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  • DcnJosephSuaiden 11:35 pm on January 21, 2014 Permalink | Reply

    A last forum response: On Scandals and divisions, and keeping argument private 

    Dear _______:

    Since the last time I discussed my distaste for private debates I ended getting sanctioned, I have no interest in rehashing my reasoning to disagree. I personally find the argument that we will scandalize people out of True Orthodoxy very problematic. If we have to cover up the truth to explain it, we are on far shakier foundation as Christians than we realize. A Christian should have very limited business in these debates anyway. (More …)

  • DcnJosephSuaiden 12:23 am on January 21, 2014 Permalink | Reply

    Another Forum Response: On the Canons and Written Tradition 

    Dear _______:

    In the first place, my name is Deacon Joseph Suaiden. Why I’ve been downgraded to my last name in a third-person response to me indicates that you are not communicating directly with me at this point, but communicating about me to other readers. (I’ve known you far longer than to be reduced to a username.) I find such behavior somewhat jarring as I wrote with sufficient candor, but took care not to be offensive. This is not an Internet debate. You are relaying misinformation and now I am correcting it. Further, I found your tone somewhat condescending, which left me disinclined to explain myself.

    Now that you wish to make a show of me, however, I will have to take the time to explain your errors.

    You write:

    However, I don’t agree with your interpretation of Orthodox history, since you seem to think that we have a comprehensive written record for everything going back to the Apostles, which is manifestly not true historically (how else would we have different textual variants of the NT?) and not even doctrinally necessary, as shown by St Basil’s defense of the Sign of the Cross, a practice founded on unwritten authority.

    This is a sham argument. I had not claimed that “we have a comprehensive written record for everything going back to the Apostles”. Without touching on the fact that we have everything necessary for the proper functioning of the Church written down in many volumes–which is in fact true– I was referring rather specifically to procedure in terms of the public acts of the Church. Certainly in the time of the Apostles things were preserved much more by oral tradition than written. Yet even the Apostles themselves recorded canons. But to claim that is the case now isn’t just silly, it borders on disingenuous. Certainly by the time of the Ecumenical Councils, there were already episcopal registers, festal sermons, grammatas and numerous other writings connected specifically to Church procedure. Certainly there was virtually nothing being preserved solely by oral tradition in terms of the liturgical actions, which have incredible textual support in East and West.

    On these matters I wrote exactly this much: But putting aside the moral aspect of such a view is that the historical record is precisely what we use for making determinations…. This is why our meetings have minutes. This is why meetings, trials, require a scribe or a secretary. Can we even envision a Church of the Councils– with none of the councils having documentation?… We have traditions, we have policies, canons, procedures. They are, for most people, incredibly boring. But to people who are sticklers for doing it right– they are our assurance that we have retained the actions going back to the time of the Apostles.

    How you seem to have deduced that I did not include oral traditions in “traditions” is somewhat beyond me, but it is irrelevant to the argument. The procedural aspects to which I referred in my original blog post concerning Abp Auxentios concern the by-laws of the Greek Church and the canons of the Church itself– things that are obviously not oral tradition, and not only written, but have substantial commentary concerning every line. Trasmuting what was canonically a farce of a trial into a mystical act no subject to canonical procedure is a unique but flawed counter to the reality that the events leading the trial and the events leading up to it were patently uncanonical.

    I’ve referred to the Synod of the Oak a couple of times on this because the Synod of the Oak’s proceedings were in fact nullified and a second council was reconvened to condemn St John. Even then, there was procedure, which is why St John, like Abp Auxentios, walked away from the proceedings– in the first place, they had no jurisdiction over him, and in the second, he refused to be judged by his accusers. Unlike Abp Auxentios, the persecutors of St John in fact did at least make multiple attempts against him. Apparently, the persecutors of Abp Auxentios didn’t see any need to bother with the inconvenience, canons notwithstanding!

    This over-mysticization of routine Church procedure– and the deposition of a Bishop is a routine procedure with a fairly straightforward process, one that the 1985 conspirators basically ignored since it would have worked against them– is a fairly recent phenomenon as official Orthodoxy “renews itself” through the ecumenical movement and has led to disastrous canonical anomalies; but it is alien to True Orthodox of all races.

