The Church without the holy Bible.
First of all, let’s take a look at the affiliation between the Holy Bible and the Church.
Before we commence, it would be worth listening to an opinion expressed by saint John the Chrysostom regarding written tradition, which will be also of special interest to Protestants for different reasons, naturally.
2. The Golden-speaking (Chrysostom) Father says the following, with reference to the Gospel of Matthew (P.G. 57, 13-15):
We really shouldn’t need the help of the written texts; we should be able to display such a clean lifestyle, that the grace of the Holy Spirit would act directly onto our hearts. Just as books are inscribed by ink, that is how our hearts should be inscribed by the Spirit. But, since we have distanced ourselves from this grace, let us accept this second alternative with appreciation.
That the previous conditions were much better, is evident in both the Old as well as the New Testaments. In the Old Testament, God didn’t address the patriarchs and the prophets with written texts, but spoke to them directly, because He found their hearts to be pure. But, because the Hebrews sunk into depths of malice, written texts and stone tablets became necessary.
The same applied in the age of the New Testament. The Lord gave the Apostles nothing in writing, but He promised to give them -in place of a text- the grace of the Holy Spirit: “He (the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete) will teach you everything and will remind you of everything that I told you” (John 14:26). Paul had also said that he had received the law, “not on stone tablets, but on the tablets of our fleshy hearts” (Corinthians II, 3:3). But because people were again drawn towards evil, it was necessary to provide reminders in written form.
You must therefore perceive how great an evil it is – even now – that this second medication is not being utilized: by whom? By us, who are supposed to live such pure lives, that we shouldn’t need any written texts.
These were the words of saint John the Chrysostom. So, it seems that the medicine for the sick is (according to saint John) the written Tradition of divine will. Just as any other medicine, this too should be given with the prescription of a specialist. With all that follows below, we shall attempt to discern the identity of the healing physician and learn from him the instructions regarding the usage of the medicine.
To begin with: What is the Holy Bible? Is it perhaps a book like all other books, whose meaning we should consider that the reader can naturally grasp immediately? Of course not. It is a holy book, which chiefly addresses the faithful. Naturally, anyone can read it like a piece of literary work, but it is doubtful (even improbable) that the reader can understand its true message. The Holy Bible as a whole, as a book, obviously has a specific message. Saint Ilarius stresses: “The message of the Holy Bible is not revealed by reading, but by comprehending its content” (non in legendo sed in intelligendo).
In other words, this is a book that is more or less “locked”. So, who holds the key? Who can unlock it?
2. To reply to this question, we must trace the origin of the texts that are included in the Holy Bible, with the help of father Florovsky.
“It is obvious”, observes father George, “that the Bible is the creation of a community, both in the Old providence, as well as in the Christian Church”. (Holy Bible, Church, Tradition Pournaras Publications, pages 9-13).
How is it obvious?
Quite simply: we can see that “the Holy Bible is not just a COLLECTION of all preserved texts that contain a revelation of God, but a SELECTION of only a few of them”. Which ones? The ones whose usage (especially their liturgical usage) within a community caused them to be approved and acknowledged as authentic. In which community? In a community with specific elements of identity: with a history, with hierarchy, with visible and verifiable criteria of its continuance and unity.
And with what specific criterion did this community select the books of the Holy Bible? Obviously with the criterion that John the Evangelist mentioned: “so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and thus believing, you attain life in His name”. Let us recall that this criterion was also used by John, when he had to make a compulsory choice: “For indeed, Jesus also performed many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not recorded in this book; these have been written down in order that you believe Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, so that thus believing, you attain life in His name”. (John, 20:3031) So, there was a specific purpose that dictated this choice. The same applies, more or less, to the entire Holy Bible.
We should not therefore consider it a chance event that an assorted selection of texts, by different authors of different times, comprised a single book, whose purpose was to deliver the single message of the only truth. It is this very identity of the message that bestows the various texts their true unity, despite the variety of their forms. Isn’t it noteworthy how, despite the inclusion of various traditions – for example in the Gospels – the Church staunchly resisted all attempts to replace the four Gospels with one, composite Gospel, or, the transformation of the Gospels into one “Of Four”? And all of this, despite the many differences (with or without quotation marks) of Evangelists, with which differences Augustine had to struggle sufficiently in order to sort things out.
Thus, certain texts were selected and subsequently delivered to the faithful as one, specific, unified edition of the divine message. The message is divine. It comes from God. But the specific, faithful community is the one that recognizes the preached word and bears witness to its truth.
