“But a further rumour has reached me that you are in Antioch, and are transacting the business in hand with the chief authorities. And, besides this, I have heard that the brethren who are of the party of Paulinus are entering on some discussion with your excellency on the subject of union with us; and by “us” I mean those who are supporters of the blessed man of God, Meletius. I hear, moreover, that the Paulinians are carrying about a letter of the Westerns, assigning to them the episcopate of the Church in Antioch, but speaking under a false impression of Meletius, the admirable bishop of the true Church of God. [Meletius was not in communion with Rome for twenty years.] I am not astonished at this. They are totally ignorant of what is going on here; the others, though they might be supposed to know, give an account to them in which party is put before truth; and it is only what one might expect that they should either be ignorant of the truth, or should even endeavour to conceal the reasons which led the blessed Bishop Athanasius to write to Paulinus. But your excellency has on the spot those who are able to tell you accurately what passed between the bishops in the reign of Jovian, and from them I beseech you to get information. I accuse no one; I pray that I may have love to all, and “especially unto them who are of the household of faith;” and therefore I congratulate those who have received the letter from Rome. And, although it is a grand testimony in their favour, I only hope it is true and confirmed by facts. But I shall never be able to persuade myself on these grounds to ignore Meletius, or to forget the Church which is under him, or to treat as small, and of little importance to the true religion, the questions which originated the division. I shall never consent to give in, merely because somebody is very much elated at receiving a letter from men. Even if it had come down from heaven itself, but he does not agree with the sound doctrine of the faith, I cannot look upon him as in communion with the saints.”

Saint Basil the Great 375 A.D., Epistle 214

42 Responses to Rome…Schmome

  1. Fr Patrick says:


    I thought to add a little more to my previous comment.

    Even though many may be separate from the Church and Christ, it doesn’t mean that their teaching is all together useless. Some Fathers recognise that the ancient Greek philosophers, although wrong on many points, nevertheless helped to prepare the way for Christ. Their thoughts and opinions, where they are true, helped to open men’s minds to accept the greater Truth of Christ. They also helped provide the Fathers a language that could be well used to express Christian content, even if the secular meaning of the words may not have properly expressed the Christian meaning before the Fathers refined them for theology.

    The work of people such as John Wesley and Billy Graham have had an influence on my personal development in Christianity. Wesley’s maintaining of free-will in the face of Reformed Predestination helped me to see that it was an option, which opened my mind to receive the fullness of free-will in Orthodox teaching. The inspiration of people, such as Billy Graham is his belief in God, helped me to continue believing in God and again being ready to receive the Orthodox Faith.

    The teaching of these men is not complete for Orthodox and their errors could be dangerous for those trying to use them as teachers but for those outside the Church, they can help inspire people towards God, as long as these people do not limit themselves to their teaching.

  2. Fr Patrick says:


    I believe that there are a couple of important matters that need to be raised about being not complete in Orthodox Teaching.

    The first is that for those who are not in Mystical/Sacramental Unity with the Church via Baptism and Eucharist then it doesn’t matter what ones beliefs may be because one is separated from the Church and hence Christ. (An exception being for those who are martyred for Orthodox beliefs, who are considered as baptised in blood, Mystically uniting them to Christ in death.) The people you mentioned are outside the Sacramental life of the Church, so they would be separate from Christ even with Orthodox Beliefs.

    The second matter is that for those in the Church, Sacramentally, then incomplete alignment to Orthodox teaching is a problem that separates from Christ. However, we are not perfect and the matter depends on each one’s heart, which only God knows. If one is not aligned because they refuse to accept the Truth then they cut themselves from Christ. If one is not aligned for an honest mistake or lack of knowledge but would willing change their views when corrected, eg Apollos, then they should be saved through their humility and repentance; they are willing to accept the Truth. However, if one is to publicly teach about the faith and teach a mistaken belief as true then they would be in danger of leading others astray; who may believe the mistake as truth. Leading others astray, even if through an honest mistake, makes one responsible for the souls of others and if one’s words separate others from God then how can one who hence separates others from God be united to God Who unites others to Himself?

    We must be willing to accept God to be all in all in us and they includes His Truth. He will not force this on us.

    This is my understanding of things based on the holistic union of man with Christ, in Faith, deed and Sacrament/Mystery and that union needs to be perfect because God is perfect. Nevertheless, it is all by God’s Grace, which overcomes our weaknesses, if we are freely willing to accept Him being all in us.

  3. Michael says:

    Father Patrick (or anyone else),

    You say, “those who teach differently from the Orthodox Apostolic Faith are not in the Truth and hence not in the Christ”.

    I’m just wondering, being relatively new to Orthodox theology, how do you understand believers who are partially in alignment with the Orthodox Apostolic Faith, but perhaps not entirely…are they not in Christ? I think of such greats as John Wesley, Padre Pio, or even Billy Graham. Though not complete in Orthodox teaching, they seem to be largely aligned with the basics, and certainly are motivated by sincere and deep love for Christ. In other words, they love Christ but are honestly mistaken, in good faith.

    What is their place in the scheme of things, in your understanding?

  4. Matt says:


    Just for the record, your paragraph on the papacy is more or less what I hear coming from Roman Catholics these days, so if you are deluding yourself then you’re not the only one. I do think Perry has a point about the history though. If one looks at the picture Ott paints of the Papacy it seems to give a more monarchial image than the one painted today. The trouble seems to be that VI + VII don’t explicitly rule out that interpretation. I give more credence to your “de fide” statements than Perry does — every Christian group has issues which are matters of opinion — but it does trouble me that Perry’s take on RC thought seems allowable even if it has not been officially “endorsed” so to speak. Would you agree Perry’s conclusion is allowable? If so, what prevents the Church from eventually heading in that direction? I hope all works out on the housing and job front.

  5. acolyte says:


    In answer to your question regarding the purchase power of Roman arguments. Here are some things to consider. (This is my second time writing this since I lost it last time.)

    I don’t think the Papal theory, even if true does the work that people like Sungenis or Hahn think it does. So, where does the Buck stop in Catholicism? Does it stop with the Papacy? When there are rival claimants to the Papacy, where does the buck stop? If the Papacy is a necessary and sufficient condition for buck stopping, how could the papacy resolve such a dispute?Who is in charge? What if Popes disagree?
    Certainly future popes have annulled decisions of past popes and on dogmatic issues. 869/880 is a perect example. Why annul if they do not contradict? If they do, why go with the modern one, especially in light of the concept of TRADITION?

    How is the Papacy a sufficient condition for preventing a heretical pope? Suppose some pope in the future is heretical. Suppose he is also grossly immoral. It has happaned before. Suppose further that he decieves or manipulates the powers that be that some new document meets all the conditions for an ex cathedra statement and he promulgates it, that being one of the conditions. IN fact it isn’t infallible, but the majority of people think it is and then justify it on terms of “development.” Now, I don’t see what advantage locating the unity of the Church in one person/office has in such a scenario. And I don’t know why only Latin’s get to appeal to the answer that something like this will never happen. What is it about having just one at the top that licenses that inference?

    And I don’t see why we need a single office/person to arrive at a definitive or authoritative judgment. Are divine decrees authoritative? Do they come from only one person? The buck can’t stop with a council or tradition on the Latin scheme, not because bishops can disagree, but because you need someone to manage the development of ideas. The employment of dialectical methods to develop, to draw out the implicit conceptual content of terms and ideas in the past will, if left to a plurality of persons, produce a wide variety of answers. To maintain unity, you need one mind at the top. Take away development and dialectic, tradition is sufficient as are councils, for the council’s job is far easier then. They only have to compare what came before with what came after to see if it is the same or new.

