I love the Orthodox too much to be Orthodox (or How I learned to stop worrying and love the atomic bomb of Holy Orders)

Aug 10th, 2010 | By | Category: Blog Posts

In a previous blog post, I wrote about the joys and similarities which bind together the Catholic and Orthodox Churches. As tragic as our lack of full communion with one another is, there is a bond which unites us even now while our sacramental reunion is mostly a hope for the future. This bond is so deep in my estimation that it is with much fear and trembling that I write this post. But to be honest to my conscience and to my understanding of the Apostolic Churches that are not in full communion with one another, I must state it loud and state it clear: I love the Orthodox too much to be Orthodox.

Saints Peter and Paul Embracing, A Manifestation of Harmony Amongst the Apostles and their Successors

This paradoxical statement is not for shock purposes-it is wholly and entirely true. As one who is in communion with Rome via an Eastern Catholic Church, I find this to be an inevitable conclusion. Because my home parish has its origins in the Slavic people who lived around the Carpathian mountains, I appreciate the beauty of the East, for it is a beauty that I share in my daily prayer life on a personal level and at a Church level. A good portion of those who worship at my parish are ethnically descendants of the Orthodox who regained communion with Rome. This came after excommunications and ill will were put aside in the interest of unity and through an acknowledgment of the ministry of Peter that is given to the Pope of Rome. These dear people who were brave enough to put aside bitterness and seek to regain communion have a story and it must be told, never to be forgotten. There have been many historical tragedies of Churches ransacked and seized on both sides of the Catholic/Orthodox schism, and there has been much oppression of the Eastern Catholics by ungodly Communistic governments, but to recount these events with the purpose of stirring up anger would lose the vision of Our Lord’s. This vision has sought, is seeking, and shall ever seek oneness between His children. On the other hand, to recount the vision of union and a love that transcended the hatred and differences between East and West, this is a story that is ever upon my mind.

I have many friends and acquaintances who have seen the fractured world of Protestantism and have said, “Enough!” They have left their former Protestant abode for Eastern Orthodoxy, because it is a safe haven from the opinions of men each left to interpret the Bible on their own. But to many of us who are or were Protestants, we look on the outside and see that Catholics claim Tradition, Copts claim Tradition, Eastern Orthodox claim Tradition, Armenian Orthodox claim Tradition, et cetera et cetera. It is a fact that brings me to tears, that there are successors of the Apostles who are not in full communion with one another. And we as the faithful are suffering for this disunity. The crucial question to ask is-how should we view this disunion? Are we supposed to cast our lots with the most doctrinal bishops? And if so, who are they? If that were the case, how different would our adherence to Tradition really be, in contrast to Protestantism?

Let us consider the vision of the Catholic and compare it to those Eastern Brethren who share the same ultimate episcopacy but do not share the same chalice. We know that our Churches share the view that Christ left a visible Church, with Bishops leading the charge in the same vein as the Apostles. But we know that each group has an overall different view on the status of each other. It is never redundant to restate what the Catechism of the Catholic Church has to say about the Churches with whom she is not in communion.

1399 The Eastern churches that are not in full communion with the Catholic Church celebrate the Eucharist with great love. “These Churches, although separated from us, yet possess true sacraments, above all – by apostolic succession – the priesthood and the Eucharist, whereby they are still joined to us in closest intimacy.” A certain communion in sacris, and so in the Eucharist, “given suitable circumstances and the approval of Church authority, is not merely possible but is encouraged.”2381

One way of describing the Catholic view of holy orders is that it is an indelible mark, as Tim Troutman’s recent full length article stated. While the term “indelible” may sound medieval and mechanistic, there is a thread of understanding the sacraments in a similar way in the East as well as in the West. The Donatist controversy is one example, where the Church saw that the Donatists were too strict in demanding rebaptism of those who had fallen away. Other sources of patristic thought saw this to be the case. It evokes a stronger view of the sacraments that is ultimately objective. This objectivity is at the heart of the Christian sacramental practice, something that neither sin nor schism can erase. This view is so powerful (an atomic bomb, as my homage to Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove points out) that it transcends our lack of full communion with one another. The disagreements over primacy and jurisdictions did lead to schism, but they did not lead to a destruction of Holy Orders. This maintains the fullness of sacramental life with God in Orthodoxy, even though on a horizontal level we are fragmented from one another. It goes to the point of saying that if Church authorities were to approve of it, Orthodox could receive the Eucharist from Catholics and vice versa. Holy Orders is so powerful that it transcends the differing views on the papacy. It reminds me of a story that I was told by my godfather prior to my conversion. I quote one account of it from the New York Times:

During a frustrating argument with a Roman Catholic cardinal, Napoleon Bonaparte supposedly burst out: “Your eminence, are you not aware that I have the power to destroy the Catholic Church?” The cardinal, the anecdote goes, responded ruefully: “Your majesty, we, the Catholic clergy, have done our best to destroy the church for the last 1800 years. We have not succeeded, and neither will you.”

Whether this is an apocryphal story or not, this understanding of Holy Orders permeates the Catholic view both of herself and of those Churches who have not maintained communion with the Pope. It is so powerful that even those bishops who do not esteem us can ultimately be bestowed with just as much majesty and honor as we would give to our own bishops who have communion with the Pope of Rome, the first among equals. I have had the pleasure to greet Metropolitan Jonah of the Orthodox Church in America with a kiss on the hand, and that kiss was given with just as much fervor as I would give to a bishop with whom I am in communion. That is because I love the Orthodox too much to be Orthodox. Orthodoxy’s opposition to communion with Rome comes from circumstances both tragic and sad. But the often untold story that brings the title of this article to mind is the fact that at many points in history, Orthodoxy’s opposition to Rome has brought her to turn in on Herself. When the various and complex tragedies that led to schism between East and West unfolded, the majority of Orthodox adopted the idea that the mystery of Holy Orders is not indelible. A door was thus opened up that led to not only less love for Rome, but many times less love for Orthodoxy itself. Orthodoxy ties valid holy orders to both Apostolic Succession and Orthodoxy. This does sound like a higher standard that should lead to more purity, but what does Orthodoxy mean exactly? As you may imagine, there are varying answers to this question of what it takes to be fully Orthodox. And so, in many senses this “higher” standard actually lowers the love that one can have for the servants of God, the Bishops and those faithful in communion with them. One can end up only esteeming those bishops who are pure in one’s estimation as having the fullness of sacramental life.

A clear example of this can be seen in the life of the priest Fr. Seraphim Rose, who has fallen asleep in the Lord and is receiving the sort of veneration that could lead to an eventual canonization. Even at his conversion, we read that there was a gaping sacramental question that is still in many respects unresolved today. That is, when one enters into Tradition via Orthodoxy, if one was formerly a Protestant who was baptized as a Protestant, is rebaptism necessary? It is interesting because Fr. Seraphim was himself not baptized, having converted via Protestantism; however, his own practice was to rebaptize those who were not baptized via an Orthodox Church.

Throughout his life, Fr. Seraphim fought for what he called “true Orthodoxy”, which was in contrast to other groups–some of which (in his opinion) were too zealous for Orthodoxy and others were not zealous enough. In the case of those groups who Fr. Seraphim had wished would be more open, there was given the term “super-correct”. From his biography we read about the “super-correct”–they went so far as to call for rebaptism of canonical Orthodox believers who wanted communion with his Orthodox Jurisdiction-the Russian Orthodox Church that was not in communion with the Moscow Patriarchate (most widely known as ROCOR). In thinking about this struggle, Fr. Seraphim wrote:

“I know for myself that if I would have to sit down and think out for myself exactly which shade of ‘zealotry’ is the ‘correct’ one today-I will lose all peace of mind and be constantly preoccupied with questions of breaking communion, of how this will seem to others, of ‘what will the Greeks think’ (and which Greeks?), and ‘what will the Metropolitan think?”2

The deep issue here is not the particulars of whether Orthodox who are rebaptizing other Christians (Orthodox or not) are right or wrong. And in point of fact, the Russian Orthodox Church is more united today than it was then-as of 2007, ROCOR is back under the Moscow Patriarchate. Instead, I would argue that the underlying issue is Holy Orders, and the principles that provide the Orthodox Churches with a sense of who is Orthodox.
Later in the biography, Fr. Seraphim is quoted further on the struggles that he faced in reflecting on the disunity that he faced as an Orthodox believer.

“Throughout the year”, he wrote, “we have heard news of disharmony in the Church. In one monastery (Jordanville) the monks say ‘we are sheep without a shepherd’-and yet what would they do if the Abbot suddenly became stern and demanding in order to produce oneness of soul? In another monastery (Boston) there seems to be oneness of soul, but the impression is that it is not too deep and it is too dependent on ‘opinions’-opinions of the holiness of the Abbot, or the rightness of the monastery’s theology (and the wrongness of everyone else’s), of the superiority of ‘Greek’ to ‘Russian,’ etc. And everywhere-in parishes, in families and small groups-there burst out animosities for no apparent reason, and the best and meekest people are subjected to persecutions.
“Where is the cause to be found of this universal phenomenon today? Are true leaders vanishing in the Church? Or are the followers refusing their trust to those who could become leaders? Both things, of course, are happening, and in general the love of many is growing cold, and both leadership and trust are collapsing in a world based on revolutionary brashness and self-centeredness.
“What is the answer? To gain a position of leadership and compel obedience?-Impossible in today’s world. To offer blind obedience to some leader, preferably a ‘charismatic’ one?-Extremely dangerous; many people follow Fr. Panteleimon of Boston in this way, and the end of it looks disastrous, producing disharmony and friction on the way.
“To practice love, trust and life according to the Holy Fathers in the small circle where one is-there seems to be no other way to solve the ‘spiritual crisis’ of today which expresses itself in the absence of oneness of soul and mind. If one finds the mind of the Fathers, then one will be at one with the others who find it also. This is much better than just following what so-and-so says, taking on faith that he is somehow infallible. But how difficult it seems to find the mind of the Fathers! How many disagreements there are with others equally sincere! Or is this because we have not searched long or deeply enough?
“May God give us the answer to this agonizing question!”3

When I read this part of the biography, I was moved to great sadness for what the Orthodox faithful have suffered in trying to find unity and purity. There are many issues surrounding these problems, but again in my mind a key one is the predominant Orthodox view of Holy Orders. When Holy Orders are not indelible, there is a shifting perspective as to who is holy and who is Orthodox, even to the point of judging within Orthodoxy, not to mention Catholicism. Fr. Seraphim’s emphasis on finding the “mind of the Fathers” sounds wonderful (and it is truly the ultimate answer to all problems in the world), but of course his opponents would have said that they were doing the same thing. This shifting perspective sadly shares the subjectivity and individualism of Protestantism, as individuals or groups end up making different conclusions about the source of the Church when the standards are anything but Apostolic Succession.

Flying in stark contrast to this view of the Church is the view offered by Catholicism. This view holds that despite the flaws in our ordained leaders and those in communion with them, there is a gift of grace that cannot be wiped away. It is so powerful that despite the fact that some Orthodox would not esteem a Catholic as living in grace (Fr. Seraphim Rose himself wrote much against Catholicism, for example), the Catholic can turn the other cheek and stand upon Holy Orders, thanking God for the grace that comes to the Orthodox Churches. Please note that I wrote “can”–tragic failures of Catholics to appreciate Orthodox do not speak to our principles, but because of those principles I will say it again: I love the Orthodox too much to be Orthodox.

And so, it is the Catholic vision of the Church that most fully preserves respect and love for all Apostolic Churches. It is a broader view that leaves the mandates of either/or, and is open to a more complex ecclesiology that at times will emphasize both/and, which is true of its views on other doctrines such as the teachings on the relationship between faith and works. The Catholic view holds Her own sacraments to be valid, but She also holds the various Orthodox Churches to have the full sacramental life. Thus, there is a principled sacramental basis for saying that the Catholic loves the Orthodox too much to be Orthodox. Again I stress that not all Catholics do this–but our catechisms and councils beg us to do so. I am also not saying that there are no Orthodox who share this vision-I am thankful for those Orthodox who have spoken out in support of this thinking such as Archbishop Hilarion Alfeyev of the Moscow Patriarchate. But in Catholicism there is an authoritative, principled basis for a mutual respect of the successors of the Apostles that springs from this view of Holy Orders. In relegating the Bishop of Rome and those in communion with him to something lower, there is a sense in which Orthodoxy has lowered Herself at the same time, tragically. May Our Lord raise us all through a growth in appreciation for His fellow children, each other. Through this appreciation, I pray that this fractionation would end and end soon, via a stronger love for Orthodoxy that comes from a stronger love of the mystery of Holy Orders. As for me, in my evaluation of Tradition, it is not that I did not see the Tradition in Orthodoxy. It was due to my love for the Orthodox that I entered into communion with the Popes throughout the ages through Catholicism. Our love for Orthodoxy provides a principled way for us to not only hear the call from above that is communion with God; it is a call that beseeches us to end the horizontal divisions amongst the Churches. May we all answer that call, to the best of our ability.

  1. Catechism of the Catholic Church []
  2. Father Seraphim Rose-His Life and Works, Hieromonk Damascene []
  3. Father Seraphim Rose-His Life and Works, Hieromonk Damascene []
Tags: , , , , , ,

217 comments
Leave a comment »

  1. […] that this difference convinced him to remain Catholic. It has the very provocative title “I love the Orthodox too much to be Orthodox (or How I learned to stop worrying and love the atomic b…“. It begins: In a previous blog post, I wrote about the joys and similarities which bind […]

  2. […] scriptura as the only alternative). Today, this article was published on Called To Communion: I love the Orthodox too much to be Orthodox (or How I learned to stop worrying and love the atomic b… The author left a Reformed background and is in an Eastern Catholic communion. The whole premise […]

  3. I have had numerous opportunities to leave the Catholic Church and join the Orthodox Church but have never done so because, when all is said and done, I believe Catholic doctrines like those abt. the ministry of the Bp. of Rome, and the Orthodox propose some doctrines/ideas I do not agree with…so for the sake of respecting both my own convictions and the integrity and dignity of the Orthodox Church, I never switched nor do I think I ever will.
    My decision however has not stopped me from worshipping with them from time-to-time and from having what I’d characterise as a generally positive relationship with them, especially @ a certain Orthodox parish near my house.

  4. Jonathan:

    I appreciate where you’re coming from, and to a considerable extent I share your sentiments. In particular, you’ve drawn my attention to the importance of the doctrine of the indelibility of Holy Orders. My issue, though, is how you’d handle the inevitable Orthodox objection, which I would take be that you haven’t shown that their denial of that doctrine is a theological novum. They would say that the Catholic doctrine is itself the novum.

    Best,
    Mike

  5. I love the Orthodox Church too much to be Roman Catholic…or Reformed Protestant, for that matter, as I have been both.

    I was raised Roman Catholic. I married in the RC Church. Yet my late Husband and I were unsettled in the Church for various and sundry reasons, and after reading Francis Schaeffer, we wandered into Reformed Calvinism and stayed there until my Husband’s death in 2005.

    At that time, I was finally able to pursue, openly, the many questions and concerns I had about reformed theology. I found myself in Orthodoxy, something I had actually been interested in since reading the Early Church Father in High School. I converted in 2006.

    The real issue in the schism in Orthodoxy is not so much Holy Orders/the Mystery of Ordination as it is the view of God…the Trinity.

    Is God Simple?

    Catholics would say “Yes”. Orthodox would say “No”…and we are off.

    My late Husband, a professional pilot, might characterise this as such: He gets his bearings for a transoceanic flight and enters them into the appropriate instruments. Unfortunately, he fails to realise the information is *one degree off*. So rather than reaching his correct destination…

    Yeah. He’s rather off course.

    So it is with such things as Who God really is…the Trinity…that little thing that is “stuck in our craw” known as the filioque…the Immaculate Conception…Papal infallibility…one or two ecumenical Councils that were approved/not approved/approved…the list goes on and on as this Family Fight continues in all its historical sadness.

    At the end of the day, we’ve a lot more to settle than understanding that what Fr Rose was referring to was actually an uncanonical situation with a jurisdiction that was not in communion with the rest of Orthodoxy (reference 3) and has now moved it’s headquarters to Canada.

    I pray, one day, we may be One Church as Christ prayed we may be One. But I pray it will be a True One Church based on True Truth (the Schaefferism comes out ;) ) and not misquided convenience, post-modern tolerance or compromise.

  6. Jonathan –

    While obviously this is your perspective that comes tied to your membership in a church that celebrates the Eastern Rite, while under the authority of Rome, and you have chosen that and are very welcome to that; as an Orthodox Christian myself, 1) your choice of thesis comes across as condescending, and 2) the suggestion which that argument contains is simplistic, but 3) of course you’re right, but that is still the whole point of the division, and always has been.

    On the first, it is somewhat insulting since one could turn it around and to make a pejorative statement about Catholics: “I love Catholics too much to be Catholic” and then argue anything one likes along the lines of “I can do anything you can do better.”

    Secondly, to say: well, everything would be solved if the Orthodox just maintained the “indelibility” of holy orders and gave it due authority, is not really saying more than “if the Orthodox would just become Catholic there would not be church division”.

    Lastly, that is because, of course, you are right: the relative importance of authority, doctrinal agreement (ideally effected in conciliar meetings), and charismatic holiness, as the characteristic components of Christ’s church IS THE ISSUE separating the Catholic and Orthodox churches. It’s not a secret underlying cause: that’s it, and all it really ever has been. So, if you’re going to choose to be Catholic, not Orthodox, then it’s a good thing you love what you call that “Atomic Bomb”. Personally, I couldn’t disagree with you more, which is why I submitted myself to the Orthodox church as an adult, as you did to the Catholic Church. Indeed, the Orthodox view on all this is messy, but I think it is a messiness that Christ is OK with, honestly. I don’t think the most important thing to Jesus Christ is that his entire church of believers is maintained under one institutional framework. Again, personally here, I think the model is depicted in the icon you led with: wouldn’t the ideal, biblical-traditional model be for a “successor of Paul” to be able to tell a “successor of Peter” when to stand down? No one gets to do that, though, in the Super Holy Orders model. In any case, please don’t tell me you love me too much to be a part of my church, because I just can’t feel any of that love.

    Two final comments: 1) to set the record straight on one issue, your implication that *most* Orthodox re-baptize is flat wrong. I know hundreds (not exagerating) of “converts” to Orthodoxy, not a single one of whom was re-baptized. That part of your argument: the fact that Orthodox re-baptize is symptomatic of the fact that Orthodox do not really respect the sacraments enough, and that therefore “holy orders” is not given enough respect, doesn’t fly. 2) Seraphim Rose is great, but his personal biographical thoughts and musings are an odd source to be quoting in conjunction with the Catechism; maybe Schmemann’s “The Historical Road” would be more appropriate but still accessible?

  7. Jonathan,

    Thank you very much for the irenic tone of your post. If I may, I believe you have romanticized the reasons that some Carpatho-Rusin left the Orthodox Church for communion with Rome. Having read the history and been Byzantine Catholic for many years, I think that the concern was less dogmatic and more pragmatic then you make it out. Yes, by the 20th Century, especially under communism, communion with the Bishop of Rome became central to the identity on Byzantine Catholics–but I’m not sure that this was the case in the beginning. But in any event what’s done is done and I suspect that–as with individuals–there is a certain dynamic quality to how we understand our own reasons for making major life decisions. At least there is for me! :)

    As to your central point as to whether or not holy orders are indelible, let me simply say that there is more ambiguity in the Orthodox position on the matter than you suggest. We don’t, for example, re-ordained defrocked priests who are returned to ministry.

    What I want to offer for your thoughts is this: The lack of clarity about sacraments in the Catholic Church that (rightly) observe in the Orthodox Church is due to a number of factors. Yes, there is a strain of anti-Catholicism there but I think it also reflects the historical fact that until very recently the Orthodox Church has not had the opportunity to sit down and clarify our thinking on this and other issues.

    From the rise of Islam until the fall of the Soviet Union, most of the Orthodox Church has been suffering under horrible, unimaginable, persecution. To be sure, the Catholic Church likewise suffered similar persecution at various points in her history–but for the Orthodox Church that lack of freedom is a more recent memory. For example, the Catholic understanding of the primacy of Rome was not clarified until the 19th century–and was not universally received by the Catholic faith resulting in the Old Catholic schism. Reading Pope John Paul II’s Ut unum sint, it would seem to me that the Catholic Church has not yet spoken the last word about the Pope’s role. To be clear, these are not criticism (in a negative sense) of the Catholic positions, only my observation that one person’s ambiguity or lack of clarity might be another person’s development of doctrine or humility in matters of dogma.

    At the risk of playing the prophet, I suspect that in the upcoming council of the Orthodox Church, we will address (among other things) the issues raise here. And, to risk labeling myself a fool, I also think we will come to conclusions about the Catholic Church that are largely like those drawn by the Catholic Church about the Orthodox Church. Obviously, I don’t know this will happen (and I’m not claiming any special insight here) but I that’s my guess.

    Anyway, enough of my rambling. Let me thank you again for your very irenic post.

    In Christ,

    +FrG

  8. Vato!
    You make some good points. I have noticed that there seems to be a lack of love among the Orthodox for other groups. But then again, being converts to a Tradition that we are barely scratching the surface of, we don’t fully understand the histories behind some of the divisions.
    I’m gonna be honest that I am a little disappointed that you limited the Orthodox differences with the West to ecclesiology, holy orders and historical events. As I have continued to study, there is a significant difference in soteriology, the nature of the Trinity, etc. In reading and listening to Orthodox teachers, the issue is more ontological than philosophical. Just the cursory reading of the book Mary The Untrodden Portal Of God, George S. Gabriel points out the difference in the views of salvation between East and West, just based on the understanding of Mary. I once asked Fr Stephen Freeman about how we reconcile standing for the truth with loving others, and looking beyond those things that keep us out of communion. He believes love and truth are in separable, and so to point out that one is in error does not necessitate a lack of love for them. I have to admit that the evidence of history and our present day demonstrate that neither side is living up to this (by and large). But I am hopeful. Talks of reproachment with the Oriental Orthodox are brining fruit. Doctrinally it seems the ground needing to be covered between East and West is greater, but nothing is impossible with God, in love.
    One last thing. The Orthodox also argue that Catholicism is more juridical and stringent in Her doctrine than the East, though you were saying that the East is. The East claims to be a both/and, not either/or. So again we are left with East and West assessing themselves and one another.
    Like yourself, I earnestly pray for the divisions to end. The West just needs to admit they are wrong and repent! I kid. Let me say that again… I was just kidding. I truly hope that the people will get behind the Patriarchs, should they come to an agreement with Rome.

  9. Michael: Pragmatist that I am, I would respond that the very subjectivity of the Orthodox approach indicates that the Orthodox view = a theological novum. Why? Because the subjective approach demonstrably yields disastrous results — results that run directly counter to Our Lord’s anguished plea “that all may be one.”

    In other words: It. Doesn’t. Work. And, if it doesn’t work, how can it be what Our Lord willed or what the Fathers taught?

    As this article correctly points out, subjectivity and purism are hallmarks of Protestantism. (That is also why ex-RC ultra-trad movements like sedevacantism are essentially Protestant.)

    Protestant subjectivity leads inevitably to fragmentation and disunity. So does Orthodox subjectivity, although to a far lesser extent.

    In both cases, the subjectively oriented purists pursue an impossible, chimerical goal. They themselves must determine who is holy enough, good enough, right enough, to qualify for their ideal of church leadership and Church membership. How can such a pursuit not end in disappointment, disunity, and disarray? It must so end, and it does. Inevitably. Here in America, at least, churches split like hyperactive amoebae. How does this represent the NT and patristic models?

    My next-door neighbor, a devout Pentecostal, embodies this phenomenon. She is engaged in an endless quest for The Perfect Church(TM), and she employs highly subjective criteria as she evaluates each tiny church she visits. Does the pastor preach exactly the way she thinks he should? No? Then she moves on to the next church. Are the congregants sufficiently “led by the Spirit” — do they manifest the spiritual gifts the way she thinks they should? No? Then she moves on again. At her next church, she sees a pastor shout and holler as he races back and forth across the sanctuary–and she concludes (based on her personal criteria) that here at last is the Spirit-filled community she seeks. Then she finds out that the pastor’s wife is a control freak, and she decamps. On to the next church! And so on, ad infinitum.

    My neighbor is an extreme case, but, to a much lesser extent, the same phenomenon is observable among the Orthodox (and Catholic ultra-rad-trads). Nothing can satisfy the purists, precisely because their criteria are so subjective (and so unrealistic).

    For some purists, the quest ultimately leads to some obscure, minuscule body (HOCNA springs to mind). Or even to “house church,” the ultimate Pure-Enough-for-Me-and-Thee solution.

    I wrote a little piece of doggerel about this some time ago:

    It’s easy to be “pure”
    When your church consists of four;
    And one of them’s your priest,
    And two others are deceased.

    It’s easy to be “pure”
    When your church is quite obscure
    And insular and clannish,
    And no one there speaks Spanish.

    It’s easy to be “pure” —
    But you’d best make extra-sure.
    So, here’s what you should do:
    Start a church conffined to you.

    Yes, I am spoofing very extreme cases. And yes, I fully acknowledge that Orthodoxy is FAR less fissiparous than Protestantism. (Noooo comparison.) Nonetheless, the same purist impulse is discernible in Orthodoxy…and it is not exactly conducive to unity. Considering that unity is an NT ideal and the fervent wish of Our Lord, it’s hard to see how subjective purism can represent primitive Church Teaching.

    No offense to my Orthodox brethren. But for me, too, this is one huge reason why I can never become Orthodox.

    Diane

    P.S. I for one take great comfort in the fact that God channels Grace through His clergy in Apostolic Succession irrespective of their personal holiness. Right now, many of the members of the small rural parish I attend would like to knock the pastor’s block off (long story). But at least we know he validly consecrates the Eucharist and administers absolution — so we can stay together as a parish even while wishing we could knock tthe pastor’s block off. :)

  10. OK, why is there an icon of George Lucas at the top of this article? And why is he hugging a guy with a butt on his forehead?

    Sorry about that, you may know resume your rational, philosophical, intellectual discussion.

  11. “And so, it is the Catholic vision of the Church that most fully preserves respect and love for all Apostolic Churches.”

    I think you raise a valid point: the Roman Catholic Church appears to me be more accepting of the other historic, apostolic Traditions and what you call their “Holy Orders” than the other Traditions of the Romans or Latins. Orthodox for example are not permitted (by Orthodox rules) to receive the Eucharist at a Catholic chalice, but I understand Orthodox are able to receive at a Roman chalice. I have noted this imbalance.

    However I do think you are mistaken of the reason(s) for the point you are making. Orthodox DO have a view that Holy Orders transcend the personal piety of the priest or bishop (there is a Latin phrase for the theological point I am making, but I cannot recall it at present). We are taught – at least as I have been informed – the Eucharist of an immoral celebrant is still valid, as is absolution by an impious cleric or bishop. Our view of “Holy Orders” does in fact transcend the personal piety of an individual cleric or bishop (or Metropolitan or Patriarch). Whether the celebrant is a charismatic elder or just a humble parish priest, Orthodox Holy Orders ARE indelible, to use your phrase. But you are right, we do not see all the Holy Orders of other historic Traditions as being “valid”, except for baptism.

    I think there are other (unfortunate) reasons for the lack of reciprocity of respect (maybe even love)by Orthodox and Orientals for Roman Catholicism. One, I think converts, especially those who leave Protestant churches, often bring with them the special animosity that Protestants have for Rome. Two, I think it has to do with the unfortunate history of East-West relations, especially the still – lingering effect of the Crusades and the ransacking of Constantinople by Catholic Crusaders (for which in fairness Pope John Paul II apologized). Three, I think it has to do with the “under dog” status that Orthodox have in relation to the perception of “success” and “prosperity” and “power” of the Roman or Latin Church. Four, I think it has to do with the doctrine of the primacy of the Roman Pope and the consequent unilateral decisions that the Roman magesterium has made post schism (1054). Many Orthodox – and most converts – believe these post-schism changes (including the filioque and Vatican II) are the result of unilaterlism (IE non-Ecumenical) by the Roman magersterium.

    At any rate, thanks for this post and I think the lack of reciprocal love – if not agreement – is unformtunate.

  12. All,
    Thank you so much for your comments. This is a serious issue that needs to be handled very delicately (fear and trembling, as I put it in the post). As such, I will be approving your comments but not responding until I have prayed and waited some time in peace and repentance.

    I love you all, and am sorry for any elements of the writing that may have caused offense. In the East there is an emphasis on involuntary sins–if I committed any during the composition of this article, have mercy.

    Love,
    J. Andrew Deane

  13. Jonathan,

    Obviously you’re already deluged with comments, but I’ll ask one question, since something you said is really confuzzling to me (yes, it’s a real word!).

    Essentially, you have stated that the RC view of Holy Orders allows the RC faithful to know which priests/bishops are truly Catholic–apostolic succession and union with the Pope, basically. You also claim (citing VCII documents and the CCC) that Rome recognizes the validity of the sacred orders within Orthodoxy, including the validity of their sacraments, even if these indelibly-marked Orthodox clergy are NOT in communion with the Pope. Thus, you imply that Rome is able to do something that Orthodoxy is not–namely, recognize which of their own clergy are actually Orthodox! This seems a stretch at best, and insulting at worst.

    #5 (Laura): you raise compelling points, namely that the underlying separation is far deeper and more fundamental than just ecclesiology–the ecclesiology itself is determined by the theology of the Trinity, Christology, etc. that is different between Rome and Orthodoxy. Until those issues are resolved (God willing) squabbles over the later disputes really can’t be resolved because nobody is standing on the same ground. We must heal the disease rather than pick at scabs.

    #6 (Jesse): you raise compelling points also, but said “I don’t think the most important thing to Jesus Christ is that his entire church of believers is maintained under one institutional framework.” I am not actually an Orthodox myself (I’m actually in the target market of CTC…namely, Reformed guys who are stuck in the authority crisis), but as I understand it, Orthodoxy IS under one “institutional framework,” that being a network of autocephalous Orthodox churches in communion with one another as successors of the Apostles, united in fellowship, celebration of a common Liturgy and Eucharist, and holding to common Tradition. It is this definition of unity (which, per Laura’s post, arises from the understanding of Trinity and Christology) that appears to Catholics as lacking. They seem to define “one institutional framework” as necessarily being united under one senior bishop, and then logically conclude that Orthodoxy CAN’T be unified because it lacks that element per the RC definition.

    #7 (Fr. Gregory): glad you raised the historical issues of Islam, communism and the like. From what I read and hear from a variety of sources (Orthodox and otherwise), these factors have far more to do with any schisms (almost all of which are within the last few centuries) than anything theological or ecclesiological. “Oh boy, my country just got taken over by Atheists and I don’t know which bishop is real and which is an agent of the communist state” doesn’t make for much harmony or easy jurisdictional lines.

    #9 (Diane): You wrote “the very subjectivity of the Orthodox approach indicates that the Orthodox view = a theological novum. Why? Because the subjective approach demonstrably yields disastrous results — …In other words: It. Doesn’t. Work. And, if it doesn’t work, how can it be what Our Lord willed or what the Fathers taught?” This presupposes that the RC understanding of unity is by definition the correct one, and then because Orthodoxy doesn’t look like you believe unity should look, it must therefore be the result of disastrous processes. Which disastrous consequences do you refer to? Islam and communism produced disastrous consequences. A confused jumble of ethnic immigrants to America, in a manner never before encountered by Orthodoxy (on that scale anyway), produced a lot of confusion–but from what I see there’s really nothing disastrous about it,a nd they are in liturgical communion with each other–what’s the disunity in that? My dad grew up when Irish Catholic and Italian Catholic were further apart from each other, than Greek and Antiochene Orthodox are today in this country. I’m missing the relevance of your Charismatic, church-hopping neighbor…how does that relate to Orthodoxy exactly? Oh, and I like your jingle–very catchy :) Last point…you say that the “disastrous results” that you trace to Orthodoxy’s view of unity prove that their view is the “novum.” I believe they can turn it around quickly and with more historical basis…namely, the exclusive assertions of the papacy to universal jurisdiction in the church and temporal power over nations arising in the late middle ages, led to the disastrous results of schism from the East–and therefore, it is the Catholic view of unity that is in fact the “novum.”

    Respectfully,
    Bill

  14. Jonathan,

    Thank you for your humility and charity both in your article and in your response to comments. We all could do with a bit more charity and a lot less pride. God bless.

  15. *side note* I have been lurking here for several weeks and love everything I have read. The scholarship and irenic atmosphere is beyond impressive.

    Andrew,

    The timing of this post is so interesting. My wife, who was raised Orthodox and became Protestant several years after meeting me joined the Church (with me and our kids) 11 days ago on the feast of St. Ignatius of Loyola. It was a reversion for me after my entire adult life as a Protestant. She came in as a Greek Catholic and will remain so by choice out of love for her Orthodox upbringing. She is thrilled to be an Eastern Catholic, or as she prefers, Orthodox in Communion with Rome. We did the typical looong liturgical convert journey. We started out our marriage as Reformed Baptists, then Presbyterian… almost Orthodox then several years Anglican… I was not happy to find out the Church I left as a teen was THE Church all along. That was a heard pill to swallow…especially after falling in love with Eastern liturgy. So we stubbornly resisted for half a decade.

    The issues you raised were part of the reason we, after nearly joining the Orthodox Church, chose not to, which was heart-breaking at the time. Ironically, we realized the Catholic Church had a much better claim to “One” and “Catholic” after literally a decade of studying all the theological and cultural reasons for the schism. In fact we were convinced by history that the issues had and remain far more about cultural bias than theology. It seems much of the theological issues have been read back into history and inflated in later centuries. But that is another issue. The indelible mark point you made was new to me and rings very true. It was the jurisdictional issues that first raised a red flag and Fr. Rose’s concerns were my mine as well. Not to mention the old calendar/new calendar battles that are related.

    Anyway, thanks for a great and thoughtful post. I truly look forward to more articles and dialogue on CTC regarding Orthodox/Catholic relations and some of the theological issues involved.

  16. Jonathan,

    I am not sure howe we get from whatever Fr. Rose thought or didn’t know, to, such and so is the teaching of the Orthodox Church or that the Church has no teaching on said subject.

    I should also note that there is no discussion of the relevant ecumenical canons regarding rebaptism or chrismation for the reception of various heretics and schismatics. Any discussion of this issue between Orthodoxy and Catholicism should be framed by an analysis of those canons, esspecially since they are binding on both. Why were some forms of Arianism received by chrismation and others by re-baptism? The same goes for orders. How exactly does that square with the indelibility of orders in Catholic theology? Can you explain this or no?

    Third, we differ in part because we have a different anthropology and a different doctrine of baptism for example in that we reject a view of baptismal regeneration that turns on divine grace pre-empting the human will and turning it towards God. That view turns on Christological matters, namely the distinction between person and nature.

    Lastly, isn’t this blog, Reformation meets Rome?, Not Orthodoxy meets Rome, as I’ve been told in times past?

  17. Laura Short,

    Is God Simple?

    Catholics would say “Yes”. Orthodox would say “No”…and we are off.

    Don’t want the debate to go off on a tangent, but suffice it to say, that i could quote any number of Western & Eastern Catholic fathers, as well Eastern Orthodox theologians from after the ‘schism’, that say you’re wrong on simplicity. The debate is over certain conceptions of divine simplicity particular to each tradition and whether they are compatible. The debate is not over whether God is simple or not which both sides affirm.

  18. Perry –

    isn’t this blog, Reformation meets Rome?, Not Orthodoxy meets Rome, as I’ve been told in times past?

    Yes but uhm… er.. well… ok maybe there’s been some double standard or something or another or ahem… you know. What I’m trying to say is … well you get the picture.

    Besides, ultimately we desire the unity of all Christians. Yes we primarily aim to dialogue with the Reformed but these East & West issues are pertinent simply because these are issues of the Church. And “the Church” is not identical with “The Roman Catholic Church” simpliciter, as I needn’t tell you of all people (disclaimer- of course we believe that the Church uniquely subsists in the Catholic Church, Roman or not, which is in communion with the successor of St. Peter). So really.. maybe our motto should be “Reformation meets the Church.” It’s just that our current one is better alliteratively and is less offensive.

    Also, for many of us Catholic converts, explaining the ‘why’ from “Reformation to Rome” includes explaining the ‘why not’ from “Reformation to Constantinople.”

  19. Tim,

    You said:

    “Also, for many of us Catholic converts, explaining the ‘why’ from “Reformation to Rome” includes explaining the ‘why not’ from “Reformation to Constantinople.””

    When I read Perry’s post this is exactly what I thought and why I am so glad the East/West thing is being addressed. As I mentioned above my wife went from Orthodox to Reformed then eventually Catholic. So many Reformed look in both directions and some end up in Orthodoxy. So it seems like it must come up at least occasionally. Of course I am new here so maybe I don’t know what I am talking about.

    Perry,

    Since you mentioned

  20. Sorry I got cut off by a sensitive laptop mouse resulting in the “Since you mentioned”.

    What I was trying to say:

    Perry,

    Since you mentioned a different theology of baptism. I will mention that the Orthodox use of “…for the remission of sins” in the Creed was a puzzler for me when I was considering Orthodoxy. In what sense does a baby need sins remitted in Orthodox theology? If it this goes beyond the bounds of the topic feel free to email me the answer if you are inclined.

    Thanks,

    David

  21. […] I Love the Orthodox too Much to Become Orthodox […]

  22. David,

    If you considered Orthodoxy, what major theological works did you consult such that you felt that remained a puzzler?

    If the appropriate categories are person and nature, which category in the case of children do their sins fall under?

  23. Greetings, all. I have been overwhelmed with the feedback that has been given to this little post. But I am thankful for the opportunity to have more dialogue, on the condition that it is dialogue in charity.

    To my Orthodox interlocutors, particularly Jesse, Jeremiah, Kevin (I love the Illumined Heart and am so thankful for what you do), Laura, Fr. Gregory, Perry, and Bill…thank you for your patience in sharing where you seek more truth and clarity from we who are Catholics.

    I would like to offer a couple general responses based on your comments-I hope that they suffice for now, but please note that here on Called to Communion we seek charitable discourse, and for my part I see one key to that as being an avoidance of the typical internet “tit for tat”. If that means that I’ll respond in a manner that is slow, just remember that this is an issue that has separated Churches for centuries. I promise to respond in under even one century. :)

    1) I get the sense that my ecumenism has been received with a feeling that I am theologically neutral or indifferent to the truth. For that I am deeply sorry. I do care about the issues and think that if one goes back to the disputes of Ecumenical Councils, there was obviously much effort placed onto the point of truth. There are many points of disputation–some have emphasized the role of the Pope, others “absolute divine simplicity”, the filioque, etc. These and more have been causes for stumbling, and I do not think that all issues are merely semantic. But I would only call for patience and mutual understanding. As a key example of why this is important, recent movements by both Catholics and Eastern Orthodox has led to better understanding of Oriental Orthodox, be they “Nestorians” or “Monophysites”.
    If we as Churches who stayed together for ~1000 years can be gracious to those Churches who left in under 500 years, it behooves us to call each other to consider our first 1000 years. To that end, I am so grateful for the works of the Join International Commission for Theological Dialogue in the Catholic and Orthodox Church. Following our bishops and our theologians in this manner, we can work it out, of this I am convinced. That we have the sacraments does not mean that we have all of the truth nailed down completely. In fact, as an advocate of apophatic theology, the notion of hammering the truth down completely is foreign and is untrue. :)

    2) Regarding Holy Orders, some of you have emphasized that there is more mystery to the mystery of holy orders in the East, in that considering certain sacraments invalid is not a clear cut issue. To that I would offer a hearty Amen, and in my article I stated that patristic sources are important. One example would be St. Basil’s so-called “first canonical epistle”. In this, St. Basil the Great talks about which groups of heretics possess real baptism and orders. This would also speak to Michael Liccione’s question about whether there is a theological novum in the West or the East. My ultimate answer is that there is good ground for both sides to embrace this more mystical view, and as I said at the end, I thank God for men like Archbishop Alfeyev who do grasp this even now before reconciliation.

    Once we get to the point of seeing that we share the sacramental life with God, we can really scratch our heads and ask why we do not share the sacramental life with each other. Now, as to my examples of Fr. Seraphim Rose–I used him not to create a straw man, but to go to the source of dialogues that I myself have had as an Eastern Catholic with Orthodox friends. As a former Protestant, I have a special place in my heart for former Protestants who have embraced Orthodoxy, for we share a similar root. The biography of Fr. Seraphim Rose was lent to me while worshipping with some Antiochian Orthodox Christians who held a seminar on Fr. Rose’s analysis of Tao philosophy earlier this year. It was recommended to me, and so read it I did. Was there a more representative way of looking at things? Perhaps. Was there a more historically rigorous analysis of the canons that could have been included? Sure. But in my interface with converts, this man who will most likely be canonized was pointed to as a source of inspiration. And don’t get me wrong–I am greatly inspired by him, no matter what he said about the Popes and statements of Vatican 2, etc.

    Was mentioning rebaptism unfair or not representative of Orthodox? If you think so, I could have said something different, like a consideration of the jurisdictional arguments of the past and the present. Does America belong to the Ecumenical Patriarch because it was a “barbarian” land at the time of Chalcedon? Is Constantinople as New Rome the seat of the Primate of the East, or is Moscow the “third Rome”? Should Russia have refused communion with Bulgaria for having a Patriarch (this is more of a historical quandary than a modern one that I learned about by reading Vladimir Soloviev, though the Ukraine could be a modern equivalent)? How about Western Orthodoxy? Is it abnormal to the point that there was a time (or perhaps it’s still in effect?) when some Greek Orthodox bishops have viewed participation in a Western Orthodox liturgy to be something that needs confession?

    These different sets of questions can lead to disagreements, disagreements that could be used to state that someone’s ordination was invalid because the person was not fully Orthodox. Do the historical canons called to by Perry Robinson override that, agreeing with St. Basil? If this is the case, I pray that this would be fully applied. But until it is applied, I am thankful for the Catholic vision that already speaks in the affirmative. I am also thankful for having a primus inter pares that is agreed upon. I do think that having His All Holiness might be a good source of unity, but as it stands I have heard of much opposition to his ministry as the Ecumenical Patriarch.

    As my quote of Fr. Seraphim Rose stated, we need the mind of the fathers. The mind of the fathers beckons us to reunite and to agree. Behold how good and pleasant it is, for brethren to dwell in unity!

    I love you all, and wish you a wonderful feast of the Dormition of the Mother of God this weekend (or in 13 more days past this Sunday)!

    J. Andrew Deane

  24. Perry,

    I started with Bishop Kallistos Ware’s the Orthodox Church and read many Orthodox theologians, not necessarily on the issue of baptism specifically, but among them are Schmemann, Florovky, Meyendorf and have spoken with Priests and, if you are familiar with Aristotle Papanikolaou I have spoken with him on the issue of original sin which is related. But for the sake of other readers here, and because you mentioned the differences in theology I wanted your explanation, because I am still not sure I have clear picture. I am not saying there is not one. But it was the answers I received from various sources that have left me puzzled given the language of the Creed. I am very open to being set straight and under no delusions that I have a fraction of the theological education you have. I am notheologian. But I am also open to the idea that the answer is easy and I am just very thick. But I will say most of them focused on the rite of entrance into the church which I fully agree with. But the remission of sins language seemed to be divorced from the why of infant baptism since the Creed makes clear the primary purpose of baptism.

    It became a puzzler when compared with the Catholic understanding of the Creed. Which led me to ask: In what way are sins are remitted in baptism for infants and small children given the Orhtodox understandings of original and actual sin. The latter of which infants and small children are not capable of.

    I will read your response and not pursue this further. I don’t want to distract from Andrew’s post any further.

  25. To David (#19) above:

    I know I am not Perry, but I would like to comment, briefly, that the Orthodox view of original sin is rather different from the Western idea of original sin. We inherit neither the exact sin nor the guilt for the sin of Adam. Rather, we inherit death and a fallen, corrupt world which entices us to sin (for the wages of sin is death). Sin is “missing the mark, the standard”. And our nature (that which is inherent to the created thing) has not suddenly become “not good” or “totally depraved”, but has become sick and needs healing; restoration.

    Remission: from Latin [i]remittere[/i] to send back, from re- + mittere to send; to restore to a former status or condition… For God created us, and called us “good”.

    In Fr Meletios Webber’s wonderful book [i]Bread & Water, Wine & Oil[/i], the chapter on Birth and Baptism explains, beautifully, both the practical reasons and the spiritual reasons we baptise infants.

    Practical reason: to make them Disciples.

    Spiritual reasons: speaking not just to the symbolism of the water (cleansing, purification, thirst quenching, the child having been protected and nurtured in the waters of the womb…), but to the the “role” each participant carries in baptism: the priest as St John the Baptist/Forerunner, the one being baptised, as Christ.

    Now…lest you think this is in some way blasphemous, it isn’t. For St Paul stated how we go down into the water, dying, and come up out from the water, rising…all in Christ, literally sharing in both His death (the Old Man) and His resurrection (the New Man). How better for the neophyte, the newly illumined, to find their identity in Christ than to be in that same place Christ was at that first baptism, that first mystery/sacrament?!

    The newly baptised is now a Child of the Kingdom…a complete, nothing witheld, member of the Body; a Disciple of Christ…following the example of the New Testament which tells us how entire households were baptised. Therein, as well, lies the reason why no child, even an infant in arms, is exCOMMUNicated from the Eucharist but partakes from the moment they are baptised.

    The Christology in these doctrines requires much more than what is available in a combox. I highly recommend Fr Meletios’ book for a simple and accessible explanation of these things.

    And may God forgive the errors in my writings…please pray for me, a sinner.

  26. All,
    I don’t like side tracks in posts, but do think discussing doctrinal issues like original sin are worth considering if they do not distract. For my part in this debate, I am connected to Holy Resurrection Monastery in Valyermo, California. A hieromonk there, Fr. Maximos, wrote a master’s thesis on this very subject. It focuses on the idea of involuntary sins as seen specifically in St. Maximos the confessor, and shows how there is room for mutual understanding between East and West. The link to Fr. Maximos’ thesis is here: http://hrmonline.org/involuntarysins#attachments

    Blessings,
    J. Andrew Deane

  27. I’ve been digesting Jonathan’s article and may comment more later. But first,

    Tim said:

    Also, for many of us Catholic converts, explaining the ‘why’ from “Reformation to Rome” includes explaining the ‘why not’ from “Reformation to Constantinople.”

    Is it the Catholic position to give advice on “why not” to go to Orthodoxy? Correct me if I’m wrong but I thought the Catholic position was that there is a unique subsistence of the Church in the Catholic Church but that other Churches which have preserved Apostolic Succession are also part of the Church. If that is the case, would it not be the Catholic position that being part of the Catholic communion is a fuller experience of the Church? So, would it be proper to try to convince people not to enter Orthodoxy since it, according to Catholic theology, shares in the Body and Blood of Christ also in the Eucharist?

    Jonathan’s thesis, as I understand it, is that he believes the Catholic Church has preserved a more correct view of Holy Orders which ensures a more catholic perception of the Apostolic Churches and that this is a weakness in the Orthodox Churches. Still, according to the article (and as I understand Catholic theology) Orthodox Christians have a full sacramental life. Again, if, according to this view, Orthodox Christians are part of the Church (but lacking the fullness), is it proper to try to convince people not to become Orthodox? Would it not be more appropriate (if one accepts this theology) to say that becoming Catholic might be a better choice?

  28. Dave,
    Thanks for your comments. To answer this fully one ought to consider the Balamand statement. It operates under the assumption that the full sacramental life is in both East and West, and as such looks to proselytism as subpar, despite having reservations on both sides about the fullness of the other. The full text, in case you’ve not seen it, is here:
    http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/chrstuni/ch_orthodox_docs/rc_pc_chrstuni_doc_19930624_lebanon_en.html

    Blessings,
    J. Andrew Deane

  29. Dave, we believe it is right to be in communion with St. Peter so yes, we definitely say that you should be Catholic over Orthodox but not that you should be Western over Eastern. Also, as Dr. Deane has stated before, we can rejoice when someone becomes Eastern Orthodox because they have entered, as you said, into the sacramental life of Christ. I would not try to argue someone out of being Orthodox necessarily but if the occasion arose, I would share my beliefs on why I think they should opt to be in communion with the See of St. Peter.

    One reason why the Orthodox-Catholic discussion is pertinent in a setting geared towards Reformed dialogue is that the Reformed often use bad arguments against the Catholics such as “Well the East believes X” when often they [the East} don’t actually believe those things and even when they do, it doesn’t mean what the Reformed think it means. Eastern Orthodox Christians are not just Protestants who chant and have beards.

  30. One reason why the Orthodox-Catholic discussion is pertinent in a setting geared towards Reformed dialogue is that the Reformed often use bad arguments against the Catholics such as “Well the East believes X” ….

    We also hear a lot of arguments about “the East” as if the directional indicator represents a complete geographical resistance to Rome so strong and uniform that it must be evidence that the Catholic Church’s distinctives are medieval developments unheard of in the East before the 9th century. Any post that talks about Eastern Catholicism is helpful in clearing up that kind of misconception.

  31. Jonathan,

    You wrote:

    “Fr. Seraphim’s emphasis on finding the “mind of the Fathers” sounds wonderful (and it is truly the ultimate answer to all problems in the world), but of course his opponents would have said that they were doing the same thing. This shifting perspective sadly shares the subjectivity and individualism of Protestantism, as individuals or groups end up making different conclusions about the source of the Church when the standards are anything but Apostolic Succession.”

    How is the so-called individualism of an Orthodox layperson different from your position as an individual interpreter of Magisterial teaching? And is it not the individual’s subjective responsibility to apply the criteria of Vatican I to distinguish real from apparent magisterial pronouncements? It doesn’t seem impossible that the individual can err in interpreting or identifying such pronouncements.

    I can think of at least one major debate in contemporary Catholic theology about interpretation of Magisterial teaching off the top of my head: the theology of world religions in Vatican II. Absent another statement issued from the Pope regarding how to resolve this dispute, the arguments must be weighed by the individual in order to discern which side correctly interprets the Pope. And even if such a statement were issued, it would itself require intellectual competence to be understood by laity and clergy that lack the petrine chrism; and they could dispute how to accurately understand this authoritative interpretation.

    The point is, I don’t think that the Roman understanding of the papacy evades the problem of the need to discern when and how infallible authority has been exercised. But neither of us is in the same situation as a Protestant, who must deny that there are any infallible theological formulations other than the words of the Old and New Testaments (a view that makes the existence of a formalized biblical canon that is Christian doctrine, or of any authoritative interpretations of Scripture, difficult to uphold). It seems that both of us believe that some degree of intellectual competence is required by individuals and groups to grasp the meaning of a theological formulation, and that the Church’s teachings can be misinterpreted as well as misidentified. Infallible interpretations of doctrine may increase the degree of clarity about the correct understanding of Christian teaching in comparison with Protestantism, (which has immense practical importance) but it doesn’t totally remove the possibility of misunderstanding or misinterpretation on either side.

    It seems that the question we differ on is how ecclesial infallible authority is exercised, and how this exercise is recognized. Who is correct in this dispute can be determined either by demonstrating internal inconsistencies in a given position (ie. has a Pope ever taught heresy while seemingly satisfying all of Vatican I’s conditions? Do the Orthodox accept as dogma something that seems like it is not taught as the consensus of the Fathers?) or appealing to a common standard that seems to imply the truth of one view (for instance, does any Ecumenical Council we both accept deny, explicitly or implicitly, something that Vatican I dogmatically says about the papacy? Does any Ecumenical council both sides accept state that something is true about the Pope that is incompatible with Orthodox dogma?). Would you agree with me that this is the correct way to frame the issue?

  32. MG (Michael, I presume?),
    Thanks for stopping by. First, I think that last sentence needs reworking. It is not inevitable that Orthodox resort to a Protestantism of sorts. That this can happen does not mean that it should. But with that being said, to me it is striking that even if Orthodox were to agree that, say, the Ecumenical Patriarch is worthy of leadership as primus inter pares, there would be hesitation about making new proclamations because councils trump all (rightly so, in my opinion). For example, with the particulars of the rebaptism issue, Perry Robinson rightly asked me to go through the canons of ancient councils to rightly identify what to do. But is looking at canons that talk about Cathari etc. the same thing as understanding what Orthodox should think about Catholic sacraments? It ends up being arguments by analogy at the end of the day. I hope and pray that Orthodox can get to the point of having a synod on this issue of who their separated brethren are in their estimation, for the sake of Catholics, Oriental Orthodox, etc. As Fr. Gregory posted above, if that happens, I too hope that our sacraments will be approved, and I pray that more contentious sects would see the light.

