Life in a Windowless Monad


(Your Musical Accompaniment)

“These questions, however, have to be answered, from the point of view of systematic theology at least, by placing them within a much more radical framework, namely that of the fundamental question: Is the structure of the Christian Church in light of the gospel, monarchial or collegial? This question is undoubtably radical because it is asked, on the one hand, with the whole Christian people in mind and, on the other, from the point of view of what the Lord himself taught, that is, in the light of the gospel of Christ as a whole.

We may go further and say that, if the structure of the Church is conditioned by and subject to the norm of the gospel of Christ, we must base our argument less on the isolated descriptions or ideas of the Church which occur almost accidentally in the New Testament…and more on the general spirit of the words of the Lord as the origin of those images of the Church. That essentially new elemnt in the teaching of the Lord which distinguishes it from teaching contained in all the religions and ideaologies that have so far arisen in the history of man is the doctrine of the Trinity. This is the differentia specifica of Christianity.

In light of this faith in the Trinity, the Christian teaching about God’s being, the creation of the world and the cosmic mestaphysical order of the universe has always been different from that of other religions or ideaologies. It has, in a word, been trinitarian.  The idea of the Trinity is central, not only in the doctrine of the Christian Church, but also-and in the first place-in the teaching of the Lord himself. If this is so, then surely it is bound to inspire the whole task of the Christian Church to give a new structure to the created world. This brings us to the question of the relationship between the doctrine of the Trinity and Christology.

At the most holy moment of his life on earth and just before he left this world, Christ prayed to his Father and at the same time expressed his most fervent desire: ‘I do not pray for these only, but also for those who believe in me through their word, that they may be one; even as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee.’ (John 17.20f.)

It is perhaps symptomatic that, in an attempt to stress the holiness of the ecumenical intention, these words are quoted nowaday at almost every meeting between Christians of different denominations. yet we usually think very little about these important words afterwards. The phrase ‘that they may be one’ expresses the practical and immediate aims of ecumenism better than the idea which follows, namely ‘as thou Father, art in me…’. But these words become even more meaningful perhaps if we remember that this exemplary mode of unity within the Trinity is the basic presupposition for the unity of the Church which we hope will be achieved. the importance of the whole passage is even further emphasized by the fact that Christ did not have a definite gorup of people, such as the apostles in mind when he spoke these words, but rather all those who believed in him and would believe in him throughout history.  It is this universal validity of the moral principle that is expressed here which gives it its distinctive and normative character.  This is why it must constitute the basic and first ecclesiolgy premise for all theological thinking at all times.

It is clear therefore that there must be a direct relationship between the doctrine of the Trinity and ecclesiology, a relationship expressed in fact in the striking parallel that exists between the fundamental theological questions of the Church’s Trinitarian and ecclesiological teaching. If the inner interrelationships that exist in the historical development of dogma in the Church have existed since the earliest times are borne in mind, it is not difficult to recognize that the main problem confronting all theological thinking throughout the history of the Church has always been the same-the fundamental question of the relationship between unity and multiplicity.

The question as to how God could be thought of as three persons while at the same time still remaining one God was superseded by the question as to how the Church, which was founded by Christ as one Church, could at the same time exist as many different individual churches or, alternatively, how the many different individual members of the Church could at the same time constitute only one body, the body of the Lord.

It is true that this is only an analogy. It is, however, a very profound analogy and it is all the more important and indeed legitimate to make it because it is required by the Lord himself. What should above all not be forgotten in this context, however, is the authentic Christian teaching that man’s ultimate goal is nothing less than the well known theosis of the Greek Fathers of the Church.

Just as the idea of homoousia in the trinitarian dilemma does not violate the independence of the individual persons of the Trinity, so too does the idea of the unity of the Church in the ecclesiological problem not violate the independence of the individual churches or of the individual persons belonging to those churches. What is more, just as the idea of a subordinatio was not accepted in the life of the Trinity, so too has this idea to be excluded from the life of the Church.

The question as to whether the primacy of Rome, as defined by the First and unfortunately also by the Second Vatican Council, really has any place at all in this idea of the Church has therefore to be answered with an emphatic ‘no’.  This does not however, imply a complete denial of any primacy within the Orthodox Church. By this, I mean that acceptance of the principle of synodal collegiality leads to the acknowledgement of one biship as the first among the bishops, in other words, it leads to according primacy to him, not, it has to be admitted, in the sense of a pontifix maximus, but rather in the sense of a primus inter pares.

This idea of a primacy has been formulated in a very remarkable way in the 34th of the so-called Apostolic Canons, which takes the whole context of ‘power structures’ in the Church into consideration: ‘The bishops of every people are to acknowledge the first among them and regard him as their head.’ This canon goes on to say that the first among the bishops cannot do anything without the opinion of all the others, and the others cannot do anything without the opinion of the first. The theological justification for this is that ‘it is only in this way that harmony can be achieved, so that God is glorified through the Lord in the Holy Spirit, God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.’  Two fundamental ecclesiological principles, then, are stressed in this canon, the first being autocephaly and the second collegiality. Each is correlative with the other.

So long as he regarded his primacy as the primacy of a “first among equals’, it was possible for him to express an opinion of decisive importance in matters of concern to the whole Church and to be respected by everyone. In this way, he was really able to perform an essential service in the Church as a whole. As soon as he began, however to regard his episcopal power as basically different from the power of all the other bishops, it was no longer possible for him to remain in communion with the Orthodox Church.

All the bishops participate in the apostolic succession and all the local churches are for this reason in communon with each other. By regarding the Petrine succession and not the apostolic succession of all the bishops as the origin and basis of this power, the pope isolated himself not only from the community of bishop, but also from the whole Church. Seen in this light, it was quite logically consistent for the First Vatican Council to define the decisions made by the pope ex cathedra as irreversable ex sese, non autem ex consensu Ecclesiae.

The Church is, however, a community and if any person, no matter who he is, isolates himself from the other members of that community if only for a moment, then he is automatically placed in the situation of original sin and can only be compared with a ‘monad without windows.’

It is not primarily for canonical reasons, but rather for deepnly soteriological reasons that the synodal structure of the Church is so highly valued in Orthodox circles.  None the less, both reasons are inwardly very closely connected in Orthodox thought and both lead to a radical rejeciton of the primacy of Rome in matters of jurisdiction and in the quesiton of infallibility.”

AchBp. Stylianos Harkianakis of Australia, “Can a Petrine Office Be Meaningful in the Church?: A Greek Orthodox Reply” in Papal Ministry in the Church, ed. Hans Kung, Herder and Herder, 1971, pp. 115-121.


  1. Is this post, perhaps, a reply to anyone in the comments section of your previous post “an equality of honor”?



  2. My only complaint is that I tried to listen to the excellent cover by Aimee Mann twice but either the song was incomplete or it just cut short. At any rate, it is difficult for me to listen to music while I read because as a musician my attention is drawn more to the musical arrangement than to the text. 🙂


  3. Excuse me,
    “The Church is, however, a community”

    In this context, is the writer actually saying, “The Church is, however, a community *of communities*”? Is the original or my surmise the Orthodox belief? (You’ll note that the author’s previous reference to community was, “from the community of bishop[s]” so I may be creating confusion ex nihilo.)

    Going back to the original question,
    “Is the structure of the Christian Church in light of the gospel, monarchial or collegial?”
    Isn’t this question overly restrictive? If the Church is a body, then isn’t the relationship more like between my right big toe and left ear? Or is it my definition of collegial that is overly restrictive?

    Because this proceeds from a trinitarian viewpoint, one may also ask how a man and wife can be one. (remember Adam/Eve is the original image of God, and our modern view that husband and wife are *only* two is myopic). Note in this case there is a relationship dance of two lovers submitting to each other. This, to me, is also a picture of the relationship in the Trinity, and thus how the churches and individual Christians on earth should act. The inter-relationships of organs in the body are a cruder picture of this.

    Thanks for the thought starter.


  4. Actually, it seems to me odd that this defence of collegiality appears to depend on an Augustinian Trinitarian model. It is precisely this model which Orthodox scholars have critiqued as not having sufficient realization that the unity of the Trinity is based in the Monarchy of the Father: the Son and Spirit share the will, nature, energies, etc of the Father. It is precisely this model that Orthodox polemicists say is destroyed by the filioque which reduces persons to relationships of the essense to itself.

    In short, it has always struck me as odd that (at least before VatI) Romans kept the ecclesiology of the Cappadocians and the triadology of Augustine while Orthodox kept the triadology of the Capadocians and the ecclesiology of Augustine. I know this may seem like an overstatement (and it is), but I’m not sure why we Orthodox uphold a Trinitarian theology which finds the unity of the Trinity in the Father and yet reject an ecclesiology which finds the unity of the Church in its Father.

    Am I the only person that finishes this excerpt thinking the next paragraph should start “And thus is it proper for the Spirit to proceed from the Son…”?


  5. I want to clarify that my above comment has no bearing on what are the proper prerogatives of the Father and how these prerogatives are to be held in concert with those within the communion. I’m just trying to point out that our Trinitarian theology seems to demand that our ecclesiology have a stronger head than what is often offered in a minimal rendition of primus inter pares.


  6. @Mr. McCallum,

    If you are saying that the relationship of the body, the Church, to its head, Christ, is something stronger than analogous to the relationship of the Son to the Father, that I can see. But doesn’t that still preclude the “ecclesiology having a stronger head”?

    In other words, doesn’t the “synodal structure of the Church is so highly valued in Orthodox circles” have its basis in Christ being there with them as the actual head? (If merely traditional, it still seems based on an ancient reality.)

    Just wondering.


  7. Nathanial,

    Is the pope the vicar of the Father?

    In polity what offices represents the Father, Son and Spirit?

    I am not clear on why you take the quote to be advancing an Augustinian ecclesiology.


  8. Perry,
    Every society has a visible head, not to act against it but as its representative for its continued unity and wellbeing. Even democracies have single visible heads–mayors for cities, presidents for nations, CEO’s for companies.
    The CCC states in 895 that the pope’s authority over the whole church does not annul but confirms and defends the authority of the bishops.
    883 states that the college has no authority unless in communion with him but that the college itself has supreme and full authority over the universal church.

    881 says that Christ made Simon alone the rock of His church and shepherd of all the others and that the office of binding and loosing which was given to Peter was also assigned to the apostles.

    894-895 says bishops personally govern the churches assigned to them with authority and sacred power from Christ.

    How does this violate a Trinitarian ecclesiology? Father as head bringing unity and love that sustains and nourishes the funtion of all members? Monarchy and collegiality do not of necessity seem to me to be in conflict.


  9. The article says that churches are in communion with each other because of apostolic succession, yet history and scripture seem to refute this. Peter was given a standing and responsibility of care among the apostles themselves though succession came not only from Peter but from each of them.
    Again, the CCC in 834 quotes Maximus the Confessor and shows that it is communion with Rome that brings catholicity of particular churches.

    “834 Particular Churches are fully catholic through their communion with one of them, the Church of Rome “which presides in charity.”
    “For with this church, by reason of its pre-eminence, the whole Church, that is the faithful everywhere, must necessarily be in accord.” Indeed, “from the incarnate Word’s descent to us, all Christian churches everywhere have held and hold the great Church that is here [at Rome] to be their only basis and foundation since, according to the Savior’s promise, the gates of hell have never prevailed against her.”


  10. I’m going to oversimplify (perhaps to the point of error) to try to get my point across. Once I’ve accomplished this, I’d prefer to talk about the subtleties rather than my oversimplification. So, please don’t attack my “narrative” as unbased which I fully admit that it is.

    Augustine argues for the divinity of the Son and the Father qua their participation in the divine essence. The Cappadocians argue for the divinity of the Son qua His participation in the Father. Orthodox critiques of the filioque have taken the Cappadocian approach to be normative (as I think it should be) and have questioned what develops into a later scholastic approach which views the divine Persons as relations of the essence to itself. It is on these grounds, that both the Father and Son are divine given their participation in the divine essence, that gave rise to the defence of Orthodoxy at Toledo by claiming that the Spirit proceeds from the Son as well as the Father since He is God (qua participation in the essence).

