The following was originally posted at the Euphrosynos Cafe, and is re-posted here for the benefit of othersThe Closet Ecumenist
God demands the following three virtues of every baptized Christian: from the soul - true faith, from the body - chastity, from the tongue - truth. (St Gregory the Theologian)
Any institution that carries within its legally defined name the word "Orthodox" does not in any shape manner or form indicate that that Church is an organic member of the living Orthodox Church. The efficacy of God’s grace within the institution defines the active participation of any local church within the Orthodox Church. At the same time we know that the truth is a vehicle that enables us to identify the boundaries of the Church here on earth. St. John the theologian has given us guidance with respect to this when he writes:
1 John 2:27 But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.
1 John 2:21 I have not written unto you because ye know not the truth, but because ye know it, and that no lie is of the truth.
2 John 1:2 For the truth's sake, which dwelleth in us, and shall be with us for ever.
The truth is something tangible, something that we can identify, a marker, a banner through which we can identify the Church of God, as God has promised us through the written word of his Son,
Matthew 28:20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, [even] unto the end of the world. Amen.
1 John 5:6 This is he that came by water and blood, [even] Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth.
1 John 4:6 We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.
John 14:17 [Even] the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.
The question arises, how do we identify truth today? Even when an individual, either born into the Orthodox Church, or one who converts to the Orthodox Church in their adult years, finds through study and reflection, the Orthodox Church, they are confronted with a myriad of seemingly squabbling jurisdictions. Such "seeming" disarray should be a source of great comfort to any Orthodox Christian, because it indicates that there are still Orthodox Christians who care about their faith, and are struggling to know the truth. At the same time they make mistakes, some great, some small, but the struggle indicates that they are searching for what is true and God-pleasing. It has always been this way in the Orthodox Church.
In a similar but opposite way there are institutional Goliaths that bear the name Orthodox, and have historical, cultural, and "ties of tradition", to the Living Orthodox Church, but show little or no interest in the truth. They show an intense concern for the preservation of their respective cultural milieus. They break the commandments handed down to them by their fathers. Commandments that compel them to preserve Orthodoxy, and keep it inviolate from all "lies" (or heresies). The reason for the need to preserve the Church from all heresies is a consequence of spiritual law, the law that proceeds from the essence of God. Spiritual law tells us that "God hateth a lie", and cannot dwell in the bosom of a liar, whether an individual or an institution. St John speaks to this when he describes the New Jerusalem, or the Orthodox Church.
Revelation 21:27 And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither [whatsoever] worketh abomination, or [maketh] a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life.
Revelation 22:15 For without [are] dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.
These Orthodox institutions see and understand, like the Popes of Rome in the age preceding the renaissance, that there are political forces at work in the world which seek to infringe upon and take control of their respective "kingdoms" Rather than put their trust in the Lord and submit to the action of God’s grace, they actively participate in various political institutions that enable them to negotiate their own survival and even improve their standard of living and those of their adherents. This is in fact the essence of Sergianism. The desire to preserve a worldly church structure forces them to compromise their faith by active and even violently forced participation in ecumenical activities. The ecumenical movement is not so much concerned with the identification of dogmatic truth, but in practical terms is a vehicle created for and used by modernist secular humanist freethinkers in their quest for access to all avenues through which they can practice "activist social engineering".
These Orthodox institutions show by their active participation in the ecumenical movement, and other political institutions, that their main interests lie in self preservation in a most worldly sense, and in making a better life for themselves and their adherents here in this veil of tears, not in the pursuit of the heavenly kingdom. They openly and violently persecute any who disagree with them. They especially hate those who, out of a lack of political sophistication, show great rudeness and coarseness in their open condemnations of the forced participation in ecumenical activities that these Orthodox institutions impose upon their faithful.
It is well known by all that are familiar with it, that ecumenism is indeed a heresy, not only in the scholastic sense. That is, that only now is the true church arising from the ashes of the amalgam of participating churches, and by implication, that the Orthodox Church is not the vestibule of truth and grace. But rather in a more shocking spiritual sense, that truth is not really important, dogma only gets in the way of ecumenical Christian "love". What is far more important than dogmatic expressions of truth is building charitable working relationships with those around us, and the creation of an environment that is conducive to engendering a better life and standard of living for all our Christian and non-Chriatian "brothers and sisters", i.e. the brotherhood of mankind. More succinctly, the participants in the ecumenical movement have succumbed to the three temptations of Christ made by Lucifer, and as such have abandoned completely any allegiance they may have had to God.:
The first temptation
Matthew 4:3-4 And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.
