Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Concerning Lawlessness

Even in the Garden, God provided laws for man: (1) “…be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth…” (Genesis 1:28 KJV) i.e. grow in number and in virtue having lordship and head rule over the earth; then (2) “…of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (Genesis 2:16-17 KJV) i.e. fast from the tree of knowledge of good and evil with the incentive not that God will kill them but their action will invite death unto them and death shall be the consequence of such disobedience.

They had these two laws in the Garden (including one prohibition) and it was for their own good, for their betterment, and proper order in his life with God and the rest of creation.

In the Old Testament, there is a commonly recurring phrase “in his own eyes,” and this is not a healthy thing. Generally the Old Testament uses the phrase in a negative sense. “Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the LORD weighs the hearts” (Proverbs 21:2 NKJV). And “Do you see a man wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him” (Proverbs 26:12 NKJV).

This thinking even appears at the Fall. “And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat” (Genesis 3:4-6 KJV).

The episodes in the Old Testament we read concerning the rebellious and sinful pursuits of man towards God’s good laws (which are for his health, benefit, and well-being) find their beginning in man taking his life down a path right in his own eyes. God commands Cain to raise his countenance and master sin. Anger was right in Cain’s eyes. “So the LORD said to Cain, ‘Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it’” (Genesis 4:6-7 NKJV). The men of the antediluvian world had a vision towards evil. “Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5 NKJV). Then at the Tower of Babel man’s pride becomes a righteous pursuit in his eyes. “And they said, ‘Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth’” (Genesis 11:4 NKJV).

At Sinai, the Hebrews could not understand a formless God. It was right in their eyes for a god to have a creaturely form. So they made the golden calf. After a few generations in the Promised Land, it was right in their eyes to have a king. They sinfully thought a man should be king over them and not God. So God told Samuel to give them a king even though it was a rebellion against Himself.

This feature of man pursuing sin from what is wise in his own eyes and yet is really a rebellion against God is also in the New Testament. The word given to it is “lawlessness.” This word is used by the Lord and His Apostles.

The Lord says, “…Lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold” (Matthew 24:12 NKJV). St. Paul writes, “do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?” (II Corinthians 6:14 NKJV). And St. John explains, “whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness” (I John 3:4 NKJV).

For many who call themselves Christians today, they have a hatred for rules in the Church. They do not believe God would require rules for their relationship with Him. A simple love of God is all that is needed and is what God gives. They see rules as an invention of men. Rules are only used by modern day Pharisees to control simple-minded folk and keep them away from a direct relationship with God.

Such thinking, although popular, is ahistorical, unscriptural, and even demonic. Part of the problem is thinking of law in the Church as a legal code of rules that should be followed to escape God’s guilty verdict. Or one thinks of “Law” as only applying to Israel before the coming of Christ. This is not how the Lord, Apostles, and the Church has understood the law of God.

The law of God is every command of God given by Christ and the Holy Spirit for the health of the Church and all Her members. They are certainly not a code of legal obligations. This thinking has always been alien to the Church. Every command of Church and the laws of God are for healing of man’s broken communion with the life-giving God. We do not seek to satisfy God the Judge with a completed checklist. God is the One Who heals.

Part of the law of the Church includes canon law. With canon law, most of it is regarding the Church as a whole and clergymen. So, canon law is not as totalitarian as some might believe. With canon law the pastor applies it with exactitude or economy. The law is the same and it speaks to an incarnational truth. However, within the context of the pastor and the needs of his spiritual child, the law is applied with exactitude or given an economic condescension for the greatest benefit for the improved health of the penitent.

“The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward” (Psalm 19:7-11 KJV).

In the Church, the law is no longer written out for us. We are not obedient to tablets or papers in the age of grace. This is not the conscience, man has always had this. This is not new emotions or new thoughts, the Church makes a clear distinction between these and the Law. This is the Holy Spirit in the heart. “Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men: Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart” (II Corinthians 3:2-3 KJV.) This is the fulfillment of prophecy: “But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people” (Jeremiah 31:33 KJV).

In a Vespers hymn for the feast of Pentecost, we chant “He bringeth together all the laws of the Church”. With the coming of the Holy Spirit to the Church, the law is now on the heart of the Spirit-bearer. Such a saint is indicative of where the Church is. The Spirit gives life and informs man on how to come to God. The Prophet Ezekiel foretells, “for I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land. Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them. And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and ye shall be my people, and I will be your God” (Ezekiel 36:24-28 KJV).

This is the relationship that flourishes from the spirit-filled law and obedience to it. Our opinions cannot do this, our emotions cannot do this, and our conscience alone cannot do this. One who confuses these things with the Spirit of God is in the sorriest state who cannot be helped by God. Such a man does right what in his own eyes. One needs to wake up and realize the war taking place in man against God. Even the Apostle Paul recognizes this (cf. Romans 7:23). Discernment is a critical virtue for following the will of God in one’s life. We must discern between God’s will, rationalizing our will as God’s will, and not being deceived by the world claiming God’s will or superiority to it.

With the guide of the Church, informed by the God, the Apostles, and Spirit-filled Fathers, we do not need to figure it out. We have a sure guide, an established path, and a clarity of movement towards a heavenly way of life. This is why Paul says, “Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of [their] conversation. Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:7-8 KJV). Therefore, have humility, trust the Church which is the Bride of Christ. The Church is our Mother and only seeks to care for us and bring us into a good and loving life for the glory of God.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Understanding "happiness" in Orthodox Manner.

