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What makes a heretic?


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#21 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 20 February 2014 - 08:52 AM

The metropolitan, when a priest and archimandrite, used to come to Essex to visit the Elder every year until the Elder's repose. There are photographs of them together. Metropolitan Hierotheos bases much of his spiritual life on the teachings of St Silouan and Elder Sophrony. This is apparent from some of his writings, notably in 'Hesychia and Theology'. He wrote a book about his years at the feet of Elder Sophrony: 'I Knew A Man In Christ: The Life and Times of Elder Sophrony, the Hesychast and Theologian (Οίδα άνθρωπον εν Χριστώ: Βίος και πολιτεία του Γέροντος Σωφρονίου του ησυχαστού και θεολόγου). The metropolitan considers Elder Sophrony to be a great saint on a level with St Gregory the Theologian.



#22 Jason Hunt

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Posted 20 February 2014 - 12:55 PM

The metropolitan, when a priest and archimandrite, used to come to Essex to visit the Elder every year until the Elder's repose. There are photographs of them together. Metropolitan Hierotheos bases much of his spiritual life on the teachings of St Silouan and Elder Sophrony. This is apparent from some of his writings, notably in 'Hesychia and Theology'. He wrote a book about his years at the feet of Elder Sophrony: 'I Knew A Man In Christ: The Life and Times of Elder Sophrony, the Hesychast and Theologian (Οίδα άνθρωπον εν Χριστώ: Βίος και πολιτεία του Γέροντος Σωφρονίου του ησυχαστού και θεολόγου). The metropolitan considers Elder Sophrony to be a great saint on a level with St Gregory the Theologian.

 

Thank you for the information.  I trust the discernment of Met Hierotheos and St. Porphyrios regarding Elder Sophrony.  Still, it would be of interest to know if Met Hierotheos has anywhere addressed the subject of "Name Worshipping", especially as it applies to the accusations against Elder Sophrony.



#23 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 20 February 2014 - 02:05 PM

I don't know who has accused Elder Sophrony of Name worship. His staretz, St Silouan, was attacked by Name worshippers for not agreeing with them, so it's hardly likely Fr Sophrony would have been with them. You may also like to be further reassured by the fact that Elder Simon (Arvanitis) of Penteli called Fr Sophrony ' a diamond' (quite an accolade in Greek, I am told by a Greek).



#24 Jason Hunt

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Posted 20 February 2014 - 04:01 PM

I don't know who has accused Elder Sophrony of Name worship. His staretz, St Silouan, was attacked by Name worshippers for not agreeing with them, so it's hardly likely Fr Sophrony would have been with them. You may also like to be further reassured by the fact that Elder Simon (Arvanitis) of Penteli called Fr Sophrony ' a diamond' (quite an accolade in Greek, I am told by a Greek).

 

The issue was discussed in this thread:

 

http://www.monachos....ie-controversy/

 

Again, I trust the discernment of St. Porphyrios and Met Hierotheos regarding Elder Sophrony, but an explanation from Met Hierotheos regarding Name Worshipping and these accusations regarding Elder Sophrony would be invaluable.  



#25 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 20 February 2014 - 10:47 PM

What accusations? Who has accused Fr Sophrony of being one of the Name worshippers? It is not apparent from the thread mentioned that anyone has made this accusation.



#26 Jason Hunt

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Posted 21 February 2014 - 02:48 AM

In the thread I linked to the accusation was made that Fr. Sophrony taught the Name Worshipping heresy.  To support this claim, the following quote was provided:

 

The Name Jesus as knowledge, as 'energy' of God in relation to the world

and as His proper Name, is ontologically bound up with Him. It is
spiritual reality. Its sound can merge with its reality but not
necessarily so. As a name it was given to many mortal men but when we
pray we utter it with another content, another 'frame' of spirit. For us
it is the bridge between us and Him. It is the canal along which the
streams of divine strength flow to us. As proceeding from the Holy God
it is holy and it hallows us by its invocation. With this Name and
through it prayer acquires a certain tangibleness: it unites us with
God. In it, this Name, God is present like a scent- flask full of
fragrance. Through it, the Celestial One can be sensed imminently. As
divine energy it proceeds from the Substance of Divinity and is divine
itself.

 

The claim that Elder Sophrony taught Name Worshipping has been made by many people on many discussion forums, but I do not know of eminent elder, bishop, priest, patristic scholar, etc. who has made this claim.  

