”Those who attack the Church of Christ by teaching that Christ’s Church is divided into so-called “branches” which differ in doctrine and way of life, or that the Church does not exist visibly, but will be formed in the future when all “branches” or sects or denominations, and even religions will be united into one body; and who do not distinguish the priesthood and mysteries of the Church from those of the heretics, but say that the baptism and eucharist of heretics is effectual for salvation; therefore, to those who knowingly have communion with these aforementioned heretics or who advocate, disseminate, or defend their new heresy of Ecumenism under the pretext of brotherly love or the supposed unification of separated Christians, Anathema!”
The whole purpose of Unseen Warfare is to give the Orthodox Christian teaching concerning perfection in virtue and the
“unseen warfare” necessary to accomplish this: “I will tell you plainly: the greatest and most perfect thing a man may desire to attain is to come near to God and dwell in union with Him.
“There are many who say that the perfection of Christian life consists in fasts, vigils, genuflexions, sleeping on bare earth and other similar austerities of the body. Others say that it consists in saying many prayers at home and in attending long services in church. And there are others who think that our perfection consists entirely in mental prayer, solitude, seclusion and silence.
But the majority limit perfection to a strict observance of all the rules and practices laid down by the statutes, falling into no excess or deficiency, but preserving a golden moderation. Yet all these virtues do not by themselves constitute the Christian perfection we are seeking, but are only a means and a method for acquiring it.
“You must learn that perfection consists in nothing but coming near to God and union with Him, as was said in the beginning.
With this is connected a heartfelt realization of the goodness and greatness of God, together with the consciousness of our own nothingness and our proneness to every evil …. This is the law of love, inscribed by the finger of God Himself in the hearts of His true servants ! This is the renunciation of ourselves that God demands of us! This is the blessed yoke of Jesus Christ and His burden that is light! This is the submission to God’s will, which our Redeemer and Teacher demands from us both by His word and by His example ! Do you now see what all this mean s, brother? I presume that you are longing to reach the height of such perfection. Blessed be your zeal! But prepare yourself also for labor, sweat and struggle from your first steps on the path. You must sacrifice everything to God and do only His will. Yet you will meet in yourself as many wills as you have powers and wants. Therefore, to reach your desired aim, it is first of all necessary to stifle your own wills and finally to extinguish and kill them altogether.
And in order to succeed in this, you must constantly oppose all evil in yourself and urge yourself towards good. In other words, you must ceaselessly fight against yourself and against everything that panders to your own wills, that incites and supports them. So prepare yourself for this struggle and this warfare and know that the crown–attainment of your desired aim–is given to none except to the valiant among warriors and wrestlers.
“But if this is the hardest of all wars… victory in it is the most glorious of all …. If you really desire to be victorious in this unseen warfare and be rewarded with a crown, you must plant in your heart the following four dispositions and spiritual activities, as it were arming yourself with invisible weapons, the most trustworthy and unconquerable of all, namely: a) never rely on yourself in anything; b) bear always in your heart a perfect and all-daring trust in God alone; c) strive without ceasing; d) remain constantly in prayer.
“You must know that progress on the path of spiritual life differs greatly from an ordinary journey on earth. If a traveler stops on his ordinary journey, he loses nothing of the way already covered; but if a traveler on the path of virtue stops in his spiritual progress, he loses much of the virtues previously acquired …. In an ordinary journey, the further the traveler proceeds, the more tired he becomes; but on the way of spiritual life the longer a man travels, reaching forth unto those things which are before, the greater the strength and power he acquires for his further progress.”
During the night in which he died, July 14, 1809, St. Nicodemos received Holy Communion and, sinking into holy tranquility, prayed constantly. The monks approached and asked: “Teacher, are you resting?” The Saint replied: “I have placed Christ within me, how is it possible for me not to be at rest?”
In the Foreword to his translation, St. Nicodemos wrote:
“This book teaches that the warriors who take part in this unseen war are all who are Christians; and their commander is our Lord Jesus Christ, surrounded and accompanied by His marshals and generals, that is, by all the hierarchies of angels and saints. The arena, the field of battle, the site where the fight actually takes place is our own heart and all our inner man. The time of battle is our Whole life.,
For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but…against spiritual wickedness in high places. (Eph. 6:12)
“So this spiritual warfare of ours must be constant and never ceasing, and should be conducted with alertness and courage in the soul; they can easily be attained, if you seek these gifts from God. So advance into battle without hesitation. Should you be visited by the troubling thought of the hatred and undying malice, which the enemies harbour against you, and of the innumerable hosts of the demons, think on the other hand of the infinitely greater power of God and of His love for you, as well as of the incomparable greater hosts of heavenly angels and the prayers of saints. They all fight secretly for us and with us against our enemies, as it is written, The Lord wil1 have war with Amalek from generation to generation (Ex. 17:16). How many weak women and small children were incited to fight by the thought of this powerful and ever ready help! And they got the upper hand and gained victory over all the wisdom of the world, all the wiles of the devil and all the malice of hell.”
St. Hilarion Troitsky 1886-1929There are an increasing number of people among us who dream of some sort of churchless Christianity. These people have a seemingly constant anarchical system of thought. They are either incapable, or more often, are simply too lazy to think through to the end of their thoughts.
Without even speaking of the most evident contradictions of the churchless quasi-Christianity, it is always possible to see that it is completely void of the genuine Grace of Christian life, and the inspiration and quickening of the Spirit.
When people take the Gospel book, forgetting that the Church gave it to them, then it becomes like the Koran, said to have been dropped by Allah from the sky. When they somehow contrive to overlook the teaching about the Church in it, then all that remains of Christianity is the teaching, so powerless to re-create life and man, as is every philosophical system.
