Criticism by Blessed Elder Philotheos Zervakos
Constantine Cavarnos’s book on Elder Philotheos (Zervakos), Blessed Elder Philotheos Zervakos (1884-1980), Vol. 11 in Modern Orthodox Saints (Belmont, MA: Institute for Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies, 1993). The book references a book by the Elder entitled, The Errors of Makrakis Criticized by the Truth and says the following:
Regarding the early Makrakis he [the Elder] characteristically says: ‘The teacher Makrakis was at first a philosopher, a very ardent zealot, a foe and critic of wickedness and the enemies of the Faith and the Church, of freemasons, simoniacs, and so on’ (p. 17). Again he says: ‘. . . At first Makrakis was great, he ascended to heights of wisdom, knowledge, zeal, faith, and virtue’ (p. 29-30).
However, later, says the Elder, Makrakis lapsed into pride, which with the passage of time grew greater and greater. Thus he fell, and his fall was great. Makrakis’ pride resulted in his falling into various theological errors and in making false, unfulfilled prophecies.
Father Philotheos points out and discusses the ways in which Makrakis went astray. As far as errors in doctrine are concerned, he notes that Makrakis committed the following: He taught (1) that the human soul was created out of dust of the earth, is material, and at death returns to the earth; (2) that human beings, initially dicomposite, are capable of becoming tricomposite, by becoming participants in God’s essence; (3) that Christ was perfected at His baptism; (4) Chiliasm or Millenarianism. The Orthodox Church, remarks the Elder, considers all these doctrines as heresies. (pp. 110-2)
Regarding Makrakis’s view of Christ’s perfection of Human Nature:
One of Apostolos’ errors, or so-called errors, we must closely inspect and come to a conclusion, is his view of Christ’s advancement in the flesh. Here is a quote from St. Athanasios on this subject:
“To men then belongs advance; but the Son of God, since He could not advance, being perfect in the Father, humbled Himself for us, that in His humbling we on the other hand might be able to increase. And our increase is no other than the renouncing things sensible, and coming to the Word Himself; since His humbling is nothing else than His taking our flesh. It was not then the Word, considered as the Word, who advanced; who is perfect from the perfect Father who needs nothing, nay brings forward others to an advance; but humanly is He here also said to advance, since advance belongs to man. Hence the Evangelist, speaking with cautious exactness, has mentioned stature in the advance; but being Word and God He is not measured by stature, which belongs to bodies. Of the body then is the advance; for, it advancing, in it advanced also the manifestation of the Godhead to those who saw it. And, as the Godhead was more and more revealed, by so much more did His grace as man increase before all men. For as a child He was carried to the Temple; and when He became a boy, He remained there, and questioned the priests about the Law. And by degrees His body increasing, and the Word manifesting Himself in it, He is confessed henceforth by Peter first, then also by all, ‘Truly this is the Son of God;’ however wilfully the Jews, both the ancient and these modern, shut fast their eyes, lest they see that to advance in wisdom is not the advance of Wisdom Itself, but rather the manhood’s advance in It. For ‘Jesus advanced in wisdom and grace;’ and, if we may speak what is explanatory as well as true, He advanced in Himself; for ‘Wisdom builded herself an house,’ and in herself she gave the house advancement. (What moreover is this advance that is spoken of, but, as I said before, the deifying and grace imparted from Wisdom to men, sin being obliterated in them and their inward corruption, according to their likeness and relationship to the flesh of the Word?) For thus, the body increasing in stature, there developed in it the manifestation of the Godhead also, and to all was it displayed that the body was God’s Temple, and that God was in the body. And if they urge, hat ‘The Word become flesh’ is called Jesus, and refer to Him the term ‘advanced,’ they must be told that neither does this impair3161 the Father’s Light, which is the Son, but that it still shews that the Word has become man, and bore true flesh. And as we said that He suffered in the flesh, and hungered in the flesh, and was fatigued in the flesh, so also reasonably may He be said to have advanced in the flesh; for neither did the advance, such as we have described it, take place with the Word external to the flesh, for in Him was the flesh which advanced and His is it called, and that as before, that man’s advance might abide and fail not, because of the Word which is with it. Neither then was the advance the Word’s, nor was the flesh Wisdom, but the flesh became the body of Wisdom. Therefore, as we have already said, not Wisdom, as Wisdom, advanced in respect of Itself; but the manhood advanced in Wisdom, transcending by degrees human nature, and being deified, and becoming and appearing to all as the organ of Wisdom for the operation and the shining forth3167 of the Godhead. Wherefore neither said he, ‘The Word advanced,’ but Jesus, by which Name the Lord was called when He became man; so that the advance is of the human nature in such wise as we explained above. – Discourse III