Exposition of the Orthodox faith. Book I Chapter 1-3.By St John of Damascus.

Chapter 1. That the Deity is incomprehensible, and that we ought not to pry into and meddle with the things which have not been delivered to us by the holyProphets, and Apostles, and Evangelists.

No one has seen God at any time; the Only-begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him. The Deity, therefore, is ineffable and incomprehensible. For no one knows the Father, save the Son, nor the Son, save the Father. Matthew 11:27 And the Holy Spirit, too, so knows the things of God as the spirit of the man knows the things that are in him. 1 Corinthians 2:11 Moreover, after the first and blessed nature no one, not of men only, but even of supramundane powers, and the Cherubim, I say, and Seraphim themselves, has ever known God, save he to whom He revealed Himself.

God, however, did not leave us in absolute ignorance. For the knowledge of God’s existence has been implanted by Him in all by nature. This creation, too, and its maintenance, and its government, proclaim the majesty of the Divine nature. Wisdom 13:5 Moreover, by the Law and the Prophets in former times and afterwards by His Only-begotten Son, our Lord and God and Saviour Jesus Christ, He disclosed to us the knowledge of Himself as that was possible for us. All things, therefore, that have been delivered to us by Law and Prophets and Apostles and Evangelists we receive, and know, and honour , seeking for nothing beyond these. For God, being good, is the cause of all good, subject neither to envy nor to any passion. For envy is far removed from the Divine nature, which is both passionless and only good. As knowing all things, therefore, and providing for what is profitable for each, He revealed that which it was to our profit to know; but what we were unable to bear He kept secret. With these things let us be satisfied, and let us abide by them, not removing everlasting boundaries, nor overpassing the divine tradition Proverbs 22:28 .

Chapter 2. Concerning things utterable and things unutterable, and things knowable and thing unknowable.

It is necessary, therefore, that one who wishes to speak or to hear of God should understand clearly that alike in the doctrine of Deity and in that of the Incarnation , neither are all things unutterable nor all utterable; neither all unknowable nor all knowable. But the knowable belongs to one order, and the utterable to another; just as it is one thing to speak and another thing to know. Many of the things relating to God, therefore, that are dimly understood cannot be put into fitting terms, but on things above us we cannot do else than express ourselves according to our limited capacity; as, for instance, when we speak of God we use the terms sleep, and wrath, and regardlessness, hands, too, and feet, and such like expressions.

We, therefore, both know and confess that God is without beginning, without end, eternal and everlasting, uncreate, unchangeable, invariable, simple, uncompound, incorporeal, invisible, impalpable, uncircumscribed, infinite, incognisable, indefinable, incomprehensible, good, just, maker of all things created, almighty, all-ruling, all-surveying, of all overseer, sovereign, judge; and that God is One, that is to say, one essence ; and that He is known , and has His being in three subsistences, in Father, I say, and Son and Holy Spirit; and that the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit are one in all respects, except in that of not being begotten, that of being begotten, and that of procession; and that the Only-begotten Son and Word of God and God, in His bowels of mercy, for our salvation, by the good pleasure of God and the co-operation of the Holy Spirit, being conceived without seed, was born uncorruptedly of the Holy Virgin and Mother of God, Mary, by the Holy Spirit, and became of her perfect Man; and thatl the Same is at once perfect God and perfect Man, of two natures, Godhead and Manhood, and in two natures possessing intelligence, will and energy, and freedom, and, in a word, perfect according to the measure and proportion proper to each, at once to the divinity, I say, and to the humanity, yet to one composite person ; and that He suffered hunger and thirst and weariness, and was crucified, and for three days submitted to the experience of death and burial, and ascended to heaven, from which also He came to us, and shall come again. And the Holy Scripture is witness to this and the whole choir of the Saints.

But neither do we know, nor can we tell, what the essence of God is, or how it is in all, or how the Only-begotten Son and God, having emptied Himself, became Man of virgin blood, made by another law contrary to nature, or how He walked with dry feet upon the waters. It is not within our capacity, therefore, to say anything about God or even to think of Him, beyond the things which have been divinely revealed to us, whether by word or by manifestation, by the divine oracles at once of the Old Testament and of the New.