Our forebears, Adam and Eve, sought to become “like gods” without God, relying on the magical power of the beautiful “apple.” This is how many of our contemporaries dream of being saved: with the Gospel, but without the Church and without the God-man. They hope on the book of the Gospel exactly as Adam and Eve hope on the paradise apple.
The book, however, does not have the power to give them a new life. People who deny the Church constantly speak about “evangelical principles,” about evangelical teaching; but Christianity as life is completely alien to them.
In the churchless form, Christianity is only a sound, now and then sentimental, but always a caricature and lifeless. It is precisely these people who, while denying the Church, have made Christianity, in the words of V. S. Soloviev, “deathly boring.” As David Strauss observed, “When the edifice of the Church is destroyed and, on the bare, poorly leveled place, there is erected only the edifying sermon, the result is sad and terrible.” (Christianity or the Church)
New Martyr St. Hilarion Troitsky 1886-1929
Outside the Church and without the Church, Christian life is impossible. Without the Church, the Christian teaching alone remains as an empty sound, for Christian life is Church life. Only in the life of the Church can a person live and develop. In a bodily organism, separate members never grow or develop independently of one another, but always and only in connection with the whole organism. The same applies to the Church. For the growth of the Church is at the same time the growth of its members.
…Christianity is not concerned with the interests of reason; but only with those of the salvation of man. In Christianity, therefore, there are no purely theoretical tenets. Dogmatic truths have moral significance, and Christian morals are founded on dogma. Included in the concept of the Church is this: the Church is that point at which dogma becomes moral teaching and Christian dogmatics become Christian life. The Church thus comprehended gives life to and provides for the implementation of Christian teaching. Without the Church there is no Christianity; there is only the Christian teaching which, by itself, cannot “renew the fallen Adam.”If we now turn from the doctrine of the Church as revealed in the New Testament to the facts of the history of Christianity, we shall see that this is precisely the concept which was fundamental to the Christian view and which had been shaping its reality. Before anything else, the Christians became conscious of themselves as members of the Church. The Christian community referred to itself as a “Church”in preference to all other names. The word “Church”(ekklisia) appears one hundred and ten times in the New Testament, while such words as “Christianity”and similar words are completely unknown in the New Testament. After the descent of the Holy Spirit on Christ’s disciples and apostles, the Church came into being as a visible community with a spiritual interrelation among its members.At first there was no comprehensive system of teaching. The faith of Christ was set down in a few of the general dogmas. There was nothing to be learned in Christianity and little common accord called for in any abstract propositions. What did it mean at that time to be a Christian?
In our times we hear many various answers such as: “To be a Christian means to recognize Christ’s teaching, to try to fulfill His commandments.”This, of course, is the best of such answers. The first Christians, however, answered the question in a completely different way. From the very first pages of its history, Christianity appears before us in the form of a harmonious and unanimous community. Outside of this community there were no Christians. To come to believe in Christ, to become a Christian – this meant uniting with the Church. This is repeatedly expressed in the book of the Acts of the Apostles, where we read that the Lord daily added the saved to the Church (cf. Acts 2:47; 5:13-14). Each new believer was like a branch grafted to the tree of Church life.(Christianity or the Church?)
St. Hilarion Troitsky 1886-1929
In order to become a follower of a particular philosophical school it is necessary to assimilate the philosophical works by the father of that school. But is it sufficient to know the New Testament in order to become a Christian? Would this knowledge be enough for salvation? Certainly not. It is possible to know the entire New Testament by heart, it is possible to know perfectly the entire teaching of the New Testament, and still be very, very far from salvation. For salvation it is necessary to be added to the Church, just as it is said in the Book of Acts that those who were being saved were added to the Church (cf. Acts 2:47; 5:13–14). This was when there were no Scriptures, but there was the Church, and there were those who were being saved. Why was it essential to be added to the Church? It is because special grace-bearing power is needed for salvation, and this power can only be possessed by those who participate in the life of the Church, in the life of the single and indivisible Body of Christ. The grace-filled power of the Holy Spirit acts in the Church in many different ways: in the Mysteries and rites of the Church, in common prayer and mutual love, in church services; and, as the divinely inspired Word of God, it also operates through the books of Holy Scripture…
Perhaps the saddest thing in our times is the distortion of Christ and the Church. Christianity is seen not as the new life of saved humanity, united in the Church, but as the sum of certain theoretical and moral positions. They have begun now to talk too much and too often about Christian teachings and have begun to forget about Church life. At the same time they have also begun to forget that the most important part of Christ’s work is His Incarnation. They have begun to regard Christ more as a wise teacher, while the truth of His Divine Sonship has receded into the background. To be a teacher it is not necessary to be the Only-begotten Son of God, One in essence with God the Father. They are willing to recognize as Christians not only the Arians, but even those who, like the ancient Jews, regard Christ as the ordinary son of a Nazareth carpenter, or at best as a brilliant religious teacher like the Buddha, Confucius, and others. Among us here [in Russia], even Leo Tolstoy has come to be considered a Christian, and what is more, not an ordinary one but a “true Christian.” To the contemporary religious consciousness, it is only the teaching of Christ that is necessary and understandable, but there is no need for Christ the God-man and the new life brought down to earth by Him, which has been preserved in the one grace-filled organism of the Church. In the contemporary religious consciousness, Christ has been brought down from His throne at the right hand of God the Father and placed in a preacher’s pulpit. (Holy Scripture and the Church)
The Church community undoubtedly embraces people who do not know the dogmas of the Council of Chalcedon and who are unable to say much about their dogmatic convictions…Members of the Church enjoy much leeway in theological views, yet the broad spectrum of theological opinion does not disrupt the unity of the Church. When it comes to that, the Church does not even have a doctrinal system with all its sections worked out in detail. This is why courses in dogmatic theology always differ from each other. This could not be so had the Church fixed obligatory answers to all dogmatic questions.
