– 1a March 8/21, 2001
March 8/21, 2001
Dear Fr. Gregory,
“I am in complete agreement with your proposed conditions for dialogue. The one thing I cannot promise is to reply too quickly. The reason for this, apart from various matters, may prove to be my trip to Suzdal, planned for the immediate future. I do have one request for you (on which I am by no means able to insist). Inasmuch as you will be the one asking questions (at least in the beginning), I would request that you provide your version of a response with every question.”
Do not hurry, dear Father. I will not hurry, either. And, of course, I do not claim to be the only one permitted to pose questions. This, after all, is a dialogue, not an interrogation. And the goal of the dialogue is not to try to catch each other on various errors, absurdities, and heresies, but to try peacefully and dispassionately to determine the truth and, if possible, to reach a common position.
Thus, let us now move to the first category of topics: imiaslavie [name-praising] and imiabozhie [name-worshipping].
My first question is: What is your attitude towards the condemnation of imiaslavie, i.e., the teaching that the Name of God is God Himself, pronounced by the Holy Kinot [Council] of the Holy Mountain, by Patriarch Germanos of Constantinople and the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, and by the Most Holy Synod of the Russian Church?
I have in mind:
1. The condemnation of imiaslavie pronounced by the Holy Kinot of the Holy Mountain (February 2, 1913). The Holy Kinot subjected to suspension the leaders of the imiaslavtsy, Hieroschemamonk Antonii Bulatovich and Archimandrite David, “as ill-praisers,” and simultaneously excommunicated the entire St. Andrew’s Skete.
2. The agreement of Patriarch Germanos V of Constantinople and the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Constantinople with the decision of the Holy Kinot of Mount Athos (April 5, 1913). “If, even after this second ecclesiastical reprimand, there will be found someone maintaining the ill-praising opinion who of his own volition continues to uphold this unfounded teaching about the name ‘Jesus’ as the Being of God Himself, such shall be subject to measures defined by the ecclesiastic canons, as heretics and disturbers of ecclesiastical confession.”
3. The subscription of the Russian Most Holy Synod to the decision of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. “For the sake of attaining the greatest possible impartiality, the Most Holy Synod heard three reports compiled independently from one another and, upon sufficient deliberation, unanimously subscribed to the final conclusion of these reports; moreover these conclusions correspond wholly to the decisions of the Greek theologians from the Island of Halki, as well as to the decision of the Holy Ecumenical Patriarch and his synod... The Name of God is only a name, and not God Himself and not His attribute; it is the name of an object, and not the object itself, and therefore cannot be either considered or called God, which would be senseless and blasphemous, nor Divine, because it is also not God’s energy.”
4. Definition number 7644 of the Russian Holy Synod (August 27, 1913), which conferred to the heretics the title of “imiabozhniki”; the monastic rank of all imiabozhniki is not recognized until their whole-hearted repentance.
5. The subscription of Patriarch Germanos to the measures taken by the Higher Russian Ecclesiastical authority against the imiabozhniki (Epistle of December 11, 1913).
6. The Statement of the Russian Most Holy Synod of March 10-24, 1914, number 4136, “regarding Hieroschemamonk Antonii (Bulatovich) and Archimandrite David, to hold individual judgment.” It was permitted for their followers to stay in the monastery, but “to avoid any possible misunderstandings, to charge the Synodal office and Bishop Modest to bring the admonished monks to the realization that the teachings of the imiabozhniki, ascribed to Antonii (Bulatovich) and his followers, are condemned by the Most Holy Synod of the Russian Church and that, by showing lenience to the weaknesses of the errant, the Holy Synod does not amend its previous judgment about the error itself.”
7. Definition number 2620 of the Russian Most Holy Synod from March 1916, confirming the fundamental rule that all imiabozhniki are excluded not only from conducting Church sacraments, but also from participating in these until repentance.
8. The confirmation of the pre-revolutionary decisions
and depositions of the imiabozhniki
by His Holiness, Patriarch Tikhon (October 21, 1918).
The reply of Hieromonk Gregory