Fr John Peck on the Coming Persecution of Christians

john-peckFr John Peck was recently interviewed TruNews, a program with a large Protestant audience on how believers dealt with persecution.

The interviewer was aware of the history of persecution that the Orthodox have endured, and asked Fr John to explain it to his audience. I’m heartened myself by this development. For too long, too many Protestants have drawn an imaginary line through the sand on which one side was Martin Luther=good/Popery=bad –and we got lumped into the Popery part. This ignorant bias has done much damage to the Christian world as we can see presently in the Middle East, the cradle of Christianity itself. However, as you will hear in this interview, perceptive Evangelicals are asking serious questions about the Orthodox Church and how it survived during the worst persecution of all.

The interview with Fr. Peck begins at minute mark: 17:00.

From the TruNews website program notes:

Topic: Is it time for the true Church in America to go underground to survive the coming storm?

Rick reveals a major decision. Later in the program, Prester John Peck will talk about how Orthodox Christians survived decades of communism without renouncing their faith in Jesus Christ.


The interview with Fr. Peck begins at minute mark: 17:00.

Fr. John Peck | Official Website

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  1. Timothy Wearing says

    In Memoriam + The Very Rev. Paul Schneirla
    Archbishop Demetrios honors Fr. Paul as the last surviving SCOBA founder in 2007.
    Archbishop Demetrios honors Fr. Paul as the last surviving SCOBA founder in 2007.
    22 September 2014 • In Memoriam

    Former longtime St. Vladimir’s Seminary Old Testament professor, The Very Rev. Paul Schneirla, pastor emeritus at St. Mary’s Antiochian Orthodox Church in Brooklyn, New York, reposed in the Lord on Saturday, September 20, 2014, at age 98.

    Father Paul came to St. Vladimir’s as a student in the early 1940s, when the campus was still located in New York City. He was ordained a priest in 1943 and served Antiochian Orthodox parishes in Iron Mountain, MI and Allentown, PA before moving to New York to serve at St. Mary’s in Brooklyn, from 1951 until his retirement in August 2002.

    Former St. Vladimir’s Dean and Peter N. Gramowich Professor of Church History, Emeritus, The Very Rev. Dr. John Erickson, remembers him as “urbane, witty, and well-read.”

    “Father Paul’s familiarity with all aspects of twentieth-century Orthodoxy was legendary,” Fr. John recalled, “but conversations with him were not limited to ecclesiastical matters.They could include anything from the gold fields of Alaska (where he was born) to Pharaonic Egypt.Teaching at a St. Vladimir’s Summer Institute, 1993
    Teaching at a St. Vladimir’s Summer Institute, 1993

    “Father Paul’s pastoral ministry also deserves special mention,” he continued. “It extended beyond the usual church contexts. He seemed to sense when a parishioner or friend was in need of a cheery phone call.” In the classroom
    In the classroom

    Librarian Eleana Silk remembered, “Fr. Paul’s favorite phrase, when asked how he was, was always ‘never better, never better’.

    “He often came to use the library after he retired from teaching at St. Vladimir’s,” added Ms. Silk. “We were in the old building then, and the light was not very good in the (library) stacks, so he brought his own flashlight!”

    As a priest within the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America for 71 years, Fr. Paul served as the first chairman of its Department of Christian Education, as dean of the Atlantic Deanery, and as the first editor of The WORD magazine. A tireless advocate for Orthodox unity in America, Fr. Paul worked under the direction of hierarchs Metropolitan Antony Bashir (+1966) and Metropolitan Philip Saliba (+2014), as the Archdiocese’s Ecumenical Officer.

    Faculty in 1958 at Union Seminary: back row, (l to r) Boris Ledkovsky, Fr. Paul Schneirla, Veselin Kesich, Archimandrite Dr. Firmilian, Nicholas Ozerov; front row: Sophie Koulomzin, Alexander Bogolepov, Fr. Schmemann, Nicholas Arseniev, Serge Verhovskoy
    Faculty in 1958 at Union Seminary: back row, (l to r) Boris Ledkovsky, Fr. Paul Schneirla, Veselin Kesich, Archimandrite Dr. Firmilian, Nicholas Ozerov; front row: Sophie Koulomzin, Alexander Bogolepov, Fr. Schmemann, Nicholas Arseniev, Serge Verhovskoy
    A charter member of the Orthodox-Anglican, Orthodox-Roman Catholic, and Orthodox-Polish Catholic ecumenical dialogues, Fr. Paul had been a member of the General Board of the National Council of Churches (NCCC) since the 1940s and was the last surviving member of the original founders of The Standing Conference of the Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas (SCOBA). In 2007 SCOBA, the predecessor to the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America, recognized Fr. Paul in a December 10 resolution that cited his “lengthy and extraordinary” support for inter-Orthodox development and communication.

    As a young man, Fr. Paul had converted to Orthodox Christianity from a Protestant background. Years after his priestly ordination, his interest in the Western Rite was rekindled by a visit to a parish of that Rite within the Romanian Orthodox jurisdiction in Paris, France. Subsequently, he wrote and lectured extensively on the topic and encouraged Metropolitan Antony (Bashir) to allow its practice and Fr. Paul with Fr. Schmemann (left) and Bishop Iakavos (right)
    Fr. Paul with Fr. Schmemann (left) and Bishop Iakavos (right)
    development within suitable congregations. He also served as the Antiochian Archdiocese’s Western Rite Vicar General for many years.

    Father Paul was married for 70 years to Khouria Shirley, who reposed in 2012. The couple were parents of three children: Dorothy Downie Orrill and Peter Christian Schneirla, and the late William Sutfin Schneirla, Jr.

    The website of St. Mary’s Church notes that “In keeping with Fr. Paul’s express wishes, his children, Dorothy Orrill and Peter C. Schneirla, have arranged for private services on Wednesday, September 24. Burial will occur at Woodlawn Cemetery in Bronx, NY, where his beloved wife, Shirley, and their son William are interred. His Grace John, Auxiliary Bishop of Worcester and New England and the Episcopal Overseer of the Western Rite, will preside at his services, along with Fr. Michael Ellias, Fr. Thomas Zain, and Fr. Robert Stephanopoulos.”

