Articles by Archimandrite Luke
Articles by Other Authors
ON MARTYRDOM OUTSIDE THE CHURCH
Heretics or schismatics, being placed outside the Church and cut off from unity and charity, even though one should be slain for the name of Christ, he could not be crowned in death.
- St. Cyprian
There are also some among the heretics who ... flatter themselves with claims of martyrdom ... But not all who submit their bodies to suffering, even to flames, are to be considered as having as having shed their blood for their sheep; rather, they may have shed it against the salvation of their sheep, for the Apostle says: "If I should deliver my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profits me nothing" (1 Corinthians 13:3). And how can he have the faintest charity in him who, though shown to be at fault, yet has no love for that unity which the Lord chose to recommend? Indeed, so long as you remain outside the Church and severed from the fabric of unity and bond of charity, you will be punished with everlasting chastisement, even if you were burned alive for the sake of Christ.
- St. Augustine
Without the cup of the Lord preserving the holy bond of love, even if a man should deliver his body to be burned he gains nothing.
- St. Fulgentius
He who is not armed by the Church for battle cannot be fit for martyrdom.
- St. Cyprian
Although it is a fact that some philosophers, like Socrates, seem to have suffered and been put to death for the sake of righteousness; nevertheless, where there is no true faith or charity, there is no true and perfect righteousness.
- St. Augustine
Baptism of Blood cannot profit a heretic unto salvation because there is no salvation outside the Church.
- St. Cyprian
Outside the Church no one can be a martyr.
- St. Pacian
It is not the torture, but the cause which makes the martyr.
- St. Augustine
Grant that the heretic suffered somewhat; nevertheless, he was not put to death. And even if he had been put to death he would not have been crowned because of it. Why? Because he was out of the peace of the Church, outside concord, outside that Mother of whom he ought to be a part.
- St. Pacian
Even if one should shed his blood for Christ, he cannot be saved unless he has remained inside the Catholic Church.
- St. Fulgentius
True martyrs are found only in the Catholic Church; for, since there is but one true faith, there is but one true martyrdom.
- St. Irenaeus of Lyons
Nay, though they should suffer death for the confession of the Name, the guilt of such men is not removed even by their blood, for not even blood can wash away the stain of heresy. Baptism of Fire does not help such a person if he dies outside the Church, for the grievous and irremissible sin of schism is not purged away even by martyrdom. No martyr can he be who is not in the Church. If he be outside the Church when put to death, he cannot come to the rewards prepared for the Church. Though they be cast into the fire and burnt in the flames, though they be exposed to wild beasts and lay down their lives, this will not win them the crown of glory, but will be the penalty for their unfaithfulness; it will not be the glorious consummation of holy valor, but an end to their recklessness. Such a man may be put to death, crowned he cannot be.
- St. Cyprian
Observations on the text: “Relations of the Orthodox Church with the Rest of the Christian World”
Professor of the Theological School at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Dr. Dimitrios Tselengidis has sent his first theological observations to the Orthodox hierarchs of several Local Orthodox Churches (including those of Greece, Russia, Serbia, Georgia, Bulgaria, Alexandria, and Antioch) concerning the text: “Relations of the Orthodox Church with the Rest of the Christian World.”
Thessaloniki, 03 Feb 2016
This text displays recurrent theological inconsistency and contradiction. Thus, in the first article it proclaims the ecclesiastical self-identity of the Orthodox Church, considering Her—and very rightly—as the “One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.” In article six, however, there is a contradiction with respect to the formulation of the above article (1). It notes characteristically that the “the Orthodox Church recognizes the historic existence of other Christian Churches and Confessions not in communion with Her.”
Here the reasonable theological question arises: If the Church is “One” according to our Creed and the Orthodox Church’s own self-identity (art. 1), then how is there mention of other Christian Churches? It is clear that these other Churches are heterodox.