Christ told us that the rock upon which the church was built is the confession of Christ’s divinity:
Matthew 16:15-18 He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock (confession in the divinity of Christ) I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
Consider this confession the cornerstone of the dogmatic temple of God, all the other dogmatic expressions of faith that proceedeth from the word of God, are the stones that the Lord has provided the faithful over the centuries to build the unshakable temple of Orthodoxy, which the gates of hell shall not prevail against.
In the first temptation we see the devil in his madness tempting the Lord to turn the stones into bread. Satan imagined that this feat, which the Lord himself could easily have done especially given that his human nature hungered after forty days of fasting in the wilderness, would indicate that Christ was human and manipulateable by the desire (or instinct as it is called in psychological writings) for self-preservation. Christ refused to do so however, thereby showing that his human nature willingly submitted to the will of the divine nature that dwelt within him. That the fallen human instinct for self-preservation was not his master, rather the Word of God, or the truth, the true bread that giveth life to those who desire it, was his source of sustenance. From her humble beginnings the Bride of Christ, in submission to the will of the Father that dwells within her, has also refused to compromise the faith that she was bestowed with and like a precious dowry, protects. She has never, and never will hand over the stones of her dogmatic expressions of truth to partake of a worldly feast, a better standard of living. We see now however that there are those who claim to be Orthodox Christians, who, as a result of the urgings of the instinct for self-preservation, participate in the Ecumenical movement. They have accepted the offer to sacrifice the stones of dogmatic truth upon which Orthodoxy is built, and have them turned into bread to feed the hungry masses. They seek to tear down the edifice of Orthodoxy and hand the stones to the devil, asking for bread in return.
The second temptation
Matthew 4:5-7 Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple, And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in [their] hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.
The second temptation of Christ is one in which Satan was eager to see if Christ was given to the passions of vainglory and spiritual pride. Knowing the fallen nature of man, Satan has used these passions throughout the ages to control and manipulate adherents of all false religions. These, amongst others, are the very passions that Christ came to free mankind from, the very passions that prevent fallen mankind from acquiring the spirit of truth. Satan wished to see if the Lord would fall into the temptation of displaying, for the sake of display, his closeness to God. Such a display would indicate a vulnerability to vainglory, a vulnerability that Satan could use to gain control of this man Christ in the years to come. Christ’s, simple yet telling rebuke immediately dispelled this wicked hope, and showed us how we should deal with any temptation that requires us to demonstrate to others, for the sake of obtaining praise, our union and closeness with God. That is, we should not tempt the Lord our God with such open displays.
How does this temptation apply to Ecumenists such as Metropolitan Athanegorus, the author of the Thyateria Confession, and later Patriarch Athanegorus, with the lifting of the Anathemas against Rome, and many others who have composed compromising expressions of ecumenical well-wishing? Each participant in the ecumenical movement entered with some notion of what is right and wrong, from the perspective of their particular confession of faith. The Orthodox participants entered with the knowledge that the Orthodox Church is the one true Church. That their participation was predicated on the idea of spreading the light of Orthodoxy to the other participants.
A requirement for entering into the process of dialogue with heterodox participants in the ecumenical movement is the obligation to enter into prayer with all representatives. In so doing, Orthodox representatives willingly violate the canons of the Church. These canons are expressly conceived by the Holy Spirit through the inspired Ecumenical councils to protect the Orthodox Church from such movements. They have also been required to put their signatures upon documents that contain expressions of belief that are directly opposed to a myriad of church canons. Such documents pertain to the specific rights and acceptance into church life without discrimination, of homosexuals, female priests, and more recently, those who do not believe in the divinity of Christ, such as Moslems, Jews, and extreme Protestant sects. Even the practice of natural religion espoused by indigenous aboriginal groups is to be recognized by participants in the WCC as a God-pleasing expression of faith.
As a consequence of this, Orthodox participants over the years have desecrated their alters by inviting religious leaders of all faiths as observers, or even, in extreme cases, active participants in prayer. They have secretly, and even openly in some cases, communed the non-orthodox, and in general violated not only the letter of the law with respect to a myriad of the Orthodox Church’s canons but also the spirit of the law for which they were conceived. They do this saying to themselves that the Lord is merciful and will forgive them, because their intentions are good. However, the real reason for these acts is to demonstrate that they, as representatives of the Orthodox Church, are tolerant and inclusive, that they are imbued with the love of God. They agree to all that is asked of them by the ecumenical organizations that they are members of because they do not want to lose the respect and admiration of the heterodox who attend from other denominations. They are in reality succumbing to the second temptation of Christ. All Orthodox Bishops have a responsibility before God to preserve order within the Church, and protect the Church from all lies (heresies) and destructive conduct. The canons are composed for this very reason. By ignoring the canons of the Church and even actively seeking to destroy them, for the sake of demonstrating their love and closeness to God, they have thrust themselves down from the pinnacle of the temple, tempting God in the hope he will forgive them. However the fruits of their participation are evident, schism after schism has been made in the Church, rending the seamless coat of love that binds the Church together, and for this they will receive their due reward.
