If you listened to conference, you heard his words. He is the fourth-century monk, referenced by Elder Holland. (His name is sometimes spelled Sarapion).
In 399, when a letter from Theophilus, the bishop of Alexandria, insisted that the biblical description of God was only allegorical and that the monks must not attribute to God any anthropomorphic characteristics, one Sarapion, an elderly monk of great reputation, found himself unable to pray to the new God, this God of the philosophers, at all. Falling on the ground he groaned: “Woe is me! They have taken my God away from me, and I have none to grasp, and I know not whom to adore or to address.”
Further discussion of that event is found in David Paulsen’s article on Divine Embodiment in BYU Studies 35:4 (1996), on p77. It is available in PDF at the BYU Studies website. (Thanks, Ben H., for the tip). [warning: Really big file].
Cassian chronicled the particular struggles of one monk, Serapion, in accepting the view that God is not embodied. According to Cassian, Serapion had long lived a life of austerity and monastic
discipline that coupled with his age had brought him into the front ranks of the monks. Despite the persistent efforts of Paphnutis to dissuade him, Serapion had held fast to his belief that God
The concept [of a nonembodied God] seemed newfangled to him. It was something unknown to his predecessors and not taught by them.
By chance a deacon named Photinous came along. He was a very well versed man . . . [I]n order to add strength to the doctrine, contained in the bishops letter he brought Photinous into a gathering of all the brethren. He asked him how the Catholic churches of the East interpreted the words in Genesis, “Let us make man in our own image and likeness.” (Gn. 1.26).
Photinous explained how all the leaders of the churches were unanimous in teaching that the image and likeness of God should be understood not in an earthly literal sense but spiritually. He himself demonstrated the truth of this in a lengthy discourse and with abundant scriptural evidence . . .
At last the old man was moved by the many very powerful arguments of this extremely learned man. We stood up to bless the Lord and to pour out our prayers of thanks to Him. And then
amid these prayers the old man became confused, for he sensed that the human image of God which he used to draw before him as he prayed was now gone from his heart. Suddenly he gave way to the bitterest, most abundant tears and sobs. He threw himself on the ground and cried out, “Ah, the misfortune! They’ve taken my God away from me! I have no one to hold on to and I don’t know whom to adore or to address.”
(Quoting Colm Lubheid, trans., _John Cassian: Conferences_ (New York: Paulist Press, 1985), 125-6.)
Interestingly, Wikipedia points to a Serapion from that same time period as bishop of Thmuis, a somewhat important player in the Arianism/Athanasianism conflict, and author of an important book of prayers. I’m not sure if it’s the same Serapion. (Does anyone know? Lynnette? One of the FPRers?)