    • Sean Richardson says

      Timothy; thank you for posting this memorial and biography. I had the pleasure of meeting Fr. Paul on several occasions and found him straight-forward, honest and humorous. His approach to Orthodoxy was refreshing and a bit controversial, but always thoughtful and caring. I loved his deep laugh and his constant wit. He was a great man. One thing that was noted to me by others, was that Fr. Paul was the one person who knew the history of the Orthodox Church in the USA in the 20th century and he “knew where all of the bodies were hidden”. Oh the stories he could have told (yes, I heard one or two).

  2. Honestly, I don’t think most Protestants even think much about the Orthodox, which is a shame.

    • Tim R Mortiss says

      True, mostly because they know absolutely nothing about Orthodoxy. And those that do, mostly think that it is restricted to certain ethnicities only.

      I often wonder whether there would be more than 10 or so Protestant “converts” (itself a problematic word) to Orthodoxy in all of North America, if Timothy Ware had not written his book, and if Frs. Schmemann and Meyendorf had not written a few things…..

    • Sean Richardson says

      Generally I have met very few Protestants who know much, if anything, about Orthodoxy. When they read and hear about it, they are usually quite impressed and find the approach refreshing and uplifting. There is so much in Orthodoxy that is attractive to a Protestant thinker, but alas, there is also a great deal in Orthodox practice in this country that puts them off. As Orthodox, we need to do more to reach those who are searching.

      • My experience is exactly the opposite. Most serious Protestants (I think serious Protestantism in the U.S. is largely dominated by the Reformed Baptist perspective) would probably claim that Orthodoxy teaches “works based salvation” and “superstition” which is what they say about Roman Catholicism.

        • Ashley Nevins says

          Ambiguous. How are the Orthodox to go about in a practical real world effective way to reach outside of themselves with relevancy that reaches people? What would the jurisdiction, diocese and parish have to do to make that happen? Is there something about the Orthodox structure and system of rule that is keeping that relevancy outreach from effectively taking place? Is there something in the Orthodox WAY of thinking that keeps that relevancy from becoming a reality? What is in the WAY? If you need to be doing more and you are not then why not? Please the lists the reasons why not and their solution.

          The Orthodox in America are practical real world Christians who want solutions and not just talk about what they need to be doing more of and then it is not listed. They are after all Gods only true church and truth is not ambiguous. They are much more spiritually mature, wise and intelligent than that. They don’t talk in ambiguity or go in circles. They always find and go straight line to solution to stay relevant in the society and generation they are found in.

          No offense intended, but where have you Orthodox been? Orthodoxy seeks relevancy and not ambiguity. Ambiguity is irrelevancy.

          Personally, I have never seen ambiguity lead to effectiveness or relevancy. Then again, I see what ambiguity as vision, strategy and plan has brought down on the EOC in America. So, maybe you are being very Orthodox consistent in your ambiguity. In other words, you must believe that ambiguity is the solution to the dying state of Orthodoxy in America.

          I am a Pro-test-ant asking you if that is the best solution you got? You will find that we often ask thinking for yourself questions that require a objective clear answer that is not ambiguous. You see, we are of the Great Commission and do not omit Christ in that. We are evangelical like Jesus was and He was not ambiguous like Gods word the Gospels and NT are not either.

          Yes, just how are you going to reach us to convert us considering the true state of Orthodoxy in America? Nothing ambiguous about its true state and the message it is sending us. My question is, have the Orthodox got the message they are sending to us themselves?

        • Ashley Nevins says

          They would probably most likely say that along with your church being corrupt, failed, irrelevant, abusive and dying once the got below the surface of it and took the hard thinking for yourself objective look. They will reject it and/or ignore it for other reasons once they understand its state of corruption and failure and why it is in that state.

          America is freedom of religion and that means there are options that can be compared. How is the EOC in America doing in the comparison choice among options?

          I know from where they came from there really was no comparison choice among options and so it makes me wonder if they can compete effectively in freedom of religion options that are compared. For instance, the GO did not come here as the Great Commission and people notice things like that in a comparison between Christian options.

          No Great Commission = No Jesus Christ = A Terrible Option that any living for Christ Christian can see.

          That’s my read by comparison that is objective about Orthodoxy in America. Yes, I have an obvious bias. My church lives the Great Commission through Christ that it does not omit by omitting the Great Commission. Do I have a subjectively wrong bias about that and that is not being objective about what it sees? Am I being honest or critical spirit harsh?

        • Probably it is best to confront Protestant doctrines head on. Yes, we reject sola scriptura. Yes, by Protestant standards, we teach “works based salvation”. Yes, we are hierarchical, our bishops were given the power to bind and loose. Yes, we abide in Holy Tradition and reject any approach to the Bible that uses it against the rest of Tradition.

          No, Luther has nothing to offer or teach us. Yes, we venerate icons, which are not idols and which we do not worship as we do God. No, none of the Reformers have any authority in God’s Church. Yes, “believer’s baptism” is “unbiblical”. No, the Church is not” the invisible body of baptized Christians”. It is, rather, the Orthodox Church. No, sacraments purportedly served outside the Church do not convey grace. No, no orders administered outside the Church are valid – the pope is just another heterodox Christian.

          I could go on – but that is the Orthodox faith and it should either be accepted or rejected and not sugarcoated. Many Orthodox in America have created far too many problems by essentially misrepresenting the faith to converts and then, somehow, expecting them to behave as if they actually understood.

          Good salesmen, terrible evangelists.

    • Ashley Nevins says

      This is what Protestants understand about the EOC:

      1. Top down authoritarian structure rule power and control.

      2. Closed, isolated, segregated and subjective system.

      3. Self righteous We Are Gods only True Church mentality.

      4. Church/state is not freedom of religion

      5. Foreign rule

      6. Anti modernity, rational and western mindset.

      7. Not Great Commission based.

      8. Ethnocentric exclusiveness.

      9. Cover up, secrets, hiding, spinning and lying.

      10. Incompetent, corrupt and dysfunctional church administration.

      Once the rational Christian sees these problems, the spirit tested, the rational Christian walks the other direction.

      Face it, Orthodox your church is corrupt, failed, irrelevant, abusive, cultic and dying in America. Your church in the reality of the real rational objective world is anti Christianity. Its outcome proves it is anti itself and it calls itself the only true form of Christianity on the planet. A closed system implodes subjectively inward upon itself and your church in open system America freedom of religion is imploding by church death and it is not exploding by church growth.

