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About Heretics and Schismatics

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The Teaching of the Scriptures, Church Fathers, and Ecumenical Councils on the Absence of Salvation Among Heretics and Those in Communion with Them
  1. Preface
  2. The Teaching of the Church on Heretics and Those in Communion with Them: Selections from the Holy Fathers
  3. Without the True Orthodox Faith, No One Will Be Saved; For Heresy Separates One from God, the Church, Grace, and Salvation
  4. Anyone That Would Be Saved Must Depart From Heresy and Join the True Orthodox Church
  5. If You Are in Communion with Heretics, You Will Likewise Perish, for Communion Means You Have the Same Faith
  6. We Must Abandon Bishops That Are Heretics or Are in Communion with Them
  7. Heretics Are Deprived of the Grace of the Mysteries
  8. Numbers and Official Titles Do Not Matter, Only the Sound Confession of the Orthodox Faith; Those Few Who Remain True Cannot Be Condemned, but Rather Receive Salvation
  9. Heretics Are Cut Off from the Church Even Before the Decision of a Council
  10. To Deviate ‘A little’ or ‘A Lot’ in Regard to the Faith Is Equally a Sin unto Death
  11. Everyone Is Called to This Struggle; One Cannot Simply Be ‘Orthodox in One’s Heart,’ While Apostasizing by an Outward Silence
  12. There Can Be No Peace or Common God with Those of Another Faith; To Allege This Is Heresy
Concerning Schismatics
  1. These are they who cause divisions by separating themselves, material-minded ones, not having the Spirit.” (Jude 19)
  2. The Teaching of the Scriptures, Church Fathers, and Ecumenical Councils on the Absence of Salvation among Schismatics



The Teaching of the Scriptures, Church Fathers, and Ecumenical Councils on the Absence of Salvation Among Heretics and Those in Communion with Them

Heretics are those who separate themselves from the Faith of the Church, the apostolic tradition, the Gospel, rejecting dogmas or adding newly-devised doctrines to it, thus corrupting it. Some examples are: Arians (who deny the divinity of Christ), Monophysites (who merge into one single new nature the divinity and humanity of Christ), Roman Catholics (who corrupt the teaching of the Gospel concerning the Persons of the Trinity, grace, the Church, and many other doctrines), etc. Notable in our days are the Ecumenist heretics of World Orthodoxy as well as those Old Calendarists who call themselves Orthodox but have embraced one or more heresies or are in communion with heresy. In consequence of their spiritual separation from the Church, the Church rejects all of the above-mentioned from her communion until their repentance.

Preface

We have deliberately chosen to display below the harsh words and strong warnings of God’s beloved servants in regard to the deadliness of heresy and communion with it, not for the purpose of gleefully attacking and condemning our fellow human beings for whose sake Christ in inexpressible divine love condescended to become man and endure His saving Passion, but rather so that nothing that we could have prevented will impede them from inheriting both in this age and in the age to come that wondrous gift of which He desired and ever desires to make them partakers. Since “whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth” and He corrects us “for our profit, for us to partake of His holiness” “and sanctification, without which no one shall see the Lord” [cf. Heb. 12:6-14], will it not be an act of love on our part toward those who are depriving themselves of the grace and life in God by their wrong course to tell them of their peril and warn them, “Make straight paths for your feet,” lest that which is lame should be put out of joint, but that it rather “might be healed” [Heb. 12:13]? We truly wish for the healing of each and every soul, but so often the sick man thinks that he is in health, the blind that he sees, and the lame that he is running swiftly down the path to salvation, when in fact he is only limping down the broad path at the end of which he will lose his soul; therefore it is necessary to be blunt with those upon whom the careless ecumenical spirit of our times has settled so as to wake them up out of their stupor and deliver them from the unhappy delusion of the evil one and bring them to the straight and narrow path that leads to Christ, the true God and Life. In speaking the truth bluntly but in love, we follow the teaching of the much-suffering, great servant of God, St. Maximus the Confessor, whose exhortation we have reproduced here below:

St. Maximus the Confessor

“I write these things not wishing to cause distress to the heretics or to rejoice in their ill-treatmentGod forbid; but, rather, rejoicing and being gladdened at their return. For what is more pleasing to the faithful than to see the scattered children of God gathered again as one? Neither do I exhort you to place harshness above the love of men. May I not be so mad! I beseech you to do and to carry out good to all men with care and assiduity, becoming all things to all men, as the need of each is shown to you; I want and pray you to be wholly harsh and implacable with the heretics only in regard to cooperating with them or in any way whatever supporting their deranged belief. For I reckon it hatred towards man and a departure from divine love to lend support to error, so that those previously seized by it might be even more greatly corrupted.” (St. Maximus the Confessor, Patrologia Graeca, Vol. 91 col. 465c).

Once again, we pray that our readers will not mistake for the spirit of hate the spirit of true love and care for your salvation in which we present the exhortations and warnings of the saints. If the reader should find himself to have been in error and in need of correction, let not the reader be offended and, with shame and wounded pride, turn away from the truth and the Church that would heal him, clinging instead to the innumerable number of false shepherds and physicians that will tell him that he is healthy and in no danger in this or that Ecumenist jurisdiction. Such is a deadly temptation and such deceitful words are full of true hatred towards man. Do not be deceived, but rather read carefully the words of God’s holy servants below and hold fast to them when the tempest of worldly cares, trials, and criticisms from others threaten to sweep you back into the false churches of the Ecumenists or schismatics. If we follow the same path that the God-pleasing fathers followed, then certainly we shall find the same inheritance at its end.


The Teaching of the Church on Heretics and Those in Communion with Them: Selections from the Holy Fathers

Holy Apostle Paul

The holy Apostle Paul: “Heresies...shall not inherit the kingdom of God” [Galatians 5:20-21].

St. John Chrysostom, Archbishop of Constantinople (4th Century AD): “We know that salvation itself is a property of the one Church, and that no one can be outside of the catholic Church and yet share the Faith of Christ, or be saved.... Neither do we offer any part of that hope to the ungodly heretics, but we place them entirely outside of that hope; indeed, they have not the least participation in Christ, but vainly assume for themselves that saving name.” [Migne P.G. 59:725]

Saint John Cassian

Saint John Cassian: “Without a doubt, he who does not confess the Faith of the Church is outside the Church.” [quoted in “The Resolution of the Pastoral Conference of the Canadian and American Clergy of ROCE,” 2001]

St. Nektarios of Aegina: “Those that are not reborn by the divine grace in the only one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church, they do not comprise any church, either visible or invisible."

St. Irenaeos of Lyons (2nd C.) records, “John, the disciple of the Lord, going to bathe at Ephesus, and perceiving [the heretic] Cerinthus within, rushed out of the bathhouse without bathing, exclaiming, ‘Let us fly, lest even the bathhouse fall down, because Cerinthus, the enemy of the truth, is within.’ And Polycarp himself replied to Marcion—who met him on one occasion, and said, ‘Dost thou know me?’—‘I do know thee, the firstborn of Satan.’ Such was the horror which the apostles and their disciples had against holding even verbal communication with any corrupters of the truth.” [Against Heresies, Bk. III, Ch. III, ¶ 4, ANF I:416.]

St. Ambrose of Milan: “‘Not everyone,’ says Christ, ‘who saith to Me, “Lord, Lord,” shall enter into the kingdom of the heavens [Mt. 7:21].’ Although many call themselves Christians, and make use of the name, yet not all shall receive the reward. Both Cain offered sacrifice, and Judas received the kiss, but it was said to him, ‘Judas, deliverest thou up the Son of Man with a kiss [Lk. 22:48]?’ that is, thou fillest up thy wickedness with the pledge of affection, and sowest hatred with the implement of peace, and inflictest death with the outward token of love.” [On the Holy Spirit, Bk. III, Ch. XVII, ¶ 130, NPNF 2nd Ser., X:153.]

St. Mark of Ephesus: “‘But if,’ they say, ‘we had devised some middle ground between the dogmas [of the Papists and the Orthodox], then thanks to this we would have united with them and accomplished our business superbly, without at all having been forced to say anything except what corresponds to custom and has been handed down [by the fathers].’ This is precisely the means by which many, from of old, have been deceived and persuaded to follow those who have led them off the steep precipice of impiety; believing that there is some middle ground between the two teachings that can reconcile obvious contradictions, they have been exposed to peril.” (“Encyclical Letter,” Orthodox Word, March-April-May, 1967)]


Without the True Orthodox Faith, No One Will Be Saved; For Heresy Separates One from God, the Church, Grace, and Salvation

“If anyone preach a gospel to you besides what ye received, let such a one be anathema” (Gal. 1:9).

From the lives of the desert fathers: “Several brothers once visited Abba Agathon, for they had been informed that he was possessed of great spiritual discretion. And wishing to test him, to see if he would become angry, they said: ‘Are you Agathon? We have heard about you that you are debauched and proud.’ He replied, ‘Yes, it is so.’ They said to him once more, ‘Are you Agathon the loose-tongued lover of slander?’ ‘I am he,’ he responded. And the visitors spoke to him a third time, ‘You are Agathon, the heretic?’ To this, he answered, ‘I am not a heretic.’ After this answer, they asked him to explain: ‘Why, when we called you so many things, did you admit them, while you would not, however, endure the accusation that you were a heretic?’ And the abba said to them: ‘The first things I accepted since they were beneficial for my soul; but not the accusation that I am a heretic, since heresy is separation from God.’ On hearing this reply, the visitors marvelled at the spiritual discretion of the abba and departed, benefitted in soul.” [The Evergetinos: A Complete Text, Bk. II, Vol. I, Hypothesis II, Translated by Hm. Patapios & Bp. Auxentios (CTOS: Etna, CA, 1999), p. 44]

The Seventh Ecumenical Council: “Heresy separates every man from the Church.” [Mansi, Vol. xii, col. 1022Cd; Praktika, Vol. II, p. 733a (First Session)]

St. John Chrysostom: “The universal [catholic] Church is a great paradise,...and should anyone be found in the Church ailing with heretical error from the teaching of the serpent,...then he is cast out of this paradise, even as Adam was cast out from the paradise [of old].” [PG 59:545CD]

St. Athanasios the Great writes about the Arian heretics: “Those who call these men ‘Christians’ are in great and grievous error, as neither having studied Scripture, nor understanding Christianity at all, and the faith which it contains. For what have they discovered in this heresy like to the religious Faith, that they vainly talk as if its supporters said no evil? This in truth is to call even Caiaphas a Christian, and to reckon the traitor Judas still among the apostles.” [Four Discourses Against the Arians, “Discourse I,” Ch. 1, ¶¶ 1, 2, NPNF 2nd Ser., IV:306]

St. Cyril, Archbishop Of Jerusalem

St. Cyril, Archbishop Of Jerusalem: “‘There is one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism’ [Eph. 4:5], and this is what we believe with all our soul, with all our heart, and with all our mind: that there is salvation in none other than in Jesus Christ the Nazarene [cf. Acts 4:10-12]. And this is what we piously believe and follow. And we recognize that works without true doctrine are not accepted by God, neither is true doctrine without works accepted by God. For what profit is it, to know well the doctrines concerning God, and yet to be a vile fornicator? And again, what profit is it, to be nobly temperate, and an impious blasphemer? A most precious possession therefore is the knowledge of doctrines: also there is need of a wakeful soul, since there are many that make spoil through philosophy and vain deceit. The Greeks on the one hand draw men away by their smooth tongue, for honey droppeth from a harlot’s lips: whereas they of the circumcision deceive those who come to them by means of the divine Scriptures, which they miserably misinterpret though studying them from childhood to all age, and growing old in ignorance. But the children of heretics, by their good words and smooth tongue, deceive the hearts of the innocent, disguising with the name of Christ as it were with honey the poisoned arrows of their impious doctrines: concerning all of whom together the Lord saith, ‘Take heed lest any man mislead you.’ This is the reason for the teaching of the Creed and for expositions upon it.” [Catechetical Lectures - Lecture 4: On Ten Points Of Doctrine]

St. Ignatius the Godbearer, Hieromartyr of Antioch (2nd C.): “I therefore, yet not I, but the love of Jesus Christ, entreat you that ye use Christian nourishment only, and abstain from herbage of a different kind; I mean heresy. For heretics mix up Jesus Christ with their own poison, speaking things which are unworthy of credit, like those who administer a deadly drug in sweet wine, which he who is ignorant of does greedily take, with a fatal pleasure leading to his own death.” (Epistle to the Trallians)

St. Isidore of Pelusium: “Just as the fishermen hide the hook with bait and covertly hook the fish, similarly, the crafty allies of the heresies cover their evil teachings and corrupt understanding with pietism and hook the more simple, bringing them to spiritual death.” [“Letter to Timothy the Reader,” Patrologia Graeca 78, 252C]

St. Nikephoros the Confessor, Patriarch of Constantinople (d. 828), says concerning iconoclasts who previously signed an Orthodox confession of faith at the 7th Ecumenical Council but after that fell again into heresy: “All these things were confessed with their own hands by those who have separated themselves from the Church now. And if they renounce their own confession, then they trample upon their own crosses and put themselves under the aforementioned anathematization and in no case are they within the Church.” (“Word in defense of the universal Church regarding the new dispute about the holy icons”)

Blessed Met. Anthony (Khrapovitsky) of Kiev and Galicia

Blessed Met. Anthony (Khrapovitsky) of Kiev and Galicia (+ 1936): “Before the sixteenth century all religious societies calling themselves Christian agreed that God’s grace lives in only one faith tradition, in only one self-identified Church, while all of the others are the same as heathens and tax collectors. They are heretics, strangers to grace, whom the Church of the Seven Ecumenical Councils has never called Christians, as is evident from the 31st Canon of the Council of Laodicea and from the 95th Canon of the Sixth Ecumenical Council.” [1st Letter to Robert Gardiner of the Episcopal Church in America, Vera i Razum #4 (1915), pp. 453-469]

In The Spiritual Meadow of St. John Moschus, we read: “Once a monk called Theophan came to see the great elder Kyriakos....” He then tells the elder that in his country he is in contact with Nestorians. Whereupon, “the elder begins to try to convince the monk of his error and to pray that he abandon that fatal heresy and join himself to the holy catholic and apostolic Church.”

“‘It is impossible to be saved (without right belief).’” The monk is interested and the elder offers him his cell saying, “‘I have hope that God in His mercy will reveal the truth to you.’

“And leaving the monk in his cave, the elder set out for the Dead Sea, praying for the monk as he went. And indeed the next day about the ninth hour the monk sees someone, strange in appearance, who says to him, ‘Come and find out the truth.’ And taking him he leads him to a gloomy, stinking place emitting flames and shows him Nestorius and Theodore (of Mopsuestia), Eftyches and Apollonarius, Evagrius and Didymus, Dioscorus and Severus, Arius and Origen, and others. And pointing at them he says to the monk, ‘That is the place prepared for heretics and those who taught falsely about the Mother of God and those who follow their teachings. If you do not want to taste the same punishment, turn to the holy catholic and apostolic Church to which the elder who is instructing you belongs. I tell you: even though a man be adorned with all the works of charity, but does not have right belief he will find himself in that place.

