Are Protestantism and Roman Catholicism Heretical?
Webmaster's Introductory Note
The reader should be aware that my motivation for compiling these texts does not stem from a desire to
"bash the heterodox" but rather to help my fellow Orthodox brothers and sisters
to understand that much of the rhetoric we hear today regarding Western Christians is not
faithful to Holy Tradition. It thus undermines the unity and uniqueness of the one true
Churchthe Orthodox Church, which embodies the very criterion of Christianity,
being the sole preserver of the unadulterated Apostolic and Holy Tradition. Take for
example this statement by one of the leading ecumenical activists, the late Nicolas Zernov:
[Western Christians] present
a mystery of the divided Church which
cannot be solved on precedents taken from the epoch of the Seven Ecumenical Councils. It
is a new problem requiring a search for a fresh approach and confidence in the power of
the Holy Spirit to guide the Church in our time as He guided her in the past.
It is necessary to state from the outset, that the attitude to the
Christian West has never been discussed by any representative body of the Orthodox
Church. Neither Roman Catholics nor Protestants have ever been condemned or
excommunicated as such, so a common policy in regard to them has never been adopted.
("The One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church and the Anglicans," Sobornost,
6:8 (1973), 531)
The answers he provides in this misleading article are atrocious from a
Traditional point of view. It is replete with statements and conclusions that flatly
contradict the "Mind of the Church," as I hope you will see below.
Also, though one should not have to clarify this, in these days
of "ecumeni-speak" and "political correctness" I felt it was important
to say that at times it is entirely proper and necessary to call a person's beliefs
"heretical." When spoken in love this constitutes an act of love. We are to hate
the poison of heresy, but to love and have compassion for those infected by it. For more
on this I highly recommend the essay entitled "The True
Nature of Heresy" and this excerpt from a forthcoming book: The Use of the Term "Heretic." I also offer these
other excerpts from related articles:
"...if our truth is an exclusive truth, it is made
open... by our ability to see virtue even among those in error. This
principle is reified by our constant commitment to love and hospitality. A perfect example
of this was a visit made by some American Uniates to Metropolitan Cyprian several years
ago. His Eminence received his guests as brothers and treated them with great affection.
Yet, one evening, while offering them a beautiful dinner on the veranda of his cell, he
told them: 'Love dictates that I tell you that you are heretics and must become Orthodox.'
One of the clergymen, in fact, is now a Priest in the Antiochian Archdiocese. It is
our openness to the virtues of those in error, our readiness to be ridiculed and
embarrassed by our 'exclusivity,' and our love of the truth which ultimately make us
Orthodox and open to all things, being all things to all men for the sake of
their salvation." (From "The Exclusive Openness of Truth" in Orthodox
Tradition, Vol. XI, No. 4 (1994), 8 [emphasis theirs])
"The time has come for all faithful Orthodox
Christians to speak out and promptly put an end to this spurious form of Orthodoxy known
as 'ecumenistic Orthodoxy'. It is a betrayal of the Holy Orthodox Church, a negation of
its essence. It is time to take her divine dogmas 'out of the storeroom,' where
[Ecumenical] Patriarch Athenagoras I relegated them [in the sixties], bring them to the
open light, and proclaim them by every means, and in every land... Let us not offer to
the world the pseudo-Orthodoxy of 'Orthodox ecumenism,' which puts error on the same level
as truth... This offering will be an act of true Christian love, a fulfilling of
Christ's commandment of loving our neighbor as we love ourselves. Christ says, 'What
man is there of you whom if his son asks for bread would give him a stone?' (St. Matt.
7:9) 'Orthodox ecumenism' does precisely the latter... People today are searching for
the truth that saves; yet these ecumenists have put the bread of truth in the storeroom
and have been offering instead the stone of untruth, of error, and of heresy that leads to
perdition. The commandment of love demands that we take the bread of the teaching of
the Orthodox Church out in the open and offer it lovingly to all who hunger for the truth
that frees and saves." (From a lecture by Dr. Constantine Cavarnos
at the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Annunciation, Atlanta, GA, on March 16, 1997)
Having said all this, however, I quote from a letter of
Fr. Seraphim to a Protestant inquirer:
The word "heretic" ... is indeed used too frequently
nowadays. It has a definite meaning and function, to distinguish new teachings from the
Orthodox teaching; but few of the non-Orthodox Christians today are consciously "heretics,"
and it really does no good to call them that... .A harsh, polemical attitude is called
for only when the non-Orthodox are trying to take away our flocks or change our teachings.
(Monk Damascene Christensen, Not of This World: The Life and Teachings of Fr. Seraphim
Rose [Fr. Seraphim Rose Foundation, 1993], pp. 757-58.)
+ + +
From the On Mystagogy of the Holy Spirit by
Saint Photios: On the heresy of the Filioque ("and the Son") clause,
later officially inserted into the Nicene Creed by the Latin Church
"Who of our sacred and renowned fathers had said that the Spirit proceeds from the
Son? Which council, established and made eminent by ecumenical acknowledgment, has
proclaimed it? Indeed, which God-called assembly of priests and high priests inspired by
the All-holy Spirit has not condemned this notion even before it appeared? For they,
having been initiated into the Father's Spirit according to the Master's mystagogy [i.e.,
St. John 15:26], proclaimed clearly and emphatically that the Spirit proceeds from the
Father. And indeed, they subjected all who did not believe so to the anathema for being
scorners of the Catholic and Apostolic Church; for in times past, they foresaw with
prophetic eyes this newly spawned godlessness, and they condemned it in script and words
and thought, along with the previous manifold apostasies. Of the Ecumenical Councils, the
Second directly dogmatized that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father; the Third
received this teaching in succession; the Fourth confirmed it; the Fifth was established
in the same opinion; the Sixth preached the same; the Seventh sealed it splendidly with
contests; in each Council is seen the open and clear proclamation of piety and of the
doctrine that the Spirit proceeds from the Father, not from the Son. What godless herd
taught you otherwise? Who of those who contravene the Master's ordinances has led you to
fall into such lawless beliefs?"
(On the Mystagogy of the Holy Spirit by Saint
Photios, Patriarch of Constantinople, trans. by Holy Transfiguration Monastery [Studion
Publishers, Inc: 1983], p. 71.) It is common to find those who are under the impression
that the Filioque clause is a trifling mattera mere
"word-squabble" among theologians; or that the Filioque is really not a big issue because
some theologians have figured a way to keep the clause but interpret it in an
"Eastern Way" that is acceptable to the Orthodox. Such a person with an honest,
truth-loving soul will not be able to hold these opinions any longer when they read the Mystagogy.
There is no way to get around the fact that it is a grave heresy and has always been seen
as such by the Orthodox Church.
From the Synodicon of the Holy Spirit (to
be read on the second day of Pentecost)
Background: This is subtitled: "A
confession and proclamation of the Orthodox piety of the Christians, in which all the
impieties of the heretics are overthrown and the definitions of the Catholic Church of
Christ are sustained. Through which the enemies of the Holy Spirit are severed from the
Church of Christ." This Synodicon (a decision, statement, or tome either
originating from a synod or council or possessing conciliar authority) is attributed to
Patriarch Germanos the New (1222-1240). It demonstrates how the theology of St. Photios
the Great became the Church's definitive voice on the subject of the filioque. There
can be no doubt that the filioque was judged to be heretical by the Orthodox
Church. What follows are just a few of the anathemas from the Synodicon. (This
background information, and the anathemas, are taken from On the Mystagogy of the Holy
"So likewise do they who despise and disdain piety
receive curses; wherefore, all we in unison, since we constitute the plentitude of piety,
lay upon them the curse which they have put upon themselves." [an excerpt from the Synodicon
of Orthodoxy, read on the Sunday of Orthodoxy during Great Lent].' To those who do
not deign to consent to the unaltered and unadulterated holy Symbol confessed by the
Orthodox, that one, I mean, which was evangelically formulated by the First and Second
Holy Councils and confirmed by the rest, but who rather amend it and distort it to support
their own belief, thereby not only corrupting the conciliar traditions of the holy fathers
and of the holy and God-instructed apostles, but also the definitions of our true God and
Savior, Jesus Christ, ANATHEMA." ...
"To those who in any way undertake investigations
into new doctrines concerning the divine and incomprehensible Trinity and who search out
the difference between begetting and procession, and the nature of begetting and
procession in God and who increase words and do not abide and persist in the definitions
handed down to us by both the disciples of Christ and the divine fathers; and who thereby
uselessly strive to dispute over things not delivered to us, ANATHEMA."
"To those who scorn the venerable and holy
ecumenical Councils, and who despise even more their dogmatic and canonical traditions;
and to those who say that all things were not perfectly defined and delivered by the
councils, but that they left the greater part mysterious, unclear, and untaught,
"To those who hold in contempt the sacred and
divine canons of our blessed fathers, which, by sustaining the holy Church of God and
adorning the whole Christian Church, guide to divine reverence, ANATHEMA."