    Put it this way. Both Catholics and Protestants believe in development of doctrine. The difference is that the Catholics have a referee and Protestants don’t. Now, what would either of them be without using dialectic to find what is “implicit” in past sources? Doctrine for both of them is consequently ever new. It is a process of discovery it is just that with the Protestants, the revising is more extreme and obvious. I know Catholics will say that nothing developed will contradict or be new in comparison with the past. But if you are reading past sources in light of a new context, and if ANY conceptual system is capable of admitting any contracy fact, through re-interpretation, then the lack of explicit contradiction is somewhat hollow. You are still producing something new for the context in which you are now interpreting it is not present in the past, which means that the past ideas, which function as facts in the schema or context did not have the same meaning and hence the same conceptual content to be DRAWN OUT IN THE FIRST PLACE. Theology is a science, which is why for the Latins, it isn’t tradition.

  6. acolyte says:

    Michael L.,

    I don’t find your general point to have any non-question begging substance. Consequently, even if true, I find it to be idle. I don’t even think it is true.
    Of course it comes down to what we mean, which is why conceptual schemes are incommensurable. If we meant the same thing, we wouldn’t have different schemes. I think Catholics should shit or get off the schematic pot. Either they should be consistent and recognize the conceptual overlap and dependence on Orthodoxy or they should give up Christian teacahing. You can’t but new wine into old wineskins.
    Certainly, I do not recognize Orthodoxy in the statements you make, and plenty of well informed Catholics, just as well informed as yourself, which incidently is saying quite a bit, do recognize Catholicism as I present it. They may not recognize it in terms of the criticisms I make, but they largely recognize the criticisms as by and large having historical root and being lasting problems. These people aren’t liberals either. Simply denying that say there is subordination between Pope and bishops doesn’t make it so and doesn’t provide a coherent model to demonstrate as much.
    It seems too easy to pull out the de fide card. At least we have shown that some Catholic theologies are wrong and hence sealed them off as avenues of theoretical escape, as well as giving good reasons that Rome has been wrong in declaring them permissible. That all by itself is a big deal. If our targets gain no conceptual traction against what is de fide, one wonders if there is any conceptual connection between the theologies and the dogma. What exactly is the meaning of the de fide statements? And even if I can’t kill the body of the Hydra by killing some of its heads, I have still killed some of its heads none the less. The “de fide” card simply strikes me as too convenient and too Gnostic. That interpretation won’t work? Never fear! That’s not what it REALLY means! We have some other interpretation. Just pour in some new philosophical grid. One wonders why we even need the theology when we have relations, properties and dialectic. In any case, many of the Criticisms I have made are not Orthodox per se. In fact, many of them I learned from main historical figures of Catholicism. I don’t take the disputes between the Franciscans, the Dominicans or Jesuits for example to be between people who habitually misconstrue Catholic teaching. The eternality of the world for example has its own feet. One has only to red Gundasalinas and the inter-Jewish-Christian and Muslim “theological” discourses to see it. If the problems were based on simple and serious misconstruals, the problems wouldn’t have had any significant Catholic “feet” of their own. But they did and continue to do so.

    If the Catholic doctrine of the Papacy isn’t dialectical, then what non-dialectical system from the handmaiden is being employed here to explicate it? None that I know of. If we can do theology without philosophy when it comes to the Papacy, why not everywhere else? And it is historically false at the least that the Catholic doctrine of the Papacy has not been formulated in a way making it significantly dependent on Platonic metaphysics. Just read Bonaventure, Albert, Aquinas or Scotus. The same Platonically grounded arguments are still being employed well into the 19th century. Can we say “hierarchy?”

    I never claimed that the leaders at V1 were reading Plotinus. I don’t need that to make my criticism stick. One has only to read documents and theology long prior to and leading up to V1 to see the Platonic principles at work. That is hardly controversial, since V1 isn’t the only statement on the Papacy. There is a lot that happens in the process of “development” along the way that is equally legitimate as V1. I am only trying to give air to the philosophical apparatus that undergirds the arguments of papal apologists and theologians down through time. If you think you can divorce the papacy from it and pour into it some new philosophical grid, be my guest, but good luck finding a non-dialectical model to do so. As a philosopher, you know that your choices, at best are few and far between. Consequently the same dialectical problems will pop up but in a new location so that the problems will not have been answered, only re-located.

    What differentiates the Popes from bishops if not qualities? And how are qualities distinguished philosophically if not in terms of deficiency or being other than, as opposed to being the same as? The genera of Same and Different requires it to be so. That’s the whole point of having relations of opposition, isn it? I just have to laugh Michael, the Catholic doctrine of the TRINITY is dialectical, but the Papacy ISN’T??!!
    What jurisdiction does a schismatic bishop have? Plotinus didn’t think that the absolute status of the One didn’t detract from the subordinated effects, even though the effects were causally deficient. That is the only way to differentiate them. So, I would argue, any gloss you give on distinguishing Pope from Bishop will be in terms of what the Pope has and the Bishops don’t. If they were equal on such a scheme, they would be the same since there is no contradictory or opposed property. If that is not dialectical, I don’t know what is.

    As for Louth, we must have read it with two different glasses on. Louth is clearly distancing himself from Newman’s theory of development-he says as much. He sees the Orthodox view as different, which is why his answer to the paper’s title, is “no.”
    We will pray for your success in securing gainful employment and stable housing.

  7. Fr Patrick says:

    Michael Liccione,

    Following from Photios’s comment, if the Pope is of a higher sacramental grace/order than any others how does the sacramental grace manage to pass on? Surely the laying on of hands requires someone ranking higher, or at least of the same rank as the order to be given, to do so. “Now without any contradiction the lesser is blessed by the better.” So, if the Pope has an order higher than all others then apart from one Pope laying hands on the next, how does the grace pass on from those with lower orders through the laying on of hands, if this happens?

  8. Mike,

    How can you make that analogy about the Pope is to the Bishops as the Bishops are to the laity, when the Bishops are a couple sacramental orders higher than the laity. Is the ‘Pope’ a higher sacramental order than the Bishops? Is the charism of St. Peter’s office passed down sacramentally or not? I think it is, but then again, I think every Orthodox Bishop shares in St. Peter’s chair, personally, as Bishop.


  9. Death Bredon says:


    Please forgive me for the “fraud” remark. What I meant to say is that I often find RC rhetoric vis-a-vis Eastern Christianity false in a specious, stylized, stock and tropologogical sense. I am sure that you are sincere in your beliefs, otherwise you cold not possibly argue to strenuously and consistently for them!

    Mea culpa,


  10. Inquirer says:


    Forgive my density, I did not quite get how your first paragraph answered the question.

    I understand you are busy with classes. I’d love to hear more when you get a chance.

    Peace be yours.

  11. acolyte says:


    Good question. Let me extend the argument. Every thing in creation is an icon of Christ, and this is because all of the many icons, images or logoi are united in the One Logos. Christ is universally present to his creation. Does the Catholic wish to say that on Orthodox principles it follows that dogs can be bishops? I don’t think so.

    Furthermore, some of this depends on the notion of participation and how bishops become bishops, that is, what is the Orthodox notion of Apostolic Succession? I am between classes now and I don’t have time for a detailed post. But even if what you wrote were true, and there can be degree’s of authority going down, that there is going up and why think that the going up as it were ends with a single person? It looks awfully like a Platonic hierarchy, which makes me very worried.

    Further, Icons don’t represent Christ, but rather Christ is present in them.

  12. In this thread I’ve noticed various arguments made, if not always against Catholicism tout court, at least against defenses of it mounted by Fr. Al Kimel, myself, Scott Hahn, and others. I thank Photios for reminding DB that we are not “frauds”; it is strangely reassuring to hear that, after all, being wrong is not the same as being fraudulent. Nor do I have much time for what Perry calls “spoof-texting,” I shall not speak for the other Catholics cited; they can speak for themselves if they choose. Even in my own defense, I have time only for a general point.

