Fr. John Zhuravsky was born into a priestly family in Latvia in 1867, later graduating from the Riga Theological Seminary. As a young man he met St. John of Kronstadt, whose example he sought to emulate during the entire course of his pastoral ministry, not only in prayer and asceticism, but also in his labors to help the poor and imprisoned. Noted for his gift of clairvoyance, he reposed in the Lord in Riga in 1964.
The Saints of God came to know the innermost Mystery hidden in the Name of God; they came to know by experience the saving effect of this Name on the whole person: on the body, the mind, and the heart. They came to know that the greatness of the Name of the Lord Jesus is loftier than any attainment of reasonable creatures, either earthly or heavenly. They came to know that the Name of the Lord Jesus is above all names: It is the source of joy, the source of Divine life. It is Spirit. It grants life, transforms, refines, and deifies.
The Name of the Lord Jesus Christ contains within itself a special, divine strength. The strength of this Name heals the body of ailments and the soul of passions. The demons tremble before the Name of Jesus, tormented by the fear of the greatness of its Divinity; they flee from it. Therefore the Fathers said: flog the foe with the Name of Jesus, for there is no greater weapon in heaven or on earth (St. John of the Ladder). For the sake of the Name of Jesus, invoked by the one who prays, help from God descends upon him and he is granted remission of his sins. For the sake of the Name of the Lord, our sinful prayers are heard; and for the sake of this Name salvation is granted unto us.
The power of the Name of Jesus frees the mind from the wavering and whirling of empty thoughts, while the will is strengthened in the fulfillment of the Lord’s commandments. The power of this Name enlightens the mind and permits God-pleasing thoughts and feelings, which belong to immaculate human nature, to dwell in the soul. There is no room left in it for alien thoughts and feelings (Bishop Ignatius (Brianchaninov), vol. II, p. 282 [in Russian]).
By the Name of the Lord Jesus, revival is bestowed upon the soul and sin is put to death. Christ the Lord Jesus is Life – and His Name is vivifying and full of Life. “His Name is Life Eternal” (St. Symeon of Thessalonica).
It grants life to those who invoke it with faith, making them partakers of Life Eternal. The Name of the Lord Jesus is holy and sanctifying for those who invoke it: it sanctifies the mouth, the tongue, the heart, and the whole body; it even sanctifies the surrounding air.
God hath given Him a Name above every name, the Apostle writes, “That at the Name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9-11).
Letter of Metropolitan Rafael of Moscow (TOC-R) to Metropolitan John of New York (American Metropolia)
Your Beatitude, Dear Vladyka!
It was with great joy that I received your brotherly epistle, filled with genuine concern for the correctness of our True-Orthodox Confession of Faith, the glory of the good name of our holy Church, and the preservation of our brotherly unity. I cordially thank you for your warm words and your prayerful wishes addressed to my humility, in which I see a pledge to strengthen our brotherly ties.
Indeed, throughout the entire history of our Church’s existence, its unity has been subjected to all kinds of trials, and we should be making maximum efforts to preserve it. Following the well-known commandment of the Apostle, I am convinced that this unity should not prevent private disagreement if, of course, they do not affect the very foundations of our faith, which are related to our hope of eternal salvation. In and of itself, theological polemics within the Church are not only possible, but even necessary – inasmuch as the Church, wandering on earth, is constantly faced with new challenges and temptations to which one is not immediately able to formulate a clear and acceptable answer for the whole Church.
In our opinion, the theological question raised in your epistle has already received a general ecclesial response, which is an integral part of the Sacred Tradition of our Church. This response, contained in Divine Revelation, has attained the fullness of its theological elucidation in the teaching of St. Gregory Palamas and other Greek and Russian Fathers, including those of relatively recent times. Please permit me, dear Vladyka, to devote the majority of this, my epistle to you, to a consideration of this question.
So as not to distract from the subject matter, I will not “get personal” and indulge in arguments about the merits and demerits of Bishop Gregory (Lourié); I will only note that you, through ignorance, are likely to have gathered information about him that does not come from the most reliable sources.
