Orthodox Dogmatics leads to violence?

Dr. Peter Gilbert has responded to my post about Anastasius the Librarian here. He closed the combox so this is my final response to him:



Let me be honest and frank here, I really don’t see a lot of familiarity with my thesis or Dr. Farrell’s thesis in what you write. I think you’re informed sensibilities are making much more than what I really am and you confuse my competitive edge and spirit with aggression. Really, the most that you confessed to have read is Farrell’s translation to Photios’ Mystagogy, which was his point of view at the time. Not that the later works would be a repudiation of this work, but there is some refinement, especially when one considers Dr. Farrell’s interpretive grid (we all have them).


“When I say that this is an ideology, I mean that it is maintained only through a kind of willful disregard of Christian history.”


What do you mean by this? Do you think Augustine holds to a Neoplatonic view of divine simplicity or not? I think that he does. A.H. Armstrong thinks so. In fact, many scholars think so. Where do you think I learned it from? A non-historical reading of Church History? Of course not, and neither did Farrell. Because of that, we have a reasoned basis to think so. Even someone like Gilson says, that Augustine made his “philosophical first principle one… with his religious first principle”(Etienne Gilson, God and Philosophy, p. 41) and that his notion of divine being was ultimately greek and pagan. Was Gilson wrong to think this or perhaps you think that elements of pagan notions of deity really are compatible? Perhaps they are, but I think otherwise. I think the Orthodox Church thinks otherwise.


“Neither the East, nor certainly the West, was ever as monolithically Photian in its understanding of the trinitarian mystery as you make it out to be. That is one of the things, in writing this blog, that I have tried to show.”


Of course not, nobody is claiming it to be so. What we believe to be the case is that there is a general confusion after the Apologists and Origen in which philosophy and theology and their relationship is fundamentally confused at times, and even so in many Orthodox Fathers. That is, there are movements towards and away from Hellenization up until the Triumph of Orthodoxy. Even after St. Justinian condemned Origenists and closed the Academy, these ideas still did not go away and sometimes these views never go away. So when one stands in the place of say a John Bekkos and attempts to read History without the awareness of these movements, one can be easily confused on what exactly is Orthodox. Compare Newman’s understanding to Joseph Farrell’s understanding of the Nicene crisis and Pre-Nicene theologians. I find Joseph’s account far superior as an explanatory model of why there were so many different views of Christ the Logos; he amplified some of the intuitive insights of Johannes Quasten in giving them real explanatory power where Quasten still seemed dumbfounded (as was I for many years) though spot on. Nicea to Constantinople III 879/880 (and on) is a purification of Theology and its autonomous divorce from philosophy as a handmaiden. St. Photios the Great’s Triadology is a long drawn out purification and retrospect of what all the heresies have in common: the confusion between Person and Nature.


I don’t know why you want to pick on St. Augustine or make him out to be my demon. I think a theologian like St. Justin Martyr’s Logos theology was wrong and was a stepping stone to Origen and then later the Nicene Crisis. What this means is that error, even extreme error, doesn’t exclude someone from being a Holy Man or even a Father. What constitutes heresy is a willful dogmatic posture towards the Church, which none of these men had. *In of themselves*, St. Justin’s speculations or Augustine’s speculations are quite healthy and good. I wish people felt the desire to speculate and felt more free to do so and that they would state that they are doing so when they are performing it. You want me to embrace the Fathers in some kind of doctrinal purity that fundamentally doesn’t exist, I’m quite happy excepting them warts and all (and leaving their warts at the door of dogmatics), and recognizing that some Fathers have more warts than others.


“Theoretically and rhetorically, the ideology of those who gave fuel to the Bosnian war.”


Again, how is this so? I mean why would you think a commitment to truth and that there has been those that are true and that there has been those that are wrong constitute violence. There is not a thing violent about my claim. What you say here could be predicated of any exclusive truth claim. C’mon.



35 Responses to Orthodox Dogmatics leads to violence?

  1. Euthymios says:

    The primacy only belongs to the successors of Peter. What the last post said is not patristic.

