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Fathers of the Church

Letter CXXII. to Uranius Bishop of Emesa

Description

Theodoret’s letters are a mine of information for the history of the fifth century, of the author’s life and of the history of dogma in general. This large correspondence is distinguished for its unpretentious learning, felicitous diction and perfect grace of style. (Quasten) Here Theodoret encourages a fellow bishop to preach the true faith courageously, regardless of circumstances.

Provenance

Theodoret of Cyrus (c. 393-466), the wise and zealous bishop of Cyrus, a small town near Antioch, was the last great theologian of the school of Antioch. Although he first considered Alexandrian Christology dangerous, and refused to condemn Nestorius until the Council of Chalcedon, his commitment to the correct doctrine of the Incarnation should not be questioned. As late as the 14th century more than 500 of his letters were extant, of which we still have 232. Letters CXIV-CXXXII were written during his exile from Cyrus after the “Robber-Council” of Ephesus.

by Theodoret in 449-450 | translated by Blomfield Jackson

I have been greatly delighted that we who correspond in character should have corresponded by letter. But I do not quite see what you mean by saying "Are not these my words?" If it were said only for the sake of salutation, I am not annoyed at it; but if it is intended to remind me of the advice which recommended silence, and of the so-called oeconomy, I am very much obliged, but I do not accept the suggestion. For the divine Apostle charges us to take quite the opposite course. "Be instant in season and out of season." And the Lord says to this very spokesman, "Be not afraid, but speak" and to Isaiah, "Cry aloud, spare not" and to Moses "Go down, charge the people" and to Ezekiel "I have made thee a watchman unto the house of Israel," and it shall be "if thou warn not the wicked," and the like: for I think it needless to write at length to one who knows. Not only therefore are we not distressed at having spoken freely, but we even rejoice and are glad, and laud Him who has thought us worthy of these sufferings; aye and call on my friends to encounter the same perils.

If they know that we do not keep the apostolic rule of the faith, but swerve to the right hand or the left, let them hate us; let them join the opposite side; let them be ranked with them that are at war with us. But if they bear witness to our holding the right teaching of the gospel message, we hail them with the cry, "Do you too 'stand having your loins girt about with truth, ... and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace,'" and so on, for it is said that virtue comprises not only temperance, righteousness, and prudence, but also courage, and that by means of courage the rest of its component parts are preserved. For righteousness needs the alliance of courage in its war against wrong; temperance vanquishes intemperance by the aid of courage. And for this reason the God of all said to the prophet "The just shall live by his faith, and if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him." Shrinking he calls cowardice. Hold fast then, my dear friend, to the apostolic doctrines, for "He that shall come will come, and will not tarry," and "He shall render to every man according to his deeds," for "the fashion of this world passeth away," and the truth shall be made manifest.

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. (NPNF II/III, Schaff and Wace). The digital version is by The Electronic Bible Society, P.O. Box 701356, Dallas, TX 75370, 214-407-WORD.