My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ God,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.
HERESIES ARE THE DEVIATIONS FROM THE TRUTH
HERESY "Following one’s OWN CHOICE or OPINION instead of
Divine Truth preserved by the Church, so as to cause DIVISION
AMONG Christians. HERESY is a system of thought which
CONTRADICTS TRUE DOCTRINE. It is FALSE TEACHING,
which ALL TRUE Christians MUST REJECT (Matthew 7:15;
2 Peter 2:1). [ Orthodox Study Bible]
The Lord Jesus Christ says,
"BEWARE of False Prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing,
but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their
fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles?
Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad
fruit. A good tree CANNOT BEAR BAD FRUIT, NOR CAN A BAD TREE
BEAR GOOD FRUIT. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut
down and thrown into the fire. Therefore BY THEIR FRUITS YOU
WILL KNOW THEM" (Matthew 7:15-20).
The Deceptions of False Teachers
"But there were also FALSE PROPHETS among the people, even as
there will be false teachers AMONG YOU, WHO WILL SECRETLY
BRING IN DESTRUCTIVE HERESIES, EVEN DENYING THE LORD
Who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. And
MANY WILL FOLLOW THEIR DESTRUCTIVE WAYS, BECAUSE OF
WHOM THE WAY OF TRUTH WILL BE BLASPHEMED. By
covetousness they will exploit you WITH DECEPTIVE WORDS, FOR
A LONG TIME THEIR JUDGMENT HAS NOT BEEN IDLE, AND THEIR
DESTRUCTION DOES NOT SLUMBER" (2 Peter 2:1-3).
The holy Apostle Peter "reaches his main concern: ‘FALSE TEACHERS’
WHO ARE UNHOLY AND COMMUNICATE HERESY. They are arrogant,
sensual, and greedy, and they deny accountability in their lives.
Isolating themselves from Apostolic Doctrine concerning Christ, they
HOLD THEIR OWN "PRIVATE INTERPRETATIONS," MISCONSTRUING
DOCTRINES ABOUT THE Second Coming and the ULTIMATE
AUTHORITY OF CHRIST OVER US. Being DECEIVERS, they TEACH
AS THOUGH THEY POSSESS TRUE APOSTOLICITY.
2:4-10 God’s past judgments indicate what awaits the heretics: He
will divide the holy from the unholy in the life to come. We already have
the example of the "angels who sinned (v. 4) IMPRISONED IN THE LOWER
PART OF ‘HELL.’ while awaiting the Final Judgment. Verse 10 repeats two
major sins of heretics: (1) IMMORALITY, and (2) DISDAIN FOR "AUTHORITY
ESPECIALLY THAT OF CHRIST" (Orthodox Study Bible, p. 564).
"Even the briefest survey of the heretical movements in Christianity from the first days of the Church’s existence is profitable in that it shows, side by side with the common teaching of the Universal Church, the "RULE OF FAITH," how various were the deviations from the Truth and how very often they assumed a sharply AGGRESSIVE CHARACTER AND EVOKED A BITTER BATTLE WITHIN THE CHURCH. In the first THREE CENTURIES of Christianity the heresies spread their influence over a comparatively small territory; but from the Fourth Century certain heresies seized about HALF OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE and caused an immense exertion of the Church’s strength TO DO BATTLE WITH THEM, and at the same time, when certain heresie gradually died down, others arose in their place. And if the Church had remained INDIFFERENT TO THESE DEVIATIONS FROM THE TRUTH, WHAT–SPEAKING ACCORDING TO HUMAN REASONING–WOULD HAVE HAPPENED TO CHRISTIAN TRUTH? But the Church, WITH THE HELP OF THE EPISTLES OF BISHOPS, THE EHORTATION AND EXCOMMUNICATION OF LOCAL AND REGIONAL COUNCILS (AND, BEGINNING WITH THE FORTH CENTURY, OF Ecemenical Councils), sometimes with the cooperation with the opposition of the governmental authorities, brought the "RULE OF FAITH" unshaken out of the battle and PRESERVED Orthodoxy unharmed. Thus it was IN THE FIRST HOUSAND YEARS.
