The Arena
The Arena

Episode · 6 months ago

Heretics | Sunday of the Holy Fathers of the 4th Ecumenical Council 2021

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The Gospel Revealed: An Exposition of St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans 


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Now available at patristic nectar dot Org. patristic nectar publications is pleased to present a new eleven lecture series by FatherJosiah Trennem, entitled The Gospel revealed, an exposition of Saint Paul's epistle tothe Romans. This most famous of all Saint Paul's letters is a majestic proclamationof the Christian Gospel, a Gospel described as the power of God revealed fromHeaven for the salvation of all who believe. The Great Apostle sets forth the direneed of all human beings for God's saving work in Jesus Christ, aswell as the majestic fruits that attend faith in the lives of Christians. Here, in sixteen chapters, Saint Paul expounds many themes that have captured the Christianimagination for twenty centuries. And now the arena with Father Josiah Trennem, inthe name of the father and of the son and of the Holy Spirit,a blessed Lord's Day to all of you, brothers and sisters. Thank you.I've entitled my sermon this morning heretics. I thought that might get a littleresponse just from the title. Heretics, not just because you just heard StPaul, in his epistle to titus, commanding his spiritual son to reject aheretic after a first and second warning, knowing that such a man is pervertedand self condemned, but also because this is the feast day today ofthe six hundred and thirty holy fathers of the fourth Ecumenical Council, this marvelouscounsel which set forth in such clarity the relationship of the divine and human naturesin our one Lord Jesus Christ. This council, as all counsels, wassummoned in response to the rise of heresies, in order to set boundaries around thefaith of the Church that was once delivered to the saints and that heretics, by their passions and their love of novelty and their rebellion, constantly tryto change. It has been a terrible irony of American life for decades thatwe don't believe in heresy anymore, unless you call someone a heretic. Theonly heresy in America for decades has been to actually think there's such a thingas heresy. That's the one and only heresy in a relativistic world is tothink actually that there might be a truth...

...revealed by God that the people ofGod are required to hold fast to, not to alter, to add toor to take away from. That's been the only heresy in American life forvery, very long. Until, of course, as soon as you embracethat relativistic worldview and anything goes, you in fact empower those who have theirown opinions and begin to think in their passions that everyone else needs to thinklike them. And so this open tolerance, this nondogmatic commitment, this idea thatthere can be a great society that makes no formal reference to God,has always been a historical fantasy. It's set rather the context for there tobe incredible eruption of authoritarianism, totalitarian states, and that's exactly what we see todaywith the sudden rise in wokeness. Are you woke? If you werewoke, if you are walk I know you're not woke, but if youwere well woke, you might not be woke enough today. You might havebeen woken off yesterday or maybe a month before. You passed the woke test, but that has to be update is like an update on your phone thatcomes every single day, update, update, update, update, or else beforeyou know it, you could be on the outs. It's a greatirony that the culture that didn't believe in heresy is on the heresy hunt likenever before. People are being calm constantly scanned to see if they are wokeenough. A lot of this spirit has been captured and driven by so calledcritical race theory, something that the churches forced to speak about and talk abouttoday, this amarant ideology which has captured in so many states the minds ofeducator, so much, though, that it has been integrated deeply into thecurricula of these states. Certainly this is the case in California, thank God'smany states are pushing back. Seventeen of our states have now passed laws againstteaching critical race theory and their state, thank God. But what's it allabout? Like many heresy's, it shares the qualities of many heresies. Ittakes a portion of truth out of context and rejects other portions of truth.So, for instance, one of the central or we could even say thecentral energy of this theory is that prejudice,...

...racism and oppression is evil. Webelieve in that, but why in the world do they believe in that. Why is prejudice evil if there's No God, if that God hasn't fashionedman and his own image and given dignity to every human being, if thatGod hasn't revealed himself as a kind, merciful and compassionate God who will nottolerate the abuse of the poor and will not overlook offense that we give tothe weak, who himself threatens wrath when the strong abuse the impotent or theweak? Why, if there is no god like that, is prejudice,racism and depression wrong? You know, I was reading recently some reflections onWolkens. I've been doing this for months, as I'm sure you have and thisauthor an atheist historian, but who sees at the core of this nuttyWokesm, this critical race theory. He referenced a historical event that took placein four D and Sixteen BC. The Athenians and their army were passing byone of the Greek islands, mellows, and they decided that they were goingto attack mellows, kill their men, though they were fellow Greeks, rapetheir women and children, make slaves. And so they did. And whenthe residents of Melos said to them, why would you do this to us? The Athenians simply said the strong take what they can and the week livewith what they get. That was it, the sum total of the World Viewof Athenian Soldiery in Sixteen BC. And who was there to say thatthat was wrong? Nobody in the world thought that was wrong, though,the except the people of God. The principle of the strong dominating the weekand the week deserving what they get because they're such pathetic people is a verycommon theme throughout history. This is the nature of heresy in the church.Heresies have arisen that take a lot of the faith and then innovate on someother area, and that's exactly what we...