Heterodox “Churches”, though, cannot at all be called “Churches” by the Orthodox. Considering things from a dogmatic perspective it is not possible to speak about a plurality of “Churches” with different dogmas, and this, indeed, with regard to many different theological issues. Consequently, as long as these “Churches” remain firm in the erroneous beliefs of their faith, there is no theological justification to grant them ecclesial recognition —and this officially —outside of the “One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.”
In the same article (6), there is another serious theological contradiction. At the beginning of the article the following is noted: “According to the ontological nature of the Church, it is impossible for [Her] unity to be shattered.” At the end of this same article, however, it is written that, by Her participation in the Ecumenical Movement, the Orthodox Church has as its “objective aim the paving of the way which leads toward unity.”
Here the question is put: Given that the unity of the Church is an acknowledged fact, what type of unity of Churches is being sought in the context of the Ecumenical Movement? Does it perhaps mean the return of Western Christians to the ONE and only Church? Such a meaning, though, does not emerge either in the letter or the spirit of the entire text. On the contrary, indeed, the impression is given that there exists a long-established division in the Church and that the prospects of the [Ecumenical] dialogues focus on the disrupted unity of the Church.
Theological confusion is also caused by the ambiguity in article 20, which reads: “The prospects of the theological dialogues of the Orthodox Church with the other Christian Churches and Confessions shall always be determined on the basis of Her canonical criteria of the already established ecclesiastical tradition (canon seven of the Second Ecumenical Council and canon 95 of the Quinisext Council).”
But, canon seven of the Second Ecumenical Council and canon 95 of the Quinisext address the reception of specific heretics that had demonstrated their desire to join the Orthodox Church. However, it is apparent from the letter and spirit of the text, as judged from a theological perspective, that there is no discussion whatsoever of the return of the heterodox to the Orthodox Church, the only Church. Rather, in the text, the baptism of the heterodox is considered an accepted fact from the outset—and this without a Pan-Orthodox decision. In other words, the text endorses “Baptismal Theology.” Simultaneously, the text deliberately ignores the historic fact that the contemporary heterodox of the West (RC & Protestant) have not one, but heaps of dogmas that differ from the Orthodox Church (besides the filioque, created grace in the sacraments, the primacy of the pope, papal infallibility, the rejection of icons, and the rejection of the decisions of the Ecumenical Councils, etc.).
Article 21 also raises appropriate questions, where it notes that, “the Orthodox Church ... has a favorable view of the documents adopted by the Commission [referring to the Committee for ‘Faith & Order’] . . . for the rapprochement of the Churches.” Here it must be observed that these documents [of the Committee] have never been adjudged by the Hierarchs of the Local Orthodox Churches.
Finally, in article 22 the impression is given that the Upcoming Holy and Great Council is prejudging the infallibility of its decisions, since it considers that, “the preservation of the authentic orthodox faith is ensured only through the synodical system, which has always rested in the Church and which constitutes the appropriate and final judge on all matters of faith.” In this article, the historic fact is ignored that in the Orthodox Church the final criteria is always the living dogmatic consciousness of the fullness of the Church, which in the past confirmed even Ecumenical Councils considered robber councils. The synodical system by itself does not mechanically ensure the correctness of orthodox faith. This only happens when the Synod of Bishops has the Holy Spirit and the Hypostatic Way—Christ—working within it, and thus as “syn”—“odikoi” [i.e., “traversing together on the way”] they are, in practice, “following the Holy Fathers.”
General Assessment of the Text:
With all that is written and what is clearly implied in the text above, it is clear that its initiators and authors are attempting the institutional and official ratification of Christian Syncretistism-Ecumenism by means of a Pan-Orthodox Synod. This, however, would be catastrophic for the Orthodox Church. For this reason I humbly propose the text’s total withdrawal.
In closing, one theological observation on the text, “The Sacrament of Marriage and its Impediments” (See: https://mospat.ru/en/2016/01/28/news127389/). In article 5.i, it notes: “The marriage of an Orthodox person with a heterodox person is not permitted according to canonical akrivia [the ‘rule’] (canon 72 of the Quinisext Council in Trullo). However, it is possible to be blessed through condescension and love for man under the express condition that the children of this marriage will be baptized and raised in the Orthodox Church.”