4. Since the Holy Bible therefore, as a book, was composed within the community of the Church with its primary target the teaching of this community, it is a natural conclusion that: the Holy Bible did not give birth to the Church, but the Church gave birth to the Holy Bible. The Church is the mother and the Holy Bible is its daughter. That is why it is impossible to dissociate this book from the Church.
That is why Tertullian was understandably unwilling to discuss questionable topics of faith with heretics, on a biblical basis. Given that the Bible belongs to the Church, the heretics’ recourse to it is unlawful. They have no right to foreign property. This was his chief argument, in his famous treatise “De praescriptione haereticorum”. He who does not acknowledge the mother has no right to put his hands on her daughter.
Moving within the spirit of this speculation, the late preacher Dimitrios Panagopoulos wrote: “We ask Protestants to show us, in which part of the New Testament does it say that its books are 27? Nowhere, of course! Well then, who informed you? The tradition of the Church of course, which you have rejected. So, aren’t you acknowledging a motherless daughter? Where is the logic in holding onto the daughter – the New Testament – and rejecting her mother – the Tradition and authority of the Church?” (Evangelists: the anti-Evangelists, page 26)
In another part, with reference to Protestants, he said: “After coming out of the bowels of the Western Church totally naked, with only the New Testament in their hands, they resemble the son who had a confrontation with his father and left the paternal home in the night, naked, absconding with a valuable object. And when asked where he found it, he avoids answering!” (Evangelists: the anti-Evangelists, page 24)
Perhaps it is preferable that they avoid replying! Because it is truly weird, when they reply by admitting that the Canon for the books of the Holy Bible took on its final form by the Church’s Councils of the 4 th century, yet they simultaneously regard the Church of that century an “apostate”. How is it possible for a Church who is in apostasy to rule correctly on such a crucial issue as the “charting” of the infallible (as they call it) Charter of Christianity, in other words the final selection of the validated books of the Holy Bible? And how can an “apostate” Church generate such a host of martyrs and apologetes? What was the criterion that characterized the “golden era” of the Church a “period of apostasy”?
5. The former protestant Frank Schaeffer, after having escaped from this schizophrenia, considers the history of the Canon of the New Testament a very charming topic and extremely crucial for the comprehension of both the Bible as well as the Church. “Just think”, he says, that for more than 200 years, a number of books which we now consider by definition as comprising a part of the New Testament, were being extensively discussed before being included in it. And many other books which were considered suitable for inclusion were finally excluded from it. (Frank Schaeffer, Dancing alone ,page. 291, greek edition).
The oldest, complete index of the 27 books of the New Testament did not exist until 367 A.D., which was the time that it was given to us by Athanasios the Great.
This signifies that the first comprehensive catalogue of the New Testament books – as we have it today – did not appear until 3oo or more years after the first gospels had begun to be drafted… In other words: If the New Testament had begun to be written at the same time as the American Constitution, we would not have seen a finalized text before the year 2087!….
During a lengthy procedure, the Church discerned which texts were genuinely apostolic and which were not. The Ecclesiastic Councils (Synods) were part of this procedure. Two Councils among them stood out:
a. The Council (Synod) of Laodicea, in 363 A.D. ruled that only the Canonic books of the Old and New Testaments should be used in worship. It enumerated the canonic books of the Old and the New Testaments, just as they are today, with the exception of John’s Book of Revelations.
b. The third Concil (Synod) of Carthage, in 397 A.D.. This Council, which was also attended by the holy Augustine, gave a complete list of the Canonic books, as we know them today. This Council also acknowledged that only these books should be read in Church, as divine Scripture.
So, Schaeffer is indeed correct in saying that the history of the Canon of the Holy Bible is a very charming topic; because, in this history, it is clearly apparent that between the Mother (=Church) and the Daughter (=Holy Bible) there is an age difference of at least…. 300 years! In milder terms, the mother was gestating the daughter for at least…300 years! This is an indisputable historical fact. Even Protestants may perhaps suppress it or ignore it, but they certainly cannot dispute it!
If, therefore (according to Protestants) the Holy Bible is self-sufficient and self-evident; if the Bible comes before and above the Church; if it is the Bible that vivified, convened and interpreted the Church – instead of the opposite – then we are led, at least in medical terms, to acknowledging something monstrous: an unformed embryo, which has been nurturing and preserving the mother that has been gestating it for more than 300 years!!! I
The Holy Bible and traditions
This doubting of the authority of the Church by Protestants is entirely unprecedented. But equally arbitrary is the acknowledging of the absolute and self-existent value of the Holy Bible. These unprecedented arbitrary acts not only led to simple “medical paradoxes” as the one mentioned above, but literally to “teratogenesis” (births of monsters)! Monstrosities, which have to date been created by about 23.000 protestant groups.
