In 1997, our edi­tor-in-chief Archi­man­drite Luke pub­lished an arti­cle in Ortho­dox Life titled, “New Age Phi­los­o­phy, Ortho­dox Thought, and Mar­riage.” One of the writ­ings that the author crit­i­cized was by Archi­man­drite George (Kap­sa­nis), the late abbot of the Athonite Monastery of St Gre­go­ry. We are now in receipt of a let­ter from that monastery explain­ing that key por­tions of the Eng­lish trans­la­tion, which Fr Luke used as his source, did not cor­re­spond to the orig­i­nal Greek text by Archi­man­drite George and could not be attrib­uted to him. We there­fore pub­lish this let­ter below with the aim of clear­ing any accu­sa­tion against Fr George. At the same time, Ortho­dox Life main­tains that the sen­ti­ment con­tained in the erro­neous Eng­lish trans­la­tions must be treat­ed with utmost cau­tion and skep­ti­cism in the light of Patris­tic teach­ing.

The text below has been light­ly edit­ed. Texts in Greek have been ren­dered in Eng­lish trans­la­tion or omit­ted where redun­dant.


Dear in Christ Fr Luke, your bless­ing.

I am writ­ing to You with the bless­ing of our abbot, Archi­man­drite Christo­pher. We were informed by Andrew Walk­er, the edi­tor of Plero­ma Books pub­lish­ing house, about your arti­cle “New Age Phi­los­o­phy, Ortho­dox Thought, and Mar­riage”, in which you men­tion our blessed Elder and Abbot, Archi­man­drite George (Kap­sa­nis) . In your arti­cle you referred to a pas­sage from the book The Eros of Repen­tance (Prax­is Insti­tute Press, ISBN 1–872292-04–6 ), also used by Clark Carl­ton (The Faith…, pg. 228–229). You crit­i­cize its mean­ing and clas­si­fy Elder George amongst the new age the­olo­gians.

The con­tro­ver­sial pas­sage in The Eros of Repen­tance and used by Clark Carl­ton is:

But what — more than any­thing else — man­i­fests the imprint of God on the human soul is the pow­er of desire (eros) with­in the soul… and the impe­tus which a sanc­ti­fied eros leads the soul ίn its move­ments towards its divine arche­type. The Saints, espe­cial­ly Max­imus the Con­fes­sor and Diony­sius the Are­opagite, under­stand this pow­er of eroti­cism as not refer­ring sim­ply to human sex­u­al desire. Το put it bet­ter, the sex­u­al urge is an expres­sion of that nat­ur­al yearn­ing which is implant­ed with­in us by our Cre­ator, and leads us toward Ηim.1

From this pas­sage you have con­clud­ed that Elder George:

  • Is a new age the­olo­gian believ­ing “that sex­u­al attrac­tion … leads us towards Him.”

The author of this work, The Eros of Repen­tance, Archi­man­drite George, by means of this play on words nonethe­less con­cludes that sex­u­al attrac­tion is a nat­ur­al desire, implant­ed with­in us by God Him­self, and leads us towards Him.2

  • Con­tra­dicts pre­em­i­nent Church Fathers like Saint Isaac the Syr­i­an, Saint John of Dam­as­cus and oth­ers.
  • and has con­fused the mean­ing of the term “eros” used by Saint Max­imus the Con­fes­sor and Diony­sius the Are­opagite, and attrib­ut­es a dif­fer­ent view­point to their prop­er teach­ing.

…The “pow­er of eroti­cism” is spo­ken of as if St Diony­sius and St Max­imus under­stood it as “not refer­ring sim­ply to human sex­u­al desire.” How­ev­er, accord­ing to the thought of the Fathers, it does not only not “refer” to sex­u­al desire, but in gen­er­al has noth­ing to do with sex­u­al desire…3

We believe that you wrote your arti­cle in good faith, accord­ing to your sources, and this explains your con­clu­sions. How­ev­er, the Elder was an accom­plished indi­vid­ual who nev­er believed or said any­thing of the sort. While the crit­i­cism has to do with an inac­cu­rate trans­la­tion, unfor­tu­nate­ly the Elder’s rep­u­ta­tion suf­fers from it!

We knew him, his beliefs, his ethos, his teach­ings, his holy life and his holy falling asleep. He nev­er held these beliefs or views, and he nev­er taught such things as those pre­sent­ed in the Eng­lish trans­la­tion.

Our blessed Elder was extreme­ly dis­tressed with the mis­rep­re­sen­ta­tion of his work. Unfor­tu­nate­ly he had con­tin­u­ous health prob­lems from 1999 and con­se­quent­ly was not able to see about the cor­rec­tion of the errors of the trans­la­tion.

