Calvinism As Heresy

Met. Jonah of the OCA today addressed a group of conservative Anglicans. In the course of outlining what would be necessary for true ecumenical dialog and union, he stated, “the renunciation of Calvinism as a heresy.” This probably came as a surprise to many of the evangelical Anglicans in the audience. Appended here is the proclamation of the Council of    which proclaimed, from an Orthodox perspective, certain aspects of Calvinism to be heretical.

The Confession of Dositheus

Chapter VI. of Acts and Decrees of the Synod of Jerusalem (A.D. 1672)

After studying in western Europe, Cyril Lucar (or Lucaris, the Latinate form) eventually became the Patriarch of Constantinople, 1620. A Confession of Faith, written in Latin and ascribed to Cyril, was published in Geneva, 1629. The Encyclopedia Britannica gives a very brief synopsis:

In its 18 articles Lucaris professed virtually all the major doctrines of Calvinism; predestination, justification by faith alone, acceptance of only two sacraments (instead of seven, as taught by the Eastern Orthodox Church), rejection of icons, rejection of the infallibility of the church, and so on. In the Orthodox church the Confession started a controversy that culminated in 1672 in a convocation by Dosítheos, patriarch of Jerusalem, of a church council that repudiated all Calvinist doctrines and reformulated Orthodox teachings in a manner intended to distinguish them from both Protestantism and Roman Catholicism.

The Acts and Decrees of the Synod of Jerusalem was translated from the Greek and edited by J.N.W.B. Robertson, 1899. The Orthodox authorities gathered for the Synod of Jerusalem alleged the 1629 Confession to have been a forgery by Calvinists. Chapter I. quotes widely from Cyril’s homilies, to contradict each chapter of the 1629 Confession. Chapters II. and III. give other evidences and reasons to dispute Cyril’s authorship of the 1629 Confession, and, more importantly, to demonstrate that it was not an official act of an Orthodox patriarch. Chapter IV. explains why the faith of the Eastern Church has never been Calvinistic, particularly concerning the Holy Eucharist as Real Presence and true sacrifice. Chapter V. incorporates acts, decrees, and letters of previous synods against the 1629 Confession. Chapter VI. sets forth the Orthodox faith in eighteen decrees and four questions, commonly known as The Confession of Dositheus, corresponding precisely to the chapters and questions in the 1629 Confession, which is included in an appendix. (Dositheus is the Latinate form of Dosítheos.)

Here follows Chapter VI. of Acts and Decrees of the Synod of Jerusalem, including The Confession of Dositheus. All words and phrases enclosed here in square brackets [ ] or in parenthesis ( ) are so enclosed in the original; text italicized here is italicized in the original. Page breaks in the original are indicated here by the page number enclosed in angle brackets < >. Footnoted citations of biblical quotations or allusions in the original are included here in the body of the text in braces { }; all other footnotes (including original Greek words and phrases, and commentary and textual criticism by Robertson) are omitted here, except for a few enclosed in braces { } and marked JNWBR. My own notes are enclosed in braces { } and marked ELC.


To the candid and lovers of truth, what hath been said will be sufficient, or rather, so to speak, more than enough to enable them to understand what is the doctrine of the Eastern Church, and that she hath never at any time been in agreement with the Calvinists in their novelties (nor in fact with any others besides herself), nor hath she recognised him {Cyril Lucar ELC} whom they contend was of their party, as being so. For the complete refutation, however, and uprooting of the designs which have been formed, contrarily to the glory of God, against the sacred bulwarks of our Orthodox religion, and, so to speak, for the complete demolition of the blasphemies contained in the vaunted <110> Chapters {of the 1629 Confession ELC}, we have thought it right to put forth certain Questions and Chapters {the 18 decrees below ELC} corresponding in number to those written by Cyril, and diametrically opposing the same, wherein he hath, as it were (as hath been supposed many times), whetted his tongue against God, {cf. Psalm 43:4} so that they may be called a refutation and correction of the said Chapters of Cyril. And the order which is there observed will be followed in these which will be put forth by us, so that each of the Faithful may be able to compare, and judge of both, and easily know the Orthodoxy of the Eastern Church, and the falsehood of the heretics. Where, however, necessity requireth, we shall omit some things, or add some other things tending to the accurate understanding of the matter. And we shall use words, entire sentences, and periods {sic ELC} set out there, so that we may not seem to fight against words and Orthodox sentences rather than against novelties and impious dogmas.


Dositheus, by the mercy of God, Patriarch of <111> Jerusalem, to those that ask and inquire concerning the faith and worship of the Greeks, that is of the Eastern Church, how forsooth it thinketh concerning the Orthodox faith, in the common name of all Christians subject to our Apostolic Throne, and of the Orthodox worshippers that are sojourning in this holy and great city of Jerusalem (with whom the whole Catholic Church agreeth in all that concerneth the faith) publisheth this concise Confession, for a testimony both before God and before man, with a sincere conscience, and devoid of all dissimulation.


We believe in one God, true, almighty, and infinite, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; the Father unbegotten; the Son begotten of the Father before the ages, and <112> consubstantial with Him; and the Holy Spirit proceeding from the Father, and consubstantial with the Father and the Son. These three Persons in one essence we call the All-holy Trinity, — by all creation to be ever blessed, glorified, and adored.


We believe the Divine and Sacred Scriptures to be God-taught; and, therefore, we ought to believe the same without doubting; yet not otherwise than as the Catholic Church hath interpreted and delivered the same. For every foul heresy receiveth, indeed, the Divine Scriptures, but perversely interpreteth the same, using metaphors, and homonymies, and sophistries of man’s wisdom, confounding what ought to be distinguished, and trifling with what ought not to be trifled with. For if [we were to receive the same] otherwise, each man holding every day a different sense concerning the same, the Catholic Church would not [as she doth] by the grace of Christ continue to be the Church until this day, holding the same <113> doctrine of faith, and always identically and steadfastly believing, but would be rent into innumerable parties, and subject to heresies; neither would the Church be holy, the pillar and ground of the truth, {1 Timothy 3:15} without spot or wrinkle; {Ephesians 5:27} but would be the Church of the malignant {Psalm 25:5} as it is manifest that of the heretics undoubtedly is, and especially that of Calvin, who are not ashamed to learn from the Church, and then to wickedly repudiate her. Wherefore, the witness also of the Catholic Church is, we believe, not of inferior authority to that of the Divine Scriptures. For one and the same Holy Spirit being the author of both, it is quite the same to be taught by the Scriptures and by the Catholic Church. Moreover, when any man speaketh from himself he is liable to err, and to deceive, and be deceived; but the Catholic Church, as never having spoken, or speaking from herself, but from the Spirit of God — who being her teacher, she is ever unfailingly rich — it is impossible for her to in any wise err, or to at all deceive, or be deceived; but like the Divine Scriptures, is infallible, and hath perpetual authority. <114>


We believe the most good God to have from eternity predestinated unto glory those whom He hath chosen, and to have consigned unto condemnation those whom He hath rejected; but not so that He would justify the one, and consign and condemn the other without cause. For that were contrary to the nature of God, who is the common Father of all, and no respecter of persons, and would have all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth; {1 Timothy 2:4} but since He foreknew the one would make a right use of their free-will, and the other a wrong, He predestinated the one, or condemned the other. And we understand the use of free-will thus, that the Divine and illuminating grace, and which we call preventing grace, being, as a light to those in darkness, by the Divine goodness imparted to all, to those that are willing to obey this — for it is of use only to the willing, not to the unwilling — and co-operate with it, in what it requireth as necessary to salvation, there is consequently granted particular grace; which, co-operating <115> with us, and enabling us, and making us perseverant in the love of God, that is to say, in performing those good things that God would have us to do, and which His preventing grace admonisheth us that we should do, justifieth us, and maketh us predestinated. But those who will not obey, and co-operate with grace; and, therefore, will not observe those things that God would have us perform, and that abuse in the service of Satan the free-will, which they have received of God to perform voluntarily what is good, are consigned to eternal condemnation.

But to say, as the most wicked heretics do and as is contained in the Chapter answering hereto — that God, in predestinating, or condemning, had in no wise regard to the works of those predestinated, or condemned, we know to be profane and impious. For thus Scripture would be opposed to itself, since it promiseth the believer salvation through works, yet supposeth God to be its sole author, by His sole illuminating grace, which He bestoweth without preceding works, to shew to man the truth of divine things, and to teach him how he may co-operate therewith, if he will, and do what is good and acceptable, and so obtain <116> salvation. He taketh not away the power to will — to will to obey, or not obey him.

But than to affirm that the Divine Will is thus solely and without cause the author of their condemnation, what greater calumny can be fixed upon God? and what greater injury and blasphemy can be offered to the Most High? For that the Deity is not tempted with evils, {cf. James 1:13} and that He equally willeth the salvation of all, since there is no respect of persons with Him, we do know; and that for those who through their own wicked choice, and their impenitent heart, have become vessels of dishonour, there is, as is just, decreed condemnation, we do confess. But of eternal punishment, of cruelty, of pitilessness, and of inhumanity, we never, never say God is the author, who telleth us that there is joy in heaven over one sinner that repenteth. {Luke 15:7} Far be it from us, while we have our senses, thus to believe, or to think; and we do subject to an eternal anathema those who say and think such things, and esteem them to be worse than any infidels. <117>


We believe the tri-personal God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit to be the maker of all things visible and invisible; and the invisible are the angelic Powers, rational souls, and demons, — though God made not the demons what they afterwards became by their own choice, — but the visible are heaven and what is under heaven. And because the Maker is good by nature, He made all things very good {cf. Genesis 1:31} whatsoever He hath made, nor can He ever be the maker of evil. But if there be aught evil, that is to say, sin, come about contrarily to the Divine Will, in man or in demon, — for that evil is simply in nature, we do not acknowledge, — it is either of man, or of the devil. For it is a true and infallible rule, that God is in no wise the author of evil, nor can it at all by just reasoning be attributed to God.


We believe all things that are, whether visible or invisible, to be governed by the providence of God; but although God foreknoweth <118> evils, and permitteth them, yet in that they are evils, He is neither their contriver nor their author. But when such are come about, they may be over-ruled by the Supreme Goodness for something beneficial, not indeed as being their author, but as engrafting thereon something for the better. And we ought to adore, but not curiously pry into, Divine Providence in its ineffable and only partially revealed judgments. {cf. Romans 11:33} Albeit what is revealed to us in Divine Scripture concerning it as being conducive to eternal life, we ought honestly to search out, and then unhesitatingly to interpret the same agreeably to primary notions of God.


We believe the first man created by God to have fallen in Paradise, when, disregarding the Divine commandment, he yielded to the deceitful counsel of the serpent. And hence hereditary sin flowed to his posterity; so that none is born after the flesh who beareth not this burden, and experienceth not the fruits thereof in this present world. But by these <119> fruits and this burden we do not understand [actual] sin, such as impiety, blasphemy, murder, sodomy, adultery, fornication, enmity, and whatsoever else is by our depraved choice committed contrarily to the Divine Will, not from nature; for many both of the Forefathers and of the Prophets, and vast numbers of others, as well of those under the shadow [of the Law], as under the truth [of the Gospel], such as the divine Precursor, {St. John the Baptist ELC} and especially the Mother of God the Word, the ever-virgin Mary, experienced not these, or such like faults; but only what the Divine Justice inflicted upon man as a punishment for the [original] transgression, such as sweats in labour, afflictions, bodily sicknesses, pains in child-bearing, and, in fine {in summation ELC}, while on our pilgrimage, to live a laborious life, and lastly, bodily death.


We believe the Son of God, Jesus Christ, to have emptied Himself, {cf. Philippians 2:7} that is, to have taken into His own Person human flesh, being <120> conceived of the Holy Spirit, in the womb of the ever-virgin Mary; and, becoming man, to have been born, without causing any pain or labour to His own Mother after the flesh, or injury to her virginity, to have suffered, to have been buried, to have risen again in glory on the third day, according to the Scriptures, {cf. 1 Corinthians 15:3,4} to have ascended into the heavens, and to be seated at the right hand of God the Father. Whom also we look for to judge the living and the dead.


We believe our Lord Jesus Christ to be the only mediator, and that in giving Himself a ransom for all He hath through His own Blood made a reconciliation between God and man, and that Himself having a care for His own is advocate and propitiation for our sins. Albeit, in prayers and supplications unto Him, we say the Saints are intercessors, and, above all, the undefiled Mother of the very God the Word; the holy Angels too — whom we know to <121> be set over us — the Apostles, Prophets, Martyrs, Pure Ones, and all whom He hath glorified as having served Him faithfully. With whom we reckon also the Bishops and Priests, as standing about the Altar of God, and righteous men eminent for virtue. For that we should pray one for another, and that the prayer of the righteous availeth much, {James 5:16} and that God heareth the Saints rather than those who are steeped in sins, we learn from the Sacred Oracles. And not only are the Saints while on their pilgrimage regarded as mediators and intercessors for us with God, but especially after their death, when all reflective vision being done away, they behold clearly the Holy Trinity; in whose infinite light they know what concerneth us. For as we doubt not but that the Prophets while they were in a body with the perceptions of the senses knew what was done in heaven, and thereby foretold what was future; so also that the Angels, and the Saints become as Angels, know in the infinite light of God what concerneth us, we doubt not, but rather unhesitatingly believe and confess. <122>


We believe no one to be saved without faith. And by faith we mean the right notion that is in us concerning God and divine things, which, working by love, that is to say, by [observing] the Divine commandments, justifieth us with Christ; and without this [faith] it is impossible to please God.


We believe that what is called, or rather is, the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, and in which we have been taught to believe, containeth generally all the Faithful in Christ, who, that is to say, being still on their pilgrimage, have not yet reached their home in the Fatherland. But we do not in any wise confound this Church which is on its pilgrimage with that which is in the Fatherland, because it may be, as some of the heretics say, that the members of the two are sheep of God, the Chief Shepherd, {cf. Psalm 94:7} and hallowed by the same Holy Spirit; for that is absurd and impossible, since the one is yet militant, and <123> on its journey; and the other is triumphant, and settled in the Fatherland, and hath received the prize. Of which Catholic Church, since a mortal man cannot universally and perpetually be head, our Lord Jesus Christ Himself is head, and Himself holding the rudder is at the helm in the governing of the Church, through the Holy Fathers. And, therefore, over particular Churches, that are real Churches, and consist of real members [of the Catholic Church], the Holy Spirit hath appointed Bishops as leaders and shepherds, who being not at all by abuse, but properly, authorities and heads, look unto the Author and Finisher of our Salvation, {cf. Hebrews 2:10; 12:2} and refer to Him what they do in their capacity of heads forsooth.

