The Three Ecclesiological Issues Confronting The Holy Orthodox Church

The ecclesiology(i) of the Church founded by our Lord God and Saviour Jesus Christ is our Orthodoxy way of life. The current crisis initiated by the Ecumenical Patriarch (EP) and the Constantinople Synod is three-fold.

First, it is the intentional invasion of the territory of the existing canonical Church in Ukraine without consultation. It is a power play, an attempt at raw politics to use previously anathematized persons with whom the EP himself broke communion to create a fictional new church. This exercise of unprecedented political power, in complete disregard to ecclesiastical history, using persons of nefarious backgrounds, has placed the EP in a state of having deliberately broken communion. It is not at present a formal schism, but it is daily moving in that direction. It merits stating that of the fourteen Orthodox local churches, of which the EP is one, thirteen have rejected the EP’s actions. No one is supporting the EP who is isolating himself and his synod.

Second, the EP’s power play in using persons of iniquitous backgrounds – people who have been anathematized and others who are not canonically ordained, has tossed out the requirement for “apostolic succession” and the “apostolic spirit” – the entire Holy Tradition on which Orthodoxy resides. The “apostolic spirit, succession, and Holy Traditions” are the legitimate handing over of the grace of the Holy Spirit – from a bishop to a priest, from bishops to other bishops. Holy Tradition is being nullified and ignored by the EP and the Constantinople Synod. For those who believe in “apostolic spirit, succession, and Holy Tradition” as the legitimate handing over of the grace of the Holy Spirit, serving with a schismatic is untenable.“If you serve with a schismatic, you become a schismatic.” (This begs the question: is your bishop willing to serve with a schismatic?)

Third, the EP’s efforts to possess “universal jurisdiction” over other pre-existing local churches is illegitimate. See the first endnote below. If the endnote is true as written, it is contrary to the existing EP’s and the Constantinople Synod’s objectives – and every Greek/EP website is wrong and must be scrubbed – history must be re-written. The fact is the EP only has authority over the Constantinople Synod, its own Patriarchate. And, by claiming “universal jurisdiction,” the EP and his synod are tossing a saint out Holy Orthodoxy’s ship.(ii)

God knows His saints. God knows His Truth. God gave us the Church. Are you willing to challenge God, with earthly politics and power? To challenge God is to challenge the Annunciation, Incarnation, Pascha, and the Pentecost.

O Lord give us the courage to carry Your Cross now – and deny ourselves – remaining true, and we will fear not, because we will be the people of Pascha!

iBasic to the ecclesiology of the Orthodox Church is the concept of conciliarity. The Church is, in fact, at her core always synod, the literal meaning of the word “Ekklesia.” The concept of conciliarity, i.e., the conciliar or synodal approach to managing the Church’s affairs, is not confined solely to convening various types of synods, but also includes every expression of ecclesiastical life. Through conciliarity, the nature of the Church as theanthropic communion in Christ is expressed. This is why any ecclesiastical practice which is not a result of conciliarity is a deviation from Orthodox ecclesiology.Besides the convening of synods, the synodal expression of ecclesiastical life is to be found in every act of communion among all members of the Church’s body. It is expressed first and foremost by the heads of the autocephalous churches, who thereby witness to the communion among them. It is also manifested in every act of communion between a metropolitan and the other bishops in his province, between a bishop and his presbytery, between a presbyter and the laity who comprise his parish, and finally among the members of the laity themselves. At all levels the Church functions as synod, i.e., as a community of persons freely gathered in Christ and by him, so that each may offer his gift for the building up of the Body in love.

iiSaint Nicodemus the Hagiorite, also called Saint Nicodemus Of The Holy Mountain, (born 1748, Naxos Island, Ottoman Empire [now in Greece]—died July 14, 1809, Mount Athos; canonized May 31, 1955), Greek Orthodox monk and author of ascetic prayer literature. He was influential in reviving the practice of Hesychasm, a Byzantine method of contemplative prayer.

Forced to flee Turkish persecution in the midst of his studies at Smyrna (now İzmir, Turkey), Nicodemus entered a monastery on Mount Athos. He was inspired to theological scholarship by a contemporary, Macarius of Corinth, whose collection of old Eastern prayer texts Nicodemus edited and published as Philokalia in 1782. After this book had occasioned a renewed interest in Hesychasm throughout the Orthodox churches, Nicodemus edited Macarius’ essays on liturgical prayer, emphasizing the Eucharist, or the Lord’s Supper. This work was at first criticized for erroneous doctrine, but its orthodoxy was vindicated by the Synod of Constantinople in 1819.

Nicodemus’ outstanding work, the Pedalion, or Rudder of the Ship of Knowledge, is a commentary on Greek church law. Its bias against the Latin church, although partly attributable to interpolations by another editor, reflects the author’s negative feelings toward the institutions of Western Christianity. Nicodemus did not hesitate, however, to use the treatises of Latin theologians on asceticism and contemplative prayer. His Enchiridion of Counsels (1801), a handbook on the religious life, continues to guide modern Greek spirituality. He was proclaimed a saint by the Greek Orthodox church in 1955.