01 May 2010

'The Lives of the Saints Are Applied Dogmatics'—On the Glorification of St Justin

By now, most English-speaking Orthodox should be aware that the Holy Synod of the Serbian Orthodox Church has glorified among the Saints our Holy Father Justin (Popović) of Čelje (1894-1979), the renowned Serbian traditionalist theologian and opponent of ecumenism. As the Serbian Church has decreed that St Justin is to be commemorated 1 June on the Church’s calendar, which will fall on 14 June according to the civil calendar, I will save my usual hagiographic post until that day. But on the occasion of his glorification, I wanted to take the opportunity to say just a couple of things.

First of all, in light of the ongoing attempts by Orthodox ecumenists to marginalise and caricature those who would call them to a more faithful witness (see for instance the Encyclical of the Patriarch of Constantinople on the Sunday of Orthodoxy this year, posted here by Andreas), it is helpful to recall that St Justin was decidedly among the latter. Indeed, the statements that follow may appear very harsh to some, but we can be certain that St Justin wishes only to ‘speak the truth in love’. In his essay, ‘Humanistic Ecumenism’, St Justin writes:

Ecumenism is the common name for the pseudo-Christianity of the pseudo-Churches of Western Europe. . . . All of pseudo-Christianity, all of those pseudo-Churches, are nothing more than one heresy after another. . . . [1]

Without repentance and admittance into the True [Orthodox] Church of Christ, it is unthinkable and unnatural to speak about unification of ‘the Churches’, about the dialogue of love, about intercommunion . . . .

The contemporary ‘dialogue of love’, which takes the form of naked sentimentality, is in reality a denial of the salutary sanctification of the Spirit and belief in the truth (2 Thess. 2:13), that is to say the unique salutary ‘love of the truth’ (2 Thess. 2:10). The essence of love is truth; love lives and thrives as truth. . . . [2]

The heretico-humanistic separation of and detachment of love from truth is a sign of the lack of theanthropic faith and of the loss of theanthropic balance and common sense. At any rate, this was never, nor is it the way of the Fathers. The Orthodox are rooted and founded only ‘with all of the saints’ in truth, and have proclaimed in love this theanthropic life-saving love for the world and for all of the creation of God from the time of the Apostles until today. . . . [3]

I do not think I need to go on. It is obvious that the teachings of St Justin are diametrically opposed to those of the Orthodox ecumenists, led by the Patriarch of Constantinople himself. What the glorification among the Saints of our holy Father Justin emphasises is only something the Orthodox defenders of Tradition have known all along—we are supported by the witness of the Saints and Holy Fathers. Those holy men who have struggled in asceticism, the Elders, Confessors, and Martyrs of the Church, it is they that have denounced the Orthodox participation in the ecumenical movement. Its supporters, on the contrary, may have good people, ‘decent fellows’ among them, but they do not have Saints.

St Justin has emphasised in a number of his essays the priority of lived Orthodoxy, of the three-fold path of purification, illumination, and deification, over abstract, academic theology. I will quote a few of these at some length. In ‘The Inward Mission of Our Church’, St Justin writes:

The Ascetics are Orthodoxy’s only missionaries. Asceticism is her only missionary school. Orthodoxy is ascetic effort and it is life, and it is thus by effort and by life that her mission is broadcast and brought about. The development of asceticism . . . this ought to be the inward mission of our Church amongst our people. The parish must become an ascetic focal point. But this can only be achieved by an ascetic priest. Prayer and fasting, the Church-oriented life of the parish, a life of liturgy: Orthodoxy holds these as the primary ways of effecting rebirth in its people. The parish, the parish community must be regenerated and in Christ-like and brotherly love must minister humbly to Him and to all people, meek and lowly and in a spirit of sacrifice and self-denial. And such service must be imbued and nourished by prayer and the liturgical life. This much is groundwork and indispensable. But to this end there exists one prerequisite: that our Bishops, priests, and our monks become ascetics themselves. That this might be, then: Let us beseech the Lord. [4]

In his ‘Introduction to the Lives of the Saints’, St Justin emphasises the theological nature of the Saints’ incarnate witness:

Saints are people who live on earth by holy, eternal Divine truths. That is why the Lives of the Saints are actually applied dogmatics, for in them all the holy eternal dogmatic truths are experienced in all their life-creating and creative energies. In the Lives of the Saints it is most evidently shown that dogmas are not only ontological truths in themselves and for themselves, but that each one of them is a wellspring of eternal life and a source of holy spirituality. [5]

In addition, the Lives of the Saints contain in themselves Orthodox ethics in their entirety, Orthodox morality, in the full radiance of its Divine-human sublimity and its immortal life-creating nature. . . . For this reason the Lives of the Saints are indeed experiential ethics, applied ethics. Actually, the Lives of the Saints prove irrefutably that Ethics is nothing other than Applied Dogmatics. . . . [6]

And what else are the Lives of the Saints but the only Orthodox pedagogical science. For in them in a countless number of evangelical ways, which are completely worked out by the experience of many centuries, it is shown how the perfect human personality, the completely ideal man, is built up and fashioned, and how with the help of the holy mysteries and the holy virtues in the Church of Christ he grows into ‘a perfect man, according to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ’ (cf. Eph. 4:13). . . .

