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

Showing posts with label Imyaslavie. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Imyaslavie. Show all posts

Friday, October 26, 2012

Dear Anastasia, On Your Letter from Fr. Mark

Dear Anastasia,

Since Fr. Mark’s letter to you has been used to defend the Holy Orthodox Church in North America against charges of heresy, I think it is fair to point out that he is mistaken.

Fr. Mark answered you sincerely, but his answer has a flaw which he himself does not recognize. All of his evidence and reasoning is an echo of what his bishops have said publicly. Clearly, he trusts his bishops and believes that they must have the correct answer. This is where he is mistaken. He received disinformation from his bishops, and he is naively passing that disinformation along to you.

The three bishops of the Holy Orthodox Church in North America wrote in their recent statement, “Divergent Teachings” that Orthodox Christians believe “God’s Name is not His Essence, but rather is the revealed truth about Himself, that is, His Uncreated Energy, His Uncreated Grace, His Providence, His Glory.”

In fact, this is not what Orthodox Christians believe. Remember, as Orthodox Christians we believe what the Church has taught always and everywhere.  Common sense alone should tell you that if this were a universally held belief about the Name of God, articulated by St. Gregory Palamas, it would not have languished misunderstood and forgotten until the early 1900s, when a couple of renegade Russian monks rediscovered it and brought it to the attention of the Orthodox Christian world through insurrections in the Russian monasteries on Mt. Athos.  Right?  Now let's look at the disinformation.

Fr. Mark writes:
In my first letter to you, I hoped to illustrate that there is an abundance of passages from the Scriptures and the Fathers that talk about the glory and power of the Name of God. It is interesting to me that so many ignore this and, instead, zero-in on the decisions of a local "synod" in Russia. Why? Why do they ignore the Holy Scriptures which speak of God's Name? Why do they ignore the many instances in the Liturgy and services of the Church which encourage us to glorify God's Name? Why is the Russian "synod" of 1913 so important?
Part of the problem in debunking the name-worshipping doctrine is that its promoters do not clearly define what they mean by the “Name of God” and do not take into account that the Holy Scriptures use this phrase differently.

Very often in the Psalms, for instance, “the Name of God” refers to God Himself, and not to any particular name for Him. By analogy, think of a chase scene in a western movie, when the sheriff shouts, “Stop in the name of the law!” Who would imagine that the sheriff is referring to a particular name, or even to the word “law?” No, his words actually mean, “Stop because the law (in the person of me) orders you to do so.” Likewise, when we read, “Praise the name of the Lord, for exalted is the name of Him alone,” isn’t it clear that it is actually not a name that is praised, but the Lord Himself?

Orthodox Christians believe that God’s name is holy, because He Who is named by the name is supremely holy. According to St Basil the Great, “The name of God is said to be holy, not because it contains in it any special virtue, but because in whatsoever way we contemplate God, we see Him pure and Holy.” (On Psalm 32) Icons of our Saviour are also considered to be holy, not because the wood and paint are intrinsically holy, but because He Who is depicted is holy. As Fr. Barsanuphius has pointed out, the Name of God is an icon in a word.

Orthodox Christians do not believe that God’s name is God Himself, either in His Essence or in His Energies. Name-worshippers do.  The reason the decisions of the Russian Synod of 1913 are so important, along with the decisions of the Sacred Community of Mt. Athos, and of Patriarchs Joachim and Germanus of Constantinople, is because they were the official statements of the Orthodox Church condemning the heresy of name-worshipping.

 Fr. Mark writes further:
St Anthony Khrapovitsky said of these Russian "synods" in 1912: Our Church [in Russia] is governed by a layman, or, to say it officially, by a collegial institution never seen by the Church of Christ before... The [Russian] Church is deprived of its lawful head and is given over for enslavement to lay officials, which hide behind an assembly of six or seven hierarchs who are changed every half a year, and two presbyters. Who is not aware that such an institution is uncanonical? That it was not approved at its very inception by two Patriarchs; and even if it had been approved by all four, this would only show the unlawful deed of the Patriarchs and not the canonicity of [Russian] synodal rule, because no Patriarch can establish and authorize an institution which is unknown to Holy Orthodoxy and which was invented only to bring weakness and decay..."

(Metropolitan Anthony Khrapovitsky, Voice of the Church, Jan 1912).
Metropolitan Anthony, of blessed memory (he has not been glorified as a saint), rightly complained that Tsar Peter “the Great” was wrong to replace the patriarchal system of church governance with a synodal one, in which the synod was appointed and supervised by government officials. However, while this quote is intended to suggest that Metropolitan Anthony did not support the work of the Russian synod, the opposite is true. Metropolitan Anthony not only accepted the work of the synod, but participated in the synod for five years.  He was an active member at the time he wrote the above-quoted article and when he participated in the condemnation of the name-worshipping heresy. Like all the saints, tsars, bishops, monastics, clergy and laity of the Russian Church for the 200 years the synodal system was in force, Metropolitan Anthony abided by its decisions and considered them binding on the Church in Russia.

Fr. Mark continues,
The decisions of the 1913 synod condemning Name-worship was reversed several times in the ensuing years. The synod itself back-peddled its own decision soon after by only requiring the "heretics" to venerate the Cross and Holy Gospel rather than renounce their "error."
This is factually incorrect.

It is useful here to note that the recent revival of name-worshipping began with Gregory Lourie, who was at the time a priest in the synod of the late Metropolitan Valentin of Suzdal.  The controversy over name-worshipping in HOCNA was touched off after Lourie was communed at Holy Transfiguration Monastery last fall, and then-Hieromonk Gregory vigorously defended both Lourie and name-worshipping.  The arguments put forth by the HOCNA bishops now are arguments which Lourie used to defend name-worshipping to the bishops of the Suzdal synod.  (They did not buy his arguments and defrocked him. He later was consecrated a bishop by other renegades.)

Vladimir Moss, who was Lourie's chief opponent at the time, has written an extensive review of name-worshipping.  In an appendix, he writes:
On October 5/18, 2002 Hieromonk Gregory (Lourié) supposedly expressed “repentance” for his name-worshipping views before the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Autonomous Church. In fact, however, Lourié’s “repentance” read more like a self-justification than a statement of repentance. He expressed “regret”, not about his belief in the Bulatovich’s heresy, but only about the fact that his public statements on the subject had “become a reason for discord within our Church” – in other words, that he had been indiscreet in his public proclamation of the heresy. There was no mention of Bulatovich, no condemnation of any specific heresy, and no admittance that he had ever confessed any heresy at any time. Instead he actually denied that he confessed heresy: “I hold to the teaching of the Holy Fathers and confess no heresy about the names of God, which would have been condemned by previous Fathers and Councils”. He could say this with sincerity (and cunning) because he considers that the teaching of Bulatovich is “the teaching of the Holy Fathers” and is in fact not a heresy. Moreover, no large Council has yet condemned Bulatovich’s teaching, only several Synodal decisions of both the Russian and the Greek Churches. So in saying that no Council has condemned the teaching, he is not lying according to the letter of the law. But there is a direct lie in is his assertion that no previous Fathers ever condemned that teaching. For several Fathers did, including Patriarch Tikhon, Hieromartyr Vladimir of Kiev, Hieromartyr Agathangel of Yaroslavl, Hieromartyr Basil of Priluki, St. Barsanuphius of Optina, etc. And he lies again when he says: “I also hold to the resolutions of the All-Russian Local Council of 1917-1918, which were confirmed by two resolutions of the Synod of our Church, in accordance with which the decision on the essence of the question of name-worshipping belongs exclusively within the competence of a Local Council of the Church of Russia”. For there were in fact no resolutions of the 1917-18 Council on name-worshipping, as Lourié (who has gone on record as calling the 1917-18 Council “a tragic-comic story, which exerted a minimal, or negative rather than positive, influence on the following life of the Church…”!) well knows.

A few weeks later, ... Fr. Gregory wrote a further “report”, dated November 11, 2002, in which he states that he “submits to Church authority and rejects the errors listed by the holy patriarch Tikhon” in a Nativity Epistle written on February 19, 1921.

