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Non-Christological differences


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#1 Kris

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Posted 03 November 2006 - 08:19 PM

Dear brothers and sisters,

I was wondering whether anyone could provide me with answers to some questions I have regarding the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.

Separate from the whole Chalcedon issue (which I shall not go into here), there are a few things I find puzzling regarding some of the practices of this Church:

1. The Bible inclusion of various pseudographic works into both the OT and NT canons (such as Enoch, Jubelies, etc.).

A related question, on the opposite side of the spectrum, would be Pope Cyril V's removal of the Deuterocanonical books from the Old Testament.

2. The observance of Old Testament Law - circumcision, dietry restrictions, etc.

To what extent can differences on such issues exist within the Church (bearing in mind St. Paul's teachings regarding observance of the Law and that the Bible canon seems to have been settled by the Councils), and to what exstend did they exist prior to the schism of 451?

Thank you

In XC,
Kris

#2 Mina Soliman

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Posted 07 November 2006 - 04:49 AM

1. I think the Ethiopian Church is only verifying what some Holy Fathers seemed to accept as acceptable in readings of the Bible. The Bible canon did not seem to have been a universal acceptance. St. Athanasius for example mentions how the book of Esther should not be canonical.

Nevertheless, the faith of Ethiopia is still Orthodox.

On the other hand, I have never heard of St. Pope Cyril V removing OT deuterocanonical books. To my recollection, the Coptic Church he lead still has these books in her canon. We strictly follow the Greek Septuagint.

2. What St. Paul taught was that it was "not necessary" as opposed to "forbidden" to follow these restrictions for the sake of the Gentile cultures. But the same St. Paul had to ask one of this disciples (was it Timothy or Titus?) to be circumcised to evangelize the Jews. The Ethiopians already were a Jewish culture due to King Solomon's influence. All they needed was evangelization by showing them the fulfillment of OT prophecies, such as what St. Phillip the deacon did with the Ethiopian Eunuch.

So if they want to follow these restrictions, it's up to them, but they must know that it is not a necessary issue, and I don't believe all Ethiopian Orthodox practice such restrictions.

God bless.

Mina

#3 Kris

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Posted 07 November 2006 - 11:28 AM

Dear Mina,

Thanks for your reply. I was thinking along the same lines as you.

To restate the second part of my queston. To what extent do you (and the others) think such differences can exist within the Church? For example, if a local Church adopted the Gospel of Mary Magdalene into the NT canon, would this be considered heresy?

On the other hand, I have never heard of St. Pope Cyril V removing OT deuterocanonical books. To my recollection, the Coptic Church he lead still has these books in her canon. We strictly follow the Greek Septuagint.


I got the reference to Pope Cyril V's removal of these books from Two Thousand Years of Coptic Christianity by Otto F.A. Meinardus (p. 40), which states that:

At the beginning of the twentieth century, the question of the canon was discussed again in the Coptic Church, and by order of Cyril V, the 112th patriarch, the following books were removed from tha canon: Tobit, Judith, the Completment of Esther, the Wisdom of Solomon, Ecclesiasticus, the Epistle of Jeremiah, Baruch, the Complement of Daniel (Susanna and the three youths in the fire), and the Books of Maccabees. No changes, however, were made regarding the New Testament canon. In 1928 Habib Girgis published his Catechism for Youth, which lists the following Old Testament books as canonical: the Pentateuch, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, I and II Samuel, I and II Kings, I and II Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, and the four major and twelve minor Prophets.


I also believe the Coptic Encyclopedia says the same thing.

It was also my understanding that the Coptic Church today has returned to the full canon of the LXX, but (assuming this source is correct) there was at least a period at the beginning of the 20th century when the books were removed from the canon; hence my question.

In XC,
Kris

#4 Peter Farrington

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Posted 07 November 2006 - 11:44 AM

I think it is the case, in relation to the Ethiopian canon that the books in question are all Deutero-Canonical and not part of the primary canon.

It seems to me that we do include many other works in the wider Deutero-Canon of Scripture even while we have a narrow and uniform Primary Canon.