    As to the source of ecclesial infallible authority, as an Eastern Catholic I actually am completely fine with the Orthodox desire for more conciliarity, and I think that Pope John Paul II’s writings in Ut Unum Sint are both open to a better formulation, as is the “Ratzinger Proposal” which was put forth by Pope Benedict in his former life as Cardinal Ratzinger. If you’ve not read those, I urge you to do so. With that being said, the real means to get to that point of agreement will be the blood, sweat, and tears of the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue.
    This video by Metropolitan Kallistos gets me excited about the prospects of alignment and agreement, at least: http://www.oltv.tv/id905.html

    In IC XC,
    J. Andrew Deane
    p.s. Regarding the particulars of the issue surrounding world religions, I think as always we need to emphasize both/and. But you are right—if a simple formulation has only been briefly touched upon in a conciliar setting (or in a proclamation of source), there is a sense where the faithful has to choose what to make of it. But then again, as Catholics we are forbidden from breaking unity when there is a fork in the road, exegetically speaking. This is why transcendence of sacramental love is so key to me-it calls us to continue on in love even when we see shortcomings of holiness or doctrine within the Church.

  33. J. Andrew Deane,

    1. Do you take the work of the Joint theological Commission to be binding on Rome in all of its recommendations and judgments?

    2. If there is good ground for both, then the point of the original article seems to fall flat. There seems to be good patristic evidence both prior to Augustine and after Augustine that the baptism of heretics and those outside the church were invalid. Basil is just one of many fathers who held such a view. Other names like Cyprian, Athanasius, Cyril (of Alexandria) and such come to mind quite readily And that this view and practice was continued in the East up to our modern times. If so, then the apologetic thrust of post is greatly diminished

    3. Supposing that using Fr. Rose traces the path of many a convert or is something that they will encounter, I still fail to see how it suffices to make a good argument. How do we get from, they encountered something he had a problem with, to, this is a problem for Orthodox theology in principle? It seems rather you’d need to establish via normative sources what in fact the Orthodox position is or isn’t. Then argue from there, say given an established denial of indelibility, that such and so consequences follow in the context of Orthodox theology. That is, there might be other considerations that meet your concerns or there might be legitimate theological motivation for denying indelibility. So for example, is it possible to be in communion with the See of Rome while excommunicating the Pope? That is, is there a difference between the See and its occupant? If so, what is it that would enable a council to excommunicate a sitting Pope and still claim communion with the See of Rome? In other words, what is the relationship between person and nature relative to the grace of ordination? An answer to that question will turn on Christological concerns and structures. If so, then there is a lot more ridding on the question of indelibility in the other direction than the post leads one to believe.

    3.a. The canonization of Fr. Rose is irrelevant. First, because not all of his theological views are beyond question in other areas, let alone what he knew or didn’t know on this question. Second, because being a saint doesn’t imply theological perfection. Gregory of Nyssa is a saint as is Augustine, but both taught erroneous views that Rome rejects. So noting that he might be canonized by the Orthodox seems irrelevant.

    3.b I wasn’t asking for a rigorous analysis of the canons, but the fact that principle evidence was left out which could lead one to think that the Orthodox view was some kind of later addition due to Romaphobia. In fact, this seems to me to be the drift of the post, that the Orthodox have lost a genuine doctrine and practice. It seems to me that there are plenty of counter examples on the other side. Take female altar severs, which seems to have been condemned as “evil” by past popes. (Alletae Sunt, sec. 29) In any case it, among other things is an innovation beyond questions as none of the Orthodox churches have it and none of the Monophysites or Nestorians do either. It seems to me that arguments like this merely move around the fringe of what separates us.

    3.c Do jurisdictional problems pose an in principle problem for the Orthodox or merely a practical problem? Did Rome always enjoy the same jurisdiction or did that wax and wane as councils and emperors judged or as political and religious situations changed? Are jurisdictional squabbles new to the church or something ancient? Again, in asking if you should have mentioned these things, the question misses the point, namely addressing something of substance that divides us or that places Catholicism in an in principle better theological position. Do Catholics take these jurisdictional matters to be something that separates us? In so far as the question of the validity of such and so bishop’s ordination may arise, the matter would still be directly and separately what the theology of orders is in Orthodoxy. Bringing in these practical problems only clouds the water and seems like an attempt to score non-irenic cheap points.

    3.d. As for Soloviev, he advocates a number of views that are material heresy by either Orthodox or Catholic standards btw.

  34. J. Andrew Deane,

    The Balamand agreement also indicates that the method of Uniatism is unacceptable and second, that Catholics shouldn’t seek to convert the Orthodox. What then is the purpose of the post?

  35. Laura (#25)

    Thank you for the response. I do appreciate it.

    I want to respond as briefly as possible because I don’t want to further deviate from the topic.

    We are in agreement on most of what you wrote. However, it is the sort of answer I was referring to in my response to Perry. As I understand it the Orthodox have a pretty clear belief that infants and small children are not capable of sin so there is nothing to remit – even given your definition. If the Creed said “one baptism for the remission of the effects of sin” I think your case would be made. Again, I do agree that Baptism brings one into the Kingdom. But I cannot see how the language of the Creed is focusing on this aspect of the effect of Baptism. It is both/and. The effects of baptism are both. Our sin is washed away and we are brought into the kingdom. But the specific language of the Creed is something I see as problematic for some Orthodox because a sharper distinction regarding the Fall was a later, post schism emphasis. Back when I struggled with it, it reminded me, perhaps unfairly, of how the Presbyterian Pastor who baptized my oldest daughter spent more time explaining what baptism did not do than what it did.

    There is much ink spilled about the filioque and changing the Creed, but it seems to this layman that the Catholic reciting the “for the remission of sins” has a much more obvious and clear understanding of these specific words.

    Let me be clear that I don’t reject the Orthodox understsanding of Baptism. But I do see many modern Orthodox suppressing the full understanding of it’s effects. Specifically given the language of the Creed. The focus is on remitting the effect not the sin.

    I know this is a bigger discussion about original sin. But I think the language of the Creed is a very important part of this. I hope there will be future articles or posts focusing on this subject.

    Please forgive my typos.

    Blessings,

    David

  36. Perry,
    Let me first respond to your smaller comment, as it is manageable with my time frame. Converting the Orthodox makes no sense in my brain. I thank God that you have the fullness of the sacramental life, assuming you are a faithful Orthodox.

    The purpose of the post is to explain why I am not Orthodox. That you do not need conversion does not mean that I wouldn’t explain my sense of the shortcomings of Orthodoxy-as I see it, Orthodox need communion with more Christians, Orthodox and otherwise. The argument is that Catholic vision supports that greater sacramental view via a “principium unitatis” for one, but also (as this article points to) a respect of the sacramental life of those Churches with whom she does not currently share full communion.

    So no, this is not some kind of Catholic altar call post where all Orthodox are supposed to leave their Churches today. It’s a sort of pot-stirring post, for better or for worse. It, combined with my first post regarding Orthodoxy that you commented on quite a bit (without asking me why I was writing that one back in March), is an attempt to help us see each other better. It is, in a sense, a narrative of how I ended up where I ended up when I left Presbyterianism, and why I did not end up as Orthodox. It was, again, written with much fear and trembling. I know that these issues can be sources of confusion, in a complex ecclesiology/sacramental view. With time, I pray that we’ll love and respect each other more. It’s a two way street and I know that I have a lot to learn. I would like to not do that learning alone, with only a pile of books next to me.

    In IC XC,
    J. Andrew Deane
    p.s. One other point-Though the Balamand document called for Uniatism as a model to end, I hope it’s also clear that Balamand stated that we have a right to exist. In this country that’s not as much of an issue, but still….

  37. The thought just occured to me- not at all profound- that each of us already believes that these matters will be resolved and actually everything we need to resolve them is available right now for each of us. It makes me wonder why it doesn’t happen NOW (as well as all the •NOW• in the past 1000 years). For my part, and my part alone, I would say that what is wrong with Christ’s Church is •Me•-a la GK Chesterton. Too simplistic???

  38. Dave,

    I’d recommend reading Maximus the Confessor’s Ad Thalassium 42, which is contained in Blower’s cheap SVS, On the Cosmic Mystery of Jesus Christ, on how the Orthodox understand “original sin.” I’d also take a look at the writings of Diadochus of Photike on baptism.

    I am speculating what you take to be problematic for the Orthodox in the phrase in the creed, “for the remission of sins” with respect to children. In Catholic theology ISTM there is no remission of sins in baptism for infants since they have committed no sins (please note the plural) but only the inherited guilt (and corruption) of our first parents. If that is so, I see no reason why it would be any problem for the Orthodox since the question of whether guilt in some sense is inherited from our first parents or not doesn’t turn on “sins.” That is, your reasoning would present the same problem to Catholic theology since it also maintains that infants have no “sins” (actual sins) to remit.

    Second, the clause in the Creed is directed mainly to the remission of sins in adult baptism since it is taken as the prototype of baptism, particularly in the NT for example. I would think that Catholics would agree that infant baptism is included under it but I’ll leave that for Catholics to gloss. The intention of the Creed then seems to me to be relative to adult baptism primarily. That said, the issue then is what is the relation of the divine energies in baptism to the child’s inherited corruption (since for the Orthodox there is no inherited “analogous” guilt)? That question doesn’t seem to be either particularly problematic or motivated by the clause in the Creed.

    As for the post-schism sharper distinction, I’d recommend looking at John Chrysostom on “original sin” and the effects of baptism.

  39. J. Andrew Dean,

    If converting the Orthodox makes no sense to you, then it seems to follow that converting heretics and schismatics (Orthodox by Catholic lights) makes no sense to you, or that converting those who have a significantly defective theology of Orders, as such is thought by you to be a sufficient motivator to become Catholic, makes no sense to you. I am genuinely having trouble making sense of what you write here in relation to the post. I am not clear on how you put these two together or how you partition off converting the Orthodox on this basis from converting Protestants.

    If the problem supposed problem of indelibility is sufficient to become Catholic and not Orthodox, then why isn’t it a sufficient reason for the Orthodox to become Catholic? If not the latter, I can’t see why it would be true in the former.

  40. The original sin/infant baptism issue should, I believe, come off this table. For there is no doctrinally significant difference between Catholicism and Orthodoxy on the issue. For one thing, neither Catholics nor Orthodox hold that infants have any actual sins to remit. Moreover, the Catholic Church teaches that original sin is not “a personal fault” in those who inherit it (§CCC 405).

    When the Council of Trent defined (Decree on Original Sin, Canon 5 [1546]) that “in baptism, the guilt of original sin is remitted,” the word translated as ‘guilt’ is reatus, not culpa. In Roman law, to be reatus means to be liable to or actually under an indictment or a sentence; culpa refers to actual guilt for wrongdoing. I explain the significance of that distinction for Catholic theology here: http://mliccione.blogspot.com/2007/04/development-and-negation-vii-original.html.

  41. MG (#31):

    …I don’t think that the Roman understanding of the papacy evades the problem of the need to discern when and how infallible authority has been exercised.

    That problem, while real, arises in a narrower context than you seem to allow. There is no difficulty in discerning that the Magisterium teaches infallibly when defining dogma intended to bind the whole Church. The very form of such dogmas is traditional and well understood: “If anyone denies that P, let him be anathema” or some relevantly similar conditional. Such dogmas can be propounded either by a general council ratified by a pope, or, much more rarely, by a pope unilaterally. But all such definitions are acts of the extraordinary magisterium. The problem arises when the question is how to discern when the ordinary and universal magisterium (OUM) has taught infallibly.

    It’s not surprising that the theologically untutored have difficulty with that question, because it wasn’t until Vatican II that the Magisterium itself explicitly addressed the matter at all, in Lumen Gentium §25, and it wasn’t until 1995 that any representative of the Roman Magisterium applied V2’s criteria to a particular case: that of women’s ordination. Theologians themselves disagree about the clarity and significance of such a recent development. But it’s not difficult to show how the issue must be resolved.

    If the question which doctrines count as OUM-infallible were always a matter to be left to the individual discernment of the faithful, then the question would essentially be left to private opinion. If it were left at that level, the category itself would be effectively empty. For private opinions, even those of individual bishops and popes, are fallible; so if the question which doctrines are OUM-infallible were left to private opinion, then the doctrines themselves would remain a matter of opinion, which they couldn’t be if they are infallibly taught by the OUM as binding on the whole Church. So if there is such a thing as a doctrine that’s OUM-infallible, the Roman Magisterium has to have the last word about how to apply the criteria for identifying it as such.

    As I’ve said, so far there’s been only one explicit statement from Rome to that effect. But there are other signs, such as Evangelium Vitae §57 (1995) and Ratzinger’s doctrinal commentary on Ad Tuendam Fidem (1998) that the way to apply the relevant criteria is taking shape.

    Development of doctrine in general takes time. Development of doctrine about various doctrines’ level of authority has taken still more time. That frustrates a lot of people because not all questions get answered fast enough to please anybody, much less everybody. But perhaps that’s how prudence would have it.

    Best,
    Mike

  42. All,
    I hope I didn’t cause confusion in saying that converting Orthodox makes no sense. That statement was not meant to relativize the teachings of our Churches. I am grateful for people who cannot in good conscience stay outside of communion with the Pope of Rome and have become Catholic after being Orthodox. As a Catholic I view such movements to be changes for the better, but in an ultimate sense I wouldn’t call it conversion. Balamand’s actual opposition was to “proselytism”. I don’t think anyone would call a lifelong Orthodox who became Catholic a “proselyte” at the point of them becoming Catholic. My main point is that if you think about things from that angle, there is a deep sacramental sense in which Orthodox are already converted to the full sacramental life, and as such you can’t convert the converted. This post was meant to stir the waters and ask whether this difference between the Orthodox and Catholic views that might help explain why I did not become Orthodox when I left Presbyterianism.
    In XC,
    J. Andrew

  43. Michael,

    The Orthodox rejection of inherited guilt doesn’t of itself turn on culpa or reatus. It in part turns on the appropriate categories for theology.

    Second, baptism is relative to the question of indelibility in orders. So for example, canon 7 of Constantinople I allows for the reception of Arians without rebaptism, but not Eunomians. The same is true of Apollinarians, but not Monatanists. Are the baptisms of the Arians valid but not the Eunomians? Are the baptisms of Apollinarians valid but not the Montanists?

    More directly, Basil for example writes that it has been judged that schismatics and heretics lost the ability to validly baptise and ordain even though they originally had valid orders. When they separated from the church, their ministers became laymen.

    “The Cathari are schismatics; but it seemed good to the ancient authorities, I mean Cyprian and our own Firmilianus, to reject all these, Cathari, Encratites, and Hydroparastatæ, by one common condemnation, because the origin of separation arose through schism, and those who had apostatized from the Church had no longer on them the grace of the Holy Spirit, for it ceased to be imparted when the continuity was broken. The first separatists had received their ordination from the Fathers, and possessed the spiritual gift by the laying on of their hands. But they who were broken off had become laymen, and, because they are no longer able to confer on others that grace of the Holy Spirit from which they themselves are fallen away, they had no authority either to baptize or to ordain. And therefore those who were from time to time baptized by them, were ordered, as though baptized by laymen, to come to the church to be purified by the Church’s true baptism.”

    Letter, 183

    There a number of other patristic sources across time that reflect this view. So it is hard for me to understand how the matter is as clear and direct as the above post sets out to make it. If the denial of indelibility is a problem for Orthodoxy, then it is a problem for the early church, and a good many fathers and a variety of conciliar decisions.

  44. Concerning baptismal regeneration, I have yet to hear a reconciliation between the Catholic (Augustine and Aquinas) and Palamas’s view of grace or rather, its relation to nature. I know they’re different. Palamites accuse Catholics of heresy as a result. Do Augustine and Aquinas even share the same understanding? I’d really like to hear a discussion on it.

  45. Dear Jonathan,

    I’d like to make contact off webblog. Could you email me and I’ll get back in touch?

    Thanks,

    Kevin Allen

  46. Jonathan,
    One of the comments I noticed was the one about Catholicism having a framework for more readily accepting other groups, or their sacraments, ordinations, etc. I don’t necessarily see that as a positive thing. There are a several groups that claim to have the stamp of “We accept you and your sacraments, because we really believe the same basic thing” from the See of Rome. Two that come to mind are the Nestorian Church of the East, and the Apostolic Johannine Gnostic Church. One calls Nestorius a champion of true Christological doctrine, and the other is openly gnostic, yet both claim a stamp of approval from the Pope. Given your comment about the Catholic framework of inclusion, I’m inclined to believe their claim. Actually, let me correct myself. The Church claim that the Pope (not sure which one) has declared their sacraments valid, and has made overtures for communion.
    Why I think this is not necessarily positive, is the willingness to lay aside truth in the name of love. Truth and love are inseparable, as both are in Christ. There are those who are able to articulate the Eastern understanding of Truth and Love as they exist in Christ, and not as philosophical categories, far better than I. I am not really even qualified to discuss the issue adequately, but bring it up to point out that there is a difference in the mindset of East and West on the issue of an open-arms policy (or framework) that goes beyond a surface appraisal that says, “we are more accepting, and you’re not.” Not that you are saying it in such uncharitable terms, I’m simply boiling down my understanding to a short statement.

  47. Jeremiah,

    I’ve never heard of the Apostolic Johannine Gnostic Church, but I do know that our relations with the Assyrian Church of the East (not “Nestorian Church of the East”) are based on the Common Christological Declaration of 1994. Have you read it? I’m no systematician, but it seems to express the orthodox understanding of the relationship between Christ’s two natures.

    Also, do you have any references for the claim that the Assyrian Church of the East actually champions Nestorius? The ACotE’s Wikipedia article says that the current Patriarch publicly denounced Nestorius upon his accession, citing a book by Henry Hill called “Light from the East.”

    As for the approval of their sacraments, this is similar to the ecumenical agreements with the Coptic and Syriac (Oriental) Orthodox churches. It is not meant to be the norm; the points is that Patriarch Mar Dinkha IV and Pope John Paul II recognized that each church has valid holy orders. This means that the sacraments are valid and the faithful needn’t be deprived of the sacraments when it is necessary. Priests from our communions may not con-celebrate since we are not in full communion, but members of the ACotE can receive communion from Chaldean Catholic priests in circumstances of necessity and vice versa.

    Lastly, I’d like to reiterate something I said in #30 in response to your statement:

    I am not really even qualified to discuss the issue adequately, but bring it up to point out that there is a difference in the mindset of East and West on the issue of an open-arms policy (or framework) that goes beyond a surface appraisal that says, “we are more accepting, and you’re not.”

    As I stated in comment #30, the difference in mindset is not between east and west, as if it were a nice, uniform geographical divide. It is between those who acknowledge the authority of the successor of Peter and those who don’t. If there were a difference in mindset between Eastern and Western Christians, 22 of the 23 particular churches in the Catholic Church would not be Eastern.

  48. Hello all,
    I have some thoughts about some of the objections that came while I was dreaming of curing diseases at work today, as well as thoughts on one put forth by Fr. Gregory yesterday.

    With regard to the fact that some Eastern Catholic Churches came into existence for motivations that are less than fully based on doctrinal considerations, I concede this wholeheartedly. For one, we are complex people with multiple motivations. It’s why we don’t worry when we see our children partake of sacraments without full understanding/the right motivation. I would argue that the later history of Eastern Churches would show that even when times became difficult, there were/are many who wanted to stay in communion with Rome despite persecutions from Communists and others. In that sense, an immature faith has become more mature with the passage of time and growth in the uncreated light.

    With regard to the question about whether this sacramentalism is an inevitable argument for Catholicism–it’s not what I was trying to say. Obviously if I point out that Archbishop Hilarion Alfeyev understands this fact that there are sacraments in Catholicism and he’s not about to join the Catholic Church, it follows that I wasn’t trying to build an airtight argument to get Orthodox to not be Orthodox. It’s true though that for me I couldn’t be Orthodox when I saw a greater sacramental appreciation of the Apostolic Churches in the Catholic world as opposed to my grasp of Orthodoxy. But there is a sense in which the argument “fails” whenever someone like Archbishop Alfeyev holds to respect of other Apostolic Churches, Catholic and otherwise. But that the argument “fails” would only be true if my goal were “victory”, “success”, etc. In contrast, the truest victory in the world is for us to grow in love for each other. For us to be One as Christ and His Father are One. If an Orthodox were to think about this problem and “only” see that we have sacramental life as Catholics, that “only” is a big “only”. Sure, it would be even better for us to be in communion, but I will leave that in God’s hands, and the consciences of those with whom I interact. Perfection is endless growth in the good, and I will not judge those who are growing in the good, even when elements of their growth do not include every aspect of goodness. Further, if we get to the point where we all esteemed the sacramental life of each other, it will really force us to ask–why are we not in communion? What sacrifices could be made to erase a history of division? I hope to be a part of that erasure process–to me that is a greater good than some sort of cosmic tally of “converts”.

    Lastly, my citation of the Balamand Statement and the Joint International Commission—it’s not authoritative, but it is powerful. It’s powerful that so many jurisdictions of Catholicism and Orthodoxy are talking. I hope and pray that this set of dialogues about East and West will lead to a 21st century council of Florence of sorts that, combined with the actions of those of us who are laypeople who love the idea of unity, would lead to an agreement that is backed by both bishops and housewives.

    Thanks for your thoughts, again.

    In XC,
    J. Andrew Deane

  49. In regards to the wording of the Creed in regards to baptism, it must be remembered that the wording of the different parts of the creed were formulated in direct response to issues which were tearing away at the Church. To the best of my knowledge, infant baptism was not one of those issues, so it seems unfair to challenge the understanding of infant baptism in the Orthodox Church based on the wording of a part of the creed which was written to address an entirely different issue.

  50. One reason why the Orthodox-Catholic discussion is pertinent in a setting geared towards Reformed dialogue is that the Reformed often use bad arguments against the Catholics such as “Well the East believes X” ….

    Also, in my experience, Orthodox anti-Catholics often employ polemical arguments straight out of Lorraine Boettner. There are remarkable similarities between Protestant anti-Catholicism and its Orthodox counterpart — such striking similarities, in fact, that I sometimes wonder whether the two groups are reading from the same playbook. :)

    Andrew–re the Balamand Agreement: I was under the impression that this was not only non-authoritative but actually considered problematical. More recent (and more official!) documents such as Dominus Iesus and the Vatican’s clarification thereof point out that Catholicism represents the fullest fullness of the Faith (so to speak) while Orthodoxy, though VERY VERY close, is not 100% there by virtue of its rejection of the papacy. Obviously, then, a strong case can be made for Orthodox becoming Catholic, and it is not quite accurate to say that they needn’t or shouldn’t. (Not that you were saying this, but just thought I’d point out…)

    Our Lord’s will is for all to be completely One, visibly and organically as well as spiritually, so the age-old call remains: As VCII states, we believe that all men and women are called to become Catholic — called to communion, as this site’s title puts it.

    Personally, I am always immensely grateful when I encounter Orthodox who are NOT virulently anti-Catholic. I can respect Peter Gilbert’s reasons for not becoming Catholic (even as I pray that Grace will overcome them ;-)), and I wholeheartedly appreciate his charity and irenicism. “He who is not against us is for us.” Amen!!!

  51. Diane,

    Calling Orthodox who do not agree with Cahtolic teaching “anti-Catholic” is pejorative and doesn’t amount to an argument. Would it be charitable to refer to Catholics who argue against Orthodoxy as “Anti-Orthodox Catholics?” Frankly it is noxious.

    Second, few if any Orthodox argue taking arguments from Boettner. I never have. In fact, historically, the dependence is the other way around, that Protestants picked up (as did Medieval Gallicanism) arguments or positions from the East and developed them (often badly) During times of subjugation, the Orthodox then employed Catholic arguments somewhat imposed on them from Jesuits against the Protestants and vice versa.

    Third, “Anti-Orthodox Catholics” often employ the arguments from Protestants against Orthodoxy on a regular basis. This goes the other way too with “anti-Orthodox Protestants” picking up arguments from “anti-Orthodox Catholics” like James Likoudis for example.

    Fourth, the source of the argument is irrelevant in any case. If Boettner gave a good argument, itis good not because Boettner gave it. The same is true if Bryan Cross gives a good argument. Truth preservation has nothing to do with the utterance of the argument.

  52. To all who responded to my comments about baptism and the Creed – thanks for the food for thought. The points were well made and well taken.

    Michael I did read your linked article and it was quite helpful.

  53. Hi, Perry:

    I was not referring to “Orthodox who do not agree with Catholic Teaching” as “anti-Catholic.” Presumably virtually all Orthodox “do not agree with” some aspect or other of Catholic Teaching. Otherwise, they would be Catholic.

    No. I am referring to Orthodox anti-Catholics as “anti-Catholics.” The sort of people who fish their arguments (and rhetoric) out of the Lorraine Boettner playbook would certainly qualify as genuinely anti-Catholic, IMHO. I assume you would agree.

    Yes, Orthodox anti-Catholics do exist. They are all over the Internet, and they pop up in Real Life as well (albeit less frequently). If you have not encountered them, that’s wonderful. I suspect, however, that most Internet-savvy Catholics are not quite as fortunate as you in this regard.

  54. Mr. Deane,

    Interesting posts. For what it’s worth, it brings two thoughts to mind. Forgive my late additions to this conversation.

    First, whether the Orthodox view about other sacraments is incorrect may turn on how we view apostolic succession. If it really is just a formalistic line of ceremony going back through the years, then yes, other groups may have it. But if, as Orthodox would maintain, apostolic succession is a sign and safeguard of orthodoxy because it is a continuous, public proclamation of the same Faith by successive clergy and teachers, then schismatics and heretics would, in a sense, not have it. Certain “high church” Protestants can trace their ordinations back to the Apostles, I’m sure. But are we bound to respect their sacraments?

    Orthodox would simply maintain, I think, that one cannot be a successor to the Apostles and be heterodox. That reduces the Church to empty rites and formulas and seriously undermines the importance of the confession of Faith. In that sense, Catholicism lowers herself and Christianity to the level of incantation.

    Second, the article is very historically contingent, and even historically blind. Has the Catholic Church always been so accepting? Lest we forget, Catholics respected Orthodox enough to set up competing patriarchs. While the office of the Latin Patriarch of Constantinople was mercifully abolished in the 1960s, arguably when Rome began to put forward a softer face in matters ecumenical, the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem still exists. I find it hard to square a perceived respect for Orthodox clergy and sacraments with a wholesale replacement of such clergy, a replacement which persists in some jurisdictions.

    Forgive me.

  55. Stephen:

    Orthodox would simply maintain, I think, that one cannot be a successor to the Apostles and be heterodox. That reduces the Church to empty rites and formulas and seriously undermines the importance of the confession of Faith. In that sense, Catholicism lowers herself and Christianity to the level of incantation.

    I think you need to consider how that comes across. You’re implying two things: (1) Catholicism is phony Christianity simply for affirming that some bishops whom the Catholic Church herself considers heterodox are still bishops; and (2) Catholic bishops, being heterodox themselves, are not really bishops. Now I know for a fact that not all Orthodox bishops and theologians believe either (1) or (2). So, aside from the question whether (1) and (2) are actually true, you could at least have had the humility to present your position as your opinion, rather than as the official teaching of Orthodoxy.

    While the office of the Latin Patriarch of Constantinople was mercifully abolished in the 1960s, arguably when Rome began to put forward a softer face in matters ecumenical, the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem still exists. I find it hard to square a perceived respect for Orthodox clergy and sacraments with a wholesale replacement of such clergy, a replacement which persists in some jurisdictions.

    There still is a Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem because there are still Christians in that area who want to be in communion with Rome. It does not imply that the Orthodox bishops in and around Jerusalem ought not to be there.

    Your attitude is truly insulting to Catholics. No wonder you ask for forgiveness.

    Best,
    Mike

  56. Perry (#43):

    From a Catholic standpoint, answering the question whether heretics may validly baptize depends on the nature of the heresy. Thus, the Church has ruled that Mormons and Unitarians cannot not validly baptize, but that most Protestants and all Orthodox can. In the Middle Ages, the Church denied that Cathar baptism is valid, and would doubtless hold the same about various Gnostic sects today.

    As for the patristic record, the consensus patrum was not that no heretics may validly baptize. You yourself have indicated as much; again, the matter depended on the nature of the heresy. The question of exactly which heretics may and which may not validly baptize hinges on that of authority: i.e., who has the authority to determine that a given heresy is sufficiently far from the apostolic faith to warrant saying that its adherents do not intend to do what the Church does in conferring baptism.

    Best,
    Mike

  57. Oops: “cannot not” should just read “cannot.”

  58. Steven,
    Thank you for visiting our site. I had some brief comments that I wanted to make.

    First, with regard to ways in which Catholics have not esteemed Orthodox, you are completely right. I mentioned at several points that this is a failure of Catholicism to be true to their principles. To be completely blunt, if I were a Protestant living in the time of the more unloving periods of Church History, listening to the call to Tradition I might have converted to Orthodoxy out of shock for how things have transpired in East/West Relations. This is such a hypothetical in my situation, but let’s be honest. As wrong as I think someone may be for not being in communion with the Pope of Rome, the Popes themselves have placed a stronger and stronger emphasis on the need for mutual forgiveness, because they have seen that travesties between Christians have blinded us from the truth (whether it be the truth of the primacy of the Pope of Rome on the side of some Orthodox, or the truth of the sacramental fullness that is in the life of the Orthodox, in the case of Catholics not loving the Orthodox enough). Asking for forgiveness on both sides of the equation implies that there has been wrong that has been done on both sides. As the beginning of my post put it,

    “There have been many historical tragedies of Churches ransacked and seized on both sides of the Catholic/Orthodox schism, and there has been much oppression of the Eastern Catholics by ungodly Communistic governments, but to recount these events with the purpose of stirring up anger would lose the vision of Our Lord’s. This vision has sought, is seeking, and shall ever seek oneness between His children. On the other hand, to recount the vision of union and a love that transcended the hatred and differences between East and West, this is a story that is ever upon my mind.”

    Does this sound like historical blindness? I would disagree. It is a selective vision that wants to put aside past grievances and come to love one another in truth. On the part of Catholics I beg your forgiveness for anything but fervent love and respect for the Orthodox Churches.

    Second, I tried to emphasize that Apostolic Succession is a big difference at times between Orthodox and Catholics. The larger question that I mentioned in my comment last night (comment #48) is whether we who are in communion with the successor St. Peter have the sacraments. This is the overarching question that is important. Currently there are holy men on Mt. Athos who are upset with Catholics and even His All Holiness, the Ecumenical Patriarch, for the dialogue that has happened and is happening via movements like the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue. They judge such action to be heterodox, and as you put it, they see such heterodoxy as undermining the sacramental life. To the extent that Orthodox are getting involved with such judgements, my thesis here would be that the Orthodox will be trapped and judging themselves in addition to the Catholics. The quotes provided by Perry and Mike L. show the complexity of the matter, and if my emphasis on phrases like “indelibility” made you think that I view the sacraments to be “incantations” or magical (something I wrote against in the post, mind you), I am sorry, and hope that with time we will esteem each other as the brethren that we are, in Christ.

    In XC,
    J. Andrew Deane

  59. Michael L,

    You’ll need to point me to the statement made by me that heretics may validly baptize.

    As for the nature of the heresy, in Constantinople I, canon 7, what was the fundamental difference between the heresy of Arianism and Eunomianism? And why were say the baptisms of Apollinarians accepted, but Montanists not, since the latter was a far less serious heresy and the former was a serious Christological heresy?

    Did the church accept the baptism of Arians as valid but not Eunomians?

  60. Perry,
    For what it’s worth, I wonder if you could explain where Rome is guilty of heresy/whether you think that to be the case. And I’m not talking about imperfections, mind you, but heresy. And if it’s all one slippery slope from imperfection to heresy (in your view), how does that explain the various schools of thought that have risen and fallen within the West or the East?

    In XC,
    Jonathan

  61. J. Andrew Deane,

    Do you think this is the thread for that? Second, plenty of other Orthodox sources argued the point. Try the encyclical of the Eastern Patriarchs.

    http://www.orthodoxinfo.com/ecumenism/encyc_1848.aspx

    Second, I thought the point of your post was that the East was guilty of heresy in denying indelibility and such was a sufficient reason for Protestants, but not Orthodox, to convert to Rome and not Orthodoxy. If so, then I think that is the thesis, or your original intent should my understanding be off, that you need to defend.

  62. Jonathan,

    You wrote:

    “Thanks for stopping by. First, I think that last sentence needs reworking… and I pray that more contentious sects would see the light.”

    If it isn’t inevitable that the Orthodox resort to a Protestantism, then are you saying that your initial critique that I mentioned (Orthodoxy entails a Protestant subjective doctrine of private judgment because the individual must identify the consensus of the Fathers) is not valid?

    It would be nice to have official rulings about Roman Catholics and Oriental Orthodox with respect to baptismal validity. But there will always be borderline cases and new sects where the applicability of a rule must be decided by a competent judge in a position of authority. So I’m not sure that the current situation is as unfortunate as it may seem, or perfectly fixable in the way you suggest.

    And again, don’t Roman Catholics have to apply the rules analogically to borderline cases and new sects? This seems to require the same kind of intellectual competence and prudence of fallible humans trying to understand infallible teaching that the Orthodox rely on in their analogical application of ancient canons. So aren’t you in the same position as us?

    You wrote:

    “As to the source of ecclesial infallible authority, as an Eastern Catholic I actually am completely fine with the Orthodox desire for more conciliarity… This video by Metropolitan Kallistos gets me excited about the prospects of alignment and agreement, at least.”

    Sure, I realize that there is a sense in which Roman Catholic ecclesiology (especially as Vatican II speaks of things) is conciliar. Yet this does not necessarily mean (though it could mean) that it captures an authentically *patristic* understanding of conciliarity.

    But that’s not what I was getting. I’m interested in the question of whether or not you acknowledge the substantive, irreconcilable difference that I laid out. And I’m interested in whether or not you think that my suggestions for how to decide who has the correct ecclesiology is the proper method. What do you think?

    You wrote:

    “Regarding the particulars of the issue surrounding world religions… shortcomings of holiness or doctrine within the Church.”

    It seems possible that someone who claims to be rightly interpreting dogma is actually teaching heresy. In that situation, that person needs to be excommunicated. So the fact that a teaching is infallible and identified as infallible does not entail that the person who recognizes its infallibility correctly understands it. Would you agree that some (even if not all) interpretive forks in the road with respect to a Magisterial dogma can make a person complicit in heresy?

    The point I was getting at is just that Magisterial teaching requires intellectual competence to be grasped; and thus a Catholic can misidentify and misinterpret what you take to be infallible teaching. Would you agree that this is so, and that it is the same as the situation of the Orthodox who can misidentify and misinterpret what they take to be the infallible consensus of the Fathers?

    I agree about the importance of sacramental love, but I think that the sacrament should be shared between hierarchs that acknowledge the teachings of the faith. A group of hierarchs that does not teach (at an institutional, formal, dogmatic level) things contrary to the teachings of the faith should be admitted to the Eucharist; but if a group teaches things that are contrary, this difference in faith must be resolved before communion can begin.

  63. Michael L,

    Would you agree that even if the Magisterium gives formal and explicit teaching about how to apply the criteria for discerning an infallible council, that a particular Christian who is in submission to Rome needs intellectual competence and some moral fiber in order to correctly (a) identify that the Magisterium’s teaching about how to apply the criteria, and (b) interpret the Magisterium’s teaching about how to apply the criteria?

  64. Perry,
    This is not “the thread” for any sort of huge decision in the world. As I asked you whether you esteem Catholics to be heretics or merely imperfect, so would I say that my post was meant to argue that there is an imperfection in some parts of Orthodoxy with respect to Holy Orders. That does not make those Orthodox heretics, in my estimation of things. I drew that distinction and think that there are Orthodox who would say the same thing about Catholics.

    The point of my article is that whether you hold Catholics to be heretical or not, some Orthodox do make this assertion, to the point of concluding that our sacraments are lacking grace. Archbishop Alfeyev (as well as His All-Holiness?) and others do not agree, however. This thread might not hash out the differences between the Orthodox who have but given what I am saying about loving the Orthodox too much to be Orthodox, it would be helpful to know if I am interacting with someone who is part of the group that I described–the group that says we who are Catholic lack grace.

    So yes, this question of whether we are heretics in your estimation is very important, even if we can’t hash everything out via this forum. It’s important because if you charge Rome with heresy simpliciter, I can find other Orthodox who say that that is not the case. And as a Presbyterian, I saw this mixed message as an argument against joining an Orthodox communion.

    This video by Fr. Abbot Nicholas, an Eastern Catholic spiritual Father, presents a view of Rome (in my opinion) that respects both the East and the West. And he also argues that Catholics should be avoid calling Orthodox perspectives heretical. Documents like Ut Unum Sint agree with him, by the way. The clip is part 2, which is half way into the interview (and part 1 is good too), starting with the question of whether Eastern Catholics are allowed to call any Roman Catholic statements/teachings heretical.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XKEzS9o7ROU&NR=1

    In addition to Fr. Abbot, the hieromonk Fr. Maximos (whose work on involuntary sins I mentioned above) has a great interview on what it means to be Eastern Catholic, and how things relate between Orthodoxy and Catholicism. His thoughts on what it means to be a church is especially important in the journey to mutual respect:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sT0m9N_Kkmg&NR=1

    In XC,
    J. Andrew Deane

    p.s. I’m starting to wonder whether my homage to Kubrick was taken to be a literal statement, and not a broad artistic motif. For example, keep in mind that Mormon baptism is not valid to Catholics.

  65. Michael,

    In my post I was careful to not say that Orthodoxy necessarily has this subjectivism. I tried to say things like “this can happen”. I also qualified the statement to say that this Catholic vision can be shared by Orthodox.

    As I put it in the article,

    “I am also not saying that there are no Orthodox who share this vision-I am thankful for those Orthodox who have spoken out in support of this thinking such as Archbishop Hilarion Alfeyev of the Moscow Patriarchate.”

    You are right that there are borderline cases of being confused about jurisdictions, but what I am decrying is some sort of unified statement about 1.1 billion (or so) Christians, who are in communion with the Bishop of Rome. Numerically this is important, but of course in terms of the pentarchy this is also important. In verbal discourse you and I once argued as to whether the Pope is even the successor of Peter. The more I have meditated on this idea of the Pope of Rome NOT being the successor of Peter, the more I find that to be a) not very representative of Orthodox thinking, and b) logically odd. I say logically odd because it’s not as though Orthodox brought someone to Rome (or anywhere!) and said that since 1053, the “real” Pope is Patriarch X.

    So for those reasons of importance, I as a Protestant was unable to grasp how that sort of claim made sense of Christianity and world history. Take my own heritage. As someone who is from California and is related to Roman Catholics, what was I to think of the missions set up here? Was there greed? Sure. But was greed the heart of it all? Was there no grace? Now, I’m not saying that the spread of Catholicism to the New World has to have been a good thing at heart via the grace of sacramental life, but there should be an answer on this that can allow me, on principle, to thank God for that work, or to not thank God for that part of history which lives on today.

    Likewise, I wanted to know about Eastern Christianity. Was the work of those monks who prayed for the salvation of the world lacking grace? I knew that its allure and mystery drew me towards it, but ultimately it did not lead me to Orthodoxy, because I wanted to embrace both West and East historically (and today), and was not hearing that message from Orthodox.

    In Met. Kallistos Ware’s The Orthodox Church (written prior to his elevation, but still), the strongest answer on this subject given was that Orthodox tend not to deny grace outside of Orthodoxy, but to view the status of non-Orthodox as a black box. That was not a sufficient answer, in my opinion, and I did not want to be some sort of rogue Orthodox who wanted to go beyond the teachings of my fathers. Because of that, Catholicism “won” my heart. As I said to Perry, what I’m sharing is more of a narrative than an air tight argument with no contingencies. If Orthodox got together and affirmed grace in Catholicism, this article would lose its teeth. And the world would gain in love.

    As the last part of your comment emphasizes, this of course needs to come about by our hierarchs seeing that truth and love are connected. As my friend (who is an Antiochian Orthodox catechumen) Jeremiah put it in comment 46, truth and love are intimately connected. After all, God is Love, and Our Lord called Himself the way the truth and the life. This recent post by Fr. Steven Freeman makes that point very clearly: http://fatherstephen.wordpress.com/2010/08/05/knowing-god/

    So yes, I see some of the current formulations as misunderstandings between us, which are theological imperfections and not heresies. We as Eastern Catholics feel this particularly strongly. As I put above in my comments to Perry, the Monks at Holy Resurrection Monastery describe this situation very well. But just as much as I hope that my thesis dies (in the sense that it is no longer applicable), I hope and pray that these misunderstandings will die. The Ravenna document got people to agree about a sense of universal jurisdiction for the Pope of Rome. Their next statement will be describing how that jurisdiction was exercised in the first millennium. In this third millennium of the Church, may we see more love and more truth shared between us. At that point, we will be in full communion once again.

    In XC,
    J. Andrew Deane

  66. I have read with; interest, pain, angst, horror, and sadness, all of the comments here from both sides. My own opinion is that the core or base issue is soteriological and and has to do with dogma. Someone said that it’s all about the Trinity, who God is. Of course, the Eastern Orthodox have an entirely different way of viewing the Godhead. We take an apophatic approach to God. We approach our understanding of God by understanding what He is not. The model represented by the Filoque, is not the God that we worship! If we (all of us) are confused about who God is, or is not, or what the true implications of the Incarnation are, then we will be forever in debate and at odds with each other, and all of the thousands of Protestant Denominations as well. The fray is rife with bitter historical developments that have yet to be resolved. I was glad to see that the Pope returned Holy Relics to the East, where they rightfully belonged, along with an apology, but this still falls far short of making things right with the Orthodox. (Where is the rest of the stuff you took?) If in confession, a man steals 100.00 and seeks to make things right, does he only repay 25.00 so that everything will be ok?) That being said, we do need to Love each other and pray for unity. But! Love without the Truth, is not Love! It is something else! That, is what separates us.

    Seraphim

  67. Seraphim,

    An apophatic theological approach is by no means limited to the Eastern Orthodox. This is widely used not only among Eastern Catholic theologians, but Western as well. Also, we need to move past using language that implies that since we disagree on the Filioque that we worship different Gods. Even the Protestants worship the same God in spite of their many theological mistakes.

  68. J. Andrew Deane,

    For a direct answer, I take Catholics to be schismatics and herestics, just as the encyclical letter says. I haven’t seen anything that trumps that in terms of normative judgments in Orthodoxy, not to mention a good many other sources.

    You write that an “imperfection” in Orthodox teaching on orders doesn’t amount to heresy. But I don’t think this is a consistent position for you to take. Here is why. First, is the imperfection, practical or principled? If the latter, then we need to know, is it accidental or essential? If the latter, how can an essential defect in intention on Catholic grounds yield the conclusion that the doctrine isn’t heterodox and further that Orthodox retain valid orders? If on the other hand, the imperfection is practical or if principled accidental, then it is an insufficient reason for a Protestant who has say capitulated to the truth of the doctrine of Apostolic Succession to become Catholic as opposed to Orthodox. If you think it is an imperfection in “some parts” of the Orthodox Church then that line of thinking seems to fall prey to the fallacy of composition. Besides, lots of American Catholics (upwards of 60-70%) reject the doctrine of Transubstantiation if memory serves.

    I can’t see how going the route of what individual Catholics or Orthodox say will get us anywhere profitable. I am not bound, and neither are you, by such remarks. Nor is that sufficient reason or even a necessary one for taking what they say as Catholic or Orthodox teaching. It is akin to when Protestants pick out material from this or that Catholic writer, clergy or lay and then build up an argument against Catholicism from it.

    I think one needs to carefully gloss statements by say Patriarch Bartholomew on grace in the sacraments of Rome. First, because a number of Orthodox patriarchs used to say the same thing about Anglican sacraments. Second, because it was the Patriarch who also said that the Orthodox and Catholics are “ontologically different” which was a rather direct affront to Rome. There are other reasons as well, but I don’t put too much stock into such statements. Patriarchs can and have been wrong. Not a few Patriarchs tried to fudge the faith in order to achieve unity. Sergius comes to mind.
    To say that Catholics or Protestants lack grace is rather ambiguous. Do I deny the validity of Catholic orders? Yes. Does that mean that Catholics are without grace? No. Of course I don’t think Rome’s Protestant children are without grace either.

    It doesn’t matter if you can find other Orthodox who deny that Rome is heretical, anymore than I can find Catholics who affirm the validity of Anglican orders. Their opinion doesn’t trump various patriarchal encyclicals and decrees of councils. You seem to think that an Orthodox Christian one can just pick and choose which opinions he prefers and this is not the case. If you think it is, you’ll need to demonstrate it.

    To speak of “mixed messages” is rather ambiguous. If you wish to argue that the Orthodox Church has no principled mechanism for adjudicating normatively theological questions then you’ll need to make that argument. Further, if it were true, then it is not something you could establish by appealing to the views of any individual Orthodox theologian or collection of bishops.

    I don’t think Abbot Nicholas presents a view of Rome that is compatible with Orthodox theology, from top (the Trinity) to bottom (ecclesiology). He also seems to give up the ghost on it since he seems to imply that the East didn’t have the same theology and the reason the west did come to have the theology it did was for “historical reasons” and by that he doesn’t seem to mean, NT historical reasons, namely a conferral of the Petrine Chrism from day one. That is not the position of Satis Cognitum, which puts forward the theology of the Petrine Chrism as being present from day one and known to all the churches having a direct apostolic deposit. Likewise when he seems to play down papal supremacy saying that Vat I definition was defined in the context of “the western church” this seems to “fudge” a bit on Catholic teaching. It is not relevant if it was defined in the context of the problems of the “western church” by which I think he presumably means, the only true and licit church (Rome). What is relevant is what the documents teach and what their intended scope of application is. Rome seems to have taken those definitions to be applicable at that time and for a long time afterwards to the Easterners (as well as to Protestants) whether those bodies liked it or not. The main line of Catholic ecumenical thought has been to tweak the administration of papal universal jurisdiction and how the plenitude of power is implemented, rather than alter those concepts. So there is a kind of “slide” from the former to the other, which sometimes gives people the impression that Rome has changed its teaching. It hasn’t in the least. But the Orthodox object to the teaching and not merely to administration and so changing the administration is of limited ecumenical import. In any case, his answers elsewhere seem a bit evasive like on the immaculate conception. But Uniates try to live in two worlds and so this produces Uniates who tend to be more Orthodox than Catholic and vice versa. It will be interesting, as an aside, how Latin rite bishops (some of whom tend to be liberal) deal with the growing problem of Uniates who has a more conservative liturgy and liturgical praxis in the US.

    To turn things around, when asked if Latin Rite Catholics can reject or consider Eastern Catholic theology heretical, he doesn’t seem to know where the line is. (“And where to draw the line I don’t know.” 6:20-35) Now, this seems to be an analogous case to the case you brought up from Fr. Seraphim Rose. The Abbot doesn’t know where “the line” is as to finding out if Latin Rite Catholics can accuse Eastern Rite Catholics of heresy or not. Doesn’t this leave Eastern Rite Catholics in an unstable and uncertain position? Why not? It is an apt comparison since he is a priest and an abbot like Fr. Rose, so why doesn’t he know? If you produce Eastern (or Latin) Catholics who disagree with him, it seems that Eastern Catholics are not of one mind on the matter, right? And so that must imply that the Catholic Church isn’t of one mind on it. And so this is sufficient to keep a Protestant from becoming Catholic. Such a line of reasoning is obviously fallacious.

    So there is really nothing new or anything that moves the discussion on the papacy one way or the other. It doesn’t respect both because it fudges on both-the primary point isn’t about the application of papal primacy but the nature of papal primacy. The former is just window dressing and both sides know it.

    As for calling the Orthodox heretical or not, what are we to do with the anathemas of Lyon, Florence and various other Catholic statements which were intended to declare heretical Orthodox theological positions? We can also add a very large body of literature from Catholic theologians for the last 500 years at least that says as much. And if Catholics are not supposed to be doing so, then please write to James Likoudis and Co. to stop doing it.

    You write lastly that you reject LDS baptism as valid, well and good. But would you rebaptize an Arian or no? How about a Eunomian?

    For the recored, it is not that I am opposed to reunion in principle. Nor do I think that I couldn’t be mistaken. Rather I think that papering over problems with ambiguous terms is no way to achieve union. At best it will only create more schisms. Such is the testimony of history. The real way forward is to see if there is some third conceptual model that entails both views such that each view can be translated conceptually into the other without remainder. Only in this way will you be able to convince each side that they in fact share the same faith.

  69. Tim,

    When Seraphim speaks of apohatic theology limited to the East, he doesn’t mean by that the via negativa, which is a different gloss than what the East means by it. If Eastern Rite Catholics held to what the Orthodox called apophatic theology, they’d have to deny the Beatific Vision as we do.

    For someone like Albert (the Great) for example huperousia means “superessential being” or self subsisting being. For us, it is not being in any possible sense whatsoever. God is not-being at intra and that is not a denial of mere ens commune either. We disagree over how we interpret Dionysius for example.

  70. Tim,

    “Also, we need to move past using language that implies that since we disagree on the Filioque that we worship different Gods.”

    This would be so if we had a demonstration that adherence to the Filioque doesn’t in fact have that implication. Otherwise changing the language is useless and rather deceptive.

  71. Dear Tim:
    The Latins signed on to the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed, in Ecumenical Council, then added the Filoque later on their own. What made them change their mind? Ecumenical Councils imply the guidance of The Holy Spirit. You think that changing the model of The Godhead is trivial?
    Love without the Truth, is not Love!!!
    Seraphim

  72. Perry – I had heard that there was some disagreements between Orthodox and Catholicism. Not that I don’t appreciate the reminder. Apophatic theology is used by many who are in communion with St. Peter. That’s all I’m saying.

    This would be so if we had a demonstration that adherence to the Filioque doesn’t in fact have that implication.

    The question of whether or not we ought to accuse each other of worshiping different Gods is not dependent upon anyone’s opinion of the Filioque or whether the Catholic Church has demonstrated something to your satisfaction.

    Seraphim – I do not think that the issue of the Filioque is trivial, but that doesn’t justify accusing each other of worshiping false gods. If we are serious about praying for unity, the first thing we need to do is to have charity. I agree with your tag, “love without truth is not love,” but a charitable interpretation of the Catholic position would be at a bare minimum that we’re confused about the Filioque and simply need instruction – not that we worship a false god.

  73. For us, it is not being in any possible sense whatsoever. God is not-being at intra and that is not a denial of mere ens commune either.

    I take Orthodoxy very seriously. For that reason, I cannot take the above as Orthodoxy.

  74. Tim:

    I believe that the main problem with the filioque issue is that different Orthodox will give different doctrinal reasons for rejecting it. All Orthodox, of course, reject Rome’s unilateral interpolation of the phrase into the Creed on the ground that the papacy abused its authority in doing so. I actually agree with them about that on pastoral grounds, because it seems evident to me that the addition’s having been made without a council of East and West was a needless blow to church unity. But then there are the Trinitarian issues themselves.

    Some Orthodox, like the 9th-century Patriarch Photius, are radical “monopatrists.” They consider it heretical to hold that the Son has anything whatsoever to do with the Father’s origination of the hypostasis, as distinct from the activity, of the Spirit. That position is clearly incompatible with Catholic dogma. But by no means can it be said that all the Eastern Fathers were radical monopatrists. Some Orthodox, past and present, have been willing to accept as a theologoumenon the idea that the Spirit proceeds hypostatically “through” the Son, even though originating solely “from” the Father. They object to the filioque partly because it doesn’t make clear the difference between the Father’s monarchia and the Son’s secondary or mediating role in the procession. The phrase can thus be interpreted as positing a “double procession” of the Spirit from the Father and the Son in the same way, which would indeed be heterodox, as the Vatican’s most recent statement on the filioque implicitly acknowledges.

    I have my own view of how to resolve the issue with Orthodox who are not radical monopatrists, which I have developed on my own blog. But this thread is not the place to discuss that. I conclude here by saying that, if the Roman and Orthodox communions are to reunite, the filioque as it now stands will have to disappear from the Creed and be replaced by something clearer that respects moderate Orthodox sensibilities.

    Best,
    Mike

  75. Tim,

    To say that apophatic theology is used by many in communion with the Pope is again to equivocate or to accuse those who do of inconsistency for the reasons I specified above relative to the beatific vision. The concepts are prima facia not the same even if they are picked out by the same term. So I can’t see how your reply that some Catholics engage in “apophatic” theology really meets my remarks.

    As to the Filioque, it is not a question of my satisfaction, but that of the Orthodox Church, of which I happen to be a member. If your goal is to persuade people like myself then I’d think you’d want to give a demonstration first.

    Second, my point that the claims of heterodoxy cannot be removed in the way you suggested by “moving past” such language. What would license “moving past” such language (really not language at all but the said claim or thesis) except a demonstration that such was not the case? What are your candidates?

