Saturday, August 12, 2017

A True Heart

By St. John of Kronstadt


The Christian has no reason to have in his heart any ill-feeling whatever against anyone - such ill-feeling, like every evil, is the work of the devil; the Christian must only have love in his heart; and as love cannot think of evil, he cannot have any ill-feeling against others ... We must not let evil in any form nestle in our heart; but evil generally appears in too many forms.

When on your way to God you meet obstacles raised up by the devil: doubt and unbelief of heart, also a thorough ill-feeling, sometimes towards persons worthy of absolute respect and love, as well as other passions. Do not be disturbed by them, but know it is but the smoke of the enemy, which will be dispersed at a sign from our Lord Jesus Christ.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Akathist to Tsar-Martyr Nicholas II



Why was Tsar Nicholas II persecuted, slandered, and killed? Because he was Tsar, Tsar by the Grace of God. He was the bearer and incarnation of the Orthodox world-view that the Tsar is the servant of God, the Anointed of God, and that to Him he must give an account for the people entrusted to him by destiny. For all his deeds and actions, not only those done personally, but also as Tsar.: St. John Maximovich

(NOTE: this Akathist was originally posted on -
http://fr-d-serfes.org/royal/akathist.htm
It was penned by a Daniel Stolypin. I have prayed through this Akathist numerous times. In doing so I noticed that some of the Ikos had seven lines, other six. This is most noticeable while singing through the Akathist. I took the liberty of adding a seventh line to those that lacked it. I have noted these lines with an asterisk [ * ].)


Akathist to Tsar-Martyr Nicholas II



Kontakion 1


O passion bearer, chosen from birth and incarnation of the love of Christ, we sing thee praises as one who did love all the fatherland. As thou hast boldness before the Lord, enlighten our darkened minds and hearts that we may cry to thee: Rejoice, O Nicholas, God crowned Tsar and great passion bearer!

Ikos 1

The Creator of angels sent thee to the Russian land as an angel of meekness and instructor to thy people, as He did choose thee after the example of His Only Begotten Son to be a sacrifice of redemption for the sins of the people. And we marveling at the Providence of the Almighty towards thee, cry out with contrition:

Rejoice, O likeness of Christ.
Rejoice, sacrifice of whole burnt offering.
Rejoice, adornment of the Tsars of Russia.
Rejoice, thou who gavest an example of meekness and forgiveness to all.
Rejoice, true hope of the offended.
Rejoice, unshakable foundation of faith.
Rejoice, O Nicholas, God crowned Tsar and great passion bearer!

Kontakion 2

The All-good Mother of God, seeing her chosen place, the Russian land, defiled by the abomination of corruption, shose thee from thy birth as a most pure one who would be for the cleansing of Russia, that all might as a funeral lamentation make a hymn to thee: Alleluia

Ikos 2

The pre-eternal Mind did fore know thy salvation and thy life, prefigured by Job the Much Suffering, joining thy birth and the memory of the righteous one. And we, recalling our sins and lawless deeds, with trembling of heart and contrition of soul cry out to thee thus:

Rejoice, thou who didst endure abuse and trials from thine own people.
Rejoice, thou who didst preserve the Faith to the end.
Rejoice, example of meekness.
Rejoice, guardian of the worship of God.
Rejoice, rule of humility.
Rejoice, fortress of Orthodoxy!*
Rejoice, Nicholas, God crowned Tsar and great passion bearer!

Kontakion 3

The power of the Most-High did overshadow thee, O God crowned Nicholas, who didst fight back to enlighten the West in its false wisdom, that the world might cry out to God: Alleluia.

Ikos 3

Having fervor for the enlightenment of those gone astray, thou, O right believing Tsar, was zealous for the erection of churches, the glorification of the relics of the Saints who pleased God, the planting of Christian enlightenment, and the protection of the unfortunate against violence, and so the Christian world cries out to thee thus:

Rejoice, namesake of St. Nicholas upon the earth.
Rejoice, fellow intercessor with St. Seraphim in Heaven.
Rejoice, planter of Orthodox.
Rejoice, bearer of the Light of Christ.
Rejoice, teacher of Christian patience.
Rejoice, intercessor for Orthodox Christians.
Rejoice, O Nicholas, God crowned Tsar and great passion bearer!

Kontakion 4

Thou didst no feat the storm of folly and abuse, O passion bearer Nicholas, when thou didst renounce agreement with the enemies for the destruction of the fatherland,; and thou didst endure censure, imprisonment, and death, crying to the Almighty: Alleluia.

Ikos 4

Hearing of the tumults of the Russian land and beholding the destruction of Christians, thou didst unceasingly pray, that the all pure Mother of God save Orthodox Russia. Wherefore, we cry out to thee:

Rejoice, fragrant incense of prayer. 
Rejoice, inextinguishable lamp of faith.
Rejoice, admonisher of the violent by meekness.
Rejoice, consolation of the disconsolate amid sorrows.
Rejoice, lover of heavenly things.
Rejoice, rebuke of the earthly minded!*
Rejoice, O Nicholas, God crown Tsar and great passion bearer!

Kontakion 5

Thou hast been revealed as a God-guided star for Russians in the diaspora, O Tsar Nicholas; for, gathering them together in thy name, thou dost show the path to the rebirth of the Russian land, that we may hear angels crying out: Alleluia.

Ikos 5

Seeing that thy meekness and humility accomplished nothing, thou didst place all thy hope in the Most-Pure Mother of God and give thyself entirely into the hands of the Almighty, that even the senseless might be instructed to sing to thee:

Rejoice, vanqusher of pride.
Rejoice, invincible  rampart of the infirm.
Rejoice, enlightenment of the proud.
Rejoice, overflowing love for thy people.
Rejoice, fervent sacrifice fr the Russian land.
Rejoice, lamb slaughtered for the sake of Christ the Lord!*
Rejoice, O Nicholas, God-crowned Tsar and great passion bearer!

Kontakion 6

The ends of the world preach thy glory, and they word hath gone forth into all the earth; for there is no sacrifice thou wouldst not have offered for the good of the Russian land, thereby teaching thy people to sing in thanksgiving to God: Alleluia.