The Shepherd of Hermas, the Letters of Ignatius, those of Polycarp etc, are clearly not Scripture in the Primary sense, but they are all read for edification in the Deutero-Canonical sense. Is this not universal?

If there was of necessity a fixed canon of Scripture in the dogmatic sense then the whole Church was heretical for centuries. I don't see that any of the Primary Canon has been removed by the Ethiopians, rather they have made statements about which other books should also be valued in the Church.

I don't see how a variety in the Deutero-Canon can be considered heretical? It seems if I were so strict that I would be making dogma out of a secondary issue. The question could be raised by the Ethiopians, "Do you not read and value the the Book of Jubilees?" Since we would generally say "Yes", the the Ethiopians could well say that what they have done by more formally selecting which books should be considered Deutero-Canonical is only what everyone else does with a variety of levels of formality.

The idea of a distinction between the Primary and Deutero-Canonical books is after all extremely old. Since it took so long to determine the Primary Canon, without any harm as far as I can see to the Church I don't think there is any harm in local churches having a variety of lists of Deutero-Canonical works.

Peter

#5 Mina Soliman

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Posted 08 November 2006 - 07:17 PM

Thank you Kris for those quotes. I really don't know what to say about that, other than perhaps it might have been a weak point for HH Pope Kyrillos V. He was known for his peacemaking and modernization of the Coptic Church, but perhaps this is one thing where the Church presently may disagree with him.

I'm personally not very well versed on the recent history of the Coptic Church.

And since this is the thread for "non-Christological" differences, I have a question I like to pose, a question that somewhat bothers me. It's the issue of the ancient imperialism the Church got involved in. I've always got the impression that the my own Church was against any involvement of our Church with the government (kind of like the issues of the Russian Church and the so-called "Sergianism"). It worries me that I hear things like "the emperor had a duty to protect the faith in his laws" or "the emperor was in charge of convening councils" (which may perhaps be partially true) or that "the emperor and queen in Constantinople were allowed to enter the altar" when they're not even ordained in clerical duties.

Such things bother me and worry me. While I fully believe with St. Paul that God ordained the government that we as good Christian citizens should follow its laws, we should never involve ourselves or mix the Church with the politics of the state. Otherwise it would corrupt the Church, in my opinion. It was actually the emperial mixing with Church affairs that lead me to believe was a major problem with the split in Chalcedon. And the burning of heretic churches and pagan temples to convert them to Christian churches under emperial orders, and the emperial beatings of people like Flavian and Dioscorus, all of which are just amazingly horrible to see as a part of ancient Christian history. This is why I emphasize Christ's message "render to Caesar that belongs to Caesar, and to God God's."

The question I ask is whether the emperor is looked as some sort of clerical duty, or whether one believes in the true separation of Church and state?

God bless.

Mina

#6 Kris

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Posted 08 November 2006 - 07:52 PM

Dear Mina,

And since this is the thread for "non-Christological" differences, I have a question I like to pose, a question that somewhat bothers me. It's the issue of the ancient imperialism the Church got involved in. I've always got the impression that the my own Church was against any involvement of our Church with the government (kind of like the issues of the Russian Church and the so-called "Sergianism").


I believe the resistance to the Imperial authorities within the Coptic Church stems from the fact that the Byzantines' were (lamentably) very often opressive and harsh rulers, and the natives of Egypt (and those of other places) often suffered under their rule.

Likewise, the problems of the Russian Church were with an opressive and satanic atheist regime, which desired the destruction of holy Orthodoxy.

That being said, do not forget that although the Coptic Church (under Byzantine Empire until the Islamic conquest) was unfavourable towards Imperialism, the Ethiopians held on to their Solomonic dynasty of Emperors until the death of H.I.M. Haile Selassie I (whose titles included "Elect of God") in the latter half of the 20th century.

I don't believe the role of the Ethiopian Emperor was all too different from that of the Byzantines or Tsarist Russia until the martyrdom of Tsar St. Nicholas II at the hands of atheist revolutionaries.

It worries me that I hear things like "the emperor had a duty to protect the faith in his laws" or "the emperor was in charge of convening councils" (which may perhaps be partially true) or that "the emperor and queen in Constantinople were allowed to enter the altar" when they're not even ordained in clerical duties.


