The Truth About the Separation of Church and State

As a long time classical liberal and a devotee of all things Jeffersonian (well, most things anyway), I have now come to the regrettable conclusion that there can be no realistic separation of Church and State. To believe otherwise is to be deluded.

Permit me to explain: I am still in the process of writing the third part of my treatise on Christian governance and if all goes well, I hope to have it out with the New Year. Having said that, I can tease out this much: A properly-governed State would protect the legitimate Church (i.e. not cults like the JW’s or the Unitarians) and the Church would provide the proper ideology for the State. Believe it or not, this was more or less the view of our Founding Fathers. Yes, some were Deists, yet all saw the need for “religion” (i.e. Christianity) in politics; all of them saw the need for public virtue and even the non-Trinitarians among them believed that only a religious and moral people could sustain a Republic. This includes Benjamin Franklin by the way (a notorious player if you catch my drift). We should never forget that Deists at least believe in God. That’s good enough for me as far as I’m concerned.

Oh, to live in such a land again and to be governed by such serious men.

In any event, the more I study, the more I research, the more I realize that such a regime cannot last forever. You see, once a nation reaches a certain stage, the Ruling Classes become cynical. This includes most everybody in said Ruling Class –even religious leaders. It’s more or less a game but it’s always about power. In order to maximize such power, the State uses the Church, and the Church, unfortunately, willingly accepts this arrangement, all the while preaching to its congregants that it is independent of the machinery of government. They still maintain the fiction of separation all the while being in bed with the political classes and reaping the benefits which it bestows.

To the extent that they do believe it, they are deluded. I’m putting my money on the fact that they don’t believe it. For proof of this assertion, please take the time to read this very fine essay by Matthew Namee (hyperlinked below.) 

Like many Orthodox historians, Mr Namee has long suspected that the late Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras (Spirou), who was at one time the primate of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North and South America, was a willing asset of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), which was the predecessor of the CIA. In 1948, Truman placed Spirou on the presidential plane and directed him to Istanbul where he forced the Turks to install him on the patriarchal throne. Clearly, such high-stakes brinkmanship implies more than a casual interest in Orthodox affairs. Namee went to the trouble of filing Freedom of Information Acts (FOIAs) from the CIA in order to find out how deep the late patriarch’s involvement was.

Shockingly, it was very deep. To be sure, it was always an open secret that Spirou worked hand-in-glove with American interests. To his credit, Spirou was a proud American citizen and devoted friend of President Harry S Truman. He even wanted to join the United States Army while he was well into middle age. All of this inured to his benefit as far as I’m concerned. But like most of you who know by now (or will soon when you read Namee’s piece below), I am shocked by the degree, enthusiasm, and general abandonment of principle exhibited by Athenagoras in the service of such geopolitical interests. To say that his attitude was slavish towards American foreign policy would be a massive understatement.

While his collaboration was understandable given the exigencies of the Cold War, this indiscriminate lack of discernment should have receded into quasi-oblivion when the Berlin Wall fell. Some things are just too embarrassing, even if they were necessary at the time. To be sure, such high profile contacts between the State Department and the Phanar went into a state of dormancy during the archpastorate of his successor Demetrios, quite possibly because of Demetrios’ lack of English skills and foreign education. Unfortunately, it has gone into hyper-drive since the accession of Bartholomew to the Constantinopolitan throne.

I say “unfortunate” because Bartholomew is very much the opposite of his predecessor. He is a cosmopolitan in every sense of the word: An erudite man of the world; he is fluent in English and a charismatic speaker who cuts an impressive figure on the world’s stage. His gospel of environmentalism is very much in accord with the present globalist narrative. Left to his own devices, he could be a most effective evangelist for Orthodoxy.

What is unfortunate on the other hand is this: For all the criticism that could be leveled against Athenagoras and his obeisance to the American government during that time in question, that nation no longer exists. The America of then and the America of today are totally different animals. You could say they are on two different planets or even dimensions. Kind of like that dimension in which there is an evil Mr Spock who has a goatee. During the time of Truman and up until the Reagan Administration, America was very much a force for good. That was then, this is now. Today we bring instability wherever we go. “Pax Americana” is essentially a joke. And the moral forces which animated our side in the Cold War are completely moribund.

What is my point (besides the obvious one)? There are three: First, it is clear that the State Department is heavily involved in causing the schism that is presently tearing the Orthodox Churches apart. This is simply unforgivable –at least from an Orthodox understanding. Secondly, those Neoliberals and other Ruling Class types who wax eloquently about “religious freedom” are hypocrites and liars. Their project manager in Ukraine –an invalidly ordained charlatan–makes a mockery out of religious freedom in that poor, benighted country. No matter how many bogus awards the Leaderless 100 bestows upon him, there is not enough lipstick in the world to make that sow kissable. And finally, we here in America have absolutely no room to talk when we get all high and mighty about the Russian Orthodox Church and its symphony with the Russian government. To wag our finger at the Russians is the height of arrogance. For those of us Americans who are Orthodox, in doing so, we are acting the part of puppets at best, or knaves and fools at worst.

In Russia at least, Orthodoxy is part of the culture and despite the best efforts of Western business interests one hundred years ago to destroy the Church, it is now resurgent. And yes, it is an authentic, organic resurgence. I for one, see no reason why the Russian people should apologize for this. Especially when it is now clear that the former Greek Orthodox primate allowed his venerable See to become an abject puppet of the American Deep State. Back then, we had an excuse as information was tightly controlled. Today we know better. And given the resurrection of Russia as a Christian polity, there is no reason for us to lend moral support to our warmongering elite.

