In every instance when the Church has been assailed by one or another heresy, we find that many people are fooled by the heresy without actually understanding what is happening. Heresy is always presented as the truth and in this way many are misled.

-- Metropolitan Ephraim, Holy Orthodox Church in North America, 2001


Thursday, November 21, 2013

Contents of This Site


Basics

What is Imyaslavie?  An introduction to name-worshipping.


Analysis

An examination of the name-worshipping controversy and the work of Fr. Anthony Bulatovich, by Metropolitan Anthony Khrapovitsky

Chronology of name-worshipping in HOCNA as of September 14/27, 2012

A review of the history of the name-worshipping controversy, and an analysis of how name-worshipping deviates from the teachings of the Holy Fathers, by Holy Transfiguration Monastery, Boston

The fine line established by St. Cyril of Alexandria, and how name-worshipping crosses that line:  a letter by Fr. B

Statement of Bishop Demetrius on name-worshipping and its consequences for the Holy Orthodox Church in North America

Why the Russian Synod of 1913 is not heretical.  By Fr. Maximos of Holy Ascension Monastery.

How the name-worshippers are using smokescreens to distract the faithful, just as heretics of past generations did.  An essay by Fr. Maximos of Holy Ascension Monastery.

NEW  Created Names and Uncreated God, a reply to the assertions of Thomas Deretich

NEW  St. John of Kronstadt and the Name of God, a further reply to Thomas Deretich

HOCNA, Name-Worshipping, and the Synod of Archbishop Makarios of Athens.  By Fr. Panagiotes Carras

Analysis of the October 8 and 10 statements by the synod of the Holy Orthodox Church in North America

Analysis of the September 5/18 statement on name-worshipping by the synod of the Holy Orthodox Church in North America

Dear Anastasia, on the widely circulated letter from Fr. Mark Beesley defending the bishops of the Holy Orthodox Church in North America on name-worshipping

On the Economist articles, an analytical look at two articles sympathetic to name-worshipping which appeared in The Economist in December 2012

How Name-worshippers (aka Name-glorifiers) define their doctrine, and what the Holy Fathers have to say about it.  A study by Nicholas Snogren.

Links to other articles about name-worshipping


Historical Documents

Decision of the Russian Synod condemning name-worshipping, 1913

Epistles of Patriarch Germanos of Constantinople condemning name-worshipping

Example of how the historical record on name-worshipping was distorted by the radical press

What the Holy New Hieromartyr Patriarch Tikhon actually said in his Nativity Epistle of 1921, versus how the HOCNA hierarchs portray him

Gregory Lourie deposed for name-worshipping

Further Reading

For more information about the role of the name-worshipping heresy in the departure of many clergy, monastics and laity from the Holy Orthodox Church in North America (HOCNA) for the Church of the Genuine Orthodox Christians (GOC), please visit our sister site.

Created Names and Uncreated God


Reply to Mr. Tom Deretich, no.1

Mr. Deretich repeats his arguments that HOCNA is not preaching the heresy of Name Worshipping, which arguments circle about the accusations without giving a sound, dogmatic answer, while making a complete hash of the doctrine of the Holy Trinity, which only Name Worshippers would be so ignorant of Orthodoxy to believe. He also does not explain the physical proof of HOCNA's distorting their translations to reflect Name Worshipper's doctrine's. Anthony Bulatovich was also proven to have done the same to patristic and biblical texts.

The Name Worshippers / Glorifiers claim: “All the Fathers say that the Name of God is an Energy of God". But they never give the quotation or reference, because no Father has ever said that "the Name of God is an Energy of God".

Nowhere in any of the Old or New Testament Scriptures, nowhere in the Prophets and Apostles, nowhere in any of the Fathers and Great Theologians of the Church is there any expression or doctrine of the existence of an uncreated name. God has no name; indeed He is unnamable for He cannot be limited or comprehended and is ineffable. He alone is uncreated. A name is an intellectual process obviously created in the material mind of man by bioelectrical energy and expressed either in writing or sound in the air. It has no other existence: it is the creation of a creation.

Names have been understood, described, and explained as being of a created nature by all the saints and great Fathers, especially by St. Dionysius the Areopagite, the Three Hierarchs, Ss. Gregory of Nyssa, Maximus the Confessor, John of Damascus and Gregory Palamas. God does not need words to communicate with man.

The doctrine of uncreated names is found in Platonic, Gnostic, Cabalistic, Talmudic and Magic teachings, but has not only never been accepted or taught by the Church of God, it has been anathematized many times.

Another claim of theirs is that they alone really know and understand St. Gregory Palamas. In fact, they do not understand him, but also do not know his writings. If they quoted him, they would see that he overturns their doctrines, because he follows the Fathers of the Church.

St. Gregory Palamas concludes, along with St. Dionysius the Areopagite and St. Maximus the Confessor, whom he quotes, that God's Energies are uncreated. St. Gregory proves this in his many works, with quotations from the Scriptures and the Fathers. He calls them "God's inherent and essential energies, which are uncreated". [St. Gregory, 150 Chapters in the Philokalia #92] How can a created name be an Energy of God?

The divine omnipresence is also an Energy of God. He sustains the creation, He is everywhere in it, yet not bound or limited by it, or identified with it. Creation and the uncreated divinity can never be confused. Ibid, #104]

[ St. Gregory, quoting St. Dionysius: "'The creative procession and energy whereby God creates individual essences' [Divine Names, 5:1] loosely and inexactly named from all things since it contains all things in itself." No name is an energy. [Ibid, #105]

"Grace, here distinguished from the Divine Nature, is not created, for no one would suppose a created thing to be the Nature of God". Isn't a name created? Here St. Gregory Palamas is commenting on a quote from St. John Chrysostom. [Ibid, #108].

St. Gregory the Theologian says, "He is 'Christ' the anointed on account of the Divinity; for it is the Divinity that anoints His human nature". [Theological Oration, 4, 21]

St. Gregory Palamas says, "Creation is the single work of the Trinity, no hypostasis has His own particular effect. The Divine Energy is one and the same for all Three: One God: They do not possess an individual power or will or individual energy. There is one impersonal power". [St. Gregory, 150 Chapters in the Philokalia #112] If the energy is personal or has a name, we introduce a fourth person into the Trinity. Since this newly named person must exist from eternity, as they do, and since it has a name, it has its own existence. What of the many Divine Names, as the Holy Fathers call them? Do we then have many gods as do the idolators? If this name has its own existence, it is equal to the Trinity, contrary to what Mr. Deretich declares.

"Divinity is also an appellation of the Divine Energy, according to the theologians", says St. Gregory Palamas. Metropolitan Antony Khrapovitsky and the 1913 Russian Synod based their position on this quotation. Yet, Anthony Bulatovich's followers declared this statement to be heretical.

If the name Jesus is uncreated, as the Name Worshippers say, then this name existed before creation. It is then a creation which God did not will to create, nor did create. God did not say, "I will create My Name, and it will make the world".