“With these words the monk came to himself. When the elder [Kyriakos] returned, the monk told him everything that he had seen and in a short time joined himself to the holy, catholic, and apostolic Church. Staying in the monastery of Kalamon he lived with the elder for some years and died in peace.” [Spiritual Meadow, cited in “Commentary on the Latest Recommendations of the ‘Joint Commision For Theological Dialogue Between the Orthodox And Oriental Churches,’” Orthodox Life, vol. 42, no. 3 (May-June 1991), p. 17.]


Anyone That Would Be Saved Must Depart From Heresy and Join the True Orthodox Church

St. Athanasius the Great

St. Athanasius the Great, Patriarch of Alexandria: “One might say much more against this detestable and antichristian heresy.... But...in order that our words may not be too many, it will be well to content ourselves with the divine Scripture, and that we all obey the precept which it has been given us both in regard to other heresies, and especially respecting this. That precept is as follows; ‘Depart ye, depart ye, go ye out from thence, touch no unclean thing; go ye out of the midst of them, and be ye separate, that bear the vessels of the Lord.’ This may suffice to instruct us all, so that if anyone has been deceived by them, he may go out from them, as out of Sodom, and not return again unto them, lest he suffer the fate of Lot’s wife; and if anyone has continued from the beginning pure from this impious thing, heresy, he may glory in Christ and say, ‘We have not stretched out our hands to a strange god; neither have we worshipped the works of our own hands, nor served the creature more than Thee, the God that hast created all things through Thy Word, the only-begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, through Whom to Thee the Father together with the same Word in the Holy Spirit be glory and power forever and ever. Amen.’” (History of the Arians, 80)

From the Sayings of the Desert Fathers: “Abba Theodore used to say, ‘If thou hast affection for a man, and it happeneth that he fall into temptation, stretch out thy hand to him, and lift him up therefrom, but if he fall into heresy, and will not be persuaded by thee to return, cut him off from thee immediately, lest, if thou tarry long with him, thou be drawn unto him, and thou sink down into the uttermost depths.’” (The Sayings of the Desert Fathers, 315)


If You Are in Communion with Heretics, You Will Likewise Perish, for Communion Means You Have the Same Faith

“‘Come out from the midst of them, and be separated,’ saith the Lord, ‘and cease touching the unclean thing,’ and I will receive you.” (Is. 52:11; 2 Cor. 6:17)

St. Basil the Great, Archbishop of Caesarea in Cappodocia (4th C.): “As for all those who pretend to confess sound Orthodox Faith, but are in communion with people who hold a different opinion, if they are forewarned and still remain stubborn, you must not only not be in communion with them, but you must not even call them brothers.” (Patrologia Orientalis, Vol. 17, p. 303)

“Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to withdraw yourselves from every brother who walketh disorderly, and not according to the tradition which they received from us.” (2 Thess. 3:6)

Pope St. Leo the Great: “Wherefore, since outside the Catholic Church there is nothing perfect, nothing undefiled, the apostle declaring that ‘all that is not of faith is sin’ (Rom. 14:23), we are in no way likened with those who are divided from the unity of the body of Christ; we are joined in no communion.” (Sermon 129)

St. John of Damascus

St. John of Damascus: “With all our strength let us beware lest we receive Communion from or give it to heretics. ‘Give not what is holy to the dogs,’ says the Lord. ‘Neither cast ye your pearls before swine,’ lest we become partakers in their dishonor and condemnation.” [An Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith, IV, 13]

From the Prologue: “[The holy Martyr Hermenegild] was the son of the Gothic King Luvigeld, who held the Arian heresy. Hermenegild, however, did not turn from Orthodoxy, in spite of the flattery and threats of his brutal, heretic father. His father threw him into prison and, on Pascha, sent a heretic bishop early in the morning to give him Communion. This man of God would not receive Communion at the hands of a heretic; a fact that the bishop passed on to the king. The king was furious, and ordered the executioners to cut off Hermenegild's head, which came to pass in 586.” [November 1st, Bishop Nikolai Velimirovic, The Prologue of Ochrid, translated by Mother Maria, published by Lazarica Press, Birmingham, England, 1985.]

St. Basil the Great, Archbishop of Caesarea in Cappodocia (4th C.): “I therefore urge that these errors receive ecclesiastical correction and that ye abstain from communion with the heretics. I know that we are deprived of our liberty in Christ by indifference on these points.” (“Epistle 262, To the Monk Urbicius,” NPNF2, X: 301)

St. Martin the Wonder-worker of Tours

From the Life of St. Martin the Wonder-worker of Tours: “[Martin] was filled with mourning and lamentation that he had even for an hour been mixed up with an evil communion.... Therefore, from that time forward, he carefully guarded against being mixed up in communion with the party of Ithacius.” [Sulpitius Severus, The Life of Saint Martin, “Dialogue III,” Ch. 13, NPNF2, XI:52]

St. Mark of Ephesus: “Flee, brethren! Flee communion with the incommunicable and the commemoration of the uncommemorative.” [“The Life of St. Mark of Ephesus,” January 19th, The Great Synaxaristes, p. 765.]

Saint John the Almsgiver

From the Life of St. John the Almsgiver, Patriarch of Alexandria (7th C.): “Another thing the blessed man taught and insisted upon with all was never on any occasion whatsoever to associate with heretics and, above all, never to take the Holy Communion with them, ‘even if,’ the blessed man said, ‘you remain without communicating all your life, if through stress of circumstances you cannot find a community of the catholic Church. For if, having legally married a wife in this world of the flesh, we are forbidden by God and by the laws to desert her and be united to another woman, even though we have to spend a long time separated from her in a distant country, and shall incur punishment if we violate our vows, how then shall we, who have been joined to God through the Orthodox Faith and the Catholic Churchas the apostle says: ‘I espoused you to one husband that I might present you as a pure virgin to Christ’ (2 Cor. 11:2)how shall we escape from sharing in that punishment which in the world to come awaits heretics, if we defile the Orthodox and holy Faith by adulterous communion with heretics?

“For ‘communion,’ he said, ‘has been so called because he who has ‘communion’ has things in common and agrees with those with whom he has ‘communion.’ Therefore I implore you earnestly, children, never to go near the oratories of the heretics in order to communicate there.’” [Three Byzantine Saints, “The Life of Saint John the Almsgiver”, Translators: E. Dawes & N. H. Baynes, St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, Crestwood: 1977; p. 251]

New-martyr Bishop Victor of Glazov: “May the Lord not harden the hearts of those who signed the Declaration, but may they repent and turn and may their sins be washed away. But if it be not so, then let us guard ourselves from communion with them, knowing that communion with those who have fallen away is our own renunciation of Christ the Lord.” (Russia’s Catacomb Saints, p. 145)

St. Joseph Volotsky (d. 1515), who confronted the heresy of the Judaizers, said: “If he will turn out to be a heretic, we will try not to receive either his teaching or his Communion, and not only will we receive no Communion from him, but we will condemn him and expose him with all our power, so that we do not become partakers of his perdition.” (The Enlightener, Word no. VII)

St. Leo the Great (5th C.): “We will have no dealings with rebel heretics, remembering the Lord’s command, Who says, ‘Give not that which is holy to the dogs, nor cast your pearls before swine’ (Mt. 7:6). Surely it is altogether unworthy and unjust to admit to freedom of discussion men whom the Holy Spirit describes in the words of the prophet: ‘Sons that are strangers have lied unto me’ (Ps. 17:46).” [“Letter CLXII, To Leo Augustus,” § 4, NPNF2, XII:105]

St. John Chrysostom (347-407): “Do not have any communion with them (heretics)do not eat with them, do not drink, do not bind friendships with them, neither relationships, neither love, neither peace.... Because if someone links up with heretics in these things, he becomes alien to the Catholic Church.” (“A word about false prophets, false teachers, about heretics, and about the signs of the end of this age,” Ch. 7)

St. Gregory the Theologian: “Avoid those holding to another doctrine and consider them alien to God and to the universal Church.” (Second Epistle Against Apollinarius)

St. Theodore the Studite: “Even if one should give away all his possessions in the world, and yet be in communion with heresy, he cannot be a friend of God, but is rather an enemy.” (PG 99, 1205)

St. Leo the Great

St. Leo the Great, speaking of the Monophysite heretics: “Let no Christian have aught in common with men of this kind; let him have no alliance or intercourse with such.” [“Sermon XXXIV, On the Feast of the Epiphany IV,” § V, NPNF2, XII:149]

New Hieromartyr Bishop Mark (Novoselov), when the heresy of the “Living Church” appeared in 1922, helped compose the following statement: “The Orthodox people must decisively reject the [Renovationist] usurpers of Church authority, not entering into communion with them and not allowing the prayerful commemoration of their names in the churches. Those Orthodox priests and laymen who will continue to support ecclesiastical communion with the self-made schismatic hierarchy are thereby expelled with it from the body of the Church, that is, they have separated themselves from Christ." ["Brotherly Warning to the Children of the True Church of Christ," V. Moss, “24. HIEROMARTYR BISHOP MARK OF SERGIEV POSAD”]

St. Theodore the Studite: “[John] Chrysostom loudly declares not only heretics, but also those who have communion with them, to be enemies of God.” (“Epistle to Abbot Theophilus”)

Saint Kyril of Alexandria (+ 444): “It is therefore unlawful, and a profanation, and an act the punishment of which is death, to love to associate with unholy heretics, and to unite oneself to their communion.”

Germanos II, Patriarch of Constantinople: “I adjure all the people in Cyprus who are true children of the Catholic Church to flee as fast as their feet can carry them from those priests who have fallen and submitted to the Latins; neither assemble in church with them, nor receive any blessing from their hands. For it is better for you to pray to God in your homes alone than to gather together in churches with the Latin-minded.” (PG 140, 620A)

St. Nectarios of Aegina

St. Nectarios of Aegina (d. 1920): “The lack of external communion [with heretics] defends us from an internal estrangement [from God].” [“About the relationship with heretics,” Publ. Papangopoulos apud Fr. Sava Lavriotis – Patristic Interpretation of the 15th Canon]

St. Theodore the Studite: “Guard yourselves from soul-destroying heresy, communion with which is alienation from Christ.” (P.G. 99.1216)

St. Athanasios the Great: “There are certain [ones] who, while they affirm that they do not hold with Arius, yet compromise themselves and worship with his party; I have been compelled, at the insistence of certain most sincere brethren, to write at once in order that keeping faithfully and without guile the pious Faith which God’s grace works in you, you may not give occasion of scandal to the brethren. For when any sees you, the faithful in Christ, associate and communicate with such people, certainly they will think it a matter of indifference and will fall into the mire of irreligion. Lest, then, this should happen, be pleased, beloved, to shun those who hold the impiety [of Arius], and moreover to avoid those who, while they pretend not to hold with Arius, yet worship with the impious. And we are specially bound to fly from the communion of men whose opinions we hold in execration. If, then, any come to you, and, as blessed John says, brings with him right doctrine, say to him, ‘Fare-thee-well’ (2 Jn. 10), and receive such a one as a brother. But if any pretend that he confesses the right faith, but appear to communicate with those others, exhort him to abstain from such communion, and if he promise to do so, treat him as a brother, but if he persist in a contentious spirit, him avoid. I might greatly lengthen my letter, adding from the divine Scriptures the outline of this teaching. But since, being wise men, you can anticipate those who write, and rather, being intent upon self-denial, are fit to instruct others also, I have dictated a short letter, as from one loving friend to others, in the confidence that living as you do you will preserve a pure and sincere faith, and that those persons [who have communion with Arius], seeing that you do not join with them in worship, will derive benefit, fearing lest they be accounted as impious, and as those who hold with them (heretics).” [“Letter LIII. Second Letter to Monks,” NPNF 2nd Ser., IV:564.]

From the Ecclesiastical History of Theodoret: “After the banishment of the great [Pope Saint] Liberius (ca. 355), one of his deacons, named Felix, had been appointed bishop. He preserved inviolate the doctrines set forth in the Nicene confession of faith, yet he held communion with those who had corrupted that faith. For this reason none of the citizens of Rome would enter the house of prayer while he was in it.” [Book II, Ch. XIV, NPNF 2nd Ser., III:79.]

St. Pachomios the Great

From the Life of St. Pachomios the Great (292-348): “103. Upon another day it happened that the Lord sent our father Pachomios a vision. He looked and saw the aspect of a dark and gloomy hell, in the midst of which stood a pillar. Voices were heard from all sides making an outcry and saying, 'Here is the light, here close to us.' The men in that place were groping their way, for great was the darkness of that gloomy place and very frightening. Then when they would hear, 'Here is the light, here close to us,' they would run there seeking the light and wanting to see it; but when they ran forward they would hear another voice behind them, 'Here is the light, over here'; and at once they would turn to the rear seeking the light because of the voices they had heard. He saw also in the vision some of those who were in the darkness, as if circling a pillar and thinking they were going forward and drawing near the light, not realizing that they were only turning around a pillar. He looked again and saw in that place the community of the Koinonia (his brotherhood of 7500 monks) walking one after the other, holding fast to each other for fear of getting lost by reason of that deep darkness. Those who were in front had a small light like that of a lamp to light their way; only four of the brothers saw that light, while all the rest saw no light whatever. Our father Pachomios watched their way of progressing; if one let go his hold on the man in front of him, he would lose his way in the darkness, along with all those who came after him. He saw one of them, called Paniski, a great man among the brothers, refusing with a few others to walk behind the man in front showing them the way. Then the man of God Pachomios called them each by name in his ecstasy before they should give up, saying, 'Hold to the man in front for fear of going astray!' The small light that went before the brothers continued in front of them until it reached a great opening through which a great light on high was coming; they climbed up to it. This opening was fitted with a great trap to keep the light from falling below and to keep those who were in the dark from going out by it.

“After he had seen this our father Pachomios was likewise instructed on the interpretation of the vision by the one who had shown him all this: 'The image of the hell that you saw is this world; the gloomy darkness that reigns there are all the stupid errors and vain cares. As for the men who are there, they are the souls without knowledge; and the voices crying 'Here is the light, here close us,' are the heretics and the schismatics, each of which says, ‘Ours is the right opinion.’ The pillars around which they walk in circles are the authors of error the simple ones trusted in, because they said, ‘We are they who save; the others are those who lead astray.’ The brothers showing the way are all those who love the Lord and walk in the right Faith as it is written, ‘For ye are all one in Christ.’ He was told also, ‘Those of the brothers who let go their hold stand for bishops who are in the right Faith of Christ, but are in communion with the heretics and mislead many of those they teach and especially men who have no malice; they neglect those who behave well and give scandal to many, as it is written, “Woe to him through whom scandal comes.”’

“The small light guiding the brothers is the Gospel, divine truth; truly he who is deluded by himself and by his passions is not pure, as it is written, ‘Among them God has blinded the hearts of the faithless ones of this age that they might not see the light of the Gospel of Christ, Who is the image of God.’ That is also why that light is small, for in the holy Gospels it is written about the kingdom of heaven, ‘It is like a mustard seed,’ which is small. As to the flood of light coming in on high through the opening, it is the word spoken by the apostle, ‘Until we all might come to the unity of the faith, and of the full knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of the Christ’ (Eph. 4:13).

