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The distinction between schism and heresy


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#1 Mina Mounir

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Posted 15 March 2008 - 10:18 AM

Hi.

I think I read in the canons of councils, and in the first epistle of St. Basil the Great, about a sort of distinction between two groups: sects (schismatics) and heretics.

The early church did not place all the excommunicated in one class: some of them, for example, were accepted just with chrismation; others were rebaptized (like Arians and of Paul of Samosata).

Today, is it possible to reconsider who are schismatics and who are heretics? And what are the dimensions of this distinction? What is the difference in treating each class? There is a variety in the theology of different sects... some are closer to Judaism and Arianism than to Christianity; and some are separated for calendar issues. I'm somehow confused in classifying them. Actually, it is an important question since there presence is heavy and cannot be ignored; besides, there are ecumenical dialogues and councils and protocols that attach us to them. Also, some of us are converts and live in a family which is not always Orthodox, and sometimes not even Christian.

In Christ,
Mina

#2 M.C. Steenberg

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Posted 15 March 2008 - 11:11 AM

Dear Mina and others,

Thank you for the new thread on this important topic. A key text in understanding the distinction is St Basil's letter to Amphilocius, preserved in his corpus as Epistle 188, and often known as his 'first canonical epistle'. The first major section of the epistle speaks to the distinctions drawn between various groups and activities in the Church of St Basil's time. In that text, beginning with comments on the Cathari, he writes:

"As to your enquiry about the Cathari, a statement has already been made, and you have properly reminded me that it is right to follow the custom obtaining in each region, because those, who at the time gave decision on these points, held different opinions concerning their baptism. But the baptism of the Pepuzeni seems to me to have no authority; and I am astonished how this can have escaped Dionysius, acquainted as he was with the canons. The old authorities decided to accept that baptism which in nowise errs from the faith.

"Thus they used the names of heresies, of schisms, and of unlawful congregations. By heresies they meant men who were altogether broken off and alienated in matters relating to the actual faith; by schisms men who had separated for some ecclesiastical reasons and questions capable of mutual solution; by unlawful congregations gatherings held by disorderly presbyters or bishops or by uninstructed laymen. As, for instance, if a man be convicted of crime, and prohibited from discharging ministerial functions, and then refuses to submit to the canons, but arrogates to himself episcopal and ministerial rights, and persons leave the Catholic Church and join him, this is unlawful assembly. To disagree with members of the Church about repentance, is schism. Instances of heresy are those of the Manichæans, of the Valentinians, of the Marcionites, and of these Pepuzenes; for with them there comes in at once their disagreement concerning the actual faith in God. So it seemed good to the ancient authorities to reject the baptism of heretics altogether, but to admit that of schismatics, on the ground that they still belonged to the Church." (Ep. 188.1)

St Basil sets up three categories of division -- heresy, schism, unlawful assembly -- and gives definitions for each. These are, boiled down:
  • Heresy: being altogether broken off and alienated in matters relating to the true faith; to 'disagree concerning the actual faith in God'.
  • Schism: being separated for 'some ecclesiastical reasons and questions', capable of mutual solution.
  • Unlawful assembly: the gatherings of disorderly clergy or laypersons, apart from the due order of the Church.
That first portion of his text also gives a few 'case studies' as examples:
  • Example of heresy: St Basil gives as examples the Manichaeans (who believed in dual theistic forces of good and evil), Valentinians (who removed creation from God's authority), Marcionites (who distinguished between the Father of Jesus and the God of the Old Covenant), and Pepuzenes (who baptised in the name of Montanus and Priscilla).
  • Example of schism: As an example, St Basil mentions the act of 'disagreeing with members of the Church about repentance', by which he clearly means to conceive of its particulars differently than others, but not to deny the reality of the doctrine.
  • Example of unlawful assembly: A cleric who has been forbidden to celebrate liturgical rites, but who does so nonetheless - and those that follow him.
The basic distinction is of doctrine versus order. Heresy is a division in doctrine -- belief in fundamentally different things. Unlawful assembly does not relate directly to doctrine, but to order: not doing things in due order, as one is supposed to. Schism is the least clear-cut, standing in the middle: differences of opinion or practice that relate to doctrinal questions, but do not constitute formal doctrinal divisions.

