The New Heresy

St. Symeon the New Theologian ca. 949-1022

[T]he men of whom I speak and whom I call heretics are those who say that there is no one in our times and in our midst who is able to keep the Gospel commandments and become like the holy Fathers. That is to say, they should believe and practice, for faith is shown by deeds (cf. Jas. 2:18), just as the features of the face in a mirror. Further, that they may be both great contemplatives and see God, by the illumination and reception of the Holy Ghost, through whom the Son is perceived together with the Father. Now those who say that this is impossible have not fallen into one particular heresy, but rather all of them, if I may say so, since this one surpasses and covers them all in impiety and abundance of blasphemy. He who makes this claim subverts all the divine Scriptures. I think (that by making this claim) this vain person states that the Holy Gospel is now recited in vain, that the writings of Basil the Great and our other priests and holy fathers are irrelevant or have been frivolously written. If, then, it is impossible for us to carry out in action and observe without fail all the things that God says, and all the saints after first practicing them have left in writing for our instruction (cf. 1 Cor. 10:11), why did they at that time trouble to write them down and why do read them in church?

It would appear to me that you ascribe salvation solely to your cloak, cowl, and scapular – in some cases, to a very heavy and impressive beard – and so, as you put your trust in them you take pride in them! But ne of good cheer, you who are naked and exposed (Heb. 4:13)! Even though you refuse to hear the divine Scripture as it daily shouts at you with a loud voice, we shall yet stand before the judgment seat of Christ (Rom. 14:10), so that each one may receive good or evil, according to what he has done in the body (2 Cor. 5:10). (The Discourses XXIX:4,8)