Is Father Seraphim Rose a heretic?

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Re: Is Father Seraphim Rose a heretic?

Postby NotChrysostomYet » Sat 30 September 2017 11:15 pm

d9popov wrote:Dear NotChrysostomYet: I highly recommend that you read Father George Dragas's entire scholarly paper on the reception of heterodox into the Orthodox Church: ... holic.html. Unfortunately, you have to click on 8 distinct links to view the whole paper --- but it is worth it. It refutes some of the misinformation that Father John Erickson has been propagating in the OCA. Dragas's paper is scholarly whereas Erickson's papers have not been. The facts support baptism as the norm and chrismation or confession as a form of oikonomia. The use of the term oikonomia in referring to receiving heretics with less than baptism goes back at least to the fourth century (as Orthodox and Roman Catholic scholars have demonstrated). Erickson and others are totally off base when they claim that Saint Nicodemus was an innovator in what he said about chrismation being an act of oikonomia. Erickson distorts factual, verifiable history in order to support his ecumenist tendencies. There is a lot more that I could post to prove all of this, but if you want to know the truth, start with the facts and footnotes in Dragas's article. With everyone knowing the basic facts, we can then discuss some of the nuances. The apostolic canons, which all bishops-elect promise to follow, teach clearly that baptism of all heretics is normative. The Russian Church followed this for many centuries. The Greek (and non-Greek Balkan) churches worldwide followed this for several centuries. To deviate can only be justified by oikonomia --- and this oikonomia is discussed by great Fathers of the fourth century. Erickson and some other postmodernists in the OCA simply do not know what they are talking about on this issue when they slander Saint Nicodemus as an innovator. Trying to justify ecumenism drives people to slander our saints of old. Sad. READ DRAGAS!

I will read this, thank you. Even if I do not necessarily agree with it I find this sort of stuff interesting, so I will be more than happy to read it. I would like to point you in the direction of the "Old Believers and Old Calendarists" thread though, where some of this talk regarding the reception of converts has been discussed. (The important part being that ROCOR, along with the Russian Orthodox Church for about ~400 years, received converts via chrismation. This included Fr. Seraphim Rose by Saint John of San Francisco, by the way).

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Re: Is Father Seraphim Rose a heretic?

Postby d9popov » Mon 2 October 2017 8:08 pm

Primary texts from the saints are what count in Orthodoxy.

Saint Philaret and all the ROCOR bishops decreed the following on September 28, 1971:

The Holy Church has from the beginning held the belief that there can only be one true baptism, namely that baptism which is performed in the bosom of the Church, since there is “one Lord, one faith, one baptism” (Eph. 4:5). “One baptism” is also confessed in the Creed, and the 46th Canon of the Holy Apostles states, “We ordain that a bishop or presbyter who accepts [i.e., recognizes] the baptism or sacrifice of heretics is to be deposed.”

When in the past, however, the zeal of certain heretics in their struggle against the Church began to weaken and when it was a question of their mass conversion to Orthodoxy, the Church, to facilitate their conversion, would receive them into its bosom in a manner other than through baptism. St. Basil the Great in his first canon, a canon later accepted by the Sixth Ecumenical Council, points to the existence of different practices in the reception of heretics in various countries. He explains that any separation from the Church deprives one of Grace and writes concerning schismatics, “because the origin of their separation arose through schism, those who apostatized from the Church no longer had on them the grace of the Holy Spirit, for it ceased to be imparted when the continuity was broken. The first separatists had received their ordination from the Fathers and possessed the spiritual gift by laying on of hands. But they who broke off became laymen, and, because they are no longer able to confer on others that grace of the Holy Spirit from which they themselves are fallen away, they have no authority either to baptize or to ordain. And therefore, those who were from time to time baptized by them were ordered, as persons who had been baptized by laymen, to come to the Church and to be purified by the Church’s true baptism.” However, “for the sake of edification of many” St. Basil does not protest against the other current manner of accepting schismatic Cathari in Asia. Concerning the Encratites he writes that “if there is any likehood of this (i.e., his recommendation) being detrimental to general discipline, “then another practice can be adopted.” He explains this in the following way, “I am under apprehension lest, in our wish to discourage them from a hasty baptism, we may, through the severity of our decision, be a hindrance to those who might be saved.”

