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The Clash between Orthodox Patristic Theology and Franco-Latin Tradition
By His Eminence Fr. Jeremiah Foundas
Metropolitan of Gortyna and Megalopolis,
Professor of the Athens University School of Theology
© A publication of the Holy Metropolis of Gortyna and Megalopolis
Dimitsana, Megalopolis of Arcadia Province, 2007
  ISBN: 978-960-89712-02

















To start with, I feel it necessary to write a few words about the Franco-latins, whose theology is completely opposed to ours; this is precisely our topic here [1]. The once united Christian Roman Empire used to be known as a whole under the name of "Romania" [= Land of the Romans] and would be arranged into western and eastern sectors. Rome, the capital of the Empire, belonged to its western sector although it would have been better had it been in the East. For this reason, Constantine the Great transferred the capital to the city of Byzantium and named it New Rome initially; eventually, however, it received his name and became known as "Constantinople" [= Constantine's City].


Both Western and Eastern sectors of the United Christian Roman Empire (i.e. of Romania) faced enemies. For the West, which is of interest to us here, the main enemies were the Franks, barbaric and uncivilised peoples. Eventually, the Franks managed to subjugate the Western sector of the Empire and in order to appear as the true successors of this Roman Empire named themselves Romans; whereas Romans, "Neoromans" [= the Hellenic word “Rhomaios” (m.) or “Rhomaia” (f.), in Latin “Roman”, would also be pronounced as "Rhomios" (m.) and “Rhomia” (f.) transliterated here as “Neoroman”; after the Fall of the Empire, in 1453, the term “Rhomios” and Roman were used interchangebly,  exclusively among the populations of the Eastern sector of the fallen Empire] are and should be called as such only we Orthodox. (For this reason we must ensure, with great care, to avoid calling the Franks as "Romans" or, worse, to call their confession as "the Roman Catholic Church"!)


In order for the Franks to cut off the conquered Romans of the western sector completely from their other Orthodox brethren of the eastern sector, they dragged out of their vocabulary an insulting name which they used to call the eastern Romans with. They called them "Greeks" which [in this usage] means "impostors". And later, they called them "Byzantines". Whereas the old glorious name "Roman" or "Neoroman" (Rhomios), which used to signify the western and eastern Orthodox of the united Empire, the Franks kept for themselves and for those subjugated to them. But the Franks, after subjugating the Western sector of the Empire, realised then that they will have a complete sovereign over the West if somehow they managed to subjugate the Church and to give their own theology to the Christians living in the West. But did the Franks have a theology to give? By the 8th century, the Franks had already received the existing theology of Blessed Augustine, who, as the great Fr. John Romanides tells us, and as we shall prove in our present study, "essentially ignored the Patristic theology and its presuppositions". The Franks managed, in the end, to subjugate the Church of the enslaved Orthodox Christians of the West by the 11th century (AD 1014-1046) and to impose upon them their own Augustinian theology, which however does not express the patristic tradition.


We shall call the heretical Franks as Franks; neither Romans nor Catholics, since Romans and Catholics are we the Orthodox. Because the Franks received the Latin tongue as their ecclesiastic and theological language, they wished to be known as "Latins"; for this reason we call them "Franco-latins". This however does not mean that we confuse the Latin-written Patristic tradition with the Frankish one and that we reject the holy Fathers who wrote in the Latin tongue; nor, again, do we make an erroneous distinction between Hellenic and Latin Fathers. We accept Orthodox (Neoroman) Fathers some of whom wrote in the Hellenic tongue and others who wrote in the Latin tongue. [2]


After the above necessary introductory material, we come to our main topic.




I will begin my speech with the holy Fathers first. We the Orthodox have Fathers and our God we glorify as "God of our Fathers". Every worshipping Gathering (Synaxis) as well as our personal prayers all end with "Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers". Many years have passed since the slogan "return to the Fathers" was first given; and many patristic studies and projects have taken place since then and continue to do so. However, the deep understanding of the Fathers is achieved only by those who follow the method and way of life of the Holy Fathers in their lives. And this is logical indeed: the saint understands the Saint. It is not possible to understand the experiences and the theology of the Holy Fathers through scientific methods, because their God-bearing lives (as well as the “theopties”(*) of the Holy Fathers and the theology emanating from them) transcend the powers of logic and science, and for this reason they cannot belong to the realm of scientific study. Nor again, can we interpret the Holy Fathers with the aid of psychology, for theosis, namely the situation which the Holy Fathers would live, is neither physical nor against nature (para physin), in order for psychology to intervene, but is a supranatural state of man. For this reason, we repeat that the deep understanding of the Fathers is achieved only by those who live the way the Fathers did and have experiences of that way of life's experiences. Very beautiful are the words of the ever-memorable Professor and great Theologian of our century Fr. John Romanides:


"Theosis (deification or glorification) or in-God theoria (divine contemplation) is an uncreated energy of God, transcending all created categorems, to which only the engraced Prophets, Apostles and Saints take part. Only the one having the experience under consideration becomes perceived by the one having the same experience and NEVER by anyone else, particularly by a heterodox or one who does not have an INNER knowledge of the Biblical-Patristic theology of the mystical life in Christ of the Ecclesia" [3].


Nevertheless, the heterodox also conduct patristic studies and in fact believe that they can understand the patristic tradition deeply and even better than those initiated in it, namely by us the Orthodox. This arises from the proud perception of the Franco-latins that the intellectual can, through his powerful logic and learning, enter the depths of the patristic tradition and to understand it absolutely, even if he is extraneous to it. The problem though is that this arrogance of Western intellectuals also persists among some Orthodox circles, with the result of not having a correct understanding of the Fathers by us Orthodox, so long as we do not entertain the correct spiritual presuppositions inside us for their study, namely the battle for the cleansing of the heart from the passions and the arrival of the Grace of the Holy Spirit inside it. In other words, we deal with theological studies without first having carried out the patristic presupposition of cleansing our heart from our passions.


The heterodox scholars of the Fathers have gravely erroneous presuppositions for their studies; they have theological and philosophical presuppositions foreign to the Biblical-Patristic theology of the Ecumenical Synods. For this reason they are unable to provide a proper presentation of our Holy Fathers. Let us not be impressed one bit by their patristic studies because they are, we repeat, erroneous, for they study the Fathers in the manner of Blessed Augustine’s thinking.  Fr. Romanides tells us: "When the Franks acquired finally a small familiarity with the Hellenic Patristic texts, they subdued Patristic theology to the categorems of the Augustinian theology, exactly as they also did in the 13th century with Aristotelian philosophy. Thus we see the works of the Hellenic-speaking Roman Fathers translated into Latin through the prism of Augustine" [4].




The most erroneous amongst the presuppositions with which the Franks study the Holy Fathers is that they do not accept the Fathers' unity but admit camps between them. They believe that there exist differing patristic theologies and therefore differing types of spirituality, while we Orthodox believe in the unity of the Holy Fathers and reject the idea that any Father can be led to novelties. If one innovates he cannot belong to the Fathers.


The belief that there exist various Orthodox patristic traditions and different schools of theological thought stems from the Franco-latin or Scholastic tradition and is not met in the Fathers. Unfortunately there are also some among our Orthodox theologians who are in agreement with the Franco-latins accepting the presence of Holy-Patristic camps; even the view that some among the Fathers innovate on some points [5]. Thus, they divide the Fathers into social, neptic or even dogmatic and they tell us about St. Gregory Palamas, for example, that he innovated and call his theology as "Palamism"; in other words, as his own creation. Whereas others, Franco-latins and some of us Orthodox, who believe in the presence of camps and ability for the Fathers to innovate, characterise the spirituality of this great among our Saints as superior to the until-then existing patristic tradition, while conversely others characterise it as inferior to it. At any rate, both of these types believe it to be novel teaching and life. The truth however is that Gregory Palamas follows the one and united patristic tradition in everything, just like all the other Holy Fathers do.