    As for charity, take a look at how Lyons and Florence describe those who maintain the Orthodox position.

    As for your remarks to Seraphim, Nestorius was confused too as to the implications of his theology. He never explicitly taught a two subject Christology, but he was responsible for the implications of this theology and taught heresy nonetheless. If Rome is confused on the Filioque, which is rather strange given Roman claims for the papacy, then this would not of itself prove to be exculpatory.

  76. Michael L,

    I am not clear how we get from you taking Orthodoxy “seriously” to the conclusion that my remarks are unreflective of Orthodox teaching. I do understand how one could conclude that they make no sense in say a Thomistic framework and a conclusion to that effect would probably follow. There is no inference from, “taking Orthodoxy seriously” to, “such and so thesis isn’t therefore Orthodox teaching.”

    The fact that different Orthodox give different reasons for rejecting the Filioque doesn’t amount to a demonstration that no one of them is or is not representative of Orthodox teaching. It is merely descriptive at best. Various Catholic theologians at the time of the Reformation gave a variety of reasons for rejecting this or that thesis advanced by Luther for example.

    I am not sure what is added to Saint Photius’s thesis by describing it as “radical.” Second, I am not sure that it is a “charitable” interpretation. In other works outside the Mystagogy, Photios does talk as if there is some kind of eternal relationship between the Spirit and the Son. Third, the “through” language in terms of hypostatic mediation has never of itself been found to be problematic by followers of Photios either, so it seems false to me to claim that Photios’ position is “radical” in denying that the Son has something to do with the generation of the Spirit’s hypostasis per se, except in so far as the Son isn’t a cause of the Spirit’s procession per se. But that isn’t radical but common to practically all Orthodox denials of the Filioque doctrine.

    Second, Maximus’ position is a denial of hypostatic origination (“procession”) and an acceptance of a “shinning forth” which qualifies as an eternal but non-hypostatic relationship, for which there is no principled reason to think Photios would have rejected it. Further, Maximus’ view as articulated by him and others never to my knowledge ever had a problem with the “through” language.

    Consequently, the space you are trying to create between Photios as a radical and others as more moderate doesn’t seem to be really present, especially since the latter historically took themselves to be following faithfully in the footsteps of the former, one manifestation of which was the Orthodox synod of Blachernae.

    The claim that the language of hypostatic mediation in the “through” language is a theologoumenon seems without support here.

    The Catholic position as I understand it and has been repeatedly represented to me, is not that the Son hypostatically mediates the Spirit in the Procession but rather that the Son hypostatically generates the Spirit in the Procession since the generation is with the Father as from one principle. The one principle is relative to the generation. To gloss it as an eternal hypostatic mediation apart from hypostatic generation is to deny the Filioque doctrine at least implicitly. The Son’s secondary “role” isn’t principally that of mediation relative to the hypostasis of the Spirit, but of generation as far as the Filioque doctrine is concerned.

    As for the text of the Creed, the Orthodox will accept nothing less than a return to the original text of the Creed and not another interpolation. A “hands off” approach to the Creed is best.

  77. Perry,

    To say that apophatic theology is used by many in communion with the Pope is again to equivocate or to accuse those who do of inconsistency for the reasons I specified above relative to the beatific vision. The concepts are prima facia not the same even if they are picked out by the same term. So I can’t see how your reply that some Catholics engage in “apophatic” theology really meets my remarks.

    The Orthodox Church does not have authority over the English language. I’m using the word according to what it means per the dictionary. We do use apophatic theology according to that definition. If you mean something else by it, then fine there’s some difference in what we mean when we say it. It is still true that Catholics use apophatic theology. I’m not claiming that there isn’t difference between our approaches.

    If your goal is to persuade people like myself then I’d think you’d want to give a demonstration first.

    This post is not an apology to try and convert the Eastern Orthodox to Catholicism. And if you think it remains un-demonstrated that we worship a different God… well I won’t lose any sleep over it. Plenty of Eastern Orthodox authorities would never say that.

    Second, my point that the claims of heterodoxy cannot be removed in the way you suggested by “moving past” such language. What would license “moving past” such language (really not language at all but the said claim or thesis) except a demonstration that such was not the case? What are your candidates?

    The “moving past” suggestion is not a suggestion to ignore serious differences over the Filioque or any point of contention. It is a plea to interpret the other’s position in a more charitable way or at least use more civil methods of discourse. If I were to dialogue with a Muslim on the topic of unity between Muslims and Christians, for example, I wouldn’t start by saying that Mohammed is a false prophet and Allah is a false god (irrespective of whether that’s true or not). I would even say that ‘moving past’ such language would be an acceptable term in that situation and that does not indicate that I think we just need to sweep such serious problems under the table. But this is much more true of Catholics and Orthodox – who share a common origin in the Apostles and who do, in fact, worship the same God, and whose schism is a major scandal to a world currently perishing in sin.

    It is our duty as followers of Christ to pursue unity and truth at all costs and by whatever means. That quest does not begin with accusations but with prayer, humble dialogue, and above all, charity.

    If Rome is confused on the Filioque, which is rather strange given Roman claims for the papacy, then this would not of itself prove to be exculpatory.

    That would be strange in regard to the papacy and not exculpatory in regard to the theological claim you’re making but it would be exculpatory in regard to my contention that we need to move beyond that language (and this should go without saying but I guess it doesn’t –) in this kind of dialogue.

  78. Perry,

    “Nor do I think that I couldn’t be mistaken. Rather I think that papering over problems with ambiguous terms is no way to achieve union.”

    Many, maybe most, arguments I see raised by the Orthodox against Catholicism such as ADS vs Essence-Energy, Filioque, – even the very complex historical interpretations regarding the nature (if any) of the Petrine ministry; often involve very, VERY, complex metaphysical and theological concepts. I mean I have read your interaction with quite a few different folks (Mike L. and others) on this site and elsewhere, where the conversational and cognitive distinctions become so precise that the argument begins plodding because both sides have to keep explaining what THEY mean by such and such a term. Now I recognize that such high-level cognitive distinctions are often indicative of theological/philosophical dialogue. Yet, it seems to me that such distinctions are just where philosophical/theological errors are most likely to occur – because they tax our conceptual framework. In my mind, simply recognizing this fact, as you apparently do (“Nor do I think that I couldn’t be mistaken“), naturally leads me to place more weight with that which has been formally recognized as “orthodox” doctrine – when deciding questions as to what rises to the level of justifying disunion – rather than with the technical details embedded in high-level philosophy/theology. I am thinking along the lines of St. Thomas (I know you are his biggest fan :>) who said:

    “It was necessary for man’s salvation that there should be a knowledge revealed by God besides philosophical science built up by human reason. Firstly, indeed, because man is directed to God, as to an end that surpasses the grasp of his reason . . . Even as regards those truths about God which human reason could have discovered, it was necessary that man should be taught by a divine revelation; because the truth about God such as reason could discover, would only be known by a few, and that after a long time, and with the admixture of many errors. Whereas man’s whole salvation, which is in God, depends upon the knowledge of this truth. Therefore, in order that the salvation of men might be brought about more fitly and more surely, it was necessary that they should be taught divine truths by divine revelation”

    I am another one of those former protestants who spent some time (about a year) studying apophatic theology, the Cappadocian fathers, attending various Orthodox churches, reading Schmemann, Ware, Zizioulas and many others before finally embracing the RCC. I too was (and still am) unable to see how EO might be able to: “[adjudicate] normatively theological questions” in a “principled” way. In my mind, the data of divine revelation trumps the technical claims of theologians and philosophers by virtue of the fact that the former derives from a superior authority. If I had in one hand what I knew to be a God-authorized statement about some doctrine, and in the other what looked like a bullet proof philosophical or theological argument to the contrary – I would go with the former EVERY time and conclude that somewhere within the argument there lay a hidden flaw. So again, for people like myself who can follow such theological / philosophical distinctions and concepts with some degree of success; but especially for all those who have neither the training, time, money, etc to do so – the ability to get a definitive reading on divine revelation is going to be a much better selling point than a host of arguments centered around how Catholics have historically misinterpreted the historical data regarding the papacy, or else entirely botched the correct metaphysical understanding of God, which in turn causes the RCC to get the Filioque, beatific vision, and “divinization all wrong.

    The RCC presents a very clear solution to the problem of distinguishing orthodox from heterodox doctrine – and that is the papacy. Yeah, I know there are all still questions about how to interpret statements from the Ordinary Mag.; but nobody in the RCC thinks that the pope cannot, should a given ambiguity become an argumentative firestorm, step in and speak to the problem definitively. And if once the pope has spoken definitively on a subject, some errant interpretation of the definition should arise; he can speak correctively again, and so on, in a dynamic fashion. I am just pointing out that such a “mechanism” is what is so attractive about the RCC from an epistemic POV.

    You said:

    “If you wish to argue that the Orthodox Church has no principled mechanism for adjudicating normatively theological questions then you’ll need to make that argument”

    Well, if I knew exactly what “the Orthodox Church” was as used within that statement, then perhaps a start could be made – but I really and truly do not. So, if you are willing, would you help me by explaining how it is that something called the OC has a principled means for “adjudicating normatively theological questions”? Would you mind beginning by showing how the “identity” of a thing called the OC can be established “normatively”? From where I sit, everyone in the RCC can “identify” the RCC with reference to the bishop of Rome as the center of gravity. Not all like the pope, but everyone knows that to formally reject the authority of the pope is to cease to be “in communion with Rome”. Can you identify “the OC” in such a way that all EO Christians will recognize your definition as normative? If not, why not? I am very interested in the “authority basis” – if you will – upon which you might arrive at something like a binding statement as to the identity of “the Orthodox Church”. It seems to me there is no way to talk about how something called the OC might, or might not, have a “principled mechanism” unless we can locate “the OC”. I am being entirely honest when I say that I would very much like to see clear answers to these questions; because these are the questions I just could not see my way clear through when I was considering “Eastern Orthodoxy”. Maybe it’s a symptom of my “Western” outlook; but Rome has, it seems to me, a much clearer alternative for resolving orthodox/heterodox questions with regard to the content of divine revelation – and THAT is what I want to put my stock in. From reading the comments above, I think my experience was not unique.

    Pax et Bonum,

    Ray

  79. Dr. Liccione

    I have my own view of how to resolve the issue with Orthodox who are not radical monopatrists, which I have developed on my own blog. But this thread is not the place to discuss that. I conclude here by saying that, if the Roman and Orthodox communions are to reunite, the filioque as it now stands will have to disappear from the Creed and be replaced by something clearer that respects moderate Orthodox sensibilities.

    I hate to disagree with you, on this but not it would not have to dissappear. If nearly EO bishop at the council of Florence accepted its presence in the Western creed, i don’t see why a future Council will not reject it. Of course we would not require they use it in their creeds, just like we don’t the Eastern Catholics, but you’ll be courting disaster to change our creed to appease the spirit of Mark Eugenikos. Won’t happen. The Orthodox would have to read of Creeds and traditions as charitably as we seem to read theirs, or there won’t be a reunion.

  80. Tim:
    Thanks for finally making your position crystal clear! You said: It is our duty as followers of Christ to pursue unity and truth at all costs and by whatever means.” My only comment is that the end does not justify the means, as a follower of Christ that is! We would then have something other than the original, some sort of mutation like a mule. (sorry, I don’t know how to do the Quote thing.)

    Ray:
    Your post reminds me of a story told by a Russian who was comparing the Eastern to the Western mindset. In the West, if you want to understand a tree, the first thing you do is cut it down. Then saw it into tiny pieces and dye them with a color that makes them more accessible under the microscope. Of course, papers need to be published and shared within a compendium with scientists from all over the world. Only through this shared scientific process is it possible to understand a tree, and only after years of scientific collaboration. In the end, you understand it, but your are left with a dead tree!

    In the East, the process is much different. First you get a seed and plant it lovingly and carefully into prepared ground. Then you tend it and water it carefully until it begins to sprout. You take pains to protect the little tree from the weather and from insects all the while you are feeding it and watching how it is affected by animals and the environment in general. When it has grown taller, you watch how the birds perch in it’s branches and how stately it becomes as it matures. In the end, you completely understand the tree, and it is still alive!

    May God’s Right Hand be your strength and consolation.

    Seraphim

  81. Seraphim – That sounds about right with the trees. But now that we have the internet and we Westerners can take digital photos of the trees and type about them into the computer, shouldn’t we put all this behind us and re-unite? :-) I’m making light of the situation I know.

    I love the Eastern approach and we Westerners need the East!!! The important thing is that in spite of our different methods, we arrive at the same place and do so with unity.

    And yes I agree that the ends do not justify the means – I was just using a cliche.

  82. Seraphim,

    Yes my friend, but in any hemposphere, East or West, whether one intends to cut trees down or plant them, one must first know what a tree is. The law of non-contradition is quite stubborn – like gravity – it has no borders.

    Pax et Bonum,

    Ray

  83. he he “hemisphere”

  84. Hey Ray – what exactly do you smoke in that pipe of yours?

  85. David Pell,
    The difference in mindset I speak of is not obviously a purely geographical one. East and West are merely ecclesial reference points, instead of having to constantly say Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Eastern Catholic, etc. If you have not fully experienced the Orthodox mindset, in as much as it differs from the Latin mind set (a phrase often used by the Orthodox) then it is a waste of time to try and explain. We would merely talk in circles, never truly understanding one another.
    As for being in communion with St Peter, the Eastern Orthodox do not affirm that Rome is the sole successor of Peter. Peter is not believed to have ever been a Bishop, but that his apostolic office was very different. Paul was never a bishop in Rome either. I cannot remember who was believed to be the first Bishop of Rome, but it is not believed to be Peter. I am not going to argue about what the Latins point to as evidence that he was, versus what the Orthodox say to refute it. The point I am trying to make is that in the Orthodox Church, each bishop is believed to be a successor to Peter, not the Pope alone. I don’t recall all of the theology behind that understanding, but one big point is the one I stated above, that St Peter was an apostle, and not a bishop.

  86. Interestingly enough is the fact that “spinach” contains 3700 different chemical compounds many of which we don’t know anything about. Frankly, we don’t know what spinach is! This of course gives me the opportunity of reminding everyone that the Church, The Bride of Christ, is a Mystery! Which is why we should be so careful to think of her in the way that was agreed upon in Ecumenical Councils. Not magisterium. I always thought it was interesting to read Psalm 12:6″The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.” It is also true that there were only 7 Ecumenical Councils in which are two Churches participated in together. The other Councils were not Ecumenical.

  87. Ray,

    Your first argument seems to be something like the following.

    There is a significant probability of error in complex philosophical reasoning, Formally recognized “orthodox” doctrine is far more likely to be true or is known to be true. We should give more weight to what we know to be true or is far more likely to be true. So, more weight should be given to what has been formally recognized as “orthodox” doctrine over philosophical argumentation.

    I am not clear on what you mean though on “formally recognized ‘orthodox doctrine.” If you mean the papacy, that won’t help since that doctrine too is filled in by such philosophical reasoning (part-whole relationships, person and nature, etc., not to mention arguments for it.) If you mean other doctrines, then either they are doctrines upon which the two sides agree, in which case I can’t see how that would advance a selection for one side over the other, or if not, then it serves as question begging and arbitrarily privileges one side over the other.

    Everyone does the best they can so to speak with adjudicating truth claims and Catholics are in no different position in doing so. They have to figure out if the claims of Rome are in fact true or not and a repetition of the claims won’t help answer that question. Your judgment regarding if you know if Rome is the true church or not is just as fallible as mine or any protestant. In order to get to the next rung, you have to pass through that hoop first.

    Further, the kinds of issues brought up are the same issues brought up at Florence, Lyon and other venues. I am not importing into the discussion something that hasn’t been there. The essence/energy distinction comes up at Florence for example and a good portion of Saint Mark’s argumentation there turned on it. (Much as Nyssa’s argumentation against Eunomius did.) The problems are just that fine grained and I didn’t make them that way. And of course, since at least Nicea, it as always been that way-homoousios or homoiousios? One iota makes all the difference.

    The reason why you see both sides explaining repeatedly what terms mean is that they take their interlocutor to have failed to demonstrate, say, a complete and adequate conceptual translation of one concept into the language of the other.

    It seems to me that what Thomas has in mind in terms of the admixture of many errors is the history of pagan philosophy in particular as rehearsed through Aristotle. So I don’t think it is quite relevant. But suppose it is so. The only thing Thomas advocates here is that revelation contains things that humans could have found out on their own via reason, but revelation gave them in a more expeditious and firm manner. I can affirm as much and I don’t see how it touches my arguments since there will be, as Thomas recognizes a need for further argumentation for revelation and from it for those who are not convinced that there is revelation or who disagree as to what the revelation means. Such will be the case when you have rival claimaints to the papacy as well.

    If you can’t see how the Orthodox could adjudicate theological issues in a normative and principled way, take a look at the fourth and fifth councils. In Chalcedon, Cyril, not Leo was the touchstone for the faith and Leo’s teaching had to be compared by the council to that of Cyril to make sure it was Orthodox. The **council** then judged it to be so. In the fifth council, the council excommunicated the pope present there and reject his “irreformable” judgment out of hand until he came around to agree with the council. (See Gray’s, The Defense of Chalcedon in the East.) By what principles were such councils operating such that they were defective in judging the pope’s official teaching? There is a lot more to such an argument and to draw out the principles that undergird such actions (as evidenced in canons, fathers, etc.) but I think reflection on such cases will in large measure give you an answer.

    I don’t take theology though to be a science and so I don’t take the things known by the Orthodox Church to be the product of philosophical speculation. Consequently, I don’t think your argument maps on to the way things are. I might agree that if I had inspired statement about X doctrine it would be worth more than a philosophical argument in opposition to it, but I don’t think that you can get to say the truth of the claims of the papacy without argumentation. Do you?

    You proffer that for those not able it is going to be a better selling point if such persons can get a definitive reading of divine revelation. I might concede that, but how do we get from it being a better selling point to it being true? Don’t we need to know that it is true first? (Zwingli’s got an amazing selling point-God audbily tells him which interpretation is right. It is far more efficient than the Catholic account.)

    Second, the “host of arguments” are no different than the “host of arguments” Catholics used for centuries, and continue to use against the Orthodox-how the Orthodox misunderstand this or that term, what being is, have historically misinterpreted the data regarding the papacy, etc. The Catholic side makes the same kinds of claims and arguments, so much so that Jugie wrote, with no small degree of influence, that the teaching of Palamas was the worst heresy ever to afflict the church. If you think that kind of statement and its attending arguments didn’t have a practical end to them, just start reading how Eastern Rite Catholics have been and continue to be treated by Latin bishops in the US for example. So again, getting to the “God authorized statement” isn’t bereft of the kind of philosophical, historical and theological analysis and argumentation. It is not one or the other. If it were, there wouldn’t be Summas.

    I take the attractiveness that you put forward to be ephemeral and as far as most are concerned lacking in practicality. The popes rarely speak in the way you mention and there is a great body of material, some of it pressing for quite a long time. Take the debate between the Jesuits and the Dominicans. The pope didn’t answer the problem, he just forbade further condemnation. Take the death of the Theotokos, for which the Papacy has been silent for quite a long time. Why when the tradition seems fairly uniform and clear on it? In any case, the question isn’t whether the papacy is more efficient at giving normative answers but whether the doctrine is true. Shall we eschew historical, philosophical and theological argumentation in finding that out?

    You write that you do not know what the Orthodox Church is, but Rome seems to know what it is. How does Rome know that? Or does Rome not know to whom she is speaking when she speaks to the Orthodox Church? With whom exactly is she aiming to have dialog with? It is like arguing that since the energies are not metaphysicallyredicible one to the other, one can’t identify them.

    As for your identity questions, I don’t think your position is on superior ground. Can you show how the identity of the pope can be ascertained say **during** the Great Western Schism? Did a Pope adjudicate that question? Can you identify the See of Rome without the sitting pope as the Fifth Ecumenical Council does? How exactly did the self proclaimed “Spirit inspired” council do that? Or was the Fifth Council teaching falsely when it referred to itself (as did subsequent councils as “Spirit Inspired?”

    You ask if I can identify the OC in such a way that all Orthodox will recognize my definition as normative. I think I can, but suppose I can’t. You can’t either and here is why, because your act of identification nor the recognition of it makes it normative. It would be an expression of your belief, even if true and known and not a dogmatic statement in and of itself. Further, if papal ratification is not a sufficient condition for a council to be ecumenical, can you identify what condition makes a council as such? Further, I know professing Catholics in open communion (some clerics) who won’t recognize the conditions you lay down from the catechism for identifying as such. Does that prove your account a failure? If not, then any lack of recognition of the normativity of the identification of the OC by various Orthodox won’t imply as much either on the very same basis. Where was the “identity” when Vigilius was excommunicated and the bishops professed themselves still in communion with the See of Rome, just not the pope? And how do we go about finding out that normative judgments in fact fulfill all of the relevant conditions proposed or even worse, that statements of past ages which bear few if any of the linguistic indicators used in the last 200 years or so are actually normative? It just seems more than strange that all of the major doctrines of Christianity were adjudicated and “defined” in the first thousand years and that in councils, but not the papacy.

    Positively I of course will refer to councils as being the “authority basis” to adjudicate and will appeal to various canons and principles that I take to be evidenced in church history for what makes a council legitimate and normative. (And no, I don’t subscribe to the lame Idealistic theory of the Slavophiles either via Khomiakov.) Some of those principles will be principles Rome agrees with, and some not. This is because this is what I see in fact taking place. This is not because I deny every meaningful sense of Roman primacy or that I take it to be a mere honorary title. I don’t. But because I see the popes at times judged by the church and by the mechanism the church has always used, namely the councils, to do so. This is why even Catholics like Journet concede that the charge of heresy in the first millennium was always a legitimate charge in principle to bring against the pope. Such doesn’t seem in principle or practically possible to do today. Something has changed.

  88. Tim,

    I never claimed that the Orthodox Church has authority over the English language. It does seem to have authority over what it means by the terms it uses. Your claim seemed to be that the same idea was held on both sides. I only pointed out that the same term is used on both sides, but not the same idea.

    Second, apophatic is a Greek term and it has a history of usage in theology, particularly long before the city of Rome fell to the barbarians and the Franks could read Greek. Hence the via negativa in so far as it is an alteration of the preceding usage and concept is a different concept, even if Latin’s wish to denote it by the older Greek term.

    Third, common English language dictionaries are obviously inadequate for specialized theological and philosophical terms. That should go without saying. So I don’t understand the appeal to a common English dictionary for technical Greek terms. We still therefore disagree as to what constitutes apophatic theology and what the terms means, and so, the claim that people on both sides practice it, is at best controversial.

    You’ll have to pardon me because I did take your previously remarks to me and Seraphim as an implicit claim that the same thing was held on both sides. I am glad we agree that its not the case then.

    The post sure comes off like an apology to convert the Orthodox. I am not alone here in taking it that way. As I argued earlier, and which seemed to be left untouched, I don’t see how the post can argue that Orthodoxy is defective in its theology of orders and so Catholicism is the better choice relative to Protestants but not Orthodox. That strikes me as schizophrenic.

    As for what other Orthodox authorities would say, I am not clear on how exactly that creates the kind of space you wish it to, so perhaps you can tease that out for me. More to the point, when I say that Catholicism is heterodox and hence Catholics “worship a different God” that only means that the conception of God they put forward is false. It doesn’t mean that their prayers are directed in fact to a non-existent deity. God rains down grace on the Orthodox and heterodox alike, as it were.

    I don’t think my discourse has been uncivil, but perhaps you and others here think it has been. I can’t see how a commitment to be charitable licenses a removal of the language of heterodoxy. If I thought a charitable and plausible interpretation for say the Filioque did license the removal of such terms, I would race to do so, but I don’t, anymore than I think that a charitable interpretation of Sola Fide that licenses the removal of the language of heresy.

    I can’t see how the example with Islam is really apt since the claims in fact are incompatible and so at the end of the day you’re still going to have say Mohammed was a false prophet, one way or another. What it seems you wish to say here is that we know that the two positions are in fact reconcilable, so we need to put away such language until we find a resolution. I don’t think you know that or have anything like justified true belief regarding that. It may in fact be true, but it is not something I know or I think anyone else does either.

    Clarification question-What difference if any do you take there to be between a serious problem and heresy?

    I think from an Orthodox point of view, we did share at one time a common origin in the Apostles, but as I believe I pointed out to you in one of our past exchanges relating to the papacy and an Orthodox document concerning it, if reunion were to occur the pope then would *resume* his primacy-that is, he doesn’t have it now.

    From my point of view, it seems a bit strange that the concern over the schism and the softening of Rome’s position, at least in how it approaches the East has begun to occur at a time when Rome’s position in the world has become quite weak. Frankly the last thing the Orthodox want is Rome getting involved in altering our liturgy, among other things after the mess (lets be honest, one way or another it is a mess) of Vatican 2. As I believe Fr. Freeman has expressed in the past, from the Orthodox point of view the reigning thought is after Vatican 2, “Thank God we don’t have the papacy!” The unspoken hope it seems of not a few in Rome is that reunion with the Orthodox would bring back a kind of liturgical conservatism to Roman practice abroad. It wouldn’t. It would only lead to a altered and diluted Orthodox liturgical praxis, particularly since past popes have made a point to claim the ultimate superiority of the Latin rite over all of the Eastern rites.

    In terms of dialog, what the Orthodox require is what I alluded to earlier, a demonstration of conceptual theological translation across schemes without remainder. Being polite is a help, but it is no substitute. If you and others take my views to be extreme, please know that I am not a member of an ultra-Orthodox fringe group or a more ardent jurisdiction. In the Greek archdiocese in my limited experience the views I’ve expressed are fairly common among the clergy. And know that the Greek jurisdiction is probably the most lax of all that I know.

  89. Ray,

    Thank you for what you said in #78. You articulated something that I never could but very much relate to. It was the metaphysical complexity of some of the arguments against Rome from some Orthodox, like Perry who I have read online over the last few years, that put up a red flag for me. If I may be so bold in the end, when I decided against Orthodoxy, it was in part because it all just ended up sounding like so much polemical sophistry.

    I hope that doesn’t sound harsh. But that’s what happened.

  90. Perry,

    More to the point, when I say that Catholicism is heterodox and hence Catholics “worship a different God” that only means that the conception of God they put forward is false.

    Worshiping a different (and therefore false) God and being on the wrong end of a debate that’s had brilliant saints and martyrs fighting on both sides for 1,500 years are worlds apart. If you only meant our conception of God is false, then that’s the sort of thing that you should have said. That’s what I meant by getting beyond that kind of language. If you had said “your conception of God is false” – then I wouldn’t have said “we need to get beyond that language.”

    If I thought a charitable and plausible interpretation for say the Filioque

    Perry, I’m not asking for charity towards words and creeds, I’m asking for charity towards the people who interpret and believe them.

    What it seems you wish to say here is that we know that the two positions are in fact reconcilable, so we need to put away such language until we find a resolution.

    I would say that yes but I didn’t.

    Clarification question-What difference if any do you take there to be between a serious problem and heresy?

    Anything that is keeping us in schism is a serious problem whether its a heresy on either side or not. A heresy is something which is contrary to the faith but it is possible that things which are not heresies keep us in schism.

    (lets be honest, one way or another it is a mess)

    Well here’s one thing we can certainly agree on.

  91. Jeremiah,

    Ok. I only made my point about East vs. West because it’s confusing to people who think that all of Catholicism is Latin/Western. I’d still be curious to know what you think is so different about the “mindset” of an Eastern Catholic and an Eastern Orthodox.

    Anyway, what about the rest of my last response? Your accusations regarding the Assyrian Church of the East were serious and I’d be interested to know what you think about what I wrote. Also, I’d appreciate it if you’d substantiate the claim about the Johannine Gnostic Church.

  92. Perry,

    I am not going to engage all the of the complex historical data you have heaped into your post – that is what has been going on for centuries between Catholics and Protestants and is exactly the kind of thing that led me to make the argument with my original argument. What would be the point of me surveying the data you directed me to? Whatever I concluded, as well as whatever you conclude, with regard to that data will be simply OUR personal, fallible, conclusions – right? But that is my point. I spent 6 years of my life as a died-in-the-wool Kantian skeptic. I could care less than less what your opinion or mine turns out to be with regard to such data – everyone’s got an opinion. I note in passing that your rebuttal is a form of the “tu quoque” charge. Fine, I have heard that before – guess where. When finally you have gotten around to providing a positive explanation of your position rather than explaining how mine doesn’t do what I think it does; you say:

    “Positively I of course will refer to councils as being the “authority basis” to adjudicate and will appeal to various canons and principles that I take to be evidenced in church history for what makes a council legitimate and normative. (And no, I don’t subscribe to the lame Idealistic theory of the Slavophiles either via Khomiakov.) Some of those principles will be principles Rome agrees with, and some not. This is because this is what I see in fact taking place. This is not because I deny every meaningful sense of Roman primacy or that I take it to be a mere honorary title. I don’t. But because I see the popes at times judged by the church and by the mechanism the church has always used, namely the councils, to do so”

    Well, for what little its worth, I think the only real “authority basis” eveident in that entire shpeal is Perry Robinson. Your effort to produce an authoritative historical reconstruction from the monuments of Christian tradition would make any Reformed “sola” theologian proud. There is a reason that I and other protestants took a detour past Constantinople before making our way to Rome. You are very bright, I mean that sincerely – you’re no argumentative slouch: but I am not ready to commit my life and family to a set of proposed truths having to do with the deepest questions of human existence on the basis of your intellectual acumen, or any other smart guy’s intellectual prowess. I can run up and down the trail of philosophical history, both East and West, and find and unending wasteland of washed up proposals to such questions produced by smart guys.

    But of course, you have a ready and powerful response to my charge against Perry Robinson’s subjectivity with regard to the meaning and content of divine revelation. That is where I would like to drive discussion. So hear is what I take to be your proposed defeater to my overarching argument begun in the previous post:

    “Everyone does the best they can so to speak with adjudicating truth claims and Catholics are in no different position in doing so. They have to figure out if the claims of Rome are in fact true or not and a repetition of the claims won’t help answer that question. Your judgment regarding if you know if Rome is the true church or not is just as fallible as mine or any protestant. In order to get to the next rung, you have to pass through that hoop first.”

    And again:

    “You ask if I can identify the OC in such a way that all Orthodox will recognize my definition as normative. I think I can, but suppose I can’t. You can’t either and here is why, because your act of identification nor the recognition of it makes it normative”

    So, according to you (as with my Reformed brothers), when we finally come to the substrata of the “authority” problem we flounder upon the “tu quoque” and its entirely depressing picture of a hopelessly relativistic assessment of the practical epistemic value of anything called “divine revelation”. All of us, without exception, are hopelessly lost in subjectivity; because by the very nature of the case so far as the acquisition of human knowledge is concerned, any rash claim to something like epistemic certainty with regard to the content of divine revelation is undermined by the inherent fallibility of the knowing subject. End of story go home. And if that is all there is to it, I say we should go home. Perry, why do you and I even care what “orthodoxy” is? Seriously, the only conceivable reason that I can come up with as to why religious people would spend endless hours on blogs debating what does, and does not, constitute the “true” faith is that they think there is something about Christianity which can provide them answers to the questions they care most about (who am I, why do I exist, what is my destiny) – answers which they apparently can’t get elsewhere or else they would GO elsewhere. If nothing about, or unique to, Christianity can get us any better answers to such questions why bother? I for one, get pagans: “eat drink and be merry for tomorrow die” makes eminent sense to me if there is “in principle” no possible way we can have better assurance as to what the answers to the “big” question might be from Christian faith than from humanity opinion.

    So what is the unique thing about Christianity that makes people think it might secure what human reason cannot. Well, it’s the idea that there is information offered by God to men, that has an infinitely higher authority recommending its accuracy and authenticity than anything produced by philosophic discourse. We think there is something special about “divine revelation”. But your argument undercuts the very reason, ostensibly, that God gives it in the first place. If we back up out of systematic theology for a moment and join hands with the average pagan looking on wonder at the world, I think our approach to faith would be something roughly like this:

    1.) I don’t just care about birds and bees and trees (things that science can say a lot about), I want to know the meaning of life.
    2.) Answers to such a big question are competing and contradictory everywhere in the field of natural reason leaving me in the lurch epistemicaly.
    3.) Along comes Christianity claiming that something called “divine revelation” can be identified and understood by human beings. Revelation which, since it comes from “God”, is necessarily trustworthy because God “neither deceives of can be deceived”.
    4.) This is exciting, so I start looking into the claims of divine revelation as a possible way to overcome my epistemic agnosticism derived from the evident insufficiency of human opinion.
    5.) Uh oh: problem: different groups within Christianity offer mutually incompatible explication of BOTH the instrumental sources and interpretation of the thing called “divine revelation”
    6) All is not lost maybe, there must be a “mechanism” for differentiating these revelatory interpretive claims. I go looking to see what that might be.
    7.) Excitement – I think I have found one: The RCC claims that Christ, foreseeing this dilemma established a Petrine ministry as an essential element of the historical visible manifestation of the body of Christ.
    8.) I think about how the problem of subjective interpretation of the proposed data of revelation might be resolved by such a ministry. Humm – IF the pope does have a charism of infallibility under certain conditions, then such an office, being trans-historical by way of succession, provides a continuous dynamic means by which to differentiate the variant revelatory interpretations that might arise – yes, yes, that could work.
    9.) Bigger problem: Perry Robinson who is Eastern Orthodox as well as Reformed Christians explain to me that just because the RCC claims to have such an authority grant from God; and just because I think there is at least one historical interpretation of the data to support this assertion, really gets me no where because it is I, and I alone, who have simply chosen, quite fallibly, to embrace the truth of RCC’s claims based only only the fact that a.) the RCC makes the claim to begin with and b.) I have a personal, fallible, interpretation of the data which makes ME think the claim is reasonable. So really, it is just my opinion, and given the nature of the case, it can never be anything else.
    10.) Perry and his Reformed counterparts console me by letting me know that they are in the same boat too – you know, solidarity – misery loves company and so forth.
    11) Depression sets in – given my original goal – to find answers to questions of human meaning and existence given on something better than human authority. I have just spent ten years of my life engaging in one long, embarrassing, pointless waste of time! Welcome back to the epistemic lurch

    Well, I think there is something more to say before I go find myself some women and a fast car: but before I do, could you comment on whether you think I have got your argument right? Also, and of even more interest to me is this question, given the following assertion:

    “Your judgment regarding if you know if Rome is the true church or not is just as fallible as mine or any protestant. In order to get to the next rung, you have to pass through that hoop first.”

    Why are you still spending your time writing on blogs? I mean what interest could you possibly have in arguing for the EO understanding of divine revelation if you admit from the outset, that what ever you, or, I or the Protestants end up defending will still just be a subjective construct. I don’t know about you, but I did not get into this game for more opinions.

    With sincere respect,

    Ray

  93. Perry (#76):

    I didn’t think my #73 needed to be made explicit in the context of this thread, which stems from a post in which Mr Deane explained why he became Eastern-Catholic rather than Orthodox. For him, the technical issues that concern you, and on which I’ve worked too, are subordinate to the considerations he cited. I see no reason why that should not be the case. But some readers might benefit from my being more explicit about the technical issues. So I shall now be here.

    You wrote:

    For us, it is not being in any possible sense whatsoever. God is not-being at intra and that is not a denial of mere ens commune either.

    I do not take that view seriously because it strikes me as nonsense. If God is “not being in any possible sense,” then no sense can be assigned to the statement that God exists. At best, that is a form of agnosticism, which is not Orthodoxy. Conversely, if sense can be assigned to the statement that God exists, then God is being in some sense. I have never understood why a Christian would find that controversial.

    As for the filioque, you made two replies to my comment to Tim that I want to comment on. First:

    …it seems false to me to claim that Photios’ position is “radical” in denying that the Son has something to do with the generation of the Spirit’s hypostasis per se, except in so far as the Son isn’t a cause of the Spirit’s procession per se. But that isn’t radical but common to practically all Orthodox denials of the Filioque doctrine.

    That too strikes me as nonsense. If Photians would affirm that the Son has “something to do with the generation of the Son’s hypostasis,” then that just is to affirm that Son is, in some sense, a “cause” of the Spirit. Of course the Son could not be a cause of the Spirit in the same sense of ’cause’ as the Father, i.e. ekporeusis. So if the Son has something to do with the Spirit’s hypostatic procession all the same, that must be in some sense of ’cause’ other than that of ekporeusis. If you don’t like “mediation,” the concept employed by a few Eastern fathers, one could argue as I did on my blog that there is some other sense.

    Second, you wrote:

    The Catholic position as I understand it and has been repeatedly represented to me, is not that the Son hypostatically mediates the Spirit in the Procession but rather that the Son hypostatically generates the Spirit in the Procession since the generation is with the Father as from one principle. The one principle is relative to the generation. To gloss it as an eternal hypostatic mediation apart from hypostatic generation is to deny the Filioque doctrine at least implicitly. The Son’s secondary “role” isn’t principally that of mediation relative to the hypostasis of the Spirit, but of generation as far as the Filioque doctrine is concerned.

    There are so many ambiguities there that I hardly know where to begin. So instead of musing about what you mean, I’ll say what I mean.

    To say that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son “as from one principle” needn’t and shouldn’t be understood to mean that the Son contributes to the the Spirit’s origination in the same way as the Father. That’s why the Vatican paper I cited in #74 explicitly says that the filioque should not be understood to deny the sole monarchia of the Father. What the filioque does entail, rather, is that the Son and the Father are equally co-necessary causes of the Spirit. And if so, then the “one principle” is in fact a relation between the Father and the Son. For it is only as Father of the Son that the Father originates the Spirit.

    I suggest that efficient causation in general is an analogue of how the Father originates the Spirit, and that final causation in general is an analogue of how the Son does it. Thus, although it is not false to say that the Father originates the Spirit “through” the Son, I believe it would be more precise and illuminating to say that the Father originates the Spirit “on account of” the Son. I do not say that my suggestion is the best language; I do not profess any special insight into the inner life of God. I offer my suggestion simply as one way of explaining how the Lyons-Florence dogma is compatible with the monarchia of the Father.

    Once again, I don’t think this is the place to debate the details of such suggstions. What I and the authors of this blog are most concerned with is finding a way to resolve differences in a way that respects the position of both sides. That will happen only if the concern is reciprocated. Sadly, it is not.

    Best,
    Mike

  94. Tim,

    Thanks for the reply.

    You state that worshipping a false God and having a false conception of God are not the same. I am not clear on what the difference is supposed to be. Can you cash it out a bit more for me?

    I am all for charity towards people. I am also for mature discussion too. I figure in a context such as these where people have a reasonable amount of theological education that they can take someone mentioning that views other persons hold are heterodox.

  95. Ray (#91):

    You’ve definitely hit upon something with that comment. If we are going to be able to identify divine revelation as distinct from human opinion, we’re going to have to accept some concrete, claim-making authority here on earth as sharing, under certain conditions, in the infallible authority of the unseen God. Catholics and Orthodox can agree on that. But the reasons that motivate making an assent of faith in some such authority–Catholic or Orthodox–are never intellectually compelling; for if they were, then the assent would not be free and thus would not be faith. And in any case, all such considerations are ones of human reason, which is fallible. So if we’re going to debate who, Catholic or Orthodox, has the better reasons for identifying the needed authority as they respectively do, we’re never going to come up with a knock-down argument for one or the other. The most one can hope to do is weigh and compare the Catholic and the Orthodox claims to such authority to see which are more credible to oneself. Which will always be a matter of opinion.

    We can take comfort, though, that neither Catholics nor Orthodox are in the sad position of Protestants. Their denial of any ecclesial infallibility means that they recognize no such authority, and therefore reduce religion ot a matter of opinion.

    Best,
    Mike

  96. Perry,

    I’m not sure I can cash it out much further than the surface of the statement because it depends on degrees of falsity. I wouldn’t say it’s absolutely true in every conceivable case (only that it’s true in the one at hand). If one conceived of “God” as a giant pumpkin in the sky, I would also say that they don’t worship the same God as you and I. An analogy:

    Scenario 1:
    Joe: “Paris is a City with 2.2 million people.”
    Bob: “No, Paris has less than two million people.”

    Scenario 2:
    Joe: “Paris is a city in France.”
    Bob: “No, Paris is a hotel in Las Vegas.”

    In scenario 1, Joe and Bob have a definite disagreement about the facts regarding Paris and one is badly mistaken. But in spite of one of them being wrong, they’re talking about the same thing. In scenario 2, Joe and Bob are clearly talking about two different things. I take all that to be analogous to our present discussion.

    About mentioning that others’ views are heterodox, I wouldn’t expect anything less.

  97. I will offer a key instance of the criterion which Ray Stamper stated in #78 and with which I completely agree:

    “In my mind, the data of divine revelation trumps the technical claims of theologians and philosophers by virtue of the fact that the former derives from a superior authority. If I had in one hand what I knew to be a God-authorized statement about some doctrine, and in the other what looked like a bullet proof philosophical or theological argument to the contrary – I would go with the former EVERY time and conclude that somewhere within the argument there lay a hidden flaw.”

    According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church #204, the fundamental revelation for both the Old and New Testament is that of Exodus 3:14:

    God said to Moses, “I Am Who I Am.” And He said, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I Am has sent me to you.'”

    The Septuagint translated “I Am Who I Am” (Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh) as “I Am He Who Is”. The certainty that this rendering provides the correct sense of the original Hebrew text does not arise only, or even primarily, from linguistic or philosophical reasons, but from the fact that it is confirmed by Wisdom 13:1, originally written in Greek: “Yes, naturally stupid are all who are unaware of God, and who, from good things seen, have not been able to discover Him Who Is.” (Even better, both Exodus’ “He Who Is” and Wisdom’s “Him Who Is” are rendered as “The One Who Is” in the Septuagint translation NETS, http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/nets/ )

    To note, it is exactly in this line that Jesus asserts his divinity three times in John’s Gospel:

    “For if you do not believe that I Am, you will die in your sins.” (Jn 8:24)
    “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will realize that I Am” (Jn 8:28)
    “From now on I am telling you before it happens, so that when it happens you may believe that I Am.” (Jn 13:19)

    Catholic magisterium clearly teaches this sense of Ex 3:14, lately through John Paul II in two audiences (Jul 31 and Aug 7, 1985, available from http://catechesisofthepopes.wikispaces.com/The+Father? ), from which I quote, rephrasing the middle paragraph a little:

    According to the tradition of Israel, the name expresses the essence. The Sacred Scriptures give different names of God … But the name which Moses heard from the midst of the burning bush is as it were the root of all the others. He Who Is expresses the very essence of God, which is self-existence, subsistent Being,

    A creature does not possess in itself the source, the reason of its being, but receives it “from another.” This is synthetically expressed in the Latin phrase ens ab alio. He who creates – the Creator – possesses existence in himself and from himself (ens a se). To be pertains to his substance: his essence is to be. He is subsisting being (esse subsistens). Precisely for this reason he cannot not be, he is “necessary” being. Differing from God who is “necessary being,” the things which receive existence from him, that is, creatures, are able not to be. Being does not constitute their essence; they are “contingent” beings. Thus, when we refer to God it would be fitting to write that “I Am” and that “He Is” in capitals, reserving the lower case for creatures. This would also signify a correct way of reflecting on God according to the categories of “being.”

    Inasmuch as He is “ipsum Esse Subsistens” – that is the absolute fullness of Being and therefore of every perfection – God is completely transcendent in regard to the world. By his essence, by his divinity, He “goes beyond” and infinitely “surpasses” everything created – both every single creature, however perfect, and the ensemble of creation, the visible and invisible beings.

    Notably, a reference alluded to by the Pope in the second audience provides a strong confirmation of this sense of Ex 3:14 and of its importance. In his Life of Catherine of Siena, Raymond of Capua records what Catherine (1347-1380) had often told him Christ taught her when He first began appearing to her:

    “Do you know, daughter, who you are and who I am? If you know these two things you have beatitude in your grasp. You are that who is not, and I Am He Who Is. Let your soul but become penetrated with this truth, and the Enemy can never lead you astray; you will never be caught in any snare of his, nor ever transgress any commandment of mine; you will have set your feet on the royal road which leads to the fulness of grace, and truth, and light.” (Life, no. 92)

    In contrast, this revealed truth is at odds with a very known statement about God by Gregory Palamas (1296-1359): “God is being and not being;”

    And I devoted so much to this subject because it was previously said that the Filioque disagreement caused RC’s and EO’s to worship a different God. Here I see an even deeper issue. Because for RC’s, while the “Being” of God is full, subsistent, infinitely above the limited, contingent “being” of creatures, it is still “Being” and definitely not “not being”. So we RCs do not worship a God which is “not being”. Our God is He Who Is, YHWH (blessed be his Name). And He Who Is is our God:

    Shema Yisrael YHWH Eloheinu YHWH Echad.
    (Hear O Israel: YHWH is our God, YHWH is one.)
    (Dt 6:4)

  98. Michael,

    In #92 you wrote: “For it is only as Father of the Son that the Father originates the Spirit.”

    This really struck me. At the risk of dumbing down this discussion – it reminded me of a possible dilemma I cannot seem to reason around regarding the more hardened position against the filioque such as Perry’s. And please tell me if this is simplistic or flawed. The pyramid model of the monarchy of the Father, in the sense that Perry and other would likely argue for seems to confuse rather than clarify our understanding of the Persons of the Trinity. The biggest problem I see is that it seems to mean that like the Son the Holy Spirit is also eternally begotten of the Father IF the Son is not in some way involved in the procession of the Holy Spirit.

    Is that a legitimate concern or am I missing something?

  99. All,
    Thank you for your comments. I’m thankful for the interest in dialogue about coming to terms with certain disagreements, but we should realize that a combox is suboptimal at best for sorting them out.

    For my part I have some small additions that I think are important. Some people thought that my example of rebaptism, etc. was not representative of Orthodox thought. Fr. Seraphim Rose was Protestant before his conversion. Likewise, the most frequent Orthodox contributor to this thread is a former Protestant (namely, Perry).

    It would seem from his postings (especially yesterday’s) that he view Catholics as worthy of rebaptism, as he calls us heretics and schismatics. It’s nice to know that he is part of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese in the USA. He’s right that this group is not the most anti-Catholic strain of Orthodoxy. The Greek Orthodox parish in the town where I studied at university is well known for having bible studies between Roman Catholics and Greek Orthodox. Their church website states: “On the 2nd Tuesday of each month, October through May, Father Steven leads the Study Fellowship, a Christian book club, together with our brothers and sisters from St. John Neumann Catholic Church next door. ”

    Are we brothers and sisters, or are we heretics and schismatics (or somehow both??)? This varying testimony is what made it easier for me to consider Catholicism when I was Presbyterian. Maybe as a Presbyterian I was more widely exposed to the type of analysis of Catholicism offered by Perry and other former Presbyterians. I’m not sure. But it’s my background, nonetheless. As I said before, this is not an airtight argument-it is contingent on this lack of love that is due to a lack of a unified vision on the nature of who 1.1 billion of the Christians in the world are.

    We should get to the heart of the question of who each other is (Are we brothers and sisters at heart? or schismatics and heretics?) by seeking the truth and studying what has been written by both sides. I’d prefer if future comments concentrated on this important issues. I do see questions like the filioque as important in a peripheral manner. For if the filioque is a damning view of the trinity that is utterly irreconcilable with the Creed’s original form (which I recite as an Eastern Catholic), then of course the conclusion that we aren’t brothers and sisters must be made. In that regard, what happened to the discussions on the matter of Florence? And what would Orthodox think if all Catholics stopped using it?

    Ultimately let’s meditate on who each other is.

    In that vein, Seraphim’s first post here (comment #66) struck me as odd. First we are told that Catholics are flawed due to deficiencies in the truth. And then the trespasses of Catholic Crusaders in Constantinople and elsewhere are mentioned in terms of not receiving exact retribution (paying back 25.00 after robbing 100.00). Which is it? Is it the ultimate Truth, Who transcends horrible atrocities and robberies? The Truth is ultimately a Person, not a bank account. If our Patriarchs and Popes are calling for forgiveness (irrespective of the brother/sister issue, though His All Holiness definitely calls us Christians, in line with Archbishop Alfeyev’s statement that we have the sacraments), and we are seeking reconciliation, will the hand of love be unopened until the last penny is repaid? We are your debtors, and will lay down our lives until this is repaid. That we may live a life in peace an repentance, let us beseech the Lord.

    But even going back to Archbishop Alfeyev, I must ask: Would it be the contention of Perry et al. that the Archbishop hasn’t read the 1848 letter of Orthodox bishops? Or that he is misunderstanding it?

    That’s all I have for this morning. As we anticipate tomorrow’s feast of the Dormition, here’s are two wonderful videos of the Troparion and Kontakion for the feast:
    English: http://video.yahoo.com/watch/5838035/15277271
    Romanian: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UrWdniIzBqg

    In XC,
    J. Andrew

  100. My own journey from the Catholic to Orthodox Church took me 10 years. Though I do not regret the decision and believe it is what God would have from me, it caused (and at times continues to cause) me a great deal of heartache. But then, as now, I believe that the fullness of the Gospel was to be found in the Orthodox Church.

    My personal struggles and my theological reasons are however not my main points. Rather I want to offer a brief reflection on the two different ways in which I was greeted when I inquired into joining the Orthodox Church. Rather I offer them only to be clear that I approached the Orthodox Church desiring to enter into communion with her.

    My first encounter with an Orthodox priest was back in 1982 or 83. I had attended Great Vespers at the OCA Cathedral in Dallas, St Seraphim’s. I was overwhelmed by the beauty and its theological and spiritual depth. Afterwards I went to the hall and found the priest with the intent on “signing up” right then and there.

    I found the priest and introduced myself to him. He asked if I was Orthodox and I told him no, I was a RC. Before I could finish my sentence and tell him I wished to become Orthodox, he proceeded to tell me, at great length, why I was wrong.

    Then, as now, I did not begrudge the man his differences with the Church of Rome. These were expected. What I did find offensive–and what caused me to leave and not return to considering Orthodoxy for almost 10 years–was the fact that the priest clearly did not know what he was talking about and had no interest in learning. He had his short list of why I was wrong and making sure I know why I was wrong seemed to be his only concern.

    Years later, now in Pittsburgh, I met a Greek Orthodox priest. He spontaneously spoke about the beauty of the Catholic Church and all that we shared as Catholic and Orthodox Christians. He soberly acknowledged our differences but not at the expense of our commonalities. Unlike the priest I met in Dallas, this man was thoughtful and gentle and appreciative of me and of the tradition within which at the time I stood.

    To the degree that I can say this without prejudice to divine grace and dogmatic truth, it was this second conversation that caused me to become Orthodox.

    I do not doubt, and have known, many Protestant inquirers to the Orthodox Church come wanting a polemic presentation of the Gospel. It is what they know. It is also one of things that Fr Seraphim Rose warned about–the tendency of Protestant converts to bring into the Orthodox Church their spiritual baggage.

    Sadly the case that too many converts to the Orthodox Church–the first priest in my story was himself a convert–see in the Church a chance to vindicate, at least in part, the Reformation and their own animus toward the Church of Rome. Pastorally this is simply a reality and one which sober spiritual fathers work to heal in their spiritual children.

    In Christ,

    +Fr Gregory

  101. Fr Gregory:

    Thank you. If most Orthodox clergyman had your attitude, unity would not seem as depressingly far off as it does.

    Best,
    Mike

  102. I’m starting to feel that regarding the issue of balancing charity versus truth, I’m starting to side with the EO brethren (even when some of them might say that as an RC I was invalidly baptized and so I am no brother at all, or at least not in fact but only in potency.)

    The point is, I don’t think we should, or even can, practice charity at the expense of truth. If EOs think RC doctrines are heretical, they should say so in a straight way. To love someone is to desire and procure their good. If an EO believes we RCs are in error, pointing out those errors so that we can free ourselves from them and come to full truth is the charitable thing for this EO to do. And it is indeed a grave duty for the EO to proceed that way if he honestly thinks that we RCs are deprived of sacramental life because of our doctrinal errors. The fact that we RCs believe that EOs do have full sacramental life (and therefore feel no urgency to promote conversion of EOs, in contrast with the case of Protestants) does not mean we can expect that they believe the same about us. Because we do not believe the validity of their holy orders out of charity, but out of truth. If their sincere perception of truth is that RC holy orders are not valid, believing or making believe otherwise would not be according to charity, but strongly against it.

    Bottom line, we must not downplay doctrinal disagreements. If I am driving the wrong way along a highway, I don’t want to be told “there is some room for improvement in the direction you are heading.”

  103. Even when Filioque, Papal Primacy and possibly indelibility of Holy Orders are usually considered the main points of disagreement between the Roman Catholic (RC) and Eastern Orthodox (EO) Churches, there is an additional significant area of disagreement comprising the issues related to the teachings of EO St Gregory Palamas. Below I list what I see as the four points of disagreements in this area, in both their Catholic and Orthodox versions.

