Christ is Risen!
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you where ever you go” (Joshua 1:9).
“The Church is forever eager to joyfully walk towards apocalyptic martyrdom in order to defend and preserve the theanthropic Person of Christ,” St. Justin Popovich.
The vocation of the True Christian is to valiantly defend the Truth and Revelation of the God-man in this world.
A primary temptation is to compromise the Truth of the God-man so as to appease this fallen world.
Holding steadfast to Christ is an apocalyptic endeavor, one that is inevitably tied to martyrdom. Martyrdom is the willingness to suffer persecution, rejection, defamation, and such for the Revelation of Jesus Christ. Martyrdom may include a physical death, but it is essentially a spiritual state in which a Christian learns to live.
When those in the Church begin to short-sale the Gospel in an attempt to maintain a seeming “peace” with the fallen world, something is terribly wrong. Even more terrifying is when the framework of Christianity is used to promote an anti-gospel. One that will inevitably lead to desecration and destruction. The only end for such will be that of “anathema.”
“I marvel that you are so quickly transferring yourselves from the One Who called you in the grace of Christ to a different gospel, not that there is another gospel” (Gal. 1:6).
St. Vincent of Lerins speaks to us these sobering words, “It behooves us then to have a great dread of the crime of perverting the faith and adulterating religion, a crime from which we are deterred not only by the Church’s discipline, but also the censure of apostolic authority. For everyone knows how gravely, how seriously, how vehemently, the blessed Apostle Paul inveighs against certain who, with marvelous levity, had been so soon to remove from him who had called them to the grace of Christ to another gospel, which was not another, ‘but was according to their own desires; they who have itching ears and who have heaped up for themselves teachers – and indeed they have turned away their ear from the truth and were turned aside to fables’ [cf. 2 Tim. 4:3].”
Do we witness around us a great dread in things touching upon the Life of Christ in His Church? How many holy things have been and continue to be mishandled, and with what levity? Have we been more akin to Uzzah in our disposition towards the things of Christ?
“We must not be mistaken: Christianity is Christianity only on account of the God-man; in this lies its extraordinary meaning and power” teaches St. Justin.
Once we who may be members of the Church begin to willingly compromise this essential uniqueness, then the movement away from the Truth and reality of Christ in His Church is begun. The Heavenly reality does not change according to the whims of men. It is immutable. Neither are the times, politics, social happenings, sickness, or death itself able to alter the extraordinary meaning and power of Christ in His Church.
“The God-man is the essence, the purpose, the meaning, and the essential value of the Church. He is its soul, its heart, and its life. He is the Church in its entire theanthropic fullness. The Church is nothing other than the God-man Christ projected through all the centuries: ‘And lo, I am with you always, to the the close of the age (Matt. 28:20)” proclaims the contemporary holy father St. Justin.
Thus, what will become of the Church if Christ – the soul, the heart, and the life – is expelled so to placate the powers of this age? This is an age old struggle. Truly the Church in Her essential and mysterious reality is incapable of such an act; yet we Her members may attempt to sell Christ to Pilate so that we do not lose our place. Lest, we begin to cry out in word and deed, “we have no king but Caesar!” – valuing Caesar and his benevolence above the Prince of Peace, and in action and word acknowledging our disposition of faith that only Caesar can give us “peace” and “safety.” In doing so we will find ourselves in another gospel, and therefore outside of the Church in Her reality. For there is no other gospel.
Such deeds participate in the spirit of “abomination of the desolation … standing in the holy place” (cf. Matt. 24:15). St. Ambrose of Milan links this abomination to the denial of Christ in the temple. (Clearly there are multiple layers of understanding here, I highlight but one.) He says, ultimately of the Antichrist, but it is also applicable to the spirit thereof, which is at work even now in the world, “he will deny Christ in a temple, not one inviolate but subject to corruption, which is either surrounded by the ruin of unbelief or undermined by the violence of anger, or burned by the fires of desires.”
The abomination is clearly linked to a corrupting of the temple, which may be understood as the Church. Again, the true Church can never be corrupted. An aspect of this corrupting is to reduce the temple to but a part of the corrupting factors of this fallen world. The abomination is the placing of a new anti-gospel in the midst of the temples of God. The final abomination will only be possible because the spirit was allowed to operate primarily in those places that should be temples of the Most High. An aspect of the abomination is to set the reason of the fallen world above the Holy Truth of Revelation in the Church. It is to subjugate the holy things to the profane.
