Grand Moff Tarkin Appears!

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.


Some questions I have.

What is the dogmatic status of “absolute predestinarianism?” What is say the difference if any between it and say Molina and Thomas?

Why is it that the Eastern Fathers speak of the union with God in terms of the whole human being and Augustine (and Thomas) primarily in terms of union between God and the Soul?

If Catholicism is also committed to the union with God along holistic and Eastern lines, what is the dogmatic status and formal authoritative definition of that union between God and the physical body?

If certain aspects of Augustine’s system had to be purged, in what sense do they qualify as corruptions? And to what degree are doctors of the church theoretically committed to these corruptions like say, absolute predestinarianism?

Why isn’t the language of God causing us to believe no longer problematic for Moeller and Philips?

Is the habitus in us the causal effect of grace and hence different from its cause or is it identical with its cause, which would be the divine essence?

Why do we need to define habitus in terms of power vs impotence regarding humanity in order to stave off Pelagianism?

If the habitus is “produced” by God, is it eternal or in what sense can the divine essence be produced or be a candidate for being class as an effect, since the authors state that “the habitus is the result of this?”


  1. I have now been officially and post facto notified that I am banned from Kimel’s Pontifications blog.


  2. Some time ago I was reading through Pontifications archives and was almost shocked at how friendly things were back then. I caught the blog farily early in its development — though by no means at the beginning — and had forgotten about the more collegial atmosphere that prevailed at one time. I still remember Fr. Kimel becoming a Latin Catholic and everyone congratulating him (even those who disagreed). Perry was refered to as a “brilliant graduate student” or some such compliment. Granted, there were certainly some very hot moments, but there was also some sense that everyone was on a journey together and what united people was greater than what divided them. That could just be vapid idealism but I remember Bloom saying something similar with regard to Aristotle and Plato. In any event, it seems a pitty that things have degenerated to such an extent between various posters. Personally, I am surprised things got this far.

    On a more positive note, I still think the original Star Wars movies are great; however, the prequels left much to be desired in my mind. Sigh…


  3. What were the reason(s) given for banning you from Pontifications, Perry? Quotes?


  4. David Richards,

    Does the Monad need reasons? None were given. Though I suppose the ones Kimel gave in the past about “Orthodox polemicists” apply to me. Of course, he permitted me to post unhindered for a month.


  5. Matt,

    To a large extent what you say is true. Though as Owen White noted some time ago, that blog era died. Kimel seems to have tied his committment to Catholicism to his personal identity in an unhelpful way such than any criticism of the former amounts to a criticism to the latter. i could be wrong, but that is the way it seems to me.

    Of course to be effective, Kimel would need to remove all of my writings against Protestantism and Sola Scriptura specifically, which he seems to rely on more and more to get hisapologetic work done. I see the traffic I get from those archives.

    As far as strategy, it is obvious that Orthodoxy is the only serious objection to Catholicism and vice versa. This blog and others which articulate a coherent and sophisticated theological model pose a serious challenge to Catholicism since we strip away the typical caricatures of why people should convert (smells, bells and prettier pictures). So it is obvious why Kimel needs to either toss us into the pit of flames or show that Orthodoxy doesn’t offer anything unique and Catholicism does. I think the former is laughable and the latter is demonstratably false.The entire line of Orthodoxy says “no” or “either/or” and Catholicism says “yes” and “both/and” is nonsense. They say “non” to plenty of Orthodox teachings and practices.

    No model that Liccione or anyone else in the literature has even mapped onto the Orthodox view either in terms of the essence energies distinction, which they FINALLY admit is not the private opinion of some Orthodox but the teaching of the Church or in terms of God as not being pure being. Nor has there been any significant advance on the Filioque since everything Liccone has done ignores or subverts the Nicene and Cappadocian teaching that God is not being and so necessity is not predicable of God at intra, not to mention the idea of persons as relations in the first place. Here he and others are inventing theology rather than preserving it.

    This is nothing personal. I’d still gladly sit down and drink a pint (hell, i’d buy him one) with Michael. I am with him on many moral issues as well as throwing a few gross heretics on the pire. An apology from Al would be nice before hand, but I could be persuaded to over look it if the beer is good enough. 😛 In any case, I think Al has simply taken his toys and gone home. i think that is a bad move since insular practices only weaken one’s apologetic abilities and arguments. Just look at the Muslims.

    In any case, Kimel has lost the irencism he desires in others and become the Pope’s man, that is to say, a sectarian.


  6. Perry,

    Now I do not feel so alone in cyberspace. I was banned after refusing to repent of my “Triumphications” post. It is pleasing to know that I am in such good company.

    It seems that Ponty takes particular offense at the fact that Orthodox agree with ++Bartholomew when he says to RCs that “the manner in which we exist has become ontologically different.” I find this tritely doublespeaked, considering that the whole project of Pontifications might be seen as an attempt to show that the RCC is ontologically different from the Anglican tribes. What I also find interesting is the insistence of our neo-Cath interlocutors that there are these nice, irenic, Orthodox out there who do not believe such things with regard to the RCC. Fr. Freeman is oft mentioned in the same breath. I think I have read most, perhaps nearly all of what Fr. Freeman has written on the Internet, and his writing causes me to assume that he would agree with ++Bartholomew’s statement, even if Fr. Freeman would not be so explicit about it. Perhaps I am wrong. I seriously doubt that Fr. Freeman would overtly disagree with ++Bartholomew’s statement. Most irenic Orthodox I know simply withhold such public statements, while still believing them. Of course, the classic neo-Cath response to such public rhetorical restraint is to condescendingly wax on about how “someone as good, and nice, and irenic as so and so would not embrace such polemical/backwards/unecumenical/hysteric jargon.” But, of course, the thing is that most of them believe the content of such jargon, even while they refrain from its public use. Of course, others appeal to an agnosticism with regard to the jargon, but then they use more round about ways of saying essentially the same thing – the manner in which we exist has become ontologically different. There are very, very few Orthodox, cradle or convert, of any jurisdiction, who are regular communicants (or regular service attenders in those places in which regular partaking does not occur) and who disagree with this statement. I find childish those who view the rhetoric you and Daniel use against Anglicans to be gleefully acceptable but find it rude and polemical when you use the same tongue against their own camp. If it is fair and honest for us to say that we believe that there are ontological differences between Orthodoxy and Anglicanism, it is fair and honest for us to say that we believe such with regard to the differences between Orthodoxy and the RCC. But, as you suggest, only the Monad determines what is polite, what is proper, what is meet and right…. Continue your good work, and thank you for it.


  7. Kevin,

    I would recommend in fact the opposite, namely to keep reading and asking questions. The best medicine for those who wish to prohibit questions is to ask more. It is akin to the solution to the Mohammed cartoons-don’t remove them, make more of them.


  8. Ben,

    Its a joke. Humor happens. I figured after the personal voice conversations over the last three years I could crack a joke.

    Now laugh.


  9. Perry (and All ye Banned),

    I myself continue to experince that Orthodoxy cannot be accepted in bits and pieces. It’s either all true or it is from the very pit of hell and to be rejected outright, the quicker the better.
    What I believe Mr. Kimel and the other Romans are experiencing is the gradual unfolding realization that the Orthodox Faith and those who hold it are not going to suddenly “wake up” and get the Roman position which to them seems so gracious, them being willing to meet us half way and all, but us refusing to budge even a step in their direction is maddening to them.
    I would say that this is healthy. It is not healthy(for them) to continue to engage
    us in conversation, run across the occasional Orthodox who really doesn’t see why we’re debating the points we are and simply wants “everyone to get along, it’s all the same after all”.
    The Orthodox Church stands, as always, as a hospital for the healing of the human person. Her medicine remains potent for the destruction of the old man and the creating of the new man. Orthodoxy is not where one can come to “pontificate” and this is why the Church must be rejected by those that insist She can “be fixed” or improved. In a sense, I believe, the Orthodox Church is “the last house on the block”. When all else fails, when all my best ideas exhaust themselves, then maybe I have a shot at allowing the Physician to operate. Until then, I’m still too well to avail myself of his ministration.
    Continue, I would urge you, to write this blog as you do. For one day, many of our RC friends may come to the Orthodox Church and praise God that she did not budge from Her course, seeing that their previous desire that She do so was nothing other than a manifestation of the fickle and ever changing whims within them to bend Reality to suit them.
    We may all very well be surprised at what transpires in and through us as we simply continue to hold fast to that which we have received, as we continue to be a simple Orthodox.


  10. Perry, I understand the sentiment, but my reaction is not simply theological. Why should such behavior be tolerated? You’ve made innumerable valuable contributions to the commentary at Pontifications for a long time, and to be summarily banned because GASP you’re really truly actually Orthodox, is simply rude. Others may find value in such an environment, but I don’t. I have more than enough books that I need to catch up on that one less blog to read is a blessing!

    I admire the breadth and depth of your philosophical learning, and am amazed that you have so fully internalized it as to clarify very difficult concepts quite concisely. It’s a real talent, or ten, and shouldn’t be buried. I hope you’ll continue your own pontifications, or whatever you wish to call them, here.


  11. Perry, you need to quit this blog and get your a** in gear putting this stuff in books and journal articles like Bradshaw (I say this with tounge firmly planted in cheek, well maybe I think this a little bit). O ya, maybe the dissertation should be done first (im sure wife would concur).


  12. I suspect you were banned for having so frequently made an obnoxious ass of yourself. Your “jokes” and “questions” were constantly used as a way to belittle people and positions and to dismiss arguments or sidetrack conversations. How often were you answered point for point only to respond with rows of rhetorical “questions” which you clearly intended to be devastating but so often came off as a dodge.

    So much of your devastating critiques is mere grandstanding. You know so much less than you act like you do, and your rear end has been handed back to you plenty of times on Pontifications and elsewhere, but when this happens you either resort to “jokes” and “questions” or simply leave, only to return later, or post here, as though the victory was all yours. Many people have demonastrated that you make hasty overgeneralizations and rash sweeping judgments and directly false statements about everyone from Aristotle to Newman, and it never fazes you.

    I’ve been watching the “debates”, mostly from the sidelines, for a long time now, and Kimel’s move seems long overdue to me. My bet is that you were finally banned, not because he’s excessively defensive in the face of Orthodoxy, but because it takes a lot of time and effort to carry on a debate with you which in the end is completely pointless and even destructive, given that you throw yourself your own little triumph-parties whichever way the discussion actually went, with such rhetorical force that people who aren’t capable of judging who’s right and wrong in either the logical or historical issues are suckered into thinking you’ve pulled something off. And you can be really nasty about it.


  13. Where are the Catholic defenders? Has Perry routed them from the field? I never thought Perry was rude, then again I don’t think Belloc is rude. What are the best books from each side of the Catholic/Orthodox Controversy?


  14. Ben,

    I was too dismissive. I apologize. Here is what I was thinking. If you read the blurb on Tarkin’s character, he has an unfailing devotion to the emperor and uses a devastating weapon to silence opposition. This seems a little like Kimel using censorship to silence critics of the Papacy, but this won’t have the effect that he desires. Moreover,s ome time ago, Kimel statted that if the Pope was demonstrated to be in error on some teaching, he would believe it anyway. This was a phone convo in which I cracked a joke and I was taken aback by his seriousness.


    I got tired of explaining things to people so a better way was to ask questions to get them to think through the issues themselves. I was attempting to be more Socratic. My questions therefore had a belittling effect on those who were quite over confident and dogmatic, which simply revealed that in many, though not all cases, people didn’t know what they were talking about. So my questions weren’t a dodge at all. They were meant to get people to think, which is obviously a difficult thing to do.

    Asking questions also seemed to be better in so far as it allowed others to speak for themselves and articulate and reference authoritative sources. This had the added benefit of making others do some of the explanatory and argumentative work.

    Asking questions also forced those who claimed to be informed about Orthodoxy to make good on that claim. I only made certain claims about Catholicism when I was fairly sure from authoritative/represenative sources that such and so was the case. In other places I would preface my comments with statements like, “It seems to me to be the case that…” Such was not the case with people pontificating about Orthodoxy. I don’t for example go to sources akin to Fr. McBrien to make my points about Original Sin, but Kimel consistently goes to fringe or non-representative sources, even professional papers which he self confessedly hasn’t read, touts the supposed outcome as if it vindicated him, when after having read the actual paper it didn’t. Such was the case with the blog entry which he co-opted a while back from Leithart on theosis vs. theopoesis. Kimel was grasping at straws and was uninformed all the while giving his readers a false impression. That is inexecusable.

    It is nothing less than outright deception to represent yourself as informed about a major tradition like Orthodoxy and make claims to the effect that the teaching of Palamas is pious opinion or that the essence/energies distinction is one of many options or a mere epistemic distinction while dismissing someone who is calling you on it. The fact is that those there who claimed to be informed about Orthodoxy weren’t for anyone who spends any serious time investigating Orthodoxy would have come across a sufficient amount of material say from popular publishers like Ligh N Light to know such claims to be false, even simply looking at the major feast days, since St.Gregory is the only person to have TWO FEAST DAYS. How someone could represent themselves, and that without any admission of error such that they are intellectually impenitent and be taken seriously is beyond me. The fact is that they never knew much of anything substantial about Orthodoxy in the first place which says about the current strategy to convince people that Orthodoxy offers nothing unique in comparison with Catholicism. Bellermine would be proud.

    So, Sir, complain about my rants and occasional mistakes all you like, but I am not a liar.

    It seems strange to me that I was literally enlisted with numerous private emails to comment on that and at least 6 other blogs to demolish Protestant arguments when it served the purposes of Catholics. Somehow they only complained when my guns were turned on them. I wasn’t the one who gathered all of my Pontifications comments on Sola Scriptura or Private Judgment into a single blog post. I actually declined to write more on the subject, even after numerous invitations to do so. If any thing my comments directed at Protestantism were far more caustive than anything directed at Rome. Don’t dine with the devil and then complain that he screws you.

    I got so tired of people who have a hang up with this or that scandal going on among the Anglicans. I don’t care anymore. I am not a Calvinist or an Anglican anymore and the fact that people spend oodles of time keeping tabs on such controversies I think is indicattive of a sickness. If an Anglican wants to know why I think they should convert, fine I will tell him, but I am not an Episcopalian anymore. I converted. Spending your time venting your anger at people who are part of an insutution which hurt you is bad for you as well as others and possibly implies plenty of worrying things about the original basis for the conversion.

    I also got tired of the virtual free insult card that a certain ineffable harpy seemed to possess. She who must not be named made over generalizations about sources she self confessedly never even read and never would, consistently imputed the worst possible motives to those who dissented from her vast and deep ignorance, and who never did anything to substantial move the conversation forward. If people wish to ban me or people like Owen White, then they should have long since banned that woman who received a brain translplant from a denizen from the 9th circle of hell. I don’t even see such intellectual vice in my undergraduate students.

    My leaving the venue was due to time constrictions. I actually have to work and support a family and go to school. The blogsphere isn’t my life. So I wasn’t pulling a brave Sir Robin. That said, sometimes I did over generalize but on the whole no more than anyone else did and no more than was inappropriate for a blog entry. Exaggeration at times serves to make an effective point. The word hyperbole exists for a reason. In any case I have made mistakes and I have tried to be direct when I have done so. It does no good to drang things out. If I thought I was wrong, I would just admit it. Even when I didn’t think I was wrong but could see the plausibility of the opposing side, I would let the matter die by writing “Fair enough.”

    As far as time, given the complexity of the issues, it should take a long time to have a discussion with anyone about it. Anyone who doesn’t is either ignorant or is duplicitous.

    As for Triumph parties my defense is, first, it is my blog. I’ll scream if I want too. If you don’t like what is on TV, change the channel. Moreover, Triumphications was host to not a few triumph parties against Protestantism, both with and without me. Kimel and others shouldn’t create the context and then complain when it cuts against them.

    Besides, if I honestly think I am right, then why am I not entitled to say so? All the more if I am in fact right, which I also to happen to think. Such posts here serve to articulate the reasons why I think I am correct and so give people a more complete outline for thinking so.

    If people aren’t capable of seeing where I am wrong, then that is not my fault. That is true in any venue. But it seems you are frustrated that I mislead people. I confess I am worried about this possibility all of the time. On the whole, I think I am right, and I think I have just as good as ground for thinking what I do as people who believe in the Papacy for example. What you need is to deal with your frustration over the nature of the world and not my pe rsonal faults. To enlist the Stoics, if you really knew me, you would have listed far worse things about me than you did, which means that your criticismes are at best superficial, even if true.

    I happen to think the substantial ones aren’t. Am I arrogant? Cocky? Yup. You betcha. My faults in those areas are pretty easy to see and usually people are offended because I have simply stepped on their excessive pride a la Lewis. In fact, the arrogance is an effective tool to humble those who are instransigent in making glarring false claims. The only way I got people to admit that the Filioque was inserted for Frankish political advantage was by beating them over the head with it. The only way I got Kimel to recognize that the essence/energies distinction wasn’t a mere pious opnion, that ADS was a significant source of disagreement, and that the Latin Augustinian tradition was significantly in error on Predestination as a consequence was by being so blantant about it. The advancing of the conversation was gotten by labor, not legerdemain.

    If you think it was in fact demonstrated to me without my admission that claims from Artistotle to Newman were false, then here is what I recommend. Cite for me what i wrote and then the demonstration in the most blatant and best case you have. If not, then I have no way to correct my mistakes. If I admitted the error then, then there is nothing for you to be frustrated and complain about.


  15. Lee,

    If you think Perry was nasty, you need to go read the Fathers. Modern sentiments with regard to dialogue and debate are hyper-sensitive, enough so that my grand-mother would probably snicker.

    If the questions are answerable, then they should be answered. Neither Perry nor I have ever ducked questions in the manner that they have. Besides, if Kimel wants to write set-up pieces (like the one he did on Original Sin) about the Orthodox, you must think that we are some sort of fool to not critigue and ask questions of his presentation. Bottom line is this: Don’t write set-up pieces about someone elses views (or understanding of views) and not be able to take a hit and answer questions. Finish what you started. If it can’t be finished at the moment due to an interlocutors lack of knowledge or inability, that is one thing, but don’t wimp out because you are frustrated with your own inability. It’s far more respectable to give the answer: I don’t know, than to bluster and pout.

    BTW–What game have you been watching?

    I don’t think you really know the history here, or at least what you state here doesn’t seem to show that. Kimel wasn’t capable of carrying on a “debate,” because he was plainly and simply ignorant of Orthodoxy (and of Catholicism for that matter when he was an Anglican) which is why he tried to rally in other folks (even an Orthodox like David Hart) against Perry. His understanding of the differences was only surface level, which is why he always maintained that they were compatible and that Catholicism absorbed what Orthodoxy had. Instead of listening to what the differences actually were and being pointed to the literature that backed up what we were saying, Kimel brushed it all aside. Somehow the pipe dream had to be compatible and somehow, someway Perry was wrong (for whatever reason). Kimel is simply a poster boy for Rome now (witness his picture he displayed some weeks ago on his blog).

    Also, be aware that if you wish to carry that tone on this blog, you won’t be banned, but I won’t hesitate one moment removing your comments.



  16. Post Removed by Photios:


    I’m not censoring you for failing to discuss things of a theological substance or pertaining to a theological question, I’m censoring you because you’re here to talk trash. A principle of gnosticism is ad hominem and prohibit questions, none of which has been done to you. Critigue and ask as many questions as you would like, but don’t try to trash talk on my blog with this propaganda. I don’t take well to anonymous posters with an attitude.



  17. Lee,

    Why not provide examples of where and how Perry misrepresented views, was shown to be wrong, and simply ignored it, instead of asserting it then backing off and looking like an ass who does just what he accuses his interlocutor of doing? Pardon my bluntness, but I recommend you read the original article in which Perry presented his argument against Papism and Protestantism via Absolute Divine Simplicity. He was direct but not uncharitable, and the response he received was, how you say, dismissive and fallacious. I am (and Perry, Photios, et al are) not blowing smoke. He said, “Here is the argument”; such intellectual powerhouses as Robert Hart, and those who rallied behind him, responded with “hogwash,” and other choice synonyms for bullshit.

    Perry was consistently accused of setting up a strawman of Franco-Latin theology to knock down, an accusation which usually remained undemonstrated, and it was implied that he probably had not read the right stuff because few had little if any clue what he was talking about. Furthermore, he was patronized as some zealous convert who had an interest in proving the Papists wrong; his argument was hardly addressed directly. The Triumphicites were shown to be grossly ignorant not only of Orthodoxy but of their own tradition. My personal studies have time and again confirmed that Perry and Photios are by and large correct in their overall conception if not critique of Franco-Latin theology. (What, by the way, have *you* been reading that indicate Perry has caricatured the opposing side?) So even if Perry is wrong, he is not alone, certainly among reputable Orthodox scholars and THEIR critique of Western theology; and when he tried posting irenically he was met with sometimes very rude opposition, which only then forced him to pull out the more well-read card and to show he really knows what he is talking. So where, oh where, has Perry repeatedly dodged counter-arguments which showed his own interpretation of the Fathers and the scholastics to be mistaken? Simply ducking out at this point is a lame if not all too convenient tactic. We could only assume that you are full of crap.

    Look, I am perfectly aware that Perry can defend himself and that he needs neither my nor Photios’s help. This is only to indicate that others on the outside looking in do see it his way and that if you had taken the time to read the ORIGINAL argument (without assuming the tone he adopts later) and the initial knee-jerk reaction it garnered by those who all but responded directly to what he was saying, you might be a little more understanding in your criticism of Perry and his “approach.” The truth has been revealed about the Papist Triumphicites and it is that they care less about truth and more about conformity to what Perry terms the “Monad.” It is the Robber Synod of Ferrara-Florence all over again: Saint Mark of Ephesus, pray for us!


  18. Hi Lee,
    just a thought or two. I am coming at this as an Anglican who is seriously looking into both Rome and Orthodoxy and have been very carefully investigating Kimmels and Perry’s site. So by and large I dont yet have a dog in the fight (even though I do personaly know perry from SLU). My training is in analyitic philosophy, I have an MA and I did some Grad work in Theology. I teach Logic, Intro to Phil., World Religions and some other philosophy courses at colleges/universities in the STL area, so I hopfully know something about historical and philosophical reasoning. And I just have to say, you must not be reading the same blogs I am (Kimmels and Perrys) because the picture I am seeing is very different than the one you are. If there is any thing I can say about Perry (he certainly is pugnacious about it sometimes for reasons I think he articulated pretty well in his comments) is that the guy knows how to track an argument down both hisotrical and philosophicaly. And I just have not seen where Kimmels and Liconne have beaten his arguments down as you claim (by and large). I have tried to carefully look at each of their arguments and responses. I have tried to put their arguments into the form of formal arguments (as a philosopher would do if he was preenting an argument for a conference) and then follow the arguments in point counter point form, and the truth is that by and large Kimmels arguments frequently commit either red herrings (he never actually addreeses the issue raised), they are strw men (meaning he critiques only a carachature of Perry’s argument), he begs the question (assumes his conclusion in his argument) or does something like special pleading. By and large Perry is carefull not to commit these common fallacies. Believe me in some ways I don’t want to end up Orthodox so I am looking for something, anything in the way of philosophical or historical arguments trying to rebut or defeat his claims (being Roman in the Rome of the west, thats STL, where I live, would be so much easier) and its just not there, at least not from Kimmel and Liccone.
    For example, Perry and I were both in Elenor Stump’s Aquinas metaphysics seminar at SLU. Now if you don’t know Stump is a world class (Roman Catholic philsopher) Aquinas scholar (few would dispute this). Her absolute simplicity arguments are as good as it gets. The point is in all of the discussions with Kimmel (I have seen at least) on this issue, Perry nails (i) the Thomist argument for simplicity (ii) the philosophical remifications of it and (iii) the histolical development of the argument, and (iv )what is most important the fact that this doctrine has absolutely shaped large swatches of Roman doctrine. Kimmel has slowly capitulated to this point by Perry’s incisive persistence in the midst of Kimmels suspect responses. And we could go down the list of disscusions they have had where kimmel either disregards, begs the question or just does not have the philosophical chops to deal with Perry’s arguments. Now I am not saying Perry has everything right and that Kimmel did not get some things right (I still think some kind of an appropriation of Newmann’s development via Hart’s method might be justifired within an Orthodox take, but I leave this open). So just be carfull and give some credit where credit is due.
    Thanks Nick


  19. P + P,

    There is one time I remember you two dodging a bit. Perhaps I am off here, and you may not recall it anyway, but Mike S. wrote a pretty long post defending ADS on Kimel’s blog a WHILE back. I think Perry blew if off at the time as the Thomist position with some Scotus gloss or something like that, but given the amount of time he put into it I think Mike S. deserved a more thorough response. Your silence also led to a great deal of frustration on his part I believe. Just a thought.


  20. Nick,

    Have you ever considered Eastern Catholicism? That isn’t an “easy road” either but I think it has a lot to commend it.


  21. Matt,

    Yes, I remember that. I don’t quite have the knowledge of Scotus to take Michael S. on in that exchange. So, to do him justice, I’d have to do more reading on Scotus. Michael S. presented a very difficult position which is not easily understood, nor is the thinker (Scotus) in which he represented easily understandable. It probably would’ve been best if I stated that from the get-go. At times my competitive nature gets the best of me.

    On the other hand though, I think he would have a difficult time getting into the Person-Nature distinction and trying to maintain and explaining just exactly what the difference is between a Person and a formal attribute in God. If all these things in God are just formally distinct, what distinguishes attributes from persons, persons from essences, and attributes from essences? Furthermore, without this type of Person-Nature distinction that we maintain in Orthodoxy, are all the formal attributes necessary for God qua God? How are they employed, with respect to creating, if all are necessary for God to be God? I just don’t see a Christian view of Hypostasis, which would carry out and safe-guard such a function. I think we would be in the same boat with respect to this question if God was just essence and energy (and energy being a property of the essence). In Orthodoxy, each cateogry is distinguishable from the other in which none of them could be confused with the other. There are properties that are only proper to persons and properties that are in common among persons. In Scotus’ view, what really is the difference between a “personal property” and a “formal attribute” that is shared in common? Is it just another formal distinction? I guess I don’t see why there would be a difference.

    I don’t believe those concerns were ever addressed. Michael S. seemed bound up on the question of how something was ‘identical’ in God and formally distinct in God.



  22. Matt,

    Fair enough. I did not respond to Michael Sullivan’s attempt to defend Catholicism via Scotus. I had planned on doing so, that is showing why Scotus won’t help and even if I did that my argument was still significant.

    Here is the run down I gave essentially at the time.

    First, even if Michael S’ take were correct and Scotus’ Formal Distinction did all the work he claimed it could, it would still be the case that Aquinas was wrong and seriously so. That by itself is both historically and philosophically significant.

    Second, the Formal Distinction in Scotus is notriously difficult to cash out, both informaly and logically. So I am doubtful that so much weight can be put on it.

    Third, divvying up the attributes formally only moves the question from essence to act since Scotus doesn’t think that the formal differences amount to different acts qua divine being. So we have only moved the problem but not solved it so that what remains for me is to produce a new formal argument but instead of identity of essence and identity of activity yeilds the same unwanted conclusions. I don’t think that is too difficult to do.

    Fourth, my wife got pregnant with twins and became bed ridden. That summer I became Cinderella, so answering Michael S in detail wasn’t possible. Perhaps this summer, but in any case that wasn’t a case where I stated something obviously and demonstratably false or ran away.


  23. P + P,

    Thanks for your thoughts on the subject. Just so you know, I wasn’t trying to play “gotcha”; it just strikes me as important to be fair all around in these discussions. I’m the only one who should get to engage in special pleading 😉


  24. Matt,

    Gotcha or not, I am interested in trying to answer questions as best I can. You are responsible for your own actions and me, mine. Usually I try to respond dispassionatly the first few times. After that, it gets my Irish, Italian, German, & Scottish up.

    So you are quite right. It is important to be fair. I try to be. Sometimes I fail, like everyone else. I try to put aside the motives of others and just address the content. This was the case with the questions I asked on Kimel’s blog above. I think anyone can see that they are significant questions. Even someone like Jonathan Prejean with whom I have serious disagreements, and he with me, thinks I at least ask good questions. Just look at his entry for April 23rd.

    So I think Kimel was wrong to ban me. But such is life.


  25. Matt,
    yes as a matter of fact I have given it some thought but I am still fairly ignorant of the Eastern Catholic picture. I know there is only one Byzantine Catholic church in STL and don’t know much about it. I would need to look into exactly what its relation to the Latin Rite is, and most importantly what do I have to sign off on theologically to be an EC in good standing. Its turning out that there are some RC doctrines that I just can’t in good conscience sign off on, that seem to be (as far as my study has brought me to this point) aberations from the Nicene-Constantenopelian formulations. For instance, can an EC bishop/preist teach his parishoners a capadocian/Maximian/Palamite synthesis of the major doctrines in the area of soteriology, christology, eucharistic theology or is he bound to the Latin Augustinian/Anselmian/Thomisitic framework? These are the types of questions I would need to look into. Any suggestions? It may turn out it would be a good middle ground for someone who is approaching the point of losing hope that the worldwide Anglican project can work.

    Derek, that might be interesting, I am affraid if I did one I would not be in the same ball park as this one. Plus, I still have a lot of learning to do and maybe should limit myself to comments on other peoples blogs, we will see.


  26. Hi Perry,
    First, I would like to express my regrets regarding your current misfortune. Much as I like Pontifications, I think this will prove to be an imprudent move in the long run. I really enjoyed reading the Orthodox-Catholic exchanges there and am saddened by the fact that this will probably come to an end. I think the response was a bit harsh.
    Second, I would like to ask you a question in all sincerity and charity: what is the purpose of conducting these discussions? I’m not being sarcastic; I’m dead serious. Do you believe it is possible that Orthodox have something positive and beneficial to learn from Catholicism? Catholics in general certainly seem to think that way about Orthodoxy. I think the majority on both sides would agree that the current situation regarding the two Churches is unacceptable. The division of Christendom is the direct cause of secularism and the continual erosion of our society. Even more importantly, it impedes the spread of the gospel. Without unity, Christendom cannot stand up to secularism, immorality, or Islam, neither can she win souls. I, as a Roman Catholic, believe that I can consistently retain my Eastern Christian heritage, and that I can benefit from the thoughtful reading of certain Protestant theologians. But none of this changes the fact that I am a Catholic. Nevertheless, Catholics and Lutherans have made great strides toward unity with their joint statements on justification. The emerging consensus seems to be that both sides were to blame for the results of the Reformation, that dogmatically the two are ultimately compatible, and today there are many Lutherans who do not see any problem with a reunified Christendom headed by the Pope. I simply cannot understand why their cannot be similar moves on the Orthodox side. Someone characterized Rome’s attitude toward the Orthodox as “wanting to meet them halfway.” However, it is my opinion that this representation is not accurate, for the basic reason that Rome does not consider the Orthodox to be in heresy, nor does she demand even that the Orthodox accept post-schism dogma in any kind of exclusive, absolute sense; all Rome desires is mutual recognition of the non-heretical nature of both Churches, with the Pope as the center of unity. Is that so much to ask from our brothers? I understand why the Orthodox are offended by the various Western additions to the Latin translation of the Creed of Constantinople. But Orthodoxy needs to come to grips with the fact that Western Christendom did not have much direct contact with the East after A.D. 476, and its canon law did not develop along the same lines. By the same token, it is unfair for modern Western scholars to condemn Photius for being “uncanonically” elevated to the patriarchate, when no canon law in the East condemned the manner in which it was done in his case. If it could be shown that the Latin “filioque” was ultimately compatible with the Greek “dia tou Huiou,” would you accept it? If you have decided before the conversation begins how it is going to end, why discuss the issues in the first place?
    Once again, I mean no disrespect by my comments, and I hope that you will not be offended by them.



  27. Sophocles,

    Thanks, here’s my intro:

    Though coming to be Orthodox happens in bits and pieces, the progression is one of incremental acceptance of her teachings and practices, or one has to turn back. When I initially encountered Orthodoxy, I pretty quickly identified it as my heart’s desire and came to, sometimes painfully, realize that where I disagreed, I was wrong and had to throw out my previous misconceptions. I have subsequently discovered however, that my Protestant circle who I thought would see it as I did when they discovered Orthodoxy’s vast previously-hidden treasures, didn’t. There was some initial interest, but then one by one most hit a wall and turned back.

    I like how Sophocles described the wall, in the context of dialogue with Roman Catholics, in his comment in Energetic Procession, a blog which brilliantly and philosophically clears up muddy water that we’d sadly gotten used to.


  28. Drew,

    The purpose of these discussions is simply this: conversion to that faith that was held and worshiped by East and West before the Frankish advent.

    In all sincerity to you, and I say this whole heartedly, I believe that the **methodology and thinking** that underlies the filioque doctrine to be the source of significant Western errors, not only on the most important doctrine in Christendom (the Trinity), but also ecclesiology, sacramental theology, the debates on the Eucharist, and predestination. Indeed, I believe it to be the sickness of religion and not its cure. I believe it to be the same methodology that produced Christological errors such as Arianism, Nestorianism, and Eutychianism. Now this is not popular that I say this and I mean nothing personal toward you (my two best friends are Roman Catholic and still are).

    Dia tou Yiou is not equivalent to the dogmatic filioque doctrine (though it IS compatible with the West Orthodox “filioque” of Ambrose, Hilary, Gregory the Great, John Scotus Eriugena, Anastasius the librarian, and most venerable Pope St. Martin. Yes, they’re indeed were TWO filioque doctrines in the West, with one that emerged later “that gave old terms, new meanings,” by the Franks. For the correct meaning of Dia tou Yiou, you can look at my paper on this website on Gregory of Nyssa or look at the dissertation done by a Roman Catholic scholar Dr. A. Edward Siecienski: “The Use of Maximus the Confessor’s Writing on the Filoque at the Council of Ferrara-Florence.”



  29. One little subtle thing I’d like to add. Notice I said conversion to “that faith.” That’s as far as I want to push the discussion. Where one goes to church, is for there own conscience to decide based on practical, linguistical, marital, personal, and locational matters. This might actually piss off a few Orthodox, but it does allow the West to be the West. Change the mindset of the people, protestants and especially conservative Anglicans, and you’ll change how they pray, and then they’ll be Orthodox. And canonical Orthodoxy would not be able to accept them on any other terms other than a recognition of their Orthodoxy (in which case all they need is a Bishop with Apostolic Succession, and I mean the Orthodox version). This is why I do not take aim at Orthodox minded people like Steven Todd Kaster (who is a fellow contributor to this blog, Eastern Catholic), Death Bredon (Anglican), and Dr. Daniel Dunlap (Anglican).



  30. Photios,
    Thank you for answering my question. I appreciate your honesty, forthrightness, and directness. One thing I (still) admire about the Orthodox is that they tell it like it is. I guess I just don’t see the post-schism Western tradition so rigidly. Personally, I am more interested in philosophical debate than conversion (at least of the Orthodox). My life’s goal is certainly not to convert the Orthodox, nor is that the RCC’s goal. But, given the number of Orthodox who are convinced that it is, I won’t try to persuade them to believe otherwise. Ultimately, people are going to believe what they want to…even Calvinists! 🙂
    Just out of curiosity, how are you defining “conversion?” I understand conversion to mean “being formally received into a specific communion/church/religion” in general and “being baptized in the name of the Trinity” in particular. I had already been sacramentally baptized when I was received into the RCC. I suppose one could call it a conversion, and there was a sense in which my faith was modified, e.g., acceptance of the Immaculate Conception, Papal Infallibility, etc., but I do not think that what I did constituted “conversion” per se. I think you are understanding conversion in a more intellectual sense than the tradition(s) of either East or West would allow.
    As I said above, I admire your honesty. Now I am going to be honest: I think your view of the ecclesiological impact of the filioque in the West is just as narrow and extreme as Karl Barth’s view of the impact of its absence in the East. Maybe someday we’ll have to discuss Lossky’s argument, but I have to say that I am agreement with Yves Cardinal Congar’s conclusion (Cf. I Believe in the Holy Spirit, vol. 3) that there is little basis for seeing an ecclesiologcal/ecclesiastical impact of either the acceptance or denial of the filioque. That being said, I am extremely interested in reading the two papers you mentioned…would you be willing to include links to both of them in your next post? I would really appreciate it.
    What is the pre-schism and (somehow) Orthodox-Western view of the filioque which is somehow acceptable to the East, and how does that differ from the later Western doctrine promulgated at Lyons and Florence? It seems to me that there aren’t very many options, and I am curious to read your response. I have the instinctive feeling, though I could be wrong, that you will attempt to read the Palamite distinction back into the Latin Fathers just as Orthodox commonly do the Cappadocians. Then this will land us back into some arcane discussion of “divine simplicity” and how the post-schism West supposedly worships some Greek deity, blah blah blah. The Crucifixes of our Lord that I see everywhere in a RCC parish tell me otherwise. In any case, I am hoping that this is not the route you will take in your response. My own view of the matter, which “just happens” to be the view of the Magisterium of the RCC as well as virtually all RCC and even Protestant theologians who have written on the subject, is that the filioque is simply a “Western” expression (and it would have to be Western because the formula would not make sense in the Greek, contra Barth) of the consubstantiality of the Son with the Father. The fact that the Son is “of one being/essence/substance with the Father” is the common (and not just neutral) basis for discussion between RCC and EOC on this subject. Even from an Augustinian-Western standpoint, the filioque has severe limits as a dogmatic formulation. The RC tradition (including Augustine and Thomas Aquinas, and Petavius, Thomassin, Scheeben, Schmaus, Rahner, Kasper, etc.) explicitly recognizes God the Father to be the sole source within the Trinity, and this is what the Eastern tradition has always held as well. The Son is not, then, the “source” of the Holy Spirit in the same way that the Father is, but the phrase “and the Son” seems to imply the opposite when read in isolation from other dogmatic statements. Not even the “single principle” dogma of Florence contradicts the fact that the Father is the sole source within the Godhead. The Lutheran theologian Wolfhart Pannenberg has suggested that the reason the West felt constrained to formulate the communion of the Father and the Son in the Spirit in these terms was that it (like the East) restricted its view of the divine relations to that of relations of origin. This forced the West to repeatedly attempt to understand the Trinity in terms of the Father as the sole Subject (modalism), and the East to understand the Father as the original bearer of deity in the fullest sense (subordinationism/tritheism) and not just the first hypostasis of the deity. If the divine relations are expanded beyond mere relations of origin, the problem disappears. If you haven’t read his “Systematic Theology,” I would highly recommend that you do so. You might be surprised.
    Anyway, this post has gone much longer than I originally intended, and for that I apologize. I look forward to reading your response.

    God bless,


  31. Here’s a post filed under “Church Fathers” which also has a link to Dr. A. Edward Siecienski’s: “The Use of Maximus the Confessor’s Writing on the Filoque at the Council of Ferrara-Florence.”on the subject:

    And if you google “Dia tou Yiou’ you can find Daniel’s paper on Gregory of Nyssa which I can’t read from my mac apparently. When I have more energy, I’ll read it from my pc.

    Having just read the post and comments, I’m leary of keeping the filioque at all for all the misperceptions it allows. It seems to diminish the personhood of the Holy Spirit and makes Him seem more like a magical energy. I can see the point of how it emphasizes the consubstantiality of the Father and the Son, but it again seems to diminish the Holy Spirit’s consubstantiality as it makes the two in control of the actions of the one, instead of the Son and the Spirit in subjection to the will of the Father. But that’s just my perceptions of how it’s explained and as I’m not familiar with all the philosophical rules and use of terms, I don’t know if I’m right.


  32. Andrea
    Unfortunately the link didn’t work…the article in which it was found was quite interesting, however. When I have more time I will read Daniel’s paper…thanks for the info! I understand your concerns about the filioque…I have given the matter a great deal of thought, and I would have to say that, as a Roman Catholic who does not believe the doctrine expressed by the clause to be heretical, I am in favor of its deletion, to prevent misunderstanding. All in all I know what you mean…you probably have the same feeling about the filioque that I do when I hear Lutherans replace the word “Catholic” with “Christian” in the Apostles’ Creed. Drives me nuts. Even in the Roman Rite, however, the Latin version of the Creed in which the filioque is included is dogmatically, theologically, and confessionally subordinate to the original Creed in Greek. Whatever the filioque means, it absolutely cannot mean that the Father is not the sole hypostatic source of the Spirit. Thanks again for the links!


  33. Nick,

    As someone who attends a Melkite parish I can probably provide a bit of help. Also, Todd is Ruthenian I believe so he can probably assist as well. Let me pull some something together.


  34. BTW, I believe Geroge Lucas may have had the last of the Roman kings, Tarquinius Superbus, i.e., Tarkin the Proud, in mind when developing this character of the Death Star governor. One of this king’s men had a sort of contest with two other nobleman (one of whom was named Brutus) over which of them had the most virtuous wife (from a Roman standpoint). It was decided that the friend of Brutus had the most virtuous wife, for she was the only one of the three tending to the needs of her home while the other two were neglectful. While he was away from home, the king’s henchman asked if he could stay the night at her home, and when she showed him the guest quarters, he violated her. When her husband returned, she told him what the king’s henchman had done to her and then stabbed herself in the heart out of shame. This indecent act sparked a revolution that united the patricians and the plebs against the king and from that point (509 B.C.) until Julius Caesar (44 B.C.) Rome was a republic (though not a democracy). All of the great Roman wars were fought by men, but for the honor of their women. Interesting parallels between the story and the movie…as well as great ammo to fire in the face of the political correctness crowd!


  35. Eastern Triadology, unlike the Scholastic philosophical theology of the West, is focused first and foremost upon the monarchy of the Father, Who is seen as the sole principle, source, and cause of divinity. Now, it follows from the doctrine of the monarchy of the Father that both the Son and the Holy Spirit receive their existence solely from Him, i.e., that He is their sole source and origin; and so, they are — as a consequence — “homoousios” with Him. Moreover, it is important to remember that the word “homoousios” itself, which was used by the First Ecumenical Council of Nicaea in order to describe the eternal communion of nature that exists between the Father and the Son, is a term that indicates a relation of dependence. In other words, the term “homoousios” involves recognition of the fact that the Son receives His existence as person (hypostasis) from the Father alone by generation, and that He is dependent upon the Father for His co-essential nature. That being said, it follows that the Son comes forth from the Father’s person (hypostasis), and not from the divine essence (ousia), which is always absolutely common to the three divine persons. The same also holds with the personal procession (ekporeusis) of origin of the Holy Spirit, because He also receives His existence from the Father alone, i.e., from the Father’s person (hypostasis), and not from the divine essence (ousia), which — as I already indicated — is absolutely common to the three divine persons [see St. Gregory Palamas, “Logos Apodeiktikos” I, 6]. Thus, it is from the Father Himself personally that the other two persons of the Holy Trinity derive their eternal existence and their co-essential nature

    Now, with the foregoing information in mind, it is clear that the Eastern Churches must reject any theological system or theory that tries to elevate the Son to a co-principle of origin in connection with the existential procession (ekporeusis) of the Holy Spirit as person (hypostasis), because within Byzantine Triadology a theological proposition of that kind entails either the sin of ditheism, which involves positing the false idea that there are two principles or causes of divinity (i.e., the Father and the Son); or the heresy of Sabellian Modalism, which involves proposing the false notion that the Holy Spirit as person (hypostasis) proceeds from Father and the Son “as from one principle,” thus causing an unintentional blending of the persons of the Father and the Son, by giving the Son a personal characteristic (i.e., the power to spirate the Holy Spirit as person) that is proper only to the Father.

    God bless,


  36. A quick interjection:


    Fr. Josiah Trenham says ‘hello’. I guess the two of you go back.


  37. Photios,
    Thanks for the link! The download for the Greek text is doing wonders for one of my papers…I’ll be sure to read it this week. Thanks again!


  38. Drew Johnson says:

    “…… with the Pope as the center of unity.”

    In this phrase I think you demonstrate a misunderstanding of how the East has always viewed ecclesiology. You are asking for something that we do not have the ability to give.


  39. I am a layman in Fr. Freeman’s parish. He happens to be close friends with Fr. Kimel, and I suupose this friendship comes from being Anglicans together. The fallout over at Pontifications spilled onto Fr. Freeman’s blog, and there was a lack of understanding expressed about why the discourse was less than irenic. They just don’t understand.

    Theology, for those who come here and elsewhere to debate it, is more than just a search for God and truth, it is a sport. That’s not criticism, it’s an observation. I believe there was a colorful metaphor offered about a month ago of a mother bear dragging wounded kill back to the den for the cubs to play with; used to describe this blog.

    I love it. I do not apologize. The search for truth is nasty, and requires an individual to question themself and shred every weakness in every theological/philosophical construct in existence. As such, the people who have attached themselves to a weaker position find themselves the hunted.

    Fr. Kimel put himself out on the internet, which made him fair game to be hunted and dragged back as a playtoy for the cubs. He entered the moshpit, only to cry because he got hit. Boo-hoo.

    The irenic won’t be comfortable here. The higher purpose of truth sometimes gives way to theology as a sport; it’s just the way the game is played. It’s like fighting in hockey, it’s just part of the game.


  40. Don,
    You wrote “you are asking for something we do not have the ability to give” regarding my comment on the possibility of the Orthodox regarding the Pope as the center of unity for the Church. I’m really not sure that I understand your objection:
    1) “Center of unity” is vague, and deliberately so: I was making room for the “Ratzinger formula,” thus broadening the horizon beyond a mere “enter the Latin Rite or die in heresy” idea that the Orthodox seem to have regarding the Vatican’s ecumenical efforts. What is your opinion of the Ratzinger formula?
    2) There is a clear difference between giving and receiving…the Pope does not need to be given anything by the Orthodox to be what he is: the successor of St. Peter and guarantor of orthodoxy and catholicity. I am proposing that the Orthodox accept the Pope as such, not that they give something.

    You seem to have quite a Darwinian view of theological discourse. I’m really quite shocked at the harshness of your statements. I mean, come on! This is the twenty-first century, and theology is not jihad!
    However, if you have anything of any substance to add in any future posts, I will be glad to discuss them. I prefer civilized debate and the honest search for the truth, not the destruction of my opponents. Surely, as a follower of Jesus, this is something with which you can, perhaps, sympathize. Perhaps.


  41. 1. The Ratzinger formula is vague. At which point in the 1st millenium? After Photios? After Charlemagne? Chalcedon? The very words of the Council of Chalcedon mean different things to Benedict and the Orthodox. The fact is that how Rome has always seen itself is not and has never been how the rest of us see Rome. Benedict may be a nice guy, but he’s old and will die soon, and our ecclesiology rests upon more than one old man’s heart.

    2. Metroploitan Maximos, who was an invited guest of V2, says it best, “Rome has but one Bishop, the rest are just altar boys.” (it may have been said elsewhere, but it was in his diocese I heard it) The Orthodox Bishops will never accept a subservient role to Rome; and we won’t let them. You think Benedict guarantees orthodoxy and catholicity, which is why you are RC. We think he can guarantee neither, so we are not RC. We have an entirely different prism through which we view orthodoxy and catholicity.

    “Darwinian view of theological discourse.” How accurate. The weak get eaten here. I come here to observe the carnage. These boys do their homework here. I read, post a blurb here and there; but I tread lightly as I see I am but a very well read novice. I am not defending it, advocating it, or championing it; it is just a fact of life that exists that high level theological discourse has a sharp edge to it. If you don’t have the stomach for it, find calmer waters. Fr. Kimel ran into a bigger, smarter, nastier, and hungrier shark named Perry and became fish food; Darwinism at its finest. Perhaps next time he’ll do his homework a little better.


  42. Drew,

    For Orthodoxy — as I understand it — Christ in the Eucharist is the center of unity in the Church, not the Pope (or any other ecclesiastical official for that matter).

    God bless,

    P.S. – As I pointed out at the Ochlophobist’s blog some months ago: “A Patristic ecclesiology of communion, which sees each local Church as the full realization of the universal Church through the celebration of the liturgy, is incompatible with the Roman universalist ecclesiology, which divides the Church into pieces that are only later juridically united through a concept of hierarchical communion with the bishop of Rome.”


  43. Drew,

    As an Orthodox I wish to welcome you here. Not that it is my place or blog to do so, but as a friend and brother groping towards the Master together, I extend my hand to you.
    You raise some suggestions towards rapproachment between East and West with assumptions about what that is that constitutes “orthodoxy and catholicity” to be held in common between us.
    Without wishing to be rude, I will be blunt. We could be in communion tomorrow afternoon at tea time, all being necessary the returning to the Orthodox Faith by Rome to be the guarantor and the resting place of that Faith which Rome shared with all the other Sees, the Faith of Saint Peter.
    This Faith, what it is, is not open to negotiation. And I believe you to be mistaken if you believe it possible for that Faith to remain ontologically what it is at present should that Faith allow in communion with itself that which is not itself, even on paper as the Pope proposes. Why, in my own private life, am I unable to prevent my taking on the charactaristics and mode of existence in varying degrees of those I associate with and then assume that on a grander scale, say, on the scale of 250 million in communion with 1.1 billion it would be possible, is simply impossible.
    I would bring to your attention, Drew, why the Church is called “Orthodox” to begin with. This is not simply a title but it describes Her Faith, Her worship, Her mode of being. Her Faith, as it is at present is as it was from the beginning. Her Faith is Uncreated and a gift to Man, Christ Himself fully present. Christ cannot cease being Christ. He cannot be other than He is.
    Photios and Perry on this blog and many other Orthodox elsewhere have spent considerable time and effort making known the history of the development of the Papacy. The papacy today is the creation of Charlamagne and the Franks, not the papacy held in such high esteem for its “orthodoxy and catholicity” by the other Sees at one time. To the Orthodox Catholic Church, the Roman Catholic Church is neither orthodox nor catholic and further, not even Roman, but that’s another story.
    An artificial unity would be a monstrosity. Unity must be sought after at the level of truth. The Orthodox call Rome back to repentance. Incidentally, this repentance is the same repentance the Orthodox call ourselves to as it is the entrance price to the Kingdom. Victories in the flesh, being right for the sake of being right, are short lived-and un-Orthodox.
    There is no need for philosophical debate, only need for conversion. The debates have sounded off for centuries and centuries. This may sound parodoxical, but pray, Drew, I say, rather for the Orthodox to NOT change and seek unity with Rome as she now subsists. A tragedy no greater could not be imagined.


  44. Drew,

    “…… with the Pope as the center of unity.”

    Is something neither the Orthodox nor the Oriental orthodox will ever accept. The concept of the Papacy being the axis of the Church and gaurenteer of Orthodoxy is something foriegn to the Eastern Churches, both Chalcedonian and Non Chalcedonian.

    I wonder why Catholics of whatever Rite see the orthodox position as intrasigent. i think the East will not accept any compromise of the Truth as she recieved it, for the sake of an institutional unity, whatever the benefits.

    The papacy as it exists today and the arguments made in support of it, a la Newman and his DD, are seen as foreign by the East.


  45. Nick,

    “I would need to look into exactly what its relation to the Latin Rite is…”

    Catholicism is a communion of Churches, the largest of which is obviously the Latin. Eastern Catholic Churches are sui juris Churches and are not under the Pope, but are rather in communion with Rome. The Melkites have their own Patriarch.

    “and most importantly what do I have to sign off on theologically to be an EC in good standing.”

    This is the multi-million dollar question 🙂 I am most familiar with the Melkites so I will discuss them. I’m less certain what the Ukranians, Ruthenians, etc. would say so I’m not going to venture into those waters. Todd may know more about that.

    There is no single Melkite perspective on your above statement. This can be either a good thing or a bad thing depending on how much variability you are comfortable with. In general, if you speak to Melkite clergy, they see themselves as holding to the faith of the East while being in communion with Rome. Most of the western councils are seen as legitamate but not binding on them. Thus, there is a good deal of discussion on the differences (as well as complimentary aspects) between East and West on original sin, eschatology, etc. VI + VII are generally accepted but within the context that the Melkites originally accepted them (…so long as it does not infringe on the traditional rights of the Patriarchs, or something to that effect).

    That’s not to say that everyone signs onto this. There are parishoners/clergy who are more Latin or more Orthodox, but my guess is the above is the majority opinion. I came to that conclusion through my discussion with priests and reading of The Melkite Church by Serge Descy. In my opinion you can go as far as Zogby in your Orthodoxy and still be a “good Melkite”. Also, the Melkites seem to be heading more East these days, so it’s possible Zogby’s view will gain in popularity. That is only a guess though. Personally, Zogby goes farther than I do.

    “For instance, can an EC bishop/preist teach his parishoners a capadocian/Maximian/Palamite synthesis of the major doctrines in the area of soteriology, christology, eucharistic theology or is he bound to the Latin Augustinian/Anselmian/Thomisitic framework? These are the types of questions I would need to look into. Any suggestions? It may turn out it would be a good middle ground for someone who is approaching the point of losing hope that the worldwide Anglican project can work.”

    Someone once asked one of my priests if he was a friend a Thomas. He replied, “I am a friend of Jesus.” 😉 I would say there is an appreciation of the West while understanding the degree to which East + West are different. And yes, St. Maximus is quite popular.

    Hopefully, that was at least marginally helpful. Please let me know if I can be of any other assistance.


  46. Alright guys, as much as I like being competitive and winning. I want Roman Catholics (or whoever for that matter) to feel comfortable posting here. Be tough, be strong, but listen to your interlocutor. If they don’t feel welcome and are uncomfortable, please reconsider your text and tone. Thank you.



  47. Nick,

    One more interesting tidbit: Melkite seminarians are sent to Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Seminary in Boston. There is no Melkite seminary in the U.S. unfortunately.


  48. Hi Sophocles,
    I appreciate the warm welcome. Unfortuantely I do not have the time at the moment to deal with all of the issues you mentioned, so my comments will have only a limited scope. Hopefully I will be able to post something a bit more substantive later this week. First, let’s the discuss the very title “the Orthodox Church.” Do you profess faith in this Church every Sunday during Divine Liturgy when the Symbol of Faith is recited? Does “The Orthodox Church” appear in any of the early creeds? Is there even an “Orthodox Church” or are there rather a group of Orthodox “Churches” who are more or less united by an abstract set of beliefs and practices? I don’t mean to be harsh…I do love the Eastern tradition and my brothers who are in the Eastern Orthodox Churches, but, that being said, the Orthodox need to come to grips with the fact that they are not nearly as united as they would like us to think. The situation in America alone is evidence of that, and I’m not even going to talk about the Balkans. What should we Catholics repent of that we haven’t already. We apologized for the Fourth Crusade, for heaven’s sake. It was over 800 years ago! No one alive today was even there, and when it actually happened, the Pope excommunicated the Crusaders. The various massacres of Latin Christians that occurred in the decades before the catastrophe in 1204 did at least provide some context for the sack of Constantinople. I’m not justifying what happened, I’m just saying that it didn’t come out of nowhere.
    “There is no need for philosophical debate, only conversion.” You talk like a Muslim! And speaking of Islam, we should watch and be very afraid of what is happening in Europe, because it will happen here, too. The division of Christendom is the lifeblood of secularism, and Islam is extremely attractive to the post-Christian, post-secular Europeans of the younger generations. The reason the Orthodox could not stand up to Islam is because they could not look beyond their own borders when they thought of the word “Church.”
    I think your statement to the effect that the papacy is the construction of the Carolingians is hilarious and demonstrates a lack of familiarity with medieval European and Byzantine history. There were many controversies that played a role in the developement of the papacy. I’m not sure why there are so many Orthodox who are convinced that the papacy and the Franks were the best of friends. On the contrary, the papacy was constantly trying to restrain Charlemagne, unsuccessfully, of course. It seems to have been completely forgotten that the whole reason the papacy sought the friendship of the Franks in the eighth century (before Charlemagne) is because the Byzantines were iconoclasts at that time. It was the Pope who stood by the iconodules while the Emperor and the Byzantine ecclesiastical hierarchy tried to stamp them out. And what about the Investiture Controversy? And the creation of the Dominicans and Franciscans to combat the Cathars and Albigensians? And the Cluniac reforms? All of these played a role in the development of the papacy. To reduce it to the Franks is simply ludicrous. This is why I am interested in philosphical debate: the arguments the Orthodox use to justify remaining in schism from Rome are for the most part fallacious, and I want to be able use my mind to practice my faith, not deny in practice that it exists.


  49. Matt, thanks for the info. At some point soon, I need to get two or three of the best texts addressing these issues (you mentioned one I might need to look into). Do you know what the offical RC position is in regard to what eastern rite bishops/preists have to hold regarding the RC catachism? Meaning do Melkite or Byzantine rite preists have to sign off on the catachism? I am guessing based on your response above that they may not have to because by and large the catachism articulates theology according to a traditionl Latin framework (I am well aware there have been many changes toward Greek and Syrian sources and some appropropriation of the Greeks theologically) which might be cause for some inconsistancy theologically. To give just one example of possible conflict, I am pretty sure I remember (though I would be willing to stand corrected if I have this one wrong) that the RC catachism articulates something like ADS and this would seem to be incompatabile with a cappadocian understanding of God’s simplicity. So if the eastern right churches have to sign off on the RC catachisim, it would seem they are not *really* free to hold to a Greek synthesis (at least at those points where the two conflicted). On the other hand, if the Melkite preists did not have to sign off on the RC catachism this would not be a problem. Is there some source that discusses these issues? I don’t remember that JPII’s document on the east went into this at all (but it has been a while since I read it).
    Thanks again for the help


  50. Drew,

    Barring a few virtuous theologians, the Franks were what I would call “moderate iconoclasts,” in comparison to the “extreme iconoclasts” in the East. That is, they took a middle position between Orthodox Rome and the Eastern Iconoclasts, in which religious art had a pedagogical function only. This they did this in spite of Rome and Bishop of Rome Hadrian. They played the middle ground to both split Rome from that “Roman-Byzantine” oikounomia and condemn BOTH positions depending on which position would finally win the day. This was ultimately, theology in the service of political agenda, much like the filioque doctrine. Though largely, the latter doctrine became the dominate and successful scheme. Rome ceased to be a Roman institution and became a Frankish institution sometime in the 11th century when the Creed was finally sung in Rome with the filioque. I’m also reminded of the development that the papacy undertook due to the falsification of supposed canons (the Pseudo-Isidorian Decretals) and their relationship to the struggle for religious and political power between Romans and Franks. Now, the good things that Rome carried over through the Middle Ages and High-Middle ages I believe to be legacies of her once great Orthodoxy, in which the ultimate breaking and bursting forth of that “dialectical” tension is protestantism. Those great legacies finally reach the dust-bin at that point with a kind of conceptual and logical consistency. A great example here is the debates on the Eucharist: transubstantiaion vs. virtualism vs. symbolism. The debates in the 13th century on this topic and on echo much of the 8th century between the Franksih monks, but none of them echo the Christological doctrine of Paschasius Radbertus. I’m being quite frank (no pun intended), but it would be interesting to do a blog post on the Eucharistic debates and their relation to the thinking and methodology of the filioque.