If the question of belonging or non-belonging to the Church be formulated in terms of theoretical dogma, it will be seen that it even cannot be resolved in a definite way. Just how far should conformity to the Church’s ideas go in dogmatic matters? Just in what is it necessary to agree and what kind of disagreement ensues following a separation from the Church? How to answer this question? And who has so much authority as to make the decision stand? Perhaps you will point to the faith in the Incarnate Son of God as the chief characteristic of belonging to the Church. Yet the German Protestants are going to argue against the necessity of even this feature, since in their religion there are to be found even such ministers who openly deny the Divinity of the Savior.
Christ never wrote a course in dogmatic religion. Precise formulation of the principal dogmas of Christianity took place centuries after the earthly life of the Savior. What, then, determined the belonging to the Church in those, the very first, times of the historical existence of Christianity? This is attested to in the book of the Acts of the Apostles: “Such as should be saved were added to the Church” (2:45, 6:13-14). Membership in the Church is determined by unity with the Church. It cannot be otherwise, if only because the Church is not a school of philosophy. She is a new mankind, a new grace-filled organism of love. She is the body of Christ. (The Unity of the Church and the World Conference of Christian Communities)
”We know and are convinced that falling away from the Church, whether into schism, heresy, or sectarianism, is complete perdition and spiritual death. For us there is no Christianity outside of the Church. If Christ established the Church, and the Church is His Body, then to be cut of from His Body is to die. ”(St. Hilarion Troitsky, On Life in the Church)
”The Son of the Most High has become Son of man in order to make man son of God, – says Saint Irenaeus. In the new humanity built upon the foundation stone of the Incarnation of the Son of God, the unity of our human nature which has been broken by sin is being restored. This new humanity Christ Himself has named the Church. In Chapter 16 of Mathew’s Gospel, we read how the Apostle Peter on behalf of all the Apostles proclaimed the truth of the Incarnation of the Only-begotten Son of God; and Christ in turn responded to him: Upon this rock (meaning obviously – upon the Incarnation, on that One who is the Son of the Living God) I will build my Church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. (Matthew, 16: 16-19)”. St Ilarion Troitsky. From The Holy Scripture and the Church .
”Usually, people prefer to remain silent concerning a matter which they
know nothing about and do not understand. This, of course, is completely
sensible. Let us imagine, for example, a person who knows nothing about
chemistry but who, nevertheless, constantly insists upon interfering in the
affairs of chemists. He corrects their scientiﬁc formulae which have been
obtained with great difﬁculty, changing their order or replacing one with
another. We would agree that such a person is acting with the highest
degree of imprudence and that we can only have pity for him.
There is one ﬁeld, however, in which too many people consider themselves
to be complete masters, in fact, almost legislators; that is the area
concerning the Christian faith and the Church. In this ﬁeld also, clear and
deﬁnite formulae have been established with a great effort of theological
thought, spiritual guidance, faith, and piety. These formulae are established
and must be accepted on faith. Regardless of this fact, a great many people
enter into the questions of faith and the Church solely as bold and decisive
reformers who want to remake everything according to their own personal
desires. In cases where such people have insufﬁcient knowledge or
understanding, they are especially averse to remaining silent. To the
contrary they begin not only to speak, but to shout. Such shouting on the
questions of faith and the Church usually ﬁnds the columns of newspapers
and the ordinary conversations of people who, in general, very seldom
think of faith and the Church at all. If they do think of such things, they
prefer to voice themselves exclusively in an authoritative and accusatory
In such an atmosphere a great multitude of various perverse opinions are
born which then become fashionable because no one will trouble himself to
consider and examine them. In the prevalence of such opinions it can easily
occur that they are unconsciously assimilated even by people who are
dedicated in their souls to the faith and the Church.
One of the greatest of these prevalent and “accepted” opinions is what we
would call “the separation of Christianity from the Church.” St Ilarion Troitsky.
From : Christianity or the Church?
“To those who have ensnared us in an evil captivity and desire to lead us away into Babylon of Latin rites and dogmas could not, of course completely accomplish this seeing immediately that there is little chance of it, in fact that it was simply impossible but having stopped somewhere in the middle, both they and those who followed after them, they neither remained any longer what they were, nor became anything else. For having quit Jerusalem, a firm and unwavering faith, but being in no condition and not wishing to become and to be called Babylonians, they thus called themselves, as if by right, ‘Greco-Latins,’ and among the people are called ‘Latinizers.’ And so these split people, like the mythical centaurs, confess together with the Latins that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Son and has the Son as Cause of His existence, and yet together with us confess that He proceeds from the Father. And they say together with them that the addition to the Creed was done canonically and with blessing, and yet together with us do not permit it to be uttered. (Besides, who would turn away from what was canonical and blessed?) And they say together with them that the unleavened bread is the Body of Christ, and yet together with us do not dare accept it. Is this not sufficient to reveal their spirit, and how that it was not in quest of the Truth (which having in their hands, they betrayed) that they came together with the Latins, but from a desire to enrich themselves and to conclude not a true, but a false union.
