A Traditionalist Critique of The Orthodox Church

by Hieromonk Patapios

Introductory Remarks

For over three decades now, The Orthodox Church, by my countryman, Bishop Kallistos (Ware) of Diokleia, Spalding Lecturer in Eastern Orthodox Studies at Oxford University and former Visiting Fellow at Princeton University, has served as a helpful introduction to the history, beliefs, and practices of Orthodox Christianity. Indeed, as a blurb on the back jacket of the new edition of his book notes, it “has become established throughout the English-speaking world as the standard introduction to the Orthodox Church': a handy, one-volume compendium of Orthodox Church history and theology that one might confidently give to non-Orthodox or prospective converts interested in learning more about Orthodoxy. As “the standard introduction” to Orthodoxy, it is to be found in almost any academic or public library, and certainly in any decent bookstore. But does this book deserve such a reputation?

At the outset, I should make it quite clear that, like countless others, I am grateful to Bishop Kallistos for having written this book, which I read with great enthusiasm some years ago when I first became interested in Orthodoxy. My comments on the new edition should be in no way construed as a personal attack on His Grace, or much less as a wholesale condemnation of his book. Bishop Kallistos is a Christian gentleman of the highest caliber and an Orthodox scholar who has done much to make our Faith better known in the West. Moreover, it is far from easy to summarize the richness and profundity of the history and teachings of Orthodoxy in the space of a single volume. While we may admit that there is no better overview of the Orthodox Church than this one, we are not thereby precluded from pointing out its shortcomings and, especially with regard to the new edition, its serious deviations from the strictest standards of Orthodoxy. Indeed, we would be failing in our duties as traditionalist Orthodox, were we not to advise our readership about the need to approach The Orthodox Church and, in particular, this new, revised version with extreme caution. Since the book itself falls into two parts, the first dealing with the history of the Orthodox Church and the second with Her Faith and worship, we shall follow these divisions in our present, rather extensive critical review.

The first edition of this work was published in 1963; it was reprinted the following year with sundry revisions. Since then, it has been reprinted numerous times, also with minor revisions. In 1993, a brand new edition—that to which I have made reference—was published, with an expanded and updated bibliography that contains many helpful suggestions for further reading: The Orthodox Church, new edition (Harmondsworth, UK: Penguin Books, 1993). One should keep in mind that, at the time of his composition of the original book, Bishop Kallistos was a layman in the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad (ROCA), as indicated in the biographical note at the front of the first edition. By 1993, however, he had not only long since departed from that jurisdiction, but had been Ordained a Priest and subsequently Consecrated a Bishop in the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Thyateira and Great Britain, belonging to the Œcumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople—the first Englishman since the Great Schism to attain such a position in the Orthodox Church. It is likely, therefore, that his change of jurisdiction, combined with the passing of time, which often leads to a modification of views held earlier in life, has influenced his presentation of Orthodoxy, and perhaps not always, I might regrettably say, for the better. As we proceed with our review, we shall see this suspicion confirmed in a number of ways. At this stage, let me just opine that the original edition of his book is not itself in every respect preferable to the new edition, as some traditionalist Orthodox believe. Many of the flaws observable in the 1993 version are present in the original, and so, while it is wise to follow the original, readers should be aware that it is by no means as reliable a guide to Orthodoxy as common thought would have it.

It goes without saying that Bishop Kallistos is perfectly entitled to amend his own work as he sees fit. Apart from anything else, he no doubt wanted, in the 1993 edition, to update the text, in order to take account of recent developments in the Orthodox world, and especially in Russia and Eastern Europe. Indeed, some of these corrections and additions are very welcome. Three particular examples come to mind. Firstly, he mentions the newly-Glorified St. Nicholas (Planas) of Athens, in a section dealing with the Church of Greece. Secondly, he discusses in the new edition the atrocities committed by the Croatian Ustashe against the Serbian people during the Second World War, which were not even mentioned in the original. Thirdly, he rightly places St. Nicodemos the Hagiorite in the broader context of the Kollyvades Fathers, which he failed to do in the earlier version. Also noteworthy, despite the decidedly sketchy treatment of the Old Calendarist movement in both editions, is the fact that His Grace is unfair neither to the Old Calendarists nor to the ROCA. Nowhere does he call us “schismatics” or “heretics”; nor does he claim, as does the Patriarchate to which he belongs, that we are un-Baptized and wholly outside the Orthodox Church. Indeed, in this new edition, he commends the ROCA for “preserving with loving faithfulness the ascetic, monastic and liturgical traditions of Orthodox Russia,” a traditional spirituality “of which western Orthodoxy stands greatly in need” (1993, p. 177).

Having said all of this, we should make it clear that our concern here is to point out, with an acknowledgement of these positive points, the various flaws in Bishop Kallistos’ exposition of Orthodox history and doctrine that have gradually become more pronounced over the years since he first published this book. These flaws in many instances parallel his change in ecclesiastical allegiance. They are, in any case, serious enough to warrant extended commentary, especially in view of the great popularity of this undeniably useful book.

Part I: History

Methodological flaws. It is certainly an unenviable task for anyone to attempt to convey the astonishingly rich and fascinating history of the entire Orthodox Church, throughout the two millennia of Her existence, in so short a space as the author has allowed himself. In general, Bishop Kallistos does a good job of recounting the development of Orthodoxy over the centuries, and there is no doubt as to the breadth of his reading. What is questionable, however, is the overall perspective from which he views the history of the Church. Like the present reviewer, he is a Westerner and a convert to Orthodoxy; as such, he still carries with him some baggage from his former confession. One does not gain the impression from reading the first part of this work that His Grace really believes that Divine Providence is the central guiding principle in the historical unfolding of the Orthodox Church. Indeed, at times he is content merely to repeat the hackneyed and jaundiced assessments of the Christian East so typical of Western Church histories and Patrologies. One would expect an Orthodox scholar to view events, persons, and controversies through the prism of the consensus Patrum, which always has primacy in Orthodox life and thought.

The Œcumenical Synods. His Grace introduces his discussion of the “General Councils” (more precisely, the “Œcumenical Synods”) with the popular—though erroneous—idea that the Synods “defined once and for all the Church’s teaching upon the fundamental teachings of the Christian faith” (emphasis mine); in fact, to paraphrase Father Georges Florovsky, that eminent theological thinker of our era, they simply defended what the Church had always known to be the truth. Bishop Kallistos does qualify this unfortunate terminological lapse with his assertion that the Synods set out to exclude false ways of speaking and thinking about the mystery of faith and sought, by means of their various “definitions” (that is, “horoi”; better, albeit inadequately, rendered as “decrees”) to draw a fence around this mystery. However, having extricated himself from this particular theological pitfall, he goes on to present a typically Western assessment of St. Athanasios the Great and the Cappadocian Fathers, according to which the former emphasized the “unity of God” and the latter His “threeness.” Such a contrast is not inherently mistaken, as long as it is not pressed so far as to imply that St. Athanasios did not appreciate the “threeness” of God or that the Cappadocians did not make due allowance for His “oneness.” This difference of emphasis has more to do with the different heresies that both were combatting, than it does with any lopsidedness in their respective theologies. One should be extremely cautious about posing contrasts of this kind, which all too easily contribute to the misperception that the Fathers were somehow at odds with each other, rather than members of an harmonious chorus.

An un-Orthodox view of the Papacy. In the ensuing pages, Bishop Kallistos makes two careless statements, one about the special place that Orthodox supposedly ascribe to the Pope of Rome, and the other concerning the terminological differences between Monophysites and “Chalcedonians” (i.e., Orthodox) in the area of Christology. We shall treat subsequently of both of these points. For the time being, however, we must take His Grace to task for a clearly misleading formulation of Papal primacy. He writes that: “Orthodox believe that among the five Patriarchs a special place belongs to the Pope” (1963, p. 35; 1993, p. 27). Do we believe this now? Except for some fanatical ecumenists, most certainly not. What he should have said is that in the first millennium, the East was prepared to accord some kind of primacy of honor, as he himself concedes later in the same paragraph, to the Patriarch of Rome—though not exclusively so, given the position of honor also accorded to Constantinople and the Mother Church of Jerusalem. Whatever this primacy may have been in the minds of the ancient Bishops, it is now a dead letter; so, indeed, is Rome’s very claim to Apostolic Succession. His Grace also suggests that we, as Orthodox, grant that the “Holy and Apostolic See” has “the right (under certain conditions) to hear appeals from all parts of Christendom” (ibid.). When it was still Orthodox in its confession of the Faith, the Roman Papacy may have played some such rôle. However, since it lapsed into heresy, this limited spiritual prerogative—whatever it may have been—has become utterly null and void.

Canards about St. Cyril of Alexandria. It is good to see that in the 1993 edition, the earlier error concerning the supposed iconoclastic activities of St. Epiphanios has been deleted. There is no basis to the allegation that he tore down a curtain with the figure of Christ depicted on it. Both the Iconodules and the Fathers of the Seventh Œcumenical Synod regarded this and other similar stories as wholly spurious. However, Bishop Kallistos fails to exonerate St. Cyril of Alexandria of the fatuous charge that, in his struggle against Nestorios, he “bribed the Court heavily and terrorized the city of Ephesus with a private army of monks” (1963, p. 44; 1993, p. 36). There is not a shred of evidence to support either claim, and an Orthodox believer should not give credence to such blasphemous nonsense. Readers interested in the truth about St. Cyril should consult a superb book by John McGuckin, St. Cyril of Alexandria: The Christological Controversy (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1994). Incidentally, Bishop Kallistos also ascribes far more importance to the Tome of St. Leo the Great at the Fourth Œcumenical Synod than it actually had. The Fathers of Chalcedon certainly accepted it as an Orthodox text, but only after carefully weighing it against the writings of St. Cyril. It took on no independent authority.

A revisionist reading of 1204. In the section of his book dealing with the breach in relations between East and West, His Grace is far more explicit in the original edition with regard to the outrages committed in the sack of Constantinople by the soldiers of the Fourth Crusade, in 1204. While not denying in the revised version that there were “three appalling days of pillage” (1963, p. 69; 1993, p. 60), it is noticeable that he now omits any reference to “the wanton and systematic sacrilege of the Crusaders” (1963, p. 69) or to the deep disgust that the Byzantines felt towards the marauders when they saw them placing prostitutes on the Patriarch’s throne in Hagia Sophia. As he ponders in the original, “Can we wonder if the Greeks after 1204 also looked on the Latins as profani?” (p. 69), an allusion to the insulting lines sung by the Crusaders as they carried off their booty, “Constantinopolitana, civitas diu profana” (“City of Constantinople, so long ungodly”). Since we cannot read the author’s mind, we do not know why he chose to omit these points in the new edition, which certainly would not have lengthened it appreciably. Nonetheless, we may surmise that he wished to avoid causing offense to non-Orthodox readers, perhaps with the thought that such unpleasant recollections might not serve the cause of rapprochement between the Orthodox and Roman Catholics. But would this cause not, in the end, be better served by an honest admission of past injustices?

