St Basil the Great: Are You Ruled by the Lord or Do You Do What is Right in Your Own Eyes?

Feast of the Righteous Euthymius the Great

Basil_Square_6.jpgTHE GOOD GOD, in His kindness and love for humanity in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and through the operation of the Holy Spirit, preserved me from the delusion of pagan tradition, for I was raised by Christian parents from the very first. From the womb I learned from them the sacred writings, which brought me to a knowledge of the truth. Yet as I grew into manhood and began travelling widely and as, in the course of things, I engaged in more affairs, I observed among the devoted practitioners of the other arts and sciences such harmony, while in the Church of God alone, for which Christ died and upon which He richly poured out the Holy Spirit, I found so many in great and boundless disharmony, both with one another and with the divine Scriptures. And, what is most horrible, its very leaders are in such disagreement with one another in judgment and opinion and act in such opposition to the commandments of our Lord Jesus Christ, mercilessly tearing apart the Church of God and unsparingly throwing His flock into confusion, that now if ever, with the outbreak of the Anomoeans [literally “Unlikers”, known also today as “radical Arians”, for teaching that the Son is “unlike” the Father” in important ways], is fulfilled the Scripture: “From your own selves will arise men who speak perverse things to draw away disciples after them” (Acts 20.30).

After seeing such things and wondering what the source of this evil was and what its cause, at first I dwelt in deep darkness, so to speak, and, as though on a balance, I inclined first one way, then another. A deceit at one time would draw me to itself, owing to the ancient habit of humanity. Then again it would repulse me on account of the truth I observed in the divine Scriptures. After a long time of suffering so and investigating thoroughly the cause I was after, I was reminded of what is recorded in the book of Judges: that each did what was right in his own eyes, which it explains by saying, “In those days there was no king in Israel” (Jg. 21.25). And thinking on this, I concluded that the same must be true of the present (which is perhaps dreadful and astonishing to say but most evident to perceive), that perhaps the great disharmony and strife now present among those in the Church has arisen likewise from rejecting the one, truly great and only king and God of all—from everyone deserting the teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ and adjudging on his own authority determinations and rules for himself and electing to rule over against the Lord rather than to be ruled by the Lord.

—St Basil the Great, On the Judgment of God


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