He goes on in the remainder of the first portion of the letter to describe the responses made towards individuals and groups in these categories. This portion is somewhat lengthy and fairly dense:

"As to those who assembled in unlawful congregations, their decision was to join them again to the Church, after they had been brought to a better state by proper repentance and rebuke, and so, in many cases, when men in orders had rebelled with the disorderly, to receive them on their repentance, into the same rank. Now the Pepuzeni are plainly heretical, for, by unlawfully and shamefully applying to Montanus and Priscilla the title of the Paraclete, they have blasphemed against the Holy Ghost. They are, therefore, to be condemned for ascribing divinity to men; and for outraging the Holy Ghost by comparing Him to men. They are thus also liable to eternal damnation, inasmuch as blasphemy against the Holy Ghost admits of no forgiveness. What ground is there, then, for the acceptance of the baptism of men who baptize into the Father and the Son and Montanus or Priscilla? For those who have not been baptized into the names delivered to us have not been baptized at all. So that, although this escaped the vigilance of the great Dionysius, we must by no means imitate his error. The absurdity of the position is obvious in a moment, and evident to all who are gifted with even a small share of reasoning capacity.

"The Cathari are schismatics; but it seemed good to the ancient authorities, I mean Cyprian and our own Firmilianus, to reject all these, Cathari, Encratites, and Hydroparastatæ, by one common condemnation, because the origin of separation arose through schism, and 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. The first separatists had received their ordination from the Fathers, and possessed the spiritual gift by the laying on of their hands. But 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. And therefore those who were from time to time baptized by them, were ordered, as though baptized by laymen, to come to the church to be purified by the Church's true baptism. Nevertheless, since it has seemed to some of those of Asia that, for the sake of management of the majority, their baptism should be accepted, let it be accepted. We must, however, perceive the iniquitous action of the Encratites; who, in order to shut themselves out from being received back by the Church have endeavoured for the future to anticipate readmission by a peculiar baptism of their own, violating, in this manner even their own special practice. My opinion, therefore, is that nothing being distinctly laid down concerning them, it is our duty to reject their baptism, and that in the case of any one who has received baptism from them, we should, on his coming to the church, baptize him. If, however, there is any likelihood of this being detrimental to general discipline, we must fall back upon custom, and follow the fathers who have ordered what course we are to pursue. For I am under some apprehension lest, in our wish to discourage them from baptizing, we may, through the severity of our decision, be a hindrance to those who are being saved. If they accept our baptism, do not allow this to distress us. We are by no means bound to return them the same favour, but only strictly to obey canons. On every ground let it be enjoined that those who come to us from their baptism be anointed in the presence of the faithful, and only on these terms approach the mysteries. I am aware that I have received into episcopal rank Izois and Saturninus from the Encratite following. I am precluded therefore from separating from the Church those who have been united to their company, inasmuch as, through my acceptance of the bishops, I have promulgated a kind of canon of communion with them." (ibid.)

This is quite a packed text, but it distils down to a basic pattern of approach to division linked to the three categories St Basil described above. Namely, the response to division (i.e. to the return of those who are divided) will differ, depending on whether the division was occasioned by unlawful assembly, schism, or heresy. St Basil's general guidelines are these:
  • If unlawful assembly: To receive such persons back into the Church through repentance and rebuke, together with their followers; and to receive them at their same rank (i.e. if clergy).
  • If heresy: Receiving those who fall into the category of heresy is to be done by baptism; and St Basil clearly views this not as re-baptism, but baptism proper ('for those who have not been baptised into the names delivered to us have not been baptised at all').
  • If schism: This category is less clear, and thus St Basil's extended consideration of it. His basic paradigm is that divergences of opinion, whilst not utterly denying the faith, can nonetheless break one away from the grace of the Spirit ('for it ceased to be imparted when the continuity was broken'), and so their reception pastorally requires being united again to that grace through the anointing and sealing of chrism. However, St Basil does not see this as clear-cut. Those who have withdrawn from the grace of the Spirit as clergy, and have gone about baptising others in this state, 'are no longer able to confer on others that grace of the Holy Spirit from which they themselves are fallen away'; and as such, those whom they have baptised / ordained should be received by baptism. But even here, Basil recognises that the situation remains different from that of utter divergence from the true faith (i.e. from heresy), and he is willing to accept that some such are received by chrismation, their baptism being accepted; and he sees this as fitting for the sake of unity.
I hope this gives some initial food for thought and consideration!

