Greek Orthodox Church

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Greek Orthodox Church the Eastern Catholic Church

East–West Schism

Note: this really is a cultural East-West separation (the East with Oriental mysticism, Greek philosophy and longstanding Islamic influences and the West with European rationalism, individual idealism and longstanding secular influences) as much as it is a doctrine and theology separation.

The East–West (1054 AD) Schism, sometimes known as the Great Schism, is the medieval [in the era of Charlemagne] division of Chalcedonian Christianity into Eastern (Greek) and Western (Latin) branches, which later became known as the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church, respectively. Relations between East and West had long been embittered by political and ecclesiastical differences and theological disputes. Prominent among these were the issues of "filioque", whether leavened or unleavened bread should be used in the Eucharist, the Pope's claim to universal jurisdiction, and the place of Constantinople in relation to the Pentarchy.


Pope Leo IX and Patriarch of Constantinople Michael Cerularius heightened the conflict by suppressing Greek and Latin in their respective domains. In 1054, Roman legates traveled to Cerularius to deny him the title Ecumenical Patriarch and to insist that he recognize the Church of Rome's claim to be the head and mother of the churches. Cerularius refused. The leader of the Latin contingent, Cardinal Humbert, excommunicated Cerularius, while Cerularius in return excommunicated Cardinal Humbert and other legates. This was only the first act in a centuries-long process that eventually became a complete schism. Source: Wikipedia.org

Filioque "and (from) the Son" - Western Nicene Creed

Latin version of the Western Nicene Creed "And in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, and giver of life, who from the Father and the Son {the Filioque} proceeds."


Filioque (Ecclesiastical Latin: "and (from) the Son", is a phrase found in the form of Nicene Creed in use in most of the Western Christian churches. It is not present in the Greek text of the Nicene Creed as originally formulated at the First Council of Constantinople, which says only that the Holy Spirit proceeds "from the Father" ... The Latin text speaks of the Holy Spirit as proceeding "from the Father and the Son". ... Together with Papal primacy (Rome), differences over this doctrine have been and remain the primary causes of schism between the Western and Eastern Orthodox churches. The Filioque has been an ongoing source of conflict between the East and West, contributing, in part, to the East-West Schism of 1054 AD and proving an obstacle to attempts to reunify the two sides.


Greek version of the Eastern Nicene Creed "And in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, from the Father proceeding."

Latin version of the Western Nicene Creed "And in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, and giver of life, who from the Father and the Son {the Filioque} proceeds."


Source: Wikipedia.org


OrthodoxWiki - Filioque

Filioque is a Latin word meaning "and the Son" which was added to the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed by the Church of Rome in the 11th century, one of the major factors leading to the Great Schism between East and West. This inclusion in the Creedal article regarding the Holy Spirit thus states that the Spirit "proceeds from the Father and the Son."


Its inclusion in the Creed is a violation of the canons of the Third Ecumenical Council in 431 AD, which forbade and anathematized any additions to the Creed, a prohibition which was reiterated at the Eighth Ecumenical Council in 879-880 AD. This word was not included by the Council of Nicea nor of Constantinople. The term itself has been interpreted in both an Orthodox fashion and a heterodox fashion. It may be read as saying that the Spirit proceeds from the Father through (dia) the Son. This was the position of St. Maximus the Confessor. On this reading, the Son is not an eternal cause (aition) of the Spirit. The heterodox reading sees the Son, along with the Father, as an eternal cause of the Spirit. Most in the Orthodox Church consider this latter reading to be a heresy.


The description of the filioque as a heresy was iterated most clearly and definitively by the great Father and Pillar of the Church, St. Photius the Great, in his On the Mystagogy of the Holy Spirit. He describes it as a heresy of Triadology, striking at the very heart of what the Church believes about God.


Source: WrthodoxWiki.org


A Journal of Orthodox Opinion

The Christian Activist Website


The Fundamental Difference Between the Greek "East" and Latin "West"


EDITOR'S NOTE: What follows is a heavily excerpted and slightly edited transcript of three lectures given by the great Orthodox scholar John S. Romanides in 1981 at Holy Cross Seminary in the Patriarch Athenagoras Memorial Lecture series.


This article deals with the fundamental difference between Orthodoxy and Western Christianity, mainly Roman Catholicism. Readers will be surprised to learn that the division between "East" and "West" was actually more of a political division, caused by the ambitions of the Franks and other Germanic tribes, than a "Theological" question.


Professor John Romanides of the University of Thessalonike challenges the common views regarding the causes for the Schism of the Church in the "Roman world," and offers his own provocative interpretation of the historical background of this tragedy in the history of the Christian Church.


Far from seeing basic differences in the "Roman world," which led to alienation between the East and West, Romanides argues for the existence of "national, cultural and even linguistic unity between East (Byzantine) and West Romans"; that is, until the intrusion and takeover of the West Romans (the Roman Catholics) by the Franks (German tribes).


The Christian Activist extends its thanks to Holy Cross Press for permission to reprint these lectures, which they first published in 1981.


