Holy Trinity from St. Augustine and the Eastern Fathers

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Cyprian
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Re: Holy Trinity from St. Augustine and the Eastern Fathers

Postby Cyprian » Fri 30 March 2018 8:03 am

d9popov (why do you hide behind a pseduonym and do not give us your real name?):

You have breathed forth a number of errors, slanders, and untruths. You claim that Blessed Augustine "was not added to any official Orthodox Church calendar until 1955." Have you fallen prey to the error of phyletism, not considering the pre-schism Western Church Orthodox?

St. Nicodemus the Hagiorite included Augustine’s name among the saints to be commemorated on June 15, in his revision of the Synaxarion between 1805 and 1807, which was subsequently published in 1819. St. Nicodemus also included a troparion to Augustine: "You were enflamed by the love of God, you demonstrated to be all splendid, blessed Augustine."

St. Augustine is mentioned frequently in The Rudder of St. Nicodemos, being called "holy" "sacred" "divine" and "saint".

The Church in Russia added Augustine to the menologion in the 19th century as well, following the lead of St. Nikodemos. Archbishop Filaret (Gumilevsky) translated the Synaxarion of St. Nicodemus in 1856.

The year 1955 you referenced, refers to a service to St. Augustine commissioned by St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco, approved by the Holy Synod of Bishops under Met. Anastassy, which St. John served annually on his feast day.

Monk Iakovos the Athonite had previously composed a service to St. Augustine in 1861.

Of course the Blessed Augustine was always renowned for his holiness by his contemporaries, and as a Holy Father in the acts of the 5th, 6th, and 7th Ecumenical Councils.

Letter of the Emperor St. Justinian I:

"We further declare that we hold fast to the decrees of the four Councils, and in every way follow the holy Fathers, Athanasius, Hilary, Basil, Gregory the Theologian, Gregory of Nyssa, Ambrose, Theophilus, John (Chrysostom) of Constantinople, Cyril, Augustine, Proclus, Leo and their writings on the true faith."

The Sentence of the Synod:

"Moreover several letters of Augustine, of most religious memory, who shone forth resplendent among the African bishops, were read, shewing that it was quite right that heretics should be anathematized after death."

The letter of St. Pope Agatho, read at the Fourth Session of the Sixth Ecumenical Council, November 15, at the request of George, Patriarch of Constantinople:

"On the meaning of which divine words blessed Augustine, a most illustrious doctor, thus writes in his book against Maximinus the Arian."

Pope Adrian's epistle read in the Second Session of the Seventh Ecumenical Council: ‘The light of thy countenance has been stamped upon us, O Lord’ (Psalm iv. 8 ): whence St. Augustine, that great doctor, saith in his comments:-’What is the image of God but the face of God, with which the people of God have been stamped?'

St. Gregory the Great, Letter to Innocent, Praefect of Africa: "But, if you desire to be satiated with delicious food, read the works of the blessed Augustine, your countryman, and seek not our chaff in comparison with his fine wheat."

St. Photius the Great calls Augustine saint, father, and a holy and godlike man.

A council in Constantinople of 1166 held under Emperor Comnenus, refers to him as "O άγιος Aὐγουστίνος" "Saint Augustine" and quotes from his Tractates on the Gospel of John. (PG 140:217)

St. Gregory Palamas quotes from his writing, calling him "one of the wise and apostolic men," and St. Mark of Ephesus calls him by his title "Blessed Augustine" many times.

St. Gennadios Scholarios, Patriarch of Constantinople, and spiritual son of St. Mark of Ephesus, declares:

"και ει τις μη φρονεί και λέγει τον Αυγουστίνον μακάριον και άγιον είναι, ανάθεμα"
If anyone does not believe and call Augustine blessed and saint, he is anathema

You can read it in Greek right here:
https://books.google.com/books?id=Vj02A ... B1&f=false

Your ridicule of the Holy Father Augustine of Hippo is clearly at odds with the phronema of the Church, and until such time as you confess him to be blessed and saint, you are anathema.

