Chapter 2



28. a. An extensive aggregate of persons, so closely associated with each other by common descent, language, or history, as to form a distinct race or people, usually organized as a separate political state and occupying a definite territory. In early examples the racial idea is usually stronger than the political; in recent use the notion of political unity and independence is more prominent.

A number of persons belonging to a particular nation; representatives of any nation.

2. The nations.

a. In and after Biblical use: The heathen nations, the Gentiles.

b. The peoples of the earth; the population of the earth collectively.

4. a. The nation, the whole people of a country, frequently in contrast to some smaller or narrower body within it.

Two nations: phr. used of two groups within a given nation divided from each other by marked social inequality; hence one nation, a nation which is not divided by social inequalities.

Attrib. and Comb. (see also sense 1 a ad fin.), as nation-building, the creation of a new nation, spec. a newly independent nation; hence nation-builder; nation-state, a sovereign state the members of which are also united by those ties such as language, common descent, etc., which constitute a nation; nation-wide a., as wide as a nation; extending over, reaching, or affecting the whole nation; also as adv.

Oxford English dictionary, 2nd ed.


Theology. The doctrine that certain nations (as contrasted with individuals) are the object of divine election.

Devotion to one’s nation; national aspiration; a policy of national independence.

A form of socialism, based on the nationalizing of all industry.

Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd ed.

Ethno-Phyletism (racism)

Phyletism (from phyli — race, tribe) is the principle of nationalities applied in the ecclesiastical domain: in other words, the confusion between Church and nation. The term ethnophyletismos designates the idea that a local autocephalous Church should be based not on a local [ecclesial] criterion, but on an ethnophyletist, national or linguistic one. It was used at the Holy and Great ["Meizon" --"enlarged"] pan-Orthodox Synod in Constantinople on the 10th of September 1872 to qualify “phyletist (religious) nationalism,” which was condemned as a modern ecclesial heresy: the Church should not be confused with the destiny of a single nation or a single race; Orthodoxy is therefore hostile to any forms of racial messianism. Also, one should clearly distinguish between ethnicism (which has a positive content) and nationalism (which has a negative content and which in Greek is called ethnikismos [ethnicism]): the first should be considered the servant, the latter the enemy of the nation.

Course of Canon Law — Appendix VI — canonical glossary, By Grigorios Papathomas, Paris 1995


a. A particular form of polity or government. the state, the form of government and constitution established in a country; e.g. the popular state, democracy (cf. F. état populaire). state royal: a monarchy. Obs.

b. A republic, non-monarchical commonwealth. Obsolete.

29. a. the state: the body politic as organized for supreme civil rule and government; the political organization which is the basis of civil government (either generally and abstractly, or in a particular country); hence, the supreme civil power and government vested in a country or nation.

Distinguished from “the church” or ecclesiastical organization and authority. In the phr. church and state the article is dropped.

30. a. A body of people occupying a defined territory and organized under a sovereign government. Hence occas. the territory occupied by such a body.

(Without article.) All that concerns the government or ruling power of a country; the sphere of supreme political power and administration. The adjectival phr. of state (‘ F. d’état, It. di stato) is otherwise expressed by the attributive use (see 38) in state, in the sphere of government or politics.

Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd ed.


I. 1. a. Freedom from, or cessation of, war or hostilities; that condition of a nation or community in which it is not at war with another.

(With article.) A ratification or treaty of peace between two powers previously at war. Also, formerly, a temporary cessation of hostilities, a truce.) In Hist. often defined by or with the name of the place at which it was ratified.

With possessive or of (the peace of any one, his peace, etc.): A state or relation of peace, concord, and amity, with him; esp. peaceful recognition of the authority or claims, and acceptance of the protection, of a king or lord. Obs. (Has affinities with senses 2, 4, 10 a.)

2. Freedom from civil commotion and disorder; public order and security. (See also 10.)

3. a. Freedom from disturbance or perturbation (esp. as a condition in which an individual person is); quiet, tranquillity, undisturbed state. Also emphasized as peace and quiet(ness).

In and after Biblical use, in various expressions of well-wishing or salutation. Following L. pax and Gr. eirini ‘peace’ often represents Heb. Shalom, properly ‘ safety, welfare, prosperity.

4. a. Freedom from quarrels or dissension between individuals; a state of friendliness; concord, amity. (See also 11 a, 15.)

Kiss of peace: a kiss given in sign of friendliness; spec. a kiss of greeting given in token of Christian love (see pax) at religious services in early times; now, in the Western Ch., usually only during High Mass.

