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Author Topic: Question on reading Eastern Orthodox Texts  (Read 1672 times) Average Rating: 0
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copticboy7
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« on: June 21, 2012, 04:54:37 AM »

To what extent do you all find it useful to use EO texts to help your spirituality? For example, I have recently been reading The Mountain of Silence and The Way of a Pilgrim, and feel I have been very much edified by them. Furthermore, the The Way of a Pilgrim describes the The Philokalia as such a wonderful text, I really want to get my hands on a copy.

Is this okay? I know there OO sources which can be edifying as well, but these have been particularly useful to me.
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« Reply #1 on: June 21, 2012, 08:58:57 AM »

the The Way of a Pilgrim describes the The Philokalia as such a wonderful text, I really want to get my hands on a copy.

Just a side-note: While the Philokalia was compiled by a pair of EO saints, the majority of the actual texts pre-date the EO/OO schism and are written by saints we both recognize (or even, in the case of Evagrius of Pontus, whom the OO's consider a saint but the EO's do not).
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« Reply #2 on: June 21, 2012, 11:33:02 AM »

I suspect that most of what is useful in the Philokalia for laymen can be found in texts like Way of the Pilgrim or Unseen Warfare.
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« Reply #3 on: June 21, 2012, 11:39:53 AM »

Spirituality by the EO texts are great to learn from.  History however you read with a critical mind, or at least knowing that there can be disagreements.  Do you have a knowledgeable spiritual father? And when I mean knowledgeable, I mean one who is well acquainted with EO texts.  Judging by the books you read, in my opinion, I see no problems.
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« Reply #4 on: June 21, 2012, 11:46:58 AM »

I suspect that most of what is useful in the Philokalia for laymen can be found in texts like Way of the Pilgrim or Unseen Warfare.

I wholeheartedly agree.  Not that the Philokalia shouldn't be read by laymen, it's just that most of us do not have the type of spiritual father (aka a monastic) who can guide us through it.  In addition to the two books mentioned, I would add The Ladder of Divine Ascent and The Path to Salvation by St. Theophan the Recluse.
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« Reply #5 on: June 21, 2012, 11:59:14 AM »

I wholeheartedly recommend Unseen Warfare and the Conferences of St John Cassian.
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« Reply #6 on: June 21, 2012, 12:05:44 PM »

I suspect that most of what is useful in the Philokalia for laymen can be found in texts like Way of the Pilgrim or Unseen Warfare.

I wholeheartedly agree.  Not that the Philokalia shouldn't be read by laymen, it's just that most of us do not have the type of spiritual father (aka a monastic) who can guide us through it.  In addition to the two books mentioned, I would add The Ladder of Divine Ascent and The Path to Salvation by St. Theophan the Recluse.
the latter has an even simpler, and yet profound, "The Path of Prayer."
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« Reply #7 on: June 21, 2012, 12:44:32 PM »

I suspect that most of what is useful in the Philokalia for laymen can be found in texts like Way of the Pilgrim or Unseen Warfare.
I do feel way more comfortable with the original Philokalia than with these texts...

In the "Way of the Pilgrim", the Jesus Prayer seems to be presented as an easy way, neglecting the need for repentance.
In case anyone understands Russian, here is a text by Prof. Alexey Osipov, where he compares the "Way of the Pilgrim" with the teachings of St. Ignatiy Briyanchaninov, pointing out some deficits http://www.bogoslov.ru/text/421396.html

As for "Unseen Warfare", it is not an originally Orthodox work, but a Roman Catholic text adapted by St. Nicodemus the Hagiorite. Orthodoxwiki says about St. Nicodemus:
"He was, however, influenced significantly by Roman Catholic spirituality, canon law, and theology. He translated and edited The Spiritual Combat (1589) by Lorenzo Scupoli, a Catholic priest of Venice, renaming it Unseen Warfare, and the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits. He made use of Roman canon law in The Rudder, and held to the Anselmian view of the Atonment. There is an extant letter by St Nicodemus to Bishop Paisios of Stagai requesting an indulgence, and promising financial payment for it."
source: http://orthodoxwiki.org/Nicodemus_of_the_Holy_Mountain
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« Reply #8 on: June 21, 2012, 12:51:14 PM »

Unseen Warfare was further heavily edited by Theophan the Recluse. It is the most important spiritual book I have, and I alway recommend it without hesitation.

