Ο ην απ’ αρχής, ο ακηκόαμεν, Ο εωράκαμεν… απαγγέλομεν υμίν. (1Jn. 1)

WHAT IS ORTHODOXY? Orthodoxy is correct practice (…the Way), correct dogma (…the Truth), correct knowledge of God (…eternal Life); the Word of God, the Word delivered, the Word transmitted; the Transmitter, the Tradition…Christ Himself.

And who is Orthodox? Orthodox are the holy Fathers and Mothers of our Church. These are the God-bearers, the Saints; Christified, deified; the rule and measure of Orthodoxy, because they have Him dwelling and abiding in themselves.

We who by the unspeakable goodness of Divine Providence have underservingly been counted worthy to inhabit the Holy Mountain Athos – this blessed Garden of our All-holy Lady Theotokos – have been vouchsafed in our turn to receive through our holy Fathers in God the divine Tradition of our Orthodox faith, the sacred deposit, the very Pearl of great price itself.

This Tradition we hold more valuable than all else, being as it is eternal Truth. To be sure, by virtue of its divine nature it is invulnerable and invincible; susceptible to errors are imperfect, unperfected human beings; some to make them, and others to suffer the sometimes enduring effects. Understandably, though, we view with apprehension anything that would purpose to alter or misrepresent the Tradition and undermine its authenticity, as a threat to the welfare of mankind which is saved only by the Truth.

Heeding the divine injunction which commands that he who loves God love his brethren also, we feel obliged to contribute to the preservation of the saving Truth within the human race, in the small measure of our own abilities. Hence, glorifying our all-benevolent God without whom we can accomplish nothing good, we proceed with the publication of the English version of Fr. George D. Metallinos’ enlightening study, I Confess One Baptism. We do so with sober joy and humble satisfaction, anticipating as we do the benefit to our contemporaries that this book will bring, inasmuch as we believe it is an accurate exposition and expression of our Orthodox Christian Tradition and of the patristic mind and teaching on the particular subject with it deals.

The original Greek text of I Confess One Baptism, published in 1983 and currently out of print, was written in Katharevusa [Greek], and many passages quoted therein are in an even older form of the Greek language. The author worked closely with our translator for meaning. Nevertheless something is inevitably lost in the translation, except perhaps the telltale signs of translation itself, for which (and every other shortcoming) we beg the indulgence of the discriminating reader.

This publication would have remained beyond the potentials of our Monastery had it not been for the cooperation of friends and supporters. We would like to thank Archimandrite Damian of the Monastery of the Glorious Ascension, Frs. Paisios and Benedict of Philotheou Monastery, Reader Vladimir Phelan, Mr. Demetrios Christaphacopoulos, and Miss Elizabeth Papps for their invaluable encouragement and assistance. The entire responsibility, however, for the form and content of this book lies exclusively with St. Paul’s Monastery.

Archimandrite Parthenios
St. Paul’s Monastery on the Holy Mountain
Sunday of the Holy Father of the Holy Mountain, 1994

Preface to the Greek Edition

In the theological dialogues of our time, the holy sacraments are the center of discussion. Much has been said in the precincts of the Ecumenical Movement about unity and agreement in the sacraments. It follows that this should be even more so the case with holy baptism, the sacrament by which entrance into the Church is accomplished. It is therefore absolutely necessary that the full extent of the patristic tradition’s position be sufficiently known in these discussions, so that the course of navigation towards the revealed and only salvific Truth always be discernable.

We selected the subject of the present study with this in mind, when we were very honored by the invitation to participate in the Theological Symposium sponsored by the Patriarchal Institute for Patristic Studies (PIPS), which is under the direction of Prof. Panayiotis Christou. The Symposium met from August 24 – 27, 1981 in Thessaloniki, Greece and the subject was the Second Ecumenical Council.

The first part of the present work, i.e., “The Interpretation of Canon VII of the Second Ecumenical Council by the Kollyvades and by C. Oikonomos of the Oikonomoi”, constituted the report which was read at the Symposium.  It was deemed necessary, however, to supplement the report with the historical dimension of the problem, i.e., the same writer’s teaching on the application of this Canon in the life of the Church.

Hence, it is from the bottom of our heart that we thank the PIPS for providing us with the occasion to compose the present work and also certain venerable fathers of the Holy Mountain who not only morally, but also materially contributed to its publication. The sure fact that the Holy Mountain in every age, and particularly today, continues to be the ark in which the Orthodox Holy- Spiritual way of life (hesychastic tradition) is preserved unaltered and the Orthodox Faith remains intact, serves to underline the importance of the Kollyvades Fathers of the Holy Mountain – and indeed St. Nikodemos who was surnamed Hagioritis, which means ‘resident of the Holy Mountain’ – as bearers and witnesses of Orthodox Tradition.