"To all things innovated and enacted contrary to
the Church tradition, teaching, and institution of the holy and ever-memorable fathers, or
to anything henceforth so enacted, ANATHEMA."
St. Mark of Ephesus, one of the three "pillars" of Orthodoxy
"We have cut the Latins off from us for no other
reason than that they are not only schismatics, but heretics. For this reason it is wholly
improper to unite with them.... The Latins are not only schismatics but heretics as
well. However, the Church was silent on this because their race is large and more powerful
than ours... and we wished not to fall into triumphalism over the Latins as heretics but
to be accepting of their return and to cultivate brotherliness." (1439)
SIGILLION of the Patriarchal formulation of an encyclical
to Orthodox Christians throughout the world not to accept the modernistic Paschalion,
or calendar of the innovated Menologion, but to keep what was once for all and
well-formulated by the three hundred and eighteen Holy God-bearing Fathers of the First
Ecumenical Council, under penalty of penance and anathema.
Background: In 1583, the Pope of Rome, Gregory
XIII, who changed the Julian calendar, repeatedly pressured the Patriarch of
Constantinople, Jeremias, who was called Illustrious, to follow him in the calendar
innovation. The Patriarch repeatedly refused with letters, and finally in the same year,
1583, he convened a council in Constantinople...
"To all the genuine Christian children of the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church
of Christ of the East residing in Trigovysti and throughout the world, be grace and peace
and mercy from God Almighty.
"No small turbulence overtook that ancient Ark, when, violently beset by billows,
it floated upon the surface of the waters, and had not the Lord God remembered Noah and
seen fit to still the water, there would have been no hope for it at all. Thus also in
regard to the New Ark of our Church, against which misbelievers have launched an
implacable war upon us, by means of these presents we have decided to leave a note that
you may have in what is herein written the means of upholding and defending your Orthodoxy
against such enemies more safely and surely.
But, lest the composition as a whole be weary to the simpler folks, we have decided to
embody the matter in common langauge, wording it as follows: "In Common Language
"From old Rome have come certain persons who learned there to wear Latin habits. The
worst of it is how, from being Romans of Rumelia bred and born, they not only have changed
their faith, but they even wage war upon the Orthodox dogmas and truths of the Eastern
Church which have been delivered to us by Christ and the divine Apostles and the Holy
Councils of the Holy Fathers.
Therefore, cutting off these persons as rotten members, we command:
1) That whoever does not confess with heart and mouth that he is a child of the Eastern
Church baptized in Orthodox style, and that the Holy Spirit proceeds out of only
the Father, essentially and hypostatically, as Christ says in the Gospel, shall be outside
of our Church and shall be anathematized.
2) That whoever does not confess that at the Mystery of the Holy Communion the laity
must also partake of both kinds, of the Precious Body and Blood, but instead says that he
will partake only of the body, and that that is sufficient because therein is both flesh
and blood, when as a matter of fact Christ died and administered each seperately, and they
who fail to keep such customs, let all such persons be anathematized.
3) That whoever says that our Lord Jesus Christ at the Mystic Supper had unleavened
bread (made without yeast), like that of the Jews, and not leavened bread, that is to say,
bread raised with yeast, let him depart far away from us and let him be anathema as one
having Jewish views and those of Apollinarios and bringing dogmas of the Armenians into
the Church, on which account let him be doubly anathema.
4) Whoever says that our Christ and God, when he comes to judge us, does not come to
judge souls together with bodies, or embodied souls, but instead comes to sentance only
bodies, let him be anathema.
5) Whoever says that the souls of Christians who repented while in the world but failed
to perform their penance go to a purgatory of fire when they die, where there is flame and
punishment, and are purified, which is simply an ancient Greek myth, and those who, like
Origen, think that hell is not everlasting, and thereby afford or offer the liberty or
incentive to sin, let him and all such persons be anathema.
6) That whoever says that the Pope is the head of the Church, and not Christ, and that
he has authority to admit persons to Paradise with his letters of indulgence or other
passports, and can fogive sins as many as a person may commit if such person pay money to
receive from him indulgences, i.e. licences to sin, let every such person be anathema.
7) That whoever does not follow the customs of the Church as the Seven Holy Ecumenical
Councils decreed, and Holy Pascha, and the Menologion with which they did well in making
it a law that we should follow it, and wishes to follow the newly-invented Paschalion and
the New Menologion of the atheist astronomers of the Pope, and opposes all those things
and wishes to overthrow and destroy the dogmas and customs of the Church which have been
handed down by our fathers, let him suffer anathema and be put out of the Church of Christ
and out of the Congregation of the Faithful.
