Tag Archives: Dogmatics

Crete

Last June’s meeting of some Orthodox bishops in Crete, ‘representatives’ of 20% of the Orthodox world, served only to produce schism in its Balkan corner. It left the fifteen million members of the six small Greek Churches (Constantinople, Greece, its Albanian satellite, Cyprus, Alexandria and Jerusalem), fragments of the ethnic Greek Empire that long ago disappeared and which in fact are only one, as well as the Churches of Romania and Serbia, bitterly divided between Orthodox and modernists. Since three of these eight Local Churches have US-appointed Patriarchs, this is hardly surprising.

On the other hand, it brought the mainstream of the Syrian/Lebanese Church of Antioch (in reality the Church of Damascus) much closer to the Russian Orthodox Church, which is 75% of the Orthodox world. The Churches of Georgia and Bulgaria were already close. As for the representatives of the small Local Churches of Poland and of the Czechs and Slovaks, although present in Crete, everyone knows that in reality they are merely fragments of the pre-1917 Russian Empire and so of the Russian Church, and so they can ignore anything that went on there.

The meeting in Crete made clear that those Orthodox who, it seems, are Orthodox only by reason of their nationality, who have fallen to Western humanist delusions (nowadays called ‘personalism’) are in danger of falling away from Orthodoxy altogether. Their essentially filioquist and so secularist desire to replace the Divine, the paradisiac and sinless Holy Spirit, with the human, the fallen and sinful human spirit, is leading them out of the Church. Therefore, this meeting was a catalyst, inasmuch as it means that the Orthodox must once and for all clearly define what the Church is. It must also define how the heterodox both fall outside Her and yet also, consciously or else by passive inertia, still preserve some vestiges of Her heritage. And it is this that leads them to labour under the delusion that their vestiges are Christianity.

There is then need for a genuine Church Council, gathering all fourteen Local Orthodox Churches with their 650 or so Orthodox bishops, including the 350 of the Russian Church, in order to define dogmatically the ecclesiology of the Church. These fathers can build on the theological foundations already laid, notably by St Hilarion (Troitsky) and St Justin (Popovich). This Council must anathematize not only the heresy of ecumenism, but also that of phyletism. For these heresies are closely interconnected, as those who confine the Church of God exclusively to a single race and language (phyletism) are by definition also utterly indifferent to dogma. It is precisely on account of this dogmatic indifference that they are willing to compromise the Church with any fashionable secular dogma, which promises money and power to those who are nostalgic for the money and power that they lost in the distant past.

How to Be an Orthodox Christian

To be an Orthodox Christian, two things are necessary:

1. To be in communion with the Orthodox Church, for ‘there is no Christianity without the Church’ (St Hilarion of Verey).

Unfortunately, the word ‘Orthodox’ is much misused and abused, in similar ways to words like ‘Apostolic’ or ‘Catholic’. Thus, although there are those who describe themselves as ‘Orthodox’, if they are not in fact members of one of the canonical Orthodox Churches and in communion with them, they are not Orthodox, not part of the Orthodox family. In reality, in the narrower context of life in Western Europe, to call oneself Orthodox actually means to belong to one of only seven Local Orthodox Churches: either to the Russian, Romanian, Serbian, Bulgarian or Georgian Orthodox Churches, or else to the Greek Patriarchate of Constantinople or the Arab Patriarchate of Antioch.

In concrete terms, if those in Western Europe who claim to be Orthodox do not belong to one of these seven Local Orthodox Churches, they do not belong to the Orthodox Church. What are they then? In reality, they may be Copts (Miaphysites), who reject the Universal Councils of the Orthodox Church, or they may belong to some tiny, perhaps nationalistic, uncanonical grouping which may have Orthodox rites and icons but which is not in communion with the Orthodox Church, or they may simply be fantasist vagantes. And in this country these individuals may in fact be former or retired Anglicans, who have found an exotic hobby, an unusual past-time, which they have shaped in their own image.

2. To think and live as an Orthodox Christian

It is one thing to be a nominal member of the Orthodox Church, but it is another thing actually to be an Orthodox Christian. Since Faith is at the root of civilisation and culture, it is clear that if we are Orthodox Christians, then we think in terms of Orthodox Christian civilisation and culture. And quite simply, Orthodox Christianity is a different civilisation and culture from other civilisations and cultures because the Orthodox Christian Faith is different from other Faiths. If people do not think as Orthodox Christians, have Orthodox civilisational values, then they will only be semi-Orthodox, watered down Orthodox, nominally Orthodox, outwardly Orthodox, compromised Orthodox, westernised Orthodox.

It is in fact only when people inwardly think as Orthodox Christians, instead of as Anglicans, Protestants, Roman Catholics or something else, that they speak and act as Orthodox Christians. And it is vital to understand this, for Orthodox Christianity is not an ideology, philosophy or personality cult, but a life based on an integrated view of the world, a conscious set of values made incarnate, a life imbued by a conscious mindset and mentality, in other words, a way of life with all its ramifications. If we live as Orthodox Christians, these ramifications mean consistently striving to obey in full the two simple commandments, to love God and to love our neighbours as ourselves.