But forasmuch as among their other impieties, the Calvinists have fancied this also, that the simple Priest and the High Priest {Bishop ELC} are perhaps the same; and that there is no necessity for High Priests, and that the Church may be governed by some Priests; and that not a High Priest [only], but a Priest also is able to ordain a Priest, and a <124> number of Priests to ordain a High Priest; and affirm in lofty language that the Eastern Church assenteth to this wicked notion — for which purpose the Tenth Chapter was written by Cyril — we explicitly declare according to the mind which hath obtained from the beginning in the Eastern Church: —

That the dignity of the Bishop is so necessary in the Church, that without him, neither Church nor Christian could either be or be spoken of. For he, as a successor of the Apostles, having received in continued succession by the imposition of hands and the invocation of the All-holy Spirit the grace that is given him of the Lord of binding and loosing, is a living image of God upon the earth, and by a most ample participation of the operation of the Holy Spirit, who is the chief functionary, is a fountain of all the Mysteries [Sacraments] of the Catholic Church, through which we obtain salvation.

And he is, we suppose, as necessary to the Church as breath is to man, or the sun to the world. Whence it hath also been elegantly <125> said by some in commendation of the dignity of the High Priesthood, “What God is in the heavenly Church of the first-born, {cf. Hebrews 12:23} and the sun in the world, that every High Priest is in his own particular Church, as through him the flock is enlightened, and nourished, and becometh the temple of God.” {cf. Ephesians 2:21}

And that this great mystery and dignity of the Episcopate hath descended unto us by a continued succession is manifest. For since the Lord hath promised to be with us always, although He be with us by other means of grace and Divine operations, yet in a more eminent manner doth He, through the Bishop as chief functionary make us His own and dwell with us, and through the divine Mysteries is united with us; of which the Bishop is the first minister, and chief functionary, through the Holy Spirit, and suffereth us not to fall into heresy. And, therefore [John] the Damascen, {sic ELC} in his Fourth Epistle to the Africans, hath said, the Catholic Church is everywhere committed to the <126> care of the Bishops; and that Clement, the first Bishop of the Romans, and Evodius at Antioch, and Mark at Alexandria, were successors of Peter is acknowledged. Also that the divine Andrew seated Stachys on the Throne of Constantinople, in his own stead; and that in this great holy city of Jerusalem our Lord Himself appointed James, and that after James another succeeded, and then another, until our own times. And, therefore, Tertullian in his Epistle to Papianus called all Bishops the Apostles’ successors. To their succession to the Apostles’ dignity and authority Eusebius, the [friend] of Pamphilus, testifieth, and all the Fathers testify, of whom it is needless to give a list; and this the common and most ancient custom of the Catholic Church confirmeth.

And that the dignity of the Episcopate <127> differeth from that of the simple Priest, is manifest. For the Priest is ordained by the Bishop, but a Bishop is not ordained by a Priest, but by two or three High Priests, as the Apostolic Canon directeth. And the Priest is chosen by the Bishop, but the High Priest is not chosen by the Priests or Presbyters, nor is he chosen by secular Princes, but by the Synod of the Primatial Church of that country, in which is situated the city that is to receive the ordinand, or at least by the Synod of the Province in which he is to become a Bishop. Or, if ever the city choose him, it doth not this absolutely; but the election is referred to the Synod; and if it appear that he hath obtained this agreeably to the Canons, the Elect {the Priest chosen to become a Bishop ELC} is advanced by ordination by the Bishops, with the invocation of the All-holy Spirit; but if not, he is advanced whom the Synod chooseth. And the Priest, indeed, retaineth to himself the authority and grace of the Priesthood, which he hath received; but the Bishop imparteth it to others also. And the one having received the dignity of the Priesthood <128> from the Bishop, can only perform Holy Baptism, and Prayer-oil, minister sacrificially the unbloody Sacrifice, and impart to the people the All-holy Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, anoint the baptised with the Holy Myron [Chrism], crown the Faithful legally marrying, pray for the sick, and that all men may be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth, {cf. 1 Timothy 2:4} and especially for the remission and forgiveness of the sins of the Faithful, living and dead. And if he be eminent for experience and virtue, receiving his authority from the Bishop, he directeth those Faithful that come unto him, and guideth them into the way of possessing the heavenly kingdom, and is appointed a preacher of the sacred Gospel. But the High Priest is also the minister of all these, since he is in fact, as hath been said before, the fountain of the Divine Mysteries and graces, through the Holy Spirit, and he alone consecrateth the Holy Myron. And the ordinations of all orders and degrees in the Church are proper to him; and in a primary and highest sense he <129> bindeth and looseth, and his sentence is approved by God, as the Lord hath promised. {Matthew 16:19} And he preacheth the Sacred Gospel, and contendeth for the Orthodox faith, and those that refuse to hear he casteth out of the Church as heathens and publicans, {cf. Matthew 18:17} and he putteth heretics under excommunication and anathema, and layeth down his own life for the sheep. {cf. John 10:11} From which it is manifest, that without contradiction the Bishop differeth from the simple Priest, and that without him all the Priests in the world could not exercise the pastorate in the Church of God, or govern it at all.

But it is well said by one of the Fathers, that it is not easy to find a heretic that hath understanding. For when these forsake the Church, they are forsaken by the Holy Spirit, and there remaineth in them neither understanding nor light, but only darkness and blindness. For if such had not happened to them, they would not have opposed things that are most plain; among which is the truly great mystery of Episcopacy, which is taught <130> by Scripture, written of, and witnessed to, both by all Ecclesiastical history and the writings of holy men, and always held and acknowledged by the Catholic Church.


We believe to be members of the Catholic Church all the Faithful, and only the Faithful; who, forsooth, having received the blameless Faith of the Saviour Christ, from Christ Himself, and the Apostles, and the Holy Œcumenical Synods, adhere to the same without wavering; although some of them may be guilty of all manner of sins. For unless the Faithful, even when living in sin, were members of the Church, they could not be judged by the Church. But now being judged by her, and called to repentance, and guided into the way of her salutary precepts, though they may be still defiled with sins, for this only, that they have not fallen into despair, and that they cleave to the Catholic and Orthodox faith, they are, and are regarded as, members of the Catholic Church.


We believe the Catholic Church to be <131> taught by the Holy Spirit. For he is the true Paraclete; whom Christ sendeth from the Father, {cf. John 25:26} to teach the truth, {cf. John 26:13} and to drive away darkness from the minds of the Faithful. The teaching of the Holy Spirit, however, doth not immediately, but through the holy Fathers and Leaders of the Catholic Church, illuminate the Church. For as all Scripture is, and is called, the word of the Holy Spirit; not that it was spoken immediately by Him, but that it was spoken by Him through the Apostles and Prophets; so also the Church is taught indeed by the Life-giving Spirit, but through the medium of the holy Fathers and Doctors (whose rule is acknowledged to be the Holy and Œcumenical Synods; for we shall not cease to say this ten thousand times); and, therefore, not only are we persuaded, but do profess as true and undoubtedly certain, that it is impossible for the Catholic Church to err, or at all be deceived, or ever to choose falsehood instead of truth. For the All-holy Spirit continually operating through the holy Fathers and Leaders faithfully ministering, delivereth the Church from error of every kind. <132>


We believe a man to be not simply justified through faith alone, but through faith which worketh through love, that is to say, through faith and works. But [the notion] that faith fulfilling the function of a hand layeth hold on the righteousness which is in Christ, and applieth it unto us for salvation, we know to be far from all Orthodoxy. For faith so understood would be possible in all, and so none could miss salvation, which is obviously false. But on the contrary, we rather believe that it is not the correlative of faith, but the faith which is in us, justifieth through works, with Christ. But we regard works not as witnesses certifying our calling, but as being fruits in themselves, through which faith becometh efficacious, and as in themselves meriting, through the Divine promises {cf. 2 Corinthians 5:10} that each of the Faithful may receive what is done through his own body, whether it be good or bad, forsooth.


We believe man in falling by the [original] <133> transgression to have become comparable and like unto the beasts, that is, to have been utterly undone, and to have fallen from his perfection and impassibility, yet not to have lost the nature and power which he had received from the supremely good God. For otherwise he would not be rational, and consequently not man; but to have the same nature, in which he was created, and the same power of his nature, that is free-will, living and operating. So as to be by nature able to choose and do what is good, and to avoid and hate what is evil. For it is absurd to say that the nature which was created good by Him who is supremely good lacketh the power of doing good. For this would be to make that nature evil — than which what could be more impious? For the power of working dependeth upon nature, and nature upon its author, although in a different manner. And that a man is able by nature to do what is good, even our Lord Himself intimateth, saying, even the Gentiles love those that love them. {Matthew 5:46; Luke 6:32} But this is taught most plainly by <134> Paul also, in Romans chap. i. [ver.] 19, {Rather chap. ii., ver. 14. JNWBR} and elsewhere expressly, saying in so many words, “The Gentiles which have no law do by nature the things of the law.” From which it is also manifest that the good which a man may do cannot forsooth be sin. For it is impossible that what is good can be evil. Albeit, being done by nature only, and tending to form the natural character of the doer, but not the spiritual, it contributeth not unto salvation thus alone without faith, nor yet indeed unto condemnation, for it is not possible that good, as such, can be the cause of evil. But in the regenerated, what is wrought by grace, and with grace, maketh the doer perfect, and rendereth him worthy of salvation.

A man, therefore, before he is regenerated, is able by nature to incline to what is good, and to choose and work moral good. But for the regenerated to do spiritual good — for the works of the believer being contributory to salvation and wrought by supernatural grace are properly called spiritual — it is necessary that he be guided and prevented by grace, as hath been said in treating of predestination; <135> so that he is not able of himself to do any work worthy of a Christian life, although he hath it in his own power to will, or not to will, to co-operate with grace.


We believe that there are in the Church Evangelical Mysteries [i.e., Sacraments of the Gospel Dispensation], and that they are seven. For a less or a greater number of the Mysteries we have not in the Church; since any number of the Mysteries other than seven is the product of heretical madness. And the seven of them were instituted in the Sacred Gospel, and are gathered from the same, like the other dogmas of the Catholic Faith. For in the first place our Lord instituted Holy Baptism by the words, “Go ye and make disciples of all the nations, baptising them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit;” {Matthew 28:19} and by the words, “He that believeth and is baptised shall be saved, but he that disbelieveth shall be condemned.” {Mark 16:16}

And that of Confirmation, that is to say, <136> of the Holy Myron or Holy Chrism, by the words, “But ye — tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.” {Luke 24:49} With which they were endued by the coming of the Holy Spirit, and this the Mystery of Confirmation signifieth; concerning which Paul also discourseth in the Second Epistle to the Corinthians, chap. i., and Dionysius the Areopagite more explicitly.

And the Priesthood by the words, “This do ye for My Memorial;” {Luke 22:19} and by the words, “Whatsoever ye shall bind and loose upon the earth shall be bound and loosed in the heavens.” {Matthew 18:18}

And the unbloody Sacrifice by the words, “Take, eat ye; This is My Body;” {Matthew 26:26; Mark 14:22; and cf. Luke 22:19; 1 Corinthians 2:24} and, “Drink ye all of It; This is My Blood of the New Testament;” {Matthew 26:27; and cf. Mark 14:24; Luke 22:20; 1 Corinthians 2:25} and by the words, “Except <137> ye eat the Flesh of the Son of Man, ye have not life in yourselves.” {John 6:53}

And Marriage, when, having recited the things which had been spoken thereof in the Old [Testament], He, as it were, set His seal thereto by the words, “Those whom God hath joined together, let not man put asunder,” {Matthew 19:6} and this the divine Apostle also calleth a great Mystery. {Ephesians 5:32}

And Penance, with which is joined sacramental confession, by the words, “Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained”; {John 22:23} and by the words, “Except ye repent, ye shall [all] likewise perish.” {Luke 13:3,5} And lastly, the Holy Oil or Prayer-Oil is spoken of in Mark, {Mark 6:13} and is expressly witnessed to by the Lord’s brother. {James 5:14}

And the Mysteries consist of something natural, and of something supernatural; and are not bare signs of the promises of God. For then they would not differ from circumcision — than which [notion] what could be <138> worse? And we acknowledge them to be, of necessity, efficient means of grace to the receivers. But we reject, as alien to Christian doctrine, the notion that the integrity of the Mystery requireth the use of the earthly thing [i.e., dependeth upon its reception]; for this is contrary to the Mystery of the Offering [i.e., the Sacrament of the Eucharist], which being instituted by the Substantial Word, and hallowed by the invocation of the Holy Spirit, is perfected by the presence of the thing signified, to wit, of the Body and Blood of Christ. And the perfecting thereof necessarily precedeth its use. For if it were not perfect before its use, he that useth it not aright could not eat and drink judgment unto himself; {1 Corinthians 11:26,28,29} since he would be partaking of mere bread and wine. But now, he that partaketh unworthily eateth and drinketh judgment unto himself; so that not in its use, but even before its use, the Mystery of the Eucharist hath its perfection. Moreover, we reject as something abominable and pernicious the notion that when faith is weak the integrity of the Mystery is impaired. For heretics who abjure their <139> heresy and join the Catholic Church are received by the Church; although they received their valid Baptism with weakness of faith. Wherefore, when they afterwards become possessed of the perfect faith, they are not again baptised.


We believe Holy Baptism, which was instituted by the Lord, and is conferred in the name of the Holy Trinity, to be of the highest necessity. For without it none is able to be saved, as the Lord saith, “Whosoever is not born of water and of the Spirit, shall in no wise enter into the Kingdom of the Heavens.” {John 3:5} And, therefore, it is necessary even for infants, since they also are subject to original sin, and without Baptism are not able to obtain its remission. Which the Lord shewed when he said, not of some only, but simply and absolutely, “Whosoever is not born [again],” which is the same as saying, “All that after the coming of Christ the Saviour would enter into the Kingdom of the Heavens must be <140> regenerated.” And forasmuch as infants are men, and as such need salvation; needing salvation, they need also Baptism. And those that are not regenerated, since they have not received the remission of hereditary sin, are, of necessity, subject to eternal punishment, and consequently cannot without Baptism be saved; so that even infants ought, of necessity, to be baptised. Moreover, infants are saved, as is said in Matthew; {Matthew 19:12} but he that is not baptised is not saved. And consequently even infants must of necessity be baptised. And in the Acts {Acts 8:12; 16:33} it is said that the whole houses were baptised, and consequently the infants. To this the ancient Fathers also witness explicitly, and among them Dionysius in his Treatise concerning the Ecclesiastical Hierarchy; and Justin in his fifty-sixth Question, who saith expressly, “And they are vouchsafed the benefits of Baptism by the faith of those that bring them to Baptism.” And Augustine saith that it is an Apostolical tradition, that children are saved through Baptism; and in another place, “The Church giveth to babes <141> the feet of others, that they may come; and the hearts of others, that they may believe; and the tongues of others, that they may promise;” and in another place, “Our mother, the Church, furnisheth them with a particular heart.”