    RC doctrine:

    C1. The Essence of God is absolute fullness of Being, subsistent Being that is infinitely above the limited, contingent “being” of creatures.

    C2. Absolute divine simplicity: God is his essence. Each divine Person is the divine essence.

    C3. Sanctification or deification: union with God through two gifts: uncreated grace (the indwelling of the three divine Persons, which is specially attributed to the Holy Spirit) and created grace (sanctifying or deifying grace: the effect produced in the soul by the Holy Spirit, to whom the work of sanctification is specially attributed.)

    C4. Beatific Vision: angels and saints in Heaven see and enjoy the divine essence with an intuitive vision and even face to face, (which does not entail comprehending the divine essence.)

    EO doctrine:

    O1. “God is being and not being.” (EO St Gregory Palamas)

    O2. There is a real, ontological distinction between divine essence and divine energies. God is his essence and his energies. The divine essence is the cause of the divine energies, which are uncreated. Each divine Person is the divine essence and the divine energies.

    O3. Deification (theosis): union with God through the divine energies (uncreated energy of the Holy Spirit = uncreated grace), and not through his essence.

    O4. Angels and saints in Heaven do not see the divine essence, only the divine energies.

    IMV the less difficult issue of the four is point 3, where the disagreement, if we leave aside the essence-energies distinction, is mostly a matter of emphasis. While EOs have placed emphasis in uncreated grace, i.e. the Holy Spirit, RCs have placed emphasis in created grace, i.e. the work of the Holy Spirit in the soul. But RC’s do believe in uncreated grace, i.e. divine indwelling, and EOs would most probably agree that the Holy Spirit does some very important work in the soul. The main disagreement in this point is that which is a direct consequence of the essence-energies distinction, as EOs believe that only the energies of the Holy Spirit interact with the faithful, and not the essence.

    I addressed point 1 in comment #96. Next I will address point 4.

  104. Johannes,
    God is mysterious ultimately–and these sorts of arguments on both sides only provide heat, and no light to these discussions.

    St. Gregory Palamas receives respect and veneration in Eastern Catholic Churches as well as the Eastern Orthodox Churches. Your view of utter irreconcilability is just that: your view. It does not match the ecumenical actions and statements of Papal Documents like Orientale Lumen and the Catechism. It also does not take into account that when Eastern Orthodox regained communion with Rome, there was no such call to repudiate any Eastern Doctrine. In other words, denying the teaching of St. Gregory Palamas was not asked for.

    At the end of the day, our icons of Christ include the image ‘o wn – He who is. St. Gregory Palamas upholds that. His statements are more mystical than you may be used to, but they do not deny the “I Am” statements.

    In XC,
    J. Andrew Deane

  105. Fr. Gregory,
    Thank you so much for your testimony. May the pain that you feel not being in communion with Catholics be a flame to drive us together, and yes, to work out our differences.

    In XC,
    J. Andrew

  106. Andrew,

    My view of irreconcilability is based on Perry’s comment #69 (emphasis mine).

    When Seraphim speaks of apohatic theology limited to the East, he doesn’t mean by that the via negativa, which is a different gloss than what the East means by it. If Eastern Rite Catholics held to what the Orthodox called apophatic theology, they’d have to deny the Beatific Vision as we do.

    For someone like Albert (the Great) for example huperousia means “superessential being” or self subsisting being. For us, it is not being in any possible sense whatsoever. God is not-being at intra and that is not a denial of mere ens commune either. We disagree over how we interpret Dionysius for example.

    I addressed the point in the second paragraph in comment #96 and will address the point in the first paragraph next.

    Now, should I just downplay Perry’s points and assume that he is not representative of EOs? Should I assume the same about the people behind http://www.greekorthodoxchurch.org/theosis_how.html ?

    So, we unite with God through His uncreated energies, and not through His essence. This is the mystery of our Orthodox faith and life.

    Western heretics cannot accept this. Being rationalist, they do not discern between the essence and the energy of God, so, they say that God is only essence. And for this reason they cannot speak about man’s deification (gr. theosis).

  107. I will again apply this criterion stated by Ray Stamper in #78 and with which I completely agree:

    “In my mind, the data of divine revelation trumps the technical claims of theologians and philosophers by virtue of the fact that the former derives from a superior authority. If I had in one hand what I knew to be a God-authorized statement about some doctrine, and in the other what looked like a bullet proof philosophical or theological argument to the contrary – I would go with the former EVERY time and conclude that somewhere within the argument there lay a hidden flaw.”

    to point 4 of RC-EO doctrinal disagreement related to the teachings of EO St Gregory Palamas, as I listed them in my comment #102 , which was also raised in the first paragraph of Perry’s comment #69.

    Catholic version:

    C4. Beatific Vision: angels and saints in Heaven “see the divine essence with an intuitive vision and even face to face, without the mediation of any creature by way of object of vision; rather the divine essence immediately manifests itself to them, plainly, clearly and openly, and in this vision they enjoy the divine essence.” (Pope Benedict XII 1336, Constitution “Benedictus Deus”).

    On the other hand, RC St Thomas Aquinas distinguishes between vision and comprehension. Creatures in the beatific vision see the whole, but they do not comprehend it wholly. Only God wholly comprehends God, as no created intellect can comprehend the divine essence (not even the soul of Jesus!)

    EO Version:

    O4. Angels and saints in Heaven do not see the divine essence, only the divine energies.

    Of course, one way to solve the disagreement would be to prove that there is no ontological distinction between the divine essence and energies, i.e. to solve point 2 in #102. However, I will proceed the other way.

    There are two NT passages that are the most relevant regarding this issue:

    At present we see indistinctly, as in a mirror, but then face to face. At present I know partially; then I shall know fully, as I am fully known. (1 Cor 13:12)

    Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. (1 Jn 3:2)

    Most clearly, the statements that “I shall know fully, as I am fully known.” and that “we shall see him as he is” are not compatible with Palamas’ doctrine that the blessed do not see the divine essence. Moreover, the Pauline statement seems at first sight even incompatible with Aquinas’ restriction that the blessed do not comprehend the divine essence, because God certainly does comprehend mine!

  108. I think the original objection is solid and remains largely untouched due to various tangents this talk has taken. The truth is the EO response to valid sacraments is largely subjective – and this is a clear flaw in their system. Perry has his opinion, but it’s not authoritative even. The fact is EO priests and bishops and such give contradictory answers. Fact: some EO rebaptize Catholics, some don’t. No solution.

    I respect Perry a lot, but his main response to this was turning the answer into a question to us of why certain heretics were rebaptized while others were not. This doest answer the question and doesn’t give a solution.

    And the issue of purity for succession (as opposed to indelible) just opens the door for any EO to deny fellow EO valid orders on more or less private authoritative interpretation grounds. This can be seen even in the Perry vs Jones case, where both were largely eqally matched, where the latter deemed most of EO to be in apostasy. And if the West can lose their orders, then the same can happen in the EO.

  109. Ray,

    You wrote:

    “Well, for what little its worth, I think the only real “authority basis” eveident in that entire shpeal is Perry Robinson.”

    This seems to confuse authority and accuracy. Perry obviously isn’t claiming to be an authority (see the definition below) about these matters; he is just claiming to correctly identify and interpret what an actual authority says.

    Authority is the normative power to bind human consciences to believe and do certain things. Accuracy is the ability to correctly represent reality or truth, or the ability to make correct inferences. Those aren’t the same.

    You wrote:

    “Your effort to produce an authoritative historical reconstruction from the monuments of Christian tradition would make any Reformed “sola” theologian proud.”

    Yeah, its possible that it would make a Reformed theologian proud. But that’s no surprise, given the widespread misunderstanding about the distinction between accuracy and authority in the way that Protestants formulate the doctrine of private judgment. Consider Charles Hodge’s letter to Pius IX:

    “But although we do not decline your invitation because we are either heretics or schismatics, we are nevertheless debarred from accepting it, because we still hold with ever increasing confidence those principles for which our fathers were excommunicated and pronounced accursed by the Council of Trent, which represented, and still represents, the Church over which you preside.
    First…
    Secondly, the right of private judgment. When we open the Scriptures, we find that they are addressed to the people. They speak to us. We are commanded to search them (John 5:39). To believe what they teach. We are held personally responsible for our faith. The apostle commands us to pronounce accursed an apostle or an angel from heaven who should [teach] anything contrary to the divinely authenticated Word of God (Gal. 1:8). He made us the judges, and has placed the rule of judgment into our hands, and holds us responsible for our judgments.”

    The problem is that private judgment is different from individual intellectual competency, and Hodge (as well as many a Protestant) does not distinguish between the two. This is because they do not distinguish carefully between accuracy and authority. He thinks that the necessity of our intellectual competency in understanding divine doctrine implies that we use private judgment when we read anything that is (or claims to be) divine teaching and come to a conclusion about its meaning.

    Private judgment, when correctly formulated (correcting the confusion about accuracy and authority), is not the idea that an individual must interpret divine teaching. It is the doctrine that denies there is any intrinsically authoritative doctrinal decision that the Church can make. Thus, there is no authoritative, much less infallible, interpretation of the Bible. And as such, any Credal formulation or recognition of the biblical canon is a human act with no intrinsic authority. So each interpretation of divine doctrine is therefore revisable in terms of its authority–some argument could in principle overturn the formulation, even if we have overwhelming reason to accept it as true. Why? Because only infallible authority can make a doctrine conscience-binding in an unqualified way, and make a doctrinal formulation unrevisable in terms of its authority.

    Individual intellectual competency is the ability to correctly understand any data, including divinely authoritative teachings. An intellectually competent individual is still fallible; but that does not prevent a person from accurately recognizing infallible authorities, recognizing their decisions, or correctly interpreting their decisions. Our understanding of divine doctrine is subject to error, and is therefore a revisable understanding; but the doctrine itself is unrevisable.

    You wrote:

    “If nothing about, or unique to, Christianity can get us any better answers to such questions why bother? I for one, get pagans: “eat drink and be merry for tomorrow die” makes eminent sense to me if there is “in principle” no possible way we can have better assurance as to what the answers to the “big” question might be from Christian faith than from humanity opinion.”

    It is possible to misidentify or misinterpret an infallible, unrevisable doctrinal formulation; but that is neither surprising nor fatally problematic. It isn’t surprising because it seems to happen frequently in the history of Christianity, beginning in the New Testament. And it isn’t problematic, because there is still a huge benefit gained from the fact that there are infallible, unrevisable theological statements. This is true both in terms of Christianity vis a vis paganism with respect to an infallible revelation; and of Catholicism/Orthodoxy vis a vis Protestantism with respect to an infallible interpretation of revelation.

    What is the gain? The fact that when you correctly identify and interpret such statements, you are conscience bound to accept what they say in virtue of their inherent authority. With normal human statements, when you correctly identify and interpret them, you aren’t bound to accept them. With divine doctrine, when you see it and understand it you must accept it. So Christianity can provide decisive answers; it just can’t guarantee that we will completely understand them.

    Is that different, on a practical level, from just reasoning through the muddy fog of reality philosophically? Yep. Even if my reasons for thinking that x is divine doctrine are only 1% better than my reasons for thinking y is divine doctrine (lets say I have 34.33% reason to think x is divine doctrine, 33.33% to think y is divine doctrine, and 32.33% to think z is divine doctrine; maybe x is Christianity, y Judaism, z Islam) this is still sufficient to completely bind my conscience with respect to everything included in doctrine x. In other words, if I have better reason to accept that x is divine teaching, I automatically should believe everything x teaches. I don’t have to be able to argue for each proposition contained in teaching x. If I know x is divine teaching (or even just have better reason to think it is divine teaching than its alternatives) then I am conscience-bound to accept everything in x.

    On the other hand, if x1, y1, and z1 are each just a bunch of philosophically-argued propositions (maybe they are different schools of Greek philosophy, all with their respective teachings based in reason?), then I need an argument for every particular proposition contained in x. In order to be conscience-bound to accept the teachings of x1, I need to be given an argument to accept propositions p1, p2, … pn that x1 contains. Because there’s no divine authority involved, my conscience is only bound to accept the teachings of a philosophical school if I can give arguments for each of its teachings.

    So our ability to accurately identify that Christianity is revelation can bind our consciences to accept everything Christianity says. We may be confused about what some of it means, but we are bound to accept it.

    How, given the difficulty of identifying and interpreting divine teaching, are Catholics and Orthodox in a different position from Protestants? Practically speaking, what does a denial of private judgment do?

    It might seem at first like I can just go and reinterpret infallible teachings whatever way I want. After all, isn’t it possible to misinterpret what the Pope or Councils say? And couldn’t I make them fit my pet philosophical paradigm, given that I must *reason through* different proposed interpretations of these infallible statements to figure out who is *most likely* to be correctly interpreting the infallible interpretations? Well, its possible to mess up. And there are probably cases where Councils or Popes are hard to understand; in those situations, it isn’t as helpful on a practical level to have them.

    But think about an example. Lets grant that the teachings of the Council of Nicea are divine doctrine, and you know this. Would it really be possible to be an Arian and remain in the Church in good conscience? It seems not; obviously the Council was in response to Arianism, and explicitly teaches the divinity of the Son. But that’s a different situation from a Protestant. It really isn’t obvious from Scripture *in the same way* that the Son is divine. And the Scriptures aren’t written in response to Arianism. There’s much more leeway for Arianism if you just have the Bible (Jehovah’s Witnesses seem to be an example). Not so much if you have an authoritative interpretation of the Bible. That’s why no Jehovah’s witnesses endorse the Nicene Creed–they *know what it means* because there’s just something a bit more clear about it, especially considering that it is a response to something similar to their views. You don’t see JWs going around saying “well, I accept homoousias, I just think it means ‘one object of will’, and that it means that the Father and Son both will the same thing, even though they are different kinds of beings”. Even though we aren’t 100% sure what the Creed means, we are sure enough, and this makes such statements as the above quote sound embarrassing.

    That isn’t to say that Scripture isn’t sufficiently clear about the divinity of the Word; its just not clear to the same degree, or in a responsive way. There’s not the same forcefulness or vivacity to the Scriptural statements about the Incarnation when it comes to trying to exercise Church discipline and prevent heresy from intruding. So there is practical significance to denying private judgment in at least some cases; and that’s important and helpful (even if there are less-clear cases).

  110. Nick,

    See my comments:

    31. 63. 106.

    The problem is it seems that Roman Catholics are fallible identifiers and interpreters of an infallible Magisterium. One’s application of the criteria of Vatican I is fallible, as is one’s ability to identify Vatican I as an infallible teaching. In that way, RC and EO are both in the same position vis a vis identifying and interpreting infallible ecclesial teaching. We have to look for the most plausible, reasonable, attempt to identify and interpret a Church’s teaching.

    Orthodoxy has criteria for identifying infallible teaching in the Canon of St. Vincent of Lerins. But we should recognize our own fallibility when it comes to applying this canon. And once we’ve identified the infallible teachings of the Orthodox Church, we are fallible in our interpretations of those teachings.

    So do you disagree and think EO and RC are in different positions about how to identify or legislate doctrine and practice? If so, how?

  111. MG,

    You make a good point and it’s exemplified by the comments that Johannes is making about Orthodox apophatic understanding of God. The statements that maintain that Orthodox have valid sacraments and are truly Churches (while lacking the fullness of unity and catholicity in not being in communion with the Pope) are not being taken into consideration. And as I put it in my article, my love for Orthodox Christians is not always what Catholics have expressed.

    J. Andrew
    p.s. And just to reiterate for the nth time, I see love and truth as connected. It’s just that when I see our disagreements I do see them as either a) complementary and not essentially different or b) imperfections on both sides of the debate that do not make us fundamentally distinct.

  112. In comment #102 I listed the four points of disagreement between RCs and EOs which are related to the teachings of EO St Gregory Palamas. Two of them are, in their EO version:

    O2. There is a real, ontological distinction between divine essence and divine energies. God is his essence and his energies. The divine essence is the cause of the divine energies, which are uncreated. Each divine Person is the divine essence and the divine energies.

    O3. Deification (theosis) is union with God through his energies (uncreated energy of the Holy Spirit = uncreated grace), and not through his essence.

    Let’s assume for a moment that O2 is true, and examine O3 in light of the last statement in Jesus’ priestly prayer.

    “I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.” (Jn 17:26)

    Jesus is asking that “the love with which the Father has loved Him” may be in us. Is Jesus talking about the love with which the Father eternally loves the Son in the Godhead, or about the love with which the Father loves the Son in his human nature? The answer is just two verses before:

    “that they may see my glory that you gave me, because you loved me before the foundation of the world.” (Jn 17:24)

    which can even be complemented with this, in case there were any remaining doubts:

    “And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.” (Jn 15:5)

    Therefore it is clear that “the love with which the Father has loved Jesus”, which Jesus asks that “may be in us”, is the love with which the Father eternally loves the Son in the Godhead. Now, assuming that there is a real, ontological distinction between divine essence and energies, the love with which the Father eternally loves the Son “ad-intra” must necessarily be at the level of the essence. And if this love is in us, then the proposition that we only interact with God’s energies is false.

    Now, let’s try to learn more about that love by looking again at Jn 17:26. Jesus is placing that love on an equal standing with Himself regarding the desired presence of both in the disciples. This can be seen more clearly in some translations of that verse, such as in the New Jerusalem Bible:

    “so that the love with which you loved me may be in them, and so that I may be in them.” (Jn 17:26b)

    The only possible interpretation then is that the love with which the Father eternally loves the Son in the Godhead is the Holy Spirit. So Jesus is asking that the Holy Spirit may be in us. He is thus fulfilling at this moment the promise He had made earlier to the disciples:

    And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate (“Paraclete”) to be with you always, the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot accept, because it neither sees nor knows him. But you know him, because he remains with you, and will be in you. (Jn 14:16-17)

    And at this point, with the help of God and asking for the light of the Holy Spirit, I can address the issue of Filioque. Can the love with which the Father eternally loves the Son remain unilateral? Will not the Son reciprocate by eternally loving the Father with the same love? Or does this truth revealed by Jesus apply only to the activity of the Son “ad-extra”:

    To this Jesus replied: “In all truth I tell you, by himself the Son can do nothing; he can do only what he sees the Father doing: and whatever the Father does the Son does too.” (Jn 5:19)

    If God is love, if the Son is “the exact imprint of God’s being” (Hb 1:3), if the Son does “whatever the Father does”, there can be no possible doubt that the love with which the Father eternally loves the Son is eternally and equally reciprocated. And since this love is the Holy Spirit, this is a most clear and firm basis for affirming “that the holy Spirit is eternally from the Father and the Son, … and proceeds from both eternally as from one principle and a single spiration.” (Ecumenical Council of Florence, session 6)

    Therefore the Filioque is central to the RC conception of God.

  113. MG:

    I’m pleased to see how you define and reject “private judgment.” To that extent, we are at one. But you also advance a thesis in #31, #63, and #106 whose form is that of the tu quoque: unlike what Catholics seem to think, they are in no better a position than the Orthodox either to identify irreformable teachings of the Church as such or to interpret them. Now whether that thesis is true or not, your argument for it does not succeed. Why not?

    In order to identify irreformable teachings of the Church as such and interpret them, we must be antecedently clear about what counts as “the Church.” Only then can we reliably identify that infallible teaching authority which, ex hypothesi, binds the Church. Obversely, when the question is which communion, the Roman or the Orthodox, counts as “the” Church, the answer must enable the inquirer to know both the Church’s criteria for the exercise of magisterial infallibility and the way in which teaching that satisfies those criteria are understood by the Church over time. Your argument does not succeed because it assumes that Orthodox ecclesiology is as clear as Catholic about the identity of something called “the Church,” about the criteria for the exercise of the infallibility of whatever is thought to be “the Church,” and about how the mind of “the Church”—as distinct from the mind of any particular believer—interprets irreformable teachings over time. That assumption is, at the very least, debatable. I explain why here.

    If you want to carry on debate over this particular issue, though, I suggest you do so in a venue other than this thread. I think Mr. Deane has had enough.

    Best,
    Mike

  114. David (#97):

    The pyramid model of the monarchy of the Father, in the sense that Perry and other would likely argue for seems to confuse rather than clarify our understanding of the Persons of the Trinity. The biggest problem I see is that it seems to mean that like the Son the Holy Spirit is also eternally begotten of the Father IF the Son is not in some way involved in the procession of the Holy Spirit. Is that a legitimate concern or am I missing something?

    It is true that the model you describe does not explain how the hypostatic origination of the Spirit differs from that of the Son, save of course by name. But in the view of those who accept that model, that lack is not a problem. For they don’t think divine revelation affords us any basis for explaining how, as distinct from that, the origination of the Spirit’s hypostasis differs from that of the Son. Of course I don’t agree with that view. I believe, with most Catholic theologians, that the distinction of “mission” between the Son and the Spirit in the economy of salvation reveals something about how their respective hypostatic origination differs within the Godhead itself. But that belief is a minority opinion in Orthodoxy.

    Best,
    Mike

  115. The Son is eternally Begotton of the Father, The Holy Spirit eternally Proceeds from the Father.

  116. Someone way up above in this increasingly confusing thread suggested that heterodox Catholic bishops cannot be in valid Apostolic Succession (by virtue of their heterodoxy); therefore Catholicism is nothing but empty ritual and “incantation.” The implication seemed to be that there are no heterodox Orthodox bishops. (Presumably, heterodox Orthodox bishops would similarly invalidate Orthodoxy…non?)

    I would humbly suggest that the claim that there are no heterodox Orthodox bishops is wishful thinking to the nth power.

    If this is indeed what the commenter was suggesting, then all I can say is…whew. Does polemical hubris know no limits?

  117. Western heretics cannot accept this. Being rationalist, they do not discern between the essence and the energy of God, so, they say that God is only essence. And for this reason they cannot speak about man’s deification (gr. theosis).

    Whew. This statement from an official Greek Orthodox website sums up, for me, why I could never become Orthodox.

    It’s what von Balthasar called the “anti mentality.” In my admittedly limited experience, it seems the Orthodox can seldom define themselves without defining themselves against The Other. One seeks in vain for an Orthodox explanation of Orthodoxy that is entirely positive in tone and substance. Seldom does one encounter “Orthodoxy is wonderful because we believe and do A, B, C”; rather, it’s almost invariably “Orthodoxy is wonderful because we believe and do A, B, C — UNLIKE those legalistic, rationalistic Western heretics.”

    I find it hard to believe that such relentless “anti” bashing of other Christians can truly represent the One True Church, the fullness of the faith. Let’s just say that I am not exactly feeling the love. And, last time I checked, love was supposed to be the chief characteristic of disciples of Christ.

    Please don’t get me wrong. Like Andrew, I fully acknowledge the many, many occasions when Catholics and other Western Christians have committed grave sins of uncharity against the Orthodox. Heck, I am even prepared to repent and say “mea culpa” over offenses that occurred over 800 years ago. ;-)

    But what bothers me about the EO anti-mentality is that it seems, well, institutionalized. It seems to be woven into the very fabric of Orthodoxy. “We do this or that UNLIKE the West” seems to be the Orthodox mantra. (Many Orthodox reject this mantra, of course, and that is wonderful…but the fact that it appears on official Orthodox websites and in official Orthodox catechetical materials is cause for concern.)

    Please forgive me, but I do not see how such a divisive attitude can make people happy. I can see how it might appeal to angry Calvinists, who make an easy transition to becoming just as angry Orthodox. But anger, division, exclusion, repudiation of The Other — surely that would not make most people happy?

    In my Real Life experience, I know Orthodox who do not exemplify this “anti” mentality. I suspect that many ordinary Orthodox “on the ground” are weary of all the fighting and division. But, then, they are just ordinary joes living their lives among Western Christian friends and neighbors; they don’t have advanced degrees in Triadology…and therefore they do not post on Internet fora like this one. Which is a pity, because they might bring some much-needed common sense and sanity to the discussion.

    God bless,

    Diane

  118. Fr. Gregory, thank you for your testimony.

    I hope you will not mind if I add you to my prayer list. Each week I pray before our parish’s statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe for various Christians whom I know, that they may return to the One Flock in communion with the Holy Father. That is my special intention for la Guadalupana, that she may convey it to her Son.

    Hope y’all had a wonderful FD of the Dormition!

    Diane

  119. […] Jensen’s Journey to Orthodoxy I came across this comment from Fr. Gregory Jensen in a combox of another blog recently and was impressed with his testimony. I think important lessons can be drawn from it […]

  120. [i]It’s what von Balthasar called the “anti mentality.” In my admittedly limited experience, it seems the Orthodox can seldom define themselves without defining themselves against The Other. One seeks in vain for an Orthodox explanation of Orthodoxy that is entirely positive in tone and substance. Seldom does one encounter “Orthodoxy is wonderful because we believe and do A, B, C”; rather, it’s almost invariably “Orthodoxy is wonderful because we believe and do A, B, C — UNLIKE those legalistic, rationalistic Western heretics.”[/i]

    “One seeks in vain”? “Seldom does one encounter…”?

    Have you read Fr. Hopko’s 4 volume work The Orthodox Faith? It’s one of the main resources on the OCA website and is arguably one of the primary resources on Orthodoxy.

    Have you read Metropolitan Kallistos Ware’s The Orthodox Church, another excellent primary resource?

    Have you read the catechism by Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev that’s online?

    Have you read Fr. Olivier Clement’s The Roots of Christian Mysticism?

    There are several others I could similarly mention.

    Sometimes I think you paint with too wide a brush, Diane. :)

    Dave

  121. Hi Dave,
    I wonder if you could say something about the 1848 letter from Orthodox regarding Catholics as heretics?

    Thanks.

  122. I feel the need to make an important clarification: my quote from the EO site in comment #106 must be seen in conjunction with what I said in comment #102. Then it will be clear that in #106 I did not quote from the site to show offense by EOs calling RCs “heretics”, but to show that EOs do feel that there are substantial doctrinal disagreements beyond Filioque and papal primacy.

    And I think the issue of the relationship between charity and calling the other part “heretics” deserves some consideration of its own. But before, I think it will be useful in the RC-EO dialogue (and actually in the whole ecumenical dialogue) to adopt the convention of using “orthodoxy” to refer to any system’s orthodoxy and reserve “Orthodoxy” to refer specifically to “EO orthodoxy”. Thus we would say that the dogma of Immaculate Conception (IC) is part of “RC orthodoxy”.

    As I understand it, the term “heresy” means for both RCs and EOs any heterodox doctrine, currently restricted to not denying one of the core truths of Christianity (monotheism and Trinity), in which case it becomes apostasy. Thus for both RCs and EOs Nestorianism, Monophysitism, Miaphysitism and Calvinism are heresies, but Arianism is currently apostasy.

    On the other hand, the term “heretics” has currently different uses for RCs and EOs. RCs used to apply it to any person holding a heterodox doctrine, but now we restrict it to those who pass from RC orthodoxy to heterodoxy and do not apply it to people who are born in Churches or ecclesial communities holding heterodox doctrines. Thus currently RCs do not call a Calvinist by birth heretic, but an RC would be called heretic if tomorrow he were to deny e.g. the dogma of IC. And as far as I know, this restricted use of the term is just a matter of good manners and completely optional, which means it is by no means mandated by any decree from Vatican II, the Pope, or a Vatican dicastery.

    Now, the fact that we RCs have lately restricted the use of the term “heretics” to designate people going from RC orthodoxy to heterodoxy does NOT entitle us to expect EOs to use the term in a matching way, because they have every right to keep using the term to designate people holding heterodox doctrines, whether they were born in communities holding those doctrines or not. We could only complain about that (and I certainly wouldn’t) if there were a statement in that direction from a joint RC-EO dialogue commission. But on the one hand, we know that EOs would not see any duty of conscience to abide by the resolutions of such commission, i.e. a Serbian EO would see the duty to not call RCs heretics only if so mandated by either a synod of the Serbian Autocephalus Church or a Pan-EO synod. And on the other hand, if EOs honestly think that holy orders are not indelible and that therefore communities holding heterodox doctrines lack full sacramental life, the charitable thing for them to do is to alert people in those communities about their situation, and they would fail that duty if they did not call a spade a spade. Again, if I were driving the wrong way along a highway, I would not want to be told “You are driving in a sub-optimal direction.”

    To apply this to practice, let’s start with a hypothetical situation “RC ad-intra” regarding an RC guy Felix and the doctrine of IC, which was defined as dogma by Pope Pius IX in 1854.

    – If Felix denies IC, he is a heretic against that dogma.

    – If Felix does not deny IC but states that it is just a theologumenon, he is, from a subjective viewpoint, either still a heretic, but now against the dogma of papal infallibility, or a far deep sedevacantist. From an RC objective viewpoint, since Pius IX was a legitimate Pope, Felix is a heretic against the dogma of papal infallibility.

    Let’s next consider the doctrine of Filioque, which was defined as dogma by ecumenical councils of 2 Lyon (1274) and Florence (1439).

    – Denial of Filioque is heresy against that dogma.

    – Statement that Filioque is just a theologumenon is, from a subjective viewpoint, either still heresy, but now against the dogma of conciliar infallibility, or denial that 2 Lyon and Florence were ecumenical councils. From an RC objective viewpoint, since 2 Lyon and Florence were ecumenical councils, it is heresy against the dogma of conciliar infallibility.

  123. It is “Autocephalous”.

  124. Tap (#79):

    I hate to disagree with you, on this but not [the filioque clause] would not have to dissappear. If nearly EO bishop at the council of Florence accepted its presence in the Western creed, i don’t see why a future Council will not reject it. Of course we would not require they use it in their creeds, just like we don’t the Eastern Catholics, but you’ll be courting disaster to change our creed to appease the spirit of Mark Eugenikos. Won’t happen. The Orthodox would have to read of Creeds and traditions as charitably as we seem to read theirs, or there won’t be a reunion.

    I have no desire to “appease the spirit of Mark Eugenikos.” But as I’ve said, I believe it was a needless blow to church unity to insert the filioque clause into the Latin version of the ecumenical Creed to begin with. To heal the wound of that blow, it is necessary to to remove the intellectual obstacles to contemporary Orthodox acceptance of the truth expressed by the filioque.

    Mark’s rejection of the filioque soon prevailed in Orthodoxy because the Orthodox faithful even then could not understand how it is compatible with the monarchy of the Father. In fact, the records we have of the proceedings of Florence-Ferrara indicated that many of the Eastern bishops at the Council didn’t understand it either; they acquiesced because the Emperor did, for reasons of his own. So, the sort of change I’m proposing for the Latin Creed would make clear how the doctrine expressed by the clause is indeed compatible with the monarchy of the Father.

    That the filioque as it now stands ought to be read charitably is true, but also irrelevant. As formulated, it’s too vague to preclude heterodox interpretations. For the sake of reunion, we don’t need words that can be construed in an orthodox sense. We need words that cannot be construed in a heterodox sense.

    Best,
    Mike

  125. Hi, Dave. I seem to recall that you yourself used to bemoan the pervasiveness of the Orthodox “anti” mentality. IMHO anyone who would deny its existence — or its pervasiveness — is perhaps not paying sufficient attention. On the Internet it is literally everywhere. And yes, I have encountered it in Real Life, too, notably at our otherwise excellent local Greek Festival. The pamphlets at the sanctuary tour–oy!! They are textbook cases of exactly what I have been talking about: The cover shows a timeline of Church History in which the pope veers off from the True Church, exemplified by the other patriarchs, circa 1054. (Sorry, but such polemics always remind me of the line from 1066 and All That to the effect that the pope broke off from the Church of England at the time of the Reformation, LOL.) I cannot remotely imagine a parallel case at a Catholic parish — a case in which pamphlets for visitors rip into other Christians. It. Doesn’t. Happen. Our tracts and pamphlets tend to be more pastoral…certainly not polemical.

    What’s more, the local GOA sanctuary-tour pamphlets are tame compared with the polemical screeds handed to me at the Greek Orthodox bookstore (during the same festival). These latter left such a sour taste in my stomach that even the church ladies’ excellent souvlaki almost could not overcome it.

    The “anti” mentality is real. One former Orthodox priest, now Eastern Catholic, once described it as “the gospel of division and exclusion.” His words were perhaps too harsh — apparently he’d had some bad experiences — but “division and exclusion” certainly describes some of the stuff I’ve encountered. Including the line quoted above from the orthodoxinfo website!

    Anyway, I will keep praying for you before la Guadalupana, if that’s OK. I have never once stopped doing so since you told me you were leaving communion with the Holy Father. :D

  126. Dr. Liccione, If i remember correctly you even made the case on your blog sometime, that this would cause confusion among Catholics. Something i think you might not be anticipating is a western schism, you think all the western bishops are going to keep quiet if the Filioque would be deleted from the creed? . I still think (and i hate to disagree with you on this), that chartiable reading of our creed is all that is needed.

    In addition, deleting the filioque from the creed is not going to heal the schism. You’ll be opening the flood gates for those who want every excuse to keep the schism going: “Now that you’ve deleted the creed, can you please denounce Abosulte Divine Simplicity as an incompatible dogma with our Energy-Essence distinctions?, oh by the way that now you’ve reversed yourself, umm….about Vatican I, all those council were done without the input of the east,….umm can we at least admit the Pope is not infallibe under your so called “some -conditions.”…..You get the picture.

  127. Diane,

    I am grateful for any prayers offered in my behalf. I trust God to fulfill His will. So, seriously, thank you for such prayers.

    I am puzzled by your response. You basically ignored my comment re: your broad brush. Are you now saying you only meant you looked in vain at the local Greek parish during its festival? That isn’t what your post said. As to what I have said in the past. Do you seriously think when I was Catholic that I would have classed Fr. Hopko, Metropolitan Kallistos, Olivier Clement, Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev with the types of people you are referring to? If so, you are misrepesenting me.

    Also, you referred to von Balthasar’s comments on the “anti mentality.” You don’t mean he applied that to Orthodoxy, do you? I seriously doubt that he did. I tend to believe he had a much more balanced view of the Orthodox Churches than that.

    I’m open to discussing some of the charges you make against some Orthodox — it seems to be a favorite of yours from what I’ve read elsewhere. But, first, would you be willing to withdraw your statements?:

    “One seeks in vain for an Orthodox explanation of Orthodoxy that is entirely positive in tone and substance. Seldom does one encounter “Orthodoxy is wonderful because we believe and do A, B, C…”

    If you don’t have the books I referenced I would be happy to help send a volume or two along. I highly recommend starting with Olivier Clement’s The Roots of Christian Mysticism for starters.

    In XC,

    Dave

  128. Jonathan,

    It’s been awhile since I’d read the 1848 Encyclical of the Eastern Patriarchs and I thank you for prompting me to read it again.

    First, I want to ask if anyone knows where one can read an English translation of Pope Pius IX’s “In Suprema Petri Apostoli Sede” dated 6 January 1848 which precipitated this response from these Orthodox Patriarchs? I would be quite grateful if I could read what prompted this response.

    A sense of the theme can be seen in the English translation of the title: “On the Supreme Throne of Peter the Apostle.” According to Fr. Aidan Nicholas, the text of Pius IX’s encyclical was not sent to the Orthodox Bishops but “in thousand upon thousand of free copies to their faithful.” Section 9 of the Patriarch’s reply says it was 12 pages in Greek “disseminated, like a plague coming from without, within our Orthodox Fold” and claims it calumniates the Orthodox Patriarchs as “severed from our Fathers, as careless of our sacred trusts.” I may be wrong but I’m guessing Pope Pius IX was a bit triumphalistic and lacked some of the tact and grace that exemplifies some later Roman Popes. Interestingly, the Orthodox Patriarchs still referred to the Pope as “his Holiness” over 30 times in their encyclical.

    But, you asked specifically about the Orthodox Patriarch’s reply referring to Catholics as heretics. That it does. What to make of that?

    Heresy is a word we see less of these days. However, it’s appeared in this thread as noted by our friend Johannes does in post 122. Similarly, Fr. John Hardon, of blessed memory, made the point:

    “Since the Vatican definitions on papal authority, however, it is scarcely possible for a person to be only a schismatic without also being a heretic…Beginning in the eleventh century as a rebellion against Roman autonomy, [the Eastern Orthodox Church] now rejects the teaching of the Councils of Trent and Vatican, and widely professes doctrinal errors that are objective heresy; universally denying papal infallibility…”
    http://www.therealpresence.org/archives/Church_Dogma/Church_Dogma_028.htm

    Now, I realize that Catholic teaching also differentiates between material and formal heretics and nowadays tends to limit its use (as noted by Johannes above). Being a heretic didn’t automatically mean, according to Catholic sources, that one was damned to hell:

    “Schismatics in good faith (material) like heretics in good faith, can, by a desire to belong to the Church (votum Ecclesiae), belong spiritually to the Church, and through this achieve justification and salvation.” (Ott, Fundamentals of Catholic Theology, p. 311)

    Orthodox have a similar take here. Orthodoxy does not judge a heretic’s love for God nor presume to judge that a heretic’s final destiny is lost.

    Where do I stand? I clearly do not subscribe to the papal definitions of Vatican I and II. As a Byzantine Catholic I had a fairly nuanced view of papal primacy. Eventually, I leaned towards the proposal of Archbishop Zoghby. I came to the realization that my carefully re-worded understanding of Vatican I and II was in reality more of a rejection of it. So, I have no problems with being labeled a heretic by some Catholics for such denial. Do I feel papal supremacy as taught by Vatican I and II is heretical? I would say it’s definitely a wrong teaching and that the Catholic Church made a BIG mistake in raising that teaching to dogma. I’ll stop shy of the word heretical and let the Bishops hash it out. It’s nothing I see as a possibility in a re-united Church, however.

    I’m not sure if it’s been noted above (I’ve not read every combox post here), but Fr. Jensen has just recently finished a series on the issue of the Orthodox view of Catholicism. I thought it quite good. The final post gives some of his conclusions:

    http://palamas.info/?p=5282

    I think it’s well worth a read. It won’t please everyone but I think it’s a step in the right direction.

  129. To be sure, as Diane has pointed out here (#125) there is a pervasive anti-Catholic mentality among Orthodox Christians. Denying this is pointless and foolish and I have called other Orthodox Christians on it both publicly and privately.

    At the same time, there is–again as has been pointed out here by Perry (#51) there is also a noticeable anti-Orthodox tendency among at least some Catholics. That this is not a pervasive as Orthodox Christian anti-Catholicism is undeniable. What is not clear, to me at least, is whether or not this reflects true charity, theological/historical illiteracy or religious indifference. My recent experience of the life of the Catholic Church in America is slight–I taught theology for two years at Duquesne University (2004-2006?) while my wife was a law student at DU–but it would suggest to me some combination of the three with poor catechesis being the primary factor.

    At the same time, this is not to say that poor catechesis does not have a role to play in Orthodox anti-Catholicism. It does, even if it takes a different form among the Orthodox than among the Catholics.

    Where, however, I would disagree with my Catholic brothers and sisters is with the notion that the anti-Catholicism they rightly criticize is institutional; it is not. While individual Orthodox Christians–laity and clergy–are guilty of this sin, it is not the Orthodox Church as such which is anti-Catholic anymore than the Catholic Church as such is responsible for say the sacking of Constantinople (to pull an Orthodox favorite).

    Yes, there is a pervasive anti-Catholic mentality among the Orthodox. But in a conversation about the theological differences between our two Churches this is a red herring. I do think that the psychological question of various attitudes of Orthodox Christians toward Roman Catholics is an important one–as is, by the way, the diversity of not always irenic Catholic attitudes toward the Orthodox–but it seems to me that we must be careful to not mix psychological and theological questions.

    From either side the advantage of such confusion is that it allows the speaker to overlook his own shortcoming and the failures of his own Church. For example, this particular thread has–rightly–focused on the deficiencies of Orthodox sacramental theology relative to the Catholic Church. But unless I missed it, there has been no indication that Catholic commentators are aware of the Catholic Church’s deviation from 19 centuries of settled sacramental practice in both the East and West. I am referring here to the innovation of of admitting to Holy Communion individuals who have been baptized but not yet confirmed. This is modern practice, instituted on papal authority (Pope St Pius X).

    Latin rite theologians from the Popes of Rome, to Latin bishops, parish priests, theologians and catchesis, have all defended the legitimacy of this practice. Typically the defend the practice in itself and at times even relative to the practice of the East (which, with some differences is also the historical practice of the Latin rite). One quick example of the latter, I have spoken to Byzantine Catholics who were chrismated and admitted to Holy Communion as infants and then denied Communion by Latin priests because they were too young or hadn’t made their first confession. And in many cases even (re-) confirmed by Latin bishops.

    For those interested, I will later today post on my own blog (http://palamas.info) a more extended treatment of the issues I’ve raised here. To anticipate, I do think that while Catholics are right to object to much of the rhetorical excesses of Orthodox apologists, they are often unaware of how not simply individual Catholics, but official Catholic policy have contributed to the hard feelings.

    Asking your prayers.

    In Christ,

  130. All,
    Thanks for your thoughts.
    I spent about 30 minutes writing a comment and am so frustrated for having lost it. This will no doubt be an inferior version of what I originally wrote

    Thank you, Fr. Gregory, for showing your vision of what we need to come to terms with for a better appreciation of each other. I look forward to reading your posts, and hope they are read by many.

    As can be seen from this combox, mutual appreciation is a two way street. I tried to stress in the original article that the sacramental principles undergirding this respect are not always shown by Catholics, and I thank God that there are Orthodox who do grasp them as well.

    These principles of sacramental respect and seeing our differences as minor rather than major (or at least, not so major that we would view either side as lacking the sacramental life) are not fully attested to by history. But we must hold on to those great moments of clarity and charity and emulate them to the best of our ability.

    To that end, we must move beyond our failures, in doctrine, charity, or what have you. On of the most recent papal encyclicals on ecumenism is Ut Unum Sint. In it, Pope John Paul II laid out a vision for achieving this.

    He wrote:
    ———–
    Christ calls all his disciples to unity. My earnest desire is to renew this call today, to propose it once more with determination, repeating what I said at the Roman Colosseum on Good Friday 1994, at the end of the meditation on the Via Crucis prepared by my Venerable Brother Bartholomew, the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople. There I stated that believers in Christ, united in following in the footsteps of the martyrs, cannot remain divided. If they wish truly and effectively to oppose the world’s tendency to reduce to powerlessness the Mystery of Redemption, they must profess together the same truth about the Cross.1 The Cross! An anti-Christian outlook seeks to minimize the Cross, to empty it of its meaning, and to deny that in it man has the source of his new life. It claims that the Cross is unable to provide either vision or hope. Man, it says, is nothing but an earthly being, who must live as if God did not exist.

    2. No one is unaware of the challenge which all this poses to believers. They cannot fail to meet this challenge. Indeed, how could they refuse to do everything possible, with God’s help, to break down the walls of division and distrust, to overcome obstacles and prejudices which thwart the proclamation of the Gospel of salvation in the Cross of Jesus, the one Redeemer of man, of every individual?

    I thank the Lord that he has led us to make progress along the path of unity and communion between Christians, a path difficult but so full of joy. Interconfessional dialogues at the theological level have produced positive and tangible results: this encourages us to move forward.

    Nevertheless, besides the doctrinal differences needing to be resolved, Christians cannot underestimate the burden of long-standing misgivings inherited from the past, and of mutual misunderstandings and prejudices. Complacency, indifference and insufficient knowledge of one another often make this situation worse. Consequently, the commitment to ecumenism must be based upon the conversion of hearts and upon prayer, which will also lead to the necessary purification of past memories. With the grace of the Holy Spirit, the Lord’s disciples, inspired by love, by the power of the truth and by a sincere desire for mutual forgiveness and reconciliation, are called to re-examine together their painful past and the hurt which that past regrettably continues to provoke even today. All together, they are invited by the ever fresh power of the Gospel to acknowledge with sincere and total objectivity the mistakes made and the contingent factors at work at the origins of their deplorable divisions. What is needed is a calm, clear-sighted and truthful vision of things, a vision enlivened by divine mercy and capable of freeing people’s minds and of inspiring in everyone a renewed willingness, precisely with a view to proclaiming the Gospel to the men and women of every people and nation.
    ————–

    Two things stand out–he emphasizes that we need to come to agreement on our differences. We must profess the same ultimate truth, while respecting our particular genius as Western or Eastern Christians. Second, his vision of purifying our memories means that we have to rise above a way of remembering ills done on one side for the purpose of justifying our present condition. It’s a call to communion that comes from examining history TOGETHER. Isolated we can very easily write a story where we are the right party who has been only injured, never loved. Together we will find ourselves understanding one another more, loving one another more.

    This second quote is more for the Catholics here:
    ————-
    12. The same Dogmatic Constitution listed at length “the elements of sanctification and truth” which in various ways are present and operative beyond the visible boundaries of the Catholic Church: “For there are many who honour Sacred Scripture, taking it as a norm of belief and of action, and who show a true religious zeal. They lovingly believe in God the Father Almighty and in Christ, Son of God and Saviour. They are consecrated by Baptism, through which they are united with Christ. They also recognize and receive other sacraments within their own Churches or Ecclesial Communities. Many of them rejoice in the episcopate, celebrate the Holy Eucharist, and cultivate devotion towards the Virgin Mother of God. They also share with us in prayer and other spiritual benefits. Likewise, we can say that in some real way they are joined with us in the Holy Spirit, for to them also he gives his gifts and graces, and is thereby operative among them with his sanctifying power. Some indeed he has strengthened to the extent of the shedding of their blood. In all of Christ’s disciples the Spirit arouses the desire to be peacefully united, in the manner determined by Christ, as one flock under one shepherd”.15

    The Council’s Decree on Ecumenism, referring to the Orthodox Churches, went so far as to declare that “through the celebration of the Eucharist of the Lord in each of these Churches, the Church of God is built up and grows in stature”.16 Truth demands that all this be recognized.

    13. The same Document carefully draws out the doctrinal implications of this situation. Speaking of the members of these Communities, it declares: “All those justified by faith through Baptism are incorporated into Christ. They therefore have a right to be honoured by the title of Christian, and are properly regarded as brothers and sisters in the Lord by the sons and daughters of the Catholic Church”.17
    —————

    I would make these two pleas to folks commenting.
    Diane, I do not doubt that you have experienced people judging you to be heretical as a Catholic. Despite what any Orthodox says, hold on to what Pope John Paul II wrote about the fact that when the Orthodox celebrate the Eucharist. It does not just give the Orthodox life. It gives “the Church” life, building it up so that it may grow in stature. Even if someone thinks of all Catholics as heretical crusaders sacking Constantinople, etc., if they are Orthodox and they celebrate the Eucharist, they will be (knowingly or unknowingly) edifying all of us. This holy mystery is the source and summit of our salvation, after all.

    Johannes, irrespective of our doctrinal differences, we must emphasize our brotherhood first and foremost. When someone is on their deathbed, they do not call a priest or theologian to read systematic theology. I seem to recall one theologian comparing his mystical experiences to his systematic work and calling the theology straw (relatively speaking, of course). No, people on their death bed call for the last rites and receive the Body and Blood of Our Lord. That primacy of sacramental living should move us to more truth, yes, but it will never make any differences of understanding God foremost.

    I had other things to say and I can’t remember. It was tough to see a post disappear into error land.

    Have a great day,
    J. Andrew

  131. Fr. Jensen wrote:

    To be sure, as Diane has pointed out here (#125) there is a pervasive anti-Catholic mentality among Orthodox Christians. Denying this is pointless and foolish and I have called other Orthodox Christians on it both publicly and privately.

    Yes, Father, I’ve experienced it also and it is lamentable. Still, I think Diane overstated her case on this one. There are positive explanations of the Orthodox faith which are easily found and are not insignificant.

    I’ve enjoyed reading your thoughts here on this thread. Thanks!

  132. Tap (#126):

    It seems to me that you’re not engaging my actual position. For example, I agree that “a charitable reading” of the filioque should suffice, and it would if centuries of misunderstanding and resentment weren’t getting in the way of that. But the upshot of my argument was that, because those historical factors are indeed getting in the way, something more is needed in fact, even if it isn’t needed in theory. I explained what I thought that something more would be.

    If I were proposing merely that the Church should “delete” the filioque from the Latin Creed, your reply would be apposite. But that is not precisely what I propose. What I propose instead is that the clause be replaced, by a council of West and East, by another phrase that more clearly expresses the truth of the defined dogma of the filioque. I tentatively proposed a candidate for that and gave a substantive theological argument for it. But rather than address that, you cite the practical dangers of deleting the filioque, as if that were the same in substance as what I actually propose. It isn’t.

    Of course I’m inclined to agree that merely</i< deleting the filioque would have the effects you fear. That’s mainly why I propose a positive alternative to which the East as well as the West could subscribe as orthodox. I have read enough Eastern theology–patristic, medieval, and contemporary–to conclude that such a thing is possible. But mere possibility isn’t enough. What’s needed on both sides is the conviction that such a thing is not only logically possible but pastorally necessary. So far, that conviction is mostly lacking on both sides.

    And that’s the main difficulty my proposal faces. Orthodox hard-liners criticize me for proposing what’s logically impossible, and Catholic hard-liners criticize me for proposing what’s pastorally imprudent. The hearts of the hard-liners must change, or at least their numbers reduced, before meaningful progress can occur.

    Best,
    Mike

  133. Dr. Liccione, (#132)

    It seems from your post in #132 that i utterly misunderstood your post #74. My apologies.

  134. […] I wrote in a comment on another blog (Called to Communion), where I said that I acknowledged that many Protestant inquirers to the Orthodox Church come […]

  135. My attempt to explain–not justify–at least one stream of Orthodox anti-Catholic rhetoric is posted on my blog. You can read it here http://palamas.info/?p=5366.

    I suspect that Byzantine Catholics will find it more to their tastes then will Latin rite Catholics of most Orthodox converts. C’est la vie.

    In Christ,

    +FrG

  136. Michael,

    Looking at it from the Orthodox side, I agree with you that merely deleting the filioque (#132) will not be enough–yes theoretically it should but knowing the Orthodox Church as I do, merely hitting the delete button will cause suspicions among the Orthodox faithful. I think a joint East/West council to address the matter is a very good suggestion–but one above our respective pay grades I fear.

    Several years ago, a Greek Orthodox bishop told me that there was no substantive reason to continue the schism between Chalcedonian and non-Chalcedonian Christians. The schism is effectively healed in Africa. The problem is essentially pastoral–each side fears provoking a new schism within its own ranks.

    This is why, to return to my most favorite of topics, I am suspicious of most online discussions of the Great Schism. Most of what we talk about is outside our ability to change. This would be okay if it didn’t come at the expense of what we can change–how we as Catholic and Orthodox Christians can work together in areas of common pastoral, moral and cultural concern.

    Anyway, well said!

    +FrG

  137. Tap (#133):

    That’s OK. I wasn’t clear enough at first to preclude misunderstanding. Sort of like the filioque clause itself. :)

    Best,
    Mike

  138. Ray,

    I do not know why you don’t engage the historical information I provided. It is no different in kind from the historical information that Catholics provide to support their claims about the papacy. This looks like special pleading on your part since it seems you demand such “hard” data from the Orthodox to justify their position but then you refuse engage the same kind of information when it is presented against the Catholic position. Why? If I am expected to field historical questions, why aren’t Catholics?

    I don’t think “personal” adds anything to a statement. I don’t think my judgments when correct are somehow impersonal. Fallible judgments can be correct judgments. Most of our judgments are that way. I don’t think the questions were are dealing with are at the low level of opinion, since that is a view for which it is impossible to find the truth about.

    If you charge me with a fallacy, the charitable thing to do would be to demonstrate it rather that assert it. As such I dismiss the charge that lacks support out of hand.

    You tar me it seems with the Protestant doctrine of private judgment. You so it appears because you conflate accurate judgment with normative judgment, ironically, as Protestants do. I have rejected that and argued against it repeatedly. Consequently, you misrepresent my view. I don’t take myself to be an authority merely because I articulate the conditions necessary and sufficient for a normative judgment to be made, anymore than say Bryan would be an authority for articulating the Catholic view on such conditions. Consequently, you again misrepresent my view by saying it would make any Reformed advocate of sola scriptura proud. It wouldn’t since it entails a denial of the right of private judgment, without which sola scriptura is impossible.

    I think there are plenty of reasons why Protestants go to Rome rather than Jerusalem, the “mother of all churches.” One has to do with the fact that Protestantism is a schism produced in part by Rome and from Rome. Like returns to like as it were. So I don’t think the protestants return to Rome for the reasons you think they do. Orthodoxy is a harder jump in many ways for that reason. It isn’t the product of a schism. Furthermore, let’s be honest. Most converts make little effort to study Orthodox theology and history. The fact that the majority treat Bp. Ware’s introductory book like a patriarchial encyclical shows the shallowness of their appreciation of Orthodox theology. Even those who do take some time reading Orthodox material, it still usually turns out to be the case that there is a substantial disparity compared to what they read from the Catholic position. Some do not bother to make the investigation at all, even though they know of the Orthodox Church. I grant this is anecdotal, but it just isn’t my anecdotal experience.

    You write that you are not going to commit your life and family to claims on the basis of my intellectual acumen. I am not asking you to. My mental acuity or lack thereof doesn’t make an argument a good one or a bad one. More to the point, if you reject argumentation as a means to finding the truth in this context, you’ll need to reject just about everything written on this blog, as well as all Catholic argumentation, including say Aquinas, Scotus, Suarez, etc. That seems very unCatholic to me. I’d suggest taking Fides et Ratio more seriously.

    My judgment isn’t subjective if that implies that it could not be or isn’t grounded in fact and/or truth preserving inferences. The fact that I make judgments and that these judgments occur in me, doesn’t make them “subjective” except in the innocuous way that such things occur in me, the same way they occur in any Catholic who writes about the same matters. If their truth value was subjective in terms of being relativistic in that I was their truth maker or in terms of it being mere opinion in the above sense, this would wipe away all Catholic claims to truth and would engage the kind of relativism and nihilism that the recent Pope so rightly and adamantly decries. In short, you are cutting off the branch you are sitting on.

    As for my remarks about “doing the best one can” you again misrepresent my view. My view was relative to fulfilling the conditions on knowing and not on the conditions for making supremely normative judgments. So much of what you write here is a straw man since it is attacking a position I do not hold. This is why I said that your epistemic recognition of a normative definition doesn’t make it normative. This is because epistemic grasp of something doesn’t confer normativity to what is grasped. The conditions to make it normative are external to me, just as they are to you, which is why epistemically, you aren’t in any different position than I am. The only way out of this that I can see is if you claim to be an infallible knower, in which case, you don’t need the papacy.

    So there is nothing relativistic in what I wrote. Noting that I am fallible knower doesn’t imply that the conditions on truth making are relativistic. That is, relativism is a thesis about the conditions for making judgments true, namely that I make the judgments true by believing them or being doxastically related to the judgment in such a way to make it true. Nothing I wrote either entails or implies that view. My believing something fallibly doesn’t make it true. It just means I can think I fulfill the conditions on knowing, when I in fact don’t. So again, you misrepresent my views.

    As for certainty, I take it to be a psychological disposition which has nothing to do with knowing. It is neither a sufficient nor necessary condition for knowledge. Epistemologically, I’d classify myself as an epistemic realist of a weak externalist variety. In plain English, that means there ain’t no way in hell I am a relativist or subjectivist. Being fallible doesn’t undermine the ability to know and nothing I argued or stated implies as much. There is nothing “hopeless” about it. I just think it is harder to know certain things than the average person supposes. But of course, every academic practically thinks as much across the humanities and sciences.

    Furthermore, the idea that issues surrounding infallible judgments have to do with certainty is a cognitive misfire. It is a mistake to think that I have to be infallible to know which interpretation of the bible is correct. I would have to be infallible for my judgment to be ultimately morally binding on others, even if in fact they do not know. Here I differentiate the conditions on knowing and the conditions on normatively judging. Protestants can do the first, but not the second. Otherwise you leave yourself wide open to the charge of an infinite regress.

    As to the questions about knowing the truth, then we are all in the same position in figuring out if say Catholicism is true or not. The facts may favor it or not, but that is something that is disclosed after investigation and not before. If reason is no aid here as you seem to be arguing, then fideism is the result. It surely looks like something any Lutheran or Jansenist would be happy with. So I think the shoe is on the other foot here. It is you and not I who embrace subjectivism of some sort. Again, I’d recommend Fides et Ratio for Catholic thinking on this matter.

    Further, Catholics uses the same kinds of methods to argue for their case and most of them think we are fallible knowers too. So if I take your line I could just as easily write “why should I even care what “catholicism” is?” Why can’t I dismiss all of the Summas and commentaries on this or that theological or philosophical work that supposedly supports Catholicism in the same fashion?

    You seem to argue that revelation offers itself to humanity in such a way to secure what reason cannot. Somehow this is supposed to bridge the investigative process by which one finds out that such and so is in fact divine revelation. I can’t see how what you’ve offered isn’t in fact a form of fideism. As for claiming that my argument undercuts the idea that God gives revelation that supersedes reason. Since there is no demonstration to support that conclusion, I simply dismiss it. Nothing I wrote does so. I simply distinguish between what it takes for a thing to be such and so and what it takes for me to know it as such. No one gets out of the latter conditions.

    The list you produce seems to express nothing more ISTM than a frustration with the complexity of the world and knowing about it. As Lewis wrote, anything worth knowing is complicated.

    As for 7, we need a way to find out if Christ did in fact established the petrine chrism. How do you suggest we go about finding that out apart from an investigation into history, philosophy and theology?

    Second, the need for an authoritative judgment doesn’t imply or entail only one ultimately normative judge anymore than the need for an ultimate explanation of reality implies Unitarianism. Something else has to be added to the argument to reach that conclusion. But you haven’t even tried to supply me with what that added premise or premises might be.

    8. Why assume that the divine power of infallibility as located in a trans-historical place has to be limited to one person? And can a pope be a heretic or no?

    9. I never made the argument here you impute to me. It is a clear straw man. My argument was not that if you are fallible that you can’t know that the claims of Rome are true. Rather my point was that finding out if they are true, you are in no better principled position than anyone else. Consequently, you can’t escape from the kind of theoretical reflection that you eschew in my approach.

    What matters is not if the interpretation is fallibly grasped or arrived at, but if the inferences are truth preserving or not. And that has nothing to do with subjectivity or relativism at all. It has to do with logic.

    When you ask if you’ve gotten my argument right, the answer is a simple “no.” My position was that in order to know if X is so, such and so conditions have to be fulfilled. Such is true if one is a Catholic or a man in space. It was not that one cannot know anything except a subjective construction that may or may not grasp reality and about which it is impossible to find out. That would be a form of skepticism and as I said already, I am not a skeptic, but an epistemic realist of sorts. So again, you have completely misinterpreted my views.

  139. Johannes #97,

    If your argument were a good one, it would follow that a good many Fathers were in serious error on the doctrine of God since they didn’t take God to be self subsisting being.

    Second, the divine name doesn’t refer to “being” but the fact of divine freedom.

    Third, saying God is the one who Is, doesn’t pick out Thomas’ view. Palamas, along with Maximus, Damascene, and Erugena also speak this way, while denying that God is being. Likewise the Apostle Paul says that God can’t be seen and yet is seen.

    Fourth, Palamas doesn’t contradict “every known statement about God” in saying that God is both being and non-being. This is found explicitly in Maximus, not to mention Erugena. If you are right and Palamas is heretical for saying so, then so are lots of fathers. That seems like a very bad conclusion to reach.

  140. Michael L #93,

    I agree that ad intra, it is senseless to say that God exists, but that is because the language of objects fails us and so something more is required. That doesn’t imply anything unchristian anymore than Paul’s language that God cannot be seen implies something unchristian. I would think reflection on Thomistic thinking about the limits of the mode of signification would draw some sympathy from you here. Somethings about God have no analog in the world or cannot be experienced and so no term for them can be had.

    My view isn’t at best a form of agnosticism, since I think the divine persons are truly known in their energies. God is both being and non-being, as Maximus, among others explicitly say. If that is not Orthodox, then Maximus isn’t Orthodox, not to mention Damascene or Erugena.

    Further, your own view entails agnosticism about God relative to certain things. God is not fully comprehended in the intentional union in the eschaton either. God is and always in principle remains incomprehensible on your view as well. My view just cuts off knowing and language at a different point than yours. That of itself doesn’t imply the destruction of the Christian revelation claim, anymore than the Apostle Paul’s claim that “no one can see God.”

    As for Photios, your claim of nonsense turns on a misunderstanding. You claim that to have something to do with the Spirit’s generation implies a causal relation. I don’t see a reason for thinking so. Hypostatic mediation is “something” having to do with the Spirit’s mediation, but it isn’t a causal relation.

    If ekporeusis is not applicable to the Son’s generation of the Spirit’s hypostasis, then the Filioque clause is misplaced since it claims that term for the hypostatic generation of the Spirit by the Son. Practically all defenders up and through Florence argued as much. If you’re right, they’ve all been wrong.

    The Catholic position as I understand it and has been repeatedly represented to me, is not that the Son hypostatically mediates the Spirit in the Procession but rather that the Son hypostatically generates the Spirit in the Procession since the generation is with the Father as from one principle. The one principle is relative to the generation. To gloss it as an eternal hypostatic mediation apart from hypostatic generation is to deny the Filioque doctrine at least implicitly. The Son’s secondary “role” isn’t principally that of mediation relative to the hypostasis of the Spirit, but of generation as far as the Filioque doctrine is concerned.

    If you wish to gloss “as from one principle” to pick out two modes of hypostatic generation, you’ll need to explain what makes the generation “one” when there are apparently two modes of generation. If the unity is one of relation, is it a volitional relation? If so, why do not all three persons will it seeing as there is only one divine will? And what do you have in mind qua the metaphysics of relation here? If their unity is that of relation, that is, of the Father of the Son and the Son of the Father qua generation, even if this were coherent, why think that this is a necessary relation? I can’t help but think that if the Son is included in the Father’s causal activity, that he has it “on loan” as it were, that it is in the same way, since that power is enhyposticized by the Father, thus making it uniquely his, which is why he has the name Father and the others don’t.

  141. I think it is important at this juncture to recall the main purpose of this site: help Protestant brethren make their way to the Catholic Church, in which subsists the fullness of Christ’s Body united with its Head; the Church that receives from Christ “the fullness of the means of salvation” which He has willed:

    1. correct and complete confession of faith,
    2. full sacramental life, and
    3. ordained ministry in apostolic succession (which is a prerequisite for 2).

    Additionally, this Catholic Church, by enjoying continued divine assistance including infallible magisterial authority, does not suffer from the problems of ecclesiastical deism and definition of the scriptural canon that affect Protestantism.

    Let’s place ourselves for a moment in the shoes of the people making that journey. They see a menu of “totalities of particular Churches in communion with one another” that might in principle be “the” one Catholic Church founded by Christ: RC, EO, OO and SSPX (the last included only as theoretical example), in order of decreasing volume. They might narrow the menu by discarding:

    – first SSPX, because it is impossible that, if until 1958 the RC was “the” Church, then at Vatican II only one RC bishop (Lefebvre) was right and all the other RC bishops and the Pope were wrong.

    – then OO, because Chalcedon was the Ecumenical Council with the largest attendance by far of the Seven First, and the overwhelming majority of attending bishops signed its confession of faith.

    Thus those comprising the target audience of this site have to choose between the RC and EO options. The choice is not trivial because the issues of doctrinal disagreement between RCs and EOs (mainly Filioque, Papal Primacy and those related to Palamism) are serious enough that, as a consequence, the technical position of each side is that the other side is in material heresy in a number of matters (even when members of a particular side may choose not to use the h-word for reasons of charity or courtesy). As a result, the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church founded by Jesus subsists in only one of the two sides. Notably, each side has a completely different view on the consequences of this objective reality on the status of the other side regarding possession of the means of salvation listed above. Thus:

    – RCs believe that EOs lack 1 but have 2 and 3.

    – most EOs believe that RCs lack 1, 2 and 3.

    To discern in which side the One Church founded by Jesus subsists, the primary path is to check which of the two doctrinal positions is supported or refuted by the 73 books of the Bible that both sides recognize as inspired. The results of my own following that path can be seen in comments #97, #107 and #112, plus comment #12 of the thread “The Two “Rocks” of Matthew 16:18 in the Syriac Peshitta”.

    The secondary path to confirm which side is the One Church founded by Jesus is to examine the Ecumenical Councils of Lyon II and Florence, which were attended by Eastern bishops who in their overwhelming majority (in Florence all the Eastern bishops but one) approved the decrees defining the doctrine of Filioque. Either these two Councils were indisputably Ecumenical (and not just “RC” Ecumenical, which of course for RCs are truly Ecumenical) and their acceptance by RCs and rejection by EOs confirms that the One Universal Church founded by Jesus subsists in the RC Church, or it must be demonstrated that in both cases the Eastern bishops did not act freely and in right conscience, but were pressed and/or bribed in a way that rendered their vote invalid. I do not see that the latter possibility is supported by historical evidence.

    It should be noted that, independently of the final result of that discernment, since there is only one Universal Church founded by Jesus, and from the serious doctrinal disagreements between the RC and EO sides it is clear that the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church founded by Jesus subsists in only one of the two sides, then only one of the two sides can be properly called “Church” as a whole, and the proper term for the totality of particular Churches comprising the other side is “the XX Churches”.

    Thus the proper terms for the sides as a whole are either

    a. “the RC Church” and “the EO Churches”, or

    b. “the RC Churches” and “the EO Church”.

    If my plainly stating this fact sounds uncharitable to some RC ears, I strongly suggest reading the “Note on the expression “Sister Churches”” from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, dated June 30, 2000 and signed by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. The core points are 9 to 12. It’s at:

    http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_20000630_chiese-sorelle_en.html

  142. David # 98

    To speak of Saint Photios’ position as “hardend” is a bit like talking about Athanasius’ position against the Arians as “hardend” to not a few Orthodox ears.

    That said the objection you pose doesn’t have wings. Here’s why. It wouldn’t imply that the Spirit is a second Son. First, because there is no common “generation” from which the Spirit and Son go forth. The Son is begotten and the Spirit proceeding. There is no common notion of “generation” between them. This is explicitly articulated by the Cappadocians against late Arianism. Further, the same authors say that it is impossible to know (without madness) what the difference is between procession and begetting.

  143. Perry, please read again #97. What I said is that “this revealed truth is at odds with a very known statement about God by Gregory Palamas”, not that Palamas contradicts “every known statement about God”!

    As to the importance of Maximus and Erigena saying statements to the same effect as Palamas’, suffice it to say that Aquinas denied Immaculate Conception.

  144. Johannes #106 & 107,

    The two passages arguably refer to the incarnate Christ in glory. Not a few Fathers interpret it that way and for a long period of time. Plenty of contemporary Catholic exegetes also gloss them in that way.

    Second, Paul explicitly says God has not been nor can be seen by any man. (1 Tim 6:16)

    Third, as to Aquinas, in his commentary on Hebrews, Thomas tackles the issue of Erugena’s denial of the beatific vision. He notes that it has already been condemned as heresy. Of course what Thomas and other scholastics didn’t know was that Erugena was simply reporting the view he took from Maximus the Confessor who held the same position as a great student of his, John of Damascus. Consequently, the Latins condemned as heresy the orthodox teaching of a good many fathers.

  145. Johannes,

    Thanks for the correction, but the point still goes through. The problem you pose isn’t a problem and you can only maintain as much by begging the question. Besides, if you wish to claim that everything Palamas said about God is incompatible with Catholic doctrine, you’ll not only be making my job easier, but you’ll be arguing against say William’s dissertation on the subject.

    The fact that Aquinas denied the IC (along with Bernard who did so more forcefully than he) would be of consequence to me if I had a demonstration that Maximus, Palamas and Co. were wrong. Given that Maximus not only writes canons for an ecumenical council, but that his theology is upheld by the sixth council as de fide, I think that puts him in a better position than Aquinas. So I don’t think the two cases are comparable.

  146. Nick #108,

    If you think the original objection is solid, then you must state it, since the author of the post claims it is a narrative and not an argument as such. The author also conceded that the confusion and/or problem isn’t necessarily something true of Orthodoxy as such. The ghost has already been given up it seems.

    If you have an argument that the validity of orders is subjective please present it here in premised form, since I have yet to see it. Also define how you are using “subjective.”

    Saying I have my “opinion” but it is not authoritative is about as argumentatively useful as my replying to a Catholic that they have their “opinion” about what the catechism means on some point, but it is not authoritative. I don’t need to be authoritative to be correct. And I never presented myself to be making an argument from my authority, so your remarks are a straw man. I can articulate a view correctly without authority. If this is not possible, then this blog itself is expressing nothing more than opinions about Catholic teaching, since no one here is a bishop or a pope.

    In fact, I didn’t even begin really to present the counter argument. I simply presented a piece of evidence to motivate thinking and serve as a counter example. So far, no one has even attempted (so far as I’ve seen in the comments) touched it. Why is that? Can you explain how Arians were not re-baptized? Was their baptism valid or not? If not, why weren’t they re-baptized? Is Rome unclear on the validity of Arian baptisms? I posed these questions to help people think through the issues and to show that the matter has a long theological pedigree and isn’t some post-schism development due to Romaphobia. The Fathers of Constanitnople and other councils were reacting against Rome? I don’t think so.

    What bothers me is this. The confusion among largely the Russians and contemporary Orthodox writers on this subject has historical causes, particularly in local synods that were at one time or another under either Catholic or Lutheran influence, largely imposed by the state. The same is true in Russia for example with respect to the controversy concerning images of God the Father. Local synods contradicted each other for some time. But local synods do not trump the teaching of ecumenical councils, not by any means. This whole situation and the theology of it is quite complicated. But all of this is ignored and this problem is tossed out as some kind of serious problem while ignoring all of the relevant data. That is not charitable nor is it fair minded. It is entirely misleading in my judgment. It would be like a Protestant using say the Synod of Elvira prohibiting images on the walls of churches (along with say Frankfurt thrown in) against local Roman synods in 731 or so affirming images to give the impression that Rome has a conflicted teaching on images.

    Simply stating that some Orthodox rebaptize Catholics isn’t proof that it is so. And stating that some do and some don’t and that this is contradictory and there is no possible solution isn’t an argument for any of those claims. If you wish to prove something, you need to actually make an argument. But that will require you to correctly represent Orthodox sacramental theology, particularly relative to the theology of the divine energies. So again, where is the argument? If its just a “narrative” then there is no argument to engage and so nothing is proved.

    As for a denial of the Catholic view of indelibility, if the East is afflicted with some problem because of it, then so were a good many Fathers and ecumenical councis, not the least of which would be people like Athanasius, Cyril, John of Antioch, Maximus, etc.

    As for the “Perry vs. Jones” case, even if things were as you say, putting aside anti-Semitism and such, Catholics have arguably faired no better. The papacy has yet to heal, rather than create, any major schism it has been involved in, and that includes sed vecantist like those of Geocentrist fame like Sungenis or others like Matatics. People in glass houses…

  147. Johannes #141,

    As for Chalcedon, the number of bishops per se can’t be a sufficient reason to reject the Orientals since even on Catholic principles the numbers aren’t relevant.

    As for the canon, last I checked, Catholics have 72 books, not 73. Please correct me if I am wrong.
    Lyons has sparse representation and none of the patriarchial sees were consulted, which violated long established tradition, not to mention canons.

    It is true that Saint Mark refused to sign, but he wasn’t the only one to do so. Further, other participants were practically bribed by the Pope with money and other promises, which a fair number of them took, by and large to escape Muslim invaders. That hardly represents bishops coming to a theological conclusion without duress. And lastly, even pope Eugene who knew of Mark’s sanctity and theological standing in the church exclaimed that if Mark did not sign “we have achieved nothing.” Further, the emperor intervened and forbade representatives from discussing key theological points, which is in clear violation of the canons, and that all by itself was sufficient to render the synod invalid, as was the case with various Arian emperors in times past. The situation was far more complicated. I’d suggest readers concult Gill or Tsirpanlis’ works on Florence.

  148. This comment will be of a completely different nature than my previous ones, which have focused on conceptual clarity and doctrinal truth. And its best possible introduction is this quote from Jonathan’s comment #130 (emphasis added):

    Consequently, the commitment to ecumenism must be based upon the conversion of hearts and upon prayer, which will also lead to the necessary purification of past memories. With the grace of the Holy Spirit, the Lord’s disciples, inspired by love, by the power of the truth and by a sincere desire for mutual forgiveness and reconciliation, are called to re-examine together their painful past and the hurt which that past regrettably continues to provoke even today. All together, they are invited by the ever fresh power of the Gospel to acknowledge with sincere and total objectivity the mistakes made and the contingent factors at work at the origins of their deplorable divisions.”

    Pope John Paul II said in his book “Crossing the threshold of hope” chapter 22: “It is legitimate to affirm that between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox the difference is not very deep. … At the same time, we must also note that the difficulties of psychological and historical nature are sometimes greater in the Orthodox Churches than in some of the communities born from the Reformation.” Clearly the only way to overcome those “difficulties of psychological and historical nature” is by practicing charity, which “does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth” (1 Cor 13:6) and must be practiced “not in word or speech but in deed and truth” (1 Jn 3:18). But the practice of charity involves keeping the Commandments, including “you shall not steal”. And if someone has sinned against this commandment, they must repair the harm caused, returning the stolen goods (CCC #1459). “Every offense committed against justice and truth entails the duty of reparation, even if its author has been forgiven” (CCC #2487). And in the case of theft, “in virtue of commutative justice, reparation for injustice committed requires the restitution of stolen goods to their owner: … Those who, directly or indirectly, have taken possession of the goods of another, are obliged to make restitution of them” (CCC 2412).

    I said in a previous comment that I honestly believe that the One Church founded by Jesus subsists in the Catholic Church in communion with the See of Rome. But how can the See of Rome ask the Eastern Orthodox Churches to acknowledge its primacy of jurisdiction and its infallibility while it retains property that was stolen from them? And that stolen property is none other than the most precious Christian relic, the Shroud of Turin. There has been an overwhelming accumulation of solid evidence that the Shroud is the same relic as the “Mandylion” that was taken in an undetermined date to Edessa, where it was discovered in the city walls between 525 and 544 AD and placed in a church built specially for the relic, in which it was until 944, when the byzantine emperor Romanos I Lekapenos moved it from Edessa to Constantinople. There it was kept in the Imperial Palace until 1204, when it was taken to Athens and then to France as a result of the sack of Constantinople in the infamous Fourth Crusade.

    Thus the practice of charity, with its requirement of justice and truth, demands that the Holy See, in view of the evidence accumulated recently – particularly by research conducted by staff of the Vatican Archives -, make an offer to the Patriarchate of Constantinople to undertake a joint scientific and historical study to ascertain whether the Shroud of Turin was indeed stolen from Constantinople in 1204, so that, if the study concludes in the affirmative, the relic will be handed over to the Patriarchate of Constantinople or whoever they designate (as possibly the Patriarch might not perceive Istanbul as being the optimal location for the Shroud). This is legally possible because ownership of the Shroud passed to the Holy See in 1983.

    The evidence comprises the following items (note particularly items 5, 7 and 8):

    1) A greek manuscript with the sermon of Archdeacon Gregory of Hagia Sofia the day the relic arrived to Constantinople (15 August 944) [1]. This sermon had been lost, but was rediscovered in the Vatican Archives (Codex Vaticanus Graecus 511) and translated by Mark Guscin in 2004 [2].

    2) A miniature from 1081 (Miniatura Skylitres (1081-1118)) showing emperor Romanos I Lekapenos (920-944) kissing the Shroud when it arrived from Edessa. In the scene the Shroud is unfolded and the emperor kisses the part of the head while other person holds the cloth. (Biblioteca Nacional de Madrid, vitrina 26, 2, folio 131, r).

    3) The cloth is in the catalog of relics of the Imperial Palace of Constantinopla made by the Nicholas Soemundarson (Thingeyrensis), an Icelandic pilgrim in 1157 [3]. It is also in a list from 1201 made by Nicholas Mesarites, the skeuophylax (overseer) of the treasuries in the Pharos Chapel of the Boucoleon Palace of the emperors in Constantinople [4].

    4) The account by knight Robert de Clari of the Fourth Crusade [5]:

    “There was another of the churches which they called My Lady Saint Mary of Blachernae, where was kept the sydoines in which Our Lord had been wrapped, which stood up straight every Friday so that the features of Our Lord could be plainly seen there. And no one, either Greek or French, ever knew what became of this sydoines after the city was taken.”

    5) A letter dated 1 August 1205, written by Theodore Angelos aka Theodore Komnenos Doukas, who was cousin of two former byzantine emperors and second uncle of former emperor Alexios IV Angelos (the one who had enticed the Crusaders to seize Constantinople), and addressed to Pope Innocent III [6]:

    “Theodore Angelus wishes long life for Innocent [III], Lord and Pope at old Rome, in the name of Michael, Lord of Epirus and in his own name. In April of last year a crusading army, having falsely set out to liberate the Holy Land, instead laid waste the city of Constantine. During the sack, troops of Venice and France looted even the holy sanctuaries. The Venetians partitioned the treasures of gold, silver, and ivory while the French did the same with the relics of the saints and the most sacred of all, the linen in which our Lord Jesus Christ was wrapped after his death and before the resurrection. We know that the sacred objects are preserved by their predators in Venice, in France, and in other places, the sacred linen in Athens . . . Rome, Kalends of August, 1205″

    6) Nicholas of Otranto, abbot of Casole monastery in southern Italy, travelled in 1205 with the papal legate, Benedict of St. Susanna to Constantinople. The most plausible interpretation of his account in 1207 is that he saw the burial linens of Jesus “with their own eyes” outside the capital, probably in Athens [7].

    7) Max Frei, a renowned Zurich criminologist, in 1973 took pollen samples and identified a total of 58 different pollens on the Shroud. According to him, these pollens are native to areas around:
    – the Dead Sea and the Negev
    – the Anatolian Steppe of central and western Turkey (which includes Edessa)
    – the immediate environs of Constantinople
    – Western Europe

    8) Barbara Frale, a researcher in the Vatican Secret Archives [8], announced in 2009 that, as part of her study of the trial of the Knights Templar, she had brought to light a document (the Chinon Parchment) in which Arnaut Sabbatier, a young Frenchman who entered the order in 1287, testified that as part of his initiation he was taken to “a secret place to which only the brothers of the Temple had access”. There he was shown “a long linen cloth on which was impressed the figure of a man” and instructed to venerate the image by kissing its feet three times [9].

    This fits with the concidence between the name of one of the Knights Templar burned at the stake in 1314 with the Grand Master Jacques de Molay, Geoffroi de Charney (first name sometimes spelled Geoffrey, surname sometimes spelled de Charnay and de Charny), and the first documented owner of the Shroud in Europe, Geoffroi de Charny (first name sometimes spelled Geoffrey), who very probably was nephew of the former.

    References:

    [1] http://www.shroudofturin4journalists.com/terms/Gregory_Referendarius.htm

    [2] http://www.shroud.com/pdfs/guscin3.pdf

    [3] http://www.shroudofturin4journalists.com/terms/Nicholas_Soemundarson.htm

    [4] http://www.shroudofturin4journalists.com/terms/Nicholas_Mesarites.htm

    [5] http://www.shroudofturin4journalists.com/terms/Robert_Of_Clari.htm

    http://www.deremilitari.org/resources/sources/clari4.htm

    [6] http://www.shroudofturin4journalists.com/terms/Theodore_Angelus.htm

    [7] http://www.shroudofturin4journalists.com/terms/Nicholas_Of_Otranto.htm

    [8] http://asv.vatican.va/en/pers/personale/Barbara_Frale.htm

    [9] http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/faith/article6040521.ece

    http://www.vatican.va/news_services/or/or_quo/cultura/079q04a1.html

    http://www.vatican.va/news_services/or/or_quo/cultura/137q05a1.html

  149. Perry,

    Why? If I am expected to field historical questions, why aren’t Catholics?

    I never asked you to field historical questions. I simply asked you for a positive explanation as to how EO proposes to differentiate the “de fide” content of revelation from human opinion beginning with an explanation of how – for just such purposes – one identifies something called “the Orthodox Church”. I was not looking for a historical defense of whatever answer you might give, rather I was simply looking for the answer – how it works in the here and now. As a Catholic I can answer those questions without a historical overview of the papacy.

    “If you charge me with a fallacy, the charitable thing to do would be to demonstrate it rather that assert it.

    Perry, I quoted the following from your previous response to me as evidence of your use of the “tu quoque”. Here it is again:

    “You ask if I can identify the OC in such a way that all Orthodox will recognize my definition as normative. I think I can, but suppose I can’t. You can’t either and here is why, because your act of identification nor the recognition of it makes it normative”

    As I understand it, that sort of response constitutes exactly what is meant by “tu quoque” – and I note that you never did attempt to identify the OC in such a way that all Orthodox will recognize. I am not saying your “tu quoque” challenge to me does not work – perhaps it does – which is in fact what I was responding to throughout the rest of my last post. I simply maintain that you did employ it. I had no intention to use it as a “gottcha” nor did I mean to “tar” you with anything.

    Consequently, you again misrepresent my view by saying it would make any Reformed advocate of sola scriptura proud. It wouldn’t since it entails a denial of the right of private judgment, without which sola scriptura is impossible.

    I fail to see how a denial of private judgement in any way entails that you have not in fact engaged in it. Your positive defense as to how EO normitively adjudicate between orthodox and heterodox doctrine, as offered in the last paragraph of you previous response to me seems very much like an act of private judgement.

    Furthermore, the idea that issues surrounding infallible judgments have to do with certainty is a cognitive misfire.

    No it is not a cognitive misfire because the very purpose of an “assent of faith” assisted by grace – which God calls for, is to elevate our probablistic doubt and uncertainty with regard to the content of divine revelation to something like a functional certitude. Look, I know you are not a radical epistemic skeptic and neither am I with regard to knowledge per se. I take “fides et ratio” as something of a mainfesto as to the relationship between philosophy and theology. However, from the fact that we can have substantial knowledge concerning the objects of our immediate experience, it does NOT follow that we have similar success when seeking answers to large scale questions such as the purpose and meaning of human existence. That, I continue to maintain, is the very reason why God has condescended to offer us a “divine revelation” in the first place. The key question for those of us who take the possibility of divine revelation seriously is determining what precsisely constitutes the instrumental means by which God communicates such disclosure. You seem to think (perhaps I have this wrong) that the only thing to do in this regard is dive into the ocean of history and see who can construct the most powerful defense of what each takes to be the the instrument by which God communicates or discloses the content of revelation. What this enables you to do is bypass the conceptual weakness of the EO “mechanism” for adjudicating theological claims over against that offered by the RCC. That I believe is why you spent the first 75% of your previous post explaining why the RCC “mechanism”, especially as entailed by the papal claims, could not yield the kind of clean results that I apparently seemed to indicate. The RCC “mechanism”, if taken as a given, does have an “in principle” means in the here-and-now by which to authoritatively resolve doctrinal disputes – even if you want to argue that it is not utilized often enough to be of practical benefit. If one grants that the bishop of Rome is the successor to Peter and that he has a unique authority grant by which to normatively adjudicate theological disputes, then one has a real-time, real-world means by which such disputes can be resolved – in the present. If one grants the EO “mechanism” as you have described it, then one must apparently construct a vision of orthodoxy over against heterodoxy out of the monuments of Christian history – a project that simply ensures multiple fallible competeing renderings. As far as I can tell there is no living dynamic authority within present day EO capable of adjudicating theological disputes on the basis of anything like divine authority. This distinction can be made without any reference to historical evidences for the “truth” of either the EO or RCC claims themselves. I will post a more substantial account of my thinking in this regard directed to both you and MG early tommorrow -probably over on the “tu quoque” thread, since much of what I have to say is in reference to this whole business about certainty, fallibility, judgement, etc. and I do not want to threadjack.

    Pax et Bonum,

    Ray

  150. To Perry #144

    (1 Cor 13:12) and (1 Jn 3:2) clearly refer to the vision of God, not to the vision of Jesus in glory ala (Rev 1:13-16). Besides, I always saw it interpreted that way.

    (1 Tim 6 16) refers to men on earth. Sure you can say that my interpretation is as valid as yours, but then what about “Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God.” (Mt 5:8)?

    Regarding that “the Latins condemned as heresy the orthodox teaching of a good many fathers”, again remember Aquinas and Immaculate Conception. Nobody commits heresy by denying a truth before it becomes dogma.

  151. Ray,

    What you asked regarding differenating normative teaching from private views entails fielding questions about historical material by you and me, how it is to be understood and such. As for identifying the Orthodox Church, how about starting with the local parish with her bishop through succession professing the right doctrine as professed by the councils of the church. How is that for starters?

    Again, I think you’ve misrepresented my view with respect to the tu quo que fallacy. What you cited isn’t an instance of it for a simple reason. It is an implicit argument that your requirement is fallacious since no layman of any position could fulfill it. You seem to think there that it is a necessary condition that everyone of a given position will recognize what is articulated as normative. But that requirement is even too strong for Catholicism since not all Catholics are equally well informed, faithful, etc. Further it is too strong because merely articulating it by me wouldn’t make it normative. The same is true for your position.

    ISTM that you are taking a judgment made by an individual for the idea of the right of private judgment. Such is not the case. That latter thesis is a claim about normativity, namely that an individual can only be obligated by what they assent to or agree with. Nothing I’ve said entails or implies that thesis, which is a necessary condition for various Protestant doctrines. My position which draws a distinction between accurate and normative statements logically precludes the right of private judgment since the latter entails the conflation of the two former categories.

    Again, you are accusing me of private judgment simply because I made a judgment regarding what is or isn’t the Orthodox position. If that entails the right of private judgment, then when Catholics articulate their position, they must be doing the same thing, which is absurd. Nor the latter and so not the former either.

    Certitude may be a helpful disposition to have, but it doesn’t transmute justified true belief into knowledge. People have been certain about lots of things they did not in fact know. Further, I don’t think that every piece of knowledge has to pass deductive muster either. I can agree that God condescends to give revelation, but figuring out that it is such and what is means and if such and so body’s claim about it is true is still falls under the order of knowing.

    If I am not to go “deep into history” what am I supposed to do Ray? You make a claim about the papacy. How am I to find out if that is true or not?

    If you think my course of action allows me to by pass the weakness of the Orthodox mechanism, you’ll need to say what that weakness is supposed to be and then give a proof of it. Otherwise its just a naked claim.

    I think there were councils that did just find in adjudicating theological matters that were later ratified by Rome (and other sees). What “weakness” did they suffer from exactly? Constantinople I for example? 2nd Nicea?

    I know you’ve claimed that the Catholic position has a principled mechanism for doing what you claim, but I don’t think it does the work **in principle** or can do the work that you think it can.
    I’m sorry but I don’t see the situation the way you do with Orthodoxy. The Orthodox have a “real world” mechanism for adjudicating theological matters through the bishops in succession with the apostles in council, as the book of Acts attests. The fifth council teaches that there is no other way the truth can be reached.

    Consequently your gloss of the Orthodox having to construct some theory to make such judgments is simply a straw man. The last I checked the bishops were “living” authorities. If it wasn’t so, who exactly is Rome in dialog with? Who does Rome take to be the Orthodox authorities?

  152. To Perry #147

    My analisis of Chalcedon in #141 must be understood in the context of what I said before:

    “Let’s place ourselves for a moment in the shoes of the people making that journey.” That is, of a Protestant that wants to make his way to the Catholic Church and is trying to discern whether it subsists in the RC, EO or OO. He cannot possibly do that by using the principles specific of any of the candidates! So he checks: Second (“Robber”) Council of Ephesus: 130 attendants. Council of Chalcedon: 370 attendants. OK, OO discarded. Let’s move on.

    The RC canon is 72 books if we count Jeremiah and Lamentations as one, 73 otherwise.

    http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/__PR.HTM

    Thank you for the historical context about Lyon II and Florence.

  153. The West does need to admit that they were wrong and repent. Orthopraxis, part 1 of 3.

    This comment will be of a completely different nature than my previous ones, which have focused on conceptual clarity and doctrinal truth. And its best possible introduction is this quote from Jonathan’s comment #130 (emphasis added):

    Consequently, the commitment to ecumenism must be based upon the conversion of hearts and upon prayer, which will also lead to the necessary purification of past memories. With the grace of the Holy Spirit, the Lord’s disciples, inspired by love, by the power of the truth and by a sincere desire for mutual forgiveness and reconciliation, are called to re-examine together their painful past and the hurt which that past regrettably continues to provoke even today. All together, they are invited by the ever fresh power of the Gospel to acknowledge with sincere and total objectivity the mistakes made and the contingent factors at work at the origins of their deplorable divisions.”

    Pope John Paul II said in his book “Crossing the threshold of hope” chapter 22: “It is legitimate to affirm that between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox the difference is not very deep. … At the same time, we must also note that the difficulties of psychological and historical nature are sometimes greater in the Orthodox Churches than in some of the communities born from the Reformation.” Clearly the only way to overcome those “difficulties of psychological and historical nature” is by practicing charity, which “does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth” (1 Cor 13:6) and must be practiced “not in word or speech but in deed and truth” (1 Jn 3:18). But the practice of charity involves keeping the Commandments, including “you shall not steal”. And if someone has sinned against this commandment, they must repair the harm caused, returning the stolen goods (CCC #1459). “Every offense committed against justice and truth entails the duty of reparation, even if its author has been forgiven” (CCC #2487). And in the case of theft, “in virtue of commutative justice, reparation for injustice committed requires the restitution of stolen goods to their owner: … Those who, directly or indirectly, have taken possession of the goods of another, are obliged to make restitution of them” (CCC 2412).

    I said before that I honestly believe that the One Church founded by Jesus subsists in the Catholic Church in communion with the See of Rome. But how can the See of Rome ask the Eastern Orthodox Churches to acknowledge its primacy of jurisdiction and its infallibility while it retains property that was stolen from them? And that stolen property is none other than the most precious Christian relic, the Shroud of Turin. There has been an overwhelming accumulation of solid evidence that the Shroud is the same relic as the “Mandylion” that was taken in an undetermined date to Edessa, where it was discovered in the city walls between 525 and 544 AD and placed in a church built specially for the relic, in which it was until 944, when the byzantine emperor Romanos I Lekapenos moved it from Edessa to Constantinople. There it was kept in the Imperial Palace until 1204, when it was taken to Athens and then to France as a result of the sack of Constantinople in the infamous Fourth Crusade.

    Thus charity, by its requirement of justice and truth, demands that the Holy See, in view of the evidence accumulated recently – particularly by research conducted by staff of the Vatican Archives -, make an offer to the Patriarchate of Constantinople to undertake a joint scientific and historical study to ascertain whether the Shroud of Turin was indeed stolen from Constantinople in 1204, so that, if the study concludes in the affirmative, the relic will be handed over to the Patriarchate of Constantinople or whoever they designate (as it is possible that the Patriarch might not perceive Istanbul as the optimal location for the Shroud). This is legally possible because ownership of the Shroud passed to the Holy See in 1983.

  154. The West does need to admit that they were wrong and repent. Orthopraxis, part 2 of 3.

    The evidence comprises the following items (note particularly items 5, 7 and 8):

    1) A greek manuscript with the sermon of Archdeacon Gregory of Hagia Sofia the day the relic arrived to Constantinople (15 August 944) [1]. This sermon had been lost, but was rediscovered in the Vatican Archives (Codex Vaticanus Graecus 511) and translated by Mark Guscin in 2004 [2].

    2) A miniature from 1081 (Miniatura Skylitres (1081-1118)) showing emperor Romanos I Lekapenos (920-944) kissing the Shroud when it arrived from Edessa. In the scene the Shroud is unfolded and the emperor kisses the part of the head while other person holds the cloth. (Biblioteca Nacional de Madrid, vitrina 26, 2, folio 131, r).

    3) The cloth is in the catalog of relics of the Imperial Palace of Constantinopla made by the Nicholas Soemundarson (Thingeyrensis), an Icelandic pilgrim in 1157 [3]. It is also in a list from 1201 made by Nicholas Mesarites, the skeuophylax (overseer) of the treasuries in the Pharos Chapel of the Boucoleon Palace of the emperors in Constantinople [4].

    4) The account by knight Robert de Clari of the Fourth Crusade [5]:

    “There was another of the churches which they called My Lady Saint Mary of Blachernae, where was kept the sydoines in which Our Lord had been wrapped, which stood up straight every Friday so that the features of Our Lord could be plainly seen there. And no one, either Greek or French, ever knew what became of this sydoines after the city was taken.”

    5) A letter dated 1 August 1205, written by Theodore Angelos aka Theodore Komnenos Doukas, who was cousin of two former byzantine emperors and second uncle of former emperor Alexios IV Angelos (the one who had enticed the Crusaders to seize Constantinople), and addressed to Pope Innocent III [6]:

    “Theodore Angelus wishes long life for Innocent [III], Lord and Pope at old Rome, in the name of Michael, Lord of Epirus and in his own name. In April of last year a crusading army, having falsely set out to liberate the Holy Land, instead laid waste the city of Constantine. During the sack, troops of Venice and France looted even the holy sanctuaries. The Venetians partitioned the treasures of gold, silver, and ivory while the French did the same with the relics of the saints and the most sacred of all, the linen in which our Lord Jesus Christ was wrapped after his death and before the resurrection. We know that the sacred objects are preserved by their predators in Venice, in France, and in other places, the sacred linen in Athens . . . Rome, Kalends of August, 1205″

    6) Nicholas of Otranto, abbot of Casole monastery in southern Italy, travelled in 1205 with the papal legate, Benedict of St. Susanna to Constantinople. The most plausible interpretation of his account in 1207 is that he saw the burial linens of Jesus “with their own eyes” outside the capital, probably in Athens [7].

    7) Max Frei, a renowned Zurich criminologist, in 1973 took pollen samples and identified a total of 58 different pollens on the Shroud. According to him, these pollens are native to areas around:
    – the Dead Sea and the Negev
    – the Anatolian Steppe of central and western Turkey (which includes Edessa)
    – the immediate environs of Constantinople
    – Western Europe

    8) Barbara Frale, a researcher in the Vatican Secret Archives [8], announced in 2009 that, as part of her study of the trial of the Knights Templar, she had brought to light a document (the Chinon Parchment) in which Arnaut Sabbatier, a young Frenchman who entered the order in 1287, testified that as part of his initiation he was taken to “a secret place to which only the brothers of the Temple had access”. There he was shown “a long linen cloth on which was impressed the figure of a man” and instructed to venerate the image by kissing its feet three times [9].

    This fits with the concidence between the name of one of the Knights Templar burned at the stake in 1314 with the Grand Master Jacques de Molay, Geoffroi de Charney (first name sometimes spelled Geoffrey, surname sometimes spelled de Charnay and de Charny), and the first documented owner of the Shroud in Europe, Geoffroi de Charny (first name sometimes spelled Geoffrey), who very probably was nephew of the former.

    References:

    [1] http://www.shroudofturin4journalists.com/terms/Gregory_Referendarius.htm

    [2] http://www.shroud.com/pdfs/guscin3.pdf

    [3] http://www.shroudofturin4journalists.com/terms/Nicholas_Soemundarson.htm

    [4] http://www.shroudofturin4journalists.com/terms/Nicholas_Mesarites.htm

    [5] http://www.shroudofturin4journalists.com/terms/Robert_Of_Clari.htm

    http://www.deremilitari.org/resources/sources/clari4.htm

    [6] http://www.shroudofturin4journalists.com/terms/Theodore_Angelus.htm

    [7] http://www.shroudofturin4journalists.com/terms/Nicholas_Of_Otranto.htm

    [8] http://asv.vatican.va/en/pers/personale/Barbara_Frale.htm

    [9] http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/faith/article6040521.ece

    http://www.vatican.va/news_services/or/or_quo/cultura/079q04a1.html (Italian)

    http://www.vatican.va/news_services/or/or_quo/cultura/137q05a1.html (Italian)

  155. The West does need to admit that they were wrong and repent. Orthopraxis, part 2 of 3.

    The evidence comprises the following items (note particularly items 5, 7 and 8):

    1) A greek manuscript with the sermon of Archdeacon Gregory of Hagia Sofia the day the relic arrived to Constantinople (15 August 944) [1]. This sermon had been lost, but was rediscovered in the Vatican Archives (Codex Vaticanus Graecus 511) and translated by Mark Guscin in 2004 [2].

    2) A miniature from 1081 (Miniatura Skylitres (1081-1118)) showing emperor Romanos I Lekapenos (920-944) kissing the Shroud when it arrived from Edessa. In the scene the Shroud is unfolded and the emperor kisses the part of the head while other person holds the cloth. (Biblioteca Nacional de Madrid, vitrina 26, 2, folio 131, r).

    3) The cloth is in the catalog of relics of the Imperial Palace of Constantinopla made by the Nicholas Soemundarson (Thingeyrensis), an Icelandic pilgrim in 1157 [3]. It is also in a list from 1201 made by Nicholas Mesarites, the skeuophylax (overseer) of the treasuries in the Pharos Chapel of the Boucoleon Palace of the emperors in Constantinople [4].

    4) The account by knight Robert de Clari of the Fourth Crusade [5]:

    “There was another of the churches which they called My Lady Saint Mary of Blachernae, where was kept the sydoines in which Our Lord had been wrapped, which stood up straight every Friday so that the features of Our Lord could be plainly seen there. And no one, either Greek or French, ever knew what became of this sydoines after the city was taken.”

    5) A letter dated 1 August 1205, written by Theodore Angelos aka Theodore Komnenos Doukas, who was cousin of two former byzantine emperors and second uncle of former emperor Alexios IV Angelos (the one who had enticed the Crusaders to seize Constantinople), and addressed to Pope Innocent III [6]:

    “Theodore Angelus wishes long life for Innocent [III], Lord and Pope at old Rome, in the name of Michael, Lord of Epirus and in his own name. In April of last year a crusading army, having falsely set out to liberate the Holy Land, instead laid waste the city of Constantine. During the sack, troops of Venice and France looted even the holy sanctuaries. The Venetians partitioned the treasures of gold, silver, and ivory while the French did the same with the relics of the saints and the most sacred of all, the linen in which our Lord Jesus Christ was wrapped after his death and before the resurrection. We know that the sacred objects are preserved by their predators in Venice, in France, and in other places, the sacred linen in Athens . . . Rome, Kalends of August, 1205″

    6) Nicholas of Otranto, abbot of Casole monastery in southern Italy, travelled in 1205 with the papal legate, Benedict of St. Susanna to Constantinople. The most plausible interpretation of his account in 1207 is that he saw the burial linens of Jesus “with their own eyes” outside the capital, probably in Athens [7].

    7) Max Frei, a renowned Zurich criminologist, in 1973 took pollen samples and identified a total of 58 different pollens on the Shroud. According to him, these pollens are native to areas around:
    – the Dead Sea and the Negev
    – the Anatolian Steppe of central and western Turkey (which includes Edessa)
    – the immediate environs of Constantinople
    – Western Europe

    8) Barbara Frale, a researcher in the Vatican Secret Archives [8], announced in 2009 that, as part of her study of the trial of the Knights Templar, she had brought to light a document (the Chinon Parchment) in which Arnaut Sabbatier, a young Frenchman who entered the order in 1287, testified that as part of his initiation he was taken to “a secret place to which only the brothers of the Temple had access”. There he was shown “a long linen cloth on which was impressed the figure of a man” and instructed to venerate the image by kissing its feet three times [9].

    This fits with the concidence between the name of one of the Knights Templar burned at the stake in 1314 with the Grand Master Jacques de Molay, Geoffroi de Charney (first name sometimes spelled Geoffrey, surname sometimes spelled de Charnay and de Charny), and the first documented owner of the Shroud in Europe, Geoffroi de Charny (first name sometimes spelled Geoffrey), who very probably was nephew of the former.

  156. The West does need to admit that they were wrong and repent. Orthopraxis, part 3 of 3.

    References:

    [1] http://www.shroudofturin4journalists.com/terms/Gregory_Referendarius.htm

    [2] http://www.shroud.com/pdfs/guscin3.pdf

    [3] http://www.shroudofturin4journalists.com/terms/Nicholas_Soemundarson.htm

    [4] http://www.shroudofturin4journalists.com/terms/Nicholas_Mesarites.htm

    [5] http://www.shroudofturin4journalists.com/terms/Robert_Of_Clari.htm

    http://www.deremilitari.org/resources/sources/clari4.htm

    [6] http://www.shroudofturin4journalists.com/terms/Theodore_Angelus.htm

    [7] http://www.shroudofturin4journalists.com/terms/Nicholas_Of_Otranto.htm

    [8] http://asv.vatican.va/en/pers/personale/Barbara_Frale.htm

    [9] http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/faith/article6040521.ece

    http://www.vatican.va/news_services/or/or_quo/cultura/079q04a1.html (Italian)

    http://www.vatican.va/news_services/or/or_quo/cultura/137q05a1.html (Italian)

  157. >The West does need to admit that they were wrong and repent. Orthopraxis, part 2 of 3.

    References (trimmed as it seems that the system limits the number of links in a post):

    [6] http://www.shroudofturin4journalists.com/terms/Theodore_Angelus.htm

    [7] http://www.shroudofturin4journalists.com/terms/Nicholas_Of_Otranto.htm

    [8] http://asv.vatican.va/en/pers/personale/Barbara_Frale.htm

    [9] http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/faith/article6040521.ece

  158. he West does need to admit that they were wrong and repent. Orthopraxis, Appendix.

    Those who support this initiative, apart from making statements to that effect in their sites or blogs,
    may want to send correspondence to:

    Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity
    http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/chrstuni/index.htm

    President: H.E. Msgr. Kurt Koch

    Pontifical Council for Culture
    http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/cultr/index.htm

    Pontifical Commission for the Cultural Patrimony of the Church
    http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_commissions/pcchc/index.htm

    Pontifical Commission for Sacred Archaeology
    http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_commissions/archeo/index.htm

    President (of all 3 above): H.E. Msgr. Gianfranco Ravasi

    Notably, Msgr. Ravassi prepared the meditations for the Way of the Cross on Good Friday 2007, which featured biblical stations, as opposed to traditional.
    http://www.vatican.va/news_services/liturgy/2007/documents/ns_lit_doc_20070406_via-crucis_en.html

    At the station “Jesus is denied by Peter”, Msgr Ravassi reflected upon “all of us who daily make petty betrayals, protecting ourselves with cowardly justifications,
    letting ourselves be overcome with base fears. But, like the Apostle, we too can take the road that brings us to Christ’s gaze and we can hear him give us the same charge: you, too, “once you have turned back, strengthen your brothers!”

    Let’s pray that Msgr Ravassi can make the case to the Successor of Peter that turning back from the betrayals of past generations may be the only path to be able again to strenghthen his Eastern brothers.

  159. Dr. Liccione, (sorry, forgot to address you formally in the previous replies)

    I hear your request about changing the location of this discussion. But because I consider this point very relevant, I think it should be aired on this thread in addition to the other one where the comment I am responding to is actually located. It would be particularly helpful for Orthodox and those on the fence who don’t know what to say to your argument about criteria for Church-identification and Church teaching-identification to hear this. If Jonathan or another moderator objects to the content or location, then he can remove it; but after this point I will continue this particular discussion with you on that other thread instead of here.

    Your ecclesiastical “problem of the criteria” seems to resemble some skeptical arguments and skeptical though-experiments. It reminds me of the problem of how to distinguish between different physical objects. We all have a relatively good idea of what the difference is between one object and another; but this isn’t because we have formulated perfectly general criteria for what constitutes one physical object as different from another before we start looking at the world. Instead we start with an awareness of the differences between physical objects. We can immediately identify many particular cases of physical objects. And then we can formulate plausible criteria that capture most of the cases. But criteria have their limits, and there are always some counterexamples, or apparent counterexamples, or potential counterexamples (on this point, and the suggestion that follows, I am partly indebted to the excellent book “Reason in the Absence of Rules”). But we can get past these counterexamples by developing in our own awareness of physical objects. We learn when the criteria apply and when they don’t by developing our intellectual and sensory abilities in an intellectually virtuous way. This also involves interaction with people that are more intellectually virtuous than we are, and imitation of them in an attempt to learn the requisite intellectual skills. As always, a healthy dose of particularism can cure skepticism; methodism is a placebo.

    I think the same thing goes for how we identify institutions and how we identify an institution’s official teachings. The fact that there’s not universal agreement on what precisely the criteria are for identifying the teaching of the Church doesn’t seem to have any effect on whether we can in fact identify the teaching in a way similar to how we identify the teaching of any institution. We start with some particular obvious cases of people in an institution, and then build criteria that seem to roughly capture our idea of how we identified these people as members. Then we increase in our familiarity of that institution so as to know how to apply the rules correctly and catch the exceptions to those rules. Its not hard to figure out some of the basic things that Orthodoxy teaches and who some of its adherents are. And you can go from there and get quite a ways without running into constant ambiguity (even if there are some isolate cases where you’re not 95% sure who’s in and who’s out).

    I don’t think a Roman Catholic is in any better of a situation either, because one must use common sense to identify the fact that the criteria given by the Pope in Vatican I and elsewhere are indeed official teaching. This can be brought out by the question, “Why think that the Pope, instead of some council held in South America, is the formal official teacher of the Roman Church?” Consider someone named Bob who has never met a Roman Catholic before, or heard what Rome’s stance on any issue is. This person meets two Catholic theologians—Hans and Joseph—walking in a park, who begin to tell him about Rome’s teachings. Hans is a bizarre heterodox Catholic, who says that Councils can trump the Pope in a way incompatible with Vatican I’s decree. Joseph is theologically conservative and tells the standard teaching of Vatican I as is. How does Bob figure out if Hans or Joseph is right? It might seem like the answer is “by checking what the Pope says in Vatican I”; but remember that Bob doesn’t know that the Pope is the official teacher of Rome yet. How would Bob get over the conflicting sources of information that tell him divergent things? I think its by the same process of institution-familiarization that I am talking about above. It would be no problem to figure out what’s going on, because he can simply go check what the vast majority of Rome’s previous documents and teachers—especially the ones that present themselves as official and foundational—say about the subject, and who they recognize as the official spokesperson. One will be able to detect a kind of deference to papal authority. And with enough familiarization with the various people that acknowledge papal authority, you can figure out that these guys are not the exception to the rule, but that they correctly perceive the actual teachings of the Roman Church.

    And a similar Bob problem can be made for how to identify the existence of the Roman Church. Suppose Bob meets two people, both claiming to be Roman Catholic priests. But they are not in communion with each other. One claims that his group (which is actually schismatic) is the Roman Church; the other (who is not schismatic) is in the Roman Church. Both present various arguments, and Bob can’t immediately tell the difference between them. Does this mean Bob can’t ultimately figure out what the Roman Church is? No, it just means he needs common sense and experience of the institutions and documents in question to discern real from apparent instances of the Roman Church. He would need to look for a time in history when the Roman Church’s identity was easy to locate, and then trace a continuity of structure and aim to one of several competing claimants among present day hierarchies.

    In terms of having formulated criteria for how you identify the Orthodox Church, one suggestion that seems plausible is that we have an implicit criteria for knowing what the Church is in the ecclesiology of Fathers like Clement, Ignatius, Irenaeus, Cyprian, Hippolytus, etc. when they speak about continuity of doctrine and continuity of the episcopacy via succession. But again, our ability to recognize that there exists such a criteria depends on a kind of common-sense approach to how we identify the official teaching of a visible society. And it depends on our ability to identify the doctrine of a given institituion. With sufficient familiarity, this is no problem usually. And again, we have St. Vincent to thank for criteria for teaching-identification; and the receptivity that later theologians had to his ideas help signify that his is indeed the official view.

    And if I were Bob, researching in a library, coming across competing *apparently representative, official* Roman statements about the relationship between Rome and the East couldn’t I say that Roman theologians don’t agree about whether the East is a group of real churches or not? For aren’t there probably some weird, exceptional, perhaps hyper-traditionalist or pre-Vatican II Catholics that would claim that the official teaching of Rome is that the East is in heresy and schism? I’m not saying such people are right, or likely to be right, or that we should listen to them as though they are actually representative voices. All I’m saying is it takes common sense and experience to figure out that they aren’t to be taken seriously. And similarly, it takes some common sense and experience to figure out what’s official Orthodox teaching. So I think we are at least equal on this point; I don’t think Rome has an advantage.

    Also, would your above argument have been a principled reason for choosing Rome over the East pre Vatican I? And even if I’m wrong about common sense and experience putting us on even playing field, if the Orthodox formulated explicit criteria, couldn’t that change things so that we are evenly-matched?

  160. MG and Perry,

    Thank you for the discussion. I have posted two long comments over on the “tu quoque” thread which you can read Here which distills my thinking on the epistemic problem presented by the “tu quoque” challenge to the Catholic “authority” argument. I originally wrote the response to MG – but it responds – I think – just as well to Perry’s comments to the effect that I am demanding some level of infallibility / certainty with regard to a grasp of the content of divine revelation which is not humanly possible. I would be grateful for your input, rebuttals, etc.

    Pax et Bonum,

    Ray

  161. Dave: I flatly disagree that I am painting with a broad brush. Surely you must realize that I am far from the only Catholic who has experienced the Orthodox “anti”-mentality? Not by a long shot! Why do you think von Balthasar coined the term “anti-mentality” in the first place? Could it have something to do with the fact that he, too, had noticed the same phenomenon? Would you say that von Balthasar, a very careful scholar, painted with too broad a brush? Or could it be that the phenomenon he noticed is actually quite real — i.e., that there’s a “there” there? I would suggest that the latter is the case.

    Do I recognize that there are many Orthodox out there who are far more ecumenical? Of course I do. I’m not an idiot. (Perry might consider that debatable, but that’s a whole ‘nuther issue.)

    Yes, I know there are ecumenical Orthodox, including leaders, and that is very heartening. But there are enough anti-Catholic/anti-Western Orthodox out there (especially but not exclusively on the Internet) to leave a rather bad taste in the mouths of many Catholics. Like other Catholics I know, I went into Orthodox-Catholic dialogue with an open, positive attitude. The viciousness I encountered quickly soured that attitude somewhat. This is a VERY common experience, as a trip around the Catholic fora/blogosphere will quickly show.

    I do not see any parallel on the Catholic side. Very, very few Catholics say the sorts of things about Orthodox that our Orthodox brethren so often say about us (right here in this thread, in fact, for starters). And, when a Catholic does say something outrageous (e.g., Harry Crocker’s anti-Orthodox cracks), his or her fellow Catholics quickly take him or her to task. (BTW–I never did comment on Perry’s attempt to draw a parallel between Lorraine Boettner and James Likoudis. I will do so now: Pleeeeeeease! I have issues with Mr. Likoudis’s methods, and I don’t think it’s helpful to use terms like “Eastern dissidents.” But anyone who can’t see the DRAMATIC difference between Boettner and Likoudis must not be paying attention. I mean, c’mon, gimme a break: Boettner denied that Catholics were even Christians. When has Likoudis ever denied that the Orthodox are Christians? Apples, meet oranges. Sheesh!)

    Getting back to the widespread Orthodox “anti-mentality,” as observed by everyone from von Balthasar to Aidan Nichols to ordinary blog-hoppers: Dave, can you not see how problematic this is? Can you not see how it vitiates the Orthodox claim to be the One True Church? In the immortal words of Tina Turner, “What’s love got to do with it?” Since when does the Christian ideal consist in attacking all other Christians? Yet this is precisely what an alarming, disheartening number of Orthodox do — right on up to archbishops and patriarchs. (Thank God for those who do not…but all too many still do.)

    I cited a few anecdotes. Do you think they define the limits of my experience in this area? Far from it. I could tell you stories that would make your hair curl.

    A few years ago, a female cyber-acquaintance had a horrific experience at the Catholic Answers forum. She had posted (in a thread about Eucharistic adoration) about her experiences as an adorer. She had mentioned the spiritual consolations she had experienced during Eucharistic Adoration…her experiences of intimate communion with Jesus, etc. It was a very heartfelt, personal post — not in the least polemical or even apologetic. She was simply sharing her experiences…in a sub-forum that had NOTHING to do with polemics, let alone East/West polemics.

    Well, an Orthodox guy PMd her out of the blue and without a by-your-leave. He told her that Eucharistic Adoration was denomic, that her experiences of God’s love during Adoration were demonic “prelest,” and that the Catholic Church was demonic. The PM was so nasty that this poor woman broke into tears.

    It would have been one thing, I suppose, if she had been trying to make polemical hay out of her experiences at Adoration. But she wasn’t. She was posting a highly personal comment in an entirely NON-polemical sub-thread, a sub-thread for her fellow Catholics. I guess this Orthodox guy just happened upon her comment there and decided to ggive her grief. I can think of no other explanation.

    When she complained to then-moderator Joe Monahan, he told her to put up and shut up…that she just had to deal with the fact that the Orthodox had different attitudes, to which they were perfectly entitled. (Eventually the admins got a clue and removed Monahan as moderator, but I must say it took them a while.)

    Is this simply another anecdote? Sure. But it is one among many. And, again, I think you would be hard-pressed to find a parallel on the Catholic side. When was the last time a Catholic told you or anyone you know that Orthodoxy is “demonic” or that your cherished Eastern devotional practices are “demonic”? Would even a crackpot like Harry Crocker say such an outrageous thing? Somehow I tend to doubt it.

    I rejoice that many Orthodox are moving way from such bitter polemicism. But the “anti-mentality” remains all too pervasive. Most Catholics who have had any online interactions with the Orthodox have encountered it. Some are more sensitive to it than others; I for one find it extremely hurtful.

    I don’t think it’s a good idea to deny either the existence or the pervasiveness of the “anti” mentality. It is too rampant to be denied or discounted. IMHO, it is a huge tragedy and a large factor in our inability to reunite. And, again, I do think it undercuts the Orthodox claim to be The One True Church. You can have the most gorgeous liturgy this side of Heaven, but if you have not love…well, you know the rest.

    Perhaps you do not find the anti-shtick so offensive because you are not looking at it through Catholic eyes. But think: How would YOU feel if one of OUR patriarchs or archbishops denied that your Church was even Christian? (Yes, that sort of thing has happened to us, within very recent memory.) How would YOU feel if you posted an Internet comment about some precious spiritual experience (like the Jesus Prayer), and a Catholic PMd you to tell you it was demonic? How would you feel if you were constantly being told that your favorite saints were victims of prelest? How would you feel if you had the Catholic counterparts to Perry et al. constantly telling you that you weren’t even Christian because of your allegedly deficient triadology?

    I don’t mean to throw a poor-little-me pity party, but Dave, this stuff gets old. Heck, I’ve even seen you post rather offensive stuff about the popes and the papacy. ;-) And if I had a nickel for every time I’ve seen an Orthodox commenter go on and on about how legalistic and ratiocinative the Catholic West is, I would be a billionaire.

    There are few or no parallels on the Catholic side to such relentless bashing. If you think that’s painting with a broad brush, please take it up with all the other Catholics who have noticed exactly the same thing — including von Balthasar. (He might be a tad difficult to reach, being dead and all. ;))

    OK, I’ve gone on far too long. But, as you can see, this is something I feel strongly about–and my convictions are born out of lengthy, bitter experience, both online and off.

    Have a great weekend!

    Diane

    I’d always assumed, “We’re so close; we share so much”…and I naively thought

  162. Perry,

    “What you asked regarding differenating normative teaching from private views entails fielding questions about historical material by you and me, how it is to be understood and such.

    I must entirely disagree with you. What I want to know is exactly what present day mechanism exists within something broadly called “Orthodoxy” for normatively or authoritatively differentiating between orthodox and heterodox doctrines should disputes concerning the content and meaning of divine revelation arise among either lay persons or prelates within something called “Orthodoxy”? I do not need a historical/philosophical/theological defense for whatever answer you provide for that question. Of course, I may eventually desire such a defense so as to explore its credibility; but for now, on the assumption that everything you are about to tell me is historically / philosophically / theologically accurate; I would just like to know how it is supposed to work. Why can you not do that? I can do that as follows:

    I can say that in such an event, the bishop of Rome may unilaterally make a definitive and binding statement as to which of the interpretations are correct (or his definitive pronouncement may entail that none are correct). Alternatively, he may formally recognize or approve some gathering – council – of bishops as speaking definitively and authoritatively to the dispute, thereby confirming its “ecumenicity”. In either case, whether unilaterally through an “ex cathedra” statement, or through recognition of a council of bishops as “ecumenical”: the definitive statement thereby produced will be understood as binding upon all catholic bishops worldwide. A bishop’s obstinate retention and dissemination of views contrary to a definition so produced, will eventually lead to excommunication; in which case he will no longer be in “communion with the bishop of Rome” – and, hence, no longer a Catholic bishop – though he will still be a bishop ontologically from a catholic POV. Hence, the formal “teaching authority” of the Catholic Church – the catholic Magisterium – will be maintained in substantial doctrinal and ecclesial unity by means of what Catholics call the “Petrine” ministry. So much so that when someone asks the location of the teaching authority within the Catholic Church, the unambiguous answer is: the Magisterium – all bishops who are in communion with the bishop of Rome. Furthermore, being “in communion with the bishop of Rome” is understood to mean that one retains WHATEVER theological notions he holds as revisable by the Roman Pontiff through either of the two means just described. More or less time may pass between definitive “ex cathedra” or “ecumenical” pronouncements, depending upon the number and kind of challenges or disagreements arising with regard to the authoritative interpretation of the deposit of faith. Nevertheless, even during these intervals, divergent views among Catholic bishops with regard to some theological dispute are understood as being held provisionally and as subject to revision or correction when a definitive pronouncement is finally forthcoming.

    If during such an interval, some bishop gives only lip-service to the provisional nature of his theological opinions, feigning a disposition of submission to the Roman Pontiff, such will be quickly discovered should a definitive pronouncement regarding that issue be rendered during that man’s ecclesial career. In such a case he will – as stated before – be forced to choose between accepting correction with regard to his theological opinions – thereby remaining “in communion with Rome”, or else face excommunication – in either case, substantial doctrinal and ecclesial unity will be re-established once again. Hence, a Catholic account of the “authority mechanism” entails the continual, dynamic, presence of a divinely appointed authority capable of resolving doctrinal disputes as they arise over time, thereby providing an ongoing mechanism by which the “de fide” content of the deposit of faith may be both grasped with greater clarity and distinguished from mere human opinion; while at the same time preserving an identifiable unity among those bishops which, in fact, constitute the totality of the Church’s “teaching authority”. That’s the nuts and bolts of how doctrinal disputes are normatively adjudicated within the Catholic Church. I have made zero recourse to historical/theological/philosophical evidences in support of the contention that God intended and authorized such a mechanism – I have merely described the mechanism on its own terms. I would very much like to understand an “Orthodox” account of how a similar doctrinal disputation among bishops/hierarchs might be resolved – unless, of course, you are going to maintain that either a.) no such disputes ever arise, or b.) there is no good reason to be concerned with such disputes in the first place.

    “Again, you are accusing me of private judgment simply because I made a judgment regarding what is or isn’t the Orthodox position.”

    You never did tell me what the “Orthodox” position was in any previous post. You told me what YOU think is the “authority basis” for adjudicating between divergent theological claims. Moreover, every single element that constitutes your “authority basis” is a textual referent which you must apparently proceed to analyze in an effort to distinguish between orthodox and heterodox doctrine. Again here is what I have so far from you with regard to any kind of “authority basis”:

    “Positively I of course will refer to councils as being the “authority basis” to adjudicate and will appeal to various canons and principles that I take to be evidenced in church history for what makes a council legitimate and normative. (And no, I don’t subscribe to the lame Idealistic theory of the Slavophiles either via Khomiakov.) Some of those principles will be principles Rome agrees with, and some not. This is because this is what I see in fact taking place. This is not because I deny every meaningful sense of Roman primacy or that I take it to be a mere honorary title. I don’t. But because I see the popes at times judged by the church and by the mechanism the church has always used, namely the councils, to do so”

    I accused you of private judgment because the sort of “authority basis” you described – being non-dynamic and textual – requires you to engage in a subjective interpretive effort with regard to the “de fide” meaning of the content of divine revelation every bit as much as a Protestant who attempts to extract the “de fide” meaning of divine revelation from the text of sacred scripture. Now, if you can point to some current-day authority whom yourself and other “Orthodox” (whoever they are) would recognize as capable of engaging in a similar interpretive effort, but in a normative or authoritative way; I will happily withdrawal my charge. So again, I ask you what IS the “Orthodox” position? Who, if anyone, within something called “Orthodoxy” has the “authority” to affirm that the “authority basis” you proposed (a collection of counciliar texts) just IS the official “authority basis” of something called “Orthodoxy”? Who has the “authority” within something called “Orthodoxy” to decide exactly which “canons and principals . . . evidenced in church history . . . makes a council legitimate and normative”? You have told me that YOU have a favored set of such canons and principals, but you have also told me that you do not speak normatively for something called “Orthodoxy”. But most problematic, who exactly, within something called “Orthodoxy”, has the capacity to offer an authoritative interpretation of said counciliar texts in the event of serious disagreements? But then, none of these questions make the least bit of sense unless we both know what we are talking about when using the words “Orthodox” and “Orthodoxy” with regard to the problem of “authoritative” adjudication of theological disputes. This is why, in my first request for an understanding of the “Orthodox” authority mechanism, I asked for a clarification as to the identity of something called “the Orthodox church”. You had said:

    “If you wish to argue that the Orthodox Church has no principled mechanism for adjudicating normatively theological questions then you’ll need to make that argument”

    Yep, I am trying to make that argument; but as I say, how could I begin to do so without understanding what you mean by “the Orthodox Church”. Here is your current explanation:

    “As for identifying the Orthodox Church, how about starting with the local parish with her bishop through succession professing the right doctrine as professed by the councils of the church. How is that for starters?”

    Okay – given that we are talking about the “authority basis” for distinguishing the “de fide” content of divine revelation from mere human opinion, can that really be your answer? Seriously?

    The Orthodox have a “real world” mechanism for adjudicating theological matters through the bishops in succession with the apostles in council, as the book of Acts attests.

    How about in this “real world” – in 2010? Can the “Orthodox” convene a council? Who would count as “Orthodox” for such a gathering? Which bishops exactly? What would make such a gathering “ecumenical” as opposed to non-binding? When was the last “ecumenical” council? It seems to me you are trading fast and loose with this term “Orthodox” or “Orthodoxy”, refusing to allow yourself to get pinned down by the question of identity because it is precisely that LACK of identity that prevents you from putting forward a real-world, present-day, solution to the authority problem. By locating “authority” in “authoritative sources”, you are creating the same sort of interpretive dilemma as occurs within Protestantism. You cry foul insisting that, unlike the Protestants, you acknowledge an “infallible authority” in the form of an ecumenical council of bishops. However, by what practical means would the “Orthodox” actually convene one? Again, who are the “Orthodox” anyway? From what I can tell, each bishop, patriarch, metropolitan, etc. must go to a set of codified texts to extract what they take to be the correct, “orthodox” understanding of divine revelation. Lacking a means to convene an ecumenical council, and absent any specific hierarch with the authority to bind all others; where is the “real-world” means by which theological disputes might be adjudicated within something called “Orthodoxy”?

    The last I checked the bishops were “living” authorities. If it wasn’t so, who exactly is Rome in dialog with? Who does Rome take to be the Orthodox authorities?

    The last time I checked, Rome was in conversation with multiple authorities, not a one of which claims to be able to speak authoritatively for anything called “Orthodoxy”. Look at what you are saying. “Rome is in dialogue with . . .” If I were to assign city names to these “authorities” the way you apply a city name to the Pope, I would have to say that “Rome” is in dialogue” with how many different cities? You can refer to the entire Catholic Church by use of the word Rome – you could do no such thing for the term “Orthodoxy”. Try publicizing the asserting that the sentence “Orthodoxy” is in dialogue with Rome” exactly means “Constantinople is in dialogue with Rome”.

    Pax et Bonum,

    Ray

  163. Diane,

    I read your post and you still are not commenting on my original objection. I’ll try one more time. It’s post 120 in this thread. You said one looks in vain for a positive presentation of the Orthodox faith. I cited several examples from mainstream Orthodox sources that demonstrate, I believe, that your comment was over the top. I ask you again, seriously: am I mistaken? Are these further examples of negativity amongst Orthodox?

    I have never denied there is, as Fr. Jensen says, “a pervasive anti-Catholic mentality among Orthodox Christians” and I agree with him that “denying this is pointless and foolish.” I believe it’s a big problem. Some of it is ancient, some from sad events from the 19th and 20th centuries, but a lot of it is baggage brought into modern Orthodoxy by converts. It’s not ignored. I’ve read comments by priests and Bishops (Bishop Job, of blessed memory, comes to mind) dealing with it.

    I think a good perspective about the problems some new converts to Orthodoxy exhibit are discussed here in this article originally published by the Antiochian Archdiocese, particularly under the section “The Pitfall of Ingratitude”:

    http://orthocath.wordpress.com/2010/03/16/after-the-chrism-dries/

    One must also keep in mind that there’s been a remarkable (and laudable) transformation in Catholic attitudes regarding Orthodoxy and the Christian East in the past 50 years. There are still a few problems (knee jerk reactions by some Catholics about the ordination of married men in Eastern Catholic Churches, for example) but all in all the transformation has been impressive. In many ways, Orthodoxy needs to catch up. I’m not saying that Orthodoxy need to shed its objections to papal supremacy as exercised the past thousand years or so. The differences are real and ought not to be minimized. But, to assume a moral superiority because of this recent transformation in Catholic attitudes is, I believe, wrong. I don’t think this thread needs to document some of the negativity that was more prevalent in earlier times towards the East.

    Still, back to today, there are many places where the “anti-mentality” you describe (which I would still love to see documentation that von Balthasar applied to the Orthodox) is not present. I don’t see it in my parish, for example. Nor do I see it in the writings of many Orthodox writers.

    I believe you have had these sad experiences and if I could I’d apologize for them. But, I hold no official capacity to do so. Know that many Orthodox are horrified as well by what you describe.

    I’ve thought a bit about your comment that I have offended you by posting “rather offensive stuff about the popes and the papacy.” I’ve tried to be fair when I write but I’m far from perfect. I’m not sure what posts of mine you are referring to but if I posted with a lack of Christian charity and offended you please forgive.

    Again, I’d appreciate your comments on my original objection (post 120) to your post which said one looks in vain for positive presentations on Orthodoxy. Those do exist and can be numbered among the most prominent presentations in print today.

    In XC,

    Dave

  164. Ray,

    I don’t underestimate the force of the epistemic problem, it is just that you keep misrepresenting my position. You seem to be taking me by articulating the conditions to be setting them forth in a normative way. This is a mistake. I am doing no such thing. Nor is my claim that Catholics are at the same position when it comes to finding out the truth of Catholic claims wide of the mark. If you read the post you referred to you’ll see they say the same thing I’ve said repeatedly,

    “Q4. But isn’t the person who becomes Catholic using his own private judgment just like the Protestant?
    A. We cannot but use our own intellect and will in interpreting evidence, drawing conclusions, discovering truths, and making decisions. In that respect, inquirers who eventually become Protestant or Catholic start in the same epistemic situation, using their own intellect and will to find the truth through the evidence available to them. Using our intellect and will in coming to believe something is not what makes the Protestant confession to be without divine authority, nor is it what makes the Catholic’s faith in the Catholic Church not subject to the tu quoque objection. What makes a Protestant confession to be without authority is that it is a product of merely human minds, minds without divine authorization, as they sought to interpret and explain the Scriptures.”

    My position isn’t akin to the Protestant position. I am not challenging the Catholic position at the second level. That is, everyone is in the same epistemic position prior to finding out the truth of their claims. Once they’ve discovered an ultimately normative source, then they are under that authority. By articulating the conditions by which I think the Orthodox Church speaks infallibly, I am not taking myself to establish those conditions in an ultimately normative way, anymore than when a Catholic articulates the conditions for the Catholic Church to speak normatively. You conflate reporting with normatively establishing.

    The rest of what you write is therefore wide of the mark and continues to misrepresent my position. I did not commit the tu quo que fallacy. It is entirely possible that you made a mistaken judgment in thinking that you identified an ultimate authority, when in fact you didn’t. In which case, if you have, then you’ve never attained to the second level. So it would be the case for Protestants considering the two options and Catholics who argue against one of them that they are still at the first level with the latter representing no ultimately normative position. Such is the nature of the human condition.

    As for the assent of faith, this simply pushes us back to the first level. We’d need to know that the claims were true, that is, someone did in fact discover such an authority to know that they in turn were divinely aided to so assent. So the assent of faith is irrelevant since I am not talking about being subject to such an authority. I am referring to prior epistemic questions. Second, it presupposes a nature/grace dialectic that is specifically Catholic. So again, we’d need to know if Catholicism true. If not, it is question begging. In short, Orthodoxy is not Protestantism or Catholicism.

    As for your claims regarding Orthodoxy, you claim that there is in principle no authority to distinguish an ecumenical council from one that isn’t or rather there is no way to know because there are no conditions for what constitutes an ecumenical council. But there is no proof that this is in fact so. You simply state it over and over again. Since it is unsupported, I simply reject it. You need to support your claims with argument and evidence. So, I simply deny that you’ve actually glossed the Orthodox position correctly. It is a straw man. And I am under no obligation further than what I’ve done to lay out the conditions to refute your argument, since there is no argument to refute, just naked assertions.

    Second, what is the arbiter of whether the pope is a heretic or not? The pope? What mechanism arbitrates when there is no pope and only rival claimants to the pope? Well, on your assertions, it can’t be a council. What are we left with but nothing? Could Peter have been a heretic at any point? Could any apostle?

    Third, it was councils like 2nd Nicea that took themselves to be ecumenical prior to Roman acceptance (due to the Roman alliance with the Iconoclastic and Filioquist Franks). Further, that council also ratified other local synods regarding the canon of Scripture, evaluating their authority and that of the formal canon of Scripture. Such councils took themselves to in fact give a de fide rendering of what constituted the faith. Some councils judged the theology of the popes, such as Chalcedon, since the fraudulent texts stating that the pope is “judged by no one” had not gained currency in the East, particularly with the other Petrine Sees (Antioch and Alexandria). Leo’s Tome was judged by Cyril’s theology and not the other way around. Such councils took their position to be collectively superior to the pope (the fifth council said as much explicitly) and infallibly established that there is no other way to judge such matters, which was a direct rebuke of Rome.

    This is why I don’t take your quasi-transcendental argument to really work. It doesn’t do the kind of epistemic work you wish it to and it leaves aside large swaths of facts that do not comport with it. While it may be true that there will always be a lack of data to formulate a proper deductive proof of the position. (If you formulated it purely as a transcendental proof you wouldn’t have to deal with this problem.) Fair enough, but from that it does not follow that there can’t be sufficient evidence and reason to show the thesis to be false.

    You write that even if the Orthodox take were correct, one would have to “fish out” all of the totality of divine revelation and such is what I am doing. Such a gloss misrepresents my position, again. I am doing no such thing. I am on no more of a fishing expedition than a Catholic who goes through magisterial documents to find out what the church’s teaching is or a non-Catholic does in trying to find the truth regarding the Catholic position. Having a pope does not mean you have a pope to personally talk to on every occasion. Hence there is no “real time” papacy. The papacy is in fact quite slow moving for the most part. Catholics have to do the same kind of leg work to know and articulate their position as I am doing. Hence you gloss the Catholic position too strongly. All I a doing is giving evidence to support my claims.

    Now you write that if there were some living authority universally recognized among the Orthodox as having divine authority to adjudicate, it would not be the case that I’d have to go “fishing” as you glossed it above. As I pointed out, this is not even so on your position and so it can’t be a necessary or sufficient condition for my position, unless you concede that your position is false. Further, if the Pope has authority, then there is no requirement for “universally” recognized authority relative to his having that authority. Further, there was no “universally recognized” authority in the first millennium as the pope claims to have now. The evidence I pointed to from ecumenical councils that Rome accepts is sufficient by itself to establish as much, unless you wish to claim that an ecumenical council can excommunicate a sitting pope.

    And practically, the Orthodox don’t seem to need the “real time” papacy to maintain liturgical and sacramental integrity. While we have our own set of practical problems, we don’t have a problem of liturgical and theological innovation on a large scale. We have no lay Eucharistic ministers, women and girls who serve at the altar, priest who grossly and widely disregard the liturgy and substitute their own innovations. Such things are clear and widespread innovations such that if Rome didn’t have the papacy, the whole thing would fall apart. So even if you got around the other problems I posed, the boots on the ground situation, the papacy seems to make no real difference as to preserving the true faith and practice.

  165. Ray,

    You ask what present day mechanism exists for adjudicating. This is in part ambiguous and begs the questions since it assumes in the terms “present day” something analogous to the papacy has to exist in order to do that kind of work. I deny that it does. It is something can be enacted but doesn’t have to be present in act for the Orthodox position to address your concerns. If we were inventing new doctrines or thought that doctrine developed, this might be necessary. It might also be necessary if we thought that there was in principle some new heresy to deal with. But we don’t think any of those things are true or not necessarily so.

    Historically there has been a tiered approach as witnessed by many of the Fathers and councils. Councils being the highest authority and then from there down patriarchial ratification form all of the major apostolic sees. The latter in times past has been used to make normative judgments. To speak of “so-called” Orthodoxy is a bit insulting. How would you feel if I spoke of Catholischism in light of the fact that the Papacy seems unable after five hundred years to heal any of the schisms it was party to? How about so called “Catholicism?” Please, let’s leave such designations aside.

    You lay out your view and ask me why I can’t do that as well. This is putting words in my mouth. I never said I couldn’t. I gave some reasons, some evidence and gave a sketch. That is what was necessary to refute your claims. As for the argument, I don’t see a reason why I should have to go full bore and lay it all out for you. If you don’t know the Orthodox position already from study, I am not clear why I need to do your work for you. Besides, I could cite chapter and verse and lay it all out, but what would be the point? It would only invite you to start working on it. I prefer to keep it in my back pocket rather than reveal my hand giving my opponents a heads up. So you mistake strategy with inability. Just take a look at my image.  If you think the Orthodox lack what you claim they lack, then you’ll need to make that argument. So far, all I’ve seen is assertions by you.

    As for your sketch, what if the pope is a heretic? What if there is no pope but only rival claimants who all disagree on some theological point? Who is the arbiter then? Is there no church since there is no de facto principle of unity when the seat is vacant? I keep asking these questions because I never seem to get an answer or a very clear one. Even well respected Catholic theologians like Journet hem and haw on these questions and And Journet was no fool. Why hasn’t Rome defined these issues since there is no lack of historical precedent that made them pressing?

    Further, how were the decisions of Chalcedon promulgated? Was it by a papal judgment? No. Were they sufficient? Yes. Can you point to any “universally recognized” canons or document in the first thousand years that articulates the view that a council is not ecumenical unless the pope’s ratification confers such a status on it, that is, his ratification is a sufficient condition for it being ecumenical? Please note that is different than documents stating that the acceptance by apostolic sees were a necessary condition.

    If the views of all of the bishops are revisable in reference to the pope as you lay out, it seems that everyone else’s conscience can be bound, except the Pope’s. In this way the Catholic view mirrors the Protestant view in so far as the Protestants simply expand the members of the papal office through the right of private judgment. And it seems a bit like the Protestant faith where said faith is held provisionally to be our best understanding so far. This may not be the case for the pope, but it seems necessarily the case for everyone else as you’ve glossed it. And whatever value you assign to certitude, that doesn’t seem conducive to it. Further, how can the deposit of faith be in the episcopate if it cannot be lost and/or is tentatively adhered to under the pope? How is it not really just in the pope? On the other hand, from the Orthodox view, it is in all the bishops, as it was in all of the apostles, such that none of them required the assistance of the others for the execution of their work per se. If the deposit is in all the bishops, it seems sufficient for all of said bishops in communion with one another to maintain that apostolic deposit. Further, orders are Triadic or Trinitarian. The bishop represents the Father, the presbyters the Son and the deacons the Spirit. There is no fourth category in the Trinity and so no fourth chrism over and above that of the episcopate. Eccesiology is Triadology.

    Practically, you write that bishops out of line with Rome will either face correction or will face excommunication. But this is not so. Plenty of bishops, not to mention priests openly hold dissenting views and practices and are never brought to account. What you articulate is an idealization and not what people in the ground in fact experience. Such a lack of church discipline is not due to Rome’s ignorance on such matters. I mean, why can’t Rome discipline those parishes that have female altar servers, when such allowances are supposed to be in the extreme have now become the de facto tradition and the norm? Would it be so hard to do? This is just one case and why I don’t take the claims of a real “dynamic presence” of an authority seriously. With such authority Rome has done no better, and in fact seemingly much worse in maintaining the liturgy-lex ordandi, lex credendi.
    You are right that you’ve not appealed to historical data, which at best makes your account consistent or maybe even coherent, but that doesn’t show that it is true and that is what you need to show.

    You write that you’d like to understand the Orthodox view, I don’t think this is so. I think you wish to press me here. But until you give an argument that in fact represents the Orthodox position, I see no need to address your assertions. If you don’t know the Orthodox position (since you wish to know it) then you are inconsistent with your other post since you took yourself to be representing the Orthodox position. If you don’t know it, then you can’t be, except by luck, representing it. I also reject the two alternatives that you proffer (no disputes arise or we shouldn’t be concerned with them. I think such disputes have arisen and need to look and see how they have been answered.

    Further, the quasi-transcendental argument you put forward is claimed by you to rely on no historical data. But this is not the case. What you present is refined material from historical data, Matt 16:18, being not the least of which. Its form gives the reader the false impression that one can evaluate the “system” or “mechanics” without finding out historically if it is true or not. Such is not the case. You’ve simply extracted the mechanics of the model from the historical data and presented the abstraction as if that were sufficient to prove your point. It is not. It is no analytic or a priori truth. And such is not how the popes have argued for their claims. Satis Cognitum is a prime example. The pope there does not primarily rely on the efficiency, explanatory power or consistency of their position. They rely on historical data. This father teaches this, or that father or council said that, much as I have done. Because of this, your claim regarding non “fishing” through history on your part is false. Even if you were right here, we’d need to know if it was in fact true. In which case, sans Plato, you need more than just a “likely story.” You need a historical revelation and all of the other entailed historical entities to along with it. This is the weakness of transcendental types of arguments as Barry Stroud pointed out in his “The Significance of Philosophical Skepticism.” It seems that you haven’t left the Kantian fold and why your argument has such a Kantian feel to it-because it is Kantian.

    I grant that I must analyze texts to ground my position. The popes do the same. Were the popes wrong to do so? Second to find out if the Catholic position is true, every one must more or less do the same, as Bryan Cross writes in the “Tu Quo Que” piece. If not, then Matt 16:18 wouldn’t need Catholic exegetical arguments to prove their case. Your argument undercuts all the work of pop Catholic apologists. It would make all appeals to Matt 16:18 and all other historical data argumentatively irrelevant. Such an approach

    Further, at the second level, I don’t analyze the text to find out if such and so is heretical or not. I take the church’s judgment to normatively judge to do that. So I simply deny that I am doing what you claim that I am doing. Again, you’ve misrepresented my position. So I never argued on the principled basis of the right of private judgment.

    As for the authority being non-dynamic and merely textual, this is a mistake. First because at the time of their judgments, the councils were quite dynamic and personal. And the bishops who are successors of those bishops seem to keep teaching about them and from them. Second, you haven’t show that a continuous **single** dynamic and personal authority in act is necessary. Why one authority and not many or does the one subordinate the many? Is simplicity superior to plurality? Here is where the rubber meets the road and it becomes clear how the mistaken view of simplicity motivates the arguments for the papacy. Simplicity isn’t superior to and doesn’t subordinate plurality. Not in the Trinity and not in the Church either.

    In point of fact, this lack of a constant personal dynamic is true for the pope, since the pope does not always speak ex cathedra or from a position of the ordinary magisterium. His powers in theory are held in potency for long periods of time and not in act. As Catholic apologists point out, the exercises of the extra ordinary magisterium are “few” in number. Third, it isn’t necessary for the Orthodox to exercise the supreme authority for them to have it. There are normative councils that are not ecumenical but still authoritative and ones we claim are ecumenical as well. The question is one of adequacy and posession. And if the apostolic deposit resides in the episcopacy and if the full exercise of apostolic authority is only made actually under certain jointly sufficient conditions, then comparing it to how the Catholic position claims to actualize said power under different conditions will only tell us that the Orthodox view of jointly sufficient conditions isn’t the Catholic view. It won’t tell us that the former is false and the latter is true. This is why I don’t need to point to some current day authority in actuality to meet your objection, any more than a Catholic has to point to a continuous present day ex cathedra statement to meet protestant objections to the same effect. The question is not if the authority is present in full in act at every or any moment, because not even the Catholic has that at all times. The question is whether there is such a power in potency and can be brought to act. Your objection turns then on the conflation of potency and act. As possessing the power in potency the episcopate isn’t bereft of teaching authority with respect to the teaching of the councils. On their own they may not be ultimately normative, but neither are Catholic priests and bishops which you have to consult to ascertain correctly the right understanding of Catholic texts. If this were a problem for my position, it would be a problem for yours. But you think it isn’t a problem for your position and so it isn’t a problem for mine. Hence your objection that my authority is merely textual and non-dynamic is a bad argument.

    All Orthodox to my knowledge hold that an ecumenical council is sufficient to adjudicate matters in an ultimately normative way and it is not relevant if there is not a sitting council now anymore than it is relevant that the pope doesn’t speak authoritatively on every occasion he speaks. If your condition were necessary every bad pope would be transmuted into a good one, at least in so far as everything he said was authoritative. But you don’t accept that conclusion and so you must reject your own condition as too stringent.

    I am not clear why I cannot simply point to the persons at the councils who laid down those conditions to fulfill your request. How is that any different than Pastor Aeternus being laid down by the pope? Again, your conditions are too strict since you don’t have personal access to the pope and what he teaches. That is mediated through texts and through clergy lower down than he. So I can’t see how I am in any different position than you are.

    You ask for who in the Orthodox Church (please, the quotes “Orthodoxy” are insulting.”) can speak normatively as to what those conditions are. (Again, why imply that there only needs to be one person?) This depends. Do you mean ultimately normatively? The councils themselves. Is there a sitting council telling me so now? No. Is there a sitting pope saying so now ex cathedra? No. Saying so from the ordinary magisterium right now? No. You rely on texts and bishops and priests to tell you as much.

    You ask who can give a normative interpretation of those councils. Again, given a tiered approach we start with the episcopate and work our way up. But more to the point, your objection seems to rest on a confusion. You seem to think that I need an infallible person to interact with at every level if the judgment is to be authoritative at any level. But this is a condition that Catholicism can’t meet since your local priest, bishop or even cardinal are not and cannot be infallible when they “clarify” the statements of the Pope or the ordinary magisterium. It is not as if there is a whole lot more out there to condemn in terms of heresy. And it is not as if every challenge to Catholicism makes its way up the ladder to the pope and the magisterium for a judgment. Most do not since they are again, “few” in number.

    If you wish to know what constitutes Orthodoxy, go to the liturgy. Go to the churches of Thessaloniki or those in Antioch or Jerusalem founded by the apostles and venerate their relics. This is why acting as if there is nothing definite that counts as Orthodox seems to me rather absurd. Orthodoxy is the faith of the apostles as taught in the Scriptures, interpreted by the consensus of the Fathers and the ecumenical councils in the apostolic succession of the episcopate in the mutual communion of the apostolic sees and exemplified in the divine liturgy. Now, if we go to your local Catholic mass and your local Orthodox liturgy, which liturgy would the apostles recognize as their own? This is why the questions you ask sincerely ring hollow to me since there is no plausible claim that Catholicism preserves the faith, that is the Divine Liturgy. At at least a practical level, what good is having a definition of “Catholicism” if it is unfaithful to the liturgy and praxis of **tradition?** Such a definition is, like a Kantian intuition, contentless. A religion of “development” is incompatible with a religion of tradition because the former is a totalizing Idealism that could justify any alteration, making it consistent with past statements. Idealistic models are excellent at accommodating counter evidence. The problem is in how one could know in principle them to be false once you admit the premises. So I am sure you can appeal to the fact that the popes have approved such non-traditional practices or that they could (but haven’t) exercised their authority to remove such abuses to any measurable degree, but that is some idea in your head and not something you see every Sunday morning. You are talking about the church as an idea and am talking about a society of people.

    You write that you are trying to make that argument that Orthodoxy has no mechanism to adjudicate. But all you’ve done is made that claim or asked me to tell you what it is. Therefore nothing you’ve presented can count as an argument representing the Orthodox position because either you don’t know what it is or you haven’t made an argument to show what is the Orthodox position is and why it is mistaken

    If someone wants to know what the Catholic church is, is a Catholic wrong to point to the local parish? No. If one wants to get the right interpretation of what the Catechism means, do they need to send a letter to the pope or the magisterium and get an ultimately authoritative answer? No. Such a practice is not feasible on your own principles. The papal curia may be efficient but they are not that efficient. They would direct you to, in most cases, the catechism, some other document or your local clergy. And they would be right to do so. Hence your charge against the Orthodox here seems to render your position inconsistent.

    The divine power of infallibility as constituent of the apostolic deposit is in the episcopate. Each priest serves and teaches as the authorized legate of his bishop. The local parish then is and represents the church in its entirety though not in a reducitonistic way, just as each of the divine energies are fully divine without metaphysical identity to any of the other ones. The Church is empirichoretic because she enjoys the life of the Trinity. (Jn 14) hence the divine power of infallibility as potency is in the episcopate and is actualized under certain conditions. This is why the local church is the “authority basis”-it is just that that power is actualized jointly, just as was the case in Acts 15. the Spirit spoke with and through the apostles in a council, not one speaking over and above the rest of them. Your question then about identifying the Orthodox church is answered by my reply of looking to the local parish. If you reply that it isn’t actualized by the individual bishop constantly, such is also true for the pope, who only possesses what he claims in potency for a good deal of his pontificate.

    I am not one to cite Bp. Ware a whole lot, but since people seem to read him as some kind of be all authority here goes. Ware himself says that the Orthodox can certainly convene an ecumenical council. If you’ve read his book as you stated you would know what my position is on that score. It is also in Florovsky and dozens of other Orthodox writers. Then you send me a barrage of questions. Why ask me the questions if you have an argument to make and you already know what the Orthodox position is? Either you don’t know what the position is or you wish to press me rather than make an argument. Rather, either do the requisite reading (as would be the case to find out the Catholic position) or make an argument.

    So no, I am not “trading fast and loose” with the term ecumenical. If you think I am, you’ll need to make an argument, rather than ask me questions for which you do not seem to know the answers. It is not that I refuse to be “pinned” down. And your framing my stance in that way is uncharitable. It is that I am not going to do your work for you. If you don’t know the Orthodox position and wish to argue against it, that is something you will have to remedy. I don’t bear your burden of proof and I simply refuse to do so.

    Further, your proposed reason why I supposedly refuse to get “pinned down”, that I supposedly know the lack of identity” is an ad hominem. Even if true, my ignorance wouldn’t make the Orthodox position false. You need to show it is false, and not speculate as to what I do or do not know. So you need to make good arguments rather than fallacious remarks. A theist who doesn’t know why God permits evil doesn’t imply that there is no good reason for God doing so. An atheist who pointed out such ignorance wouldn’t therefore have a good counter argument that there was no good reason. And further, you haven’t in fact proved out that I do not know.

    Again, I am not in the same boat as the Protestants since what someone finds when they encounter the Orthodox Church is the church of the apostles. We do not hold to the right of private judgment and we believe that the bishops are the legates of the apostles and as such authoritative teachers, whose teaching authority extends to infallible judgments under certain conditions. As the fifth council says, there is “no other way” for such a judgment to come about. Such bishops continue to teach and are successors of those who taught and judged at said councils. They are actually ordained through the succession of the apostles by the laying on of hands and not participants in their office by virtue of election, as bishops of Rome used to be. Nor do I go to such “sources” to normatively define doctrine binding on the conscience, which is what the right f private judgment entails. I go to such sources to find out what is the church and what did it teach, the same way that the ‘Tu Quo Que” article said those considering Catholicism should do. So your argument against my position contradicts the article in question.

    You ask what practical means would the Orthodox convene such a council. We have the better part of half dozen examples to work with. A call from the apostolic sees has in time past been sufficient to do so. If you don’t think so, who called 2nd Nicea? Again, you ask questions for which you either do not know the answers or you wish to press me without making an argument, as if these questions were somehow show stoppers. If you think the Orthodox can’t call an ecumenical council, then give an argument proving it. Otherwise your remarks have rhetorical value only.

    Here’s my reply to your statement of similar wording. “From what I can tell, each pope must go to a set of codified texts to extract what they take to be the correct, ‘catholic’ understanding of divine revelation.”

    You again assert, but do not demonstrate that the Orthodox could not call a council. How was the 8th Ecumenical Council called (879)? How was the Council of Blachernae called? Who called 2nd Nicea? With the last it was at the prompting of the Patriarch of Constantinople that the emperor called one and invited legates from Rome and other sees.

    Your gloss on whom Rome is in dialog with is mistaken. Rome is in dialog with the Orthodox Church by her patriarchs, which is why they sign such documents. Rome doesn’t take each patriarch to be some separate body as you seem to gloss here. I applied city names because historically that is how those apostolic sees have been designated and the same goes for Rome, which designation in earliest times referred to the church at Rome and not necessarily a particular bishop picked out as “pope.” This is why the fifth council could excommunicate a sitting pope without failing to be in communion with the see of Rome. In sum, the bishops of those cities are the chief bishops of the Orthodox Church, not separate entities and Rome doesn’t teat them otherwise.

    It is true that since Rome separated from the Church one can refer to all of Catholicism by one word, Rome, but such was not always the case. During the monothelite controversy, one could not refer to Rome for a time, which is why the 7th council explicitly condemns Honorius for “his monothelitism” and not mere negligence.

    In any case, Ray, I don’t think you’ve even really touched the Orthodox position because you have either made naked claims regarding it or you have to ask me what it is, which is ample proof that you don’t know the target you are aiming at. So there is little by way of actual argument here to deal with, except your proposed schema. I’ve taken a good bit of time conversing with you ignore the bulk of my questions to you and the historical data I’ve presented. I don’t think there is much more that could be profitably said between us.

  166. Perry #161

    “Some councils judged the theology of the popes, such as Chalcedon, since the fraudulent texts stating that the pope is “judged by no one” had not gained currency in the East, particularly with the other Petrine Sees (Antioch and Alexandria). Leo’s Tome was judged by Cyril’s theology and not the other way around.”

    We RCs have no issue whatsoever with Councils judging papal statements that are not definitions “ex-Cathedra”. Leo’s Tome (letter to Patriarch Flavian) was not. Actually, I don’t see it having any formal rank above the regrettable letter of Pope Honorius to Patriarch Sergius on monothelitism.

    BTW, why do you say Alexandria is a Petrine See?

  167. Johannes,

    I don’t think that 1 Cor 13:12 unambiguously refers to an intentional union with God. Plenty of Fathers don’t think so either. The same goes for 1 Jn. 3:2 and especially Rev 1:13-16 which explicitly refers to the incarnate Christ. As for Matt 5:8 I don’t deny that the pure in heart will see God since I take the divine persons to be revealed in their energies and the energies are fully divine. In fact, we maintain that this is possible for anyone on earth now with their own physical eyes. So the language of seeing God and not seeing God can be accommodated by the Orthodox view. An intentional union be itself seems problematic since it seems to leave the body, and specifically matter, out of deification.

    As for 1 Tim 6, there is nothing particular in the context that indicates not seeing God is limited to earthly existence only. Again plenty of Fathers apply this across the board. Chrysostom for example is fairly representative in his Third Homily (sec. 13-16) On the Incomprehensible Nature of God, of denying that even the angels in heaven see the divine essence since Scripture says that they veil their faces. This was the same position as Maximus and made its way into Erugena, which was later condemned by the Latins as heretical in the middle ages.

    As for the idea of no one commits heresy by denying a truth before it becomes dogma, this presupposes a Catholic view and so begs the question at best. Councils don’t define dogmas since theology is not a science in the first place. Second, plenty of people were condemned as heretical prior to the supposed “definition” of a given dogma. Take Arius as a prime example as condemned by Alexander long before Nicea.

  168. Diane,

    Even if we suppose that the “anti” mentality is as bad as you take it to be, that says nothing one way or the other as to whether Orthodox arguments are good ones or bad ones.

    I’ve met a fair number of “internet Catholic apologists” who routinely denounce Hesychasm as “heresy”, “quietism” and such. This is also from the top down form sources like Martin Jugie who said of Palamas’ teaching that he promoted the worst heresy ever to the afflict the church. Words like “demonic” and “satanic” are used in such academic sources. There are others who routinely denounce Orthodox teaching and saints as heretical in a rather dismissive way-Fortescue, among other Catholics writers talk this way at times or borders on it at best. William’s work on Palamas and Aquinas is replete of examples of Catholic scholars and not uneducated laymen making similar comments about how “heretical” the Orthodox are. Maybe you haven’t seen those remarks but they occur across a wide body of Catholic authors, and a good many of them with Nihil Obstat or Imprimatur or both.

    It doesn’t really bother me if people say such things about my position and I expect mature individuals to be able to take part in a theological conversation and be frank about it. And then go and have a beer. People who find such terms hurtful and take them personally I’d suggest should not take part in such discussions until they can mature to speak frankly and directly about such matters without taking it personally.

    The change in attitude among Catholics is a fairly recent post-V2 development. It is not a change in the Catholic position that the Orthodox are not only schismatic, but also at least materially heretical per Lyon, Florence, and V1. We deny the supreme jurisdiction of the pope by divine right, his infallibility, the immaculate conception, the Filioque and a number of other things. That is sufficient to make any Protestant a heretic. What has changed ISTM is the way Catholics speak about such things without changing the former condemnations. It is a strategy and not a material change in their position. Catholics have also changed the way they speak about Protestants. V2 removed nothing of Trent and Protestant theology is still formally heretical and Protestants are still material heretics, and perhaps even formal heretics given certain individuals and conditions. But V2 changed the way Catholics speak about Protestants as “ecclesial communities” and “separated brethren.” Such is not the language of Trent or post Tridentine polemics and yet nothing from Trent has changed. This is reflected in the way Orthodox-Catholic dialog has taken place with Catholics leaving aside dogmatic statements about the Papacy by and large and focusing on how it is administered. This strikes not a few Orthodox Patriarchs as Uniatism writ large. In any case, not much has changed and I don’t expect it to in my life time.

    At the lay level most Catholics now, particularly those who grew up post V2 aren’t familiar with the previous attitudes that are just a temporal stones throw away. In fact, most Catholics aren’t familiar with the Orthodox Church at all. I see it every year when I do the church tours at my parish with the shocked look on the face to discover another body that has apostolic founding, is ancient and sacramental, etc. In fact, most Protestant converts to Catholicism in my and many other’s experience read very little if anything substantial with the list often starting with Ware’s book and just a handful of titles after that. Hahn and others seem like perfect examples of this in my judgment.

    So the fact that few Catholics say such things now is very irrelevant. The dogmas are still in place with their anathemas and Catholic apologists still employ material from Fortescue, Jugie, and co. on a regular basis. Perhaps you don’t see it as much because you aren’t on the receiving end of it. But I see it every year at the festival, not to mention on line.

    Likoudis’ calls the Orthodox more than “dissidents” and he publishes works by Catholics (no less than Aquinas) that not only explicitly call the Orthodox “heretics” but are well known to have fraudulent patristic passages in them without batting an eye. Boettner denied that if Catholics were consistent in everything they believed qua Catholicism they wouldn’t be Christians, but he, like a number of other Reformed writers think that this isn’t so for a good many Catholics. I quite agree that Boettner’s book is indeed a very bad book, only to be superseded by Hislop’s work. The difference in any case between Likoudis and Boettner then seems to be more like the difference between the degree to which the two apples are rotten and not that one enjoys an orangish hue.

    As for “love”, most Protestants do not take it as very “loving” when the Catholic Church unchurches them and maintains Tridentine anathemas. A good bit of Catholic apologetics for the last hundred years has been no more fair, let alone “loving” than that on the Protestant side. Catholics too have had their own historical deliberate fabrications like the Nag’s Head Fable. That aside, it is not in principle unloving to say that professors of a certain view is heretical if in fact it is so. It is not in principle unloving to say that such and so is not a true Christian Church, if it is not. Catholics and Orthodox agree on the principle, just disagree on the application. Our view is more economical in that our list is of a true church is one shorter than yours. Unchurching Rome isn’t in principle anymore unloving than Rome unchurching the CofE a hundred years ago and lots of other bodies for that matter.

    If you think that such attitudes undercuts the claim of the Orthodox to be the true church, then please make something like a formal argument. Otherwise, the “anti” complaints really pale in comparison to actions like the seventy plus years of papally enforced Latinization in Constantinople, things that look awfully like bribes coming from Pope Eugene at Florence and Jesuit Machinations in Russia and other places in the post-Reformation period. And the 19th and twentieth century is not without its blatant examples either. Acitons speaks louder and repeated persistent and consistent actions loudest of all.

    As for doing the most “gorgeous liturgy” but have not love, this much is true, but it isn’t true in application for the Orthodox across the board. Here you seem to slip from attitudes of individuals to imputing an ungraced position to the entire Orthodox Church. That seems unloving.

    You ask how we would feel if we were on the other end. We are on the other end and have been. Our bishops don’t deny that Rome or Protestants are professing Christians, capable of receiving grace. I know how it feels for someone to say that Orthodox spiritual practices are heretical. This is a fairly common remark by Catholics concerning Hesychasm. In fact, the Pope made a cardinal of the primary advocate of that position if you recall. “Navel gazers” was the term pass down through the centuries.

    Now as for your comparison to me, you misrepresent my position. I’ve never said that Catholics are not Christians. I’ve never said it of Classical Protestants for that matter. I’ve said that they are material heretics, that they lack a fullness of the faith and such. I can only go by what they profess and not their interior state. I have trouble discerning such things in myself let alone other people, which is why I leave what God may be doing in and with someone to God. This is now the second time you’ve misrepresented my view and the second time I’v e corrected you concerning it.