  51. Hi Photios,
    First, let me say that I’m really enjoying the paper you sent me. It’s an insightful look into the machinery behind St. Gregory’s thought, and is a good interpretative grid. Well done. Regarding the Franks and Iconoclasm, fair enough. I think that you are probably correct about those details. But I’m a little unclear as to why the papacy being under the influence of the Franks automatically makes it suspect.
    Second, I hope that my tone in an earlier post was not too harsh. I’m not one to walk on eggshells for fear of causing offense, but I also don’t want to cut off my nose to spite my face. Philosophical debate is necessary, if anything because the mind is also a participant of redemption, as St. Paul put it, “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” And let me say again that I’m not trying to convert any Orthodox here. I’m just trying to build bridges that have been destroyed by centuries of mutual hostility, which are half the result of legitimate grievances and half the result of misunderstanding, in my opinion. I am simply trying to remove what I see to be the misunderstandings so that we may better understand one another. I think it is a great tragedy that the ancient pentarchy has been rent, and that any attempt to make it whole again is a service rendered to God. The Orthodox have a holy and venerable tradition, and I would never ask them to sacrifice that and violate their conscience or compromise their faith. My whole point is that I don’t think that it is necessary for an Orthodox Christian to sacrifice his faith to be in communion in Rome. I think that the widespread Orthodox belief that Rome is “officially” in heresy (and not just according to the viewpoint of individual Orthodox theologians) is mostly a product of the twentieth-century “Russian revolution” in Orthodox theology. This ad fontes movement within Orthodoxy produced an ossified view of dogma that effectively excluded the West, and St. Augustine in particular, from exercising any influence within Orthodoxy. But Augustine was and is a saint in both East and West. There is even a St. Augustine Orthodox Church in this country. Look, I don’t like the way the filioque was added to the creed any more than the Orthodox do. I don’t like Roman centralization any more than Cardinal Newman did. And, I think that the dogmatization of papal infallibility was not the wisest course of action that the Church could have taken, whatever truthfulness the content of the dogma may (and, I believe, does) possess. But the Catholic Church has irrevocably taught that the filioque (whatever its exact interpretation) is an acceptable interpretation of the trinitarian dogma. So the way I see it, either Augustine isn’t really a saint (for the Orthodox), or (if he is) the fiioque isn’t really a heresy, because a Saint cannot be guilty of heresy. One evidence of this being an acceptable opinion in Orthodoxy is the fact that the filioque isn’t included among the heresies in the Synodikon of Orthodoxy. The Orthodox never excommunicated the Western church, as such, either…just the Pope who happened to be in Rome at the time. Now, if the Orthodox take the excommunication of the Pope to be equivalent to having excommunicated the entire Western Church, then they are contradicting their own argument that “Pope does not equal Church.” It should also be remembered that St. Photios himself died in communion with Rome. The East was in communion with the West at a time when the West allowed the filioque to be taught.
    Finally, out of sheer curiosity, what kind of connections do you expect to find in investigating potential connections between the doctrine of the procession of the Spirit and the varying medieval views of the Eucharist? I think there is a definite Christological connection: Calvin’s spiritualist view smacks of Nestorianism, in my opinion. Is the idea that the filioque “nudged” the divine energies out of the picture, and thus had to maintain some doctrine of transubstantiation in order to maintain the real presence? That would be a very interesting investigation. But I catch myself wondering if a more pneumatological emphasis might relativize the objectivity of the grace given in the Eucharist? Good discussion.


  52. Photios,
    If you can get my email address from Perry, shoot me an email. I would like to send you a paper I wrote on the Byzantine Empire, if you’d like to read it (I wrote it when I was Orthodox…there is no hidden agenda in the paper 🙂 ). Thanks!


  53. Photios,

    One small correction. As I recall, the filioque was first used in Rome in 809. I either read it in Schaff or Congar.


  54. Hi Don,
    Photios was correct. The filioque was first used in Rome in 1014 at the request of Holy Roman Emperor Henry II for his coronation Mass. 809 was the year of the Council of Aachen, in which Charlemagne affirmed the filioque in defiance of the Pope.


  55. Quick comment just to forestall any misunderstanding:
    Matt, do not hesistate to get Dr. Bradshaw’s excellent book.

    I take exception to the argument that God’s freedom in creation would necessarily entail an unrealized potency, else creation is necessary. While that argument has inexplicably received some traction among a few Thomists (notably Stump and Kretzmann), it’s a non-starter for practically anyone else, so I find it disappointing that such a highly disputed premise would be asserted in a polemical context. Reserving that exception and a couple of others, I would highly recommend Dr. Bradshaw’s work, even in its treatment of certain Western Fathers (see, e.g., the sympathetic attention to Marius Victorinus).


  56. Don,
    No problem. As a side note, in general I find Congar to be a better source than Schaff. Don’t get me wrong: Schaff’s Creeds of Christendom is great (but it would be even greater if the second volume were translated!). I have heard that Pelikan’s collection is the best ever published…it’s just really expensive for a set of its size. Barth’s Church Dogmatics is also really good source even if you’re just interested in the history but don’t necessarily buy into Barth’s theology. The heart of the Eastern objections to standard Western teaching on the doctrine of the Trinity are penultimately manifest in Barth. The Eastern fear that the filioque depersonalizes the Spirit is evidenced with blunt force trauma in Barth. The Spirit is never a distinct divine person in communion with the Father and the Son: he is the communion itself. This idea leads Barth to make such statements as “The mode of being of the Spirit is the essence of the relation between the Father and the Son.” This statement probably sounds like nonsense to Eastern ears, and rightfully so: the relation between the Father and the Son is paternity/generation. Barth’s view of the matter seems to posit a “second” relation that ties the Son back to the Father, yet in such a way that the source is unitary. I must admit that I find Barth’s view of the matter to be fascinating, especially his discussion of the idea that, without the filioque, the fellowship of the Church (in Christ) with God (the Father) would be without an eternal and objective basis. (Photios, I have not seen an Orthodox Christian respond to this particular criticism by Barth…I personally don’t agree with Barth on this, but my reasons may not be the same as yours…what is your take on this argument?) Ultimately, however, Barth’s view is not so quintessentially Western as he believed it was. His statement that the West has and must adhere to “ek tou Yiou” as a parallel formula to “ek tou Patros” is inaccurate: the West has alwasy adhered to the doctrine that the Father is the primal source of the other two persons. What do you guys think of Barth’s arguments?


  57. Pelikan’s set isn’t a reference work, but more like an informative treatise on how Christians think and why through the ages. It traces like a history set, but I think it reads more like McGrath’s “Iustitia Dei”. Schaff’s 8 volume has more meat as far as reference (and it’s cheap), but you have to continually discard his continual potshots at Rome and the East. I think he was a bit whacked. Never touched Barth, who is highly regarded by all, but life is too short to read everybody.


  58. I’d have to agree with you about Schaff…he was definitely an odd one. He was even tried for heresy by his own church/denomination, although he was acquitted. Not sure what the practical ramifications of an “excommunication” would have been, though, if any. Ditto on your last sentence…I’ve kicked the idea around of getting Barth’s entire set, but it’s extremely expensive even though it’s a pretty good deal for the number of books. I personally only have volume I:1-2. Frankly, unless you find the particular topic he is discussing interesting, his manner of exposition can be quite pedantic and dull. Barth, in some respects, represents the most pure form and logical conclusion of Reformed theology. The fact that he was trying to plug in to tradition that went beyond 1517 always makes his particular twist on a finer of doctrine interesting, but ultimately I think his whole perspective was warped due to his Calvinist monergism. His belief that God was a single Absolute Subject warps his doctrine of the Trinity and his entire view of salvation. He was to be commended for returning to the older method of placing the Trinity before the discussion of God’s essence and attributes, but he nevertheless thought that there was properly only one “person” in God. The Lutheran theologian Robert Jenson has said that Barth’s application of the doctrine of the Trinity throughout the Church Dogmatics (another welcome change) nevertheless often resulted in a binitarian view of God. This was a natural result of his dialectical theology which saw the relation between the Father and the Son repeated at every subsequent stage of reality. In this sense it is hard to imagine Barth’s view of God without making this view ontologically dependent on history. This combined with the fact that Barth did not believe it was necessary to ground his theology in any kind philosophical foundation, make his theology even more susceptible to atheistic objections than the liberal Protestant theology that had preceded him.


  59. Drew,

    I believe you missed the thrust of my statements to you. Where I began was with your [unspoken but assumed] assertion that we have a common starting point to work from at present to bring about unity. From what I gather, I don’t think you have caught on that I and other Orthodox are speaking of the faith which Rome holds to be foreign to that which is held by those Churches which call themselves “Orthodox”. I also see that you have missed the point that Rome WAS Orthodox at one time, holding the exact same faith held by those Churches which are “Orthodox”.
    “Orthodox”, of course is a descriptive term meant to contrast itself with that which is “not Orthodox”.
    As far as repentance, my intent was not to mention the Crusades or any such thing but if you re-read what I said, the repentance is mutual and universal, not one-sided.

    “There is no need for philosophical debate, only conversion” I said not to imply that our brains should be put on a shelf. As a Roman Catholic, I assume that you believe your church to be correct and the highest good that you could offer anyone. As an Orthodox I believe this and would wish not only you, but everyone to be converted to the Church’s Faith( myself more fully and truly first and foremost.) I do not believe it possible that if you esteem your church to any degree you would not wish to convert me and everyone .I simply was calling attention to your initial question as to what the purpose of these discussions are, whether there is anything that the Orthodox Church could learn from Rome. As an Orthodox, and you will not find this attitude completely uncommon, I defer to Her. She has spoken. Where necessary in regards to what the Faith is, the debates have ended. Philosophy is a tool to be used to more fully explicate that once for all delivered Faith to the world in order to bring about the world’s repentance. Philosophy must always be a servant to the Faith, not Its master.


  60. Don, are you thinking of Pelikan’s history of doctrine perhaps? I believe Drew’s referring to his more recent multivolume work “Creeds and Confessions of Faith in the Christian Tradition.” It’s listed at $495.00 on Amazon.


  61. Nick,

    “Do you know what the offical RC position is in regard to what eastern rite bishops/preists have to hold regarding the RC catachism? Meaning do Melkite or Byzantine rite preists have to sign off on the catachism?”

    I wouldn’t worry that much about the Catachism. I don’t mean to be dismissive but it’s not an infallible document even for Latins, much less for the East. A traditional Latin mass friend of mine (he’s not SSPX) dismisses the document entirely claiming that it’s modernist, and he is still in communion with Rome. I appreciate the Catachism quite a bit but do not feel bound to it in the sense you are getting at. Besides, as my priest says, if you want to know what we believe, listen to the prayers of the Church (that especially goes for the liturgy I think).

    “Is there some source that discusses these issues? I don’t remember that JPII’s document on the east went into this at all (but it has been a while since I read it).”

    Despite the extensive discussion of it on this blog, in my experience ADS is simply not on the radar for most people/clergy at the parish level. Orientale Lumen recognizes that for the East God is unknowable in His Essence. That is a pretty big concession in my mind and is a good basis for approaching the Essence/Energies discussion. If you want to discuss ADS with clergy it is good to start with E/E or theosis or another related concept rather than just trying to get at it immediately I think.

    While I agree with Todd that Latins in general are ignorant/quasi-hostile to the East I think that Fr. Kimel is onto something in that in the Catholic Church you can venerate St. Francis of Assisi and St. Seraphim of Serov. In Orthodoxy, Francis — and other post-schism saints — are rejected. Also, I find some Orthodox concerns silly. Do you really believe the Western sacraments are, or might be, graceless? What about the Eucharistic miracles? Am I supposed to believe those are demonic? I mean come on, how far down this rabbit hole am I expected to chase? It’s nice not having to deal with such notions.


    Thanks for your thoughts. Can you recommend other articles to read alongside Bradshaw or Stump with your perspective?


  62. I always get a kick out of vociferous anti-Romanism on the part of Protestant converts to Orthodoxy. It’s really rich, not all that ironic, stuff. Not to say I don’t share some of the angst.. and actually, I think the call for “Roman” conversion is apt. If a bit one dimensional.

    ‘Cause Rome has clearly put itself into a bind, I’d say. The “modernism” that was until recently so often and passionately condemned by pope upon pope (cf. syllabus of errors, pio nono,) has now “in the Spirit of Vat II” been embraced nearly wholesale. And I’ve never understood how to read Vat I’s assertion of infallibility back on 1800 years of prior papal documents.. I mean, what is ex cathedra & what’s not? Is, for example Unam Sanctam (Boniface VIII 1302) roughly paraphrased: “I declare, I proclaim, verily I say unto you that unless you submit your will to that of the Roman Pontiff, you are damned.. especially those perfidious whelps of perdition the Greeks..” (like I say, rough paraphrase, but not so very rough..) Or what of the repeated papal defense (of the very imminently scriptural & patristic) of the teaching against usury, defined as the charging of any interest whatsoever, last advanced in the 1740’s? Granted the language is rarely as strong as Boniface’s, but still.. the old Humanae Vitae two step.. Pope Paul was playing by the book. Assert the ancient teaching then drop it like a pastoral hot potato.

    Assert infallibility all you want, but if you can’t effect the tradition pastorally, what good is it?

    Then there are the wonderful contradictions of Honorious II’s Conciliar anathemitization more being a monothelite, and things like the Council of Constance.. which was of course a false council, except for the bit where they reinstated the present line of popes.

    Whatever. You can go to say ETWN’s, Catholic Answers, etc, etc. site for lame *ssed defences of all that crap. There’s a lot more of it. I say it all stinks.

    But maybe that’s exactly the point. Maybe it’s all a part of the plan. Overturn the entire Western liturgical tradition, (at least twice) twice, and revamp it, all more or less on the authority of the pope alone: the Pian Rite (Trent) was forced on all Western Europe, obliterating many local & monastic traditions, and the Pauline rite (“Novus Ordo”) annihilated virtually all the variety that remained.. organic tradition, gone.. except where the Pian rite is allowed by indult, and the liturgies of Toledo & Milan, some monasteries.. accelerated secularism, practical atheism. Bloody pathetic.

    I love how the Orthodox brim over with schadenfruede at all this.. especially when those Orthodox happen to have been Anglicans or Evangelicals a mere decade (or less!) ago.

    Where I will credit – and not only credit – ferociously affirm your crtiques of the West (I might be able to better most of you guys in tearing down specious arguments, in fact) I’ve got to say that the Orthodox don’t much behave like the Church. If it is as you say, and the West is ontologically different now than the East, it seems to me that it happened without much of a struggle on the part of Orthodoxy. Granted, many historical reasons account for the irrelevancy of the East. But not now. So where have you gone, St. Athanasius? Were are you now SS. Cyril & Methodius?

    Are you suggesting that the pope is worse than Arius? Seem to recall “you” boys (all of us, actually) remaining in communion with him & his disciples for long stretches. As in centuries. But then there was the Emperor, who could call a council, to set things aright. But unless Putin suddenly has a fit of piety, or the Romanovs return, you guys seem crap out of luck.. Because where has the emperium gone?

    To Rome. That’s where.


  63. Charles,

    How, pray tell, is the Church supposed to behave? Irrelevance. Hmm. That would depend in large part as to what bar constitutes relevance in your mind. Whatever that bar may be, Charles, I’m sure that that too could be construed as “irrelevant”, considering all factors. Further, as I see it, history has not been wrapped up and completed as of this writing unless I’m missing something. It remains to be seen if the emp(o)?riom you speak of remains in Rome and besides, I am not intersted in shopping there one bit anyway.


  64. And just because I can’t not tack it on:

    just so you know, saying the papacy became a Frankish institution is untrue. Occasionally the papacy fell under “Frankish” influenece (eg. Babylonian Captivity.) But it was mostly a story of conflict.. culiminating in Vatican I’s assertuion of supremacy against the newly secular nation states. The Gregorian Reform (which precipitated the Schism) was an attempt on the part of the papacy to wrest the Church away from secular (i.e., generally “Frankish”) control (to end simony, etc.) So much so that the history of the papacy in the Middle Ages, until very recently (like 120 years or so ago) was one of constant conflict with the Franks/Germans (ever heard of Philip the Fair or the Guelphs & Ghibellines? Or Martin Luther?)

    Someone like Abbe Guittee (a 19th century convert to Orthodoxy) represents just this sort of “Frankish” resistance to the Papacy. He was a Gallican, in that like the Orthodox he asserted the primacy of the national Church. But after the fall of the Catholic monarchies he was left homeless. Most Catholics turned toward Rome for protection against the secularists (who were often bent on destroying the Church althogether) – this is the context of Vatican I. Abbe Guitee- a a scant few others – turned to Orthodoxy, abandoning their own traditions.

    There were three major claimants to the imperium: Constantinople, Rome & Aachen/etc. Greek, Latin & German. The faultlines in Christianity fall out on in a near exact pattern along those ethic/linguistic lines. Rome (Catholicism) has the Latin peoples, Protestantism the Germans (to include the English & Scandinavia,)
    and Constantinople Greece & Russia. The other Slavic countries went with the missionaries that reached them and put their languages to alphabets first.

    So these divisions have more to do with politics & ethnicity than any thing else. Cases like the Armenians & Copts (as well as most of the other Eastern schisms) prove this even more clearly. The heresies were used as political tools to justify defying the Emperor. If he’s a heretic, he’s illegitimate. Just as the filioque was used by the Franks for the same reason. Just as the Irish hewed to their Catholicism under the English, and the Ukrainians & Poles (nassty Jesuits aside) against the Russians, etc.

    So there you are: You all drive me crazy. Your typical papist yammers on, expecting no challenge (because the silly prots are never able to touch him) while the Orthodox, smug and serene expects the medieval masterpiece that he’s found is going to survive for long, now that it’s been stripped of its ancient womb, and is exposed to the vicissitudes of suburbia.. I’m afraid you’re all on crack.

    If we don’t struggle for the entire cannoli- a maximalist reunion where Rome acedes to most Orthodox claims, but where the Orthodox accept Rome’s historic presidency (see Formula of Hormisdas, etc., because primacy means power, and the Church needs a steward, though not a dictator,) well, I think we may be done. Probably are anyhow.

    But I bestow my non-apostolic blessing on you all, anyway. I think Pontifications, like most Catholics, needs the Orthodox challenge. Too bad they aren’t ready for it.


  65. Matt,
    Indeed, ADS seems like a foreign concept to most laymen, but that is also the point too. Why have a dogma for something that has no liturgical purchase? Your argument cuts both ways. I believe it is the logical implications of ADS that are the most damaging though, from soteriology to christology, which is why I spend little time talking about ADS per se these days.

    Even if the Eucharistic miracles, post-Schism, are in fact authentic, there’s nothing there that authenticates the Frankish-Latin church as the true church. God can and could of done such miracles to show that He still works outside the visible boundaries of the Church. If the miracles are true, that doesn’t entail that the doctrine of transubstantiation is in fact true.


    Saying that the filioque is a false doctrine, does not entail that St. Augustine is a heretic for several reasons:

    1) St. Augustine didn’t view the filioque as a dogma, but wished to be corrected by the Church of those who are better instructed, which he states in the first book of De Trinitate. De Trinitate is a philosophical speculation for Augustine’s own personal search of how to understand the Trinity. He never viewed this speculation as something that was handed to him in his Apostolic Succession, but is rather his creative thinking based on other influential men.

    2) There is an implicit confusion between person and nature in how you treat the issue. That is you confuse “Augustinism” with the person of St. Augustine himself. “Augustinism” is a dialectical system based on more of St. Augustine’s speculative theories on the Trinity, grace, original sin, and predestination. “Augustinism” could never make sense out of St. Augustine’s Eucharistic theology and ecclesiology, which was a blessed antinomy like the Incarnation, because the dialectical method that had been assumed to distinguish the Trinitarian relations now comes full force to divorce the sign and symbol from Christ’s Incarnate body. The thrust of this is that there is a distinction between holding a heretical view-point even as an opinion and being a heretic. The former is the substance or content of the view, and the latter is personal (where one holds this view come hell or high water as dogmatic). Holding erroneous views does not equate one or charge one with heresy AS A heretic.

    I believe Augustine’s ecclesiology and eucharistic sacramentology are in full accord with the Orthodox Chruch. And last, Augustine had a very strong influence on Emperor and Theologian (one of the greatest of the Cyrillic Chalcedonians) Justinian, who condemned Origenism and Origen based on the authority of St. Augustine, that dead church-men’s teaching could be condemned.

    It is incorrect that the filioque was not included to the Synodikon of Orthodoxy. In fact it has an entire section devoted to the Synodikon entitled: Synodikon of the Holy Spirit, which was started by Patriarch Germanos the New (1222-1240) which was issued with the full consent of the Patriarchate and was completed during the condemnation of John Beccus at the Council of Blachernae (1275-1282). The Tomus of Blachernae became the fourth part of the Synodikon of the Holy Spirit. The addition of Blachernae’s canons to the Synodikon would have an analogous stance vis-a-vis Orange has for the West. Fr. Michael Azkoul’s book on St. Photios the Great translates both the Synodikon on the Holy Spirit and the Mystagogia of the Holy Spirit which also includes the greek text in the appendices.


    I can’t seem to follow you, and I’m not a convert from protestantism.



  66. Charles,
    Good grief, you really pack a punch, don’t you? Just out of curiosity, to which Church do you belong?
    There is one thing you mentioned in particular that I appreciated: primacy means power. The Orthodox notion of a supposed “primacy of honor” that does not somehow entail supremacy of jurisdiction is nonsense, nor does it accord with the history of the pre-schism Church.

    Alright. Enough assertions…prove your arguments or admit that they’re faulty. The Orthodox believe that the supreme authority in the Church can only be exercised by an Ecumenical Council, and typically limit the title “ecumenical” to the first seven councils. Tell me:
    1) Which ecumenical council clearly and explicitly condemned the filioque as heresy?
    2) Which ecumenical council clearly and explicitly condemned papal supremacy as heresy?
    3) Which ecumenical council clearly and explicitly condemned papal infallibility as heresy?
    4) Which ecumenical council excommunicated the entire Western Church?
    5) Which ecumenical council declared the entire Western Church to be heretical?

    As far as I can recall:
    Nicea I condemned Arius, was supported by the Pope and rejected by the East.
    Constantinople I condemned Eunomius, was accepted by the Pope at the request of the Eastern bishops.
    Ephesus condemned Nestorius, Patriarch of Constantinople
    Chalcedon condemned Eutyches with the support of Pope Leo against the majority of the Eastern bishops
    Constantinople II condemned Origenism
    Constantinople III condemned Monotheletism (the only possible case against the papacy as possessing a gift of infallibility can be found in the example of Honorius, but you would be hard-pressed to demonstrate that this contradicted the dogma of Vatican I as stated in the council’s decree; if this shows that the pope does not possess infallibility, it also shows that the East cannot even pretend to it, for it was the patriach and emperor who started Monotheletism, as yet another political compromise).
    Nicea II condemend Iconoclasm with the support of the Pope and against both the Patriarch and the Emperor.

    If you can answer any one of these questions with any kind of historical accuracy, you just might, I repeat, might, have an argument.


  67. “It is incorrect that the filioque was not included to the Synodikon of Orthodoxy.”

    At my Chrismation I was required to affirm the filioque as a heresy. I didn’t think the sense asked nor my answer was meant as a reference to the West, but a preservation of Orthodoxy.


  68. Drew,
    Who mentioned any condemnation of anyone? And you well know that no council has ever done so and neither do I. All I’m saying is that if you hold the faith of the Roman Church and I hold the faith of the Orthodox Church, we hold two different faiths.Simple. End of story. No judgement. And I maintain that it is healthier to begin from this rather than pretending that the differences we hold are minor and easily glossed over.


  69. Councils don’t condemn regions, they condemn doctrines as contrary to the faith. Blachernae codemned the filioque, which canons were included in the Synodikon. Like I said, this is similar to the RC’s understanding of Orange II, which was not an ecumenical council, but whose canons have an ecumenical status according to her own standard.



  70. “Its a joke. Humor happens. I figured after the personal voice conversations over the last three years I could crack a joke.”

    Proverbs 26:18,19

    Like a crazed archer scattering firebrands and deadly arrows
    Is the man who deceives his neighbor, and then says, “I was only joking.”

    While I appreciate and symphathize with your concerns, it seems like an inapporperiate context for jokes.


  71. Don,
    How could mention of the filioque be anything other than a reference to the West? And the Orthodox don’t renounce the filioque as heresy during their chrismation.

    I know that councils don’t condemn regions. That’s not what I meant…I was pressed for time and was simply trying to be succint. Be that as it may, your argument rests on the Council of Blacharnae presided over by St. Gregory of Cyprus in 1283 (correct me on my date if that is not correct…I know that it was a reaction to Lyons and the patriarchate of John Beccos). My question for you is, does the Orthodox Church grant ecumenical authority to that council? It does seem from the historical records we have that the council was considered authoritative at the time; however, the exact argument could be made for the ecumenical status of the synod of Jerusalem in 1672 that condemned the errors of Cyril Lukaris, the decrees of which synod produced a dogmatic statement on the Eucharist that included the term “transubstantiation” (metousiosis), a term which the Orthodox have been determined to banish from their tradition for about the past century. So, given these facts, on what basis can the Orthodox claim ecumenicity (or whatever you want to call it…I don’t want to get caught up in word games) or authority for the Council of Blacharnae but NOT for the Synods of Jassy and Jerusalem?


  72. BTW, my own solution when I was Orthodox was simply to accept all of the Eastern councils as authoritative and not pick and choose which ones I liked and which ones I didn’t. Not that that’s what you’re doing, Photios, but I think that’s exactly how a lot of Orthodox and not a few Catholics, to say nothing of Protestants, approach tradition. They see it like it’s a buffet. But regarding the councils, precisely because of the Synod of Jerusalem I had no problem expressing the Church’s teaching on the Eucharist through use of the word “transubstantiation” nor understanding the filioque as a mediation of the divine life rather than a hypostatic origination. It was when I discovered that the West wasn’t intending to teach anything different but had to express itself differently due to linguistic barriers and differences of philosophical and theological emphases, that my justification for remaining separated from Rome vanished. However, be that as it may, I would like to know what your answer is regarding my final question in the post prior to this one. Thanks!


  73. Drew,

    1) The Synodikon is the deal breaker. Are there canons that are a part of the council of Jerusalem that condemned Lukaris incorporated into the Synodikon? I no of none. If not, they can’t be a part of the Liturgical life of the Church. The theology at that time was mostly latinized, in which the Church was in a sort of Scholastic captivity. Were they wrong to condemn Lukaris? Not at all. But they did so divorced from the consensus patrum.

    2) I don’t have a problem with metousiosis, metousia, and other such terms. They do no not have the same conceptual import that transubstantitation does. Transubstantiation involves the annhilation of one substance or complete replacement with another substance. Metousiosis is participation in being. My argument has always been, on christological grounds, that you cannot have the operations or accidents of something and not also have the underlying nature of those operations. The Eucharist is truly bread and the substance of bread is not changed, for it has the operations of bread. The Eucharist is truly Christ and continuous with his Incarnate body. This is the patristic method, what I call the ordo theologiae:

    “[T]he actions were of one Person all the time…but we perceive from the character of the acts what belongs to either form.” –St. Leo I on clarification of the Tome in support of the Chalcedonian definition.



  74. The same christological argument cuts against the Calvinistic virtualism, since it is just the other side of the dialectic (the virtues or operations of the Body and Blood exist but not the underlying natures). Orthodoxy embrace an antinomical non-dialectical or rather both/and dialectic with regard to the Eucharist.



