Monday, May 09, 2005
Fr. John Behr
J. Anthony Cook
January 14, 2005
In all the history of the Christian Church, it is difficult to find a more controversial figure than Origen of Alexandria. He has justly been known as both a standard of Orthodoxy and a precursor of Arius, as both an ecclesiastical rebel and a pillar of the Church. That he clearly and even frequently articulated doctrines utterly opposed to sound teaching cannot be denied, yet few thinkers throughout Christian history have a larger or more esteemed body of defenders. Even after the �final� condemnation of his doctrines and writings in 553, his influence upon Christian doctrine is palpable. To use the words of a more modern advocate, Hans Urs von Balthasar: �There is no thinker in the Church who is so invisibly all-present as Origen� (von Balthasar 2). From this fact, standing unquestioned against the whole great storm of controversy surrounding him, one is forced to conclude that in some sense, the Alexandrian must exemplify the ideal in Christian theology, regardless of the final conclusions on the question of his orthodoxy.
Let us begin, then, with the controversy, which surrounds him not only from without, but from within. For Origen is controversial not only in that his teachings are frequently challenged by others, but also in that he so frequently appears to contradict himself. The doctrines attributed to him or to his followers are highly disparate, as Elizabeth Clark points out: �I was indeed tempted to title the book Origenisms in order to convey that there is neither a stable personal identity that can be definitely labeled Origen nor a uniform set of doctrines that can be called Origenism� (Clark 6).
Therefore the efforts to rehabilitate him have fertile soil in which to grow. The reality of his extant corpus and of the Origenist controversies of later centuries make it easy for his defenders to claim (with at least a degree of legitimacy) either that the heresies called by his name cannot be found in his works, or that, if they can, they were merely speculation, not dogmatic statements. For example, while it cannot be denied that Origen asserted the certainty of even the devil�s ultimate salvation in On First Principles, he himself is said to have denied teaching such a thing in a letter, stating that �only a madman could have done so� (as cited by Butterworth in the introduction to his translation of On First Principles, p. xxxix). Butterworth further explains his essential defense of the work, namely, that Origen composed it as a piece of philosophical speculation with a Christian theme, for use within the catechetical school:
�When working out a speculative theology, as in the First Principles, an author must be allowed freedom to indicate, not dogmatically but suggestively for discussion, where his principles appear to lead�.Origen may quite justly have claimed this protection, especially if it be the case, as he is said to have asserted in his letter to Fabian of Rome, that the First Principles was published in the beginning by Ambrose without his knowledge� (Butterworth xli).The arguments and defenses raised by other Origen advocates run along similar lines.
But the roster of those advocates, or at least of his admirers, reads almost like a Who�s Who list of Christian theology through the ages. And, while the specifics of their defense or admiration are intriguing, far more so is the mere fact of their existence; one is left perplexed that so many who consider themselves fully Orthodox in doctrine have undertaken to defend Origen. It leads one to conclude that, for all his faults, Origen exemplifies something profound about the proper pursuit of Christian theology, perhaps in that he managed to juggle, with a fair degree of success, two apparently contradictory elements of the Christian Faith which have all too often become polarized in subsequent centuries. For Christian theology is founded on a paradox of two simultaneous truths: that God is Infinite, Immutable, Indefinable and Perfectly Other, and that truly, He became Flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His Glory, as of the Only Begotten Son of God. Origen�s popularity with the great Church Fathers, to my mind, stems from his singular ability to speak confidently and definitely about God without ever compromising the essential indefinability of the Godhead.
First it must be stated that this characteristic of Origen�s writing is inextricably rooted in his understanding of the incarnate Christ, and of the nature of Scripture with respect to Christ, an understanding which itself begins with the essential realization that Christ is truly God, truly infinite and truly uncircumscribable. Following upon this is an identification of Scripture with the Incarnate Christ Himself. This is evident throughout Origen�s work, as in this passage, wherein he demands the same reverence for Scripture as is given to the Eucharistic Host.
�Accustomed as you are to attend the divine mysteries, you know how carefully you receive the body of the Lord and reverently make sure that no particle drops to the ground, lest anything of the consecrated gift be lost�. But if you exercise such concern in taking care of his body�and indeed with every right�how can you think it a less crime to neglect the WORD of God than his body?� (von Balthasar 263).Implied in this identification is the realization that words about God, and most particularly Scripture itself, partake in the uncircumscribability of the Godhead. One cannot finally and completely plumb the depths of Scripture, just as one can never plumb the depths of God Himself. As Robert Daly says in the forward to his translation of Origen: Spirit and Fire,
�Jesus Christ the WORD incarnate, is central to Origen�s concept of Scripture�because for him, the WORD was incarnated not only in the flesh of the historical Jesus, but also in the very words of scripture. This is what Origen has in mind when he says that the meaning of all scripture, of the Old as well as of the New Testament, is Jesus Christ� (von Balthasar xiii).If Christ is incarnated in the �very words of Scripture,� then those words have taken on a meaning greater than can ever be grasped by the mind of man. If understanding is to be attained, it must be mystically, in the intimacy of a spiritual love, not by means of the rational faculties. John Behr points this out in his book The Way to Nicaea:
�The difference [to Origen] between seeing Jesus as an ordinary man and contemplating him transfigured in divine glory is that of merely reading the words of Scripture, expressed in the common idiom, and understanding their divine content� (Behr 180).Hence Origen approaches Scripture not merely as an exegete and grammateus, but as a mystic, acutely conscious that in it he approaches God Himself. Therefore he claims for himself as an exegete the words of Isaiah come face to face with the Lord �sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up� (Isaiah 6:2).
�I pray that the Seraph be sent to me as well, and taking a coal with tongs may cleanse my lips... But I fear that by running after evil I have soiled my feat...Who then cleanses me? Who washes my feat? O Jesus, come, I have soiled feet. Become a slave on my account, put your water in a basin, come, wash my feat� (Is. 6.2 [264.12-27]). ( as quoted by Daniel Sheerin, in Kannengieser and Petersen, pg. 212).It is from this acute awareness of the incarnatory nature of Scripture that Origen�s unique approach is born. This approach underlies everything he does (including even On First Principles), and is simultaneously that which is most valuable about his work, and that which most confuses critics and advocates alike. It is the indispensable foundation of any study of Origen, as von Balthasar says:
�There is first, occupying a broad range in his thought, his insight into the essence of scripture as the great sacrament of the real presence of the divine WORD in the world. Only the person who understands what this presence means for Origen will also find some access to what today is often with such utter shallowness and superficiality written off as �allegorizing�� (von Balthasar 10).Thus having established Origen�s modus operandi, as it were, we can examine the manner in which he perceived its application. Pursuant to this, Patricia Cox Miller provides a valuable quote from his first Homily on Exodus:
�I think each word of divine scripture is like a seed whose nature is to multiply diffusely.... Its increase is proportionate to the diligent labor of the skillful farmer or the fertility of the earth.� (Kannengiesser and Petersen, pg. 167-8).In On First Principles, he elaborated further on this theme:
�One must therefore pourtray [sic] the meaning of the sacred writings in a threefold way upon one�s own soul, so that the simple man may be edified by what we may call the flesh of the scripture, this name being given to the obvious interpretation; while the man who has made some progress may be edified by its soul, as it were; and the man who is perfect and like those mentioned by the apostle: �We speak wisdom among the perfect; yet a wisdom not of this world, nor of the rulers of this world, which are coming to nought; but we speak God�s wisdom in a mystery, even the wisdom that hath been hidden, which God foreordained before the worlds unto our glory��this man may be edified by the spiritual law, which has �a shadow of the good things to come�. For just as man consists of body, soul and spirit, so in the same way does the scripture, which has been prepared by God to be given for man�s salvation� (First Principles 4.2.4).Joseph Trigg clarifies what is meant here:
�His intent was not to say that each passage has precisely three meanings, but that Scripture meets the needs of rational creatures at different levels of progress. Some passages, indeed, have no bodily sense, even though all have a spiritual sense. This is because God�s Logos has, in fact, so �planned� the Scriptures as to include �snares, obstacles, and� even �impossibilities� to force the intelligent interpreter to get beyond the obvious sense of the text� (Trigg 33).The logical conclusions of this approach produced the inconsistencies which so greatly plague those who seek to determine what Origen really believed, once all the philosophizing was stripped away. For Origen was not interested in abstractions, as Behr points out.
�Origen�s contemplation of Christ does not proceed by analyzing the constituent parts of his being. Rather, it develops by looking at how Christ is described in Scripture, where a single subject is spoken of in both divine and human terms... Moreover, although these �natures� can be differentiated conceptually, in Christ they exist together: �if it thinks of God, it sees a man; if it thinks of a man, it beholds one returning from the dead.�� (Behr 198).Hence the short answer to the question is that Origen believed in Jesus Christ, Incarnate, Crucified, and Risen, truly God and truly Man, Uncircumscribable yet Circumscribed, eternally united with the Father and the Spirit yet the very foundation and life of all Creation. Even the critics cannot complain of this. The problem is the long answer, dealing with all the implications of the above: e.g., that this Jesus Christ is not an abstraction or a Platonic form, but a True Person, and hence that knowledge of Him is a matter of maturity and growth, developing, as it were, from glory to glory in the man or woman of Faith�statements which, if true, mean that what seems unassailably true to the neophyte Christian will not necessarily remain so as he grows in Christ, even as what a child knows of its mother or father at the age of two will not remain �true� when that child is twenty. Indeed, it is a philosophical truth that �every stage of maturity in existence has its corresponding stage of truth� (von Balthasar 17).
But to this philosophical truth corresponds the theological one that the WORD of God in its incarnation adapts itself to each of these stages of existence and thus becomes all to all. That a kind of truth-relativism can come from this, that in the adventure of its divine metamorphoses the WORD can go astray and �lie,� Origen was already accused of this by Celsus. But the fact of this existential relativism of truth is, as such, not to be denied, not even the esotericism of truth that follows from it. But Origen correctly emphasizes that the WORD, the personal, absolute and sole truth, does not become a liar by its adaptation to different stages of maturity. Otherwise childhood and the age of youth would be lies as such because they are not adulthood. Otherwise �milk� would be poisonous because it is not �solid food.� Or, as Origen once said in a paradoxical and Hegelian way: because something is not true does not automatically mean that it is false. For there is a third possibility: to be an indicator or analogy pointing to the truth.� (von Balthasar 17).It is this principle which guided Origen�s theologizing, and most particularly his evangelistic work. Even as Christ has become �all in all� for us, just as Paul was made all things to all people, that he might by any means save some, so too did Origen go out into the highways and byways, seeking those who might be saved.