8) That ye pious and Orthodox Christians remain faithful in what ye have been taught
and have been born and brought up in, and when the time calls for it and there be need,
that your very blood be shed in order to safeguard the Faith handed down by our Fathers
and your confession: and that ye beware of such persons as have been described or referred
to in the foregoing paragraphs, in order that our Lord Jesus Christ may help you and at
the same time may the prayer of our mediocrity be with all of you: amen.
Done in the year of the God-man 1583 (MDLXXXIII), year of indiction 12, November 20
Jeremiah of Constantinople
Silvester of Alexandria
Sophronius of Jerusalem
In the presence of the rest of the prelates at the Council."
This is found in pages 13-15 of the Rudder, which goes on to add that at
another Pan-Orthodox synod in 1593, the 8th canon, which was headed "For exclusion of
the New Calendar decrees that "all those who dare to disturb the rules of the Great
and Holy Ecumenical Council of Nicaea, as held in the presence of the pious and most
God-beloved King Constantine in regard to the holy feast of man-saving Pascha, be
excommunicated and excluded from the Church..."
From The Acts and Decrees of the Synod of
Jerusalem, subtitled "Against the Calvinists, Held in the Year 1672 Under
Dositheus, Patriarch of Jerusalem" (London: Thomas Baker, 1899), translated and with
notes by J.N.W.B Robertson
[Note: keep in mind that the decrees in this
Synod are pastoral and protective in nature. They arose out of the need for the Church to
address the so-called "Confession of Cyril Lucar".
This confession, which espoused many teachings of the Protestant reformer John Calvin, was
reportedly written by Cyril Lucar, a former Patriarch of Constantinople. The strong words
are directed chiefly against those who are in full awareness of their error and are
teaching contrary to the Orthodox Faith, leading "even the elect" astray.
Finally, you must also know that my primary motive for compiling a document of texts like
this is to combat the teaching of some Orthodox hierarchs and theologians who are
compromised by the heresy of ecumenism. They say that the Orthodox Church has "never
officially declared Roman Catholics or Protestants to be heretics." In saying this,
they hope to further their ecumenical agenda of a false union with Western heterodoxy.
Thus, these excerpts are more for the Orthodox than for Protestants who may
stumble across my site.]
It is to be noted, therefore, that the leaders of
these heretics, well knowing the doctrine of the Eastern Church, declare that she
maintains the same as they themselves do in what concerns God and divine things; but of
set purpose do they malign us, chiefly to deceive the more simple. For being severed, or
rather rent away from the Westerns, and consequently being absolutely rejected by the
whole Catholic [Orthodox] Church, and convicted, they are manifestly heretics, and the
chiefest of heretics. For not only have they become, from motives of self-love,
propounders of new and silly dogmas (if it is allowable to call what are really only
fables dogmas); but are entirely external to the Church, as having no kind of communion
whatever with the Catholic [Orthodox] Church, as hath been said... . But, as it is
impossible in this matter for light and darkness, or Christ and Belial, to be together, so
it is impossible for our adversaries, so long as they follow Calvin the heresiarch, as a
leader, to be at one with the Eastern Church in what concerneth faith.
4. Of these heresies diffused, with what sufferings the LORD hath
known, over a great part of the world, was formerly Arianism, and at present is the
Papacy. This, too, as the former has become extinct, although now flourishing, shall not
endure, but pass away and be cast down, and a great voice from heaven shall cry: It is
cast down (Rev. xii. 10).
5, xv. All erroneous doctrine touching the Catholic truth of the
Blessed Trinity, and the origin of the divine Persons, and the subsistence of the Holy
Ghost, is and is called heresy, and they who so hold are deemed heretics, according to the
sentence of St. Damasus, Pope of Rome, who says: "If any one rightly holds concerning
the Father and the Son, yet holds not rightly of the Holy Ghost, he is an heretic"
(Cath. Conf. of Faith which Pope Damasus sent to Paulinus, Bishop of Thessalonica).
Wherefore the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, following in the steps of the
holy Fathers, both Eastern and Western, proclaimed of old to our progenitors and again
teaches today synodically, that the said novel doctrine of the Holy Ghost proceeding from
the Father and the Son is essentially heresy, and its maintainers, whoever they be, are
heretics, according to the sentence of Pope St. Damasus, and that the congregations of
such are also heretical, and that all spiritual communion in worship of the orthodox sons
of the Catholic Church with such is unlawful. Such is the force of the seventh Canon of
the third Ecumenical Council.
7. These illustrious men proved indeed on this point the truth of the
words of our holy father Basil the sublime, when he said, from experience, concerning the
Bishops of the West, and particularly of the Pope: "They neither know the truth nor
endure to learn it, striving against those who tell them the truth, and strengthening
themselves in their heresy" (to Eusebius of Samosata). Thus, after a first and second
brotherly admonition, knowing their impenitence, shaking them off and avoiding them, they
gave them over to their reprobate mind. "War is better than peace, apart from
God," as said our holy father Gregory, concerning the Arians. From that time there
has been no spiritual communion between us and them; for they have with their own hands
dug deep the chasm between themselves and Orthodoxy.
16. From these things we estimate into what an unspeakable labyrinth
of wrong and incorrigible sin of revolution the papacy has thrown even the wiser and more
godly Bishops of the Roman Church, so that, in order to preserve the innocent, and
therefore valued vicarial dignity, as well as the despotic primacy and the things
depending upon it, they know no other means shall to insult the most divine and sacred
things, daring everything for that one end. Clothing themselves, in words, with pious
reverence for "the most venerable antiquity" (p. xi. 1.16), in reality there
remains, within, the innovating temper; and yet his Holiness really hears hard upon
himself when he says that we "must cast from us everything that has crept in among us
since the Separation," (!) while he and his have spread the poison of their
innovation even into the Supper of our LORD.
XXI. Such are, briefly, the serious and arbitrary innovations concerning the faith and
the administrative constitution of the Church, which the Papal Church has introduced and
which, it is evident, the Papal Encyclical purposely passes over in silence. These
innovations, which have reference to essential points of the faith and of the
administrative system of the Church, and which are manifestly opposed to the
ecclesiastical condition of the first nine centuries, make the longed-for union of the
Churches impossible: and every pious and orthodox heart is filled with inexpressible
sorrow on seeing the Papal Church disdainfully persisting in them, and not in the least
contributing to the sacred purpose of union by rejecting those heretical innovations and
coming back to the ancient condition of the one holy, catholic and apostolic Church of
Christ, of which she also at that time formed a part.
XXIV... . But, as has been said before, the Western Church, from the tenth century
downwards, has privily brought into herself through the papacy various and strange and
heretical doctrines and innovations, and so she has been torn away and removed far from
the true and orthodox Church of Christ. How necessary, then, it is for you to come back
and return to the ancient and unadulterated doctrines of the Church in order to attain the
salvation in Christ after which you press, you can easily understand if you intelligently
consider the command of the heaven-ascended Apostle Paul to the Thessalonians, saying:
'Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught,
whether by word, or our epistle' ...
Metropolitan PHILARET of blessed memory, former
First Hierarch of the Russian Orthdox Church Abroad, from his First Sorrowful Epistle
Perhaps somebody will say that times have changed, and
heresies now are not so malicious and destructive as in the days of the Ecumenical
Councils. But are those Protestants who renounce the veneration of the Theotokos and the
Saints, who do not recognize the grace of the hierarchy,or the Roman Catholics, who
have invented new errors,are they nearer to the Orthodox Church than the Arians or
Let us grant that modern preachers of heresy are not so
belligerent towards the Orthodox Church as the ancient ones were. However, that is not
because their doctrines are nearer to Orthodox teaching, but because Protestantism and
Ecumenism have built up in them the conviction that there is no One and True Church on
earth, but only communities of men who are in varying degrees of error. Such a doctrine
kills any zeal in professing what they take to be the truth, and therefore modern heretics
appear to be less obdurate than the ancient ones. But such indifference to truth is in
many respects worse than the capacity to be zealous in defense of an error mistaken for
truth. Pilate, who said "What is truth?" could not be converted; but Saul, the
persecutor of Christianity, became the Apostle Paul. That is why we read in the Book of
Revelation the menacing words to the Angel of the Church of Laodicea: "I know thy
works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because
thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew thee out of my mouth" (iii.
The Roman Catholic Church with which Patriarch Athenagoras
would establish liturgical communion, and with which, through the actions of Metropolitan
Nikodim of Leningrad and others, the Moscow Patriarchate has already entered into
communion, is not even that same church with which the Orthodox Church led by St. Mark of
Ephesus refused to enter into a union. That church is even further away from Orthodoxy
now, having introduced even more new doctrines and having accepted more and more the
principles of reformation, ecumenism and modernism.