1. I don't see the problem with the idea that it was the duty of the Emperor to protect the faith. He was a member of the Church of Christ - having been annointed sovreign by the Church - and so why should it not be his duty (like that of all believers) to defend the faith in his actions.

2. The Emperor always convened the Councils. This was true of all the Ecumenical Councils the Coptic Church recognise as such; the Council of Nicea having been called and presided over by St. Constantine the Great.

3. As for receiving Holy Communion in the sanctuary (which was custom also in Tsarist Russia), I personally see it as fitting that the person annointed by the Church - the elect of God - to rule over Her faithful should receive the holy Eucharist with the priesthood.

Such things bother me and worry me. While I fully believe with St. Paul that God ordained the government that we as good Christian citizens should follow its laws, we should never involve ourselves or mix the Church with the politics of the state. Otherwise it would corrupt the Church, in my opinion. It was actually the emperial mixing with Church affairs that lead me to believe was a major problem with the split in Chalcedon. And the burning of heretic churches and pagan temples to convert them to Christian churches under emperial orders, and the emperial beatings of people like Flavian and Dioscorus, all of which are just amazingly horrible to see as a part of ancient Christian history. This is why I emphasize Christ's message "render to Caesar that belongs to Caesar, and to God God's."

The question I ask is whether the emperor is looked as some sort of clerical duty, or whether one believes in the true separation of Church and state?


I don't believe the Church has ever believed in a complete separation of Church and state. This is a concept which developed in post-enlightenment Europe, following the removal of monarchies, etc.

You will see in most Byzantine churches (and indeed, around the neck of Armenian hierarchs) the double headed eagle - one head symbolising the Church, the other the state.

There was always a separation of Church and state in the sense that one could not interfere in the affairs of the other (although, granted, many Emperors overstepped their boundaries). So the Emperor had no right in matters of dogma and doctrine, nor did the Church have the right to make legislation.

However, there was always to be a cooperation between the two. The Emperor acted as the protector and defender of the Church, but was at all times bound by Her faith and teachings.

I must admit I am not particularly well-read on these issues, so hopefully someone else will fill in the gaps and correct any mistakes I made.

In XC,
Kris

#7 Mina Soliman

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Posted 10 November 2006 - 12:53 AM

I believe the resistance to the Imperial authorities within the Coptic Church stems from the fact that the Byzantines' were (lamentably) very often opressive and harsh rulers, and the natives of Egypt (and those of other places) often suffered under their rule.


That is one influence. But even so, when reading things from a Coptic perspective, I've gotten the feeling that ever since St. Constantine, the Church of Alexandria was quite distrustful to the emperor. It was Constantine himself who wanted St. Athanasius dead, and St. Athanasius had to be in hiding protecting the faith. There was also this story that St. Athanasius was accused for not sharing corn in trade with other states, and this was given a similar parallel to Dioscorus in his relationship with Marcian.

This is not to say that we don't cooperate with the government. I agree that we should cooperate with them, but not to proclaim some sort of Christian government that would imprison heretics and sinners. For example, our Coptic Church is working with the Islamicly influenced Egyptian government for the peace of her people, and that to me is fine. I don't see how that is any different from a "Christian government", and in fact, I would lament putting those two words together since that would dangerously lead to a mix of Church and state.

Then again, I'm not saying it's totally wrong to have a "Christian government," but it's a dangerous route to take, and if history taught us anything about the Byzantine empire, it's basically doing that. Sometimes I feel we as Christians were better off when facing an oppressive government. Who know? The fall of the Ethiopian emperor and the Byzantine empire could be because of some sort of weakness or corruption in the system.

So going through the three points:

1. Should the duty of the Christian governor oppress heretics and pagans equally as criminals, or banish them from the empire, or should he personally keep the faith and set a good example while allowing freedom of religion?

2. I agree that emperors do have some sort of power to convene, but presiding is done not by emperors, but by a bishop, specifically Rome, Constantinople, or Alexandria (Alexandria did preside twice in the fourth and fifth centuries). Neither should he decide or precide over what the faith might be.

