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A Response to certain Name-Worshippers by Bishop Photios of Marathon

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  • Fr. Panagiotes Carras
    A Response to certain Name-Worshippers by Bishop Photios of Marathon A short while ago two responses to a certain article which was published in «Φωνή
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 1, 2012
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      A Response to certain Name-Worshippers
      by Bishop Photios of Marathon

      A short while ago two responses to a certain article which was published in «Φωνή τῆς Ὀρθοδοξίας»
      in 2005 appeared on a Russian website. This article had recently been translated into English and has
      gotten the attention of Name-Worshippers in Russia, who are unknown to me and they consider
      themselves affected by this article. They have reached the point of characterizing themselves as
      followers of the teaching of St Gregory Palamas (misinterpreting the things written by him) and
      whosoever opposes the delusion of Name-Worshipping, they consider as Barlaamites. They resemble
      the Monophysites who on the one hand, called themselves followers of the teaching of St. Cyril of
      Alexandria and on the other hand called the Orthodox, Nestorians. We synoptically answer the main
      points of the Name-Worshippers in question as follows:
      1. Our article is based on Greek sources and not Russian ones. We only know the details of the Russian
      Synod’s condemnation of Name-Worshipping from indirect literary sources, and I do not endeavor to
      comment on the documents of the Russian condemnation of this heresy. Personally, I doubt the
      accuracy of the excerpts brought forward by the two authors. But, I consider the condemnation of the
      Ecumenical Patriarchate (based on the advice of the Theological School of Halki) to be more
      important, because Athonian monks first proclaimed the heresy of Name-Worshipping. In addition, it
      was an Athonian monk who first censured this heresy, and it was first on Mount Athos that conflicts
      first broke out until the Name-Worshippers were transferred to Russian territory. Therefore, the Synod
      of the Ecumenical Patriarchate was responsible to make a decision concerning this issue. We are not
      going to investigate whether the decision of the Russian Synod was dictated by the Tsar or if the Tsar
      later changed his mind concerning the treatment of Name-Worshippers. We do not consider this
      important. Perhaps, the Name-Worshippers were accepted into communion under certain conditions,
      after declaring their Orthodoxy. However, the medal which Tsar Nicholas awarded to the Elder
      Kallinikos the Hesychast, who harshly criticized the heresy, is preserved on Mount Athos to this day. It
      is also an historical fact that the Tsar sent a ship to Mount Athos to remove all the Name-Worshipping
      monks. Therefore, we have grounds to doubt the accuracy of the Name-Worshipper’s claims
      concerning the stance of the Martyr-Tsar Nicholas.
      2. Certainly, the concept of Divinity refers both to God’s essence and energy. This is not related to the
      heresy of Name-Worshipping. St. Gregory Palamas did not express Name-Worshipping beliefs. These
      are novel ideas and arbitrary assertions. St. Gregory Palamas, in his epistle to John Gabras (not John
      “of Gabras” as those Name-Worshipping writers say, who don’t know what they are reading and are
      ignorant of Greek) said that we cannot separate the agent from the energy and that the energy is not
      self-subsistent, but whenever we mention the energy, we include the agent. God is the agent in the
      Divine energies. But, we do not expect those who cannot even read correctly the title of a particular
      work to understand its contents.
      3. We reverence icons because of the persons depicted, and not because of the inscriptions. The
      inscriptions are necessary in order to specify the persons depicted. However, the reverence is offered to
      the persons depicted.
      4. If the Name-Worshippers’ claim were true that “the Divine grace and energy is encrypted in the
      sounds of the Divine name,” then we could perform sacraments by playing back pre-recorded prayers
      recited by the priest! The sacraments are not performed by the sounds of divine invocations, but by the
      Persons to Whom the prayers are offered: the Father, Son and Holy Spirit Who have a common energy
      and essence.
      5. We mention in the article in question that the heresy of Name-Worshipping has been revived chiefly
      among the Slavic Orthodox. This is in no way pejorative towards the Slavic Orthodox (as implied by
      the authors), but it is a description of the reality that it is chiefly among them that such debates and
      theological conflicts take place. Greek-speaking Orthodoxy has remained (until now) largely
      indifferent on the subject. After the heresy’s condemnation by the Ecumenical Patriarchate in 1913, the
      issue was considered resolved, and, it is now only academicians, scholars and Church historians who
      are interested in this topic. For this reason very few articles and books about Name-Worshipping are to
      be found in the Greek language. Therefore, we do not consider it to be an open case.
      6. The authors characterize the issue as a “foreign theological issue”. In a way they are right, Name-
      Worshipping is foreign to Orthodoxy, so let those who are outside the body of the Church rage. The
      point of our article was historical and informative, written on the occasion of the “ordination” at that
      time (circa 2005) of a certain Name-Worshipper from Russia by deposed, former clergymen of our
      7. The authors, being uninvolved in Greek education and obviously having a distaste for the
      hesychastic tradition, consider that they share understand the teaching of St. Gregory Palamas better
      than the Righteous Elder Kallinikos the Hesychast who harshly criticized the heresy and provoked the
      synodal condemnation of the Name-Worshippers. Elder Kallinikos the Hesychast lived an eremetic life
      remaining closed in his cell for 40 years, struggling in strict fasting and prayer. He was deemed worthy
      to behold the uncreated light, (and those monks in obedience to him often saw his face shine. He
      reposed on August 6th 1930 as a zealot monk (from the beginning condemning the calendar
      innovation). We repeat his accurate axiom concerning the Name-Worshippers:
      “they left the head and worship the hat”
      If the Name-Worshipping apologists smugly think that their voices have more validity than Kallinikos
      the Hesychast of Blessed memory. We do not believe that they do, rather, we align ourselves with the
      opinion of this Holy Elder. Finally therefore, let us consider the words of St. Gregory of Nyssa:
      “Let us cease desiring to be teachers of teachers. Let us loath the war of words which destroys its
      hearers. Let us believe as our Fathers bequeathed [to us], for we are not more precise than the
      teachers.” (PG 46, 1112A)

      In Athens January 26, 2012
      Bishop Photios of Marathon

      Go to Orthodoxyinfo.org for a wide variety of articles on the Faith
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