INXC, Dcn Matthew

#3 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 15 March 2008 - 11:58 AM

It is, for one thing, directly relevant to the discussion that has taken place in another thread about converts to the Orthodox Church being received by chrismation or baptism. Schism is evidently a matter of degree and so one would have to consider in this taxonomy whether, for example, the churches of the Anglican communion, the Lutherans, and the Methodists were in heresy or schismatic, and if schismatic, to what degree. It would then have to be considered, in relation to the chrismation/baptism of converts issue, where, on the scale of schism, the Orthodox Church would say that chrismation or baptism was appropriate. And what would be the prospects for agreement in the Orthodox Church about that!

Edited by Andreas Moran, 15 March 2008 - 02:01 PM.


#4 M.C. Steenberg

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Posted 15 March 2008 - 05:47 PM

Above, Andreas wrote:

Schism is evidently a matter of degree and so one would have to consider in this taxonomy whether, for example, the churches of the Anglican communion, the Lutherans, and the Methodists were in heresy or schismatic, and if schismatic, to what degree.


This seems very much in line with what St Basil writes in his epistle. What makes schism difficult is that the line between 'disagreeing about' a doctrine (schism, as he articulates it), and forging a different doctrine (heresy) is not always clear cut. He speaks a bit about this in the latter paragraph of the section. The question of the Donatists in north Africa are a good example of a line that is hard to locate: some Donatist activity was clearly schismatic and not heretical; and yet others was definitively heretical and a transformation of the doctrine of grace and purity.

INXC, Dcn Matthew

#5 M.C. Steenberg

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Posted 15 March 2008 - 06:11 PM

Dear all,

Sorry to follow-up with another post in this thread so quickly, but since Mina's question has encouraged me to look through various texts, I thought I would post some additional materials that address the issue.

In St Basil's epistle 188, quote above, he distinguishes between heresy as breaking from the authentic / true faith, and schism as 'being separated through ecclesiastical reasons' that can find mutual reparation. Following on the 'grey areas' of the latter category, he notes that while grace does not follow heresy (since heresy is, in some sense, a turning away from grace and the source of grace), being in schism does not necessarily render one void of grace - though he also points out that there is the risk it can. This depends on the degree of 'being separated'; for if one turns far enough, from the presence and work of the Spirit, 'it ceases to be imparted when the continuity is broken'.

It is precisely this that relates to the difference in reception of those in schism or in heresy. But it is worth noting that the distinction St Basil articulates, is not universal in the fathers. A relevant text showing a different approach is the record of the proceedings of the third-century council at Carthage that took place under Cyprian (the full text can be found here). The various bishops at that local council identify heresy and schism as different (heresy is 'not having' the true faith; schism is 'having lost' the true faith one once had), but they tend to see the end result of both as similar, and thus regard the necessary response as similar. So Crescens of remarked:

"I judge that all heretics and schismatics who wish to come to the Catholic Church, shall not be allowed to enter without they have first been exorcised and baptized; with the exception of those indeed who may previously have been baptized in the Catholic Church, and these in such a way that they may be reconciled to the penitence of the Church by the imposition of hands."

All are to be received by baptism; and this is not a comment I quote to speak to modern-day practices of reception of converts by baptism or chrismation, but rather to show that Crescens (as several others at the council) viewed schism as rending from the grace of the Spirit substantially enough that such is required. Though it is telling that he separates out a category for those that have received baptism of the Church.

It is also worth noting that the council at Carthage was addressing primarily the question of heretics being received into the Church, and at times the statements at the council simply use 'heretics and schismatics' as a hendiadys -- two words that form one concept. But even within this context, there is still some sense of separation and distinction of the two ideas.

