Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Very influential theologian Fr. Theodore Zisis no longer commemorating bishop

There are corroborating stories of this in Greek that can be found at the NFTU site. It is not surprising that things have escalated as Constantinople has made it clear that the Crete event is not to be spoken badly of and Fr. Theodoros has made it clear that ecumenism in general and Crete in particular are invitations to ruin. I've posted many of his videos before (visible here) if you have interest in many of the salient points he has made in the past.

(NFTU) - This past First Sunday in Lent, the Sunday of Orthodoxy, was marked by the prominent New Calendar priest, Protopresbyter Theodore Zisis, becoming a non-commemorator. The announcement was met with marked applause and cheers from the congregation with the announcement. The former Bishop of Fr. Theodore Zisis,Archbishop Antimos of Thessalonika, gave instruction that Fr. Theodore Zisis was no longer to express any criticisms of the Pseudo-Synod of Crete, nor express any anti-modernist and anti-ecumenist thought or face consequences. Fr. Theodore reacted by ceasing commemoration.

This is the implementation of the order given by the Ecumenical Patriarchate that all opponents of ecumenism and modernism must be silenced, or face deposition and excommunication; in fact, Fr. Theodore was named, among others, in particular, for silencing, or face deposition. Some clergy have even left Greece over the hostile attitude being propagated against any vocal anti-modernist and anti-ecumenist State Church clergy (especially in Thessalonika).

Fr. Theodore Zisis had previously beena prominent supporter of the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s ecumenical and modernist ventures, however, beginning in the 1980s he more and more turned against them as contrary to Orthodoxy. This latest move represents the first prominent move among the conservative clergy of the State Church of Greece in opposing measures being taken to completely suppress anti-modernist and anti-ecumenist thought among State Church clergy once and for all. In Romania, the situation has become even more severe, since the official position of the Romanian Patriarchate is that the Pseudo-Synod of Crete is the official position, and opponents will face suspension and deposition.


  1. Textbook schismatic. Right or wrong about the council, in Orthodoxy we have this little thing called "spiritual obedience".

    Ceasing to venerate your bishop is not an appropriate form of protest.


    1. AJC,

      If you have access, try to read Dcn. Andrei Psarev's: A Study of the Limits of Communion in the Byzantine Church (861-1350): Chasing Canon 15 of the First and Second Council in Constantinople 861.

      The subject of ceasing to commemorate one's bishop is the subject of Psarev's doctoral research. This issue is not a simple one and has shaped Orthodoxy in the US. For instance, were ROCOR and the OCA "schismatic" when they were out of communion with Moscow? If they were not commemorating the Patriarch, was that a proclamation that Moscow was in heresy or that they decided to create a formal schism in Russian Orthodoxy aboard?

  2. I concur with AJC. Refusal to commemorate your bishop is a formal act of schism. I'm not going to say there is no circumstance that could justify that. But short of your bishop being an overt heretic, I'd take a VERY deep breath before going down this road.

    1. John (and AJC);

      Up until recently I would have agreed with you. However, I think the schism is already a reality and has been for quite a while. We (as Orthodox) are in a transition phase where the reality of a schism - a non-reconcilable divide over how Christianity "fits" into the modern world and what that means ecclesiastically - is being made visible/overt. I have to speak to this divide from the side that I am on because I can not genuinely and authentically speak to it from the other side because I don't *believe* in that "other Jesus and Gospel" (2 Cor 11):

      On the one hand you have the secularized and secularizing theology of the EP and his allies (e.g. Alexandria and so much of the English speaking Orthodox academic/intellectual class such as this guy: https://publicorthodoxy.org/2017/03/07/restoring-the-diaconate/ ). On the other hand you have those of us who recognize the fruits of this particular attempted rapprochement with secularized/modern man. My own Metropolitan (Met. Antony of the UOCofUSA who attended the meeting in Crete) termed the Bulgarians, Georgians (and of course men like Fr. Theodoros and myself) as "reactionaries" (his word - or as Demacopoulos would say "fundamentalists").