Henri Crouzel has pointed out the peculiarities of Origen�s �school� at Antioch, of which Gregory Thaumaturgus speaks in his Address to Origen, noting that the programme of study �leaves out almost everything peculiar to Christianity and only reproduces the doctrines that can be enunciated in philosophical terms� (Crouzel 27). This is particularly strange, he notes, since Origen is known for his devotion to the name of Jesus and his dogmatic insistence upon the importance of the Incarnation. He goes on to explain:
�Following A. Knauber we think that the school of Caesarea was more a kind of missionary school, aimed at young pagans who were showing an interest in Christianity but were not yet ready, necessarily, to ask for baptism: Origen was thus introducing these to Christian doctrine through a course in philosophy, mainly inspired by Middle Platonism, of which he offered them a Christian version. If his students later asked to become Christians, they had then to receive catecheticial [sic] teaching in the strict sense� (Crouzel 27-8).Hence Origen undertook not simply to indoctrinate his disciples in the specifics of the Faith, but to lead them from the mindset in which they had been raised to the point at which they might more perfectly understand the coming of Christ into the world, developing the intellect, instincts, temperament and very heart of a Hellenistic Roman citizen of the third century into those of a fully, deeply and devotedly Christian Man.
An awareness of this proclivity in Origen helps illumine his entire corpus. It is no wonder that it contains so many apparent contradictions, no wonder that, as Scott says, �Origen had very little interest in the internal consistency of his propositions� (Scott 121). He knew that Scripture defied definition. In the Sacred Text, he met the Bridegroom of the Church, as he said in his Homily on the Song of Songs:
�The bride beholds the Bridegroom; and He, as soon as she has seen Him, goes away. He does this frequently throughout the Song; and that is something nobody can understand who has not suffered it himself. God is my witness that I have often perceived the Bridegroom drawing near me and being most intensely present with me; then suddenly He has withdrawn and I could not find Him, though I sought to do so. I long, therefore, for Him to come again, and sometimes He does so. Then, when He has appeared and I lay hold of Him, He slips away once more; and, when He has so slipped away, my search for Him begins anew� (Song of Songs 1.7, as quoted by Miller in Kannengieser and Petersen, pg. 174).Theology for him was an intensely mystical experience. Hence, perhaps, what he wrote of Scripture and of God is analogous to the process in integral calculus of calculating the area beneath a curve defined by a certain function. The student is shown how one may superimpose rectangles of a constant width onto the curve in order to estimate the area�and as the width of those rectangles decreases, the true solution is approached. Origen is aware that anything he might say about God is no more accurate than those rectangles, and as a result he makes no effort to define the absolute truth about God. To quote Patricia Cox Miller:
�Origen wrote in the Philocalia that if ��the world is unable to contain the books that would be written� [Jn. 21:25] concerning the divinity of Jesus, it is not because of the number of books but because of the greatness of the realities which can�t be said in human language.� Ironically, Origen uses words in order to say that he can�t use words!� (Miller in Kannengieser and Petersen, pg. 174-5).Hence there is no Theological Calculus whereby God may be explained�and if it is possible to know Him, it is only through the life of prayer, in the mystical vision.
It is in this awareness that Origen�s ultimate value is found. His understanding of the reality of God is the same as that of the apophatic theologians who followed him centuries later. His work remains valuable precisely because in the final analysis, it is, and claims to be, only an indication of the deeper Truth that is Jesus Christ. His final defense may be put in the words of T.S. Eliot:
That was a way of putting it�not very satisfactory:
von Balthasar, Hans Urs. Origen: Spirit and Fire. Trans Robert J. Daly, S.J.
Washington, D.C. The Catholic University of America Press, 1984.
Behr, John. The Way to Nicaea. Crestwood, New York: St. Vladimir�s Seminary
Butterworth, B.W., trans. Origen: On First Principles. Introduction by Henri De
Lubac. Gloucester, Mass. Peter Smith, 1973.
Clark, Elizabeth A. The Origenist Controversy. Princeton, New Jersey. Princeton University Press, 1992.
Crouzel, Henri. Origen. Trans. A.S. Worrall. San Francisco. Harper & Row, 1989.
Eliot, T.S. Four Quartets. San Diego/New York. Harcourt, Inc., 1971, orig. 1943.
Kannengiesser, Charles and William L. Petersen, eds. Origen of Alexandria: His
World and His Legacy. Notre Dame, Indiana. University of Notre Dame Press,
Scott, Alan. Origen and the Life of the Stars. Oxford. Clarendon Press, 1991.
Trigg, Joseph W. Origen. London and New York. Routledge, 1998.
Sunday, August 17, 2003
Still more on Anglicanism vs. Orthodoxy: first from the longwinded Peter Geromel, with a brief reply from me. This will have to suffice until I get to Boston and again have time to devote myself to such things as theology. For the next week and a half, my life is medical files and sleep, then packing. *sigh* Such is life. Work first, then play.
First, I would like to tell you, again, that there are Anglicans who are
fully canonical Eastern Orthodox worshipping according to their rites and
traditions. 1 out of every 10 Antiochian parish is a Western-rite parish. I refer you
Next, I will begin with my third reason why modern Eastern Orthodox are
acting like protestants. There is a tendency, very prevalent, to see the Church,
the bride of Christ, as something reserved as holy and blameless like Israel
was. This must be a majorly "pure" community that has held within itself the ark
of tradition or salvation and truth. Let us get real. There is an assumption
for the Eastern Orthodox is that Christ will never let it err and, even if it
does err in small ways, it will always be the "Orthodox" Church until the end
of time. There is no special power that Christ gives to one special Church, so,
although it errs in small ways, it never errs completely. Every church errs
and therefore is equally imperfect as sin is equally to our condemnation no
matter how small. If the canonical EO has ever been wrong, it has been just as
wrong as any other Church, ontologically speaking. It is not the pure bride of
Christ as a body of believers. It can only hope to PARTICIPATE in the Bride of
Christ as it exists in the mind of God.
--- One church may remain steadfast to the Tradition better than another but
here is the problem: The Eastern Orthodox is claimed to be right because its
tradition is kept whole and pure. Its tradition is kept whole and pure because
it is the Orthodox Church. If it did not, it would no longer be the Orthodox
Church... someplace else would be the Orthodox Church, someplace else that kept
and affirmed the tradition untainted. So the Orthodox Church refers to
wherever the Orthodox Faith is continued - not necessarily in any one communion or
body, as you well know. The logic is innately one of participation, a Church is
not holy because God sets it aside as always Holy and thus infallible, It is
THE ORTHODOX CHURCH because it participates in and corresponds to the Orthodox
Faith. And yet, there is a tendency, especially in America to make it seem as
if the Orthodox Faith is pure simply because it is the Orthodox Church and
the Orthodox Church is the Orthodox Church because it is pure. It is a cyclical
argument. The OC is pure only because it is the OC and the OC by definition is
always pure. Therefore wherever a Christian community is pure or right
believing, there is the Orthodox Church. It is not the pure Church because it is the
canonical Eastern Orthodox Church, as you well know. We are not promised that
the Eastern Orthodox Communion continue forever. We are only promised that
the True Faith of Christ will continue forever.
--- EO's tend to look as Calvinists do for an untainted body of believers.
You say that EO has been wrong in the past, but it continues to be pure. Things
do not work in this simple way. Certainly EO repented of its wrong actions,
but it is still not this simple repentence that keeps it pure.
--- This is how things really work. I must make it clear that every Apostolic
Church is called, for example, the Greek Orthodox Catholic Church, the Roman
Orthodox Catholic Church, etc. There is a very good reason for this. In the
Early Church, there were orthodox congregations literally right next to gnostic
congregations. These real Christians identified themselves as Orthodox. But
they identified themselves as something else, Catholic. Catholic, as you know,
refers to a biological term for something of the same biological family. It
explains the variety of plants but the uniformity, the universality, of order and
form. This Orthodox Catholic duality is very important. They seem to be
synonymous and redundant but they are not. The Catholic refers, as I said, to the
order and form... it refers to physical look and body. Orthodox refers to right
belief and intellectual recognition of the Truth. Together they are two
halves of a whole. You have here the whole person, the whole bride. You have body
and soul, or in older Greek philosophical language, body and mind.
--- In the Early Church, these Orthodox Catholic congregations, or
bishoprics, were all over the world, having many different languages, traditions, and
philosophical explanations of the Faith. The Eastern Orthodox trace their
Orthodoxy all over the place Geographically, wherever the True Faith was - as well
they should. But they woefully believe that all the Apostolic churches
elsewhere to have fallen into error. That is only because the Greek Church decided
that if other Churches were not proclaiming the Faith in the same way as they,
using the same philosophical language system as they, then it was wrong. One
example of this is the Desert Fathers' tradition. The Desert Fathers in Egypt
were Coptic Orthodox Christians. Their theological language system was that of
the Syrians. The EO claims that The Orthodox Church is in Egypt and it is
claimed that suddenly after the 4th council it is no longer there. Sorry, the Desert
Fathers given a chance, given their tradition of explaining the Faith, would
most likely have affirmed that there was one nature in the word made flesh -
thus they were monophysites and "heretics". The best example of this is St.
Cyril of Alexandria who, dying a couple of years before the 4th council, did not
get kicked out of the Church after the 4th council, but all the bishops who
were trained and influenced by him and went to the same seminary as he did were
kicked out. It is known beyond a shadow of a doubt that he would have been
considered a Monophysite but supposedly all his friends are heretics and yet he
is a Saint. It is not that the Egyptian Church fell into heresy over the short
period of two years but that the Greek Church had a disagreement about a
explanation of the same Christological belief and they had more votes than the
other bishops. These monophysite bishops did not acquiesce to their explanation
and were voted out of the "Church"... But as can be shown this does not matter a
damn as to whether they are really Orthodox, because Orthodoxy is not
submitting to one group of bishops with more votes than everybody else.. though it
might be nice if it worked that way. It is a matter of participating in one
--- These Churches all confirmed, despite those varying explanations, the
same Faith. This, like the day of Pentecost itself, was the undoing of the Tower
of Babel. We do not undo the Tower of Babel by making the whole Church
understand the Orthodox Faith in a Byzantine way, through Greek theological language
systems. We undo it by looking the devil right in the Face and proclaiming the
Faith in multiple languages and explanations. I.E. it is not a physical,
outward, and readily noticeable appearance of unity, but an inward and spiritual
unity of belief. This spiritual refers to the dual definition of mind and soul
- my spirit (my mind/soul incomprehensibly) affirms the Creed first and
foremost and not my outward tongue (being able to "wrap my tongue around the words
and language" and understanding the words with my physical/rational mind).