The more that protestants do not want to look for the correct key that unlocks the Holy Bible, the more they will continue to compromise it with their subjective and arbitrary interpretations.
As Schaeffer says, The Church never saw itself as a chaos of spiritual individualism, much less as a whirlpool of 23.000 confessions squabbling amongst themselves for their vital territory, each armed with its own subjective interpretation of the Scriptures and its own, selfdiscovered traditions.
And the former protestant rightly asks himself: What is the difference between the phrase: ‘today the Holy Spirit told me to tell you’ and the phrase: ‘in the name of the Constitution of the United States, I order you to wash the dishes!’” Both of them originate from the arbitrary action of subjectively interpreting a tradition (of a text), cut off from the source that gave birth to -and safeguards- it.
But what can one expect from the spiritual offspring of Luther, who initially, during his University lectures on the interpretation of the Epistle to Romans, acknowledged the interpretational authority of the Latin Church, then was taken by “storm” (Storm was the name of the lady he married) and afterwards released the winds of Aeolus, by supporting the following: “When a person becomes personally involved with Christ, he can substitute not only the hierarchy of the Church, but that very Church itself. As regards the faith, every Christian is -unto himself- both pope and Church!” (These are exactly Luther’s words, as appearing in the German edition of his works, volume 5, page 407).
Thus, we frequently hear Protestants insisting that: “The Church lives in my heart… It is the faith that I have inside me… I carry the Church inside me!” This is the sorry state that the war cry of “Sola Scriptura” (Lat.=only the Bible) led them into, which, according to Schaeffer is nothing more that the first line of the protestant song: “I did it my way” (which –loosely translated- implies: “this is how I believe, because that’s how I like it!”). And this orthodox American concludes that the revolution that started with the war cry “Down with bishops! Only the Bible!” ended with the acknowledgement that: the Bible, outside the boundaries of Holy Tradition, Divine Liturgy, Sacramental life and prayer, ‘signifies’ whatever each person wants it to signify.
Schaeffer says that such a usage of the Scriptures opens the door to the ‘theology of demons’”, as Evagrios of Pontus had said. This kind of Bible study, devoid of any interest in history, worship and Church interpretation, demotes it to a concoction, no different to the astrologers’ guidance that is published daily in newspapers. This is the kind of astrological content that they attribute to the Scripture: they do not regard it as the book that speaks of the One truth, but more like a kind of game of fortune, which contains personal and magical messages.
Schaeffer continues to say that the motive behind this astrological perception of ‘bible study’ and this kind of accompanying ‘prayer’ is the same one that leads tens of thousands of people to psychics and fortune-tellers. This is a complete privatization of religious belief. It just may be the final blow to the assertions of Christian historicity.Modern Protestantism rendered the text of the Bible incomprehensible if removed from personal emotional reaction. Thus, the circle of subjectiveness was completed: The faith has now become personalized, in a “rebirth experience”. The Church “lives inside our hearts”. The Sacraments are “only symbols”. After all, the “message” of the Bible proves to be a message that can only be “heard” inside certain irresponsible people, to whom mystic voices “reveal” things that no-one else can hear.
So, where did these contemporary, splintered Protestants – especially the Pentecostals – find the outspokenness to deride the Orthodox Church about pursuing human traditions that oppose the Holy Bible and Apostolic teaching? When will they understand that which another Orthodox converted Protestant – the American father Gregory Rogers – understood, i.e., that the question is not if I am a supporter or an opponent of tradition or traditions, but rather, which tradition I should follow! (Coming Home, page 23-35)
a. Father Gregory belonged to a protestant sect, which had its roots in the Born-Again Movement of Alexander Campbell. “Suddenly”, he says, he realized that he, the antitraditional, was actually the follower of a human, subjective tradition: the tradition of Campbell.”