“When our father Pachomios had seen this, he called the brothers whom in his vision he had seen letting go their hold and advised them to struggle in the fear of the Lord and to live. And when they had left him, they did not pay heed to getting rid of their negligence and their contempt; on the contrary, they persevered in their former attitude so that they became strangers to the brothers and to the everlasting life of the Lord Jesus.” [Pachomian Koinonia; the Lives, Rules, and Other Writings of Saint Pachomios and His Disciples, Cistercian Study Series, Number 45; (Kalamazoo, Michigan: Cistercian Publications Inc., 1980)]

St. Nikephoros the Confessor

St. Nikephoros the Confessor (+ 828): “I anathematize those who relinquished the tradition of the saints and joined the depraved and deadly teachings of those who dared to sow tares in the field of the Orthodox Faith and all those who follow them, as a shame for the Church of Christ; I abhor and anathematize them.” (“Epistle to Pope Leo III,” quoted in Breaking communion with heretics and the 15th canon (I-II Constantinople), St. Ignaty Brianchaninov Orthodox Brotherhood, Chisinau, 2017)

St. Theodore the Studite (9th C.): “Regarding the Faith, the heretics were utterly shipwrecked; but concerning the others, even if in their thinking they did not founder, nevertheless, on account of their communion with heresy, they too were destroyed alongside the others.” (Epistles, Bk. 2, “Epistle 15, To the Patriarch of Jerusalem,” PG 99:1164AB)


We Must Abandon Bishops That Are Heretics or Are in Communion with Them

The holy Apostle Paul: “For I know this, that after my departure grievous wolves shall enter in among you, not sparing the flock, and among your own selves men shall rise up, speaking things which have been perverted, to draw away the disciples after themselves.” (Acts 20:29, 30)

“It is necessary, then, for the bishop to be blameless.” (1 Tim. 3:2)

“Beloved, cease believing every spirit, but keep on putting the spirits to the test, if they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” [1 Jn. 4:1]

Apostle Peter

“But false prophets arose among the people, as also there shall be false teachers among you, who shall introduce privily heresies of destruction.” [2 Pet. 2:1]

“For such are false apostles, guileful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And a marvellous thing it is not; for Satan himself transformeth himself into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves as ministers of righteousness.” [2 Cor. 11:13-15]

Prophet Jeremiah

The holy Prophet Jeremiah: “Woe to the shepherds that destroy and scatter the sheep of their pasture! Therefore thus saith the Lord against them that tend my people: Ye have scattered My sheep, and driven them out, and ye have not visited them.... Thus saith the Lord Almighty, Hearken not to the words of the prophets: for they frame a vain vision for themselves; they speak from their own heart, and not from the mouth of the Lord.... I sent not the prophets, yet they ran: neither spoke I to them, yet they prophesied.” (Jer. 23:1, 2, 16, 21)

Prophet Ezekiel

Prophet Ezekiel: “Thus saith the Lord: Because your words are false, and your prophecies are vain, therefore, behold, I am against you, saith the Lord. And I will stretch forth My hand against the prophets that see false visions, and those that utter vanities; they shall not partake of the instruction of My people, neither shall they be written in the roll of the house of Israel, and they shall not enter into the land of Israel; and they shall know that I am the Lord. Because they have caused My people to err, saying, ‘Peace,’ and there is no peace.” (Ezek. 13:8-10)

“And if there arise within thee a prophet, or one who dreams a dream, and he gives thee a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder come to pass which he spoke to thee, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which ye know not; ye shall not hearken to the words of that prophet, or the dreamer of that dream, because the Lord thy God tries you, to know whether ye love your God with all your heart and with all your soul. Ye shall follow the Lord your God, and fear Him, and ye shall hear His voice, and attach yourselves to Him. And that prophet or that dreamer of a dream shall die; for he has spoken to make thee err from the Lord thy God Who brought thee out of the land of Egypt, Who redeemed thee from bondage, to thrust thee out of the way which the Lord thy God commanded thee to walk in.” (Deut. 13:1-5)

Saint Athanasius the Great, Patriarch of Alexandria: “As we walk the unerring and life-bringing path, let us pluck out the eye that scandalizes us, not the physical eye, but the noetic one. For example, if a bishop,...who is the eyes of the Church, conduct himself in an evil manner and scandalize the people, he must be plucked out. For it is more profitable to gather without him in a house of prayer, than to be cast together with him into the gehenna of fire together with Annas and Caiaphas.” (Migne PG 26, 1257 C)

St. Ignatius the God-bearer: “Do not err, my brethren. Those that corrupt families shall not inherit the kingdom of God. And if those that corrupt mere human families are condemned to death, how much more shall those suffer everlasting punishment who endeavor to corrupt the Church of Christ, for which the Lord Jesus, the only-begotten Son of God, endured the Cross, and submitted to death! Whosoever, ‘being waxen fat,’ and ‘become gross,’ sets at nought His doctrine, shall go into gehenna. In like manner, everyone that has received from God the power of distinguishing, and yet follows an unskillful shepherd, and receives a false opinion for the truth, shall be punished. What communion hath light with darkness? or Christ with Belial? Or what portion hath he that believeth with an infidel? or the temple of God with idols? And in like manner say I, what communion hath truth with falsehood? or righteousness with unrighteousness? or true doctrine with that which is false?... Let no one be anointed with the bad odor of the doctrine of [the prince of] this world; let not the holy Church of God be led captive by his subtlety, as was the first woman. Why do we not, as gifted with reason, act wisely? When we had received from Christ, and had grafted in us the faculty of judging concerning God, why do we fall headlong into ignorance? and why, through a careless neglect of acknowledging the gift which we have received, do we foolishly perish?” (Ephesians, Ch. 16)

St. Gennadios Scholarios, Patriarch of Constantinople: “Keep an eye on your bishops as far as their Orthodoxy is concerned, lest they go so far as to teach doctrines against the true Faith or celebrate with heretics and schismatics.”

Saint Philaret the Confessor, First-Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad: “The clergy and flock receive grace from the hierarchy, and if it [the hierarchy] has betrayed the truth and deprived itself of grace, from where then does the clergy have grace?” (Letter to Fr. Victor Potapov concerning Dimitri Dudko)

Martyrs of Athos

From the “Letter of the Monks of Mt. Athos to the Emperor Michael Paleologos,” (13th C.): “For if simply saying ‘fare-thee-well [2 Jn. 10]’ makes us communicants of another’s evil works, how much more is this the case with the official commemoration of one during the celebration of the divine and fearful Mysteries?... The Orthodox Church of God from the very beginning has acknowledged that mentioning a hierarch’s name inside the sanctuary means complete communion with him; for it is recorded in the interpretation of the Divine Liturgy that when the celebrant commemorates the bishop’s name, he thus demonstrates his submission to a superior, and that he is in communion with him, and a follower of him in the Faith and in the holy Mysteries....

“And God indicated exactly this, saying, ‘Her priests also have set at nought My law, and profaned My holy things [Ezek. 22:26].’ How? Because ‘they have not distinguished between the holy and profane,’ but have regarded all things as common. Yet, shall we allow this by using ‘economia’? But how could such an ‘economia,’ which defiles divine things and drives away the Holy Spirit, be permitted in accordance with what God has said? It would result in the loss of the adoption [as children of God] of the faithful and sever them from forgiveness of sins. Could there truly be any ‘economia’ more pernicious than this?” [Dossier Grec de l’Union de Lyon (1273-1277), ed. by V. Laurent and J. Darrouzes, Archives de l’Orient Chrétien, Vol. 16 (Paris: Institut Français d’études byzantines, 1976), pp. 397-401.]

St. Sophronios of Jerusalem (d. 637): “If any should separate themselves from someone, not on the pretext of a [moral] offence, but on account of a heresy that has been condemned by a synod or by the holy fathers, they are worthy of honor and approbation, for they are the Orthodox.” [P.G. 87, 3369D-3372A; quoted in Orthodox Tradition, vol. XVIII, No. 2 (2001), pp. 2-15.]

New-martyr Archbishop Andrew of Ufa (d. 1937): "All followers of the lying Metropolitan Sergei are themselves filled with lies and evil, and have fallen away from the truth of Christ; they have fallen away from Christ's Church. The Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church is somewhere, in some other place, but not with Metropolitan Sergei, not with his ‘synod.’” (M. Zelenogorsky, The Life and Work of Archbishop Andrew, p. 216)

Saint Mark of Ephesus

St. Mark of Ephesus: “Exhort the priests of God in every way to avoid communion with him [the Latin-minded Metropolitan of Athens] and not to concelebrate with him or commemorate him at all, and not to consider this man a hierarch, but a wolf and a hireling.” (“Epistle to Hieromonk Theophanes in Evripos,” Patrologia Græca, Vol. CLX, cols. 1096D-1100A)

The Apostolic Constitutions declare: “[God] will judge between one bishop and another, and between one lay person and another, and between one ruler and another (for these sheep and these rams are not irrational, but rational creatures); lest at any time a lay person should say, ‘I am a sheep and not a shepherd, and I am not concerned for myself; let the shepherd look to that, for he alone will be required to give an account for me.’ For as that sheep that will not follow its good shepherd is exposed to the wolves, to its destruction; so that which follows a bad shepherd is also exposed to unavoidable death, since his shepherd will devour him. Wherefore care must be had to avoid destructive shepherds.” [Bk. II, Sec. III:XIX, ANF VII:404.]

Saint Meletios the Confessor of Mt. Galesion (+ 1283): “Submit not yourselves to monastics, nor to presbyters, who teach lawless things and evilly propound them. And why do I say only monastics or presbyters? Follow not even after bishops who guilefully exhort you to do and say and believe things that are not profitable. What pious man will keep silence, or who will remain altogether at peace? For silence means consent. Oftentimes war is known to be praiseworthy, and a battle proves to be better than a peace that harms the soul. For it is better to separate ourselves from them who do not believe aright than to follow them in evil concord, and by our union with them separate ourselves from God.” [quoted in “Ecumenism,” A Monk’s Topical Bible E-K, Bk. 2, Vol. 4, (Revelation Insight Publishing Co., 2012), p. 30]

Saint John Chrysostom

St. John Chrysostom: “If from a ship thou take away the helmsman, thou wilt sink the vessel; so too if from a flock thou remove the shepherd, thou hast overthrown and destroyed all.... When the ruler is bad,...no small evil it is, but even 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 destruction. How then does Paul say, ‘Be obedient to those who lead you, and keep on submitting [Heb. 13:17]’? Having said above, ‘whose faith keep on imitating, observing attentively the end of their conduct [Heb. 13:7],’ he then said, ‘Be obedient to those who lead you, and keep on submitting.’ ‘What then (you say), when he is wicked should we obey?’ Wicked? In what sense? If indeed in regard to the Faith, flee and avoid him; not only if he be a man, but even if he be an angel come down from heaven; but if in regard to life, be not overly-curious.... ‘Cease judging, that ye be not judged [Mt. 7:1]’ concerns life, not faith.” (Hebrews, “Homily XXXIV,” NPNF 1st Ser., XIV:518, 519)

St. Photius the Great, Patriarch of Constantinople: “Is the shepherd a heretic? Then he is a wolf! You must flee from him; do not be deceived to approach him even if he appears gentle and tame. Flee from communion and conversation with him even as you would flee from a poisonous snake.” (Homily Fifteen, 10)

Saint Maximos the Confessor (ca. 580-662): “I cannot enter into communion with the throne of Constantinople, because the leaders of that patriarchate have rejected the resolutions of the four œcumenical synods. Instead, as their rule, they have accepted the Alexandrian Nine Chapters. Thereafter, they accepted the Ekthesis of Patriarch Sergios (heretical statements of faith),...thereby excommunicating themselves many times over. Together with having excommunicated themselves, they have been deposed and deprived of the priesthood.... What Mysteries can such persons perform? What spirit comes upon what they celebrate or those ordained by them?... Were the universe to enter into communion with the [Monothelite] patriarch, I should never commune with him. Take heed of the words of the Holy Spirit through the apostle: ‘Even if we, or an angel from out of heaven, should preach a gospel to you besides what Gospel we preached to you, let such a one be anathema [Gal. 1:8].’” [“The Life of St. Maximos the Confessor,” January 21st, The Great Synaxaristes, pp. 857, 858.]

St. Mark of Ephesus said regarding the Latinizing Patriarch of Constantinople: “I am absolutely convinced that the farther I stand from him and those like him, the nearer I am to God and all the saints; and to the degree that I separate myself from them am I in union with the truth and with the holy fathers, the theologians of the Church.” [A. Pogodin, “Address of St. Mark on the Day of His Death,” Orthodox Word, Vol. 3, No. 3(14), June-July (Jordanville, NY: Holy Trinity Monastery, 1967), p. 104.]

Saint Nikephoros of Constantinople (d. 828): “Insofar as they have deprived themselves of that teaching of the Faith in which they had been consecrated, they have of necessity been deprived of their ordination and deposed as teaching other things.” [Minor Apologetics, § 270, PG 100:841BC.]


Heretics Are Deprived of the Grace of the Mysteries

Saint Firmilian of Caesarea (3rd C.): “Moreover, all other heretics, if they have separated themselves from the Church of God, can have nothing of power or of grace, since all power and grace are established in the Church where the elders preside, who possess the power both of baptizing, and of imposition of hands, and of ordaining. For as a heretic may not lawfully ordain nor lay on hands, so neither may he baptize, nor do any thing holily or spiritually, since he is an alien from spiritual and divinizing sanctity.” [“Epistle LXXIV, Firmilian to Cyprian,” § 7, ANF V:392.]

St. Ambrose of Milan

St. Ambrose of Milan: “The baptism of unbelievers does not heal, does not cleanse, but pollutes.” [On the Mysteries, Ch. 3(23), Fathers of the Church Vol. 44, p. 13.]

St. Cyprian of Carthage (3rd C.): “Those who come from thence (heresy) are not re-baptized among us, but are baptized.” [“Epistle LXX, To Quintus,” § 1, ANF V:377.]

Saint Athanasios the Great (ca. 296-373), Patriarch of Alexandria: “There are many other heresies too, which use the words only, but not in a right sense, as I have said, nor with sound faith; and in consequence, the water which they administer is unprofitable, as deficient in piety, so that he who is sprinkled by them is rather polluted by irreligion than redeemed.” [Against the Arians, “Discourse II,” Ch. XVIII, § 43, NPNF 2nd Ser., IV:371.]

St. Kyril of Jerusalem: “We may not receive Baptism twice or thrice.... For there is one Lord, and one Faith, and one Baptism (Eph. 4:5); for only the heretics are re-baptized, because the former was no baptism.” [Catechetical Lectures, “Procatechesis,” § 7, NPNF2, VII:3]

Saint Firmilian of Caesarea (3rd C.): “That, moreover, is absurd, that they do not think it is to be inquired who was the person that baptized, for the reason that he who has been baptized may have obtained grace by the invocation of the Trinity, of the names of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Then this will be the wisdom which Paul writes is in those who are perfected. But who in the Church is perfect and wise who can either defend or believe this, that this bare invocation of names is sufficient to the remission of sins and the sanctification of Baptism; since these things are only then of advantage when both he who baptizes has the Holy Spirit, and the baptism itself also is not ordained without the Spirit? But, say they, he who in any manner whatever is baptized outside [the Church], may obtain the grace of Baptism by his disposition and faith, which doubtless is ridiculous in itself, as if either a wicked disposition could attract to itself from heaven the sanctification of the righteous, or a false faith the truth of believers. But that not all who call on the name of Christ are heard, and that their invocation cannot obtain any grace, the Lord Himself manifests, saying, ‘Many shall come in My name, saying, I am Christ, and shall deceive many’ (Mk. 13:6). Because there is no difference between a false prophet and a heretic. For as the former deceives in the name of God or Christ, so the latter deceives in the sacrament of Baptism. Both strive by falsehood to deceive men’s wills.... Among them, the Holy Spirit is not at all.” [“Epistle LXXIV, Firmilian to Cyprian,” §§ 9, 11, ANF V:392, 393.]