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Re: Holy Trinity from St. Augustine and the Eastern Fathers

Postby Cyprian » Sat 31 March 2018 4:35 am

It was not only St. Photius who claimed that St. Augustine's writings had been corrupted by heretics. A number of others, including St. Mark of Ephesus, Dositheus, the blessed Patriarch of Jerusalem, and St. Nikodemus of the Holy Mountain, to name a few, also suggested that heretics had tampered with his writings.

d9popov, I do not think you are qualified to critique any supposed "serious errors" of St. Augustine (many of which are simply of your own and others' imagination), seeing how you approach Augustine from a western and scholastic mindset, lacking even a basic understanding of the meaning of Orthodox tradition. You are obviously not a theologian, nor do you even know how to recognize a true theologian, for I see you are always looking to promote John Romanides, who babbled many blasphemies, and was no genuine theologian, but quite frankly, an embarrassment to the Greeks. You seem to be imbued with his spirit of ridicule and slander towards God's holy ones.

Your whole approach to Blessed Augustine and the Fathers is misguided. You seem to be approaching this subject in a Protestant manner, presuming that each individual in every generation is granted license to judge and decide for himself whether or not someone like Augustine is a saint. That is renovationism, not Orthodoxy. You obviously do not trust the Church's long-held understanding on such matters, rather trusting only in yourself. That is a decidedly Protestant approach, whereby no one has to follow a handed-down tradition, but people can take their religion à la carte, picking and choosing what suits them. Now you want to take your saints à la carte, accepting some, and rejecting others. Someone else may follow your lead, and wish to demote some other saint, because he taught the apokatastasis. Where does it end, when everyone is allowed to start going on a heresy hunt, looking to reject saints which have been accepted for centuries?

St. Basil the Great undoubtedly taught that the sun orbits a stationary earth, and so believed St. Ephraim, St. Ambrose, St. Augustine, St. Athanasius the Great, St. Chrysostom, St. Gregory the Theologian, St. Gregory of Nyssa, St. John of Damascus, St. Gregory Palamas, and Holy Equal to the Apostles Cosmas of Aetolia, and many more. But you and your hero Romanides believe rather in heliocentrism. Are all these Fathers wrong then, and are you going to give license to start ridiculing and pointing out the supposed errors of all of them too?

You say that Augustine's errors (whether real or imagined) must be pointed out. Since all of the Fathers of the Church for the first 18 centuries or more accepted a geocentric cosmology, and now Romanides says Galileo proved them all wrong, should we go about saying they were all wrong and they cannot be fully trusted? When Christ spoke of the coming of the Paraclete, who would guide the apostles (and their successors) into all truth (John 16:13), are we to understand that this was not strictly true, and that the Scriptures do not speak truthfully about things such as cosmogony, and the origin of man, but rather presents a mythical "Babylonian cosmology," as Romanides asserts?

The fact that several holy councils (including ecumenical ones) judged Augustine to be a holy father seems to mean nothing to you. The acts must have been interpolated, and are fraudulent. You obviously do not show any regard or trust for the West, because the West accepted Augustine as a Holy Father, and you obviously don't. You tell us St. Photius was wrong for suggesting heretics may have corrupted his writings. St. Photius was supposedly ignorant when he defended the sanctity of St. Augustine.

You cannot bring yourself to follow that other Holy Pillar of Orthodoxy, St. Mark of Ephesus, who was no way under Latin captivity or Western influence, and call him "Blessed Augustine," as he did.

I suppose, according to some sort of warped thinking, you subscribe to the notion that St. Nikodemus was tricked by Uniates into accepting the sanctity of St. Augustine.

Saints closer to our time, such as St. John of Shanghai, who had a service composed for St. Augustine, and served it annually on his feast, or St. Nectarius of Aegina, who also held St. Augustine in reverence, calling him saint, and even edited and published a work containing some of his sayings ("Ἁγίου Αὐγουστίνου: Κεκραγάριον, Τόμοι 2, Ἀθῆναι 1910"), and another miracle-worker, St. John of Kronstadt, who also quotes from the writings of Augustine, calling him by one of his familiar titles, Blessed Augustine. According to your way of thinking, they must all be under Western influence, part of the Latin captivity in your mind, and you know better.

This is the same type of renovationist thinking which suggests the Fathers, (spanning many centuries) were all ignorant, and naively accepted and venerated images of the Father, supposedly not realizing that they are "uncanonical" or "heretical," (depending on who you ask), and that the Church was waiting all this time for some brilliant 20th century "theologian" and "scholar" to come along and deliver us a supposedly "purer" form of Orthodoxy that no one ever knew of before. People who agitate against the icons of the Father and the sanctity of Augustine are simply looking to make a name for themselves, to set themselves apart. It is not enough for them to simply humbly follow the same path tread by the Fathers who came before us, but they need to invent some cause célèbre, by which they can show everyone that they know something that escaped the notice of the Holy Fathers.

If anyone is under Latin captivity, and Western influence, I am sorry to say, it is you! You seem to be so insecure in your own Orthodoxy, that you feel some compulsion to sit in judgement of God's saints, critiquing them, attempting to prove to yourself and others, that you know more than they do. This way of thinking makes one anathema, i.e. cut-off and separated from the Church and her phronema.

The duty of every Orthodox Christian is to simply take what has been handed down, and not deviate from it.

You claim you are with Sts. John Cassian and Vincent of Lerins, and that they denounced some of what Augustine wrote, but you are not with them! You have no part with them. St. John Cassian and St. Vincent of Lerins never ridiculed St. Augustine as you do. They never even mentioned Augustine by name in these supposed "denunciations".

So if these two really did denounce some of the things Augustine wrote, and to what extent is open to conjecture, since Augustine's name was not even mentioned, why do you not follow their example, and denounce what needs to be denounced without resorting to ridiculing the person of Blessed Augustine? So you see, you are not even with these saints, either.

The ROCOR Holy Synod approved a service to St. Augustine, and you impiously refuse to acknowledge his sainthood, so you are obviously not with them either. Do you ever pray to St. John of Shanghai? Why should the wonder-worker hearken to your prayers when you ridicule his beloved Augustine? Why should St. Nektarios heed your prayers when you deride and ridicule Holy Father Augustine?

You tell people they should read St. Photios' Mystagogy of the Holy Spirit. Have you not read it yourself? Do you not see how St. Photius defends the honor of Ambrose, Augustine, and Jerome, embracing them as Holy Fathers of the Church?

Saint Photius the Great
Mystagogy of the Holy Spirit
http://www.myriobiblos.gr/texts/english ... gogy4.html

"66. You bring forth Ambrose, Augustine and Jerome as well as certain other men as witnesses against the dogma of the Church, because you say they hold the opinion that the Spirit proceeds from the Son. They say, One should not charge the Holy Fathers with the crime of ungodliness: one either agrees with their opinions because they taught rightly and are acknowledged as Fathers, or they and their teaching should be rejected as impious because they introduced impious doctrines. These things are said by youngsters in fearful desperation, for the insufferable conclusions of their unprofitable impudence cannot escape in the face of knowledge and zeal. Not content with distorting the word of the Master and slandering the herald of piety, they deem the Fathers' zealous pursuits incomplete and then turn around and make their Fathers treat the Master and His herald with wanton violence, and then they celebrate this! However, the simple word of truth confounds them, saying, Take care where you are going, how long will you plunge your destruction into the vitals of your soul.