    I would recommend you read the Dialogue of Palladius concerning the Life of St John Chrysostom. Besides the deep edification from such a holy life, it is also very educational on how trials were not to be conducted and precisely how seriously documentation “for those with legalistic scruples” was taken as far back as when the Church had committed only two Ecumenical Councils to its memory.

    http://www.tertullian.org/fathers/palla … 2_text.htm

    I would also advise trying to read my post in the spirit in which I tried to write it, which was not polemical but explanatory.

    Deacon Joseph

  • DcnJosephSuaiden 9:03 pm on January 20, 2014 Permalink | Reply

    More on the Milan Synod history and accountability 

    From a forum post.

    Dear _____:

    I was quite intent on not getting involved in this, but historical honesty is important to me. I’ll be putting this up on my blog, because you’ve covered two topics important to me personally– the Kyiv period and transparency.

    You wrote: The Milan Synod was in communion with the sergianist Kiev Patriarchate for almost 20 years.

    This is a completely false statement. In the first place the Kiev Patriarchate was not Sergianist at its highest levels until the rise of Filaret Denisenko in late 1995. The Milan Synod waited a year to see how Filaret would behave and whether he was honest. He was not. Communion was broken in early 1997, having been in communion with both Greece and Kyiv in 1993, and solely with Kyiv in 1994 with the repose of Abp Auxentios.

    At most, you are talking about one year of tenuous communion with someone who publicly actually *did* repent of Sergianism.

    You are likely basing your argument on Vladimir Moss’ polemic for the GOC-Chrysostomos at the time, which implies Milan joined Kyiv under Filaret in 1993 and that’s the end of the story. By contrast, I have looked at all the relevant documents of the period and interviewed Bishops of the Synod on the matter for my book. My Metropolitan joined Milan in 1997. He’ll be the first to tell you Filaret Denisenko was never commemorated in our Church in America. The first translation into English ever done of the Ukrainian Tomos was in my book. I sent Moss a polite letter pointing out his factual errors concerning the Milan Synod (he actually says we went “under ‘Patriarch’ Filaret” in 1993, when Filaret wasn’t even elected to the leadership of the KP till ’95). He hasn’t responded to this day although I noted the errors repeatedly, though he responded to me in other correspondence.

    You later wrote: Another thing I’ve learned is that not everything gets into the historical record; knowing people personally counts for a lot.

    No, no. Tsk. That’s when the devil pops in, see. The Church’s actions are not done in secret quarters with rumors and talk behind the backs of others. That is exactly how the Synod of the Oak was run. It is exactly how the 1985 deposition was run. One of the policies our Metropolia made clear since the Tomos was an absolute need for transparency. Milan was no stranger to pulling secret meetings and playing games. It is precisely this “it’s who you know” attitude that creates an environment lacking accountability on the part of the leadership to the flock.

    But putting aside the moral aspect of such a view is that the historical record is precisely what we use for making determinations. We do not base our separation from “official Orthodoxy” on our feelings but on the concrete actions which have severed communion between us. This is why our meetings have minutes. This is why meetings, trials, require a scribe or a secretary. Can we even envision a Church of the Councils– with none of the councils having documentation?

    I understood fully that my blog post would make people uncomfortable. Yet this is exactly the attitude I carry in my own Synod and with my own leadership, including the Metropolitan. We have traditions, we have policies, canons, procedures. They are, for most people, incredibly boring. But to people who are sticklers for doing it right– they are our assurance that we have retained the actions going back to the time of the Apostles. The answer to the finding of wrongdoing in the Church is not to hide it, but to fix it. I’ve had arguments with my Bishops when I’ve thought they were wrong. In an environment based on accountability, even the most heated of disagreement will produce a positive result. So no. Nobody is perfect. But we are called to be perfect, not to cover up our own imperfections and certainly, having so covered them, to give the pretense of absolute correctness.

    In this, many Matthewites are far more humble than the Florinites on the issue of deviation from good canonical order.

    Again, I am sorry if I offended, and I hope for this to be my last post on the matter.

  • DcnJosephSuaiden 6:57 am on January 20, 2014 Permalink | Reply  

    My last word on Abp Auxentios for the present 

    The Feast!