Ikos 6

Thou didst shine forth greater than the sun for the Russian land, O tsar Nicholas, revealing thine intercession for the Orthodox people evern unto death, that all might be converted to Christ and hasten to thee. Therefore we hymn thee thus:

Rejoice, O light that come out of the East.
Rejoice, example to Orthodox kings.
Rejoice, unquenchable shining of righteousness.
Rejoice, unsetting luminary of meekness.
Rejoice, fatherly exhortation to sinners.
Rejoice, fervent glorification of the righteous!
Rejoice, O Nichola, God-crowned Tsar and great Passion bearer!

Kontakion 7

WHishing to strengthen the Orthodox Faith on earth, thou didst move thy whole kingdom to the defense of the wronged land of Serbia, that all might cry out to God: Alleluia.

Ikos 7

The Lord did manifest thee as a new Noah, a builder of salvation for the Russian people, that all, remembering thy labors, might cry out ceaselessly thus:

Rejoice, helmsman of the Russian ship.
Rejoice, consolation of the Slavs in misfortunes.
Rejoice, guide of the faithful.
Rejoice, proclaimer of the love of peace.
Rejoice, planter of Christian virtues.
Rejoice, faithful believer in the providence of God!
Rejoice, O Nicholas, God crowned Tsar and great passion bearer!

Kontakion 8

We see a strange wonder in thee, O Nicholas, who many times wast saved by the right hand of the Most-High and was crowned by a martyr's crown together with thy children and kinsmen, that we might cry out to God the Provider of all things: Alleluia.

Ikos 8

Thou wast entirely a defender for all Christians, O divinely chosen Nicholas, and didst show a double intercession for the Slavic peoples, moving them to sing to thee in praise:

Rejoice, defense of the offended.
Rejoice, exhortation to offenders.
Rejoice, refuge for the grieving.
Rejoice, intercessor for the persecuted.
Rejoice, peacemaker in thy life.
Rejoice, champion of Christians after thy murder.
Rejoice, O Nicholas, God crowned Tsar and great passion bearer!

Kontakion 9

By many wonders did the Lord reveal His good will to the Russian people, until they did grieve Him mightily; but being called by thee in repentance, we cry out together unto God: Alleluia.

Ikos 9

Eloquent orators, like voiceless fish, cannot express the height of thy patience; but we, beholding the abyss of our fall, cry out in contrition of spirit:

Rejoice, unvanquishable patience.
Rejoice, unwavering faithfulness of Christians.
Rejoice, wise teacher of the foolish.
Rejoice, thou who didst give an example to the faithful in thy life and martyr's          death.
Rejoice, thou who didst suffer for the sins of thy people.
Rejoice, thou who didst pray ceaselessly for thine enemies!*
Rejoice, O NIcholas, God crowned Tsar and great passion bearer!

Kontakion 10

Christ the Knower of hearts, WHo founded the Church on the blood of martyrs, desiring to save all men, did place thee, O Passion bearer Nicholas, as the foundation of the new house of the Russian realm, that all within might cry out to God: Alleluia.

Ikos 10

thou are a rampart for all who hasten to thee with faith, and an inextinguishable protection for the Orthodox world, and thou dost teach all the faithful to glorify thee thus:

Rejoice, manifestation of heavenly things on earth.
Rejoice, new strength for those grown faint in the virtues.
Rejoice, dawn that hath shone forth on the land of Russian.
Rejoice, river that doth nourish all her boundaries.
Rejoice, teacher of the humility of wisdom.
Rejoice, planter of faith and love.
Rejoice, O Nicholas, God crowned Tsar and great passion bearer.

Kontakion 11

Offering a hymn to the Most-Holy Trinity even unto thy death, thou didst finish thy course and keep the Faith, by which thou dost move all Orthodox Christians to sing: Alleluia.

Ikos 11

Thou wast sent by the Giver of Light to the Russian land like an immaculate lamb, and thou didst lay down thy life for the redemption of our sins, that we all might ceaselessly glorify thee thus:

Rejoice, sacrifice beloved of God.
Rejoice, unquenchable abundance of love.
Rejoice, praise of the faithfulness of Christ.
Rejoice, invincible blowing of the Spirit.
Rejoice, mirror of wisdom.
Rejoice, hope of the hopeless!
Rejoice, O Nicholas, God crowned Tsar and great passion bearer!

Kontakion 12

The Divine grace which healeth the infirm did fore know thee as an imperishable healing for thy subjects who cry out to God: Alleluia.

Ikos 12

Hymning thy suffering, O Passion-bearer Nicholas, we bow down before thy patience, for the power of the Almighty Trinity was manifest in thee, that we might all with one accord cry out:

Rejoice, Beloved child of Christ.
Rejoice, thou who didst conduct thine immaculate children and faithful servant s       to Christ.
Rejoice, thou who didst aid the Queen to be righteous and a martyr.
Rejoice, thou who didst truly direct thy people.
Rejoice, thou who didst not bring abuse to the honor of thy fatherland.
Rejoice, thou who didst gain the Kingdom of Heaven.
Rejoice, O Nicholas, God crowned Tsar and great passion bearer.

Kontakion 13

O most wondrous and most glorious Passion-bearer Nicholas, look down upon thy earthly kingdom and thy people, for we have no answer for our sins, and entreat the Almighty that He may not enter into judgment with us, but might vouchsafe us ceaselessly to cry out: Alleluia (repeat 3x)

Ikos 1

The Creator of angels sent thee to the Russian land as an angel of meekness and instructor to thy people, as He did choose thee after the example of His Only Begotten Son to be a sacrifice of redemption for the sins of the people. And we marveling at the Providence of the Almighty towards thee, cry out with contrition:

Rejoice, O likeness of Christ.
Rejoice, sacrifice of whole burnt offering.
Rejoice, adornment of the Tsars of Russia.
Rejoice, thou who gavest an example of meekness and forgiveness to all.
Rejoice, true hope of the offended.
Rejoice, unshakable foundation of faith.
Rejoice, O Nicholas, God crowned Tsar and great passion bearer!

Kontakion 1


O passion bearer, chosen from birth and incarnation of the love of Christ, we sing thee praises as one who did love all the fatherland. As thou hast boldness before the Lord, enlighten our darkened minds and hearts that we may cry to thee: Rejoice, O Nicholas, God crowned Tsar and great passion bearer!


  Troparion, Tone 5
    Thou didst meekly endure the loss of an earthly kingdom, * and bonds and many sufferings from the fighters against God, * witnessing of Christ even unto death, * O great Passion-bearer and God crowned Tsar Nicholas. * Wherefore Christ God did crown thee and thy Queen and children with a martyr's crown in Heaven; * do thou entreat Him to have mercy on the Russian land and to save our souls.
A Prayer To The Holy Tsar-Martyr Nicholas
O holy passion-bearer Tsar Martyr Nicholas! The Lord has chosen thee as His anointed one to judge with mercy and righteousness thy people and to be the guardian of the Orthodox Kingdom.
This royal service and the care for souls thou hast completed with the fear of God.  Testing thee as gold in the furnace, the Lord has allowed bitter sorrows to come upon thee, as to the much suffering Job, by depriving thee of thy royal throne and sending upon thee martyric death. Having meekly endured all this, like a true slave of Christ, thou art partaking of the highest glory at the Throne of the God of All, together with the Holy Martyrs, the holy Tsarina Alexandra, the holy youth Crown Prince Alexis, and the holy princesses Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia and with the faithful servants of thine, as well as with the holy Martyr Grand Duchess Elizabeth and with all the Royal Martyrs and the Holy Martyr Barbara.
For as having great boldness before Christ King, for whose sake thou hast endured everything, pray with us, that the Lord might forgive the sin of thy people, who did not stop thy slaughter, as King and Anointed One of God, that the Lord will deliver the suffering land of Russia from the fierce and godless ones, who came upon it because of our sin and apostasy, and that He will restore the throne of Orthodox Tsars, and to us will grant forgiveness of sins and will instruct us on every good deed, that we might acquire humbleness, meekness and love, as these Martyrs have done, that we will be vouchsafed the Heavenly Kingdom, where together with thee and all the Holy New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia, we might glorify Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, both now and ever and to the ages of ages. Amen.




Saturday, July 1, 2017

The Last Judgment, by St. John Maximovich

St. John Maximovich

The Day Of the Last Judgment! That day no one knows -- only God the Father knows -- but its signs are given in the Gospel and in the Apocalypse of the holy Apostle John the Theologian. Revelation speaks of the events at the end of the world and of the Last Judgment primarily in images and in a veiled manner. However, the Holy Fathers have explained these images, and there is an authentic Church tradition that speaks clearly concerning the signs of the approach of the end, and concerning the Last Judgment. Before the end of life on earth there will be agitation, wars, civil war, hunger, earthquakes... Men will suffer from fear, will die from expectation of calamity. There will be no life, no joy of life but a tormented state of falling away from life. Nevertheless there will be a falling away not only from life, but from faith also, and "when the Son of Man cometh, shall He find faith on the earth?" (St. Luke 18:8). Men will become proud, ungrateful, rejecting Divine law. Together with the falling away from life will be a weakening of moral life. There will be an exhaustion of good and an increase of evil. 

Of these times, the holy Apostle John the Theologian speaks in his God-inspired work, the Apocalypse. He says that he "was in the Spirit" when he wrote it; this means that the Holy Spirit Himself was in him, when under the form of various images, the fate of the Church and the world was opened to him, and so this is a Divine Revelation. 

The Apocalypse represents the fate of the Church in the image of a woman who hides herself in the wilderness: she does not show herself in public life, as today in Russia. In public life, forces that prepare the possibility for the appearance of Antichrist will play the leading role. 

Antichrist will be a man, and not the devil incarnate. "Anti" means "old," and it also signifies "in place of" or "against." Antichrist is a man who desires to be in place of Christ, to occupy His place and possess what Christ should possess. He desires to possess the attraction of Christ and authority over the whole world. Moreover, Antichrist will receive that authority before his destruction and the destruction of the world. 

What is known of this man -- Antichrist? His precise ancestry is unknown: his father is completely unknown, and his mother a foul pretended virgin. He will be a Jew of the tribe of Dan. He will be very intelligent and endowed with skill in handling people. He will be fascinating and kind. The philosopher Vladimir Soloviev worked a long time at presenting the advent and person of Antichrist. He carefully made use of all material on this question, not only Patristic, but also Moslem, and he worked out a brilliant picture. 

Before the advent of Antichrist, there was a preparation in the world, the possibility of his appearance. The mystery of iniquity doth already work (II Thes. 2:7). The forces preparing for his appearance fight above all against the lawful Imperial authority. The holy Apostle Paul says that Antichrist cannot be manifested until what withholdest is taken away (II Thes. 2:6-7). St. John Chrysostom explains that the "withholding one" is the lawful pious authority: such an authority fights with evil. For this reason the "mystery," already at work in the world, fights with this authority; it desires a lawless authority. When the "mystery" decisively achieves that authority, nothing will hinder the appearance of Antichrist any longer. 

Fascinating, intelligent, kind, he will be merciful — he will act with mercy and goodness; but not for the sake of mercy and goodness, but for the strengthening of his own authority. When he will have strengthened it to the point where the whole world acknowledges him, then he will reveal his face. 

For his capital, he will choose Jerusalem, because it was here that the Savior revealed His Divine teaching and His person. It was here that the entire world was called to the blessedness of goodness and salvation. The world did not acknowledge Christ and crucified Him in Jerusalem; whereas, the whole world will acknowledge the Antichrist’s authority and Jerusalem will become the capital of the world. 

Having attained the pinnacle of authority, Antichrist will demand the acknowledgement that he has attained what no earthly power had ever attained or could attain and then demand the worship of himself as a higher being, as a god. 

V. Soloviev describes the character of his activity well, as "Supreme Ruler." He will do what is pleasing to all -- on the condition of being recognized as Supreme Authority. He will allow the Church to exist, permit her Divine services, promise to build magnificent churches…. on the condition, that all recognize him as "Supreme Being" and worship him. Antichrist will have a personal hatred for Christ; he will see Him as a rival and look upon Him as a personal enemy. He will live by this hatred and rejoice in men's apostasy from Christ. 

Under Antichrist, there will be an immense falling away from the faith. Many bishops will change in faith and in justification will point to the brilliant situation of the Church. The search for compromise will be the characteristic disposition of men. Straight-forwardness of confession will disappear. Men will cleverly justify their fall, and gracious evil will support such a general disposition. There will be the habit of apostasy from truth and the sweetness of compromise and sin in men. 

Antichrist will allow men everything, as long as they "fall down and worship him"; and the whole world will submit to him. Then there will appear the two righteous men, who will fearlessly preach the faith and accuse Antichrist. According to Church tradition, they are the two Prophets of the Old Testament, Elijah and Enoch, who did not taste of death, but will taste it now for three days, and in three days they must rise. Their death will call forth the great rejoicing of Antichrist and his servants. Their resurrection will plunge them into great confusion and terror. Then, the end of the world will come. 

The Apostle Peter said that the first world was made out of water — an image of the primordial chaos, and perished by water — in the Flood. Now the world is reserved unto fire. The earth and the works that are therein shall be burned up (II Peter 3:5-7, 10). All the elements will ignite. This present world will perish in a single instant. In an instant all will be changed. 

Moreover, the Sign of the Son of God, the Sign of the Cross, will appear. The whole world, having willingly submitted to Antichrist, will weep. Everything is finished forever: Antichrist killed, the end of his kingdom of warfare with Christ, the end, and one is held accountable; one must answer to the true God. 

"The end of the world" signifies not the annihilation of the world, but its transformation. Everything will be transformed suddenly, in the twinkling of an eye. The dead will rise in new bodies: their own, but renewed, just as the Savior rose in His own body and traces of wounds from the nails and spear were on it, yet it possessed new faculties, and in this sense it was a new body. It is not clear whether this new body will be the same as Adam was made, or whether it will be an entirely new body. 

Afterward, the Lord will appear in glory on the clouds. Trumpets will sound, loud, with power! They will sound in the soul and conscience! All will become clear to the human conscience. The Prophet Daniel, speaking of the Last Judgement, relates how the Ancient of Days, the Judge sits on His throne, and before Him is a fiery stream (Daniel 7:9-10). Fire is a purifying element; it burns sin. Woe to a man if sin has become a part of his nature: then the fire will burn the man, himself. 

This fire will be kindled within man: seeing the Cross, some will rejoice, but others will fall into confusion, terror and despair. Thus, men will be divided instantly. The very state of a man's soul casts him to one side or the other, to right or to left.

The more consciously and persistently man strives toward God in his life, the greater will be his joy when he hears: "Come unto Me, ye blessed." Conversely: the same words will call the fire of horror and torture to those who did not desire Him, who fled and fought or blasphemed Him during their lifetime! 

The Last Judgment knows of no witnesses or written protocols! Everything is inscribed in the souls of men and these records, these "books," are opened at the Judgment. Everything becomes clear to all and to oneself. 

Moreover, some will go to joy, while others — to horror. 

When "the books are opened," it will become clear that the roots of all vices lie in the human soul. Here is a drunkard or a lecher: when the body has died, some may think that sin is dead too. No! There was an inclination to sin in the soul, and that sin was sweet to the soul, and if the soul has not repented and has not freed itself of the sin, it will come to the Last Judgment with the same desire for sin. It will never satisfy that desire and in that soul there will be the suffering of hatred. It will accuse everyone and everything in its tortured condition; it will hate everyone and everything. "There will be gnashing of teeth" of powerless malice and the unquenchable fire of hatred. 

A "fiery gehenna" — such is the inner fire. "There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth." Such is the state of hell.


Originally published in the Orthodox Word, 1966, Vol. 2, No 5 (11). Nov - Dec. 




Thursday, June 29, 2017

New Blog

Hello readers,

The main purpose of this blog is to provide Orthodox material, most of all in conjunction with our Church's web page. It will continue to do so.

Fr. Zechariah has created his own personal blog. He will offer reflections on a variety of topics. Please consider supporting and following him in his endeavor.

His new blog page is-

https://inklesspen.blog/

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Morality is Higher Than Law


"At the present time it is widely accepted among lawyers that law is higher than morality - law is something which is worked out and developed, whereas morality is something inchoate and amorphous. That isn't the case. The opposite is rather true! Morality is higher than law! While law is our human attempt to embody in rules a part of that moral sphere which is above us. We try to understand this morality, bring it down to earth and present it in a form of laws. Sometimes we are more successful, sometimes less. Sometimes you actually have a caricature of morality, but morality is always higher than law. This view must never be abandoned. We must accept it with heart and soul."

Alexander Solzhenitsyn


Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Techno Buddy Jesus and Orthodism.

It is, at times, costly to be an Orthodox Christian.

Christ the Lord calls His followers to humble repentance. The Faith instructs us to seek Christ Jesus, and Him alone. Don't expect to be a superstar. Don't even seek the gifts that He can give. Love only Him, desire only Him. All things pass, only Love remains. But just around the corner, one can learn to be an “anointed one,” or give improv “words” from God over a cup of coffee. I discern in these coffee grounds …. So convenient, and “I” feel special too.

Orthodoxy is not cool. We are guarded and guided by a very ancient Christian way of life. It calls us to simplicity, constancy, and steadfastness. But a few blocks away one can jump on all the latest bandwagons of religious and philosophical fluidity. Smoke machines and disco lights (are they even still hip?) and rock music (or whatever floats your boat). “God is good” on a repetitive loop multiplied times one hundred. No need to think too deeply because God is not into doctrine and all that stuff. Feel the beat. Easy power and shallow pools, everything can be quite well known and comfortable.

The Church Fathers; saints? Aren’t they just quaint old folk of yesteryear? Charming grandfathers who speak of times past. How cute. I mean, they do add a hue of credibility and stateliness. But we need the vigor of the modern! Psychology will save us! After all the Father's did not live in our times, they don't really understand the problems facing us. Let's sit around and talk about how we feel; then we'll turn and give our neighbor a massage. Hip Jesus can be the group facilitator! He is so relevant and unoffensive. Fall backward into a quilted mass of comforting arms. Do you feel safe now, is this a safe place? Warm and fuzzy. I'm so special. God loves me just the way I am. Do you accept me, am I accepted? Orthodism: just want to be one of the guys; it is neither hot nor cold, and it will never be as sensational as the pulsating mass of mutability that it seeks as its guru. Teach us. We also desire to be hipsters. We are important too … do you approve?

Orthodoxy calls us out of the self-approved masses into the depths of God, where our human intellect fails. My feet cannot touch the bottom. How deep is it? What is down there, in the depths? Where does it end? No one knows. As far as the eye can see, there is no land. What if I drown? I am helpless. Who will know that I have sunk down into the depths? I am in such great need of God. Our humanity recoils in fear. All earthly safety has fled away. Our self is shuttering at the revelation of its own decrepitude. It will die in the depths. Only death bears resurrection.

No! Give me the comfort of the kiddie pool where I can get wet, touch the bottom, and be the master of my own domain. Here, so many choose to dwell.

True Christianity calls us to take up the cross and follow Christ, to lose our life and thereby save it.  The way of the True Christ is the way of the cross. Modernity instructs us to exploit Christ as a means of self-aggrandizement. The gospel of Me says, seek self-fulfillment, seek spiritual power, seek to be recognized as special, seek comfort, seek safety, be nice. Contemporary Jesus has come to save the self. Twisting, flashing, mesmerizing, and fluttering like an enormous multicolored neon sign. So shiny. Did Buddy Jesus just wink at me from his technicolor aura? What is that catchy tune he is humming? Follow me, I'm all-powerful, and you can be too! Repentance, what the heck is that? I'll empower you in twenty seconds flat … Feel the beat. How grand it seems!

How drab the humble cross, only dull brown wood after all. Will I get a splinter? It's not even electrified, and with no wifi!?

We may muse with a character from Fahrenheit 451, “I often wonder if God recognizes His own son the way we've dressed him up, or is it dressed him down? He's a regular peppermint stick now, all sugar-crystal and saccharine when he isn't making veiled references to certain commercial products that every worshiper absolutely needs.” Ah, the magic sugar daddy in the heavens, who's one job it is to cater to my every desire!


As a lamb to the slaughter despised and rejected, so went our Lord and so must we. Leave the glimmer of show-time christs. Come, follow Me, says the Lord, take up your cross, which is foolishness to this world and its christs. It will cost you your self. Be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world.  

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Living the Faith

By St. Philaret of Moscow.

Ah, friends, without faith in the Lord Christ there is no salvation!
We must by all means kindle in ourselves the spirit of faith, that is, stimulate it, feed it with prayer, the Word of God, patience, sincere remembrance of the Savior Who suffered for us. All of this can be done every day.

What to Do in the Morning

When you wake up, first of all let your soul and heart say "Glory to Thee, O Lord, Who has preserved us this night! Glory to Thee, Who has shown us the light! Lord, bless this day for us!" In doing this, think about how God gives you the day which you could not give to yourself, and devote the first hour, or perhaps the first quarter hour of the day given you and offer it as a sacrifice to God, in grateful, supplicatory prayer. The more zealously you do this, the more you will sanctify your day, the more strongly you will protect yourself from the temptations that we meet every day.

The Dwelling and Clothing of the Christian

From the start of the morning and throughout the day, make the thought about Christ the soul of your life, the moving force of your actions. So, for example, if you glance over your dwelling, remember Christ in the manger, in swaddling clothes, lying on straw, all this life not having a place to lay His head, finally imprisoned, nailed to the Cross, and thank God for your house, your shelter, however humble and poor it may be. Do not envy magnificently decorated mansions: the mansion of Christ is a pure heart!

As you dress in your simple clothing, remember Christ stripped naked and then robed in the clothing of mockery. Do not dwell on apparel, do not follow slavishly the whims of fashion, but try to garb yourself in goodness, humility, meekness, long-suffering, gazing mentally on the meek and humble heart of Jesus.

If you are eating a meal, remember the vinegar and gall that Christ tasted, and do not demand plentiful, luxurious food and drink: the heavenly Guest loves to enter not the house of feasting, but always to the one that opens the door of his heart to Him. Place in your heart Christ suffering and dying on the Cross, and in His unseen presence mortify your passions and lusts.

Contact with people

Later, when you deal with people, both relatives and others, before saying a word, think about what will be its effect, and think even more seriously before you do something in their presence, for actions speak louder than words.

Worldly Affairs

If you are undertaking anything, before asking any other adviser, ask the advice of faith. Appeal in the words of the Apostle: Lord, what wilt Thou have me do? (Acts 9:6). Is what I would undertake pleasing to Thee, Lord? If it is pleasing, bless it; if not, do not let me do what is displeasing to Thee. And then listen to what the Lord tells you in your conscience, in your reason, in the counsels of pious and wise people and, having begu n the course that you select, pray in your heart, O Lord, make haste to help me (Ps. 69:1).
Absences

If you are going anywhere, go with God, as our pious forebearer said as a farewell, walk before me as the Lord Himself demanded (Gen. 17:1); always see Him before you, for He is at thy right hand (Ps. 15:8). As much as possible keep in your thoughts and in your heart that God sees you, so that you may be both ashamed and afraid to attempt anything unworthy before the eyes of God.

Word and Feelings

If you enter the company of people, behave with extreme caution. If you hear a word of praise for yourself there, be careful: praises frequently conceal flattery and can arouse in you self-satisfaction and neglect of your further improvement. If you hear an insulting or humiliating word, take care not to become inflamed with anger which worketh not the righteousness of God (James 1:20). Answer the one who insults you either with silence or a meek word of truth. If you hear a word that accuses a neighbor, be careful that you not take part in the sin of someone else's tongue. Do not join in words that are more harmful to the one who judges than to the one being judged. If you hear a word that saddens one with bad news, be careful lest your sorrow become stronger than your common sense; dissolve it with hope in God's mercy and with the warm prayer: O my Rejoicing, deliver me from them which have encircled me (Ps. 31:7). Endure without complaint sorrows and misfortunes. Sorrows are inescapable on the path leading to the Kingdom of God! Many are the sorrows of the righteous! Christ Himself endured them; the Mother of God endured them as well. Without sorrows we will not be saved, but even in the depth of sorrow believe that the Lord loves you truly, and is only testing you. Remember: you sometimes return home from afar by a bad road, in a storm, in frost, or in terrible heat, but you go patiently, willingly; likewise patiently go by the difficult and sorrowful path to the heavenly home, the Kingdom of God.

Caution Regarding Harmful Books

If you see in a letter or a book a word of unbelief, irreverence, or indecency, turn your eyes away from it quickly, do not entice yourself with the thought of reading it out of curiosity or for amusement. Do not touch filth. Do not play with fire. Do not desire to experience the taste of poison.
In general, in your relations with people be peaceable, just, compassionate, do good even to your enemies, imitating Him Who shines His sun on both the evil and the good.
If you will live and act in this manner, then, when you pray, nothing will obstruct your prayer's path to heaven.

Attending Church

When the time comes, and especially the time put aside for God and His temple, a feast day or the hour of Divine Services, hurry to tear yourself away from business and worldly cares and voluntarily and zealously offer yourself to God in His church. When you enter the church bring to mind the promise of the Lord to those that gather in His name: there am I in the midst of them (Matt. 18:20), and stand reverently in church, as before the very face of Christ, and pray to Him that he sanctify you by His holiness, animate you by His prayer, and enlighten you with the word of the Gospel and the Grace of the Mysteries. Take note of this, too: in the church, angels serve with us and guard the holiness dwelling there. Once, in the Lavra of Saint Theodosius near Jerusalem, Abba Leontius, coming one Sunday to church to receive the Holy Mysteries, saw an angel standing on the right side of the Holy Table, and when the elder, being afraid, turned to run to his cell, the voice of the angel called to him: "From the time this Holy Table was consecrated, I have been charged to stay by it." Remember this, beloved, and stand reverently. And, if you feel that only your body is standing in church, while your mind thinks of home, or the market, or a place of merriment, collect yourself. Hurry to bring back your mind that has strayed, join it to God in your heart, force it to strive towards God, Who looks upon you. When you hear the word of God, open up not only your bodily ears, but your spiritual ones as well, open your heart, receive this heavenly Bread and with it nourish not only your memory, but also your life and work.

On Communion

When you are preparing to be a communicant of the Body and Blood of Christ, or are simply present at this Mystery, cleave in mind and heart to the Cross and the Tomb of the Lord, to the Body of Christ, suffering, dying, buried, risen, glorified and believe that your faith's touching Him will be more substantial than the touching of His garment by the woman with an issue of blood, and Christ's power [will] go out (Luke 8:46) to purify and elevate your powers of soul and body.

How to Celebrate Feast days

Having left church and returned home, do not rush to worldly business on days dedicated to God: business that you illicitly conduct in festal times will bring you no benefit. Realize most of all that if you do not come to thank and glorify God in His church, then you can be sure that He will not send down His blessing on your business outside the church (Haggai 1:9). And if sometimes you decide to excuse yourself from attending the church, be in fear lest you suddenly be overtaken by death and lest it be said of you: Remember that thou in thy lifetime received thy good things... but now (in eternity) thou art tormented (Luke 16:25). God preserve you from this fate.

Never forget that your soul is also God's temple, and if at any time an impure thought and evil desire draws near to your soul, and will draw your body as well towards sin, hasten to protect yourself with the words said to the first Christians, and consequently to you: Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? (I Cor. 3:16). Then say to yourself: how can I dare to ruin the temple of God, by sin and inequity! How can I be so bold as to insult and alienate the Holy Spirit!

What to do in the evening

Now the day has ended - you are going off to sleep. Ponder the thought that God gives you rest from labors, and take the first fruits of the time of your rest and dedicate it to God with pure and humble prayer. Its fragrance will draw an angel close to preserve your rest. While preparing for sleep, remember death, of which sleep is an image and threshold, and with a prayer of faith surrender yourself to Him that is the Resurrection and the Life (John 11:25). But when you can conquer sleep, or when it does not conquer you, remember [the Lord's] name in the night (Ps. 118:55). Such should be the constant disposition and activity of the believer that he may gradually draw near to that state of soul in which the holy Apostle Paul says of himself: I live by the faith of the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself for me... Yet not I, but Christ liveth in me (Gal: 2:20)!


Translated by Seraphim F. Englehardt From "Orthodox Life" [in Russian], No. 10, 1952 

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Last Days Great Revival? The Charismatic Experience and Orthodoxy, the perspective of one Orthodox Priest, part 3


This is a continuation of a series, the reader may find links to part 1 & 2 below:
Part 1: http://orthodoxpueblo.blogspot.com/2016/11/the-charismatic-experience-and-orthodox.html
Part 2: http://orthodoxpueblo.blogspot.com/2016/12/the-charismatic-movement-and-orthodox.html


As previously indicated (see part 1), the Pentecostal-Charismatic movement (P/C movement) is heavily premised upon a very particular doctrine: the Church (again using this word loosely) fell into darkness just after the year 300AD. Beginning with the Protestant Reformation in the 1500's the Church, it states, has been in the process of being rebuilt and restored; in the last days, there will be a great revival (move of God, an outpouring of the Holy Spirit with signs and wonders). The expectation is that this last times event may even surpass the events recorded in the book of Acts.

Between roughly 300 and 1500AD, sterile form and ritual became the substitute for the dynamic living experience of the early Church, so the teaching goes. Every group within the P/C movement, regardless, claims a unique reconstitution of the “Early Church.” A profound ignorance of Church history is manifested; moreover, a deep ignorance of the real intent and significance of Liturgical worship, priesthood, sacraments, and so forth is revealed. Purportedly, Liturgical worship is “dead religion;” priests “stand in our way of God,” and on their objections would go. They war against the very nature of Christianity while claiming to do so for the sake of Christianity. All such groups claim to be restoring the power of the Early Church, be they my former Bible school, Brownsville Revival School of Ministry, or The Last Reformation, Morning Star, Bethel, and so forth. All teach that the Church went astray and is/was in need of restoration. They all hold, in basic, to the previously outlined historical timeline. They all teach a “last days great revival," move of power, and a super-abundance of miracles. And they all claim to be the ones chosen to bring such a grand event to fruition. (Signs and wonders may be a broad term, in this article it is used as a synonym for miracles, events of a seemingly supernatural quality worked at the hands of a person.)

One must understand that Protestantism is a movement with change in its DNA. Its whole original claim and premise were to restore authentic Christian practice. It has ever debated what precisely that is down to this day. Nevertheless, a founding idea of Protestantism is “Sola Scriptura:” the teaching that the Bible alone is the only genuine and reliable source for Christian doctrine (teaching). So, holding them to their own standards, the central doctrine, for a doctrine it is, of the P/C movement regarding the corruption of the Church and “last days great restoration revival” should be evident in the Bible. If not, according to Protestantism's own standards, it should be rejected. Of course, the Orthodox Church has never taught Sola Scriptura. Nevertheless, one may rightly expect that such a purportedly paramount happening as the corruption of the church, its downfall and subsequent restoration in a “last days revival” would be clearly revealed, if not plainly indicated, in the Scriptures. One would also expect Early Church Fathers to foresee such a catastrophic happening.

First, we must ask, did Christ Jesus ever indicate that His Church (Ekklesia)1 would be overcome by the world? No. Rather we do have an indication (moreover a promise!) that the Lord will protect and keep His Church. "I will build my Church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it" (Mat. 16:18). We may safely deduce two things: 1) Christ is the source of the Church, 2) hell will not prevail against it. Hell is the very personification of corruption. It is safe to understand this to mean that the Church will never fail in Her essence. Clearly, Church history is full of ignominious and glorious events. She has welcomed the good and the evil in the hopes that all may repent and be saved. Because evil men have been a part, at least nominally, of the Church, does not mean that she is corrupt. This would be akin to insinuating that Jesus failed as a teacher because Judas failed to apply His teaching. The Church (using that word specifically) is always pure and true as is Her Lord.

Did St. Paul ever indicate the coming (from his perspective) fall of the Church? No. St. Paul tells us that Christ is the head and the Church is His body (cf. Eph. 1:21-23). This imagery is potent. Physically we understand that the head and the body are inseparable; a perfect union connects them. Separation of the head from the body is physically unnatural. One does not find a bodiless head, or vice versa, only if they are dead. But Christ is alive, as is His Church. Thus, to assume a failure of the body is to imply a failure of the Head. If the Church, the body, went corrupt, then one could plausibly lay blame on the head, Christ. This is madness, yet this is the madness that is insinuated in such teachings. We are further told that we have received an unshakable kingdom (cf. Heb. 12:28), it is no leap to understand this kingdom to be the Church of Jesus Christ. The Church is also called “the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Tim. 3:15). Clearly, the Church shares in the virtue of Her Lord. More examples could be given, but these suffice to show that the Biblical vision is not that of the P/C movement. Christ is the foundation of the Church, which shares in His life as the body does with the head. She is unmovable, and a sure foundation. In fact, to say that the Church fails is to call the Lord Jesus a liar, for He clearly says that the “gates of hell shall never prevail,” that is, the Church will never fail. The doctrine that the Church went corrupt is clearly against all sound Christian teaching. (People may separate themselves from the Church, but this does no violence to the essential and physical unity of the Church; the Church is always One. We are either united to Her or not. History is full of people disuniting themselves from the Church and uniting themselves. Simply because there are a plethora of groups claiming to be "Church" does not indeed mean that the Church is broken or split. The Church is One as is Her Lord, cf. Eph 4:4-6.)

The claim that the Church went "corrupt" must be used by the P/C movement because otherwise, they could not claim any similarity to, or continuity with, the "Early" Church. Thus a twister game like approach to Church History must be adopted (or it is altogether ignored). The testimony of Church life during the time period that they claim was corrupt and dark is so contrary to their vision, and thus it must be disregarded and degraded. Having no living continuity they must claim an ephemeral "spiritual" unity. Rather than listen and learn from the life of the Church they choose to disregard it so as to justify their own way of life, but it is not the Life of the Church.  

Secondly, is a “last days revival” at least indicated in the Scriptures? Let's see. I will limit myself to the Words of our Lord Jesus regarding the Last days in, Mat. 24, Lk. 21, and Mk. 13. St. Paul's epistle of 2 Thessalonians, a spattering of other Pauline references, and the Book of the Apocalypse (Revelation). Clearly, since this is a short(ish) article, space does not allow an exhaustive study.

In all the accounts of our Lord Jesus' instruction regarding the last days, the picture is not all that bright. Persecution. War. Betrayal. Godlessness, and so forth. Of interest for the topic at hand are the opening words of our Lord in Matthew, “See that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying 'I am the Christ,' and they will lead many astray” (v. 4). “Christ” simply means “anointed one,” thus it is possible to understand that many will come claiming to be anointed ones. The Lord continues, “If anyone says to you, 'Look, here is the Christ!' or 'There he is!' do not believe it. For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect” (v. 23-24). In Christ Jesus' teaching concerning the last days the only signs and wonders spoken of are false ones. No other signs and wonders are mentioned. Christ clearly does not indicate a last days revival as described by the P/C movement. Rather the picture presented is one of an increase of sin and evil together with many false christs (anointed ones) moving with spiritual power; signs so great that even the elect could be seduced, if possible (but by God's grace the Church will stand even this!). The situation seems so dire that Christ Jesus tells His disciples, “Be on guard; I have told you all things beforehand” (Mk. 13:23). What did He tell us? In the Last days false anointed ones will abound and they will use signs and wonders to justify themselves, “See we are from God!” but, "Do not believe it" (Mat. 24:23).

St. Paul prophesies regarding the last days, “Understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having an appearance of godliness, but denying its power” (2 Tim. 2:1-5). Again, not a rosy picture. There will be an appearance of godliness, and this correlates to the many false christs of which the True Christ warned. In 2 Thessalonians St. Paul instructs that in the last days a rebellion will come, a rebellion against God and His Church. Lawlessness will be revealed (cf. 2 Thess. 2: 3-4). Again, the only signs and wonders referenced are false ones, “The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved” (2 Thess. 2:9-10). Is it not significant that when speaking of the last days the only signs and wonders spoken of by both Christ and St. Paul are false ones? Clearly, they are telling us to be vigilant; there is no indication of a last days revival as taught by the P/C movement. The only last days revival is a revival of sin and evil, together with a “spirituality” free from the “constraint” of the Church. And what is the guard against deception? Love of the truth; St. Paul told us that the Church is the pillar and ground of truth, thus we may conclude that a love and holding to the Church as it has manifested for 2,000 years is a love and holding to truth.

In St. John the Theologian's revelation of the Apocalypse we see a general vision of the rise of sin and lawlessness, brutal persecution of the righteous, war, suffering, and so forth. Clearly, this book is cryptic and requires great wisdom. Of interest for this article is not the specific meaning of each character and image, but merely whether or not a great last days revival is evident. We see the two witness, who testify against the Antichrist and his system. They are given the power to work wonders (cf. Rev. 11). Besides this positive reference to signs and wonders, the other reference is to the Antichrist himself and the beast (cf. Rev. 13). They use great signs and wonders to deceive the multitudes. Yet there is no clear and explicit teaching that the Church will fail and be in need of a last days restoration. Indeed the Church is persecuted and attacked throughout Revelation (cf. Rev. 12:17). Signs and wonders are predominately used to lead the multitudes astray. The culmination of all things is the return of our Lord Jesus Christ, which will truly be glorious (cf. Rev. 19).

A Charismatic Meeting
Nowhere are Christians instructed to seek a last days “restoration” of power. Indeed, the Church has always taught that obsession (the P/C movement is obsessed with power) with signs and wonders will only act to predispose people to accept false christs and ultimately the Antichrist. The power of the P/C movement has great emotional charge, I know I have moved in it. “The willingness of our fallen human nature to mistake illusion for truth, emotional comfort for spiritual experience, is much greater than you think,” astutely observes Fr. Seraphim (Rose).2 True Christianity has always had miracles and always will, but they are not an end-all indicator of truth. They may be mimicked, and thus the underlying principles of the one working the miracles must be weighed and tested. Is the source true and sound? Is the fruit true unity in Christ Jesus and His body the Church? Many times power flatters us into thinking that we are spiritual people and that we deserve to have the “Holy Spirit;” that we are “anointed” and even to a degree special. In Orthodoxy, this is called prelest. Let us remember the mandate to test the spirits to see if they are from God (1 Jn. 4:1-3). The chief appeal of the P/C movement is to emotional experience, and all “truths” are subject to this experience. Most of the time the experience is never tested by some greater and abiding Truth; untested experience simply justifies the experience. The assumption is, “I experienced power, thus it must be from God.” The “I” is set as the great discerner of truth, and the safety of the pillar and ground of the Church is cast aside. A great arrogant assumption is made: I am spiritual; therefore I can discern correctly! Moreover, the power in the P/C movement is fairly easy to attain, one need not be bothered by pesky ideas like a life of repentance, humility, and self-denial. No, Christ wants me to be super! I have been there. I have done this. My hope is that people will also, by the mercy of God, come out of this prelest into the eternal freedom and Truth of Holy Orthodoxy. 

To what do the Scriptures call Christians, most of all those living in these times? Our Lord Jesus Christ says, "In your patience possess your souls" (Lk. 21:19). "The one who endures to the end will be saved" (Mat. 24:13). Christ revealed the way, the Apostles preached it, and we must patiently endure in it holding fast; not being led astray by false shows of power. “Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and their faith of Jesus” (Rev. 14:12). "Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering" (Heb. 10:23). "Stand firm and hold the traditions that you were taught by us (the Apostles), either by our spoken word or by our letter" (1 Thess. 2:15). "Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong" (1 Cor. 16:13). "Contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 3). We constantly see in the Scriptures an exhortation to stand in what was given once for all and never do we see a teaching telling us to look for a coming "new" work and revelation. Christ Jesus is the only New and Eternal Revelation of God, the job of a Christian is to hold fast to that revelation. This is the Faith of Jesus. (How can one hold fast to a faith that is in constant change due to ever-evolving experiences and new "words" and teaching, many times contradicting former ones, as in the P/C movement? To what teaching should one hold fast? The conundrum multiplies from here.) The Church has been founded on Christ once for all. The outpouring of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost affirmed the revelation of Jesus Christ to and in His Church. The Orthodox Church has proven through Her faithful and long endurance to be that very Church founded by our Lord. All other “new” revelations are condemned in the Scripture. Jude goes on to tell us, "certain people have crept in unnoticed ... who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ” (Jude 4). This denial is not so much a verbal one (they continue to teach in the name of Jesus), as one wherein they preach their own message in the Name of Jesus. Woe to such ones. In this way, they deny Christ and preach rather their own selves (but it sounds much more authoritative if someone says "Jesus told me!"). St. Paul tells the Galatians, "Even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed (anathema)" (1:8).

It is vital to note that the whole of Christian life and history for 2,000 years never expected a “last days revival.” To expound upon this would be very lengthy. Nevertheless, it is imperative to note that the teaching at hand is novel. The Christian Church, Orthodoxy, has never held it. In fact, all Her teachings regarding the last of the last days are in line with the Scriptures: they will be extremely difficult days, many will lose their faith, evil will abound as will false signs and wonders, but those faithful to the Revelation of Christ in His Church shall be saved.

In light of such testimony, one has but few choices: either accept them as true and proven by the True Church for over 2,000 years or throw them out and listen to what the new “spirit” is saying.

There is something indeed new at work, but it is neither from the wellspring of the Holy Spirit nor the pillar and ground of truth in the Church.

Let it be briefly noted that this is in no way a denial of signs and wonders per se, for truly they have been at work in the Church since the day of Pentecost. It is a refutation of a novel doctrine that asserts the “restoration” of the church which, so it alleges, was corrupted; the primary justification it provides for such a teaching is an emphasis on signs and wonders; power untested and accepted easily with the assumption that Christ is the source. As we have seen such a doctrine is not in Scripture nor the life and teaching of Christ's Church. Christianity has always understood that there exist false signs and wonders, and they are very deceptive; thus miracles are never the paramount ideal.

How much, then, must Orthodox Christians walk in the fear of God, trembling lest they lose His grace, which by no means is given to everyone, but only to those who hold the true Faith, lead a life of Christian struggle, and treasure the grace of God which leads them heavenward. And how much more cautiously must Orthodox Christians walk today above all, when they are surrounded by a counterfeit Christianity that gives its own experiences of 'grace' and the 'Holy Spirit' and can abundantly quote the Scriptures and Holy Fathers to 'prove' it. Surely the last times are near, when there will come spiritual deception so persuasive as to deceive, if it were possible, even the elect (Mat. 24:24).” Fr. Seraphim (Rose).

Please keep in mind that this series is an examination of a system. While I cannot but reject what is a faulty system, I understand that there are persons within it. The persons I leave to God. May He grant them enlightenment, repentance, and salvation. This is an examination of a novel system and teaching that claims to be from God.

1 It is good to note that our English word church does not come etymologically from the Greek word ekklesia, but from the Greek word Kyriacon, “of the Lord” or loosely “the Lord's house.” In old English it was Cirice from the west German Kirka, which is the same in old Saxon, from these words we have our word “church.” The word ekklessia is more properly “the gathering, or the community” the Greek is a compound of ek – out, away from; and a derivative of kaleo – to call. Thus literally it means “to call out from.” I will use the word Church in its current common usage as the translation of ekklesia.

2Fr. Seraphim (Rose). Orthodoxy and the Religion of the Future. St. Herman Press, p. 141.