67. What sort of poisonous insanity compelled them to produce the Fathers, holy and mature men settled and established in the truth, as protectors of impiety? Thus, which of us sustains their rights as Fathers? The one who receives them with no contradictions against the Master, or the one who compels them to establish testimony against the Master's word, and who distorts by perverse sophisms the admirable teaching by which we theologise that the Spirit proceeds from the Father? Is it not evident that heresy attributes the name of Father to those memorable men only in words? For heresy does not begrudge giving the title of Father stripped of all honour, but through sophism, heresy chooses to drive the Fathers into the portion of impious and corrupt men. Do all of these ungodly men presume to honour their Fathers with such privileges?

68. Read through Ambrose or Augustine or whatever Father you may choose: which of them wished to affirm anything contrary to the Master's word? If it is I, then I insult your Fathers. But if you say it whilst I deny it, then you insult them, and I condemn you of insolence towards the Fathers. But, you retort, they have written so, and the words the Spirit proceeds from the Son are to be found in their writings. What of it? If those fathers, having been instructed, did not alter or change their opinion, if after just rebukes they were not persuaded — again, this is another slander against your Fathers — then you who teach your word [Filioque] as a dogma introduce your own stubbornness of opinion into the teachings of those men. Although in other things they are the equals of the best [Fathers], what does this have to do with you? If they slipped and fell into error, therefore, by some negligence or oversight — for such is the human condition — when they were corrected, they neither contradicted nor were they obstinately disobedient. For they were not, even in the slightest degree, participants in those things in which you abound. Though they were admirable by reason of many other qualities that manifest virtue and piety, they professed your teaching either through ignorance or negligence. But if they in no way shared the benefit of your advantages [of being corrected], why do your introduce their human fault as a mandate for your blasphemous belief? By your mandate, you attest that men who never imposed anything of this type are obvious transgressors, and so you demand a penalty for the worst blasphemy under the pretence of benevolence and affection. The results of your contentions are not good. Observe the excessive impiety and perversity of this frivolous knowledge! They claim the Master to be their advocate, but are discovered to be liars. They call upon the disciples to be their advocates, but are likewise discovered to be slanderers. They fled for refuge to the Fathers, but are found to cast down their great honour with blasphemy."
..........

The only one you seem to be with is John Romanides, and when you praise and promote this new-calendarist ecumenist, who was proclaimed a "saint" by the World Council of Churches, you witness to everyone that neither you nor he are theologically competent, and have no business concerning yourself with any supposed "serious errors" of the most-blessed Augustine. You and Romanides both have your own serious errors you should be concerned with. For example, your hero Romanides said:

"When the Old Testament speaks of the firmament, it is Babylonian cosmology."

"When one takes the Old Testament and calculates when the world was created, when man appeared on earth, we can not develop more than about 6000-6500 years. Now, we know that the universe is much older than 6500 years, because a few months ago a new star was found that is fifteen billion light-years away from the earth. So, we know that the world is at least fifteen billion light years of age"

"In any case, we know that world is at least fifteen billion years old. This means that Holy Scripture is completely out as regards the chronology of the universe."

"Now we have the following problem: It is the issue of human evolution. It has now been found that man 500,000 years ago was not as he is now, as Homo Sapien. We have a history of [unintelligible word] thousand years. We have a limited history. In ancient times man had another form. So far, there are three kinds of people, as determined by anthropologists, who have been established to be people. They are Homo Habilis, Homo Erectus and Homo Sapiens. They have determined the existence of Homo Habilis (with proof, and not only theory) to have been 3,500,000 years, that is, [two unintelligible words]. Because today he does not exist."

"We do not know how these heavenly bodies originated, or even if they still exist, because the light now arriving started its journey fifteen billion years ago in order to reach the earth. So the distances that exist now in astronomy are amazing. Thus from the scientific point of view Holy Scripture seems short of information and does not enlighten us much about the composition of the universe as a whole."