Now the matter of Baptism is pure water, and no other liquid. And it is performed by the Priest only, or in a case of unavoidable necessity, by another man, provided he be Orthodox, and have the intention proper to Divine Baptism. And the effects of Baptism are, to speak concisely, firstly, the remission of the hereditary transgression, and of any sins whatsoever which the baptised may have committed. Secondly, it delivereth him from the eternal punishment, to which he was liable, as well for original sin, as for mortal sins he may have individually committed. Thirdly, it giveth to such immortality; for in justifying them from past sins, it maketh them temples of God. And it may not be said, that any sin is not washed away through Baptism, which may have been previously committed; but to remain, though not imputed. For <142> that were indeed the height of impiety, and a denial, rather than a confession of piety. Yea, forsooth, all sin existing, or committed before Baptism, is blotted out, and is to be regarded as never existing or committed. For the forms of Baptism, and on either hand all the words that precede and that perfect Baptism, do indicate a perfect cleansing. And the same thing even the very names of Baptism do signify. For if Baptism be by the Spirit and by fire, {Matthew 3:11} it is manifest that it is in all a perfect cleansing; for the Spirit cleanseth perfectly. If it be light, {Hebrews 6:4} it dispelleth the darkness. If it be regeneration, {Titus 3:5} old things are passed away. And what are these except sins? If the baptised putteth off the old man, {Colossians 3:9} then sin also. If he putteth on Christ, {Galatians 3:27} then in effect he becometh free from sin through Baptism. For God is far from sinners. This Paul also teacheth more plainly, saying: “As through one [man] we, being many, were made sinners, so through one [are we made] righteous.” {Romans 5:19} And if righteous, then free from sin. For it is not <143> possible for life and death to be in the same [person]. If Christ truly died, then remission of sin through the Spirit is true also. Hence it is evident that all who are baptised and fall asleep while babes are undoubtedly saved, being predestinated through the death of Christ. Forasmuch as they are without any sin; — without that common [to all], because delivered therefrom by the Divine laver, and without any of their own, because as babes they are incapable of committing sin; — and consequently are saved. Moreover, Baptism imparteth an indelible character, as doth also the Priesthood. For as it is impossible for any one to receive twice the same order of the Priesthood, so it is impossible for any once rightly baptised, to be again baptised, although he should fall even into myriads of sins, or even into actual apostacy from the Faith. For when he is willing to return unto the Lord, he receiveth again through the Mystery of Penance the adoption of a son, which he had lost.


We believe the All-holy Mystery of the Sacred Eucharist, which we have enumerated <144> above, fourth in order, to be that which our Lord delivered in the night wherein He gave Himself up for the life of the world. For taking bread, and blessing, He gave to His Holy Disciples and Apostles, saying: “Take, eat ye; This is My Body.” {Matthew 26:26} And taking the chalice, and giving thanks, He said: “Drink ye all of It; This is My Blood, which for you is being poured out, for the remission of sins.” {Matthew 26:28} In the celebration whereof we believe the Lord Jesus Christ to be present, not typically, nor figuratively, nor by superabundant grace, as in the other Mysteries, nor by a bare presence, as some of the Fathers have said concerning Baptism, or by impanation, so that the Divinity of the Word is united to the set forth bread of the Eucharist hypostatically, as the followers of Luther most ignorantly and wretchedly suppose, but truly and really, so that after the consecration of the bread and of the wine, the bread is transmuted, <145> transubstantiated, converted and transformed into the true Body Itself of the Lord, Which was born in Bethlehem of the ever-Virgin {Mary ELC}, was baptised in the Jordan, suffered, was buried, rose again, was received up, sitteth at the right hand of the God and Father, and is to come again in the clouds of Heaven; and the wine is converted and transubstantiated into the true Blood Itself of the Lord, Which as He hung upon the Cross, was poured out for the life of the world. {John 6:51}

Further [we believe] that after the consecration of the bread and of the wine, there no longer remaineth the substance of the bread and of the wine, but the Body Itself and the Blood of the Lord, under the species and form of bread and wine; that is to say, under the accidents of the bread.

Further, that the all-pure Body Itself, and Blood of the Lord is imparted, and entereth into the mouths and stomachs of the communicants, <146> whether pious or impious. Nevertheless, they convey to the pious and worthy remission of sins and life eternal; but to the impious and unworthy involve condemnation and eternal punishment.

Further, that the Body and Blood of the Lord are severed and divided by the hands and teeth, though in accident only, that is, in the accidents of the bread and of the wine, under which they are visible and tangible, we do acknowledge; but in themselves to remain entirely unsevered and undivided. Wherefore the Catholic Church also saith: “Broken and distributed is He That is broken, yet not severed; Which is ever eaten, yet never consumed, but sanctifying those that partake,” that is worthily.

<147> Further, that in every part, or the smallest division of the transmuted bread and wine there is not a part of the Body and Blood of the Lord — for to say so were blasphemous and wicked — but the entire whole Lord Christ substantially, that is, with His Soul and Divinity, or perfect God and perfect man. So that though there may be many celebrations in the world at one and the same hour, there are not many Christs, or Bodies of Christ, but it is one and the same Christ that is truly and really present; and His one Body and His Blood is in all the several Churches of the Faithful; and this not because the Body of the Lord that is in the Heavens descendeth upon the Altars; but because the bread of the Prothesis set forth in all the several Churches, being changed and transubstantiated, becometh, and is, after consecration, one and the same with That in the Heavens. For it is one Body of the Lord in many places, and not many; and therefore this Mystery is the greatest, and is spoken of as wonderful, and comprehensible by faith only, and not by the sophistries of man’s wisdom; whose vain and foolish curiosity <148> in divine things our pious and God-delivered religion rejecteth.

Further, that the Body Itself of the Lord and the Blood That are in the Mystery of the Eucharist ought to be honoured in the highest manner, and adored with latria. For one is the adoration of the Holy Trinity, and of the Body and Blood of the Lord. Further, that it is a true and propitiatory Sacrifice offered for all Orthodox, living and dead; and for the benefit of all, as is set forth expressly in the prayers of the Mystery delivered to the Church by the Apostles, in accordance with the command they received of the Lord.

Further, that before Its use, immediately after the consecration, and after Its use, What is reserved in the Sacred Pixes for the communion of those that are about to depart [i.e. the dying] is the true Body of the Lord, and not in the least different therefrom; so <149> that before Its use after the consecration, in Its use, and after Its use, It is in all respects the true Body of the Lord.

Further, we believe that by the word “transubstantiation” the manner is not explained, by which the bread and wine are changed into the Body and Blood of the Lord, — for that is altogether incomprehensible and impossible, except by God Himself, and those who imagine to do so are involved in ignorance and impiety, — but that the bread and the wine are after the consecration, not typically, nor figuratively, nor by superabundant grace, nor by the communication or the presence of the Divinity alone of the Only-begotten, transmuted into the Body and Blood of the Lord; neither is any accident of the bread, or of the wine, by any conversion or alteration, changed into any accident of the Body and Blood of Christ, but truly, and really, and substantially, doth the bread become the true Body Itself of the Lord, and the wine the Blood Itself of the Lord, as is said above. Further, that this Mystery of the Sacred Eucharist can be performed by none other, <150> except only by an Orthodox Priest, who hath received his priesthood from an Orthodox and Canonical Bishop, in accordance with the teaching of the Eastern Church. This is compendiously the doctrine, and true confession, and most ancient tradition of the Catholic Church concerning this Mystery; which must not be departed from in any way by such as would be Orthodox, and who reject the novelties and profane vanities of heretics; but necessarily the tradition of the institution must be kept whole and unimpaired. For those that transgress the Catholic Church of Christ rejecteth and anathematiseth.


We believe that the souls of those that have fallen asleep are either at rest or in torment, according to what each hath wrought; — for when they are separated from their bodies, they depart immediately either to joy, or to sorrow and lamentation; though confessedly neither their enjoyment, nor condemnation are complete. For after the common resurrection, when the soul shall be united with the body, with which it had behaved <151> itself well or ill, each shall receive the completion of either enjoyment or of condemnation forsooth.

And such as though envolved in mortal sins have not departed in despair, but have, while still living in the body, repented, though without bringing forth any fruits of repentance — by pouring forth tears, forsooth, by kneeling while watching in prayers, by afflicting themselves, by relieving the poor, and in fine {in summation ELC} by shewing forth by their works their love towards God and their neighbour, and which the Catholic Church hath from the beginning rightly called satisfaction — of these and such like the souls depart into Hades, and there endure the punishment due to the sins they have committed. But they are aware of their future release from thence, and are delivered by the Supreme Goodness, through the prayers <152> of the Priests, and the good works which the relatives of each do for their Departed; especially the unbloody Sacrifice availing in the highest degree; which each offereth particularly for his relatives that have fallen asleep, and which the Catholic and Apostolic Church offereth daily for all alike; it being, of course, understood that we know not the time of their release. For that there is deliverance for such from their direful condition, and that before the common resurrection and judgment we know and believe; but when we know not.


Ought the Divine Scriptures to be read in the vulgar tongue by all Christians?

No. For that all Scripture is divinely-inspired and profitable {cf. 2 Timothy 3:16} we know, and is of such necessity, that without the same it is impossible to be Orthodox at all. Nevertheless they should not be read by all, but only by those who with fitting research have inquired <153> into the deep things of the Spirit, and who know in what manner the Divine Scriptures ought to be searched, and taught, and in fine read. But to such as are not so exercised, or who cannot distinguish, or who understand only literally, or in any other way contrary to Orthodoxy what is contained in the Scriptures, the Catholic Church, as knowing by experience the mischief arising therefrom, forbiddeth the reading of the same. So that it is permitted to every Orthodox to hear indeed the Scriptures, that he may believe with the heart unto righteousness, and confess with the mouth unto salvation; {Romans 10:10} but to read some parts of the Scriptures, and especially of the Old [Testament], is forbidden for the aforesaid reasons and others of the like sort. For it is the same thing thus to prohibit persons not exercised thereto reading all the Sacred Scriptures, as to require infants to abstain from strong meats.


Are the Scriptures plain to all Christians that read them?

If the Divine Scriptures were plain to all <154> Christians that read them, the Lord would not have commanded such as desired to obtain salvation to search the same; {John 5:39} and Paul would have said without reason that God had placed the gift of teaching in the Church; {1 Corinthians 13:28} and Peter would not have said of the Epistles of Paul that they contained some things hard to be understood. {2 Peter 3:16} It is evident, therefore, that the Scriptures are very profound, and their sense lofty; and that they need learned and divine men to search out their true meaning, and a sense that is right, and agreeable to all Scripture, and to its author the Holy Spirit.

So that as to those that are regenerated [in Baptism], although they must know the faith concerning the Trinity, the incarnation of the Son of God, His passion, resurrection, and ascension into the heavens, what concerneth regeneration and judgment — for which many have not hesitated to die — it is not necessary, but rather impossible, that all should know what the Holy Spirit manifesteth to those alone who are exercised in wisdom and holiness. <155>


What Books do you call Sacred Scripture?

Following the rule of the Catholic Church, we call Sacred Scripture all those which Cyril {Lucar ELC} collected from the Synod of Laodicea, and enumerated, adding thereto those which he foolishly, and ignorantly, or rather maliciously called Apocrypha; to wit, “The Wisdom of Solomon,” “Judith,” “Tobit,” “The History of the Dragon,” “The History of Susanna,” “The Maccabees,” and “The Wisdom of Sirach.” For we judge these also to be with the other genuine Books of Divine Scripture genuine parts of Scripture. For ancient custom, or rather the Catholic Church, which hath delivered to us as genuine the Sacred Gospels and the other Books of Scripture, hath undoubtedly delivered these also as parts of Scripture, and the denial of these is the rejection of those. And if, perhaps, it seemeth that not always have all been by all reckoned with the others, yet nevertheless these also have been counted and reckoned with the rest of Scripture, as well by Synods, as by how many of the most <156> ancient and eminent Theologians of the Catholic Church; all of which we also judge to be Canonical Books, and confess them to be Sacred Scripture.


How ought we to think of the Holy Eikons, and of the adoration of the Saints?

The Saints being, and acknowledged by the Catholic Church to be, intercessors, as hath been said in Eighth Chapter {sic; Decree VIII above ELC}, it is time to say that we honour them as friends of God, and as praying for us to the God of all. And the honour we pay them is twofold; — according to one manner which we call hyperdulia, we honour the Mother of God the Word. For though indeed the Theotokos {Mary ELC} be servant of the only God, yet is she also His Mother, as having borne in the flesh one of the Trinity; wherefore also is she hymned, as being beyond compare, above as well all Angels as Saints; wherefore, also, we pay her the adoration of hyperdulia. But according to the other <157>manner, which we call dulia, we adore, or rather honour, the holy Angels, Apostles, Prophets, Martyrs, and, in fine, all the Saints. Moreover, we adore and honour the wood of the precious and life-giving Cross, whereon our Saviour underwent this world-saving passion, and the sign of the life-giving Cross, the Manger at Bethlehem, through which we have been delivered from irrationality, {In allusion to the manger out of which the irrational animals eat their food. JNWBR} the place of the Skull [Calvary], the life-giving Sepulchre, and the other holy objects of adoration; as well the holy Gospels, as the sacred vessels, wherewith the unbloody Sacrifice is performed. And by annual commemorations, and popular festivals, and sacred edifices and offerings; we do respect and honour the Saints. And then we adore, and honour, and kiss the Eikons of our Lord Jesus Christ, and of the most holy Theotokos, and of all the Saints, also of the holy Angels, as they appeared to some of the Forefathers and Prophets. We also represent the All-holy Spirit, as He appeared, in the form of a dove.

<158> And if some say we commit idolatry in adoring the Saints, and the Eikons of the Saints, and the other things, we regard it as foolish and frivolous. For we worship with latria the only God in Trinity, and none other; but the Saints we honour upon two accounts: firstly, for their relation to God, since we honour them for His sake; and for themselves, because they are living images of God. But that which is for themselves hath been defined as of dulia. But the holy Eikons [we adore] relatively since the honour paid to them is referred to their prototypes. For he that adoreth the Eikon doth, through the Eikon, adore the prototype; and the honour paid to the Eikon is not at all divided, or at all separated from that of him that is pourtrayed, and is done unto the same, like that done unto a royal embassy.