I grieve, dear Vladyka, that my position regarding the burning dogmatic question of the names of God has caused you anxiety and fear. What should we do? We cannot recognize name-glorifying as a heresy on the basis alone that it was condemned by the ecclesial authorities of Constantinople and Russia. For, first of all, we are far from having crypto-papist ideas about the inerrancy of ecclesial powers. Second, we are taught from Holy Tradition that God’s truth is only revealed through the agreement of the Holy Fathers. Third, from church history we know of many examples when not just patriarchs or synods, but entire councils of hierarchs from all over the world accepted erring and even heretical decisions, which happened to be opposed only by the voices of the Saints. But the truth in those dramatic moments of church history was with the Saints alone, and not with the actual ecclesial power and the majority of hierarchs.
We would like to be with the majority, but being with the truth is infinitely more important for us. Therefore we encourage you, dear Vladyko, to approach the question of name-glorifying with great care, sobriety, and reasoning. Who stood behind the definitions of the Patriarch of Constantinople and the Russian Synod? What did the name-glorifiers actually teach, and what did their opponents teach? Which of the conflicting teachings is in accordance with the teaching of the Holy Fathers, and which is opposed to it? How does name-glorifying correspond to the teaching of the great luminary of the Church, St. Gregory Palamas? We will try to the best of our limited abilities to reply briefly to these questions.
By Metropolitan Ephraim of Boston, Bishop Gregory of Brookline and Thomas Deretich (HOCNA)
By the term “Name of God,” Orthodox Christians mean two things: 1) We mean the revealed Truth about God, and, 2) in another sense, we mean also the human, created words by which this revealed Truth is articulated. The eternal, revealed Truth about God exists and will always exist, whether we articulate it in our human language or not. This is what our Saviour intimates to us when in the Gospel of St. John, He tells the Jews:
"But now you seek to kill Me, a Man that has told you the Truth, which I have heard from God." (John 8:40)
No one in his right mind would assert that the Truth which God the Son heard from God the Father was communicated in human words! The communication in the Holy Trinity is entirely ineffable. Yet it is this very Truth, the uncreated and ineffable Truth of God, that our Saviour, when He became man for us, revealed to us in human speech. This is also the very same divine Truth with which the Holy Spirit enlightened the Apostles on the day of Pentecost, in accordance with the promise of our Saviour:
"When He, the Spirit of Truth, is come, He will guide you into all Truth: for He shall not speak of Himself; but whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak." (John 16:13)
Again, the Truth that the Holy Spirit shall speak and guide Christ’s disciples in, is an ineffable and divine Truth, which He received from the Son. Yet this is the same Truth that the Spirit showed to the Apostles and which they preached with human words in all the known world!
These examples illustrate clearly the two aspects of God’s revelation and the distinction that lies between them: the uncreated and eternal Truth of God’s revelation, and created, human concepts and words with which this revelation is articulated in order to become accessible to the human mind. And this is the very same distinction that exists between the uncreated Name of God, that is, the eternal Truth about God, and the created names of God, that is, human words and concepts, which the Church has taught us to use in order to articulate the eternal Truth about God.
It is exclusively in the former sense, that is, in the sense of the uncreated Truth about God, that we say that the Name of God is an Energy of God, because every revelation of God about Himself, every Truth about God, is His Energy. In the latter sense, that is, in terms of human speech, the names of God are both created and temporal, being part of this world, and they are certainly not an Energy of God.
Sermon of Bishop Gregory of Brookline (HOCNA) on the Feast of the Circumcision, 2014,
delivered at Holy Nativity Convent, Boston.
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
We have come, dear sisters in Christ, to the eighth day after the Nativity according to the flesh of our Lord and God and Saviour Jesus Christ, and on this eighth day the Saviour Who became man fulfills the covenant that He gave to His servant Abraham, one of four covenants that He gave to human beings.
