A quote from this famous Encyclical:
20. For our faith, brethren, is not of men
nor by man, but by revelation of Jesus Christ, which the divine
Apostles preached, the holy Ecumenical Councils confirmed, the
greatest and wisest teachers of the world handed down in
succession, and the shed blood of the holy martyrs ratified. Let
us hold fast to the confession which we have received
unadulterated from such men, turning away from every novelty as a
suggestion of the devil. He that accepts a novelty reproaches
with deficiency the preached Orthodox Faith. But that Faith has
long ago been sealed in completeness, not to admit of diminution
or increase, or any change whatever; and he who dares to do, or
advise, or think of such a thing has already denied the faith of
Christ, has already of his own accord been struck with an eternal
anathema, for blaspheming the Holy Ghost as not having spoken
fully in the Scriptures and through the Ecumenical Councils.
(quoted from: http://orthodoxinfo....encyc_1848.aspx,
I have a problem understanding what exactly constitutes a "novelty" and what exactly does it mean that the Faith has already been sealed in completeness. It is not that I don't understand the main point of the Encyclical, clearly, dogmas about God are settled, and dogmatic issues discussed at the Ecumenical Councils have been resolved once and for all. But does this Orthodox position, expressed in the Encyclical of 1848, also mean that there will never again appear any issue which could or should be resolved at some new council, and that even entertaining such a thought (that there may appear an issue which should be resolved in matters of faith) represents a blasphemy? For example, (and I have asked about this in the past on this forum), there is the issue of unbaptized infants who die. Recently, I read an opinion of a Serbian priest somewhere who said something in a line of this: the issue of unbaptized infants is an issue which needs to be dealt with, as it is a pressing concern of many parents. On this forum, when the infants issue was discussed, a fellow poster posted a link to this text: http://oca.org/news/...s-fall-session1
The texts and order of two memorial services for pre-born
infants—one that may be celebrated shortly after death, the other a
funeral service—were approved for liturgical use upon the recommendation
of His Eminence, Archbishop Benjamin.
Now, forgive my perhaps overly logical mind, but reading the patriarchal Encyclical of 1848 in its strict sense, it would mean that both this unnamed Serbian priest I mentioned and also the Holy Synod of OCA bishops are guilty of "introducing a novelty" into a "Faith sealed in completeness", as it seems clear to me that the Church, throughout most of the past 2000 years, paid very little attention to the issue of unbaptized infants. Therefore, even raising this issue, introducing special Church services for unbaptized infants and similar acts could be interpreted as a "novelty" in the sense of the 1848 Encyclical, which, as a consequence, has the anathema quoted above. Just to add an argument to the claim that the Church paid very little attention to the fate of unbaptized babies: I came across a quote from St Gregory the Dialogian who clearly states that unbaptized infants will go to hell, and clearly he had no problem with that... Unfortunately, I can't find the quote now. For this topic, I am not primarily interested in this particular issue of unbaptized babies, as there are two threads on the forum already discussing it (I, personally, believe that they are out of the Kingdom of God, but not subject to torture, either, while being "officially" in hell). The point of my post is the issue of "novelty" and anathema threatened by the patriarchs in the 1848 Encyclical. How much "freedom of thought" do we have? And if the example I quoted above with the bishops from OCA does not represent a "novelty", than what would be an unacceptable "novelty"? Bare in mind that the patriarchs mentioned baptism by sprinkling instead of full immersion as one of the blasphemous novelties.
Edited by Nemanja, 02 June 2014 - 01:57 PM.