Chapter 3. Proof that there is a God.

That there is a God, then, is no matter of doubt to those who receive the Holy Scriptures, the Old Testament, I mean, and the New; nor indeed to most of the Greeks. For, as we said , the knowledge of the existence of God is implanted in us by nature. But since the wickedness of the Evil One has prevailed so mightily against man’s nature as even to drive some into denying the existence of God, that most foolish and woe-fulest pit of destruction (whose folly David, revealer of the Divine meaning, exposed when he said , The fool said in his heart, There is no God), so the disciples of the Lord and His Apostles, made wise by the Holy Spirit and working wonders in His power and grace, took them captive in the net of miracles and drew them up out of the depths of ignorance to the light of the knowledge of God. In like manner also their successors in grace and worth, both pastors and teachers, having received the enlightening grace of the Spirit, were wont, alike by the power of miracles and the word of grace, to enlighten those walking in darkness and to bring back the wanderers into the way. But as for us who are not recipients either of the gift of miracles or the gift of teaching (for indeed we have rendered ourselves unworthy of these by our passion for pleasure), come, let us in connection with this theme discuss a few of those things which have been delivered to us on this subject by the expounders of grace, calling on the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

All things, that exist, are either created or uncreated. If, then, things are created, it follows that they are also wholly mutable. For things, whose existence originated in change, must also be subject to change, whether it be that they perish or that they become other than they are by act of will. But if things are uncreated they must in all consistency be also wholly immutable. For things which are opposed in the nature of their existence must also be opposed in the mode of their existence, that is to say, must have opposite properties: who, then, will refuse to grant that all existing things, not only such as come within the province of the senses, but even the very angels, are subject to change and transformation and movement of various kinds? For the things appertaining to the rational world, I mean angels and spirits and demons, are subject to changes of will, whether it is a progression or a retrogression in goodness, whether a struggle or a surrender; while the others suffer changes of generation and destruction, of increase and decrease, of quality and of movement in space. Things then that are mutable are also wholly created. But things that are created must be the work of some maker, and the maker cannot have been created. For if he had been created, he also must surely have been created by some one, and so on till we arrive at something uncreated. The Creator, then, being uncreated, is also wholly immutable. And what could this be other than Deity?

And even the very continuity of the creation, and its preservation and government, teach us that there does exist a Deity, who supports and maintains and preserves and ever provides for this universe. For how could opposite natures, such as fire and water, air and earth, have combined with each other so as to form one complete world, and continue to abide in indissoluble union, were there not some omnipotent power which bound them together and always is preserving them from dissolution?

What is it that gave order to things of heaven and things of earth, and all those things that move in the air and in the water, or rather to what was in existence before these, viz., to heaven and earth and air and the elements of fire and water? What was it that mingled and distributed these? What was it that set these in motion and keeps them in their unceasing and unhindered course ? Was it not the Artificer of these things, and He Who has implanted in everything the law whereby the universe is carried on and directed? Who then is the Artificer of these things? Is it not He Who created them and brought them into existence. For we shall not attribute such a power to the spontaneous. For, supposing their coming into existence was due to the spontaneous; what of the power that put all in order ? And let us grant this, if you please. What of that which has preserved and kept them in harmony with the original laws of their existence ? Clearly it is something quite distinct from the spontaneous. And what could this be other than Deity ?

St Theophan the Recluse from ”The path to salvation” p2-ch5.5

Remember your Fate.

Remember your fate. Say to yourself: “Alas, soon will come death. “Another man you know dies; any time it could be your hour. Do not estrange yourself from this hour of death. Convince yourself that the angel of death has already been sent; he is coming, and draws near. Or imagine yourself to be a person who stands with a sword drawn over his head, ready to cut it off. Then imagine clearly what will happen to you at the time of death and afterwards. The judge standeth before the door (James 5:9). Your secret sins will be reproached before all the angels and saints. There, before everyone’s face, you will stand alone with your deeds. They will either condemn you or justify you. And what is Paradise, what is hell?… In Paradise is indescribable blessedness; in hell is torment without consolation or end — it bears the seal of God’s final rejection. Feel all this vividly and force yourself to remain in it until you are filled with fear and trembling.