The first covenant was that given to Noah, the covenant that was confirmed by the rainbow, saying that there would not be a deluge anymore to punish the iniquities of human beings. And our Saviour fulfilled this covenant because not only was there not a deluge, but water itself was transformed from a means of destruction to the means of salvation through Holy Baptism.
The second covenant He gave to His servant, the father of all the faithful, Abraham. The third covenant was given on Mt. Sinai—the law which was proclaimed by Moses.
And the fourth and final covenant was revealed by our Saviour Himself when He became incarnate of the Virgin Mary. And thus were fulfilled the words of the Prophet Jeremias who said that there will be given another law and another circumcision—not the law written on tablets of stone, but a law written in the hearts of men and circumcision not of the foreskin, but circumcision of the heart. This our Saviour fulfilled by His Incarnation, when He gave us a new law, new life, new commandments—the final covenant.
But today our Saviour is Himself submitting to the covenant that He gave to Patriarch Abraham, being circumcised and named that wonderful and blessed name—Jesus.
When Abraham believed in God and fulfilled everything that God had bidden him, our Saviour gave him the covenant saying that “you shall circumcise the foreskin of all your progeny, and in your seed all nations shall be blessed.” And He changed his name from Abram to Abraham. And truly, in his seed, as Paul the Apostle tells us, in his seed (he uses the singular form of the word in Greek ), that is, in our Saviour, all the nations are blessed.
A great thing is revealed today. If we read carefully the homily written by St. Dimitry of Rostov concerning this feast, we shall understand the depth of the wisdom of God. Our Saviour was circumcised, fulfilling the law, but also on this feast He reveals to us a great treasure—the great treasure of that Name by which He will be called from here unto eternity. By all the Angels and men, unto eternity, unto the ages of ages, God the Son will be known as Jesus, the sweetest of names, close to the heart of everyone that believes.
And St. Dimitry of Rostov most beautifully explains that until now, until this Name was revealed, it was [kept as myrrh] in a jar. But on this day of Circumcision the jar was opened, and the Name was spread abroad. And in this was fulfilled that which was written in the Song of Songs by the Prophet and King Solomon; for this whole Song of Songs is a dialogue between the bridegroom and the bride. And the Fathers say that the dialogue is really between Christ, the Bridegroom, and His beloved, the Church. And the Church, the bride, tells our Saviour, “Thy Name is as myrrh spread and poured forth. Therefore the virgins love Thee.” Truly His Name is as myrrh, as fragrant myrrh spread abroad in the whole world, and this begins today.
“When the Archangel Gabriel descended from heaven and appeared to the most pure Virgin Mary, he made known that her Son would be called thus; whereupon, she consented to the tidings and cried, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word” (Luke 1). And immediately, the Word of God assumed flesh and took up His dwelling in her immaculate, most sacred womb. At His circumcision, the Name disclosed by the herald before the Virgin conceived was formally given to Christ the Lord to announce the coming of our salvation. Jesus means salvation, as the same angel explained to Joseph in a dream, saying, Thou shalt call His Name Jesus, for He shall save His people from their sins (Matt. 1). Similarly, the Apostle Peter declared, There is none other Name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved (Acts 4). The saving Name of Jesus was reserved by the pre-eternal counsel of the Holy Trinity for our salvation, and on this day the righteous Joseph brings it forth like a priceless pearl from heaven's treasury, so that it may be used to redeem the whole human race. In it are revealed the hidden and secret things of God's wisdom (Ps. 50). It shines on the world like the sun, as the prophet tells us: “To you that fear My Name shall the Sun of Righteousness arise.” It fills creation with the fragrance of myrrh, as it is written: “Thy Name is ointment poured forth” (Song of Sol. 1). It is poured out and no longer hidden. So long as myrrh is kept enclosed in a jar, its aroma is trapped, but when the seal is broken fragrance fills the air. Similarly, while Jesus' Name remained spoken only in pre-eternal counsels, its power remains unknown, sealed as it were, in a jar. When the infant's blood was spilled during circumcision, however, it descended from heaven to earth like the sweet-smelling myrrh of grace. Now every tongue confesses that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Phil. 2).
