The Arena
The Arena

Episode · 1 year ago

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

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Now available at patristic nectar dot Org. patristic nectar publications is pleased to present a new eleven lecture series by Father Josiah Trennem, entitled The Gospel revealed, an exposition of Saint Paul's epistle to the Romans. This most famous of all Saint Paul's letters is a majestic proclamation of the Christian Gospel, a Gospel described as the power of God revealed from Heaven for the salvation of all who believe. The Great Apostle sets forth the dire need of all human beings for God's saving work in Jesus Christ, as well 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 Christian imagination for twenty centuries. And now the arena with Father Josiah Trennem, in the 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 little response just from the title. Heretics, not just because you just heard St Paul, in his epistle to titus, commanding his spiritual son to reject a heretic after a first and second warning, knowing that such a man is perverted and self condemned, but also because this is the feast day today of the six hundred and thirty holy fathers of the fourth Ecumenical Council, this marvelous counsel which set forth in such clarity the relationship of the divine and human natures in our one Lord Jesus Christ. This council, as all counsels, was summoned in response to the rise of heresies, in order to set boundaries around the faith 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 try to change. It has been a terrible irony of American life for decades that we don't believe in heresy anymore, unless you call someone a heretic. The only heresy in America for decades has been to actually think there's such a thing as heresy. That's the one and only heresy in a relativistic world is to think actually that there might be a truth...

...revealed by God that the people of God are required to hold fast to, not to alter, to add to or to take away from. That's been the only heresy in American life for very, very long. Until, of course, as soon as you embrace that relativistic worldview and anything goes, you in fact empower those who have their own opinions and begin to think in their passions that everyone else needs to think like them. And so this open tolerance, this nondogmatic commitment, this idea that there 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 to be incredible eruption of authoritarianism, totalitarian states, and that's exactly what we see today with the sudden rise in wokeness. Are you woke? If you were woke, if you are walk I know you're not woke, but if you were well woke, you might not be woke enough today. You might have been 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 that comes every single day, update, update, update, update, or else before you know it, you could be on the outs. It's a great irony that the culture that didn't believe in heresy is on the heresy hunt like never before. People are being calm constantly scanned to see if they are woke enough. A lot of this spirit has been captured and driven by so called critical race theory, something that the churches forced to speak about and talk about today, this amarant ideology which has captured in so many states the minds of educator, so much, though, that it has been integrated deeply into the curricula of these states. Certainly this is the case in California, thank God's many states are pushing back. Seventeen of our states have now passed laws against teaching critical race theory and their state, thank God. But what's it all about? Like many heresy's, it shares the qualities of many heresies. It takes 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 the central energy of this theory is that prejudice,...

...racism and oppression is evil. We believe 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 fashioned man and his own image and given dignity to every human being, if that God hasn't revealed himself as a kind, merciful and compassionate God who will not tolerate the abuse of the poor and will not overlook offense that we give to the weak, who himself threatens wrath when the strong abuse the impotent or the weak? Why, if there is no god like that, is prejudice, racism and depression wrong? You know, I was reading recently some reflections on Wolkens. I've been doing this for months, as I'm sure you have and this author an atheist historian, but who sees at the core of this nutty Wokesm, this critical race theory. He referenced a historical event that took place in four D and Sixteen BC. The Athenians and their army were passing by one of the Greek islands, mellows, and they decided that they were going to attack mellows, kill their men, though they were fellow Greeks, rape their women and children, make slaves. And so they did. And when the 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 live with what they get. That was it, the sum total of the World View of Athenian Soldiery in Sixteen BC. And who was there to say that that was wrong? Nobody in the world thought that was wrong, though, the except the people of God. The principle of the strong dominating the week and the week deserving what they get because they're such pathetic people is a very common 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 some other 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 of every human being, the equal worth and dignity of every human being, these are revealed truths that come from God that undergird and have traditionally undergirded our Christian societies. Have we lived them perfectly? Of course not. We're not perfect people, but that doesn't mean that they're not exceedingly valuable and that they haven't radically 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 to be clearly articulated by the church. We need to call it out. This is the model that we receive today in the Gospel text and in the epistle lesson. The Gospel text is for the Faithful Holy Fathers who defended the church from heresy. They are, according to the Lord in Saint Matthew, the light of the world and by their beautiful good deeds they have led everyone to glorify our father, who was in heaven. This is why we pray and honor on 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 the earth that guide us to the true faith. That's what we call them. It's hard 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 that was written, written we were used to get onto your boat and you used to take a gage about where all the great constellations were to get your bearings and 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 we know where to go? We follow the Holy Fathers. We keep the faith that 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's words. Reject a heretic after a first or second warning, knowing that such a man is perverted and self condemned. We don't play with heresy. We consider heresy to be deadly, the greatest threat to the world. This is what we think about heresy. Listen to these two verses from the praises which you probably just heard our chanters sing, describing the holy fathers and what inspired them to guard the faith and to cast...