...see going on today Christian principles,without being acknowledged for being prince of Christian principles like our radical opposition to prejudice, our radical opposition to oppression, our belief in the equality by creation ofevery human being, the equal worth and dignity of every human being, theseare revealed truths that come from God that undergird and have traditionally undergirded our Christiansocieties. Have we lived them perfectly? Of course not. We're not perfectpeople, but that doesn't mean that they're not exceedingly valuable and that they haven'tradically contributed to the health and dignity of human beings and the peace of societies. This is a time when truth and its opposite, heresy, needs tobe clearly articulated by the church. We need to call it out. Thisis the model that we receive today in the Gospel text and in the epistlelesson. The Gospel text is for the Faithful Holy Fathers who defended the churchfrom heresy. They are, according to the Lord in Saint Matthew, thelight of the world and by their beautiful good deeds they have led everyone toglorify our father, who was in heaven. This is why we pray and honoron this day the six hundred thirty holy fathers of the fourth ECOMENICAL councils. We call them conscientious keepers of the apostolic tradition, Luminous Stars upon theearth that guide us to the true faith. That's what we call them. It'shard to understand the impact of that description, luminous stars that guide,because we're not really a people that navigate by stars anymore. But when thatwas written, written we were used to get onto your boat and you usedto take a gage about where all the great constellations were to get your bearingsand to know, to receive from the stars guidance on where to go.Have that in your mind when you hear US sing this. How do weknow where to go? We follow the Holy Fathers. We keep the faiththat has been kept by our forbears, the faith once delivered to us.The epistle lesson is for the heretics who oppose the church. These are Paul'swords. Reject a heretic after a first or second warning, knowing that sucha man is perverted and self condemned. We don't play with heresy. Weconsider heresy to be deadly, the greatest threat to the world. This iswhat we think about heresy. Listen to these two verses from the praises whichyou probably just heard our chanters sing, describing the holy fathers and what inspiredthem to guard the faith and to cast...

...out heretics from the Church as trueservants of Christ God, the Godly Shepherds assembled all their wise experience as theshepherds of the flaw and with Godly zeal, stirring up righteous wrath they wrought righteousjudgment, who whoa with godly zeal, stirring up righteous wrath. They wroughtrighteous judgment, driving off diseased and grievous wolves, when, with thespirits sling weapons with for the right hand and for the left the spirits sling, they expelled them all from the church's ranks as fallen even unto death,stricken with a malady past all cure. For the Holy Fathers were venerable initiatesand seers of the divine, preaching from on high, teaching sacred mysteries anda second hymn in Orthros. When the rank of the Holy Father's flocked fromthe ends of the inhabited world, they believed in one substance and one natureof the father, son and Holy Spirit, delivering plainly to the church the mysteryof discoursing and theology. wherefore, in that we laud them with faith, we beatify them, saying what a divine army, Ye, God inspiredsoldiers of the camp of the Lord, Ye most brilliant luminaries in the noeticfirmament, Ye impregnable towers of the mystical Z ion, Ye scented flowers ofParadise, the Golden Lights of the word, the boast of NICEA and the delightof the whole universe intercede ceaselessly for our souls. Do you hear theextreme love and devotion that we have for our holy fathers, who taught usthe faith, who guarded the flock? Aren't you glad, dear ones?That's to mundane a think to say. Are you not completely overwhelmed with gratitudethat you live solidly in the Church of Jesus Christ in an age of suchinsanity and conflict? Aren't you grateful to be attached to Jesus and planted likeplants, with your feet on the ground in the church, not having towonder what I might say from Sunday to Sunday? Overwhelmed with gratitude, Iwant to end my my reflection on heresies by simply saying posting a question.How do you recognize one? How do...

