Metropolitan Anthony on Name-Worship Heresy

Name-Worshipping Heresy
On the New False Teaching, the Deifying Name, and the “Apology” of Antony Bulatovich
by Metropolitan Anthony Khrapovitsky

Met. Anthony KhrapovitskyHieroschemamonk Anthony Bulatovich’s booklet differs significantly from Schemamonk Ilarion’s book, Na Gorakh Kavkaza (In the Mountains of Caucasia), in the defense of which it is written. Schemamonk Ilarion had as his primary intention to praise the “Jesus Prayer” and to convince his contemporary ascetics to practise this monastic activity, which is so often neglected today. This intention is altogether praiseworthy. Everything that has been written by the fathers on the Jesus Prayer is beneficial, as Christians should be reminded. Those monks who would want to lessen the significance of the Jesus Prayer and all other spiritual activities passed down by the fathers are worthy of reproach. Nonetheless, a correct undertaking does not stand in need of incorrect means, and the patristic tradition of the Jesus Prayer has sufficient sound reasons in its favour so that one need not resort to superstitious arguments. Unfortunately the Elder Ilarion did not avoid this and he added his own sophistries to the many patristic and salvific reflections on the benefit and meaning of the Jesus Prayer. He took it into his mind to argue that the name of Jesus is God Himself.

As evidence for such a notion he cites the words of Father John of Kronstadt on the close connection between the name and the person to which it refers, be this the name of God, angels, holy saints, or even simply any person. From these words, however, only one conclusion can follow: that the name of Jesus is as close to the person of the Lord Jesus Christ as is every other of His names, and as the name of each person is to that person. No one would assert that, if I were to call upon the name of my absent friend, that my friend himself will be here with me [because his name is present]. If, however, he hears my summons, then he will either come or not come to me, but both he and I will understand that he himself is other, that his pronounced name is other. However in Schemamonk Ilarion’s book, contrary to Father John of Kronstadt — whom both he and Antony Bulatovich cite erroneously — Divine dignity is attributed, of all the Lord’s names, only to the name Jesus. In Bulatovich’s book, however, it is attributed to the names of God in general, and not only to specific names of God. In his desire to defend Ilarion’s superstitious teaching, Bulatovich went so far as to completely change it, because in all the excerpts from Father Ilarion one can not find a single one which would indicate the primacy of the name of Jesus over the other appellations of our Lord.

Anthony BulatovichOne asks why it was necessary for Schemamonk Ilarion to spread his superstition. The answer to this is discomforting. His teaching is connected with a profound disparagement of all rules of prayer apart from the Jesus Prayer. He asserts that those perfected in it do not stand in need of the reading of the Psalter, Matins, Vespers, and other books of prayer, and cites as evidence this saying of Saints Kallistos and Ignatios. [Their words] however, have precisely the opposite meaning. Here one needs to add the caveat that in Ilarion’s book, and even more so in Bulatovich’s book, nearly all the Biblical and patristic sayings are cited with misconstrued interpretations and frequently even misconstrued expositions. Thus, the saying of Ignatios and Kallistos reads: “while practising the Jesus Prayer, never neglect your rule.” The author of the book thinks that in Slavonic, as in Russian, a double negative strengthens the negation and understand this saying like this: “those who practise the Jesus Prayer may neglect their rule.” Let him open the Ochtoechos and read the third resurrectional exaspostilarion: “for Christ is risen, may no one not believe.” If these words were thus construed in a Russian phrase, then they would read as: “may no one believe in the resurrection of Christ,” but in Slavonic, as in Greek, a double negation is an affirmation, and the words of the Ochtoechos preclude disbelief in Christ’s resurrection, and call all to believe in it. In the same way the words of Ignatios and Kallistos forbid one to replace or abbreviate the normal monastic rule for the sake of the Jesus Prayer, and these words must be translated into Russian as follows: “those practising the Jesus Prayer should not neglect the monastic rule.”

God forbid that they neglect it, we would add, because such a monk would inevitably fall into spiritual deception (plani; prelest). The latter is a particular danger for Ilarion’s followers, inasmuch as this Elder explains that only in the first steps of this prayerful activity does the ascetic repeat the Jesus Prayer orally and fully. Later, having become perfected in it, he himself becomes greater than all petition and only glorifies Jesus by pronouncing His name: “Jesus Christ,” or even simply “Jesus.” Ascending even higher in the spiritual life, he does not even have need to pronounce this word, but guards it in his heart, as a constant property of the heart.