3. There is no sacrament in anointing of kings to my knowledge. We pray for our rulers to do what is pleasant before God, since God blessings rulers. But we do not treat a ruler the same as a cleric. He is no more than a layman in my humble opinion.

This is a concept which developed in post-enlightenment Europe, following the removal of monarchies, etc.


Sometimes, we can learn a lot from them, even though they were heretics. They did remove monarchies based on the monarch's corruptions and beliefs that they were direct communicators of God.

I must admit I am not particularly well-read on these issues, so hopefully someone else will fill in the gaps and correct any mistakes I made.


I personally am not either, so I'm open to understanding.

God bless.

Mina

#8 Scott Pierson

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Posted 21 November 2006 - 02:07 AM

The NT doesn't have too much direct discussion of the issue of government but there is a lot in the Old Testament and I think many of the Christian empires of the past based a lot of their traditions on things learned from Israel and the way God ordained the governance of the state in the OT. Which I think brings up a interesting question: What can we learn “politically” from OT Israel and how applicable is it to modern times ?

#9 John Charmley

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Posted 21 November 2006 - 05:08 PM

The NT doesn't have too much direct discussion of the issue of government but there is a lot in the Old Testament and I think many of the Christian empires of the past based a lot of their traditions on things learned from Israel and the way God ordained the governance of the state in the OT. Which I think brings up a interesting question: What can we learn “politically” from OT Israel and how applicable is it to modern times ?


Dear Scott,

Coming from a country where we still have an official state Church, I can't say that a sermon on this subject on the text of 'by their fruits shall ye know them' would make cheerful reading. The State would appear to have influenced the Church far more than the other way around. Mr. Gladstone once argued that it was the duty of the Church to be the conscience of the state, but the state obviously thought otherwise!

Clearly in the history of the Church there have been many configurations of the state-church relationship; there are times when I am tempted to think that the most spiritually profitable have not coincided with the secular triumph of the Faith. But it may be that those with a deeper knowledge of the Eastern Roman empire and the Russian empire will bring a different perspective.

Certainly the question of the relationship between the state and the church is a vexing one.

In Christ,.

John

#10 Scott Pierson

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Posted 22 November 2006 - 12:47 AM

Coming from a country where we still have an official state Church, I can't say that a sermon on this subject on the text of 'by their fruits shall ye know them' would make cheerful reading. The State would appear to have influenced the Church far more than the other way around. Mr. Gladstone once argued that it was the duty of the Church to be the conscience of the state, but the state obviously thought otherwise!


Yeah thats often true. Unfortunately I think thats something that can happen regardless of the form of government a people has or the amount of influence (or lack thereof) religious ideas have on state policy. Even in a relatively secular nation ( politically) like the united states we still see an undue influence of outside "political" forces on the Church. Look at the influence of the Republican party on so called " conservative" evangelicals or the democratic party on inner city African American Churches. A nation can have a state Church , a pluralistic secular state , or even persecute the Church like in soviet Russia and state influence on the Church will still be found. In other words I think we will have the bad either way so we might as well be able to have some leverage or influence on the state so something positive can come out of the relationship along with the unfortunate problems. If those problems are ever to be solved or mitigated it will probably be due to spiritual changes that take place within the Church and not within the state . You can separate Church and state or have a symphony of the two and same problem would still exist.

#11 Mina Soliman

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Posted 22 November 2006 - 03:28 AM

Dear Scott,

I've tended to believe that in the OT, the state was the "Church" so to speak. That is, behavior is clearly strictly observed in the Holy Land of Israel, for this is God's soil. Many prophecies put "Judah" or "Israel" in a feminine sense, even though they are clearly male names. To me, it reiterates what Israel's relationship with God as the Church's relationship today with Christ. In Church, we also observe strict behavior from people, and they are cut from the Church if they continue to rebel.

I've always thought that the Holy Fathers, maybe just the Alexandrians (I'm not sure about the others) took the OT very spiritually and allegorically and not literally to the sense that they can use OT Isreali tactics to today's political world. For example, is it still right to stone an adulteress? Should adultery be given the capital punishment? If we feel threatened by a country filled with sinners and terrorists, should we destroy all men, women, children, cattle, and booty?