If you wish, the Lives of the Saints are a sort of Orthodox Encyclopedia. In them can be found everything which is necessary for the soul which hungers and thirsts for eternal righteousness and eternal truth in this life, and which hungers and thirsts for Divine immortality and eternal life. . . . [7]

Finally, in his essay on ‘The Theory of Knowledge of St Isaac the Syrian’, St Justin notes something that should be fundamental to any Orthodox attempt to engage in learning and rational thought, the necessity of purification for acquiring right knowledge:

The character of a man’s knowledge depends on the disposition, nature, and condition of his organs of understanding. At all levels knowledge depends intrinsically on the means of understanding. Man does not make truth; the act of understanding is an act of making one’s own a truth which is already objectively given. This integration has an organic character, not unlike that of the grafting of a slip onto a vine, or its life in and from the vine (cf. John 15:1-6). Understanding is, then, a fruit on the tree of the human person. As is the tree, so are its fruits, as are the organs of understanding, so is the knowledge they engender.

Analyzing man by his empirical gifts, St Isaac the Syrian finds that his organs of understanding are sick. ‘Evil is a sickness of the soul’, whence all the organs of understanding are made sick (Letter 4). . . . [8]

A feeble soul, a diseased intellect, a weakened heart and will—in brief, sick organs of understanding—can only engender, fashion, and produce sick thoughts, sick feelings, sick desires, and sick knowledge. [9]

The healing and purification of the organs of human knowledge are brought about by the common action of God and man—by the grace of God and the will of man. On the long path of purification and healing, knowledge itself becomes purer and healthier. At every stage of its development, knowledge depends on the ontological structure and the ethical state of its organs. Purified and healed by a man’s striving in the evangelical virtues, the organs of knowledge themselves acquire holiness and purity. A pure heart and pure mind engender pure knowledge. The organs of knowledge, when purified, healed, and turned towards God, give a pure and healthy knowledge of God and, when turned towards creation, give a pure and healthy knowledge of creation. [10]

Although it may not be immediately clear, these passages are directly relevant to what I have said above regarding St Justin’s witness against ecumenism. While the Orthodox ecumenists might pay lip service to what St Justin is saying in these various passages, they do not seem to realise the logical conclusion of his teachings. If Ascetics and Saints are our only teachers, if a soul must have undergone ascetic purification in order to correctly understand truth and reality, then it is precisely men like St Justin himself to whom we must listen when our path becomes uncertain, not worldly hierarchs and clever academic theologians.

The essays I have just quoted have been such an enormous influence on me, shaping my thinking and my studies in so many incalculable ways, that it is a great joy to me to have lived to see the glorification of Father Justin among the Saints. May the work of this divinely inspired and holy man continue to influence and guide the faithful.

[1] St Justin (Popović), Orthodox Faith & Life in Christ, ed. Fr Asterios Gerostergios (Belmont, MA: Institute for Byzantine & Modern Greek Studies, 1994), p. 169.

[2] Ibid., p. 170.

[3] Ibid., p. 172.

[4] Ibid., pp. 30-1.

[5] Ibid., p. 44.

[6] Ibid., p. 46.

[7] Ibid., p. 47.

[8] Ibid., pp. 120-1.

[9] Ibid., p. 122.

[10] Ibid., pp. 139-40.


David Robles said...

Thank you Aaron! There must be a lot of services and preparations going on for the glorification of St Justin tomorrow. Do you know anything about the details? I assume that the glorification liturgy itself will happen at the Cathedral of St Sava in Belgrade.

Sophocles said...


What can I add but Amen, Amen, and Amen.

I have a half finished post on "Orthodox Apologetics" by I.M. Andreyev that I have shelved for a couple of months. In that post, which God willing, I will complete soon, I have the very paragraph you cite in your footnote 4.

I have another idea I have been toying with which I think would bear the title of "The Hermeneutic of the Anti-Christ" or "The Missing Hermeneutic of the Anti-Christ".

I think it safe to say that in the thinking of St. Justin as well as all the Saints, even if it is not in overt statements on this figure himself, yet, this coming figure(Anti-Chirst) plays a "central role" in the formulation of their asceticism/theology.

And as St. Justin reminds us, the two are inextricable linked and "fused" together.

Missing in academia, in the main, is a healthy and robust awareness of the Hermeneutic of Anti-Christ which I suppose is one reason that the thinking held by so many ecumenist oriented Orthodox goes off the rails into areas that "Traditionalists" find objection with(including St. Justin).

This hermeneutic puts a sort of pressure upon the present which lends it an urgency which grants our asceticism a life which otherwise it cannot have.

A soft, comfortable Orthodoxy, at home in the world, is not an Orthodoxy that would ever be recognized as Orthodoxy by our Saints.

While the Orthodox ecumenists might pay lip service to what St Justin is saying in these various passages, they do not seem to realise the logical conclusion of his teachings

Saints like St. Justin are okay as long they are not engaged on their own terms, or rather, by the lived experience of the Church in whose atmosphere these Saints move and live and have their being.

Such Saints are good when they remain in textbooks and can be made to fit into some kind of "systematic theology" of one kind or another.

I have to cut this comment short because my break is over. No time to go over it and proof it in any way, but thanks for listening and thanks for this excellent post!

Aaron Taylor said...

Thank you for your kind words my friends. As you well know, I usually try to avoid controversy, but I feel there is a clear lesson to be learned here, and I could not pass up the opportunity to mention it.

I'm afraid I do not know any of the details of St Justin's glorification. But I am very happy indeed that it is taking place!

St. Matthew the Apostle Orthodox Church said...

