Mr. John Katrakis writes:
I just read an opinion on your website that I took to mean that the writings of the Three Hierarchs are more important than the Bible. I am a Greek Eastern Orthodox Christian and that concerns me. I do not think that the Three Hierarchs would agree that their writings are more valuable than the Bible. They would have had precious little to write about without referring to the Bible. Similarly, Martin Luther never intended that a group of Christians today would be calling themselves Lutherans. We need to be aware of St. Paul’s warning to avoid considering ourselves followers of Paul or Apollos or any other Christian leader, but to focus on the foundations of our faith. These foundations are described in the Bible and are understood by us with the aid of the Holy Spirit. The writings of the Three Hierarchs can aid us on our path, but should not be considered better than or a replacement to our available and more direct connections to God. Let me know what you think.
Dear Mr Katrakis, please let me first set aside some misunderstandings, so that we will be able to concentrate to the real problem.
We are not speaking on what the Fathers would say about themselves, but on what we would say. St. Basil living on the 4th c. cannot have the same view of Church history as we have and he cannot evaluate his writings as we can.
Since you refer to Protestants, note also that they are from all Christians the ones that emphasize the importance of the Bible above everything. It is the Protestants that also dream of a so called ‘union’ of all Christians by erasing all of the Church history! in order to jump miraculously to the era of the Bible!
Please also accept that your reference to Paul and Apollos is not valid in our present discussion, since we have no Orthodox Fathers that form groups and divide the Church. In any case there is no matter of blind following of a Father or anyone. But if we appreciate the teaching of e.g. St Basil, this doesn’t make us opponents of St. Gregory the Theologian, of St Symeon, or of Paul, John, etc. We are not keeping St Basil or St Sumeon against some other Fathers or Biblical authors.
Given these remarks, let us see the issue. The issue is, if we had to, after an earthquake or whatever, keep just one author, this would be the Bible or a Father? I can speak for myself and if I make (and made) some general remarks, this happens because I believe that my view is shared by the majority of the Orthodox faithful (not by you of course, as I see).
Most of the writings of our Fathers are holy as the Bible is, inspired by the Holy Spirit, and although the Bible exists in their writings, since they quote, they interpret, etc., their writings do not exist in the Bible. However, I’m not saying this; what I say is indeed that their writings are more important than the Bible, because they go further, as Christ promised, when He said that the Holy Spirit will help us know more in the course of time.