Another thing is that the Franco-latins do not see the unity of the Holy Bible with the Fathers, but characterise the biblical tradition as different from the patristic one. Also, Western Man sees a variety of biblical theologies in the same way he sees a variety of patristic theologies. For this reason, according to the Franco-latins, every writer of the Old and New Testaments has their own personal theology.


The reason that we Orthodox see the unity of the Holy Fathers with the unity of the Biblical and Patristic theology is that the God-giving Grace of which the Prophets, the Apostles (who wrote the Holy Bible) and the Holy Fathers partake is ONE.


I will now cite the following beautiful excerpt from Fr. John Romanides:


"Contrary to the Franco-latin, Protestant and other modern Western perceptions on diversity in Biblical and Patristic theology, Orthodox Romanity would always find the unity of the Biblical and Patristic theology in the identification of the in-God theoria or theosis of the Prophets, Apostles and Saints. The theology and spirituality of the Holy Writ and of the Fathers is a cohesive one, for the God-giving Grace of which the God-bearing (Theumen) Prophets, Apostles and Saints partook is such. The charisms of the Holy Spirit are numerous and the degree to which each one communes with these charisms varies; but the undividedly dividable and incommunally communicable Grace and Reign ("Kingdom") of Christ is one, as this becomes perceived by the Theumens. For this reason exactly their theology is one, despite the linguistic variety found among the Saints.



Exactly because the correct understanding of the in-God theoria achieved by the Theumens is absent from the theology and hermeneutics of the Augustinian Franco-latin Tradition, its Western inheritors are unable to comprehend the nature and character of the theological and spiritual identity of the Holy Bible and of the Fathers of the Church, as well as of the unity of the Fathers between them. Those who are found under the influence of Western Orthodox have a similar fate." [6]


So, in order for us to conclude this section we have to say:


Those who wish to make a proper study of the Holy Fathers need to clarify their position: Do they accept the unity of the Holy Bible with the Holy Fathers and the unity between the Holy Fathers? If yes, then they speak orthodoxically. According to professor Fr. John Romanides, the one who wishes to study the Fathers should "ideally, from a theological and spiritual viewpoint, look for a genuine spiritual father in order to be initiated to the mysteries of the Orthodox tradition through him and, after having found himself along this initiation path, to study the Holy Bible intensively and at the same time study its Patristic hermeneutics. Thus he will determine empirically if there is a difference 1) between the Fathers and the Holy Bible, 2) between the Fathers and 3) between Palamas and the Fathers". [7]


Blessed Augustine does not belong to the Holy Fathers because he innovated. As it is generally agreed, Augustine cut himself off the patristic Tradition, without however himself having realised this, as Fr. Romanides notes. The problem for Blessed Augustine is that he never studied those Fathers who wrote in Hellenic, for he did not know how to read in Hellenic. He had been theologically isolated. He theologised based only on the Holy Writ and on his powerful logic, based on the motto "Credo ut intelligam" (= I believe in order to comprehend), which became a theological slogan of the Franks, as we shall see later. He was however humble and wanted to agree with the Fathers [8]; and had they admonished him for his erroneous writings and forced him to correction, "certainly -- Fr. Romanides tells us -- he would have accepted their corrections, since he himself declared the wish to agree in everything with the Hellenistic-writing Fathers, whom he had never been in a position to study. It is however clear that he had not even studied Ambrosius". [9] Saint Ambrosius, who appears as a teacher of blessed Augustine, follows the Hellenic-speaking Roman (Orthodox) Fathers of the East faithfully in everything. He innovates in nothing. Between Ambrosius and Augustine we find many differences. It is enough for us to note the vast difference between their views on theophany in the Old Testament. Saint Ambrosius, following the uniform tradition of the Holy Bible and of the Fathers absolutely, accepts that the Angel of God who appeared to the Prophets, the Angel of Glory, Angel of Great Counsel or Lord of Glory is the very Logos of God, Christ. Blessed Augustine however calls all those who support that the very Logos Himself appeared to the Prophets without an intermediary as blasphemous. But in our present study we shall also talk about other innovations of blessed Augustine.




But we also have another plani (delusion) of the Franco-latins about the Fathers; similar to the aforementioned yet worse: That patristic theology ended after Photius the Great. The worst thing is that this idea on termination of the patristic theology found fertile ground even on Orthodox Hellenic soil. The issue is simple and is as follows:


Early 9th century AD finds the Franks introducing the Filioque (viz. that the Holy Spirit proceeds not only from the Father but also from the Son) to the Symbol of our Faith (Creed). Then, all five Roman Patriarchates (of Rome, New Rome, Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem) condemned formally this Frankish teaching as heretical in the EIGHTH ECUMENICAL SYNOD (AD 879). Since the Franks could not any more recognise as Fathers those who fought against their filioque, for this reason they were forced to theorize that patristic theological tradition ended in the 8th century. After all, the Franks had also condemned in AD 794 the SEVENTH Ecumenical Synod; thus they did not even accept John the Damascene as a Father of the Church. Later on, however, during the 12th century, under pressure by the Italian-Lombards and by the occupied Romans of Southern Italy, the Franks were forced to finally accept the Seventh Ecumenical Synod. Thus they included Saint John the Damascene among the Fathers of the Church. To this day the Westerners believe that the last "Greek" Father of the Church is Saint John the Damascene.


This view, or rather this heresy, about a supposed termination of the patristic period, also became accepted by the Russians [10], with the difference that the last Father was considered by them to be Photius the Great. Thus the Russians included among the Fathers of the Church one Father who fought against the filioque. The problem though is that this heresy on termination of the patristic theology also became accepted by some modern Greeks [11], who speak about the old "patristic period" and that there are no more Holy Fathers in our age.


Those Franks, Russians and together with them modern Greeks who accept that the patristic theological period has ended have been excommunicated by our Church; since, when the Synod of Constantinople in AD 1368 proclaimed Gregory Palamas not only as a "Saint" of our Church but also as a "Father", it excommunicated all those who do not accept him as a Father of equal status to the older Fathers of our Church. However, Saint Gregory Palamas lived during the 13th century, in other words much later than Saint John the Damascene or Saint Photius, who are considered by the above groups as the last Fathers of the Church.


That is:


Through the synodal recognition of Saint Gregory Palamas as a Father and the excommunication of all those who do not accept him as a Father of equal status to the older Fathers of the Church, the Franco-latin heresy on the termination of the patristic age was condemned as such and the Franco-latins themselves were excommunicated.


Despite the sophist jabbers of Franks and Russians alike on supposed termination of the Fathers until the Damascene or until Photius, we Orthodox, even during this harsh and dark period of Turkocracy, brought living carriers of the genuine theology and spirituality of the older Holy Fathers, such as: Nicodemus the Hagiorite, Eugenius Bulgaris, Nicephorus Theotokes, Athanasius of Paros, Macarius Notaras, Cosmas of Aetolia, Maximus the Greek, Pachomius Russanus, Gennadius Scholarius, Jacob Monachus, Maximus of Peloponnese, Agapius Lardus together with Hierarchs and Patriarchs who participated in so many Synods from the 17th until the 19th centuries.


The delusion (plani) that the patristic theology had been terminated was combated specifically and eventually defeated by the profound theologian Fr. Florovsky; and this way our own Orthodox, who had been influenced by the Franks, were helped and accepted the patristic theology beyond Photius the Great.


At any rate, in order for us to be able to confront successfully the whole issue of the termination of the patristic theology it is needful for us to study well what the Church (Ecclesia) is [12] and what the meaning of the word "Father" is. As a simple, but powerful argument against the idea on the termination of the Fathers, we give the following: Every era has vital spiritual problems and crises to tackle to which the Ecclesia, through her Fathers, gives the solution; in other words, we are always in need of Fathers. But we always find the Holy Spirit in the Ecclesia Who designates Fathers. If they claim that the patristic period has ended, when we always have the need of the presence of Fathers, it is as if they are saying the blasphemy that the Holy Spirit stopped working its presence in the Ecclesia...