So, we might as well be honest about it. And in so doing, ask ourselves if there can be a real separation of Church and State. If we can effect one, fine. If not, we have two choices: Either go underground and have nothing to do with the officially recognized Church or try to evangelize America, and create an authentic symphony
between a real Church and a godly State.


  1. The problem with separation of church and state is at some point the state starts moving the boundary of what is considered the state’s interest vis avis that of the church…they do it again and again. And when the church crys foul, the secularists bluster about the seperation of church and state being under threat. But, it wasn’t the church thst moved the bounary. Until there is a clear and equitablely designated deliniation of where that bounardy falls, and what means of redress agrieved parties have against the other. The church should abandon the fantasy of separation, because all it means from the state’s perspective is what’s minecis mine and whats yours is negotiable. 
    At a minimum the church should have the power of sanction. No high government leader can serve absent the blessing of the church. No governent can be seen a entirely legitimate without the Churchs blessing…but on the other hand, its not like anyone in high places in the church would ever abuse su h power, ig they had it.

    • we are in Thessaloniki. Beautiful city. Went to St Dmitri yesterday  to  venerate Saint 
      When back in Bulgaria i will put down my impressions and conversations re it all. 

    • George Michalopulos says

      Seraphim, very well said.  As a liberal/quasi-libertarian, I am perfectly willing to go into the catacombs and practice a quietist Christianity.  I think we all should.  BUT, that means that the State would have no claim on Christian concepts of charity and philanthropy.
      That means that whenever modern Leftists scream and yell about “what about the children?” we can respond thusly:  “Yes, what about the children?  Can we start with not killing them in the womb?”

      The catacomb paradigm is an indictment against liberal Christians as well:  Are you prepared to take the Gospel out of the public square?  Because you can’t have it both ways.  As for the nominal, laodicaean type of Christians, you should not be able to deduct your tithes from your taxes.   That way if you want to go to church you have to make a decision and that is that you give whatever monies you give without recourse to a kickback on April 15th?

      I ask this of all liberal Christian leaders –Protestant, Catholic, Orthodox–are you sure you want to not align yourself with the State?  Then get out of the State.   I remember reading here several years ago that a certain Orthodox priest in Illinois refused to do weddings anymore (or to sign the marriage licenses, I forget which).   His rational was this:  Now that Illinois legalized gay marriage (this was before Obergefell), Christian marriages were equivalent to gay marriages and thus null and void. 

      I rather agree with him.  Anyway, the idea of liberal churchmen acting high and mighty for leftist causes will wither away in two seconds flat once the tax exemption goes away and have to go worship in houses or caves when they can’t pay the property taxes on their edifices.
      (Something tells me that this particular proposition is going to go over like a lead balloon.)  

  2. Michael Bauman says

    Separation only makes sense if God is not Incarnate.

    • Michael Bauman: “Separation only makes sense if God is not Incarnate.”
      I am not sure if this is correct. It was Our Lord who separated the realm of Caesar from God’s Kingdom. Earlier, the rulers were deified and worshiped, and in our times they seem to wish to regain their position.

      • Michael Bauman says

        Martin, if, as we believe we are a part of the living body of our God fully man and fully God without separation or confusion then everything we do brings that to it. No possibility of separation.

        • Michael Bauman: ” No possibility of separation.”
          This is the view of the Pharisees and of Muslims and some radical secular ideologies. Christians are the guests in this world and subjects to otherworldly Kingdom. They do not fit exactly.
          The hybrid era of Constantine and Theodosius is coming to an end.

      • Martin,
        As doubtless you know, His oft quoted statement,  “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s,” came after their response to His question, “Whose image and inscription is this?
        Those who understand Christ’s words as a wise avoidance of the entrapment they had intended by their question (“Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar?”) or merely as a statement about the morality of paying taxes to godless governments may not be altogether mistaken, but they miss the impact of what is implied in His reply.
        The Israelites to whom He was speaking bore not only God’s image in their very selves as human beings in general, but also His inscription (as it were) as the people of God, called by His Name – as do we.
        Nothing can be separated or compartmentalized.  All belong to God as bearers of His image whether we choose to submit/’render’/offer ourselves to Him or not.  And while I do not think ‘symphonia’ as commonly understood can ever be sustained for long in this world, it remains the model for us in a teleological sense.  Each of us (earthly rulers included) is called in every aspect of life to the realization of the glory of His image and inscription that we bear. 
        I do not, however, think there is any hope that the ‘symphonia’ model of Church and state can possibly ‘work’ in this corrupted world full of corruptible men.  That will only come about when the Kingdom of the only One who is worthy (capable, incorruptible), being in His Person the only true ‘symphonia’ of King and Priest, is realized in its fullness and we ourselves are raised incorruptible.

        • Monk James Silver says

          There’s a mistranslation at work here.  The word ‘render’ really doesn’t work very well in this verse.
          The source word here is apodidOmi, which basically means ‘return, give back’.  It’s commonly found in our service books at the conclusion of a festal period, where the last day of a feast is called its apodosis (Church Slavonic otdanie) or ‘return’, when we give it back to Heaven until next year.  For example, the Return of the Lord’s Nativity occurs annually on 31 December.  Calling this a leave-taking’ means something, I suppose, but it’s not a translation of the Greek word.