Does the East need the West? At the end of this section, His Grace observes that both the Orthodox East and the Roman Catholic West have been grievously impoverished by the rift between these Christian traditions, adding the qualifier, “on the human level.” Then, in both editions, he concludes: “The Greek east and the Latin west needed and still need one another. For both parties the great schism has proved a great tragedy.” This is a wholly un-Orthodox way of looking at the Great Schism. From an Orthodox point of view, the Schism was not only a tragedy, but also an act of Divine Providence that protected the Eastern Church from infection by the bacterium of Latin heresy. And its tragic dimensions are to be found in the loss of human souls, many of whom were innocent victims of the heresies promoted by the Popes and their toadies. The loss was clearly Rome’s, not ours. We may reasonably ask, “Why do we still have need of the Latin west?” If it is for numbers, then this is neither here nor there, since the Church is true, no matter how few or many Her members. If, on the other hand, it is to be argued that the Latins are more proficient in administration and learning, then we will grant that they score highly in both of these areas. More efficient management of human and financial resources would certainly do the Orthodox Churches no harm; nor is there any doubt that we, as Orthodox, can benefit from good scholarship, be it Protestant or Catholic. But these are issues peripheral to correct belief and the true Faith. We should also observe that the Eastern Patriarchates were not without men of learning during the period following the Schism. Patriarch Theodore (Balsamon) of Antioch, St. Gregory Palamas, and Hieromonk Matthew (Blastaris), among others, immediately come to mind. And one can hardly fault the Orthodox Church, under the boot of the Turkish invaders, Uniatism, and then Communism, for lacking organizational precision; it was too taken with the things of simple survival.

A reappraisal of the Unia. There is nothing objectionable in the chapter in Bishop Kallistos’ book that deals with the conversion of the Slavs, and most of what the author relates about the Church under Islam is quite satisfactory. When it comes to the Unia, however, the original edition is definitely superior to the new edition, and it is here that Bishop Kallistos shows the extent to which he has been influenced by political ecumenism and, in particular, by his close contact with Ukrainian Uniates and other Eastern-rite Catholics. It is perhaps not accidental that he is on the editorial board of The Eastern Churches Journal, a Uniate periodical with a decidedly ecumenist orientation. We do not of course suggest that His Grace is betraying Orthodoxy by serving in this capacity; his decision to be involved with such a publication may be purely academic. Nonetheless, as Bishop Angelos of Avlona argues in his recent book, Ecumenism: A Movement for Union or a Syncretistic Heresy?, it is extremely hazardous for those whose faith is not so strong to participate in ecumenical activities. Even a theologian of the stature of Father Georges Florovsky was in some ways adversely affected by his admittedly heavy involvement in the ecumenical movement, a fact that he came to regret towards the end of his life. Bishop Kallistos would do well to ask himself, therefore, whether participation in ecumenical discussions is altogether innocent.

In any case, His Grace evidently felt it necessary to alter his forthright comments on the Unia in the original edition, either because he did not want to offend his Uniate friends or because he has come to believe that their version of events in late sixteenth-century Ukraine is more accurate. Let us see how the accounts of the Unia differ in the two editions. According to the first edition, by the final decades of the sixteenth century, Ukraine was ruled by the Roman Catholic kings of Poland and Lithuania, who made all Episcopal appointments for their Orthodox subjects, although the latter came under the jurisdiction of the Œcumenical Patriarchate. Such Bishops “were usually courtiers wholly lacking in spiritual qualities and incapable of providing any inspiring leadership” (1963, p. 104).

The Jesuits, indeed, undertook secret negotiations with these courtier-Bishops—the nominees, as His Grace emphasizes, of a Catholic monarch—, who were more than willing to coöperate with the machinations of the Order. In 1596, at the Council of Brest-Litovsk, the Unia was accepted by six out of the eight Bishops, including Metropolitan Michael (Ragoza) of Kiev. Thus did the “Uniate” church come into existence. There was certainly no popular support for such a contrived union. To be sure, a significant number of nobles, and the majority of the lower clergy and the laity, walled themselves off in resistance from their temporizing Prelates, forming “Brotherhoods” for the preservation of Orthodoxy. These were courageous moves, and all the more so because Orthodoxy was now effectively illegal in Poland-Lithuania, and those who remained faithful to the Church, Bishop Kallistos acknowledges, were “severely persecuted” (p. 105). Monasteries and Churches were seized by the authorities and handed over to the Uniates, and in some cases even to Jewish usurers, who would extort fees from the Orthodox for the celebration of the Mysteries. His Grace observes that: “The tale of the Uniate movement in Poland makes sorrowful reading: the Jesuits began by using deceit, and ended by resorting to violence” (ibid.).

Bishop Kallistos devotes, in total, three whole pages to the Unia in the original edition of his book, though for some reason he completely glosses over the brutal treatment meted out to the pious Faithful by that murderous apostate from Orthodoxy, Josaphat Kuntzevitch, canonized by the Roman Catholic Church in 1867 as a “Hieromartyr” and extolled by Pope John Paul II as a “noble personality.” This vicious pervert and monstrous persecutor of Orthodox Christians, ludicrously considered by Uniate theologians to have been a devout man of prayer and—incredibly enough—even a “Hesychast,” epitomizes the chicanery and vile foundations of Uniatism which His Grace otherwise, in his first edition, paints for the un-Christian deception that it was: a violent and perverse movement which led countless pious Orthodox Christians into the heresy of Papism.

By 1993, however, Bishop Kallistos’ attitude towards the Unia had evidently softened somewhat. His earlier account may be incomplete, but the revised version is truly a capitulation to Roman Catholic propaganda. The courtiers from among whom the Polish kings selected their Episcopal appointees for the Uniates are now only “sometimes” lacking in spiritual qualities. No mention whatsoever is made of the underhanded tactics employed by the Jesuits. Instead, His Grace claims that ”...a Romeward movement developed among the eastern Christians of the Ukraine towards the end of the sixteenth century” (1993, p. 95). He cites no evidence for this alleged “Romeward movement,” nor does he offer any explanation for it. Was this a case of “Papism by popular demand”? How are we to account for such a trend, and among which sectors of the populace did it manifest itself? Such a clearly artless portrayal of events renders the Unia far more benign than it was made out to be in the original edition. The author does admit that the Orthodox experienced severe repression from the Catholic authorities, but gives no details of this repression. As we saw in the earlier and accurate account, Orthodoxy in Poland-Lithuania was not so much repressed as outlawed; and worse yet, numerous Orthodox Christians suffered martyrdom for their adherence to Holy Tradition. It is sad that someone of His Grace’s intelligence should seek to rewrite history in this way, and thereby defile the memory of these heroic strugglers for the Faith who died fighting the Unia. Moreover, in his omission of the complicity of Jewish usurers in the persecution of the Orthodox, we can see the inroads now being made in the Orthodox Church by the cancer of “political correctness.” In a similar vein, Chapter 11, entitled “God and Man” in the first edition, is now called “God and Humankind,” presumably in an effort to avoid upsetting feminists by “gender-specific” (read: “literate”) language.

(For an Orthodox assessment of the Unia and a counterbalance to Bishop Kallistos’ revised treatment of the movement, see the excellent scholarly article by Deacon Father Herman Ivanov-Treenadzaty, “The Vatican and Russia,” Orthodox Life, Vol. XL, No. 2 [March-April 1990], pp. 8-24.*)

Ecumenical worship in the Levant. In both editions of his book, Bishop Kallistos juxtaposes the enmity provoked by the Unia in Eastern Europe with the “friendly relations” that obtained between Orthodox and Roman Catholics in the Levant, during the same period. He presents an idyllic picture of Greeks and Latins sharing in each other’s worship (a foretaste of today’s ecumenical services?), particularly in the Greek islands under Venetian rule—such as Kerkyra (Corfu): “[W]e even read of Roman Catholic processions of the Blessed Sacrament, which the Orthodox clergy attended in force, wearing full vestments, with candles and banners” (1963, p. 108; 1993, p. 98). There is no hint in this account that such inter-Christian worship was uncanonical and illicit from an Orthodox perspective, though this is precisely the perspective that an Orthodox historian should provide. Simply to report such canonical infractions without any commentary is thoroughly irresponsible, especially when, as His Grace perfectly well knows, these and other deviations on the part of the Orthodox inhabitants of Kerkyra were flatly condemned by sober Orthodox clergymen. Let us cite, for example, a well-known document dating from the middle of the sixteenth century, entitled “Ta sphalmata kai aitiamata ton Kerkyraion egoun Koryphiaton di ha autous apostrephometha” [“The Errors and Faults of the Corcyreans or Corfiotes, on Account of Which We Abhor Them'], written on Mt. Athos. There is, I might note, a critical edition of this very text in a book on St. Maximos the Greek by E. Denisoff, Maxime le Grec et L’Occient (Paris: Descle de Brouwer, 1943; pp. 440-444), to which Bishop Kallistos refers later on in his book. He could not, then, have been ignorant of this and other such condemnations of the violations of Orthodox collaborators with their Venetian conquerors.

Springtime on the Holy Mountain? The three chapters in the original edition dealing with the twentieth century were obviously greatly in need of updating, so as to reflect the political and social changes that have taken place in recent years—and above all, the demise of Communism. What His Grace says about the Greek Patriarchates—and among these we include that of Antioch which, though Arabic in terms of its ethnicity, can be regarded as Greek, insofar as it follows Greek liturgical practice—is generally accurate. His views of Mt. Athos are another matter. The pessimism which the author expressed about the Holy Mountain in the original edition has now given way to an optimism based on the observation that, since the 1970s, Mount Athos has experienced a “springtime,” or a new lease on life. There is no denying, of course, that many of the monasteries which seemed to be in imminent danger of dying out in the early 1960s, inhabited, as they mostly were, by only a few elderly monks, have been significantly revitalized by such Abbots as Ephraim of Philotheou, Basil of Iveron, and George of Gregoriou; nor can one deny that these spiritual Fathers have succeeded in attracting large numbers of young and well-educated monks.

However, not all on the Holy Mountain is in order. The forcible expulsion, in 1992, of a small community of monks affiliated with the ROCA, who refused, on grounds of conscience and their opposition to Constantinople’s Faith-compromising ecumenism, to commemorate the Œcumenical Patriarch casts a shadow over this “springtime,” as does the terrible fire that broke out not long before. This fire raged out of control for several days, despite the best efforts of monks and fire fighters. Litanies and supplications were of no avail in extinguishing the blaze, as they had been in the past, in similar circumstances. Curiously enough, there was rain everywhere on the peninsula, but not over the fire itself. Some of the older monks saw the working of Providence in this event, suggesting that it may have been a forewarning of worse calamities in the future (see An Athonite Gerontikon [Kouphalia, Greece: Publications of the Holy Monastery of St. Gregory Palamas, 1997], pp. 267-268). There are those who see these fires as a Divine chastisement for the capitulation of certain Athonite Fathers to the policies of Patriarch Bartholomew, whose Enthronement as Œcumenical Patriarch, in 1991, a large number of them attended.

The Monastery of New Valamo. Perhaps Bishop Kallistos was not wholly aware of all of the issues involved, but, much to his credit, he vigorously protested the expulsion from Mt. Athos of the ROCA-oriented community mentioned above. We may, then, grant that his view of the present state of affairs on Mt. Athos is not without its objective dimensions. But unless His Grace is either very naïve or simply indulging in extreme irony, it is hard to believe that he could make the following statement, as he does in the revised edition of his book, about the Church of Finland with a straight face: “The traditions of Valamo monastery are continued today by the Monastery of New Valamo at Heinävesi in central Finland” (1993, p. 133). In an interview two years ago with a major daily newspaper in Sweden, one of the monks of New Valamo spoke with great enthusiasm about his plans to build a center at the monastery for the HIV-positive and those afflicted with AIDS. He also admitted that New Valamo is not known for its asceticism, but said, in defense of this deficit, that it was a conscious choice of the community and has yielded “only good results.” He went on to say that Old Valaam (or Valamo) Monastery, now in Russia, has little to do with its Finnish counterpart (see Orthodox Tradition, Vol. XIV, No. 1, pp. 46-47). Since Old Valamo was renowned for its strict spiritual and moral standards and, over the centuries of its existence, produced hundreds of ascetic strugglers, many of them Saints of the Church, it is patently obvious that its traditions are not being upheld by New Valamo, which also regularly hosts ecumenical consultations.

