How Many?

February 15, 2008

“This heresy [filioque], which has united to itself many innovations, as has been said, appeared about the middle of the seventh century, at first and secretly, and then under various disguises, over the Western Provinces of Europe, until by degrees, creeping along for four or five centuries, it obtained precedence over the ancient orthodoxy of those parts, through the heedlessness of Pastors and the countenance of Princes. Little by little it overspread not only the hitherto orthodox Churches of Spain, but also the German, and French, and Italian Churches, whose orthodoxy at one time was sounded throughout the world, with whom our divine Fathers such as the great Athanasius and heavenly Basil conferred, and whose sympathy and fellowship with us until the seventh Ecumenical Council, preserved unharmed the doctrine of the Catholic and Apostolic Church. But in process of time, by envy of the devil, the novelties respecting the sound and orthodox doctrine of the Holy Ghost, the blasphemy of whom shall not be forgiven unto men either in this world or the next, according to the saying of our Lord (Matt. xii. 32), and others that succeeded respecting the divine Mysteries, particularly that of the world-saving Baptism, and the Holy Communion, and the Priesthood, like prodigious births, overspread even Old Rome; and thus sprung, by assumption of special distinctions in the Church as a badge and title, the Papacy. Some of the Bishops of that City, styled Popes, for example Leo III and John VIII, did indeed, as has been said, denounce the innovation, and published the denunciation to the world, the former by those silver plates, the latter by his letter to the holy Photius at the eighth Ecumenical Council, and another to Sphendopulcrus, by the hands of Methodius, Bishop of Moravia. The greater part, however, of their successors, the Popes of Rome, enticed by the antisynodical privileges offered them for the oppression of the Churches of God, and finding in them much worldly advantage, and “much gain,” and conceiving a Monarchy in the Catholic Church and a monopoly of the gifts of the Holy Ghost, changed the ancient worship at will, separating themselves by novelties from the old received Christian Polity. Nor did they cease their endeavors, by lawless projects (as veritable history assures us), to entice the other four Patriarchates into their apostasy from Orthodoxy, and so subject the Catholic Church to the whims and ordinances of men.”

Encyclical of the Eastern Patriarchs, 1848, sec. 6.

Signed, Patriarchs of Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem.

Emperichoretic Ecclesiology

July 6, 2007

“And to this end we brought to his remembrance the great examples left us by the Apostles, and the traditions of the Fathers.  For although the grace of the Holy Spirit abounded in each one of the Apostles, so that no one of them needed the counsel of another in the execution of his work, yet they were not willing to define on the question then raised touching the circumcision of the Gentiles, until being gathered together they had confirmed their own several sayings by the testimony of the divine Scriptures.

And thus they arrived unanimously at this sentence, which they wrote to the Gentiles:  ‘It has seemed good to the Holy Ghost and to us, to lay upon you no other burden than these necessary things, that ye abstain from things offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication.’

But also the Holy Fathers, who from time to time have met in the four holy councils, following the example of the ancients, have by a common discussion, disposed of by a fixed decree the heresies and questions which had sprung up, as it was certainly known, that by common discussion when the matter in dispute was presented by each side, the light of truth expels the darkness of falsehood.

Nor is there any other way in which the truth can be made manifest when there are discussions concerning the faith, since each one needs the help of his neighbour, as we read in the Proverbs of Solomon:  ‘A brother helping his brother shall be exalted like a walled city; and he shall be strong as a well-founded kingdom;’ and again in Ecclesiastes he says:  ‘Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour.’”

So also the Lord himself says:  ‘Verily I say unto you that if two of you shall agree upon earth as touching anything they shall seek for, they shall have it from my Father which is in heaven.  For wheresoever two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”


The Sentence of the Fifth Ecumenical Council

A Hostile Witness

July 4, 2007

Here is an interesting article, Michael A. Fahey, S.J., Eastern Synodal Traditions: Pertinence for Western Collegial Institutions that is currently being ignored by the folks over at Cathedra Unitatis, while they make much hay out of other articles from this collecton. It vindicates a number of criticisms regarding development in Catholicism that the Orthodox have made.

Another Schism Healed…without the Pope

May 17, 2007

Very often Catholic apologists tend to give the impression that without the papacy, dogs and cats will co-habitate, mass hysteria will take place and the Borg will invade. If you don’t have a single and psychologically simple center of unity, all you are left with is Protestant like schism upon schism. It is nice to see this isn’t the case.

Trinitarian Structure, Lay Responsibility and Infallibility

May 14, 2007

‘If we suppose that we have a center that cannot err, matters change radically in the Church. Everything is degraded to the level of worldly existence. Things move mechanically, regulated from the outside. We return to the curse of the law. The whole architecture of the Church is put out of shape…The responsibility of the laity is diminished or done away with entirely. Theology, instead of being a “mystery” clearly delivered to the Church, becomes an individual intellectual concern. Dogma no longer serves as a guide for life, nor does life lead to the open door of the truth which frees.