          In all three synoptic gospels (MT22:21, MK 12:17, LK 29:25) our Lord Jesus Christ is actually quoted as saying ‘Therefore, return to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and to God what belongs to God.’
          Perhaps reading this verse more accurately will cause ‘Brian’ to rethink his exegesis —  or not.

          • Tomato/tomaaato.  Use the word return if you prefer.  I won’t/don’t quibble over words.  

            • Monk James Silver says

              It’s good to know, ‘Brian’, that you ‘won’t/don’t quibble over words’. Neither do I, especially when we’re considering the Gospel itself.

              Cole Porter’s humor notwithstanding, it’s not as simple as variant pronunciations. In the words of Jesus Christ we’re discussing here,it’s not even a matter of synonyms.

              It’s important that we have precise translations of our sacred texts in English, and that’s nothing to quibble over.

              • Brian & Monk James Silver,

                “It’s important that we have precise translations of our sacred texts in English”
                Yes and not to forget
                It’s important that we have precise interpretations  of our sacred texts.
                In this case St.John the GoldenMouthed says:
                2. He stopped not, however, at the rebuke, although it was enough merely to have convictedthem of their purpose, and to have put them to shame for their wickedness; but Hestoppeth not at this, but in another way closes their mouths; for, “Shew me,” saith He, “thetribute money.” And when they had shown it, as He ever doth, by their tongue He bringsout the decision, and causes them to decide, that it is lawful; which was a clear and plainvictory. So that, when He asks, not from ignorance doth He ask, but because it is His willto cause them to be bound by their own answers. For when, on being asked, “Whose is theimage?” they said, “Cæsar’s;” He saith, “Render unto Cæsar the things that are Cæsar’s.”2623For this is not to give but to render, and this He shows both by the image, and by the superscription.Then that they might not say, Thou art subjecting us to men, He added, “And unto Godthe things that are God’s.” For it is possible both to fulfill to men their claims and to giveunto God the things that are due to God from us. Wherefore Paul also saith, “Render untoall their dues; tribute to whom tribute is due, custom to whom custom, fear to whomfear.”2624But thou, when thou hearest, “Render unto Cæsar the things which are Cæsar’s,” knowthat He is speaking only of those things, which are no detriment to godliness; since if it beany such thing as this, such a thing is no longer Cæsar’s tribute, but the devil’s.When they heard these things, their mouths were stopped, and they “marvelled” at Hiswisdom. Ought they not then to have believed, ought they not to have been amazed. Forindeed, He gave them proof of His Godhead, by revealing the secrets of their hearts, andwith gentleness did He silence them.
                (emphasis mine)

          • I think you are mistaken here, Monk James. In all three passages you cite in the synoptic gospels, the question is about whether or not it is lawful to pay taxes to Caesar. In this particular context, ‘render’ is a perfectly proper English word to use as the verb of paying as ‘a tax, rent or tribute’. Here are a few quotes to illustrate the centuries of usage in this precise sense:
            1526   W. Tyndale Prol. Matt. in Wks. (1573) 35/1   The husband-men..would not render to the Lorde of the fruit in due tyme, and therfore [the vineyard] was taken from them.
            1594   W. Shakespeare Titus Andronicus i. i. 160   My tributarie teares, I render for my brethrens obsequies.
            1747   Abridgm. Hist. Eng. I. vii. 156   When aid was collected, if it could rendered by the Tenant to his Lord, it might be paid to the King.
            1874   J. R. Green Short Hist. Eng. People iv. §1. 158   The successors..swore to observe the old fealty and render the old tribute to the English Crown.
            1911   D. M. Barringer & J. S. Adams Law Mines & Mining in U.S. II. iii. 158   A lessee for oil and gas purposes..was bound to render to the lessor one-fourth of the product.
            PS: There is no Chapter 29 in Luke. I think you mean Chapter 20
            PPS: I have made many similar (worse!) mistakes in my time.   🙂

            • Monk James Silver says

              The problem here, ‘Brendan’, is not that ‘render’   isn’t an acceptable word in English, or that it means ‘pay’.  No, the real problem is that ‘render’ doesn’t mean ‘repay’ or ‘give back’, which is the actual meaning if the Greek word apodidOmi, and that’s the meaning we need in order to translate this verse accurately.
              We have to realize that our Lord Jesus Christ is instructing us to return to Caesar what is already his, and to God what is already His. We hold these things only temporarily, on loan, so to speak, and there will not likely ever be a parity between what belongs to God and what belongs to Caesar, since (as Christ tells Caesar’s representative), His ‘kingdom is not of this world’.
              While it’s true that this meaning can be inferred even if the verb is mistranslated into some general concept of ‘give’, it doe not excuse the mistranslation.  Our English-language renderings of the scriptures and the services are full of such mistakes — and some are really dangerous to our faith — so I’m doing what little I cam to clear up the confusion.
              Thanks for catching my typo in the citation from St Luke.  It really is 20:25.   Still, on balance, I’m not doing too badly considering that I’m half blind of glaucoma. I’m grateful that at least you are reading my notes closely.