In such a case, what does a contemporary monk practise? He does not go to church, he does not read the church services, psalms, and prayers. He simply bears in his heart the name of Jesus. Does he not risk simply forgetting all his monasticism and, remaining in idleness and negligence, justifying his worldliness in that he bears in his heart the name of Jesus? Or that he reached such a level that a fall is impossible? It is wrong to think this way! Saint Macarius the Great witnesses “that some fathers reached such a level of perfection that they performed miracles, but later, having become negligent, fell.” A fall is also possible for great pillars of asceticism. If, however, they are in obedience to the monastic rule, then the cause of the fall is easily revealed as negligence or weariness in prayer, or in irritation at accepting holy obediences. But if the ascetic already considers prayer and obedience not to be necessary for him, then he is a law unto himself and every temptation that seems good to him he considers to be divinely-inspired. Following Schemamonk Ilarion, he is convinced, that along with the name of Jesus the Hypostatic God is present. Could God mistakenly tolerate something negative in His chosen vessel? Of course not, and therefore everything that seems lawful to him becomes lawful for him. This is also the conclusion of the doctrine of the Khlysts. “Trust the spirit,” they say, and the spirit abides in the hearts of these spiritual Christians, as they consider themselves to be because of the life of fasting and chastity which characterises them at the beginning of their enthusiasm. Later, they are seduced by the thought that everything that comes from their heart comes from the Holy Spirit. They then begin, during their rites, to pay attention to that which their soul desires to “il-luminate” them. If their soul is filled with the desire for fornication, then they must believe that it is the Holy Spirit that has inspired this unclean desire. Then, abhorring the undefiled marital bed, during their rituals they first give themselves up to frenzied [sexual] mingling, and later do the same thing without ritual. Therefore, it was not without reason that we at Russkiy Inok Journal cautioned the readers of Ilarion’s book that it, labouring under the delusion of the ascetic’s superstitious fabrications, leads one to the precipice of the Khlystism sect, Rasputin’s sect. We know from Elders of elevated spiritual life that Ilarion himself, against the prohibition of the superior of Novo-Afonsky [New Athos Monastery], abandoned the holy monastery and obedience and made himself a desert-dweller on his own.

Unfortunately our time is a time of marked strengthening of Khlystism in both the Russian people and Russian society. Complete faithlessness has come full cycle. It has become terrifying for people to live outside of communion with heaven, but to come close to it by the narrow path, through the path of Christ seems, to the corrupt and the sinful, to be beyond their strength. Therefore they fabricate for themselves others paths for growing near to the divinity: sectarianism, magnetism, neo-Buddhism, but particularly Khlystism, which is, unfortunately, a Russian phenomenon that is not new. Khlysts, under the name of Johnites, chrikovites, koloskovism, stefanism, innokentyites, have filled both capitals, Moscow and St. Petersburg, and the Ukraine, east and west, both the trans-Volga and Siberia. They have penetrated many monasteries: the Nikov Hermitage, the Pskov, Suzdal, Poldolsk and Olonets monasteries, and others.

Not long ago many people of little faith in society at least respected the moral teachings of Christianity, but were dubious of the teaching about miracles. Today, however, the opposite is the case. Those same people who have little faith in the reality of miracles are ready to accept every fabricated miracle of swindlers and tricksters, provided that it weakens the significance of the commandments of God about prayer, obedience, and self restraint. They greedily fall upon everything that departs from the strict teaching of the Church, accepting all that promises growing close to the divinity without Orthodox Christian piety and without being adorned with morality. This is why so many have seized upon Ilarion’s teaching: one from blind zeal and stubbornness, another from laziness, delighted by the idea they will soon reach such a level of perfection that they will not have to stand through church services or read any prayers or the Holy Scripture, but will only “bear in their heart the name of Jesus.”

The dishonesty of Ilarion and his followers, and especially that of Antony Bulatovich, is exposed by the fact that, not being satisfied with establishing their own doctrine, they attack those who disagree with them, intimidating them and their audience and readers with their proclamations, accusing them of denying the Divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ, of refuting the Jesus Prayer and all spiritual activity, of extolling their scholarly learnedness in place of spiritual experience, and so forth.

To this we answer that we recognize the Divinity of Jesus Christ, highly esteem the Jesus Prayer, and do not pride ourselves in our learnedness, but place it lower than spiritual experience. We do not, however, see spiritual experience in Schemamonk Ilarion’s book, rather we see self-deceiving dreams, and we find spiritual experience even less in Bulatovich’s book, but find their only logomachy and scholasticism, but without hard logic, without knowledge of the Holy Scripture and without an understanding of the Greek language that he cites.

Ilarion’s book, which we read in October 1912, has the advantage over Bulatovich’s book and his printed proclamations in that it contains fewer conscious lies and conscious distortions of texts of Holy Scripture and the holy fathers, and less intimidation of all those who disagree with the author by accusing them of godlessness and heresy. Not long before the publication of his book Ilarion himself doubted the correctness of his thoughts that the name of Jesus is God Himself. He wrote to an Athonite spiritual father about this in a letter in which he recognized that he had not found this teaching either in Holy Scripture or in the fathers. He asked the spiritual father for his critique of this new teaching (cf., Russki Inok 1912, no.15, pp. 62-63). The Elder answered him disapprovingly. But alas, the very thought that he had created a new dogma enticed the deluded schemamonk: he fell into what is often called the “Elders’ deception.” We have great respect for monastic elders and experienced desert hesychasts and have always striven to put monk-students under their guidance. Having at various times served in three academies, we brought monks who were studying together with elders of the monasteries of Valaam, Optina, Sedmiozersky, and this bringing together of the academy with elders has become firmly established, glory to God, to this day. Nevertheless, it is impossible to remain silent about that deliberate temptation or deception which Elders undergo who are negligent about perfection. Everyone has particular temptations: young people are tempted by fornication, old people by profit-seeking, bishops by pride and vainglory, and Elders are tempted to invent their own rules [ustavy] to immortalize their memory in a monastery. Therefore, in one monastery a certain prayer will be added to the rule in memory of an elder, and in another they will take off their klobuks at the priest’s first exclamation at the Liturgy, and in a third they will make a full prostration at the exclamation “holy things are for the holy,” and so on. In so doing they were concerned about their own glory, about their memory, and thought themselves similar to the ancient Liturgists who established the order of Divine Services. In this they are already in complete deception.