Therefore, the Apostolic Faith and Creeds is a simple language proclaiming those
things which are beyond words. (And by the way, the Eastern Orthodox have
recognized the 4th ecumenical council as a misunderstanding of language and
philosophical systems and right now Copts may receive under partial communion in the
United States - although the proclamation of Chalcedon is still perfectly
--- So we have the dichotomy of Orthodox Catholic referring to right Body and
Soul. This is very helpful, Catholic is the "outward and visible sign of the
inward and spiritual grace" (Anglican definition of Sacrament, identical with
that of the Non-Chalcedonian Syrian Orthodox "Holy Sacraments are tangible
signs designated by the Lord Christ to proclaim divine grace"
http://www.flash.net/~malel/SOChruch.htm). This grace gives the power to believe unearthly
things, the Orthodox things. In this way, I can look at an Anglican Church across
the street and say, that parish, because of its woman priestess at the altar is
not Orthodox (Neither would it be Catholic if it had a priestess, but that is
not the point). I say instead that this is only a gnostic church that worships
in an Anglican way (sometimes they don't even do that).
--- Orthodox and Catholic are just as important as one another. The form and
order provides the grace to have faith in the Orthodox truth. The form and
order can still be there and the belief can be false - this would be a lights are
on, nobody is home situation. Another situation is this, an ELCA lutheran
"bishop" dresses up in miter and crozier, but he has not apostolic succession, he
has not been consecrated and ordered to receive the divine grace, the real
'clothing' of his body has not been touched and ordered. This falls into my next
--- I unfortunately must call you a third heresy, a Donatist. Miss Eleanor
Pettus at Hillsdale (Fr. [of blessed memory] and Mrs. Berger's granddaughter),
an Anglican misplaced in Lutheranism, said to me something to the effect that
the apostolic order must not work because it allowed Bishop Spong to operate
unimpeded (somehow a Lutheran synod of pastors democratically excommunicating
would work better -go figure). Next she said that it seemed to her that a man
who denied the Faith must lose his authoritative grace and must go through
something to get that grace back. I, point blank, said that this was Donatism. You
yourself said that if there was not a continuous chain of Orthodox bishops
then this would not qualify the English Church to have maintained an Orthodox
remnant throughout its history. This is not the way things work. I should have
pointed out to Eleanor that her own Augsburg Confessions declare against
Donatism that the worthiness of a minister does not depend on his own grace but on
the merits of Christ. The 39 Articles also declare this, as do the Church
Fathers. I made the argument that there might have been an Orthodox remnant in
England to humor you, not because I really care.
--- This is why I do not care. Even if the Anglican Church did not maintain
its Orthodox beliefs for say, 300 yrs after the reformation and until the
Oxford Movement they could regrasp their Orthodox belief and be perfectly Orthodox
later on. This is possible because the Anglican Church retained its Catholic
Order. As I have found time and time again, retainment of one's Catholic Order
naturally leads one back to Orthodox belief. In the same way, the Nestorians
who at one point may have had a bad way of describing Christology, now no
longer cling to something any different than what the Universal Christology
believes - namely, true God and true Man and not two Hypostases and two ousia. Maybe
they were heretics before and it can be argued that they have found the right
belief again, their maintaining right order now makes them Orthodox Catholic
again (if indeed they ever were not).
--- Furthermore, when one is consecrated a bishop, one is "ordered" in a
certain way. One is ordered in a physical/spiritual way to be a certain kind of
vessel for divine grace. And "Thou art a priest forever after the ORDER of
Melchizadek". The Church recognized this and at the council of Nicea insisted that
three bishops stand in consecration of a bishop because the physical touching
and formation through grace was so important for the maintainance of Orthodox
belief. The belief is important, but I would hazard to guess that the ordering
is more important. This is the basis of Orthodox belief about baptism and
other sacraments, you do it when the faithful are children because the
intellectual explanation is not as important as the ordering, which assists right
belief. It is grace that gives us intellectual understanding, not understanding that
gives us grace!
--- Let us say this, if we make a regular Mario into a Fireball Mario, we
have changed the order and form and the abilities of the Mario. A Fireball Mario,
(the Fireballs will be the Holy Ghost dividing the word of Truth so we shall
call him Bishop Fireball Mario), Bp. Fireball Mario may not use his fireballs
correctly. That would not cease to make him a Bp. Fireball Mario, that would
make him a bad one. He might be blinded by bad beliefs and shoot Luigi with
fireballs and not the bad guys or he might not use them all. This does not change
the order. This is why the Church has made it quite clear that if the right
form is used to change the order of the person to receive certain grace, than
the belief does not have to be there to continue Apostolic Succession. Remember
also that this Succession is the new covenant continuation of the
geneological lines of the tribe of Levi which made one a priest no matter if one turned
around and worshipped Ba'al. A bishop might be a bad brick in the wall of the
faithful, but he is still a brick. He might be analogous to a bad "human being"
but the bad human being can still beget another human being.
--- The extension of what Donatism really means deep down comes from the
issue of baptism. Baptism is a reordering of the fallen nature. It is done once
according to the Nicene Creed because that reordering is taken care of the first
time. It does not mean that the person will be sanctified for the rest of his
life. He has only been ordered to receive certain grace. If he refuses it
later then he's damned or he repents later and ascribes once again to the
Orthodox belief - this is precipitated by grace, of course. Rebaptism is Donatism and
just happens to be exactly what the Baptists do. The problem Baptists have is
the idea that intellectual belief is more important than the action that
infuses grace. A Baptist says, "you didn't believe in Jesus well enough the first
time. You do now, so let's baptise you." Unfortunately, the EO requires
re-chrismation and re-ordination. (5th reason why EO in its present state is too
protestant) This is bad because it denies the power of the previous ordering and
since that power is God, it denies the power of God. Catholic Christians
should not be treated like normal methodists when they accept the Orthodox faith
and go under an EO bishop. I have heard that the Oriental Orthodox also do this
and this is unfortunate. OO may even require rebaptism. Conditional
re-baptism, re-chrismation, and re-ordination is ok... conditional is just making sure
and it takes on more the practicality becoming a vassel of that bishop. In the
Anglican Church I think we deal with it in the exact right way. If you have
already been baptised and confirmed elsewhere you are "received". For us,
confirmation is not only understood in the Lutheran way of accepting the baptismal
vows yourself as well as becoming an "adult" member of the church, which seems
a little Calvinist to me, but the receiving of the Holy Ghost. The Confirmand
is affirming his beliefs and the bishop is confirming it - the Chrismation oil
goes with it. Although some form of chrismation oil is also applied during
baptism (which is a recent superfluousity that needs to be worked out). But
again, the EO way of dealing with "converts" is wrong. It is a Baptist kind of
thing because it says that you have not believed in Jesus the right way so we
must order you the right way again. Therefore, your whole view of submitting to
the Orthodox faith is screwed up. The Catholic ordering comes first and then
the Orthodox Faith follows. Anglicans emphasize Apostolic Faith and Catholic
Order... this makes us Orthodox. Since the Orthodox Faith is participated in and
not actually being, (you may participate in a form, be remade in the image of
an order, be a member of it, but no church can BE the form), one who has
Catholic Order may attain by grace to the Orthodox belief, (excluding the false
belief that the Eastern Orthodox Church embodies wholly and exclusively that
In Christ, I write this to all my friends,
Unfortunately, I am tremendously under the gun for the next two weeks
before I leave for seminary in Boston, and lack the time to respond to your
email in detail. Two brief points.
The Orthodox argument is not circular. Those local churches which remain
Orthodox are those which have retained valid apostolic succession in keeping
the Faith. Those local churches which once fell into heresy but are now
accounted Orthodox were accepted back by Orthodox Bishops, thus renewing the
apostolic succession you speak so much about. To the best of my knowledge
this is our claim. Many in America may claim otherwise, that the Orthodox
Church holds true doctrine because it is the Orthodox Church because it
holds true doctrine etc. ad infinitum....but this is not true. The Church in
America could easily fall away and cease to be Orthodox. It is that which we
who have embraced this faith seek to prevent.
Your argument that I am a Donatist does not stand, to the best of my
knowledge. The Donatists were condemned for schism, not for the "heresy" of
denying that a fallen, sinful man could still serve valid sacraments. Their
error was refusing to extend the grace usually extended by the Church for
human weakness to those who had succumbed briefly to persecution. And,
indeed, the Orthodox of the time did not accept the Donatist sacraments as
legitimate, as they would have were your argument accurate. We could argue
this back and forth, I suppose. But let it suffice to include two quotes.
First, St. Augustine: Around 418 he wrote to the Donatist bishop of
Caesarea, Emeritus: "Outside the church you may have everything except
salvation. You may have offices, Sacraments, Liturgy, Gospel, belief, and
preaching, in the name of the Trinity; but you can only find salvation in
the Catholic Church" (from the CCEL Dictionary of Christian Biography and
Second, St. Basil, from his first Canon, included in the Canons of the Sixth
Ecumenical Council: "Even though the departure began through schism,
however, those departing from the Church already lacked the grace of the
Holy Spirit. The granting of grace has ceased because the lawful succession
has been cut. Those who left first were consecrated by the Fathers and
through the laying on of their hands had the spiritual gifts. But, they
became laymen and had no power to baptize nor to ordain and could not
transmit to others the grace of the Holy Spirit from which they themselves
fell away. Therefore, the ancients ruled regarding those that were coming
from schismatics to the Church as having been baptized by laymen, to be
cleansed by the true baptism of the Church" (taken from this site,
an essay on the Orthodox methods of receiving converts. A very educational
read, if you're curious what I would probably say if I had the time).
Hence, as I have said before, if the Anglicans have any claim to be a
legitimate Church, they must demonstrate that they have a true line of
Apostolic Succession, as defined in that Canon. If such cannot be
demonstrated, then the Orthodox Church, if she is to remain faithful to the
Apostolic Tradition, must continue to receive such converts as may come as
she has heretofore.
With all brotherly love, though mingled with mild frustration and haste,
J. Anthony Cook
Tuesday, August 12, 2003
This morning I received a lengthy email from another Anglican friend from Hillsdale, Peter Geromel, further outlining the Anglican claims to be a legitimate Church. His email--and my response--are posted below. For ease of reading, his comes first.