Turn to God and place yourself before Him. Then turn to God and place yourself, defiled and weighed down by many sins, before the face of Him, the omnipresent, omniscient, all-gracious and long-suffering! Will you still offend the eye of God with your loathsome, sinful appearance? Will you yet turn your ignoble back to Him Who bestows all things from all sides? Will you yet close your ears to the fatherly voice that mercifully calls to you? Will you yet turn away the hand stretched out to receive you? Bring this absurdity to your senses and hasten to awaken and strengthen within yourself godly pity and sorrow.

Ascend in thought upon Golgotha and Crucify Yourself.

Remember that you are a Christian, redeemed by the blood of Christ, cleansed with the water of Baptism. You have received the gift of the Holy Spirit; you have sat at the table of the Lord and are nourished by His Body and Blood. And you have flouted all this for the sake of sin that destroys you! Ascend in thought upon Golgotha, and understand what your sins have cost. Will you really still wound the head of the Lord with the thorns of your sins? Will you still nail Him to the Cross, pierce His side and mock His long-suffering? Or perhaps you do not see that by sinning you participate in tormenting the Saviour, and thereby share a part in the tormentors’ lot. But if you abandon sin and repent you will partake of the power of His death. Choose one or the other: either crucify Him, then perish eternally — or crucify yourself, and inherit eternal life with Him.

Consider the Sin you Cling to — abhor and Reject it.

Consider further what that sin you cling to is. It is an evil more disastrous than all evils. It separates you from God, wreaks havoc on your soul and body, torments your conscience, brings upon you God’s punishment in life and at death; and after death it sends you to hell, closing Paradise to you forever. What a monster it is to people! Bring to your senses all the evil of sin, and force yourself to abhor it and reject it.

St Theophan the Recluse from ”The path to salvation” p2-ch5.5

On the procession of the Holy Spirit. by Michael Pomazansky.

On the procession of the Holy Spirit.

The ancient Orthodox teaching of the personal attributes of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit

was distorted in the Latin Church by the creation of a teaching of the procession, outside of time

and from all eternity, of the Holy Spirit from the Father and the Son — the Filioque. The idea

that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son originated in certain expressions of

Blessed Augustine. It became established in the West as obligatory in the ninth century, and

when Latin missionaries came to the Bulgarians in the middle of the ninth century, the Filioque

was in their Symbol of Faith.

As differences between the papacy and the East Orthodox became sharper, the Latin dogma

became increasingly strengthened in the West; finally, it was acknowledged in the West as a universally

obligatory dogma. Protestantism inherited this teaching from the Roman Church.

The Latin dogma of the Filioque is a substantial and important deviation from Orthodox

truth. This dogma was subjected to a detailed examination and accusation, especially by Patriarchs

Photius (9th century) and Michael Cerularius (11th century), and likewise by St. Mark of

Ephesus, who took part in the Council of Florence (1439). Adam Zernikav (18th century), who

converted from Roman Catholicism to Orthodoxy, cites about a thousand testimonies from the

writings of the Holy Fathers of the Church in favor of the Orthodox teaching of the Holy Spirit in

his work, Concerning the Procession of the Holy Spirit.

In recent times, the Roman Church, out of “missionary” aims, has disguised the importance

of the difference between the Orthodox teaching and the Roman teaching of the Holy Spirit.

