How to Distort History and Logic Simultaneously
Some Comments on the Orthodox-Lutheran Endorsement of a Common Easter Celebration
The following article, sent to us by a friend, gives clear
evidence of the tragic direction that Orthodox participants in the ecumenical
movement are taking. A few points of history and logic place the arguments of
the Orthodox clergyman quoted below in perspective.
1) First, the Council of Nicea has already settled the matter
of a common date for Pascha. It was not seeking astronomical accuracy in this
attempt, but to establish what was (and is) a brilliant liturgical year that
revolves around the date of Pascha, the Resurrection constituting the central
point in the Christian liturgical year. Fabrications and unscientific
speculation about the possibility of an eventual Pascha in August and the
Nativity Feast in March not withstanding, the Orthodox Church Calendar is an
ingenious invention that will work adequately in service to the Church for many
thousands of years, without any of these imaginative events occurring.
Since the Orthodox date for Pascha also comes from the time of
undivided Christianity, since it reflects the conscience of the undivided
Church, and since it has, until the calendar innovation, united Orthodox
Christians, why should IT not, rather than the dictates of the World Council of
Churches, serve as a model for the common celebration of Pascha? The Fathers of
the undivided Christian Church certainly must take precedence over the
administration of the WCC.
Moreover, if the WCC were sincerely interested in following
the dictates of Nicea, then why has it inexplicably and foolishly set aside the
provision that Pascha be celebrated after the Jewish Passover? This is a misuse
of the historical record. It entails, indeed, nothing more than lip service to
Church tradition, on the part of the WCC. (We will not, here, address the issue
of the poor scholarship, among certain modernist Orthodox, which makes the
unfounded claim that the provision for celebrating Pascha after the Jewish
Passover does not in fact say precisely what it says.)
We might note, incidentally, that the word "Pascha"
(which means Passover), the proper Orthodox word for the Resurrection for
Christ, has been almost wholly scrapped by Orthodox ecumenists for the term
"Easter," in an attempt to play down "differences" between
Orthodox and heterodox Christians for the sake of "similarities." This
does not address the fact, however, that the Orthodox Pascha is closely tied to
the entire Hesychastic and Eucharistic tradition of Orthodoxy, the profundity of
which is not to be found in Western Christianity or in Easter and the ubiquitous
rites of spring associated with it (bunnies, chickens, etc.), as well the
Orthodox Church's liturgical life. Also, St. Paul calls Christ our
"Passover," and the Passover of the Old Testament we understand to be
a prefigurement of the Pascha of the Lord (which also symbolizes the Lord's
Passion). This symbolism is sadly lost in the use of terms borrowed from the
West and ecumenism.
2) Eggs are artichokes. The logic of such a statement is
consistent with the idea that Old Calendarists in the Orthodox Church are the
Orthodox equivalent of Latin Mass Catholics? Does the calendar issue involve
language? No. Liturgical traditions as such? No. Is there any parallel
whatsoever between the traditionalist Catholic movement and the Old Calendar
movement? None whatsoever. Have there been any contacts between them? None. Do
have any theological principles in common? Absolutely not. This is simply a
convenient device by which to identify Old Calendarists with a movement that is
anathema to liberal American Catholics and thus to sully the Orthodox
The calendar issue centers on the problem of authority in the
Church and how changes take place. What we read below suggests that the ignorant
masses somehow have to be controlled and calmed by the omniscient Church
leaders. Where, in this, is the Orthodox teaching that it is the People of God
who ultimately express the conscience of the Church? Indeed, they even have, in
rare circumstances, the right to remove their Hierarchy! Where in this
condescending attitude towards the Faithful and the traditions of the Church is
the contrast between papist monarchism and the organic spiritual view of the
Church that has always characterized Orthodoxy and the witness of the Fathers?
We are reminded of the leaders of the Jews, who dismissed the followers of
Christ as ignorant people.