Thus, St. Basil, and through his words and Ecumenical Council, established the principle that outside the Holy Orthodox Church there is no true baptism; he does however, out of pastoral condescension, which is called “economy,” permit the acceptance of certain heretics and schismatics into the Church without a new baptism. In accordance with such a principle, the Ecumenical Councils permitted the reception of heretics in various ways, taking into consideration the degree of the weakening of the heretics’ enmity against the Orthodox Church.

In the Russian Kormchaya Kniga (Rudder) the following explanation of Timothy of Alexandria is given. When asked, “Why do we not baptize heretics who convert to the Catholic Church?” Timothy answers, “If we did this, a man would not soon convert from his heresy, since he would be ashamed of a second baptism. So we have the presbyter lay hands on him and pray for the descent of the Holy Spirit, a practice to which the book of the Acts of the Holy Apostles bears witness.”

In Russia since the time of Peter I, the practice was introduced to accept Roman Catholics and those Protestants who taught that baptism was a sacrament (e.g., the Lutherans) through a renunciation of their heresy and chrismation (Catholics who had been confirmed were received without chrismation). Before Peter, Catholics were baptized in Russia. In Greece, the practice has also varied, but for most of the past three hundred years the practice of baptizing converts from Catholicism and Protestantism was reintroduced. Those received into the Church in any other way were sometimes not even recognized in Greece as Orthodox. There were many cases of such convert children of the Russian Church not being admitted by the Greeks to Holy Communion.

Having this circumstance in mind and also the current growth of the ecumenical heresy, which attempts completely to erase the difference between Orthodoxy and any heresy as manifested by the Moscow Patriarchate’s decision in spite of the holy canons, even to permit Roman Catholics to take communion in certain cases, the Bishops’ Council deems it necessary to introduce a stricter practice, i.e., to baptize all heretics who come to the Church. Any other practice, i.e., the acceptance of Roman Catholics and Protestants baptized in the name of the Trinity into the Church through a repudiation of their heresy and the sacrament of chrismation, may be permitted only if strictly necessary. It must be with the express permission of a bishop and be motivated by considerations of “economy” or pastoral condensation.


The lack of accord of the decision of the Moscow Patriarchate, concerning the granting of communion to Roman Catholics, with Orthodox doctrine and the Church canons is completely clear to any person even slightly trained in theology. The Moscow decision was justly condemned by the Synod of the Church of Greece. The holy canons do permit the communication of a great sinner under epitimia when he is at the gate of death (I Ecumenical Council 13, Carthage 6, Gregory 2 & 5), but there is not even one canon which would extend this to include persons foreign to the Orthodox Church, so long as they have not renounced their false doctrines.

No matter what attempts Metropolitan Nikodim and other Moscow hierarchs try to make to explain this act, it is completely clear that by this decision communion has been established between the Moscow Patriarchate and Roman Catholics, albeit with certain limitations. Furthermore, the Catholics have already decided to permit children of the Orthodox Church to receive communion from them. This (i.e., the state of communion between the Moscow Patriarchate and Roman Church) was particularly clearly demonstrated in the service held on December 14, 1970 in St. Peter’s basilica in Rome when Metropolitan Nikodim gave communion to Catholic clerics. It is obvious that this act could not be justified by need (i.e., that the Catholics had no churches of their own at which to receive communion). By this act the Moscow Patriarchate betrayed Orthodoxy. If the 45th Canon of the Holy Apostles excommunicates from the Church an Orthodox bishop or cleric who has “only prayed together with heretics” and 10th Apostolic canon forbids Orthodox even to pray together with those who are excommunicated, what can we say about a bishop who dares to offer the Holy Mysteries to heretics?

If catechumens must leave the church before the sanctification of the Gifts and are not permitted even at the point of death to receive communion until they are united to the Church, how can one justify the communicating of persons who are members of heretical communities and are much further away from the Church than a catechumen, who is preparing to unite with her?

