Monday, 4 November 2013

Heresy as Intellectual Temptation

Heresy involves many temptations. But one that I wish to discuss is the temptation of intellectual simplicity! Simplicity is a double-edged sword. We need simplicity when referring to the Gospel and its theology but we need this simplicity to be orthodox. This is not “simple.” Really, the simplicity that we need is not so much simple as it is concise. There is a huge difference. When one is simple in theology one overlooks many suppositions in order to arrive at the simplistic plain. This is what heresy does! It paints a picture without prepping the canvas. The paint will not hold up under time or examination and thus peel right off. But being concise means prepping the canvas while painting the picture, a skill reserved for those with experience and calling in a particular spiritual field.
Heresy many times speaks to the undereducated and lower classes – or, simply put, people without proper resources (many times even the “educated” do not have proper resource). Heresy makes a theologian out of just about anyone, giving them quick access to ”theology” through a minimal amount of study. An exception to this rule would be heresies that demand extensive linguistic studies, which seem to be primarily designed to replace the Church itself.
Heresy usually involves denying much of the Church’s teachings throughout history in order to show how some type of modern – even in the medieval sense – prophet or teacher has suddenly found the truth. They tend to imply that the Church was hiding for the past thousand or so years and this person or group has suddenly found it in the form of new doctrine and practice.
Heresy spreads very fast due to the despondent crowd that is targeted by the master heretic. These hopeless and uninformed people will eat the heresy straight from the palm of their new master’s hand, desperately panting for intellectual status. When the desperate soul is found by the heretic and proselytized to, they usually feel very enlightened and enriched, at first, believing that they have finally discovered what God has intended for them. The propositions begin to hit them very fast and hard, leading them to feel overwhelmed yet also joyful, due to the nature of what is being pitched. It is overwhelming because of many reasons but it is joyful because it has just the right amount of historical revelation – usually in the form of Bible verses – sprinkled throughout the recipe. It’s laced with truth.
These sprinkles of truth that the heresy is laced with is usually very easy to understand and speaks to the flesh in many ways. Instant supposed sanctification through knowledge is many times the culprit. The ancient heresy of Gnosticism was like this. It appealed to people because it immediately stimulated their intellect. It appeased their need for knowledge.
The Gospel does not sanctify like Gnosticism or its contemporary counterparts. The Gospel works through humility, submission, pain, and even turmoil. One must become “childlike” to receive the Gospel. After one receives it one can or may begin to exhaustively study its implications, but for the most part Gospel sanctification involves just a lot of hard work and dying to one’s self! One submits to the Church and then bathes in grace.
God said in Matthew that nothing would EVER penetrate His Church. We all know by looking at history who the Church is, but some insist that there “is more” than what the Church can immediately offer them and thus begin to revert to some sort of reformed model where the Church is being reinvented every couple years – ultimately excommunicating itself – sometimes unknowingly – from the historical Church. The Church is the safe-house for God’s elect. It is the “pillar of truth,” as St. Paul says in 1 Timothy 3:15. The Church will indeed let you down at times but it will never kill your soul. Only your arrogant desire for “truth” will do that.

Ἅγ.Ἰουστῖνος Πόποβιτς-Τί πρέπει νὰ αἰτούμεθα τὸν Θεὸ καὶ τί ὄχι.