The calendar change took place without the People of God, or
even most of the Hierarchy, being informed. It divided Orthodoxy. And because,
like the new date for a common Easter, it was prompted, not by concerns for the
internal integrity and unity of the Orthodox Church, but by an ecumenical
agenda, it struck a blow at the very ethos of Orthodoxy. It is also worth
mentioning that the vast majority of the Orthodoxy world, as the article below
fails to point out, follows the Old Calendar, not the New.
3) Orthodoxy is distinctive because it adheres to the unbroken
traditions of the Undivided Christian Church established by Christ. The Church
Calendar is but one of the traditions that we have received from the Apostolic
Church. If it serves to distinguish the Orthodox Church as the very embodiment
of the historical Church, then only someone who believes that Orthodoxy is but
one among many equal churches could take umbrage with this distinguishing
characteristic. If we believe that the Orthodox Church is the True Church,
then we honor and love all of those things which distinguish and characterize
her and which call others to her catholic and "peculiar" witness.
Moreover, one can only lament that an Orthodox Hierarch would
say, "Thank God that at least part of the Orthodox world celebrates
Christmas with the West" (albeit a minority of the Orthodox world). Would
that we could hear a Shepherd of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church
say, "God forgive us Orthodox, that we celebrate the Feast of the Nativity
on different dates" (thanks to the calendar innovation and the ecumenical
movement which spawned it). Let us also note that it is not Pascha which is at
the center of Orthodoxy, but Christ. Pascha is at the center of our liturgical
year. Christ is at the center of our Faith. It is His Body which constitutes the
Church, and that Body is One. Pascha, the Resurrection of Christ, is a
celebration of that unity, of the oneness of Baptism, doctrine, worship, mind,
and ethos that is Orthodoxy. Thus, those with true faith in Orthodoxy must first
strive to make their unique oneness known to the world, not in the claptrap
philosophies of religious syncretism preached in the guise of tolerance and love
(and the sin of ecumenism is that it is intolerant and engenders hatred between
brothers in the name of love for others), but in a true desire to preserve what
has been given to us in the spotless treasure of Orthodoxy and to pass this on
to others in an unadulterated form.
It is easy to become unsettled, if not outraged, at the
blindness of the Orthodox ecumenists, who use the platform of love to slap at
their own brothers and to put forth cliches and epithets that are essentially
meaningless and which show a lapse both in an Orthodox understanding of the
history of the Church and in simple logic. Seeing otherwise intelligent,
learned, and certainly well-intentioned men and women come to such a state,
however, we should bring to mind immediately what blindness is. It something
unnatural, imposed by disease and deformity. It is not a personal fault, as
such. Seeing this, we should come to pity the Orthodox ecumenists. And in this
pity, we should redouble our efforts to live our Faith in such a way that the
light of Christ might shine through us and enlighten even those who revile us in
the name of ecumenical love.
Center for Traditionalist Orthodox Studies
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Common date for Easter boosted Orthodox, Lutheran theologians endorse plan
to celebrate Christianity's holiest day at the same time
Thursday, March 16, 2000
By Ann Rodgers-Melnick, Post-Gazette Staff Writer
Led by two bishops from Pittsburgh, Lutheran and Eastern
Orthodox theologians from the United States have endorsed a plan that would
allow all Christians to celebrate Easter on the same day.
"If we can arrive at a common date for the celebration of
the most important day on the Christian calendar, it will bring a sense of unity
to the world," said Bishop Donald McCoid of the Southwest Pennsylvania
Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
With Metropolitan Maximos of the Greek Orthodox Diocese of
Pittsburgh, he co-chairs the Orthodox-Lutheran Dialogue in the United States. It
represents the Standing Conference of Orthodox Bishops in America and the
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, but cannot make decisions for those
The Lutheran-Orthodox Dialogue has endorsed a 1997 plan from
the World Council of Churches to calculate the date of Easter in a way that
Eastern and Western Christians can agree on. The American Orthodox-Catholic
Theological Consultationon which Maximos also serveshas endorsed the same
The 1997 proposal calls for the common dating to go into
effect after 2001, a year in which both Easters fall on April 15. The
Orthodox-Lutheran Dialogue has called on all Christians to study the proposal in
the year leading to Easter 2001. But Maximos and McCoid agree that it will take
many more years of work before worldwide Orthodoxy can accept the plan.