...Let us examine what the patriarch supposedly said in this previously completely unknown Nativity epistle: “In these high days, when the Church is celebrating the Nativity of the God-Man, Who brought the peace and goodwill of God the Father to earth, I consider it appropriate to remind you in brief of the Athonite imyaslavtsi (name-glorifiers) and give you certain instructions on how to treat these monks. It can be seen, that the Holy Synod in its definition of April 22-25 1914, number 3479, was indulgent to the spiritual mood and to the way of thinking of the Athonite monks, who have a poor knowledge of theology as expounded in books and of the forms of paper work, and allowed them, instead of the previously required signing by the imyabozhniki (name-worshippers) of a denial of their false teaching, to substitute for this a written testimony (a promise on oath) of their Orthodox faith, with the kissing of the Holy Cross and the Gospel. They promised exactly to follow the Orthodox Church and obey the God-established hierarchy, believing exactly as the Holy Church teaches, neither adding anything from themselves, nor taking anything away. In particular in regard to the glorification of the name of God, they promised not to consider His name the essence of God, nor to separate it from God, not to venerate it as a separate Deity, nor to worship the letters and sounds and occasional thoughts about God. The Holy Synod decided to admit into Church those who believed in this way and declared their willingness to obey the Church authorities, and to allow their priests to serve. But, in rendering its indulgence, the Holy Synod did not change its former opinion of the very error contained in the writings of Anthony Bulatovich and his followers, whom the Synod decided to pass over for the consideration of the All-Russian Holy Council, upon which depends the resolution of the whole issue in essence”.

Now the teaching of Bulatovich can be summarized in two propositions: that the names of God are energies of God, and that the name of Jesus is Jesus Himself. Neither of these teachings is in the list of errors listed by the patriarch. “To consider His name the essence of God” was not one of Bulatovich’s teachings (although it may have been that of some of his more ignorant followers). For, as St. Gregory Palamas teaches, the essence of God is not to be identified with the energies of God. “To venerate it as a separate Deity” is, again, not one of Bulatovich’s teachings. “To worship the letters and sounds” is, again, not one of Bulatovich’s teachings. “To worship… occasional thoughts about God” is one of Bulatovich’s teachings, and the only one, therefore, which Lourie may be said to have renounced (although it is doubtful, judging from his dialogue with Vladimir Moss on the subject, that he would accept such a phrase as representing Bulatovich’s real view). In any case, the most important point is that the two propositions that summarise Bulatovich’s main views are not in this list, nor can they be reinterpreted to come within this list.

So why was the patriarch’s characterization of Bulatovich’s errors inaccurate? In order to answer this question, we need to investigate a little further. Let us begin by posing the question: In what other document of the time can we find this same list?

The answer is: in the judgement issued by the Moscow Diocesan Court with regard to the name-worshippers on May 8, 1914: “… The Synodal Office has found that in the confessions of faith in God and in the Name of God coming from the named monks, in the words, ‘I repeat that in naming the Name of God and the Name of Jesus as God and God Himself, I reject both the veneration of the Name of God as His Essence, and the veneration of the Name of God separately from God Himself as some kind of special Divinity, as well as any deification of the very letters and sounds and any chance thoughts about God’ – there is contained information allowing us to conclude that in them there is no basis for leaving the Orthodox Church for the sake of the teaching on the Names of God.’ (decree № 1443)”. The coincidence of wording is striking. It is obvious that the list of errors referred to by the patriarch in the document quoted by Lourié is in fact the list drawn up, not by the Holy Synod in its Resolution № 3479 of April 22-25, 1914, which does not contain a list of errors[130], but by the Moscow Diocesan Court on May 8, 1914.

However, it is essential to realise that the decision of the Moscow Diocesan Court of May 8, 1914 was overturned by the Holy Synod in its decree № 4136 of May 10-24, 1914, which set aside decree № 1443 of the Moscow Synodal Office, and confirmed the sentences against the name-worshippers. This confirmation of the sentences against the name-worshippers was again confirmed by decree № 2670 of March 10, 1916. And yet again by Patriarch Tikhon and his Synod on October 8/21, 1918. And yet again by the Nativity Epistle of 1921.

Lourié tries to get round this by claiming that there was yet another decree of the Holy Synod that was supposedly passed in 1921, just before the patriarch’s Nativity epistle, and which supposedly formed the basis for the patriarch’s Nativity epistle. “Unfortunately,” Lourié writes, “the true text of the decree of 1921 on removing all the bans from those name-worshippers who remained alive has not reached us”. Unfortunate indeed! And devastatingly destructive for his whole case. For since this mysterious decree “has not reached us”, I think we are fully entitled to conclude that it does not exist. After all, if it did exist, why should the patriarch not refer to it?
So you see, Anastasia, that the Russian Synod was in fact consistent in its treatment of the name-worshippers: it issued decrees against them in 1913, 1914 and 1916.  I hope you also see that Lourie and his disciples among the HOCNA bishops use the four points from Patriarch Tikhon's Nativity epistle and the decision of the Moscow Synodal Office as red herrings to make it seem as though the Russian Church authorities sympathized with the name-worshippers and opposed the synod.

Regarding the Russian Synod, Fr. Mark concludes:
So, we come, now, to what I wrote to you in my last email. By the definition of the 1913 "synod", a Name-worshiper is someone who deifies the letters and sounds of God's name; believes that God's Name is His Essence; and that the name is a separate deity. The Athonite monks did not believe this. These heretical ideas were attributed to them by the synod of 1913. When investigations were actually done and the monks allowed to speak for themselves, they were found to the fully Orthodox. A final decision of the subject of Name-worship was expected at a pan-Russian synod which never occurred due to the revolution. 
This paragraph is full of errors and misconceptions.  First, the Russian Synod was not of 1913, its investigation and condemnation of name-worshipping were issued that year.  The Athonite monks were not found to be fully Orthodox.  Anthony Bulatovich, the chief proponent of name-worshipping, died a violent death outside the Church.  The pan-Russian council did occur, but did not take up the issue of name-worshipping.

The definition that Fr. Mark attributes to the Russian synod is in fact taken from the one the HOCNA bishops use to define a name-worshipper, including deifying letters and sounds, identifying God's Name with His Essence, or considering God's Name to be a separate deity.  These were beliefs which the Moscow Synodal office found the name-worshippers did not hold and which Patriarch Tikhon listed as points for them to specifically renounce in returning to communion with the Orthodox Church.  But they never constituted a definition of name-worshipping for anyone until the HOCNA hierarchs determined to use them in that way.  In essence, in their statement "Divergent Teachings," the HOCNA bishops have redefined name-worshipping to make it seem as though they have condemned it, when in fact they have also redefined Orthodox belief to include tenets of name-worshipping. It's propaganda, pure and simple.

Fr. Mark then writes,
So, we can all condemn Name worshipers, because they do not exist (as I said, there may be someone, somewhere, but who knows?). St Philaret can condemn them as have our holy Hierarchs.
By the definition of the HOCNA hierarchs, indeed there may be no name-worshippers in the world.  But by the traditional definition -- one who believes the name of God is God Himself -- the HOCNA bishops have made clear, in stating that the Name of God is an Energy of God and therefore God Himself, that they are name-worshippers.  They are joined in their heretical beliefs by Lourie and his followers, and by "Bishop" Job, our former priest in the Ukraine who was consecrated a bishop by Lourie last summer, and his followers.

The HOCNA bishops wrote in "Divergent Teachings:"
All should understand that, by these pronouncements, we hierarchs are not Nameworshippers as defined in this statement, and that we believe, confess and espouse the Orthodox Christian belief, also defined in this statement.
Again, remembering that Orthodoxy is what the Church has taught always and everywhere, the fact that the HOCNA bishops needed to write their own definition of Orthodox belief should make you deeply suspicious.  The fact that their definition of Orthodoxy includes the traditional definition of name-worshipping should be conclusive proof that they have fallen into error, and sadly have drawn Fr. Mark into error as well.

Fr. Mark concludes,
Anastasia, the Name of God is a holy mystery. We cannot understand it. It is a Divine Energy which is a revelation of God (Like Grace). To say that the God's Energies are not divine is to fall under the anathemas of the Synodicon of Orthodoxy and it runs contrary to Holy Tradition.
This is not the teaching of the Orthodox Church, it is the teaching of the name-worshipping heretics of the early twentieth century and of their modern followers, Lourie and the HOCNA bishops.

Hear St. Gregory of Nyssa: ...[N]ames were invented to denote the Supreme Being, not for His sake, but for our own.” (Answer to Eunomius’ Second Book)  And again, “We, following the suggestions of Scriptures, have learned that the nature [of God] is un-nameable and unspeakable, and we say that every term, either invented by the custom of men, or handed down to us by the Scriptures, is indeed explanatory of our conceptions of the Divine Nature, but does not include the significance of that Nature itself.” (To Ablabius)

Hear St. Gregory the Theologian: “The divinity is un-nameable." (Fourth Theological Oration)

Hear St. Isaac the Syrian: “There was a time when God had no name, and there will be a time when he will have no name.” (Unpublished Chapters on Knowledge)

The Holy Fathers of the Church have spoken, and their teaching is not the teaching of the HOCNA bishops.  God's Name is not His Energy.