INXC, Dcn Matthew

#6 Mina Mounir

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Posted 16 March 2008 - 12:30 AM

Dear Fr. Mathew and friends ...
first I should thank you for correcting my terrible english and reposting it again. secondly, if I attended the whole day searching on the internet , I would never collect such a specific , concentrated , very clear and well explained material as you gathered just in two posts! so , thanks so much !

well , if possible, I wanna say something may not be accepted by many readers . we - Orthodox - need to watch and read the roman catholic Vatican II council , and learn from it too. I believe that Rome tried to ' Classify ' as much as possible the christian confessions around her. the step of classifying is a very brave one because they felt that they must take a decision towards those millions who are not in communion with her (they managed to distinguish between the Orthodox church as an ' Eastern lounge ' and a valid apostolic church 'even defected because of broken communion with the pope ' , and those who are not more than an ecclesiastical community) ... they took a decision to ' activate ' and ' use ' tradition and authority to face a modern problem .

the epistle of st.Basil and some canons in other councils are inspiring ... we should be ' brave ' enough to take a decision.
when the fathers - for example - faced heresies and ecclesiastical problems , they ' gathered ' what is written and tought in the previous centuries , and produced a summarizing formula or canon .
I believe we need such spirit , a patristic spirit of responsibility... which faces modern issues , not only by mentioning the past accidents , but activating traditions and giving answers.

as much as st. Basil's epistle is brave and a rich source , as much it cannot produce a solution since we today need to define the situation of a very complicated variety . I cannot say that Pentecost groups are as close or valid as Roman Catholicism !
I'm a living example , I'm a former Coptic , chrismated and joined Orthodoxy , my mother is coptic and my father is Catholic ... !
my case maybe easier than thousands of cases in europe and USA where the majority of Orthodox are converts or from convert roots.

in the light of S. Basil's Classification (which is agreed by the 5th-6th council )I'll try to suggest ...

#7 Stephen

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Posted 02 April 2008 - 04:52 PM

Greetings Dcn. Fr. Matthew,

This is exactly the topic I am currently studying. I am hoping you can comment on the sections below PLUS find the time to answer a few questions that I have concerning the various fragmented Russian Orthodox jurisdictions not in communion with the MP have based on this information.

St. Basil the Great's comments on schism have been used to rebut certain points made by those within ROCOR who are against union with the MP.

Archpriest Nicholas Dalinkiewicz, in his "Response to: Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, The Beacon of Light (Revised) by Fr Nikita Grigoriev"

I have had to do some cut and paste from Fr. Nicholas' essay to represent the portions of the rebuttal which deal with the idea of schism.

"Fr Nikita draws the conclusion that at the time that Metropolitan Sergius signed the Declaration and joined forces with the Bolsheviks, MP became a schismatic group. Fr Michael Pomazansky, on the other hand, explains that the process is not that cut and dry; schism, together with loss of grace, is not something that has the precision of a mathematical formula, especially when it involves multitudes of innocent victims."

"Administrative separation has no direct bearing on grace. Grace departs when clergy or individual branches of established churches introduce heresy into their teaching, as was the case, for example, with the split between the Orthodox Church and Rome."

As we can see, Fr. Nicholas' main assertion concerning the difference between heretical schism and administrative schism. He backs this assertion up what he posts from St. Basil (it has been asserted that Fr. Nicholas' text concerning St. Basil on schism is not as he posts it):

"Heresies is the name applied to those who have broken entirely and have become alienated from the faith itself. Schisms is the name applied to those who on account of ecclesiastical causes and remediable questions have developed a quarrel amongst themselves … [Concerning heresies] the question is one involving a difference of faith in God itself. It therefore seemed best to those who dealt with the subject in the beginning to rule that the attitude of heretics should be set aside entirely; but as for those who have merely split apart as a schism, they were to be considered as still belonging to the Church."

The Canonical Epistles, Or, More Expressly, The Ninety-Two Canons, Of Our Father Among The Saints, Basil The Great Interpreted, The Rudder, (1957), p 773

How Fr. Nicholas applies St. Basil in response to Fr. Nikita who points out the MP is schismatic.

" Fr. Nikita's Argument 1 against the Union"

The reason why we can’t ‘join the MP’ is very simple. They are a schismatic group that separated from the Russian Orthodox Church in 1927 under Metropolitan Sergius and to this day remains in that schism. The fact that they have become very powerful, with the help and support of the atheistic government, is entirely irrelevant. They are, from their origin and to this day, a schismatic group that separated from the Church.

Fr. Nicholas' Comment

Schism comes in two versions, as explained previously; it can be due to heresy (the worst kind, that results in departure of the Holy Spirit), or it can be due to disputes of an administrative nature (where both groups remain within the Church). Argument 1 fails to recognise the difference between the two, and therefore erroneously attributes lack of grace* to MP on the grounds that it is separated from the Russian Orthodox Church. Because the separation is not on heretical grounds, then, as explained by St Basil the Great, MP remains within the Church.

