Mr. Lewis fancies himself a master of rhetoric and theology who’s got me on the run with his blistering critiques. This fancy of his would be far more plausible if he were actually arguing against my position. He is not.
His essay, Unorthodox: Matt Parrott, Orthodoxy, and Ethno-Nationalism is his latest salvo.
The main bone of contention will be miscegenation. Does the Orthodox Church condemn or allow racial mixing?I have never asserted that the Church condemns racial mixing. That’s not my assertion. The Church is Universal, meaning that it’s for all nations and identities, including hybrid identities and folks without any coherent ethnic identity at all. My assertion is that the Church does not condemn national identity and does not condemn those who choose to refrain from political, geographical, and sexual admixture. My assertion is not that Orthodox Christianity is only for White Nationalists. My assertion is that the Church is also for White Nationalists.
Does the Orthodox Church condemn ethno-nationalism?Within the canonical American archdioceses, the Orthodox Church does indeed condemn ethno-nationalism for White Americans and only White Americans. These same archdioceses actively promote ethnic and national pride and political action for any and all other identities, while also welcoming those with an absence of defined identity.
From the perspective of Matt Parrott, nations should be constructed upon ethnic grounds i.e., Syrians and Greeks should not be allowed to live in the same state.The etymology of the word “nation,” related to “natal” implies a genetic dimension. Even within Orthodoxy’s empires, nations were afforded degrees of autonomy and sovereignty. Imperialism doesn’t necessarily entail or demand the dissolution of the nations under the imperial aegis. In fact, Orthodoxy’s very survival in its heartland relied upon preserving ethno-national identity under the Ottoman Empire’s Greek ethnarchs within the overarching imperial context.
I will show that the Orthodox Church is not a tribal religion, unlike the ancient Hebrew faith, but is a global imperial faith and as such must of necessity condemn miscegenation.Does he actually mean that this “imperial faith” must of necessity condemn people who don’t miscegenate? He’s obviously made a forgivable error here, but what he was actually trying to say is surely no less erroneous.
If Mr. Parrott insists that the Orthodox Church has a history of tribalism, then he needs a refresher course on Orthodox history. The first example of an Eastern Orthodox political system was the imperial system of Rome. The universal scope of the Eastern Church was encapsulated in the imperial motto, “One God, one Lord, one faith, one church, one empire, one emperor.” This imperial system was perpetuated by the Muscovite state in the mid-15th century with its official origin with the panegyric written by Philotheus of Pskov to Grand Duke Vasili III. From its origins, the nature of Byzantine political order was universal and imperial; by definition, anti-tribal.Has he conveniently forgotten the client kings of the Roman Empire, whose sovereignty was over their respective ethnic nations while simultaneously being under Roman control? They figure pretty prominently in Christian history, so it would be quite an oversight for Mr. Lewis to overlook them. Slipping back into his sola scriptura habit, he takes a bundle of quotes out of historical and universal context to confirm the wild assertion that Orthodoxy is interminably globalist, uncompromisingly open borders, and hostile to the preservation of any and every identity.
More could be said on the universal salvific nature of the Byzantine Imperial model, but suffice it to say enough information has been produced to destroy Mr. Parrott’s flimsy claim of thousands of years of Orthodox tribal nationalism. To be clear, there was nationalism, but it was imperial Roman and Russian nationalism, not petty tribal nationalism.Of course, there’s a wealth of nationalism in Orthodox history, but it doesn’t count because it’s petty and even Greece, the bedrock nation of Orthodox Faith, is petty, you see?
Mr. Parrott might appeal to the petty Balkan states of Serbia, Bulgaria, Romania, and Greece for examples of Orthodox nationalism. Firstly, they are latecomers after the second millennium A.D.; secondly, rejecting the dominant Roman culture in the name of petty tribal identities led to the collapse of the Byzantine Empire; thirdly, when the Bulgarian Church got ideas like Mr. Parrott’s into their heads, their actions were condemned as phyletism by the 1872 Synod of Constantinople.Now for the “phyletism” thing. We have never advocated for nor attempted to deny the Mysteries to anybody on account of their identity. That’s all that was condemned in the 1872 Synod of Constantinople, which has seen been grossly mischaracterized as a blanket condemnation of White (and only White!) identitarianism. Our struggle doesn’t belong in the Church, and we never asserted that it does.
