Sunday, October 17, 2010

The future of ACNA relations with the OCA


By Robin G. Jordan

The Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Church in America, which was renamed the Orthodox Church of America in 1970, declared itself autonomous at a time when the Russian Orthodox Church in Russia was experiencing serious persecution at the hands of the Bolshevik government and was struggling for its survival. In 1920 Patriarch Tikhon of Moscow directed all Russian Orthodox churches outside of Russia to govern themselves autonomously if the central administration were disabled or if they were unable to contact it. The ROGCCA declared itself autonomous without the necessary condition of the inability of the central administration to govern them. The Russian Orthodoc Church did not actually grant autocephaly to the OCA until 1970. All autocephalous Orthodox Churches , however, do not recognize the atocephaly of the OCA.

The OCA has been torn by scandal in recent years. Archbishop Seraphim who has jurisdiction over all of Canada for the New York-based OCA has most recently taken a leave of absence due to allegations of sexual misconduct. The Moscow Patriarchate, I have learned from sources within the Russian Orthodox community or close to that community, is reconsidering its recognition of the OCA as autocephalous. In the wake of the collapse of the former Soviet Union and in part due to a resurgence of Russian nationalism the Russian Orthodox Church has itself been experiencing a resurgence. One of the consequences of this resurgence is that it is taking a greater interest in the state of Russian Orthodoxy outside of Russia and it does not like what it sees. The Russian Orthodox Church is more conservative than the OCA. The scandals wracking the OCA are in the minds of the Russians damaging the public image of the Russian Orthodox Church. They look at the effects that sexual scandals of the Roman Catholic Church have had upon that Church’s public image.

The Russians see themselves as faced with two choices. They can withdraw their recognition of the OCA’s autocephalous status and resume oversight of the OCA and purge the OCA of any undesirable element. Moscow would appoint or approve the appointment of new bishops for the OCA. Or they can disown the OCA. In the later case they would withdraw their recognition of the OCA as being genuinely Russian Orthodox and severe their relations with the OCA.

Whatever the Russians choose to do, it is likely to cause a split in the OCA. If the Russians reassumed oversight of the OCA, the more liberal segment of the OCA is likely to separate from that body and form their own province. If the Russians disown the OCA, the more conservative segment of the OCA is likely to seek to remain with the Russian Orthodox Church.

The Russian Orthodox Church is not known for its openness to ecumenism. It shows no interest in intercommunion agreements with Anglican bodies that from a Russian Orthodox point of view are heretical. If an Anglican body wishes to have improved relations with the Russian Orthodox Church, it must fully embrace Orthodoxy. This has been the position of Russian Orthodox Church since the Non-Jurors made overtures to that Church in the seventeenth century.

The efforts of Bishop Ray Sutton’s ecumenical task force to develop an intercommunion agreement with the OCA must be evaluated in the light of these developments. If the Russian Orthodox Church reassumes oversight of the OCA, it is not going recognize such an agreement. The existence of an intercommunion agreement with the ACNA may actually jeopardize the careers of the remaining OCA leaders. Whoever in the OCA is at the present time pursuing such an agreement would be regarded as too liberal and would be purged from the OCA leadership. They would be removed from their leadership positions and banished to a monastery. The OCA leaders who enter into such an agreement are also jeopardizing the OCA’s relations with the Russian Orthodox Church and their own church’s conservative wing.

It is difficult to believe that Bishop Sutton and his task force are not aware of this development and the attitude of the Russian Orthodox Church toward ecumenism. Why then are they seeking the GAFCON Primates’ acceptance of the dropping of the Filoque clause from the Nicene Creed?

A number of possibilities present themselves. First, Sutton and his task force and/or the ACNA leaders supporting the initiative are seeking to establish the ACNA in a leadership role in relationship to GAFCON and the global south Anglican community. Historically Americans seem themselves as destined to be world leaders. Because they are more conservative than their counterparts in the Anglican Church of Canada and The Episcopal Church does not mean that they have abandoned such pretensions. The ACNA is moving in what may be described as an Independent Catholic direction—toward a charismatic and evangelistic-minded but unreformed form of Catholicism, which, since it is also found outside of Anglican bodies, cannot be characterized as Anglo-Catholicism. A small but growing body of evidence exists that elements within the ACNA and its ministry partner, the former AMiA, now the Anglican Mission, are seeking to influence GAFCON to move in the same direction and away from the Reformed Catholicism of historic Anglicanism. Since the Thirty-Nine Articles affirm that the Holy Spirit proceeds from Father and the Son, the GAFCON Primates’ endorsement of such a change in the Nicene Creed would amount to a rejection of the doctrine of the Articles, which its authors believed was consonant with Scripture. The Anglican Church of Rwanda has promulgated a new constitution and set of canons that are the work of a former Roman Catholic priest in the Anglican Mission and incorporate the doctrine, language, norms, and principles of the Roman Catholic Code of Canon Law and affirm the dogmas of the Council of Trent and the Counter-Reformation. The Rwandan Church is spearheading a movement in the global South community for a revamping of Anglican ecclesiology that builds upon the work of the same priest. Historic Anglicanism may be described as under a two-pronged attack from liberalism and Catholicism that originates in North America and particularly in the United States.

Second, Sutton’s task force and/or the ACNA leaders supporting this initiative is anticipating that the ACNA may benefit from a split in the OCA. The dropping of the Filoque clause from the Nicene Creed would eliminate an obstacle to breakaway congregations and clergy from the OCA migrating to the ACNA. It would also remove an obstacle to unaffiliated Orthodox joining the ACNA.

Third, this particular undertaking of the Sutton’s task force is cosmetic and intended for internal consumption. The membership of the ACNA is quite na├»ve in matters of ecumenical relations. It is meant to appeal to Convergentist sentiments in that body and the Convergentist vision of the ACNA as a church in which not only are disparate theological streams coming together but also is on the forefront of a similar convergence worldwide. It also helps to justify the existence of the task force and its funding.

Fourth, Sutton has private reasons for what he and his task force are doing. He sees it as a way to gain heightened prestige for himself, advance his own career, and eventually secure for himself the top position in the ACNA hierarchy—the office of Archbishop and Primate of the ACNA.

Fifth, it is a combination of these possibilities.

In any event this initiative is not going to further the cause of authentic historic Anglicanism in North America. An influx of Russian Orthodox into the ACNA would provide additional impetus to its present movement in an Independent Catholic direction, as the influx of High Church Anglo-Catholic Episcopalians into the Reformed Episcopal Church contributed to its movement away from the doctrine and principles of its conservative evangelical founders. The improved relations between the ACNA and Convergence and Independent Catholic bodies that resulted from the College of Bishops’ recognition of their Independent Catholic orders increase the likelihood of an influx of congregations and clergy from these bodies, which are experiencing troubles of their own. The split in the Anglican Church in America over the personal ordinariate for Anglicans in the Roman Catholic Church and related developments may bring more Anglo-Catholics into the ACNA. Without the establishment of one or more Reformed Protestant dioceses and even a Reformed Protestant sub-provincial jurisdiction in the ACNA and the negotiation of a special protocol for these groupings exempting them from a number of doctrinal and governance provisions of the ACNA constitution and canons and guaranteeing to them the right to elect and confirm their own bishops, there is no future for Reformed Protestantism of authentic historic Anglicanism in the ACNA.

59 comments:

jordan.lavender said...

Robin,

I don't disagree with your sentiments about ACNA or the AMiA, however, why not focus your energy on gathering support, planting missions, networking with other like-minded individuals, etc... rather than belabor a point that most of your readers would agree with?

I would suggest that Reformed Anglicans:

1. Combine resources by devoting energies to similar goals. This would require a statement of belief or covenant to refine what is shared amongst all supporters and agreeable to the Articles.

2. Network. Find parishes that support this statement and adhere to the principles therein. Perhaps send a copy of the statement to parishes in your region and ask clergy to sign on if they agree.

3. Plan meetings. Plan a Reformed Anglican "Winter Conference" such as the AMiA has every winter to encourage church planting and fellowship with other believers.

4. Prayer!

Just suggestions.

Robin G. Jordan said...

Jordan,

It's in the works.

jordan.lavender said...

Might I suggest contacting the Rt. Rev. Doc Loomis of the AMiA, to support your work? Although, probably not Reformed to your standards, he is an excellent pastor and would support any mission work you are doing as would other AMiA parishes in Kentucky, for instance, you could contact the Rev. Canon Peter Matthews in Lexington, KY, to also gather support for mission in your area.

Robin G. Jordan said...

Jordan,

Visit the Heritage Anglican Network web journal. The URL is: http://theheritageanglicannetwork.blogspot.com/ The site is still under construction.

jordan.lavender said...

I am encouraged by your work in the Heritage Network but I have a few questions after reading through the material on the site...

1. Will the Heritage Network seek affiliation with any other Anglican jurisdiction in the US right now? If not, how will it maintain the episcopacy?

2. Are you planning to draft a guideline to what is considered acceptable in regards to ceremonial in this network? I.e., what sorts of churchmanship differences are regarded as acceptable?

3. Are there any current parishes involved in the work?

Robin G. Jordan said...

Jordan,

1. Right now we are in what might be called the "gathering" stage. The main object at this stage is to network together a group of like-minded people. This includes people in existing jurisdictions as well as those in no jurisdiction.

The idea of a Network Convocation is at this stage more aspirational than anything else. If we gather enough people, there is sufficient interest, and there a number of viable fellowships and congregations then we will undertake the organization of a Network Convocation.

Among the focus groups at which the Network is targeted are a group that may be described as less than keen on the idea of affiliation with an existing jurisdiction. In some cases this is attributable to theological convictions; in other cases it is attributable to off-putting experiences with existing jurisdictions. Due to this and other considerations the Network Convocation is likely to be independent while at the same time working in cooperation with like-minded people in other jurisdictions on projects of common interest.