The Beatitudes are the beginning of Christ’s Sermon on the Mount (cf. Matthew 5-7). Each begins with the word “blessed” (Latin: beatus where we get our English word Beatitude). This can also be translated as “happy.” Due to the materialist age in which we live, a study of this word is necessary.

The ancient Greek philosophers had discovered that pleasure was not fulfilling, even though that was their desire. So the question for them was how is man supposed to be happy? The Epicureans embraced hedonism and simply believed that everything around our life should be filled with pleasure which will not push pain from our life. Many believed this was impossible and rightly so. Another idea was eudaemonia. This was the pinnacle of earthly happiness that had a sort of finality and self-sufficient generation of this happiness. The philosophers believed the pursuit of man was eudaemonia. The other idea of happiness was makarios and this belonged to the gods. The gods were happy of course, since they were gods, and this happiness which was a happiness man could not achieve, being mortal, was given the name makarios. Eudaemonia was the pinnacle of happiness that earthly man could achieve. Makarios was reserved for the gods, being their heavenly happiness.

The hedonists just accepted the urge for pleasure as a part of life. As a part of our lives, we cannot be free of these urges. Therefore, the hedonists made the fulfillment of these urges and the pursuit of pleasure and end in themselves.

Other philosophers understood this pursuit of pleasure is illusory. Pleasure only appears to satisfy and man when he is fully engulfed in pleasurable pursuits finds an enormous emptiness and unfilled meaning in his life. Pleasure always leads to pain of some sort. The philosophers were correct in this. So their solution was eudaemonia or ascend to that which is good (the Good or Monad or One being an unmoved being containing goodness in itself). Since pleasure relied on changeable and transient material, then the soul needed to pursue virtue and the good by escaping matter. Man should accomplish a transcendence of this world and penetrate into the “One.” as the source of his happiness. Man’s mind should divorce itself from desire and unite itself to Good, by a pursuit of intellectual virtues. The success of this effort would be eudaemonia.

However, by the first century A.D., many philosophical schools and theories were floating around because eudaemonia was proving to be unattainable. Man was still unfulfilled and bewildered how to live his life in happiness. “But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son…” (Galatians 4:4). Jesus Christ, the God-man, now spoke to men and basically told the world, “This is how you achieve makarios, the divine happiness!” When St. Matthew records Christ as saying “Blessed are the poor in spirit…etc.” he uses makarios for his Gospel account.

So the grace of God in synergy (i.e. cooperation, like a dance) with our efforts, enters into the life of man and gives him happiness. While no one could achieve eudaemonia, the saints of God are continually receiving makarios. This is the blessed life in the Church. In our Western society, a thousand years removed from its Orthodox Christian foundation, we lost this life when we abandoned the Orthodox Tradition. Instead of looking to Christianity, the West looked to philosophy during the Renaissance and brought back the pursuit of hedonism or eudaemonia. The West did not look to the Church and still does not look to the Church, making makarios impossible. However, the Church is still creating saints and God is always making makarios available to whoever wish to receive it.

From an Orthodox Christian perspective, the problem with hedonism and eudaemonia (so by extension the Western Christian and Western non-Christian understanding of happiness) is its innate selfish love. In the ancient world and today, man is seeking his own happiness. Even when helping others, many times it is for that good feeling and satisfaction. Explicitly in the ancient world and implicitly in the modern world, hubris is the engine driving the pursuit of happiness. Selfish love is not part of the Christian life and in part explains why heterodox Christianity is in the same unfulfilled situation the ancient world found itself in after much futile effort in the first century A.D., before Christ taught makarios. Makarios is from a love that “seeketh not her own” (cf. I Corinthians 13:5). Makarios results from asceticism. Eudaemonia is selfish, relies on hubris, and cannot connect with God.

Many sects that arose after Christ that taught a type of ascent to the good by our own efforts have been condemned as a form of Gnosticism. Yes, we should pursue good and yes we should acquire virtue. However, this good, virtue, and pursuit thereof, is in a totally different framework from how the pagan world and the modern world understand it. We should abandon our former understanding of happiness and listen to how the Christ and the Church leads us to the only true happiness of makarios or in English (from the Latin) “beatitude.”

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Levels of Woke for Conversations with Normies

A personal list I created to help gauge the level of conversation that can be divulged for one who is trying to understand the situation of the world in which we find ourselves. Useful as a scale to determine what information to hold back until such a time when one further level is accepted. This can serve as a guide for one assisting those who genuinely want understanding but can only take small dosages at a time.

(1) Left and Right are the same and funded/influenced by the same people, i.e. the elites.

(2) The elites are the uber-rich and 1% of the 1%. They are invested in and profit from an unhealthy society.

(3) The elites manufacturer our unhealthy society then maintain and further it so their power and profits grow. This is done by a variety of means, including but not limited to these cross-national and historical methods:
  • Banking control to dictate economic and monetary policy all the while being those who actually hold the wealth of a given nation/society/monarchy.
  • Sexual revolution (from feminism and breakdown of families to perverse sexual behavior destroying lives yet, in our day, held as one's identity)
  • Foreign elements causing social chaos (from increases of crime to draining the economy)
  • Misinformation efforts and political revolutionary fervor (involving media, education, and entertainment that rewrites history, makes up boogiemen, gives mockery or attack to those resisting or opposing their efforts)
  • Military Industrial Complex as a means of force to protect and/or further their profiteering schemes.