Patriarch Parthenios of Alexandria. In the next section, on the Patriarchate of Alexandria, Bishop Kallistos makes the astonishing statement that the late Patriarch Parthenios III was “intellectually one of the more adventurous of Orthodox Church leaders,” who even expressed himself as being “in favour of the ordination of women priests” (ibid.). “Adventurous” is certainly one way of describing a Hierarch who went so far as to say, in an interview in 1989 with a German radio station, that he considered Mohammed to be “an Apostle, a man of God,” and then went on to assert that anyone who does not recognize Buddhism and other non-Christian religions as genuine paths to God sins against God (see Orthodoxos Typos, No. 854, October 6, 1989). In saner times, any Bishop who uttered such blasphemies would have been synodally condemned as a heretic, removed from office, and sent to a monastery to live out the remainder of his life in repentance. The present Patriarch, Peter VII, is still more “adventurous,” complaining that his predecessor was too conservative; Peter advocated, indeed, in his enthronement address, that the Orthodox Church intensify Her involvement in interfaith dialogue (i.e., dialogue with non-Christians).

Orthodoxy under the Communist Yoke. In both editions of this book, the chapter dealing with Orthodoxy behind what was the “Iron Curtain” is accurate and judicious, on the whole. The original goes into greater detail regarding Patriarch Tikhon’s condemnation of the Russian Bolsheviks and the infamous declaration of Metropolitan Sergius, “Deputy Locum Tenens” to the Patriarch, to the effect that the “joys and successes” of the Soviet Union were the joys and successes of the Russian Church. It also contained more details about the rejection of Sergianism by the overwhelming majority of the Russian Hierarchy, among whom were the Holy New Martyrs Cyril of Kazan, Peter of Krutitsa, and Agathangel of Yaroslavl. Some of this information is contained in the 1993 edition; but the new chapter is marked by a spirit of revisionism. In the original, His Grace states that Metropolitan Peter was “chief among the opponents of the 1927 declaration” and that, to the end of his life, he refused to accept the Sergianist capitulation to the Soviets, advising Metropolitan Sergius to resign if he lacked the strength to protect the Church (1963, p. 163). By contrast, in the revised edition, we read that “[i]t was rumored that even the Patriarchal locum tenens, Metropolitan Peter, was opposed to the 1927 declaration, but it is impossible to be sure of this” (1993, p. 154). On what basis does His Grace make such a claim? What new evidence uncovered in the last thirty years has led him to change his mind so drastically? We may at least be thankful that he does not slander the ROCA, which bases its rightful opposition to the Sergianist legacy in Russia at least partly on the witness of Metropolitan Peter; and, reading between the lines, we can be fairly certain that Bishop Kallistos still does not believe that Sergius’ compromise with the Soviet tyranny was justified. Indeed, commenting on the relative freedom extended to the Church by Stalin after the Second World War, he notes that ”...[w]hat saved the Church was not the leadership of Sergius, but an historical accident—the war—and also, more fundamentally, the faithful endurance of the believing Russian people” (1993, p. 156). Nevertheless, he should have been altogether more forthright in condemning the demonic notion that Sergius “saved” the Church by taking upon himself the sin of lying, or, as the courageous dissident Zoya Krakhmalnikova terms it, “the anti-Christian, anti-Church myth about the salvation of the Church by a political compromise” (“Christian Reading—Nadezhda: Hope for the World,” The Orthodox Word, Vol. XXIV, Nos. 5-6 [142-143] [September-December 1988], p. 305).

Orthodoxy in Europe. Chapter 9, which deals with the Orthodox presence and missionary endeavors in the “diaspora,” concludes the first part of The Orthodox Church. Bishop Kallistos has obviously tried to bring the corresponding chapter in the original edition up to date, and in this respect he is largely successful. We will make only two observations on this chapter. First, in discussing the renowned Monastery of St. John the Baptist in Tolleshunt Knights, Essex, he mentions that it is a mixed community of men and women. It may well be that there were no nuns living there when the book was first written, but it is certainly strange that he should cite this information in the new edition without any comment about the irregularity of such a situation. There were, admittedly, some “double monasteries” in certain places in the early Christian centuries, but they were soon phased out, when it became clear to discerning monastic leaders that they had the potential for giving rise to not a few problems. To the best of our knowledge, the monastery in Essex has never experienced a scandal. Let us hope that this continues to be the case. However, in our perverted generation, such spiritual experimentation is unwise and some mention should have been made of this fact by Bishop Kallistos in this chapter.

His Grace also refers to the figure of Archimandrite Lev (Gillet), better known as “A Monk of the Eastern Church.” Without denying his significant literary contribution to Orthodoxy in this century, we must point out that Father Lev was never, strictly speaking, Orthodox, except in name. Metropolitan Evlogy of Paris, a notorious modernist and ecumenist, received him into Orthodoxy in a most unusual way: by concelebration—no vesting, no renunciation of heresies, no Chrismation: nothing. Moreover, one need read only a few of his writings to realize that Father Lev never truly converted to Orthodoxy. Throughout his life, he considered himself to belong to both the Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church, in some mysterious way—although at times he would say that “the light shines brighter in the Eastern Church.” We do not wish to condemn Father Lev, who by all accounts lived a life of great poverty and simplicity and who was a sympathetic spiritual Father to many people; nor do we in any way impugn the uprightness of his intentions. However, we feel it necessary to indicate “the source of the profound and extensive errors in [the] theological outlook” of a man who was, quite manifestly, “neither Orthodox in his ecclesiology nor traditional in his personal spiritual life” (“Questions and Comments from Readers,” Orthodox Tradition, Vol. XIII, No. 1 [1996], p. 31). Bishop Kallistos might have shown similar objectivity here.

Part II: Faith and Worship

A creative approach to Tradition. The chapter on Holy Tradition, in that portion of Bishop Kallistos’ book dedicated to faith and worship, is good; and there is not much in it that would mislead the average reader. However, as is often the case with this work, we find dubious statements nestled in the midst of otherwise irreproachable presentations of a particular topic. The following paragraph is a case in point. In the original edition, His Grace asserts that “[t]rue Orthodox fidelity to the past must always be a creative fidelity.” We cannot rest content with a parrot-like repetition of traditional formulae, he argues; we must see Tradition “from within,” that is, by entering into its inner spirit. Tradition is “a life, a personal encounter with Christ in the Holy Spirit”; it “lives in the Church, it is the life of the Holy Spirit in the Church” (1963, p. 206). In other words, Tradition is far from a mere handing-on of propositions; in order to understand it, we must experience it or appropriate it personally. Now, granting that there is much good here, what is meant by “creative” fidelity? If the idea is that we must experience Tradition for ourselves and make it our own, then we have no argument with this notion. But one could read this as a justification for innovation or “doing your own thing.” And this is assuredly not an Orthodox idea. What does Bishop Kallistos mean?

To answer this question, we need only turn to the revised edition of his book, where what he has in mind becomes much clearer. His Grace now maintains that we must not only see Tradition from within, but must also “re-experience the meaning of Tradition in a manner that is exploratory, courageous, and full of imaginative creativity” (1993, p. 198). In a sense he is right. After all, is it not the case that we, as Old Calendarists, have in recent years articulated an ecclesiology of resistance and “walling-off,” in response to the calendar change and to participation by the Orthodox in the ecumenical movement? We have re-experienced the meaning of Tradition by applying the writings of the Fathers to our contemporary situation. This ecclesiology, however, is based strictly on the presupposition that we are “following the Holy Fathers,” the only formula which properly expresses how we, as Orthodox, understand ourselves. We would never characterize our ecclesiology as “exploratory,” “courageous,” or “imaginative.” Such words as these are fraught with peril, since they convey the impression of one feeling his way in uncharted terrain or striking out in some novel direction. Moreover, the Fathers ubiquitously and flatly discourage any use of the faculty of imagination in theology or spiritual life, on the grounds that it tends to lead people to spiritual delusion.

As for courage, it is obviously a quality necessary for one who wishes to say something true but unpopular. For example, given the intolerance of political ecumenism in our day, it takes no little courage to state openly that the heterodox have no Grace in their sacraments. But to assert, as the late Patriarch Parthenios apparently did, that the Orthodox Church should Ordain women to the Priesthood, or, as Patriarch Ignatios IV of Antioch did in public, that “[w]e are all [viz., Orthodox and heterodox] members of Christ, a single and unique body, a single and unique ‘new creation,’ since our common baptism has freed us from death”—and these are but two examples of the now innumerable impieties uttered by ecumenists and modernists—, is to display an attitude of sheer recklessness and audacity. It is to speak of Tradition in a cowardly way and to deviate from true confession. These are the very Hierarchs who give expression to Bishop Kallistos’ ideas and who would tell us that they are pursuing a course of imaginative exploration with courage.

There are two other points in this chapter that require some comment. In common with many other contemporary theologians, His Grace posits a distinction between “Tradition” and “traditions,” that is, between “the one Tradition, the essential [or fundamental] Christian message” and “the many traditions which the past has handed down” and which “are human and accidental—pious opinions or worse” (1963, p. 205; 1993, p. 197). Aside from the fact that this distinction is not to be found in the Fathers, as Constantine Cavarnos has confirmed (see his New Library, Vol. I [Belmont, MA: Institute for Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies, 1989], pp. 137-138), it would be better to characterize “traditions” as “customs,” which in some cases are not only at variance with genuine Tradition, but should also be eradicated. For example, Metropolitan Augoustinos of Florina, the most conservative Bishop in the Church of Greece, has bluntly condemned the custom, or rather superstition, observed in certain rural areas of not attending Church for three years after a death has occurred in the family. The habit of communing only once or twice a year is another example of a “tradition” that has crept into Church life over the past few centuries. Indeed, the Kollyvades Fathers, who advocated a return to frequent communion, were regarded as dangerous innovators in the face of such unenlightened customs passing as tradition, when in fact they were simply pleading for a restoration of the age-old practice of the Church. Similarly, those who maintain that converts from heterodox churches should be received by Baptism are now branded by prominent ecumenists, such as Father Thomas Hopko, as “innovators”! In other words, this false distinction has allowed innovators to dismiss valid traditions which compromise them as “traditions,” when in fact any such distinction should be applied only to folk customs and superstitions, not to the enduring traditions of the Church, as innovators so often do today.

This leads us to another, related issue. In both editions of his book, the author argues that, by virtue of their increased exposure to Western critical scholarship, the Orthodox are now better able to determine what is indispensable in their heritage. He also avers, in a brief discussion of the concept of “the Fathers,” that “Patristic wheat needs to be distinguished from Patristic chaff” (1963, p. 212; 1993, p. 204). This last remark begs the question: “Did the Fathers produce chaff?” To be sure, as His Grace points out, individual Fathers have erred. St. Augustine’s teaching on Grace and free will is not in harmony with the consensus Patrum; nor are some of the speculations of St. Gregory of Nyssa on the apokatastasis (universal restoration). The word “chaff” (achyrodes), however, is specifically applied in sacred hymnography to the heresies of Arios (see the service to St. Nicholas of Myra, December 6 [third sticheron at the Aposticha of Vespers]). We may concede that, being human, the Fathers were not always at their best. But to characterize this or that work as “chaff” is astonishing. Let us take the Fathers themselves as our model, when we find what appear to be questionable ideas in Patristic texts. St. Photios the Great had occasion, in his collection of book reviews, the Bibliotheke, to note “errors” in the writings of certain Fathers; but he did so with exemplary charity and care. How much more should we eschew heavy and irreverent expressions. Our attitude should be that of Shem and Japheth, who, out of filial love, covered the nakedness of their father, Noah, after he had become inebriated, whereas Ham went at once to tell his brothers about it (Genesis 9:18-27).