Do you know if his dissertation on Dostoevsky is in print in English? According to Wikipedia, it brought him persecution at Oxford because of its "radical criticism of Western humanism, rationalism, Roman Catholicism, and anthropocentrism."

A prime candidate for a Logismoi post!

Aaron Taylor said...

Fr Mark> This is a very good question. It has been investigated by a friend much better connected than I, and I don't believe he ever discovered anything. Perhaps the English dissertation was destroyed or something, or perhaps it still exists in some obscure archive either in Oxford, or of St Justin's works at Čelje or in Serbia somewhere. It seems to be a real scholarly enigma awaiting some lucky discoverer!

John Sanidopoulos said...

To be fair, it should be noted that there are different levels of Ecumenism and every critique should be placed in its proper historical context.

Aaron Taylor said...

John> Of course I realise this. My own spiritual father, a rabid traditionalist, has attended meetings of the Oklahoma Clergy Council in the past, & we all know of the unparalleled witness of Fr Florovsky in the WCC's early years. But the post is not meant to be a nuanced critique of ecumenism, but a very general kind of statement. The ecumenical movement is a dead end, most of those who support it seem to be very questionable in their commitment to Orthodox Tradition, and the true holy men of our day have unanimously stood against it. That's all I'm trying to say.

Andreas Houpos said...

Aaron, thanks for this post.

Ecumenism is one of those subjects that gets me riled up for a lot of different reasons, and it is therefore something my spiritual father has warned me about engaging in discussion about (not in the sense that it's not worth being concerned about, but because, at a point, it becomes a spiritual distraction for me).

The quotes in this post are awesome, because I feel that, by them, 'the mouths of liars are stopped.'

I also find this a great source of hope, namely, that while the Church seems to be treading dangerous waters right now (speaking in regard to Ecumenism), she is canonizing Saints who oppose it.

Pintradex said...

Well said!

Sophocles said...

Andreas and Justin,

I'm with you guys. But...it does feel good to say a good gut felt "HURRAY!!" once in a while when we see Saints such as Saint Justin canonized and when posts like Aaron's are as well written and direct as they are, no?

John Sanidopoulos said...

They unanimously disagreed with the extreme form of Ecumenism. Remember, you agree there were stages. They did not all disagree with ecumenical dialogue.

Aaron Taylor said...

Andreas> I know exactly how you feel. There is a fine line between a proper, pious concern with the problems of ecumenism & an obsessive preoccupation that dissipates one's attention from their own spiritual life. This is part of why I don't write about it very often. Also, I share your sense of hope in the glorification of men like St Justin.

John> I never said that they disagreed with any type of 'ecumenical' dialogue whatsoever. But I think it is fair to say that they opposed the 'ecumenical movement' itself. If you do know of any glorified Saints who supported, for instance, the WCC, & taught that it was a good idea for Orthodox Churches to belong to it, then I am of course open to correction.

John Sanidopoulos said...

The Ecumenical Movement is not confined to the WCC and its not necessarily about supporting it, but tolerating it and using it as a missionary tool rather than a means to compromise the Faith. There have been few (too many) Orthodox in the Ecumenical Movement that would have extreme views to merit the critiques of the Fathers of recent times.

As for the glorified who tolerated it, there are many. As for those who supported it and participated in it, it will come down to picking and choosing whom we think are glorified. And of course you have to choose the stages of the Ecumenical Movement. From its origins in the 19th century up till today it has gone through many many changes and addressed many different issues.

And of course, the true origins of the Ecumenical Movement are based in Roman times, such as the Synod of Ferrara-Florence which at least two Saints of the Church participated in, but I won't get into that.

Three saintly figures whom I consider glorified that had spiritual children in the Ecumenical Movement and participated in as well to some degree were Elder Sophrony, Archbishop Basil Krivoshein and Bishop Gerasimos Papadopoulos (whom I should note on the latter is working miracles through his relics at Holy Cross in Boston). There are others. I'd say they were probably all against an extreme form of Ecumenism, but were not against dialogue and a moderate form of Ecumenism.

And of course we cannot reject some truly pious converts that emerged out of the Ecumenical Movement, but that is another story.

I'll end with a story Fr George Dragas told me a few times. He told me how he along with Fr John Romanides and Archbishop Basil Krivoshein were invited to a dialogue in England with Anglicans. When it came time for Fr Romanides to speak, he had everyone in awe about the concept of glorification from an Orthodox perspective. One Anglican then stood up and asked him detailed questions about glorification to which Fr Romanides responded: "I only know about glorification in a theoretical way, but we have someone here who knows it in an empirical way - Archbishop Basil Krivoshein" (this is a paraphrase, but I have the exact words somewhere). He then invited him up to answer, but the Archbishop told Fr Romanides to continue with what he was saying.

Sophocles said...


I think the definition Aaron more or less is working with for the point of this post is,

In the Serbian Orthodox Church the first and most consistent opponent of ecumenism was and remains Father Justin Popovich of blessed repose, who motivated others by his example, his words and his deeds, and inspired many to follow him. Fr. Justin succinctly expressed his Orthodox theological position on ecumenism in his well-known book The Orthodox Church and Ecumenism, first published in Thessaloniki in 1974.

In this book, Fr. Justin gave a concise but comprehensive definition of ecumenism. According to him,

"Ecumenism is a collective name for pseudo-Christianities, for the pseudo-Churches of Western Europe. All European humanisms, headed by Papism, have given it their wholehearted support. And all these pseudo-Christianities, all these pseudo-Churches, are nothing other than a collection of heresies. Their common evangelical name is pan-heresy."