  169. […] I love the Orthodox too much to become Orthodox. […]

  170. The conversation here has been interesting. Thank you to everyone who has participated.

    Rightly I think, J. Andrew Deane has observed that the Orthodox Church does not have a consistent sacramental policy relative to Catholic orders. As I said somewhere above (when I was a much younger man and there was no white in my beard), hopefully this will be resolved at the upcoming meeting of Orthodox hiearchs in 2013. Until then I would caution all concerned from drawing any conclusions in the face of the current ambiguity.

    I am still waiting, however, for a response about my observation (#129) about the shift in the sacramental praxis of the Latin rite. Specifically, I have in mind the admission of children to Holy Communion PRIOR to confirmation. To the best of my knowledge, this is both a radical, and I would argue unwarranted, innovation with no president in the liturgical tradition East or West.

    If I am right in this, then the Church of Rome has in this instance and on papal authority deviated from her own tradition as well as the tradition of the first 1,000 when East and West were one Church. Put another way, this seems to me to be a clear example of the Pope of Rome erring in a matter of the faith of the Church.

    When someone has the time, I would appreciate any thoughts on the issue you care to share.

    In Christ,

    +FrG

  171. Dave–I haven’t read the works in question, and given my time constraints, I am unlikely to find the opportunity to do so.

    Color me skeptical, but I doubt very much that these works are entirely free of the “anti”-mentality. I doubt that they NEVER state, in so many words, “The Orthodox Way is such and such, unlike the Western / Latin / Catholic Way.” I would bet $50 or my next paycheck, whichever is larger, that these polemical invidious comparisons do indeed crop up in the works you recommend. In my experience, even the most irenical Orthodox (with very few exceptions) cannot entirely resist the “We do this or that UNLIKE youse guys” shtick. And this is precisely what strikes me as being so different from Catholicism. We Catholics have a very authoritative document called the Catechism, and you will not find one single invidious comparison with other faiths anywhere in its pages — not from one end to the other. I doubt there is any authoritative Orthodox work that is 100% free of invidious comparisons with the Latin / Catholic West.

    Orthodoxy is predicated on rejecting the West, rejecting the Other. Catholicism is not. Catholicism is what it is — the Catholica, East, West, North, and South — and it does not define itself against other Christians. Orthodoxy does. Big difference, IMHO.

    Look at converts to Catholicism vs. converts to Orthodoxy. If you’ve ever watched EWTN’s Journey Home, you must have been struck by the charitable, irenical way in which converts discuss their former communions. Again and again, converts from evangelicalism speak with warm praise and appreciation of their former communions’ zeal for souls and respect for the Bible. These converts have positive attitudes toward their earlier confessions; they consider themselves “Completed Protestants,” not anti-Protestants. Compare this with the attitude so rampant among Orthodox converts from either Protestantism or Catholicism: the almost visceral repudiation of everything their former churches stood for. Heck, I remember being taken to task once by the Ochlophobist for even suggesting that Protestants might have something positive to offer!

    Dave, I have said all along that there are many irenical Orthodox. May their tribe increase! The fact remains, though, that the anti-mentality is still pervasive within Orthodoxy, both online and offline. I do not see how you can gainsay this. I really don’t. I mean, the evidence is literally everywhere.

    Was “one seeks in vain” an overstatement? Perhaps. But it was pretty darned close to reality, as I and so many others have experienced it.

    May I ask you a question, now? When you returned to Orthodoxy, were you required to say some formula renouncing the errors of the Latins or whatever? If so, I hope you will honestly recognize that no similar requirement exists on the Catholic side. Orthodox who become Catholic just kind of…do it. No big deal. No need to renounce the errors of the Byzantine dissidents, blah blah blah. Nothing like that. This is a humongous difference, and it sums up everything I’ve been saying. We do NOT define ourselves against y’all. Y’all DO define yourselves against us. I will ask you to consider which approach comes closer to expressing the Catholica. Which approach comes closer to taking seriously Our Lord’s agonized prayer “ut unum sint.”

    I rest my case.

    P.S. re your statements re the popes–that was at Eirenikon; I will dig ‘em up later. I was not personally offended. Just surprised.

  172. One brief comment. Regarding Fr. Gregory’s mentioning of the separation of the sacraments of initiation, I think this would be good ground for theologians and bishops to discuss whether this is an area where Roman Catholics need to change. There is ground for arguing that, but we must be respectful of each other’s difference in practice, even if the divergence is clear. As an Eastern Catholic, we maintain the Tradition of Chrismation and Holy Eucharist as mysteries that are linked to Baptism.

    But Fr. Gregory is right–numerically, the vast majority of Catholics spend some time receiving Our Lord’s Body and Blood as unchrismated people, usually between 7 and 17. There is a good article that I’ll try to cite later, written by a Melkite Christian whose last name is also Nordic (it escapes me at the moment), which argues that this difference in practice is relatively novel, and that there is good Western reasoning that would lead one to argue that this should change. Not being a strict dogma, I take this to be one of many areas where the Church could err, and thankfully, she could also change to be more in line with the Eastern brethren who unite the sacraments of initiation.

    In XC,
    J. Andrew Deane

    p.s. I think this commenting esp. from Dave and Diane should happen elsewhere. We’ve all admitted that we’ve not loved one another enough at points in history. Nailing down each epoch and quantifying abuses is not as important as the principles driving the abuses of actions or esteem.

  173. Let us for the sake of argument say that the current Latin practice is merely an abuse and does not have any dogmatic ramifications (which as an Orthodox Christian, I would be hesitant to say about an issue so central as incorporation into the Body of Christ) the question then becomes how is the Pope corrected? While I think very good arguments have been given for the positive value of papal infallibility, I think Pius X’s action highlights a serious flaw in Catholic ecclesiology–there seems to be no way to correct a pope when, in the issue I raise, he deviates from the tradition of the Catholic Church.

    Again, my argument here presupposes that in fact Pius X introduced a new practice by admitting children to holy communion before confirmation. If this isn’t a new practice, my argument falls. But if it is a new practice–that is one unknown to the Roman Church until the 19th c and especially to the Church of the first millennium, then I would ask if papal authority can undo 19 centuries of established sacramental practice, why can’t he likewise ordain women to the priesthood? Where in Catholic theology does the pope get the authority to make confirmation optional?

    In Christ,

    +FrG

  174. Jonathan,

    My apologies for the thread straying off topic. If I may, could I post one last comment? My comments objecting to what Diane wrote were not written as an Orthodox apologist. I have no strengths that way and to be honest, that does not fit my persona. If I were still a Catholic I would have written almost the same objection — perhaps even more strongly worded. Even though I am no apologist I have no compunction telling apologists they should not make sweeping negative generalizations about other faiths, especially if they’ve never read the most primary works of that faith. My goal here was not to try to win points for Orthodoxy. I came here because your post sounded interesting to me as I’ve been on both “sides of the fence” and I wanted to read what you had to say. Besides pointing out this comment that was way over the top and answer a question asked of me, I mainly tried to mend fences and apologize for the faults of some of my brethren and my own faults as well. I think I’ve done all I can do in that area.

    However, I would like to answer the question of whether I had to do any “renunciations of Latin errors” when I returned to Orthodoxy this year: Absolutely not. (Maybe that’s done some places these days, I don’t know — but of all the people I’ve known make the same journey I’ve made I’ve not known one who had to do so.) In fact, my return to Orthodoxy was almost identical to my experience when I returned to the Catholic Church ten years ago. Both priests (Orthodox and Catholic) were extremely kind, sensitive and pastorally wise.

  175. Fr Gregory:

    I think y0u’re making too much of the modern Catholic sacramental practice. It is well known to Catholic scholars and theologians that, even in the ancient Western Church, infant communion was permitted in some cases. Today, no Catholic theologian would say that infant communion is inherently wrong. Indeed, the 1912 Catholic Encyclopedia, written at the same time Pius X issued his regulation, says: “That infants and children not yet come to the use of reason may not only validly but even fruitfully receive the Blessed Eucharist is now the universally received opinion.” What’s “opposed to Catholic teaching” is the view “that this sacrament is necessary for their salvation (Council of Trent, Sess. XXI, can. iv).” But I don’t know anybody who holds that view.

    In my view, the question what age is most suitable for people to make their first communion is essentially a matter of discipline rather than doctrine. The discipline depends on pastoral judgment, which can legitimately change. But the question whether it’s possible for women to be priests is, as John Paul II made clear, one of doctrine not discipline. And as then-Cardinal Ratzinger soon made clear, that doctrine is definitive and irreformable.

    Best,
    Mike

  176. Perry, in #149 I mentioned (Rev 1:13-16) specifically as a passage that refers to the vision of Jesus in glory, in order to contrast it to the interpretation of (1 Cor 13:12) and (1 Jn 3:2) that I see as most plausible. Perhaps I should have written “à la” in good French instead of “ala”.

    (1 Cor 13:12) and (1 Jn 3:2) clearly refer to the vision of God, not to the vision of Jesus in glory ala (Rev 1:13-16).

    On the other hand, it is intersting to contrast the interpretations of the other two passages that refer to seeing or not seeing God, regarding what is understood by “God” and by the conditions of the vision or lack thereof.

    xx – Clean of heart will see God. (Mt 5:8) – No man has seen or can see God. (1 Tim 6:16)
    RC – Essence, only in Heaven. – Essence, only on Earth.
    EO – Energies, in Heaven and on Earth. – Essence, on Earth and in Heaven.

    As I see it, taking “God” in (Mt 5:8) to mean the Energies and in (1 Tim 6:16) to mean the Essence
    seems rather arbitrary at least.

  177. Perry,

    I had a response all written out to your last post to me, but I submitted before I put my name in and thus they system lost it all. I will try to summarize my response from what I can remember:

    1) The way I see the issue, I would frame the argument as follows:
    a-Some EO say orders are not lost for sin/heresy
    b-Some EO say orders are lost for sin/heresy
    c-There is no definitive answer for the EO as to which position is right.
    d-Further, for those EO who subscribe to group ‘b’, when a cleric loses his orders is something of a personal judgement call which is left up to the individual to decide. This is what I mean by subjective.
    e-A similar argument can be made in regards to whether or not to rebaptize, in which the EO are divided on the issue.

    2) What I mean by you have your “opinion” is that there are equally intelligent EO, even among EO priests and bishops, who would disagree with your claim, which ultimately leaves the issue unsettled in any definitive manner..

    3) Your Arians not being rebaptized while the Eunomians were rebaptized example doesn’t settle the issue, so I’m at a loss for words how it ‘positively’ helps your case to appeal to it.
    You asked me if I could explain the discrepancy, here is my attempt: Sacraments are generally invalid for two reasons, a defect in form or in theological understanding. One possible explanation is that the specific Arian crowd in mind of Canon 1 of Constantinople 1 were guilty of ‘material’ heresy rather than ‘formal’, so this didn’t invalidate their baptism (the fact is most Christians don’t understand the Trinity that well and so likely have a faulty view of the Truth here). In reading over the specific canon you quoted, it specifically singles out that the Eunomians only baptize in “single immersion”, so it appears the reason here is a simple case of defect in form.
    These explanations, to me, are sufficient answers to your question.

    4) You said “the confusion among largely the Russians and contemporary Orthodox writers on this subject,” which to me concedes the fact there is no definitive answer here. Blaming the Lutherans or Catholics is a cop out to me, since that shouldn’t matter, what matters is whether it was heresy or not. If it was, then it needs to be condemned. What bothers me most about this is that instead of condemning eachother for this “confusion,” they prefer to let the issue remain unsettled so long as it’s agreed upon that no ground can be conceded to Rome, which hurts.

    5) You said:”Simply stating that some Orthodox rebaptize Catholics isn’t proof that it is so.”
    I’m not sure if I’m reading this correctly. I think it’s a plain fact that some EO do this, and I’ve heard EO say they’ve witnessed this.

    6) I don’t think the Matatics or Sungenis (who is not Sede by the way) example is comparable to the situation EO is in. Jones has every right to think this or that EO fell into sin and/or heresy and thus lost his orders, but the Sede has no such “rights” – even if both are operating in a sort of Protestant framework of making such judgments authoritatively.

  178. Michael,

    Thanks for your response. I don’t think that any Catholic theologian is rejecting infant communion–rather my concern is how the Catholic Church justifies giving communion to those who are not confirmed. As I said above, after 19 centuries of practice that required confirmation before holy communion, the current Latin rite practice, at a minimum, this seems like a serious liturgical abuse.

    Following from this, I don’t understand why the Catholic Church has the authority to change the established sacramental practice of initiation but doesn’t have the authority to change the the tradition and ordain women to the priesthood. What I’m looking for here is the rationale for the deviation in the order of the sacraments of initiation. And, for the record, I’m not in favor of women’s ordination–I’m just trying to understand the Catholic thinking of the relationship between confirmation and communion.

    In Christ,

    +FrG

  179. Johannes #163,

    Not all Catholics agree that Leo’s Tome was not ex-Cathedra. I’ve read Catholic sources that argue that it was. They do so on the basis of comments by Leo in Ep. 44,1-3 (PL 54,827), Ep. 120 ((PL 54,1046) and Leo’s letter to Chalcedon (PL 54,937) & (PL 54,1048). This is why the Catholic gloss on Chalcedon has been that the commission only examined the Tome to win over those bishops with “monophysite sympathies” rather than as a test against Cyril’s teaching.

    Antioch and Alexandria were seen as Petrine sees since Peter is at Antioch for quite some time and Alexandria is founded by Mark, Peter’s disciple and translator. This was the stated basis for Rome’s rejection of canon 28 of Chalcedon that it infringed on the Petrine apostolic prerogatives of Antioch and Alexandria.

  180. Father Gregory,

    You said: “Again, my argument here presupposes that in fact Pius X introduced a new practice by admitting children to holy communion before confirmation. If this isn’t a new practice, my argument falls.”

    I found in the article on Confirmation in the Catholic Encyclopedia of 1912 at New Advent the following reference from the letters of Alcuin, born about 735 and died 19 May 804:

    “Alcuin also in his letter to Odwin describes how the neophyte, after the reception of baptism and the Eucharist, prepares to receive the Holy Spirit by the imposition of hands. ‘Last of all by the imposition of the hands by the chief priest [summo sacerdote] he receives the Spirit of the seven-fold grace to be strengthened by the Holy Spirit to fight against others’ (De bapt. cæremon. in P.L., CI, col. 614).” (I haven’t checked their source to make sure they’re not mistaken).

    Perhaps this isn’t the example you’re looking for, because there is at least a close correlation in time between the reception of the Eucharist and confirmation here, as opposed to the current US practice, in which we receive the Eucharist years before confirmation. But this is at least an example in which the Eucharist is received before the sacrament of confirmation has actually occurred, even though it occurs soon afterwords.

    Finally, I would add that as of the time of the Catholic Enclyopedia article, it could still be said: “In the Greek Church and in Spain, infants are now, as in earlier times, confirmed immediately after baptism. Leo XIII, writing 22 June, 1897, to the Bishop of Marseilles, commends most heartily the practice of confirming children before their first communion as being more in accord with the ancient usage of the Church.”

    Thus, from what I’ve read, it seems that this isn’t the best area in which to look for popes guiding the whole Catholic church to departures from matters of faith that were universally taught in the early church. It actually seems there was some variety in the first millenium, and that this variety continued even after Pius X allowed and encouraged early communion.

    By the way, I found the article extremely interesting, and I think if you’re concerned about the Catholic doctrine of confirmation as a source of disunity between Orthodox and Catholics, you should give it a quick read.

    Sincerely,

    K. Doran

  181. Nick,
    1. I haven’t seen proof of c. Can you provide a demonstration that it is true? Also, “personal judgment” is ambiguous. All judgments are “personal.” So you need to spell out exactly what you mean here.

    1.a Second, your remarks seem to conflate a few issues here. You speak of “loosing orders” but I haven’t seen any evidence to show that the Orthodox Church is not of one mind on the question of the efficacy of the sacraments performed by a laicized priest. Simply noting that this or that priest is confused on the matter or says something opposite is no more proof than when this or that Catholic priest says something opposite or when Catholic theologians do so with respect to magisterial documents.

    2. I was using opinion in the technical sense of a view for which it is not possible to discover its truth value, which is why everyone would be entitled to their own. Second, it doesn’t logically follow that clerics disagree with what I’ve said that there is no definitive answer to the question. It is perfectly possible that they don’t know of the definitive answer or are dissenting from it, as is the case with a fair number of Catholic sources.

    3. Your gloss on Canon 7 is problematic at best and and leaves the issue untouched. Here is why. First, it is speculative. There is no reason to take your gloss as saying it in fact was the reason why the Arians were not re-baptized. Second, Arianism was already a formally condemned heresy, as was Eunomianism. The canon refers not to a specific local group, but lays down a carte blanch rule on how they are to be received. Third, the fact that most Christians can’t give something like an intelligent gloss on the Trinity s not comparable to Arians who denied it. Fourth, while the Eunomians had a defective form this doesn’t imply that the baptism of the Arians and other heretics and schismatics who were not rebaptized were valid, which is what you need to show. If JW’s used an acceptable form, would you receive them without re-baptism? I don’t think so.

    3.a Here is part of the problem. It is assumed that a lack of rebaptism implies the validity of the baptism in terms of efficacy. The same is done with orders. But “valid” for the Orthodox doesn’t imply efficacy outside the working of the Church. So, Arians can have “valid” baptism in terms of form, and the same with ordination, and yet no sacramental efficacy. So re-baptizing or not, re-ordaining or not, Catholic laity and clergy doesn’t show a theological confusion with respect to indelibility. And it doesn’t because to do so or not to do so doesn’t imply the validity of said rites outside the church in terms of sacramental efficacy. Neither the Arian nor Eunomian baptisms were effifacious. The “valid” form became fulfilled and effifacious upon reception into the Church and not before. This view is testified to in a variety of pre-Nicene synods and canons as well as post Nicene conciliar canons including those of ecumenical councils, such as 2nd Nicea.

    3.b And this leads to the next point. The denial of indelibility is glossed as some new problem that is the result of post-schism Romaphobia where the Orthodox have gone out of their way not to be like Rome. But such is not the case. The denial of sacramental efficacy to mysteries performed outside the Church has a long pedigree before the schism So even if there were a problem, it is a problem in patristic theology. Rejecting widespread patristic practice and theology (east and west) out of hand by laying down an authority card may be efficient, but it leaves the refutation of the claim that this is some new problem untouched.

    4. If you think what I wrote is a “cop out” then you’ll need to make an argument rather than asserting as much. Second, noting that there is confusion among the Russians or other jurisdictions would only imply that there is no definitive answer if jurisdictional authority were the highest court of appeals, but you’d need to prove that, rather than assume that. So it seems your claim of concession is vacuous.

    4.a Further such “confusion” due to outside influence has also been present in the west for centuries without uniformity on a whole host of practical and theological matters. If it invalidated Orthodoxy as a destination, then it would also do so for the pre-schism church. Likewise, Rome has left unsettled various theological questions for centuries. Take the question of Thomism vs. Molinism. When it came to actually solving the problem, Rome showed no special insight, but simply forbade either side from condemning each other. So each side exists side by side, each claiming that they are right and that the other “errors” and Catholic are free to believe either.

    4.b When you have Jesuits setting up schools and churches in Russia deliberately passing them off as Orthodox for decades and then their members only to discover later that they were Catholic and when Jesuits impose their terms and judgments into local Russian synods at the point of imperial power, it is no large surprise that you are going to have conflicting practices and theological judgments. This is not the stuff of conspiracy but well documented and admitted by all sides. (The Papacy didn’t suppress the Jesuits for no reason.) The same was true concerning images of the Trinity. Consequently you had local synods contradicting each other, which is not limited to the East btw. Some of the diverse practical handling of ordination is residual. In either case, it makes no difference as to the efficacy of the sacrament since there is none is admitted outside the church. At worst, canonical laxity doesn’t imply heretical theology. If it did, annulments quickly come to mind.

    As to your remarks about the issue remaining unsettled for so long and that it is left that way lest we concede ground to Rome. This is something of an ad hominem. Not only does it assumingly take Rome as the gold standard in a question begging way, such that if the Orthodox don’t resolve problems like or in temporal manner of Rome, then they are out, but it also wrongly imputes motives to the Orthodox for which you’ve supplied no evidence. Do you have evidence that the Orthodox got together and said “We have to leave this mess unsettled because if we don’t, we’ll give ground to Rome?” Such an assessment is far less than charitable, let alone irenic. It stinketh.

    What is also not charitable is presenting this as a problem and something of a deal breaker while ignoring all of the very complicated history in Russia, not to mention the Greek Catholics, and all of the attending pre-schism Patristic and conciliar theology and canons. That is misleading and unfair. It presents people with a skewed picture by leaving out key facts. That strikes me as stacking the deck. The fact material from Fathers and ecumenical councils is ignored or brushed aside with speculation seems far more Protestant in my judgment.

    As to point 6, I think you are mistaken. Here is why. During the Great Western Schism, Catholics from the laity on up to kings, judged that the seat was vacant or this or that papal claimant was the legitimate pope. Now what in principle is different between then and now? What “rights” did they think they had t make such judgments? And what “rights” did the bishops have to judge the matter apart from the pope without a visible principle of unity?

  182. Perry,

    Let me first say that I have enjoyed our exchange so far, even though we clearly disagree about much. Neither now, nor in my prior posts, so far as I know my own motivations, have I intended to be uncharitable or insulting, though I by no means discount the possibility that something I wrote might fairly be construed that way. I will address the issue of my use of the terms “Orthodox” and “Orthodoxy” a bit later in hopes of clarifying why it is that I used the phraseology “something called Orthodoxy”. I intend here to post a cleaner version of my original argument over on the “tu quoque” thread in an enumerated format. In a following post, I will respond to many of your objections with numerical reference to the argument so as to better organize my responses for both you and any thread readers. I of course, deny that my argument or methodology is, as you have termed it, “quasi-transcendental”, Kantian”, or “a priori”. My argument is less ambitious that you seem to think. It is not intended to “prove” the Catholic claim. Rather, it is intended to show the attractiveness of the Catholic claim over against an EO construal when considered from the wider context of the nexus that obtains between reason, revelation, and the “assent of faith”. It is this methodology, or “context”, which leads me to press so hard for clarification regarding the terms “Orthodox”, Orthodoxy” – but most especially “the Orthodox Church” with reference to the specific question: “what is the mechanism by which contrary theological propositions might be adjudicated in a normative way?” I take this question to be synonymous with the question: “what is the mechanism by which the “de fide” content of divine revelation might be differentiated from mere human opinion?” The phrase “Adjudicated in a normative way”, must entail such a differentiation, otherwise, the use of the word “normative” in this context would have no meaning.

    Since my argument is, in fact, less ambitious than you seem to have understood it to be; I want to affirm, right from the start, my substantial agreement with your following comment:

    Even if you were right here [regarding my “quasi-transcendental” argument], we’d need to know if it was in fact true. In which case, sans Plato, you need more than just a “likely story.” You need a historical revelation and all of the other entailed historical entities to along with it.

    I will explain why I largely agree with that statement, but also why I have refused to go down the road of historical dispute with you in my post responding to your objections. However, I say only “substantial” agreement, because it is not the case that you can demonstratively prove that either the RCC or EO possess an instrument capable of making infallible definitive doctrinal statements because such a capability entails a supernatural quality or charism which no amount of historical data can ever “prove”. One must, at some point, move from evidential probability to an “assent of faith”; otherwise one’s entire Christian existence is built only upon scholarly probabilities and not a supernatural/theological gift or virtue. Most importantly, from my POV, and in light of the overall discussion we have been having, is your following affirmation:

    I also reject the two alternatives that you proffer (no disputes arise or we shouldn’t be concerned with them. I think such disputes have arisen and need to look and see how they have been answered.

    I am glad you agree that theological disputes exist, and that they are of a nature important enough to require some response. If you did not believe this, I think we would have little to talk about. Finally, the following posts will be long, which I suppose is unavoidable, given the range of arguments and responses entailed in our prior posts. This will be my last opportunity to respond for a while given family responsibilities (5 kidos – so little time) and the demands of graduate studies which start-up next week. Accordingly, I will have to let you have the last word (quite reluctantly I might add :>). God bless you and yours! Here is the argument again first.

    1.)Human reason can “truly” know many “real” things progressively and with greater of lesser degrees of comprehension and certainty; however, there are limits to the intellect’s capacity for knowing both with regard to comprehension and certainty. As much is implied in nearly any form of “realist” epistemology whether strong or moderate. I am, in fact, a moderate realist of the Aristotelian sort regarding fundamental epistemology as well as “theory of knowledge”. In this regard, I am no skeptic – Kantian or otherwise.

    2.)Pace Aquinas; a general survey of philosophical history; as well as a survey of the modern Anglo-American analytical climate; the question of human destiny or mankind’s “final end” is precisely a question that exceeds the intellect’s capacity both in terms of comprehension and certainty. It is here that I confess skepticism, embracing Aristotle’s basic notion [paraphrased] that we know much and with greater certainty about many common and mundane things; but know little, and with far less certainty, those things relating to questions which we most desire to know.

    3.)Human beings very much desire to possess an answer to the question of human destiny. The history of both philosophy and religion bears this out, and I take this claim to be relatively uncontroversial.

    4.)On the side of Divine intention, Pace Aquinas, the inability of the natural reason to comprehend human destiny and the difficulty of philosophical speculation constitute the very impetus for “divine revelation”. God has placed limits on intellectual knowledge in this world. Thus, knowledge of salvation (what human destiny is and how it may be achieved), comes through “faith” in God Who “reveals” such crucial information. Revelation comes to the rescue – by design – just where reason flounders. Just so, “divine revelation” is specifically aimed at answering the question of human destiny. As such, revelation has no need to address a myriad of scientific or practical considerations which it leaves to the competency of reason. In this way revelation/theology affirm the proper sphere of reason/philosophy. The only objects of knowledge wherein God “reveals” truths which might potentially be known via natural reason are those naturally knowable truths necessary for understanding human destiny (such as God’s existence); wherein lack of practical competency prevents many/most persons from gaining reliable access to such crucial truths. The remainder of “revealed” truths (such as Trinitarian or Christological dogmas) are, in principle, unknowable by natural reason since they cannot be rationally demonstrated or deduced from natural effects. This would also include ANY kind of supernatural charism or authority posited to inhere in any ecclesial body or individual.

    5.)On the side of human intention, the nexus between 2 and 3 (the inability to comprehend knowledge of human destiny, while still possessing a strong desire to achieve such knowledge, creates the existential tension which naturally leads a person to consider the claims of 4 (that some “divine” revelation has been given to bridge the gap between the limitations of natural reason and the existential drive to answer the question of human destiny).

    6.)Since many of the truths proposed by “divine revelation” are strictly beyond reason (Trinity, etc) and those others which reason might in principle know (God’s existence) are “revealed” for the purpose of lifting the truths of these propositions from the obscurity of probability or confusion to the certainty of faith; AND since the very reason that human beings are first led to consider the claims of any “divine revelation” derive from an underlying uncertainty with regard to questions of human destiny, it follows that the first consideration for human beings when assessing any “revelatory” claim is the authority upon which the claim rests.

    7.)If the revelatory propositions offered were only given on human authority (which in turn rests upon the inherent limitations of the intellect) there would be no reason to pay such “revelation” any attention in the first place because it would in principle possess no means by which to answer to the question of human destiny any better than the myriad speculative, contradictory, competing, fallible answers proposed to this question by human beings throughout history. Thus, intrinsic to the very notion of “divine” revelation is the understanding that any communicable content revealed (whatever that may be) must be presented as distinct from, and more certain than, mere human opinion. Should it not inherently entail this crucial distinction; “divine” revelation would simply present nothing worthy of human interest. [It is for this reason that the terms ‘fallible” and “infallible” play such a prominent role in intra-Christian “authority” disputes].

    8.)Given 6 an 7, any proposed communicable content said to represent a “divine revelation” must be proposed by an “authority” capable of answering to the question of human destiny with a certainty greater than that attainable through fallible natural reason (read “human opinion). That authority, for Christians, is God. Hence the crucial importance of the term “divine” in “divine revelation”. The ultimate acceptance or rejection of the communicable content will be based upon the individual’s assent (or lack of assent) to the “authority claim” of God, the revelatory communicator; NOT upon the demonstrability, or even the reasonability, of the communicable content itself. Once the divine “authority claim” is embraced, then WHATEVER that Authority (God) says with regard to the revelatory content must be accepted as true – that is the very nature of “faith” or the “assent of faith”.

    9.)But how does God speak or “reveal” to us? God could override human nature (which He designed) by infusing direct knowledge of revealed truths within the human intellect along with an attendant sense of certainty that these newly arrived propositions were in fact “true”. Yet, God does not generally “override” human nature. Accordingly, in order to “reveal” a “divine” communication, God condescends to our faculties of intellect and will by communicating with us in a way consonant with human nature. Thus, he uses some instrumentality within the created order to draw our attention to the locus and explication of the content of divine revelation.

    10.)Given 8 and 9, If human beings are to recognize and receive a communication from God answering to the question of human destiny; God must employ some instrumentality within the created order such that the human being looking into the claims of such a “divine” communication can recognize that instrument as the very “voice of God”; Who alone has the knowledge and authority necessary to answer the question of human destiny with something better than human opinion – namely, divine knowledge. Another way to say this is that the instrument must be humanly recognizable as, at least theoretically, possessing the divine authority by which to differentiate between the content of divine revelation and mere human opinion.

    11.)Not only must the instrument of God’s revelatory communication be humanly recognizable as possessing the divine authority by which to differentiate between the content of divine revelation and human philosophical or common opinion. Such instrument must be able to differentiate between the content of divine revelation and theological opinion as well. Why? Because all Christian communions insist that God’s revelatory communication was “deposited” in time within human history by the end of the apostolic age, yielding the notion of the “deposit of faith”. Every moment that has passed since the historical finalization of said deposit, opens up a wider temporal gap between the original revelatory events and the living human person seeking access to the revealed content during his own historical moment. That ever widening gap constitutes the space in which historically alternative and contrary assertions regarding both the locus and explication of the “deposit of faith” take place. Such alternative assertions have abounded and do abound. Thus, if the actual “de fide” – God-intended – content of divine revelation is to be distinguished from mere human theological opinion through the course of time after the end of the apostolic age; God must employ a historically ongoing instrumentality recognizable as possessing the very authority of God by which to differentiate between the “de fide” content of the deposit of faith” and mere human theological opinions. Otherwise, the highly sought after “divine” answer to the question of human destiny, even if it were “deposited” at one moment in history, would become shrouded in a fog of historically variant human interpretations; none of which might be recognizable as identical to the meaning God intended to communicate originally. A strictly historical / textual notion of the locus of divine revelation, bereft of an existentially present divine authority capable of rendering a “normative” interpretation of such textual sources during the course of ongoing history, would leave any theoretical divine “deposit” useless in light of the very reason for which one might consider the claims of “divine” revelation in the first place – namely, to overcome the skeptical uncertainty surrounding the question of human destiny enjoined by the limits of natural reason and variant human opinions. Why? Because under such a condition there would be no way to “get at” the “de fide” meaning of the textual sources through any vehicle other than fallible human theological opinion – even fallible clerical opinion.

    12.)So far as I can discover, the only instrument generally recognized by the various EO communions by which the “de fide” content of divine revelation can be differentiated from human theological opinion in an infallible/normative way, is an ecumenical council – not general synods of bishops, and certainly not any individual bishop, patriarch, etc. Some within the various EO communities maintain in theory that the sole authoritative instrument for distinguishing between the “de fide” content of revelation and human opinion when faced with variant theological interpretations of, or external challenges to, “the deposit of faith” – namely, an ecumenical council – might be convened and recognized at any time. However, it seems to me that EO communities, in practice, do NOT possess a means by which to actualize such an instrument, precisely because EO communities possess no means by which any potential council of bishops might be recognized as “ecumenical”.

    I argue that the primary reason EO communities no longer hold “ecumenical” councils is because no person or group can “authoritatively” say what makes an ecumenical council “ecumenical”; and this, in turn, is because no person or group can authoritatively say who exactly is “Orthodox”, or what is “Orthodoxy”, or most precisely, what is “the Orthodox Church” for purposes of convening and recognizing a council as “ecumenical;”. This situation entails that, despite the theoretical claim to the contrary; there is currently no instrumental authority, in practice which can differentiate between “orthodox” and “heterodox” doctrine among modern day EO communities. The functional result of this situation is that access to the normative “de fide” explication of the content of divine revelation is restricted to a fallible interpretive grasp of textual reference points such as the canons and decrees of ecumenical councils or other specific synodal or patristic documents originating 800 or more years in the past.

    The historical gap between these last normative interpretation(s) of the “de fide” content of revelation and the present historical moment; has created a temporal space in which variant theological interpretations have grown up within EO communities, and even among various EO bishops and hierarchs – none of which claim the ability to speak with “divine” authority to such theological disputes. Barring a practical means by which to actualize, now or in the future, a divine instrumentality (ecumenical council) capable of authoritatively/normatively clarifying interpretations which are “orthodox” over against those which are “heterodox”; the person inquiring into the claims of “divine revelation” on an EO construal is once again faced with a perpetual fog of undifferentiated variant interpretations which undermine the very purpose of engaging in any revelatory inquiry to begin with. Given that the very first item of concern when assessing any “divine” revelatory claim is establishing the authority of the source making the claim (6 above), and given that such a source must not simply be God, but the instrument through which God speaks (9 above): there seems no concrete authoritative object at which to direct any “assent of faith” given the current EO construal. This is problematic given the nature of the ”assent of faith”. One does not direct an “assent of faith” at revelatory content; but rather at the authoritative divine instrument which proposes such content. It is the very fact that “divine authority” can never be rationally demonstrated that entails that one MUST – at some point – direct an “assent of faith” at some specific created instrumentality claiming to possess “divine authority” – regardless of how much supportive evidence, historical or otherwise, one has compiled to lend credibility to the claim. But what is to be gained, given the reasons for exploring any claim of “divine revelation” to begin with, from researching history for “motives of credibility” relating to a theoretical normative instrument which seems incapable of present-day actualization (for the identification reasons I have given), and has not, in fact, been actualized for roughly 800 years?

    13.)The Catholic proposal with regard to divine instrumental authority – which I laid out in my previous post – does posit a clear means by which that authority (Extraordinary Magisterium) might be actualized; and, in fact, it has been actualized in the recent past. Though, of course, it is not actualized at every moment. The Catholic Magisterium composed of bishops in communion with the pope is a recognizable instrumental authority which, if its claims are true entails the capability to differentiate between the “de fide” content of the “deposit of faith” and mere human theological opinion. This in principle capability to distinguish between the “de fide” content of revelation and human theological opinion serves as a focal point for all Catholics including bishops. It is true that Catholics, including bishops, subjectively retain their current understanding of the content of divine revelation with greater or lesser degrees of comprehension. Catholics also admit variations in individual interpretation of the relevant sources (ecumenical councils, ex cathedra definitions, encyclicals, etc) due to both the subjective nature of interpretation itself, as well as the variant levels of authority understood to be attached to such sources.

    All such subjectivity with respect to an individual understanding of the content of divine revelation is grounded in the fact that human knowledge and clarity, even theological knowledge and clarity, is gained progressively, over time, by both individuals and the Church as a whole. The EO construal also entails as much, as has been pointed out. What is different, however, within the Catholic proposal, is that these individual’s subjective grasp of the content of divine revelation is held as revisable by or with reference to a recognized, identifiable, infallible teaching authority – the Catholic Extraordinary Magisterium. This disposition or orientation to such an infallible instrument is crucial, as it amounts to an “assent of faith” in a dynamic God-authorized ongoing instrument. The very act of such an “assent” tends toward the unity of the Church because persons direct their “assent” (or should, barring poor catechesis) at the same identifiable locus of final authority in the Church.

    Likewise, such orientation explicitly acknowledges that same instrument’s ability to resolve disputes and divisions within the Church should they rise to a level requiring pastoral intervention. Hence, it seems to me that the Catholic construal proposes just the sort of divinely authorized instrumental authority that someone investigating the claims of divine revelation would be looking for as a theoretical, in principle, mechanism by which the “de fide” content of such a revelation might be distinguished from mere human opinion. An instrumentality which, if its claims are true, might resolve the overall existential problem, which was to gain access to an answer to the question of human destiny on an authority basis superior to mere human opinion – even theological opinion. This instrumentality does not solve the overall “existential problem” by some strange perpetual “actualization” and infusion of a constant stream of divine interpretive content from the Extraordinary Magisterium into the mind of individual Catholics. Rather, the existence of the Extraordinary Magisterium as a necessary constituent aspect of the Catholic Church supplies the ongoing instrumental “object of faith” which, when “assented to”, entails a submission of mind and will that establishes a communal relationship between the individual and the Church. A relationship that establishes a dynamic context or communion with definite parameters in terms of both visible fellowship and common doctrine.

    This is what is embodied by the notion of one’s being “in communion with Rome”. By “faith”, one remains “oriented toward” an identifiable, authoritative center in terms of both praxis and doctrine, since all of one’s external religious activities, as well as internal theological notions, are carried out or embraced “as subject to” the Church. The term “Church”, in turn, has a very definite and identifiable locus of authority – namely, the Extraordinary Magisterium. That Catholic “orientation” of faith, by remaining in place existentially during the years between specific acts of the Extraordinary Magisterium itself; enables a substantial trans-historical cohesion of the Catholic Church in both doctrine and praxis until circumstances arise which call for explicit Magisterial acts to address external or internal threats to said cohesion. When such “acts” do occur, they benefit the People of God by clarifying theological confusions and/or eliminating specific notions as being compatible with a Catholic understanding of the content of divine revelation. Thus, the “deposit of faith” may take on an increasingly clearer aspect with each successive historical act of the Extraordinary Magisterium. In this way, the so-called “Petrine ministry” serves as a substantial, working, center of gravity which cannot be dismissed simply by stating the obvious fact that neither an “ex cathedra” nor approved “counciliar” definition is continually streaming forth from Rome. Thus, the Catholic construal, in virtue of the continual co-existence of the Extraordinary Magisterium traveling alongside the faithful down the path of history, presents the revelatory inquirer with an appropriate object at which to direct an “assent of faith” in his or her historical moment and simultaneously brings him or her into a dynamic relationship, via that assent, with the Magisterium and, hence, the Church itself.

    14.)I note that this entire argument derives simply from a close look at the relation between reason, revelation and the “assent of faith”, with special attention paid to the overarching reason why someone might have any interest in “revelatory” claims in the first place. I have made an argument that given the nature of and nexus between reason, revelation and “faith”; there is a crucial and clarifying consideration to take into account prior to exploring scriptural, historical, theological or other data which might lend probabilistic credence to any particular revelatory claim or authoritative claimant. Specifically, given the very notion that revelation is “divine”, not “human”; the instrument by which such revelation is said to make its way to the human knower must – as proposed by the claimant – entail some identifiable mechanism by which the content “revealed” can be recognized as “divine” rather than human.

    If EO communities construe the instrumental agency by which revelation is interpreted in such a way that no “orthodox / “heterodox” distinction can, practically speaking, be achieved now or in the future; I see no reason, given the very problem which “divine revelation” is billed to resolve, why someone investigating such a claim would embrace such a construal over against one that DOES enable an “orthodox/heterodox” distinction – especially given complex, erudite, scholarly, evidential accounts for both positions drawn from an identical historical data set. The EO construal, without a way to actualize/recognize an ecumenical council; cannot, even in principle, be taken as an “object of faith”, given what an “assent of faith” must be directed at to be an “assent of faith”. For this reason, it seems to me that the Catholic and EO “normative adjudication proposals” are simply NOT on the same epistemic playing field when one considers the broader notion of “divine” revelation. The catholic proposal points and orients one to an identifiable, dynamic, present-day instrument of infallibility – the Extraordinary Magisterium – at which one might potentially direct an “assent of faith”. The EO proposal currently (and I think going forward in light of the problem of determining what makes a council “ecumenical”) seems to have no practical means by which to actualize any present day instrument of infallibility, and so points and orients the inquirer to persons within the EO communions (none of which make a claim of infallibility), who in turn explicate what they take to be “orthodox” doctrine via an interpretation of ancient counciliar source material.

    This does not seem to entail two equivalent proposals, both of which posses an equally practicable means for distinguishing between the “de fide” content of revelation and human theological opinion. Does this somehow, in an a priori way, prove that therefore the Catholic proposal is true? Of course not. Simply proposing an authoritative instrument which, in fact, meets the fundamental demands of the original investigative project does not prove its truth. One will certainly want to inquire into history, etc. to see if there are any credible grounds for thinking that the proposed instrument possesses the authority it claims. But as I say, such a “search for credibility”, though important as an avoidance of pure fideism; can never be conclusive or compelling for an “assent of faith” due to the nature of the thing whose credibility is being considered – namely, the inherence of supernatural qualia in some proposed instrumental object of divine revelation. By possessing a reasonable, credible, historical hagiographic account of the Catholic claim on the one hand; and faced with the concrete claim to possession of divine authority by the present day Catholic Magisterium on the other: a person is in a position to make a reasonable “assent of faith” in the supernatural claim itself which splits the twin errors of rationalism and fideism. Of course, EO proponents might mount a serious, scholarly argument against the Catholic hagiographic sketch.

    However, even if they were to present a historical account of the data which seemed more “likely”, “reasonable”, or “probable” that the Catholic account; the alternative for the person looking into the claims of any “divine revelation” would not be between the Catholic authority claim and the EO authority claim (as it now stands) as if they both presented an equally viable object for the “assent of faith”. No, so far as any “assent of faith” is concerned, the alternative (given an intellectual acceptance of the EO historical account and given the apparent inability to actualize/recognize an ecumenical council now or for the foreseeable future); is between an “assent” directed at the Catholic Magisterium, or no “assent” at all – which amounts to a rejection of the claims of “divine revelation” generally – at least within in a Christian context.

    Responses to many of your objections in next post below

  183. Responses to Perry:

    Relating to argument section 12

    To speak of “so-called” Orthodoxy is a bit insulting

    You complained several times in your last post that I wrote in an “insulting” or “uncharitable” way. As I said earlier, I did not intend to insult or be uncharitable. As a Catholic and in light of Vatican II, I recognize you as my brother in Christ, and as such I am to prefer your good over my own. However, I assume when interacting with educated folks that individuals can speak frankly without having to tip-toe around each other. I don’t think the term “catholischism” is at all equivalent to my use of “something called “Orthodoxy”, because I really, truly, do not know what “Orthodoxy” is – with specific reference to the problem of adjudicating theological disputes. But even if you did use that term, I would laugh (its clever) – not complain about insults etc. I said what I said for a very good reason, not to poke a jab at you. I don’t quite understand your complaint in light of your remarks to Diane: “I expect mature individuals to be able to take part in a theological conversation and be frank about it. And then go and have a beer. People who find such terms hurtful and take them personally I’d suggest should not take part in such discussions until they can mature to speak frankly and directly about such matters without taking it personally.”

    That is what was necessary to refute your claims. As for the argument, I don’t see a reason why I should have to go full bore and lay it all out for you. If you don’t know the Orthodox position already from study, I am not clear why I need to do your work for you. Besides, I could cite chapter and verse and lay it all out, but what would be the point? It would only invite you to start working on it. I prefer to keep it in my back pocket rather than reveal my hand giving my opponents a heads up. So you mistake strategy with inability.

    I do not see where you have refuted my claims at all. But regardless, this business about keeping it in your back pocket so as not to “invite me to start working on it”: well why are we having a conversation then? This strikes me strange commentary. I am not trying to trap you, just understand your position. I laid out my understanding with reference to the EO position regarding ecumenical councils over on the “tu quoque” thread. I said there, as I have said to you over and over and over again; that THE problem for me is understanding what “the Orthodox Church” is with reference to understanding who is recognized among EO communions as having authority to convene, recognize, and interpret any past or potentially future ecumenical council – since that is put forward as the premier/sole instrument of infallibility. You tell me to “do my own work”. Perry, that’s just the point, it’s impossible for me to go “look it up”. That is why I am asking you in good faith to explain it to me. I spent a year looking for that answer and could not find it. Maybe I did not look hard enough. Would you be so kind as to point me to some primary sources (since I am sure I have only read the non-authoritative fluffy popular works) where I can find that answer? I’ll be happy to read them. BTW, I’ve never questioned you intellectual “ability”; I just never knew you were engaged in some kind of “strategy” when conducting blog discussions – oh well – I am warned.

    You write that you’d like to understand the Orthodox view, I don’t think this is so. I think you wish to press me here. But until you give an argument that in fact represents the Orthodox position, I see no need to address your assertions. If you don’t know the Orthodox position (since you wish to know it) then you are inconsistent with your other post since you took yourself to be representing the Orthodox position

    Well, I can’t help what you think. I can’t “give an argument” for the reason I just gave you – namely that I don’t know what THE “Orthodox” position is. My “other post”, as I explained above, simply describes the authoritative instrument (Ecumenical Council) that I understand to be proposed by the various autocephalus and autonomous EO communions. I then go on to ask the question which I take to be EO’s central difficulty: “Who represents the “Orthodox” position or “the Orthodox Church” with reference to all aspects of Ecumenical Councils” from recognition to interpretation? Of course, I wish to “press you” – why else am I conversing with you?

    It is something can be enacted but doesn’t have to be present in act for the Orthodox position to address your concerns.

    It does not have to be “present in act”, but there needs to be a practical way to actualize it. Otherwise, what “looks” like an authoritative instrument capable of normative theological adjudication remains only a theory. I maintain that there is no practical way to actualize this potential instrument because there is no way to identify “who counts” as Orthodox or “the Orthodox Church” for recognizing the ecumenicity of a council.

    Historically there has been a tiered approach as witnessed by many of the Fathers and councils. Councils being the highest authority and then from there down patriarchial ratification form all of the major apostolic sees

    Well that is your interpretation of historical data. But even if true, since the “highest” tier is a council (I assume you mean ecumenical), and the rest of the “tiered” approach works off the council, the only way this “historical” methodology would serve as a plausible “current” methodology for adjudication purposes would be if the “highest” component thereof could be actually be activated.

    If the deposit is in all the bishops, it seems sufficient for all of said bishops in communion with one another to maintain that apostolic deposit

    No it is not sufficient. Who determines who is in communion with who? What is the basis of “communion”? Common faith? Well what if bishops disagree, which they have and on crucial issues. These are the exact problem areas that make the plausibility of a current or future ecumenical council being convened or recognized so difficult to believe. As Mike Liccione said to MG, it seems like something close to an RCC conception of the hierarchical authority would be needed to resolve this problem. I fail to see the power of some EO notion of “plurality” to resolve this problem.

    Further, orders are Triadic or Trinitarian. The bishop represents the Father, the presbyters the Son and the deacons the Spirit. There is no fourth category in the Trinity and so no fourth chrism over and above that of the episcopate. Eccesiology is Triadology.

    This is just speculative theological opinion until ratified by an infallible authority – which is what we are discussing – right? I could say just as easily that the Trinity is 3 in 1, thus entailing plurality-within-unity such as the RCC understanding of the bishops in communion with the pope. You are leaving out the “oneness” of the Trinity in your ecclesial construction I could say. I don’t put any weight on such theories as they are no good for resolving the current problem since they already assume some notion of ecclesial “authority”, which is the point at issue.

    I don’t analyze the text to find out if such and so is heretical or not. I take the church’s judgment to normatively judge to do that. So I simply deny that I am doing what you claim that I am doing. Again, you’ve misrepresented my position. So I never argued on the principled basis of the right of private judgment

    I never said you argued on the “principled basis” of a right to private judgment. I said, rather, that your methodology amounts to private judgment, even though you eschew the tag. When you say: “I take the church’s judgment to normatively judge . .” I again must ask who or what do you take to be “the church”. Until you answer that, I am going to continue to say that, in practice, your approach to the “de fide” content of revelation via a fallible interpretation of the same, amounts to private judgment. Asked another way, “who among the living could even potentially correct you regarding your theological notions in such a way that you would take their correction as supernaturally binding?”. Unless you can point to some authority that might – even in principle – correct or affirm your current theological notions, the “theory” that there might be some way, some day, to hold an “ecumenical” council looks suspiciously like cover for unchecked theological private judgment. If some council of EO bishops in 2010 were to come up with a decree which anathematized your current interpretation of ADS/ES or the “filioque” because that interpretation fails to recognize the compatibility of the Eastern and Western conceptions of the same; what criteria would you accept as sufficient to show that such a council was “ecumenical” and therefore binding? Could you not just say that such bishops have abandoned the “true” faith and are therefore not “Orthodox”, at least not in the way that counts for establishing a council as ecumenical? I have read letters by EO bishops to other hierarchs which express just this conundrum – especially as regards any work coming out of joint EO/RCC theological commissions. How will – who will – make any bishop or set of bishops (much less the EO faithful) recognize any solutions drawn up by such efforts?

    First because at the time of their judgments, the councils were quite dynamic and personal. And the bishops who are successors of those bishops seem to keep teaching about them and from them.

    Yes they were personal and dynamic 800 years ago. The bishops who teach now, unless I am mistaken, explicitly deny that they teach infallibly. Thus, if there is no practical way to convene the infallible instrument (EC), then the practical result is that “divine revelation” remains embedded in text sources, with only ‘fallible” interpretive agents available to extract it.

    Why one authority and not many or does the one subordinate the many? Is simplicity superior to plurality? Here is where the rubber meets the road and it becomes clear how the mistaken view of simplicity motivates the arguments for the papacy. Simplicity isn’t superior to and doesn’t subordinate plurality. Not in the Trinity and not in the Church either.

    Again, this seems like esoteric theological or metaphysical speculation. I could say the Trinity is three, but also one. Christ is “head” of the Church – though He is servant of all, He is also king. What does this sort of commentary have to do with the point at issue? Surely no one places an intrinsic value on the plurality of opinions with regard to what is an what is not “orthodox” doctrine. We kinda need “simplicity”, if by that you mean “singularity” in order to have A “divine revelation” and not 4 or 20 or 20,000 theological constructs all claiming “divine” authorization.

    Relating to argument section 13

    If the views of all of the bishops are revisable in reference to the pope as you lay out, it seems that everyone else’s conscience can be bound, except the Pope’s

    That’s right in a sense. But imagine complaining in the same way with regard to Christ – you would never do that. But IF Christ did give a divine authority grant to St. Peter and his successors (which I make no claim to proving), this sort of complaint simply pushes up against a wall. The buck does have to stop somewhere it seems to me. I just do not see where that “somewhere” is in EO.

    Practically, you write that bishops out of line with Rome will either face correction or will face excommunication. But this is not so. Plenty of bishops, not to mention priests openly hold dissenting views and practices and are never brought to account

    My argument does not depend on the pastoral timeliness of papal actions. My argument rests on their “capacity” to maintain unity among the Magisterium. Rome has done so on many occasions even if you (and perhaps I) do not think that it has happened often or fast enough.

    Your objection turns then on the conflation of potency and act. As possessing the power in potency the episcopate isn’t bereft of teaching authority with respect to the teaching of the councils. On their own they may not be ultimately normative, but neither are Catholic priests and bishops which you have to consult to ascertain correctly the right understanding of Catholic texts. If this were a problem for my position, it would be a problem for yours. But you think it isn’t a problem for your position and so it isn’t a problem for mine. Hence your objection that my authority is merely textual and non-dynamic is a bad argument.

    It is a problem for you, because it’s not just that your vision of an authoritative instrument is held in potency. My argument is that the inability to determine who counts as “the Orthodox Church” means that your theoretical instrument is in perpetual potency. The EO episcopate does seem to be bereft on just this account. Moreover, my argument turns on the question of an appropriate object of faith – an object having the “in principle” ability to differentiate between divine and human opinion so as to support the very notion of divine revelation. The “orientation” of faith toward the Magisterium makes a huge difference in my estimation with regard to both the unity of the Church and the unity of doctrine. Ask Hans Kung, Edward Schillebeeckx or bishop Lefebvre.