As a tree can be known by its fruit, so too can the heresy be detected by its effect.  In the early twentieth century, the name-worshippers brought violence to Mt. Athos.  Now, a century later, the revival of name-worshipping has brought devastation to HOCNA.  Our former spiritual community has been divided.  Holy Transfiguration Monastery has been divided.  Parishes are being torn apart.  As clergy and laity who recognize this heresy depart, the circle of HOCNA has grown even smaller and tighter.  In embracing their own definition of Orthodoxy and rejecting all those who accept the decrees on name-worshipping, the HOCNA bishops also have more surely than ever isolated themselves from other old calendar true Orthodox Christians. 

Anastasia, our beloved HOCNA has ceased to be a true Orthodox Church and has devolved into a heretical sect.  May our Lord enlighten and save you and Fr. Mark.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Chronology: Document 10

From: Met. Ephraim []

Sent: Monday, September 10, 2012 11:49 AM

Subject: article--ILL-CONSIDERED DECISIONS Sept 2012


By Metropolitan Ephraim of Boston

In the Church’s history, there have been occasions when local synods of bishops have made honest mistakes. One sees this again and again in the Lives of the Saints and in the chronicles of the Church councils.

For example, in the Minutes of the Councils (Mansi 9, 568E), it is recorded that "many times things are said during the Councils, either in defense [of the Church’s teaching], or in opposition, or in ignorance .

By way of example, the Synod of Jerusalem in A. D. 415 acquitted the heresiarch Pelagius, who had been condemned in A. D. 411 by the Council of Chalcedon. Furthermore, the Council of Orange in A. D. 529 declared the teaching of St. John Cassian (whom St. Benedict of Nursia and all the Fathers of the East esteemed highly) heretical!

A professor of theology, V. I. Exemlyarskii, wrote, "If a theological opinion, or even a local council, is at variance with the word of the Lord [or the writings of universally acknowledged Church Fathers, or the resolutions of acknowledged Church Councils], then such an erroneous ecclesiastical teaching should be subject to condemnation."

And if we have read the Life of St. John Chrysostom, how can we forget that he had been condemned and anathematized by a Church Council, and that he was ultimately banished to the outer limits of the Roman Empire?!

Also, in the time of St. Gregory the Great, Pope of Rome (540-604), an African council, in an ill-considered decision, offered the title "Universal Bishop" to the bishops of Rome, thinking, as they sup-posed, that they would thereby honor the holy Apostle Peter. And what was the response of Pope St. Gregory the Great? He refused this unfitting title! The Saint explained that he refused this title "lest, by confer-ring a special status upon one [bishop] alone, all [the others] might be deprived of the honor which is their due."

So much for Rome’s present day claims of universal jurisdiction!

Do you know that a Church Council promoted the use of indulgences — a Roman Catholic practice tied to the heretical teaching concerning Purgatory??

Well, in the year 1727, the Council of Constantinople, endorsed by Ecumenical Patriarch Paisius II, Patriarch Sylvester of Antioch, Patriarch Chrysanthos of Jerusalem and by other participating bishops — without, at least, openly ratifying the teaching about Purgatory — passed the following resolution:

The authority to remit sins, which if they are given out in writing, the Eastern Church of Christ calls "certificates of absolution" (synchorochártia) and the Latins call Indulgences, are given by Christ in the Holy Church. These certificates are given out [i.e. sold]** in the whole Catholic Church by the four patriarchs: of Constantinople, of Alexandria, of Antioch, and of Jerusalem.

(13th Article of the Council)

In fact, just to make things perfectly clear, the very same Synodal resolution (Article 13) adds with emphasis:

To say that only the Pope of Rome has the right to give out indulgences is a blatant lie!

Certainly, indulgences are as good a Latinism as you’ll find anywhere — including the "Trinity" icon!

From an "official" point of view, the resolutions of this Council have never been rescinded.

That is why the words of the Russian professor Exemlyarskii (see above) come to mind. For our own instruction, it is good to be aware of these "honest mistakes" committed in ignorance by Church councils. This is yet one more piece of information that we learn from the Lives of the Saints.

This brings to mind another type of "synod": the Russian "Synod" after the time of Czar Peter the Great up until the time of the restoration of the Patriarchate in Russia in the early part of the 20th century. The "synod" established by Peter the Great was not a council or synod as we understand it, that is, in the sense of an ecumenical synod or a local council, as, for example, the Local Council of Carthage. Instead, in Russia, the "Holy Synod" was an administrative body of eleven bishops hand-picked by the Czar and over-seen by an "oberprocurator" who was a lay-person (a government official) who, in some instances, was not even an Orthodox Christian, but, sometimes, a Lutheran! Hence, on one occasion, the "Russian Synod" even passed a resolution that it was permitted for Orthodox Christians to receive "holy communion" from the Lutherans! Metropolitan Antony Khrapovitsky protested this violation.

Thus, in reality, the Russian Synod at that time was something more akin to a government Department of Religious Affairs, and not a canonical Council of Bishops. A proper Council of Bishops had not been convened in Russia for over 200 years.

Many decades ago, we often met with Roman Catholic clergy at an ecumenical seminar. Whenever they would begin to argue in favor of papal infallibility, we would respond: "Every Orthodox bishop is infallible — until he makes a mistake!"

And that’s still the way it is.

What is truly marvelous is that the Church has always had the divine illumination of the Saints to guide her in overcoming these human errors.

"We follow in the footsteps of the Holy Fathers."

(4th Ecumenical Council)

* See my previous article, "Our Fathers in Heaven.

** Metropolitan Ephraim’s Note: This aspect of the "giving out" of Indulgences is not mentioned in the Synodal resolution.

Chronology: Document 13

From Metropolitan Ephraim’s emailed file, "The Orthodox Veneration of the Name of God"

From: Met. Ephraim []

Sent: Saturday, September 15, 2012 8:26 PM

Subject: 2 attached articles


The following selection of passages is intended to show that the Holy Scriptures, the Holy Fathers and the Divine Services of the Church teach us that the Name of God (its inner significance and meaning and not its outward letters and sounds) is the divinely-revealed Truth about God Himself; just like all revelation of God about Himself, it is His uncreated operation, His power, His energy, His grace. According to the teaching of the Church, the Grace of God is God Himself (not His Essence, but His Energy). Hence, it is in this sense that St. John of Kronstadt’s famous saying "The Name of God is God Himself" should be understood, for it is in perfect harmony with the teaching of the Church.

[bold type in the original; rest of the PDF file, about the contents of which there is no contention, omitted]

Chronology: Document 9


Declarative Statement Submitted to the Bishops for Their Approval and Signature


Out of love for our Master, God, and Savior, Jesus Christ, and in loving reassurance of His Church, the People of God under our archpastoral care, and to dispel — indeed, utterly banish — any and all concerns, misgivings, misconceptions, and misperceptions, we, the undersigned hierarchs of the Holy Synod of The Holy Orthodox Church in North America do declare that we fully and unconditionally and without any reservation accept all the Ecumenical and local Councils and Synods and all their acts and decisions and proclamations accepted by the Orthodox Church Universal, including all the Patriarchal and Synodal

Chronology: Document 16

Statement of St. Mark of Ephesus Cathedral Clergy
September 3/16, 2012
St. Anthimus the Hieromartyr

Most Rev. Ephraim, Metropolitan of Boston; Most Rev. Makarios, Metropolitan of Toronto; and Rt. Rev. Gregory, Bishop of Concord:

Dear Masters, purported internal theological errors in the Epistle of the Russian Synod of August 1913 are not at issue here. The issue is that the whole Orthodox Church has accepted all the synodal decisions regarding Name-worshipping without conditions and reservations, but you wish to qualify your possible acceptance of these decisions. Certainly, no sound Orthodox Christian, including us, on coming across a genuine theological error, would agree with that error, but that does not invalidate the decisions. In actuality, the Name-worshippers are not concerned with the internal theological errors; they are concerned with the decisions, themselves, which condemn the teaching they advocate. This is their real target.

None of this was an issue anywhere in the Orthodox Church until today’s Name-worshipping advocates made it an issue. The whole Church, and our jurisdiction there-in, was in peace over this matter until it was recently thrust on the Church. So, since you have permitted the Name-worshipping doctrine to come into our midst, we have been asking you to make it clear that you accept the decisions without conditions and reservations just as all of Orthodoxy has done now for about 100 years. Further, if you say it is the proper province of the Russian Church to deal with this issue (and that Church has been at ease with the decisions), who is our Synod, and what are you doing raising the issue and nit-picking your way through the decisions?

