On When the Fathers Err

St. Barsanuphius the Great ca. 6th cent.

Do not think that people, even if they are saints, can grasp the depths of the divinity…Saints, having been made teachers, or making themselves such, or compelling other people to succeed greatly, succeed their own teachers, and, having received support from above, exposited a new teaching, but simultaneously preserved what they took from their former teachers, i.e., the incorrect teaching. Having succeeded and afterwards been made spiritual teachers, they did not pray to God that He might reveal them to be the first of their teachers; whether it was the Holy Spirit who suggested what their teachers taught them but, considering them to wise and intellectual, did not examine their words; and therefore the opinions of their teachers got mixed up with their own teaching, and these saints sometimes said that which they learned from their teachers and sometimes the good which was suggested to them by their intellect; but subsequently these and other words were attributed to them. (Direction on the Spiritual Life 610)

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