Wednesday, March 27, 2013

“Good War” and “Bad Peace”: Love According to the Church

From here.

(A translated excerpt from the second chapter of Protopresbyter Theodore Zisis’ book Inter-religious Gatherings: A Denial of the Gospel and an Insult to the Holy Martyrs)

Ecumenistic and Syncretistic attempts to define the love which we ought to have for others demonstrate a lack of discernment and confuse that which is clear – that is to say, the unanimous view of the Holy Scriptures and the Holy Fathers.  It is certainly true that God is Love and that He shows this love to all, both the righteous and the sinful, and it is also certainly true that this universal, all-embracing love ought to be manifested in our lives since this is the chief mark of a Christian.  This love, however, must not contradict truth and piety – it must be united to the truth – for any other love is false and hypocritical.  It must embrace its neighbour not solely as a bodily, biological being, but as a spiritual entity; it must embrace him with a view to eternity, and must be concerned above all for eternal things and not for worldly and transient things.  This love must, then, concern itself with the salvation of the other.

Since salvation cannot be achieved when one is found in delusion and heresy (and particularly if one remains there egotistically), the Church, following the example of Christ and the Apostles and acting out of love, not hatred, prohibits communion with those in heresy, thereby pedagogically leading them to a consciousness of their delusion while at the same time protecting others.  It is, then, out of love for those who have fallen into heresy that we deride heresy and delusion, which are impersonal, while we manifest this derision with pain of soul.   The sweet and gentle Jesus Himself – the friend of harlots and tax collectors, the Prince of Peace and love – took a whip and drove from the temple those who had changed it into a profiteering venture, just as the Pope has twisted the spiritual character of the Church, changing it into a worldly, economic power…

Let us stop hiding other agendas behind the word ‘love’ – agendas which cannot be reconciled with the word itself.  A wide variety of ways exist for us to exercise our love. We can feed those who hunger, clothe the naked, give hospitality to foreigners, and visit those in prison and the sick.[1]  We will not change the Gospel and the Holy Canons which teach us not to associate with heretics.  Are we the ones who are to teach Christ and the saints what love is?  The saints are the ones who know how to define these things: we are the ones who confuse them.  And this, the highest of all virtues!  On the basis of this virtue, then, the Church teaches that a “good war” exists, when it is waged against the impious, heretics and blasphemers.

Similarly, “bad peace” exists when it comes from an indifference and contempt of faith and piety.  This “good war” for virtue and piety was taught by Christ Himself when he declared that the Gospel will divide and distinguish men.  Those who follow Him must be ready to confront hostility even within one’s own family.  We must not deny Christ, the Truth, simply to avoid conflict which in this case is feigned and false since it does not include the agreement on the most important issues, that is, of spiritual things.  In what other way are we to interpret Christ’s saying:  “Never think that I came to cast peace on earth; I came not to cast peace, but a sword.  For I came to divide in two a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s enemies shall be those of his own household”?[2]

Saint John Chrysostom says that peace and harmony are not always good when these are directed against God, fostering vice and sin.  For true peace to prevail the diseased portion must be cut off, that which rebels must be set apart.  God wants the harmony of all with piety as the foundation.  When men are irreverent, they provoke war:  “Since the physician too in this way preserves the rest of the body, when he amputates the incurable part; and the General, when he has brought to a separation them that were agreed in mischief. Thus it came to pass also in the case of that famous tower [Babel]; for their evil peace was ended by their good discord, and peace made thereby.”[3]  Saint Gregory the Theologian praises the clear and brazen “good war” even against clergy when it comes to matters of the faith.  He numbers himself among the combatants and he summarizes this with his well-known saying concerning “good war” and “bad peace”:  “Yea! Would that I were one of those who contend and incur hatred for the truth’s sake: or rather, I can boast of being one of them. For better is a laudable war than a peace which severs a man from God.”[4]  Therefore, love without piety and truth is false, pseudo-love.

[1] Matthew 25:34-36.

[2] Matthew 10:34-36.

[3] [T.N.]  Chrysostom. Homilies on Matthew. 35.[1].

[4] Gregory the Theologian.  Oration 2. [2].

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