This year Western Easter falls on April 23 and Orthodox Easter
on April 30. But the next 17 years include seven shared Easters before the
dates diverge for many years after 2017.
The differences between Eastern and Western Easter are rooted
in different calendars and different ways of calculating the spring equinox. The
New Testament says that Jesus rose from the dead on a Sunday shortly after
Early Christians celebrated Jesus' resurrection in relation to
Passover, but in a variety of ways. Some chose Passover itself. Others chose the
Sunday after Passover. A change in how some Jewish communities calculated
Passover added to the confusion.
In 325, the Council of Nicea decided that all Christians
should celebrate Easter on the Sunday after the first vernal full moon of the
spring equinoxa formula that followed Jewish practice in Jesus' day. That
formula held for more than 700 years, until Christendom split into Orthodoxy and
Catholicism in 1054.
During the Middle Ages the Orthodox added a caveat, stating
that Easter could not be celebrated until the first full moon after Passover.
This sometimes put Easter off for a month.
Then, in 1582, Pope Gregory XIII instituted the more accurate
Gregorian Calendar, which was days out of synch with the old Julian Calendar.
But Orthodoxy continued to use the Julian calendar until 1923, when an attempt
to shift to Gregorian time produced multiple schisms. To calm things down, the
Orthodox churches that adopted the Gregorian Calendar agreed to use the Julian
date for Easter. Thus, the Greek Orthodox Church celebrates Christmas with the
West, but Easter with the East.
A final complication is that Eastern and Western Christians
calculate the equinox and full moon from different points on the globe.
The World Council of Churches proposal returns to the original
formula of Nicea, but would use scientific calculations of the equinox and moonnot
the Gregorian or Julian calendarsto pinpoint the date. It would plot the
calculations from Jerusalem.
The Lutheran-Orthodox group supports that proposal, and also
calls on Western Christians to consider acknowledging the Orthodox belief that
Easter should come after Passover.
"If we can do this together, you have no idea what other
things this may open the door for. It shows that we can take ancient differences
and look for ways in which we can move to a common understanding," McCoid
Maximos calls the Easter proposal "a beautiful
idea." But pastoral considerations are likely to prevent Orthodox church
leaders from quickly adopting it. Many Orthodox bishops are still fighting
theological battles with Old Calendarists, who refused to go along when their
national churches adopted the Gregorian Calendar 80 years ago. They are the
Orthodox equivalent of Latin Mass Catholics.
Those bishops do not want to provoke further divisions.
"They will say that they cannot divide their own people for the sake of
unity with others," Maximos said.
But Maximos strongly disagrees with those Orthodox who favor
keeping separate dates on the grounds that it makes Orthodoxy more distinctive.
"Thank God that at least part of the Orthodox world
celebrates Christmas with the West. What unites Christians is much more
important than what divides us. I would rather see us be united in the number
one celebration of our church calendar, which is Easter," Maximos said.
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Follow-Up Remarks by Archbishop Chrysostomos
We recently sent out a statement about the Orthodox Church's
dialogue with the Lutherans. As usual, the Orthodox ecumenists are taking every
opportunity to backpeddle and say that they do not, of course, intend to
compromise the Orthodox calculation of Pascha, that they have not, indeed, taken
steps towards irresponsible union with the heterodox, and so on.
As usual, the Orthodox ecumenists cover their tracks. They
make outrageous agreements and then pronounce that those of who address the
ramifications of these agreements are untrained and theologically ignorant, and
thus do not have the ability to understand what the ecumenists actually write
and agree upon. (This is to some extent true, since they usually write in an
"innovative" English, with a syntax and vocabulary of its own: a
language that has justifiably been called ecumenical "double-speak,"
by some, and "quasi-literate jargon" by others.)
In fact, as I confirmed last evening, listening to a
Greek-language interview with Metropolitan Damaskinos of Switzerland, the
permanent representative of Constantinople to the WCC in Geneva, the ecumenists
always speak out of both sides of their mouths. Thus, with one affirmation, they
can counter what we identify as having clearly un-Orthodox ramifications by a
very Orthodox statement; while, with another, they can assure the ecumenists,
who at times adventitiously encounter their very Orthodox statements, that, in
fact, they are ecumenists, by citing their wholly un-Orthodox statements. Thus,
in one and the same interviews, Metropolitan Damaskinos both supported the
primacy of Orthodoxy and characterized Orthodoxy as but one of many equal
churches seeking the "universal church," by way of ecumenical
On various websites that the OCA sponsors, we see a less
obvious counterpart to the contradictory affirmations by which the ecumenists
cover their tracks. One can discover this tactic by looking, for example, at
their attempts to prove that converts should not (indeed, as one
"authority" has said, "have never been") received into the
Russian Orthodox Church by Baptism, that the Church has always been ecumenical,
and that Orthodox primacy is open even to heretics (such as the Monophysites).
On the one hand, they are careful not to support these views by citing the
ecumenical ideology from which they, in fact, derive. They proclaim their belief
in Orthodoxy and present their innovations and deviations from the consensus of
the Fathers as though they were part of the dogmatic structure of the Church.
On the other hand, showing a total disregard for the integrity
of the Faith, they misuse and abuse the Fathers (indeed, in trying to support
their idea that Monophysites are not heretics, they actually deliberately
misrepresent St. John Damascus' condemnation of this heresy as an endorsement of
their "Orthodoxy"), misinterpret Scripture, selectively report their
ecumenical activities, and even resort to calling on the likes of Bulgakov, a
man who wrote some very un-Orthodox things, as a great theologian. The whole
issue of Baptism, which threatens a Church with converts among its very
Episcopacy who have not been Baptized, is handled most dishonestly, citing
precedents that held in certain historical circumstances, yet ignoring all other
declarations of a different kind. Pretending that Russia did not undergo what
Father Florovsky called a "pseudo-morphosis" of its Orthodox
theological thought for well over a century, under Jesuit influence, they cite
the authority of the Russian Church, claiming to be Orthodox, thereby, in their
fidelity to the Hierarchy; yet make no mention of the moribund nature of the
theological traditions on which they draw or the corrupt vestiges of the
communist era that blacken the Patriarchate from which they brokered their
autocephaly (and this, we should emphasize, under the communists).
Here, again we see a counterpart to the "double-speak"
of the other Orthodox ecumenists. At one and the same time we see a clear
defiance of Orthodox tradition, by elevating that which is outside the consensus
of the Church to the level of good theology; while, at the same time, we see an
attempt to present this deviation in the context of the same obedience to the
Church and Her traditions that we anti-ecumenists prescribe as the antidote to
the divisive, poisonous course of Orthodoxy. (And the Orthodox ecumenists should
be constantly reminded that it was the calendar change and the Constantinopolitan
Encyclical of 1920, the founding charter of Orthodox ecumenism, that caused
the divisions that we see in the Church now, in the post-communist era.)
