02 February 2013
St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, 1993 - Biography and Autobiography- 444 pages
The fullest account to date of Florovsky's life. Provides analyses of Florovsky as a Russian intellectual historian and as an Orthodox theologian. Includes a definitive bibliography of Florovsky's writings. Includes 16 pages of photos & index.
This is taken from OCIC http://orthodoxinfo.com/ecumenism/florovsky.aspx . I agree with OCIC that it is better for us to look elsewhere for sound Theology. Fr. Seraphim Rose recommends Fr. Michael Pomazansky. His book, Orthodox Dogmatic Theology, is available online and through SJKP. Also, there is a review on this blog. One article in particular I want to call attention to is: "Is There An Invisible Church?" is also posted on this blog - Joanna
Protopresybter Georges Florovsky
by Bishop [now Archbishop] Chrysostomos of Etna
Note: the one who sent this to me pointed out that "while Fr. Florovsky was a phenomenal scholar, had a sound Orthodox piety, and left us a tremendous legacy in his writings, he was not infallible. And he was certainly not a "Father," in the Patristic sense of that word. Needless to say, if this is the case for Fr. Florovsky, how much more is it so for [other modern Orthodox theologians]? We are far wiser to look to contemporaries such as St. Nikodemos for definitive resolutions of these issues."
When I arrived at Princeton to begin my doctoral studies a little more than two decades ago, one of the first people whom I met was Father Georges Florovsky, who had come to Princeton, after a distinguished career at Harvard University, as a visiting professor both at the university and the nearby Princeton Theological Seminary. I immediately approached Father Georges with several questions posed to me by the late Father Seraphim Rose, with whom I maintained a correspondence throughout my years at Princeton and until his repose. With the recent publication (1993) by St. Vladimir's Seminary Press of a comprehensive and generally accurate biography of Father Georges (Georges Florovsky, ed. Andrew Blane), I would like to recount some of this great theologian's conversations with me, thus providing details about his views not wholly evident in this book.
First, let me be blunt about Father Georges' view of the Orthodox Church in America. He was not at all reticent to speak to me, as a passage in the book in question suggests he otherwise was, about his dismissal from St. Vladimir's Theological Seminary. His personal comments about the seminary and about Fathers Schmemann and Meyendorff (whose scholarship he considered limited and deeply influenced by a non-Orthodox spirit), while reserved and polite, were nonetheless terse and quite critical. He would not have been, to my mind, pleased with the dedication of the new library at St. Vladimir's in his honor. I believe that, like me, he would have had reservations about the exploitation of his reputation by an institution which disavowed him and which he-at least privately-also disavowed.
Second, Father Georges was not, as Blane's book suggests, passive about the OCA's acceptance of autocephaly from Moscow. He always approached the Moscow Patriarchate with suspicion, and indeed he once noted, in answering a certain query from Father Seraphim, that he was of one mind with certain moderate elements in the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, the legitimacy of which he never questioned in any manner whatsoever. [He served it in Yugoslavia.] When I asked him directly about the OCA's autocephaly, he called it a "betrayal of sorts" and "unwise." Since he was officially under the Ecumenical Patriarchate, he did not, in fact, publicly concelebrate with OCA clergy when he Liturgized at Princeton. And when a Patriarchal delegation, under the sponsorship of the OCA, visited Princeton, he refused to sit with the Russian clergy in the university Chapel. He sat in the audience [with me and a friend of mine]. However, not only because of his friends in that jurisdiction, but because of his character, Father always treated OCA clergy and faithful with great affection, before and after autocephaly.
Third, this new book very fairly sets forth Father Georges' ecclesiology: that the Orthodox Church is the true Church established by Christ and the Apostles and that the heterodox Churches are not "equal to it" or possessed of its Grace. But it fails to show the extent to which, in his later years, Florovsky was in some sense "anti-ecumenical." Not given to humble admissions of error, he nonetheless once told me that he felt that the ecumenical movement had deviated from its original purposes and that he was perhaps wrong to have been one of its most famous proponents. He was not, as some claim, an advocate of joint communion; did not recognize the validity of non-Orthodox sacraments; and certainly did not concelebrate with non-Orthodox-something which he flatly condemned. Indeed, he even came to disavow a suggestion, in a study which he wrote on the sacramental theology of St. Augustine, that the Orthodox Church might look to the Bishop of Hippo for a model in approaching the sacraments of non-Orthodox Christians: a suggestion which some unscrupulous ecumenists still claim as a "blessing" on their attempts to distort the Church's teachings about non-Orthodox sacraments.
Finally, when one of my preceptorial students at Princeton (later one of Father Florovsky's students and now my assistant Bishop) approached me about converting to the Orthodox Faith, Father Georges agreed with my intention to have him Baptized either in the Russian Church Abroad or by the Old Calendarist Greeks, warning only that I should avoid certain extremist elements in both Churches. This "Orthodox ecumenism" in Father Florovsky is something which his biographers miss. It is an important element in his theology that compromises those who today condemn Orthodox traditionalists as "fanatics" and "outside the Church." They have no ally at all in Father Florovsky, who even concelebrated with Greek Old Calendarists when they were for a short while in the old "Russian Metropolia."
Father Florovsky was not a Saint. He was a brilliant thinker who left a rich theological legacy, but who also made errors in judgment that are today unfairly exploited. I hope that my respect and admiration for this great man of the Church are not lost in my attempts to point out the breadth of his thought and his repentance for some wrong thinking, and to protect him thereby from exploitation.
From Orthodox Tradition, Vol XI (1994), No. 2, pp 28-29.