    The argument against the 1985 coup is not really complete just on the basis of Fr Basil’s letter in English or Greek, but Bp Makarios’ book. It is available in English (and in the original Greek with footnotes and documents) and is the first book on this page.

    I was going to write an argument to settle this once and for all, but it would appear even Bishop Moses understands that Abp Auxentios was the valid Archbishop (and that the reason for his reception with Sergios by chierothesia was the defrockment of Maximos, which frankly isn’t much better, but at least they are ceding the facts.)

    Unfortunately, waiting for someone’s dead to declare that all penalties were removed implies unresolved canonical issues for the current Synod. Further, Auxentios had open support from the Westerners (10 Bishops total). Moss discounts this by arguing they weren’t Bishops of the Greek Church. (Which begs the question as to whether he selectively recognizes the autonomy document when it’s convenient.)

    The basic reasons I can’t accept the 1985 trial as valid and that it was not a canonical trial are for a number of reasons: First, the canonical president left considering it schismatic, and the group which wanted to depose him worked on their own– technically once he walks out, if he or his assigned deputy is not in charge, the session must end or it is considered conspiracy. Further accusers cannot vote as judges (see Palladius on the Synod of the Oak). The innovators of 1979 moved themselves up illegally in the hierarchy during the reunion without Auxentios’ notice because they would’ve lacked the authority to continue the convention of Bishops with Auxentios or his assigned deputy (see Bp Makarios’ book). And that’s not touching the fact that none of the witnesses got their facts straight, the documents were forgeries (See Fr Basil’s letter), and they moved straight to deposition without trying a second or third attempt to convene with the president (See Bp Makarios’ book). Some of these reasons were the same reasons that the Synod of the Oak failed to legally depose St John Chrysostom (see Palladius).

    Further, they elected an Archbishop who was technically under suspension for years and whose see had already been replaced.

    In short, I don’t doubt that the Bishops of the GOC-Kallinikos are real Bishops; I just think their Synodical house remains out of order, because of a refusal to honestly assess their own guilt in the events of 1985. Either they believe they rightly deposed Auxentios or they didn’t. Their official position is that they did. For the above mentioned reasons, I believe they are completely wrong and acted to gain control of the Synod and the Church fund. When I bring these up, I usually get “well, we did reverse the deposition”. Fabulous. Now they should place charges on the remaining who are living who are guilty of illegally deposing their Archpastor. God is not mocked.

    A joyous feast to all.

  • DcnJosephSuaiden 10:11 pm on January 19, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Feasts   

    Epiphany? Theophany? Three Kings Day? Baptism of Christ? Which One? 

    Every year, about this time, we see the eternal debate on Orthodox boards whether “Epiphany” is a permissible term or “Theophany”. We will even see the argument adduced that the Western feast of Epiphany is a “cute” holiday, with the Magi giving Christ the gifts and the use of the term “Little Christmas”, whereas the feast of the Theophany celebrates the Baptism of Christ, where He is revealed to be God’s Son (which, of course, sounds way cooler).

    Such polemic is boring and nonsensical. If Westerners have abandoned the traditional understanding of the feast, this is not due to long-standing ignorance of 2,000 years– it is due to the textual reductions made after the schism of the West from Orthodoxy. Nor shall I deal with the meaning of both words used to describe the feast, one of which implies the other.

    In fact, the original Western understanding of the Feast of the Epiphany is even more complete, for it does not commemorate one event but three: the Adoration of the Magi, the Baptism of the Lord, and the Wedding at Cana. The first manifested to the world the Kingship of the Divine Child; the second the Divine Sonship of Our Lord Jesus Christ; and the last the partaking of the Son in the dominion over all Creation which belongs to the Father.

    May all have a joyous feast today!

  • DcnJosephSuaiden 2:16 am on January 6, 2014 Permalink | Reply  

    Answering an Allegedly “Orthodox Answer” on the Old Calendar 

    In response to the “Orthodox Answer” given about the Old and New Calendar, Fr Laurent Kleenewerk of the OCA quoted St John Chrysostom– “even if the Church made a mistake, exactness in the observance of times would not be as important as the offense caused by division and schism.” (More …)

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