Here, the express condition that, “the children of this marriage will be baptized and raised in the Orthodox Church” clashes with the theological guarantee of marriage as a sacrament of the Orthodox Church. The reason for this: because child-bearing shows itself—in connection with the baptism of children in the Orthodox Church—to legitimize the service of mixed marriage, something clearly forbidden by a Canon of the Ecumenical Councils (canon 72 of the Quinisext). In other words, a synod that is not Ecumenical, such as is the upcoming Holy and Great Council, explicitly turns a decision of an Ecumenical Council into something relative. This is unacceptable.
And finally this: If the blessed marriage does not provide children, is this marriage theologically legitimized simply on account of the intention of the heterodox spouse to place any possible children in the Orthodox Church?
For the sake of theological consistency, article 5.i, needs to be removed.
- "An Introduction to the Dogmas and Methods of Ecumenisim"
- by Fr Peter Heers
- A Confession of Faith Against Ecumenism
- For the edification of our readers we are posting the “Confession of Faith Against Ecumenism” which many of us have signed along with thousands of others of various church rank. The document does not as yet have official endorsement. Had we been invited to participate in composing the document it is possible that we might have altered some of its expressions. However we are in full agreement in its essential points and overall direction. A failure to properly define the boundaries of the Church has serious ramifications for our pastoral work and the spiritual life of the flock. We hope that this and similar documents will elevate and clarify the awareness of believers of what it exactly means to be an Orthodox Christian.
- Archimandrite Luke
- Abbot of Holy Trinity Monastery
- Articles for Inquirers
- Ecumenism Awareness Page from the Orthodox Christian Information Center
- Orthodox Outlet for Dogmatic Inquiries
- "What unity are we talking about? Those who left the Church are heretics and schismatics"
Critique of the recent "Declaration" between Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill
Most observers of the meeting in Cuba between Pope Francis and Patriarch Kyrill have focused on political, moral or other such secondary issues. For the Orthodox observer, however, one matter should be paramount: the implications of the common statement vis-a-vis Orthodox ecclesiology.
From the style and phrasing it seems likely that the Vatican wrote the original version of the common declaration the two leaders issued, with the Russian Orthodox Church correcting it (see, for example, the very characteristic phrase from Vatican II, "full unity"). The catch phrases of the new ecclesiology of Vatican II are apparent in many places. (If it was, in fact, written by a ROC representative that may mean that the outlook of Vatican II's new ecclesiology has more inroads in Moscow than previously thought.)
The following are just some of the phrases and sentences which might remind one of the new ecclesiology of Vatican II (and which could be interpreted as consistent with it). See especially the words in italics:
1. "we have met like brothers in the Christian faith"
2. "to discuss the mutual relations between the Churches"
3. "We share the same spiritual Tradition of the first millennium of Christianity"
4. "to pray to the Lord with renewed fervor for the full unity of all His disciples"
5. "We believe that these martyrs of our times, who belong to various Churches but who are united by their shared suffering, are a pledge of the unity of Christians"
6. "Orthodox and Catholics are united not only by the shared Tradition of the Church of the first millennium, but also by the mission to preach the Gospel of Christ in the world today. This mission... excludes any form of proselytism. We are not competitors but brothers, and this concept must guide all our mutual actions as well as those directed to the outside world. We urge Catholics and Orthodox in all countries to ... be in harmony with one another (Rm. 15:5). Consequently, it cannot be accepted that disloyal means be used to incite believers to pass from one Church to another.... "
7. "Catholics and Orthodox are called to work together fraternally in proclaiming the Good News of salvation, to testify together to the moral dignity and authentic freedom of the person, so that the world may believe..."
