21 February 2008

Khomiakov on the papacy and the rise of protestantism

"I have said that, from the early times of Christianity until the great Western schism, knowledge of the divine truths had been considered to belong to the totality of the Church united by the spirit of charity and love. This doctrine, preserved to the present, has recently (1848) been publicly proclaimed by a unanimous agreement of the patriarchs and all the Christians of the East.

In the ninth century the West, unfaithful to the tradition of the Church, appropriated the right to alter the ecumenical creed without consulting with its Eastern brothers and sisters, and this at the very moment when the latter showed a fraternal deference to the West by submitting to it for its approval the decisions of the Council of Nicaea. What was the inevitable logical consequence of this usurpation? When the logical principle of knowledge expressed in the exposition of the creed was separated from the moral principle of love expressed by the unanimity of the Church, a protestant anarchy was established in practice. Every diocese could appropriate vis-a-vis the Western patriarchate the right that the latter appropriated vis-a-vis the totality of the Church; every parish could appropriate this right vis-a-vis the diocese; every individual could appropriate it vis-a-vis all other individuals.

No sophistry can allow one to avoid this consequence. Either the truth of faith is given to the union of all and to their mutual love in Jesus Christ, or it can be given to every individual without regard to all other individuals."

Aleksei Khomiakov, Some remarks by an Orthodox Christian concerning the Western Communions, on the occasion of a letter published by the Archbishop of Paris, in On spiritual unity, p. 68.

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