Knowing the Underlying Reality of Events

hand2

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 Jn. 4:1).

Every believer has been given a commandment to test the spirits. That is each believer is to cultivate the ability, by God’s grace, to discern what is truly of God. The enemy is cunning. St. Paul warns the faithful of “false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness” (2. Cor. 11:13-15).

We must soberly understand that St. Paul is addressing here not the world out there, but rather, the house of the Lord. He is warning of these machinations transpiring within the very house of the Church. I do not think this warning ever expires.

St. John the Theologian instructs Christians in this matter, “Watch yourselves, so that you may not lose what we [the Apostles] have worked for, but may win a full reward. Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son” (2 Jn. vs. 8-9).

Thus, a very objective standard is given – the teaching – whereby every believer may measure and gauge not only his own life but the events and teachings which he will inevitably encounter in this earthly existence. The teaching, of which St. John speaks, is concretely accessible in the Life of the Body of Christ throughout all time. Everyone is, as it were, measured by this standard and accountable to it, from the “least to the greatest.” For, if we do not soberly stand in the teaching then we may lose – in our person – that which is the work of Christ and the Apostles.

There is nothing instantaneous or easy about it. A person must be continuously gazing upon the objective reality of the Revelation of Jesus Christ. St. Justin Popovich says it is very hard. It is similar to an athlete training, a person must be continuously training in the true spiritual life, “The discernment of spirits is, simultaneously, a gift of the Holy Spirit and a struggle on man’s part.”

St. Justin frames this spiritual endeavor in dynamic terms, “This world is a battleground upon which a battle is constantly being fought for or against Christ – a war zone where a war is being waged unceasingly for Christ or against Christ.”

Thus, one of the foremost vocations of a believer is to test and discern the spirits. This means the underlying factors, the internal essence of the external events and affairs. A Christian is never called to be superficial, that is one who never goes beyond the surface of things. He is called to examine thoroughly the fundamental driving factors behind things and actions. He does this guided by the teaching, the Revelation of Christ the Lord. For somethings appear nice and fine on the surface but underneath are foul and perverse.

Thus, in some sense, True Christianity is concerned first and foremost with what is within. Externals can be deceiving, but the heart reveals all. This is not to say that externals are totally disregarded and are of no importance. No, we are speaking of starting points and the hierarchy of importance as applied to discernment.

The Lord rebukes the Pharisees, “Now you Pharisees cleanse the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness, You fools! Did not He who made the outside make the inside also? But give as alms those things that are within, and behold, everything is clean for you” (Lk. 11:39-41).

As fallen humanity we many times see only externally. This is easy, to some degree. Yet, we then are easily fooled. The outside of something may seem nice and clean – with good intentions – and we accept it; yet while doing so we accept an inside that is full of wickedness. If we examine from the inside out, this mistake will not be made. This is why the Lord says “give as alms those things that are within.” What will we do if the only alms are but filth?

So, the believer is to start with the inside, the heart of a matter. Bl. Theophylact confirms that the Lord is speaking here of giving from the heart – and this is not limited to monetary giving – for, a person, or a situation, is essentially what he is inside, and ultimately that is what is imparted no matter how well intending the externals may appear. “He says with exactness, ‘give of that which is within’” (Bl. Theophylact). This principle of “giving from the heart” applies to all – believers and unbelievers. A person, or a group of persons, can only bring forth that which is in the storehouse of the heart.

We are warned because if we accept something that seems well-intended and clean on the outside, and yet it is in reality full of wickedness, then ultimately we are participating in and receiving that wickedness, no matter the external appearance of “cleanliness.”

Every external thing should be weighed in light of its internal essential message and intent, most of all when it comes to what is done in the Church. It is also important to understand that, as St. Ignatius the God-bearer says, falsehood, heresy, is never given in a full 100% does, its poison is always mixed with honey, that is something that is indeed sound on its own, but when combined with the poison becomes deadly. Christians are called to evaluate and discern by using the internal as the starting point, that is, when we encounter an external phenomena we must trace it back to its internal reality and intent. Ultimately is a message, or event, or whatever it may be, truly directing us to the eternal Truth of Christ? And, even if it appears externally Christian, is it indeed upholding the manifest and objective teaching of the Faith?

Thus, turning to the house to which I belong, I would like to point out a trend, which is also elsewhere in other Christian groups, that I believe to be dangerous.

I came across an address from a very prominent Orthodox personage, who I will not name but only say that he resides in what is called “the queen of cities.” The said address was given only a little while ago in light of the c-virus “crisis.”

I will highlight the statements that I believe reveal a marked internal intent. Although the talk is peppered with Christian references, overall the believer is directed to look toward science and experts for deliverance in this current situation.

He states, “Researchers and scientists are searching for proper medication and vaccination to deliver us from this virus ….” And again we are told, “We will pass through this period like a journey through the desert to reach the promised land where science, by the grace of God, will overcome this virus … Science will indeed prevail …”

What spirit is ultimately being revealed when Christians are told that they will reach “a promised land where science … will overcome this virus?” (Again, I’m not anti-science. What is being addressed is underlying essence, what is ultimately being promoted?) Where in the Scriptures and Fathers do we ever read such things? Of course, may true science play its part, but as Christians to WHOM do we ultimately look to OVERCOME? I believe Him to be God. Yet we are told science will prevail?! Our eyes are being directed, in the name of God, to ultimately the broken experts of this fallen world. This is a new gospel, one of technocracy where “experts” will, it seems some desire, even rule the spiritual life, as if possible.

I encourage anyone to investigate the main promoters of the “vaccine” that we are being told will “deliver” us. One of the main movers behind it is Bill Gates, a man with a very sordid history (for which, as far as I know, he has yet to repent). Of course, the person that I am quoting attends the ultra-elite gatherings in Davos of those who are driving a godless globalist agenda.

Once our gaze is orientated toward “science” for our “deliverance”, we are then also told, “The State has responsibility for overcoming this crisis … everything is being done for our protection, our common good … our liberation from this distress depends entirely upon our cooperation ….” We are asked to obligingly follow after “States,” many of which, as I’ve pointed out before, are godless. Now I’m not advocating anarchy at all, I’m questioning the nice appearance that the secular “State” only wants what is for the “good of humanity.” No one would deny that the State has responsibility, but is EVERYTHING that is being done for our good? Are there not some very nefarious agendas at work under the cover of this “crisis”? It would seem so. Notice the nuance of our “liberation” depends not totally on God but upon our cooperation with government powers. Liberation is of this world. It seems another gospel is being preached.

Then in what echos the globalist mantra of “new normal,” we are told, “our lives will have changed forever ….” What is this “change?” I can only speculate given the internal direction that is implied in this address, science will be the guiding light (with nods to Jesus, for those still in the superstition of religion) and the State will be the all-knowing benefactor working for the “good” of humanity. It all sounds too familiar … (It should be noted that the world has been in a very “new” conditioning since approximately the World Wars, the fact that there is an evident agenda to push societies into a further “change” and “new normal” should help identify the originating source of the message.)

Should we not be ever vigilant to examine and test the current actions and agendas that are seeking to yet again reshape and reorient so many parts of human life and interaction?

Another example that I would like to touch upon relates to an article regarding the c-virus and singing in the Church. Please keep in mind the point is not that 100% of what is said is wrong, the point is to ask – ultimately where do such “suggestions and reflections” lead us as Christians?

What is again very striking is the call, essentially, to just trust the experts. Although this is not said in those exact words in this article, it seems strongly implied throughout. So again, we have the believer being instructed to primarily follow the “experts.” A dangerous path … Is it possible that such a call is asking us to not look to the transcendent but rather to an immanent and worldly source for our guidance and, in some sense, faith? Is it possible that such a call reveals that we no longer truly believe in the heavenly? The heavenly is nice and all but for real crises and such matters we need the experts!

We are told that the “experts” present, “difficult facts, concluding that there is no safe way for choirs to sing together until a vaccine is widely available or a 95% effective treatment is in place.”

Here is that miraculous vaccine again! (How many times have I heard that above phrase robotically repeated in the secular media and such?) We are told that not even masks and “social distancing” prevent the spread while singing (let the reader note that there is plenty of valid research that says masks do nothing at all anyway and “social distancing” is arbitrary. I’m not advocating the disregard of proper medical advice at all, what I’m doing is questioning the intent of current advice that presents itself under the label of “medical.” To be clear, I’m striving to examine the CURRENT underlying factors which are behind the current “crisis.”).

So what do the “experts” say? They, “recommended that all in-person group singing activities be postponed through the fall and perhaps longer.” We are then more or less informed that the whole mode of Orthodox worship is “high-risk.”

The author goes on to imply that Orthodox should be open to rethinking the mode of worship, he wonders, “Will we embrace more silence in our services? Will we suspend congregational singing completely, as others have done?” So, because of a virus, and let us remember viruses and sicknesses are not new to our race, the Orthodox faithful should now be ready to entertain the possibility of modifying Orthodox worship? This is no small thing.

The author, of course, mentions “online” possibilities a number of times. Is it not strange how at current there is a major push to get things “online?” And not just in Orthodoxy. The internet is being treated as a mini-savior. Yet, think of how controllable it ultimately is. I think the push to be more dependent on the internet has a diabolical intent.

Then we are told, “This is a time for robust dialogue and creative thinking.” Such phrases make me pause and go, hmmm …. An Orthodox person would think that maybe this is a time to dig deep into the Orthodox tradition, which has the answers we need. But no, let’s trust the experts and have “dialogue.”

Of course much of the current agenda is framed as concern for others, in Christian language, love for neighbor. I would point out first, this narrative, which in basic says – if you are not obeying all the social mandates then you are a person who hates others and cares nothing for humanity – is traceable back to a secular source; a source that has slaughtered millions of unborn babies, and supported the general exploitation and denigration of humanity.

We may well ask since when did obedience to secular mandates become the greatest show of “love.” Since when did physical well-being become the highest priority for Christians? Since when did secular virtues become church mandates?

It is framed in the terms of “love for neighbor” because then any who question the motives, such as myself, are easily brushed off as those who care nothing for others.

Ultimately no dialogue is desired, only a party-line adherence to certain trajectories.

Yet, let us be encouraged to test the words, even the ones I have written. Let us test the spirits. Are we being called to true faith in Christ the Lord? Or are we being called to something else? When has the Church ever compromised so much in the face of an earthly virus? Why are we being called to such a radical reevaluation and orientation of the Faith?

I will close with this quote, “Orthodox Christians! Hold fast to the grace which you have; never let it become a matter of habit; never measure it by merely human standards or expect it to be logical or comprehensible to those who understand nothing higher than what is human or who think to obtain the grace of the Holy Spirit in some other way than that which the one Church of Christ has handed down to us. True Orthodoxy by its very nature must seem totally out of place in these demonic times, a dwindling minority of the despised and foolish … But let us take comfort from the certain words of our Lord Jesus Christ: Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the Kingdom (Lk. 12:32),” Fr. Seraphim (Rose).

7 thoughts on “Knowing the Underlying Reality of Events

  1. UnderTruth

    Sirach 38:1-14 (found here: https://www.ellopos.net/elpenor/greek-texts/septuagint/chapter.asp?book=30&page=38)

    “1 Honour a physician with the honour due unto him for the uses which ye may have of him: for the Lord hath created him. 2 For of the most High cometh healing, and he shall receive honour of the king. 3 The skill of the physician shall lift up his head: and in the sight of great men he shall be in admiration. 4 The Lord hath created medicines out of the earth; and he that is wise will not abhor them. 5 Was not the water made sweet with wood, that the virtue thereof might be known? 6 And he hath given men skill, that he might be honoured in his marvellous works. 7 With such doth he heal men, and taketh away their pains. 8 Of such doth the apothecary make a confection; and of his works there is no end; and from him is peace over all the earth, 9 My son, in thy sickness be not negligent: but pray unto the Lord, and he will make thee whole. 10 Leave off from sin, and order thine hands aright, and cleanse thy heart from all wickedness. 11 Give a sweet savour, and a memorial of fine flour; and make a fat offering, as not being. 12 Then give place to the physician, for the Lord hath created him: let him not go from thee, for thou hast need of him. 13 There is a time when in their hands there is good success. 14 For they shall also pray unto the Lord, that he would prosper that, which they give for ease and remedy to prolong life.”

    Like

    1. Fully agree. Although a thorough investigation of the mentality of “modern” medicine will show that contrary to this verse, it does not set the Lord as the source of the physician’s wisdom. Thanks for sharing!

      Like

  2. Elizabeth

    Thank you Father, it seems a crisis has come to each one of us now – do we believe what we profess and do we trust in God. We are inundated with fear in this world even from well loved sources. When we are allowed to return to His Baptized and Consecrated Temple will we bring that fear into the very place we meet Christ? Pray for us that despite protocols placed upon us we will not lose heart. This virus may diminish eventually but could also make us critically ill spiritually.

    As soon as you turn away –however slightly– from God, and no longer place your trust in Him, things go awry; for then the Lord withdraws, as though saying: “You have put your trust in something else – very well, rely on that instead.” And whatever it may be it proves utterly worthless.

    ― St. Theophan the Recluse, The Art of Prayer

    Like

  3. Francis Frost

    Dear Fr. Zechariah:

    Christ Is Risen! Truly He is Risen!

    Your blog about the “underlying reality of things” is interesting; but let’s look at the matter from another perspective. I would strongly urge you to read the writings of another Fr. Zacharias, the Igoumenos of the Monastery of St. John the Forerunner in Essex, England. Fr Zacharias, who is the spiritual grandson of St. Silouan of the Holy Mountain, wrote a most helpful article: “On the Pandemic”. You can find it at the stjohngoc.org website.

    In that article, Fr. Zchaias writes: “This is the ethos of Christ that he showed in his life on earth and this is the apostolic commandment that we have received: ‘be subject to principalities and powers, obey magistrates, be ready to every good work, speak evil of no man, be not brawlers, but gentle, showing all meekness unto all men.(c.f. Titus3:1-2) and ’Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether it be to the king as supreme… (see Peter 2: 13-17). We might add to Fr. Zacharias’ words the apostolic admonition: “Remember those who rule over you, who have spoken the word of God to you, whose faith follow….Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy, and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you. (Hebrew 13: 7-8, 17).

    Dear Fr. Zachariah, we are commanded by the Apostle Paul to obey both the civil authorities, and our bishops. Indeed our very salvation was effected by Our Lord Jesus Christ “who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal to God, but made himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death, even death of the cross.” Phillipians 2:5 – 8

    Now let us look at the commonalities of those who are complaining against our bishops. Firsts, these persons divide the church into “them and us”. “They shut us out. They deprived us. They are undermining the faith” , etc. Some have gone so far as to accuse our hierarchs of heresy, and of being agents of satanic attacks on the faith. I am reminded of a syndrome which one of our old Russian bishops once described as ‘The Eternal Me”. Believe it or not, our life in the church, is not all about “me”. On the contrary, as St. Silouan wrote: “My brother is my life.”

    As for the accusations against our hierarchs, we ought not to forget that Satan’s very name means” the accuser” or the slanderer”. Of course, none of our bishops has been found guilty by an ecclesiastical court nor by an ecumenical council. Instead, in this most difficult of times, they are subjected to sly insinuations and side long attacks on their authority and their character. Really, can you not see who is doing the work of the devil, who always seeks to divide and conquer the church from within?

    For those who would like to see the church run by rabble rousing presbyters and laymen, I have one piece of advice, and I hope it will not sound too harsh. If you want a church run by presbyters and laymen, then you would be more at home in a Presbyterian or a Congregationalist community than in our Holy Orthodox Church. If you want to be a faithful Orthodox Christian, then you must remember that at your chrismation and at your ordination, you swore a solemn oath to remain obedient to the the bishops who rule over you. You are only allowed to serve the Divine Liturgy with the the blessing of your bishop, and on the Antimension that bears his signature. How is it that now, that you take it upon yourself to accuse the bishops, including your own bishop, of undermining the faith? “…be submissive…!”

    You would do well to read the article: “The Church is Hierarchical”, by the late Protopresbyter Alexander Schmemann, which can be found at http://www.schmemann.org. Beyond that, read the writings of St. Ignantios the Godbearer, St. Polycarp of Smyrna, St. Clement of Rome or the Didache, all of whom uphold the authority of our Orthodox Bishops.

    “These are the times that try mens’ souls”. One of the benefits of this present crisis, (and we should remember that ‘crisis’ come from the Greek word for judgement) is that it is revealing to us who and what we are. Is it not telling that those who claim to “uphold the traditions of the church” are seeking to do so by attacking the hierarchs of the church and to impose their own will; by manipulating the bishops through these criticisms?

    Just few weeks ago we were all reciting the Lenten Prayer of St Ephraim:

    O Lord and Master of my life:
    Take from me the spirit of laziness, despair, LUST FOR POWER and IDLE TALK.

    But, give rather the spirit of humility, chastity, patience and love to your servant.

    Yea, O Lord and King, grant that I might see my own transgressions, and NOT JUDGE MY BROTHER, for blessed art Thou unto the ages of ages. Amen.

    Fr. Zachariah, how quickly we forget! Here we have presbyters and laymen seeking to bully the bishops into carrying out their will, acting a judges and juries in self appointed “Ecumenical Councils”! Is this not akin to the very rebellion of Lucifer, himself?

    Lastly, to paraphrase, St. Paisios of the Holy Mountain: “If you want to fix the church, start by fixing yourself. That way, at least a part of the church will be healed.”

    May Our Merciful God bless you and keep you in these last days of the Paschal Season.

    God bless you and yours. Christ is Risen!

    Francis Frost

    Like

    1. Hello, Francis, Thank you for your thoughts and comments. I’m familiar with Fr. Zacharias’ article to which you refer, I read it back when it came out in March.
      I believe that you are extrapolating some things from my article that I never said. In the article, I am examining a general call to place our trust in “the experts.” I never accused hierarchs as you wrongly insinuate. I’m questioning certain, what seems to be, novel teaching, which, since you are so familiar with the Scriptures, you will know that we are called to do. Never have I denigrated the true hierarchical function of the Church, you have in a fiat of eisegesis juiced out such misplaced assumptions; conflating the questioning of a teaching with an assault on hierarchy. Also, in this post, I never accuse my “own” bishop as you falsely assert,

      Yet, in this comment I will point out that hierarchs as persons can err, we are not papists. Are you not familiar with the many hierarchs that have promoted heresy throughout church history? Yet, pointing this out is not an assault on proper hierarchy, such rationale is shortsighted at best.

      The Bishop is to be an Icon of Christ, but this is not magic. For if it were, then bishops could not be heretics, but they have been and can be (I’m speaking generally). Thus when any allegiance is given to a bishop it is given in as much as he is the Icon of Christ. That is every Christian is bound to follow The Bishop Christ, from whom every earthly bishop receives grace. For if it were, as you seem to imply, an absolute allegiance to simply bishops then Christians would be bound to follow them even into false teaching, and those who respectfully oppose heretical hierarchs in church history would need to be condemned themselves, such as St. Maximos the confessor. He withstood the Pat. of Constantinople because of Monothelitism. But I guess he was one of those “rabble-rousers.” I guess the people of Constantinople were wrong to practically riot when the false union of Florence was signed, and St. Mark was wrong to not just listen to the Pat. of Constantinople and other bishops? (I’m illustrating a point while at the same time I’m not making any claims to myself at all, I’m countering your presentation of obedience.) Or was the Chruch of Christ preserved because these people seemingly “disobeyed?” In reality, they were the most obedient, for they held faithfully to the Revelation of Christ Jesus.

      Could it not be construed that you are “accusing” me, and thus are guilty of the same thing of which you warn? If we are not to accuse because the devil is the accuser, then in your subtle accusations here are you not then also participating in his work? I think your thought is misplaced.
      Also, if we are not to “judge my brother,” what empowered you to cast judgment on me and my work? You should then not even write a comment because it is a form of judgment. Unless, you feel you have been empowered to do so … Should you not be the example to us all and start by “fixing yourself?” Or are these just convenient ideas to hide behind while you do the same things you charge others of doing?

      Furthermore, the Scriptures do not call us to blind obedience to civil authority. That is, the instruction to obey government is not an absolute (such as the commandment “love the Lord your God,” which is an absolute commandment). For if obedience to the government were an absolute then we would have to reason that the martyrs were wrong when commanded by civil authority to deny Christ, they refused. When Constantius promoted the Arian heresy should have the church just obeyed? Or when Emperor Leo embraced and enforced Iconoclasm, should have Christians “just trusted the government?” Or when under Islamic government Christians were commanded to convert to Islam, should have they just believed that the government is doing what is “best?” On the examples could go. If it is absolutely wrong to disobey civil authority then we would have to say the martyrs should have offered sacrifice, we would have to condemn iconophiles as disobedient people, and those at later times should have converted to Islam because the governments at those times ordered them to do so. Now, some might say we are not being ordered to deny the faith, which I will not try to examine here (yet, at the time, for example, iconoclasm was not promoted as a denial of faith but rather a following of it, a “council” of bishops even said so!). The point is – there have been many times when Christians have in a Godly manner opposed government dictates. Under the Nazis were people right to hide Jews and others? Well, if we must listen to the government at all times then we must say they should have refused to help Jews and others because the government said so!
      Thus, my point in the article is to examine and call into question some government policies at current, are they truly “only for the good of humanity?” Most of all when said governments are very evidently secular and have possibly ill intent. Maybe you missed that point.
      All the best.

      Like

  4. Pingback: The Modern Vaccine Agenda: An Orthodox Reflection – The Inkless Pen

Leave a Reply to frlynch Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s