The suffering and the struggle inherent in the universal responsibility of the laity is something which has cost and continues to cost dearly. It is painful for the whole body of the Church, and for this very reason leads to salvation. This is because, in a way that is conscious and recognised, it leads everyone as a community and as persons to spiritual maturity and adulthood in Christ. In this spirit of responsibility, faith matures and theology is born, The truth is made flesh within us, as freedom become tangible: “We who are many are one body and one spirit” (1 Cor 10:17).

We are bound together by the common faith which, in accordance with tradition, each of us has found and finds personally through the exercise of his own responsibility-”so each of us shall give account of himself to God” (Rom 14:12)-and through the communion of the Holy Spirit. The Church leaves the believer free to feel Christ dwelling within him; free to live in fear on the sea of the present age; free to be crushed by his resposibility; free to cry out to the Lord, “Master we perish,” and to see Him in the night of the present age, walking on the waters for him personally and for the whole Church; and free to hear the Lord say to him, “It is I.”

…It is a mysterious presence of God made man, which surpasses firm administration, world conquest or history. It is a certainty for man, given by God. It is an expansion of our being to His dimensions, a process whereby what is mortal is swallowed up in life.

This unconfused and indivisible interpenetration of life and certainty, of the laity and responsibility, of freedom and unity, constitutes the source of renewal in the Church. Here we see the operation of the Trinitarian “leaven” of the Kingdom of God, which no one can impede and which sanctifies and renews all things, making them pass through unceasing trials:…

Every believer is called to live theologically, and the whole body of the Church is creating theology in its life and its struggle. Thus the ex cathedra of Orthodoxy, the way in which it expresses itself infallibly, is from the Cross. The responsibility that is spread over the whole body of the people is a cross…The spiritual life of each believer which provides the overall balance is a cross. On the Cross, the Lord “stretched out His hands and united what had previously been sundered.”

The infallibility on which the Vatican prides itself is a disruption of the trinitarian structure of the Church’s ecclesiology and spirituality. Orthodoxy cannot accept the dogma of Rome’s infallibility without denying itself. It could not accept it without living it; all the dogmas of the Church have been embodied in its worship and have formed and set their seal on its life. Supposing that the Church did accept it and lived it consistently, as it lives all the other dogmas, it would then cease to exist. The Church itself would cease to live. This dogma of infallibility is one that the Western Church has manufactured in its own way. This is a dogma which no Church can live in a way that is Orthodox; it brings about the paralysis of the whole body of the Church.’

Ecclesiology and spirituality have the same basis: dogma. The Church is Christ, His body living in history. It is summarised in each of the faithful, who is the Church in miniature. The personal consciousness of each of the faithful has an ecclesial dimension, and every problem of the Church is the problem of the personal salvation of each of the faithful.

Archimandrite Vasileios in Hymn of Entry pgs 50-52.

Grand Moff Tarkin Appears!

May 3, 2007

Grand Moff Tarkin, a character from the Star Wars film seems to have appeared in the blogsphere. I grew up on Star Wars. It was the biggest thing when I was a kid. Princess Leia retorts to the effect to one of his inquiries at one point in the film, “The tighters your grasp, the more star systems will slip through your fingers!” (There’s more truth in this I suspect than one might suppose.)

This morning I posted some questions over at Kimel’s blog. I thought I could at least ask questions, but I suppose not. The ultimate Gnostic weapon of prohibition of questions has finally made its appearance. My questions weren’t rude or crass but were in fact part of the historical discussion and on topic. But I suppose in order to assimilate everything to the Monad of the Pope, the Orthodox simply must be silenced. If the Pope speaks, every voice must be quiet.

Of course, what Kimel will create is a decreased or decreasing band of respondents, who will only give him a skewed picture of things. It seems ironic to desire an ecumenical discussion and then prohibit questions from the other side. This simply confirms the old Papal attitude that non-Catholics just need to submit. As I said before, not yet ecumenical.

 For your contemplation, here are the questions I asked.

  Read the rest of this entry »

When Tradition Doesn’t Matter Anymore

February 26, 2007

Michael Liccone has criticized by deployment of the canon of St. Vincent against the papacy. To be clear, I did not invoke the canon in terms of what every individual Christian professes. I am on board with Yohann Eck when he asked, “Do all believing Christians agree with one another? Never in a thousand years!” The VC refers I believe to the deposit of tradition made in specific churches founded by the Apostles-Rome, Antioch, Jerusalem, Alexandria, and Ephesus.  This was to serve as a guide for the churches in what was genuinely of apostolic origin and what was an innovation. If something was discovered to have doctrinal content that was unique to a particular church, then it was an innovation. Consequently, this was meant as an aid to the principle teachers of the Church, specifically the bishops. Only secondarily was it meant as a guideline for “individuals.”  This view is expressed in early witnesses as Tertullian and Fathers like St. Ireneaus. Saint Vincent is not innovating when he invokes the rule. 

