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Attitude towards heretics


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#1 ecstoian

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Posted 15 June 2014 - 10:07 AM

What do the church fathers teach concerning the attitude a believer should have towards heretics ? I'm talking here about heretics who choose to continue to believe a heresy and who try to convert others to their heresy even after they have heard the most serious Scriptural arguments against what they believe, turning their backs consciously on truth.



#2 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 15 June 2014 - 11:54 AM

In the Orthodox Church, we have recourse to what the Ecumenical Councils and Holy Fathers say about heresies since Scriptural arguments rarely persuade the one holding to heresy because he imposes his own interpretation of scripture in support of his heresy. All the great heresiarchs were steeped in scripture and theology.



#3 ecstoian

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Posted 15 June 2014 - 12:33 PM

In the Orthodox Church, we have recourse to what the Ecumenical Councils and Holy Fathers say about heresies since Scriptural arguments rarely persuade the one holding to heresy because he imposes his own interpretation of scripture in support of his heresy. All the great heresiarchs were steeped in scripture and theology.

I am concerned about interaction to these people on the street. Should we still salute them ? Should we still smile to them ? Should we still speak to them ?



#4 Phoebe K.

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Posted 15 June 2014 - 03:12 PM

I tend to apply the Lord's example on how he interacted with Samaritans (the people whom all good Jews of the 1st century considered heretics), with love yet not condoning the wrong beliefs.  

 

The way the Church has always treated everyone outside of herself with Love and care while also wishing to draw them into the Church through love.  This care for everyone is what was most well known about the church in her early history and what many powerful people thought history have considered to be the most dangerous thing about the church.

 

On a practical note (as someone who lives as an orthodox believer in a non believing household) I have found the best thing to do is to live authentically and with love towards all.  That dose mean being friendly and welcoming to all wether we agree with them or not, we need to be firm on out beliefs when we are asked not compromising but also not forcing our view on others.

 

Phoebe



#5 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 15 June 2014 - 08:26 PM

Ecstoian is described as a guest from another religious tradition: it would be interesting to know which one.



#6 ecstoian

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Posted 16 June 2014 - 09:06 AM

Ecstoian is described as a guest from another religious tradition: it would be interesting to know which one.

I go to a baptist church.



#7 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 16 June 2014 - 12:49 PM

I go to a baptist church.

 

Thank you. So, which people do you consider to be heretics and which are not?



#8 Bryan J. Maloney

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Posted 16 June 2014 - 03:01 PM

Within Orthodoxy, I have learned there are the "heretics" and the "heterodox". The heterodox have been brought up in another belief than Orthodoxy and have never embraced Orthodoxy. Thus, they may have decades of indoctrination preventing them from seeing the truth. It could be analogous to someone who has had loud sounds blasted in their ears their entire lives. When a quiet song appears, they might not even be able to actually hear it for what it is.

 

Heretics, on the other hand, are those who have been within the fullness of Orthodoxy and chosen their own interpretations or ways, be it because they came up with it, themselves, or because they decided to follow another.

 

Finally, I am not God. I cannot be so arrogant and self-idolatrous as to believe that I somehow perfectly transmit the Gospel to any other person at all. I cannot be so arrogant, prideful, and self-idolatrous as to believe that I might not have made some error, either material or in presentation, that actually INTERFERED with the message. Thus, if someone doesn't become Orthodox after speaking to me, it means nothing. It could very well be entirely my fault, EVEN IF I DO NOT SEE HOW. To believe that I have given "the most serious Scriptural arguments" properly and that these people have actually turned "their backs consciously on the truth" instead of admitting the possibility that I actually somehow interfered with the truth is nothing better than arrogance, pride, and putting myself in God's place in my own heart.

 

That tends to inform how I interact with people.


Edited by Bryan J. Maloney, 16 June 2014 - 03:02 PM.