    In every case—be it the papacy, divine simplicity, the E/E distinction, the relationship of the local and the universal church, the development of doctrine, or others—I have found that the core issue is what the relevant, respective doctrines of East and West really mean. I have heard the criticisms of Catholicism made by Perry and Photios for many moons now, and in this thread I have heard Fr. Patrick repeat others. I do not recognize Catholic doctrine in what they criticize; what I see are caricatures; on numerous past occasions elsewhere, I have striven to correct such caricatures. In some cases their criticisms of particular theologies are fair; but those theologies are not the same as what the Catholic Church teaches de fide, and the latter admits of interpretation through the lenses of more than one theological grid and even more than one metaphysic. Some Orthodox here have objected, rightly, to the relative ignorance of Orthodoxy on the part of some Catholics who criticize it; and while I cannot accuse all the Orthodox here of as much ignorance of Catholicism, their misconstruals of it nonetheless are frequent enough to make their criticisms largely irrelevant when intended as criticisms of what the Catholic Church teaches as de fide.

    Now on to two specific points, which are all I have time for in my present circumstances.

    1. The Catholic doctrine of the papacy is being treated as dialectical when it isn’t. The “one” of the papacy is not opposed to the “many” of the bishops; Vatican I does not in any way presuppose Plotinus. In the comment just above this one, Inquirer is asking a question that is pointed because it arises, whether he intended it so or not, from a truth: just as the authority of the bishops does not detract from but rather facilitates the priestly, prophetic, and kingly roles the laity are called to in virtue of baptism, so the “full, supreme, and universal jurisdiction” of the pope as “the” Vicar of Christ for the whole Church does not detract from but facilitates the ordinary jurisdiction of bishops as vicars of Christ over the several local churches.

    2. I have finally got hold of the Louth article and have read it. I find much in it to agree with; indeed, as an statement of where Orthodoxy is on the question of DD, I find I cannot disagree with a word of it. (And BTW, DB, I have read Pelikan and Bradshaw too.) But what I cannot agree with is crucial: one of Louth’s key assumptions about what legitimate DD must consist in. I plan a post at my own blog about that. Unfortunately, my own computer is now in storage and I neglected to copy the scanned file to my jump drive. So it’s going to take me another week or so to recover the text in a form that is conveniently usable online.

  13. Inquirer says:


    One thing I’m wondering. You mention how a Bishop is an icon of Christ; and as there is no Christ among Christ, there is no Bishop among Bishops. This makes sense to me, and as an Orthodox I readily accept this. But what if a Catholic was to make an argument along the lines of: “Every Christian is an icon of Christ and yet we acknowledge that a Bishop (an icon of Christ) has a certain authority that a lay-Christian (also, an icon of Christ) does not. Just as we can distinguish authority among icons of Christ in Bishops and laity, we can distinguish authority among Bishops.”
    How would one argue against that? (Perhaps the answer is already in what you wrote and I failed to make the connection).


  14. Fr Patrick says:

    I found this great letter of Pope Celestine to the Council of Ephesus:

    Celestine the bishop to the holy Synod assembled at Ephesus, brethren
    beloved and most longed for, greeting in the Lord.
    A Synod of priests gives witness to the presence of the Holy Spirit. For
    true is that which we read, since the Truth cannot lie, to wit, the promise
    of the Gospel; “Where two or three are gathered together in my name,
    there am I in the midst of them.” And since this is so, if the Holy Spirit is
    not absent from so small a number how much more may we believe he is
    present when so great a multitude of holy ones are assembled together!
    Every council is holy on account of a peculiar veneration which is its due;
    for in every such council the reverence which should be paid to that most
    famous council of the Apostles of which we read is to be had regard to.
    Never was the Master, whom they had received to preach, lacking to this,
    but ever was present as Lord and Master; and never were those who
    taught deserted by their teacher. For he that had sent them was their
    teacher; he who had commanded what was to be taught, was their teacher;
    he who affirms that he himself is heard in his Apostles, was their teacher.
    This duty of preaching has been entrusted to all the Lord’s priests in
    common, for by right of inheritance we are bound to undertake this
    solicitude, whoever of us preach the name of the Lord in divers lands in
    their stead for he said to them, “Go, teach all nations.” You, dear brethren,
    should observe that we have received a general command: for he wills that
    all of us should perform that office, which he thus entrusted in common to
    all the Apostles. We must needs follow our predecessors. Let us all, then,
    undertake their labors, since we are the successors in their honor. And we
    shew forth our diligence in preaching the same doctrines that they taught,
    beside which, according to the admonition of the Apostle, we are
    forbidden to add aught. For the office of keeping what is committed to our
    trust is no less dignified than that of handing it down.
    They sowed the seed of the faith. This shall be our care that the coming of
    our great father of the family, to whom alone assuredly this fullness of the
    Apostles is assigned, may find fruit uncorrupt and many fold. For the vase
    of election tells us that it is not sufficient to plant and to water unless God
    gives the increase. We must strive therefore in common to keep the faith
    which has come down to us today, through the Apostolic Succession. For
    we are expected to walk according to the Apostle. For now not our
    appearance (species) but our faith is called in question. Spiritual weapons
    are those we must take, because the war is one of minds, and the weapons
    are words; so shall we be strong in the faith of our King. Now the Blessed
    Apostle Paul admonishes that all should remain in that place in which he
    bid Timothy remain. The same place therefore, the same cause, lays upon
    us the same duty. Let us now also do and study that which he then
    commanded him to do. And let no one think otherwise, and let no one pay
    heed to over strange fables, as he himself ordered. Let us be unanimous
    thinking the same thing, for this is expedient: let us do nothing out of
    contention, nothing out of vain glory: let us be in all things of one mind, of
    one heart, when the faith which is one, is attacked. Let the whole body
    grieve and mourn in common with us. He who is to judge the world is
    called into judgment; he who is to criticize all, is himself made the object of
    criticism, he who redeemed us is made to suffer calumny. Dear Brethren,
    gird ye with the armor of God. Ye know what helmet must protect our
    head, what breast-plate our breast. For this is not the first time the
    ecclesiastical camps have received you as their rulers. Let no one doubt
    that by the favor of the Lord who maketh twain to be one, there will be
    peace, and that arms will be laid aside since the very cause defends itself.
    Let us look once again at these words of our Doctor, which he uses with
    express reference to bishops, saying, “Take heed to yourselves and to the
    whole flock, over which the Holy Ghost has placed you as bishop, that ye
    rule the church of God, which he hath purchased with his blood.”
    We read that they who heard this at Ephesus, the same place at which
    your holiness is come together, were called thence. To them therefore to
    whom this preaching of the faith was known, to them also let your defense
    of the same faith also be known. Let us shew them the constancy of our
    mind with that reverence which is due to matters of great importance;
    which things peace has guarded for a long time with pious understanding.
    Let there be announced by you what things have been preserved intact
    from the Apostles; for the words of tyrannical opposition are never
    admitted against the King of Kings, nor can the business of truth be
    oppressed by falsehood.
    I exhort you, most blessed brethren, that love alone be regarded in which
    we ought to remain, according to the voice of John the Apostle whose
    reliques we venerate in this city. Let common prayer be offered to the
    Lord. For we can form some idea of what will be the power of the divine
    presence at the united intercession of such a multitude of priests, by
    considering how the very place was moved where, as we read, the Twelve
    made together their supplication. And what was the purport of that
    prayer of the Apostles? It was that they might receive grace to speak the
    word of God with confidence, and to act through its power, both of which
    they received by the favor of Christ our God. And now what else is to be
    asked for by your holy council, except that ye may speak the Word of the
    Lord with confidence? What else than that he would give you grace to
    preserve that which he has given you to preach? that being filled with the
    Holy Ghost, as it is written, ye may set forth that one truth which the
    Spirit himself has taught you, although with divers voices.
    Animated, in brief, by all these considerations (for, as the Apostle says: “I
    speak to them that know the law, and I speak wisdom among them that
    are perfect”), stand fast by the Catholic faith, and defend the peace of the
    Churches, for so it is said, both to those past, present, and future, asking
    and preserving “those things which belong to the peace of Jerusalem.”
    Out of our solicitude, we have sent our holy brethren and fellow priests,
    who are at one with us and are most approved men, Arcedius, and
    Projectus, the bishops, and our presbyter, Philip, that they may be
    present at what is done and may carry out what things have been already
    decreed be us (quoe a nobis anted statuta sunt, exequa tur).

