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Author Topic: Would Undue Zealotry for a False "Truth" be the Same as "Papal Infallibility"?  (Read 1709 times) Average Rating: 0
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MarkosC
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« on: October 13, 2008, 12:06:22 AM »

In a different thread:

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,17801.msg259714.html#msg259714

I quote a passage from Professor Christos Yannaras who basically opines that a number of monks have set their own personal opinions up as some sort of infallible witness to Orthodoxy, have made themselves the "defenders" of Orthodoxy and from this "fulminate" against patriarchs, bishops, etc.   He even puts this in the same terms Orthodox would use for overriding Papal authority (i.e. defender of faith, infallibility, etc.).  [I'd ask that responders please read the quote before responding]

Let's assume for the moment that we have ONE case where, say, a group of imonks and clergy with extensive networks within the church set their opinion on such and such issue as the Truth, set themselves as absolutely correct on some issue issue and regularly condemn anyone - from Patriarchs to catecumens - who disagree with them.  And obviously, we're talking about something much farther reaching than, say, the Athonite notice preserved in the Philokalia about the essence/energy distinction of the 1300s (where they basically said "we agree with Gregory Palamas and we will not have communion with those who deny what he says").   We're talking about some egregious and zealous overreach of the type Professor Yannaras describes. 

In this case, in your opinion, is what these people would be committing basically the same as the fundamental "error" that Orthodoxy attributes to Papal infallibility?   My understanding of the fundamental Orthodox objection is that old Rome has incorrectly set itself up as the doctrinal authority of the Church.   

I'm just curious.  I have no agendas here, and I would prefer to discuss this in a theoretical vacuum instead of terms of current events.  I explicitly say that I'm NOT trying to either use this as a disguise to build up an argument like "ah hah, so you Orthodox have people who you say are just as bad as the Pope, so no one should become Orthodox" nor am I trying to draw an analogy against Old Calendarism or anything like that.   
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« Reply #1 on: October 13, 2008, 02:35:16 AM »

Let's assume for the moment that we have ONE case where, say, a group of imonks and clergy with extensive networks within the church set their opinion on such and such issue as the Truth, set themselves as absolutely correct on some issue issue and regularly condemn anyone - from Patriarchs to catecumens - who disagree with them.  And obviously, we're talking about something much farther reaching than, say, the Athonite notice preserved in the Philokalia about the essence/energy distinction of the 1300s (where they basically said "we agree with Gregory Palamas and we will not have communion with those who deny what he says").   We're talking about some egregious and zealous overreach of the type Professor Yannaras describes. 
use this as a disguise to build up an argument like "ah hah, so you Orthodox have people who you say are just as bad as the Pope, so no one should become Orthodox" nor am I trying to draw an analogy against Old Calendarism or anything like that.   

Let's not assume anything.  Do you have a specific example of ONE case were a group of monks and clergy with extensive networks within the church have set their opinion on a specific issue as the Truth, set themselves as absolutely correct on a specific issue and regularly condemn anyone - from Patriarchs to catechumen - who disagree with them?  Or is this all hypothetical... and if so, why is it a topic worthy of discussion?  To be honest, I am a bit perplexed as to what the point of this thread is meant to be.
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« Reply #2 on: October 13, 2008, 08:54:03 AM »

Let's assume for the moment that we have ONE case where, say, a group of imonks and clergy with extensive networks within the church set their opinion on such and such issue as the Truth, set themselves as absolutely correct on some issue issue and regularly condemn anyone - from Patriarchs to catecumens - who disagree with them.  And obviously, we're talking about something much farther reaching than, say, the Athonite notice preserved in the Philokalia about the essence/energy distinction of the 1300s (where they basically said "we agree with Gregory Palamas and we will not have communion with those who deny what he says").   We're talking about some egregious and zealous overreach of the type Professor Yannaras describes. 
use this as a disguise to build up an argument like "ah hah, so you Orthodox have people who you say are just as bad as the Pope, so no one should become Orthodox" nor am I trying to draw an analogy against Old Calendarism or anything like that.   

