Discussion between a Latin Missionary and an Orthodox Priest.
A Latin priest, graduate of the Theological School of Rome, as well as of other sciences and knowing the Greek Language to the extreme, was travelling through Asia Minor intending to proselytize Orthodox people. He arrived at New Ephesus, also known as Kousadaci, where he noticed a large crowd of Orthodox boarding a three masted ship, destined for Jerusalem, for the pilgrimage of the Holy Sepulcher.
Believing that the situation was perfect for his intentions, he decided to get on board and travel with them, hoping that he could proselytize many and succeed in his intent. Having boarded the ship, his first intent was to win over through devious means and flattery the hearts of his audience and subsequently plant the seed of his evil beliefs.
He started by pretending that he was impressed by the pilgrims who for their love of Christ, they left behind for a little while their countries, their families and their work, without regard to money, cost, troubles and dangers and without any thought for personal gain, they decided to take such a trip, only for their love of Christ and to venerate His most holy tomb for which they will receive their other worldly reward.
Following this and having worked the hearts of his audience so that he would be well received, he expressed his deep sorrow, saying: "You Greeks, the so called Orthodox, who are so good and God fearing, because you do not have a literate clergy but illiterate and inexperienced, you have fallen into fallacies and wrong beliefs and you are already completely contrary to the spirit of the Gospel. Your inexperienced priests have separated you from our Western Church which is dominated by the Pope, who is the only leader of the rest of the churches and holds tight the evangelical and apostolic traditions and you unfortunately find yourselves in fallacies and you will be punished unfairly. You will be blessed if you listen to me and reject this terrible fallacy and hear what I shall teach you, who decided to travel with you and suffer such troubles solely for your salvation. If therefore you listen to me, which I do not doubt you will, you will not only be blessed but your children may be educated for free. For those who are poor, the treasury of the Pope is rich and will provide you generously whatever you need. "If however, at first look it may be difficult for you to depart from the old customs such as that of baptism, the leavened prosphora, the proceeding of the Holy Spirit from the Father only, and all the rest that the Orthodox Church holds piously, all these, thanks to the indulgence of our Most Holy Pope we shall overlook them as long as you commemorate the name of the Pope, for the blessing of the Beatitude is enough to take you to paradise".
These and many other paradoxes he preached in a similar fashion, the gifted chatterbox and even though all those Christians who were there were illiterate and inexperienced, the grace of the Holy Spirit did not let them accept the hollow words of the cunning Latin. Knowing that he was a real papist, they were very sad and sorrowed greatly because no one of their theologians was there if possible to shut his unbounded chatter, especially as some weak in the faith started to doubt.
It just happened that a very simple priest was travelling in their midst, of advanced age, unkempt in appearance and dress. He seemed the most boorish of all and fit the image of those priests he accused mercilessly, the boastful and educated Caputsin.
When the renown Latin saw him, he said in front of everybody, "Here is your priest! From this lumberjack and ignorant, what ecclesiastical or proper advice could you get? Anyway let him approach so that I'll knit a well matched comedy" and stretching his hand to our simplest priest, he invited him to come near him, saying with great pomposity, "Come here near me, heretic father that we may discuss".
The crowd, however, seeing that the priest approached him fearlessly, were greatly wounded and said, "What calamity! How is it possible this boorish priest to take on such an accomplished orator?
The priest having approached him with determination and firm poise says to this important Latin. I for sometime now I was listening to your distortions and absurd "wisdoms" and many times I had decided to interrupt your chatter that poured out of your mouth but instead I waited to hear all your false beliefs and then with logic and graphical proofs to show you where the truth is. In the Western Church or in our Church. Because to day you invited me by calling me "heretic" I shall ask you to tell me if the word "schismatic" is Greek or Latin. He replied, "it is a Greek word". The priest said, "You answered correctly". So now do you see that you call yourself "schismatic", for if we Greeks left from you because of the innovations that you fell in, you should have called us schismatic with a Latin word. Instead by your own acknowledgement it is you who in the ninth century fell in different heresies, forcing the Eastern Church of Christ to secede from you, lest you passed on to us the disaster of heresy. For all along our Eastern Church guarded and still guards the validity of Orthodoxy which was preached by the Apostles and supported by the Seven Ecumenical Synods as well as the local ones which followed them, with piety till the ninth century and your Popes who were in agreement with us in everything. That is why as it is just, we called you with the Greek word, "schismatic" and for sure, heretic. That the same things confirm the truth, let us clarify with the most appropriate colours. You cannot deny most wise man, that your Western Church and all that period Popes, from apostolic times till the ninth century, were in complete agreement with us from the East and that all the innovations and inaccuracies that appeared in the Western Church, namely the contrary to the Bible and illicit additions of the procession from the Son, the acceptance of sprinkling in place of baptism, the use of unleavened bread, the acceptance of purifying fire, the immaculate conception of the Theotokos, the secular authority the infallibility and autocratic state of the Popes, the deprivation of the communion of the Holy Blood of Christ for the laymen (through the replacement with the wafer) and all the rest that were introduced in your Western Church, after the ninth and tenth century. In the contrary the Western Church, while one with the Eastern Church, kept without exception everything we kept with piety and true faith. Then all the most holy Popes of Rome and the remaining priests with one voice with the Eastern Church, met and worked together in the holy and Ecumenical Seven Synods and in the local ones through their representatives or ratifications with their signatures. That is why till the ninth century there were no innovations with the Latins and we were solidly together.
