When Disobeying Your Bishop is the Best Thing to Do, According to the Saints

Sometimes you have to disobey the bishop. St. Athanasius the Great, St. Basil the Great, St. Gregory the Theologian, St. John Chrysostom, St. Maximus the Confessor, St. Theodore the Studite, St. Symeon the New Theologian, and St. Mark of Ephesus tell us why.

According to all of these Orthodox Saints, there is a righteous, uncondemned disobedience — holy divine disobedience — which is permissible and even necessary in cases where the church hierarchy incorrectly teaches the word of Christ's truth.

This article is from chapter 4 of the excellent booklet — Blessed Disobedience or Evil Obedience? — written by Archpriest Theodore Zisis. The full booklet is available via these links:


Chapter 4 

The Holy Fathers on Obedience

Before giving examples of some statements of the saints regarding blessed obedience to bishops who faithfully teach the word of truth, and holy disobedience to heretics, we note the following. Many holy fathers, based on the Holy Scriptures, spoke directly and frankly about evil shepherds, strongly speaking out in favor of expelling them from the Church, especially when they seduce the people of God by their behavior.

Now, when they distort and abolish the Gospel, refuting and subverting the holy fathers, such false shepherds not only are not expelled, so that the so-desired and long-awaited catharsis can set in, but, on the contrary, they also receive unquestioning obedience. Those who refuse to obey those who pervert the Gospel and denounce them as being a source of temptation, are called insolent troublemakers and have trials over them to expel them from the Church. Is this not something ridiculous, strange and entirely unreasonable?

 1. St. Athanasius the Great 

Saint Athanasius [41], realizing the seriousness of the question of unworthy, evil clerics, who seduce the faithful with their behavior, boldly states the following: It is preferable for believers to gather in prayer houses, that is, in churches, alone - without bishops and priests - rather than inheriting fiery hell together with them, as happened with those Jews who, together with Annas and Caiaphas [42] rebelled against the Savior:

“If the bishop or the priest, being the eyes of the Church, have unkind behavior and seduce the people, they should be cast out. It’s better to gather in the house of prayer without them than to be cast into the fiery hell with them, like Annas and Caiaphas.”

For us it is like hearing thunder on a clear day to learn that the clergy of all stations, whom we had thought to be pious and self-controlled, and whom the monks were ready to give full obedience to, had turned out to be  possessed with wicked vices, even those vices which we had not known of before.

One should be very careful with such hypocrites and "ascetics" with long, decorated beards, who do everything “so that their people can see” (Matt. 23:5). After all, the hypocrisy of old is undermining Christian morality, even among the monks. (Saint Eustathius of Thessalonica [43], who lived in the 12th century, was an enlightened and straightforward hierarch, and dedicated a separate work, “On Hypocrisy,” in which he condemned this sin angrily.)

Saint Athanasius writes of such duplicitous false shepherds as follows:

The Lord said: "Beware of false prophets who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits.” If you see, brother, someone who has a decent appearance, don’t look to see whether he is dressed in sheep’s wool, whether he bears the name of priest, bishop, deacon or ascetic, but be quick to learn about his business, whether he is chaste, hospitable, merciful, loving, earnest in prayers, and patient.

If his god is his belly, if his throat is the path to hell, if he is greedy for money and makes it his god —  leave him alone. He is not a wise shepherd, but a predatory wolf.

If you know how to "tell trees by their fruits" — what kind of breed, taste, and quality they are — then all the more you should recognize betrayers of Christ by their deeds, since they, bearing the guise of reverence, have a devilish soul.

You do not collect grapes from thorn bushes or figs from thistles, so why do you think that you can hear something good from criminals or learn something useful from traitors? Therefore run away from them, like from the wolves of Arabia, like from the thorns of their preaching, the burdocks of their injustice and the crafty tree.

If you see a wise man, as Wisdom teaches, go to him, and let your foot wear out the threshold of his door, in order to learn the inscriptions of the law and the gifts of grace from him. Not an eloquent word or an impressive appearance is introduced into the Kingdom of Heaven, but a perfect and unsophisticated faith along with virtuous and brilliant prudence.

We will give one more remarkable case from the life of St. Athanasius. One day he received the news that the monks of Cappadocia had risen up against the great saint Basil [44], when he, wanting to return moderate pneumatic wings to Orthodoxy [45], for the sake of oikonomia [46] avoided calling the Holy Spirit “Consubstantial” for some time. The presbyter Palladium, who reported this, wanted Saint Athanasius to instruct the Cappadocian monks to remain in one mind and obedience to their archpastor. 

However, the answer of the true champion of the Orthodox faith is completely opposite to the instructions that the current patriarchs and hierarchs give to monks when they try to protest against the deviation of the hierarchy from the teaching of the Church. So, St. Athanasius writes:

I already know about the Caesarean monks from our beloved Dianius, that they resist the bishop, our beloved Basil. I praise you for notifying me of this, and I told them what follows: that as children they should obey their father and not contradict him in what he teaches, after consideration.

If it were possible to suspect him of an incorrect understanding of the truth, then it would be good to go against him. But if you are firmly convinced, like all of us, that he is the praise of the Church,  and strives more for the truth, teaching those who need it, then it is necessary not to confront him, but rather to approve his good conscience. 

For from what the beloved Dianius told me, it is revealed that they are indignant in vain. Basil, as I am firmly convinced, has become weak to the weak, that they may be converted. And our beloved ones, while looking at the goal and watching it (and keeping to the truth), let them glorify the Lord, who gave Cappadocia such a bishop, which every country would like to have.

As you can see, St. Athanasius does not condemn the monks for being interested in matters of faith, and he does not compel them to confine themselves to fulfilling their monastic vows only (as if there is a higher duty than preserving the faith and protecting it!). He does not encourage the monks, having rejected canonical rigor, to follow the position of St. Basil, but advises them to try to understand his good intentions and approve of them. And since there is nothing reprehensible in this position of St. Basil, St. Athanasius encourages the monks to remain in obedience to their archpastor and to trust him. However, if there really was something doubtful in the position of the Cappadocian bishop, then their disobedience would be completely appropriate and fully justified.

But can we today, as the holy Athanasius once did, advise monks to remain obedient to ecumenical masters who have even abolished the very meaning of oikonomia as a temporary deviation from canonical rigor[47]? Can we say with certainty that these current relations with Catholics, Protestants, Monophysites [48] and other heretics occur exclusively for the sake of oikonomia?

