“A teaching that pleases the ears, calms the conscience, and makes people happy creating the impression that everything is wonderful is most likely counterfeit” Elder Athanasios (Mitilianos).
Today there is a war being waged for the souls of mankind. It is an ancient war. Yet, for those of us today, the current battles being fought are of the utmost importance. They are the battles for which we were ordained. As ever, there is a demonic strategy for the reconstructing – or deconstructing – of true Christianity. Numerous times has this been implemented in history. Yet, the Truth of Orthodox Christianity cannot be reconstructed. It is an eternal Truth. Nevertheless, pseudo-christianities may be constructed. The goal of which is the deceive the elect, if possible (cf. Matt. 24:24).
Bl. Seraphim (Rose) spoke prophetically on this matter, “The success of counterfeit spirituality even among Orthodox Christians today reveals how much they have also lost the savor of Christianity and so can no longer distinguish between true Christianity and pseudo-Christianity. For too long have Orthodox Christians taken for granted the precious treasure of their Faith and neglected to put into use the pure gold of its teachings.”
This loss of the savor of true Christianity is terrible. As the Scriptures testify, “If the salt should become insipid, with what shall it be salted? For it is no longer good for anything, except to be cast out and to be trampled underfoot by men” (Matt. 5:13). Truly, insipid Christianity is good for nothing at all. It becomes pathetic and spineless, but the playhouse of corrupt men who grovel before the spirit of this age.
This insipid “Christianity” is presented as if it were authentic. Bl. Seraphim observes, “It is of the very nature of antichrist to present the kingdom of the devil as if it were of Christ.”
The alterations are usually subtle, even slight. The reasons are usually of a “reasonable” nature. It is much easier for people to swallow small and seemingly reasonable changes.
Let us remember the words of the Holy Patriarch Tarasios as recorded in the acts of the 7th Ecumenical Council, “ When it comes to doctrine, to err on the small or large points is the same, for both of these reject the law of God.”
The best way to undermine the true Gospel is to bring forth “another gospel” – an anti-gospel (cf. Gal 1: 6ff). In our times, it seems clear, that this anti-gospel will exploit Christian trappings while delivering a “new” message.
This new anti-gospel is worldly in its orientation. Its primary concern is the preservation of this mortal existence, for in this it betrays that it lacks faith in eternal Life. The call is and will be to trust in earthly salvation almost entirely. Hope will be in the things of this world alone. In consideration of earthly “revelations” this anti-gospel will “humbly” change the heavenly eternal Revelation; for love of neighbor of course!
Those who resist will be painted as unloving and backward. In our times, in this battle, the goal is to alter the interior life of the Orthodox Christian. Physical happenings are used as a mode and excuse to modify true Christian living. The faithful are told, for example, of course we don’t believe that Holy Communion conveys illness, but just in case you may want to use multiple spoons! The faithful are told, holy things may communicate sickness, don’t kiss them! But wear a mask to stop a virus! More faith is put in masks than in the holy things.
It may be that these things have come upon us because we have “taken for granted the precious treasure of our faith.” May we offer heartfelt repentance to our Sweetest Lord Jesus.
Yet it becomes ever more clear that a modification is taking place, not only exteriorly but also interiorly. This is made manifest in statements such as this from those who should be guides, The pandemic changed our social life, our daily life, our participation in the life of the Church. Ah, so in short the goal is to change every aspect of life for a Chrisitan – social, daily, and Church.
The faithful are bidden to accept in obedience the “new normal” of “participation in the life of the Church.”
And yet, as the wonderful saint of the 20th century, Nikolai Velimirovich, said, “Either we are fools to the world because of Christ or we are fools to Christ because of the world.”
“True Orthodoxy by its very nature must seem totally out of place in these demonic times, a dwindling minority of the despised and ‘foolish’ …” as Bl. Seraphim (Rose) reminds us.