8. "Much of the future of humanity will depend on our capacity to give shared witness to the Spirit of truth in these difficult times"
This last example, of allowing for the Church and heresy to able to give a shared witness to the Spirit of truth, is perhaps the most egregious statement in the common declaration. Likewise, the reference to "full unity", the idea of sharing a common mission and the comity agreement of non-proselytism are the most characteristic statements reminiscent of Vatican II ecclesiology and also the most problematic and unsettling from an Orthodox standpoint, for they are indicative of a departure from traditional Orthodox ecclesiology. ~
Protopresbyter Peter Heers
THE DECLARATION OF THE POPE AND THE PATRIARCH LEAVES MIXED FEELINGS
On February 12, 2016, in the Jose Marti International Airport in Havana, a meeting took place between His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia and with Pope Francis of Rome. The meeting concluded with the mutual acceptance of a declaration by Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill.
Doctoral candidate in philology and theology and docent of the History Institute, St. Petersburg State University, member of the Synodal commission for Church services Deacon Vladimir Vasilik analyzes the document’s contents
The joint declaration signed by the Pope and the Patriarch leaves one with mixed feelings. On the one hand, one is glad that they raised their voices in defense of the persecuted Christians of Syria and Iraq, called for peace in the Ukraine and restoration of Europe’s Christian roots, and came out in defense of the family and the right to life of all people, especially infants.
On the other hand, there are a whole series of formulations in this document that evoke well-founded anxiety. It’s understandable that the document was written in so-called conventional language, in the language of theological diplomacy. As the Byzantines would say, it was written on water. There are it in a whole series of contradictory and mutually exclusive formulations.
Let’s begin with the beginning. “We share…..first millennium of Christianity….” Unfortunately, we are forced to declare that already in the sixth century, various contradictions and faults began to grow in the Western tradition, which in the end led to the catastrophe of 1054 and the departure of the Latins from the bosom of the Universal Church. Certain Catholic theologians, such as Martin Julie, consider that Emperor Justinian was responsible for the schism. In general, after the Council of 879, which some theologians call the Eighth Ecumenical Council, serious communion between the West and the East no longer existed. Incidentally, this council condemned the filioque, which was nevertheless victoriously confirmed in the West in 1014. Despite this fact, we have point five: “…..”
Of course, we have to give the creators of the declaration credit for their sobriety and not masking the real differences and not presenting what they desire as if it were fact, but honestly talking about the differences and separation, and that they said there is a difference in understanding. Here we are talking about the most important thing—the dogma of the Trinity. “We are separated ……” Then, forgive me, but what common tradition are we talking about? Especially since our separation from the Catholics is by no means limited to thefilioque. There is the matter of purgatory, the Immaculate Conception, the bodily assumption of the Virgin Mary into heaven, and the matter of mystics and ascetics. But in the second millennium A.D., in the West such a tradition came together in the West that distorted at the root all traces of the first millennium of Latin tradition. I am sure that if St. John Cassian were to have met Francis of Assisi or Teresa of Avila he would not have recognized either of them as Christians. There is an obvious tendency to minimize the problem, although the different understanding is honestly mentioned.
Nevertheless, regardless of the differences in understanding of the Holy Trinity, at the very beginning of the document there is the triumphant testimony: “By the will of ….”
The question arises as to how we give thanks. Through common prayer? There is a much stronger precept in this call! Particularly, when at the beginning of the document it is written: “The grace of…..” (2 Cor. 13:13). There is a stronger precept in speaking of common prayer.
Further. If we must overcome the multitudinous barriers related to the very essence of our faith, what common witness to Christian Faith turns out to be possible? To what can we witness if we believe differently, if we are talking about different ideas? “We call upon Christians…..” How and about what do we witness? Perhaps we first need to work on ourselves and the essence of our faith?
Of course, we are happy to hear the call to exclude any forms of proselytizing—from which the Orthodox world suffers more than the Catholics. However, this call has been repeated many times before, but for certain people it goes in one ear and out the other.
The 25th point is very worrying: “We hope that our meeting….” In other words, Ukrainian uniatism, which appeared as the result of the Brest banditry, it declared law and has the right to full restoration of it sphere of influence—more than lawful.