European and American histories treat the alienation between Eastern and Western Christian Churches as though it were inevitable, because of an alleged separation of the Roman Empire itself into "East" and "West," because of alleged linguistic and cultural differences, and because of an alleged difference between the legal West and the speculative East.1 Evidence strongly suggests that such attempts to explain the separation between East and West are conditioned by prejudices inherited from the cultural tradition of the Franks, and from the centuries-old propaganda of the Frankish (Germanic dominated) Papacy.


The evidence points clearly to the national, cultural, and even linguistic unity between East and West Romans which survived to the time when the Roman popes were replaced by Franks. Had the Franks not taken over the Papacy, it is very probable that the local synod of the Church of Rome (with the pope as president), elected according to the 769 election decree approved by the Eighth Ecumenical Synod in 879, would have survived, and that there would not have been any significant difference between the papacy and the other four Roman (Orthodox) Patriarchates.


However, things did not turn out that way. The Papacy was alienated from the (Orthodox) East by the Franks, so we now are faced with the history of that alienation when we contemplate the reunion of divided Christians. By the eighth century, we meet for the first time the beginnings of a split in Christianity. In West European sources we find a separation between a "Greek East" and a "Latin West." In Roman sources this same separation constitutes a schism between Franks (a confederation of Germanic Teutonic peoples living on the lower banks of the Rhine who by the sixth century AD conquered most of France, the low countries and what is now Germany. ed) and Romans. One detects in both terminologies an ethnic or racial basis for the schism which may be more profound and important for descriptive analysis than the doctrinal claims of either side.


The Roman Empire was conquered in three stages: by Germanic tribes (the Franks) who became known as "Latin Christianity," by Muslim Arabs, and finally, by Muslim Turks. In contrast to this, the ecclesiastical administration of the Roman Empire disappeared in stages from West Europe, but has survived up to modern times in the "East Roman Empire" the Orthodox Patriarchates of Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem.


The reason for this is that the Germanic - Frankish conquerors of the West Romans (who became known as the "Roman Catholic Church.") used the Church to suppress the Roman nation, whereas under Islam the East Roman nation, the Orthodox Church, survived by means of the Orthodox Church. In each instance of conquest, the bishops became the ethnarchs of the conquered Romans and administered Roman law on behalf of the rulers. As long as the bishops were Roman, the unity of the Roman Church was preserved, in spite of theological conflicts.


Diagnosis and Therapy


Let us turn our attention to those aspects of differences between Roman and Frankish theologies which have had a strong impact on the development of differences in the doctrine of the Church. The basic differences may be listed under diagnosis of spiritual ills and their therapy.


According to the Orthodox Church, the "East Romans," Glorification is the vision of God in which the equality of all men and the absolute value of each man is experienced. God loves all men equally and indiscriminately, regardless of even their moral status. God loves with the same love, both the saint and the devil. To teach otherwise [Predestined Election - Calvinism], as Augustine [alluded to] and the Franks did, would be adequate proof that they did not have the slightest idea of what glorification was.

Note: "God loves all men equally and indiscriminately" and "God loves with the same love, both the saint and the devil" this is in fact true when the word 'love' is used as the word commitment. God is in fact committed to the highest good for all of mankind for both the saint and the sinner as is evidenced in the cross of Jesus Christ.
Example: Matthew 26:20 50 And Jesus said unto him (Judas Iscariot), *Friend, wherefore art thou come? Then came they, and laid hands on Jesus, and took Him.


According to the Orthodox [and its Oriental mystical and Greek philosophical influences], God multiplies and divides himself in His uncreated energies undividedly among divided things, so that He is both present by act and absent by nature to each individual creature and everywhere present and absent at the same time. This is the fundamental mystery of the presence of God to His creatures and shows that universals do not exist in God and are, therefore, not part of the state of illumination [regeneration 'born again'] as in the Augustinian (Frankish Latin) tradition.


According to the Orthodox, God himself is both heaven and hell, reward and punishment. All men have been created to see God unceasingly in His uncreated glory. Whether God will be for each man heav-en or hell, reward or punishment, depends on man’s re-sponse to God’s love and on man’s transformation from the state of selfish and self-centered love, to Godlike love which does not seek its own ends.


One can see how the Frankish understanding of heaven and hell poetically described by Dante, John Milton, and James Joyce are so foreign to the Orthodox tradition (but in keeping with the "Latin" tradition).


According to the Orthodox, since all men will see God, no religion can claim for itself the power to send people either to heaven or to hell. This means that true spiritual fathers prepare their spiritual charges so that vision of God’s glory will be heaven, and not hell, reward, and not punishment. The primary purpose of Orthodox Christianity then, is to prepare its members for an experience which every human being will sooner or later have.


While the brain (according to the Orthodox) is the center of human adaptation to the environment, the noetic faculty in the heart is the primary organ for communion with God. The fall of man or the state of inherited sin is: a) the failure of the noetic faculty to function properly, or to function at all; b) its confusion with the functions of the brain and the body in general; and c) its resulting enslavement to the environment.


Each individual *experiences the fall of his own noetic faculty [i.e. "flawed" mode where humanity inherited the 'flaws' consequences of sin, but not the guilt - Wikipedia.org]. One can see why the [Original Sin] Augustinian "Latin," (Frankish) understanding of the fall of man as an *inherited guilt [i.e. "guilt" mode of the existence of man - This guilty nature (sinful mankind) and all that has come from it is a result of that "original sin" - All humanity shares in the sin and guilt of Adam because like him, they are human (descendants of Adam and Eve) - The union of humanity with Divinity in (innocent) Jesus Christ restored, in the person of Jesus Christ, the ('born again') mode of existence of (innocent) humanity - Wikipedia.org - modified version] for the sin of Adam and Eve is not, and cannot, be accepted by the Orthodox tradition. ...

This view differs from the Roman Catholic (Augustinian) doctrine of Original Sin in that man is not seen as inherently guilty of the sin of Adam. According to the Orthodox, humanity inherited the consequences of that sin, not the guilt. The difference stems from Augustine's interpretation of a Latin translation of Romans 5:12 to mean that through Adam (as descendants) all men sinned [note: Psalms 51:5 Behold, I (King David) was shapen in iniquity; and *in sin (the original sin of Adam and Eve) did my mother conceive me.], whereas the Orthodox reading in Greek interpret it as meaning that all of humanity sins as part of the inheritance of flawed nature from Adam. The Orthodox Church does not teach that all are born deserving to go to hell, and Protestant doctrines such as Predeterminism that derive from the Augustinian understanding of original sin are not a part of Orthodox belief. Source: Wikipedia.org


The Theological Background


At the foundation of the filioque controversy between Franks and Romans lie essential differences in theological method, theological subject matter, spirituality, and, therefore, also in the understanding of the very nature of doctrine and of the development of the language or of terms in which doctrine is expressed.


When reading through Smaragdus’ minutes of the meeting between Charlemagne’s emissaries and Pope Leo III, one is struck not only by the fact that the Franks had so audaciously added the filioque to the Creed and made it into a dogma, but also by the haughty manner in which they so authoritatively announced that the filioque was necessary for salvation, and that it was an improvement of an already good, but not complete, doctrine concerning the Holy Spirit. This was in answer to Leo’s strong hint at Frankish audacity. Leo, in turn, warned that when one attempts to improve what is good he should first be sure that in trying to improve he is not corrupting. He emphasizes that he cannot put himself in a position higher than the Fathers of the Synods, who did not omit the filioque out of oversight or ignorance, but by divine inspiration.


The question arises, "Where in the world did the newly born Frankish theological tradition get the idea that the filioque is an improvement of the Creed, and that it was omitted from creedal expression because of oversight or ignorance on the part of the Fathers of the Synod?" Since Augustine is the only representative of Roman theology that the Franks were more or less fully acquainted with, one must turn to the Bishop of Hippo for a possible answer. I think I have found the answer in Saint Augustine’s lecture delivered to the assembly of African bishops in 393. Augustine had been asked to deliver a lecture on the Creed, which he did. Later he reworked the lecture and published it. I do not see why the Creed expounded is not that of Nicaea-Constantinople, since the outline of Augustine’s discourse and the Creed are the same. Twelve years had passed since its acceptance by the Second Ecumenical Synod and, if ever, this was the opportune time for assembled bishops to learn of the new, official, imperially approved creed. The bishops certainly knew their own local Creed and did not require lessons on that. In any case, Augustine makes three basic blunders in this discourse and died many years later without ever realizing his mistakes, which were to lead the Franks and the whole of their Germanic Latin Christendom into a repetition of those same mistakes.


In his De Fide et Symbolo,10 Augustine makes an unbelievable naive and inaccurate statement: "With respect to the Holy Spirit, however, there has not been, on the part of learned and distinguished investigators of the Scriptures, a fuller careful enough discussion of the subject to make it possible for us to obtain an intelligent conception of what also constitutes His special individuality (proprium)."


Everyone at the Second Ecumenical Synod knew well that this question was settled once and for all by the use in the Creed of the word procession as meaning the manner of existence of the Holy Spirit from the Father which constitutes His special individuality. Thus, the Father is unbegotten, i.e. derives His existence from no one. The Son is from the Father by generation. The Holy Spirit is from the Father, not by generation, but by procession. The Father is cause, the Son and the Spirit are caused. The difference between the ones caused is the one is caused by generation, and the other by procession, and not by generation. [i.e. a type of Modalism]


The Significance of the Filioque Question


Smaragdus records how the emissaries of Charlemagne complained that Pope Leo III was making an issue of only four syllables. Of course, four syllables are not many. Nevertheless, their implications are such that Latin or Frankish Christendom embarked on a history of theology and ecclesiastical practice which may have been quite different had the Franks paid attention to the "Greeks."


I will indicate some of the implications of the presuppositions of the filioque issue which present problems today.


1) Even a superficial study of today's histories of dogma and biblical scholarship reveals the peculiar fact that Protestant, Anglican, Papal, and some Orthodox theologians accept the First and Second Ecumenical Synods only formally. This is so because there is at least an identity of teaching between Orthodox and Arians, which does not exist between Orthodox and Latins, about the real appearances of the Logos to the Old Testament prophets and the identity of this Logos with the Logos made flesh in the New Testament. This, as we saw, was the agreed foundation of debate for the determination of whether the Logos seen by the prophets is created or uncreated. This identification of the Logos in the Old Testament is the very basis of the teachings of all the Roman Ecumenical Synods.


We emphasize that the East Roman (Orthodox) Fathers never abandoned this reading of the Old Testament theophanies. This is the teaching of all the West Roman Fathers, with the single exception of Augustine, who, confused as usual over what the Fathers teach, rejects as blasphemous the idea that the prophets could have seen the Logos with their bodily eyes and, indeed, in fire, darkness, cloud, etc.


The Arians and Eunomians had used, as the Gnostics before them, the visibility of the Logos to the prophets to prove that He was a lower being than God and a creature. Augustine agrees with the Arians and Eunomians that the prophets saw a created Angel, created fire, cloud, light, darkness, etc., but he argues against them that none of these was the Logos himself, but symbols by means of which God or the whole Trinity is seen and heard.


Augustine had no patience with the teaching that the Angel of the Lord, the fire, the glory, the cloud, and the Pentecostal tongues of fire, were verbal symbols of the uncreated realities immediately communicated with by the prophets and apostles, since for him this would mean that all this language pointed to a vision of the divine substance. For the bishop of Hippo this vision is identical to the whole of what is uncreated, and could be seen only by a Neoplatonic type ecstasy of the soul, out of the body within the sphere of timeless and motionless eternity transcending all discursive reasoning. Since this is not what he found in the Bible, the visions therein described are not verbal symbols of real visions of God, but of creatures symbolizing eternal realities. The created verbal symbols of the Bible became created objective symbols. In other words, words which symbolized uncreated energies like fire, etc., became objectively real created fires, clouds, tongues, etc.


2) This failure of Augustine to distinguish between the divine essence and its natural energies (of which some are communicated to the friends of God), led to a very peculiar reading of the Bible, wherein creatures or symbols come into existence in order to convey a divine message, and then pass out of existence. Thus, the Bible becomes full of unbelievable miracles and a text dictated by God.


3) Besides this, the biblical concept of heaven and hell also becomes distorted, since the eternal fires of hell and the outer darkness become creatures also whereas, they are the uncreated glory of God as seen by those who refuse to love. Thus, one ends up with the three-story universe problem, with God in a place, etc., necessitating a demythologizing of the Bible in order to salvage whatever one can of a quaint Christian tradition for modern man. However, it is not the Bible itself which needs demythologizing, but the Augustinian Franco-Latin tradition and the caricature which it passed off in the West as "Greek" Patristic theology.


4) By not taking the above-mentioned foundations of Roman Patristic theology of the Ecumenical Synods seriously as the key to interpreting the Bible, modern biblical scholars have applied presuppositions latent in Augustine with such methodical consistency that they have destroyed the unity and identity of the Old and New Testaments, and have allowed themselves to be swayed by Judaic interpretations of the Old Testament rejected by Christ himself. Thus, instead of dealing with the concrete person of the Angel of God, Lord of Glory, Angel of Great Council, Wisdom of God and identifying Him with the Logos made flesh and Christ, and accepting this as the doctrine of the Trinity, most, if not all, Western scholars have ended up identifying Christ only with Old Testament Messiahship, and equating the doctrine of the Trinity with the development of extra Biblical Trinitarian terminology within what is really not a Patristic framework, but an Augustinian one. Thus, the so-called "Greek" Fathers are still read in the light of Augustine, with the Russians after Peter Mogila joining in.


5) Another most devastating result of the Augustinian presuppositions of the filioque is the destruction of the prophetic and apostolic understanding of grace and its replacement with the whole system of created graces distributed in Latin Christendom by the hocus pocus of the clergy.


For the Bible and the Fathers, grace is the uncreated glory and rule (basileiva) of God seen by the prophets, apostles, and saints and participated in by the faithful followers of the prophets and the apostles. The source of this glory and rule is the Father who, in begetting the Logos, and projecting the Spirit, communicates this glory and rule so that the Son and the Spirit are also by nature one source of grace with the Father. This uncreated grace and rule (basileiva) is participated in by the faithful according to their preparedness for reception, and is seen by the friends of God who have become gods by grace.


Because the Frankish filioque presupposes the identity of uncreated divine essence and energy, and because participation in the divine essence is impossible, the Latin tradition was led automatically into accepting communicated grace as created, leading to its objectification and magical priestly manipulation.


On the other hand, the reduction by Augustine of this revealed glory and rule (basileiva) to the status of a creature has misled modern biblical scholars into the endless discussions concerning the coming of the "Kingdom" (basileiva should rather be rule) without realizing its identity with the uncreated glory and grace of God.


In the patristic tradition, all dogma or truth is experienced in glorification. The final form of glorification is that of Pentecost, in which the apostles were led by the Spirit into all the truth, as promised by Christ at the Last Supper. Since Pentecost, every incident of the glorification of a saint, (in other words, of a saint having a vision of God's uncreated glory in Christ as its source), is an extension of Pentecost at various levels of intensity.


This experience includes all of man, but at the same time transcends all of man, including man's intellect. Thus, the experience remains a mystery to the intellect, and cannot be conveyed intellectually to another. Thus, language can point to, but cannot convey, this experience. The spiritual father can guide a person to, but cannot produce, the experience which is a gift of the Holy Spirit.


