02 July 2013
by Reader Daniel Everiss
Two internet copies:
Explanation: 'The Rudder', for English speaking Orthodox, is the main source for knowledge about Orthodox Canons and the basic Seven Ecumenical Council's Decided and Approved doctrines, and as regards church discipline.
The canons exist, primarily, to keep sacred order in the church, and to redeem and save and rescue, not to destroy anyone, but to maintain Orthodox Religion and True Faith, and to bring the sinner to repentance and in the end, to save his soul.
And, the Holy Canons should never be used, as malicious weapons against anyone, neither as should the Holy Scriptures – yet both of these gross misuses, have been common in the past centuries, and even now.
The enemies of our Holy Orthodox Faith, as for one good modern example, the Communists, they have become un-excelled experts on our canons, i.e., to misuse them, so as to better control and manipulate us, to their own evil ends, i.e., to conquer and to destroy us, by our own laws!
The prime example: The Stalin founded, MP.
However, this Rudder, is a very huge and lengthy compendium, with many many explanatory treatises; and it is not always easy to quickly locate in its tedious pages – the exact canons on the exact subjects that one may be interested in.
Too, as one can read, the canons have to do with specific problems, specific sins, specific people and exact local problematic situations. Some of these exact ancient problems no longer exist today, yet many others still do.
In the day to day running of the church life, that is why we have bishops, as they are, mainly, the ones responsible to diligently and faithfully and fearfully, administer/APPLY these canons, as the local situations fit.
When they don't, then we have chaos.
The Holy Church Fathers, the authors of these canons, have in their further lengthy writings explained most of these canons.
*The INDEX at the end of this work, starting on page 1013, is a big help as to finding page numbers of the subjects/canons one is interested in.
The hard printed book, has 1034 pages!
Certainly, there must be other Orthodox-approved English translations, compilations of the decisions and canons of the First Seven Ecumenical Councils, and of the other Local and Regional Synods of the historical Orthodox Church, – all of our most important Church Laws. But, if so, I am not aware of such.
When such works have been done by Roman Catholic scholars or Anglican translators/authors, we need to take great care in reading their biased translations and interpretations, just as we must in their Patristic translations and publications. The Roman Catholics and the Protestants have long twisted church history, to suit their own aims.
Certainly, in Greek and in Russian and in other historical Orthodox cultural languages, these writings exist.
The printed book, The Rudder, originally put together by Apostolos Makrakis, and published in Greek, in 1908 in Athens, (if I am correct), is now very hard to obtain. ( hard copies of the English version anyway). It was first published in English (apparently) in 1957, in Chicago, U.S.A.
One proviso: Some modern Orthodox scholars question some of the 'Interpretations' under some of these canons, the work/thoughts of Apostolos Makrakis, as not necessarily THE one correct & sole un-debatable Orthodox interpretation. But again, this work is about all we have in English.
REPEAT STRONG WARNING: It is the correct application of the canons, that is most important. If wrongly applied, they can harm and destroy souls and cause endless schisms and a destruction of church life. They must be applied, wisely, and with LOVE, that same Divine Love that ECONOMIA, that Our Saviour showed us all, what He taught us.
The entire purpose of Christ's Body, His Church, is to redeem and to save and to rescue the fallen creation and mankind. It is the Devil's purpose, to...destroy. Let no Orthodox, therefore, misuse the Holy Canons, for evil purposes. If we do, then we ourselves fall under its condemnations.