Proof of this truth is that our Church, every year celebrates and feasts those saint Popes and other Western hierarchs who some were, Pope Clement of Rome, Sylvester, Innocent, Celestin, Leo, Agath and Gregory the Dialogue, from whom we received the presanctified service and many more holy hierarchs like Leo, Bishop of Catania, Geronymus, Ambrose and Augustin. These as you know dearest, did not falter into any anti-gospel innovations as it unfortunately happens with you to day.
If you examine carefully and without passion, all the actions of the God elected Fathers of the Seven Ecumenical Synods as well as the local ones, you will see that until the ninth century no Pope or Hierarch of the Western Church accepted the innovations mentioned earlier. Let us not forget that Pope Leo the third denounced this illegitimate addition, "and of the Son" and that himself engraved unaltered and without any additions the holy symbol (the Creed) of the First and Second Ecumenical Synod, on silver slates, in both Greek and Latin not only for love of but for the protection of the Orthodox Faith. To these how do you answer, dearest?
He answered: "You Greeks, easterners and our early westerners misunderstood the true meaning of the evangelical place, which was discovered by our Latin teachers that lived after the ninth century, because as you say the Holy Spirit is of the Son and through the Son, why then you avoid saying and of the Son, which it plainly shows the same essence?"
The Orthodox then said "what a pitiful deceit! We, the Greeks, say, mean and preach that the Holy Spirit proceeds through the Son; if for argument sake we agree with what you so disrespectfully say, may it never happen, that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Son as well, then we attribute to the single Godhead two authorities and two causes and the equality of the Holy Spirit is compromised. This teaching is unforgivable blasphemy.
Listen then my friend, to what the luminaries and teachers of the Church preach since the apostolic times till now, the Trinitarians and scholastic theologians. They say that the trinity of the Godhead hypostasis is one essence and nature and accordingly it befits one honour and one worship, one glory and state, namely one monarchy and power. And the three persons of the ever present and blessed Trinity have everything in common save the hypostatic and personal attributes, namely, the ever existence of the Father, since the Father is the source of the Godhead according to Dionysius the Areopagite, brings forth the timeless birth of the Son and lets the Holy Spirit proceed from Him.
This is the correct faith of the Church of Christ, which we received from the Holy Apostles and Ecumenical Synods and your Latins believed until the ninth century.
Leaving out the unmistakable testimony of the many, one testimony that was spoken by the mouth of our Saviour, Jesus Christ is adequate to muzzle even the most heretic since He explicitly and clearly said, "When the Helper will come whom I shall send from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify about me".
Listen, dearest, how well expressed and with so much clarity has the God-Man Jesus shown the procession only from the Father? See what He says? "Whom I shall send" which denotes the same essence of the Son with the Holy Spirit, as the essence of the Father, which testifies that the Holy Spirit is co-sent with the Son due to the same essence, but proceeds only from the Father. That is why He added, "whom I shall sent from the Father" for if He proceeded from the Son as well, what would stop Him to add, "and from Me?"