      Jesus Christ simply did not come to us as church/state authoritarian power and control. He did not come to us living in an isolated compound, in a cave, on a rock or in a tree. That would be a closed subjective Christ when Jesus is open objective. He did not come to us as rigid legalism tradition that has an exclusive viewpoint of itself that closes. That is not transparent or accountable. He came to us as a open inclusive freedom in Christ living relationship that paradigm shifts to relevancy. He came as transformation and not dead religion. If you design a church around the mindset I outline here that church will surely die over time.

      All of this Orthodox talk about the church outside of it does not realize what the church outside of it really sees about the EOC objectively. They don’t have a misconception. They have the conception the Orthodox give them. Period.

      Yes, George, keep making the Russian Church vs. the local multiplicity of ministry Saddleback Church comparison and tell us how Christian Russia is in comparison to the USA. Use that as your evangelism strategy to American Protestants. Think foreign rule, church/state, hierarchical power and control, systemic corruption and tradition is the paradigm shift to relevancy in America that will reach those lost heretic apostasy practicing Protestants. In fact, be sure to tell them they are heresy practicing apostasy in comparison to how God right you do church and then believe they will not see how wrong the outcome of your church really is.

      Don’t think how can we translate Christianity into a western, modern and relevant context. Think how can we turn the Protestants into our eastern failure and what causes our failure in the west. Think that failure is superior to any Christianity found in the world today because the Orthodox say they are Gods only true church. Base the comparison on a stamp and not what is the real problem causing the failure of the Orthodox in freedom of religion competition. Focus on the micro stamp and completely miss the macro reason why your church is failed in America. Turn inward with your subjectively exclusive church and believe that is an outward expression of the Great Commission come to us in America as the only true Christian Gospel.

      Authoritarian closed religion vs. Open freedom in Christ freedom of religion is your only strategy in America. It is adversarial by legalistic single dimension self righteous we alone are God right and you are wrong in comparison to us. The bottom line here is that Orthodoxy fails in freedom of religion options. It cannot compete. It is really only relevant to itself. Your church is dying in a left behind paradigm that cannot paradigm to relevancy in the society and generation it is found in. I have spelled out the reasons why and so now we alone are Gods only true church deny them. Don’t be wrong about yourselves for how right you see your exclusive selves and in your being right don’t paradigm shift to Christian relevancy that is Christ in the Gospels. Believe that just being the EOC is the paradigm shift that all Christians and churches must shift too to become relevant and right before the Lord.

      Yes, George, let your eastern Greek and Russian Patriarchs be your role model and guide to relevancy development in WESTERN America and the world today like in China that is the largest Great Commission field the world has ever seen. Focus inward in America where you are a failure and when American evangelicals are focused outward on China and where they are seeing exponential growth, the new eastern church.

      You are so irrelevant that you believe this is the Orthodox century for America and when it is the Christian century for the far east. Yes, tell us how the ROC brought the Berlin Wall down. Explain to us how church/state Greece is not the most corrupt country in the EU. Give us ten reasons why the EOC is going to see success in America and in places like China. Tell us how bottom up and open system Christianity is inferior to top down and closed system Orthodoxy.

      Any negative viewpoint America Christians have about the Orthodox is the result of the Orthodox themselves forming that viewpoint. They see it as dead institutionalized authoritarian religion. If it was alive they would see that life, but instead they see the corruption and failure of the two largest jurisdictions and all the rambling of those who are involved in this corrupt and failed church that is all circular talk that cannot find a direct line to solution. Some of your solutions are worse than the problems you face, like OCL more centralized authoritarian power and control, but no one can tell Gods only true Christians what is the real cause of their failure for how right of a viewpoint before God that they have of themselves.

      There is no easy way of telling you the difficult truth of your failure. It is not Orthodox beautiful beyond comparison. It is horrific and depressing if the Orthodox were to be really objectively intellectually and spiritually honest about it. You are destroying the Bride of Christ right before your eyes and the best you can do to stop it is circular going no where powerless talk about the problems. Not only is the reality of it harsh it is also denied by Gods only true Christians who cannot be wrong making the telling you of why it is has all gone wrong that more difficult.

      Pride goes before the fall and you are fallen by we alone are right pride. Your authoritarian power and control and exclusiveness is your end. Orthodox, you are ending by a slow, ugly and painful death and you have no solution. Your failure is telling you that you must completely reevaluate how you structure church authority, conduct ministry and then redesign your church so that it can paradigm shift to new life in relevancy change. It is telling you either reform or die. That is the reality of it and it is not easy for Gods only true Christians to believe for how right they see their structure of rule in their church. The paradigm shift of modernity has already taken place and you church will not make the shift and so it dies. All of you comments, opinions, arguments and concerns are circular and moot if the EOC cannot paradigm shift to relevancy in the society and generation it is found in.

      The authoritarian power and control structure of rule renders all of you concerned about the future of your church powerless to stop its implosion. All you have left is powerless talk that cannot provide a in the power of Jesus Christ solution. There is really no Priesthood of the Laity believer authority in your top down centralized authoritarian church and that is why you are powerless to find and apply solution. There is no healthy balance between laity and clergy authority and so it all goes authoritarian power and control corrupt without solution. You keep looking to the problem, the authoritarian rule structure, to provide the solution to the problem that is the authoritarian rule structure and you fail every time. Rational Christianity see that as irrational. The problem as the solution to the problem is irrational. Irrational is not relevancy to the rational Christian. That is #11 on the list of reasons why you are failed in America, irrational is not relevancy to a rational Christian.

      • Ashley:

        This is what Protestants understand about the EOC:

        1. Top down authoritarian structure rule power and control.

        2. Closed, isolated, segregated and subjective system.

        3. Self righteous We Are Gods only True Church mentality.

        4. Church/state is not freedom of religion

        5. Foreign rule

        6. Anti modernity, rational and western mindset.

        7. Not Great Commission based.

        8. Ethnocentric exclusiveness.

        9. Cover up, secrets, hiding, spinning and lying.

        10. Incompetent, corrupt and dysfunctional church administration.

        Ashley, this is what Orthodox understand about the EOC:

        1. Top down authoritarian structure rule power and control.

        2. Closed, isolated, segregated and subjective system.

        3. Self righteous We Are Gods only True Church mentality.

        4. Church/state is not freedom of religion

        5. Foreign rule

        6. Anti modernity, rational and western mindset.

        7. Not Great Commission based.

        8. Ethnocentric exclusiveness.

        9. Cover up, secrets, hiding, spinning and lying.

        10. Incompetent, corrupt and dysfunctional church administration.

      • I’m very amused, Ashley. I am resisting the impulse to make a systematic reply since I think it would be fruitless – pearls before swine.