Matthew 16:27 For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.
Hebrews 2:2,3 For if the word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward; How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard [him];
The Orthodox representatives in the Ecumenical movement, having been invited by the spirit that inspires that movement, to demonstrate their "love and tolerance" by willingly setting aside their obligations to the Lord and His Church, and in so doing, put a false trust in the mercy of God, have fallen into the sin of tempting God. It brings great spiritual sadness, and tears to understand that they are, as such, guilty of succumbing to the second temptation of Christ for the sake of temporal praise and the adoration of fallen man. St. John the theologian warns us:
1 John 2:4 He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.
St. Paul also was confronted with evidence of a similar madness when he addressed the Christians living in Rome:
Romans 6:1,2 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?
The third temptation
Mathew 4: 8-10 Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.
The third temptation, in a spiritual sense, is the gravest of all temptations, for it calls those who succumb to it to worship Satan, and renounce God for the sake of a better existence here in this temporal world. By the exceeding high mountain we are to understand the knowledge of God, a contemplative height from which all creation can be known. By world we are to understand the world of the passions, for it is through the passions that Satan maintains his hold over fallen creation. By worship we are to understand an adoration of all that Satan, who is the master of this world, represents. That is, the love of this world and all that is in it. Satan offered all of this, which existed in his domain, to this man Christ, a man with whom Satan was now greatly intrigued, if Christ would simply express a willingness to adore what is essentially the gratification of the passions of this temporal world. We observe our Lord however, again in simplicity, rebuking Satan. In Christ’s answer we see by implication that we should not admire and seek after the things that are of this world, and all that is in it. Rather we should seek the adoration of God, which is rightly achievable from the blessed state of passionlessness, or separation from the passions of this world, the state in which we can truly worship God, and love him with all our heart, mind and soul.
When we see the World Council of Churches (WCC) and other secular world political organizations offering to the poor and needy of this world, especially in Orthodox countries, material help and the promise of a better life, this offer is always made through the same political channels that require those who participate to compromise their faith, as explained above. The enemies of Christ, the fallen angels, use the passions with which fallen mankind has been afflicted to manipulate and direct mankind towards total subservience to Satan. This is now being accomplished at an exponentially increasing rate. The passions that Satan uses can be simplified to several "mother" passions, as the Holy Fathers have described them, they are: Pride of life and her daughter vainglory, gluttony and her daughter laziness (or Sloth), depression (also called melancholy), and avarice or the love of money and power. As a result of the gnawing of these passions the masses cry out in ever expanding litanies, their desire to be fed, to have simple luxuries, to not have to work so hard, to have careers, to live in bigger and better housing etc. While it is the obligation of all Orthodox Christians to recognize the needy and to satisfy their basic needs:
1 John 3:17 But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels [of compassion] from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?
This act of Christian love should never be done at the expense of the purity of Orthodoxy and the correct confession of the Orthodox faith. By active participation in the Ecumenical movement for the sake of satisfying the desire for a better life here on earth, while willingly acting against the canons of the church, those Orthodox participants who participate as such, have succumbed to the third temptation of Christ.
Any Orthodox Christian who seeks the truth, and who understands that God cannot dwell where there is untruth, should recognize that any Church body that participates in the Ecumenical movement has compromised their faith, and the existence of God’s grace in that body is in doubt. We can never say that God has totally withdrawn from those churches, but only that the faithful are tempting God every time they commune from a bishop or priest who knowingly participates in such madness. It is for this reason that many of the faithful have withdrawn from Churches that have representation in the WCC or other Ecumenical institutions, and sought refuge in the "Old Calendarist" Churches. The issue of the calendar has been covered in completeness in other publications, and for the sake of brevity will not be addressed in this small letter. Suffice it to say that the usage of the "Old Calendar" is a marker that identifies a Church Body as harboring an intention to remain faithful to Orthodoxy. It is an expression of the desire of the individual, or the institution, to remain faithful to the Orthodox faith. A desire that our creator takes note of and acts upon for the purpose of leading those who desire it, to salvation.