  15. Death Bredon says:


    Sorry if I implied that Hahn, Liccione, or Kimel are frauds. I do not thinks so. Rather, I think that they are sncere but that their rhetoric is fraudulent (and not original to themselves). Perhaps I should have said the “false rhetoric” or “erroneous rhetoric” of these men and those like them.


    Based on his public statements, I have strong doubts whether Father Patrick Henry Reardon has “thrown off” his Augustinian Shackles. He seems to be very defensive of Augustinian, even Scholastic, Latin thought. And, we must remember that, at any given time, Orthodoxy always seems to have a small but tenacious Latinophrone party.

  16. William B says:

    Excellent, thank you! Could you email me?

  17. Fr Patrick says:


    I think that what Acolyte answers your first question well: “Each bishop on the Papal scheme qua ecclesiastical deficiency is independent, which is why a bishop outside of Rome is still a bishop but deficient qua bishop-he only is completed in unification with Rome, even though he is subordinated. If the subordination didn’t exist even in communion with Rome, it would follow that every bishop was the pope and this is because the metaphysical basis for the theory can’t allow for identity without reduction and *REAL* distinction at the same time.”

    From my understanding of Orthodox theology, I find it impossible to think that a Bishop outside the Church is still a Bishop because quoting Acolyte “Each Bishop is the icon of Christ and CHrist is energetically and hence personally present in each of his icons. His personal presence relates both to the divine person but also to the person of the bishop in so far as he aligns himself with Christ.” Being outside the Church means being apart from Christ and so there can be no presence of Christ; the man ceases to be an icon of Christ and hence ceases to be a Bishop. I am astonished that the Roman Catholics could think otherwise. Also, how can the Mysteries/Sacraments be valid outside the Church and without the Spirit? It is just impossible; there can be no synergy between man and God, which is what saves us.

    Anyway, after answering your earlier question I guessed that you were probably interested in how Orthodox “know” whose right. At present I have no magic answer for that and from my sense of Church history and concerns there was never such an answer. The Roman Catholic model is no better because it is circular; you need to accept the model before the Pope has any relevance to who is right or where is the Church. The question comes down to which model is more consistent with historical data, is a better explanation of everything and is more consistent with Scripture, and ultimately a matter of faith.

    Personally, I am Orthodox and not Roman Catholic because I know that the Orthodox Church is faithful to the Apostolic Tradition of the early Church, including Scripture, in faith and practice and the Roman Catholic Church is not, especially in lots of “little things” see my comment under “Platonic signs…”. This is historically evident to anyone reading the history of the Church, general history and the Scripture and Roman Catholics have needed to develop the doctrine of development of doctrine to explain the divergence. (Well, that is how I see it and not being a Roman Catholic I cannot explain it from their view point.)

    The fruits of the Orthodox Church and Saints remains consistent with the Saints all ages, whereas the Roman Catholic Church has awful parts to its history in which it is hard to see the fruits of the Spirit e.g. the Inquisition, Croatia/Serbia, South America. The Roman Catholic Church seems to be given to humanistic ideals and worldly power rather than the Saintly ideals, especially as maintained on Mt Athos. (Not that Orthodoxy is without its scandals and sinners.)

    The theological model as has been outlined above I believe works better in encompassing the history of the Church and the consensus of the Fathers than the Roman Catholic model.

    Finally, the doctrine that God become man that man might become God, theosis, is the clincher. Protestant thought and in many ways Roman Catholic thought has man apart from God, Who is the unobtainable essence, and some great (beautific?) vision seems to be the highest ideal. Somehow in eternity man must be changed to become permanently good (ie his free will stopped) because otherwise what is to stop another fall if man retains his free will. Satan fell without temptation. Theosis ends this problem. Man uniting with Christ and participating in the life of the Trinity, only possible if Christ is fully man and fully God and with the distinction of essence and energies means that man moves from a temporal existence to an eternal existence, man shares in God’s free will, which becomes his also, (from correct Trinitarian theology) without opposing God’s freedom or man’s freedom. This means that there can be no further fall, there is no time and no change. Man has his own hypostatic free will but one with God, so never wills other than as God. The man is truly free because he has freely accepted this will through obedience. Note: free-will is essential because union with God requires man to have a free will so that he can have God’s free will. Any form of determinism of man would negate his ability to share the Life of God. Only Orthodox theology allows this and hence allows true and complete salvation. Note: time must end for this to be fully realised in man, who must be willing to accept to live God’s life and be holy as He is holy. Those who do not freely accept this in faith and deed cannot be forced into this Life and since time needs to end; they will be eternally separate from this Life.

    Well, I hope this helps answer your question.

    P.S. The church is visible in those in communion with other Orthodox Churches. Because man is weak and sinful it is unwise to seek prefect Orthodox practice but nevertheless we must not go to the other extreme of denying that there is a True Faith, which we can find and know. “Seek and you will find.” Those who teach differently from the Orthodox Apostolic Faith are not in the Truth and hence not in the Christ and by this we know who is in the Church as well as by their fruits shall you know them. “Everyone who transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ, this one has both the Father and the Son.” 2 John 1:9. “If we claim that we have fellowship with Him, and we are walking in the darkness, we are lying, and are not practicing the truth.” 1 John 1:6.

  18. William B says:

    Fr. Patrick,

    “in Roman Catholic thought there is a sense that Christ is in heaven and there needs to be a Vicar on earth who is in charge and where the buck stops.”

    Is the argument here that the necessity of a single earthly Vicar of Christ (implicitly) denies the full presence and power of Christ manifest in each Church? If so, then I agree. Could we say then that *the Holy Tradition* is the ultimate authority in the Church? How is the unity of the Church realized amidst apparent ecclesiastical disorganization? For in spite of apparent disunity and schism we are commited to the belief that there is and always will be “one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church.” In the RC model, the Pope is (an essential part of) the answer to the questions “Where is the Church” and “How do I know whose right?” What would you say it is for us?

  19. Inquirer says:


    Excellent. Thank you, thank you. There’s a lot to chew on there. I especially appreciated the connection to Plotinus which made great sense. I will have to meditate on this some more.


  20. Fr Patrick says:

    The questions which you raise I think are better answered by the Orthodox “model” and I believe that they are more Scripturally and theologically coherent. There is great importance also in this model for the distinction between essence and energies.

    My impression, correct me if I am wrong, is that in Roman Catholic thought there is a sense that Christ is in heaven and there needs to be a Vicar on earth who is in charge and where the buck stops. This seems to relate to the belief that God is only essence, which leaves an uncrossable chasm between God and man. The Life of God in unobtainable to man because the essence is unobtainable. In Orthodox theology man can share in the Life of the Trinity through the uncreated energies and truly become sons of God, i.e. theosis.

