THE HOLY SYNOD OF THE CHURCH OF GREECE
SYNODIC COMMITTEE ON HERESIES
24TH PAN-ORTHODOX CONFERENCE OF AUTHORIZED CHURCHES AND SACRED METROPOLISES ON MATTERS OF HERESIES AND PARA-RELIGION (Thessaloniki, 15-17.10.2012)
The 24th Pan-Orthodox Convention of Authorized Orthodox Churches and Sacred Metropolises on matters of heresies and para-religion, which took place under the auspices of His Beatitude Hieronymos, Archbishop of Athens and All Greece at the Educational and Cultural Foundation “Saint Gregory Palamas” in Thessaloniki, from the 15th to the 17th of October 2012, with the hospitable provision of the Very Reverend Metropolitan Anthimos of Thessaloniki, President of the Synodic Committee on Heresies and under his chairmanship, on the subject of “The Orthodox Church’s hope for salvation and the delusions of the eschatological heresies”, unanimously approved the following resolutions pursuant to an extensive discussion thereof:
1. The teaching pertaining to end time events inundates the entirety of the theology and the life of the Orthodox Church, focusing on whatever is absolute, final and determinant, which is none other than the Person of the incarnated Son and Logos of God and His absolute dominance over the world. In other words, according to the New Testament, the Kingdom of God is revealed in the Person and the opus of Jesus Christ and simultaneously comprises the central event of God’s intervention in History. Subsequently, the end time events are linked to the three dimensions of Time - the Past, the Present and the Future.
2. Orthodox eschatology is not simply a reference to the afterlife, nor is it the last chapter of the Holy Bible or the Dogmatics of the Church. It permeates the entirety of Scriptural teaching and as such, ecclesiastic and liturgical life, given that it is orientated towards - and aspires from its faithful – an active anticipation of the coming Kingdom of God, and the dynamic metamorphosis and renovation of the entire world.
3. The hope of end time, according to the testimonies of the Holy Bible, is founded in the mystery of Divine Providence, from the creation of the world, through the course of God’s people in History, and “to the end of the age” (Matth.28:20). The central axis of Christian hope is the Cross and the Resurrection of Christ, and the “day of the Lord” relates to the anticipated Kingdom of God.
4. In the Orthodox Church, Her life and Her theology, we speak of an “inaugurated” Eschatology, inasmuch as we are moving between events “already” and “not yet” as regards the Kingdom of God. The Orthodox teaching regarding the end times is linked - unbroken and organically – to the overall experiential, ascetic, liturgical and Mystery-centered cadre of the life of the Church, with a firm and adequate theological foundation in unity, interwoven with, and correlated to, the opus of Christ and the Holy Spirit within Creation and History. This theological basis has direct and specific consequences in the lives of the faithful, as regards the teaching on end time events, and even in the very identity of the Church. In light of these theological facts, the following comments are pointed out, in regard to the delusions of the eschatological heresies and the various other futurist groups:
a. In the various eschatologically-inclined heresies and para-Christian groups, an overly exaggerated and exceptionally anthropomorphic view and presentation of end time events are observed, either because they acknowledge a “verbatim” acceptance of the divine inspiration of the Holy Bible and their personal interpretation thereof, or because of the corruption of the Scriptural teaching through various “visions” or assorted “revelations” by the founders of those heresies.
b. Furthermore, because of the fact that the heretical movements are lacking in authentic ecclesiastic rules for interpretation and criteria for evaluation, the whole attempt to scripturally underpin their cacodox theories is based on a boundless subjectivism, which produces a plethora of arbitrary interpretations and cacodox viewpoints.
c. Many of the recent heretical and para-Christian movements of an eschatological and Chiliast character have their historical starting point - or have been influenced by the clime that was shaped - in the U.S.A. during the 19th century, on account of the intense sensation and expectation that had been cultivated in the various Protestant branches for an impending return and a Second Coming of the Lord.
d. In spite of the clear position of the Lord that “of that day and hour no one knows” (Matth.24”36), many of the eschatological Chiliast heresies, para-Christian movements and other futurist groups (for example the fearmongers warning about the end of the world in 2012, the Mayan calendar, the television and internet pseudo-prophets e.a.) do not hesitate, with various groundless Scriptural and chronological correlations, to determine by means of pseudo-prophecies the dates on which the Second Coming is to take place – and of course are repeatedly disproven.
e. In certain movements, various events and attestations in the Holy Bible are being used as a medium for psychological pressure, after having systematically trained their followers in a specific manner of thinking, so that – under the fear of “their slaughter during Armageddon” or “their being left behind during the Rapture” – their members boost their “missionary” activism, to prove that they belong to the category of the “chosen” and the “saved” ones.
5. The plenary session of the Conference discerned the immense usefulness - for the poemantic opus of confronting heresies - in completing the catalogue of heretical and para-Christian groups that had been drafted by the 5th Convention of the Authorized, in Nafpaktos in 1993, as well as of the catalogue of groups that are not compatible with the Orthodox faith, which had been drafted by the 7th Pan-Orthodox Convention of Authorized Orthodox Churches and Sacred Metropolises, in Aliartos of Volos in 1995. This has become necessary, on account of the appearance and activation of a plethora of new heretical, para-Christian and para-religious organizations around the world.
6. The plenary session of the Convention also pointed out the total absence of Orthodox eschatology in the proposed new books on religious studies, which are already being tentatively taught in Greece, at the elementary and secondary education levels. This absence is unfortunately accompanied by a radical change in orientation of the religious studies lesson, from its confessional character as constitutionally established in Greece, to the prospect of deconstruction that will lead to religious syncretism.
7. With Her Theology, Her two-millennia-long Tradition and life, the Orthodox Church condemns the beliefs of the various eschatological heresies and other assorted, erroneous futurist perceptions – not only because their syllogism is unsound and their explanation na¨ve, but because first of all, those beliefs are therapeutically incorrect; they are unable to cure the dimmed and arrogant minds and self-seeking hearts, finally leading their followers – who also are creations of God’s love – to their spiritual death and depriving them of the true and living hope for everlastingness.
The Chairman of the Convention:
† Metropolitan Anthimos of Thessaloniki
The Authorized representatives of the Orthodox Churches:
The Ecumenical Patriarchate: † Metropolitan Anthimos of Thessaloniki
The Patriarchate of Alexandria: Metropolitan Proterios of Ptolemais
The Patriarchate of Jerusalem: Archimandrite Demetrios Vasiliades
The Patriarchate of Moscow and All Russia: Hegumen Feofan Lukianov
The Patriarchate of Serbia: Protopresbyter Fr. Gaios Gaits
The Patriarchate of Rumania: Professor Ciprian Streza
The Church of Cyprus: Protopresbyter Demetrios Kostopoulos
The Church of Greece: Protopresbyter Kyriakos Tsouros
The Church of Poland: Protopresbyter Andrzej Lewezak
The Church of Albania: Theologian Ioannis Meni
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