    A much more subtle view of this argument is prominent in Behr’s “Way to Nicea” where he basically proposes that the Augustinian/Cappadocian models represent the development of the two sides of the Hippolytan schism in Rome.

    My point here is thus, Rome argues that the ontological source of unity is the bishop of Rome: “And in order that the episcopate itself might be one and undivided, He placed Blessed Peter over the other apostles, and instituted in him a permanent and visible *source and foundation* of unity of faith and communion.” (Lumen Gentium) +Stylianos makes an argument about ontological source as well: “By regarding the Petrine succession and not the apostolic succession of all the bishops as the origin and basis of this power…” Thus, if I may be permitted to set up an analogy: while Rome argues that the unity of the Church is manifested qua participation in the Father (ie Pope), +Stylianos argues that the unity of the Church is manifested qua each bishop’s participation of the essence of apostolic succession.

    I’m making a *VERY* narrow point here, namely that when considering the metaphysical source of unity in the Church, Rome seems to have adopted a Cappadocian model while +Stylianos seems to have adopted an Augustinian model. This argument requires much more development if it is to handle the wider case of the Papal titles and prerogatives particularly as it relates to a local bishop’s authority. As such, please do not take my argument to mean that Orthodoxy should immediately capitulate to Rome’s view of authority.

    No, I do not mean subordination (see my reference to Behr above for a more detailed explanation). This is perhaps the great difficulty with the Roman view of primacy. It views, at least in some documents, the nature of the papacy to be different than that of the diocesan bishop. This is Heteroousianism or, at best, Homoiousianism (if the Trinitarian analogy holds). The end result of which is that your average diocesan bishop in Catholicism is a middle manager. Or worse, Catholicism has, at least in some circles, contracted a severe case of Hegelianism where the Church is best imaged as a group of antithetical horses reigned in by the synthetic chariot driver of the magisterium; each bishop thinking it is his responsibility to advocate for his personal ideology and let Rome synthesize it all. Some of our bishops seem to have caught this fever as well. God help us all.

    I think you are both pointing to the same thing: the Trinitarian model is not the proper primary analogy for Church polity: the Church as bride of Christ constituted in the marriage supper of the Eucharist is the proper analogy. This is why I began with a huge disclaimer. I do not believe that our Trinitarian theology is the differentia specifica of Christianity. Our Trinitarian theology is a reflection of our Eucharistic act.


  11. Perry,
    Just to clarify, you know I am not Catholic and am not acting as an apologist for them. But I am continuing to compare her claims with Orthodoxy. I quote the CCC not to defend her per se, but to have you directly respond to things that I don’t come up with on my own and have not yet fully embraced.


  12. Canadian,

    It may be true that so far every society has a visible head, but that may be a contingent fact. If we’re going to reason via sensible nature and experience to theology, its going to be hard to make prescriptive claims.

    Is the Trinity a society? Who is its “visible” head I wonder?

    Well being or being? Is the papacy for the bene esse or the esse of the church? Did the church lack a principle of unity in the 40 years of the Great Western Schism when there was no valid pope at all? Who adjudicated that decision and how would we know the council was ecumenical without a pope to tell us? We can’t say it didn’t happen, because it did.
    Representative can be said “in many ways” so to get from that to the papacy we’d need to fill in quite a bit more so that even if I admit a representative, it is insufficient to establish Catholic claims regarding the papacy.

    I grant that the CCC states as you claim. The WCF confession states that God’s predestination doesn’t do away with secondary causes, freedom or moral responsibility, but it does. Subordinatio doesn’t help much either. It is important not just to read the CCC but to read the historical documents since the schism to see how the popes has spoken and acted. The CCC is itself not beyond revision.

    The college doesn’t have supreme and full authority relative to the papacy operating ex sese, non autem ex consensus Ecclesiae. Second, Popes can topple ecumenical councils or elevate non ecumenical councils to ecumenical councils on his own authority. How does that fit in with your claim that the CCC says that the college has supreme and fully authority over the church? Please explain.

    As for 881, needless to say, lots of Fathers didn’t take that interpretation or took it as an optional one. No pre-schism synod advanced and defined the papacy, but rather all other major doctrines were discussed and defended. Was there simply a lack of challenge to the papal teaching? Could it be found in the apostolic deposit in all the apostolic sees or just in Rome?

    I’ll ask you the same questions I asked Nathaniel. What offices represent Father, Son and Spirit? Is the pope the vicar of the Father?

    Monarchy and collegiality per se are not in conflict, nor does the quote assert as much. In fact, just the opposite. The idea that in order to have unity, the principle of unity must be simple and limited to one person and in no other way can one have a principle of unity does seem to pit the One over against the Many. Does the pope need the bishops to be pope?
    I suppose I’ll have to ask for where you think in history, in say your best case, refutes the claim that the churches are in communion because of apostolic succession.

    I can grant that Peter was given a standing and a responsibility but the papal doctrine says more than this. And I can agree that the apostolic succession came through all of them, but the idea of a petrine chrism isn’t that of an apostolic succession. Popes are not ordained by the laying on of hands are they? There is a fundamental difference between apostolic succession and the petrine ministry on Rome’s account. Besides, Rome claims that Peter alone received the keys principally and not the other apostles qua apostle.

    As for Maximus, a few things to keep in mind. Some pro-Roman citations of him are either known to be forgeries (though they still make it on to Catholic spoof text lists) and others are disputed. The ones that aren’t in dispute I don’t think really are sufficient to prove the Roman claims. As I’ve noted before, Maximus refused to commune with the papal legates because he took even the see of Rome to be monothelite at the end of his life. Either he became inconsistent and should have yielded (in which case, monothelitism wouldn’t be heresy would it?) or the authentic citations simply don’t mean what Catholic advocates read them to mean.

    For an overview of the material, I’d suggest start by reading Larchet’s article here->

    I am not throwing dirt here to draw attention away from what is relevant. What I ask is directly relevant to the claims.


  13. Canadian,

    I understand you do not “fully” embrace the ideas. You are going through the standard way of making a decision. You are taking a view out for a test drive and seeing if anyone can jar it loose. I get it. I’ve done the same thing. I wouldn’t be offended if you had fully embraced it.


  14. “ex sese, non autem ex consensus Ecclesiae.” – Here is a great example. IF (and I do mean IF) the Trinitarian model holds and the primacy represents the Father in the Cappadocian model, the authority of the Pope *IS* ex sese in the same manner as the Father is agennetos, that is He is of Himself.

    Your questions (“What offices represent Father, Son and Spirit? Is the pope the vicar of the Father?”) are good ones and I think demonstrative of the fact that the Trinity is not the proper analogy for primacy (to the great dismay of all the meta-physicists out there who want to model an authority structure from a noetic structure).


  15. Canadian,

    Something else to think about. If the purpose is to unify the episcopate, has the papacy done that? It doesn’t seem so. Even if we say the Orthodox Bishops are illicit yet valid by Roman lights, has the papacy unified them? How about the Old Catholic bishops? Copts?

    It seems rather that what happaned was that a rump college was created and then they colonized a few more continents and then ordained more bishops. Every time Rome asserted itself in terms of claiming rights and power, it created more, not less schism.


  16. Canadian, Orthodox objections to the Pope as far as I can see fall into one of the following three categories:
    1. Metaphysical claims (ie subordinatio)
    2. Prerogatives Rome has assigned to herself
    3. Titles Rome has assigned to herself

    None of these are objections against primacy, “visible head,” etc. One should be aware that the CCC is a very politically correct document which serves to educate the catechumen without scaring them off. It is not a theologically binding document in the way that Lumen Gentium is for instance. What Perry (and I) object to is largely not the stuff found in the CCC, but the stuff found in the theological documents themselves. These documents say MUCH more than the CCC does and are obligatory for every Catholic.


  17. Nathaniel,

    This is why I think you’re mistaken. The Apostolic Succession is Trinitarian, which is why I asked my question about which offices represent which persons. Bishops represent The Father, presbyters the Son and deacons the Spirit. Such a model is as old as Ignatius of Antioch if not older.

    Father, Son, Spirit
    Son, Spirit, Disciples
    Apostles, Presbyters, Deacons
    Bishops, Presbyters, Deacons

    That seems to be the theological and historical order and its triadic. If the bishop represents the Father, what other thing is there to represent for the papacy? The essence? Here the confusion brought by the Filioque comes full circle, a flattening of hypostatic activity into hypostatic generation. (hence no energetic procession) So now we need something else other than the bishop to unify the whole thing, or so it seems to me.

    So here I think you’ve misread Stylianos. It is not an essence of AS that they participate in that is analogous to the divine essence, but they represent God the Father as the arche of the other two persons/offices.

    So I don’t think Rome has adopted a Cappadocian model for ecclesiology.

    On another point, it is the shifting of the papal office out of the episcopate, reducing it to a single person since a plurality of persons would entail disunity due to composition, that opened up the space for the Protestant priesthood of all believers in the other direction. The pope is the vicar of the Son and so the Spirit proceeds from him into the Church and not from any other bishops and so in Protestantism, every Christian is a “son” and so the Spirit proceeds from each individual into the church so that each individual is the principle of unity via an extrinsic relation of agreement/will. This is why on neither model, no one’s judgment can bind the conscience of the pope qua pope or that of the individual Protestant.

    Practically speaking, your analysis of Rome via Hegelianism is astute and that seems practically what is the case. The Pope rides the chariot as it were which is why at this point, being so dependent on administrative non-sacramental unity they’d be lost without it.

    I still think the Trinity is the proper model because the Father’s talk this way and I think Scripture does too. You are right in so far as there is a Eucharistic element here, but it is still Trinitarian since the presbyter presides in the place of the bishop and the deacons are his servers.


  18. Nathaniel McCallum,

    Isn’t every Orthodox local Chruch the one, holy, Catholic and Apostolic Chruch and isn’t that Church monarchical in its structure in the way you described it with the sole local bishop as the represenative of the Father as Ignatius has put it in his epistle to the Trallians: “let all men respect the deacons as Jesus Christ, even as they should respect the bishop as being a type of the Father and the presbyters as the council of God and as the college of Apostles”?

    It seems to me, if you permit me, that your argument does not try so much to take the Trinity as a model for the Church but rather as a model for the relations between the bishops.


  19. Perry,
    If Orthodox bishops represent the Father, who is representing the Father in St. Louis? Edmonton? London? There are multiple Orthodox bishops “ruling” these same regions. This, if I am not mistaken is a Conciliar no-no. Speaking of conciliar, I have long heard my Protestant brethren give tired excuses as to when infallibility left the church (death of apostles etc) and resided in a book. Yet it seems that infallibility left Orthodoxy at the seventh Council. My focus of discernment seems to always come back to authority. Living, Spirit led, issue addressing, ongoing authority.


  20. Canadian,

    I am not sure how the two objections you posted address what I posted to you. It seems as if you’ve already made up your mind. That is fine, but then it doesn’t matter really what else I have to say.

    Now your objections are quite easy to field, if we take a bit of time to think about them.

    Now, is the requirement of one bishop in a given local of the essence of apostolic succession and conciliarism or is it accidental to it? It had better be the latter since in the early church you had a variety of bishops in a given local, and this was true at Rome just as much as every where else. The limitation to one bishop per area is a canonical matter but it isn’t of the essence of apostolic succession or conciliarism.

    Second, in the early church and the NT period, you had multiple bishops ruling in a given area. Which of them represented the Father? All of them. Only a reductonistic or anachronistic approach would find that reality problematic. That is not to diminish the importance of an uncanonical situation, but it is the exception that proves the rule. It is not like this is so in Greece for example. or that it will never be resolved. And let’s be fair, Rome has taken centuries to solve other irregularities in its ranks.