If the existence of the Name is before all eternity in God’s foreknowledge, as the new Name Worshippers claim, then since He foreknew all things, all creation existed before eternity and before being created. The foreknowledge of God differs from His Will and His creative Energies. If He did not will this creation, then God is a creator in spite of Himself, unwillingly. In such a case creation is Divine since it is before all eternity, although unwilled, then there is no difference between created and uncreated, "for only God is uncreated". This is clearly pantheism.

St. Dionysius the Areopagite declares, "…in Scripture, all the names appropriate to God are praised regarding the whole, entire, full, and complete Divinity, rather than any part of it. They all refer indivisibly, absolutely, unreservedly, and totally to God in His entirety…Indeed, as I pointed out in my Theological Representations, anyone denying that such terminology refers to God in all that He is may be said to have blasphemed. He is profanely daring to sunder absolute unity". [Divine Names, 2:1] The words, "all the names appropriate to God are praised regarding the whole, entire, full, and complete Divinity" and "they all refer…to God", and "such terminology refers to God", proves that the Fathers do not consider the Divine Names to be the Divine Energies, but human labels and names and terms for the Ineffable.

Name Worshippers / Glorifiers do not follow the doctrines of the Holy Fathers, and reject their doctrines and explications. Their “sainted” founder, Anthony Bulatovich declared that any one who did not accept his doctrines was a heretic, and outside the Orthodox Church. I am glad that I would be considered a heretic by them.

St. John of Kronstadt and the Name of God

Reply to Mr. Tom Deretich, no.2

Name-worshippers love to quote St. John Kronstadt: “the name of God is God Himself” and “you have in that name all the essence of the Lord” (My Life In Christ, pg. 359, St. Petersburg, 2001). Later, however, St. John explains that his understanding of these expressions is founded upon the patristic theology of the Church and not on the ravings of Anthony Bulatovich. The Saint’s words from ‘My Life In Christ’, pp. 467-468:
Since the Lord is everywhere present, His Cross works miracles, His name works miracles, His Icons are wonderworking”. “Since we are of flesh, the Lord attaches His presence, so to speak, and His very self with creation… He attaches Himself to the Temple, to the Icons, to the sign of the Cross, to His name composed of articulated sounds, with holy water, with the sanctified bread, wheat and wine… but there shall come a time when all the visible signs shall not be necessary, and we shall partake of Him more intensely then, ‘in the unwaning day of His Kingdom’, where as now only through the medium of the flesh and through Icons and signs.


First, the Saint well comprehends the basic understanding of God, held for more than three thousand years by the Church: God is omnipresent. The invocation that begins Orthodox services of prayers is the proclamation of this doctrine: “Heavenly King, O Comforter, the Spirit of truth, Who art everywhere present and fillest all things, O Treasury of every good and Bestower of life: come and dwell in us, and cleanse us from every stain, and save, O Good One, our souls”.

God is present everywhere, filling and interpenetrating all things, with no limit or bound, entirely free and unapproachable. He, God Himself, both the essence and the indivisible energy, operations, activity, and attributes, which are the uncreated glory in which He the uncreated God dwells; He is throughout us and in us: in the air we breathe and the food we eat and the raiment we wear and the blood that courses in our veins. He dwells in light unapproachable, i.e., we cannot touch or force Him: He is free and absolute and transcendent. Nothing can touch Him unless He will it. His will – one of His uncreated energies – can grant a grace to or effect a creature, but only at His volition. He is ‘ο ἐνεργών, (ho energon) while creation is τὸ ενεργούμενον, (to energoumenon), i.e. He is the energizer while creation is that which is energized. The energizer effects but is not affected by that which is energized; He remains inviolate, for He is uncreated and eternal, unchanging and ever the same. Only the creation is changeable, and never can the two ever be intermingled or confused.

St. John of Kronstadt makes this understanding clear by saying that God is everywhere, and He sanctifies them, who through various mediums, approach Him. This was the teaching of the Seventh Ecumenical Council, which stated that we do not deify the medium – Icons, names, the Cross, etc – but our worship passes over and reaches the Divinity to attract His grace. It is obvious that the Saint considers the mediums as means created by mankind, which direct our attention and prayers to the prototype, Who, if He desires, can respond with His grace. St. John lists “name” along with the Church building, Icons, holy water, the Cross, etc (all of which are creations of man), where God Himself is approached and His grace can be received; he follows the decisions of the Seventh Council. There is no mention or hint of an uncreated name or of pantheism. St. John did not preach name-worshipping.

Another quote from St. John of Kronstadt, that the name-worshippers like to ignore is: “Let not the heart weak in faith think that the Cross or the name of Christ act of themselves, or that this Cross and this name of Christ produces miracles when I do not look with the eyes of my heart or with the faith of Christ”. (Sergieff, John I. (1897) My Life in Christ. (E.E. Goulaeff, Trans.). Jordanville, NY: Holy Trinity Monastery (1971). p. 23.

This quote from St. John of Kronstadt shakes the very foundation of the name-worshippers doctrine. It is clear that St. John was not a name-worshipper, but only said that “the name of God, is God Himself” in the context of prayer and not as an identity or in a literal sense.

Anthony Bulatovich’s writings clearly and explicitly preach that the letters of God’s name are God Himself, as is also the spoken word. His modern followers preach the same as their ‘sainted’ founder. But when they are challenged because they are preaching the ludicrous doctrines of an uncreated creation, or of pantheism, they speedily demur, saying, “No one could ever be so illogical” (and Bulatovich rolls over in his grave). Such a tactic is common among heretics; they deny anything which is pointed out as being senseless or foreign to the Faith. They then send up a smokescreen of obfuscations, and then invent an even worse heresy; in this instance, the uncreated name. Some facets of this error have been mentioned above, but this same error has been condemned in the Synodicon of Orthodoxy and by all the Fathers, who have condemned the Platonic, Gnostic, Talmudic, Cabalistic pagan teachings in their entirety.

The name-worshippers exhibited a very poor taste in saints when they canonized Anthony Bulatovich. He was an arrogant, ambitious man who used violence to take over monasteries, evict monks and plunder their goods (see the many contemporary reports in the newspapers of the time especially ‘Ekklesiastike Aletheia’ of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. In order to forestall local authorities from dealing forcibly with the problems, the Patriarchate begged the Russian government to intervene so that there could be no doubt of injustice, since the Patriarchates were dependent on Russia for protection from the Turks and Mamelukes. Bulatovich, who used the sword of violence, died by the sword, according to our Saviour’s words. He was killed by robbers in 1919, (shortly after rejecting communion with the Church for the second time).

In any case, when controversy arises, the name-worshippers publicly reject the extremes of their founder; but when on fresh ground or privately, they repeat the old Bulatovichian doctrines. He believed that the Mysteries of the Church are accomplished by the invocation of God’s name. Baptism was in the name of Christ; and the change of the elements in Holy Communion was already accomplished in the proskomide, when the Lamb is excised from the offered bread. Of course, the modern followers might try to deny it, but they are trapped in the chains of their tradition and their attempts to explain and cover up.