Father Justin believed that he would best show all the abnormality and deformity of ecumenism as it appears in our time if we reflected it in the mirror of the One True Church of Christ. And that he did, presenting the Orthodox teaching (of the Orthodox Church) about the True Church of Christ, the Church of the Apostles and Holy Fathers, and Holy Tradition in the most meaningful and succinct way. Only if one has true and full knowledge of the teaching of Christ is it possible to readily discern and recognize all false and heretical teachings.

From here: http://www.orthodoxinfo.com/ecumenism/artemije_thess.aspx

As well, notice that Aaron says "for instance, the WCC", meaning, "as an example" not attempting to imply that the ecumenical movement resides exclusively nor solely in the WCC.

As well, I don't think you're quite making the distinction between this definition of "ecumenism", as used by Saint Justin and what I think you're trying to make sure is not what this post is against, namely "ecumenical dialogue". I don't think that was the aim of this post.

But even "ecumenical dialogue" is fraught with certain well known pitfalls which if one is not careful, can dull the awareness of the uniqueness of the Orthodox Faith.

I'm sure you have seen this, but if not, it's worth a good read: http://www.orthodoxinfo.com/ecumenism/jeremiah.aspx

Lastly, John, I'm not quite sure I follow what you mean when you say,

it will come down to picking and choosing whom we think are glorified.


Three saintly figures whom I consider glorified

I think I see what you're trying to say with this, but still it makes me a bit uneasy. What is your understanding of what makes one recognized a Saint in our Church? And if we both have the same understanding of glorification, is it to be implied, perhaps loosely, that these statements mean you to be saying that in any given scenario, such as this one dealing with ecumensim, we are to pick and choose Saints to suit our purposes?

If you don't mind, would you clarify a bit?

John Sanidopoulos said...


I never said I disagreed with Aaron's post, I just wanted to make a footnote that there are distinctions. It's time Orthodox Christians matured enough that they don't attack Ecumenism as a whole, but make the distinctions necessary - distinctions I would think someone like St Justin would agree with. We live in different times than he did and the Ecumenism he attacked is not the Ecumenism of today for the most part, though it of course is still there and needs the sober citique of St Justin and other Fathers. And this is what I was troubled by Aaron's post, that he did not make this distinction as is evidenced by the fact that he appluied St Justin's critique against the Encyclical of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. In my very strong opinion, St Justin's critique in no way has to do with a condemnation of the Encyclical, which I also consider very sobering and an excellent critique of the extremist among the anti-ecumenists. The fact that he would do this leads me to believe that he would possibly not consider glorified the three saintly men whom I consider glorified, since I strongly believe they would agree with my points than Aaron's point. I don't know. He can confirm that for himself.

For example, recently a statement against Ecumenism was formulated in Greece which very clearly attacked the extreme form of Ecumenism. It was a good statement and I myself signed it. But immature people read this statement and interpreted their extremist views into it and believed that all ecumenical dialogue is a "pan-heresy" and betrayal of Orthodoxy, as was shown in the protests of Cyprus during the meeting between Orthodox and Catholics, which they stupidly interpreted as the Orthdodox betraying Orthodoxy and uniting under the Pope.

I light of such extremist views, the distinctions must be made in our day and age if there is to be unity in the Church.

Aaron Taylor said...

John> First of all, when I said 'glorified Saints', I meant Saints that have been recognised by the Church. St Justin has just been recognised by the Church; Elder Sophrony, though I too believe he is a holy man, has not. There is no question of 'picking and choosing', because the Church has already done this. Perhaps she will recognise Elder Sophrony as a Saint someday too, but in the meantime, the lines have been drawn for us.

Second, while you claim that the Patriarch's encyclical attacks 'the extremist among the anti-ecumenists', the Patriarch makes no acknowledgement whatsoever that there is any difference between an extremist and a sober, moderate opposition to ecumenism. Consequently, I characterised the encyclical as 'marginalising and caricaturising' those who oppose him. You are reading your own moderation into the Patriarch's words.

Finally, I fully agreed with your distinctions in response to your very first comment. If making them was your only intention, then I'd say it's time to drop this discussion.

John Sanidopoulos said...

Aaron's response makes my point Sophocles.

Aaron Taylor said...

Which point do you mean?

John Sanidopoulos said...

The point about distinctions and who we consider glorified. We obviously have a difference of opinion. You think St Justin's critique applies to the Encyclical, I don't. I think you over-read both. Anyway, just wanted to make those points and not really debate the issue, so I'm out. I'm late for church anyway.

Aaron Taylor said...

Sorry to make you late for church, John! What a pointed illustration of the problem with spending too much time with these things. I'll write a response later.

Aaron Taylor said...

John> Okay, the point about who is glorified is a question of using the term in two different ways. I am perfectly open to the possibility that the men you name are glorified in the sense that you are using the term. But I am using the term in the sense that they are not yet officially recognised as Saints by the Church, as St Justin has just been. So there is no difference of opinion on that point.

Second, strictly speaking I was not trying to argue that St Justin's critique as expressed in the excerpts I quoted applied to the encyclical, only that the two demonstrated that they had very different ideas about ecumenism generally. The Patriarch does seem to suggest that he does not accept the notion of a 'pan-heresy of ecumenism', which is of course a major thrust of St Justin's essay. Furthermore, in the 3rd paragraph I quoted, St Justin's words seem to me directly to deny the accuracy of the Patriarch's characterisations of ecumenical dialogue. Compare this paragraph to the 6th paragraph of the encyclical.

