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December 11, 2021

On Vain Disputations and Questionings in the Church of Christ (St. Daniel the Stylite)

In chapter 90 of the Life of Saint Daniel the Stylite, we read:
Through the Devil's working a tumult once arose in the most holy churches, for tares had sprung up from vain disputations and questionings, so that some of the monks, who were renowned for good living, through their simple-mindedness and through their failure to consider the matter with precision, left the most Holy Church and separated themselves from the holy fellowship and liturgy. 
These mischief-makers came to the holy man and tried to confound him with similar arguments, but he who kept the foundation of the holy faith unmovable and unshakable answered them saying:
"If the question which you raise is concerning God, your inquiry is no simple or ordinary matter, for the Divinity is incomprehensible; and it will be sufficient for you to study the traditions of the holy apostles about Him and the teaching of the divine Fathers who followed in their steps and not trouble yourselves any further. 
But if the matter in dispute is about human affairs, as, for instance, if one priest has removed another, or has accepted one to whom the others object, all such things must be submitted to the judgment of God and to the rulers themselves to judge according to the divine canons; for we are the sheep and they are the shepherds, and they will give account to God for the flocks entrusted to them; let us abstain from vain and dangerous questionings and let us each consider that which concerns ourselves knowing that it is not without danger that we separate ourselves from our holy mother, the Church. For her bridegroom is the true Shepherd Who is able to recall to His fold the sheep that have strayed and to lead those who have not strayed to better pasture. 
Therefore it suffices us to believe unquestioningly in the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and to receive the incarnate dispensation of our Lord Jesus Christ and his birth from the Virgin in the same way as He Himself was pleased to do in His own loving kindness, for it is written: 'Seek not out the things that are too high for thee, neither search the things that are too deep for thee' (Ecclesiasticus 3:21)."
With this and similar counsel and warning he led their hearts away from soul-destroying questionings and kept them unshaken in the faith.
From Three Byzantine Saints: Contemporary Biographies of St. Daniel the Stylite, St. Theodore of Sykeon and St. John the Almsgiver, trans. Elizabeth Dawes, and introductions and notes by Norman H. Baynes, (London: 1948).