    Applying this to the ecclesiastical structure of the Church. The Orthodox see that Christ is, as promised in Scripture, totally present here on earth in the Church which is His Body and His Life. There is no need for a Vicar because Christ Himself is where the buck stops. He is the Head of the Church and continues to guide and protect her. He promises to Peter to build the Church and He promises that the gates of Hades will not prevail against her. He is the Rock (chief cornerstone) on which the Church is built and all Christians are all rocks in Christ that add to the building and are built on by those following us with the Apostles as the foundation stones.

    Christ’s Headship is exercised through the Mystery of the Priesthood, most fully in the Bishops but also in the other clerical orders and also monastic orders. His energies provide the His real presence within which man can participate. It has been said that Bishops were chosen from those who had reached theosis that is who were united and shared the life of Christ. Christ is all in them and they are in Christ, thus being the prefect icons of Christ’s presence. There can be no fuller expression of Christ’s Headship than in a Bishop each of which has a limited territory which completes the Mystery of being a Bishop. There can be no Bishop without his church (Head without Body), which must have a real physical presence (Incarnation) and hence limit, so that it is not confused with the church of another Bishop. Hence, there can be no free Bishops or Bishops that have an authority to act as a Bishop within another’s church. To have such a Bishop, as it appears that the Pope is being said to be, is to deny Christ’s presence on earth and His Headship of the Church. It separates man from God, which reflects the difference in Trinitarian Theology.

    When problems arise, ultimately Christ deals with it. This however is done in synergy with man. Each Christian is united to Christ and knows the truth because Christ, the Truth, is in them and they in Him. Heresy causes a separation between man and God and the saints know this. innovation or false teaching for them stands out sharply as a contradiction to the Truth and they speak out, in the inspiration of Christ, against this. However, free-will is always there and some may accept the falsehood as truth. Also, the Faith was given once for all by Christ through the Apostles in Tradition(s). For those of us less united with Christ and with more clouded minds and souls, we can look at the teaching and practice of the Church through time and across the world. Innovation can be seen as an inconsistency with this history and universality.

    Because the Bishops bear the main responsibility of preserving the Apostolic Tradition, although all Christians have a responsibility in this, when an innovative teaching arises Christ has determined that the Bishops meet in council to determine whether it is heresy. Councils are the correct icon showing the unity of the Church and Faith, with Ecumenical Councils doing so for the whole world. (The Ecumenical rank of a council is determined by a Christian Emperor who, as the leader of the whole laity, calls the Bishops from the whole world to declare the Faith to the whole world.) This happens as a Mystery because it is Christ who decides and declares the Truth, through the Bishops. For this to happen requires the free consent of the Bishops and the presence of the Holy Spirit. That is why the councils end with “For it seemed best to the Holy Spirit (presence of the Spirit), and to us (free consent of Bishops), and the Mystery is complete and the Truth is spoken. “For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.” This doesn’t require the acceptance of every Bishop or any particular Bishop. The Truth is not conditioned on the acceptance of all but all accept the decision if they wish to remain united with the Truth. Refusing to sign means refusal to accept the council as true and of Christ. Councils can prove false if the Bishops do not freely accept the Truth and are determined to proclaim a doctrine for political or other human purposes. These councils do not stand long and are rejected by Christ and His Church even if ecumenical. Falsehood cannot stand before Truth. The gates of Hades will not prevail against the Church or her Faith. However, each local church can fall into error and each local church needs to repent of errors that come in from time to time. Sometimes churches and groups of churches, like individuals, can fall indefinitely from the Faith initially through failing to repent and then when sin/heresy becomes ingrained, it is very difficult to find repentance again; the conscience is sheared. Although, there is always hope.

    Finally, I want to note that the Apostolic Tradition is both matter of doctrines and practice. A complete council must deal with both matters so that the Truth of Christ is properly “incarnate”. Hence, the necessity for the council of Trullo after the Fifth and Sixth Councils did not produce Canons. Practice is hedged by Canons as Faith is hedged by doctrines. Both are from Christ and are Divine and hence unchanging. They both protect the Apostolic Tradition given once and for all. Not adding or subtracting from it or changing any part of it.

    Well, this is how I see the model as working. I am happy to hear any thoughts are critiques of this.

  21. William B says:

    How does the Orthodox model address the questions which give the Catholic model its explanatory power and intuitive appeal (who’s in charge, where does the buck stop, what if bishops contradict each other, etc.)?

  22. acolyte says:

    Ok, just saw my own reminder.

    Incidently, you find in Tertullian (not a father) and Ireneaus, among others the test for Catholicity. Namely comparing the teaching of the major sees. The one who teaches something contradictory to the others is teaching an innovation. Now, in Newmanesque style, if this were any other case, say Alexandria, Antioch, Ephesus, etc, teaching something unique, would you hesitate to say it was an innovation? No.

    Why not with Rome then?

  23. acolyte says:


    Let me take a post from another venue from Fr. Patrick. I don’t think Fr. Patrick will mind me commenting on his post to illustrate what I am talking about. Fr. Patrick’s post I think outlines the Orthodox position very well and I think it has a good deal of explanatory power. That is, it enables us to explain all of the high language about Rome and at the same time citations like the ones I have given. I will try to bring out the connections with Trinitarianism, specifically the essence/energies distinction.

    On January 21, 2007 at 9:14 pm Fr Patrick Said:

    “I think that there is an importance of primacy in Orthodox(Catholic) thought. This primacy is properly referred to as Petrine Primacy and Rome is certainly a centre of this primacy. I also believe that the structures of the Church as regulated in the Canons are not merely practical implementations but reflect and maintain important theological understandings of the Church.

    This is that there is one Bishop, who is Christ. All Bishops are in a Mystery the concrete presence of Christ in the Church in His capacity as “high priest”, “teacher” and “master”. There is no Christ of Christ and rightly no Bishop of Bishops. The Roman Catholic system gives the impression, whether or not it is formally taught, that the Pope has an exclusive, or greater, manifestation of Christ compared to the other Bishops; he is set apart as “The” Vicar of Christ and somehow a “Christ of Christs” or Bishop of Bishops.”

    Me: Each Bishop is the icon of Christ and CHrist is energetically and hence personally present in each of his icons. His personal presence relates both to the divine person but also to the person of the bishop in so far as he aligns himself with Christ. This is why tactual succession (ordination) is a necessary condition but not a sufficient condition for a bishop.) Hooking this up to the E/E distinction, the divine persons of the Trinity are fully present in each of their energies/activities. Their full presence is not a reductionistic one, so that being present in this act doesn’t imply being not present in this other one. Furthermore, all of the energies/activities are interpenetrating because the divine persons form the “link” between all of them. The persons unify the energies so to speak but without reducing them one to another or to the essence. Consequently in ecclesiology, all of the acts of the bishops, when in synergy with the truth are the activities of Christ, which is why their judgments can be infallible.

    Now, to think that this can be true for only one bishop, Rome, is to mistake the energies available to a See with the personal use of them, as well as confusing by an absolute identification the See with the person. This runs parallel to identifying all of the energies with each other as well as identifying them with the essence, as is done in the Latin doctrine as developed by Augustine & Aquinas.

    “Having said the above, it may be asked how do we have a multitude of Bishops if there is only one Bishop? The answer, I believe, comes from primacy. All Bishops are the same being from the same Christ.”

    ME: Here I think Fr. Patrick rightly detects the unity given by the divine person of Christ in ecclesiology. Christ is the principle of unity in the episcopate. The many logoi are united in the One Logos. Christ unites all of the energies without reducing one to another and/or to the essence. Thus is it possible for all of the bishops in the true faith in Jesus CHrist to be infallible. Primacy then of Rome is *IN* synergy with other bishops, and by Rome, I do not limit this to the one place of Peter’s relics, but with Alexandria and Antioch. And this is why I thin ksay at Chalcedon it was Cyril’s teaching, not Leo’s that acted as the touchstone to ORthodoxy. Leo’s tome had to match upw ith Cyril’s teaching. This is why the council appointed a study group to find out if it did or not. This is also why the other sees were identified with Rome as “one See.”