(4) These uber-wealthy elites have been about this exact work for many episodes in Christian history and in many places throughout the world. Their efforts are inherently anti-Christian. A devout Christian ought to be committed to opposing them. Acceptance or turning a blind eye to it is tantamount to denying the Faith. Christianity and secularism are incompatible.

(5) These elites are primarily Jews. In the eighteenth to twentieth century they were assisted by mostly Freemasons. In the twenty-first century, they are assisted by Anglo-sellouts (some Masonic lodges are still at work) who were raised in a successful family and have an obsessive sense of entitlement. There is no such thing as "Judeo-Christian values."

(6) These powerful Jews and their Gnostic-minded collaborators pursue their selfish and destructive agenda precisely because they reject God and Christ who is Logos (therefore the God-ordained reason and order for mankind).

(7) Furthermore... the aforementioned Jews, Freemasons, and sellouts (often with a gnostic worldview) are mostly satanists who together and behind closed doors are engaged in grotesque and profoundly perverse demonic rituals. These satanic rituals bind this community together for collaboration in their schemes. They have orchestrated the mass-murders of millions of Christians since the time of Christ, through about every century, even up to this day. This is the full explanation behind level 4.

Thank you to the Orthobros, Mr. Trump, Dr. Matthew Raphael Johnson, E. Michael Jones, WikiLeaks and the year 2016 for bringing my own awareness to these things. This is a guide for conversation and not an apologetic treatise. The evidence is there for those who honestly look for it.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Hesychasm, a Prerequisite for Expressing Theology. Defending Romanides.

INTRODUCTION

Among those who claim to be Orthodox but do not fully understand the Orthodox phronima or hesychastic life, some parts of Orthodox theology may continue to be quite challenging for them. In recent times, this has been most especially true for some Orthodox Christians grappling with the works of Fr. John Romanides. Everything Fr. John Romanides wrote concerning theology was informed from his intimate participation in neptic hesychia. Those who find pleasure engaging in intellectual discourse regarding Orthodox theology will eventually run into problems when trying to digest the theology of the Church expressed by Fr. John.

All that really needs said to these, whom I shall keep nameless, is summed up in this quote by St. Gregory Palamas:
"My own God-bearing Father, Isaac the Syrian, writes not to receive the teaching of a philosopher on the subject of Hesychasm."
By philosopher, we do not only include those with degrees in philosophy from the universities. From the patristic testimony, a philosopher can be anyone who speaks using their imagination (wittingly or unwittingly) to create rational arguments for informing theology (in our case) instead of a hesychast using revelation of God to their nous to create rational arguments for expressing theology. The utilization of patristic quotes is irrelevant in this regard.

There are many scholars, intellectuals, philosophers, bloggers and arm-chair theologians who claim to have insight into theology and therefore are able to correct a hesychast. The Orthodox who do this are closer to followers of the Papacy and scholasticism i.e. Barlaamites rather than the Faith confessed by St. Gregory Palamas. They have been formed by Western culture, society, education, and values. Western culture being built on scholasticism, it is no surprise at the struggle for the Orthodox Christian raised in the West to break free of these things.

For the undiscerning, these folks can be very difficult to identify. They may write plenty about scholasticism either in favor of it or how it was hurtful to the West and foreign to the Orthodox Faith. They may have an accurate and well-informed understanding of scholasticism. However, once you get underneath the surface it can be shown that they use all the assumptions, methods, and the same phronima as the Scholastics (regardless whether they claim to favor or reject scholasticism). In a sense, they are using scholasticism to criticize scholasticism. In this sense, scholasticism is the same as a philosopher identified above. One who couples his rational mind with his imagination (wittingly or unwittingly) to inform the Faith, either for himself or for others. How can one know it is done unwittingly? It contradicts the Faith as expressed by hesychasts. Now a single hesychast is not infallible, of course. But they are in a much more appropriate position to express theology than anyone who is not a hesychast. And while a hesychast is in a state of theosis, he is experiencing infallible theology. 

Coming back to Romanides, many seem to quickly target his activities in school and in the Ecumenical movement. There is no substance to the Ecumenical movement argument seeing that the Orthodox had problems with it only after it turned into something other than the original stated objectives. In regard to his schooling and seeming attraction to authors such as Barth, and possibly others, his accusers never look at his family life and especially the life of his mother, Gerontissa Evlampia Romanides. He did not have a typical Western upbringing, while living in the West. Just a quick browsing of his home-life, his attachment to heychastic monastics would reveal how this impacted him while he tried to impact Orthodox circles that were lacking this needful influence. Knowing these aspects of his life would immediately raise suspicion at some of these accusations thrown at Fr. John.

So what are some of the specific accusations given to this hesychast scholar that the non-hesychasts philosophers seek to point out?

ACCUSATION SET 1:
  • He was blindly prejudice against Augustine and the West. Instead of trying to understand this tradition he attacked it with vitriol. His scholarship had this agenda and lacked any intellectual curiosity and Christian charity.
  • His scholarship was a product of the West and relied on Barth in some places, thereby forsaking the Orthodox Tradition.
(How can these both be true?)

ACCUSATION SET 2:
  • He was committed to Greece's radical right wing party.
  • He was a Marxist leftist.
(How can these also both be true?)

