Without Heretics There are no orthodox

**I am reposting this because I think it dovetails nicely with this post from Marc Cortez.

It is so easy for Christians today to look back at particular epochs and persons, and absolutize them in ways that fail to appreciate the embryonic and dynamic ethos of those times and peoples. In other words, it is easy to look back through the canon of our truth and label this guy or that idea as heresy; and indeed, with Scripture and the subsequent theological grammar as our guide, we can rightly do so. But, I think we should always do so with a modicum of Christian humility; lest we fail to recognize the log in our own eyes that successive Christians may look back at and only see too clearly (in other words, we have the potential to be heretics too — at the same time this reality should not also negate our own constructive work now that seeks to be faithful to scripture’s witness and God’s self-revelation in Christ). Sergius Bulgakov alerts us to a known heretic from the past, but – according to Bulgakov – without whom we would not have the wherewithal or grammar to make the judgement that we do about Apollinarius (that his Christology turns out to be “heretical”):

“Thus, Apollinarius’s significance in Christology can be defined as follows: (I) He was the first to pose the problem of the unity of the God-Man as composed of two natures, although his solution to this problem was imprecise. (2) He understood this problem as an anthropological one, and with his doctrine of the composition of the God-Man he anticipated the Chalcedonian schema, although his own answer to this problem was imprecise owing to the imprecision of his terms and the insufficient clarity of his anthropological thought. (3) He was the first to pose the problem of the interrelation of the Divine and human essences as the basis of their union in the God-Man, although he himself did not go beyond ambiguous and obscure propositions on this subject; here, he had neither predecessors nor successors in patristics. With these elements, Apollinarius put the imprint of his thought on all of subsequent Christology, in which one can recognize the further development and refinement of his ideas or their polemical rejection. Although Apollinarius was condemned as a heretic, his actual influence in the Church remains significant, and more positive than negative.” (Sergius Bulgakov, The Lamb of God, 17-18)

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