In any case, it is clear to us from your response of 29 August/11 September, 2012, and from your earlier statements, that you object to the decisions against Name-worshipping as they have been universally accepted by the Orthodox Church. This puts you in opposition to all of Orthodoxy and to New Hieromartyr St. Tikhon’s expressed position that these decisions stand.

Therefore, we herewith submit our withdrawal, together with the majority of the pa-rishioners of St. Mark of Ephesus Orthodox Cathedral who on this day have voted to do so, from The Holy Orthodox Metropolis of Boston under the jurisdiction of The Holy Orthodox Church in North America. We are leaving on the canonical grounds of pre-serving our Orthodox Christian confession of faith. Because of this reason alone, we are not creating a schism. Yet further in this regard, we are not creating a new synod but going to a Synod of Bishops that already exists. Indeed, we are seeking refuge in the very Synod of the Genuine Orthodox Church of Greece which you, in your decisions, dated September 21/October 4, 2010, by your de facto recognition thereof and the lifting of the depositions (Motion 2) publicly and synodically acknowledged to have soundness in its confession of Faith and integrity in its canonicity, so much so that you dissolved the office of locum tenens of the throne of Athens (Motion 3), effectively relinquishing the See of Athens to that Synod.

We pray for the forgiveness and blessings and salvation of our merciful Savior on us all. Amen.

(signatures of Fr. Christos Constantinou, Fr. George Kamberidis, Fr. Demetrius Houlares)

Chronology: Document 5

— A —

Pamela Houlares <>

Metropolitan Ephraim <>

Bishop Demetrius <>

Monday, January 16, 2012 8:50 AM

Meeting, Saturday, January 21, 2012

Your Eminence Metropolitan Ephraim:

I kiss your right hand.

Many Blessings for the Feast! A group of parishioners requests respectfully that we meet with you to discuss several concerns in regards to the election of the next bishop, the "Name Worshipping" controversy and the need for an all Church Council. If possible, we would like to meet with you this Saturday, January 21 at 11AM at the Diocese House. We also ask that Bishop Demetrius and Fr. Gregory, the newly elected Bishop, be present. We await your response.

In Christ,

Diaconissa Pamela

— B —

January 30, 2012

Your Eminence Metropolitan Ephraim,

I kiss your right hand,

Thank you again for meeting with us on Saturday, January 21, to discuss concerns raised by pa-rishioners of St. Mark of Ephesus Orthodox Cathedral. There were a broad representation of parishioners at the meeting including the Co-President of the St. Philothei Philoptochos, the manager of St. Mark’s Bookstore, several Parish Council members, St. Xenia Camp Assistant Directors and members of the Church Choir. There were other parishioners that could not attend due to family and job related obligations.

In summary, as a matter of record, there were three items discussed and responded to by your Eminence, Bishop Demetrius and Father Gregory (Bishop Elect). These included the following:

Father Gregory will visit parishes and speak to clergy and laity in order to get acquainted with clergy and flock. There was a recommendation that you consider moving the date of the consecration in order to allow the time and consideration for all involved.

The Name Worshipping Heresy is a concern of the Russian Church and. thus, will no longer be discussed or written about by our Bishops or clergy.

You will schedule general counsel meetings of clergy and laity representatives from all parishes on a periodic basis to keep the lines of communication and dialogue open. These councils would be in addition to the annual Clergy Synaxis and could be regional in order to welcome participants from different areas of the country.

The parishioners of St. Mark’s Orthodox Cathedral look forward to continued communication and involvement in our Church.

In Christ,

Diaconissa Pamela Houlares

Chronology: Document 4


of the Holy Orthodox Church in North America

Beloved Christians:

We recently welcomed Bishop Gregory Lourie as a visitor to our monastery in Boston. While here, he asked if he could receive Holy Communion, and after we consulted among ourselves, and upon asking the counsel of other of our clergy, we agreed to share the Holy Mysteries with him.

By doing this, we did not intend to get involved in theological debates that have raged in the Russian Church for some one hundred years now. Nor do we intend to take sides in them.

In hindsight, it would have been more prudent perhaps to wait until that time when this issue and other issues in the Russian and Greek Churches are addressed. At the same time, while we realize that many matters still divide them, we want to promote unity among all these groups. If we erred in our judgment, we ask forgiveness, since it was an honest mistake committed out of a desire to foster the oneness that must exist among all Orthodox Christians in the Holy Body and Blood of our Saviour.

It is true that, as they themselves admitted to us, our predecessors, St. Philaret of New York and Archbishop Auxentius of Athens, also made missteps in the confused times and conditions that the Church now finds itself. But their love of the Truth, their purity of intention and their confession of Orthodoxy was also evident and true.

We ask for your prayers that God may help us navigate in these turbulent waters that surround the Ark of the Church. We seek only your ― and our ― salvation, and we call upon the mercy of God to overlook our human failings.

May God protect and shelter all of us.

+Metropolitan Ephraim

+Metropolitan Makarios

+Bishop Demetrius

November 19/December 2, 2011

Martyr Barlaam of Antioch

Chronology: Document 3

November 30/17, 2011

Saint Gregory the Wonderworker

[for your information]

Response of Father Andrew Boroda to Father Michael Azkoul<>Friday, November 25, 2011

Dear Fr. Michael,

I know Bishop Gregory Lourie for number of years by correspondence and met him in person for the first time month ago in New York. I read some of his works, some of his sermons and found in them no heresy or anything in variance with teaching of the Apostolic Church. I cannot claim that I read all his writings and I may miss something even in what I have read. However, unsubstantiated accusations in heresy should be rejected outright. It is not right to accept bare words, but we need to see what kind of false teaching man proclaims so that we may analyze it or even ask author to speak for himself and explain it.

As about anyone's personal life, I cannot speak to that and it is out of my interest. I do not read any gossips on so-called internet news groups, sites, etc. I keep my attention away from those sources.

Father Michael, it is first time we exchange letters and I want use a chance to express gratitude for your lifelong work in the field of Church education. Often I give to read your articles and your book Delivered to the saints to new people coming to our Church. It was Deacon Photius, of blessed memory, who introduced your works to me.

Father, we live in desert-like world in which Christ the Savior the source of life is long forgotten. As Diogenes of old, we have to go abroad with a lamp searching for even single likeminded man. I rather be mistaken in trusting than be strict in mistrusting (remember how it was with St. Gregory the Theologian and Maximus the Cynic?). God is our judge.

Yours in Christ,

Fr Andrew Boroda

P.s. Metroplitan Ephraim forwarded to me a letter of Mr. Alajaji. He puts a title MD by his name. Doctor of Medicine is reputable profession. One should ask him if he ever makes final diagnosis without seeing a patient or reviewing his medical records or reading analyses of his tests? That would be my answer to his letter.


Response of Father Gregory [HTM] to a layman <> November 25, 2011

Dear in Christ  _____

Thank you for your kind words! Please pray for me, that I may serve at the Holy Table in purity and fear of God.

Concerning your question about Bishop Gregory.

There was a lot of misinformation and slanders about these worthy Athonite fathers. The Church of Constantinople was motivated solely by political reasons of expelling as much Slavs from the Holy Mountain as possible. Thus it used the accusation of "heresy" to demand from the Russian government the removal of supposed heretics from the Mountain.

As for the decision of the Russian synod - it rests on very shaky theological grounds and contains some very erroneous teachings. The fact is that this very same decision against them was reversed several times, so, which one of them are we supposed to believe? If the synodal decision was wrong, then it was wrong, there should be no shame in admitting it. Other conciliar decisions turned out to be mistaken in Church history. We know, for example that St. Tikhon the Confessor disregarded this synodal decision and personally liturgized with the leaders of the Imyaslavtsy in Moscow churches.

Bishop Gregory Lourie is not making an issue out of this question. He simply believes that that the Athonite fathers were right and that the hierarchs were wrong (how many times has such a thing happened in history?) and that one day the Church will (formally or informally) make a correct judgement about this matter.

I should like to recommend you to read this letter about the subject, written by Bishop Gregory to Vladimir Moss.

As for the ordination of Bishop Gregory. He was ordained by Bishops Sebastian and Ambrose of Valentine's Synod. When, then, Father Gregory was defrocked by Valentine in breach of all canonical procedures, these two bishops were so disgusted by the whole affair, that they withdrew from participating in the synod. Namely, these bishops were forced by Met. Valentine to sign an empty piece of paper where the uncanonical defrockment of Father Gregory was then written in.

On top of this, the so called "synod" of Met. Valentine is a self-appointed assembly of those bishops that happen to be at his residence at a given time, the existence of which has never been sanctioned by a Sobor, as specified by ROAC by-laws. In fact, there has not been a single Sobor in ROAC throughout the duration of its existence.