  2. Anthony,

    The status of the See of Rome is something appointed by Christ. This isn’t something with which most Orthodox would have a problem. Personally, I understand from the evidence of the Canons that the conciliar decisions, which have been accepted ecumenically, are from Christ; such a conciliar decision is the decision of Christ. The issue is about how to interpret the status of Rome, which by the way, Constantinople shares with Old Rome being the New Rome; it too is the See of Rome. Historically and as evidenced from the Canons in practice, apart from the issue of age, New Rome was the premier See in the Catholic Church. It was the locus of the Emperor and near or in it were the Ecumenical Councils. Old Rome was of great veneration but in practical terms Constantinople was the centre of attention.

    Communion with any See in the Catholic Church determines communion with Catholic Church. A breach of communion with any Catholic See is a major rupture of the one Body of Christ. Nevertheless, communion with the principle Sees of the Church, especially Rome (Old and New), is used as the indicator of Catholicity because they are representative of all the other Churches, unless these principle Sees stop being representative, that is Catholic and Orthodox both in place and in time. Rome increasingly went its own way in matters of Tradition and Faith until it could no longer be said to be representative of the Catholic Church and became separated from the Catholic Sees of New Rome, Alexandria, the Apostolic See of Antioch and Jerusalem, the mother of all Churches. At the time of Maximus, Old Rome was representative of the Catholic Faith and New Rome was not, and neither the Sees of Alexandra, Antioch nor Jerusalem. Notice though that the focus of the heresy was New Rome.

    The Orthodox Churches, ie the Catholic Churches, still have the See of Rome, New Rome, and the other principle Sees. God has preserved them until today. There is nothing missing in the structure of the Church in regard to its principle Sees and hierarchy. Of course to have Old Rome return to communion with the Catholic Churches would be wonderful but only if it can return to its place of being representative of the Catholic, ie Orthodox, Faith.

  3. Anthony,

    This is why Maximus links it with the councils? Its conjunctive. Second, the oldest tradition regarding Rome is its authority is founded on both of the apostles.

    Certainly the evidence concerning Honorius is sufficient reason for thinking that the envoys weren’t lying, so muh so that Maximus gives the answer that he does. For Maximus it was who professed the right faith that determined communion. Again, I’d recommend you read Larchet’s article in Kasper’s volume, The Petrine Ministry.

  4. AnthonyJamesPuccetti says:


    Maximos believed that the supreme authority of Rome was from Christ. The conciliar decisions were based upon that belief.

  5. anthonyjames puccetti says:


    The envoys were lying to Maximos when they said that delegates from Rome were going to communicate the Holy Mysteries with the patriarch. And besides that,Maximos said that he would never be in communion with the patriarch,not that he would break communion with Rome. It was communion with Rome that determined whether one was in the Catholic Church,not communion with Constantinople. Even if he really believed the envoys,he would have thought that the Byzantines were deceiving Rome,not that Rome itself was falling into heresy.

  6. Notice the other alarming thing about Maximus’ statement. Bishops are deprived of their priestly function, that they can no longer perform the mysteries, and he asks rhetorically of ‘what spirit’ will descend upon them. Obviously, he thinks the Spirit of God does not condescend heretical bishops in their performance of mysteries.

  7. Anthony,

    That citation doesn’t help you since it inicates that the first place that Rome enjoys is derived from and defined by the councils and the canons of the church, which runs contrary to the definition in Vat I.

  8. Gina,

    I’ve read that article before. The article is specious in so many ways. In any case, none of it constitutes a biblical justification for the doctrine, in which case Protestants have to violate sola scriptura to adhere to the filioque.

  9. Gina says:

    I managed to find the original document. Try not to get whiplash from the crazy non sequiturs.


  10. trvalentine says:

    Gina, what jumped out at me from those ‘tasty morsels’ is I could not find any explanation as to why Greg Uttinger believes his laundry list of assertions to be true. All I saw was a litany of bald assertions completely lacking the slightest shred of evidence or explanation. I don’t think it is possible to respond to bald assertions. One can deny the assertions and/or present counter-assertions, but then the only product is a he said versus he said and probably a good deal of heat, but zero light.

    I don’t think it is worth one’s time or energy to respond to someone who cannot even present reasons as to why he believes as he does.


  11. Anthony,

    I’m sorry but I believe that the Roman Catholic Church has little to do with the Roman Orthodoxy of the Church of Rome in Maximus day. It no longer has the Roman Faith or her Orthodoxy. I do no believe that Maximus would have went along with the Franko-Latin subversion of the papacy and its filioque.

    But to balance out your quote, let’s see how Maximus understand Matthew 16:18:

    “To which church do you belong? To that of Byzantium, of Rome, Antioch, Alexandria, or Jerusalem? For all these churches, together with the provinces in subjection to them, are in unity. Therefore, if you also belong to the Catholic Church, enter into communion with us at once, lest fashioning for yourself some new and strange pathway, you fall into that which you do not even expect!”

    To this the righteous man wisely replied, “Christ the Lord called that Church the Catholic Church which maintains the true and saving confession of the Faith. It was for this confession that He called Peter blessed, and He declared that He would found His Church upon this confession. However, I wish to know the contents of your confession, on the basis of which all churches, as you say, have entered into communion. If it is not opposed to the truth, then neither will I be separated from it.”

    The Saint said, “They [the Patriarchs of Constantinople and Alexandria and all the other heretical bishops of the East] have been deposed and deprived of the priesthood at the local synod which took place recently in Rome. What Mysteries, then, can they perform? Or what spirit will descend upon those who are ordained by them?”

    “Then you alone will be saved, and all others will perish?” they objected.

    To this the Saint replied, “When all the people in Babylon were worshipping the golden idol, the Three Holy Children did not condemn anyone to perdition. They did not concern themselves with the doings of others, but took care only for themselves, lest they should fall away from true piety. In precisely the same way, when Daniel was cast into the lion’s den, he did not condemn any of those who, fulfilling the law of Darius, did not wish to pray to God, but he kept in mind his own duty, and desired rather to die than to sin against his conscience by transgressing the Law of God. God forbid that I should condemn anyone or say that I alone am being saved! However, I shall sooner agree to die than to apostatize in any way from the true Faith and thereby suffer torments of conscience.”

    “But what will you do,” inquired the envoys, “when the Romans are united to the Byzantines? Yesterday, indeed, two delegates arrived from Rome and tomorrow, the Lord’s day, they will communicate the Holy Mysteries with the Patriarch. ”

    The Saint replied, “Even if the whole universe holds communion with the Patriarch, I will not communicate with him. For I know from the writings of the holy Apostle Paul: the Holy Spirit declares that even the angels would be anathema if they should begin to preach another Gospel, introducing some new teaching.”

    From The Life of Our Holy Father St. Maximus the Confessor pp.60-62


  12. Anthony James Puccetti says:


    If Maximos is the touchstone,then the interpretation of him that should be put forward as the basis of ecumenism should be that of the Church that he was loyal to,which was the Church of Rome.

    “For he only speaks in vain who thinks he ought to pursuade or entrap persons like myself, and does not satisfy and implore the blessed Pope of the most holy Catholic Church of the Romans, that is, the Apostolic See, which is from the incarnate of the Son of God Himself, and also all the holy synods, according to the holy canons and definitions has received universal and surpreme dominion, authority, and power of binding and loosing over all the holy churches of God throughout the whole world.” (Maximus, Letter to Peter, in Mansi x, 692).

  13. Gina,

    The writer obviously has never read Gregory of Cyprus. It seems like he’s arguing the filioque solely on the basis of the Economy of salvation without having a grasp of Orthodox soteriology. Very poor read and doesn’t really make an argument for his assertions or connect the dots for implications for any of these assertions. If it’s a kind of introduction, well I guess I can excuse it for lack of an argument, but I would like to see where the argument does lie.


  14. Gina,

    That was painful to read. *shivers* They just don’t get it. Maybe after I’ve naval gazed for a few more years I’ll have a response to that.

  15. Gina says:

    I wonder if you’re familiar with the writing of Greg Uttinger, Reformed “scholar” on the filioque. I just had some tasty morsels quoted to me:

    “There are other implications we need to consider. For if the Spirit comes to do the work of the Father, (only proceeds from Him) we must expect to find Him most clearly revealed, not in the Church, but in creation. “If the Spirit is understood as proceeding from the Father alone, it is then natural to think that Spirit reflects the spiritual energy of the created world.” Grace then takes a back seat to Nature.

    Theologically, rejection of the Filioque opens the door to Pelagianism, man’s ability to save himself; politically, it leads directly to statism. “The sure voice of God was therefore the natural voice, the state.” Eastern Orthodox nations are no strangers to totalitarianism and imperialism.

