Metropolitan Jonah On the Future of Orthodoxy in America


His grace, Met. Jonah laid some much needed smack down on the subject of Orthodox Unity in America and how we should proceed forward with that task.  This is a VERY important Homily!


15 Responses to “Metropolitan Jonah On the Future of Orthodoxy in America”

  1. Tap Says:

    Looks like his not entertained by the idea that he might have be answerable to the Patriarch of Constantinople.

    “…we surrender the freedom we have embraced as American Orthodox christians, to a Patriachate still under Islamic domination…”

    Reminds me of Vladimir Solvyev’s words (slightly out of context b/c the greater point would take too many word):

    To begin with, the Divine and the human were confused in the sacred majesty of the Emperor. Just as in the confused thought of the Arians Christ was a hybrid being, more than man and less than God, so Cæsaropapism, which was simply political Arianism, confused the temporal and spiritual powers without uniting them, and made the autocrat something more than the head of the State, without succeeding in making him a true head of the Church. Religious society was separated from secular society, the former being relegated to the monasteries, while the forum was abandoned to pagan laws and passions. The dualism of Nestorius, condemned in theology, became the very foundation of Byzantine life. Or again, the religious ideal was reduced to bare contemplation, that is, to the absorption of the human spirit in the Godhead, an obviously Monophysite ideal.
    The moral life, on the other hand, was robbed of its practical force by the inculcation of the supreme ideal of passive obedience and blind submission to power; that is to say, of an ideal of quietism which was in reality the denial of human will and energy, the heresy of the Monothelites. Finally, an exaggerated asceticism attempted to suppress the bodily nature of man and to shatter the living image of the divine incarnation — a logical though unconscious application of the Iconoclastic heresy. This profound contradiction between professed orthodoxy and practical heresy was the Achilles’ heel of the Byzantine Empire. There lay the real cause of its downfall. Indeed, it deserved to fall and still more it deserved to fall before Islam. For Islam is simply sincere and logical Byzantinism, free from all its inner contradiction. It is the frank and full reaction of the spirit of the East against Christianity; it is a system in which dogma is closely related to the conditions of life and in which the belief of the individual is in perfect agreement with the social and political order.

  2. photios Says:

    “To begin with, the Divine and the human were confused in the sacred majesty of the Emperor. ”

    No. Justinian’s “symphony” was that the Christian Emperor united in His person the secular and the christian church to bring harmony between the two, but He was not the “head” of the Church like Henry the VIII became in England.

    If you want to look at an example of Nestorianism, look no further than the U.S. with the seperation of Church and State…there is no person that unites the two and establishes harmony. They are in dialectical opposition.

  3. photios Says:

    Oh and we aren’t impressed by Solvyev’s arguments. The guy was a flat out Gnostic in his theology and doesn’t represent at all what Byzantine life actually was. You’re just peddling your propaganda.

    Try actually reading Justinian’s Institutes, read the Saint’s Christology for yourself and try reading Justinian the Great: Emperor and Saint by Asterios Gerostergios.

    Tap, you need to get out more and read outside of the pop propaganda.


  4. Tap Says:

    I see nothing in the “Saints” Christology, both East and West thats not compatible, even though language/expression differences make them looks divergent on the surface.

    “You’re just peddling your propaganda…you need to get out more and read outside of the pop propaganda…”
    interesting prattle, coming from photios (Jones ?). Try looking in the mirror. [pardon me if i’ve confused you with the anti-catholic internet polemicist.]

    and doesn’t represent at all what Byzantine life actually was
    He actually does represent quite accurately. Part only of which i quoted.

  5. Krause Says:

    Tap, I think by the “Saint’s” Christology, Photios meant St. Justinian’s Christology (as opposed to the theology of “the Saints”) specifically because Solvyev’s words seem to implicate Justinian as heterodox.

    Also, although I don’t know much at all about solvyev, it seems odd that he vacillates so much between accusing Byzantium on the one hand of confusing and conflating the natures of Christ, and on the other hand of having too much separation. It would seem like one would tend towards one or the other maybe. It’s at least an odd tension I noted.

  6. Tap Says:

    Krause, absolutely, i’d admit its not readily understandable what he’s getting at without reading his build-up to that point. If you are interested in the document pls email me.

  7. testostercone Says:

    BTW, you can see me walk out of the altar behind Met. JONAH at the beginning. I help ol’ Fr. Martin down the steps.

    There it is: 15 seconds of fame…

  8. Ø Says:

    Here’s a follow-up talk, in case anyone is interested:

    [audio src="" /]

  9. Amartolo Says:

    I am shocked at Metropolitan Jonah’s arrogance to speak so naively against the Ecumenical Patriarchate! Why does he think he knows more about Orthodoxy than the First among Equals? America is not an Orthodox nation and will not be if we do not humble ourselves to the whole body of the Church. Orthodoxy is not a unity of ideology, or just of faith, but it is a personally unity in Christ and with the bishops. The Church is not built in pride, but humility… but Jonah likens the Patriarch to the Pope! and calls him a foreign despot grrrrr. “they don’t understand….” He sounds like a child who won’t submit to the authority of his parents. America needs the “Old World”, our I would respect his opinions more if he would actually provide a well organized path to unity that upholds the canons of the Church. If he wants to call the Ecumenical Patriarch power-hungry he should stop trying to unite America under himself! Let the Patriarch do his duty so that we can establish real unity under one head and then be granted true autocephaly.

  10. Ø Says:

    Amartolo –

    I think there is probably some room for disagreement on this issue, but I would like to clarify one particular issue—the comparison of the Ecumenical Patriarch (EP) to the Pope of Rome (PR).