Rogers’ springboard for exiting the chaos of protestant subjectivism and his subsequent treading on the guiding ground of the historical Church, was the Canon of Saint Vicentius of Leirinos, which says: “Faith is that which is believed in every place, at all times and by everyone”. This canon, albeit characterized by Florovsky as “inadequate, for fully defining the delivered Faith”, was nevertheless enough to turn the eyes of the former Protestant to the texts of the Fathers and the Minutes of the Ecumenical Councils (Synods).
b. Another -also American- father John Pro, a Baptist pastor for 35 years, found his way to the historical Church by reading more carefully the 13 th chapter of the Epistle to Hebrews and especially the passage: “Commemorate your priors, who had spoken the word of God, whose ….. faith you should emulate”, and the passage: “Be convinced by your priors and subject yourself….” Which turned his eyes towards the historical hierarchy of the Church. It was thus, that he began to search for his prior, in other words his bishop, through the very Apostolic Father, saint Ignatius the God-bearer, as his guide. The most touching part is when he bade the Baptists farewell with a rousing sermon titled: “The Holy Bible, the way we Baptists don’t like to hear it!”. At the end of the sermon, he left the room….. almost through the window! (Coming Home, pages 95-103).
c. I should finish my reference to converted brethren with – again an American – Peter Gillquist, who, amongst the other “arousals” that awakened him, also mentions the passage from the 2 nd chapter of the Epistle II to Thessalonians: “My brothers, stand fast and keep the traditions that you were taught either by word or by an epistle of ours”.
It was there, that father Peter noticed that Apostolic Succession was not handed down only in writing, but also by word of mouth. (Peter Gillquist, Becoming Orthodox, pages 61- 75). He thence began to look for the historical carrier of that word.
Naturally, he didn’t find any organized Information Bank with tapes of the Apostles’ sermons! He did however discover that the Church (it is not forbidden to also keep it in our hearts, like everything else that we love) also had a historical dimension; and that this was the One, Apostolic Church, through which the Holy Spirit expresses Himself.
Of everything that the aforementioned Orthodox converted Protestants confess, they reveal that the chief cause that led Protestantism to the arbitrary subjective interpretation of the Scriptures was their misconstrued perception regarding the divine inspiration behind the sacred texts of the Holy Bible. They believe that divine inspiration is a random action of the Holy Spirit, by which the sacred authors were able to write the canonic books, so that they would comprise the unerring guides of the ensuing Church. The extremity of this viewpoint was that these texts were dictated to the authors by the Holy Spirit, hence they are divinely inspired, word for word!
In this way, they have equated the Holy Bible to a revelation of God. Inge was therefore justified when accusing them that “their Creed is essentially a return to the Gospel, with the spirit of the Koran!”
Father John Romanides straightforwardly (uprightly stating the truth) says that this idea (of equating the Holy Bible to the Revelation) is “not only ridiculous from a Patristic point of view, but also a genuine heresy. The Scripture is not a revelation, but a word that speaks of the revelation”. And father John concludes with a paragraph that puts everything into its proper perspective:
“For the Fathers, the Bible is not the sole authority; it is the Bible, together with all that is deific, i.e., the prophets, the apostles, the saints – in other words, whatever is linked to the tradition of the Pentecost, by which the Holy Spirit sanctifies the selected ones and through them, illuminates those to be illuminated and cleanses those being catechized. The Bible -per se- is neither inspired by God, nor infallible. It becomes divinely inspired and infallible within the community of saints, who possess the experience of unspoken divine glory that is described in the Bible, but is not transmitted through the Bible. To those outside of the living tradition of theory (the sighting, the epiphany of God), to those who are outside of the Church, the Bible remains a closed book, which does not unlock its mysteries as long as the key of theory is missing, and that key is found only in the hands of those who behold the body of Christ” (Charisteria Melitonos, page 498).
Tradition and Renewal
Venerable Fathers and brethren,
We fully understand the reason that led certain of our brothers further away from their Paternal House, which is the One Church. The arbitrary innovations of the Papal Church degraded every sense of verbally delivered Tradition. But, instead of these scandalized Roman Catholics returning to the paternal hearth as our Patriarch at the time, Jeremiah II, had so courteously and caringly asked them to do, they moved even further away. (G. Florovsky, Christianity and Civilization, pages 181-196)
And even though they were warned -by the carefully worded hints of the Patriarch- that they were following human inventions, they persisted in the dogma of a “semper reformanda” (Lat.=ever reforming, transforming) Church. But this dogma led them to that which a French protestant e-magazine proclaims with “liberal” brazenness over the Internet: “Heresy is a duty!”
If they had returned to their Paternal home, they would have seen that the Orthodox Church never aligned itself with the “Theology of Divine Inertia” as we are sarcastically accused by the above magazine. It was never allergic, in the sense of proper reform. The Orthodox Church was never plagued by barren tradition-leadership (as are plagued the sympathetic, old-calendar Christians who, on account of their morbid adherence to traditions -traditions with a small ‘t’- have ended up with Luther’s slightly altered assertion that ‘every Christian is to himself both Patriarch and Church’!’ And because of this, their groups will be soon competing with Protestant sects in their numbers).