The question about whether there is grace in jurisdictions that participate in the Ecumenical movement, or whether the new-calendar Church faithful can be saved while remaining in new calendar churches, is one that cannot be pushed aside, and tackled at a later date. The Fathers of the Church have made it clear for all Orthodox Christians who desire to remain faithful to Orthodoxy, how they should conduct themselves in times of peril, such as the times we find ourselves in now. An edifying way to demonstrate this God pleasing behavior is to look at how the faithful behaved during the Arian controversy.
Arius was the first prototype of the Anti-Christ. He denied that Christ was co-eternal with the father, that He was conceived at a point in time, and that the Holy Spirit came and abode in Him only at His baptism. Arius was a man of outstanding political and social skills, he was also a very strict ascetic, and lived a noteworthy ascetic life. His abilities to persuade those around him led to the adoption of the Arian heresy by almost the entire Orthodox world, including some significant influence in the sees in Europe, and northern Africa. The Byzantine Emperor leaned a sympathetic ear to him, and granted Arius many indulgences in the royal court. The spread of the Arian heresy occurred because most of the faithful had not had the opportunity to hear the arguments of those who opposed his teachings, and were mislead by Arius’s eloquent speech. The most noteworthy opponent of Arius was St. Athanasius of Alexandria. At the height of the Arian heresy only the faithful in Alexandria, and several other small communities in Asia Minor proclaimed the Orthodox faith correctly. It took the acts of the first ecumenical council to defeat and expel the false teachings of Arius and explicate the correct teaching of Christ’s divinity, as expressed by St. Athanasius. The question arises in the minds of many who read this history: "Was there any grace in the sacraments of those who were mislead by Arius, before the decrees of the 1st council".
At the time of the heresy St. Athanasius withdrew from commemoration of any bishop who espoused the Arian heresy. There was a period in Alexandria where there were more than one bishop in the city, and the faithful were in a state of confusion as to what Church they should attend, in much the same way the faithful are confused today. St. Athanasius was called a schismatic, a deceiver, and a false prophet by his Arian adversaries. However, St. Athanasius was not deterred by the multitude of scandals and calumnies directed against him. His understanding of the need to preserve the Orthodox faith pure and undefiled led him to the decision to not commune anyone that had even prayed in a church where the priest commemorated an Arian Bishop, without a full confession and renunciation of the heresy by the aspiring communicant. In this case we see that St. Athanasius withdrew from the "official" church until such time as the correct teaching could be espoused by the entire Church. He did not say anything about the efficacy of the sacraments of those who participated in ignorance, only that the grace of the sacraments was denied to those who understood clearly the teachings of Arius.
In exactly the same way we see "squabbling" Old Calendar jurisdictions cutting themselves off from those local churches that espouse an active participation in the Ecumenical movement. These Old Calendar jurisdictions bicker amongst themselves, and, as stated previously, bring much comfort to those who love the Church. For the fallen man sees squabbling and disarray, and like Pontius Pilate states "What is truth?" the enlightened man sees the action of the Holy Spirit honing and purifying a correct understanding of the heresy of Ecumenism, and the development of an Orthodox and God-pleasing doctrine that refutes this heresy and leads the faithful upon the path of a God pleasing and edifying life. May the Lord continue His work in His vine, cutting and pruning, grafting where needed, and saving us sinful wretches from the corruption of our passions. Glory be to God for all things! Many other examples from the history of the Orthodox Church can be given that demonstrate similar behavior by conscientious Orthodox Christians.
It is clear, even to the casual observer that, like those in the times of the Arian heresy and indeed like those who have worked out their salvation in many troubled times in the Church’s history, there are those faithful who cannot remain in a given local Church. This is due to acquired knowledge of a particular heresy and the action of their conscience. Their conscience impels them to flee from those local churches that are fathered by bishops and priests whom they see leading their flocks astray, and seek a safe haven. Such action is not only NOT reprehensible, it is salutary, and indicative of a correct disposition within their souls.
Some critics of the Old Calendarist Churches state that they are making the same mistake that the Old Believers made in Russia after the reforms of Patriarch Nikon. That is, they are creating a schism in the Church based on the refusal to accept a change that is external in essence and not a change in the doctrinal or dogmatic position of the Church. This understanding is not based on the facts of the two situations but rather on a deliberately promulgated misconception of the reasons for the withdrawal from the State Churches by the Old Calendarist bishops. The bishops who left the New Calendar Church in Greece did so not only because of the Calendar change, but because the Patriarch and his closest bishops were actively pursuing interdenominational communion with the heterodox. The history of the separation of the Old and New Calendar Church’s in Greece has been clearly documented in the book "The Struggle Against Ecumenism" printed by the Holy Transfiguration Monastery in Boston Ma. To summarize, the separation from the State Church in Greece was based on dogmatic differences between the two parties, not simply the change in the calendar. The dogmatic gulf between the New and Old Calendar Church’s has only widened since the original separation.
