Written by Vladimir Moss


     The new calendarist theologian Fr. John Romanides has been called “the supreme theologian” of our time. However, he is “supreme” only in one thing: in the number of Orthodox dogmas he has distorted in a heterodox direction. The present writer has already published articles against his heretical teachings on Original Sin, on the Cross, on Heaven and Hell, on the Image of God in Man, on Revelation and the Word of God, not to mention his absurd and essentially racist historical theories…

     But his “supreme” heresy is probably that concerning God the Holy Trinity…

     Let us take one fairly lengthy passage from his Patristic Theology (Uncut Mountain Press, Dalles, Oregon, 2008, pp. 139-140) and comment on it:-

     “There are certain Orthodox theologians of Russian descent who claim that God is a personal God.”

     Thank God for Russian theologians! But Romanides should not underestimate the theologians of his own race – there are very many Greek theologians who believe in a personal God. As do 100% of the Holy Fathers!

     “They claim that God is not the God of philosophy, a construction of human philosophical thought, but that He is a personal God.”


     “Western tradition makes similar statements.”

     Yes indeed. Not everything in Western tradition is false.

     “But in Patristic tradition, God is not a personal God. In fact, God is not even God. God does not correspond to anything we can conceive or would be able to conceive.”

     The last statement is true, and on its basis a clever theologian, speaking pompously about apophatic theology and the unknowability of God in His essence, could perhaps justify the statement “God is not God”. Nevertheless, this is “theology” designed to shock rather than to edify. As such, it is very far from the patristic tradition.

     “The relationship between God and man is not a personal relationship and it is also not a subject-object relationship. So when we speak about a personal relationship between God and man, we are making a mistake. That kind of relationship between God and human beings does not exist. What we are talking about now has bearing on another error that some people make when they speak about a communion of persons and try to develop a theology based on a communion of persons using the relations between the Persons in the Trinity as a model. The relations between God and man are not like the relations between fellow human beings. Why? Because we are not on the same level or in the same business with God.”

     But God came down to our level, and made it His business to enter into a personal relationship with us in Christ. Nor did this relationship only begin to take place after the Incarnation, as Romanides goes on to say:

     What we have just said holds true until the Incarnation. However, after the Incarnation of God the Word, we can have a personal relationship with God by means of and on account of the Incarnation. But this relationship is with God as the God-man (as the Son of God and the Son of man).”

     God had a personal relationship with Adam and Eve before the Fall. He had a personal relationship with the patriarchs and prophets after the Fall. He spoke with Abraham and Jacob “face to face” (Genesis 32.20). He “spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend” (Exodus 33.11). He called David a man “after My own heart” (I Kings 13.13), and of Solomon He said: “I will be his Father, and he will be My son” (II Kings 7.14; I Chronicles 17.13). And David himself said of his relationship with God: “Thou hast held me by my right hand, and by Thy counsel hast Thou guided me, and with glory hast Thou taken me to Thyself” (Psalm 72.22).

     What are these if not deeply personal relationships? – and all before the Incarnation of Christ. Of course, the relationship between God and man has been raised to a new level now that sin has been abolished through the Cross and Baptism, we have received the Holy Spirit through Chrismation and have participated in the Body and Blood of Christ. But the relationship existed also before the Fall, albeit in an imperfect way. Even then, God entered into relationships of great intimacy and love with the Righteous of the Old Testament. To call such relationships “non-personal” is an abuse both of language and of the facts.

     What reason could Romanides have for denying that God is a Person(s) and that our relationship with Him is personal? The present writer can only speculate here, but the answer may lie in Romanides’ obsession with the distinction between the Essence and the Energies of God, according to which God is unknowable in His Essence, but knowable in His Energies. Now this is a valid and very important distinction, but Romanides abuses it as often as he uses it correctly. It would be an abuse, for example, to say that since God can only be known through His Energies, our relationship with Him can only be “energetic”, not personal. For Who is known through His Energies? Is it not the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit – that is, the Persons of the Holy Trinity? So our relationship with God is both “energetic” and personal: we know the Persons of God through His Energies. For, as St. Paul says, God has “shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God [His Energies] in the face of Jesus Christ [His Person]” (II Corinthians 4.6).