So I agree with you that the encyclical does not directly express the extreme ecumenism St Justin is denouncing. Nor is St Justin expressing the extreme anti-ecumenism the Patriarch is denouncing. So, strictly speaking you're right & I don't disagree with you on this point. But the two are different & in my opinion not, in the end, compatible.

Mark Montague said...

John, could you please point us all to the recent Greek anti-anti-ecumenism statement that you mention? I haven't seen it. The Greek text is fine, an English translation is welcome.

Aaron, I must admit, I am having a hard time finding the problem in the Ec. Pat.'s encyclical.

John Sanidopoulos said...

Aaron - Of course, I know we aren't that far apart in our understanding of these things, which is why my only point was to make sure these things are understood, in our days of extremisms. I personally do think both statements are compatible because they both attack two different extremes and two different cases. And there is a differene between St Justin's criticism of Ecumenism as a "pan-heresy" (which I agree with) and the Encyclical's criticism of Ecumenism as a "pan-heresy" (which I also agree with). St Justin uses it to describe the extreme form of Ecumenism, while the Encyclical is criticizing the way the term is over-exploited to describe all forms of Ecumenism, as the protestors in Cyprus were doing by calling all the Orthodox hierarchs there "heretics" and "pan-heretics".

I will also point out that the path I follow when it comes to how I approach the two extremes of Old Calendar scismatics and Ecumenism is that which was clearly set forth by Elder Epiphanios Theodoropoulos, more of whom I will translate in the future in my forum.

And of course there are Glorified (in the capital "G" and canonized sense) Saints of the Church that participated in Ecumenical dialogues. One I will point out is Saint Chrysostomos of Smyrna, a Metropolitan, who was tragically killed in 1922 and was instrumental in the early Orthodox-Anglican dialogue. He was canonized by the EP in the early 1990's.

Mark - I have a link to the Confession below (third from the top) along with other news stories where rumors consumed Greece with false information about the dialogue in Cyprus and which prompted the above Encyclical to be written:


Anonymous said...

It looks like the EP takes a swipe directly at St. Justin Popovic putting in quotation marks "the pan-heresy of ecumenism". Those stubborn Serbs who want to hinder the "European integration"!

Anonymous said...

John and Mark,
St. Justin clearly stood against the very ecumenical dialogue and methodology employed by today's ecumenists, first of all the Patriarch of Constantinople. (Just read his appeal concerning the Pan-Orthodox Synod that the Patriarch wants so much to happen.) Any "spin" away from this obvious reality, is naive or disingenuous.
Secondly, the encyclical of the Patriarch was clearly written against those who signed the Confession of Faith Against Ecumenism (that means you, too, John). Indeed, many of the thoughts and even expressions are reminiscent of and taken from Met. John Zizoulis' letter to the Bishops of Greece last year. (Met. John is, indeed, the author of the encyclical.) That you don't see the problem with the encyclical can only mean you are *out of the context* in which it was written and/or unaware of the preceding events. No fault of your own, but nonetheless it doesn't help you to see the truth of things. The encyclical is meant to cover the Patriarchate's excesses and abuses and turn people against their critics - including many bishops in Greece. It is not meant for those outside the loop - i.e. the old calendarists. Met. John cares little for the zealots. He would never have written the encyclical if there were not a threat WITHIN the Church.

Anonymous said...


Re: "Saint" Chrysostomos of Smyrna. You raise an important and thorny issue. Is he a saint? Can a declared mason be a saint? Can one be a saint mainly on the basis of being killed for his country? Can one be a saint who tramples upon the canons and admits Anglicans into the Altar, and much more?
Many in Greece fought against his canonization by Christodoulos. And their arguments are convincing.
It would seem that his very cononization is a fruit of ecumenism and the degree to which the ideology of the neo-gnostics (masons) has entered into the highest reaches of the hierarchy, at least in Grece.
I repeat: the canonization of a known mason and ecumenist is the fruit of ecumenism and sign of heresy within the walls and not a justification of gnosticism and ecumenism. In any case, it shows the confusion of things today: St. Justin on the one hand and the mason Chrysostomos on the other. Are these two reconciliable vis-a-vis their lives and views? Absolutely not. They cannot both be Saints of the Church, for the one exalts and exemplifies the Church and other praises and aids the anti-church, masonry and ecumenism.

John Sanidopoulos said...

Anonymous, your first point takes St Justin out of his context and your second point I agree with somewhat. I mentioned St Chrysostomos on purpose hoping someone would critique his canonization as I am aware of all the debates surrounding his canonization and I even read the campaign begun by "Orthodoxos Typos" to discredit the canonization. I don't agree with you on that point, but he is nonetheless a canonized Saint with a feast day which is what Aaron asked for. So now we can play the game of legitimate canonizations. You should keep in mind that there are many saints in our calendar that have been questioned throughout the centuries, nonetheless we still celebrate them (not that I agree with the critics).

Aaron Taylor said...

I see no reason to discuss St Chrysostomos's masonry or his status as a Saint--merely the fact that it is the Orthodox-Anglican dialogue of the early 20th-c. he supported is enough to show his complete irrelevance. As everyone knows, the Anglicans were much, much closer to Orthodoxy at that time, & supporting a limited dialogue with them at that time, aimed at bringing them into the Church, is very different from supporting the ecumenical movement in full swing. I myself acknowledged that there was a place for a kind of modest, limited dialogue within clearly Orthodox parameters. But it's also true that St Chrysostomos clearly was not glorified owing to his theological and ecclesiological acumen, whereas these things are precisely what St Justin is known for. It's apples & oranges.