Saint Firmilian of Caesarea (3rd C.): “How can baptism be spiritual among those among whom there is no Holy Spirit? And thus the water wherewith they are washed is to them only a carnal washing, not a sacrament of Baptism. But if the baptism of heretics can have the regeneration of the second birth, those who are baptized among them must be counted not heretics, but children of God. For the second birth, which occurs in Baptism, begets sons of God. But if the spouse of Christ is one, which is the Catholic Church, it is she herself who alone bears sons of God. For there are not many spouses of Christ, since the apostle says, ‘I have espoused you, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ’ (2 Cor. 11:2); and, ‘Hearken, O daughter, and behold, and incline thine ear; and forget thine own people, for the King hath greatly desired thy beauty’ (Ps. 44:11); and, ‘Come with me, my spouse, from Lebanon; thou shalt come, and shalt pass over from the source of thy faith’ (Song 4:8); and, ‘I am come into my garden, my sister, my spouse’ (Song 5:1). We see that one person is everywhere set forward, because also the spouse is one. But the synagogue of heretics is not one with us, because the spouse is not an adulteress and a harlot. Whence also she cannot bear children of God.... And therefore Christ our Lord, setting forth that His spouse is one, and declaring the sacrament of His unity, says, ‘He that is not with Me is against Me, and he that gathereth not with Me scattereth’ (Lk. 11:23). For if Christ is with us, but the heretics are not with us, certainly the heretics are in opposition to Christ; and if we gather with Christ, but the heretics do not gather with us, doubtless they scatter....

“And as the ark of Noah was nothing else than the mystery of the Church of Christ, which then, when all without were perishing, kept those only safe who were within the ark, we are manifestly instructed to look to the unity of the Church.... So now also, whoever are not in the Church with Christ will perish outside....

“But to what they allege and say on behalf of the heretics, that the apostle said, ‘Whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is preached’ (Phil. 1:18), it is idle for us to reply; when it is manifest that the apostle, in his epistle wherein he said this, made mention neither of heretics nor of baptism of heretics.... What then, say they, will become of those who, coming from the heretics, have been received without the Baptism of the Church? If they have departed this life, they are reckoned in the number of those who have been catechumens indeed among us, but have died before they were baptized—no trifling advantage of truth and faith, to which they had attained by forsaking error, although, being prevented by death, they had not gained the consummation of grace....

“What, then, is to be made of what is written, ‘Abstain from strange water, and drink not from a strange fountain’ (Prov. 9:19), if, leaving the sealed fountain of the Church, you take up strange water for your own, and pollute the Church with unhallowed fountains? For when you communicate with the baptism of heretics, what else do you do than drink from their slough and mud? And while you yourself are purged with the Church’s sanctification, you become befouled with the contact of the filth of others.” [“Epistle LXXIV, Firmilian to Cyprian,” §§ 13, 15, 20, 21, ANF V:393-395.]

Saint Philaret the Confessor, First-Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad: “Outside of Orthodoxy there is no grace; and the Soviet church has deprived itself of grace.” (Letter to Fr. Victor Potapov concerning Dimitri Dudko)

New Hieromartyr Tikhon, Patriarch of Moscow and Confessor

New Hieromartyr Tikhon, Patriarch of Moscow and Confessor (1865-1925): “They have separated themselves from the unity of the ecumenical Church and are deprived of God’s grace, which abides in Christ’s Church.... All the actions and sacraments performed by the bishops and priests who have fallen away from the Church are without grace; while the faithful who take part with them in prayer and sacraments not only do not receive sanctification, they are subject to condemnation for taking part in sin.” [Acts of His Holiness Patriarch Tikhon and the Latest Documents about the Succession of the Highest Church Authority: 1917-1943, ed. Archpriest Vladimir Vorobiov, compiled by M. E. Gubonin (Moscow, 1994), p. 291]

Saint Nikephoros says about heretical bishops: “They must have been deprived of the anointing of the Spirit as soon as they renounced the confession, for it is impossible for them to transgress the Faith with which they were anointed, and [at the same time] to carry out that which is given by the anointing.” [Apologetics of the Christian Faith, § 154, PG 100:548BC.]

Saint Basil the Great: “Do not be deceived by their lies when they (Arians) claim to be of the right Faith. They are not Christians, but traffickers in Christ, always preferring their profit in this life to living in accordance with the truth. When they thought that they should get this empty dignity, they joined the enemies of Christ; now that they have seen the indignation of the people, they are once more for pretending Orthodoxy. I do not recognize as bishop—I would not count among Christ’s clergy—a man who has been promoted to a chief post by polluted hands, to the destruction of the Faith.... I have written thus, not because I distrust you, but that by declaring my own mind I may strengthen some men’s hesitation, and prevent anyone from being prematurely received into communion, or after receiving the laying on of hands of our enemies, when peace is made, later on, trying to force me to enroll them in the ranks of the sacred ministry.” [“Letter CCXL, To the Presbyters of Nicopolis,” sec. 3, NPNF 2nd Ser. VIII:282]

Bishop Cæcilius of Bilta, at the Council of Carthage in 258: “I know only one Baptism in the Church, and none out of the Church. This one will be here, where there is the true hope and the certain Faith. For thus it is written: ‘One Faith, one hope, one Baptism [cf. Eph. 4:5]’; not among heretics, where there is no hope, and the faith is false, where all things are carried on by lying; where a demoniac exorcises; where one whose mouth and words send forth a cancer puts the sacramental interrogation; the faithless gives faith; the wicked bestows pardon of sins; and Antichrist baptizes in the name of Christ; he who is cursed of God blesses; he who is dead promises life; he who is unpeaceful gives peace; the blasphemer calls upon God; the profane person administers the office of the priesthood; the sacrilegious person establishes an altar. In addition to all these things, there is also this evil, that the priests of the devil dare to celebrate the Eucharist; or else let those who stand by them say that all these things concerning heretics are false. Behold to what kind of things the Church is compelled to consent, and is constrained, without Baptism, without pardon of sins, to hold communion. And this thing, brethren, we ought to flee from and avoid, and to separate ourselves from so great a wickedness, and to hold one Baptism, which is granted by the Lord to the Church alone.” (The Seventh Council of Carthage under Cyprian, ANF V:565, 566.)

From the Life of New-martyr Hilarion (Belsky): “Bishop Hilarion, formerly of Smolensk, was a most irreconcilable enemy of the declaration of Metropolitan Sergei of 1927; he rejected the sacraments performed by Sergianists, and for a second time baptized infants and married those already married in the ‘Soviet Church.’” (Protopresbyter M. Polsky, The New Martyrs of Russia).

St. Gregory Palamas, after being condemned in 1344 for ceasing to commemorate his patriarch, continued to serve and act as a bishop, saying, “If [bishops] abandon Orthodoxy, they lose not only their ecclesiastic authority, but even the title of Christians, and their anathemas have no value at all.” [“Rejection of the epistle of the Patriarch of Antioch,” “Letter to Nun Xenia,” PG 150, 1045BC]

St. Paisius Velichkovsky of Moldavia

From the life of St. Paisius Velichkovsky of Moldavia: “He was so apprehensive about heresies and schisms that all who were converted, whether from sects or from the western Latin heresies, he baptized.” [This was stated by the Moldavian ascetic Schema-monk John who was a contemporary of St. Paisius.]

Blessed Met. Anthony (Khrapovitsky), First-Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad (d. 1936): “God’s grace is a spiritual treasure of the Church and it pours into it as into Christ’s spiritual body. It really does not conform to the spiritual nature of our faith to bring it down to the level of magic, which is performed outside of any other conditions on the basis of a single spell, as the word ‘Sesame’ opened the mythological cave containing diamonds in the Arabic Thousand and One Nights fairy tales. Why, the Apostle Peter wrote that ‘not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God saves us’ (1 Pet. 1:21). And in the same exact way, in the Exposition of the Orthodox Faith by John of Damascus, which was used as a learner’s catechism until the last century for Eastern Christians, it says outright that grace is not granted in a baptism without correct faith and repentance, and that the water of ablution remains plain water for such a person.... Heretics have neither the primacy of priesthood (they are all ‘laymen’) nor sacraments, but if some of them are received as priests, and especially without repeating water baptism, it is not because they were recognized as baptized or ordained to the priesthood but because the grace of Baptism and the Priesthood is granted them in the Mystery of Chrismation or even by simple Confession. Only in this way can it be explained why the same heretics were received sometimes by Baptism, sometimes by Chrismation, and sometimes just by Confession (see Ap. Canon 46, 1st Ecum. Council 7, 8, 11, 6th Ecum. Council 95, Carthage 68, Basil the Great 1, etc.), as well as why different local churches receive the same heretics in different ways—through the first order (Baptism), the second order (Chrismation), or the third (Confession). This does not depend and did not depend on the evolution of a heresy, as you write, but on divine economy, as St. Basil explains in his First Canon. If a heresy is aggressive, its followers are received through a strict order, to demonstrate its ruinous nature, and if it is obsolete and disappearing the external order of receiving heretics is lightened from the first to the third ‘so as not to put obstacles to the conversion of many,’ as is explained in the First Canon of St. Basil.... Almost all, if not all, of the sayings that you cite do not concern the issue of heretics’ grace and the salvific significance of their sacraments but rather the practical issue of the means of receiving their orders. We find this issue’s various solutions in the Church’s decrees cited above, in which the idea of the lack of grace in the sacraments of heretics and schismatics is expressed with total clarity, and at the same time it is stated directly that in the issue of the manner of the reception of heretics ‘it is necessary to follow the custom obtaining in each particular country.’... For all such neophytes [like Muslims or Jews], as well as those baptized in the name of Montanus and Priscilla, would themselves not have the pretension to enter the Church without immersion with the words ‘In the name of the Father,’ etc. Only those heretics and schismatics whose baptism, services, and hierarchical structure differ little on the surface from those of the Church can have such a pretext, since they have a vague understanding of grace in the Church. They find it very offensive to be placed on the same level as heathens and Jews when converting to the Church. This is why the Church, in condescending to their weakness, did not perform the external action of Baptism over them.... I find totally incomprehensible your statement that the teaching on the gracelessness of heretical sacraments did not appear before the eighteenth century. On the contrary, the entire Church in all of its definitions by the ecumenical councils taught that heretics were graceless, their hierarchical authority ceased, and they could not be called Christians, following the Savior’s known words.” [Third Letter to the Anglican Robert H. Gardiner, July 16, 1916, Вера и разум, ном. 8-9, 1916]

St. Theodore the Studite the Confessor: “Heretics’ communion is not the body and blood of Christ but the food of the devil.” [quoted in Met. Anthony’s Third Letter to the Anglican Robert H. Gardiner, July 16, 1916, Вера и разум, ном. 8-9, 1916]

The Seventh Ecumenical Council: “‘Grace and truth came by Jesus Christ [cf. Jn. 1:17].’ But as they have deserted the truth, in which the writer of the Proverbs glories, saying, ‘My throat shall meditate truth [Prov. 8:7],’ and having embraced falsehood, it is evident that they have fallen from grace also.” [Sixth Session, The Seventh General Council, tr. by J. Mendham (London: W. E. Painter, 1850), p. 309.]

St. Irenaeos of Lyons: “For it behooves us to make an oblation to God, and in all things to be found grateful to God our Maker, in a pure mind, and in faith without hypocrisy, in well-grounded hope, in fervent love, offering the first-fruits of His own created things. And the Church alone offers this pure oblation to the Creator, offering to Him, with giving of thanks, the things taken from His creation. But the Jews do not offer thus, for their hands are full of blood; for they have not received the Logos, Who is offered to God. Nor, again, do any of the synagogues of the heretics offer this.” [Against Heresies, Bk. IV, Ch. XVIII, ¶ 4, ANF I:485]

New Hieroconfessor Victor, Archbishop of Glazov and Izhevsk, wrote a letter to Bishop Abraham on Jan. 15, 1928: “Outside the Orthodox Church there is no grace of God, and consequently, no salva­tion either. Nor can there be any true temple of God, but it is simply a house, according to the word of St. Basil the Great. In my opinion, without the grace of God, a temple becomes a place of idolatry.... And suddenly you write that you would like to pray in every place that the name of God is praised. But don’t you know, if you go on further, you will fall in not only with all kinds of heretics, but also with Mohammedans, Buddhists, etc., for the name of God is praised among them, but you yourself see that such thoughts of complete indifference destroy not only the meaning and significance of the Orthodox Church, but also Christianity itself. And what use then is our confession for the truth of the Orthodox Church?... This from your first letter, and now from your second you mention schism, the Catharoi, etc., as if, between the lines, you are ascribing this to us.... No, sacred head, we are not renegades from the Church of God and we are not schismatics that have cut ourselves off from her: may this never happen with us.... Look, in 1923 we confessed the truth of the Church in exactly the same way, and we attained by our sufferings that the impious should be expelled from the Church of God and form their ‘renovationist’ meeting separately from us. So, in your opinion, we were schismatics at that time in our confes­sion? I don’t think that you thought that, for you yourself blessed us and kissed our wounds. It was the traitors of the Church who taught that about us, saying that we were schis­matics deceived by the devil. In this way they wanted to de­fend their own abdication and fall. The people who accuse of schism now are doing exactly the same thing. But we are not creating a schism in the Church, but are only demanding that the traitors of the Church of God should leave their places and hand over the administration into other hands or repent with tears for the evil they have done.... With childlike simplicity we believe that the strength of the Church is not in organization, but in the grace of God, which cannot exist where there is betrayal and renunciation of the Orthodox Church, even if it is under the guise of the at­tainment of the external good of the Church. After all, here we do not have simply a [personal] sin of Met. Sergius and his advisors. If it were only that! No! Here we have the systemat­ic destruction of the Orthodox Russian Church according to a definitely thought-through plan, the striving to spiritually mix up, defile, and degrade everything. Here is laid the destruction of the whole of the Orthodox Church, and precisely her con­scious adaptation—of the heavenly bride of Christ—to the service of evil, for the world lies in evil.... Remember the great confessor Theodore the Studite, whom we read together. He ceased communion with the pa­triarch only because the patriarch did not want to defrock a priest who had consciously carried out an unlawful crowning.... No, this will be not a blinding of the heart, but the oppo­site—the defense of the truth of God, and not a schism. Re­member also the words of another confessor, St. Maximus, who said: ‘Even if the whole inhabited earth were to com­mune with the apostate patriarch, I alone will not commune with him to the end of the age.’ By the grace of God we shall imitate this confessor.” [V. Moss, “11. HIEROCONFESSOR VICTOR, BISHOP OF IZHEVSK AND VOTSK and those with him,” The Holy New Martyrs of Eastern Russia]

Apostolic Canon 46: “We order any bishop or priest, that has accepted any heretic’s baptism or sacrifice be deposed; for ‘what consonance has Christ with Belial? Or what part has the believer with an unbeliever?’” (The Rudder)

Apostolic Canon 47: “If a bishop or priest baptize anew anyone that has had a true Baptism, or fail to baptize anyone that has been polluted by the impious, let him be deposed, on the ground that he is mocking the Cross and death of the Lord and for failing to distinguish priests from pseudo-priests.” (The Rudder)

Apostolic Canon 68: “If any bishop or priest or deacon accepts a second ordination from anyone, let him and the one who ordained him be deposed, unless it be established that his ordination has been performed by heretics. For those who have been baptized or ordained by such persons cannot possibly be either faithful Christians or clergymen.” (The Rudder)

St. Athanasios the Great: “For not he who simply says, ‘O Lord,’ gives Baptism; but he who with the name has also the right Faith.” [Against the Arians, “Discourse II,” Ch. XVIII, § 42, NPNF 2nd Ser., IV:371.]