              • Monk James, (sorry) ‘Monk James’,
                My name is Brendan, not ‘Brendan’.
                That is the name with which I was baptised.
                You have missed the point completely. Meaning is not conveyed by words alone. Meaning is conveyed by the context in which words are used – and context is the chief determinator of meaning; and the context in question was ‘whether or not it is lawful to pay taxes to Caesar.’ Our Lord’s answer, being given in that context, is accurately expressed in English by the use of the verb ‘render’ for the Greek apodidOmi.

                • Monk James Silver says

                  I understood what your wrote, ‘Brendan’, I just don’t agree with the point you were making.

                  OK. Translate ‘render’ into classical/New Testament Greek, and then translate ‘give’ and ‘give back’ into the same sort of Greek, and see what you get. This philological exercise is helpful for translators trying to narrow down possibilities for accuracy in meaning in order to produce better renderings in receptor languages.

                  Context helps us only if we understand the words being used in that context, and merely not run a tape in our minds re-using words which we’re used to hearing in earlier translations.

                  Consider how deeply — if uncritically — invested we are in some versions of ‘Our Father’. When the RC service books were first published in English beginning in the 1960s and continuing until now, they use contemporary idioms, but the editors were forced by popular (yet ignorant) pressure not only to leave ‘Our Father’ in archaic English, but to preserve uncorrected mistakes which were lodged in cultural memory.

                  There’s really nothing in there about ‘trespasses’ or ‘daily bread’, just to name a couple of the errors we’ve inherited, but sometimes inertia is stronger than the truth. No one seems to care much about representing Our Lord’s words clearly with His intended meanings intact, at least as best as we can discern them. They just want to be left unbothered in their ‘comfort zone’, the facts be damned.

                  For reasons which I won’t go into just now, , this problem exists mostly in English sand in translations made from English rather than directly from St Matthew’s gospel. Such errors as I note here aren’t found, for instance, in the Church Slavonic translation of ‘Our Father’.

                  BTW: I’ve more than once explained why I put quotation marks around incomplete or obviously fictive identifiers here. Writing with your full name wouldn’t cause me to use those quotation marks.

                  • If you consult the Oxford English Dictionary, ‘Monk’ James, I think you will find that the verb “render’ came into English from the Anglo-Norman/Middle French ‘rendir’. It is essentially the same as the Modern French ‘rendre’. It means ‘give up’, ‘give back’ etc. On your side of the pond, Merriam-Webster supports this point.

  3. Gail Sheppard says

    So on Ortho Christianity, they reported “Metropolitan” Mikhail Zinkevich of Lutsk and Volyn of the schismatic ‘Orthodox Church of Ukraine’ has expressed his support for a group of Lutsk activists who asked a blessing to celebrate the Nativity of Christ according to the New Calendar on December 25 in order to differentiate themselves from Russia.” Let that sink in for a moment. 

    • The New Calendar has always been a tool to seperate eastern Christianity from its roots and reorient it towards the western hegemony. The 1920 encyclical said for all Christian’s to celebrate the feasts on the same day. Yet Alexandria changed the calendar forcing the natives of Alexandria; the Greeks and the Copts to celebrate feasts on two seperate days. Antioch followed dividing the Arabs of the Levant into celebrating two seperate feast days as if Jordanians and Lebanese Orthodox care about England.. It’s amazing how the entire Ukraine schism perpetrated by the Phanar is all about racism. The argument for this entire autocephaly is based on the Phanar having jurisdictional and racial supremacy over the “barbarians” with both the Phanar and the CoG sticking together as the Greek bishop put it: the Phanarites are “of our race”. Now the Ukrocephalites want to use the new calendar as a weapon of phyletism to distance themselves from the Russians. While we all know the rotten fruits the new calendar has wrought who would have thought phyletism is the main curse of this calendar. Both within intraOrthodoxy relations but also to distance ourselves away from Egyptian and arab natives and reorient ourselves towards the white man of western Europe. 

    • George Michalopulos says

      We can’t be like those wascally Wussians, can we? God forbid that the Ukro-schismatics should celebrate by the traditional calendar. What next? How about sponsoring gay pride parades in Kiev? Then Drag Queen Reading Hour in nursery schools.

      Things are so much more elevated in the West, don’t you agree?

      • Michael Bauman says

        George, sure. Like an elevator car in a really tall building that started at the top then the cables were cut. Its a great ride down, its the stop that is the problem.

  4. GCU Poke It With A Stick says

    Do you want Calvinists burning your icons? That’s how you get Calvinists burning your icons.
    It is charmingly naive to think that demolishing the separation of church and state and redefining the First Amendment to confine it to a particular subset of Christianity (which is not going to be defined by the Orthodox) is going to end well for anyone.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Dude, I don’t know if you noticed, but the Calvinists have done everything but burn down icons.  Icons are the least of it. They’ve de-Christianized our culture in so many ways it would take a multi-volume treatise to document it.  

      Let’s count some of the ways:  No prayer in public schools, no pledge of allegiance either.  14 yr old girls can be taken to the local abortuary to kill her fetus (without telling her parents, because you know, reasons).   Juries rule in favor of mothers castrating their sons; Christian bakers have to bake cakes for gay nuptials and so on.

      And now, because they’ve adopted the doctrine of Muh Democracy, they are gearing up for war against Russia (which they’ll fight to the last Ukrainian).  And let’s not forget how they bend the knee at Pope Hagee who tells us that we must nuke Iran.  (Can’t blame him, after all he’s just invoking the ghost of St McCain on that one.)  And placing a mitre on the head of a lay charlatan and then giving him the right to confiscate churches and monasteries all in the name of “freedom of religion” is a real knee-slapper.  

