Catholics distinguish where the truth was. Up until the end of the fifteenth century, popes remained apart from these disputes. Only then, in 1475, Pope Sixtus IV approved a service in which the teaching of the Immaculate Conception was clearly expressed. Several years later, he forbade condemnation of those who believed in the Immaculate Conception. The same pope, however, also declined to affirm that the Immaculate Conception was the unwavering teaching of the Latin Church, and as a result, he did not condemn those who did not accept the idea.

Thinking that it seemed pious and pleasing to the Mother of God to give her as much glory as possible, Roman Catholics came to give the teaching of the Immaculate Conception more and more support. Their striving to glorify the Mother of God on the one hand, and on the other hand, the deviation of the Latin theologians into abstract speculations that led only to seeming truth (Scholasticism), and finally, the patronage of the popes after Sixtus IV — all of these things led to the fact that the opinion expressed by Paschasius Radbertus was already the belief of the Latin Church. It remained only to have the doctrine proclaimed as the teaching of that Church. Such was one in 1854, when Pius IX declared the Immaculate Conception to be a dogma of the Roman Catholic Church.

In that action, Rome added still another deviation from the teaching which it itself had once proclaimed prior to 1054, when it still adhered to the ancient Apostolic faith handed down by Christ, which faith has been held up to now unaltered and unchanged by the Orthodox Church. The proclamation of the new dogma satisfied first the broad masses of Catholics who in simplicity of heart thought the teaching served for the greater glory of the Mother of God, to whom they felt they were making a gift with this teaching. The dogma again satisfied the vainglory of the Latin theologians who defended it and worked it out. Most of all, though the dogma was profitable to the papal throne itself since, having proclaimed the new dogma by his own authority, even though he did listen to the opinions of the Latin bishops, the pope by this very act openly appropriated to himself the right to change the teaching of the Roman Church. The pope thereby placed his own voice above the testimony of Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition. A direct deduction of this act was that the Roman popes were infallible in matters of faith — and indeed, the very same Pius IX, who called himself "the way, the truth, and the life," proclaimed papal infallibility a dogma of the Latin Church in 1870.

In the definition of the new dogma of the Immaculate Conception, the Latin Church stated that it was not establishing a new teaching, but that it was only proclaiming something which had always existed in the Church, and which had been held by the Holy Fathers. Excerpts were then given from these Fathers, although the teachings contained in them do not show what the Latin Church states they show; they show instead only the exalted sanctity of the Mother of God. In none of the excerpts is there any word about the immaculateness of Mary's conception. Also not shown in these excerpts are the writings of those very same Fathers who in other places proclaim that only Jesus Christ is completely pure of every sin, while all men, being born of Adam, have a flesh subject to the law of sin.

Contrary to what the Latin Church states, none of the ancient Fathers state that God miraculously purified the Virgin Mary when she was in her mother's womb. What these Fathers do indicate, however, is that the Mother of God, just as all human beings, endured a battle with sinfulness. In her own battle with temptations, these Fathers state, Mary was victorious and was saved by her divine Son.

St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco goes on to list five major points which demonstrate the falsehood of the Immaculate Conception. These points are as follows:

(1) The teaching of the complete sinlessness of the Virgin Mary is contrary to Sacred Scriptures, which repeatedly mention the sinlessness of the "one Mediator between God and man, Jesus Christ" (1 Tim 2:5); "and in Him is no sin" (1 Jn 3:5); "Who did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth" (1 Peter 2:22); "One that hath been in all points tempted like we are, yet without sin" (Heb 4:15); "He hath made Him to be sin for us, Who knew no sin" (2 Cor 5:21). Concerning the rest of mankind, however, Scriptures state, "Who is pure of defilement? No one who has lived a single day of his life on earth" (Job 14:4); "God commendeth His own love toward us in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.... If, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, shall we be saved by His life" (Rom 5:8-10).

(2) The Immaculate Conception also contradicts Sacred Tradition, which is contained in numerous patristic writings. These speak of Mary's exalted sanctity from her very birth, and while they also speak of her cleansing by the Holy Spirit at her conception of Christ, they mention nothing of any cleansing at the time of the conception by Anna. As St. Basil the Great writes: "There is none without stain before Thee, even though his life be but a day, save Thee alone, Jesus Christ our God, Who didst appear on earth without sin, and through Whom we all trust to obtain mercy and the remission of sins" (Third Prayer of Vespers at Pentecost). Again, as St. Gregory the Theologian states: "When Christ came through a pure, virginal, unwedded, God-fearing, undefiled Mother without wedlock and without father, and inasmuch as it befitted Him to be born, He purified female nature, rejected the bitter Eve and overthrew the laws of the flesh." (In Praise of Virginity). Even then, however, as Saints John Chrysostom and Basil the Great speak concerning this matter, Mary was not placed in a state of being unable to sin, but continued to take care of her salvation and overcame all temptations. (St. John Chrysostom, Commentary on John, Homily 85; St. Basil the Great, Epistle 160).

(3) The teaching that the Virgin Mary was purified before her birth so that the Pure Christ might be born of her, is meaningless. If the Pure Christ could be born only if Mary were born pure, it would be necessary that her parents be pure of original sin, and they again would have to be born of purified parents, and so forth. One could only conclude that Christ's Incarnation could not have taken place unless all His ancestors in the flesh, even up to and including Adam, had been first purified of original sin. In that event, however, there would have been no need for the Incarnation of Christ, because Christ came down to earth in order to annihilate sin.

(4) Rome's teaching that the Virgin Mary was preserved from original sin, and its teaching that she was preserved by God's grace from personal sins, makes God unmerciful and unjust. If God could preserve Mary from sin and purify her at her conception, then why does He not do the same for other individuals, but instead leaves them in sin? It would follow from Rome's teaching that God saves people apart from their will, predetermining certain ones at conception to salvation.

(5) Rome's teaching, while seeming at first to exalt Mary, does just the exact opposite: the Immaculate Conception belittles Mary by denying all her virtues. If Mary, even in the womb of her mother, could not even desire anything good or evil, and was preserved by God's grace from every impurity, and then by the same grace was preserved from sin after she was born, then where is her merit? If she did not sin because God made it impossible for her to sin, why did God glorify her? If there were no effort on Mary's part and no impulses to sin, and she remained pure because of these reasons, then why is she regarded as the most holy of all the saints? There is no victory without an adversary.

The same St. John explains that:

The righteousness and sanctity of the Virgin Mary was manifested in the fact that she, being "human with passions like us," so loved God and gave herself over to Him, that by her purity she was exalted high above the rest of the human race. For this, having been foreknown and forechosen, she was vouchsaved to be purified by the Holy Spirit, Who came upon her, and to conceive of Him the very Saviour of the world. The teaching of the grace-given sinlessness of the Virgin Mary denies her victory over temptations; from a victor who is worthy to be crowned with crowns of glory, this makes her a blind instrument of God's providence [The Orthodox Veneration of Mary, the Birthgiver of God, pp. 59-60].

St. John quotes lengthy refutations of the ideas behind the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception from the writings of Blessed Augustine of Hippo and St. Ambrose, Bishop of Milan. These two Fathers of the Western Church clearly testify that the false ideas of the Immaculate Conception which spread through the West were earlier rejected by the West when it was still fully Orthodox Christian. Moreover, even after Rome severed itself from the Apostolic Church in 1054, one of its acknowledged great authorities, Bernard, demonstrated the novelty and absurdity of Rome's false teaching. (Because of the length of these three refutations, they are not quoted here).

The "gift" of the pope and those others who imagine they can glorify the Mother of God by seeking out new truths is no gift at all. The Immaculate Conception is instead a belittlement to the Mother of God. So exalted was Mary's life on earth and so exalted is her glory in Heaven, and so much has God Himself glorified her, that human inventions cannot add anything to her honor and glory. The false teachings that people invent about Mary only obscure her face from their eyes. As the Apostle Paul writes: "Brethren, take heed lest there shall be any one that maketh spoil of you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ" (Col 2:8).

The heresy of the Immaculate Conception is such a vain deceit. Like every other lie, this false teaching is the seed of the father of lies, the devil (Jn 8:44). Through the Roman Catholic Church's lie of the Immaculate Conception, the devil has managed to deceive many who do not understand that they blaspheme the Mother of God. The Most Holy Mother of God rejects the lie, being the Mother of Truth (Jn 14:6).

27. Is the Latin teaching of the Assumption of the Virgin the same as the Orthodox doctrine of the Dormition of the Virgin?

The doctrine of the Assumption of the Virgin, which Rome proclaimed to be a dogma in 1950, implies that Mary did not undergo a physical death because of the Immaculate Conception. That is, because Mary was "preserved immaculate from all stain of original sin," as Rome's pronouncement read, she would not have died like the rest of mankind, but would have been assumed directly into Heaven. This doctrine, like that of the Immaculate Conception, is a product of Rome's incorrect understanding of the ancestral sin, and it is not acceptable to Orthodox theology.

In the Church's Holy Tradition, it is recorded that prior to her death, the Mother of God prayed to Christ to deliver her from the hands of the malicious demons that meet human souls on the way to Heaven in order to try to seize them and take them away to hell. Christ heard the prayers of His Mother, and in the hour of her death, He came from Heaven with a multitude of angels to receive Mary's soul, which is depicted as an infant in His hands in icons of the Dormition of the Mother of God. Moreover, all of the Apostles (save Thomas) gathered in Jerusalem when Mary died, and they buried her most pure body with sacred hymns. Ignoring these facts, the Roman Catholic Church once again severed itself from the Sacred Apostolic Tradition to which it itself adhered prior to its departure from the Church in 1054.