  75. Photios,
    I’m afraid that you’re just giving your opinion here. First of all, metousiosis is a direct translation of, and is the exact linguistic counterpart of, transubstantiation. The council defined the term with reference to substance and accidents. Why the Orthodox think such a definition is so bad is beyond me. All such a statement says is: “the bread and wine are truly transformed into the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Christ, yet still appear to be ordinary bread and wine.” Any attempt to deny this is pure doublespeak.
    Your argument from the Synodikon is extremely weak for the basic reason that the Synodikon is only read in its entirety on the Sunday of Orthodoxy in very, very few places. And I maintain that the Synodikon does NOT contain Photios’ Synodikon on the Holy Spirit. So, which Liturgy is authoritative, the one(s) that include the Synodikon, or the one(s) that do not? And on what basis do you make that judgment. The original Nicene Creed, for that matter, does not have a place in the liturgical life of the Church, either. Besides, you didn’t answer my question Photios. Are you saying that the decisions of the Council of Blacharnae are included in the Synodikon? If so, fine. If not, then your problem is magnified. You speak of the “patristic method” as if all the Fathers theologized the same way. You’re a graduate student in theology; you know better than that. I’m not meaning to be condescending, but I grow tired of the continued attempt by the Orthodox to portray the early Church as if it were identical in virtually every respect to the Orthodox Church of today. It is obvious from the history of the canons themselves that rules relating to iconography evolved over time and were not uniform. Furthermore, regarding the Synod of Jerusalem, this Synod defined a lot more than just the Orthodox Church’s teaching on the Eucharist, it also defined what books constituted the Old Testament against the Protestants rejection of the Deuterocanonical books. Furthermore, I would like to point out that the Apocalypse is the only book of the New Testament that is not read in ANY Liturgy of the Orthodox Church. Overall, I think your argument from the Liturgy is quite arbitrary and reductionistic, and in fact runs parallel to the Protestant notion of sola scriptura. When it comes to authority in the Church, Orthodox are only materially different from Protestants; formally they’re the same. Both believe that authority in the Church is ultimately to be found in texts, and, when faced with the blunt crassness of such a tenet, they both resort to the “Spirit” as the ultimate guide in the Church. Unfortunately this is not of much use because the means through which this “Spirit” can express itself can only be subjective without some kind of definite teaching office. And this explains why the Orthodox pick and choose from the tradition what is “orthodox” and what is not just like Protestants do, and why both groups romantically see the early Church as normative and do not pay much attention to later developments, and why both groups maintain an excessively hostile attitude toward the Papacy. I really wish you would quit playing word games with me and actually answer my questions. All you’re doing is essentially telling me that I can’t ask this or that question. But I can! And I have! And so far, you haven’t been able to answer them.



  76. Drew,

    I firmly believe that the folks at that council were mistaken, it’s been man’s deal to try and give old terms new meaning from the beginning (development of doctrine if you will). Metousia, metousiosis, methexes, and the like do not mean an anhilation of substance subverted with another. They all mean participation. I’ve read enough studies on the use of such terms as they relate to the Cappadocian Fathers and Maximus the Confessor to know what those terms mean (one of those studies from one of my former Prof’s). Again, the definition that you quote cuts against the Chalcedonian method of how we know the nature of something or someone. Do I reject that council’s definition? Yes I do, because it is counterintuitive to the Orthodox faith. The definition is “so bad” because it is dialectical in nature with it’s either/or dichotomy. Either the substance of bread exists or the substance of Body and Blood exist, but not both dammit! Ratramnus would be so proud of such thinking while condemning that they chose the wrong outcome.

    The Synodikon is an open canon, and always will be until Christ returns. This is why the initial version in 843 after the Triumph over Iconoclasm has been supplemented numerous times: Blachernae and the Palamite councils the most obvious ones. The whole document does not need to be read during the various feast days in order to be authoritative.

    Yes, all the Fathers theologize this way, some more so than others, but you and I don’t recognize the same thing in the term “Father.”

    Furthermore, I don’t really care how “tired” you are of this and that. This is not your blog to come pontificate about how tired and frustrated you are with Orthodoxy or with our answers. It sounds to me you that are frustrated with my answers, such is the psychology of the Roman Catholic I suppose. How dare that anybody could disagree with Rome and be sane?



  77. Photios,
    And I really don’t care what you think about the supposed “psychology” of Roman Catholics. And I don’t care how much you think you’ve read of the Fathers, either. And for the record, we mean exactly the same thing by the term Father, so don’t even start with that nonsense. I was only stating what I see to be a defect in current Orthodox scholarship. I was NOT attacking you personally, and there was no reason for your little tirade. You said you wanted Roman Catholics to feel welcome here, and I’m not about to get bullied just because, GASP, I happen to really believe what the Catholic Church teaches. If you’re frustrated with the fact that I don’t see how your responses have been actual answers to my questions which were posed in good faith and in a spirit of humility in the search for greater understanding, then that is YOUR problem. In effect, you have just demonstrated my point. If you think you’re smarter than the Orthodox bishops who defended the Orthodox faith at those councils, you go ahead and think that. But that doesn’t make you the infallible authority on what the Orthodox Church teaches, and it doesn’t give you the right to assassinate my character, either. I have nothing but the utmost respect for the Eastern tradition, and I have said that until I’m blue in the face. It seems clear to me that you are not really interested in dialogue at all, nor are you interested in being reconciled to your Christian brothers. And that’s just despicable.


  78. Drew,

    After these last few exchanges between you and Photios, I re-read what you both said and I believe the animosity began on your side when you began leveling charges at Orthodoxy being equivalent to Protestantism which if I’m not mistaken equates to a slam on any Orthodox by default.
    Photios is doing nothing else than giving Orthodox answers. Nothing more, nothing less. I believe your anger should be directed at the Church if you feel you must express yourself as you are now doing.
    Strong words, to be sure. Your “humility” which you entered into your questions with has been shown to be something other than that.
    I think your charges are leveled from emotion rather than the much touted reason you claim to espouse. Where, oh where, did you gather from Photios’ answers that he is not intersested in dialogue with his Christian brothers? Perhaps from the same place I became a Muslim to you. Perhaps the aside in the same statement in your first response to me is indicative of why you desire unity to begin with. The threat of Islam? I hear this echoed in many Roman Catholics as their primary reason for desiring unity with the Orthodox, that if we combine, we may have a shot at stemming the tide of Islam so this “unity” you seek is not based on returning to a common faith but on fear.
    Forced unity at all costs. No thanks. Not on these terms.


  79. Sophocles,
    Fine. You believe what you want. I thought you guys wanted real debate. Obviously you don’t. Look, if I’m so wrong about my comparison of Orthodoxy and Protestantism, prove it. All you have to do is demonstrate it. But implying that I’m some kind of authoritarian who wants “forced unity at all costs” bears no resemblance to anything I said, and you know it. Look, you guys hate it when Catholics act like there are no real differences between Catholics and Orthodox. So here I come along to try to present what I think is a more authentic Catholic take on Orthodoxy, and you jump all over me. Do you want us Catholics to be honest about who we are or not?
    And thus I leave you now in the same spirit of kindness that I first contributed to this thread. If you guys don’t want me here, that’s fine.
    God Bless,


  80. Drew,

    1) Except for my psychological comment, my posts have been pointed and dispassionate toward you.

    2) I’m not offended or frustrated that you are a Roman Catholic or that you want to hold and defend RC beliefs.

    3) I’m not bullying you, nor have I gone on a tirade. If I went on anything remotely as you suggest, you would know the difference, please don’t play the victim game.

    4) The issue isn’t about me being smarter. Eunomius of Cyzicus was way smarter than me and probably smarter than Gregory of Nyssa.

    5) I’m intested in dialogue, but when I say we believe “x,” when I have put much study and thought into “x,” you need to take it more seriously instead of assuming it means what you believe by “y” or some precariousness that it needs to be “y.”

    6) Reconciliation will happen when we believe a common faith around the eucharist, which is the only real unity christians ever had. I’m not an anxious person.



  81. Drew,

    Your intial questions focused around intentions of discussion, not debate, which is what we tried to answer. The topics are jumping around too much to have any kind of focused and meaningful debate in this thread. To have a relaxed and cordial debate, we would need to discuss a certain topic and stick to it, that way everybody can participate in a more meaningful way that is conducive to learning.



  82. Drew,

    After this last exchange between you and Photios, I went back and re-read both of your comments. I believe the animosity began on your side. The answers Photios gave you were simply Orthodox answers. Your argument is not with him but with the Orthodox Church so if you feel you have to get angry, begin with Her. As an Orthodox, we are not trying to re-invent the wheel. We are trying to live a life of repentance based on that Faith which has been once for all delivered. We invite you too. We invite one and all but not on your terms or my terms or anyone else’s. If you don’t like these terms, then by all means remain a Roman Catholic. Don’t return to the Orthodox Church. None of us is going to stop you. But stop, for goodness sake, to force a unity which does not exist. Why should you put yourself through that? I mean, your humility has been rent and exposed your barely restrained disdain for those of us who simply cannot see Rome’s gracious overtures towards the Orthodox to be not something based on love but it seems, on power. I mean, we Protest…I mean Orthodox, are such hard headed stinkers to throw a cog in the wheel of Rome’s machinations. Why would you want unity with us anyhow? I mean, we haven’t even developed for pete’s sake and remain in the first millenium while Rome has blown past us poor un developed Orthodox. And no magesterium either. Man. The more I write the less I want unity with the Orthodox myself. But then again, your great respect for the Eastern tradition remains ever so strong but it needs improvement obviously to be able to be brought up to speed with the highly advanced, we’ve got an answer for everything Roman Catholic Church.


  83. Uh, Photios?
    My previous entry was entered after I thought the one I entered before was somehow deleted which explains their similar beginnings and an attempt on my part to reproduce what I had written but it develpoed into something else. Sorry. And sorry, Drew.This was not meant as another dig at you.
    Perhaps we all have more to learn about what can be debated on this type of a forum as it’s so easy to get lost in tangents. It’ hard enough face to face, but here the challenge is multiplied.
    If I have offended you, Drew, I ask your forgiveness and for your prayers.


  84. Drew said,

    “And the Orthodox don’t renounce the filioque as heresy during their Chrismation.”

    I’m a layman, and at the moment I was a catechumen. Bishops tell Presbyters what needs to be said. Catechumens take it or leave it it. You can take it up with the Greek Archdiocese. But yes, it was mentioned at my Chrismation.

    In Greek, the filioque is a heresy, because I believe the etymology of procession is one of source which not even the Latins believe. In Latin it is not necessarily a heresy, as it can have an alternative meaning (no less than St. Maximos said so). That is how I took it. If I had concerns, which I don’t, I would take them up with the OCA Bishop I have now.

    I had to affirm and deny a bunch of things at my Chrismation. It was a difficult moment to concentrate on what the priest was saying, as my then 4 year old daughter was wailing because she stuck her finger in the Chrismation candle she was holding. But I clearly remember the priest asking about the filioque and I had no clue it was coming, and I hesitated in front of 500 people before answering while consoling my daughter. In my mind in those few seconds, I bifurcated what the Latins say and what the Greeks hear and affirmed the condemantion of what the Greeks hear.


  85. Dear Drew,

    It’s really interesting to compare and contrast Catholicism and Orthodoxy. When I read the Catholic pov, I think, “that’s really different”. You said earlier that Orthodox unity isn’t really unified and that we differ from each other. I don’t see it the same way. When I see differences among Orthodox it’s like the differences between the Saints in our icons, you can see idiosyncracies and personality and circumstantial differences, but a unity of expression at the same time. I think you referred to the different rules governing our icons, but somehow while I may be drawn more to certain types than others, or to Russian chant over Byzantine chant, I still recognize a unity of expression.

    While we do have many things in common, the differences such as where and the way the priest stands in preparing communion, statues vs. icons, the Eucharist miracle of actually turning into physical blood and tissue vs. our miracles of brightly shining light emanations, etc. seem really different instead of just variations of the same expression of faith.

    These differences make me psychologically uncomfortable and the differences in Orthodox expression don’t. Go figure.


  86. p.s. when I said “Go figure” I was not meaning that you should personally go and figure out my psychological state, but it was rather a tritely expressed statement stemming from being perplexed as to why Christ believing, intelligent people can be psychologically comfortable with and intellectually convinced of differing expressions about Him and His ways.


  87. Pingback: Mind In the Heart
  88. For the record, I was required to renounce very specific heresies at my Chrismation. I was Chrismated in the OCA. There were specific renunciations used depending upon what religious faith one had prior to conversion. Thus because I had been an RC immediately prior to my conversion, my renunciations were different from those of my wife, who was required to renunciate various core Protestant beliefs. The text which was used was one of 18th century Slavic origin, or so I was told. It is not only the Greeks who have such renunciation texts. I was required to renounce the filioque, papal infallibility, papal supremacy, purgatory, indulgences, the immaculate conception, and several other things. In the renunciation of the filioque, it was referred to as a heresy. I do not know if my bishop at the time required that this renunciation be used at each Chrismation of a former RC to the Orthodox faith, or if he left it up to the priest to decide. I think probably the latter. In any case, the text was approved for use in the diocese by my former bishop.


  89. Drew,

    I am conducting these discussions for all kinds of reasons. If you mean this blog in particular, here are some of them. To give a clear explication of the “mechanics” of Orthodox theology, especially to those who may be considering becoming Orthodox. Consequently one of the goals is to help people by removing any intellectual barriers to conversion. When I wanted to learn about Orthodox theology it was frustrating to find very simplistic or dismissive answers to substantial questions in the popular literature. Some of the more complicated material seemed opaque and I wasn’t able to “translate” across their conceptual scheme and my own. I needed a key. When I stumbled across Farrell’s book on Maximus, he was able to speak “Westernese” and translate across conceptual schemes. I hope that I can do something like that here.

    The blog also functions as a place where I can clarify and refine my own understanding. I don’t know everything and I am certainly not the standard of Orthodoxy. I learn too.

    As for what can Orthodoxy learn from Catholicism, well this is going to sound bad but let me preface it with some comments. I don’t mean to be rude or flippant. But given the history of say forced Latinization, bibery, simony and nothing short of outright deception on the part of the Latins (sending Catholic priests disguised as Orthodox priests to establish Catholic parishes and deliberately deceiving people doesn’t exactly engender trust.) Playing nicy nice for fifty years doesn’t do away with that history. Catholics need to read and take seriously Dostoyevsky’s Grand Inquisitor.

    And, Orthodoxy doesn’t think that it has suffered any deformity or alteration due to Rome’s departure. And we don’t share the same ecclesiology, which is why we don’t view Protestant bodies or Rome as true particular churches.

    Contemporary Catholics do think of Orthodoxy in the way that you describe, but why? That is a fairly recent occurrence as a glance at the older Catholic Encyclopedia will bear out. It seems to be based on a yearning for something they have lost, but the experience is asymmetrical. Orthodox don’t go to Catholic masses and have a sense of longing and an immediate recognition that they are standing in the ancient church. They usually have some other experience when sitting through a Catholic mass, at least the Orthodox that I know do.

    I am not interested so much in what the majority, whatever way we might wish to determine that, would think about the current situation. The question is what is true and not what most people think as I am sure you would recognize. Orthodoxy for all the faults and problems today doesn’t have the same sense of itself that Catholics do, that there is something seriously wrong with the state of the Church. Vatican 2 was a bug that someone else caught.

    We also need to ask ourselves if Rome and Orthodoxy are operating on a relatively similar ecclesiology. If an Orthodox priest leaves the church, is he still a priest? Can you have true local and particular churches apart from the Church? I think the answer to both is “no” from an Orthodox perspective.

    As for secularism, Islam and other things I think the Orthodox Church will do just fine. Will she suffer? Sure will and has. From my reading, while I often read Protestant and Catholic theologians, and I do learn things, I think what I can and do learn that is true in them is something that is found in its fullness in Orthodoxy. Otherwise I am generally just picking up information to construct good arguments for an apologia.

    Some progress has been made on the ecumenical front and in so far as this is genuine, this is a good thing. Much of this has come rather unofficially either in Roman concessions in admitting that there is no scriptural support for the Filioque or in historical revision in casting off mythologies that served to justify Latin actions (the myths around say St. Photius or St. Mark of Ephesus for example.) In the last twenty five years Catholic and Protestant scholars have begun to appreciate and more clearly grasp the theology of neglected figures such as St. Maximus or the Cappadocians.

    From an Orthodox perspective the differences between Rome and Protestantism aren’t as substantial as they are between Rome and Orthodoxy. Rome and Protestants share an overall common theological method and a common Trinitarian theology. Such is not the case for the Orthodox and Rome. If one pays special attention to the Carolingian/East debates on the Filioque very carefully I think this conclusion will come to light. In one sense, this is just to say that Augustine is not the dominant theological lens through which all other theological sources must be interpreted for the Orthodox. It is virtually impossible to understand Rome and Protestantism without Augustine and it is virtually impossible to understand Orthodoxy as read primarily through an Augustinian lens. So it just isn’t obvious to me that Orthodoxy and Rome are compatible in the way that you think that Lutheranism and Rome might be.

    As for meeting halfway, I would ask, where exactly is this “half way” point? Is it somewhere between Papal supremacy and Gallicanism? Is it in Rome removing superficial barriers like not requiring Eastern Catholics to recite the Filioque but still demanding theological adherence? Is that really meeting half way? It seems to me that a substantial “meeting halfway” would be to remove the filioque entirely. This would certainly be a display of Papal supremacy. I fear though that it would result in widespread schism among Catholics. From my perspective, the “half way” that is being proffered is really not even half of the half way since it concedes nothing substantial while requiring the Orthodox concede practically everything substantial. That doesn’t seem very ecumenical to me.

    I am not sure if Rome doesn’t consider Orthodox to be in heresy. We formally reject Vatican I and the dogma of the Immaculate Conception. Are we heretics? How about our rejection of absolute divine simplicity as articulated in Florence? For us, the Filioque has been formally condemned by councils repeatedly.

    First, the statements of the Pope on the Orthodox accepting the Roman primacy as it functioned in the first millennium are hardly de fide. First you need to show that they are a product of at leas the ordinary magisterium and hence normative. Floating ideas isn’t the same as official teaching. Second, even if this were so, it seems to fly in the face of statements like Satis Cognitum which indicate that Roman primacy as Rome conceives and defines it existed from day one. Consequently the issue isn’t the exercise of Roman primacy as Rome now exercises it, but with the way Rome has defined Roman primacy. Letting the Orthodox have a measure of functional autonomy leaves the de fide question untouched and this is what is at issue. Such moves by the Papacy then are superficial however sincere they might be, at best. If the Pope meant that the de fide definition isn’t binding on the Orthodox since it wasn’t believed in the first millennium, then I can’t see how this isn’t giving up the theological ghost. In either case, such moves do not advance the conversation.

    Furthermore, how can the Orthodox say that Rome is not heterodox when Rome advocates positions that were formally condemned by councils attended by and approved by both East and West? It’s like asking us to revoke Nicea. And how is such a judgment possible without implicitly approving of Rome’s teaching? That logical space is occupied between true and false? If not false, then true, correct? Since I am a big believer in the law of excluded middle, I don’t go for “tralse” or “frue” as possible truth values. Even if we could pull something off, it would be at best that Rome was in schism, in which case it would still require us to deny the inward validity of her sacraments and that her teaching was in error, even if not formal heresy. Is Rome likely to swallow even that bitter pill? Be realistic. This painting of the Orthodox as intransigent and incorrigible is caused by some idea that if we just got back together the church would be perfect and rosy. Not only is such a view of reality false, such a union would not infuse Rome with new vigor but infuse Orthodoxy with all kinds of liturgical and theological confusion. This kind of blind hope is based on ignorance of history and a serious understanding of Orthodox teaching.

    As for coming to grips, the Latins, regardless of contact, had the deposit of faith and they need to come to grips on how their innovations came about, largely due to the political ambitions of the Franks. The fact is that the westerners had plenty of contact after 476 in souther Italy and other venues that remained Orthodox and part of the Imperium for a long while. The underlying idea that theology develops along dialectical lines and that each side had legitimate developments is not only false but unhelpful. Philosophy is not the handmaiden to theology for the Orthodox nor could it be on Christological grounds. The fact that there was conceptual development for the Orthodox signals innovation all by itself. Lack of contact is no excuse.

    You ask if it could be shown if the filioque was compatible with Orthodox teaching would I accept it? This depends on a few things. First, which filioque are we talking about? Are we talking about the idea approved by Maximus in his letter to Marinus? If so, that isn’t the teaching of Florence. I accept the former, but deny the latter. Second, by compatible, do you mean, both could be true or that they are in fact identical? I would accept it if it were the latter, not the former. Logical compatibility is not grounds for dogma or of inclusion in the deposit of faith. If it were, dogmas would continue to grow in number, which is what Rome accepts and we reject. In any case, compatibility would still fall short for the conditions for declaring it a dogma, let alone a doctrine, in which case I don’t know why Rome is requiring anyone to believe it, let alone permitting it to be in the Creed.

    So here is my reciprocal question for you, if the Council of 880 could be shown to meet all of the conditions of being an ecumenical council, would you accept it?

    Secondly, Catholics like Michael Liccione have decided in advance that they will never admit that Rome is wrong not matter what is logically or historically demonstrated. Why should I discuss matters with him or with you if such is the case? I admit that I could be wrong in my judgment that the Orthodox Church is the true church. Such is the case for any unaided human person I think. But, if in fact it is the true church, regardless of my judgment regarding it (epistemic errors can go in both directions), then I don’t see why it should have to concede, nor could concede anything substantial. Don’t you believe the same thing about Rome?


  90. “I admit that I could be wrong in my judgment that the Orthodox Church is the true church.”

    Intriguing admission.

    Would you also admit that you could be wrong in your judgment that Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ is True God & is risen from the dead?


  91. Raymond Maxwell Spiotta,

    Yup. I am not infallible. Are you?

    Of course, there are lots of ways one can go wrong with respect to knowledge. One can lack justification, truth or belief. I might have merely true belief and not have knowledge.


  92. Drew,

    I’d say that having the correct outward form of baptism with external divine grace and operation is one thing. Filling or completing that form upon reception is another. My Roman baptism became complete or “valid” upon reception into the Orthodox Church. That is what I have in mind when I speak of conversion in the fullest sense.

    As for Congar, he professes ignorance of the major Eastern texts on the subject so I don’t think he is an informed or substantial source to cite on the subject of the influence of the filioque. I don’t think the Orthodox are anachronistic with respect to the distinction between essence and energies in the Cappadocians or Maximus. With respect to the Later Catholic patristic scholars like Barnes have given us good reason for thinking it is there and on it hinges much of the Nicene theology, not to mention Maximus’ refutation of Monothelitism.

    Crucifixes notwithstanding, it is quite well estbalished that Catholicism pours into its theology content from philosophy. The worry about the God of the philosophers is hardly unfounded. If virtually all RCC and Protestant theologians who have written on the subject view the filioque view it as simply the expression of the consubstantiality of the Father and the Son then a number of problems come to mind. First, this is not how the Nicene and Neo-Nicenes view the consubstantiality of the Father and the Son. Second, it erases the real difference between theologia and economia as Rahner does for example. Third, the Filioque can’t express the consubstantiality of the Father and the Son because between them there is no relation of being. The filioque is therefore only necessary on Arian assumptions about the divine essence to stave off explicit Arianism.

    The problem is that you are equivocating on the term being, between energia and ousia. Though often translated in English as “being” they don’t cover the same semantical space. In terms of being, qua ousia, God is not being. He is not actus purus. Hence the common ground you suppose exists seems to have opened up.

    It is great that the Latins affirm that the Father is the sole source of deity. The question is whether they can consistently maintain that with a Nicene theology. It matters not if the Son is not the source of the Spirit in the same mode of being as the Father, that he has origination “on loan” for the Father. Origination is a hypostatic property of the Father and not a relation since it is not being in the first place and so cannot be a relation in any sense whatsoever-equivocal, univocal or analogical. Consequently it cannot be “loaned” to the Son. The East has held that the Father is the sole arche or source for that is what Father means, but the way we have understood this is neglected by producing attempts at the construction of a dialectical model to show compatibility. The entire method of dialectical relations is foreign to the Nicene doctrine. That is the point of homoousious-to preclude any philosophical content. This is why there is no relation between Father and Son. To even speak of different “ways of being” relative to the Procession of the Spirit indicates a faulty theological method and outlook.

    The Florentine formula “of one principle” is first and foremost a later development, meant to answer Eastern objections. It is not the content of Patristic teaching. In any case, what is the one principle that the Father and Son share? Is it energetic? No, you guys deny that category. Is it of the essence? Can’t be, otherwise the Spirit would have it too. Is it hypostatic? Then only one of them can have it.

    Contra Pannenberg, the reason why the West felt constrained to do so was because they were working with a Platonic notion of essence and it was the only way to stave off Arianism. This is why Augustine has to use Aristotle’s notion of relation to gloss the persons because he has inherited a Platonic notion of essence as absolutely simple. For the East, strictly speaking, there are no relations of origin for there is nothing between the persons per Athanasius. Seeing the Father as the arche of the other two persons only results in subordinationalism if you confuse person and nature, as the Hellenists did and you pick up their confusion or rather lack of distinction as can be seen in Justin Martyr. This same problem motivates worries about Tritheism which confuses person and nature. Passages like Eph 1:17 do not speak of the economia only but of the theologia. The Father is eternally the God and Father of the Eternal Son without inequality of essence for it is the Father’s essence, which is why the Father alone (contra Calvin) is autotheos. The dependence relation is personal rather than essential.

    I can’t see how Pannenberg’s recommendation of expanding the relations beyond those of origination is helpful since given simplicity the difference is epistemic and not real. It might produce a speculative model, but such a model would be a theological corpse as a theoretical construction due to human limitations.

    In any case, an ecumenical council ratified by the papacy condemned the teaching in 880 A.D.


  93. Perry,
    I’m guessing this means you want me to respond, so here goes:
    1) Sacraments don’t “become” valid because the Church declares them so. They were either efficacious to begin with or they weren’t.
    2) We’re just going to have to agree to disagree about 90% of what you wrote above, because I do not and can not agree with your statement that “God is not being.” I understand that it is easier within the Eastern tradition to make this move (although I think other avenues are possible, like that of St. John Damascene, for example). If we do describe God as “being,” we obviously do not want to attribute finitude to him in the process. However, I think such statements as “God is not being” are inherently dangerous and do not clarify what one means by the word “God.”
    3) It is obvious that you have spent a lot of time reading and studying the Fathers, and for that I commend you. However, I think your reading of them is quite innovative, so say the least. I want to deal seriously with your arguments, but you have set up so many strawmen that it is difficult to do so. The idea that personal properties can’t be shared without being essential properties is something that Photios had to assume in order to make his polemic against the filioque work, but as he was the first to make such an assertion, I think that’s status as an appropriate interpretation of divine revelation must be demonstrated and not simply asserted. Athanasius taught that God is his essence and that the Father and the Son have all things in common except being Father and Son. Not only does this provide some initial support for the Western view, it also creates problems for a total apophaticism. What if I deleted the word “being” from my sentence about Athanasius? Would it even make any sense?
    The entire Eastern tradition has held that the Son and the Spirit have a relation of origin to the Father. I find ironic that you would deny tradition in the name of tradition. In the end, I think your suspicion of natural/philosophical theology is misguided, dangerous, and ultimately self-defeating, on top of the fact that the Eastern Fathers produced some of the greatest masterpieces of philosophical theology ever to be written. I think that the Eastern tradition is against you and Daniel on this point…and my former priest agrees with me on this. The idea that the West adopted wholesale a Platonic notion of essence is grossly inaccurate…ousia for the West always meant something concrete, not abstract, and this in large part can be traced back to the homoousion itself in its effects on Latin theology through Augustine and Boethius. But there was always a clear distinction in Western theology between person and nature…I find it surprising that you would make an assertion to the contrary, given the evidence. The Eastern tradition much larger, richer, and vaster than the narrow view of it given by Lossky and the formerly-Protestant converts to Eastern Orthodoxy, who have simply taken their old anti-Catholic prejudices with them, a prejudice that you will not necessarily find among Orthodox in other parts of the world. I therefore do not identify the Eastern tradition (which I revere as a Catholic, it being part of the Catholic faith) and modern Eastern Orthodoxy (which I reject because I believe that it is schismatic, though not heretical).


  94. Perry,
    Regarding divine simplicity, Western theology has always understood “simplicity” to mean the same thing as “uncompounded,” or “without parts.” “Uncompounded,” I might add, is a term that occurs in the writings of many of the Fathers and occurs frequently in the Byzantine Liturgy with reference to God. The assertion that God is without parts is meant to exclude the notion that there is any being (there’s that word again!) ontologically “above” God. For if God were “composed,” he would need a cause prior to himself to compose him. The idea that God is “self-caused” is not an option because it is inherently self-contradictory. A denial of divine simplicity is thus tantamount to an assertion that God has parts. Either he has parts or he doesn’t. Do you believe God is composed?


  95. Drew:

    I think you’d like my blog. Check it out by clicking my username.


    …Catholics like Michael Liccione have decided in advance that they will never admit that Rome is wrong not matter what is logically or historically demonstrated.

    Having interacted with me on these questions for two years, even you would have to admit on reflection that the above is a bit of rhetorical self-indulgence. For one thing, the fact that I’m Catholic and will remain Catholic does not mean I’ve decided anything “in advance” of sustained study, prayer, and reflection. As I’ve explained in the blogosphere, I decided to become a serious Catholic only after as serious an investigation of Orthodoxy as I could undertake at the time the question was live for me. That your arguments against defined Catholic dogma don’t persuade me can hardly be depicted as ignorant apriorism. All it means is that I’m Catholic and you’re not, which everybody knew already.

    In fact, I do think there are problems with the filioque. E.g., I have said many times that I believe Rome needlessly wounded Church unity by inserting the phrase into the Ecumenical Creed; and I’ve said so all the while believing the phrase to express an important truth when suitably construed. Mine is the exact same position as that of Leo III after he crowned Charlemagne “Emperor of the Romans.” That is why he steadfastly refused the insertion despite the Emperor’s pressure. In my opinion, Rome’s finally caving to the Franks on the point in 1014 was one sign that the Gregorian Reform, soon to occur, was necessary for freeing the papacy and the Church from manipulation by secular rulers.