St. Cyprian of Carthage

1st Canon of the Council of Carthage: “He who is baptized also must of necessity be anointed, that having received the Chrism—that is, unction—he may be the anointed of God, and have within him the grace of Christ. Moreover, it is the Eucharist through which the baptized are anointed, the oil sanctified on the altar. But he cannot sanctify the creature of oil who has neither altar nor church. Whence neither can the spiritual unction be with heretics, since it is acknowledged that the oil cannot be sanctified nor the Eucharist celebrated among them. But we ought to know and remember that it is written, ‘Let not the oil of a sinner anoint my head [cf. Ps. 140:6],’ which the Holy Spirit forewarned in the psalms, lest any, quitting the track, and wandering out of the path of truth, be anointed by heretics and adversaries of Christ. Moreover, when baptized, what kind of prayer can a profane priest and a sinner offer? in that it is written, ‘God heareth not sinners, but if anyone be serving God and doing His will, He heareth this one [Jn. 9:31].’ But who can give what he himself hath not? or how can he perform spiritual acts who hath himself lost the Holy Spirit?... So it results that, since all among them is void and false, nothing that they have done ought to be approved by us. For what can be ratified and confirmed by God which they do whom the Lord calls His enemies and adversaries, propounding in His Gospel, ‘The one who is not with Me is against Me; and the one who gathereth not with Me scattereth [Mt. 12:30].’” [The Council of Carthage Held Under Cyprian, “Epistle LXX,” NPNF 2nd Ser., XIV:518, 519.]

New Hieroconfessor Victor, Archbishop of Glazov and Izhevsk, wrote in an epistle on Feb. 28/Mar. 12, 1928: “For the [Sergianist] antichurchmen, the apostates from the Church, their preservation of the dogmas and canons is a comparative­ly small matter. He who has cut off someone’s head is not justified by the fact that he did not harm any of the hairs on the head: to think otherwise is risible. But they all affirm: ‘Everything with us is in the old style.’ True, their appearance has remained Orthodox, and this disturbs many; but they do not have the Spirit of life, the grace of God, and consequently the eternal salvation of man. That is why this deception is bitterer than the first ones.” [V. Moss, “11. HIEROCONFESSOR VICTOR, BISHOP OF IZHEVSK AND VOTSK and those with him,” The Holy New Martyrs of Eastern Russia]


Numbers and Official Titles Do Not Matter, Only the Sound Confession of the Orthodox Faith;
Those Few Who Remain True Cannot Be Condemned, but Rather Receive Salvation

St. John Chrysostom: “‘That thou mayest know,’ he says, ‘how thou oughtest to conduct thyself in the house of God, which is the Church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.’ Not like that Jewish house. For it is this that maintains the Faith and the preaching of the Word. For the truth is the pillar and the ground of the Church.” (Homily XI on the First Epistle to St. Timothy, commenting on verse 3:15)

St. Cyprian of Carthage: “Just as the devil is not Christ, although he deceives in His name, so also such a one cannot be accounted a Christian as does not abide in the truth of His Gospel and Faith.” [quoted in “The Resolution of the Pastoral Conference of the Canadian and American Clergy of ROCE,” 2001]

Saint Basil the Great

Saint Basil the Great comments on how the Arians in his time controlled most of the church buildings: “Remember that the eleven disciples were shut up in the upper chamber, when they that had crucified the Lord were worshipping in the Jews’ far-famed temple.” [“Letter CCXL, To the Presbyters of Nicopolis,” sec. 2, NPNF 2nd Ser. VIII:281]

St. Gregory the Theologian: “These men (the Arians) have the houses, but we the Dweller in the house; they the temples, we the God; and besides it is ours to be living temples of the living God, lively sacrifices, reasonable burnt-offerings, perfect sacrifices, yea, gods through the adoration of the Trinity. They have the people, we the angels; they rash boldness, we faith; they threatenings, we prayer; they smiting, we endurance; they gold and silver, we the pure word. ‘Thou hast built for thyself a wide house and large chambers (recognize the words of Scripture), a house celled and pierced with windows.’ But not yet is this loftier than my faith, and than the heavens to which I am being borne onwards. Is mine a little flock? But it is not being carried over a precipice. Is mine a narrow fold? But it is unapproachable by wolves; it cannot be entered by a robber, nor climbed by thieves and strangers. I shall yet see it, I know well, wider. And many of those who are now wolves, I must reckon among my sheep, and perhaps even amongst the shepherds. This is the glad tidings brought me by the Good Shepherd, for Whose sake I lay down my life for the sheep. I fear not for the little flock; for it is seen at a glance. I know my sheep and am known of mine. Such are they that know God and are known of God. My sheep hear my voice, which I have heard from the oracles of God, which I have been taught by the holy fathers, which I have taught alike on all occasions, not conforming myself to the fortune, and which I will never cease to teach; in which I was born, and in which I will depart.” [“Oration XXXIII. Against the Arians, and Concerning Himself,” Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, 2nd Series, Vol. VII, ed. by P. Schaff, Grand Rapids, MI: Christian Classics Ethereal Library, p. 333.]

St. Nikephoros the Confessor, Patriarch of Constantinople (9th C.): Even if false hierarchs, while being in heresy, “will succeed in deceiving and enticing a certain number of ignorant ones and in gathering even a considerable number of followers, then they are outside the sacred walls of the Church just the same. But even if very few remain in Orthodoxy and piety, then it is precisely these that are the Church, and the authority and leadership of the ecclesiastical institution remains with them.” [Minor Apologetics, 8, P.G. 100, 844 D; quoted in “The Fifteenth Canon of the First-and-Second Council,” Vertograd-Inform, December, 1999, p. 18.]

St. Theodore the Studite

St. Theodore the Studite: “A council does not consist simply in the gathering of bishops and priests, no matter how many there are. For Scripture says that one doing the will of the Lord is better than thousands who transgress (Sir. 16:3). A council occurs when, in the Lord's name, the canons are thoroughly searched out and maintained. And a council is not to bind and loose in some random way, but as seems proper to the truth and to the canon and to the rule of strictness.” [Letter to Magister Theoctistus (Ep. I.24), PG 985ABC, quoted in P. Henry, Theodore of Studios: Byzantine Churchman (Yale University, 1968), p. 120]

Saint Basil: “I was taught too by the children at Babylon that when there is no one to support the cause of true religion, we ought alone and all unaided to do our duty. They from out of the midst of the flame lifted up their voices in hymns and praise to God, reeking not of the host that set the truth at naught, but sufficient, three only that they were, with one another. Wherefore we too are undismayed at the cloud of our enemies, and, resting our hope on the aid of the Spirit, have, with all boldness, proclaimed the truth.” [On the Holy Spirit, Ch. XXX, sec. 79, NPNF 2nd Ser. VIII:50.]

New-martyr Joseph, Metropolitan of Petrograd: "I do not dispute that ‘there are more of you presently than of us.’ And let it be that 'the great mass is not for me,' as you say. But I will never consider myself a schis­matic, even if I were to remain absolutely alone, as one of the holy confessors once was. The matter is not at all one of quantity; do not forget that for a minute: 'The Son of God when He cometh shall He find faith on the earth?' (Luke 18.8). And perhaps the last 'rebels' against the betrayers of the Church and the accomplices of her ruin will be not even bish­ops and not archpriests, but the simplest mortals, just as at the Cross of Christ His last gasp of suffering was heard by a few simple souls who were close to Him....

“The word of the Lord did not lie when He promised that He would be with us to the end of the world and preserve His Church not overcome by the gates of Hades, that is, on the edge of destruction. Yes, we are now on the edge of destruction, and many, perhaps, will perish; the Church of Christ will become smaller, perhaps reduced again to the twelve, as at the beginning of her foundation.... Being deprived of the churches of God and the former magnificent services with their abundance of worshippers and glittering hosts of clergy, the angelic chanting of the choirs, etc.—this is, of course, sad and regrettable. But we have not been deprived of the inner service of God in quietness and compunction and concentration of the spirit within itself,...as the apostles and all the believers prayed at the beginning. Did our majestic churches, bell-towers and magnificent services exist then? And did the absence of all this hinder them from being inflamed with such a love for the Lord as no succeeding age has attained?...

“Let us firmly remember that the Truth Himself was crucified by a majority (an overwhelming ma­jority) of votes, and let those who now refer in their own jus­tification to the majority rather read in this a terrible reproach and rebuke for themselves, that in their 'majority' Christ the Truth is again crucified!" [V. Moss, “19. HIEROMARTYR JOSEPH, METROPOLITAN OF PETROGRAD and those with him,” The Holy New Martyrs of Northern and Western Russia, Belorussia, and the Baltic]

St. Gregory Palamas

St. Gregory Palamas, Archbishop and Wonderworker of Thessalonika: “They that are of the Church of Christ are they that are of the truth; and they that are not of the truth are not of the Church of Christ;...for we are reminded that we are to distinguish Christianity not by persons who have ecclesiastical titles* but by the truth and by the exactness of the Faith.” *[e.g. ‘Patriarch of Constantinople,’ etc.] (Collected Works, II, 627, pp. 10-16)

St. Basil the Great: “I exhort you, therefore, not to faint in your afflictions, but to be revived by God’s love, and to add daily to your zeal, knowing that in you ought to be preserved that remnant of true religion which the Lord will find when He cometh on the earth. Even if bishops are driven from their churches, be not dismayed. If traitors have arisen from among the very clergy themselves, let not this undermine your confidence in God. We are saved not by names, but by mind and purpose, and genuine love toward our Creator. Bethink you how in the attack against our Lord, high priests and scribes and elders devised the plot, and how few of the people were found really receiving the word. Remember that it is not the multitude who are being saved, but the elect of God. Be not then affrighted at the great multitude of the people who are carried hither and thither by winds like the waters of the sea. If but one would be saved, like Lot at Sodom, he ought to abide in right judgment, keeping his hope in Christ unshaken, for the Lord will not forsake His holy ones. Salute all the brethren in Christ from me. Pray earnestly for my miserable soul.” [“Epistle CCLVII, To the Monks Harassed by Arians”]

Saint Theodore the Studite: “It is your prerogative to prefer the drowned multitude to Noah who was saved; but as for me, allow me to run to the Ark along with the few.” (PG 99, 1081C) “One who is well-pleasing to God is to be preferred over myriads who are invested with presumption.” (PG 99, 1084A)

Saint Hilary of Poitiers

Saint Hilary of Poitiers comments on the spread of Arianism in the 4th century: “Multitudes of churches, in almost every province of the Roman Empire, have already caught the plague of this deadly doctrine; error, persistently inculcated and falsely claiming to be the truth, has become ingrained in minds which vainly imagine that they are loyal to the Faith. I know how hardly the will is moved to a thorough recantation when zeal for a mistaken cause is encouraged by the sense of numbers and confirmed by the sanction of general approval. A multitude under delusion can only be approached with difficulty and danger. When the crowd has gone astray, even though it knows that it is in the wrong, it is ashamed to return. It claims consideration for its numbers, and has the assurance to command that its folly shall be accounted wisdom. It assumes that its size is evidence of the correctness of its opinions; and thus a falsehood which has found general credence is boldly asserted to have established its truth.” [On the Trinity, Bk. VI, § 1, NPNF 2nd Ser., IX:98.]

Saint Theodore the Studite: “Let us not raise a stumbling-block for the Church of God which, according to the teaching of the saints, is made up of even three Orthodox, so that we may not be condemned according to the Lord’s verdict.” [“Epistle to Abbot Theophilus,” PG 99, 1049C.]

St. Photius the Great: “Of old the anathema was fearful and something to be avoided when it was imposed by the preachers of piety upon those who were guilty of impiety. But ever since the daring and insolent mindlessness of the pernicious, contrary to every divine and human law and contrary to every way of thinking, both Greek and barbarian, became so insanely arrogant as to turn the anathema, which they deserved, back on the proponents of Orthodoxy, and as they bickered, in their barbarian frenzy, to accomplish their ecclesiastical transgression, then that fearful and last extremity of all penalties became degraded into a myth and a joke, or rather it became even desirable to the pious. Certainly, it is not the utterly presumptuous opinion of the enemies of truth that makes penalties (especially ecclesiastical penalties) fearful, but rather the culpability of those who are condemned; for guiltlessness changes their punishments into a mockery, and turns their condemnations back upon them, and results in undefiled crowns and immortal glory, rather than condemnation, for him who is castigated by them. Therefore, all the pious and holy prefer to be reviled myriads of times by those who are alienated from Christ rather than, with splendid acclamations, to have communion with their Christ-hating and God-hating villainies.” [“Letter to Ignatius, Metropolitan of Claudiopolis,” PG 102, 833 A-C]

St. Gregory Palamas of Thessalonica: “What should God, Who is truly good, have done? Ought He not to have brought good men into being on account of those who would turn out evil? That would be the greatest injustice imaginable. For even if there were only going to be one good person, it would not have been just to stop creating, since one man who does God’s will is superior to innumerable sinners.” [“Homily 41,” The Homilies, tr. by C. Veniamin (Mount Thabor Pub., 2009), p. 327]

St. Photius the Great: “For a long span of time, every heretical council and every assembly of the Iconoclasts anathematized us (and not only us, but our father and our uncle also, men who were confessors of Christ and the luster of the hierarchy); but by anathematizing us, they caused that we be raised, though unwilling, to the archiepiscopal throne. Therefore let those who, together with the former, have irrationally strayed from the Master’s commandments and have thrown wide open the gate of all iniquity, anathematize us even now so that they may raise us, though faltering, from earth to the heavenly kingdom.” [Letter 64 to Gregory, the deacon and archivist, PG 102, 877 B-C]

St. Gregory the Theologian

St. Gregory the Theologian, Archbishop of Constantinople: “But thou didst surround thyself with walls and tablets and richly set stones, and long porticos and galleries, and didst shine and sparkle with gold, which thou didst in part pour forth like water, in part treasure up like sand; not knowing that better is faith, with no other roof but the sky to cover it, than impiety rolling in wealth, and that three gathered together in the name of the Lord count for more with God than tens of thousands of those who deny the Godhead. Would you prefer the whole of the Canaanites to Abraham alone? or the men of Sodom to Lot? or the Midianites to Moses, when each of these was a pilgrim and a stranger? How do the three hundred men with Gideon, who bravely lapped, compare with the thousands who were put to flight? Or the servants of Abraham, who scarcely exceeded them in number, with the many kings and the army of tens of thousands whom, few as they were, they overtook and defeated? Or how do you understand the passage that though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, a remnant shall be saved? And again, I have left me seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to Baal? This is not the case; it is not? God has not taken pleasure in numbers.