With an eye to the future we are exploring various options for the securing the consecration of a bench of bishops. The issue for us is not one of apostolic succession in the sense of a particular succession of bishops going back to the apostles but of historical continuity with the reformed Church of England. Doctrinally from our point of view we stand in succession to the apostles and in continuity with the reformed Church of England.

2. My inclination is to draw attention to what have been historic norms in the reformed Church of England, and to delineate a set of principles by which a congregation and its clergy can evaluate their current practice. I am mindful of what Cranmer himself wrote in Concerning Ceremonies:

"And in these our doings we condemn no other Nations, nor prescribe any thing but to our own people only: For we think it convenient that every Country should use such Ceremonies as they shall think best to the setting forth of God's honour and glory, and to the reducing of the people to a most perfect and godly living, without error or superstition; and that they should put away other things, which from time to time they perceive to be most abused, as in men's ordinances it often chanceth diversely in divers countries."

3. See 1.

Please feel free to contact me at heritageanglicansatgmaildotcom.

John (Ad Orientem) said...

Robin,
There are some rather glaring inaccuracies in this post which I think need to be addressed. Some are of a sufficiently serious nature that they detract from the credibility of the post.

1. There appears to be a great deal of confusion of terminology. The "Russian Orthodox Church" seems to be used interchangeably when making reference to the "Orthodox Church" as a whole. The ROC is NOT the Orthodox Church. It is merely one of fourteen universally recognized autocephalous churches within the Orthodox Church. And while it is the largest, it does not hold the first place of honor within Orthodoxy. That position is occupied by the Ecumenical Patriarch of New Rome and Constantinople.

2. The First Hierarch of the OCA has NOT stepped down. A bishop in Canada has taken a leave of absence over allegations of sexual misconduct dating to around 1980 or so. It remains to be see what will come of these allegations. The investigation is ongoing.

3. Your history of the circumstances surrounding the granting of the Tome of Autocephaly sounds like it was fed to you by someone with an agenda. That said it is quite fair to note that the OCA's experiment in autocephaly, granted in the hopes of uniting the various Orthodox jurisdiction in N. America, seems to have failed in that respect. This is primarily dues to the strong disinclination of the other mother churches to cut the apron strings (and abandon their cash cows) and release their daughter churches in N. America to form a unified American Church. In particular the Ecumenical Patriarch (EP) has resisted such efforts and has steadfastly refused to recognize the OCA's claims to autocephaly.

4. The future arrangement of the churches of N. America is high on the agenda of a forthcoming Great and Holy Pan-Orthodox Synod which is expected to convene within the next several years.

5. You make reference to the Filioque here "Why then are they seeking the GAFCON Primates’ acceptance of the dropping of the Filoque clause from the Nicene Creed"?

The Filioque is not a part of the Nicene Creed. It is a part of the Roman Catholic Creed of the Council of Lyons (AD 1274) which took the ancient symbol of the Apostolic Catholic Faith and unilaterally altered it by inserting the addition of the Synod of Toledo (AD 587). In doing so they incurred the Anathemas of the Third OEcumenical Council (AD 431) imposed on any who dared tamper with the Symbol of Faith. These anathemas were reaffirmed by the Eighth OEcumenical Council (AD 879-880). Thus it should be noted that no Anglican Church today recites the Nicene Creed, but rather they recite the Roman Catholic Creed of Lyons.

Continued...

John (Ad Orientem) said...

Continued...
6. The Russian Orthodox Church does not require full acceptance of "Russian Orthodoxy" for communion. It requires full acceptance of Orthodox Christianity. That is and has always been a non-negotiable precondition for communion. The Orthodox Church does not do inter-communion with those outside the Church.

7. I am not sure what you are basing your concerns about a possible agreement between the ACNA and the OCA on. No such agreement is pending and in my opinion none will ever occur. His Beatitude Met. Jonah laid down a series of conditions which were necessary for such an agreement. There is absolutely zero chance of all or even a majority of those conditions being met.

8. While the future status of the OCA remains at this point clouded, it is a fully canonical Orthodox Church and is in communion with all of the other canonical local churches. It is possible that the OCA may at some point revert to the jurisdiction of the ROC or perhaps agree to go under the omiphor of the Ecumenical Patriarch. In Orthodoxy there are no "provinces" as there are in Anglicanism. There are local churches united in the Orthodox Faith and obedience to the Canons of the Church. And there are no rumors of schism that have reached my ear (which is quite close to the ground). Again I do not know who your sources are, but I smell an agenda.

9. I will refrain from commenting on the internal polity of the Anglican Communion save to note that your posited potential "motives" for bishop Sutton's suggestion to drop the Filioque omitted one of considerable importance. That being that he may have become sincerely convinced that the Filioque was illicitly added to the Creed without the consent of the Church as a whole and it should therefor be dropped pending consensus on the subject.

10. I am uncertain if you regard the Thirty-Nine Articles as irreformable doctrine carrying the same weight as a Papal "ex-cathedra" pronouncement. If however that is in fact the case then there is indeed little point in ecumenical dialogue save for the purpose promoting mutual tolerance. Many of the Articles are directly at odds with the Orthodox Catholic Faith, the decrees of the OEcumenical Councils (especially the Third and the Seventh) and the consensus patri.

ICXC NIKA
John

npmccallum said...

I would agree with John that the inaccuracies in this post severely erode the credibility of your analysis. I won't re-hash John's points, but I will add three more:

1. Relationships between OCA and the Moscow Patriarchate are anything but cooling. If the rumors I've heard are true (and I'm pretty sure they are), a motion was made within the OCA episcopacy to return the tomos of autocephaly to Russia but this motion was clearly rejected by BOTH Moscow and the OCA. Further, and I do not expect anyone outside Orthodoxy to know this, there are a set of ancient canons dealing with the relationships between patriarchates that are somewhat vague. The end result of that vagary is there is a difference of opinion as to whether or not a Patriarchate can unilaterally grant autocephaly (among other things). Moscow takes the side that it can, the EP takes the side that it can't. At the heart of this debate is the tomos of autocephaly to the OCA. My point here is this: Moscow cannot simultaneously hold the interpretations of the canons that it does and disregard the tomos of autocephaly given to the OCA. In short, while it is possible that the tomos will be returned as part of a careful re-organization with the EP, the Russian church *cannot* just abandon the OCA. The Russian Church needs the OCA as a sort of "wild-card" (forgive me for being so crude) in negotiations with the other patriarchates. Further, the largest church in America, and I think the most likely to assume the other Orthodox churches is the EP, who is generally "more liberal" (if that means anything) than the OCA. In other words, there is no upcoming schism, abandonment, russification, etc.

2. "The scandals wracking the OCA are in the minds of the Russians damaging the public image of the Russian Orthodox Church." Some allegations that a minor bishop in a remote part of Canada may have had some sexual impropriety in the 1980s is probably not even on the radar for the Russian Church. A leave of absence is the proper thing to do in this situation whether the allegations are true or false. But please correct your post so that it no longer says "chief bishop" so that you don't unjustly tar Metropolitan Jonah's good name as he is not in any way related to these unfortunate allegations.

3. "The Russian Orthodox Church is more conservative than the OCA."

"The Russian Orthodox Church is not known for its openness to ecumenism."

"If an Anglican body wishes to have improved relations with the Russian Orthodox Church, it must fully embrace Russian Orthodoxy."

I find these statements so vague to be pretty much nonsense (and I think them to be demonstrably false). Which church approved the use of the 1892 American BCP for use in American parishes? OCA or Moscow? The answer is Moscow! Since this approval, other forms of the BCP have been formally approved by ROCOR, Moscow, Antioch and Alexandria. That's pretty much everyone that matters in America except the OCA and the EP who have both chosen to instead "Americanize" their traditional rite. In short, no one has to convert to "Russian" Orthodoxy. One must however believe the Orthodox faith and be under the guidance of an Orthodox bishop.

npmccallum said...

I would agree with John that the inaccuracies in this post severely erode the credibility of your analysis. I won't re-hash John's points, but I will add three more:

1. Relationships between OCA and the Moscow Patriarchate are anything but cooling. If the rumors I've heard are true (and I'm pretty sure they are), a motion was made within the OCA episcopacy to return the tomos of autocephaly to Russia but this motion was clearly rejected by BOTH Moscow and the OCA. Further, and I do not expect anyone outside Orthodoxy to know this, there are a set of ancient canons dealing with the relationships between patriarchates that are somewhat vague. The end result of that vagary is there is a difference of opinion as to whether or not a Patriarchate can unilaterally grant autocephaly (among other things). Moscow takes the side that it can, the EP takes the side that it can't. At the heart of this debate is the tomos of autocephaly to the OCA. My point here is this: Moscow cannot simultaneously hold the interpretations of the canons that it does and disregard the tomos of autocephaly given to the OCA. In short, while it is possible that the tomos will be returned as part of a careful re-organization with the EP, the Russian church *cannot* just abandon the OCA. The Russian Church needs the OCA as a sort of "wild-card" (forgive me for being so crude) in negotiations with the other patriarchates. Further, the largest church in America, and I think the most likely to assume the other Orthodox churches is the EP, who is generally "more liberal" (if that means anything) than the OCA. In other words, there is no upcoming schism, abandonment, russification, etc.

npmccallum said...

2. "The scandals wracking the OCA are in the minds of the Russians damaging the public image of the Russian Orthodox Church." Some allegations that a minor bishop in a remote part of Canada may have had some sexual impropriety in the 1980s is probably not even on the radar for the Russian Church. A leave of absence is the proper thing to do in this situation whether the allegations are true or false. But please correct your post so that it no longer says "chief bishop" so that you don't unjustly tar Metropolitan Jonah's good name as he is not in any way related to these unfortunate allegations.

