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Author Topic: Communion with Heresy  (Read 3008 times) Average Rating: 0
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Seraphim Reeves
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« on: September 09, 2003, 09:24:34 AM »

Is it possible for an Orthodox Church to have communion with heretics, without itself falling under their condemnation?

I ask this, because of the essential union which has existed for some time between the Antiochian Orthodox and the Non-Chalcedonian Syrians.  While there are arguments over the Orthodoxy of the latter, the fact remains that they stand condemned by Ecumenical Synods, and have given no evidence of repenting and accepting those councils.  

On this basis, would not other local Orthodox Churches be required to severe their ties with Antioch?  Or is their liberty to act contrary to Ecumenical Councils?  There is so much talk about being "canonical Orthodox", yet isn't the heart of "canonicity" to have one's policy directed by the canons?

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« Reply #1 on: September 09, 2003, 09:34:08 AM »

Dear Seraphim

I am not under the judgement of any council since I do not confess Eutychianism. Nor do any of my brethren, nor have we. Those who are Eutychianists are under judgement, and we ourselves have judged those who have hedl such views, but to accuse those of heresy who anathematise the heresy you accuse us of is certainly not charitable or Christian.

What do I need to repent of? Many things of course. But not of holding the blasphemous heresy of Eutychius. Why do you count me a schismatic and not a heretic on another thread but here return to accusing me of heresies I reject, and am taught to reject by all my Fathers both past and present?

Why don't you deal with the reality of what I believe and the Oriental Orthodox confess instead of struggling with straw men of your own invention.

Antioch's behaviour may or may not be 'canonical', but is it of the Gospel to continually accuse me of things I have openly rejected as heresy?

Best wishes

Peter Theodore
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« Reply #2 on: September 09, 2003, 01:25:09 PM »

Is it possible for an Orthodox Church to have communion with heretics, without itself falling under their condemnation?

I ask this, because of the essential union which has existed for some time between the Antiochian Orthodox and the Non-Chalcedonian Syrians.  While there are arguments over the Orthodoxy of the latter, the fact remains that they stand condemned by Ecumenical Synods, and have given no evidence of repenting and accepting those councils.  

On this basis, would not other local Orthodox Churches be required to severe their ties with Antioch?  Or is their liberty to act contrary to Ecumenical Councils?  There is so much talk about being "canonical Orthodox", yet isn't the heart of "canonicity" to have one's policy directed by the canons?

Seraphim


Just because little you may have seen a few instances of intercommunion (or whatever someone wants to call it) and heard about it going on in the middle east, isn't cause to necessarily sever ties with Antioch.  You sound like chicken little.  AFAIK, I've never seen it happen, no statements exist about it happening (maybe informally in the mid-east, which is sad) and all the Antiochians I know would be appalled.
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« Reply #3 on: September 09, 2003, 02:56:27 PM »

Elisha

Huh? The Patriarch of Antioch came right out and said that they were having intercommunion and were going to have concelebration. I've attended 2 Antiochian Church, in America, that commune anti-Chalcedonians (oriental orthodox or whatever you want to call them). The sad part about this whole affair is that half the people are saying "You guys are nuts for making this a big issue, we aren't really in communion," and the other half are saying "What's the big deal? Of course we have communion, we have the same faith"! Some are so confused that they try to say both at the same time! "Oh yeah, well we have the same faith and are working for communion, but it's nothing to worry about. Just let the theologians take care of it." Yeah. Just like at Florence.

PS. I'm sorry if this is offensive. It was a knee-jerk reaction. Or just a jerk reaction, some would say. I just get so frustrated when people seem to intentionally ignore what is going on. It's like someone's busted into your house and it could be a burglar, and you know your wife is in the other room, but you just cover your ears and eyes anyway and pretend like everything fine, and that if it isn't fine your wife will come in for protection. Those who say we have the same faith I can at least understand (sort of). What I don't understand is the mix-up belief that if we just ignore everything that goes on around us and say our prayers and read our Bible that everything will work out in the end. Yeah, it will work out since God's in control, but God makes no guarantees that WE will be in the Church when he's done working it out. Salvation requires synergy, and synergy requires doing things that we sometimes don't want to do. Sometimes situations require us to make a decision, you either face up to something, OR you bury your head in the sand.
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« Reply #4 on: September 09, 2003, 03:20:33 PM »

Just let the theologians take care of it." Yeah. Just like at Florence.