And what they adduce from Scripture in support of their novelties, doth not help them as they would, but rather appeareth agreeable to us. For we, when reading the Divine Scriptures, examine the occasion and person, <159> the example and cause. Wherefore, when we contemplate God Himself saying at one time, “Thou shalt not make to thyself any idol, or likeness; neither shalt thou adore them, nor serve them;” {Exodus 20:4,5; Deuteronomy 5:8,9} and at another, commanding that Cherubim should be made; {Exodus 25:18} and further, that oxen and lions {1 Kings 7:29} were placed in the Temple, we do not rashly consider the import of these things. For faith is not in assurance; but, as hath been said, considering the occasion and other circumstances, we arrive at the right interpretation of the same; and we conclude that, “Thou shalt not make to thyself any idol, or likeness,” is the same as saying, “Thou shalt not adore strange Gods,” {Exodus 20:4} or rather, “Thou shalt not commit idolatry.” For so both the custom obtaining in the Church from Apostolic times of adoring the holy Eikons relatively is maintained, and the worship of latria reserved for God alone; and God doth not appear to speak contrarily to Himself. For if the Scripture <160> saith [absolutely], “Thou shalt not make,” “Thou shalt not adore,” we fail to see how God afterwards permitted likenesses to be made, even though not for adoration. Wherefore, since the commandment concerneth idolatry only, we find serpents, and lions, and oxen, and Cherubim made, and figures and likenesses; among which Angels appear, as having been adored.

And as to the Saints whom they bring forward as saying, that it is not lawful to adore Eikons; we conclude that they rather help us; since they in their sharp disputations inveighed, as well against those that adore the holy Eikons with latria, as against those that bring the eikons of their deceased relatives into the Church, and subjected to anathema those that so do; but not against the right adoration, either of the Saints, or of the holy Eikons, or of the precious Cross, or of the other things of which mention hath been made; especially since the holy Eikons have been in the Church, and have been adored by the Faithful, even from the times of the Apostles, as is recorded and proclaimed by very many; with whom and after whom the Seventh Holy <161> Œcumenical Synod putteth to shame all heretical impudence.

Since it giveth us most plainly to understand that it behoveth to adore the Holy Eikons, and what have been mentioned above. And it anathematiseth, and subjecteth to excommunication, as well those that adore the Eikons with latria as those that say that the Orthodox commit idolatry in adoring the Eikons. We also, therefore, do anathematise with them such as adore either Saint, or Angel, or Eikon, or Cross, or Relic of Saints, or sacred Vessel, or Gospel, or aught else that is in heaven above, or aught on the earth, or in the sea, with latria; and we ascribe adoration with latria to the only God in Trinity. And we anathematise those that say that the adoration of Eikons is the latria of Eikons, and who adore them not, and honour not the Cross, and the Saints, as the Church hath delivered.

Now we adore the Saints and the Holy Eikons, in the manner declared; and pourtray them in adornment of our temples, and that they may be the books of the unlearned, and for them to imitate the virtues of the Saints; <162> and for them to remember, and have an increase of love, and be vigilant in ever calling upon the Lord, as Sovereign and Father, but upon the Saints, as his servants, and our helpers and mediators.

And so much as to the Chapters and Questions of Cyril. But the heretics do find fault with even the prayers of the pious unto God, for we know not why they should calumniate those of the Monks only. Moreover, that prayer is a conversation with God, and a petitioning for such good things as be meet for us, from Him of whom we hope to receive, an ascent too of the mind unto God, and a pious expression of our purpose towards God, a seeking what is above, the support of a holy soul, a worship most acceptable to God, a token of repentance, and of steadfast hope, we do know; and prayer is made either with the mind alone, or with the mind and voice; thereby engaging in the contemplation of the goodness and mercy of God, of the unworthiness of the petitioner, and in thanksgiving, and in realising the promises attached to obedience to God. And it is accompanied by faith, and hope, <163> and perseverance, and observance of the commandments; and, as already said, is a petitioning for heavenly things; and it hath many fruits, which it is needless to enumerate; and it is made continually, and is accomplished either in an upright posture, or by kneeling. And so great is its efficacy, that it is acknowledged to be both the nourishment and the life of the soul. And all this is gathered from Divine Scripture; so that if any ask for demonstration thereof, he is like a fool, or a blind man, who disputeth about the sun’s light at the hour of noon, and when the sky is clear. But the heretics, wishing to leave nothing unassailed that Christ hath enjoined, carp at this also. But being ashamed thus openly to impiously maintain as much concerning prayer, they do not forbid it to be made at all, but are distributed at the prayers of the Monks; and they act thus, that they may raise in the simple-minded a hatred towards the Monks; so that they may not endure even the sight of them, as though they were profane and innovators, much less allow the dogmas of the pious and Orthodox faith to be taught by them. For the adversary is <164> wise as to evil, and ingenious in inventing calumnies. Wherefore his followers also — such as these heretics especially — are not so much anxious about piety, as desirous of ever involving men in an abyss of evils, and of estranging them into places, which the Lord taketh not under his care. {cf. Deuteronomy 11:12}

They should be asked therefore, what are the prayers of the Monks; and if they can shew that the Monks do anything entirely different from themselves, and not in accordance with the Orthodox worship of Christians, we also will join with them, and say, not only that the Monks are no Monks, but also no Christians. But if the Monks set forth particularly the glory and wonders of God, and continually, and unremittingly, and at all times, as far as is possible for man, proclaim the Diety, with hymns and doxologies; now singing, forsooth, parts of Scripture, and now gathering hymns out of Scripture, or at least giving utterance to what is agreeable to the same; we must acknowledge that they perform a work apostolical and prophetical, or rather that of the Lord.

<165> Wherefore, we also, in singing the Paracletikê, the Triodion, and the Menæon, perform a work in no wise unbecoming Christians. For all such Books discourse of the Diety as one, and yet of more than one personality, and that even in the Hymns; now gathered out of the Divine Scriptures, and now according to the direction of the Spirit; and in order that in the melodies, the words may be paralleled by other words, we sing parts of Scripture; moreover, that it may be quite plain that we always sing parts of Scripture, to every one of our Hymns, called a Troparion, we add a verse of Scripture. And <166> if we sing, or read the Thecara [Threasury], or other prayers composed by the Fathers of old; let them say what there is in these which is blasphemous, or not pious, and we with them will prosecute these [Monks].

But if they say this only, that to pray continually and unremittingly is wrong, what have they to do with us? Let them contend with Christ — as indeed they do contend — who spake the parable of the unjust judge, {Luke 28:2} how that prayer should be made continually; and taught us to watch and pray, {Mark 13:33} in order to escape trials, and to stand before the Son of man. {Luke 21:36} Let them contend with Paul, [who] in the [5th] Chapter {verse 17 JNWBR} of the First [Epistle] <167> to the Thessalonians, and elsewhere in many places [exhorteth to pray unremittingly]. I forbear to mention the divine leaders of the Catholic Church, from Christ until us; for to put these [heretics] to shame sufficeth the accord of the Forefathers, Apostles, and Prophets concerning prayer.

If, therefore, what the Monks do is what the Apostles and Prophets did; and, we may say, what the holy Fathers and Forefathers of Christ Himself did; it is manifest that the prayers of the Monks are fruits of the Holy Spirit, the giver of graces. But the novelties which the Calvinists have blasphemously introduced concerning God and divine things, perverting, mutilating, and abusing the Divine Scriptures, are sophistries and inventions of the devil.

Unavailing too is the assertion, that the Church cannot, without violence and tyranny, appoint fasts and abstinence from certain meats. For the Church for the mortification of the flesh and all the passions, and acting most rightly, carefully appointeth prayer and fasting, of which all the Saints have been <168> lovers and examples; through which our adversary the devil {cf. 1 Peter 5:8} being overthrown by the grace from on high, together with his armies and his hosts — the race {cf. 2 Timothy 4:7} that is set before the pious is the more easily accomplished. In making these provisions the undefiled {cf. Ephesians 5:27} Church everywhere useth neither violence nor tyranny; but exhorteth, admonisheth, and teacheth, in accordance with Scripture, and persuadeth by the power of the Spirit.

And to what hath been mentioned a certain fellow at Charenton — we mean the beforementioned {page 6 ELC} Claud — addeth certain other ridiculous objections against us, and unworthy of any consideration; but what hath been said by him we regard as idle tales; and the man himself we consider as a trifler and altogether illiterate. For from [the time of] Photius what vast numbers have there been, and there are now, in the Eastern Church, eminent for wisdom, and theology, and holiness, by the power of the Spirit. And it is most absurd [to argue] that <169> because certain of the Eastern Priests keep the Holy Bread in wooden vessels, within the Church, but without {outside ELC} the Bema, {sanctuary JNWBR} hung on one of the columns; that, therefore, they do not acknowledge the real and true transmutation of the bread into the Body of the Lord. For that certain of the poor Priests do keep the Lord’s Body in wooden vessels, we do not deny; for truly Christ is not honoured by stones and marbles; but asketh for a sound purpose and a clean heart.

And this is what happened to Paul. “For we have,” {2 Corinthians 4:7} saith he, “the treasure in earthern {sic ELC} vessels.” But where particular Churches able, as with us here in Jerusalem, the Lord’s Body is honourably kept within the Holy Bema of such Churches, and a seven-light lamp always kept burning before it.

And I am tempted to wonder, if it may be that the heretics have seen the Lord’s Body hanging in some Churches without the Bema, because perhaps the walls of the Bema were unsafe on account of age, and so have arrived at these absurd conclusions; but they did not notice Christ pourtrayed on the <170> apse of the Holy Bema as a babe [lying] in the Paten; so that they might have known, how that the Easterns do not represent that there is in the Paten a type, or grace, or aught else, but the Christ Himself; and so believe that the Bread of the Eucharist is naught else, but becometh substantially the Body Itself of the Lord, and so maintain the truth.

But concerning all these things it hath been treated at large and most lucidly in what is called The Confession of the Eastern Church, by George, of Chios, from Coresius in his [Treatises] concerning the Mysteries, and of predestination, and of grace, and of free-will, and of the intercession and adoration of Saints, and of the adoration of Eikons, and in the Refutation composed by him of the illicit Synod of the heretics holden on a certain occasion in Flanders, and in many other [Treatises]; by Gabriel, of Peloponnesus, Metropolitan of Philadelphia; and by Gregory Protosyncellus of Chios in his [Treatises] concerning the Mysteries; by Jeremias, the Most Holy Patriarch <171> of Constantinople, in three dogmatic and Synodical Letters to the Lutherans of Tubingen in Germany; by John, Priest, and Economus of Constantinople, surnamed Nathaniel; by Meletius Syrigus, of Crete, in the Orthodox Refutation composed by him of the Chapters and Questions of the said Cyril {Lucar ELC}; by Theophanes, Patriarch of Jerusalem, in his dogmatic Epistle to the Lithuanians, and in innumerable other [Epistles]. And before these hath it been spoken most excellently of these matters by Symeon, of Thessalonica, and before him by all the Fathers, and by the Œcumenical Synods, by ecclesiastical historians too; and even by writers of secular history under the Christian Autocrats of Rome, have these matters been mentioned incidently {sic ELC}; by all of whom, without any controversy, the aforesaid were received from the Apostles; whose traditions, whether by writing, or by word, have through the Fathers descended until us. Further, the argument derived from the heretics also confirmeth the aforesaid. For the Nestorians after the year of Salvation, 428, the Armenians too, and the Copts, and the <172> Syrians, and further even the Ethiopians, who dwell at the Equator, and beyond this towards the tropics of Capricorn, whom those that are there commonly call Campesii, after the year … {The date is wanting in the text. JNWBR} of the Incarnation broke away from the Catholic Church; and each of these hath as peculiar only its heresy, as all know from the Acts of the Œcumenical Synods. Albeit, as concerning the purpose and number of the Sacred Mysteries, and all what hath been said above — except their own particular heresy, as hath been said — they entirely believe with the Catholic Church; as we see with our own eyes every hour, and learn by experience and conversation, here in the Holy City of Jerusalem, in which there either dwell, or are continually sojourning, vast numbers of them all, as well learned, such as they have, as illiterate.

Let, therefore, prating and innovating heretics keep silence, and not endeavour by stealing some sentences, [as] against us, from the Scriptures and the Fathers, to cunningly bolster up falsehood, as all apostates and heretics have ever done; and let them say <173> this one thing only, that in contriving excuses {cf. Psalm 140:4} for sins they have chosen to speak wickedness against God, {cf. Psalm 74:6} and blasphemies against the Saints.


Let us briefly suffice for the reputation of the falsehoods of the adversaries, which they have devised against the Eastern Church, alleging in support of their falsehoods the incoherent and impious Chapters of the said Cyril {Lucar ELC}. And let it not be for a sign to be contradicted {cf. Luke 2:34} of those heretics that unjustly calumniate us, as though they spake truly; but for a sign to be believed, that is for reformation of their innovations, and for their return to the Catholic and Apostolic Church; in which their forefathers also were of old, and assisted at those Synods and contests against heretics, which these now reject and revile. For it was unreasonable on their part, especially as they considered themselves to be wise, to have listened to men that were lovers of self; and profane, and that spake not from the Holy Spirit, but from the prince of lies, <174> and to have forsaken the Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, which God hath purchased with the Blood of His own Son; {cf. Acts 20:28} and to have abandoned her. For otherwise there will overtake those that have separated from the Church the pains that are reserved for heathens and publicans; but the Lord who hath ever protected her against all enemies, will not neglect the Catholic Church; to Him be glory and dominion unto the ages of the ages. Amen.

In the year of Salvation 1672, on the 16th [day] of the month of March, in the Holy City of Jerusalem: —

I, DOSITHEUS, by the mercy of God, Patriarch of the Holy City of Jerusalem and of all Palestine, declare and confess this to be the faith of the Eastern Church.

{Chapter VI. concludes with more than five full pages of signatories, omitted here. ELC}

The Confession of Dositheus is a “major pronouncement” and “an important source of Church teaching”, according to Basic Sources of the Teachings of the Eastern Orthodox Church, at the website of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America:

The purpose of this Confession of Dositheos, Patriarch of Jerusalem, also was to oppose the Roman and Calvinistic influences. It expresses the orthodox spirit of faith in 18 dogmas, with four questions. This Confession was issued in 13 editions in a short period of time. It is considered one of the major pronouncements of the Orthodox Faith, and an important source of Church teaching.

It is “the most authoritative and complete doctrinal deliverance of the modern Greek Church” on the issues raised by Calvinism, according to Are Protestantism and Roman Catholicism Heretical? at the Orthodox Christian Information Center:

The Confessio Dosithei presents, in eighteen decrees or articles, a positive statement of the orthodox faith. It follows the order of Cyril’s Confession, which it is intended to refute. It is the most authoritative and complete doctrinal deliverance of the modern Greek Church on the contoverted [sic] articles. It was formally transmitted by the Eastern Patriarchs to the Russian Church in 1721, and through it to certain Bishops of the Church of England, as an ultimatum to be received without further question or conference by all who would be in communion with the Orthodox Church.