    As to the doctrine itself, do I think the phrase filioque expresses it as clearly as I’d like? No, I don’t. The phrase can be understood in what I believe to be at least one orthodox sense; but it can be and has been construed in at least one heterodox sense as well. That’s one reason I’ve undertaken my project. Do I think Florence’s phrase “as from one principle” objectively sufficient to quell Orthodox concerns about dual procession? No, which is why a fuller formulation is needed. So I don’t find Rome’s record on this matter spotless by a long shot. But am I, as a Catholic, about to say that a council which produced dogmatic decrees approved by a majority from the East as well as from the West, and ratified by the papacy itself as binding on the East as well as the West, is in error? Of course not. That would be, in your terms, “giving up the theological ghost,” i.e. ceasing to be Catholic. But the fact that I have no intention of repudiating Catholicism counts as a criticism only if one assumes Catholicism to be false; and that’s hardly an assumption you can expect a Catholic to share.



  96. Post removed.

    Michael S.,

    If you wish to argue and discuss here, fine well and good. If you wish to imply dishonesty, do it on your own blog.

    And now back to our regularly scheduled vivisection…


  97. Mike:
    Thanks for the link…I’ll be sure to be a regular visitor of your site. 🙂

    I’m getting to that point myself. “Dialogue with the Orthodox” is beginning to seem like an oxymoron. And that’s why I left Eastern Orthodoxy to become Catholic. Thanks for the tip!


  98. Apotheoun wrote:

    There is a version of the “Synodikon of Orthodoxy” on my website, but it does not include the “Synodikon of the Holy Spirit.” The latter text is available in the book mentioned by Photios earlier in this thread.

    The Synodikon of the Holy Spirit is available at

    (There is a TON of comments I wish I had time to make on this thread, but……)



  99. Drew,
    1. This shows that we have a different sacramental theology. I’d suggest looking at the canons from various ecumenical councils (the first 8) on the reception of schismatics and heretics.
    If we are just going to have to disagree about 90% of what I wrote I wonder why you wrote so much in response. If you cannot agree with the statement that God is hyper-ousia then you are going to have to chuck Dionysius as well as the Cappadocians. Nyssa contra Eunomius makes it clear that none of the divine names denote the ousia in any sense because God is hyper ousia. And John of Damascus won’t be any help you either once you pass the English translations, which often confuse ousia with energia as a single term of “being.” Ousia is not the uncontroversial semantic equivalent in Latin for esse. That is something you will have to demonstrate. Good luck with that.
    I don’t know why finitude would even enter your mind. In any case, you are quite right that God as hyperousia or not being does not clarify what one means by the word “God.” If God is incomprehensible, what exactly is there to clarify? Moreover, it is no more dangerous than such speech found in the Fathers. And, it is exactly that kind of language that motivates the scholastics to come up with various accounts of talking about deity in the first place. The language is so present in the Fathers that the Scholastics cannot ignore it and must incorporate it in some manner. Consequently, I am on much stronger grounds that you imply.
    3. I am sure that my reading appears innovative to you but it does so to many people who aren’t familiar with Orthodox theology or so has been my experience. If we are grounding our judgments on anecdotal evidence, I must apologize in favoring my own experience over yours.
    I think Saint Photios had a good reason for assuming as he did about hypostatic properties, namely that it was the Nicene tradition. When you refer to Athanasius’ supposed belief that God is his essence, to whom does the pronoun refer? And certainly Athanasius doesn’t think this is the case in the way that Augustine does in De Trinitate books 1-6 since the concept of essence used there is a Platonic notion which he eschews. Consequently your assertion is too vague to do any real argumentative work. Moreover, being Father for Athanasius is being arche or source, which is why the Son can’t be a source. Consequently, I can’t see how it creates any problems for “total apophaticism” at least not how I understand it. The Cappadocian claim against the Arians was that we worship that which we do not know. If you deleted “being” would the statement make sense, you ask? That depends, do you mean esse or ousia? If the latter, no and that is just the point. The reason why the Arians are wrong is because there is no intervening being or relation of will between Father and Son. The Arians think that the essence is simple and person and nature are identical in such a way as to preclude a real and consequently hypostatic difference. To deny being or any conceptual import to the divine ousia cuts off any Arian syllogism at the knees.
    As for relation, I think you are equivocating because you haven’t grasped my meaning. You need to sit down with Aristotle’s Categories and Augustine’s De Trinitate. Relation is a category of being that Augustine uses to ground his notion of person. It is in this sense that I denied any relation of origen. None of the Categories apply to God ad intra. We can talk about relations of origen such as begotten and procession, but as the Cappadocians teach, these terms have no conceptual content, on pain of insanity. Hence persons are not relations. Consequently, I am not denying tradition at all. Rather you need to brush up on your Aristotle to grasp what I am in fact saying. (Athanasius wouldn’t hurt either.)
    As for philosophical theology, this depends on what one means. If you mean something like the idea that philosophy gives conceptual content to theology, then I must emphatically deny that they did any such thing. Theology burst the wineskins of the philosophers, which is why every major heresy was the product of importing philosophical content to theological terms.
    If your former priest agrees with you, this only matters if your former priest is correct and informed. My Protopresbyter and Archbishop disagrees with you and your former priest. Now what? Arguments like these are worthless. You need to demonstrate your points.
    I think you have inherited a nice myth conerning Plato. Plato doesn’t take forms to be abstract in a Lockean sense or any other sense. This is because forms or essences are the causes of things and abstract objects are causally inert. Moreover, plenty of Catholic philosophers indicate that the notion that Augustine, the Carolingians and the Scholastics are working with is, by and large Platonic. Read Gilson for example. He is very clear about it. Who do you think I learned this stuff from? I didn’t learn it from the Orthodox but from Catholic sources and well respected conservative ones at that. And arguing from Augustine and Boethius as a shield against Platonism is rather funny. Augustine is a Platonists and so is Boethius. Moreover, Platonism comes in lots of flavors and morphs over time. It includes a spectrum of beliefs.
    If Latin theology has always had a clear distinction between person and nature, when you pray to Saint Peter, do you pray to his person or his soul? Not a little ink was spilled on that question.
    I am not relying on Lossky or converts in any exclusive manner. As I said before, I can make my case apart from them as I think there is ample data among contemporary Patristic scholars to support my claims. Moreover, even if converts brought there anti-Catholic prejudices with them, this is no different than Catholic converts inheriting anti-Orthodox prejudices from older Catholic polemical works. Ad hominems do no work for you, not to mention the fact that I don’t believe I have invoked popular Protestant convert works. In case you haven’t noticed, we don’t play kiddie games here. I have enough professional competence in philosophy that I don’t need to appeal to such works. I wouldn’t be translating swaths of Augustine by myself if I did.
    Uncompounded is unclear as say Aquinas rules out not only physical composition, but metaphysical composition. It isn’t clear that Scotus does so for example. In any case, for Aquinas, God is absolutely simple such that all attributions while true of him apart from their proper mode of signification are identical with each other and identical with the divine essence. The notion of form as a type of limitation is clearly a Platonic concept. Since a denial of composition doesn’t logically entail (nor on historical grounds either) Aquinas’ view ( Scotus didn’t think so) I don’t see why I am saddled with Aquinas’ view of a denial of all plurality in God.
    The argument you give from the Summa Theologia only works if we remove persons from the equation. Essences don’t move themselves from potency to act in any case so any affirmation of a real composition of potency in the divine essence doesn’t threaten God qua creator. Persons bring real potencies to act or energia. So God both has parts and he doesn’t. Of course, each of these “parts” is completely present to every other “part” and each of the three divine persons are fully present in each and every infinite one of them. Trying to destroy my position with dialectic won’t work since my system is not dialectical.


  100. Micheal Liccone,

    Micheal I was commenting from memory because I recalled your statements were quite blunt. Rhetorical or not, all I need is the logical content in any case. If you will remain Catholic how does that not imply that you will remain so regardless of what you may discover? The comments above aren’t intended to depict you as ignorant, but as in the same position I am being accused of being in.

    If you think your view matches Leo III’s, perhaps you can direct me to some primary sources that would indicate that that was Leo’s reasoning. If your read were right, one would expect the Gregorian reforms to result in the revocation of the filioque and not its maintence practically at the point of a sword.

    As for the 880 council, given our last discussion on it here, I don’t expect to move you. But prima facia the council did have papal approval and assent from the East on the matter. Since that is so, and it is not in error, it seems to me that one is forced to admit that something went seriously wrong in its revocation by the Latins and that conclusion can be reached on their own principles. Please explain to me, since I obviously do not understand the official teaching on this point. Can the pope vacate papally approved ecumenical decisions?

    Since there is a lot of rancor going around, let it be known, that I would happily discharge intellectual weapons against liberals, Moors and infidels along side Michael Liccione any day of the week (assuming of course there is some good dark ale involved.)


  101. Perry,
    I have read plenty of Plato and Aristotle. I would say that I have a fairly strong familiarity with Athanasius. I chose him for my patron saint because of the strong impact his writings and legacy have had on my life and thought. In terms of the sources you mentioned, there’s nothing you’ve read that I haven’t. You’re simply convinced that my reading of all these people’s works is bound to be wrong if my interpretation happens to either support Roman Catholic dogma or threaten your rather unique reconstructions.
    “God both has parts and he doesn’t?” Come on Perry, tricks are for kids. Were you staring out the window during philosophy class when they covered the Law of Noncontradiction? It’s really amazing how willing you are to spout nonsense just to avoid agreeing with the Catholic Church. You can’t even agree with us that “God is being.” And you haven’t addressed a single one of my critiques of contemporary Orthodox theology in America. You and Daniel have yet to demonstrate how your method differs in any respect from a mere exercise of private judgment. There’s really not much more I can write. It’s impossible to rationally argue with nonsense.



  102. Drew,

    By chance, you’re not Cathedra Unitatis?

    From the look of things, it would seem that perhaps no Orthodox could convince you either, Drew. It seems you had your mind pretty much made up from the get go to denounce anything that would offer a view alternate to that of the Roman Catholic Church as narrow and pointless to debate with.
    Perhaps it would be wise to consider that if what the Roman Catholic Church teaches and holds to be true a corresponding worldview is operative where statements like the ones Perry, Daniel and other Orthodox make are absurd and worse yet, delusional, having no basis within that grid to be made any sense of.
    Of course, such is the case if the Orthodox worldview is correct. And I think here lies the crux of the problem in that we do not stand on the same ground to make any sense of anything being said. We are actually speaking two diffrent languages.
    Earlier, you told Photios, “And don’t start with that nonsense about us meaning different things when we say ‘Father’. Drew, we do mean something different.
    You also have repeatedly expressed admiration for your “Eastern brethren and their tradition” and tying this admiration to your desire for unity(I think that’s why you posted here in the first place). Would it be ok to bring to your attention
    that the reason that this tradition even exists for you to admire is because Orthodox such as the narrow ones you dislike insisted on staying separate from Rome confessing a faith foreign to the one she previosuly held in common with the East?
    Perhaps the answering on your part of one question would be sufficient to begin ecumenical diologue, if that’s what you truly want. Was the Christian faith Rome held ever Orthodox?


  103. “The reason why the Arians are wrong is because there is no intervening being or relation of will between Father and Son.”

    I have the impression that the Son’s will is subject to the Father’s from my reading of Christ’s Gethsemane statement, “Not my will but Thine be done.” But perhaps it’s His human will that is subject. But then why would He attribute the will to His Father?

    I guess the question is what is the nature of the relationship between the Trinity. Independent sameness, somehow sourced by the Father, dependence of the Son and Holy Spirit on the Father (seems too weak) for existing (or hyper-existing), or some kind of hyper relationship that is unknowable to us. But He invites participation in this relationship by His energies and by our partaking, so I’m thinking reading the lives of the Saints will help show what that’s like. My impression of the Saints is that they experience completion and energetic, generous inspiration.


  104. Hi Drew,
    I think if I am understanding Perry and Daniel right they are saying God does not have parts qua what he is in his inner most nature but, he does have parts qua his energies. A ligitimate distinction that makes sense of the statment “God both has parts and does not have parts”. Just like the Christian would deny the critic the claim that we deny the law of non-contradiciton because we say God is three and one, we would respond that he is one qua essence and three qua person, so I think the Orthodox make a similar kind of move with the essence/energies distinction.


  105. Mr. Drew Johnson wrote
    “God both has parts and he doesn’t?” Come on Perry, tricks are for kids. Were you staring out the window during philosophy class when they covered the Law of Noncontradiction?

    Here is what we get when we say “God is being”; and what using Aristotle as a prism, primer, heuristic, prolegomenon or syntactical and lexical form for our vision of God gives us. Had he stayed awake–or not looked out the window– during philosophy class Mr. Johnson would know that Aristotle in his Logic, book gamma, argued that the law of contradiction pertained first to existence, and as such was a law governing predication only by consequent. Ahh, but wait, for the Cappadocians and St. Athanasius (and this much prior to Denis and St. Maximos), God is beyond predication (oh, wait, that’s in Irenaeus and Theophilus–St. Paul and St. John….you get the picture), i.e., God is beyond being. Therefore, God is beyond also the law of contradiction. This is why Orthodoxy does not import dialectic into its theological methodology, for it would make an idol of the Holy Trinity, circumscribing God. If Mr. Johnson wants someone other than we upstart nouveau-Orthodox to testify to this, we thralls to our seigneur Lossky, let him go to his own former cardinal bishop of St. Peter in Vincula, Nicholas de Cues (d.1464), who admitted that he got his own concepts of God beyond being, and God beyond the coincidence of opposites from “the divine Dionysus” and St. Maximos, whose commentary on Dionysus he owned and pilfered. You can see his De visione Dei and De coniecturis, inter alia, along with his earlier (1442) De docta ignorantia for his jettisoning of the law of contradiction when dealing with God.

    Mr. Johnson,

    I don’t know you and don’t believe I have ever come across anything you have written, and since I don’t comment on blogs (I have found them little different than brar rabbit punching the tar baby), and as this is the only one I really read anymore, I doubt I shall ever have the opportunity to comment to you again, but please learn some manners and practice some patience. You grow frustrated after some brief interaction and start hurling around all sorts of recriminations. Is this the patience of the Saints that shall heal this schism? It reflects poorly on your creed, and poorly on your parents: if faith does not constrain you, than perhaps affection would. Dialogue is for dialectic, not for Bulverism. Theological debate demands hours of explication, and is best done when people can sit down over some well-lined tankards at the Turf Tavern or within the confines of an imperial palace or a cathedral and spend days upon particular points. You want Perry and Photios to cover the entire gamut of the life of the intellect in an hour’s reading. This is not, alas how it is done. Perhaps you can do this on your own blog to instruct our vacuous minds in this craft.

    Pax omnibus,



  106. Drew,

    I’d recommend that you look at John D. Jones’ (Marquette Univ) works on St. Dionysius. He has translations and a monograph on the Divine Names and Mystical Theology. Just some non-dialectical statements or rather both/and dialectic that describe Dionysius’ conception: The Divinity: is all things and none of those things. The Divinity itself: Nothing.

    For Dionysius, the divinity is not a supreme being, or Ipse Esse Subsistens as the Scholastics maintain, the divinity is beyond any conception of Being whatsoever. As Jones maintains, the West deeply mistunderstands Dionysius and it is completely different from classical metaphysics (if we are to even call Dionysius’s theology “metaphysics”). Bluster all you want about how we should be agreeing with you that that “God IS Being,” but we aren’t making this stuff up. The fact that you didn’t understand this and your surprise at Perry’s statement tells me that you didn’t really have your arm around Orthodox theology.

    I’m sorry, but you have not given a critique of any kind of contemporary Orthodoxy. All you’ve done is made a lot of assertions about what you think we’re supposed to be believing AS Orthodox. All I see so far from you is just a lot of bluster and frustration at what we are saying.

    St. Photios never made up that the hypostatic properties were absolutely unique. It is simply the Tradition handed to him. How you could read my paper on Gregory of Nyssa and say that you were “enjoying it,” when this is an actual teaching of Gregory is amazing to me.



  107. Cyril,

    How does that law of non-contradiction work out with respect to the Incarnation? What two heresies did the dialectical method produce?



  108. Photios,
    What is the “dialectical method” you and Perry speak of? And how is it related to the law of noncontradiction? Thanks.



  109. Cyril,
    I have shown no more rudeness than my opponents have to me both here and at other venues. When discussions involve one’s faith, disagreements are likely to get heated. I’m sure that everyone here has the maturity not to take that fact too personally. I don’t. But to contrast me with Perry and Daniel along those lines is a little silly, no offense.



  110. The dialectical method is knowing things through their mutual opposition, such that they can’t exist without each other. Cold is not the cold without the existence of the hot, and the cold cannot “be” the cold without the hot. Its be-ing is totally dependent on the other and vice-versa. The dialectic wishes to separate things into these categories, such that a thing is either one or the other, which relates to the principle of non-contradiction. A thing is either hot or it is cold, but not both. The essence is identical to the Father’s property of ingenerate. The Supreme Being is the Father. The Supreme Being is ingenerate. All properties that are not in opposition to ingeneracy are identical to it and predicable of the divine essence. The Son is generate. Generacy is in opposition to Ingeneracy. Thus, the Son is not the same essence as the Father. Or another example: the divine nature is infinite, the Son is identical to the divine nature. Christ is also the Son. Christ is infinite. Human nature is finite. A human person is a human nature and its properties. Christ is finite. Christ is both finite and infinite, but the law of non-contradiction says this cannot be. Thus, Christ must be a union between two different and opposing hypostases to satisfy the principle.

    And so they say in harnessing they’re dialectical tools…Gregory says they start with philosophy instead of scripture. He also calls this method “blasphemous” in conceptualizing the Trinity.

    I’m surprised you asked me this question. If you read my paper as you say you did, since it is all spelled out there in more detail.



  111. Photios,

    This is interesting. I have a question that is somewhat off-topic and probably not even fully formed in my head yet. If this is too much of a digression, let me know and we can take it to e-mail, assuming it yields an extended dialog. Regarding the problem of evil, I understand that the classic Christian teaching is that evil is not a “thing” properly speaking but is nothing more than the distortion and privation of good. I also understand that this conception of evil has pre-Christian roots, namely in Neo-Platonism. Is this not defining evil dialectically, by what it is opposed to, i.e. the good? Or is there any other way to define it? My thoughts on this, as I warned, are not fully formed.


  112. Michael writes “In fact, I do think there are problems with the filioque. E.g., I have said many times that I believe Rome needlessly wounded Church unity by inserting the phrase into the Ecumenical Creed.’

    Strictly speaking, this is not a position open to a Roman Catholic, for the council of Florence declares (session 8): “In the first place, then, we give them the holy creed issued by the hundred and fifty bishops in the ecumenical council of Constantinople, with the added phrase and the Son, which for the sake of declaring the truth and from urgent necessity was licitly and reasonably added to that creed”.



  113. Photios writes: “Cold is not the cold without the existence of the hot, and the cold cannot “be” the cold without the hot…. The dialectic wishes to separate things into these categories… which relates to the principle of non-contradiction”

    There’s a danger of running at least two importantly distinct things together here. First, there is the Platonic tendency to forget that lots of features come in degrees, and to set up opposing categories of existence into which everything must fall; e.g. the world of Forms (absolutely incorruptible, absolutely intelligible, absolutely divine, etc.) and the world of matter (absolutely corruptible, unintelligible, etc.). Second, there is the idea that each group of existences requires the other for its status.

    And third, there is the principle of non-contradiction: nothing is both F and not-F, for any predicate ‘F’. Now, luckily the first two ideas can be abandoned without abandoning non-contradiction. For example: there are degrees of goodness, so it’s not the case that everything is either absolutely evil or absolutely good– or even that everything can be decomposed into absolutely evil elements and absolutely good elements. But this does not mean that we must say of anything that it is both good and not good– which, assuming the contextual standard in play remains constant, makes no sense. Things are better and worse– not everything fits the absolute categories, but we needn’t be involved in self-contradiction to affirm this.


  114. P.S. It’s a good thing, too, that we can avoid the first two ideas without contradicting ourselves. The Fathers stretch our conceptual frameworks (“God is in one sense one and in another sense three”), but tend to avoid outright contradiction: e.g. “God is one and not one in the very same sense” cannot literally be true.


  115. David Richards,

    Yes I think there is a different definition of evil that St. Dionysius uses that is a modification of the Platonic notion of evil as an absence of the good or something. I think it would be great for me to post something on this. As this is the definition that Maximus follows: namely evil as dialectical opposition. I shall elaborate further in a different post.


    Thanks for the clarification and I do agree with you, but I wished to speak in term of Christology and Triadology where there is not a more or less which drives the point home a little stronger. For Gregory of Nyssa the object of predication is not an essence, but always the subject, a person. Christ is finite, Christ is infinite. Christ is one hypostasis. Nestorianism says, “how can this be? how can a single “thing” be both finite and infinite? Hence, their must be two hypostases.” For Gregory, this just points to the next step of the ordo theologiae, the different character of these properties of the Hypostasis points to Him having two distinct natures. Nestorianism can’t fathom this because properties are first considered about a nature, and a person then coming to be considered last in the order to consist of a nature and its properties.



  116. Photios: right. Of course, if we weren’t tied to the principle of non-contradiction, we could say ‘Christ is finite, Christ is infinite’ in exactly the same sense, without appealing to two natures.


  117. David,

    There is indeed a “logic” to patristic christology, but I do not believe it is one that is acceptable to the Hellenist. How there can be the content of “opposite properties that are reconciled and contained in a single hypostasis” (to quote Athanasius) violates the principle of non-contradiction to the Hellenist, and is ideed the mystery and paradox of the Incarnation, which is foolishness to the greeks.



  118. Mystery, paradox: yes. Contradiction, no. I don’t know what “violates the principle of non-contradiction to the Hellenist” means. Maybe you mean this: the Hellenist requires that a single hypostasis is (i) unqualifiedly in the realm of the infinite, or (ii) unqualifiedly in the realm of the finite, or (iii) composed (hylomorphically or otherwise) by two elements, one of which is unqualifiedly in each realm. However, none of this follows from the principle of non-contradiction without extraneous Platonistic premises.

    The question isn’t whether the reconciliation of opposite properties in a single hypostasis violates the principle “for the Hellenist”, whatever that amounts to; the question is whether it violates the principle *period*. It does not.


  119. I agree with David that the Chalcedonian dogma does not violate the Law of Noncontradiction. However, I would also say that this principle is, as with any other controversy, the ultimate test for the truth or falsity of any teaching. Part of the reason the heresies were heresies was because they were nonsense. Arianism is a classical example of what happens when contradictions are allowed to creep into theology. They taught that Christ was a creature, and yet they gave him the kind of worship due only to deity. This was the basis of the charge that Arianism was a return to polytheism. This one instance turns Photios’ argument on its head in terms of how the Law of Noncontradiction ought to be used (and has been traditionally used) in systematic theology.



  120. Drew: but I think Photios is right about the polarizing tendencies of the Hellenists; I just don’t think what he has in mind should be identified with the principle of non-contradiction.


  121. David,
    He may be. I tend to think that understanding “Hellenism” as a unified system of thought is a bit ambitious, but to each his own. What do you think he has in mind? He seems to imply by his (and Perry’s) use of the word “dialectic” to mean “any system that begins from the Law of Noncontradiction.” If that’s not he’s trying to say, fair enough, but at this point, I have difficulty seeing the distinction. I you could clarify it for me, I would appreciate it.


  122. Photios: we do not say that the one hypostasis, the unique theandric prosopon, is both divine and not divine. We do not say that He is human and not human. We say that He is synthetos, with natures that can be separated in theoria only. (We do not even say that he is finite and non-finite, full stop; he is finite insofar as he is human and non-finite insofar as he is divine.)

    Of course, language is inadequate to this mystery, which is why so much of the language of the doctrine must be apophatic: the union is unconfused, unchanging, unseparated, undivided (asyngchytos, atreptos, achoristos, adiairetos).

    But let us not confuse the following two claims:

    1. There are truths that cannot be expressed in language
    2. Some contradictions are true.

    The first claim, which is true, tells us that language is limited in a certain way– it tells us that there are things we can’t do with any sentence. The second claim is not about what’s beyond language at all– it tells us about what *can* be done with a certain kind of sentence (contradictions)– we can express truths with them. The truth of the first claim is completely consistent with the falsehood of the second.

    A useful analogy here is the incompleteness of the standard first-order language of arithmetic. What Godel showed is that a certain kind of language is limited in a well-defined sense: there are truths of mathematics that it cannot prove. It doesn’t follow that there are true contradictions in the language of mathematics.

    Where language is inadequate, even contradictions are inadequate. What can’t be said can’t be said, and it can’t be whistled either. (Or stated using a contradiction.)


  123. Well done, David. This may in turn lead us back into some of the controversies surrounding the Trinity and Christology: in Chalcedon we see that “hypostasis” is not a univocal concept in theology. At Constantinople I the term denoted the principle of distinction; at Chalcedon it denoted the principle of unity. The first time I saw it put this way was in Karl Rahner. Do you think that Orthodox in general are aware of this issue and the ramifications it is has for understanding the theology of the Fathers?



  124. Drew: do you mean Constantinople II? And “are the Orthodox aware” of the fact that ‘hypostasis’ can be used in different ways? Consider the statement of the Commission of the Theological Dialogue between the Orthodox Church and the Oriental Orthodox Churches: “The term hypostasis can be used to denote both the person as distinct from nature, and also the person with the nature, for a hypostasis never in fact exists without a nature.” It would be a little irritating if you’re suggesting that the Orthodox don’t understand a polysemy in a theological term originating in the East– but Rahner does.


  125. David,
    What faith tradition, may I ask?

    When scripture says Christ is man? What is the object predication here? Person or nature? As a general category, is man finite or infinite?



  126. Hi David,
    I stand corrected on the second item, regarding the statement by the Commission of the Theological Dialogue. In all fairness, however, the fact that the term originated in the East does not mean that every Eastern Church/communion understands terms and their usage in the same way. I wasn’t meaning to be polemical on that point; I was genuinely curious if that was a topic of discussion among modern Orthodox theologians, as I have not come across it. But I have only read those works which are currently in English translation. Thanks for the clarification.
    On the first item, I meant Constantinople I, not II, because Const. I defined the trinitarian persons as hypostases, and I was contrasting this with the use of the same term at Chalcedon with reference to Christ’s personhood in relation to his divine and human natures. I hope that adequately clarifies what I meant.



  127. Sorry guys. I see no error in Eunomius’s logic and principles IF he starts from the premise that the divine essence is defined by the personal feature of the Father: ingenerate. This does two things:1) confuses person and nature, and 2) the method of distinguishing the hypostases, or rather hypostasis and being are the same thing to Eunomius, is dialectical: Ingernate Generate.

    Gregory’s solution isn’t that Eunomius is illogical or has a contradiction. It’s that his starting premises are UNFOUNDED (to use Gregory’s term). That is, there is a problem with the way that Eunomius is addressing these questions AND the order that he is addressing them. Person is subsumed under Essence, Scripture is subsumed under Philosophy. Eunomius is the “natural theologian” par excellent.

    “[Eunomius’s system] starts from data that are not granted, and then it constructs by mere logic a blasphemy upon them.”

    “In order, then, to render their attack upon the Savior efficacious, this is the blasphemous method that they have adopted. There is no need, they urge, of looking at the collective attributes by which the Son’s equality in honour and dignity with the Father is signified, but from the opposition between generate and ungenerate we must argue a distinctive difference of nature…”

    “[Eunomius] opposes the arrangement of Scripture…”

    “For while there are many other names by which Deity is indicated in the Historical Books, in the Prophets and in the Law, our Master Christ passes by all these and commits to us these titles as better able to bring us to the faith about the Self-Existent, declaring that it suffices us to cling to the title, “Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,” in order to attain apprehension of Him Who is absolutely Existent, Who is one and yet not one.”

    Mar Gregoros, states: “For Eunomius the conclusions of strict logic are finally authoritative…[for the Cappadocians] the teachings of the Church becomes a criterion for evaluating the validity of the logic used.”

    Now many places in my paper I state that for Gregory there is no “contradiction” in stating that there is real distinction in God among energies or Persons and God being one for him. This is because for Gregory the principle of non-contradiction takes on a Christian context within the order of which he considers theological questions. Without the ordo theologiae of Persons—Operations—Essence, it falls apart, in which both a confusion of person and nature results (i.e. starting from the principles of “natural theology” to conceptualize God in which properties are predicated of essences prior to and before considering Persons) and result of Hypostases having distinct and opposed natures (not to mention hypostases being just the same thing as natures).

    Having stated this, I leave it open that David and I are not too far in disagreement. I’m not sure who you are David, but you seem like a pretty sharp guy. Perhaps you could give some information about yourself.



  128. Hi Photios.

    You wrote: “When scripture says Christ is man? What is the object predication here? Person or nature? As a general category, is man finite or infinite?”

    The object of predication is the Person of Christ. And insofar as any hypostasis is man, it is thereby finite. But it doesn’t follow that we must say that Christ is finite and not finite in exactly the same way and the same sense. While Christ is unqualifiedly human and unqualifiedly divine– so that in no way is he non-human or non-divine, I do not think it must (or can) be said that Christ is unqualifiedly finite and unqualifiedly not finite. This is because to say he is unqualifiedly finite would be to rule out his being non-finite in some way.

