July 16, 2023

Homily Two for the Epistle Reading on the Sunday of the Holy Fathers - The Heretical Man (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

 Sunday of the Holy Fathers of the Fourth Ecumenical Synod
"Reject a heretical man after the first and second admonition." (Titus 3:10)

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou
The Apostle Paul orders his disciple Titus, who was a Bishop in Crete, to reject the heretical man after the first and second admonitions and not to deal with him. That is, wherever he meets a heretical person, he should try to advise him, but this should not be done for a long time, since it is probable that he is seriously ill and will not be amenable to treatment.

A heretical person is one who has a different point of view from the teaching that Christ handed down to us and that the Church preserves. These are heretical teachings about the Triune God, the creation of the world and man, the incarnation of Christ, the Church, the salvation of man, eternal life. All this teaching is contained in the Creed, in the doctrines of the Church, in the decisions of the Ecumenical and Local Synods, in the Holy Bible and the worship of the Church, in the prayers of the Mysteries of the Church. We may have different opinions on everyday issues, but as long as we are Christians and live in the Church, we cannot have different opinions from what the Church teaches.

Many heretical people appeared throughout the centuries, who used Greek and Eastern philosophy to understand the issues of the Christian faith, instead of relying on the experience of the God-seeing saints, that is, the Prophets, Apostles and Fathers. Essentially this is the difference between the Fathers and the heretics. The Fathers accepted the experience of the theoptic saints, while the heretics used contemplation, logicocracy, worldly wisdom and philosophy.

The words of the Apostle Peter are very important, that we the Apostles "did not know the power and the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with sophisticated myths", as is the case with philosophy, but "we were eyewitnesses of His majesty", i.e. "we saw the glory of Christ's divinity on Mount Tabor" (2 Peter 1:16). The heretics used "sophisticated myths", i.e. philosophy, which is a logical elaboration of myths, while the saints theologically were based on the experience of the theoptic saints and their own experience.

One wonders, however, why the Apostle Paul advises his disciple Titus to reject the heretic after the first and second admonitions? He explains it himself: "Knowing that such a person is warped and sinning, being self-condemned." That is, the conscientious heretic has deviated, has left the true path and sins by condemning himself. Heresy must be understood as a spiritual disease and the heretic as spiritually sick. Thus, the heretic who is not cured by the first admonitions, shows that he is incurable "uncorrectible and untreatable", so one wastes one's time dealing with him.

There are physical diseases that can be cured by taking medicine, but there are also physical diseases that cannot be cured and it is necessary either to have a deep operation or to isolate the patient so as not to infect others. Infectious diseases are dangerous for society.

The same is the case with spiritual infectious diseases, which are transmitted by heretics. In this sense, the Holy Fathers, as spiritual doctors, faced the heretics and expelled them from the Church. They did not do it out of hatred and malice, but out of love for the Church, the Christians, even the heretics themselves, so they repent and be saved.

The sad thing is when a Christian reaches the point of becoming incurable, untreatable. This is due to egoism, which is luciferic/satanic, together with philosophy and all the strong passions of love of pleasure, love of honor, and love of self. It is terrible when a Christian, even a Clergyman, mixes truth with lies, healthy food with poison, his personal views with the teachings of Christ and the saints.

Therefore, we should strive not to reach this incurable disease, heresy, but also to guard against modern heretics.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.

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