The OT times are very different from NT times, in my opinion.

God bless.

Mina

#12 Scott Pierson

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Posted 22 November 2006 - 11:50 PM

For example, is it still right to stone an adulteress? Should adultery be given the capital punishment? If we feel threatened by a country filled with sinners and terrorists, should we destroy all men, women, children, cattle, and booty?

The OT times are very different from NT times, in my opinion.


I certainly don't think we as Christians are demanded by God to have a nation in which adultery is punished by death or the OT ceremonial law is enforced or anything like that. I'm just thinking more about general principles that relate to political order, social justice, the purpose of government, the legitimacy of authority, how to make wise decisions in leading a nation, the relation of religion to social order and government, and what powers a state should have and shouldn't.. things like that. I'm sure not everything can be taken over exactly as it was practiced in OT Israel but the principles of good government are universal. Not only is there a lot of relevant material in the histories of the OT (and in the law) there is also a lot of stuff in Proverbs and the wisdom books and such that could be related to government and politics.

should we destroy all men, women, children, cattle, and booty


I would have to agree that some of the things in the OT if understood in a literal sense could be a little extreme and we should therefor look for the allegorical or moral meaning or whatnot. "Dashing the children on stones" for example is often understood by the fathers to mean smashing the thoughts and preventing them from gaining hold on our soul..etc..

#13 Mina Soliman

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Posted 26 November 2006 - 06:59 PM

Dear Scott,

political order, social justice, the purpose of government, the legitimacy of authority, how to make wise decisions in leading a nation, the relation of religion to social order and government, and what powers a state should have and shouldn't


The list you present can be studied by any government really, not just the OT. The OT model can very well be one of many models where you can study the relationship of how government should be.

The question I guess I should ask is why would the OT government (or the ancient Byzantine Christian empirical government) should be used as an "ideal" to follow such characteristics.

God bless.

Mina

#14 Scott Pierson

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Posted 26 November 2006 - 09:56 PM

The question I guess I should ask is why would the OT government (or the ancient Byzantine Christian empirical government) should be used as an "ideal" to follow such characteristics.

I don't think either were perfect so I guess I wouldn't say they should be held up as absolutely ideal. But they are good to look at as examples of Gods people trying to embody the ideal in a fallen world. An ideal that was achieved with varied degrees of success. Most modern states don't even try to embody the Christian ideal and are usually based on secular philosophy's with at most a weak connection to Christian ideas ( certain "enlightened" and deist "Christian" ideals in the US for example). So I do think we can learn more about the ideal by looking at the OT or the various traditional Orthodox states (Roman, Russian, etc.). I actually think we could learn more from studying the ancient pagan philosophers ( especially Plato) cultures and governments then we could secular democracies because at least they tried to pattern their way of life on the divine and the transcendent and were not so completely earth bound and profane as many of the people of today. I'm certainly not saying we have nothing to learn from modern secular and democratic states or that nothing beneficial has ever come out of the arrangement or anything though.

I was just reading the Parables and the book of Sirach and I found a lot of stuff in there that seems like it would be very relevant to the subject. Lessons on how to relate to other people and govern and such. Saint Augustine's the City of God has some good stuff too.

#15 Mina Soliman

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Posted 28 November 2006 - 12:41 AM

I was just reading the Parables and the book of Sirach and I found a lot of stuff in there that seems like it would be very relevant to the subject. Lessons on how to relate to other people and govern and such. Saint Augustine's the City of God has some good stuff too.


Please do share your ideas on what you learned from them. :-)

God bless.

Mina

#16 M. Markewich

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Posted 06 December 2006 - 06:43 AM

First off, I just want to mention this Sunday I will be accepted into the OCA. I never mind shamelessly plugging myself.

Anyway, I have a question that is off-topic from where the thread has gone, but I still thought this was the proper place for it. I've read that the Ethiopian Orthodox, as of the sixth century, recognize Pontius Pilate as a saint. Do other OO Churches recognize him, too, and how would the EO handle that over discussions to reunite? Accepting him as a saint is troubling to me.

