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Isaac
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« on: December 07, 2006, 06:16:24 PM »

I have long wanted to ask this important question to my brothers and sisters in the Oriental Orthodox Churches, and most likely it has been asked here before: if the Eastern Orthodox and the Oriental Orthodox wish to enter into communion with one another, how do we treat post-schism saints of each side?

How do Oriental Orthodox typically view Eastern Orthodox Saints like St. Gregory Palamas or St. Seraphim of Sarov?  I know that Abba Nursess the Merciful did not think that Chalcedon was very disagreeable, and as a result the Armenians almost re-entered into communion with Constantinople in the 13th Century... but what now?  Can the Oriental Orthodoxy tolerate an ecclesiology which simply reconciles two groups separated for 15 centuries as both being "the Church"?

 
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Gabriel
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« Reply #1 on: December 07, 2006, 06:47:14 PM »

I'm quoting this from a different OO forum (whose link I won't post to honor the no-plug rules):

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Dear Gabriel

I think you will find that the OO are much more 'porous' to the sanctity of EO saints than vice-versa, although there are OO saints who are venerated by the EO, normally without them making their origin explicit.

I have a small copy of the Agpeya which has an EO prayer in it from an EO saint, and the book was published by a Coptic bishop. I have also found many references to St Seraphim of Sarov in OO writings.

For myself, if the synods of the OO Churches have agreed that the EO are Orthodox, despite their separation from us, and their use of variant Christological terminology, then unless there is some good reason to not consider them a saint then it seems reasonable to consider that they are, since the same criteria normally apply.

There are figures like the Emperor Justinian (under whom a great persecution of the OO took place with thousands of deaths), or Leo of Rome (who is still a controversial figure) whom it is difficult to consider saints. But there are a great many other holy individuals, especially those who did not engage in theological controversy, who seem worthy of veneration.

This includes the saints of the British Isles. Very few of whom knew anything about the Christological controversies, or were in a position to make a decision for or against any particular point of view. It is their sanctity which marks them out as saints, and the fact that in all important regards they lived an Orthodox life and confessed the Orthodox faith.

Best wishes and prayers

Peter

That's Subdeacon Peter Farrington of the British Orthodox, by the way.
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« Reply #2 on: December 07, 2006, 09:46:22 PM »

As Peter Farrington suggested in the above quote, our Churches already have high regard for certain Saints of the other Church.

I would also agree with the comment that OO's are more "porous" to receiving and utilising the works of EO Saints than vice versa. I often find Fr. T. Malaty, for example, quoting "Fr. John the Damascene" on various non-Christological issues. I think this can best be explained by the fact that since the Agreements of the Joint Commission, OO's are less inclined to look to EO Saints with suspicion (and in fact, more positively, as representatives of "Orthodoxy"), whereas (and I speak from my personal experience with the various EO's i've interacted with over the past few years, lest anyone accuse me of making false generalisations) many EO's remain unmoved by the Agreements of the Joint Commission and hence tend to be unable/unwilling to look beyond their ecclesiastical boundaries with an open and objective mind.

A Coptic deacon and regular sermon-giver at a certain Coptic parish in the States, who frequently utilises the likes of Seraphim of Sarov etc., once commented that the reason he was drawn to such figures was because he saw in them the very spirit of our own Coptic Saints which the Church has taught him to befriend and love. I for one can empathise with this particular Deacon, yet on a much more interesting level, for I find myself drawn to the likes of Maximus the Confessor because I find his Christology (i.e. the subject which apparently divides us) to be strongly reminiscent of the Christology of St. Severus of Antioch.
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« Reply #3 on: December 07, 2006, 10:29:27 PM »

Thanks for your replies.  I think it is very interesting to find an admirer of St. Maximus the Confessor on your side, but there is little that can surprise me anymore.  Perhaps since you have probably read more about St. Maximus than I have, would you tell me what you think he would say about the efforts at union? 

I mean, St. Maximus is really at the heart of the issue, isn't he?  We honor him because he refused the political compromise that so many bishops in the east (and west, like Pope Honorius) were making with the Oriental Churches.  This is probably why you see the reticence on behalf of so many Orthodox to recognize the sanctity of the post-schism Coptic Saints-- though I personally feel far better about them than so many Roman Catholic saints that I've read about whose experiences appear to fit the Orthodox definitions of spiritual delusion more than any genuine sanctity. 

My question though, is, do you ever feel like a reunion with the Eastern Orthodox would be a betrayal of patristic heritage, like a betrayal of Severus of Antioch and your other venerable teachers?  Maybe it's like that for the Orthodox-- we are cautious because we don't want to betray the memory of John of Damascus, or John Climacus, or Maximus and Martin. 

We just need the Lord to return with the saints so that we can know what to do!
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« Reply #4 on: December 07, 2006, 10:46:15 PM »

My question though, is, do you ever feel like a reunion with the Eastern Orthodox would be a betrayal of patristic heritage, like a betrayal of Severus of Antioch and your other venerable teachers?  Maybe it's like that for the Orthodox-- we are cautious because we don't want to betray the memory of John of Damascus, or John Climacus, or Maximus and Martin.

Though I'm struggling between a Coptic and an Antiochian church right now, I'd say that a reunion wouldn't make me feel any betrayal to those on the side I choose.  I'd just hit my knees and thank God for His Wonders.  The church would have an even bigger legion of saints that people can officially venerate.

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We just need the Lord to return with the saints so that we can know what to do!

Man, you don't know how close to home this hits for me.

Bleh.   Undecided
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« Reply #5 on: December 08, 2006, 01:18:11 AM »

Quote
I mean, St. Maximus is really at the heart of the issue, isn't he?  We honor him because he refused the political compromise that so many bishops in the east (and west, like Pope Honorius) were making with the Oriental Churches.

Well you must keep in mind that this attempted compromise is one that was and continues to be equally rejected by the Oriental Orthodox Church. Ironically, we reject it upon the same grounds that Maximus of Constantinople did (inter alia).

It is in fact the will-Christology of Maximus of Constantinople in particular that I found strongly reminiscent of that advocated by St. Severus of Antioch. Both defended the integrity of Christ’s natural human will, yet both likewise made sure to preserve the integrity of the perfect unity of Christ’s divine and human wills.

Quote
My question though, is, do you ever feel like a reunion with the Eastern Orthodox would be a betrayal of patristic heritage, like a betrayal of Severus of Antioch and your other venerable teachers?


