Bulla September 28th, 2010
The Holy and Sacred Synod
Of the Church of Greece Iasi 1 115
, AND OTHER "THEOLOGIKAL QUESTS”
AT THE CONFERENCE OF
THE THEOLOGICAL ACADEMY OF VOLOS
The "Academy for Theological Studies" of the Holy
Metropolis of Demetrias, Volos, organized and hosted a theological conference
with the following topic:
OR POST-PATRISTIC THEOLOGY. THE QUEST OF
CONTEXTUAL THEOLOGY IN ORTHODOXY.”
This conference was a "radical theological surprise”
in the negative sense, for the listener who had not been adequately prepared
to listen to a highly “distorted" neotheological language. And it was
not difficult for this "language" to be heard by many, since the
conference was broadcast on the internet TV station www.intv.gr. with
parallel translation in English and Greek. Some of these unorthodox distortions
heard during the course of this conference will be presented a bit further
down. It is necessary however to initially offer our observations on two key
conditions that lead this “theological gathering” to a “theological
First, the term "synafeiaki [contextual] Theology."
The conceptual content of this term seems vague and not
easily understood. Perhaps it can be seen as a glossy lingual neoplasm in
order to express some concepts that arise from the need of formulating some new
social realities. This couldn’t be further from
the truth. The term "synafeiaki Theologia" is known for at
least forty years in inter-Christian literature and expressed in English as “Contextual
Theology” or “Cohesive Theology”. The term became widely known by the
"World Conference on Mission and Evangelism" which was organized in
1972 in Bangkok. The dominant trend in this conference was for the various
Christian confessions to work against being seen divided, before
non-Christians, as a result of doctrinal differences, and to further show
unity by placing a priority on issues of social justice and oppression of
social classes. This would steer the missionary and preaching effort to give
first priority to the formulation of methods of restoring social injustice as
opposed of spreading the truths of the Gospel. No one can deny the need for
social justice, but this can only become a reality by living the truths of
the Word of God as expressed through the doctrines of the Ecumenical Synods
of the God-bearing Fathers of the Church. The basis and the prospect of “Contextual
Theology” was " the conversion of missions into a community of churches
in mission” (http://www.mission2005.org).
In Orthodox theology however, we do not have
"community of churches" but "One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church." The appearance of Christian missions
emerging from a “community of churches” degrades the “One Church” to a group of denominations that does not reveal the only Truth and further degrades
missionary work to a sociological instead of a soteriological
perspective. The “contextual theology” introduced
in Bangkok has greatly expanded its horizons according to the internet site (http://www.blogtalkradio.com/empowermentsanctuary
"The goal of contextual theology is to enrich the
spiritual, emotional, mental and physical experience of life, by exploring
various teachings and concepts found in spirituality, metaphysics, in quantum
physics, religion, the advisory of life, secular trends and scientific
understanding, and then to synthesize all these together in a flowing and
dynamic contextual sum…we offer to provide you with a variety of tools
designed to help you in your personal growth and development ... and all
these regardless if you are involved with Angelic Support, Universal Law,
Buddhism, Gnosticism, Christianity, or any secular, scientific or
intellectual experiences in spirituality. "
Here arises a crucial question: Did the organizers of this
conference have any knowledge of the history of the term “contextual
theology”? If they did not, why did they use it? To make an impression or to
pioneer modernism? But if they knew, then we can rightly speak of an attempt
to "distort theology."
Second, the term "post patristic Theology."
This term, outside of being novel, is also unbiblical and unorthodox.
Unbiblical, because it contradicts the very basis of the patristic theology
of our Church. The Lord Himself has said:
"And the Paraclete, the
Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in My name, he will teach you all
bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you." (John 14:26).
"But when the Paraclete
comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who
proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me.” (John 15:26)
"However, when He, the
Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth….” (John 16:13).
The Holy Fathers are the fruit of the work of the Holy Spirit in the
Church. The Fathers therefore are called God-bearing, because they are the
vessels and the organs of the Holy Spirit. With persistent ascesis and
strenuous neptic struggle, they subjugated the spirit of the flesh to the
will of God. In Orthodoxy there cannot be Theology without ascesis and
Theology without Fathers. The Fathers with
their theology fulfill the aforementioned words of our Lord. The Fathers do not say anything novel, nor do
they write new philosophical theories, but because they are spirit-filled and
live in the Light of God, they interpret the truths revealed by Christ,
empowered by His light.
The Paraclete, the Spirit of truth, leads the Fathers of
the Church "to all the truth." This means that there can be no
period in the life of the Church that Fathers do not exist. This would mean
that the Paraclete stopped "holding fast" “the entire institution
of the Church" (Vespers of Pentecost). All this leads to the obvious
conclusion that the term “posts patristic” theology is totally baseless. It
is impossible to have a period after the Fathers, since the Church will always
grow theologically with the Grace of the Holy Spirit through the God-bearing
Fathers. We do not deny the term "neo-patristic theology" because new
Fathers will always emerge over time. But we reject the term "post
patristic theology" because it leads us straight to Protestantism. The
Church without Fathers would be a "falsified Christian Protestant formulation"
without any relation to the "One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church ."
Were the organizers of this "theological"
conference not aware of the fundamental and basic principles of Orthodox
If that is true, how do they
dare organize “theological” conferences under the auspices of a
carrier bearing the grandiose name "Orthodox Academy," while the
prefix/title suffers from theological unorthodoxy? But if they were aware,
then we have every reason to speak about a sinister willingness to corrupt
and distort the basic structures of Orthodox Theology.