3. "The Russian Orthodox Church is more conservative than the OCA."

"The Russian Orthodox Church is not known for its openness to ecumenism."

"If an Anglican body wishes to have improved relations with the Russian Orthodox Church, it must fully embrace Russian Orthodoxy."

I find these statements so vague to be pretty much nonsense (and I think them to be demonstrably false). Which church approved the use of the 1892 American BCP for use in American parishes? OCA or Moscow? The answer is Moscow! Since this approval, other forms of the BCP have been formally approved by ROCOR, Moscow, Antioch and Alexandria. That's pretty much everyone that matters in America except the OCA and the EP who have both chosen to instead "Americanize" their traditional rite. In short, no one has to convert to "Russian" Orthodoxy. One must however believe the Orthodox faith and be under the guidance of an Orthodox bishop.

Robin G. Jordan said...

John and NP,

I have made two corrections as you suggested. I am including the following clarification of the particular historic events to which I referred. I took it from the article on the OCA on Wikipedia.

"Due to the massive disruption brought about by the Bolshevik Revolution, Patriarch Tikhon of Moscow in 1920 directed all Russian Orthodox churches outside of Russia to govern themselves autonomously if the central administration were disabled or if they were unable to contact it.[2] Some Russian Orthodox churches outside Russia took this directive as applying to them as well, and used it as the basis for declarations of autonomy even without the necessary condition of the inability of the central administration to govern them. While many ethnic dioceses subsequently placed themselves under the jurisdiction of other Orthodox churches, a large number of Orthodox in America became a self-governing Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Church in America (known informally as the "Metropolia") in 1924 under the leadership of Metropolitan Platon (Rozhdestvensky).

The Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Church in America was granted autocephaly by the Russian Orthodox Church in 1970, and was renamed the Orthodox Church in America. Although the autocephaly of the OCA is not universally recognized by all autocephalous Eastern Orthodox churches, it is in full communion with them. It also is a member of the Standing Conference of Orthodox Bishops in America (SCOBA)."

Continued.

Robin G. Jordan said...

One or two incorrect facts do not invalidate an entire analysis as you well know. Indeed if I applied to your own logic to what you have written and indulged myself in a similar use of hyperbole, I would have to dismiss your posts as an attempt to put your own interpretation on recent developments.

For those unfamiliar with your reference to Moscow Patriarchate's alleged approval of the 1892 American Prayer Book, I refer them to the following excerpt from an article on the Liturgy of St. Tikhon in Orthodox Wiki:

"When St Tikhon was the ruling bishop of the American diocese of the Church of Russia, some Episcopalians, wishing to become Orthodox, asked Bishop Tikhon whether they might be allowed to continue to use the 1892 American Book of Common Prayer. After Bp Tikhon sent this BCP to Moscow, a commission was appointed to examine the use of this book within the Orthodox Church; the final report of this commission addressed the changes that would need to be made in the BCP to make it suitable for Orthodox worship, and the Holy Synod noted in its Observations that the specifics of this rite "can be carried out only on the spot in America," and fount it "desirable to send the 'Observations' themselves to the Right Rev. Tikhon, the American Bishop".

However, this was not to occur. The Episcopalians who had petitioned St Tikhon withdrew their petition, and St Tikhon did not receive any Episcopalians before returning to Russia in 1907. At this point, neither the Holy Synod of the Church of Russia, nor St Tikhon, had approved the rite.

In the 1970s, however, the Liturgy of St Tikhon was produced for use by Episcopalians who wished to convert to Orthodoxy but retain the liturgy to which they were accustomed. The text of the liturgy is based upon the Episcopal Church's 1928 Book of Common Prayer, which was then adapted by Father Joseph Angwin for Orthodox use, following the Observations on the 1892 Book. To do this, the Liturgy included certain features of the Mass of the Catholic Church prior to the Second Vatican Council, along with certain modifications to make it conform to Orthodox theology and practise (including a strengthened epiclesis and the restoration of the original Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed by removing the filioque).

At present, the Liturgy of St Tikhon of Moscow is celebrated in the Church of Antioch (in the Archdiocese of North America and the Archdiocese of Australia, New Zealand and the Philippines). The Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia has approved a service with many similarities (under the name 'The English Liturgy'), as have the Patriarchates of Alexandria and Moscow."

Those who may wish to read more about this subject, I refer them to Alcuin Club Tract XII "Russian Observations upon the American Prayer Book." which is on the Internet at http://anglicanhistory.org/alcuin/tract12.html

It would appear that I am not the only one who has presented incorrect facts.

Robin G. Jordan said...

If you are correct in your statement that Metropolitan Jonah has been very clear with the ACNA in regard to any understanding with the ACNA, why then is the ACNA pursuing this initiative, knowing full well that it would be only a small and even insignificant step toward "intercommunion" with the OCA. Bishop Sutton is touting it as a major step in ecumenical relations. He also appear to be prone to use of hyperbole.

As for relations between the OCA and the Moscow Patriarchate, time will reveal whether or not my analysis was on target. It should prove extremely interesting to watch events unfold.

Chris Jones said...

If you are correct in your statement that Metropolitan Jonah has been very clear with the ACNA in regard to any understanding with the ACNA, why then is the ACNA pursuing this initiative ... ?

Because people hear what they want to hear. There is a long tradition on the Anglo-Catholic side of Anglicanism of over-estimating the theological similarity and the ecumenical closeness between Anglicanism and Orthodoxy. When I was a college student first investigating Orthodoxy (in the 1970s), my Episcopal parish priest assured me that the Episcopal Church and the Orthodox Church were in communion with one another. That has never been true, but many Episcopalians at the time believed it.

As to Metr Jonah's clarity, have you actually read or listened to his address to the ACNA Assembly in Bedford? He could not have been clearer that the standard in Orthodoxy for communion in the sacraments is full agreement in the faith; nor was he shy in laying out the specific issues on which such agreement is lacking.

If any ACNA Anglican thinks reunion between the unashamedly Protestant ACNA and the OCA or any other Orthodox body is imminent, he is deluding himself.

Chris Jones said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
npmccallum said...

Robin,

The fact that no Anglicans took up the offer of having a BCP rite under St Tikhon does not change the fact that it was officially approved for use and that this approval was used as the canonical precedent for later approvals both inside and outside the Moscow Patriarchate.

melxiopp said...

Robin,

Wikipedia is probably not the best source for information on as fraught and partisan an issue as has been the division of the Russian-legacy jurisdictions around the world (not just in North America with the OCA). There are various things in the selection you quoted that betray a certain slant, not that anyone would expect the non-Orthodox to pick up on them.

In brief, ROCOR sees the OCA/Metropolia as having been a part of ROCOR. It went its own way in the 40s trying to cozy up to the Soviet dominated Patriarchate in Moscow. So, ROCOR sees the OCA as a schism from itself. The OCA sees ROCOR as having been a useful confederation of Russian bishops and dioceses, but when ROCOR became more and more politicized (pro-Nazi because they were fighting the Soviets), and heavyhanded and centralized in their dealing with the Russian diaspora, the OCA/Metropolia removed its support for and involvement in that body. The OCA/Metropolia sees the order from St. Tikhon relating to Russian clergy unable to communicate with the central church administration as not creating ROCOR for all Russian Orthodox on the other side of Bolshevik lines (and control), but calling for them to organize. Since the OCA/Metropolia was already organized and functioning (unlike the Russian refugees following the Russian Civil War where most of ROCOR comes from), it was perfectly content to stay as it was until it could make contact with a free central administration, again. The OCA thought that time had come in 1946 (following an Allied victory including Russia and a relatively free Church in Moscow) and broke with ROCOR fully to be reconciled with Moscow. Moscow reneged on the supposed 'deal, which reinforced ROCOR in their view of the situation, and the OCA was in a no man's land, administratively, until 1970. The Tomos of Autocephaly was a way for the OCA to be 'normalized' in its status, especially since ROCOR had been on the outs with both Moscow (for obvious reasons) and with most other Orthodox churches (especially the EP) over its denunciation of ecumenism.

One has to remember that religion was an area that the Soviet government was deeply involved in. Even 'facts' are not always so since the KGB was known to rewrite documents, leak false information and generally sought to divide and conquer, especially when it came to vocal critics of the USSR (e.g., ROCOR). However, the OCA was not simply a patsy for Moscow, either. Schmemann broadcast into Russia with Voice of America and Solzhenitsyn was a member of an OCA parish during his US exile. In short, it was a messy and difficult time and no one decided things perfectly in retrospect. The split between the various Russian jurisdictions is probably best understood as the last front in the Russian Civil War, brothers against brothers, families divided, recriminations and finger-pointing, 20/20 hindsight, emotion, personalities - with the KGB stirring the pot and an anti-Russian Cold War complicating immigrants' treatment abroad.

There is actually a high level commission of the OCA and ROCOR working right now on an agreed statement and a way toward understanding their differences.

Jim said...

I cannot speak for Bp. Sutton (I do not think we have ever met) but I can tell you that I have relatives who are Greek Orthodox and have convinced me the Western version of the Nicaean Creed is simply wrong. I do not use the "et filoque" and TEC has for some years considered it optional as do a number of other provinces.

FWIW
jimB

melxiopp said...

The Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Church in America, which was renamed the Orthodox Church of America in 1970, declared itself autonomous...

The Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Church in America (ROGCCA; aka 'the Metropolia') was granted autocephaly (not autonomy) by her Mother Church, the Church of Russia, in 1970. It then renamed itself the Orthodox Church in America (OCA) following the naming pattern used in other autocephalous Orthodox churches.