I'm not quite sure what you mean by "a betrayal of patristic heritage". If you are speaking with reference to their opposition to certain re-union efforts, I would have to opine that a present day re-union would not be a betrayal of the Fathers as their judgements were influenced by particular contextual factors which do not remain in force today.  If you are speaking with reference to their Christology, then that would be a definite no. We have not compromised our Christological position, which is no different to that of our Fathers, in our approach to re-union, but rather we have sought to establish the fact that the Christology which we hold, and which our Fathers held, and which we consider to be Orthodox, is compatible and essentially one with the Christology your Church considers to be Orthodox (though expressed differently).

Quote
we are cautious because we don't want to betray the memory of John of Damascus, or John Climacus, or Maximus and Martin.


I understand that this concern is widely amongst EO laity. I don't think it's warranted however. Could you explain the basis behind this belief in a little more detail?

I'm also curious as to why you specifically mentioned St. John Climacus? I know he was part of the monastic community on Mt. Sinai which happened to be Chalcedonian, but as far as I'm aware he did not involve himself with the Christological controversies (as was the case with many monastics in those days of turmoil). I am ofcourse open to correction.
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« Reply #6 on: December 08, 2006, 04:55:31 PM »

I just meant that generally St. John Climacus sided with Chalcedon, and he mentions it in the Ladder: "Christ is frightened of dying but not terrified, thereby clearly revealing the properties of His two natures."
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EkhristosAnesti
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« Reply #7 on: December 08, 2006, 09:12:03 PM »

Well, there’s a few issues to consider here:

Firstly, monastics generally tended to adapt to the Christological climate of their region and time. Very few seemed to be ardent supporters of one side or another (and the question of Sts. Barsonophius and John of Gaza is an interesting one to consider), though such ardent voices did indeed exist within monastic circles. The idea that St. John used Chalcedonian terminology wouldn't surprise me, but that wouldn't necessarily mean he consciously sided with the Chalcedonian side over and against the non-Chalcedonian side. Better evidence of such a claim would be polemics, or even a particular reference to the actual Council of Chalcedon itself.

Secondly, the non-Chalcedonian Churches were not opposed to “two natures” per se, but rather the manner and context in which the formula was used and how it was qualified. The most ardent proponents of the non-Chalcedonian side (Sts. Dioscoros, Timothy Aulerus and Severus) all upheld the Formula of Reunion between St. Cyril and John of Antioch which explains that theologians, when abstractly attempting to investigate the properties of Christ, may distinguish between them according to Two Natures. St. John’s comment seems to reflect nothing more than that very principle.

Thirdly, our Church is already past semantics, so the mere mention of “two natures” isn’t going to provoke us to start launching anathemas. We understand that historically there were many who interpreted Chalcedon in the manner we feared it would lend itself to, but we’re not so narrow-minded so to believe that each and every Chalcedonian was a Nestorian heretic. Everything must fairly be considered in context.

Finally, St. John Climacus, regardless of his ecclesiastical position, or even his Christology (as with the case of St. Isaac of Nineveh), has undoubtedly produced spiritually edifying works, and for this he is a beloved Saint of our Church as much as he is of yours, and is often quoted side-by-side with our own Saintly Coptic Desert Fathers.

Anyway, I regress. The main point relevant to the reason why St. John Climacus was brought up on the first place is: an appeal to his mere use of the phrase "two natures" in a manner that non-Chalcedonians would not outright oppose, isn't compelling enough to give force to the argument that to pursue unity with the Oriental Orthodox would be to betray this particular figure in any way.
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« Reply #8 on: December 08, 2006, 09:58:29 PM »

Good point.  I suppose my other thought was that monks in his area of the world had to have been quite familiar with the controversy and it seems to me that they would be the ones forced to "take sides".  But I agree with what you're saying, and it is encouraging that OO Christians venerate him as well.
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EkhristosAnesti
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« Reply #9 on: December 08, 2006, 10:19:02 PM »

Quote
I suppose my other thought was that monks in his area of the world had to have been quite familiar with the controversy and it seems to me that they would be the ones forced to "take sides".


I think it's due to the intrinsic nature of asceticism that monastics would generally tend to strive to avoid involvement in any sort of controversy per se. St. Jacob of Serug (an OO monastic of the fifth century ) for example, who was well aware of the Christological controversies taking place in his day, responded with the following sentiment:

"This is why the discerning soul should abandon the debate [over Christ] and be filled [instead] with the wonder of Christ. Let it be filled with the wonder Who is Christ! Whoever pries into the unsearchably Begotten [of the Father] no longer has wonder, and this is to say that he no longer has Christ in himself. If some investigation has set him off in search of wonder, this is because he has lost that wonder...Therefore, O soul, make haste rather to wonder, and take care to love. Be ready to worship. Keep yourself in a state of wonder...Open the door of your spirit to wonder."
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« Reply #10 on: December 09, 2006, 03:00:56 AM »

From a practical point of view, and considering the whole approach to unity that is is not based on truth but on interests and foreign ecclesiology, I do not think admitting such figures as saints will be a huge obstacle. A deal will be cut and it will pass smoothly and both sides will reap what they sow later.

But consider this: 

+ A good book or acceptable writings by somebody outside the boundaries of salvation as a result of his separation from the Church should not exalt the person to the status of being in the Church, let alone a saint. Otherwise, we would have to think seriously about the status of C.S. lewis, F.B. Meyer and other clearly non orthodox writers who have produced very edifying books and led a morally sound life. Why are Chalcedonian writers given a special status? They are also outside the Church and have no access to salvic sacraments as much as the Protestants. We are either within the Body of Christ or outside it, and this is defined solely on Communion and nothing else. Where do we draw the line between orthodox and non-orthodox, and is it related to salvation ?

+ Good morals do not save as well. Suppose they do, why is it only applicable to the Chalcedonian/non -Chalcedonian debate and not universally across the whole wide spectrum of "christian "denominations ? It is a form of Universalism and a direct attack against the essence of God and his characteristics. You are either inside the Church or outside it and there is no grey area or holding place at the boundaries.

+ Post-Chalcedon saints that appeared when the crisis was over and did not focus on the debate are not problematic to most people. although they should. But what will you do about two clear foes like Dioscoros, Macarius on one hand and Leo, Theodret on the other. Severus contra Justinian,....  . It gets ridiculus when people try to reconcile parties that clearly despised each other's ideology, character and perfectly understood each other as being heretics.

I wrote this post as a Non-Chalcedonian, but I realize that the same argument can be used successfully from the other party within their own congregation and it would make sense. 