The heterodox share the same basic beliefs as the Orthodox. We are not a little surprised that His Grace blithely assumes that, with the exception of apophatic theology and the essence-energies distinction, “Orthodox agree in their doctrine of God with the overwhelming majority of those who call themselves Christians” (1963, p. 218; 1993, p. 210). He goes on to state that “Monophysites and Lutherans, Nestorians and Roman Catholics, Calvinists, Anglicans, and Orthodox: all alike worship One God in Three Persons and confess Christ as Incarnate Son of God.” In the revised edition, in yet another nod to ecclesiastical “political correctness,” the Monophysites are called “Non-Chalcedonians” and the Nestorians “the Church of the East.” Now, in criticizing these remarks, we are not suggesting, as do some fanatics, that Calvinists and Catholics are Devil-worshippers. It is only proper that we call them Christians, since they have Christ as the center of their faith. Nonetheless, there is undoubtedly a degree of oikonomia involved in designating the heterodox as Christians. To begin with, the essence-energies distinction and the apophatic approach to theology which is so closely bound up with it were decisively upheld by the Synods of 1341 and 1351; therefore, they constitute indispensable elements of Holy Tradition and of our understanding of God, true Theology. “Christians” who do not accept these teachings have clearly alienated themselves from the fullness of the Faith.

However, let us be more specific about each of the churches mentioned above. Roman Catholics not only reject the essence-energies distinction, but have, over the course of their centuries of apostasy from the Orthodox Church, introduced a host of innovations into Christianity, chief among which are the dogmas of Papal Supremacy and Infallibility, the Filioque, Created Grace, the Immaculate Conception, and Purgatory. Anglicans and Lutherans still generally accept only the first four Œcumenical Synods, and the ever-expanding Evangelical wing of the Anglican communion vehemently opposes veneration of the Theotokos and the Saints and the Mystery of Confession, to name but two areas of disagreement. As for Calvinists, their disdain for holy Icons, based on a rejection of the Seventh Œcumenical Synod, is notorious, as is their exaltation of preaching at the expense of the sacramental life; this is to say nothing of their denial of the threefold Apostolic Ministry of Bishops, Priests, and Deacons. This last error, being ecclesiological in nature, is eo ipso also a serious Christological deviation. Monophysites, of course, reject the last four Œcumenical Synods, and Nestorians accept only the first two. Now since, as Bishop Kallistos himself admits, the fundamental concern of all the Œcumenical Synods was Christological and Soteriological, obdurate refusal to recognize even one of them signifies, in and of itself, a major departure from basic Christian doctrine. What more need be said of the supposed agreement between Orthodox and heterodox doctrines?**

The Filioque. We have already commented on the political correctness involved in altering the title of Chapter 11 of his book from “God and Man” to “God and Humankind.” Suffice it to say that such inanities were scarcely even entertained by sober individuals when Bishop Kallistos’ work first saw the light of publication in the early 1960s. Given our criticisms thus far, I am pleased to report that in the second edition, this chapter, setting aside its renaming, is as good as the previous one. It is virtually identical to Chapter 11 in the first edition, save for one glaring exception: its treatment of the Filioque. As we noted previously in connection with his revisionist interpretation of the Unia, it is painfully obvious that His Grace’s ecumenical activities have adversely affected his Orthodoxy.

In the original edition, the author gives a very clear general account of the Filioque and the problems to which it gives rise. He emphasizes that for the Greek Fathers, the Father is the unique source or cause (arche) of the Godhead, from Whom the Son is eternally begotten and the Holy Spirit eternally proceeds. Although he mentions the speculation advanced by Gregory of Cyprus, that the Spirit is eternally manifested by the Son, he does not exaggerate the difference between Gregory and St. Photios in the way that Aristides Papadakis tends to do in his otherwise fine study, Crisis in Byzantium. His Grace also makes a clear distinction between the eternal procession of the Holy Spirit from the Father alone, and His temporal mission from the Father through the Son. He summarizes these observations with the comment that Filioquism “confuses the persons, and destroys the proper balance between unity and diversity in the Godhead,” stressing the “oneness” of God at the expense of His “threeness” and the essence at the expense of the Hypostases (1963, p. 222). Moreover, because the Filioque leads to a subordination of the Spirit to the Son, in Western theology, he rightly observes, the Spirit tends to fade into the background; thus, “the Church has come to be regarded too much as an institution of this world, governed in terms of earthly power and jurisdiction” (1963, p. 223). Likewise, overemphasis on the unity of the Godhead has resulted in excessive centralization and Papalism.

It is evident that Bishop Kallistos has substantially re-written this section of the book, in the course of preparing the new edition. As we said before, he is perfectly free to make whatever changes he wishes in the light of further reading and reflection over the past thirty years. However, two points need to be borne in mind. First, he is a Bishop, and as such he has a grave responsibility not only to uphold, but also to teach, the Orthodox Faith. Secondly, he is a well-known scholar and lecturer whose writings command great prestige in the Orthodox world—and particularly among English-speaking Orthodox, who tend to take him very seriously. He should, therefore, exercise the utmost caution in presenting his views on any given topic, and not least of all in the context of a book that is likely to continue reaching a wide audience.

Whereas in the original edition, His Grace gave a fairly straightforward explanation of the Filioque and the Orthodox objections thereto, in his new edition he leaves the reader with the impression that the Orthodox Church does not know how to deal with this issue. Using terminology reminiscent of the Vietnam War and the Cold War era, he divides Orthodox theologians into two camps: the “hawks” and the “doves.” The “hawks” are those who follow such Fathers as St. Photios and St. Mark of Ephesus, “in regarding the doctrine of the Double Procession as a heresy that produces a fatal distortion in the western doctrine of God as Trinity” (1993, p. 213). Vladimir Lossky is cited as a leading “hawk” in our century. By contrast, the “doves,” who apparently lack any Patristic basis for their more “lenient” approach, do not consider the Filioque to be a heresy, although they “deplore” Rome’s unilateral insertion of this phrase in the Symbol of Faith. They maintain, instead, that it is a theologoumenon, that is, a theological opinion, which “is capable of being interpreted in an Orthodox way” (ibid.).

Before we go on, we should point out that words like “hawk” and “dove” have absolutely no application to matters of theology. Although Bishop Kallistos does not align himself with either camp, we may infer from his evident approval of Orthodox participation in the ecumenical movement that he regards the attitude of the “hawks” as an impediment to reconciliation between Orthodoxy and Papism. When a “dove” calls someone else a “hawk,” he is usually casting the other person in a negative light. In the case of the Filioque controversy, His Grace appears to be saying that St. Photios and St. Mark were “hawks” because they were ill-disposed towards the West, just as the “hawks” who opposed unilateral nuclear disarmament during the 1970s and the 1980s were supposedly motivated by a hatred for Russia. In reality, just as these political “hawks” were opponents of Communism, not the Russian people, so, in the same way, the Fathers were not opposed to the West per se, in resisting the Filioque, but rather to Western church leaders and theologians who obstinately preached heresy.

Oddly enough, the “hawkish” position on the Filioque issue is more or less identical to that which His Grace presented in the original edition of his book. Perhaps he, too, was a “hawk” in his younger days, but has now become more irenic in his views. But what do the “doves” find objectionable in the “hawkish” approach? First, that “[i]t is only in this century that Orthodox writers have seen such a close link between the doctrine of the Double Procession and the doctrine of the Church” (1993, p. 216). The falsity of this assertion can be demonstrated in the clear connection drawn by St. Gregory Palamas, in his First Apodictic Discourse on the Procession of the Holy Spirit, between the addition to the Symbol of Faith and the haughtiness of the Pope, a “new ecclesiological principle” which set aside “the consensus of the Fathers and the Synods as the unique[,] authentic foundation of the Church and the sole means of preserving the traditional Faith” (Archimandrite [now Metropolitan] Amphilochije Radovich, “‘Le Filioque’ et L’nergie Incre de la Sainte Trinit selon la Doctrine de Saint Grgoire Palamas,” Messager de l’Exarchat du Patriarchat Russe en Europe Occidentale, Nos. 89-90 [1975], p. 14).

Second, that it is not absolutely true that the personal principle of Divine unity, that is, the Hypostasis of the Father, was not upheld in the West, and third, that it is an exaggeration to say that the West ends up depersonalizing the Trinity by emphasizing the unity of essence rather than the diversity of Hypostases. In response to the second objection, we can note that, according to St. Photios’ Mystagogy, St. Augustine’s teaching on the Double Procession was erroneous. At the same time, let us admit, as Bishop Kallistos contends, that St. Augustine did not teach the Filioque as a dogma. Nor did he advocate that it be added to the Symbol of Faith. Nonetheless, his thinking in this area was pivotal to the further development of this heresy, and many Westerners drew on his witness. Therefore, the “hawk-dove” dichotomy is neither useful, nor does it vindicate the Filioque, except by way of over-stating the true Orthodox view. We would do well simply to accept the assessment of St. Photios.

With regard to the third objection, we must admit that it is inadvisable to draw too great a contrast between the characteristic Triadological approaches of East and West, and especially when we are speaking about the Eastern and Western Fathers. His Grace rightly points out that abstract philosophical treatments of Trinitarian theology are the result of the degenerate scholasticism that prevailed in the later medieval period, although earlier on he cited Aquinas—who was certainly not a degenerate scholastic theologian—to the effect that the inter-Trinitarian relations themselves are “Persons.” Here, once more, we might bow to the consensus Patrum and observe that, seen through the prism of the canon of Orthodox dogma, Western Triadology contains both wholesome and unwholesome trends, and thus fails to capture the perfection of Orthodox confession. The problem is not, as His Grace imagines, one of mere contrast, but of heterodox thought measured against the standard of the Church, which is contained within Orthodoxy.

What is most surprising in the new edition of his book is the extent to which Bishop Kallistos distances himself from his own critique of the Filioque in the original text. It is perhaps worthy of note that this book was first published long before the “official” Orthodox Churches entered into intense dialogue with the Roman Catholics. This fact perhaps accounts for the “stricter” position set out in the first edition of The Orthodox Church and the more equivocal evaluation of the Filioque problem that we find in the 1993 revision.

Before we move on to consider other problems in the new edition of the book, we must draw our readers’ attention to an alteration of the original that is not only startling, but which also sheds further light on the author’s new-found sympathy for a “dovish” attitude towards the Filioque heresy. In the course of a lucid exposition of Orthodox ecclesiology, Bishop Kallistos characterizes the Church as the image of the Holy Trinity, as the Body of Christ, and as a continuation of Pentecost. The Church is an Icon of the Trinity, he states, “reproducing on earth the mystery of unity in diversity.” The coinherence (perichoresis) that we see in the three Hypostases of the Trinity is mirrored by the coinherence of the members of the Church. The independent autocephalous Churches parallel the autonomous Hypostases of the Godhead, and, “just as in the Trinity the three persons are equal, so in the Church no one bishop can claim to wield an absolute power over all the rest.” Up to this point, both the old and new editions are identical. In the revised edition, however, the following statement is added: ”...yet, just as in the Trinity the Father enjoys preeminence as source and fountainhead of the deity, so within the Church the Pope is ‘first among equals’” (1993, pp. 240-241 [emphasis mine]). One cannot help but wonder if perhaps His Grace neglected to read through the revised version of his book before sending it to the publisher. What Father of the Church has ever put forth such an astounding idea? This is outright Papolatry of a kind that would make all but the most hardened Ultramontanists cringe with embarrassment.