#9 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 16 June 2014 - 03:31 PM

Heretics, on the other hand, are those who have been within the fullness of Orthodoxy and chosen their own interpretations or ways, be it because they came up with it, themselves, or because they decided to follow another.

 

This is not correct: heretics may be such without ever having been Orthodox. For example, in 2010, Metropolitan Athanasius of Limassol described Pope Benedict XVI (and every Pope since the Great Schism) as a heretic and not even a bishop.



#10 Kosta

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Posted 17 June 2014 - 03:19 AM

What do the church fathers teach concerning the attitude a believer should have towards heretics ? I'm talking here about heretics who choose to continue to believe a heresy and who try to convert others to their heresy even after they have heard the most serious Scriptural arguments against what they believe, turning their backs consciously on truth.


The Apostle John teaches not to even greet them. In Orthodoxy we have strict rules on this. We cannot pray with them nor attend or participate in their religious services or rituals. The canons even forbid us from visiting the graves of their martyrs.

#11 Kuksha W.

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Posted 18 May 2015 - 03:31 AM

Greetings in the Lord! I am new to Monachos.net, and I know this thread is about a year old, yet I would still like to add my thoughts on the matter.

 

I remember reading in the Book of Acts, Chapter 10, about Cornelius the Centurion. Before he was a believer, his prayer and alms had gone up as incense in the sight of God. In the life of St. Innocent, there is an account of the Archangels Michael and Raphael appearing to a pagan shaman regularly, to catechize him in preparation for the arrival of St. Innocent. After over 20 years as an Orthodox Christian, I have never had an angel appear to me with laudations, nor have I been instructed by one face-to-face. 

 

Pretty pathetic on my part, if you ask me.

 

In other words, it is possible for a non-believer to be a follower of their conscience more than I can conceive of. I can be trounced in virtue by anyone, of any religion. To judge, or cut someone who would otherwise be amiable with me, out of my life because they hold a different faith - be it Protestant based, with its multitude of heresies, or even Muslim (in my opinion) - is rather mean.

 

At the same time, both Cornelius and the pagan shaman I mentioned were rewarded for their virtue by being brought into the Church. Even though a Methodist, Presbyterian, Sikh, or even Muslim, might have humility and other virtues that I cannot comprehend, similar to Cornelius and the pagan shaman, they are still outside of grace. It is only in the Church that grace is given through baptism and chrism, and only with these, with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and the sacramental life of the Church, can we have a chance for salvation. Even though the pagan or Protestant is more humble than myself, they are still outside of the Church.

 

Titus tells us that heretics should be rejected after the 2nd or 3rd admonition. I am not a theologian, nor a clairvoyant elder, or a fool-for-Christ, or a pillar saint, or even a priest, or monk. In fact, I am not even an Apostle. This means even though the words of the Apostle are true, and wise to be used, I am not so much the one to use the advice. After all, who gave me the blessing to go forth and convert anyone, anywhere, at all? I can not even save myself, and have not so much as the degree or training that would have me know what I am talking about. 

 

I reason this way: God loves everyone a bit more than I can comprehend, so maybe I should get out of His way. Just keeping the commandments should be enough for me, until such time as I am told to do more by someone who has the legitimate authority. 

 

Sorry for being so long winded on such an old post. God bless!



#12 Rdr Thomas

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Posted 19 May 2015 - 01:32 PM

I reason this way: God loves everyone a bit more than I can comprehend, so maybe I should get out of His way. Just keeping the commandments should be enough for me, until such time as I am told to do more by someone who has the legitimate authority. 

 

What of the Lord's commandment just prior to His Ascension?  "And Jesus came and said to them, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age." (Matt. 28 18-20)

 

That's a pretty authoritative statement, right?  The Church IS the body of Christ; we are His hands and feet and eyes and tongues and presence in this world.  This commandment applies to each and every one of us who call ourselves members of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church; one might even say it's a "standing order".