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« Reply #11 on: December 09, 2006, 03:53:35 AM »

Dear Stavro,

In relation to your first two points, I should stress that I haven't arbitrarily drawn any general criteria regarding recognising individuals outside of the ecclesiastical boundaries of the OO Church as Saints in spite of their ecclesiastical or even doctrinal position. I am simply observing the very fact that the Church has indeed, on occasions, been able to look past ecclesiastical boundaries. In other words, I am observing the fact exceptions have been made which seem to undermine a strict and uncompromising absoluteness of any general ecclesiological principle, as opposed to inductively formulating any general ecclesiological principle myself in consideration of those few exceptions.

It is an ineffable mystery which fails the strictness of the somewhat mathematical application of the simple "not in communion with us = schismatics/heretics who can never be saved" formula. You will note, for example, that St. John Climacus, who was undoubtedly Chalcedonian insofar as his ecclesiastical position is concerned, is often quoted and referred to as a Saint by the following reputable heirarchs of the Church: H.G. Mettaous, Fr. T. Malaty, and even H.H. Pope Shenouda III.

St. Isaac of Nineveh, and a few other Syrian Fathers of the Church of the East have also long been held as Saints according to the Syrian Orthodox tradition. Even the Chalcedonian Patriarch St. John the Merciful (of Alexandria) seems to be received as a Saint by His Holiness Pope Shenouda III. Then there is the question of St. Simon the Stylite, a Chalcedonian ascetic (who was interestingly a contemporary and very good friend of the ascetic and anti-Chalcedonian Abba St. Barsauma) who is listed in our Synaxarium.

I think we need to tread carefully and realise that things are not as black and white as they seem, or as we would like them to be for the satisfaction of our feeble minds. We can draw general principles upon what has been revealed, but let us not think that we know more than we ought to. I am only concerned for the truth; conceding to the paradox discussed above is not satisfying to my own conscience or logic and complicates things beyond what I would naturally be at ease with; but if such is the truth, then so be it.
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« Reply #12 on: December 09, 2006, 07:11:32 PM »

Not only is St. John of the Ladder a saint in the Armenian Church, but some of the oldest manuscripts of his Ladder of Divine Ascent survive in Classical Armenian.

Also, in addition to St. Symeon the Stylite, who was a friend of Theodoret, the Armenian Church also venerates St. Daniel the Stylite, even though he was a very vocal supporter of Chalcedon and opponent of the OO's.  Obviously the extreme asceticism of these men is what made them saints in my Church, despite their ecclesiastical affiliations.

A modern EO saint who is venerated by many Armenians, although the Armenian Church does not officially recognize him, is St. Nectarios.  I think he lived about 100 years ago.  Again, I think it is a case of his great asceticism and love for his fellow man which made him so popular, despite the fact that he was EO.  Many Armenians have experienced miracles through his intercession and it is not uncommon for Armenians to make pilgrammages to Greece to venerate his relics there.  There is a Greek church with some of his relics not too far from where I live, and many Armenians go there.

Are there any examples such as these in the EO Church?  Does anyone know of any post Chalcedon saints affiliated with the OO's who are venerated by EO's?  The closest one I could think of is St. Evagrius, although he lived before Chalcedon.  He is a saint in the Armenian and (I think) Coptic Churches, but he was condemned at the EO's fifth council.  Yet the Georgians, who are EO, supposedly venerate him. 
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« Reply #13 on: December 09, 2006, 07:19:21 PM »

Yet the Georgians, who are EO, supposedly venerate him. 

I believe the Georgian church remained non-Chalcedonian for a long time, and only later embraced Chalcedon. As such, its relationship to non-Chalcedonian Saints is, as far as I know, unique among the EO churches.
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« Reply #14 on: December 09, 2006, 08:53:20 PM »

I believe the Georgian church remained non-Chalcedonian for a long time, and only later embraced Chalcedon. As such, its relationship to non-Chalcedonian Saints is, as far as I know, unique among the EO churches.

Wouldn't you agree that a Saint of a local Church is a Saint of the entire Church and hence eligible for veneration by the entire Church?
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« Reply #15 on: December 09, 2006, 09:02:04 PM »

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Does anyone know of any post Chalcedon saints affiliated with the OO's who are venerated by EO's?

Well the list of Georgian Saints is quite a long one and includes figures like St. Peter the Iberian who was highly ascetic in character yet, in his capacity as Bishop, also quite involved in the controversies of his day.

Sts. Barsonophius and John of Gaza are also OO. Some scholars have termed them "crypto-OO" on account of the fact they 1) supported OO's, consciously opposed condemnation of OO's, showed allegiance to Abba Isaiah (an OO ascetic who preceded them), and used strongly non-Chalcedonian rhetoric on the one hand, whilst 2) adaptating to the changing ecclesiastical climate of Palestine at the time and hence supporting obedience to the Imperial Patriarch, on the other.
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« Reply #16 on: December 10, 2006, 01:02:07 PM »

Wouldn't you agree that a Saint of a local Church is a Saint of the entire Church and hence eligible for veneration by the entire Church?

I think its a pretty complicated matter. Take, for example, the Ethiopian veneration of Pontius Pilate, which I don't think is shared by any of the other OO churches. The sainthood of this controversial figure is based on documents recording his repentance, and so the Ethiopian Church is perfectly entitled to this view; but I'm not sure whether H.H. Pope Shenouda would kiss an icon of Pontius Pilate or commemorate him during the divine services.

In the EO, you have Mother Maria of Paris. She has been canonized by the Parisian exarchate, but I know of many priests, particularly from the Russian Church, who refuse to recognise her as such. The former see her as a Fool for Christ, the latter as simply a fool.

Given the universal recognition of figures such as St. Isaac the Syrian - a Bishop of the Nestorian Church - I see no problem with the Georgian Church's veneration of various OO figures. My point was merely that this devotion is not one shared by the other local churches of the Chalcedonian Church.
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« Reply #17 on: December 10, 2006, 09:48:30 PM »

The issue of Pontius Pilate is unique in that it is not primarily a question of whether he should be regarded a Saint or not, but a question of who the historical Pontius Pilate actually was. The Ethiopians venerate Pilate according to an exclusive record of his life that is not universally acknowledged, and not because they exclusively believe a universally acknowledged account of his life deems him worthy of canonisation and hence veneration.

So unless the Georgian Church has fabricated some fanciful depiction of OO Saints, such as St. Peter the Iberian, which denies the historical reality of their anti-Chalcedonianism, then I'm not sure that the issue of Pontius Pilate is the best analogy to draw here.
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« Reply #18 on: December 18, 2006, 12:07:20 AM »

Dear EA,

I understood your intentions perfectly, and my post was to present another side that always gets overlooked in this particular topic. A mistake does not overturn a sound principle nor does an error in application make the sound principle void. Listing few (and they are indeed very few and insignificant examples) deviations from the truth does not amount to more than an error without having any effect on the validity of the most important dogma in the Church " NO SALVATION OUTSIDE THE CHURCH". The Church is defined by communion. Considering the circumstances in which the example listed before have been admitted in the church as venerable persons it makes it all the certain look more as a mistake. There has been ages in which the persecution did not allow the church to take closer looks at these matters.