        What I will say is that episcopal rule has, so far, saved us from doctrinal democracy; that the Church has always understood itself from the earliest days as being one body called out and distinguished from other doctrinal confessions; and that an anti-Enlightenment mentality is highly praiseworthy in light of the decadence of Nazi Germany, Soviet Russia and modern America.

        I think probably that you would have to change many of your assumptions about what is fundamentally good and evil in the world in order to appreciate Orthodoxy. Yet the God we worship created the world in such a way that evidence for His Church is ubiquitous.

        Go in peace. Pursue your brand of Christianity, if that is your flavor today. Perhaps we will see you again in 10 or 20 years. We are always here, even to the end of the age.

        Oh, one more thing, it is interesting that you have picked up on the polemics of the “autocephaly now” crew as part of your attack on the Church. That is a fitting testament to them.

      • Mr. Nevins,

        What’s the latest on your “might sue”/lawsuit against the GOARCH?

    • Protestants Reimaging Themselves says

      Got this at the National Cathedral website. Not only do Protestants fail to understand or imagine Orthodoxy, they are apparently still in the process of changing their own image. It seems we can send a question to their committee, too. See below

      TREC: Task Force for Reimagining the Episcopal Church

      This church-wide meeting of the Episcopal Church examines structures, governance, and administration. Presenters and participants include: the Very Rev. Craig Loya, the Rt. Rev. Michael Curry, the Rev Jennifer Adams, The Rev. Dr. Dwight Zscheile, Ms. Margaret Shannon, Ms. Katy George, Mr. Dennis Sullivan, The Rev. Miguelina Howell, The Rev. Kevin Nichols, The Rev. Jennifer Adams, Canon Judith Conley, The Rev Leng Lim, Mr. Thomas Little, The Rt. Rev. Sean Rowe, Ms. Sarah Miller.

      Webcast question and comments will be taken by: email at or by Twitter at #reimaginetec

      Webcast will be provided in English and, via translation, in Spanish.

  3. Michael Kinsey says

    I listened to this twice, with pen and paper the second time, so I could refer to all the points made in this program that needed comment..Visionaries are a dime a dozen on TBN.. There is a CFR agenda to again to make Russia appear an enemy, which TBN obviously is touting. It is not surprising they attempt to reach an Orthodox audience Nor is Benny Hinn’s curse on all enemies of his ministry. Benny ate the fruit of the tree of good and evil and acts as God, cursing his enemies, rather than bless them as commanded by the Christ.
    His appeal for a return to a righteousness of a sort, that always denied source, in deed, but spoke as a lamb , at least in our Constitution is absurd. The only breath of freedom in Truth lasted a few days between, when the civil rights legislation was passed and the Vietnam draft was enacted. Slavery, Jim Crow, and economic exploitation ran this country. Adding new, and obvious wars of resource acquisition in blatant aggression. Then adding abortion, . This is the line of no return, father delivering up the son unto death.
    I saw R. Wermbrant in Portland at a sermon he gave. At first glance, he looked like and old convict, it seemed he still suffered from his imprisonment. But his spirit when speaking of Christianity soared in a visible joy, not faked, but real. His faith had triumphed, his tone was one of victory in Christ.. A most impressive Christian witness, at least to me.
    It would require the friendship demonstrated by the hobbits, in the LOTR, which needs daily interaction, at first, where the trustworthiness is well established. Greater love hath no man , than he lay down his life for his friends. Only Operation Rescue members ever extended this quality of relationship towards me. My experience of Orthodox congregations and the HOOM is quite the opposite. I was their friend, for my part. Still, there are some who genuinely serve Jesus Christ..
    As a man thinks, so is he. God made them male and female. There is no latent tendency toward homosexuality, if you trust in God.. He did n;t put there, to begin with. Only those who love for bread alone and disregard God and man suffer from the demonic instigation’s of the perverse.
    Let the judgement come. It is exceedingly difficult to walk around spiritual Sodom and Gomorrah, where every other person you meet is a practicing murderer. I remember being 18, and was deceived into believing we were a country where freedom based in Truth as practiced and abortion never even crossed my mind, never heard of it. I did not know of any homosexual people until I was sent to California, by the Navy. I felt really free, for about 2 months. after I graduated from high school.

  4. Tim R. Mortiss says

    I’ve certainly tried many explanations for Protestants. As all no doubt know, one of the quickest is “we’re somewhat similar to the Catholics, without the Pope and with married priests”. This usually draws a positive response. A married priesthood is good public relations these days…..

    Catholics tend to have some idea about what the Orthodox are; not so much Protestants. A good friend of mine from my lifelong Presbyterian church with whom I had discussed my move to Orthodoxy, both before and after it happened this Spring, was comforted when I assured her it was Christian, to her worried question…..which only came well after the end of the process! I am afraid I had rather taken it for granted that she understood that……

    • Sean Richardson says

      Tim; it is difficult, at times, to briefly articulate what the difference is between the Orthodox Church and the many denominations. One often has to complete the presentation in a few sentences, in maybe a minute or two. The two approaches I use are: Whereas the West emphasizes the sinfulness of mankind, the Orthodox adhere to the command “Be perfect as your Father in Heaven is perfect” and the Orthodox believe it is possible; I also harken back to the name the Orthodox follow, the proper way of worship. Given time, with an evangelical or conservative, I also add that since the Orthodox Church began with Christ, and is unbroken in Tradition, it is the body of believers who compiled the Bible. If we can just get protestants to think in new ways, there are always possibilities.

