Fathers of the Church
Letter CXLVII. to John, Bishop of Germanicia
by Theodoret in Unknown | translated by Blomfield Jackson
Immediately on receipt of your holiness's former letter I replied. About the present state of affairs, it is impossible to entertain any good hope. I apprehend that this is the beginning of the general apostasy. For when we see that those who lament what was done as they say, by violence, at Ephesus, show no signs of repentance, but abide by their unlawful deeds and are building up a superstructure at once of injustice and of impiety; when we see that the rest take no concerted action to deny their deeds and do not refuse to hold communion with men who abide by their unlawful action, what hope of good is it possible for us to entertain? Had they been expressing their admiration of what has happened as though all had been well and rightly done, it would only have been proper for them to abide by what they themselves commend. But if, as they say, they are lamenting what has been done and stating it to have been done by force and violence, why in the world do they not repudiate what has been unlawfully done? Why is the present, which lasts for such a little time, preferred before what is sure to come to pass? Why in the world do they openly lie and deny that any innovation has been introduced into doctrine? On account of what murders and witchcrafts have I been expelled? What adulteries did the man commit? What tombs did the man violate? It is perfectly clear even to outsiders that it was for doctrine that I and the rest were expelled. Why the Lord Domnus too, because he would not accept "the Chapters" was deposed by these excellent persons who called them admirable and confessed that they abided by them. I had read their propositions, and they rejected me as the head and front of the heresy and expelled others for the same reason.
What has happened proves plainly enough that they supposed the Saviour to have laid down the law of practical virtue rather for Hamaxobians than for them. When some men had given in charges against Candidianus, the Pisidian, accusing him of several acts of adultery and other iniquities, it is said that the president of the council remarked, "If you are bringing accusation on points of doctrine, we receive your charges; we have not come here to decide about adulteries." Accordingly Athenius and Athanasius who had been expelled by the Eastern Synod were bidden to return to their own churches; just as though our Saviour had laid down no laws about conduct, and had only ordered us to observe doctrines—which those most sapient persons have been foremost in corrupting. Let them then cease to mock; let them no longer attempt to conceal the impiety which they have confirmed by blows as well as by words. If this is not the case, let them tell us the reasons of the massacres; let them own in writing the distinction between the natures of our Saviour, and that the union is without confusion; let them declare that after the union both Godhead and manhood remained unimpaired. "God is not mocked." Let the chapters be denied which they have often repudiated, and now at Ephesus have sanctioned. Do not let them trick your holiness by their lies. They used to praise my utterances at Antioch, being brethren, and when made readers, and ordained deacons, presbyters and bishops; and at the end of my discourse they used to embrace me and kiss me, on head, on breast, on hands; and some of them would cling to my knees, calling my doctrine apostolic,—the very doctrine that they have now condemned, and anathematized. They used to call me luminary, not only of the East, but of the whole world, and now I forsooth have been proscribed and, so far as lies in their power, I have not even bread to eat. They have anathematized even all who converse with me. But the man whom but a little while ago they deposed and called Valentinian and Apollinarian they have honoured as a martyr of the faith, rolling at his feet, asking his pardon and calling him spiritual father. Do even woodlice change their colour to match the stones or chameleons their skin to suit the leaves, as these men do their mind to match the times? I give up to them see, dignity, rank, and all the luxury of this life. On the side of the apostolic doctrines I await the evils which they deem terrible, finding sufficient consolation in the thought of the judgment of the Lord. For I hope that for the sake of this injustice the Lord will remit me many of my sins.
Now I implore your holiness to beware of the fellowship of iniquity and to insist on their repudiation of what has been done. If they refuse shun them as traitors to the faith. That your reverence should wait awhile to see if the tempest will pass, we have not thought subject for blame. But after the ordination of the primate of the East every man's mind will be made manifest. Deign, Sir, to pray for me. At this time I am sorely in want of that help that I may hold out against all that is being devised against me.
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.