The power of Jesus' wondrous Name has been revealed, causing angels to marvel, mankind to rejoice, and demons to tremble; for the devils also believe, and tremble (James 22). Hades is shaken by this Name; the foundations of the abyss are undermined; the prince of darkness flees; idols are toppled; the gloom of idolatry is dispelled; and the light of piety is shed abroad, illumining every man that cometh into the world (John 21). Every knee of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth (Phil. 22) bows at the sound of Jesus' most glorious Name. It is become our powerful weapon against adversaries; therefore, Saint John of the Ladder counsels, "Flog the adversaries incessantly with the Name of Jesus; there is no weapon more powerful in heaven or on earth" (The Ladder of Divine Ascent, 15). How sweet is this precious Name to those that seek and love Jesus Christ! Jesus is their sole desire, their only delight. How beloved is this all-holy Name to Jesus' servants and prisoners, captives of His love! Jesus is in their thoughts, Jesus is upon their lips. With the heart they believe in Jesus unto righteousness; with the mouth they confess Jesus unto salvation (Rom. 10). Whether they are sitting or walking - whatever they may be doing - Jesus is before their eyes. I determined not to know anything among, you, save Jesus, (I Cor. 2) says the Apostle. For the man who cleaves to His Name, Jesus is the mind's enlightenment, the soul's adornment, strength of body, happiness of soul, a helper in afflictions, joy amid sorrows, the healing of illnesses, consolation in misfortunes, hope of salvation, and a welcome recompense.
In days of old, relates Jerome, God's Name was inscribed on a golden plate worn on the High Priest's forehead; now the divine Name of Jesus is marked in letters of blood spilled at the circumcision. It is written not on gold plaques, but on the hearts and lips of the Saviour's servants. Thus Christ testified regarding the Apostle Paul, He is a chosen vessel unto Me, to bear My Name. (Acts 9) Sweetest Jesus wishes His Name to be held like sweet food in a vessel, for verily, He is sweet to all who partake of Him lovingly. It says of Him in the Psalms, O taste and see that the Lord is good (Ps. 33). Having tasted His sweetness, the prophet cried, I will love thee, O Lord, my strength, (Ps. 17) and the Holy Apostle Peter exclaimed, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed Thee, (Matt. 19) to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life (John 6). Having tasted His sweetness, the holy martyrs feared neither bitter torments nor bitterest death, but shouted, "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or sword, (Rom. 8) or death, or life? For love is strong as death? (Song of Sol. 8)
What material was used for the receptacle which holds the ineffable sweetness of Jesus' Name? Certainly gold, tried in the furnace of afflictions and sorrows. The vessel is adorned with precious stones, the wounds Jesus adorned on our behalf, and proclaims as it were with human voice, I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus. (Gal. 6) The sacred Name of Jesus requires a suitable receptacle, such as is worthy to hold the sweetness, the most precious contents. Not by chance does Jesus bleed on the day He is Named. He wishes the container holding His Name to be dyed crimson. No sooner had He claimed the Apostle Paul as His chosen vessel, than He declared, I will show him how great things he must suffer for My Name’s sake. (Acts 9) “Behold My bloody, wounded vessel!” proclaims the Lord regarding His sufferer, who resists unto blood, striving against sin. (Heb. 12) On his flesh the Name of Jesus is painfully engraved in blood-red letters.
We lovingly praise and fervently revere Thy sweetest and most holy Name, O most sweet, All-compassionate Jesus! We fall prostrate before the blood that dripped at Thy circumcision, O Thou Who art at once a blameless child and the perfect Lord. For the sake of Thine exalted Name, of Thy most precious Blood, and of Thine immaculate Mother, who bore Thee without corruption, do Thou shed upon us Thy rich mercy. Sweeten our hearts with Thy presence, O Jesus. Keep and preserve Thy servants, and receive us into Thy Kingdom, that with angels we may hymn and glorify Thy most honorable and majestic Name forever. Amen.”