Apart from these basic directives set by the conference and
expressed by the general title, there were in the course of meetings a
plethora of problematic points posited by the speakers which created deep
concern regarding their Orthodox content.
We herein quote some of these troublesome positions:
-"The juxtaposition between East and West must stop”
(Marcus Plested, Second Session 4/6/2010 and deacon Pavel Gavrilyuk, Fifth
scholastic approach to Scripture that is so dear to fundamentalists, they
believe that every sentence of the Bible is inerrant" (John
Fotopoulos, Fourth Session 06/04/2010).
- "Thanks to Jung we can finally understand the
dual theory of the Cross" (George Dimakopoulos, Fifth session 04/06/2010).
- "The contextual method helps us to compare the Fathers
with the non-Orthodox" (Archbishop Hilarion Alfeyef of Volokolamsk,
Third Session 06/04/2010).
- "The focus of Fr George Florovsky on the minds of
the Fathers reveals a weakness in his methodology and interpretive” (John
Behr, Second Session 06/04/2010).
- "A view that claims the only truth is imperialist"
(George Dimakopoulos, fifth Session 06/04/2010).
– “Theology must conform to liberal ways of thinking so
it can depart from the patristic tradition “(Alexei Nesteruk, Fifth
- " Trembelas is ignorant of all three volumes of
the Dogmatics of Barth” (Father Dimitrios Bathrellos, Fifth Session
06.04.2010). Comment: It is certainly true that in the Dogmatics of Trembelas
there are omissions, but the omission or ignorance of the Protestant system
of dogmatics can hardly be held as a serious critical evaluation [in a
supposedly Orthodox conference].
- "Tradition can not be a guarantor of truth. If
the interpretive [method] of Gadamer could be accepted it would help
Orthodoxy to not hold tradition as a fortress of truth” (Assaad Katan,
Sixth Session 05/06/2010).
- "We must search for the seeds of post patristic
theology in the Fathers themselves" (Deacon John Manousakis, Sixth
- "It is time to do away with stereotypes and myths
from theology” (Daniel Ayuch, Fourth Session 04/06/2010).
- "From the eighth century [Orthodox] theology
lacks originality and theological production” (Daniel Ayuch, Fourth
Session 04/06/2010). Comment: Mr. Ayuch seems to be uninformed about [several
theologians, especially] St. Gregory Palamas.
- "Church is all the other Christians"
(Father Emmanuel Klapsis, Tenth session 06/06/2010).
- "It is necessary to go above and beyond the
Fathers since they compromised with the spirit of the world"
(Pantelis Kalaitzidis, Tenth Session 06/06/2010).
- "We need to go beyond the Fathers" (Deacon
Pavel Gavrilyuk, Fifth session 04/06/2010).
- "The Orthodox [theological] schools should invite
non-Orthodox theologians to teach" (Deacon Pavel Gavrilyuk, Fifth
"We must see the western fathers such as Thomas
Aquinas as co-workers worthy of our attention" (Deacon Pavel
Gavrilyuk, Fifth session 06/04/2010).
- "We must attempt to move toward an Orthodox
theology of religions" (Father Emmanuel Klapsis, Tenth Session 06/06/2010).
- "Spouses should be able to receive Holy Communion
without spousal abstinence on the eve of Divine Liturgy" and "Holy Communion
should be offered to women during the period of menstruation"
(Pantelis Kalaitzidis, Tenth Session 6/6/2010 and Helen
Kasselouri-Chadjivassiliadis, Sixth Session 5/6/2010).
Comment: We emphasize here that St. Timothy of Alexandria has adequately responded to these issues in his canonical questions and
answers, as recorded in the Rudder and validated by the Fourth, the Sixth and
the Seventh Ecumenical Synod.
- "There must be a reinterpretation of our dogmatic
tradition" (Pantelis Kalaitzidis, Tenth Session 06/06/2010).
- "The theory of evolution does not conflict with
the doctrine of creation" (Father Andrew Louth, Seventh Session 06/05/2010).
- "The Fathers have transcended the Archaic
Christian theology ... and we must now transcend [go over and above] the
Fathers" (Pantelis Kalaitzidis, Tenth Session 06/06/2010).
- "Every birth has birth pangs, but out of it will
come something new" (His Eminence Metropolitan of Demetrias and
Almyros Ignatius, Conference closing remarks , Tenth Session 06/06/2010). Comment:
It must be emphasized here that the dogmas of the Church were, in fact, a
result of a painstaking ascetic, neptic and theological process, and as
every child is born only once likewise the dogmas do not need not be reborn
or, as it was stated many times in the Conference to be
All of the above [highlighted] selections of some of the
positions of the speakers at this conference are in need of thorough
We do not deny freedom of speech in the field of Orthodox
theology, but we can not accept freedom of reasoning to end up a Protestant
reasoning. The organizers of the conference are required to come up with
adequate explanations in order to avoid unnecessary clashes for fruitless
Our Theology needs to
increase in the Grace of the Holy Spirit. And this can be done through the Saints,
who are always present in the Church.
Awaiting the Hierarchy to
intervene accordingly regarding this scandalous offense against the flock
of Christ, I remain yours,
With the deepest respect,
The lowest among the bishops
†of GLYFADAS PAVLOS