The ROGCCA declared itself autonomous without the necessary condition of the inability of the central administration to govern them.

These are two separate issues. The 1970 grant of autocephaly was by Moscow ('central administration'), not a unilateral action of the Metropolia.

St. Tikhon was long dead in 1970 (likely poisoned by the Soviets). His Ukaz O 362 from November 20, 1920 (of Patriarch Tikhon, the Holy Synod, and the Higher Church Council) allowed for the Metropolia and other parts of the Russian Church not under Soviet control to organize themselves as self-governing parts of the Russian Church until the reinstatement of a free, legal church power in Russia. This is the organizing principle of ROCOR and the OCA both, as well as the Evlogy Synod in Western Europe that eventually went under Constantinople. ROCOR, the Metroplia/OCA and those churches that reunited with Moscow in Europe disagreed on the 'until', i.e., when the Moscow Patriarchate could be considered 'free'. Some schismatics believe the current MP to be in no sense a real church but the creation of the Soviet regime - they believe the Russian Church's hierarchy completely died out in Russia (only ROCOR retained a free Russian hierarchy, but ROCOR has succumbed, they believe).

All autocephalous Orthodox Churches , however, do not recognize the atocephaly of the OCA.

Just to clarify, the majority of Orthodox Christians in the world recognize the autocephaly of the OCA, but only a minority of autocephalous churches recognize this autocephaly (i.e., the Churches of Russia, Bulgaria, Poland, Georgia, and the Czech Lands and Slovakia). All OCA laity and clergy intercommune with all of the local churches. The hierarchy intercommunes with Romania, Serbia, Bulgaria, Antioch and Jerusalem, as well; more limited episcopal intercommune takes place with the EP.

Recognition of autocephaly is also a different question that whether the OCA is acknowledged as fully Orthodox and 'grace bearing'. Some see the OCA's autocephaly as uncanonical, but the church is not deemed uncanonical. The OCA did not declare itself independent on its own, it had and has the backing of the largest Orthodox church and was a full member of the recent Episcopal Assembly of all Orthodox bishops in North America.

melxiopp said...

Whatever the Russians choose to do, it is likely to cause a split in the OCA.

This is simply speculation on speculation. Opinion, at best.

The Russian Orthodox Church is not known for its openness to ecumenism.

The Russian Church is an active member of the WCC.

http://www.oikoumene.org/en/member-churches/regions/europe/russian-federation.html

There are large, anti-ecumenist elements in the Church of Russia; ROCOR is decidedly anti-ecumenist and takes no part in the WCC and other ecumenical bodies. ROCOR defined ecumenism as a 'pan-heresy' in the 80s.

If an Anglican body wishes to have improved relations with the Russian Orthodox Church, it must fully embrace Orthodoxy.

Correction, "if an Anglican body wishes to [establish communion with any] Orthodox Church, it must fully embrace Orthodoxy". Metropolitan Jonah's enumeration of the points of difference included the full affirmation of the Orthodox Faith of the Apostles and Church Fathers, the seven Ecumenical Councils, the Nicene Creed in its original form (without the filioque clause inserted at the Council of Toledo, 589 A.D.), all seven Sacraments and a rejection of ‘the heresies of the Reformation.”

His Beatitude listed these in a series of ‘isms’; Calvinism, anti-sacramentalism, iconoclasm and Gnosticism. The ordination of women to the Presbyterate and their consecration as Bishops has to end if intercommunion is to occur, as well as issues surrounding abortion and homosexuality.

This is also not the same as accepting the Byzantine Rite.

If the Russian Orthodox Church reassumes oversight of the OCA, it is not going recognize such an agreement.

This is highly dependent on what the intercommunion agreement was, what it said and didn't say. If the ACNA converted to Orthodoxy and became a diocese of the OCA (like the Evangelical Orthodox Church did when it joined the Antiochian Archdiocese) or if all the parishes were put under the oversight of the OCA's territorial bishops, well then this is just 'conversion' like when any parish is accepted corporately into the Church.

Met Jonah is not talking about an ACNA that simply remains as it is, except with OCA recognition and intercommunion. This is conversion we are talking about.

Joe Mahler said...

Jim said, "I do not use the "et filoque" and TEC has for some years considered it optional...." tec is a good source to follow???????????
Whether the "filioque" should be used or not depends on whether it is true or not. The Bible should be the source that is used. The "Quicumque" states it explicitly. The incomprehensible God can only be know by what He has revealed of himself. It is best to search the Scriptures and not follow the "traditions" of men, east of west, so called "orthodox" or "catholic". Certainly tec is obviously errant and in so many places that one should consider any of its practices as suspect.
At any rate if one calls himself "Anglican then he must consider the BCP 1662 and filioque is in its version of the Nicean Creed and the Quicumque Vult. If that is heresy or apostasy then one who recognizes it as such should quickly depart for the eastern churches which do not use it.

melxiopp said...

...the ACNA may benefit from a split in the OCA.

I can't see how since a split in the OCA resulting in parishes joining the ACNA would imply nothing about Orthodoxy and the ACNA. It would just label ex-OCA parishes as what they would have become: Anglicans. They would be wholly excommunicate and apostate. The ACNA will have benefited only by adding parishes, not by establishing anything with Orthodoxy.

In any event this initiative is not going to further the cause of authentic historic Anglicanism in North America.

I think all Orthodox would agree with this statement.

One or two incorrect facts do not invalidate an entire analysis...

Quite right, I thought a few clarifications might be helpful.

Chris Jones said...

Whether the "filioque" should be used or not depends on whether it is true or not. The Bible should be the source that is used.

Well, sure. The filioque should be confessed if it is true, and not confessed if it is not true. And yes, the Bible should be the standard by which that truth is measured.

But I defy you to demonstrate the truth of the filioque on the basis of Scripture alone (without relying on philosophical assumptions as St Augustine did in his filioquist triadology). Look at what our Lord said in John 15:


But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me.


The Lord speaks of two things here: the sending of the Spirit to the disciples, and the proceeding of the Spirit. These are two different things. There are two things to note here: when the sending and the proceeding take place, and which Person or Persons of the Trinity are involved in the sending and proceeding.

Jesus speaks of the sending of the Spirit in the future tense, meaning that the sending has not yet taken place at the time He spoke. Thus the sending is an event in time. On the other hand, Jesus speaks of the proceeding of the Spirit in the present tense, meaning either that the proceeding is already going on at the time He spoke, or (as I think is more likely) meaning that the proceeding is something that takes place not in time but in eternity.

As to which Person or Persons of the Trinity are involved, Jesus is quite clear that both He and the Father are involved in the sending of the Spirit: whom I will send unto you from the Father. But there is no indication that the Son is involved in the proceeding of the Spirit: even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father.

It is really all contained in John 15.26, and you will look in vain in the rest of the Scriptures for anything that will suggest that John 15.26 really means that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Son as well as from the Father. The only way that you can make the Bible teach the filioque is by deliberately confusing "sending" and "proceeding", as if the two things were the same.

But they are not.

melxiopp said...

"Sending" and "proceeding" are often taken to mean the same thing in English. Perhaps that is true of Latin-based languages, maybe even the Germanic languages. However, in the Greek of the Bible, Constantinople I and Ephesus and all grecophone parties have been consistently clear that the two terms, in Greek, are quite different. Even the term "proceed" itself is clear in Greek that it can only mean "as from a single source", which the Latin does not mean or imply. This is really the root of the issue, in my mind, together with issues of Carolingian real politick and the Western view of the papacy.

Robin G. Jordan said...

I appreciate the additional information that those leaving comments have provided. Since mass conversion to Orthodoxy or admission to an Orthodox juridiction does not appear to be a move that the ACNA leadership are contemplating, such a move might cause the break-up of the ACNA, the GAFCON primates' support of the omission of the filoque clause irrespective of the case that may be built for doing so would constitute a repudiation of the Jerusalem Declarations' affirmation of the the Thirty-Nine Articles as authoritative for Anglicans today, and such a repudiation might cause a break-up of GAFCON and divide the global South community and its Western allies, I still must pose the question, "What is the point of this initiative?" In some ways I reminded of a child playing with matches in a garden shed with an open can of gasoline next to him, striking the matches and throwing them up into the air. Sooner or later one will fall into the open gasoline can and cause an explosion.

melxiopp said...

"What is the point of this initiative?"

It's not appropriate for me to speculate on the Anglican side of things.

On the Orthodox side, Met. Jonah has simply been reaching out to a group he has affinities with in an example of true ecumenism: speaking the truth in love discussing conversion, not union or a papering over of real differences. He's offering answers to questions honestly posed. Getting the Anglicans to drop the filioque would be a major step, from the Orthodox perspective, but far from representing a move to what Orthodox would consider to be the fullness of the faith.

Acolyte4236 said...

Joe Mahler,

The Athanasian Creed is historically neither. It was not written by or at the time of Athanasius. It is a much later western, particularly Frankish statement of belief. It may hold some normative status given its place in the Articles of Religion, but as such it represents a sectarian faith and not the faith of the whole church. At no time could it have been said that it passed muster in terms of catholicity.

Acolyte4236 said...

Robin,

A few points. Even if there were a schism in the OCA, it is highly unlikely that people would go to anything distinctly Anglican. First, many of the OCA are now cradle Orthodox and those that aren’t do not necessarily share any affinity or history with Anglicanism, the reformation or any other variety. If anything such people would simply go to another Orthodox jurisdiction and this is usually what happens when there is a schism or a squabble.

Further, your analysis assumes that the only major fault line between Anglicans and the Orthodox is the Filioque. This isn’t true whether one holds to the Articles strictly or not. A removing of the Filioque (while retaining its theology) is not a sufficient condition for theological isomorphism between Anglicanism and Orthodoxy. There are plenty of other differences.