Let's not assume anything.  Do you have a specific example of ONE case were a group of monks and clergy with extensive networks within the church have set their opinion on a specific issue as the Truth, set themselves as absolutely correct on a specific issue and regularly condemn anyone - from Patriarchs to catechumen - who disagree with them?  Or is this all hypothetical... and if so, why is it a topic worthy of discussion?  To be honest, I am a bit perplexed as to what the point of this thread is meant to be.

I'll give you the example: the Iconophiles.
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« Reply #3 on: October 13, 2008, 09:00:53 AM »

Let's assume for the moment that we have ONE case where, say, a group of imonks and clergy with extensive networks within the church set their opinion on such and such issue as the Truth, set themselves as absolutely correct on some issue issue and regularly condemn anyone - from Patriarchs to catecumens - who disagree with them.  And obviously, we're talking about something much farther reaching than, say, the Athonite notice preserved in the Philokalia about the essence/energy distinction of the 1300s (where they basically said "we agree with Gregory Palamas and we will not have communion with those who deny what he says").   We're talking about some egregious and zealous overreach of the type Professor Yannaras describes. 
use this as a disguise to build up an argument like "ah hah, so you Orthodox have people who you say are just as bad as the Pope, so no one should become Orthodox" nor am I trying to draw an analogy against Old Calendarism or anything like that.   

Let's not assume anything.  Do you have a specific example of ONE case were a group of monks and clergy with extensive networks within the church have set their opinion on a specific issue as the Truth, set themselves as absolutely correct on a specific issue and regularly condemn anyone - from Patriarchs to catechumen - who disagree with them?  Or is this all hypothetical... and if so, why is it a topic worthy of discussion?  To be honest, I am a bit perplexed as to what the point of this thread is meant to be.

I'll give you the example: the Iconophiles.

Ok, excellent example.  I'm still not grasping Mark's tie-in to papal infallibility though (although I'm thinking he would likely have chosen the iconoclasts for his example, but I'm only guessing).
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« Reply #4 on: October 13, 2008, 10:22:08 AM »

Let's assume for the moment that we have ONE case where, say, a group of imonks and clergy with extensive networks within the church set their opinion on such and such issue as the Truth, set themselves as absolutely correct on some issue issue and regularly condemn anyone - from Patriarchs to catecumens - who disagree with them.  And obviously, we're talking about something much farther reaching than, say, the Athonite notice preserved in the Philokalia about the essence/energy distinction of the 1300s (where they basically said "we agree with Gregory Palamas and we will not have communion with those who deny what he says").   We're talking about some egregious and zealous overreach of the type Professor Yannaras describes. 
use this as a disguise to build up an argument like "ah hah, so you Orthodox have people who you say are just as bad as the Pope, so no one should become Orthodox" nor am I trying to draw an analogy against Old Calendarism or anything like that.   

Let's not assume anything.  Do you have a specific example of ONE case were a group of monks and clergy with extensive networks within the church have set their opinion on a specific issue as the Truth, set themselves as absolutely correct on a specific issue and regularly condemn anyone - from Patriarchs to catechumen - who disagree with them?  Or is this all hypothetical... and if so, why is it a topic worthy of discussion?  To be honest, I am a bit perplexed as to what the point of this thread is meant to be.

I'll give you the example: the Iconophiles.

Ok, excellent example.  I'm still not grasping Mark's tie-in to papal infallibility though (although I'm thinking he would likely have chosen the iconoclasts for his example, but I'm only guessing).

Best I can tell is "how can we absolutely say we are right, how do we know, if we say that we are as bad as the ultramontanists, blah, blah, blah."

The difference is that the monks, of course, are not afraid of an Ecumenical Council or any other forum of defense of what the Orthodox have always believed and held.

The Vatican claims that it doesn't have to explain itself, that it alone can call and must ratify any Ecumenical Council (the canons call for dissolutin of any Council in progress when the pope dies, unless the new one confirms it), issues dogmas without any Council on issues not at dispute (like the Assumption) and innovates in making said dogmas the price of salvation (ditto).