Why is it like Florence? And why should I leave it to anyone to take care of. I am a member of the Church and it is my job as well as all the other faithful to be aware of what is being discussed and intelligently have a view on it. Isolated Eastern Orthodox are communed in my Church. They are communed because they have the same faith. I know that Oriental Orthodox are communed in many Eastern Orthodox Churches. Even in ROCOR.

Why...because anyone who actually takes the time to investigate what folk actually believe, instead of just reading rubbish off orthodoxinfo, comes to discover that the OO do not teach any confusion of humanity and Divinity in Christ, and on the other side it becomes clear that EO's generally do not separate Christ into two beings.

THAT in essence is the substance of the controversy between us. Since in reality it proves that there is no difference of opinion between us concerning whether Christ is fully and completely human and Divine then the matter of communion on the ground becomes an issue for local bishops not some grand council that will never take place.

Do you not think that the rejection of fellowship with those who DO believe rightly about Christ is not sin? How can I not spend my time in seeking to work for reconciliation and understanding? After 1500 years of being isolated from each other the EO and OO have substantially the same faith and practice. Is that not a miracle?

Do you forget that when St Cyril and John of Antioch were reconciled it was just by a letter of agreement. I can find no-where that John of Antioch had to agree that Ephesus I was the best thing since sliced bread. In fact it is clear that though many Antiocheans were willing, just about, to anthematise Nestorius they were not at all willing to concede that Ephesus I had been fair to them.

But St Cyril concentrated on what was most important. He asked of folk - do you anathematise Nestorius - and if they did then that was enough. He even refrained from anathematising Theodore in person because he tried hard to win the Antiocheans by concession as far as it were permissible.

Yet today there seems to be an entirely un-patristic concentration on minutiae. Constant criticism of patriarchs for this and that. Very little effort from the 'True Church' types to actually win anyone by charity and permissible concessions. Thank God that such views are not universal on both sides, though there are still a few Oriental Orthodox who consider the EO to be Nestorians.

Despite the difficulties and polemics during the controversial period it was actually much EASIER for groups to be reconciled because they did not take the same line at all that so called Traditionalists do in the 21st century. They looked then for agreement on the substantial matters.

I am quite sure that even if the OO signed up to the latter councils in some manner there would still be some True Churchers going off into schism because the OO didn't accept them in quite the same way, or used a different paradigm so that their agreement meant that they disagreed really, or just weren't repentant enough.

Yuck! These are just games and we don't have time to play them. Speak against inter-communion if you wish but engage manfully in the efforts for reconciliation based on the fulness of truth, don't carp from the sidelines.

I am reminded of the Scripture:

"They are like unto children that sit in the marketplace, and call one to another; who say, We piped unto you, and ye did not dance; we wailed, and ye did not weep. For John the Baptist is come eating no bread nor drinking wine; and ye say, He hath a demon. The Son of man is come eating and drinking; and ye say, Behold, a gluttonous man, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners!"

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« Reply #5 on: September 09, 2003, 06:00:22 PM »

Paradosis,

No offense taken.  Well, I was unaware of that.  I'm surprised by the Partriarch (of Antioch).  That does bother me - but I'm not going to just blow off Antioch in haste.  I would think Metropolitan Phillip would be better about not inter-communing.  I definitely agree that we shouldn't be communing OO, BUT, you seem to be way too stubborn about relations with OO churches.  Yes, they aren't officially in communion, but those barriers seem to be breaking down and things look to be going in the right direction.  Stop putting words in peoples' mouths and give it a chance.

Peter,

Yes, the OO may believe that same thing as the EO and maybe they should be part of the Church, but the way it presently is, we are still not officially in communion.  Becuase of this, I don't see how either of our groups could be honest with ourselves by communing one another if we aren't actually officially "in Communion".
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« Reply #6 on: September 09, 2003, 08:04:52 PM »

There is a long standing tradition of giving communion to people who do not have Churches of their own in the Middle East.  I don't see that as a problem.  The Copts that Paradosis mentions at his former parish were many miles away from a Coptic parish--it's not like they were going back and forth to their church.  I would agree that official intercommunion might not be good at this stage as an ecclesiological point even though personally I don't have a problem with it (I still try to defer my personal views to the wisdom of the church but being raised Protestant that is still very hard).

Still, such is nothign compared to what "ecumenism" was in the 16th century in practice. Just read Eustratios Argenti by Timothy Ware to see that in the 16th century "ecumenism" was 10 times worse than it is now.  But no one formed split-off groups then because the T--k was there to enforce order.