However, like Macedonius, Eutechius, and Nestorius, those who like the Elder Ilarion, strive to immortalize their memory by thinking up new dogmas, will create a memory for themselves that will not be effaced until the Lord’s second coming, but this memory will be joined not with blessings, but with perdition.

And behold the bitter fruits of such fame. The best Athonite monasteries have become places of fights, maiming, rebellion against the abbot, and uprisings against the Church. The name “Russian” has become synonymous with heresy on Mount Athos, and now a complete expulsion of our compatriots is possible. Everyone that was unruly, obstinate, ambitious and mercenary has jumped at this new thoughtless dogma and without even much thought about it, they have been glad for the opportunity to “reject authority, and revile the glorious ones” (Jude 1:8), seizing for themselves the position of superior and pilfering the monastery treasury. All of this took place at St. Andrew’s Skete and to some degree in the Monastery of St. Panteleimon on Athos. If Schemamonk Ilarion had not thought up new dogmas but had only collected patristic thoughts about the Jesus Prayer and admonished readers to save themselves under the direction of the holy fathers, then his book would not have been circulated so widely and his name would not have been repeated by so many mouths. In fact, he is far behind the notable heretics of old, for although their dogmas were false they were at least comprehensible. Ilarion and Bulatovich have put forward notions that resemble the ravings of mad men, as the Ecumenical Patriarch and the patriarchal synod rightly declared.

Indeed, can one, without renouncing Christianity or reason, repeat their absurd affirmation that, as it were, the name of Jesus is God? We recognize that the name of Jesus is holy, bestowed by God and proclaimed by an Angel, a name given to the God-Man at His incarnation, but to confuse the name with God Himself – is this not the height of madness? What is God? God is Spirit, eternal, all-good, omniscient, omnipresent, and so forth, one in essence, but three in Hypostases. Does this mean that the name of Jesus is neither a word, nor a name, but a spirit omnipresent, good, and three in hypostases? Who, apart from one deprived of reason, would repeat such an absurdity? Or do they say that this name is the Second Person of the Holy Trinity and the God-Man Himself? In that case let them recognize another absurdity that this name is co-eternal with the Father, born of Him before the ages, incarnate, crucified, and resurrected. Has there ever been a heresy that has led to such insane conclusions?

Meanwhile Father Antony Bulatovich boldly announces that this teaching is contained in both the New and the Old Testaments, that it is in our divine services, and in the writings of the fathers. He does not himself believe what he writes, but only desires to have the means for rebellion in the Athonite monasteries. This writer forgot that Ilarion himself recognizes the novelty of this teaching, and has entered the furthest labyrinth of superstition, judging his teacher to be incorrect in that he [Bulatovich] recognizes the name Jesus as equal in honour with all the other names of the Lord, whereas Ilarion ascribes supernatural power only to the name “Jesus.”

But for all that, this imitator of the new false teaching has spread it much more skillfully than had the originator, for many have surpassed him in cunning and insolence and ability to attract and intimidate simple-minded Russian monks. Therefore he, above all else, invented a name for his accusers [imiabortsem — “name opposers”]. He made noise everywhere in newspapers and in his proclamations, which were sent to all the monasteries, that the few people not in agreement with him are heretics, whom he gave the illiterate nickname “imebortsem.” He did not even know that the name expressed in this word should be taken from the genitive case, as for instance “imenoslovnoe” and not “imeslovnoe.” Bulatovich’s extreme ignorance is demonstrated on every page of his book, whenever he is forced to have dealings with grammar, philosophy, or theology. However, Antony Bulatovich knows that Russian monks are little accustomed to investigate teachings of faith and will consider as heretics those to whom that name has been attached, especially if this is done boldly and under the appearance of zeal for the faith. [For this reason,] before undertaking to give an account of his thought he first dedicates many pages to reviling those who will not agree with him and accuses the opponents of his new heresy of teachings that are entirely foreign to them. He asserts that, for example, that Archbishop Antony and the monk Khrisanthos spoke against mental prayer (p. 3). [He asserts] that they “deny as essential in the prayer of the mind-in-the-heart, the confining of the mind in the word calling upon the name of the Lord” (p.9, does this mean that they recognize the prayer itself?). He applies [to them] the prophecy of Malachi: “may your blessings be cursed” (p. 20), and the retribution, that befell the Jews that blasphemed the name of the Lord (p. 146) and so forth. The credulous reader, the unlettered monk, is already prepared to believe that the writer (i.e., Bulatovich) is indeed a defender of the holy faith from godless blasphemers who deny the Divinity of Jesus Christ.