Where did ecumenism come from?
The most simple answer to this question is that Ecumenism is a logical extension of the free-thinking movement that was espoused by the founding fathers of Democracy in the New-World.. These free thinkers, such as Thomas Jefferson, believed that God, also called The Great Architect, was not knowable by the mind of man, but that we can please God by practicing those virtues that the conscience of a society deems appropriate and "decent". Foremost amongst those virtues was the idea of "good citizenry" and the nurturing of friendly relationships with those whom one comes in contact with within the society. The virtue of helping ones neighbor and supporting the weak and beggarly elements of society through charity and education was also considered paramount, as was the idea of the pursuit of happiness, and equality. We see these virtues espoused everywhere today, although they are rarely practiced as intended. Free-thinking individuals, today known as secular-humanists, founded the Ecumenical movement as a means by which, under the guise of finding a dogmatic solution to the problems of separation between the churches, they could promulgate their secular humanist freethinking agenda from within the structures of those churches that participate, a sort of "back-door" method of getting churches to participate in an organized manner in various humanistic social engineering efforts.
It is very easy to be beguiled by such a way of thinking as it appeals to our very nature, after all man is created in God’s image, and every individual has the capacity to love. It is however the misdirection of that capacity to love that leads individuals to mistake emotion, and "warm fuzzy" feelings for God-pleasing and Orthodox Christian love. And thereby tempt God by participating in activities in which their conscience forbids them to participate. Indeed, upon closer inspection, it becomes clear that there is no room for dissension amongst those that participate in the WCC. Any dissention is characterized as a result of a lack of Christian love on behalf of the dissenting voice. It is this kind of spiritual peer-pressure that has forced Orthodox participants, as described above, to enter into prayer with Moslems, Jews, Buddhists, and even witches and warlocks. They thus pray as equals with those souls for whom Christ became incarnate and died. The very souls of the misled are encouraged by such actions to remain in their state of apostasy.
The Closet Ecumenist
There are clergy who, in the garb of "traditionalist" Old Calendar jurisdictions are in fact Ecumenists. These wolves in sheep’s clothing all share the same attributes as their openly Ecumenical counterparts in the Autonomous Local Orthodox Churches, with the exception that they hide their ecumenical leanings. Upon close inspection they can readily be identified, as they talk the same talk, and walk the same walk as their ecumenical counterparts in the local churches. These attributes all revolve around the idea of practicing economy for the sake of Christian Love.
Openly Orthodox Ecumenist priests can often be heard preaching about Christian love in their sermons, they reprimand any of their parishioners who question them about their ecumenical activities. They reprimand them as lacking love and of being ignorant of the mission of the Church. Brothers and sisters in Christ, Christian love sits at the pinnacle of the temple of Christian virtues, in reality it is understood by few, and practiced by the very elect. It is a gift of God, granted to the few that have acquired a spirit of God-pleasing humility, and the experience in spiritual life to not consider themselves as anything special as a result of the love that God grants them. Most Orthodox Christian who are honest with themselves will confess that they do not have Christian love, that they are but a worm and not even a man. Even St. David the psalmist understood this:
Psalm 22:6 But as for me I am a worm, and not a man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people.
An even clearer demonstration of this reality is given by St. Simean The New Theologian:
Are there not Christians everywhere? But if you find it expedient, investigate and examine carefully whether they fulfil Christ’s commandments; and indeed among myriad’s you will with difficulty find one, who is Christian in both word and deed. Did not our Lord Jesus Christ say; ‘He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also, and greater works than these shall he do (John 14. 12)’ But which one of us will dare to say: ‘I do the works of Christ and truly believe in Christ’? . (St. Simeon the New Theologian "On Faith" )
The greatest of Christian works is the work of love. Only a fool is willing to point out to others that they possess this gift. Such foolishness, like that of the Pharisee in the parable of the Publican and the Pharisee, is the result of spiritual pride. As St. Cyril of Alexandria points out:
Many at once are the faults of the Pharisee. For first of all he is boastful, and without sense; for he praises himself, although the sacred Scripture cries aloud: 'Let a neighbor praise thee, and not thy own mouth; a stranger and not thy own lips - Prov. 27:2' (St. Cyril of Alexandria, Commentary on the Gospel of Luke)
When one reads the writings of the Fathers, one cannot help but notice how carefully they use this word. How much thought and effort is made to ensure that it is used in a correct sense. This is because they understand that love is in fact a free gift given them by God, and that it can be taken away from them for the slightest spiritual infraction. They understand from experience that God is love, and that the closer they draw to God through spiritual struggle, the stronger grows their desire to know and please God. The more they participate in His love and knowledge, the clearer expressions of faith become. This love expressly forbids those who participate in it, to ignore the urgings of their conscience. Rather, our heavenly Father, through the word of God and the impulses of conscience that result from the urgings of the Holy Spirit, uses His love to guide the Saints throughout the ages towards that God-pleasing expression of faith that is the essence of Orthodoxy. Such are the urgings of the Spirit of love, which is also called the Spirit of truth. This Spirit would never allow those who participate in its beauty to ignore the urgings of their conscience and compromise their faith. Again St. John guides us