If there is nothing about indulgencies in the text, and there is not, then it doesn't seem to me to matter if Nicodemus was influenced in some other way by Catholicism.
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« Reply #9 on: June 21, 2012, 12:53:43 PM »

As for "Unseen Warfare", it is not an originally Orthodox work, but a Roman Catholic text adapted by St. Nicodemus the Hagiorite.


Have you read the Orthodox edition of Unseen Warfare? It was significantly revised by St. Nicodemus, and even more thoroughly revised by St. Theophan the Recluse for the Russian edition, which is the basis of the English translation. It is a completely Orthodox work.
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« Reply #10 on: June 21, 2012, 01:05:42 PM »

Have you read the Orthodox edition of Unseen Warfare? It was significantly revised by St. Nicodemus, and even more thoroughly revised by St. Theophan the Recluse for the Russian edition, which is the basis of the English translation. It is a completely Orthodox work.
I know the book, but not its English translation.

But what you are saying is that the English version is a translation from Italian to Greek to Russian to English. with two major revisions?

That should be a sufficent reason to give preference to first-hand Orthodox spiritual texts, at most translated once if you don't speak Greek.
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« Reply #11 on: June 21, 2012, 01:17:42 PM »

I can't imagine how any one could criticise Unseen Warfare and indeed anything from Theophan the Recluse. Especially without ever reading it.
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« Reply #12 on: June 21, 2012, 01:35:12 PM »

As for "Unseen Warfare", it is not an originally Orthodox work, but a Roman Catholic text adapted by St. Nicodemus the Hagiorite. Orthodoxwiki says about St. Nicodemus:
"He was, however, influenced significantly by Roman Catholic spirituality, canon law, and theology. He translated and edited The Spiritual Combat (1589) by Lorenzo Scupoli, a Catholic priest of Venice, renaming it Unseen Warfare, and the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits. He made use of Roman canon law in The Rudder, and held to the Anselmian view of the Atonment. There is an extant letter by St Nicodemus to Bishop Paisios of Stagai requesting an indulgence, and promising financial payment for it."
source: http://orthodoxwiki.org/Nicodemus_of_the_Holy_Mountain

The wiki is incorrect on several matters. Most importantly, St. Nicodemus did *not* translate the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius of Loyola. He did translate a book called 'Spiritual Exercises' but it was not Ignatius's. In both that book and Unseen Warfare, St. Nicodemus does considerable editing, adding Patristic quotes (which as the editor of the Philokalia he was deeply familiar with) and editing out those things that were inconsistent with the Orthodox tradition.
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« Reply #13 on: June 21, 2012, 02:06:18 PM »

I can't imagine how any one could criticise Unseen Warfare and indeed anything from Theophan the Recluse. Especially without ever reading it.

Fr., you have a limited imagination when it comes to folks.  People need just a kernel of a kernel of the truth and they're ready to go to war.
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« Reply #14 on: June 21, 2012, 02:58:17 PM »

I can't imagine how any one could criticise Unseen Warfare and indeed anything from Theophan the Recluse. Especially without ever reading it.
I have read the book, actually I just checked and the book I have is a German translation of the Greek text.

Anyway, it's a matter of principle. Better to read texts that were originally composed as Orthodox that something adapted from Roman Catholicism.
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« Reply #15 on: June 21, 2012, 02:59:42 PM »

and editing out those things that were inconsistent with the Orthodox tradition.
Did he not, as the article says, hold himself to things inconsistent with the Orthodox tradition?
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« Reply #16 on: June 21, 2012, 03:01:09 PM »

Why is that a principle? Id recommend anything by Theophan the Recluse.
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« Reply #17 on: June 21, 2012, 03:16:28 PM »

I suspect that most of what is useful in the Philokalia for laymen can be found in texts like Way of the Pilgrim or Unseen Warfare.
I do feel way more comfortable with the original Philokalia than with these texts...