In accordance with 84 Canon of Council of Carthage, these two bishops instituted a local gathering of bishops within the Russian Orthodox Autonomous Church, which in absence, and until the restoration of, the conciliar order in that church, allows them to proceed with canonical existence without, at the same time, breaking into a schism. These are the bishops that ordained Bishop Gregory.

I will be happy to supply you with any other information about this matter.

Please pass my regards to Daniel, whom I met during his stay here at the monastery.

I embrace you with brotherly love.

In Christ our Saviour,

Gregory, hieromonk.

Chronology: Document 2

February 6/19, 2012

Sunday of the Last Judgment

His Eminence Metropolitan Ephraim of Boston, His Eminence Metropolitan Makarios of Toronto, His Grace Bishop Demetrius of Carlisle:

Holy Masters, bless!

In his second epistle, St. Peter wrote, "Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own steadfastness." (2 Peter 3:17) Dear Despotas, I am writing to you because I believe you have fallen into such an error. In your statement of November 19/December 2, 2011, you characterized imyaslavie (name-worshiping) as an open theological debate which has raged in the Russian Church for some one hundred years. This is false. Imyaslavie is a heresy condemned one hundred years ago by both the Church of Constantinople and the Church of Russia. And since then there has been no debate within the True Orthodox Church. Based on this false view, you have made and continue to make grave errors. The most serious of these is your insistence on consecrating Priestmonk Gregory (Babunashvili).

As you surely know, imyaslavie is the teaching that the name of God is God Himself. It arose in early twentieth century Russia through the teachings and writings of Schema-monk Ilarion and especially Hieromonk Fr. Anthony Bulatovich, and spread to the Russian monasteries on Mt. Athos. Imyaslavie was condemned as a heresy by:

+ Patriarch Joachim III of Constantinople (September 1912)

+ The Holy Kinot of the Holy Mountain (February 2, 1913)

+ Patriarch Germanos V of Constantinople and the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Constantinople (April 5, 1913)

+ Holy Synod of Russia (May 18, 1913; August 27, 1913; March 1916)

+ His Holiness, Patriarch Tikhon (October 21, 1918)

Somehow, Despotas, you have been led to believe that serious debate took place in the Russian Orthodox Church after the Holy Synod's decision, and continues to take place today. This is untrue. You have also circulated a letter by Priestmonk Gregory, in which he echoes the argument that the history of imyaslavie was a dispute between hierarchs and monastic ascetics in which the hierarchs prevailed not by truth, but by political maneuvering and force. This characterization is also false. In truth:

  • All 200+ bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church accepted the decision of the Holy Synod. The elders of Optina Pustyn, Valaam Monastery and of all other monasteries throughout Russia also received the decision of the Holy Synod without question.

  • Among 4,800 Russian monks on Mt. Athos, about 800 professed this heresy, but many of them later repented.

  • The seven members of the Holy Synod of Russia which condemned this heresy included Metr. Anthony Khrapovitsky and Proto New Martyr Vladimir, at that time Metropolitan of St. Petersburg. You could hardly characterize them as bureaucratic hierarchs with "shaky theology" or little knowledge of the Je-sus Prayer. Attached, please find the 1913 report of Metr. Anthony on imyaslavie. It is patristic and sound.

  • The Holy Synod of Russia never repealed its decision.

  • Our venerable hierarchs and fathers in faith, Metropolitans Anthony, Anastassy and St. Philaret of the free Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, never treated imyaslavie as an open question.

  • The only figures to defend the teaching of imyaslavie or to question its condemnation as a heresy were the original teachers and disciples of this heresy; followers of heretical philosopher Vladimir Soloviev such as Sergey Bulga-kov, Nikolay Berdyaev, Alexey Losev, and Pavel Florensky, who laid the foundation of the corrupt Paris theological school; "Bishop" Ilarion Alfeyev, a Moscow Patriarchate "theologian", whose background, education, and experience are all suspect; and Gregory Lourie, a self-described purveyor of punk Orthodoxy and self-proclaimed bishop.

You have admitted that you erred in allowing Lourie to be communed at Holy Transfiguration Monastery in October of last year. An academic who philosophizes over details while failing to grasp fundamental truths, Lourie has published sermons on such topics as why St. Nicholas should be worthy of veneration when the few hard facts reveal him as an ordinary provincial bishop and when the miracles attributed to him seem mythological. Far from traditional Orthodoxy, to say the least.

Lourie was ordained to the priesthood in 1999 by the Synod of Metropolitan Valentin of Suzdal to be pastor of the parish of St. Elizabeth the New Martyr in St. Petersburg, Russia. He was suspended by the same synod in July of 2005, and then defrocked in September of 2005, precisely for promoting imyaslavie. In the letter notifying him of his suspension, Metr. Valentin wrote:
Over the course of many years, the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox (Autonomous) Church has received several complaints from bish-ops, priests, monks, and lay persons, concerning intolerable and extremely scandalous remarks made by you, together with your spreading of the heresy of "name worshipping," and, despite the fact that you were warned several times to cease and desist from disseminating heresy via the internet, and you promised to abandon your waywardness and return to the true path, which leads to salvation, you continued, and even until now continue, to spread the heresy of "name worshipping," publishing the false teaching of hieromonk An-thony Bulatovich on the web page

True to his nature, Lourie disputed the details of the procedure by which he was defrocked. He failed to accept the essence of the matter: because of his militant belief in imyaslavie, the synod considered him no longer worthy of the priesthood, and later even excommunicated him and his followers. Lourie continued to serve in rebellion. In November of 2008, he dared to accept consecration as bishop by two bishops suspended by Metr. Valentin, taking for himself the title last rightly held by the New Martyr Metr. Joseph, "Bishop of Petro grad and Gdov." Further, despite claims of persecution, Lourie's parish of St. Elizabeth the New Martyr is the only nonMoscow Patriarchate parish that has been allowed to function openly in St. Petersburg in a traditional church building open to the public. In Putin's Russia, this can only mean Lourie has powerful governmental protection. In other words, he is not only pseudo-Orthodox and even heretical in his beliefs, a pseudo-bishop in his canonicity, but he is also clearly perceived as useful in some way by the government.

Your failure to grasp both the heretical nature of imyaslavie and the utter unworthiness of Gregory Lourie are why Priestmonk Gregory is still a candidate for bishop. In his letter of November 25, 2011, Fr. Gregory openly supported both the heresy of imyaslavie and the canonicity of Lourie, whom he has also described as a renowned theologian. (!!!) God allowed him to reveal both his heretical beliefs and his poor judgment before his consecration. Yet all you have asked him to do is to promise to keep these opinions to himself. Despotas , how can you think this is satisfactory? Since when is it acceptable for a bishop to believe in heresy but keep it to himself? Since when is a man who believes in heresy a valid candidate for consecration? You continue to look to St. Metr. Philaret as an example; how can you imagine that Fr. Gregory would have been acceptable to him?

The consecration of a bishop is an extremely serious matter for the whole Church. In a small synod like ours, the man who is chosen will influence decisions for years to come. Candidates should be men whose Orthodox faith and judgment are unimpeachable. With more than thirty monks at Holy Transfiguration Monastery, it is simply impossible that the best qualified candidate is this relatively unknown man who came to this country less than five years ago, was tonsured barely two years ago, and who now has revealed these serious errors in faith and in judgment. If you do not wish to "fall from your own steadfastness," you should not consecrate him. If you are truly seeking the best candidates and desire the unity of the Church, I respectfully urge you to tum to the whole Church to nominate new candidates. Let men be chosen who are supported not just by a majority of the Holy Synod, but by the laity, clergy and bishops. Let there be several candidates, and let the one to be consecrated be chosen from among them by lot. In this way, setting aside our own will in this matter, we would allow God's will be revealed.

In Christ,                                

Fr. Deacon Yakov Tseitlin

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Analysis of the Statement of the HOCNA Hierarchs

Updated 9/20/12: information added to note 1.  The statement released by the remaining three hierarchs of the Holy Orthodox Church in North America appears below in regular text, followed by analysis of the statement.  The notes in blue italics in the text of the statement have been added to correlate each point with the analysis below.

