Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Beware the Well-Dressed Idol

You took some of your garments and made for yourself colorful shrines, and on them played the whore.  The like has never been, nor ever shall be.  You also took your beautiful jewels of my gold and of my silver, which I had given you, and made for yourself images of men, and with them played the whore.  And you took your embroidered garments to cover them, and set my oil and my incense before them.  (Ezek 16:16-18)

If we mutilate and rip to pieces these multi-colored garments and beautiful cloaks, which God has bestowed on us, and wrap them around false teaching in order to deceive people, there is no doubt that we are covering idols* with multi-colored garments.  Look at … a defender of whatever heresy you like, and consider how he clothes his idols, that is, the fictions which he himself has composed, with gentleness and chastity, so that his words, ornamented by the goodness of his way of life, may creep more easily into the ears of his audience.  And when he has done this, understand that he has taken up a multi-colored garment of excellent habits and lifestyle and has thrown it over the idols which he himself constructed.  And in my opinion, at least, the heretic with a good way of life is much more harmful, and has more power in his teaching than does the one who brings disgrace on his teaching by his lifestyle.  For one who lives a wicked life does not easily attract people to his false doctrine, and is not beguile the naïveté of the audience by means of a shadow of sanctity.  The one who is corrupt in his discourse and contrary to salvation in his teachings, but has well-ordered and adorned habits, is doing nothing other than receiving the multi-colored clothing of good practices and a tranquil lifestyle and putting them around his idols, the better to beguile his audience.

Therefore, let us painstakingly beware of heretics who have an excellent lifestyle: perhaps it is not God but the devil who has taught them their way of life.  For just as bird-catchers put out certain enticing bait, in order to catch birds more easily through an appeal to the pleasure of their palates, so also, so to speak a little audaciously, there is a certain chastity that belongs to the devil, that is, a snare for the human soul, so that through chastity and gentleness and righteousness of that kind he may be able to catch more easily and trap them in the net of false discourses.  The devil fights using diverse kinds of stratagems, in order to destroy the wretched, and he grants a good way of life to the wicked so as to beguile the spectators, and thus he brands a bad conscience into the good.

Origen of Alexandria: Exegetical Works on Ezekiel, Homily 7.3.1-2

* See Crafting Idols from Eisegesis and Prooftexts.

1 comment:

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

Outstanding graphics! I just might have to borrow them sometime. :oD