In the "Way of the Pilgrim", the Jesus Prayer seems to be presented as an easy way, neglecting the need for repentance.
In case anyone understands Russian, here is a text by Prof. Alexey Osipov, where he compares the "Way of the Pilgrim" with the teachings of St. Ignatiy Briyanchaninov, pointing out some deficits http://www.bogoslov.ru/text/421396.html

As for "Unseen Warfare", it is not an originally Orthodox work, but a Roman Catholic text adapted by St. Nicodemus the Hagiorite. Orthodoxwiki says about St. Nicodemus:
"He was, however, influenced significantly by Roman Catholic spirituality, canon law, and theology. He translated and edited The Spiritual Combat (1589) by Lorenzo Scupoli, a Catholic priest of Venice, renaming it Unseen Warfare, and the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits. He made use of Roman canon law in The Rudder, and held to the Anselmian view of the Atonment. There is an extant letter by St Nicodemus to Bishop Paisios of Stagai requesting an indulgence, and promising financial payment for it."
source: http://orthodoxwiki.org/Nicodemus_of_the_Holy_Mountain
You quote St. Ignatiy Briyanchaninov, and worry about Vatican works edited by the Orthodox?  St. Ignatij more or less epitomizes the Western captivity.
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« Reply #18 on: June 21, 2012, 05:46:09 PM »

and editing out those things that were inconsistent with the Orthodox tradition.
Did he not, as the article says, hold himself to things inconsistent with the Orthodox tradition?

Like any saint, he was a product of his time and held personal opinions that may be questionable and need to be looked at in conjunction with the totality of the Patristic witness. However, he is a saint, and Spiritual Warfare, in particular, has been generally recognized by the Church and by those saints who have come after him as a classic of Orthodox spiritual praxis. What's in it helped him, and helped St. Theophan and helped just about every Russian or Athonite monastic saint in the last two centuries in their achievement of theosis. If it's good enough for them, I should think it deserves more respect than to be dismissed 'because the internet says he was Latin-influenced'.
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« Reply #19 on: June 21, 2012, 05:55:17 PM »

and editing out those things that were inconsistent with the Orthodox tradition.
Did he not, as the article says, hold himself to things inconsistent with the Orthodox tradition?

Did these things work their way into his edition of Unseen Warfare? Or more importantly, St. Theophan's, which is the one available in English?

It's also a bit odd to poo-poo the work of St. Nicodemus for his alleged errors, and then say instead we should read from the Philokalia... which he is responsible for. Very few people did as much as St. Nicodemus for reviving Orthodoxy and re-establishing the Church's independence from Roman Catholic influences.
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« Reply #20 on: June 21, 2012, 08:23:12 PM »

Thank you for the responses everybody! They have been very useful. I have always felt that in matters of spirituality, the EO and OO are close enough so as to be nearly identical, so it is good to see people from both sides agreeing on the usefulness of these texts.

Again, much appreciated! Smiley
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« Reply #21 on: June 21, 2012, 11:54:24 PM »

Unseen Warfare was further heavily edited by Theophan the Recluse. It is the most important spiritual book I have, and I alway recommend it without hesitation.

If there is nothing about indulgencies in the text, and there is not, then it doesn't seem to me to matter if Nicodemus was influenced in some other way by Catholicism.

Father,

I purchased Unseen Warfare a couple of years ago and I felt that there was a strong undercurrent of "total depravity" to it, that I assume was from the RC original.  Despite the editing of Ss. Theophan and Nicodemus I still was aware I was reading a RC book.
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« Reply #22 on: June 22, 2012, 12:00:43 AM »

Unseen Warfare was further heavily edited by Theophan the Recluse. It is the most important spiritual book I have, and I alway recommend it without hesitation.

If there is nothing about indulgencies in the text, and there is not, then it doesn't seem to me to matter if Nicodemus was influenced in some other way by Catholicism.