Not at all! Indeed, none of the ecumenist hierarchs ever supported the defenders of the Tradition, explaining that the evasion of the purity of church teaching is allowed only for a short time and only for the sake of oikonomia, so that some of the erring and heretics — Catholics, Protestants and Monophysites — should convert to Orthodoxy. On the contrary, the opinion is imposed on us that everyone and everything belongs to the Church, and no one is outside its borders. As a result, the very notions of heresy and error went into oblivion. 

Thus the position of the ecumenists is not, apparently, a temporary phenomenon, for the benefit of the weak, but something permanent, because today no one treats the erring as infirm. Having elevated oikonomia to the rank of rule and even law, ecumenists completely neglect canonical rigor, rejecting it, supposedly seeing in it a manifestation of fanaticism and a lack of love. Presenting their position on canonical rigor, they punish all those who dare to point out that in this case we are talking about evading the purity of the Orthodox faith. Those who adhere to canonical rigor in dogmatic issues they call extremists, fanatics and fundamentalists.

So, according to St. Athanasius the Great, there is a righteous, uncondemned disobedience — holy divine disobedience — which is permissible and even necessary in cases where the church hierarchy incorrectly teaches the word of Christ's truth. 

2. St. Basil the Great 

St. Basil speaks very sharply with respect to those bishops who betray their faith for the sake of power and the benefits that accompany their position: he does not even consider them archpastors! And therefore, for example, he advised the Nikopol elders not to have anything to do with their Arian-loving bishop Fronton.

In fact, St. Basil induces them to disobedience - to holy and divine disobedience. He also warns that one should not be tempted by the fact that such hierarchs can often seem to be Orthodox and have the true faith: 

Just do not be deceived by the false word of those who proclaim it to be the true faith. After all, they are the betrayers of Christ, not Christians, who always prefer to live for their own benefit, and not in truth. When they decided to take this empty power, they joined the enemies of Christ, and when they saw that the people were indignant, they again pretended to be true believers.

I do not consider a bishop and do not rank among the priests of Christ the one who, with unclean hands, was put forward to a place of primacy in order to destroy the faith.

Wanting to express his opinion regarding the heresy-disease that hit the Church and to enlighten elders in this matter (however, leaving them the right to act on their own and at their discretion), St. Basil turns to the clergy of another diocese, without waiting for any approval or permissions from the higher church authority — the patriarch or the synod.

(We are often advised to take a blessing and notify the priesthood about everything, no matter what we are going to do, but we do not do anything reprehensible when, together with other clergymen and monks, we speak out on a number of serious church and theological problems.)

So, in his epistle, Saint Basil the Great writes:

Such is my judgment. And you, if you have at least something in common with us, of course, agree. If you rely on yourself, then everyone is his own master, and we are innocent of his blood.

I didn’t write this out of mistrust, but in order to resolve the doubt of those who know my opinion about how some would not gather with us or shake hands, and when peace came, they hastened to rank themselves as priests.

The saint displayed an uncompromising attitude towards heresy and its adherents in an unflattering way. It extended to the powers that be, including the emperor himself. Valens, who supported the Arians [49],  sent the eparch [50] Modestus with the order to persuade the stubborn and unyielding saint to obey [51] For all, having obeyed, yielded, both the patriarchs and the hierarchs — only Saint Basil was disobedient. (Probably, those prone to concessions and compromises said: "What, is he the only one who has the right faith? Are all the others mistaken?")

During a conversation with Modest, when the subject turned to obedience to the emperor and the fact that all the others had long submitted, the illustrious archpastor answered the eparch like this:

“You are rulers, and I do not deny that the rulers are significant people, but you are not superior to God. It is important for me to be in fellowship with you (why not, for you are God's creature), however, no more important than to be in fellowship with any other of your subordinates, for Christianity is determined not by the dignity of persons, but by    faith..." 

"No one has ever talked so freely to me." the emperor's messenger said. 

"Perhaps, ”answered St. Basil,“ you have not met a real bishop, otherwise, no doubt, when dealing with a similar subject, you would have heard the same words from him.  For in everything else, oh ruler, we are modest and humbler than any, as we are commanded to be. But not only before such power as yours, for we would not be arrogant before anyone else either. But when it comes to God, and they dare to rebel against Him, then despising everything in the world, we only hold Him before our eyes. ”

To the question: “Should one obey everyone, no matter what he orders?” — that is, whether everyone should be obeyed in everything — the Great Ecumenical Hierarch Basil answers the monks this way: For those for whom obedience, along with non-possessiveness and virginity, is one of the three monastic vows and one of the main virtues, it makes absolutely no difference who demands obedience from us, whether he is superior to us or below us. The only important thing is whether what we are advised or encouraged to do is in accordance with the commandments of God, with the Gospel truth.

Differences in dignity, ranks, or fasts should not affect obedience — obedience should be shown even to those who are lower than us in position. Therefore, the lords and even the leaders of the Churches should listen to the opinion of the lowest in rank when they give good advice, as the holy prophet Moses once obeyed Jethro [52].

So, when we are prompted to do something that is in harmony with the commandments of the Lord or encourages them to be fulfilled, then this should be followed with great zeal, as the will of God. However, when we are commanded to do something contrary to the commandments of God, something that distorts or defames them, we must respond to it in the same way that the apostles once responded to the high priests: “We must obey God more than men” (Acts 5:29).

Therefore, St. Basil also teaches us to avoid and in every possible way to turn away those shepherds who hinder us from obeying the commandments of God or who are inclined to do things that are objectionable to the Lord, no matter how true and sincere their piety and high position in the Church may be:

“Even if someone is very noble and extremely intelligent, but  hinders the fulfillment of the Lord's commandments or encourages others to do what is forbidden by Him, one must run away from him. He must be considered to be abominable for every one who loves the Lord."

3. Saints Gregory the Theologian and John Chrysostom 

St. John Chrysostom and St. Gregory the Theologian [53], in their writings, tirelessly sing the grandeur of holy clerical dignity. [54] In a truly incomparable way, while depicting the height of pastoral service and the highest spiritual qualities and the purity of clergy, they at the same time expose the fall and inconstancy of many of them — so that the difference between good and evil shepherds is understood.