The implication of this addition to the original edition of the book is that the Pope is the source of all other bishops, which, even though it may be true of the Catholic Church in the sense that the Pope is ultimately responsible for all appointments to the episcopacy, is certainly not in keeping with the current trend among contemporary Catholic theologians to view the Papacy in more collegial terms. Moreover, it is scarcely consistent with the Orthodox ecclesiology that His Grace sets forth a few pages later, according to which the Church is not monarchical in structure, but collegial, Her unity being maintained not “from without by the authority of a Supreme Pontiff,” but “from within by the celebration of the Eucharist” (1993, p. 246). We will return to the subject of the Papacy near the end of this review. Let us simply say that, beyond contradicting himself with these astonishing claims about the Papacy, Bishop Kallistos clearly demonstrates for us that, whether a charge peculiar to modern times—and we have argued that it is not—or an older one, the Filioque heresy is somehow inevitably linked to questions of ecclesiology and the issue of authority and subordination in the Episcopacy.

The Immaculate Conception as a theologoumenon. What Bishop Kallistos says about the Most Holy Theotokos in his book is generally sound. However, after outlining the Orthodox objections to the Papist dogma of the Immaculate Conception, he opines that “if an Orthodox today felt impelled to believe in the Immaculate Conception, he could not be termed a heretic for so doing” (1963, p. 264; 1993, p. 260). This is a curious idea, indeed. If the Immaculate Conception is such an erroneous doctrine, why would any Orthodox Christian in his right mind want to believe it? His Grace observes that it has never been formally condemned by the Orthodox Church, and infers from this that it falls within the somewhat nebulous realm of theologoumena. We must point out, however, that this term is subject to widespread abuse in contemporary Orthodoxy. It literally means “things which are theologized” or “things stated by theologians,” that is, opinions or ideas expressed by Church Fathers which may well be true, but are not binding on the Faithful and have not been synodally endorsed. Theologoumena are not simply personal views and they certainly do not encompass manifest heresies. No Father has ever taught the Immaculate Conception, with the possible exception of St. Dimitri of Rostov; but, as we all know, St. Dimitri, like many other Russian Churchmen of his era, was heavily influenced by Latin ideas. Finally, let us note that Bishop Kallistos’ line of thinking is inherently flawed. We might just as well argue that because the Assembly of God Church (a Pentecostal sect) has never been specifically condemned as heretical by an Orthodox Council or Synod, an individual Orthodox cannot, thereby, be considered a heretic or an apostate for frequenting that body’s services or speaking in tongues. We do not, of course consider Pentecostalists to be Orthodox, notwithstanding the recent “acceptance” of their baptisms by the Œcumenical Patriarchate, incredible as this may seem.

The Templon and the Curtain. The three chapters in this book on Orthodox worship are well written and informative. However, in the first of these chapters Bishop Kallistos makes some imprecise statements about the Templon or Iconostasion. Like many other contemporary Orthodox scholars, he maintains that the Templon as we know it today is a fairly recent development in Orthodoxy and advocates a return to what is alleged to be the early—and therefore supposedly more authentic—form of the Templon, that is, a low screen about three or four feet high, supporting an open series of columns, surmounted by a horizontal beam. It is not clear from the text in either edition whether His Grace believes that such a screen supported a series of Icons as well. Here is what he says: “Only in comparatively recent times—in many places not until the fifteenth or sixteenth century—was the space between these columns filled up [With what? Icons? —H.P.], and the iconostasis given its present solid form” (1963, p. 276; 1993, p. 270). If he is asserting that Templa with Icons—and is there any other legitimate kind?—did not become common until just a few centuries ago, he is talking sheer nonsense. For a trenchant critique of modernist views on this subject, we refer our readers to an outstanding article by the late Leonid Ouspensky, “The Problem of the Iconostasis” (St. Vladimir’s Seminary Quarterly, Vol. VIII, No. 4 [1964], pp. 186-218).

The author’s comments on the curtain which hangs behind the Beautiful Gates (not the “Holy Door,” as he inappropriately calls it) are also rather lacking: “During services, at particular moments the gates are sometimes open, sometimes closed and the curtain drawn.” This remark is not wrong, but he could easily be more specific. Indeed, there is nothing at all mysterious about the rôle of the curtain in Orthodox worship. At the Divine Liturgy, for example, according to the most common rubrics, it is opened while the celebrants take Kairon and is not closed until after the Cheroubikon. It is opened again before the Symbol of Faith and closed while the clergy commune. After they have communed, it is opened once more, and then closed at the end of the Liturgy. That is all there is to it. His Grace remarks that many Greek churches no longer close the gates or draw the curtain, and that some have gone so far as to remove the gates and the curtain altogether; but he observes that this is not correct, and that only the curtain need be removed. Of course, neither the gates nor the curtain should be removed, and the curtain should be opened and closed as indicated above. To do otherwise is an ill-advised innovation and an offense against piety. If anyone is inclined to believe that Bishop Kallistos is right in what he says about the Templon and its curtain, he need only view some of the more egregious examples of modernist Church architecture in the USA, such as the new Chapel at St. Vladimir’s Seminary in Crestwood, New York or the (New Calendar) Greek Church of the Annunciation in Madison, Wisconsin (designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, incidentally). He will immediately understand, seeing these virtual copies of Roman Catholic and Protestant churches, why we Old Calendarists have preserved the traditional form of the Templon.

Sacraments and “Sacramentals.” In both editions of The Orthodox Church, Bishop Kallistos has a tendency to employ Western terminology to an almost inexcusable degree. Thus, even in the new edition, in which he supplies the correct names of all the major Orthodox Feasts, he persists in calling the Feast of Pascha “Easter,” never so much as mentioning that the term “Pascha” has a theological significance, in the Orthodox Church, which should not be over looked. Likewise, although he explains that sacraments are known as Mysteries in Orthodox usage, he consistently refers to them as sacraments; hence, the distinction between “sacraments” and “sacramentals,” one foreign to Orthodox thinking.

In his introductory remarks on the Orthodox understanding of the Mysteries, His Grace writes that “while all seven are true sacraments, they are not all of equal importance, but there is a certain ‘hierarchy’ among them,” that “[a]mong the seven, Baptism and the Eucharist occupy a special position,” and, citing a phrase adopted by the Romanian Orthodox-Anglican dialogue in 1935, that these two are “preeminent among the divine mysteries” (1963, p. 282; 1993, p. 276). This idea is wholly un-Orthodox and without any warrant in Patristic tradition. Indeed, it is a piece of purely Anglican theology, which was doubtless adopted by the aforementioned dialogue in typically ecumenist fashion. The Romanian theologians involved in these dialogues should have hung their heads in shame for compromising the Orthodox Faith. While they were thus busily engaged in efforts to recognize Anglican orders, the Romanian Old Calendarists were being tortured and put to death at the orders of the notorious ex-Uniate Patriarch Miron. We offer this observation in order to characterize correctly the spiritual state of the “official” Romanian Church and thus to place in proper perspective any pronouncements by Her theologians at the time—which should be taken cum grano salis. With regard to the idea of a “hierarchy” of Mysteries, let us observe that, at least in traditional Orthodox practice, Confession is required before an adult is Baptized and that the Eucharist can only be celebrated by one who has been Ordained a Presbyter or Consecrated a Bishop. Thus, the Mysteries are all interrelated, as the Blessed Archimandrite Justin (Popovich) of Chelije so eloquently states in his ecclesiological writings (see “The Attributes of the Church,” Orthodox Life, Vol. XXXI, No. 1 [January-February 1981], pp. 28-33). There is no literal hierarchy or subordination in the Church’s Mysteries.

His Grace goes on to point out that the “seven sacraments” must never be isolated “from the many other actions in the Church which also possess a sacramental character, and which are conveniently termed sacramentals” (1963, p. 282; 1993, p. 276). The term “sacramental” has no foundation whatsoever in Orthodox Tradition and is simply borrowed from Latin usage. Among the examples of “sacramentals” that His Grace cites, monastic Tonsure and the burial of the dead are both classified by St. Dionysios the Areopagite as Mysteries, while the Blessing of waters and the Anointing of a monarch are unquestionably Mysteries in the strict sense of the term. At the end of this section, to his credit, Bishop Kallistos asserts that the whole Christian life should be seen as “a single mystery or one great sacrament.” This concluding observation renders the earlier foray into Papist mysteriology effectively meaningless.

Baptism. It is good to see someone of His Grace’s eminence stressing the importance of triple immersion for the correct performance of the Mystery of Baptism. But in so doing, he inexplicably observes that “the priest immerses the child in the font, either plunging it entirely under the water, or at any rate pouring water over the whole of its body” (1963, p. 284; 1993, p. 277 [emphasis mine]). With this qualification he literally annuls his earlier affirmation of the necessity of triple immersion. The practice of placing the child in a font and simply pouring water over its body is called “affusion” (not “infusion,” as he puts it in the revised edition) or, as one clergyman of our acquaintance has termed it, “basting”; it does not fulfill the ancient canonical requirement of immersion, and not just a few Orthodox Fathers have condemned this practice.

This section on Baptism, let us note, is typical of the entire book. One sentence of impeccable Orthodox doctrine is immediately followed by another which either contradicts it or waters it down to such an extent that the first sentence no longer has any real force. This approach is so prevalent in his work, that one is tempted to conclude that Bishop Kallistos either wants to have it both ways, or cannot finally decide what he actually believes. This is a sad trait in a Hierarch, who is obligated not only to know the Faith that he represents, but also to proclaim it without equivocation of any kind whatsoever.

To resume our critique, let us see once again how the passage of time has taken its toll on the original edition of The Orthodox Church. In 1963 Bishop Kallistos wrote as follows: “Orthodox [presumably Orthodox in general, if not in fact all—H.P.] are greatly distressed by the fact that western Christendom, abandoning the primitive practice of Baptism by immersion, is now content merely to pour a little water over the candidate’s forehead” (p. 284 [emphasis mine]). Thirty years later we read: “Many Orthodox are disturbed by the fact that western Christendom, abandoning the primitive practice of Baptism by immersion, is now content merely to pour a little water over the candidate’s forehead” (p. 277 [emphasis mine]). How is it that not all Orthodox are any longer “greatly distressed,” but only “disturbed,” by such a deviation on the part of the heterodox? In this particular case, we must admit that His Grace cannot be wholly faulted, for he does portray the reality of the situation. Sadly, even the 1993 version could now be justifiably emended to read: “Some Orthodox are mildly concerned....” Indeed, with the advent of the “Baptismal theology” of the Orthodox ecumenists, championed by the late Professor John Karmiris and the lamentable Metropolitan John (Zizioulas) of Pergamon, we are virtually obliged to add a qualifying clause to Bishop Kallistos’ statement: ”...—while other Orthodox have no trouble acknowledging the rich diversity of sacramental discipline in the ‘Sister Churches’ of Orthodoxy.” In an incisive exposé of this heresy of “Baptismal theology,” Archimandrite Cyprian includes a photograph of a woman minister of some unnamed Protestant denomination pouring water over a child’s head, beneath which he adds the following caption: “According to John of Pergamon, the ‘baptism’ performed by this woman minister brings a child into the ‘domain’ of the Church!” (see “The ‘Baptismal Theology’ of the Ecumenists: Another Version of the Protestant ‘Branch Theory’” [in Greek], Orthodoxos Enstasis kai Martyria, Nos. 26-29 [January-December 1992], p. 37).