In a number of decisions of the Orthodox Church the Roman
Catholics were regarded as heretics. Though from time to time they were accepted into the
Church in a manner such as that applied to Arians, it is to be noted that for many
centuries and even in our time the Greek Churches accepted them by Baptism. If after the
centuries following 1054 the Latins were accepted into the Greek and Russian Churches by
two rites, that of Baptism or of Chrismation, it was because although everyone recognized
them to be heretics, a general rule for the entire Church was not yet established in
regard to the means of their acceptance. For instance, when in the beginning of the XII
century the Serbian Prince and father of Stephan Nemania was forced into having his son
baptized by the Latins upon his subsequent return later to Rasa he baptized him in the
Orthodox Church (Short Outline of the Orthodox Churches, Bulgarian, Serbian and
Rumanian, E. E. Golubinsky, Moscow, 1871, p. 551). In another monumental work, The
History of the Russian Church (Vols. I/II, Moscow, 1904, pp. 806-807), Professor
Golubinsky, in describing the stand taken by the Russian Church in regard to the Latins,
advances many facts indicating that in applying various ways in receiving the Latins into
the fold of the Orthodox Church, at some times baptizing them and at others chrismating
them, both the Greeks and Russian Churches assumed that they were heretics.
From "An Open Letter to the Orthodox Hierarchy", by Fr. Michael Azkoul
"... If any have doubts that Papists and
Protestants are heretics, let him have recourse to history, to the reputable and sagacious
opinions and statements of councils, encyclicals and theologians. From the time of blessed Saint Photius, when Papism was coming into being,
the Church of God has defined Her attitude towards this
ecclesiological heresy even as She had towards the triadological and christological
heresies of ancient times. The Council of Constantinople (879-880) under Photius declared
the various innovations of the West to be heretical (J.D.
Mansi, Sacro. Council. nova et amplis.
collect. Venice, 1759, XVI, 174C, 405C); and the Council of the same imperial city (1009)
confirmed the decisions of Photius against the Papists (Mansi, XXXL, 799f). Theophylact of
Ochrida condemned the Papal errors (PG 126 224) as did Nicephorus Blemnydes, Patriarch of Constantinople (PG 142 533-564).
"His successor, Michael Anchialus stated' "Let
the Saracen be my lord in outward things, and let not the Italian run with me in the things of the soul, for I do not become of one mind
with the first; if I do not obey him, but if I accept harmony in faith with the second, I
shall have deserted my God, whom He, in embracing me, will drive away" (in J.
Giesler, Comp. Eccl.. Hist. Edinburg, 1953,
p. 490). Again, George of Cyprus (PG 142 1233-1245), Germanus II, Patriarch of
Constantinople (PG 140 621-757), Saint Marcus Eugenicos (PG 140 1071-1100) and Patriarch
of Constantinople, Gennadius (PG 160 320-373) all condemn the Papist heresies as does
Saint Simeon of Thessalonica (Dial. Christ. Contra Omn. Haer, PG 155 105-108), the illustrious successor to the most blessed,
St. Gregory Palamas, God-mantled enemy of Latin Scholasticism.
"In the l6th Century, despite the Turkish yoke,
Patriarch Jeremiah II of Constantinople rejected the Lutheran overtures in his Three Answers on the ground
of heresy while the Council of Constantinople (1638) repudiated the Calvinist heresies;
the Council of Jassy (1642) with Peter Moghila denounced "all Western
innovations" and the Council of Jerusalem (1672) under the famous Patriarch Dositheus published its 18 decrees together
with the pronouncements of the Patriarch, Confessio Dosithei, forming thereby the shield of truth" which opposed "the spirit of the ancient
Church" to "the heresies of both the Latins
and the Protestants" (See I Mesolora, Symbol
of the Eastern Orthodox Church (vol. IV), Athens, 1904).
Of course, the heresy of the Papists and Protestants is a clear affirmation of the
Orthodox Church as the "One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church" as declared
the Council of Constantinople (1672), the Encyclical of the
Eastern Patriarchs (1848), the Council of Constantinople (1872), the Patriarchal Encyclical of 1895, the Holy Russian Synod of 1904,
and the memorable words of [the] Patriarch of Constantinople, Joachim II, "Our desire
is that all heretics shall come to the bosom of the Orthodox Church of Christ which alone
is able to give them salvation ..." (in Chrestos Androutsos, The Basis
for Union ... Constantinople, 1905, p. 36)."