Protobresbyter George D. Metallinos
Epiphany, 1983

Preface to the English Edition

The writing of this study was occasioned by a specific event relevant to today’s interchurch or ecumenical relations and their evident conflict with the authentic ecclesiastical tradition of the Prophets, the Apostles and our Fathers and Mothers throughout the ages. In 1978, I met three German students in Cologne who had already been catechized in the Orthodox tradition. They requested that I assume the task of completing their catechism and that I baptize them Orthodox. This meant that they be received by our Church through the one and authentic baptism performed I the name of the Holy Trinity, with trine immersion and emersion in water.

It being known that the Latins have been called heretics at the Orthodox Church’s Eighth Ecumenical Council (Constantinople, 879) because of he filioque heresy, and that after the Council of [Trent] (16th century) the canonical baptism has been completely lost in the West and has been replaced by aspersion or affusion, I therefore sought permission from the Archdiocese of Athens for them to be received by the Church of Greece by acrivia.  Permission was granted (for this practice had never been abolished in the Church of Greece), and their baptism took place, according to the practice of the early Church, on the night of Holy Saturday, 1979.

When this became known, I was strongly attacked, not only by Latins (in Greece and in [West] Germany), but also by Latinizing pro-unionists and Uniates within Greece. This led to the beginning of a verbal struggle in the mass media (press, radio, television), during the course of which I decided to write a theological study on the issue, not in order to justify my action – which had the approval of my Church and, of foremost importance, was consonant with the Orthodox tradition – but to present the relevant Orthodox teaching within the actual practice of my Church.

Hence it was with great joy that I accepted the invitation of the Patriarchal Institute for Patristic Studies in Thessaloniki to participate in its August 1981 Conference with the theme [of] the Second Ecumenical Council.  For, in treating of that Council’s very important Canon VII (and the corresponding Canon XCV of the Penthekte Ecumenical Council) I would have the opportunity to present the interpretation of it by great figures of the Orthodox Church who not only knew the tradition of our Church as few others did, but also lived it.

I believe that this study, which after the Thessaloniki Conference was completed with the chapter on the application of the Canon within the borders of the Romaic ethnarchy (i.e., the Orthodox world under Ottoman rule), offers a solution to the problem [that is] defended by our patristic tradition and faith. Especially today, it is necessary that we be well acquainted with this tradition, living as we do in the aftermath of the obscuration brought on by the unforgivable haste of certain ecclesiastical personalities on the subject of Ecumenism, and mainly in the area of relations with the Latin Church (which is identical with the Vatican State), due to the interference, once again, of purely secular criteria in the so-called ‘ecumenical dialogue’. This trend led to the recent decision of the Seventh Plenary Session of the joint International Commission for the official Theological Dialogue between Catholics and Orthodox (Balamand, Lebanon, 17-24 July, 1993). In no uncertain terms, the delegates from the nine Orthodox Churches represented at this meeting (absent were the Churches of Jerusalem, Georgia, Greece, Serbia, Bulgaria, and Czechoslovakia) propose to their Churches the mutual recognition of sacraments, ignoring Ecumenical Councils, dogma, and history, and thus seeking a de facto union with the Papacy.

It is nothing unusual, then, that the Greek-language Uniate newspaper Katholike emphasizes paragraph 13 of the Balamand meeting’s Documentation Supplement which ends as follows: “It is clear that within this framework, any re-baptism is excluded…” Of course, the theologically correct response to this is that Orthodox Church, on the basis of her self-understanding, does not re-baptize non-Orthodox converts but canonically baptizes them as having never received the one and canonical baptism of the Church. This, anyway, is the response of the writers whose testimony we invoke in the present study. Aside from all this, any chance recognition of Latin sacraments (and primarily of Holy Orders) on our part notwithstanding leads to the rejection of our whole ecclesiology, of the Ecumenical Councils, and, in a word, of patristic theology (on the basis of which there exist no sacraments amongst the Latins who still, in fact, speak about gratia creata).

We therefore pray that the local Orthodox Churches, with the encouragement surely of the six Churches that did not participate in the aforementioned meeting and did not sign its decisions, not proceed with the acceptance of the proposals of their representatives at Balamand.  For otherwise, highly unfavorable developments are foreseen that will seriously affect Orthodox unity.

This translation was made on the initiative of a very dear colleague of mine, the Greek-American Hieromonk Fr. Seraphim of St. Paul’s Monastery on the Holy Mountain. Apparently his good heart perceived the need today for this study. I thank him from the bottom of my heart; and likewise the venerable Elder and Abbot of his monastery, my respected Fr. Parthenios, a zealous proponent of the Apostolic, patristic tradition who readily gave his blessing for this translation.

I moreover thank the holy Abbot for the decision that St. Paul’s Monastery publish the English edition of this study. My own wholly academic labor cannot compare with the uniquely salvific, experiential witness which they wish to preserve by propounding the teaching of their forerunners, the Kollyvades.

