Monday, April 22, 2013

Heresy according to St. Symeon the New Theologian


Who has access to the Holy Spirit? Is tradition static? Many today are amazed that we have new saints proclaimed even during our epoch…However; St. Symeon the New Theologian described how “it would be considered heresy and a subversion of Scripture to claim that later generations do not have access to the Holy Spirit or cannot acquire the same vision of God as given to the early Apostles, Fathers, and saints”[1], stating:


“Those of whom I speak and whom I call heretics are those who say that there is no one in our times and in our midst who is able to keep the Gospel commandments and become like the holy Fathers…Now those who say that this is impossible have not fallen into one particular heresy, but rather into all of them, if I may say so, since this one surpasses and covers them all in impiety and abundance of blasphemy. One who makes this claim subverts all the divine Scriptures. I think (that by making this claim) such a person states that the Holy Gospel is now recited in vain, that the writings of Basil the Great and of our other priests and holy Fathers are irrelevant or have even been frivolously written. If, then, it is impossible for us to carry out in action and observe without fail all the things that God says, and all that the saints, after first practising them have left in writing for our instruction, why did they at that time trouble to write them down and why do we read them in Church? Those who make these claims shut up the heaven that Christ opened for us, and cut off the way to it that he inaugurated for us. God who is above all, stands, as it were, at the gate of heaven and peers out of it so that the faithful see him, and through  his Holy Gospel cries out and says, ‘Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden and I will give you rest’ (Mt. 11:28). But these opponents of God or, rather, antichrists say, ‘It is impossible, impossible’”. [2]


[1] Bartholomew, His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch, “Encountering the Mystery – Understanding Orthodox Christianity Today”, (New York, Doubleday, 2008), p.41
[2] Symeon the New Theologian, “Catechetical Oration”, 39, 3-5, in the Classics of Western Spirituality series (New York: Paulist Press, 1980), p.311-313 

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