Monday, March 9, 2015

What is heresy and what is schism?

Heresies were born after the attempts a number of believers did and do in order to differentiate themselves from the Orthodox faith, teaching and life of the Church, leading to the formulation of their own teaching and faith. The heresies differentiate themselves primarily on two issues; they either deny the Holy Trinity, claiming that God is only the Father, whilst the Son of God and the Holy Spirit are considered inferior or lesser Gods or impersonal forces; or they refuse the two natures of Jesus Christ, believing that he is either only just man or just God.

Unfortunately, heresies have existed since the earliest days of the establishment of the Church. St John of Damascus, in his time, listed more than a hundred, showing that they have existed for centuries. That is why Christos Yannaras, during an OTRF Conference had claimed that: ‘. . . the history of the Church is a total failure. Today we have more than 300 churches.’[1] Nevertheless, we identify that in Pentecost we have the establishment of the One Church, a reality which is proclaimed during the Divine Liturgy, where we read the Creed: I believe in One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.’
Schism, on the other hand, takes the initial form of ceasing of communion with the local bishop and the ecclesiastical body. St Ignatius claims: ‘everything should be according to one unity . . . whoever does not come to the communal (worshipping) gathering he has fallen to pride and distinguishes himself.’ When the schism deteriorates and reaches doctrinal differentiation, it leads to heresy.

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