Orthodoxy believes that all mankind, Mary included, automatically inherit the mortality of Adam, although not Adam's guilt: men are guilty only insofar as they choose to imitate Adam. While Mary is without personal sin (since she did not imitate Adam's disobedience), she is still a member of the human race and did undergo a physical death like all of Adam's descendants. And like all of mankind, she needed to be saved by Christ.

The Orthodox celebration of the Feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos is a guarantee that Mary's salvation after bodily death is the destiny of all people who follow her example of cooperation with the will of God, and of all who follow her example of love, obedience and humility. It is a sign that all God's faithful people, after Mary's example, will become temples of the living God and that they will share in God's Kingdom.

In addition to the Roman Catholic Church's dogma of the Assumption of the Virgin, there also developed a cult of the Immaculate Heart of the Most Holy Virgin, which has been universally disseminated, along with Rome's cult of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Protopresbyter Michael Pomazansky explains that applicable to the second cult is a decree of the Fifth Ecumenical Council (the Ninth Canon against Heretics), which states:

If anyone shall take the expression, Christ ought to be worshiped in His two natures, in the sense that he wishes to introduce thus two adorations, the one in special relation to God the Word and the other as pertaining to the Man... and does not venerate, by one adoration, God the Word made man, together with His flesh, as the Holy Church has taught from the beginning, let him be anathema [Orthodox Dogmatic Theology, pp. 186-87].

Fr. Michael states that although this decree touches only upon the separate worship of Christ's Divinity and His Humanity, it still indirectly shows that in general the veneration and worship of the Saviour should be directed to Him as a whole, and not to parts of His Being. He also states that even if heart is taken to mean Christ's love itself, still, neither in the Old Testament nor in the New was there ever a custom to worship separately God's love, His wisdom, His creative or providential power, or His sanctity. Fr. Michael adds that:

All the more must one say this concerning the parts of [Christ's] bodily nature. There is something unnatural in the separation of the heart from the general bodily nature of the Lord for the purpose of prayer, contrition and worship before Him. Even in the ordinary relationships of life, no matter how much a man might be attached to another — for example, a mother to a child — he would never refer to his attachment to the heart of the beloved person, but will refer it to the given person as a whole [Ibid].

With regard to the Latin Church's cult of the Immaculate Heart of the Most Holy Virgin, Fr. Michael remarks that one can say the same thing that was said about the veneration of the heart of Jesus. As another writer expounds further on the matter, the veneration of the heart of Christ and the Mother of God is just as inappropriate as the veneration of their lungs or pancreas — something that goes against piety and would be unthinkable.

28. Give your understanding of the following (bearing in mind that the discussion of the subject in the textbook is very brief): a) the nature of hell, b) the nature of the fire of hell, and c) the nature of the Parousia.

A. Some Gospel readings at the Liturgies of the three Sundays shortly preceding Great Lent demonstrate the Orthodox attitude towards the Last Judgment and hell. The first Sunday's Gospel is the parable of the publican and Pharisee, and the second Sunday's is that of the prodigal son. Both show God's immense forgiveness and mercy to all sinners who repent. The third Sunday's Gospel reading is the parable of the sheep and the goats. This parable reminds Christians of another possibility: that one can reject God and turn from Him and choose hell. "Then shall He say to those on the left hand, the curse of God is upon you, go from My sight into everlasting fire" (Mt 25:41).

Protopresbyter Michael Pomazansky states that in these words of Christ and elsewhere, the Word of God speaks with positiveness and certainty concerning the eternal torments of evil men. This condition of torment is depicted as a place of torment, and it is called gehenna. Christ stated: "If thy hand offend thee, cut it off; it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched, where the worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched" (Mk 9:43-44, also 45-48). "There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth," Christ stated many times concerning hell (Mt 8:12 and other places). St. John the Theologian calls this place or condition "a lake of fire" (Rev 19:20). Likewise the Apostle Paul writes that" "In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ" (2 Thes 1:8).

The torments of hell, as Holy Scripture has handed down, are the wailing and gnashing of teeth from despair, being consumed by the worm that never dies, the agony from unquenchable fire, and being cast into outer darkness. The "torments" and "darkness" are the estrangement from God, and the wasting away of the souls of the damned, tormented by an evil conscience.

Protopresbyter Michael Pomazansky states that the Church, basing itself on the Word of God, acknowledges the torments of gehenna to be eternal and unending. The Church therefore condemned at the Fifth Ecumenical Council the false teaching of the Origenists that the demons and impious people would suffer in hell only for a certain definite time, and then would be restored to their original condition of innocence (apokatastasis in Greek). The condemnation at the Universal Judgment is called in the Apocalypse of St. John the Theologian the "second death" (Apoc 20:14).

One sometimes hears that the existence of hell is inconsistent with the belief in a loving God. The same Fr. Michael addresses this assertion. He writes that an attempt to understand the torments of gehenna in a relative sense, to understand eternity as some kind of age or period — perhaps a long one, but one still having an end — was made in antiquity, just as it is made today. In this attempt, Fr. Michael notes, are brought forward conceptions of a logical kind: the disharmony between such torments and the goodness of God is pointed out, as is the seeming disproportion between crimes that are temporal and the eternity of the punishments for sin, as well as the disharmony between these eternal punishments and the final aim of the creation of man, which is blessedness in God.

Fr. Michael writes that it is not for us to define the boundaries between the unutterable mercy of God and His justice or righteousness. We know that the Lord "will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth" (1 Tim 2:4). However, man is capable, through his own evil will, of rejecting the mercy of God and the means of salvation. As Mark the Monk, a hermit of the fifth century, wrote: "No one is so good and full of pity as God, but even He does not forgive those who do not repent."

Fr. Michael quotes St. John Chrysostom, who, in interpreting the depiction of the Last Judgment, remarks:

When [the Lord] spoke about the Kingdom, after saying, "Come, ye blessed of My Father, inherit the Kingdom," He added, which is "prepared for you from the foundation of the world" (Mt 25:34), but when speaking about the fire, He did not speak thus, but He added: which is "prepared for the devil and his angels" (Mt 25:41). For I have prepared for you a Kingdom, but the fire I have prepared not for you but for the devil and his angels. But since you have cast your own selves into the fire, therefore accuse yourself for this [Ibid., pp. 349-50].

Fr. Michael states that we have no right to understand the words of Christ only conditionally, as a threat or as a certain pedagogical means applied by the Saviour. If one understands it in this way, one errs, for Christ does not instill in us any such understanding. Fr. Michael also notes that such a mistaken notion subjects one to God's wrath according to the words of the Psalmist: "Why hath the ungodly one provoked God? For he hath said in his heart: He will not make enquiry" (Ps 9:34). Fr. Michael goes on to note that the very concept of anger in relation to God is conditional and anthropomorphic, and he quotes St. Anthony the Great, who states:

God is good, dispassionate and immutable. Now someone who thinks it reasonable and true to affirm that God does not change, may well ask how in that case, it is possible to speak of God as rejoicing over those who are good and showing mercy to those who honor Him, while turning away from the wicked and being angry with sinners. To this it must be answered that God neither rejoices nor grows angry, for to rejoice and to be offended are passions; nor is He won over by the gifts of those who honor Him, for that would mean He is swayed by pleasure.... He is good, and He only bestows blessings and never does harm, remaining always the same. We men, on the other hand, if we remain good through resembling God, are united to Him; but if we become evil through not resembling God, we are separated from Him. By living in holiness, we cleave to God; but by becoming wicked we make Him our enemy. It is not that He grows angry with us in an arbitrary way, but it is our own sins that prevent God from shining within us, and expose us to the demons who punish us. And if through prayer and acts of compassion we gain release from our sins, this does not mean that we have won God over and made Him change, but that through our actions and our turning to God we have cured our wickedness and so once more have enjoyment of God's goodness. Thus to say that God turns away from the wicked is like saying that the sun hides itself from the blind [Ibid., pp. 350-51].

Fr. Michael also adds that worthy of attention are the words of St. Theophan the Recluse:

The righteous will go into eternal life, but the satanized sinners into eternal torment, into communion with the demons. Will these torments end? If satanism and becoming like Satan should end, then the torments also can end. But is there an end to satanism and becoming like Satan? We will behold and see this then. But until then we shall believe that just as eternal life will have no end, so also the eternal torment that threatens sinners will have no end. No conjectures can show the possibility of the end of satanism. What did Satan not see after his fall! How much of the powers of God was revealed! How he himself was struck by the power of the Lord's Cross! How up to now all his cunningness and malice are defeated by this power! But still he is incorrigible, he constantly opposes; and the farther he goes, the more stubborn he becomes. No, there is no hope at all for him to be corrected! And if there is no hope for him, then there is no hope either for men who become satanized by his influence. This means that there must be hell with eternal torments [Ibid., p. 351].

Fr. Michael concludes that:

The writings of the holy Christian ascetics indicate that the higher one's moral awareness is raised, the more acute become the feeling of moral responsibility, the fear of offending God, and the awareness of the unavoidability of punishment for deviating from the commandment of God. But to just the same degree does hope in God's mercy grow. To hope in it and ask for it from the Lord is for each of us a duty and a consolation [Ibid].

B. The Church does not teach that God tortures evildoers with material fire and physical agony. Rather, God will reveal Himself in such a resplendent, radiant glory in His Son Jesus that no man will fail to perceive His exceeding greatness. The saints taught that the "fire" of hell that will consume those who have rejected God is the fire of God's love. "For our God is a consuming fire" (Heb 12: 29), One Who "dwells in unapproachable light" (1 Tim 6:16). Those who have denied God are not deprived of God's love in hell, but for them the coming of His love and light will be a sore affliction. For them, God's consuming fire will be a cause of suffering, weeping, and gnashing of teeth. St. John of Damascus teaches that "sinners will be given over to everlasting fire, which will not be a material fire such as we are accustomed to, but a fire such as God might know" [Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith, p. 406]. Vladimir Lossky adds that "the love of God will be an intolerable torment for those who have not acquired it within themselves."

