ChristodoulosIn the writings of the Fathers of the Church mention is made of three criteria that constitute a bishop’s canonicity, and thus establish that a bishop is canonical and part of the communion of the Church. These criteria are: The inspired Scriptures (Holy Bible), the Seven Ecumenical Councils and the multitude of bishops throughout the world with whom he is in communion.

None of these criteria have validity separately, when each criterion is invoked it is always with the understanding that the others are referred to as well. It is part of the living tradition of the Church to maintain that the bishop is in accord with the communion of the Church.

When the Church established these criteria it became easy to identify who was a heretic. In our previous post we mentioned that a heretic is one who dissents from the others on matters of faith. Now we are in a position to say that a heretic is an individual whose faith is lacking one of these ingredients: he is in disaccord with the teachings of the Bible, he does not agree with the proclamations of faith from the Seven Ecumenical Councils, and ultimately he professes a faith different from the unanimous agreement of the Church.

Heretics make easy conquests among poorly instructed people who are unable to distinguish them from Orthodox teachers. Being led astray by the heretic’s sophistry and seductions the Orthodox faithful unwittingly deny their Orthodox confession.  Persons convicted of heresy are excommunicated from the Church; their removal safeguards the health of the rest of the members of the Church. In the early centuries of Christianity the Orthodox Christians chose to

“abandon houses of prayer and hold congregations of their own in the wilderness than have anything to do with the wicked leaven of heretics” (St. Basil).

Heretics get into their heads that the faith they hold is the only correct one. This belief has become so firmly and deeply embedded in them that nothing on earth will remove it. Their slogan is “Even if you convince me, you will not convince me”. On this St. Basil the Great says (c. 372A.D):

“The Ethiopian cannot change his skin, nor the leopard its spots, and nor can they who have been weaned into perverse doctrines throw off the evil of heresy”.

Just before He was crucified, Christ prayed with pain in His soul in the garden of Gethsemane. Among other things He begged His Father for unity in His Church: “so that they may be one as we are one” (John 17:11). Unity in the Church then is God’s will!  For Saint John Chrysostom (347-407 A.D): “nothing angers God so much as division in the Church” and “not even the blood of martyrdom can absolve this sin”. For the saintly Pope Pelagius II (579-590A.D):

“creating a rift within the Church is a greater sin than denying Christ! Through apostasy, one person goes to hell, the apostate. If a schism is created, he who provoked it will go to Hell, but so will all those who follow him.”

When people were condemning Saint Agathon of Egypt (+435 A.D), (who was very pure) for being a thief, an adulterer and much else, he accepted the charges with passivity. But when they called him a heretic, he reacted sharply: “No brothers! Because heresy is separation from God”. The great Patriarch of Jerusalem, Dositheos (1641-1707 A.D), forgave all those who had embittered him, but would not forgive those who slandered him as a heretic.

On the basis of the above, everything possible must be done to prevent a schism within the Church of Christ. Writing to Bishop Navation, Saint Dionysius of Alexandria (+265 A.D) exhorts:

“Any struggle waged to prevent schism within the Church is more pleasing to God even than martyrdom which is suffered for refusal to deny the Lord. Anyone who is martyred suffers for his or her benefit, but anyone who struggles to prevent schism within the Church is doing so for the benefit of the whole Church”.

Christodoulos repent of your heresy. Be the catalyst that breaks the curse that has burdened the lives of the Greek Orthodox faithful in Adelaide for over fifty years. Together with your “clergy” find something else to occupy your time and leave the people of Adelaide alone.

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