Were the Saints Just Troublemakers?

St. Nicholas of Myra in Lycia slaps the heretic Arius in the face during the First Ecumenical Council, accusing Him of falsehood. St. Nicholas of Myra in Lycia slaps the heretic Arius in the face during the First Ecumenical Council, accusing Him of falsehood.     

Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Thus, the Holy Scriptures speak to us (Isa. 5: 20). Woe to those pastors of the Orthodox Church, who teach the opposite of Christ's commandments, and the patristic teaching. Unfortunately, that is exactly what the head of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, Archbishop Elpidophoros is doing, and with much more audacity.

In particular, His Eminence, Kyr[1] Elpidophoros declared:

“The heretics are not the papists, the Anglicans, the Protestants, etc. They were born that way, and we have to accept them as they are. The heretics are the belligerent and quarrelsome,[2] who don’t accept our Christian brothers.”[3][4]

His Eminence is preaching this idea to us, and many more things like it. And so, according to the doctrine of Elpidophoros, all the Saints of the Orthodox Church, who fought against heresies, are now apparently considered to be “troublemakers[5]”.

Were the Holy Apostles, who were fighting against all kinds of idolatry and heresy, “belligerent”? Was the apostle Paul “belligerent”, who called the heretics “grievous wolves[6]? Were the great Holy Fathers who fought relentlessly against the heresy of Arius, “bruisers”? Were our saints who resisted the wicked iconoclasts “pugnacious”?

Were the saints being belligerent when they fought against the heretic Nestorius and his kind, who insulted our Most Holy Theotokos? Are great saints like Patriarch Photios, Gregory of Palamas, and Mark of Ephesus quarrelsome for Elpidophoros?

Let us therefore allow His Eminence to answer, whether or not he considers the Saints we mentioned as being troublemakers. If he confesses that our saints who fought against heresy are not quarrelsome, then it follows that we who refuse to recognize heretics certainly cannot be troublemakers.

But if His Eminence professes that the saints we mentioned above were quarrelsome, then we too are quarrelsome, since we preach the teaching of these saints against every sect. And if—may it not be!—His Eminence does so profess, then he requires many a tearful intercession from the saints to recover from this devastating perversion.

Indeed, His Eminence also visited the great Elder Ephraim (now reposed) in Arizona, an ascetic of piety and a preacher of the Orthodox faith. This holy elder not only accomplished many ascetical feats, but also in everything else he was an opponent of ecumenism. And this means that he was both an adversary of His Eminence Elpidophoros and a "troublemaker"! And yet the Most Reverend Archbishop had the courage, or, more precisely, the boldness, to visit such an anti-ecumenist and “troublemaker”.

We ourselves are unable to interpret this diplomatic move, and would like to have it answered ourselves. Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter.

Was not the same thing happening, with our Lord Jesus Christ, whom the scribes and Pharisees accused of “deceiving the people[7] and being some kind of “troublemaker”? Then what do we expect, when the Lord Himself tells us: Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also (John 15:20)

No, my dears, have no illusions that for those of us who believe in Christ, our path will be paved with roses. No, it will not be that way, but our life will be just like that of our Lord Jesus Christ. Let those who will understand, understand.

Monk Arsenius, Mount Athos
Translation by Matfey Shaheen



[1] Kyr, direven from the Greek Kyrios, meaning lord, is in this context a title for a bishop, similar to the Slavonic Vladyka, which in Greek would more directly by Despota—Trans.

[2] In Greek, the words “οι καβγατζήδες”, as in the title of the article, can be translated several ways, as [the] “troublemakers”, “belligerent”, “quarrelsome”, “bruisers”, “Pugnacious”. In the Russian translation, it was rendered scandalizers, meaning those who cause affront or public dispute, scandal over something. In general, this can all refer to both physical conflict, as well as argument, and it implies a zealous person who is enraged or inflamed over an issue. There are several possible ways to translate it into English, primarily based on context.—Trans.

[3] Translated from the Greek original: αιρετικοί δεν είναι οι Παπικοί, οι Αγγλικανοί, οι Προτεστάντες κ.α. αυτοί έτσι γεννήθηκαν και πρέπει να τους δεχτούμε όπως είναι. Αιρετικοί είναι οι «καβγατζήδες», αυτοί που δεν δέχονται τους αδελφούς Χριστιανούς μας.—Trans.

[4] In order to demonstrate that this statement is not a novelty, but a position held in the Phanar, it serves to recall the statement of Patriarch Bartholomew to the Vatican, alluding that Orthodox are also guilty for the lack of union with Rome: “Those of our forefathers from whom we inherited this separation were the unfortunate victims of the serpent who is the chief of all evils; they are already in the hands of God, the righteous judge.” (Επίσκεψις, αρ. τεύχους 563 (1998), σελ. 4-8) See here:http://orthodoxinfo.com/ecumenism/athonite_bartholomew.aspx and here: https://jordanville.org/files/Articles/The-Recognition-of-the-Baptism-of-the-Heterodox-as-the-Basis-for-a-New-Ecclesiology-by-Protopresbyter-Peter-Heers-FINAL-Piraeus-March-23-2016.pdf

[5] See footnote 2.

[6] In Greek: λυκοι βαρεις. See Acts 20:29

[7] John 7:12

Benjamin4/10/2020 6:52 am
I knew something was off when Archbishop Demetrios suddenly stepped down and was replaced by His Eminence Elpidophoros. This happened right as I was entering the Church... it was upsetting to me. I used to watch Archbishop Demetrios' lectures, and he was a great inspiration for my conversion; he spoke like a man of God who loves Wisdom. I cannot say the same of His Eminence Elpidophoros; I've been inspired by nothing he says; he speaks like a politician :(
Jesse Dominick4/8/2020 10:37 pm
Isidora, what do you mean by “true Orthodox bishops?” It sounds like you’re advocating joining a schismatic group. If so, that would be not only fleeing from ecumenistic bishops, but fleeing from the Church itself, which, of course, the great St. Joseph the Hesychast and Elder Ephraim would not advise. St. Joseph’s stance was based precisely on the Lord revealing to him where to be, where the Church is. I doubt anything I say could change your mind, but that you would refer to such luminaries as hypocrites and white-washed tombs is sadly arrogant and blasphemous.
Isidora4/8/2020 2:31 pm
No one can be truly anti-ecumenist while still following bishops who commemorate the arch-ecumenist, Bartholomew, in Constantinople. Elder Ephraim started out anti-ecumenist, but like his Elder Joseph he was overcome and became a "conservative" follower of the ecumenists. Conservatives grizzle and complain about various abuses by their ecumenist leaders, but they stay with them, they don't switch their loyalty to true orthodox bishops, and they continue giving money to the ecumenists with which they grow ecumenism. The church fathers say to flee from such bishops (not stay and whine), so regardless of whatever virtues "conservatives" acquire, they sadly remain hypocrites and betray Christ's Church, Orthodoxy. "Conservatives" wind up being exact about the Church's external beauty, while subsidizing the internal decay. White-washed tombs comes to mind.
Gary Cox4/8/2020 2:18 pm
Pagans were born that way, yet Paul taught them the truth.
Gary Cox4/6/2020 2:38 pm
This coming from the man who many think will take Bartholomews place when he dies. Will our Patriarchs take a firm stand and do the right thing? Pray for our Patriarchs and Bishops to do the right thing for themselves and us all.
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