“Thou countest tens of thousands, God counts those who are in a state of salvation; thou countest the dust which is without number, I the vessels of election. For nothing is so magnificent in God’s sight as pure doctrine, and a soul perfect in all the dogmas of the truth. For there is nothing worthy of Him Who made all things, of Him by Whom are all things, and for Whom are all things, so that it can be given or offered to God: not merely the handiwork or means of any individual, but even if we wished to honor Him, by uniting together all the property and handiwork of all mankind. Do not I fill heaven and earth? saith the Lord! and what house will ye build Me? or what is the place of My rest? But, since man must needs fall short of what is worthy, I ask of you, as approaching it most nearly, piety, the wealth which is common to all and equal in My eyes, wherein the poorest may, if he be noble-minded, surpass the most illustrious. For this kind of glory depends upon purpose, not upon affluence. These things be well assured, I will accept at your hands. To tread My courts ye shall not proceed, but the feet of the meek shall tread them, who have duly and sincerely acknowledged Me, and My only-begotten Logos, and the Holy Spirit. How long will ye inherit My holy mountain? How long shall My ark be among the heathen? Now for a little longer ye indulge yourselves in that which belongs to others, and gratify your desires. For as ye have devised to reject Me, so will I also reject you, saith the Lord Almighty.” [“Oration XLII. The Last Farewell,” NPNF 2nd Series, VII:388-389.]


Heretics Are Cut Off from the Church Even Before the Decision of a Council

From the Life of Saint Hypatios (5th C.): “When Saint Hypatios understood what opinions Nestorius held, immediately, in the Church of the Apostles, he erased his name from the diptychs, so that it should no longer be pronounced at the Oblation. [This was before Nestorius’ condemnation by the Third Ecumenical Council.] When Bishop Evlalios learned of this, he was anxious about the outcome of the affair. And seeing that it had been noised abroad, Nestorius also ordered him to reprimand Hypatios. For Nestorius was still powerful in the city. Bishop Evlalios spoke thus to Hypatios: ‘Why have you erased his name without understanding what the consequences would be?’ Father Hypatios replied: ‘From the time that I learned that he said unrighteous things about the Lord, I have no longer been in communion with him and I do not commemorate his name; for he is not a bishop.’ Then the bishop, in anger, said: ‘Be off with you! Make amends for what you have done, for I shall take measures against you.’ Saint Hypatios replied: ‘Do as you wish. As for me, I have decided to suffer anything, and it is with this in mind that I have done this.’” (Sources Chretiennes, No. 177, pp. 210-214)

“A heretical man, after a first and second admonition, be rejecting, knowing that such a one hath been perverted, and sinneth, being self-condemned” (Tit. 3:10, 11).

Which is interpreted by St. Theophylact of Bulgaria: “[The apostle] talks here about an incorrigible heretic, completely subverted, who is condemned of himself, meaning he has no exoneration. Because he cannot say: nobody blamed me, nobody taught me. So if after the admonition he persists in the same, then he is condemned of himself.” (Interpretation of the Epistle to Titus)

St. Firmilian of Caesarea (3rd C.): “It is plain that the other heretics, also, afterwards introduced their evil sects and perverse inventions, even as every one was led by error; all of whom, it is evident, were self-condemned, and have declared against themselves an inevitable sentence before the day of Judgment; and he who confirms the baptism of these, what else does he do but adjudge himself with them, and condemn himself, making himself a partaker with such?” [“Epistle LXXIV, Firmilian to Cyprian,” § 5, ANF V:391.]

Saint Victor, New Hieroconfessor and Archbishop of Glazov and Izhevsk, wrote in an epistle on Feb. 28/Mar. 12, 1928: “True, we, as men, are subject to spiritual authority. But at the same time each one of us is directed in his life by the commandments of God, in accordance with which we shall be judged, and if we turn out to be accomplices in the impiety of our spiritual authorities, even should that be in the person of the patriarch himself, then in no way can we be justified before God. For the commandment of God declares: ‘Whosoever shall deny Me before men, him will I also deny before My Father Who is in the heavens’ (Mt. 10:33). That is why, when they tried to persuade St. Maximus the Confessor by means of terrible tortures to enter into commu­nion of prayer with a wrong-thinking patriarch, he cried out: 'Even if the whole universe begins to have communion with the patriarch, I alone will not communicate with him.' Why was that? Because he feared to destroy his soul through com­munion with a patriarch who had been drawn into impiety, al­though at that time he had not yet been condemned by a council and was, on the contrary, supported by the majority of the bishops. You know, the ecclesiastical administrative authority, even in the person of councils, did not always de­fend the truth in former times, to which clear witness is borne by the story of the hierarch Athanasius the Great, John Chrysostom, Basil the Great, Theodore the Studite, and others. How, then, can I remain unreasonable and indifferent? That cannot be. That is why we have set out on the only possible way out in our present situation—the way of the confession of the truth of salvation. This way is difficult; it is the way of exploit (podvig); but we do not trust on our own strength, but look to the Author and Finisher of our faith, Je­sus Christ (Hebrews 12.2). And our action is not a separation for the Church, but the defense of the truth and justification of the divine commandments, or—still better—THE PRESERVATION OF THE WHOLE ECONOMY OF OUR SALVATION. That is why a whole pleiad of archpastors have rebuked Metropolitan Sergius: Metropolitans Joseph, Agathangel and Arsenius, archbishops, bishops, and a multi­tude of individual pastors, who have told Metropolitan Sergius that they can no longer recognize him to be the leader of the Orthodox Church.” [V. Moss, “11. HIEROCONFESSOR VICTOR, BISHOP OF IZHEVSK AND VOTSK and those with him,” The Holy New Martyrs of Eastern Russia]

Saint Peter of Alexandria's vision of Christ

Long before the First Ecumenical Council, Saint Peter of Alexandria (d. 311) saw a vision of the Savior wearing a torn robe, which the Lord was clutching in His hands. The hierarch inquired, “Who has rent Thy garment, O my Savior?” The Lord Jesus replied with indignation: “It was Arius the madman—he has separated My sheep from Me which I have purchased with My blood.”

St. Cyprian of Carthage: “But if everywhere heretics are called nothing other than adversaries and antichrists, if they are pronounced to be people to be avoided, and to be ‘perverted’ and ‘self-condemned’ (Tit. 3:11), why is it that they should not be thought worthy of being condemned by us, since it is evident from the apostolic testimony [of St. Paul] that they are ‘self-condemned’?” [“Epistle LXXIII, To Pompey,” § 2, ANF V:387]

When the 5th Ecumenical Council was discussing anathematizing Theodore of Mopsuestia after his death, the council justified itself, saying, “Do they not know, or maybe they know but feign ignorance, that the anathematization is nothing else but separation from God? Even if the wicked did not receive it from somebody through words, he proclaims anathema against himself through the deed, separating himself through his wickedness from the true life.” [The Holy and Ecumenical Fifth Synod, second of Constantinople, Meeting no. 8, “Acts of the Ecumenical Synods,” vol. 5, Central Typography of Kazan, 1913]

St. Theodore the Studite: “I witness before God and men: they departed themselves from the body of Christ, from the higher throne, where Christ put the keys of the Faith, against which, by the promise of the unlying One, the gates of Hades (Mt. 16:18), meaning the mouth of the heretics, have not prevailed and will not prevail until the end of time.” (“Epistle 63(122), To the son Naucratius”)

St. Nikephoros the Confessor (+ 828): “When they [iconoclasts] rejected our glorious and pure Faith, they departed themselves from the great and indivisible body of the Church as rotten and tainted members and recklessly joined the assembly of the heterodox.” (“Word in defense of our immaculate, pure and true Christian Faith and against those who believe that we are worshipping idols”)

15th Canon of the First-Second Council (861): "The rules laid down with reference to presbyters and bishops and metropolitans are still more applicable to patriarchs. So that in case any presbyter or bishop or metropolitan dares to secede or apostatize from the communion of his own patriarch, and fails to mention the latter's name in accordance with custom duly fixed and ordained, in the divine Mystagogy, but, before a conciliar verdict has been pronounced and has passed judgement against him, creates a schism, the holy Synod has decreed that this person shall be held an alien to every priestly function if only he be convicted of having committed this transgression of the law. Accordingly, these rules have been sealed and ordained as respecting persons who under the pretext of charges against their own presidents stand aloof, and create a schism, and disrupt the union of the Church. But as for those persons, on the other hand, who, on account of some heresy condemned by holy synods, or fathers, withdrawing themselves from communion with their president, who, that is to say, is preaching the heresy publicly, and teaching it bareheaded in church, such persons not only are not subject to any canonical penalty on account of their having walled themselves off from any and all communion with the one called a bishop before any conciliar or synodical verdict has been rendered, but, on the contrary, they shall be deemed worthy to enjoy the honor which befits them among Orthodox Christians. For they have defied, not bishops, but pseudo-bishops and pseudo-teachers; and they have not sundered the union of the Church with any schism, but, on the contrary, have been sedulous to rescue the Church from schisms and divisions." (The Rudder)

Bishop Theophan the Recluse: “Whether or not an anathema is pronounced against your teaching and your name, you are already under it when you philosophize against the Church and persist in this philosophy.” [Manuscripts from the Cell, “What is anathema? Homily on the Sunday of Orthodoxy”]

New Hieromartyr Bishop Mark (Novoselov): “It is not the council that is important, but conciliarity (the infallible teaching magisterium), which reveals itself by all means, whether at a council or not. From the fact that the Church in definite historical periods convenes councils, or that she does not convene them, one must by no means conclude that the infallible magisterium existed in such-and-such a period, but not in such-and-such a period.... The conclusion is as follows: the faith of the Church opposes this or that heresy not because this or that heresy was condemned by this or that ecumenical council, but rather the reverse: such-and-such an ecumenical council condemned such-and-such a heresy because it opposed the faith of the Church.... And so, as regards conciliar infallibility, this lies, as we have seen, in the identity of the witnesses given by the council with the faith of the whole Church body.... For conciliarity is one, unchanging spirit, whereas witnesses are subject to the law of material variety of external forms. From this it follows that ecumenicity, infallibility and conciliarity are everywhere, in every true witness that is identical with the Faith of the Church, being given according to the participation in the holy Church of whoever it may be: a council, great or small, or an individual person, be he a fool-for-Christ or a child.... The Spirit witnesses of Himself in the Church of Christ when He wants, where He wants, and how He wants.” [V. Moss, “24. HIEROMARTYR BISHOP MARK OF SERGIEV POSAD”]

St. Kyril of Alexandria

St. Kyril of Alexandria wrote before the Third Ecumenical Council (431): “Always stir up this faith within yourselves, and keep yourselves unblemished and blameless, having no communion whatsoever with Nestorios—nor attending to him as though he were a teacher—if instead of a shepherd, he remains a wolf.” [“Epistle to the Constantinopolitan Clergy and People,” G. Mansi, Sacrorum Conciliorum, Vol. 4, Ch. XXVII, col. 1095CD.]

New Hieroconfessor Victor, Archbishop of Glazov and Izhevsk (d. 1934): “Being in all his activity an anti-church heretic, as trans­forming the holy Orthodox Church from the house of the grace-filled salvation of believers into a graceless, carnal or­ganization deprived of the spirit of life, Metropolitan Sergius has at the same time, through his conscious renunciation of the truth and in his mindless betrayal of Christ, become an open apostate from God the Truth. Without a formal external trial by the Church (which can­not be carried out on him), he 'is self-condemned' (Titus 3:10, 11); he has ceased to be what he was—a 'servant of the truth,' according to the word: 'Let his habitation become desolate, and let no one live in it; and his bishopric let another take' (Acts 1.20).” [V. Moss, “11. HIEROCONFESSOR VICTOR, BISHOP OF IZHEVSK AND VOTSK and those with him,” The Holy New Martyrs of Eastern Russia]


To Deviate ‘A little’ or ‘A Lot’ in Regard to the Faith Is Equally a Sin unto Death

St. John Chrysostom: “The fact that we do not become indignant over small matters is the cause of all our calamities; and because slight errors escape fitting correction, greater ones creep in. As in a body, a neglect of wounds generates fever, infection and death; so in the soul, slight evils overlooked open the door to graver ones.... But if a proper rebuke had at first been given to those who attempted to depart from the divine sayings and change some small matter, such a pestilence would not have been generated, nor such a storm have seized upon the Church; for he that overturns even that which is minor in the sound Faith, will cause ruin in all.” (Galatians, Homily 1)

St. Photios the Great: “The first error of the Westerners was to compel the faithful to fast on Saturdays. (I mention this seemingly small point because the least departure from tradition can lead to a scorning of every dogma of our Faith.) Next, they convinced the faithful to despise the marriage of priests, thereby sowing in their souls the seeds of the Manichean heresy. Likewise, they persuaded them that all who had been chrismated by priests had to be anointed again by bishops....” (The Encyclical Letter of Saint Photios, 867)

St. Tarasius of Constantinople

St. Tarasius of Constantinople: “To sin in respect of the dogmas, whether in small or great, is the same thing; for the law of God is disregarded in either case.” [1st Act of the 7th Holy Ecumenical Council; cited in The Pedalion (The Rudder), tr. D. Cummings, p. 775]

St. Theodore the Studite (9th C.): “Shall we say, ‘Since it is lawful for an archbishop together with his associates to do as he pleases, let him be for the duration of his archbishopric a new evangelist, another apostle, a different law-giver’? Certainly not. For we have an injunction from the apostle himself: If anyone preaches a doctrine, or urges you to do something against what you have received, against what is prescribed by the canons of the catholic and local synods held at various times, he is not to be received, or to be reckoned among the number of the faithful. And I forbear even to mention the terrible judgment with which the apostle concludes (Gal. 1:8).” [“Epistle 24,” quoted in R. Cholij, Theodore the Stoudite: The Ordering of Holiness (Oxford University Press, 2002), p. 110]

St. Photius the Great, Patriarch of Constantinople: “It is incumbent upon everyone to observe the letter of all that is common to all, and, above all, the points touching the Faith, where to deviate a little is to commit a sin unto death.” [“Epistle to Pope Nicholas of Rome,” cited in The Rudder, pp. 775-776]


Everyone Is Called to This Struggle; One Cannot Simply Be ‘Orthodox in One’s Heart,’ While Apostasizing by an Outward Silence

St. Gregory the Theologian: “The truth is betrayed by silence.”

