We hate heresy because heresies misguide souls away from God and towards hell; this is the chief reason behind the anathema on a heresy and its creators and promoters.
Despite this, we love the heretics themselves and do not say that they will necessarily end up in hell, since there is a power that is able to save them from their delusions; this power is their conscience.
Plus it is not always possible to know the secret workings of Grace that may be going on within a particular soul.
Within the Church today, believers who fail to make this distinction between the heresy and the heretic tend to fall into one of two errors. The one group, in order to accept the heretic in the name of “unity” and “love”, glosses over and fails to condemn and reject the heresy. This is the error of ecumenism.
The other side, in their effort to rightfully condemn the heresy, also rejects and condemns the soul under the spell of the heresy, the heretic. This is the error of hardhearted legalism. Just as the true Christian must hate the sin and love the sinner, he must also condemn the heresy and love the heretic.
This true path may be seen in the tradition of the Holy Fathers, as it is typified so beautifully here in the service of the Triumph of Orthodoxy, on the first Sunday of Great Lent.
The photos are from Sunday of Orthodoxy at Vatopedi monastery, Mount Athos.
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