     “Since God became man, the Incarnation brought about a special relationship between God and man or Christ and man, a relationship that is nevertheless non-existent when we consider the Holy Trinity as a whole. We do not have a relationship with the Holy Trinity or with the uncreated Divinity that is like our relationship with Christ. In other words, our relationship with the Father or with the Holy Spirit is not like our relationship with Christ. Only with Christ do we have a personal relationship. The Holy Trinity came into personal contact with man only through the Incarnation, only through Christ. This relationship did not exist before the Incarnation, because we did not a relationship with God as we do with other people before the Incarnation…”

     This is the height of impiety and the destruction of the whole of Christianity! The whole essence of our faith lies in our belief in the Holy Trinity, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, and in the possibility of our entering into a perfect, eternal and personal union with all Three Persons of the One God. And all the Holy Scriptures and Holy Fathers proclaim that that union has in fact been achieved in the Church.

     God the Holy Trinity entered into a personal relationship with us already when He said: “Let US create man…” (Genesis 1.26). And all Three Persons showed that they were “in the same business” with us, as Romanides puts it, when they said: “Let US go down and confuse their language” (Genesis 11.7). And all Three Persons appeared to Abraham in the form of men (Genesis 18). For, as St. Gregory Palamas writes: “I shall remind you of Abraham’s most wonderful vision of God, when he clearly saw the One God in Three Persons, before He had been proclaimed as such. ‘The Lord appeared unto him by the oak of Mamre; and he lifted up his eyes and looked, and lo, three men stood by him: and he ran to meet them.’ He actually saw the One God Who appeared to him as Three. ‘God appeared to him,’ it says, ‘and lo, three men.’ Having run to meet the three men, however, he addressed them as one, saying, ‘My Lord, if now I have found favour in thy sight, pass not away from thy servant’. The three then discoursed with him as though they were one. ‘And he said to Abraham, Where is Sarah thy wife? I will certainly return unto thee about the same time of year: and Sarah thy wife shall have a son.’ As the aged Sarah laughed on hearing this, ‘the Lord said, Wherefore did Sarah laugh?’ Notice that the One God is Three Hypostases, and the Three Hypostases are One Lord, for it says, ‘The Lord said’.” (Homily Eleven, “On the Cross”, 9).

     If, even after the Incarnation, we can have a personal relationship only with Christ, and not with the Father and the Holy Spirit, why does Christ tell us to pray directly to the Father in the words: “Our Father…”? Why does He say: “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him” (John 14.23)? And why, when Philip asked, “Lord, show us the Father”, did the Lord reply: “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me?” (John 14.14).

     As for the Holy Spirit, why, if we do not have a personal relationship with Him, do we pray to Him at the beginning of the Divine services: “O Heavenly King, the Comforter, the Spirit of truth…”? Why did Christ call Him another Comforter, Who would “teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you” (John 14.25)? And why, if we do not have a personal relationship with the Holy Spirit, does the Apostle Paul say that it is precisely the Spirit Who teaches us to have a deeper personal, filial relationship with the Father; ”for you have received the Spirit of adoption, by Whom we cry out: ‘Abba, Father’” (Romans 8.16)?

      The “empirical theology” of Romanides is a many-headed hydra that strangles our faith at many points, and even strikes it at its very heart – the fact of our real, personal, empirically experienced communion with the One God in Three Persons. It is time for the true hierarchs of the Church, especially of the Church of Greece, where this heretic appeared, to investigate his teaching thoroughly and condemn it openly. Otherwise, they will become guilty of hiding the truth and allowing evil to triumph; for as Edmund Burke said: “For the complete triumph of evil it is sufficient only that good men do nothing...”

Vladimir Moss.

September 17/30, 2011.






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