Finally, as I suggested above, the incompatibility of the two documents can be seen clearly when we compare the following statements:

Encyclical--'The aim of these dialogues is, in a spirit of love, to discuss whatever divides Christians both in terms of faith as well as in terms of the organization and life of the Church.'

St Justin--'The contemporary ‘dialogue of love’, which takes the form of naked sentimentality, is in reality a denial of the salutary sanctification of the Spirit and belief in the truth (2 Thess. 2:13), that is to say the unique salutary ‘love of the truth’.'

Placed side by side, I don't see how one can deny that St Justin is teaching that statements like those of the Patriarch (penned, we have learned, by Met. John) are disingenuous, or at least naive and mistaken.

John Sanidopoulos said...

I think your final points are very naive and divisive Aaron, but we will leave it at that.

Aaron Taylor said...

Perhaps I am naive, but I believe it is the Patriarch and his cronies who are divisive. But very well, I'm willing to move on.

Mark Montague said...

Aaron, I think there's a factual point that needs clarification. When St. Justin refers to the "contemporary 'dialogue of love'," I take him to be referring to something specific: the Orthodox - Roman Catholic dialogue of his day, with its particular method and aims. Hence he uses the word "current", and hence he puts it in quotes. I appreciate his statement that it "takes the form of naked sentimentality"; I take him to be referring to the particular course they charted: to begin with points of agreement and less controversial items, and work toward the more significant areas of disagreement. That agenda, since it seems opposite to common sense (common sense might say: first address the big problems, then work out the details) seemed doomed only to obscure the real issues for decades.

Thus, I do not take his position to be that any form of dialogue is wrong, or that such dialogue should not be done "in a spirit of love".

I appreciate the ecumenical encounters/writings/dialogues of St. John Damascene, St. Gregory Palamas, and Fr. George Florovsky; is St. Justin opposing these? I take him to be opposing false ecumenism, not all ecumenical dialogue.

Ochlophobist said...

I tease my neo-Cath friends for their disturbingly ideological and naïve "hermeneutic of continuity" which tells us how, say, VatII is compatible with Trent on the question of salvation outside of the Church.

Now I learn that there are Orthodox who apply the same hermeneutic of continuity to St. Justin on ecumenism and Black Bart (and/or his Heideggerian fetishising sidekick) on ecumenism.

Epistemological anarchy is the spirit of the age.

Aaron Taylor said...

Oh, no, I didn't take him to be saying that any form of dialogue is wrong or that it should not be done in a spirit of love, and I certainly don't see him as opposing Ss John or Gregory (I can't say about Fr Florovsky). No, my point was that he was arguing that ecumenical dialogues as they are largely being carried out in our day are not 'in a spirit of love' but of 'naked sentimentality'. He is definitely opposing false ecumenism rather than any form of 'ecumenical dialogue' if this is somewhat broadly conceived, however, I take him to be saying that the 'ecumenical dialogue' of our day IS false ecumenism. And I think most readers of St Justin would agree with me.

Aaron Taylor said...

Owen> Hear, hear!

Mark Montague said...

Ochlophobist, I have not understood this discussion to be about the Ec. Pat.'s ecumenical position generally, but simply about one document. If we insist upon the genetic fallacy (that it is false because it is by the Ec. Pat. / Met. John Z.), we have ruled out in advance any progress toward the truth. On the contrary, the more wrong one takes the Ec. Pat. to be in general, the more one can rejoice when he speaks sensibly.

I do not contest that St. Justin's position is contrary to the Ec. Pat.'s position generally. I maintain that the Ec. Pat.'s text cited by Aaron is in itself not contrary to St. Justin's position or the patristic tradition.

Aaron, I agree with your last comment.

All, there seems to be a presumption in some quarters that all of the dangers are on one side. I think that's a dangerous mistake.

Ochlophobist said...



the more one can rejoice when he speaks sensibly Agreed.

On the question of the genetic fallacy, I agree, but I might also say that there has been a host of literature in the post-Heidegger continental philosophical world concerning love, and love & the Other, and so forth. Every time Zizioulas makes reference to love, he does so following rhetorical forms in keeping with that post-Heidegger rhetoric. We know from Zizioulas' writings how he conceptualizes love. Now, we can note that the Fathers of old made use of philosophical categories and we can argue whether or not Zizioulas has sufficiently baptized Heidegger. That is for another day. I think the issue at hand here is this - let us admit that the EP, insofar as it is Zizioulas doing the writing, is using love language that, while not exactly the specific sort which St. Justin criticizes in the quote above, is still a love language which would have rung as a foreign tongue to St. Justin, insofar as he recognized it as typical of a post-Heidegger concept of love, which it seems is all Zizioulas is capable of. There is an epistemological gulf between Zizioulas' concept of love and St. Justin's concept of love. But how and whether St. Justin would have expressed as much in this particular instance I do not know.

Sophocles said...

I've been meaning to return to this conversation, but have been busy. But with Aaron,

Owen> Hear, hear! On all your points.

I will try to return later, God willing.

Anonymous said...

Where do you people get your information?

It has already been determined that Zizioulas did not write this.

It was written by the Ecumenical Patriarch and edited by the bishops undersigned until the final statement was written. One of them, may I add, is one of the great spiritual leaders of our time in the person of Metropolitan Amphilochios of New Zealand, who was Elder Amphilochios Makris' closest spiritual child.