One question arises from reading their writings is that the modern name-worshippers never say what name is the divine name. Hilarion and Bulatovich were definite: Hilarion said the name was “Jesus”, while Bulatovich declared that every word in the Gospel was God Himself, even when spoken aloud; wherefore, he was accused of Pantheism. Their present day followers usually say “the name of God is God Himself”, but do not elaborate. Perhaps they fear that they will be accused of declaring created letters and sounds to be divine. In any case, they now are at odds with their purportedly “sainted” founders. What do they mean? The name of God is a name? The name of God is the name? The name God is name? This obscurantism allows them to deny any Orthodox objection and to confuse the issue with pages of ambiguous verbiage, like squids escaping in a cloud of ink.

After giving many quotations, declaring that the power, might, and glory of God protect and save mankind; then tacking on others wherein Mr. Deretich defines, that “in the name” means the same thing, he concludes that St. Cyril of Alexandria says that “the glory, authority, power, might, grace, name, and the truth are the ‘energy/activity/action’ of ‘Godhead that the Father and the Son share”. He then quotes a long passage from St. Cyril, as proof.

In the first part of this quotation, the Saint quotes the Scriptures, Philippians 2:9, “and gave Him a name which is above every name”. This signifies that He is given authority as the Son and Word of God: that Father and Son are of one essence. The Saint later on discusses Christ God’s protection of His disciples, in the “exercise [of] His power”, “by the power and glory of His Godhead”, etc. There is no identification of “name” and “power and glory”, except in Mr. Deretich’s mind. The Saint’s commentary on this scripture and the others, concerns the unity of the Father’s and Son’s essence and will. Mr. Deretich also mentions St. Clement of Rome, who when he wishes to refer to the uncreated power of God, he calls it the name of God. However, there is no statement that the name of God is an energy of God. In any case, these quotations are not from the only received genuine work of St. Clement: the Epistle to the Corinthians.

Mr. Deretich presents a passage in III Kings (no more exact reference is given), when Solomon consecrated the Temple, saying that it is God’s “name and glory (=energy) that fills the newly-built Solomonic Temple”. Here is the verse in question (8:10), “And it came to pass when the priests departed out of the holy place, that the cloud filled the house. (8:11) And the priests could not stand to minister before the cloud, because the glory of the Lord filled the house”. There is no equivalence of glory and name mentioned or implied.

In III Kings 9:3 “to put my name there (the Temple) for ever”, is meant figuratively, which is proved as the sentence continues: “mine eyes and mine heart shall be there perpetually”. If “name” is meant literally, then we must conclude that God has physical eyes and heart.

The tactic in these paragraphs is to present a number of Scriptural or patristic quotations mentioning “name” of God, with others, concerning “the glory, the power, activity, energy, operation, attributes of God”, and mixing them together so as to imply an equivalence which is simply not there; in fact most of their interpretations of the meaning of “name”, do not agree with that of most interpreters and translators. Proximity does not indicate equivalence, and even that is lacking here. We can only conclude that Mr. Deretich is, well, lying. Here, at least, he is showing himself to be a faithful follower of Bulatovich.

Again, this statement is introduced by Mr. Deretich, “name in ancient Greek can mean both a ‘symbol’ for something and it can also mean the thing itself” and it continues in a similar vein. True, a name can mean or signify or be a ‘symbol’ for something, that is, “the thing itself”. Since this is the definition for “name”, this is hardly a statement of great sagacity and even necessary. (Please explain how “something” or “the thing itself” differ?). It has never been believed, certainly not in the Church, that the name is the thing itself. We cannot drink out of the word “glass”. Nor eat the name “apple”. Nor will the word “lion” rip and tear us to pieces. Words which name something are not the thing named, as experience teaches us and as the Patriarchal decision of 1912 proclaimed. We can be starving but a grocery list will not feed us. A leopard will not change spots if we call him a panther. Names are human labels applied to physical objects or concepts so that we may communicate and understand our experience of creation.

God did not name the animals, but Adam did. (Genesis 2:19, “The Lord God... brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof). It is an illogical and false thesis and conclusion to say “the name of x is n, therefore n is x”. It is not a direct predication or equivalence. Rather we must understand that when we say “we are calling x by the name n”, (we are calling this beast (x) with the name lion (n) is what we mean. It is not a reversible predication nor equivalence. We are applying a conceptual generalization of a species, an abstraction, composed of thought and words of a rarefied matter as a label to a very concrete, material animal. Man has been called the creature, which abstracts, generalizes and names. Names are man made, and the lion couldn’t care less what we call it, just as long as we don’t shoot it.

Gregory Lourie has called such thinking “crassly nominalistic”. Unfortunately for him, it is the pragmatic doctrine of the Church and the way most of mankind thinks. However, he is the scion of Cabalistic ancestors, and appears to share in their magic mentality.

With all of their mixing of supposed quotations from the Fathers and Scriptures, which bear the word “name” and juxtaposing them with others which have the words “power or energy or activity”, etc., they declare an equivalence or identity upon no basis and with no hard references. We have seen, how they have misrepresented many of them, so that what they declare as fact cannot be trusted. They consistently violate logical and religious sense in their interpretations, so that their propositions and premises result in unfounded conclusions.

We later have some more juggling with history from Mr. Deretich. The name of the unfortunate Bishop Sergius (later Patriarchal locum tenens), is associated with the 1913 Synodal decision by insinuation, since the modern name-worshippers consistently refer to “the 1913 decision”. Sergius was not on the Synod and he certainly wrote against name-worshipping at other times besides 1913. This attempt to blacken the Synodal decision by association with Sergius, who broke much later under pressure by the communists is simply dishonest. Also, attempts to blacken Halki, thereby blackening the Ecumenical Patriarchate as being anti-Palamite, is pitiful. Certainly, the Encyclical of the Orthodox Patriarchs answering the Pope of Rome in 1895 was a model of Orthodoxy. In just a few years had everything changed? The Patriarchal decision of 1912, which is available on line in English and in the Synodal decision of 1913, praises the prayer of Jesus and hesychasm. Most had not attended western schools, but were instructed in the traditional Church schools where they read and learned Church Greek from reading the Fathers. They certainly knew of St. Gregory Palamas, for the Synodicon of Orthodoxy was read annually, and its history was part of the curriculum. In any case, calling “Infamous Germanos P. Strenopoulos? It was after his repose in 1920 that ecumenistic statements were made. “Archimandrite Vasileios Stephanides”? He was a deacon then, from Athens, to which he returned and had probably not yet studied abroad. The last two names are not archimandrites, but laymen; Mr. Deretich is mixing his time periods and facts.

After the 1920’s, with the destruction of Asia Minor and its schools, and finally the closure of Halki in 1956, Patriarchal students were forced to study abroad. In any case, the decisions of Halki’s faculty, the Ecumenical Patriarchal Synod’s decree of 1912 by the saintly Patriarch Joachim, and the confirmation in 1913, by Patriarch Germanos are faultlessly Orthodox and in conformity with Patristic Theology, which is why the Russian Synod quoted them in accepting it as the official Theological statement for their decision, and then dealt with the practical portion. All the Orthodox have accepted them.