With this in mind, the popes have kept the ancient Orthodox text of the Symbol of Faith, without

the words “and from the Son,” for the Uniates and the “Eastern Rite.” However, this cannot be

regarded as a kind of half rejection by Rome of its own dogma. At best, it is only a disguise forthe Roman view that the Orthodox East is backward in dogmatic development, that one must be

condescending to this backwardness, and that the dogma expressed in the West in a developed

form (explicite, in accordance with the Roman theory of the “development of dogmas”) is concealed

in the Orthodox dogma in a still undeveloped form (implicite). However, in Latin dogmatic

works, intended for internal use, we encounter a definite treatment of the Orthodox dogma

of the procession of the Holy Spirit as a “heresy.” In the officially approved Latin dogmatic work

of the doctor of theology, A. Sanda, we read: “Opponents (of the present Roman teaching) are the

schismatic Greeks, who teach that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father alone. Already in the

year 808 Greek monks protested against the introduction by the Latins of the word Filioque into

the Creed . . . Who the originator of this heresy was, is unknown” (Sinopsis Theologiae Dogmaticae

Specialis, by Dr. A. Sanda, vol. 1, p. 100; Herder edition, 1916).

However, the Latin dogma agrees neither with Sacred Scripture nor with the universal Sacred

Tradition of the Church; and it does not even agree with the most ancient tradition of the

Local Church of Rome.

In their defense, Roman theologians cite a series of passages from Sacred Scripture where

the Holy Spirit is called “of Christ,” where it is said that He is given by the Son of God; from this

they conclude that He proceeds also from the Son. The most important of these passages cited by

Roman theologians are: the words of the Savior to His disciples concerning the Holy Spirit, the

Comforter: “He shall take of Mine, and shall show it unto you” (John 16:15); the words of the

Apostle Paul, “God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts” (Gal. 4:6); the words

of the same Apostle, “Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His” (Rom.

8:9); and from the Gospel of John, “He breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the

Holy Spirit” (John 20:22).

In like fashion, the Roman theologians find in the works of the Holy Fathers of the Church

passages where often there is mention of the sending of the Holy Spirit “through the Son” and

sometimes even of a “proceeding through the Son.”

However, no reasoning of any kind can obscure the perfectly precise words of the Savior:

“the Comforter, whom I will send unto you from the Father, and immediately afterwards, the

Spirit of Truth, which proceedeth from the Father” (John 15:26). The Holy Fathers of the Church

could not possibly place in the words “through the Son” anything that is not contained in Sacred

Scripture.

In the present case, Roman Catholic theologians are either confusing two dogmas — that is,

the dogma of the personal existence of the Hypostases and the dogma of the Oneness of Essence

which is immediately bound up with it, although it is a separate dogma — or else they are confusing

the inner relations of the Hypostases of the All Holy Trinity with the providential actions

and manifestations of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, which are directed towards the

world and the human race. That the Holy Spirit is One in Essence with the Father and the Son,

that therefore He is the Spirit of the Father and of the Son, is an indisputable Christian truth, for

God is a Trinity One in Essence and Indivisible.

This idea is clearly expressed by Blessed Theodoret: “Concerning the Holy Spirit, it is said

not that he has existence from the Son or through the Son, but rather that He proceeds from the

Father and has the same nature as the Son, is in fact the Spirit of the Son as being One in Essence

with Him” (Bl. Theodoret, “On the Third Ecumenical Council”).

In the Orthodox Divine services also, we often hear these words addressed to the Lord Jesus

Christ: By Thy Holy Spirit enlighten us, instruct us, and preserve us.” The expression, “the Spiritof the Father and the Son,” is likewise in itself quite Orthodox. But these expressions refer to the

dogma of the Oneness of Essence, and it is absolutely essential to distinguish this from another

dogma, the dogma of the begetting and the procession, in which, as the Holy Fathers express it, is

shown the Cause of the existence of the Son and the Spirit. All of the Eastern Fathers acknowledge

that the Father is monos aitios, the sole Cause” of the Son and the Spirit. Therefore, when

certain Church Fathers use the expression “through the Son,” they are, precisely by means of this

expression, preserving the dogma of the procession from the Father and the inviolability of the

dogmatic formula, “proceedeth from the Father.” The Fathers speak of the Son as “through” so

as to defend the expression “from,” which refers only to the Father.