1 John 2:5 But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him.
John 14:21 He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.
John 16:13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, [that] shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.
1 Peter 1:8 (Christ) Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see [him] not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:
Thus, true Christian love is expressed in the humble heart of the Orthodox Christian fortunate enough to be granted this gift, as also a manifestation of the Spirit of truth. The Spirit of truth cannot reside where there is untruth. The bearer of the Spirit of God’s love is also the bearer of His truth, and as such, by simple definition, cannot harbor in their soul any teaching, or practice in their life any activity, that compromises their faith. This is spiritual law, the law that proceeds from the essence of God and as such is immutable and unchangeable. This is the reason for the great conundrum that faces the Orthodox Ecumenist. This conundrum can be summed up as follows. "How can the great Orthodox Saints, those who manifested such great love in their lives, be such narrow minded individuals when it comes to their staunch and unwavering explication of Orthodoxy. I find that my ecumenical love does not compel me to be so narrow minded". The reason that the love of the ecumenist does not compel them to be so narrow minded is that it is not the love of God, but a purely human and fallen love, one that is common to all men, of all religious confessions, one that is easily misled by emotion.
Because the Ecumenist does not express a proper Orthodox faith, they cannot harbor within themselves the love of God. The love of the ecumenist is a fallen human love. As shown in the discussion of the three temptations above, it is more a love of the praise of man, or even a love of this world. The love the Ecumenist harbors in his soul is very similar to the love that the Freethinkers and framers of New-world democracy talk about in their writings describing the ideal society. Such a love compels them to participate in the creation of a greater society. They seek to build relationships based on mutual respect with adherents of all religious faiths. They find that the practice of "networking" to enhance their visibility amongst their peers comes to them very easily, and they find it pleasing to participate in conferences and ecumenical gatherings. They enjoy socializing, and are very good at building personal relationships with their conference acquaintances. All these attributes are precisely those that are the earmark of the successful businessman and political leader throughout all ages. They are simply the attributes of a man-pleaser, one who seeks the praise of all men, one who is constantly searching for ways to avoid offending others for fear of losing their praise and mutual respect.
Luke 6:26 Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets.
Matthew 16:26 For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?
St. Paul warns us about this type of conformity to the ways of the world:
Romans 12:2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what [is] that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
Conformity to the political process that embodies within it the ways of the temporal world darkens the mind of Orthodox Christians and blinds them from comprehending the will of God. While such lofty goals as the comprehension of God’s will are difficult for us fallen Orthodox Christians to fathom, it is our responsibility to do what we can to clear our spiritual vision, and in good conscience pray to God that he make his will known unto us. One of the things we can do to enable this, is to understand that we should never place the idolatrous god of man-pleasing ahead of our confession of faith.
In a similar but more subversive way the closet ecumenist imagines that they have love. Like those who participate openly in Ecumenism and tempt God by breaking the Holy Canons of the Church, the closet ecumenists imagine that, out of a nebulous love they imagine they are granted worthy to posses in their souls, they are compelled to make special requests to their bishops on behalf of their parishioners. Such requests as those asking for Saturday weddings, or a blessing to get married in non-orthodox Churches, and then remarry in a small Orthodox service after the fact, are typical. They constantly tempt their bishops with requests that their conscience tells them are an abuse of economia. They give blessings to break the fasts, they commune couples who are not married in the Church, they turn a blind eye to homosexuals and commune them. They imagine that, because they have the bishops blessing, they are not offending God. At the same time they trample on the canons, they take pleasure in the successful promulgation of their liberalizing, and modernizing agenda. Brethren, it is very foolish to imagine that simply obtaining a bishops blessing will negate the prodding of your conscience. Such God-pleasing proddings are the result of the quit whisper of the Holy Spirit in your soul, and to ignore it will only chase the Spirit of truth away from you.
