Friday, June 10, 2011

The Fathers on the continuing indaba and mutual listening (and other such failures to fish)

"Now, if they who hold such views have authority to meet, your wisdom approved in Christ must see that, inasmuch as we do not approve their views, any permission of assembly granted to them is nothing less than a declaration that their view is thought more true than ours.  For if they are permitted to teach their view as godly men, and with all confidence to preach their doctrine, it is manifest that the doctrine of the Church has been condemned, as though the truth were on their side.  For nature does not admit of two contrary doctrines on the same subject being both true.  How[,] then, could your noble and lofty mind submit to suspend your usual courage in regard to the correction of so great an evil?  But even though there is no precedent for such a course, let your inimitable perfection in virtue stand up at a crisis like the present, and teach our most pious emperor that no gain will come from his zeal for the Church on other points if he allows such an evil to gain strength from freedom of speech for the subversion of sound faith."

     Gregory of Nazianzus, Epistle 202 to Nectarius, Bishop of Constantinople, trans. Charles Gordon Browne and James Edward Swallow (Christology of the later Fathers, ed. Edward Rochie Hardy and Cyril C. Richardson, Library of Christian classics 3 (Philadelphia, PA:  The Westminster Press, 1954), 231-232).  The views in question were those of Apollinaris, who was asserting 1) "that the carnal nature was in the Son from the beginning", 2) "that the Godhead of the only begotten fulfills the function of mind, and is the third part of this human composite," and 3) "that the only-begotten God . . . is mortal, and underwent the Passion in his proper Godhead", and of course death as well (231).

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