Let us, my brothers and sisters, cling steadfast to the “foolishness” of the Gospel. “Because God’s ‘foolishness’ is wiser than human wisdom” (1 Cor. 1:25). “There is salvation in no one else, and there is no other Name under heaven that is given among mortals by which we should be saved!” (Acts 4:12).
Let us not forget that our Lord Himself taught us, “You will be hated by all for my Name’s sake but the one who endures to the end will be saved” (Matt. 10:22). It is a spiritual reality that holding to the Name of our Lord – which encompasses the full Revelation of Christian Truth – will incur hatred from the world. That is, those of a worldly mind will consider it a hate filled state to hold to the Truth of Jesus Christ. They will call upon Christians to “lovingly” lay aside the Name of Jesus Christ.
True love of neighbor, for a Christian, is to love God above all else – to hold that which is God’s in the highest honor. For in truly loving God we then may in truth love the brethren. Yet, if we sacrifice the holy things of God, the revelation of Truth, to placate our neighbor we become more his enemy than benefactor. What good will it be if we save the physical body at the expense of our souls and the heavenly things? “What profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world and lose his soul?” (Matt. 16:26). The greatest act of love for our neighbor is to hold fast to the holy things which will save the soul. For only through the Name, the Revelation, of Christ Jesus will persons be saved.
“Do not be afraid of those who can kill the body” – is not sickness of “those” who can kill the body? – “but are not able to kill the soul. Rather, fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in Gehenna” (Matt. 10:28).
Elder Athanasios teaches us, “In the course of Christian development, Christians will encounter martyrdom. If they truly desire to lift the banner of Christ, to bear the cross, the symbol of Christ, they will face martyrdom by a world that idolizes rest, comfort, and carnal pleasure.”
Martyrdom is the willingness to stand fast in and to suffer, even unto death if so called, for the Truth of the Revelation of the Name of Jesus Christ.
Elder Ephraim speaks these sobering and yet encouraging words, “in the latest years, in these last years we see that the world is full of the worshipers of Satan and heretics and apostates from God. Therefore those who will give the testimony of our Christ will become awesome martyrs, awesome Saints in the other world. Today we see souls being saved, and we feel that these simple saved people are very great, and have much glory in Heaven near God.”
To strive, even if ever so weakly, to love our Lord Jesus and to live for Him, holding fast to the Gospel in true humility of love, in these times of great upheaval, is an act of true Christian sacrificial love – a martyrdom. I cannot move the ancient landmarks which the fathers have set (cf. Prov. 22:28). To do so would truly damage my neighbor.
Truly there is a battle for the souls of mankind. Mine and my neighbors. The only way to victory is through the steadfast upholding of the Revelation of Jesus Christ. This Revelation does not change to satisfy the spirit of the times. For to do so would be a betrayal of true love.
“Let all Orthodox Christians strengthen themselves for the battle ahead, never forgetting that in Christ the victory is already ours. He has promised that the gates of hell will not prevail against His Church (Matt. 16:18), and that for the sake of the elect He will cut short the days of the last great tribulation (Matt. 24:22) And in truth, ‘If God be for us, who can be against us?’ (Rom. 8:31). Even in the midst of the cruelest temptations, we are commanded to ‘be of good cheer; I have overcome the world’ (Jn. 16:33) Let us live, even as true Christians of all times have lived, in expectation of the end of all things and the coming of our dear Savior; for ‘He that giveth testimony of these things saith: Surely I come quickly. Amen. Come, Lord Jesus’ (Apoc. 22:20)” – Bl. Seraphim (Rose).
17 thoughts on “Orthodoxy and the Religion of Today”
Excellent words for our times.
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Fr, Your posts are always spot-on with the spirit of the times. TRUTH without compromise is very rare today, especially in Orthodox settings. May God use your articles to open eyes and fill hearts with courage and Truth for the times we are heading into.
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Thank you, May God help us by His grace!
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Timely and strengthening Father, many thanks, especially for articulating how truly loving God is in His boundaries and refuting the incredible accusations of His opponents that we who truly love our neighbor and want his or her well-being do not. Christ and Orthodoxy offer life both temporally and eternally, alerting us to poison which leads to death so we may thrive and avoid or be healed from it. Glory to God for His All loving mercy and care for all of us prodigals.
