Monday, August 24, 2009

Fearless Faithful

Commendation to Jason Barker for signing his name to his thoughtful article:

The Antiochian crisis and its resemblance to cultic thought and action.

Jason has joined the ever increasing number of Fearless Faithful Antiochian laymen and clergy who are realizing the merits of this quote from the King of Jerusalem in the movie The Kingdom of Heaven:
"You see, none of us choose our end, really. The King may move a man, a father may claim a son, but remember that, even when those who move you be kings or men of power, your soul is in your keeping alone. When you stand before God, you cannot say, 'But I was told by others to do thus, or that virtue was not convenient at the time'. This will not suffice.”

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

"Watered Down Orthodoxy"

Actually the post title is a misnomer. There is no such thing as Watered Down Orthodoxy. Orthodoxy is Orthodox. If water is added then it ceases to be Orthodox at all.

In my two posts Why We Left...Where We Went and Do Orthodox And Baptists Have A "Similarity of Beliefs", I included discussion about the fact that the Antiochian Diocese, under Metropolitan Philip, had left adherence to the doctrines, traditions and Canons of the faith especially where it comes to the reception of converts. I mentioned that the prevailing contemporary attitude was "Come on in your water is fine", in that my family was not baptized nor even asked to show a certificate of our Southern Baptist baptism. I also pointed out that priests in the Antiochian Diocese were not consistent in their reception of converts, notably the fact that one priest in California required his former Charismatic Episcopal converts to be baptized while my local receiving priest did not. I have been the subject of sharp rebuke especially from those who feel that I have "besmirched" our former priest and "brought shame" upon our local congregation by severing our communion with Antioch while providing a statement as to why we have done so. With this in mind, I was particularly interested to see A Letter From A Sad Khouriya in which the wife of an Antiochian Priest reveals,

"Metropolitan Philip asked, in his address of the General Assembly if he betrayed us by welcoming the Evangelical Orthodox Church into the Archdiocese. As one of those former EOC members, I believe that he did betray us. Not by his encouraging us to join ourselves to the true and historical Church, but by not preparing us to truly be Orthodox. He did not prepare us for Holy Chrismation and even Ordination. None of us, that I know of, were even asked to go to confession before our chrismations. The priests and deacons were not even confessed before their ordinations. Was this an act of love and great vision? Is it loving and commendable to endanger people’s souls in this way? What kind of precedence did that convey? That confession is not important, that we don’t need to prepare ourselves to receive the blessed sacraments of the Church? The Metropolitan did not give us sponsors to help us along the road of actually becoming Orthodox. He gave us watered-down Orthodoxy."
So has this Khouriya "besmirched" or "brought shame" or is she also recognizing the Heresy of Ecumenism into which she and thousands of other Converts have been birthed? Perhaps it is the Metropolitan and the priests in communion with him who have besmirched and shamed the Church of Christ by participating in and allowing such deviation from the Faith.

It is time for the Converts of Antioch to stop defending their jurisdiction and start defending the Faith of Our Fathers. Start with following the biblical and canonical guidelines which would call for the deposing of a heretic such as Philip Saliba. Would someone, anyone, have the courage to rise up and shout, "Depose!"?

"As we walk the unerring and life-bringing path, let us pluck out the eye that scandalizes us, not the physical eye but the noetic one. For example, if a bishop who in the eyes of the Church conduct himself in an evil manner and scandalize the people, he must be plucked out. For it is more profitable to gather without him in a house of prayer, than to be cast together with him into the gehenna of fire together with Annas and Caiaphas." Saint Athanasius The Great

Once having plucked out the scandalizing bishop, go back to where the axe head fell into the water. Be baptized by triple immersion in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. This water is not the watered down kind but the Sacrament that you were denied and that which will remit all sins.

Can't We All Just Get Along?

No, we can't all just get along and we are not all supposed to get along. What does it mean to "get along" anyway? Christ loved but did not accept the sin of those who rejected the truth. Likewise, we are to love but not to accept, commune, nor pray with those who call themselves Orthodox yet believe heresies or commune with heretics. This is not mere "opinion" up for debate. It is the Faith of Our Fathers and confirmed in the Councils. The contemporary idea that we can have differences of doctrine and tradition and still be unified as authentic Orthodox is patently false and purely Ecumenism. See the words of the Church:

Friday, August 14, 2009

"I'm Stokacus!"