This fire is also the same fire that will brilliantly shine in the redeemed. While the wicked experience God's love as suffering, the saints will experience His love as joy. St. Isaac the Syrian states that:

Those who find themselves in hell will be chastised by the scourge of love. How cruel and bitter this torment of love will be! For those who understand that they have sinned against love undergo no greater suffering than those produced by the most fearful tortures. The sorrow which takes hold of the heart which has sinned against love is more piercing than any other pain. It is not right to say that sinners in hell are deprived of the love of God.... But love acts in two ways, as suffering of the reproved, and as joy in the blessed! [Mystic Treatises].

C. Parousia is the Greek word for the Second Coming. Since the time of Christ's Ascension from earth to Heaven, the spiritual gaze of Christians has been directed to the greatest future event of world history: Christ's Second Coming to earth. Testimony concerning it is given many times by Christ Himself, by the angels at the Ascension, and also by the Apostles.

At the beginning of the Second Coming, there "shall appear the sign of the Son of Man in Heaven; and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn" (Mt 24:30). According to the universal interpretation of the Holy Fathers, this sign will be the life-giving Cross of the Lord.

Christ states that the Second Coming will be sudden and obvious to everyone: "For as the lightning cometh out of the East and shineth even unto the West, so shall the coming of the Son of Man be" (Mt 24:27). Again, it will appear "as a thief in the night" (1 Thes 5:21); "Therefore you must be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect" (Mt 24:44).

At that future time, Christ will come in all His glory, surrounded by innumerable choirs of angels: "And they shall see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory" (Mt 24:30), "with holy angels" (Mk 8:38). "He shall sit on the throne of His glory" (Mt 25:31). Thus, Christ's Second Coming will be different from the first when He "humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the Cross" (Phil 2:8).

Also, the purpose of Christ's Second Coming into the world is distinguished from the purpose of His first coming, when He came "not to judge the world, but that the world might be saved" (Jn 3:17), and when He came "to give His life [as] a ransom for many" (Mt 20: 28). In His Second Coming, Christ will come to "judge the world in righteousness" (Acts 17:31) and to "reward every man according to his works" (Mt 16:27).

Early Christians, as well as the Holy Fathers throughout the ages, have felt that the end of things was at hand, that Christ's Second Coming was imminent. Two millennia have since passed, however, and it has not yet occurred. Were the early Christians and Fathers mistaken in thinking the end was about to come? Not at all. Hieromonk Seraphim Rose explains that:

First of all, Christ comes to each person; each person must live in this world once and die. Therefore, for each one of us, the coming of Christ is very soon. This is very true.

Secondly, anyone who lives by faith and looks at things mystically — that is, tries to look behind the eternal events of history — sees that indeed those things are already happening which are to come to pass. In fact, St. John himself says in one of his epistles, "You have heard that the antichrist is to come; even now there are many antichrists." Even in his days, the end of the first century, already many antichrists had come; that is, many people who were in the spirit of the antichrist had come, and there would be many more. The antichrist is both outside and inside the Church. Certainly the Communists are a kind of antichrist; and people who try to corrupt the Church from within also perform the role of the antichrist. We can look throughout history and see many who were very much in the spirit of the antichrist, but they were not yet the antichrist who is to come at the very end. That spirit of antichrist was present at the very beginning of the history of the Church, because the devil instantly began his warfare against it.

Therefore, since the Book of the Apocalypse is about the whole warfare of the Church of Christ against the devil, all these things which are going to happen at the end, begin to happen right at the beginning of the history of the Church.

In conclusion, we must view "shortly" as referring first of all to our own death, because eschatology — the study of the last things — refers to not only the end of the world, but also to the end of our life, for when each one of us dies, he goes into that other world and there awaits the end of this world. And secondly, it refers to the fact that it indeed is a short time as history is measured, and in the sight of God. We can go back five, six, seven thousand years in history. Two thousand years is a small part of that.

The textbook sums up its explanation of the Second Coming by noting that it is not only a future event, but is something that is already breaking into the present age in the life of the Church. As Christians, we enjoy the first fruits of God's Kingdom while the Age to Come is presently being inaugurated. The New Testament ends with the words, Even so, come, Lord Jesus. The Lord Jesus has come already — in the Holy Liturgy and in the Church's worship.

29. What do you feel is the most important point in this chapter?

This chapter is about the Church of God. As such, its most important point concerns the purpose of the Church. Protopresbyter Michael Pomazansky gives this purpose in his explanation that:

The Church is our spiritual Home. As with one's own home — and even more than that — a Christian's thoughts and actions are closely bound up with the Church. In it he must, as long as he lives on earth, work out his salvation, and make use of the grace-given means of sanctification given him by it. It prepares its children for the heavenly homeland [Op. cit., p. 225].

11. Orthodox Worship.

1. The textbook cites the story of Grand Prince Vladimir's emissaries and afterwards makes a commentary on various elements of this story. Summarize this commentary, giving a brief picture of Orthodox worship.

Prior to Russia's conversion to Christianity in 988, Grand Prince Vladimir of Kiev (ruled 980-1015) was approached by various nationalities: the Turkic Bulgarians who were Moslems, the Khazars who professed Judaism, the Franks and Scandinavians who adhered to Latin Christianity, and the Byzantines who belonged to Eastern Orthodoxy. Each of these groups urged the prince to accept its particular faith. Realizing the need to choose a religion for his state, Vladimir summoned the boyars and elders about the matter, and it was decided to send ten wise men to various countries in order to find the true religion. In the year 987, emissaries were sent to the Moslem Bulgars of the Volga (not to be confused with the Slavic Bulgarians of the Balkans), then to Germany and Rome to view Roman Christianity, and finally to Constantinople where they attended Divine Liturgy in the great Church of the Holy Wisdom and observed Orthodox Christianity. These men reported back to Vladimir and his vassals that:

When we journeyed among the Bulgarians, we beheld how they worship in their temple, called a mosque, while they stood upright. The Bulgarian bows, sits down, looks hither and thither like one possessed, and there is no happiness among them, but instead only sorrow and a dreadful stench. Their religion is not good. Then we went among the Germans and saw them performing many ceremonies in their temples; but we beheld no glory there. Then we went on to Greece, and the Greeks led us to the edifices where they worship their God, and we knew not whether we were in Heaven or on earth. For on earth there is no such splendor or such beauty, and we are at a loss how to describe it. We know only that God dwells there among men, and their service is fairer than the ceremonies of other nations. For we cannot forget that beauty.

The envoys were so impressed that they wanted to move to Constantinople so they could continually enjoy the beauty they had seen. Within a year of the report they gave, Vladimir and the Russian people were baptized into Christ by Orthodox missionaries, for the prince believed that Orthodox Christianity was best suited to the temperament of the Russians and that it was indeed the true faith.

This incident shows a number of features that characterize Orthodox Christianity. The first is the emphasis on divine beauty of worship. Among outside observers — Vladimir's emissaries among them — it is seen that a distinctive and peculiar gift of Orthodox Christianity is the power of perceiving the beauty in the spiritual world and expressing that beauty in its worship. Western European merchants, for example, when traveling through the Balkans during its long years under Turkish suzerainty, would invariably comment on the ineffable otherworldly beauty and majesty of the services at the Serbian monasteries. These qualities of unsurpassed beauty and glory in worship can be seen in all Orthodox services. Even to this day, when non-Orthodox people enter into Orthodox churches and follow the Divine Liturgy, they marvel and are moved to tears, for Orthodox Christianity is the most beautiful religion in the world. As St. Vladimir's emissaries reported: "We cannot forget that beauty."

In the second place, it is characteristic that the emissaries should have stated: "We knew not whether we were in Heaven or on earth." Orthodox worship is nothing else than Heaven on earth, and the sense of God's presence among men is felt by many who have experienced Orthodox worship in much more humble surroundings than the Church of the Holy Wisdom in Constantinople. A telling example is that of a letter written in 1935 by an Englishwoman, wherein she states:

The morning was so queer. A very grimy and sordid Presbyterian mission hall in a mews over a garage, where the Russians are allowed once a fortnight to have the Liturgy. A very stage property iconostasis and a few modern icons. A dirty floor to kneel on and a form along the wall.... And in this two superb old priests and a deacon, clouds of incense and, at the Anaphora, an overwhelming supernatural impression [Evenly Underhill, as quoted from Timothy Ware, The Orthodox Church, p. 271].

Likewise, in 1675 Johannes Herbinius wrote that:

The Russians glorify the Lord in much more solemn manner than do the Romans. The parishioners sing together beautifully as they respond to the choir. The harmonies in their singing are beautiful.... I was so taken by their singing that I thought I stood in Jerusalem, where the spirit of the early Church was such an inspirational factor [Quoted in Olga Dolskaya, "Russian Liturgical Choral Aesthetics...," Orthodox Life, vol. 49. no. 6, 1999, p. 16].

In the Holy Liturgy, the textbook notes, is something that embraces two worlds at once, for both in Heaven and on earth the Liturgy is one and the same: one altar, one sacrifice, one presence. In every place of worship, no matter how humble the building, as the faithful gather to perform the Eucharist, they are taken up to heavenly places. And in every church when the Holy Sacrifice is offered, not only is the local congregation present, but the Church Universal — Christ Himself, the Theotokos, the angels and saints. In the words of the Hymn of the Mystical Sacrifice sung at the Liturgy of the Presanctified: "Now the powers of Heaven do serve invisibly with us.... Lo the King of Glory enters." St. Vladimir's envoys stated that they knew only that God dwells there among men, and inspired by the same vision of Heaven on earth, Orthodox Christians endeavor to make the Church's worship in its outward splendor and beauty an icon of the Great Liturgy in Heaven.

