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Isaac
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« on: November 22, 2004, 02:11:57 AM »

Hello,

Please forgive me if this subject has already been discussed at length elsewhere.  Having read "The Place of Blessed Augustine in the Orthodox Church" a few months ago, I must say that I greatly admire this saint.  

The book highlights the recent controversy, stirred up by certain members of the american Orthodox Church, that seeks to denounce this great figure as a heretic-- and basically the chief cause of the western schism.  But is such the case?  Certainly not.

Seraphim Rose does a brilliant job of putting Augustine and his theology into perspective.  He was most certainly an Orthodox teacher of the Church, and both his life and teachings are worthy of emulation.  Most importantly, as Fr. Seraphim points out, Augustine is important to us Western Orthodox, who so desperately need the "orthodoxy of the heart" that Augustine has.

Please feel free to contribute quotations by or about Augustine that you particularly like, or would like to discuss.  

I believe St. Photios best describes the Orthodox perspective on Augustine:

"Who is it who says that Ambrose or Augustine or anyone else affirmed things contrary to the Lord's word? If it is I, I insult your fathers. But if you say it, while I deny it, then you insult them, and I condemn you as a blasphemer of the fathers. But, you retort, they have written so, and their works contain the statement that the Spirit proceeds from the Son. What of it? For if they had been instructed and did not change their opinion, if after just rebukes they were not persuaded (this is again another calumny against your fathers), then you may reckon your own deed and ascribe your own incorrigible opinion to their doctrine. Although in other things they are of equal stature with the best, what does it have to do with you? For if they have either slipped into some error or been subject to any negligence—for such is the human condition—when they were admonished, they did not contradict, nor were they contumacious when corrected. How will they who bear no resemblance to you help deliver you from ineluctable judgment? Although they were admirable by reason of many other qualities which manifest virtue and piety, they professed your godless error either through ignorance or through negligence. But if they in no manner shared the benefit of your advantages, why do you introduce their human defect as a mandate for your blasphemous belief? By your mandate, you attest that men who have legislated nothing of this sort are open transgressors, and so you demand a penalty for the uttermost blasphemy under the mask of benevolence and love. The results of your attempts do not benefit you. Observe the impious exaggeration and the stupidity of a base mind...

"I do not admit that what you assert was so plainly taught by them, but if they happened to express some such thing, if they happened to fall into something unbecoming, then I would imitate the good sons of Noe [Noah] and hide my father's shame, by using silence and gratitude as a cloak. I would not follow Chain's [Ham's] example, as do you. Rather, you are crueler and more impudent than he, for you publish abroad the shame of those you call your fathers. Now, he fell under the curse, not because he uncovered his father, but because he did not cover him. You, however, both uncover your fathers and vaunt your audacity. He tells the secret to his brothers; you tell yours not to brothers, or to one or two persons, but turning the whole world into a great theatre, you trumpet with all urgency and shamelessness that your fathers are ignominous. You revel in their shame and delight in their dishonor, and you seek out fellow revelers with whom to make more conspicuous festival of their disgrace and shame. But you did not consider that they were human, and that no one constituted from clay and mutable matter can maintain himself forever superior to a human blunder. Indeed, it happens that a trace of some blemish clings even to the best of men...

"Augustine and Jerome said that the Spirit proceeds from the Son. How can one trust or vouch with confidence that their writings have not been maliciously altered after the passage of so much time? For do not think that you are the only one eager for impiety and bold in things not to be dared. Rather, from this very condition of your own mind, consider that nothing hindered the guileful enemy of our race from finding vessels for such a deed...

"Augustine and Jerome said these things. But perhaps they spoke out of the necessity of attacking the madness of the pagans or of refuting another heretical opinion or of condescending to the weakness of their hearers, or out of the necessity of any one of the many other reasons that human life daily presents. If such a statement perchance escaped their lips because of one or more of the above reasons, why do you make a dogma and law of what was not spoken by them with dogmatic significance and so bring irreparable ruin upon yourself by contentiously enlisting them in your dementia?...

"Indeed, in how many of our blessed and holy fathers is it possible to find such things! Look at Clement, the high priest of Rome, and the books which are known from him as Clementine (I do not say write, since ancient report has it that Peter the Coryphaeus commanded that they be written). Consider Dionysios of Alexandria, who from his opposition to Sabellios all but joins hands with Arius. Consider that splendor of sacred-martyrs, Methodios of Patara, who does not reject the belief that the angels had fallen into mortal desire and bodily intercourse, although they are of a bodiless nature and without passions. I shall pass over Pantaenos and Clement, as well as Pierios and Pamphilos and Theognostos, sacred men and teachers of sacred learning, whom we celebrate with great honor and acceptance, especially Pamphilos and Pierios, distinguished by the trials of martyrdom. Although we do not accept every one of their statements, we grant them honor for a distinguished life and for their other doctrines. Along with the aforementioned, we shall also pass by the Fathers from the West: Irenaeus, high priest of God, who received the supervision of sacred things in Lugdunum [i.e., Lyons], and his disciple Hippolytus, the martyr among high priests: men wonderful in many respects, though at times some of their writings do not refrain from digressing from exactitude...

