What is heresy?

“The ancients speak of heresies, which entirely break men off, and make them aliens from the faith. Such are the Manichaeans, Valentinians, Marcionites and Pepuzenes, who sin against the Holy Ghost, who baptize into the Father, Son and Montanus, or Priscilla. Schisms are caused by ecclesiastical disputes, and for causes that are not incurable, and for differences concerning penance. The Puritans are such schismatics. The ancients, viz. Cyprian and Fermilian, put these, and the Encratites, and Hydroparastatae, and Apotactites, under the same condemnation; because they have no longer the communication of the Holy Ghost, who have broken the succession. They who first made the departure had the spiritual gift; but by being schismatics, they became laymen; and therefore they ordered those that were baptized by them, and came over to the Church, to be purged by the true baptism, as those that are baptized by laymen. Because some in Asia have otherwise determined, let [their baptism] be allowed: but not that of the Encratites; for they have altered their baptism, to make themselves incapable of being received by the Church. Yet custom and the Fathers, that is bishops, who have the administration, must be followed; for I am afraid of putting an impediment to the saved; while I would raise fears in them concerning their baptism. We are not to allow their baptism, because they allow ours, but strictly to observe the canons. But let none be received without unction. When we received Zois and Saturninus to the Episcopal chair, we made, as it were, a canon to receive those in communion with them.” –First Canonical Epistle of St. Basil

According to the old calendarist Metropolitan Chrysostomos of Florina, “St. Basil says a heretic is one who denies the Trinity, a schismatic is one who has separated from the Church and may be teaching a slight error, and an unlawful assembly is one that is operating without a Bishop or against its bishop.  I think nowadays the meaning of heretic has changed, yet people do not note that when they go back and read canons that were written in the 3rd 4th and 5th centuries.  Heretic is a technical term, not simply anyone holding a different belief from the Orthodox.  When the canons were written heretic meant a Trinity-denier, not someone holding some other, lesser false belief.”

“At St. Vladimir’s, we are most definitively taught that (Vatican I?) Roman Catholics are (not) heretics.  Their beliefs do not fit into the category of Trinity or Incarnation denying.  They are in error on several issues but NOT at the level of say the Arians.  We are taught that there are degrees of separation from the Church, and a Roman Catholic is definitely closer to Orthodoxy than a Voodooist!  However, we (are) taught that Roman Catholics are in error to the extent that there can be no eucharistic concelebration or sharing of mysteries.”

“I think it’s great when at events such as the Orientale Lumen conference, Archbishop Vsevolod and Roman Catholic and Ukrainian Catholic bishops celebrated a Moleben to the Holy Spirit.  How can that be wrong??  I mean what was the intent of the canons mentioned above: I’d say to keep people from rushing into error.  When the Orthodox Church will join in prayer with Roman Catholics to the Holy Spirit, but will not concelebrate Eucharist with them, I think it sets a clear message: we welcome you as brothers but we welcome you to join us in the next step: Orthodoxy.  It is a good witness, in my opinion.”

“Certainly the Orthodox would hold that the Vatican I doctrines are errors or even heresy but would not then conclude that individual Roman Catholics are heretics.”

“My whole argument is that Orthodoxy is organic and passed down in an ecclesial community (i.e., The Church).  Those who pray, fast, and witness Christianity are the ones who best understand the truths of Orthodoxy, not those who read about it and theorize about it.  Since I know for a fact that the professors at St. Vladimir’s are dedicated Orthodox Christians who worship regularly, pray, and fast, and are humble in their approach to dogmatic questions, I trust their understanding of the Fathers *taken as a whole*.  Now when you say it’s wrong to disregard the teachings of the saints, I would agree, but let’s not turn this into ‘Saint quotation infallibility.’  Saints can be wrong on individual matters, or they can be speaking from a particular historical experience thus speaking an opinion, not handing down the tradition of the Church.  On some occasions, the saints didn’t even understand what the Latins taught in the first place, but spoke from second-hand information.”

“Here’s another article from the OCA on ecumenism that I liked.”

And St. Philaret (+1985) wrote “Will the Heterodox be Saved

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