Here is what I have to say and I pray I do not mislead you with any false
I must say that the steps that you say must be taken for an Anglican
congregation to enter canonical Eastern Orthodoxy again have already been done. The
Moscow Synod under +Tykon looked at the book of common prayer and with a few
changes accepted it into practice for evangelizing America. A few changes, such a
stronger epiclesis were attached. These are not a problem really, they are
just "safer". I must make the point that your views about the distraction that
ecumenism brings is selfish and ecclesiastical isolationism. May I point out,
that although our salvation should be our primary goal, the way we establish
salvation within ourselves is not only by personal mysticism but by literally
touching the outside world, by establishing order in disorder, not hiding our
light under a bushel. (Three arguments as to why EO in its present zeitgeist are
protestants. 1) the only universal definition of protestantism is that it is
a church that protests the supremacy of the Bp. of Rome and thus EO is a
protestant church - a cheap shot, I know. 2) this tendency to want to be safe,
reveals an unfortunate desire to not touch the world. Things must be touched to be
healed. tobacco, drinking, etc. all must be touched to be healed from its
fallen state by Christ through us his servants. A floppy bible Christian does not
want to touch these things, but to remain safe. An EO Christian does not seem
to want to endanger losing a tradition by touching other traditions, thus
perhaps losing the purity of their sanctifying system of theosis, (sort of
pharaisical when you consider the parable of the good Samaritan). I agree that one
must be careful to change things of tradition lest one lose something that was
there for a good reason. This is dangerous, but danger is our middle names as
Christian Soldiers! 3) I can't remember the third point.)
A church that is tainted with heresy must be touched to be healed. It can not
simply become exactly like the other "C"hurch just to become safely Orthodox.
If you do make it exactly like the other Church, you may lose an important
part of another tradition that is both Orthodox and helpful to all. And, it goes
against the nature of the ever-expanding light of Christ to simply suck in
other Christians to make them good Byzantine boys and girls. That is not
expansion, in my mind, it is more like a black hole. But I doubt that you can see my
perspective. This touching to heal, to expell the heresy from the Anglican
tradition, is the mission for an Anglo-Catholic like myself. Thus we will not
lose anything Orthodox by dropping our treasure chest of our 1700 years of
English Christianity to go be good Ortho-boys and girls.
--- When I describe myself, I describe myself as an Orthodox Catholic of the
Anglican Tradition. Interestingly, enough, when I speak to a Copt they
describe themselves as Orthodox Christians of the Coptic Tradition. I like the
Oriental Orthodox because they really believe Branch Theory as far as the theory is
important to me. If the EO can acknowledge the Copts as Orthodox, they MUST
acknowledge the Orthodox of the Anglican tradition as such. There really is no
---- One of your objections is that the liturgy is not consistently Orthodox
all the way through. I do not know if you concur with this objection of yours
or simply say that such an objection exists. I understand that such an
objection to the Anglican Rite exists. The Anglican Rite in its present state is a
quite interesting history. Let me just say that no liturgy is without some
change as it evolves through history, organically as you put it. The Anglican Rite
is organic, it grew, simply put. Anything that evolves unless it deviates
essentially from a previous form, is organic. The point of any liturgy, as you
well know, is that it is essentially correct and has all the proper and essential
points in it necessary for a Eucharistic liturgy - it must have the same
"form" as every other liturgy. The Anglican Rite has this. Furthermore, it is not,
as you might believe an Orthodox liturgy, that turned into a Roman liturgy,
that turned into a reformation liturgy. It is a continuous chain of liturgies
from the Gallican Rite, to the York Rite, to the Sarum Rite, to the Book of
Common Prayer. And this is scandalously simply put. All of these liturgies were
indigenously English. Cramner, when developing the Book of Common Prayer, even
looked back to the Liturgy of St. James to make sure that the Sarum Rite that
he was translating and editing corresponded to the earliest liturgy in form
and such and making additions to make it fit the universal form - including both
an ascending (Roman/Sarum style) epiclesis and a descending (Eastern)
epiclesis - perhaps just to be on the safe side.
--- Next, as to your belief that the English church "became" heretical after
the Norman Conquest - I find it interesting that you say that those who were
"Orthodox" went to Roumania and Byzantium after the Norman Conquest. I have
never heard this, although I would not be surprised that the Saxons did leave and
go not only from Denmark but from England to Roumania. As I understand it, a
Roumanian ruler asked for help (just as Vortigern once asked help from the
Saxons), to defend Roumania against the muslims??? I assume these Saxons are the
persons you refer to who left England to escape what you describe as the
Romanizing of England. Interestingly, the Saxons, of course, were evangelized by an
earlier Roman ecclesiastical invasion under St. Augustine of Canterbury - an
action sanctioned by a Bp. of Rome who believed himself to be Supreme, if I am
not mistaken. So, that sets your date for the heretical prosletyzing of
England at 600 A.D. These Saxons, as I understand it, used the completely English
liturgy of York. The Sarum Usage was instituted under Norman Bishops. But even
this is extremely Eastern and Orthodox. Remember that although the Normans
might be called Franks, they were from Normandy, near Brittany and could have
been more accustomed to a Celtic style liturgy. The Celtic or Gallican liturgy
comes almost at an embryonic developmental stage to Iraneaus' church in Lyon
from the Asia Minor tradition under which he was taught. (Another reason why our
Apostolic Succession is extremely sound, coming not only from Rome but from
Turkey). The Sarum Usage is extremely Eastern, including not only a rood screen
(western Iconostasis) with very proper Icons (these icons continued through
the Celtic, Saxon and Norman regimes) and with Curtains over the rood screen
and sanctuary at all times or at certain times, such as lent when all icons and
the sanctuary itself would be covered. The Sarum Usage also included fans! for
the deacons to use during consecration. Such things also existed in Ireland.
These are not "Roman" things. Such things continued in a very non-uniform
(allowing for various diocesan and parish traditions) right up to the reformation.
---- Next, as to these bishops after the Norman period being completely
"heretical" and endorsing the supremacy of the Patriarch of Rome. It was never
universal. Remember, please, that before the fall of Constantinople and after that
in Russia - Papal Supremacy is opposed by an ecclesiology that includes a
singular symbolic head known as the Emperor. In Europe all through the Middle
Ages, and especially in the borderlands of the Roman Empire, the rights of a King
versus the rights of the Pope were often fought over. This understanding of
the King as somewhat authoritative on some issues in the Church is perfectly
consistent with Orthodox ecclesiology, unless we are nit picking. Both
traditions of seeing the King as the one who sits at judgement at a council, but
perhaps staying relatively quiet, or reserving the right to pick bishops, yada yada,
although one can argue over what exact rights the King has, is something that
is consistent with Orthodox ecclesiology and comes from the way Constantine
endorsed the Church. Remember that the pagan Saxon king sat in judgement at the
Synod of Whitby. Many Bishops backed the kings against the supremacy of the
Pope and almost all if not all did back the king when it came to the
Reformation. Some bishops in England and elsewhere in Europe were just as uncertain as
any Ortho how much power the Pope really had, again unless we are really really
really nit picking.
--- Therefore, knowing the nature of parishes that are isolated, where a
bishop rarely visits, and that holds traditions as they hold the Faith itself, I
can safely say that there were always parishes that were not "hereticified" by
the Normans, Saxons, or some secret spies from the Vatican - from the earliest
times all the way to the reformation. Furthermore, there were bishops all the
way through, especially in isolated Celtic areas, if not in isolated Saxon
areas, that did not endorse Papal Supremacy or any of those things. They stayed,
they did not all pick up and move to the New Jerusalem at Constantinople.
Therefore, up until the reformation we have good evidence to say that there was
an Orthodox "underground" or remnant in England the whole time. I can project
that this was the case by knowing the nature of churches in general and by the
actions and stances that bishops tended to take. This, you must admit, is a
very hard point to prove. The records showing how individual bishops felt about
Papal Supremacy, Purgatory, etc. are hard to find. Even if the "in" bishops
endorsed such things, there are always dissenters who do not "stoop" to playing
politics and getting in good with the king. We do know that there were
priests' riots over the orders from Rome to be celibate and that priests continued to
marry in isolated areas for years. Do you think a deliberate neglect of a
Papal command would be disobeyed if every priest believed the Pope to be Supreme?
--- Nevertheless, speaking about the nature of the Church, how can the
Church, in its undivided sense, be geographically located. It can be very noticeable
one place or in one communion, but there are many times when Orthodox bishops
have subsisted in many places among outnumbering heretics (this is actually
more the norm). The distance from England to the East is far and communication
confused even today and so how can one expect a bishop in England to be in
communion with a Church that he truly agrees with (if enough contact allowed such
things to be agreed upon) and to be official and canonically in comminion
with it and not simply be in communion with the "True Church" as it exists in the
mind of God? I.E. if a bishop in Scotland were "really Orthodox" how could he
"submit" to Constantinople. It is mind-bogglingly impossible to build such
relations. The best thing to do is what we do today in the Anglican churches, we
submit ourselves to a truly Orthodox bishop within our Traditition and say to
Hell with the heretics of today - Where the (Orthodox) bishop is, there is
the Church. This is all one can do. Basically, for a laymen to be Orthodox in
England during the Middle Ages he could not be in communion with Constantinople,
he could, however, be under a right believing Bishop or Abbot. Which happened
all the time. The English Church during the middle ages was never completely
"heretical". Those who endorsed Papal Supremacy may not have even understood
it as Romans today would or as the Italian bishops hanging around Rome during
the Middle Ages did. Remember France saw Papal Supremacy as simply a way to
make Italian bishops better than everybody else (England and elsewhere often felt
the same way), thus they turned it around on Rome with the Avignon popes.
(The Orthodox Church is never Geographic, those who are not heretics and are
truly Orthodox are all over the place. The battle of Christ and Satan is fought
over and over again, parish by parish, like the cities of France during the War
of the Roses. Sometimes this parish in this location is right-believing,
sometimes it is not. You really must give up this Fairy Tale view of the Eastern
Church. The Orthodox believers were sometimes here and sometimes there and never
in all the East all the time and Western churchmen were not all heretics
after a certain point. And in the same way the case can be made that in far off
England as well as areas of France, Germany and Scandinavia the same was true.
--- During the Reformation, there were three schools of thought. "Catholic",
Lutheran, and Calvinist. The Bishops of England all agreed to leave the see of
Rome. The "Catholic" bishops, with Henry VIII, wrote the ten articles - which
outlined almost all the things that made England Orthodox, rejecting what you
would object to in the Roman Church. The Lutheran school took over and was
debating with the Calvinist side. Lutheran Theology, if understood not in the
way Lutherans do today, but as it was first put forth is pretty Orthodox. German
Lutherans lack the understanding of Bishops! But England never accepted all
of Luther's theology. Despite the failure of talks between Lutherans and EOs -
Anglicans use a lot of Lutheran language but expound a pretty Orthodox view of
things - if you read the Articles of Religion correctly. All that the
Lutheran Anglicans did was make it clear that Roman extremist practices, that they
saw in England, but moreover had heard about in the continent, would cease.