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« Reply #7 on: September 09, 2003, 08:48:29 PM »

This thread seems to be taking a predictable path-those who think the Non-Chalcedonians are heretics are marginalized and thrashed, while those who think they're fully, 100% Orthodox come out as moderate, learned and wise. Is this the attitude that will prevail in the Church as a whole? This is just my perception, but it does seem that those Orthodox who most want reunion with the NC's are quite offensive towards those Orthodox who don't, and the burden should be on those who wish to perhaps change the Orthodox faith for ecumenism-granted a different ecumenism than what we see in the West.

I do believe that this has to be a potential threat to the unity of Orthodoxy. If a premature reunion is made, and what is seen as a capitualtion to the Non-Chalcedonians, serious schisms could occur.
Perhaps this will be the next "big" Orthodox issue. Many well-educated, reasoned, well-meaning Orthodox don't realize that there are many Orthodox, not just shallow, hard core converts (a stereotype to be sure) who are uneasy at the way ecumenism is going with the OOs. In a parallel with ecumenism in the West, those who disagree with the ecumenists are quite villified.

Anyways, if one believes Orthodoxy is the one True Faith, than why is there such a rush for a false unity with the OOs? How many times have we heard that as a whole, Orthodoxy doesn't recognize the validity (to use a Western phrase that seems the most appropriate, please no digressions on that word) of those outside her communion.
It is an attractive picture-no bothersome branch theories to worry about, and it obviously is attractive to alot of Orthodox. Most Orthodox don't worry about accomadating Lutherans, for example-why the hubbub about the OOs?

It seems that on every Internet site that discusses this issue, people want more than anecdotal evidence of intercommunion in the U.S.
Well, even anecdotal evidence does add up after a while, but here's my take on the situation locally, with 3 OCA churches (in a regular geographic diocese, not ethnic dioceses)-they all commune various Non-Chalcedonians. This is even in a diocese known for having a very conservative bishop.

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« Reply #8 on: September 09, 2003, 08:53:51 PM »


Well, even anecdotal evidence does add up after a while, but here's my take on the situation locally, with 3 OCA churches (in a regular geographic diocese, not ethnic dioceses)-they all commune various Non-Chalcedonians. This is even in a diocese known for having a very conservative bishop.

Boswell

Dear Boswell,

Are the OOs to which you refer being communed being communed as an act of ecumenism or out of a need for pastoral care?  It seems that these two issues get confused.  

It is my understanding that the Russian Church has given pastoral care to certain non-Orthodox Christians under limited circumstances historically over the years.

Tony
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« Reply #9 on: September 09, 2003, 08:59:59 PM »

This thread seems to be taking a predictable path-those who think the Non-Chalcedonians are heretics are marginalized and thrashed, while those who think they're fully, 100% Orthodox come out as moderate, learned and wise. Is this the attitude that will prevail in the Church as a whole? This is just my perception, but it does seem that those Orthodox who most want reunion with the NC's are quite offensive towards those Orthodox who don't, and the burden should be on those who wish to perhaps change the Orthodox faith for ecumenism-granted a different ecumenism than what we see in the West.

The way I see it, those who beleive Non-Chalcedonians to be heretics thrash Eastern Orthodox who accept Non-Chalcedonians as Orthodox, more than vice-versa.

I don't think it has anything to do with being learned and wise.  It has to do with looking at the truth and dealing with the facts.  People such as Peter and myself have merely asked that people deal with the source material, not secondary material.  I clearly stated that if one reads the primary sources and still disagrees with the idea that there are two branches of Orthodoxy, then they would have my respect (not that my respect matters).

Quote
In a parallel with ecumenism in the West, those who disagree with the ecumenists are quite villified.

As if the anti-ecumenists are not able to defend themselves?  Immediately the work by the Etna group comes to mind, titled, The Non-Chalcedonian Heretics.

Quote
Anyways, if one believes Orthodoxy is the one True Faith, than why is there such a rush for a false unity with the OOs?

Yet it seems that you assume it is false unity that is being pursued.  I submit that if that were the case, unity would have already been declared.  Instead, both sides continue to talk as they have for almost 40 years, carefully examining each issue.

Another way to look at it is, many Eastern Orthodox visit Non-Chalcedonian Churches and realize that they have the same ethos, traditions, etc, and legitimately wonder, "why aren't we together?"

Quote
How many times have we heard that as a whole, Orthodoxy doesn't recognize the validity (to use a Western phrase that seems the most appropriate, please no digressions on that word) of those outside her communion.