However, no matter how absurd any sort of heresy might be, if it has the appearance of increasing the greatness of God, many people will be ready to accept it. That is why the country which more than any other had zeal for piety and asceticism, Egypt, was completely attracted to the heresy of Eutychius and to this day remains in the knots of his false doctrine, in the knots of Monophysitism. Every Christian values faith in Jesus Christ as God equal to the Father and the Holy Spirit. Eutychius himself desiring, as it were, to honour Christ even more, began to teach that His Divine essence swallowed up in Him his human essence and that He is now only God, and those who denied this he called Nestorians, Arians, godless, and other names. It is no wonder that this heresy drew in the anchorites and people of Egypt and Ethiopia and that to this day they despise the Orthodox as having diminished the honour of the Son of God. The Latins have managed to seduce the western nations with a similar imaginary piety, having fabricated in recent times a false doctrine about the Immaculate Conception of the Most Holy Theotokos from Joachim and Anna, and they castigate those who do not agree with this impiety, i.e., the Orthodox, as “enemies of the Theotokos.” It is no surprise that many former Ukrainian theologians, accustomed to reading Latin books, accepted this teaching as if it were a glorification of the Most Holy Virgin. Even some of the Russian Old Believers living in Austria introduced this false doctrine into their books, and now Muscovite schismatics defend it in missionary conversations. All heresy spreads with the same success when it appears to elevate our various points of faith more than is indicated in church doctrine, while at the same time practising an impudent battle against the defenders of the latter, applying to them names of former heretics and ascribing to them various godless opinions which they never shared. However, the dishonest devices of the writings of Antony Bulatovich are not limited to this: they distinguish themselves in the way that, citing on every page of his book words of Holy Scripture or the holy fathers and, being unable to produce a single citation that actually supports his absurd heresy, he cites the fathers only partially, omitting what does not please him, and after every text he writes in parentheses “listen to this, this is what is being said here” and then offers a fraudulent interpretation that is entirely foreign to the thought of the sacred words. The ill-informed reader is prepared to think that the author is continuing to cite the Patristic or Biblical words. Sometimes he prints Patristic citations is such a way that they are confused with his own commentary, and it is impossible to distinguish, for instance, where the words of St. Athanasius the Great end (p. 107) and where the words of Antony Bulatovich begin. For instance, St Athanasius writes that several people, chosen by God, were called “christ” that is, “anointed,” apart from the Lord Jesus Christ, but that they were not The Christ but were only prefigurations of Him. Fr. Bulatovich adds from his own part that there are people named Jesus who were not “true Jesuses,” but adds this in such a way that the reader thinks that they are the words of St. Athanasius, inasmuch as he does not include ending quotation marks in his commentary, but simply writes “p.374” (in the alleged works of St. Athanasius).

If it were clear to the reader that these words are not those of St. Athanasius, but of Antony Bulatovich, then he would understand the falsity of this interpretation. The word “anointed” (christ), attributed to David and other chosen ones is not a proper name but rather an indication of a calling (a rank, as it were), which God gave to kings and prophets. The name of Jesus, however, is a proper name, and no other name or title indicated Jesus the Son of Sirach, Jesus the Son of Jozadek, or Jesus in the New Testament, and there are several named Jesus (Joshua) on Athos.

Truth does not stand in need of such impermissible devices or forgeries of the words of the holy fathers, but Antony Bulatovich needed such falsification in order that, by such a deception, he could escape the vexing demonstration of his denouncers.

It we desired to put forward every example of the author’s entirely arbitrary interpretations that contradict the sense of Revelation, then one would need to rewrite his entire book, for there are several on every page. Pick up this book and look over the more characteristic forgeries of the thought of sacred words: they are on pages 7, 9, 10, 20, 23, 29, 31, 38, 53, 85, 90, 92, 93, 95, 96, 97, 101, 109, 127, 128, 129, 131, 132, 136, 139, 141, 149, 150, 154, 155, 156, 159, 166, 169, 172, 173, 175, 176, 178, 180, 181, and 183. Many of the indicated pages have two or three false interpretations, and this book has only 189 pages. Sometimes our author finds his thoughts about the names of God in citations from Holy Scripture, where this word is not at all present. See pages 6 and 7, 11, 20 27, 33, 143.

The author does, however, at one point admit that this doctrine is entirely foreign to Divine Revelation. Filling the pages of his book with borrowed interpretations of the Old Testament and sensing the complete lack of correspondence of this with the word of God, he makes a proviso: “but perhaps someone will object to us: you are creating a doctrines (and this objection would be entirely justified!), for where in the holy fathers is it said that the Son of God is the Name of God? It has already been said, we have already cited above the words of the Prophet Isaiah, who called the Son of God by the name of God (Is 30:27). Let us seek [says Bulatovich] to demonstrate even more clearly that under the name ‘Word of God’ is assumed the “Name of God.” The author further cites several passages from the fathers in which the Son of God, as in the beginning of the first Gospel reading, is named the Word, but nowhere and never is He called the “name of God.” The words of the Prophet Isaiah, entirely misrepresented here by Bulatovich, read as follows: “Behold the name of the Lord comes from afar, burning with his anger, and in thick rising smoke; His lips are full of indignation, and His tongue is like a devouring fire,” and further. Here the wrath of God against the enemies of Israel is being spoken of, and the name of God is used in the same sense as the “glory of God,” that is, simply in place of the word “God.” The Old Testament prophets rarely dared to speak directly about revelations of God, and instead of this dreadful word employed descriptive expressions like “the name of God, the glory of God, the Lamb of God”; this is known to everyone, even to the youngest seminarian, but Bulatovich, having filled his book with all such expressions, which one can very easily pick out from the alphabetical Biblical dictionary (published by “Stranik”), acts with them in the same way that the ancient half-pagan Gnostics acted with the words of the Bible “ages, ages of ages, in all ages.” The word has no special significance whatsoever apart from an indication of the eternity of God’s being and Christ’s kingdom; however, the Gnostics attributed to the word “age” — in Greek, aeon — a certain divine significance. These compiled an entire history and hierarchy of these aeons, dividing them into evil and good, and recognizing the Son of God as the main aeon. They created whole fables about these, in which consisted their absurd faith in place of the faith defined in our Symbol. And what of it? They based each of their fabrications on words of the prophets or apostles in which they used the word “age,” in Greek aeon, so that to argue with these vain men was not very easy.