Many of their writings often mention evil bishops. But this does not mean that they thereby fell into the sin of condemnation or reproach. Their only desire was to warn and protect the faithful children from evil bishops, who will also benefit from such a conviction, naturally, if they humbly and impassively want to hear the truth, thereby revealing true wisdom, for it is written in the Scripture: “Do not reprove the scolder, lest he hate you; reprove the wise man, and he will love you” (Proverbs 9:8).

St. Gregory, who suffered many persecutions and exiles from bad hierarchs, writes that he is not afraid of anything, neither attacks from humans, nor attacks from wild animals. The only thing he fears and would like to avoid is the evil bishops: “Deliver me only from evil bishops.” For the archpastors, appointed to be teachers, instead became the doers of all kinds of atrocities and various vices: “It is a shame to say as that it is this way, but I will say: those who are set to be teachers of the good, are the source of all evil.” We find a similar idea in St. John Chrysostom: "I’m not so afraid of anyone as bishops, excluding a few."

St. Gregory the Theologian also has wise words about this fact: The world that alienates us from God is bad (that is, when we accept what is not pleasing to Him or participate in what is contrary to His holy will), but war is laudable when we fight against lies, error, and sin.

We will state it this way: as there is good and bad obedience, so there is bad and good disobedience. And just as St. Gregory, speaking about peace and war, says that “scolding is better than a world that is parting with God,” we dare to claim that disobedience is better than obedience that separates us from the Lord.

4. The Venerable Maximus the Confessor

Saint Maximus, rightly called the Confessor [55], gives us an example of that responsibility in the struggle for the preservation of faith, which, first of all, is borne by the clergy, and then by the monks and the laity.

In those days, the heresy of monothelitlism reigned everywhere [56] (nowadays, unfortunately, the worst of all heresies — ecumenism — reigns everywhere) and the entire episcopate of the powerful Church of Constantinople obeyed the emperor and patriarch, who supported the heretics. There was only one monk who was 'rebellious' - the Monk Maximus. (Surely he was also known in his time as a rebel and disobedient, as even today opponents of ecumenism are accused of disturbing and scandalizing the flock with their words.)

Patriarch Peter [57] condemned St. Maximus for disobedience to the Church and threatened him with punishment. The monk replied that the Church is the right confession of faith, the truth of the Church, from which he would never fall away, and that the one who obeys the Church is not the one who changes the truth, but rather the one who protects it. 

Here is a small excerpt from this dialogue:

The patriarch addressed the confessor with the words: “What church are you part of? Constantinople, Rome, Antioch, Alexandria, or Jerusalem? Here are all [these Churches] with the dioceses subject to them [united]. So, if you, as you say, belong to the Catholic Church, then unite [with everyone] so that, introducing a new and strange way, you will not be exposed to what you do not expect. ”

The saint replied to him in a manner worthy of his wisdom and piety: “God declared to everyone the righteous and saving confession of faith in Him, by the Catholic Church, calling Peter blessed for confessing Him. However, I want to know the condition (confession) on which the unification of all the Churches took place, and if this is done well, I will not alienate myself.”

Seven hundred years later, St. Gregory Palamas, who certainly knew the position of Maximus the Confessor, even more strictly stated that only those who accept the truth of the Church belong to the Church; those who are disobedient to this truth can in no way make up the Church, and have nothing to do with it. Such people engage in self-deception, even if they call themselves priests or bishops. Genuine and true Christianity is characterized and determined, not by individuals, but by immutable truth and adamant faith:

“And those who are from the Church of Christ are of the truth, and those who are not of the truth, they are not from the Church of Christ, however much they may lie about themselves and call themselves holy shepherds and archpastors, even if others also call them this. After all, we remember that Christianity is determined not by appearance, but by the truth and accuracy of faith.”

By carefully studying the works of St. Maximus the Confessor and his views, we can learn a lot that would be to our interest, but we will turn only to those facts that are vivid examples of good disobedience. 

Saint Maximus "sobbed and was gripped by the deepest sorrow", seeing how the heresy of monothelitism, supported by the state and church authorities, spread to the West and East. Therefore, he left the Church of Constantinople and went to Rome, which was not defiled by this heresy, and “pure from such a shame.” “Having left these places, he arrived there, defending the doctrine and following Orthodoxy there, although not without difficulty, and not without fatigue and torment did he follow such a path.”

On the way to Rome, the monk visited church communities in Africa in order to support and strengthen the Orthodox, communicated with local bishops, strengthening the Chalcedonian faith in them [58], arming them with arguments against heretics, passing on his knowledge and experience. After all, he perfectly understood that to confront the heretics, church dignity is not enough — theological knowledge and rich experience are necessary. (Now, some believe that after the episcopal ordination they become skilled theologians and therefore require absolute obedience to themselves.)

Being a simple hieromonk, he was superior to any archpastor in wisdom and judgment. Therefore, the hierarchs obeyed him. “After all, even if they were higher in position, they were lower in wisdom and understanding, not to mention the other virtues and the good glory that this man enjoyed among all. Therefore, they yielded to his words and unquestioningly obeyed his exhortations and advice, which brought them such a great benefit. ”

Having entered the Diocese of Constantinople for the second time in 654, the Monothelitic Patriarch Pyrrhus [59] again returned to his heretical convictions, although before, after his conversation with the Monk Maxim, he had publicly condemned the heresy. Now he tried in every possible way to break the will of the saint, “thinking that if he subjugates him, then he will subjugate everyone else.”

Therefore, despite the advanced years of the ascetic (at that time he was eighty years old), St. Maximus was subjected to indescribable humiliation and torment, together with his disciple Anastasius, as well as Pope St. Martin [60] and other Western hierarchs who were forcefully brought to Constantinople.

With the help of a false, crudely concocted accusation, at multiple meetings, heretical bishops tried to break the confessor and intimidate him, but all their efforts were in vain. Threats and flattery interspersed with interrogations did not intimidate or seduce the saint, who remained faithful to the Truth and “completely adamant, firm and unshakable in spirit.”

Therefore, the heretic, Bishop Theodosius of Kessaria, made another attempt to convince the saint, saying that they completely agreee with him and that they were not changing the creed, but acting so solely for reasons of oikonomia [61]. “What appeared for the sake of oikonomia should not be taken as a true dogma, just as the tipos now offered to us appeared under the pretext of oikonomia, and not in accordance with the dogmas.”