      Oh sure, they’re not theists as such but they definitely are Calvinists.    

      All I ask is that we just be consistent.   Let’s just go ahead and create an Americanist religion which is jihadist in its core and tell Midwestern and Southern farm-boys that if they die while fighting Putin that they’ll go to heaven and have 72 virgins waiting for them.  

      Then we’ll have another president like W call this religion a “religion of peace”.

      • Monk James Silver says

        If we think about all these issues critically, we might be surprised that the heresy of dualism permeates all of them.

        Each of these movements, in its own way, asserts an objectified existential ‘evil’ which is opposed to an objectified existential ‘good’, but what is ‘good’ and what is ‘evil’ are defined differently by each group, and differently within each group in various times and circumstances.

        Only in classical Christianity, best exemplified by Orthodox Christianity, do we ever find n unchanging sense of what s truly good, and a conviction that evil has no substance of its own — it functions merely as a parody or perversion of what is good.

        But, weak vessels as we are, we must constantly guard this treasure lest we lose it.

        But ithout Orthodox Christianity, individuals and nations, religious movements and cultures wobble and weave their way through history, never coming to rest in the ultimate Goodness and Truth, which is God Himself, revealed in Jesus Christ.

        • Michael Bauman says

          Monk James, spot on. Dualism is the key and, if I might add: iconoclasm which is an integral part of it. The particular flavor of Protestant theology or what it is called is irrelevant. There are very few actual Calvinists any more but they left behind a detritus of orks just the same as George describes that are no longer even religious for the most part.

          • Tim R. Mortiss says

            Detritus of orcs?
            Let’s not lose a sense of perspective. Some of these barbs fly very wide of the mark, indeed.

            • Michael Bauman says

              Tim, I am referring to the generally irreligious descendents of the Calvinists who have created the “cancel culture”.  Note I did not say descendants of Calvin for they would destroy him as well. 
              They are the secular culture’s law givers and iconoclasts that sit in judgement of everything, loving nothing.   

              • Tim R. Mortiss says

                I am generally skeptical of these quests after [unprovable] absolute causes. The sort of thing as where deeply religious ‘Calvinists” (whatever their heresies) become the authors, centuries later, of the ‘cancel culture’. Just as Protestantism gave rise, for instance, to the United States and its Constitution, it lies guilty of every fault of the contemporary era.

                So the “filioque”, for example, is the source of every error, from Gothic cathedral architecture, to Prince Henry the Navigator, to the atomic bomb; in short, every manifestation of Western civilization, however seductively appealing it may otherwise seem.

                Do I exaggerate? Hardly. I’ve often heard this sort of thing, and more.

                One might ask: did some defect in Orthodoxy inevitably give rise to subjugation to the Islamic forces of Arabia and Central Asia? Does it account for the seeming nostalgia for authoritarian regimes? Why not…as every shortcoming of the West is attributed to some defect in its Christianity? Does Orthodoxy as the religion of a nation mean that it must ever be economically backward, autocratically inclined, and always bear a chip on its shoulder, so to speak?
                Must Orthodoxy necessarily approach Western Christianity ever with an attitude of defensiveness bordering on an inferiority complex? Must every theological exposition involve an invocation of the errors of the West?

                As one who was a trial lawyer for 44 years, I am immune, pretty much, to ‘straw man’ arguments. But they proliferate in Orthodox v. Western discussions–from the Orthodox side. From the Western ‘side’– nobody knows or cares.

                Variable historical circumstances account for a lot of things that some mistakenly believe to be fundamental.

                • Well, Tim, ideas do have consequences, and bad ideas have bad consequences. When the Holy Fathers dealt with heresy, they were looking primarily at the consequences of that heresy, which may not have manifested at the time they were dealing with it.

                  We believe that cultures and societies are formed by religion and dogma, so it goes without saying that heresies have an impact centuries down the line, even if the people in question (Puritans, in this case) had intended for it or not. So, cancel culture absolutely has its roots in puritanism, although it is a form of puritanism that is the complete inverse of the (sort of) virtuous and (sort of) Christian puritanism of ye olde.

                  Any negative aspects of Orthodox culture do not have their origins in Orthodoxy, which is wholly positive, but in distortions of Orthodoxy. For example, the love of authoritarian regimes (whether this is true or not is up for debate) would be a distortion of the blessed monarchical principle upheld by the Fathers.

                • Michael Bauman says

                  Tim R Mortis, I have studied intellectual history for decades, in some respects my entire life. That is a gift from my mother who taught, as both and educator and dancer, the interconnectedness of all things in human persons, thought, love and beauty. In some respects for her it was a kind of Fibonacci Sequence writ large. In fact she choreographed her dances and created jewelry with the Fibonacci Sequence in mind. The spiral of the Golden Mean was a central focus of her life and work including her personal theory of history. A challenging heritage but one for which I am deeply grateful. Through my own study and experience, I have developed my own approach but it is still based in the understanding that both my parents shared that all life in interconnected within and through a personal divine presence. My father specifically taught that everything we do (or do not do) as human beings effects every other living thing. From my perspective the stories that arise from those interconnections is history.

                  As Basil said, ideas have consequences. In life and in law.