But, if according to the Franks the patristic age ended with Saint John the Damascene or with Photius the Great, what shall we have in their place to follow? The Franks offer us their Scholastic theology even claiming that this theology went above the terminated patristic theology! ... Those among our own Orthodox, who were accepting of a termination of the patristic tradition, would present as a continuation of this tradition badly written catechetical-dogmatic studies, in imitation of the Franks, as well as other scholastic theological works. Whereas, as we already said above, the Ecclesia always had her Fathers even during the difficult period of Turkocracy.


The belief that the Scholastic Franks exceeded the Holy Fathers has as its main source the opinion of Blessed Augustine that: the teaching on the Filioque constitutes a solution to a theological problem, which (allegedly) had not been resolved by the Fathers of the Second Ecumenical Synod.


Augustine in one of his talks in AD 393 in front of the Holy Synod of Africa about the Symbol of the Second Ecumenical Synod, told the Bishops the following erroneous and strange thing: That the hypostatic property of the Holy Spirit is, unlike that of the Father and of the Son, a problem for the Ecclesia, which problem remained unsolved during the Second Ecumenical Synod. Neither knowing how to speak in Hellenic -- as he himself informs us elsewhere -- nor having studied the Latin works of his time on the Holy Trinity, he did not know that the issue in question was neither a problem nor much more so an unsolved one. Nevertheless, living in theological isolation, without having the aid of the related patristic works on the subject, he spent all his efforts for the next 35 years trying to find a solution. And indeed he came up with a solution by contemplation based on Neo-Platonic philosophy (stochasm): the Filioque!


This "solution" of blessed Augustine did the Franks discover in the 8th century and added it to the Symbol of the Faith. And together with the Filioque, the Franks adopted the (also erroneous) opinion of Augustine that the Ecclesia, with the passing of time, is led through the help of "thinkers" ("stochastics") to the better understanding of the dogmas, as he had supposedly found the solution that the Ecclesia sought as regards the hypostatic property of the Holy Spirit, a solution that the Fathers of the Second Ecumenical Synod had not been in a position to find.


When the Russians, like the Franks before them, adopted the Scholastic theological method and the Latin tongue as the official theological language (in the 18th century), they also adopted the belief that they went beyond the theology of the Romans (Orthodox) of the Ottoman Empire. The strange thing though is that there were some Neo-Hellene [modern Greek] theologians who, inlfuenced by the Franks and the Russians, would apologise for a number of years to the Franks and to the Frankicised Russia because they had not received a Scholastic and Systematic theology of the form found in (Western) Europe during the years of Turkocracy. They would however promise that they would make a great effort to also create such a theology, so that they could soon reach the supposed theological heights of (Western) Europe. Today however, when (Western) European theology has been fully dismantled, many European theologians return to the Patristic Tradition. Thus many modern Greeks [Neo-Hellenes] also return to the Patristic Tradition by imitating them. But the great father John Romanides complains:


"Unfortunately, though, instead of trying to theologise within the hermeneutic tradition of the Fathers, they use as a hermeneutical key their Western teachers. In other words, they interpret the Fathers based on the presuppositions of Western theology and problem-solving and thus, neither the theology nor the spirituality of the Fathers do they comprehend. The reason for this is that the Patristic theology and spirituality, as this appears in the writings of the Fathers, is perceived only to those who have the same spiritual experience with the Fathers.[13] This theology is a hidden mystery, exactly as the theology of the Holy Writ is a mystery. It is inaccessible to all academic methods. Only those who have the Grace understand the Grace, which they receive through fasting and prayer under the guidance of a spiritual father who has the Grace of theoria (divine contemplation)" [14]




During the middle of the 19th century, some Russian intellectuals became greatly impressed by the Orthodox hesychasm of the Holy Mountain that had reached Russia. However they did not apprehend its depths, for they placed it among their theories of Slavonic superiority. That is, they said that the hesychasm of the "gerondic" type is their own characteristic and that it is a characteristic of the Russian tradition and mentality and does not belong to the "Latin" and "Greek" Christianity, as they called it. [15] This way, the Russians believed that they surpassed the "Greeks" and their Scholasticism; they went above them with their Russian hesychasm. Due to the intensive Russian propaganda in the West this idea on the superiority of Russian scholasticism and hesychasm became a conscience to the heterodox, but also in our land. As a result we have the ignorance and even scorn (even in Greece) by some people against the Patristic theology and Orthodox hesychasm; and we also have the situation where even Hellene theologians look to the foreign ones for guidance because they, supposedly due to their natural identity and idiosyncrasy, understood theology and hesychasm better than we did. Exactly this was what the Slavophil proponents of Alexis Khomiakov would propagandise loudly: That they the Slavs, due to their natural idiosyncrasy and mentality, understood Christianity better than the "Latins" and the "Greeks"! ...


Wrong! Because the Hagiorite [=mountain Athos] Fathers who had entered Russia through Moldovlachia and brought hesychasm to them had been Hellenic-speaking Romans and not Slavs. Apart from this, the Grace of God, which sanctifies and glorifies us (theosis), has no relation to national chauvinism but instead visits and supports every man who seeks God, whatever nation he may come from, so that he may live the Mystery of our faith and achieve his sanctification. The things that professor Fr. John Romanides write are very beautiful:


"The bedrock of hesychasm is theosis (deification/glorification), which wins over nature and makes men gods by grace. This is the source of the highest possible in-world understanding of theology, which transcends the nature of logos (speech, reason) and of the nous of man and has no connection to any national chauvinism. The fact that the majority of the ones glorified (those having attained theosis) during the historical course of the Ecclesia have been Hellenic-speaking Roman Fathers and Saints of the Ecclesia, does not mean that the faithful people of other tongues and nationalities cannot become equally God-bearing; but it also does not mean that they can become higher theologically and spiritually. We certainly meet higher and differing stages in Theosis, such as Ellamcis (Illumination), Thea (View) and Synechis Thea (Continual View); but these have no relation to any ethnic idiosyncrasy. The Apostles on Mount Tabor and during Pentecost received theosis in the highest possible degree found in this life while Moses would contemplate (theoria) the glory of Christ on Mount Sinai for forty days and nights. These were neither Hellenes, nor Latins; but also not Slavs". [16]


The above also apply to Plevris [=a known Greek political nationalist who denies the Old Testament because it is a “work of the Jews”], as regards the unhistorical and blasphemous things he says and writes. But we shall deal with these unhistorical blasphemies in a special study of ours.


Of course, modern Greek [Neo-Hellene] theologians did not accept Russian hesychasm absolutely, the so-called "Russian mysticism", and reacted against it. However, instead of turning to the real and true hesychasm of our Ecclesia they turned instead with awe, as a counter-reaction to the Russian mysticism, towards a non-hesychast, as they imagined it, and also supposedly non-ascetical tradition of the Great Fathers who lived before Photius, who supposedly had been men of action and of philosophical contemplation (stochasm) and not of mysticism. And these pitiful modern Greeks believed that by thinking and acting this way they were acting in an Orthodox manner, since: on the one hand they were fighting against the erroneous, indeed, Russian mysticism; and on the other hand they were turning to the Fathers; whom though they would blaspheme since, on one hand they would terminate the Patristic era in the times of Photius the Great and on the other hand – since these modern Greeks had not tasted hesychasm – they would present the Fathers as non-hesychasts, as social men, as men of action with philosophical stochasm, certainly not as ... inactive monks!


