Blessed Disobedience or Evil Obedience? - Author's Foreword

This article is from Author's Foreword of the excellent booklet — Blessed Disobedience or Evil Obedience? — written by Archpriest Theodore Zisis. The full booklet is available via these links:

Archpriest Theodore Zisis, Professor of Thessaloniki University of Aristotle — Blessed Disobedience or Evil Obedience?

Θεσσαλονίκη, 2006. Translation from Greek to Russian, 2009. — Translation to English, 2020.

Archpriest Theodor Zisis, professor of the theological faculty of Thessaloniki University named after Aristotle (FUA) [1], was born in 1941 on the island of Tacoc [2] in the village of Panagia, to a priest's family. 

In 1965, he graduated from the Theological Faculty of Thessaloniki University and as the best graduate was enrolled in the law faculty of FUA, but interrupted his studies in connection with the beginning of the Faculty of Theology in the FUA.  

He also graduated from the graduate school in Thessaloniki, at the department of historical theology, under the guidance of the famous patrologist P. Christ    [3]. In 1971, he was awarded a doctorate for his dissertation "Man and the Universe in the Housebuilding of God according to the teachings of St. John Chrysostom," and in 1973 for a study on "The Art of Virginity. The Holy Fathers of the Church in Defense of Celibacy ”he was appointed associate professor of the theological faculty of the FSA.

In 1972-1973 and 1979-1980, Father Theodore was going through advanced training in West Germany (Bonn).

Having presented to the department along with other publications a large monograph “Gennady II Scholarius. Life - Scripture - Doctrine ”[4], in 1980 he was elected a full-time teacher of theology. In 1982, after the division of the Faculty of Theology of the FUA  into two departments, he moved to the department of pastoral and social theology, where he currently teaches. He was the dean of this department twice.

Immediately after the founding of the patriarchal Institute for Patriotic Studies at the Vlatadov Monastery [5], Father Theodore became his scientific associate, then he served as director of the Institute (1977–1986), as well as editor and secretary (1968–1970) of the Heritage magazine published by the Patriarchal Institute.

In 1970, he became a research fellow at the Center for Byzantine Studies of the Federal Armed Forces, then head of the department of theology (1988-1998), and later became the director of the Center (1991-1995). Father Theodore is a member of the editorial board of the Byzantine Heritage magazine and other publications of the Center. For several years he was chairman of the Union of Theologians of Northern Greece and published the journal The Union of Theologians. Repeatedly he was the organizer and active participant in various international scientific conferences.

Archpriest Theodore Zisis is a cleric of the Ecumenical Patriarchate [6]. In December 1990, he was ordained deacon, and in March 1991 - to the rank of presbyter in the monastery of St. Anastasia the Solvers [7] and held pastoral services in it until the beginning of 1993. From April 1993 to this day, with the approval of the official church authorities, he has served in the church of St. Anthony the Great in Thessaloniki [8], remaining in the jurisdiction of the Church of Constantinople.

He represented the Ecumenical Patriarchate [9] and the Hellenic Church [10] at inter-Christian meetings many times, taking part in Orthodox dialogues with both old Catholics and modern Catholics;  he also participated in inter-Orthodox meetings to prepare the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church. For severe criticism of the justification of the union and unacceptable documents for the church signed in 1993 in the town of Balamand [11], the Patriarchate of Constantinople forbade him to participate in dialogues with Catholics.

In 1998, together with like-minded people, he founded the Orthodox Education Society. He currently leads the publication of the theological almanac of the Society for the Life of the Commandments, which, despite all the problems and difficulties, has been published with God's help every three months for seven years.