"Will you then apply your disjunctive premise against all of these men and, with raised brows, say: "Either these men ought to be honored and their writings should not be rejected, or, if we reject some of their words, we should at the same time reject the men themselves"?

(quoted from St. Photios' Mystagogy of the Holy Spirit)


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« Reply #1 on: November 24, 2004, 10:39:58 AM »

Isaac,
That's good stuff.
DT
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« Reply #2 on: November 24, 2004, 12:37:34 PM »

In my usual confusion, I was not aware of Blessed Augustine being declared as a heretic by the Orthodox Church. I am aware that some of what he wrote was used as 'seeds' for later unOrthodox innovations or as a basis for those opinions, but not for the saint himself being considered in error.
Good post, Isaac.

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« Reply #3 on: November 24, 2004, 02:23:56 PM »

In my usual confusion, I was not aware of Blessed Augustine being declared as a heretic by the Orthodox Church. I am aware that some of what he wrote was used as 'seeds' for later unOrthodox innovations or as a basis for those opinions, but not for the saint himself being considered in error.
Good post, Isaac.

Demetri

Exactly, you are right - he is NOT a heretic.  It's just that some holier-than-thou theologian types would like Bl. Augustine to be declared a heretic.
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« Reply #4 on: December 02, 2004, 01:54:45 PM »

Would one of those seeds be that of Zwinglian Symbolism? attributed to the Eucharist,even though Augustine firmly believed in the Real Presence.
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« Reply #5 on: December 02, 2004, 02:51:44 PM »

I guess because Augustine referred in places to the Eucharist as a "symbol". This has been taken out of context on more than one occasion by certain Protestants to say "See?  Augustine even believed that the Eucharist was symbolic".  Nevermind that Augustine never hinted that it was merely a "symbol" in the sense we use the word, as he was pretty clear that he believed in the Real Presence.
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« Reply #6 on: December 02, 2004, 07:47:06 PM »

Your right many Evangelical Apologist have prooftexted Augustine to support their memorialist views,and have ignored the vast majority of his works,that speak otherwise.



You have on your profile that your are Baptist, Southern Baptist,Independant?  I used to be SBC,so I know were your coming from.
« Last Edit: December 02, 2004, 08:12:43 PM by DennyB » Logged
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« Reply #7 on: December 02, 2004, 11:10:46 PM »

I have some trouble with this.  How do Augustine's views on predestination and orginal sin not make him a heretic? (btw, the question is not rhetorical; I actually want to know)
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« Reply #8 on: December 03, 2004, 12:40:26 AM »

Hve you read this piece, penelope?

http://www.goarch.org/en/ourfaith/articles/article8153.asp

I'm too tired to read it again tonight and don't really remember enough from my year-ago read of it. Maybe some answers are there.

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« Reply #9 on: December 03, 2004, 02:08:18 AM »

Blessed Augustine was not a heretic.  His teachings on grace are not heretical-- they contain an overemphasis, but one which must be placed within the context of his battle against the heresy of Pelagius, who heretically denied any real "fall," as well as the role of God's grace in salvation.  His overemphasis was lovingly corrected by his contemporary, St. John Cassian, who even refused to mention Holy Augustine by name so as to proverbially cover up his father's nakedness.  

Augustine's life of strict asceticism obviously helps to show you what he himself thought of the role of man's view in struggling, aided by the Grace of God, against the passions.  At the end of his life he submitted all of his teachings to the correction of the Holy Church, which is why he small errors are over-looked, and his Orthodoxy rightly extolled.

Augustine is praised by the fifth ecumenical council as a teacher on par with Basil the Great.  His statements that the filioquists used to support their arguments were taken entirely out of context.  In latin, a far less exact language than Greek, one could say that the Spirit proceeds from the Father and Son, and simply mean that He proceeds THROUGH the Son, and not the heretical idea that the Holy Spirit proceeds eternally and/or hypostatically from the Son.  Saint Maximos the Confessor said as much in his age concerning this doctrinal formulation that had occured because of the imprecision of linguam latinum.

But Augustine is truly a Saint of the Orthodox Catholic Church... for the bulk of his teaching must be looked at, and this was by and large a bastion of Orthodoxy.  And this is not even to mention his pious Confessions which truly display what is most needed in our age of super-correctness: Orthodoxy of the heart.  His overemphases, his theologoumena (theological opinions), and his incorrect speculations were overlooked by the universal Church, who with one voice acclaims him as a Saint.

Holy Augustine, pray to God for us!
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« Reply #10 on: December 03, 2004, 02:12:14 AM »

Concerning the word "symbol"

I am not certain of the latin word, but the Greek word "symbol" is precisely NOT what it has come to mean in the West, which is, "something that stands for something that is absent."  

No.  The word "symvolo" in Greek means, "to bring two things into one"-- or something like that.
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« Reply #11 on: December 03, 2004, 09:16:55 AM »

Concerning the word "symbol"

I am not certain of the latin word, but the Greek word "symbol" is precisely NOT what it has come to mean in the West, which is, "something that stands for something that is absent."  