Quote
It is an ineffable mystery which fails the strictness of the somewhat mathematical application of the simple "not in communion with us = schismatics/heretics who can never be saved" formula. You will note, for example, that St. John Climacus, who was undoubtedly Chalcedonian insofar as his ecclesiastical position is concerned, is often quoted and referred to as a Saint by the following reputable heirarchs of the Church: H.G. Mettaous, Fr. T. Malaty, and even H.H. Pope Shenouda III.

 "No salvation outside the Church" is the only consistent position in this discussion. Anything else leads to the heresy of Universalism and is not based on sound Orthodoxy but rather on human sentiments and a very distorted view of God. You cannot challenge this principle without falling into heresy. This consistency is not the product of brilliance but rather of keeping the Tradition and the apostolic teachings concerning thsi matter. Any other system that tries to exonerate heretics like Climacus or John of Damascus is inconsistent.

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« Reply #19 on: December 27, 2006, 03:28:42 PM »

I just found out that St. Theodora, an OO saint, is venerated by the EO's as well.  Even though she was married to Emperor Justinian, she herself was strongly opposed to Chalcedon and did much to help the OO's whom her husband was persecuting.  In venerating her, the EO's are obviously setting aside her Christological beliefs and focusing on her great piety. 
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« Reply #20 on: December 27, 2006, 03:48:34 PM »

Fwiw, it might be the Eastern Orthodox are not "setting aside" her theology (implying an acceptance on some level), but, as Photius later put it, "covering" her theology...

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"Even so, if any among them has fallen into something unseemly--for they were all men and human, and no one composed of dust and ephemeral nature can avoid some trace of defilement--I would then imitate the sons of Noah and cover my father's shame with silence and gratitude instead of a garment." (Mystagogy, 70)

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« Reply #21 on: December 27, 2006, 04:07:54 PM »

That is an interesting way of putting it and probably more correct.  That is probably what has made it possible for the OO's to venerate St. John of the Ladder and St. Symeon the Stylite.
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« Reply #22 on: December 27, 2006, 04:52:47 PM »

Photios of Constantinople said this quote in reference to Gregory of Nyssa fall into Apokastasis and Universalism and adopting the soteriology of Origen and expanding it even more aggressively into the the direction of dualism.
Gregory of Nyssa is a Father to Photios of Constantinople (and to us as well) and his diplomatic quote is a way out of the apparent contradiction in in his attack on heretics yet having the presence of theologians with questionable views among the congregation of saints. One leading Coptic orthodox bishop in North America views that the writings of Gregory of Nyssa that deals with Apokastasis and Universalism are forged, but it is a weak defense as it is generally accepted that he wrote these heresies. 

John the Ladder and The Stylite are not among our fathers and this courtesy is not extended to their christological views although I do not know of any specific writings of theirs concerning this topic.

The question that comes to mind: Why don't we extend this courtesy to Origen, Tertullian as they had magnificent contribution to the literature and theology and were pious men, and what will stop us from breaching this line to include Diodore, Theodore and the rest of the Nestorian ideologues in the congregation of saints.

It has to be acknowledged that this is a grave mistake and that such individuals who are guilty of heresy or schism cannot be admitted into the congregation of saints. It defies all canons, all basic ecclesiology and soteriology.   
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« Reply #23 on: December 27, 2006, 05:27:59 PM »

Actually Photius used that defense to excuse any possible mistakes on the part of Augustine, Jerome, Ambrose, or other Fathers, as it relates to the filioque; but so far as I know he does not mention Gregory of Nyssa (here's an online copy). Perhaps you are thinking of Mark of Ephesus at the Council of Florence?

The Orthodox did "cover" some mistakes, like the quasi-universalism of Gregory, the belief of John Chrysostom that Mary had sins, possible nestorian beliefs of Isaac the Syrian, the mistaken eschatological beliefs of some early Fathers, etc. The difference might be in how much "damage," so to speak, their perceived mistake did. It's hard to "cover" a mistake that is tearing apart the Church (e.g., Origenism).

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It has to be acknowledged that this is a grave mistake and that such individuals who are guilty of heresy or schism cannot be admitted into the congregation of saints. It defies all canons, all basic ecclesiology and soteriology.   

And that is exactly the Latin argument that Photius was arguing against (I think persuasively, especially in paragraphs 66-72).
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« Reply #24 on: December 27, 2006, 05:40:07 PM »

One leading Coptic orthodox bishop in North America views that the writings of Gregory of Nyssa that deals with Apokastasis and Universalism are forged, but it is a weak defense as it is generally accepted that he wrote these heresies. ..............It has to be acknowledged that this is a grave mistake and that such individuals who are guilty of heresy or schism cannot be admitted into the congregation of saints. It defies all canons, all basic ecclesiology and soteriology.
Be very very careful what you say on this matter, because "with whatever measuring stick you measure, you shall be measured". There are several Saints whose writings the Eastern Orthodox Church aknowledges to contain errors and heresy, and yet glorifies them anyway. On the Last Day, I think we will all be in for a surprise as to who actually entered the Kingdom of Heaven, and the Founder of our Faith Himself said as much. Christ "reaps where He sows not and gathers where He did not straw" (Matthew 25:26); and in the list of virtues Christ gives of those who inherit the Kindgom in Matthew 25:34-40, He does not mention the Canons, or even Orthodoxy as a prerequisite. Nowhere does Christ say that He will ask us on the Day of Judgement which Faith we held. Instead, He will ask us if we fed the hungry, gave water to the thirsty, clothed the naked, visited the sick and imprisoned etc in His Name and for His Sake....and that is all He will ask.
I don't know about the OO, but the EO certainly do not hold that the Church holding "The Keys of the Kingdom" means that the Church can decide who is or isn't admitted into Heaven. As God said to Moses: "I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy." (Exodus 33:19)
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« Reply #25 on: December 27, 2006, 05:58:11 PM »

As I have mentioned several times before,in the EOC,it is not considered heresy to hope for the salvation of all.  Gregory of Nyssa's beliefs on this are considered theologoumena by the EO Church. 
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« Reply #26 on: December 27, 2006, 10:13:07 PM »

John the Ladder and The Stylite are not among our fathers   

And yet, when I look through the Coptic calendar I have, St. Symeon the Stylite seems to have two feast days:  June 6 (his departure) and August 9 (translation of his relics.)  In the Armenian calendar he is celebrated on September 25. 