Father,

I purchased Unseen Warfare a couple of years ago and I felt that there was a strong undercurrent of "total depravity"

Peteprint-
What exactly does "total depravity" mean to you?
Where did you find it in Unseen Warfare?
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« Reply #23 on: June 22, 2012, 12:00:58 AM »

I find some of these warnings strange. For someone who is overzealous, reading St. Justin Popovich or Way of the Ascetics is just as likely to send you into crazy-land as some of the texts I hear people are warned to avoid. The Bible itself can screw you up if you approach it from the wrong perspective. IMO there are good things to be found in EO texts, whether you're OO, Anglican, or Atheist.
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« Reply #24 on: June 22, 2012, 12:35:43 AM »

Unseen Warfare was further heavily edited by Theophan the Recluse. It is the most important spiritual book I have, and I alway recommend it without hesitation.

If there is nothing about indulgencies in the text, and there is not, then it doesn't seem to me to matter if Nicodemus was influenced in some other way by Catholicism.

Father,

I purchased Unseen Warfare a couple of years ago and I felt that there was a strong undercurrent of "total depravity"

Peteprint-
What exactly does "total depravity" mean to you?
Where did you find it in Unseen Warfare?

Hello Iconodule.  I don't have time to search the text at the moment, but here is the review I gave of the book that is still posted on Amazon (9/20/2010):

"With all due respect to those reviewers that have found this work helpful, I was actually quite disappointed. I am still in the process of reading the book, but I find many of the concepts within it unorthodox. Despite the editing that was done by SS. Theophan and Nicodemus, I am very aware as I read, that this is the work of a Roman Catholic, not an Orthodox writer.

Constant references to our total depravity (very strongly implied), God being "offended," an emphasis on the Passion (kissing the wounds of Christ), and God allowing us to fall into sin to teach us a lesson; these are some of the Latin teachings that permeate this work.

"...There is nothing He (God) loves and desires to see in us more than a sincere consciousness of our nothingness...and that nothing good can ever come from ourselves, whether a good thought or a good action." (p.82)

According to Bishop Kallistos, "Orthodox do not say, as Calvin said, that man after the fall was utterly depraved and incapable of good desires...the image of God is distorted by sin, but never destroyed."

I know men and women that are even atheists (and I pray that they come to the truth), but I know from experience they are capable of some good thoughts and actions.

There are many examples of men and women in the scriptures that were found pleasing to God by their own actions, for example, the Centurion that asked the Lord to heal his servant, and the Lord stated, "I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel." )Luke 7: 1-9)

In defense of this work, even some Orthodox works, those that originate from a monastic source, often over-emphasize man's depravity. It comes with the territory.

I am no Orthodox scholar, and I am glad that this work has assisted so many in their spiritual struggle, but I have read many Orthodox works, and as I stated above, I am very aware as I read this, that much of it comes from a non-Orthodox mindset."
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« Reply #25 on: June 22, 2012, 12:48:24 AM »

Of course I am not saying that the Unseen Warfare doesn't have some edifying parts, but a man could spend his whole life studying the works of the Fathers and other Orthodox writers.  Why devote the time to a book written by a Theatine Roman Catholic monk?  I know there are good things in the Buddhist Dhammapada, but I would not recommend that to someone seeking Orthodox books to read.
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« Reply #26 on: June 22, 2012, 01:06:07 AM »

I know there are good things in the Buddhist Dhammapada, but I would not recommend that to someone seeking Orthodox books to read.

St. Basil might, if he was talking to someone from Sri Lanka. He did, after all, recommend young people read pagan literature.  Not that I think that invalidates your point...  but to expand on this, if St. Thophan edited the book for reading by people who were going to read it anyway, or who were familiar with it, but wanted to 'dox it up a bit, then that might be helpful...
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« Reply #27 on: June 22, 2012, 01:13:47 AM »

I know there are good things in the Buddhist Dhammapada, but I would not recommend that to someone seeking Orthodox books to read.

St. Basil might, if he was talking to someone from Sri Lanka. He did, after all, recommend young people read pagan literature.  Not that I think that invalidates your point...  but to expand on this, if St. Thophan edited the book for reading by people who were going to read it anyway, or who were familiar with it, but wanted to 'dox it up a bit, then that might be helpful...