5. Freedom from mental or spiritual disturbance or conflict arising from passion, sense of guilt, etc.; calmness; peace of mind, soul, or conscience.

6. a. Absence of noise, movement, or activity; stillness, quiet; inertness. (See also 13.)

15. a. To make peace: to bring about a state of peace, in various senses:

to effect a reconciliation between persons or parties at variance; to conclude peace with a nation at the close of a war;

to enter into friendly relations with a person, as by a league of amity, or by submission;

to enforce public order;

to enforce silence.

To make one’s, or a person’s, peace: to effect reconciliation for oneself or for some one else; to come, or bring some one, into friendly relations (with another). (In quot. c 1400, to admit a person to friendly relations with oneself.)

Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd ed.


I. 1. a. Hostile contention by means of armed forces, carried on between nations, states, or rulers, or between parties in the same nation or state; the employment of armed forces against a foreign power, or against an opposing party in the state. For civil, intestine, etc. war, see the adjs. war to the knife [after Sp. guerra al cuchillo], see knife n. 1 b; war to the death, see death n. 12 c.

transf. and fig. Applied poet. or rhetorically to any kind of active hostility or contention between living beings, or of conflict between opposing forces or principles.

3. a. In particularized sense: A contest between armed forces carried on in a campaign or series of campaigns.

Freq. used with def. art. to designate a particular war, esp. one in progress or recently ended. Hence between the wars, between the war of 1914-18 and that of 1939-45 (cf. inter-war a.). Often with identifying word or phrase, as in the Trojan war, the Punic Wars, the Wars of the Roses, the Thirty Years’ War. holy war: a war waged in a religious cause: applied, e.g. to the Crusades, and to the jihad among Muslims. Sacred War in Gr. Hist., the designation of two wars (b.c. 595 and 357-346) waged by the Amphictyonic Council against Phocis in punishment of alleged sacrilege. War Between the States (esp. in the use of Southerners), the American Civil War. For servile, social war, see the adjs.

Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd ed.

There are three very grievous kinds of war. The one is public, when our soldiers are attacked by foreign armies: The second is, when even in time of peace, we are at war with one another: The third is, when the individual is at war with himself, which is the worst of all.

Homily 7 on 1 Tim 2:2-4, by St. John Chrysostom

War is a great evil, even the greatest of evils. But because enemies shed our blood in fulfilment of an incitement of law and valour, and because it is wholly necessary for each man to defend his own fatherland and his fellow countrymen with words, writings, and acts, we have decided to write about strategy, through which we shall be able not only to fight but to overcome the enemy.

Byzantine Manual of Strategy (VIth c.), Anonymous

War is the wing of death which overshadows the earth; war opens the gates of eternity for thousands and thousands of people; war crushes established the bourgeois order, coziness and stability. War is a calling, war opens our eyes.

How war opens our eyes, by Mother Maria (Skobtsova)

Without doubt, from the Christian point of view, war is an evil and a sin, against which the Church is obliged to struggle.

The Church and national identity, by A. Kartachov, Paris, 1934


The world “identity” can be used in several ways. In its proper sense, as its etymology from the Latin word idem suggests, it means selfsameness, that which makes a given object to be one and the same yesterday, today and forever. But in everyday English (and possibly in other languages as well), it is also used in a looser sense, to mean individuality or personality, that which distinguishes a given subject from others, “the set of behavioural and individual characteristics by which a thing is definitively recognisable or known.”1 Thus, in the United States for example, we can speak of an underworld informant being given a new identity as part of a government witness protection program.

When referring to the Church, Orthodox theologians most often have used “identity” in the former sense, to mean selfsameness. Consider this passage from an essay by Fr. George Florovsky:

The Orthodox Church claims to be the Church… The Orthodox Church is conscious and aware of her identity through the ages, in spite of all perplexities and changes. She has kept intact and immaculate the sacred heritage of the early Church, of the Apostles and of the fathers, ‘the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.’ She is aware of the identity of her teaching with the apostolic message and the tradition of the Ancient Church, even though she might have failed occasionally to convey this message to particular generations in its full splendour and in a way that carries conviction.2

What gives the Orthodox Church her identity, Florovsky continues, is “living tradition.” This is not “just a human tradition, maintained by human memory and imitation.” Rather:

It is a sacred or holy tradition, maintained by the abiding presence and guidance of the Holy Spirit. The ultimate identity of the Church is grounded in her sacramental structure, in the organic continuity of the Body, which is always ‘visible’ and historically identifiable and recognisable, although at the same time it transcends and surpasses the closed historical dimension, being the token and the embodiment of the divine communion once granted and also the token and the anticipation of the life to come.3