And the great theologian of our century Fr. John Romanides laments as he writes:


"A result of the above entirely destructive events for Orthodoxy, was that the modern theology of the Russians and modern Greeks not only did it not contribute to the incorporation of the young people to traditional hesychast monasticism, but instead contributed to some modern Greeks following the Russians in their scorn of traditional monasticism and to the admiration of the Frankish monastic orders. This way the religious brotherhoods came into existence [in Greece] with strong feelings of inferiority opposite Western Christianity, whose works they would translate and scatter among the Hellenic Orthodox population. The strange thing is that the religious brotherhoods would react by instinct against the Academic theology of the modern Greeks, would love the Fathers, but at the same time would stay victims of the modernist perception of the Fathers as presented above, and would imitate an imaginary picture they had created in their minds about them, which picture would differ from the dominant hesychastic monasticism during Turkocracy in an essential manner. And this is because they would accept the distinction in question between the Great Fathers and the ascetic Saints beyond Photius the Great who were supposedly not Fathers". [17]





The Protestants knew well that the Augustinian theology and the Frankish Scholastic theology that had been influenced by it, ruled under the strong influence of Plato and Aristotle. However, a proud feeling of superiority developed eventually opposite to any older type of theology, mainly among German circles of theology and philosophy, because the Germans believed that they had cultivated a higher theology based on modern European philosophies and not based on Plato and Aristotle, from whose philosophy the theology of Augustine had been influenced and from it the scholasticism of the Franks. The Germans, like their Frankish ancestors, being unaware of the Roman Patristic tradition, believed that the Hellenic, the "Greek" as they would call them, Fathers had also been influenced, like the Franks had had, from the Hellene philosophers and thus had adulterated Christianity through their influence from Hellenic philosophy.


The sad thing though is that some modern Greeks also believed in the science of (Western) Europe and admitted that the Patristic theology is based on Hellenic philosophy. As Hellenes, though, they accepted this erroneous and heretical theory with patriotic enthusiasm, without of course accepting the adulteration of Christianity by the Fathers due to their supposed influence by Hellenic philosophy. So: the encouragement of many Hellene theologians, older and modern (particularly of Plevris) to study the Hellenic philosophy with admiration because supposedly that is the one the Fathers had studied and through it wrote all the wise things they did, is based on the aforementioned theory of the Protestants; which theory had been presented by them in a negative sense, however, in order to claim that Christianity had been adulterated by the Fathers due to their influence by the Hellenic philosophers. Nevertheless, it became accepted by the Modern Greeks due to their nationalism.


Of course, the Russians, and in general the Slavs, as Orthodox that they were, could not accept such theories, namely that the "Greek" Fathers, the Fathers of the Ecumenical Synods, had adulterated Christianity; they supported however the theory that the "Greeks" and the "Latins", as Cussites that they were, had not comprehended Christianity in depth, in a manner similar to the one that they, the Iranian Slavs, had done. And this was because the natural ethnic philosophy and ideology of the Slavs had supposedly contributed better than any other theology to the comprehension of Christianity.


A strong and effective blow to the above theories, namely of the supposed adulteration of Christianity by the "Greek" Fathers due to a supposed influence of theirs by Hellenic philosophy and their inability to fully comprehend it, because, again, they were "Greeks", was brought by the greatest Russian theologian of the 20th century, Professor and protopresbyter Fr. George Florovsky. For more than half a century, the great Fr. Florovsky would strongly check the Russians who supported the view that the Fathers had not comprehended Christianity in a sufficient manner because they were "Greeks" whereas they, as Iranian Slavs that they were, with their ideology supposedly understood it fully; and he would also check the Protestants strongly who would claim that the Fathers had supposedly adulterated Christianity due to their supposed influence by Hellenic philosophy, whereas they, thanks to their modern European philosophy, had understood Christianity in a better way.


Fr. Florovsky stressed the permanent importance of the Hellenism of the Fathers for Christianity. Working together with other Roman theologians from Hellas and Constantinople, he contributed to the return to the Fathers and their hesychasm as the bedrock of Orthodox theology and spirituality. Thus the necessary presuppositions were created for the correct understanding of the Fathers beyond Photius the Great and particularly of Saint Gregory Palamas. For, as we said in the beginning, Fr. Florovsky contributed more than anyone else to the vitiation of the idea on the termination of the patristic theology and proved that the patristic theology continues safely even after Photius.




However, some of the late modern Russian theologians, even though they became convinced by the theological struggle of Fr. Florovsky that it is an absolute priority that they return to the Fathers, rejected the Fathers' Hellenism or the "Hellenising" Fathers, as they called them. They supported that we must return to the "Biblicising" Fathers, to whom they supposedly belong to as well. It is clear at this point that the Russians did not manage to cut themselves off their Slavophil feelings and divided the Fathers to Biblicising and Hellenising or "Graecising", as they would call them.


This heresy was established on one hand by the Russians, and especially by John Meyerdorff [18]; however its source can once again be traced to the Protestants: in the 19th century the Protestants started to realise that the theology of the Holy Writ was not in everything the same with the theology that was only known to them, namely their Augustinian patristic theology, which is based on the Hellene philosophers, Plato and Aristotle. Thus, a myth was created very easily and an unheard-of plani was propagated by the Russians on the existence of Hellenising Fathers who adulterated Christianity, and on the existence of Biblicising Fathers. However, the Russians would believe in addition that the "Graecising", as they would call them, i.e. Hellenising Fathers, also represent a tradition, the Hellenising Patristic tradition, to which Great Fathers belong to [19]; but these Fathers had adulterated Christianity with their Hellenic philosophy.


During the times of Saint Gregory Palamas head of this Tradition of the Hellenising Fathers supposedly was Barlaam. And head of the Biblicising tradition supposedly was Saint Gregory Palamas [20].


This heresy is dreadful; that is: the Patristic Tradition is dichotomised into Biblical and Hellenistic and this way Patristic "camps" are created, while the heretic Barlaam appears to belong also to the Fathers, supposedly to the "Hellenising" ones. But with the condemnation of Barlaam in AD 1368 during the Synod of Constantinople Great Fathers were also condemned – according to this heresy of patristic dichotomy into Biblicising and Hellenising Fathers –such as Dionysius the Areopagite, Gregory of Nyssa, Maximus the Confessor etc. all of whom they would place in the same camp as Barlaam's. But the theology of these Fathers constituted the basis for the decisions of Ecumenical Synods as well as the bedrock of the education of so many Fathers including Saint Gregory Palamas'. Therefore, how come these Fathers appear as belonging to the same camp as Barlaam and hence are also condemned with him? And how come Saint Gregory Palamas is shown as disagreeing with these Fathers – since he is placed in a different camp – from whom he received his education and became similar in everything to them since he also (like them) did not innovate? The comic element with this blasphemous theory on supposed Hellenising and Biblicising Fathers is that bishops are presented as condemning the ... Fathers, since the bishops had condemned the camp of the Hellenising (supposedly) Fathers (since they had condemned one of its members, namely Barlaam [the Calabrian], during the proceedings of the Synod of Constantinople in AD 1368).




Let us write it again for it is a very serious problem:


The first horrible element in the above theory is the division of the Fathers in two opposing camps, the Biblicising and the Hellenising. The second, even more horrible thing is that they placed the heretic Barlaam among the Fathers (the Hellenising ones) among whom were also placed, as we said, Great Fathers such as Dionysius the Areopagite, Gregory of Nyssa, Maximus the Confessor etc. And yet NONE, NOT EVEN ONE, of the condemned heresies of Barlaam is included in the teachings of the (wrongly described as) so-called Hellenising Fathers of the Church. On the contrary, all the heresies of Barlaam are placed at the centre of the Frankish Augustinian Tradition. And the clash between Barlaam and Saint Gregory Palamas is not a clash supposedly between Biblicising and Hellenising Fathers, but at its depth hides the clash between Patristic and Franco-latin Augustinian Tradition and to this very point can the great importance of this clash be found. And if we wish to examine the matter in more detail, we will find that this clash between Patristic and Franco-latin Augustinian Tradition has its source in the dispute between the Orthodox and the heretic Arians and Eunomians of the times of the First and Second Ecumenical Synods.