Antony Bulatovich employs a similar approach in order to turn an entirely applied meaning of “name” into God. His subterfuges are so far-fetched and artificial that it is impossible to trust their honesty. He himself, it goes without saying, does not believe his own verbal tricks and he even contradicts himself, as we have seen, recognizing that the reader might reproach him for fabricating new dogmas foreign to the Bible and the fathers.

Just how far from the truth his references to St. Gregory of Thessaloniki [Palamas] are can be seen from the explanation of another respondent, who demonstrates that Bulatovich distorted the Orthodox doctrine of Palamas, inasmuch as his first anathema is directed against those who recognize the energy of God not as divine but as God Himself, that is, who identify it [the energy] with the essence of God. Why has Fr. Bulatovich done all this? Why has he brought so many sins and divisions into the Athonite brotherhood? Why did he dishonour and expel the Abbot of the St. Andrew Skete, Fr. Ieronim? Or did he not know the 121st rule of the Nomocanon, which says of a monk who dishonours the Abbot, even justifiably: “may he be cursed, for he is separated from the Holy Trinity and has gone to the place of Judas”? Alas, one is forced to accept the thought that Fr. Bulatovich’s intended purpose was precisely dissension and expulsion while compiling his erroneous books, full of clear distortions of sacred words and known to be full of false interpretations of them.

However, in order to verify his possibly more honest conviction, let us pose the question as follows: perhaps Bulatovich has been so carried away by that which he has received from Schemamonk Ilarion and by his own reworked idea that for its sake he decided to garble passages from the Bible and fathers.

His doctrine consists of the following positions. In God not only His Essence is divine, but His energy as well; the energy is every word of God and every action; the name of God is also His energy (energy means will or power); it follows, according to Bulatovich’s words, that the name of God and every word of God is not only divine, but is God Himself. This is allegedly the teaching of St. Gregory of Thessaloniki. In actual fact the teaching of Saint Gregory condemns those who speak in this manner, as did the Barlaamites,* opponents of St. Gregory, who requires that one call the energy of God not God, but rather divine and to refer to it, not as God but as “divine” or “Divineness” (theotis, and not thos. This excerpt is distorted by Fr. Bulatovich on p.106).

Let us return now to Bulatovich’s very doctrine: to what is he leading his blind followers? He says on page 5 that the word of God on Mt. Tabor, that is, calling Jesus the “Beloved Son,” and the rest, is also God Himself, as a verbal action of God; in like manner every God-revealed truth, addressed to people by the Holy Spirit is God, for they are the verbal action of the Divinity. Our author repeats this absurdity more than once: see pages 22, 23, 26, 101, and 106, where it is openly said that every word of God “is God immutable, existing and living,” and even cites St. Symeon the New Theologian on p.107, where nothing of the sort is said. Fr. Bulatovich even more frequently repeats a passage from St. Tikhon of Zadonsk, as usual completely distorting its thought. Here are the words of St. Tikhon: “the great name of God includes within itself His Divine attributes, incommunicable to any creature, but to Himself alone, such as: consubstantiality, eternity, omnipotence, goodness, wisdom, omnipresence, omniscience, righteousness, holiness, truth, spiritual essence, etc.” Then our author, in his dishonest habit, cries out: “listen to what the holy God-pleaser says, that the Name of God is spiritual essence, and not an abstract idea.” The God-pleaser says nothing of the sort, just as he does not say that the name of God is allegedly itself omnipresent, omniscient, etc.: he says that the word “God” includes in itself the thought of all the attributes of God, of His righteousness, His spirituality, etc., but is not at all righteousness itself, or spirituality itself. Our author simply distorted the thought of the patristic sayings, changing the accusative case of the word: spiritual essence to the nominative. St. Tikhon here enumerates all the attributes of God taken from the Catechism (Spirit, eternal, all-righteous, omniscient, omnipresent, etc.) And he affirms that when we mention the name of God, we should express a pious faith in the Divine attributes, which are revealed in the holy Gospel and other books of revelation. Therefore, Fr. Bulatovich several times falsely accuses St. Tikhon entirely erroneously, as if he considered the name of God to be a spiritual essence. Let us return, however to the question of what is the fundamental thoughtlessness or the fundamental falsity of Fr. Bulatovich? In that the energy of the Divinity or the will of the Divinity is not that which the Lord did or the words that He pronounced. The energy and will of the Divinity have divineness (although without being God), but the works of the Divine energy and of the Divine will are not the same as the energy of God: Divine activity may be called God’s energy, but God’s words and God’s creation—these are works of Divine activity, of Divine energy, and not energy itself. It is this that Fr. Bulatovich, overlooked in his ignorance, or which he, in his cunning desired to over-look. If every word spoken by God and every one of His actions is God Himself, then it follows that everything seen by and tangible to us is God, and that is, pagan pantheism (and not “panteistism,” as Father Bulatovich expresses it in his ignorance, repeating the misprint in Russki Inok). Fr. Bulatovich affirms this absurdity without any shame he says that every word spoken on Mt. Tabor is God. It follows that the word “hear” is God and the word “whom” is God. The Saviour denounced contemporary moralistic Jews, saying to them “serpents, generation of vipers.” Does it follow that serpents and vipers are God? According to Bulatovich, this is certainly the case, doubly so, inasmuch as the serpent, and the hedgehog, and the rabbit are created by God, and are the activity of the Divinity and does it not follow that these animals are also God? Hindu pantheists, incidentally, teach this, and worship as gods crocodiles and apes and cats. Could it be that Fr. Bulatovich desires to draw Athonite monks to such insanity? What led him to this point: ignorance or cunning? He has no small share of ignorance. What sort of thoughtlessness does he commit, for instance, in stating, “The Lord revealed Himself with the namesake of His name on the cross”? Who is not the namesake of his own name? This is like saying “wooden wood” or “oily oil.” One could say that the Lord revealed Himself as identical with the content of His name, as “Saviour” (although this occurred not only in the hour of crucifixion, but in all the days of His earthly life). But to say “the namesake of the name” is to speak without any sense. Further, on p.10, the author applies the Trisagion to the Person of Jesus Christ; but the Armenians were expelled for this, and the holy Church teaches us to apply this hymn to the Most-Holy Trinity. Simply put, Fr. Bulatovich is very poorly versed in both theology and grammar. Even if he were totally illiterate, however, it would seem impossible for him to affirm and thrust upon the fathers such absurdity, as he has, asserting that every word and action of God is God Himself.