    “However, Christ gives Peter the keys to the Kingdom alone (initially but later to all the Apostles) to show that gift is one and given wholly to one. It is not given in parts to a team of Apostles but it is given whole to one. This signifies that there is one Bishopric not many different Bishoprics. However, it would be impractical for one man to physically oversee the whole Church in the world so there are appointed many Bishops to do this, all sharing the whole gift as did Peter and succeeding him in holding the keys.”

    ME: A friendly corrective, I think Christ gives the keys to all of the Apostles in giving them to Peter since Peter is the leader of the Apostles.

    “To ensure that the oneness of the Bishopric is maintained Bishops are organised into groups with a definite head so that they speak and act as one. The head gives this focus, although he is not above the others and acts not alone but with their unanimous consent (majority voting is a system of economy for the weaknesses of man but not the true modus operandi of the group, which is to act all as one).”

    ME: Consequently, this is whys ay Cyril could act as the head of the council and why at Chalcedon Leo’s Tome had them to be tested against the teaching of Cyril. This is why Catholic readings of the Tome’s aceptane had to try to turn this on its head, as if Leo’s Tome was the automatic standard. Cyril enjoyed, personally because of his true faith, the energies which then made his teaching on that point the touhstone of ORthodoxy. This is why I think the Church in council has traditionally marked off key texts of various teachers, Athanasius, Cyril, Maximus, et al as official teachings of the church.

    The idea is that the many and one are not opposed to each other or subordinated one to another but are synergistically related-in the Trinity and in ecclesiology. The Papal view now strains to throw off the subordinationalistic connotations and yearns for a view where the one is in the many and the many is in the one without sacrificing the absolute preminence of the one. I think this is what is going on in Liccone’s answers to argue that the Papacy doesn’t suck out all of the significance from each bishop. I don’t think their metaphysical and methodological committments will let them do it though. Because there is no philosophical method or metaphysic adequate to capture a full mutual and personal inter-penetration of the energies without reduction. The debates over Monothelitism and Iconoclasm demonstrate this. This is why I think it is nonsense to speak of say Cyprian’s “change” in views from looking to Rome to then thinking that every bishop was Petrine in proclaiming the true faith. This explains well how bishops, even large groups of them under the jurisdiction of Rome could excommunicate the bishop of Rome without flinching. The See and the person occupying it were distinct.

    “These groups are then structured to one which is at the head of the world, i.e. the Bishop of Rome as the centre and voice of Church unity. He is located where the whole world looks, the capital of the Empire, (although this wasn’t practically true; it carried this sense for the Roman people and the symbolism of the position is what is important) and he reflects to the world the Bishopric of Christ. When the Empire gains another capital the Church follows this and appoints another centre of Church unity equal to Rome, although Rome is respected in age.”

    ME: I don’t think most people grasp the significane of Constantine’s moving of the capital. The point was not lost on the Romans. The founding of ancient cities or a polis, placed the major ancestor gods of the city, from each tribe in the center, signaling a unified political authority. Constantine in moving the capital is in effect re-founding Rome on an entirely new basis for political authority, namely a Christian one in his own person. This is why the sacramental character of the Imperium was so important historically.

    Moreover, the mutual interpenetrating and personal use of the energies explains well how Rome, Antioch, Alexandria and Constantinople could then be seen as being united and yet distinct. This is how each church is entirely the church and not a part of a wider organism. The person of Christ is present fully in each part of the body. When the part of the body personally acts against Christ, it is cut off, withers and dies, because Christ no longer provides the principle of unity an life for it.

    “Constantinople does not replace Alexandria as second but rather shares first place with Rome as the New Rome. It shares the same place as Rome but reflects the unity of the Church to the Eastern Empire as Rome does to the West. This models Peter and Paul. Paul who joins the Apostles later shares the place with Peter as the chief Apostles the centre of unity of the Apostles. Peter displays this to the Jews and Paul to the Gentiles. Both share the same headship although Peter maintains the honour of time and the Primacy is named from him. This division into two does not negate the primacy of one but helps to remind us that the unity is Christ and not the human establishment in itself.”

    ME: Here you can see how the “sharing” ties in nicely with the energies. More than one can be energetically infallible without negating or being opposed to the infallibility of the other. This is what I meant by ecclesiastical synergy. The Papal view, depending on it does on Greek metaphysics, or now just about any metaphysic, has a hard time with this, because God is pure act, one act and only one activity. The Many are appearances of the one, the one Form. Liccone’s take doesn’t strike me, even if we put aside criticisms as getting around this or really answering the objection. It mirrors very nicely Plotinus’ discussion in the Enneads of the generation of the Soul from the One and the Intellect. (Notice obvious connection to the Filioque) The idea from Plotinus and others goes something like this. Each level of generation is wholly its own even while it is a lesser effect of the preceeding causes. While this may grant a kind of legitimacy or stability to the effects, it still does not move the objection, because the legitimacy or stability of the many is only so because it is the very same power in diminished form of the One. The One is present all the way through every level. This means that for Plotinus, all of the differences between objects is really illusory or a pragmatic requirement-it is how we have to talk, but really everything is the One. Likewise, every bishop on the Papal scheme has legitimacy qua bishop because of the presence of the One Bishop in their own episcopate.

    Now Catholics will object that each bishop is bishop even apart from the Pope, which is why you can have schismatic though valid bishops. Therefore, my analogy fails. I don’t think so and here is why. Each bishop, just as every level of emanation in Plotinus is distinct because of its causal deficiency, which is why, qua deficiency, no lesser level can be absolutley identified with the One. The same goes here. Each bishop on the Papal scheme qua ecclesiastical deficiency is independent, which is why a bishop outside of Rome is still a bishop but deficient qua bishop-he only is completed in unification with Rome, even though he is subordinated. If the subordination didn’t exist even in communion with Rome, it would follow that every bishop was the pope and this is because the metaphysical basis for the theory can’t allow for identity without reduction and *REAL* distinction at the same time.

    “This primacy is not about internal jurisdiction within Dioceses but about the witness and action of the Church beyond these boundaries. It is right for Rome and Constantinople to supervise missions outside the territories defined for other Bishops, regions, or Patriarchates.”

    ME: This is correct and you can see this in the dispute with Saint Photios. If Roman jurisdictional claims were de fide, then other sees would have it, for they all had the same faith, and the Pope would not have need to ASK Saint Photios for jurisdictional rights over Bulgaria and the Slavs. He would have already had it.

    “Their jurisdiction is universal but only as a point of appeal and supervision of matters pertaining to the witness of the Church in general when the Church needs to speak as with one voice and mouth. It does not mean jurisdiction within the jurisdiction of other Bishops, groups or Patriarchates but only on matters of world wide concern with the consent of all other Bishops (through the tiered structure).”

    ME:This is why Alexander of Alexandria dealt with Arius as a regional matter and why only later did it require a council, rather than merely a Roman judgment because it spread across so many episcopal jurisdictions.

    “It is natural for other churches to model themselves on these universal witnesses of the Church. This witness is of the whole See and not only the Bishop. The primacy is found in the See and not the Bishop himself, although the Bishop being the head of his See is the focus of the witness.”