The Great Collection of the Lives of Saints, Vol. 5, Chrysostom Press, 2002.
“Holy and fearful is His Name” (Ps. 110:9), that is, it is worthy of wonder and awe... And in what way is His Name holy and fearful? Demons are in fear of it and illnesses flee from it. With this Name the Apostles conquered the whole universe; David was victorious over the alien using it instead of a weapon; by means of it are done many mighty deeds; by means of it we perform the Mysteries. Considering, therefore, how many wonders His Name achieves, how many benefits, how it confounds His opponents, how it gives security to Hos own, and pondering the things that surpass natural logic and defy human reason, he says "holy and fearful is His Name." And if it is holy, it requires holy mouths for singing praise, holy and pure.
At the beginning of the Lord’s Prayer we call upon God our Father Who is in the Heavens, since He is holy by nature, as we discussed last Sunday. Now we come to the first request: to ask that His name be hallowed. We say: “hallowed be Thy name.”
The name of God is the energy of God. It is known from our Orthodox theology that God has essence and energy. Even created things have essence and energy; the sun, for example, is a heavenly body and emits its light, and its fire is something that burns and emits energy, that is, heat and light. But God, since He is uncreated, is both uncreated essence and uncreated energy; with regard to His essence, God is without name and beyond names, but with regard to His energies, He has many names.
Whenever God revealed Himself to men, He revealed one of His energies, like love, peace, righteousness, or love for mankind. In this way He has communion with men. For this reason also I say that the names of God are His energies. Whenever, indeed, anyone mentions the name of God with compunction, humility, repentance, faith, etc., he receives knowledge and experience of the energy of God.
When we pray “hallowed be Thy name,” this does not mean that the name of God is not holy, or that we need to pray that it be made holy.
Rather, this request has two meanings. The first meaning of “hallowed be [Thy name]” is that His name should “be glorified” and that we should glorify it by our own lives. For we blaspheme the name of God in our own lives when we do not respond to our noble calling; and we glorify the name of God when we observe the will of God and live according to His commandments.
The second meaning of the request “hallowed be Thy name” is not unrelated to or independent of the previous one. It is “make us holy,” so that God may be glorified through our hallowed lives.
This petition shows what the purpose of man is and for what reason he lives. Man’s purpose is to be united with God and to become holy according to the grace and energy of God. God is holy by nature and people are [called] to become holy by grace. In the language of the Fathers of the Church, this is called deification and those who are made holy by their participation in the grace of God are called deified. For one to become holy, to be deified, means that all one’s spiritual and bodily faculties are transfigured, that God is the center of one’s life.
Unfortunately many Christians who pray this prayer, do not have such lofty goals, but limit their Christian life and conduct to good behavior, to some customs and observances and some religious traditions; they pray for earthly things. But this is by no means enough. Many times in the Bible we find the exhortation: “Be ye holy, for I am holy” (I Peter 1:16). There are people who try to justify themselves by saying: “This life of holiness is not for me,“ “I want to experience the joys of this life, and I do not want to be deprived of what earthly life offers me,” “I’m not a saint because I get angry,” etc.
Because our lives are not consistent with this petition [in the Lord’s prayer] and we do not strive to live according to the will of God, our conduct is anti-Christian. We are full of vices and passions, hatreds and animosities, and we commit injustices and slanders. And that is why other people see us and do not believe in God; hence we cause the name of God to be blasphemed among the nations.
Usually, when we pray to God we ask Him to give us health, prosperity, material goods, etc. And it is fitting that we do this. But above all we must pray to God to make us holy. But we must know that this does not happen independent of our will. So it is necessary for us, along with our prayer, to also offer our free will, and thereby glorify the name of God in the world.