In the document is expressed the hope that the schism in the Church will be overcome based upon existing canonical norms. But the question—who are the judges and what are the norms? Will we be considering that the Brest or Lvov councils were lawful? Roman imperialism in the East has never been lawful from the beginning because the Roman Pope is no more than the Patriarch of the West, in accordance with ancient canons. From the point of view of the norms of the first millennium, Catholics have no business whatsoever being in the Ukraine. But nevertheless, however vague in form, the document presents the thought of their lawfully being there. And essentially, this document is a step backward in our ecclesiastical diplomacy.
The 26th point is sufficiently confusing. “We call…” All seemingly well and true in essence. But the question arises as to what are we to consider “participation in conflict”? If, for example, an Orthodox priest ministers to separatist forces in Donetsk and supports people who are defending their homes and families from “Right Sector” murderers, could this be considered support of a conflict? Unfortunately, the guilty parties in the Ukrainian conflict; meanwhile the Western Ukraine and its Uniate structure made a significant contribution to this conflict.
Also rather worrying are the points dedicated to family and bioethics—especially: “The dissemination….” This point looks not only too soft, but also ambiguous. Instead of declaring euthanasia the murder of the elderly, moreover a base murder because those for whom we are obligated to show love and respect become the victims of egoism by relatives who consider them an unbearable burden and therefore kill them, this section vaguely, according the principle of the “Overton Window”, talks about a sort of lawfulness of euthanasia instead of condemning it as murder of the helpless and of those whom we should be helping. Instead of this, it states that, “the sick feel they are a burden”, and that, perhaps they are in fact a burden? This section looks unsatisfactory.
Section 20 is ambiguous in the extreme. “We regret that…..” This section contains no condemnation of abominable sexual perversions—homosexuality, lesbianism, same-sex “marriages”, etc. Deceptively, other forms of male-female cohabitation without registration, and not about those abominations due to which the Lord sent down fire and brimstone on Sodom and Gomorra. Understandably, this was edited at the behest of Pope Francis, who due to the heavy pressure against him could not openly condemn homosexuality. Here again we see the “Overton Window” principle at work, and namely abomination and perversion is now accepted as no more than another form of cohabitation. Well, and later thoughts will be introduced as to the permissibility, and then the lawfulness of depravity. From the point of view of tradition of the first millennium, such utterances are nonsense and heresy, because all the fathers of the first millennium testified that homosexuality and lesbianism are abominations before God and deserve the severest punishment by Church and state. Then the question arises: What common testimony within the framework of the tradition of the first millennium could we be talking about?
In this case I view this meeting as our defeat. God knows the reasons why His Holiness Patriarch Kirill decided to make this trip. Perhaps he had no choice. But in any case, this meeting was in many points unsatisfactory.
Letter from Met. Hierotheos Vlachos to Synod of Church of Greece
Your Beatitude, President of the Synod,
Following the session of the Sacred Synod in the month of January, we were given the texts which were prepared and prepare for the future convening of the Holy and Great Synod on the day of Pentecost this year, barring any unforeseen developments.
Among these are also the texts prepared by the 5th Pre-conciliar Pan-Orthodox Meeting, which took place in Geneva from the 10th to the 17th of October of the previous year (2015), during the time period of our own Synod.
The texts-decisions were: 1. “Autonomy and the manner in which it is granted,” 2. “Relations of the Orthodox Church with the rest of the Christian world,” 3. “The mission of the Orthodox Church in the modern world,” 4. “The importance of fasting and its application today.”
In the accompanying letter addressed to Your Beatitude, signed by Metropolitan Jeremiah of Switzerland, Secretary of Preparations for the Holy and Great Council, and dated 5-11-2015, it states: “For certification of the decisions of your representatives, which have been hand delivered, the proposed texts have been attached in order that Your Church be informed, give due consideration and make pertinent decisions.”