"In the modern era the first astronomers, Galileo in particular, came along and demonstrated with telescopes that instead of the sun revolving around the earth, the earth revolves around the sun. He proved this by observation, not philosophy"

"From then onwards the suspicion arose that familiar things in the natural world were not as the theologians described them, but that it could be proved through more careful observation, aided by equipment that man is capable of constructing, that the world was different and could be differently described."

"The Fathers stress that man is not the image of God. Only the Word, the Son, is the identical image of God. The Word is the image of the Father. Because the Word is the image of the Father, Christ (Who became man) is the image of the Father as the Word. However, as a result of the mutual exchange of properties, the incarnate Word, that is to say, Christ's human nature, is also the image of the Father. The human nature of Christ is also the image of the Father by reason of the incarnation."

Do you actually believe any of this tripe that Romanides taught? Do you believe the world (or universe) is 15 billion years old, and do you believe "in ancient times man had another form," evolving from Homo Habilis, Homo Erectus, etc.? Do you concur with Romanides when he says that man is not the image of God, and the human nature of Christ is the image of the Father?

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Re: Holy Trinity from St. Augustine and the Eastern Fathers

Postby d9popov » Sun 1 April 2018 8:05 pm

I will respond later in the Polemics section, where Bishop Augustine of Hippo was also discussed

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Re: Holy Trinity from St. Augustine and the Eastern Fathers

Postby d9popov » Mon 2 April 2018 8:00 pm

Dear Cyprian:

I wish you a good Holy Week and a blessed Pascha celebration. My long response in now in the Polemics section. I plan on taking another look at Father Seraphim Rose's and Father Damascene's huge book on Genesis, although they are clearly influenced greatly by Protestant fundamentalists. Philip Johnson, a friend and favorite of fundamentalists, even wrote the new preface. Earlier, I posted this: I believe that there was a "mainstream" in ancient Jewish and Christian interpretation of Genesis chapters 1 to 3. You may want to consult Father John Romanides's book The Ancestral Sin, not because it is perfect, but as a first step towards patristic sources on the Fall. Another book that has patristic citations is Peter Bouteneff's Beginnings: Ancient Christian Readings of the Biblical Creation Narratives. I would use that with caution as another entry point into patristic sources. Lastly, with even more caution, one can consult James Kugel's big book The Bible as It Was and the even larger version Traditions of the Bible. It is Kugel's documentation that leads me to believe that the Orthodox Church Fathers were in continuity with the "mainstream" of ancient Israelite interpretation and that texts or parts of texts that deviate from the mainstream should be ignored. Some of the main points of Genesis 1-3 --- points on which all Church Fathers are unanimous --- are that God's creation was "very good" but that we see evil around us because human beings misuse the free will that God gave to humanity. Orthodox commentaries on Genesis are not completely literal and not merely symbolic, but they do emphasize spiritual lessons that can be drawn from the literal words. The traditional Orthodox approaches have been neither "liberal/critical" nor "fundamentalist/evangelical." Take the issue of what "day" means. If I start out a story saying "Back in the day when the internet had not been invented, we used to always have to ... ... ," the word "day" is understood by everyone as an "era," actually a long era, not a 24-hour period. Similarly, the word "day" is the correct translation for the Old Testament word, but the word "day" sometimes means a 24-hour period and sometimes an era. I read that Church Fathers say we are still living in the "Seventh Day" today and that eternity is the "Eighth Day." Also, I have read that some Church Fathers consider the first six days to be "ages/eons." As always, what all the Church Fathers agree on is what we should all accept.

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Re: Holy Trinity from St. Augustine and the Eastern Fathers

Postby Cyprian » Tue 10 April 2018 9:43 pm

d9popov wrote:Dear Cyprian: I wish you a good Holy Week and a blessed Pascha celebration.

Thank you. Christ is Risen!

I plan on taking another look at Father Seraphim Rose's and Father Damascene's huge book on Genesis, although they are clearly influenced greatly by Protestant fundamentalists.