Hierotheos (Vlachos), Metropolitan of Naupaktos and Hagios Vlasios,
“Hollowed Be Thy Name” (written sermon, Sunday, July 10, 2005),
translated from the Greek original in Ekklēsiastikē Paremvasē, June 2005, http://www.parembasis.gr/2005/05_06_13.htm
“In truth, just as churches receive the name of their holy patron saints, so also images of those saints have their names written on them, for it is what is written on them [the name] that makes them holy.”
(Discours contre les iconoclastes, Nicéphore de Constantinople, Marie-José Mondzain-Baudinet, trad., Paris, Éditions Klincksieck, III, 54, 1989, pp. 259-260.)
"Let us glorify the Unoriginate Father and His Only-begotten Son, Christ our God, and the All-pure, All-good, Life-creating Spirit. For this is how the faithful glorify the All-holy Name of God and with that Divine Power we are delivered from the visible and invisible enemies in this age and in the age to come."
First Epistle of St. Peter, Metropolitan of Kiev
Lives of the Russian Saints, Optina 1993, p. 568
Truly blessed is the man whose mind and heart are as closely attached to the Jesus Prayer and to the ceaseless invocation of His Name as air to the body or flame to the wax.The sun rising over the earth creates daylight; and the venerable and holy Name of the Lord Jesus, shining continually in the mind, gives birth to countless intellections radiant as the sun.
St. Hesychius the Presbyter,
On Watchfulness and Holiness, 196. (The Philokalia, Vol. I, trans. Palmer, et al)
Since the Chrism is the power of the Altar, it was necessary that the matter subject to it should be appropriate. Thus, I think, it would be more efficacious, just as also fire and light act through fitting bodies. For, since the very Name of our Saviour, which, when invoked, could do all things, did not manifest its power in the same way in the mouths of all men, so the consecrator, as he seeks whatever body might be fitting to subject to the Chrism, has found nothing more suitable than the bones of Martyrs.
St. Nicholas Cabasilas, On Life in Christ, Book 5. (St. Vladimir Seminary Press, 1997)
“The Name of God is the content and characteristic of every text of prayer. This means that the grace-filled power of the prayer lies in the Name of God. God abides and is revealed in His Name. By calling upon the Name of God, the one praying encounters and is united with God in His Name. Calling upon the saints by means of their names and commemorating the living and the departed also have the same meaning. The name is bound up with the person of him who bears it. By calling upon the name, we come into contact with the person of him who is being named”
Presbyter Pavel Adelgeim, The Dogma of the Church in Canons and Practise, Chapter 2.
"The great weight of the stony slab and the burning of fiery flame by God’s care and forethought, and Angel swiftly changed, making the one as a weightless leaf, the other, as dewy breeze, like that which that Fourth One brought, Whom the Children beheld of old; with them thou didst cry: All-compassionate Lord, great is Thy mercy; hence, in gladness do I worship Thy holy Name, which is praised of all.”
Vespers for Feast of the Holy Righteous Martyr Paraskeve, July 26.
(Trans. Holy Transfiguration Monastery, Boston, MA)
"From my numerous talks with them [i.e. leaders of the Athonite Fathers living in exile in Moscow: Abbot David of St. Andrews Skete, monks Iriney, Peter and Manasses of St. Panteleimon’s Monastery] and having been acquainted with them for over five months, I was fully convinced in their Orthodoxy,and I have not noticed anything heretical in their reasoning. With your blessing, I even sent monk Iriney to Your Holiness [i.e. to Patriarch Tikhon] for a personal interview, and as you told me, neither did Your Holiness find anything heretical in him."
The Athonite debate over the Name of God and its consequent fate
Hegumen Andronik (Trubachev)
Pravoslavnaya Beseda, #4 (2000) 39.