                  Heresy always has personal and societal consequences. To address your points:
                  The subjugation of the Orthodox Church to first under Islam and then Communism can be looked at in a number of ways. 1. The Church was under attack because it failed to give in to the heresies of the west; 2. The Church suffered those attacks because She failed to adhere to the spiritual and moral norms required plus all manner of other possibilities. The Patriarchate of Constantinople has never recovered from the Turkish Yoke (which still persists). They have been under that Yoke since 1453. That is a long time. Unfortunately, that has fundamentally changed the ecclesial thinking of the Patriarchate–pushing it away from the true Orthodox approach. Not surprising as the Turks and now the western powers have put enormous and consistent pressure on whomever the Patriarch is to change. It has worked and, it seems the process has accelerated. The Patriarch of Constantinople has long played the game when under stress of making overtures to Rome and pulling “rank” within the Orthodox world.

                  Personally, I think it is a bit of both and just ordinary power politics including the tax policies and dogma enforcing of the central government in Constantinople which led to Christian folks in the hinterlands of the Empire opening their gates to the Islamic invaders among other things. The revealed truth of the Divine Order was not understood, taught or practice sufficiently in any case. Disaster followed and is still with us.

                  As to the Filioque: It is a really bad idea that completely upsets in theory the internal consistency and Divine Economy of the Holy Trinity. One of the natural consequences of that belief was an over emphasis on the authority of the Bishop of Rome. That is not to dismiss all of the other normal historical factors and jealousies that also came into play. However, that the Filioque Controversy had numerous historical and philosophical consequences cannot be disputed. It is easy to go overboard on those type of things.

                  That aside as the Clark Carlton has oft pointed out, we Orthodox need to stop defining ourselves as “not Catholic” or “not Protestant”. We have quite a lot of positive things to say without reference to the other religious systems.

                  Heresy (a departure from the reveal truth of who God is and the nature of our interrelationship) is quite toxic for both persons, communities and nations and can effect salvation. It always creates division (its primary purpose). The Arian Heresy was so wrong and so divisive that the Church found it necessary to condemn it for explicit reasons.

                  That act also had consequences. Holy Scripture says pretty clearly to allow the tares (planted by an enemy) to grow with the wheat. However the tares of Arianism threatened to overcome the whole field. So action was taken and anathemas uttered.

                  We got into a habit of doing that, sometimes when it may have not been prudent or necessary (the schism with the Oriental Orthodox may be in that category) and as time passed, it became popular for individual believers to hurl anathemas and Rome spilt and continued to split via the Reformation and successive denominations.

                  The key elements of my comment on the cancel culture coming from the heirs of Calvinist thought are quite clear to me, but probably lacking nuance for one raised in a community that originally sprang from
                  Calvin’s work.

                  Basil’s reference to the Puritans is more precise but I am also looking at the Transcendentalists and the entire New England collection of philosophies and belief that rely way too much on rigorous and unbending moral and societal mores that in the end are little more than personal opinion.

                  One good thing that sprung from that culture was an opposition to slavery.

                  A different theology prevailed in the South but it also relied on an incorrect understanding (heresy) of the interrelationship of man and God.

                  Ultimately, the cancel culture is as much a product of the rebellion against God; the arrogation of God’s authority and the arrogation of His authority to oneself (an aspect of all Protestantism) than of one specific variety of Protestant though such as Calvinism.

                  The Evil One inspires heresy because it leads to chaos, disorder and destruction. How a particular heresy effects those things is impossible to know for certain, but it does have effects. It is lazy and wrong to attribute to many specifics to a particular manifestation of heresy because that kind of thinking creates its own chaos, disorder and destruction.

                  • George Michalopulos says

                    As usual, Michael, very well stated. Heresy has real-world consequences.

                    1) the Cypriot Metropolitan of Morphou said something to the effect that the Holy Synod of Cyprus in around 1970 went into a soft schism with each other. As a result, the Grace of the Holy Spirit was withdrawn in in 4 years, the Turks attacked and permanently partitioned the island. This is a recurrence of what transpired in the OT whenever Israel went into heresy/paganism: Because the Grace departed from Israel, the foreign nations invaded.

                    2) the Filioque. By adopting this heresy (to combat Arianism in Spain), there was created a distortion in the Trinity which reduced the Holy Spirit to an adjunct or “energy” that flowed between Father and Son even going so far as to say that they are both originators of the Spirit. This created a vacuum which had to be filled and it was filled by the Papacy.

                    Not only was this dangerous in that it elevated a man to almost God-like status in that the Pope is even above an Ecumenical Council. And of course he cannot err in matters ex cathedra. This has backed the RCC into several corners, all centering around the figure of whoever is the Pope. There is even debate among Tradcats as to whether a Pope can be tried for heresy (they invariably answer “no”).

                    Whereas for us Orthodox, the fullness of the sacerdotam resides in the bishop, for RCs it resides in the Pope.

                    These are among the reasons why a certain mentor of mine who has passed (and was a former RC himself) called the RCs “Papists” in that they were a religion centered around the figure of the Pope. Harsh but not entirely wrong if you think about it.

                    • Tim R. Mortiss says

                      Well, I tried to type a good reply and after a few paragraphs the whole thing vanished. I’ll try later, maybe. This is frustrating, it has happened here before.

                    • George Michalopulos says

                      I’m sorry about that. It’s happened to me as well.