But one should examine in what manner they have united with them; for everything that is united to something different is naturally united by means of some middle point between them. And thus they imagined to unite with them by means of some judgment concerning the Holy pirit, together with them expressing the opinion that He has existence also from the Son; but everything else between them is divergent, and there is among them neither any middle point no anything in common. Just as before two divergent Creeds are uttered; likewise there are celebrated two Liturgies, divergent and discordant one with the other-one with leavened bread, the other with unleavened bread; divergent also are baptisms; one performed with triple immersion, the other with ‘pouring’ over the head from above, and one with anointing chrism, the other completely without; and all rites are in everything divergent and discordant one with the other, and likewise, the fasts and church usages and other, like things. What kind of unity is this, when there is no apparent and clear sign of it? And in what manner have they united with them, desiring also to preserve their own (for in this they were unanimous) and at the same time not following the traditions of the Fathers?
But what is their own ‘wise’ opinion? ‘Never’ they say, ‘has the Greek Church said that the Holy Spirit proceeds only from the Father; she has said simply that He proceeds from the Father, thus not excluding the participation of the Son in the Procession of the Holy Spirit. Therefore (they say) both before and now we exhibit unity.’
Alas, what absurdity! Alas,what blindness! If the Greek Church having received it from Christ Himself and the Holy Apostles and Fathers, has said that the Spirit proceeds from the Father, but has never said (for she has received this from no one) that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Son, then what else does this signify than that she affirms that the Holy Spirit proceeds only from the Father? For if He is not from the Son, evidently, He is only from the Father.
Do you know what is said concerning the Generation? ‘Begotten of the Father before all ages.’ Would anyone add here ‘only of the Father?” Yet it is precisely thus and in no other way that we understand it, and, if need be will express it. For we have been taught that the Son is begotten of none else, but only of the Father. Therefore too John Damascene says, on behalf of the whole Church and all Christians: ‘We do not say that the Holy Spiritis from the Son.’ And if we do not say that the Spirit is also from the Son, then it is apparent that we thus say that the Spirit is only from the Father; therefore a little before this he says: ‘We do not call the Son Cause,’ and in the next chapter: ‘The sole Cause is the Father.’
What more? ‘Never,’ they say, have we considered Latins heretics, but only schismatics.’ But this too they have taken from them (the Latins), for the latter, having nothing with which to accuse us in our doctrine, call us schismatics because we have turned away from obedience to them which, as they think, we should have. But let us examine the matter. Will it be just for us likewise to show them kindness and place no blame on them in matterf of the Faith?
It was they who gave the grounds, for the schism by openly making the addition, which until then they had spoken in secret; while we were the first to separate ourselves from them, or rather, to separate and cut them off from the common Body of the Church. Why may I ask? Because they have the right Faith or have made the addition to the Creed in an Orthodox fashion? Surely whoever would begin to talk like that would not be right in the head. But rather because they have an absurd and impious opinion and for no reason at all made the addition. And so we have turned away from them as heretics and have shunned them.
What more is necessary? The pious canons speak thus: ‘He is a heretic and subject to the canons against heretics who even slightly departs from the Orthodox faith.’ If, then, the Latins do not at all depart from the correct Faith, we have evidently cut them off unjustly: but if they have thoroughly departed from the Faith and that in connection with the theology of the Holy Spirit blaspheme against Whom is the greatest of all perits, then it is clear that they are heretics, and we have cut them off as heretics.
Why do we annoint with chrism those of them who come to us? Is it not clear that it is because they are heretics? For the seventh canon of the Second Ecumenical Council states: ‘As for thsoe heretics who betake themselves to Orthodoxy, and to the lot of those being saved, we accept them in accordance with the subjoined sequence and custom: ‘Arians, and Macedonians, and Sabellians, and Novatians, those calling themselves Chathari (‘Puritans’) and Aristeri (‘Best’), and the Quartodecimans, otherwise known as Tetradites, and Apollinarians we accept when they offer libelli (recantations in writing) and anathematize every heresy that does not hold the same beliefs as the Catholic and Apostolic Church of God, and are sealed first with holy chrism on their forehead and their eyes, and nose, and mouth, and ears, and in sealing them we say: ‘The seal of the gift of the Holy Spirit.’
Do you see with whom we number those who come from the Latins? If all those(enumerated in the canons) are heretics, then it is clear that these Latins are the same. And what does the most wise Patriarch of Antioch, Theodore Balsamon, say of this in his reply to the Most Holy Patriarch of Alexandria, Mark? ‘Imprisoned Latins and others coming to our Catholic churches request communion of the Divine Sacraments. We desire to know: is this permissable?’ The answer “‘He that is not with Me is against Me, and he that gathers not with me is scattered.’ Because many years ago the celebrated Roman Church was separated from communion with the other for Most Holy Patriarchs, having apostatized into customs and doctrines foreign to the Catholic Church and not Orthodoxy (it was for this reason that the Pope was not deemed worthy of sharing in the commemoration of the names of the Eastern Patriarchs at Divine Services), and therefore we must not sanctify one of the Latin race through the Divine and most pure Gifts (given) by priestly hands, unless he shal first resolve to depart from Latin dogmas and customs and shall be catechized and joined to those of Orthodoxy.”‘
Do you hear how they have departed not only in customs, but also in dogmas foreign to those of Orthodoxy (and what is foreign to Orthodox dogma is, of course, heretical teaching), and that, according to the canons, they must be catechized and united to Orthodoxy? And if it is necessary to catechize, then clearly it is necessary to anoint them with chrism. How have they suddently presented themselves to us as Orthodox, they who for so long and according to the judgment of such great Fathers and Teachers have been considered heretics? Who has so easily made them Orthodox? It is gold, if you desure to acknowledge the truth, and your own thirst for gain; of, to express it better, it did not make them Orthodox, but made you like them and carried you into the camp of the heretics.
