August 12, 2013

Christians Should Study and Be Cultivated

By Archimandrite Hierotheos Argyris

Many enemies of the Church wish to leave it because it is without educated Clergy and Fathers, making it easy to oppose and denigrate it. It is very characteristic of what Julian the Apostate did. One of his first measures against the Christians was to deny them an education. He knew what results such a scheme would bring. But of course the Lord did not allow that provision and other such harsh prosecutorial manipulations of that man.

The opinion of the ancient Fathers was that Christians should study and be cultivated. This position dominated within the life of Fr. Epiphanios (Theodoropoulos). He strongly promoted education, both for himself and for his spiritual children who had the opportunity to educate and cultivate themselves.

According to his opinion, study and education offer the ability to be recipients of the depth of the Holy Bible and the Patristic writings. The lack of a proper knowledge leads the Christian to interpret the Holy Texts incorrectly or improperly and sometimes they end up with completely ridiculous interpretations.

Many times our Elder presented hilarious examples of people with true zeal, but did not have the necessary educational infrastructure. They expressed fanatical views and presented, due to a lack of education, their own nonsense as Patristic or Scriptural interpretations.

Someone who was an uneducated yet zealous type, the Elder recalled, called the Sacred Pedalion (The Rudder) as Vedalion: "The Vedalion says...", he would say, and he expressed irrelevant opinions supposedly contained within this book of which he didn't even know the name.

The same man would interpret some relatively obscure words according to how he felt he heard them. For example, a "mystagogue" (μυσταγωγός) is someone who keeps secrets (μύστακα)!

These things he would often recall, not because he wanted to offend our brothers that for some objective reasons were not educated. No, for God's sake! But he tried to push those who were less educated to study; those who simply had some degree, but they abandoned their studies at the lifelong university of continuous study.

Finally, the Elder urged our acquisition of prudent humilty, so we could seek answers to the thorny issues from the educated brethren and Fathers.

Source: From the book ΜΑΘΗΤΕΙΑ ΣΤΙΣ ΠΗΓΕΣ του π. Επιφάνιου. Translated by John Sanidopoulos.