The Education in God
Very often humanistic wisdom is not simply different from divine wisdom. It is also opposite to it. Human wisdom “is contrary to the true and spiritual knowledge” . In fact, St. Gregory argues that all human heresies have sprung out of human wisdom, whose center is rationality and human thinking. “And if you examine, you will see that all or most of the heresies have their origin here” . The saint’s observation is remarkable. If we examine church history carefully we will find out that all heretics originated from human thinking and a man-centered view of life. They always tried to explore and analyse the Church’s truth through their reason. On the contrary, the holy Fathers were based on the method of orthodox piety, which is the purification of the heart and the illumination of the nous. After these two stages of spiritual life, they attained the knowledge of God and theologized inspired by God and unerringly within the Church.
But St. Gregory Palamas does not limit himself to this general point. He goes deeper. He stresses that there is a huge difference between the Prophets-Apostles and the philosophers. If it is true that human wisdom and knowledge brings sanctity to man and guides him to the knowledge of God, then those who have this education would be “more God-like” and “more God-seers” than the Fathers and the Prophets during the times of the Law of Moses. He brings the example of John the Forerunner, who reached a very high level of grace, without ever studying human wisdom. As is well known, St. John the Forerunner lived in the desert since his early childhood. St. Gregory asks: “where in the desert are the schools of this futile philosophy, which they call redeeming?” . He stresses the difference between the principle of the philosophers “know yourself” and the teaching of the saints “watch yourself”. If one looks carefully at the philosophers’ command “know yourself”, he will realize that it contains a lot of false belief. It is closely related to the teaching of reincarnation. The philosophers teach that one can obtain perfect knowledge if he examines thoroughly himself and find out where he lived in the past, in what body he was attached, what he did and how he was called. Naturally, by doing this search to himself, in reality he becomes the devil’s obedient instrument who whispers various interpretations to him . For this reason, according to St. Gregory Palamas, there is no relationship and no similarity whatsoever between the saints and the philosophers, nor, of course, between the teaching of the Apostles-Prophets and the teaching of the philosophers. If it seems that there is agreement in certain words and terms, it is an agreement only on external words, while in the depth there is a difference. He writes: “If a Father happens to say the same things as those in the world, the similarity is only in the words; in the meanings there is a lot of distance; because the first have, according to Paul, the mind of Christ, while the second speak out of human intellect, if not something worse” . The holy Fathers have the mind of Christ, while the philosophers and the worldly wise men speak out of their own thinking and sometimes are instruments of the devil.
based on Metropolitan Hierotheos (Vlachos)
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