Statement of the Holy Synod

5/18 September, 2012
Holy Prophet Zacharias

To quote St. Maximus the Confessor "Even if the whole universe were to hold communion with these Churches, I will not hold communion with them." Under no circumstances will we, the undersigned hierarchs, endorse or accept a "Synod" (which was not a Synod at all [1] ) (See note 1) that espouses teachings condemned and anathematized three times by the Holy Council of Constantinople of 1351. (See note 2)

Furthermore, we will not have any relations with hierarchs or church affiliations that consciously and deliberately accept the false teachings of the same Russian Synod of 1913, which teachings are under the anathemas of the aforesaid Council of Constantinople of 1351. (See note 3)

We are not "name-worshippers"; therefore, we reject the false teachings ascribed to them. (See note 4)

We do not believe that:

1. God's Name is His essence; (See note 5)
2. God's Name is to be separated from Him;
3. God's Name is another deity;
4. The letters, sounds and random/accidental thoughts about God are to be deified, or used for magical purposes. (See note 6)

We espouse and embrace the February, 1921 Encyclical of the Holy Confessor Tikhon, Patriarch of Moscow, as a resolution of the so-called name-worshipping controversy. (See note 7) This is our Confession of the Holy Orthodox Christian faith, so help us God.

+ Ephraim, Metropolitan of Boston

+ Makarios, Metropolitan of Toronto

+ Gregory, Auxiliary Bishop of Concord

Protocol # 2917

1 In fact, the Russian Synod of 1913 was not a Synod or a Council at all in the true sense, but more like a department of religious affairs of the Russian govemment. (See note 1)



Note 1.   The HOCNA hierarchs allege that the Russian Synod of 1913, which condemned name-worshipping, was not a valid synod, and that it was a branch of the civil government rather than a true governing body of the Church.
True or false?  Or simply misleading?
First, the heresy of name-worshipping was condemned not only by the Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church, but also by two successive patriarchs of Constantinople and by the Sacred Community of Mt. Athos.  So even if critics were able to discard the decision of the Russian Synod of 1913, the condemnation of name-worshipping as a heresy by the Orthodox Church would still remain in force.
Second, it is true that Tsar Peter I, known as "the Great," did away with the position of the patriarch of Moscow and replaced it with a Holy Synod.  A government official with the title "Ober Procurator" was appointed to oversee the work of the synod.  This arrangement did not allow the emperor or civil government to have any say in questions of faith.  It received approval from other Orthodox patriarchs.  The chief result of this change was to ensure that there would be no patriarch to oppose the tsar. (Nicholas V. Riasanovsky, A History of Russia, third edition, New York: Oxford University Press, 1977, p. 257)
In 1913, the synod of bishops had seven members.  They were metropolitans, archbishops and bishops, not government employees.  The head of the synod was the metropolitan of St. Petersburg, Vladimir, who had a long and distinguished career as a bishop and who was to become the first hieromartyr of the communist yoke.  The chief opponent of name-worshipping on the synod was Metropolitan Anthony Khrapovitsky of blessed memory, a theologian and distinguished bishop who went on to become the first of the first hierarchs of the Russian Church Abroad and spiritual father of saints, including St. John Maximovich and St. Justin Popovich.  Ironically, after the HOCNA clergy departed from the Russian Church Abroad, they venerated Metropolitan Anthony as their spiritual forefather and a yet-to-be-glorified saint.

Further, while the HOCNA hierarchs do not recognize this synod as valid, the members of the Russian Orthodox Church in their day did.  The decision of 1913 was accepted by all the bishops of the Church (the vast majority of whom went on to become confessors and martyrs under the communist yoke) and by all the monasteries, including Optina Pustyn and its elders.
Note 2.  The HOCNA hierarchs allege that the Russian Synod of 1913 based its decision on teachings condemned by the Holy Council of Constantinople of 1351.

True or false?

First, let's decode the allegation.  The Holy Council of Constantinople of 1351 was the last in a series of councils that met to decide whether the teachings of St. Gregory Palamas on hesychasm were Orthodox or heretical.  At this council, St. Gregory Palamas was vindicated, and his opponents, Barlaam and Acindynos, were condemned.  So the HOCNA hierarchs are accusing the Russian Synod of 1913 of falling into the heresy of the Barlaamites, and unwittingly opposing the teaching of St. Gregory Palamas.

This charge is false, and it has already been answered by Holy Transfiguration Monastery, by Fr. Maximos of Holy Ascension Monastery, and by other authors whose work appears on this site.  Here is a quote from the HTM fathers' Historical Events and Analysis of the Name Worshipping Controversy:
The natural energy of God’s essence does not differ from God’s essence and is not separate from it. They are not two separate things for God’s natural energy is simple as is His essence. St Gregory Palamas repeated this Patristic truth against the Barlaamites, when he declared, that it was a God-befitting distinction, which in no way violated the divine simplicity. God is not diminished, but he is everywhere present in all his essence, wherever his energy is differentiated and measured out according to His will; He is present in His grace in the measure he determines for every creature. The Nameworshippers call those who do not believe in their new teaching, Barlaamites. However, it is their “dogma” that resembles the Barlaam heresy; for they, like Barlaam, declare that the grace of God is created, since they declare a created name is God Himself.
To quote from Fr. Maximos's essay, Smokescreens:
Recently, a heresy called “name-worshipping” has reared its head. This heresy is so called because its adherents believe that the name of God is God Himself; that is, that His name is a divine energy and hence uncreated. This ridiculous idea was condemned by the Synod of Constantinople in 1913 and again by the Russian Synod the same year. These Synods declared heretical the idea that the name of God is an energy of God or God Himself. This is the central point of the heresy, from which all of their other deviant beliefs follow. The Russian Synod, however, added a few comments of its own on the subject of the divine energies and the divinity, which used a slightly different terminology than the manner of expression used by St. Gregory Palamas (the expositor par excellence on the subject of the divine energies.) The Synod’s terminology was not so much heretical as not as clear and precise as St. Gregory’s exposition; and this was evidently the result of the Russian bishops’ lack of familiarity with the polemical writings of the saint, which had mostly not been translated into Russian at the time. The modern name-worshippers have seized upon this imprecision of terminology and have made it their banner; or rather, their smokescreen, declaring that they cannot accept the Russian council because it opposes the teaching of St. Gregory Palamas. In so doing, they have missed the main point, which is that even if the Russian Synod expressed itself poorly, name-worshipping is still a heresy. The Russian condemnation of name-worshipping is still valid in and of itself, even if the terminology it used in its further explanation of the subject is questionable. Moreover, the heresy was also condemned by the Synod of Constantinople, which used no dubious terminology. Yet the name-worshippers also refuse to recognize this council. Hence, it is clear that their motivation in attacking the language of the Russian Synod is not pious concern over expression, but rather because they simply do not accept the Orthodox teaching on the name of God.
Note 3.  The HOCNA hierarchs write, "we will not have any relations with hierarchs or church affiliations that consciously and deliberately accept the false teachings of the same Russian Synod of 1913...."

Decoded: They will not have any relations with the Church of the Genuine Orthodox Christians of Greece.  This is the Church whose hierarchs have spoken out against the name-worshipping heresy, and to which former HOCNA bishops, clergy and laity continue to flee.  Not only did the entire Metropolis of Portland and the West and the vast majority of the Metropolis of Toronto seek refuge in the GOC in 2011, but now Bishop Demetrius of Carlisle, along with clergy and laity from the Metropolis of Boston, are appealing to be received by the Holy Synod of the GOC at its meeting in Greece this week.

Note 4.  The HOCNA hierarchs write, "We are not 'name-worshippers'; therefore, we reject the false teachings ascribed to them."

If that is true, why this long and carefully worded statement? 

They could simply write, "We join with the rest of the Orthodox Church in condemning the heresy of name-worshipping."

But they did not.

Note 5.  The HOCNA hierarchs write that they do not believe that God's Name is His essence. 

Name-worshippers do not believe this either, according to Tatiana Senina, a prominent defender of name-worshipping and disciple of "Bishop" Gregory Lourie.  In defining what name-glorifiers (as name-worshippers prefer to be called) believe, she is quoted as saying:
He (Hieromonk Anthony Bulatovich) founded his teaching on the Divinity of the Names of God above all on the basis that the Divine Name is, according to the Holy Fathers; His energy or operation, and that God’s energy is God Himself.
Name-worshippers contend that God's Name is His energy, but not His unapproachable essence.

Note 6.  The HOCNA hierarchs write that they do not believe "[t]he letters, sounds and random/accidental thoughts about God are to be deified, or used for magical purposes...."

