There is nothing wrong with the human intellect in itself. It is a wonderful tool for expressing spiritual revelation. That is how the Church Fathers used it – as a tool – and no more. However, there is a danger – when the intellect turns into an ism, intellectualism, in other words, when the intellect is used idolatrously as an end in itself, when it is no longer at the service of the expression of the heart cleansed and enlightened by the grace of the Holy Spirit. Then theology, the knowledge of God granted to the cleansed heart, is no longer expressed and, though this knowledge may still be called theology, in fact it is mere philosophy, the speculations of the intellect become an end in itself.
All heretics committed this error. It was the error of Judas, who thought that he knew better than God and, wanting to correct Him, so killed Him (which is also the error of modern Western Secularism, which so admires Judas, with its ‘God is dead’). It was the error of the Gnostic Origen, who idolatrously put intellectualism in the place of God and so is admired by modern renovationists. It was the error of Arius and Nestorius, whose little minds could not accept the mystery of Christ the God-Man and so put the personal pride of their rationalistic speculations above God. It was the error of the filioquists, who put their reason above the mystery of the Holy Trinity.
It was the error of the Western Scholastics, whose Greek heir was the heretic Barlaam, who could not personally know God because of the impurity of his heart and asserted that therefore no-one could no God, but was put in his place by the great St Gregory Palamas, who had seen the glory of God. It was the error of Paisius Ligarides, the papist sodomite intellectual who tried to betray the Russian Church in the 17th century. And it was the fantasy and error of the Parisian heretic Fr Sergius Bulgakov with his Sophiology heresy, denounced by two 20th-century saints of the Church Outside Russia, St John of Shanghai and St Seraphim of Sofia.
Such facts should be taken to heart by those still unrepentant intellectuals, conditioned by doctorates given them by the Gregorian University in Rome and Protestant Universities in Germany, who try and foist their heresies on us, most recently through their meeting in Crete. The Local Churches of Bulgaria, Georgia, Antioch and Russia (the latter despite certain impure temptations among individuals in the hierarchy) have thoroughly rejected that meeting. So too have the leading lights of the episcopate in Greece and Serbia, reducing the documents issued by that meeting to shreds. There is no need for anti-ecumenist schisms, be patient, for the truth always triumphs in the end.