    By the same token, where in the tradition of the Fathers are women permitted to regularly distribute the eucharist or serve at the altar? Where are LEMs in the tradition? Where is the Rock here? This is one of many wide spread abuses in Rome that Rome really doesn’t lift a finger in the slightest to deal with. It is one that is relative to the performance of the liturgy and the sacraments as well. There are a dozen other widespread (and I mean across continents) abuses like this that Rome really does nothing at all to correct. The laity just have to suck it up or complain to their local bishop and hope he is faithful. But it isn’t as if Rome has got a red phone at every local parish for you to call and get a judgment concerning some abuse.

    Now I just got back from a vigil tonight at a ROCOR parish. (3 hours!) I’ve been to a fair amount of different Orthodox justidictional parishes across a number of states and I always know what I am going to get. Even if the preaching is poor or whatever, I can always send someone to any given parish and I know what they are going to get liturgically and sacramentally-the tradition of the Fathers. I’d be crazy if I just sent people to any Catholic parish because I’d never know what I would get. I’ve been in enough Catholic churches to know that this is so and I know enough Catholic clergy and laity that are faithful Catholics to know this as well. So when you speak of “issue addressing” on going authority, I really have to ask WHERE that is because I and plenty of other people aren’t seeing it. What a timid authority it must be.

    Now, as to Protestantism. Please, let us refraim from trying to tar Orthodoxy with Protestantism. Protestanism is a Catholic creation by any reasonable measure. It is derived from Catholic theology, was shaped by Catholic institutions and ways of thinking and born from features or schools of Catholic spirituality. Its entire framework was born out of Catholicism. This is, if you doubt what I say, the apologetic line of Louis Bouyer in his, The Spirit and Forms of Protestantism. Protestantism really has no analog in Orthodox countries. So please, Vat 2 liturgy, theology and biblical scholarship has far more to do with Rudolf Bultman, Karl Barth, and Paul Tillich than anything in Orthodoxy. You can have the happy clappy praise song masses and I’ll stick with Sts. John Chrysostom and Basil.

    As for losing infallibility, the Orthodox never claim to have lost it. Even the most basic intro books like Ware’s assert the contrary of your claim. He even lists a number of other continuing authoritative sources. But you seem to ignore those facts or are unaware of them.

    Nor do the Orthodox think that 2nd Nicea was the last authoritative council held by the Church. And it wasn’t the Easterners who were playing footsie with the iconoclasts (the Franks) in exchange for political power and military might, holding off on recognizing 2nd Nicea. It was Rome, much to the chastisement of St. Theodore. So I’d suggest you go and take a look at the recored where Rome lagged behind. And besides, Rome didn’t call 2nd Nicea, the Patriarch did, who asked the emperor to invite the Pope, among othr “heads” of the church. Hence not all councils were called, contrary to Roman claims, by the pope.That by itself is sufficient to falsify papal claims.

    And further, councils were for addressing specific heresies that went beyond the bounds of a given patriarchial jurisdiction. Arius was condemned by Alexander, but when the heresy spread to other jurisdictions, it required a synod (not a papal decree) to address it. It is the Nicene Creed, not the Roman or Papal Creed mind you. Is there some new and pressing heresy or issue we need to have a council over right this very minute? And added to this is, Rome seems to eat out of habit rather than hunger with respect to councils. I mean seriously, hows the implementation of V2 going almost HALF A CENTURY LATER? I mean this nonsense has gone on longer than the Great Western Schism! And I am not even talking about the seminaries. I know enough people in various seminaries to know how absolutely infested they are in the religious orders with Sodomites such that a student can’t even go to class without getting groped under the table. Where is this ongoing authority there i wonder? So Rome can’t seem to stop having councils, even when the effect of doing so is disastrous. THAT is Spirit led? Really? I think you need to go spend some time with the rank and file local parish. I grant that there are pockets of resistence, but liturgically and sacrmentally, even the most lax Orthodox parishes in the GOA are nothing in compared with this stuff. I mean you’ve got people making their own bread for the hosts any way they like dirctly and knowingly contrary to the Roman canons, not to mention lots of other abuses. So again, WHERE is this Rock? It looks alot like jello at this point. I remember looking at the Jesuit scholastics at SLU like they were from Mars when they complained that during Lent they had to eat fish on fridays because they didn’t have to fast the rest of the year. The “ongoing” authority of which you speak produces lots of papers like a lawyer’s office but practically does very little about the problems. By contrast Orthodoxy’s conservatism has done a far better job of preserving the faith, even with being practically liquidated in a good number of Soviet countries. I mean, do you know how long it would take the little old laddies from the Philoptochos society to tear limb from limb a priest who tried to do a Barney Liturgy? You’d need a stop watch because in less than 20 seconds such a priest would be dismembered. Pick a jurisdiction, anyone, randomly, I don’t care. The reaction would be the same, convert or cradle, with the cradles probably being more violent to be honest. So please, spare me the line that Orthodoxy lost infallibility or is anything like Protestantism.

    This rant is now over. Plese return to your regular attempts at constructing arguments with truth preserving inferences.


  21. Sacramental dismemberment! Liturgics by Barney!

    This is why I love to pull up a chair beside you at your establishment. At your place we don’t need TV, sports or entertainment. All a guy has to do is be a little inept, come across as cheeky, or misconstrue the historical evidence and tables are flipping and there’s a smell of….gunsmoke 🙂

    Seriously though, my comment might look like it was supposed to contain sarcasm–it wasn’t.
    If I had made up my mind I wouldn’t come here just to rustle up trouble. I come here because I know there will be gunsmoke for lazy, arrogant, careless Orthodox just as there would be for Catholics or Protestants of the same stripe. And for those who are dead serious in any of those groups, there will be thoughtful, challenging, feisty conversation…and maybe the odd stray bullet 😉

    One more thing. I have experienced Orthodoxy on the ground, in person, at length and it scares me just as much as Catholicism for some of the very reasons you allude to–inaction regarding church teaching, stone cold religiosity, sin without batting an eye, total ignorance of scripture. The Catholics I know are not up for canonization any time soon, either. I can’t let sin in either body deter me from making a reasonable decision, because I am dying in my Baptist church right now.
    Blessings and peace in Christ.


  22. Thank you, Canadian, for being the point man here.

    I know nothing about the Orthodox, but you and Perry have brought out a lot. I do know the Shepherd and He has led me into several institutions to show me His Church within–those who love each other as Christ does. In other words, if you look at the Orthodox as an institution, you’ll miss the Church.

    My main blessing from this blog is that I have heard that the Orthodox are not really Trinitarian and thus not Christian. I’m glad to see that if I ever move to a place near an Orthodox church, I wouldn’t be wasting my time looking into it (though what they’ll think of me is something else entirely).


  23. “My focus of discernment seems to always come back to authority. Living, Spirit led, issue addressing, ongoing authority.”


    When I began inquiring into Catholicism and then Orthodoxy, authority was my big issue too. After being burned by a Bible Church not even asking if my husband at the time believed in the Trinity, which he didn’t, before accepting us into their fold, which had no creed or membership process. When he left, they did try to convince him to stay with Bible verses though, so that was something.

    After that I wanted an authoritative structure to hold people accountable for belief and right behavior. Mostly that of others, not me. When investigating claims, I became convinced that the Orthodox Church held the right beliefs, as the Catholics seemed to go off the deep end – they over-defined. But when it came to individual right-living, I’ve had to quit placing so much importance on what seems to be going on with other people, and deal with my own sin. That was a big surprise to me my first Lent. Who has the prescription for fixing me? No one comes close to the Orthodox Church. Not that everyone takes the medicine, sadly they don’t. But I can’t judge them. I believe Orthodox prayer and fasting rules are forcing me to deal with me, and maybe others don’t need it as badly as I do.


  24. A very illuminating post. Very relevant to my current reading of Zizioulas’s “Eucharist, Bishop, Church: The Unity of the Church in the Divine Eucharist and the Bishop During the First Three Centuries” Thanks for posting!


  25. My you all were busy over the rest of the weekend. 😉

    ioannis is exactly correct, I am attempting to explicate the relation between/among the bishops, not give a general structure of Church polity. I of course think that the Trinity is an appropriate model for Bishop/Priest/Deacon (more on that in a bit), BUT that is not what is at stake here. Both Lumen Gentium and +Stylianos are reflecting explicitly on the relationships between bishops. +Stylianos is intentionally doing so using a Trinitarian model. My question is, if we assume Lumen Gentium to also be using a trinitarian model (Perry is famous for asserting that there is not Christologically neutral hermeneutic, I’m doing something similar here) and if we compare the models used by +Stylianos and Lumen Gentium how do they compare to the two historic Trinitarian models within Chalcedonian Christianity (Augustianian and Cappadocian)?

    First, while Perry’s appropriate observation of the application of the Trinitarian model on the three major orders of the Church may be correct, it is entirely orthogonal to the argument being put forward in LG and +S who are discussing another matter entirely (the relationship between bishops). I should back up at this point and state that perhaps +S is intending to discuss the three major orders. However, from what limited exposure I have had to his writing (ie this blog post), it seems to me that he is expressly talking about the role of primacy between the bishops (as is perhaps evidenced in one example by his dialectic between pontifex maximus and primus inter pares [a faux-dichotemy if I have ever seen one]).

    Perry, you suggest that I misread +S at this point: “So here I think you’ve misread Stylianos. It is not an essence of AS that they participate in that is analogous to the divine essence, but they represent God the Father as the arche of the other two persons/offices.” Respectfully, I think it is you who have eisegeted +S (assuming again there is nothing pertinent in +S outside what is posted on this blog). No where does +S compare bishops to the Father. Further, he rejects subordinatio by professing homoousias. Why would he do this if he is emphasizing that all bishops image the Father? The reference to homoousias is only relevant if the different levels of primacy within the episcopate are represented by different persons of the Holy Trinity (namely that the primate is the Father and the synod is the Son/HS). In short, if +S’s argument is that all bishops are the Father, *his entire argument on homoousias is baseless*.

    To summarize +S: the primate represents the Father who is homoousias with the synod and each member of the synod is homoousias due to their participation in the essence of the episopate, namely apostolic succession. This is the Augustinian Trinitarian model, right down to the fact that the synod (Son) can, with the blessing of the primate (Father), generate a new bishop (Spirit).

    Please note that I am not suggesting that all critiques of Papal claims requires subscription to the Augustinian Triadology, only that +S’s does.

    Second, while I agree entirely that the true metaphysical motivation behind modern Papal claims is absolute divine simplicity, this too is orthogonal to the discussion. The historical cause of a particular theology is entirely separate from the evaluation of such a theology’s expression compared with historic norms. They are simply unrelated.

    Third, while I agree, again in entirety, that the Trinitarian model may be applied without error to the major orders of the Church and that many fathers have done so, I do not believe that this is the primary analogy (I used the word “proper” in my previous posts in this sense, I am attempting to clarify my previous use now). You suggest that this model appears “in Ignatius if not earlier.” This is quite the overstatement. While Ignatius does make analogies to the persons of the Trinity, they are quite varied:
    1. Bishops refresh each other as the Father Refreshes the Son – Ephesians 2
    2. Christ is to the Father as the Bishop is to Christ – Ephesians 3
    3. Church is joined to the Bishop as Christ to the Father – Ephesians 5
    4. We obey the bishop as we would Christ – Ephesians 6
    5. Each person who refuses bad doctrine: – Ephesians 9
    a. is a stone in the temple of the Father
    b. has taken up the cross of the Son
    c. has used the Holy Spirit as a rope
    6. Bishop = Father, Priest = Apostle, Deacon has ministry of Son – Magnesians 6
    7. Obey Bishop as Son obeyed Father and Apostles obeyed Christ (and Father and Spirit [13])- Magnesians 7 and 13
    8. Obey Bishop as Christ, Deacon as the law, Priest as Apostle – Trallians

    While there are others, I will stop here since I’ve collected the most significant examples. While Ignatius certainly does reference the Trinity as analogy for Church hierarchy, his usage is extremely varied and almost always tied together with obedience. His purpose is not a philosophical reflection on the confluence of ecclesial and noetic hierarchy. He has one concern: “Do ye therefore all run together as into one temple of God, as to one altar, as to one Jesus Christ, who came forth from one Father, and is with and has gone to one.” (Magnesians 7) This is why, from the beginning of our conversation I have emphasized the Eucharistic aspect of primacy (and why I think Servus Servorum Dei is a *fantastic* title for the primus inter pares/pontifex maximus).

    I think that the first quote from Ignatius above is however the most fitting for disproving your point: two bishops, one described as Father the other as Son. Thus, one cannot make an argument that, from the beginning of Christianity the bishop was viewed as wholly analogous with Father and that therefore conciliarity must be understood in this egalitarian context.

    Further, I think the case should be made (but I have no intention to make it in such a short combox) that the wholesale mirroring of Church hierarchy against a noetic structure is really not something we see until the philosophical reflection in Dionysius’ Divine Names. It is, in other words, a post-Nicene phenomenon owing to metaphysical reflection on the noetic challenges brought forward by the Arian controversy.

    In short, reading Ignatius to suggest that there is a proper metaphor for hierarchy based upon Trinitarian metaphysical speculation is severely anachronistic.

    Fourth and lastly, thanks for your claim of astuteness on my part in my Hegelian metaphor. I must however demur, since the metaphor is not mine, but GK Chesterton’s. He describes the Catholic church using precisely this metaphor in “Orthodoxy” and views it as a positive. I however view it as a negative since it betrays a view of Christianity where it is the Pope’s/Magisterium’s job to keep the faith and everyone else’s job to advance their agenda (Chesterton would of course deny this). It is *everyone’s* responsibility, including the lowly monk Maximus. Hierarchy provides no guarantee of Orthodoxy.


  26. @David Smith,

    “Orthodox are not really Trinitarian and thus not Christian.” Really? Have you read anything on this blog? Are you aware that the doctrine of the Trinity was dogmatized at our Councils, with our Bishops, in our Patriarchates using the theological works of our Saints and that in every service we hold and every prayer we pray we invoke the Holy Trinity? Am I somehow misunderstanding you?


  27. Lucian, interesting tie between unconditional authority and unconditional election. I personally have always thought that the proper reading of the “rock” passage is that it is prophesy of his proclamation of the kerygma in Acts 2, upon which the Church is built.

    The most frightening thing to me about Papal infallibility is that if the Pope is infallible ex sese when ex cathedra, there is no other metaphysical way to understand such a statement other than to say that the papal see is uncreated. Such is blasphemy. And the more that one holds to the absolute divine simplicity of God, the more blasphemous it becomes.


  28. Sorry, my logic wasn’t clear in my above post. If one holds to divine simplicity, than God’s infallibility is the same as his existence. If the papal see’s infallibility is created, than it cannot be ex sese. If it is uncreated, it is God. I know there are ways to attempt to disprove this syllogism, but in light of Athanasius, I don’t think any of them are truly convincing.


  29. Nathaniel,

    Golitzin is a worthwhile read, he convincingly demonstrates the hierarchy/noetic mirroring is neither a late nor a platonic development.


  30. @Mr. McCallum,

    I hope you don’t have any problem scraping your eyebrows from the ceiling.

    In my comment, I wrote, “I have heard,” (or better, read), referring to several places in the past that I read negative things about the Orthodox view of the Trinity. Don’t ask me where because I read much and varied, though I do remember that I read a comment that Isaac Newton did believe in the Trinity, but in the (some substandard way) as the Orthodox.

    I don’t believe what I read and just stuck these bits under my hat until I could verify them with the Orthodox themselves. Perry’s blog has been a verification–in the opposite direction of what I read–unless you tell me he is actually a heterodox Orthodox on this point, which I solemnly doubt.

    Note that the early history of the Trinitarian controversy had quite a few of the Eastern Churches playing games with words, so I wasn’t just going to take, “we are orthodox believers in the Trinity,” without some good background in meaning, which seems to be the case here.

    “Am I somehow misunderstanding you?”
    Yep. Sorry I wasn’t clearer.


  31. Oh, I certainly don’t think its late or platonic. Only that Trinity qua Trinity as metaphysical model conflated with hierarchy is a post-Nicene accent. You certainly don’t see arguments for the equality of bishops based out of the equality of the persons of the Trinity until after homoousias becomes a credal fixture. What you do have, in Ignatius for instance, is the noetic mirroring of obedience rooted in Eucharistic concerns. Ignatius finds obedience in a structure like Father->Son(Spirit)->Apostles->Bishops->Presbyters->Deacons->Laity and he feels free to correlate almost any of the levels with any of the other levels. This is nothing like the “Father=Bishop and only Bishop and there is only one model from the Apostles on” argument that Perry seems to be making.

    And again for the record, I don’t find anything wrong with applying Nicea to our hierarchy, so long as one is aware that such a metaphor is post-hoc.


  32. Nathaniel McCallum,

    Why I can’t find your first quote from St Ignatius in my copy of his epistle to Ephenians? I also googled that phrase but I did not find your source. Any idea?

    “I however view it as a negative …… Hierarchy provides no guarantee of Orthodoxy”.

    I totally agree with you. Every Orthodox is responsible for keeping the faith. The Encycical of the Estern Patriarchs of 1848 says that the laity has been always the guardian of Orthodoxy.

    “For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you.” (1 Corinthians 11-19)


  33. @David Smith,

    I have great respect for Perry, he knows far more than your average internet commentator, is stern but not harsh and will admit when he is wrong. Keep coming back for more. 🙂

    As regards Orthodoxy the only way to really learn Orthodoxy is to experience it. This dialogue for instance is really nothing more than a couple of physics nerds arguing in the corner of a cafeteria over the finer points of string theory. The nature of the internet is, unfortunately, to make obscure things larger than life. Real Orthodoxy is our prayer life, which is impossible to demonstrate on the internet. In short, come and see.

    I’m more than a little curious who would argue that Orthodox have a deficient view of the Trinity. I don’t think most Catholics or Anglicans would condemn us at this point (not that Anglicans can condemn anyone). Even most Protestants would have little difficulty with our Triadology. On second thought, maybe I don’t want to know who thinks we have a deficient Triadology. 😉


  34. I beg everyone’s forgiveness. I was trying to make sure I was reading in Greek and in my haste to post I misplaced my antecedent in the first Ignatian quote. The quote in English (from Schaff): “And Crocus also, worthy both of God and you, whom I have received as the manifestation of your love, hath in all things refreshed me, as the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ shall also refresh him.”

    I also took the “with Onesimus …” to mean a list of the bishops Ignatius had fellowship with on his journey to Rome. It is now quite obvious to me that this is not the case (particularly by virtue of the mention of the deacon Burrhus).

    Crocus’ ecclesiastical status is unknown. It is not impossible that he was a bishop, though he may have been even just a layperson. However, it is clear that he accompanied Ignatius on his journey to Rome.

    In any case, the point of the chapter is that Crocus has helped Ignatius bear a heavy burden and as such will be rewarded by God. This chapter actually supports Perry’s argument since Crocus’ service to the bishop brings reciprocity from the Father. One should be careful about reading too much into this however since the same phrase is used in his epistle to the Romans for those who are not likely bishops.

    Again, please overlook my misstep. 🙂


  35. Lucian,
    I had trouble posting on your blog but hopefully this is pertinent enough to post here.
    What changed from Matt 16:18 to 16:23? Divine revelation.
    Peter could be the receiver of the gift of infallibility one moment and personally a jackass the next. Just like Popes can do. Did his jackass activity remove his office? The person of Peter was said to be “rock” not just his words, yet infallibility is not given to all his words and not to his person either. Did Christ say he ceased to be the rock of the church in v.23? Later, Christ tells him that satan has desired to sift him but that he has prayed for him that his faith fail not.

    It appears to me that all offices of Rome including the Pope are not always infallible. See CCC 891 and Lumen Gentium. Just as Everything the apostles said and did was not binding, normative or commanded the assent of faith, so even a Pope can err but not in official teaching when he “as supreme shepherd…proclaims by a definitive act some doctrine of faith or morals.”
    The pope is not personally unconditionaly infallible, only by virtue of his office when acting in that capacity as teacher. Just as gatherings of bishops does not automatically constitute the infallibility of such gathering.


  36. Nathaniel McCallum,

    It seems to me that the list mentioned by Ignatius is a chain of deacons who were refreshing, one after another, Ignatius during his journey towards Rome. Since Crocus is sort of added in that list, I conjecture that he was a deacon as well. I would rather rule out the possibility of being a bishop though, because, judging from the context, it seems that what he does is for the honour of his bishop.


  37. ioannis,

    The list is:
    Onesimus – bishop
    Burrhus – deacon
    Crocus – ?
    … with …
    Onesimus – bishop
    Burrhus – deacon
    Euplus – ?
    Fronto – ?

    It seems unlikely that the last two would be presbyters, seeing as they are mentioned after a bishop and a deacon. Its also strange that he restarts the list after Crocus. The question is does Crocus begin to the beginning of the restart or the end of the first list? I agree that he is likely a deacon, but the strange ordering of the list along with Onesimus being a bishop is throwing me off.


  38. Canadian,

    I think we are all aware of the caveats surrounding the infallible declarations. The question in my mind is “ex sese.” Only God is infallible ex sese in the same way that only God is life ex sese (the basis of the entire Athanasian argument against the Arians). If the Pope during the ex cathedra act is infallible ex sese he is either claiming to have created truth, which is not infallible, or he is claiming to be God himself, which is blasphemy (unless its true of course).

    I understand the subtleties of Lumen Gentium, I just can’t understand how any act can be prescriptively infallible without either being God himself or believing in some form of Christian fatalism (where it is God apart from the will of the Pope who causes the Pope to speak ex cathedra).


  39. Quite right Nathanial, here we see ADS rearing its ugly head once again. But I think we are approaching this too critically, the Petrine ex sese authority is not meant to be critiqued, but rather to be obeyed.


  40. Nathaniel McCallum,

    You are right about Onesimus. I didn’t notice that he was a bishop. But since Onesimus was the bishop of Ephesians and Crocus was sent as the manifestation of the love of Ephesians, then it seems that Crocus can not be a bishop since he would have to be the bishop of Ephesians.
    Ignatius by saying that by means of all those persons he beheld all the Ephesians seems to imply that they were all from Ephesus and because those listed after deacon Byrrhus can not be possibly, as you pointed out, presbyers it follows that Crocus is either a deacon or a layman. However, Ignatius calls him “worthy both of God and you” which is an indication that he was a member of the clergy. Furthermore, it seems more proper that the Ephesians would show their love to Ignatius by sending a deacon to take care of him than just a layman. What do you think?


  41. @Robert, I wouldn’t go that far. Rome is after all “open to a new situation.” I just can’t see any situation that we will be open to so long as there are subsequent ecumenical councils on the books which undo the first 7 councils. You can’t reject the principles of Athanasius, Cyril, the Cappadocians, Pope Leo, Maximus and even Damascene under the guise of “clarification.” The bottom line is that Rome made a choice between two empires, one which (with all its faults) defined Orthodoxy and another which actively sought to create a brand of Christianity to compete with the old empire in order to legitimise itself. Rome chose the one which provided the greatest material benefit. And that choice wrote the rest of western history (which, as an heir of that history, I lament).


  42. ioannis, there is no reason that, at this early date, Ephesus could not have had multiple bishops. Or that Onesimus was brought to Ephesus knowing that Crocus would go to Rome. Or any of the other remote possibilities. I think it most likely he was a deacon, but only God knows. I do know that Crocus is a likely candidate as the author of the Martyrdom of Ignatius (if the early dating holds). Such are the legions of unknown saints.


