Jump to content


Photo
- - - - -

Confused: Eastern Patriarchs' Encyclical of 1848, blasphemy and "novelty" in Faith


  • Please log in to reply
16 replies to this topic

#1 Nemanja

Nemanja

    Junior Poster

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 26 posts

Posted 02 June 2014 - 01:55 PM

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,
emphasis mine)


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
which includes:

 

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.


#2 Nemanja

Nemanja

    Junior Poster

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 26 posts

Posted 02 June 2014 - 01:57 PM

I had a probelm with the title, thought I couldn't change it, posted about it, now can't delete this second post.


Edited by Nemanja, 02 June 2014 - 01:59 PM.


#3 Phoebe K.

Phoebe K.

    Regular Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 278 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member

Posted 02 June 2014 - 04:58 PM

hi,

 

As far as I understand the Church dose not speak of what happens to those who die without baptism of any age, they are left to the mercy of God.  The only thing the Church dose say is if the family is orthodox they should get the child baptized as soon as possible if it is sickly.

 

The counsel which is in the progress of being planed (for the last few decades) as with the previous is to deal with confirming what the Church believes neither adds to nor removes from the faith which is.  Mostly the next will be church Order as far as I know, prodomidenlty calendar and jurisdiction issues.  Otherwise it will probably be reiterating the existing teaching which the Church has but which people as forgotten.  The latter bishops have begun to do anyway in many counterys.

 

Phoebe



#4 Rdr Andreas

Rdr Andreas

    Very Frequent Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 5,028 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member

Posted 02 June 2014 - 06:36 PM

To re-inforce what Phoebe says, our faith is Apostolic as we say in the Creed. The Orthodox faith was fixed by the Apostles and cannot be added to or subtracted from. Praxis is different and where the Church has no dogmatic teaching, there may be variations in praxis.



#5 Nemanja

Nemanja

    Junior Poster

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 26 posts

Posted 03 June 2014 - 08:55 AM

Hi,


I think you misunderstood my question, as I know these things which you told me. My question is more subtle. I am not wondering specifically about the upcoming council in 2016, I am asking a theoretical question. Also, I am using the example of unbaptized infants just as an example for my question.

So, if the Church determined long ago that baptism is to be done by full immersion,
and if, in the west, baptism by sprinkling was introduced,
and if Orthodox patriarchs condemned that way of baptism as unacceptable novelty;

I am asking if similar conclusion could be made in case of those unbaptized infants,
in the past, the Church didn't perform any funeral rite or other service for them,
now, at least one jurisdiction (OCA) is introducing some prayers to be read for them, and in some other jurisdictions this issue is being raised,

would the abovementioned Orthodox patriarchs of 1848 condemn this as well, as an unacceptable novelty, which represents a blasphemy against the Holy Spirit?

Whether your answer to this question is yes or no, I would like some explanation, if there is one to be found... why "yes", or why "no"?
So, I am trying to understand, in principle, what kind of change in life of the Church would be unacceptable. Maybe I am doing some hairsplitting here, but general answers such as "Faith is always the same, praxis can change" won't cut it, because I have been able to quote that statement for the past 20 years, but it isn't very helpful when you encounter an issue which could be treated both as a matter of faith and a matter of praxis. For example, the way of baptism (by immersion or by sprinkling) was, obviously, treated as a matter of faith and not just of praxis, because if it was just the latter, it could change (at least according to the principle that praxis could change, but according to the Encyclical of 1848 it would seem that a change in praxis is harldy less problematic than a change in faith itself).

Edited by Nemanja, 03 June 2014 - 08:56 AM.


#6 Kosta

Kosta

    Very Frequent Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,517 posts

Posted 05 June 2014 - 08:50 PM

Novelties and innovations are simply false teachings. The encyclical speaks the Orthodox truth, that the Faith was once delivered by the apostles in its completeness and totality. 

 

What the encyclical rejects is the roman catholic innovation of doctrinal development. Doctrine does not evolve or change. Councils and prayers and hymns and dogmas and creeds only clarify the right belief that always existed. All traditions remain as pious beliefs within the conscience of the church,  but only when a heresy arises will a dogmatic definition and clarification be needed. It is to zero in on the cancer cut it out and decree a definition with clarity on what the Tradition always was.

 

If there never was an Arian controversy there would never have been a Creed, If there never was a Nestorian heresy the word Theotokos would still not be in use in the liturgy, etc. All these things clarified and made clear the Faith already held, it did not change it. 

