In order for this book to be the “patristic consensus and criteria for Orthodoxy” that it purports to be, in spite of the fact that most of Orthodoxy believes differently on these issues, you only have to accept that:

-The Apostolic Canons refer indiscriminately to all heretics rather than just to the non-trinitarian heretics at the time they were written, against the position of Orthodoxy’s great medieval and modern canonists (Balsamon, Zonaras, Milas, etc.).

-You have to accept that St. Cyprian won the debate against St. Stephen regarding the reception of the heterodox, against the testimony of all the Church fathers who commented on it (e.g. Sts. Vincent of Lerins and Jerome)

-You have to believe that the Ecumenical Councils were composed of bishops who agreed with Cyprian but made canons of reception contradicting their own belief by reflecting Stephen’s position (because these canons prescribed the reception of certain heterodox by means other than baptism which Cyprian would not have accepted).

-You have to ignore how our great canonists, saints among them, handled the conflicting canons received by the Ecumenical Councils and assert an indiscriminate Cyprianism over all apparent contradictions. This in spite of the fact that the way our canonists and the episcopate overall have interpreted these documents is by modifying the meaning of Cyprian’s councils to say they were local and not universally mandatory, and that the baptism of heretics Cyprian spoke of would only be re-interpreted to apply only non-trinitarian heretics. And you have to ignore the fact that the Ecumenical Councils also accepted the Carthaginian synods after Cyprian (345, 397, 419) which repudiated his views by accepting the three-fold system of reception. Carthage 419, accepted by our canonical tradition without modification in Canon 95 at Trullo (691-692), and attended by St. Augustine, reflected his ecclesiology (both in the original Latin and Greek translations). This council accepts trinitarian heterodox baptism as true baptism albeit ineffectual until one joins the Church in faith. This idea is most clear in the Latin version but it is also present in the Greek translation- as even this book’s authors admit.

 -You have to believe that the primary way the Church has received the heterodox for 2000 years has not been by the prescribed canons for reception in the Ecumenical Councils but by baptism only, even though no Orthodox jurisdiction apart from ROCOR accepts that historical revisionism. Only the few Greeks still championing the defunct Council of Constantinople of 1756 and the few Russians following the historically revisionist accounts of St. Hilarion Troitsky (of the school of Met. Anthony Kharpovitsky – the first hierarch of ROCOR- which explains ROCOR’s adoption of this view eventually reflected in its 1971 resolution), whose view seems to trace back as something new in the Russian Church to Khomiakov.

-You have to believe that the Western Orthodox Catholic Church fathers had already departed significantly from Orthodoxy before even the Second Ecumenical Council had taken place- some eight centuries before The Great Schism (allowing one to dismiss anything a Western father said contrary to Cyprian).

-You have to accept the misrepresentation of the views of multiple saints as told in the book. Perhaps the most egregious is claiming that St. Jerome followed Cyprian by quoting one line from his Dialogue with a Luciferian, a work in which he defended the validity of Arian baptism and holy orders against Luciferians who rejected one or both of these Arian sacraments completely. In this work, the Luciferian Deacon Hilary is the actual Cyprianite (and Heersian). Uncut Mountain Press takes the Luciferian, not the Church’s position defended by Jerome. Read Jerome’s Dialogue in full.

-You have to accept that this book’s idiosyncratic way of re-interpreting numerous primary sources in a way that disagrees with every other English translation are not just examples of self-serving eisegesis.

-You have to insist that the economia vs. akrivea theory first explicitly taught in The Rudder (1800 A.D.) is THE interpretive key for resolving any apparent contradictions in the Church canons, even though this theory is not widely accepted outside of the most rigorist Greek school of thought (and those non-Greeks influenced by Old Calendar Greek schismatic groups).

-You have to accept, according to this economic theory, that even though every other canon of the Church expresses akrivea, the canons for reception express economia. For example, the canons for adultery might say the adulterer cannot commune for seven years. That’s the canon, that’s akrivea. But the bishop can decide, based on circumstances, to lessen this by economia. Similarly, when the canons for the reception of converts say, “Baptize people from this sort of group, chrismate people from that sort of group, receive by confession and repudiation of error converts from those sorts of groups”, that is the akrivea, that is not considered economia outside of this late and theologically innovative Greek rigorist economic theory.

-You have to accept The Rudder with its commentary as the decisive authority of canon law, whereas it was intended to be a book for laymen to become acquainted with canon law, and its commentaries are not from the ecumenical canonical tradition but represent mainly the view of the 18th century rigorist school defending the council of Constantinople 1755-1756. The actual primary canonical authority for the Greeks is the Pandects of Canon Law and for the Russians it is the Nomocanon of the Russian Orthodox Church. Neither of whose commentators agree with the commentary in The Rudder historically.

-You have to believe that the gates of hell prevailed against the Orthodox Church in a substantial way after the Fall of Constantinople and she succumbed to a “Latin Captivity” in the 16th-19th centuries. Then you need to dismiss every Roman Catholic sounding Latin term as a departure from pure Orthodoxy even if the Western Church fathers had been using them since at least the 5th-6th centuries. But this idea of a Latin Captivity of the Church is mostly a bugbear invented by 20th century neo-patristic Orthodox theologians that is blown out of all proportion, as Fr. Seraphim Rose stated.