The Venerable Maximus answered that there was no room for oikonomia and compromise in matters of faith, and those who try to justify their deviation from the purity of the Orthodox teaching by oikonomia, are liars who should not only not be obeyed, but, on the contrary, should be turned away in every way, so that through fellowship with them one does not participate in their wickedness.

“This comes from false teachers and deceivers, who should not be trusted, but shoud be evaded as far as possible, and one should move away from them so that he does not become a victim of any evil from communicating with them.”

No methods or tricks could break the saint, who declared: “All the power of heaven will not convince me to obey you, for what I will bring as my justification (I do not mean to God, but to my conscience), if for the sake of human glory, which is nothing, I renounced the Faith that saves me? ” (Today, heretical hierarchs, in pursuit of human glory, having completely forgotten about God and their conscience, are calling us to implicit obedience, forcing us to submit to ecumenism.)

And finally: in the life of the Venerable Maximus it is told how, with the beginning of the spread of heresy, “the emperor left the correct teaching, and much of the Church with him, and a considerable part of the people turned to heresy." In the end, the only patriarch to be faithful to Orthodoxy was Saint Sophronius of Jerusalem [62], around whom the Orthodox, clergy and laity were able to rally: “The whole priesthood and the Orthodox people gathered around him.”

(God grant that in our days the Lord would show the world at least one patriarch or two or three bishops, spotless from the shame of ecumenism, so that “the priesthood and the Orthodox people” could unite around them.)

In conclusion, I would like to emphasize the enormous contribution that the holy fathers made to the formation of a healthy relationship between the Church and the Byzantine state, first of all, their zeal in preventing "an emperor-pope" [63], and also their efforts to establish a symphony [64] between the Church and the state.

Thus, St. Maximus, condemned for his words that “it is unjust and ridiculous to call the king a priest,” explains that in reality he only formulated and expressed the Church’s position on this issue, according to which “accepting definitions and talking about dogmas are more appropriate to priests than kings. Since they are allowed to perform the ritual of anointing and ordaination, to make the offering of bread, to stand before the altar, and to fulfill all the rest of the Divine mysteries."

5. The Venerable Theodore the Studite 

The lives of Saints Maxim and Theodore [65] are somewhat similar. The Venerable Theodore was also a simple hieromonk (by the way, so was St. John of Damascus [66], who crushed the iconoclasts - the patriarchs and hierarchs. Maybe some people believe that he also was disobedient to the Church?). But it was St. Theodore the Studite who had to defend the truth in two important and serious Church and theological issues of that time, while the official church, represented by the patriarch and the synod, compromised and made concessions, thereby abolishing and overthrowing the Gospel, the Holy Canons and Tradition in general.

The first problem arose in connection with the second marriage of the autocrat Constantine VI [67], and the second as a result of the iconoclastic [68] policy of the emperors Leo V [69] and Michael II. [70] 

For no good reason, Emperor Constantine hid his legal wife in a monastery and began to demand a church blessing for marriage with his beloved Theodota.

However, divorce and second marriage are prohibited by the gospel and church canons. As you know, the Lord Himself abolished the ease with which the law of Moses allowed divorce (which was not always to the woman's benefit), completely forbidding divorce for any reason, except in the case of marital infidelity - “except for the fault of adultery” (Matt. 5:31–32). Thus, Christ taught about the permanence of marriage: “So what God has joined, let not man separate” (Matthew 19:3-10).

Therefore, the emperor’s second marriage, which was nevertheless consecrated by the presbyter Joseph [71] when Saint Tarasius finally gave way, was considered by the Venerable Theodore not as a marriage, but as "adultery", and the one who performed the marriage was not a priest, but an "adulterer." However, the ascetic not only did not approve of the king’s second marriage, considering him “outside the divine and human institutions,” but also immediately condemned this act, interrupting church communion with both the “adulterer” himself and those who were in communion with him — with the ruler himself and even with the patriarch.

The saint explained that this lawlessness overthrows the Gospel and abolishes the holy canons; it is nothing more than an attempt to change the unchanging commandments of God and make them changeable, which makes God Himself changeable and perverse:

“Justifying this daily with the above references and exceptions, they really violated the Gospel, according to the judgment of the saints, and it is suggested that for every crime there is oikonomia, in order to change the unchanging commandments of God and make them changeable ... It follows from this that God is changeable and perverse. It’s as if someone had bluntly said that the Gospel is indifferent to salvation and perdition.”

In another place, St. Theodore, referring to the opinion of St. Basil about the immutability of the commandments, wrote:

“So, the commandments of God are said by true teachers to be necessarily observed, and not perverted so that they may be observed, or not observed — to observe such and such, or sometimes not, or sometimes to observe it, and sometimes not. God's commandments must always be observed, by every person and at all times.”

The saint rightly believed that if one did not condemn this adultery, then the example of the Roman emperor[72] could also bring evil to other rulers of the state, and also serve as a bad example outside the empire, being passed down from generation to generation as an incurable disease: 

“So the king of the Lombards, and the king of the Goths, and the governor of the Bosphorus, referring to this violation of the commandment, indulging in depraved aspirations and unrestrained desires, will hold up the act of the Roman emperor as a convenient excuse, since he fell into the same sin, having received the consent of the patriarch and the bishops."

However, it was not the emperor’s sinful act, but the bluntness and boldness of the abbot of the Studion monastery, St. Theodore, that served as a model for other bishops, elders and monks. Having ascertained that the position of the saint in all respects agreed with the Gospel, they excommunicated those who, within their jurisdiction, did such lawlessness, belittling and devaluing Tradition. “It is not permissible for you to have wives contrary to laws decreed by Christ,” they echoed after St. Theodore, echoing what Saint John the Baptist, the patron saint of the Studion, said to Herod: “You must not have your brother’s wife” (Mark 6:18).

A fearless defender of Tradition, the Venerable Theodore was well aware that this standing up for the truth could cost him a lot. He understood that not only he, but also all the inhabitants of the famous Studion Monastery could suffer for their firm determination in upholding their convictions. However, in spite of everything, St. Theodore boldly continued to uphold the truth, for which he was ready to sacrifice everything.

Therefore, he despised his peace and the peaceful spiritual work of his quiet monastery. He was not afraid of suffering, difficulties, or intimidation; he was not seduced by promises and bribes. For he considered the defense of Gospel truth to be above everything else in the world, the distortion of which will certainly entail the most serious consequences for spiritual life and salvation itself.