These Roman extremes u would object to and these Lutheran Anglicans expounded a
much more mystical view on the sacraments, fighting the Anglican "Catholic"
party who wanted to retain the theological language of the Dominicans and
Franciscans. The Calvinists basically helped the process a little but hurt it more.
They had some good points, but given a true Calvinist's view on only being with
other "saved" people, they exited the Church of England rather quickly. I
hazard to state that what Calvinist phrases and explanations stayed in the Church
of England could be argued to be Calvinist statements that understood in an
Orthodox way are perfectly Orthodox (There is no time to go into this now).
---- So then, we have as you call it, the shaking off of the Roman heresy,
finally, officially and then for the next four hundred years a chaotic fight to
work out the truth of Orthodoxy once the Roman extremes were gone. This
natural process of kicking the heretical Anglicans (complete Calvinists, complete
Lutherans, complete Methodists) out has produced, in the end, the Oxford
Movement - which placed the Orthodox tenants of the Faith right where it should have
been and within FIFTY years established bridges with the Orthodox that are
phenomenal and long-lasting.
--- So you now have the Anglican Tradition's history, in short. There were
always heretics and there were always people who from their mother's lap learned
the Orthodox Faith, as well as they could understand it given the heresy
around them. The English Church has been tainted many times and recovered, while
growing organically and consistently being always very much what it was in the
beginning, the Orthodox Catholic Faith in the Anglican Tradition. We have been
tainted, but so has the Eastern Orthodox Church. We have maintained an
Orthodox tradition and so have you.
--- I now have to fight another heresy, it is not a big deal. I know what the
Orthodox Catholic Faith is and I know how to live it in the Anglican
Tradition. I grew up in it. You are the convert. We are called to fight for this Faith
and to touch disorder and through Christ bring order and thus we shall need
to pray so that we might be living solely on Christ. When we pray and live
solely on Christ we are deified. I ask you to throw off any sense of staying
"Safe" and to stop having ecclesiastical isolationistic tendencies. Embrace your
Coptic brethren and when we Anglicans have once again struck the heretics down
(ordination of women, homos, etc.), maybe you can see the Orthodox among us and
embrace us too.
Love you man,
I appreciate the time you took to write this email. I learned a lot which I had not known before. As
I'm sure you already know, my fundamental position is unchanged by what you say. If the English have
always had an Orthodox remnant, complete with at least one bishop, then we can speak of a reunion and
restoration of communion. Otherwise, any restoration of ties between us must come as a conversion of
Anglicans to Orthodoxy. What that would look like practically, how much of Anglicanism could be
retained, would depend on the bishop.
On to the points you raised.
I cannot agree with your statement that "the way we establish salvation within ourselves is not only
by personal mysticism but by literally touching the outside world" or at least with the manner in
which you seem to mean the statement. It is true that it is our calling as Christians to participate
in God's work of redeeming the world. But that work must begin within, not without. Truly, all
creation groans, but it groans waiting for the manifestation of the sons of God. Truly, it will be
through us that creation is healed and sanctified, but how can we lift up the created order to
communion with God before we ourselves are sanctified? The battle will be won or lost within--we must
conquer the passions, die to ourselves and beg the mercy of God with all our being FIRST. Then and
only then will we finally and fully permit God to work through us in the world--only then will our
touch bring healing. If we are premature in this, we will destroy ourselves. St. Seraphim of Sarov's
words on the subject are oft-quoted, but no less true for that frequency: "Acquire the spirit of
peace, and thousands around you will be saved." What you say seems to condemn even monasticism. If
you are willing to do that, you have no claim to Orthodoxy whatsoever.
When you speak of our refusal to "endanger losing a tradition by touching other traditions" I fail to
understand what precisely you desire from the Orthodox. If you want us to talk to you, we are
perfectly willing to do so. We have no fear of touching you. But what you sometimes seem to demand is
that we change ourselves to accomodate you. It is as though the man beaten by robbers demands that
the Good Samaritan beat himself and collapse in the road beside him. What good will that do either of
As for your other charge, we do not proselytize against other Christian communions. We offer haven
and rest to those who are weary of the battles they face in those communions, the straight path to
those who value their own salvation higher than anything else. And how can we do anything else if, by
helping those who enter our churches "become good Byzantine boys and girls," we aid them on the path
of salvation and America renders up to God more saints and the light of Christ shines more brightly
in their Byzantine, yet American lives.
To my knowledge, the Orthodox do not yet acknowledge the Copts as Orthodox. If we ever do, it will be
by acknowledging that that which divided us all those centuries ago was a mistake in translation, not
a heresy, that indeed they never ceased to be Orthodox. I do not think that it is possible to say
that about the Church of England.
The matter of English exiles in Romania and Byzantium came from Dr. Cuneo at Hillsdale. I have asked
him repeatedly for more information, but he has thus far failed to provide it (while asserting that
it does exist and he just needs to call somebody in England to get it). If the information is false,
or is such as you posit it might be (that is, not religious exiles but mercenaries), I apologize for
I do not question the pedigree of the Book of Common Prayer. The issue is the trappings and baggage
that have come to be associated with it over so many years, the context in which it continued to
evolve after the Schism and the English Reformation. I would, as I said, dearly love to see it
re-incorporated into Orthodox worship. I am uncertain how that might successfully be accomplished.
Whether or not individual parishes might have existed untainted and free of heresy seems a little
beside the point. A parish needs a priest. A priest, to be ordained, needs a bishop. You address this
later, but I wanted to clarify. I am certain that there were parishes that held out for a long while
against incursions by Roman episcopal authority, but I am unconvinced that England retained a line of
Orthodox bishops refusing to bend the knee to Rome, holding the faith inviolate, from the Battle of
Hastings until the English Reformation. Possible? Perhaps. Proven? Not yet...not to me. If such can
be demonstrated, then, as I said before, I would gladly would recognize the legitimacy of the
Anglican Church--as, indeed, beset by heresies, but also as retaining a faithful remnant at all times
that never ceased to be Orthodox.
Bishops are funny things. As you yourself quoted St. Ignatius, "Where the Bishop is, there is the
Catholic Church." But once you lose a Bishop, to death or heresy, you need another Bishop to
consecrate a successor. And, for the Orthodox, Apostolic succession is not merely a matter of being
able to trace a line back to the Apostles. Each Bishop must be Orthodox. Bishops persisting in heresy
are no longer bishops. To my knowledge, then, if a local church lapses into heresy, it must go to
another local, still Orthodox church, to an Orthodox bishop, in order to be received back into the
Back to the previous then--if you do indeed assert that there existed a fully Orthodox line of
Bishops in England (not necessarily even a consistent line in one single see...it could pass from see
to see, of course), then you're not arguing Branch Theory, as I understand it, you're simply saying
that there has always existed an English Orthodox Church with no means of communication with the
other Orthodox Churches in the East. And if that's the case, then we can indeed talk about a simple
restoration of communion.
You are very strong in your assertion of this. I hope to God that it is in fact true. Indeed, if
there is a ghost of a chance that it is, then there should be serious talks between your bishops and
mine, and I deeply regret that there are not.
For myself, I believe no fairy tale about the Orthodox Church. It did and does have serious problems.
But in every generation, there have been fully Orthodox bishops, priests and laymen within, so that
there has never been a need for a Reformation, but only for a victory of the faithful over heretics.
You are right, I am a convert. I am still very new to this faith I have embraced as my own. But, for
all its faults (which I understand far better now than I did two years ago when I converted) I see
the fullness of God's grace at work here more evidently than ever. If what you claim for yourself is
true, then the same fullness works within the Anglican Church, and you are my brother. But merely the
fact that a faithful remnant in England COULD have existed is not enough. It must be proven,
historically, doctrinally, or in some other way. Perhaps the Orthodox could even accept an Anglican
Bishop into communion with them if his doctrine and that of his flock were shown to be fully and
completely Orthodox, granting the mere possibility of a legitimate Apostolic succession as
sufficient. That would be a heady day for both of us.
But enough of speculation. I am grateful to understand better precisely what you are claiming for the
Anglican communion. I pray that, one day, you and I may be united visibly in One Church and One
Communion. Until that day, I am, and remain,
Your brother, estranged or not, in Christ,
Sunday, August 10, 2003
It is currently 3:30 on a Sunday morning. I just finished a lengthy discussion with Daniel Silliman examining the issues dividing the Anglican Church and Orthodoxy. I post it below in its entirety. There are valuable points on both sides. I am very grateful for the opportunity to finally hash out the issue with Daniel, and even more grateful simply for the opportunity to talk with him for such a long time. I had forgotten how much I had missed him and everyone else at Hillsdale.
The conversation began when Daniel brought up his recent confirmation in the Anglican Church. Daniel is danielsilliman. I am arandirdunadan.
dansilliman: I was really impressed with my bishop during the confirmation
dansilliman: great guy
ArandirDunadan: I believe it.
ArandirDunadan: Which is he again? I'm woefully uneducated about the Anglican bishops
dansilliman: he spent six hours with us, going over everythign and telling his life story and a lot of jokes
dansilliman: he's the Anglican Catholic Church of Canada primate, Bp. Peter in Victoria BC
ArandirDunadan: very cool.
dansilliman: I think it's the primate
dansilliman: no, Suffragan.
dansilliman: Suffragan Bishop
dansilliman: bishop distinctions still confuse me, I confess
dansilliman: most of Anglicanism, btw, is in this document: http://members.shaw.ca/frdon/affirmation_of_st__louis.htm
ArandirDunadan: I don't think the Orthodox have such a thing as a suffragan bishop. If we do, we don't call it that.
dansilliman: I also spent some time with the assistant curate, a 30ish English major working on his Phd, and that was a lot of fun.
dansilliman: good man
dansilliman: great sense of humor too. was telling stories about messed up masses, silly Anglicans etc.
ArandirDunadan: those are always fun.
ArandirDunadan: changing the subject a bit, have you heard anything much about the reaction of conservatives within the Episcopal church to the new gay bishop?
dansilliman: only a little
dansilliman: my knowledge of Episcopals is lacking
ArandirDunadan: gotcha...so what are Anglicans saying, then?
dansilliman: Anglicans are divided, some (myself included) think this just the natural outcome of the 1970s apostasy that doctrine was not a thing of tradition/scripture, but could be voted upon. Others, those with deeper/longer ties, are pretty hurt.
dansilliman: yeah, to see it go this far, ending ideas of reunion, etc
ArandirDunadan: I guess I should ask...what ties are there, if any, between continuing Anglicanism and the Episcopal church, and how strong are they?
dansilliman: I suspect some faithful exadous, but suspect most have already gone Anglican or Orthodox at this point.
dansilliman: very few current ties, more an issue of common history and experience
dansilliman: we're not talking, if that's what ties one would look for
ArandirDunadan: right...not exactly what I meant.
