patristic text study: st philoxenus' discourses
Hopefully this will be posted only once!
There is really no discrepancy between Mor Philoxenos stating that true faith precludes investigation into the nature of God and his clear and combative responses to Chalcedon and the Nestorians. He was not investigating the nature of God, nor was he doubting the beliefs of the Church, much less was he demanding proofs, but in the fiery Christological debates of his time Mor Philoxenos was defending and reiterating the already existing beliefs of the Church, subtracting nothing, adding nothing new. He was responding to the fruits of unwise speculation, the false constructs of human reason.
Bar Hebraeus explained that a heretic is someone who states that Christ is either wholly human or wholly divine, whereas Christian belief (and faith) is that Jesus Christ is both human and divine. If that baisc belief had been humbly accepted in the spirit of faith as outlined by Mor Philoxenos,
then the disputes that have tormented the Church for so long would not have happened. Although Mor Jacob of Serugh's response was different to that of Mor Philoxenos, they shared the same starting point. Mor Severios of Antioch in brilliantly defending and clarifying the already existing tenets of the Church was trying to heal wounds by bringing all sides together for calm, loving, prayer-guided discussion, but the atmosphere of the times
was against this.
It is important to note that in the understanding of the monastic Fathers
the terms intellect and reason are used differently than in the wider world.
Reason is that faculty which formulates concepts and uses deductive reasoning to formulate conclusions based on knowledge acquired, whereas the intellect is mankind's highest faculty which, once purified, is able to experience spiritual truths directly.
Our reasoning powers should be used to explain to others and to defend,
our faith, though knowing that in so-called logical debate pride and slyness often take precedence over objective honesty. The only way to experience God is not through talk - though this can be edifying - but through prayer which, in turn, will only be truly fruitful if, as Mor Philoxenos explains, we abandon ourselves completely and unquestioningly to God and live in faith.