As for the Articles of Religion, assuming that they are normative in Anglicanism, they are not ultimately so and so are not beyond possible revision. I see no principled reason why on Reformation principles they could not be revised with respect to the Filioque or anything else for that matter. The fact that they revised the formal canon of Scripture is sufficient to prove the point. If one adheres to Sola Scriptura, whatever normative content terms like “historic” have, it is necessarily a pen-ultimate normativity and so an appeal to “historic Anglicanism” isn’t a show stopper. Historic Anglicanism could be wrong on its own principles, since it denies that there are any infallible judgments of the church or the church of England.


When Met. Jonah calls Calvinism “heresy” (and rightly so given its incipient monothelitism), I don’t think he’s talking to the ACNA because he thinks there could be mutual intercommunion with Anglicans remaining so.

If Anglicanism wishes to lay claim to the faith of the undivided church, the Filioque needs to go. The fact that the English and Continental Reformers retained it, shows just how indebted to Catholicism they still are theologically speaking. The fact is that the Reformers retained it because most of them were at best knee deep when it came to Trinitarianism and their focus was primarily on soteriological issues. This doesn’t imply that they didn’t alter and develop the Trinitarianism that they received, because they did so, particularly along the lines of the resulting quasi-Scotistic/Ockhamistic Covenant theology. They just reverse engineered their Trinitarianism and Christology to suit the soteriology they have constructed.

As for the REC abandoning its Calvinist heritage, the change didn’t come from an influx of members because the REC was only about 7000 members before and during the changes. The change came from the top down and not the other way around. I watched it happen from the inside in the early and mid 90’s.

Joe Mahler said...

Acolyte4236,
I never called the Quicumque Vult a creed nor did I called the Athanasian Creed. It's not a creed, though it is commonly so called. But it is part of the Anglican formularies and the things that make one Anglican. When the doctrines expressed in the 1662 BCP, the 1662 BCP, the 39 Articles or Religion, the
the filioque, and the Quicumque Vult are rejected, that person is hardly an Anglican. May I point out the Morning Prayer is required to be said each day throughout the year, on certain of those days the Quicumque Vult is required in place of the Apostles' Creed. If one does not believe in the creeds as they are written, how can one use the Communion Service. But the argument concerning the the addition of filioque to the Nicene Creed at the Council of Toledo is only a problem to the eastern so called orthodox churches. But the wording of the Decalogue's second commandment doesn't seem to mean much to them insofar as images of deity are concerned; and exactly who do they think Jesus is? God? or no? If filioque is comfortable with Scriptures in western languages (Latin, English) and means what is expressed in Scriptures which is the authority on all doctrine, then there is no problem. "He decended into hell" must also be understood in a Biblical sense. Anything out of context and without Biblical understanding can lead to just about anything.
John 14:16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;
John 15:26 But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, [even] the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me:
John 16:7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.
John 16:13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, [that] shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.
John 16:14 He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew [it] unto you.
John 16:15 All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew [it] unto you.
Romans 8:9 But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.
Galatians 4:6 And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.
Philippians 1:19 For I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ,

Joe Mahler said...

Acolyte4236,
I never called the Quicumque Vult a creed nor did I called the Athanasian Creed. It's not a creed, though it is commonly so called. But it is part of the Anglican formularies and the things that make one Anglican. When the doctrines expressed in the 1662 BCP, the 1662 BCP, the 39 Articles or Religion, the
the filioque, and the Quicumque Vult are rejected, that person is hardly an Anglican. May I point out the Morning Prayer is required to be said each day throughout the year, on certain of those days the Quicumque Vult is required in place of the Apostles' Creed. If one does not believe in the creeds as they are written, how can one use the Communion Service. But the argument concerning the the addition of filioque to the Nicene Creed at the Council of Toledo is only a problem to the eastern so called orthodox churches. But the wording of the Decalogue's second commandment doesn't seem to mean much to them insofar as images of deity are concerned; and exactly who do they think Jesus is? God? or no? If filioque is comfortable with Scriptures in western languages (Latin, English) and means what is expressed in Scriptures which is the authority on all doctrine, then there is no problem. "He decended into hell" must also be understood in a Biblical sense. Anything out of context and without Biblical understanding can lead to just about anything.
John 14:16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;
John 15:26 But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, [even] the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me:
John 16:7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.
John 16:13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, [that] shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.
John 16:14 He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew [it] unto you.
John 16:15 All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew [it] unto you.
Romans 8:9 But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.
Galatians 4:6 And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.
Philippians 1:19 For I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ,

Joe Mahler said...

Acolyte4236,
I never called the Quicumque Vult a creed nor did I called the Athanasian Creed. It's not a creed, though it is commonly so called. But it is part of the Anglican formularies and the things that make one Anglican. When the doctrines expressed in the 1662 BCP, the 1662 BCP, the 39 Articles or Religion, the
the filioque, and the Quicumque Vult are rejected, that person is hardly an Anglican. May I point out the Morning Prayer is required to be said each day throughout the year, on certain of those days the Quicumque Vult is required in place of the Apostles' Creed. If one does not believe in the creeds as they are written, how can one use the Communion Service. But the argument concerning the the addition of filioque to the Nicene Creed at the Council of Toledo is only a problem to the eastern so called orthodox churches. But the wording of the Decalogue's second commandment doesn't seem to mean much to them insofar as images of deity are concerned; and exactly who do they think Jesus is? God? or no? If filioque is comfortable with Scriptures in western languages (Latin, English) and means what is expressed in Scriptures which is the authority on all doctrine, then there is no problem. "He decended into hell" must also be understood in a Biblical sense. Anything out of context and without Biblical understanding can lead to just about anything.

Joe Mahler said...

This is what is mean by filioque:

John 14:16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;
John 15:26 But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, [even] the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me:
John 16:7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.
John 16:13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, [that] shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.
John 16:14 He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew [it] unto you.
John 16:15 All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew [it] unto you.
Romans 8:9 But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.
Galatians 4:6 And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.
Philippians 1:19 For I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ,

melxiopp said...

But the wording of the Decalogue's second commandment doesn't seem to mean much to them insofar as images of deity are concerned; and exactly who do they think Jesus is? God? or no?

A review of the theology of the Seventh Ecumenical Council, and of Sts John Damascene and Theodore the Studite would seem to be in order before a productive conversation on images, the second commandment, and christology and the Incarnation (what images are really about) could be had.

However, your point underscores the breadth of differences between Orthodoxy and Anglicanism (historic or otherwise) beyond the filioque, regardless of whether this or that Anglican seems quite Orthodox (cf. St Raphael Hawaweeny's "Pastoral Direction and Instruction on Orthodox/Episcopal Relations and Ministrations in America (1912)"). It also highlights why the Orthodox speak of Anglicans' conversion, and not about union.

Joe Mahler said...

melxiopp,

Actually we low church Anglicans would spend our time better in the process of converting the eastern orthodox to a Biblical Evangelical Christianity rather than senselessly arguing over what came out of the General Councils.
(Article XXI. Of the Authority of General Councils from the Articles of Religion):
"General Councils...And when they be gathered together, (forasmuch as they be an assembly of men, whereof all be not governed with the Spirit and Word of God,) they may err, and sometimes have erred, even in the things pertaining unto God. wherefore things ordained by them as necessary to salvation have neither strength nor authority, unless it may be declared that they be taken out of holy Scripture."

Jim said...

Personal to Joe with Robin's permission: TEC usage matters to me and the roughly 95% of American Anglicans who are not in the schismatic groups.

FWIW
jimB

Joe Mahler said...

Jim,
Along with women ordinations, gay ordinations, liberal theology, divorce and remarriage, No Christian would any any doings with this. 95% American Anglicans who are not in schismatic groups? Are these what you would call Episcopalians in the TEC? I'm sorry, if there is any Christian in that group should have fled long ago. He would have been unequally hitched to the unbeliever, to the rebel against God's righteousness.

melxiopp said...

Jim, I think you, me, St. Raphael and many Orthodox agree that union talks are a waste of time, especially on the corporate level. You highlight the dramatic differences within the various Anglican communities themselves; each of those communities has a very different view of theology vis a vis the Orthodox Church.

From what I've heard, there are really just a handful of ACNA parishes or clergy that are truly interested in Orthodoxy as Orthodoxy. That isn't corporate conversion or the fruit of ecumenical talks beyond simply sharing what we believe and why. Most of the ACNA and most Anglicanism in general does not believe as the Orthodox do, and that is the prerequisite for unity.

This is the time in the conversation where the final response of Patriarch Jeremias II to the Lutherans is quoted.

Joe Mahler said...

melxiopp,

Don't let me stop you from dialoguing on corporate union with Anglicanism, if you have such official authority. It is much more to be in union with Christ and in obedience with him. For all Christians are priests and there is only one High Priest, Jesus Christ. Where in the Scriptures do you find such things as archbishops and metropolitans????? and other contrivances of man made up tradition. The Apostles themselves behaved more humbly that what I find in historically hierarchical ecclesiastical organizations. Look at the sheer beauty of the vestments of the metropolitan/archbishop/bishop at the head of this article. Did Christ ever wear such?

melxiopp said...

On the offchance your questions weren't simply rhetorical:

'Bishop' is certainly found in Scripture as the leader of a given church. In Orthodox ecclesiology, 'Archbishops' and 'Metropolitans' are simply bishops of more senior churches; they are honored as something like elder brothers and have been accorded certain rights and honors by custom according to their seniority, just as is the case in many traditional cultures.

Look at the sheer beauty of the vestments of the metropolitan / archbishop / bishop at the head of this article. Did Christ ever wear such?