To this one should add that the expression, “through the Son,” which is found in certain

Holy Fathers, in the majority of cases refers definitely to the manifestations of the Holy Spirit in

the world, that is, to the providential actions of the Holy Trinity, and not to the life of God in

Himself. When the Eastern Church first noticed a distortion of the dogma of the Holy Spirit in

the West and began to reproach the Western theologians for their innovations, St. Maximus the

Confessor (in the 7th century), desiring to defend the Westerners, justified them precisely by saying

that by the words “from the Son” they intended to indicate that the Holy Spirit is given to

creatures through the Son, that He is manifested, that He is sent — but not that the Holy Spirit

has His existence from Him. St. Maximus the Confessor himself held strictly to the teaching of

the Eastern Church concerning the procession of the Holy Spirit from the Father and wrote a special

treatise about this dogma.

The providential sending of the Spirit by the Son of God is referred to in the words, “Whom

I will send unto you from the Father.” Also, we pray: “O Lord, who didst send down thine All

holy Spirit at the third hour upon Thine apostles, Him take not away from us, O Good One, but

renew us who pray to Thee” (troparion of the third Hour on weekdays of Great Lent; also said

silently by the priest before the Consecration at the Liturgy). Confusing the texts of Sacred Scripture

which speak of the “procession” with the others which speak of the “sending” of the Holy

Spirit, Roman theologians transferred the concept of providential relations to the very existence

of the Godhead, to the relations there between the Persons of the Holy Trinity.

Apart from the dogmatic side, by introducing a new dogma the Roman Church violated the

decree of the Third and subsequent Ecumenical Councils (4th to 7th centuries), which forbade

the introduction of any kind of change into the Nicaean Symbol of Faith after the Second Ecumenical

Council had given it its final form. Thus, the Roman Church also performed a serious

canonical violation.

But when Roman theologians try to say that the whole difference between Roman Catholicism

and Orthodoxy in the teaching on the Holy Spirit is that they teach the procession “also

from the Son” while we teach of the procession “through the Son,” in such an assertion there is

hidden at the very least a misunderstanding (even though sometimes our church writers also follow

the Catholics and allow themselves to repeat this idea). (The expression “through the Son”

does not at all comprise a dogma of the Orthodox Church; it is only an explanatory means of certain

Holy Fathers in their teaching on the Holy Trinity, whereas the very meaning of the teaching

of the Orthodox Church in essence is different from that of Roman Catholicism.

Why the filioque is an heresy . By Fr John Romanides.

Apart from the specific teaching of our Lord regarding the procession

of the Holy Spirit (as recorded in John 15:26), the understanding of

this Mystery is been seriously muddled by at attempt to defend the

Credal addition (and the Son) which is unscriptural, as legitimate

over many centuries. Though this addition has become the theological

patrimony of western Christian theology, it is by no means a

complicated issue, nor an insurmountable barrier in Christian unity.

Return to the Scriptures, and start there – don’t end there attempting

to proof-text novel theological concepts.

The Filioque is a heresy, because it confuses the hypostatic

properties of the Father, i.e. His being cause, with those of the

Son and, as a result, introduces a kind of Semi-Sabellianism.

This is the case if the notion of being cause belongs both to the

Father’s and to the Son’s hypostasis, but not to the Spirit’s. If

the Father and the Son as hypostases are the cause of the

existence of the Holy Spirit, then, according to Photios, we have

two principles in the Godhead, or, if they think of the Father

and the Son as one cause, then, as we said above, we have Semi-

Sabellianism, i.e. the identification of the incommunicable,

hypostatic properties of the Father and the Son. If the cause is

identified with the essence and not with the hypostaseis, then

the Holy Spirit is a creature, because the doctrine that the

essence is the cause of another person is the doctrine of the

Eunomians, since they identified the cause of the existence of

the Son with the essence of the Father and attempted on this

basis to demonstrate that the Son is a creature.