      • Ashley Nevins says

        Honestly, I do not see how there are possibilities of turning bottom up and open system Christians into top down and closed system Christians. Unbroken tradition was also relevant to those Christ confronted in the Gospels. If you compiled the Bible why is your church from a Biblical standpoint corrupt, failed, irrelevant and dying? That is a fair question. I ask tough, but fair questions of the Orthodox. If you want us to think in new ways then change the corrupt and failed way your church operates to Christ the only way to operate. Yes, please explain to me how unrepentant systemic corruption is the only God right and proper way to worship God.

        • Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

          All these unsupported assertions proffered by Mr. Ashley, if repeated often enough, might just be enough to drive a young sensitive person to hopelessness and suicide, imho.

        • You do not ask questions. You make ignorant accusations and attacks. As such, you do not deserve an answer. But even if we were to offer one, your value system has been so corrupted by American, democratic, feel-good, ahistorical pseudo-Christianity that even patient explanation would only invite more ignorant ridicule based on a fundamentally unchristian ideology.

          You are not here to learn, just to preach a lie. A wolf of sorts. Now that we understand each other, perhaps your attitude will change. If not, you will make no progress; only wallow in the filth in which you would trample the pearls of Christ.

      • Steve Knowlton says

        It is exactly right that in most situations, you have but 2-3 sentences, and that assumes that your protestant friend is the slightest bit interested in our church. That’s all the time a Protestant has for this, because they don’t believe in “churches” to start with. If you start to talk about bishops and how we view power differently than in Rome, you’ve lost them. Note how the eyes fog over, the throat convulses to form a yawn. Tell them your church is based in Damascus or Moscow or that it’s based on the ecumenical councils and they will have a similar reaction as when we walk by a cheap pawn shop, because they do not value foreign leaders and history — to them — is a trap. See above quotes by Mr. Nevins.

        Hold your nose and tell them; “We’re bible-based Catholics.” If they’re interested they’ll react, and if not you will have only wasted a second or two.

        Remember you have a sentence and a single sentence about a vast topic will nearly always maul the truth.

        • Michael Bauman says

          Steve: How about, we are incarnational, Pentecostal, evangelical, bible-believing, apostolic Christians who are washed in the Blood of the Lamb. Do you want to know the rest of the story?

          Of course every descriptive word means something entirely different to them than to us but, as you say, you don’t have much time.

          My son, when asked, states the Creed. Usually, they run away once he reaches the part about Mary. Those that stick around may have some interest. At that point he just invites them to come to Church with him.

          Another way is to ask them how they came to Christ, then listen. When they are finished, you can ask if you can share your story with them.

          • Tim R Mortiss says

            I like the “Bible-based Catholic” line…

            One thing I do point out is that in an Orthodox service, from Divine Liturgy to Vespers and other services, one will hear far more Scripture than in any Protestant service. This never fails to surprise.

      • Sean, In my brief years in the Orthodox Church I have heard more about sin than I ever heard in the western church I left. As a matter of fact I am constantly being reminded of my sinfulness. I don’t know what western churches you are talking about, but the ones I have encountered have stressed holy living coupled with education, both spiritual and secular, and serving the community. How many Orthodox schools and universities are there in the USA, for instance?

        Secondly, the first commandment in the Bible I use, NKJV, Jesus said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. ” Matthew 22: 37-39. If we move on to John 13:34, Jesus says, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” This one is a bit harder than the first.

        Hopefully in the process of fulfilling these two commandments we will be made as holy as one can get on this side. And it is God who makes us holy with our cooperation. We cannot perfect ourselves.

        ‘Loving God’ has for a long time been a thought provoking challenge for me. My heart seems so small and warped and selfish.

  5. Peter A. Papoutsis says

    More Christians not knowing their faith. Wow! Simply Wow!


  6. Peter A. Papoutsis says

    This is almost constantly going on over at the Huffington Post. Boy do they love us…NOT!


  7. How to “reach” people …
    Saint Seraphim of Sarov spoke best to this: “Save your own soul, and a thousand around you will be saved.” I first read this years ago.
    Also, many greatly successful mission efforts were undertaken by monastics, of which we have few in America, and some feel we should not have any at all …
    As I heard remarked recently, the increase of Orthodoxy will not come from any “Department of Evangelization and Mission.”

    • Monk James says

      M. Woerl (October 13, 2014 at 12:27 pm) says:

      How to “reach” people …
      Saint Seraphim of Sarov spoke best to this: “Save your own soul, and a thousand around you will be saved.” I first read this years ago.
      Also, many greatly successful mission efforts were undertaken by monastics, of which we have few in America, and some feel we should not have any at all …
      As I heard remarked recently, the increase of Orthodoxy will not come from any “Department of Evangelization and Mission.”


      Actually, St Seraphim said ‘Acquire the Spirit of Peace, and a thousand souls around you will be saved.’ A significant amount of spiritual counseling revolves around the concept of ‘acquisition of the Holy Spirit’ which is related to — yet different from — saving our own souls.

      While their importance cannot be denied and should not be minimized, our monastic missionary efforts over the centuries, especially in Russia and in russian-ruled territories, was incidental (not accidental) to the lives of hermits and ascetics and the communities which grew up around them in areas where there had not before been towns or any meaningful christian presence.

      In the wider orthodox and altogether christian experience, though, missionaries — both clergy and laity — went/were sent with blessings to preach the gospel and hope to convert people to Christ, occasionally at the cost of their own lives. These missions only occasionally involved monastic men and almost never monastic women. Consider the growth of Orthodoxy in Africa now, directly resulting from the missionaries sent out by the patriarchate of Alexandria.

      All these missions notwithstanding, it’s incumbent on us all to ‘let our light so shine that when people see us they will give glory to our Father in Heaven’. If we’re not all missionaries, preaching the gospel primarily by the good example of our lives and so drawing people to Christ, we’re somehow failing as Christians.

      It also must be acknowledged that — especially in North America — we have far too long relied on the ‘strawberry’ method of church growth, expecting that our invisible underground roots will reach far enough and get strong enough to cause new parishes to sprout. Truth be told, this is just so much wishful thinking, and such growth largely seems to happen only along ethnic lines.

      New parishes might better be established by a sort of mitosis or ‘cell division’: When a parish reaches the limits of its physical property, the people should do a study of their geographic positions, and start a new parish in a location most convenient for about half the present population. Of course, this is an ideal, a plan which can be implemented only if the parish is bursting at the seams.