While Orthodoxy may not pronounce on sacraments outside its visibile boundaries, it certainly recognizes a clear case of an ancient, apostolic church preserving many of the same characteristics as it does, and legitimately wonders, "is there a way to heal this schism?"

anastasios
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« Reply #10 on: September 09, 2003, 09:01:35 PM »

In this case Tony, its both reasons, though there are Syrian Jacobite and Coptic parishes available as well. Anyways, if they want communion, I would refer to that great Russian standby, the Hapgood Service Book.

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« Reply #11 on: September 09, 2003, 09:06:29 PM »

But why are you willing to make it seem like intercommunion can come first in this case? The Orthodox position has traditionally been the opposite-unity on faith before full communion can be reached.

My point wasn't that people like Abp. Chrysostomos and his gang aren't able to offer their own views, but in more "official" quarters, like seminaries, chanceries, etc. it does seem to be more of a one-way street...

Boswell

P.S. I think it would be funny if such an ecumenist (toward the West, at any rate) like myself is somehow thrown in the lot with hard-core traditionalist Orthodox.

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« Reply #12 on: September 09, 2003, 10:46:34 PM »

Anyways, if they want communion, I would refer to that great Russian standby, the Hapgood Service Book.

Boswell

Maybe I am tired.  What do you mean exactly by this please?
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« Reply #13 on: September 09, 2003, 10:54:40 PM »

Perhaps you mean just for them to be received into Orthodoxy?
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« Reply #14 on: September 10, 2003, 04:02:55 AM »

It strikes me that regardless of what individual members of OO churches profess, or deeply believe, as long as the churches are OFFICIALLY out of communion with each other, then members must not be communed in each others' churches UNLESS an ekonomia is granted by the bishop for extenuating circumstances which we, merely watching the person receive each Sunday, know nothing about, and cannot, nor should not judge. But I would assume, hopefully correctly, that as it is the priest's job to know whom it is he is communing, that as others are aware of the jurisdictional issues, he is also, and has discussed this with his bishop.

I agree with this, from an OO perspective, and I am sure that EO are only communed in OO Churches where there is a pastoral need. I have not heard of an entire EO congregation receiving communion from an OO priest or bishop. This, it seems to me, does require a more public reconciliation.

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« Reply #15 on: September 10, 2003, 04:24:48 AM »

Yes, the OO may believe that same thing as the EO and maybe they should be part of the Church, but the way it presently is, we are still not officially in communion.  Becuase of this, I don't see how either of our groups could be honest with ourselves by communing one another if we aren't actually officially "in Communion".

Hi Elisha

I appreciate the point and mostly agree with it. But the title of this thread isn't 'Communion with those we are not in communion with'. It is the offensive 'Communion with Heresy'. Yet my heresy is not pointed out to me.

Is my heresy in confessing that Christ is truly God and truly man? That neither his humanity nor his divinity are confused, mixed, or changed by the union? That his humanity is consubstantial with us in every way, save sin?

My problem is that the people who create threads with titles such as 'Communion with heretics' have no interest at all in seeking 'the union of all the Holy Churches of God'. They have no interest in learning what others might actually believe, because if they did then they might have to make some effort themselves to bring about reconciliation of those who have the same faith. It is so much easier to be an armchair anathematist - lambasting priests, bishops, patriarchs. Especially now that the internet gives everyone a voice.

I think it needs to be made clear that the OO are not seeking to join the Church. They are the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. We do not need reconciliation to help us feel more important. Indeed our Churches are flourishing and there is a constant stream of converts. I am one. But as the centuries of oppression have lifted it has been possible to discover that the EO also seem to have the same Orthodox faith.

The OO therefore take seriously the prayer of Christ, 'that we may be one' and whatever the difficulties and issues that must be faced and are being faced we are committed to reconciliation with those we see as manifestly holding the same faith as us.

Thank God there are many EO who take the same approach. And 40 years of work is not a rushed union. But to deny all efforts at reconciliation is not only un-patristic it is un-christian. St Cyril wasn't afraid of going an extra mile to be reconciled with someone who was in substantial agreement with him. It seems that people who create threads called 'Communion with heresy' with the aim of sniping are unwilling to cross the road even for reconcilition.

Over the last couple of hundred years there were two times when the Greek and Coptic Patriarchs of Alexandria tried to bring about union between their communities. It was clear to them - living next to each other - that they had the same faith. The Greek Patriarch was to become a Metropolitan of the Coptic Holy Synod. Both times the Greek Patriarch woke up to find himself murdered. Having come to such an understanding of each other centuries ago is it surprising that they come to an agreement on how to deal with families who have members in each church? This isn't false ecumenism - it is real patristic Orthodoxy.

