Friday, January 19, 2018

Politics Is Inseparable from Theology

Theology (Godlore) is the fountainhead from which all other thought flows, including politics.  Whatever one believes about God, man, and the cosmos, this will affect his view of what form of government is best.  This is plainly seen in the connection between Protestant theology and the [u]nited States’ political system.

 . . .

New Man

Historian C. Gregg Singer traces the line of influence from the seventeenth century to the eighteenth century in his book, A Theological Interpretation of American History. He says,

Whether we look at the Puritans and their fellow colonists of the seventeenth century, or their descendants of the eighteenth century, or those who framed the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, we see that their political programs were the rather clear reflection of a consciously held political philosophy, and that the various political philosophies which emerged among the American people were intimately related to the theological developments which were taking place. . . . A Christian world and life view furnished the basis for this early political thought which guided the American people for nearly two centuries and whose crowning lay in the writing of the Constitution of 1787.9

Actually, the line of influence extends back even further. Historian Arnold Toynbee, for example, has written that the American Revolution was made possible by American Protestantism. Page Smith, writing in the Religious Origins of the American Revolution, cites the influence of the Protestant Reformation. He believes that

The Protestant Reformation produced a new kind of consciousness and a new kind of man. The English Colonies in America, in turn, produced a new unique strain of that consciousness. It thus follows that it is impossible to understand the intellectual and moral forces behind the American Revolution without understanding the role that Protestant Christianity played in shaping the ideals, principles and institutions of colonial America.10

Smith argues that the American Revolution "started, in a sense, when Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the church door at Wittenburg." It received "its theological and philosophical underpinnings from John Calvin's Institutes of the Christian Religion and much of its social theory from the Puritan Revolution of 1640-1660.11

Most people before the Reformation belonged to classes and social groups which set the boundaries of their worlds and established their identities. The Reformation, according to Smith, changed these perceptions. Luther and Calvin, in a sense, created a re- formed individual in a re-formed world.

Key to this is the doctrine of the priesthood of the believer where each person is "responsible directly to God for his or her own spiritual state.... The individuals who formed the new congregations established their own churches, chose their own ministers, and managed their own affairs without reference to an ecclesiastical hierarchy."12

These re-formed individuals began to change their world including their view of government and authority.

 . . .

Source:  Kerby Anderson,, opened 11 Jan. 2018

For the modern American constitutional system, everything hinges on the idea that each individual person is an authority unto himself.  He is responsible to no man, only God.  Authority flows from this ‘new man’ and his fellow disconnected, atomistic citizens to whatever government they wish to establish.  And this, as we have just seen, is based on the Protestant interpretation of I Peter 2:9 that all believers are equally a ‘royal priesthood’, and therefore no hierarchy is valid.

But if this interpretation of the ‘priesthood of all believers’ is false, the system itself is false and therefore dangerous.  And, in fact, what one finds in the New Testament and in the Church Fathers is an abundance of references to hierarchy in the Church, in heaven and on earth:  Hebrews 13:17, James 5:14, I Corinthians 12, Rev. 4:4, etc.

St John Chrysostom in his commentary on I Corinthians says,

1 Corinthians 15:40
There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial; but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another.

1 Corinthians 15:41
There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differs from another star in glory.

And what means he by these expressions? Wherefore from the resurrection of the body did he throw himself into the discourse of the stars and the sun? He did not throw himself out, neither did he break off from his purpose; far from it: but he still keeps to it. For whereas he had established the doctrine concerning the resurrection, he intimates in what follows that great will be then the difference of glory, though there be but one resurrection. And for the present he divides the whole into two: into bodies celestial, and bodies terrestrial. For that the bodies are raised again, he signified by the grain: but that they are not all in the same glory, he signifies by this. For as the disbelief of the resurrection makes men supine, so again it makes them indolent to think that all are vouchsafed the same reward. Wherefore he corrects both. And the one in the preceeding verses he had completed; but this he begins now. And having made two ranks, of the righteous and of sinners, these same two he subdivides again into many parts, signifying that neither righteous nor sinners shall obtain the same; neither righteous men, all of them, alike with other righteous, nor sinners with other sinners.

Now he makes, you see, first, one separation between righteous and sinners, where he says, bodies celestial, and bodies terrestrial: by the terrestrial intimating the latter, and by the celestial, the former. Then farther he introduces a difference of sinners from sinners, saying, All flesh is not the same flesh, but there is one flesh of fishes, another of birds, and another of beasts. And yet all are bodies; but some are in more, and some in lesser vileness. And that in their manner of living too, and in their very constitution.

And having said this, he ascends again to the heaven, saying, There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon. For as in the earthly bodies there is a difference, so also in the heavenly; and that difference no ordinary one, but reaching even to the uttermost: there being not only a difference between sun and moon, and stars, but also between stars and stars. For what though they be all in the heaven? Yet some have a larger, others a less share of glory. What do we learn from hence? That although they be all in God's kingdom, all shall not enjoy the same reward; and though all sinners be in hell, all shall not endure the same punishment.  . . .

Source:, opened 13 Jan. 2018

Fr John Whiteford also writes,

 . . .

As for the Protestant view of the "Priesthood of all believers," we would agree with them up to a point. St. Peter indeed says that "you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ…. you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light" (1 Peter 2:5, 9). You also find the same idea expressed three times in the book of Revelation (Revelation 1:6; 5:10; 20:6). But you also find the same idea in the Old Testament. For example in the Law of Moses it says "And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation." These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel" (Exodus 19:6).

However, in the Old Testament, even though they were a kingdom of priests, they still had a distinct priesthood. And there is a very interesting incident found in Numbers chapter 16, in which some people began to assert that there should not be such a distinction. In fact, the basic argument of Korah, Dathan and Abiram is not much different than what you hear from many Protestants:

"They gathered together against Moses and Aaron, and said to them, "You take too much upon yourselves, for all the congregation is holy, every one of them, and the Lord is among them. Why then do you exalt yourselves above the assembly of the Lord?"" (Numbers 16:3).

If you read the rest of that chapter, you will see that this attempt to democratize the Liturgical Priesthood of the Old Testament did not end well for them.

Deacons, priests, and bishops have a special grace that is bestowed upon them by the laying on of hands (ordination), and so they have a distinct role in leading the people in worship, and performing the sacraments of the Church.  . . .  So we are all a kingdom of priests, but God has established a distinct priesthood to perform a particular role in the life of the Church.

There is hierarchy.  The philosophy upon which the American constitutional system rests is false.  It is, as we have said a few times before, a modern expression of Neo-Platonism:  Everything that exists is an emanation of the impersonal divine being called by Plotinus the One.

But in place of the One, the u. S. system substitutes the impersonal ‘will of the people’.  And as three levels of ‘reality’ emanate from the One, so too do three levels of governmental/societal ‘reality’ emanate from the will of the people:  legislative, executive, and judicial, or local, state, and national.  But none of these have any real independent existence; they could be wiped away by the One/the people’s will at any moment.  The only thing that is truly real in this system is the One/the people’s will (which wears the phony mask of 'Constitution').

As with most falsehoods, there is a kernel of truth in its attempted Trinitarianism.  But only the Orthodox political system has a Trinitarian order that is not the ephemeral out-breathing of an impersonal essence:

 . . .


Seeking justification for their pagan Rome of unending greed for material riches and unquenchable thirst for global power that will end in the now foreseeable Apocalypse, some post-sectarians believe in a man called Jesus. However, we Orthodox Christians ‘worship the indivisible Holy Trinity, Who has saved us’. This Trinitarian Belief is embodied in the single phrase, Church, Empire and People, as also in the words Altar, Throne and Cottage, or Orthodoxy, Sovereignty and People.

The Kingdom of the Father

As we confess the Kingdom of the Father, so we confess the sacred Altar of the Church of Christ His Son. That is why we are opposed to Antichrist, whose prophesied reign is being prepared by Babylonian globalism, in opposition to our Jerusalem Church. For we confess the primacy of our Faith (Matt. 6, 33).

The Kingdom of the Son

As we confess the Church of the Son, so we confess His Incarnate Empire on earth. The Ruler on this Throne must oppose the Anti-Christianity of Secularism and fight for freedom, as we have just seen in Syria, for we oppose all centralized tyrannies and defend the freedom and sovereignty of the peoples.

The Kingdom of the Holy Spirit

As we confess the Holy Spirit, so we confess His potential to sanctify and save People living in the world from evil. We fight against the oppression of the Establishment elite/aristocracy/oligarchy and its bureaucrats/parliamentarians /hireling media, who deny the People Christ’s saving Truth and Justice.


The above explains why we fight for the Purity of Holy Orthodoxy against deviations, whether liberalist-secularist or ritualist-obscurantist. We believe in Christian Rome, the Sacred, which is why we so firmly opposed the documents of Crete, prepared by secularism and treachery. We do not confess and bless globalism through imitation of a mere human-being, we confess and bless the Kingdom of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, the Eternal God Who is in Three Persons.

Source:  Fr Andrew Phillips,, opened 12 Jan. 2018

Rather than starting with humility towards the All-Holy Trinity, the u. S. system begins with the presumption of ‘the people’.  The Abbe Sieyes shows the underlying principle of pride in this type of system in his essay What Is the Third Estate? [the Third Estate was the bulk of the French people who were not nobles or clergy--W.G.]:

What is the Third Estate? Everything.
What has it been until now in the political order? Nothing.
What does it want to be? Something.

From this inversion of the source of authority, the Holy Fathers tell us, will come the kingdom of Antichrist, the incarnation of the devil’s malice toward God, man, and the whole creation.

The peoples of the States of all sections, since their War for Independence from Great Britain, have believed that they are doing something new in the world, that they are regenerating man politically in a very real way, that Christ’s birth and the birth of ‘America’ are the two major turning points in the history of the world:  They are throwing off all the dark and backward authoritarianism of king and bishop that their Western European forebears knew and founding an ‘empire of liberty’ (Jefferson’s words).  But it is just this ‘non-imperial imperium’ (Jay Dyer’s words), free of the last vestiges of the Holy Tradition of the Orthodox Church, that is helping so greatly to prepare the way for Antichrist.

It is time they came to their senses.  Understandably, the States have no desire to return to the brutal feudalism of after-Schism Western Europe, but there is another option:  The Orthodox Christian tradition of fore-Schism Western Europe and Africa:

 . . . This is not a question of conservatism. Those who are conservative simply regret the pyramid [of feudalism--W.G.] of the past. We reject both the past and the modern pyramid, for our guiding light is the Age of the Saints of the first millennium.

In this way we follow the Tradition, far more radical than mere liberal and mere conservative. We proclaim the values of the Old West, the values of the Saints who stand at the root of the real West. These are the values of:  the holy apostles Peter and Paul, the bearer of God Ignatius, the holy family Sophia, Faith, Hope and Charity, the fearless virgins Tatiana and Cecilia, Lawrence and Sebastian, Anastasia, Januarius and Pancras, the pure lamb Agnes, Irenaeus of Lyon, Eulalia of Barcelona, Ursula of Cologne, Hilary of Poitiers, Ambrose of Milan, Martin of Tours, John Cassian, Vincent of Lerins, Patrick of Ireland, Benedict of Cassino, Columba of Iona, Gregory the Great, Theodore of Tarsus, Clement of the Low Countries, Modest of Carinthia, Boniface of Fulda, Edmund of East Anglia, Anschar and Olaf and the great host of local saints, known and unknown. This is the lost West, the real West, the geographical West.

From the Service to All the Saints of the Western Lands

For one thousand years the light of the Sun of Righteousness shone forth from the East on the lands of the West forming a Cross over Europe, before they fell beneath the darkening shades of the Churchless night. Let us now return to the roots of our first confession of the Holy Spirit in the bright Sunrise of Orthodoxy, which is brought again from the East, and so shine forth the light of the Everlasting Christ once more.

O all the saints of the Western Lands, pray to God for our repentance and return, our restoration and resurrection. Tell the people to leave aside the things of men, the fallen fleshly mind and all its vain musings, for they are without the Saviour and the Spirit. And so, through your life in the Holy Trinity, shall we find salvation in the purity of the Orthodox Faith before the end.

Now do we sing to all the saints of the lands of the West and at their head the apostles Peter and Paul, the true glory of Old Rome, and, like stars in the dark night sky, to the constellation of the martyrs and fathers who followed in their apostolic footsteps, leaving behind them the great treasury of holy relics. O First Rome, who art glorious in thy saints alone, do thou return to the eternal faith of Orthodoxy through the Holy Spirit Who proceeds from the Father, as the Saviour tells us.

O all ye holy women, martyrs, matrons and queens, from Old Rome to Sicily of the south, from Sardinia to Iberia, from Gaul to the islands of Britain, from the Celtic realms to the Germanic lands of the north, preferring the humble truth of the Galilean to the proud might of paganism, ye have brought the words of Christ to dumb men, raising up infants and kings to the measure of the stature of Christ, so hallowing your peoples and our souls by the light of the Holy Trinity.

O constellation of all the saints of the Western lands, who shine forth in the night sky, together we gather in your name, in praise to ask you to intercede for us with your prayers. Bring back the Western peoples from the inglorious darkness of their unwisdom to the Wisdom of God, that they may cast aside all the illusions of the fallen reason and know again that the only true glory and enlightenment is in the acquisition of the Holy Spirit.

Source:  Fr Andrew Phillips,, opened 12 Jan. 2018

All Saints of the Isles.  Holy icon from, 15 Jan. 2018


Holy Ælfred the Great, King of England, South Patron, pray for us sinners at the Souð, unworthy though we are!

Anathema to the Union!

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Orthodox Political Theory and Practice

We saw in the last post what developed in the West apart from the Orthodox Faith, the Faith of the Apostles and their right-believing successors.  Let us now look at some of the general marks of Orthodox politics. 

First, authority is established from above, by God, through His anointed kings, and not from below, by the Devil, through the amorphous, unstable ‘people’.  From this truth is developed the unbreakable oneness of ‘Altar, Throne, and Cottage’ (from Fr Andrew Phillips), i.e., the bishops, kings, and people, within the Orthodox Church. 

The ideal of symphonia, the close co-operation of the clergy and the political rulers, guides the nation’s affairs.  The salvation of all the people, high-born, low-born, and clergy alike, is their highest goal (see St-King Edgar and St Dunstan, Archbishop of Canterbury, in the West, e.g.).  Competition for worldly greatness is curtailed as men and women of all classes strive instead for union with the uncreated Light of God.  Unlike the after-Schism West, where rulers cling to power until they die, many in the Orthodox countries gladly renounce it so they can draw closer to God.  Two ensamples:

In the East:

Holy Empress and Wonderworker Theophano (893)
She was born to noble parents in Constantinople. Beautiful and pious, she was chosen by the Emperor Basil (867-886) to be the bride of his son Leo VI the Wise. When Leo ascended the throne, the Empress showed no attraction to the honors and pleasures of the royal life, but devoted her days to prayer and almsgiving. She fulfilled all the duties of her Imperial station while living a life of austerity whenever out of the world's sight. Beneath her rich garments she wore coarse haircloth, and kept fasts and vigils as if she were living the monastic life. She was humble and respectful to all, and would address even her servants as 'Master' or 'Mistress.' At night, after her servants had left her alone, she would leave her fine bed and sleep on a mat on the floor, rising often during the night to pray.
After her daughter Eudocia died in 892, she wished to leave the world and enter a monastery, but her spiritual father St Euthymius (August 5) would not give his blessing. Nonetheless, her time in the world was not long: only three years later she died, before she had reached the age of thirty. Immediately after her funeral in the Church of the Holy Apostles, her holy relics became the source of many miracles and healings, and are venerated to this day in the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Constantinople.

Source:, entry for 16 Dec.

In the West:

Peter Urseolus Jan 10
928-987. Born in Venice in Italy, at the age of twenty Peter became Admiral of the Venetian fleet. In 976 he became Doge of Venice. After two years, he disappeared from Venice to become a monk at the monastery of Cuxa in Spain, where he later lived as a hermit.

Though the source of authority was from above, the people were far from chattel to be exploited by the nobles:

 . . . It is essential to note that in Eastern Roman society (and until the Carolingian period, Western Roman society as well), the regnum was thought of in terms of a cooperative relationship with the sacerdotium, that is, the Church and Her Patriarch. The development of the coronation ceremony, which became centered more and more on the ecclesial basis of kingly power though it retained the element of popular assent through acclamation, has been misinterpreted in Western scholarship as evidence either of “caesaropapism” or of an abiding “secular” element in the Eastern Roman conception of imperium.26 A quotation from scholar Janet L. Nelson elucidates the profound differences between the Eastern Roman and the later Western conceptions of the imperium:

Of course, the clerical hierarchy existed as a specialist institution in eastern as in western Christendom. But in Byzantium it produced no hierocratic theory, laid no claim to monopolise active participation in the church — which in a sociological sense was coterminous with the community of Christian believers. The divine will was believed to operate directly through all members of this community. Thus sixth-century theorists focussed [sic] not on the coronation…but on election and consent as the crucial elements in imperial inauguration. And in election and consent, leading officials, senators and people… are all involved in the expression of the divine choice, and precisely their coincidence generates a lawful succession’ (ennomos anarresis). In such an inclusive cosmology, the patriarch took his place without friction alongside other channels of divine communication.27

In this conception of the emperor as fulfilling a divine ministry alongside the other ministries of “Church” and “people,” there is no system of “checks and balances” rife with coercive tension as in modern “democracies” nor is there any idea of an autocratic secular ruler who mediates literally between God and Law, as in the later developments of the medieval West.28 Instead, there is a symphonia between the emperor, the Church, and the people, a harmonization of purpose based upon the Orthodoxy of each individual within each tangential sphere. The purity of Chalcedonian Orthodoxy was the basis of all politics, art, and wisdom in the Eastern Roman Empire, because the purity of belief undergirt the proper fulfilling of each charismatic ministry, from the lowliest farmer to the emperor himself. Some may try to refute this notion of an Eastern Roman Orthodox symphonia as a hopelessly idealistic notion that never actually existed in practice. However, just as the notion of a capitalist free market (or a pre-capitalist free market) is based largely upon negations—such as the absence of centralized planning, etc.—which are not absolute but rather indications of aspiration and purpose, so the Orthodox symphonia consists in apophatic principles which gesture toward the correlating ministries of emperor, Church, and people without a cataphatic, positive, and therefore legalistic definition of absolute vectors of power.29 Because of its basis in Orthodox apophasis, the Eastern Romans refused to place ultimate authority in any external body per se, even that of an Ecumenical Council. This is why Westerners, who know only cataphasis in politics and faith, and who thus can point to neat, absolute structures of power, which they mistakenly equate with good order or “rational governance,” see nothing but confusion and disorder in an East Roman society that refuses to accept the many varieties of feudalistic oppression which have developed in the West, instead following the original politeia of Christian Hellenism. This Orthodox view of politics sees society as the coming together of the people of God in an ascetic, communal “work of the people” (leitourgeia) which accepts no final authority save that based in communion with God. Needless to say, the divine-human communion of the Eastern Roman society is opposed to that of the supposedly divine princes of the West, who have become deified through their anointing with uncreated Holy Oil and/or through the simple fact that they have blue Frankish blood in their veins.30 Rather, the Orthodox society places all hope in theosis, the union with the energies of the Holy Trinity achieved by prophets, apostles and saints, some of whom have been emperors, farmers, soldiers, and Patriarchs.

In the cataphatic formulation of Western or Frankish Civilization, sacred kings and imperial bishops—each enthroned on one side of a dialectically opposed, divinely constituted binary of power—locked horns in the notorious Investiture Contest.31 To skip ahead for a moment, let us not forget that Philip the Fair s kidnapping and mauling of Pope Boniface VIII through the offices of William of Nogaret is the last pathetic scene in the drama of Investiture.32 No equivalent to the sorry spectacle of Investiture ever did, nor ever could transpire in the Eastern Roman Empire, for there was no Frankish Civilization (feudalism) in the East, until rapacious Frankish crusaders brought it there in the thirteenth century, perpetrating unspeakable outrages against the Orthodox Romans they tried to enslave there.33 Needless to say, wherever and whenever the Franks were ousted, it was a simultaneous eradication of feudal institutions and feudal law.

 . . .

Source:  James Kelley, Anatomizing Divinity,, opened 10 Jan. 2018 (thanks to C for the link)

And although the bishop and king appear to the secular eye to be at the top of the Orthodox social hierarchy, it was in fact the holy saints who were the most influential. 

The powerful humbled themselves before them:  In the West, St Columba of Iona and St Eligius of Noyons (Gaul/France) were guides to kings, St-King Alfred the Great revered St Cuthbert of Lindisfarne, St Ambrose of Milan is well-known for his rebuke and excommunication of the Emperor Theodosius (who through his repentance also attained deification in this life), and so on.  In the East, e.g., Sts Symeon and Daniel the Stylites were counsellors to emperors and empresses.  St Constantine the Great and his sons sought the wisdom of St Anthony the Great, the father of organized monasticism:

81. And the fame of Antony came even unto kings. For Constantine Augustus, and his sons Constantius and Constans the Augusti wrote letters to him, as to a father, and begged an answer from him. But he made nothing very much of the letters, nor did he rejoice at the messages, but was the same as he had been before the Emperors wrote to him. But when they brought him the letters he called the monks and said, 'Do not be astonished if an emperor writes to us, for he is a man; but rather wonder that God wrote the Law for men and has spoken to us Hebrews 1:2 through His own Son.' And so he was unwilling to receive the letters, saying that he did not know how to write an answer to such things. But being urged by the monks because the emperors were Christians, and lest they should take offense on the ground that they had been spurned, he consented that they should be read, and wrote an answer approving them because they worshipped Christ, and giving them counsel on things pertaining to salvation: 'not to think much of the present, but rather to remember the judgment that is coming, and to know that Christ alone was the true and Eternal King.' He begged them to be merciful and to give heed to justice and the poor. And they having received the answer rejoiced. Thus he was dear to all, and all desired to consider him as a father.

Source:  St Athanasius the Great, Life of St Anthony,, opened 11 Jan. 2018

Their words and deeds likewise inspired the plain folk, whose popular veneration of the holy ones often led to their being recognized as saints by the clergy.

The social life that manifested from all this was as one finds it in Tolkien’s Hobbiton:  Mostly quiet, rural neighborhoods where the same families lived in the same places since time out of mind, where skills were passed down from father to son and mother to daughter, technology was not a tyrant but a lowly servant, the laws were ancient, inherited, and mostly unwritten, and heated political discussions were minimal.


Theology matters.  Departing from right belief has terrible consequences, as one may see in the modern West, where just government and humane living are nearly at an end.  We will try to delve more deeply into this theme in its American context next time.


Holy Ælfred the Great, King of England, South Patron, pray for us sinners at the Souð, unworthy though we are!

Anathema to the Union!