Sometimes Fr. Bulatovich himself looks on his absurd invention and tries to correct it, but he is unable to accomplish this. On p.41 he says “However, these divine attributes—consubstantiality, eternity, spiritual essence, etc.—we do not ascribe to the letter, with which we express Divine truth, but only to the very word of truth.” What then? For a word itself consists of letters and sounds. “Therefore,” Fr. Bulatovich continues, “when we speak about the name of God, having in mind the essence of the Name itself, by which we name God, then we say that the Name of God is God Himself; but when we have in mind the letters and sounds by which we orally express the truth about God and the Name of God, then we say that God participates in His Name” (cf.pp.78, 79, 88, and also p.101). What does the author wish to express in this incomprehensible phrase? Does he wish to say something or simply to confuse, to obscure the thought of his credulous teacher, so that he, reading these lines, would say: “Well, glory to God, here we are deifying neither sounds nor letters, but something else that I cannot understand.” Indeed no one can understand, we would add, because it is impossible to understand such nonsense. Logic distinguishes the essence of a thing from its phenomenon (although this, too, is rather vague), and a natural scientist would tell you that sounds are something audible, but that their essence is a vibration of the air and its impact on our eardrums; lightening is a visible phenomenon, but its essence is the release of electrical energy or power.

But what is the difference between a name and the idea or essence of a name? Any educated person would offer the response that the idea of a name is its thought (for instance, the name “Andrew” contains within itself the idea of manliness, and the name “Agapia,” the idea of love), and the essence of the name is understood to be that person to whom it is assigned. But Fr. Bulatovich does not wish even to hear such answers. He is indignant with those who “dare to equate the divinity of the name of God with the simple idea of God and who see in the name of God nothing but sounds” (p.152).

Perhaps, in the end, Fr. Bulatovich equates the wonder-working power of the name of God with the devout feeling of the person at prayer, for whom the Lord who is invoked, settles in his heart? No, he alleges that the name of God maintains its wonder-working power even when pronounced unconsciously. See, for instance, p.89 of his book: “Even if you call upon the name of the Lord Jesus unconsciously, you will nonetheless have Him [present] in His name with all His divine attributes.” What does it mean to say that one will have Him? We try to understand our new philosopher, but he again repeats: “although you call upon Him as a man, nonetheless you will have in the name of Jesus all of God” [or the whole fullness of God].

In other passages, equal to this in their absurdity, Fr. Bulatovich ascribes wonder-working power to the name of Jesus alone, as a sound, even without the prayerful entreaty of the one pronouncing it; distorting, as is his custom, the words of Christ. Fr. Bulatovich puts the following promise in Christ’s mouth: “When, after the resurrection from the dead, I send to you the Comforter, then you will no longer call upon Me, that is, you will not be in need of My intercession, but it will be enough for you to ask in My Name, in order to receive that which you desire from the Father. As such, He here demonstrates the power of His Name, inasmuch as one will neither see nor ask of Him Himself, but will only name His name. It will do such deeds” (p.44.). The Lord did not teach the Apostles and never spoke such things. He said “I will see you again” and “In that day you will ask nothing of me” [Jn 16:22–23]. Fr. Bulatovich boldly asserts “to question” [voprosite] (in Slavonic) is here in place of “to ask” [poprosite], but in so doing he tricks the simple-minded reader, for the Lord continued the discourse with the following words: “Truly, truly I say to you, if any one ask anything of the Father, He will give it to you in my name. Hitherto you have asked nothing in My name; ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full” (Jn 16:23–24).

May one think that Fr. Bulatovich is mistaken through ignorance, or is one forced to the conclusion that he is an ignorant deceiver? For the moment, it is left to the reader to decide. Bulatovich simply mocks the reader: announcing that it is not the sounds and words themselves that have divine power, but only its idea. It follows from Bulatovich’s falsified saying of the Lord (cf.p.46) that even an unconscious and prayerless pronunciation of His name is wonder-working. But our author, in other places in his book, either forgets about his fabrication of a magical significance of the name of God, or thinks that the reader has forgotten about it. After the introduction of some patristic sayings, it is clear that we must call upon the name of God with a prayer united in faith and zeal.