"Brethren, the reason I composed these prayers dedicated to our Lord Jesus Christ was none other than to motivate you to continuously meditate upon and repeat the salvific, most sweet, and joy-producing Name of our Lord Jesus Christ, the bringer of all good things. You should not simply repeat it with your mouth, but also with your heart and your mind, for this continual repetition of the saving Name of Jesus — in addition to the other heavenly, supernatural, and inexpressible spiritual gifts which it will grant to you, as St. Callistos Xanthopoulos, St. Gregory of Sinai, and St. Symeon the New Theologian all speak about in the book called the Philokalia — will also raise you to the highest virtue, that of divine love, and it will fashion your heart into a temple and a dwelling place of that Holy Name, both in this life and after death."
St. Nikodemos of the Holy Mountain Prayers to our Lord Jesus Christ
“But ye have been washed, but ye have been sanctified, but ye have been justified in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Spirit of our God."(1 Cor. 6:11) He [the Apostle] shows in the clearest manner through what things it is that man goes to destruction, if he has continued to live after the flesh; and then, on the other hand, [he points out] through what things he is saved. Now he says that the things which save are the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the Spirit of our God.
Let us remember that at God’s Judgement, we will be required to give account for every idle word. So the more fearful is to give account for the words spoken against the fundamental dogma of the Christian Faith. The teaching concerning the Divine Power of the Name of Jesus, is a fundamental dogma [of our Faith] and is numbered among its holy dogmas. Disdainful, blasphemous opinions against the Prayer of Jesus have all the symptoms of a heretical thinking.
On Prayer of Jesus, Conversation of an Elder with his Disciple, Ascetical Experiences, Vol. II
(Russian ed. Jordanville, 1985)
The Divine Name controversy involved deeply complex theological issues that have as of yet not been fully resolved in conciliar manner by the Orthodox Church. It has been the subject of a small but expanding library of books and articles written by theologians, historians, and churchmen in a variety of languages and from a variety of perspectives. It is a topic about which reasonable people can disagree, inasmuch as the Church has not yet definitely resolved the issue.
What is unacceptable, however, is for people with no knowledge of either the theological complexities involved or the language in which the controversy was conducted, and with no familiarity with either the historical context or the primary sources, unilaterally to declare it a “condemned heresy” and “superstition” (in Bishop Photios' words) purely for reasons of jurisdictional rivalry (hence Bishop Photios' reference to “the parasynagogues of the deposed or un-ordained [sic]” and Fr. Panagiotis' explicit reference to Bishop Gregory of Petrograd and Gdonsk). This is all the more the case when such people display their ignorance by making a series of egregious factual mistakes.
The following is a list of factual errors made by Bishop Photios of Marathon and Fr. Panagiotis Carras with a brief response to each.
1. The “heresy” of name-glorifying was neither “lit” (Bishop Photios) nor “begun” (Fr. Panagiotis) by Schema-monk Ilarion, author of In the Mountains of the Caucasus. This book was originally blessed for publication in 1907, republished in 1910 with funds provided by the New Martyr Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna; and printed a third time in an enormous print run by the Kiev-Caves in 1912. All were printed with full ecclesiastical sanction. Nowhere, contrary to what Fr. Panagiotes writes, does Fr. Ilarion make the explicit claim that the “name of God is God Himself.”
2. Fr. Panagiotes writes concerning the name-glorifiers: “Many of them argued that, since according to the ancient Greek philosopher, Plato, the name of an object exists before the object itself does, so the name of God must pre-exist before the world was created, and that it (the Name) cannot be anything but God Himself. Among other things, this was thought to mean that knowledge of the secret name of God alone allows one to perform miracles. A similar concept exists in Jewish Kabbalah and in Buddhism.” This is false from beginning to end. Who are the “many” that argued such evident nonsense? Can Fr. Panagiotis name a single name-glorifier who cited Plato? Where is the evidence that the name-glorifiers taught that God had a “secret name”? What is Fr. Panagiotis source for this information? Has he read any of the works of Fr. Anthony (Bulatovich)? In fact, the answer is quite clear: he copied and pasted this nonsense and slander verbatim from Wikipedia, hardly a reliable source for theological discussion.1