Again, according to Senina as quoted, neither do name-worshippers:
Indeed, if we were considering a teaching that equated created letters or sounds with God, which it would be enough for anyone to write or pronounce in order to achieve the desired miracle, then such a teaching could be called ‘name-worshipping’ and compared with magic and shamanism....
Note 7.   The HOCNA hierarchs write, "We espouse and embrace the February, 1921 Encyclical of the Holy Confessor Tikhon, Patriarch of Moscow, as a resolution of the so-called name-worshipping controversy."
Unfortunately, as has been shown elsewhere on this site, the HOCNA hierarchs pick and choose from Patriarch Tikhon's words to make it seem he is sympathetic to name-worshipping, when he is not:
But what did Patriarch Tikhon really say? In addition to these four particular points (repeated by the HOCNA hierarchs in their statement above), he wrote that the synod was extending economia to the repentant name-worshipping monks, condescending to their spiritual mood and disposition. But even in this economia, they were required to testify to:
their exact following of the Orthodox Church, and of their obedience to the God-established hierarchy, believing according to the teaching of the Holy Church, adding nothing and subtracting nothing on their own...
Further, Patriarch Tikhon wrote that while it was manifesting condescension to the repentant monks (extending economia to them in helping them return to Orthodoxy), the Holy Synod did not change its judgment on the heresy of name-worshipping itself. The Holy Synod condemned name-worshipping as a heresy in 1913. That judgment was never modified or overturned by the Holy Pan-Russian Local Council. It stands to this day.
Conclusions:  The statement of the HOCNA hierarchs seems to try to stake out a middle ground, in which they can deny to be name-worshippers without actually condemning name-worshipping as a heresy.  On the one hand, they would like to appease the clergy and laity who are fleeing from under their omophorion.  On the other, they would like to retain the privilege to profess certain name-worshipping beliefs, and to excuse their friendships with "Bishop" Gregory Lurie of St. Petersburg, Russia, and the newly-consecrated "Bishop" Job of Rivne, Ukraine.
Sadly for them, the Orthodox Church has spoken on name-worshipping.  As the HTM fathers wrote,
Indeed, the entire Church has condemned the Name-worshippers, either by words of agreement, or by acquiescing to the formal decrees of the condemnation by the Patriarchates.   When the Church condemns something, it is binding.

Name-Worshippers in Their Own Words Vs. The Holy Fathers


A study by Nicholas Snogren

 “Even if bishops are driven from their Churches, be not dismayed. If traitors have arisen from among the very clergy themselves, let not this undermine your confidence in God. We are saved not by names, but by mind and purpose, and genuine love toward our Creator.”
St. Basil the Great: Letter CCLVII, To the monks harassed by the Arians

 "If, then, one who speaks of the Son does not by that word refer to a creature, he is on our side and not on the enemy's; but if any one applies the name of Son to the creation, he is to be ranked among idolaters.” 
St. Gregory of Nyssa: Dogmatic Treatises, S:8

Because of the confusion over the subject of God’s name, and the disinformation being spread about it (that Name-glorifiers don’t really believe the Name of God is God), it seemed prudent to supply the Faithful with an exact definition.

This article contains definitions of the Name-glorifiers from articles written by a prominent Name-glorifier, Tatiana Senina; as well as quotes from Anthony Bulatovich himself. Bulatovich was the principle Name-glorifier ‘theologian’. These definitions are then contrasted to direct quotes from the Holy Fathers of the Church.


To begin, here are quotes taken from Tatiana Senina’s article on Name-glorifiying. All quotes are from her and the author of their doctrine, Anthony Bulatovich, and can be found here (accessed September 11 new-style, 2012)

“The formula ‘The Name of God is God Himself’ may indeed seem strange to one unfamiliar with patristic doctrine or with the practice of noetic prayer. In my opinion, this formula evoked and continues to evoke misunderstanding because people are accustomed to understand as ‘names’ only conventional signs and symbols that could of course not be identified with the object named.”
 Tatiana Senina: Name-Glorifying or Name-Worshipping?

The essential definition of a Name-glorifier is the belief that the Name of God is God. Let’s see how she breaks down the statement for those of us who are “unfamiliar with patristic doctrine or noetic prayer.” She continues:

“…We are obligated to explain how the Holy Fathers understood the Names of God and what they taught about prayer, and then compare their teaching with the teaching of the name-glorifiers and then decide whether the former is a heresy… Indeed, if we were considering a teaching that equated created letters or sounds with God, which it would be enough for anyone to write or pronounce in order to achieve the desired miracle, then such a teaching could be called ‘name-worshipping’ and compared with magic and shamanism...”  

At a cursory glance there doesn’t seem to be anything wrong with this second quote. She affirms that the created letters and sounds of the name of God cannot work miracles when pronounced by just anyone (think about a Hispanic whose name is Jesus). However, she does not say that the created letters and sounds which specifically refer to God aren’t God.

Continuing with Senina’s definition:

“He (Bulatovich) founded his teaching on the Divinity of the Names of God above all on the basis that the Divine Name is, according to the Holy Fathers; His energy or operation, and that God’s energy is God Himself. This is the point around which the polemics essentially turned.”

So, a Name-glorifier is someone who thinks that the name of God is His energy, which energy is God Himself. If A is B and B is C, A is C. Why does Senina only say that God’s name is his Energy? To get around the fact that the Russian Church and the Patriarch of Constantinople decreed that to say God’s name is His ‘essence’ is a heresy.*  The Church Fathers understood that there is no division in God.

“No difference either of nature or of operation is contemplated in the Godhead”
St. Gregory of Nyssa: Letter to Ablabius, On Not Three Gods
“There is not one subsistent Person, but a similar substance in both Persons. There is not one name of God applied to dissimilar natures, but a wholly similar essence belonging to one name and nature.”  
St. Hilary of Poitiers: Treatise De Synodis: Sirmium by the Easterns to oppose Photinus. 64.
“The heretics when beset by authoritative passages in Scripture are wont only to grant that the Son is like the Father in might while they deprive Him of similarity of nature. This is foolish and impious, for they do not understand that similar might can only be the result of a similar nature.”  
St. Hilary of Poitiers: Treatise De Synodis: On the Councils, or, The Faith of the Easterns 19.
 “If any one grant the Son only a likeness of activity, but rob Him of the likeness of essence which is the corner-stone of our faith, in spite of the fact that the Son Himself reveals His essential likeness with the Father in the words, ‘For as the Father hath life in Himself, so also hath He given to the Son to have life in Himself (John v. 26)… such a man robs himself of the knowledge of eternal life… let him be anathema.”  
 St. Hilary of Poitiers: Treatise De Synodis: On the Councils, or, The Faith of the Easterns. VI.

If you say God’s name is His energy, then (according the the Holy Fathers), you have to say it’s His nature, or essence, or substance, as well! People may gainsay the 1913 Anathema against the Name-worshipers all they want- they’re already condemned!

Which Holy Fathers does Bulatovich quote to support his ideas? Senina tells us:

“According to the quotations in his writings, Antony Bulatovich did not have at his disposal the majority of sources that were used by Gregory Palamas, nor the works of Palamas himself…not once did Antony quote Palamas in his writings.’…if, while writing his treatises, Gregory Palamas referred to the dogmatic works of the fathers, Antony Bulatovich in his works focused on the scriptures and on the liturgical texts.”   

The great Saint of our Church, Gregory Palamas, in his humility, founded his writings on the explanations of the Church Fathers. Bulatovich, a Russian author, admits that he based his work on the Scriptures, without even having the Church Fathers available! Personal interpretation of the Holy Scriptures is Protestantism. The Orthodox rely strictly on what the Fathers of the Church, who were enlightened by the Holy Spirit, and taught by the Apostles themselves, have handed down to us.

Name-glorifiers have a habit of trying to hide the actual meaning of their belief by fancy language which makes them sound innocent at first.

“…These sounds and letters [of the Name] are different in every language, and they will not carry over into eternity, and are not united in any way with the Lord Jesus Christ, because when we, speaking about the Name, have in mind created human words with which we express ideas about God and about Christ…”

Before we finish that sentence, take note of the meaning so far. Sounds and letters will not carry over into eternity. They are not united in any way with the Lord Jesus Christ. When we speak about the Name, we have, in mind, created words, with which we express our perceptions and conceptions of God. Now let’s see the rest of the sentence:

“When we, speaking about the Name, have in mind created human words with which we express ideas about God and about Christ, then it is appropriate to speak of the presence of God in His Name…”
Hieroschemamonk Anthony (Bulatovich), Moia bor’ba s imiabortsami na Sviatoi Gore [My Battle with the Onomatoclasts on the Holy Mountain], p. 117.

The second half of the sentence says the exact opposite of the first! The sounds and letters of the name are in no way united with Jesus Christ, but it is appropriate to speak about His presence in them when we have them in mind. They are un-united, but He is in them.