Hi Asterikos,

I agree with you, but I think it is possible that the opposite occurred.  When Ss Theophan and Nicodemus made their edits, was Unseen Warfare that widely known in the Orthodox countries, or did their edits give the book a sort of imprimatur?  If they had not touched it, would it even be a book discussed by Orthodox today?  I don't know the answer, just thinking. 
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« Reply #28 on: June 22, 2012, 02:25:37 AM »

Is there any difference between EO and OO devotional texts? Since there seems to be more EO books than OO books in Western languages I wonder whether that can have any efferct in OO diaspora.
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« Reply #29 on: June 22, 2012, 07:26:06 AM »

It's also a bit odd to poo-poo the work of St. Nicodemus for his alleged errors, and then say instead we should read from the Philokalia... which he is responsible for.
He just made a collection, he is not the author. And in fact, the inclusion of Evagrios Pontikos in the Philokalia also is problematic...

few people did as much as St. Nicodemus for reviving Orthodoxy and re-establishing the Church's independence from Roman Catholic influences.
Was that his intention?

  When Ss Theophan and Nicodemus made their edits, was Unseen Warfare that widely known in the Orthodox countries, or did their edits give the book a sort of imprimatur?  If they had not touched it, would it even be a book discussed by Orthodox today?  I don't know the answer, just thinking. 
It wasn't widely known. Today, I even would say it is much more widely known in the EO Church than in the RCC.
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« Reply #30 on: June 22, 2012, 12:27:27 PM »

It's also a bit odd to poo-poo the work of St. Nicodemus for his alleged errors, and then say instead we should read from the Philokalia... which he is responsible for.
He just made a collection, he is not the author. And in fact, the inclusion of Evagrios Pontikos in the Philokalia also is problematic...

Is there anything problematic in Evagrios' actual text in the Philokalia, or is this another case of, "He made some mistakes, so nothing he wrote could be worth reading"?

You do realize that Evagrios (and Origen) had a profound influence on the spirituality of the Eastern fathers?


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few people did as much as St. Nicodemus for reviving Orthodoxy and re-establishing the Church's independence from Roman Catholic influences.
Was that his intention?

His direct intention was to re-establish the Church on her authentic, Patristic spiritual basis. The Church has deemed him very successful- hence he is a beloved saint and his works and revered throughout the Church in a variety of translations. Who are you again?
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« Reply #31 on: June 22, 2012, 03:33:40 PM »

Unseen Warfare was further heavily edited by Theophan the Recluse. It is the most important spiritual book I have, and I alway recommend it without hesitation.

If there is nothing about indulgencies in the text, and there is not, then it doesn't seem to me to matter if Nicodemus was influenced in some other way by Catholicism.

Father,

I purchased Unseen Warfare a couple of years ago and I felt that there was a strong undercurrent of "total depravity"

Peteprint-
What exactly does "total depravity" mean to you?
Where did you find it in Unseen Warfare?

Hello Iconodule.  I don't have time to search the text at the moment, but here is the review I gave of the book that is still posted on Amazon (9/20/2010):

"With all due respect to those reviewers that have found this work helpful, I was actually quite disappointed. I am still in the process of reading the book, but I find many of the concepts within it unorthodox. Despite the editing that was done by SS. Theophan and Nicodemus, I am very aware as I read, that this is the work of a Roman Catholic, not an Orthodox writer.

Constant references to our total depravity (very strongly implied), God being "offended," an emphasis on the Passion (kissing the wounds of Christ), and God allowing us to fall into sin to teach us a lesson; these are some of the Latin teachings that permeate this work.

What makes you think these are particularly Latin teachings? You say we should read the Orthodox Fathers. How much of them have you actually read? God being "offended" is a Latin concept? The scriptures are replete with such an idea.

Quote
"...There is nothing He (God) loves and desires to see in us more than a sincere consciousness of our nothingness...and that nothing good can ever come from ourselves, whether a good thought or a good action." (p.82)

This passage is completely Orthodox Christian. In fact it is followed on the next page by Patristics quote to that effect, such as, "He alone knows himself in the best way possible who thinks of himself as being nothing." Who said that? That arch-Calvinist Westernizer St. John Chrysostom.

The point is that we can do nothing good without God's help.

Quote
According to Bishop Kallistos, "Orthodox do not say, as Calvin said, that man after the fall was utterly depraved and incapable of good desires...the image of God is distorted by sin, but never destroyed."

The Calvinist doctrine of Total Depravity is nowhere found in the pages of Unseen Warfare. Nowhere does this book say that man is incapable of choosing to cooperate with God and struggle against his passions with God's help, or that God's grace is extended only to a limited elect. In fact it assumes the opposite.

Also, how is Met. Kallistos a Holy Father to judge Holy Fathers by?

Quote
I know men and women that are even atheists (and I pray that they come to the truth), but I know from experience they are capable of some good thoughts and actions.

Do you believe that these people do this without any help from God whatsoever?

Quote
In defense of this work, even some Orthodox works, those that originate from a monastic source, often over-emphasize man's depravity. It comes with the territory.

I am no Orthodox scholar, and I am glad that this work has assisted so many in their spiritual struggle, but I have read many Orthodox works, and as I stated above, I am very aware as I read this, that much of it comes from a non-Orthodox mindset."

And with the above two paragraphs you contradict yourself.
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« Reply #32 on: June 22, 2012, 03:38:27 PM »

Of course I am not saying that the Unseen Warfare doesn't have some edifying parts, but a man could spend his whole life studying the works of the Fathers and other Orthodox writers.

Unseen Warfare is a work of the Fathers- two of them, to be specific. It is an Orthodox book. Two great saints read through the text, dramatically revised it until they deemed it suitable for Orthodox spirituality, even adding whole chapters which read very much like something from the Philokalia, and then published it without hesitation. Unseen Warfare as we have it is not simply "a book written by a Theatine Roman Catholic monk." It is an Orthodox work and it offers excellent practical advice in the spiritual life.
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« Reply #33 on: June 22, 2012, 03:42:09 PM »

I agree without reservation with iconodule and always recommend Unseen Warfare.
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« Reply #34 on: June 22, 2012, 04:45:52 PM »

Unseen Warfare was further heavily edited by Theophan the Recluse. It is the most important spiritual book I have, and I alway recommend it without hesitation.

If there is nothing about indulgencies in the text, and there is not, then it doesn't seem to me to matter if Nicodemus was influenced in some other way by Catholicism.

Father,

I purchased Unseen Warfare a couple of years ago and I felt that there was a strong undercurrent of "total depravity"

Peteprint-
What exactly does "total depravity" mean to you?
Where did you find it in Unseen Warfare?

Hello Iconodule.  I don't have time to search the text at the moment, but here is the review I gave of the book that is still posted on Amazon (9/20/2010):

"With all due respect to those reviewers that have found this work helpful, I was actually quite disappointed. I am still in the process of reading the book, but I find many of the concepts within it unorthodox. Despite the editing that was done by SS. Theophan and Nicodemus, I am very aware as I read, that this is the work of a Roman Catholic, not an Orthodox writer.

Constant references to our total depravity (very strongly implied), God being "offended," an emphasis on the Passion (kissing the wounds of Christ), and God allowing us to fall into sin to teach us a lesson; these are some of the Latin teachings that permeate this work.

What makes you think these are particularly Latin teachings? You say we should read the Orthodox Fathers. How much of them have you actually read? God being "offended" is a Latin concept? The scriptures are replete with such an idea.

Quote
"...There is nothing He (God) loves and desires to see in us more than a sincere consciousness of our nothingness...and that nothing good can ever come from ourselves, whether a good thought or a good action." (p.82)

This passage is completely Orthodox Christian. In fact it is followed on the next page by Patristics quote to that effect, such as, "He alone knows himself in the best way possible who thinks of himself as being nothing." Who said that? That arch-Calvinist Westernizer St. John Chrysostom.

The point is that we can do nothing good without God's help.