      But if the parish is not growing, not bursting at the seams, not full of children and adults, all being seriously instructed in the faith, something is wrong and must be corrected before daring to start a daughter parish.

      But what is wrong? Are we brave enough to ask the painful questions of ourselves and our communities? How strong is our faith in Christ? Are we christian enough to share that faith, to ‘let our light shine’? Or are we bound by laziness, indifference, or — God help us — ‘political correctness’?

      All that said, I agree to some extent with M. Woerl’s interlocutor that bureaucratic departments and commissions won’t accomplish the task of missionizing to which we are all called, but it’s good to have some sort of structures to coordinate funding, scheduling, etc., so as to maximize our efficiency in the field when we send missionaries out among those who don’t yet know Christ.

  8. Peter A. Papoutsis says

    This keeps getting better and better. Why are we trying to unite with the RCC?

    Nice people, have no problem with them, but remember when the Anglicans went off the rails? We Orthodox didn’t stop them from doing that. How are we going to stop the RCC from its internal struggle and confusion?

    Also, the Unia issue has never been resolved:

    Noble attempts to turn this issue against the RCC were started by the Orthodox by creating our own unia called “The Western Rite” Orthodox, but I do not think this has done the damage to the RCC as the Unia did to the Orthodox Church.

    So where do we go from here?

    2 Thessalonians Ch.2

    [1] Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our assembling to meet him, we beg you, brethren,
    [2] not to be quickly shaken in mind or excited, either by spirit or by word, or by letter purporting to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come.
    [3] Let no one deceive you in any way; for that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of perdition,
    [4] who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God.
    [5] Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you this?
    [6] And you know what is restraining him now so that he may be revealed in his time.
    [7] For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains it will do so until he is out of the way.
    [8] And then the lawless one will be revealed, and the Lord Jesus will slay him with the breath of his mouth and destroy him by his appearing and his coming.
    [9] The coming of the lawless one by the activity of Satan will be with all power and with pretended signs and wonders,
    [10] and with all wicked deception for those who are to perish, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.
    [11] Therefore God sends upon them a strong delusion, to make them believe what is false,
    [12] so that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

    – Revised Standard Version

    I tried to stay quiet on this stuff but I just can’t. Its has gotten bad and will get worse. Thank goodness that God is in charge.

  9. Peter A. Papoutsis says

    The hits keep on coming:

    I understand what Rick Warren is saying, but some of the things he is saying and the way he is saying them leave much to be desired. Bottom line much less clarity and much more of the kumbaya stuff that get us as Christians in trouble when we start to compromise with the world.

    2 Thessalonians Ch.2 here we come or have we already arrived?


  10. Peter A. Papoutsis says

    This is now somewhat dated, but still very good points are made overall. Its always good to go back to the basics.

    The Royal Path
    True Orthodoxy in an Age of Apostasy
    Fr. Seraphim Rose

    As the Fathers say, the extremes from both sides are equally harmful … (We must) go on the royal path, avoiding the extremes on both sides. St. John Cassian, Conference II

    ORTHODOX CHRISTIANS live today in one of the great critical times in the history of Christ’s Church. The enemy of man’s salvation, the devil, attacks on all fronts and strives by all means not merely to divert believers from the path of salvation shown by the Church, but even to conquer the Church of Christ itself, despite the Saviour’s promise (Matt. 16:18), and to convert the very Body of Christ into an “ecumenical” organization preparing for the coming of his own chosen one, Antichrist, the great world-ruler of the last days.

    Of course, we know that this attempt of Satan will fail; the Church will be the Bride of Christ even to the end of the world and will meet Christ the Bridegroom at His Second Coming pure and undefiled by adulterous union with the apostasy of this age. But the great question of our times for all Orthodox Christians to face is a momentous one: the Church will remain, but how many of us will still be in it, having withstood the devil’s mighty attempts to draw us away from it?

    Our times are much like those of St. Mark of Ephesus in the 15th century, when it seemed that the Church was about to be dissolved into the impious Union with the Latins. Nay, our times are even worse and more dangerous than those times; for then the Union was an act imposed by force from without, while now the Orthodox people have been long prepared for the approaching “ecumenical” merger of all churches and religions by decades of laxness, indifference, worldliness, and indulgence in the ruinous falsehood that “nothing really separates us” from all others who call themselves Christians. The Orthodox Church survived the false Union of Florence, and even knew a time of outward prosperity and inward spiritual flourishing after that; but after the new false Union, now being pursued with ever-increasing momentum, will Orthodoxy exist at all save in the catacombs and the desert?

    During the past ten years and more, under the disastrous “ecumenical” course pursued by Patriarch Athenagoras and his successor, the Orthodox Churches have already come perilously close to total shipwreck. The newest “ecumenical” statement of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, “The Thyateira Confession” (see The Orthodox Word, Jan.-Feb., 1976), is already sufficient evidence of how far the Orthodox conscience has been lost by the Local Church that once was first among the Orthodox Churches in the confession of Christ’s truth; this dismal document only shows how close the hierarchs of Constantinople have now come to being absorbed into the heterodox “Christianity” of the West, even before the formal Union which is still being prepared.

    THE ROOTS of today’s ecumenism in the Orthodox Churches go back to the renovationism and modernism of certain hierarchs in the 1920’s. In the Russian Church, these currents produced, first, the “Living Church” movement which, with the help of the Communist regime, tried to overthrow Patriarch Tikhon and “reform” the Church in a radically Protestant manner, and then—as a more “conservative” successor to the “Living Church”—the Sergianist church organization (the Moscow Patriarchate), which emphasized at first the political side of reconciliation with Communist ideology and aims (in accordance with the infamous “Declaration” of Metropolitan Sergius in 1927), and only in recent decades has ventured once again into the realm of ecclesiastical renovationism with its active participation in the ecumenical movement. In the Greek Church the situation has been similar: the renovationist “Pan-Orthodox Council” of 1923, with its Protestant reforms inspired by Patriarch Meletios Metaxakis of sorry memory, proved to be too radical for the Orthodox world to accept, and the renovationists had to be satisfied with imposing a calendar reform on several of the non-Slavic Churches.