In the last paragraph, Mr. Deretich returns to the first position, “the name of God is God Himself”, as if all the intervening verbiage had proved it. We see that St. John of Kronstadt, understood it in the Orthodox way: “God is everywhere present” and in the manner in which the Seventh Ecumenical Council determined. The names are worshipped but not to be deified. The name cannot be God Himself. The Church has dogmatized for 3000 years, that no name is God Himself.

Another statement in a previous “summary” paragraph: “The Orthodox Church does teach that God fills and dwells in his created names”. We challenge this statement as entirely false; present us with a reference. It will not be found, neither in an official council nor in any of the Saints of the Church. The next statement is inarguably acceptable “God is present everywhere and fills all created things”. But then the statement which violates the former, as we explained earlier on, “God ‘dwells’ especially in sacred, created things”; then Mr. Deretich proceeds to return to all the errors of the name-worshippers: “the name can sometimes have a meaning different from ‘mere created names”, “the uncreated power of God (which is sometimes called the [uncreated] name of God” (where? No where!) and so on and so forth. An incoherent spate of unsupported claims, and unconnected thoughts foreign to the theology of St. Gregory Palamas and all the great Fathers whom we faithfully follow.

Perhaps it is unfair to cast all the opprobrium of false teaching upon Mr. Deretich. He is apparently a spokesman – since he is an employee of HOCNA – for Gregory Babunashvili of HOCNA. He (Gregory Babunashvili) is a faithful disciple of Gregory Lourie, repeating his exact words. I have been told by many who have heard him preach his doctrines, that when someone presents facts or doctrines of the Church’s saints which refute his teachings, so that he cannot answer, he then resorts to shouted denials. For this reason most of the Clergy and people deserted HOCNA, people of the theological knowledge and stature as: Frs. Michael Azkoul, John Fleser, Christos Constantinou, Christos Patitsas and Andrew Snogren. It is evident that Gregory Babunashvili is ignorant of the doctrines of the Church’s saints, even of St. Gregory Palamas, whom he claimed he understood. Furthermore, he makes definite affirmations of facts and references, which upon investigation, are revealed to be false or non-existent. As someone said, “I wouldn’t accept anything he said, even if pearls and diamonds fell from his lips”. His writings also corroborate his ignorance of the fundamentals of the Church’s theology.

Returning to Mr. Deretich’s “In summary” paragraph, third before the end, he states, “The Orthodox Church does teach that God fills and dwells in his created names”. [a ‘teaching’ found nowhere, except in Anthony Bulatovich]… God is everywhere present and fills all created things. And God “dwells” especially in sacred, created things: in the saints, angels, relics, the Cross, icons…” etc. He repeats further on the word “dwells”, with quotation marks and without quotation marks. He states: “God’s power sometimes works miracles through created holy icons”. He is obviously attempting to return to the phrase “the name of God is God Himself”, the keystone of name-worshipping. The Orthodox Church recognizes God’s presence everywhere and in everything, as we have stated. Here, Mr. Deretich is attempting to make a special kind of presence with the word “dwells” or “fills”, although he repeats the Church’s teaching of God’s omnipresence, Who fills all things. What is he implying by these words and their repetition? By his return to the formula “the name of God is God Himself”, this intimates more than the usual divine omnipresence. If he is implying an “incarnation” of God, he would be condemned and anathematized by the Third and Fourth Ecumenical Councils. Various words are used by the Church for the presence of God in the Church: ‘overshadowing’, ‘presence’, ‘attached’, ‘abiding’, ‘to come upon’, ‘be present’, ‘sense’, ‘nearness’, ‘means’, but usually in a temporary or passing sense. This insistence on “dwells” and “fills” are words also used by many in the Church, but taken in conjunction with Deretich’s other statements, he is implying something more, but dares not say “incarnation”. It reminds one of the Hindu doctrine of Avatars. Rama and Krishna were avatars of Vishnu, in ancient Brahmanism. Throughout India, in the temples of Hanu-man, the mobs of monkeys scrambling about there, are his avatars, ‘God Himself’ as you would be told.

St. John Kronstadt avoids that trap because he obeyed the Church’s doctrine expressed in the Seventh Ecumenical Council. We can approach an Icon of Christ and pray before it, and Christ God can work miracles; for He is present since He is everywhere. But it is our volition, our will, which reaches Him through the created Icon, but the Icon is not deified, it is not God Himself, as the Seventh Ecumenical Council has dogmatized. Any other doctrine or Hindic avatar teaching is anathematized.

I repeat: No Father has ever said that the name of God is an energy of God. Nowhere does the Church teach of an uncreated name of God.

Names are created by man, and do not pertain to God. “…by the gift of God, it pertains to men alone both to make the invisible thought of the intellect audible by uniting it with the air and to write it down so that it may be seen with and through the body. God thus leads us to a steadfast faith in the abiding presence and manifestation of the supreme Logos in the flesh”. (#63 from the 150 Chapters of St. Gregory Palamas, in the Philokalia, vol. 4). Here the unique Incarnation of the Son of God is affirmed, where the hypostasis of the Word took upon Himself the human nature from the Ever-virgin Mary. There is one hypostasis with two natures, divine and human, inseparably united, undivided yet not confused, two separate and different natures in the one Person of the Word of God, perfect God and perfect man. This is proclaimed by the Third and Fourth Ecumenical Councils.

“There is no intermediate nature between the created and uncreated, neither is there any such operation (energy). Therefore, if it is created, it will show only a created nature, if it is uncreated, it will indicate an uncreated substance only. The natural properties must correspond with the nature absolutely, since the existence of a defective nature is impossible. The natural operations, moreover, does not come from anything outside the nature, and it is obvious that the nature can neither exist nor be known without its natural operation. For by remaining invariable, each thing gives of its own nature”. St. John Damascus Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith, III, 15.

St. John of Damascus explains: “The Deity being incomprehensible is also assuredly nameless. Therefore since we know not His essence, let us not seek for a name for His essence. For names are explanations of actual things. But God, Who is good and brought us out of nothing into being that we might share in His goodness, and Who gave us the faculty of knowledge, not only did not impart to us His essence, but did not even grant us the knowledge of His essence. For it is impossible for nature to understand fully the super-natural. Moreover, if knowledge is of things that are, how can there be knowledge of the super-essential? Through His unspeakable goodness, then, it pleased Him to be called by names that we could understand, that we might not be altogether cut off from the knowledge of Him but should have some notion of Him, however vague. Inasmuch, then, as He is incomprehensible, He is also unnameable. But inasmuch as He is the cause of all and contains in Himself the reasons and causes of all that is, He receives names drawn from all that is, even from opposites: for example, He is called light and darkness, water and fire: in order that we may know that these are not of His essence but that He is super-essential and unnameable: but inasmuch as He is the cause of all, He receives names from all His effects”. St. John Damascus Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith, I, 12.