  43. Nathaniel McCallum,

    I wouldn’t like to give room to those who accuse the Orthodox Catholic Church for having more than one bishops in some cities but I can not see a reason why Ephesus could have had more than one bishop without Ignatius (the champion of one Eucharist under one bishop)mentioning it with disapproval. In fact I think that the cases of multiple bishops in the same city have been always the exception to the rule.
    Ignatius, in his epistles, rather defends the traditional practice than introducing a new one. See, for instance, what St. John Chrysostom writes in his commentary of St. Paul’s epistle to the Philippians:
    “«To the fellow-Bishops and Deacons.» What is this? Were there several Bishops of one city? Certainly not; but he called the Presbyters so. For then they still interchanged the titles”.


  44. And doesn’t it seem even a bit random to you how the official vs. non-official moments are established?


  45. Nathaniel,
    I may not be understanding you here, but Vatican 1 says that ex cathedra definitions by the pope are irreformable of their own nature (ex sese) and not by reason of the church’s consent. It is not the nature of the pope or his office that make the definitions infallible and irreformable but because it is divine revelation. The CCC and Lumen Gentium are clear that the pope and or bishops are not creating new truth but expounding the deposit of divine revelation led by the Spirit of truth. The infallibility extends as far as the deposit of divine Revelation itself.


  46. Canadian,

    Good Show! I always find church history and history in general more entertaining than fiction. Paul the One Eyed, Timothy the Cat, etc. Dan Brown’s got nothing. In any case, you took my rant in a good spirit, which probably speaks better of your character than my own.

    I try to be an equal opportunity “gunsmoker.” As for Orthodoxy on the ground. I am with you on the mass ignorance and such among much of the rank and file, particularly many, though by no means all of the cradles. Trust me, I am well aware of it. And I do not try to sugar coat it for anyone thinking of converting. I always give the “goodnews/bad news” speech. I firmly believe that a good number of people who leave the Church do so because they were sold an idealization, a secret back door into Eden. Well that is a lie and no one is getting back into some existence without suffering. It is just not going to happen. We do ourselves no favors by giving people an idealized picture.

    As an anecdote, I was recently conversing with a friend of mine who organizes service to the poor in his city. He was using a local parish for a service project and had neighborhood low income people coming to the parish for assistance. Of course, once they see the inside of the church they begin to inquire and he was thinking that this is a prime evangelism opportunity and he was right. What could be better than an neighborhood parish? But he was shocked that the parishioners were either clueless or unwilling. He said to me, “And I am thinking, Do I have to do this for you?” I said, “Yes, at this point you do, because they can’t do it for themselves and they won’t.” Such is not the case in every parish, but it seems to be in far too many.

    That said, you will always have some measure of nominal laity. Even the most personalistic groups have it, it is just that its participants learn to cloak themselves better with all the right words and expressions. So my rant isn’t aimed there, though you are right to point it out. I would like to see the nominal membership make up a lesser degree of the laity.

    For all the hay made of Rome’s claimed authority that is there to address every problem and every issue, the fact is that Rome moves quite slowly on most occasions and tolerates wide spread dissent and abuse, much to the disappointment of many a convert. See a case in point here. ( )

    Now what would it take for example for Rome to enforce in say the US canonical rules on girls and women serving at the altar? That is not such a hard or big thing is it? Just abide by the tradition. What do you think would happen if the magisterium actually enforced precluding females from serving at the altar except in extreme circumstances as is Roman canon law? I’d bet good money that you’d have a schism so fast it’d make your head spin. Now that is a very small part of the tradition. It wasn’t too hard to preserve it but Rome tolerates this widespread abuse and for a long time now, across multiple continents. Why? If Rome cannot with its claim to supreme authority preserve the tradition in small matters like this (as if the liturgy was a small matter) why should I think it can and will do so on larger matters? Such an authority then seems to be quite anemic and brittle. It really doesn’t slice, dice and do your laundry. Popes of the past wouldn’t even have flinched at stuff like this. What do you think Leo 13th would have done? For all the conservative hype about Benedict, I really can’t see that he’s done all that much, but maybe I am too far from it to see the difference.

    That said, one of the main reasons to have young boys serve at the altar is to inspire them to the priesthood. Why permit girls and women to serve at the altar, which is completely out of step with the tradition, east or west, when they cannot become deacons or priests? Is it any wonder that we see the numbers that we do among Catholic laity (about fifty plus percent) shifting in favor of women priests? I suppose you reap what you sow. Would it really be so hard for Benedict to exercise a bit of that papal power?


  47. Nathaniel,

    I think I can say after reading Stylianos that he is doing both relative to polity and the relationship between bishops. I don’t think he takes them to be substantially different things.

    I don’t think the Trinitarian model relative to orders is beside the point since it entails how they relate properly. It is not as if one can do one without implications relative to the other.

    If bishops image the Father, then it is easy to see that in principle they are all equal qua bishop since they like the Father they image is the sole source of orders in the hierarchy. This seems to form an essential part of his argument, that all bishops relate within the apostolic succession, that is, the episcopate.

    Second, if we took your line completely, this would still give space to the Roman line that the other bishops are subject to the Pope, even with homoousious.

    Third, I think he is doing two things at once. First, he is using the Trinitarian model as you say, but he is also arguing from the other direction that there can be no order over and above that of bishop since all primacy is within the episcopate.

    As for the supposed Augustinian gloss, I don’t agree. Here is why. Each church with its bishop as its head is Trinitarian in structure. It is within this structure that the bishop’s primacy exists. From there, we then have the relation of multiple bishops in a synod with a head. It isn’t a participation in an essence of orders, but rather communion with the head and the members. The idea that the synod can generate a new bishop doesn’t work, since any bishop can validly ordain and a synod in its primitive form can’t since presbyters and deacons can’t

    How a particular theological outlook developed and its metaphysical backing may be unrelated or they may not be. That would need to be shown one way or the other and not assumed. Sometimes things develop in history because of metaphysical ideas, sometimes not, but we can’t assume a lack of relation just as we can’t justifiably assume a strong causal relation either.

    I agree that in the Ignatian corpus the analogies to the Trinity are varied, but it doesn’t follow that since they are so, that my claim was false. What you’d need to show is that the variation excludes my claim. It doesn’t. Given the sketch I gave it is quite reasonable to expect that since Ignatius is still in a transition period to see a variety of usage. It is akin to the use of presbytera for the wives of presbyters. Its use varied widely, but that did not preclude a stricter use in a specific context.

    Second, my view can easily accommodate the point of obedience and isn’t incompatible with it. If the analogy is true, then the claim of obedience is all the more significant and pressing. So the point of obedience gains force from the analogy.

    If you think primus inter pares and pontifex maximus are a false dichotomy, please say why. I think I know why you’d say so, but I don’t wish to put words in your mouth.

    I don’t think I made an argument that from the beginning of Christianity the bishop was viewed as wholly, exclusively or exhaustively or any other relevant sense of “wholly” as representing the Father. I believe what I was aiming for was primarily, but a principled use isn’t necessarily exclusive of other uses.

    I am not clear on what you mean by a noetic structure, but I don’t take Stylianos or myself to be doing that. Secondly, I’d argue, a la Basil and others that the liturgical tradition lends itself to this in the structure of the Father through the Son in the Holy Spirit. Ireneaus’ talk of the Son and the Spirit as the “two hands” of the Father come to mind.

    When Chesterton was writing, Idealism was still dominant in the air. I think people miss how significant an influence it was during the 19th century with individuals like Newman or Soloviev. Once you see the Idealistic structure of the thesis of the development of doctrine, all of the usual problems that afflicted Hegelian dialectical logic relative to the truth of the system come to bear. An idealistic system can accommodate any counter evidence, even if the system is false. Here I am not advancing a Popperian Falsificationism, which I take to be equally false. What I am trying to point out is that the constituative relations in such an Idealistic model are insufficient for truth. So it is really irrelevant if DoD can show a “seed” of some doctrine in earlier expressions since that won’t tell us if the claim is true, but only that the system can be made consistent and coherent. But we want the former and not primarily the latter. Hence organic metaphors are not really helpful.


  48. Canadian,

    It is true that it is possible per Matt 16 v. 18 and v. 23 that Peter could go from the receiver of infallibility in one case to jackass the next. It is also true that he could go from expressing the revealed faith to jackass as well.

    Second, can some degree of being a “jackass” cut one off though? As for whether Peter was personally that rock I do not concede. Nor do I take the material from the Syriac/Aramaic sources to really help at all either, at least so far as I’ve read in that scholarship. I could be mistaken though.

    It is true that Christ prays for Peter, and he prays for all his disciples. Are we to take his prayer for Peter as indicating a superior chrism or in a representative sense? Either is consistent with the data and certainly the patristic material isn’t monolithic here.

    That said, I think the unconditional election/papacy line is probably a stretch. If such an argument could be made, a ton of work needs to be done to draw out the premises and make it work.


  49. Perry,
    “Second, can some degree of being a “jackass” cut one off though?”

    I sure hope not. You and I may end up at the head of the line 🙂
    Cut one off from what? There were some real jackass moves among Council members and proceedings over the centuries, but the church should not be cut off from the conditional capability of infallibility or Christ’s promises fail. Honorius may however be an instance of cutting off due to jackassness, I don’t know. His case doesn’t seem to violate papal infallibility though.

    “As for whether Peter was personally that rock I do not concede.”

    The repeated singular “you’s” to Peter seem to hold the passage to him. Many protestant scholars also hold to this. The kepha/kepha seems compelling, and masculine/feminine forms of rock in greek seem explanatory. I am no scholar that’s why I am looking for the ecclesial body with interpretive authority to present it to me 🙂

    “Either is consistent with the data and certainly the patristic material isn’t monolithic here”

    True. Nor was the patristic data monolithic on the books of scripture until the church takes up its official charism from Christ and settles these things.
    Peter is charged with strenthening his brethren after he returns to Christ, so the Lord’s prayer for unfailing faith has a directly pastoral context. Also when he asks repeatedly if Peter loves him, he is charged with feeding Christ’s sheep.

    Unconditional election is a monergistic doctrine, the papal and Christian claim is against monenergistic/monothelite actions and operations of God over a person’s will and activity. Papal or Conciliar Infallibility is not unconditional like election is said to be. The church discovers and expounds revelation from the deposit of faith, while unconditional election is a decree outside of time without respect to anything regarding the person.
    I could be flying kites here, I wish there was another Catholic involved in this discussion. Where’s Ratzinger when you need him?


  50. Heh, heh….I should have said “a” Catholic involved in this discussion, not “another” one—as if to imply that I iz wun.


  51. Perry,

    I don’t have a lot of time as I leave for a 25 day European work trip in 36 hours, so don’t expect a lot from this post, or unfortunately a follow up comment from me (I’m sure this thread will be long stale by the time I return). As always, its good to talk to you, but I’ve simply run out of time.

    I suspect much of our disconnect has to do with our different methodologies. Your background is in philosophical theology, mine in historical theology. While there is much overlap, the differences are present in my insistence that while Ignatius may be consistent with a mirroring of Trinity in the three major orders, this is not an argument that Ignatius himself makes, but is a later theological synthesis which uses him for justification. However, let’s leave Ignatius aside for now.

    The fundamental inconsistency that I see in this discussion is that when we consider a Trinitarian model for the three major orders we use the Cappadocian model and it is proper to state that the priest and deacon are from the person of the bishop (cf “ex sese”). Interestingly, we do not argue that the priest and deacon are homoousias with the bishop. If we were to map this model against the inter-episcopal relations, than it would be proper to say that the synod gets is existence from the primate (in other words, ex sese).

    In the excerpt you published form +Stylianos, he exclusively discusses inter-episcopal relations. The unacceptable conclusion for +Stylianos is that the synod sources its existence in the primate. He thus adopts an Augustinian model where each bishop finds its source in the “essence” of apostolic succession.

    You argue this is not true because “Each church with its bishop as its head is Trinitarian in structure.” Yet this is NOT what +Stylianos argues. It simply does not appear in the excerpt you posted; you are sidestepping the issue and arguing a point that he does not. What he DOES argue is that the *universal* Church is Trinitarian in structure and that bishops are equal in nature because they are homoousias and that autocephally is rooted in the “communal” structure of the Trinity (he never really connects this last point well unfortunately) and that each bishop has full authority due to the fact that he has apostolic succession. My point is that this line of argument is Augustinian.