In the 1993 version of his book, Bishop Kallistos admits—and, commendably, with some regret—that many clergy in the Anglican communion have abandoned even the innovations of affusion or sprinkling, and are now content to smear “some slight moisture” on the child’s forehead. He denies that this in any way constitutes a real Baptism. His remark that some Orthodox clergy have also grown lax about observing the proper practice is an important one; it applies not to affusion and to “basting” alone, but to an innovation not unlike that which His Grace condemns among the Anglicans. According to the testimony of Archpriest Joachim Lapkin, formerly of the Moscow Patriarchate and now of the Free Russian Orthodox Church (ROCA), adult Baptism in Russia is very rarely performed by immersion, but rather simply by wetting the candidate’s forehead (see an “Interview with Archpriest Joachim Lapkin,” Orthodox Life, Vol. XLII, No. 3 [May-June 1991], pp. 25-37).

There is a very serious error in the final paragraph of this section. Bishop Kallistos claims that in cases of emergency, Baptism can be performed “by any man or woman, provided they [sic] are [sic] Christian.” He makes the further observation that Roman Catholics are wrong to allow that, in such cases, even a non-Christian can “administer Baptism.” His explanation, that “[t]he person who baptizes must himself have been baptized,” is quite correct, but it negates the previous sentence. According to (“hawkish”?) Orthodox teaching, heterodox baptisms are devoid of any validity, and so a Prebyterian nurse, for example, cannot validly baptize a dying child into Orthodoxy, since she herself is un-Baptized, as far as the Orthodox Church is concerned. This is perhaps a politically embarrassing point, but it is the teaching of the Orthodox Church.

Chrismation. The section dedicated in The Orthodox Church to this issue is something of a mixed bag. Although it is accurate on the whole, yet again we can detect a watering-down of genuine Orthodox teaching. Bishop Kallistos correctly states in both editions of his book that Chrismation is used as a “sacrament of reconciliation” for Orthodox who apostatize to Islam, for example, and subsequently return to the Church. He goes on to state that the Patriarchate of Constantinople and the Church of Greece also receive Roman Catholics by Chrismation, whereas the Russian Church usually receives them after a simple profession of faith, without Chrismating them. Anglicans and other Protestants, he tells us, are always Chrismated. In the revised edition he adds this sentence: “Sometimes converts are received by Baptism” (emphasis mine).

There are some factual errors here. On the Holy Mountain, which is under the jurisdiction of the Œcumenical Patriarchate, in more conservative circles of the Church of Greece, and even in certain Greek parishes under Constantinople in the diaspora, Catholics and Protestants are received by Baptism. Needless to say, all of the Old Calendar Churches insist that converts be Baptized. His Grace’s statement about “the Russian Church,” moreover, begs the question: Which Russian Church? The ROCA now routinely receives converts by Baptism, while the Orthodox Church in America (OCA) usually requires Catholics, and certainly Episcopalians and other Protestants, to be Chrismated.

The Eucharist. In an otherwise lucid presentation of Orthodox teachings about the Eucharist, Bishop Kallistos explains that, although the “Blessed Sacrament” (yet another inappropriate and gratuitous Latinism) is reserved in a tabernacle on the Holy Table, Orthodox “do not hold services of public devotion” before It; “nor do they have any equivalent to the Roman Catholic functions of Exposition and Benediction,” “although there seems to be no theological (as distinct from liturgical) reason why they should not do so” (1963, p. 292). These curious assertions are altogether omitted in the revised edition of The Orthodox Church. What difference would there be between a theological and a liturgical reason, except that the latter is a species of the former? In the revised version His Grace correctly states that the Holy Mysteries are reserved so that communion can be given to the sick, and for no other purpose. Unfortunately, in both editions he adds that the Priest blesses the people with the Holy Gifts during the Divine Liturgy. No doubt he has in mind here the custom of making the sign of the Cross with the Cup (and the Diskos, if no Deacon is serving), which probably derives from an attempt to ape the Latin rite of Benediction. This custom, though ubiquitous, is quite improper. The correct practice is for the Priest simply to show the Gifts to the people and then return them to the Table of Prothesis.

Two further points should be made in connection with this section. First, His Grace characterizes the Eucharist as “essentially a meal” (p. 285). This is trendy liturgical scholarship of the kind that we would not expect from a scholar of Bishop Kallistos’ stature. Secondly, in both editions of his book, he states that non-Orthodox who happen to be attending the Divine Liturgy in an Orthodox Church are in most parishes “permitted—and indeed, encouraged—to receive the Antidoron, as an expression of Christian fellowship and love” (1963, p. 295; 1993, p. 288). This observation ignores the fact that Orthodox themselves who do not commune are, nonetheless, required to keep the same fast as those who are communing, if they are to receive Antidoron; a fortiori, heterodox Christians, who are not allowed to commune in Orthodox Churches and who, with very few exceptions, do not follow any kind of fasting regimen, should obviously not be given Antidoron.

Confession. There is not much difference between the two editions on this issue, with the welcome exception that, in the revised edition of The Orthodox Church, the author notes that the Slavic formula of absolution, deriving from the Latin formula “ego te absolvo” (“I absolve you”), represents a deplorable departure from the traditional Eastern practice, for “in no other case does the priest speak in the first person singular” (p. 290). More importantly, His Grace might have observed, forgiveness in Orthodox confession is Christocentric and focuses on forgiveness through His redemptive power, not on the Priesthood per se.

Holy Orders. We are happy to give a positive report on what Bishop Kallistos has to say about this subject, too, at least in the original edition. In response to the demand, now gaining ground in some of the modernist jurisdictions, that married Priests be Consecrated Bishops—in order to cope with the declining pool of suitable candidates among the monastic ranks—, he astutely observes that the proper solution is “to reinvigorate the monastic life itself” (1963, p. 299; 1993, p. 291). (In the case of the Antiochian Archdiocese in America, which is very vocal in its support of a married Episcopacy, this would entail inaugurating the monastic life, since this particular Exarchate has no monasteries at all! And this fact perhaps speaks loudly of the unhealthy climate which most often spawns moves towards innovation.)

Sadly, however, the new edition reflects the decade in which it was written and the ascendency of militant feminism. Whereas in the original text, absolutely nothing was said about the ordination of women to the priesthood, there are two entire pages on the subject in the revised version.*** Yet again, in an effort to present both sides of the question—which is not a bad idea in and of itself—, His Grace ends up leaving the reader confused as to the true Orthodox view of the matter at hand. He tells us that there is “a small but growing minority within Orthodoxy” which feels that the whole question of the ordination of women has not yet received “the rigorous, searching examination that it requires” (p. 293). Yet, the late Patriarch Parthenios of Alexandria openly advocated the ordination of women. In England, Metropolitan Anthony (Bloom) of Sourozh has, albeit guardedly, expressed sympathy for this idea. In America, Metropolitan Anthony of Dardenelion, although stopping short of explicitly endorsing it, has paved the way for it by sanctioning the use of “inclusive language” in the Divine Liturgy. Elizabeth Behr-Siegel in France and Eva Catafygiotou-Topping in America have for years endorsed this innovation. And the super-modernist Antiochian Archdiocese of America now has young girls and women, in several parishes, serving in the Altar as “handmaidens”—an unprecedented innovation which one Antiochian Priest had the unmitigated gall to claim was part of Holy Tradition (see “Liturgical Notes,” Orthodox Tradition, Vol. XV, Nos. 2-3 [1998], p. 39). In the face of such advocacy, Bishop Kallistos should have either remained silent about this subject, as in the 1963 edition of his work, or pointed out that “rigorous, searching examination” aside, such innovation is foreign to the history, spirit, and theology of the Orthodox Priesthood.

Moral Issues. This section, like the previous one dealing with the ordination of women, is evidently a product of the Zeitgeist. In the original edition of The Orthodox Church, for example, there was no reference at all to homosexuality, which was scarcely even discussed in public back then; in the new edition, however, we are urged “to show the utmost pastoral sensitivity and generous compassion” “in all specific cases of homosexuality” (p. 296). His Grace is right in advocating pastoral sensitivity here, just as he is in maintaining that the Church cannot give Her approval to same-sex unions. Archbishop Chrysostomos, who was trained in psychology and taught this subject before becoming a monk, likewise observes that homosexuality is a cruel and demonic disorder which merits precisely the kind of gentle pastoral approach that Bishop Kallistos recommends. But, as His Eminence emphasizes, such care applies to any kind of sin, sexual or otherwise, and we should not, because of political pressure from “gay rights groups,” pretend that this particular sin deserves special leniency. Indeed, the Fathers of the Church, not to mention Scripture, are unanimous in their conviction that homosexuality, as a serious perversion, is canonically a sin of an especially serious kind and that it requires very strong therapy, if it is to be successfully treated.

At the end of the paragraph on this subject, Bishop Kallistos cites the moving story of Abba Bessarion, who, on seeing a brother who had fallen into sin expelled from the Church, stood up and went out with him, saying “I, too, am a sinner.” There seems to be a suggestion by association, here, that the sin in this anecdote was homosexual in nature. Such presumptions one might expect in the writings of the late John Boswell, a medieval historian of some note and a prominent gay activist who attributed homosexual motivations to the least likely of spiritual figures. The naïve reader should be told that there is, to be sure, not the least evidence for the suggestion that the sin mentioned in this edifying aphorism from the Desert Fathers involved sexual perversion. None.

Likewise, when it comes to birth control, we can see an obvious shift of moral ground in Bishop Kallistos’ views. Whereas in 1963, His Grace said that artificial contraception was forbidden in the Orthodox Church, he now remarks that “today a less strict view is coming to prevail” (p. 296). This is an area in which there really are differences of opinion even among Traditionalist Orthodox, and on which it is probably best to avoid making bold pronouncements. But it is manifestly unwise to challenge a widely accepted standard—that of clear opposition to the free use of contraceptives by Christian couples—with what is “trendy” or “is coming to prevail.” This is not an Orthodox view of how the Church comes to guide its Faithful.

The Difficulty of Fasting. About His Grace’s paragraph on the difficulty of fasting in contemporary times, we need only comment that in our day and age especially, it is very easy to keep all of the appointed fasts strictly. Even in England, where the practice of fasting was abandoned centuries ago, it is now possible to find an abundance of fasting foods on supermarket shelves. The pressing conditions of modern life that Bishop Kallistos cites are neither here nor there. He states that, given these “conditions,” “certain dispensations are granted” (what dispensations, by whom, and on what basis?), but neglects to mention that infants, pregnant women, and the elderly are not required to fast rigorously. As for healthy people who refuse to obey the rules of the Church, in response to Bishop Kallistos’ unfounded sympathy with them, we need only say that “[their] god is their belly” (Philippians 3:19).

The Calendar Question. In spite of his change in jurisdiction since he first wrote this book, Bishop Kallistos strives to be fair-minded on the issue of the Church Calendar. The account of the calendar change in the original edition is quite good. He points out that the “Inter-Orthodox Congress” convened by Patriarch Meletios IV (Metaxakis) of Constantinople in 1923 was neither truly inter-Orthodox nor really a congress; in fact, it was an utter farce and a blasphemous parody of a genuine Orthodox Synod. Of the Churches that attended the Congress, only two sent their own delegates, namely Constantinople and Serbia. The Churches of Greece and Cyprus were both represented by Hierarchs of the Œcumenical Throne, while the delegate of the Romanian Church was not even authorized to speak for his Church, and could only express his personal opinion. In the new edition, the quotation marks around “Inter-Orthodox Congress” have disappeared, and the text now says that the Congress “was attended by some, but by no means all, of the Orthodox Churches” (p. 301). We can be more specific than this: of the eleven autocephalous Churches that existed at that time, only four were represented, that is, less than half. His Grace thus deviates to some extent from his original position, but is still to be commended for a lack of heavy-handedness.