‘But if,’ they say, ‘we had devised some middle ground (compromise) between dogmas, then thanks to this we would have united with them and accomplished our business superbly, without at all having been forced to say anything except what corresponds to custom and has been handed down by the Fathers.’ This is precisely the means by which many, from of old, have been deceived and persuaded to follow those who have led them off to the steep precipice of impiety; believing that there is some kind of middle ground between two teachings that can reconcile obvious contradictions, they have been exposed to peril.
If the Latin dogma is true that the Holy Spirit proceeds also from the Son, then ours is false that states that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and this is precisely the reason for which we separated from them; and if ours is true, then without doubt theirs is false. What kind of middle ground can there be between two such judgments? There can be none, unles it were some kind of judgmenet suitable to both the one and the other, like a boot that fits both feet. And will this unite us?
But someone will say, how shall we regard those moderate Greco-Latins who, maintaining a middle ground, openly favor some of the Latin rites and dogmas, favor but do not wish to accept others, and entirely disapprove of still others? One must flee from them as one fless from a snake, as from the Latins themselves, or it may be, from those who are even worse than they as from buyers and sellers of Christ. For they, as the Apostle says ‘suppose that gain is godliness’ (1 Tim 6:5), and of whom he adds, ‘flee these (1 Tim 6:11), for they go over to them not in order to learn, but for gain. ‘What communion has light with darkness? And what concord has Christ with Belial> or what has he that believes with an unbeliever? (2 Cor 6:14ff)
Behold how we, together with Damascene and all the Fathers, do not say that the Spirit proceeds from the Son, while they, together with the Latins, say that the Spirit proceeds from the Son. And we, together with the divine Dionysios say that the Father is the sole Source of the supernatural divinity while say together withthe Latins that the Son also is the Source of the Holy Spirit, bu this clearlyexcluding the Spirit from the Divinity. And we, together with Gregory the Theologian,distinguishthe Father from the Son in His capacity of being Cause, while they together with the latins unite Them into one in the capacity of being Cause. And we, together with St. Maximus and the Romans of that time and the Western Fathers, ‘do not make the Son the Cause of the Spirit’ while they, in their Conciliar Decree (Act of Union), proclaim the Son ‘in Freek, Cause and in Latin, Principle’ of the Spirit. And we, together with the Philosopher and Justin Matyr affirm ‘As the Son is from the Father, so is the Spirit from the Father’ while they say together with the Latins that the Son proceeds from the Father immediately, and the Spirit from the Father mediately. And we together with Damascene and all the Fathers, confess that itis not known to us in what consists the difference between eneration and procession, while they, togethert with Thomas Aquinas and the latins, say that the difference consists in this, that generation is immediate and procession mediate. And we affirm, in agreement with the Fathers, that the Will and Energy of the Uncreated and Divine Nature are uncreated; while they that will is identical with Nature, but that the Divine Energy is created, whether it be called Divinity, or the Divine and Imaterial Light or the Holy Spirit, or something else ‘of this nature, and in some fashion these poor creatures worship’ the created ‘Divinity’ and the created ‘Divine Light’ and the created ‘Holy Spirit.’ And we say that neither do the Saints receive the Kingdom and the unutterable blessings already prepared for them, nor are sinners already sent to hell, but both await their fate which will be received in the future age after the resurrection and judgment; while they toegether with the Latins, desire immediately after death to receive according their merits, and for those in an intermediate condition, who have died in repeencetence, they give a purgatorial fire (which is not identical with that of hell) so that, as theysay, having purified their souls by it after death, they also together with the righteous will enjoy the Kindgom of Heaven; this is contained in their Conciliar Decree (Act of Union). And we, obeying the Apostles, who have prohibited it, shun Jewish unleavened bread; while thye, in the same Act of Union, proclaim that what is used in the services of the Latins is the Body of Christ. And we say that the addition to the Creed acorse uncanonically and anticanonically and contrary to the Fathers, while they affirm that it is canonical and blessed to such an extent are they unaware how to conform to the Truth and to themselves! And for us the Pope is as one of the Patriarchs, and that only, if he be Orthodox, while they with great gravity proclaim him Vicar of Christ, Father and Teacher of all Christians. May they be more fortunate than their Father, who are also like him, for he does not greatly prosper, having an antipope who is the cause of sufficient unpleasantness and they are not happy to imitate him.
And so, brethren, flee from them and from communion with them, ‘for they are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the Apostles of Christ. And no marvel, for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is not great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness whose end shall be according to their works.’ ( 2 Cor 11:13-15) And in another place the same Apostle says of them ‘For they that are such as serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple. Nevertheless the foundation of God stands sure, having this seal. ‘(Rom 16:18, 2 Tim 2:19) And in another place, ‘Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision,’ (Philip 3:2) And then, in another place, ‘But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that whcih we have preached to you, let him be accursed.’ (Gal 1:8) See what has been prophetically foretold, that, ‘though an angel from heaven so that no one could cite in justification of himself an especially high position. And the beloved Disciple speaks thus, ‘If there come any to you and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, and give him no greeting; for he that giveth him greeting is a partaker in his evil deeds.’ (2 John 10-11)
Therefore, in so far as this is what has been commanded you by the Holy Apostles, stand aright, and hold firm to the traditions which you have received, both written and by word of mouth, that you not be deprived of your firmeness if you become led away with delusions of the lawless. May God, who is All powerful, make them also to know their delusion, an having delivered us from them as evil tares, may He gather us into His grainaries like pure and useful wheat in Jesus Christ our Lord, to Whom belongs all glory, honor and worship, with His Father Who is without begining and His All Holy and Good and Life giving Spirit, now and ever and unto the ages of ages. Amen.”