    You then state “if we took your line completely, this would still give space to the Roman line that the other bishops are subject to the Pope, even with homoousious.” This is, by definition, false. Proving that +Stylianos has a faulty line of reasoning does not prove the position he argues against correct. But even if it were true, so what? You seem to begin at the belief that Roman claims, and anything that looks remotely to you like Roman claims, are deficient and work from there to craft your argument. All I have done is suggest that one thinker has proposed a model which is based on Augustinian assumptions and you respond entirely with tangents. I’ve seen you tear others apart for attempting this, I think it is beneath you.

    You further state “The idea that the synod can generate a new bishop doesn’t work, since any bishop can validly ordain and a synod in its primitive form can’t since presbyters and deacons can’t.” This too is not permitted by the canons, and specifically by Apostolic Canon 34 which +Stylianos mentions. It is not proper for a group of bishops to ordain a new bishop without the confirmation of both the synod AND the primate. Doing so is grounds for deposition.

    Finally, you said, ‘So it is really irrelevant if DoD can show a “seed” of some doctrine in earlier expressions since that won’t tell us if the claim is true, but only that the system can be made consistent and coherent.’ This is precisely the difficulty I’ve had with your line of reasoning, particularly in the case of Ignatius. You stated “I agree that in the Ignatian corpus the analogies to the Trinity are varied, but it doesn’t follow that since they are so, that my claim was false. What you’d need to show is that the variation excludes my claim.” Your model of Trinitarian/Clerical analogies is exactly the method you reject: you’ve made a system consistent and coherent using Ignatius by considering Ignatius a stopping point to later theology. At least in the field of historical theology, this is a fatal mistake.

    In short, we both agree that the claims of the papacy are absurd. My frustration is that I feel you are putting arguments in other people’s mouths that aren’t actually there. Further, I believe the entire enterprise of applying Trinitarian models to inter-episcopal relations to be post-hoc, that is, it presupposes the notion of DoD that you reject.

    In conclusion, I really support what you are doing with this blog. Polemics *are* a necessary enterprise. However, they are only convincing when they are performed by someone who believes that Christian charity requires that we be as critical of our own authors as we are of our opponents.

    Sorry I’m out of time, I hope to catch up on all the great posts when I get back. 🙂


  52. Well, Nate,

    since you like history so much, you would know that priests and deacons are ordained by the bishop (a single bishop: their bishop); whereas bishops themselves are ordained by a plurality of bishops (at least two or three) — this is according to the most ancient canons.

    And, -interestingly enough-, Rome has changed this ancient historical praxis by making ANY ordination of bishops run through the Pope. (This has happened recently in history). — They obviously felt the need to accomodate their new theology by altering its former praxis: so much for tradition and ‘lex orandi, lex credendi’.

    Hence why Christian-Orthodox ecclessiology is as it is: because it has always been so. — And there’s no point in making excuses or delivering explanations for it: we simply ‘keep the traditions that have been delivered to us, whether through word or epistle’, or praxis. — it’s that simple!


  53. Lucian,
    It seems there has been a change regarding Orthodox attitude toward the Pope. The Tradition east and west is chock full of references to that See that clearly exceed many modern Orthodox.
    Was it delivered to you to have multiple bishops in a given region?
    Is the Russian church following or departing from proper Tradition by seriously engaging Rome right now?
    If they are departing, who has authority to say it is so?


  54. Our church respects the canons. The canons say that no-one acts without the others. This happens on several levels: it may be that Priests cannot serve the Liturgy without the congregation; it may be that bishops do not ordain without the presence of the clergy and the support of the parish; it may be that primates are not given veto-powers in local synods; it may be that the Ecumenical Patriarch is not a self-sufficient Pope; or it may even be that dogma is extablished after the Vincentian canon. — we don’t stray away from what has always been the teaching of the Church from Apostolic times onward. — the Catholics obviously did. (Priests may say Mass alone, without the people present; ordinations of wandering bishops are recognized as valid by Scholastic theology; the Pope has veto powers and singularily establishes dogma; a single bishop can ordain other bishops; they are free to believe that Mary didn’t die, contrary to ancient universal tradition; etc). — see a pattern forming? — Then along comes Protestantism, which takes this accursed isolationism and individualism and self-sufficiency even further: the madness has no end.


  55. Now concerning the Pope: Orthodoxy didn’t reject the emergence of primacies within the bishoprick… but that doesn’t mean that X is infallible and cannot fall away. When Rome fell away, “let his his habitation be desolate, and let no man dwell therein: and his bishoprick let another take” (as it’s written in the book of Acts). We do have a Primate, don’t we?

    Rome’s fall is part of a pattern: the first one many times falls away:

    – Lucifer fell and was replaced by Michael: the reason was pride and revolt;
    – Cain fell away and was replaced by Set: the reason was envy and murder;
    – Ismael fell away and was replaced by Isaac;
    – Esau fell away and was replaced by Jacob/Israel: the reason was carnality: lust and hunger;
    – Reuben fell away and was replaced by Judah: the reason was an attempt at power-grabbing;
    – Israel, “the firstborn of God”, fell away and was replaced by the gentile Nations: the reason was the rejection of the Messiah;
    – Rome fell away and was replaced by Constantinople: the reason was pride and heresy;
    – etc.

    So the hierarchy is preserved, eventhough the players are changed.


  56. I don’t really know what you mean by more bishops in a city… do you refer to auxiliary bishops? If so, they are the continuation of the ancient chore-bishops, or country-side-bishops. Or do you refer to bishops who take care of a national minority residing in another country than their father-land? (Like the Serbians in Romania, who are under the authority of my namesake, H.H. Lukijan). If so, that’s normal. (I honestly can’t see how Romanian bishops and priests could take care of Serbian-speaking Serbs..)

    The idea (i.e., the spirit, -not the leter-, of the canon) is that one does not set up rival bishopricks in a single city. (i.e., to prevent schisms) — but Serbians are not in schism with Romanians: it’s just that we speak different languages, that’s all.. (H.H. Lukijan is not in schism with, or a rival of, the Romanian bishop Timothy of Arad [where I live: there are many Serbs here])


  57. Canadian,

    Was it delivered to have more than one Eucharist in a given region? And yet, with the increase of population and the institution of parishes, there are more than one Eucharists in the same city. Some practices change with the course of the time without that affecting the faith and salvation.

    I think that there must be some explanations as to why there are more than one bishops in certain cities although I do not know them. Perhaps one reason is that Orthodoxy was introduced or reintroduced to some regions through the various communities of Orthodox immigrants who needed to have their Liturgies in their own languages so that they feel at home while struggling for a living in a new and unknown environment. It wouldn’t be the same though if they had immigrated to an Orthodoxy country where the bishopries had been already established.


  58. The Roman Catholic Church has more than one bishop in a city, area, or diocese such as the Maronite Bishops so this criticism cuts both ways.


  59. Canadian,

    I think you are reading way too much into Moscow’s latest interactions with Rome. There is not much substance there, in regards towards unification that is.


  60. Lucian,
    “Our canons clearly state that we cannot have more than one bishop over the same territory, and one metropolitan over the same metropolis. I regret to tell you that we Orthodox are violating this important ecclesiological principle in North America, South America, Europe and Australia. In New York, for example, we have more than ten Orthodox bishops over the same city and the same territory. I can say the same thing about other cities and territories in North America… The same thing has happened in Paris, France. There are six co-existing Orthodox bishops with overlapping ecclesiological jurisdictions. In my opinion and in the opinion of Orthodox canonists, this is ecclesiological ethno-phyletism. This is heretical. How can we condemn ethno-phyletism as a heresy in 1872 and still practice the same thing in the twenty-first century in North America ?”
    (January 2009 issue of “The Word”, His Eminence Metropolitan Philip Saliba)

    Could be true. However, the Maronite Patriarch and bishops are under the authority of and in communion with the See of Rome.

    Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev–Orthodox Mission in the 21st century:

    “It is against this background that I have repeatedly suggested that a Catholic-Orthodox Alliance should be formed. This alliance may enable Catholics and Orthodox to fight together for the preservation of traditional values and to combat against secularism, liberalism and relativism. Such alliance may help Orthodox and catholics to speak with one voice in addressing secular society, may provide for them an ample space where they will discuss modern issues and come to common positions. The two traditions can speak with one voice, and there can be a united Catholic-Orthodox response to the challenges of modern times.

    The rationale behind my proposal is the following: our Churches are on their way to unity, but one has to be realistic and understand that it will probably take decades, if not centuries, before this unity is realized. In the meantime we desperately need to address the world with a united voice. Without being one Church, can we act as one Church, can we present ourselves to the outside world as a unified structure, as an alliance? I am convinced that we can, and that by doing so we may become much stronger.”


  61. I don’t think that such absurd readings are in conformity with the spirit of the canons, especially since the cities you mention are not even part of Orthodox territories.. they’re canonical no-man’s-land. The jurisdictions are not overlapping, since I highly doubt that Arabs go to worship in Greek churches, or Romanians in Russian churches, etc. Every bishop has his well-established community, which are neither in schism with one another, nor could any bishop in any way rival anh of the others (since he couldn’t fulfill the necessities of the other dioceses: like holding services in their own tongue, which for him would be an unknown language).

    If on the other hand, those territories would’ve been Orthodox, and their native people (ie, the Americans) would’ve been Orthodox, than your criticisms would’ve been indeed valid (because they would’ve made logical sense). As it stands, they do not.

    That again, it still wouldn’t make sense: your cities have population numbers the size of countries!! (NOT exaggerating!!) 😐 New York has the same population as Romania!! It would not have a mere “bishop”: it would have its own Patriarch!! Every “hood” would have its own bishop!! 😐

    So, you see, it would be utterly absurd to interpret canons in this over-literal fashion (we’re not Jews, -we’re Christians-, [don’t let the name ‘Orthodox’ confound you], and patristic writings are NOT the Talmud…)


  62. Lucian,
    Ok, so you want me to appreciate Orthodox concepts of interpretive authority when you can take the words of a Metropolitan (must not be yours) of the Antiochian church and dismiss them with a wave of the hand as “absurd.”
    You have successfully displayed the point I have been trying to make. Scripture and Tradition alone are not enough, there needs to be an authoritative teaching office to expound the content of divine revelation.
    There are also serious disagreements between Orthodox jurisdictions. Schmemann’s scathing remarks also seem to point to something more than what you imply as trivial.
    Are the OCA and the Antiochians national churches with language barriers? What about those who use different calendars?
    The issue isn’t population. The issue is that even in rural armpits of the country, the Orthodox jurisdictions overlap.
    You have eastern Catholic churches, Ukrainian and European etc, but they are all in submission to one authority.


  63. The fact that the bishop you quoted wants to *change* what is *currently* in place (and has been in place for I-don’t-know-how-long, and no-one ever complained about it, for the obvious reasons I presented to you) puts him – and not others- in a position of defense..

    And by ‘Orthodox’ I don’t mean schismatics (just like by ‘Catholics’ I don’t mean Old Catholics or SSPX) — there aren’t any problems between the Orthodox of any calendar (Romanians and Greeks keep the new Calendar, and Slavs keep the Old, but no-one’s of the opinion that calendars redeem us, as the schismatics seem to believe..)

    Not that I don’t understand the bishop, or don’t sympathize with him, or don’t know where he’s coming from: like David, he wants to count the people, and trust in the strength of numbers, and in better management and better organizing.. but God smote Israel when David performed the census, and He spoke through Jeremiah saying “Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm“. He was (and still is) good at organizing and management: but he also has to trust in the Lord more. — The Bible doesn’t say “make all nations my disciples”, it simply says: “make for me disciples from all nations”.


  64. Catholics make up 20% of the American population. Orthodox are under 1%. There’s just no comparison..

    When Greeks and Romanians and Slavs emigrated to the US, where there were NO Orthodox there whatsoever, — they didn’t even have churches, let alone priests or bishops.. They were few and scathered throughout an entire sub-continent.. it’s not like they all went to settle in the same place, or something.. Then, later on, each country tried to do something for its own diaspora: sending a few priests.. a few of bishops.. to take care of the spiritual needs of the flock. And they could barely do that.. build a few churches..