In a book of this scope, we could hardly expect much space to be devoted to the persecution visited upon the Old Calendar movement. On the other hand, something more than “they were persecuted by the civil authorities” would seem in order. In the original edition, His Grace admits, if only parenthetically, that “many...[Old Calendarist]...leaders died in imprisonment,” a fact that is omitted in the revised version. In neither case, however, does he say anything about the desecration of Churches and Icons, the arrest, torture, and banishment of clergy, the violation of nuns, the deprivation of basic civil liberties, and the disenfranchisement of the Old Calendarists by the Greek government—all of this at the express instigation of ecclesiastical authorities, with the aim of crushing popular resistance to the calendar innovation. Nor does the author point out that the Papal Calendar, which formed the basis of the “New Julian” Calendar, was condemned by no less than three genuinely Inter-Orthodox Synods (1583, 1587, and 1593). We must acknowledge, however, that he at least refers, in the new edition, to the existence of Old Calendarists in Cyprus and Romania, though without noting that the latter were imprisoned, tortured, and murdered in huge numbers by the “official” Romanian Church. It is likely that, even as late as 1993, His Grace did not know anything about the Bulgarian Old Calendar Church, for which reason over-sight of this important group of Orthodox is understandable.

“Reunion, not absorption.” This final chapter of Part Two, and of the entire book, is as unsatisfactory in the revised edition as it was in the original. Readers encountering this book for the first time in either version should keep in mind that, while Bishop Kallistos has always been an ecumenist, he has become more committed to this movement over the past thirty years. In spite of this, since he is a fair man, he does his best to present both sides of the heated debate in Orthodox circles over what is differently seen as the peril or necessity of Orthodox participation in the ecumenical movement.

In both editions, His Grace begins this chapter by affirming that “[t]here are divisions among Christians, but the Church itself is not divided, nor can it ever be” (1963, p. 315; 1993, p. 307). This is an impeccably traditional expression of Orthodox ecclesiology. Now, given this statement, what is the attitude of the Orthodox Church towards the movement for the reunion of Christians? One would expect that, since we consider ourselves to be the One True Church, we would want to share our rich inheritance with Christians who have been separated from us for centuries and who have been deprived of the saving Grace of the Holy Mysteries.

But as is so often the case with this book, we are given the impression that logical deduction, in Orthodoxy, always yields to the ostensibly acceptable process of “different approaches.” Although the author does not use the terminology of “hawks” and “doves,” here, the “rigorist” and “moderate” schools of ecclesiological thought smack of the same spirit. The “doves,” whose moderation apparently derives from their “close personal contact with other Christians,” hold that “while it is true to say that Orthodoxy is the Church, it is false to conclude from this that those who are not Orthodox cannot possibly belong to the Church” (1963, p. 316; 1993, p. 308). Somehow or other, the heterodox may be linked to the Church by invisible bonds: “We know where the Church is but we cannot be sure where it is not.” We must neither pass judgment on non-Orthodox, nor leave them outside the boundaries of the Church, as if they were simply unbelievers. In response to this line of thought, let us point out that since the Church on earth is a visible organism through which Her members are united with God and with each other by their participation in the Holy Mysteries, being “invisibly” linked to Her without the benefit of the Mysteries is of no avail whatsoever. So what point have we made, if we accept this kind of non-Patristic speculation?

The “hawks” maintain quite the opposite position, that unless one is Orthodox, he cannot belong to the Church. They do not deny, however, that God’s Grace is active outside the visible boundaries of the Church, and especially—we should add—in leading the heterodox to relinquish their errors and embrace Holy Orthodoxy. Commendably enough, Bishop Kallistos advises “[w]orkers for Christian unity who do not often encounter this rigorist school” not to forget “that such opinions are held today by Orthodox of great holiness and loving compassion” (1993, p. 309; in the original text, this rejoinder reads, ”...by many Orthodox of great learning and holiness” (p. 317). Perhaps the “hawks,” we can construe from Bishop Kallistos’ words, are not so bad after all, if they are indeed full of compassion towards the heterodox. We can accept this, adding, as “rigorists,” that our position does make perfect sense: either one belongs to the Church or he does not.

Problems arise yet again, however, when His Grace contends that, in desiring the conversion or reconciliation of the heterodox to Orthodoxy, we do not require other Christians to submit “to a particular centre of power and jurisdiction” (1963, p. 317; 1993, p. 309). He evidently has in mind here the possibility, sometime in the future, of an entire heterodox denomination seeking to enter into unity with Orthodoxy with its own “traditions” intact. He goes on to argue that because the Orthodox Church is a “family of sister Churches,” separated communities can be integrated into Her without losing their autonomy. In other words, “Orthodoxy desires their reconciliation, not their absorption” (1963, p. 317); or, according to the new edition, it “desires unity-in-diversity, not uniformity; harmony-in-freedom, not absorption” (p. 309). There is room in Orthodoxy, he suggests, for different cultural patterns, different forms of worship, and even different systems of outward organization.

All of this is terribly vague. Is His Grace talking about Western-rite Orthodoxy on a large scale? In the first edition of his book, he says that we have no intention of turning Western Christians into “Byzantines” or “Orientals.” Is he, therefore, envisaging a situation in which certain autonomous communities would function in the same way that “Uniates” do in Papism—retaining their characteristic liturgical and theological traditions? Would Bishops, fasting, Confession, Icons, etc., be made optional? Would statues, orchestral music, liturgical dance, clowning, and the other abominations of contemporary Western Christianity become accepted as legitimate expressions of Orthodoxy?

Diversity, it would seem, is possible in all of the areas above, but not in matters of faith. “Before there can be reunion among Christians, there must first be full agreement in faith” (1963, p. 318; 1993, p. 310 [emphasis in the text]). By “faith” Bishop Kallistos means dogmas and Tradition; “traditions” and customs are of no importance. This is very dangerous thinking. Can our Orthodox Faith ultimately be separated from Icons and from our living liturgical and spiritual traditions? Can it be reduced to certain doctrinal fundamentals? Is the mosaic of the Faith subject to expression in other forms, or do such forms distort the Faith—making a dog of a king, to use an ancient image? Let us take as an illustration the traditional practice of celebrating memorial services for the reposed. In all Orthodox cultures, it is customary, even obligatory, for the family of the deceased to prepare a dish of kollyva. The precise ingredients and recipes vary from country to country, but some kind of boiled wheat is always offered at memorial services. Now, it can be easily argued that this is just an ethnic custom of “Oriental” provenance, which we have no right to impose on Westerners. Perhaps a group of Waldensians, wishing to be reunited with Orthodoxy, could celebrate with boiled macaroni instead. This might be admissible, although the vital symbolism of the grains of wheat, sprouting forth as an image of immortality, would be lost in the process of culinary translation. But what about a community of Anglicans who wanted to dispense altogether with kollyva and simply sing hymns in memory of their loved ones? Would Bishop Kallistos draw the line here?

Other examples of supposed “ethnic customs” which some modernist Orthodox want to make optional, and eventually abolish, include fasting, Confession before communion, head-coverings for women, clerical rasa (which, as we all know, through a bit of scholarly chicanery, the modernists dismiss as purely Turkish in origin), the practice of taking a Saint’s name at the time of one’s Baptism (or reception), and the corresponding celebration of one’s Name Day. The point in all of this is that Orthodoxy is reified in daily life; it is not just a religion concerned with abstract doctrine or a matter of inward belief alone. It is “a totality of belief and religious practice built upon and inseparable from correct belief” (see pertinent comments by Archbishop Chrysostomos of Etna, “Orthodox Baptism: In Response to The Illuminator,Orthodox Tradition, Vol. XIII, No. 1 [1996], p. 4). Orthodoxy (right doctrine) is inseparable from Orthopraxy (the correct practice of the Faith). As one Anglican clergyman, cited in the original edition of The Orthodox Church, rightly observes: “[T]he Faith is like a network rather than an assemblage of discrete dogmas; cut one strand and the whole pattern loses its meaning” (T.M. Parker, 1963, p. 319). His Grace would do well to hold to the wise thinking of this Anglican clergyman in his current writings.

Intercommunion. The revised edition of Bishop Kallistos’ book goes somewhat further than the original in analyzing the issue of inter-communion; that is, communion between Orthodox and non-Orthodox. In principle, he contends, there is no room for intercommunion until full unity of faith is achieved: “Either Churches are in communion with one another, or they are not: there can be no half-way house” (1963, p. 319; 1993, p. 310). This is well said. However, the customary ecumenical qualifier follows immediately: “Such is the basic Orthodox standpoint concerning intercommunion, but in practice it is qualified in various ways” (1993, p. 310). Orthodoxy, we are assured, is not monolithic on this subject. A small minority, he argues, wants to see a less rigid attitude on the part of the Orthodox; the majority disagree with this view, but “they would perhaps allow occasional exceptions to the general prohibition... for personal and pastoral reasons” (1993, p. 311).

Astonishingly enough, His Grace admits that almost all Orthodox Churches allow for “economic” intercommunion; that is, that they occasionally permit non-Orthodox—for example, a Methodist in Bulgaria—, who have no access to clergy of their own church, to receive communion from an Orthodox Priest. We say “astonishingly,” because when we anti-ecumenist Old Calendarists point out such abuses, we are denounced as liars and slanderers, whereas ecumenists, like Bishop Kallistos, are praised for their candor and courage when they make such remarks. This demonstrates the utter hypocrisy of Orthodox ecumenism.

Even more amazing is His Grace’s subsequent comment, that Orthodox who are cut off from an Orthodox parish may commune in heterodox churches “in some cases with the tacit or even explicit blessing of an Orthodox bishop” (1993, p. 311). This would seem to be rather a pointless exercise, given that there are no Mysteries outside the Orthodox Church, as His Grace confirms. By contrast, in the 1963 edition of The Orthodox Church, things were a good deal stricter: “Orthodox are forbidden to receive communion from any but a priest of their own Church” (p. 319). Incidentally, it is noteworthy that His Grace expresses “deep sorrow that we cannot share in communion with other Christians,” but no sorrow whatsoever about his inability to share in communion with us Old Calendarists and the Russian Church Abroad. This observation becomes all the more forceful when we recall that in August of 1993, at the Fifth World Conference on Faith and Order in Santiago de Compostella, Bishop Kallistos was, by his own admission, overcome by profound anguish over the impossibility of communing at a eucharistic service of the Spanish Reformed Episcopal Church!

Relations with Heterodox Communions. This section of the book certainly stood in need of a major overhaul. No mention was made in the original edition of the Second Vatican Council, though this is probably because the Council only commenced the year before. With regard to the Monophysites, prospects for rapprochement are presented in 1993 in a far more positive way than they were thirty years ago. Orthodox ecu-babble now calls the Orthodox Church and the Monophysite heretics “families,” a term unknown to the Fathers. Despite negative feelings on both sides, we learn, it looks as if the anathemas will soon be lifted. The Nestorians (“The Church of the East”) are unfortunately still rather short of theologians to express their doctrinal position, and so not much is to be expected from this quarter, His Grace notes.

