SALVATION BY ADMINISTRATION - Metropolitan Ephraim
SALVATION BY ADMINISTRATIONThe representative of the Ecumenical Patriarch addressed Saint Maximus: Will you enter into communion with our Church, or not?""No, I will not enter into communion," replied the Saint."Why?" inquired the representative. "Because she has rejected the rulings of the Orthodox councils," replied the Saint. "But if our Church has renounced the councils," objected the representative, "then how is it that they are inscribed in the diptychs?""What profit is there in naming them and recalling them, if the dogmas of these councils are rejected?" was the Saint's reply."Can you demonstrate clearly," asked the representative, "that the present Church at Constantinople has rejected the dogmas of the former councils?""If you refrain from anger, and command me to do so, I can demonstrate it easily," replied the Saint.(From the Life of St. Maximus the Confessor1Somehow, another new doctrine has crept into the midst of World "Orthodoxy". Perhaps this novel teaching is papal in origin? The name of this teaching is "salvation by administration." Basically, this innovation teaches the following: You have to be in communion with an ancient Orthodox see in order to be an Orthodox Christian. Is this another symptom of the "Latin Captivity"?This novel dogma has many problems.It is not enough to be in communion with a "historical see," because even "historical sees" have had their un-Orthodox periods at some point in the past. Rome, too, was a "historical see -- but this is of no avail to her today. Constantinople also has had her staunchly heretical days. For three and a half years, Nestorios ruled as Patriarch of Constantinople until he was condemned for heresy and deposed by the Third Ecumenical Council in 431. In the seventh century, during the Monothelite controversy, the Ecumenical Patriarchate was in the camp of the non-Orthodox for almost eighty years. Finally, in 681, the Sixth Ecumenical Council was convened and condemned four Patriarchs of Constantinople, one Patriarch of Alexandria, two Patriarchs of Antioch, a multitude of other Metropolitans, Archbishops, Bishops, clergymen, and also one Pope of Rome for heresy. Again, in the eighth century, during the Iconoclast controversy, for the better part of the century, Constantinople was again in heresy and not an Orthodox church.When the Monothelite heresy was raging, St. Maximus the Confessor was Orthodoxy's foremost champion. Here is what this Saint said then about the Ecumenical Patriarchate:When I see the Church of Constantinople as she was formerly, then I will enter into communion with her without any exhortation on the part of men. But when there are heretical temptations in her, and while heretics are her bishops, no word or deed will convince me ever to enter into communion with her.2In a parallel case today, Orthodox Christians are often reproached for isolating themselves from "official" Patriarchates, from World "Orthodoxy" (such as the Ecumenical Patriarchate), as if not being in communion with them were itself a sign that these Orthodox Christians are not canonical or Orthodox.There is one major problem with this argument: nowhere do the Holy Fathers or holy canons teach that one has to be in communion with any of the aforementioned Patriarchates in order for one to be Orthodox! "Orthodox" ecumenists cannot quote any canons or Church Fathers to support this "extremely important" point simply because there are no such canons or teachings! The Orthodox Church knows of no such teaching as this neo-papal "salvation by administration."But let us permit St. Maximus the Confessor to provide us with truly "canonical Orthodox" guidelines for responding to these reproaches which our Orthodox Christians sometimes hear.The Saint was asked by his inquisitors (who belonged to the Ecumenical Patriarchate):To which church do you belong? To that of Byzantium, Rome, Antioch, Alexandria, or Jerusalem? For all of these churches, together with the provinces in subjection to them, are in unity. Therefore, if you also belong to the Catholic Church, enter into communion with us at once. Yesterday, indeed, two delegates arrived from Rome, and tomorrow, the Lord's day, they will communicate the Holy Mysteries with the Ecumenical Patriarch.3To this, St. Maximus replied as follows to the representatives of the Ecumenical Patriarchate (and to all those who present themselves as the spokesmen of "official" Orthodoxy today):Even if the whole universe holds communion with the Patriarch, I will not communicate with him. For I know from the writings of the holy Apostle Paul: the Holy Spirit declares that even the angels would be anathema if they should begin to preach another Gospel, introducing some new teaching.The "new teaching" of St. Maximus's day was Monothelitism. The "new teaching" of our own times is Ecumenism. Today's Ecumenism -- and its ecclesiological and theological, prop, the Branch Theory -- is what lures the bishops and clergy of on World "Orthodoxy" to have joint-prayer services with and to give communion to non-Orthodox -- which is, of course, not Orthodox.Unfortunately for the proponents of Ecumenism, however, the errors of the Roman Catholics, Protestants, and Monophysites have been condemned repeatedly in the decisions of the seven Ecumenical Councils, in the Synodicon of Orthodoxy Sunday, and in many other subsequent local Orthodox councils. Hence, no matter how much the ecumenically-minded Orthodox try to re-interpret Orthodox ecclesiology, the fact remains that they are in communion and pray with clergymen who are adherents of repeatedly condemned heresies. One new calendar clergyman writes:Now you see why a non-Orthodox may not receive Holy Communion in the Orthodox Church. It is a question of integrity. The integrity of faith, church order, lifestyle and sacramental life.4This is precisely what Orthodox Christians have been saying for many years to those Orthodox who are of an ecumenical turn of mind: It is a question of integrity. Hence, when ecumenistic "Orthodox" bishops and clergy have joint-prayer services with the heterodox and give them communion, they are being neither "canonical" nor "Orthodox." Under such circumstances, surely, they lose their "integrity of faith, church order, lifestyle and sacramental life."In this, our new calendar clergyman is absolutely correct.
Holy Transfiguration MonasteryNote: This article was adapted from the article, "A Question of Integrity" in the Orthodox Christian Witness, December 9/22, 1985.