    What on earth any of this has to do with conspiracy-theories about “subjection” is beyond me.. My relatives in Canada are glad that they have finally moved to a region where there’s a Romanian parish: until a few years back, they had to attend a Greek church, where they liked the music, but didn’t understand a word.. and being assimilated by holding services in English is as far away from their desire as possible.. it’s just not even an option for them..


  65. Regardless of the number of Orthodox Christians in a particular locale, having multiple bishops in a city is uncanonical.

    To have a Greek bishop, an OCA bishop, a ROCOR bishop, and an Antiochian bishop (and maybe a few others) of city X is uncanonical.

    The reason for the uncanonical situation can (usually) be explained by historical circumstances, but it cannot be excused.


  66. As much as I greatly admire Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev), I think him mistaken if he believes unity can be achieved between the Vatican and the Church.

    There are far too many long-established Vatican teachings they would have to repudiate: papal infallibility, the Filioque, supererogation, created grace, etc.


  67. The idea that the Church needs to have a single, the-buck-stops-here, visible authority is a mistake; it is a distortion based upon a failed understanding of collegiality. It also ignores very real threats of an organisation dominated by a hierarchy.

    True Christian collegiality means no local church engages in an action — no matter how right it may think that action is — which other local churches find objectionable. And because consensus to change is extremely difficult to obtain, the practical result is that change does not happen. (The word ‘innovation’ is, in Orthodox circles, a ‘code word’ for heterodoxy/heresy.)

    In a hierarchy, change can be compelled by a top-to-bottom mandate and can happen relatively rapidly. If the laity are expected to ‘pay, pray, and obey’, and not regarded as an instrumental aspect of preserving paradosis, transmogrification is relatively easy.

    In Papal Christianity, the Second Vatican Council introduced *and mandated* radical changes in the Mass. Despite much gnashing of teeth, those changes happened.

    Such changes could never happen in Orthodoxy. Any Orthodox Christian who has assimilated into the Orthodox mindset understands why.


  68. Regardless of the number of Orthodox Christians in a particular locale, having multiple bishops in a city is uncanonical.

    Be reasonable. — Did ancient Lyon or Antioch have 20,000,000 inhabitants, as, say, New York? Romania has that many people, and it’s a country, and has a synod of over 50+ bishops.. Serbia and Bulgaria and Greece have about 10 million people each.. — Canons are not to be interpreted in the spirit of Talmudic Judaism.. America (and Western Europe) is not an Orthodox country, nor are there even Orthodox cities there.. Every church takes care of its own diaspora to the best of its abilities.. that’s all we can do.. to talk “the bishop of New York” or “the bishop of Sahara” seems like a lack or lost of touch with reality..


  69. Canadian,

    Is there a greater case of ethno-phyletism and racism in the history of Christianity than the witholding of the cup of the “Eucharist” from the “inferior” Roman laity by the Papal Frankish nobility which was both feudal lords and priests because they did not want to share the same blood?

    And in introducing that racist practice Papism anathematised Christ Himself who said “Drink from it, all of you” and “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.”(John 6:53)

    Here is the “infallible” statement which anathematises Christ, the Apostles and the Fathers:
    “If any one saith, that, by the precept of God, or, by necessity of salvation, all and each of the faithful of Christ ought to receive both species of the most holy sacrament not consecrating; let him be anathema (Council of Trent, Session 21, Canon 1).”


  70. Lucian,

    I believe it reasonable to adhere to the canons.

    Even IF the entire metropolitan area of New York had a population of 20 million (it doesn’t), the number of Orthodox Christians in the area doesn’t even come close to the Orthodox population of Romania or Serbia or Bulgaria. Heck, there are probably more Orthodox Christians in Montenegro than in New York! For that reason, I think your argument is predicated on false assumptions.

    The idea the different churches should take ‘care of its own diaspora’ is, in my opinion, blatant phyletism.

    I’ll stand with Metropolitan Jonah (see ), especially this part:

    >>>… almost all national Churches have extended their jurisdictions beyond their geographic and political boundaries to the so-called diaspora. But Orthodox Christians who are faithful to the Gospel and the Fathers cannot admit of any such thing as a diaspora of Christians. Only ethnic groups can be dispersed among other ethnic groups. Yet the essential principle of geographic canonical boundaries of episcopal and synodal jurisdiction has been abrogated, and every patriarchate, every mother Church, now effectively claims universal jurisdiction to serve “its” people in “diaspora.” Given this fact, on what basis do we object to the Roman Papacy?<<<


  71. Tom,

    the evil little phyletist Church has “extended [its] jurisdictions beyond [its] geographic and political boundaries” eversince the first wandering chorebishop set foot upon the face of the earth.. 🙂 New York may be a city, but since its Orthodox populace does not excede that of a village, I think that modern-day country-side-bishops are ‘acceptable unto God & men’..

    Besides, its not like the reality “from the ground” indicates that the [vast and overwhelming majority of] actual Orthodox people who actually live in America actually want that: — [I mean, it’s not like my relatives in Canada can’t sleep at night because they have a “single-bishop-for-all-Orthodox-in-Canada”-shaped void in their hearts, which consumes their being & eats at their conscience, or something like that..]

    Only a change in reality can change reality.. [if you think that’s a truism, think again]. IF and WHEN the people will truly feel a soft, tender, leninist whisper in their hearts, saying: “Orthodox from all corners:.. *unite*!!”, THEN change will naturally, -as opposed to artificially or forcefully-, occur on its own, without anyone “pushing” or “lobbying” for it from the pulpit.. (because he, and he alone, re-discovered this amazing long-burried and forgotten truth in the dusty pages of his brand-new edition of the ‘Rudder’..)


  72. Tom it seems to my Lucian has a point in that much of what is going on here and in the rest of the new countries (I will not use diaspora!) in the name of unity is contrived and artificial at best. This is not to make a defense for phyletism however.


  73. Still too vague. I’m not familiar with meetings at Swiss lakes (or anywhere else) deciding the fate of the so-called diaspora.


  74. Tom,

    phyletism is a thing that no-one heard or knew about until the late 1800’s. — And I personally haven’t heard of any ecumenical synods taking place then..

    Serbs & Greeks treat Aromanians [an ancient Romanian population living South of the Danube] very ill: the late Patriarch +Pavle said that “God doesn’t speak Romanian” when they asked to let them hold services in their own tongue; and in Greece they face the same problem; the Greeks don’t even recognize them as a distinct ethnicity! Serbs living in Romania don’t have such problems: they’re free to pray in their own language: the Serbian church in Arad was build in the late 1700’s and it’s the oldest building in the city.


    in Transylvania, there were German and Hungarian Catholics. Until, under the episcopacy of a certain Hungarian Catholic bishop, the majority of German Catholics were “Hungarized”. — So *please* excuse me if I don’t believe in Roman Catholic “universalism”: universalists do not make all people speak Latin. Or Hungarian. That’s NOT what universality & catholicity is about. — Or, to give you anoter example: look at the ritual or liturgical Latinization of the Greek-Catholics under Rome.

    That said, there’s nothing wrong with +Jonah’s vision of a better-organized church in America (as long as it is made sure that the right of people to pray and worship in their own language stays intact).. just that the people’s hearts aren’t in it. — except for those of the American converts.. who basically have this need because it is their right ALSO to pray and worship in their own ‘American’ tongue,.. which they can’t quite do as things currently stand.. BUT -that again- the Greeks, Arabs, Romanians, Russians, and Ukrainians fear assimilation just as much: and herein lies the true problem, not in old-country phyletist money-related imaginary conspirations, or in other such complete nonsense — and you can’t properly solve a problem until you’ve formulated it properly.. to find the solution, you have to grab the bull by its horns: not create a straw-man.


  75. Apparently, subtlety is lost on some people. So I’ll be blunt: I prefer _Thomas_ and really dislike ‘Tom’.

    It seems phyletism is grossly misunderstood by some here.

    There is nothing wrong with people worshipping in the language of their preference. That has nothing to do with phyletism.

    There is everything wrong with people establishing a parish, ignoring the locally established church, and seeking to be under the authority of a foreign church. That is phyletism. It was condemned by a Pan-Orthodox Synod as a heresy.


  76. ignoring the locally established church

    And exactly what “locally established church” would THAT be? The Protestant Church? The Catholic Church?


  77. There is no ‘Protestant Church’. There are Protestant sects, all of which are outside the Church.

    Papal Christianity is neither ‘catholic’ nor a part of the Church.


  78. Thomas,
    In some respects, you have supported my points to Lucian. Yet by what authority do you declare Papal Christianity is neither catholic nor a part of the church? Though you are in agreement with my point regarding phyletism, what real authority do you have against Lucian’s reading of the same data set and history? What compels me, the dysfunctional Baptist, to embrace what you and Lucian can’t even agree on? My protestant brethren have the scriptures, you have scripture and tradition, but now you argue about the interpretation of both because you have no interpretive authority to teach on the fly in serious situations. You seem to analyze the data, disagree and decide for yourselves.


  79. My quotes above from the Russian church seem to disagree with you about Rome when they say “our churches are on their way to unity” maybe not for decades but that seems a far cry from your bare assertion that “Papal Christianity is neither catholic nor part of the church.”
    So who has authority? Russia? You? Lucian? Each bishop? OCA? Antochian?


  80. Canadian,

    If you read carefully, I have cited hierarchs and synodal gatherings of hierarchs. Nowhere have I cited individual interpretations of the canons. Not once have I denigrated the canons or undermined the importance of the canons with phrases claiming they ‘are not to be interpreted in the spirit of Talmudic Judaism’. The decision to regard a particular canon as of lesser or even no importance belongs to each bishop and to the synod of bishops as a whole: it is not a judgement for members of the laos to make.

    I have not, Canadian, made any deliberate attempt to support your points for the simple reason that I haven’t read your comments carefully. I assume an enquirer is not expected to have all his answers right (else he would not be enquiring!) Rather, my focus has been on statements which strike me as incompatible with Orthodoxy — most especially an anti-hierarchical tone which seems to pervade his thinking.

    I think the clearest authority within the Church comes from St Mark of Ephesus: >>>The Latins are not only schismatics but heretics… we did not separate from them for any other reason other than the fact that they are heretics. This is precisely why we must not unite with them unless they dismiss the addition from the Creed filioque and confess the Creed as we do.”<<< Of course, St Mark's opinion needs to be read in the hindsight of the years following 1204 as well as the behaviour of the papal legates in 1054.

    Lucian is not reading the same data set and history. His statements reveal a poor understanding of the history of the Church. For instance: when Orthodox Christians from Greece, Romania, etc. first came to the U.S., there was an already-established local church with a hierarchy. Rather than trying to strengthen that heirarchy from within following the rise of Marxism and the severance of support from Russia, too many groups of Orthodox Christians went running back to their 'homeland' for support and those 'homelands' allowed the attractiveness of U.S. wealth to blind them to the canons.


  81. (The previous posted before I was ready …. I’m terribly sorry.)

    There will be times in the Church when there is widespread disagreement over particular issues. At such times, it is incumbent on the enquirer to consider multiple opinions and to consider the value of each opinion. Such opinions should not be limited to the living: the Church is not a ‘democracy of those who happen to be alive at a given moment’. Reach back to the opinions of those who have gone before us: most especially pay attention to the teachings of those the Church has declared to be Holy Fathers and Holy Mothers. A consensus can usually be discerned.

    There are extremely rare times when one or a few Orthodox Christian(s) stood against the rest of the world as a definite minority, but were proven (in hindsight) to have been correct. The two most vivid examples of this are, in my mind, St Athanasius the Great and St Maximus the Confessor.