(* Stephen's note: In response to Fr. Nicholas' statement, Fr. Nikita has said that his essay does not specifically say that the MP has no grace).

Fr. Nikita's Argument 2

It is extremely important to understand what a schism is. A schism is not a division of the Church into two valid parts that are no longer in communion with each other.

[The Church] is the body of Christ and as such, it is indivisible, in as much as the body of Christ is indivisible.

A schism occurs when a group of people leaves the Church and consequently, breaks communion with the Church.

If the schismatics repent … then they may be received back into the Church through a special rite of confession and absolution AND by the reinstatement of The Holy Spirit in them by the Church. If they persist in their position that is in opposition to the Spirit of Truth, the Holy Spirit of the Church, they remain outside of the Church.

Fr. Nicholas' Comment

As discussed above, this argument is wrong; a (conventional/administrative) schism is precisely a division of the Church into two valid parts that are no longer in communion with each other.

Fr. Nikita's Argument 7

But here’s the very crux of the whole thing. The Russian Church , as headed by its legitimate leader, Met. Peter of Krutitsk, Met Kyril of Kazan, Met Joseph of Petrograd and scores of other high ranking bishops rejected the Declaration of Met. Sergius and emphatically did not join itself to the God-fighting Bolshevik government. The Russian Church , represented by its leader Met. Peter, strictly forbade Met. Sergius to sign the declaration that joined him and his followers to the godless authority. When Met. Sergius [and his followers] ignored this directive … they were then in schism from the Church.

Fr. Nicholas' Comment

As mentioned previously, this interpretation by Fr Nikita is a personal interpretation that is not shared by others. The fact is that spiritual schism did not occur, but rather administrative separation.

My questions based on the above:

1. Is Fr. Nicholas misquoting St. Basil concerning the item of administrative schism?

2. If what Fr. Nicholas asserts is true concerning no grace leaving on account of administrative schism, then can't this assertion also be applied to those Russian Orthodox jurisdictions who - while all having bascially identical dogmas - refuse to enter into communion with the MP? Specifically the RTOC and Bishop Agafangel's groups whom many ROCOR parishes have left ROCOR to join.


Thanks for any responses on this topic.

Stephen

#8 M.C. Steenberg

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Posted 02 April 2008 - 07:20 PM

Dear Stephen,

I read your post, above, with interest. I would not really wish to speak to the question of specific fragments of a letter by St Basil being applied to individual groups in the Russian Orthodox Church, given that I don't know much about some of these groups and wouldn't feel confident speaking to their concerns / positions / status, etc.

However, in response to the general query: It does seem that Fr Nicholas Dalinkiewicz, in the comments you've quoted, does understand the degrees of classification in St Basil's letter, more fully than does Fr Nikita Grigoriev (again, basing this -- perhaps unfairly -- solely on the extracts you've posted; I've not read either person's complete essays, so would not wish to speak more emphatically than to just these remarks). St Basil takes great pains to note a difference between heresy and schism, with regard to the state of grace in persons of each category; and while he clearly does feel that some schism can result in the kind of departure from grace that requires restoration through chrismation, he is also clear that not all schism is of this sort.

INXC, Dcn Matthew

#9 Stephen

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Posted 02 April 2008 - 08:08 PM

Dear Stephen,

I read your post, above, with interest. I would not really wish to speak to the question of specific fragments of a letter by St Basil being applied to individual groups in the Russian Orthodox Church, given that I don't know much about some of these groups and wouldn't feel confident speaking to their concerns / positions / status, etc.

However, in response to the general query: It does seem that Fr Nicholas Dalinkiewicz, in the comments you've quoted, does understand the degrees of classification in St Basil's letter, more fully than does Fr Nikita Grigoriev (again, basing this -- perhaps unfairly -- solely on the extracts you've posted; I've not read either person's complete essays, so would not wish to speak more emphatically than to just these remarks). St Basil takes great pains to note a difference between heresy and schism, with regard to the state of grace in persons of each category; and while he clearly does feel that some schism can result in the kind of departure from grace that requires restoration through chrismation, he is also clear that not all schism is of this sort.

INXC, Dcn Matthew


Fr. Dcn Matthew,
Thank you for the quick response. I agree with your assesment because I feel that Fr. Nicholas lays out his argument quite well and that the cites he uses are authentic. However, it is being said that the section I post below is incorrect.