L'eglise?  C'est moi, dit le pape du Vatican.
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Question a friend, perhaps he did not do it; but if he did anything so that he may do it no more.
A hasty quarrel kindles fire,
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If you blow on a spark, it will glow;
if you spit on it, it will be put out;
                           and both come out of your mouth
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« Reply #5 on: October 13, 2008, 09:14:48 PM »

Let's assume for the moment that we have ONE case where, say, a group of imonks and clergy with extensive networks within the church set their opinion on such and such issue as the Truth, set themselves as absolutely correct on some issue issue and regularly condemn anyone - from Patriarchs to catecumens - who disagree with them.  And obviously, we're talking about something much farther reaching than, say, the Athonite notice preserved in the Philokalia about the essence/energy distinction of the 1300s (where they basically said "we agree with Gregory Palamas and we will not have communion with those who deny what he says").   We're talking about some egregious and zealous overreach of the type Professor Yannaras describes. 
use this as a disguise to build up an argument like "ah hah, so you Orthodox have people who you say are just as bad as the Pope, so no one should become Orthodox" nor am I trying to draw an analogy against Old Calendarism or anything like that.   

Let's not assume anything.  Do you have a specific example of ONE case were a group of monks and clergy with extensive networks within the church have set their opinion on a specific issue as the Truth, set themselves as absolutely correct on a specific issue and regularly condemn anyone - from Patriarchs to catechumen - who disagree with them?  Or is this all hypothetical... and if so, why is it a topic worthy of discussion?  To be honest, I am a bit perplexed as to what the point of this thread is meant to be.

I was not the one who drew the analogy.  Christos Yannaras did in his book, comparing some of the "zealotry" he sees from some quarters of Greek church (to include some on Athos) these days to the Vatican's assertions of infallibility.   I presume he was talking about Old Calendarists, the monks at Esphigmenou, and the like though I don't know.  And I wanted to keep it hypothetical because not only do I not know, but I also I don't want to get into the calendar issue and the like, because the argument from this line is fundamentally one of ecclesiology.   

Is that at all helpful?    Undecided
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O Lord although I desired to blot out
with my tears the handwriting of my many sins
And for the rest of my life to please Thee
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Yet doth the enemy lead me astray as he wareth
against my sould with his cunning

O Lord before I utterly perish do Thou save me!
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« Reply #6 on: October 13, 2008, 09:36:26 PM »

Let's assume for the moment that we have ONE case where, say, a group of imonks and clergy with extensive networks within the church set their opinion on such and such issue as the Truth, set themselves as absolutely correct on some issue issue and regularly condemn anyone - from Patriarchs to catecumens - who disagree with them.  And obviously, we're talking about something much farther reaching than, say, the Athonite notice preserved in the Philokalia about the essence/energy distinction of the 1300s (where they basically said "we agree with Gregory Palamas and we will not have communion with those who deny what he says").   We're talking about some egregious and zealous overreach of the type Professor Yannaras describes. 
use this as a disguise to build up an argument like "ah hah, so you Orthodox have people who you say are just as bad as the Pope, so no one should become Orthodox" nor am I trying to draw an analogy against Old Calendarism or anything like that.   

Let's not assume anything.  Do you have a specific example of ONE case were a group of monks and clergy with extensive networks within the church have set their opinion on a specific issue as the Truth, set themselves as absolutely correct on a specific issue and regularly condemn anyone - from Patriarchs to catechumen - who disagree with them?  Or is this all hypothetical... and if so, why is it a topic worthy of discussion?  To be honest, I am a bit perplexed as to what the point of this thread is meant to be.

I was not the one who drew the analogy.  Christos Yannaras did in his book, comparing some of the "zealotry" he sees from some quarters of Greek church (to include some on Athos) these days to the Vatican's assertions of infallibility.   I presume he was talking about Old Calendarists, the monks at Esphigmenou, and the like though I don't know.  And I wanted to keep it hypothetical because not only do I not know, but I also I don't want to get into the calendar issue and the like, because the argument from this line is fundamentally one of ecclesiology.   