Tempting the Lord in such a way, the closet Ecumenist, in a manner similar to the overt ecumenist described above, imagines that he is practicing mercy, and that God’s grace will forgive all. This is exactly the sin of the Ecumenist who is guilty of succumbing to the second temptation of Christ, for the real reason they do these things is to achieve popularity in their parish. They wish for their parishioners to see them as "liberal" and "understanding". They see strength in numbers, and pursue programs and "fundraisers" aimed at improving the membership and financial standing of the parish. They wish to keep parish families who request mixed marriages together in the parish, despite the problems associated with such marriages. Experience shows that mixed marriages in today’s secular society more often that not result in the inevitable falling away of such families from active participation in the liturgical life of the parish. The priest who allows this does not want to put the effort into showing the non-Orthodox celebrant the beauty of the Orthodox family, because they either fear it will cause the larger family to dislike them, or worse, as a consequence of their ecumenical leanings they really don’t think it is that important. That the family who falls away from the Orthodox Church, can still be saved in another Church, through the grace and mercy of God. Such a belief is false as St. Luke and St. Paul warn us in their epistle:
Hebrews 6:4-6 For [it is] impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Spirit, And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put [him] to an open shame.
In their pursuit of financial goals closet Ecumenists wine and dine the most influential families in the parish, seeing to their every need, and granting them their every request, while at the same time they completely ignore the more beggarly and needy families in their parish, even refusing to speak with them because of time constraints. Such priests, like their openly ecumenist counterparts, are simply man-pleasers.
These wolves in sheep’s clothing actively pursue relationships with their Orthodox brethren from New Calendar jurisdictions, all in the name of Christ’s love. They invite New Calendar Clergy into their alters and give them the brotherly kiss. In the same sermon in which they confess their abhorrence of Ecumenism, they tell the faithful that anyone who imagines that only their Church is the true Church is in Prelest. That we do not know where God’s grace exists, and we should not judge other Churches as being deprived of God’s grace. Yet when it comes to discussions of their brothers in other Old Calendarist jurisdictions, their speech is spiced with words like "fanatics", "prelest", "schismatic", "conservative". Of such closet ecumenists St. Jude says:
Jude 1:10-14 But these speak evil of those things which they know not: but what they know naturally, as brute beasts, in those things they corrupt themselves. Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core. These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear: clouds [they are] without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots; Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever.
Such behavior exhibited by Orthodox priests is only worthy of tears. It is frightening to know that such priests, who spend little if any time in prayer and the study of scripture and the writings of the Holy Fathers, somehow imagine they have acquired the spirit of discernment, and are able to identify who is in prelest, and who is not. The spirit of discernment, like humility, and love, is a gift of God, given to those who, having obtained a degree of passionlessness, can be granted such a gift and yet remain unharmed by spiritual pride and vainglory. Few reach such lofty heights, it is far better for us worthless Orthodox Christians to look within ourselves and attempt to drive out the spirit of prelest that dwells within us, before we begin to make such foolish statements about others. The use of the word "fanatic" is akin to the use of the word "nigger" in secular circles. It is a derogatory remark that is meant only to deride and belittle, and its use in Orthodox circles is every bit as offensive to God as the use of "nigger" is in secular circles. This is especially true when those who use it are themselves guilty of a myriad of sins far more grievous than a perceived overly strict adherence to the principles of Orthodoxy.
The love of the Ecumenist is also closely tied to the love of this world. The social missions of Ecumenism are all geared towards improving life here on earth. Ecumenists love the pursuit of happiness, and fervently exclaim their support for the struggle of equality. They support every social program they are able to, from such grand programs as socialized medicine, to more simple local programs such as meals-on-wheels. As pointed out earlier, it is the responsibility of all Orthodox Christians to help satisfy the basic needs of the poor, to alleviate their suffering, but the Ecumenist does not want to help the poor and needy as individuals, they are more interested in the "concept" of changing society through interdenominational fellowship and social programs. They imagine that they are part of a larger plan to make a more fair and equitable social environment for all members of the global society of mankind. One can’t help but notice that the same Orthodox Ecumenists that so fervently lobby for social programs in their luxurious conferences, and amongst their political associates, are the very same ones who do not have the time to visit the sick and needy in their own parishes. Such self-evident hypocrisy is a clear enough indicator of the folly of such pursuits.