Is there anyway that you - or anyone - can confirm this is the correct passage? I don't have this book:

"Heresies is the name applied to those who have broken entirely and have become alienated from the faith itself. Schisms is the name applied to those who on account of ecclesiastical causes and remediable questions have developed a quarrel amongst themselves … [Concerning heresies] the question is one involving a difference of faith in God itself. It therefore seemed best to those who dealt with the subject in the beginning to rule that the attitude of heretics should be set aside entirely; but as for those who have merely split apart as a schism, they were to be considered as still belonging to the Church."

The Canonical Epistles, Or, More Expressly, The Ninety-Two Canons, Of Our Father Among The Saints, Basil The Great Interpreted, The Rudder, (1957), p 773

I also notice that in this version found of the net, the section does not at all match what Fr. Nicholas uses.

Thanks,
Stephen

#10 Matthew Namee

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Posted 02 April 2008 - 08:13 PM

I have a tangential comment related to Stephen's post. Much has been made of Met. Sergius' 1927 declaration and the "Sergianism" which followed. I wonder, though, if it is fair to punish, as it were, the entire Moscow Patriarchate for the decision of one man (or a few men). We know that Met. Sergius made his declaration. Does this mean that it can be ascribed to all those who acknowledged his authority and all those who remained in communion with him? How much power does one bishop have?

Schisms are very difficult to pinpoint. We commonly use the date 1054 for the split between East and West, but the actual events of 1054 are of rather minor importance. Even if Rome and the East were separated as of that date, I do not think we can say that every Christian in Western Europe was immediately cut off from the body of the faithful. It takes time for schisms to develop.

In Russia in the period of Met. Sergius, the Orthodox situation was highly irregular. I am not saying that Met. Sergius' declaration was acceptable. I really don't know enough about that period to make a reasonable judgment of it. But given the unusual nature of the time, I don't think it is appropriate to issue a sweeping condemnation of millions of Orthodox Christians simply because one man said that he supported the Soviet government and denied that a persecution was taking place. He may have betrayed his fellow Russian Orthodox, but he certainly didn't cut all of them off from the Church.

#11 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 02 April 2008 - 09:05 PM

Matthew Namee wrote:

But given the unusual nature of the time, I don't think it is appropriate to issue a sweeping condemnation of millions of Orthodox Christians simply because one man said that he supported the Soviet government and denied that a persecution was taking place. He may have betrayed his fellow Russian Orthodox, but he certainly didn't cut all of them off from the Church.



Coming to this perspective was what led us to eventually being able to see that reconciliation was the only proper way forward.

I have underlined the last sentence of the quote because it sums up an ecclesiological point we also eventually realized. The sin of one man- even a Patriarch- does not deprive a whole church of grace; especially when that sin is not a matter of obvious doctrine.

In Christ- Fr Raphael

#12 Stephen

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Posted 02 April 2008 - 09:58 PM

Matthew Namee wrote:




Coming to this perspective was what led us to eventually being able to see that reconciliation was the only proper way forward.

I have underlined the last sentence of the quote because it sums up an ecclesiological point we also eventually realized. The sin of one man- even a Patriarch- does not deprive a whole church of grace; especially when that sin is not a matter of obvious doctrine.

In Christ- Fr Raphael


Fr. Raphael Bless.

In context to schisms and other Russian jurisdictions.

If Archpriest Nicholas Dalinkiewicz assertion - based on St. Basil's comments are accurate, that "Administrative separation has no direct bearing on grace. Grace departs when clergy or individual branches of established churches introduce heresy into their teaching, as was the case, for example, with the split between the Orthodox Church and Rome.", wouldn't this understanding also apply to groups such as Bishop Agafangel's who left ROCOR mostly for administrative reasons that would have been a result of the union with the MP?

Groups such as RTOC and Bishop Agafangel's PSCA - to whom a good number of ROCOR parishes left to join - do not assert that the MP is graceless. They all teach basically the same Orthodoxy as ROCOR and the MP yet do not support the MP's administrative structure.