 Ἅγιος Ἰουστῖνος Πόποβιτς    
«Ἐὰν τὶς ἴδῃ τὸν ἀδελφὸν αὐτοῦ ἁμαρτάνοντα ἁμαρτίαν μὴ πρὸς θάνατον, αἰτήσει, καὶ δώσει αὐτῷ ζωήν, τοῖς ἁμαρτάνουσι μὴ πρὸς θάνατον. Ἔστιν ἁμαρτία πρὸς θάνατον· οὐ περὶ ἐκείνης λέγω ἵνα ἐρωτήσῃ» (Α” Ἰωάννου 5,16). Εὐαγγελικὸ εἶναι νὰ ἐπιθυμεῖς γιὰ τὸν καθένα τὴν σωτηρία του καὶ νὰ ἐργάζεσαι γι” αὐτήν. Αὐτὴ εἶναι ἡ ἐπιθυμία τοῦ Χριστοῦ γιὰ καθέναν, αὐτὸ πρέπει νὰ εἶναι καὶ δική μας ἐπιθυμία. Καὶ τοῦτο σημαίνει: νὰ μὴν ἐπιθυμοῦμε γιὰ κανέναν τὴν ἁμαρτία καὶ ἐκεῖνο ποὺ εἶναι ἁμαρτωλό, ἀλλὰ πάντα νὰ ἐπιθυμοῦμε τὸ ἀγαθὸ καὶ ἐκεῖνο ποὺ ὁδηγεῖ στὸν Πανάγαθο· νὰ μὴν ἐπιθυμοῦμε γιὰ κανέναν τὸ θάνατο καὶ ὅ,τι εἶναι θανατηφόρο, ἀλλὰ πάντα νὰ ἐπιθυμοῦμε τὴν ἀθανασία καὶ ὅ,τι ὁδηγεῖ στὴν ἀθανασία· νὰ μὴν ἐπιθυμοῦμε γιὰ κανέναν τὸν διάβολο καὶ ἐκεῖνο ποὺ εἶναι διαβολικό, ἀλλὰ γιὰ τὸν καθέναν νὰ ἐπιθυμοῦμε τὸν Χριστὸ καὶ ὅ,τι εἶναι τοῦ Χριστοῦ. Οἱ ἄνθρωποι ποὺ ἀγαποῦν τὴν ἁμαρτία, ἐπιθυμοῦν γιὰ τὸν ἑαυτὸ τοὺς τὸν θάνατο. Ἐὰν κάποιος εἶναι ἀνεπιστρεπτὶ ἐρωτευμένος μὲ τὶς ἁμαρτίες του, αὐτὸς ἤδη θανάτωσε τὸν ἐαυτό του. Ἐὰν ἐπιθυμεῖ κάποιος τὴν ἁμαρτία γι” ἄλλον, αὐτὸς ἐπιθυμεῖ τὸν θάνατό του. Ἐπειδὴ «ἡ ἁμαρτία ἀποτελεσθεῖσα ἀποκύει θάνατον» (Ἰακ. α’, 15). Ὑπάρχουν δύο εἴδη ἁμαρτίας: ἡ «ἁμαρτία μὴ πρὸς θάνατον» καὶ ἡ «ἁμαρτία πρὸς θάνατον». Ἡ «ἁμαρτία μὴ πρὸς θάνατον» εἶναι ἐκείνη ἡ ἁμαρτία γιὰ τὴν ὁποία ὁ ἄνθρωπος μετανοεῖ. Κάθε ἁμαρτία φέρνει στὴν ψυχὴ ἀπὸ ἕνα μικρὸ θάνατο· ἐνῶ μὲ τὴν μετάνοια ὁ ἄνθρωπος διώχνει τὴν ἁμαρτία ἀπὸ μέσα του, διώχνει τὸν θάνατο, ἀνασταίνει τὴν ψυχὴ του ἐκ νεκρῶν. Ἡ μετάνοια δὲν εἶναι μόνο δεύτερη βάπτιση, ἀλλὰ καὶ πρώτη ἀνάσταση. Ἀνάσταση τῆς ψυχῆς ἐκ νεκρῶν. Ἡ μετάνοια καταστρέφει τὸν τάφο τῆς ψυχῆς, ἐξαφανίζει τὸν πνευματικὸ θάνατο, εἰσάγοντας τὸν ἄνθρωπο στὴν αἰώνια ζωή. Ὁποιεσδήποτε ἁμαρτίες κι ἂν ἔχει ὁ ἄνθρωπος, ἐὰν μετανοήσει, «ἠγέρθη ἐκ νεκρῶν»: «νεκρὸς ἦν καὶ ἀνέζησε, καὶ ἀπολωλὼς ἢν καὶ εὑρέθη» (Λουκ. ιε’, 24.32). Ἔτσι, «ἁμαρτία μὴ πρὸς θάνατον» εἶναι κάθε μετανοημένη ἁμαρτία, ἀκόμα καὶ ἂν πραγματοποιήθηκε «ἑπτάκις τῆς ἡμέρας», ἐφόσον αὐτὸς ποὺ τὴν διέπραξε εἶπε «ἑπτάκις τῆς ἡμέρας» «μετανοῶ» (Λουκ. ιζ’, 3-4). Ἐνῶ «ἁμαρτία πρὸς θάνατον» εἶναι κάθε ἀμετανόητη ἁμαρτία, δηλαδὴ κάθε ἁμαρτία κατὰ τὴν ὁποία καὶ στὴν ὁποία παραμένει ὁ ἄνθρωπος συνειδητά, ἑκούσια καὶ ἐπίμονα. Τέτοια ἁμαρτία προκαλεῖ τὸ θάνατο τῆς ψυχῆς. Καὶ ὁ θάνατος τῆς ψυχῆς δὲν εἶναι ἄλλο παρὰ ὁ χωρισμὸς τῆς ψυχῆς ἀπὸ τὸν Θεό, ἡ στέρηση τοῦ Θεοῦ καὶ τῶν χαρισματικῶν δωρεῶν καὶ δυνάμεών Του ἀπὸ τὴν ψυχή. Ὁ ἅγιος Θεολόγος εὐαγγελίζεται: «Ἐὰν τὶς ἴδῃ τὸν ἀδελφὸν αὐτοῦ ἁμαρτάνοντα ἁμαρτίαν μὴ πρὸς θάνατον, αἰτήσει καὶ δώσει αὐτῷ ζωήν, τοῖς ἁμαρτάνουσι μὴ πρὸς θάνατον. Ἔστιν ἁμαρτία πρὸς θάνατον· οὐ περὶ ἐκείνης λέγω ἵνα ἐρωτήςῃ». «Αἰτήσει, καὶ δώσει αὐτῷ ζωήν». Ἐπειδὴ ἔκανε ἁμαρτία πέθανε, νέκρωσε τὸν ἑαυτό του, σκότωσε τὸν ἑαυτό του· ἐὰν παρακαλέσει, θὰ τοῦ δοθεῖ μέσω τῆς μετανοίας ἀνάσταση ἐκ νεκρῶν, ζωή. Ἔτσι ἡ προσευχὴ καὶ ἡ μετάνοια εἶναι νικητὲς τοῦ θανάτου· ἀνασταίνουν νεκρούς. Γιὰ τὴν «ἁμαρτία πρὸς θάνατον» νὰ μὴν «ἐρωτήσῃ». Γιατί; Ἐπειδὴ ὁ ἄνθρωπος μ” ὅλο του τὸ εἶναι, μ” ὅλη τὴν ψυχή, μ” ὅλη τὴ συνείδηση, μ” ὅλη τὴ θέληση εἰσέρχεται στὴν ἁμαρτία καὶ παραμένει συνειδητὰ καὶ ἑκούσια σ” αὐτήν. Δὲν θέλει νὰ τὴν ἀπαρνηθεῖ, νὰ τὴν μισήσει. Αὐτὸς εἶναι ἐκεῖνος ὁ «δεύτερος θάνατος», ἀπὸ τὸν ὁποῖο δὲν ἀνασταίνεται. Σὲ τέτοιον ἄνθρωπο ὁ Θεὸς δὲν ἐπιθυμεῖ, οὔτε θέλει νὰ τοῦ ἐπιβάλλει μὲ βία τὴν μετάνοια. Οὔτε ἐπιθυμεῖ, οὔτε θέλει, οὔτε μπορεῖ, ἐπειδὴ ὁ Θεὸς εἶναι ἀγάπη, καὶ διὰ τῆς ἀγάπης «εἶναι» καὶ ζεῖ καὶ ὑπάρχει. Ὁ Θεὸς ἀπὸ ἀγάπη δημιούργησε τὸν ἄνθρωπο μὲ θεόμορφη ἐλευθερία. Ἐὰν ἐπέβαλλε μὲ τὴ βία στὸν ἄνθρωπο τὴ θέλησή Του, τὸ Εὐαγγέλιό Του, τὴ σωτηρία Του, τὴ Βασιλεία Του, τὸν Ἑαυτό Του, τότε θὰ κατέστρεφε τὴν ἐλεύθερη βούληση τοῦ ἀνθρώπου. Κι ὁ ἄνθρωπος θὰ σταματοῦσε νὰ εἶναι ἄνθρωπος καὶ θὰ γινόταν αὐτόματο, μηχανή, ρομπότ. Ἐνῶ ὁ Θεὸς ἐπειδὴ εἶναι ἀγάπη, δὲν θὰ μποροῦσε νὰ τὸ κάνει, ἐπειδὴ αὐτὸ δὲν εἶναι στὴν φύση τῆς ἀγάπης. Ἐὰν θὰ τὸ ἔκανε, θὰ σταματοῦσε νὰ εἶναι Ἀγάπη. Ἐὰν σταματοῦσε ὁ Θεὸς νὰ εἶναι ἀγάπη θὰ ἔπαυε νὰ εἶναι Θεός. Αὐτὸς εἶναι ὁ λόγος ποὺ ὁ ἅγιος Μύστης συμβουλεύει ὅτι δὲν πρέπει νὰ προσευχόμαστε γιὰ τὴν «ἁμαρτία πρὸς θάνατον». Καὶ μ” αὐτὸ τὸν τρόπο μᾶς ὑποδεικνύει τὰ τοῦ Θεοῦ καὶ ὡς πρὸς τί πρέπει νὰ αἰτούμεθα τὸν Θεὸ καὶ τί ὄχι.

Ἑρμηνεία τῶν ἐπιστολῶν τοῦ Ἁγ. Ἰωάννου τοῦ Θεολόγου ἐκδ. Ἐν πλῷ
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