    ME: This is why you find such lauditory language about Rome uniting it to the deposit given to it by BOTH the Apostles, Peter and Paul, representing the unity of the Church’s mission-Jew and Gentile. This is the signficance of the relics of both the Apostles being at Rome. This is why the theology of Icons and Relics is part of the question and since those theologies depend on the theology of God, the papacy cannot be separated from Christology, Triadology, the essence/energies distinction and hence the Filioque. That is, you can’t have a correct theology of Relics and their extension, Icons, without the essence energies distinction. The same goes for ecclesiology. They are all tied together.

    “So, other churches soon model their liturgies and church practices on these central Sees. The Liturgy becomes uniform as do forms of music and art. Uniformity is not necessary in these matters but the oneness of the Church tends to bring this about and part of the maturity of the Church. (I believe it is wrong to diversify what is now uniform in the Church because there was variety in the early Church; variety is not wrong but I believe that it is not the mature way of the Church.)

    Although, the political reasons of the granting of Primacy have gone the structure, decided by the Fathers under inspiration of the Spirit to structure the Church as Christ would have it, remains until the return of Christ who is the same yesterday, today and forever and who doesn’t change His mind ordering one thing and then another, although He allows for concessions due to human weaknesses. Free-will is always paramount and Bishops and even entire Sees can fall into heresy, so there is no guarantee that one of the Sees of Primacy will always be in the Church, although I think there is some special grace in this and somehow one or the other of the Sees of Rome or New Rome has remained faithful to Christ most of the time.”

    ME: Here I think Fr. Patrick’s intuitions about free will are right on the money. Grace is not opposed to nature so that the divine powers given to bishops, much like in baptism, have a dual component, if you will, that relative to nature and that relative to person. This is why the Fathers at at least two councils didn’t even flinch in either sequestering the Pope or condemning him as a heretic outright. The dignity of the See qua Apostolic deposit and relics does not guanratee an absolute unity with the currant occupant. Each bishop has to personally align themselves with Christ teaching the true faith. This is why development of doctrine is such a threat to the true faith. It makes it a matter of debate, the eternal dialectic of reason as to what the faith is. If the faith does not develop, then it is a far easier project to know what has been passed down. This is why I reject the notion that homoousia at Nicea was a development or had clarificatory import. It would only do so if the Fathers in the council had a specific notion of identity and essence in mind, one with positive content, but they didn’t. Like Chalcedon, the key terms are apophatic. This is why it is absurd and why absurdities always result (like the medieval realist/nominalist debates over the trinity or the new Social/Anti-Social Trinitarian debates today) from importing positive philosophical content to terms which were entirely apophatic. Nicea developed nothing. Adherence to the Faith is a personal and free adherence to what was delivered. That is why it is called TRADITION.

    “So, each Bishop contains the fullness of Christ in the Mystery of the Bishop and yet one Bishop is shown forth to the world to demonstrate that the Church is one with one Bishopric. This Bishop does so because he is a Bishop just like the others but because he is (was) at the centre of the world (Empire) and he carries the primacy demonstrating the oneness of the Bishopric and the Church.”

    ME: Here you can see the sharing of the energies in the episcopate, as well as a real synergy with the Empire. This why as far as theology goes, charges of Caesaro-papism are abusrd. It would have required a theology that was wedded to the Greek notion of simple essences, where one dominates the other.

    “The Church is not an amalgamation of many parts neither is it reduced to one concrete See but it is one and the same throughout the world. This means that all local churches are equal but also that one can be chosen from the rest and shown to the world as the “ideal and complete” church, truly representative of all the churches and of the Church.”

    ME: Again, the many energies are really distinct metaphysically and yet perfectly united without reduction in persons. Here the parallel to the Trinity is obvious. The Son in the economy reveals the other two divine persons without implying an inequality of essence. One bishop can represent the rest without implying a subordination and a deficiency in the rest. Equality and plurality are synergistically related.

    “Well, this is my opinion on the matter of primacy. I am not sure if the ideas are fully coherent but it is a solution that I have been working on to understand and incorporate all the Fathers western and eastern without having to discard any of the opinions. The system has been abuse over the centuries and misunderstood for the sake of power etc but I believe it remains, at least in the books, as a testimony of the true nature of the Church which is One and yet manifested in many.”

    ME: This is exactly what I have been trying to make clear. The Papal account plays down and rationalizes contravening evidence or simply denies it and prohibits any further discussion by invocation of authority. This is why Protestant polemics focus on the contravening patristic data.

    I hope that helps. Thoughts?

    Don’t forget Tertullian/Ireneaus.

  24. Death,

    I agree with much of your assessment considering contemporary Orthodoxy in North America. However, I wouldn’t consider Kimel and Liccione rhetorical frauds. Kimel I think still has some branch theory in him in which he considered both Orthodxy and RC true churches. I think this motivated somewhat his decision, especially since Orthodoxy does not share Rome’s reciprocal relationship of what constitutes a true Church. So, it was natural for him to go to Rome. Liccione, I believe is probably a born and raised Catholic, and the fact that he is committed to philosophy as a hand-maiden partner with theology, should not surprise us why he defends it. From his point-of-view, he knows no other way, and to him makes more sense. It takes a concerted effort to throw off one’s “Augustiniainism,” I have to catch myself at times. We live here in an Augustinian world, from social structure, to business management and political theories. That in-grained thinking runs very very deep and is attractive.

    An out-right fraud makes one a Gnostic. Gnosticism, is principally a technique of subversion. And I don’t think they are trying to do that. It has already been done for them many years ago.

    Hahn I don’t know much about and never have discussed anything theologically, so I won’t say anything.


  25. Death Bredon says:

    Unfortunately, contemporary Orthodoxy in North America often seems to go out of its ways to hide the fundamental, ontological differences it has with Latin Christianity on put its light under a bushel. Perhaps this is motivated by ecumenical diplomacy or ethnic obscurantism. But, whatever the case, often only those that have the personal capacity to dig deeply (e.g., Drs. Pelikan and David Bradshaw), or those sufficiently educated to digest the later, can see the rhetorical fraud of Roman Catholic populists such as Scott Hahn or Kimel or Liccione. Also, the uber-Orthodox internet nasties can put people off the Gospel very quickly by preaching a pharasitical perverion of Orthodoxy with all its concomitant venom. I often think that SCOBA needs to hire a slick, New York PR firm to help it proclaim the true Gospel in the contemporary North American context, as the Orthodox themselves often seem clueless.

  26. Inquirer says:


    If you wouldn’t mind, would you mind explaining a bit how to “hook up” the essence/energy distinction with ecclesiology which makes the papacy a “cognitive misfire.” I believe I have a pretty decent understanding of the e/e distinction, but I haven’t seen/made the ecclesiological connection, but now I’m very interested.


  27. Rob Grano says:

    Interesting, considering the brouhaha that was raised over Fr. Reardon’s ‘pondering’ from a few months ago (and that wasn’t really even about DoD!)

  28. acolyte says:


    Yes and yes. I cited Louth in comversations with Kimel and Liccione. The response form them and others was the usual startled response. “Hmm, maybe there are a few who deny development of doctrine.” This is what occured when I brought up ADS originally. It moved from that to, “ok, the majority of Orthodox deny ADS…” I just think it shows that people aren’t as well informed as they take themselves to be.

  29. Rob Grano says:

    Perry — the Chadwick book, then, is more of a survey than an indepth study? Still, I imagine the references and bibiliography are good. It is pricey though, even in paperback, so I’ll probably just get it from the library.

    Did you ever get to read Louth on development of doctrine in the Pelikan festschrift? I haven’t seen any RC comments on it anywhere yet either.

