"The intellect [nous] is made blind by three passions: avarice, self-esteem, and sensual pleasure ." ~ Saint Mark the Ascetic

 

 

Preface

In a territory such as the United States of America, where Protestantism carries the day, there unfortunately resides miniscule knowledge of Church history - not only by Protestantism's lay community but also by a plethora of its clergical constituency. It often seems as if the West acknowledges the first century life of the Lord Jesus Christ and His Apostles and then leaps ahead some fifteen hundred years (past what those in the West sometimes reference as the "dark ages") to the Protestant reformation when, according to Protestants, Martin Luther resurrected Christianity. Rarely does any consciousness of the Church Fathers, councils, the unbroken chain of apostolic succession, and other integral components of the Church established by the Lord Jesus Christ dwell in the western mind. That is to say that all too often when Protestants are confronted with references to saints of the Church (St. Athanasius, St. John Chrysostom, St. Basil the Great, et al.), councils (both Ecumenical and regional, as well as those by individual Church Fathers), heresies (Arianism, Monophysitism, et al.), and other components of the early Church life with alarming frequency their response is but a blank stare.

The Gates of Hades Prevaileth Not intends to remedy this tragic deficiency by visiting heresies and schisms, which is to construct a portrait of the early Church by which Protestants can then develop awareness of the pillar and ground of the truth. Such a template of how the Holy Eastern Orthodox Church has soundly defeated infernal errancies will then enable the West to witness the enterprises of Church Fathers and will thusly facilitate their acquaintance with Church history as well as with the councils, decrees, and other elements of our Holy Orthodox Church. And not only will this equip western minds with a sound comprehension of the Church's post-first century life, it will turn the blank stares by Protestants (when confronted with commentary on the early Church) into knowledgeable smiles; thus, watchfulness against straying into similar errancies will accrue. For instance, when examining apostolic canons (teachings by the Apostles in the first century), and their demand that only wine mixed with water be used for the Lord Jesus Christ's Blood during Divine Liturgy, there will ensue a more complete understanding of the abominable nature of Protestantism's widespread development of employing grape juice in their Communion services. Or consider the modern West's pervasive proffering of a future (post-tribulation) literal thousand year reign of Christ Jesus and the early Church's repudiation of this millennialist (or chiliast) errancy.

Consequently, The Gates of Hades Prevaileth Not humbly endeavors to restrain the West from previously disavowed, defeated deviances via an apprenticeship in the history of our Holy Eastern Orthodox Church.

Prior to embarking upon our voyage through Church history please bear through a few technical matters. While a bibliography will issue in the addenda it should now be mentioned that the predominant authority for intelligence on Church Fathers, councils, heresies, etc. in The Gates of Hades Prevaileth Not will be The Rudder (or The Pedalion), a compilation of Church canons by St. Nicodemus and St. Agapius (published in 1957 by the Orthodox Christian Education Society). Moreover, insofar as the scriptural citations herein, the Orthodox Study Bible (published in 2008 by the St. Athanasius Academy of Orthodox Theology) functions as the sole expounder.

A final notation, many names are dependent on dialect for their endings. That is, many names herein would in the Greek take on an -ios ending (eg., Demetrios, Epiphanius, Nectarius, et al.), however, The Gates of Hades Prevaileth Not has opted for the more common Eastern -ius ending (or Athanasius, Demetrius, Epiphanius, Nectarius, et al.)

Now, without further ado, let us set sail upon our journey across the vast and endless sea of Holy Orthodoxy.

Anthony ofthe Desert
Florence, AZ