Christ did not need to wear such because He Himself is Christ, the God-Man. The Bridegroom is not the same as his groomsmen, as the guests.

The clergy wear vestments because they are standing in the place of Christ, they are visions of Christ, liturgically. The divine services are the breaking through of the worship of heaven (as seen in Revelation, Daniel, Isaiah and Ezekiel) into this world, they are our participation in that eternal, timeless worship. Vestments are merely a way in which heavenly realities are poorly incarnate in this mundane, terrestrial world - similar to the way in which three dimensional realities are 'falsely' created on two dimensional surfaces. St. John Chrysostom said something to the effect of, "Christ cannot appear until the priest disappears".

For all the glory of Moscow and Hagia Sophia, most Orthodox for most of their history have worshiped in poverty and simplicity.

The Apostles themselves behaved more humbly that what I find in historically hierarchical ecclesiastical organizations.

I can't speak to your personal experience of hierarchs, but I would suggest reading the lives of St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco, St Innocent of Alaska, St. Benjamin of Petrograd, and the late Patriarch Pavle of Serbia for examples of apostolic humility in the Orthodox Church.

It is much more to be in union with Christ... For all Christians are priests and there is only one High Priest, Jesus Christ.

Yes, the Orthodox agree.

...other contrivances of man made up tradition

Yes, we agree and only hold to those traditions of the Body of Christ Himself, the Church, guided and led by the Holy Spirit. Given the experience of many Anglicans and Roman Catholics, I can understand your distrust of this statement. But, I assure you, it is true.

Acolyte4236 said...

Joe,

Regardless of what you designated the Athanasian Creed as, I can’t see how it touches my point in the main. In so far as Anglicans claim to adhere to the Faith of the whole church, adherence to that statement is not adherence to the faith of the whole church. It is by its nature and content sectarian and not just because of the Filioque.

It may be true that in the past adherence to the BCP and the articles and such characterized Anglicanism but as I noted, these on Anglican principles are not infallible judgments. Anglicanism at any point on the temporal line, like all forms of Protestantism is provisional and revisable.

The synod of Toledo was a local synod and never amounted to ecumenical standing, even in the west. The Filioque clause didn’t become normative in the west until Rome finally accepted it. Prior to that, it was a Frankish theologoumenon of Augustinian impetus because Rome opposed it for a number of centuries prior.

I’ll simply echo other commentors here with respect to images. It goes without saying that not only are the Anglican parishes who follow the Homilies on images few and far between, but the Homilies do not represent a teaching that is the same as that of the Continental Reformers. Consequently the latter would likewise accuse, and did so, Anglicans of not following the biblical injunction against images.

More specifically, your remarks betray a lack of familiarity with images as none of them portray the divine essence, nor aim to and this I spelled out in the 2nd council of Nicea as well as her representative theologians (Damascene and the Studite.) This synod was accepted by the apostolic sees and was rejected for a time by the Franks. It is unfortunate that the Reformers picked up and used the Libiri Corolini and its arguments, a good many of them based on a corrupted text of the council in Latin, for their opposition to the theology of images.

Surely the Orthodox think Jesus is fully divine and Jesus is a divine and only a divine person who assumed human nature (body, soul, intellect and will). But icons do not attempt to portray the divine essence but only the person denoted, in much the same way that biblical portrayals use figurative and representational imagery to depict divine persons as in say the book of Revelation or Daniel.

But of course, I think the Christological confusion is on the Reformation foot and not the Orthodox one. Reformation Christology is generally defective, not only in that its predestinarianism implies monothelitism but in so far as the persona mediatoris is a product of the union of the two natures, signaling a Nestorianizing Christology. This is quite apparent in Calvin (Inst. 2..5.14) and other Reformed thinkers. (See Muller, Christ and the Decree: Predestination and Christology in Reformed Theology from Calvin to Perkins.)

Acolyte4236 said...

Joe,

As for the theology of the Filioque itself it seems to me you aren’t clear as to what exactly that doctrine is. That doctrine is not that the Son sends the Spirit in the history of salvation. Rather that doctrine is that the eternal person of the Spirit is generated from the Father and the Son as from one principle. It is a thesis about hypostatic origination, not specific temporal missions. Consequently, the Filioque is not conformable to scriptural language in any translation since no biblical text teaches that idea.

This is why none of the texts you cite support the doctrine. Jn. 14, 15 and 16 all speak of a future sending, not an eternal generation of the person of the Spirit. If you wish to claim that these support a generation of the Spirit, then we would have to conclude that the Spirit came into existence, which is a species of Arianism.

John 16:15 is speaking of teaching and not hypostatic origination so that doesn’t support the Filioque either.

Romans 8 doesn’t teach the Filioque because the Spirit is also called the Spirit of truth, but we don’t think the divine attribute or property of truth generated the Spirit. Such a use of this passage uncritically assumes that “of” always and only means “from” in terms of hypostatic generation, it doesn’t as any decent lexigraphical analysis will show.

Gal 4 doesn’t support the doctrine either since this is speaking of the economy and the same goes for Philippians 1.


As for Article 20, not all Anglicans interpret as you do. I’d recommend taking a look at Bp. Forbes’ commentary for example. That said though, given the way you wish to take article 20, it stands in the same position and is consequently fallible and can not ultimately bind my conscience nor that of any man, unless I agree that it is so first. But then, if it is only normative if I judge it to be so, then I have become the ultimate judge and authority, and not the article and that seems an entirely unbiblical posture.

As for the title and standing of metropolitans and such, no one thinks that such things are de fide. And as your own articles indicate, traditions of the church are not under the private judgment of any man. (Article 34)

Perhaps Christ never wore a bishops vestments, but Christ did institute high priestly vestments in the OT for example. Added to this fact is that Paul himself describes his role and function as a “priest” in Romans 15. Christ didn’t do lots of things that the Apostles did for example or vice versa, but that of itself doesn’t imply that the actions or practices are unbiblical.

Joe Mahler said...

"The clergy wear vestments because they are standing in the place of Christ,..."
Where is the Biblical warrant for the priest/bishop to be "standing in the place of Christ"?

An interesting note:

antichrist come from two Greek words, the preposition "anti" and the noun "christos". The preposition "anti" may be translated into English as: against, opposed to, and in the place of, or in the stead of. Among the many titles that the bishop of Rome uses is "Vicar of Christ." A vicar is one who serves as a substitute or in the place of another.

melxiopp said...

Without agreement on authority in the church, we will not agree on anything else.

To address your last rather unfair jab regarding antichrist and the idea that anyone can stand in the place of Christ:

Hieromonk Gregorios [in his The Divine Liturgy - A Commentary in the Light of the Fathers] relates how St. John Chrysostom explains the role of the celebrant in the Eucharist:

'The real celebrant of the eucharistic Mystery is Christ: He who celebrated the Divine Eucharist 'at the Last Supper is the same One who now also performs these Mysteries. We priests are in the position of servants. The One who sanctifies and changes [the Holy Gifts] is Christ.' The celebrant is the instrument of the Holy Spirit; he stands in the place of Christ.'

Notice that Hieromonk Gregorios does not say that the celebrant stands "in place of Christ," but rather "in the place of Christ." Christ is not absent - but present - in the Liturgy; that presence being actualized and realized in and through the sacramental priesthood of the Church.

Additionally, this excerpt from from "Man, Woman and Priesthood, edited by Peter Moore, SPCK, London, 1978:

‘Our Lord and God Jesus Christ’, says St Cyprian of Carthage (d. 258), ‘is himself the high priest of God the Father; he offered himself as a sacrifice to the Father and commanded that this should be done in memory of him; thus the priest truly acts in the place of Christ (vice Christi).’(28) ‘It is the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit who perform everything, teaches St John Chrysostom (d. 407); ‘but the priest lends his tongue and supplies his hand.(29) ... It is not man who causes the bread and wine to become Christ's Body and Blood: this is done by Christ himself, crucified for our sakes. The priest stands before us, doing what Christ did and speaking the words that he spoke; but the power and grace are from God.’(30)

The priesthood, then, is always Christ's and not ours. The priest in church is not ‘another’ priest alongside Christ, and the sacrifice that he offers, in union with the people, is not ‘another’ sacrifice but always Christ's own. The ministerial priest, as priest, possesses no identity of his own: his priesthood exists solely in order to make Christ present. This understanding of the ministerial priesthood is clearly affirmed by St Paul: ‘We come therefore as Christ's ambassadors; it is as if God were appealing to you through us’ (2 Cor. 5.20); ‘you welcomed me as an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus’ (Gal. 4,14). St Ignatius of Antioch (d. c. 107) speaks similarly: ‘The bishop presides as the image of God.’(31) In the words of Antiochus the Monk (seventh century): ‘The priests should be imitators of their high priest [i.e. the bishop], and he in his turn should be imitator of Christ the high priest.’(32) In the consecration service of an Orthodox bishop, the chief officiant prays: ‘O Christ our God ... who hast appointed for us teachers to occupy thy throne ... make this man to be an imitator of thee the true Shepherd.’

The bishop or priest is therefore an imitator, image, or sign of Christ the one mediator and high priest. In short, the ministerial priest is an icon. ‘Standing between God and men,’ writes St Theodore the Studite (d. 826), ‘the priest in the priestly invocations is an imitation of Christ. For the apostle says: "There is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus" (1 Tim. 2.5). Thus the priest is an icon of Christ.’(33) This notion of the priest as an icon has far-reaching implications:

First, there can be no question of any identification between the priest and Christ, for an icon is in no sense identical with that which it depicts.(34)

Secondly, an icon is not the same as a photograph or a realistic portrait; and so, when the priest is considered as an icon, this is not to be understood grossly in a literal or naturalistic sense. The priest is not an actor on the stage, ‘made up’ to look like Christ.

melxiopp said...