Let us analyze this point, for it is essential to our topic and brings important differences between our Tradition and the opposing Franco-latin Augustinian Tradition.


As the great modern theologian Fr. John Romanides lies down and establishes; blessed Augustine, in particular, would:


a) Disagree on some essential points, with which the Orthodox and heretics were in agreement;


b) Agree with the Arians and Eunomians on one point against the Orthodox;


c) Agree with the Eunomians on another point against the Arians and Orthodox;


d) Would agree with the dogma of the First and Second Ecumenical Synod superficially but, as we shall see, in essence agreed with the presuppositions of the Arian and Eunomian teachings.


We shall explain these four points:


a) All Holy Fathers agree on this point, namely that the Angel of God (as the Holy Writ calls Him) who appeared to the Prophets of the OT, a.k.a. Angel of Glory or Angel of Great Counsel or Lord of Glory, is the Logos of God, Christ. Christ would appear in the OT too, although non-incarnately. This truth is not even denied by the heretic Arians and Eunomians. They would teach though that the Angel of the Lord, who would appear to the Prophets, namely Christ, was a creature; because they supported that God would reveal or show Himself through creatures. And they believed the divine Logos, the Son of God, to be created.


Blessed Augustine would characterise this teaching about the appearance of the Logos of God to the Prophets as blasphemy; he supported the view that not only the Logos but all three Persons of the Holy Trinity would be revealed through made and then unmade created symbols of the divinity, in order for the Holy Trinity to be seen through these with the human senses. Augustine believed this revelation to be inferior; higher revelation was considered by him to be the one that God would gift to man's nous.


This theory of blessed Augustine on theophanies and divine revelation had not been heard before; and it this that the Franks received to develop further. This Frankish teaching on theophanies was brought to the East by the heretic Barlaam. Barlaam would support exactly the same thing: That the revelation that took place through the Taborian Light was "×ÅÉÑÙ ÍÏÇÓÅÙÓ" [=inferior to noesis]; it was, that is, inferior to the one given directly to the nous; inferior even to simple noesis (=use of the nous' intellect). [21]


"Can one imagine", Fr. Romanides wonders, "the dolorous impression that these claims of Barlaam provoked in the Orthodox East, where the Taborian Light would be considered by the Fathers as the very Uncreated Divinity and Reign ("Kingdom") of the Holy Trinity? [22]


b) From the above we see that blessed Augustine would disagree with both the Orthodox and the heretic Arians and Eunomians in that he would not accept the theophanies of the Logos of God to the Prophets of the OT as actual. He would agree with the heretics against the Orthodox in his belief that the Prophets and the Apostles would see a creature and not the very same divinity.


According to our holy Fathers, contrary to Augustine's views, the Prophets and the Saints who have reached theosis, see invisibly and listen in the Holy Spirit suprarationally to the Father via the UNCREATED LOGOS AND NOT THROUGH THE MEDIATION OF SOME CREATURE.


c) The Holy Fathers teach that the Theumens (= God-bearers, bearers of Divine Grace), seeing and listening to God through the Logos in the Holy Spirit would partake of the Uncreated Energies of God and not of the divine hypostases of the Three Persons of the Holy Trinity and of the Divine Essence.


In other words, the Holy Fathers make a distinction in God between His Divine Essence, which is “AMETHEKTI” (Greek: ÁÌÅÈÅÊÔÇ, pron. ah-meth-ek-tee), incommunicable (viz. no one can communicate with/take part in it, man or angel, except for the Three Persons/Hypostasies of the Holy Trinity) and the Divine Energy, which is “METHEKTI (Greek: ÌÅÈÅÊÔÇ, pron. meth-ek-tee), communicable. This distinction would also be done by the heretic Arians and they too taught that the creations know not the essence but the energy of God. However, they would include the divine Logos Himself among the creatures and that was their great difference with the Orthodox. Arius, as proof that the Logos of God is a creation and not God, as we the Orthodox believe, would say that the Logos does not know the essence of the Father but partakes, by grace, in some of His energies. Therefore, the Arians would also make a distinction between essence and energy as regards God.


And yet blessed Augustine would not make this distinction. Augustine is the only person in the ancient era who attempted to theologise on the Holy Trinity without having studied the patristic works, but based only on the Holy Writ and on the Neo-Platonic philosopher Plotinus. Not knowing therefore the patristic theology, blessed Augustine identified the Divine Essence with the divine energy. This plani (deluded teaching) had been made before by the heretic Eunomians and without realising it Augustine followed them, while the Franco-latins followed him [23].


If though the divine Essence is identified with the divine energy then how is man deified (how does he reach theosis)? By participating in the divine essence of God? How do we come to know God? By getting to know His essence? Blessed Augustine, without realising it, accepted the teaching of the Eunomians that the faithful can, through the Holy Writ and philosophy, come to learn the essence of God even from this life; whereas in the next life the ones saved, he would claim, will come to know the Divine Essence directly [24]; "It won't be long", Augustine would say, "before I research the essence of God, either through the Holy Writ or through creation". [25]


Because blessed Augustine would identify the Divine Essence with the divine energies, for this reason he would claim that during their theoptiae (visions of God) the Prophets, Apostles and Saints would see created symbols of the divinity and not the divinity itself, as for him this would mean that they see the very Divine Essence, since he would not make a distinction between Divine Essence and divine energies of God. It seems that he had heard from somewhere that the Fathers had rejected the idea that in the Holy Writ the ones engraced would see the Divine Essence and for this reason Augustine would also reject this possibility [26]. For this reason, all the natural iconic symbols of divinity that we meet in the Holy Writ (such as: gnophus, light, glory, cloud, lightning, smoke, fire, column of fire, column of cloud, fiery tongues, the likening to a dove) would be taken by blessed Augustine as made and unmade creations which symbolised the divine presence on those who would see them, in order for God to be heard among men through these creations. Blessed Augustine would also say (and through him so do the Franks) that the revelation of God done upon the nous of man is higher than the above revelations which are supposedly performed through these creations (made and then unmade). [27]


Since Franco-latins believe that the Prophets saw and heard creatures, who represent or reflect God, for this reason of course, as Fr. Romanides also says, they took the divine inspiration of the Holy Writ to the letter, since the things seen and heard were written down in order to become accessible to the natural powers of man, sense and logic. According to this theory, the thing revealed becomes revealed in order to become perceived by the logic of man. According to blessed Augustine, man accepts the dogmas of the Holy Writ through faith and then he tries through his mental abilities, with his logic, to understand them (also aided by philosophy, esp. Neo-Platonic philosophy). This method became the bedrock of the Franco-latin tradition and can be summarised in Augustine's motto "Credo Ut Intelligam" viz. "I believe in order to comprehend". Thus, as we already said, Augustine reached the point of saying:


"It won't be long before I research the essence of God, either through His Holy Writ or through the created".