After his falling asleep, we also want­ed to make the cor­rec­tions but had trou­ble in find­ing the orig­i­nal Greek arti­cle. The size of Elder George’s archives is mas­sive. The title of the arti­cle in the Eng­lish trans­la­tion “Man as an image of God” as used in The Eros of Repen­tance did not coin­cide with any title in his Greek works. With the inten­tions to repub­lish the book in a sec­ond revised edi­tion, we attempt­ed to recon­struct the pas­sage accord­ing to Elder George’s mind with­out hav­ing the orig­i­nal Greek to refer to. Andrew Walk­er made this, some­what cor­rect­ed, revi­sion known to you. From this revi­sion you nat­u­ral­ly had dif­fi­cul­ty in under­stand­ing how such a large error in trans­la­tion was pos­si­ble, and espe­cial­ly with regards to the sen­tence removed from the sec­ond edi­tion, that is: “The Saints, espe­cial­ly Max­imus the Con­fes­sor and Diony­sius the Are­opagite, under­stand this pow­er of eroti­cism as not refer­ring sim­ply to human sex­u­al desire. Το put it bet­ter, the sex­u­al urge is an expres­sion of that nat­ur­al yearn­ing which is implant­ed with­in us by our Cre­ator, and leads us toward Him.”

By the Grace of God, we recent­ly found the Greek pro­to­type with the title “The God-Man Christ teach­es man as the Icon of God.” The arti­cle was pub­lished in our monastery’s peri­od­i­cal (vol. 7/1982) by Elder George him­self. It is a sec­tion from a paper pre­sent­ed at the 5th Pan-Hel­lenic The­o­log­i­cal Con­ven­tion in Athens in 1982.

From this text you will notice that Elder George’s views are com­plete­ly aligned with the teach­ings of Saint Max­imus and Saint Diony­sius, and all of the Holy Fathers.

He writes:

“But what — more than any­thing else — reveals the divine imprint on the human being is the pow­er of eros with­in the soul and this eros’s move­ment towards its Divine Arche­type.

Accord­ing to Saint Max­imus the Con­fes­sor and Diony­sius the Are­opagite, “At times Scrip­ture refers to God as eros (desire), and at oth­er times as love, and at still oth­er times as the desir­able and beloved. There­fore, being Him­self eros and love, He moves; while as desir­able and beloved, He moves every­thing recep­tive to this eros and love towards Him­self… It is thus that the great apos­tle, Saint Paul, hav­ing come into pos­ses­sion of divine eros and become a par­tic­i­pant of the ecsta­t­ic pow­er, divine­ly inspired cries out: ‘I live yet not I, but Christ lives in me.’ He speaks as a true lover and, as he him­self says­, as one hav­ing tast­ed God’s ecsta­t­ic pow­er; no longer liv­ing his own life, but the Life of his Beloved, as exceed­ing­ly beloved.“4

This pow­er of eros with­in the soul makes man thirst from the depths of his exis­tence for uni­ty with his Arche­type, for Theo­sis, and to not find rest in cre­at­ed things and the finite. As Saint Nicholas Cabasi­las says: “The thirst of human souls needs, as it were, an infi­nite water; how then could this lim­it­ed world suf­fice?“5

Please note that in the orig­i­nal Greek text the fol­low­ing para­graph does not exist.

The Saints, espe­cial­ly Max­imus the Con­fes­sor and Diony­sius the Are­opagite, under­stand this pow­er of eroti­cism as not refer­ring sim­ply to human sex­u­al desire. Το put it bet­ter, the sex­u­al urge is an expres­sion of that nat­ur­al yearn­ing which is implant­ed with­in us by our Cre­ator, and leads us toward Him.

This inser­tion into the Eng­lish trans­la­tion, which adds ideas of sex­u­al desires and eroti­cism, sup­pos­ed­ly guid­ing one to God, is not in the Greek pro­to­type! Also note that the quote from Saint Augus­tine, ‘Όυr hearts can have no rest until they rest in Thee” is like­wise not in the orig­i­nal Greek!

You must fur­ther­more keep in mind that Elder George’s views on this sub­ject have been record­ed in many oth­er works of his. His views did not change from the time that he was a lay the­olo­gian and lat­er a cler­ic and abbot on Mount Athos until his blessed pass­ing on the day of Pen­te­cost 2014. His works, as well as the tes­ti­mo­ny of count­less bish­ops, cler­gy and lay­men con­firm the truth of this fact.
With this clar­i­fi­ca­tion, we hope to cor­rect a false impres­sion with regard to the per­son of Elder George. We wish that your spir­i­tu­al work is con­duct­ed for the Glo­ry of our Lord Jesus Christ.

With love in Christ,

[Signed]

Hieromonk Loukas

Mount Athos, 12th August 2016