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ELPENOR - Home of the Greek Word

Three Millennia of Greek Literature

Demetrios Constantelos

Greek Orthodoxy - From Apostolic Times to the Present Day













Page 17

It should be emphasized that as long as the Roman Catholic Church teaches the supremacy in authority and power of the bishop of Rome over all Christendom, there is little hope for progress in the ecumenical dialogue on the reunion of the Churches. The Orthodox Church would have no hesitation in accepting the bishop of Rome as the primus inter pares, the first among equals. But she would yield no other ground on that important subject.
To be sure, there are many similarities between the two churches, and they possess a common heritage in doctrine, ethics, and worship - on various aspects of Church life, the two differ only in outlook and method. For example concerning their attitude toward the mission of the Church in the world, "Catholics see the extension of the Church and the numbers of the faithful; the Orthodox see the depth of the Church and the quality of its members...; the exterior, social, quantitative or statistical facts are of little importance to them [the Orthodox]" in the words of the Roman Catholic theologian and metropolitan Andrew Sheptysky.

  Elpenor's note : Is the "primacy of numbers" against quality a superficial difference, just a difference "in outlook and method"? In such a case statistical facts should have for the Orthodox the same importance as qualitative. This change happens indeed in our days, when Orthodox bishops count Christians by baptism certificates, ignoring the fact that, for example, in Greece half of the population has lost its faith, in Russia an atheist and totalitarian regime was made possible for several decades, etc. Estimating Christianity by numbers is by itself a symptom of serious illness, a characteristic of the mentality of the faceless mass. Even more characteristics of the mass-mentality are also evident in the Orthodox East after their proliferation in the West, most important among them being the exiting of the Life of the Church, that is Theology, from personal relationship, and its transformation into a quasi-science. This is the opposite of the embrace of classical Greek authors that happened in the beginnings of the Church, when the relationship between an elder and his pupil wanted also for theological studying to be personal, subject not to curricula, examinations and degrees, but to discernment of the significant authors and to personal spiritual experience.

There were several trends in Medieval Greek Christianity, which to some degree persist to the present day. There is evangelical and fundamentalist Orthodox Christianity, emphasizing traditionalism and Biblicism as the major criteria of Orthodoxy. This has been the faith of the monks, the conservative clergy, and the common folk, and it can be traced back to theologians like Anastasios Sinaites, John Chrysostom, Theodore Studites, and others. Mysticism has nurtured several independent minds and has been a powerful trend in Orthodoxy from as early as the Byzantine era. In the persons of Maximos the Confessor, Symeon the New Theologian, Gregory Palamas, and Nicholas Kabasilas, Orthodox mysticism was developed into a profound theology that has become the subject of many studies in recent years. ...
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Three Millennia of Greek Literature

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