We have learned that the heresy of Name-Worshipping has been revived in our days mostly among the Slavic Orthodox, some of which have found refuge in the parasynagogues of the deposed or un-ordained who pass themselves off as Genuine Orthodox Christians but in fact are not. The adherents of these parasynagogues blissfully sleep, not realizing the danger of this heresy and they add even more judgment unto themselves, as if the Divine wrath which they have provoked by their schisms and the loss of so many souls were not enough. Hence, we see fit to offer a few words about this condemned heresy.
The spark of this heresy was lit by a certain Russian monk named Hilarion. He lived in the dependency of St Panteleimon’s Monastery (Mt. Athos) in Caucasus “Simon the Canaanite” and in 1907 he wrote a book on noetic prayer entitled “Upon the Mountains of the Caucasus”. Here the author, in his attempt to explain the usefulness of the Jesus Prayer presented the novel doctrine that “God exists in His name”.
This teaching was disseminated among the Russian Athonian monks. This new-found belief obtained another apologist in the person of Fr. Anthony Bulatovic, a former tsarist army officer. The disputes among the Russian Athonians were severe. The Name-Worshippers managed to elect the Dikaios (Abbot) of the Skete of St. Andrew. Abbot Misael of St. Panteleimon’s monastery and also Boulatovic both addressed Ecumenical Patriarch Joachim III who condemned Name-Worshipping. In his letter to Abbot Misael dated September 12, 1912 where among other things he says “We paternally, sternly and immediately command those monks there who thoughtlessly theologize, invent and introduce the deluded theory of the name “Jesus” to withdraw from this soul-destroying delusion…“ he also forbade the reading of the book “Upon the Mountains of the Caucasus”.
But Bulatovic remained in his beliefs. He published books such as “A Defense” and “Concerning the Name of God” (in Greek) and various letters.
Among other things Bulatovic maintained that:
“The name of Jesus is God”
“The words heard by the Apostles on Tabor are God himself”
“The words heard by the Israelites on Sinai are God himself”
“The Grace of God is present in the hearings and the writings of God’s name”
In other words, it is sufficient for one to call upon the name of God (even without faith, unconsciously) and God is obliged to be present with this person through His Grace and to fulfill his petition.
This is superstition however.
Following the advice of the Theological School of Halki Patriarch Germanos V also condemned this heresy (epistle of Patriarch Germanos V dated February 5, 1913) as well as the Synod of the Russian Church (epistle of May 18th and decision of August 22nd 1913).
It should be noted that in the condemnation of this heresy the famous Athonian Elder Kallinikos the Hesychast helped greatly. Having taught himself Russian he studied the writings of Hilarion and Boukovic and he wrote to both the Patriarchate of Constantinople and the Russian Church. Elder Kallinikos said concerning Name-Worshipping “they left the head and worship the hat”.
For this reason after the condemnation of this heresy the Russian Tsar and the Russian Church sent medals to Elder Kallinikos which are preserved to this day in the Athonian hut of St. Gerasimos.
God-willing we will soon publish more concerning the delusion of Name-Worshipping.
Published in «Φωνή τῆς Ὀρθοδοξίας» May-June 2005
Translated from the Greek
Saints Peter and Paul Orthodox Church in Tucson, AZ, is a beautiful mission parish near downtown Tucson, a city in southern Arizona. It was started in 1997 by Father John Bockman, who was a missionary priest formerly serving missions in Tennessee and Massachusetts since 1990. Read more...