We, while researching the Bible, we observe that Jesus the God-Man, spoke in parables on everything concerning moral and spiritual values and many times He avoided the "Son of God" by saying "Son of man" and this as we know very well, He did in anticipation of the malicious Pharisees; but on the matter of the three Godly hypostases and the one nature and essence of the single God and of the eminence of the Divinity, He spoke with frankness saying that He is the Son and Word of God while at other times He said, "I and the Father is one" and " I am in the Father and the Father is in Me", or "Father ....glorify your Son, that Your Son glorify You". And also, "I have glorified You on earth and completed the work You gave Me to do. And now glorify Me, You Father with the glory I had that was yours before the World" These He taught clearly not to allow heretics to find excuses for falsehoods. Anticipating also the heretic excuses of the Latins, He clearly expressed the procession from the Father only
Now let us see the innovation of the sprinkling , what evidence we can truly derive from the gospel, or from the Holy Apostles and the rest of the Holy Fathers, Latins and Greeks? For nowhere is it found the verb "to sprinkle" but the verb "to baptize" that is repeatedly proclaimed in the Gospel and other places of the Apostles and of the seven Ecumenical Synods, and no one can doubt the opposite innovation of sprinkling is dictated by the deceitful devil, and that while clearly the Saviour preaches to His followers, saying, "go and teach the Nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father ,of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" and with many ways proves the need of the Holy Baptizm. And while His holy followers were baptizing the nations, the Holy Apostle Paul, the mouth of Christ tells in writing to the Romans "whoever of us was baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into His death" and in his epistle to the Collosians he says, "Having been buried with Him in baptism, so have we risen with Him through the faith of the operation of God who has raised Him".
Regarding the three immersions, which denote the three day burial and resurrection of Christ, as was taught by the Holy Apostles as well as the article on the Ecclesiastic Hierarchy, by Dionysius the Areopagite, who is their direct successor, declares on the triple immersion he received from the Apostles saying : "For those baptized, the triple immersion and resurfacing, imitates the three day and night burial of Jesus the Lifegiver". The triple immersion baptism was adopted by the West till the 13th century, as the holy fonts that still survive in the old churches in Italy give loud testimony of this fact.
There you go, dearest Caputsin, the healthy view of the Eastern Church is thus proved as well as showing how far you are from the Orthodox view.
Furthermore our Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church following the example of our Saviour Jesus, performed the Eucharist for more than one thousand years both in the East as in the West with leavened bread, as testified by the more sincere papist theologians, but the Papist Church from the 11th century had innovated even the Eucharistic Mystery, introducing the unleavened.
Also the Western Church, following the seven Ecumenical Synods admitted that the holy gifts were sanctified through the blessing of the invoked Holy Spirit, with the blessing of the priest as attested by the same ancient conventions of Rome and France. However, following the above outrageous and inadmissible innovations, you introduced the arbitrary innovation of the sanctification of the holy gifts as if by the delivery of the Sunday pronouncements, a fact that contradicts the Divine Teaching.
The Eastern Church, following the Lords command, "Drink of this all of you" He offers the Holy Chalice to all. However, the Papist Church from the 9th century and following her fall added so many aberrations as were described earlier, and without prejudice, innovated this as well, by depriving the laity from the Holy Chalice, contrary to the command of our Lord and the explicit prohibition of many earlier Orthodox Bishops of Rome.
What can we say though of the stupendous claim of the Pope concerning his primacy and the infallibility? Referring back to the Fathers and the Ecumenical Synods of the Church of the first nine centuries, we are informed that never was the Bishop of Rome accepted as the highest authority and infallible head of the Church, but every bishop is the presiding head of his local church, and only submits to the Synodical decisions and commandments of the Church at large, as shown from the ecclesiological history which says explicitly, "The Archbishop of Rome is equal to the one in Constantinople, having primacy in order of rank only but not vested with supremacy.
Here is what the 28th Canon of the 4th Ecumenical Synod says: "For the Fathers rightly granted privileges to the throne of old Rome because it was the royal city. And the one hundred and fifty most religious Bishops, actuated by the same consideration, gave equal privileges to the most holy throne of New Rome, justly judging that the city which is honoured with sovereignity and enjoys equal privileges with the old Rome.
From all this, it becomes totally clear that the primacies of both the Rome and Constantinople Patriarchates is on rank and have not the least authority over the other Patriarchs.
The Orthodox Eastern Church of Christ, except for the Son and Word of God, has never recognized anyone on earth with infallibility. Even the Apostle Peter himself, the successor of whom you boast that he was the real Pope, denied the Lord thrice and was corrected by the Apostle Paul twice because he strayed from the true path of the Gospel.
Also the Pope Liberius on the 4th century had signed the Arian Confession, Zosimus in the 5th century who denied the sin of the forefathers, Vigilus in the 6th century who was condemned by the Holy Synod and Onofrius who in the 7th century fell into the heresy of the Monophysite, all these were Popes and were condemned by the Synods mentioned earlier, while their successors conceded and accepted their convictions.