Quote
According to Bishop Kallistos, "Orthodox do not say, as Calvin said, that man after the fall was utterly depraved and incapable of good desires...the image of God is distorted by sin, but never destroyed."

The Calvinist doctrine of Total Depravity is nowhere found in the pages of Unseen Warfare. Nowhere does this book say that man is incapable of choosing to cooperate with God and struggle against his passions with God's help, or that God's grace is extended only to a limited elect. In fact it assumes the opposite.

Also, how is Met. Kallistos a Holy Father to judge Holy Fathers by?

Quote
I know men and women that are even atheists (and I pray that they come to the truth), but I know from experience they are capable of some good thoughts and actions.

Do you believe that these people do this without any help from God whatsoever?

Quote
In defense of this work, even some Orthodox works, those that originate from a monastic source, often over-emphasize man's depravity. It comes with the territory.

I am no Orthodox scholar, and I am glad that this work has assisted so many in their spiritual struggle, but I have read many Orthodox works, and as I stated above, I am very aware as I read this, that much of it comes from a non-Orthodox mindset."

And with the above two paragraphs you contradict yourself.

Just stating my opinion Iconodule.  If you don't like it I am sorry.  If you believe humans are incapable of any good thoughts and actions other than by some sort of irresistible grace that's your choice.  I don't care for Unseen Warfare because of what I perceive as some unorthodox ideas in it.  You apparently don't share that view.  That's fine.  Also, I don't see where his Grace Kallistos is either judging, or being used to judge any Holy Fathers.  Read what you want to read, it makes no difference to me.  People are capable of doing good or evil without it always having to be the result of divine or demonic influence.  We are not puppets subject to the whim of outside forces.
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« Reply #35 on: June 22, 2012, 04:52:32 PM »

Of course I am not saying that the Unseen Warfare doesn't have some edifying parts, but a man could spend his whole life studying the works of the Fathers and other Orthodox writers.

Unseen Warfare is a work of the Fathers- two of them, to be specific. It is an Orthodox book. Two great saints read through the text, dramatically revised it until they deemed it suitable for Orthodox spirituality, even adding whole chapters which read very much like something from the Philokalia, and then published it without hesitation. Unseen Warfare as we have it is not simply "a book written by a Theatine Roman Catholic monk." It is an Orthodox work and it offers excellent practical advice in the spiritual life.


You are incorrect.  Unseen Warfare is not the work of any Fathers (not all Saints become automatically Fathers to begin with) it is the work of Lorenzo Scupoli, a 16th century RC monk that was edited by two Orthodox saints.  Editors are never credited as the authors of a work.
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« Reply #36 on: June 22, 2012, 05:17:10 PM »

I have to admit that I am shocked to hear of Unseen Warfare being spoken of in such a disrespectful manner by EO.
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« Reply #37 on: June 22, 2012, 05:22:57 PM »

I have to admit that I am shocked to hear of Unseen Warfare being spoken of in such a disrespectful manner by EO.

Father Peter.  I had just sent you a personal email prior to your post.  You can disregard it if you choose, and I shall be taking my leave of OC. net and the forum.  The amount of fighting and arguing that goes on here is harmful to my spiritual life and serves no purpose. 
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« Reply #38 on: June 22, 2012, 05:58:04 PM »

Is there anything problematic in Evagrios' actual text in the Philokalia, or is this another case of, "He made some mistakes, so nothing he wrote could be worth reading"?

You do realize that Evagrios (and Origen) had a profound influence on the spirituality of the Eastern fathers?
Many things are worth reading. It's not like I'm not reading Origen... but to read something for study purposes is not the same as to base your spiritual life on it.

But actually, my point was not about Evagrios. It was rather about St. Nicodemus. His use of Roman Catholic authors, as well as Evagrios, seems to show that he chose spiritual texts, without minding the standing of the author in the Orthodox Church. And that is a methodological problem, since theosis is something that happens within the Church and cannot be divorced from a Church context.
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« Reply #39 on: June 23, 2012, 03:39:07 AM »

With respect maybe he knew vastly more about thesis than you or I and was perfectly happy starting with the source he did. Maybe you are wrong in your opinions?
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« Reply #40 on: June 23, 2012, 04:30:36 AM »

With respect maybe he knew vastly more about thesis than you or I and was perfectly happy starting with the source he did. Maybe you are wrong in your opinions?
I am the first of sinners and I do not claim perfect knowledge. All I am doing is to warn people to be careful about the text sources they use for their spiritual lives.  And there are so many good completely Orthodox texts, why take the risk to use something of non-Orthodox origin?

