Tag Archives: Paul Ladouceur

Human Beings or Human Persons?

by Paul Ladouceur

Vlachos-Zizioulas

Met. Hierotheos (Vlachos) and Met. John (Zizioulas)

One of the liveliest exchanges at the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church in June 2016 concerned which Greek words should be used in Council documents to refer to humans: anthrōpos (“human being”); or anthrōpino prosōpo (or simply prosōpon) (“human person”). The main protagonists in this debate were, in the anthrōpos corner, Metropolitan Hierotheos (Vlachos), and in the prosōpon corner, Metropolitan John (Zizioulas), supported by Metropolitan Kallistos (Ware). While this episode may seem to be an intra-Greek linguistic spat, the theological stakes are very high. Continue Reading…

On Ecumenoclasm: Salvation for Non-Christians?

by Paul Ladouceur

last judgment

Early Christian thinking on non-Christian religions was conditioned by the official paganism of the Roman Empire, Greek philosophy, Christianity’s relationships with Judaism and flourishing mystery cults. Later, Orthodoxy had extensive historical experience, often but not entirely negative, as a religious minority under non-Christian regimes in Persia, the Middle East and the Ottoman Empire. Christian communities under Muslim rule were frequently in a survival mode, which made theological reflection on the meaning of religious diversity in God’s plan for salvation next to impossible. Only in recent times have Orthodox begun to consider the theological significance of religious diversity, especially as Orthodoxy is increasingly challenged with this reality both in countries of Orthodox immigration in Western Europe and North America, and increasingly in countries of Orthodox tradition. Continue Reading…

On Ecumenoclasm: Let Us Pray?

by Paul Ladouceur

Orthodox opponents to ecumenism are highly critical of Orthodox participation in prayer and other services in common with non-Orthodox Christians. This opposition is usually based on ancient canons forbidding prayer with “heretics and schismatics.” Among frequently cited canons are Apostolic Canons 10, 11, 45, 65 and 71. Apostolic Canon 10, for example, reads: “If one who is not in communion prays together, even at home, let him be excommunicated;” and Canon 45: “Let any bishop, or presbyter, or deacon that merely joins in prayer with heretics be suspended, but if he had permitted them to perform any service as clergymen, let him be deposed.” (See, for example, here and here.)

Referring to ancient canons is relevant to Orthodox involvement in ecumenical prayer services, but several major qualifications are in order. Continue Reading…

On Ecumenoclasm: Who Is a Heretic?

by Paul Ladouceur

One of the preferred weapons of Orthodox opponents of ecumenism is to call ecumenism a heresy and to refer to non-Orthodox, and indeed often Orthodox who support ecumenism, as heretics. Examples abound, for example in documents emanating from the Russian Orthodox Church outside of Russia (ROCOR) and in the writings of St. Justin Popovich. For ROCOR’s Metropolitan Philaret, Catholics and Protestants are “modern preachers of heresy” and the World Council of Churches, the union “of all possible heresies.” In a 1974 letter, Justin Popovich refers to all non-Orthodox Christians as “heretics.” But the ultimate weapon of Orthodox anti-ecumenists is to describe ecumenism as “the heresy of heresies.” Continue Reading…