Finally, I wanted to know, when you all say that we should approach the OT with the allegorical method, do you also believe that the way it was written was for literal obedience? Is anyone saying that God once advocated killing men, women, and children and is against it now?

#17 Peter Farrington

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Posted 06 December 2006 - 10:52 AM

Hi Matt

Yes, I believe that the Ethiopian Orthodox do consider him a saint based on writings which describe him having repented. Indeed I believe it is said by all Orthodox that his wife was a believer.

Questen writes in his Patrology:

The tendency to minimize the guilt of Pilate which is found in the Gospel According to Peter shows the keen interest with which ancient Christianity regarded his person. The prominent position occupied by Pontius Pilate in early Christian thought is further evidenced by the Gospel of Nicodemus. Into this narrative have been incorporated the so-called Acts of Pilate, a supposed official report of the procurator concerning Jesus. Some Acts of Pilate, it seems, were known as early as the second century. Justin Martyr remarks in his first Apology (35) after he has mentioned the passion and crucifixion of Jesus: 'And that these things happened you can ascertain from the Acts of Pontius Pilate.' A similar statement occurs in chapter 48. Tertullian refers twice to a report made by Pilate to Tiberius. According to him, Pontius Pilate informed the Emperor of the unjust sentence of death which he had pronounced against an innocent and divine person; the Emperor was so moved by his report of the miracles of Christ and his resurrection, that he proposed the reception of Christ among the gods of Rome. But the Senate refused (Apologeticum 5). In another place Tertullian says that the 'whole story of Christ was reported to Caesar—at that time it was Tiberius—by Pilate, himself in his secret heart already a Christian' (Apol. 21, 24). We see here the tendency at work to use the Roman procurator as a witness for the history of the death and resurrection of Christa nd the truth of Christianity.

which suggests that there was very early material circulating which proposed that Pilate had seen and understood that Jesus was the Christ, and early texts suggest that he sent the following report to the Emperor:

Pontius Pilate unto Claudius, greeting.


There befell of late a matter which I myself brought to light (or made trial of): for the Jews through envy have punished themselves and their posterity with fearful judgements of their own fault; for whereas their fathers had promises (al. had announced unto them) that their God would send them out of heaven his holy one who should of right be called their king, and did promise that he would send him upon earth by a virgin; he, then (or this God of the Hebrews, then), came when I was governor of Judaea, and they beheld him enlightening the blind, cleansing lepers, healing the palsied, driving devils out of men, raising the dead, rebuking the winds, walking upon the waves of the sea dry-shod, and doing many other wonders, and all the people of the Jews calling him the Son of God: the chief priests therefore, moved with envy against him, took him and delivered him unto me and brought against him one false accusation after another, saying that he was a sorcerer and did things contrary to their law.

But I, believing that these things were so, having scourged him, delivered him unto their will: and they crucified him, and when he was buried they set guards upon him. But while my soldiers watched him he rose again on the third day: yet so much was the malice of the Jews kindled that they gave money to the soldiers, saying: Say ye that his disciples stole away his body. But they, though they took the money, were not able to keep silence concerning that which had come to pass, for they also have testified that they saw him arisen and that they received money from the Jews. And these things have I reported for this cause, lest some other should lie unto thee (lat. lest any lie otherwise) and thou shouldest deem right to believe the false tales of the Jews.


Therefore it is based on this understanding of Pilate that the Ethiopians consider him a saint. And indeed there are many other saints who seem to have a limited reason for being considered worthy of the title, save in having some glimmer of enlightenment by the grace of God.

As to the problems associated with variant saints? Well this isn't a problem in the OO I guess. I am not aware that the Armenians, for instance, venerate Pilate. But there is surely a sense in which our description of people as saints is to a degree provisional in any case. We honour such people - but it is God who knows the heart, and there are countless worthy souls who are unknown to us, and countless others saints whose veneration has fallen into disuse.

What does this mean? I am sure that those who are saints intercede for us at all times, but it is us ourselves who still see as in a glass darkly.