      Obviously, I don't believe this "schism" is reconcilable - there is no middle ground, no compromise, no Grace upon which we can remain in communion because this matter falls into the light can not communion with the darkness aspect of His Reality.

      In other words, we are in that grey period where the "overt heresy" has not been ecclesiastically defined but is just as real nonetheless...

    2. John,

      Heresies are subtle. Were all the various heresies throughout Church history overt? No. These were times of massive confusion and upheaval. These heresies became obvious subsequent to theological struggle. St. Maximus became a non-commemorator, to this day people believe that Monothelitism and Monophysitism is a semantic issue. They say the same about the Filioque, Papal Primacy, etc. IOW, heresies of the past aren't considered "overt heresies" anymore.

      On the other hand, it seems that people like Fr Theodoros are the only ones contemporary Orthodox are comfortable to label as "schismatic". Lord illumine us!!

    3. Jake,

      I mostly agree with your analysis, it's just that I don't think the EP and his allies are as far gone as you believe. I think some compromise is possible here.

      I know I'm walking on dangerous territory by saying this, but Vatican II could potentially serve as a model of both what should be and what should not be done. Orthodoxy must engage the modern world at some point. We must be able to univocally answer questions on certain issues. And it seems to me that the Georgians and Bulgarians and their allies should be willing to update various elements of our praxis and dogma without compromising any of our beliefs. On the other hand, the EP should recognize that we are not the Catholics and we are not going to walk down their path.

      Personally, I tend to be pretty hostile to much of what emerged from Crete, but fairly enthused by some of it. We all have our favorite issues. For some people, fasting regulations are most important. For others, intermarriage. For others, ecumenical dialogue, social/political/economic issues, or "faith and science." All of us need to recognize that not everyone can have their way on every issue, and none of us are likely to be on the correct side of every issue. This is why we have councils.

      As regards Deacon Denysenko (the author of that article), please don't think of him as "secularized and secularizing." If you knew him you would know that he's a man of genuine faith and commitment to the gospel, as well as commitment to even-handed, good scholarship. I'm not saying I agree with his conclusions, but you should know that he's a man of honor and virtue.

      In conclusion, Fr. Zisis seems to think the Church is in a crisis of epic proportions, warranting the most extreme of ecclesiological actions. I think he's wrong, and his actions can only do further damage and hurt our chances of healing the De Facto Schism which you have (correctly, in my opinion) identified.

    4. AJC,

      Thanks for your comments. I don't know the Deacon's intentions or heart, I just know that he in fact supports (through his rhetoric - these ordinations being "crucial", etc.) a secularizing trend. That's the thing about secularization (or any other error), most of it is accomplished "unconsciously" and with the best intentions. It is more a sin of ignorance/unknown, unintended consequences, etc. (than any overt act of the will). I think most heresy's are like this.

      As to compromise, I don't think so. There can be no "compromise" with the darkness, because the darkness has nothing to do with the light. This schism can only be healed by repentance - a real turning of the mind on the part of the EP and his secularized allies (such as most of NA orthodoxy!) back to a Christian mind and away from Scholastic metaphysics and the Cartesian Self (the core of secularism).

      That is why Fr. Zisis is right.

  3. Whatever we think of this action, we have to remember that it is canonically based.

    The 15th Canon of the 1st/2nd Council reads: "If, however, the said presidents are heretics, and are preaching their heresy openly, and on this account those subject to them separate themselves, and even though it be before there has been any conciliar or synodal trial concerning the heresy, they are even deemed to deserve fitting honor as Orthodox Christians, since not only have they caused no schism in the Church on account of their separation, but have rather freed the Church from the schism and heresy of their pseudo-bishops."

