The Challenge of Our Time – Fr. George Florovsky. The great Russian bishop of the last century, Theophanes “The Recluse” (d. ), in one of his pastoral. Candidate, University of Oxford, UK speaks on “George Florovsky and Christian Hellenism.” Read about the seminar on the St. Vladimir’s. Fr. George Florovsky Resource Page. About Georges Vasilievich Florovsky: Philosopher of the Orthodox World (1 of 8) · Georges Vasilievich.

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This website and “Monks and Mermaids” belong to one another. Over history there have, unfortunately, been episodes when people sought to defend the truth with violence. But they are two contrasting realities. Truth cannot be imposed with means other than itself!

Truth can only come with its own light. Yet, we need truth. Without truth we are blind in georve world, we have no path to follow. The great gift of Christ was that He enabled us to see the face of God”. Pope Benedict xvi, February 24th, The Church is ecumenical, catholic, God-human, ageless, and it is therefore a egorge unpardonable blasphemy against Christ and against the Holy Ghost—to turn the Church into a national institution, to narrow her down to petty, transient, time-bound aspirations and ways of doing things.

Her purpose is beyond nationality, ecumenical, all-embracing: His first theological essays were offered in these contexts.

Ordained inFlorovsky spent much of the decade lecturing in Britain, where he was enthusiastically received. He remained a principled and fearless force in ecumenical meetings into his final decade, his last major event being the Louvain Assembly.

George Florovsky and Christian Hellenism

Any suggestion of historical inevitability of schisms, following the veorge tendency to posit necessary causal links between events, is to be rejected. Christian communities are composed of free persons; the history of doctrine must not be thought to follow patterns of logical deduction or organic evolution. Precisely in this light, however, we cannot gorge as if events had never happened: Yet a changed historical perspective, Florovsky held, might also reveal a wider acceptable consensus.

This does not mean, however, that canonical boundaries can be ignored. Intercommunion without full unity in faith is impossible. The primary divider is the papal claims, reflecting a false doctrine of Church unity. Yet Florovsky is clear: In the Reformation, contrastingly, he discerns a departure from priesthood and historic Florovsly order.

The Challenge of Our Time – Fr. George Florovsky

While Florovsky pushed the ecumenical conversation towards ecclesiology, he underscores nonetheless that existing divisions concern the whole of faith, involving doctrines of God, Christ, Mary, man and — not least— the understanding of history implied in these.

Florovsky regarded the recovery of patristic theology as ecumenically crucial. Such synthesis presumes discrimination: Agreement veorge truth requires conversion, response to a divine gift.

The Orthodox uniquely remind all Christians of the. There, together with his friend Archbishop Michael Constantinides, primate of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, Florovsky led the Orthodox delegation in a serious challenge to the Protestant presuppositions of the assembly, in the form of two separate Orthodox statements: While the first response was critical, the second repudiated outright the approach of the Faith and Order report towards Christian geoge as entirely unacceptable to the Orthodox Florlvsky.

Only a complete return to the total faith and episcopal order of the Catholic and Florpvsky Church of the Seven Ecumenical Councils can produce the desired unity. Nor should this unity be understood only eschatologically, for it exists as a continuous historical reality.

Orthodox are bound to confess their conviction that the Church has preserved fully the apostolic faith. These points were further elaborated in the Orthodox statement at Oberlinwhich Florovsky also authored, and which is still considered one of the best statements of Orthodox ecclesiological self-understanding in the ecumenical movement.

The result was decisions made by men who flroovsky ignorant of dogma and ignorant of Church history, tradition, Christian culture. When there is ignorance of this sort it means that in dialogue, which I am entirely in favor of, these individuals do not represent Protestantism, or Orthodoxy, or Rome at all, but rather their own stupidities.

From the start, Iakovos insisted there be no separate Orthodox statements as there had been at Evanston. Representing florovssky Ecumenical Patriarchate at DelhiFlorovsky flouted this directive, leading forty Orthodox representatives together with Bishop Athenagoras Kokkinakis in a statement reiterating the Orthodox georte terms of involvement.

George Florovsky and Christian Hellenism

Florovsky followed Vatican II with positive interest, noting a return to ancient tradition and more conciliar structures. Without sound doctrinal foundations, reconciliation would prove illusory, and only alienate the faithful. The secularizing trend in theology also signaled a crisis of faith.


The Uppsala Assembly was hardly an ecumenical event: For all his strictures, Florovsky remained ecumenically committed to the end. In interviews of his last decade, he defended continued participation in the WCC, noting the influence of Orthodox participants in turning the conversation to ecclesiology and introducing patristic studies into Faith and Order.

Orthodox responsibility to the Christian world makes ecumenical witness imperative. And Orthodox have also learned from other Christians. Ecumenical encounter reawakened Orthodox theologians to neglected elements of their own tradition, challenging them to renew or clarify the Orthodox teaching. In this regard, ecumenism had encouraged greater seriousness about theology. Looking forward, Florovsky held out hope for serious theological work, particularly in light of the increased ecumenical involvement of Roman Catholics.

The work is urgent; the victory rests with the Lord. Archbishop Basil Krivocheine once remarked that Florovsky showed the Orthodox that they could be ecumenical without betraying Orthodoxy. While he left much undone, and the situation has changed since his day, Florovsky laid perennial foundations, which will guide generations to come. His example was marked by bold candor in speaking the truth, sympathetic willingness to learn from other Christians, absolute confidence in the universal vocation of Orthodoxy, and an ability to hold together polarities that many lesser spirits would pry apart.