Did the Council imply Mr. Lewis’s hysterical interpretation, that all national borders and identities are heretical? In light of the historical context and commentary surrounding the Council, the proposition is too asinine to entertain. Beyond a handful of radical Marxists and some fundamentalist cults in America (which Mr. Lewis belongs to), nobody in the time of this Council seriously entertained the dystopian vision of a borderless, raceless, and nationless world.
He quotes an Ancient Faith Radio podcaster’s attempt to promote the Ameridox position.
“Phyletism is, again, placing one’s worldly identity, identity as a pilgrim in this world, above his identity as a member of the Kingdom of Heaven, as a baptized Christian who is no longer a member of this world, first and foremost, but is a member of the Kingdom of Heaven. And we have the words of the Apostle Paul, which we all I’m sure know, but which is good to recall. “There is neither Jew nor Greek for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” And just before that he says: “You are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized in Christ, have put on Christ.””Mr. Lewis doesn’t even know about King Herod, apparently, so it’s no surprise that Fr. Peter’s deliberate and malicious distortion of scripture went unnoticed. Fr. Peter paraphrases the verse to achieve his worldly political agenda, redacting it to, “There is neither Jew nor Greek for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” The verse actually reads, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.”
The complete verse in its complete context confirms that St. Paul was emphatically not implying that ethnic identities are heretical. After all, for that interpretation to work, the Orthodox Church would necessarily confirm that allowing different roles and treatments of males and females are also heretical. It’s abundantly obvious why Holy Scripture was abused here, as it confirms my position. It confirms that we ought to all be one in Christ without negating our racial, ethnic, national, and gender identities.
Faith transcends race and nation. It does not negate race and nation.
Mr. Lewis makes several mistakes in his essay, but none is greater than pasting this excerpt which underscores my point, that phyletism is about ecclesiastical matters and the Mysteries. It was never intended as a radical political statement.
Rev. Fr. Stephane Bighamhere says also:
“Phyletism is the name of an ecclesiological heresy which says that the Church can be territorially organized on an ethnic, racial, or cultural basis so that within a given geographic territory, there can exist several Church jurisdictions, directing their pastoral care only to the members of specific ethnic groups. A Church council in 1872 officially defined and condemned this heresy. It reacted to a proposition made by Bulgarians of the Patriarchate of Constantinople who wanted to establish a Church jurisdiction, sanctioned by the Turkish government, on the territory of the Patriarchate: The formation in the same place of a particular [local] Church based on race which only receives faithful of that same ethnic group and is run by pastors of only of the same ethnic group, as the adherents of Phyletism claim, is an event without precedent.”For the Ameridox clergy to be as phyletically subdivided as they are by their non-American and non-White ethnic identities, and to deny us the Mysteries on account of our White American identity, requires a staggering degree of deceit, dishonesty, and dishonor. You can be proud to be Greek, proud to be Black, or proud to be Eskimo and the Church will gladly smile and clap along. But if you’re proud to be a White American, they’ll drop the chalice in abject horror.
I guess Mr. Parrott really does not understand that ‘all one in Christ’ thing when he divides the Orthodox by seeking to prevent miscegenation.I can’t be bothered to even bicker about the rest, as he goes into a long digression on the false assumption that I believe interracial unions are heretical. I do not. I do believe that interracial unions are generally unequal yoking, and I believe they should be socially and even politically discouraged in sovereign nations which seek to preserve their ethnic identities. But I don’t believe Orthodox Christianity should treat mixed-race families any differently than they treat any other families. Orthodoxy is a catholic faith, and there’s no imperative for it to choose between identities.