I don't see how this can be argued, considering that the Holy Fathers interpreted Genesis long before Protestantism and Protestant fundamentalism even arose, and it is the Fathers which teach that the days of creation were literal 24-hour days, and not ages.

Take the issue of what "day" means. If I start out a story saying "Back in the day when the internet had not been invented, we used to always have to ... ... ," the word "day" is understood by everyone as an "era," actually a long era, not a 24-hour period. Similarly, the word "day" is the correct translation for the Old Testament word, but the word "day" sometimes means a 24-hour period and sometimes an era.

That is why Divine Scripture states:

"And the evening and the morning were the first [or "one"] day."
"And the evening and the morning were the second day." 
"And the evening and the morning were the third day." etc.

By referring to the days of creation as consisting of an evening and a morning, it is clear that an "era" is not being spoken of, but a 24 hour day which comprises both a daytime and an evening.

Also, I have read that some Church Fathers consider the first six days to be "ages/eons." As always, what all the Church Fathers agree on is what we should all accept.

I don't know of any Holy Fathers who taught that the first six days should be considered "ages/eons". All the Fathers agree that the six days of creation are to be understood as literal 24-hour days.

That is why at the Sixth Session of the Seventh Ecumenical Council it was read by Deacon Epiphanius, Vicar of the Archbishop of Sardinia:

"Now, from the time of the convocation of the sixth holy Oecumenic Council to that in which they were convened against holy images, there was not more than seventy years. That it was not during this period that the usage of pictures and images was delivered to the Church is evident to all: it must therefore have originated previous to that event. Indeed, to speak the truth they came in with the preaching of the Apostles, as we learn from seeing the holy churches which have been built up in every place; and, as our holy fathers have testified, and as historians relate, whose writings are with us, even to this present time. In the year of the world five thousand five hundred and one, Christ our God having come amongst men and having dwelt amongst them for thirty-three years and almost five months, and having accomplished the great and saving mystery of our redemption, went back again to heaven, ascending evidently thither, whence He had descended, having given charge to His Apostles to teach all things which were appointed them to teach."

The Seventh Ecumenical Council, in harmony with all the Fathers of the Church, did not understand the world to be billions of years old, but only thousands.

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Re: Holy Trinity from St. Augustine and the Eastern Fathers

Postby d9popov » Wed 11 April 2018 9:01 pm

Dear Cyprian,
Truly the Lord is risen!
Once again, let me state that if the present-day scientific consensus on any issue contradicted Orthodox dogma (the dogmatic consensus of the saints), I follow Orthodox dogma. We must differentiate the opinions of saints (even many saints) from dogma that is proclaimed by the entire church. We must also differentiate statements made in the proceedings of an ecumenical council from the dogmatic definition of the ecumenical council (which is what the whole church accepts). If you choose to assert that "there was evening and there was morning" indicates only a 24-hour period, then that is your opinion, but you have not shown that to be the dogmatic consensus of the Church. Similarly, the practice of dating from the creation of the world was never a dogma and has been almost completely abandoned in the Church, in favor of dating from the Incarnation/Nativity. Dating from the creation of the world is still mentioned in the Nativity service along with the date according to the Greek pagan "Olympiad" and the Roman pagan "foundation of the city" (possibly a semi-mythological date). The Nativity service, in other words, gives several common ancient ways of dating. None is a dogma. Earlier, I stated that SOME form of evolution played a role in the existence of different ancient races and modern races. These ancient and modern human races are confirmed by very-different-looking skeletons and now, increasingly, by full-sequencing of the DNA (full genetic code) of ancient and living humans. Divine revelation has given us the truths that God chose to reveal to us for our salvation. Modern science gives us new theories that, in some cases, give us true knowledge about earthly matters. I agree with the sentiment expressed elsewhere on the Cafe today that we should not treat opinions as dogmas. I would only add that all of us, me included, should learn the actual dogmas better, since these are the truths that should unite us to each other and to God. May the risen Lord enlighten us all and save us!


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