The Nature of Heresy

Discuss the Canons of the Orthodox Church and the Anathemas, especially those against various heresies that have arisen since the beginning of Christ's Holy Orthodox Church.

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Isaakos
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The Nature of Heresy

Postby Isaakos » Sun 12 January 2014 11:00 pm

Greetings friends,

This is my first post. I am a convert to Orthodoxy, and currently a catechumen in the GOAA. Yes, I know. I am examining my options and checking my fire escape routes as we speak. :wink: However, in trying to understand the GOC approach to the New Calendarists, I believe I hit upon the central issue, or at least a key issue:

When does the private heretical opinion of a hierarch that is held either through simplicity or ignorance, place him in the condition of being formally a heretic? My answer is that when he is reproached by others and is called to give an account for his faith, and he remains stubborn in his opinions, he is then formally a heretic, and ought to be resisted. Before that, he may be materially heretical, but not culpable for his error.

If this is indeed the case, how are we to understand those New Calendar Hierarchs who, through either simplicity or ignorance, maintain communion with ecumenist hierarchs? I cannot bring myself to admit that they all have the same level of culpability before God on an individual basis for adhering to this heresy, and could this explain perhaps pockets of Grace that exist even within the New Calendar church, similar to the condition St. Isaac of Syria found himself in in Saudi Arabia in the Persian Church?

Remember, St. Isaac was a Bishop of a Church whose hierarchy was gradually accepting the heresies of Nestorius and venerated Theodore of Mopsuestia. All the bishops, heretical and Orthodox in Persia were in communion with the Catholicos. How is it possible that they could gradually assimilate a heresy and maintain saints within their church well into the 7th century, but the same cannot be said for the ecumenists? This seems sort of like a double standard? This is the number one issue that keep me from attending the GOC mission parish in my area.

So: When does a privately held heretical opinion become formal heresy? When it is defended after reproval?
Blessed is the man who has volunteered to hold and keep until the end of his life our holy Orthodox faith, the faith of the one Church of Christ and our mother, the Catholic and Apostolic Church.

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Re: The Nature of Heresy

Postby Dcn.Ephrem » Mon 13 January 2014 12:33 am

Welcome to the forums!

A heretic is known by his lack of repentance. The Apostolic tradition regarding heretics is this: A man that is a heretic after the first and second admonition reject; knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself (Titus 3:10-11). Another patristic principle: "With a great voice, Saint John Chrysostom declared that not only heretics, but also they who hold communion with them are enemies of God" (from a letter of St. Theodore the Studite). Those who hold communion with notorious heretics are sharers in their condemnation, according to St. Theodore, who said, "Keep yourselves from soul-corrupting heresy, whose communion is alienation from Christ."

The situation with St. Isaac is very different from our modern situation. The Persian Church had basically no contact with the "western" Churches of the Byzantine empire, and as far as the Nestorian controversy was concerned, the Persians were extremely ignorant of the matter. Actual Nestorians did not appear until relatively late. The scholarly study that Holy Transfiguration Monastery included in its older edition of St. Isaac's homilies explains that there was clearly a doctrinal dispute going on in Persia during St. Isaac's time, and in fact St. Isaac moved around quite a bit in order to avoid heretics. The reality, however, is that we have very scanty information on this period of the Persian Church. It would not be proper to use this as an example for how to deal with the spread of heresy.

Very clear examples exist, however. Read the life of St. Athanasius of Alexandria or St. Gregory the Theologian. Many very convincing examples could be produced: St. Maximos the Confessor, St. Photios the Great, St. Theodore the Studite, St. Mark of Ephesus...

With the New-Calendarists, there is no confusion of languages taking place. There is no misunderstanding taking place. There is a conscious taking of sides, a definite theological positioning which reflects two completely irreconcilable ideas of the nature of the Church and of Christianity itself. The GOAA has chosen a side which leads completely away from Christ, toward some other place. If you want to be Orthodox, you simply must not follow their lead.
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Re: The Nature of Heresy

Postby Isaakos » Mon 13 January 2014 4:11 am

See, when I saw the same question posted at monachos.net nobody would answer it directly! They diverted into synodal deposition! The OP asked what I asked: When does an heretical opinion make a person a formal heretic? When that person is corrected by others and shows himself to be stubborn and contumacious.

Still, I wonder, what about ignorant NC hierarchs? Do you think such a thing is possible? What about the much touted virtue of 'simplicity' and 'obedience' and not being 'distrarcted' by the fact that the heresy of ecumenism is separating millions from Christ?
Blessed is the man who has volunteered to hold and keep until the end of his life our holy Orthodox faith, the faith of the one Church of Christ and our mother, the Catholic and Apostolic Church.