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I take it that the title is meant to indicate that what Fr. Seraphim was warning of as a future possibility is our present reality? I don’t necessarily disagree. A few years ago a survey of world leaders was undertaken, and they were asked which books they most highly recommended; Teilhard de Chardin was on most of the lists (Orthodoxy and the Religion of the Future was not!). The events of the past year would not have been possible if Christianity had not been progressively denatured, and if the public had not been habituated gradually to the tyranny of experts; for the last ten-fifteen years we have been taught that the most central liberties must give way to even the most minimal and dubious safety concerns. These mandates have been trotted out at intervals without much opportunity for public comment; hidden boards of “experts” govern these stipulations. An “expert” is anyone who is in-line with globalist policy concerns, as in all the Washington policy wonks who were dubbed experts on Coronavirus overnight at the inception of the Pandemic; it is impossible that anyone who lacks globalist perspectives should be recognized as an expert, no matter how great their learning in the subject at hand!
I visualize Elder Ephraim holding these things back by his prayers like Moses holding apart the walls of water with his rod; it could easily have come upon us earlier. It’s been apparent for some time that they wanted a pandemic of some sort. First of all they had to make sure of the docility of the Public; if they’d tried this kind of thing in the ’80s, politicians would have been dropping like flies.
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Yes, indeed, an ever so little nod to Fr. Seraphim’s work …
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Somewhere in Father Seraphim’s writings, or perhaps in Fr. Damascene’s commentaries, it is indicated that what is wrong with Hinduism is that it is a religious system which confines men’s souls entirely to the circle of the world; the promised “freeing” of the soul after many cycles of reincarnation is spoken of as essentially annihilation. It also identifies men and beasts, so that there is no distinction. The hostility of Teilhard to the “Father-God of two-thousand years ago” (being a typical modern, the fact of something being two-thousand years old is considered so damning in itself that it’s hardly even necessary to produce coherent arguments against it) produces the same effect, and his Theology of Evolution (Evolution Saves!) also erases the distinction between men and beasts. The Satanic project is to bind men to the world, to convince them utterly that they are solely a part of its organic matrix, and are thus unable to rise to their true destiny of becoming sons of God. It can truly be said that Teilhard was a worshiper of the World; even to speak of a God whose being was outside of the world seemed to anger him, and he expressed it as a matter of no concern whether God existed or not. It was enough for him that
God would come into being when the entire world reached “The Omega Point” through the processes of evolution.
Consequently, the adoption of Teilhardian Theology by certain sectors in the Christian world represents the importation of what amounts to Hindu spirituality; this is even more of a threat in my estimation than the more direct importations of the many “Hare Christians” whose understanding of Hinduism is normally even weaker than their understanding of the Christian Faith. As Fr. Seraphim foretold, evolution is at the center of the demonic counterfeit Christianity, and the intent is to make all of Christianity conform to this model.
I have heard so many times a not-quite-so-extreme formulation of John Spong’s “Why Christianity Must Change Or Die” thesis, saying that Christians must adapt to the contemporary ethos in order to appeal to modern people, and in fact there must be a new formulation of Christian doctrine for 21st century man, that there must be “A different kind of Christian”. Apparently we are to dress Christ as an Elvis impersonator in one era, in bell-bottoms and love beads in another, and then proceed to “Saturday Christ Fever”. The emphasis throughout my Evangelical youth was to present Christianity to young people as the hippest thing ever, and it just all came to seem so silly; it was one of the things which set me on the path which led me eventually to Orthodoxy.