I can't find a feast day for St. John Climacus in the Coptic calendar, but then I may not be looking right.  The calendar I am looking at, however, has printed in it numerous quotations from St. John's book, and attributes the quotations to "St. John Climacus, of the Ladder." 
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« Reply #27 on: December 28, 2006, 01:10:00 PM »

And yet, when I look through the Coptic calendar I have, St. Symeon the Stylite seems to have two feast days:  June 6 (his departure) and August 9 (translation of his relics.)  In the Armenian calendar he is celebrated on September 25. 

I can't find a feast day for St. John Climacus in the Coptic calendar, but then I may not be looking right.  The calendar I am looking at, however, has printed in it numerous quotations from St. John's book, and attributes the quotations to "St. John Climacus, of the Ladder." 

Not everyone who is a saint in the Coptic Church is in our calendar.  I have yet to find a Synexarium of St. Augustine in our calendar, and HH Pope Shenouda continually defends the status of St. Augustine as a saint in our Church.

But I am surprised that St. Symeon would be in our calendar.  That's quite humbling

Quote
I don't know about the OO, but the EO certainly do not hold that the Church holding "The Keys of the Kingdom" means that the Church can decide who is or isn't admitted into Heaven. As God said to Moses: "I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy." (Exodus 33:19)

Apparently some people think so.  What I do know is that the OO Church interpret that as the remission and forgiveness of sins, not deciding who goes and who doesn't go to heaven.

God bless.

Mina
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« Reply #28 on: December 29, 2006, 03:55:19 AM »

The OO Church does not believe in salvation for heretics or schismatics, but does not judge believers who sin based on their weak nature. This has been the position of the Church since the Apostles and has been explained many times by the Fathers throughout history. Maybe you need to consult them instead of embracing a false ecumenical spirit. I want to emphasize the quote of St. Ignatius that stresses on using one Eucharist, and who speaks the mind of the Apostles, and the famous quote by St. Cyprian that there is no salvation outside the Church.

I shall not argue this point (salvation and consequently sainthood outside the church) anymore, but I shall come back to discuss some points made as relevant to the OO church.

Ignatius of Antioch

"Be not deceived, my brethren: If anyone follows a maker of schism [i.e., is a schismatic], he does not inherit the kingdom of God; if anyone walks in strange doctrine [i.e., is a heretic], he has no part in the Passion [of Christ]. Take care, then, to use one Eucharist, so that whatever you do, you do according to God: For there is one flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ, and one cup in the union of his blood; one altar, as there is one bishop, with the presbytery and my fellow servants, the deacons" (Letter to the Philadelphians 3:3-4:1 [A.D. 110]) .

Irenaeus of Lyons

"In the Church God has placed apostles, prophets, teachers, and every other working of the Spirit, of whom none of those are sharers who do not conform to the Church, but who defraud themselves of life by an evil mind and even worse way of acting. Where the Church is, there is the Spirit of God; where the Spirit of God is, there is the Church and all grace" (Against Heresies 3:24:1 [A.D. 189])

Irenaeus of Lyons

"[The spiritual man] shall also judge those who give rise to schisms, who are destitute of the love of God, and who look to their own special advantage rather than to the unity of the Church; and who for trifling reasons, or any kind of reason which occurs to them, cut in pieces and divide the great and glorious body of Christ, and so far as in them lies, destroy it--men who prate of peace while they give rise to war, and do in truth strain out a gnat, but swallow a camel. For they can bring about no 'Reformation' of enough importance to compensate for the evil arising from their schism. . . . True knowledge is that which consists in the doctrine of the apostles, and the ancient constitution of the Church throughout all the world, and the distinctive manifestation of the body of Christ according to the successions of the bishops, by which they have handed down that Church which exists in every place [i.e., the Catholic Church]" (ibid., 4:33:7-8) .

Cyprian of Carthage

"Whoever is separated from the Church and is joined to an adulteress [a schismatic church] is separated from the promises of the Church, nor will he that forsakes the Church of Christ attain to the rewards of Christ. He is an alien, a worldling, and an enemy. He cannot have God for his Father who has not the Church for his mother" (The Unity of the Catholic Church 6, 1st ed. [A.D. 251]) .

Cyprian of Carthage

"Let them not think that the way of life or salvation exists for them, if they have refused to obey the bishops and priests, since the Lord says in the book of Deuteronomy: `And any man who has the insolence to refuse to listen to the priest or judge, whoever he may be in those days, that man shall die' [Deut. 17:12-13]. And then, indeed, they were killed with the sword . . . but now the proud and insolent are killed with the sword of the Spirit, when they are cast out from the Church. For they cannot live outside, since there is only one house of God, and there can be no salvation for anyone except in the Church" (Letters 61[4]:4 [A.D. 253]) .

Cyprian of Carthage

"[T]he baptism of public witness [desire] and of blood cannot profit a heretic unto salvation, because there is no salvation outside the Church." (Letters 72[73]:21 [A.D. 253]) .

Lactantius

"It is, therefore, the Catholic Church alone which retains true worship. This is the fountain of truth; this, the domicile of faith; this, the temple of God. Whoever does not enter there or whoever does not go out from there, he is a stranger to the hope of life and salvation. . . . Because, however, all the various groups of heretics are confident that they are the Christians and think that theirs is the Catholic Church, let it be known that this is the true Church, in which there is confession and penance and which takes a health-promoting care of the sins and wounds to which the weak flesh is subject" (Divine Institutes 4:30:11-13 [A.D. 307]) .

St. Jerome

"Heretics bring sentence upon themselves since they by their own choice withdraw from the Church, a withdrawal which, since they are aware of it, constitutes damnation. Between heresy and schism there is this difference: that heresy involves perverse doctrine, while schism separates one from the Church on account of disagreement with the bishop. Nevertheless, there is no schism which does not trump up a heresy to justify its departure from the Church" (Commentary on Titus 3:10-11 [A.D. 386]) .

Augustine

"We believe also in the holy Church, that is, the Catholic Church. For heretics violate the faith itself by a false opinion about God; schismatics, however, withdraw from fraternal love by hostile separations, although they believe the same things we do. Consequently, neither heretics nor schismatics belong to the Catholic Church; not heretics, because the Church loves God; and not schismatics, because the Church loves neighbor" (Faith and the Creed 10:21 [A.D. 393]).