No.  The word "symvolo" in Greek means, "to bring two things into one"-- or something like that.



Intresting,I never  knew that,Thanks
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« Reply #12 on: December 03, 2004, 11:45:09 AM »

DennyB,

I'm basically a lifelong SBC, but for the past year or so I've been one in name only.  I'm about 95+% convince that Orthodoxy is the truth, but what's really holding me back in seeking entry into the Church is my wife who doesn't see eye to eye with me on this.  I'm still praying, though, that God will bring us both (as well as our 14 month old son) into the Orthodox church.

BTW--I've also read what Isaac pointed out about the meaning of "symbol".
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« Reply #13 on: January 09, 2005, 08:43:28 PM »



Exactly, you are right - he is NOT a heretic. It's just that some holier-than-thou theologian types would like Bl. Augustine to be declared a heretic.

Actually, from what I've read of his works, he has been the purveyor of most of the western heresies. In fact, the introduction to Calvin's "Institutes" points out that all Calvin really did was systematize Augustine.

Augustine was the author of the filoque:
"God the Father is He from Whom the Word is born and from Whom the Holy Spirit principally proceeds. I have used the word principally, so that it may be understood that the Spirit proceeds from the Son also." [On the Trinity, 15:16:29] "The Holy Spirit does not proceed from the Father into the Son and then proceed from the Son for our sanctification; but He proceeds from Both at the same time, although the Father has given this to the Son, that just as the Holy Spirit proceeds from Himself, so He also proceeds from the Son." [On the Trinity, 15:27]

He also came up with the idea of inherited guilt:
"They are punished not only on account of the sins which they add by the indulgence of their own will, but on account of the original sin, even if, as in the case of infants, they had added nothing to that original sin." and "Even if there were in men nothing but original sin, it would be sufficient for their condemnation." [On the Soul and Its Origin, Bk IV, Ch 20]

He claimed that baptism's purpose was to wash away original sin. He came up with the doctrine of predestination that the Reformed used:

"I speak thus of those who are predestined to the Kingdom of God, whose number is so certain that none may be added to or subtracted therefrom ... while those who do not belong to this most certain and blessed number are most righteously judged according to their deservings. For they lie under the sin which they have inherited by original generation and so depart hence with the inherited debt [On Rebuke and Grace, XIII, 39 940, 42 942]."

There are a few other heretical teachings that he taught, and a full explanation can be found at: http://www.geocities.com/trvalentine/orthodox/augustine8.html This gives a full history of Augustine's influence.

Augustine, from what I can tell, is almost singlehandedly responsible for Western theology. In his defense, his mistakes were out of ignorence, because he didn't know Greek. But in the Latin West he was opposed by a group of monks (from the area he was Bishop in, I believe) led by St John Cassian, the disciple of St. John Chrysostum.

Augustine wasn't even considered a Saint officially by the Orthodox Church until the 1960's, when he was so considered by the State Church of Greece. While Augustine may be a Saint because of his life, his teaching certainly appears to be heretical.
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« Reply #14 on: January 09, 2005, 09:10:14 PM »

Thomas, respectfully, I would very much disagree with the idea that Augustine "wasn't even considered a Saint officially by the Orthodox Church until the 1960's". I would like to post something that I once posted at another forum...

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Nicholas was kind enough to provide some information, so I suppose the best place to start is with the information/points which have already been provided:

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In 1968 the State Church of Greece added Augustine's name to the Church Calendar. Other Churches followed that example.

While Augustine's name might have been added in 1968 to the Calendars used by some Churches, he had long been considered a saint, as a careful review of the contemporary and ancient teachers of our Church demonstrate. Since the facts provided to us by Nicholas proceed in a (more or less) reverse chronological order, it would perhaps be best to likewise go backwards in time as we consider the available information. So, let's start in the 20th century and start working our way backwards.

According to Fr. Seraphim Rose, "in the official calendar of one of the 'Old-Calendarist' Greek Churches," Augustine is called "'Saint Augustine the Great" (Emphasis mine). [1] Many (though not all) within the contemporary Russian Church also viewed Augustine as a Saint. As an example, it is said of Saint John of Shanghai and San Francisco:

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"Archbishop John Maximovitch, when he became ruling bishop of Western Europe, made it a point of showing special reverence for him (together with many other Western Saints); thus, he commissioned the writing of a special church service in his honor (which until then had not existed in the Slavonic Menaion), and this service was officially approved by the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Church outside of Russia under the presidency of Metropolitan Anastassy. Archbishop John celebrated this service every year, wherever he might happen to be, on the feast day of Blessed Augustine." [2]

Besides Saint John, and Fr. Seraphim Rose (who wrote an entire book in defense of Augustine), most (if not all) of the other prominent writers in Orthodoxy also seem to have considered Augustine a Saint. Here's some examples: Archbishop Averky (whom some consider a Saint) calls Augustine "Blessed" in his Commentary on the book of Revelation [3]; Fr. Michael Pomazansky calls Augustine "Blessed" eighteen times in his work Orthodox Dogmatic Theology, and quotes Augustine as an authority about a dozen times in this text [4]; and Fr. Georges Florovsky also acknowledged that Augustine was a Saint in his work Bible, Church, Tradition (and probably others). I have no doubts that if I had more books by 20th century theologians, I would find more evidence.