ACCUSATION SET 3:
  • Rejects the use of analogy in Orthodox theology.
    • He rejected not only Thomistic and Platonic analogy but the use of all analogy in Orthodox expression.
    • It is argued he takes an extreme stance on the axiom that between the uncreated and created there is no similarity.
    • He is accused of basically rejecting cataphatic theology.
ACCUSATION SET 4:
  • He was an modernist and ecumenist.
    • Believed the Monophysites were Orthodox
    • Participated in the World Council of Churches (WCC)
    • He accepted modernism over biblical traditions (eg. science overrides biblical claims and higher criticism informs us on the inspiration of biblical books) and doubted Scriptural inspiration.
ACCUSATION SET 5:
  • Concerning the logoi:
    • He denies they have any existence in the Mind of God.
    • He denies they are archetypal ideas.
    • He denies they even exist since he takes an extreme stance on the point there is no similarity between uncreated and created.
Fr. John's students are not even immune from criticism.
  • While they accept his notion of no difference between the created and uncreated, they value his writings.
  • They use intellectual definitions of hesychasm as a cloak to defend his writings and can not rely on their own experience to validate his words.
  • They are not serious scholars following a very bad scholar.
A number of people have written at length on these accusations using many patristic quotations to validate their opinion. But I reiterate the main point I want to stress by St. Gregory Palamas:
"My own God-bearing Father, Isaac the Syrian, writes not to receive the teaching of a philosopher on the subject of Hesychasm."
One needs to understand the man, Fr. John Romanides, to realized these accusations are weak and totally misguided. One needs to understand his life, his attachments, and his vision. His accusers are extracting pieces of his writing to position themselves as better informed theologically than Fr. John the hesychast. Many of his quotes are taken out of the context of his audience, historical circumstance, and real purpose for writing. If this was not bad enough, I find his accusers are taking quotes out of context without even realizing what the rest of his sentence states (they even quote the whole sentence but the words do not even penetrate their blindness to posture themselves in a more exalted stature).

REBUTTAL FOR SET 1:

Fr. John Romanides as a man was from a Cappadocian family that retained its culture and he was grateful all his life for this kind of upbringing and formation. Although living in America they family was engaged in American life but Cappadocian at home. I, again, invite people to read the life of Fr. John's mother, here. After his whole childhood in this ancient culture, he later became very active in prestigious schools but never forsake his family's heritage. He viewed his education and performed all his academic contributions were executed through a Cappadocian lens. Fr. John is making a unique contribution to scholarship for us. He is starting with the Orthodox Faith and trying to build a bridge for the scholarly world to see things more like the Romaic understanding for the Western world. The scholarly world then sees Fr. John's bridge and can properly understand Orthodox Fathers, Orthodox Culture, Orthodox Politics, Orthodox Worldviews, etc. etc. We see him acting as this bridge himself in many situations; this includes little things like advising the President of the United States on the situation in Serbia, to large things like participation in "ecumenical" dialogues. Because he acted in this way, he was persecuted all his life for either being a sell out for Westernism or being a backwards and primitive Orthodox Christian. Those worked with him closely say neither of those is an accurate portrayal of him and his work. Therefore, his accusers who do not know him are speaking out of bias and ignorance when they say such things.

Now some see his writings to have a fiery attribute. Many do not see this. It is interesting that some of the claims actually trigger many who see this in his writings. My question is, what upsets them so much? It is curious that some, who read his works without any honesty towards Fr. John's points, get furious and seek to attack the man. Again, these do not even know anything about him except the few of his words in front of them. Fr. John Romanides' whole life was a great task to explain Orthodoxy to the West after such a long period of (centuries of) Western influences on Orthodoxy and no contribution from Orthodoxy to the West. It is not enough for his accusers to reject his contributions they must attack the man. It is a sad thing.

REBUTTAL FOR SET 2:

The politics of Fr. John are probably the most humorous of the accusations hurled at him. Fr. John at one point expresses that it might be better if there were more leftist Marxists in Greece.
"I believe that it is a great tragedy — not an Aeschylean one, but a shameful one — that there are no powerful intellectual Marxists in Greece."
       -- "Orthodoxy and Religion" from Patristic Theology by Fr. John Romanides
When accused as a Communist, it was dismissed as a false accusation and he gained his position at the University of Thessaloniki where he eventually received his pension.

At the same time he ran for office in the right-wing anti-junta royalist party. To approach Fr. John from a right-wing royalist and left-wing marxist perspective means one, again, does not really understand the man and in addition has only a superficial grasp on his writings and work. This accusation was fully addressed here.

Fr. John held a Romaic political view all his life. He believed there should be royalty, but that the royalty should be elected (in the way Romans came to power) and not hereditary (in the way Franks held on to power). He was truly held an ancient political philosophy and criticized or praised any modern political theory from this perspective.

REBUTTAL FOR SET 3:

One of the most complex accusations would be the use of analogy by Fr. John, or rather, his insistence on the disuse of it. To be sure, the Fathers, especially the Cappadocian Fathers, made a point on the proper use of analogy when utilizing it for theologizing about God.