When, therefore, the Fathers add terms to the biblical language concerning God and His relation to the world like hypostasis, ousia, physis, homoousios, etc., they are not doing this because they are improving current understanding as over against a former age. Pentecost cannot be improved upon. All they are doing is defending the Pentecostal experience which transcends words, in the language of their time, because a particular heresy leads away from, and not to, this experience, which means spiritual death to those led astray.


For the Fathers, authority is not only the Bible, but the Bible plus those glorified or divinized as the prophets and apostles. The Bible is not in itself either inspired or infallible. It becomes inspired and infallible within the communion of saints because they have the experience of divine glory described in the Bible.


The presuppositions of the Frankish ("Latin") filioque are not founded on this experience of glory. Anyone can claim to speak with authority and understanding. However, we Orthodox follow the Fathers and accept only those as authority who, like the apostles, have reached a degree of Pentecostal glorification.


Within this frame of reference, there can be no institutionalized or guaranteed form of infallibility, outside of the tradition of spirituality which leads to theoria, mentioned above, by St. Gregory the Theologian.


What is true of the Bible is true of the Synods, which, like the Bible, express in symbols that which transcends symbols and is known by means of those who have reached theoria. It is for this reason that the Synods appeal to the authority, not only of the Fathers in the Bible, but also to the Fathers of all ages, since the Fathers of all ages participate in the same truth which is God's glory in Christ.


For this reason, Pope Leo III told the Franks in no uncertain terms that the Fathers left the filioque out of the Creed neither because of ignorance nor by omission, but by divine inspiration. However the implications of the Frankish filioque were not accepted by all Roman Christians in the Western Roman provinces conquered by Franco-Latin Christendom and its scholastic theology. Remnants of Roman biblical orthodoxy and piety have survived and all parts may one day be reassembled, as the full implications of the Patristic tradition make themselves known, and spirituality, as the basis of doctrine, becomes the center of our studies.


Source: The Christian Activist - Website


Video - History of the Orthodox Church

GodTube History of the Orthodox Church (Part 1 of 9) - Ministry Videos

History of the Orthodox Church (Part 2)

History of the Orthodox Church (Part 3)

History of the Orthodox Church (Part 4)

History of the Orthodox Church (Part 5)

History of the Orthodox Church (Part 6)

History of the Orthodox Church (Part 7)

History of the Orthodox Church (Part 8)

History of the Orthodox Church (Part 9)


GodTube: This video is a documentary produced by Greek Orthodox Telecommunications that tells the history of the Eastern Orthodox Church.


Greek Orthodox - Muslim Relations

Orthodox Peace Fellowship Orthodox-Muslim Relations: The Search for Truth by Hilary Kilpatrick


"The Way, the Truth and the Life": if we believe that Christ is all these things, we must seek to avoid falsehoods, in personal but also in public life. To lie about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq was not just politically misguided or un-ethical, it was un-Christian.


Many of the antagonisms which lead to war in our world feed on lies or half-truths about "the other." This is especially true when two communities have a history both of coexistence and conflict. It is easy then to find justifications for fearing, hating and even attacking “the other.”


Thanks to geography, Orthodox Christians and Muslims have had a shared history since the rise of Islam in the seventh century. Sometimes Muslims dominated Orthodox, as in the various Near Eastern Muslim states and the Ottoman Empire, sometimes Orthodox dominated Muslims, as in Tsarist Russia. Any community living under the domination of others suffers injustice, and both Orthodox and Muslims can point to wrongs they have endured as minorities ruled by adherents of the other faith.


Since before modern times the two communities identified themselves first and foremost by religion. They remembered wrongs – even when they had nothing to do with religion – as inflicted by Muslims on Orthodox (or the reverse), rather than as, for instance, by tax-collectors against peasants or soldiers against civilians.


As time passed, these memories became simplified, creating a picture of oppression remaining at a constant level over four or five centuries. In some cases the oppressor was then held responsible for everything that had gone wrong, although quite other factors might have been involved. Unscrupulous politicians could, and can, easily turn such a sense of injustice suffered into a desire for revenge, as the break-up of Yugoslavia has shown.


If we leave aside our collective memories and what we imagine the past to have been and look instead at contemporary records, we find a much more complicated picture. This corresponds to our own experience of life. Few situations we encounter are entirely black or white.


... [Extensive History Review] ...


A commitment to discovering historical truth also allows justice to be done to individuals who go against the dominant opinion in their community and act with wisdom or according to principles of common humanity. For instance, if the Turkish authorities were to recognize the Armenian genocide, they would not only help to heal the trauma of its survivors and their descendants, but they would also be able to celebrate the courage and humanity of the handful of Turkish officials who refused to carry out the policy and even cooperated with foreign institutions to save Armenians.


In the shared history of Orthodox and Muslims such individuals exist, too. One example is the Algerian emir Abd al-Kader, an exile in Damascus after the French crushed his resistance to their colonization of Algeria; he was instrumental in saving many Syrian Christians from death in the riots of 1860.


On the Orthodox side, a memorable role has been played recently by Archbishop Anastasios of Albania, welcoming all refugees from former Yugoslavia, whatever their religion.