There is no mixture or fusing of created and uncreated. Names are created, as the precious quotation from St. Gregory Palamas stated, who collated and summarized the Patristic teachings. An uncreated name is impossible according to St. John, as quoted, and to all the Fathers. There is no such thing as an uncreated name, as St. John Damascus says above.

“We apply all the names of these attributes to the supra-essential Being that is absolutely nameless”. St. Cyril, Treasuries, PG 14, 240A.

The fathers talk about three levels of prayer (St. Theophan the Recluse. What is Prayer). Oral, mental and spiritual. When one reaches spiritual prayer, the invocation of the name of God ceases. This is what St. Isaac the Syrian means by, “silence is the mystery of the age to come.” (St. Isaac the Syrian. Ascetical Homilies. Holy Transfiguration Monastery. Brookline, MA. (1984) Homily 65, p. 321).

The attributes are the energies of God, the things that pertain to God. We give the names, as is obvious from the above, and the name is not the energy, as is also obvious, for it is God and therefore nameless.

I prefer to follow the Third, Fourth and Seventh Ecumenical Councils, and all the Holy Fathers before and after. I will follow the Councils of 1912 and 1913, which are vilified by your Bulatovich, Gregory Lourie and Gregory Babunashvili, yet believed in by scores of saints and wise and holy men and of martyrs from then till now, whom you slander. I will follow the Apostle Peter who declares: “No prophecy of the Scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit”. (2 Peter, 1:20-21).

Saturday, May 25, 2013

HOCNA, the Name-Worshipping Heresy and the Synod of Archbishop Makarios of Athens

Sister Churches in More Ways Than One
by Fr. Panagiotes Carras

In 1995, a rebellious faction of six bishops formed within the synod of the Genuine Orthodox Christians of Greece, under Archbishop Chrysostomos and separated itself over what they claimed to be canonical infractions. These false charges were brought forth in order to avoid the impending trial of Metropolitan Euthymios (Orphanos) of Thessaloniki, who had been charged with moral infractions. The other charge had to do with the election of the notorious Bishop Vikentios (Malamatenios) of Avlona (fornerly of Astoria, N. Y.) as Metropolitan of Piraeus.
 
The six Hierarchs who left were Ephthimios, of Thessaloniki, Kallinikos of Lamia, Stefanos of Chios, Ioustinos of Evripos, Vikentios of Avlona and Paisios of America. The group was headed by Metropolitan Kallinikos of Lamia and was commonly known as the Lamian Synod.
 
The six hierarchs were defrocked on July 12/25, 1995 because of their schism from the Holy Synod. Euthimios of Thessaloniki was found guilty of immoral acts on 13/26 July, 1995 and was ordered to be confined to the Monastery of St. Iakovos, the Brother of the Lord and not to receive Holy Communion for 15 years.
 
By early 1996, the movement had fragmented into three groups. The first group, Stefanos of Chios and Ioustinos of Evripos, repented their schismatic actions and were reconciled with the Holy Synod of Archbishop Chrysostomos. The second group, Paisios of America and Vikentios of Avlona, renounced the Faith and submitted to the Ecumenical Patiarchate. Later they became fugitives from American justice. The third group was made up of Euthimios, of Thessaloniki, and Kallinikos of Lamia.
 
Iin 1996, Kallinikos of Lamia and Euthymios of Thessaloniki proceeded to ordain five titular bishops in an attempt to create a new synod. In 2004, this synod finally decided to elect a primate, and elected Makarios (Kavakides) of Athens. A good deal of their membership was then lost, as many realized what really motivated the schism and returned to the Holy Synod of the Genuine Orthodox Christians of Greece.
 
In 2007 the Lamian Synod ordained Archimandrite Nectarios (Yashunsky) from St. Petersburg as Bishop of Olympus. He served as the administrator of two parishes in Russia. When these two parishes collapsed Bishop Nektarios returned to Greece. Bishop Nektarios, as an Archimandrite, introduced the Lamians to the Name-Worshipping Heresy. His article in defence of Name-Worshipping in Greek, A Brief Explanation of Onomatodoxy, can be found on HOCNA's web site that is dedicated to the heresy of Name-Worship. The other Greek article in defense of this heresy, The Name of God as A Sign Spoken Against appears to be written by Archbishop Makarios. Neither of these two articles appear on any of the Lamian sites and at least two Lamian hierarchs and many of their clergy and laity are opposed to the teachings of these heretics. Nectarios Yashunsky's article can also be found on Gregory Lourie's site which also includes an icon of the heretic, Anthony Bulatovich, founder of the Name-Worshippers.
 
Archbishop Makarios has also deviated from the Faith by allying himself with the renovationist, New-Calendar Archimandrite, Fr. Nektarios Moulatsiotis. Moulatsiotis became world famous in 2002 when he founded the Freemonks. This was a rock band named Paparokades. By 2005 the monks abandoned Moulatsiotis and monasticism.

Moulatsiotis' dedication to the struggle against Digital Identity Cards then became focused on organizing demonstrations against Digital Identity Cards. He was joined by Archbishop Makarios in this endeavour. At one of Moulatsiotis' demonstrations, Archbishop Makarios proclaimed, "Let us be united in one fist, New-Calendarists and Old-Calendarists...today we will not ask if you are with the new or old calendar but rather if you are with Christ."  Archbishop Makarios also joined Moulatsiotis in rallies sponsored by the political group ELKIS.
 
Many of Archbishop Makarios' unilateral activities [in relation to HOCNA] are not approved of by the other hierarchs, clergy and lay people of the Lamian Synod. The so-called STATEMENT OF EUCHARISTIC COMMUNION has been hidden from those in Greece. Clergy and people in Greece realize that the term Eucharistic Communion is another way of saying Eucharistic Hospitality. This heresy was expounded by HOCNA when they justified giving Holy Communion to the Name-Worshipper, Gregory Lourie. This heresy was expressed with the words: desire to foster the oneness that must exist among all Orthodox Christians in the Holy Body and Blood of our Saviour.
 
HOCNA and the Lamians are truly sister churches in more ways than one.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Why the Russian Synod of 1913 Was Not Heretical

By Fr. Maximos Marretta of Holy Ascension Monastery
 
The contemporary revivers of the heresy of Nameworshipping have won great notoriety for themselves by rejecting the holy council of Constantinople held in 1913 and the holy Russian council of the same year. The main reason the heretics reject these councils is that the councils condemn the idea that the name of God is an energy of God, which is the central tenet of the heresy of Nameworshipping.
 
However, the Nameworshippers (who euphemistically call themselves “Nameglorifiers”) also consider the Russian council of 1913 to be heretical since it stated a distinction between the words “God” and “divinity.” Specifically, in their letter of August 29, 2012 to the Orthodox clergy of the Cathedral of St. Mark in Boston, MA, the Nameworshipping bishops denounce four phrases in the 1913 decision of the Russian Synod, alleging that they are novel and unorthodox because they distinguish between God and divinity. The Nameworshippers consider these terms to be absolutely synonymous and that any distinction between the two constitutes a heresy.
 
