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Introduction – “Faith Comes First” Section Up to this Point
Let’s once more recap where we are right now:
Beginning with Class 41, we have been talking about the apostasy of the historical Orthodox hierarchies. I called this part of our course “Faith Comes First,” because the pure confession of the Orthodox Faith is the prerequisite for belonging to the Church, and therefore to choose which bishop or hierarchy to which one should submit oneself, one must start with the question, “Who confesses the Orthodox faith?” Being in the outward or legal possession of the title and the temporalities of an ancient institution does not make one a bishop if one is a heretic. We know this from Holy Scripture, from all of Church history, from the witness and writings of the Fathers, from the Church’s canonical tradition, and from common sense.
In Classes 41 through 43, we discussed general principles of ecclesiology and discernment, as well as making a side-trip into the issues of monarchism and nationalism. In Class 44, we outlined the history of the involvement of World Orthodoxy in the ecumenical movement in the 20th century, especially the Ecumenical Patriarchate. In Classes 45 through 48, we discussed the history of the Russian Church, ending with the destruction of the Russian Church Abroad by the Moscow Patriarchate in 2007. In our last session, Class 49, I offered a summary of the Russian situation, and in this session, Class 50, I propose to summarize the situation in the rest of the Orthodox world. Last time, I said that I would use this class, as well, to make some suggestions and provide some guidelines for those who are wondering if they are in the right jurisdiction and are trying to decide where they belong. But that would make this session too long. We shall try to do that in our next talk.
Today, then, we are going to talk about the various official or state church hierarchies – the ones who call themselves “canonical” and offhandedly label the True Orthodox as “uncanonical” – and I propose to point out three salient realities: 1. All of these groups find themselves in various stages of heresy or apostasy. 2. They justify themselves and condemn us by redefining canonicity. 3. Most of their faithful are nominal Orthodox who have no interest in the Faith itself but are at best somewhat loyal to their national identity, of which Orthodoxy is a part. There is also, however, a small pious minority who are kept trapped in “officialness” by the lure of elders, visions, and miracles that supposedly demonstrate that, despite the obvious heresy of their hierarchy, the “official” churches are still the real Church.
I. The Official Hierarchies Are Both Heretical and Apostate
Wait a second: How can you be both heretical and apostate? “Heretical” means that you call yourself a Christian, but that you deny or distort one or more of the Church’s dogmas. “Apostate” means that you have left off being a Christian altogether and have clearly become something else: an atheist, a Freemason, a Jew or Mohammedan or pagan, something obviously not Christian. Our situation today, however, though we have a lot of problems in common with previous generations, has its own peculiar features (every age has its peculiar features), one of which is that the official Church leadership is simultaneously both heretical and apostate:
Heretical: The official Church leadership is heretical, in that they either publicly teach heresy or, even if they do not teach it, they are in communion with heresy – that is, the demonic energies that naturally accompany heresy enter into them when they concelebrate or simply have mysteriological communion with the public heretics. They also acquiesce in the heresy by their silence, either by their actual silence or, worse, by being the phony, controlled opposition who claim to disagree but ultimately always give in: Qui tacet consentire videtur – He that is silent appears to agree. Remember that homologia – confession of the Faith – of its nature must include open, public confession of the Faith, not merely an inward conviction.
Apostate: The official Church leadership is apostate through their open allegiance to organizations established by Antichrist forces to bring about the destruction of the Church. This is actually worse than mere apostasy, because they have not only left the Church, but they are also working to destroy the Church, while retaining the visible leadership in the historical Church institutions.
A. The World Council of Churches and Like Organizations
By now, of course, we’ve mentioned the WCC many times.
– It was set up by the global elite as a key element of One World Religion and One World Government (recall our reference to Malachi Martin’s Keys of This Blood – but that’s just one source; you don’t even need to dig deep – just read their own website and you’ll quickly figure out what they are about). Extremely demonized people set this thing up, keep it going, and fund it precisely to combat God Himself and spread the kingdom of Satan in this world.
