There was one other thing, however. A series of older books, I want to say five volumes—slim, blue, purporting to give Orthodox views on such things as philosophy and psychology. The author was this Greek guy, Apostolos Makrakis. At the time I thought they seemed a little odd, not to mention ambitious, and I never got around to reading them.
A couple of years later, a friend who is now doing philosophy at Notre Dame showed me a book he’d discovered with something by Makrakis, wherein the author of the ‘Preface’ refers to the man as ‘the greatest philosopher since St Paul’ (sorry, I don’t have the reference—you’ll have to take my word for it).
Then, a couple of years after that, I bought 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). There, I read the following concerning a book by the Elder entitled, The Errors of Makrakis Criticized by the Truth:
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)
I should add that Cavarnos also speaks of ‘[f]anatical followers of Makrakis, failing to make the distinction between truth and error’ in his teachings (p. 114), thus accounting for the author of the ‘Preface’ I mentioned.
Well, now there is a blog out there called ‘Apostolos Makrakis: An Evaluation of a Century’, which features a bio of Makrakis slanted heavily in his favour. There is one post that attempts to elicit evaluations of Makrakis and which seems to suggest that because Elder Philotheos’s refutation of him has not been translated into English, we can’t really know what the elder said and we have to make up our own minds. The blog has been up since last May, but so far mine is the only comment (although a few others do seem to have availed themselves of the ‘surveys’ on the left side-bar).
Now, for the most part I wish to avoid controversy on this blog. I don’t have the time or spiritual resources for endless back-and-forths in the combox, and I just sort of enjoy getting along with people. But, while I certainly hesitated, in the end I thought perhaps I should call attention to this. My own opinion, which I give briefly in the comment I posted, is that evaluating something like this takes not only great theological learning, but spiritual discernment, humility, and unshakeable faithfulness to the Tradition of the Church. Elder Philotheos had these, I do not. I personally don’t feel I need to spend a bunch of time evaluating Makrakis on my own, because Elder Philotheos has already done this. If other people require access to the full text of the Elder’s critique of Makrakis in order to accept his opinions of the man and were willing to pay something for it, I would be willing to translate that book myself. But I don’t intend to waste my time otherwise.