    The filioque is vitally connected with the advance of the Western church towards a strong anthropology (in connection with the doctrine of sin and grace), while the Eastern stopped in a weak Pelagian and synergistic view, crude and undeveloped. The procession only de Patre per Filium would put the church at arm’s length, so to speak, from God; that is, beyond Christ, off at an extreme, or at one side of the kingdom of divine life, rather than in the centre and bosom of that kingdom, where all things are hers. The filioque put the church, which is the temple and organ of the Holy Ghost in the work of redemption, rather between the Father and the Son, partaking of their own fellowship, according to the great intercessory prayer of Christ Himself. It places the church in the meeting point, or the living circuit of the interplay, of grace and nature, of the divine and the human; thus giving scope for a strong doctrine of both nature and grace, and to a strong doctrine also of the church itself.

    The Filioque means that the work of the Father and the work of the Son coincide in the operation of the Holy Spirit. Grace is not deification, but the redemption and restoration of God’s creation. The Church, as the temple of the Holy Ghost, lies at the very heart of this process and in the center of the covenant love that exists within the Triune God.

    In 1984 ABC correspondent George Bailey, writing for a secular audience, traced the conflict between the Soviet Union and the United States of America, the modern incarnations of East and West, to the Filioque. He pointed to “the mysta-gogical, or spiritual, turning inward of the Greek Orthodox faith,” which he connected with “the withdrawn spirituality of the Russian orthodox tradition.” This he contrasted with “the dynamic involvement in worldly affairs characteristic of Catholicism and, to an even greater extent, of Protestantism (the lay minister in a business suit).”

    Bailey may have exaggerated cause and effect, but at least he saw something of the theological and creedal roots of the greatest political conflict of the 20th Century. Not many Western theologians were as astute.

    The mysticism, cultural stagnation, and imperialism typical of Eastern Orthodox nations are logical consequences of rejecting the Filioque. Sovereign grace and political liberty are logical consequences of embracing it. And yet few Western writers have devoted more than a page or two to the Filioque. This is sad. Eastern Orthodox theologians at least understand that the issue is important, and they are quick to contend for the sanctity of their position. It is time for Western theologians to show a like zeal in defending their own theological inheritance.

    Moreover, as Abraham Kuyper has incisively pointed out, a denial of the filioque leads to an unhealthy mysticism. It tends to isolate the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives from the work of Jesus. Redemption by Christ is put in the background, while the sanctifying work of the Spirit is brought to the fore. The emphasis is more and more on the work of the Spirit in our lives, which tends to lead to an independence from Christ, the church, and the Bible. Sanctification can loom larger than justification, the subjective communion with the Spirit larger than the objective church life, and illumination by the Spirit larger than the Word. Kuyper believes that this has actually been the case to some extent in the Eastern church, as a result of the denial that the Spirit proceeds form the Son as well as from the Father.”

  16. Photios,

    Agreed also. I would like to know more about your thoughts on the order of western questions and how this order may have disrupted their method.

  17. Fr. Patrick,

    I agree on all your points. And I think that’s a good summary and mindset that one should have when doing theology. My point with first principles is merely theological method: what is the order in which question should be asked? It is my opinion that the West isn’t asking the wrong questions, a thesis entertained by some in the East, but rather errs in the order in which those questions are asked.


  18. Photios,

    From the perspective of coming to know God then I agree that we can only approach Him through Christ and there is no way of knowing God “objectively” outside Christ and so without Christ we would not be able to do theology. However, I still think that the question of the first, or you may prefer last, principle of Christianity still stands with the Trinity, especially with the Father, Who is the monarch and it is He to Whom the Son leads us; it being understood that the Father cannot be conceived without the Son and the Spirit. Perhaps it would be better to consider the Trinity and the Incarnation inseparable as in the Creed. We cannot approach the Trinity without the Incarnation and the Incarnation only makes sense in the context of the Trinity. Also, we need the Church as being the place where we are in Christ and in the Spirit, in Whom, through Christ, we become adopted sons of the Father. Theology is only possible in the Church, so this too should be the first principle in theology, which raises the question about whether anyone can do Trinitarian theology whether starting from the Incarnation or the Trinity unless they are participating in the life of the Church, in Christ and hence the life of the Trinity.