In light of Antiochian Metropolitan Philip's failed attempt to blackmail the OCA into silencing and punishing the website, Orthodox Christians For Accountability,

JTO publicly supports the ongoing effort of the website
and of the web author, Mark Stokoe, by proclaiming,

"I'm Stokacus!"

TO: Mark Stokoe:

Remember that the name Stokoe means a person whose profession is "felling trees or removing stumps". The bigger they are the harder they fall. Keep chopping and digging!

"Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for my sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you."

TO: Metropolitan Philip:

"Shepherd the flock that is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock; and when the Chief Shepherd appears you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away"

TO: The Silent Antiochian Clergy:

"For I have been crucified with Christ yet nevertheless I live, yet is not I who live but Christ who lives in me and the life that I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me...for me to live is Christ and to die is gain."

"For the Lord has not given me the spirit of fear but of power and of love and of a sound mind."


Thursday, August 13, 2009

Prayer For A Soldier

JTO readers may remember the posting of letters from one of our brave soldiers fighting in Iraq. The series of five letters ( 1 2 3 4 5 ) written from the field of battle were inspirational as this Christian Soldier came face to face with his own mortality and saw the hand of God at work in every situation. We all prayed for the safe return of Sergeant Daniel Nuoffer and God answered our prayers. Sergeant Nuoffer returned safely from his second tour in Iraq, married a single mother of two young children becoming a father and husband. The very week Daniel brought his new wife and children to his base in Alaska he was rushed to the hospital in great pain. He was diagnosed with abdominal cancer.

I received a call from Daniel today. He was in the middle of his second round of Chemotherapy. His hopes are high but so is the pain he is enduring. I asked for Daniel's permission to post this prayer request. Please pray for his healing and also pray for his new wife and young children.

I will keep you posted on the new battle that this brave soldier is fighting. Perhaps when he feels stronger he will send new letters from the front.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Is "Official Orthodoxy" that big? Is True Orthodoxy that small?

Subdeacon Joseph Suaiden has posted a brief but profound article on his BLOG, Reredos (Formerly the Blog Let Us Attend Apologetics), in which expands on the JTO article "I'm No Mathematician"

"An American convert and recently awakened to True Orthodoxy, Nathan Lee Lewis, has finally put some numbers to what I've long suspected-- contrary to official claims, the "official" Church in America ISN'T that big. By comparison, it's fair to say that if there are 120 True Orthodox parishes in America (the number in my directory) that we make up 8-10% of the total of the Orthodox population in America. Something to consider!"
In simple language. The true and Genuine Orthodox Churches are not small, insignificant little rebellious, uncanonical communities cowering in a dark corner of their pseudo-orthodox deception. They are 8-10 percent of the total parishes in the USA alone. The percentages are larger in countries abroad. 
"We are in the end times and the anti-Christ is in the world. We are quickly moving to a One World Government and its tool the One World Church. A new United Nations religion now accompanies the World Council of Churches in its effort to bring all global religious movements under one jurisdictional head. This Anti-Christ religion will promote great persecution to the elect. This is not a scenario for days afar off but we are in those days now.
 "As host of the U.N.'s Millennium Peace Summit of Religious and Spiritual Leaders, Jain told an international meeting of 1,000 delegates that religions need to accept the validity of all beliefs to attain world peace. The summit, the first of its kind to be sponsored by the United Nations, was held in New York City Aug. 28-31 just before political leaders gathered for the U.N. Millennium Assembly. The timing was perfect, says Jain, as it allowed religious leaders to update their political counterparts on how to usher in the peace of the new world order through religious universalism...So what is the objective here? Is it religious tolerance, unification or subversion of religious faith? Jain tells Insight that he looks forward to a day when religious people no longer insist on a single truth."
Two things will happen as this world takeover becomes more obvious. Some Orthodox people will remain in the system as it divorces Christ and becomes the bride of the Prince of this World. They will be like a Frog in Boiling Water. Others will flee this anti-Christ system and find the True and Genuine Churches which are even now preparing to receive them. There is a ground swell increasing of mission efforts by the True and Genuine Churches as local missions are springing up across the USA and the world. Many of these local missions are not initiated by a church planting committee of a specific Genuine or True diocese but by individual Orthodox faithful from all jurisdictions of World Orthodoxy who desire communion with the Bishops who have remained true to the faith of our fathers. 
The True and Genuine Churches will always be smaller than World Orthodoxy. Follow those who are being persecuted by the World Orthodox Churches and you will find the remnant of True and Genuine believers. Watch the World Orthodox Churches continue to validate, defend and promote the authenticity of other religions, even those who are non-Christian, while violently condemning, attacking, maligning the True and Genuine Orthodox groups shouting, "Non canonical! Non canonical!" It is the spirit of this world infusing himself in the adulterated bride. 
If the Hierarchs are participants of the anti-Christ movement then the local parish is also for the local parish is the Bishop and Metropolitan it commemorates. There are only two choices given in scripture and in the Canons of the Church. Depose the heretics or remove yourselves from them."