Augustine

"Whoever is separated from this Catholic Church, by this single sin of being separated from the unity of Christ, no matter how estimable a life he may imagine he is living, shall not have life, but the wrath of God rests upon him" ((Faith and the Creed 10:21)

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« Reply #29 on: December 29, 2006, 04:05:56 AM »

I repeat:
Be very very careful what you say on this matter, because "with whatever measuring stick you measure, you shall be measured".
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« Reply #30 on: December 29, 2006, 02:38:42 PM »

Dear Ozgeorge,

I will return to discuss with you some interesting points, that are more relevant to the OO Church than the EO church as far as i am concerned. My last quotes from the Fathers can be also taken as an introduction to this discussion, but they were directed towards the spirit of false ecumenism in the OO church that tend to cross the clear boundaries of the Church and include heretics and schismatics in the congregation of saints.

Peace.
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« Reply #31 on: December 29, 2006, 03:20:48 PM »

George, I think you finally will see the first writings from the future webmaster of orientalorthodoxinfo.com

Enjoy.  Wink

Mina

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« Reply #32 on: December 29, 2006, 03:49:05 PM »

Actually, I don't think our veneration of St. John Climacus and St. Symeon Stylites, or the EO's veneration of St. Theodora have anything to do with ecumenism.  I think rather it has to do with the fact that the split between the EO's and OO's took some time before it became the permanent, "set in stone" schism that it is today.

Has anyone noticed that the saints we are discussing here all lived within a couple hundered years after Chalcedon?  I recall my priest once saying that it took about two hundred years before the Chalcedonian schism was really regarded as something that split us into two totally seperate churches.  Until that time, there were still periods of negotiation and even periods where Constantinople seemed to waver on its view of Chalcedon (the Henoticon, etc.)  Therefore, when the Armenians, Copts, etc. began to venerate St. Symeon fifteen hundred years ago, or when our monks began to make use of St. John's valuable Ladder of Divine Ascent, it wouldn't have been looked upon as going over to the other side, or "false ecumenism" as it would be today.

My understanding is that it was in the period after the Arab invasions that all negotiations and efforts at reunion stopped and our situation became what it is now.  That is why I don't think St. Nektarios, who lived 100 years ago, will ever get official recognition from the Armenian Church despite his popular veneration among the Armenian people.

That is, of course, unless some sort of union between the OO's and EO's is reached in the future.   Smiley   I would love that, but then I am realistic enough to know that there are many obsticles to overcome before that could ever happen.  I know many think that the recent dialogues between our Churches is some new, ecumenical thing, but I like to think we are just picking up where we left off before the Arab invasions, only without the accompanying persecutions that used to happen whenever the negotiations fell through.  Who knows, now that we seem to get along better, our Churches may actually reach some sort of union within our lifetime.  One can always hope.
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« Reply #33 on: December 29, 2006, 06:52:59 PM »

George, I think you finally will see the first writings from the future webmaster of orientalorthodoxinfo.com

Enjoy.  Wink

Mina



Is that all you can say, boy ? I bring forth Ignatius and Augustine and and Cyprian and you resort to this cheap talk ?  Grin

Are you so bankrupt or does it really hurt that your ignorance is exposed each and everytime I whip you in a discussion ?

Quote
Actually, I don't think our veneration of St. John Climacus and St. Symeon Stylites, or the EO's veneration of St. Theodora have anything to do with ecumenism.  I think rather it has to do with the fact that the split between the EO's and OO's took some time before it became the permanent, "set in stone" schism that it is today.

The Fathers think otherwise and the Apostolic faith makes it clear that you are wrong.
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« Reply #34 on: December 29, 2006, 07:08:32 PM »

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The Fathers think otherwise and the Apostolic faith makes it clear that you are wrong.

Yeah, well, a mini-florilegia does not a dogma make. I noticed that you disregarded all the posts (including my own) that showed that the issue was much more complicated than you will allow for. What about Salpy's points in the post before yours? What about all the other points? You are the one arguing for an absolute, rigid position. The rest of us are arguing for a more moderate position. The burden of proof is on you, because people arguing for a moderate position do not have a signficant problem with your proof texts (which, btw, is a method rather like a Protestant quoting Scriptures, as though they prove his case merely by invoking them). If you take up a moderate position, there is room for your proof texts as just one part of the larger circle of tenable positions and statements. They are only part of the belief or practice as a whole. You, on the other hand, are arguing that the Church believed one certain thing, and thus it is your obligation to give an explanation of the continued practices and beliefs which contradict your position. You have not won anything, because you simply ignore anything which contradicts your position.

(Btw, this idea of a moderate vs. rigid position also applies to the Papal Supremacy dispute, among others)
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« Reply #35 on: December 29, 2006, 07:22:59 PM »

Asteriktos,
We may be dealing with a case of denial here.  Isn't denial one of the steps in a larger process?  Is it shock?  I don't know, but I would imagine it is hard for someone to take the news that his church venerates some saints "from the other side."  We need to give him time to absorb and deal with this infromation.

Stavro,
You know, there are some nice EO's.  Not all of them are bad.    Grin

Out of curiosity, which of our Fathers have condemned or criticised the veneration of St. Symeon or St. John Climacus?  Keep in mind this veneration is very ancient.  At least it is in the Armenian Church, and I would imagine it is likewise in the Coptic Church.  If there were something wrong with it, our Fathers would have had plenty of time to object.  Can you name any Fathers who have specifically objected to these saints being venerated?  I'm not trying to put you on the spot, I'm just curious.
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« Reply #36 on: December 29, 2006, 07:30:47 PM »

Salpy

Quote
We may be dealing with a case of denial here.  Isn't denial one of the steps in a larger process?  Is it shock?  I don't know, but I would imagine it is hard for some to take the news that your church venerates some saints "from the other side."  We need to give him time to absorb and deal with this infromation.

Well, that's definitely possible. I've been in that situation myself, where I would argue vociferously for a position, and maybe not answer certain posts, but in private I would consider everything that people were saying, and had many more doubts than I'd (at least at first) let on. On the other hand, I've been on the other side, where I was so very sure that I was right, because I had these proof texts which seemed to so obviously line up with my position, that I could hardly be swayed. Stavro just struck me as leaning more toward the latter, though I may be completely wrong.   Smiley
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« Reply #37 on: December 29, 2006, 07:46:28 PM »

I've been in that situation myself, where I would argue vociferously for a position, and maybe not answer certain posts, but in private I would consider everything that people were saying, and had many more doubts than I'd (at least at first) let on. On the other hand, I've been on the other side, where I was so very sure that I was right, because I had these proof texts which seemed to so obviously line up with my position, that I could hardly be swayed.
Actually, I now think that there is very little difference between these two positions. Either way, it's like driving down a country road at night with only the light of our headlights. In the former case you describe, we are not entirely sure what our headlights are showing us, and in the latter case, we are sure what our headlights are showing us. But the reality is that in both cases, we can only see as far as our headlights will shine, which isn't very far. It's only when the Sun (Son?) rises on us that we can see the whole landscape, and not simply a distorted portion of it.
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« Reply #38 on: December 30, 2006, 01:30:25 AM »

Is that all you can say, boy ? I bring forth Ignatius and Augustine and and Cyprian and you resort to this cheap talk ?  Grin

Are you so bankrupt or does it really hurt that your ignorance is exposed each and everytime I whip you in a discussion ?