    From what I understand, the EP has taken a position regarding the autocephaly and canonicity of regional churches that seems to imply that it is the EP’s recognition that makes a church autocephalous and/or canonical. If this is a fair reading of the EP’s position—and it may not be, as I am woefully uninformed on this matter—it seems to be similar to the PR’s position in at least one important way:

    It seems to deny that the fullness of the Church is present in the local church gathered around its bishop, which is, as I understand, a fundamental of Orthodox ecclesiology. Rather than locating sacramental and ecclesial authority on the local level, the EP seems to wish to centralize it in himself. This—if it is, in fact, his position—smacks of Romanism, which does not recognize the authority of bishops except as delegates of the PR. Again, if Orthodox bishops must seek the EP’s approval in order to administer the sacraments, etc., it seems very much like they are nothing more than delegates of the EP, at which point he does look very much like the PR.

    Of course, you clearly disagree, and I’d like to understand why. What do you think of my reading of the situation? How could it be improved, and why?

  11. Ø Says:

    Also, I started reading from the first blog you linked, and I was deeply perplexed by the use of the term “diaspora”. I, of course, recognize that the majority of Orthodox in America really are diaspora. However, their children are quickly becoming American—and there are Orthodox, such as the authors of this blog, who are not in any sense diaspora. I mean, my ancestors are all Western European (well, and Jewish), and I was born to American parents in America. How does the EP’s position account for the growing contingency of Orthodox Americans native to these lands?

  12. Amartolo Says:

    Hello all,
    I’m sorry if my response sounded heated… I won’t lie, I was a little perturbed at the words of His Eminence, Metr. Jonah, may God grant him many years. Let me better explain my reading of the situation especially related to the term “diaspora”. Please keep in mind that I am arguing my opinion and do not intend to sound like I’m pontificating, nor do I anathematize those who disagree. I am willing to be shown errors in my understanding, so please respond graciously.

    Metr. Jonah rejects the term diaspora as applying to the growing indigenous Orthodox population here in the States, and in a very real sense he is right. America’s faithful are no longer simply a diaspora in the sense of being rooted in those who have left the “Old World” to live in freedom here. The immigrants have become Americans, and Americans are becoming Orthodox. But the Church’s use of the term diaspora does not refer to immigration, as explained by Archimandrite Lambriniandis in the address which sparked this whole debate: . Please do read it so that you can understand the opposing opinion in the words of an official representative of the Patriarchate.

    Explaining the Patriarch’s use of the term “diaspora” Dr. Lambriniandis says, “the term “diaspora” is a technical term denoting those regions that lie beyond the borders of the local autocephalous Churches. It does not mean that the Orthodox people who dwell in these regions live there temporally, as misleadingly it was argued by His Eminence Phillip in a recent article (“The Word”). According to the 28th Canon of the 4th Ecumenical Council one of the prerogatives of the Ecumenical Patriarch is precisely His jurisdiction exactly over these regions, which lie beyond the predescribed borders of the local Churches.”

    The EP is not claiming universal jurisdiction as does the PR, but simply holding to the canons and precedents set by the church since the 5th century. Consider the founding of the Church of Russia. St. Vladimir baptised his people in 988 and Orthodoxy became the foundation of Russian society over several centuries. It was 460 years later (1448) that the Moscow Patriarchate was granted autocephally by the EP.

    The American Church’s jurisdictional situation is without a doubt uncanonical. Having bishops claiming authority of the same territory does not reflect the unity of the faith nor the unity of God. Dr. Lambriniadis puts this well saying,

    “It cannot be accepted, as often it is said, that the unity among the Orthodox Churches is safeguarded by either a common norm of faith and worship or by the Ecumenical Council as an institution. Both of these factors are impersonal while in our Orthodox theology the principle of unity is always a person. Indeed, in the level of the Holy Trinity the principle of unity is not the divine essence but the Person of the Father”

    So, in conclusion, the EP is not the PR nor does he want to be; he is simply fulfilling what he, and the rest of the Church recognize as the role given to him at the Council of Chalcedon (451). I do no believe that he intends to hold ecclesiastical jurisdiction over North America forever, he holds it as long as it takes to establish canonicity and order. Diaspora does not mean “not indigenous” in the language of the Council, but refers to those people outside the Roman Empire, or outside the jurisdiction of established local Churches. Just because there is no Roman Empire does not mean that this canon does not apply, it applied for the Russians, it should apply for us. I really think that the EP provides the only reasonable and canonical path toward true American Orthodoxy, but I respect differing opinions and I pray that the love of God and the protection of the angels may keep us bound in the unity of the faith so that we may also, in due time, have true visible unity.

    Unity is the only path to true evangelism… “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” -John 17:20-21

    forgive me

  13. spyrithoula Says:

    The Greeks in America were under the Church of Greece until the bishop of greece (Athenagoras) became bishop of “Constandinople”. How can one bishop take the faithful of another bishop?

  14. Jonathan Deane Says:

    Sorry for the selective cherry-picking on this blog, but I must ask if you guys or any compatriots had any recommendations on reading criticisms of Soloviev’s writings?

    Other than calling him a Gnostic, what else can be said of where most Orthodox think he went wrong?


  15. MG Says:


    I have only delved briefly into his writings. But it is clear that he assumes (based on his view of God as absolutely simple) that there must be an absolutely simple head of the ministry. This is one area where he goes wrong, and goes against the teachings of the fifth council. I did not get a chance to look at his patristic arguments about the papacy but I intend to give his stuff a closer read eventually.

    Is there something in particular about Soloviev’s writings that constitutes a significant challenge to the truth of Eastern Orthodoxy?

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