Dositheus is a “great teacher” of the Church, according to Tradition in the Orthodox Church, at the website of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America and elsewhere:

There are the writings and Confessions of Faith written by great teachers of the Church during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Examples might include the letter of Mark of Ephesus (1440-1441) to all Orthodox Christians; the correspondence of Patriarch Jeremiah II of Constantinople with the German Reformers (1573-1581); the council of Jerusalem (1672) and the Confession of Faith by Patriarch Dositheos of Jerusalem (1672), and the writings of St. Nicodemos of the Holy Mountain, who published the Rudder, a book of great canonical and theological importance (1800).

About Fr. Stephen Freeman

Fr. Stephen is a retired Archpriest of the Orthodox Church in America, Pastor Emeritus of St. Anne Orthodox Church in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. He is also author of Everywhere Present: Christianity in a One-Storey Universe, and Face to Face: Knowing God Beyond Our Shame, as well as the Glory to God podcast series on Ancient Faith Radio.





158 responses to “Calvinism As Heresy”

  1. Sea of Sin Avatar

    Father what prompted this post, other than Met Jonah comments? The post seems a bit uncharacteristic.

  2. J-anglican Avatar

    I do not think Calvinism makes God the cause of Evil. This is a misunderstanding of Calvin’s teaching, which is mostly a restatement of Augustine’s.

  3. StephenElijah Avatar


    Could you elaborate some on the interpretation of Question 1, forbidding the reading of the Old Testament in certain circumstances, and the like? I know you’ve written a great deal outlining how we must read the Scriptures with the mind of the Fathers and the Church, which I understand and agree with, but to outright forbid individual study of parts of the Bible confuses me. I’m sure I must be misunderstanding his meaning myself.

  4. fatherstephen Avatar


    I was interested in the Met’s comments and was looking for stuff on the topic – and came across this material from the council. I thought others might be interested in seeing what, exactly, Orthodoxy has to say about Calvinism (and also wondered what a Calvinist would make of it). Sometimes what one tradition says of another is not what the other would say of themselves. Suppose I was fishing.

    I might add that I find this council to be one of the least “Orthodox” councils that I can recall. I do not mean that there is error – but rather that the questions tend to control the answers. Thus, the questions having been put by the questions of Calvinism, the council speaks about topics that are not common within Orthodoxy, and in a manner, that though correct, are not part of the common speech of the Church’s liturgical and conciliar life.

    To a certain extent, the Council witnesses to the beginnings of the “Western Captivity” of the Church. This “captivity” does not keep the Church from witnessing to the truth, but draws the Church into a conversation that might better be left alone, or addressed in a different manner. Thus, Western style catechisms, in my experience, seem to fall flat as an expression of the Orthodox faith. It’s not that they are false – but that they are odd (at least to me).

    The problems with Calvinism, I suspect, are actually on a deeper level than the particulars addressed by the council. But, this is very hard to put into words, much less state in a conciliar form.

  5. fatherstephen Avatar


    This is part of what interested in me in posting this. Frequently there are subtleties within a tradition that are not seen from outside and wondered if this played much of a part in the Council of Jerusalem.

  6. Wonders for Oyarsa Avatar

    The problems with Calvinism, I suspect, are actually on a deeper level than the particulars addressed by the council.

    This seems true to me. I think I would say that the root of the problem with Calvinism is placing the “sovereignty of God” as the doctrine above all doctrines, without that sovereignty first being redefined through the cross. God’s rule is thus understood in a way akin to “the lords of the gentiles” and Jesus’ words about the kingdom of God are relativised. I think this is the root from which springs all the other deficiencies.

  7. Sea of Sin Avatar

    It is a problematic redefinition of the Faith. Divorced from Apostolic Tradition reason ultimately trumps revelation, good intentions and claims of adherence to Scripture notwithstanding.

  8. fatherstephen Avatar

    And this is the weakness of the Council. In the history of the Church, the most significant statements of the faith viz. the refutation of heresy have come at the end of a period of reflection and debate (although it came before and after with Arianism). And in most cases represented first, very significant work often by a single father or a few. Thus the Council normatively is almost a ratification rather than the complete refutation itself.

    I think of St. Athanasius, St. Basil and St. Gregory the Theologian, St. Cyril of Jerusalem, St. Leo, St. Maximus the Confessor, St. Theodore the Studite, St. John of Damascus, and others. The deeper analysis (such as the dominance of the Sovereignty of God) would have allowed the Council to possibly say less and affirm the faith in a more consonant manner rather than simply argue on foreign grounds.

    Of course, having said that, the Council did right to use the best skills it had to answer a serious problem. And it is worth noting that they did not simply pick out Calvinism and attack it. A Patriarch of Constantinople had embraced Calvinist thought after studying in Europe. It was to correct his false teachings that the Council spoke. Orthodoxy has sure had an interesting history.

  9. Joseph Patterson Avatar

    There are some Calvinist who believe God created evil as part of the demonstrating of the “Glory of God”. See Jay Adam’s book “The Grand Demonstration”as a good example. RC Sproul Jr holds the same view and has written a book about it, but I don’t know the title.

  10. fatherstephen Avatar

    I was unaware of this. It would be viewed as a very heretical opinion by the Orthodox faith. Sorry to hear it.

  11. Karen Avatar

    Dear Father, bless! Thanks for posting this interesting material. (I’m joyfully anticipating Met. Jonah’s visit to my parish for Vespers next month, which I just learned about!)

    Wonders, good observation. That rings true to me as well. I come from a Wesleyan (Methodist) background, and so during my decades as an evangelical, Calvinist-leaning emphases about the nature of grace and the implications of God’s sovereignty always struck me as overstated and even scared me and turned me off (because of the distortion in the understanding of the character and motivation of God). I believe David Bentley Hart is right when he writes in *The Doors of the Sea* that the Calvinist-inspired beliefs of those most angered by his Orthodox convictions about the relationship between God’s will and suffering/natural disaster, are at at their root ultimately not the worship of the God revealed in the face of Christ on the Cross, but the worship of raw Power. (Perhaps I’ll look up that quote and post it later.)

    In becoming Orthodox, it comforts me to see that my roots prepared me for this. In the years before I became Orthodox, it was probably the Calvinist elements in evangelicalism that were driving me for refuge into the embrace of the Orthodox Church more than anything else.

  12. David Avatar

    Strangely enough it was Calvinism that led me to Orthodoxy. More particularly, my then obsession in internet-debates of which Calvinists were often the most prolific.

    It was a rejection of those debates and all the -isms included that released me from what I believe to be an intellectual prison and allowed me to walk East.

  13. Alice C. Linsley Avatar

    I have published some of Calvin’s ideas on Genesis here:

    I do not comment on his thoughts (as that it not the purpose of the post), but I will say that Genesis and Holy Tradition do not support much of what he says. He uses Genesis polemically to bash the Roman Catholic Church.

  14. derek Avatar

    I quote from a booklet on the “Gospel and Theology” of a local parish – Southern Baptist in theology (i.e. thoroughly reformed), yet heavily toned with “emergent” sensibilities – which is provided to individuals seeking membership. This booklet helped me realize I was not bound for membership in said parish:

    VIII. God’s complete control over Calamity and Evil
    Of course, you may be less concerned about the sovereignty of God in the areas mentioned above [i.e. over the heavens, the earth, “chance events,” and nations], and more concerned about how God can be in control of evil and calamity. Before looking at specific texts that address this concern, it might be helpful to reflect on what has already been shown. God is Creator, Sustainer and Director of nature and nations. Calamity and evil are often only subsets of these more broadly defined areas. How could God be controller of the nations and not the king who makes war? Or how could God direct the earth, but not the earthquake? Or uphold the very fabric of the universe but be completely unconnected to the explosion of a terrorist’s bomb?

  15. fatherstephen Avatar

    I have to say, by the way, that I’ve been enjoyed reading on your Genesis blog. The material on the genealogical material was fascinating.

  16. Wonders for Oyarsa Avatar

    How could God be controller of the nations and not the king who makes war? Or how could God direct the earth, but not the earthquake? Or uphold the very fabric of the universe but be completely unconnected to the explosion of a terrorist’s bomb?

    How indeed! The mystery of the cross again…

  17. Guy (Theodotus) Avatar
    Guy (Theodotus)

    On the problem of evil and Calvinists;
    RC Sproul Jr, unlike his father has caused some discussion. Here is a discussion of a Calvinist on Calvinist (RC Sproul Jr.). I have not read either book, but the thought that God created evil is indeed heretical.


    This does beg the question of what is evil? Is it not simply the absence of Good? Evil is not a substance that can be handled as such (in my mind) but more of a description of a state of affairs. I think, Father, you have discussed this elsewhere at length.

  18. fatherstephen Avatar

    I have been reading lately in Fr. Meletios Webber’s Bread, Water, Wine, Oil which has interesting things to say about God as Power. I think the cross is the only way the we can approach and understand the power of God. In every other scenario, the power of God is simply drawn as similar to any other power only bigger. Of course, this is simply false and leads not to salvation but to our destruction.

  19. Greg Avatar

    Really useful. Is there a web resource that tracks active Orthodox-Anglican dialogue? I have never quite been able to figure out given all the problems in the Anglican communion why union with an Orthodox patriarch hasn’t been a top option for large parts of the communion – especially given the existence of a western rite option.

  20. Marcus Avatar

    from Decree III:

    “We believe the most good God to have from eternity predestinated unto glory those whom He hath chosen, and to have consigned unto condemnation those whom He hath rejected; but not so that He would justify the one, and consign and condemn the other without cause”

    I’m quite confused and little uneasy about this sentence. It seems like predestination but not. Could someone help me with this? I thought there was no official teaching about predestination/freewill dichotomy in the Church. It seems to just alter Calvinistic predestination a little.

  21. Marcus Avatar

    n/m about previous comment, after reading the rest more closely I find:

    “And we understand the use of free-will thus, that the Divine and illuminating grace, and which we call preventing grace, being, as a light to those in darkness, by the Divine goodness imparted to all, to those that are willing to obey this — for it is of use only to the willing, not to the unwilling — and co-operate with it, in what it requireth as necessary to salvation, there is consequently granted particular grace; which, co-operating with us, and enabling us, and making us perseverant in the love of God, that is to say, in performing those good things that God would have us to do, and which His preventing grace admonisheth us that we should do, justifieth us, and maketh us predestinated. But those who will not obey, and co-operate with grace; and, therefore, will not observe those things that God would have us perform, and that abuse in the service of Satan the free-will, which they have received of God to perform voluntarily what is good, are consigned to eternal condemnation.”

    There seems to be a tension here. In the first post the decrees claims to say that God predestined from eternity, but here it seems as though we are made predestined through co-operation with God. Could anyone help me sort out the meaning here?

  22. fatherstephen Avatar

    The weakness in the council’s statement comes in the very topic of predestination, which is not normally a large formal part of Orthodox thought. But the sense it is giving is that predestination is not something that overrides human free will, but rather our cooperation with God’s grace makes effectual the grace that is given to us and “maketh us predestinated” meaning, conforms us to God’s eternal purpose for man, i.e. salvation.

    I think the treatment by this council is less nuanced than the writings of many of the Fathers. There is a small book by Met. Kallistos Ware entitled, “How Are We Saved?” that is probably the shortest and clearest treatment of the various topics on salvation that I know. If you find it, you can read it in an hour or so and it will make these things much clearer.

  23. fatherstephen Avatar


    There are many obstacles. One that is not often mentioned is the fact that there is a large number of divorced and remarried Anglican clergy, and widowed and remarried clergy, who would not be canonically acceptable for ordination in the Orthodox Church. Thus there are subtle pressures not to head in this direction.

  24. Ad Orientem Avatar

    Yikes! I think that this deals with the issues of predestination versus preordination. The major differences being free will. Fr. Stephen will correct me if I am wrong (which I very well could be).

    In ICXC

  25. Ad Orientem Avatar

    ooops I forgot the hit refresh. I see the question has already been dealt with…

  26. Karen Avatar

    In *The Doors of the Sea* David Bentley Hart writes in his critique of Calvinist rigorism (using the characters of Dostoyevsky’s *Brothers Karamazov* to illustrate the Orthodox perspective):

    “The moral rationality of Ivan’s rebellion [against a God Who permits the suffering of an innocent] remains entirely unassailable, however, when it is set against those forms of theological fatalism that, having failed to understand the difference between primary and secondary — or transcendant and immanent — causality, defame the love and goodness of God out of servile and unhealthy fascination with his ‘dread sovereignty’ . . . .

    “The curious absurdity of such all such doctrines is that, out of a pious anxiety to defend God’s transcendence against any scintilla of genuine creaturely freedom, they threaten effectively to collapse that transcendence into absolute identity — with the world, with us, with the devil. For, unless the world is truly set apart from God and possesses a dependent but real liberty of its own analogous to the freedom of God, everything is merely a fragment of divine volition, and God is simply the totality of all that is and all that happens; there is no creation, but only an oddly pantheistic expression of God’s unadulterated power.”

    In contrast, he describes the Orthodox understanding (of the necessity of drawing a sharp distinction between divine will and divine permission):

    “For, after all, if it is from Christ that we are to learn how God relates himself to sin, suffering, evil, and death, it would seem that he provides us little evidence of anything other than a regal, relentless, and miraculous enmity; sin he forgives, suffering he heals, evil he casts out, and death he conquers. And absolutely nowhere does Christ act as if any of these things are part of the eternal work or purposes of God.”

    To that, all I can say is AMEN! 🙂

  27. fatherstephen Avatar

    Evil is a perversion of the will – a movement away from God – and nothing more.

  28. Alice C. Linsley Avatar

    I’m so glad that Metropolitan Jonas spelled out many of the differences that separate Anglican from Orthodox. That clarity is so important because many Anglicans self-identify only in reference to the Latin Church.

    Also, in thinking about God’s power revealed in the mystery of the Cross, are we not exploring here the Pleromic Blood that gives life to the world and restores that life? This presents a unified reality for all humanity, versus the dualism of Calvin. This would imply also that sin, evil and the devil place His Blood as the primary target. We humans who are sealed by His Blood can expect to be targeted.

  29. fatherstephen Avatar

    Pleromic Blood – I like the phrase. Do you have more on that?

  30. Sea of Sin Avatar

    So we speak of the heresy of Calvinism. Does this mean Calvinists are heretics?

  31. fatherstephen Avatar

    That’s a more complicated question. To be a heretic, technically, implies a willful knowledge and rejection of the truth. That many follow a heretical teaching is a different matter. In becoming Orthodox, one has to renounce certain false doctrines (including certain points of Calvinism) as a part of the rite of being accepted into the faith. At that point, I think, one might recognize oneself as having been a heretic and repent. I did so as an Anglican coming into Orthodoxy, for instance, specifically renouncing the heresy of the so-called “branch theory of the Church.”