July 1440 A.D.
The Holy Fathers on the “baptism”, “priesthood”, and “mysteries” of the heretics
Canon XLVI of the Holy Apostles: “We order any Bishop or Priest, that has accepted any heretic’s baptism or sacrifice be deposed…”
Canon XLVII of the Holy Apostles: “If a Bishop or Priest baptize anew anyone that has had a true baptism, or fail to baptize anyone that has been polluted by the impious, let him be deposed, on the ground that he is mocking the Cross and Death of the Lord and for failing to distinguish priests from pseudo-priests.”
Canon XXXII of the holy and regional Synod held in Laodicea (A.D. 364)-[this set of Canons is] confirmed indefinitely by Canon I of the 4th Ecumenical Synod and Canon I of the 7th Ecumenical Synod, and definitely by Canon II of the 6th Ecumenical Synod; and by this confirmation they acquire a force that is ecumenical in a way: “That one must not accept blessings of heretics, which are rather more absurdities rather than blessings.”
St. Basil the Great: “…those who had apostatized from the Church had no longer on them the Grace of the Holy Spirit, for it ceased to be imparted when the continuity was broken…they who were broken off had become laymen, and, because they are no longer able to confer on others that Grace of the Holy Spirit from which they themselves are fallen away, they had no authority either to baptize or to ordain.”
St. Athanasius the Great: “Though it does appear to be a baptism in pretense, yet in reality it is of no help to faith and piety. For it is not he that says merely ‘O Lord’ that gives a correct baptism, but he that utters the invocation of the name and at the same time possesses a correct faith. On the account too, the Savior did not command the Apostles to baptize merely and in a simple fashion, but, on the contrary, told them first to make disciples of those about to be baptized, and then to baptize in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, in order that the faith might become correct from their having been instructed disciples, and, thanks to their correct faith the perfection of the baptism might be added. It is for this reason, indeed, that many other heresies, true enough, do say only the names of the Holy Trinity, but inasmuch as they do not believe these correctly and they have not a sound faith either, the baptism given by them is of no benefit to them, owing to its lacking piety. So that as a matter of fact the consequence is that anyone sprinkled by them is rather polluted with impiety than redeemed from it.”
From the Rudder: “…when any member is cut away from the body, that member immediately becomes dead owing to the fact that the vital force is no longer imparted to it, and in like manner after they have once split off from the body of the Church they become dead immediately and have lost the spiritual grace and activity of the Holy Spirit, since that grace is not imparted to them…”
St. John Chrysostom: “Let not the systems of the heretics fool you, my dear listener: for they have a baptism, but no illumination; accordingly, they are baptized, it is true, with respect to the body, but as respects the soul they are not illuminated.”
St. Leo the Great:”No heretics confer sanctification through the mysteries.”
St. Ambrose of Milan: “The baptism of the impious does not sanctify.”
St. Gregory the Theologian: “If you are still limping and are not prepared to lend full credence…seek someone else to baptize you, or, rather to say, to drown you in the baptism, since I have no permission…to make you dead at a time when I ought to be regenerating you through baptism, so that you can have neither the gracious gift of baptism nor the hope which is born of baptism…”
St. Firmilian: “But who, though he has attained to the acme of perfection and of wisdom, can maintain or believe that merely the invocation of the three names of the Holy Trinity is sufficient for the remission of offenses and for the sanctification of the baptism, even when, that is to say, the one baptizing is not an Orthodox?”
St. Simeon of Thessaloniki: “Therefore the innovators are blaspheming and are far away from the Spirit, by blaspheming against the Holy Spirit, hence everything of theirs is graceless, inasmuch as they have violated and have demoted the Grace of the Spirit…which is why the Holy Spirit is not among them, and there is nothing spiritual in them, as everything of theirs is new and altered and contrary to Divine tradition.”
From the Canon of the Third Holy Synod held in Carthage in the time of St. Cyprian (A.D. 258): “Ordaining this also now, which we have been strongly and securely holding throughout time, we declare that no one can be baptized outside of the catholic Church, there being but one baptism, and this being existent only in the catholic Church…For the water must first be purified and sanctified by the priest, in order that it may be able to wipe away with its baptismal efficacy the sins of the person being baptized. But how can one who is unclean himself purify and sanctify water, when there is in him no Holy Spirit…How can anyone that has been unable to deposit his own sins outside the Church manage in baptizing another person to let him have a remission of sins?…We are saying nothing else than that it can be given in the catholic Church, but that among heretics where there is no Church it is impossible to receive a remission of sins…But it is necessary for anyone that has been baptized to be anointed, in order that, upon receiving the chrism, he may become a partaker of Christ. But no heretic can sanctify oil, seeing that he has neither an altar nor church. Not a drop of chrism can exist among heretics. For it is obvious to you that no oil at all can be sanctified amongst them for use in connection with the Eucharist…lest anyone, having been sidetracked and led astray from the straight way, be anointed by the heretics, who are opponents of Christ…Through the holy Church we can conceive a remission of sins. But who can give what he has not himself? Or how can one do spiritual works that has become destitute of Holy Spirit?…For to sympathize with persons who have been baptized by heretics is tantamount to approving the baptism administered by heretics…If he was able to baptize, he succeeded also in imparting the Holy Spirit. If he was unable, because, being outside, he had no Holy Spirit, he cannot baptize the next person. There being but one baptism, and there being but one Holy Spirit, there is also but one Church, founded by Christ our Lord…And for this reason whatever they do is false and empty and vain, everything being counterfeit and unauthorized. For nothing that they do can be acceptable and desirable with God.”