...you not become one? I seeChristians everywhere succumbing to fads, ideological fads that are blowing so aggressively, constantlyin the process of change for the worse, unfortunately, as though truth is alwaysneeded to be revived. How do we not become one? How dowe stay Orthodox Christians and avoid the novelties? You know, you can't just sayin answer to that that you believe every bishop and priest who speaks,that if you just believe every bishop or priest who speaks, you're not goingto be a heretic. You know what would happen if you did that?You would become a heretic. Yes, sometimes we orthodox, in attempting torefute the heresy of papal infallibility, make every bishop and priest popes. Thatis complete nonsense. We don't believe in that. We don't believe that byvirtue of being a bishop or by virtue of being a priest, you areinfallible and the people should listen to you as though you are infallible. It'snot true. I'm not suggesting that you judge me. That would be verybad for you, but I'm also suggesting that you live as the mature OrthodoxChristians that many of you are and that you listen carefully. It's not asthough this is the first time you've heard me, but if it was,I would want you to listen very carefully. Do you know the names that wemention in the service today of the particular heretics that were thrown out.Let me remind you what their names are. Macedonius, Nestorius, F the keys, Dioscarus, Sabellius and Severus, the head the headless. Let metell you who they were. Macedonius, patriarch of Constantinople, Nestorius, patriarchof Constantinople, F The keys, our commander of Constantinople, Dioscarus, Patriarchof Alexandria, Sabellius, priest of Rome. I'm not sure how Sibelius got inhere because he's the middle of the third century. I can't get intothe mind of the hymnographer while he's here. I'm sure there's a good reason,I just don't know it. And...

...severus, the headless, Patriarch ofAntioch, just to throw that one in there so that you didn't feel toSmug smug. You see what I'm saying? Holy Bishops and priests at one time, no doubt, who became heretics and were cast out of the Churchas diseased limbs and Ravenous Wolves who had to be excluded from the fellowship ofthe Church. Yes, bishops and priests who expect to be listened to likepopes should be. We should greatly concern us. They should greatly concern us. Bishops and priests who loved to pound about their authority and demand people tolisten to them without proving by their holiness and by their faithful teaching, rootedin the tradition of the church, that they should be followed and that theyshould be listened to, should concern us all. All of these heretics.You know how they really advance their heresy? By bowing low and asking the civilauthority to give them support. They cooperated very closely with the civil authorityin the propagation of their heresies against the church. They loved power and theygravitated like magnets to those who had it on the Earth, worldly power.So how do we not become one? We hold fast to the faith and, in St Paul's language, we attach ourselves to those who have shown themselvesfaithful, to those who defend and live the faith carefully. We cherish ourbishops who have become bishops in their piety and love the flock, and weexperience their love and we hear their faithfulness and we see how they're living andteaching, just like therefore bears did and therefore bears and therefore bears. Becausenovelty, dear ones, novelty is the soil in which heresy grows. Ifyou don't want to be one, don't believe things that are novel. Don'tact and live ways that are novel. And if you hear priests or bishopsteaching things that can't be shown to have been taught and lived and by priorgenerations of the Faithful, take it with the grain of salt or, ifit's dangerous, reject it. Novelty is one of the ways that heresy arises, novelties in the passions of those who are teaching. Do you know whatthe Word Heresy Means? It's very important. You know what the word heresy means. It means choice. It means to choose, and we call hereticsheretics because they choose what part of the...

...faith they want to keep and whatpart they don't. And the part that they don't, they talk like they'reenlightened, that they've come to an awareness that this way of life that we'vekept, you know, we know better now, we have better science orwhatever it might be. I call it being a cafeteria Christian. You goin to the buffet, you take your little plate, your faith plate,and you go through it. I'll have some of that. No, Idon't like that so much. I'll have one of those, but no,and you end up with a faith of your own creation. We are absolutelydying of this, brothers and sisters. I'm not saying our parish, butour faith in this land. Cafeteria Christians are everywhere and that, dear ones, is a recipe for heresy, and heresy doesn't save because it separates usfrom Christ, our Savior, who is the truth. Guard yourself, guardyourself, be very careful to keep your feet in a culture that's blowing windsof nonsense at high speeds. Evaluate everything by the tradition of the church.Put everything through the sieve of the scriptures. Is that something that we've believed?Is that something that we've always taught, or is that something that started tobe taught and who knows, nineteen, fifty two or something? What dowe care about that? Then we can be ranked with the six hundredand thirty holy fathers who kept the faith at great cost, opposing an emperorand very powerful ecclesiastics in order to keep us Christians. May their names becherished by US and may God's truth be praised forever. Amen. We hopethat you have enjoyed and have been edified by this presentation offered to you byPatristic Nectar Publications, a nonprofit organization committed to nourishing the spiritually thirsty with thesweet teachings of the Holy Fathers. If you are interested in other available titlesor if you would like more information on patristic nectar publications, please visit ourwebsite at www dot patristic nectar dot org. Again, that's www dot patristic nectardot org.

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