There are, for instance many anti-Chalcedonian saints who are venerated in the Georgian Eastern Orthodox Church. They are venerated for their missionary zeal and sanctity. The Empress Theodora, a staunch supporter of anti-Chalcedonianism is venerated by both communities. And we have already mentioned elsewhere the case of St Isaac, who was a bishop of the Assyrian Church and certainly not either OO or EO. We do not venerate him because of his ecclesial separation from either the OO or the EO but because of the positive value of his spirituality.

On the other hand there are difficult cases. More difficult than Pilate. The Emperor Justinian for instance. He caused the deaths of tens of thousands of anti-Chaledonians in a bloody and violent persecution, but he is considered a saint by the EO. What can we say? Perhaps we can say that the EO do not venerate him because of his violence but because of some other aspects of his life. Certainly the OO would not be able to venerate him because so many died at his hands. But we must try to understand the good that the EO see in him.

I think that this is the same spirit we should apply to the veneration of Pilate. What is it that is honoured in him? It is in fact the positive aspect of the revelation of Christ's divinity which is recorded very early on.

We may reject this tradition, but it is harder to deny that there is a reason for the veneration among those who maintain this tradition.

In the end I do not believe that God wills us to know the secrets of men's hearts in the way that is His right by nature and as our God. There will always be cases on the edges of our traditions in which some aspects loom largest to one community while other aspects loom largest to others.

I am not sure that we can be 100% certain about everything. That seems rather a disease of some Orthodox in all communions. We do not know everything. I might appear godly but God knows my heart. There is a good reason for the veneration, or at least the remembrance of Pilate, early documentary evidence. But not all or most will be convinced. I am sure that God will take the veneration of those who offer it, and the hesitancy of those who have another view and will honour both if they are in faith.

Isn't it a little like the veneration of relics. In my church we have relics of the True Cross, St Mark, St Patrick, St Alban, St Martin, St Cyril of Alexandria and many others. Are these real relics? I don't know. I believe so. But must I be 100% certain? I have always understood these relics as being rather like icons. I do believe they are genuine, but if they are not then by veneration of the saint is not diminished and the honour intended to God is not misdirected.

Don't we also ask loved ones who have died to pray for us? I mean in an informal and private way? Yet we do not know their state for sure but pray with hope and with the understanding that we have of their lives and love for us. I am not suggesting that the Church is acting out of ignorance, but I have no real problem with various communities viewing people differently to some extent, and especially having different lists of saints. Are there many Armenian Orthodox who venerate St Theodore of Canterbury, my own patron? I doubt it. But are there many/any of us who venerate ALL the saints even of our own local community? Certainly here in the UK many saints are unknown save by their names and local dedications. Have they ceased to be saints? Or is their status a matter, to some degree, of culture, history, local circumstance and accident, and in reality, in God's eyes and presence they are indeed saints and continue to intercede even when we have forgotten them.

I know of Russian bishops who will not allow any veneration of British saints. This does not mean that those saints are not truly saints, it is ultimately up to God not any bishop, to know His own. But equally I do not see any great conflict between a Russian bishop rejecting their veneration and other bishops who accept their veneration. This seems to me to be the same situation as Pilate.

Best wishes

Peter

#18 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 10 December 2006 - 10:56 PM

Dear Peter,

I wonder which Russian bishops do not allow veneration of British saints?
My wife has written a book about British saints commissioned by the Holy Trinity St Sergius Lavra. The head of the Lavra is H. H. the Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia. The bishop who is hegumen of the Lavra acts on behalf of the Patriarch and the project has his blessing.

The Calendar of the Diocese of Sourozh, now clearly under the guidance of MP, includes all Orthodox British saints.

It would seem to follow that any Russian bishop who does not allow veneration of British saints is acting contrary to his superior hierarchical authority.

In Christ,

Andreas.

#19 M. Markewich

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Posted 12 December 2006 - 02:39 AM

Peter, thank you for your response. So the point is that there is no problem with a brother venerating a saint whose sainthood I consider dubious? I guess the only real contention comes when one person considers a saint cursed and another doesn't (a topic that's already been covered).




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