Consequently, if the Father’s and the Son’s essence is the cause

of the existence of the Holy Spirit, then the Holy Spirit is a

creature. Again, He is a creature, if the cause of the Spirit’s

existence, or His procession, is a common energy of the Father and the Son, of which the Spirit is lacking. This is the case,

because, as Orthodox and Pneumatomachians argue, the lack of

even one energy common to the Father and to the Son from the

Spirit would demonstrate the created nature of the Spirit. The

one doctrine leads to Semi-Sabellianism and the other to

Eunomianism, or to the heresy of the Pneumatomachoi where

the Spirit becomes a creature.

Today, the Latins (i.e., Roman Catholic theologians) are obliged,

if they wish to revise the foundation of their theology, not only

to take seriously the theology of the Fathers, which constituted

the basis of the decisions of the First and Second Ecumenical

Councils, but also to revise the Trinitarian terminology, which is

based on Augustine’s doctrine.

HT: Mystagogy

Source: An Outline of Orthodox Patristic Dogmatics, pp. 33-35.

Against filioque ! St Photius the great.

Saint Photius, Patriarch of Constantinople, “the Church’s far-gleaming beacon,” lived during the ninth century, and came from a family of zealous Christians. His father Sergius died as a martyr in defense of holy icons. Saint Photius received an excellent education and, since his family was related to the imperial house, he occupied the position of first state secretary in the Senate. His contemporaries said of him: “He so distinguished himself with knowledge in almost all the secular sciences, that it rightfully might be possible to take into account the glory of his age and compare it with the ancients.”

Michael, the young successor to the throne, and Saint Cyril, the future Enlightener of the Slavs, were taught by him. His deep Christian piety protected Saint Photius from being seduced by the charms of court life. With all his soul, he yearned for monasticism.

In 857 Bardas, who ruled with Emperor Michael, deposed Patriarch Ignatius (October 23) from the See of Constantinople. The bishops, knowing the piety and extensive knowledge of Photius, informed the emperor that he was a man worthy to occupy the archpastoral throne. Saint Photius accepted the proposal with humility. He passed through all the clerical ranks in six days. On the day of the Nativity of Christ, he was consecrated bishop and elevated to the patriarchal throne.

Soon, however, discord arose within the Church, stirred up by the removal of Patriarch Ignatius from office. The Synod of 861 was called to end the unrest, at which the deposition of Ignatius and the installation of Photius as patriarch were confirmed.

Pope Nicholas I, whose envoys were present at this council, hoped that by recognizing Photius as patriarch he could subordinate him to his power. When the new patriarch proved unsubmissive, Nicholas anathematized Photius at a Roman council.

Until the end of his life Saint Photius was a firm opponent of papal intrigues and designs upon the Orthodox Church of the East. In 864, Bulgaria voluntarily converted to Christianity. The Bulgarian prince Boris was baptized by Patriarch Photius himself. Later, Saint Photius sent an archbishop and priests to baptize the Bulgarian people. In 865, Saints Cyril and Methodius were sent to preach Christ in the Slavonic language. However, the partisans of the Pope incited the Bulgarians against the Orthodox missionaries.

The calamitous situation in Bulgaria developed because an invasion by the Germans forced them to seek help in the West, and the Bulgarian prince requested the Pope to send his bishops. When they arrived in Bulgaria, the papal legates began to substitute Latin teachings and customs in place of Orthodox belief and practice. Saint Photius, as a firm defender of truth and denouncer of falsehood, wrote an encyclical informing the Eastern bishops of the Pope’s actions, indicating that the departure of the Roman Church from Orthodoxy was not only in ritual, but also in its confession of faith. A council was convened, censuring the arrogance of the West.

In 867, Basil the Macedonian seized the imperial throne, after murdering the emperor Michael. Saint Photius denounced the murderer and would not permit him to partake of the Holy Mysteries of Christ. Therefore, he was removed from the patriarchal throne and locked in a monastery under guard, and Patriarch Ignatius was restored to his position.

