Free Will and Tradition

3 Holy Hierarchs

“But I must explain myself a little more clearly. A good many men do not draw their conclusions from the very nature of reality, but merely consider the way men have lived before them; and so they fall completely short of an accurate judgment about reality, and they take, as their criterion of what is good, irrational custom instead of sober reason. Hence they force their way into political office and power, they make a good deal of merely external show since they are unaware of the fact that all this will come to an end after this life. For custom is no sure guarantee for the future, for very often this may lead us to the goats and not to the flock of sheep. My meaning will become clear if you will consider the words of the Gospel. If you consider that which is proper to man, that is, his reason, you will despise the force of custom as irrational, and you will never choose as good that which brings no advantage to the soul. We must not then seriously consider the footprints of those who have gone before us like so many cattle leaving their trace upon the world. For what is best to choose is not clear from sense phenomena – nor shall it be until we depart from this life; then we will know whom we have followed. The man then who merely follows in the tracks of those who have lived before, and takes the custom of this world as his guide in life, and does not distinguish good from evil on the basis of actual reality, very often makes a mistake, and in the day of that just Judgment he becomes a goat instead of a sheep.” (Gregory of Nyssa, From Glory to Glory, pg. 161)

One thought on “Free Will and Tradition

  1. d. i.

    hi, i am d. i. in toronto, not sure, mr or else as myself a man learning english as a second language for decades since crossing the pacific, sorry, best guess, is you are a man.
    while spending hours on google search of ‘free will’, this struck me like a lightening. so, even not familiar with internet media, i added this page on shortcut on desktop, decided to get the book mentioned here in any possible way, to find more of the author, and thanks God for you and all around.
    for years have been struggling till these days, i feel i found a teacher worthy of learning from with respect.
    it is very rare to hear an opinion imdependant of stains from worldly influences of materialism, i feel.
    myself not exception, but prayed God to send a teacher who can wake up my brain and tell me of
    real wisdom.
    again thank you.
    d. i. from toronto.

    .ps. i leave my email adress ‘’, obtained from a friend next door. if you do not mind, i will love to receive anything of the book and author to help me gain deeper understanding of the issues.

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