  32. David Avatar

    I was glad to make my renunciations. I thought I wouldn’t be, but I can say that was definitely a blessed moment where the great burden of self-sufficiency was taken from me:

    Dost thou renounce the erroneous belief that in our Lord Jesus Christ there are not two natures, Divine and human, but one only; the human nature being swallowed up by the Divine?

    I do.

    Dost thou renounce the erroneous belief that of the teachers who do not accept as Sacraments Chrismation, Marriage, Anointing with Oil, and the Priesthood itself, which administereth the other Sacraments, and presume to administer Baptism and the Eucharist, never having received, through the laying-on of hands by a Bishop, that Ordination which hath been transmitted from one to another, even from the holy Apostles?

    I do.

    Dost thou renounce the erroneous belief of the teachers who receive no the traditions of the Holy Church, reverence not the Saints, and deprive the dead of spiritual aid and the living of spiritual consolation, in that they reject prayers for the dead?

    I do.

    Dost thou renounce the erroneous belief that in the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist the bread and wine are not transmuted into the Body and Blood of Christ, and are merely emblems of the Body and Blood of Christ?

    I do.

    That last one, most of all.

  33. Sea of Sin Avatar

    Thank you Father that is a helpful distinction.

  34. Matthew Markovich Avatar
    Matthew Markovich

    Father Stephen Bless!
    I have been wondering about Patriarch Cyril Lucarius
    For many years after reading a biography of him by a protestant who thought his attempts to Calvinize the Orthodox Church was wonderful. I didn’t agree .
    I just odered the Robertson book from which has been newly printed and is available in both Hardcover and paperback.
    Thank You.

  35. David Di Giacomo Avatar
    David Di Giacomo

    Is there somewhere I can read a transcript of Metropolitan Jonah’s talk with the Anglicans that you refer to?

  36. fatherstephen Avatar

    I’ll find it and post the link. I’ve just checked and as far as I can tell, it has not yet been posted anywhere.

  37. Occidental gazing Orient Avatar
    Occidental gazing Orient

    Bet you didn’t know!

    Cyril Lucar’s brother Mark was baptized by English Particular Baptist, William Kiffin. The title “Particular” refers to the Calvinistic doctrine of Particular Redemption. Kiffin (1616-1701) was one of the most influential pastors of the early Baptists. Lucar eventually left England and went to America to help Dr. John Clarke (1609-1676), co-founder of Rhode Island colony, pastor the second Baptist congregation in America.

  38. Fr Ronald Avatar
    Fr Ronald

    The Holy Orthodox Church is blessed to have such an energetic and passionate young hierarch. Faithful Anglicans all over should be thankful for his graciousness in being with us in Bedford, and take his words with utmost seriousness. I know I am. I have rarely seen a finer example of boldly speaking the (often offensive) truth in genuine love. A true Apostolic man. Glory to God!

  39. Ron Henzel Avatar

    “Evil is a perversion of the will – a movement away from God – and nothing more.”

    And nothing less.

  40. fatherstephen Avatar

    Yes, in the course of history we have seen just what a perversion of the will can do.

  41. CAL Avatar

    This article by George Conger isn’t the transcript to Met. Jonah’s talk, but it does have some direct quotes and sums up pretty well the content of his address:

  42. Gene B Avatar
    Gene B

    I have worked with a “reformed” Calvinist for 14 years now and only now do I understand the fundamental difference between Calvinism and Orthodoxy.

    The biggest division that Calvinism has wrought on the Christian world is the practical outcome of this teaching, which leads to two irreconcilable world views. For the true Calvinist, he is predestined to enter the Kingdom, and all that he seems around him is God’s will, including all that is bad. Everything is according to God’s Plan. There’s not much to do other than be a part of God’s plan in order to realize your own salvation, because you are predestined to heaven no matter what happens here on Earth.

    But this also means the following: that God has his hand predetermining everything – the political systems, elections, the money systems – just about everything. Yet we know as Orthodox that Satan is the prince of this world, and that God allows sin as he respects our free will. This is much different than saying that it is God’s will. Often forgotten are the prophetic words of our holy elders that have warned us about these modern times, showing us that they are the result of sin, apostasy and of course Satan and his servants. As Christians we are called to be wise and be different, recognizing the power of sin over us and fearing the Lord. The full understanding of this condition is preserved only in Orthodoxy. This is simply lost with a Calvinistic outlook.

    This brings up another point, that modern Orthodox don’t talk enough about Satan. But this is another point.

  43. David Avatar

    I have to disagree a small bit Gene. With Calvinism one can never know that one is of the elect. Someone asked Spurgeon once why didn’t he just preach to the elect and he made some statement about them wearing shirts that made it clear who they were. (forgive me if I’ve gotten the particulars of this off, I can’t find my original reference to this)

    I flirted with Calvinism and found nothing but despair the more I approached it. Even the harshest words from Orthodoxy’s most pious Fathers, no toll-booth or icon of ladders surrounded with demons frightened me like the arbitrary and unknowable will of a God who’s glory was increased by His cruelty as much as His mercy.

  44. geoconger Avatar

    While Metropolitan Jonah did have some hand written notes with him, the majority of the speech appeared to have been an extemporaneous presentation. Until the video is transcribed, I don’t believe a formal transcript will be forthcoming.

    However, my notes from his speech … which did not make it into the final story were as follows:

    Jonah said:

    What will it take for a full ecumenical reconciliation? For that is what I seek by being her to us today …. That is God’s call to us … by being transformed, renewed in our minds, surrender to god, bearing witness to that new life in Christ. That takes us beyond the immorality of this world.

    Our unity in faith has to come to the point where it can celebrated together in the sacrament of the Eucharist.

    How do we get there … I am formally proposing the creation of a new dialogue between the OCA and the new Anglican province of North America. (standing ovation 2)

    The Orthodox Church is not only the past of Anglicanism but it is the future.

    There are some issues though, we have to resolve … face head on ….(laughter)

    Remnants of the past, parts of history that have crept into the Anglican tradition, and this is the way back.

    First … full affirmation of the orthodox faith of the apostles and the fathers … the seven ecumenical councils. … This will take some scholarly sorting of what has come after … but what is the mind of the church that has been given to the church by the holy spirit.

    Return the creed to its original form … remove the addition of the council of Toledo … the filoque

    I hope also that through this process, a greater opening for understanding of both of our traditions for one another

    I’m from California, hey.

    We share the hope of a full ecumenical reconciliation and relationship with the catholic church, however we are of one mind that we reject the papal ecclesiology, papal infallibility, and some of the accretions, the dogmas surrounding the ever Virgin Mary. We love the most pure mother of god, but I think that we have to remember what is right and decent and in order. It is only by the repeal of such doctrines that there will ever be any reconciliation between the Roman Church and the orthodox church.

    Calvinism is a condemned heresy. Not talking about Calvin personally, but the movement…[discourse on Seventeenth Century Synod of Jerusalem]

    Other heresies …anti-sacramentalism that sweeps certain forms of evangelical Christianity. If somebody doesn’t believe that ordination is a sacrament, they have never experienced ordination.

    We have to reject iconoclasm …

    For a full restoration … this is hard … and intercommunion, the issue of the ordination of women has to be resolved. In the 70’s when the Anglican church began to ordain women, the orthodox broke off relations over this issue … any ecumenical relationship was moved from a movement towards unity to a mutual understanding …we want to go back to unity.

    I believe in women’s ministry … they have a critical role, but I do not believe it is in the presbyterate and the episcopacy …universal position of the Greek Orthodox, Roman Catholic and non Chalcedonian churches.

    The negative side is ordination, the positive side is finding the right context for women’s ministry .. this is critical for the Anglican Church and the Orthodox church.

    Please do not think there is any misogyny here. Not a bit. But it is an important issue.

    One hundred years ago, St Tikhon came to the Anglican Church with arms wide open. I am the successor of St Tikhon, I occupy the place, the throne that St Tikhon held as the leader of the OCA. Our arms are wide open …. Third standing ovation

    George Conger (Church of England Newspaper)

  45. Sea of Sin Avatar

    Not opposed to dialogues, but one wonders the purpose and possible positive outcome of these type of events.

    I believe Met. Jonah went into “evangelism” mode: this seems to amount to nothing less but an appeal and invitation for this Anglican group to convert (albeit one has to read between the lines – let those who have ears hear). Or, is it possible to remain Anglican and be Orthodox at the same time? I think not.

    Hopefully many of the ACNA will take Met Jonah’s invitation, renounce the heresy of Via Media, and come into the Church.

  46. CAL Avatar


    I think that when you get the chance to hear or read Met. Jonah’s exact words, you’ll hear something more than “evangelism mode.” To these ears, his address was much more generous. What I heard was not a call for Anglicans to lay down their tradition and become Eastern Rite, but that their tradition would be restored to the Great Tradition–what he said is the core of our common faith. There’s no doubt, though: he called the Anglicans to task, repentance and sacrifice. However, I didn’t get the sense that meant they should abandon ship entirely. I believe the changes he proposed would result in a meaningful rebirth of Western Orthodoxy. Will the ACNA take him up on it? I guess we’ll see what the dialog produces.

  47. Sea of Sin Avatar


    I did not mean to take away any generosity; I do not understand evangelism to be ungenerous, either in general nor specifically as (I believe) Met. Jonah used it. I was not at this meeting, I am only reflecting on the way things have been reported.

    The contention that the Anglican tradition can be “restored”, as if it lost something, is a key question. I understand your position.

    So, what good is dialogue? It becomes misleading real quick. Is the ACNA ready to convert to Orthodoxy? No? We must acknowledge our differences and go our separate ways in love.

    The devil’s in the details, we all know.

    Been there, done that. 🙂

  48. fatherstephen Avatar

    Knowing the Metropolitan personally, I would think your characterization is fairly accurate. 🙂

  49. fatherstephen Avatar


    Interestingly, the Metropolitan, at least in smaller conversations, has expressed some reservations about the Western Rite, or at least seems to be among the many Orthodox who see it as a problematic question (as did Fr. Alexander Schmemann of blessed memory). There is a question as to whether the fullness of tradition can be restored in what turns out to be (or can be) a fairly academic exercise. Time will tell. Orthodoxy is not of a single mind on the Western Rite question – though it exists and is in full communion with Orthodoxy (Antioch has the largest number, though I believe that ROCOR has a Western Rite as well). St. Tikhon seems to have thought that it was possible. But I am not sure that Met. Jonah was ultimately suggesting a Western Rite. I think he was suggesting a willingness to sit down and begin the process of serious discussions and stated some minimums that would never change. The minimums can be studied but not changed. Other things become the grist for discussion. But, of course, I only speak for myself and how I am understanding his remarks.

  50. CAL Avatar

    It’s true, dialog is only beneficial to a point, and it is a point that quickly diminishes. What His Beatitude proposed wasn’t merely dialog, but dialog as a beginning. Something worth considering: for the ACNA to make a shift of this magnitude, a shift Met. Jonah believes is possible under certain conditions (I have to believe he thinks it possible, otherwise he wouldn’t have said anything at all), it will take a lot of time and tears and, yes, talking. Remember the group of Campus Crusade staff turned house church leaders, Fr. Peter Gillquist et al? If my memory serves me correctly, it took them nearly 15 years to move into Orthodoxy. Nobody’s saying that this group of Anglicans is ready today to become Orthodox. But we have to start somewhere. For my part, I’m praying to that end.

  51. CAL Avatar

    Thank you for the correction, Father. I didn’t mean to suggest he proposed the Western Rite as we know it today. Perhaps I misunderstood, but in his remarks about what is to be praised about Anglicanism, I heard him calling Anglicans back to the core Tradition (weren’t those words he used, “core”? I could be mistaken) without, necessarily, becoming Eastern Rite.

  52. Alice C. Linsley Avatar

    Anglicans will find unity only when they fully embrace Holy Tradition.

  53. CAL Avatar

    Here is a link to the video of Met. Jonah speaking (54 minutes long) for anyone that wants to hear from His Beatitude’s mouth.

  54. Clement Avatar

    Father Bless!
    I am a devoted reader and have learned much from your writings and am grateful for your ministry. I pray for you daily in the Divine Office. Thank You for posting this.

    I hope that I will not be too far off topic with this comment nor do I mean to create any contention but since the Metropolitan’s comments did include a reference to women’s ordination, I would humbly offer my own thoughts on this and would be blessed to read your response.

    Firstly, I am not an Anglican and I am not defending their position. Nor do I think that the Orthodox Church and Roman Catholic Church should ordain women just because some think that they ought to.
    But what intrigues me is that this issue is so divisive and I do not see a reason that it should be.

    I can certainly see and do not deny that the Priesthood is essential to the ministration of the other Mysteries, most especially, the Most Holy Eucharist, but to say that the Mystery of Holy Orders, strictly speaking and in and of itself, is essential to salvation would end up meaning that no one could be saved without being ordained, which is of course, silly.

    Further, if it is so that, “Where the bishop is there is the church” this would imply a certain autocephalous character and jurisdictional authority to each bishop, which is the conciliar model.

    If this is so, then in matters not strictly essential to the economy of salvation, why could not a particular bishop be free to follow his conscience and the consensus of his people (assuming that were the case) and ordain a woman to serve as presbyter within – and only within – the confines of his own diocese/parish.
    No other bishop, no other diocese or parish or person would be required to recognize this.

    I think perhaps it is that so many are repulsed by the idea of women presbyters because all they see as representing it are the extreme feminist/lesbian sort. And this is most unfortunate.

    There are many holy, qualified women upon whom the Spirit has placed a valid call to priestly vocation who are orthodox in faith, moral, liturgical practice, theology, etc, but must make the difficult choice of either denying what they know in their heart God has called them to in order to come into The Church or be obedient to the knowledge of God in their heart, live out that call and be considered outside The Church at best and a heretic at worst.

    Let me say here that I am very familiar with the theological arguments both pro and con and am not trying to create a debate.

    Nor is it a matter of “fairness” or “equality” (I could care less about either). Just pointing out that it is a heart-wrenching matter for some.

    It is my constant hope that in Christ we can at least love alike even if we don’t think alike.

    +Clement, OCB

  55. Fr Ronald Avatar
    Fr Ronald


    I pray Fr Stephen will forgive me for cutting in to offer a thought on a question addressed to him.

    It seems to me that an answer to your question can be approached from the perspective of the catholicity, the universality of the Church. There is one priesthood, that of Christ Jesus, and sacramentally it is in the Bishop that the fullness of that priesthood is found. Priests share in that priesthood in communion with their Bishop. As the Episcopate is universal, so is the priesthhod. Thus, while bishops are consecrated to serve a particular diocese, they consecrated *as* bishops of the whole Church. Thus priests are ordained as priests of the one Church. The idea, of course, is that their ministry is to be recognized and received wherever the Church is found. “Local option,” with regard to woman’s ordination, sacrifices catholicity for the sake of the particular. If a woman can truly be a priest in one Diocese, then she ought to be able to serve in any Diocese. Either women can priests anywhere, or nowhere. Any other way is actually sexist and discriminatory, as it admits women as “priests” but then places limits upon them not placed on men. Better in my view to hold fast to the Tradition which is universally held than mess with the catholicity of soemthing as important as the Holy Mysteries, without which we have no life within us.