Initially maintaining good relations with the Archbishop of Athens Christodoulos [12] (when he was still Metropolitan Dimitriad [13]), Father Theodore came to a sharp confrontation with him, especially since 2001 - since the preparation and implementation of the visit of the late Pope John Paul II to Athens. Archpriest Theodore believes that, led by His Beatitude Christodoulos, the Hellas Church, due to ongoing close contacts with the WCC [14] and with representatives of other religions, has lost the faithful path indicated by the apostles and holy fathers, and is following the path of inter-religious and inter-Christian syncretism [15], according to the paths of ecumenism to all.

In connection with the irreconcilable position of Archpriest Theodore on this issue, as well as because of his open criticism of ecumenical contacts and the moral decline and conciliation of the bishopric in general, in June 2005 he was banned - a ban on clergy. However, the outrage because of this breach of church unity and the ardent support of many clerics contributed to the fact that in September 2005 the punishment was lifted.

Father Theodore speaks German and French. During his fruitful life, he published a large number of studies, monographs, and articles devoted to theological and historical topics and various problems of social and church life.

Author's Foreword

In 2005, the Greek Church experienced a serious crisis: revelations against some bishops and the scandals in which they were involved, affected not only herself, but also had detrimental consequences for the most ancient church of Jerusalem. All this shook the faith of the believers in the clergy and filled the quivers of enemies of the Church with poisonous arrows.

Unfortunately, the hierarchy was not able to resist the crisis, since it completely discredited itself. Most archpriests were in fear and indecision, not daring to take any steps to overcome the crisis. One serious and reasonable bishop explained his inaction (as well as other hierarchs) by the fear of various attacks from those who brought the Church to such a deplorable state.

As for the parish clergy, consisting mainly of married clerics, they, deeply concerned by the abasement of the holy dignity by unworthy shepherds, did not dare to express their opinion on the current situation because of their fear of the bishop. The cowardly ministers of Christ justified their indifference by obedience to the bishops.

However, in this situation, this argument was completely inappropriate and even unacceptable, since it fettered any desire to resist evil and treacherously lulled the conscience. Indeed, while the Gospel is being violated and the truth is rejected, there is no justification for silence and inaction, for, indeed, God gives up silence. Therefore, the Scripture says that there is “a time to be silent, and a time to speak” (Eccl. 3, 7). And judging by the situation at that time, it was precisely the time when it was necessary not to be silent, but to speak. Therefore, we began to speak, analyze, propose a way out of the crisis.

Such boldness had quite predictable consequences: the Archbishop Christodoulos punished us by forbidding us in the ministry. Thus, an uncanonical act was committed, since such actions against a cleric who was under the jurisdiction of another Church (in this case, the Church of Constantinople) did not fall within the purview of the Primate of the Church of Greece, and therefore we could in no way be subject to his trial. Of course, Vladyka did this not without the tacit consent of the Ecumenical Patriarch himself, who also does not like the Orthodox word that agrees with Tradition ...

It is difficult to justify that which has no justification. Therefore, the fact that those people who plunged the Church into the abyss of scandals are still not punished causes righteous indignation and, in part, bewilderment. After all, to this day, those guilty who were a direct source of temptation or because of their silence and inaction were involved in scandals, have not been called to account - but this is mainly the hierarchy itself. But those were easily punished, who, pointing to the appalling state of affairs in the Church, called for awakening, for those who were guilty of scandals or implicated in them to take responsibility for what was happening. But, by the grace of God, and thanks to the ardent support of many of our brothers in Christ, near and far, we have stood and not changed our position.

The small fruit of this tireless struggle for the purity of Orthodoxy was this small pamphlet, which illuminates the subtle and painful topic for many of genuine obedience - that obedience taught by the holy fathers, but which, unfortunately, is still neglected and little known to us. And if the doctrine of true obedience is completely forgotten, then false teachers and false pastors will triumph, who will lead the flock in the wrong way, dragging it along with them into the abyss of eternal perdition.

June 2006
Archpriest Theodore Zisis

This article is from Author's Foreword of the excellent booklet — Blessed Disobedience or Evil Obedience? — written by Archpriest Theodore Zisis. The full booklet is available via these links:

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