"There is a similarity of names between things human and things divine, revealing nevertheless underneath this sameness a wide difference of meanings."
       -- Gregory of Nyssa, Contra Eunomium (NPNF V). p. 93.
"The ultimate division of all that exists is made by the line between ‘created’ and ‘uncreated,’ the one being regarded as a cause of what has come into being, the other as coming into being thereby. Now the created nature and the Divine essence being thus divided, and admitting no intermixture in respect of their distinguishing properties, we must by no means conceive both by means of similar terms, nor seek in the idea of their nature for the same distinguishing marks in things that are thus separated."
       --  Gregory of Nyssa, Contra Eunomium (NPNF V). p. 209.
“...the word to know has many meanings. We say that we know the greatness of God, His power, His wisdom, His goodness, His providence over us, and the justness of His judgment; but not His very essence. The question is, therefore, only put for the sake of dispute. For he who denies that he knows the essence does not confess himself to be ignorant of God, because our idea of God is gathered from all the attributes which I have enumerated.”
       -- St. Basil, Letter 234
St. Gregory Palamas even used analogy. It is very easy to take Fr. John's emphasis on the axiom "between the created and uncreated there is no similarity whatsoever" and use it to make the point the Fr. John rejects all use of analogy. It is rather ridiculous carry it this far. With all things Orthodox, there is a certain line you do not cross because it become the realm of heresy. It seems silly to have to point out that there was a certain line in the thought of Fr. John where his insistence to not use analogy did not cross. It would be interesting to see his homilies from his time as a parish priest at Newport, New Hampshire and Arlington and Haverhill, Massachusetts. To say he rejected all analogy, even the analogy the Fathers used is as consistent as saying he was a hypocrite because he wrote books about God. We enter into the realm of the absurd when claiming Fr. John rejects all analogical tools. So what was Fr. John really doing and seeing that his accusers do not realize?

Fr. John was doing two things. One, he is being consistent with the Church in rejecting Platonism; two, he is reasserting the proper Orthodox approach to both cataphatic and apophatic theology. Again, this is one of the many ways which he continually was trying to build a bridge to have Orthodox contribute authentically to the West and also allow scholarship to interact with Orthodoxy as expressed in its own terms and characteristics.

Concerning the first, the explicitly analyzing the tool of analogy in the ancient and medieval world, this was almost entirely worked in the Platonic framework. If analogy was being used in theology or philosophy, you were talking about Platonism. One was hardly ever separated from the other. This is not explicit in a number of works from the times but on careful observation it becomes self-evident in almost all manuscripts. The exception was when the Orthodox Fathers refuted Plato or analogy. They said "yes, we use analogy but to explain the energies of God that are formless" They used the language of the Neoplatonists in a way where the philosophers understood the Christians were rejecting Platonism. Fr. John stuck with tradition. He did not approach this question from a Papal/Protestant point of view where he can say whatever he wants because he is outside a tradition. No, in the tradition of the Church, analogy was seen as a philosophical tool of the Neoplatonists and apophatic theology was the main instrument of the Church, which was made clear in many discussions and councils between the Church and the post-schism West during the time of St. Gregory Palamas and St. Mark of Ephesus.

This brings us to number two, Fr. John was admirably taking upon himself of taking not only the theology of the Church from out of Western influences but its methods. Western influences in Orthodox theology not only affected doctrinal points but how one approaches theology. I.e. an increased use of scholasticism and that which followed it. Fr. John was pressing intensely and extremely hard the use of apophatic theology as the natural and common theology of the Church. To put it one way. The synthesis was cataphatic theology, it is what everyone used as common theology. Fr. John made (in some cases) and extreme form (but not erroneous) of apophatic theology. The desired outcome would be theology that favored or leaned towards apophaticism rather than cataphaticism. While it may be unsettling for Fr. John to say things like "God is not a personal God. In fact, God is not even God", one has to not play the popular "Gotcha" game and see what he is trying to accomplish here. It appears he is attacking the idea of modern personalism, about which probably all of his accusers remain clueless. Also, he is stressing his hesychastic experiences to make the point that the Orthodox need to return to the viewpoint of apophatic theology. This quotation of his in particular is profound and no one should listen to anyone's commentary on this who are outside the experience of hesychia.

Fr. John points out Western scholars such as William Ockham or Barth that follow his line of thinking and thinks this is to these scholars merit. The accusers use this to point out his lack of Orthodoxy. But again, it is ridiculous, he was raised a Cappadocian by a godly mother. He is influenced by and repeats the thoughts of St. Paul and St. John Chrysostom when he rejects analogy or says the words of the Bible are useful to a point. St. Paul and St. John Chrysostom are his influences and Fr. John elaborates. When he comes across Ockham or Barth who almost understand this, he mentions them favorably because he is not a radical.

REBUTTAL FOR SET 4:

This brings us to the point that Fr. John was not a modernist or ecumenist.

Fr. John's perspective with the Monophysites was an evolving one. If one behaves carelessly (which all who give this accusation do) and does not look at his positions in a chronological manner, then one can jump to the conclusion that he thought the Monophysites were Orthodox. Fr. John, like many even today, believed that the Coptics were using words in a way which could be interpreted as Orthodox, but their tradition insisted on non-Chalcedonian vocabulary. As he engaged in dialogue with the Monophysite leaders and representatives and understood their positions better. After the ecumenical discussions, he soon realized it was more hopeless than he initially thought. He learned that their was a much larger chasm between our traditions and the Monophysites had a significant amount of conversion to be had before communion with the Church of the True Faith. To be specific, a few of his early articles were published in the '80s and '90s on his initial thoughts on union with the non-Chalcedonians which were episodes from the year 1959 though 1964. Those can be found here and here. Yet, in the middle of all the madness, Fr. John Romanides was actually the only remaining Orthodox Christian in the room standing opposed to the ecumenical machinations and disdain for the true Faith. This occurred in the years 1970 though 1971. You can read about his valiant steadfastness here.

While Fr. John participated in the WCC, those who hold it against him clearly know nothing about his views on it and dishonor his contribution by calling him an ecumenist. The dialogues between the Church's was a tiring of such gruesome conflict and often bloody for centuries between the factions in "Christendom" and the Orthodox Church. Again, Fr. John's goal was to provide the invaluable contribution of the Orthodox Church to these discussions. The ecumenical meetings were a result of Christian institutions getting exhausted from all the conflict and seeking better relationships. The first ecumenical meetings were simply discussions. When the WCC got in the picture things deteriorated. Romanides told his co-workers that the WCC is a protestant gathering trying to control everyone. You can read a little bit about it that Fr. John put into writing here. In no way would Fr. John still advocate participation. The Protestants in the organization were not really interested in the truth of the Orthodox Faith but rather control of the Orthodox Church, among others. With these realizations, Fr. John believed that the Orthodox had not business remaining in the WCC and should withdraw from the discussions.

Many do not understand Fr. John's approach to science and the Bible. Some dismiss his approach as modernist but his accusers do not fully understand his position. He is accused of accepting the belief that Genesis is a Babylonian myth. Some also are offended when Fr. John teaches on the limits of Scripture in the life of communion with God. Concerning Genesis and Babylonian cosmology, Fr. John never once teaches that Genesis is simply Babylonian myths. Fr. John does say Genesis uses a Babylonian cosmology (or a Babylonian way of understanding the cosmos), which it does.  Readers of his works do not actually read him. They carelessly skip words and argue from half-sentences.  In this example, his accusers have in front of them this: "The cosmology of the Old Testament, as regards expression and formulation, is influenced by the Babylonian cosmology of that age." But they somehow read it as this: "The cosmology of the Old Testament, as regards expression and formulation, is influenced by the Babylonian [myths] of that age." Read the actual words folks. This is not liberal biblical hermeneutics. This is just proper contextualization.

Concerning the limits of Scripture, this has to do with the use of created words. This understanding has always been known in the Church, was first expressed by St. Paul the Apostle, and elaborated by the saints (notably St. John Chrysostom).
"How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter" (II Corinthians 12:4 KJV).
and...
"It were indeed meet for us not at all to require the aid of the written Word, but to exhibit a life so pure, that the grace of the Spirit should be instead of books to our souls, and that as these are inscribed with ink, even so should our hearts be with the Spirit. But, since we have utterly put away from us this grace, come, let us at any rate embrace the second best course.
"For that the former was better, God hath made manifest,both by His words, and by His doings. Since unto Noah, and unto Abraham, and unto his offspring, and unto Job, and unto Moses too, He discoursed not by writings, but Himself by Himself, finding their mind pure. But after the whole people of the Hebrews had fallen into the very pit of wickedness, then and thereafter was a written word, and tables, and the admonition which is given by these.
"And this one may perceive was the case, not of the saints in the Old Testament only, but also of those in the New. For neither to the apostles did God give anything in writing, but instead of written words He promised that He would give them the grace of the Spirit: for 'He,' saith our Lord, 'shall bring all things to your remembrance.' And that thou mayest learn that this was far better, hear what He saith by the Prophet: 'I will make a new covenant with you, putting my laws into their mind, and in their heart I will write them,' and, 'they shall be all taught of God.' And Paul too, pointing out the same superiority, said, that they had received a law “not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart.'
"But since in process of time they made shipwreck, some with regard to doctrines, others as to life and manners, there was again need that they should be put in remembrance by the written word."
       -- St. John Chrysostom's First Homily on the Gospel according to St. Matthew, 1 
St. Paul the Apostle and St. John Chrysostom  made Romanides' claims about Scripture long before anything similar to the claims made by Barth who was less influence on him than the two formerly mentioned saints. To idolize words seems the only position Orthodox Christians know how to operate when they do not really understand hesychasm from either experience relationships with those who do experience it. To doubt that Fr. John believed in the inspiration of Scripture is nonsensical. However, the Orthodox Church see this differently than other traditions and this is what he sought to explain. He did deny the inspiration of Scripture as the West understood it, but he understood it in an Orthodox manner. He wrote on this topic specifically.

REBUTTAL FOR SET 5

For the first time, I recently saw an attack on how Fr. John understand the logoi. This is a very strange attack because Fr. John saw the uncreated logoi since he was a hesychast and the accuser from which this came is a recent convert (therefore it is very likely he is initiated in hesychia if at all). It is such a ridiculous accusation I did not think to give it another thought. However, the visceral and triggering that has curiously been prompted in the accuser is damaging the reputation of Fr. John Romanides among others who do not know better.

Again, the key to this accusation is Fr. John's attempt to emphasize apophatic theology again as the natural position for the Orthodox over the new emphasis in cataphatic theology that has occurred since the Church's Western captivity. With that let's address these accusations: (1) Fr. John is condemned for denying the logoi have any existence in the Mind of God. (2) He denies they are archetypal ideas. (3) He denies they even exist since he takes an extreme stance on the point there is no similarity between uncreated and created.

The position that the Fr. John (let alone the whole Orthodox Church) denies that the logoi have existence in the Mind of God is not unusual, the accusation is unusual. It is a purely Platonic position. Not just the vocabulary of Platonism, but the position itself. The Orthodox do not speak of the "mind of God" in its theology. This is Gnosticism. The Ecumenical Councils speak of essence, energy, hypostasis, and will.