    Just my unsolicited and audaciously offered two pence:-)

    Forgive me.

  56. Fr Ronald Avatar
    Fr Ronald

    BTW, didn’t think I was sharing something you didn’t already know, but when I get typing it’s like stream of conciousness…

  57. fatherstephen Avatar

    Fr. Clement,

    Thank you for your kind remarks, and most especially for your prayers.

    For me the argument from Tradition (it has not been done) is important, and, the iconological argument (priest as icon of Christ), as well. There are, of course, many women who are holy, devout, gifted – what man would ever dare compare himself to the Theotokos? And yet the Theotokos did not fulfill nor seek the office of priest or bishop nor was it asked of her. We have regular readers (and commenters) on the website who are Orthodox women who gave up Anglican orders and accepted lay status in order to embrace the Orthodox faith. I would be interested in a response to your question from one or more of them. I hold them in high regard for their conversion entailed a sacrifice I was not asked to make (though I would have accepted lay status in order to be Orthodox – no promise of ordination was given to me in my reception into the Church).

    But a priest is never just an extension of a single bishop – they are ordained into the one priesthood of Christ – which is universal. The local Church is never simply a reflection of the conscience of its bishop – but – in Orthodox understanding – there is a unity of faith – each bishop must answer to the Synod to which he belongs (the life of the Church is always conciliar).

    While the Body and Blood of Christ are given to us as bread and wine (or however I should properly phrase that) not all bread is appointed by the Church to be used in the sacrament. There is a proper way for bread to be baked and a proper recipe (for instance it must be leavened bread). Wine is used and not grape juice or some other alcoholic liquid. Could it be otherwise? Such speculation does not properly belong to the realm of theology. Could the universe be other than it is? These are not proper Orthodox questions.

    The one priesthood of Christ is participated in by the whole Body (the priesthood of all believers) and yet it is sacramentally manifest in the ordination of some men (not all men, but some men). There are requirements that make some men unsuitable. Priesthood is never a matter of self-fulfillment or realization. It is a matter of servanthood asked of some men. And there are many who will cease to meet the requirements and be removed from the priesthood (this is not uncommon in Orthodoxy).

    It is hard to articulate the iconological “argument” – that the priest is an icon of Christ (whom we do not picture as a woman). Some counter that Christ was 33 years old and a Jew, etc., and seek to dismiss the iconological argument by reducing it to absurdity. I have not found a suitable “rational” answer to such reductionism. But I know the iconological experience of the priesthood from both sides (both within the icon and from without). I find that experience to be personally more than convincing to me and to carry an experience of the faith that is, indeed, essential and not adiaphora.

    Part of that experience has to do with the context of worship in an iconic setting. The longer I have worshipped in the context of icons, the more certain I am of the iconological argument. I think that experience is something that separates Orthodox and many other Christians. Icons are not optional for Orthodox (after the 7th Council they become as essential as the Nicene Creed).

    I think that theological reasoning that seeks to answer these questions in a theoretical or abstract fashion has missed the point of theology. Using theological imagination, I could imagine the Church and everything else in some other manner. Most heresies are quite cogent. No one ever said that Calvinism (to use the present example) was less than cogent – God forbid. It may be too cogent.

    But theology is not abstract or theoretical – it content is the living experience of the true God. A proper question, for me, is not “is there a theoretical case for the ordination of women to the priesthood?” but rather “what is revealed to us in what we have been given?”

    Those are some of my thoughts – I hope they are helpful – or at least share my understanding in the matter.

    May we love as Christ loves.

  58. […] more here. Fr. Stephen, at his blog, provides the answer on why the Orthodox consider Calvinism as a […]

  59. Alice C. Linsley Avatar

    I never considered it a sacrifice when I set aside holy orders in the Episcopal Church in 2004. It felt like kicking off shoes that were painfully the wrong size. I’ve since become friends with 2 other women who were formerly “priests” in ECUSA and they also have found Orthodoxy to be the right fit.

    Since leaving TEC and the priesthood I have given this subject a great deal of thought, exploring the question of the priesthood from the perspective of cultural anthropology. I’m convinced that the priesthood is an eternal and unchanging heavenly ordinance (as Blessed St. John Chrysostom tells us). This office is so old that we can’t find a time when the priesthood didn’t exist, and from the first, the priesthood pertained only to men, and not even to all men, but to those of a fixed line. Using kinship analysis, I have traced that line from before the time of Abraham to Jesus Christ.

    As Father Stephen has written there is but one priesthood. It is the priesthood of Jesus Christ, and every authentic priest derives his authority from that one priesthood.

    If you are interested in reading more on the ontologically fixed nature of the priesthood you might start with these essays:

  60. Alice C. Linsley Avatar

    Leaving the Episcopal priesthood was like kicking off painful shoes, shoes that were made for someone else. I know that I am not alone in this feeling becaeu I have discussed it with 2 other women who were formerly ECUSA priests but are now at home in Orthodoxy.

    Since leaving the inauthentic priesthood in 2004 I have thought a good deal about the nature of the priesthood and believe it is an eternal ordinance (as Blessed St. John Chrysostom tells us). The priesthood is ontologically fixed as Christ’s nature is unchanging, since there is only one priesthood and it is that of Jesus Christ.

    My background is in cultural anthropology and so naturally I have applied that to a lengthy study of the nature and origins of the Priesthood. This office is so old that we can’t find a time when it did not exist. And it has always pertained to men, and not to all men, but to the lines of priests who were also rulers in and before Abraham’s time. Using kinship anallysis, I have traced the priesthood from before Abraham to Jesus Christ.

    You may read some of the research at Click on INDEX and scroll down to the headings: Blood symbolism and Priesthood.

  61. fatherstephen Avatar


    Thank you. I have now spent a part of my morning in the very fruitful activity of reading on your blog – and enjoyed a delightful conversation with my wife – occasioned by reading your stuff out loud to her. Joy.

  62. Alice C. Linsley Avatar

    Thank you, Father. I’m sorry about the duplicate comment. I’ve been having internet troubles (system wide with my provider in this area).

  63. MG Avatar


    I am concerned that the Council teaches against the consensus of the Fathers when it states “And those that are not regenerated, since they have not received the remission of hereditary sin, are, of necessity, subject to eternal punishment, and consequently cannot without Baptism be saved; so that even infants ought, of necessity, to be baptised.”

    What do you think?

  64. fatherstephen Avatar

    I think it is a weak council, to be read with the fathers and the whole of the tradition in mind…

    There are several forms of the one Baptism: there is the Baptism with water that we all know – there is the Baptism of blood (martyrdom) – there is the baptism of tears (the so-called second baptism when we repent of our sins) and there is also the baptism of desire – when we want to be baptised but have somehow been prevented. I’ll let God take care of the infants who are not baptized and trust that they are not consigned to punishment. But as I say, it is a weak council at points – drawn into a conversation for which I do not think they were well prepared.

  65. ASW Avatar

    Alice C.

    You are saying that the preisthood is reserved by blood kinship – ie. geneology. So how can there be priests not of the blood?

  66. fatherstephen Avatar

    Alice, of course, can answer for herself – but I was understanding her blood kinship to be referring to the priesthood as it was manifest before Christ (the levitical priesthood was certainly genealogical). I would then, of course, presume that the priesthood in Christ in manifest apart from genealogy.

  67. Alice C. Linsley Avatar

    The kinship analysis that I have done shows that the Son of God was born to the people who first received the Protevangelion. This means that God’s Word never fails, though it may take many millenium for us to see its fulfillment. The priesthood before Jesus’ Incarnation and after His Incarnation is of the same essence: It points to the Son of God who is the “Lamb of God” who takes away the sin of the world by the shedding of His Blood on the Cross. The authentic priesthood is manifest only in Jesus Christ. We can see this in retrospect and receive HIM by faith. The people of Abraham (his ancestors and his descendents) preserved their unique marriage pattern because they believed the Son of God would be born to their bloodline and they too received HIM by faith. This is the message of Hebrews chapter 11.

  68. ASW Avatar


    Where in Hebrews 11 does it say, by faith they kept thier bloodlines?

    Besides, if Faith is the hope of things not seen (Heb. 11:1), than a faith that needs to see human priests to represent the essence of Christ, is faithless to the unseen Christ. John 20:29; 1 Peter 1:8. Christ, himself, told us where to actually see Him: find Him in the least of these. Matthew 25:34-46.

  69. David Avatar

    Heb 11:1 is speaking of faith in the promise, not in Christ, who was very much seen by the Apostles and many others. Christ is the image of the Father. Part of the purpose of the incarnation was to reveal that which was hidden.

    We read back into Heb 11:1 Christ as unseen, because we didn’t live then. This is part of our modern tendency to make Christianity a proposition we ascent to, rather than a life we live.

    I know Christ in the liturgy (part of this is accomplished by the priest-as-icon). Faith of the sort you describe (whether or not Christ does or does not exist) seems out of place now that I’ve become Orthodox.

  70. Karen Avatar

    ASW, it seems to me that Alice is pointing to ancient semitic practices (preservation of bloodlines in certain marriage patterns), which is recorded in the OT, as evidence that the OT people of God believed the prophetic promises given to them by God (such as that given to Abraham and Sarah about their promised son and that to King David of an eternal heir to his throne, for example). IOW, there is practical evidence in the teachings and patterns followed in the OT that they believed what they had not yet seen come to pass would indeed come to pass. Hebrews 11 describes all sorts of things that the OT Saints DID and endured because of their belief in what they had not yet seen come to pass. I think the faith re: bloodlines Alice describes is implicit in Hebrews 11. After all, what else are the genealogies of Christ in the Gospels all about–why have these been preserved if not to ratify the faith of our spiritual ancestors in the OT and make it very clear to their descendants in the time of Christ that Jesus was the promised Messiah and fulfillment of the OT? Faith as hope in the unseen affects how we understand things and practice things in the present as well–otherwise it is not true biblical saving faith (see the epistle of James–saving faith always results in obedience to what God has revealed. I think it also would be correct to say He is pleased by this obedience of faith and accepts it as evidence that we believe what He has not yet shown us). When you say “a faith that NEEDS TO see human priests” (my emphasis), it seems to me you may have missed the point a bit. Alice’s point it seems to me is not that they needed to see human priests, but that the Scriptures prophetically point to Christ as THE Priest through the various types of the Priesthood encountered in the OT, and that the faithfulness of the OT saints in preserving the proper order of the Levitical priesthood (as a command given through Moses by God Himself) was their expression of faith that the essence of “Priesthood” is given by God and must follow the pattern He reveals and is not a merely human institution (though the Levitical priesthood was partial and provisional and only viable until it was fulfilled in Christ). Does this make sense?

  71. fatherstephen Avatar


    And yet, the Church has always had “priests” or “presbyters.” A wider reading in Scripture and in the Apostolic Fathers would yield more insight – it seems to me. The first “priestless” Christianity does not appear until the 16th century. I personally do not favor modernist versions of the faith.

  72. Alice C. Linsley Avatar

    Karen, that’s a very good explanation. Thanks.

    This conversation (a hot topic right now) is taking place here also:

    We must not overlook what the Bible tells us about “the order of Melchizedek”.

  73. tiffany Avatar

    I don’t think ASW said anything about whether the Chuirch had/has preists or not and whether you should approve things, Alice. Even with priests, if you need a priest to show you the essence of Christ, you don’t know Christ.

  74. fatherstephen Avatar

    On NT priesthood. Those who belong to “priestless” Churches, actually have no idea what the NT Church did, since their own churches have no historical continuity with the NT church. It’s not possible to simply work from the text of the NT and speculate about what kind of ministry they had. There is a single and solid tradition from the NT Church (Rome and Orthodoxy were one and in agreement then). There is no “priestless” Church professing the faith (let’s leave the heretics out of this) that is known to the pages of history in the early centuries. It does no good for someone to come along 1500 years later and start telling the Church what the NT ministry is about.

    The is the single priesthood of Christ – but it is made manifest in the ministry of the Church, in Bishops and Presbyters – in a sacramental manner. Those who deny this have passed over into make-believe Churches with which it is impossible to argue because they can make them up any way they want to. But there is a single Tradition received from the Apostles and it is quite clear as to the nature of a presbyter (priest). There is no particular argument over this in the writings of the early fathers.

  75. tiffany Avatar

    Sorry, Alice, that should be directed to Father.

  76. fatherstephen Avatar


    I would agree that knowledge of Christ is made known to us in the heart – no argument there. And yet we don’t know Christ apart from the means he has ordained to make Himself known: the Scriptures, the sacraments (including the priesthood); icons; the writings of the Fathers; the living witness of believers. We cannot divorce our knowledge of Christ from these things. But, I would suggest, that if you have had no experience of an earthly priest, you probably have no idea what it means to say that Christ is a Highpriest. We are not disembodied intellects. Had we been so, Jesus could have sent us a radio transmission. As it is, He gave us Apostles and Prophets, the Church, the Eucharist, Holy Baptism, the witness of His saints. It’s His idea – take them away and there is no New Testament and, I suspect, no knowledge of Christ. Indeed, I would suggest that there is no true knowledge of Christ except as He makes Himself known (which always includes the company of a great cloud of witnesses, etc.). There is no knowledge of Christ “apart from His Body” which Scripture calls, “the fullness of Him who filleth all in all.”

    There is a “culture Christ” preached by those who wish to divorce Him from the Church. But there is so much error mixed in this “new Christ” that I hardly no where to begin. We can find no such ‘Churchless’ Christ in the pages of Scripture.

  77. Sea of Sin Avatar

    Fr. Stephen,

    “We are not disembodied intellects. Had we been so, Jesus could have sent us a radio transmission.” 🙂 🙂

    That made me ROFLOL. No disrespect to Tiffany, it just made me laugh.

    I did a fair amount of (private) contemplation on this very subject. What better time for Christ to have been born in the world than now? Miracles could have been televised, live no less; documentaries created, investigative journalism working overtime to spread the news! Worldwide, the masses instantly could have seen His works with billions of people witnessing the same undeniable events. The instant impact around the globe immeasurable. Why did He not reveal Himself now? Does He not know?

    He does everything for a reason with purpose and design. Even the timing and the method.

  78. tiffany Avatar

    “Had we been so, Jesus could have sent us a radio transmission.”

    Much better than AM/FM father, we have been sent the Holy Spirit!