The closet Ecumenist also exhibits a love for life here in this temporal world. They enjoy organizing and participating in BBQ dinners after church, and dances at various times of the year and many other such things. Some have even enjoyed breaking the canons forbidding dancing for the clergy and openly join in the dancing on such occasions. They also find wedding and baptism receptions great opportunities to socialize and network with their parishioners families, both Orthodox and non-Orthodox. In general closet Ecumenists love life, they believe in the dictum "Live life to its fullest". They will not disagree with you if you ask them this, for they do not see anything wrong with the pursuit of happiness, and earthly celebration. They love the smell of a new car, the feel of expensive liturgical garb, the smell of fine wine and good food. This is nothing more than love of this temporal world. Beloved brothers and sisters in Christ, we are called to extricate ourselves from such earthly pursuits and passions.
John 17:16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.
1 John 2:15 Love not the world, neither the things [that are] in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
When such a "liberal minded" priest gives a sermon on our need to struggle, and lead a spiritual life, the hypocrisy is evident to most of the faithful in the parish, for they do not see a spiritual struggler in their priest, they see a man who likes the "good life". They do not mind however, because that is exactly the kind of priest they want. They have no interest in spiritual struggle, and do not want a priest who will awaken their conscience and lead them to compunction. They, like the priest, want to enjoy life and live it to the fullest.
While this is sad enough in and of its own right, an even sadder consequence of this is that anyone in the parish who voices concerns about the incursions of worldliness in the parish is scolded for not having love, and for not understanding the mission of the Church. If one mentions the obligation we have, out of obedience, and reverence to the Holy Apostle Paul, to have woman cover their heads and not wear men’s clothing to church, they are derided as being fanatics. If one points to the spiritual order and sobriety of another Old Calendarist parish in another jurisdiction, and asks why their parish is so different from the other parish, they are warned to stay away from the "ones in prelest". It is not uncommon to have a newly arrived family at such a parish find the women in the parish telling them to not bother having the woman and girls wear head-coverings to church, telling them its "old fashioned". The priest hears of this and does nothing. There is no question but that those who do make the effort to extricate themselves from worldly lusts and pursue a life of obedience will suffer persecution from those that love the world.
John 15:19 If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.
John 17:14 I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.
Churches in most of the Old Calendarist jurisdictions still advocate a more liturgically centered life in their parishes. They take the new testament seriously, and follow Apostle Paul’s admonition to woman to cover their heads during services. Out of obedience and love for the church, they humbly obey their priest, and as a result enjoy great spiritual peace. They avoid excessive celebration at baptism and wedding receptions, and in general attempt to create a sober and prayerful environment in their parish. This is not surprising, the Orthodox Church temple has always been a place of spiritual refuge for Orthodox Christians, a place where all Orthodox Christians, those of low estate, and those of wealthy means, congregate to gain a glimpse of the Kingdom of Heaven, and partake of the mysteries in a God-pleasing and spiritually elevated manner. The evolution of Church architecture, Church art, and Orthodox liturgics bear out the truth of this fact. Discussions with those who grew up in pre-Revolutionary Russia, and Old Calendar Greece also bear out this fact. The church was not a center of social life, rather it was a place where one could pray, confess, and commune with their Lord. The priest, and the parish liturgical life, were the focal points of life in the parish, not the "Bar-b-Q" after Church, or the Spring Dance etc.
During a discussion about spiritual struggle with a priest who, by his own admission, is "liberal", the topic turned to Papa Nicholas, the saintly priest who lived in Athens in the early twentieth century. Papa Nicholas was a great struggler, serving the full liturgical cycle every day of his priestly life, often with only a chanter present to assist him. He was granted many spiritual gifts as a result of his God-pleasing life. When asked of his opinion about Papa Nicholas the priest replied "Papa Nicholas was good for Papa Nicholas", and did not want to pursue the discussion. It was clear that the life Papa Nicholas led was somehow offensive to this priest, it poked at his conscience and prompted him to take a closer look at himself. Often when we look at ourselves in introspection we do not like what we see, however the soul of an Orthodox Christian that is rightly ordered will find such a prodding of the conscience edifying and speak with their confessor about it. The soul of the lover of this world will embark on whatever distractions are immediately available to ignore such a prodding. Let is look within ourselves and, with God’s help, rid ourselves of the prelest brought on by the spirit of ecumenism. Let us rather invite the spirit of truth into our souls, and learn from its inspirations the true path of God-pleasing Orthodoxy.
Your sinful servant in Christ
(The author, who harbors a genuine fear of vainglory and pride, has asked to remain anonymous)