"Choose ye this day whom you will serve"


List of Genuine or True Orthodox Churches
(Thanks to Reredos BLOG)
True Orthodox Church of Greece under Abp Chrysostomos of Athens (Chrys)
True Orthodox Church of Greece under Abp Nicholas of Athens (Matt)
Autonomous True Orthodox Metropolia of Western Europe and America (West)
True Orthodox Synod under Kirykos of Mesogaia (Kirk)
Synod in Resistance under Metropolitan Cyprian of Fili (Cyp)
Holy Orthodox Church in North America (HOCNA)
Russian True Orthodox Church under Archbishop Tikhon of Omsk (RTOC)
Russian Orthodox Autonomous Church under Metropolitan Valentine of Suzdal (ROAC)
Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia under Archbishop Vladimir of San Fransisco (ROCIE)
Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia under Metropolitan Agafangel of Odessa (ROCOR-A)
*Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia under Archbishop Anthony of San Fransisco (ROCIE-A)
*True Orthodox Church of Greece under Abp Makarios of Athens (Mak)

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Joy Comes In The Morning

"Weeping may last for a night but...

I knew that with our leaving Antioch we would be subjected to a myriad of reactions. For those who have not waded through "Why We Left...Where We Went...", we did not tell anyone we were leaving or the reasons for our decision and only sent a letter to the leaders of the church after the fact. In this we hoped to remain free of accusation that we had "caused trouble" or any such vain or false imagination. All was relatively quiet for a few weeks, then I posted the article, again to squelch any rumors by giving a measured and thorough explanation as to how we had reached our decision. Most understood the intent of the post. Others did not. Some encouraged us. Others slammed us. With the tumult of the Antiochian diocese surrounding the embattled Metropolitan Philip, the attention to our leaving seemed to die down. My family settled into a wonderful routine of prayer and seeking. We connected with a priest who has given us counsel, guidance and support on our way to the Genuine and True Churches. Lately we have been receiving through various unsolicited sources, more reaction to our leaving. A new wave of reaction if you will. For some reason the nature of these reactions worsened in their derogatory tone. There are more personal accusations, character assassinations and the like. Our new priest friend suggested that "Over time the attacks just become comical. When people go to the level of psycologizing it's especially entertaining; they will come up with all sorts of reasons why you've made the choice you did, without ever bothering to really ask you personally or dig deeper."

That aside, this is anything but a woe is me post. I have no desire to be a martyr...yet. But, considering the content of the responses, one would think that the Lewis' are the most miserable, lonely, isolated, pseudo-orthodox on the planet. One would especially think that of my wife and daughters since there is a false assumption that somehow I have forced them into subjectively making them follow me to certain unwanted paths of spiritual destruction. One of my daughters recently received a communication from an Antiochian priest telling her, "I know you are only doing what you have been made to understand. So I certainly don't fault you..." Such presumptuous remarks irk me somewhat but they particularly irk my wife and daughters who wonder how people could think so little of their ability to hear and follow God as individuals. No matter how often we say that our family came to this decision together, some must find blame somewhere, so it usually falls on me. In the words of the worst actor who ever lived, "I pity the fool" who thinks that my wife and daughters are push-overs who can't think for themselves. The simple fact is I have a wonderful, Godly wife of 29 years and intelligent God-fearing daughters who seek the truth every bit as much as I do. I am blessed.

So, I have good news for all those who think that the Lewis' must be the most miserable of souls dwelling in the depths of despair...

We have Joy!

Even with the pressure of transition and the waves of criticism, we still laugh around the house, eat our meals together, spend hours talking and studying together, watch movies, go on walks, wash the cars, walk the dog and the cat who thinks he is a dog, and laugh some more. Most of all we regularly say the prayers and worship together. The true source of our current state of joy is our hope in our Lord and the fact that we are nearing the moment of our Holy Baptism.

Joy! Joy! Joy!

Granted we aren't always happy with the situations that surround us but...

We have joy!

So, take a moment to join me in the following rendition of "I've got the joy". It will do you some good. It's not Byzantine chant but you can dance to it! (unless you are Baptist :) comes in the morning."