...out heretics from the Church as true servants of Christ God, the Godly Shepherds assembled all their wise experience as the shepherds of the flaw and with Godly zeal, stirring up righteous wrath they wrought righteous judgment, who whoa with godly zeal, stirring up righteous wrath. They wrought righteous judgment, driving off diseased and grievous wolves, when, with the spirits 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 initiates and seers of the divine, preaching from on high, teaching sacred mysteries and a second hymn in Orthros. When the rank of the Holy Father's flocked from the ends of the inhabited world, they believed in one substance and one nature of the father, son and Holy Spirit, delivering plainly to the church the mystery of discoursing and theology. wherefore, in that we laud them with faith, we beatify them, saying what a divine army, Ye, God inspired soldiers of the camp of the Lord, Ye most brilliant luminaries in the noetic firmament, Ye impregnable towers of the mystical Z ion, Ye scented flowers of Paradise, the Golden Lights of the word, the boast of NICEA and the delight of the whole universe intercede ceaselessly for our souls. Do you hear the extreme love and devotion that we have for our holy fathers, who taught us the 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 gratitude that you live solidly in the Church of Jesus Christ in an age of such insanity and conflict? Aren't you grateful to be attached to Jesus and planted like plants, with your feet on the ground in the church, not having to wonder what I might say from Sunday to Sunday? Overwhelmed with gratitude, I want 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 see Christians everywhere succumbing to fads, ideological fads that are blowing so aggressively, constantly in the process of change for the worse, unfortunately, as though truth is always needed to be revived. How do we not become one? How do we stay Orthodox Christians and avoid the novelties? You know, you can't just say in 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 going to be a heretic. You know what would happen if you did that? You would become a heretic. Yes, sometimes we orthodox, in attempting to refute the heresy of papal infallibility, make every bishop and priest popes. That is complete nonsense. We don't believe in that. We don't believe that by virtue of being a bishop or by virtue of being a priest, you are infallible and the people should listen to you as though you are infallible. It's not true. I'm not suggesting that you judge me. That would be very bad for you, but I'm also suggesting that you live as the mature Orthodox Christians that many of you are and that you listen carefully. It's not as though 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 we mention 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 me tell you who they were. Macedonius, patriarch of Constantinople, Nestorius, patriarch of Constantinople, F The keys, our commander of Constantinople, Dioscarus, Patriarch of Alexandria, Sabellius, priest of Rome. I'm not sure how Sibelius got in here because he's the middle of the third century. I can't get into the 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 of Antioch, just to throw that one in there so that you didn't feel to Smug 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 Church as diseased limbs and Ravenous Wolves who had to be excluded from the fellowship of the Church. Yes, bishops and priests who expect to be listened to like popes 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 to listen to them without proving by their holiness and by their faithful teaching, rooted in the tradition of the church, that they should be followed and that they should 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 civil authority to give them support. They cooperated very closely with the civil authority in the propagation of their heresies against the church. They loved power and they gravitated 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 themselves faithful, to those who defend and live the faith carefully. We cherish our bishops who have become bishops in their piety and love the flock, and we experience their love and we hear their faithfulness and we see how they're living and teaching, just like therefore bears did and therefore bears and therefore bears. Because novelty, dear ones, novelty is the soil in which heresy grows. If you don't want to be one, don't believe things that are novel. Don't act and live ways that are novel. And if you hear priests or bishops teaching things that can't be shown to have been taught and lived and by prior generations of the Faithful, take it with the grain of salt or, if it'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 what the Word Heresy Means? It's very important. You know what the word heresy means. It means choice. It means to choose, and we call heretics heretics because they choose what part of the...

...faith they want to keep and what part they don't. And the part that they don't, they talk like they're enlightened, that they've come to an awareness that this way of life that we've kept, you know, we know better now, we have better science or whatever it might be. I call it being a cafeteria Christian. You go in to the buffet, you take your little plate, your faith plate, and you go through it. I'll have some of that. No, I don'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 absolutely dying of this, brothers and sisters. I'm not saying our parish, but our 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 us from Christ, our Savior, who is the truth. Guard yourself, guard yourself, be very careful to keep your feet in a culture that's blowing winds of 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 to be taught and who knows, nineteen, fifty two or something? What do we care about that? Then we can be ranked with the six hundred and thirty holy fathers who kept the faith at great cost, opposing an emperor and very powerful ecclesiastics in order to keep us Christians. May their names be cherished by US and may God's truth be praised forever. Amen. We hope that you have enjoyed and have been edified by this presentation offered to you by Patristic Nectar Publications, a nonprofit organization committed to nourishing the spiritually thirsty with the sweet teachings of the Holy Fathers. If you are interested in other available titles or if you would like more information on patristic nectar publications, please visit our website at www dot patristic nectar dot org. Again, that's www dot patristic nectar dot org.

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