Prof. D. H. Stamatis, Ph.D.
The Crete council in late June will discuss among other items the mission and role of the Orthodox Church and its global flock, issues relating to the churches and its relations with other Christian faiths. Unity of the Orthodox churches is considered a key prerequisite to any reconciliation with the Vatican. In fact Rev. John Chryssavgis (The Patriarch’s spokesperson) writes that “Our focus should be on the objective of unity.” http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/orthodox-christians-spiritual-seat-issues-calls-unity-39581777. Retrieved on June 4, 16.
I am wondering if the Crete participants in the council are really ignorant of the mission and role of the Orthodox Church and its global flock. The mission of the Church has been from the very beginning to: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation (Mark 16:15) and “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit (Mat 28:19).
As for the personal mission or objective is a) to be partakers of Christ (Heb 3:14) b) approach Theosis (Many Fathers of the Church have talked about this principle i.e. . St. Irenaeus explained this doctrine in the work Against Heresies, Book 5, Preface; St Athanasios; Maximus the Confessor; St J. Chrysostom; St. Gregory Palamas; and many others. Vladimir Lossky has summarized this principle in his book, The Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church (St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1997, pp. 29–33. He says: According to the Orthodox Tradition, man’s purpose in life is to achieve union with God, and to become god by grace. Acquisition of the Holy Spirit; self-realization and c) be imitators of Christ (Eph 5:1-2).
Therefore, I am very concerned if in 2016 we are going to revisit items that have been resolved thousands of years ago. That implies that after so many years we just found ourselves to be NOT “pure,” “authentic,” “true,” and an “incomplete faith.” In other words: we are in need of something else to be complete. I am not sure how the prelates, hierarchs, priests and theologians can compromise on the Orthodox dogmas and Traditions of the Orthodox Church. Can somebody tell us what is NOT correct? What needs to be improved? What do we need from others to be complete? After all on every service we believe and proclaim that “Through the prayers of our Fathers…” and in the end of the Holy Liturgy we fervently believe and sing that “We have seen the True light…” Are these beliefs and proclamations not true? Have we been lying to ourselves? How can we compromise with say Roman Catholics, and Protestants that do not “share in the Orthodox heritage? They all have theological traditions, religious experiences and a way of life much different than those of the Orthodox. They left us (the Roman Catholics in 1052 creating the Great Schism and the Protestants left R. Catholicism in 1517). They always have known what we stand for and they did not like it then, and they do not like it now. That implies that we are willing to give our principles in the name of Unity. But we have a historical basis for such a treacherous path. It was the Council of Florence in which all but St. Mark of Ephesus rejected the resolutions. He was the ONLY ONE. Let us hope that at least one of the participants will stand one more time for ORTHODOXY. Let us also remember that in most cases their heresy is not in their words but in the meaning of their words. This difference is exemplified by St. Hilary of Poitiers when he writes “Heresy lies in the sense assigned, not the word written; the guilt belongs to the expositors, not the text (on the trinity 2, 3).