An Appeal to Renounce Obstinacy and Schism by St. Clement of Rome

The words of St. Clement, who wrote to the disrupted Church of Corinth, can also be applied to the sad situation of the Orthodox Church, wherein many have risen up against their elders, living and departed, and tried to seize control of the Church and pervert it to their own opinions.

St. Clement writes his epistle to the Corinthians to rebuke them for the discord appearing in their midst, with some following base men who rose up against their spiritual leaders out of jealousy. His words, erudite and imbued with Holy Scripture, can also be applied to the sad situation of the Orthodox Church, wherein many have risen up against their elders, living and departed, and tried to seize control of the Church and pervert it to their own opinions. Let us all take these words to heart in our relations with each other, and with kindness and love look to the task of obeying God.


My brothers, do let us have a little humility; let us forget our self-assertion and braggadocio and stupid quarrelling, and do what the Bible tells us instead. The Holy Spirit says, The wise man is not to brag of his wisdom, nor the strong man of his strength, nor the rich man of his wealth; if a man must boast, he should boast of the Lord, seeking him out and acting with justice and uprightness. More particularly, let us remember what the Lord Jesus Christ said in one of His lessons on mildness and forbearance, Be merciful, He told us, that you may obtain mercy; forgive, that you may be forgiven. What you do yourself, will be done to you; what you give, will be given to you; as you judge, so you will be judged; as you show kindness, so it will be shown to you. Your portion will be weighed out for you in your own scales. May this precept, and these commands, strengthen our resolve to live in obedience to His sacred words, and in humility of mind; for the Holy Word says, Whom shall I look upon, but him that is gentle and peaceable, and trembles at my sayings?

It is surely more right and reverent for us, my brothers, to obey God than to follow people whose insolent unruliness has made them the ringleaders of this odious rivalry. It is no trifling risk that we run but on the contrary the most deadly peril, if we rashly lend ourselves to the designs of some who are plunging into strife and sedition to divert us from what is right. Rather let us show kindliness to one another, in the same sweet spirit of tenderness as our Maker. It is written, the kind-hearted will inhabit the earth, and the innocent will remain upon it, but the transgressors will be rooted out of it; and again, I saw the ungodly soaring and shooting up like the cedars of Lebanon; but when I passed by again, lo and behold, he was gone, and when I searched for his place I could not discover it. Take good care of innocence, and keep your eyes on what is right; for a man of peace shall leave a posterity to follow him.

Let us ally ourselves, then, with those who work for peace out of genuine devotion, and not with men who only pay lip service to it. There is a text in Scripture that says, These people honour me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; and again, Blessings are in their mouth, but curses in their heart. It also says, They spoke to him with lips of lovers, and their tongues uttered feigned vows; but their heart was not straight with him, nor did they keep faith with his covenant. And for that reason, Let the lying lips be struck dumb that speak wickedly against the righteous; and furthermore, May the Lord destroy all lying lips, and the braggart tongue, and those who say, We will enlarge our tongues; our lips belong to ourselves, who is lord over us? Because of the misery of the poor and the lamentations of the needy, I will rise up now, says the Lord, and place him in security; I will show myself bold in his defence.

From “Early Christian Writings” Translated by Maxwell Staniforth. (Penguin Books: Harmondsworth, 1968) pp. 29-30

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