 

If anyone claims that sprinkling is not a matter of eikonomia but the same standard practise as triple immersion, then that indeed is an innovation.



#7 Nemanja

Nemanja

    Junior Poster

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 26 posts

Posted 06 June 2014 - 06:49 PM

Novelties and innovations are simply false teachings. The encyclical speaks the Orthodox truth, that the Faith was once delivered by the apostles in its completeness and totality. 

 

What the encyclical rejects is the roman catholic innovation of doctrinal development. Doctrine does not evolve or change.

 

I know that this is the Orthodox teaching, but I have trouble understanding it. I've heard it is said that we don't know more about Faith than the apostles knew at the time of Pentecost (this is what you're saying, right). I have trouble reconciling that fact with the following:
-    the Church was surprised that the non-Jews were invited by God into the Church, as it was described in book of Acts
-    some apostles believed that Gentiles should be circumcised, Apostol Peter hesitated to eat with Christians who came from Gentiles, etc.
Today, we KNOW that it is perfectly normal that all people can join the Church (in fact, it would be an evil to think otherwise) and we KNOW that there’s no need to circumcise people. So, we could say that we know something about Christian life and Faith practice which even Saint Apostol Peter didn’t know after Pentecost. Similar examples can be seen throughout history, i.e. saints like Gregory of Nyssa who believed in apocatastasis, etc. Theologians say that even a saint could have been mistaken about a certain issue before Church as a whole resolved a particular issue at one council or another. But how can it be said that we don’t know more than those saints, even apostles who erred about an issue?
 



#8 Phoebe K.

Phoebe K.

    Regular Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 278 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member

Posted 06 June 2014 - 08:15 PM

I think the thing here is to distinguish between the Church as the Body of Christ who cannot be wrong and the individual members of the Church who can get it wrong.  The important things is that the church as a whole inspired by the Holy Spirit cannot be wrong, which is why the Church in her wisdom gathers in counsels to decern the truth on matters of faith, as has happened since the Apostles as rerecord in the book of Acts.  

 

We do not know more in the knowledge of the heart which is the true knowledge, we may have more head knowledge and a structure of rules to keep us on track but that is not the same as Noetic knowledge of God.  We are on the path to Theoses and at different stages on this path.  Many on the Desert fathers speak about this as a reduction in the spiritual quality of believers as the generations pass, this was specifically about monks but can be applied to the Church as a whole.  

 

One of the principle things in the Church now is that we see knowledge in the same way as the world as descret facts rather than what the Gospels refer to which is an inanimate relationship.  We may well know more facts but we are so court up in our heads that we miss the key aspect of relationship with God which is the principle aspect of our faith.  If rules had be enough Christ would not have been incarnate, but rather it is relationship which he came to restore for no about of rules or head knowledge could do that.

 

Phoebe



#9 Kosta

Kosta

    Very Frequent Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,517 posts

Posted 07 June 2014 - 07:55 AM

I know that this is the Orthodox teaching, but I have trouble understanding it. I've heard it is said that we don't know more about Faith than the apostles knew at the time of Pentecost (this is what you're saying, right). I have trouble reconciling that fact with the following:
-    the Church was surprised that the non-Jews were invited by God into the Church, as it was described in book of Acts
-    some apostles believed that Gentiles should be circumcised, Apostol Peter hesitated to eat with Christians who came from Gentiles, etc.
Today, we KNOW that it is perfectly normal that all people can join the Church (in fact, it would be an evil to think otherwise) and we KNOW that there’s no need to circumcise people. So, we could say that we know something about Christian life and Faith practice which even Saint Apostol Peter didn’t know after Pentecost. Similar examples can be seen throughout history, i.e. saints like Gregory of Nyssa who believed in apocatastasis, etc. Theologians say that even a saint could have been mistaken about a certain issue before Church as a whole resolved a particular issue at one council or another. But how can it be said that we don’t know more than those saints, even apostles who erred about an issue?
 

 

 

No Nemjan, those issues were resolved at the council of Jerusalem in Acts 15. We Know that there is no need for circumscision because those same apostles told us so after consultation at that council, but even if they didnt the Church would have reached the same conclusions centuries later. Some early christians thought that everyone should follow the mosaic law while others did not. So the church held a council where the apostle James as first bishop of Jerusalem declared that it is good to the Holy Spirit and to them (elders and apostles=synod) that no excessive burdens be placed on gentile believers.  If you read Acts 15.5-30, they enacted nothing novel, it makes clear that this controversy arose amongst the pharisees who compromised a powerful bloc in the early church (verse 5). The horos written makes clear that it was never commanded by the elders or apostles (verse 24). As I said even if this never took place, the same conclusions would have been reached in a different century and time. Because it did happen and thats why this heresy became known as judaising.

 

Even if Arius never existed and no creed ever formulated (because their never would have existed the heresy to have the need to create one), the dogma of the Trinity would still be the same. If the iconoclasts existed in the third century, they would still have been heretics.

 

On the other hand Doctrinal development does not teach this. It says a completely unknown christological or ecclesiological  teaching can sprout and even truly be a heresy in its underdeveloped infancy but becomes dogma centuries later when it comes into full bloom.  In doctrinal development an equal set of circumstances may not lead to a similiar christological position depending on time and space.


Edited by Kosta, 07 June 2014 - 08:04 AM.


#10 Nemanja

Nemanja

    Junior Poster

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 26 posts

Posted 07 June 2014 - 03:44 PM

Thank you Phoebe and Kosta.

Kosta, I would like to ask you to clarify something more for me.

The Encyclical of 1848 says that the Faith has been "sealed in completeness", and the same claim can be found in other Orthodox resources, in Protopresbyter Michael Pomazansky's "Orthodox dogmatic theology" where it is said that:

 

The history of the Church shows that the quantity of dogmas, in
the narrow sense of the word, has gradually increased. It is not that
dogmas have developed, but that the sphere of dogma in the history of
the Church has broadened until it has come to its own limit, given by
Sacred Scripture.

 

Basically, if I am understanding correctly, everything that could have been clarified about Faith has already been clarified. Things which haven't been defined precisely, so far, will never be defined precisely. So, Kosta, the examples of heresies which have "forced" the Church to come up with new dogmatic definitions are things of the past now (if I am understanding the Epistle and Pomazansky correctly, and if their position is the official view of the Church). No such thing will happen ever again, as the Faith "has been sealed in completeness", correct?

If this is so, I would like a comment on the "issue of raising an issue" (if I can use that term) of unbaptized infants. If the Faith has been sealed, than even raising an issue to be resolved is, in fact, introducing a novelty in the teaching of the Church, correct?

So, my previous question remains:

in the past, the Church didn't perform any funeral rite or other service for unbaptized infants, now, at least one jurisdiction (OCA) is introducing some prayers to be read for them, and in some other jurisdictions this issue is being raised, would the abovementioned Orthodox patriarchs of 1848 condemn this as well, as an unacceptable novelty, which represents a blasphemy against the Holy Spirit?


Edited by Nemanja, 07 June 2014 - 03:47 PM.


#11 Phoebe K.

Phoebe K.

    Regular Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 278 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member

Posted 07 June 2014 - 04:36 PM

The issue with unbaptized infants I would say is a gray area, once a child is named technically they are a caticumin and the Church has always buried caticumins, not in the same way as believers but with a simple service.  So it is not a novelty but an economy for those who were in the process of entering the Church, it is an allowance when it has not been possible to baptize (which considering that it can be done by anyone in case of ergant need should not happen).

 

As I understand it the dogmas have not changed but rather we have come to understand them better.  I will try and remember to ask my Priest when we next have a catichisam session at church.

 

Phoebe



#12 Nemanja

Nemanja

    Junior Poster

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 26 posts

Posted 07 June 2014 - 07:10 PM

While I would, indeed, like to know about the issue of infants, it is of secondary importance in this story. The most important question which is, still, unclear to me, is the "issue of raising an issue" in a Faith which "has been sealed in completeness", what qualifies as novelty and what doesn't. And the issue of infants could serve as a practical example to explain the underlying issue, like 2+2=4 is a practical application of a+a=2a.



#13 Rdr Andreas

Rdr Andreas

    Very Frequent Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 5,028 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member

Posted 07 June 2014 - 07:34 PM

Perhaps a comparison will help. The Roman Church developed the dogma of the immaculate conception of the Mother of God. Notwithstanding opposition to this notion by the RC saint Bernard of Clairvaux, the RCC adopted it during the 15th century and proclaimed it as dogma in 1854. That was an innovation. Of course, we Orthodox reject it.



#14 Phoebe K.

Phoebe K.