The Fathers think otherwise and the Apostolic faith makes it clear that you are wrong.

Oh yes...I am very mistaken.  You whipped me yet again, you tough guy you... Wink

I absolutely should believe that all EO's will go to hell, including Symeon the Stylite...the Chalcedonian heretic.  You are right.  Forgive me oh great confessor of faith Stavro.

God bless.

Mina
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« Reply #39 on: January 01, 2007, 04:36:38 PM »

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Yeah, well, a mini-florilegia does not a dogma make

The fathers given above cannot by any means be dismissed so easily. By themselves they are monumental figures and coupled with the practical application of their words by others like Ambrose, Athanasius and Cyril in their fight against heresies and their total exclusion of the heretics from the Church just shows that it is indeed the faith of the Church.

In your refutation, who do you appeal to? If you want to dismiss such a great witness of faith there must be at least an equal weight on your side to be able to drop the subject as a matter of personal opinion and not faith. The difference is great.

I have not seen any other position that is consistent except for the "No Salvation outside the Church". All the others theorize, put forth propositions, formulate new approaches to the faith to overcome the obvious mistakes in their "wishful thinking" but they fail. Nothing can be criticised in the approach of the Church towards this matter or proven to be unorthodox.

Quote
I noticed that you disregarded all the posts (including my own) that showed that the issue was much more complicated than you will allow for.
I did not find anything complicated in these posts except repetitions of the approach regarding the faith and deals with it through open-ended questions that are unrelated to the topic. I cannot figure out what you believe in, we have different references and you have no problems to dismiss any element of the faith as man-made and a development that can be rejected or accepted, and I am not willing to challenge that for it is an infertile effort that lacks the basic elements of discussion: Common reference and approach.

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The burden of proof is on you, because people arguing for a moderate position do not have a signficant problem with your proof texts (which, btw, is a method rather like a Protestant quoting Scriptures, as though they prove his case merely by invoking them).

I believe I already proved my case beyond any doubt and please take the liberty to prove me wrong from the Fathers, the Bible quotes in the right context and as understood by the Fathers, and at all times, using the same references. Maybe the burden of researching and understanding and adopting the right approach is now on you. The analogy with protestants does not work and is amputated from all context, and maybe you would care next time to spend more time in developing an analogy that would make sense to anybody.

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You, on the other hand, are arguing that the Church believed one certain thing, and thus it is your obligation to give an explanation of the continued practices and beliefs which contradict your position. You have not won anything, because you simply ignore anything which contradicts your position.


I did not see anything in the faith of the Church that contradicts my position. Can you bring it up please ? I am not concerned with your own opinions, for they are your own, but I have sufficiently proven that what I teach is indeed the faith of the Church since the Apostolic times.

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Stavro just struck me as leaning more toward the latter, though I may be completely wrong.

You are wrong, not because it deals with my person, but because you have a problem in defining what absolute and moderate is and how they apply to the faith. God is absolute, the faith is absolute, it is infallible and inerrant in the matters of salvation. There could exist wrong applications, like the including a heretic in the saints, but they can be always corrected.

Moderate when it comes to salvation is compromise. Again, a different approach as you believe in development of dogmas and as such compromise would be in line with what you believe. I do not believe that this is the case, and we go back to the same problem about lacking a common reference.

 

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« Reply #40 on: January 01, 2007, 05:15:46 PM »

Salpy,

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We may be dealing with a case of denial here.  Isn't denial one of the steps in a larger process?  Is it shock?  I don't know, but I would imagine it is hard for someone to take the news that his church venerates some saints "from the other side."  We need to give him time to absorb and deal with this infromation.

You assumed to much about me. I would think that the state of denial is on your side, and maybe more a state of intentional neglect of various sources that I brought forward that proves you wrong.

I would expect you to challenge my position and the quotes from the fathers that i brought, and in the process explain how salvation happens outside the Church and what was the incarnation for. I will not outline to you the significant problems you will face as you develop your refutation, among them denial of biblical references, OT symbols, Apostolic understanding of the texts among others. But if it is to big a task to undertake, you might refrain from dismissal of the other opinion as just " a clear denial".

And yes, I know about these venerations and they are wrong by all means, for the Church only has the keys of heaven (the Orthodox Faith) and cannot invent keys by its own to let anybody go in in defiance of the Faith.

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You know, there are some nice EO's.  Not all of them are bad.

Yes, of course, but how is this even remotely relevant to the topic ? Where is the connection between this line you wrote and what we have been discussing ?

I believe you missed the point totally from my posts that aims to criticise a situation in our own church, and not attack any other. You read to much in my position while being busy taking sides. I have confirmed a long existening orthodox doctrine, basically that there is no salvation outside the Church and that the Church is defined by the ONE Eucharist, have brought prove from the APostolic Fathers throughout the great Fathers till the schism, and have made a clear relation between a dogma and its application throughout Church history.

Did you care to make a similar effort ot maybe refute my posts by using the same sources ?

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Out of curiosity, which of our Fathers have condemned or criticised the veneration of St. Symeon or St. John Climacus?  Keep in mind this veneration is very ancient.  At least it is in the Armenian Church, and I would imagine it is likewise in the Coptic Church.  If there were something wrong with it, our Fathers would have had plenty of time to object.  Can you name any Fathers who have specifically objected to these saints being venerated?  I'm not trying to put you on the spot, I'm just curious.

The above Fathers that I quoted prove such application of veneration of schismatics and heretics to be wrong. Please note that a misplaced  application or a wrong action does not overrule the basic dogma and foundation of faith. The Church has no such authority, specially in more amplified cases like the veneration of a Nestorian, if he was indeed a Nestorian.

And yes, there is an ongoing effort in the Coptic Church that has been slowed down by the repose of H.G. Bishop Gregorios but is revived to clean the SYnaxarium of doubious veneration among other mistakes such as wrong dates and scientifically absurd tales. Some venerations crept in the Church in dark times when the difference between the standard and application got mixed up.