Thus, besides the ratification of the decisions by the representatives of our Church and to inform the Church, these texts were also sent in order to obtain relevant views and decisions from our Church, namely from the Eminent Metropolitans of the hierarchy of the Church of Greece. It is understood, then, that these texts-decisions are to be given to the members of our hierarchy for discussion, because the Church will make decisions to accept and to vote on them, with the one vote it has, at the session of the Holy and Great Synod of the Orthodox Church.
Two of these subjects, namely “autonomy and the manner in which it is granted” and “the importance of fasting and its application today” do not involve any serious problems. However, I have serious reservations about theological, ecclesiological and anthropological subjects in the other prepared texts.
Here it will suffice simply to outline a few subjects, which I shall analyze in greater detail at the appropriate time. Specifically:
1. The text-decision “Relations of the Orthodox Church with the rest of the Christian world” speaks of the self-understanding and union of the “One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church” (article 1) and, as it says, “according to the ontological nature of the Church this unity cannot be broken” (article 6). Yet at the same time it speaks of the “theological dialogues between the different Christian Churches and Confessions” and the participation of the Orthodox Church in the Ecumenical movement “in the belief that through dialogue she thus bears her active witness to the plenitude of Christ’s truth and her spiritual treasures before those who are external to her, and pursuing an objective goal—to tread the path to unity” (article 6).
This raises the questions: Does the above phrase: “to tread the path of unity” mean that those outside of her (the Orthodox Church) will return to unity? If so, how can it state elsewhere that the bilateral theological dialogues of the Orthodox Church, with its participation in the Ecumenical movement, take place “with the aim of seeking, on the basis of the ancient Church of the Seven Ecumenical Councils, the lost unity of Christians” (article 5)? In other words, is the unity of the Orthodox Church taken for granted or is it sought because it was lost?
This is also connected with the subject of the relationship of the Orthodox Church with the other Christian Confessions. While “The Orthodox Church, being the One, Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, in her profound ecclesiastical consciousness firmly believes that she occupies a central place in matters relating to the promotion of Christian unity within the contemporary world” (article 1), it is simultaneously stated that “The Orthodox Church acknowledges the existence in history of other Christian Churches and confessions which are not in communion with her…” and believes in a speedy, more accurate elucidation “of all ecclesiological topics, especially the teaching on Sacraments, grace, priesthood, and apostolic succession” (article 6).
This means that the Orthodox Church acknowledges the other Christian Churches and Confessions, and within this perspective the relations of the Orthodox Church with the other Churches is determined, in agreement with the 7th canon of the 2nd Ecumenical Council and the 95th of the Quinisext Ecumenical Council (article 20).
Question: Why does the opening phrase “with the rest of the Christian world” close with the phrase “existence of other Christian Churches and Confessions”? Are there Christian Churches besides the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church? Furthermore, does the calling to mind of particular canons of the Ecumenical Councils [7th of the Second Oecumenical Council and 95th of the Quinisext Council] suggest “baptismal theology” as the basis of the unity of the Orthodox Churches with the other “Churches and Confessions”? After the Quinisext Ecumenical Council, did not other doctrines also slip in among Roman Catholics, as well as other canonical traditions of worship? Is it possible that the decision of the Patriarchs in 1756, by which we receive the heterodox into the Orthodox Church by baptism, is being indirectly revoked? And will those who continue to believe according to the teaching of the Holy Fathers shatter the unity of the Church and be “condemned”? (article 22).
It is necessary, therefore, that the content of this text be further clarified in relation to the title, lest it create confusion and ambiguity. Although the title is clear: “Relations of the Orthodox Church with the rest of the Christian world”, there are some ambiguities in the content, such as the “recognition” of other Churches besides the One Orthodox Church, and the establishment of unity from [within] the existing division. It is possible that this confusion came from the merging of two subjects for discussion at the Holy and Great Council into one text. Nevertheless, the content of the two texts need to be brought into harmony.
