On Perpetuating Schisms

St. John Chrysostom ca. 349-407

 I mean these remarks for those who give themselves up indiscriminately to the men who are dividing the Church. For if on the one hand those men have doctrines also contrary to ours, then on that account further it is not right to mix with them: if, on the other hand, they hold the same opinions, the reason for not mixing with them is greater still. And why so? Because then the disease is from lust of authority. Do you not know what was the fate of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram? (Numbers 16:1-35) Of them only did I say? Was it not also of them that were with them? What will you say? Shall it be said, Their faith is the same, they are orthodox as well as we? If so, why then are they not with us? There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism. If their cause is right, then is ours wrong; if ours is right, then is theirs wrong. Children, says he, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind. Tell me, do you think this is enough, to say that they are orthodox? Is then the ordination of clergy past and done away? And what is the advantage of other things, if this be not strictly observed? For as we must needs contend for the faith; so must we for this also. For if it is lawful for any one, according to the phrase of them of old, to fill his hands and to become a priest, let all approach to minister. In vain has this altar been raised, in vain the fullness of the Church, in vain the number of the priests. Let us take them away and destroy them. God forbid! you will say. You are doing these things, and do ye say, God forbid? How say ye, God forbid, when the very things are taking place? I speak and testify, not looking to my own interest, but to your salvation. But if anyone be indifferent, he must see to it himself: if these things are a care to no one else, yet are they a care to me. I planted, says he, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. 1 Cor. 3:6 How shall we bear the ridicule of the Greeks? For if they reproach us on account of our heresies, what will they not say of these things? If they have the same doctrines, if the same mysteries, wherefore does a ruler in one Church invade another? See ye, say they, how all things among the Christians are full of vainglory? And there is an ambition among them, and hypocrisy. Strip them, say they, of their numbers, and they are nothing. Cut out the disease, the corrupt multitude. Would you have me tell what they say of our city, how they accuse us on the score of our easy compliances? Any one, say they, that chooses may find followers, and would never be at a loss for them. Oh, what a sneer is that, what a disgrace are these things! …For this cause do we also say these things, these things do we assert, that it may not be in your power in that day to say, No one told us, no one gave us commandment, we were ignorant, we thought it was no sin at all. Therefore I assert and protest, that to make a schism in the Church is no less an evil than to fall into heresy. (Homily 11 on Ephesians)

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