  30. acolyte says:


    Most converts to Rome that I know, their “looking into” amounted to reading Ware’s book and one or two other popular works, and that was about it. I hear lots of people talk about “studying” Orthodoxy intently prior to becoming Roman, and yet, they are totally ignorant about the distinction between essence and energies, Christus Victor view of the atonement, how the Orthodox view the sacraments, etc. How do you “study” Orthodox theology and miss all this stuff on Divine Simplicity and the Critique of Dialectic? I didn’t and I wasn’t even looking for it. Hell, I stumbled on to Farrell’s book on Maximus at a Greek Church Festival. I think it is a lot simpler to just believe that these people never gave Orthodoxy a serious look. It was more like a speed bump on their way to Rome. The same goes for the owner of Cathedra Unitatis, who ignored all of my questions, which were non-polemical and non-rhetorical. It is obvius to me and others that he is still thinking in a theologically Latin mode so big suprise that he is going to Rome. I don’t know how you can grasp the essence/energies distinction and not hook it up with ecclesiology so as to treat the Papacy as a trump card and disconnected from it and Trinitarianism. If the e/e is true, the papacy is a cognitive misfire.

    I simply don’t know how people “study” it and miss all of these and other things.

    The tone is meant to be pointed. I am rather peeved by people in the blogsphere who act as if they can just toss out a few quotes ripped from their historical context, offer no analysis and no argument and then claim that the quotes mean what they take them to mean or that there is no qualifying material from the Patristic corpus. If things were as simple as these Roman apologists make them out to be, there never would have been a schism in the first place or at least it would not have lasted 1,000 years. This is why they constantly, either by implication or expliclty state that the problem with the Orthodox is that we are “inherently schismatic,” stupid or sinful. Frankly I am more than a little tired of it.

    So, I thought it was more than fair to provide Orthodox readers some ammunition to toss back, citations that I know aren’t in the popular defenses of the papacy, and some that don’t even make it into works by Rivington or Chapman. Stuff their mouths with footnotes I say. The fact that they don’t even attempt, as with the citation from the 5th council, to deal with it, shows that all these people have done is stacked the deck, they have only read works on one side of the story which is the usual Protestant modus operandi.

    As for Scott Hahn, if you read his comments about his understanding of Orthodoxy, they signal a deep an abiding ignorance of it. Clark Carlton was right to fry his ass about it. He and others, didn’t take Orthodoxy seriously and didn’t spend a tenth as much time investigating it as they did with Rome and they say as much. Why? Because they are and have characterized themselves as between Protestantism and Catholicism. That dichotomy is so ingraned in their minds that you get the silly statements like “I could never be Orthodox-I am a western christian.” Well golly fricken gee, Orthodoxy isn’t about geography, greek food, your Papoo, or any of that stuff. If Orthodoxyis true, it shouldn’t matter where you live. Besides, Jesus founded an Eastern religion-just ask the Eskimos.

    Such is my free rant for the day.

  31. Annie says:

    Most converts to Rome that I know who are reasonably smart have looked into Eastern Orthodoxy. I am not the smartest and I am not the dumbest either. I read things from both sides. At this point I know that there are many good scholars on both sides. I have seen good arguments from both sides. The tone of the title seems to me to have a nasty edge to it. For the record I wouldn’t want the EOC to be put down in a title like that either!

  32. William B says:

    I am working on a post outlining the basic argument of Satis Cognitum:

  33. acolyte says:


    And the same goes for Scott Hahn. How much time and effort do you think he made in looking into Orthodoxy? By his own confession, not much, not very much at all.

  34. acolyte says:


    True, but my point was that people get convinced by popular works in a less than intellectually virtuous way. If someone is going to make that big of a decision based on a popular work, they must be limiited in means, either financial or intellectual for such a judgment to have any exculpatory value.

    The operator makes enough and talked a good enough game that she could have easily taken some time to be fair and read both sides.

  35. Annie says:

    Dear Acolyte,
    The women from St Joseph’s makes around 8 bucks an hour. If you asked Fr Hugh Barbour or even Scott Hahn I know you would get something else. That isn’t the only book out there.

  36. acolyte says:


    yes I have read it. The review is accurate. The only problem is that the chapters are rather brief.

  37. Rob Grano says:

    Has anyone read Henry Chadwick’s “East and West”? The reviewer in the Eighth Day Books catalog (whom I assume is Warren Farha, who’s Orthodox), states it’s a very fair and balanced treatment, not only of the schism, but of the entire history that lead up to it, and pays attention to the smaller, less-discussed issues.

  38. Death Bredon says:

    As Fr. John Meyendorff of blessed memory pointed out, the Byzantine rhetorical praise of Rome can be understood as motivated by TWO underlying beliefs: (1) that Rome is inherently and a priori infallible, or (2) that Rome had at that point in time been remarkably faithful.

    Fr. John does to demonstrate that, further, the Byzantines oft believed that Rome’s remarkable faithfulness (though not perfect by any means) up to and before its Franko-Germanic Cluniac capture was do to the mystical power of the presence of St. Peter’s bodily relics.

    Hence, the Bishop of Rome was once THE Peterine Patriarch not by some charism of apostolic succession (Antioch and Jerusalem could claim that too) but by virtue of the Holy Spirit working through the relics of St. Peter. And when the Bishop of Rome should eve chose to cooperate with the Holy Spirit again, he could become THE Petrine Patriarch again. But he is not so a priori and irregardless of his faithfulness to the consensus patri.

  39. acolyte says:


    That is exactly the point. The matter isn’t as simple as those over at say Cathedra Unitatis seem to think it is. They lift quotes from sources that they have never read and then deploy them in such a way that anyone who disagrees is either sinful or stupid, which is how they often treat the Orthodox.

    The fact is that we have to take both sets of citations seriously and provide an adequate analysis of them and then propose a model that explains both. I don’t think that she whose name shall not be spoken here, and those like her in other venues either can or do do that. Any twit can spoof text.

    The matter isn’t as simple as they would like to make it seem. Perhaps it does seem so to them because as I suspect they only read full treatments on their side of the fence. So you see repeated references to Dom Chapman or Luke Rivington, not any references to say Puller or Edward Denny’s works.

    I recall that at one time I ordered some materials from St. Joseph’s Communications. The operator taking my order discovered that I was not Catholic and she told me to read Jesus, Peter and the Keys and I wouldbe convinced. I tried to tell her that it just wasn’t that simple. She insisted. So I made her a deal. I will read that book, if she will read Edward Denny’s, Papalism. She agreed.

    Jesus, Peter and the Keys is a fairly popular and therefore sloppy work, an exercise is cherry-picking if ever there was one, and a bad one to boot. In any case, she never repsonsed to my inquiries. Go figure.

  40. Joseph says:

    I, for one, would like to understand these quotes as a humorous reaction to recent posts on the “new blog,” where certain people feel the need to list every single patristic quotation that contains the word “Rome.”

  41. David Richards says:

    Matt, without presuming to speak for Photios or Perry I think their point is that the Fathers of the Church did not all hold to the primacy of Rome in the way it is now understood. If we can get a handle on what St. Basil says here, that the letter of Rome should be “true and confirmed by facts,” then we can interpret other patristic quotes, which use flowery language in praise of the Roman bishopric, as praising Rome for her alignment with the truth. In other words, the Fathers did not unaminously agree on a specific definition of papal primacy (which includes a primacy of authority) and again, Rome was praised for her Orthodoxy, not SIMPLY because St. Peter had once presided over her.

  42. Matt says:

    Hello Photios and Perry,

    I hope you two are doing well. I am confused about this and the other Saint Basil post. Is the purpose to show that the East, at least at times, rejected the role of the Bishop of Rome as the West currently understands it? If so, how is that “breaking news” so speak? Doesn’t everyone more or less agree that is the case? Don’t most people recognize that as one of differences that led to the Great Schism? If so, then shouldn’t this post really be about why Saint Basil is correct, and the West wrong, rather then merely posting the quote as if that somehow ends the discussion? I must be missing something here…

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