That Augustine was considered a Saint can also be seen in the hagiographical material of the 20th century. The Prologue From Ochrid, for example, which was compiled by Saint Nikolai of Serbia, lists Augustine as a Saint of the Church (June 15th). The admittedly short entry from the Prologue on Augustine says:

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"He was turned from paganism to Christianity through the advice, tears, and prayers of his mother, Monica. He was a great Doctor of the Church and an influential writer, but with certain unacceptable extremes in his teaching. He served and glorified the Lord for thirty-five years as Bishop of Hippo and lived seventy-six years on earth in all, from 354-430." [5] [A note--the Prologue also has short entries on other great luminaries of our Church, such as Bl. Theophylact of Bulgaria]

As we go backwards in time we find other examples of Augustine being considered a Saint. For example, while the State Church of Greece may not have added Augustine to their Calendar until 1968 (I'm assuming that that is a fact, though I've not attempted to verify it), the Russian Church had added Augustine back in the 19th century. And of course, adding someone to a calendar is not an acknowledgement that, up until the addition, a Church had not considered someone to be a Saint. Many western Saints were only added to Orthodox calendars within the past few centuries.

The next piece of information Nicholas provided for us was the following:

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Nicodemus of the Holy Mountain (1749-1809) was given selected writings of Augustine by Uniate visitors. Impressed with the extracts, Nicodemus placed Augustine's name in the Greek Synaxaristes (June 15th) with a troparion by Michael Kritoboulos.

Nobody is infallible, so I wouldn't automatically dismiss the possibility of Saint Nicodemus being tricked. However, I think it should be remembered that Saint Nicodemus was far from ignorant of the writings of the Church Fathers, and the divinely-inspired contents of the Ecumenical and Local Councils. Isn't it probable that the words the holy Fathers used about Augustine had some part to play in the decision of Saint Nicodemus to include Augustine in the Calendar? Saints Mark of Ephesus (15th century) [6] and Photius the Great (9th century) [7] considered Augustine a Saint--perhaps Saint Nicodemus simply reaffirmed what these two great saints had believed?

And these two Saints were not alone. A western example of how Augustine was perceived can be seen in the writings of Saint Bede the Venerable (7th century). A prominent example of Bede's respect for Augustine can be found in his commentary on the First Epistle of John. In his commentary, the Venerable Bede quotes the Church Fathers a total of sixty-one times, with fifty-three(!) of these quotes being from Augustine's works. (What's more, Bede alludes to, but does not directly quote, Augustine three additional times in his commentary on 1 John). [8] Saint Bede was one of the more learned and well-read men in the west at that time, and had obviously read Augustine extensively. It's doubtful that this saint of the Church simply didn't see what some today consider blatant heresy. It's much more likely that Saint Bede just didn't consider Augustine's errors as extreme in nature as some Orthodox do today.

Which brings up a question: which Saints did consider Augustine a heretic? That seems like it'd be a good aspect of this debate to explore. So far as I can see, as we read the other writings of the Saints through the centuries, we see the following consistent pattern: an acknowledgment that Augustine made some errors, and even that some heresies sprung from certain sayings of his, yet a simultaneous and equally forceful acknowledgement that Augustine is in fact a Saint in the Church, and can be quoted as an Authority. But perhaps there are saints that I am not aware of who held a contrary view? If there are, we can discuss that in future posts, but for now I'll move on to the Ecumenical Councils, which also speak of Augustine as a Saint.

Fr. Seraphim Rose mentions in his book on Augustine that the 7th Ecumenical Council praised him (and apparently recognized that he was a saint). [9] Blessed Augustine was also mentioned favorably in The Letter of Pope Agatho to the Emperor and the 6th Ecumenical Council. [10] And during the first session of the 5th Ecumenical Council, Saint Justinian mentions Augustine in the midst of some of the brightest divine lights in the Church's history, making no distinction between the place of Augustine and the other saints mentioned:

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"We further declare that we hold fast to the decrees of the four Councils, and in every way follow the holy Fathers, Athanasius, Hilary, Basil, Gregory the Theologian, Gregory of Nyssa, Ambrose, Theophilus, John (Chrysostom) of Constantinople, Cyril, Augustine, Proclus, Leo and their writings on the true faith." [11]

To help give a bit of context for this quote, I'd like to quote something else that Saint (Emperor) Justinian said:

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"...we want you to know that after the definition of the holy Synod of Chalcedon had been drawn up, Theodoret too, in that he had written against the Twelve Chapters of St Cyril and had defended the wicked teachings of Nestorius, was ordered to anathematize Nestorius and his impiety and to confess that the holy, glorious, and ever-Virgin Mary was Theotokos before he was received. For this reason, then, neither Ibas nor Theodoret are considered teachers and Fathers, but as men who repented and anathematized those wicked teachings that were the cause of their being accused. When they received the definition of the Synod of Chalcedon and subscribed to it they were received, since it is the custom in the catholic Church that when heretics have left all their error and have returned to the orthodox faith they are received into communion, but they are not reckoned by the fathers as teachers ...We want you to know this as well: not only were Ibas and Theodoret exprelled from the episcopate because they spoke against the Twelve Chapters of St Cyril, but Domnus, Archbishop of Antioch, was censured simply because he had written that one ought to keep silent concerning Cyril's Twelve Chapters." (emphasis mine) [12]

One might also consider Saint Justinian's views on Origen. Clearly, then, Saint Justinian was against counting heretics who had repented of their heresy as teachers or Fathers of the Church. And obviously he would be even more strict with those who were unrepentant (or defended the errors of those who were heretics). I believe we can safely assume (based on the evidence) that Justinian knew that Augustine had made some errors, and indeed that Augustine had "retracted some of his own writings, and corrected some of his own sayings," as the Pope of Rome put it in his Epistle that Confirmed the 5th Ecumenical Council. [13]

Yet, in spite of Augustine's errors, and in spite of his seemingly strict understanding of the doctrinal purity required to be an authoritative teacher, Saint Justinian doesn't hesitate to identify Augustine as a Saint of the Church, both at the Fifth Ecumenical Council and in other texts he wrote. [14] Certainly Augustine had errors--but apparently they weren't severe enough to make Augustine unsuitable to quote as an authority.

We should also note at this point what Nicholas himself told us: that the 4th Ecumenical Council considered Augustine a Holy Father. Whether the Ecumenical Councils under Saints Photius and Palamas mentioned Augustine I don't know, though I don't consider it unlikely. Before we go on to the rest of the information that Nicholas provided, let's sum up what has been said thus far:

- Many prominent and saintly Orthodox thinkers in the past few centuries considered Augustine a Saint.

- Many of the Saints of the Church considered Augustine a Saint, and considered him an authority.

- Augustine was mentioned at the 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th Ecumenical Councils--always favorably.

This summation brings us up to the mid-5th century. The next piece of information that Nicholas provided for us brings us to the early part of the 5th century:

Quote
In 415, Palestinian bishops of the synods of Jerusalem and Diospolis disapproved of his views.

It is my understanding that the Palestinian bishops were lied to by those very people whom Augustine was writing against. If this is so then Augustine obviously wouldn't be discussed in an even-handed manner. What I'd like to know is, was Augustine condemned at any Council that was deemed Orthodox (e.g., was he condemned at a Local Council that was later confirmed by an Ecumenical Council)? Even if such a condemnation at a Council actually existed, it wouldn't prove that Augustine was a heretic, [15] but it would be evidence I'd be interested in seeing.

If my understanding of the Council mentioned above is correct, then using this Council to demonstrate that Augustine was a heretic would be like using some of Saint Gregory the Theologian's words to demonstrate the Orthodoxy of Maximus the Cynic (who was planted to sway Gregory towards agreeing with the Alexandrian positions, and who eventually--when Gregory couldn't be swayed--betrayed Gregory and was part of his eventual downfall as Patriarch of Constantinople). In other words, sometimes people are wrong and mistakenly praise of condemn someone based on false knowledge: we certainly wouldn't want to take their mistakes and use them to inform our understanding of who is and isn't Orthodox.

(As a clarification of my last point, I'd note that while saints or councils can err, when the mind of the Church accepts something and it becomes obvious what the Orthodox position is, we see less and less possibility of something being misunderstood or false. I'm speaking here, of course, of those types of things which weren't handed down from the Apostles, those traditions we are of course fully sure of. So, while I don't think there's a problem believing that a Father here or a Council there misunderstood Augustine, I think there is a problem in claiming that Augustine was really a heretic and was misunderstood by almost every saint and council for century upon century)

Many people did react to Augustine's exaggerated doctrines, of course; but the question I have is: how many Church Fathers who knew all the [relevant][ facts, and had read Augustine's works, actually condemned him? When Saints such as John Cassian and Vincent of Lerins spoke against the doctrines Augustine promulgated, for example, they didn't openly attacked him, but focused on the erroneus beliefs while passing over the source of the beliefs. They didn't come anywhere near condemning Augustine in their writings. Again, we return to the issue that I brought up before regarding which saints, if any, condemned Augustine as a heretic.

Well, I guess we are now at the last piece of information that Nicholas provided:

Quote
The Fourth Ecumenical council lists him as a holy Father of the Third Ecumenical Council. This is incorrect as he died 10 months before the 3rd Ecumenical Council!

On this point I'm not sure what to say. For the sake of discussion, I'll proceed and assume that the claim is true. My general response to this is to ask a question: Why is this thought to be a persuasive argument against Augustine? I guess I don't quite get it. The point of the argument seems to be that the Council got the date wrong, and so we should not trust the Council's entire view of Augustine. I don't believe that such an all-or-nothing argument is in keeping with the spirit of Orthodoxy, however.