Consequently, pace Micheal, it is not very odd to invoke the canon as a guide to interpreting Scripture that presupposes the Church as a reference point because the canon, even prior to its utterance by St. Vincent, presupposed the possibility of specific churches misinterpreting Scriptures and that there were churches founded directly by apostles. What would be odd would be to invoke it against the entire church by say Protestants who would claim that the entire church erred.  In my view, all that the rule requires is that there are in fact churches that the apostles founded and that in their tradition we can discover that which is truly apostolic. (Incidently to deny this premise is to beg the question against Orthodoxy and advance an implicity argument agianst Orthodoxy.) It does not presuppose some general vague notion of “the Church.” So the rule does not assume that one can identify the faith apart from the church, but exactly the opposite. It is because these sees are the church that one can identify the faith from their consensus.    

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Was Soloviev Orthodox?

February 19, 2007

“In the 1880′s we see a different approach to this question. V. S. Soloviev, who supported the union of Orthodoxy with the Roman Church, desiring to justify the dogmatic development of the Roman Church defended the idea of the development of the Church’s dogmatic consciousness. He argues thus: “The Body of Christ changes and is perfected” like every organism; the original “basis” of faith is uncovered and clarified in the history of Christianity; “Orthodoxy stands not merely by antiquity, but by the eternally living Spirit of God.”Soloviev was inspired to defend the point of view of “development” not only by his sympathies for the Roman church, but also by his own religious-philosophical outlook — his ideas on Sophia, the wisdom of God, on God-manhood as a historical process, etc. Carried along by his own metaphysical system, Soloviev in the 1890′s began to put forth the teaching of the “eternal feminine,” which, he says, “is not merely an inactive image in God’s mind, but a living spiritual being which possesses all the fullness of power and action. The whole process of the world and history is the process of its realization and incarnation in a great multiplicity of forms and degrees… The heavenly object of our love is only one, and it is always and for everyone one and the same, the eternal Femininity of God.” (Soloviev’s ideas might be superficially compared to the “women’s liberation” of today, whose latest attempt in religious circles has been to “desex” the Bible and remove all references to the “masculine” nature of God. Today’s movement, however, does not really touch on philosophy or theology, remaining a movement primarily of social “liberation”; whereas Soloviev’s thought is more serious, being a kind of resurrection of ancient Gnostic philosophy. Both of them, however, are equally outlandish in the forms their ideas take, and both are agreed in seeing a necessity to change traditional Christian dogmas and expressions.)

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When Being Catholic Isn’t.

February 16, 2007

Michael Liccone has taken issue with some of my comments on an Anglican blog. He has labeled them inappropriately, “ecclesiastical heckling.” Needless to say, I disagree.

For my readers here, this is how the story goes.  Once upon a time, Fr.Kimel would email me comments made both on his blog or somewhere else by some Protestant, usually regarding Sola Scriptura, Private Judgment and such matters. Then I would go over there and produce one of my famous “long bombs” of a post and annihilate the poor soul. This worked well for lots of reasons. Pontifications for a while was a kind of meeting house. And so it served Fr. Kimel’s interests to have someone who was not Catholic like myself pick apart Protestant arguments.  It also served my own interests. Some of those were to present as best I could a coherent and well argued defense of Orthodoxy. Embedded in my critiques of Protestantism, there always has been an implied critique of Catholicism as well.  I also got the opporutnity to refine my thinking and take ideas for a test run. Eventually it was a tool to advertise this blog that Daniel and I share. Once Fr. Kimel got over his stammering from the kinds of objections I raised and found his feet firmly planted back on Roman soil and was a confirmed adherent of Rome, his blog changed its character. It ceased to take on the feel of a meeting house and became the Pope’s house. 

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Saint Chrysostom on Acts 15

February 7, 2007

“Then all the multitude kept silence,” etc. (v. 12.) There was no arrogance in the Church. After Peter Paul speaks, and none silences him: James waits patiently, not starts up (for the next word). Great the orderliness (of the proceedings). No word speaks John here, no word the other Apostles, but held their peace, for James was invested with the chief rule, and think it no hardship. So clean was their soul from love of glory. “And after that they had held their peace, James answered,” etc. (v. 13.) (b) Peter indeed spoke more strongly, but James here more mildly: for thus it behooves one in high authority, to leave what is unpleasant for others to say, while he himself appears in the milder part.”

Homilies on the Acts of the Apostles, 23


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