Fr. John Romanides says clearly and with emphasis: The whole basis of the theology of Augustine is summarised in the motto that became the theological slogan of the Franks, namely Credo Ut Intelligam, I believe in order to comprehend. According to this deluded method, the faithful one first accepts the dogmas through faith and then, if he has the necessary philosophical proficiency, he makes every possible effort to transform the simple faith into knowledge [28].


d) Contrary to the above Augustinian Franco-latin plani (delusion) on theophanies, the Holy Fathers of the First and Second Ecumenical Synods had used as a common axis around which they developed their conversations with the heretic Arians and Eunomians, the following unshakeable teaching of the Holy Writ and of the Holy Tradition, that says: "The Prophets, the Apostles and the Saints, seeing invisibly and listening suprarationally and understanding supranoetically would see the Glory, Reign ("Kingdom") and Divinity of the Logos, would listen to and know Him, the very Logos in the Spirit, and through Him God the Father" (Fr. Romanides). [29] And precisely because of this were the Orthodox in a position to have a discussion with the heretics as to whether the appearing Logos is homoousios (consubstantial), homoiousios or anomoios to the Father. For, if both the Fathers and the heretics had interpreted the theophanies in the way blessed Augustine had, and thus identified every Divine Person with the common Divine Essence, as he did, then there would have been no problem of a homoousios or homoiousios or anomoios Logos or Holy Spirit towards (relative to) the Father. This way we can say that Saint Augustine would accept the decisions of the First and Second Ecumenical Synods only superficially because in actuality he would disagree with the presuppositions of the Holy Fathers in their polemics against the heretics.


The view of blessed Augustine on revelation, namely that the Prophets of the OT did not have a theophany of God the Logos but only saw creatures, made and unmade, as well as his other view on Original Sin, namely that Adam's descendants supposedly inherited his guilt, led the Franco-latin tradition to depreciate extremely the people of God who had lived before the Incarnation of the divine Logos, namely the people of the OT, the Patriarchs and the Prophets [30]. According to the Fathers, however, the just people in the OT were friends of God even before the offering of the Crucificial Sacrifice of Christ on Golgotha, because the mystery of the Cross would be effected (energised) on them [31]. For this reason the Holy Fathers use the life of Moses as an example of perfection in this life.




The other deluded teachings (plani) of the Franco-latins on hell and purgatory stem from Augustine’s views on the issues pertaining to revelation. As we said, blessed Augustine would take all natural iconic symbols of the divinity that we meet in the Holy Writ such as e.g. cloud, light, column of fire and cloud, fiery tongues etc. as creatures; thus, in the same way, the Franks, who followed Augustine's teaching, imagined the eternal fire as well as the outer darkness of hell to be created things. Through this misinterpretation, therefore, we have the paradoxal and superstitious beliefs of the Franks on hell and purgatory, which are described poetically by Dante, who is considered father of Western Enlightenment [32]. The truth is that the eternal fire and the outer darkness are the SAME as the Glory and Gnophus of God. Everyone will see God; His uncreated, of course, energy. However those who have a clean heart will see Him as Glory and Gnophus (this is Paradise), while those who have an unclean heart will see Him as Scathing Fire (this is Hell with the eternal fire and the outer darkness).


Because the Franco-latins believed that the damned will not see something uncreated, they took the eternal fire of the Holy Writ to be something created, as we said. At least, using common sense they should have realised that the eternal fire and the outer darkness will not be perceptible by the fact that "it has been prepared for the devil and his angels" [33]. These beings certainly do not have senses in order to see perceptibly a darkness or fire perceived by the senses. Anyway, since the Franco-latins took the eternal fire to be something created, they also imagined, like the ancient idolaters had also imagined before them, that the world of salvation and perdition is like a "three-storey building" consisting of: an unchangeable heaven for the blessed, a changeable earth for the trial of the people and changeable infernal areas for the damned and those being purged! ...


"Contrary to this Frankish Tradition, Romanity never interpreted the issues on hell and divine inspiration in such a way as to adopt the cosmology of the ancient idolatric world's three-storey universe, with a paradise above the heavens, hell and purgatory fire under the earth and the earth as a place of trial for men. And Romanity never even imagined that God somehow dictated words to the Prophets and Apostles in ways other than the human nature of the Logos" (Fr. John Romanides) [34].




Finally, we wish to talk about the most fundamental difference between blessed Augustine and the Fathers of the Church. Augustine believes, together with the Platonics, that man can know God with his logic, whereas on the contrary the Fathers of our Church teach that logic can only know of the created things. And since there is no similarity between the created universe and the Uncreated God and since logic can only know the created things, it is not possible, therefore, for man to know God through his logic. Then how do we get to know God? By becoming Saints, Theumens! This is the only way of knowing God: the experience of Theosis; not man’s apt logic. But even if we are not Saints, in order to have a personal experience of Theosis yet, by living inside the Church, we turn to our Saints and through them we obtain knowledge of God. By reading the Holy Writ and the life and teaching of the Saints of our Church, we receive knowledge of God through them. The Prophets, the Apostles and the Saints of our Church; these are our own authenticity on God. The Franco-latins, however, by following Augustine, introduced a supposedly different way of knowing God, which is achieved via logic. According to this theory, man’s logic can know God directly, without the experience of Theosis [35]. It is the well-known adage that formed the basis for the theology of Augustine, namely Credo ut intelligam; "I believe in order to comprehend". According to this erroneous principle, man accepts whatever the Holy Writ writes in faith and then attempts, using his logic and helped along the way by Philosophy, to comprehend the revealed things; in fact the more clever he is, the better he gets to know God! ...


The matter is very serious because through this erroneous principle another way of knowing the Uncreated God enters; through logic. But how (according to blessed Augustine and the Franco-latins) can man come to know the Uncreated God with his logic? Answer: (supposedly) via the "archetypes"! The Franco-latins accept the Platonic teaching that the created things in our world are icons of the transcended archetypes. This deluded teaching (plani) that supposedly these uncreated archetypal articles (ideas or words) are met in God's nous and that the created objects in the world are icons of these archetypal ideas, this I say teaching, constitutes the gnosiological basis of the so-called Scholastic theological and philosophical tradition of the Franco-latins. According to this principle, there is an analogy (analogia) between the created objects in this world and the uncreated archetypal (supposedly) species, which according to the Franco-latins are identified with the Divine Essence. This way, according to them, if we study the created objects with our logic we can then trace the Divine Essence through them and come to know (or so they tell us) God!


Fr. John Romanides writes in his book "Dogmatic and Symbolic Theology of the Orthodox Catholic Church" Tome I p. 382: "By accepting the teachings of Plato on unchangeable species and identifying these with the Divine Essence, Augustine established the analogy between created and Uncreated, based on which he and the Franco-latins would research the Divine Essence through the in-world created icons of the uncreated archetypal species in God". Since, according to this deluded idea, there is a semblance (an analogia) between created objects and archetypes, each created thing has its archetype. The archetype is the unchangeable idea (or species or word) and every created object resembles its archetype with its essence, which lives in the noetic world. Man's soul has an analogy with the archetypes, for it is spiritual and immaterial, like they are too; so the like recognises the like. Therefore through study of the copies of the archetypes in the present world, the soul comes to remember the archetypes. 36. When the soul is freed from the body after death, it will not only remember but will also have a direct knowledge of these archetypes. According to the Franco-latins, enlightenment is for the soul to deal with these archetypes! From the Orthodox perspective, we see how terrible this plani is! For us, Plato's archetypes do not exist. On Sunday of Orthodoxy we also read an excommunication for anyone who accepts that Plato's archetypes exist in reality.


We repeat: Through the above deluded teaching of the Franco-latins, as they received it by blessed Augustine, the idea is introduced into Christianity that man can come to know the Uncreated God through his logic alone; even the Essence of God! ... How? By studying the creatures, penetrating the essence and the concept of the created through human reason (logos); which created objects are (supposedly) copies of the eternal archetypes. They claim that these eternal archetypes coincide with the essence of God. This way, i.e. through the study of the objects of this world, we come to learn of God, of His very essence! We repeat, this is a terrible plani, opposed to the teachings of the Fathers of our Church, who teach that God is known through prayer and purity of the heart, in other words by our becoming Saints. Of course, guidance is required in the ascesis of prayer, in this battle for catharsis (inner cleansing) of the soul from the passions; for this reason for him who wishes to know God, the knowledge of the Holy Writ is necessary, as well as the study of the life and teaching of the Holy Fathers of our Church also are.