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

A Convert Of The Doctrine of "Once Saved, Always Saved"

"Maybe soon, I will see God and Jesus. At least that is what I was told. Eternal life does NOT depend on works. If it did, we will all be in hell," Sodini apparently wrote, before adding later, "I was reading the Bible and The Integrity of God beginning yesterday, because soon I will see them."

If the doctrine of "Once Saved, Always Saved" is true then the words of this murderer are true and he is now in heaven enjoying the rewards of paradise. Of course, not being able to rationalize the fact that this man, George Sodini, walked into a Pennsylvania gym and shot dead four women and wounded 10 others then killing himself, proponents of this Protestant, mainly Baptist, doctrine will quickly say, "Well he wasn't saved to begin with." How convenient.

"Many believe that once they have made an Altar Call (Profession of Faith) that they are assured of Heaven. Those who have such a belief should carefully examine the following Bible passages."
  1. Saint Paul: "Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off." KJV - Romans 11:22
  2. Saint Paul: "I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway. KJV - 1 Cor. 9:26-27
  3. Saint Paul: "Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall." KJV - 1 Cor. 10:12
  4. Saint Paul: "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad." KJV - 2 Cor. 5:10
  5. Saint Paul: "Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling." KJV - Philip. 2:12
  6. 1st Corinthians 15:2 states, that vain is the belief of those who go against the word of God.
  7. 1st John 1:6 states, "If we say, "We have fellowship with `Jesus'," while we continue to walk in darkness, we lie & do not act in truth.
  8. 1st John 2:15 & 16 - If anyone loves sensual lust, enticements of the eyes, or a pretentious life, the love of God the Father is not in him.
  9. 1st John 3:9 & 15 says, "No one begotten by God commits sin", & "that no murderer has eternal life remaining in him".
    begotten: used in the sense of having been acquired by, permanently committed too.
  10. Romans 8:7-8 "For the concern of the flesh is hostility toward God; it does not submit to the law of God, nor can it; and those who are in the flesh cannot please God."
  11. Hebrews 10:26-29 "If we sin deliberately after receiving knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains sacrifice for sins but a fearful prospect of judgment and a flaming fire that is going to consume the adversaries. Anyone who rejects the law of Moses is put to death without pity on the testimony of two or three witnesses. Do you not think that a much worse punishment is due the one who has contempt for the Son of God, considers unclean the covenant-blood by which he was consecrated, and insults the spirit of grace?"
  12. 2 Peter 2:20-21 "For if they, having escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of (our) Lord and savior Jesus Christ, again become entangled and overcome by them, their last condition is worse than their first. For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment handed down to them."
  13. Hebrews 4:6-7 "Therefore, since it remains that some will enter into it, and those who formerly received the good news did not enter because of disobedience, he once more set a day, "today," when long afterwards he spoke through David, as already quoted: "Oh, that today you would hear his voice: 'Harden not your hearts.' "
  14. Hebrews 6:4-6 "For it is impossible in the case of those who have once been enlightened and tasted the heavenly gift and shared in the holy Spirit and tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, to bring them to repentance again, since they are recrucifying the Son of God for themselves and holding him up to contempt."
  15. Hebrews 4:2 "For in fact we have received the good news just as they did. But the word that they heard did not profit them, for they were not united in faith with those who listened."
  16. Hebrews 12:4-13 "In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood. You have also forgotten the exhortation addressed to you as sons: "My son, do not disdain the discipline of the Lord or lose heart when reproved by him; for whom the Lord loves, he disciplines; he scourges every son he acknowledges." Endure your trials as "discipline"; God treats you as sons. For what "son" is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are without discipline, in which all have shared, you are not sons but bastards. Besides this, we have had our earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them. Should we not (then) submit all the more to the Father of spirits and live? They disciplined us for a short time as seemed right to them, but he does so for our benefit, in order that we may share his holiness. At the time, all discipline seems a cause not for joy but for pain, yet later it brings the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who are trained by it. So strengthen your drooping hands and your weak knees. Make straight paths for your feet, that what is lame may not be dislocated but healed."

Monday, August 03, 2009

Why I am Not A Part Of "World Orthodoxy"

"The essence of World Orthodoxy is collaboration with the Spirit of this world and with Anti-Christ institutions that now control worldly life. I'll say it again...The essence of World Orthodoxy is collaboration with this world and the ruler of this world who's the devil and the institutions the devil is using to prepare the reign of the Anti-Christ."

Part Two

Part Three

Part Four