St. Nicodemos the Hagiorite: “The baptism administered by heretics and schismatics is unacceptable, and they ought to be baptized when they return to the Orthodoxy of the Catholic Church. (The reasons are as follows): 1st) Because there is but one baptism, and because this is to be found only in the catholic Church. Heretics and schismatics, on the other hand, being outside of the catholic Church, have, in consequence, not even the one baptism. 2nd) The water used in baptism must first be purified and be sanctified by means of prayers of the priests, and by the grace of the Holy Spirit; afterwards it can purify and sanctify the person being baptized therein. But heretics and schismatics are neither priests, being in fact rather sacrilegists; neither clean and pure, being in fact impure and unclean; neither holy, as not having any Holy Spirit. So neither have they any baptism. 3rd) Through baptism in the catholic Church there is given a remission of sins. But through the baptism administered by heretics and schismatics, inasmuch as it is outside of the Church, how can any remission of sins be given? 4th) The person being baptized must, after he is baptized be anointed with the myrrh prepared from olive oil and various spices, which has been sanctified by visitation of the Holy Spirit. But how can a heretic sanctify any such myrrh when as a matter of fact he has no Holy Spirit because of his being separated from there on account of heresy and schism? 5th) The priest must pray to God for the salvation of the one being baptized. But how can a heretic or a schismatic be listened to by God when, as we have said, he is a sacrilegist and a sinner (not so much on account of his works, but rather on account of the heresy or schism, these being the greatest sin of all sins), at a time when the Bible says that God does not listen to sinners. 6th) Because the baptism administered by heretics and schismatics cannot be acceptable to God as baptism, since they are enemies and foes with God (i.e. mutually), and are called anti-Christs by John.
From the Russian Orthodox Church:
Fr. Seraphim Rose: “In the Orthodox Church alone is grace given through the sacraments (most other churches don’t even claim to have sacraments in any serious sense)…they (heretics) cannot be objectively Christian as belonging to the Body of Christ and receiving the grace of the sacraments.”
Metropolitan Philaret of NY: “…to “lead a perfectly righteous life,” as the questioner expressed it, means to live according to the commandments of the Beatitudes—which is beyond the power of one, outside the Orthodox Church, without the help of grace which is concealed within it.”
St. Tikhon of Patriarch of Moscow: “They have separated themselves from the unity of the Ecumenical Church and are deprived of God’s grace, which abides in Christ’s Church… And all the actions and sacraments performed by the bishops and priests who have fallen away from the Church are without grace; while the faithful who take part with them in prayer and sacraments not only do not receive sanctification, they are subject to condemnation for taking part in sin.”
Fr. Michael Pomazansky: “None of them find themselves under the activity of the grace which is present in the Church, and especially the grace which is given in the Mysteries of the Church.”
Metropolitan Anthony Khrapovitsky: “It is clear that by this regulation the Church does not recognize in heretics and schismatics either the priesthood or the other mysteries, and considers them subject to ecclesiastical baptism in the nature of things.” and “…the Church by receiving Latins into communion in the same way as Nestorians (Council of Trullo, 95) does not make any distinction between old heresies and the Latin one. I think that the Latins are considerably further from the Church and they are worse than Monophysites and Monophelites, because they created a second Christ, i.e., the antichrist in the person of the Pope, who is supposedly infallible…” –
The ROCOR anathema of 1983 under the Presidency of Metropolitan Philaret: “Those who… do not distinguish the priesthood and mysteries of the Church from those of the heretics, but say that the baptism and eucharist of heretics is effectual for salvation…anathema!”
St. Hilarion Troitsky: “No, the truth of ecclesiastical unity does not recognize the grace of the mysteries administered within extra-ecclesiastical communities…the reception of Latins nowadays without baptism does not at all convince me that the Latin mysteries are valid in themselves”
From the life of St. Paisius Velichkovsky: the Saint “was so apprehensive about heresies and schisms that all who were converted, whether from sects or from the western Latin heresies, he baptized…” – This was stated by the Moldavian ascetic Schema-monk John who was a contemporary of St. Paisius
St. Ambrose of Optina: “What should we say in response to these questions: can the Latin Church and other religions be called the New Israel and ark of salvation? And how can one understand the Eucharist of this Church of Rome? Only the Church of the right-believing, undamaged by heretical philosophizing, can be called the New Israel. Holy Apostle John the Theologian says, They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they all were not of us (1 Jn. 2:19). And Holy Apostle Paul says, One Lord, one faith (Eph. 4:5), i.e. one is the true faith, and not every belief is good–as those having separated themselves from the one true Church recklessly think, about whom Holy Apostle Jude writes, How that they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts. These be they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit (Jude 1:18-19). Therefore, how can these, who are alien to the spirit of truth, be called the New Israel? Or, how can they be called a haven of salvation for anyone, when both one and the other cannot be effectuated without the grace of the Holy Spirit? In the Orthodox Church, it is believed that the bread and wine in the mystery of the Eucharist are transubstantiated by the invocation and descent of the Holy Spirit. But the Latins, as mentioned above, considered this invocation unnecessary and excluded it from their Liturgy. Thus, he who understands–let him understand about the Eucharist of the Latins.”