"Ideally of course, from a theological and spiritual viewpoint, [the one wishing to rise up spiritually towards theosis] should look for a genuine spiritual father in order to be initiated to the mysteries of the Orthodox tradition through him and, after having found himself along this initiation path, to study the Holy Bible intensively and at the same time study its Patristic hermeneutics"(Fr. John Romanides)!!! 37.







1. For this topic cf. the book by Metropolitan of Nafpaktos and St. Vlasius Fr. Hierotheus, "Born and raised Romans"; the book by professor Fr. John Romanides "Romanity and Romans or Roman Fathers of the Church" p. 57 ff., as well as the related important works by Professor Fr. George Metallinos. See also our article on the expression "Roman Catholic Church" found in our periodical "Orthodox Catechesis" issue 1.
2. Also "the correct historical distinction of Christianity is not between Latins and Hellenes, but between Franks and Romans or between Frankocy and Romanity. All Hellenic-speaking and Latin-speaking Roman Fathers (with the exception of Augustine) belong to Romanity, to the Roman theological tradition, which is clearly distinguished  from the Augustinian Frankish theological tradition" (Fr. John Romanides in his book "Romans or Roman Fathers of the Church" p. 58. See also p. 67)
3. Ibid. p. 52
4. Ibid. p. 55-56. p. 104
5. This idea first made its appearance to us after Turkocracy.
6. Ibid. p. 55-56
7. Ibid. p. 54-55
8. We Orthodox claim that this wish of Augustine to agree with the Fathers, despite the fact that due to his ignorance of their teaching and due to his Manichean past he would not agree with them, this humility of his, shown with his willingness to correct his errors in the occasional suggestions to do so, and most of all this repentance of his for his former sinful life, elevate him to a Saint of our Church. He has however, we repeat, erroneous theology, which has become accepted in everything by the Franks. The clash of the patristic theology with the Frankish one or the clash of Saint Gregory Palamas with Barlaam are in their essence a clash between the patristic and Augustinian teachings.
9. Ibid. p. 59
10. Through Peter Moghila (AD 1633-1646), it seems.
11. Fr. John Romanides says: "With the establishment of the First Hellenic State after the revolution of AD 1821, the powerful influence of Russia and Frankocy invaded it, mainly through the University of Athens, with disastrous results for Romanity, since the Hierarchy of Hellas and the spiritual leadership of the modern Greeks became educated under the spirit of Frankocy (Western Europe) and of Russia" (ibid. p. 75). The theologian father says however in another section of his book the pleasant news for "today": "Today, when Western theology is found in a confused and declining state, Patristic theology has returned to the Hellenic Universities and thus its spirit reigns in Hellas to the advantage of Romanity" (ibid. p. 80)
12. Cf. our periodical "Incense" issue 13
13. Cf. the great study by Professor Stylianos Papadopoulos "Concept, Importance and Authority of the Father and Teacher in his Patrology" tome I, p. 17-19.
14. Ibid. p. 81
15. For the importance of the distinction made by Europeans and Russians between "Latin" and "Greek" Christianity, see the study by Fr. John Romanides "Romanity, Romania, Rumeli" Thessalonica 1975, chapter I.
16. Ibid. p. 83
17. Ibid. p. 87, 88.
18. Unfortunately, many of our own theologians learn about the Great Father Saint Gregory Palamas through the related work on him by Meyerdorff (Greek translation).
19. To these "Graecising" Fathers, as they would call them, they would place: Dionysius the Areopagite, Evagrius Ponticus, Gregory of Nyssa, Maximus the Confessor and others.
20. To the support of his theory on distinction of the Fathers to Biblicising and Hellenising, the Russian Meyerdorff went astray due to another fact also, namely the fact that Barlaam, even before his clash with Palamas, had announced himself in favour of the superiority of the Ecumenical Synods against the Pope and against the insistence of the Latins on the dogmatic character of the filioque and had therefore proved in favour of the Orthodox and not the Latin tradition. But Barlaam's position on the relationship of the Ecumenical Synods with the Pope, as can be seen clearly, is a first shape of the later theories of the West, the so-called Conciliaristes, which supported the superiority of the Ecumenical Synods. That Barlaam follows this line does not prove his Orthodoxy. Since the 14th century, we meet a colossal movement in the West that supported these views vigorously, which movement aided the Protestant revolution against the Pope in the 16th century. Also, as regards the issue of the Filioque, Barlaam had placed himself not only against the positions of the Latins, as we said before, but also against the insistence of the Fathers on the Filioque's heretic nature, since he claimed that the Filioque is not part of the (given) revelation and for this reason the syllogisms for or against it are only dialectic. Saint Gregory Palamas, however, would respond that we have hagiographic and patristic dogmatic axioms which constitute the proof base against the heretic nature of the Filioque and for this reason syllogisms, as regards the Filioque, are not of a dialectic nature but constitute dogma: In God there are the common and the incommunicable, which belong exclusively to only one Person of the Holy Trinity. Thus, the procession of the Holy Spirit needs to be either from the Father alone (in which case it is an incommunicable idiom) or from the Father AND the Son AND the Holy Spirit. It is not possible for the Holy Spirit to proceed from the Father and from the Son (Filioque) without the common idiom of the two persons to also be an idiom of the third Person; in which case the Holy Spirit would partake of the cause of the existence of His self! ... On the other hand, the patristic teaching that the Father is the only source of Divinity clearly implies that the Spirit has His existence solely from the Father, as is the case with the Son. – Again, the fact that Barlaam accuses the "doyen" among Franco-latin theologians Thomas Aquinas, because he would identify all things of God with the Divine Essence, made others also (apart from Meyerdorff) believe that this is yet more proof that Barlaam represents an Orthodox and not a Latin tradition; and this fact also contributed in the separation of the Fathers into Biblicising and Hellenising. However, the fact that Barlaam accuses Aquinas does not mean that he is Orthodox, but rather that he belongs to the other, equally heretical, side, the side of the so-called Scottists. For this reason Vissarion (formerly of Nicaea and later Cardinal of the Papist Church) wrote that Barlaam introduced the Scottist (from Duns Scotus) anti-Thomistic arguments in the East (cf. Fr. John Romanides, ibid. p. 124-130).
21. Cf. Ioannis Carmiris' "Dogmatic and Symbolic Monuments", tome 1341.8, p. 357
22. Ibid. p. 108-109
23. Because it was the Eunomians who first identified the divine essence with the divine energy, for this reason Palamas characterises those who do not accept the distinction between Divine Essence and Uncreated energy in God as Eunomians. Saint Gregory Palamas complains to Barlaam that not even the Arians had ever reached the point of identifying the divine energy with the Divine Essence. The Arians used to say that the divine Logos is of the will of God and not of His essence. What they would claim about the Son and Logos of God was heretical; however it appears from this that they were making a distinction between Divine Essence and Divine Energy in God. For this reason, Palamas observes: "Those who called the Logos of God as the Son of God's will did not dare call the essence of God as will" (In favour of those resting divinely, 3, 2, 6). The matter of the distinction between Divine Essence and Divine Energy is found at the centre of the clash between Saint Gregory Palamas and Barlaam. This issue had been expressed since the beginning; it is already found in the first stage of their dispute. The distinction between Divine Essence and Divine Energy corresponds precisely to the distinction, again, in God, between the way of existence and the energies of the Holy Spirit. The manner of existence is of the essence of God; the energy differs and is differentiated from the manner, in the same way it does from the essence. The manners of existence of each hypostasis of the Holy Trinity are hypostatic; in other words, each manner of existence belongs to only one divine hypostasis; however, the divine energy is natural of the essence and for this reason it is common. For this precise reason the procession of the Holy Spirit, as a manner of existence, cannot become identified with the sending of the Holy Spirit.