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Re: The Nature of Heresy

Postby Dcn.Ephrem » Mon 13 January 2014 4:46 am

I find it difficult to believe that there are any bishops who are unaware of the controversies surrounding ecumenism and the new calendar. Like I said, it is a conscious taking of sides. If there are some pious men among them who are truly ignorant, God will help them and lead them to His Church. The presence of good people in the New Calendar churches does not sanctify those churches.

We are not supposed to obey those who disobey the Church, much less those who war against Her. Simplicity consists in singleness of purpose, in a complete lack of duplicity, and not in ignorance or sheepishness. Obedience is the cutting of of one's will, and it is the foundation of a willingness to entirely sacrifice oneself for the Truth. Therefore, true obedience and true simplicity will form within us the courage and self-denial necessary to avoid the seductions of heresy and to choose the narrow gate that leads into the Church.

Here is the Apostle's opinion again: But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed (Galatians 1:8-9).

Saint Meletius the Confessor teaches the same thing: "Submit not yourselves to monastics, nor to presbyters, who teach lawless things and evilly propound them. And why do I say only monastics or presbyters? Follow not even after bishops who guilefully exhort you to do and say and believe things that are not profitable. What pious man will keep silence, or who will remain altogether at peace? For silence means consent. Oftentimes war is known to be praiseworthy, and a battle proves to be better than a peace that harms the soul. For it is better to separate ourselves from them who do not believe aright than to follow them in evil concord, and by our union with them separate ourselves from God."

As for ignoring the spread of heresy, the Holy Fathers did not consider this a possibility. St. Theodore the Studite said, "It is a commandment of the Lord that we should not be silent when the Faith is in peril. So, when it is a matter of the Faith, one cannot say, O What am I? A priest, a ruler, a soldier, a farmer, a poor man? I have no say or concern in this matter.O Alas! the stones shall cry out, and you remain silent and unconcerned?"
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Re: The Nature of Heresy

Postby Isaakos » Mon 13 January 2014 6:46 am

Believe me, this is not where I want to stay at all. I do not think that it can be fought from within, which is what my friends suggest I do, and when I DO say something to them at coffee hour or whatever about the spread of the heresy of ecumenism, and how the New Calendarists are trying to Fight the enemy while waving his banner (The New Calendar), I am invariably accused of unnecessary prodding or unconstructive criticism. So, those people who advocate fighting from within, don't really do it, because, I mean, what else would it look like? What other form would it take than to lay bare the compromises of hierarchs, the criticism of heresy, and the defense of holy Tradition? I suppose it is just the fear of feeling the boat rock to some extent...hah...perhaps it is easier to try to SLEEP alongside Christ than to acknowledge the wind and the waves and to Cry out in fear?

Anyway, I plan on ultimately getting out, but I want to do it carefully, because there are a lot of good people who would perhaps follow if the right information was presented in the right way. Honestly, even the priest there has never said anything bad about the old calendarists in general. He has expressed his concern that some of his friends who are old calendarists have adopted a particular mentality of using the fact that they are TRUE Orthodox as an excuse for personal moral failure in their life.

For example: I am true Orthodox. The Devil will attack me more because I have the truth. I often fail because I am attacked more. Because I have the truth. They use truth as a way to justify spiritual sloppiness. Yet, this is an admittedly personal issue that could be relevant to any truth claim, not simply being old calendarist. It's just pride that leads to a moderate spiritual delusion. :|

Anyhow, please pray for me Fr. Deacon, that I may gain courage to address these concerns openly to my priest, and perhaps somehow, by God's mercy, get him to allow me to leave without a fuss. I would like to sail off quietly into the night, and I do not NEED his blessing, but on a personal level, it would be nice to have, so at least if others there began to rain down their criticisms on me, I could at least say I was "Given permission." But that won't ultimately stop me.
Blessed is the man who has volunteered to hold and keep until the end of his life our holy Orthodox faith, the faith of the one Church of Christ and our mother, the Catholic and Apostolic Church.

Archbishop Matthew Karpathakis

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Re: The Nature of Heresy

Postby Dcn.Ephrem » Mon 13 January 2014 7:10 am

Isaakos, I sent you a private message.
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Re: The Nature of Heresy

Postby joasia » Sat 18 January 2014 4:28 am

When does the private heretical opinion of a hierarch that is held either through simplicity or ignorance, place him in the condition of being formally a heretic? My answer is that when he is reproached by others and is called to give an account for his faith, and he remains stubborn in his opinions, he is then formally a heretic, and ought to be resisted. Before that, he may be materially heretical, but not culpable for his error.


I read an explanation that it's when he teaches the heretical view (opposed to the Apostolic teachings) to others and causes them to fall because of this false teaching. He leads them away from the truth....that is a heretic. If he keeps his thoughts to himself, he's just in prelest (delusion).
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. (Ps. 50)


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