He cites the words of Chrysostom as follows: “We have a spiritual exorcism: the name of our Lord Jesus Christ and the power of the cross... If many have pronounced this exorcism without however receiving healing, then this was because of their lack of faith, and not from the powerlessness of the pronounced name.” This thought is continued in the author’s exposition of the further words of St. John Chrysostom on the remainder of p. 60 of his book; the same thoughts are found on pp. 64 and 66 in excerpts from Sts. Diadokhos, John of the Ladder and Gregory of Sinai, the Elder Paisy Velichkovsky (p.77), and Fr.John of Kronstadt (p. 81). All these excerpts witness that the Jesus Prayer and every calling upon His name is salvific only under the condition of devout faith, unceasing prayer, humble-mindedness, and fasting. Under the influence of these correct thoughts, Fr. Bulatovich himself utters the following on p. 69: “without heartfelt feeling the practice of the Jesus Prayer and of lifeless prayer may be called sinful.”

This correct wisdom, however, is not long remembered by the author in the continuation of his book. In any case, it does not seem occur to him, for as we have already seen, in the same place, (on pp. 14 and 15,) he attempts to demonstrate that the name of God pronounced without faith shows wonder-working power. On p.19, after some cited words of Kallistos, he quotes the words of Scripture: “If you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For man believes with his heart and so is justified, and he confesses with his lips and so is saved” (Rom 10:9–10); here again we see the necessity of heartfelt faith when calling upon the name of the Lord. However, in the third chapter the author forgets all this and indignantly says that “the imebortsy [name deniers] deny the evident truth in the Holy Scripture that miracles were performed by the divine power of the name of God and dare to assert that it was not by the power of the divine name [alone] that these miracle were performed, but by God Himself, and that the name of the Lord served only to call upon God as an intermediary power.” He especially likes to cite the healing of the lame man in the third chapter of Acts and, in particular, the words of the Apostle: “His name has made this man strong whom you see and know” (cf.,esp. p.7); but, in continuing his false and heretical method, does not complete the passage, which reads further, “and the faith which is through Him has given the man this perfect health and in the presence of you all” (verse 16).

One sees how hard it is for Fr. Bulatovich to part from the world-view of the Khlysts, according to whom words, acting magically in distinction from faith and virtue, lead us to the Divinity. In actual fact, if the name of Christ, called upon independently of faith and piety, could work miracles, then that about which we read in Acts would never have occurred: “And God did extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul so that cloths or belts were carried away from his body to the sick, and diseases left them and the evil spirits came out of them. Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists undertook to pronounce the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, ‘I adjure you by the Jesus whom Paul preaches.’ Seven sons of a Jewish high priest named Sceva were doing this. But the evil spirit answered them, ‘Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you?’ And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, mastered all of them, and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded” (19:11–16).

You see, the apostles’ items, touched with faith, although without calling upon the name of God, served for healing, but the unworthy calling upon the name of the Lord did not achieve any benefit. Our author asserts, entirely wrongly, that the Lord and the Apostles performed miracles only by the name of God. It is true that frequently both the Lord said only: “I command you, I tell you”, (without any name), and the Apostles said: in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ I say to you”, etc. But the Lord also frequently performed miracles in silence (walking on the water, the healing of the woman with an issue of blood, the healing of Malchus’ ear, the miraculous catch of the fish, and many others), so too did the holy Apostles perform healings and miracles without always pronouncing the Lord’s name. Sometimes they did so in silence or pronouncing other words. Such were the exposing of Ananias and Sapphira, the healing of Saul, where the name of Jesus Christ was not used by Ananias (9:17), and similarly, the healing of Aeneas by Peter. This contradicts the absurd affirmation of Fr. Bulatovich on p.42, which we have cited above. Similarly the resurrection of Tabitha, the healing of Elymas’ blindness by Paul (13:11), and the giving of the gift of the Holy Spirit through the laying on of hands upon the newly-baptized Ephesians (19:6). Paul’s immunity to the viper is another example. None of these events are compatible with Fr. Bulatovich’s superstitious doctrine about the magical significance of the name of God and that all words and acts of God are God. This last false teaching relates him with the Buddhists, and Hindus and the previous ones with Kabbalists. While contradicting the words of Divine Scripture with every step, he strengthens his superstition with the teaching of Kabbalism which, not being able to deny the miracles of Christ and not wishing to accept faith in Him as God, ascribe His miraculous power to the magical action of the name of God, claiming that He stole it from somewhere. Our author dedicates pages 99 and 100 of his book to a description of such Kabbalistic superstitions.

We will not specifically examine the most absurd of all the absurd chapters of Fr. Bulatovich’s book, the one in which he attempts to interpret all our divine services and the entire Psalter as expressions of faith that the name of God is God. There is not one single such saying in our services, or in the Psalter, or in St. Athanasius’ commentary on it. Of course our divine services, as with all words of prayer, are a constant calling upon God, and this naturally makes frequent use of His name. However it should be noted that in the Lord’s Prayer as it was given to us by the Lord, unmasks Bulatovich for there is no naming of God as “God,, or “Lord,” or any of the other Hebrew names of God, so beloved by our new philosopher. Suffice it to say that the majority of our hymns, prayers, and exclamations are formed from passages from the Psalms and [Old Testament] prophetic hymns, and therefore one can sometimes find in them expressions specifically from the Hebrew scripture: “the name of God” and “the name of the Lord” in place simply of “God” or “Lord.” The reader versed in the Psalter who looks through the excerpts from the divine services in Bulatovich’s book will be assured that nearly all, or even all, the cited excerpts from our divine services are borrowed from the sacred books of the Hebrew Scripture or Old Testament.