This insistence on the part of the Nameworshippers that the words “God” and “divinity” are completely identical is ridiculous in the extreme, as anyone who has access to a dictionary should easily understand. In fact, almost no two words are exact synonyms. Words have a variety of different meanings and may be close synonyms in one sense but not in another. Using them, we sift out all the possible meanings to find the one that seems to fit best the context we have in mind. In accordance with this general principle, we find that the Holy Fathers themselves employ words in various senses. Only in restricted circumstances (usually polemics or formal doctrinal definitions) do they confine a word to a single, technical meaning.

If we review how the Fathers use the word “God,” we find that it is most commonly employed to denote the divine essence or one or all of the divine hypostases, and less frequently the divine energies. As for the word “divinity,” this is most commonly used to denote the divine essence, less frequently a single hypostasis, and still less frequently the divine energies. Collectively, the energies of God are called in most cases simply “energies” or “divine energies.” Individually, they are called by their various distinctive titles: foreknowledge, creative power, and so forth. The usage we characterize here as “typical” prevails particularly with respect to the first two points, especially among the earlier Fathers of the Church, the Fathers with whom the Russian members of the 1913 council were most familiar.1

When we turn to the works of St. Gregory Palamas, a somewhat different terminological balance is evident, a result of theological developments of his day. Saint Gregory employs the term “divinity” for the divine energies with some frequency. Very rarely, he even uses the term “God” for the same. Because of the relative frequency of St. Gregory’s use of the word “divinity” for the divine energies, the Russian Council Fathers were well aware of it. Seeking to follow St. Gregory in all things, they themselves made use of this terminology, even while noting that he “employs the word ‘divinity’ in a somewhat broader sense than is common” – that is, than those Fathers with whom the Russians were familiar. The Russian Fathers do not, however, use the word “God” for the divine energies, and even assert that St. Gregory “nowhere call the energies God, but teaches to call them divinity.”

This statement is the basis for the Nameworshippers’ first charge against the holy Council, which they condemn for theological deviation in this matter. The charge is blatantly intended to discredit the council’s entire work. But in reality, there is no theological deviation here – we have already seen the Russians’ eagerness to use St. Gregory’s term “divinity” for the divine energies. There is only an historical error. And the explanation for it is a very simple, mundane one.

Prior to the Russian Revolution, not all of St. Gregory Palamas’ writings had been translated into Russian. Hence the Council Fathers were unaware that St. Gregory occasionally did use the word “God” for the divine energies. Nevertheless, there is no reason whatsoever to suppose that if the Russian Fathers had been familiar with this rare usage, they would have rejected it. By their willingness to employ the term “divinity” for the divine energies, the Council fathers clearly demonstrated both their fidelity to St. Gregory’s thought and their belief that the energies were in fact divine in the full sense of the word. “Divinity,” in the Fathers the Russians knew best, means this, precisely.

The Russians’ mistake is obviously one which any honest and good-willed person should be able to understand. That the Nameworshippers should attempt to exploit it is disingenuous: misleading, fraudulent, and shameless; a cover for their own perverse teaching.

In their first charge against the Russian Council, the Nameworshippers pretend that any distinction between the words “divinity” and “God” turns the Divinity into a creature. Yet from what has been said, it is obvious that this assertion is irrelevant with respect to the Russian Council of 1913, since the Council Fathers’ preference for the term “divinity” in respect to God’s energies is to be explained solely by historical circumstance (i.e., the unavailability of certain of St. Gregory’s writings) and fidelity to what the Russian Fathers did know of St. Gregory’s vocabulary, rather than by any theological deviation.

Nevertheless, it is important to note that St. Gregory Palamas not only uses the term “divinity” for the divine energies far more frequently than the term “God”: he at times explicitly and specifically contrasts “essence” and “energies” by equating the first with “God” and the second with “divinity.” For example, in Pro Hesychastis 3.2.10, he writes:
With common voice all the Holy Fathers teach that it is impossible to discover a name that manifests the divine nature; rather, the names manifest the energies. For even the term “divinity” manifests the energies, denoting ‘to view,’ ‘to be seen,’ ‘to flash,’ or ‘to self-deify.’ But the essence of God which is beyond all names transcends this energy, inasmuch as to act thus belongs to that which is activated and being beyond name belongs to that which is named in this manner. This does not hinder us from adoring one God and one divinity, in the same way that the fact that we call a ray of light ‘sun’ does not prevent us from thinking of one sun and one light.
Here the saint is comparing God’s essence to the sun and energy to its light. Even while implying that “God” may refer in some cases to energy, he uses “God” to refer to the essence and “divinity” to refer to the energies. Again, in 2.3.8 of the same work he writes, “The monks know that the essence of God transcends the fact of being inaccessible to the senses, since God is not only above all created things, but even beyond divinity…” Here, St. Gregory again refers to the essence as “God,” while referring to the energies as “divinity.” Since St. Gregory himself makes the distinction and applies the words to the realities in this way, the Nameworshippers should be more than willing to allow the Russian Fathers this distinction and terminology. They should desist from pretending that to make a distinction between “God” and “divinity” reduces the divine energies to a creature, and admit that their criticism is altogether baseless.

To summarize the above: the several realities in God (essence, hypostasis, and energy) are described both in common speech and Patristic vocabulary by various terms, sometimes interchangeable, sometimes overlapping, sometimes employed in one manner, sometimes in another, depending upon need and context. The honest and devout person considers the sense of a word’s use, and allows the word to express the distinctions indicated by the user, rather than to posit artificial and false contradictions. Especially, he does not, on the basis of such sophistry, condemn the holy councils of the Church of Christ – councils accepted by the entire Orthodox Church for over a hundred years. To persist in this condemnation is expressive only of theological ignorance and arrogance and a mania to propagate heresy.

Next the Nameworshippers move on to another phrase in the Synodal Decision, in which the Russian Fathers of 1913 state that we cannot say that Christ revealed “His God” on Tabor but must say that He revealed “His divinity.” The truth of this statement ought to be obvious to any Orthodox Christian. Moreover, any schoolboy would be able to correct the Nameworshippers’ lack of knowledge of basic grammar, in that the genitive personal pronoun “his” is normatively understood as a genitive of possession. When modifying “divinity,” we correctly understand “his” to refer to Christ revealing an Attribute-Energy which He possesses. When modifying “God,” “his” denotes a relationship of inferior to superior, of Christ revealing His own God, some God superior to Him. This is subordinationism or adoptionism, both of which are heresies. Since the phrase “His God” entails heresy while “His divinity” does not, there is a very significant difference between the two. Hence the distinction the Russian Fathers make is valid and most Orthodox.

Finally, the Russian Fathers state that the word “God” indicates personhood, while “divinity” indicates attribute, quality, or nature. The Nameworshippers object to this Orthodox statement and claim that it introduces an inadmissible concept of personality in God, which allegedly would contradict the Orthodox understanding of one God in Three Persons. In fact, however, the Russian Fathers are correct and the Nameworshippers are wrong. This is due to the nature of the word “divinity,” which is an abstract noun formed from the word “God.” Rather than emphasize the personal nature of God, it emphasizes His qualities, which may be considered in the abstract.