The decision of the Moscow Synod, which was confirmed by the recent Sobor of the Moscow Patriarchate in Moscow, extends the responsibility for this un-Orthodox decision to all participants of the Moscow Council and to their entire Church organization. The decision to admit Catholics to communion is an act which is not only anticanonical, but heretical, since it inflicts harm on the Orthodox doctrine of the Church, which holds that only true members of the Church are called to communicate of the Body and Blood of Christ in the Eucharist. Taken logically, the Moscow decision recognizes as members of the Patriarchate those who, through their doctrinal errors, are in both heart and mind far from Orthodoxy.

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Re: Is Father Seraphim Rose a heretic?

Postby Maria » Mon 2 October 2017 9:18 pm

I have moved two posts into Intra-TOC Polemics because of the polemical content in them.

Polemical posts concerning True Orthodox Synods must be posted in our private forum: Intra-TOC Polemics.

For example, accusing one TOC of extremism and justifying another Synod as moderate is taking a polemical position which can pit one Synod against another. This usually leads to unedifying arguments which the public can view, leading to loss of members. Frankly, this is why this private forum was established.

If you want access, please ask me.

Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me a sinner.

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Re: Is Father Seraphim Rose a heretic?

Postby Cyprian » Tue 20 March 2018 10:21 am

Justice wrote:According to Orthodox Wiki, Father Seraphim Rose thought the Moscow Patriarchate still had valid sacraments and held grace going against the ROCOR. I feel as though he may have had ecumenist since he expressed these heretical beliefs. So this begs the question, how can Father Seraphim Rose be a saint?

The Church has neither declared Fr. Seraphim to be a saint, nor proclaimed him to be a heretic. Some people venerate him in private devotions, which is acceptable. Fr. Seraphim was a pious monk who reposed in peace with the Church. He was a very deep thinker (a genius), and most of his writings are quite edifying and useful, although some have been released posthumously and are at the mercy of the whims of the editor, and may even be subject to revision in later editions, which is unfortunate. His excellent work and testimony defending the Patristic view of the creation of man, and refuting the heresy of evolution, is invaluable, and one of his great achievements (there are many).

If at some point in the future, God wishes to manifest his sainthood, and he is officially glorified, I would be pleased. I will continue to be edified by his writings, regardless.

I do not see how it could be correct to argue that Fr. Seraphim went "against the ROCOR". Where did Fr. Seraphim ever willfully contradict the official teachings of his Synod? When did the ROCOR ever officially declare the Moscow Patriarchate, or any Synod for that matter, to be graceless? I think it would be more accurate to say that Fr. Seraphim was pleased that ROCOR chose not to make any official definitive pronouncement on grace, either way. In any case, Fr. Seraphim was entitled to his opinions, and he did not presume to speak in place of or above the Holy Synod, which was invested with the authority to make official pronouncements.

Fr. Seraphim and ROCOR took a less strict or zealous view than many of the Greek Old Calendarists, especially the Matthewites, and he did sometimes refer to them as fanatics, but I don't recall him ever proclaiming them to be graceless or not Orthodox. I just think he did not care for their "black and white" approach, which he considered fanatical. And one must also understand, that the "Greeks" (more accurately "Greek-Americans") that Fr. Seraphim and others were constantly subjected to attacks from, were the fanatic followers of Fr. Panteleimon at HTM in Boston. I am sure they did much to sour him on the notions of "Greek" zealotry, and perhaps to guard against that renovationism from the right, he tended to skew left toward a less condemnatory approach.

No one is suggesting that one must agree with every one of Fr. Seraphim's opinions or positions, as if he was infallible. One can take a stricter or more zealous approach, without considering Fr. Seraphim to be a heretic, just because you do not see things exactly the same way. I don't always find myself in agreement with Fr. Seraphim, but the majority of the time I do, and I do love him and can easily recognize the burning love he has for Christ and the Church, and I am sad that I never had the opportunity to meet him. I was only ten years old when he reposed.

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