    Anyway, just my thoughts and looking forward to any critique.

  19. Fr Patrick,

    I think there’s a problem with thinking that the Trinity as the first principle of doing theology. Some of my thoughts:

    1) Christ is the Ancient of Days. The God who revealed Himself to Israel. He is the ‘I Am the one Who is’ to Moses. He is the Person Who led Israel, and He came to His own and they did not know Him.

    2) Nobody knows the Father except the Son. It is the Son who reveals to us God the Father, and it is He who sends the Holy Spirit who Proceeds from the Father.

    3) Ergo., all of our knowledge of the Trinity comes from the Incarnate Son.


  20. For me the first principle is the Trinity, then the Incarnation. The Trinity is the whole of Life and existence and Incarnation brings all creation into this Life, even though the Trinity remains forever transcendent of this Life. The Creed sets this out clearly.

    Regarding the differences between Old Rome with the western Churches and New Rome with the eastern Churches, even though differences such as in Papal authority were around before the division became “fixed” does not mean that the differences were “acceptable”. Rather the split came when the differences could no longer be tolerated after much patience hoping for all coming to one mind. Once they became issues for a split then reunion is surely only possible if agreement is reached on the matters otherwise they will arise again and generate further splits.

  21. For me, it is Christ and His Recapitulatory Economy. Everything that can be said about God and man (in a dogmatic sense), is tied up in a very short statement by Maximus the Confessor: “The Logos is many logoi, and the many logoi are the one Logos.”


  22. Socrates says:

    What is the necessary first principle of Christianity? Perhaps we could make a start from there.

  23. St. Maximus is definitely the touchstone, but that leads us to the next question. Which interpretation of Maximus are we going to put forward as the basis of “ecumenism”? Bekkos or Gregory II of Cyprus and Gregory Palamas?

  24. Roland says:

    ochlophobist wrote:
    It seems to me that the “honest attempt at understanding the theological positions of other Christians” as referred to here inevitably means scholaraly reflection which attempts to show that Rome and Orthodoxy are theologically compatible.

    If by this you mean that Peter (or anyone, for that matter) believes that all differences between Rome and Orthodoxy are trivial or nonexistent or mere semantic misunderstandings, I think you would be obviously wrong: the respective positions on the extent of Papal authority, for instance, are obviously irreconcilable. (Although this need not be a communion-breaking issue: Popes of the first millennium remained in communion with Eastern bishops who denied Papal claims of authority.)

    The first problem, then, for us ecumenists, is to define more clearly where the real differences between churches lie. (By ecumenist here, I mean not an adherent of a particular faction or ideology, but one who takes upon himself the task of movement towards reconciliation between Christian churches.) This is often a painstaking process of cutting through each side’s misunderstandings or mis-characterizations of the other side. That is exactly the sort of work that St. Maximus himself was performing in trying to explain a Western theological peculiarity to his fellow Easterners. While the result of this process might be to conclude that an apparent difference was not a substantive difference, it might also be simply to clarify the substance of the difference. Either way, the task will have been worth undertaking.

    In all times and places, there have been those who sought to minimize the differences between churches and were willing to overlook real differences in the interest of promoting reunification; and, likewise, there have been those who sought to maximize the differences in order to promote the distinctiveness or independence of their own faction. Orthodoxy in the 20th century was afflicted more with the latter problem than with the former; in the 15th century it might have been the other way around.

    It is true, as Photios says, that we all have our interpretive grids. And most of our grids are infected, to some degree, with one or the other of these biases. I think we could agree that a scholar should strive to minimize this sort of bias but will probably not succeed entirely. But a more important factor is our commitment to our interpretive grids. One’s grid, biases and all, should be used as a tool, not adored as the secret idol behind one’s overt theology.

    I write this as one who is beginning to come to terms with his own inappropriate attachment to his interpretive grid. I have an advantage in this process: I am an economist, and we economists are accustomed to changing models like we change socks. I might have a favorite pair of socks, but I would never dream of wearing them every day. (I realize that an “interpretive grid” is a couple of levels up the taxonomic scale from a mere model, but the analogy is close enough.)