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I know many think that the recent dialogues between our Churches is some new, ecumenical thing, but I like to think we are just picking up where we left off before the Arab invasions, only without the accompanying persecutions that used to happen whenever the negotiations fell through


What is overlooked here that two hundred years did not change any position of either party, and that during the arab invasion and beyond there were still awareness about the difference. John of Damascus lived a hundred years after the invasion and was rigid in his position regarding his fellow country men who rejected Chalcedon, and so was the case inside every country under the arabic rule. One could argue that dialogues ceased with the West, but within the same community it is hardly an argument.

So, yes, to jump over the clear Apostolic boundaries of the Church to include everybody else in it, ironically against their own will, is a product of ecumenism. If we are going to include Chalcedonian in the Church, we might as well include Protestants and muslims, for you know "Not all muslims are bad. Some muslims are saints. "

The ecumenical movement started on one common ground: "No church has the fullness of faith by its own". This is the direct application of it in what we see now.

I will come back to address George's posts, and will ignore the mentally disturbed posts of Mina that have no substance. 
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In that day there will be an altar to the LORD in the heart of Egypt, and a monument to the LORD at its border. (Isaiah 19:19)

" God forbid I should see the face of Judah or listen to his blasphemy" (Gerontius, Archmanidrite of the monastery of St. Melania)
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« Reply #41 on: January 01, 2007, 06:33:11 PM »

O.K. Thanks for the clarification.  I think I understand your position now:  You know that St. Symeon and St. John Climacus are saints in the Coptic Church, but you believe the Church made a mistake and has been wrong in venerating them all these centuries. 
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« Reply #42 on: January 02, 2007, 12:07:01 AM »

Stavro,

St Symeon the Stylite is remembered at every liturgy in the dictyps of the Syrian and the Indian churches too. So it looks like this friend of Theodoret of Cyrhus is universally an OO saint.
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« Reply #43 on: January 04, 2007, 01:28:12 PM »

Stavro,

If I understand you correctly, you are saying that St. Symeon and St. John Climacus cannot be saints because there is no salvation outside of the Church and those two saints are outside of the Church.  The first part of your argument (no salvation outside the Church) is something I think everyone agrees with.  The problem is with the second part of your argument, that those two men were outside of the Church.

You seem to be of the opinion that the OO and EO churches were formed the day after the Council of Chalcedon and that was that.  The problem is, that oversimplifies things and is not entirely accurate.  It took a couple of centuries for the situation that exists today to come into being and become permanent. 

My understanding is that during those first couple of centuries after Chalcedon, an Armenian traveling to Constantinople could take Holy Communion there without it being a problem.  Similarly, I would imagine St. Theodora, who was very publicly against Chalcedon, went to church with her husband on Sundays and took Communion with him.  At least I have never heard otherwise.  (Although I have heard that at one point she built a church for OO's close to her palace.)

In other words, it took a while before the OO's and EO's were completely seperate churches.  For a while it seems we were more like factions within the same Church.  Perhaps not perfectly in communion with each other, but not completely out of communion.  The best modern day analogy I can think of would be the old versus new calendarists in the EO Church, but perhaps that is not a perfect analogy. 
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« Reply #44 on: January 04, 2007, 01:38:00 PM »

Dear Stavro,

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Listing few (and they are indeed very few and insignificant examples)

They may be few, but they are certainly not insignificant; they evidence the fact that the Life of the Church throughout the centuries testifies that the figures in question are indeed Saints, and that their writings are spiritually efficacious in assisting the Orthodox believer in his/her journey to salvation. St. Simon the Stylite for example, of whom you said "is not amongst our fathers", is officially commemorated in the Coptic Synaxarium, the Armenian Calendar, and as our friend surajiype informs us, is remembered in the diptychs of the Syrian and Indian Orthodox Churches:

Do you not see that the implications of labelling the reception of Simon the Stylite as a Saint a "mistake" or a "deviation from the truth" are quite severe? We"re talking about a universally recognised, and for centuries at that, canonisation; we"re talking about centuries and centuries of reading the account of his life and person in our Liturgical services as a living example of the Holy Gospel; we're talking about centuries and centuries of doxologies and requests for his intercession; we're talking about centuries and centuries of harbouring and venerating his relics. For centuries and centuries the faithful have been going to their Mother seeking salvation, and consistently this Faithful Bride has prescribed, as one medicinal formula amongst many, that we seek the assistance of a certain St. Simon the Stylite.

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without having any effect on the validity of the most important dogma in the Church " NO SALVATION OUTSIDE THE CHURCH".

There are two ways you can approach the above patristic axiom: 1) you can take it at face value and presuppose an interpretation of it which deems the Mind of the Church to have been mislead for centuries, or 2) you can allow the Mind of the Church to interpret it in light of the witness of Her Life to figures such as St. Simeon the Stylite and St. Isaac the Syrian. Now, whilst I certainly do not think that pursuing route 1) was your intention, I believe that such is in fact what you have done. Route 2), which I believe directs us to a more honest and holistic approach to the patristic axiom in question, leads us to conclude that the patristic axiom regarding there being "no salvation outside the Church" is but a general principle referring to the notion that the Church is the only means known to man by which he can be saved; it does not, however, serve to exclusively, absolutely and legalistically restrict salvation within the known canonical boundaries.

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The Church is defined by communion.

Yes, generally speaking, but allow me to quote St. Augustine, a proponent of the "no salvation outside the Church" axiom to whom you have appealed: "Many of those who on earth considered themselves to be alien to the Church will find that on the day of Judgment that they are her citizen; and many of those who thought themselves to be members of the Church will, alas, be found to be alien to her" [quoted by H.G. Hilarion Alfeyev in The Mystery of Faith. An Introduction to the Teaching and Spirituality of the Orthodox Church (London: Darton, Longman and Todd, 2002), p. 267]

As you can see, even St. Augustine himself does not use the axiom in the manner you have implicitly argued that he does.

The above quote from St. Augustine may be complemented by the very popular words of H.G. Kallistos Ware, who himself has thoroughly studied the patristic witness to the relationship between salvation and the boundaries of the Church: "We know where the Church is, but we do not know where the Church is not". I have personally discussed this notion with His Grace Bishop Youssef who has concurred with my above conclusions. Furthermore, on my trip to Egypt from which I just arrived yesterday night, I had the privilege of having lunch with Abouna Fanous of St. Paul the Anchorite's Monastery, in his cell; amongst a range of questions that I had our special friend and personal physician of Abouna Fanous ask him, was whether every individual who dies a non-Orthodox-Christian was inevitably damned to hell. He answered that such is not the case.
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No longer an active member of this forum. Sincerest apologies to anyone who has taken offence to anything posted in youthful ignorance or negligence prior to my leaving this forum - October, 2012.

"Philosophy is the imitation by a man of what is better, according to what is possible" - St Severus
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