Elder Sophrony on Dogma

Blessed Elder Sophrony Sakharov 1896-1993

The Church’s dogmatic confession constitutes an organic unity and integrality such as cannot arbitrarily be split up into sections. Any and every dogmatic error will inevitably reflect on one’s spiritual life. And if it be possible that some error or deviation in our way of thinking concerning Divine being or the commandments may not reflect perilously on the work of salvation, some deviations and distortions do constitute an obstacle for salvation.

The teaching of the Church is not like a ‘pure science’, and her dogmas are not abstract teaching about Divine being which would be a ‘gnosis’ foreign to the Church. No, the dogmas of the true Church always bear two aspects — ontological and soteriological. As the house of the living God, the Church is before all and above all concerned with the question of life. Her aim and her mission is the salvation of man, and so she accords primary importance, not to abstract ontology but to the question of salvation. (St. Silouan the Athonite pg. 230-231)