A third characteristic feature that the incident shows of Orthodox Christianity is that when the Russians wanted to discover the true faith, they did not make inquiries into moral rules or demand a reasoned statement of doctrine. Instead, they watched the nations in prayer. The textbook explains that the Orthodox approach to religion is fundamentally a liturgical approach, one that understands doctrine in the context of divine worship. It is no coincidence that the word Orthodox should signify both right belief and right glory (or right worship), for the two are inseparable. Orthodoxy is nothing less than the Church of Christ on earth, the Church which guards and teaches true belief about God, and which glorifies Him with right worship. It has correctly been observed that:

Dogma with [the Orthodox] is not only an intellectual system apprehended by the clergy and expounded to the laity, but a field of vision wherein all things on earth are seen in their relation to things in Heaven, first and foremost through liturgical celebration [G. Every, The Byzantine Patriarchate, p. 9].

Those qualities that were so readily apparent to Vladimir's emissaries at the Holy Liturgy in Constantinople — its divine beauty in worship, its heavenliness, the feeling of the presence of God, its liturgical approach — all are characteristic of Eastern Orthodox Christianity. In an Orthodox Liturgy, "the faithful can feel that the walls of the church open out upon eternity," the textbook states, "and they are helped to realize that their Liturgy is one and the same with the Liturgy in Heaven."

One element of the story of Vladimir's choosing Orthodox Christianity for Kievan Rus' is of all possible significance (although it is not mentioned in the textbook). The Russians had the possibility of choosing any of the existing religions, including any of the various paths within Christianity. Although the Great Schism of 1054 had not yet taken place (it would occur sixty-six years ahead), the Roman Church had actually fallen away from ancient Apostolic Christianity, preserved in Orthodoxy, long before 1054. As historians note, history is basically an unbroken continuum in which any clear-cut break or division is impossible or delusive. In accordance with this principle, the estrangement of the Latin Church from Orthodoxy did not take place by proclamation in 1054, tout court. Instead, the schism came about gradually, as the result of a long and complicated process that began in the ninth century, one that separated the pope and his followers from the traditions of the early Church. The 1054 date is used simply for convenience to mark the time when Rome's severance from Orthodoxy was finalized, although the date is actually insignificant. Thus, the Russians deliberately rejected Latin Christianity.

The same rejection is seen again when St. Alexander Nevsky was forced to fight the Swedes in 1240 and the Teutonic Knights in 1242 to prevent the forcible conversion of Russians to Roman Catholicism. After his two decisive victories over the Roman Catholics, he refused any religious compromise with the Latin Church. "Our doctrines are those preached by the Apostles," he stated to the messengers of the pope. "The tradition of the Holy Fathers and the Seven Ecumenical Councils we scrupulously keep. As for your words, we do not listen to them and we do not want your doctrine."

Another important feature of Russia's conversion (again not mentioned by the textbook, but explained by a Russian hermit) is that St. Vladimir baptized his Kievan princedom and gave all of Russia the Orthodox Christian faith at the very time when Byzantium had reached its highest point in all phases of spiritual culture. By that time all the basic heresies had been identified and uprooted by the Seven Ecumenical Councils, and monasticism was in full bloom. Russia was therefore entrusted from the very start with the fullness of the pure and true faith, Holy Orthodoxy. Russia treasured this holy faith throughout the ages as the supreme heritage in its hierarchy of values, thus becoming, in the activities of its best sons and daughters, Holy Russia, the guardian of Holy Orthodoxy. Such Russia remained when it was raised upon the cross in 1917, and such Russia has continued to remain to this very day.

2. Write our Protopresbyter Georges Florovsky's words quoted on page 271, and give your interpretation of these words.

Christianity is a liturgical religion. The Church is first of all a worshiping community. Worship comes first, doctrine and discipline second [Protopresbyter Georges Florovsky].

Important as doctrine and discipline are in the life of the Church, there is something more important: worship, and that worship is above all else communal and liturgical in character. In attending the Divine Liturgy, which is the central mystical action of the entire Church, Christians gather in the unity of one heart, one mind, and one soul to pray as a community, to unite themselves and their concerns with the prayer of the Church and with the eternal prayer of Christ, the Theotokos, the saints, and the individual members of that particular Christian community.

Philip said to Nathanael: "Come and see" (Jn 1:46). Likewise, those wishing to know about Orthodoxy should follow the example of Vladimir's entourage by coming to see the Liturgy, for it is a much more direct way of understanding the faith than by reading books.

3. In another statement, the textbook observes why "liturgical changes cannot be lightly regarded." What phrase does it use to demonstrate this fundamental principle?

Worship is the faith in action, the textbook states. It is for this reason that liturgical changes cannot be lightly regarded.

Typical of the Orthodox viewpoint in this matter are the words of a Russian writer of the fifteenth century. When attacking the reunion council of Florence, he did not address the matter of the Latins' errors in doctrine (although this matter is most assuredly important!), but he addressed their behavior in worship. He wrote:

What have you seen of worth among the Latins? They do not even know how to venerate the Church of God. They raise their voices as the fools, and their singing is a discordant wail. They have no idea of beauty and reverence in worship, for they strike trombones, blow horns, use organs, wave their hands, trample with the feet, and do many other irreverent and disorderly things which bring joy to the devil [As quoted from Timothy Ware, The Orthodox Church, p. 272].

The author of the textbook states that he cites this passage as an example of the liturgical approach of Orthodoxy, and he goes on to state that he does not necessarily endorse the strictures on Western worship which it contains. Archpriest Alexey Young, however, a convert from Roman Catholicism to Orthodoxy, is not the least bit equivocal in endorsing the criticism.

Western Christianity, Fr. Alexey observes, started becoming so imbued with the humanistic principles of the Renaissance that man has been made the measure of all things in the West, with God added as an afterthought, if added at all. This process has continued in the West through the ages, especially in the massive de-Christianization of the Latin Church's worship that was introduced by the Second Ecumenical Council. At that time, the ancient Mass of the Roman rite, much of which dates to the sixth century, was destroyed. Then, in its place, new forms of "worship" were introduced, with Catholic priests in psychedelic vestments serving in sanctuaries surrounded by kindergarten-looking felt banners. The new worship was irreverent, uninspiring and banal, and it was the cause of millions of Catholics to stop attending church. The damage went much further, though, for God's name was dropped in numerous places in the "new Mass" and replaced with... "the people." A horrified Catholic priest, Fr. James Wathen, laments:

Of its very nature, the "new Mass" liberates the "children of God" that they might make a game out of worship.... Intrinsic to the very idea of the "new Mass" is that the people are more important than Christ the Saviour.... Is it not they who must be entertained, accommodated, and emoted over? In the incessantly repeated phrase the people of God, it is the people who, in Marxist fashion, are being acclaimed — not God. They have been given the place of God [Quoted in Archpriest Alexey Young, The Rush to Embrace; emphasis added].

Concerning the extremes to which Roman Catholic worship services have turned — grotesque "carnival masses," "circus masses," "clown masses," "jazz masses," and the use of drums, guitars and other instruments of secular music, one hardly needs to comment. A similar secularization has also taken place in Protestant worship. Frank Schaeffer, a convert from Protestantism, takes an analytical look at the debased spectacles now encountered in the Protestant Churches. Having embraced Orthodoxy, Mr. Schaeffer now understands that:

Most Protestants have no historical liturgical prayers. They may have fragments — echoes of the historical Christian past — but these are mere disconnected remembrances. They are flotsam and jetsam of the historical faith, washed upon the modern shore. Many Protestants may well be deeply spiritual, but nevertheless they have been denied the tools of the faith that the historical [Orthodox] Church has at its disposal.

A study of Church history shows Protestant worship, as it is usually practiced today, bears almost no resemblance to the sacramental liturgical worship of the entire Church for the better part of two thousand years in both East and West. This is not a theological opinion, much less a moral judgment, but simply a statement of historical fact. The Church's practices are well documented.

So entertainment-oriented, even trivial, has the majority of Protestant worship become that even the fear of God, according to the teaching of the Church, the most basic prerequisite for individual repentance, seems to have been largely lost. The mystery of faith has been replaced with rationalistic theology on the one hand, and frivolous, internalized, "touchy-feely" entertainments on the other.

The Fathers of the Church warned of the consequences of desacralization long ago. Today these warnings seem to fall largely on unhearing ears. St. Evagrios the Solitary, one of the desert Fathers of the fourth century, writes:

For prayer is truly vain and useless when not performed with fear and trembling, with inner watchfulness and vigilance. When someone approaches an earthly king, he treats him with fear and trembling and attention; so much the more, then, should he stand and pray in this manner before God the; Father, the Master of all, and before Christ the King of kings [The Philokalia,, vol. 1, p. 37].

In comparison to the ancient liturgical worship of the historical Church, even the so-called liturgical Protestant denominations, like the Lutherans and Episcopalians (and tragically, many Americanized Roman Catholic parishes), have left behind their respect for Apostolic authority. Outside the more liturgically inclined Protestant denominations, in the place of the ancient Liturgies of the Church, we have seen a host of self-invented, irreverent, subjective spectacles ranging from comedy, to one-man shows, mass hysteria, political correctness, egocentric preaching, flippancy, to cultic intensity and warmed-over popular culture. These religious spectacles are led by a myriad of self-appointed personalities whose authority to teach, baptize or serve the sacraments, seems to rest not on Apostolic Succession, Holy Tradition, or even doctrine, but on their personal popularity or celebrity status [Dancing Alone: the Quest for the Orthodox Faith in the Age of False Religion, pp. 7-9].