    There are other cases where predication works this way, though I don’t suggest them as ontological analogs– only linguistic ones. E.g. John is unqualifiedly a doctor and unqualifiedly a golfer. (In no way is he a non-doctor or a non-golfer.) But he’s successful as a doctor and not successful as a golfer. So is John both successful and not successful? Yes, but not unqualifiedly. To repeat, this is not an ontological analog because being a doctor and a golfer is nothing like having two natures; indeed there is no precedent or parallel to the unique God-man. The point here is purely negative: the doctrine does not force acceptance of a contradiction any more than in many other cases where a predicate and its negation are applied to the same individual.

    That is why, to use the Joint Commission’s language, the predicate ‘human’ applies directly to the hypostasis in the sense of ‘person as distinct from nature’, and ‘finite’ applies to the hypostasis in the sense of ‘person with the nature’– in this case the human nature.

    About me: I’m convert to Catholicism who is on the verge of becoming Orthodox; philosophy professor, and father of three.


  129. To emphasize the linguistic parallel: John is only successful *as doctor*, though he is a doctor straight up (not as anything). Christ is finite *as human*, though He is human straight up.


  130. Well David, after glossing back over your statements, I believe I’m in agreement with you. I think your additions of “not unqualifiedly” erased my concerns. Welcome aboard, and I hope you continue to participate on our blog, in which Perry and I are the founders. We have two other contributors: Steven Todd Kaster and Thomas Ross Valentine.

    I take it, at the moment, you wish to be somewhat anonymous.



  131. btw, thanks Todd for your earlier helpful comments on the Monarchy of the Father. I don’t fully understand the nature of the communion between the Trinity, but that’s probably one of those you must climb St. John’s Ladder types of understanding.


  132. Daniel: I think I agree with what you say about Eunomius above, though it’s not always clear to me what you mean. As for my full name, you can ask Perry about that; I’ve had some contact with him by email, but haven’t had the time yet for an extended discussion (grading etc) but I hope to soon.

    Drew: Fair enough; thanks for the exchange.



  133. There have been a lot of issues thrown about in this thread. If I had more time, I’d jump in, but since history is an area of particular importance to me and in which I have done a great deal of reading (and my study of history was ultimately the reason I chose Orthodox Catholic Christianity over Papal Christianity), I feel compelled to point out some of the numerous errors regarding history I’ve seen.

    Newman famously wrote, ‘To be deep [i.e. well-read – trv] in history is to cease to be a Protestant’. This is, of course, true – as far as it goes. If one is well-read in history beyond the history of Western civilisation (I am using ‘civilisation’ in the sense of Anderle, Bagby, Coulborn, Danilevsky, Gobineau, Koneczny, Kroeber, Quigley, Sedgwick, Spengler, Toynbee, et al.), not only is it impossible to adhere to Protestant Christianity, it is equally impossible to adhere to Papal Christianity.

    I like to say that disproving Papal Christianity by examination of history is like shooting fish in a barrel, but disproving Protestant Christianity by examination of history is like shooting very large fish in a very small barrel with a very large piece of artillery!

    I think it would be better if we replaced ‘Franks’ with ‘Germanic tribes’ in these discussions. Although the Greek word φραγκιά (literally ‘Frankia’) has a broad application (φραγκεύω means to become a Papal Christian; the adjective φραγκικος means Frankish or Papal Christian or West European; φραγκος refers to a Frank or a Papal Christian; φραγκόκρατία refers to Frankish domination (of Greece); φραγκόπαπας refers to a papist priest), English uses ‘Frank’ in a far more restricted manner. Although the Franks were dominant amongst the Germanic tribes in the last few centuries of the first millennium, the Franks as a distinctive group did not long exist into the second millennium.

    In the ‘A Great Website’ thread, Nick Spitzer asked for an historical explanation ‘where the East isn’t just knifed in the back at their moment of need by the Franks.’ I think the question is fundamentally unfair. Governments typically put concern for their own needs before the needs of others. When the (East) Roman Empire was in critical need of help from the West, they were not ‘knifed’ inasmuch as the West did not attack the East – they simply did not provide any assistance. This is really no different than the East Roman’s abandonment of the West Roman Empire as it was overrun by the Germanic tribes. It wasn’t a case of actively engaging in a negative action, but a failure to provide a positive action. There was a time, however, when the West did ‘knife in the back’ the (East) Roman Empire: 1204 – 1261. And most historians agree this was a wound from which the East never recovered. Had the events of 1204 not occurred, it is probable that the Roman Empire would have lasted beyond 1453 (though how much longer would be conjecture).

    In the same thread, Photios wrote:

    On the Franks and the Pope, I do not believe Leo III ever lossed his loyalty to the Imperium Romanum, but rather crowned King Charles “emperor of the Romans,” which more or less made an ass out of him, as both Pope and Charles knew that the East would never succumb to a foreign ruler on those terms. This is why King Charles was so angry after his coronation. Why? It was what he wanted wasn’t it? No, he wanted the crown through marriage of Irene, which was only way he would have any respectability and take hold of the Roman empire as he wanted. Leo III played him for what he was: a fool. I believe the West deeply misunderstands the motivations for Leo III’s coronation of King Charles.

    The fact that Leo III coronated Karloman – an overt act of treason – makes it impossible to believe that pope remained loyal to the Roman Empire. It was Irene herself who made plans to marry Charlemagne – two years after the pope’s treason – and that led to a revolt which deposed and exiled her. Perhaps there is a confusion with earlier plans to marry Irene’s son, Constantine, to Rotrude, daughter of Karloman which were nixed by Irene in 788.

    There has been much debate over the reason for Karloman’s reported anger at being crowned by Leo III. Some historians dismiss it as a fabrication designed to make Karloman appear to be humble. But there is a much simpler (and more plausible) reason: according to the ways of feudalism, it was always the greater office (person) who bestowed lesser offices on lower persons. Leo III’s actions were an indication that the papacy had the right to determine who was the emperor (to treat it as a fief) and meant that Karloman was a vassal of the pope. It was being treated as a vassal of the pope that angered Karloman. This is confirmed by the manner in which Karloman chose to have his son crowned as his successor – he had his son crowned without clergy. The son received the crown from his father and placed it on his own head.

    The rest of the historical errors I wish to address were made in this thread.

    Acolyte claimed that ‘it is obvious that Orthodoxy is the only serious objection to Catholicism and vice versa.’ This claim overlooks the anti-Chalcedonian Christians of the East who call themselves ‘Oriental Orthodox’ who have a much stronger claim to be the preservers of the beliefs of undivided Christianity than do the Papal Christians from an historical viewpoint.

    Drew Johnson claimed it was ‘The division of Christendom is the direct cause of secularism and the continual erosion of our society.’ Not only does this statement completely fail to meet the basic standards of demonstrating cause and effect, it ignores too much history. Because Western Christianity separated itself from the Church, the Church had no influence on the formation of Western civilisation. A far more convincing case could be made that it was the rationalism that arose in the West (esp. with Scholasticism) that led to the West’s secularism.

    Drew Johnson wrote that ‘Western Christendom did not have much direct contact with the East after A.D. 476’. This is patently false. Although reduced, there remained a great deal of contact, especially commercially. Also pilgrims from the West continued to visit Jerusalem and other places associated with our Lord Jesus Christ’s life on earth.

    Drew Johnson wrote

    I have the instinctive feeling, though I could be wrong, that you will attempt to read the Palamite distinction back into the Latin Fathers just as Orthodox commonly do the Cappadocians.

    This is just bad history. The so-called ‘Palamite’ distinction existed with the Cappadocians (especially St Basil the Great), Clement of Alexandria, St Irenaeus, and St Paul.

    Drew Johnson wrote

    Even in the Roman Rite, however, the Latin version of the Creed in which the filioque is included is dogmatically, theologically, and confessionally subordinate to the original Creed in Greek.

    Although this may be true today, it ignores the historical fact that at Lyons, the papacy insisted on the addition of the heretical Filioque even in the Greek text.

    Drew Johnson wrote

    We apologized for the Fourth Crusade, for heaven’s sake. It was over 800 years ago! No one alive today was even there, and when it actually happened, the Pope excommunicated the Crusaders. The various massacres of Latin Christians that occurred in the decades before the catastrophe in 1204 did at least provide some context for the sack of Constantinople. I’m not justifying what happened, I’m just saying that it didn’t come out of nowhere.

    This is an appalling anti-history attitude (all too common amongst Americans, I fear).

    The supposed ‘massacres of Latin Christians’ were quite small and were a direct result of the Roman Emperors granting commercial advantages to Latin merchants in New Rome (Constantinople) not available to the locals (in an attempt to curry favour with the West). It doesn’t have anything to do with the abominable, execrable, and diabolical actions of the Latin Crusaders in 1204 (which the papacy regarded as providential and took advantage). Apologists for Papal Christianity like to claim it does because they cannot bring themselves to admit full culpability. Such apologists also like to assert that the pope excommunicated the crusaders, but ignore the fact that almost immediately thereafter he rescinded those excommunications and began taking advantage of the situation – expelling clergy of the Church and replacing them with Latin puppets whilst persecuting those who adhered to the Faith. It is because of the behaviour and attitudes of the Latins that the East came to the shocking realisation that the ‘Christianity’ of the Latins was a very different religion than what they knew and that the Latins did not regard them as brethren. (It is these experiences that led to the Roman’s attitude ‘better the turban [of the Turks] than the tiara’ [of the pope].)

    The actions of the Crusaders in 1204 did not come out of nowhere – that much is true. It came from greed on the part of the Latins and the promise of riches if they conquered the city. It had nothing to do with the attitude of the citizens of the city towards Latin merchants.

    Drew Johnson claimed

    The reason the Orthodox could not stand up to Islam is because they could not look beyond their own borders when they thought of the word “Church.”

    This is appallingly bad history. It ignores the evangelisation of the Balkans and the Slavs. It ignores the fact that it was the West’s devastating blow against Constantinople in 1204 that fatally weakened the Roman Empire’s ability to ‘stand up’ to the Mohammedans.

    Drew Johnson wrote

    It seems to have been completely forgotten that the whole reason the papacy sought the friendship of the Franks in the eighth century (before Charlemagne) is because the Byzantines were iconoclasts at that time.

    This is more bad history. The papacy was a major political player. When the East Romans were not around (because they ignored the West whilst preoccupied with the Persians and then the Mohammedans), the papacy aligned itself with the Franks when expedient. The papacy aligned with the Normans when that was more advantageous. It had nothing to do with doctrine and everything to do with political reality. It should be added that the Franks were ‘semi-iconoclasts’.

    Drew Johnson wrote

    But I’m a little unclear as to why the papacy being under the influence of the Franks automatically makes it suspect.

    Very briefly (and thus too broadly), the overrunning of the Western Roman Empire by the Germanic tribes brought about tremendous changes. Most of the Germanic tribes were Arians, but even the supposed orthodox Christianity that was taken to the Germanic peoples was heavily compromised in order to make it acceptable.

    For those interested, I recommend a work by James C. Russell: The Germanization of Early Medieval Christianity: A Sociohistorical Approach to Religious Transformation. Also good would be Josef A. Jungmann’s ‘The Defeat of Teutonic Arianism and the Revolution in Religious Culture in the Early Middle Ages’ in Pastoral Liturgy. Dr Russell’s book concludes:

    Given the rigorous, objectivist definition of Christianization adopted at the outset of this inquiry … it is concluded that the Germanic peoples had not been Christianized by the middle of the eighth century. If, instead, a relativist or subjectivist definition of Christianity is adopted, in which the essence of Christianity is not considered immutable… it may be argued that the Germanic peoples were Christianized by this time. But it would be necessary to specify that the form of Christianity with which they became affiliated was a Germanized one.

    Another recommendation: the book by the Jesuit, G. Ronald Murphy, The Saxon savior: the Germanic transformation of the Gospel in the ninth-century Heliand. In comparing the original Beatitudes to the Germanized form present in the Heliand, Murphy offers explanations as to why the changes had to be made. For instance, instead of ‘blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of
    heaven’, we get

    He said those were blessed, of the people in this middle realm, who, in their attitude, were poor through humility: “for to them is granted the eternal kingdom in all holiness, eternal life on the meadows of heaven.”

    Murphy says this is because

    Humility is not seen as a manly virtue in Germanic tradition, as can be seen, for example, in Beowulf. Seeking fame on earth is virtuous instead. To make the new teaching more palatable, the author has placed the first part of this Beatitude in the less obtrusive mode of indirect discourse and the second part, which promises eternal bliss, he cites directly from the Savior’s own mouth

    Instead of ‘blessed are the meek, for they will possess the earth’, we get

    He said that those too were blessed who were gentle people: “they will be allowed to possess the great earth, the same kingdom.”

    because meekness was seen as a weakness in Germanic culture. Instead of ‘blessed are those who mourn, for they will be consoled’, we get

    He said that those also were blessed, who have wept over their evil deeds; “they will receive according to their desire, consolation in their lord’s kingdom.”

    because, Murphy writes, of the need for a ‘constant appeal to the vacillating Saxons to “believe and not to doubt”‘.

    Instead of ‘blessed are those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they shall be satisfied’, we get

    Blessed also are those who desired to do good, men who judged fairly, this is what they themselves will be satisfied with in the Lord’s kingdom because of their good deeds: they will reach such favor, these men who judged fairly, that they will not be deceived by secrets as they sit there at the banquet.

    Murphy explains that this has been deliberately changed from a reference that could be perceived as applying to the peasant because peasants were not regarded as blessed. Instead, it is transformed to insist that the nobles treat others fairly.

    Instead of ‘blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the sons of God’, we get

    He also said those people were blessed who live in peace among their people and who do not want to start any fights, or court cases, by their own deeds: they will be called the sons of the Lord for he will be gracious to them; they will long enjoy his kingdom.

    Murphy explains that this beatitude had to be changed because the Germanic peoples were a warrior race that exulted in fighting. Thus, this is modified to only condemn those who started fights within the tribe, not those who fight outside the tribe or those who support the king’s wars.

    After marshaling a great deal of evidence for the Germanization of Christianity, Murphy cites August Frederich Christian Vilmar’s claim that the Heliand is ‘Christianity in German robes’ where the image of Jesus Christ has been so transformed that it is ‘a German Christ’ and responds

    In order not to throw out the baby with the bath water, however, I think the Heliand can be accurately interpreted both as a saxonization and as a northernization of the Gospel. It might more properly be described in English as “The Saxon Christ” or “The North Sea Gospel.”

    This Germanized form of Christianity continuously clashed with the Roman form of Christianity, the latter finally succumbing at the beginning of the Second Millennium. Evidence of clashes can be seen in disagreements between popes and the Franks (with the Franks ignoring the pope whenever it suited them) and the local (Frankish) councils held at Aix-la-Chapelle (Aachen) and Frankfurt that condemned actions of Nicaea II. Once the Germanized Christians took control of the papacy one can see the beginning of an extraordinary revolution that transformed the papacy and made permanent the division of Western Christianity from the Church. For those interested in a good book on the Gregorian Revolution, I strongly endorse Harold J. Berman’s Law and Revolution: The Formation of the Western Legal Tradition (the book won the ABA’s 1984 SCRIBES Book Award for the best new book on a legal subject). I also add the words of the noted medievalist Marc Bloch:

    The Gregorian reform was an extraordinarily powerful movement from which, without exaggeration, may be dated the definite formation of Latin Christianity; and it was no mere coincidence that this was the very moment of the final separation between the eastern and western churches.

    Drew Johnson wrote

    The East was in communion with the West at a time when the West allowed the filioque to be taught.

    This can easily be misleading. Richard Haugh, in Photius and the Carolingians: The Trinitarian Controversy notes

    It is significant that each time the Greek East confronted the Filioque, there was an energetic reaction. This occurred with the alleged Filioque expression of Pope Martin, with the Latin monks on Mount Olivet, and with Photius’ reaction to the use of the interpolated Creed in Bulgaria. When the Latin monks wrote to Pope Leo III that the Greeks “view that phrase [i.e. the Filioque] which we say as a serious matter, they were not overstating the problem.

    Haugh goes into a great deal of depth about each time the East encountered the Filioque and shows that each and every time they reacted very strongly against the heresy. That communion between the East and the papacy was maintained should not be a surprise since the papacy consistently rejected adding the Filioque to the Symbol of Faith and may not have even endorsed its teaching before 1014. (The evidence is quite weak that any pope – prior to 1014 – ever endorsed the Filioque.)



  134. Thomas,
    This “Papal [sic] Christian” never claimed to be an historical scholar. It remains to be seen, however, how pointing out the antecendent historical context of the Fourth Crusade constitutes an “anti-history attitude.” It may never be known exactly how many Latin Christians perished in the massacres in Constantinople in the 12th century. Gibbon estimated it to be approximately 80,000. Others have favored more conservative estimates. The point is that massacres to some extent or another were committed on both sides, and that the Fourth Crusade could be seen in part as a Western reaction to what was perceived as Byzantine betrayal. That, of course, does not justify what occurred on that dark day, but it may help to put it in context. Ultimately, however, the issue is (or at least ought to be) irrelevant now. No one is alive today who participated in the Crusade, nor is anyone alive who was a victim of it. The Papacy was not responsible for it, and yet the Vatican apologized for it anyway years ago. Whether that fact is significant for the Eastern Orthodox is another story. But the point is that to continue to bring up the Fourth Crusade as a current reason for the maintenance of schism is tantamount to holding a collective grudge against “the West.”
    Regarding the Newman citation, it should be noted that Newman was fully aware of the history and teaching of the Eastern Orthodox Church, and was nevertheless compelled by his lifelong love of the Greek Fathers, especially St. Athanasius, to become Roman Catholic. No mean historian or scholar was he. And it was his considered opinion, whatever it’s worth, that the Eastern Orthodox had “forgotten dogma” and entertain “all sorts of opinions.” His quotation might be amended to say (as has been suggested elsewhere) “To go deep into history is to cease to be Eastern Orthodox.”
    Overall, it seems that Roman Catholic ecumenical overtures to the Eastern Orthodox will be fruitless for the most part. There will always be an Eastern Church here or there that will desire union. But by and large, full reunion as it is hoped for in the West will likely not occur until the Second Coming of our Savior. Whenever the Roman Catholic Church attempts to clarify an issue that is a point of contention between her and the Eastern Orthodox Churches, it seems that the latter attempt to make use of the solution to search for more problems that will supposedly be a “difference of faith” and thus an impediment to full communion. When the sheer obscurity of issues such as the filioque controversy, the essence/energies distinction, and divine simplicity is realized in all its fullness, it becomes clear that the point of division is not so much theological as it is ecclesiastical and political. It is not that these issues aren’t important; it is rather that no theology, whether Greek or Latin will be able to do justice to the mystery of God. Each is a feeble human attempt to bring coherence to God’s revelation. It would seem that a certain allowance of pluralism on both sides might be the best means to manifest the charity and humility that followers of Christ ought to possess.



  135. Thomas,
    Sorry to do two posts in a row but I forgot to mention an item in my last one. You wrote: “The so-called “Palamite distinction” existed with the Cappadocians (especially St. Basil the Great), [St.] Clement of Alexandria, St. Irenaeus, and St. Paul.” For the Eastern Orthodox who search for the essence/energies distinction in the Scriptures and the in the writings of these Holy Fathers, it is certain that they will find it there. For the Protestants who search for “sola fide” and “sola scriptura” in the same sources, it is certain that those doctrines will be found there as well. For the Roman Catholics who search for papal infallibility, they also will likely see that doctrine taught in these sources.
    Jaroslav Pelikan had a different view of the matter:
    “Despite this resistance [of Byzantine theologians] to the idea of innovation, the theology of Palamas ‘is a doctrine of surprising boldness, of unexpected novelty,’ almost as though ‘Byzantium had sworn to give the lie to her future reputation for dogmatic immobility.’ The novelty of Palamite theology consisted in the fundamental reinterpretation of emphases going back to Origen and Dionysius the Areopagite, despite a continuing reverence for Dionysius; this issued in a ‘new theology,’ even in the narrow sense of the word ‘theology,’ for it brought about a further development in the Eastern doctrine of God.” (The Christian Tradition, vol. 2 – The Spirit of Eastern Christendom, p. 262)

    Does the fact that Pelikan disagrees with the statement quoted at the beginning of this post make him a “bad historian,” even though his love of the Eastern tradition later led him to convert to Russian Orthodoxy?




  136. Drew said,

    “….. it should be noted that Newman was fully aware of the history and teaching of the Eastern Orthodox Church, and was nevertheless compelled by his lifelong love of the Greek Fathers, especially St. Athanasius, to become Roman Catholic.”

    Since you reference Pelikan later in the post, I’ll share what he said regarding Newman’s conversion at a conference I was at. Somebody asked Pelikan when he would write his own Apologia, and he laughed it off and said there wasn’t a chance. He said that if you take Newman’s conclusions and put them into an Eastern framework, you’d be close on why he converted to EO. He went on to say that Orthodoxy was NOT a viable option for Newman, as there really was no Orthodox presence in England in the 1840’s. I went out and picked up Apologia Pro Vita Sua that day, and in reading it I don’t recall any wrestling of Newman’s soul at all when it came to Orthodoxy; I don’t recall a mention of it at all in fact. As I recall, he dismissed the East by relying on anti-Eastern stuff from Aquinas and considered that the last word on the East. Newman’s hang-up was justification, and he was fixated on Leo’s role at Chalcedon, as in why would Newman let Leo dictate his Christology to him but not let Leo’s Church dictate justification to himself as well. Newman did what he did because he was embedded in distinctly Western theological categories, and worshiping as a high-Church Anglican made him quite close to Rome as it was. He was a product of the age in which he lived, as we all are. This is not to say Newman would have chose Orthodoxy if he had that as a viable option…… we’ll simply never know.


  137. Drew,

    Please forgive my sortie at this junction of these talks as I, too, lack Thomas’ historical background. But if I may speak, I would like to perhaps conjecture(please correct me Thomas at any point of error).
    I would like to bring it to your attention, Drew, that specifically he did not call the Easterns “Byzantines” but Romans. The import of what this alone entails is enormous. Legitimally and lawfully, the Roman Empire did not cease with the sacking of Rome, but with the taking of Constantinople. The Eastern peoples identified themselves as Romans, not Greeks. When called “Greek” rather than” Roman” by Charlamagne, it was cause for offense.

    To identify the Eastern Empire as “the” Roman Empire is enormously important on not just a historical level, but at every level.

    When God became man this event occured during the time of the Roman Empire. And we all know the history of the early Church through the Divine Scriptures and other sources. The Church quickly found Herself under persecution not only from the Jews, Her initial antagonists, but now officially by the Empire. Of course during this time, the Church continued to grow and germinate throughout the Empire. And Constantine the Emperor makes the Christian Faith legal and official.(I’m being brief in the reconsruction). Throughout the Empire, a common Faith. Its substance the same. The faith of the Romans now, at least officially.

    The various heresies were national crisis, not “religious” ones in the way we moderns understand the ability to dissect ourselves into “religious” parts, “social” parts, “economic”parts,,etc. The bishops convened were called on not to settle religious issues per se, but something much more substantive. And the famous wrangling over the minutest detail in the dotting of a iota to exactly capture the truth of who our Lord is was cause for concern not for the clergy alone, but the entire Empire as represented there by the Emperor.

    This exact Faith always to safeguard the exact way to the divinization of Man for his healing and transfiguration(the two are one). The Latin speaking man and the Greek speaking man of the same fallen nature needing the exact same healing and deification through participation in the God Man.

    Anywhere one could go, within and without the Empire, behold, He who could not be known, was now known. Forevermore now all things had become new. Old ideas burst asunder. Man could now not conceive himself in exactly the way he could before the entering into the creation of our Lord, abolishing death the generator of sin. The Church the “Guardian” and witness of the Ressurection and the Guardian of the path for man to enter into the Ressurection to be healed of death.
    Every heresy was a danger to the obscuring or eliminating of the path for Man into God and the Church, being His body, always produced the “antibodies” to counter the heresies, to preserve Her medicine pure.

    This is the Faith of our Fathers, given to us as a gift by our God, unmerited. To be explicated more fully to each people, tribe and tongue for sure, but not to be changed.

    And of course the famous five Sees of Christianity: Rome, Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem, between which this catholic Faith, only to be understood according to the whole, catholic, between these Sees, this Faith “flowed”. The whole(catholic) entailing not just” theology”(here I interject the Orthodox understanding of theology as not an abstract art of conjecture based on hypothesis but a personal endeavor of prayer coupled with all the ascetical disciplines to purify the nous to more fully participate in the Uncreated One) but whole(catholic) also in the “fabric” of truth. And this truth itself “penetrates” and “imposes” itself on the person not as individual, but as person in participation with other persons in participation with that person, each person within *those* persons also being penetrated and imposed upon by the truth according to the whole. This truth “flows” or “exists” in all strata of reality. This reality is not something chosen, but something that is. An Eastern citizen of the Empire was not a Byzantine or a Greek, but a Roman. It was not a choice.

    The Faith once delivered “exists” or “subsists” more fully, or to be plain, is what it is in the context of reality that is true and cannot be made sense of in the fullest possible way apart from being in its culture, its reality ,which is true. This Faith, this Substance, coursed through the veins of the Sees. But purity of doctrine only flows from See to See in love, whose substance is truth.

    When the Franks began their exertion of influence on the papacy and finally succeeded in having the filioque inserted, this was done in “un”love, in the negation of truth. This truth ruptured not just in doctrine(remember the wrangling over the iota, now a whole clause “and the Son” inserted), but also in the rupturing of the truth in the choosing to take upon themselves the “un”reality of terming themselves “Romans”. And the the “un”reality of naming the rightful Romans, the Easterns, “Greeks”.

    Truth cannot exist in this culture and cannot flow and cannot now be catholic because truth can only be known according to the whole(i.e. the placing of the Christian Faith within its origins, its context, its culture) . In the fabricating of this alternate reality, a new “Christianity” emerged, a form that exteriorly resembled its prototype, saying many of the same things but those things being said had whole new meanings which were unavoidable as the nutrients were being drawn from a different soil, an unreality.

    If I may add, Drew, that the struggle for the Orthodox theologian and philosopher and the lay person who cares is to take this Faith once for all time delivered and to bend himself to it, to make himself fit this reality. My observation with the Roman Catholic counterparts is the struggle to justify and to fit together the disparaging parts of a present day form which little resembles the past and the need to develop to continue to justify the (please forgive me here for using quotations) “Roman” “Catholic” Church’s present day ontological existence and appearance. I believe she needs the Orthodox Churches to recognize in her legitimacy which for the reasons I stated above canot be granted

    I pray for our unity, Drew, but only through her returning to her once glorious Orthodoxy, to take her rightful place, the first among equals among us, her faith that of Saint Peter.

    In any case, I would greatly appreciate any thoughts of yours.


  138. Thomas,

    I have a question that perhaps you could help me with. If you couldn’t tell from my name, I’m ethnically Greek. My last name is “Frangakis”. Greek last names that end in “akis” are usually if not always from the island of Crete. I believe Crete was occupied by the Franks and I’ve thought about the meaning of my last name often. I don’t know how to produce Greek characters online, but I’ll spell it: Phi, Rho, Alpha, Gamma, Gamma, Alpha, Kappa, Iota, Sigma. I tend to believe my name may mean “Of the Franks?” Any light you could shed would be great.

    And thank you for your wonderful post. What would you recommend in reading that could tie together the history with its implications of the divergence of the two communions?


  139. Hi Sophocles,
    I don’t have any problem referring to the citizens of the Byzantine Empire as “Romans” or vice versa. I have always understood the two to be equivalent. I personally prefer “Byzantine” to “Roman” (and always have) because it more clearly indicates which city was the capital of the Empire being mentioned. But that’s just a personal preference of mine, and is not intended to be a polemical point.
    Ultimately, whether the RC or the EO Church is the true inheritor of the Apostolic Tradition is a matter of faith, and cannot be proven (at least not with apodeictic certainty) from ancient texts, no matter what authority. My reference to the Second Coming was not made in the spirit of triumphalism, but only in the sense that every wrong would be righted, and every injustice rectified, and every grievance removed, when our Lord returns. I enjoyed the post…you’re very interesting to converse with. Hopefully the discussion will continue.



  140. Hi Don,
    It is true that none of the Newman’s academic works contain explicit references to Eastern Orthodoxy. The reference I was making was actually quoted in Ian Kerr’s Introduction to the “Selections” from the “Plain and Parochial Sermons” published by Paulist Press in the “Classics of Western Spirituality” Series.” The statement was in one of Newman’s letters. However, I think that it may not be entirely accurate to say that the Eastern Orthodox were not on his radar screen, however, given the contacts that had already existed between the EO and the Anglicans. It should also be noted that many Orthodox seminarians received their education in England and on the Continent. I think it would be fair to say that Newman was no less aware of the EO than was Luther. We at least know that Newman was familiar with Eastern liturgy, for this is the main topic of some of his writings. Overall, I think it would be fair to say that Newman was sufficiently familiar with the EO to make an intelligent decision when he become Roman Catholic. I don’t know this for a fact, but I would guess that in his mind at least the EO were an alternative to Anglicanism but not Roman Catholicism. This doesn’t mean that his interpretation was always correct, and as far as Pelikan is concerned, well, I think he would eat my lunch in any debate…I wouldn’t stand a chance! I think that one can find substantial theological, historical, & liturgical reasons for converting to either EO or RC. The only point is was trying to make with reference to Newman and Pelikan is (1) that equally intelligent and informed people can choose one or the other for objectively good reaons, and (2) that it is possible to differ from the viewpoint sometimes expressed on this blog and still be a sincere Orthodox Christian.
    Hope this helps!