St. Justin Martyr

St. Justin Martyr: “Everyone who can speak the truth, and yet speaks it not, shall be judged by God.” (Dialogue with Trypho, Ch. 82)

“And Josaphat king of Juda returned to his house at Jerusalem. And there went out to meet him Jehu the prophet, the son of Anani, and said to him, ‘King Josaphat, dost thou help a sinner, or act friendly towards one hated of the Lord? Therefore has wrath come upon thee from the Lord.’” (2 Chronicles 19:2)

Pope St. Leo the Great: “He who does not reclaim others from error shows that he himself has gone astray.” [“Letter XV, To Turribius,” § 16, NPNF2, XII:25]

Saint Theodore the Studite: “Not only if one possesses rank or knowledge is one obliged to strive to speak and to teach the doctrines of Orthodoxy, but even if one be a disciple in rank, one is obliged to speak the truth boldly and openly.” [Letter Two (Book Two) to Monastics (PG 99, 1120 B)]

Saint Symeon the New Theologian

Saint Symeon the New Theologian (10th C.): “Any servant who kept his peace and did nothing in order to prevent thieves from breaking into his master’s house to rob it, but allowed them to take everything secretly and to leave, would be condemned by his master as being a treacherous thief like them, even if he had done nothing to assist them.” (Homily 78)

Saint Theodore the Studite: “It is a commandment of the Lord that we should not be silent when the Faith is in peril. So, when it is a matter of the Faith, one cannot say, ‘Who am I? A priest, a ruler, a soldier, a farmer, a poor man? I have no say or concern in this matter.’ Alas! The stones shall cry out, and you remain silent and unconcerned?” [“Epistle Eighty-One,” PG 99, 1321 AB]

Metropolitan Anthony (Khrapovitsky) of Kiev, First-Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad: “The organization of the Moscow Synod must be recognized to be exactly the same sort of apostates from the Faith as the ancient libellatici, that is, Christians who although they refused to blaspheme openly against Christ and offer sacrifices to the idols, nevertheless still received from the priests of the idols false documents verifying that they were in complete accord with the adherents of pagan religion.” (ROCA decree of August 22, 1928)

St. Basil the Great: “Many people were being irrational by trying to convince the martyr to deny Christ with his words only, and keep his Faith in his soul, in his inner disposition, claiming that God does not pay attention to our words but to our disposition. However, Gordios the Martyr was rigid in his belief and replied, ‘The tongue, which is created by Christ cannot bear to utter anything against Him.... Do not deceive yourselves, God cannot be mocked, He judges us according to our own mouth, He justifies us by our words, and by our words, He convicts us.’” (Homily on Gordius the Martyr)


There Can Be No Peace or Common God with Those of Another Faith; To Allege This Is Heresy

St. Gregory the Theologian writes in regard to “peace” with heresy that “better is a laudable war than a peace which severs a man from God.” “For disagreement over piety is better than emotional concord.” (Oration 2.82 (In Defense of his Flight to Pontus), PG 35:488C; and Oration 6.11 (First Eirenic), PG 35:736AB)

The Lord Jesus Christ: “Never think that I came to cast peace on the earth; I came not to cast peace, but a sword. For I came to divide in two a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s enemies shall be those of his own household.” [Mt. 10:34-36]

St. Theodosius of the Kiev Caves

St. Theodosius of the Kiev Caves (+1074): “Live in peace not only with your friends but with your enemies; but only with your personal enemies and not with the enemies of God.”

Saint Cyprian of Carthage (d. 258): “Dearest brother, we must consider, for the sake of the Faith and the religion of the sacerdotal office which we discharge, whether the account can be satisfactory in the day of judgment for a priest of God who maintains, and approves, and acquiesces in the baptism of blasphemers, when the Lord threatens and says, ‘“And now, O priests, this commandment is to you. If ye will not hearken, and if ye will not lay it to heart, to give glory to My name,” saith the Lord Almighty, “then I will send forth the curse upon you, and I will bring a curse upon your blessing [Mal. 2:1, 2].”’ Does he give glory to God who communicates with the baptism of Marcion? Does he give glory to God who judges that remission of sins is granted among those who blaspheme against God? Does he give glory to God who affirms that sons are born to God without, of an adulterer and a harlot? Does he give glory to God who does not hold the unity and truth that arise from the divine law, but maintains heresies against the Church?” [“Epistle LXXIII, To Pompey,” § 8, ANF V:388]

St. Theodosius of the Kiev Caves Lavra: “Beware, my son, of heretics and all their talking, for our land too, has become filled with them! If anyone will save his soul, it will be only through life in the Orthodox Faith. For there is no better faith than our holy Orthodox Faith. My son, it is not meet to praise another’s faith. Whoever praises an alien faith is like a detractor of his own Orthodox Faith. If anyone should praise his own and another’s faith, then he is a man of dual faith and is close to heresy. If anyone should say to you: ‘Your faith and our faith are from God,’ you, my son, should reply: ‘Heretic! do you consider God to be of two faiths? Do you not hear what the Scriptures say: “One Lord, one Faith, one Baptism” (Eph. 4,5).’ Thus, my son, beware of such people and always stand up for your Faith. Do not fraternize with them, but avoid them and pursue your own Faith with good deeds!

“My son, even if there would be the need for you to die for your holy Faith, dare to embrace death! Thus the saints died for their Faith, and now they are alive in Christ.” [From his “Testament” to the Great Prince Izyaslav of Kiev (1054-1068) whom the Papists attempted to convert to their delusion; I.P. Yeremin, “The Literary Heritage of Theodosius of the Kiev Caves Lavra”, TODRL, 1947, vol. 5, p. 171-172.]



Concerning Schismatics

These are they who cause divisions by separating themselves, material-minded ones, not having the Spirit.” (Jude 19)

Schismatics are those who separate themselves from the Church on account of a purely ecclesiastical dispute, such as rejecting the canonical direction of church administration and related questions, e.g., the ordination of bishops, the reception of lapsed believers, the permission to re-marry after one’s spouse dies, etc. They break the Church’s canons, and they set up rival hierarchies or churches where the Church has already canonically established them. Their actions are often motivated by their personal passions or an ambitious desire “to draw away disciples after themselves” [Acts 20:30]. Schismatics do not hold erroneous beliefs concerning God other than that He favors or permits such divisive action as theirs. Nevertheless, although they preserve the Orthodox Faith, they are outside the Church and deprived of the grace of God because of their lawlessness. They are, in fact, even worse than heretics, because they deceive people by their profession of the true Faith, while in reality they are estranged from God by their disobedience and self-will.

A similar category of separatists, sometimes distinguished from schismatics, are parasynagogues, or parallel assemblies, which consist in unauthorized worship assemblies set up by canonically (lawfully) suspended or deposed clergymen and their followers.


The Teaching of the Scriptures, Church Fathers, and Ecumenical Councils on the Absence of Salvation among Schismatics

The Lord Jesus Christ

The Lord Jesus Christ: “But if also he should take no heed of the Church, let him be to thee even as the heathen and the tax collector.” (Mt. 18:17)

“The one who gathereth not with Me scattereth.” (Mt. 12:30)

“Those removing themselves to a distance from Thee shall perish.” (Ps. 73:27)

St. John the Theologian

“They went out from among us, but they were not of us; for if they were of us, they would have remained with us.” [1 Jn. 2:19]

1st Canon of St. Basil, approved by the 7th Ecumenical Council: “...Heresies is the name applied to those who have broken entirely and have become alienated from the Faith itself. Schisms is the name applied to those who on account of ecclesiastical causes and remediable questions have developed a quarrel amongst themselves. Parasynagogues is the name applied to gatherings held by insubordinate priests or bishops, and those held by uneducated laities.... Nevertheless, it seemed best to the ancient authorities those, I mean, who, form the party of Cyprian and our own Firmilianto class them (both heretics and schismatics) all under one head, including Cathari and Encratites and Aquarians and Apotactites; because the beginning, true enough, of the separation resulted through a schism, but those who seceded from the Church had not the grace of the Holy Spirit upon them; for the impartation thereof ceased with the interruption of the service. For although the ones who were the first to depart had been ordained by the fathers and with the imposition of their hands they had obtained the gracious gift of the Spirit, yet after breaking away they became laymen and had no authority either to baptize or to ordain anyone, nor could they impart the grace of the Spirit to others, after they themselves had forfeited it. Wherefore they (the ancient saints) bade that those baptized by them should be regarded as baptized by laymen, and that when they came to join the Church they should have to be re-cleansed by the true Baptism as prescribed by the Church....” (The Rudder, pp. 773, 774.)

St. Ambrose speaks of his brother Satyrus: “But he was not so eager as to lay aside caution. He called the bishop to him, and esteeming that there can be no true thankfulness except it spring from true faith, he enquired whether he agreed with the [Orthodox] Catholic bishops, that is, with the Roman Church? And possibly at that place the church of the district was in schism. For at that time Lucifer [of Cagliari] had withdrawn from our communion, and although he had been an exile for the Faith, and had left inheritors of his own faith, yet my brother did not think that there could be true faith in schism. For though schismatics kept the Faith towards God, yet they kept it not towards the Church of God, certain of whose limbs they suffered as it were to be divided, and her members to be torn. For since Christ suffered for the Church, and the Church is the body of Christ, it does not seem that faith in Christ is shown by those by whom His Passion is made of none effect, and His body divided.” [On the Death of His Brother Satyrus, Bk. 1, ¶ 47, NPNF 2nd Ser., Vol. X, pp. 168, 169]

New-martyr Joseph, Metropolitan of Petrograd

New-martyr Joseph, Metropolitan of Petrograd (+ 1937): “We will not give the Church as a sacrifice and victim of the traitors and disgusting intriguers and agents of atheism and destruction. And by this protest we do not ourselves cut ourselves off from it, but cut them off from ourselves and boldly say: not only have we not left, are not leaving, and nev­er will leave the depths of the true Orthodox Church, but we consider its enemies, betrayers, and murderers to be those who are not with us and not for us, but against us. It is not we who depart into schism by not submitting to Metropolitan Sergius, but you who obediently follow him into the abyss of the Church’s condemnation.... Refusing to accept sound reproaches and exhortations is the real schism and a trampling on the truth.... The schismatic is he who takes to himself rights that ex­ceed his prerogatives, and who dares to speak in the name of the Church that which his brothers do not share.” [V. Moss, “19. HIEROMARTYR JOSEPH, METROPOLITAN OF PETROGRAD and those with him,” The Holy New Martyrs of Northern and Western Russia, Belorussia, and the Baltic]

St. John Chrysostom, Archbishop of Constantinople (d. 407): “Nothing so provokes God’s anger as the division of the Church. Yea, though we have achieved ten thousand glorious acts, yet shall we, if we cut to pieces the fullness of the Church, suffer punishment no less sore than they who mangled His body.... Now, a certain holy man (Saint Cyprian) said what might seem to be a bold thing; yet nevertheless, he spoke it out. What then is this? He said that not even the blood of martyrdom can wash out this sin.... I mean these remarks for those who give themselves up indiscriminately to the men who are dividing the Church. For if, on the one hand, those men have doctrines also contrary to ours, then on that account further it is not right to mix with them; if, on the other hand, they hold the same opinions, the reason for not mixing with them is greater still. And why so? Because then the disease is from lust of authority.... What wilt thou say? Shall it be said, ‘Their faith is the same; they are Orthodox as well as we’? If so, why then are they not with us? There is ‘one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism [Eph. 4:5].’ If their cause is right, then is ours wrong; if ours is right, then is theirs wrong. ‘Infants,’ saith he, ‘tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind [Eph. 4:14].’ Tell me, dost thou think this is enough, to say that they are Orthodox?... Therefore I assert and protest, that to make a schism in the Church is no less an evil than to fall into heresy.... Of what hell shall not he be worthy who slays Christ, and plucks Him limb from limb?” (Ephesians, “Homily XI,” NPNF 1st Ser., XIII:106, 107.)

St. Photius the Great

St. Photius the Great: “There is one catholic and apostolic Church of Christ, not more, not even two; congresses other than this are synagogues of wicked men and a synod of dissenters; thus do we the true Christians think, thus do we believe, thus do we proclaim.” (“Epistle 284, Against the Heresy of the Theopaschites”)

Saint Basil the Great (4th C.): “Even if the schismatics have erred about things which are not dogmas, since the head of the Church is Christ—according to the divine apostle—from Whom all the members live and obtain spiritual increase, they have torn themselves away from the harmony of the members of the body and no longer are members [of it] or have the grace of the Holy Spirit.” [quoted by Met. Kalliopios (Giannakoulopoulos), Ta Patria, Vol. 7 (Piraeus, Greece: 1987), pp. 277, 278.]

St. Philaret the Confessor of New York (d. 1985): “Schism is graceless. Christ was not divided, and His grace is one. If one is to believe in the ‘state of grace’ of schism, then one must either admit that we do not have grace—those who broke away having taken it with them; or else admit that there are two graces (and obviously two true Churches, for grace is given only in the true Church).... Because it was not stated at once and clearly where the truth is and where falsehood (for two truths there cannot be), where is white and where is black, where light and where darkness, which path is correct and which incorrect—there would not now exist this ‘inter-jurisdictional hodgepodge’ and the reality would be clear. The fact that many from among the ‘Orthodox’ indiscriminately attend whatever church, what does it tell us? Why, simply that people do not hold the truth dear. For this very reason they don’t bother giving the matter much thought.” [Letter to Abbess Magdalena (Countess Grabbe), Superior of the Lesna Convent in France, November 26/December 9, 1979]

St. Cyprian of Carthage: “What sacrifices do those who are rivals of the priests think that they celebrate? Do they deem that they have Christ with them when they are collected together, who are gathered together outside the Church of Christ?... Whosoever he may be that is separated from the Church, such a one is perverted and sins, and is condemned of his own self [Tit. 3:11].... Thus Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, who endeavored to claim to themselves the power of sacrificing in opposition to Moses and Aaron the priest, underwent immediate punishment for their attempts [Num. 16:1-35]. The earth, breaking its fastenings, gaped open into a deep gulf, and the cleft of the receding ground swallowed up the men standing and living. Nor did the anger of the indignant God strike only those who had been the movers of the sedition, but two hundred and fifty sharers and associates of that madness besides.... And the sons of Aaron, who placed strange fire upon the altar, which the Lord had not commanded, were at once extinguished in the presence of an avenging Lord [Lev. 10:1, 2].... If wholesome counsel cannot recall to the way of salvation certain leaders of schisms and originators of dissensions, who abide in blind and obstinate madness,...we must withdraw, nay rather must flee, from those who fall away, lest, while anyone is associated with those who walk wickedly, and goes on in ways of error and of sin, he himself also, wandering away from the path of the true road, should be found in like guilt.” [“Treatise I: On the Unity of the Church,” §§ 13, 17, 18, 23, ANF V:425, 427-429.]