In the search for truth and in Christ’s service, we need to be open to these individual acts of humanity and to admit that they may come from quarters we do not expect. For in the end, it is people created in the image of God with whom we deal. There is a temptation to forget this and to see only faceless masses whom it is easy to demonize in situations of tension or conflict. By trying to discover the truth about their history, we can give them back their faces and start to recognize them as our brothers and sisters in Christ.


Hilary Kilpatrick, a longtime member of the Orthodox Peace Fellowship, is an independent scholar in Lausanne (Switzerland). Her current research is on Arabic literature of the Ottoman period.


Muslim Statistics (Population) - WikiIslam.net

WikiIslam.net


Africa


According to Shaykh Ahmed Katani, in Africa, 6 million Muslims convert to Christianity every year: (English Translation | Arabic)

Islam used to represent, as you previously mentioned, Africa's main religion and there were 30 African languages that used to be written in Arabic script. The number of Muslims in Africa [a land of 1 billion] has diminished to 316 million, half of whom are Arabs in North Africa...In every hour, 667 Muslims convert to Christianity. Everyday, 16,000 Muslims convert to Christianity. Ever year, 6 million Muslims convert to Christianity. These numbers are very large indeed.


Egypt


The number of Muslim-born converts to Christianity in Egypt, who are keeping their faith secret, has reached several million. Due to the State Security's persecution, torture and rape, they have established outside Egypt an organization called "Freed by Christ" as well as "Way TV" to speak on their behalf to the West, and expose their sufferings at the hands of State Security. It is headed by the Christian convert Dr. Mohamad Rahouna, ex-dean of the Faculty of Arabic Studies, Minya University, who fled to the United States. September, 2009


France


Muslims are converting to Christianity in their thousands in France but face exclusion from their families and even death threats. . . . Muslims each year are converting to Christianity - around 10,000 to Catholicism and 5,000 to Protestantism. . . . Many Muslims in France hide their conversion but the trend is continuing. World wide around six million Muslims a year convert to Christianity. December, 2011


Iran


There has also been concern over fact that many young people in Iran have abandoned Islam because they're tired of the many restrictions imposed by the faith. According to unofficial sources, in the past five years, one million Iranians, particularly young people and women, have abandoned Islam and joined Evangelical churches. This phenomenon has surprised even the missionaries who carry out their activities in secret in Iran. March, 2008


On October 2, the government-supported news website, Javan-Online, acknowledged that the acceptance of Christianity was becoming a trend and reported 200 house churches were discovered in just a few months in the traditionally Islamic city of Mashhad.

Many high ranking government officials and Islamic religious leaders have also made statements expressing concern over the spread of Christianity. Ayatollah Jafar Sobhani, a prominent Islamic theologian and writer, publicly spoke about the conversion of 600 people to Christianity in the city of Neishabour, according to a local newspaper in the Southern Khoarasan Province. The Head of the Ministry of Intelligence in Iran, Heydar Moslehi, also warned the heads of education in Iran about the spread of Christianity in schools. December, 2011


Malaysia


Head of the Malaysian State of Perak Mufti (religious head) Dato' Seri Haji Harussani Haji Zakaria announced that there are close to 250,000 Muslim apostates in Malaysia. This figure includes about 100,000 Malay Muslims who have declared themselves Christians.

This announcement was made on a TV Forum entitled "Pekerti Islam" in the Malaysian State of Kedah recently which was aired by RTM (Malaysian TV & Radio Department) at 2 pm this evening.

Another 100,000 Muslims are in the process of filing for apostasy while the rest are filing in to have their Muslim name changed to "other religion name"

"This figure does not include individuals who don't do solat, doesn't fast and breaks all the tenets of Islam" he said. According to the Perak Mufti he has personally received a letter from the American Christian Missionary Association which accuse the Malaysian religious authorities of being cruel (or mean) for not allowing about 30,000 Malay Muslims to convert out to Christianity. February, 2006


Netherlands


Mosque attendance is dropping faster than church attendance (machine translated from the original Dutch).

One in five Dutch adults regularly visit a religious gathering. Church attendance was in recent years further back, but the mosque attendance fell hard. In 1998 was 47 percent of Muslims once a month to the mosque in 2008 that only 35 percent. "Half is rarely, if ever," reports CBS.

The percentage of Catholics who regularly visit services, dropped from 31 to 23 percent.

Again turn Protestants, including but PKN'ers and (experimentally) Calvinists are the most faithful churchgoers. Among them was therefore hardly a drop in sight: 63 percent visit at least once a month worship. Of these, half each week.

Volunteer: Especially the PKN'ers, and to a lesser extent, the Calvinists, show a strong commitment to the community by working as volunteers. People of other denominations and unchurched less so. According to the chart that the CBS does, Muslims are the least involved in the community.

CBS calls it "remarkable" that the church membership in the large cities increased, whereas in all other areas is declining.

July, 2009


Pakistan


There are over 700 cases of forced conversion to Islam in Pakistan each year, according to Fides [news agency]. June, 2011

Around 20 to 25 forced conversions [of Hindu girls to Islam] take place every month in Sindh. March, 2012

As many as 2,000 women and girls from various minority sects were forcibly converted to Islam through rape, torture and kidnappings... in 2011, according to a report by the Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (SPARC). September, 2012


Russia


The number of ethnic Muslims in Russia who adopted Christianity is 2 million, while the number of the Orthodox who have been converted to Islam is only 2,5 thousand, stated Roman Silantyev, executive secretary of the Inter-religious Council in Russia. . . . As a result of what happened in Beslan, the proportion of Muslims in North Ossetia has decreased at least by 30%, while in Beslan itself, where Muslims had comprised from 30 to 40% of the population, their number has decreased at least by half.

'As even Muslim sources confirm, after each terrorist action, thousands and may be even dozens of thousands of ethnic Muslims adopt baptism' November, 2005

The number of ethnic Muslims in Russia is more or less known and estimated to be 14.5 million, Silantyev said. Yet surveys say that there are only 7 to 9 million people who adhere to the Islamic faith in Russia. . . . 'Less than 3,000 ethnic Russian have converted to Islam for the last 15 years,' Silantyev said.

According to the researcher, for the same period almost 2 million ethic Muslims have become Orthodox Christians for the same period. Over 400 Russian Orthodox clergy belong to traditionally Muslim ethnic groups, 20 percent of Tatars are Christian, and 70 percent of interfaith marriages result in the Muslim spouse conversion to Christianity. April, 2007


Turkey


Some 35,000 Turks converted from Islam to Christianity last year,with most joining evangelical congregations the newspaper, "Milliet," reports. If true, this would amount to a mass movement, considering Christians make up only 0.2 percent of Turkey's 68 million population. January, 2004


United Kingdom


Families headed by a Muslim are more likely than other families to have children living with them. Nearly three quarters (73 per cent) had at least one dependent child in the family in 2001, compared with two fifths of Jewish (41 per cent) and Christian (40 per cent) families.

Muslim families also had the largest number of children. Over a quarter (27 per cent) of Muslim families had three or more dependent children, compared with 14 per cent of Sikh, 8 per cent of Hindu, and 7 per cent of Christian families.

The larger proportion of families with children and larger family sizes is partly a reflection of the younger age structure of the Muslim population, but may also reflect their intentions to have larger families. Many Muslims have a Pakistani or Bangladeshi background and it has been shown that these ethnic groups intend to have on average over 3 children, compared with around 2 for the White population. April 2001

Mr Hussein, a 39-year-old hospital nurse in Bradford, is one of a growing number of former Muslims in Britain who face not just being shunned by family and community, but attacked, kidnapped, and in some cases killed. There is even a secret underground network to support and protect those who leave Islam. One estimate suggests that as many as 15 per cent of Muslims in Western societies have lost their faith, which would mean that in Britain there are about 200,000 apostates. February, 2005


United States


According to research carried out by the respected Pakistani-born American Muslim Dr. Ilyas Ba-Yunus (1932 - 2007), 75% of new Muslim converts in the US leave Islam within a few years. Listen to the clip detailing this research (listen on Youtube)

Growth of Islam in the US stems from immigration.

Roughly two-thirds (65%) of adult Muslims living in the United States were born elsewhere, and 39% have come to the US since 1990. May, 2007

The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life says its latest report contains "the most up-to-date and fully sourced estimates of the size and distribution of the worldwide Muslim population."

. . .

When it comes to the U.S., however, the Pew survey offers a figure significantly smaller than those favored by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and other organizations. Pew says there are 2.454 million Muslims in the U.S., about 0.8 percent of the country’s total population.

Source: WikiIslam.net


The Hagia Sophia Cathedral - Istanbul, Turkey

Hagia Sophia - Greek: "Holy Wisdom"; Latin: Sancta Sophia or Sancta Sapientia; Turkish: Ayasofya


Hagia Sophia is a former Orthodox patriarchal basilica, later a mosque, and now a museum in Istanbul, Turkey. From the date of its dedication in 360 AD until 1453 AD, it served as the Greek Patriarchal cathedral of Constantinople, except between 1204 and 1261, when it was converted to a Roman Catholic cathedral under the Latin Empire. The building was a mosque from 29 May 1453 until 1931, when it was secularized. It was opened as a museum on 1 February 1935.


The Church was dedicated to the Logos, the second person of the Holy Trinity, its dedication feast taking place on 25 December, the anniversary of the Birth of the incarnation of the Logos in Christ. Although it is sometimes referred to as Sancta Sophia (as though it were named after Saint Sophia), sophia is the phonetic spelling in Latin of the Greek word for wisdom – the full name in Greek being, "Shrine of the Holy Wisdom of God".


Famous in particular for its massive dome [and has been used as the model for most mosques], it is considered the epitome of Byzantine architecture and is said to have "changed the history of architecture." At the time of its construction it was the largest building in the world. It remained the world's largest cathedral for nearly a thousand years thereafter, until Seville Cathedral was completed in 1520. The current building was originally constructed as a church between 532 and 537 on the orders of the Byzantine Emperor Justinian and was the third Church of the Holy Wisdom to occupy the site, the previous two having both been destroyed by rioters. It was designed by the Greek scientists Isidore of Miletus, a physicist, and Anthemius of Tralles, a mathematician.


The church contained a large collection of holy relics and featured, among other things, a 49-foot (15m) silver iconostasis. It was the seat of the Patriarch of Constantinople and the religious focal point of the Eastern Orthodox Church for nearly one thousand years. It is the church in which Cardinal Humbert in 1054 excommunicated Michael I Cerularius – which is commonly considered the start of the Great Schism.


In 1453, Constantinople was conquered by the Ottoman Turks under Sultan Mehmed II, who subsequently ordered the building converted into a mosque. The bells, altar, iconostasis, and sacrificial vessels were removed and many of the mosaics were plastered over. Islamic features – such as the mihrab, minbar, and four minarets – were added while in the possession of the Ottomans. It remained a mosque until 1931 when it was closed to the public for four years. It was re-opened in 1935 as a museum by the Republic of Turkey.


For almost 500 years the principal mosque of Istanbul, Hagia Sophia served as a model for many other Ottoman mosques, such as the Sultan Ahmed Mosque (Blue Mosque of Istanbul), the Şehzade Mosque, the Süleymaniye Mosque, the Rüstem Pasha Mosque and the Kılıç Ali Paşa Mosque.

Source: Wikipedia.org


Hagia Sophia, Istanbul


The Church of the Holy Wisdom, known as Hagia Sophia in Greek, Sancta Sophia in Latin, and Ayasofya or Aya Sofya in Turkish, is a former Byzantine church and former Ottoman mosque in Istanbul. Now a museum, Hagia Sophia is universally acknowledged as one of the great buildings of the world.


History

Unfortunately nothing remains of the original Hagia Sophia, which was built on this site in the fourth century by Constantine the Great. Constantine was the first Christian emperor and the founder of the city of Constantinople, which he called "the New Rome." The Hagia Sophia was one of several great churches he built in important cities throughout his empire.


Following the destruction of Constantine's church, a second was built by his son Constantius and the emperor Theodosius the Great. This second church was burned down during the Nika riots of 532, though fragments of it have been excavated and can be seen today.


Hagia Sophia was rebuilt in her present form between 532 and 537 under the personal supervision of Emperor Justinian I. It is one of the greatest surviving examples of Byzantine architecture, rich with mosaics and marble pillars and coverings. After completion, Justinian is said to have exclaimed, Νενίκηκά σε Σολομών ("Solomon, I have outdone thee!").


The architects of the church were Isidore of Miletus and Anthemius of Tralles, who were professors of geometry at the University of Constantinople. Their work was a technical triumph, even though the structure was severely damaged several times by earthquakes. The original dome collapsed after an earthquake in 558 and its replacement fell in 563. Steps were taken to better secure the dome, but there were additional partial collapses in 989 and 1346.


Justinian's basilica was both the culminating architectural achievement of Late Antiquity and the first masterpiece of Byzantine architecture. Its influence, both architecturally and liturgically, was widespread and enduring in the Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and Muslim worlds alike.


For over 900 years the Hagia Sophia was the seat of the Orthodox Patriarch of Constantinople and a principal setting for church councils and imperial ceremonies.


In 1204 the cathedral was ruthlessly attacked, desecrated and plundered by the Crusaders, who also ousted the Patriarch of Constantinople and replaced him with a Latin bishop. This event cemented the division of the Greek Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches that had begun with the Great Schism of 1054. It also means that most of Hagia Sophia's riches can be seen today not in Istanbul, but in the treasury of St. Mark's Basilica in Venice.


Despite this violent setback, Hagia Sophia remained a functioning church until May 29, 1453, when Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror entered triumphantly into the city of Constantinople. He was amazed at the beauty of the Hagia Sophia and immediately converted it into his imperial mosque. ...


In 1934, under Turkish president Kemal Atatürk, Hagia Sofia was secularized and turned into the Ayasofya Museum. The prayer rugs were removed, revealing the marble beneath, but the mosaics remained largely plastered over and the building was allowed to decay for some time. Some of the calligraphic panels were moved to other mosques, but eight roundels were left and can still be seen today.


A 1993 UNESCO mission to Turkey noted falling plaster, dirty marble facings, broken windows, decorative paintings damaged by moisture, and ill-maintained lead roofing. Cleaning, roofing and restoration have since been undertaken; many recent visitors have found their view obstructed by a huge scaffolding stretching up into the dome in the center of the nave. ...


All interior surfaces are sheathed with polychrome marble, green and white with purple porphyry, and gold mosaics. On the exterior, simple stuccoed walls reveal the clarity of massed vaults and domes.


The Islamic calligraphic roundels suspended from the main dome since the 19th century remain in place and make for a fascinating religious contrast with the uncovered Christian mosaics. The names painted on the eight wooden medallions are: Allah and Muhammad (flanking the apse); the first four Caliphs Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman and Ali (at the four corners of the dome); and the two grandsons of Mohammed, Hasan and Husayn (in the nave). ...


There are several interesting things to see outside Hagia Sophia, including three mausoleums of sultans, the church's baptistery, and the excavated remains [ruins] of Theodosius' Hagia Sophia [the second Hagia Sophia church building construction began on 10 October 405 AD].

Source: Hagia Sophia, Istanbul


David Anson Brown 08:12, 21 September 2012 (MST)