The Synod of 869 met to investigate the conduct of Saint Photius. This council took place with the participation of papal legates, who demanded that the participants sign a document (Libellus) condemning Photius and recognizing the primacy of the Pope. The Eastern bishops would not agree to this, and argued with the legates. Summoned to the council, Saint Photius met all the accusations of the legates with a dignified silence. Only when the judges asked him whether he wished to repent did he reply, “Why do you consider yourselves judges?” After long disputes, the opponents of Photius were victorious. Although their judgment was baseless, they anathematized Patriarch Photius and the bishops defending him. The saint was sent to prison for seven years, and by his own testimony, he thanked the Lord for patiently enduring His judges.

During this time the Latin clergy were expelled from Bulgaria, and Patriarch Ignatius sent his bishops there. In 879, two years after the death of Patriarch Ignatius, another council was summoned (many consider it the Eighth Ecumenical Council), and again Saint Photius was acknowledged as the lawful archpastor of the Church of Constantinople. Pope John VIII, who knew Photius personally, declared through his envoys that the former papal decisions about Photius were annulled. The council acknowledged the unalterable character of the Nicean-Constantinople Creed, rejecting the Latin distortion (“filioque”), and acknowledging the independence and equality of both thrones and both churches (Western and Eastern). The council decided to abolish Latin usages and rituals in the Bulgarian church introduced by the Roman clergy, who ended their activities there.

Under Emperor Basil’s successor, Leo, Saint Photius again endured false denunciations, and was accused of speaking against the emperor. Again deposed from his See in 886, the saint completed the course of his life in 891. He was buried at the monastery of Eremia.

The Orthodox Church venerates Saint Photius as a “pillar and foundation of the Church,” an “inspired guide of the Orthodox,” and a wise theologian. He left behind several works, exposing the errors of the Latins, refuting soul-destroying heresies, explicating Holy Scripture, and exploring many aspects of the Faith.

Copyright OCA

Part Two

Will continue .

Fr Lawrence Farley : What does the Orthodox Church think about gay sex? The official answer is not hard to find.

What does the Orthodox Church think about gay sex? The official answer is not hard to find.

URL: https://www.ancientfaith.com/podcasts/nootherfoundation/of_gay_sex_and_leaven

Of Gay Sex and Leaven

What does the Orthodox Church think about gay sex? The official answer is not hard to find. The Orthodox Church has always condemned gay sex as sinful and as something, therefore, not allowed to Christians. The case of gay sex is not much different from that of fornication, that is, illicit straight sex. Fornication has also been condemned as sinful and is not allowed to Christians. If a Christian man is a fornicator, that is, one who routinely and without repentance has sex with a person to whom he is not married, then that person may not receive holy Communion until he has repented and gone to confession. It’s as simple as that. That is the teaching of the Church, however much it may currently be unpopular and however much some pastors may shrink from proclaiming and enforcing it.

Confirmation of Orthodoxy’s condemnation of gay sex may be found in several places. In the OCA’s “1992 Synodal Affirmations on Marriage, Family, Sexuality, and the Sanctity of Life,” for example, the section on homosexuality teaches:

Homosexuality is to be approached as the result of humanity’s rebellion against God, and so against its own nature and well-being. It is not to be taken as a way of living and acting for men and women made in God’s image and likeness. […]

Those instructed and counseled in Orthodox Christian doctrine and ascetical life who still want to justify their behavior may not participate in the Church’s sacramental mysteries since to do so would not help, but harm them.

The section goes on to say that persons with homosexual feelings are to be treated with understanding and that Orthodox Christians who struggle with such feelings and who nonetheless strive to live according to the Orthodox way of life may receive holy Communion in the same way as anyone struggling to overcome a sinful passion must be welcomed. But the basic message is clear enough. Homosexual practice is sinful and thus incompatible with life as an Orthodox communicant.

