Fathers of the Church

Letter CXXVI: to Atarbius

Description

Basil orders Atarbius, who has been "introducing innovations" and "contradicting sound doctrine", to appear before him.

Provenance

St. Basil's correspondence is a copious and invaluable store of information for the history of the Eastern Church in the fourth century, particularly in Cappadocia. Since he never found a real biographer, his letters represent the best source for his life and times, for his many activities and far-reaching influence, especially for his personality and his character. (Quasten)

by Basil the Great in 357-370 | translated by Blomfield Jackson, M.A

On arriving at Nicopolis in the double hope of settling the disturbances which had arisen, and applying a remedy, as far as possible, to measures taken in a disorderly manner and in violation of the law of the Church, I was exceedingly disappointed at failing to meet you. I heard that you had hurriedly withdrawn, and actually from the very synod which was being held by you. I am, therefore, under the necessity of having recourse to writing, and by this letter I bid you present yourself before me, that you may in person apply some remedy to the pain which I felt, even unto death, on hearing that you bad ventured on action, in the very middle of the church, of the like of which I hitherto have never heard. All this, although painful and serious, is endurable, as having happened to a man who has committed the punishment due for his sufferings to God, and is wholly devoted to peace and to preventing harm falling from any fault of his on God's people. Since, however, some honourable brethren, worthy of all credit, have told me that you have introduced certain innovations into the faith, and have spoken against sound doctrine, I am under the circumstances the more agitated, and above measure anxious, lest, in addition to the countless wounds which have been inflicted on the Church by traitors to the truth of the Gospel, yet a further calamity should spring up in the renewal of the ancient heresy of Sabellius, the enemy of the Church; for to this the brethren have reported your utterances to be akin. I have, therefore, written to charge you not to shrink from undertaking a short journey to come to me, and, by giving me full assurance in the matter, at once to alleviate my pangs, and to solace the Churches of God, which are now pained to a grave, nay an unendurable extent, at your actions and your reported words.

Taken from "The Early Church Fathers and Other Works" originally published by Wm. B. Eerdmans Pub. Co. in English in Edinburgh, Scotland, beginning in 1867. (PNPF II/VIII, Schaff and Wace). The digital version is by The Electronic Bible Society, P.O. Box 701356, Dallas, TX 75370, 214-407-WORD.