    All Orthodox to my knowledge hold that an ecumenical council is sufficient to adjudicate matters in an ultimately normative way and it is not relevant if there is not a sitting council now anymore than it is relevant that the pope doesn’t speak authoritatively on every occasion he speaks

    That’s my understanding too, but I simply disagree with you about the relevance thing. I think it is very relevant if no ecumenical council can “sit” anymore at all. That’s the problem. It means the EO have, for all practical purposes, no way to defend the faith against internal or external attack going forward because there is no way to call or recognize an ecumenical council which might possibly determine what “the faith” is in response to such challenges. The popes have been warring with the intellectual trends of modernity for over 100 years now – granted, not via Extraordinary Magisterial definitions – BUT, the ground work is laid for such action should previous encyclicals, etc. be insufficient to quiet dissent among clergy and the faithful. The council of Trent seems to have been a pretty rapid response to a very serious challenge to the central content of the “deposit of faith”. I have 5 children. In my view, the potential for the Catholic EM to address ongoing crisis within the Church in an authoritative and infallible fashion is not irrelevant. The “assent of faith” creates the communal relationship which enables the Church (including my children, grandchildren an so on) to retain substantial doctrinal and ecclesial unity century after century. This is what being “in communion with Rome” means. It is the principle benefit engendered by the notion of the “Petrine ministry”. But if there is not even, in principle, a constituent part of the Church with the ongoing capacity to speak with divine authority, then the “assent of faith” can only be directed at interpretations of past textual sources. One’s faith is not held as “subject to” anyone in reality. Anyone and everyone can claim that his or her (or his or her bishop’s/patriarch’s) interpretation of counciliar data is the “orthodox” interpretation.

    Relating to argument section 14

    I keep asking these questions because I never seem to get an answer or a very clear one

    I keep ignoring your insistence that we duke it out over church history because my argument specifically is that there is serious spade work to be done BEFORE seeking motives of credibility among the historical data set. Not to mention, as Mike Liccione pointed out to you, such debates have been going on for centuries, between scholars on both sides (none of which I would say are irrational in their arguments) with credentials better than you or I have (at least higher than I have). My argument, like Mike’s, essentially posits greater “perspicuity” for the Catholic authority claim. I say the two “authority proposals” can be seen as non-equivalent, prior to doing the historical research, so that there is an antecedent reason for choosing one set of scholarly arguments about the historical data over the other when gathering evidence leading to a reasonable “act of faith”. I insist, however, that even the evidential credibility cannot compel an “act of faith” both because of the nature of the “object of faith” and because an embrace of the authority claim of either the RCC or EO based on scholarly research alone would not actually be “an act of faith”.

    You are right that you’ve not appealed to historical data, which at best makes your account consistent or maybe even coherent, but that doesn’t show that it is true and that is what you need to show.

    That is correct. My argument is meant to show that the Catholic proposal is the only one on the market that can, even in theory, serve up divine revelation to modernity in a way which respects the very idea of “divine” revelation in the first place as an anecdote to skepticism regarding questions of human destiny. I have NOT argued that, THAT insight alone entails Catholicism’s truth. But remember, that even at the end of a long search for motives of credibility for either position (RCC or EO), in the end the truth of the Catholic or the EO claim will fall to an “assent of faith”, NOT a rational demonstration. My position is that the EO claim, as currently construed, does not even – in principle – present to the revelatory inquirer a valid “object of faith”. Hence, rejection of the RCC claim does not default in an embrace of the EO claim. Rather, rejection of the RCC claim results in a return to skepticism or else an investigation into some non-Christian revelatory claim.

    Further, the quasi-transcendental argument you put forward is claimed by you to rely on no historical data. But this is not the case. What you present is refined material from historical data, Matt 16:18, being not the least of which. Its form gives the reader the false impression that one can evaluate the “system” or “mechanics” without finding out historically if it is true or not. Such is not the case. You’ve simply extracted the mechanics of the model from the historical data and presented the abstraction as if that were sufficient to prove your point.

    The argument is not “quasi-transcendental” because I am not arguing as you seem to keep suggesting that my argument PROVES Catholicism’s claims are true. It only shows that the Catholic claims, unlike the EO, might potentially, IF TRUE, yield the goods which divine revelation – by definition – seems to promise. I don’t know what you mean by “refined material”. One CAN evaluate the “system” or “mechanics”, not in reference to their truth, but in reference to their theoretical or “in principle” ability to solve a problem posed. This kind of argument goes on all the time and there is nothing “transcendental” about it. It is a way of logically weeding out contending “truth claims” based on a criteria, which criteria I have laid out in my first 11 points.

    Second to find out if the Catholic position is true, every one must more or less do the same, as Bryan Cross writes in the “Tu Quo Que” piece

    Yes, eventually one must do the historical research to ensure that there are credible motives for accepting the claims of some concrete instrument as possessing divine authority. But I am adding to Bryan’s argument an insight that can be gained from considering the relationship between reason and revelation BEFORE taking that step. I think the exchanges within the “tu quoque” thread missed this point, or at least failed to draw it out explicitly. That insight is that WHATEVER authority claim is ultimately embraced (if one is embraced at all) must be able to preserve “divine revelation” AS “divine revelation” in the giving. That insight, if pursued, enables one to recognize an antecedent reason for preferring the Catholic claim, should there be plausible historical arguments supporting both the RCC and EO (much less Protestant) interpretation of the historical data. One may, of course, still conclude that the Catholic claim is not worthy of belief upon searching the historical record and choose, therefore, not to make an “assent of faith”.

    That will have to do for now given my time constraints, though I know you had many other objections worthy of response. Perhaps others can reply to some of those.

    Pax et Bonum,

    Ray

  184. Using “Orthodox” in scare quotes is not what the Catholic Catechism does.

  185. J. Andrew Deane,

    That is true, but it seems to me that the discussion within the CCC is very different from the specific point at issue in my posts above, which is essentially the feasbility of a collegial only, over against a collegial+papal vision of ecclesiology from the specific standpoint of each respective vision’s notion of how the content of divine revelation might be differentiated from human opinion. In that kind of discussion, when one takes up the idea of collegiality only, as a working adjuicative hypothesis, then a specific determination of the terms “Orthodox”, “Orthodoxy”, or “the Orthodox Church” beyond their common and accepted general designation becomes crucial since the collegial theory simply must have a means by which to establish who or what counts with reference to binding collegial action – namely, an ecumenical council: if such a council is to be held and its canons and decrees subsequently recognized as binding within EO communities. This is the kind of clarification which will become necessary almost by default as part of any joint RCC/EO effort to address the issue of the Petrine ministry. The CCC has no such end in view. As I said above, my use of the terms was not meant to be pejorative or offensive in the least, I simply maintain that such terms require a definite precision when questions of the theoretical exercise of ecclesial authority are at issue, in exactly the same way the common and useful phrase “Catholic” will require specific precision within such discussions (such as a detailed description of the composition and function of the Ordinary and Extraordinary “Catholic” Magisterium). My sincere apologies if that point was somehow unclear within my posts.

    Pax et Bonum,

    Ray

  186. Re Post 181,

    Perry,

    1) When I say “personal judgment,” I mean acting in an authoritative way. For example, when it comes to determining whether a book of Scripture is inspired, two intelligent men can make contrary arguments for/against it. Ultimately though, an authority needs to step in (or be able to) and settle the issue.

    As for proof of “c” – that some EO rebaptize while others do not – If I remember right, this is the article I read a while back where a RO priest plainly laid out that the EO don’t agree on this issue, quoting various Councils and decrees:
    http://www.holy-trinity.org/ecclesiology/pogodin-reception/reception-ch3.html

    I’ve been too busy to follow this thread in depth, but did you ever give a straight forward answer from an authoritative EO source on the issue of rebaptism such that there can be no disagreement among EO?

    1a) Do you have an authoritative EO source that speaks on the validity of sacraments by laicized/schismatic/heretical priests? IF no, then I’d say that would correspond to the real life discussions I’ve had with EO who give conflicting answers.

    2) Agreed. But in my own research I see a lack of authoritative resources on these topics that settle the issue for all of Orthodoxy.

    3) I think there is a reason the Council singled out the Eunomians on the grounds of “single immersion” baptism, else that details is irrelevant and adds confusion. Further, how can you say that the baptism of the Arians was invalid if they weren’t rebaptized?…and this right in the context of other groups needing to be rebaptized (including the mention of invalid baptism, e.g. single immersion).

    3a) You said: “It is assumed that a lack of rebaptism implies the validity of the baptism in terms of efficacy.”
    Then you’re actually going down a different path. We are discussing the validity of baptism, with efficacy being a second but related issue. The EO cannot agree whether to rebaptize Catholics or not, not whether the Catholic baptism is valid (efficacy aside, but I’d assume no clear answer there either).

    3.b) I don’t think indelibility is a result of Romaphobia, though the contrary answers that I read from EO often is due to being more driven by anti-Catholicism than consulting the evidence. That said, I’ve not done enough personal research to know all the deatails of the valid versus efficacious distinction.

    4.) I linked to an article at the start of this post by a Russian Orthodox priest who was looking at Councils and such and he plainly admits there is no “one answer”. If you can present such an EO document settling the issue, I’m all ears.

    4.a) I don’t like the “confusion due to outside influence” line of arguing, since if one believes the Church is protected by the Holy Spirit, any authoritative decrees are free from error. Also, for the sake of consistency, if a given EO council or decree produced something “wrong” because of outside influences, then the EO still need to rise and condemn the council or decree. I see this very issue with the Council of Dositheos, signed by all Five Patriarchs. Either it’s heresy or it aint; and if it is, stand up and call it heresy.

    4.b) I’ve not heard of Jesuits setting up fake schools, but even if so I don’t buy that it was as tragic as you make it since someone should have been able to easily see though the Latin “errors” these Jesuits were imposing. If what you’re saying actually happened, I’d say the bigger failure was on the RO leadership for failing to see the clear danger. I’ve heard of the EO for a time sending seminarians to Rome, which is a different story, and one which would also leave us to ask what were those EO leaders thinking. If there is the degree of error in Catholic theology that you charge, then the EO leadership did the equivalent of sending a Orthodox seminarian to a Protestant seminary.

    5) I’m presenting my argument as a “deal breaker” since the issues at hand are serious enough to be deal breakers. If there are EO wanting to reunite with Rome, that implies Rome has some truth/validity to reunite to – if on the other hand there are EO who say Rome is beyond lost, then there is nothing to reunite to. To not have a consensus on whether Rome is lost or not is a ‘deal breaker’ in that fundamental and pressing truths cannot be settled. It’s similar to the status of Augustine among the EO – his status ranges from blessed to worse than Arius, depending on which EO crowd you ask…yet when has Orthodoxy came out and said Augustine is the worst heretic in Christian history? That’s an example of “serious issue” that I’m talking about. If someone was that heretical and evil that he turned 75% of Christendom towards hell, then I’d expect the True Church to condemn him left and right.

    6) Catholics of any rank can judge on the private level of whether the seat is vacant or the pope is legit, but not on an authoritative level. In other words, at no time does the Catholic suddenly rise to the level of Pope when making any judgments for the Church. It’s similar to how a layman in an area overrun by Arian bishops could only flee to a neighboring orthodox see, but never could they make themself bishop nor strip their bishop of authority.

  187. K. Doran,

    Thank you for your kind response above (#180).

    I’m not an expert, by any means God knows, in early Christian liturgical practice. Here though is my thinking.

    Yes, there it is no doubt possible to find (possible) differences in practice–the question for me however is did the arise a normative practice? Take example the fluidity in the NT of what today we would call holy orders and church polity. Some Protestant/Evangelical Christians have taken the NT lack of a clear distinction between bishops and presbyters to argue that there isn’t one, normative, ecclesiology.

    So in light of your response, the question I would ask is this: Is baptism/confirmation/communion the historical norm in the West? If it is, the Pius X’s practice is an innovation. I suspect that baptism/confirmation/communion was/is the norm. This is certainly the impression I get reading the CCC.

    But let’s assume that there is no normative practice in the West for the sacraments of initiation. If this is the case then, or so it seems to me, the Church of Rome is as least as liable to the charge of “sacramental ambiguity” on this issue as J Andrew argues the East is on the holy order.

    Well just some thoughts.

    +FrG

  188. Fr. Jensen,

    In its teaching concerning receiving the Eucharist under both species, the Council of Trent stated something quite relevant to your question:

    It [i.e. This Council] declares furthermore, that in the dispensation of the sacraments, salva illorum substantia [saving their substance], the Church may, according to circumstances, times and places, determine or change whatever she may judge most expedient for the benefit of those receiving them or for the veneration of the sacraments; and this power has always been hers. The Apostle seems to have clearly intimated this when he said: Let a man so account of us as of the ministers of Christ, and the dispensers of the mysteries of God; and that he himself exercised this power, as in many other things so in this sacrament, is sufficiently manifest, for after having given some instructions regarding its use, he says: “The rest I will set in order when I come.” Wherefore, though from the beginning of the Christian religion the use of both forms has not been infrequent, yet since that custom has been already very widely changed, holy mother Church, cognizant of her authority in the administration of the sacraments, has, induced by just and weighty reasons, approved this custom of communicating under either species and has decreed that it be considered the law, which may not be repudiated or changed at pleasure without the authority of the Church. (Session XXI, chapter 2)

    This is the authority by which Pope Pius X made the change he did, which change is permissible precisely because it falls under that very same qualification: salva illorum substantia. Without that distinction between what does and what does not ‘save the substance,’ any change whatsoever would be unfaithful, being contrary to the Tradition. But with that distinction, some kinds of change are possible (while remaining orthodox) and at times, are prudential, according to the judgment of the magisterium.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  189. Bryan,

    Thank you for your response. Forgive me if I seem churlish but (1) withholding the chalice from the laity is a deviation from the practice of the first centuries even if it was a Trent a long standing abuse and (2) even assuming for the sake of our discussion that Trent’s argument is legitimate, withholding the chalice and making confirmation/chrismation option for participation in the Eucharist are not the samething.

    What Trent does is change the manner in which Holy Communion is given to the laity; this is most definitely not what Pius X did in Quam Singulari. A would any Orthodox priest, I would agree with Trent that the Church is to be the wise steward of the mysteries of grace and this will at times mean the exercise of economia.

    BUT, to my question again, why is what Pius X not a deviation from the Tradition? More specifically, when did the Latin Church–as a matter of course–admitted baptized Christians to Holy Communion prior to confirmation? This is my question–not infant communion, or communion under both species (or not).

    Forgive me but it seems to me that, absence a clear historical precedent in the first 1,000 years, the current Latin practice of communion before confirmation is an innovation and one instituted by the Pope of Rome.

    Does this make sense?

    In Christ,

    +FrG

  190. As background, the Catholic Catechism agrees with your historical assessment, Father. And in case anyone else is interested, it is true that Eastern Catholic Churches are free to keep the sacraments of initiation together.

    1290 In the first centuries Confirmation generally comprised one single celebration with Baptism, forming with it a “double sacrament,” according to the expression of St. Cyprian. Among other reasons, the multiplication of infant baptisms all through the year, the increase of rural parishes, and the growth of dioceses often prevented the bishop from being present at all baptismal celebrations. In the West the desire to reserve the completion of Baptism to the bishop caused the temporal separation of the two sacraments. The East has kept them united, so that Confirmation is conferred by the priest who baptizes. But he can do so only with the “myron” consecrated by a bishop.

    Notably, while the West normally delays the administration of the sacrament of confirmation, we see this later in the Catholic Catechism.

    1314 If a Christian is in danger of death, any priest can give him Confirmation. Indeed the Church desires that none of her children, even the youngest, should depart this world without having been perfected by the Holy Spirit with the gift of Christ’s fullness.

    Thus, in agreement with Bryan’s basic thesis, I would argue that Catholics must hold that the essence of the sacramental life is not destroyed by this change in praxis. However, I would qualify things by saying that our understanding of infallibility as Catholics is not that things will always be done in the best way. And if in a hypothetical future, by God’s providence, our Bishops sought union with your Bishops, and this reunion included a return to the more ancient practice in all of Catholicism (and not just in rare cases of death and in Eastern Catholic Churches), I would welcome that change without scorn of the past where things were different.

    To deny change is to place ourselves in the shoes of groups like the Old Believers and Old Catholics.

    In XC,
    J. Andrew
    p.s.
    Some have argued that that change might be a good one to happen irrespective of the Eastern practice.
    J.J. Jorgensen, a Melkite Catholic, wrote an article in the Journal Antiphon-the article is entitled “Arguments for Reintegrating the Sacraments of Christian Initiation for Latin-rite Children.”

  191. Dear Father Gregory,

    You said: “Yes, there it is no doubt possible to find (possible) differences in practice–the question for me however is did the arise a normative practice? Take example the fluidity in the NT of what today we would call holy orders and church polity. Some Protestant/Evangelical Christians have taken the NT lack of a clear distinction between bishops and presbyters to argue that there isn’t one, normative, ecclesiology.”

    The Protestants claim this fluidity from weak arguments from silence. This is different from documenting positive evidence for diversity during periods in which the data set from antiquity is rich (i.e. post constantine christianity). The reference I found was in an article that was not designed to defend the current Catholic practice in the order of the sacraments. And yet an arbitrary quotation from the article already offered positive evidence of that diversity. Thus, I am skeptical that the norm of the order of the sacraments was so much of a norm that only really careful work can find exceptions to that rule. I found an exception in a few minutes in an article that wasn’t designed to provide such exceptions.

    There needs to be a way to distinguish norms with legitimate diversity around them from essential rules with illegitimate corruptions around them. I think this is what Bryan was trying to explain when he mentioned “substance.” What methodology do you use to distinguish norms with legitimate diversity around them from essential rules with illegitimate corruptions around them? The methodology that I suspect that the Catholic Church uses to make such distinctions is a fairly refined theology of what constitutes the essential parts of the sacraments, coupled with a well-defined church authority that can make sure that in these essential things we have unity, but in the inessential things we have some liberty. Thus, I am not prepared to say: “since 85% of the time people did the sacraments in this order, anything else is not legitimate diversity but rather all-too-frequent corruption — let’s root it out!!!”

    Sincerely,

    K. Doran

  192. K. Doran,
    The catechism states that the Eastern practice is more ancient.
    Are you contesting the catechism?
    Slightly confused,
    J. Andrew

  193. Fr. Jensen, (re: #190)

    From my point of view, claiming that withholding the chalice from the laity is an “abuse” begs the question, by assuming that there could be no justifying reason for doing so. And that claim has not yet been established, at least not in this conversation (nor in any other, so far as I am aware). But, I agree that this thread is not about the Eucharist per se, and I do not wish to take it in that direction. I didn’t bring up the quotation from Trent in order to talk about withholding the chalice, but to give an example that explains how, from the Catholic point of view, this distinction between what is of the essence of the sacrament, and what is not, allows room for the Magisterium to make certain types of changes to the traditional practice, for prudential reasons, while preserving and not violating the Apostolic deposit.

    I think we (i.e. you and I) agree that the Apostles did not withhold the chalice from the laity. And yet the Catholic Church (as shown at Trent, and earlier) does not believe that withholding the chalice from the laity violates Apostolic Tradition. How can that be? Precisely because of this distinction between what is of the essence of the sacrament (according to the Tradition) and what belonged to the Apostolic practice but not to the essence of the Apostolic deposit as perpetually normative.

    We can bring forward other examples as well. Here’s one example. The Apostles did not eat meat from what had been strangled. (Acts 15) Abstaining from such meat is rightly described as Apostolic practice. And yet that practice of abstaining from meat of that sort does not belong, as perpetually normative, to the Apostolic deposit. What is perpetually normative is what is shown by their decision to promulgate this precept, namely the charity and concern to avoid placing a stumbling block before their brothers, for the sake of the unity of the Church. So the account of what they did, and the principle behind their doing it, belongs to the deposit. But the practice itself (as something perpetually normative) does not.

    So likewise, even if it is true that the Apostles always confirmed/chrismated persons before giving them the Body and Blood of our Lord, that does not entail that this practice is itself part of the Apostolic deposit as something perpetually normative, i.e. that one of the truths of the Apostolic deposit is that confirmation/chrismation must always precede reception of the Eucharist. The Catholic Church could (in principle) acknowledge that in the time of the Apostles confirmation/chrismation always preceded reception of the Eucharist (if in fact confirmation/christmation did always precede reception of the Eucharist), without thereby being required to believe that part of the Apostolic deposit is that only those who have been confirmed/chrismated can receive the Eucharist.

    So when speaking of a “deviation from the Tradition” or of “innovation,” it is essential to distinguish between deviating from the substance of the Tradition and thus from that which is perpetually normative, and deviating from that which belongs to the Tradition but not to its substance as perpetually normative. Deviations and innovations at the level of the essence of the Tradition would be heretical. But deviations and innovations at the level of that which is not of the essence of the Tradition are not heretical. They may be prudent, or imprudent, depending on the circumstances and consequences, but they are not heretical. From the Catholic point of view, the Magisterium has the authority to make those sorts of changes (i.e. at the level of what does not belong to the essence of the Tradition), but the Magisterium does not have the authority to change that which belongs to the essence of the Apostolic deposit. However, without recognizing the distinction between that which belongs to the essence as perpetually normative, and that which was Apostolic practice but does not belong to the essence of the Apostolic deposit as perpetually normative, it would be very difficult to understand how the Catholic Church could justifiably engage in the “deviation” and “innovation” of which you speak.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  194. Hey J. Andrew,

    You said: “K. Doran,
    The catechism states that the Eastern practice is more ancient.
    Are you contesting the catechism?
    Slightly confused,
    J. Andrew”

    No, I’m contesting those who say: “Pius X introduced a new practice by admitting children [or people more generally] to holy communion before confirmation.” Typically, when Catholics and Orthodox discuss contentious issues, the standard they apply is to look at what was done without tension or breaking of communion in the first millennium while the churches were frequently in communion. We could, of course, apply a stricter standard, and declare anything a corruption that does not literally recreate the practices of the church as recorded in our earliest surviving documents. But by this standard, any church today, including the modern orthodox, does not look good. And in any case, what would be the theological reason for applying such a standard?

    The upshot is, people who think this is a corruption have to do more than say that our earliest documents contain a different ordering of the sacraments. And they have to do more than say that the majority of Christians did it a different way in the first millennium. Understanding whether a practice is a legitimate development or a corruption requires a fresh look at scripture, a careful understanding not only of the norms of tradition but of the diversity of that tradition, and a firm adherence to the legitimate magisterium of the Church. Saying “this is what most people did in the first millennium, or in our earliest documents,” just doesn’t cut it.

    Sincerely,

    K. Doran

  195. Fr. Jensen (#178):

    I don’t understand why the Catholic Church has the authority to change the established sacramental practice of initiation but doesn’t have the authority to change the the tradition and ordain women to the priesthood. What I’m looking for here is the rationale for the deviation in the order of the sacraments of initiation

    As Bryan and K Doran have suggested, the question really is who has the authority to distinguish between what is essential to the sacraments and what is not. What is essential may not be changed, and indeed cannot be without invalidating the sacrament. But what is not essential can be and, in certain circumstances, may be changed.

    Now the mere fact that a given sacrament was usually administered in a certain manner in the past does not, by itself, show that such a manner of administration belongs to the essence of the sacrament. Conversely, the mere fact that a long-established manner of administration is changed does not, by itself, show that the sacrament has been administered invalidly. To be sure, part of the answer to a question of the form “What is essential to sacrament S?” must be “because S has always been done that way.” But that part of the answer is only necessary; by itself, it is not sufficient. To get a sufficient answer, we must have recourse to the magisterial authority of the Church. Only then can we hold as de fide that the way things have been done in the past is the way the must be done regardless.

    In the case of women’s ordination, Pope John Paul II said that the Church has no authority to confer priestly authority on women, and that this judgment is to be “definitively held by all the faithful.” As head of the CDF, the present pope asserted that such a judgment has been “infallibly set forth by the ordinary and universal magisterium” of the bishops. Hence, not even the papacy has the authority to ordain women to the priesthood. That can only because the Church has irreformably taught that its conferral on men alone is of the essence of the sacrament of holy orders. But that doctrine is not derived merely from the fact that the unbroken tradition has been to ordain only men. Rather, the tradition is to be maintained because, in the divine economy, the sacrament cannot be validly conferred on women.

    Yet that sort of answer has not been given to the question whether confirmation should be conferred before or after the Eucharist in the order of the sacraments of initiation. Although the ancient and general practice was confirmation before communion, there is no evidence that keeping such a rule was considered essential to the validity of the sacraments in question, and there is some evidence that, in certain circumstances, communion was given before confirmation. One might argue, of course, that such deviations are unjustified from a pastoral point of view. But it won’t do simply to argue that Pius X was an abusive innovator simply because the prevalent tradition was to confer confirmation before giving the Eucharist. That would only follow if such an order of conferral were essential to the validity of those sacraments. And that case has not been made.

    Best,
    Mike

  196. Byran and K Doran,

    Thank you both for your responses and forgive me please I have evidently been unclear.

    It might help if I say, in answer to K Doran’s question, the theological standard that has guided my questions here is “ex orandi, lex credendi,” the law of prayer is the law of faith. It is a theological standard common to both the Catholic and Orthodox Churches. I think the CCC (#1124) gives a good summary of the principle guiding me here and is one that I think most Orthodox Christians would embrace as their own:

    “The Church’s faith precedes the faith of the believer who is invited to adhere to it. When the Church celebrates the sacraments, she confesses the faith received from the apostles – whence the ancient saying: lex orandi, lex credendi (or: legem credendi lex statuat supplicandi, according to Prosper of Aquitaine). The law of prayer is the law of faith: the Church believes as she prays. Liturgy is a constitutive element of the holy and living Tradition.”

    Far then from being a secondary matter, then one can legitimately call into question a communities orthodoxy based on its liturgical practice. This is, in part, what Leo XIII in Apostolicae Curae when he declares “absolutely null and utterly void” because of a “defect of form and intention.” In defense of the Catholic position Leo not only looks at the change in the Anglican intent and rite of ordination, he appeals to the Catholic Church’s practice of unconditionally ordaining Anglican priests who converted to Catholicism. As the pope writes “the principle holds good that ‘Custom is the best interpreter of law.'”

    As for the current Latin rite practice being a corruption, … All I can do is point out that the current practice represents a deviation from the practice not simply of the first millennium–East and West–but also of Rome’s own practice since the Great Schism. Again I may be wrong in my understanding of the history of Latin practice but I haven’t seen here (or anywhere for that matter) any historical evidence that suggests otherwise.

    I am perfectly at peace with withdrawing my criticism if someone can show me that the current Latin practice was accepted by the Church of the first millennium but so far no one has. For that matter no one has demonstrated that it was the practice of the Rome Church after the Great Schism.

    It may be that the current Latin practice is not a substantial deviation–and I understand why as Catholics you would both hold that there has not been any deviation–but you have not made that argument here. The argument, likewise is not made by read Pius X. In fact he doesn’t even address the question of the relationship between confirmation and holy communion. From my point of view, he simply changes the practice. If this is how the Church of Rome works than I must say that I love the Catholic Church too much to be Catholic.

    In Christ,

    +Fr Gregory

  197. Mike,

    Your comment came up after mine. So first, thank you for taking the time to respond.

    That said, I find your response unconvincing. If the practice is baptism, chrismation, holy communion then it belongs to those who would change the practice to make the argument. As I said above, Pius doesn’t make this argument. He simply changes the practice.

    Like I said, if this is Catholicism I’m glad I’m Orthodox.

    +FrG

  198. Fr. Gregory,
    To my understanding of Quam Singulari, it was more concerned about lowering the age of first communion to at least the age of reason. Here’s the link to the document:
    http://www.papalencyclicals.net/Pius10/p10quam.htm
    Reading through Quam Singulari, it does not seem to mention the timing of Confirmation. It only urges the faithful to give communion at an earlier age (and it points to Eastern Churches with affirmation). I wonder if it’s Pope Pius X who is to be attributed to the moving of confirmation after communion, or if that was an indirect consequence of moving the timing of first communion.

    As has been said, the essence of sacramental life is not judged to be abrogated by placing confirmation after first communion. Could there be a change in practice the future? Possibly. But the fact that we can’t find a definitive answer as to why confirmation was placed after first communion doesn’t change the status of the Pope. Here is an (admittedly silly) analogy:

    My father could tell me that he wants to change my bedtime with no reason. If I were to question him, he might give me good reason, and he might not. He would still be my father. Catholics are open, given the nature of infallibility, for their Holy Father to do things that they may think to be suboptimal, and even if that suboptimal thing is done without justification, we view him as our leader.

    Your own website has pointed out the issue of Cum Data Fuerit. That seems to me to be more weighty of a matter–at least, to my knowledge no one has left Catholicism over the timing of Confirmation. Do you have more information on Orthodox writers who consider this to be an essential change in the sacramental life?

    Thanks,
    J. Andrew Deane

    p.s. K. Doran–I’m sorry for such a brief response. And in retrospect I think you may have a point that there may indeed have been some who placed confirmation after the first eucharist. But to me that is an argument based on the concept of liturgical diversity with no tangible proof that, say, Alexandria separated baptism from confirmation (with an administration of Communion prior to confirmation), and it is very clear that Church fathers such as Cyprian (who is mentioned in the Catechism quote that I provided) that the norm for both East and West was what the East continues to do.

    Backing up, that we as Eastern Catholics are allowed to continue that practice (as well as the practice of not saying the filioque, etc.) shows that from Rome’s perspective, the East’s traditions are not needing reform based on any changes in the West. This, to me, is another sign that this difference is not essential.

    But if I may make one other general point on this issue. I sponsored someone who reverted into Catholicism after a period of time in evangelicalism and Presbyterianism. He was in his 20s and had received first communion, but was not confirmed. After he went to confession, we were waiting for the timing of his confirmation (it was to be Pentecost of 2009). I was at first upset that he was not allowed to receive communion until his confirmation, but the more I think about what Fr. Gregory has pointed out, the Catholic Church deems it best for the sacraments of initiation to be as joined as possible. Since the current Roman Catholic practice is to view Confirmation as a sacrament of maturity, it has postponed it by and large. But when one can be confirmed (as is the case of a 20-something person), one ought not receive the Eucharist without confirmation. Now the question of whether it’s optimal for the sacrament of anointing to be given not until some point in maturity is important-as long as it retains the principle of being a sacrament of initiation, then it has not changed in its essence. Because even infants can still be confirmed if they are in the danger of death, I see that that initiatory element remains. Now, we can ask whether what’s good for the goose is good for the gander, and that’s essentially what that article which I cited yesterday puts forth. May God guide us in His truth.

  199. Fr Jensen (#197):

    I find your response unconvincing. If the practice is baptism, chrismation, holy communion then it belongs to those who would change the practice to make the argument. As I said above, Pius doesn’t make this argument. He simply changes the practice.

    In my previous comment, it was not my aim to “convince” you that the change made by Pius X–one of the most conservative popes of modern times–was pastorally justified. My aim was to show that there is no inconsistency between the Church’s position on women’s ordination on the one hand and her position on the order of the sacraments of initiation on the other. Given that you have not tried to rebut what I claimed to have shown, I conclude that you accept what I claimed to have shown.

    That said, I don’t think you’ve even correctly identified Pius X’s own aim. In Quam Singulari, he decried the tendency in many quarters of the Latin Church to postpone first communion to at or near the age of puberty. By mandating that the age of first communion be moved well back, to the “age of reason,” he was in effect making the modern practice somewhat more like the ancient, whether that was his intent or not. I don’t understand what the problem with that is supposed to be, and neither does it seem to be what you object to.

    What you’re really objecting to, it seems to me, is not so much Pius’ moving back the age of first communion, but rather its effect of leaving confirmation (chrismation) for well after first communion. But if Pius had moved confirmation back even further, so as to ensure it came before first communion, he would have been making a radical change in Western tradition, rather than reforming what he saw as an abuse. By the Middle Ages, it had become the tradition of the Latin Church to treat confirmation as the sacrament of Christian maturity. The Eucharist was not so regarded; hence, in terms of Western tradition, there is no compelling reason to insist that confirmation come before first communion. So the real target of your objection appears to be to the Western tradition of treating confirmation but not Eucharist as the sacrament of Christian maturity.

    Of course I may have misunderstood you, just as I believe you have misunderstood the nature of the change Pius X made. Let’s see if we can isolate precisely what it is you have a problem with.

    Best,
    Mike

  200. Fr. Jensen, (re: #196),

    I want to avoid contributing to a sense of one-vs.-many on this particular question in this thread, from your point of view. I know that can be somewhat frustrating, simply because it is too difficult to respond to so many different interlocutors all interacting with you at the same time. My brother Jonathan has already said well (in #198) what I would have said. What I wrote below, I wrote before I saw his comment. But it shows that I’m of one mind with him here.

    I think we’re all agreed about the truth of lex orandi, lex credendi, and the truth of “custom is the best interpreter of law.” As best as I can tell, you agree that those two truths do not entail that every change in sacramental practice would not ‘save their substance.’ That is, as best as I can tell, you agree that “lex orandi, lex credendi” and “custom is the best interpreter of law” still allow ‘room’ for changes in sacramental practice that nevertheless ‘save their substance.’ So the question regarding Quam singulari is not whether it is compatible with “lex orandi, lex credendi” and “custom is the best interpreter of law.” The question regarding Quam singulari is whether what Pope Pius X did in lowering the age of first communion (without also lowering the age of confirmation) was a change that saved the substance, or was a change that did not save the substance. And on this point, your two claims are first that Pope Pius X did not provide any accompanying argument showing that this change saved the substance and was not a substantial deviation from the Tradition, and second that Pope Pius X was obliged to provide such an argument to the rest of the Church, in order to justify making this change. So if I’m understanding you correctly your claim is that the faithful are not obliged to believe and follow the teaching of Quam singulari until the Magisterium provides an argument showing that the change enjoined by that Decree, as a result of which in the Latin Church the Eucharist is ordinarily received prior to the reception of the sacrament of confirmation/chrismation, is not a substantial deviation from the Tradition.

    The problem with this objection, from my point of view, is that the presupposition that the Magisterium must provide an argument to the laity in order to justify any sacramental or liturgical or doctrinal change, in order for that change to be authoritative, is not itself part of the Apostolic Tradition, but would most likely trace its roots to Enlightenment rationalism. It may be prudent and helpful for the Magisterium to provide arguments or explanations to the laity regarding such changes, but the magisterial authority to make a non-substantial change in sacramental practice, and the authority of that change, does not itself depend on the Magisterium providing such an argument. From the Catholic point of view, Magisterial teaching does not stand guilty-until-proven innocent, so to speak, but orthodox until shown to be heretical. And in your objection to Quam singulari, I have seen no argument showing that allowing the reception of the Eucharist prior to confirmation/chrismation is a substantial deviation from the Tradition, and does not ‘save the substance.’

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  201. Father,

    The fact that most people did something does not imply that doing something else is invalid or heretical. I don’t know why what I’m saying isn’t obvious. J. Andrew, the fact that most people did something does not imply that doing something else is valid but suboptimal. If you can accede to that, then, we’re on the same page.

    Sincerely,

    K. Doran

  202. K. Doran,
    I don’t mean to state that confirmation post-communion is definitely suboptimal. That is for the leaders to decide. I am only meaning that if a reunion of Orthodox with the Catholic Church were to occur and this practice were to be judged suboptimal, that that does not touch the claims of infallibility. As a comparison, if priestly celibacy were made mandatory for all Eastern Christians, as was done in the US for Eastern Catholics with Cum Data Fuerit, the fact that that yoke was lifted afterwards does not mean that the claims of infallibility are in question. So I am arguing for a possible suboptimal state, not an actual one. The article in the journal Antiphon would ask for more integration and may come across that there is a definite suboptimal state, but I view my own role in the world to not call for what is suboptimal. It’s enough to deal with the very straightforward questions of loving God and neighbor, after all!

    Your brother,
    J. Andrew

    p.s. I think that given Mike Liccione’s comments on Quam Singulari, it appears to be clear that it could be more the application of Quam Singulari than the actual precepts put forth by Pope Pius X of Blessed Memory. This is another thing about infallibility is that many statements by councils etc. may be infallible, but how they are applied can be full of problems. But this is just to restate in the form of examples that the mystery of Christ’s Church is truly a mystery.

  203. J. Andrew,

    Thank you for clarifying — I agree. It remains to convince Father Gregory that adding up the number of times that the Eucharist was offered after Confirmation is insufficient for setting the dividing line between legitimate sacramental diversity and illegitimate corruptions. One cannot simply say: “90% of the time the following practice occurred, so therefore we know that the minority practice must be a corruption of the barbarians and heretics.” We know nothing of the sort. In the earliest Church, it is my understanding that the Christians sought to worship in synagogues whenever possible. All that this tells us is that such worship is (or was) valid. It doesn’t tell us that this worship is optimal, or that any other form of worship is invalid. Thus, dialogue between Orthodox and Catholics needs a better standard than counting how many areas Catholics continue to follow the majority practice of whatever period of antiquity we choose to be normative, and comparing that to how many areas Orthodox continue to practice the majority practice of whatever periods and places they choose to be normative. Father, you should engage in some of the theological discussions that Bryan was bringing up. And you also shouldn’t simply assume that the minority practice of antiquity was a corruption. We need better than assumptions here.

    Sincerely,

    K. Doran

  204. It seems that the author of “I love the Orthodox to much..” mistakes the acceptance of others Orders as love. Does he not believe that the Orthodox can love Roman catholics without acknowledging them to be in the True Church of Christ?

  205. Athanasios,
    Thank you for your comment. Of course Orthodox can love Catholics. And even while we as Catholics see the fullness of the Church subsisting in a hierarchy which includes the Bishop of Rome as the leader of his brother bishops, we are making a judgment against the Orthodox Churches that are not in communion with that Bishop of Rome. It’s not unloving to make a judgment along those lines. Where things differ, as I have tried to stress, is the sacramental acknowledgment that Catholics make to the Sister Churches that are not in communion with them. We admit your full sacramental life, which is a fullness of a different sort. So while canonical fullness may be judged to be lacking, the Catholic perspective of your valid Apostolic Succession is such that your sacramental fullness is not lacking.

    What I tried to point out is that as time goes on, some Orthodox don’t just question the Catholic orders, they also question Orthodox that aren’t “really” Orthodox. Because I acknowledge the sacramental life in the Catholic Church as well as in other Orthodox Churches, my conscience compelled me to seek communion with Rome.

    In XC,
    J. Andrew

  206. Dr L, I don’t know if you are still around on this thread, but I have a comment and a question.

    First, I was elated to see you elucidate on your understanding of the best path forward as regards the filioque. I have long shared the exact same opinion that the addition of the filioque was unhelpful and unclear, but that its proper explication could be understood in an Orthodox way and that the best path forward is to find a clear definition that can replace the vague filioque. It is comforting to know that I am not the only person to think this way. I thought you might also take some encouragement that there is at least one Orthodox Christian who thinks as you do.

    Second is my question, which regards the late dialogue here with Fr Gregory on the sacraments of reception. The counter arguments to his position have been twofold. The first is that there is at least one instance, albeit minor, that the order of the rites varies from the traditionally accepted order. The second is that the late normalization of a new order is a change in accident, not essence.

    In the first case, the aberration provided seems to me no different than the Canon (which I cannot now find a reference for) which requires that if an unbaptized person receives communion, baptism is still to be administered immediately after the mass. That is, when the traditional order of initiation is not exercised proximity in time maintains the essential meaning of the act.

    Keeping this point in mind, when we move to the second consideration I think we find that the current practice does in fact represent an essential change and not for the temporal consideration only. It is to my knowledge, that the first testament to this practice is Acts 19:4-6 in which, like baptism unites one to Christ, confirmation unites one to the Holy Spirit. This is further elucidated by the holy Fathers and Doctors of the Church in two unanimous ways. First, this gift of the Holy Spirit through confirmation remits original/ancestral sin (see for instance Ambrose’s De Mysteriis Chap 6 and Cyril’s Catechetical Lectures Chap 21). Second, it initiates us into the Aaronic priesthood. The main thrust of these two theological points is that having our ancestral sin remitted and been entered into the Aaronic priesthood, we are now able to enter the Holy of Holies and partake of the heavenly sacrifice of Christ without being consumed.

    If confirmation is thus temporally removed from first communion and placed posterior, every central original meaning of this sacrament is obfuscated: it would seem that the child taking place in first communion without having been confirmed partakes of the heavenly sacrifice without possessing the Holy Spirit, without entering the Aaronic priesthood and without having remission of our inherited state. This seems the utmost absurdity to me. It is as if the primary symbol, that is the essence of the act, has been merged into the baptismal act (where it does not symbolically fit) and that one of the inquiries from the Roman baptismal rite has been extracted from the rite and renamed “confirmation.” That is to say that confirmation has transubstantiated into something completely different.

    I fully admit there may be something I have missed, or that I may be understanding this incorrectly. Do you have any insight on this?

  207. Fr. Gregory,

    Exodus 12:49 – no uncircumcised person shall eat of the lamb. Baptism is the new circumcision for Catholics(Col 2:11-12 ), and thus one must be baptized in order to partake of the Lamb. Confirmation is not necessary in this regard.

    Secondly, the West kept the apostolic tradition of having the Bishop remain as the ordinary minister of the Sacramnet of Confirmation whereas the East abandoned this practice and gave this faculty to priests. I say this to underscore why the West does not do all three sacraments at the same time. The rapid growth over large expanses of territory did not always allow the bishop to be present for the sacrament. So they were seperated for practical reasons including the purposes already stated by others.

  208. Andrew,

    So do Uniates have bishops chrismate or no?

    Somehow I don’t think Rome agrees with your assessment.

  209. Alan,

    To myknowledge Eastern Rite Catholic priest also administer chrismation. So either those churches have non-apostolic practice, which Rome formally approves or the East didn’t abandon the apostolic tradition and the respective bodies embody regional practices, both of which are acceptable or Rome is wrong in its practice. Those seem to me to be the options. But it doesn’t seem open to you though based on what I take to be the most plausible Catholic option (option 2) to claim the East abanonded the apostolic practice as you claim. You can only make that claim stick by impugning Rome.

  210. Hello Perry,

    I dont believe my claim impugnes Rome in any way, and I did not envisage it as such. Apostolic versus non-apostolic is not always the same as right versus wrong. For instance, the western church also allowed a priest to minister confirmation, but the difference is that these priests were considered “extraordinary” ministers and not the “ordinary” minister. That the bishops is the “ordinary” minister of confirmation is apostolic and without question for Catholics. That a priest is given permission/faculties to do so is post-apostolic and valid but not licit unless permission is given. This is why the Council of Trent teaches us the following…

    “If anyone says that the ordinary minister of holy confirmation is not the bishop alone, but any simple priest, let him be anathema.”
    Council of Trent, Session VII

    To answer your objection, the eastern rite catholic churches were given permission when they came into communion. Since they represent less than one percent of Catholicism, its is also an “extraordinary” dispensation.

    Also, Uniates is a deragotory term invented by Orthodox to describe those Eastern Rite churches in communion with Rome. It should not be used by Catholics.

  211. To assert your view again seems to beg the question, particularly against Eastern Catholics who deny the assertion.

    The size of the Eastern Catholics seems irrelevant. What you cite from Trent is relevant though. Eastern Catholic sources explicitly claim that their tradition is apostolic in origin, but since I don’t have a dog in this fight since I am neither Eastern or Western Rite Catholic, I’ll leave that for you guys to ferret out.

    At the very least my point still stands, that Rome permits non-apostolic practices in the place of ones you are claiming via Trent are alone apostolic in origin. Why does Rome permit human traditions here in the place of apostolic ones? If the point cuts against the Orthodox, then it cuts against Rome here as well-Rome permits the abanondonment of apostolic praxis. A dispensation doesn’t change that.

    I am well aware that Uniate carries a pejorative sense. I am also aware of Catholic claims here fairly routinely say that the Orthodox are schismatic, and “essentially Protestants” and such are also pejorative, and yet Catholics here routinely make such remarks. If I think the Eastern Rite Catholics sold their inheritance for a bowl of soup that might explain why I used such a term. I suppose I love Catholics too much to be Catholic.

    In any case, this moves us back to the original point in dispute relative to your claim. As Orthodox, I simply deny that the Eastern Apostolic Sees abandoned apostolic practice as you claim and so far I haven’t seen any documentary evidence to support it. If you have some, then by all means bring it forward, make your argument and educate me.

  212. I apologize for doing an inline commentary as an answer, but I don’t see how I could otherwise address your many points.

    [—
    To assert your view again seems to beg the question, particularly against Eastern Catholics who deny the assertion.
    —]

    My intent was to clarify it so that you might understand that this was not a question of validity. It was a question of authority because most practices that are “extraordinary” require permission since they diverge from “ordinary” practice. As for what Eastern Catholics accept…Eastern Catholics accept Trent, and that is why their chrism is blessed by a bishop/patriarch.

    [—
    The size of the Eastern Catholics seems irrelevant. What you cite from Trent is relevant though. Eastern Catholic sources explicitly claim that their tradition is apostolic in origin, but since I don’t have a dog in this fight since I am neither Eastern or Western Rite Catholic, I’ll leave that for you guys to ferret out.
    —]

    Lets be clear, my comment did not go any further than who is the ordinary minister of confirmation as practiced by the apostles.

    [—
    At the very least my point still stands, that Rome permits non-apostolic practices in the place of ones you are claiming via Trent are alone apostolic in origin. Why does Rome permit human traditions here in the place of apostolic ones? If the point cuts against the Orthodox, then it cuts against Rome here as well-Rome permits the abanondonment of apostolic praxis. A dispensation doesn’t change that.
    —]

    I don’t see how your point stands because it is predicated on the idea that everything non-apostolic in practice is somehow bad and needs defending. As for Eastern Catholics, there is certainly nothing to defend because it does not “cut” against them. For them it is both licit and valid and the chrism is blessed by a bishop/patriarch. I would stress that Non-apostolic traditions and practices can be the product of organic development while still maintaining orthodoxy. It is not black and white as you would have it. For instance, not all Eastern Orthodox consider themselves limited to seven sacraments. Various Orthodox authorities would also argue that the consecration of an Emperor was a sacramental act (among other things). Would this be apostolic? Perhaps there is some grey area even in Eastern Orthodoxy.

    [—
    I am well aware that Uniate carries a pejorative sense. I am also aware of Catholic claims here fairly routinely say that the Orthodox are schismatic, and “essentially Protestants” and such are also pejorative, and yet Catholics here routinely make such remarks. If I think the Eastern Rite Catholics sold their inheritance for a bowl of soup that might explain why I used such a term. I suppose I love Catholics too much to be Catholic.
    —]

    I apologize for assuming you were Catholic when I posted that. You seemed concerned with me impugning Rome, which gave me the wrong assumption. However, I do find your reason for using a pejorative lacking. It amounts to accepting the lowest common denominator for discourse.

    [—
    In any case, this moves us back to the original point in dispute relative to your claim.
    —]

    The original point of my claim was why Catholics separated Baptism, first Communion, and Confirmation. This new tangent about exploring the apostolicity of who is the ordinary minister of confirmation was not my intent. However, I am happy to discuss since I merely posited it as a practical reason for why the West separated the sacraments as they grew.

    [—
    As Orthodox, I simply deny that the Eastern Apostolic Sees abandoned apostolic practice as you claim and so far I haven’t seen any documentary evidence to support it. If you have some, then by all means bring it forward, make your argument and educate me.
    —]

    The Sacred Scripture is my proof. There is no shred of evidence that anyone but the apostles/bishops confirmed people. The apostles were the first members of the episcopate and they are the only ones recorded confirming Christians because they are the ordinary ministers of that sacrament.

    -Scripture
    Acts 19:5-6 – Paul confirms. He is part of the episcopate.
    Acts 8:14-17 – Peter and John confirm people. They are part of the episcopate.

    The Church fathers are not my proof, because the East has already diverged by this time. But I add them so as to show the continuity of the West with Sacred Scripture.

    -Tradition
    “And when he was healed of his sickness he did not receive the other things which it is necessary to have according to the canon of the Church, even the being sealed by the bishop. And as he did not receive this, how could he receive the Holy Spirit?'”
    Pope Cornelius (251-253 AD)

    “He would likewise be permitting this to the Apostles alone? Were that the case,He would likewise be permitting them alone to baptize,them alone to baptize, them alone to Confer the Holy Spirit…If, then, the power both of Baptism and Confirmation, greater by far the charisms, is passed on to the bishops…”
    Pacian, Epistle to Sympronian (392 AD)

    “That this power of a bishop, however, is due to the bishops alone, so that they either sign or give the Paraclete the Spirit…For to presbyters it is permitted to anoint the baptized with chrism whenever they baptize…but with chrism that has been consecrated by a bishop; nevertheless it is not allowed to sign the forehead with the same oil; that is due to the bishops alone when they bestow the Spirit, the Paraclete.”
    Pope Innocent [401-417 AD]

  213. “Lets be clear, my comment did not go any further than who is the ordinary minister of confirmation as practiced by the apostles. ”

    Just to be abundantly clear: all sacraments have as their ordinary minister the bishop. The presbyter is literally the person that stands in the place of the bishop acting on his behalf.

    “Let that be deemed a proper Eucharist, which is [administered] either by the bishop, or by one to whom he has entrusted it.” Ignatius — Smyrnaeans 8

    That in the West the bishops have maintained chosen to administer confirmation themselves is entirely their prerogative, just as it is entirely the prerogative of the Eastern bishops to delegate it. Neither choice is more or less faithful to the tradition.

    (Yes, I’m aware I’m equivocating on “ordinary” but I’m trying to show the range of meaning…)

  214. Alan and Perry (et al.),
    I think this set of interactions brings up an interesting point, confusions notwithstanding.

    To Alan I would say that you must keep in mind that the Orthodox also receive chrism from their bishops. It’s not as though when Eastern Catholics left their Mother Churches that we decided to have our bishop bless the chrism. That is in keeping with the historical notion that the “ordinary” minister of confirmation is the bishop. We are anointed not just to receive the seal of the gift of the Holy Spirit, but also to signify our inclusion with the local Church, which is led by the Bishop.

    The “ordinary” minister of communion was the bishop as well, historically, however.

    To everyone I would say that this shows that the Church has exercised oikonomia. The Fathers grasped that the presbyters were in communion with their bishops, and that the bishops would be able to lead their people and exercise discretion for the good of their flock. As such, the bishops allowed for communion and chrismation/confirmation to be given by priests. Just as Rome has delayed confirmation in more recent years as compared to older Traditions out of a motive of oikonomia (to impart a sense of “graduation”/strengthening to older youth, etc.), so have Eastern Churches allowed for chrismation to be ordinarily administered by priests, since at least the 400s.

    So what this brings up is that there is a sense in which neither Eastern nor Western Christians should turn their nose up at a practice that we venerate on the basis of finding the oldest precedent. If there are theological reasons for criticizing a practice, that’s another story. But I would argue that we should allow our leaders to discuss these matters, and as we try to make comments, that we do so quite gingerly. We are talking about customs that are quite ingrained upon our traditions.

    At Florence, allowing priests to regularly administer chrismation was not brought up as an issue by Roman Catholics. Similarly, I would ask that Alan respect that precedent.

    And there are many ways in which I wish more of my Orthodox brethren would agree with Met. Kallistos and come to see the sacramental life in the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Catholic Churches. Maybe we need more love and more light from the divine and uncreated energies that come to us through the Church to live as Christ and love our Orthodox brethren. Whatever the means to bring about this mutual acknowledgment of the sacramental life that binds us (which was the point of this now ancient feeling post), I pray that this comes about.

    In XC,
    J. Andrew

  215. Friends,

    Bishop Aquila of Fargo recently argued that children should receive the sacrament of confirmation before their first communion. This is relevant to the discussion we had here in comments #187-203, and is perhaps a small sign of a possible step toward more unified sacramental practice between Orthodox and Catholics.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

  216. How do the Oriental Orthodox (Copts, Armenians, etc.) feel about holy orders? I think their view is closer to the Catholic view than the (Eastern) Orthodox view, given their ecclesiology (Orientals are almost semi-Congregationalist in their view that each national church by itself fully manifests the Body of Christ; therefore, they would argue that the Ethiopian, Armenian, Greek, Russian, and Roman churches are all essentially images–perfect or not–of the same Body, if I’m not mistaken.)

  217. Greetings, Anastasios. Because of the lack of a unified Magisterium, answering this question about Oriental Orthodox (or Chalcedonian Orthodox) is always tricky. I don’t want to make a blanket statement that the Eastern Orthodox are further away from Catholics with regard to esteeming holy orders. But if we look at the specifics of one Oriental Orthodox Church, we may find some ecclesiological insights. The Armenian Orthodox Church has a standing offer to both Catholics and Chalcedonian Orthodox to receive Holy Communion in their churches. This resonates with what one finds in the missals of most Catholic parishes, where Orthodox (both Oriental and Chalcedonian) are welcome to receive Holy Communion, on the provision that the faithful who do so have the blessing (implicit or explicit) of their Bishop. Given this more open stance to Holy Communion, it would appear that those Oriental Orthodox who do make such an offer have a more open admission to the sacramental reality of the Holy Orders found in Churches with whom they are not in full communion. Again, there are Chalcedonian Orthodox who also have this view, and making broad statements is thus difficult, but these general truths remain. May God open our eyes to love one another and may we see Our Risen Lord in the Holy Mysteries which our Churches celebrate.

    In XC,
    J. Andrew

Leave Comment

Subscribe without commenting