Apocalypse and Tradition: The Source of Authority in Orthodoxy

What is the ultimate source of authority in the Orthodox Church? This is a question that plagues inquirers of the faith and can even be a significant stumbling block to a person’s conversion. For Protestants, the ultimate source of authority is the holy scriptures or the Bible. In this context, the Bible is often pitted against man made traditions or authorities—all of which must be subordinated to the authority of the Bible. This…

Ecumenism as Dialogue or Monologue? (Part One: An Overview)

On the eve of the highly-promoted meeting in Jerusalem between the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and Pope Francis of the Roman Catholic Church[1. The phrase ‘Roman Catholic Church’ here is used in a conventional manner, out of charity, and with no theological intent; other terms used throughout this essay—and in the Orthodox Tradition—are Latins, Papists (not frequently as it connotes a polemical reality), Westerners (used to denote the geographical origins and location of…

Iconoclasm: The Heresy of Heresies (Part Two)

In Franks, Romans, Feudalism, and Doctrine, Fr. John S. Romanides suggests: The schism between Eastern and Western Christianity was not between East and West Romans. In actuality, it was a split between East Romans and the conquerors of the West Romans. By the end of the seventh century, whole areas of the western part of the Roman Empire were now under either Arian or Muslim rule. In Spain, for example, the Visigoths had replaced all of…

Iconoclasm: The Heresy of Heresies (Part One)

It’s not surprising that iconoclasm persists in contemporary Christian culture, and especially in America. Without a proper understanding of both the Incarnation and the deeper purpose of creation—throughout which God is ‘everywhere present and filling all things’—we are left with a worldview that is distorted. With no emperor or royal family to honor, we venerate celebrities, pornographers, amoral politicians, and the farce of ‘reality television.’ As addicted voyeurs, we look not into heaven, but rather into the…

Is Orthodoxy a Stagnant Faith?

At the conclusion of a recent synaxis of Orthodox hierarchs in Istanbul (March 6–9, 2014), an announcement was made that the local Orthodox churches would gather for a pan-Orthodox synod in the Spring of 2016. At this synod, a number of issues facing the global Orthodox Church will be addressed, and many of them long-coming. It should be kept in mind, of course, that diaspora Orthodoxy and the Church as a whole…

The Filioque and Arianism: Was It Really Necessary?

Was the addition of Filioque to the Nicene Creed necessary to combat Arianism in the West? This is an assertion often made in its defense, but is this really true? Filioque—”and the Son” in Latin—is a phrase later added to the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed in Western churches. This Creed or Symbol of Faith has been recited by Christian faithful as part of their liturgical and private devotional life since at least the fourth…

Martin Luther on Mary as Theotokos

Like many other Protestant Reformers, Martin Luther had no problem honoring Mary as the ‘Mother of God.’ Following the Ecumenical Council of Ephesus (A.D. 431), he was adamant that Mary be referred to and honored as the Θεοτοκος or ‘Birth-giver of God’ (also, ‘Mother of God’). The importance of this title is chiefly in its refutation of the heresy of Nestorianism, and it says perhaps more about the person of Jesus Christ…

The Events of the ‘Great Schism’

Ever since the reign of the emperor (Saint) Justinian I (AD 527-565) — who attempted to drive out foreign invaders from the west and reunite the whole of the empire — the east and the west were being driven apart. After the invasion (by the Avars and Slavs) of the Balkan peninsula and the conquest of the middle east and northern Africa by the Muslims, the east and the west were quite…