I asked His Grace this morning what he had meant by what he said in the interview. He told me that while the Orthodox Church alone is the true Church and while the Orthodox alone are members of the Body of Christ in the full sense, we can still acknowledge that grace is in some way present in the heterodox churches. Therefore, they can in some way be said to have some kind of connection to the Body of Christ, but certainly not in the same way we are.
It is unfortunate that Met Kallistos did not wish to make such a clarification or distinction while being questioned by the Anglican in the interview as he made when asked in private by a concerned Orthodox Christian. Yet, does this clarification help to alleviate our concern?
I would like to refer anyone interested in the subject of the Non-Orthodox to the very good book by Patrick Barnes entitles "The Non-Orthodox: The Orthodox Teaching on Christians Outside of the Church." The book can be downloaded for no cost at:http://www.orthodoxinfo.com/inquirers/status.aspx
This book is surely the best treatment of its subject. If you disagree, I would be interested to know.
So Met Kallistos says that we can acknowledge that "grace is in some way present in heterodox churches." Can we really acknowledge that? On what basis? Surely, if we CAN acknowledge this based on a certain (man-invented) criteria, we could certainly apply the same criteria to all people and all groups, whether they are religious groups or even individual atheists. Heterodoxy is nothing new. Do we have Fathers who recognized that "grace is in some way present" among the Arians, Non-Chalcedonians, Roman Catholics
, etc.? A person who would talk about grace being “in some way present” outside of the Orthodox Church where anathematized heresies exist cannot comprehend why the Fathers of the Ecumenical Councils and so many Confessors of the Faith took heresies so seriously that they would pronounce anathemas against them. What does anathema mean? Anathemas should cause us to tremble in great fear. When we hear an anathema from the God-inspired decrees of the Seven Ecumenical Councils, we should with great eagerness strive to remove from these curses any who might fall under them. Our Holy Fathers who cared above all for the salvation of man had no interest in the possibility of grace being in communities that were not in communion with the Orthodox Church. Are we to disregard anathemas, Ecumenical Councils, and Fathers? If we begin to tread this path we will be treading a path far from the Church and far from the body of Christ.
Please do not misunderstand me, in asking if any of the Fathers suggested what Met Kallistos suggested, I am sincerely asking since I do not know anything. Please provide me with some quotes. All I can think of is St. Basil’s 1st Canon where he speaks of three groups who are separated from the Church – schismatics, heretics, and synagogists. For the schismatics, he states that sometimes a schism can occur from a “remediable cause” whereby both parties are still in the Church. This is sometimes referred to as an “administrative schism.” St. Basil says that both sides are in the Church at least initially, but later in the same canon states that while both parties initially have grace, by remaining in schism the party that is wrong loses grace and cannot bestow grace upon others. And this is concerning schisms, whereas when ecumenists like Met Kallistos like to theorize about grace “in some way present” among Non-Orthodox they are often referring to anathematized heretics and not simply schismatics.
For a sober and truly Orthodox understanding of these issues, we have only to read the stories in John Moschos’ 7th century work “The Spiritual Meadow” concerning the followers of Severus and how God in many instances mystically revealed the true fate of those who did not accept Chalcedon. Yet Met Kallistos has in the past openly stated that he has communed Non-Chalcedonians. I pray that the Non-Chalcedonians, and those who think that there is no difference between Chalcedonians and Non-Chalcedonians, will read “The Spiritual Meadow” with its many edifying and sobering tales.
In truth, grace is in some way present everywhere, amongst all peoples. Can we therefore say that all religions have “some kind of connection to the body of Christ?” How does such academic speculation lead anyone towards salvation? Is Met Kallistos the author of “fullness” theology, or can anyone quote a single Father who referred to some kind of degrees of grace, that those outside of the one united Church have some “fullness” of grace while those not in communion partake of the same grace but perhaps to a slightly less extent?
This academic theory and teaching of man has no approximation to the divine truths revealed by God to His holy Church through the apostles, prophets, Fathers, and martyrs. In fact, it is worse than the branch theory of the Anglicans in that it is a closer approximation to the Protestant “Invisible Church” blasphemy. Rather than Orthodoxy being one of three branches, it is simply one part of Christ’s body, though it may be the part that Orthodox think is the best or most important. Sure, every part will think it is the best or greatest, but it is still only a part. The branch theory is certainly close to the truth than this. Such theorizing outside of God inevitably leads to developing some kind of “Orthodox Fundamentalist” criteria or “essential marks of the presence of grace whereby a religious body may be considered as somehow connected with the body of Christ.” May the Holy Martyrs of Zographou Monastery and St. Peter the Aleut intercede and keep Orthodox Christians from such blasphemies.Forbidden pejoratives replaced with more acceptable alternatives pursuant to this administrative policy statement: Read Me! Compiled Board policies, information points, etc. - Reply #2
- the moderator known as PeterTheAleut