Soon, in fact, he was sent into exile, and the brethren were forcibly distributed to other monasteries. But although persecution was raised up against the Venerable Theodore, he did not suffer in vain, because his words and deeds ultimately restrained the spread and aggravation of evil. “For passions that are left without punishment constantly strive for the worst, like vipers.”

However, the saint suffered even more torment, from the severity of which he was many times on the verge of death, when he confronted the iconoclast emperors.

Leo V resumed the iconoclastic debate and erected new persecutions against the monks, especially against the main "instigator" — the Abbot of Studion, St. Theodore. Unfortunately, some bishops who agreed with the heretic king were immediately found, while others, unable to withstand the pressure, were forced to obey him. Therefore, when the ruler convened a council (815), which was to make a final decision regarding icon veneration, almost all the clergy and the monks were on his side.

At a meeting of the council, the king set forth his point of view, calling the veneration and worship of holy icons idolatry. In response to this, the icon-loving fathers expressed an Orthodox position, stating at the end that it would be wrong and completely against the Scriptures for them to continue sitting and discussing things with them, having ascertained that they were heretics. “It would be a great blessing for us, having learned that you are such people, to stop meeting with you. After all, the divine David would agree with us, saying that he would neither sit in a vain meeting, nor enter with the lawless, nor gather in the church of the evil ones. ”

After such a unanimous declaration, the Venerable Theodore "showed yet greater and more obvious courage." Despite the fact that the patriarch himself was present at the cathedral (the ruler did not succeed in subjugating him either) and there were other hierarchs who disagreed with the heresy and strongly opposed it, it was Saint Theodore, a simple hieromonk, who undertook to completely refute the king's arguments, since he was the most educated and virtuous among those present. “He was the first to speak because of the greatness of his speech and virtue.” (After all, it is not consecration by itself that makes a bishop a skilled theologian.)

The Monk Theodore, as the best of the theologians, irrefutably proved the necessity of the veneration of holy icons. Moreover, calling the heretics humanoid beasts, and their words and behavior deadly, he advised, as far as possible, to distance oneself from them and not even to meet with them at all, because with heretics "to talk is not only unnecessary, but simply harmful."

The emperor was enraged by the uncompromising position of the Venerable Theodore. He suppressed his anger with difficulty and, showering the confessor of Christ with abuse and ridicule, said with irony that they should meet again and continue the polemic, since he did not want to give St. Theodore a martyr's crown.

The general position of the icon-worshipers regarding the king’s proposal to meet again to discuss this issue is of great importance for us, since it clearly indicates the futility of continuing theological dialogues with the so-called heterodox, as the heretics are now respectfully called. The Holy Fathers believed that talking with those who were already condemned by the Church was meaningless, since they were completely immune to the truth, unable to accept it:

“After all, it’s useless to talk to the accused again, because they are deaf to the perception of the best things and incorrigible in everything."

In addition, the ascetic was perplexed: why had the emperor called them to the cathedral to discuss the issue, if the outcome was already predetermined in advance? After all, the discrepancy in the positions of the parties and the lack of an objective judge, able to impartially judge and make the right decision, did not portend anything else. And who would go against the will of the sovereign? After all, almost all fell under the power of the king, unable to withstand threats and fearing persecution.

The Venerable Theodore also reminded the autocrat, as other great fathers had done before him, that rulers should not interfere in church affairs, since this is the sphere of the clergymen. "The questions of the Church belong to priests and teachers, but the emperor is allowed to manage external affairs."

When the autocrat in fury asked the saint: “Are you then casting me out of the Church today?” - the fearless ascetic answered that he did not do this, but the holy apostle Paul, who says that the Lord placed, firstly, the apostles, secondly, the prophets, and thirdly, teachers, but not kings (see Ephesians 4:11–12). And, perhaps, the emperor himself set himself outside the Church by his actions: “And of course, you yourself, by doing what you yourself wish, have put yourself out [of the Church].” If he wanted to return to the bosom of the Church, he must support those who stand up and follow the truth: “If you want to be inside the Church once more, then stand with us who honor the truth."

These dialogues are of exceptional interest to us because they answer the question: “Who really excommunicate themselves from the Church: those who do not obey heretics and heretical archpastors and rulers, or those who separate themselves from the truth of the Gospel and the dogmas of faith?"

Not ceasing to make terrible threats, the hierarchs and rulers, assuring themselves that they could not make the Venerable Theodore and his like-minded people obedient to their errors, began to make every effort to ensure that they at least shut up. Thus, the eparch of Constantinople forbade the adherents of the saint to get together, demanding them "not to teach or talk about the faith at all." (The opinion that ordinary believers, and monks, too, should not deal with issues of faith, is very common in our days, since it continues to be actively introduced into the minds of people.)

The Venerable Theodore replied to this in the same way that the apostles answered the rulers of the Jews: “You be the judge: is it right before God to listen to you more than to God?” (Acts 4:19). (Therefore, we would rather prefer to lose our tongues than to stop defending the Orthodox faith, to the best of our ability to help it with our own words. It would be something strange and unreasonable if we, seeing some efforts to increase dishonesty, were sitting idly by at this time: “What is the reasonable basis for you strive to hold on to the worst and to remain silent about that which is much better?”)

As regards the question, should one speak and stigmatize evil, or is it better to remain silent, being obedient to the bishops and priests, Saint Theodore is clear — when the faith is in danger, no one should remain silent, but speak. No one can justify themselves by saying that "I’m not an archpastor or a shepherd, or even some important person, but just a simple person." — “For the commandment of the Lord is not to remain silent at a time when faith is in danger. “Speak,” He said, “and do not be silent” (Acts 18:9). “But if anyone hesitates, my soul does not favor it” (Heb. 10: 38). And again: “If they become silent, then the stones will cry out” (Luke 19:40). So, when it comes to faith, you should not say, “Who am I?

When a teaching of the Church is distorted and Christ is persecuted, in this case, when they were fighting against the holy icons, not only “he who has an advantage in rank and knowledge, [...] but also he who holds the place of a disciple, must boldly speak the truth and freely open their mouth." After all, heretics are seeking to ensure that the word of truth is not heard anywhere, but that error should reign everywhere.

If silence alone is already partly a sign of consent, then the written approval of heretical opinions in the face of the whole Church is already a betrayal of Orthodoxy. Unfortunately, today we have become unwitting witnesses of such betrayal - through the adopted documents and written decisions, the heresy of heresies - the wickedness of ecumenism - is spreading and dominating in our days.

