That is enough for perdition

Academic theology is not enough for salvation. Read especially the ascetic Fathers. From them you will learn true theology, the right attitude of the mind and heart where God is concerned.

Pure prayer is not given to those who study a lot. In that sense, the path of academic theology is hardly effective, and can rarely lead to pure prayer.

God can touch the spirit of man and give him, directly and immediately, knowledge of Himself. There is a great difference between this knowledge and that which is acquired in theological schools. It can be very dangerous to do theology without having an existential experience of life in the spirit of Christ. One risks, in fact, turning the study of theology, especially in its apophatic forms, into a subject like philosophy or poetry. One risks adopting a false attitude, thinking oneself superior, and that is enough for perdition. In our life in Christ, it is another kind of inspiration that we must seek.

Theological science, which is taught in academic institutions and has become an intellectual specialisation open to all, does not give knowledge of God. Knowledge of God comes from life in God, which is born in the deepest place of the heart.

One can be a great scholar, with academic qualifications, and yet remain completely ignorant about the path of salvation.

Archimandrite Sophrony (Sakharov). Words of Life. (Stavropegic Monastery of St John the Baptist, 1998). Selected “Extracts from spiritual talks,” from pages 40, 41, and 42.

5 Replies to “That is enough for perdition”

  1. Beautiful Piece of Truth! I have long been a fan of Irenaeus as a pastor because his theology was more pastoral and practical in the tradition of Saul of Tarsus. I see the value of, and in fact deeply love, systematic theology but believe we cannot divorce it from salvation and spiritual theology as so many have.

  2. The friend who gave me this delightful little collection of Archimandrite Sophrony’s sayings, another Archimandrite Sophrony himself (that being his name), told me that the Essex monastery is a model monastery in a number of ways, utilizing several languages and also including both male and female monastics.

    Academic studies can’t penetrate the truth of these things, and in fact can’t even describe it accurately, as they are primarily focused on the superficial, human aspect of transmission and the relationship between texts with the assumption that all of it is of merely human origin. By ignoring the spiritual aspect, such studies are not simply uninformed and useless, but are actually misleading. Look at the mess among those groups who take the academic more seriously than the spiritual: intellectual chaos and spiritual death are the results. Fortunately the Orthodox have various bulwarks in place against such things, by the grace of God!

  3. Wisdom from a very wise man. I have enjoyed reading about Archmandrite Sophrony through the book “I look therefore I am” which is a great “academic” book, but also drove me to seek deeper prayer and humility from the example of Sophrony.

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