    Large movements of protest opposed the reformers in both the Russian and Greek Churches, producing the deep divisions which exist until now in the Orthodox world. In the Russian Church, Sergianism was decisively rejected by very many of the bishops and faithful, led by Metropolitan Joseph of Petrograd; this “Josephite” movement later became organized to some extent and became known as the “True Orthodox Church.” The history of this illegal “Catacomb” Church of Russia is, to this day, veiled in secrecy, but in the past few years a number of startling evidences of its present-day activities have come to light, leading to stern repressive measures on the part of the Soviet government. The name of its present chief hierarch (Metropolitan Theodosius) has become known, as has that of one of its ten or more bishops (Bishop Seraphim). In the Diaspora, the Russian Church Outside of Russia committed itself from the very beginning of Sergianism in 1927 to a firm anti-Sergianist position, and on numerous occasions it has expressed its solidarity with the True Orthodox Church in Russia, while refusing all communion with the Moscow Patriarchate. Its uncompromisingness and staunch traditionalism in this and other matters were not to the taste of several of the Russian hierarchs of Western Europe and America, who were more receptive to the “reform” currents in 20th-century Orthodoxy, and they separated themselves at various times from the Russian Church Outside of Russia, thus creating the present “jurisdictional” differences of the Russian Diaspora.

    In Greece the movement of protest, by a similar Orthodox instinct, likewise took the name of “True Orthodox Christians.” From the beginning in 1924 (when the calendar reform was introduced), this movement has been especially strong among the simple monks, priests and laymen of Greece; the first bishop to leave the State Church of Greece and join the movement was Metropolitan Chrysostomos of Florina, and today it continues its fully independent life and organization, comprising about one-fourth of all the Orthodox Christians of Greece, and perhaps one-half or more of all the monks and nuns. Although popularly known as the”old calendarists,” the True Orthodox Christians of Greece stand for a staunch traditionalism in Orthodox life and thought in general, viewing the calendar question merely as a first stage and a touchstone of modernism and reformism.

    As the “ecumenical” cancer eats more and more away at the remaining sound organs of the Orthodox Churches today, an increasing sympathy is being shown by the most sensitive members of the “official” Orthodox jurisdictions for the cause and the representatives of the anti-ecumenist, anti-reformist Churches of Russia, Greece, and the Diaspora. Some, seeing the “official” jurisdictions as now irrevocably set on a course of anti-orthodoxy, are abandoning them as sinking ships and joining the ranks of the True Orthodox Christians; others, still hoping for the restoration of an Orthodox course in world Orthodoxy, think it enough for now to express sympathy for the True Orthodox Christians or to protest boldly against the “reformist” mentality in the official jurisdictions. The ten years of anti-ecumenist epistles of Metropolitan Philaret, Chief Hierarch of the Russian Church Outside of Russia, have struck a responsive chord within a number of the Orthodox Churches, even if the “official” response to them has been largely silence or hostility.

    Today, more than at any other time in the 50-year struggle to preserve the Orthodox tradition in an age of apostasy, the voice of true and uncompromising Orthodoxy could be heard throughout the world and have a profound effect on the future course of the Orthodox Churches. Probably, indeed, it is already too late to prevent the renovationist “Eighth Ecumenical Council” and the “ecumenical” Union which lies beyond it; but perhaps one or more of the Local Churches may yet be persuaded to step back from this ruinous path which will lead to the final liquidation (as Orthodox) of those jurisdictions that follow it to the end; and in any case, individuals and whole communities can certainly be saved from this path, not to mention those of the heterodox who may still find their way into the saving enclosure of the true Church of Christ.

    IT IS OF CRITICAL importance, therefore, that this voice be actually one of true, that is, patristic Orthodoxy. Unfortunately, it sometimes happens, especially in the heat of controversy, that basically sound Orthodox positions are exaggerated on one side, and misunderstood on the other, and thus an entirely misleading impression is created in some minds that the cause of true Orthodoxy today is a kind of “extremism,” a sort of “right-wing reaction” to the prevailing “left-wing” course now being followed by the leaders of the “official” Orthodox Churches. Such a political view of the struggle for true Orthodoxy today is entirely false. This struggle, on the contrary, has taken the form, among its best representatives today—whether in Russia, Greece, or the Diaspora—of a return to the patristic path of moderation, a mean between extremes; this is what the Holy Fathers call the ROYAL PATH.

    The teaching of this “royal path” is set forth, for example, in the tenth of St. Abba Dorotheus’ Spiritual lnstructions, where he quotes especially the Book of Deuteronomy: Ye shall not turn aside to the right hand or to the left, but go by the royal path (Deut. 5:32, 17:11), and St. Basil the Great: “Upright of heart is he whose thought does not turn away either to excess or to lack, but is directed only to the mean of virtue.” But perhaps this teaching is most clearly expressed by the great Orthodox Father of the 5th century, St. John Cassian, who was faced with a task not unlike our own Orthodox task today: to present the pure teaching of the Eastern Fathers to Western peoples who were spiritually immature and did not yet understand the depth and subtlety of the Eastern spiritual doctrine and were therefore inclined to go to extremes, either of laxness or over-strictness, in applying it to life. St. Cassian sets forth the Orthodox doctrine of the royal path in his Conference on “sober-mindedness” (or “discretion”)—the Conference praised by St. John of the Ladder (Step 4:105) for its “beautiful and sublime philosophy”:

    “With all our strength and with all our effort we must strive by humility to acquire for ourselves the good gift of sober-mindedness, which can preserve us unharmed by excess from both sides. For, as the Fathers say, the extremes from both sides are equally harmful—both excess of fasting and filling the belly, excess of vigil and excessive sleep, and other excesses.” Sobermindedness “teaches a man to go on the royal path, avoiding the extremes on both sides: on the right side it does not allow him to be deceived by excessive abstinence, on the left side to be drawn into carelessness and relaxation.” And the temptation on the “right side” is even more dangerous than that on the “left”: “Excessive abstinence is more harmful than satiating oneself; because, with the cooperation of repentance, one may go over from the latter to a correct understanding, but from the former one cannot” (i.e., because pride over one’s “virtue” stands in the way of the repentant humility that could save one). (Conferences, II, chs. 16, 2, 17.)