Name-glorifiers have this trick of saying that the letters and sounds which make up a written or spoken name are not related to the mental image of a name. The Fathers often refer to our mental images or ideas as ‘conceptions’, which are a capability of our ‘reasoning’:
 ‘The reasoning part of the soul is divided into conception and articulation. Conception is an activity of the soul originating in the reason without resulting in utterance… And it is this faculty chiefly which constitutes us all reasoning beings… But articulation by voice or in the different dialects requires energy: that is to say, the word is articulated by the tongue and mouth, and this is why it is named articulation. It is, indeed, the messenger of thought, and it is because of it that we are called speaking beings.”
St. Hilary of Poitiers: De Trinitate. Book II, Chapter XXI.—Concerning Conception and Articulation.
When Bulatovich speaks of the Name of God “in mind”, he is referring to our conception. According to the Apostolic teaching of the Church, here defined by St Hilary, conception is reasoning without utterance and articulation is the utterance of that same reasoning. Therefore, if we were to articulate our conception of this “Name”, we’d be articulating God! That is, according to Name-glorifiers.

In the beginning of this article, we pointed out a subtlety in Senina’s apology for the “Nameglorifiers”, namely, that words and letters which equate with God do not work miracles on their own. She does not say that the words and letters which make up THE name of God are not God, since that’s what they really believe. Rather, she mixes her language to lure people into a false sense of trust, so that they swallow poison mixed with honey.

Here is the rest of the previous quote from Bulatovich:
“But when we have in mind the Name itself, that is Truth itself, that is God Himself, as the Lord said of Himself: ‘I am… the Truth’ (Jn 14:6).”  
Hieroschemamonk Anthony (Bulatovich), Moia bor’ba s imiabortsami na Sviatoi Gore [My Battle with the Onomatoclasts on the Holy Mountain], p. 117.
“The main thesis of the adherents of Onomatodoxy [Name-glorifying] is that every energy of God is God and is called God, and therefore the words of God recorded in the Holy Scripture, are also not the dead words of God but the living words. Hence the names of God are also the Spirit and Life in their innermost mystery, and they possess divine dignity and can be rightly called God Himself, as the Energy of the Divinity, inseparable from the substance of God.”

Hieroschemamonk Anthony (Bulatovich): Idem, Moya mysl’ vo Khriste:
O Deyatel’nosti (Energii) Bozhestva (My Thought in Christ:
On Activity (Energy) of the Godhead) (Petrograd: Ispovednik, 1914), p. 5

The definition of a Name-glorifier then is that the Name of God is God, whether spoken, or written on a chalkboard. God is His name. God is a creature.

Let’s see what Bulatovich would have realized if he had actually founded his ideas on the teaching of the Holy Fathers.


Senina assures us that the theology on the uncreated thought of the Name of God is from the Holy Fathers, and admits that if it were not, it would be a heresy. So, what do the Fathers say? All quotes (except St. Isaac) are taken from the Early Church Fathers series, second edition, (accessed on 9/10/12, new style). St. Isaac’s quotes are taken from the Holy Transfiguration Monastery’s publication of his Ascetical Homilies.

 “Because the Deity is goodness itself, true mercy and an abyss of loving bounty - or, rather, He is that which embraces and contains this abyss, since He transcends every name that is named and everything we can conceive - we can receive mercy only by union with Him.”  
St. Gregory Palamas: On Prayer and Purity of Heart no. 1
“For no one can utter the name of the ineffable God; and if any one dare to say that there is a name, he raves with a hopeless madness.”  
St. Clement: First Epistle to the Corinthians, Chapter LXI.--Christian baptism.
 "There exists no name which embraces the whole nature of God, and is sufficient to declare it; more names than one, and these of very various kinds, each in accordance with its own proper connotation, give a collective idea which may be dim indeed and poor when compared with the whole, but is enough for us." - 
St. Basil the Great: Prolegomena, Dogmatic Works; i, Against Eunomius
"Things are not made for names, but names for things. Eunomius unhappily was led by distinction of name into distinction of being."
“The last word of Nicene orthodoxy has to be uttered; and it is, that God is really incomprehensible, and that here we can never know His name.”  
Preface to St. Gregory of Nyssa’s Select Writings and Letters,  trans. William Moore, M.A.
 “For God cannot be called by any proper name, for names are given to mark out and distinguish their subject-matters, because these are many and diverse; but neither did any one exist before God who could give Him a name, nor did He Himself think it right to name Himself, seeing that He is one and unique, as He Himself also by His own prophets testifies, when He says, "I am the first and I am hereafter and beside me there is no other God." (Isa. xliv. 6.)”  
St. Justin the Philosopher: Hortatory Address to the Greeks: Chapter XXI.--The namelessness of God.
“The One above conception is inconceivable to all conceptions; and the Good above word is unutterable by word… and Word unutterable, speechlessness, and inconception, and namelessness -- being after the manner of no existing being, and Cause of being to all, but Itself not being…”  
St. Dionysius the Areopagite: On the Divine Names, caput I, section I.
 “. . the most proper of all the names given to God is ‘He that Is’…”  
St. John of Damascus: An Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith; Chapter IX.—Concerning what is affirmed about God.
“From many similar instances in Holy Scripture it may be proved that the name of God has no pre-eminence over other words which are applied to the divine…”  
St. Basil the Great: Letter to Eustatius the physician, section 5.
 “…but thou, beloved, when thou hast heard of ‘The Word,’ do not endure those who say, that He is a work; nor those even who think, that He is simply a word. For many are the words of God which angels execute, but of those words none is God; they all are prophecies or commands…”  
St. John Chrysostom: Homily IV, John i. 1.-“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God.”
 “Let us not then confound the creation with the Creator, lest we too hear it said of us, that ‘they served the creature rather than the Creator’ ( Rom. i. 25 ) Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.”  
“The good Cause of all is… without utterance; as having neither utterance nor conception, because It is superessentially exalted above all, and manifested without veil and in truth, to those alone who… leave behind all divine lights and sounds, and heavenly words, and enter into the gloom, where really is, as the Oracles say, He Who is beyond all.”  
St. Dionysius the Areopagite: Mystic Theology, Caput I, section III.
“Every name of God is due to a conception.”  
St. Gregory of Nyssa: Dogmatic Treatises, S:8
 “If any man says that the Son of God is the internal or uttered Word of God: let him be anathema.”  
St. Hilary of Poitiers: Treatise De Synodis: The Creed according to the Council of the East. VIII.
How does the consensus of the Fathers sound compared to Name-glorifiers?

Who is to be trusted more, a few 20th century Russian monks, or the consensus of the Fathers of our Church who were taught by the Apostles themselves and enlightened by the All-Holy Spirit?
 “When… all reflections and thoughts cease within you… you have been worthy of the operation of grace.”  
St. Isaac the Syrian- Appendix B, 4:59
“When the intellect wishes mystically to go before the One, it must refrain from all thoughts…”  
Ibid. 4:63
“It [God] is neither soul, nor mind… or reason, or conception; neither is expressed, nor conceived; neither has power, nor is power, nor light… nor truth… neither Deity, nor Goodness; nor is It Spirit according to our understanding… neither is there expression of It, nor name, nor knowledge; neither is It darkness, nor light; nor error, nor truth; neither is there any definition at all of It, nor any abstraction.”    
St. Dionysius. Mystic Theology, CAPUT V.
That the pre-eminent Cause of every object of intelligible perception
is none of the objects of intelligible perception.
“God is not matter----soul, mind, spirit, any being, nor even being itself, but above and beyond all these.” - 
Preface to ‘Mystic Theology'
“They left the head and worship the hat.”  
Elder Kallinikos the Hesychast

So we see what the consensus of the Fathers is concerning the name of God. To say the Name of God is God clearly goes against the teaching of the Church. The quote at the beginning of this article was against the Arians, who tried to say that Jesus Christ was only a man. How much worse to worship a WORD as God!

 “When Paul is investigating the special methods of the work of redemption he seems to grow dizzy before the mysterious maze which he is contemplating, and utters the well-known words, ‘O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out!’ These things are beyond the reach even of those who have attained the measure of Paul’s knowledge. What then is the conceit of those who announce that they know the essence of God!… All who have even a limited loyalty to truth ought to dismiss all corporeal similitudes. They must be very careful not to sully their conceptions of God by material notions. They must follow the theologies delivered to us by the Holy Ghost. They must shun questions which are little better than conundrums, and admit of a dangerous double meaning… before the incarnation He neither had the name above every name nor was owned by all to be Lord… ‘And Jesus came to them and spake unto them, saying, All authority hath been given unto me in heaven and on earth.’ (Matt. Xxviii. 18) We must understand this of the incarnation, and not of the Godhead.  
St. Basil the Great: Prolegomena, Dogmatic Works; i, Against Eunomius


*  His energy is His action, or operation, in the world, and His nature, or essence, is what He is. According to the Fathers, it is impossible for us to know his essence- our minds and language cannot contain it.