The temple may also be our own hearts. We much keep them steadfast in Christ through repentance and a longing to be faithful to Him.
“What is the essence of Orthodoxy? It is the God-man Christ. Everything that is Orthodox has a divine-human character: knowledge, the senses, the will, the mind, morality, dogma, philosophy, and life. Divine humanity is the only category in which all the manifestations of Orthodoxy are received and fully operate,” elucidates St. Justin.
Thus, anything that is done that is not clearly and evidently founded upon the Divine humanity, the God-man, and the principles of His Incarnation, is not proper or befitting. The Incarnation is the standard for the operation of the Body of Christ, the Church, even unto this very day.
Outside of the Life in Christ, even the form of Orthodoxy will become a hollow shell, devoid of life and power. And let us beware, for we may have “a form of godliness, and deny the power thereof,” and from such, St. Paul says, turn away (cf. 2 Tim 3:5). Devoid of the living power of the God-man and the firm testimony of His Life operating continuously in His body, St, John Chrysostom says one is left with only “a form, a type, and hypocrisy.” Only desolation remains.
There is no other way for the Church to live but in and through Christ Her Lord. If people build on any principles other than the Incarnation of the Logos, then they are building anti-church As St. Justin teaches, “The Church because she is the body of Christ, constantly depends upon the incarnate divine Logos for Her essential being. The Church receives her immeasurable fullness of divine-human grace and power form Christ who fulfills all things that belong to the Church through Him (cf. Eph. 1:23; Col 2:9)”
It is impossible for the Church to be the Church without Christ Her Lord. If, in the name of the Church, the Traditions and Truth of Christ are abandoned, in either word or practice, then one is left with only anti-church. Such becomes another church, a false church, which must be turned over to anathema. For there is only One Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.
We are Orthodox only in as much as we cling steadfast, even if weakly, to Christ our Lord. Christ our Lord is continually incarnate in and through His Body, the saints, the oral and written traditions, the holy mysteries which are rays from the great mystery of the Church.
“The Church continues the greatest and holiest mystery of God in all the worlds. In comparison with God’s other mysteries, it is the Mystery of mysteries. All the mysteries of God in it are good tidings and beatitude, and each of them is Paradise, because each of them is full to overflowing with the sweet Lord,” preaches St. Justin.
At current we are witnessing the continued rise of anti-church, the ground has been prepared through the pan-heresy of ecumenism. Ecumenism has long ago denied the theanthropic nature of the true Church. It is the foundation of anti-church. Is it a wonder that now the very theanthropic reality is being practically denied even by those who bear the name of Orthodox? Take the situation in Ukraine as an example. The true Orthodox Church is persecuted by a form of orthodoxy that supports the current secular agendas. One should not be too surprised.
Orthodox believers will be and are being called by the world to lay aside the Life of Christ in His Church in the name of “love of neighbor.” Yet St. Justin prophetically observes, “The heretical humanistic division and separation of Love and Truth is simply the sign of lack of theanthropic faith and a loss of theanthropic balance and common sense.”
The enemy hates the Truth of Christ in His body, the Church. Thus, he assails it and encourages even Her own members to doubt and deny the unique theanthropic Truth of the Incarnation as continuously manifest in the Church. He seeks to deconstruct the Truth under the guise of what amounts to humanistic “care of neighbor.”
In the anti-church the divine-human reality of true Church is practicality and experientially denied. Its members will be directed to earthly means for their salvation. Christ will no longer trample down death, rather, the wonders of global order and scientistic achievement will be promoted as the primary saviors from sickness, human suffering, and death. Its miracles are the progress of humanistic ingenuity. Its priestly class is the “experts” who have gnostic knowledge regarding the “well-being” of humanity. It will place the occult of scientistic existence above the holy Traditions of Orthodoxy. Violence and persecution will be used to attempt to bring people into line (again take Ukraine as an example).
It will demand that Orthodoxy “humbles” and adapts itself before the new emerging humanistic gnosis.
In closing, let the opening words of St. Justin sink deep into your heart – “The Church is forever eager to joyfully walk towards apocalyptic martyrdom in order to defend and preserve the theanthropic Person of Christ.”
Conversely, anti-church will do all that it can to avoid the walk to apocalyptic martyrdom in defense of the theanthropic Person of Christ.