 

And it's probably not productive to conflate an unworthy messenger with the message itself.  This wanders awfully close to the heresy of Donatism.  A somewhat contrived example:  Your postman might be a pretty vile man; he beats his wife, gambles, drinks....when he delivers a bible in the mail, does that make the contents of the bible untrue?  :-)  It is even so with us; despite our lack of faith and faithfulness, we still have a message that is as potent and true now as it was when the first "Chris is Risen!" was shouted.

 

You might be interested in a recent podcast by Fr. Andrew Damick:

http://www.ancientfa...hodox_christian

 

With love in Christ,

Thomas



#13 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 19 May 2015 - 03:12 PM

Matthew 28:19, Christ's commandment (sometimes called, 'The Great Commission'), was addressed to the apostles. They established the Church and appointed their successors, the bishops, to continue that commandment.



#14 Rdr Thomas

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Posted 19 May 2015 - 04:21 PM

Reader Andreas,

 

Can you provide some patristics that this was only directed at the apostles (and bishops) only?  Saint John Chrysostom seems to imply differently (from homily 90 on Matthew's Gospel):

 

 What then saith He unto them, when He seeth them? “All power is given unto me in heaven and on earth.” Again He speaketh to them more after the manner of man, for they had not yet received the spirit, which was able to raise them on high. “Go ye, make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you;” giving the one charge with a view to doctrine, the other concerning commandments. And of the Jews He makes no mention, neither brings forward what had been done, nor upbraids Peter with his denial, nor any one of the others with their flight, but having put into their hands a summary of the doctrine, that expressed by the form of baptism, commands them to pour forth over the whole world.
 
After that, because he had enjoined on them great things, to raise their courage, He says, “Lo! I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.” Seest thou His own proper power again? Seest thou how those other things also were spoken for condescension? And not with those men only did He promise to be, but also with all that believe after them. For plainly the apostles were not to remain here unto “the end of the world;” but he speaks to the believers as to one body. For tell me not, saith He, of the difficulty of the things: for “I am with you,” who make all things easy. This He said to the prophets also in the Old Testament continually, as well to Jeremiah objecting his youth, as to Moses and Ezekiel shrinking from the office, “I am with you,” this here also to these men. And mark, I pray thee, the excellence of these, for the others, when sent to one nation, often excused themselves, but these said nothing of the sort, though sent to the world. And He reminds them also of the consummation, that He may draw them on more, and that they may look not at the present dangers only, but also at the good things to come that are without end.
 
“For the irksome things, saith He, that ye will undergo are finished together with the present life, since at least even this world itself shall come to an end, but the good things which ye shall enjoy remain immortal, as I have often told you before.” Thus having invigorated and roused their minds, by the remembrance of that day, He sent them forth. For that day to them that live in good works is to be desired, even as on the other hand to those in sin, it is terrible as to the condemned.
 
But let us not fear only, and shudder, but let us change too, while there is opportunity, and let us rise out of our wickedness, for we can, if we be willing. For if before grace many did this, much more after grace.

 

(Sorry for the KJV style translation; it was the closest one at hand.)

 

In any case, there are other passages from the Lord where he tells us not to hide our light under a bushel, or to bury our talents, etc.



#15 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 19 May 2015 - 04:47 PM

I looked at St John's commentary, of course, and it is apparent Christ was addressing the Eleven. St John says: 'After that, because he had enjoined on them great things, to raise their courage, He says, “Lo! I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world"' - surely meaning the Apostles. St John  goes on to say how they would be strengthened in the fulfilling of this commandment at Pentecost. In any event, only bishops and by delegation their priests have authority to baptize. The GOARCH site (http://www.goarch.or...th/ourfaith7065) appears to accept that Christ was addressing the Apostles. I have read that the notion of this passage applying to all and sundry is an Evangelical one.


Edited by Reader Andreas, 19 May 2015 - 05:01 PM.


#16 Lakis Papas

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Posted 19 May 2015 - 05:36 PM

In every day spiritual life one can be found in an antagonistic environment, where heterodox, or hereticals, try to absorb the light of Orthodoxy and bring darkness over our life.