John is absolutely correct in how these things are to be interpreted. You read these statements like Protestant Fundamentalists, out of context and within your egotistical agendas. This is eactly what Extremists do, they turn the Church against itself. But of course you are just gonna point the finger at the EP as the source of the Church's woes, when in reality it is naive people who don't know how to read the documents of the Fathers and the Church.

Aaron Taylor said...

Anonymous> This is the first time I've been accused by a reader of this blog of having an 'egotistical agenda' or of being an 'Extremist'. You, sir, are a coward, hiding behind your anonymity. You have demonstrated none of your points, but only made bald, undemonstrated assertions. Make some sort of rational argument and adopt a more charitable tone, or find another blogger to irritate.

Anonymous said...

Well then, welcome to such a critique. If youre gonna throw uncharitable and disrespectful stones at the Ecumenical Patriarch and the Holy Synod, you better expect stones thrown back in return. And my name is George. If you do a google search in Greek, you may find the interview with Metr. Zizioulas in which he clearly explains that he was not the author, if youre interested in the truth.

Anonymous said...

None of the interpretations of the Encyclical of the Ecumenical Patriarch would alleviate the suspicions that the "dialogue of love" with the Catholics is meant to surreptitiously prepare the grounds for the acceptance of the "presidency of love" of the Pope. The insistence on concentrating on "what unites us" aims to obscure "what divides us". But a real healing would be to solve first what divides us. Or precisely this points are shoved under the carpet, as if "love" can heal them automatically. One cannot hide the grievous errors of the Catholics, however much one tries to sugar coat them with "love". They are not the result of "misunderstandings", of "losses in translation", of fanciful "fear of the Other" or, least of all, of a "retardation" of the Orthodox theological "development". They are errors of substance that affect the life of a Christian, a stumbling block on the path of their salvation.
It was clear from the meetings in Ravenna and Cyprus that the sticking point of papal primacy was differently understood. The papists clamored a hollow victory: the Orthodox admitted for the first time to discuss the primacy of the Pope, what remains is to find the solutions how to implement it in the Churches who "separated from Rome". The Orthodox did not stress enough (if at all) that the primacy (only of honour) had a meaning only in the system of the Pentarchy, of the five Patriarchates, where the Bishop of Rome had the title of Patriarch of the West. The renunciation of this title by the present Pope to retain "only" the one of Universal Bishop is a step backwards. It falsifies the discussion. Claiming that the Orthodox have admitted the "primacy", the Catholics draw the conclusion that they somehow admitted the primacy as understood by them. Or, this point is not subject to any further discussion. The popes never exercised the primacy as they understand it. Period. The Orthodox conscience will always reject it, however much it can promote "European unity". There are not the Athonite Fathers that must be disciplined by the EP, but the Zizioulas. The mention, in quotation marks, of "the pan-heresy of Ecumenism" is a direct rebuke of the canonization of Justin Popovic.
It seems significant that the Archbishop Stylianos of Australia (a firm critic of the orthodox-papist dalliance) did not sign the encyclical (although his counterpart in New Zealand did).

Anonymous said...

Speaking of canonization of Masons like Chrysostomos of Smyrna.
What to think of the canonization of such doubtful characters like Mother Maria Skobtsova and Elias Fondaminsky, tainted and not fully washed of Marxism? Mother Maria was the "spiritual daughter" of Father Sergei Bulgakov, the notorious heretic ("former" Marxist too) condemned by both the Moskow Patriarchate and the ROCOR.

Aaron Taylor said...

‘George’> Yours was not a ‘critique’, which aims at engaging its object rationally and with careful arguments and demonstrations. What you posted was a bullying claim that the EP must never be questioned. If an unfavourable comparison of the EP’s statements with those of a Saint of the Church is to be labelled ‘turning the Church against itself’, then you are implying that the two cannot be in opposition, thus asserting a kind of ‘papal infallibility’ of the EP. If this is the response of Orthodox ecumenists to the questioning of their agenda then you and your masters are even less Orthodox than I thought.

As for the authorship of the encyclical, I really don’t care who wrote it. Although I was willing to accept the opinion of the other anonymous commentor (a friend of mine), it makes little difference. Either way the encyclical constitutes an attempt to defend the EP’s ecumenical activities—which at best have sent mixed messages to the faithful and accomplished nothing among the heterodox—by lambasting the worst of their opponents and suggesting thereby that any anti-ecumenist is a fanatic and an extremist (as you too suggest).

I have said nothing uncharitable or disrespectful about the Patriarch or the Synod, I have merely called their words and actions into question. If that makes me an ‘Extremist’ then you have only increased my concern about the state of the EP. ‘The source of the Church’s woes’, however, is the Evil One himself, the Devil, and not the Patriarch or the Synod, however wrong they may be. But then again, maybe I just need someone like you to teach me ‘how to read the documents of the Fathers and the Church’.

By the way, any more 'stone-throwing' will get your comments deleted and this combox closed.

Aaron Taylor said...

Anonymous> Although I too was troubled by the news of those canonisations, they are way off the topic of the current discussion. I would suggest raising the matter over at the blog Ora et Labora, where Felix Culpa has posted on Fr Michael Plekon's treatment of such people in his book 'Living Icons'. See http://ishmaelite.blogspot.com/2010/05/living-icons-chapter-4.html.

John Sanidopoulos said...

Thanks for the support Anonymous, and you bring up valid points, but I would encourage you to engage the subject rather than imitating the critic.