In all of this, an unprecedented hypocrisy rules. After all,
what is deliberately contradictory is duplicitous, and duplicity is the mother
of hypocrisy. The ecumenists speak of love and unity with the heterodox, but the
hatred and nastiness that they show to us anti-ecumenists is unparalleled. Here
we see a double ethic: love that tolerates and even encourages hatred. One
representative of the ecumenists that I once confronted on the Internet
responded to me by calling me a cult leader, a bogus Bishop, and other names
that one would hardly consider appropriate among civilized atheists, let alone
Christians. He later covered this by pointing out that he had originally made
these statements about me only in private and that his correspondent had placed
them on the Internet! Moreover, this same individual takes pains to show how
responsible the Orthodox ecumenists are, defending his ecumenism with frequent
talk about love and toleration. So, on the one hand, if one agrees with these
people, he is worthy of love; if, on the other hand, he disagrees with them, he
is a bogus charlatan and a cultist. One wonders about the normality of a
movement which breeds this kind of duplicity, a duplicity which is, once more,
nothing more or less than the psychological by-product
of ecumenical double-speak.
Thus, issues are not debated in Orthodoxy today. In a naive
Procrustean attempt to fit Orthodoxy into a simple-minded system of religious
syncretism, ecumenism, its doctrines and dogmas are distorted and rendered
ridiculous. And to cover this, every propaganda device is wheeled out by the
ecumenists, who rely on the ignorance of the people and their ability to slander
and denigrate us who see through their game to continue their self-serving quest
for worldly recognition and an importance that they would not otherwise have.
In essence, these Orthodox ecumenists are not the best and the
brightest, but are often individuals who have found in the simple-minded world
of religious syncretism a place of eminence that they would have nowhere else.
And thus, they have a psychological motivation for defending their ecumenism,
for fear that what they fully well know is a deviation from Orthodoxy might, if
they followed their consciences, force them into resistance and the heavy burden
of working for the Church, as we anti-ecumenists do, in an atmosphere where they
would be ridiculed, belittled, and attacked with every possible weapon. Lacking
the strength of Orthodoxy, and often compromised in their Faith, they find every
reason to defend what cannot be defended.
A good friend of the monastery, an erudite university
professor, wrote the following words to us about this subject. They are
certainly worthy of repetition. His reactions address the specific issue of the
Orthodox-Lutheran dialogue and its comments on a common date for
"Easter" and the flimsy statements, by those involved in this
dialogue, that they in fact have no intention of accepting a non-Orthodox
formula for determining Pascha.
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If the Orthodox stood their ground and have no intention of
changing the date of Pascha, then what is the point of such consultations in the
first place? One skill that the ecumenists hone to perfection is making
weaseling statements to deflect criticism from their own faithful. It reminds me
of the Chinese saying "the crafty rabbit always has three holes." I
think there is growing skepticism of all this ecumenist double talk. One has to
ask why after eighty years of meetings, consultations, dialogs and common prayer
no substantial question has been resolved. The ecumenical movement clearly has
outlived any purpose it ever had; it has degenerated into a forum for people who
no longer believe in Christianity and who apparently think we should experiment
with animism or Zen.
Here is something I came across recently; it is from a
pamphlet handed out to visitors to Grace Cathedral (Anglican) in SF and is
signed by the bishop.
"You know from the past about inquisitions and crusades
and witch-hunts. You live in a time of religious military zealots, abortion
clinic bombings, and TV evangelists attempting to take power in our land. [Grace
Cathedral] is a place of religious immunity. An answer is Grace Cathedral. Here
operates an unconditional surrender to the freedom of God to speak to whomever
in whatever language is understandable. In this space you can walk the labyrinth
of life to the tune of the Spirit which you uniquely hear. Immunity from
religious control is granted you upon entry. Grace offers 'sanctuary' to
everyone and promises this glorious freedom of God as the climate to explore the
healthiest living that religion affords." It is persons like this that we
are asked to dialogue with in the ecumenical movement. The whole notion has
become so fraudulent that it is a real wonder than anyone is taken in. But the
hardest thing in the world to kill is a bureaucracy, and I suppose we will have
to abide such nonsense for a long time to come.
I of course don't know [a certain Orthodox ecumenist] but from
various things that I have seen it is obvious that he created for himself an
ecumenical persona. All of his identity and self-worth is tied up in this and to
abandon it would mean self-destruction.
A truly insightful analysis.