ArandirDunadan: When you say you don't talk, do you mean you are completely different communions? Do you bar each other from communion?
ArandirDunadan: Probably not...y'all don't do that much. Sorry, silly question.
dansilliman: Actually we do, just not as straightforward as you guys
dansilliman: we have declared the ECUSA heretical/apostate
ArandirDunadan: That is, the people who just chose themselves a gay bishop?
ArandirDunadan: Good for you. :-)
ArandirDunadan: I didn't know that.
dansilliman: Well, we did it before that, but yeah. And we wouldn't serve a Episcopal priest communion, but a layperson asking for it would be stating by the act that he rejected ECUSA
dansilliman: on the question of talks, btw, there may be some good discusssion/movement with the next RC pope
ArandirDunadan: Fascinating. :-)
ArandirDunadan: To what degree do Anglican priests guard the chalice?
dansilliman: it varies by preist, of course
ArandirDunadan: right...what's the strictest/most careful you've seen, and the least careful or strict?
dansilliman: but what I've seen is a demand for an affirmation of the true presence of Christ and a baptism in the name of the Trinity
dansilliman: that's true of Willson and my priest here
dansilliman: can't tell with Beauchamp
ArandirDunadan: how do they go about it?
dansilliman: a comment and a notice
dansilliman: I've never seen it refused, but people don't normally come forward without knowing what's going on first
dansilliman: ie, most have asked first
dansilliman: how does a Greek Orthodox priest protect the table?
dansilliman: I've heard of some Anglican's that refuse communion to all but the confirmed Anglicans, but haven't seen that.
ArandirDunadan: That also depends. I didn't see this, but my priest about a month ago turned away a Lutheran professor who is interested in Orthodoxy but unwilling to convert for fear he'll lose his pension. He came forward to the chalice, with his arms crossed and his mouth open...Father asked him his name, and he gave something like Fred, so he asked him his Christian name, and he said soemthing like The Reverend Doctor Fred Bates or whatever his name was...then he asked him if he was Orthodox, and he said yes, (I guess saying that he held to the Orthodox faith), and he asked him again, and he said no, and Fr. Demetri said, "Then you want the blessed bread over there to the side."
ArandirDunadan: Which is probably the most graceful way to handle it. I've never seen or heard of something like that before. Most people know it's closed communion. Though I should note that the mission church in my hometown now has a sign at the entrance to the church outlining the requirements for receiving communion.
dansilliman: that's pretty graceful
ArandirDunadan: Standard practice for a layman visiting another church is to go to the priest, introduce himself, and give his home parish, priest and bishop. That, especially the bishop part, lets the priest know that he's actually Orthodox.
ArandirDunadan: Yeah...I was impressed.
dansilliman: we'd give that man communion, of course, granting baptism, his participation in the creeds and confessions, and belief in the real presence
ArandirDunadan: And we can't, with what we believe about the nature of the Church, etc.
dansilliman: right, it's a question of the relationships to the other churches
dansilliman: def. of "orthodox" etc.
ArandirDunadan: in a certain sense, yes.
dansilliman: right, I would define you as orthodox, noting our differences, and you have to call me heterodox, at least
ArandirDunadan: I could call you orthodox in belief, for the most part, but not Orthodox fully, ontologically.
dansilliman: normally of course, you'd just be greek and swear at me and say something about western barbarism, but nevermind
ArandirDunadan: That ontological status flows from participation in the sacraments of the Church, exclusively, and in a submission to the authority of the Church and Tradition.
dansilliman: re: dansilliman: right, it's a question of the relationships to the other churches
dansilliman: def. of "orthodox" etc.
ArandirDunadan: Hmmm...I dislike that definition because it is negative, rather than positive.
dansilliman: less negative towards me, however
ArandirDunadan: To be Orthodox is to be a communing member of the Orthodox Church, not to not be a member of any number of other denominations.
dansilliman: obviously I think I'm participating in the scaraments, tradition, etc.
dansilliman: I understand this of course, and am not asking you to bend on it.
ArandirDunadan: Right...but they are not the sacraments and traditions within the Orthodox church...the rites are different, the historical connection is different, the doctrine is different, the life and goal is different, etc.
ArandirDunadan: Of course.
dansilliman: yeah, I have to disagree with that statement, but won't for the futility of it.
dansilliman: was wanting to ask though
ArandirDunadan: The difficulty is that all these definitions of Orthodoxy are quite idealized. The question of what an Orthodox church looks like where the rubber meets the road seems to be completely different.
ArandirDunadan: For consistency's sake, it cannot define itself as "not heterodox", that is, with regard to other communions. It must be a positive identity. That identity is usually stated as Christ's Body, the One, Holy, Apostolic Church, etc...but in practice it seems to involve the combination and interplay of clergy and laypeople, monks and marrieds, saints and sinners, living in such a manner that their primary identy is Orthodox, and that the word is synonymous with Christian for them.
dansilliman: I agree with that statement, thus find the refusal to "interplay" with the Anglican's by the Greeks a frustrating thing. For the decision to interplay ought to be based on some idealized definition, and it doesn't seem to be.
dansilliman: the things between, for instance, RC and GO are the Papal infallibility and the filioque. why the refusal to talk?
ArandirDunadan: Their occupation is climbing the Ladder of Divine Ascent, not seeking rapprochement (butchered, I'm sure) with others who call themselves Christians. The Ecumenical movement is, for the ORthodox, a distraction. Not a bad thing, but a distraction. Sure, we are willing to grant that, in some sense, these other communions may be called Christian, may participate in the grace of God, but, internally, there is no reason for us to do so other than Christian charity and brotherly love, since we are and have been living the Christian faith simply and fully for 2000 years.
dansilliman: what does "no reason for us to do so other than Christian charity and brotherly love," mean?
ArandirDunadan: It seems to me that this is the fundamental difficulty. The ORthodox have and have consistently had the heights of sainthood evident to them. They are not lacking anything necessary for salvation. The question of what it means for a church to be The Church is one that is asked of us, not one we ask ourselves, if you see what I mean. The Church simply is, we are in it, it is the Body of Christ and we here commune with Christ. Many Orthodox are extremely leery of such interplay, for fear that in so doing we might lose something fundamental of ourselves.
dansilliman: I agree that that statement is true, and question that it is good.
ArandirDunadan: I'm saying that the Orthodox have no consuming need to restore themselves to communion with other Christian communions. Their primary objective is their own sanctification, the working out of their own healing and reunion with their Maker God. This is why we have so many monastics. We hope and pray that those who call themselves Christians may be one day united...but we hope and pray that they be united with us within the Orthodox Church, not that our respective churches recognize one another. To our minds, that would accomplish nothing. Communion must be real and full, and is not found in papers signed.
ArandirDunadan: Here's another way to say it. Communion must be an act of submission, not of compromise. There is no room for compromise with the Faith once delivered to the Fathers.
dansilliman: I don't take communion as a compromise, and wouldn't be doing so to take it with you.
ArandirDunadan: I meant communion in the fuller sense of oneness, not the exact sense of the Eucharist. My bad.
dansilliman: changing the subject, what's the Orthodox opinion on sculptured icons?
ArandirDunadan: Hmmm...we don't use them. There may be theological reasons for that, but essentially, they developed only in the West, the East and the West were sundered, and there seemed no reason to begin using them.
dansilliman: I was hearing something about it coming as a compromise in the iconoclastic fights of Byzantine
dansilliman: and was wondering. I hadn't noticed until it was mentioned
ArandirDunadan: IT's not that we have any animosity towards other communions. It's just that the concept of changing what we do or say in order to be able to say that we are one with others who are clearly distinct from us is foreign to our way of thinking. It's not the point of the Christian life for us. For individuals to show love to those who are our brothers in that they and we both call on the name of Christ, of course. Christian charity could do no less. For the Church to work to establish a communion with another church (a communion which we believe cannot exist unless that church submits to the Church) is pointless and even destructive.
dansilliman: that's what I said the difference was, if you peel off the ortho-speak
ArandirDunadan: Sorry...was typing that before you mentioned the statues having come as a comromise during the iconoclastic period. That would really surprise me...mostly because it seems even more like the graven image that is warned against.
ArandirDunadan: Hmmm...is it?
dansilliman: how would that surprise you?
ArandirDunadan: An icon isn't graven. It's flat. It's not realistic. Statuary much more resembles the idols of my imagination.
ArandirDunadan: Not to say that it is...just that statuary as a compromise seems strange to me.
dansilliman: right, that's what the iconoclasts said
dansilliman: no no no
ArandirDunadan: obviously I misunderstood.
dansilliman: rule against statuaries as a compromise towards the iconclasts
dansilliman: not towards the iconodules
ArandirDunadan: Hmmm...I'd not heard that.
dansilliman: Just what they said. I'm not vouching for it.
dansilliman: back a bit, I think "For the Church to work to establish a communion with another church that we believe cannot exist unless that church submits to the Church is pointless and even destructive." illustrates my first point about def.s of church and def's of orthodox.
ArandirDunadan: remind me, wouldja?
ArandirDunadan: matter of the relationship to other churches, you said?
ArandirDunadan: How's this for a statement of the Orthodox position? Might help clarify. At least in my own mind. I know you know this stuff already:
ArandirDunadan: For the Orthodox, there cannot be and are not any other "churches" so called. We use that term for the sake of communication. But there is only one Church, one Faith, one Baptism. Other "churches" are associations of wandering pilgrims who call on the name of Christ. Therefore, the Church can talk with individuals, but, in some fundamental sense, to actually talk with another "church" would be to recognize its validity as a "church" which we cannot do. For there is only ONE Church.
dansilliman: I agree with that statement, as it stands
ArandirDunadan: It was actually this claim of exclusivity that first made me sit up and realize that Orthodoxy demanded my attention. Not many other churches in American make that claim.
dansilliman: i understand this, and still disagree
ArandirDunadan: The difficulty comes when you read guys like Ignatius who identify the Church so very much with the Bishop.
ArandirDunadan: I know.
ArandirDunadan: I'm not really hoping that you will change your mind, though I wouldn't mind.