In today’s Western culture, where the aggressive promotion and celebration of gay sexuality is everywhere in the forefront and the refusal to celebrate it is deemed reprehensible, it takes courage to proclaim the Church’s teaching. Indeed, some Orthodox not only shrink from doing so due to lack of courage, but also inwardly descend from that teaching themselves. It is not because the teaching is not rooted in the Scriptures and the Fathers. The Scriptures and the Fathers clearly condemn homosexual practice, and the dissenters do not usually say, “Well, who cares? Let’s junk the Scripture and the Fathers.” Orthodoxy is the Church of the Fathers par excellence, and such a wholesale and full-throated rejection will simply not sell.

There are other more subtle ways of throwing the Scriptures and the Fathers into the ashcan. One can disingenuously ask questions. “Don’t get upset; I’m only asking the question”—which suggests that the Scripture and the Fathers do not condemn homosexual practice in itself, but only when done promiscuously. Thus, though St. Paul condemned homosexual acts in Romans 1 as “contrary to nature,” these revisionists suggest that it was only the case of men using boys for recreational sex that Paul objected to, and that he would have had no problem with the case of two homosexual men living together in faithful monogamy. It is an astonishing thing to say about Paul who is, after all, a first century Jew, but it does show the desperation of their exegesis.

Or, one can talk in the social media about a “new anthropology” using many long words in an attempt to dazzle the simple when in fact what we have here is not a new anthropology but only a novel interpretation of the old texts. What is new is not the anthropology but the anthropologists that say the Christians are contradicting their own received Tradition.

Or, perhaps most easily, while not openly condemning the Church’s official teaching, one can refuse to enforce it. That is, one can knowingly allow men or women who are active homosexuals to stand in the Communion line and knowingly give them holy Communion. If anyone objects, one can respond with a barrage of fine words about love, acceptance, the fact that we’re all sinners, the dangers of Phariseeism, and of Christ’s universal love.

Or, perhaps better yet, one can respond by not saying anything, and pretending that the split between what we say and what we practice does not actually exist. There is, however, a problem with this, even apart from the breath-taking hypocrisy of those giving holy Communion to unrepentant homosexuals despite the clear teaching of the Church about the sinfulness of homosexuality. It is the problem of leaven.

St. Paul warns the people of Corinth that they must not ignore unrepentant sinners in their community and continue to commune them as if their sin did not exist, because such sin would work in their Church community in the same way that leaven, or yeast, works in a lump of dough. That is, just as leaven eventually affects everything in the lump, so such sin grows and affects everything in the Church. He used the example of leaven—perhaps in our modern culture where each household no longer bakes its own bread, the example of cancer might have more resonance. If cancer is allowed to stay in the body, it will spread and eventually affect everything, with death as the final result.

St. Paul’s solution and order is clear: Drive out the wicked person from among you. The issue is not just the sinner’s individual fate, but the fate of the entire community. The unrepentant sinner must be expelled, lest the health and spiritual life of the entire community be imperiled. “What have I,” said St. Paul, “to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the Church whom you are to judge?” (1 Cor 6:12-13). Of course, by “driving out,” St. Paul does not mean running them out of town on a rail, but simply depriving them of the Eucharist. Such excommunication is consistent with love and sensitive pastoral care. It is, in fact, rooted in concern for the person’s soul and aims ultimately at the person’s repentance.

That is the problem today of allowing unrepentant, practicing homosexuals to receive the Eucharist. It imperils the health of the entire Church, giving everyone the idea that the Church now accepts as its own the shifting standards of the world. For of course most people in the Church are not well-read in the Scriptures and the Fathers, and are even less likely to read the encyclicals of bishops, but they do know what they do see happening before their eyes every Sunday. They know that Joe and John or Susan and Stephanie are living together in homosexual union and are still being given the Eucharist. What else can the faithful conclude but that the Church has somehow changed its position on this issue?

This is therefore the new normal. We will have indeed embraced a new anthropology, not as the food of considered theological re-evaluation but simply through worldly praxis and the lack of courage to protest it. If it is true, as our bishops once said, that the faith is preserved through the mass of the faithful and not by the bishops alone, it is the task of the faithful to protest whenever they see the Tradition being trampled. Otherwise, we will not really be Orthodox followers of the Fathers, but simply worldlings with a Byzantine flavor.