20 June 2008

Khomiakov on the difference between the East and the West

"I daresay you have felt long since, as have most of us, that the difference between the Eastern Church and all the Western communities, whether Roman, or sprung out of Rome in the form of Protestations, lies not so much in the difference of separate dogmas or portions of creed as in something else which has not been as yet clearly defined or expressed. This difference consists in the different manner of considering the Church itself."

He then continues, citing an encyclical of the eastern hierarchs,

"The Pope is greatly mistaken in supposing that we consider the Ecclesiastical Hierarchy to be the guardian of the dogma [of the Church]. The case is quite different. The unvarying constancy and the unerring truth of Christian dogma does not depend upon Hierarchical Order: it is guarded by the totality, by the whole people of the Church, which is the Body of Christ...No Hierarchical Order nor Supremacy is to be considered as a guarantee of truth. The knowledge of truth is given to mutual love."

And further,

"...the gift of unvarying knowledge (which is nothing but faith) is attributed, not to individuals, but to the totality of the ecclesiastical body, and is considered as a corollary of the moral principle of mutual love. This position is in direct contradiction to the individualism and rationalism which lies at the bottom of every Protestant doctrine."

from Khomiakov's fifth letter to Palmer, as found in "On Spiritual Unity"

No comments: