Monday, February 20, 2017

On Casual Frequent Communion

Elder Paisius of Sihla on casual frequent Communion.

Elder Paisius

Question: It is observed in some places Confession is neglected, and Holy Communion is given very often. What's the best thing to do in this situation?

Answer: We have no right to renounce the holy canons and the age-old practice of the Church. Let us follow the path of the Fathers and our predecessors, on the canonical path of holy tradition. Frequent Communion does not bring us to perfection, but repentance with tears, frequent Confession, abandonment of sin, and prayer of the heart do. The zeal of some for frequent Communion is a sign of the weakening of faith and of pride, and not of spiritual advancement. Our correction and advancement on the path of salvation begin with frequent Confession, and continue through fasting and tearful prayer, through the abandoning of sins, almsgiving, reconciliation with everyone, and humility. Only after we do all these things may we have Communion more often, as the holy canons and traditions of the Church show us. Otherwise, how can you receive the Lord of Heaven and earth into your house, when your soul is unclean, unconfessed, a slave to passions, and especially, full of pride? First we have need of tears, prayer, and frequent Confession, then all other gifts will be added to us.

From: A Little Corner of Paradise, St. Herman Press, 2016, p. 209

Friday, December 30, 2016

A Morning Prayer

By St. John of Kronstadt

"O, God! Creator and Master of the World! Mercifully protect Thy creature, adorned with Thy Godly image, in these morning hours: Let Thine eyes, millions and millions of times brighter than the rays of the sun, vivify and enlighten my soul, darkened and slain by sin. Deliver me from despondency and slothfulness, grant me joy and vigor of soul, so that with a glad heart I may praise Thy mercy, Thy holiness, Thy boundless greatness, and Thy infinite perfections, at every hour and in every place. For Thou, Lord, art my Creator and the Master of my life, and to Thee Thy reasonable creatures every hour send up glory and praise, both now and for ever and to the ages of ages. Amen"

From, "My Life in Christ," pg. 24.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

The Charismatic Movement and the Orthodox Church: the perspective of one Orthodox Priest, part 2

This article is part two in a series. 

A “Charismatic” Movement in the Early Church

In the town of Phrygia, central Asia Minor, about the year 160AD, a man named Montanus claimed to be “seized” by the Holy Spirit. He began to receive “special” messages, “speak in tongues,” prophesy, and so forth. Two women “prophetesses” soon join him: Priscilla and Maximillia.

This occurrence takes place well before the above given general date of 311AD (according to the Emerging Church scheme, when the Church allegedly enters a time of “darkness;” see part one of this series). Thus, even for a person subscribing to an Emerging Church philosophy, this incident should bear weight. It transpired when the Church, according to such thought, was still “being led by the Spirit.”

The History of the Early Church by Eusebius gives these details,There is said to be a certain village called  Ardabau in that part of Mysia, which borders upon Phrygia. There first, they say, when Gratus was proconsul of  Asia,  a recent convert, Montanus by name, through his unquenchable desire for leadership, gave the adversary opportunity against him. And he became beside himself, and being suddenly in a sort of frenzy and ecstasy, he raved, and began to babble and utter strange things, prophesying in a manner contrary to the constant custom of the Church handed down by tradition from the beginning … Thus by artifice, or rather by such a system of wicked craft, the devil, devising destruction for the disobedient, and being unworthily honored by them, secretly excited and inflamed their understandings which had already become estranged from the true faith. And he stirred up besides two women, and filled them with the false spirit, so that they talked wildly and unreasonably and strangely, like the person already mentioned. And the spirit pronounced them blessed as they rejoiced and gloried in him, and puffed them up by the magnitude of his promises. But sometimes he rebuked them openly in a wise and faithful manner, that he might seem to be a reprover. But those of the Phrygians that were deceived were few in number … And the arrogant spirit taught them to revile the entire universal Church under heaven, because the spirit of false prophecy received neither honor from it nor entrance into it.”1

The Montanists, based on the brief description above, experienced similar manifestation to those of the P/C movement, and the Universal Church at that time condemned it as heresy and delusion. As the Scriptures profess and caution, and as the Church indicated in Her dealings with the Montanists, not all “Charismatic” experiences are from God.

The Montanists declared that they were ushering in the age of the Holy Spirit, and with it renewed focus on prophecy, speaking in tongues, and the other gifts of the Spirit. To reject their message was, they claimed, blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. The Montanists prophesied in the first person, something unheard of in the Old and New Testament. It appears that Montanus would say, “I, the Holy Spirit, say to you ...” Whereas the Old and New Testament prophets all spoke in this manner, “Thus says the Lord ...” (cf. Act. 21:11; Is. 8:1). They also fervently expected the immediate return of Christ, even professing to know location and date. One author states, Montanists, “Claiming to receive revelation directly from God that fulfilled and superseded the revelation given to the Apostles, Montanus emphasized direct, ecstatic, and highly emotional spiritual experiences for all believers … (they) did not claim to be messengers of God but rather claimed that God 'possessed' them and spoke directly through them.”2

I will interject here a little personal experience: first, I remember at various meetings (while I was still a Charismatic) hearing people speak in the first person “I, the Lord, say ….” Second, when I first encountered the Montanist account, even before I was Orthodox, I was struck by its similarity to what I had hence experienced. One has but a few options: either push the date when the Church enters “darkness” back before 160AD so as to disregard the response of the Church to this movement, or admit that my experiences, and their strong resemblance to Montanism, had been at best very questionable. I went with the latter option.

Further testimony of the early Church has also come down to us in a letter of one Miltaides. He duly witnesses, “But the false prophet falls into an ecstasy, in which he is without shame or fear. Beginning with purposed ignorance, he passes on, as has been stated, to involuntary madness of soul. They cannot show that one of the old or one of the new prophets was thus carried away in spirit. Neither can they boast of Agabus, or Judas, or Silas, [Acts 15:32] or the daughters of Philip, or Ammia in Philadelphia, or Quadratus, or any others not belonging to them … For the apostle thought it necessary that the prophetic gift should continue in all the Church until the final coming. But they [i.e. Montanists] cannot show it [i.e. continuity with the Universal Church]...”3

Evidently, Montanus also used his newfound power to take up large-scale collections of money. He, “named Pepuza and Tymion, small towns in Phrygia, Jerusalem, wishing to gather people to them from all directions; who appointed collectors of money; who contrived the receiving of gifts under the name of offerings; who provided salaries for those who preached his doctrine, that its teaching might prevail through gluttony."4 Obviously Christian ministers have throughout the ages received their “due wages,” in earthly terms, for their labors. What is being decried here is the turning of “ministry” into a money making racket. This was also done at Asuza though extensive mailing lists.

Based upon the available accounts regarding Montanism, the small reconstructed picture bears a remarkable similarity, most of all, to that of the Azusa Street movement, which, keep in mind, was the catalyst for the whole modern “Pentecostal” experience, and its subsequent fruit.

The early Church decisively condemned Montanism at several local councils in Asia Minor, and Bishop Zephyrius of Rome condemned it around the year 200. Although the movement lingered on for a number of years, the answer of the Christian Church was clear: such “charismatic experiences” do not have their source in God. It is false charisma. It has its origin in another spirit. The Christian Church has never known such “manifestations.”

I by no means claim that every aspect of Montanism parallels the P/C movement, but there exist sufficient similarities to cause pause, most of all in the realm of "spiritual" gifts and manifestations.

The carefully deliberated response of the early Christian Church to Montanism and its self-professed “spiritual” gifts and power should cause circumspection for the modern Christian. Are the very recent and current (one hundred years is not that long ago) claims to “spiritual” renewal and power be trusted? Have people put faith in a power, because undoubtedly there is a power involved in the P/C movement, without trying and testing it? Has much of modern Christendom failed to, as St. Paul admonishes, “Prove all things, and hold fast to the good” (1 Thess. 5:21)? Are signs and powers in and of themselves an end-all proof that something is of God? Or are we to test signs and wonders, so as to see where they lead? “If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or wonder that he tells you comes to pass, and if he says, 'Let us go after other gods,' which you have not known, and serve them, you shall not listen to the words of that prophet ...” (Deut. 13:1-3).

It is no critical statement to simply say, the “Christianity” introduced by the P/C movement has a fundamentally different orientation from that of the Ancient Christian Church. Are its signs and wonders worth heeding? And is it restoring the long lost Church? Are Christians to expect a great last “revival” and the final restoration of the Church?

In the next series, I will undertake to test these claims.

1Eusebius, The History of the Church, 5.16.
2Damick, Andrew. Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy, Conciliar Media Ministries. Chesterson, IN. p. 21.
3Eusebius, The History of the Church, 5.17.

4Ibid. 5. 18.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

The Charismatic Experience and the Orthodox Church: the perspective of one Orthodox Priest

How does a person acquire the Holy Spirit? Does the Orthodox Church believe in the gifts of the Spirit? How do they operate in the life of a believer? Now that I am Orthodox how do I process the experiences that I had while in Evangelical Charismatic groups?

These are a few of the questions that I have asked and been asked after fourteen years in the Orthodox Church, six of which I have spent as a priest. Not long ago, I had another very productive conversation with a few parishioners about "Charismatic" topics, both pertaining to the Orthodox Church and things outside of Her. This conversation became the final impetus for me to address the subject in writing. Not that I am a brilliant fellow, mind you, but I have mulled over these and like questions in my personal life and experience within the Orthodox Church.

These themes will be addressed in multiple parts. This is part one.

I am a former Evangelical Charismatic. I was raised in the Vineyard Christian Fellowship, where my dad was a minister for a time. As a young boy, I remember running around the offices of the Anaheim Vineyard. I remember goofing around with John Wimber. I grew up in a "prophetic, charismatic" environment. Lonnie Frisbee, Bob Jones, Paul Cain, etc. …. Some of them I knew fairly well because of my dad's position as a minister (keep in mind this was the time of my childhood and adolescence).1 If these names mean nothing to you, don't worry about it. Suffice for you, the reader, to know that back in the day these were big names in their circles. I was supposedly part of the generation that would change the world for Jesus. It all seemed pretty exciting at the time. I spent three years in the mission field, in Kharkov, Ukraine. From there I went to Brownsville Revival School of Ministry, located at an Assemblies of God church in Brownsville, Florida. I was part of the "pioneer class." Manifestations? Check. Speaking in tongues? Check. "Slain in the Spirit?" Check. Prophetic words? Check. Dreams? Check. Visions? Check. Anyway, you get the point. My faith was a very Pentecostal and Charismatic one (for now, I am using those words in a general way, I will define them in a more specified manner through the course of this article). Shortly after I graduated from BRSM, and while in the midst of pursuing Protestant Ministry, the discovery of the Orthodox Church delightfully sidetracked me. But that is another story.

I went from an environment that valued "spontaneity in the Spirit" to liturgical worship and tradition. It seemed like two different worlds. I had a lot to process. My focus at present is to offer some of the examinations and conclusions that I have worked through and arrived at, in the hope that some may gain benefit from them.

I will focus primarily on history, method, and underlying meaning. I will strive to avoid polemics, but in such an endeavor it will be difficult to evade entirely. Let me state from the start: my goal is to address systems. I leave all persons to the judgment of God. Nonetheless, we are called to test, discern, and pass judgment, as St. John says, Do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see if they are of God (1 Jn. 4:1). Moreover, there are concrete Christian standards by which to make such judgments.

Towards an understanding of the Pentecostal/Charismatic movement

The Pentecostal/Charismatic movement has penetrated almost every sector of modern Christendom. From Baptists to Roman Catholics. Only in the Orthodox Church has it not found a place to grow, although it has tried to find a foothold. Christianity Today states, “A 2011 Pew Forum study showed that almost 305,000,000 people worldwide … (are) part of the charismatic movement.”2 The mindset that the movement holds has influenced much of the modern Protestant mind. In the following, I will briefly overview the historical roots of the Pentecostal/Charismatic movement (referred to as P/C movement from here on for the sake of brevity). Ah, history. For many a modern it is not too horribly important. Nonetheless, we arrived where we are today by very distinctive paths. To begin to understand the Pentecostal experience, we must examine its roots and paths.

But, before we delve into history we must understand a particular principle that drives much of modern Protestantism, most of all those sectors formed by the P/C movement. Of late this mind has been called "Emerging Church" (it also has other names such as - Restorationism, Kingdom Theology, Third Wave, etc.; although there may exist surface differences the underlying essence and foundation of these philosophies are the same). I have before me notes from my BRSM days (yes, I am one of those people that save school notes), which present a basic sketch of the Emerging Church philosophy. It goes as follows: between the year 311AD and 1300AD is simply the word "Darkness." That is, the Church went into a time of captivity and darkness. 1300AD is labeled "Refreshing Starts," during this period such figures as John Huss, John Wycliffe, and others are considered the pioneers of refreshment. 1500AD – "Grace," clearly this refers to what is known as the Protestant Reformation. 1700AD – "Personal holiness and conversion." 1800AD – "Prayer and Evangelism." 1900AD – "Baptism of the Holy Spirit." 1950AD – "Charismatic." Late 1900's – "Combine them all!" The note below the diagram reads, "God is building, adding and adding, God is restoring His Church!" And with a note of surprised delight it comments, "In the 1950's and after charismatic gifts began to flow even in traditional churches." As one may already perceive, the clear conclusion is that the Church (using that word very loosely) was lost to darkness, but God stepped in and overthrew the "traditions of men" to reestablish His work. The clear implication is that most of the Church's work between roughly 300-1500AD was not of God. I remember it being explained through the analogy of a puzzle: the pieces were lost and scattered, but they are slowly being brought back together, and the result will be the restoration of the full picture. Not only will there be a complete picture, but it will even possibly surpass the original (that is the book of Acts). The notes read, "We can expect a last surge to parallel (or even surpass) the first." Clearly, there is not a substantial value for tradition in this mindset. Tradition, such a paradigm commonly holds, was the death of the early Church. It became, such a mindset maintains, the human supplement to the original power and freedom in the "Spirit" that was originally at work in the early Church but subsequently lost. The problem with such a teaching is: A) it is not in the Scriptures, nor was it taught by early Christians. I will substantiate this later on. B) It is a type of "Christian" Spiritual Evolution. It is, I would venture, influenced more by the Western European philosophy of Progress, which was developed during the "Enlightenment," than by anything else. Almost everything old is bad or out of date. The new is what we need! It is a christianized (if even possible) ubermensch. People, the church, are progressing toward the spiritual "superman." I will not at this point wander into the Scriptures that Emerging Church adherents use to substantiate their claims. I may address this later on. The focus at hand is historical formation.

The P/C movement certainly could be traced back to the "Revival Holiness" movements of the 1800's in American. I will not follow that stream at present but will focus on the visible birth of the movement at the turn of the 20th century. Two key figures will be surveyed: Charles Parham, who is called "the father of Pentecost," and William Seymour, who is considered the catalyst of Pentecost. Clearly, numerous other individuals were involved in the movement, but for the sake of expediency I have narrowed it down to two.

Charles Parham

Mr. Parham
Mr. Parham began his ministry in the healing "revivals" of the late 1800's. As with many of his time, he professed to have a deep hunger for God, and a profound desire to see the power of God. Like other figures of that period, he became disillusioned with "denominationalism." (It is an interesting sidenote that similar sentiments were expressed by both Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism, and Charles Taze Russell, the founder of the Jehovah's Witnesses. This is not to directly equate these three men, Mr. Parham clearly never denied the Divinity of Christ as did the latter two. But the reader should note that there existed a spirit of discontentment with "denominationalism" in the 1800's, and many figures arose claiming to restore "true" Christianity. All three of these men professed to be seeking a new and special coming of Christ and His Kingdom.) Mr. Parham states, " … Feeling the narrowness of sectarian churchism, I was often in conflict with the higher authorities, which eventually resulted in open rupture; and I left denominationalism forever, though suffering bitter persecution at the hands of the church … Oh, the narrowness of many who call themselves the Lord's own!" (Liardon, Robert. God's Generals, Albury Publishing, 1996. p. 115.) Through subsequent experiences, he became convinced that "there still remained a great outpouring of power for the Christians who are to close this age" (Ibid, p. 117).

Parham eventually opens a Bible school in Topeka, Kansas, and later another in Houston, Texas. At one point he gave his students an assignment to diligently study the Scriptures (with a focus on the book of Acts) for evidence of the baptism of the Holy Spirit. After three days, the account goes, all the students (forty in all) came to the same conclusion: the common manifestation of baptism in the Holy Spirit is speaking in tongues. Fixated on this manifestation, they resolved to pray until they received the gift of tongues. A student by the name of Agnes Ozman is reportedly the first to receive the gift. Accounts say that she spoke in Chinese. In the very early records of the P/C movement tongues are stated as being in some earthly language. Mr. Parham says that he received the gift of the Swedish tongue. I will not address here the gift of tongues and the Orthodox understanding of it, but it should be taken into account that the very early P/C movement did not claim to be speaking in unintelligible babble, but, as we will see, it soon turned into that very thing. Another striking point is that this "outpouring" takes place right at the start of the 20th century, which will be a century of unparalleled change and world upheaval. Parham then begins to preach the baptism of the Holy Spirit and the evidence of tongues. His teaching is the root of the Pentecostal doctrine of tongues as the initial sign of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Such a doctrine was unheard of in Christianity before this time. Although isolated instances of "speaking in tongues" were recorded within Protestantism before Mr. Parham's movement, his movement is responsible for its growth and even explosion in the Protestant world.

Many phenomenal stories and accounts surround the life of Mr. Parham. He sincerely saw himself as restoring the apostolic faith, "Now that they [apostolic faith tents] are generally accepted, I simply take my place among the brethren ..." (Ibid. 128). Like many other Protestant leaders before him, he was sure that God had chosen and entrusted him with a unique task. He was willing to write off his opponents as narrow and opposed to the will of God (as he proclaimed it). Ironically, in his professed desire to escape the confines of "denominationalism," he created a new denominator: Pentecostalism. Thereby perpetuating the very fracturing that he allegedly wished to heal. Mr. Parham claimed that his authority was derived from the Bible and the power of the Holy Spirit. Like most Protestants, he subscribed to "Sola Scriptura" (the teaching that the Bible alone is necessary for establishing Christian Faith). But, as most of Protestant history shows, there was significant disagreement on what the Bible supposedly simply and clearly proclaimed. It was not so clear and simple after all. Pentecostalism would have an ever-evolving body of various teachings, many times contradicting each other. Accusations of sexual immorality plagued the end of Mr. Parham's ministry.

William J. Seymour

Mr. Seymour
Mr. Seymour was an African American Baptist minister turned holiness preacher who also professed a dissatisfaction with the Christianity of his day and sought a deeper experience. He had wandered through a few denominations before he stumbled upon Mr. Parham's meetings in Houston, Texas. He attended Parham's school in Houston. Due to the segregation of the times, Mr. Seymour was not able to sit in the classroom; instead, he listened to the lectures from the hallway. One writer states, "Though Seymour did not embrace every doctrine that Parham taught, he did embrace the truth of Parham's doctrine concerning Pentecost. He soon developed his own theology from it" (Ibid. p. 143). In 1906, Seymour made his way to Los Angeles, California, where he took a pastorate job. He immediately began to preach his newly found doctrine of speaking in tongues. As with the group in Topeka, Seymour and company spent hours seeking the "baptism of the Holy Spirit." At some point, a Mr. Lee began speaking in tongues, followed by others. People ran around purportedly prophesying and preaching; others claimed miraculous healings.

The group eventually found a building at 312 Azusa Street, and thus to this day it is frequently referred to as the "Azusa Street Revival." The meetings are described as "unique:" the seating was arranged so that the participants faced one another. The music was impromptu, no hymn books were used, the meetings had no program, leaving everything to the "direction of the Spirit." When the group thought that someone was not speaking from the "Spirit," they would begin to wail and sob. In a publication called The Apostolic Faith, "Seymour announced his intention to restore 'the faith once delivered' …" (Ibid. p. 154). As with Parham, the implication is obvious: the Apostolic Faith had been lost, and these men were chosen to restore it. At Azusa Street the alleged manifestations of the "Spirit" quickly began to take on unnatural symptoms: tongues became unintelligible babble, called a "prayer language;" participants also howled, writhed, shook, wailed, were seized by fits and spasms, and so forth. Asuza Street is the fount of most manifestations that are common today in the P/C movement, and most every Pentecostal denomination, whether directly or indirectly, can trace their founding to the participants of Azusa.3

Azusa Street Mission
Very quickly the move of the "Spirit" that was to unite all true believers began to fragment into rivaling groups. At some point, Mr. Parham traveled to the Azusa Mission, and there he relates in horror what he found, "I hurried to Los Angeles, and to my utter surprise and astonishment I found conditions even worse than I anticipated … manifestations of the flesh, spiritualistic controls, saw people practicing hypnotism at the altar over candidates seeking baptism, though many were receiving the real baptism … I found hypnotic influences, familiar-spirit influences, spiritualistic influences, mesomeric influences, and all kinds of spells, spasms, falling into trances, etc." (Ibid. 157,158). He also reproached it as “spiritual power prostituted.” At least Mr. Parham had the sense to understand, "The Holy Spirit does nothing that is unnatural or unseemingly, and any strained exertion of body, mind or voice is not the work of the Holy Spirit, but of some familiar spirit, or other influence. The Holy Spirit never leads us beyond the point of self-control or the control of others, while familiar spirits of fanaticism lead us both beyond self-control and the power to help others" (Ibid. p. 158). The "father of speaking in tongues" himself denounced the work at Azusa. One would think this to be a crushing blow to Seymour and followers, but it was not. Seymour merely banned Parham from the meetings stating, "Mr. Parham … is not the leader of this movement of Azusa Mission. We thought of having him to be our leader and so stated in our paper (The Apostolic Faith), before waiting on the Lord. We can be rather hasty, especially when we are very young in the power of the Holy Spirit …" Apparently, Seymour implies that he has now surpassed Parham in an understanding of the "Power of the Spirit." The Azusa Mission disregarded Parham's criticisms and claimed to have outgrown his immature thoughts. As with ensuing groups, they saw themselves as much more enlightened and filled with the "Holy Spirit," and thus were under no obligation to obey "men." Such a claim, of course, only becomes a convenient cover for pride and arrogance.

Most of the more stable and classic Evangelical ministers of the time denounced the movement: “G. Campbell Morgan, a highly respected evangelical preacher, called the Pentecostal movement 'the last vomit of Satan,' while R. A. Torrey claimed that it was 'emphatically not of God, and [was] founded by a Sodomite.' In his book, Holiness, the False and the True, Harry Ironside in 1912 denounced the movement as 'disgusting . . . delusions and insanities' and accused their meetings as causing 'a heavy toll of lunacy and infidelity.'”4

These fiercely denounced subjective experiences are the central bedrock of "theology" for the P/C movement.

The “Pentecostal” experience began in a way that would be somewhat acceptable to some Protestants, but once it gained traction it quick revealed its true nature: one that was unveiled at Azusa. Unaccountability, bizarre manifestations, and such things, all found a happy home under the excuse of “the Spirit is leading me.” Such “freedom” is irresistible.

The Azusa Mission quickly fell into distension. Seymour's various "disciples" rose up to claim a deeper "experience of the Spirit," much as Seymour had done with Parham. Seymour ended his days with a shell of a movement, after consecutive splits and fractures only about twenty people remained with him at the original Azusa Mission.

Charismatic movement

The Charismatic movement approximately marks the point when "Pentecostal" philosophy and style began to surface in "Mainline" denominations. Before the Charismatic movement "Pentecostals" were considered "fringe groups" by many Protestant denominations. Most sources consider a Mr. Dennis Bennett as the vanguard of the charismatic movement. He was an Episcopal minister in Van Nuys, CA. In 1960 he claimed to have experienced the "baptism of the Holy Spirit." Due to the conflict that this created in his congregation, he resigned and took another Episcopal church in Seattle, WA., named St. Luke's. This community became a center point in the early charismatic movement. “In a sense, Pentecostalism was entering the mainline (the Episcopal Church, no less) and this was news. This began the mainstreaming of continualist practices (like speaking in tongues, praying for healing, etc.) that were primarily found in Pentecostal churches that, up until now, were often on the fringe of Protestantism."5 Due to this movement, Pentecostalism quickly spread through “Mainline” Protestantism, and it did not stop there. It even made its way into the Roman Catholic Church. “Though much of the belief and practice of the Charismatic Movement came directly from the Pentecostals who had been around for nearly sixty years, the mainline churches who embraced such belief avoided the 'Pentecostal' label for both cultural and theological reasons.”6

“This new 'Charismatic' movement quickly spread to other mainline denominations and, by the mid-’60s ... The movement’s visibility and networks were further strengthened by the success of the Pentecostal-leaning “Jesus People” movement among American youth in the late ’60s and ’70s. In the 1980s, a vigorous, independent network of Charismatic churches and organizations (at times described as the “Third Wave”) emerged, including churches such as the Vineyard Christian Fellowship.”7

Thus, the Charismatic and Pentecostal movements are indeed one general movement. These novel and fringe movements have, through various means, become one of the most influential mindsets in modern Protestantism.

As we move forward, an important question to ask is: did the Ancient and early Church deal with any phenomenon similar to P/C movement? The answer is yes.

Part two is forthcoming ... 

1My father has since also come home to the Orthodox Church, where he serves as a Deacon.
3Cf. Ibid. 163


Monday, October 17, 2016

Only an Altar Makes a Temple

"In the Old and in the New Testament the main difference between a temple and a house of worship is that the latter has no altar, which is the most important place in the temple. Dating as far back as Adam, it was pleasing to God to show His distinctive presence in the places where sacrifices were offered (cf. Gen 4:4). It was by the altar that He revealed Himself to Noah (Gen 8:20-21). He commanded that the tabernacle and the Temple of Solomon be built for offering sacrifices, and sanctified them through the manifestation of His uncreated glory in the form of a cloud (Exod. 40:34; 1 Kings 8:10). The Lord said of the Temple of Solomon: I have hallowed this house, which thou hast built, to put my name there for ever; and Mine eyes and Mine heart shall be there perpetually (1 Kings 9:3).

The Savior Himself prayed in the temple, calling it His Father's house (Jn. 2:16). Then in the New Testament Church, the holy apostles established the practice of erecting altars in churches. Here's what St. Paul says about this: We have an altar, whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle (Heb. 13:10). It's the same today – in the Apostolic Church the heart of a church is the altar. To this we may add that in heaven – which … is the pattern for our worship services – there is a mystical altar. St. John saw the souls of the martyrs beneath it (Rev. 6:9), and from this sacred place God reveals His will to the angels (Rev. 9:13; 16:7). The prophet Isaiah received purification from the heavenly altar: Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar: And he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged (Is. 6:6-7). Yet it's precisely this all-important object that is missing in protestant houses of worship, and for this reason they cannot be called biblical churches." 

Excerpted from the fabulous little book entitled "A Protestant's Walk Through an Orthodox Church," By Priest Daniel Sysoev. pp. 13-14

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

A prayer for Orthodox Christians of the Latter Times

For Daily Use

By St. Anatole (the Younger) of Optina

"Deliver me, O Lord, from the deceptions of the God-hating and evil antichrist, whose coming is at hand, and shelter me from his snares in the secret desert of Thy salvation. Grant me, O Lord, strength and courage to firmly confess Thy Most Holy Name, that I may not abandon Thee because of the devil's fear and that I may not deny Thee my Saviour and Redeemer, nor Thy Holy Church. But grant me, O Lord, cries and tears for my sins, and spare me in the hour of Thy dread judgement.    Amen"

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Emblematically Traced ...

By, St. John of Kronstadt

"In the temple, in its arrangements and parts, in the icons, in the Divine services, with the reading of the Holy Scripture, the singing, the rites, the entire Old Testament, New Testament, and Church history, the whole Divine ordering of the salvation of mankind is emblematically traced, as upon a chart, in figures and in general outlines. Grand is the spectacle of the Divine services of our Orthodox Church for those who understand it, who penetrate into its essence, its spirit, its signification, its sense!"

From: My Life in Christ, Holy Trinity Publications, p. 394.