– Long ago it went way beyond its supposed mission of uniting Christians and began to promote unity with non-Christians, and, moreover, to sponsor pagan, even openly demonic, worship at its meetings, demonic worship attended by “official” Orthodox bishops, to which they did not object: totem poles, the sacred fire of shamanism, sacred dance, etc.
– Go to the WCC website, click on their membership list at https://www.oikoumene.org/en/member-churches and see for yourself if the jurisdiction you belong to belongs to the WCC or is in communion with bodies that belong to them. Most World Orthodox in America belong to the Greek Archdiocese under the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the OCA, the Antiochian Archdiocese, the Romanian Patriarchate, the Moscow Patriarchate (either straight up MP or ROCOR-MP – a distinction without a difference), or the Serbian Patriarchate. All of these hierarchies are organic members (not merely observers) of the WCC. The Bulgarian Patriarchate and Georgian Patriarchate do not belong to the WCC, but they are in communion with those who do – again, a distinction without a difference.
– The WCC is just the flagship of a vast network of organizations on the global and national level to promote One World Religion and One World Government. Dialogues, conferences, committees – you name it – often including common prayer, are going on all the time. Back in the 1960’s, this kind of thing was still shocking, and only occurred now and then. Now it is constant and ongoing, and no one is shocked anymore. Everyone is inured to it, and if you object, you are called an extremist or fundamentalist or a terrorist of some kind.
If your jurisdiction belongs to the WCC and like organizations, try asking your priest why. Try asking your bishop why. You will likely get one of several responses:
a. “These things are not your concern.” (I.e., “Don’t worry your pretty little head about it”). Such matters are strictly the province of the hierarchy (and maybe the clergy). Always remember: When people in power forbid legitimate discussion, that means they have something to hide and that they don’t have a valid argument. We are rational sheep in the flock of Christ, not cult members or robots.
b. “Vladika (or Despota or Sayedna or His Excellency or whoever) does not like this, but what can one do?” (I.e., Christian confession allows a Get Out of Jail Free Card to those who might suffer or be inconvenienced by confessing. The real moral code of official Orthodoxy is simply pragmatism).
c. “Have you been reading Old Calendarist propaganda? Don’t listen to those uncanonical, wacko, fundamentalist extremists!” (I.e., they are a bunch of smelly, crazy, uncool losers, and therefore we are right).
d. “Don’t worry – it’s bad now, but we’re working on this, and it will get better.” (I.e. though we’ve been saying this for decades, and it keeps getting worse, just hang in there – really, honestly, we are working on it!”)
e. “You are not being spiritual. If you had a purified nous (and all that sort of thing) you would see that there is no problem here.” (Requiring an undefined spiritual state, which one will never attain, as a prerequisite for being in the discussion).
f. “Elder (St., whatever) So and So had a vision and…” “Newly canonized saint So and So said…” (See the section on Elderism below).
g. “The bishop’s heresy or apostasy is a private sin of his; it doesn’t affect the people who commemorate him and commune with him.” (I.e, the entire witness of Scripture and Tradition regarding ecclesiology is false – Orthodoxy is really an Eastern variant of Protestantism).
The list goes on. Basically, they are all variants of “Shut up.” What you will not hear is a clearly articulated apologia based on Scripture and Tradition, because there is none.
The W.C.C. is the main organ through which the “official” bishops serve the cause of Ecumenism with liberal Protestants and non-Christians. The other two fronts in Ecumenism are the bilateral activities with the Vatican and with the Monophysites.
B. Ecumenism with the Vatican
The supposed Lifting of the Anathemas by Patriarch Athenagoras in December of 1965, the Balamand Agreement of 1993, and the ongoing joint prayers with the pope and local Roman Catholic bishops and clergy can only mean one thing: The position of the “canonical Orthodox” that Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism are really the same religion. This is not only taught at the highest levels, it is carried out on the local level, when official Orthodox clergy recognize Roman Catholic sacraments and deny the sacraments of the True Orthodox. In other words, they have one religion in common with the RC’s, while the True Orthodox, who actually believe in Orthodoxy and not papism, have a different religion from official Orthodoxy.
The Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Moscow Patriarchate, the two biggest power brokers in official Orthodoxy, are both extremely active in ecumenism with the popes. (For those who cling to the idea that the MP is not as ecumenist as the EP, here is a link to an article about recent MP/Vatican ecumenism: https://nftu.net/amidst-fight-with-phanar-mp-still-goes-full-blast-with-ecumenism-with-vatican/ ) This has not changed, but rather has been stable, ongoing, and intensifying, as the popes get worse and worse, just as membership in the WCC has not been canceled as liberal Protestantism descends into overt paganism.
It’s essential to realize that the post-Vatican II popes do not believe in Catholicism. They have created a new religion, or, rather, they have put a Catholic veneer on the One World Religion which they have in common with the officially Orthodox ecumenists. The official Orthodox always dialogue and pray with the worst of Catholic and Protestant leaders, the ones who are, like them, working for the global elite that is setting up the One World Religion and Government.
Note that Vatican ecumenism, like WCC ecumenism, long ago went beyond the bounds of the project of Christian unity to the promotion of openly satanic worship. Last year, Pope Francis made a big splash by worshipping Pachamama, a fertility goddess of the Latin American tribal religion. But this is nothing new. Here are photographs of the supposedly conservative Pope Benedict presiding over a voodoo ceremony in a famous and revered Catholic church in Assisi. Notice that Patriarch Bartholomew is right next to him: https://www.traditioninaction.org/RevolutionPhotos/A442rcVoodoo.html And, of course, before him, the supposed conservative John Paul II sponsored pagan worship at Assisi, and he went all over the world incorporating pagan elements into Catholic worship at which he presided. There are no words to describe how evil this is. And the official Orthodox bishops, as a body, not only do not object to it, call it out, and denounce it, but remain in their official policy of dialogue and joint worship with the pope.
St. Cosmas Aitolos once said that there have been three great falls in history – the fall of Adam, the fall of Judas, and the fall of the papacy. The popes have not repented of their fall – they are still Judases. And when a supposedly Orthodox bishop kisses his hand and hails him as a brother bishop, he becomes a Judas too.
C. Ecumenism with the Monophysites
Despite all their heresy and apostasy, the official Orthodox leadership have still not brought about complete unity – full formal communion and organizational identity – with the Roman Catholics and Protestants. The outward differences in style make complete unity sociologically difficult – there’s too much of a culture gap. But there is some low-hanging fruit that all the ecumenist official leadership have been running after, and that is full communion with the Monophysites. They look and smell and feel more like us, and so it’s an easier sell. The Chambesy agreement of 1990 says that the Chalcedonians and anti-Chalcedonians both really believe the same things about Our Lord’s Person and Natures, and therefore you don’t have to accept the Fourth Ecumenical Council in order to be Orthodox. None of the official hierarchies have rejected this, and, moreover, on the basis of this understanding, they are either in full communion with the Monophysites, as is the Antiochian Patriarchate, or simply give communion to Monophysite laity on a regular basis and make frequent statements that “we are really the same.” Just last year, Patriarch Irenej of Serbia was in Syria and stated that the Monophysites and the Orthodox are the same Church. This is just one example. It’s so common now, that sacramental unity is a fait accompli, regardless of where the individual national churches stand officially on paper.
Really, nothing could be more blatant or easier to understand: If you are in official Orthodoxy, the position of your hierarchy is that it is no longer (or never was?) necessary to accept all Seven Ecumenical Councils to be in the Church. Is this what you believe?