  141. Drew,

    Thank you so much for your kind words and no worries; your posts were not taken by me to mean that at all and further, I would add that I have need to apologize to you as I reflect on the tone of several of my posts to you. I, too, hope to continue our discussion.
    I agree with you that those matters of which you speak cannot be proven alone from ancient texts, but the necessity once again arises to place the texts organically within their culture, where outside this culture they lay “dormant” so to speak, but within their culture they come alive. And this necessitates to travel back in time to the divergence of our two communions and to examine the Faith held within the Undivided Church, of what it was, its substance.
    On a personal level, with apodictic certainty I become more Orthodox and as I do so, the nature of my fallenness and brokeness becomes more evident. Also more evident becomes the great unknowability of Him and the growing realization that any glimmer of knowing Him at all is truly a gift. Many of my previously held notions of what “ought to be” are now more apparently to me the notions of a child, unformed and spoiled in need of putting away childish things
    I offer this post that a little time ago I posted on Sacramentum Vitae quoting St. Silouan of Mt. Athos. His person is so thourouly, for lack of a better terminology, Orthodox and I think you may find this pasage of great interest, even simply as something to ponder.


  142. Drew,

    Here is the post as originally posted by the blogger Orthodoxos on his blog, “Mars Hill”:

    St. Silouan The Athonite
    I am reading a book about St. Silouan written by Archimandrite Sophrony, published by SVS Press. The spiritual treasures of contained in these pages…… wow, thats all I can say. He remained in prayer for over thirty years and the wisdom he relates to us is so powerful.

    Here is a passage where he talks about forms of prayer:

    Day-dreaming characterized the first form of prayer. The temptation to achieve everything by way of reason predominates the second. Here life is concentrated in the brain. The mind is not united with the heart-it is perpetually turned outwards in its aspiration to understand and master all things. Possessed of some genuine-though still insufficient-religious experience, those who pray thus aspire with their intellect to fill the gaps in their experience and penetrate the mysteries of Divine being, and then inevitably they fall into the error of ‘conceptualising’ God. Carried away, they do not want to-or cannot-understand that they are overturning the true hierarchy of being, the real order of things, and having, as it were, forgotten that God created us in His own image and likeness, themselves start to create, introducing into Divine being elements in their own image, after their own likeness. The ideal sphere in which they move gives them an apparent superiority over others, which intensifies their self confidence.
    The typical distortion brought about by this second form of prayer is intellectualism.

    The Theologian who is an intellectual constructs his system as an architect builds a palace or a church. Empirical and metaphysical concepts are the material he uses, and he is more concerned with the magnificence and logical symmetry of his ideal edifice than that it should conform to the actual order of things.
    Strange as it may seem, many great men have been unable to withstand this, in effect, artless temptation, the hidden cause of which is pride. One becomes attached to the fruits of one’s intelligence as a mother to her child. The intellectual loves his creation as himself, identifies with it, shuts himself up with it. When this happens no human intervention can help him-if he will not renounce what he believes to be riches, he will never attain to pure prayer and true contemplation. Those who seek the highest form of prayer-the uniting of the mind with the heart-know how hard such renunciation is.

    he continues…

    Many theologians of the philosopher type, remaining essentially rationalists, rise to supernatural or, rather, supralogical spheres of thought but these spheres are not yet the Divine world. The lie within the confines of human created nature and, as such, are within reach of the understanding in the natural order of things. Their mental visions cannot be circumscribed within the framework of formal logic since they enter the domain of metalogic and antinomic reasoning. Nevertheless, they are still the result of the activity of the reason.
    The overcoming of discursive thinking is proof of high intellectual culture but it is not yet true faith and real divine vision. People in this category, who often possess capacities for rational reflection, because of this come to realize that the laws of human thought are of limited validity, and that it is impossible to encircle the whole universe within the steel loops of logical syllogism. This enables them to arrive at a supramental contemplation but what they then contemplate is still beauty created in the Divine image. Since those who enter for the first time into this sphere of the ‘silence of the mind’ experience a certain mystic awe, they mistake their contemplation for mystical communion with the Divine, whereas in reality they are still within the confines of created human nature. The mind, it is true, here passes beyond the frontiers of time and space, and it is this that gives it a sense of grasping eternal wisdom. This is as far as human reason can go along the path of natural development and self-contemplation. This experience of the limitations of the intellect, whatever the dogmatic interpretation one applies, relates it to pantheism.
    Attaining these bounds where ‘day and night come to an end’ man contemplates the beauty of his own mind which many identify with the Divine being. They do see a light but it is not the True Light in which ‘there is no darkness at all’. It is natural light peculiar to the mind of man created in God’s image.
    This mental light, which excels every other light of empirical knowledge, might still just as well be called darkness, since it is the darkness of divestiture and God is not in it. And perhaps in this instance more than any other we should listen to the Lord’s warning, ‘Take heed therefore that the light which is in thee be not darkness.’ The first prehistoric cosmic catastrophe – the fall of Lucifer, son of the morning, who became the prince of darkness – was due to his enamoured contemplation of his own beauty, which ended up in his self-deification.


  143. Thomas wrote:

    This is just bad history. The so-called ‘Palamite’ distinction existed with the Cappadocians (especially St Basil the Great), Clement of Alexandria, St Irenaeus, and St Paul.

    If the examples previously given of the Palamite distinction in the writings of Irenaeus constitute a refutation of Western thought via an examination of history analogous to “shooting fish in a barrel” your apparent bravado is quite undeserved.

    I declined to say it at the time but this particular example (Palamite distinction in Irenaeus) looks much more like Newman’s concept of “development of doctrine” than most things the West claims are specific examples. I have no doubt your eisogesis of Paul would be similarly convincing.

    Hit-n-run smoke blowing barbarian barrel wearing artillery swallowing Jim


  144. There was a lot of praising of David Bentley Hart on the part of Daniel and others over at Liccione’s blog. I wonder what Daniel thinks of this comment of Harts, from a First Things Symposium on the papacy:
    When an Orthodox turns his eyes westward he sees what appears to him a Church distorted by innovation and error: the filioque clause, the pope’s absolute primatial authority, purgatory, indulgences, priestly celibacy. Our deepest divisions concern theology and doctrine, and this problem admits of no immediately obvious remedy, because both churches are so fearfully burdened by infallibility. The disagreements in theology can be mitigated: Western theologians now freely grant that the Eastern view of original sin is more biblical than certain Latin treatments of the matter; only the most obtusely truculent Orthodox still believe that the huge differences in Trinitarian theology that a previous generation found everywhere in Latin tradition indeed actually exist; etc.

    I agree wholeheartedly about the greatness of Hart. I’m just not as likely as Perry and Daniel to see ‘huge differences in Trinitarian theology.. everywhere in Latin tradition’. Anyway, I guess you’re allowed to disagree with someone you think is a great theologian. I just found it refreshing, since I think I agree with him here. Comments, Daniel?


  145. Those interested in the issues brought up in this thread might want to check out Norman Russell’s article entitled, “Theosis and Gregory Palamas: Continuity or Doctrinal Change” [SVTQ, vol. 50, no. 4, 2006], because he addresses the issue of “development” and holds that the “anaptyxis” (unpacking) of the doctrine of Constantinople III in Palamas’ writings cannot be identified with the developmental theory advocated by Newman. Another good article that addresses the Trinitarian issue (i.e., whether East and West really teach different things) is Joost van Rossum’s “Deification in Palamas and Aquinas” [SVTQ, vol. 47, nos. 3-4, 2003], in the article he highlights some errors in A. N. William’s treatment of the topic, especially her reduction of the real distinction between essence and energy to an epistemic one. Finally, there is a good book by Henny Fiska Hagg on Clement of Alexandria that shows that he too posited a real distinction in God between the incommunicable divine essence and the divine power (dynamis), which comes into the world and is communicable [See “Clement of Alexandria and the Beginnings of Christian Apophaticism”].

    God bless,

    P.S. – A good book on the Fourth Crusade and its deleterious effects on Church relations between East and West is J. M. Hussey’s, “The Orthodox Church in the Byzantine Empire.”


  146. Thomas,

    With respect to your historical observations, you spoke several times of Karloman when you should have left it simply as Karl. Karloman was Karlus Magnus’s elder brother, who co-ruled the Franks with him from 767 till his retirement to a monastery in 771, leaving everything to Karl. Further, the term Charlemagne is quite a contrivance, since he wasn’t French, but a German. This term first appears in the Chanson de Roland, which is nothing other than a Frog-politico piece of national hagiography. Also, with respect to Karl’s putative unhappiness in Rome in 800, this is something testified to by Einhard, and penned some 32 years after the fact in his Vita Karoli. As it happened, it does not appear that Einhard was a witness to this fact. I am not disputing the veracity of Karl’s discontent (he would only use the title some years later), but as Einhard wrote it, the whole Vita is a slap on the fanny of his former pupil, the then Emperor Ludwig (Louis or Lewis) the Pious, whose kingdom was in complete chaos owing to the civil wars of his eldest son (which he was completely unable to control). Einhard was maintaining, in good ‘Gothic’ fashion, that rule meant exercise of force (over half of the book is made up of Karl’s wars, and the very notion of Karl as ruler of Rome is implicitly a right he had obtained by conquest). In 813, when Karl crowned Ludwig, it was not the feudal transfer which you maintain, as this notion only emerges in the tenth century, and then only in historical fog. Karl’s anger stems probably from one of two facts (or perhaps both): 1) the acclamation of the Romans that Karl was Augustus “of the Romans”, and that he had this title by acclamation of the people, and not by right of conquest (he had gained the Lombard crown some years prior); and 2) the placing of the crown upon Karl’s head was done with sacring (chrism). This is testified to not by the Vita Karoli, but in the Liber Pontificalis, the Annales Francorum, and the Chronicle of Theophanes. Thus Karl’s coronation was deficient when compared to the Byzantine rite, which had no sacring (this may not have come in till after 1261, but this is debated hotly) in that imperium, while conferred by Patriarchs (at least since the emperor Leo I ca. 450), had no overtly religious significance. Further, the one sine quo non of the Byzantine imperium depended on the acclamation of the army (a form of right by conquest). Thus the form as exercised on Karl was not materially different than that by which he had been declared King of the Franks. In this your one point can draw strength, for the Carolingians clearly owed their Frankish title via the acts of the papacy, namely Stephen II, in stripping it from Dagobert and the Merovingians.

    Per some of the other posts, it should be noted, that while riots did occur in Constantinople in 1182, spurred on by the approach of Alexius Comnenus (a cousin of the former Emperor Manuel I Comnenus), these were aimed almost entirely at the Pisan and Genoan quarters and were not undertaken from some anti-Latin venom. If anything, they were anti-Norman in that the regent of the young Alexisu II, his mother Maria Xena, the widow of Manuel I, was a Norman from Antioch, and hugely ineffectual at running the government. Under her watch Hungary and the Seljuks carved off pieces of the empire, and also the Serbians renounced Byzantine suzerainty. Maria Xena (she took the name Xena upon her profession as a nun, though this did not stop her from taking a lover of her late husband’s nephew) was deeply resented for her failures, and she was seen as a favorer of the Pisans and the Genoans, though not of the Venetians. Consequently, it is quite wrong to see the Crusaders in 1204 as acting out of revenge for what happened in 1182, as there were no Genoans and Pisans among them. Indeed one of the great benefactors of the whole episode in 1182 were the main catalysts of 1204, namely the Venetians. If any revenge was there, it may have been with the Venetian Doge, Enrico Dondalo, but this was due to the fact that he had been partially blinded in a fight during one of his stays in Constantinople, but there is no evidence that he got this in 1182. Further, and more importantly, none of the sources of 1204 cite 1182 as justification for or a precursor of what happened. It appears in none of the sources, and certainly is not hinted at in our main sources, Robert of Clari, Geofferey Villehardouin, and Niketas Choniates. If revenge existed anywhere, it may have been with the leader of the Crusade, Boniface of Monteferrat, whose youngest brother, Rainier, was murdered by Andronicus whan he conducted his purge after entering the city in 1183 (he had the boy emperor Alexius II sign his mother’s (Maria Xena) death warrant, then later strangled the boy and threw his body into the Marmara). I would commend Thomas Madden’s text in this. He is certainly not the entertaining read that Runciman is, but he is far more careful in putting what happened together.

    I think I got all this straight.

    Pax omnibus,


  147. If my memory serves me, Eihnard was mistaken when he said that Pope Stephen II stripped the Merovingians of their title; instead, it was Pope Zachary who did this when he replaced Childeric III with Pepin the Short as King of the Franks.


  148. Hi Sophocles,
    Thank you, also, for your kind words…I too, have need to offer an apology for some of the things I had written earlier in this thread, and I humbly ask your forgiveness.
    What you wrote about becoming “more Orthodox” as you go along is a subject very near and dear to my heart. That is a perspective that I have come across a lot over the past few years, and it matches my own experience as well. It is really amazing how differently everything looks before and after being received for communion. Catholicism looked completely to me before I was received than it did after. I suppose it’s part of the nature of the beast for the sheer messiness involved in living day-to-day in any Church to become more manifest as time goes on. The key issue, I think(which is also what I take St. Silouan to be saying as well), is that one can afford to merely think about and consider the pro’s and con’s of each communion before being received into it, but once the decision is made, there is a certain sense in which free thought is restricted and one must begin to obey. That always seems to be the most difficult aspect of conversion. EO and RC each have fasting and penitential practices that its members are expected to follow, regardless of their particular opinion. I suppose if we allow our minds to be dominated by the “philosopher type” (which is a constant temptation for yours-truly), we will never truly be converted. Overall, I found great value in what St. Silouan was saying. I appreciate you sharing that.



  149. “If the examples previously given of the Palamite distinction in the writings of Irenaeus constitute a refutation of Western thought via an examination of history analogous to “shooting fish in a barrel” your apparent bravado is quite undeserved.
    I declined to say it at the time but this particular example (Palamite distinction in Irenaeus) looks much more like Newman’s concept of “development of doctrine” than most things the West claims are specific examples. I have no doubt your eisogesis of Paul would be similarly convincing.”


    I posted the quotes from Irenaeus a couple of weeks ago, not to offer a “refutation of western thought” or a showstopper to end all discussion, but to merely point out a continuity in thought between what Irenaeus and Palamas saw as the deifying process in man. Irenaeus wasn’t up against a Barlaam or an Akindynos, so he shouldn’t necessarily talk like Palamas, but I do believe the continuity in thought is pretty remarkable. You should relax too. You’re no ogre.


  150. Cyril,

    In your post in reply to Thomas, you use “Byantine” exclusively to denote the Eastern Empire in contrast to Thomas’ use of “Romans” for the same peoples. Is this for the sake of clarity, for the ease of the modern reader to easily identify of whom you speak, or, in your mind is “The Byzantine Empire” distinct from the “Roman Empire”?


  151. Joseph,

    Yes. Thanks for posting them. I know that was not your intention but it was the implication of Thomas’ statements in his response to Drew – and that was what I was responding to.

    My apologies for the tone.



  152. Jim,

    I fully understand your concerns regarding how far this discussion has degenerated.


  153. Sophocles,

    In my mind it is distinct, but I also quickly grant that it alone was the Roman Empire, and that those Hellenes were the only ones who had a legal and moral claim to the title “Romanoi”. The distinction arises in that Byzantium was clearly Greek, governed with different structures, and most importantly was Christian. Most secular historians date Byzantium from about 610 and Heraclius (and even the great Ostrogorsky would grant this) and the emergence of the theme system of Governance. By this time Iustinian had already made the first Christian revision of the Roman law (oddly through the hands of the pagan Triboniam), which was expanded on several times throughout the empire’s existence. Even in Iustinian’s day, he recognized that Latin had become the dead letter, issuing his Novellas in Greek. They never used the term of themselves, and I use it merely for purposes of distinction, and not to make some point. So, I use it as it has become common nomenclature (though I guess I should then stand corrected for not using the frogophile Charlemagne).



  154. Cyril,

    Thanks for the reply.
    On another historical question: In the Blessed Augustine’s City of God, he makes no mention of the Roman Empire continuing past the sacking of Rome proper. From the tone of the work, it seems to me that to Augustine, the Roman Empire ended with the taking of the city. Am I correct on this being Augustine’s view or did he, in other works, recognize the Empire as intact, albeit without the former Capital? He mentions Constantine and Helen several times but it is unclear to me what association Constantinople had in Augustine’s mind with the Empire.


  155. Drew Johnson wrote:

    It remains to be seen, however, how pointing out the antecendent historical context of the Fourth Crusade constitutes an “anti-history attitude.”

    Setting aside the fact that you did not point out any ‘antecedent historical context’, your anti-history attitude was displayed by your comment:

    We apologized for the Fourth Crusade, for heaven’s sake. It was over 800 years ago! No one alive today was even there, and when it actually happened,

    You repeated your anti-history attitude with:

    Ultimately, however, the issue is (or at least ought to be) irrelevant now. No one is alive today who participated in the Crusade, nor is anyone alive who was a victim of it. The Papacy was not responsible for it, and yet the Vatican apologized for it anyway years ago.

    It may never be known exactly how many Latin Christians perished in the massacres in Constantinople in the 12th century. Gibbon estimated it to be approximately 80,000. Others have favored more conservative estimates.

    I find it surprising that an apologist for the papacy would quote Gibbon, a notorious opponent of Christianity.

    The point is that massacres to some extent or another were committed on both sides, and that the Fourth Crusade could be seen in part as a Western reaction to what was perceived as Byzantine betrayal.

    The point is that the events of 1182 had nothingto do with the events of 1204. The events of 1182 were economic and political.

    to continue to bring up the Fourth Crusade as a current reason for the maintenance of schism is tantamount to holding a collective grudge against “the West.”

    This statement shows how little you understand the Orthodox. Every Orthodox Christian I know would rejoice if the papacy would renounce its many errors and return to the Church.

    Remember, it was one of the ancient sees that separated from the other four!

    Newman was fully aware of the history and teaching of the Eastern Orthodox Church

    This is incorrect. Reading his works demonstrates an almost complete absence of knowledge about the Church. (see additional comments regarding Newman below)

    it was his considered opinion, whatever it’s worth, that the Eastern Orthodox had “forgotten dogma” and entertain “all sorts of opinions.”

    But he was unable to show any examples of ‘forgotten dogma’ or examples of ‘all sorts of opinions’ that were out-of-step with the undivided Church. If he had been honest, he could have found plenty of examples of opinions from the Vatican that were quite out-of-step with the undivided Church. Although, to be fair, some of the most blatant and egregious examples did not occur until after he ‘poped’.

    His quotation might be amended to say (as has been suggested elsewhere) “To go deep into history is to cease to be Eastern Orthodox.”

    This is simply not borne out by historical facts. Any impartial in-depth reading reveals the transmogrification of the papacy through the Gregorian Revolution that was every much a break with the past as were the other major revolutions in Western Europe during the second millennium (Protestant Revolution and French Revolution). The papacy became something very different from what it had been and its brand of Christianity radically different (especially Germanized) from what arose in the East.

    it seems that Roman Catholic ecumenical overtures to the Eastern Orthodox will be fruitless for the most part. There will always be an Eastern Church here or there that will desire union.

    This is incorrect. As I stated above, I do not know any Orthodox Catholic Christian who would not rejoice if the papacy were to reject its numerous heresies and return to the Church.

    the sheer obscurity of issues such as the filioque controversy, the essence/energies distinction, and divine simplicity is realized in all its fullness, it becomes clear that the point of division is not so much theological as it is ecclesiastical and political.

    This is so typical of Papal Christianity. As long as people are willing to pay lip service to the pope, it doesn’t matter what they believe. The papacy will tolerate any and all kinds of so-called theologies — liberation theology, fundamentalism, pentecostal, liberalism, neo-orthodox, existential, etc. — just as long as long as they claim to be obedient to the pope. That is why Orthodox Catholic Christians see the so-called unity of Papal Christianity as a façade.

    Drew Johnson wrote:

    Jaroslav Pelikan had a different view of the matter:
    “Despite this resistance [of Byzantine theologians] to the idea of innovation, the theology of Palamas ‘is a doctrine of surprising boldness, of unexpected novelty,’ almost as though ‘Byzantium had sworn to give the lie to her future reputation for dogmatic immobility.’ The novelty of Palamite theology consisted in the fundamental reinterpretation of emphases going back to Origen and Dionysius the Areopagite, despite a continuing reverence for Dionysius; this issued in a ‘new theology,’ even in the narrow sense of the word ‘theology,’ for it brought about a further development in the Eastern doctrine of God.” (The Christian Tradition, vol. 2 – The Spirit of Eastern Christendom, p. 262)

    Does the fact that Pelikan disagrees with the statement quoted at the beginning of this post make him a “bad historian,” even though his love of the Eastern tradition later led him to convert to Russian Orthodoxy?

    Not at all, it simply means that when he wrote the above — many years before his conversion to the Church, he didn’t understand Orthodoxy. Presumably, that changed — although Dr Pelikan remained quite unwilling to discuss the reasons for his conversion.

    Don Bradley wrote:

    . I went out and picked up Apologia Pro Vita Sua that day, and in reading it I don’t recall any wrestling of Newman’s soul at all when it came to Orthodoxy; I don’t recall a mention of it at all in fact. As I recall, he dismissed the East by relying on anti-Eastern stuff from Aquinas and considered that the last word on the East. Newman’s hang-up was justification, and he was fixated on Leo’s role at Chalcedon, as in why would Newman let Leo dictate his Christology to him but not let Leo’s Church dictate justification to himself as well. Newman did what he did because he was embedded in distinctly Western theological categories, and worshiping as a high-Church Anglican made him quite close to Rome as it was. He was a product of the age in which he lived, as we all are.

    This is well said and worth re-reading. I would add that Newman is definitely a product of the age in which he lived as was his contemporary (born the same decade in the same country and similarly educated) — an era where there was a near worship of ‘Progress’ in a country that more fully worshipped ‘Progress’ than anywhere else. Newman imposed his modern view of the inevitability of progress on what history of Christianity he knew; his contemporary imposed the same attitude on biology. His contemporary? Darwin. The two are very much alike. Newman was probably the most influential writer in changing Western Christianity’s view of Christian history. (A so-so book on this — I have not found a good one — is From Bossuet to Newman by Owen Chadwick.)

    he did not call the Easterns “Byzantines” but Romans. The import of what this alone entails is enormous. Legitimally and lawfully, the Roman Empire did not cease with the sacking of Rome, but with the taking of Constantinople. The Eastern peoples identified themselves as Romans, not Greeks.

    The term ‘Byzantine’ is a post-Roman Empire invention of Western Europe. Most historians attribute its first use to Hieronymus Wolf, but consider the XVIIth century publication of Corpus Historiae Byzantinae to be what led to its widespread (and incorrect) use.

    When called “Greek” rather than” Roman” by Charlamagne, it was cause for offense.

    Because the term ‘Greek’ was synonymous with ‘pagan’.

    during this time, the Church continued to grow and germinate throughout the Empire. And Constantine the Emperor makes the Christian Faith legal and official.

    Although Protestant Christians need to portray Constantine’s actions as the Church being co-opted by the state (in an attempt to justify their break from historical Christianity), it is more accurate to say the Church grew until it conquered the Empire.

    Constantine legalised Christianity, but did not make it the official religion of the Empire. That was done by Theodosius in A.D. 391.

    The various heresies were national crisis, not “religious” ones

    In my experience some heresies were regional and based upon cultural/ethnic differences, but not all. The one point of common ground amongst all heresies seems to be that rationalism (in the form a philosophy) is imposed upon some article of the faith which is an antinomy to create something that makes logical sense, usually by emphasising one truth at the expense of another. This is clearly the case with early heresies such as Arianism, Sabellianism, Nestorianism, Pelagianism, Monophysitism, Monothelitism, etc. as well as later heresies such as Augustinianism, Scholasticism, Filioquism, and Pap[al]ism. (That is why we say the Fathers of the Church do not theologize in the manner of the philosophers, but in the manner of the Apostles.)

    Differing from these heresies are schisms (which are based upon heresies). In my reading of history I can find no example of a permanent (at least to date) schism which was not centred in a particular area and supported politically and militarily. The Assyrians and the anti-Chalcedonian Christians of the East broke from the Church with the help of the Persians; the Western Christians broke from the Church with the help of the Franks, Normans, and various groups in the West; Protestant Christians broke from the Papal Christians with the help of the German princes.

    And of course the famous five Sees of Christianity: Rome, Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem, between which this catholic Faith, only to be understood according to the whole, catholic, between these Sees, this Faith “flowed”. The whole(catholic) entailing not just” theology”(here I interject the Orthodox understanding of theology as not an abstract art of conjecture based on hypothesis but a personal endeavor of prayer coupled with all the ascetical disciplines to purify the nous to more fully participate in the Uncreated One) but whole(catholic) also in the “fabric” of truth. And this truth itself “penetrates” and “imposes” itself on the person not as individual, but as person in participation with other persons in participation with that person, each person within *those* persons also being penetrated and imposed upon by the truth according to the whole.

    Yes, it is quite unfortunate that Papal Christians have corrupted the term ‘catholic’ in the West. Far too many people are under the delusion that ‘catholic’ is a synonym for ‘universal’. In truth, the word ‘catholic’ which comes from the Greek kath’olon (derived from kata [‘according to’] plus holon [whole]). The word ‘catholic’ thus means **not** ‘universality’ as is falsely claimed by the pope and his followers, but ‘according to the whole’, ‘according to the unity of all’: the community of free and perfect unanimity, not an organisation following the dictates of a leader or leaders; the community without masters and slaves, undivided into a ‘teaching church’ and a ‘listening church’. The Church is neither kath’eskaston (according to each) nor kata ton episkopon tes Romes (according to the bishop of Rome), but according to the whole.

    Interestingly, when the Church evangelised the Slavs (particularly Constantine and Methodius) the term ‘catholic’ was rendered as sobornyi and it is this word that is used where English uses ‘catholic’ in the Symbol of Faith (‘one, holy, sobornyi, and apostolic Church’). It represents the true meaning of ‘catholic’. However, sobornost has a richness of meaning that goes even beyond kath’olon. Sobornost is related to the words sobirat (‘to gather together’, ‘to collect’, ‘to assemble’, ‘to equip’, ‘to fit out’), sobor (‘council’, ‘synod’), sobraniye (‘assembly’ or ‘collection’), and sobrat (‘fellow’ or ‘colleague’). Sobornost can be translated as ‘communion’, ‘catholicity’, ‘catholic’, ‘togetherness’, ‘conciliarity’, etc. At the root of the word is the idea of togetherness, conciliarity, and collegiality in an integral, organic whole through time and space: that believed, as the Western Saint Vincent of Lerins described well as quod ubique, quod semper, quod ab omnibus (at all places, through all time, by all).

    The Orthodox emphasis on the whole is (rather suprisingly!) explained quite well in the Elwell Evangelical Dictionary by P. D. Steeves which explains sobornost as:

    For Orthodoxy, dogmatic authority remained rooted in the community of the church, represented by the episcopal succession from the apostles, not in the supremacy of the papacy nor in evangelical exegesis of Scripture, both of which to the Orthodox mind represented the domination of rationalism, legalism, and individualism over the true believing and worshipping fellowship of the faithful. To designate this community principle modern Russian theologians provided the definitive, but untranslatable, word “sobornost” (approximately, “communion”).

    It is important to understand the concept that ‘dogmatic authority remained rooted in the community of the church’. This is understood as the organic unity of all believers, including the ‘great multitude of witnesses’ (Hebrews 12:1) which participate in this sobornost of the Church. The believer freely and voluntarily unites himself to this organic community of the Church because he recognises this community is intimately united to Christ and clearly shows the way to Christ.

    The above passage also refers to ‘individualism’, a trait universally recognized as peculiar to Western Civilisation. This concept is explained in Russian Philosophy (Volume 1: The Beginnings of Russian Philosophy: The Slavophiles, The Westernizers.) James M. Edie, editor:

    Epistemologically, the Slavophiles assert that knowledge (in the highest sense) and the possession of truth are not a function of individual consciousness but are entrusted only to the collectivity…As opposed to Western rationalism, ontologism considers “rational” cognition to be a secondary and derived form of knowledge, based on and flowing from a more fundamental, more primitive contact with reality which is pre-cognitive. Finally, this epistemological theory implies an ontology: it is based on the “organic togetherness in cognition” which characterizes the solidarity of true Christian believers, particularly within Orthodoxy. As long as a man is vitally inserted in this sobornost, he is in the truth and the Church is One; whenever, through pride, he attempts to discover the truth by relying on his own powers of reason, in isolation from the collectivity, he falls into error. The greatest sin of the Western Church is, by definition, pride. The greatest virtue of Orthodoxy is humility (page 162)

    The most important part of the above quote is that as long as a person is a living part of sobornost, he is in the truth and in the Church, the Body of Christ. But if a person attempts to discover the truth by relying on his own power of reason, apart from sobornost, he falls into error. That is why it is common in Orthodoxy to say ‘we are being saved together’ and why the path of individualism is regarded as prelest (spiritual pride) and the surest way to hell.