2. The text “The mission of the Orthodox Church in the modern world” generally presents the Orthodox teaching on the prevalence of peace, righteousness, freedom, brotherhood and love between peoples, and on the rejection of racial and other forms of discrimination. Surely, the Holy and Great Synod has to take such a decision, since we live in a divided, fragmented, and intolerant world and in an environment that is steadily polluted to the detriment of man and the creation of God.
I notice, however, that all of this is based on a flawed anthropology. Instead of the text making reference to the value of man, it refers to the “value of the human person” (Title and chapter 1, article 4), the “sacredness of the human person” (chapter 1, article 3), the “lofty value of the human person” (chapter 1, article 5), and elsewhere.
Of course, in the beginning it is noted that “in the term ‘person’ is condensed the content of the creation of man according to the image and likeness of God” (chapter 1, article 1). However, it continues by stating that “the sacredness of the human person”, which derives from the creation of man as the image of God, and from his mission in God’s plan for man and the world “was the source of inspiration for the Church Fathers” (chapter 1, article 3).
The Fathers, however, constantly insist on emphasising the meaning of “man”, while “person” is attributed to God. I am not aware of patristic texts that speak of the “sacredness” and the “value of the human person”, something which is the product of Roman theology, as Lossky clearly attests, and which in reality is a view pertaining to post-patristic theology.
The wording “value and sacredness of the human person” in the text is associated with the cacodox correlation between the human person and the communion of the Divine Persons. It says, “One of the loftiest gifts of God to the human person both as a concrete bearer of the image of a personal God and as a member of a community of persons in the unity of the human race by grace reflecting the life and communion of the Divine Persons in the Holy Τrinity, is the gift of freedom” (2, article 1).
This article makes reference to the “communion of the Divine Persons,” while the correct terminology would be the unity and distinction of the Divine Persons. In the Triune God, there is a communion of nature and not a communion of persons, since the persons also have their incommunicable hypostatic properties. Also problematic is the statement that “the human person” is the “concrete bearer of the image of a personal God” and “a member of a community of persons in the unity of the human race by grace reflecting the life and communion of the Divine Persons in the Holy Trinity” (Chapter 2, article 1). Furthermore, the statements that “the person is associated with freedom and uniqueness, which express relationship and communion” (Chapter 1, 1) and that freedom is “an ontological component of the person” (Chapter 2, 3). If this were the case, then in God each Person would have their own freedom, and hence the unity of the Holy Trinity would be broken. If “the human person” is associated with the “divine Persons” in the text, then the freedom of the person results in a cacodox viewpoint. Moreover, τό αὐτεξούσιον, the will is an appetite of nature and not of the person.
I gave an explanation on this subject to the hierarchy last October, and showed the problems relating to the term person in regards to man, and the hierarchs did not object further on the subject.
I maintain that these passages should be removed from this important text, and that the word “man” be substituted for the word “person.” There is no better expression, which is both biblical and patristic and which is perceived also by western theologians and Christians of other Confessions, who are not used to the meaning of person with regards to man.
With respect I submit these few, but fundamental remarks of mine, which I consider to be important. If these passages which express a modern theological direction of certain newer theologians, and which differ from Orthodox patristic teaching, remain, then the texts issued by the Holy and Great Synod will create various theological problems, because together with everything else, they will support a theology which is foreign to the tradition of the Church. They will support the so-called post-patristic theology and it will be shown that this was the aim of those who arranged these texts.
In closing, I opine that the text “Relations of the Orthodox Church with the rest of the Christian world” must be altered to clearly express that it is the Orthodox Church which is the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, and that theological dialogue with the Christian world is done in order for the Christian Communities outside of her to return to this unity.
Furthermore, with regards to the text “The mission of the Orthodox Church in the modern world,” the expression “value and sacredness of the human person” should be replaced by the expression “the value of man,” and what is written about the communion of persons, “the unity of the human race by grace reflecting the life and communion of the Divine Persons in the Holy Τrinity,” should be removed.
Writing the above, I remain,
Least among the brethren in Christ,
+ Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Saint Vlasios