St Ignatius of Antioch writing soon after the close of the biblical canon wrote:

"When ye are obedient to the bishop as to Jesus Christ it is evident to me that ye are living not after men, but after Jesus Christ ... Be ye obedient also to the presbytery as to the Apostles of Jesus Christ." (ad Trallians, 2)

But, again, this gets back to a question of authority. If we don't agree on basic principles, we will not agree on those derived from them. It's probably best to simply drop it.

melxiopp said...

The source for my first quote referring to Fr. Gregorios (Hatziemmanouil) of the Cell of St John the Theologian, Mt. Athos is Fr. Steven Kostoff'a blog, the second is by (then) Bp. Kallistos Ware. The original pieces can be found:

http://orthodoxmeditations.blogspot.com/2010/10/christ-is-celebrant.html

http://www.stpaulsirvine.org/html/priesthood_ware.htm

Acolyte4236 said...

Joe,

Since the topic of this thread is concerning Orthodoxy and not Catholicism, I am not sure what relevance an anti-papal polemic has here. It is simply irrelevant.

Second, your argument is a bad one since it trades on an equivocation of sense. To stand in the place of or be a substitute can be taken in a variety of senses. One can do so as an authorized representative, which surely has strong biblical warrant, regardless of how one wishes theologically to cash out representation. Or one can thinking a substitute as a fraudulent or malicious imposter. The two senses are not the same. Anti-Christ uses the latter but not necessarily the former as has been pointed out above by others. The Apostles use representational language of themselves. So the only way to make your argument go through is to convict the apostolic band of being anti-Christ.

Joe Mahler said...

"Without agreement on authority in the church, we will not agree on anything else."

WOW! So, the monarchical bishop is essential to Christian fellowship. Will you go so far as to say, "without bishops, there is no church"? The "orthodox" ecclesiology is not provable by Scriptures. There is no Biblical distinction between presbyters and bishops. Both words appear in the Bible but both are treated the same in function and requirements. A church with bishops (note plural) no presbyters are mentioned and vice versa.

BUT, I'm really surprised that no agreement may be had if first agreement must be made on the AUTHORITY OF THE CHURCH.

The authority of the Church comes from God. It's authority and function are spelled out in Scriptures. Religious organizations which rely heavily on traditions of men find a clergy more interested in protecting their own position, authority, and power. Ecclesiology, therefore, becomes the most important doctrine to them. Funny, that was neither the Gospel of Jesus nor the thrust of the teachings of the Apostles. Faith in Jesus, regeneration, salvation, and sanctification were the Gospel, are the Gospel, and will be the Gospel.
Did you know that the Church would exist even if every member the the clergy were wiped from the face of the earth. Apostolic succession is a contrivance of man and in no wise provable by Scriptures.
The Good News is that by God's grace you are saved if you believe in Jesus Christ. The Good News is that the Christian is freed from the slavery of sin to be a slave of God to do righteousness. That no one stands between the Christian and Christ. That the Christian may go directly to God without any intercessor. Jesus is God. He is our Advocate and Mediator. He is the sacrifice for our sins. The one full and perfect sacrifice. The only other sacrifice that we make is ourselves as living sacrifices. Christians need to study the Scriptures to do righteously, not because doing the works of the Law will save them, that is by Grace and by Faith, but to live to please God in all his doings. The Gospel is quite simple. Enough burden has been placed on us to do the righteousness that God demands without the added burden of the Pharisees, ancient or modern.
No, if being a Christian first depends on agreement in ecclesiology then no one is saved. For who first believes in "orthodox" ecclesiology before he believes in Jesus Christ?????????

Acolyte4236 said...

Joe,

Asserting a conclusion is not the same as a proof of it, so that asserting that there is no biblical support for episcopacy as of the esse of the church doesn’t prove anything. It is dismissible by a simple contrary assertion.

Sure there is a distinction between bishops and presbyters in the NT. I’d direct you to not a few Anglican works that have presented such arguments, not the least of which is Felix Cirlot’s, massive work, Apostolic Succession: Is it True? But more to the point, while the NT calls all bishops presbyters, it does not label all presbyters as bishops. The same is true with the term apostolos. All apostles are presbyters, but that doesn’t imply that all presbyters were apostles. And your argument would prove too much since diakonos is also used interchangeably with presbuteros but Presbyterians do not take that to mean that deacons and presbyters are the same office. Interchangable usage, particularly one way, doesn’t imply co-extensive semantic domains.


Further, take the evidence from Third John, which was so strong and compelling that for nearly a century Presbyterians desired to remove it from the canon of Scripture. It speaks of an office holder that is superior to presbyters but lower than an apostle and it takes an apostle, namely John to deal with him in a disciplinary manner. A rose by any other name…

As for the plurality of bishops in a locale, this is irrelevant, since the thesis of episcopacy doesn’t entail that there can only be one bishop in a locale. It only entails that bishops alone are the source of the ministry, that is, only bishops can ordain. This is what monarchial episcopate means, monarchia, single source. Further, there is no biblical or extra biblical evidence to the effect that presbyters could ordain of themselves and that such a belief was of apostolic origin.

It may be true as you write that organizations that are grounded in traditions of men, of merely human authority seek to protect that authority and status. It is also true that those sects found on the private judgment of a given teacher do the same. Either way, that doesn’t prove that the Orthodox are such an organization either way and so it is useless to your cause.

Ecclesiology is an important doctrine because it is a consequence of the two twin pillars of Christianity-the Trinity and the Incarnation, both doctrines that the Reformers fudged on. When Lutherans like Chemnitz write that person and nature mean the same thing in Christology or practically every Reformed theology from Calvin to Perkins writes that Jesus is a divine and human person formed out of the union of the two natures this doesn’t inspire confidence that they possess the biblical faith. Chalcedonian Christology just isn’t compatible with the Reformation. Pick one or the other.

All the things you note concerning soteriology are duly important, but you’ve given no reason for thinking that the Orthodox neglect those. And further you seem to ignore the obvious point that such doctrines are a function of Christology. The Reformers held what they did ultimately about predestination and monergistic regeneration because of their Christological beliefs and not the other way around.

Your assertion that there are no intercessors other than Christ contradicts Paul’s explicit statements asking for intercession or speaking of many intercessors in Christ. Here you confuse intercession with mediation. Clergy are not mediators and so you create a straw man.

Secondly, the Gospel never comes apart from those who are sent, whether it is Christ sent from the Father, the Apostles sent out or their successors. The first question then is who sent you and then afterwards, what doctrine do you present? Who then commissioned the Reformers? They had neither an ordinary commissioning nor an extraordinary commissioning.

Joe Mahler said...

The authority of Scriptures is truly Catholic/catholic and universal among Christians. The usefulness of theological writings goes only so far as they are in agreement with Holy Writ. They are not necessarily inspired, and being of human origin may well be in error. They are not inerrant as is the Bible.
You rely too much on non Biblical writings. When did you take up to be judge as to whom Providence sends and does not send. Christianity is growing throughout the world, even in the pagan islamic dominions. These effective missionaries are not of the eastern persuasions. They carry a simply Gospel without the baggage of man made up tradition. They have produced the Scriptures in hundreds of languages other than Latin, Greek, and Slavonic. Some of these languages are spoken by a few hundred people. But these missionaries are preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ and equipping the new Christians with the most important book and the only book from which doctrine may be authoritatively derived, the Bible. They bring with them no clumsy ecclesiastical structure which derives most of its specifics from man made up traditions. Christians do quite well without the writings of the early church but they cannot do without the Bible. Stick to Scriptures, even the Nicene Creed appeals to Scriptures for it validity.

Acolyte4236 said...

Joe Mahler,

It may be true that the Scriptures are the highest authority, but it doesn’t follow that they are the only authority. Second, even being the highest authority doesn’t place just anyone as a competent, let alone, an authoritative judge as to what the scriptures teach or determining their contents. To paraphrase Wilde, the Bible is like mirror, you can’t have an ape looking in and an apostle looking out. Plenty of Anglican divines have argued against Sola Scriptura against the Puritans. Just so long as Anglicans argue that the church is the judge as to what scripture teaches, they oppose Sola Scriptura.

The usefulness of other writings may be so in so far as they agree with the scriptures, but it doesn’t follow from that, that the judgment of anyone as to what agrees with scripture is necessarily the correct, let alone authoritative one.

Further, that criteria won’t be useful since various Christian doctrines are not capable of being derived from the Bible alone since they are Christian doctrines that establish the extent of what constitutes the Bible itself. The formal canon of Scripture as spelled out by say the Articles of Religion is not a biblically derived teaching. It is extra biblical. If it is not on par authoritatively with Scripture itself, at least formally so, then what constitutes the bible can legitimately vary over time. Protestants revised the canon once and so there is no principle reason why they may not choose to do so again.

I grant that there are missionaries, but plenty of them are carrying forth a non-Reformation view of the Gospel and so are carrying no gospel at all on Reformation principles. Somehow I don’t see how you would be happy about that.

I must argue to the contrary that Christians do quite well without tradition. Just turn on your television and watch what Christians end up believing when Creeds, Confessions and councils are removed. It isn’t even bad enough to qualify as heterodoxy, it is quackadoxy. Furthermore, your position is actually that not of the classical Reformers who enshrined tradition as a subordinate authority, but that of the Anabaptists. Calvin’s Geneva strictly endorsed what the religious authorities, and not every private individual, judged to be scriptural.

Furthermore, if your reasoning were right, you should dispense with the BCP, the Homilies and the rest of the Anglican baggage.

Joe Mahler said...