The Orthodox Church did not have any problem in 268 A.D. at the Council (Synod) of Antioch in condemning the term “οµοούσιος” (omo-ousios = Greek: of the same essence), when blasphemously used by Paul of Samosata to support his theory of Unitariansim, and then, 50 years later, adopt (orthodoxically of course) this same term “οµοούσιος” (homoousios = Greek: of the same essence) and actually insert it in the Nicene Creed! And that ….. master reformist, Athanasios the Great, provided explanations and reassurances to the “ultra Orthodox” of his time that: “…All of them (attending in Antioch and in Nice) were Fathers. All of them are resting in Christ. All of them believed in everything pertaining to Christ; and all of them promptly acted against heretics: the former (Fathers at Antioch) condemned the one of Samosata, and the latter (Fathers at Nice) condemned Areios..” (On Councils, 43,1 45,2)
And although for 56 whole years the orthodox lived under a relentless persecution by Arianists, preferring to be decapitated rather than concede to decapitating their creed by removing the word “οµοούσιος” (omo-ousios = Greek: of the same essence), quite suddenly, the 2 nd Ecumenical Council (Synod) sidestepped this much-afflicted word. They knowingly put aside a term that portrayed dogmatic precision, acting providentially. Yes, you heard correctly: providence, over a dogmatic term (!!!), for the sole purpose of facilitating the return to the Church of the well-meaning Spirit-combatters of that time. This, Christsimulating providence, was wholly approved also by the pillar of Orthodoxy, Gregory the Theologian; yet, there are the Apollinarians, who albeit project themselves as “super orthodox” and supporters of the term “οµοούσιος” (omo-ousios = Greek: of the same essence), nevertheless accuse him of betraying the faith!!
Please allow us this parenthesis, to mention that the “ultra orthodox” of the time of Athanasios the Great, of Gregory the Theologian and of every era, are in the habit of “itching to find” supposed ‘heretic’ words an making a ‘fuss’ over them. If only these poor souls had been familiar with the words of saint Gregory Palamas, who had boldly stated: “It was usual, from the very beginning, – not only by the Holy Bible but also the holy Fathers – to pay no attention to words, because words do not injure anything, when things themselves prove to be different.” Palamas concludes with the following: “ the ‘fussing over words’ was unknown to the holy Fathers. Furthermore, whomsoever pays attention, ‘not to the purpose of the author but to his words’ ends up ‘respecting lies’, in other words, he will have a false perception of the faith and will even gloat about it.” (To Dionysos, para.13, Pan.Christou, 2, 490)
We close this parenthesis.
The fidelity towards Tradition (tradition, with a capital ‘T’), did not hinder the Fathers of the Church to create “new names” (as quoted by saint Gregory the Theologian), whenever that was deemed necessary for the protection of the unalterable faith, even if those “new names” sometimes scandalized the supposed lovers of Tradition. Let us remember –for example- by how many of his contemporaries saint Simeon the New Theologian was considered a modernist, when he counter-poised conventional religiosity versus the experience of life in Christ! Even saint Gregory Palamas was characterized by his adversaries as a ‘new’ theologian and a dangerously modernist one.
But none of these orthodox reforms ever injured ‘the once-only, delivered-to-the-saints faith’. Quite simply, in the face of any threat of counterfeiting of the faith, the Church was obliged to guard its one, unalterable faith, by rephrasing it, with the addition of new names (as saint Gregory tells us). These rephrasings didn’t add any new truth or new revelation that the Church wasn’t previously aware of, nor did they lead to a better and fuller understanding of the revelation. They were simply terms that were adapted to and compatible with the new notional framework that the uprising heresy had introduced, so that through these newly- introduced terms, the usually masked heresy would be exposed.