    There are also times when, for the sake of diplomacy and tact, Christian bodies outside the Church may be referred to as ‘church’. That is the decision of competent hierarchs, not mine! But I doubt any Orthodox hierarch would be willing to permit a Papal Christian to begin participating in the liturgical and ecclesiological life of a parish without having undergone some formal marking of conversion. That being so, a Papal Christian would be regarded as outside the Church in practical application.


    I’m tired and the psychoactive drugs I have taken are making their effect known. I need to quit for now without even proofreading.

    I sincerely appreciate being addressed as ‘Thomas’ in your most recent comment.

    To bed.


  82. I appreciate your position. Seems honest enough. But you still seem to lack a principle or means to bring the unity that you desire, and which Lucian (for example) has no pressing desire for. So, Russia desires reunion with Rome, others detest the thought. Some don’t even want canonical union with each other. When I was in the Antiochian church for a while some changes came down regarding bishops and authority. There was discussion about churches going to the OCA as a result. This is what I am sick of in Protestantism. But you seem to have no ability to decisively resolve ecclesial division. Did St. Mark give his opinion, or speak infallibly with authority? Did he head an infallible ecumenical Council?


  83. Canadian,

    Wise words from Thomas. I would also suggest, if I may, to seek out the faith in action. Attend, participate, join in the ascetic experience, engage your whole person. This is not to say theory is not important, but it must be remembered the Christian Faith is first and foremost a living, practical path to Life. What we all need is to meet the Living God, for He alone can change us. What we need is to “come to mount Zion, and unto he the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumberable company of angles.”

    We are mostly quibbling here, discussing (controversial) tangents. This is not always profitable and prudent.


  84. Perry Robinson, Nathaniel McCallum, Lucian, and whoever is interested,

    I would like to go back to the main issue in discussion with regard to the artcile of +Harkanakis
    and share with you the thoughts I made.

    I think that the methodoligal problem of +Harkianakis’ text, which causes some confusion and the justified, in my opinion, arguments of Nathaniel McCallum, is that he applies at once not one but two models on the inter-episcopal relations. The one is the Trinitarian model qua three distinct persons and the other is the Trinitarian model as essence/hypostasis distinction. The first application is not legitimate. If we recognise an analogy between the three persons of the Trinity and the major orders of hierarchy is because these major orders are three as well. But there are lots of bishops. Therefore the Trinitarian model qua three persons is not applicable on the episcopate.

    However we can apply the essence/hypostasis distinction on the relationships between the bishops. In such a case the name Bishop (or Father, if you want, where Father would be not a hypostatic but an essential name) being a common name of all the bishops, would denote the essence as the common name “God” denotes in the Trinity something natural. Now the +Harkianakis arguments’ about lack of subordination among the bishops and homoousias make sense. One bishop can not be more bishop than another bishop as one person of the Trinity can not be more God than the other two. All the bishops are equal on account of being bishops. Papacy, in making a bishop more bishop and more Father than the rest of the bishops-fathers violates that principle. And indeed that’s what Papacy does in the theological ground as well. The heresy of filioque creates grades and hierarchy in the divine essence and makes the person of the Father to be greater and more God than the Son and the Son more God than the Holy Spirit. That’s how we see that the theological heresy of filioque and the ecclesiological heresy of Papism go hand in hand.

    Now, if the word Bishop is an essential name, what would a hypostatic name? In the application of the essence/hypostasis distincion model, the hypostases are being denoted by the names of the cities. Bishop of Alexandria, bishop of Jerusalem, bishop of Constantinople, Bishop of New York etc., these are all hypostatic names. Remember that the trinitarian model qua three persons can not be applied here. The bishops are at least as many as the cities who enjoy a bishopry. Now the question is: if all the bishops are equal qua bishops what element would give a possible primacy to a certain bishop? The answer can not but come from the hypostatic names. The city makes the primacy. Here the 34th Apostolic canon is very helpful “‘The bishops of every people are to acknowledge the first among them and regard him as their head.’ Since the bishops of a nation are all equal, who is the bishop that can be their head if not the one who presides over the most important city of that nation, usually the capital?
    The bishops differ from one another not as essence=Father but as hypostases=cities.

    And from such a reasoning personally I understand that the 28th Canon of the 4th Ecumenical Council is both ecclesiologically and dogmatically correct. That is, Rome was given the primacy of honour on account of being the capital of the empire and for no other reason.

    What do you think? Does that make sense to you?


  85. Canadian,

    what Thomas is saying applies perfectly well to territories in which Eastern Orthodoxy is already well-established: For instance, there are NO Romanian bishops assigned to the Romanian diaspora living in *Orthodox countries*. [Link]. It would be absurd to go to such a country and want to establish a parallel hierarchy, when there’s no real need to do so(!) — But to say that the same applies in no-man’s-land, where only 0.5% of the population is Orthodox, the size of “dioceses” is about the size of village-parishes, and its people are not only few in number, but dispersed over infinitely-large territories.. there’s just no comparison. (I mean, you do understand that it can’t work, except probably on paper, or in an otherwise-utopian universe, right?) 😐

    And again: how come EVERYBODY missed the uncanonicity of such a situation, in such a specific case, for whole centuries? To my knowledge, +Jonah is not the Pope here: is he -in rank and insight- above ALL other hierarchs of the Orthodox church? Oh, wait, NOW I get it: it’s ALL a huge old-country conspiracy, to rob Americans of their money, funds, and resources! (OK, not THAT explains it!) — Let’s be reasonable here, folks, shall we? 😐

    That he wants to see a powerful and united (from a worldly perspective) Orthodox church in America is perfectly fine: but insulting people and calling them names and labeling them as “heretics” is so NOT the way to achieve that! 😐


  86. And I didn’t say that *I* don’t want the Orthodox living in America (the US and Canada) to unite… I don’t live there… it’s just that I don’t see them wanting that either. (Not that they “dont’ want”, just that they don’t “want”: the thought hasn’t even crossed their minds; or -if it has- they see no real or actual reason for (or purpose to) it.. and neither do I, to be honest..)


  87. “Rome was given the primacy of honor on account of being the capital of the empire and for no other reason.”

    St Leo the Great says precisely as much, in various sermmons on the anniversaries of his become bishop of Rome on September 29, 440; indeed on one or two occasions what he says anticipates so exactly the wording of Canon 28 of Chalcedon about how “the Fathers” gave primatial privileges to Rome “because it was the imperial city” that some have speculated that Canon 28 was worded consciously invoking Leo’s language so as the better to attain his assent to it — although in fact he rejected it, and both the Eastern Emperor Marcian and the Constantinopolitan patriarch Anatolius untimately acquiesced in his rejection of it (it was a later emperor, Zeno, who promulgated it under his own authority around the time he also promulgated his famous Henotikon).

    But who were these “Fathers” and when did they give the primacy to Rome — and did they intend this primacy to pass elsewhere in the event that Rome ceased to be the imperial city? Leo has a clear answer: these “fathers” were SS. Peter & Paul, whom he compares frequently with Romulus & Remus, the founders of a pagan imperial city with a pagam “imperium” that, however glorious, was destined to pass away, while they have given Rome a Christian “imperium” which is everlasting while the world endures, and thus has no necessary link with rome’s secular political status.


  88. William,

    order and primacy are preserved even if the players are changed, replaced, or eliminated, as shown in one of my previous comments:

    – Lucifer fell away and was replaced by St. Michael;
    – Cain fell away and was replaced by Set;
    – Ismael fell away and was replaced by Isaac;
    – Esau fell away and was replaced by Jacob/Israel;
    – Reuben fell away and was replaced by Judah;
    – Israel, “the firstborn of God”, fell away and was replaced by the gentile Nations;
    – Rome fell away and was replaced by Constantinople.


  89. I doubt it:

    Dispensationalism is a Protestant evangelical tradition based on a biblical hermeneutic that sees a series of chronologically successive “dispensations” or periods in history in which God relates to human beings in different ways under different Biblical covenants.


  90. William Tighe

    You are referring to the Pope Leo’s Sermon 82 preached On the Feast of the Apostles Peter and Paul (June 29).

    At least, that’s the only sermon I know that bears some resemblance to what you wrote (if you know other sermons with similar content please post them). I say “some resemblance” because you misrepresent its content. However I have to thank you for mentioning that sermon because it proves, I believe, exactly what I wrote. Pope Leo does not say that St. Peter gave the primacy to Rome as you claimed. On the contrary, according to the Orthodox Pope Leo, St Peter, the primus inter pares among the Apostles, is associated with Rome, exactly because Rome has the primacy among the cities of the Empire and the world. Read it through the words of the Orthodox Pope Leo: “For when the twelve Apostles, after receiving through the Holy Ghost the power of speaking with all tongues, had distributed the world into parts among themselves, and undertaken to instruct it in the Gospel, the most blessed Peter, chief of the Apostolic band, was appointed to the citadel of the Roman empire, that the light of Truth which was being displayed for the salvation of all the nations, might spread itself more effectively throughout the body of the world from the head itself.” Leo is indeed clear. St. Peter founded the Church of Antioch and appointed there a bishop as well. Then why the Church of Rome has the primacy over the Church of Antioch? Because Rome’s is the Church of the capital of the Empire which rules the world.

    Leo says nothing regarding the possible passing of the primacy elsewhere. But the thing is that Constantinople was not a different city. Constantinople was Rome itself in a different geographic area. It wasn’t the transference of the capital but the transference of a city that took place when Constantine decided to change the political centre of the empire. He took Rome with him and went to Byzantium. That’s why Constantinople was called New Rome and not second Rome. It was a renewal of Rome, That’s why major changes happened in the population of Old Rome after that event resulting, among other things, to the latinization of the Liturgy which, until then, was performed in Greek.

    The Old Rome and the New Rome were sharing the same status of being both the capital of the Empire and therefore their Churches and their Bishops were enjoying the same honour. And, in practice, Constantinople’s Church was enjoying more honour on account of being the see of the emperor (for the reasons that one can find in the very same sermon of Leo when he speaks about the Old Rome)

    Consider also the following. All these are true as long as the Old Rome remained part of the empire of the Romans who ruled by divine right the world. Once the Old Rome was taken by the Franks and stopped being part of the Roman Empire and became part of the Frankish empire, the primacy of honour was restricted naturally to the New Rome alone and remains there until today. The Franks imposed their heresies on the See of Rome, they made it an instrument of their political ambitions and the See of Old Rome became not only a heretical institution but also an accomplice to the usurpers of the secular and divinely appointed authority which was in Constantinople.


  91. William Tighe,

    If I wasn’t clear enough, yes, I agree that it is very possible that the Fathers mentioned in the 28th Canon are St. Peter and St. Paul and even the rest of the Apostles guided by the Holy Spirit. As Pope Leo wrote, St. Peter was appointed to found a local Church which was to have the primacy among the other local Churches on account of being the Church of the city which already had the primacy among the cities as the capital of the Empire. The Fathers gave the primacy to the Church of the city which had already the primacy. Sometimes we create confusion when we use the words Rome and Church of Rome interchangaebly.
    Rome as city had already the primacy.


  92. The Fathers (St.Peter and St. Paul, if you want, that’s not a problem) did not create a primacy but they acknowledged an already established primacy and they conformed the ecclesiastical organisation with the political organisation.


  93. There’s one thing all here seem to be forgetting: there are distinctions among priests, deacons, and laity as well:

    – proto-priests or arch-priests, cross-bearers, eikonoms, archmandrites, belt- or girdle-bearers, etc.
    – arch-deacons or proto-deacons.
    – readers, cantors, sacristans, theologians, etc.
    – popes or patriarchs, metropolitans, arch-bishops, auxiliary bishops, chore-bishops, [cardinals], etc.


  94. Whenever I think or am reminded of such primacy-issues, my mind keeps going back to a quote I’ve read in one of Eliade’s many history-of-religion books: it is from a letter of Atilla the Hun addressed to the Pope of Rome: One God in heaven, and one king on earth: Atilla, the son of God. [Actually, whenver I think of Eliade (or Cioran, or Tarzan, or Mother Theresa of Calcutta), my phyletism sky-rockets 🙂 ]


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