"Through 'Ecumenical Comradeship' and 'dialogues' with the heterodox, the spiritual immune system, which protects one from the virus of heresy, becomes progressively weaker, and eventually ceases to function altogether. . ."
Dr. Constantine Cavarnos, who reposed as a monk of St. Anthony's Greek Orthodox Monastery in 2011, revealed the presence of a deadly virus which sadly has infected, not only many "theologians" and seminaries, but even, alas,many of our Bishops and clergy. We must pray fervently that they all choose to recover before the "gates of salvation are closed" forever unto them.
One ponders: why is such "diligence" shown, on behalf of many ecclesiastical leaders, in combating the physical disease of our day - while many of them choose to ignore, embrace, and even spread the death-bearing spiritual virus described below? Don't our leaders love us and care for our salvation? Aren't they supposed to be our SPIRITUAL doctors?
Dr. Cavarnos declared the following (in 1996):
"'Doctrinal minimalism' consists in proposing that controversial points - that is, differences in doctrine - be considered 'non-essential' and therefore things not to be discussed in Ecumenical dialogues. This means putting aside the 'Doctrinal Approach,' ignoring faith as an essential issue to be dealth with, and focusing on secular issues.
'Relativism,' espoused in Ecumenical dialogues regarding religious doctrines, leads to the same thing. Dogmas or doctrines are lowered to the level of mere personal opinion or points of view, instead of being viewed as objective, universal truths, parts of the Divinely revealed Faith.
A very important fact to be noted in this connection is that exposure again and again through dialogues to this minimalistic, relativistic mentality has a blunting effect on the Orthodox phronema or mindset.
One becomes infected by the virus - or venom (ios -in Greek) as the Orthodox Church fathers call it - of heresy. This is why Saint Paul advises the Apostle Titus thus: 'A man that is a heretic (hairetikos anthropos - in Greek) after the first and second admonition abandon' (Titus 3:10).
Applying this counsel to the participation of the Orthodox in Ecumenical dialogues, it means that the Orthodox should limit their participation to one or two dialogues, no more. The Holy Fathers of the Orthodox Church abided faithfully by St. Paul's counsel, and taught their fellow Christians to do the same.
I might cite as examples St. Anthony the Great, St. Athanasios the Great, Abba Isaiah the Solitary, St. Ephraim the Syrian, and others. In his life of Saint Anthony, St. Athanasios say that Anthony regarded 'association with heretics as conductive to harm and perdition of the soul... Thus, the words of the Arians were, according to him, worse than the poison (ios) of serpents.'
Abba Isaiah the Solitary, who flourished around 370, advised: 'Guard yourself from dialogues (dialegesthai - in Greek) with heretics [on matters of the Faith] in which you endeavor to uphold the Faith, lest the venon (ios) os their disgraceful words smite you.'
St. Ephraim the Syrian, a contemporary of Isaiah the Solitary, makes reference to the question of association with heretics several times in his 'Ascetic Discourses', and gives the same counsel as the Apostle Paul and the already cited Holy Fathers.
Thus, he says: 'Do not associate with heretical men, for their words wound the heart like poisonous arrow (bele pharmakera - in Greek).'
Similar statements are scattered in the writings of later holy men of the Orthodox Chruch. Thus, Evgenios Voulgaris, one of the foremost Orthodox theologians of the 18th century, who after a distinguished career as an educator and theological writer in Greece served as Archbishop of Kherson in the Ukraine, makes this remark in his book 'Sketch Concerning Religious Tolerance':
'Do not run after the heterodox and invite them to doctrinal dialogues and discussions, which provoke irritations, disputations, and contentions, and no benefit... The pious Orthodox Christians must step forward in the struggle for the Faith only when this is called for by necessity. And he must be careful, protecting himself as much as he can from the poison of the heterodox, and avoiding having discussions with them [on the Faith], when he knows that they are lying in wait for him like snakes.'
Voulgaris' book in which these statements appear was first published in Leipzig in 1768. St. Nectarios, Metropolitan of Pentapolis (1846-1920), reprinted it in Alexandria in 1890 with the addition of many notes. In one of his notes Nectarios states that the text was reprinted with the greatest fidelity. He also remarks that this work is 'a brilliant treatise on religious tolerance, and a most truthful defense of the true religion of the Christian Greeks.' Everything in it, including the above quoted warnings of Voulgaris with regard to what are called today Orthodox 'Ecumenistic initiatives and participation in dialogues,' had St. Nectarios' whole-hearted approval.
The reason why St. Paul and the other holy men whom I have mentioned advise avoiding repeated religious dialogues with the heterodox is clearly the danger of being infected spiritually by heretical ideas - it is not to teach hatred towards the heterodox. Such ideas are compared to poison, to the venom of snakes, causing spiritual death.
According to the Holy Fathers of Orthodox Christianity, a heretical doctrine is a virus, a poison that leads to spiritual infection and results in spiritual death...
In the case of 'Ecumenism,' the same thing happens to the soul or mind of an individual. Through 'Ecumenical Comradeship' and 'dialogues' with the heterodox, the spiritual immune system, which protects one from the virus of heresy, becomes progressively weaker, and eventually ceases to function altogether. The sufferer from 'spiritual AIDS' becomes completely insensitive to doctrinal differences that distinguish Orthodoxy or true belief, from heresy or false belief.
The end result is spiritual death..."
From the book "Ecumenism Examined" by Constantine Cavarnos, 2011.
Source: Nicodemos Hagiorite
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