 

Regarding the heretical teachings of Fr. Anthony Bulatovich, Met Anthony (Khrapovitsky) of ROCOR had this to say:

 

Let us return, however to the question of what is the fundamental thoughtlessness or the fundamental falsity of Fr.Bulatovich? In that the energy of the Divinity or the will of the Divinity is not that which the Lorddid or the words that He pronounced. The energy and will of the Divinity have divineness (although without being God), but the works of the Divine energy and of the Divine will are not the same as the energy of God: Divine activity may be called God’s energy, but God’s words and God’s creation—these are works of Divine activity, of Divine energy, and not energy itself. It is this that Fr.Bulatovich, overlooked in his ignorance, or which he, in his cunning desired to over-look. If every word spoken by Godand every one of His actions is God Himself, then it follows that everything seen by and tangible to us is God, and that is, pagan pantheism (and not "pante-istism,"as Father Bulatovich expresses it in his ignorance, repeating the misprint in Russki Inok). http://onimyaslavie....ovitsky-on.html

 

The Russian Synod of 1913 stated on this subject:

 

 In prayer (especially the Jesus prayer) the name of God, and God Himself are inseparably in our consciousness, and it is if they coincide, and indeed, they cannot and ought not be separated, opposing one to the other; but this only in prayer and only by our heart. Examined theologically and in reality, the name of God is only a name. It is not God Himself nor an attribute (characteristic) of His. The name of an object is not the object itself. Therefore, it is impossible for it to be considered or named either God (this would be mindless and blasphemous) or divinity, for it also is not an energy of God. http://onimyaslavie....synod-1913.html

 

So, both of these historical sources consider it heretical to speak of the name of God as an energy of God, as Elder Sophrony appears to have done.  



#27 Owen Jones

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Posted 23 February 2014 - 01:40 PM

I would caution against trying to come up with an "objective" formula as to what makes a heretic.  This is more of an RC fixation, if you will.  And while some great Orthodox names cite Aristotle's four causes in their theologizing -- St. Dionysius the Areopagite for one -- we as Orthodox tend not to use Aristotelian or Thomistic "proofs." 



#28 Kosta

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Posted 24 February 2014 - 09:31 AM

Owen,

I would agree. Trying to find a clean all size fits all marks of a heretic doesnt exist. We can find all sorts of anomalies in Christian history, I gave a few examples in my previous post.

#29 Ilaria

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Posted 24 February 2014 - 03:10 PM

Well, that in itself is problematic. Elder Sophrony I mean. He is a name worshipper. That is a heresy. He explicitly teaches the name of Jesus is a divine energy of the Godhead.

 

I consider this as a very dangerous path; we do not have the right, nor the knowledge to make such sentences. One should try to learn more about the difference between the energy of the Holy Name and the ''divinity of the name''. 

In fact, if you allow me, such interpretations and false conclusions may lead to heresy; what you have just posted here is an example of how an heresy may arise.



#30 Ilaria

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Posted 25 February 2014 - 06:49 AM

It came to my mind this analogy: being a name worshipper is the same thing as venerating an icon for itself.

In his whole life, in his theology, father Sophrony never ceased to have God in his mind and in his heart, to teach a lot of people how to reach God...His work is translated in many languages, his monastery is visited by so many people... How can one accuse him for being a heretic?



#31 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 25 February 2014 - 01:10 PM

The point has been made, in this thread and another, that nothing Father Sophrony wrote is heretical. No one of any standing and authority has accused Father Sophrony of being a Name worshipper. As Ilaria, says, people of all ranks from around the world have come as pilgrims to the monastery here in Essex, including Metropolitan Hierotheos, Archbishop Elisey of Sourozh, Bishop Basil of Wichita, Metropolitan John of Pergamum, and Fathers from the Holy Trinity St Sergius Lavra (a stavropegic monastery of the Patriarch of Moscow), and Professor Giorgos Mantzarides of Thessaloniki. Father Soprony's writings are published by the Lavra, by St Tikhon's Monastery and SVS Press in America, and in Greece. Father Sophrony was a hesychast and a true theologian inasmuch as he speaks from experience of God and not from an intellectual standpoint. His theology is in line with the patristic witness of such as St Gregory Palamas. The Name of Jesus is all-holy and divine as St Ignatii Brianchaninov says, and Father Sophrony's writings are not be interpreted as implying that the Name is God any more than the explicit saying of St John of Kronstadt that the Name is God was meant in any heretical sense, but are to be seen in the context of prayer. As he writes in the quotation give above, praying the Jesus Prayer "is the bridge between us and Him. It is the canal along which the streams of divine strength flow to us. As proceeding from the Holy God it is holy and it hallows us by its invocation. With this Name and through it prayer acquires a certain tangibleness: it unites us with God." If he meant that the Name of Jesus is God, it would make no sense to speak of the invocation of the Name as a bridge or canal to God.


Edited by Andreas Moran, 25 February 2014 - 01:13 PM.





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