In his monograph "Protestant Fundamentalistic Thought," Fr. James Thornton, an Orthodox priest and a nationally-known political columnist and author, depicts the horrid state of affairs to which the desacralization of Western worship has led. His picture is one with which we are all too familiar:

In our own time the whole world has been scandalized by the activities of certain prominent fundamentalists, and their extravagances, their limousines and mansions, their private jets, their air-conditioned dog houses, their garish style of dress and outlandish and grotesque hairstyles, their crudities and vulgarities, their tawdry use of Holy Scripture, their clownish antics and near-blasphemous inanities, their lurid sexual escapades, their crass "P.T. Barnum" commercialism, and their cynical use of the simple people who follow them. Men who claim to be ordained ministers of the Gospel of Christ tell their gulled listeners that they must raise so many millions of dollars, or else God will strike them dead.... The use of shills, pitchmen, phony sick people who come forward to be "healed," hidden microphones, satanic rock music, scantily-clad females, and every manner of commercial humbug known to Hollywood, is all now stock-in-trade for these people [pp. 20-21].

Archpriest Alexey Young comments that the old axiom lex orandi, lex credendi (as we worship, so we believe), certainly holds true.

4. Carefully read pages 272-80 of the textbook, and then submit an essay.

The remainder of this chapter deals with the church building and its arrangement, and also with liturgical theology, that is, with Orthodoxy's solemn and beautiful worship, the earthly Heaven, which was handed down from the time of the Apostles and early Christians. All the aspects of worship that the textbook describes would have been familiar to the Christians of the early Church, just as these aspects are familiar to Orthodox Christians today, for the Orthodox Church today is the very continuation of the ancient Church established by Christ two thousand years ago.

The textbook states that in Orthodoxy, man is seen above all else as "a liturgical creature who is most truly himself when he glorifies God, and who finds his perfection and self-fulfillment in worship." Beyond this juncture, the textbook's account of the services pales in comparison to that of Archbishop Seraphim Slobodskoy. The following information is therefore drawn from the much more thorough examination of the services given in Fr. Seraphim's monumental book The Law of God.

Fr. Seraphim mentions that those services which the Orthodox Church celebrates in the course of one day are known as the daily cycle of divine services. There are nine daily services: Vespers, Compline, Midnight Office, Matins, First Hour, Third Hour, Sixth Hour and Ninth Hour, and the Divine Liturgy.

Fr. Seraphim explains that the new day in the Orthodox Church begins with Vespers, which is celebrated towards the end of the day. Orthodoxy follows the example of Moses in this matter, for Moses, when describing the creation of the world by God, began the "day" with evening. In this service, Christians express their gratitude to God for the day that has passed.

Compline is the service composed of the reading of a series of prayers. In these prayers, worshipers ask the Lord God for forgiveness of sins and that He grant them, upon retiring, repose of body and soul, and that He preserve them from the wiles of the devil during their sleep.

The Midnight Office is appointed to be read at midnight in remembrance of the prayer of the Saviour during the night in the Garden of Gethsemane. The service summons the faithful to be ready at all times for the Dread Judgment, which will come unexpectedly like "a bridegroom in the night," as the parable of the ten virgins shows.

Continuing his explanation, Fr. Seraphim states that Matins is celebrated in the morning prior to the rising of the sun. In this service, thanks is given to God for the night which has passed, and mercy is asked of Him for the approaching day.

The First Hour corresponds to the first three hours of our day (6:00 am to 9:00 am). In the Old and New Testaments, an hour meant a watch that lasted three of our hours, and each service of the daily cycle corresponds to one of these three-hour divisions. Fr. Seraphim explains that this First Hour sanctifies the already breaking day with prayer. The Third Hour covers the time from 9:00 am to 12:00 noon, and it recalls the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles. The Sixth Hour represents the period from 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm. It reminds Christians of Christ's Passion and Crucifixion, while the Ninth Hour, covering the hours from 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm, reminds us of Christ's death upon the Cross.

The Holy Liturgy is Eastern Orthodoxy's main and most important divine service because in it is accomplished the great Mystery of the Eucharist, which was instituted by the Saviour Himself in the Mystical Supper. During the course of the celebration of the Liturgy, the entire earthly life of Christ, from His Nativity to His Ascension, is called to mind. The Liturgy is always celebrated on the Lord's Day and on feast days. Daily celebrations are less common, although they do occur in monasteries and cathedrals. (More will be said of the Liturgy below).

In former times, monastics and hermits conducted all of these services separately at their appointed times. Later, to accommodate those living in the world, they were combined into three groups of services: evening (Ninth Hour, Vespers and Compline), morning (Midnight Office, Matins and First Hour), and daytime services (Third and Sixth Hours, and the Holy Liturgy).

On the eve of major feasts and Sundays, the All-Night Vigil service is conducted, which combines Vespers, Matins and the First Hour. The All-Night Vigil received its name from the fact that among early Christians, and in some monasteries today, the service began at sunset and continued through the course of the entire night, until sunrise.

In addition to the daily cycle of divine services, there are weekly and annual cycles. Concerning the weekly or seven-day cycle, on Sunday, the Church remembers and glorifies the Resurrection of Christ. On Monday, the holy angels, the closest servants of God, are celebrated. The Church dedicates every Tuesday to the honor of St. John the Baptist, the greatest of the prophets and righteous one of the Old Testament, and his memory is also honored on the Church calendar several times during the year. On Wednesday, Christ's betrayal by Judas is remembered, for which reason Wednesday is a fast day, and services are centered around the Cross of the Lord. On Thursday, the Holy Apostles and St. Nicholas the Wonderworker are glorified. On Friday, the Church remembers the Saviour’s death on the Cross, for which reason Friday is also kept as a fast day, and services (as on Wednesday) honor the Cross of the Lord. On Saturday, the Mother of God is glorified (just as she is also glorified on every other day), along with the "forefathers, prophets, Apostles, martyrs, monastics, righteous and all the saints" who have attained salvation. Also remembered on Saturday are all the faithful departed who reposed in the true faith and in the hope of resurrection and eternal life.

The Church year begins on the first of September, according to the Julian (Old Style) calendar that was in use at the time of Christ, and it is dominated by twelve great feasts. These feasts do not include the radiant feast of the Resurrection of Christ, Pascha, which is placed outside them in a class by itself. Ever since the time of the early Church, Pascha has been the Feast of Feasts and has stood alone in its magnificence.

From the first century of Christianity, the custom was established of celebrating Pascha after the Jewish Passover, according to the stipulation of the Seventh Apostolic Canon. This practice was confirmed at the First Ecumenical Council, which decreed that the date of Pascha must fall after the vernal equinox, on the first Sunday after the equinoxal new moon, and always after the Jewish celebration of Passover. This reckoning is based on the sequence of events in the New Testament. The Jewish Passover took place on a Friday and a Saturday. On Friday, Nisan 14, Christ was crucified. On Saturday He was in the tomb, and early in the morning on the first day of the week, Nisan 16, He arose. Also, the New Testament Pascha is the replacement of the sacrifice of the lamb of the Old Testament by the redemptive sacrifice of Christ. As a result, the latter must never precede the sacrifice of the Jewish lamb. The Orthodox Church still adheres to all three of the requirements handed down by the First Ecumenical Council, whereas the Western Churches keep only the first two. In the Orthodox Church, Pascha occurs no earlier than March 22 on the Julian calendar (or April 4 on the new style or civil calendar), and no later than April 25 on the Julian calendar (May 8 on the civil calendar).

Pascha was also the principal feast on the Church calendar in the pre-schism West — that is, before 1054, although in its post-schism period, the West gradually came to replace it with the feast of the Lord's Nativity. Given the fact that this "feast" of Christmas in the West has become for the most part one of commerce and entertainment, it is blasphemous with regard to the sacred event of Christ's Nativity.

Of the twelve great feasts observed throughout the Church's calendar year, eight are devoted to Jesus Christ and four to the Theotókos. There are also other feasts that honor great saints and the angels. All of these feasts are divided into those which are immovable and movable. Immovable feasts occur every year on the same calendar date of the months, while movable feasts, which occur on the sane day of the week, nay fall on various dates of a month due to their relationship with the celebration of Pascha.

There are also occasional offices, or services intended for special events such as Baptism, Monastic Profession, Marriage, Burial of the Dead, Consecration of a Church, and Royal Coronation. Additionally, there are a number of lesser blessings used by the Church.

A Russian hermit explains that it was in the catacombs of the first three centuries of Christianity that Orthodoxy's Divine Liturgy and other services were worked out in an atmosphere of constant expectation of death. Orthodoxy's divine services are celebrated in a form little changed since that time.

The first Liturgy was composed under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit by the Holy Apostle James, the Brother of the Lord, when he was the first bishop of the Church of Jerusalem. (This Liturgy is still celebrated once a year on his feast day, and it lasts about five hours). Later, out of condescension toward the weakness of men, Saints Basil the Great and John Chrysostom shortened this service. Thus, there are three main Orthodox Liturgies: St. John Chrysostom’s (forth century), St. Basil's (third century), and that of St. James, the Brother of the Lord (first century).