No one is required to be in obedience to bishops and synods, when they are not faithfully teaching the word of truth. So, when the Council in 809 forgave the "adulterous" hieromonk Joseph, removing the ban from the priesthood and taking him into the clergy of the Church of Constantinople, the Venerable Theodore stopped all communication with the false teachers. And he didn’t mention any of those present at this “adulterous” council or who shared the opinion of its participants, for he rightly believed that “this adulterous heresy”, together with the perversion of the Gospel, violates and abolishes the holy canons.

Not only did he himself did not abide in obedience, but he also advised others to show disobedience and to stop the commemoration of heretics and their accomplices, for heretics and those who are in communion with them are not the Church:

“So that you, knowing that this is a heresy, avoid heresy or heretics, so that you may not have fellowship with them and may not commemorate them at the Divine Liturgy in the sacred monastery; for great threats are uttered by the saints to those who participate with heretics, even for those who eat with them. ”

From these and other similar statements it follows that the termination of communion for the Venerable Theodore meant not just some criticism or censure of the deed, but precisely the termination of the liturgical commemoration of the name of the bishop.

Thus, the heretical synagogue is not the Church; heretics and those in communion with them can in no way constitute the Church. Therefore, based on the centuries-old patristic Tradition, according to which the Church exists where there is truth, and also on the words of the Lord that He dwells where two or three gather in His name (Matthew 18:20), the Venerable Theodore argued that three Orthodox Christians can make up the Church:

“We will not submit the to this disturbance of the Church of God, which itself may consist of three Orthodox Christians, as defined by the saints.”

Thus, we, being Orthodox, are not only not obliged to obey those clerics who teach who-knows-what, defining new dogmas and offering hitherto unknown teachings, but we shouldn't even commemorate them as clergy:

“We have a command from the apostle himself, that if anyone teaches or commands us to do something other than that we have adopted, something other than that which is according to the rules of the Ecumenical and Local Councils, that one should not be accepted and we should not consider him to be among the saints; we shall not utter that painful word that he uttered. "

Let us cite another episode concerning the confrontation between the Venerable Theodore the Studite and his disciples, and those who demanded obedience to their errors.

So, when the emperor set out to justify and restore the “adulterous” hieromonk Joseph [73] at the council, the studites resolutely opposed this again, despite all the torment they suffered during the first persecution of the truth.

Wanting to persuade the studite monks to switch to his side, the king gathered them in the palace in order to speak with them. Having singled out the most prominent and educated monks, the king tried to persuade them to break with the Venerable Theodore, their spiritual mentor (whom he had previously exiled to one of the Prince Islands [74]). But all his attempts were unsuccessful, since these arguments were completely rejected by them. Then, going to the monastic assembly, he used the following trick: he suggested that those who wished to obey his advice “and be in communion with the patriarch and the collegiate church” should stand at his right hand, and those who persisted and remained unconvinced should stand on his left hand. He thought that with such a trick he would be able to mislead them, and lead those who had left everything in the world for the sake of divine obedience, "for a divine, obedient, immaculate life" to obey him. 

But, the monks, all in one accord, did not hesitate to stand on his left hand, the autocrat, amazed by such a “bold confession,” became enraged and ordered for all the monks to be sent to the nearest monasteries, “so that they would be protected by reliable guards as those who did not obey the royal and priestly orders."

The Venerable Theodore the Studite († 826), having made an invaluable contribution to finally bringing the Triumph of Orthodoxy, did not live to see this joy, presenting himself to the Lord shortly before the Council in 843, at which the veneration of icons of the saints was finally restored by the righteous Queen Theodora [75].

Another saint, the Venerable John of Damascus († 754), who worked hard to bring the Church to the triumph of the 7th Ecumenical Council (787), also did not see the fruits of his vigorous struggle for truth in the first period of iconoclasm. 

But this triumph of Orthodoxy was made possible largely thanks to their activities aimed at supporting the Orthodox faith among monks, against whom the iconoclasts fiercely rebelled. For the monks alone, in contrast to the often pliable and secular church authorities, always led the struggle for the purity of faith. 

If the church hierarchy even today, as well as the monastics, would fight against all innovations and deviations from the truth in the same way as the Venerable Theodore the Studite did, then not only would a third marriage not be recognized and blessed, but even a second marriage; and the matter would never have reached the acceptance and recognition of non-Orthodox marriages. Some of our clergy (especially celibates) would never have become a laughing stock and shame for Orthodoxy, would not have become so sadly like the Catholics - with their licentiousness and depravity. The Greek Prime Minister [76], having a legal spouse and children, would never have dared to appear on the plane with his mistress in front of all honest people! (And after all, not a single word of indignation or condemnation of the act of the head of government was heard from the lips of the church; mouths were firmly shut because of moral squalor and spiritual decline.)

The most regrettable thing is that most of the inhabitants living comfortably in the cloisters, generously financed by the state and the European Union, as well as by the donations of believers, reassure themselves by saying that they pray, fulfilling their spiritual duty — and yet at this time the Orthodox faith is overthrown, and ecumenism and the accompanying permissiveness and licentiousness strengthen their position.

In one of his epistles, St. Theodore the Studite refers to such indifferent monks who do not dare to join the struggle for truth, because they value quiet monastic residence above all else (the situation is painfully familiar — after all, much of the same thing happens today): “And why do we prefer current prosperity to God’s habitations and suffering for the good?”

It turns out that many people prefer a quiet, carefree life in monasteries, rather than obedience to the commandments of God. Those who hide behind the walls of the cloisters and, having monastic posts, prefer to sit back when it is necessary to defend the truth — they betray the faith and destroy their souls, which are more precious than anything.

Thus, it is not enough for us to be Orthodox only deep down in our souls — it should also be externally manifested. In this regard, the Venerable Theodore edifies one of the abbots:

“Therefore, beloved brother, if you want to be with us, the humble, then refuse to own the monastery, as you promised; to this we encourage you. Pray that you will be Orthodox both internally and externally, saving your venerable soul, which cannot be compared to any visible thing. ”

From all this it follows that many spiritual fathers, abbesses and elders should not remain inactive and serene, keeping their children from participating in the struggle against ecumenism, the receptacle of all heresies and delusions. After all, such a position runs counter to the whole history of Orthodox monasticism. So, when Emperor Anastasius [77], who was attached to the Eutychian [78] and Manichaean [79] heresies, decided to support the sinfulness of the Monophysites, the Venerable Savva [80] and Theodosius “ardently rebelled in defense of the faith, . . . they were ready to suffer death  rather than change anything that had been ordained." 