From Orthodox Tradition, Vol. XIII, No. 1, 41ff
"... As for those who, in defending the stand taken by Bishop Maximos and other
ecumenists of like mind, claim that the Roman Catholic Church and its teachings have never
been condemned by the Orthodox Church, let us cite the following statement from the Greek
periodical Hagios Kyprianos, a sober and erudite periodical which has, for a
number of years, published significant assessments of the ecumenical movement from a
traditional Orthodox point of view: "...Two Ecumenical Synods (the eighth /
879-880, concerning St. Photios the Great, and the ninth / 14th century, concerning St.
Gregory Palamas) and at least fourteen (14) other anti-papist Orthodox Synods have
condemned Papsim and its numberless errors in belief, while more than two hundred (200)
Holy Fathers and ecclesiastical writers have written against the Latins and have
overturned those dogmas which they hold in opposition to the Gospels." [Editorial
note.We should point out that many
Orthodox scholars consider the Synods held in Constantinople in 879-880, under Emperor
Basil I, and in 1341, under Emperor Andronicos III, to have an ecumenical character. In
1351, another Synod, held at the Blacharnai Palace under Emperor John VI Cantacouzenos,
fully upheld the decisions of the Synod of 1341, further supporting its ecumenical
From Orthodox Tradition, Vol. XIV, No. 2&3, 26
[In response to a question from a student at St.
Vladimir's Seminary ...] Second, let us see what a "contemporary" Father
of the Churchone who was awarded an honorary doctorate by your seminary,
incidentallyhas to say, in keeping with the true consensus of our Orthodox Patristic
tradition, about the heterodox. In his essay, "Attributes of the Church" (Orthodox Life,
Vol. XXXI, No. 1 [Jan.-Feb. 1981], p. 29), the Blessed Archimandrite
Justin (Popovich) writes:
From time to time, heretics and schismatics have cut
themselves off and have fallen away from the One and indivisible Church of Christ, whereby
they ceased to be members of the Church and parts of Her Theanthropic Body. The first to
fall away thus were the Gnostics, then the Arians, then the Macedonians, then the
Monophysites, then the Iconoclasts, then the Roman Catholics, then the Protestants, then
the Uniates, and so onall the members of the legion of heretics and schismatics.
From The Creeds of Christendom, ed. by Philip
Schaff (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1990 ).
For those not familiar with this book, it is a classic and scholarly
Protestant reference text. See also Augsburg and
Constantinople, by Fr. George Mastrantonis (Brookline: Holy Cross Press, 1982).
After considerable delay, Jeremiah II, [Patriarch of Constantinople] replied to the Lutheran divines at length, in 1576, and subjected
the Augsburg Confession to an unfavorable criticism, rejecting nearly all its distinctive
doctrines, and commending only its indorsement [sic] of the early ecumenical
Synods and its view on the marriage of priests. The Tubingen professors sent him an
elaborate defense (1577), with other documents, but Jeremiah, two years afterwards, only
reaffirmed his former position, and when the Lutherans troubled him with new letters,
apologetic and polemic, he declined all further correspondence, and ceased to answer...
The Answers of Jeremiah received the approval of the Synod
of Jerusalem in 1672, and may be regarded, therefore, as truly expressing the spirit of
the Eastern Communion towards Protestantism. It is evident from the transactions of the
Synod of Jerusalem that the Greek Church rejects Lutheranism and Calvinism alike as
dangerous heresies. (51-52)
Calvinism and Cyril Lucar's Confession
The Confession of Cyril Lucar was never adopted by any branch or party of the Eastern
Church, and even repeatedly condemned as heretical; but as it gave rise to the later
authentic definitions of the "Orthodox Faith," in opposition to the distinctive
doctrines of Romanism and Protestantism, it must be noticed here...
Cyril left no followers able or willing to carry on his work, but the agitation he had
produced continued for several years and called forth defensive measures. His doctrines
were anathematized by Patriarch Cyril of Berea and a Synod of Constantinople (Sept.,
1638), then again by the Synods of Jassy, in Moldavia, 1643, and of Jerusalem, 1672; (54,
The Synod convened at Jerusalem in March, 1672, by Patriarch Dositheus, for the
consecration of the restored Church of the Holy Nativity in Bethlehem, issued a new Defense
or Apology of Greek Orthodoxy. It is directed against Calvinism, which was still
professed or secretly held by many admirers of Cyril Lucar. It is dated Jerusalem, March
16, 1672, and signed by Dositheus, Patriarch of Jerusalem and Palestine (otherwise little
known), and by sixty-eight Eastern bishops and ecclesiastics, including some from Russia.