    Here is a brief excerpt from an essay by Alexei Khomiakov that explains how individualism is peculiar to the West and how things function differently in Orthodoxy:

    An external unity, which rejects freedom and is therefore not a real unity — that is Latinism. An external freedom, which does not bestow unity and which is therefore not real freedom — that is Protestantism. The mystery of the unity of Christ and His elect, a unity actualised by His human freedom, was revealed in the Church to the real unity and real freedom of the faithful. Knowledge of the powers that actualised our salvation was necessarily bestowed upon similar powers. Knowledge of unity could not be bestowed upon discord, nor knowledge of freedom upon slavery. Rather, both were bestowed upon the Church, whose full unity is the harmony of individual freedoms.
    The Holy Scripture is Divine Revelation that is freely understood by the mind of the Church; the decisions of the synods, the meaning of the ritual ceremonies; in short: the whole dogmatic tradition, are all an expression of this self-same Revelation, but freely understood under other forms. Inconsistency and disagreement may be a proof of error, but not of freedom: for what is true today was also true in past ages. The contemporary thought of the Church, that is, the mind of its members united by the moral law of mutual love and illuminated by grace, is the same thought that wrote the Holy Scriptures, the same thought that, later, recognised them and declared their holiness, the same thought that, still later, formulated their meaning in the synods and symbolised this meaning in rite. The contemporary thought of the Church, like that of past ages, is a continuing revelation. It is inspiration from the Spirit of God.

    The Church knows well that no man is infallible, not even a bishop or an individual appointed ‘head of the Church’. Infallibility is present only in the Church as a whole, not even in a local church. That is why an Ecumenical Synod (Council) is not recognised as ‘ecumenical’ until it has been received by the Church as a whole. No single person can, by his own fiat, make a synodal gathering of the Church ‘ecumenical’.

    The Faith once delivered “exists” or “subsists” more fully, or to be plain, is what it is in the context of reality that is true and cannot be made sense of in the fullest possible way apart from being in its culture,

    Also, in a separate comment, Sophocles wrote:

    the necessity once again arises to place the texts organically within their culture, where outside this culture they lay “dormant” so to speak, but within their culture they come alive.

    Several people have made reference to the cultural differences, the differences of mindset which exist between Western Christians and the Church, and I think it deserves more discussion (in a separate thread?). It is at this point, in my opinion, where one may find the fundamental difference between the Christianity preserved in the Church and Western Christianity.

    Sophocles wrote:

    I tend to believe my name may mean “Of the Franks?” Any light you could shed would be great.

    From what I know (not nearly enough Greek, I’m sorry to say), I would say that sounds likely. I’ll have to ask some others who know much more than I.

    What would you recommend in reading that could tie together the history with its implications of the divergence of the two communions?

    Unfortunately, nothing in English. I think it is sorely needed.

    Drew Johnson wrote:

    I don’t have any problem referring to the citizens of the Byzantine Empire as “Romans” or vice versa. I have always understood the two to be equivalent.

    As has been explained they are definitely not equivalent.

    I personally prefer “Byzantine” to “Roman” (and always have) because it more clearly indicates which city was the capital of the Empire being mentioned.

    The official name of the capital of the (East) Roman Empire was ‘New Rome’. It was commonly referred to as ‘Constantine’s city’ [Constantinople] or simply ‘The City’. But all official documents referred to the city as ‘New Rome’. This was a deliberate move to make clear to all that the Empire had broken with the paganism of the Old Rome. (At the time of the creation of the new capital, Rome was at least as inseparably thought of as the centre of paganism as San Francisco, California today is thought of as a centre of homosexuality. Constantine wanted a clean break with that past.)

    The city was a planned city. Although built very near to the small town of Byas, it was never the town of Byas. It was the Imperial capital built from nothing by Constantine.

    Drew Johnson wrote:
    (regarding Newman)

    I think that it may not be entirely accurate to say that the Eastern Orthodox were not on his radar screen, however, given the contacts that had already existed between the EO and the Anglicans.

    I think you have overestimated the contacts which existed. At about the same time William Palmer were corresponding and the content of their letters makes clear that Orthodoxy was little known in England.

    It should also be noted that many Orthodox seminarians received their education in England and on the Continent.

    Not in England, but France was not unusual as it was during the ‘Western Captivity’. But these seminarians were basically being fed Latin thinking — not exactly a good situation for Westerners to learn about the Church.

    I think it would be fair to say that Newman was sufficiently familiar with the EO to make an intelligent decision when he become Roman Catholic.

    Based upon the content of his writings, I think such an assumption to be very rash.

    Sophocles posted some wonderful paragraphs from St Silouan the Athonite. Unfortunately, Drew didn’t grasp what was being said. This again, I think, is due to fundamental differences in worldview.

    Cyril wrote:

    With respect to your historical observations, you spoke several times of Karloman when you should have left it simply as Karl.

    Thank you for this correction, Cyril. I’ve seen a lot of variant names for so-called ‘Charlemagne’ and obviously chose a name that wasn’t one of those variants.

    Further, the term Charlemagne is quite a contrivance, since he wasn’t French, but a German.

    Yes, but then there really wasn’t a ‘French’ at that time. The Franks were just one of many Germanic tribes who happen to have given their name to the area they had dominated for a few centuries (France).

    In 813, when Karl crowned Ludwig, it was not the feudal transfer which you maintain, as this notion only emerges in the tenth century, and then only in historical fog.

    I’m sorry if I gave the impression that I thought Ludwig received a ‘feudal transfer’; I intended to make clear that the manner in which the coronation took place deliberately avoided any impression of a ‘feudal transfer’, quite in contrast with the coronation of 800.

    I must disagree with you that feudalism ‘only emerges in the tenth century’. The feudal system is clearly taking form in the 700s with Charles Martel granting his nobles tracts of land in return for an oath of loyalty. The tenth century is when the feudal system had come to dominate Western Europe.

    Per some of the other posts, it should be noted, that while riots did occur in Constantinople in 1182, spurred on by the approach of Alexius Comnenus (a cousin of the former Emperor Manuel I Comnenus), these were aimed almost entirely at the Pisan and Genoan quarters and were not undertaken from some anti-Latin venom. If anything, they were anti-Norman in that the regent of the young Alexisu II, his mother Maria Xena, the widow of Manuel I, was a Norman from Antioch, and hugely ineffectual at running the government. Under her watch Hungary and the Seljuks carved off pieces of the empire, and also the Serbians renounced Byzantine suzerainty. Maria Xena (she took the name Xena upon her profession as a nun, though this did not stop her from taking a lover of her late husband’s nephew) was deeply resented for her failures, and she was seen as a favorer of the Pisans and the Genoans, though not of the Venetians. Consequently, it is quite wrong to see the Crusaders in 1204 as acting out of revenge for what happened in 1182, as there were no Genoans and Pisans among them.

    Thank you for these details, Cyril. Ultimately, the atrocities against Latins in 1182 was economic and political, not religious. That is the point I was trying to make, although Drew, like many apologists for the papacy, seems determined to ignore the facts in his insistence that it was a cause of 1204. I especially appreciate your statement:

    Further, and more importantly, none of the sources of 1204 cite 1182 as justification for or a precursor of what happened. It appears in none of the sources, and certainly is not hinted at in our main sources, Robert of Clari, Geofferey Villehardouin, and Niketas Choniates.

    Drew Johnson wrote:

    EO and RC each have fasting and penitential practices that its members are expected to follow, regardless of their particular opinion.

    I was under the impression that ‘fasting and penitential practices’ were a thing of the past in Papal Christianity. 🙂

    (I hope I did a better job with the formatting this time!)



  156. Hi Thomas,
    I am saddened by your continued usage of the epithet “Papal” to refer to Roman Catholics. I am at loss to understand why you would continue to use a term that is clearly divisive and derogatory. On the other hand, if you would prefer that I call the citizens of the Eastern Roman Empire “Romans,” and not “Byzantines,” I will happily oblige you.
    Regarding the rest, I do not have as much time on my minds as you seem to, so I will only deal with a few of the points you mentioned:
    1) You responded to my citation of Pelikan by writing: “…many years before his conversion to the Church, he didn’t understand Orthodoxy.” Honestly, I don’t whether to laugh or cry at the sheer ridiculousness of the assertion that Jaroslav Pelikan didn’t understand Orthodoxy. You might as well say that Jesus didn’t understand the Old Testament!
    2) You also wrote that you did not know “of any Orthodox Catholic [sic] Christian who would not rejoice if the papacy were to reject its numerous heresies and return to the Church.” Ah, triumphalism at its best!
    3) Regarding the Fourth Crusade, I think you are being too doctrinaire about the whole episode, as if history could be known with complete certainty. After all, it’s a little silly to try to argue why a massacre happened (as if massacres were rational anyhow), and it is equally silly to say that one event was politically and economically motivated, and that another was religiously motivated. If you think the sack of Constantinople was religiously motivated, you might be granting to the Crusaders a lot more piety than they actually had. The “antecedent historical context” was the massacre of 1182 itself. Besides, I think you’re taking this a little too seriously. My comments were only intended as suggestions for a possible interpretation, nothing more. Besides, Gibbon was a great historian. He wasn’t always right, nor was he always unbiased, but who is? I can admire one’s writing whose religious stance happened to be different from my own, and that really shouldn’t be that surprising.
    4) Regarding St. Silouan, I’m sorry that I didn’t have time to write a full-length commentary complete with citations in the original Greek! I actually have to go to work and support myself, and my comments on Sophocles’ post were only intended as a brief comment on one of things that struck me and how it could be related to the topic at hand.
    5) And you’re simply wrong about the “fasting and penitential practices.” Simply because the Catholic Church has more lenient fasting regulations does not mean that they do not form an integral part of the spirituality and piety of Catholics. This just shows how little you understand Roman Catholicism, my friend. And I understand Eastern Orthodoxy well enough…I formerly belonged to it, after all (and enthusiastically).
    Overall, it’s a struggle for me to see much value in what you wrote. You may indeed have a few points in some of the historical commentary you made, but for the most part it was a mixture of doctrinaire assertions and word games. I fear you are another one of those Orthodox “fundamentalists” that hate all non-Orthodox. Barring that, the only real problem with your responses is that they lack that essential thing called “evidence.”

    Always glad to be Papal,


  157. One more thing about the Fourth Crusade…I never made such an irresponsible statement that the “massacre of 1182 was a ’cause’ of the sack in 1204.” That is so far from what I actually wrote that I wonder whether the misrepresentation was deliberate. The fact that previous historians didn’t see a connection doesn’t prove anything other than the fact that they didn’t see a connection. That doesn’t mean one doesn’t exist. In any case, one would be hard-pressed to prove that the idea of any such connection is impossible. Disagreement on the subject does not constitute bad history. If I had said that massacres of Western Christians in Constantinople had occurred in the 12th century – without mentioning whatever motivations might have been involved – and they really hadn’t, that would be “bad history.” But the massacres did happen, and insofar as there is a sequence there is at least the possibility of a causative or conditional connection. What this really should lead to is a greater sense of humility on both sides, as well as a desire to forgive. Burying an old hatchett is never “anti-history.”


  158. Drew,

    I am going to ask you to restrict your comments to the ideas and issues and stay away from comments directed towards the character of those you are speaking with.

    As for Pelikan, authorities are only as good as the arguments and data they present. Pelikan made a number of mistakes in older works about Catholicism for example. If you can provide readers with the arguments or evidence that Pelikan used to reach his conclusion, that would be helpful in advancing the conversation.


  159. All of this arguing about the Fourth Crusade is really beside the point, though. I was merely attempting to debunk the myth that there were clear “good guys” and “bad guys” in the events leading up to the sack. The Byzantines/Eastern Romans were notorious for their political intrigues, and to portray them as innocent victims of another barbaric horde bent on destroying their religion is rather melodramatic, to say the least. But the point of this is not to take a shot at the Orthodox but only to serve as a reminder that nobody is perfect, and we each have sins that require the forgiveness of not only God but others as well, and this applies to the Orthodox no less than it does to the Catholics.


  160. Perry,
    I really don’t think that’s a fair comparison. I didn’t begin my reponses by attacking Thomas’ character. But if he is using epithets and engaging in all kinds of informal fallacies (red herrings, special pleading, etc.) to attempt to demonstrate that I am engaging in “bad history,” I don’t really see what is unobjectionable if I point out such things. I will restrict my comments to “just the facts” when I am shown the same courtesy.
    Thank you,


  161. Drew,

    I have watched you for some time. You went off on Daniel and then me and for a while now, whenever you reach a point of disagreement, you insinuate some character flaw as part of your reply. Object to reasoning all you like, but leave out the implications about any character defects. If you can’t do so, please find another venue.


  162. Perry,
    Like I said, that’s a two-way street. If you’re going to criticize me for getting frustrated from time to time, then it’s only fair to do the same to everyone else. I didn’t start off attacking Thomas. I even worded my responses in third-person. If you don’t want alternative viewpoints to be expressed and for false impressions to be challenged, then you need to just kick off Roman Catholics and be done with it. If you will go back and read my very first post here, you will find that I was expressing sympathy for you and regret over what happened over at Pontifications. If you’re not going to take that for what it is, and be fair all around to non-Orthodox participants on this blog, why bother having the discussion? If it’s OK for some of the participants here to employ epithets and insults to denigrate Roman Catholicism and the character of those who practice it, why are you jumping on me for merely pointing it out? Surely you can see the double-standard in that.



  163. And Perry,
    Regardless of the disagreements we may have, I do consider you to be a sincere Orthodox Christian with a very gifted intellect. One thing I have always admired about your posts is their frank honesty, something which is rarely seen these days. I share the same passion for truth that you do. When I came here a little over a week ago, I thought we could continue the discussion that was unfortunately cut short over at Pontifications. I don’t know what I wrote that offended you…I never used profanity once, and I can’t say that I was shown the same courtesy. Nevertheless, whatever I said that hurt you, I apologize for it and ask your forgiveness. I don’t have any wish to quarrel with you, I just want to treated as fairly on your blog as I would treat you were the roles reversed. But the last thing I want is personal conflict…but every time I try to make this clear someone else steps in who wants to pick a fight: Thomas, for example. Look, it’s your blog, and you can obviously run it any way you want to, I’m just hoping you’ll hear me out and understand that I’m not out to be anyone’s enemy.


  164. Drew,

    First, its my blog. Second, there was only one comment in Thomas’ comments that I saw that could be construed as being somewhat over the line. Your comments by contrast have exhibited a pattern that include ad hominem’s. You did begin with a sympathetic entry but then began to attack me personally. You did the same to Daniel. I don’t take “papal” to be an epithet. It was a way that Jesuits for example contrasted themselves in the past with Protestants. Moreover, while there is a limit here on hard nosed terms, that limit is extended by considerations of truth. Catholicism says(/said) we are heretics since we reject Catholic dogma (papacy. filioque)necessary for salvation and/or schismatics. I take those terms to be denigrating. Do I forbid them? No.

    In any case, it doesn’t matter what you like or don’t like. This isn’t your blog. I want alternativie views but I don’t want personal attacks. I understand that you think that you are in the true church and you seem to have had some liberating experience. But please don’t take your experience and others motion towards it or away from it as a measure of intellectual honesty.


  165. Drew,

    If you wished to continue the convo, why didn’t you engage any of my questions at the top of the post? If memory serves, I didn’t use profanity with you or towards you. I don’t think Thomas or Cyril want to pick a fight. They are expressing their views, as are you.

    You wrote to the effect that I was determined not to consider any evidence that might support Catholicism. That is an ad hominem. Not only is it false, it says nothing as to the truth preserving character of my comments. You made numerous similar other comments to Daniel, Thomas, et al. I never would have gotten this far by having such a disposition. Nor would my own personal habit of passing out Newman or Aquinas to Protestants come about.

    In any case, if you wish to continue this line of discussion, please email me. Otherwise additions to the personal thread will be deleted.


  166. Re. Pelikan, he admitted after his conversion to Orthodoxy that he wished he could go back and revise some of his writing on the Trinity. Suffice to say that he was admitting he learned something by becoming Orthodox that he had not known prior.


  167. I haven’t followed the discussion on Fr. Kimbel’s website, but I would offer this in general about discussion over the internet:

    Be very careful that you examine your heart before posting anything. I used to do alot of internet debate, over live chat, forums, blogs, etc., and I’ve learned that can very quickly become a competition where love is forgotten. Love is the most important thing – if you are not saying something *in love*, perhaps it shouldn’t be said. I once asked a great theologian of the Orthodox Church his opinion of internet discussions (e.g. forums). He replied that he never engaged in them because they “disturbed the ability of his soul to pray”. I’ve often found that I feel worse after engaging in such discussions rather than better. Just my thoughts.


  168. Don,
    Point well taken, we should engage in this project in love. On the other hand, I am sure glad St.Paul did not say, well going and trying to preach the truth in some contexts might leave me feeling disturbed, therefore I won’t do it (we all no the results for him were somtimes a bit more than disturbing, stoning, beating etc.). Man I am glad he still did it and did it in love (I Know, I know, the internet is not quite the same as Pauls context but it can still be a helpfull resourse for someone like myself who is looking into Orthodoxy).


  169. Photios,
    Ya I know, I will chalk that one up on the ever growing reading list, right now I am working on Pelikon’s”Christianity and Classical Culture” (supplemented with source readings of the Cappadocians) trying to get a good understanding of the Cappadocian project.


  170. Re: My earlier question about Augustine’s “City of God” to Cyril,

    Is there anyone who has an answer? I would much appreciate it



  171. Sophocles,

    My apologies. I let pressing matters get the better of me. I shall bet back to you on it. Tuesday night brought me appendicitis. I have only gotten home from the hospital this afternoon. Shall try to address your question in the next day or so.


  172. Cyril,

    My prayers for your well being in your recovery and my thanks for your attention to this question.

    In Christ and in fellowship,



  173. Drew,

    I want to focus on just three things. Please do not mistake this setting aside of other items as agreeing with your positions or lacking refutations!

    Topic: the diabolical sack of New Rome in 1204 by the Latins.
    If you had opened the subject by simply writing as you eventually did

    But the point of this is not to take a shot at the Orthodox but only to serve as a reminder that nobody is perfect, and we each have sins that require the forgiveness of not only God but others as well, and this applies to the Orthodox no less than it does to the Catholics.

    you would have received no argument. But you did not, instead choosing to make 1182 a cause of 1204. Then, when your error was pointed out, you reacted with indignation and accusation:

    I never made such an irresponsible statement that the “massacre of 1182 was a ’cause’ of the sack in 1204.” That is so far from what I actually wrote that I wonder whether the misrepresentation was deliberate.

    In fact, you did exactly what you deny.

    In the comment dated May 13th, 2007 at 5:00 am you referred to 1182 as ‘the antecendent [sic] historical context of the Fourth Crusade’. Lest there be any doubt, you repeated this accusation in your comment dated May 15th, 2007 at 5:47 am, writing, ‘The “antecedent historical context” was the massacre of 1182 itself.’

    Now perhaps you don’t know the meaning of antecedent. My Webster’s provides the following:

    1 a substantive word, phrase, or clause referred to by a pronoun … broadly a word or group of words replaced and referred to by a substitute 2 the conditional element in a proposition (as if A in “if A, then B” 3 the first term of a mathematical ratio 4 a a preceding event, condition, or cause b the significant events, conditions, and traits of one’s earlier life 5 a predessor esp a model or stimulus for later developments b ancestors, parents syn see cause

    Thus, you in effect stated that you referred to 1182 because it was the causal historical context of the sack of 1204. Do you see how far that is from your later statement?

    Also, if you will review what I wrote above, you will see your statement ‘If you think the sack of Constantinople was religiously motivated …’ is absolutely false. I have never even suggested at such an absurd notion.

    Topic: nomenclature for Christian groups
    Drew Johnson wrote:

    I am saddened by your continued usage of the epithet “Papal” to refer to Roman Catholics. I am at loss to understand why you would continue to use a term that is clearly divisive and derogatory.

    First, Papal Christians are not ‘Roman’ in the sense of the Roman world in which Christianity was born and developed (it is far more Germanic). Second, they are not ‘Catholic’ as they do not hold to that which has been believed quod ubique, quod semper, quod ab omnibus.

    When I discuss the various groups of Christians from a strictly neutral POV, I use ‘Assyrian Christians’, ‘Non-Chalcedonian Eastern Christians’, ‘Chalcedonian Eastern Christians’, ‘Papal Christians’, and ‘Protestant Christians’. That avoids granting any of the groups terminology claimed by others in their assertions that they are the Church. There is nothing ‘divisive’ or ‘derogatory’ about ‘Papal Christian’ – it uses the most notable distinguishing element of that branch of Christianity to create a neutral and clearly understandable label. Anyone who sees something derogatory in these labels has too active an imagination.

    When in an Orthodox environment, I naturally use Orthodox Catholic terms to describe the Church. In the Patriarchal Encyclical of 1895, the term used is ‘Orthodox Catholic and Apostolic Church’. One of my regularly-used prayer books is printed by the ‘Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Church of America’. A few decades ago it was very typical to see ‘Orthodox Catholic’ as in the slogan for the ‘American Orthodox Book Service’ (‘The Best in Orthodox Catholic Books’) and parish names (‘St. Mary’s [sic] Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Church’.

    The charge of ‘Triumphalism’
    Drew Johnson wrote:

    You also wrote that you did not know “of any Orthodox Catholic [sic] Christian who would not rejoice if the papacy were to reject its numerous heresies and return to the Church.” Ah, triumphalism at its best!

    Good grief. You insist that Orthodox Catholic Christians want to maintain schism. When I point out the fallaciousness of the statement, you dismiss it as ‘triumphalism’. I’m sorry, but that comes across as ‘damned if you do, damned if you don’t.’

    Oh, one more thing. If you will review my comment, ‘I was under the impression that “fasting and penitential practices” were a thing of the past in Papal Christianity’ you will see that I added an emoticon to indicate humour (apparently failing in my attempt to inject a little levity). I am aware Papal Christianity has not totally eliminated those things (though they are much less reduced in extent and importance).

    (hoping my attempt at more advanced formatting works)


  174. Sophocles,

    This opens many cans of worms. The short answer is, whether Rome continued or not was of little moment to St. (blessed) Augustine. For St. Aug, there is no worldly principality that can be identified with the kingdom of God, and in this he takes a very different stance than that of his contemporaries such as Eusebius in his Encomium for Constantine. He does address the emperors Constantine and Theodosius in De Civitate V.24-26, but not purely in respect to the question you asked. What he does say is pertinent, though, especially as regards Theodosius. For this God-loving emperor, it was more important to be a contrite member of the Church than to be emperor (he is alluding to the repentance impressed on him by St. Ambrose following the massacre in Thessalonika). In this he sets out the essential notion in DCD, that no earthly polity can be identified with the City of God, not even by analogy or likeness. There is no hierarchy, there is no underlying hierarchic world ascending to the realms of light. There is, of course, a strong coincidence between the Church and the Heavenly City, and at times he even uses the terms interchangeably (e.g., XIII.17). But he is also takes great pains to say that the present Church, while united to the Heavenly City, is still filled with sinners. The earthly city, whatever it is, exists only to itself, and has no anti-type. This is Rome. Indeed he goes on to equate the empire such as it still is, with Babylon. This was not always the case, as in his writings up to the year 400 he had seen the empire as an agent of godly change, e.g., his notions of the place of the empire in “compelling the Dontatists to come in.” But Rome’s sack in 410 was a severe shock to the system, for even 80 years after Constantine had identified Byzantium with the Imperial Capital, Rome still retained a place of prestige and preeminence. This, after all, is where Aug had gone to seek work as an orator. That the western capital had also moved about did not detract from Rome’s precedence either. Think of the place that Rome still obtained in the cultured imagination even 90 years after St. Aug’s death in the thought of both Cassiodorus and Boethius: however attenuated its grandeur might have been, it still was an ideal to be cherished and cultivated. Thus for Aug, the sack of Rome presented we could say a paradigm shift: earthly polities, even the best of them, are transient, and thus we must recompute the data! But it should be noted then that Augustine’s polity arises not merely out of his realization of the transience of worldly empires, but also out of his own emerging notion of types and realities. To Augustine, while he held that Israel was a type of the New Testament Church, the New Testament Church was not a type of the Church in Heaven, but was part of it. The relation between these two was that effected by love. Since earthly polities are built at best on the repression of sin, they could not be built on love. But there is something more here, I think. Though affected by Platonism and Neo-platonism, St. Augustine had no sense of a hierarchy as we would see in Eusebius of Caesarea, or even in St. Dionysus. This is rather ironic, of course, in that St. Dionysus, while having a structured and hierarchical cosmos, still placed God beyond all proportion and analogy. This, as we all know, is not the case for Augustine. Thus for Augustine there were types and foreshadowings, but these existed as prophesy. The most notable is the OT kingdom of Israel. While the OT was fleshly (the Jews read the law with fleshly eyes, and that is why they did not see Christ) with fleshly promises (CDC XV.2), it still stood as a prophecy for the Church. This is why in Augustine, we see so little of the mystical and anagogical readings of the Scriptures such as was practiced by St. Ambrose, and later was adopted so splendidly in Bede (his commentaries “On the Temple” and “On the Tabernacle” are both fabulous). In short (and this is a pedestrian assertion, almost philistine) the relationship between God and the Christian for Augustine was not one that involved terrestrial realities per se, but a life of grace, faith, and charity. Think about his conversion! Unlike the spiritual fathers of the East, all of whom were highly dependent on confessors and spiritual guides, abbas, Augustine was a spiritual son without a father. He greatly admired Ambrose, but when he went to see him, he felt he couldn’t speak with him. I am not trying to say that Augustine had no place for the Church or the Sacraments, but when we see the place the institution played in the lives of his contemporaries and predecessors, it plays preciously little in his. In a sense, who is St. Augustine’s spiritual father? It is St. Monica. How else do we fit in the that duo-vision he had with Monica shortly before she died in Ostia? I could go on. I am not trying to make this into St. Aug was a momma’s boy thing, but merely that for Augustine conversion was something God effected directly in him, albeit over the course of years and with many convertiones.

    Well, I have rambled, and I must get back to my Bede. What insights! What economy of expression! What an uplifting of the soul! For another day.



  175. Cyril,

    I don’t understand. I see nothing for which you need apologise.

    Personally, I am very torn regarding Augustine. I often think it would be best if the Church simply said we honour him for his pastoral work only and make clear he is not a Church Father. I am also quite uncomfortable with the way Augustine sneaked onto the calendar. He was much more a philosopher than a theologian.



  176. Thomas,

    I thought you had some more to add after the quote from Drew in regard to “triumphalism”. As regards St. Augustine, I call him St. as he was by St. Photios. But as has been pointed out, he is not numbered among the Ecumenical Teachers and Hierarchs. I do agree philosophy dominates his theology.



  177. Cyril,

    Thank you for the post. Especially I was searching for whether the Empire, of which Rome of course was the center, ended in Augustine’s understanding with the sack of Rome Proper.

    Is what remained in the East in his mind “the Empire”?is specifically what I was hoping you might shed some light on in line with mine and Thomas’ dialogue with Drew.

    Augustine, in writing the work, is inadvertantly setting down a historical work as a by product to his main thesis of contrasting the City of God and the Earthly City in his details about the Earthly City.

    I found it conspicuous to not find any evidence in the work of any continuatiion of the Empire after the fall of Rome Proper so my curiousity was peaked, not having read any of his other works.

    As to Augustine’s place in the Church, in Which we would all agree he was(I assume, here, of course), I follow the lead of many Orthodox and refer to him as “The Blessed” rather than “Saint”.


  178. Sophocles,

    I don’t think it is an ‘of course’ that (Old) Rome was the centre of the Empire. The bulk of the Empire’s population was in the East. Overall, the East was the commercial, cultural, and educational centre of the Empire. Constantine’s decision to move the capital into the East was quite logical.



  179. Thomas,

    I should have clarified. ‘of course’ in line with Cyril’s explanation of what (Old) Rome meant to Augustine in his post in reply to my initial question.

    As to your comment, 100% agreement.


  180. Perry,

    Instructing high school students at a classical academy, I have found, like anyone who has tried it, that Socratic method in discussion not just efficient and useful and enjoyable, but absolutely inevitable, essential, and without alternative.

    In my attempts to be bring Socratic method to bear online, however, I have come up against a certain frustrating problem and I wonder if its not the same as the one (of many) you came up against at Pontifications; namely, when I post several questions, in return I get exactly no responses.

    I have found, by trial and error, and by exercise of extreme digital restraint, that asking one question per post is the best alternative.

    Which makes sense. Socrates’ interlocutors usually engage with him somewhere on the scale of “indifferent-to-reluctant-to-begrudging-to-openly hostile,” which is probably (one of) the major reason(s) he moves at the pace of one question per ‘turn.’ Even if they are skittishly giving him a bit of trust to lead with questions, overwhelming them with the next three or four steps in the dialectic would pinch the conversation at the esophagus.

    Fine and good, you might say, but online, this snail’s pace is almost impossible. To which I can only say, again, it is only alternative that works, in my experience. (I once successfully maintained a 64 comment dialog about evolution with a friendly but snippity naturalist…. A proud moment, I assure you.

    Try it and let me know how it goes. The best that could happen is that even logos-suffocating Moff Tarkins will actually respond (albeit with some logorea) to one of the excellent questions above and the dialog will roll on –which is something! — or they will not respond, which is no worse off than where ya started.

    Either way, for less hostile listeners, your “questions for contemplation” will produce no mean amount of musing. I, for instance, will be talking them other with my Orthodox friends this week.


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