Stephen

#13 Yuri Zharikov

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Posted 02 April 2008 - 10:57 PM

I am currently reading a book that covers documented responses of Met. Kyrill, Agathangel and Peter to Met. Sergius' declaration and general events in the Russian Church in 1920-30s as reflected in letters and words of these hierarchs. The book contains many, many documents from KGB archives including intecepted personal letters, protocols of interrogations, diaries, etc. TONNES , tonnes of material there. I have read the section on Met Kyrill and am half-way through Met Agathangel.
None of them ever said anything about there being a schism or themselves being a true church. In fact Met. Kyrill said that if nobody was around at his deathbed he would accept absolution from a Met. Sergius' priest. None of the two hierachs protested against the declartion in the first order. Their main protest and the main reason for refusing to commemorate Met. Sergius was usurpation of power, not declaration of loyalty to the soviet government. Met Josef of Leningrad (his official title) also protested against usurpation of power not the declaration.
Also the general situation in the Church at that time, thanks to NKVD, was such a mess that views and attitudes of many bishops changed several times between mid 1920s and mid 1930s.
I am at work now, but will try to post a few excerpts from the book a bit later (the book itself was discussed on a thread by Andreas Moran on Met. Sergius).

Yura

#14 Michael Stickles

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Posted 03 April 2008 - 01:59 AM

Fr. Dcn Matthew,
Thank you for the quick response. I agree with your assesment because I feel that Fr. Nicholas lays out his argument quite well and that the cites he uses are authentic. However, it is being said that the section I post below is incorrect.

Is there anyway that you - or anyone - can confirm this is the correct passage? I don't have this book:

"Heresies is the name applied to those who have broken entirely and have become alienated from the faith itself. Schisms is the name applied to those who on account of ecclesiastical causes and remediable questions have developed a quarrel amongst themselves … [Concerning heresies] the question is one involving a difference of faith in God itself. It therefore seemed best to those who dealt with the subject in the beginning to rule that the attitude of heretics should be set aside entirely; but as for those who have merely split apart as a schism, they were to be considered as still belonging to the Church."

The Canonical Epistles, Or, More Expressly, The Ninety-Two Canons, Of Our Father Among The Saints, Basil The Great Interpreted, The Rudder, (1957), p 773

I also notice that in this version found of the net, the section does not at all match what Fr. Nicholas uses.

Thanks,
Stephen


I don't have that particular book either; however, there are online some of the Canonical Letters of Basil. In Letter CLXXXVIII (To Amphilochius, Concerning the Canons), he says (I have included only the parts which parallel your quote above):

By heresies they meant men who were altogether broken off and alienated in matters relating to the actual faith; by schisms men who had separated for some ecclesiastical reasons and questions capable of mutual solution; ... with them [i.e., heretics] there comes in at once their disagreement concerning the actual faith in God. So it seemed good to the ancient authorities to reject the baptism of heretics altogether, but to admit that of schismatics, on the ground that they still belonged to the Church.


That seems pretty much the same as what you posted. The section which was snipped out discusses unlawful assembly, and gives an example of that as well as examples of schism and heresy. This same text (I think the same translation, though I didn't examine it carefully) is also on the CCEL website in volume 8 of the Nicene/Post-Nicene Fathers (second set).

In Christ,
Mike

#15 Kosta

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Posted 03 April 2008 - 05:16 AM

We must remember that these canons apply to groups that at one time were of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church but severed themselves from it (whether thru heresy or schism). They do not refer to todays groups that call themselves christian (protestants) but never had an association with the Orthodox church.

The Orthodox holy canons also allows entrance into the Church by Nestorians and Monophysites without baptism or chrismation at all, but simply requires a renunciation of heresy and an Orthodox confession of faith, and are admitted to Holy Communion immediately. The reason for this is both groups baptise using the correct form of triple immersion in the name of the persons of the Trinity, while still maintaining the first 2 ecumenical councils which gave us the Creed with the identical understanding of it.

Canon 95 of the 6th Ecumenical Council =the part pertaining to nestorians(assyrians) and monophysites (OO):

......"Nestorians are required to make written statements and to anathematize their heresy and Nestorius, Eutyches, Dioscorus and, Severos, and the rest of the leaders of such heresies, as well as those who entertain their beliefs, and all the aforementioned heresies, and thus they may partake of Holy Communion".

........

#16 Misha

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Posted 03 April 2008 - 01:25 PM

Elder Ephraim ,the abbott of st Andrew's skete in Mt Athos ,says that from his experience the spiritual struggle of the newcomers to Ortodoxy becomes much more complicated when they re accepted just by chrismation.