For example, you could ask everyone if they know the historical context in which St Justin's critique of Ecumenism was written. I was disappiointed no one has addressed this and if it was addressed they would clearly see that St Justin's critique has absolutely nothing to do with the Ecumenism of today.

I will address this in my forum soon since there is a clear misunderstanding of our newly-glorified Saint.

John Sanidopoulos said...

And I do consider St. Chrysostomos a Saint, who is tainted by the Extremists unfairly...as usual. I'll address this soon as well.

Support for the shameless plugs Aaron of my site, but I have no time for this now.

John Sanidopoulos said...

I meant "Sorry" for the shameless plugs. i don't know where "support" came from.

Anonymous said...

I notice that no one has discussed what happened just recently in Serbia, Bosnia, etc; ( the former Yugoslavia), and how the "anti-ecumenical" rhetoric contributed to the horror of the events.

Aaron Taylor said...

Anonymous> No one has discussed it because they're intelligent enough to realise that questioning ecumenism has nothing to do with 'the horror of the events' in the Balkans.

Please keep the comments on topic or I will have to close them.

Anonymous said...

"Questioning ecumemism" has nothing to do with what happened?

It all depends on what is meant by "ecumenism".

Ecumenism can meain reducing everything to a generaic sameness or clarifying what is truly common, what is truly different,and whether the differences are major or minor, and, if major, what can or cannot be done about the situation.

What you are proposing is "epistemic foreclosure", ( a nice new blog phrase).

I find it hard to belive that one can state rather vicious polemical arguments and not be held responsible, in some form, for others who take the polemical argument as approval for violence.

Anonymous said...

Aaron I agree with you.
On Sunday of Orthodoxy , leaving the church i was puzzled as to why the Ecumenical Patriarch picked that DAY to take a shot at the critiques of his ecumenical movement. I was scandalized. I was left to believe that he and others do not want an interference with the work they do . They , definetly do not care what other people think, or what worries them. Trust us , was the message, we know what we are doing, shut up and go away!!!
The canonization of ST. Justin was done at the right time and in my book , GOD SEND.
ST. Justin's views are more appropriate now than ever before.
Thank you for the posting . May the Risen Lord give you courage and light to continue your efforts. Much needed.

Aaron Taylor said...

Anonymous> By the same logic, you would hold the Fathers responsible for the Holocaust. Your argument is a complete non sequitur. Those who claim that there is no place for polemics in Orthodoxy are preaching the postmodern 'gospel' of 'tolerance' and relativism, not that of Christ, who said that He came to bring a sword.

And in what way, pray tell, have I proposed 'epistemic foreclosure'? I have explicitly acknowledged the possibility of discussing differences. Don't forget that I was the one who was told that claiming the EP differed from St Justin was 'divisive' and 'turning the Church against itself'. My post contains nothing 'vicious'.

Theodoros> Thank you for your kind words.

Inga Leonova said...

What a lively and interesting dialogue! I am both curious and saddened that no one appears (or admits) to be scandalized by the terms "pseudo-Christianity" and "pseudo-Churches". This is rather a leap from proclaiming that the fullness of faith is in the Orthodox Church. Since Aaron just brought up the Holocaust, I would like to ask whether people truly consider the non-Orthodox martyrs (mostly Roman Catholics) who gave their life saving the Jews from and even inside the Nazi camps "pseudo-Christians"?..

I completely agree that extreme Ecumenism that advocates intercommunion and makes sociopolitical declarations which have nothing to do with dogmatic teachings of the Church is and should be a concern for the Orthodox. However, extreme Orthodox Fundamentalism is heretical in its own way as it ossifies Tradition and serves to squash the living, breathing development of the Church...

Inga Leonova said...

(...and sorry - I didn't realize that my comment would appear with initials only... I don't mean to hide.
Inga Leonova.)

Aaron Taylor said...

Inga> Thank you for your comment. When St Justin refers to 'pseudo-Christianity' and 'pseudo-Churches', he presupposes a very specific, strict use of the words 'Christianity' and 'Church', identified simply and straightforwardly with Orthodoxy. This is an identification that essentially all Orthodox share or at least claim to share. To therefore refer to non-Orthodox as 'pseudo-Christian' is simply a logical corollary. It does not mean that they cannot be called 'Christian' in a larger sense, or that when, for instance, they imitate Christ by giving up their lives for another, they are not behaving in a truly exemplary Christian fashion. But acknowledging this does not require us to accept their churches or their theology as true.

As a rule, I try not to be scandalised by anything the Saints and Fathers say. If for some reason it rubs me the wrong way, I try to understand it charitably and within the context both of the problems they were dealing with as well as within the Church's Tradition as a whole. St Justin was anything but a 'fundamentalist' (if such a word is even useful within the context of the Orthodox Church), and was certainly far from 'heretical'.

Pr Seraphim said...

How in the world do you get som many comments! Orr blog, Redeeming the Time, labors in relative obscurity.

I love the article. I will no doubt return to it. I also have the book. I have marked many passages for quoting.

I wrote a little article, using a quote form your article, abnout Missionary work. I was hoping to get some dialog.

Orthodoxy and Mission work - St Justin Popovich


Aaron Taylor said...

Thank you for the kind words, Father. It's true I have a good number of regular readers, but of course I don't usually get so many comments. I'm sure this time it was largely the highly controversial subject matter that generated them!

Later, I'll drop a comment at your blog, and maybe some of the others here will as well.