    But, frankly, when I read your work I get the sense that this rereading of Bekkos is done by a man whose mind is already made up – thus what we have here is not an “open” reading. You and Daniel Jones have both closed your minds (in the Chestertonian, which is to say committed, sense – the sense we should all aim for). Bekkos seems to provide for you an avenue of expressing what you already hold to be true.

    I must say I do not get that impression from Peter. I tend to get the opposite impression – that he is striking a pose in order to test his hypotheses about Bekkos.

  25. Death Bredon says:

    Prior post meant wryly and somewhat ironically.

  26. Death Bredon says:

    Well, Christ did say he came to divide . . . .

  27. miki says:

    It would be naive not to regard certain ‘camps’ as having undermining agendas. If it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck…….., it wouldn’t be the first time different camps resorted to a ‘fifth column’.

    According to Mr. Gilbert, Christ’s ‘interpretive grid’ must have been the mother of all religious violence.

  28. Death Bredon says:

    Depending on its own terms, Empirical, Public, Divine Revelation can be quite a “rigid interpretive grid.” Of course, as it happens, one can ignore Divine Revelation and be as flexible as one wants — going along to get along so to speak. But, choices (even fell-good ones) have real consequences, some of which may be eternal in effect.

  29. ochlophobist says:

    I wrote this response to Dr. Gilbert’s recent thread “On exclusive truth-claims; or, What I Believe,” but then I realized that comments were turned off. I guess I will post it here in the hopes that Dr. Gilbert reads this thread. Please forgive me if this is a misuse of this thread (Perry and/or Photius – feel free to delete this if you deem it appropriate). Here is my comment:

    It seems to me that the “honest attempt at understanding the theological positions of other Christians” as referred to here inevitably means scholaraly reflection which attempts to show that Rome and Orthodoxy are theologically compatible. It is rather clear, is it not, that your intellectual commitments already presupose that such compatiblity exists? This line of thought is very much the spirit of our age – that those who view two apperently opposed T/traditions (themselves belonging to one of them) as actually being compatible are the ones who “honestly” are attempting to understand the positions of the other, while those who maintain the old divisions are, it is implied, dishonestly promoting misunderstanding.

    Does one need to point out that the above situation is unfair and depends upon a faulty logic? Unless we believe that all (or all important) differences between dogmatic T/traditions must and will be found to be compatible, then it is at least hypothetically possible that the person who holds the incompatiblity of two T/traditions best understands the positions of both traditions.

    Some hold that it is indeed unchristian to maintain such a view of dogmatic incompatibility, and they quote, with great sentiment, various scriptures, and writings of the fathers. But previous generations, both Catholic and Orthodox, had recourse to the scriptures and the fathers as well. Lo, and behold, now that for the past few generations compatibility/synthesis theories have been and are in vogue across the academy (how many dissertations across the humanities have to do with arguing that a given two opposed systems are actually compatible because of x,y, and z), in politics, in law, in economics, and even in popular culture, those who argue such with regard to the compatibility of Orthodoxy and Catholicism find themselves to be the honest ones taking the moral high ground. Forgive me if I do not see things so simply.

    Your desciption of why you remain Orthodox somewhat strikes me as that of the religious consumer. You like the intellectual tradition over there, and the spiritual aesthetic over here. Your notion and use of the polemically charged phrase “dogmatic frozenness” makes fairly clear where you stand with regard to your intellect vis-à-vis Orthodoxy. Yet in the end, spiritual aesthetics wins over dogmatic method, and you remain with us. Framing the situation this way also plays the tune of the standard Catholic critique of Orthodox – the one in which our faith amounts to nothing more than spiritual aestheticism.

    Please take all the above with this grain of salt – when I came to Orthodoxy from Catholicism I came as one who chose heart over head – it took me years to resolve certain intellectual issues (particularly Palamas). Any finger pointed toward another for religious consumerism could be pointed at me. Sometimes I wonder if we Americans can escape it at all or entirely. And lastly, I am not, in theory, opposed to your Bekkos project, per se. If you hold that Bekkos held views which were not condemned, as you seem to (in that the views condemned were not Bekkos’ actual views), and you are seeking to articulate the usefulness of Bekkos’ actual views, then theoretically you are not necessarily even in dissent from the dogmatic affirmations of those who condemned Bekkos. And perhaps there is something useful to be gained from a rereading of Bekkos, just as very few would deny the usefulness of reading Origen today, and many hold that the views condemned in his name were not necessarily his views (at least not on all counts), and that certain of the framings of this thoughts had huge influence on Orthodoxy (recapitulation, etc.). But, frankly, when I read your work I get the sense that this rereading of Bekkos is done by a man whose mind is already made up – thus what we have here is not an “open” reading. You and Daniel Jones have both closed your minds (in the Chestertonian, which is to say committed, sense – the sense we should all aim for). Bekkos seems to provide for you an avenue of expressing what you already hold to be true. You have your core texts and intellectual commitments, and Daniel has his. You have accepted the view of compatiblity. Daniel rejects it. I think that I understand both of your positions. I think that you now pretty much mutually understand each others’ positions. And if anything seems clear, it is that these two positions are incompatible.