Fr. John does deny the archetypal ideas in the Platonic sense. But not in the sense of St. Maximos. When talking about archetypes, there is such important nuance one has to understand relating to what words are actually being used (English translations make this difficult) and the context which is being used. Look at the above quotes from the Cappadocian Fathers. They are making the point that they start with a dissimilarity between the uncreated and created then go on to make a new analogy of how best to speak of unspeakable things. Those who think the Platonic archetypes is an Orthodox belief are gravely mistaken. These accusers do not know the subject matter of what they read. When the Fathers are addressing philosophy they reject Platonic ideas. If they talk about a Platonic idea, such as goodness, then they make a point to distinguish Orthodox Christian theology and experience from philosophy by mentioning that they are "formless" (denying the philosophical assumptions) or from is an energy of God, or radiating from His essence (as opposed to speaking of the "mind" of God). The followers of Fr. John make up much of the voice in the Church for the closer attention and performance of the service of the Synodikon on the Sunday of Orthodoxy. Fr. John knew the Synodikon well so rejected the Platonic archetypal ideas. From the Synodikon:
"To them who of themselves refashion creation by means of mythical fabrications and accept the Platonic ideas as veritable, saying that matter, being self-subsistent, is given form by these ideas, and who thereby clearly calumniate the free will of the Creator Who brought all things into being out of non-being and Who, as Maker, established the beginning and end of all things by His authority and sovereignty,
"Anathema (3)"
Many in the ancient world tried to fit the newly proclaimed Christian message to platonic thought. That is, they tried to take the preaching of the truth and conform it to the worldview in which they were raised. This was the problem of the heretics and other philosophers that had to eventually be condemned (especially Origen). The accusers do not pay attention to the subjects of the Father's writings. Are we talking about a false platonic god, or the true God of Orthodox theology; within which framework are we operating? That is a question if asked Fr. John's accusers would not have considered when reading the Fathers. The Fathers do occasionally give a proper understanding of analogy or cataphatic theology. St. Maximos is a saint highly esteemed who writes in the Platonic language. However, the key difference between his writings and the writings of others is he starts with revelation and adapts Platonic vocabulary to fit his experience of theoria. Philosophers do not do this. St. Dionysius mentions how we understand analogy and the use of words to describe God. But it is in the context of his main theme. Making this point using St. Dionysios is to ignore the entire corpus of the rest of his writings. That God dwells behind a divine darkness. St. Dionysios is also starting with revelation.

Some accusers also say that Fr. John would really have to admit that the logoi does not exist since he takes an extreme stance on the axiom of no similarity between the uncreated and created. The mistake that this accusation makes is to see the logoi as a type of analogy instead of that deposit of energy which comes from God and leads the creature back to God. I can not stress enough that this is not how the logoi are properly understood in Orthodox fashion. The accusers do not go so far to say that the logoi is not energy but it is incumbent upon them to deny that the logoi is an uncreated energy of God. This truth that the logoi is an uncreated energy is only given lip service. The accusation only looks at this truth as a means of analogy to satisfy the pleasure of their opinions and not to see the movement the soul makes by the vehicle of the logoi. Fr. John is right when he says there is no similarity between the logoi and created ideas, because this is what the experience of the hesychats reveals to them. Words fall short of the experience. Again, it comes down to this, while cataphatic theology is used and analogy is used even with the logoi, Fr. John is trying to shift the Orthodox emphasis back to apophatic theology. This is one of his main objectives and he remained insistent and steadfast on that position.

To get the proper context on Fr. John's teaching concerning the uncreated creative and sustaining energy, see here and here.

CONCLUSION

These accusations simply come down to a careless evaluation of Fr. John Romanides works and an irrational attachment to philosophy. If one would simply study the life of Fr. John, examine the whole of his works, the order in which they were produced, and read what he is actually saying, then you will see a tapestry of the most patristic scholar of the 20th century pushing the Church as much as he can towards an Orthodox theology that is unapologetically expressed on its own terms. This goal was for the normalization of the Church's language and as a precious gift for the West.

Fr. John was a persecuted man. He was persecuted all his life and only after death did people realize what he was trying to do. However, his accusers are still out there. However, among his accusers will be no saints. Among his supporters are a number of saints. This is because the hesychasts recognize the experience which Fr. John gives to his readers. The hesychats realize the shortcoming of words and analogy.

To quote this passage of St. Gregory Palamas one more time is important. It is a diagnosis of a wider problem which the accusations against Fr. John are only a symptom. In this quote philosopher means anyone using their rational mind (logos) not under the discipline of hesychasm to receive knowledge from the nous in the heart and instead draw upon their imagination to theologize. St. Gregory says:
"My own God-bearing Father, Isaac the Syrian, writes not to receive the teaching of a philosopher on the subject of Hesychasm."
Glory to God for all things. 

Friday, November 4, 2016

Our rulers are possessed by demons.

WARNING: This post contains some disturbing images.