This Synod is the most important in the modern history of the Eastern Church, and may
be compared to the Council of Trent. Both fixed the doctrinal status of the Churches they
represent, and both condemned the evangelical doctrines of Protestantism... .But
although the Synod was chiefly aimed against Protestantism, and has no direct polemical
reference to the Latin Church, it did not give up any of the distinctive Greek doctrines,
or make any concessions to the claims of the Papacy.
The acts of the Synod of Jerusalem consists of six chapters, and a confession of
Dositheus in eighteen decrees. Both are preceded by a pastoral letter giving an account of
the occasion of this public confession in opposition to Calvinism and Lutheranism, which
are condemned alike as being essentially the same heresy, notwithstanding some apparant
differences. The Answers of Patriarch Jeremiah given to Martin Crusius, Professor in
Tubingen, and other Lutherans, in 1572, are approved by the Synod of Jerusalem, as they
were by the Synod of Jassy, and thus clothed with a semi-symbolical authority. The
Orthodox Confession of Peter Moghila is likewise sanctioned again, but the Confession of
Cyril Lucar is disowned as a forgery.
The Six Chapters are very prolix, and altogether polemical against the
Confession which was circulated under the name of Cyril Lucar, and give large extracts
from his homilies preached before the clergy and people of Constantinople to prove his
orthodoxy. One anathema is not considered sufficient, and a threefold anathema is hurled
against the heretical doctrines.
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 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. (61-62)
+ + +
Love for Heretics
There is no doubt at all that the standard of love put forth by the Holy Fathers
with regard to hereticsa standard
inherited from the Apostles,
reflects wholly the characteristics of the GodMan. This is expressed in the following
inspired words of Saint Maximos the Confessor:
"I write these things not wishing to cause distress to the heretics or to rejoice
in their illtreatmentGod forbid; but,
rather, rejoicing and being gladdened at their return. For what is more pleasing to the
Faithful than to see the scattered children of God gathered again as one? Neither do I
exhort you to place harshness above the love of men. May I not be so mad! I beseech you to
do and to carry out good to all men with care and assiduity, becoming all things to all
men, as the need of each is shown to you; I want and pray you to be wholly harsh and
implacable with the heretics only in regard to cooperating with them or in any way
whatever supporting their deranged belief. For I reckon it misanthropy and a departure
from Divine love to lend support to error, that those previously seized by it might be
even more greatly corrupted" (Patrologia Graeca, Vol. 91 col. 465c).
From The Panheresy of Ecumenism,
by Metropolitan Cyprian of Oropos and Fili (Etna, CA: The
Center for Traditionalist Orthodox Studies, 1995), 32.
+ + +
For Further Reading
St. Photios, On the Mystagogy of the Holy
Spirit (Studion Publishers, Inc., 1983). Aside from a superb English translation of
St. Photios' Mystagogy, this important book also includes the Synodicon on
the Holy Spirit, "St. Photios and the Filioque" by Michael Azkoul,
and "The Life of St. Photios" by St. Justin Popovich.
The Lives of the Pillars of Orthodoxy
(Buena Vista, CO: Holy Apostles Convent and the Dormition Skete, 1990). Contains the lives
of St. Photios, St. Mark of Ephesus, and St. Gregory Palamas. Over 600 pages.
Ostroumoff, Ivan, The History of the
Council of Florence (Boston, MA: Holy Transfiguration Monastery, 1971).
Papacy: Its Historic Origin and Primitive Relations with the Eastern Church,
by Abbe Guettee. Out of print but still available. Read this
excerpt on the False Decretals of Isidore.
Christianity or the Papacy? An Appeal to Roman
Catholics, by Fr. Alexey Young (St. John of
Kronstadt Press). A concise explanation of the differences between Orthodoxy and Roman
The Roman West and the Byzantine East, by
Bishop [now Archbishop] Chrysostomos of Oreoi [now of Etna] and Hieromonk [now Bishop]
Auxentios (Etna, CA: The Center for Traditionalist Orthodox Studies, 1988). A superb,
short treatment of general differences between East and West.
Kalomiros, Alexander, Against False Union
(Seattle, WA: St. Nectarios Press, 1982). He is the author of the famous essay "The River of Fire".
Welton, Michael, Two Paths: Papal MonarchCollegial Tradition
(Salisbury, MA: Regina Orthodox Press,
1998). From their website:
"[C]ompassionately, simply, and factually explains the historic, theological, and
liturgical differences between the Orthodox and Roman Catholic traditions."