Basil the Great clarifies matters, by saying: “If we changed the content of the faith every time we encountered challenges and circumstances, then the decision of the one who said “One Lord, one faith, one baptism” would be fallacious. But if those words are true, then let no-one deceive you with empty words.” And he concludes: “And we admit no faith that has been newly written by others, nor do we dare relinquish the fruits of our intellect, for fear that we make the words of piety a human product; but, just as we were taught by the holy Apostles, thus we ´proclaim.” (Epistles, 226,3 and 140,2)
I will succumb to the temptation to mention one more amazing passage by Basil the Great, where he refers to another “increment, supplement and/or renewal” of the delivered faith, not necessarily related to the challenges of heresies. In his letter to the unstable in faith Eustathios of Sebastia, he confesses the following: “My entire life is pitiful. I dare to boast only of one thing: that I have never become deluded in beliefs pertaining to God, or (note this) by relearning something after believing otherwise. The faith that I received from my deceased mother and my grandmother Makrina, is the EVER-INCREASING faith that I carry inside me.”
And he explains what this ever-increasing faith is attributed to: “I did not partake of other things for the perfecting of the word, instead I PERFECTED those principles that were already bestowed on me. For, just as that which increases in magnitude begins from a smaller size, yet still remains itself, unchanging as to its species, but becomes perfect during its growth, so do I expect to increase the word within me, through my improvement. And this increment does not imply that I spoke otherwise then and otherwise now. Nor did any change occur in the things that I said, from worse to better, but, quite simply, a ‘supplementing of missing information during the incrementing of knowledge’ (Epistle 223, 3-5).
These words of the holy Father are evidence of his incremental knowledge of God; his renewable –let’s say- experience in the faith. But it is a renewal that is rooted within the living Tradition of the Church.
One such (let’s call it) ‘reform’ (so that we are understood by Protestants) is not only justified, but necessary. Because, quite simply, the experience of the living God and the word or confession pertaining to Him, cannot possibly be considered a dead or static element, especially within the problems of the world and of history. According therefore to Basil the Great, the increment, the improvement, the supplement and the perfecting of faith, comprise the only orthodox renewal of Tradition, which is nothing more that the perennial, living experience of the UNALTERED faith throughout history, and the -relevant to it- living word, confession, theology, testimony or however else you want to call it.
I will close my attempt to reply to the fundamental questions that were posed in the beginning, by returning to the Protestant booklet that gave rise to this commentary.
The purpose of the book (as mentioned in the Prologue) was to show “on the basis of God’s written word and Ecclesiastic History” (remember this mention of Ecclesiastic History) that “the Holy Tradition of the Orthodox Church does not originate from Christ or the Apostles, but is human-made and of a much later date. And most importantly, it opposes the Holy Bible and is consequently detrimental to the souls that believe in it.”
In the Prologue we are also warned that for historical issues, it refers us to the book ‘Ecclesiastic History’ by Stefanides. This is an interesting point, because –as we sawProtestants are not too comfortable with the lessons of Ecclesiastic History. In the best of circumstances, they read it selectively.
It is also interesting, that in another edition of this group, they do not deny the historical testimony that the Canon of the Holy Bible was validated by the Church of the 4 th century.
So, we ask them: Isn’t it at least logical that they accept the fact that that Church was indeed “the pillar and the foundation of the truth”? (Timothy I,3:15) How else would the Canon on the books of the Bible be correct? How therefore is it possible, that the teaching of those Pentecostals has nothing to do with the faith of that Church?
Quite simple: Because they never comprehended that which the deceased father Justin Popovic had clearly proclaimed: that the Tradition of the Orthodox Church could never relate to voluntary religions, warrants and teachings of humans, since, for the Orthodox, “Tradition is the ever-living Divine-Human Christ, Who is ever-present in the Divine-Human Body of the Church.” (Orthodox Church and Ecumenism, Greek edition: 88-89).
By Fr Andrew
Copyright Fr Andrew and Filip.
St John Climacus : The ladder of divine ascent, Step 6:18. “And I cannot be silent about the story of Hesychius the Horebite. He passed his life in complete negligence, without paying the least attention to his soul. Then he became extremely ill, and for an hour he left his body. And when he came to himself he begged us all to leave him immediately. And he built up the door of his cell, and he stayed in it for twelve years without ever uttering a word to anyone, and without eating anything but bread and water. And, always remaining motionless, he was so wrapt in spirit in what he had seen in his ecstasy that he never changed his place but was always as if out of his mind, and silently shed hot tears. But when he was about to die, we broke open the door and went in, and after many questions this alone was all we heard from him: ‘Forgive me! No one who has acquired the remembrance of death will ever be able to sin.’ We were amazed to see that one who had before been so negligent was so suddenly transﬁgured by this blessed change and transformation. We reverently buried him in the cemetery near the fort 1 and after some days we looked for his holy relics, but did not ﬁnd them. So by his true and praiseworthy repentance the Lord showed us that even after long negligence He accepts those who desire to amend.”