 

Our main spiritual goal is not to confront others in secular confrontation. Our spiritual goal is to keep the Light that illuminates in our hearts. No matter what the spiritual status is, all baptized Orthodox christians keep the light of the Spirit that was put by chrismation in their hearts by following the holy commandments that are simple and easy: 

 

  • love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind
  • love your neighbor as yourself.


#17 Rdr Thomas

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Posted 19 May 2015 - 06:09 PM

You'll get no argument from me on the authority to perform the sacraments (of which baptism is one).  I do however take a little umbrage that only apostles and bishops are to teach.  There's a pretty strong tradition in the Church that the laity are involved in this as well.  It's even enshrined in one of the most common psalms the Church prescribes for daily prayers (and many services):  "I shall teach transgressors thy ways, and the ungodly shall turn back unto thee."

 

If I recall correctly, Athanasius the Great was a deacon when he wrote "On The Incarnation", and Maximus the Confessor was not ordained at all.  There are other examples.

 

---------------------------------

EDIT:

To point out, no where did you assert that only bishops are allowed to teach.  But it does seem to be a logical conclusion if we say that the Great Commission only applied to the apostles (and bishops).


Edited by Rdr Thomas, 19 May 2015 - 06:16 PM.


#18 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 19 May 2015 - 06:47 PM

It is quite right that not only those in major orders may teach, though priests, deacons and readers preach by the blessing of their superior. The Great Commission, if we may call it that, was initially to the apostles and it then passed to those whom they ordained to succeed them, the bishops, and those whom the bishops bless to teach.



#19 Kuksha W.

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Posted 20 May 2015 - 09:58 AM

Thank you, everyone, for responding. I feel welcome already!

 

Maybe more clarification should be given to the subject. Personally, I think there is a difference between a day-to-day sharing of faith, and the overt effort to convert others.

 

From my perspective, it would be silly to assume that a person can not, and will not, answer questions about Orthodoxy when asked on a daily basis.  I could respond with, "I, the lowly and humble one, can not raise my feeble intellect to comprehend your question - let alone answer it. Go, talk the priest, for he is a man of God, opposite to my wretchedness," when asked about Orthodoxy while walking to a weekly training meeting at my job. In all cases, people will laugh, shake their heads, and come back with, "Ok! You got me. But seriously, what is a 'Theotokos,' and why does it need protecting?" In this sense, the quote from St. John Chrysostom you provided is more than accurate; we are called to share the Faith.

 

In contrast, to go out of our way to impart an Orthodox understanding to the world around us, whether or not they know they need it, is not for everyone of us, but only those who have been set aside for such a task. Both the necessary experience in keeping the Commandments, and the grace of a blessing are needed if anything a person does or says is to be received with willing understanding by those being evangelized. 

 

If I was truly humble, and not a pantomime version of Kwai Chang Cain spouting, "Young grasshopper, I am but a finger pointing to the moon...." I could most likely say, "Hey, I am not sure about that question. If you are really interested, I can loan you this book I have," or some other similar answer, and end my most assured destruction of some person's salvation by shutting my mouth and letting the experts speak to the questioner. 

 

I guess a summation could be that until I learn to love my neighbor ("He that loves his neighbor as himself, does not have anything more than his neighbor," said St. John Chrysostom, an sentiment echoed by St. Isaac of Syria), I better proceed with caution when it comes to sharing Orthodoxy. Just as well, until I love my neighbor, it is impossible for me to decide who is a heretic, and who is not. I can apply logic and rationality to various words, and see how they compare with preconceived schemas of knowledge, and formulate an on the spot analysis of the root heresy of a used care salesman giving me the "deal of a lifetime," on a Datsun B-210 (Chiliasm, by the way), yet despite this "Orthodoxy by Rudder," I can be far from being a Christian. 



#20 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 21 May 2015 - 11:57 PM

But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; (1 Peter 3:15)






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