Dearest Holiness, G., G., Metropolitan Rafael,
Please know that I hold you dearly and daily in my prayers.
I think that you understand, however, that we do have a difficulty that we must communicate about.
You have through a decree of your Holy Synod condemned those whom you call “Name-Fighters”. Do you understand, Holiness, that when you say this,. you are making a condemnation of me? (I also believe that you are also making a condemnation of Metropolitan Angellos, who also holds my belief on this matter, but I cannot speak for him.) I am a “Name-Fighter”, and have been so for nearly thirty-six years.
As you may know, Holiness, the monastery where I live is named “Holy Name”. Thirty-six years ago I asked Metropolitan Saint Philaret of New York to bless the title “Holy Name” for my monastery, and he gave me his blessing, but he made me promise him that I would always teach about this title in accordance with the Synods of Moscow and Constantinople in 1912 and 1913. This promise I gave to him, and I cannot now break this promise. I even learned later that this teaching was required by our Patron, St. John Maximovitch, and his elder, Metropolitan Anthony of Kiev and Galich, and Patriarch St. Tikhon of Moscow. I cannot reject the teachings of these holy men and Saints of God.
The precise teaching that St. Philaret insisted on was the following:
1) The Name of God is not the essence of God.2) The Name of God is not the energies of God.
3) Honoring the Name of God is both necessary and commendable.
Changing this teaching cannot be done by a decree of your Holy Synod. It must be agreed to by all three of our Synods, including the Synods of both myself and that of Metropolitan Angellos, and I can assure you that that is not going to happen. If my Synod attempted to change a teaching of previous Synods of the Church, and I did not have the agreement of your Synod and that of Metropolitan Angellos, I can assure you that you would now be telling me that the changes my Synod was attempting to make would count for nothing, and would have to be considered null and void. Even at this point in time, you can merely post on your publications and websites that this decree from your Synod, since it refers specifically to a matter of Church doctrine, cannot be considered final and in force because it does not have the approval of my Holy Synod and that of the Holy Synod of Metropolitan Angellos.
I have written extensively to you in the past month, clearly showing you that the citations of quotations by our holy elders and fathers of the Church that you presented to me were in fact misquotes, purposely altered to adhere to a series of false teachings. I ask you again, beloved Holiness, to read once again these statements I have presented to you. You must understand again that the Holy Spirit can, if He chooses,.bring to us the energies of God when we speak or chant the Name of God in prayer, but that still we must insist that the Name of God is not the energies of God. We will not forsake the teachings of our holy fathers, nor will we abandon the promise given to a man of such austerity, holiness, and miracles as St. Philaret of New York, whose uncorrupt remains are still with us here on the earth in New York State.
Please pardon me, Holiness, if I offend you. I do not mean to do so, but my love for you does make me fear for your soul, which I believe is under attack by the powers of the Prince of this world. Please prove yourself victorious by overcoming this dark temptation, and let such a victory allow you to join with me in honoring the most Holy Name of Our Lord and God.Your unworthy but loving brother,
(His Beatitude, Metropolitan) John
First Hierarch of the Holy Synod