Saint Theodore is no exception. When speaking at the iconoclastic council he boldly professed his faith, and no one was able to persuade him to change it. Nothing could shake the faith of the saint or convince him to remain in obedience to the heretics and in fellowship with them - he even preferred to die rather than give up his convictions: “Finally, no matter how much the rulers wish it, our humility is more likely to suffer to death than renounce our sincere confession.”

The monks should show such constancy and strength in their faith, resolutely resisting even the slightest innovation or deviation from the faith. This is their job. 

“So, those who now profess to be monks, let them show it by their deeds. The monk’s business is to prevent even the slightest innovation in the Gospel, so that, having shown the laity what heresy and fellowship with heretics is, they may not be held accountable for their destruction.”

Thus, the zealot of Tradition also points to their responsibility, especially with regard to not setting bad examples for the laity - for if the monk does not count everything other than Christ to be garbage, then what should a lay person with certain responsibilities to his family do? “If the monastics do not consider everything to be garbage, that they may gain Christ” (Phil. 3:8), that is, the monasteries and everything that is in them, then how will the layman be able to leave his wife, children, and everything else for Christ?” And finally: from the life of St. Theodore the Studite it becomes obvious to everyone that knowledge of the Church Tradition is not of such great value, as is firm adherence to the Tradition and observance of everything that was received from the Holy Fathers. How right they were when they taught absolute steadfastness in matters of faith, and completely excluded even the slightest deviation in dogmatic and moral issues.

It was this unshakable standing up for the truth that kept our faith in pristine purity right up to the 19th century. Further on, unfortunately, the dominance of the modernist spirit, the brainchild of Western Enlightenment, was universally established. And then, from the beginning of the 20th century, the greatest of all heresies, ecumenism, gradually spread, which today has almost completely prevailed, having seized the minds of the representatives of the official Church and gaining unlimited access to church educational institutions.

All of this led to the rejection of Tradition, even the Gospel itself. It led to dogmatic and moral minimalism. Vivid examples of this are the attempts [81] to prove the Orthodox Christianity of the Monophysites Dioscorus [82] and Severus [83] and declaring that the Catholic Church is a sister church. In moral life, it is a justification of premarital relations and even a discussion about the possibility of recognizing same-sex marriage.

6. The Venerable Symeon the New Theologian and St. Mark of Ephesus

And finally, we give the opinions of the Venerable Simeon the New Theologian [84] and St. Mark of Ephesus [85] on this topic.

Addressing future monks, the Venerable Simeon advises them to be very careful and attentive in choosing an elder who can be their teacher, whom they will obey and whose will they will submit to. For there is a high probability of meeting an inexperienced and passionate mentor, and, instead of learning angelic living, they will be taught the ways of the devil, “for good teachers have good lessons and bad teachers have bad lessons; bad fruit always grows from bad seeds." 

With tears and many pleas, we should ask the Lord to send us an impassive and holy spiritual leader. But if we find such a person (which is very difficult), it seems to us that each of us needs to carefully examine the Holy Scriptures and the creations of the Holy Fathers, so that, having them as a foundation, we can judge what the spiritual father teaches and does, and how he acts in certain situations. And then we will only be obedient to that which is in agreement with Scripture; that which turns out to be contrary to it should be dismissed as false and alien. This is absolutely necessary and even urgent, because in our time there have been many deluded people and false teachers.

“With prayers and tears, implore God to send you a passionless and holy leader. Search the Divine Scriptures themselves, and especially the active scriptures of the holy fathers, so that comparing them with what your teacher and abbot teach, you can, as in a mirror, see how much they agree among themselves, and then you may accept and agree with that which agrees with the Divine Scriptures, and bring it to heart, while you should put aside that which does not agree with the Scriptures, judging what is good, that you may not be seduced. For you know that in these days there are many deceivers and false teachers. ”

Previously, St. John Climacus [86] gave the same instruction to  novices, in order to avoid the danger of obedience to an evil elder:

“Test this helmsman, so that we may not receive a simple rower instead of the helmsman, a sick person instead of a doctor, a passionate person instead of one who is free from passions, or the abyss instead of the harbor,  and thus we may not readily fall into perdition. "

Thus, the saints are united in the opinion that obedience should not be given without thought, but with discernment; one should not obey all spiritual mentors, but only the saints and those who are dispassionate, and even then, after an attentive test of the words and deeds of the spiritual father, based on patristic teaching...

In one of his epistles, the holy apostle Paul instructs us:

“Brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, we command you to depart from every brother who acts disorderly, and not according to the tradition that you received from us” (2 Thess. 3:6).

Therefore, for example, Abba Pimen ordered one ascetic to immediately stop studying with his elder, since continually living together with him would be harmful for the monk's soul, because his spiritual father had violated the morals of the Church Tradition.

The compiler of the life of the Venerable Symeon and his closest disciple, Saint Nikitas Stithatos [87], reports one interesting detail for us. In order to completely surrender to the Divine Hesychia — silence and contemplation, the Venerable Symeon transferred the spiritual leadership of kinovia [88] to his associate Arseny and encouraged the monks to remain obedient to the new abbot, bearing in mind the commandment of the holy Apostle Paul: “Obey your teachers and be humble” (Heb.13:17). But at the same time, the saint clarifies that such obedience should be with reasoning, and not at all unquestioning or absolute:

“And in everything that does not contradict the commandment of God, the apostolic decrees and rules, you must in every way obey him and submit to him as to the Lord. But in everything that threatens the Gospel and the laws of the Church, one should not obey his instructions and commands, nor even an angel, if he suddenly came down from heaven, preaching to you something other than what the visionaries of the Word preached (see: Gal.1:8)".

A necessary condition for submission and obedience to any elder is his spirituality. Only if we are convinced that our mentor is in communion with the Holy Spirit should we be in unquestioning obedience to him. Otherwise, we do not obey God, but man, and become not servants of God, but slaves of people.

Those spiritual fathers who, not being vessels of the Holy Spirit, pretend to be saints, lead many to perdition. In vain will some recall the Venerable Zacharias or Acacius, who were obedient to inexperienced elders. After all, they achieved salvation only due to the fact that they worked according to the advice of other spiritual fathers, and therefore could remain in external obedience to those “insufficient” elders. However, this is an extraordinary case...