ArandirDunadan: Lemme see...the Anglican understanding of the Church as something which crosses denominational lines is itself a variance in doctrine significant enough to destroy any possibility of reconciliation with the Orthodox.
dansilliman: just don't think you're not trying hard enough, because I hear you, and still think I'm a member of the One Church and the Anglican Chuch. Saying the creeds and holding to the concils and living towards the tradition of the Christian faith as taught in England since 300 ad as given to us by the Holy Apostles.
dansilliman: to quote an Anglican affirmation: "We affirm that the Church of our fathers, sustained by the most Holy Trinity, lives yet, and that we, being moved by the Holy Spirit to walk only in that way, are determined to continue in the Catholic Faith, Apostolic Order, Orthodox Worship and Evangelical Witness of the traditional Anglican Church, doing all things necessary for the continuance of the same. We are upheld and strengthened in this determination by the knowledge that many provinces and dioceses of the Anglican Communion have continued steadfast in the same Faith, Order, Worship and Witness, and that they continue to confine ordination to the priesthood and the episcopate to males. We rejoice in these facts and we affirm our solidarity with these provinces and dioceses."
ArandirDunadan: I don't deny that the English tradition stretches back a long way. But it's not the same Tradition. I might even say that it was the same tradition until 1066, but after that you had Norman, Catholic bishops who accepted the authority of a heretical bishop in Rome and embraced heretical doctrines.
ArandirDunadan: Don't get me wrong...I like Anglicanism. I'm grateful for its presence in America, and very glad that you've found your way to it. But I can't say that it's the same Church.
dansilliman: I understand that. But there have always been heresies and reformations
ArandirDunadan: Have there?
dansilliman: didn't we speak of the iconoclasts a little while ago?
dansilliman: were all the creeds and councils reformations of heresies?
dansilliman: I appreciate your nod towards anglicanism and do the same to the Orthodox, but still am frustrated with it.
ArandirDunadan: Not that the Orthodox haven't had heresies. But they have always had Faithful, who fought the heretics and eventually won. When those who had been heretics sought to return to the Faith, they returned to the ranks of the Faithful. There has never been a case in which heretics reformed without requesting re-admission into the Church.
dansilliman: Agreed. And there has always been a Traditional Church in England.
ArandirDunadan: Not reformations of heresies. Measures taken against heresy. Heresy is outside the Church. Once a man, a parish or a diocese accepts heresy, they are outside the Church. They must be readmitted.
dansilliman: I grant your correction there
ArandirDunadan: I'd not know that there were continuing churches which retained the faith as it was in, say, 700 and had bishops who could accept repentant Roman heretics when Henry VIII left the Roman church.
ArandirDunadan: (that's not a jab...just what I think would need to have been the case for it to be legitimate, as it were)
dansilliman: to some extent too, I embrace your explanation of the Church seeking the Divine and ignoring ecumenicism in that it allows me to ignore Greek demands and focus on continuing the tradition of prayer, holy communion, and general devotion.
ArandirDunadan: Probably the better course of action anyway.
ArandirDunadan: The point of life is not, after all, the pursuit of truth, but the pursuit of holiness.
ArandirDunadan: Incidentally, it should be stated that the Greeks don't ask demands until demands are made of them and they start trying to explain why those demands don't even translate.
ArandirDunadan: I would like to know more about the Anglican view of the Church, as it were. Seems the fundamental point of disagreement.
ArandirDunadan: I've talked a lot about the ORthodox perspective.
dansilliman: backing up.... The greeks actually have made demands, look at the history with the Russians
dansilliman: always fighting, whining and complaining, even among yourselves
ArandirDunadan: *sigh* I'm sure.
dansilliman: nicest points are when they say "we don't know how the Russians do it, but we do ....."
ArandirDunadan: who says this?
ArandirDunadan: Constantinople, you mean?
dansilliman: and the Russians do it back to the Greeks, though the Russians are considered friendlier.
ArandirDunadan: Right...there's been a political tension between Constantinople and Moscow since Byzantium fell to the Moslems. Moscow saw itself as Constantinople's successor, as the third Rome, as the capital of the Orthodox world...and of course Constantinople resented it.
dansilliman: for the Anglican opinion, I'd refer you to Pope Gregory and his advice to St. Augustine of Canterbury.
ArandirDunadan: A very sad tension...generally ignored by the faithful.
ArandirDunadan: The advice regarding traditions, which to keep and which to discard?
ArandirDunadan: I know it.
dansilliman: That's pretty Anglican.
dansilliman: The faithful are good at disregarding things.
dansilliman: Anglican's also grant that there are ethnic variations of the Christian Tradition.
dansilliman: We all don't have to celebrate Greek independance day and everyone doesn't have to pray for the Queen of England.
ArandirDunadan: So long as it's not doctrinal...there is a resentment that filters down pretty far in the Greek churches against the Russians. They generally condemn the Greeks for precisely those ethnic variations and claim basically that the traditions, upper case and lowercase of 19th century Russia are the only ones that are completely Orthodox. Then the Greeks retaliate by accusing the Russians of adding things, and it's off to the races. Not really much of Christian charity in the whole thing.
ArandirDunadan: The devout are generally disgusted with the whole thing.
ArandirDunadan: I agree with you completely about the ethnic variations.
ArandirDunadan: Would that that were the only issue dividing us.
dansilliman: that's the terrible picture of Eastern Orthodoxy in general, I think.
ArandirDunadan: The infighting over ethnic traditions. This is true...people too often forget that there is room for these variances.
ArandirDunadan: It is far too easy to become proud and demand that anyone who calls himself Orthodox practice his faith precisely as you do, down to the way you tie your shoes.
ArandirDunadan: Though people will always fight, I guess. I still consider it a blessing that, when Orthodox fight, it is over such petty issues, not over the essentials of the Faith.
dansilliman: Honestly, I'll go to the wall over homosexuality or the validity of Tradition, and won't over being Greek.
dansilliman: thus I'm Anglican.
ArandirDunadan: Ah...I comprehend.
ArandirDunadan: *light dawns*
ArandirDunadan: The issue is not being Greek. The issue is being Orthodox. However close Anglicanism may have come in its reformation, it remains, to my knowledge, still outside the communion of Orthodox bishops from which it was forced during the Norman Conquest.
dansilliman: and, as long as we can mention random Anglican history facts, don't forget Anglicans went to the wall of Constantinople with battle axes against the muslims and the Crusaders.
ArandirDunadan: And for that, we are more grateful than we can say.
dansilliman: never have said. ;-)
ArandirDunadan: Hum...probably would have if the last ditch defense the last time had been successful. ;-)
dansilliman: and besides converting to Greek, how would the Anglican's become part of the Church?
dansilliman: (using your Ortho-Speak here)
ArandirDunadan: Hum...good question.
ArandirDunadan: of course.
ArandirDunadan: I suspect that whatever bishop they approached would ask that they switch to the Byzantine Liturgy as used by that bishop's diocese, at least provisionally until the Book of Common Prayer could be carefully examined and vetted for complete orthodoxy of doctrine. That would depend on which bishop was approached. Probably some compromise would be worked out in terms of priests. They would need to be ordained in the Church, and the bishop would probably ask that they pursue at least some Orthodox seminary education. Asking them to go to seminary again for four years would be very harsh, in my opinion. A wise bishop would probably ask the parishes to integrate, at least temporarily, with one of the churches under him in the area, in order for the people to have the opportunity to soak in something of the Orthodox mindset for a time, at least.
dansilliman: for instance, why would the Book of Common Prayer never be accepted?
dansilliman: as an English liturgy. why do the Greeks always oppose even the possibility of a Western rite?
dansilliman: I/we were happy about the Anglican rite EO churchs, but the bishops and the faithful are irrate in the insistance that it can only be temporary.
ArandirDunadan: That doesn't quite make sense to me, to be honest.
ArandirDunadan: There are differing opinions on this, of course.
dansilliman: yes, and that's pretty much the best of what I'd heard before.
ArandirDunadan: The reasoning is that the Byzantine Liturgy as we have it today grew up organically within Orthodox Churches. The Book of Common Prayer, however beautiful it may be, did not. Many people say that there is something important in being able to trace back your liturgy in an unbroken line to the liturgies of the early church. The Book of Common Prayer, even if it is (I don't know enough about it) descended from the original English liturgies established by St. Augustine, can not claim to be that. Supposedly.
ArandirDunadan: But I figure, the Byzantine Liturgy is not the only one the Orthodox Church uses, or even has used. And the thing that sanctifies the Byzantine Liturgy is the fact that it is used by communing Orthodox Christians.
ArandirDunadan: So I personally wouldn't have a problem with accepting the Book of Common Prayer in some manner or other.
dansilliman: thank you
dansilliman: you are now more ecumenical than the Orthodox.
ArandirDunadan: Theologically, there would have to be some revisions, some additions and perhaps subtractions. I don't know if your liturgy has an Epiclesis instead of Words of Institution, but it would need to have one.
dansilliman: and or Nicean creed would have to lose it's "and the Son"
ArandirDunadan: Well, yes. That sort of goes without saying.
ArandirDunadan: I really don't know what would happen if your Bishop Rowan Williams were to approach an Orthodox Bishop and request acceptance of the entire Anglican communion into the Orthodox Church. I suspect that that bishop would not demand so much, simply because of the magnitude of the request.
dansilliman: and then the Mt. Athos Monks would riot.
ArandirDunadan: With the understanding that the rejection of that does not entail a difference in doctrine (for we of course affirm that Christ sent the Holy Spirit) but a rejection of the Roman see's claims to supremacy which it attempted to enforce by means of that addition.
dansilliman: I didn't know that was the focus of the filioque controversy
ArandirDunadan: Not many would deny that there is a fully Orthodox manner of understanding the filioque.
ArandirDunadan: But the term has so much baggage associated with it.
ArandirDunadan: I personally find it misleading, but I can understand what was meant by it.
ArandirDunadan: And respect it.
ArandirDunadan: For crying out loud, the stupid addition first showed up when the Arians in Spain BECAME Orthodox.
ArandirDunadan: It got to be problematic when first Charlemagne and then the Roman Pope made a political issue out of it.
dansilliman: That's fair, I suppose. Anglicans and Orthodox wouldn't disagree there then. We grant that it was an addition, but say it is correct in content and was just a measure to clarify the equality of the father and the son
dansilliman: see for example, Athanasius' creed
ArandirDunadan: Anyway...the difficulty would be in ensuring that, as the Anglican Communion entered Orthodoxy, those weeds which have grown up within the Anglican Communion since the Schism, and especially over the past century, would not enter along with it. That's where you'd get the demands for renunciations of things like the book of common prayer, even if I don't like those demands much.
ArandirDunadan: No...now some theologians have made the effort to show that the filioque is ontologically heretical...mostly Russians, to my knowledge...but that's not the prevailing nor, I think, the historical opinion.
ArandirDunadan: And the argument depends too much on how it's been used, as opposed to what it simply is.
dansilliman: and demands we get rid of our statues and change our chants and deny that England/the West has a legit Christian Tradition.