We use masculine personal pronouns to refer to God, but we do not use them to refer to divinity or to any of the energies of God; i.e., we refer to God as “He,” but we call God’s will (considered in and of itself) not “He” but “it.” Again, it is important to remember that the term “God” can be used to refer to each of the Divine Hypostases individually as well as to the Trinity as a whole. The Russian Fathers were not at all constructing a new concept of a “personality of God,” but were simply pointing out that God is in fact personal in nature; i.e., that the three Persons of the Holy Trinity are the One God.

In conclusion, it is clear that the Russian Fathers of 1913 were not guilty of espousing Barlaamism or any other Latin heresy, but rather were zealous to expose and correct the pernicious heresy, Nameworshipping, which confronted them. While they did make an historical mistake in reference to the writings of St. Gregory Palamas, they did so out of ignorance and not out of a desire to contradict the saint, whose work they were zealous to uphold and establish. The Russian Fathers were true successors to St. Gregory and the hesychasts (whom they highly laud), and they point out that it is the Nameworshippers who are actually the Barlaamites, because they confuse the created with the uncreated, that is, a created name with the divine energies.

Ultimately, it is on the basis of one questionable explanatory passage that the modern Nameworshippers reject the whole decision of the Russian Church. So intent are they on demonizing the holy council that they completely deny the distinction made by St. Gregory Palamas himself between “God” and “divinity.” Thus, it becomes evident that the modern Nameworshippers have read St. Gregory less, and with far less understanding, than did the Russians one hundred years ago.

Moreover, it is clear that the Nameworshippers reject not simply a single mistaken passage, but rather the entire force and intent of the council. For if they rejected only the one mistake but accepted the decisions and declarations, they would be able to clear themselves of the charge of heresy by saying, “We accept the Russian Council of 1913 against the blasphemous Nameworshippers, but point out that St. Gregory Palamas did in fact call the divine energies God Himself.” Then there would be no problem.

But the Nameworshipping bishops obstinately refuse to make such a statement. Why? Because they themselves are indeed Nameworshippers and support Bulatovich and the deluded monks of Mount Athos, against whom the council was directed! Manifestly, their objections to the Russian Council of 1913 are based on their own adherence to heresy. The mistake made by the Russian Council of 1913 is nothing more than a convenient excuse to avoid accepting its condemnation of the very real heresy which they themselves espouse.

May we the Orthodox avoid espousing any heresy, especially the pantheistic nightmare of the Nameworshippers, but rather follow piously in the footsteps of St. Gregory Palamas and the Russian Fathers who condemned and banned from the Church every blasphemy against the sweet name of our Savior Christ!

1 See, for example, 1.12 in St. John of Damascus’s Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith, a work that was very popular in pre-revolutionary Russia.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

On the Economist articles


Several weeks ago, a British news magazine, The Economist, published two articles sympathetic to name-worshipping, and soon afterward, the links were being triumphantly circulated by members of the Holy Orthodox Church in North America.

Since the articles were not signed, it is hard to know what background the author has in Orthodox theology and history, and what makes him or her qualified to render an opinion on the thorny issue of name-worshipping.

Still, one can imagine that if Metropolitan Ephraim of Boston published an article about world economics in the True Vine, not many people would take him seriously.  So why should Orthodox Christians pay serious attention to an article about a theological dispute written by a secular writer and published in a secular publication?

They shouldn't.

Instead, they should be asking their friends in HOCNA some questions.

How did the anonymous author come to be writing about name-worshipping?  Could he or she be connected to HOCNA's Bishop Gregory of Brookline, who went to university in England?

Why is it that the only living people named in the article are supporters of name-worshipping?  Why did the author not seek out critics of name-worshipping and present a balanced picture of the Orthodox view of the situation?  After all, only two so-called Orthodox groups in the world recognize name-worshipping as a legitimate teaching: HOCNA and the Russian and Ukrainian group affiliated with the so-called Bishops Gregory Lourie and Job Konovaliuk.  The rest of the Orthodox world regards these tiny groups as heretical sects.

The main article, "In the name of the Name," published Dec. 22, 2012, is written from a secular perspective.  Take this line from the fourth paragraph: "But it is Athos's history, as well as its spiritual importance, that attracts visitors: these calm waters have seen some strange disturbances."  In other words, tourists are cruising the waters off of Mt. Athos not because the mountain has been a spiritual center for many hundreds of years, but because they are intrigued by name-worshipping and other controversies that have plagued the Holy Mountain.  Really?!!

The author goes on to describe the Russian presence on Mt. Athos in the early twentieth century: "What the Russians lacked in political power, they made up for in numbers and spiritual passion, exemplified by Ilarion's book. ...In a tender, cautious tone, the book argues that just as 'in God's name, God himself is present,' the name of Jesus Christ, when recited prayerfully, radiates sanctity; it is more, infinitely more, than a set of letters."  This is a series of arguments, not facts.  Argument one, that the Russians monastics on Athos were full of spiritual passion.  This assertion is just thrown out authoritatively, with no supporting evidence.  Two, that Fr. Ilarion's book, "In the Mountains of the Caucausus," exemplified this passion.  Again, no supporting evidence.  Three, that the book (which the author gives the impression of having read cover to cover) is tender and cautious, a sympathetic description to be sure.  One might be forgiven for suspecting it came straight from a champion of name-worshipping, such as Bishop Gregory of Brookline.

The author characterizes Fr. Ilarion as having hit on a fundamental dilemma of monotheism: are words, images or phenomena pertaining to God an aspect of the Creator or a part of creation.  Here again the author seems to draw his argument from a champion of name-worshipping.   The author describes how the Russian community on Mt. Athos was polarized by Fr. Ilarion's book, and how its supporters felt victimized by its critics.  The author is not interested, however, in how the monks who opposed name-worshipping felt about the heretical movement that was taking hold of their monastery.

The chief proponent of name-worshipping, Fr. Anthony Bulatovich, is presented in a similarly one-sided manner.  The author relates that Bulatovich sat down to write a critique of name-worshipping and felt possessed by an emptiness, coldness and darkness.  Bulatovich interpreted this as God's grace withdrawing from him because he opposed the truth of the name-worshipping, so he wrote a treatise defending it instead.  Anyone with any knowledge of Orthodox teaching would question Bulatovich's conclusion.  Emptiness, coldness and darkness suggest the presence of demons.  Why not raise the more spiritually plausible argument that Bulatovich was led astray by these demons and his reliance on his own intellect, and fell into heresy?

Likewise, when the author asserts, "Bulatovich could still use his fists as well as his pen," and describes how Bulatovich led the forceful eviction of the anti-name-worshipping abbot from St. Andrew's Skete, he seems blind to the absolute contradiction between Bulatovich's behavior and his monastic vows.