Protopresbyter George D. Metallinos
Pentecost, 1994

About the Author

Protopresbyter Fr. George Metallinos (in Greek π. Γεώργιος Μεταλληνός) is a Greek theologian, priest, historian, author and professor.  He was born in Corfu, Greece in 1940, where he also completed his Secondary Education. He is a graduate of the University of Athens in Theology (1962) and Classical Literature (1967). After his military service (1963-1965) he became Research Assistant at the Department of Patrology and in 1969 he went to Western Germany for post graduate studies in Bonn and Cologne, where he resided until 1975. During this time he also conducted studies and archival research in England. In 1971, he was ordained a member of the clergy and became Doctor of Theology (University of Athens) and Doctor of Philosopy – History (University of Cologne).  In 1984 he became Professor at the School of Theology of the University of Athens, teaching History of Spirituality during the Post-Byzantine Period, History and Theology of Worship, and Byzantine History. He served as Dean of the School of Theology between 2004 and 2007.2


THE DEBATE over the validity of the baptism of non-Orthodox who come over to Orthodoxy, a very old problem of the Church,3 flared up around the middle of the eighteenth century in the see of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, during the reign of Cyril V4 beginning in 1750.   The reopening of the problem by this Patriarch, who imposed (re)baptism of Western converts, provoked vehement disputes that survived in print as a very rich production of relevant literature.5  Hence this issue, together with the “kollyva dispute” that broke out around the same time, theologically stamp the eighteenth century, otherwise relatively poor in theological interest.

The question of how the (early) heretics were to be received was synodically resolved by the early Church through, among others, Canon VII of the Second Ecumenical Council.6  Therefore, it was reasonable that, in the solutions also proposed for regulating the matter in the eighteenth century, an interpretation of this Canon be attempted applying it now to the case of the later heretics, i.e. the Westerners in general, and specifically the Latins.

It was in this perspective that the Kollyvades of the Holy Mountain,7 as offspring of their time, inevitably viewed the Canon in question, the most fundamental for the problem. Being contemporaries of the dispute over the baptism of non-Orthodox,8 these very capable theologians lived it from up close, and they took a position on it in their writings, offering a solution to the problem that was in accordance with their own theological principles. Neophytos Kafsokalyvitis9 the leader of the Kollyvades movement, St. Nikodemos of the Holy Mountain,10 and Athanasios Parios,11 in absolute agreement with each other, unreservedly sided in favor of Patriarch Cyril’s decision and the theology of Eustratios Argentis (1687-1757),12 who defined the theological and canonical frame of reference of the problem in a systematic and decisive way. The above-mentioned Kollyvades,13 each in his own peculiar way, affirm14 and reiterate Argentis’ view and solution of the problem, and thus uphold the Church’s early practice as canonically formulated by Sts. Cyprian of Carthage and Basil the Great. Also, the fact that the Hieromonk Jonas,15 one of Patriarch Cyril V’s most active co-workers in Constantinople and himself a “rebaptizer,” was also a Kafsokalyvitis, i.e. a fellow monastic of Neophytos, should not, in my opinion, remain unnoticed. Perhaps the Athonite society, and in this case Neophytos, was more significantly involved in this problem than has been known until now. But for the time being, this is but a mere guess which is worthy, however, of further investigation.

Around the middle of the nineteenth century, Constantine Oikonomos of the Oikonomoi was called upon to confront this very same problem theologically, the occasion being the important Palmer affair.16 In three lengthy epistolary dissertations17 – a favorite custom of his – Oikonomos attempted a detailed theological analysis of the problem, taking up the position of Cyril V and E. Argentis, and hence also that of the Kollyvades.18 He interprets Canon VII of the Second Ecumenical Council on the basis of the same presuppositions and thinking as they, in order to apply it to Western converts. That is to say that in the case of both the Kollyvades and Oikonomos the interpretation of the Canon is not undertaken without presuppositions, but is inseparably interwoven with its application to the later heretics.

Thus, the effort is made by these theologians to preserve the continuity of the Church’s tradition, and to express the Orthodox conscience in their own time. Moving within the same spiritual climate, and being theologically well equipped, especially as regards canon law, they make a significant contribution to the treatment of a problem that continues to concern the Church to this day. Their contribution lies not so much in the originally of their interpretation (for essentially they reiterate the theology of Argentis), but in their personal recasting and re-expression of the Church’s tradition. Though in a form imposed by the necessity for a detailed confrontation of the argumentation of those who thought otherwise,19 their response cannot fail to be taken seriously in whatever synodal settlement of the issue may come about, inasmuch as this is demanded by the authority the Kollyvades as well as C. Oikonomos carry in our Church, all possible objections aside.20 The manner employed by the aforementioned writers in dealing with the problem may very well clearly reek of scholasticism and hence naturally be repulsive to modern Greek theological thought, which day by day is becoming less and less scholastic. Yet when placed in the framework of their time, it is more easily understood. Moreover, it also helps us in approaching similar problems in our own time.

It goes without saying that the present work is mainly a study of literature and canon law, but also a parallel study of moral obligation.



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