II. The Re-Definition of Canonicity
Pious clergy and laity in World Orthodoxy may know about all of the above, and they worry about it, but they are told that one must stay in World Orthodoxy, because World Orthodoxy is “canonical” and the various True Orthodox or Old Calendarist or Catacomb hierarchies are “uncanonical.” But their definition of “canonical” is that they are the big guys who have the titles and the property, not that they are the ones who observe the canons. They are recognized by the world as being the official organization. That’s about it. If you examine the evidence, you will see that the canons they harp on are the ones about being submitted to this or that institutional authority (canons they are always fighting about and breaking anyway), and the canons they ignore are the one about keeping the Faith. The canons the Old Calendarists are breaking all the time are the ones about organization, but the ones they keep are the ones about not betraying the Faith. Ask yourself which path is the lesser of two evils. Which party is more canonical?
The small minority of pious people in World Orthodoxy have become enamored of recent elders and supposed saints like the late Fr. Paisios of Mount Athos, or the recently reposed Fr. Ephraim of Arizona. The former is the one who invented and popularized the idea that the bishop’s heresy is purely a personal sin and has no effect on the clergy or the faithful. The latter is widely known for constantly having visions on the basis of which he made all the major decisions for his followers. Now that he’s dead, apparently the followers are having visions of him, which tell them to stay in the State Church of Greece or the Ecumenical Patriarchate in order to be saved. These are not the only ones: There is Porphyrios, too, for example, and the Russian Fr. Sophrony Zakharov who died in England. They are all “poster boys” for World Orthodox “conservatism.”
The basic teaching of this New Elderism is this: Even if the bishop is a heretic, if you have a holy elder, his epitrachelion covers you, and the bishop’s heresy does not affect you. I challenge any of these people to find this teaching in the history of the Church.
A corollary of this teaching is this: To remain in the Church, you must commemorate a bishop whom you know is a heretic. I also challenge anyone to find support for this in the history of the Church.
Another reality is this: We True Orthodox also have holy elders. They also have worked miracles and demonstrated high levels of spiritual life. In this regard, I would like for everyone to listen to this interview with our Metropolitan Demetrius (GOC-K, in America), regarding the Elder Joseph the Hesychast of Mt. Athos and Elder Ephraim of Arizona, not only because it raises questions about Fr. Ephraim’s statements and the position of the New Calendar elders in general, but also because His Eminence talks about holy people in the Old Calendar Church that perhaps many of our listeners have never heard of. Here is the link to this important interview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5rDMZyVC2R0
So they have “holy elders.” We have “holy elders.” But their elders commmorated heretics, and our elders commemorated Orthodox bishops. That is the difference.
Ultimately, what should a World Orthodox lower clergyman or layman do? In 2010 a friend of mine, who at the time was a monk of Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville, was wrestling with this question. He wrote a lengthy and detailed essay, which I have published at my blog, here: http://orthodoxtruth.org/uncategorized/monk-theophans-essay-on-ecumenism/ I have published it not necessarily because I agree with the nuances of his opinions on the grace/no grace question, or his evaluation of the various Old Calendar groups, which is a topic for another day. I have published it because 1. It is a great resource to find information on the ecumenist activities of the various “World” jurisdictions (note especially the long, well-documented section on the Monophysites), and 2. it is a model of how a sincere soul still within World Orthodoxy struggles with the questions at hand: “Go or stay? If Go, Where?”
More on those questions in our next class! For now, I would like to conclude with Fr. Theophan’s conclusion, which, you need to recall, he wrote in 2010 when he was in ROCOR-MP, part of World Orthodoxy:
“There can be no doubt that sooner or later, the true Traditionalists in World Orthodoxy will be forced to part with their ecumenical and sergianist hierarchs and in this way eventually end up as a small and persecuted group – exactly as the many True Orthodox Christians are now. That is why it is so important to acknowledge the path of the spiritually sober Old Calendar Churches. Because in categorically rejecting their path we have already now made our choice of accepting the Antichrist. The very moment we take part in or even just silently accept any of the falsehood in World Orthodoxy, we immediately lose all justification for being there. If we therefore continue to show our acceptance of the apostatizing World Orthodoxy, our voluntary union with them will unquestionably turn out to be to our very own condemnation. ”
May the All-Merciful Lord enlighten all of us and bring us all together to His heavenly kingdom!