    Applying this teaching to our own situation, we may say that the “royal path” of true Orthodoxy today is a mean that lies between the extremes of ecumenism and reformism on the one side, and a “zeal not according to knowledge” (Rom. 10:2) on the other. True Orthodoxy does not go “in step with the times” on the one hand, nor does it make “strictness” or “correctness” or “canonicity” (good in themselves) an excuse for pharisaic self-satisfaction, exclusivism, and distrust, on the other. This true Orthodox moderation is not to be confused with mere luke-warmness or indifference, or with any kind of compromise between political extremes. The spirit of “reform” is so much in the air today that anyone whose views are molded by the “spirit of the times” will regard true Orthodox moderation as dose to “fanaticism,” but anyone who looks at the question more deeply and applies the patristic standard will find the royal path to be far from any kind of extremism. Perhaps no Orthodox teacher in our own days provides such an example of sound and fervent Orthodox moderation as the late Archbishop Averky of Jordanville; his numerous articles and sermons breathe the refreshing spirit of true Orthodox zealotry, without any deviation either to the “right” or to the “left,” and with emphasis constantly on the spiritual side of true Orthodoxy. (See especially his article, “Holy Zeal,” in The Orthodox Word, May-June, 1975.)

    THE RUSSIAN CHURCH Outside of Russia has been placed, by God’s Providence, in a very favorable position for preserving the “royal path” amidst the confusion of so much of 20th-century Orthodoxy. Living in exile and poverty in a world that has not understood the suffering of her people, she has focused her attention on preserving unchanged the faith which unites her people, and so quite naturally she finds herself a stranger to the whole ecumenical mentality, which is based on religious indifference and self-satisfaction, material affluence, and soulless internationalism. On the other hand, she has been preserved from falling into extremism on the “right side” (such as might be a declaration that the Mysteries of the Moscow Patriarchate are without grace) by her vivid awareness that the Sergianist church in Russia is not free; one can of course have no communion with such a body, dominated by atheists, but precise definitions of its status are best left to a free Russian church council in the future. If there seems to be a “logical contradiction” here (“if you don’t deny her Mysteries, why don’t you have communion with her?”), it is a problem only for rationalists; those who approach church questions with the heart as well as the head have no trouble accepting this position, which is the testament bequeathed to he Russian Church of the Diaspora by her wise Chief Hierarch, Metropolitan Anastassy (+1965).

    Living in freedom, the Russian Church Outside of Russia has considered as one of her important obligations to express her solidarity and full communion with the underground True Orthodox Church of Russia, whose existence is totally ignored and even denied by “official” Orthodoxy. In God’s time, when the terrible trial of the Russian Church and people will have passed, the other Orthodox Churches may understand the Russian Church situation better; until then, it is perhaps all one can hope for that the free Orthodox Churches have never questioned the right of the Russian Church Outside of Russia to exist or denied the grace of her Mysteries, almost all of them have long remained in communion with her (until her non-participation in the ecumenical movement isolated her and made her a reproach to the other Churches, especially in the last decade), and up to this day they have (at least passively) resisted the politically-inspired attempts of the Moscow Patriarchate to have her declared “schismatic” and “uncanonical.”

    In recent years, the Russian Church Outside of Russia has also given support and recognition to the True Orthodox Christians of Greece, whose situation also has long been exceedingly difficult and misunderstood. In Greece the first blow against the Church (the calendar reform) was not as deadly as the “Declaration” of Metropolitan Sergius in Russia, and for this reason it has taken longer for the theological consciousness of the Orthodox Greek people to see its full anti-orthodox significance. Further, few bishops in Greece have been bold enough to join the movement (whereas, by contrast, the number of non-Sergianist bishops in the beginning was larger than the whole episcopate of the Greek Church). And only in recent years has the cause of the old calendarists become even a little “intellectually respectable,” as more and more university graduates have joined it. Over the years it has suffered persecutions, sometimes quite fierce, from the State and the official Church, and to this day it remains disdained by the “sophisticated” and totally without recognition from the “official” Orthodox world. Unfortunately, internal disagreements and divisions have continued to weaken the cause of the old calendarists, and they lack a single unanimous voice to express their stand for patristic Orthodoxy. Still, the basic Orthodoxy of their position cannot be denied, and one can only welcome such sound presentations of it as may be seen in the article that follows [in the issue of TOW—Webmaster].

    The increasing realization in recent years of the basic oneness of the cause of True Orthodoxy throughout the world, whether in the Catacomb Church of Russia, the old calendarists of Greece, or the Russian Church Outside of Russia, has led some to think in terms of a “united front” of confessing Churches to oppose the ecumenical movement which has taken possession of “official” Orthodoxy. However, under present conditions this will hardly come to pass; and in any case, this is a “political” view of the situation which sees the significance of the mission of true Orthodoxy in too external a manner. The full dimensions of the True-Orthodox protest against “ecumenical Orthodoxy”, against the neutralized, lukewarm Orthodoxy of the apostasy, have yet to be revealed, above all in Russia. But it cannot be that the witness of so many martyrs and confessors and champions of True Orthodoxy in the 20th century will have been in vain. May God preserve His zealots in the royal path of true Orthodoxy, faithful to Him and to His Holy Church until the end of the age!

    From The Orthodox Word, Sept.-Oct., 1976 (70), 143-149.

    POINT OF CLARIFICATION The True Greek Orthodox Church and the Russian Orthodox Church in Exile and the Romanian and Bulgarian Old Calendar Churches are now united and now speak with one voice.

  11. Peter A. Papoutsis says
  12. Peter A. Papoutsis says

    It would seem that Modern Protestantism is become more and more confused, which means its becoming more and more irrelevant.


  13. Peter A. Papoutsis says

    Could this be the nail in the coffin for the Ecumenical Movement?

    Let’s see? Let’s also pray that it is because the West is dropping like flies. We Orthodox just need to hang on and not compromise and catch them as they fall and bring them into the true Church. For all the in fighting we do here on Monomakhos there are very, very few here that are heretical Orthodox. Let’s keep it this way.


  14. Peter A. Papoutsis says

    Finally we Christian Parents are so wrong about how we treated our Gay son, and we at HuffPost need to tell you about it.


  15. Michael Bauman says

    Since when did Huffington Post become a theological organ of the modernist magisterium– surely not by accident.

    “Give me that new time religion.If its good enough for HuffPo its good enough for me”