But to the point you make, I agree. There should be some reserve in inter-communion. But it seems to me that the present situation means that the bishops need to get a move on. The Orthodox faith isn't so complicated that it takes lifetimes to confirm if the same faith is held. My own Synod has already confirmed that the canonical EO are Orthodox.

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« Reply #16 on: September 10, 2003, 04:50:56 AM »

This thread seems to be taking a predictable path-those who think the Non-Chalcedonians are heretics are marginalized and thrashed, while those who think they're fully, 100% Orthodox come out as moderate, learned and wise. Is this the attitude that will prevail in the Church as a whole? This is just my perception, but it does seem that those Orthodox who most want reunion with the NC's are quite offensive towards those Orthodox who don't, and the burden should be on those who wish to perhaps change the Orthodox faith for ecumenism-granted a different ecumenism than what we see in the West.

Boswell, that is so untrue that it would be laughable if it wasn't so sad.

When I first became an Orthodox Christian I spent two years on the Indiana list with ROCOR converts. I must say that I have never felt myself so personally abused as at that time. And from Christians. If I do a search on Coptic Orthodox or Oriental Orthodox I find pages and pages of lies, outright lies about the Orthodox Church. The material on OrthodoxInfo makes my stomach turn. It is shameful, really shameful, that such lies should be presented on a site that claims to be presenting Orthodox truth.

Can you give me a run down of what Oriental Orthodox works you have studied to come to your conclusion that I am a heretic? Which of our Fathers have you studied? Or is it really just the OrthodoxInfo site?

Am I a heretic because I confess that Christ is truly God and truly man? That his humanity is consubstantial with us in every way, except sin? That his divinity is not confused or mixed with his humanity? That his humanity is complete in every way and is endowed with an intelligent and rational soul and will?

This is the teaching I have received in the Oriental Orthodox communion. Which bit is wrong?

Those who refuse to make any effort towards reconciliation of those have the same faith have put themselves outside of the Orthodox Traidition. They have little in communion with St Cyril who made every effort to reconcile himself and the churches, even where there was still disagreement. He shut his mouth to smaller issues when agreement on the substance was reached. And today there is less difference between the EO and the OO than there was between the Orthodox Alexandrians and the Theodorian Antiocheans.

I know I'd rather support the EO and OO followers of St Cyril than snipe from the sidelines. If the OO are wrong then why are you not seeking to explain such points and win the OO for Orthodoxy by love and charity?

The time for polemics is past. Promoting lies is sin - it is a work that delights the father of lies. Investigate those issues which seem significant by all means - but with an aim to reconciliation. Accusing me of heresy - worse  than accusing me of my sins - without explaining where my supposed heresy lies is not charitable. Can you describe it in detail and then we could explore whether you have understood my faith correctly.

Perhaps if we then discover that you have the same faith as me you might be willing to change your opinion about those who have made an effort already to understand these things as they are really confessed and not just second-hand.

Best wishes

Peter Theodore
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« Reply #17 on: September 22, 2003, 12:42:26 AM »

Maybe this should be understood and seen according to the local background and context, and the instructions received from Bishops and priests.

There are places where intercommunion between Greek Catholics, Non-Chalcedonian, Orthodox is common because it's in fact the same local Church divided in jurisdictions, this is the case of the Middle East (Antiochian-Melkite, SyriacO-SyrianC, etc) or because the establishment was set that way hundreds of years before. I also know of Orthodox priets who communicate Romans and allow their people to communicate in Roman parishes  (Romanian parishes in Spain, for example).

Would this local context be in opposition to the Church general teachings?
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« Reply #18 on: September 22, 2003, 01:33:14 AM »

Would this local context be in opposition to the Church general teachings?

I'm sure it would.

Peter,

Even though your heresy isn't 'pointed out to you', the fact remains that the EO and OO Churches haven't resolved the issues completely, even though it may seem obvious to many.  At the moment it may not be a doctrinal issue, but it is one of obedience and communion with respect to one's bishop.  The bishop's are not in communion, therefore 'inter-communing' is still verboten.
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« Reply #19 on: September 22, 2003, 04:48:43 AM »

I haven't suggested that people should be disobedient. Merely asked what my heresy is. I have no problem with not receiving communion where I shouldn't, my problem is when people will not seek reconciliation, nor understanding, but prefer polemicising and setting up straw men.

I am not accusing anyone of anything of that sort here.

Peter Theodore
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Lord have mercy upon me a sinner
http://www.orthodoxmedway.org

My blog - http://anorthodoxpriest.blogspot.co.uk

The poster formerly known as peterfarrington
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