In his own words: This commentary involves a certain amount of repetition. We have already given an account of how two groups of theologians, one French and Catholic, and the other made up of Russian refugees in Paris who were Orthodox, came to meet as colleagues. The groups surprised each other because their criticism of their respective churches echoed each other, because they identified the same theological enemy in the influence of neo-scholasticism, and they had the same solution in a radical appeal to Tradition and the Fathers as the context in which everything else has to be interpreted.

About Tradition, Fr Florovsky wrote: And this “true tradition,” according to St.

Irenaeus, is grounded in, and guaranteed by, that charisma veritatis certum, which has been deposited from the very beginning in the Church and preserved in the uninterrupted succession of Apostolic ministry: Thus, “tradition” in the Church is not merely the continuity of human memory the permanence of rites and habits. Florovs,y, “‘tradition” is the continuity of georgge assistance, the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit.

The Church is not bound by “the letter. In the dialogue that continued from the mid ‘s till the very eve of Vatican II, Fr Florovsky had to drop out because he went to the States in Nevertheless he was there at the beginning, and his basic theological position found an echo of agreement on both sides. The fact that both groups were marginalised meant that neither the Orthodox Church as glorovsky whole, nor the Catholic Church knew that it was going on, nor did the theologians themselves have any great ambition that anything of historic importance would come of it.

It was a dialogue between people who were simply interested in the same subjects. All this changed when Archbishop Angelo Roncalli became papal nuncio in Paris. When he became Pope John XXIII, called a council, invited the French Catholic theologians to participate and the Orthodox churches to send observers, then the sheer excellence of the theology produced by both groups became a formative influence on Vatican II and florovsmy the official dialogue that now takes place between Catholics and Orthodox.

In the light of this, we can understand the paragraph about which we shall comment. While the Catholic Church is normally considered to be a “sister church”, it has made too many mistakes since the schism, the Orthodox believe, the biggest one being breaking canonical communion with the Orthodox Church and the subsequent exaggerated growth of the papacy up to fflorovsky including Vatican I. The Catholic Church, for its part, normally considers that the Orthodox are in schism, even though they would gdorge that the heorge of schism was shared by both parties.

George Florovsky – St Gregory Palamas and the Tradition of the Fathers

What can be done about it. It looks like the clash between an unstoppable force striking an immovable object! However, read this paragraph from Fr Florovski: Peter, as the most esteemed among us, as one who presides in charity. Against that kind of neo-scholastic theology, he opposed the evidence of Tradition.

In fact, for him, Tradition is the most basic authority in the light of which some councils of the Church have been rejected and others accepted, and according to which all councils must be interpreted: Again, he discovered a group of Catholic theologians who had come to the same conclusion. Such a conclusion was already “in the air” among Catholic theologians. Pope Pius XI had already said that the liturgy is the primary expression of the “ordinary magisterium” of the Church, which means the expression of Tradition in the day-to-day teaching authority of the Church.


I am not sure how conscious Pope Pius XI was of how different and opposed to the normal Vatican point of view this statement was. If the Vatican had been asked what is the primary expression of the ordinary magisterium, it would have pointed, without hesitation, to the latest papal encyclicals, but Pius XI was pointing to the liturgy.

The Vatican view of doctrinal development in Tradition was that of ever greater profundity and clarification, so that it was not necessary to look to an earlier, less profound, less clear version of the Faith in the past because the latest version is bound to be clearer and better. This is a constant characteristic of the Church; and the Holy Spirit is not more present in one generation than in another. It is therefore possible, even probable, that the theology of the Fathers of the Church be more profound in certain areas than is current teaching, and it is always a worthwhile task to delve into the Fathers to complement what we already hold to be true, or even to provide us with an alternative version of Tradition on a particular point.

Another dimension was added to our understanding of the Church when the Paris-based Archimandrite Nicolas Afanassieff,looked back into the sources to the post-apostolic fathers, to St Ignatius of Antioch and St Irenaeus, and formulated “eucharistic ecclesiology”.

If Tradition is the product of the synergy between the humble, obedient Church and the Holy Spirit, then it is in the eucharistic assembly where the Church and the Spirit are most in synergy: The eucharistic assembly, which can trace its teaching and mission to the apostles and shares in the Christian Mystery by the power of the Holy Spirit, is the true source of Tradition.

Thus, Sacrosanctum Conciliumthe Vatican II document on gworge liturgy, would say in its first chapter that the liturgy is the source of all the Church’s powers, which includes Tradition. Afanassieff said that the whole universal Church is not the sum of its parts diocesesbut is mystically present in all its parts, because each part is the body of Christ which cannot be divided: Thus, each local eucharistic community is, as body of Christ, a manifestation of the universal Church, and the bishop, or a priest in the name of a bishop, in presiding florkvsky the Mass in a local georg, is presiding over an act of the universal Church.

Hence, the tradition which expresses the community’s understanding of the faith during the successive generations of its history, starting with its spiritual ancestry from the time of the Apostles, is also a version of the universal Tradition. However, unlike the hosts in the ciborium, each local church has its own history, its own culture, its own problems down the years, its own saints, its own florvosky seeking God within their own context and according to their own vocabulary, its own experience of God, its own style of being religious, and its own gifts and shortcomings.

Both unity and diversity are essential characteristics of the Catholic Church and the Holy Spirit is the Author of both unity and diversity. He works with the Church tlorovsky, at a sacramental level, and universally, manifesting the lordship of Christ over the whole world. Therefore theologians must recognise the diversity within Tradition, must avoid simplistically identifying their own tradition which is yeorge with Tradition as what all traditions have in common.

Theologians must ask if they are truly incompatible or only apparently so; whether, even if they are incompatible, the difference has been considered to be sufficiently central to cause a breach of communion or not; or whether the difference simply shows another way of approaching the problem. Thus, Florovsky answers the problem of the validity of heterodox sacraments by following St Augustine, as it florovky in the post above: