Ethno-Phyletism: A Problem for the American Church

The article “The 1872 Council of Constantinople and Phyletism” by Rev. Fr. Stephane Bigham provides helpful background to the Council of 1872. Metropolitan Philip of the Antiochian Archdiocese has often raised this issue in the past, asking “Why is a heresy in 1872 no longer a heresy today?”

I think we would find with a careful study that the Council of 1872 was not very successful in putting down the heresy, and that there were many instances of ethno-phyletism being tolerated on a smaller scale prior to 1922. That means that this heresy may be close to surpassing iconoclasm as the longest running heresy in the history of the Orthodox Church – a dubious honor, to be sure.

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  1. Greetings.. ! Seems annually, the term “Unity” gets paraded about: merely two things here to mention: 1.)Community..none w/out Integrity; none of that without Unity, and none of that without intimacy and none of that with ten centuries of nationalism ( and, ethnocentric thinking..); and, this unfixable because: 2.) A. Demterios announced a few yrs. ago ( to rejoice about !) that he believed Barak Obama was ” the next Alexander the Great !”.. nuts ? over medicated ? >or just terribly un-plugged from reality by any definition.. so what can we poor ignorant Laity do with such leadership..? Converts suffer from the condition of Christianity found upon deeper immersion into the family-ruled assemblies… no one at the top seems even remotely interested in the college -bound kids facing the devil professors… ( seems transcendentalism rules and the Horizonal axis vanishes.. why ? aloha Patrick S. Boulder

  2. “Ethnophyletism” is a heresy recognized only by the Greeks, who seem to think they should rule the world. Well if they’re so against ethno-phyletism, why do they appoint mainly other Greeks, even to Middle Eastern (or Indian, etc.) bishoprics? Could it be because Greek Orthodoxy is a primarily a mafia, and only secondarily a religion? Hmmm, that would go far in explaining the 2008 scandal.

    Not that the Russians are any better. (“Saint Putin” indeed.) Funny how Orthodoxy has zero credibility when it comes to ethics.

  3. Mona B. says:

    I’ve been attending Orthodox services for about four years. I have been a convert for two. People don’t realize how off-putting it can be when instead of being welcomed into the church, we are asked “Oh! Are you Greek?”. Every Greek church we go to (we’ve also visited Serbian, Rocor, Antiochian to name a few) we are asked what country we are from or if we’re Greek. When I say no, I’m Mexican, they say “Well, that’s ok. Greek is very close to Mexican, you know.” I have heard Council members state that they’d “…rather give food to a Greek man before any food is given to some homeless person.”
    It’s disgusting! The only Orthodox churches nearby are Greek. Is this just a Greek thing? The other churches don’t treat us this way. Why is it so important? Why is being Greek more important than being Orthodox? I’ve gotten to a point to where I can honestly say that I love Orthodoxy, it’s the people I can’t stand.

    • Orthodox Guy says:

      Try an OCA parish ( or one of the Antiochian parishes that is particularly good in their missionary vocation – there are many! Focus on the faith, leave the junk to people who want it :) Also, you might be refreshed by this talk by the late Met. Phillip of thrice blessed memory.

      • Hear hear! “Small ‘t’ ” tradition is important to a lot of folks as it’s been used for decades to try to keep parishes viable in many jurisdictions. But that sort of thing doesn’t actually have anything at all to do with your salvation, and for many who are in search of Truth and “Large ‘T ‘ ” (Holy Tradition), small “t” stuff actually gets in the way. Probably the people Mona B has encountered are indeed well-meaning, but let’s face it – they live in a bubble, and assume everyone else does too. So that’s why I felt it’s important to chime in and support the advice of “Orthodox Guy” — he’s exactly right. The OCA, and to perhaps an even greater extent, the Antiochians, are the most invested in “making a Church home for people who are searching” to find.

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