    There will be debates about interpretation of this canon over the next while, but this action cannot be simply written off as schismatic. It is a canonical, legitimate protest made by a priest who acknowledges the canonicity of his bishop, but seeks to demonstrate that their spiritual communion has been severed on account of the bishop's bare-headed preaching of heretical views. This canon has been invoked a great number of times in Church history, including most recently by virtually the whole of the Holy Mountain and three Metropolitans of the Church of Greece which ceased commemoration of Patrarich Athenagoras.

    Schism would require his commemoration of another ecclesiastical authority (which he is not doing), and deposition would only be canonical if he ceased commemoration over the bishop's moral life.

    We need to read a little before we react, otherwise we risk looking foolish.

    1. Fr. John (Whiteford, I presume?) - could you explicate more by what you mean when you say:

      "...and deposition would only be canonical if he ceased commemoration over the bishop's moral life..."

    2. (Not Whiteford): The canon's first half condemns cessation of commemoration on moral grounds. In this case one has to wait for synodal condemnation and if one 'jumps the gun' he is subject to deposition. Such condemnation is not required for cessation when the bishop preaches heresy, however, as the above quote demonstrates.

  4. All opponents of ecumenism and modernism must be silenced, or face deposition and excommunication? Wow! That sounds very Marxist!

    I’m surprised this hasn’t happened sooner. The robber council was a heretical disaster. It is a very simple choice. Do you side with the ecumenists/modernists……or do you side with the Holy Orthodox Church of Christ? Fr. Theodoros did not go into schism. The EP and all who follow his novel innovations have thrust themselves into schism.

    St Mark of Ephesus pray for us!

  5. I tend to concur with Jake. I know Metropolitan Anthony and Archbishop Daniel of the UOC.I respect them, I strongly condemn their joint prayers with heretics and non-Christians. I'm sure this is for political reasons; otherwise so-called Patriarch Filaret of Kiev would grab many of their parishes.
    We must remember that our bishops aren't popes, and we don't owe them blind obedience.The Ukrainians of 400 years ago knew this; they rejected the cursed union of Brest with the Papacy. That is what forced Ukraine to join with Russia in the first place.

  6. St John Chrysostom

    “Anarchy is altogether an evil, the occasion of many calamities, and the source of disorder and confusion […]. However, the disobedience of those who are ruled is no less an evil […]. But perhaps someone will say, there is also a third evil, when the ruler is bad. I myself, too, know it, and it is no small evil, but a far worse evil than anarchy. For it is better to be led by no one than to be led by one who is evil. For the former indeed are oftentimes saved, and oftentimes are in peril, but the latter will be altogether in peril, being led into the pit of perdition. How then does Paul say, ‘Obey them that have rule over you, and submit yourselves (Heb. 13:17)?’ Having said above, ‘whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation’ (Heb. 13:7), he then said, ‘Obey them that have rule over you, and submit yourselves’. ‘What then,’ you say, ‘when he is wicked, should we not obey?’ Wicked? In what sense? If in regard to faith, flee and avoid him, not only if he is a man, but even if he is an angel come down from heaven; but if in regard to life, be not over-curious. And I do not cite this instance from my own experience, but from Divine Scripture. For hear Christ saying, ‘The Scribes and Pharisees sit in Moses’ Seat.’ (Mat. 23:2) Having previously said many fearful things about them, He then says, ‘They sit in Moses’ Seat: all therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, […] do; but do not ye after their works.’ (Mat. 23:2-3) What he means is that they have the office, but are of unclean life; but pay attention not to their life, but to their words. For no one would be harmed on account of their characters. How is this? Both because their characters are manifest to all, and also because even if one of them were ten thousand times as wicked he would never teach what is wicked. But with regard to faith, the evil is not manifest to all, and the wicked will ruler will not forbear from teaching false doctrines. For the saying, ‘Judge not, that ye be not judged’ (Mat. 7:1) pertains to life, not to faith […]. Paul, however, previously commended them [he testified, that is, that the Shepherds were in every way upright], and then he says: ‘Obey them that have the rule over you'”. (Homily XXXIV On Hebrews)

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