  79. Alice C. Linsley Avatar

    And the Holy Spirit testifies with the Water and the Blood. These 3 together bear witness to Christ our God. Where do we find this in the New Testament? I John 5:8: “There are three that bear witness on earth: the Spirit, the water, and the blood; and these three agree as one.”

    And where do we find this unified testimony to Christ, the Son of God in real time? John baptized Jesus with water and the Trinity was manifested.

    Then there is the witness of the priest Simeon at Jesus’ Dedication. The symbol of the priest is always Blood. And joined to the witness of the Priest is the testimony of the Prophetess Anna, who by the Spirit, “spoke of HIM to all those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem.” (Luke 2:38)

    Jesus and the Apostle Paul speak of only two dispensations: the old and the new. The sign of the Old Covenant is the blood of lambs and the sign of the New Covenant is the Blood of The Lamb. None can be saved by the blood of animals (regardless how unblemished). God’s provision of the Christ Lamb makes it clear that blood is the essential life-giving and life-redeeming substance, but not the blood of beasts. So the two dispensations speak of blood and contrast the efficacy of the blood of sacrificed animals and the Blood of the Sacrificed Christ.

    The historical nexus of the dispensations is the point in time when the three witnesses give consistent and unified testimony to Christ’s appearing and His identity. (The number three in Genesis always represents unity.) The Witnesses are the blood (represented by the Priest Simeon), the water (represented by the Baptizer John) and the Spirit (represented by the Prophetess Anna). Note the message of each witness: Simeon said that his eyes had beheld the fulfillment of the promise to Israel. John pointed to Jesus and called Him the “Lamb of God” and Anna spoke of Jesus to all in Jerusalem who were awaiting salvation.

    John points to the Three Witnesses when he writes: “Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God. This is the one who came by water and blood – Jesus Christ. He did not come by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is truth. For there are three that testify: the Spirit, the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement.” (I John 5:5-8)

  80. fatherstephen Avatar

    Yes, indeed. And yet, the Holy Spirit, for God’s own reasons, seems to be given to people as gifts who then preach, teach, Baptize, etc. Indeed, the inward revelation that is an inherent part of our Christian life is also the most easily missed or confused or distorted by us, needing the guidance of wiser brothers and sisters to keep us from straying. The most dangerous charlatans of our age claim a inner word from the Spirit but have no outward control or confirmation on their inner claims. No Church has a greater estimation or emphasis on the work of the Spirit than the Orthodox, yet 2000 years of experience, as well as the teaching of Scripture, ground that experience in the life of the Church – and the witness of other brothers and sisters.

    But, you’re right. It sure beats AM/FM!

  81. Mark Downham Avatar
    Mark Downham

    Having read all of the above material – the only point of real disputation is the tension between Monergism [Calvinist Doctrine] and Synergism [Eastern Orthodox, Arminian and Wesleyan Doctrines].

    The comments by Met. Jonah of the OCA were superficial and revealed a lack of a detailed understanding and appraisal of the internal tensions in Calvinism and the deeper Dialectics in the Reformation.

    Those Evangelicals who are more ‘Calvinist’ than ‘Arminian’ temper and subtlely adjust Calvinist Doctrines when it comes to the tension between ‘Predestined Election’ and Evangelism – which is synergistic by nature and calling.

  82. Occidental gazing Orient Avatar
    Occidental gazing Orient

    I appreciate Mr. Downham’s comments. He is right. Calvinism has many shades, especially in modern evangelicalism. Also, the distinction between Arminianism and Weslyan doctrines reveal shades within this category.

    What must be kept in mind is that Calvinism/Arminianism are not working within the exact categories as Orthodoxy, although they may overlap in many places. The west approaches these topics differently than the east.

  83. fatherstephen Avatar

    I will foward your comments on to the Metropolitan. Perhaps he might sit down with someone who knows a bit of both (Orthodoxy included) and ask questions. I would have thought that larger questions such a Scripture and Tradition, etc., would have been brought more to the fore.

  84. Mark Downham Avatar
    Mark Downham

    Our view as Evangelicals of Scripture and Tradition is that the Patristric Synthesis does not contradict Scripture – again I appreciate the hermeneutical nunances suggested by ‘Occidental gazing Orient’ – we approach the whole ‘Theopneustos’ process of Scripture and the intrinsic relationship of Scripture to the Church as ’embodied ‘Tradition somewhat differently to the primary paradigms in Eastern Orthoxody – the primary criterion for Evangelicals is that we will not accept contradiction to Scripture and that is how Evangelcials engage the Reformation Doctrine of ‘Sola Scriptura’ in practice – assuming it all comes to ‘Praktike’ – Living the Life in Practice.

  85. fatherstephen Avatar

    I would assume (although Orthodoxy does not draw quite the same distinction between Scripture and tradition) that there would be fruitful grounds of conversation. I suspect that if the dialog occurs it may be better and more substantive than in Tikhon’s time, because he generally only spoke with Anglo Catholic or High and Dry elements of Anglicanism and the need existed to engage the fuller range.

    I would even say that should no lasting relationship or change of relationship occur – it will be a clarifying and historic time within the life of East and West. It might be the first opportunity for evangelicals and Orthodox to formally converse.

    The Met. is not a precise theologian – but he is a courageous leader and an honest broker. In that sense he is a good man to be in such a position. Just sweeping away the dialog with ECUSA was refreshing enough.

    By no means do I assume that the Orthodox would sit down with the documents of Jerusalem and begin to drill Calvinists. What would happen would be a real conversation and something that would be of interest to all concerned.

    Clarity and accuracy alone are worth the conversation.

  86. David Avatar

    There’s alot of polite and well-intended dialog here about shades and approaches and doxy v praxy and all that. But predestination no matter how politely dressed up and carefully nuanced is offensive to a God who is love and contradicts myriad of substantive passages, including Christ’s own depiction of the character of the Father. To figure out if an individual person, or theological school of thought is “far enough removed” from such an unfortunate position to be “acceptable” seems wrongly conceived.

    I had to give up a great many grand ideas (and small pet comforts) to become Orthodox. I don’t see how Calvinists are going to be able to avoid similar losses to pride and sufficiency. I had to come as a child with nothing.

    I have no desire to “correct” Calvinists, in fact, I only have charity in mind (not out of great spiritual maturity, but because that is the only facility I can muster). I do not seek to be a hyper-Orthodox to their hyper-Calvinist. I simply wish to center my considerations for Truth on the person of Christ, not the “borders” of theology.

    My lack of humility continues to be a barrier to my own life in Christ, I am not a stranger to these things.

  87. Mark Downham Avatar
    Mark Downham

    “Predestination no matter how politely dressed up and carefully nuanced is offensive to a God who is Love” – David

    Which is why most Evangelicals effectively believe in ‘Prevenient Grace’ and NOT ‘Irresistible Grace’ in its fully nuanced Calvinist form – because it is clear that people do resist Grace. The one Calvinist Doctrine that does stand some further interrogation is the ‘Perseverence of the Saints’ – but then the discussion becomes one of what does it mean to be ‘truely saved’ – we believe that true commitment to the LORD Jesus Christ as Evangelicals is an unbreakable LIFE commitment – we will never give this up.

  88. David Avatar

    Mark, this conversation is what kicked me out the door and onto the street in search of escape from the house the Reformation (particularly my radical Anabaptist roots) built.

    It’s all dodge and parry. Calvinism sufficiently nuanced effectively says nothing at all. And discussions dance around highly technical and hotly contested terminology. I find much of that devoted entirely to the unknowable.

    I mean no offense. I simply expose my own weakness and frustrations with people who are much smarter and more educated than I am who seem to be trapped by their own machinations. Even if I could accept some precisely extruded treatise of hundreds of pages detailing the “right form” of Calvinism, it would be beyond all but 1% of the world to even engage in a meaningful conversation about it, what sort of theology is that, if it requires all preachers to have PhDs?

    I appreciate that some Orthodox can also commit such sins. It may, at times be necessary to defend the faith, but time and time again I hear from Orthodox that I respect that a seminary degree isn’t necessary and is often harmful to pastoral work. This admission is critical to my admittedly limited experience of the Kingdom of God as revealed by our Lord.

  89. Sea of Sin Avatar

    This all assumes of course there is such as thing as a coherent evangelical position. The reason why the last dialogue with Anglicans broke off is because their tent is so large, the Via Media so wide, that dialogue slips into the category of the absurd. We see the same thing here. But nonetheless I am glad to hear that individuals like Mark take a more qualified position.

    On the other hand, one has to keep in mind the Orthodox do not have a Pope. Met. Jonah can have an informal dialogue all he wants, but in his lone person he cannot represent the Orthodox Church in any authoritative manner. Not even a Council can do this.

  90. fatherstephen Avatar


    A Bishop (or synod) has the authority to act to accept a regional group in union with the Orthodox Church (it’s been done many times). It just has to be done well.

  91. alex Avatar

    If I could,

    Fr. Thomas Hopko made an interesting point about the meaning of the word heresy. It does not, he says, mean an erroneous belief. Rather, it means to choose.

    A heretic is someone who chooses their own interpretation of the scriptures and the faith, over that of the Saints and the Church. They create a ‘tradition of man’ by willing to deviate from the tradition of the Apostles.

    Thus the inherent problem with Calvinism is that it is derived from one man’s decision to choose his own faith, to start his own tradition. The result, as David points out, is many more people do the same.

    One of our Saints (I forget who at the moment) once said that the scriptures are like a beautiful mosaic of Christ. When organized and viewed properly, it is clearly and image of Christ. But anyone can stroll up to the mosaic and switch around the tiles, making it into something else, say, a calf (it’s interesting to note that the Hebrews, when they worshipped the golden calf, referred to it by the name of the true God).

    To know Christ we must see Him clearly and without error. Calvinism holds that humanity is ‘totally depraved’ (something the Orthodox could never, ever accept), yet it seems to have an incredible amount of respect for the human mind’s ability to understand the infinite God. The Orthodox recognize that we are good, and want to follow God, yet being fallen creatures, our rationality is not capable of reaching the divine truths.

    Christianity, because it is a religion about a person, is not like a political party or a philosophy. It is a revelation. Thus, we are not baptised into Calvin, or Luther, or Paul, or Stephen 😉 but into Christ, who is one. Because Christ is one there is only one Faith. It’s the challenge for all of us to crucify our own fallen notions about God and man, and come humbly and joyfully, with heads bowed to Him who is the Truth.

  92. David Avatar

    Thank you alex. Your post resolved some unnecessary tension I had built up this morning (only partially due to this conversation).

    This is truly important for me. I remember reading Rousseau in college and debating about revelation vs reason and I knew at the time that there was something a miss in the conversation. Because he was really contrasting methodologies and not sources as his vocabulary suggests.

    I’m not so much interested in methodologies, but rather the source. Who does this come from? Truth isn’t achieved via method, but secured by source.

  93. Sea of Sin Avatar

    Father what I meant is that even a Council or Synod can be wrong (as history demonstrates). Even such is not our ultimate and final authority. In that sense we cannot be called a “church of the councils”.

  94. Brantley Thomas Avatar
    Brantley Thomas


    I think you’re absolutely right, re: “Calvinism sufficiently nuanced effectively says nothing at all”.

    No disrespect to Mark (or anyone else), but conversations on topics such as “Prevenient Grace” or “Irresistable Grace” or “Theopneustos” remind me of George Orwell’s quote:

    “The great enemy of clear language is insincerity. When there is a gap between one’s real and one’s declared aims, one turns as if it were instinctively to long words and exhausted idioms, like a cuttlefish squirting out ink.”

    As David pointed out, sometimes the Orthodox can be guilty of this, but I think the Orthodox definition of a Theologian sums up the whole conversation neatly: A Theologian is one who prays.

    You can talk about a glass of water all day long. Measure its dimensions, temperature, clarity, etc. Every single property under the sun. But you don’t *KNOW* about it until you drink it.

  95. Brantley Thomas Avatar
    Brantley Thomas

    Yikes. That came across a little more harsh than I intended. Mark: I ask your forgiveness; I don’t think that you are “insincere”.

    My point is that sometimes it’s very easy to “squirrel off” into nuances, even to the point that further language is nothing but an abstract argumentative construct that has no basis in reality. Much of the time, such conversations are nothing but an exercise in solipsism, since the thrust of what’s being talked about makes no sense to anyone but those who come out of the same tradition as the speaker.

    My $0.02, and again, I ask your forgiveness if I offend.

  96. Karen Avatar

    Brantley, I love that quote! I do think that it applies as much to confusion and muddle-headedness as to insincerity. Evangelical muddle-headedness is perhaps reflective of having been taught that two mutually exclusive things are true and based on Scripture (i.e. that God’s love is unconditional and also that a “loving” God Who is also “just” requires “justice” in the form of retributive punishment, and/or God is absolutely sovereign over man’s “free” will and thus “predestines” him–man’s choice counts for nothing). The resulting fruitless contortions to reconcile what are in effect some false premises mixed with true are our various Christian (well actually sub-Christian) “isms”. In a similar vein, I heard and it rings true to me that when one truly understands something, one can translate it accurately into terms easy enough for a child to understand (which usually means that we can accurate transpose it and properly apply it in a concrete situation). My friends are constantly commenting on my tendency to use big words, which I think means I’m still struggling to understand things well! 🙂 Yes, we recognize that evangelicals (of which I was one) are generally quite sincere in their faith (and often more conscientiously observant than many Orthodox). The issue is the confused doctrinal heritage evangelicals have to work with in trying to articulate a coherent theology and work out a fruitful practice of faith, not the quality of commitment to God on the part of individual evangelicals, which thanks to the grace of the Holy Spirit at work in their hearts can be quite substantial.

  97. fatherstephen Avatar

    The Synod of Jerusalem, 1672, is the synod (council) quoted in the article. It would not carry the weight of the 7 ecumenical councils, but it enjoyed general acceptance at one time. The Hesychast Councils of the 14th century were not “ecumenical” but have the weight of such for Orthodox in that all Orthodox accept them. The Synod of Jerusalem, interestingly, with more careful research, seems to have been more or less nuanced in later acceptance (which leaves modern Othodox free to criticize or suggest improvement). Personally, a fact I find somewhat relieving. Sorry to have startled you.

  98. Mark Downham Avatar
    Mark Downham

    Father Stephen

    I used to have a ‘negative view’ of Dositheus and the Council of Jerusalem 1672 but engaging your work has been immediately illuminating in every way from an Evangelical perspective – especially after reading through the actual Decrees of the Council in ‘word for word’ detail and realising that the only point of real substance revolves around the dialectical ’emphases’ placed on the ‘Monergism vs Synergism’ debate – your careful ‘truth telling’ has marked you out as someone who has broken free of the ‘Babel’ effect and can speak lucidly and with real clarity and charity – a sudden leap forward.


    In Christ.


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