It is well noted as the ecclesiastical history attests, that all those that wished to appear inventors of new dogmas, so that they be glorified, they fell into different false beliefs and absurdities. So the innovator Latins because of their innovations, have fallen miserably on the autocracy claims of Pope Nicholas, who cultivated the false vines to consolidate their arbitrary aspirations. Since then the personal claims sowed further bizarre and false innovations, such as purgatory that is completely foreign and unknown to the Church, the left over virtues of the saints and their distribution to those in need, the total restitution of the just before the common resurrection and judgment, and other similar innovations. And finally the unheard of dogma of the immaculate conception of the Theotokos, unknown in the early Church, because the Orthodox Church at large piously believes and preaches that only the God-Man Saviour Jesus was born without ancestral blemish, however the Lady Theotokos who was within the natural law was born like all the people.
Besides the above innovations which have been proved to be born out of the old swindler devil, you betray yourselves without knowing it, permit me to tell you, the most vile of the false teachers, because you try to deceive the simpler people with all sorts of underhanded promises, thinking that all are lawful and necessary for union, suffice that the Pope be recognized as the supreme and infallible master having dominion over all churches, and being the sole representative of Christ on earth and source of all grace.
Who, I beg you , apostle and teacher of the Church, or hierarch, great or small, ever dared to declare such, not only anti-gospel beliefs but also logically unacceptable chatter.
Since you, the worshipers of the Pope, call us easterners heretics and false believers, why do you forgive us and ignore our false beliefs, as long as that we willingly declare your Pope, supreme and infallible master of all the churches?
If our Lord Jesus Christ, does not grant the least forgiveness to those who blaspheme the Holy Spirit, neither in the present nor in the future, anyone who unties any of His least commandments will be least in His Kingdom, or if one is not dressed in the wedding dress and have the true faith, will be cast out by the Bridegroom and since the God ordained Ecumenical Synods cast out the heretics with anathemas, how is it possible that you would so irreverently ignore our false beliefs, believing that by simply bowing to the Pope and accepting his infallibility suffices for us to be saved?
That this proves the Latin Church is totally anti-gospel and totally foreign to even any logic, needs not be said. We, however, tightly guard without change the ancient teaching of the Church, if you wish to unite with us, as we also always wish for the union of all the churches, we shall show you with appropriate love everything we believe can be done through economy, according to the discretion. Where however it is injurious to dogmatic areas we cannot succumb because we shall thwart the regime of all the ecumenical Synods. This will not result to a Union but a dark overthrow at the expense of the Orthodox. For this you Westerners to join us you must embrace our first and representative Church, rejecting the libelious additions of : "and of the Son", reject the sprinkling, accept the Holy baptism with the three immersions, the leavened bread, cast out the purgatory, the sinlessness and absolutism of the Pope, the immaculate conception of the Theotokos Mary, and all the rest. Then an in Christ Union will occur, that is sought by the same gospel sincerity and the pleasure of the all holy will of our Saviour Christ.
To conclude though everything that were said till now, with an example to demonstrate to whom belongs the schism, I give you the following example and immediately requested to bring him a piece of paper. Taking it in his hand (the paper), the priest told in front of everybody and to the dear Latin, "Do you see this paper? This complete paper as you can see now is like the Church of Christ. While we were united we were unbreakable and inseparable. When however, due to the malice of the old cunning devil, the innovations which we spoke of earlier had entered the Western Church, forcing the Eastern Church of Christ to tear away the Western one, to save the Christ bearing followers" and immediately tore the piece of paper into two pieces saying. "Here is the paper that was divided into two pieces, half of the paper is the Eastern Church Of Christ that remained unaltered, keeping the ancient teaching and Orthodoxy, which will be preserved into all ages, anchored on the unbreakable foundation of Faith. The other half of the paper, which represents the Western Church, which did not stay the same after it was torn, but continued to be torn by umpteen other heresies. Here is a piece torn by the "Lutherans" and immediately the elder tore a strip from the paper. Also the "Calvinists" and tore another strip, and likewise continued to tear many more, for example for the Puritans, the Rationals, the Quakers, the Methodists, the Mormons and all the rest, which were torn from the paper of the Western Church. By tearing a strip for each of the above heresies, the wise local priest thus demonstrated who the real schismatics are.
The very Latin, knowing all these truths, and not being able to argue anything about the truth, wriggling with anger and greatly offended, he retreated. The Christians there were greatly pleased and were glorifying God and kissing the hand of the good priest, loudly praising him, and mocking the vanquished. He, however, the true priest of the Highest, advised them according to the gospel, not to praise him as all praise belongs to God, from Whom all good gifts come. Moreover he urged all the people on the ship, not to dare offend the Latin in the least, but to serve him in all his physical and moral needs and if he wished as a sensible man to accept the Orthodox confession, to provide him as much as possible, with all the salvific means available.