Saint Mark of Ephesus went down in history as a fearless confessor, a fighter for the purity of Orthodox teachings and a fierce opponent of Catholicism, as an antipapist (as St. Athanasius of Paris calls him in his book of the same name [89]). And hardly anyone would dare to reproach him for insubmission and disobedience because he was the only one of the whole bishopric of Constantinople who did not obey the decisions of the Ferraro-Florentine Uniate Council [90] and preserved the truth of Orthodoxy, despite all the humiliations and insults from the Catholics and Latin Orthodox (which are nothing more than the likeness of the current ecumenists).

Nevertheless, “intelligent” ecumenists try to distort the face of St. Mark and distort historical reality itself,  in order to justify their close and constant contacts with the Catholics and their loyal attitude towards the pope, they boldly and illegally appeal to the saint, referring to what St. Mark said, addressing the Roman pontiff with a welcoming speech at the very beginning of the council. 

Indeed, the Metropolitan of Ephesus, like the whole Orthodox delegation, still had good hope that they would nevertheless be able to convince the Catholics to publicly renounce their errors and accept the truth of the Orthodox faith. Therefore, with great reasoning and, undoubtedly, oikonomia for the sake of himself, he really spoke very courteously and meekly at the opening of the council in order to honor and respect the pope and, if possible, attract the lost sheep.

But during the long meetings of the council, Saint Mark became convinced that the Catholics, despite the many theological arguments given by him, were completely embroiled in heresy and persistent in their delusions. He saw that egoism, complacency and arrogance reigned supreme. He was convinced of the secular way of thinking of the Latins, their worldly mentality and lust for power. And after that, the saint, despite the fact that the work of the council was still ongoing, resolutely declared to the Orthodox delegation, “that the Latins are not only schismatics, but also heretics. And our Church kept silent about this, due to the fact that their tribe is great and stronger than ours."

In response to this, some said: "The difference between us and the Latins is small, and if we want, may easily be corrected."

When the saint noticed that the difference was actually quite big, they answered him: “This is not heresy, and you cannot call it heresy, for none of the educated and holy men have called it heresy”.

And then St. Mark categorically uttered:

“This is a heresy, and our predecessors also thought so, but they did not want to expose the Latins as heretics, waiting for their conversion and caring for the preservation of love; and if you want, I will show you that they considered them heretics. " 

The confessor asserted the same thing in one of his epistles:

“We turned away from them, as from heretics, and therefore disassociated ourselves from them ... It is clear that they are heretics, and we cut them off as heretics.”

Thus, Catholicism is a heresy - this is the unanimous assessment of the holy fathers and teachers of the Church since the time of St. Photius [91]. Therefore, the continuation and immutability of this unanimous patristic position - the so-called consensus of the fathers (consensus Patrum) [92] - is a cause of great damage and considerable harm to the current hierarchs (and even the most senior ones) who claim that Catholicism is not heresy at all, but the Catholic Church is not just a church, but also a "sister." (This happens either because of ignorance, which, however, is healed by knowledge, or by conviction and as a result of Latin wisdom - and then this state is completely hopeless and irreparable.)

By this they derogate the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, for the undeniable fact is called into question that it alone is the Church of Christ in which the salvation of believers is possible, and also the eternal boundaries that our fathers laid down are destroyed.

Upon the return of the delegation from Florence and the enthusiastic meeting of St. Mark with the faithful of Constantinople, the Latin Orthodox (prototypes of the current ecumenists) sent him into exile on the island of Lemnos [93] (1440–1441), so as not to have in the person of the saint a barrier for the implementation of the decisions of the Uniate robber council, and so that his words would not be publicly proclaimed.

What did St. Mark do in this situation? Maybe he obeyed the Latin-minded Patriarch Mitrophan [94] and his successor Gregory [95] and continued to remember them at the service so that he would not be considered disobedient or the organizer of a schism [96]? (Those who neglect the Gospel and patristic truth and canonical rigor and prefer to please men rather than God would advise him to do just that.)

On the contrary, the archpastor, wise in divine and unshakable convictions, not only broke communion with the Latin people, but shortly before his blessed death, already on his deathbed, ordered that none of the heretical bishops or clergy and those who were in communion with them be at his burial, funeral services or memorial services. Thus, he wanted to save the believing people from any scandal or seduction, because, otherwise, it might seem from the side that behind the scenes, perhaps, by stealth, Saint Mark nevertheless recognized communion with the patriarch and his ilk.

The saint resolutely declared that he did not want to have anything in common with the Latin-minded either in this life or after his death, because he was convinced that the more he moved away from the patriarch and his ilk, the closer he came to God and His saints. In his dying words, Saint Mark says that all communication with the Latinists (read, ecumenists) should be broken until the Lord himself rules and makes peace in His Church:

“I will tell you about the patriarch, [97] so that he won’t think, perhaps, to show me some honor in burying my humble body or in funeral services for me, or to send one of his bishops, or clergy, or even any of who are in communion with him in order to take part in prayer or to join clergymen from our inheritance. They are not invited to attend these services, so that they may not think that I, perhaps, secretly commemorated him."

"And so that my muteness would not give anyone who does not know my views good reason to suspect some kind of agreement, I say and testify to the many worthy men that I absolutely and in no way want and do not accept communion with him or those who are with him, neither during my life nor after my death, as I do not accept either the former union, or the Latin dogmas, which he himself and his like-minded people accepted, and for the sake of which he took this presidency, with the goal of overthrowing the right dogmas of the Church."

"I am absolutely sure that as far as I stand from him and the like, I am so closer to God and all saints; and as far as I separate myself from them, I am thus far in unity with the truth and with the holy fathers, theologians of the Church; and I am also convinced that those who classify themselves with them [98] are far removed from the truth and the blessed teachers of the Church."

"And therefore I say: as during my whole life I have been separated from them, so during my departure, and even after my death, I turn away from communion and union with them, and swear oaths that none (of them) come closer neither to my burial, nor to memorial services for me, and also (and in relation) to someone else from our inheritance, with the aim of trying to join and serve in our (divine services), for this means to mix that which cannot be mixed; but it is fitting for them to be completely separated from us until God grants the correction and peace of His Church.”


This article is from chapter 4 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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