It seems to me that having exact dates was not always a major concern for the Church. For example, was the 2nd Ecumenical Council a Council of 381 only, or both 381 and 382; and if both, why do we usually say it was in 381? We could ask such a question about many events. Or, to look at it another way, consider that we normally speak of the Creed in somewhat incorrect terminology. There were additions to the Creed at the 2nd Ecumenical Council, but how many of us talk about the "Nicene-Constantinopilitan Creed"? Don't we almost always simply call it the Nicene Creed? These are unimportant inaccuracies (or seeming inaccuracies), what is vital is the basic content of the subjects being discussed.

Maybe it's hard for we in the west to understand this approach, since we grew up being taught that accuracy in such matters was of supreme importance (if you wished to be considered a "good scholar"). The Fathers had no problem giving incorrect dates, the Fathers forgot what the names of the first Popes of Rome were and what order they succeeded each other, to put in in a word, the Fathers just didn't seem to be worried about the same types of things that we are. But I guess that's a warning that we need to conform ourselves better to the Church and her teachings and mind and spirit.

Maybe the thd Ecumenical Council meant to speak of Augustine (as relating to the 3rd Ecumenical Council) as being a part of it in the same way that Saint Peter the Apostle was proclaimed as having been a part of the 4th Ecumenical Council. Or, maybe the 4th Ecumenical Council made a mistake. I don't know, I've not seen exactly what the 3rd Council said of Augustine. What I do know is that the majority of Church Fathers, and the Ecumenical Councils, accept Augustine as a Saint. So be it. So be it.


____________
[1] Fr. Seraphim Rose, The Place of Blessed Augustine in the Orthodox Church, (Saint Herman of Alaska Brotherhood, 1996), p. 79
[2] Ibid., p. 79
[3] Archbishop Averky, The Apocalypse: In the Teachings of Ancient Christianity, (Saint Herman of Alaska Brotherhood, 1998), p. 258
[4] Fr. Michael Pomazansky, Orthodox Dogmatic Theology, (Saint Herman of Alaska Brotherhood, 1997)
[5] Saint Nikolai (Velimirovic), The Prologue From Ochrid, (Lazarica Press, 1986), Volume 2, p. 318
[6] Rose, Augustine, p. 66
[7] Ibid., p. 70
[8] Dom David Hurst, Commentary On the Seven Catholic Epistles, [Cistercian Publications, 1985]
[9] Rose, Augustine, p. 116
[10] Pope Agatho, Letter to the Emperor And The 6th Ecumenical Council
[11] Saint Justinian, Emperor's Letter From the 5th Ecumenical Council
[12] Saint Justinian, A Letter On The Three Chapters (Kenneth P. Wesche, On the Person of Christ: The Christology of Emperor Justinian, [Saint Vladimir's Seminary Press, 1991], pp. 152-153)
[13] Pope Vigilius, Decretal Letter
[14] cf Wesche, Christology, pp. 155-156, 196
[15] I say that it wouldn't prove that Augustine was a heretic because there are precedents in Church history where 1) a Saint, and 2) a Council who condemned that Saint, were both accepted. For example, one of the Local councils whose canons were accepted into Orthodoxy actually confirmed the condemnation of Saint Athanasius. In other words, we ignored the condemnation of Saint Athanasius, but accepted the canons. I don't recall which council this was off the top of my head, but I can get more information if anyone doubts that it's true.
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« Reply #15 on: January 10, 2005, 01:51:17 PM »

Wow, Paradosis!  That's a heck of an apology!  I like it!
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« Reply #16 on: January 10, 2005, 07:33:48 PM »

I never said that Augustine wasn't a saint, though I do question that. I do question how he is not a heretic. The filoque, original sin, and some of his other teachings are heretical, I don't think any Orthodox theologian would reject that. He taught these heretical doctrines, in opposition to the saints of his day. How does that not make him a heretic?
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« Reply #17 on: January 10, 2005, 09:50:16 PM »

thomas,

I don't doubt you're sincerity, but I think that you are getting too caught up in trying to be correct, and in the process of trying to cover all the bases you are missing the mark. For example, you don't want to condemn Augustine ("I never said that Augustine wasn't a saint"), but then you ask how he cannot be condemned ("How does that not make him a heretic?"). You seem to be trying to use an either/or approach, when a softer, though perhaps intellectually less satisfying, approach is called for. You mention the filioque, so perhaps you have read St. Photius's Mystagogy of the Holy Spirit? In it, St. Photius gives some advice on a situation like this. We are to "cover the sin" of our Father if at all possible, making sure to teach truth boldly, but not condemning a man unless it is absolutely necessary. I admit that I have trouble with this myself, as it relates to some of the modern American theologians and the veneration sometimes given to them. Forgive me if I have offended or misunderstood you.
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« Reply #18 on: January 11, 2005, 05:09:19 PM »

I think I understand better now. I still wonder, though, whether he should be called "Saint" or "Blessed." From what I've read of Seraphim Rose' defense of him, he doesn't seem to call him a Saint. I think it is confusing, however, when he is given a place of prominence in Orthodoxy, when some of his teachings (his best known) deviate from Orthodoxy. It's hard from someone like me, who knows little of Orthodoxy, to understand it when I read some of Saint Augustine's works. The best known saint in America is Augustine, so when someone hears that Augustine has a prominent place in the Orthodox Church, it often skews the picture of the Church. So I don't think it's wrong to speak well of Augustine, but it can be very confusing.
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« Reply #19 on: February 22, 2005, 02:09:50 PM »

I have yet to read Fr.Seraphims book on St.Augustine though I think that it is important for anyone who is considering St.Augustine's errors to consider his piety and devout loyalty to the Church. Anyone who reads his Confessions will find a man full of repentence and seeking salvation in the Church. Though I see why it is important to remember that St.Augustine made errors and that these bore a very bad fruit, as the late Fr.John Romanides of blessed memory points out well www.romanity.org , it would be impossible for me not to take solace in this Saints mighty and honest repentence and renunciation of the sinful life and manfully embracing the struggle with sin to get to the Heavenly home.
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« Reply #20 on: March 11, 2005, 04:51:18 PM »

I am not aware that Charlemagne or Thomas Aquinas or Calvin or Luther condemned as heretics by the Orthodox Church. What is your attitude towards them?
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« Reply #21 on: March 11, 2005, 04:53:30 PM »

You have read Seraphim Rose, etc. on Augustiine.  Have you read Augustine's works so that you may fairly judge the nature of his faith?
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« Reply #22 on: March 11, 2005, 05:55:08 PM »

I am not aware that Charlemagne or Thomas Aquinas or Calvin or Luther condemned as heretics by the Orthodox Church. What is your attitude towards them?

I would think Calvin and Luther would be considered to be under the condemnations of the Councils of Jerusalem and Jassy, which were generally concerned with combatting Protestant influence.  I personally have a high opinion of Thomas Aquinas.  I think, like St. Augustine, he was better than his theology.  I'm sure others would disagree with me though.
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« Reply #23 on: March 11, 2005, 07:07:54 PM »

Yes, but Augustine was referred to as a Father at the Second Council of Constantinople, wasn't he?

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« Reply #24 on: March 11, 2005, 08:31:52 PM »

Father (Michael or Paul?) Azkoul,

Greetings. I had hoped to keep from posting until after Lent, but I would like to respond this one time as I find the subject interesting, I'm afraid I might not remember to come back and respond after Lent, and I suppose that we are not into the fulness of Lent yet anyway.

Quote
I am not aware that Charlemagne or Thomas Aquinas or Calvin or Luther condemned as heretics by the Orthodox Church. What is your attitude towards them?

Perhaps individual Fathers have spoken of certain men as heretics, and the Church has accepted their words without feeling the need to call a formal council to condemn them? I don't know that any pan-Orthodox or Local council has anathematized Calvin (for example), but I do know that he was called a heretic by Orthodox Christians (e.g,. Pat. Dositheus in his Confession of 1672) and certainly his theology wouldn't seem to pose such a threat to Orthodox Christianity that we feel the need to anathematize him 450 years after he lived (as opposed to, say, Pope Honorius of Rome, who was anathematized post-humously for various reasons.) My own attitude is that we should listen to the saints of the Church when they are articulating the divine will, whether they are speaking via a Church Council, or through a Confession of Faith, or in any other type of way.

I see Saints saying many things about Augustine: good things, bad things, critiques of his theology, etc. In all of this, I do not see a chorus of Saints denouncing Augustine because of his errors. I see the most learned and saintly of westerners either critiquing Bl. Augustine's theological imprecisions or errors without mentioning him by name, or outright embracing him. Did Sts. John Cassian and Vincent of Lerins believe that Augustine's views were heretical, but just lack the courage to say so? Could the Venerable Bede, who obviously had read Bl. Augustine extensively and was one of the most educated men of his time, have simply missed that Augustine was a heretic? Or to bring things to our own time, could St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco have been so blinded by his missionary zeal that he didn't see how dangerous Bl. Augustine really was? I'll grant that, by themselves, these are all possibilities. But can all these Fathers that one might mention, and many others besides who knew or had access to Augustine's writings, have been so wrong? And if they were all wrong, which Fathers contradicted them?

I think that St. Photius put it well when he said, essentially, that it didn't matter whether Augustine had spoken amiss concerning the Holy Spirit proceeding from the Son. Obviously St. Photius considered the filioque to be a grave heresy, yet he was willing to "cover the nakedness" of any Saint who might have ignorantly fallen into the error hundreds of years before it became a controversy: "Even so, if any among them has fallen into something unseemly-—for they were all men and human, and no one composed of dust and ephemeral nature can avoid some trace of defilement—-I would then imitate the sons of Noah and cover my father's shame with silence and gratitude instead of a garment." (Mystagogy of the Holy Spirit, 70) This is not simply a concept that we can apply to Bl. Augustine, but St. Photius had exactly in mind a situation in which Augustine (among others) might have fallen into heresy.

Quote
You have read Seraphim Rose, etc. on Augustiine. Have you read Augustine's works so that you may fairly judge the nature of his faith?