The following may apply to Lorenzo Scupoli and Evagrios Pontikos.
Metropolitan Hierotheos Vlachos of Nafpatkos says:
Quote
The heretics must be examined in this light. In this way one can see the Church’s love for mankind. For, as we have emphasised elsewhere as well, when someone employs erroneous medical teaching, there are no therapeutic results, one can never achieve the cure. The same is true with the doctrines or the erroneous teaching. An erroneous teaching which is based on a wrong methodology can never lead man to deification.
Text quoted from http://nea-romaiosyni.blogspot.com/2007/03/synodikon-of-orthodoxy.html
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« Reply #41 on: June 23, 2012, 04:42:43 AM »

I think I'll trust St Nicodemus and St Theophan.
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« Reply #42 on: June 23, 2012, 10:12:48 AM »

 If you believe humans are incapable of any good thoughts and actions other than by some sort of irresistible grace that's your choice.

And if you believe that there is no God and that Jesus is really just a metaphor for psychedelic mushrooms, that's your choice.
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« Reply #43 on: June 23, 2012, 10:14:52 AM »

With respect maybe he knew vastly more about thesis than you or I and was perfectly happy starting with the source he did. Maybe you are wrong in your opinions?
I am the first of sinners and I do not claim perfect knowledge. All I am doing is to warn people to be careful about the text sources they use for their spiritual lives.  And there are so many good completely Orthodox texts, why take the risk to use something of non-Orthodox origin?

The following may apply to Lorenzo Scupoli and Evagrios Pontikos.
Metropolitan Hierotheos Vlachos of Nafpatkos says:
Quote
The heretics must be examined in this light. In this way one can see the Church’s love for mankind. For, as we have emphasised elsewhere as well, when someone employs erroneous medical teaching, there are no therapeutic results, one can never achieve the cure. The same is true with the doctrines or the erroneous teaching. An erroneous teaching which is based on a wrong methodology can never lead man to deification.
Text quoted from http://nea-romaiosyni.blogspot.com/2007/03/synodikon-of-orthodoxy.html

You say that you read St. Nicodemus' edition of Unseen Warfare. But you have yet to name any "erroneous teaching" you found in the book itself- your entire approach is to attack St. Nicodemus.
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« Reply #44 on: June 23, 2012, 10:17:07 AM »

Is there anything problematic in Evagrios' actual text in the Philokalia, or is this another case of, "He made some mistakes, so nothing he wrote could be worth reading"?

You do realize that Evagrios (and Origen) had a profound influence on the spirituality of the Eastern fathers?
Many things are worth reading. It's not like I'm not reading Origen... but to read something for study purposes is not the same as to base your spiritual life on it.

But actually, my point was not about Evagrios. It was rather about St. Nicodemus. His use of Roman Catholic authors, as well as Evagrios, seems to show that he chose spiritual texts, without minding the standing of the author in the Orthodox Church. And that is a methodological problem, since theosis is something that happens within the Church and cannot be divorced from a Church context.

Evagrios, like Origen, was widely admired by many great Fathers. His influence on Orthodox spirituality has been so profound that it is sometimes called "Evagrian". The original "Philokalia" was a collection of Origen's teachings by Sts. Gregory the Theologian and Basil the Great.
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« Reply #45 on: June 23, 2012, 01:46:32 PM »

I think I'll trust St Nicodemus and St Theophan.

Given how often Metropolitan Hierotheos cites St. Nicodemos in his own writing, I'm pretty sure he would would agree with you. I also think that this discussion about whether the glorified compiler of the Philokalia is really a Father of the Church would boggle not only his mind, but that of anyone else who got monastic training on Athos.
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