It’s essentially the same as the Liberal Christianity movement at the beginning of the 20th century; most of those people didn’t intend to apostatize, just to take into account some of the supposed scientific advances of the day, but when you unmoor yourself from the pillar and ground of truth and tie on to some floating standard, you can end up a long way from the shore before you know it. The Third Millennialists are headed in the same direction. It’s the salt losing its savor, the Church acquiring the World’s flavor instead of imparting to it its own preservative tang, and as Scripture says, it’s essentially worthless, well worthy to be ground into the dirt. As Fr. Lynch implies, unless the Church is presented as an unmoving standard with which the world and its forms can be judged, it’s hard to think why anyone would choose to submit to Her discipline; after all, everything reflects the spirit of the age.
A newsletter I get from a small women’s monastery recently contained an article on the “Orthodox response to the Pandemic”. In it, it said that the Church should be in the forefront in the fight against disease. I wrote back, “Excuse me, is this really what the Church is for”? It was also suggested that ubiquitous mask-wearing and social distancing are a new form of asceticism which the Orthodox should embrace enthusiastically. In a way it’s just a continuation of the worldly spirituality that has been infiltrating the Church for decades, but it’s plain that the Pandemic will be used to cement this spirituality as “The Orthodox” perspective for many people.
Everyone bemoans what “the Pandemic” has done to us, but in truth, the Pandemic has not done anything; it has made some sick, to be sure, and some of the worst afflicted have died, but it is the Lockdown that has destroyed our liberties and the economy. It is the response to the disease and not the disease itself which has done it; if there had been a sane and measured response to the disease, we would still live in a free and vibrant society.
This is why governors in the past took such great pains not to cause panic in the public over such things, because they knew that the results of such a panic would take longer to heal than the effects of the disease itself. It then becomes a valid question: Why have our governors chosen instead to incite panic? There were no scientific advances in recent years which mandated an entirely different approach to disease management. There was, however, a talk the sainted Dr. Fauci delivered several years ago to a group of Globalist politicians like himself which touted the benefits a disease pandemic offered for those who wished to usher in a controlled society. The phrase “Build Back Better” which has been ringing in our ears ever since the beginning of the Pandemic certainly suggests that from the beginning they intended to tear it all down. We have indeed been afflicted by a plague, but it is a plague of globalist politicians (which are much more destructive than locusts!) and their minions in our governments that has descended on us and swept away the remnants of a democratic order and a free society. Had this society been thriving it could never have happened, but its institutions have been being dismantled piecemeal for many years. The Worshipers of the World have chosen this moment to install its throne in every locality, and they are determined that every knee shall bow, and every tongue confess; like the distinctive articles of clothing Jews and Christians were compelled to wear to declare their submission to Islamic society, face-mask wearers declare their submission to the new order.
One of the best things that those who wish to resist can do is to insist on precision in speaking of the Pandemic; when someone repeats the lines relentlessly broadcast by our propaganda services organizations (formerly known as the News Media) and speaks of the damage this Pandemic has wrought, say to them, “How has the Pandemic done this? Isn’t it plainly the result of the Lockdown? If they say that if the disease had been uncontrolled that the damage would have been catastrophic, point to places like California which have instituted controls in the most draconian fashion, and places like Florida which have remained relatively open, and ask them to account for the fact that there isn’t a great difference in the disease statistics. This might make us unpopular in some circles, but it might preserve intellectual liberty for a few years longer.
Clarity of thought in general is the last bastion of Liberty, which is why it is currently under assault;
there was a piece published recently which recommended that the general public not be encouraged to think critically, and to just trust the experts. This of course has been the policy for many years, but it’s shocking to hear it so openly advocated. This means, of course, that we are no longer viewed as citizens who are responsible for helping to govern the country by making our views known to those in power, but as placid consumers, a type of cattle really, who must be driven to preselected locations by managers. This indicates the death of Democracy in any real sense of the word.
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Thank you for these most important words and reminders.
Doxa to Theo, John D.
A few excerpts and more from Bl. Father Seraphim:
— The time of the end, though it seems to be near, we do not know. However close, it is still future, and in the present we have only the same age-old fight against the unseen powers, against the world, and against our own passions, upon the outcome of which our eternal fate will be decided. Let us then struggle while it is still day, with the time and the weapons which our All-merciful God has given us!