Well, I am trusting in St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco and other saints to discern what place he has in the Church. Regarding what I have read of Augustine, I have read a number of his homilies on the Psalms and the Gospels. I might also add that I've read much of the information on the net that is critical of Augustine, by authors such as Fr. Michael Azkoul, John Romanides, and Dr. Alexander Kalomiros. In fact, I've linked to their works on the page I made on Augustine.
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« Reply #25 on: March 11, 2005, 09:44:18 PM »

About the title "Blessed" vs "Saint"...

This is verbatim from The Place of Blessed Augustine in the Orthodox Church by Fr. Seraphim Rose

VIII

Opinion of Blessed Augustine in Modern Times

"In the early years of Christianity, the word "Blessed" with reference to a man of holy life was used more or less interchangeably with the word "saint" or "holy".  This was not the result of any formal "canonization" - which did not exist in those centuries - but was based, rather, chiefly on popular veneration.  Thus, St. Martin of Tours (4th Century), an unquestioned saint and wonderworker, is referred to by early writers such as St. Gregory of Tours (6th Century) sometimes as "blessed" (beatus) and sometimes as "saint" (sanctus).  And so, when Augustine is referred to in the 5th century by St. Faustus of Lerins as "most blessed" (beatissimus), in the 6th century by St. Gregory the Great as "blessed" (beatus) and "saint" (sanctus), in the 9th century by St. Photius as "holy" (agios), these different titles all mean the same thing:  that Augustine was recognized as belonging to the rank of those outstanding for their sanctity and teaching.  In the West during these centuries his feast day was kept; in the East (where no special feast day would be kept for Wester saints) he was simply regarded as a Father of the Universal Church.

"By the time of St. Mark of Ephesus the word "blessed" had come to be used for Fathers of somewhat less authority as the greatest Fathers; thus, he refers to "blessed Augustine" but "divine Ambrose," "blessed Gregory of Nyssa" and "Gregory the Theologian, greatest among the saints"; but he is by no means entirely consistent in this usage."

"Even in modern times the word "blessed" remains somewhat vague in its application.  In Russian usage "blessed" (blazhenny) can refer to great Fathers around whom there has been some controversy (Augustine and Jerome in the West, Theodoret of Cyrus [my comment, typo that should be Cyprus?] in the East)), but also fools-for-Christ (canonized or uncanonized) and to the uncanonized holy persons of recent centuries in general.  Even today there is no precise definition of what "blessed" means in the Orthodox Church (as opposed to Roman Catholicism where "beatification" is a whole legal process in itself), and any "blessed" person who has a recognized place in the Orthodox calendar of saints (as do Augustine, Jerome, Theodoret, and many fools-for-Christ) could also be called "saint."  In Russian Orthodox practice one seldom hears of "Saint Augustine", but almost always of "Blessed Augustine."


This should settle the title issue.  Anymore, please by the book - an excellent read.
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« Reply #26 on: March 13, 2005, 01:32:50 AM »

My observation is that the detractors of St.Augustine tend to be two parties who otherwise would have nothing to do with one another.  They are either modernists of one sort or another, or at the other end of the spectrum, "ultra-traditionalist" in orientation (in some cases, to the point of no longer being in communion with the various local Orthodox Patriarchs, etc.)

While there are certainly some legit concerns to be had over his views on predestination and the filioque, less savory are other "cocerns" over his teaching, which I think are largely a mask for the theological "irregularities" of the types I've just mentioned.

For example, we often hear how "Orthodox Christianity doesn't believe in original sin".  Really?  The Council of Carthage in 252 A.D. (under St.Cyprian) stated to "not to forbid the baptism of an infant who, scarcely born, has sinned in nothing apart from that which proceeds from the flesh of Adam. He has received the contagion of the ancient death through his very birth, and he comes, therefore, the more easily to the reception of the remission of sins in that it is not his own but the sins of another that are remitted".

Honestly, I'm tired of seeing modernism under various guises, justified in the name of purging Orthodoxy of supposed "westernisms" - and alot of the "Augustine bashing" is rooted in this, since in some respects (both real and imagined) St.Augustine embodies/symbolizes everything that we choose to perceive as being "wrong" with western Christianity.

P.S. - St.Augustine is not alone amongst the saints, when it comes to the issue of having some reservations hanging around him - St.Gregory of Nyssa seems to have endorsed Origenistic views regarding "final salvation of all", and strictly speaking St.Isaac the Syrian was not even in the Orthodox communion when he lived and reposed.

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« Reply #27 on: November 06, 2006, 04:28:24 AM »

I think I understand better now. I still wonder, though, whether he should be called "Saint" or "Blessed."

Quote
It should be noted, however, that the Orthodox Church has not traditionally ranked saints in terms of "blessed" or "saint" (i.e., suggesting that the latter has a greater degree of holiness than the former). Saint "rankings" are usually only differences in kind (e.g., monastics, married, bishops, martyrs, etc.), not in degree. The practice of ranking by degree is much more characteristic of the Roman Catholic tradition.
http://orthodoxwiki.org/Augustine_of_Hippo

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