And when he asserts, "Whatever the merits of theology by water-cannon, the literature of the glorifiers often reads better than the propaganda of their foes, who caricature the glorifiers' views to make them sound like crude pagans," he not only gives the impression that he has read all the literature on both sides, but writes off the entire opposition of the Russian and Greek Orthodox Churches as propaganda without so much as a supporting quote.  What kind of journalism is this?

In winding up his sympathy piece, the author refers to the nun Kassia as a learned nun in St. Petersburg attached to a dissident wing of the Orthodox Church. Mother Kassia is one of Lourie's closest disciples, and the "dissident wing" is his sect, isolated in the Orthodox world except for its friendship with HOCNA.  The author also refers to Metropolitan Hilarion of the Moscow Patriarchate, who argues that the name-worshipping question was never resolved by the Russian Orthodox Church.  Funny, he also mentions that Hilarion was trained at Oxford.  A strange place for an Orthodox theologian to learn about his faith, but certainly a place whose name carries weight among secular readers.

The author concludes that in all faiths, there is a tension between visionaries and prophets on the one hand (read: like Fr. Ilarion and Bulatovich) and hierarchs and administrators on the other hand (read: Metropolitan Anthony and the Russian synod), and that mysticism is a power-to-the-people movement that authorities naturally resist in order to retain their own power.  It's a cynical view.  From an Orthodox perspective, the opposite is likely to be true: having recognized name-worshipping as alien to Orthodox teaching, the leaders of the Russian Orthodox Church did their best to stamp out the heresy because they were answerable to God for the wellbeing of their flock.

The second article, "How the name-glorifier's influence rippled through intellectual history," is a short sidebar to the first.  It recounts how two scholars consider that the Russian mathematician Nikolai Luzin and his friend Fr. Pavel Florensky were able to make intellectual breakthroughs in the study of infinity precisely because of their name-worshipping views.  The author - again, unnamed -- notes that Luzin, who was tried for treason under the Soviets but escaped execution, was rehabilitated posthumously by the Russian Academy of Sciences in 2012.  He concludes, "Perhaps the monks who inspired him will have a similar vindication."  Is this journalism?  Or wishful thinking?

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Chronology: Document 8

Metropolitan Ephraim’s emailed file, “Excursus”


From: Holy Nativity Convent
Date: September 3, 2012 11:41:00 AM EDT
To: us HNC
Subject: From Metropolitan Ephraim

Excursus.pdf   LetterMetNNENG.pdf
Respected Fathers,

Evlogeite! Metropolitan Ephraim has asked that we send these letters to you all...

THE PAPER TITLED “EXCURSUS”:
A Historical Note

It has been stated many times that the Name-glorifiers have been condemned twice, in 1913 and in 1919. What is not being mentioned, however, is that these decisions have been contested and overruled five times.

1. In April 1914, eight months after the condemnation of the Name-glorifiers by the Holy Synod [1], this decision was overturned by Holy Tsar Nicholas II:

From the letter of Holy Tsar-Martyr Nicholas to the Overseer of the Holy Synod,
Pascha, 15 of April 1914
 
“On this Feast of Feasts, when the hearts of the faithful strive with love to God and to neighbour, my soul is grieved about the Athonite monastics, who have been deprived of the joy of communing the Holy Mysteries and of the consolation of attending the Church [services]. Let us forget the quarrel: it is not for us to judge about the Greatest of Holies – the Name of God, and by doing so to incur the wrath of the Lord on the Motherland; the trial must be cancelled, all monastics must be settled in different monasteries, they must receive back [following the example of metropolitan Flavian] their monastic habit and they should be allowed to celebrate.”
 
2. Soon after, the Synod itself changed the required “renunciation of the error” by the Name-glorifiers, by a simple veneration of the Cross and the Gospel in order to be reestablished into the Communion of the Church.

3. The Synod also commissioned the Moscow Synodal Office to make a detailed investigation of the whole matter. The latter, after a thorough investigation of the beliefs of the accused, made the following finding:
“They (the Athonite monastics) explain, that “by calling the Name of God and the Name of Jesus - God and God Himself, they do not venerate the Name of God as His Essence, nor do they venerate the Name of God separately from God Himself, as some kind of different deity, nor do they deify the very letters and sounds or accidental thoughts about God’. This state-ment concerning the veneration of the Name of God was included in his “Confession of Faith in God and in the Name of God” on behalf of himself and of hieromonk Barachias and monk Mannasses, by hieromonk Anthony (Bulatovich)”

And that:
“In this (statement) there is enough information to conclude that, there is no reason for them (monastics) to be severed from the Orthodox Church because of the teaching concerning the Names of God.”
 
And concluded:
“The Moscow Synodal Office resolved … to stop the ecclesiastical trial against them.”
 

This document was signed by Metropolitan Macarius Nevsky, a person revered for his sanctity even in his lifetime, as well as by Bishop Anastasy of Serpukhov, the future Metropolitan of ROCOR.

4. Acting upon these findings, the Holy Synod stopped the ecclesiastical trial against these fathers. They were allowed to participate in the Mysteries and those of priestly rank were allowed to serve. Many of them served as chaplains in WWI. The Synod, however, handed to these fathers a tampered version of the document, which did not include the last paragraph, wherein they were still called heretics and where the chief signatory of the document, Archbishop Sergius of Finland (the future false-patriarch Sergius), had added a comment “with no permission to receive Holy Mysteries” (!). This fact was kept from the fathers for over four years. The Synod had simply lied.

After the convocation of the All-Russian Church Council in 1917, there were high hopes, that the controversy would be would be conclusively resolved there. A special Commission was appointed to make a thorough theological inquiry into the Orthodox veneration of the Name of God. However, the Council had to stop its proceedings due to the turmoil of the Russian Civil War, and the issue was, yet again, left unresolved.

5. In 1919, the Synod, disregarding the findings of the Moscow Synodal Office of May 1914 and its own endorsement of the latter’s conclusions, went back to its original position of August 1913, and again condemned the Name-glorifiers. This condemnation, however, was reversed in February 1921 by the Encyclical of Patriarch Tikhon. The very same year, as a sign of reconciliation, St. Tikhon liturgized on several occasions with Archimandrite David (Mukhranov), the leading Name-glorifier and the former abbot of St. Andrew’s Skete on Mount Athos.

After the infamous Declaration of Metropolitan Sergius, the Name-glorifiers became one of the founders and active members of the Catacomb Church of Russia, especially in Petrograd, where, under New Hiero-Martyr Mark of Sergeev-Posad (Novoselov), they made up the backbone of the Josephite Catacomb Church.


1    One must understand that the “Holy Synod” in the Russian Empire was instituted by Peter the Great, and was a body of 11 bishops hand-picked by the Tsar and overseen by a procurator, who was a lay person, and in some cases, not even an Orthodox Christian, but a Lutheran. Thus, the Synod in the Russian Empire was not a Council of Bishops, but rather something akin to the Department of Religious Affairs of the State. A proper Council of Bishops had not been convened in the Russian Empire for over 200 years.