-You have to re-interpret Constantinople 1484 to refer primarily to Uniates and not Roman Catholics generally, against the obvious interpretation accepted by virtually all Orthodox until now.

-You have to accept as authoritative councils calling for the baptism of all which have been widely rejected by virtually the entire Orthodox Church since they were held (Constantinople 1755-1756, Moscow 1620)

-You have to reject, based on the dubious idea of a Latin Captivity, all the authoritative pan-Orthodox councils dealing with the reception of converts because these contradicted or explicitly rejected the decisions of Constantinople 1755-1756 and Moscow 1620 (e.g. Moscow 1667, Moldova 1642, Jerusalem 1672). But the book has to rehabilitate these two councils because, without them, following the baptismal controversies involving Cyprian, Stephen, Optatus, and Augustine, the Cyprianite view has no substantial historical witness in the Orthodox Church for over a thousand years.

-You have to give dogmatic weight to Cyprian’s position of baptizing all converts indiscriminately as the ideal, even though the Church rejected this view in the Baptismal controversies involving Cyprian and Stephen, and in the Donatist controversies later. And continued to reject it by legislating canons of reception that reflect Stephen’s position- not Cyprian’s. 

-You have to assert that what became the virtually unanimous position and practice of the Church throughout history and everywhere today is a fatal compromise with the pan-heresy of ecumenism if not flat-out heresy. You have to pretend the norm (receiving trinitarian heterodox by chrismation) is the aberration, and that the aberration (baptism of everyone) is the norm against the tradition of the Church.

-You have to accept the very new practice, unheard of until the late 20th century, of so-called “corrective baptisms”, that is, baptizing in the Church people already received by the Church through chrismation or confession. This wholly inverts the order of the sacraments and falls under the ancient prohibitions against rebaptism found in the canons and the Creed. It means believing the Church has regularly dispensed with a commandment of the Lord without which one cannot be saved (the injunction to be baptized), because the Church can only chrismate someone that is baptized. Reception by chrismation is the acceptance of a prior baptism as valid, now made effective by Orthodox faith. The book tries to encourage discrete disobedience by priests when their bishops insist the Ecumenical canons be followed, in favor of an unwritten rigorist canon of reception by baptism of all. It tries to sanctify disobedience to bishops under the aegis of some supposed advice from St. Paisius. But the anecdote is hearsay. Many of Heers’ elders only met St. Paisius a few times and the saint’s actual disciples, who were with him all the time, do not take Heers or his “elders” seriously.

Conclusion: Whether the sacraments of the heterodox have somehow retained grace in spite of schism or not is a theologoumenon on which the saints disagreed. That there is only one baptism and it is of the Church is agreed by all. Yet how we can accept heterodox baptism as the Church’s baptism is a mystery not revealed dogmatically to us. But we ought not to use this so-called theory of economy to say the Church has been receiving most converts without a real baptism in order to make things easier for them. Without baptism, we are not saved. Receiving people by chrismation without an ontologically real baptism would be giving people stones for bread. It would be a deception. But since the canons prescribe reception by means other than a new baptism, it must mean we accept the prior baptism as valid whether the grace is actualized (as Florovsky suggests) or just present and potential (as Augustine held). It is better to accept the paradoxy of Orthodoxy than to resurrect a Cyprianite sacramental rigorist view at least partially rejected by Orthodoxy’s canonical legislation and age-old practices.

St. Basil, in his Letter 188, first begins by giving the school of thought that there are three modes for receiving converts. Those he calls schismatics are all Trinitarian and baptize in that Name. He says they are still “of the Church”. He then gives the “no grace” position of Sts. Cyprian and Firmilian. Whichever of these camps we find ourselves in, St. Basil ends by saying we are to follow the canons with akrivea. Two years after this, the Second Ecumenical Council sided with the three modes of reception as THE practice of the Church. So, whichever view we follow in regard to grace in heterodox sacraments, the canons as given in the Ecumenical and authoritative Pan-Orthodox Councils are something we are strictly bound to on the manner of heterodox reception.

Two centuries after the first baptismal controversy between Sts. Cyprian and Stephen, St. Vincent of Lerins, the “Father of the Patristic Consensus” was able to say of the whole Church- East and West- concerning Cyprian’s unrefined and defeated rigorist view, “What was the final issue of the whole problem? What else, but the rule to which we are used and accustomed (Stephen’s view)? Antiquity was retained; novelty, repulsed.

But, perhaps only the necessary patronage was lacking for establishing the innovation? Quite the contrary. They had at their disposal such strength of ingenuity, such streams of eloquence, such numerous followers, so great a resemblance to the true, so many references to the divine Law obviously interpreted, however, in a new and wrong sense that—as it seems to me—the whole conspiracy could not have been crushed if it had not been overthrown by reason of terrific weight, namely, by the proclamation on its novelty, which has been accepted, defended, and so highly praised. What was the final impact of this African council and its decrees? Thanks be to God, there was none. The whole matter was abolished, rejected, and trodden upon—like a dream, like a fable, like an empty thing.”

 Let us also follow the true patristic consensus and criteria of our holy Orthodox fathers and reject the ancient error that even some of our great names have tried to resurrect in modern times.

 “Let us not remove the ancient landmarks which our fathers have set.”



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