Is that at all helpful?    Undecided


Umm... so your/his assertion is that these monks, etc. should not hold the views they do because 'some' might be offended and in turn label them as zealots?  If I am not mistaken, St. Mark of Ephesus was also viewed as somewhat of a zealot in certain quarters of Orthodoxy before his spirited defense of the faith prevailed.

If dismissing out of hand those who suck up to the heterodox within the Vatican is zealotry, then count me in.  Like St. Mark of Ephesus, may God bless and protect the Monks of Mt. Athos for their leadership in this arena.
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« Reply #7 on: October 13, 2008, 10:23:22 PM »

In this case, in your opinion, is what these people would be committing basically the same as the fundamental "error" that Orthodoxy attributes to Papal infallibility? 
I don't think so.
I think what Yannaras is talking about is "plani" or "prelest", that is, "spiritual delusion" in the form of an "attack from the right". This is a passion monastics are particularly prone to. In "An Athonite Gerontikon", the phenomenon is described well with examples. An "attack from the right" refers to the demonic temptation to evil through an apparent good. This is contrasted with "an attack from the left" in which there is a temptation to do something overtly evil. An example of "an attack from the left" would be to covet something and steal it. An example of "an attack from the right" where an apparent good is used to lure a soul into sin is given in the Gospel when Christ says to His Disciples: "They will put you out of the synagogues; yes, the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service." (John 16:2) For this reason, Christ also warned that many on the Day of Judgement will be astounded to find thay are not among the Saints: "Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’  And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’" (Matthew 7;22-23). A common "attack from the right" which many, unfortunately, fall into is "zeal without love". While zeal itself is a good, zeal without love is demonic. One often finds this in "Netodoxy"- people who are convinced that they hold "The TruthTM" and anyone who disagrees with them is an enemy bent on destroying the Church. What is astounding is that these people will tear the Church apart in their efforts to "prove" they are correct with the result of schism- which is worse than any heresy anyway.
This is quite different to the notion of Papal Infallibility. In Papal Infallibility, there is an appeal to authority (ie. the authority of the Magisterium) as it's basis, rather than a deluded appeal to "The TruthTM".
« Last Edit: October 13, 2008, 10:24:05 PM by ozgeorge » Logged

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« Reply #8 on: October 13, 2008, 10:54:57 PM »

In this case, in your opinion, is what these people would be committing basically the same as the fundamental "error" that Orthodoxy attributes to Papal infallibility? 
I don't think so.
I think what Yannaras is talking about is "plani" or "prelest", that is, "spiritual delusion" in the form of an "attack from the right". This is a passion monastics are particularly prone to. In "An Athonite Gerontikon", the phenomenon is described well with examples. An "attack from the right" refers to the demonic temptation to evil through an apparent good. This is contrasted with "an attack from the left" in which there is a temptation to do something overtly evil. An example of "an attack from the left" would be to covet something and steal it. An example of "an attack from the right" where an apparent good is used to lure a soul into sin is given in the Gospel when Christ says to His Disciples: "They will put you out of the synagogues; yes, the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service." (John 16:2) For this reason, Christ also warned that many on the Day of Judgement will be astounded to find thay are not among the Saints: "Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’  And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’" (Matthew 7;22-23). A common "attack from the right" which many, unfortunately, fall into is "zeal without love". While zeal itself is a good, zeal without love is demonic. One often finds this in "Netodoxy"- people who are convinced that they hold "The TruthTM" and anyone who disagrees with them is an enemy bent on destroying the Church. What is astounding is that these people will tear the Church apart in their efforts to "prove" they are correct with the result of schism- which is worse than any heresy anyway.
This is quite different to the notion of Papal Infallibility. In Papal Infallibility, there is an appeal to authority (ie. the authority of the Magisterium) as it's basis, rather than a deluded appeal to "The TruthTM".
I fail to see the point of your hair splitting, as "Infallibility" claims to define Truth.
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If you blow on a spark, it will glow;
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                           and both come out of your mouth
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« Reply #9 on: October 13, 2008, 11:08:08 PM »

