Sunday, March 22, 2009

Heresy and Theological Creativity

Alexander Schmemann, For the Life of the World: Sacraments and Orthodoxy (pp. 127-8):
ftlotwTo condemn a heresy is relatively easy. What is much more difficult is to detect the question it implies, and to give this question an adequate answer. Such, however, was always the Church’s dealing with ‘heresies’ - they always provoked an effort of creativity within the Church so that the condemnation became ultimately a widening and deepening of the Christian faith itself. To fight Arianism, St. Athanasius advocated the term consubstantial, which earlier, and within a different theological context, was condemned as heretical. Because of this he was violently opposed, not only by Arians but by ‘conservatives,’ who saw in him an innovator and a ‘modernist.’ Ultimately, however, it became clear that it was he who saved Orthodoxy, and the blind ‘conservatives’ consciously and unconsciously helped the Arians.” [source]
And Rev Doc Peter comments:
This suggests a way of distinguishing between genuine zeal for orthodoxy and heresy-hunting: If the church makes creative and innovative use of the tradition, it is deeply orthodox; if it say[s] - relentlessly and loudly - what has always been said, probably not. [source]