Introduction
Over the course of a year, we have seen many satanic practices come to the light that are front and center of politics and society. The powers of darkness are real, most Christians forget how active they work to destroy our souls. Or due to the modern Christians fragility, sensitivity, and acedia, they choose to ignore it.
"For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high [places]" (Eph 6:12 KJV).
The Backstory of the Paris Attacks
At the end of 2015 we saw a devastating attack by jihadists in Paris. But it went unreported what was going on at the concert when the shooting occurred... From the Orthodox Heritage, here:
The symbolism assumed a new dimension when the perpetrators started firing on the audience of a performance by the band "Eagles of Death Metal" of its popular tune "Kiss the Devil."
A series of images taken moments before the massacre started, members of the audience are seen making the hand sign used for devil worship, their index and little finger lifted in preparation for singing along with the lurid lyrics:
Who’ll love the Devil?
Who’ll sing his song?
Who will love the Devil and his song?
I’ll love the Devil
I’ll sing his song
I will love the Devil and his song
What diabolical irony: the audience in the concert hall sings to the devil and is then butchered in cold blood by Jihadists claiming to serve Allah by annihilating pagans celebrating and invoking the Devil.
The Parisians seem devoid of any sense of the spiritual reality they are inviting. Yet their invocation was heard and answered.
What a heart-breaking scene. Servants of Allah and pagan revelers becoming a devilish blood sacrifice.
Satanic Opening Ceremony for Europe's Top Leaders.
Later in 2016 we saw all of Europe's leaders gather for the opening of the longest tunnel on the European continent, connecting Switzerland and Germany. This was filled with satanic and sexual imagery. From Life Site, here:
European leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Francois Hollande, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, Liechtenstein Prime Minister Adrian Hasler, and Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern took part in the opening of the world’s longest tunnel, running 57 km under the Swiss Alps. The historic event was overshadowed by the opening ceremonies which contained blatantly satanic and graphically sexual overtones...













These are some of the satanic images that went on for the enjoyment of the all the major Euopean/Continental leaders.

Spirit Cooking by the Clinton Camp
We then learn today of the Clinton campaign chair taking part in Spirit Cooking and it's popularity with the Clinton inner circle and some entertainers. Much has been learned about Spirit Cooking and it has shown beyond any doubt that this is a Satanic practice (started by the Satanist Aleister Crowley). First we know that it is practiced by Clinton's inner circle and Hollywood elites:
https://wikileaks.org/podesta-emails/emailid/15893
For these sick and possessed souls, it is considered as "performance art." However, there are many ways to understand this position. One, Satan is the "Father of Lies." Everything he says is a lie. The demons, following his example tell this lie to the souls they possess giving them assurance that nothing really evil is taking place in this behavior. Another way to understand this is by drawing from anyone experienced in the spiritual life. The sins and passions to which we have trouble letting go keep ensnaring us because we make excuses or really twist some justification into doing them. This is exactly what is also going on with this "performance art" and related to the previous point, this thinking comes from the powers of darkness.

The person that hosts these (Marina Abramovic, depicted below and the right women in the above picture) herself admits to the reality of this being more than just performance art but actually occult practice.
Alex Jones has been dismissed as a nut job for reporting these kinds of stories. When he reported them, they were unsubstantiated. Now, it is documented and the evidence is for all to see that this demonic activity is engaged by Clinton's inner circle.

See Alex Jones' full story here.

If the Clinton campaign staff is not enough for someone then look to the Clinton Mentor: Saul Alinsky. His book is widely popular among the left and if one reads the book we can see they continue to follow the guidance he gives in this book: Rules for Radicals. See to whom this handbook for the left is dedicated:
"Lest we forget at least an over-the-shoulder acknowledgment to the very first radical: from all our legends, mythology, and history (and who is to know where mythology leaves off and history begins — or which is which), the first radical known to man who rebelled against the establishment and did it so effectively that he at least won his own kingdom — Lucifer."
— SAUL ALINSKY
Conclusion
I have made this point in my "Social Pathologies" page:
"How is it the Church in America--after the success of the Billy Graham Crusades, and after the organization of the Evangelical political arm, and after the reign of such people in the 80s--how is it after all this, the "Church" was utterly powerless to stop the devastating march of demonic/secular forces that were erasing a Christian heritage? Why was the Church completely incompetent to do anything about this? How is it the Church won the entire pagan world to Christ and America's Christians had the reigns of power in our country and could not even slow the march of the neo-pagans? When I learned the difference was that the two Christian Faiths that won the world to Christ and we experience in America today were not even close to the same Faith, it all began to make sense. American Christianity does not heal mankind. It only exists to make adequate socio-economic voting units without any serious and noticeable character flaws. Orthodox Christianity exists to make a man into a god, by grace. Huge difference."
A thousand years apart from Christ has come to this. There is no way the remnants of Christian culture, in the post-Christian, neo-pagan West can save all our society from plunging head-first into hell. Our leaders are possessed by demons, in truth. The leaders need to be exorcised. This is why it is important to repent and why we need to run and embrace the Apostolic Faith of Orthodoxy. Only Orthodoxy has such a power from God to reverse this whole mess in which the Western elites, rulers, and leaders, finds themselves. 

Such strong evil, so deeply united to the souls of our leaders can not be cured by American Christianity, it simply lacks the power. American Christianity creates no saints. It is impossible due to such a prideful, condemning, egotistical filter which the teachings of the Church pass through for American Christians. The Orthodox Church is always exorcising, curing the sick, lame, and blind, raising the dead. It is the Church with the same power of the Holy Spirit we read about in the book of the Acts of the Apostle in the New Testament. 

Our saints literally glow with this light and power they are acquiring from God. It is them, only, that can save us, by Christ's power. We need to either bring them to our land and beg them for help or start producing them ourselves by taking seriously the message the Orthodox Church gives to the West.

Repent!