2 Corinthians: No Generic Christianity, No Alternative Spirituality

But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted—you may well put up with it!” (2 Corinthians 11:3-4)

There is no such thing as generic ‘Christianity’ apart from Orthodoxy, nor is there an alternative spirituality which we “have not received” in Orthodox liturgy.

The false apostles obviously had the gift of eloquence which Paul lacked. But that means nothing as far as the substance of the preaching is concerned and may even cast a shadow over the glory of the cross, which is anything but superficially attractive.” St John Chrysostom, Homilies on the Epistles of Paul to the Corinthians 23.3.

“This does not refer to the apostles, who were unlettered men of no eloquence, but to the false teachers whose rhetorical skill the Corinthians preferred. Paul did not mean by this that he did not know how to speak but that commendation did not depend on mere eloquence. A person of little eloquence is not guilty before God, but someone who does not know God is liable to be charged with ignorance, because it was a sin to be ignorant of what is conducive to salvation. It was not eloquence which would commend Paul’s message but the power to save which accompanied it.” Ambrosiaster, Commentary on Paul’s Epistles.

“For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ.  And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light.  Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works.” (2 Corinthians 11:13-15)

“These illusions are apparitions of that spirit who seeks to ensnare unhappy souls in the deceptive rites of a multitude of false gods and to turn them aside from the true worship of the true God, by whom alone they can be purified and healed.” Blessed Augustine, City of God 10.10

“Evil apes respectability, and tares do their best to look like wheat, but however close a similarity to wheat they have in appearance their taste completely undeceives the discerning. Even the devil “transforms himself into an angel of light,” not meaning to ascend again to his former place (for he possesses a heart as hard as an anvil and has no intention of repenting ever) but to snare those who are living the angelic life in blinding darkness and infest them with a condition of faithlessness. There are many wolves going about “in sheep’s clothing,” but though they wear the coats of sheep, they possess nonetheless both talons and teeth. They wrap themselves in the gentle creature’s hide and with this disguise deceive the innocent only to inject with their teeth the deadly poison of their irreligion. We therefore need the grace of God, a sober mind and watchful eyes, so as not to eat tares for wheat and come to harm for not knowing better; so as not to mistake the wolf for a sheep and be ravaged; and so as not to take the death-dealing devil for a good angel and be devoured.” St Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lectures 4.1.741

“He invented heresies and schisms to undermine faith, pervert truth and break unity. Unable to keep us in the dark ways of former error, he draws us into a new maze of deceit. He snatches men away from the church itself and, just when they think they have drawn near to the light and escaped the night of the world, he plunges them unawares into a new darkness. Though they do not stand by the gospel and discipline and law of Christ, they call themselves Christians. Though they are walking in darkness, they think they are in the light, through the deceitful flattery of the adversary who, as the apostle said, transforms himself into an angel of light and adorns his ministers as ministers of righteousness. They call night day, death salvation, despair hope, perfidy faith, antichrist Christ, cunningly to frustrate truth by their lying show of truth. That is what happens, my brothers, when we do not return to the fount of truth, when we are not looking to the head and keeping the doctrine taught from heaven.” St Cyprian, The Unity of the Catholic Church 3.742

“Paul ascribes his gift to God and points out that it was given for the common good. His work of answering arguments, detecting what is unsound and laying the proper foundation is all intended for the upbuilding of the community. But if anybody is hostile and wants to do battle with him, he also has the power to answer arguments and will use it as and when it is appropriate to do so.” St John Chrysostom, Homilies on the Epistles of Paul to the Corinthians 22.1.