Was St. Francis of Assisi a heretic?

Discussion in 'Questions about Anglicanism' started by DouayJamesGeneva, Oct 31, 2017.

  1. DouayJamesGeneva

    DouayJamesGeneva Member

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    I want to know how Anglicans feel about the Orthodox church's condemnation of Assisi as a heretic. From what I know, Assisi claimed he had achieved perfection before dying and boasted of it, and they cite another saint of the Orthodox church, Sissoes, who said angels had come to help him repent on his deathbed, and when his students asked him why, because they didn't think he had something to repent of, he replied and said, "Truly, I do not know if I have even begun to repent".

    https://hnp.org/orthodox-church-francis-of-assisi-was-no-saint/

    What does this mean? Do you believe he was a heretic? Some Catholics say it was Sissoes who had false humility, because he wasn't holy, and that's why he said what he did. I've had abusive, proud catholics use the case of Assisi to insult me and boast of their superiority. I would be a bit cautious of ecumenical work with Catholics who look up to someone who promotes a false sense of pride that encourages this kind of slander.
     
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2017
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  2. anglican74

    anglican74 Well-Known Member Anglican

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    To me the very fact that you are surrounded by abusive people is the problem. We can talk about Assisi or Sissoes or whoever else they can pull out of Wikipedia in their teenage angst. It's immature and incredibly childish. Grownups don't measure 'our saints' vs 'your saints'. And furthermore it's anti-Christian. If you have 'abusive, proud' Catholics around you, that's the quickest way to know that they don't have the Catholic faith, and are using some facts from the Roman Church to bolster their ego and lack of accomplishments in life.

    That's my response. This debate is not about Assisi or other historical figures, this is a debate about what kind of people you have surrounded yourself with. If they're insecure and abusive, then that's the real conversation. And if you're allowing them to surround you, then you're at fault too, which you have to fix fast. Having insecure and immature people in your circle is the quickest way to lose faith, hope, and charity. Remember the old proverb: Never debate with an idiot, they'll only drag you down into the gutter, and then beat you with experience.
     
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  3. DouayJamesGeneva

    DouayJamesGeneva Member

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    Amen. My dilemma aside, what is the difference between the humility (or lack thereof) for the two saints?
     
  4. anglican74

    anglican74 Well-Known Member Anglican

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    By the way, as an aside, I want to question whether they're even saints at all. Just because someone said they are doesn't make them one. If you're a Roman Catholic you are forced to accept Francis as a saint, but since we aren't, no one forces us to think so, until and unless a good case is made for it. The same goes for Sissoes.

    On the matter at hand, both kinds of humility can be saintly or an example of a vice.

    For example, Sissoes saying he can never fully repent sounds extremely, so that sounds saintly. But that can also be a vice of false humility in the striving to appear saintly rather than realistically having that mindset. Which of the two did he have, and how do we know?

    For Francis, saying he had achieved perfection, that sounds dubious to me, few people say anything like that. So it sounds presumptious, but did he really say it, and how do we know? And if he did say it, was it the vice of pride, or, was it more said in the traditional mode of "Christian Perfection" which has been expressed so many times through Christian history?

    I would say the answer lies in the details and specifics. Both can be bad and both can be good from a 30,000ft overview.
     
  5. DouayJamesGeneva

    DouayJamesGeneva Member

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    One possible interpretation is that they both were saints, and confirmed it in different ways. Francis' conviction and statement could be a legit confirmation from the holy spirit that he had answered it's conviction for him to repent of whatever sins he had to confess. Sissoes, could be said to have confirmed this in showing that even outward appearances can be deceiving in proving one's holiness and when the holy spirit came to him on his deathbed, it gave him the opportunity to repent of whatever remained and proved it to the witnesses. So, different experiences. Of course, in the protestant view, all true Christians are saints, and we don't underestimate the impact of the acts of the more obscure, simple people any more than the public celebrities in all forming and doing work for the Kingdom of God.
     
  6. anglican74

    anglican74 Well-Known Member Anglican

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    Well no he couldn't have a confirmation from the Holy Spirit, since people do not commune with God in such a simple way. You may claim that he had a vision, but visions can be visions of madness, or demonic, and on very rare occasions something which comes from the Divine, so much skepticism must be given to visions. Remember as St. Paul says, even if he had a vision that went against the Holy Writ, even if an Angel itself seemed to descend on him and deny Scripture, that vision would be false or evil. So the basis of our knowledge is Scripture, and not visions or revelations.

    According to Scripture and to natural reason one cannot have a 'confirmation' of one's own sainthood. If that's how we interpret Francis, then it was a sin for him to say it. But did he even say that? What are the actual primary sources here?

    The most charitable way I know to interpret his statement would be under the general category of Christian perfection, ie. continually sanctified by repentance and holy works, not unto one's own glory, and without self-realization of one's sanctification. One of the truly saintly men, Bishop Lancelot Andrewes, continually even in his old age repented and shed tears at sinfulness.

    Maybe. Yes. But again how do we actually know what he did or said? I find that too many people, especially in Eastern Orthodox circles, puff themselves up with fake stories and pious legends about their legendary saints, and when you scratch the surface, that person didn't even exist, or didn't say that, or was of another character stamp altogether.

    So as a paradigm "Sissoes" did correctly, but I have no confidence that the actual historical Sissoes did anything like what the modern uncritical pious legends ascribe to him.

    Not in the Anglican view. Not sure where you got this... perhaps from the Geneva Bible? :p
     
  7. DouayJamesGeneva

    DouayJamesGeneva Member

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    You mean to say that all people who have died in the mercy of Christ, and received salvation who are now with the Lord, are not among 'the saints'?

    I do agree that Orthodox and Roman stories are madly superstitious. I recall one fable about a particular saint doing spiritual warefare against a sea monster, who was said to have returned later for revenge. There is also a Roman story of a fishman being pulled up by a fisherman's ship, who gave a message of faith, made the sign of the cross, and then was returned to the sea. Another, that claims there was a dolphin inside of a true near a rural church, and was exorcised by a particular saint. It's all good for humor. Some of it could've happened, but I doubt most of it. The church was full of apocryphal stories during its growth, so I am not surprised.
     
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  8. anglican74

    anglican74 Well-Known Member Anglican

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    There is a distinction between "the saved" and "the saints" with the latter being those marked with a Christian sanctity and holiness. Even the word I used, sanctity, you know instinctively that it doesn't refer to someone who is merely saved. Plus nobody knows they are saved with the assurance of faith, they only know they're saved with the assurance of hope... Anglicans have addressed this in their contest with the Calvinists.

    The bar for salvation is fairly low and does not require Christian perfection, as one can squeak in edge-wise, whereas saintliness and sanctity is an exceptional case which bears our reflection, admiration, and imitation..
     
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  9. Aidan

    Aidan Well-Known Member

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    May I make a suggestion? Why don't you contact the brothers and sisters of The Society of Saint Francis, an Anglican Franciscan religious order, and ask them whether or not St Francis of Assissi is indeed a saint? franciscans.org.uk
     
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2017

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