ArandirDunadan: Change your chants?
ArandirDunadan: I see no reason for that.
dansilliman: tunes aren't greek and thus must be post schism.
dansilliman: a few of them are, of course, but others aren't
ArandirDunadan: Hum...most tunes used in the Greek church were written in the 18th or 19th century.
ArandirDunadan: Here's the thing.
ArandirDunadan: For the Orthodox, the Anglican church is NOT a Church. Therefore, what Christian tradition it has is tainted.
ArandirDunadan: I can see a bishop being willing to accept the writing of a new rite for a vast number of new converts to the faith.
ArandirDunadan: Accepting new ethnic practices, etc.
ArandirDunadan: But that bishop is also going to reject things that those converts want to bring in. The test, in his mind, will be whether those converts are willing to submit.
ArandirDunadan: The difficulty is that, historically, this has always happened gradually.
ArandirDunadan: The Russian version of the Divine LIturgy is different from the Greek, but it developed into something subtly different over many centuries. Trying to create something truly ethnically English at the snap of the finger is difficult, if not impossible.
dansilliman: and for the Anglicans that statement--the Anglican church is NOT a Church-- is a denial of the Holy Faith as it was handed to us by the Apostles and the Saints.
ArandirDunadan: How so?
dansilliman: We believe the Church (one church of the one faith and baptism) is divided and ought to be reunited but we do not and cannot say that the Faith of our Fathers and the Christian Tradtion as brought to the English speakers to today is fundamentally invalid because of a historic separation (mostly geographical?) with Greece.
ArandirDunadan: Hmmm...a few things. The Orthodox refuse to admit the possibility that the One Church could ever be divided. It is ontologically impossible. Second, the separation was one imposed in blood upon the English people during the Norman Conquest, not merely the result of a drifting apart due to geographical distance. The separation between the East and Rome was fundamentally doctrinal--when England was forced to submit to bishops supportive of the Pope's claims, the separation between England and the East became fundamentally doctrinal. Heresy, if you will, was imposed upon the English people.
ArandirDunadan: I may be inaccurate in this...but as I understand it from trustworthy professors at Hillsdale and trustworthy books, there was a fundamental change in English Christianity with the Norman Conquest. The Pope approved William's invasion as a holy war. Those English who fled the country for reasons of faith fled to Orthodox countries--Romania, Byzantium, etc.
dansilliman: don't know about the fleeing, but the conquest, yes
dansilliman: by geographical distance, I mean the fact that Rome stands between Canterbury and Constantinople. I posit no "ontological" devision, but still a historic one.
ArandirDunadan: Hmm....mind clarifying that last?
dansilliman: there is only One Baptism, you and I were both baptised into the one ontological/platonic form/whatever of that baptism. Still, we were not historically or geographically baptised together
dansilliman: the One Faith, Baptism, Euchrist, is beyond space/time/geography
ArandirDunadan: Hmmm...the Orthodox have to say that that One Faith, Baptism and Eucharist are nonexistent outside of Orthodoxy.
dansilliman: unless I'm missing what the Greek Orthodox mean by "ontological"
dansilliman: that's the arg. here, yeah
ArandirDunadan: ontological is my word. I mean by it what something is fundamentally, in its essence.
ArandirDunadan: I think that is the correct meaning. Correct me if I'm wrong.
dansilliman: All loaves of bread are, in essence, the same. Some are in England and others are in Greece. Thus they are divided while remaining, ontologically, the same.
dansilliman: the difference between the one bread and the one faith being that they ought to be historically/spacially together as well as ontologically together
ArandirDunadan: And I say that they are not ontologically the same. When England was subjected to Roman papacy and Roman heresy, it became ontologically something different, something apart. In order to become again ontologically the same, it must be readmitted to that Church which it left, however unwillingly it did so.
ArandirDunadan: The Church is one, wherever it is. It is united in one Cup, one Faith and one Baptism in Christ. It IS the Church. Not part of the Church, but The Church.
dansilliman: two points: 1) a thing does not change its essence (definitional of thing) and 2) the East has also had heresies.
ArandirDunadan: Yes it has, but they have never consumed the entire Church. There have always been faithful, and the heresies have either been died out, or the heretics eventually renounced the heresy and were accepted back into the fold.
dansilliman: the Church is the Church, I agree
dansilliman: I assert that statement about the Anglican church as well.
ArandirDunadan: When Rome fell into heresy, it ceased to be the Church. When England was subjugated to Rome, however much it was not its fault, it ceased to be the Church.
ArandirDunadan: For either to once again become the Church, they must be readmitted. But we've been over this before.
dansilliman: historical point here we'd both need more history to intelligently consider, however
ArandirDunadan: Which historical point is that again?
dansilliman: what if England maintianed the tradition while being subjugated to Rome?
ArandirDunadan: An underground Church?
ArandirDunadan: Then sure. No problem.
dansilliman: not as underground as one might think. There are still Irish Catholics who contest the authority of the Pope, for instance
dansilliman: and I understand the problem here is "maintaining the faith" means looking like/being identical to the Greeks.
ArandirDunadan: Hum...not really.
dansilliman: seriously, yes it is.
ArandirDunadan: the English Church in the 900's was very much not identical to the Greek Church, and yet it was fully Orthodox.
ArandirDunadan: There is not an Orthodox layman, theologian or Bishop who would deny that.
dansilliman: ask your priest how he knows Ash Wednesday wasn't practiced by the Apostles
dansilliman: "because it is western"
dansilliman: same explanation of the centeral crucifix vs. the incarnation icon in a church (both of which I am devoted to).
dansilliman: He then backtracks and attempts to pin a heresy on the difference between a western and eastern practice.
ArandirDunadan: The problem with things western is not that they are not Greek. It is that they all fell with the Pope into heresy. Hence are tainted. If the path to salvation is evident in one place, it seems like a rabbit trail to spend so much time trying to cleanse that which is tainted instead of pursuing that which is not with undivided attention.
dansilliman: you know this is true and can plead the ignorance of your priest, I suppose.
ArandirDunadan: To a degree I can. Though, as I say above, I think his point is fairly valid.
ArandirDunadan: Oh...one more thing to add to that last. That thing which is tainted, if it is indeed so close to one's heart, will remain with him as he pursues the path of salvation, and may well one day be fully cleansed as he himself is and thus it may be reintroduced into the Orthodox Tradition.
ArandirDunadan: Which is what I would personally like to see happen with, say, the Book of Common Prayer, or the Roman Liturgy, or any other liturgical traditions lost to Orthodoxy during the schism.
dansilliman: again we come to the impasse of "West had heresy and East was pure".
ArandirDunadan: The west was consumed by heresy. The east was not.
ArandirDunadan: Both had it. One succumbed, one did not.
ArandirDunadan: That's the difference.
ArandirDunadan: There always was heresy in the Eastern Church. But it never actually BECAME heresy.
dansilliman: right, and I don't know how any part of the west could prove that it hadn't succumbed.
dansilliman: this east-good/west-bad understanding seems to be presuppositional in that the east is the definition of good and the west isn't the east
ArandirDunadan: Hmmm...evidence of a continuing line of Bishops within England who, hierarch after hierarch, denied papal authority, purgatory and the other innovations of the Roman Church after 1056.
ArandirDunadan: Bishops who, when Henry VIII decided to leave the Catholic Church, emerged and offered re-entry into the One, Catholic and Apostolic Church to the Roman churches of England.
dansilliman: consider too that the "succumbed" we're talking about is having a crucifix in the center of the church rather than the incarnation icon
ArandirDunadan: That's not the succumbed we're talking about.
ArandirDunadan: We're talking about the fact that the crucifix in the center of the church existed only in those churches which submitted themselves to a heretical hierarch.
dansilliman: this is sort of dead ending and we need more historical content than either of us have
dansilliman: I'm also only up to putting up with Ortho-Speak for so long before I go nutso.
ArandirDunadan: What exactly do you mean by Ortho-Speak anyway?
dansilliman: basically,. a jargon combined with a prejudiced history
ArandirDunadan: Prejudiced history? Don't confuse my rhetoric with Fr. Demetri's.
dansilliman: and codes hidden by capital letters
dansilliman: I'd say Dr. D's is worse, but you speak it too.
ArandirDunadan: Hmmm...I don't intend to.
ArandirDunadan: And it's not intended to be a code, not in that sense. Just expressing differences in a way more subtle and less agressive than "Pseudo-fake-wannabe-churches". :)
dansilliman: I'm sure there are secret mystical words spelled out by the capitals that only the Ones and the FAithful and the Truly Holy Among the Orthodox can rEad.
ArandirDunadan: Believe me, if you can show me that the English Church truly retained a traditional and faithful remnant between 1054 and Henry VIII, and that the bishops of the English Church were reunited to that faithful remnant at that point, then all this argument is moot and I accept you as fully a brother.
dansilliman: fair enough
dansilliman: I doubt the actual ability for the Eastern Church to do that, given definitions they accept presuppositionally, but I appreciate your indicated gesture of good faith.
dansilliman: and we should be glad and depressed that we've gotten farther here than our leaders ever have.
ArandirDunadan: I have nothing against the West. I am a Westerner by birthright and upbringing. I would desire nothing more than for all that I love from my childhood to be cleansed and brought back into the Church. In my mind, it is a first step that I am seeking to cleanse myself, who am so fundamentally Western. It is my hope that, in my life and the lives of thousands like me, all that you and I both love will someday be again baptized and made Christian. Even this stupid America.
ArandirDunadan: Indeed...it is as you say.
ArandirDunadan: I suspect that those definitions which you say we accept presuppositionally are simply the truth of the matter...but I could well be wrong. I would love to be convinced of that.
dansilliman: I suspect it is a systematic arrogance, but anyways... Do not think I don't recognize many things that need to be cleansed from western Christianity, and know there are many more I don't recognize. Even my philosophy--the postmodernism I ignored so we could use the foil of ontological churches--is an attempt to extricate Western thought from some of our Western failures. I have been informed by the Orthodox, am ever thankful for the impact the Eastern Church has had on my on faith, thanks to you and Seraphim, and am saddened and frustrated that they refuse to do more in the effort to peel away the sins of the West.
ArandirDunadan: I am uncertain what more we could do without in some way destroying ourselves and the integrity of our faith.
dansilliman: I think those are decent closing statements.
dansilliman: gives this some sort of wrap that'll make it some how editable to a blog post
ArandirDunadan: As many theologians have said, the way to be cleansed from sin is baptism and genuine participation in the other sacraments of the Church. Which is all the Orthodox ask from those outside.
ArandirDunadan: And I think that's a pretty good closing statement for the Orthodox side of things as well.