The Catechism of Blessed Metropolitan Anthony (Khrapovitsky) of Kiev (d. 1936): “Question: Is it possible to grant that there once took place, or that there will ever take place, a division within the Church, or a separation of Churches? Answer: In no case: heretics and schismatics fell away from the one indivisible Church at various times and thereby ceased to be members of the Church, but the Church, as such, cannot lose her unity.” (Experience of Christian Catechism, Pub. Australo-New Zealand, Ep. 1989, p. 65)

St. Ignatius of Antioch: “Let no man deceive himself: if anyone be not within the altar, he is deprived of the Bread of God. For if the prayer of one or two possesses such power that Christ stands in the midst of them, how much more will the prayer of the bishop and of the whole Church, ascending up in harmony to God, prevail for the granting of all their petitions in Christ! He, therefore, that separates himself from such, and does not meet in the society where sacrifices are offered, and with ‘the Church of the first-born whose names are written in heaven,’ is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, while he presents a mild outward appearance.” (Epistle to the Ephesians, Ch. 5)

Father Nikodemos the Hagiorite (1749-1809): “The baptism administered by heretics and schismatics is unacceptable, and they ought to be baptized when they return to the Orthodoxy of the Catholic Church. 1st) Because there is but one Baptism, and because this is to be found only in the Catholic Church. Heretics and schismatics, on the other hand, being outside of the Catholic (universal) Church, have, in consequence, not even the one Baptism. 2nd) The water used in Baptism must first be purified and be sanctified by means of prayers of the priests, and by the grace of the Holy Spirit; afterwards it can purify and sanctify the person being baptized therein. But heretics and schismatics are neither priests, being in fact rather sacrilegists; neither clean and pure, being in fact impure and unclean; neither holy, as not having any Holy Spirit. So neither have they any baptism. 3rd) Through Baptism in the Catholic Church there is given a remission of sins. But through the baptism administered by heretics and schismatics, inasmuch as it is outside of the Church, how can any remission of sins be given? 4th) The person being baptized must, after he is baptized be anointed with the Myrrh prepared from olive oil and various spices, which has been sanctified by the visitation of the Holy Spirit. But how can a heretic sanctify any such myrrh when as a matter of fact he has no Holy Spirit because of his being separated from it on account of heresy and schism? 5th) The priest must pray to God for the salvation of the one being baptized. But how can a heretic or a schismatic be listened to by God when, as we have said, he is a sacrilegist and a sinner (not so much on account of his works, but rather on account of the heresy or schism, these being the greatest sin of all sins), at a time when the Bible says that God does not listen to sinners (Jn. 9:31). 6th) Because the baptism administered by heretics and schismatics cannot be acceptable to God as Baptism, since they are enemies and foes of God (i.e., mutually), and are called antichrists by [the Apostle] John.”

From the Paschal Encyclical of Metropolitan Anthony (Khrapovitsky), 1934: “The present age is rich not in ascetical feats of piety and confession of faith, but in cheating, lies, and deceits. It is noteworthy that several hierarchs and their flocks, for the most part Russians, have already fallen away from ecumenical unity, and to the question: ‘What dost thou believe?’ reply with references to self-proclaimed heads of all sorts of schisms in Moscow, America, and Western Europe. It is clear that they have ceased to believe in the unity of the Church throughout the whole world and do not wish to admit it, attempting to bear calmly the refusal of the true Church to have relations with them, and imagining that one can supposedly save one’s soul even without communion with her.... Those who have cut themselves off from her deprive themselves of the hope of salvation, as the fathers of the Sixth Ecumenical Council teach concerning this, having recognized the renegades as being totally devoid of grace, according to the word of Christ: ‘But if he neglect to hear the Church, let him be unto thee as a heathen and a publican.’ Unfortunately, some Orthodox laymen, even, alas, many priests (and hierarchs) have subjected themselves to this state of gracelessness, although still retaining the outward appearance of the Church services and the apparent performance of the mysteries.” [quoted in Saint Met. Philaret’s Letter to Abbess Magdalena (Countess Grabbe), Superior of the Lesna Convent in France, November 26/December 9, 1979]

St. Ignatius of Antioch

St. Ignatius of Antioch: “As many as are of God and of Jesus Christ are also with the bishop. And as many as shall, in the exercise of repentance, return into the unity of the Church, these, too, shall belong to God, that they may live according to Jesus Christ. Do not err, my brethren. If any man follows him that makes a schism in the Church, he shall not inherit the kingdom of God. If anyone walks according to a strange opinion, he agrees not with the Passion [of Christ].” [“Epistle to the Philadelphians,” Ch. 3, ANF, I:80]

St. Philaret the Confessor of New York (d. 1985): “Saint Basil the Great is a strict, demanding arch-pastor with a firm hand, an inspired defender and guardian of the Church’s truth and canons. However, when it came to those who fell away into schism and returned again, the strict saint opened the gates of the Church wide for them, softening in every possible way the requirements for those wishing to return. Basil the Great eased all the strictness, if only the lost ones came home. But his tone changes drastically as those in schism persist and remain in the same position. And then Saint Basil says: ‘One must look at a schism that has been going on for a long time and stubbornly the same as one approaches a real heresy, and therefore it is necessary to treat such schismatics as heretics. Do not enter into any communication with them.’ But here is the judgment of St. John Chrysostom: ‘Nothing offends God like the division of the Church. Even if you have done a thousand good deeds, you are subject to condemnation no less than those that tormented the body of Christ. If we tear apart the integrity of the Church, even the blood of martyrdom cannot atone for such a sin. What I have said is directed against those who indiscriminately remain with people who are separated from the Church.’ And how hard and sorrowful it is when you hear: ‘I go to any church. It doesn't matter that the bishops and priests don't get along. I don't careGod is one, the Church is one.’ But look at what Chrysostom says: ‘What I have said is directed against those who indiscriminately remain with people who are separated from the Church. If these ones in schism hold to dogmas that are contrary to us, i.e., they have distorted the very Faith, it is clear that therefore we should no longer have communion with them.’ But further he says: ‘They say that they teach the same thing as we do, and everything is in common with us, everything is correct. But if they think the same way as us, then they should be avoided even more!’ said Chrysostom. Why is that? Because this is an ailment caused by love of authority. This was the case, for example, in both of our schisms: Metropolitan Platon and Metropolitan Evlogius did not want to submit to the [ROCOR] synod of bishops. They say that they have the same Faith and that by their Faith they are as Orthodox as we are. If so, why are they not with us? One Lord, one Faith, one Baptism, one truthnot two graces, not two truths. If they have the good, then we have the bad; and if we are good, then they are bad. There are not two graces; Christ did not divide the Church. If they departed from us, broke away, considering us wrong, then it is one of two things: either they, separating from us, lost grace and left without it, or they took it away from us, which means we are without grace. How can people not understand this? As if it is the same prayer service, as if [they pray] exactly as we do, and they say, ‘But God is one; we don’t care: there is a prayer service here as well as there.’ Once someone said to a priest in Harbin: ‘Father, why shouldn't I go? They serve there just like we do; I will pray there too, they have there exactly the same prayers and rites, and everything in general.’ And the priest took out of his pocket two fifty kopeck coins and said, ‘Look, they are exactly the same, but one is real and the other is fake. Well, what do you think, if a peasant learns to read and write, to build a church himself, to sew the vestments himself and to serve in the same way we serve, does that mean that he is a legitimate batyushka (priest)? Would those be real prayers, real sacraments?’ So Chrysostom says: ‘If we are good, then they are bad, and if they are good, then we are bad.’” (On Church Divisions)

Blessed Met. Anthony (Khrapovitsky), First-Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad (d. 1936): “The grace-filled gifts of the Holy Spirit, the gifts of the Redemption, are promised not to those who hold only known beliefs but to those who belong to the Church. Whoever disobeys her has no advantage over unbelievers: ‘If he refuses even to hear the Church, let him be to you as a heathen and a tax collector’ (Mt. 18:17). Notice that such a sorrowful lot threatens not only those who believe contrary to the Church but also those who, without violating the truths of faith are not obedient to the Church.... We can argue and research conscientiously where we can find the true Church from which all other faith traditions and churches split off, bringing about their ruin, but to say that the Church split up, that it lost its unity in the ninth, eleventh, or sixteenth-century means not believing Christ, Who said, ‘I will build My Church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it’ (Mt. 16:18). It means not believing as the ancient creeds and councils teach us—in one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church. It means not recognizing the Apostle Paul, who exclaimed, ‘Is Christ divided?’ It means flying in the face of that inalienable belief of all Christians that Christ’s Church will remain one and unwavering for eternity. And although heretics, schismatics, and deep-rooted sinners will constantly fall away from it, this will never reduce its grace-filled authority, its holiness will not lessen, its sacraments will not be stopped, and its teaching will not be silenced.” [1st Letter to Robert Gardiner of the Episcopal Church in America, Vera i Razum #4 (1915), pp. 453-469]

Hieromartyr Cyprian, Bishop of Carthage: “And, moreover, that it may be better understood what is the divine judgment against audacity of the like kind, we find that in such wickedness, not only the leaders and originators, but also the partakers, are destined to punishment, unless they have separated themselves from the communion of the wicked; as the Lord by Moses commands, and says, ‘Separate yourselves from the tents of these most hardened men, and touch nothing of theirs, lest ye be consumed in their sins’ (Num. 16:26). And what the Lord had threatened by Moses He fulfilled, that whosoever had not separated himself from Korah, and Dathan, and Abiram, immediately suffered punishment for his impious communion. By which example is shown and proved, that all will be liable to guilt as well as its punishment, who with irreligious boldness mingle themselves with schismatics in opposition to prelates and priests; even as also by the prophet Osea the Holy Spirit witnesses, and says, ‘Their sacrifices shall be unto them as the bread of mourning; all that eat thereof shall be polluted’ (Hos. 9:4); teaching, doubtless, and showing that all are absolutely joined with the leaders in punishment, who have been contaminated by their crime.” [“Epistle LXX, To Magnus, on Baptizing the Novatians” § 9, ANF V:400.]

St. Athanasios the Great of Alexandria: “[Saint Anthony the Great] was altogether wonderful in faith and religious, for he never held communion with the [Egyptian] Meletian schismatics, knowing their wickedness and apostasy from the beginning; nor had he friendly dealings with the Manichæans or any other heretics; or, if he had, only as far as advice that they should change to piety. For he thought and asserted that intercourse with these was harmful and destructive to the soul. In the same manner also he loathed the heresy of the Arians, and exhorted all neither to approach them nor to hold their erroneous belief. And once when certain Arian madmen came to him, when he had questioned them and learned their impiety, he drove them from the mountain, saying that their words were worse than the poison of serpents.” [Life of Anthony, 68, NPNF 2nd Ser., IV:214]

Blessed Met. Anthony (Khrapovitsky), First-Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad (d. 1936): “I was proving the impossibility of combining the beliefs of the Church of the first seven ecumenical councils with the conviction that various religious communities not in canonical unity with each other may belong to the Church. Whoever still holds to this conviction must admit that when saying the words of the Creed “In one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church” he implies something different than what was implied by the early Christians and by those calling themselves Christians up to the sixteenth century.... Christianity or the life of the Church is not a matter of just believing but is a continuous presence in the living union of the Church and Christ. It is impossible to regard oneself as a member of the Church or of Christ’s body without entering into this fellowship union of prayers and the mysteries. The Apostle Paul points to unity in sacraments as the most important definitive sign of belonging to Christ’s body: ‘For us, though many, are one bread and one body, for we all partake of that one Bread’ (1 Cor. 10:17).... If all who believe in Christ would return to the general belief of the early Christians that only one out of the so-called churches can be the true one, then...it would be easier for it to correct its error and find the authentic Church than with the current ambiguity and the recognition of some kinds of half-churches, half-graces, half-fellowship, etc.” [2nd Letter to Robert Gardiner of the Episcopal Church in America, August 18, 1915, Вера и разум, ном. 17, 1915 г.]

St. Philaret the Confessor of New York

St. Philaret the Confessor of New York (d. 1985): “The American and Parisian schismatics do not have grace, for otherwise one would have to admit the absurd: the existence of several true Churches, which do not recognize each other, nor have any spiritual communion among themselves. This is already manifestly absurd because the divine Founder of the Church said: ‘I will build My Church,’ and not ‘My Churches.’... To such a degree do I not believe in the grace of the schismatics' ‘manipulations’ that in the event that I were dying and it was necessary to give me Communion, I would receive it neither from the Parisians nor from the American False-Autocephalites, lest in place of the holy Mysteries I should swallow a piece of bread and some wine.... You are not some sort of ‘different jurisdictions’; you are simply schismatics, and have no rights whatsoever.” [Letter to Abbess Magdalena (Countess Grabbe), Superior of the Lesna Convent in France, "Enclosure," December 14/27, 1979]

Blessed Met. Anthony (Khrapovitsky) of Kiev: “Allow me to preface all of this with one general position which follows with all clarity from the early canons as the undoubtable teaching of the Church. It lies in the need to distinguish the Church’s axiomatic rule toward schism or heresies from the practical directives regarding one or another reception of heretics and schismatics. We cannot look for indications of the acknowledgement that grace is present in the latter. Grace outside the Church was denied absolutely, and your very idea that heretics and schismatics were still considered part of the Church appears, forgive me, paradoxical, at least from the historical point of view. What does excommunication from the Church mean if not casting out of its bounds? Anathema means separation, schism, breaking off, and heresy means division. From whom did heretics and schismatics separate, break off, with whom did they divide? Of course, they separated and broke off from the Church; they are excommunicated from the Church. It is clear, based on simplest logic, that cast-offs who had broken off or split off according to their own will no longer belong to that body, to that institution, from which they separated. So what remains outside this body? The world, to which Christ’s redemption is foreign, and which, according to the teaching of the apostles and their Teacher, is ‘in the snare of the devil, in the kingdom of the prince of the air, working in the sons of disobedience’ (Eph. 2:1-5, 2 Tim. 2:22-25, Col. 1:21-22, 2:13, 3:6).... Canon 1 of St. Basil, which I repeatedly cited, says with total clarity that bishops who have been excommunicated from the Church have become ‘laymen’ and therefore ‘impartation thereof [of the grace of the Holy Spirit] ceased.’ Canon 68 [66] of Carthage speaks of the same graceless nature of heretical sacraments. For canons are the active rule of the Church. This is not a temporary directive but is precisely a principle and a dogma in the given canon.... Any researcher would not deny that the Church of the seven ecumenical councils did not recognize any sacraments performed by heretics and schismatics, considering only itself as the bearer of grace, i.e. the Church from which they fell away. And this same deprivation of grace was conditioned not by their erroneous faith but precisely by their stepping out of the Church’s bounds with their evil will, which obstinately opposed admonitions by teachers of truth. This is why “it seemed best to the ancient authorities to class them [i.e. schismatics lacking erroneous doctrines] under one head” (i.e. requiring a new Baptism) along with heretics, as St. Basil writes in the same canon.... The teaching that they and their mysteries lack grace is a teaching expressed by the “undivided” Church with such clarity that it must either be accepted, or the early Church must be regarded as false and all of the early Christians in general and all who call themselves Christians must be regarded as in error.... All churches cannot be true if they are not in communion, but if I continue to regard the church to which I was born (even if it is the Anglican one) to be the true one, it loses this status if it enters into communion with heretics without converting them to itself, i.e. to the true Church.... If any kind of union would come about anywhere without inner struggle, without an agonizing deadening of pride and obstinacy, that would be a portent of its fragility or proof of its incorrectness, its falsehood.... The conviction of the correctness of one’s own church and of the graceless condition of all heretics and schismatics does not in any way stand in the way of objective and patient debate on matters of faith and definitely cannot instill in its followers a prideful and scornful mood.” [Third Letter to the Anglican Robert H. Gardiner, July 16, 1916, Вера и разум, ном. 8-9, 1916]





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