Most Orthodox theologians would accept this understanding of the identity of the Orthodox Church, though like Florovsky they would usually add some words of caution against triumphalism. For, as Florovsky observes:

There is no pride and arrogance in this claim. Indeed, it implies a heavy responsibility. Nor does it mean ‘perfection.’ The Church is still in pilgrimage, in travail, in via. She has her historic failures and losses, she has her own unfinished tasks and problems.”4

And like Florovsky, most Orthodox theologians would locate the ultimate identity of the Church “in her sacramental structure, in the organic continuity of the Body” — in her sacramental and spiritual life, which “has ever been the same in the course of ages”5 despite the “historic failures and losses.” They also would be able to point to times when this underlying sacramental structure has been determinative for the course of church history — to the Byzantine Empire, for example, where the institutional claims of patriarchs and emperors and the charismatic claims of monastics were equally subject to the test of the Church’s sacramental ethos.6

A full account of how these distinctive characteristics have emerged and have gained prominence in Orthodox self-understanding would require many volumes. At the risk of oversimplification, we may identify two main ways in which this has occurred:

by emulation, i.e., by imitation or appropriation for oneself of the claims, institutions or practices of another; and

by contradiction, i.e., by rejection of the claims, institutions or practices of another and concurrent development of claims, institutions and practices more or less directly opposed to them.

– The Formation of Orthodox Ecclesial Identity, by John H. Erickson Balamand, 1997

Notes for chapter 2:

1 American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 3rd ed. (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, [1992]), s.v.

2 The Quest for Christian Unity and the Orthodox Church, Collected Works vol. 13 (Vaduz: Buechervertriebsanstalt, 1989) 136-44 at pp. 139-140, originally published in Theology and Life 4 (August 1961) 197-208.

3 Ibid.

4 Ibid.

5 Ibid.

6 On the role of liturgy in maintaining Orthodox ecclesial identity see, among others, J. Meyendorff, The Byzantine Legacy in the Orthodox Church (Crestwood NY: SVS Press, 1982) 122-23, and also J. Erickson, “The Hermeneutics of Reconciliation. Perspectives from the Orthodox Liturgical Experience,” Reformed Liturgy & Music 30.4 (1996), 196-98.

Marginal quotations from chapter 2:

They [the Christians] dwell in their own countries, but only as sojourners; they bear their share in all things as citizens, and they endure all hardships as strangers. Every foreign country is a fatherland to them, and every fatherland is foreign.

The Epistle to Diognetus, Chapter 5

We live in a time of savage, animal nationalism, of a cult of brute violence, we witness a genuine return to paganism. A process countering the christening and humanisation of human societies is taking place. Nationalism should be condemned by the Christian Church as a heresy.

N. Berdyayev, 1935

Pogroms are the victory of your enemies. Pogroms are a dishonour for yourself, a dishonour to the Church!

Patriarch Tikhon of Moscow, 1919

For us Christians the Jewish issue is by no means a question of whether the Jews are good or bad, but a question of whether we Christians are good or bad. From a Christian point of view, racist anti-Semitism is absolutely intolerable, it clashes in an unequivocal manner with the universality of Christianity. Modern racism means de-christening and de-humanisation, a return to barbarism and paganism.

N. Berdyayev, 1935

One who is in haste to desert a secular condition and enter on an ecclesiastical office is not wishing to relinquish secular affairs, but to change them.

Epistles, by St. Gregory the Great, Book 3, Epistle 65

Absolute states on earth are the image of man deified, of anti-Christianity, they are the incarnation of the spirit of the prince of this world, from whom it is said: “and to it the dragon gave his power and his throne and great authority” (Rev. 13:2).

The task of the State of Christians is: serving Christian morality. However, such a service presupposes a certain spiritual equilibrium, where the state does not go beyond its own, legal tasks. Still even this situation always remains unstable; when the state crosses these boundaries, it turns into the beast.

Fr. Sergi Boulgakov, 1944

War is one of the tools in the hands of God, as well as peace.

War is a poison, which kills, but which at the same time cures and heals.

It is better to have one great and mighty river than many small streams which easily freeze in frost and which are easily covered with dust and filth. A war which gathers an entire people for a great cause is better than a peace which knows as many tiny causes at it knows people, which divides brothers, neighbours, all human beings, and which hides in itself an evil and hidden war against all.

Bishop Nikolai of Ochrid, 1929


For the Peace From Above — Table of Contents