I fail to see the point of your hair splitting, as "Infallibility" claims to define Truth.
Well, without repeating myself too much, the "Zealous Without Love" appeal to "truth" as their justification whereas Papal Infallibility appeals to "authority" as it's justification. Athonite monks are monks, not Bishops, so the only appeal they can make is that they are right and the Bishop is wrong (an "argument of truth") In other words "I am right because I speak the truth". Papal Infallibility relies on the notion that Christ endowed the authority guide the Church to St. Peter, and this authority is transferred to his successors. In other words "I speak the truth because I have the God-given authority to do so".
Is this clearer?
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« Reply #10 on: October 15, 2008, 10:15:27 PM »

Thanks, ozgeorge.  That was helpful.

To explain this one last time (I think it's more for the record now than anything else)

Christos Yannaras says the following (quoted in the thread):

Quote
Even the astonishing revival of monasticism in Mount Athos seems to be slipping into a zealous conservatism.  On the pretext of anxiety to preserve Orthodoxy form heresy, monks are taking upon themselves the role of the Church's policemen and protectors.   The role takes over, and the monk is no longer a penitent crucified "on behalf of the body of Christ, which is the Church" but is the bearer of an authority sustained by the secular power.  He claims the right to fulminate at patriarchates, archbishops, bishops or anyone else, accusing them of heresy, betrayal, and making concessions on matters of faith.

Thus the garment of mourning assumed through a consciousness of sin, a garment of freedom from the need for personal assertion and personal authority, is transformed into the clothing of conventional authority, and the peace of spiritual withdrawal is turned into a place for making ex cathedra pronouncements.  Certainly, Orthodoxy has always recognized monasticism as the guardian of the Church's faith.  But it is a tragic sign of alienation when this guardianship is understood in terms of a papal Defensor Fidei, instead of as a lifelong ascetic effort to live out the authenticity of the faith as the Church teaches.

From another point of view, a large number of religiously inclined laypeople are encouraging the monks, without realizing it, to preen themselves on their "authority" [emphasis original].   These are the people who once found psychological comfort in the totalitarian discipline of the extra-ecclesiastical organizations [he refers to the Zoe and similar organizations, of which he is a former member and which he savages - and if his discussion is correct, AFAIC he's 100% right in doing so]  and have now found a substitute ... in the objective authority of the counsels of some "elder".   Priests in the cities, without any personal experience of monastic life, have become self-styled "elders", changing the struggle to attain freedom  - which is what the ascetical obedience means - into a disciplining of laypeople afraid of responsibility, into a spiritual direction that extends to the details of private life.   

He opines that there is an unfortunate tendency by some "zealots" on the Holy Mountain to set themselves up as the infallible guide of the Church on the pretext of defending Orthodoxy.  He uses analogies to the Vatican to describe and editorialize on it.   He thereby makes, to my mind, two statements:

1. that one can indeed make the same error as that attributed to the Pope by setting yourself as an infallible authority over the church, and
2. that these "zealots" are doing so, using their positions as monastics and their belief that they are defending Orthodoxy as their source of "infallibility", and using that infallibility to attack anyone and anything that disagrees with them.   

I am NOT interested in question #2.  I don't know exactly whom Professor Yannaras believes is doing this (I know it's not, for instance, Hegumenos Vasilios or Hegumenos Aimilianos), and I don't really want to discuss that here.

I'm asking about question #1.  I was astonished to see an Orthodox writer of distinction compare the actions of some quarters of modern Greek Orthodoxy to Papal infallibility.  I am wondering if anyone here would agree with what seems to be his basic eccelesiological premise: that one - be they a monk or a layman - can make the same basic "error" attributed to the Pope if they set their judgment above the Church, and that such a thing could possibly be prevalent in some places.
« Last Edit: October 15, 2008, 10:18:26 PM by MarkosC » Logged

O Lord although I desired to blot out
with my tears the handwriting of my many sins
And for the rest of my life to please Thee
through sincere repentance
Yet doth the enemy lead me astray as he wareth
against my sould with his cunning

O Lord before I utterly perish do Thou save me!
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