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!


Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Leavened and Unleavened bread in the Eucharist

The Lord used leavened bread artos at the Mystical Supper. The West universally used leavened bread before the eighth century. The question for me to Western practitioners is why did it change for them? That is the chief question, but since that time a lot of revisionist interpretation has taken place so this will address some of it.

Niketas Stethatos wrote some anti-Latin treatises criticizing the use of unleavened bread, Sabbath fasting, and the celibacy of priests. These are generally the Orthodox position. I have yet to find any English translation of them.

For correct terminology on this event (i.e. Mystical Supper is Orthodox language of this meal while Last Supper really is not). See John Sanidopoulos post on it, here.

Etymology
1. In the Bible, unleavened bread is called "unleavened bread," whereas leavened bread is simply called "bread." The Jews would have understood this as would have the early Christians. It says that "He took bread," meaning leavened bread; and the Christians, being first instructed by the Apostles and then reading in the Gospels some time later, implemented this. At the Mystical Supper, it is obvious that our Lord was changing things, to tie the Passover meal with its fulfillment, the Eucharist. One of those changes, obviously, was using leavened bread instead of unleavened, or at least leavened in addition to unleavened. The world was empty and devoid of grace before Christ, as is symbolized by the flatness of the unleavened bread, but later filled with the glory of His Resurrection, as is symbolized by the leavened bread. Christ made the change, and the Church followed through on it.

2. The word for unleavened bread in Greek is ἄζυμος it is used in the Greek New Testament nine times: Mt.26:17; Mk.14:1,12; Lk.22:1,7;Ac.12:3; 20:6; 1Cor.5:7,8.

The word for leavened bread is ἄρτος it is used 97 times in the Greek New Testament.

The passages where they are relevent for the Mystical Supper are
Mt. 26:26; Mk.14:22; Lk.22:19;24:30,35; 1 Cor.10:16,17(twice);11:26,27,28.

In all these places, the writers never say Jesus took ἄζυμος and blessed it, they write that Jesus took ἄρτος, common ordinary leavened bread.



Commentary on the Synoptic Gospels
In Mt. 26:17, Mk 14:12, and Lk 22:7 it is also said that the Last Supper was on Passover day.

According to the commentary of Blessed Theophylact on Mark 14:12 and Luke 22:7

Quote
"The first day of unleavened bread means Thursday the day before the feast of unleavened bread, for the unleavened bread was eaten on Friday."

...and then his footnote to the text of the commentary on St Luke explains further

Quote
"St Matthew and St Mark call this Thursday the first day of unleavened bread, that is the day before the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Passover, which began on Friday, the fourteenth day of the Jewish month of Nisan. the Lord and His disciples made preparations for the Passover meal one day before the time appointed by the because on Friday Christ Himself would be slain as the true Paschal Lamb, fulfilling in His own Person the types and foreshadowings of the Old Testament."



Interpretation of the Historical Episode
The dispute over the use or not of unleavened bread during the mystery of the Eucharist had arisen because the Latins believed that the [Mystical] Supper happened on the day of unleavened bread. The Orthodox on the other hand supported that the Jews called "the day of unleavened bread" the period between sunset on Holy Thursday until sunset on Holy Friday. And it was named so, not because during that time they ate unleavened bread, but because they prepared it. Therefore since the [Mystical] Supper took place during the evening of Holy Thursday Christ must have used bread made with yeast, and not bread without yeast, because the latter had not yet been prepared since its use was on Holy Friday.



Slavery then Freedom
"According to the Bible, unleavened bread was the bread of slaves while leavened bread was for free men, God's children. So for that reason the Orthodox Church uses leavened bread at Holy Communion."

From Woman as a Symbol of Christ By Saint Nikolai Velimirovich



Foreshadowed in the Old Testament
The Eucharist is, literally, a thanksgiving, from the Greek word meaning "gratitude". And in the OT, the thanksgiving sacrifices, unlike the others, were specifically to include leavened bread:

Quote
Lev. 7:13 - With the sacrifice of his peace offerings for thanksgiving he shall bring his offering with cakes of leavened bread.

The other offering which is brought with leaven is the offering of first fruits:

Quote
Lev. 23:17 - You shall bring from your dwellings two loaves of bread to be waved, made of two tenths of an ephah; they shall be of fine flour, they shall be baked with leaven, as first fruits to the Lord.

And we know that Christ Himself is called the first fruits in I Cor. 15:20 - "But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep." And for the Orthodox the Paschal celebration centers upon that resurrection of our Lord, moreso than upon His death.

Note also that unleavened bread is called the "bread of affliction" (Deut. 16:3) - it could be argued that this is not really appropriate for the resurrectional and "eucharistic" celebration of the Lord's Day.

Finally, while Christ was indeed without the "leaven of sin", the other thing symbolized by leaven is the kingdom of heaven/kingdom of God; thus, the presence of leaven seems a more applicable symbolism for the Eucharist than its absence.



Many portions of this are from:
http://www.monachos.net/conversation/topic/1728-leavened-bread-for-communion
   and
http://www.johnsanidopoulos.com/2010/05/13-martyrs-of-kantara-defenders-of.html