    Regular Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 278 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member

Posted 08 June 2014 - 07:46 PM

I asked my Priest today during the Catichisam session today after the services.  He said that the Church formulates doctrine in response to specific challenges.  He also said that doctrine for us is a statement of what the church views as acceptable beliefs and what is beyond the Church.  Father said that as doctrin was defined in response to hysterics as they arose by articulating the tradition of the church as it is maintained in the practice of the church since the earlyist days, there is much that the Church has not defined as it has not been necessary.  Father said that doctrine forms a fence around the Church defining what are acceptable beliefs and what are those beliefs beyond the realm of the Church.

 

As I understand form what my Priest said novelty are essentially things which are not part of the living tradition of the church which are introduced by part of the church or a challenge against an established tradition of the Church.  The cannon of the church is a guide which can be flexed in pastoral circumstances when needed but the Ideal encapsulated in tradition is always the reference point.  When practice becomes detached from tradition or beliefs become detached from practice and tradition we run the danger of hericys.  It is the balance of practice and tradition keeps the beliefs in the right place.

 

Whenever farce beliefs have shaken the Church or the ainchant practices of the church have been challenge a champion for the Church has arisen to defended the church, the person is always a theologian in the true sense in being one who prays truly as well as knowing the tradition in a deep way.   This has always happened and of a truly novel hericy were to arise again the Holy Spirit would inspire the person we need, however mostly we are dealing with repacaging of old hericys which we can deal with in the same way as the first time they emerged.  Most of the issues we have in the Church currently that I know of are issues with poor practice and drifting away from the Tradition rather than hericy.

 

Phoebe



#15 Bryan J. Maloney

Bryan J. Maloney

    Very Frequent Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 364 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member

Posted 16 June 2014 - 02:54 PM

If it is "blaspheming the Holy Spirit" to hold memorial for an unbaptized infant, then Orthodoxy at large (at least in the USA) has already commited it, given that the victims of abortion are not baptized. To return to the original topic, this matter appears to be a question of what constitutes "the Faith" that was "sealed in completeness". The Fathers do not speak of epigenomics. Does that mean that "the Faith" requires the Orthodox to avoid medical treatments based on epigenomics? Perhaps questions are being asked too microscopically about "the Faith".



#16 Phoebe K.

Phoebe K.

    Regular Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 278 posts
  • Orthodox Christian Member

Posted 16 June 2014 - 04:03 PM

Two things I would say in response,

 

Firstly the only blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is to refuse to accept forgiveness.  Infants born into orthodox family's are counted as caticumins and it is permissible to hold memorials for them, though they are not the same as for the faithful, though in this situation the question has to be asked why a member of the family did not perform an eamergany baptism if the Child was dieing and a Priest could not be found.  Abortion is another subject intierly, and the church from the earliest days has condemned it (i mean the earlyist days of the Church as even in history there were ways of triggering a miscarriage, or the child was abandoned soon after birth).  I have heard of the aborted infants being counted amouncst the holy inocents killed by Herod  but I think this may be something which has crept in form the west, my understanding is that the Church will not say what has happened to the child (just as in the cases of spontanias miscarriages) but that the Mother dose have to answer for her sin in taking a life.

 

As for medical Practices the Church has always supported medical since so long as it affirms life, for much of History in Orthodox conterys it was the Church which ran the hospitals and poinerd medican.

 

As I understand the Faith what is needed for our salvation is shown forth in the Creed and the Liturgys of the Church, the Counsles suport and explain this in far grater detale than is contained in the Liturgy (by this I mean the Liturgies which have been practiced by the Church down the centerys, and additions such as petitions to newly revived saints which fall within Tradition).  we can become over scrupulous with minute detales which do not atuly matter and lose sight of the perpos of faith which is to enter into a living relationship with our Lord God and savior Christ Jesus.



#17 Kosta

Kosta

    Very Frequent Poster

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,517 posts

Posted 17 June 2014 - 03:25 AM

If it is "blaspheming the Holy Spirit" to hold memorial for an unbaptized infant, then Orthodoxy at large (at least in the USA) has already commited it, given that the victims of abortion are not baptized. To return to the original topic, this matter appears to be a question of what constitutes "the Faith" that was "sealed in completeness". The Fathers do not speak of epigenomics. Does that mean that "the Faith" requires the Orthodox to avoid medical treatments based on epigenomics? Perhaps questions are being asked too microscopically about "the Faith".


Yes I agree. Also on a side note victims of abortion cannot be classified as unbaptised as they never even had the oppurtunity to be born into this fallen works. To be born again presupposes being born a first time.




0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users