By Protopresbyter Theodoros Zisis
Professor Emeritus at Aristotle University
1. Papism and Protestantism have distorted the Gospel
Lately many members of the Church have been agonizing over the destructive and rapid development of the so-called inter-Christian relations of the Orthodox with the two big heresies of the West, Papism and Protestantism. Their concern has been expressed many times, this year with the composition of the well-known “Confession of Faith against Ecumenism” which was circulated and signed by many, and for the first time annoyed and disturbed those Ecumenists who are complacent and boast over the success.
The ambient policy and cultural atmosphere of globalization not only tends to erase geographical boundaries between nations, but also tends to tear down spiritual, cultural and religious boundaries. Its goal and vision is to level differences and individuality, to homogenize people in their beliefs and manner of life, to create a new type of person, without spiritual concerns and pursuits beyond this life, but for them to remain glued to this earth, in material prosperity and affluence. This serves two specific aims of the planners: people will reduced to simply being consumers, which will increase businesses’ material and economic profit and at the same time they will become slaves in their daily struggle to secure material goods, with their degree of leisure being in the hands of the powerful, so that through controlled economic crises or allocations they can keep people docile and obedient.
The second apparent aim is to place the Gospel of Christ and the Church, which constitute the only powers of resistance against materialism, at the periphery so that the new world can be governed not by Christ, but by the Antichrist. Only Christ conquered the temptation of Satan over material goods and preached that “man shall not live by bread alone” (Luke 4:4), prioritizing material and spirit, the world and God – He gave priority to God and to the spirit: “But seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you” (Matt 6:33). And elsewhere, “for what shall it profit a man if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul?” (Mark 8:36).
The Christian world of Constantine the Great, of New Rome – Constantinople, of Orthodoxy, in which the Third Rome, Moscow, participated spiritually, lived and put into practice this ascetic and perfecting teaching of the Gospel. Now it is to be replaced by the new world of materialistic America and Europe, or Pax Christiana by Pax Americana.
Papism, having separated itself from the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, submitted to the temptations of Satan and was transformed into a worldly power with economic, dynastic, conquering, political pursuits, with dogmas and a way of life that have nothing to do with the life and teaching of the Gospel. As the great Russian intellectual Theodore Dostoyevsky powerfully said that Papism is not even Christianity; if Christ returned to earth, He would be judged and crucified by the holy inquisitors of Rome.
Those under the Pope perverted and distorted the Gospel. They did not serve as the light of the world and as the salt of the earth, for this they had no effect on the souls of the people of the West. The West, Europe and America, soon distanced themselves from untrustworthy Papism and became de-Christianized because “if the salt has lost its taste, wherewith shall it be salted?” (Matt 5:13). They threw out and rightfully trampled upon the pseudo-inscribed Christianity of the Pope.
Protestantism justly reacted against the arbitrariness and the deviations of Papism, though doing it alone without asking for help from the Church in order to return to the purity of Evangelical truth, without apostolic succession and the Grace of the mysteries (sacraments), in time being led to numerous divisions and teachings [some of] which even doubt the Resurrection of Christ, while they even justify “dishonorable passions” – as the Apostle Paul calls homosexuality in the first chapter of his Epistle to the Romans – as being on a level of a moral life,.
2. Double error: Inclusion with the heresies and a crutch of Papism
The planners of the New Age and Globalization want to unite us to and identify us with this distorted, abused and untrustworthy Christianity of Papism and Protestantism, [and create] a materialistic, earthly and worldly Christianity, so that the beneficial effect of the Gospel and of the Church cease in the world, so that people may not find the real Christ anywhere, so that we succumb to all the temptations of the devil, and thus establish the kingdom of the Antichrist. They have already succeeded in duping us and getting us to join in the pan-Protestant “World Council of Churches (WCC),” that is the World Council of Heresies and Fallacies. What a disgrace and shame! The Bride of Christ, the Body of Christ, the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, equated and put on the same level with the numerous Protestant shoots, each one of them claiming to be the true Church. In the end, is there one Church or many Churches? Are heresies also Churches? Never has the Church identified itself with nor has it ever been included among heretical groups and organizations. This is so not due to a lack of love, but so that it may help heretics to return through repentance, and at the same time protect the faithful from heresy. It truly preaches the truth when there is danger of heresy and awaits the response of those in error. If it identifies itself with them, where will they return? They will remain where they are if we accept, as some “Orthodox” maintain, that there is salvation and truth there too. We put all those heterodox who came to Orthodoxy in a difficult position, who, if they are not stable and convinced of their salvific steps, may become scandalized and disappointed.
Papism witnessed our entry into the World Council of Churches with joy and satisfaction because we left it the only purporter of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. However, unlike us, it does not forget that in the mid 15th century, the probable alliance of the Orthodox in the reformation councils of Constantia (1414-1418) and of Basel (1431-1439), forerunning movements of Protestantism, would have led to the synodic system prevailing and would have voided the primacy of authority of the Pope. He does not only leave us with the Protestants, but he wants us with him against those Protestants who rejected [his] many innovations. And as he then misled us to disgraceful Ferrara-Florence, so that we would not strengthen the synodic reformation – that even reached the point of the Pope being defrocked by his own cardinals – he is doing the same thing even now. He leads us to dialogues of love with his candies that we are somehow “sister Churches” and we can discuss “on equal terms.” He continues, however, to consider us schismatics and ecclesiologically deficient, in order to lead us to the recognition of Papal primacy through Unia, whose condemnation at Freising-Munich by the plenary session of the Joint Committee for Theological Dialogue (1990) he buried and made disappear. With this one-sided action, which we quietly accepted without any protest, the Pope shows that even in the theological dialogue he does as he wishes as the First and as infallible. Therefore, why should we discuss, since the Vatican accepts only what is in its favor, while what is [beneficial] to us it rejects and makes disappear? We foolishly, like in Ferrara-Florence where we signed Unia, we repeat the mistake and we again become the crutch of Papism with the unacceptable article of Ravenna and the even worse draft plan of Cyprus concerning the primacy of the Pope.
We should note that within relatively the same conditions we are repeating the same mistakes, without learning from history. Greece and Cyprus, in order to be helped by the West and the Pope, sign yet again unacceptable articles of union, like at Ferrara-Florence (1438-1439). They accept and honor Pope, the pan-heretic and distorter of the Gospel, thus pushing away and distancing divine help and offending the Holy Martyrs and Confessors of the Faith. Constantinople, which tasted divine abandonment, is unfortunately leading us to activities of false union and to a new Ferrara-Florence, in the steps of the then Cardinal Bessarion of Nicea and not of Saint Mark of Ephesus (Evgenikos), distorting the Gospel and embracing the “grave wolves” of Papism and Protestantism. That is why vigilance is needed according to the advice of the Apostle Paul, who foresaw that, “Also of your own selves shall arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them” (Acts 20:29-31).