— Truly, we are far more in need today of a return to the sources of genuine Orthodoxy than Blessed Paisius was! Our situation is hopeless! And yet God’s mercy does not leave us, and even today one may say that there is a movement of genuine Orthodoxy, which consciously rejects the indifference, renovationism, and outright apostasy which are preached by the world-famous Orthodox “theologians” and “hierarchs,” and also hungers for more than the “customary” Orthodoxy which is powerless before the onslaughts of a world refined in destroying souls.
— Our times, above all, call for humble and quiet labors, with love and sympathy for other strugglers on the path of the Orthodox spiritual life and a deep resolve that does not become discouraged because the atmosphere is unfavorable. We Christians of the latter times are still called to work persistently on ourselves, to be obedient to spiritual fathers and authorities, to lead an orderly life with at least a minimum of spiritual discipline and with regular reading of the Orthodox spiritual literature which Blessed Paisius was chiefly responsible for handing down to our times, to watch over our own sins and failings and not judge others. If we do this, even in our terrible times, we may have hope—in God’s mercy—of the salvation of our souls.
Introduction to Blessed Paisius Velichkovsky, by Schema-monk Metrophanes; St Herman of Alaska Brotherhood, Platina, CA, 1976.
We know not the day nor the hour, yet we ought to know the season, and it is getting very late in the year. Like a farmer who doesn’t know exactly when the first frost will come, but knows beyond doubt that it is coming, we should labor to get as much grain into the barns as possible before the weather turns.
I have come to think of spiritual truth as a three-tiered pyramid, with the revelation of Christ at the apex. The secondary tier is the history of Israel as recorded in the Old Testament, which establishes God’s Holiness and the sin which separates us from participation in God. Those who approach the apex of Christ’s teaching of the overwhelming love of God for man without interacting at all with the pedagogical travails of Israel under God’s tutelage do so in presumption, like 19th century Protestants who removed all harsh admonitions from their teaching. One can’t properly understand Christ’s teaching without the knowledge of God’s holiness.
The third tier is the basic moral understandings of all peoples since the beginning, that Law of God written on the heart of Man of which the Apostle speaks. This life as it has been lived through the centuries is largely concerned with the necessity of wrestling food out of the earth,
living by the sweat of the brow, as it were. Man’s life on the earth, painful and transitory, is itself a kind of moral instruction, and to approach the knowledge of God without any kind of grounding or understanding of this “Knowledge of the Earth” is to invite misapprehension.
Modern Man, who is largely removed by technology from this knowledge, and furthermore tends to regard himself as far superior to all peoples who have walked the earth previously, is in deadly danger of deception. Living in artificial urban environments, he is cut off from even the elementary tutelage of nature, deracinated and alienated, expelled even from the terrestrial garden. His art and his thought have been reprogrammed according to a mechanical model, so that his speech acquires the very qualities of the Machine, which he worships. Even those who profess to believe in God operate under this fundamental disadvantage. Truly, our only hope, if we have the humility, is to throw ourselves into the loving arms of the Fathers, and not to presume to be able to correct or alter any of these sacred teachings, passed down through the centuries to us like a lifeline thrown to a drowning man by those who had so many advantages which we lack.
Thank you, Father, for these profoundly important posts. You and Fr. Peter Heers are the only ones I have found who take this position.
Thank you, by God’s grace. Please remember me in your prayers.
“Yet, if we sacrifice the holy things of God, the revelation of Truth, to placate our neighbor we become more his enemy than benefactor.” This got me. I’m a convert to Orthodoxy from Protestantism and have many heterodox and even non-Christian friends and family. In all my discussions with them I have found that what my generation is hungry for, and what is driving many to give up on faith and/or organized religion when they don’t find it, is truth, its straight answers, free of any agenda but communicating reality, honesty, authenticity, and true, non-patronizing, non-compromising love. I’m Orthodox now because I kept searching until I found it, and I share it with them not because I take offense to their current beliefs, but for the simple reason that a soul that’s found its meaning cannot help but be a witness to such joy.
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