                    • Michael Bauman says

                      George while the fullness rests in the bishop and he receives his authority from Jesus Christ through the laying on of hands, the defects we have seen, particularly in the EP is the lack of genuine community that incarnates the fullness inherent in the office of bishop, but incomplete.

                      As His Grace, Bishop Basil says often, “the faithfulness of the people makes my job easy.”

                      It is a component that is either missed entirely or skewed by the ethnocentric Orthodoxy that still tends to be the norm here. The EP as has often been said, has no people, no flock, no worshipping community to give him support and substance and authenticity.

                      There is no axios. So he is left serving political interests and ideology, not people. The perfect prey for ideological warriors such Solzhenitsyn warned of.

                      Moscow for all her faults has actual people. Antioch is loosing our native base as is Greece herself.

                      That is a problem.

                    • To Tim Mortiss and others, if you plan on writing something of substantial length then I recommend you do it first on whatever word processing application you happen to have. When you are satisfied with what you’ve written, you can then copy and paste it into the “reply” box.

                      “blimbax” (not my real name)

                    • Tim R. Mortiss says

                      My dissertation having vanished, just a few quick points:

                      1.Of course ideas have consequences. On the other hand, not all consequences are the result of ideas.
                      2. Heresies and other religious issues have societal, cultural, and personal ramifications. They do not, however, account for all variations, or all disorders, in those areas.
                      3. Discussions on internet blogs do not call for high standards of proof. Grand assertions and averments, along with sweeping generalizations, are easily made. Claims of wide reading and personal erudition do not substitute for carefully marshalled evidence. I myself have read widely and consider myself educated on many of these matters, but inevitably my understanding falls short and I do not advance this in support of any argument.
                      4. One reason for [3] above is that there are no stakes in such discussions. On the other hand, if A wants hundreds of thousands of dollars from B, he cannot rely upon mere allegations. He must provide evidence, under stringent standards. That is the world in which I practiced my profession. The same applies, to a degree, to academic journals and the like.

                      I’ll add more later– already I am having to retype portions of vanishing text, and I don’t want the whole thing to disappear again…

                    • Tim R. Mortiss,
                      “Well, I tried to type a good reply and after a few paragraphs the whole thing vanished. I’ll try later, maybe. This is frustrating, it has happened here before.”

                      Tim, if you want to be absolutely sure/safe in the future,
                      you better type your reply NOT DIRECTLY HERE
                      but in a save word processor or in MS Word version/adjusted which  saves a copy automatically.
                      Then you cannot lose it (at least not all of it depending on program/adjustments) .
                      When you have finished it, select it, and transfer it here by Copy & Paste. 

              • George Michalopulos says

                “Judging everything, loving nothing”.  
                Wow, that pithy statement puts it all in perspective, doesn’t it?

            • Michael Bauman says

              Tim R, in Tolkien’s work, orcs were created as a simulacrum of elves and men but wholly evil. Fervent adherence to any heresy (as Saruman fell into) distorts all aspects of the human being especially emotionally and spiritually. In severe cases, it can and does distort the very core of our being and make it quite difficult for any real communion with God to occur. I believe the Fathers called it the darkening of the nous. I have seen it happen.

              We are seeing the result of the fervent adherence to the nihilist rebellion against God in our politics, faith, literature and culture. It is ugly, false and death dealing.

              None is immune from the these temptations. The Church is and will remain as the bulwark against such chaos, but she can be hidden and her people, even the bishops can fall into error.

              Actually there are quite a few parallels between Saruman in the Ring Trilogy and Pat. Bartholomew. Embracing the Cross including unto the death of martyrdom if God wills it, is the only antidote.

              That way is clearly laid out by the Church beginning with Jesus words: Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand!

              So the pillars of Orthodox practice are the same for all: Repent/forgive, fast, pray, worship sacramentally with others of like mind under a righteous bishop.

      • GCU Poke It With A Stick says

        You are pretty much demonstrating a lack of understanding of the various factions and interests in American Protestantism. It should go without saying I am clearly referring to a strain of Dominionist Reformed thought which is clearly not in power at present because none of the ‘ills’ you list would be allowed to continue were they in power.
        It’s just that that faction being in power would involve a lot of things you don’t like, even if homosexuality and abortion are outlawed and in fact capital crimes.
        Hagee is not remotely Calvinist. Nor is anybody going to treat him like a pope. Throwing End-Times Prophecy fanatics into the mix willy-nilly is really just underscoring your lack of understanding.

        • George Michalopulos says

          The problem is deeper than Calvinism (which you fear). The Puritans were Calvinists and their execrable, dominionist, authoritarian mindset is still very much in existence today. It’s just that they’ve replaced a spiritual deity with a progressive one.

  5. Michael Bauman says

    Tim R (Edward) I apologize as it seems my rhetorical flourish concerning orcs hurt you. That was not my intent at all. Please forgive me.

    • I’d like to know why someone was offended at a comment about orcs… it seems very trivial.

      • Michael Bauman says

        Because it was offensive

      • George Michalopulos says

        Just as long as you don’t say anything disparaging about Dwarves…

      • Tim R. Mortiss says

        I wasn’t offended or hurt at all; I merely feel that calling the descendants of Calvinists the “detritus of orcs” was a bit strong! Just part of my general view that  a lack of a sense of proportion in criticisms of the West, and Western Christianity, in various contexts, is often on display here.

        One of my ‘hobby horses’, you might say, is reacting to grand statements about causation, conspiracies, related subjects. It’s why I always weigh in when, for instance, Freemasonry rears its head, to use a small example.