    I close with two questions. First, if Rome and Orthodoxy were to unite today under the usual Ratzingeresque terms mentioned (that we Orthodox continue exactly as we are now but simply acknolwedge that Rome’s developments of theology and praxis are not heretical, and we accept intercommunion between RCs and EOCs), would you see this as a good thing? Would you rejoice in such an event? In other words, do you believe that the faith and practice of the RCC today is essentially Orthodox?

    Second, I have read that Metropolitan Nicolae of Banat, in addition to partaking of the Eucharist at a Catholic Church, some years ago invited Franklin Graham to come give a crusade in his diocese, which Graham did. He had at least one private meeting with Graham while Graham was there for the crusade (perhaps the Metropolitan was born again, but I digress). Would you see this act of formal invitation as another instance of the Metropolitan’s work to counter that “status quo” of Christian division which is, as you write “first and foremost, an offense against God, and, secondly, disastrous to his own community?” In other words, what standards do you use to discern those divisions between communities calling themselves Christian which should, indeed, be maintained?

  30. I’ll say this, I did not approach him correctly or go about this the way I should have.

  31. Joseph Patterson says:

    I find Dr. Gilbert’s example unhelpful concerning his criticism of Photios as an inspirer of violence. It is just as likely that Dr. Gilbert’s writings stir his fellow ecumenicist to violence toward Traditionalist as it is for a Traditionalist to stir up violence toward the ecumenicist. How seriously can we take an “Orthodox scholar” who puts down Saints and defends heretics?

    PS- I am not necessarily putting Photios in the Traditionalist category. I am just using these general categories to make a point.

  32. Let’s have a discussion about first principles here then. Let’s discuss that “interpretive grid.” Can someone identify what that might be?

  33. Roland says:

    There is a saying: “In the Balkans, one never knows what the past will bring.” In the Balkans, they have long and selective historical memories, which they can mine for a historical precedent or grievance to rationalize just about anything they want to do. But history is never their true motivation – it is just propaganda for selling the politically expedient agenda to the masses and eliciting sympathy from ignorant foreigners.

    In Orthodoxy, we have often had vociferous, opinionated factions that used theology in the same way that Balkan leaders use history. They stir up the passions of the ignorant over esoteric questions that are rightly the concern of theologians. The Fathers that Peter names – Athanasius, the Cappadocians, Maximus – were acutely aware of this problem, and they did their best to maintain unity among Christians by keeping semantic differences and minor theological variations from being exploited by those with an interest in disputation or division. Even small theological differences have been exploited by political authorities in pursuit of their own agendas, much to the detriment of the Church.

    I think Peter sees this sort of Balkanistic factionalism underlying your argument. I am not convinced that he is correct. But I think that perhaps your “interpretive grid” is more rigid than it needs to be.

  34. trvalentine says:

    the “Clarification,” it seems, can no longer be found on the internet

    I guess Dr. Gilbert has problems using a search engine? My page at
    came up as the second hit just now. My page not only has the text of the ‘Clarification’, it has a link to a .gif image of the newspaper pages where the ‘Clarification’ was initially published.


  35. miki says:

    ‘……gave fuel to the Bosnian war’, what the…..!!!!!? Islamic political and economic discrimination, genocide, forced conversions, ethnic cleansing etc. (mind you only 50 years prior to the war not 500 years ago) might have had something to do with the war.

    I wonder if someone making such a seriously weighted statement (and boy do I mean heavy) that is soooo superficial and beyond uninformed (I guess if an Albanian told him so, it must be true) can be taken seriously at all………

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