We should remember that the original edition of The Orthodox Church was published a year before the infamous meeting between Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras in Jerusalem. Relations between Orthodox and Catholics were still somewhat strained, at that time. In the last thirty years, they have improved considerably, and an official bilateral dialogue has been opened, although it is presently foundering on the rock of the continued existence of the Unia. His Grace still maintains that Orthodoxy cannot accept the definitions of the First Vatican Council concerning the infallibility and the supreme universal jurisdiction of the Pope. Orthodoxy can, however, he affirms, accept the Pope as an “elder brother,” to use the formula proposed by the Orthodox Youth Movement of the Patriarchate of Antioch. In a reunited Christendom we would, thus, readily assign to the Pope not only a primacy of honor, but also attribute to him “an all-embracing apostolic care” (1993, p. 316). But how different is such “all-embracing apostolic care” from universal and immediate jurisdiction? Roman Catholic teaching can very easily interpret the latter in an innocuous way, as precisely some kind of all-embracing care for the rest of the Churches. And in so doing, they can expect from the Orthodox something which the Orthodox may not wish to give. Furthermore, on what basis is Christendom to be reunited? If it is to be on the basis of Orthodoxy, then we might require the Latins, who bear primary responsibility for the Great Schism, to repent and humble themselves for all of their past heresies, crimes, and innovations. Would this not of necessity place the Roman See in a much different position, today, than that which it had in the ancient Church?

With regard to the Anglican communion, it is rather surprising that Bishop Kallistos makes no mention of the drastic new step taken by this denomination in 1989, that of consecrating a woman to the episcopacy. Does this not render further dialogue with the Anglicans completely futile? Unless the official Orthodox take leave of their senses and proceed to Ordain women to the Priesthood, and perhaps eventually to the Episcopacy, what possibility is there, now, for any kind of reunion with this body? How likely is that the Anglicans will ever decide to reverse their policy of ordaining and consecrating women? His Grace rightly points out the extreme comprehensiveness of the Anglican communion, which encompasses everyone from hard-line Calvinists through open Unitarians to lace-wearing Anglo-Catholics. In view of that admission, what kind of union could we have with Christians who claim to be both Catholic and Reformed, but who in reality have not the slightest idea what they are?

In spite of all that we have said, Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, during an official visit to the Church of England in 1993, “mentioned the special relations ‘between our two sister Churches’ and characterized the ‘major issue of the ordination of women’ as an ‘enormous obstacle’ ‘in addition to the traditional differences which already exist between our two Churches’; ‘however,’ he continued, ‘we have not become discouraged, nor have we broken off dialogue, because discouragement has no place in the lives of responsible men of Faith’” (Bishop Angelos of Avlona, Ecumenism: A Movement for Union or a Syncretistic Heresy? [Etna, CA: Center for Traditionalist Orthodox Studies, 1998], p. 48). Hence, we presume that Bishop Kallistos, rather than basing his assessment of Orthodox-Anglican relations on realistic foundations, has simply followed the lead of Patriarch Bartholomew, who apparently feels that Christian “responsibility” transcends dogma and common sense.

Relations with the World Council of Churches. Finally, let us see how Bishop Kallistos deals with Orthodox participation in the WCC.He begins this section of the revised edition with a petition from the Great Litany: “For the peace of the whole world...and the unity of everyone.” This is an eccentric translation, to say the least. The petition actually reads: “For the peace of the whole world, for the good estate of the Holy Churches of God, and for the union of all.” His Grace gives the impression that the Orthodox Church is praying for the unity of all mankind, rather than—as it is—for the unity of the Orthodox Church. In keeping with its Orthodox meaning, this final clause of the petition is interpreted by Bishop Angelos of Avlona with reference to the Prayer of the Anaphora at the Divine Liturgy of St. Basil the Great: “‘Bring back those who have gone astray, and unite them to Thy Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church’; ‘make the schisms of the Churches to cease’; ‘speedily destroy the uprisings of heresies by the power of Thy Holy Spirit’” (ibid, p. 21). It is a plea for the re-integration of heretics and apostates into the Church.

We can determine the author’s true colors from his characterization of the infamous 1920 Encyclical issued by the Constantinopolitan Patriarchate, addressed “To the Churches of Christ Everywhere,” as “bold and prophetic” (1993, p. 322). Is this another way of saying that it was “adventurous”? Metropolitan Cyprian of Oropos and Fili, the President of our Holy Synod in Resistance, denounces this Encyclical as heretical, impious, and anti-ecclesiastical: “It denies Orthodoxy, violates correct belief, and insults the Holy Fathers” (The pan-heresy of Ecumenism [Etna, CA: Center for Traditionalist Orthodox Studies, 1992], p. 15).

With a typically British use of litotes, Bishop Kallistos admits that the Orthodox participants in the WCC “have often found their membership problematic” (1993, p. 323). They used to submit separate statements from the rest of the delegates at the General Assemblies, we are told. Since the Third General Assembly in New Delhi, in 1961, however, they have made joint statements with the heterodox. He notes that the Orthodox delegates often find themselves frustrated by the excessive “horizontalism” of WCC meetings, wherein social and economic issues are overemphasized at the expense of serious theological dialogue. It is curious that the Orthodox ecumenists complain so much about this horizontalism, when they originally entered the ecumenical movement on the understanding that it would not involve them in theological discussions, but would rather facilitate, as Patriarch Bartholomew told the WCC in December of 1995, “the admirable coöperation of all Christian forces on the ethical, social, missionary, and service front, ...as the well-known Encyclical of the Œcumenical Patriarchate in the year 1920 emphasized more than seventy years ago” (Archimandrite Cyprian Agiokyprianites, Orthodoxy and the Ecumenical Movement [Etna, CA: Center for Traditionalist Orthodox Studies, 1997], p. 22). Is this not the very “horizontalism” that Orthodox ecumenists supposedly decry? And why does not Bishop Kallistos make some comment about this contradiction?

The WCC defined itself at the First General Assembly in Amsterdam, in 1948, as “a fellowship of Churches which confess the Lord Jesus Christ as God and Savior.” In 1990, however, at an ecumenical meeting in Baar, Switzerland, organized by the WCC, it was stated that: “We recognize the need to move beyond a theology which restricts salvation to a particular explicit commitment to Jesus Christ,” and that “we explicitly affirm that the Holy Spirit works in the life and the traditions of peoples of all living faiths [i.e., non-Christians—H.P.]” (Metropolitan Cyprian of Oropos and Fili, The World Council of Churches and the Interfaith Movement [Etna, CA: Center for Traditionalist Orthodox Studies, 1997], pp. 26-27). Bishop Kallistos should have acknowledged, in his discussion of the WCC, not only these disturbing points, but the outrages perpetrated at the Seventh General Assembly in Canberra, such as the opening worship service, which featured pagan ceremonies and ritual dances of Aboriginal origin and a clearly blasphemous speech by the Korean feminist “theologian,” Chung Hyun Kyung. His Grace would have done well to admit that the WCC is no longer a Christian organization, but is rapidly degenerating into a syncretistic “Club for Religious People,” as Archbishop Christodoulos of Athens put it several years ago.

Finally, let us lay to rest the claim repeated ad nauseam by the Orthodox ecumenists, and supported in Bishop Kallistos’ book, that in belonging to the WCC as a member Church, they are in no way committed to recognizing the other member Churches “as Churches in the true and full sense of the word,” as the 1950 Toronto Statement of the WCC declares. This Toronto Statement, which the ecumenists wave at us like a talisman, was drafted at the request of Roman Catholic ecumenists, who wanted to know what the WCC considered its ecclesiological status to be. Father Vitaly Borovoy, a veteran ecumenist of the Moscow Patriarchate, has said, concerning this Statement, that for the Orthodox, “it is the great charter of the WCC.” However, the ecumenists refute themselves, in this respect, with their own mouths. In three separate addresses delivered at Lyons in 1981, at Nice in the same year, and at Geneva in 1995, Metropolitan Damaskinos of Switzerland, a Prelate of the Œcumenical Patriarchate, stated the following: “We should be prepared to seek and to recognize the presence of the Spirit—which means: the Church—outside our own canonical boundaries, by which we identify the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church...”; “only this attitude will allow us to recognize Churches outside our own ecclesiastical boundaries, boundaries which we tend all too often to equate in an exclusivistic way with salvation inside the One....” (Archimandrite Cyprian, Orthodoxy and the Ecumenical Movement, op. cit., p. 20).

Still more recently, in a document entitled “Towards a Common Understanding and Vision of the World Council of Churches,” it is made abundantly clear that member Churches entering the WCC “accept that a ‘Church’ with visible unity, one baptism, one eucharist, and common service is still to be established.” If the Orthodox members of the WCC accede to this requirement, they are committing ecclesiological suicide, since such a Church already exists: the Orthodox Church. Later in the same text, member churches are obligated “to a greater mutual recognition of one another and common witness as members of the church universal” and are urged to “recognize in other churches parts of the true church.” Finally, in a consummate expression of this “super-Church” mentality, the WCC informs its members that, by virtue of their membership in the WCC, “churches recognize that the other members belong to Christ, that membership in the church of Christ is more inclusive than the membership of their own church” (for these and other citations, see Hierodeacon Ambrose, “On Membership in the World Council of Churches,” Orthodox Life, Vol. XLVII, No. 1 [January-February 1997], pp. 23-25). How, we would ask Bishop Kallistos, can he portray the participation of the Orthodox Churches in the WCC as innocent and responsible, when he is just as aware as we of the official deviation of this organization from any policy even vaguely acceptable to the Orthodox?


In spite of the foregoing comments, we are still able to recommend this book. However, it should be read very carefully. Nothing better, unfortunately, is currently available in English, with the possible exception of Father John Meyendorff’s The Orthodox Church: Its Past and Its Role in the World Today (third edition, [Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1981])—a book which also has very serious shortcomings. Let us hope that a traditionalist scholar will one day attempt to correct and supplement Bishop Kallistos’ book, making of it the fine summary of Orthodox Church history and doctrine that it potentially is.

Webmaster Notes

* For more information on the resistance to the Unia see this excerpt from the Life of St. Job of Pochaev.

** For a more extensive catalogue of the differences between Orthodox and heterodox beliefs, see the compilation entitled “Are Protestantism and Roman Catholicism Heretical?

*** In Ecumenical News International (ENI) 24 Dec. 17, 1998, pp. 20-21, the article entitled “WCC Official Raises Possibility of Women’s Ordination in Orthodox Churches” mentions some of Bishop Kallistos’ latest research:

At a press conference on the 8th of December a journalist asked Dr. Raiser, a German Protestant theologian & leading ecumenicist (ie, the WCC’s president), to comment on the comment by Vsevolod Chaplin of the ROC, who described the ordination of women & inclusive language as “blasphemy.” Dr. R. referred to recent research about women’s ordination by 2 respected Orthodox theologians, Bsh. Kallistos (Ware) & Elisabeth Behr-Siegel, which reached the conclusion that “there are no essential or ecclesilogical reasons preventing the ordination of women in the Orthodox tradition.” Speaking to ENI on 9 Dec., Dr. R. said that research by the above two theologians was developing “emerging perspectives” from an Orthodox perspective, showing that “if you take seriously the Christian affirmation that men & women are created equally in the image of god ... , the systematic exclusion of women from the ministry cannot be defended on purely theological grounds.” Although the exclusion of women from the ministery was still defended in the Orthodox Churches on the basis of “history, tradition & canonical reasons,” these were not “the theological center,” Dr. R. said. For the moment, the question of the ordination of women to the priesthood in Orthodox Churches was “a purely theological discussion,” Dr. R. told ENI, but that the fact that the issue was being raised “gives us hope that the discussion can yet move beyond the present situation of stalemate.”

The excerpt was received in this slightly condensed form. I am indebted to Mr. George Alexander of “The St. Innokentii Society Bulletin” in Copenhagen, Denmark, for sending this to the OCIC.

From Orthodox Tradition, Vol. XVI, No. 1, pp. 39-72.