24. Blessed Augustine would claim however that those being in divine ecstasy can also see from this life the essence of God, such as Moses and Paul did. However, generally speaking, Augustine, like all the Franco-latin Scholastics after him also do, accepts that the ones saved view the Divine Essence after death. "Nevertheless, according to the Orthodox Fathers, the Theumens do not see or will not see the Divine Essence either in this life or beyond the grave; but now and beyond the grave and during the common resurrection they see and will see the natural and Uncreated glory and reign ("kingdom") of Christ, in the same way that the Apostles had seen Him on Mount Tabor and during the Pentecost. The same holds for the angels who only know the divine glory and divinity and in no way do they know the Divine Essence, which is known only to the Holy Trinity" (Fr. John Romanides, ibid. p. 112).
25. De Trinitate cf. Prologue II
26. He would include, however (as it appears from the aforementioned (cf. note 22) this position of the Eunomians, namely that the faithful can already know the essence of God from this life through the Holy Writ and through philosophy.
27. Fr. Romanides writes in his monumental book (p. 118): "Contrary to this Patristic teaching, the above (higher?) revelations of a bright gnophus, glory, light, luminous cloud, column of fire, column of cloud, fiery tongues, all are -- according to Augustine -- theophanies of made and unmade creatures, perceptible by the senses of the Prophets and the Apostles and, as such, inferior to those revelations done to the nous directly, since to these the nous does not have to remove notions/signs (noemata) from the senses. For Barlaam's Augustinian Franco-latin tradition, the truth revealed through philosophy and the Holy Writ is approachable by faith in the logic of the able faithful (ability depending on the amount of his secular learning); thus only the things that have not been revealed transcend logic".
28. Ibid. p. 109-114. 129
29. Ibid. p. 114. The same theologian Father adds elsewhere: "According to the Holy Writ and the Fathers, the entry of Moses, of the Prophets and of the Apostles on Tabor to the luminous cloud, to the glory, to the reign ("kingdom"), to the Bright gnophus, to the luminous darkness, to the place where God resides, to the column of fire, to the column of cloud, as well as the communion (metheksis) of the fiery tongues of Pentecost, all signify the appearance (phanerosis) and communion (metheksis) in the divinity of Christ, of the Father and of the Holy Spirit, and constitute the highest form of revelation and the entire basis of Patristic theology, while these constitute/comprise/establish the very theosis (deification or glorification) or theoptia (divine vision) or theoria (divine contemplation) of the Uncreated energy and presence of God".
30. This, according to Fr. Romanides, is due to the strong Platonic and Manichean influence on Augustine on the matters on Man, Fall, God and the Old Testament.
31. Contrary to the Franco-latins, saint Gregory Palamas says: "The Cross of Christ would be pre-proclaimed and pre-typed (pre-shadowed) mystically since [the times of] ancient generations and no one ever KATHLLAGH TW UEW without the power of the Cross ... There were many friends of God, before and after the Law, without the Cross having been seen/revealed yet [by/to them], who were declared as such by God Himself; and the king and prophet David, being the greatest friend of God of his era, "to me", he says, "your friends were well-honoured in God". How come the friends of God who lived in the times before the Cross EXRHMATISAN? I will show you ...  Just as the man of sin, the Son of unlawfulness, the Antichrist I say, has not come yet, [and yet] the beloved-in-Christ Theologian says "and now, beloved, the Antichrist is"; in the same way also the Cross was [being energised] in former [generations] and [will continue to do so] until the end" (Homily 11 on the Honoured and Life-giving Cross (Hellenic Patrology (EPE) 9, 282 ff). We recommend that the entire homily is studied as it proves that the just people of the OT were friends of God even before the offering with the Crucificial sacrifice of Christ).
32. Professor Mr. N. Matsoukas writes in his book "Dogmatic and Symbolic Theology" II, p. 548, 549, note 204: In his "The City of God" Augustine describes the created fire of hell with terrifying expressions. In fact, in his desire to prove that the fire of hell exists in all eternity without ever becoming quenched and that those tormented in it are not eventually annihilated, he musters examples from the physical world. He tells us that there exist worms that live in very high temperatures (indeed there exist such micro-organisms, as there are also others that live in very low temperatures). Among these we find the salamander. (Only that according to the mythical beliefs of his era, the salamander would quench the fire when it is found inside it). The volcanoes of Sicily blaze and yet they never burn themselves. After all, the flesh of a dead peacock does not dissolve under any way. (Augustine himself tells us that once he took a piece of peacock flesh off the dinner table and experimented). Calcium is an eternally living fire that can never be quenched except inside water. Cf. De Civitate Dei 21,2 and PL 41, 700-712. Thus Augustine -- already Tertullian had risen to claim these views before him -- managed with these descriptions to give a basis for the scholastics to support their theory that the fire of hell is created. After all, the inability to distinguish between essence and energy in God leads one there in a natural way. (A created reality must out of necessity come in contact with the damned and not with the uncreated essence of God). Orthodox theology of course does not accept this view. God, through His uncreated energies, engulfs everything. The damned feel anguish (blind as they are) since they do not have the vision (thea) of God (Theos). The influence stems from the uncreated illuminating energy which is dolorous to the damned. Cf. Nicephorus Gregoras' "Roman History" 24,9 PG 148, 1424C: "We hear in the holy gospels of a fire prepared for the Devil and his angels. Thus, if that fire is uncreated, as Palamas claims, KAI UEOS AN PROS TE KAI ANARXOS EIH AN AUTO". Here we see that the scholastics are being sarcastic with Palamas; they believe that the fire of hell cannot be uncreated. According to their presuppositions they are certainly right. The same (correct in its deduction, erroneous in its starting hypothesis) syllogism can also be made by some Orthodox theologians, provided they declare that they do not interpret the Orthodox tradition. I had underlined this on another occasion and I will do so here as well: theology and dogmatics in particular (in other words epistemological theology) follows the method of de lege lata: it describes what it sees. However, patrologist P. Christou, by disagreeing with me, has, without perhaps having realised it, also disagreed with the Orthodox fathers; and supports the view that the fire of hell is created. Cf. P. K. Christou "Maximus the Confessor and Nikolaos Matsoukas", Inheritance, 12, 1, Thessaloniki 1980 p. 206-207. See also the reply of N. A. Matsoukas "A reply to Mr. Panagiotis Christou", Thessaloniki 1981, p. 25-26.
33. Matthew 25:41. We refer the reader to section 1,3,10 taken from the Homily “On those resting divinely” by  Saint Gregory Palamas which, as Fr. John Romanides adds aptly, "summarises in a wonderful manner the essence of the Orthodox teaching on revelation, Theosis, hell, knowledge (gnosis) of God, basis of apophatic theology, authenticity and infallibility".
34. Ibid. par. p. 135.
35. There are books written by us too which have been based on this principle; e.g. "The wise speak about God"! ... And in order for one to realise how heinous their content is, they need to know that these "wise" men who give their opinions on God are either Protestants or Franco-latins!...
36. And I say "remembers" the archetypes because, according to this deluded Platonic idea, the soul would know these archetypes before becoming imprisoned in the body. In Christianity, this Platonic perception took the form of inborn knowledge of God inside man.
37. Roman or Neoroman Fathers of the Church, Tome I, p. 54.


(*)   Meanings of "theopty" :

(a) the unerring and mystical theology of those who have attained theopty (the "viewing" of God), who speak from personal experience and communion with God,

(b) the wisdom-loving theology of those who have no personal experience per se of theopty, but who humbly accept the experiences and the theopties of those who have attained theopty, and they theologize according to them and

(c) the modern (newly-found, innovative) theology of insolent theologians of those who theologize dialectically, on the basis of their own personal philosophical principles, and who reject the experiences of the Saints.



Translated by : P.S.
Additions, alterations & editing of translated text: T.F.D & A.N.

Article published in English on: 23-2-2011.

Last update: 23-2-2011.