Let us ask, in the conclusion of our analysis of Bulatovich’s book: Is there in the fathers even a single expression that supports this book’s teaching that the name of God is allegedly God Himself? Not a single one. In order to render its author silent, let us examine those few passages that might appear to be such to the unwary reader.

On p.35 the words of the Blessed Theophylact are cited, in which he explains the equality of the apostolic expression “to baptize in the name of Jesus Christ” with Christ’s commandment to “baptize them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” The Blessed Theophylact writes: “The Holy Church conceives of the indivisible Holy Trinity; thus following the unity of the three Persons in essence, those baptized in the name of Christ are baptized in the Trinity, inasmuch as the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are indivisible in essence. If the name Father (in St. Theophylact, “of the Father”) were not God, and the name of the Son were not God, and if the name of the Holy Spirit were not God, then it would follow that to baptize in the name of the name of Jesus Christ, would be to baptise only in the Son. But he, Peter, says: in the name of Jesus Christ, knowing that the name Jesus (not “Jesus,” but “of Jesus”) is God, equal to the Name of the Father and the Name of the Holy Spirit.” This passage from St. Theophylact is meant as an explanation: the name of Jesus Christ signifies the Son of God, consubstantial with the Father and the Spirit, and therefore it would be the same to baptize in the name of either the Holy Trinity or [to baptise] in the name of Jesus Christ. This is not at all what Fr. Bulatovich is doing in reworking the words of this holy Father.

I would add from myself that, the Apostle Peter baptized these people, as well as all the others, in accord with Christ’s commandment expressed in these words: “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,” but in this discourse he did not explain these words to them, as they would not have been able to comprehend the fullness of their meaning.

The second passage upon which Antony Bulatovich so falsely puts hope belongs to St. Gregory the Sinaite: “Prayer is the preaching of the Apostles, immediate faith, active love, knowledge of God, the joy of Jesus, and what more may one say? Prayer is God, acting all in all, for which Father and Son and Holy Spirit are one activity, all acting in Christ Jesus.”

This is a poetic expression in which the word “is” takes the place of saying “is ranked,” “is nourished,” “attains,” etc. A similar turn is found throughout ecclesiastical poetry: “Jesus, all-miraculous, amazement of angels; Jesus, all-glorified, strength of kings; Jesus, all-pure, chastity of virgins.” Does it follow that one can say that the chastity of the righteous is not a condition of the soul, strengthened by grace, but is itself God—Jesus? Likewise, would not one say that the strength of a pious king is a condition of his reign strengthened by Christ’s power, but it is not Christ Himself? Is not this passage on prayer exactly the same? Prayer is one of the subjects of apostolic teaching and the fruit of the sincere adoption by the believing heart of a Christian. By prayer one attains immediate, that is, living, faith and active love and the knowledge of God. This is both the fruit of the source of knowledge for those being perfected; our prayer is the joy of Jesus Christ, and our joy for Jesus Christ. Warm, grace-filled prayer gives us God, acting in us, not only in the Holy Spirit, who, according to the Apostle, teaches what one should pray for (Rom 8:26), not of the Holy Spirit alone, but the Persons of the Most Holy Trinity in full, for the actions of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit are one action. There is no deification of prayer here and no support for the newly-minted superstition, for here it is not said that prayer is God, but rather that God is acting in us, “giving prayer to the one who is praying,” as it is said in the scriptural song of St. Hannah, which is sung in our canons (1Kings 2:9).

The lies that Bulatovich has contrived are those swept away like cobwebs. He has served the glorious name of Jesus in his evil-pursuit as corruptly as have the Jesuits who have given His name in the wickedness of their extraneous earthly ends.

If we were to attempt to expose every one of Bulatovich’s absurd thoughts which contradict the teachings of faith and healthy thought, there would be no end to this examination. One question remains: what led him to such a mental quagmire: a passion for false thought combined with obstinacy, or extraneous vainglorious ends? As much as one would like to give an affirmative response [i.e., to find some excuse for] the first part of the question and a negative one to the second, it is very difficult to do so. His judgments are too absurd and uneducated to believe in the sincerity of his errors. If we add to this his furious agitation, his incitement of the brothers of several monasteries, his crude disobedience to the great authority of that holy and spiritual man, the late Ecumenical Patriarch, Joachim III, then an even more sorrowful answer suggests itself. For he spread the rumour among the simple and childishly credulous Athonites that the Great Patriarch was allegedly bribed, that his letter was spurious, not signed by him.

In the present time the newly-elected Patriarch Germanos and the entire Holy Synod of the Great Church have unanimously affirmed the condemnation of Bulatovich’s book with its new teaching as well as Schemamonk Ilarion, and excommunicated all those who hold this teaching. They have pointedly agreed with that which the late Patriarch Joachim III of blessed memory had already done. May God grant that reason and conscience awake in the founders and followers of this new superstition and that they will show repentance for their errors and for causing stormy scandals and monastic rebellion in the monasteries of Holy Athos. They could [through repentance] demonstrate that they were not evil deceivers who “walk in the way of Cain, and abandon themselves for the sake of gain to Balaam’s error, and perish in Korah’s rebellion” (Jude1:11), but rather repentant sons of the Heavenly Father, Who is ready to say of them: “this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found” (Lk15:24).

Original Russian text translated and published in Vladika: The Life of Blessed Antony Khrapovitsky, Metropolitan of Kiev, by Archbishop Lazar Puhalo, Synaxis Press, Dewdney, British Columbia, Canada, 2009 - used with permission - all rights reserved.


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