        I don’t dispute the general viability of Michael Bowman’s approach to history, as far as methodology is concerned. Nor do I doubt that heresies can have very major consequences. What I do doubt is that they explain all the shortcomings of Western civilization, in particular.

        There is a negativity and a defensiveness that so often shows up in Orthodox discussions about Western Christianity (by no means just here) that I believe does no help to its cause.

        • On a point of grammar: “The detritus of orks” indicates the rubbish that ‘orks’ leave behind; whereas “a detritus of orcs (or orks)” suggests a group of ‘orcs’ for which the collective noun is ‘detritus’.

          • George Michalopulos says

            As in a “parliament of owls” or a “murder of crows”?

          • Monk James Silver says

            I thought that ‘orks’ was just a typo for ‘works’, and that this entire discussion is therefore merely a tempest in a teapot, initiated by a correspondent who assumed that ‘orks’ was a misspelling or ‘orcs’, pace J.R.R. Tolkien.

            • You should do some research.

              “The modern use of the English term orc to denote a race of evil, humanoid creatures has its inception with J. R. R. Tolkien. Tolkien’s earliest Elvish dictionaries include the entry Ork (orq-) “monster”, “ogre”, “demon”, together with orqindi and “ogresse”. Tolkien sometimes used the plural form orqui in his early texts.[1]
              Tolkien sometimes, particularly in The Hobbit, used the word goblin instead of orc to describe the creatures. He notes that “orc” is “usually translated” as “goblin”. In The Lord of the Rings, “goblin” is also used as an alternative to “orc”, particularly in chapters describing events from a hobbit’s perspective. Thus, the Uruk-hai of Isengard and the Mordor orc-captain Grishnakh are described as both “orcs” and “goblins” in The Lord of the Rings. Later in his life, Tolkien expressed an intention to change the spelling to ork,[2] but the only place where that spelling occurred in his lifetime was in the published version of The Adventures of Tom Bombadil, in the poem Bombadil Goes Boating: “I’ll call the orks on you: that’ll send you running!” In The Silmarillion, published posthumously, “orcs” was retained…”

            • Tim R. Mortiss says

              A correspondent…I like that! I carry a small steno notebook and wear a trilby pushed back from my forehead.

              George, can you issue me a credential?

          • Michael Bauman says

            Brendon, my original statement is as I intended. The prevailing secular dualistic moralism creates orc-like people who assemble together and become detritus. Only the person of Jesus Christ, through embracing the Cross allows us to become fully human as, right now, only He is. The big difference is that Tolkien’s orcs could not repent. They were fully creatures of evil and had no Godly image within them.

  6. Michael Bauman says

    Tim R. Mortis,

    The stakes in some of the matters discussed here (although not settled here at all) are higher than any amount of money. Holding to and consciously teaching heresy in opposition to the Church is more than just a hanging offense. It is literally damning without deep repentance. I have seen people actually die because of the effects of such teaching even when done in ignorance. Fortunately, our Judge is righteous and merciful and considers facts not necessarily in evidence in the normal course of life.

    My late wife was deeply injured by such things and never fully recovered I don’t think. Although I do not fear for her salvation the lingering effects emotionally and psychologically made her life and our life together more difficult than it needed to be.

    Fortunately, not everybody is deeply injured. That is always a mercy. What Bartholomew is doing is going to effect him and Elpidophoros more deeply than anyone else. They know better. We should be deep in prayer for the salvation of their souls even as we opposed their innovations. I am weak, I have not yet been able to do that.

    My father of loving memory taught me to think from the general to the specific. It is a mode of thinking that has been quite fruitful for me, but seemingly difficult for others. My training in and reading of history has shown me that a “fact” based bottom up approach is fraught with all types of unintended consequences in just about any endeavor. My favorite history professor in college often said that as a history major, I would could get off any jury if I wanted to be asserting that, as a history specialist, I was better trained in evaluating evidence than any lawyer. I don’t think that is true, but we do tend to treat the nature of evidence quite differently I think.

    My parents taught me that history is not linear, facts are mutable and we can never know all of them in any case. It is the matrix of the selection, prioritizing, ordering and interpreting of facts that is of prime importance. My later training in history also emphasized the essential importance of understanding the larger picture first.

    Theologically, I have two prime sources: the teaching of the Church that I have received from my bishop and my parish priests and other priests I know plus St. Anthanasius “On the Incarnation” Reading that book had an immense impact on my life and thinking. A more recent rendering (sic?) of the same themes is by Fr. Patrick Henry Reardon who comments here from time to time. He has a scholarly approach that places the understanding of the Incarnation squarely in today’s world while elucidating the roots historically and theologically. Excellent work.

    • Michael Bauman says

      As to conspiracy. That same favorite history professor of mine also made a point of saying that from an historical point of view, conspiracies are easy to assume, quite difficult to prove. In fact, there is only one conspiracy–the conspiracy of the evil one and his minions to seduce us from following God and entering into a life of repentance. I find it frustrating at how easy a job he has when it comes to me. I can not even imagine the kinds of temptations, inducements, etc. that are unleashed on bishops and priests. That is exactly why they need our prayers and exactly why the lack of a genuine flock leaves Bartholomew seriously exposed to such attacks.

      Lord have mercy on us and all God-fearing Orthodox bishops.

  7. Michael,
    very well put!