Orthodox America

 Concerning the Typicon and About the World Council of Churches 

       The late Protopresbyter Michael Pomazansky will forever by remembered by the Church as one of the greatest theologians of our day. He became known to English-speaking Orthodox through the translation of his book Orthodox Dogmatic Theology (see below). In addition to other books--In the World of Prayer; Life, Faith and the Church (two volumes of essays); Our God Is in Heaven and On Earth-Fr. Michael wrote numerous articles on a broad range of subjects: the feasts, liturgics, the ecumenical movement, sophielogy, St. Basil's Hexameron, grace... The following brief excerpts illustrate but inadequately the breadth and depth of his truly Orthodox mind.


Concerning the Typicon

       The present liturgical typicon was already contained in the idea behind the divine services of the early Christians, just as a plant seed already contains the forms of its future development, up to the time that it produces mature fruit, or just as in the newly conceived organism of a living creature there is hidden its future form. To the foreign eye, to the non-Orthodox West, the fact that our Typicon took on a static form is regarded as ossification, petrification. But for us it is an expression of full maturity; we observe the same developmental completion in the iconography of the Eastern Church, in the church architecture, in the inner design of the best churches, in the traditional melodies of church singing. Further efforts of development in these spheres so often lead to "decadence", they lead not up but down. One can draw only one conclusion: that we are closer to the end of the Church's history than its beginning...

      We are told: The typicon is not adhered lo, and besides, the theological "key" to it has been lost. To this we would reply:

       The difficulty of fully implementing the typicon stems from the prevailing maximalism which is an inherent feature of Christianity in its Orthodox understanding--whether it be the moral demands of the Gospel, the canonical strictness of the Church, the sphere of abstinence-asceticism or the sphere of prayer and divine services which rest upon the injunction, Pray without ceasing

        ...If we see a decline in piety, a lack of understanding of the services, the reason for this lies outside the Church, in the decline of faith among the mass of people, in the decline of morality, in the loss of a church consciousness. There where the church consciousness and piety are preserved, there is no reformation in the understanding of Christianity. We accept the Gospel and the apostolic writings not through some special prism or refraction, but in their immediate, direct meaning. And we are sure that our common prayer is accomplished on the same dogmatic and psychological foundations on which it was accomplished in the apostolic and early Christian times, despite the difference in liturgical forms."


About the World Council of Churches

       It is not from narrowness or conservatism, not from fanaticism or intolerance of foreign opinions and convictions that we don't accept a new, broadened understanding of the Church, but because our first duty is to hold firmly to the apostolic Tradition, and with it to the ancient dogma concerning the Church. It is not, furthermore, due to any loss of love that our Church isolates herself from the World Council of Churches--which pretends to become a new "ecumenical church"--but because she sees the error of this new path and has a direct obligation to guard all of us Orthodox from it. The Church fervently desires the enlightenment of the whole world through the light of the Gospel, but this requires that the Church itself be preserved in freedom, strength and inner unity. This is not the viewpoint of only a small branch of the Orthodox Church; here we make bold to express the teaching of the entire Universal Church, in unity with the host of apostles, martyrs, hierarchs, ascetics and teachers of piety of all ages, in accordance with the words of the Apostle: we declare unto you--concerning the Word of life--that ye also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ (I John 1:3). In fellowship with them lies the strength of the Church and the fullness of the Church and the true ecumenicity-catholicity of the church

(Both selections translated form Russky Pastyr, No. 2, 1988)

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