The Orthodox Liturgy was never the exclusive domain of the clergy and learned, such as the Mass was in the medieval West — a drama, as it were, enacted by the priests for the people. The Liturgy was instead popular — that is, it was always the common possession of the whole Orthodox Christian people, and something which priests perform together with the laity. For this reason, among the Orthodox, one would never hear the expression so common in the West: to hear Mass. The idea of "hearing" a service came about in the medieval West, when services were performed in Latin, a language not understood by the people. Roman Catholics would attend church to adore the "host" at elevation, but they otherwise treated the church service as an occasion to recite private prayers and the rosary. This development did not take place in the East, however, for the Orthodox Liturgy never ceased to be the common act performed by the priest and people conjointly. Orthodox Christians come to church not to say private prayers (which should be done in private — cf. Mt 6:6), but to pray the public prayers of the Liturgy, and to become actual partakers of the rite of the Liturgy. As a Western observer of Orthodoxy notes in this regard:

The normal Orthodox lay worshiper, through familiarity from earliest childhood, is entirely at home in church, thoroughly conversant with the audible parts of the Holy Liturgy, and takes part with unconscious and unstudied ease in the action of the rite, to an extent only shared by the hyper-devout and ecclesiastically minded in the West [Austin Oakley, The Orthodox Liturgy, p. 12].

It should be noted that the author of the textbook occasionally uses the word Mass interchangeably with Liturgy when referring to the Orthodox Church's central worship service, something which is done on occasion by Western writers. The word Mass is derived from the dismissal rite of the Roman Catholic Mass: Ite, missa est (contio), meaning Go, (the meeting) is dismissed. Among Orthodox, one never hears this word used for the Liturgy.

Throughout Orthodoxy's darkest days, during the long domination by the Turks and the suppression at the hands of the Mongols, during the bloodbaths from the forced propagation of Uniatism by the Vatican, and during the attempted extermination of the Church by the Communists, Orthodox Christians have always turned to the Holy Liturgy for new hope and inspiration. It is not in vain that they have turned to it.

* * * * *

Orthodoxy is well aware of the importance of music. When Christ served His last Paschal service, He gave it new meaning, that of the first Christian Eucharist, after which He and the Apostles sang a hymn (Mt 26:30). Thus singing was established in the Christian Church, its liturgical use having been blessed through the example of the Creator Himself.

The Holy Fathers taught that music is the language closest to the soul, and that it is through music that the soul, upon departing this life, will first apprehend Heaven. There is great power in the beauty of music, in its ability to convey meaning in a way that simple speech cannot. The spiritual life of the Church is therefore very much bound up with its music as prayer.

Just as they have been since the days of the early Church, virtually all of Orthodoxy's services employ music. From the beginning to end, no sound is heard, other than a sermon, that is not some form of music. Church singing is usually done by the celebrant and a choir, although even when a priest and a single reader are without a choir and congregation, the services are still sung and never spoken. In some places, the congregation sings as well, at least the Lord's Prayer and Creed, if not the entire service.

When listening to music from the different Orthodox national traditions, one finds that no two sound anything alike (save in those cases in which they directly borrowed from each other), yet as in iconography, there is always a contrition-evoking sobriety and spiritual serenity which completely separates worshipers from the world. This quality is a distinguishing characteristic of Orthodox music, regardless of the nationality. Greek-speaking Orthodox employ the ancient Byzantine plain chant with its eight tones in their ecclesiastical music. The same plain-chant, introduced into the Slavic lands by Byzantine missionaries, underwent extensive modification among the Slavs throughout the centuries so that the Slavonic Churches each developed their own tradition and style of church music. Of these traditions, the Russian is particularly striking to Western ears, and many consider its music to be the finest in all Christendom.

Orthodoxy's services are sung a cappella, without musical instruments. Although the organ has been introduced in modernist Greek parishes beginning in 1926, this practice takes place in imitation of Western Christians and at the behest of the ecumenical movement, the latter of which is forming the one-world religion of the antichrist. Church canons forbid the use of musical instruments because they introduce something theatrical into the sacred realm, and because they are a distracting element that takes away from the meditative atmosphere created by traditional Orthodox chants and thus takes away from worship. Dr. Constantine Cavarnos explains that the use of the organ constitutes an innovation which the Holy Fathers explicitly prohibited and which is contrary to the ordinances of the first Christians. He also explains that:

Attentive study of the New Testament absolutely convinces us that the Apostolic Church did not use musical instruments. The Fathers, faithful guardians and unfailing interpreters of Tradition, explicitly excluded the use of musical instruments in the execution of ecclesiastical hymns, and also the accompaniment of hymnody with instruments, as incompatible with the sober, hieratic, spiritual character of the Christian religion, because they bring to mind the fallen world and the things of the world — parties, laughter, disorderly shouting, and the like.... It is worth noting that the instrument from which the organ originated was known to the Byzantines, but they used it in the Hippodrome and the palace, never in church [Orthodox Tradition and Modernism, p. 24].

Orthodox Christians feel a need to worship God with what He has given them — their mouths and voices. It is therefore seen as inappropriate to worship God with something man-made, something outside themselves, such as musical instruments.

Lastly, the addition of musical instruments causes worshipers to become preoccupied with the music itself. While music is important, it is of secondary importance to the words of the hymns and their meaning. Metropolitan Laurus of Jordanville addresses the matter of the great importance of the content of the Church's hymns. He states:

How many great dogmatic truths are unfolded for us with our verses and canons in lofty poetical images! Particularly the so-called Triadica (Trinitarian hymns), in a fresh and graphic way inform us about the great truth of the "Trinity in Unity" — the Three-in-One Divine Being. The Theotokia, among with the Dogmatic Theotokia especially, expound for us concerning the great mystery of the Incarnation of the Son of God from the unwedded and most pure Virgin Mary, concerning the perpetually confessed dogma of the Church regarding the ever-virginity of the unwedded Theotokos. For one who can read and investigate thoroughly, this is a full course of dogmatic theology revealing to us all the dogmatic teaching of the Church: about God, one in essence and three in Persons; about God as the Creator of the world and mankind; about the Provider and Saviour of man; about the Son of God as Redeemer; about the Holy Spirit as Sanctifier; about the Church as the storehouse of the grace of the Holy Spirit.... And finally, we have the last destiny of the world and man — the Second Coming of Christ, the Last Judgment, the eternal suffering of sinners and the eternal blessedness of the righteous.

What plentiful material our divine service books give us in the area of moral theology — the teaching concerning Christian morality! In this area we find inexhaustible examples from the lives of the God-pleasing saints. And above all, we find the teaching on prayer in the innumerable images of the most diversified prayers for all occasions of life, answering all the varied needs of the human being. We have a full picture of the war continually waged in man's soul between virtue and sin, the lofty examples of virtues, the censure of sin, the graphic examples of virtuous and depraved life gathered from Sacred Scripture, the history of the Church, and the lives of the saints. In this sphere, especially rich material is provided by the Lenten Triodion with its incomparable and exalted penitential Canon of St. Andrew of Crete, and also by the penitential and tender verses of the Octoechos ["The Significance of the Practical Study of Liturgics," Orthodox Life, vol. 45, no. 4, 1995, pp. 43-44].

Protopresbyter Michael Pomazansky expresses the same ideas in his remarks that:

The catholic consciousness of the Church, where it concerns the teaching of faith, is also expressed in the Orthodox divine services which have been handed down to us by the Ecumenical Church. By entering deeply into the content of the divine service books we make ourselves firmer in the dogmatic teaching of the Orthodox Church.

The content of the Orthodox divine services is the culminating expression of the teaching of the Holy Apostles and Fathers of the Church, both in the sphere of dogma and of morals. This is splendidly expressed in the hymn (or kontakion) which is sung on the day of the commemoration of the Holy Fathers of the Ecumenical Councils: "The preaching of the Apostles and the dogmas of the Fathers have imprinted upon the Church a single faith which, bearing the garment of truth woven of the theology from above, rightly dispenseth and glorifieth the great mystery of piety." [Orthodox Dogmatic Theology, pp. 38-39].

Orthodox Christianity accommodated itself to local cultures and allowed services in languages native to a region or country: Arabic in Damascus, Japanese in Tokyo, Finish in Helsinki, and native languages throughout Africa. Orthodox missionaries, from the time of Saints Cyril and Methodius in the ninth century, to Saints Nicholas Kassatkin and Innocent of Alaska in the nineteenth century, have always made it one of their first tasks to translate Orthodox service books into the local language. As Archimandrite Luke of Jordanville goes on to add in this regard:

Because the Church used the vernacular and not a universal and sometimes incomprehensible language (Latin), the people found it easier to identify with Church life as something close to their daily lives. The Church took part in and guided the intellectual life of the people. The people acquired literacy through the efforts of the Church in their own language ["Nationalism, Russia, and the Restoration of the Patriarchate," Orthodox Life, vol. 51, no. 6, p. 25].

Of course, there are partial exceptions to the use of native languages. The Slavonic Churches still employ the ninth-century translations in Old Church Slavonic, and the Greek-speaking Churches use the Greek of the New Testament and Byzantine periods. In either case, though, the similarity between the liturgical language and the spoken language allows the congregation to understand the service.

In speaking of liturgical languages, it is of interest to pause on Slavonic, known to modern scholars as Old Church Slavonic. This language is based on an Eastern Slavic language of which the modern Slavic languages are recensions, and it came to be the tongue of Slavic Christianity. It was created originally about the middle of the ninth century as a literary language by two missionary brothers from Thessalonica, Saints Cyril and Methodius, for the purpose of bringing Christianity to the Slavs in a language understandable to them. In the Middle Ages, this language became, after Greek and Latin, the third international language of Europe, and it developed in the course of subsequent centuries in different parts of the Slavic world. To this day, Orthodox Churches in Russia, the Ukraine, Byelorussia, Carpatho-Russia, Serbia, Bulgaria, Macedonia and Moldavia (Moldava) still employ the same Slavonic vernacular of the Balkan Slavs for their Liturgies, and this language is used extensively in new world parishes as well.

The ancient worship of the Christian Church has always involved standing as it was unthinkable to the Holy Fathers that one should sit in the presence of Christ. As it is considered impious, arrogant and improper to sit before God during divine services, a traditional Orthodox church has no pews, but only benches around the periphery of the church for the infirm and aged. A Greek hierarch points out that pews and sitting during services are a Protestant innovation, the natural consequence of services that do not entail a meeting of the heavenly with the earthly, but the recitation of a sermon accompanied by hymns. The hierarch also notes that the separation of worship from a sense of participation in the Mysteries of God, and its reduction to viewing and listening to a performance by a preacher and choir, are incompatible with an Orthodox understanding of worship. So is sitting during the services. Unfortunately, the introduction of pews in Orthodox worship, something newer than electricity, is a feature of modernistic Orthodox Churches in America and in some places in Europe. Obviously, though, pews violate the traditional architectural concepts and spiritual practices of the Orthodox Church. For this reason, in most places the Orthodox still maintain the ancient practice of standing throughout most of the services.

Orthodox clergy have greater freedom and informality than that seen outside Orthodoxy, for ceremonial movements are much more natural and less stylized than in the West, where liturgical gestures are prescribed with extreme detail. People feel at home in an Orthodox church. They are not made to feel as troops on parade, neatly arranged in rows of pews where they cannot move about freely, but they feel as children in their Father's house. While Orthodox worship has been called otherworldly, it could also be called home-like, for it is a family affair. The textbook for this course adds: "Yet behind this homeliness and informality there lies a deep sense of mystery." Anyone who has attended an Orthodox Liturgy would have to concur.

Orthodox worship has an unhurried and timeless quality about it, something which is brought about in part by the repetition of ectenias (litanies), which appear several times, either in longer or shorter form, in all the services. In these, the deacon (or the priest in his absence) mentions the various needs of the Church and the world, and the choir responds to each petition with Gospodi pomilui or Kyrie eleison (Lord, have mercy, in Old Slavonic and Greek respectively).

Some Westerners have the notion that an Orthodox service is of an intolerable length. Orthodox services do tend to be longer than their counterparts among Western Christians, and services among the Russians last longer than those among the Greeks. A Saturday night Vigil service at a typical Russian parish of the emigration would ordinarily last about two hours. Of course, services at monasteries are more extended, and the same Vigil service at the Holy Trinity Monastery of the Russian Church in Exile in upstate New York takes from three to four hours to celebrate, while a Sunday or feast day Liturgy may run about two-and-a-half to three hours. The services of Great Lent are considerably longer, however, and there have been services on great feast days on Mount Athos that have gone on for twelve to fifteen hours without a break.

One characteristic apparent to any Western observer is that the Orthodox make the sign of the Cross with much greater frequency than it is done in the West. In addition to those occasions when all the faithful cross themselves, there are times when different worshipers cross themselves, each doing it when he or she is moved to do so.

Archpriest D. Sokolof explains that in general appearance, most Orthodox churches are built in an oblong shape, in imitation of a ship, or as Archpriest Seraphim Slobodskoy adds, to call to mind the image of Noah's ark, which is compared to the Church. A ship under the direction of a good helmsman carries people through stormy seas into a peaceful harbor. In the same way, the Church, governed by Christ, carries Christians through the turbulent sea of life and saves them from drowning in the deep waters of sin, and it brings them into the Kingdom of Heaven, "where there is neither sorrow nor sighing." (In the writings of the Holy Fathers, one often finds the comparison of the Church in the world with a ship on the sea). Some churches are also designed in the form of a Cross to signify that they are sacred to Him Who was crucified for the human race, or else they are built more or less square in plan. Occasionally a church is built in a circle, which shows that the Church of Christ is eternal, without end, and it can even be built in the shape of an octagon, like a star, to suggest that the Church is like a guiding star which shines into the world. (As these latter two shapes are inconvenient for the inner arrangement of the church, they are not often used). Above the wide central space is a dome, which is an image of Heaven, and it is usually painted with a depiction of Christ the Pantocrator, the Ruler of the Universe. Archpriest D. Sokolov also explains that the entrance to an Orthodox church is almost always from the west, with the church itself facing east, in token that Christian worshipers enter from the darkness of impiety into the light of truth. (The east is a symbol of light, good and truth, the priest notes, whereas the West is a symbol of darkness, evil and error). Orthodox churches do not have the elongated naves and chancels of Gothic-style cathedrals and churches, nor are they built in the gymnasium-style architecture or barn-like concrete temples of modernism and emptiness that have come to dominate Western church architecture in recent decades.

In Russia, the domes of the churches came to assume a characteristic onion shape. One dome stands for the Head of the Church, Jesus Christ, while two domes symbolize His two nature: divine and human. Three domes stand for the three Hypostases of the Godhead, while five represent Christ and the four Evangelists. When seven domes are present, they represent the Seven Ecumenical Councils, while nine stand for the nine ranks of angels. Thirteen domes call to mind Christ and the twelve Apostles, and on some churches there are even more domes.

Atop each dome is the Cross. In Russia, a three-bar Cross is generally used. The top bar bears the sign Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews. The lower bar, or footboard (supendaneum in Latin), was used by the Roman executioners in Christ's time in order to prolong the suffering and agony of the victim. Without this bar, the weight of the hanging body would prevent the diaphragm from working, and death from asphyxiation would result in a matter of minutes. Sacred Tradition teaches that when the Apostle Andrew preached in southern Russia, he placed a life-size three-bar Cross at his side. While explaining the Last Judgment, he tilted the footplate to signify that those on the left side of Christ will go down to hell, while those on His right side will go to Heaven. It is for this reason that the lower bar of the Russian Cross sits at an angle.

Archpriest Seraphim Slobodskoy writes in The Law of God that in the Old Testament, the Lord Himself gave directions through the Prophet Moses as to how the temple should be set up for divine worship. New Testament churches were constructed on the basis of the Old Testament temple, which was separated into three portions: the holy of holies, the sanctuary, and the courts. These correspond to the three sections of an Orthodox church: the altar (or sanctuary), the nave (the middle portion), and the narthex (vestibule). Fr. Seraphim explains that:

As the holy of holies signified then, so now the altar represents the Kingdom of Heaven. No one could enter the holy of holies except for the high priest once a year, and only with the blood of a purification sacrifice. The Kingdom of Heaven, after the fall of man into sin, was closed to us. The high priest was a prototype of Christ, and his action told the people that a time would come when Christ, through the shedding of His blood and suffering on the Cross and Resurrection, would open the Kingdom of Heaven to all. Therefore, when Christ died on the Cross, the veil of the temple which closed off the holy of holies was torn in two, and from this moment Christ opened the gates of the Kingdom of Heaven to all those who with faith would come to Him [pp. 526-27].

Fr. Seraphim explains that in Old Testament times, no one but the priest had a right to enter the sanctuary (which, as noted, corresponds to the nave in an Orthodox church ). In New Testament times, however, all believing Christians are allowed to stand within Orthodox churches because the Kingdom of God is closed to none.

While the courts in the Old Testament temple have their New Testament counterparts in the narthex, this latter division no longer has any essential significance. In early times, however, it was the place where catechumens stood — those who were preparing for the Mystery of Baptism.

The word altar signifies an elevated place of sacrifice. In an Orthodox church, the altar (or sanctuary), which is generally built higher than the other portions of the church, is the holiest place in the church, and it faces east. It is here that the altar table (or holy table, or throne, as it is variously called), is located. Upon this altar table, the bishop or priest celebrates the Mystery of the Holy Eucharist. Except for special reasons (such as serving at the Liturgy), laymen are not allowed to go behind the iconostasis into the sanctuary.

Archpriest Alexey Young observes that Orthodox priests maintain the Church's ancient practice of facing away from the congregation and toward God. He goes on to note that in spite of many novel and innovative changes introduced by Rome since the Great Schism, some basic doctrines and practices common to the pre-schism Universal Church were preserved in the West, as well as a number of outward forms, until the early 1960s. At that time, when the Second Vatican Council made radical, de-Christianizing changes, the Latin Church's "new Mass" began to focus obsessively on the "people of God" rather than on God Himself. In the "new Mass," Catholic priests turn their backs on God and face the congregation so as to have a "dialogue." The reformers of the Second Vatican Council justified this innovation by claiming they were restoring the ancient practice of the early Church. However, the early Church never had such a practice. In fact, the practice originates with Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation.

The altar table, usually cube-shaped, is in the center of the sanctuary and stands free from the eastern wall. Upon it are two sets of vestments: a lower one, which is of white linen, and an upper one, which is of a more expensive material, usually brocade. It is upon this table that the King and Master of the Church, Jesus Christ, is mysteriously and invisibly present in the Holy Eucharist. Only ordained clergy may touch the altar table or venerate it. Upon it are the Gospel, the Cross, the tabernacle (or ark in which the Holy Gifts are kept for the communing of the ill), the Communion set, and the antimins.

This last article, the antimins (or antimension), is a silk cloth upon which Jesus Christ is depicted being placed in a tomb. A fragment from the relics of a saint (bone) is sewn into the reverse side, a practice that dates to the first centuries of Christianity, when the Divine Liturgy was always celebrated upon the graves of the martyrs. The word antimins means instead of an altar table, and one is not allowed to celebrate the Liturgy without an antimins consecrated by a bishop. In order to protect it, the antimins is folded into another silk cloth called the iliton.

Behind the altar table are the altar Cross and a seven-branched candelabrum, the altar fans, and the dikiri and the trikiri. The dikiri holds two candles that represent the two natures of Christ, while the trikiri holds three candles that represent the three Persons of the Godhead. The bishop uses the dikiri and trikiri to bless the faithful. The altar fans, metal circles upon which the Seraphim are depicted, sit atop long wooden handles. In the early Church, these fans were made of ostrich feathers or leather and were used to keep insects away from the Holy Gifts. Today they are held by the deacons over the Gospel book in procession, and also over the Holy Gifts during consecration. When the deacons wave these fans, it represents the presence of the heavenly hosts at the Liturgy. Behind these articles, against the eastern wall of the church, is the bishop's cathedra, or throne.

The northern part of the sanctuary is the area of the Prothesis (or Preparation), and in it is the table of oblation. At the beginning of the Liturgy, the priest uses this table to prepare the bread and wine that are to be used in the Eucharist. The table is also used to store various sacred vessels, including the chalice.

Separating the sanctuary from the nave is the iconostasis, a solid wooden or marble screen supporting panel icons. One sometimes hears that an icon screen was not a feature of early Christian buildings. However, Eastern Christian worship was modeled on Jewish temple worship at the time of Christ, and it is likely that the iconostasis had its origin in the wall separating the congregation from the holy of holies in small rural temples.

Leading into the iconostasis are three doors, the largest of which are the royal gates, so called because through them passes Jesus Christ, Who comes invisibly in the Holy Gifts. No one other than clergy is allowed to pass through these gates, and a curtain behind them is drawn and withdrawn during the course of the services. The door to the left side of the iconostasis, the northern door, leads to the area of the Prothesis, while the door on the right side, the southern door, leads to the Diakonikon, where traditionally the relics of saints and sacred books were kept, particularly the books of the Gospels. Today this area serves as a vestry.

The arrangement of icons inside a church is far from accidental, but is done according to a definite theological system so that a church building makes up one great icon of the Kingdom of God. The numerous icons assist the faithful in that they function as a meeting point between Heaven and earth. As each local congregation of Christians prays and worships, it is surrounded by images of Christ, the angels and the saints, and these remind Christians that Christ and all the hosts of Heaven are invisibly and unceasingly present at the Liturgy.

Usually the Annunciation and the four Evangelists are on the royal gates. Above them is an icon of the Mystical Supper since the faithful stand before them when partaking of Holy Communion. To the right of the royal gates, there is always an icon of the Saviour, and traditionally men stand on this side of the church. To the left of the same gates is an icon of the Mother of God, and traditionally this is the side of the church where women stand.

The ancient tradition of separating men and women in public worship helps lessen distraction in prayer and serves as a hedge against temptation. The practice is almost certainly of Apostolic origin, and it derives from the separation of men and women in the Jewish temple. It is not widely known today that the practice was a universal Christian custom until the Protestant Reformation, and even afterwards it survived among some Protestant groups until the nineteenth century. The practice survives to this day among the Orthodox Jews, Muslims, and Orthodox Christians in traditionally Orthodox countries, although in other places, revolutionary ways prevailed, and the practice is not always observed today.

The southern door, which is to the right of the icon of the Saviour, and the northern door to the left of the icon of the Theotokos, generally have the Archangels Michael and Gabriel depicted on them. Occasionally, however, icons of the first deacons, Saints Philip and Stephen, are on them, or else the high priest Aaron and the Prophet Moses. Since the deacons frequently pass through these doors, they are sometimes called the deacon's doors.

On the far ends of the deacon's doors are icons of especially revered saints. The first icon to the right is almost always the icon of the saint or feast to whom the church building is dedicated. If the iconostasis is built with more than three rows of icons, the second row usually has icons of the twelve great feasts, while the third row has the Apostles, and the forth row the prophets. On top of the iconostasis is the Cross, upon which the crucified Lord is depicted.

In addition to the icons on the iconostasis, icons are also on the walls and in shrines, and on stands where they can be venerated. On entering the church proper, having crossed oneself when approaching the building, one normally reverences the central icon in the narthex with three bows (bending and touching the floor with the right hand), or with three prostrations (falling to the knees and bending the head almost to the ground). One makes the bows or prostrations twice before kissing the icon and lighting a candle near it, after which one makes another bow or prostration.

** ** **

Here ends the correspondence course on the Eastern Orthodox Christian Church, which is the depository of Apostolic Christian Truth. As this course makes abundantly clear, this ancient Church has an uncompromising adherence to the original, unadulterated Christian faith and holds an unbroken, unchanged transmission of Christ's teaching since Apostolic times. Of this priceless treasure, Holy Orthodoxy, the great miracle-worker St. John of Kronstadt writes:

In the Church are all our sweetest hopes and expectations, our peace, our joy, together with cleansing and sanctification. It is there that the truth of the future resurrection, of the victory over death, is so often announced. Who that loves life would not love the Church with all his heart! Everything that is best, most exalted, most precious, holy and wise is found in the Church. In the Church is the ideal of mankind; the Church is Heaven upon earth [My Life in Christ].

Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos goes on to state:

The greatest gift of grace which we have is that we belong to the Church. The greatest gift is that we are in this great Family. We should value this gift, and we should feel very deeply moved and struggle to remain in the Church, experiencing its sanctifying grace and showing by our lives that we are in its place of redemption and sanctification. Thus we shall also have the greatest gift of the "blessed ending," when we are granted to lie asleep "in the midst of the Church" [The Mind of the Orthodox Church, p. 37].


Although it is not for us to know the times or the seasons, end-times prophecies abound, and their astonishing messages clearly show that we are at the very threshold of the end of the ages. The Apostle Paul, for example, writes that in the last days, people shall become:

…lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, truce-breakers, false accusers, without self-control, fierce, despisers of those who are good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying the power thereof (2 Tim 3:2-5).

The Greek Elder Philotheos Zervakos (+1980) additionally states that:

Concerning the end of the age, [Christ] did not set the date precisely; He said only: "When you see wars, earthquakes, floods, disbelief, impiety, lawlessness, lack of love, false prophets, false messiahs and deceivers, then consider that the end is approaching." In an ancient book it was written that when the disciples asked the Teacher when these things would happen and He told them the above, He also told them that when men became women and the women men, then the end would take place. And [St. John] Chrysostom said that the Lord also said this, that the Second Coming will take place when women are lacking in modesty [Paternal Counsels, vol. 1, p. 59].

One of the most striking prophecies for our times is that given by a hermit of Mount Athos, St. Nilus the Myrrhstreaming (+1651). In it, the saint speaks in part of the tremendous technological advances hundreds of years before they were discovered. He also gives the following disheartening picture, one modern people can readily recognize because of its incredible accuracy:

... Toward the middle of the twentieth century, the people of that time will become unrecognizable. When the time for the advent of the antichrist approaches, people's minds will grow cloudy from carnal passions, and dishonor and lawlessness will grow stronger. Then the world will become unrecognizable. People's appearances will change, and it will be impossible to distinguish men from women due to their shamelessness in dress and style of hair. These people will be cruel and will be like wild animals because of the temptations of the antichrist. There will be no respect for parents and elders, love will disappear, and Christian pastors, bishops and priests will become vain men, completely failing to distinguish the right-hand way from the left. At that time the morals and traditions of Christians and of the Church will change. Falsehood and greed will attain great proportions, and woe to those who pile up treasures. Lust, adultery, homosexuality, secret deeds and murder will rule in society.

At that future time, due to the power of such great crimes and licentiousness, people will be deprived of the grace of the Holy Spirit which they received in Holy Baptism, and equally of remorse. The Churches of God will be deprived of God-fearing and pious pastors, and woe to the Christians remaining in the world at that time; they will completely lose their faith because they will lack the opportunity of seeing the light of knowledge from anyone at all. Then they will separate themselves out of the world in holy refuges in search of lightening of their spiritual sufferings, but everywhere they will meet obstacles and constraints. And all this will result from the fact that the antichrist wants to be lord over everything and become the ruler of the whole universe, and he will produce miracles and fantastic signs. He will also give depraved wisdom to an unhappy man so that he will discover a way by which one man can carry on a conversation with another from one end of the earth to the other. At that time men will also fly through the air like birds and descend to the bottom of the sea like fish. And when they have achieved all this, these unhappy people will spend their lives in comfort without knowing, poor souls, that it is the deceit of the antichrist. And, the impious one — he will so complete science with vanity that it will go off the right path and lead people to lose faith in the existence of God in three Hypostases....

In America's own brand of enforced atheism, people have been reduced to a chance collection of molecules, and the time has come when absolutes are conditioned by an elite. This grim situation is one manifestation of the barbarism of modernity, but there are others: the near-universal apostasy from Christianity; the proliferation of false teachers and deceivers; the growth of a superficial, pseudo-Christianity; the hatred of children for parents; the insubordination to authority and a massive growth of lawlessness and other disorders; the growing cold of human love; the multiplication of people in high places who would like to see all religious freedoms removed; and many other symptoms as well.

In view of these developments, even secular commentators of the world now speak of a "quickening" process. One of them, the secular philosopher José Ortega y Gasset writes that "before long will be heard throughout the planet a formidable cry, rising like the howling of innumerable dogs to the stars, asking for someone or something to take command." The stage has been set for the one-world government of the antichrist, the preparations for which have already begun through technological manipulation. The door is already open to the nightmarish world of the future described in the final book of New Testament Scriptures, and the specter of that cataclysm now haunts the entire world. In the warning of the twentieth-century prophet, Elder Ignatii of Harbin, Manchuria, "What began in Russia will end in America."

In view of the pre-apocalyptic times in which we are currently living, this course must conclude on the sad note of some observations made by the nineteenth-century Father, St. Ignatii Brianchaninov, who tells us:

One may recognize the work of the Orthodox faith as approaching its definite conclusion.... Do not expect from anyone the restoration of Christianity. The vessels of the Holy Spirit have definitely dried up everywhere, even in the monasteries, those treasuries of piety and grace.... The merciful long-suffering of God extends and delays the final end for the small remnant of those who are being saved, while those who are becoming corrupt attain the fullness of corruption.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus (Apoc. 22:20).