"Furthermore, if your reasoning were right, you should dispense with the BCP, the Homilies and the rest of the Anglican baggage."
They are useless they find justifiable warrant in Scriptures. And yes they are dispensable but the Bible is not.
Now the praying to saints and invoking theotokas (sp) do not find any justifiable warrant in Scriptures and smack at if not in fas idolatry. The OCA in the vesper service invokes Mary with "save us". How's this. Can she even hear us. Is she some goddess of a sort. Is "Orthodoxy" polytheistic? All of this stuff certainly is in no wise comfortable with the Bible, Old or New Testaments.

Joe Mahler said...

"They are useless they find justifiable warrant in Scriptures."

The above should read,

"They are useless unless they find justifiable warrant in Scriptures."

melxiopp said...

Back to a more directly relevant comment on the original post: a video of Metropolitan Jonah's speech to ACNA can be viewed here:

http://byztex.blogspot.com/2009/06/metropolitan-jonah-speaks-to-anglican.html

Additional information (especially valuable are the links within each post) can be found here:

http://westernorthodox.blogspot.com/2009/06/next-western-rite.html

http://westernorthodox.blogspot.com/2009/06/met-jonah-renews-st-tikhons-dialogue.html

melxiopp said...

The OCA in the vesper service invokes Mary with "save us". How's this.

This language is common to all Orthodox, Byzantine and 'Eastern' rites, in general, not just the OCA.

You ask important questions, it's a shame you assume there are no answers. In fact, the answers have been around for a long, long time. Prior to discovery Orthodoxy, I didn't know much about what was outside of my little denomination's boundaries either - and what I did know was generally a caricature.

The mother of God can 'save us' in the same way St. Paul says the believing spouse can save his/her unbelieving spouse.

Such language, and the role of the mother of God generally, is attested to early on. For instance, the Egyptian Liturgy for the Nativity of Christ dates to the 200s (while most of the Church was hiding in the catacombs) and assumes the Theotokos (mother of God) can her them when it says:

"Beneath thy tenderness of heart
we take refuge, O Theotokos,
disdain not our supplications in our necessity,
but deliver us from perils,
O only pure and blessed one."

melxiopp said...

Once the Church emerges from the catacombs and the services and sacraments of the Church become better known (though the Creed, the services and the sacraments are still primarily kept secret even in St. Cyril of Jerusalem's day), then the fullness of the Church's practices and teachings are made better known. After the Council of Ephesus, earlier devotions regarding the mother of God are expanded on dramatically, but the kernel had already been there. The same is true of other 3rd and 4th century attestations of the invoking the saints. For example:

St. Hippolytus of Rome (+c. 236)

[Appealing to the three companions of Daniel] Think of me, I beseech you, so that I may achieve with you the same fate of martyrdom.

St. Ephraim the Syrian (+373)

Remember me, ye heirs of God, ye brethren of Christ, supplicate the Saviour earnestly for me, that I may be freed though Christ from him that fights against me day by day.

Ye victorious martyrs who endured torments gladly for the sake of the God and Saviour; ye who have boldness of speech towards the Lord Himself; ye saints, intercede for us who are timid and sinful men, full of sloth, that the grace of Christ may come upon us, and enlighten the hearts of all of us that so we may love him.

Letter of the Second Ecumenical Council to Emperor St. Theodosius the Great (Constantinople, 381 AD)

May God by the prayers of the Saints, show favour to the world, that you may be strong and eminent in all good things as an Emperor most truly pious and beloved of God.

St. Cyril of Jerusalem (+386)

We then commemorate also those who have fallen asleep before us, first, patriarchs, prophets, apostles, martyrs, that God, by their prayers and intercessions, may receive our petitions.

The Cappadocians

“In one of his letters, St. Basil (+379) explicitly writes that he accepts the intercession of the apostles, prophets and martyrs, and he seeks their prayers to God. (Letter 360) Then, speaking about the Forty Martyrs, who suffered martyrdom for Christ, he emphasizes that they are common friends of the human race, strong ambassadors and collaborators in fervent prayers. (Chapter 8)

“St. Gregory of Nyssa (+395-400) asks St. Theodore the Martyr …to fervently pray to our Common King, our God, for the country and the people (Encomium to Martyr Theodore).

“The same language is used by St. Gregory the Theologian (+390) in his encomium to St. Cyprian. (Gen. 44: 2 and Encomium to Julian, Iuventinus and Maximinus, 3).”

Etc.

Miracle-working such as we see in Acts is the result of the Incarnation, the hypostatic union of human and divine nature. The ability to hear prayers is also due to this, it isn't a semi-divine ability of the saints as simple human beings - it is due to their union with Christ.

The difference between latreia and douleia, hyperdouleia and proskynesis is also important, and eminently clear in the Greek of the early Church and the Fathers (if not in our English).

Acolyte4236 said...

Joe,

Now you’ve changed the objections and left my previous points untouched. You’ve also missed the point of my last objection. You wrote that a Christian could do just fine without all those things from tradition. If that is so, then why retain any of it? Second, the Anglican position has not historically been that of the Presbyterians that everything that is done liturgically must have warrant of scripture. Rather it has been that the church has the right to decree in areas where Scripture is silent and said rites or acts are not contrary to Scripture. And it is the church who judges and it is not left up to just any man to do so for himself. And third, if tradition is to go, then plenty of other things are to go too, like say the formal canon of Scripture since that is a tradition too.

You assert, but do not demonstrate that saintly invocation lacks scriptural warrant. This is fallacious for a number of reasons. First, it tries to saddle Orthodoxy with Protestant presuppositions and so you beg the question. Second, your approach is scattershot and you throw out a number of things that you find objectionable from a Protestant perspective but without any investigation or analysis of what these terms or phrases could mean within the tradition of use. And further, we do not even have the same canon of scripture so what could count as scriptural for me, may not for you and so you beg the question here.

Also you ignore Anglican defenses and expositions of saintly invocation. Take Darwell Stone’s work on the Invocation of the Saints, at google books. Take some of the facts in hand. The Ten Articles published in 1536, in articles 7 and 8 advocates honoring the saints, not with that honor due to God alone, but a lesser honor appropriate for them. This meaning was retained in the 39 Articles of Religion and directed at Roman Catholic theologians who tended to confuse these two senses. The irony is that Catholic theologians who did so are suffering from the same malady as their Anglican counterparts, namely a terminological imprecision inherited from the Libiri Carolini and the Franks in general.

Please note for example what said articles state, “…yet it is very laudable to pray to saints in heaven everlastingly living, whose charity is ever permanent, to be intercessors, and to pray for us and with us unto Almighty God…”

Similar statements can be found in the Bishops Book and the Kings Book.

What was excluded was that of various Roman theologians who due to terminological confusion via the Franks, argued it was acceptable to give adoratio to the saints and invoke them on this basis. Almost all of the preceding condemnations in Anglican formularies and documents take aim at the doctrine of the “schoolmen.” But the doctrine of the scholastics is not isomorphic with that of the Orthodox (and not Trent either for that matter) and this is in part due to the lack of a grasp of the theology of the 7th Ecumenical council in the West. Any reading of say such bright minds as Aquinas will bear out that they did not know the council directly and did not grasp its teaching, which has significant bearing on the proper relation of the faithful to the saints.

Acolyte4236 said...

Joe,

Further, the 39 article in question can’t be directed at the decree of Trent, not that this matters much to the Orthodox anyway, since the article was adopted prior to the Tridentine formulation and further that the latter formula is not identical to the teaching of the scholastics since it denies adoratio to the saints.

As for the Liturgical phrase “save us” what we have here from you is the reaction of someone outside of Orthodoxy and who is evaluating such phrases independently from any consideration of how the Orthodox use such terms and what their possible theological meaning could be. Your argument is depends on a straw man.

The reading of even Anglican works on this topic would go some long way in informing you of their intended meaning. The phrase “save us” can be used in a narrow and a wide sense. The narrow sense would be the way that God is the ultimate and only primary source for salvation, whereas the wider usage denotes those who by divine power derivatively may give aid and participate in our salvation. It is a great biblical truth that all Christians participate in some form or another derivatively in the salvation of others, by preaching, teaching, prayer and so forth.

Secondly, Orthodox sources confirm the way I have cashed out the usage. In the Catechism of Bernardakis used at one time in the Greek jurisdiction it states,

“We do not sin, because we do not make gods of these saints, but only invoke them to intercede for us with God.”

The Catechism of Kyriakos states, “Prayer, properly speaking, is directed to God; but if we pray also to the saints, we do this not because we look on them as a sort of gods, who are able of themselves to help us-God forbid such blasphemy!- but because we believe that, as friends of God by reason of their holiness and moral purity they intercede with Him on our behalf by means of their prayers, as also we who are alive pray for one another, and can ask for one another’s prayers.”

Similar statements can be found in the Longer Catachism of the Russian Church or other Orthodox sources. Please note that these sources show that the sense that you’ve put on to such expressions is exactly the sense that the Orthodox reject, namely that the saints of themselves, underivatively the source of divine power or in other words, deities.

You ask how the saints can hear said prayers, and by doing so seem to make an implicit argument that they cannot do so. But Scripture speaks of the angels in heaven finding out about sinners repenting and as well as say Elijah in heaven being aware of what transpires on Earth. Added to this is scriptural information in say Revelation where the saints are in the presence of God when prayers are lifted to God. Certainly it would require divine power for the saints to hear our intercessions, but given the doctrine of theosis or deification, that the saints share in the divine life and are made immortal, it isn’t exactly difficult to see how this could be so.

Reformation said...

A few observations relative to the ever-mutating Rt. Rev. Ray Sutton of the mutational REC at:

http://reformationanglicanism.blogspot.com/2010/11/boultbee-i-pg12-thirty-nine-articles.html