The Second Millenium has NOT changed this situation. In these years the DEVIATION FROM CHRISTIAN TRUTH, THE DIVISIONS, AND SECTS, HAVE BEEN MAN MORE THAN IN THE FIRST MILLENIUM. Certain currents hostile to Orthodoxy are no less passionate in their PROSELYTISM AND HOSTILITY TO ORTHODOXY THAN WS THE CASE IN THE EPOCH OF THE Ecumenical Councils. This means that IT IS ESSENTIAL TO BE VIGILANT IN PRESERVING ORTHODOX CHRISTIANITY. A SPECIAL VIGILANCE IN DEFENDING DOGMAS IS REQUIRED NOW BECAUSE OF A FALSE PATH WHICH HAS COME FROM CHRISTIAN CIRCLES OUTSIDE THE CHURCH; THIS FALSE PATH, WHILE IT SEEKS TO ATTAIN A SEEMINGLY GOOD AIM, IS UNACCEPTABLE FOR THE ORTHODOX CHURCH. IT IS DISDAINFUL WITH REGARD TO THE DOGMATIC SIDE OF CHRISTIAN FAITH IN ITS STRIVING TO REALIZE THE UNITY OF THE WHOLE CHRISTIAN WORLD. [Source: Orthodox Dogmatic Theology)
"The Evil One works insidiously, stealfully, covertly,secretly,underhandedly, deceptively, cleverly, and seductively. The devil and his angels explore us individually, looking for our weaknesses. The ENEMY offers appealing visions to our eyes, music to our earts, to each of our senses setting forth whatever might tempt us to sin. He arouses our tngues to speak evil about others, and urges our hands to injure them. He sets forth profits to be earned by shady and immoral means, and holds out earthly honors and false values to be preferred to heavenly ones. When he is unable to tempt us, he brings forth a threat of persecution so THAT FEAR MAY CAUSE US TO BETRAY THE FAITH. Thus we must always be alert for his MANY-FACETED ATTAACKS, READY TO RESIST HIM AT EVERY TURN."
HERESY IS EVIL. Its purpose is to destroy the faith and create division, confusion, hostility, anger, hatred, death, unrest, war, and turmoil among the Christians. One of the weapons used by heretics is deception. The heretic is manipulative and cunning. The heretic works in the dark and tactfully and maliciously is determined to lure or entice and convert his victim or victims to join him and to abandon the Lord our God. An example of this is his effort to tempt Christ Himself: "And the devil said to Him, ‘If You are the Son of God command this stone to become bread.’ But Jesus answered him, sying, ‘It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every wrod of God.’ Then the devil, taking Him up on a high mountain, showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said to Him, ‘All this authority I will give You, and their glory, for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whoemever I wish. THEREFORE, IF YOU WILL WORSHIP BEFORE ME, ALL WILL BE YOURS." And Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Get behind Me, Satan!" (Luke 4:3-8).
The Devil uses the same enticements to all humans but especially to those who seek power, wealth, positions of authority and honor, the prideful and greed and vanity. The devil claims to be the possesor of all wordly power adn wealth, and attempts always and dares to think that he is able to turn Jesus Himself from His true sonship and ministry. Those among us who are weak in faith are in danger of falling for these lies and deceptions.
The honest truth today is that outside the authentic Church of Christ, Orthodoxy, are lost in a sea of heresies. They are bounced and tossed to and fro from one denomination to another. Most of them do not know where they belong and they are constantly searching for the Authentic Church and yet the True Church of Christ is in front of them. Others, however, who are in the Church are attempting to subvert the Church from within. Saint Paul the holy Apostle warns the Christians about them when he says, "FOR I KNOW THIS,THAT AFTER MY DEPARTURE SAVAGE WOLVES WILL COME IN AMONG YOU, NOT SPARING THE FLOCK" (Acts 20:29). We know of course this to be true for the Orthodox Church was compeled to convene Seven Ecumenical Councils to defend the True faith from heresy. What Saint Paul warns the early Christians happened and continues to happen event today. The 3rd Ecumenical Council in Ephesus in A.D. 431 convened to preserve the doctrine OF THE TWO NATURES OF CHRIST (HUMAN AND DIVINE) IN ONE DIVINE PERSON AGAINST THE HERESY OF THE HERETIC NESTORIUS. Christian persecution was not only external but INTERNAL.
Tragically there are those who profess that "there are no more heresies" to be concerned about. That we must embrace all heretics and by doing so to embrace and approve and condone their heresies "out of love," for them. That is a great mistake and unacceptable to Orthodoxy. The Church is CHRIST HIMSELF. It is foolish, evil, and blasphemous for anyone to believe that Christ can be compromised and corrupted. That man, a creature, is able to have the power to destroy the Son of God, the TRUTH! "JESUS SAID, ‘I AM THE WAY, THE TRUTH, AND THE LIFE" (John 14:6). JESUS is the Truth because He is the unique REVELATION OF THE Father, Who is the goal of our journey through life. Amen.
"Glory Be To GOD
– Saint John Chrysostomos
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With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia (Ministry),
The sinner and unworthy servant of God
+ Father George