Metropolitan Philaret of Moscow: “The heterodox, by their very heterodoxy, have separated themselves from the communion of the Mysteries of the Orthodox Church.”
St. Joseph of Optina: “All of us who are children of the One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic, Ecumenical Church ought not to be guided by our own reasonings in questions which arise concerning the doctrine of our Faith, since these reasonings may be erroneous. Rather in such instances we must apply the canons which give us guidance. These canons are contained primarily in a book called The Rudder, a collection of the canons of the holy Apostles, the holy Ecumenical and Local Councils and those of several of the holy Fathers. At the end of The Rudder (Russian edition) in a chapter called “Concerning the Apostasy of Rome — how she fell away from the Orthodox Faith and from the Holy Eastern Church,” the Pope of Rome and his followers, who wrongly call themselves catholics, are termed heretics. There is nothing to be said about the other Protestant Christian confessions, inasmuch as they have departed even further from Orthodoxy…But how does a person achieve salvation? One of the chief conditions for the attainment to salvation is repentance… But even if the non-Orthodox or heretic were to desire to offer repentance before an Orthodox priest, his repentance for his sins would be ineffective. We read in Part I, Question 113 of The Orthodox Confession: “What must we observe in the mystery of repentance? Answer: First of all, we must observe that the penitent is a Christian of the Orthodox and Catholic Faith, for repentance without the True Faith is not repentance and is not received by God.” All of this is said concerning living Christians who believe incorrectly or concerning heretics…Our Holy Church unfailingly requires of every heterodox person desiring to be in communion with Her that he publicly before the entire Church, renounce his errors and receive pure Christian doctrine. If it were possible to offer prayers in church for the salvation of the souls of heterodox who have reposed, the Church in her divine services would employ special petitions for them. There is no such thing in any of our church services. On the contrary, on the First Sunday of the Great Fast, our Holy Church pronounces anathema, that is, separation from unity with herself, on all heretics and apostates from Orthodoxy, which would include Roman Catholics and Protestants.”
St. Theodosius of Kiev: “They [use] dead Latin substances and perform a Liturgy in which there is no life…”
Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoyevsky: “The Western Church, has distorted the image of Christ, having been transformed from a Church into a Roman state and incarnated it again in the form of the papacy. Yes, in the West there is in truth no longer Christianity and the Church, although there are still many Christians – yes, and they will never disappear. Catholicism is truly no longer Christianity, and is passing into idol-worship…”
A Roman catholic bishop stated the following at the Lateran (Papal) council of 1514: “The (Russian Orthodox) say that all subordinate to the Church of Rome are not true Christians and are not saved…They profane, blaspheme, mock and despise all the sacraments of the (Latin) Church.”
Patriarch Philaret of Moscow: “…all heretics of every different heretical faith are deprived of the true, holy baptism…” and “From the beginning of the Russian state until now, there has never been a case where Latin heretics and heretics of other faiths were not baptized except for the case of Ignatius the Patriarch who was deposed…”
Archbishop Averky (Taushev) of Jordanville: “The first important stage on the path of this “apostasy” was the falling away from Orthodoxy of the Latin West, with the papal throne at its head… Only the appearance of Christianity was left, its exterior, deprived of the true spirit of life in Christ.”
On the Orthodox understanding of synodal or patristic texts which refer to the baptisms of heretics as “valid”:
Fr. Peter Heers: “When, in later synodical decisions or patristic texts, during the second millennium, Latin Baptisms are referred to as valid, this, properly speaking, is referring to whether or not the form or τύπος of Baptism, namely three-fold immersion, had been retained. The purpose of recognizing a Baptism as “valid,” that is, in the case of the Latins, as done by immersion, was to determine if the presuppositions for oikonomia existed, not to recognize it per se. In exercising economy the Church does not recognize the “reality” of heretical ministrations, but only examines its validity in the sense of retaining the apostolic form. Therefore, there is no basis, and it is once again misleading and a departure from the Orthodox phronema, to speak of recognition of the “reality” and “validity” of heretical baptism. If there is talk of “recognition” of the ministrations of heretics it is only in the sense of it being validly, i.e. properly, carried out in the apostolic manner. This is for the purpose of determining the possibility—not the necessity—of reception by oikonomia, as is clear in St. Basil’s 1st and 47th canons.”
On understanding the use of economia in receiving converts into the Orthodox Church:
Metropolitan Anthony Khrapovitsky: “…heretics and schismatics are without grace, which is only received by them on being united to the Church…Every mystery has two sides—the visible and the invisible. The second is administered only within the true Church by faith and sincere prayer…And the same thought is found also in the teaching of St. John Damascene. For those who are baptized without faith “the water remains water” only. Heretics and schismatics, having the visible side of baptism, chrismation and holy orders, are entirely devoid of those gifts of grace which are bound up with these mysteries for believers within the true Church. Therefore, certain of them, for the alleviation of the rupture in their spiritual life and for “the edification of many,” are permitted to enter the Church without the visible side of the mysteries of baptism or holy orders (that is, by the second or third rite-chrismation or penance), but through the operation of another sacramental act in which they receive the grace of baptism, chrismation and holy orders…Thus the adoption of one or the other mode of reception for those of other confessions who enter the Church (that is, heretics or schismatics) depends on ecclesiastical economy, on the judgment of the local bishops and the Councils, and on the existence of the outward form* of the mysteries of baptism, chrismation and orders in the communities from which the applicants come.”
*It should be noted that this “outward form” is no longer maintained within the heterodox communities. Therefore, according to the Patristic teaching, to accept converts into the Church by any means other than baptism is not acceptable; for the presuppositions for the consideration of economia no longer exist.