Also fr Placide Deseille ,who was a prominent latin theologist and hegumen, when he became orthodox insisted very much to get baptized and finally he took the Holy Baptism in the monastery of Simonos Petra in Athos..

#17 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 03 April 2008 - 02:56 PM

Fr. Raphael Bless.

In context to schisms and other Russian jurisdictions.

If Archpriest Nicholas Dalinkiewicz assertion - based on St. Basil's comments are accurate, that "Administrative separation has no direct bearing on grace. Grace departs when clergy or individual branches of established churches introduce heresy into their teaching, as was the case, for example, with the split between the Orthodox Church and Rome.", wouldn't this understanding also apply to groups such as Bishop Agafangel's who left ROCOR mostly for administrative reasons that would have been a result of the union with the MP?

Groups such as RTOC and Bishop Agafangel's PSCA - to whom a good number of ROCOR parishes left to join - do not assert that the MP is graceless. They all teach basically the same Orthodoxy as ROCOR and the MP yet do not support the MP's administrative structure.

Stephen


God bless.

As to the question you ask above; "wouldn't this understanding also apply to groups..."

Ultimately I would say that this comes down to an assessment based on present circumstances.

Thus a groups' over all state may be deemed so egregious on several levels: canonical, administrative, type of piety, etc; that even though technically only schismatic it is related to in reality as being almost heretical in character.

Others however for all that there is some aspect contradictory to the principles by which the Church lives are still seen as being part of the Church of Christ.

This can all seem like double talk until we understand that the Church is given that continual task of discerning the ecclesiological character of that body or group before us.

In Christ- Fr Raphael

Edited by Fr Raphael Vereshack, 03 April 2008 - 02:56 PM.
corrected formatting


#18 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 03 April 2008 - 05:42 PM

I am at work now, but will try to post a few excerpts from the book a bit later (the book itself was discussed on a thread by Andreas Moran on Met. Sergius).

Yura


If this book is accepted - and the evidence in it is incontrovertible, so far as I have been able to judge - all talk of a schism in the Russian Orthodox Church during the period of its administration by Metropolitan/briefly Patriarch Sergius becomes redundant and the objections to MP untenable.

#19 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 03 April 2008 - 09:05 PM

I am currently reading a book that covers documented responses of Met. Kyrill, Agathangel and Peter to Met. Sergius' declaration and general events in the Russian Church in 1920-30s as reflected in letters and words of these hierarchs. The book contains many, many documents from KGB archives including intecepted personal letters, protocols of interrogations, diaries, etc. TONNES , tonnes of material there. I have read the section on Met Kyrill and am half-way through Met Agathangel.
None of them ever said anything about there being a schism or themselves being a true church. In fact Met. Kyrill said that if nobody was around at his deathbed he would accept absolution from a Met. Sergius' priest. None of the two hierachs protested against the declartion in the first order. Their main protest and the main reason for refusing to commemorate Met. Sergius was usurpation of power, not declaration of loyalty to the soviet government. Met Josef of Leningrad (his official title) also protested against usurpation of power not the declaration.
Also the general situation in the Church at that time, thanks to NKVD, was such a mess that views and attitudes of many bishops changed several times between mid 1920s and mid 1930s.
I am at work now, but will try to post a few excerpts from the book a bit later (the book itself was discussed on a thread by Andreas Moran on Met. Sergius).

Yura



To both Yuri and Andreas,

Quotes or synopses from these books would be greatly appreciated.

In Christ- Fr Raphael

#20 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 03 April 2008 - 11:20 PM

I think, Father, it's likely this is one and the same book, the one of which I gave details in the 'Patriarch Sergius and the New Martyrs of Russia' thread. Yuri will confirm. We're going to Russia next week so I won't have time to do as you ask, I'm sorry. But it should also be remembered that St Afanasii (Sakharov), who, as I think I mentioned at one point, spent 33 years in the camps, whilst refusing to acknowledge Sergius' administration (and he was administrator not Patriarch for nearly all the relevant years), did accept his successor, Alexey I.

Are those who refuse to join MP seeking the perfect jurisdiction? They won't find it. What they would find in the ROC is a great cloud of witnesses, and as soon as we arrive in Moscow we're going to Butovo to venerate those who gave their lives for Christ in that place.




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